Story Contest 2018 #1 Results » Highly Commended - Junior Category

Aoibhín Ó Sioradáin

“Buster” by Aoibhín Ó Sioradáin, Ireland, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2018.

Buster

Hi! You’re probably wondering what I’m doing upside down (in my house.) Well, Maisy has installed a metalbar across my entire den! At first, I was cross, because what’s the use of a metal bar? But then I jumped upand held onto the bar with my mouth, got my paws up and swung my hind legs up. Now I can walk on it like a tight rope. I’m quite good at it actually. Anyway, life’s fabso, you know. Ok, so I live in a great house with lots of secret passing of veggies under the table. The baby always has food under her highchair. I get two walks a day. Maisy is too young to walk me on her own so she normally walks me, with her Mum, Rita.

“BUSSTEEERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!” Oops! They must have found my little “accident” by the artificial tree! Now in fairness, they should have remembered to give me a time-out in the garden, after Rita gave me so much water. Instead they closed and locked the door for the night!Ah well, time to put on my “I’m just an adorable, lovable and innocent pooch” face.

“Buster, do you think that our house is a bog or something?” It goes on like that for about half an hour. No wait, five minutes, hold on… is the BIG hand the hour or…? Never mind. I’m a dog, I’m not good at telling what time it is. All I know is that, it was a long time ago. Eventually Maisy came out to see what all the kerfuffle was about. “And as for you, young lady,” said Rita turning on her heel as if she had eyes on the back of her head. Maisy looked as if, she’d wet her pants! Her face screwed up and she ran into the sitting room bawling. Rita watched as Maisy ran away. She let out a deep sigh “Huuh!!!!! Oh Buster, what am I going to do with you?” Then she did a slow-mo head-shake.

“WAAAAA!!!!” Well, that’s my waking call.

“Shh Ramona,” said Ian (Maisy’s stepdad). Ramona is the baby, well, technically she’s a toddler, but Rita just won’t let go.

“Yawn! …uh, it was a tough night.” Maisy is still refusing to talk to Rita. This morning Rita tried to make it up to Maisy. “Well hello there, how is my special 8-year-old?”

“Oh, why hello Mother.” She said her name as if it left a bad taste in her mouth. Maisy gave Rita a stone-cold look that could cut through you like a dagger. I trotted across the kitchen tiles and snuggled into Maisy’s arm. She looked at me with killer eyes but she relaxed a bit when she saw that it was just me. “Okay Buster, do you want a waffle? Okay. Sit, roll over. Good boy!” Maisy threw the waffle up in the air and I caught it (with my mouth obviously!)

“Maisy you are not supposed to give himhuman food” said Ian. “ActuallyIan, he’s called Buster and my real Dad would have let me,” said Maisy. “Listen young lady, I don’t know where all this attitude is coming from but I…” Ian stopped. When I looked up from Maisy’s lap I saw why… Rita! Whenever Rita’s here, Ian is extra ‘sweet’ to us. “What’s going on here guys?” asked Rita. She had just come back from the sitting room. “Oh nothing much,” said Ian ruffling Maisy’s head quite gruffly. “Owww,” squealed Maisy. Ian was about to do the same to me… except I growled and bared my teeth. “Ok then,” said Ian putting his hand in his pockets.

Maisy has just come back from school and she seems to be in a better mood. She had something small bundled in her left arm. “Oh hey boy!!” My ears droop (they had been up). “That’s it, no hugs, no games and most importantly no treats!”. “Wroof wroof,” I bark impatiently. “Calm down Buster,” says Maisy as she takes my collar with her finger and drags me outside. “Whimper”. SLAM!

What just happened? Maisy’s never been fed up with me before. Plop! Huh? Oh no, it’s starting to rain. Now it’s lashing and now I’m soaked. Maisy can see it’s raining but she obviously doesn’t care. Well, how rude. Maisy doesn’t even give me a glance until it’s dinner time. when Rita says, “Oh poor Buster, Maisy why didn’t you bring him in?” she asks. Maisy wasn’t even listening. I barked to show I agreed with Rita. “Shush Mum, you’ll wake her,” said Maisy. Wake who? I wondered. So I trotted over to Maisy and there was the most horrifying sight known to Dog. There, on Maisy’s lap, was an adorable little puppy!

A few weeks have gone by and I still can’t believe that Maisy replaced me. She says it’s just one teeny weeny puppy… Or it was but now it’s almost taller than me. In case you’re wondering, it’s a girl. She’s called Chocolate Muffin. I know, what a name! I think Maisy named her that because she was just hungry!

“Mum, will you take Buster for a walk?” begged Maisy. Rita said okay but just because she was feeling sick. Huh, as soon as Rita and I are out of the house she’s just gonna play with Chocolate Muffin. Uh, it sickens me! “Come on Buster,” called Rita. As we were walking I saw my best friend – well, she was my second best friend until Maisy got all paly with Chocolate Muffin – Princess. The Princess quietly came over to me, though I could see in her eyes that she was ready to go galloping. Princess is a poodle, her owners think she is an angel to behold! Really, I mean an angel?! She’s as fierce as a dragon and as fiery as… well, a fire I guess? Samuel, Princess’s butler, stopped to talk to Rita. “Hey Buster!” giggled Princess excitedly. “I haven’t seen you in forever!” Which was technically true, she hadn’t seen me in a long time because Maisy was always refusing to walk me. “Listen Buster, I have a great plan,” said Princess, “I know you might not be the most loved pet... Right now,” she added quickly, “but I know how to help you”. I looked at her. She wasn’t exactly the type of pup who would be picked for the role of Tarzan! “So when everyone’s asleep, we will creep out and then there will be a train coming at… um… that time” said Princess and sauntered off.

Well, everyone’s asleep and Princess is waiting outside. CREAK!! Ooh I forgot that floorboard is creaky. Did a door just open? It must be my imagination playing tricks. My body feels a lot heavier than usual… hmmm, ah well? I bound softly butquickly to the front door, wiggle through my cat-flap though it’s more of a struggle than usual, because something was wedged on my back. Princess was hopping from paw to paw with excitement. “BUSTER HURRY!” She barked rapidly.

She hurtled off at the speed of lightning without any warning, so I chased after her. In the distance I could see a train taking off. I realised that all the doors were shut. so no one on the train could go flying off but it also meant there was no way of getting onto the train. My fur was being pulled by something clinging on to my back. As we caught up with the train, wind bellowing in our faces, some people on the train were looking at usand gaping, others started screaming and pushing the emergency buttons. We were coming to a cliff and there was a bridge but it was only designed for a train and it was too thin for Princess, me and the train to go at once. But there was a major problem. Princess and I had been running too fast and could not slow down. My heart was beating so loudly that I could hear it throbbing in my ears. I closed my eyes and waited for the end to come. It sounded as though Princess was doing the same, panting out warm air that showed in the coldness of the night. There I was, whizzing so fast towards the edge of the cliff, the end of my life, and it had ended so miserably. I heard a click and then a hand reached out and pulled me to safety. I can’t tell you exactly what happened after that, as I was unconscious for several days.

When I awoke I saw a soft light warming my face. A figure came into the light and called my name. “Buster”. That was my name, wasn’t it? The figure was blurry and then snapped into its proper shape. Maisy... Maisy was there, Rita was there, Ian was there. Ramona…. Ramona was there, her cheeky smile shining and her warm auburn eyes sparkling like little gems. She gave a babyish cackle. Which was expected, because she was a baby (well, toddler, really).

Later, I found out what had happened. Ramona had got out of her bed and held onto my tail. Of course, I was much too focused to realise at that time. She had clung onto my back the whole time. People on the train had seen Ramona and forced open the train doors. They had grabbed me and Ramona, but sadly did not manage to catch Princess. I will tell you now that if you think that dogs can’t cry, then you are hugely mistaken, my friend, for I cried for weeks on end. But I found my person. Ramona. And I will protect her with my life because Princess sacrificed herself for me.

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