Story Excerpt
Heart Song

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“I’m heading home, Dr. Hart. Is there anything you need before I leave?” 

Darren Hart glanced up from the papers he was working on to smile at the perky little blonde. “No, Chrissy, I’m good. I’m just going to finish up this paperwork, do another pass through the kennel, and then head home myself.”

“Don’t stay too long, Dr. Hart. You need your rest as much as the rest of us.”

Darren chuckled. He held up his hand, two fingers pressed up and together. “Scout’s honor.”

“You were never a scout, Dr. Hart.” Chrissy giggled.

“No, but I wanted to be.” Darren chuckled again, shaking his head as he looked back down at the papers on his desk. “They had some awesome uniforms.”

“Okay, on that note, I’m out of here.” Chrissy laughed. “‘Night, Dr. Hart.”

“Goodnight, Chrissy, drive safe. I’ll see you Monday, bright and early.”

Darren listened to Chrissy leave, the distinct sound of the front door locking behind her. He liked his veterinarian assistant. She was a good kid, although a tad giggly at times.

Still, choosing Chrissy before she finished school to be his assistant was one of the best decisions he ever made. Chrissy worked hard, loved the animals they worked on, and she seemed to have a special affinity for them.

The biggest plus was that Chrissy never gave Darren any crap about being gay. Darren made it clear about that the day he hired her. He wanted his workplace to be a happy place to work. He refused to work with people that would put him down or make fun of him because he was gay. He had enough of that in school and growing up. Now that he owned and operated his own veterinarian clinic, he refused to deal with it if he could help it.

“She really is a cutie, isn’t she?”

Darren rolled his eyes, refusing to answer the voice in his head. He knew it was a figment of his imagination. The doctors said so, every damn last one of them he’d been forced to go to since he first heard the voice.

Logically, Darren knew the voice was a symptom of his psychosis due to the head injury he suffered ten years before while on a hiking trip. At first, he’d taken the medications the doctors prescribed him, but after awhile he decided to just live with the voice. He hated the medications. They made him woozy and filled his head with a fog that made it hard to do just about everything. Not taking the medication meant the voice was always there. Sometimes Darren listened and talked back, usually when he was tired or lonely, but frequently he just tried to ignore it.

“Not talking to me today, Dary?”

“I’m working.”

“You work too hard, my love.”

“I am not your love!”

Darren gritted his teeth, trying not to scream in frustration. He’d been over this before with the voice in his head, a voice that was kind enough to give himself the name Asher.

A part of Darren found it strange that the psychosis in his head had a separate personality from him, considering it was all in his imagination. Maybe he had a split personality or something.

“Ah, but you are my love, Dary. You will always be my love.”

“Asher, look, you—”

Darren’s head snapped up when he heard a noise outside his office. Dropping his pen to his desk, he climbed to his feet and walked to the doorway of his office. Looking left and right, Darren couldn’t see anything out of place.

A short walk down the hallway took him to the lobby of his veterinary clinic. The lights were off, but there was enough light shining in from the parking lot that he could see a small cardboard box sitting several feet outside of the doorway.

“What the hell is that?” he whispered to himself, forgetting his voice could hear him speak.

“Darren, what’s going on?” Asher asked.

“There’s a cardboard box outside the front door.”

“Darren, stay inside,” Asher virtually shouted into Darren’s head. “Don’t open the door.”

“It’s just a cardboard box.”

Darren walked to the door and reached for the lock. It wasn’t unusual for people to drop kittens or puppies off at his front door during the night. He was used to it and figured it was just another box of pets. But as he started to unlock the door, a shadow crossed the pavement from one side of the building. Darren paused and tried to get a better look. He couldn’t quite make out what it was, but it seemed to have four legs.

“Darren, what’s going on?”

“I think there’s something outside, a dog maybe.”

“Please, Darren, stay inside.”

Darren rolled his eyes and unlocked the door, pushing it open. “You’re being ridiculous. It’s just a dog or something. Besides, if there are kittens or puppies out here, you know I can’t leave them there.”

Darren started to step out the door when the shadow suddenly took shape. It was the biggest damn dog Darren had ever seen. A shadow from the other side of the building caught Darren’s attention as it stepped into view. Damn, the dog had a friend.

“Okay, maybe going outside isn’t such a good idea.”


“Those are the biggest damn dogs I have ever seen.” Darren looked a little closer through the glass as the two dogs growled at him, baring their teeth. “Actually, I don’t think they are dogs at all. Asher, do you think it’s possible for wild wolves to be this far inside the city limits?”

“Darren, please, love, don’t go outside.”

“Yeah, I’m thinking staying inside is a good idea.”