An Equivalent Mass

A black lab with a grey muzzle

Content warning: this story contains depictions of abused animals. (And comeuppance. If depictions of abused animals upset you — that’s ok! They should! — feel free to not-read knowing the bastard gets what’s coming to him.)

The three animals stepped into the clearing in the woods: a siamese cat with a bit of airs about her, a young pit bull who was a bit too excited to be lost, and an old Labrador retriever. Clearly someone’s beloved pets, all three looked bedraggled and, though not badly injured, certainly unhappy.

The cat stopped suddenly and sat down, looking at the two dogs as if they had straight up lost their minds. The pit bull balked as well. The log cabin that stood in front of them didn’t look safe. The southern end’s roof had collapsed and a tree grown up in the space. The northern end was leaning dangerously to the left. The porch roof looked scorched by fire.

The Labrador paused with the others for a moment. The animals exchanged looks. The lab, not convinced by the others’ concerns, stepped forward to lead the way.

As they approached the house, a brick fell off the chimney and smashed on the ground. The cat jumped up on top of the pit bull and refused to climb back down even after the pittie shook himself.

The animals climbed the rickety stairs onto the porch. They stared at the door.

A middle-aged woman stood on the other side of a crooked brown storm door. “Lost in the woods, huh? Family lives three hundred away, over the mountains? And you want to get home?”

She stared at them for a moment, then sighed. “Come on in.” She swung the screen door open.

The lab pawed at the air.

“No, I’m not a goddess, I’m a witch. I don’t care what the Saint Bernard told you… you’ll understand the difference soon enough.”

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