Drabblecast cover for I Will Remain by Aaron SiddallToday the Drabblecast brings you “I Will Remain” by David Steffen. It’s a show for all our weird listeners out there that are dog people…maybe literally.

Yes, it’s a ruff day in paradise. (Oh yeah, we’re barking up the dog pun tree.) We think you’ll thank us when you hear what we’ve unleashed.

The author of today’s feature lives in Minnesota with his two dogs. He owns and maintains Diabolical Plots, which has been publishing nonfiction and fiction for a decade. Their Submission Grinder is a free-to-use web tool that helps writers find new markets for their work, find per-market submission response data, and track their submissions.

Story Excerpt:

I am not insane. I wondered, at first, whether I was simply a dog dreaming he was a man, but if that were true I wouldn’t understand English or recall the sights of London. These things are too real to be mere fancies. I know many things a dog shouldn’t. Fragmented memories of life as a man mingle with recollections of my canine existence.


This week’s 100-word story is called “Good Dog” from Forum member Dreamrock:

Zeke wasn’t a bad dog. He didn’t pee on the carpets, bite children, or chase mailmen seriously enough to catch them.

It’s just that he couldn’t seem to learn commands. He’d come if you called, but he didn’t seem to think it was a specific command. He could sit if he felt like sitting, but he wouldn’t do it when anyone told him. No amount of treats helped.

Of course, they never tried “avert natural disaster!” until the fateful day it was necessary.

He leaped into the fray, commandeered computers, negotiated, hacked, and finally stopped the bombing.

Good dog, Zeke.

Join us on our Forums to enjoy more Drabbles from our community and to comment and submit your own!


This week’s twabble winner is UnseenTangerine, also from the Drabblecast Forums.

“Mr. Milan, you’re out of the dog show,” said the official.
“Why?” he objected.
“You used performance enhancing pugs.”


Okay, okay, we won’t hound you any more. The full story is printed below the player. Enjoy this rabid tail of canine intrigue:

Drabblecast 390 – I Will Remain


I Will Remain

by David Steffen

I am not insane. I wondered, at first, whether I was simply a dog dreaming he was a man, but if that were true I wouldn’t understand English or recall the sights of London. These things are too real to be mere fancies. I know many things a dog shouldn’t. Fragmented memories of life as a man mingle with recollections of my canine existence.

Emily rolls in her sleep and her arm flops off the bed to dangle by my face. She tosses and turns too much. Something troubles her.

She is my everything. She pats me behind the ears and calls me a Good Boy, but I would love her even if she ignored me. I will be her Good Boy for the rest of my life. I wish I could be more.

I see a hint of movement on the floor, a mouse, barely illuminated by the moonlight. I lift my nose ever so slightly and sniff. The creature pays me no mind, walking in a straight line for the bed.

It smells of the ocean, of salty sand and rotting fish. A strange scent for a land animal. The only other that I’ve smelled like this was the fox on the day of my last hunt, the hunt that precipitated my current lucid state. Before that hunt I had been an ordinary dog in every respect. I begin to drool. That fox tasted like nothing else I’ve ever eaten.

The mouse darts for Emily’s bed, but I am quicker. I crush it in my jaws and swallow it in one gulp. My mind effervesces like a glass of freshly poured champagne. Memories burst into my consciousness, memories of a life with Emily: a chance meeting at the opera, falling in love, picnics in a glade not far from her home. Our courting was the happiest time of my life.

My name was Ian.

The tingle is what I’d imagine opium would feel like, but I feel more lucid with each dose. If I can find others like the mouse and fox, then perhaps I can remember why I am here. If there are two, there must be more.


“Emily, dear, haven’t you grieved long enough?” Mrs. Wilkinson’s voice is level.

Emily’s hand pauses in its traversal of my back. “Eternity isn’t long enough, Mother.”

“You need to move on. Do you really think Ian would have wanted you to be unhappy the rest of your life?”

Emily’s hand runs across my back again. “I can put on a smile if it will soothe you, but I won’t be happy again until he and I are together in Heaven.”

“Two years is long enough. I don’t want you to end up a spinster.”

“Better a lonely spinster than a loveless marriage.”

Mrs. Wilkinson raises her voice. “Do you think your love for each other was so unique? The two of you were no different from any others!” Her voice lowers to a whisper. “Your father and I were like that once. Your life is not over. You will love again.”

“Our love is different.” She doesn’t say this in anger, only as a simple statement of fact.

Mrs. Wilkinson sighs. “At the least, you should have people for company instead of spending every waking moment cooped up with that dog. I will arrange outings for you, and you will attend. If you meet men there, you will give them a chance. Be civil, at the very least. Is that clear?”

“Of course, Mother.”

Mrs. Wilkinson bustles from the room, leaving me alone with Emily. She grunts in a very unladylike manner. “Why can’t she leave me be? Ian was perfect for me. There can be no replacement.”

I feel relief at her words and guilt at my relief. It is wrong to be happy at her unhappiness, but I can’t help it. If I were gone from this world like I should be, I would want her to move on, to find a new man. But I cannot stand the thought of her courting if I am bound here to watch. I crave a confessional, but it would do me no good in my current form. I lay my head in her lap and she scratches me behind the ears, my favorite spot.


A gunshot rings out, startling me. I jump to my feet, almost knocking Emily off her chair. The Master and his wife rise from the table.

“What in the world was that?” Mrs. Wilkinson says.

“I’d best find out.” The Master steps toward the door.

Emily rises.

“No, Emily, this is man’s business. Stay here. Finish eating.”

Emily sits down, a little too hard.

The Master steps out and I follow him quietly. He enters the parlor just long enough to grab his rifle off the wall. His eyes meet mine when he comes back out, but he waves me along.

Morning dew dampens my paws as I trot along behind him around the perimeter of the house. The first thing I see is a man dressed in working clothes, chest bare. His blood-soaked shirt is bundled around one hand, held in place by the other. A shotgun lies at his feet. He sobs deeply.

The air smells of blood and gunpowder and something else. Something out of place. I take another few steps before I discern it as the same rotten scent I’d found on the mouse. I’ve come to think of as the Bad Smell.

I begin to drool, remembering the impossibly compelling flavor. The odor isn’t coming from the worker. By the outer wall of the house is a dead body lying face down, a man in a suit. His back is a bloody mess from a shotgun blast. His clothes are torn and the skin underneath is covered in scratches.

The Master runs to the worker’s side. “What happened, man? Are you badly injured?”

“He wouldn’t stop. I tried to stop him but he wouldn’t—”

“All will be well. Tell me what happened from the beginning.”

As they talk, I inch closer to the dead body. The smell tickles my nose, and I lick the air.

“I was out working the western fields when I saw this man walking straight toward the house. I shouted after him to stop, but he didn’t listen. I followed after him, shouting some more. I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t even look at me.”

I sniff the body. A china doll lies pinned under its arm, an unlikely accessory for an intruder.

“I didn’t know who he was or what he was doing. He’s dressed awfully nice for a criminal, but he wouldn’t listen. I was afraid of what he might do to the women, sir.”

The Master turns away from me now, looking at the young man. I lick the open wound, and my brain tingles. I grab a mouthful of meat, and pull slowly, tearing it free as quietly as I can. The Master is too enrapt in the story to notice.

“I grabbed his shoulder and tried to hold him back, but he just kept on going, digging in his feet and pulling me along. I didn’t know what else to do so I struck him square in the face. That knocked him down, right enough, but the bugger got right back up and started walking again. He didn’t even seem to notice his broken nose.”

I resist the urge to grab another mouthful. The Master will notice if I eat too much. I don’t want him to know I’m a Bad Boy.

“I stepped in front of him, and this time he finally looked at me, and his eyes looked like he’d gone feral. I tried to strike him again, but he caught my hand. He grabbed it and bit my damned finger off!” The man pauses. “Excuse my language, sir. Well, after that, I wasn’t taking no chances. I knew you kept a gun out in the stables so I grabbed that and I used it, sir.”

The Master pats him on the shoulder. “You’ve done nothing wrong. Go, wash your hand. I’ll have someone take you to the doctor.”

The young man nods and walks off. The Master turns and I face away to hide the bloodstains on my face. I hear him step over to the body and stop for a few minutes. Then he walks away around the edge of the house.

I dart a glance. I am alone. I tear another chunk of meat from the corpse. The part of me that is dog screams that I am a Bad Boy, and the part of me that is human cries in despair for the terrible sin I am committing. But my hunger drives me on. I take another bite, then another, and another. Buckshot lodges in my gums and scraps of cloth catch in my teeth, but I pay them no heed.

I remember. Emily and I were married. Her father gave us a wonderful wedding gift, a trip to America, the adventure of a lifetime.

I remember. We’d waited, like the good Christians we were, until our wedding night to know each other in the Biblical sense. The night was embarrassing and awkward, but wonderful. I have never felt clumsier.

I remember. I was so proud of my new wife. I brought her everywhere with me, introduced her to everyone. She was so beautiful, so smart, so willful. She was as comfortable on a picnic in the glade, sitting on a blanket and shooing the squirrels away, as she was at the opera in her intricate dresses and with her elaborate hair styles. Nothing else mattered as long as I was by her side.

The sound of voices travels around the corner, breaking my reverie. I hadn’t realized I’d eaten so much; the man’s body is a mangled ruin. I struggle to run, but my distended stomach undulates beneath me. I settle for a fast waddle, and I escape out of sight before they turn the corner.

I force myself to keep moving until I reach the solitude of the grove, where I stretch out in the glade. Flopping to my side, I lay there a long while, maybe days, getting up only to defecate. Finally, the pain subsides and my belly shrinks from its grotesque size. I feel able to walk again, but I am still plastered in dried blood. I need to wash or they may think I’m a mad dog and shoot me.


I’ve never believed in reincarnation, but maybe my belief doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s something that just happens, like a bodily function, and your belief doesn’t matter one bit.

I thank God for every moment I spend with her. My time was up, yet here I am with her again. But I do wonder: why a dog? Perhaps He put me here as her guardian angel to protect her in her time of need.


There is the pond, waiting for me. When my feet touch the cold water, panic grips me. Fear freezes my joints in place, and I struggle to breathe. With a supreme effort I jump out into the water.

I cut through the deceptively smooth surface and the water closes over my head like the lid of a tomb. Half-remembered memories flash through my mind: mountains of ice rushing by on either side, impact, screams, the world teetering on edge, and then the cold void going on forever and ever.

My muscles convulse and I thrash to the surface. In that moment, my mind is empty of everything but the desperate need to get out of the water. Nothing has ever felt so good as the ground beneath my feet at this moment.

A few rolls in the grass wipe the remaining blood away, and then I run from the cold, dead eye of the pond.


“If God exists, then he’s powerless or apathetic. No just God could let people fall in love and then tear them away from each other.”

She is talking to no one but me, thinking that I don’t understand. I am happy to play the role of confessor, though I don’t like to hear Emily talk this way. In the darkness of her bedroom, her words seem to become tangible things, bogeymen lurking in corners. I shiver, despite the night’s warmth. Please, God, don’t hold her words against her.

“The church talks about His master plan, but it’s all rubbish. They don’t know anything. They’re just babes in the woods, looking for reassurances.”

If only I could speak, so I could tell her I’m by her side through thick and thin. I lick her hand and she strokes my ears until her breathing slows and a tiny snore escapes her lips.

Something thumps against the window and flaps and flutters against the glass. A bird or a bat trying to gain access to Emily’s room. More and more animals have been acting strangely.

I suspect that Emily is the reason for all of this. All of the strange animals and the strange man are coming straight for her with unflagging determination. I cannot fathom the reason for their strange behavior, but whatever the cause, I know my course. God put me here to protect her. I will not fail.

A second thump sounds at the window, followed by the sounds of birds fighting, terrible squawks and shrieks. Then silence. Whatever drives these creatures to seek her does not cause them to cooperate. If two of them cross paths they fight to the death, but no matter how many lie dead, there are always more.

I eat the bodies when I can and regain more and more of my lost life.


I stand guard in her room every night and patrol the grounds restlessly when she is away on her social engagements. I would go insane if I did nothing but wait in her room, never knowing if she will return to tell me of newfound love.

So I patrol. I find the Bad Smell wherever I go. The lines of scent radiate out from the house in a lopsided sunburst. Most extend to the west, so I rove to that side of the house, watching for fresh trails. If it carries the Bad Smell, I kill it and eat it.

Over several weeks I find more humans that carry the Bad Smell: three men and two women, each carrying a china doll. Killing them is easy. They pay no attention to me until I jump at them, knocking them flat on their backs. I tear out their throats and gorge myself on their meat. My obligation to Emily is the only thing that allows me to stop eating before I am immobilized by my greed. I will do Emily no good if I’m killed by a beast as I lay bloated and helpless. I bury the china dolls in the glade. When I go back to check the body a few hours later, there is nothing left but bones.


Every night Emily calls me up onto the bed. She tells me about her day, and the men who have come to call on her. Some are crass, or pompous, or just boring. She tells it all in a level tone; there isn’t a hint of attraction in her voice that I can detect.

She confides in me. I know there’s nothing personal about it, that she’s using me like a diary. But I can’t help feeling there’s more significance to it than that.

One night she returns, and something has changed. The Bad Smell trails behind her, but weakly. She is not the source, but she has been touching something that smells of it. Frustration and anger at this betrayal well up inside me. How can I protect her from those things if she seeks them out while she’s away?
She walks past me without the customary head pat and undresses as if in a trance before lying down. When I jump up to join her, she looks up in mild surprise. After a moment she pats the bed to tell me to sit.

“Do you believe in Heaven? I don’t. Not anymore. How do we know it’s really there? What if life on Earth is your only chance at happiness? You owe it to yourself to make this life the best it can be. Otherwise you’ve just wasted it.”

I wag my tail uneasily.

“I met a man today. His name is Walter. He’s different from the others. He is polite, kind, thoughtful. His nose is too large, but he’s handsome despite it.”

My stomach lurches. She’s going to move on, and I’ll be helpless to do anything. I want to lie down and die.

“He reminds me of Ian. The two of them could have been friends in a different life, a different world. I can’t wait for you to meet him. He loves dogs.”

She pets me a while longer before speaking again. “If there is a Heaven, will Ian be waiting there for me? What if I marry Walter? Who would I be with in Heaven? Both? Neither? Either answer seems ludicrous. Perhaps my soul will be split in two and each half will live happily with just one man.”

After she falls asleep, I slip off the bed and pace the room. What can I do? The answer is simple. I can do nothing. They will marry or they won’t, and I can’t do a damned thing. I will stay to protect her either way, but if they marry then my presence here will turn from blessing to curse.


Walter is one of them. A dense cloud of Bad Smell surrounds him like a cloud. When he bends to pet me, I must clench my teeth to keep from biting. I would be doing Emily a favor to kill him, but she wouldn’t like it. She might even have me killed.

“Scratch him behind his ears,” she says. “He’ll be your friend for life.”

I suffer him to scratch behind my ears for just a moment. That’s my favorite spot. Only Emily touches me there. I tilt my head away from him to get away from his hand. He reaches with the other hand and I snap at him, teeth clicking shut mere inches from his extended digits. If Emily weren’t there, I would relieve him of a finger, maybe two.

“Bad boy!” she says. “We don’t bite.”

I slink away, tail between my legs.


“I’m going for a walk,” Walter says. I’ve spent the afternoon hiding behind the sofa, where I can listen without being subjected to his petting.

“I’ll go with you!” she replies, and the fondness in her tone sickens me.

“No, I’m sorry, dear, but I wish to be alone with my thoughts.”

This is my chance! I wait until he has been gone for several minutes before slipping out of the house and following his trail.

Instead of traveling along the road like I’d expected, he walks north, straight as an arrow to the very same grove that holds the glade where Emily and I used to picnic. He passes through the trees into the quiet space beyond. Out here there are no witnesses. My mouth waters in anticipation.

I peer at him from behind the cover of a tree. He stands in the glade, facing away from me. Why is he here? I wonder, but I can’t afford to waste this God-given opportunity. I leave the tree cover and tense to pounce. I will knock him down and tear his neck open.

As I jump, he spins, revolver in hand. He’s a half-second too slow. I knock him to the ground and the gun fires. The bullet misses, though I can feel its heat brush my ribs. My teeth close around his esophagus and tear it away, strings of flesh stretching and snapping.

As I gulp down the chunk of meat, an explosion rings out in the clearing, and a stabbing pain tears through my gut. The man’s body convulses as he chokes on his own blood and then his body goes limp.

My own blood pours out of the wound in my side. I am not dead yet, but I won’t live much longer. Already I feel weak, but the Bad Smell draws me even in my final minutes. I grip his shirt and pull, opening it in a spray of popped buttons. My teeth dig into the soft meat of his belly and I feast.

Sparks and flashes of light fill my vision. This meat is worlds richer than any of the others I’ve eaten. His memories fill my brain as his blood fills my stomach.

I remember. The china doll I bought Emily after our wedding, a promise of the children we would have.

I remember. Our last goodbyes as she boarded the life boat. I promised her I would follow on a later boat, a promise we both knew I couldn’t keep. I kissed her one last time and pried her white-knuckled hand off my arm.

I remember. My death. I jumped ship as the great vessel went under and I crashed into the freezing water. My last words were a murmured prayer to see Emily again. I wore a life preserver, but the water was cold and I had always been a thin man. My body succumbed very quickly to hypothermia.

I remember. What came after. There was no glowing tunnel of light, no choirs of angels, but neither was there fire and brimstone. Apart from the ceasing of my bodily functions, nothing changed. I remained aware as my body bobbed along like a piece of driftwood. I saw the others around me scooped out of the water, first the living, and then the dead. They missed me.

Time passed. My body rotted and fish picked at my legs. With each bite, they carried away a bit of my body, and also a bit of my mind. My consciousness fragmented into hundreds of tiny pieces, each holding a fraction of my memories, but every single one of them held my love for Emily, my need to see her again, to hold her in my arms.

These creatures began a mass migration toward England, to Emily’s home. The fragments of my mind were too stupid to understand their shared goals, only aware of their own drives, their new set of instincts. Along the way, many died, but when their bodies were eaten by other animals, those animals each became one of me as well.

The man and dog are one and the same, merely the two largest pieces of the same puzzle. Together, I am nearly complete again. With each bite, he and I become we become me.

We… no, I have made a terrible mistake. If man or dog had proved victorious, then we both would have lived on in the remaining body, more complete than either of us had been alone. With the man dead and the dog dying, we have no body to inhabit.

I will survive this, after a fashion, as I have before, but what of Emily? The greatest loss will be hers. Another lover dead in the prime of his life, and her favorite pet gone with him. Our bones will be picked clean of every scrap of meat by the time they find us, but they may recognize the man by scraps of his clothes.

My belly bloated with the man’s meat, I collapse and do not rise again. My breathing stops, but I am still aware.

One day, Emily will die and pass on to Heaven. Will I? Or will I simply pass from body to body, an eternal parasite? I whisper a prayer that I may one day reach Heaven. No one answers. The carrion and the scavengers come in droves and fight each other for the right to eat. Each of the victors takes a bit of me with it, and I am scattered once more.