The Black Dog Cometh

By Benjamin Hayes

sfgenreAlthough the initial results were promising, Alex Beam began experiencing some unexpected side effects. He consulted his general practitioner about his terrible mood swings, during which time the emotion repressor underwent some technical examinations itself, in its country of origin.

His doctor, a timid man, sat behind his desk. He scrolled through pages of literature people and organisations had published about the so-called miracle device on the internet.

“Well, Dr Warner?” Alex asked anxiously.

“One moment, please.”

Alex noticed Dr Warner’s eyes scanning the troubleshoot chapters of the emotion repressor’s instruction book, unblinking. Alex’s first reaction to the ineffectiveness of the device had also led him to read the instruction book. So much of it seemed like jargon, though.

Dr Warner looked up, sweating. “I believe there is very little I can do for you, Mr Beam. You may experience a flurry of emotions, those that you have previously repressed with the device. Take my advice, Mr Beam, and isolate yourself from society for a year or two.”

“Are you kidding?”

“I’m afraid not,” Dr Warner said.

Alex stood up, angered. “I slept with your wife,” he said, scowling.

“Don’t play games with me, Mr Beam.”

Alex left the premises, crying, for his home. Everyone whom crossed paths with Alex along the street thought him to be rather gullible. Not sure of the word’s meaning, Alex eventually took the initiative at the nearest library, and referred to a dictionary to understand everyone’s opinion about him.

Since discovering its definition, he began to believe what everyone had been saying all along. Yes, he certainly seemed the gullible type.

“Do you really think I’m gullible?” he asked the next stranger on the street.

“Oh, sure.”

“I knew it.”

The stranger smiled, tilted back his fedora, and shook Alex’s hand. “It’s you, isn’t it? Oh, I heard what they’ve been saying.”

Alex began to laugh, and then hugged the man around his midriff. “Tell Dr Warner I know what he’s up to. I’m not an idiot. Oh, by the way, I slept with your wife.”

“Let me go, you idiot.”

“You really think I’m an idiot?” Alex left the stranger to gather his thoughts, sprinting for home to upload his emotions into the emotion repressor. The emotion repressor, at first, seemed like a novelty, something he thought of as a joke. Of course, the joke was on him.

Alex turned the device over in his sweating hand, shivering. The device, a small rectangular thing, which easily fitted in his palm, and which people often mistook for an expensive cigarette lighter, directly caused many to go insane.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Alex said to himself. He ransacked his home, often stopping to rest in the empty bathtub, exhausted. After a violent physical outburst in which he offended mostly himself, Alex picked up the telephone to ring the toll-free customer phone number.

The receptionist said, “Hello. How may I help you?”

“I’d like to place an order,” he said.

“Okay.”

“Send over a case of your finest whisky... immediately!”

“Is this an emergency?”

Alex peered down at the emotion repressor in his clammy hand, its amber light blinking. Stamped to the base of the device read, Made in China. “Yes,” Alex said, “it most certainly is.”

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About The Author

Benjamin Hayes

Benjamin Hayes was born in Western Australia in 1979, and he has seldom ventured far from home. In 2008, he won the Australian Horror Writers’ Association flash story competition for “The Exchange.” It was featured in the anthology, Award Winning Australian Writing, 2009. He is especially pleased to have had several stories included in AntipodeanSF, such as “Poor Mrs Rosenbaum” and most recently, “Fortune Favours the Brave.”

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