Written by Jia Zhang
The dream is always the same.
At least, he thinks it's a dream. At times, he could no longer asunder himself from the eidolon of his psyche. Whether he was on the floor, or imbedded in the darkness of his mind, drifting in a pool of black. Sometimes there would be explosions of light, and they would haunt him, and taunt him, for the images they form—so wondrous and magnificent—is ripped away so easily. He thinks he dreams of that room made of cold iron, where he was no more than beast on display. He thinks it's a dream, but he feels the iceberg floor, its frigid softness, the wideness of its embrace inside of that land of iron. It's real, but he thinks it's a dream.
There's the perfume of vanilla and copper; a potent scent, drifting into his nostrils. It reminded him of their childhood, when she skinned her knee chasing an inane butterfly, and he had been there to kiss her wound better. It was her scent; her smell and he could tell it was her with his eyes closed, from miles and miles away, cross oceans and the hard blade of time. It was her, this flavor of flowers and sweetness; a luster icon of innocence and purity, like some lost saint hidden behind a cream-colored shroud—he had concluded long ago that she was not of this world.
Even surrounded by a sea of bloodied cadavers, she was still so beautiful.
"That's enough…It doesn't hurt anymore…"
He breathes softly beside her ear; her sunbeam locks grazing the tip of his nose. He thinks they were tangled in a mess on the floor, drenched in cherry liquor; it was thick, and the scent was strong. Haine wanted to move; the smell was making him sick, but every bone in his body was concrete stone, and his blood of quicksand. It was difficult to move, and he did not want to part with Lily. If it were a dream, she would fray into nothingness.
He thinks could hear voices—sounds of people, speaking an inhuman idiom, talking about something he knew, but didn't understand. It was quiet, and it was arctic around them, full of ice, and snow, and blood. He feels them approach, close, but still far, far away, their voices traveling from an island thousands, thousands of miles away. He hears the black dog hiss commands, violent words of madness, but Haine is too tired to move. He is not sure if he was imagining things. And he was too tired; his body dead, his soul was still trapped in it.
He was cold. The iron beneath him an immobile glacier, burning at his skin. He hugs Lily close, wondering if she was cold too. Wondering if this touch was real, if this coldness was real. The movement is difficult, but he doesn't care. He feels her soft skin beneath his fingertips, and he almost smiles, but his face makes no movements.
He is dead, something speaks.
Yes, I am dead, he thinks, my body is dead, my soul is dead, there is nothing left.
The black dog cries coward! What a docile mongrel you are, Haine, it screams. Its barking laughter echoes inside the caverns of his mind.
This is the part where he thinks it must be a dream, for that black dog couldn't be real—its eyes of crimson a figmentation of the fragmentation of his mind, like fireflies caught in a blaze. It must be an allegory, he thinks. It cannot be literal.
I'm scared, Haine whispers to Lily, asking her for her consol. It scars me, the black beast, with his words and bark and bite. He kisses her gently on the cheek, tasting iron and zinc. The flavor piquant against his tongue. He begs Lily to wake, but she doesn't—he thinks he cannot speak in this dream that he thinks isn't a dream.
You are a coward, Haine, a coward, says the dog.
He says nothing, but hugs Lily close. He remembers the dark nights, when lightening and thunder would rattle his bones, and she would come to him, knowing he was scared. And she would sing for him as the sky boomed and broke apart, jagged white light crashing onto the Earth with a million droplets of tears staining the windows. She would kiss his eyes, and say nothing in her assurance, but her presence was comforting. Lily was his savior, his God; light in his world of darkness, and she was beautiful, and precious, and his and forever his, he thinks possessively.
She was the antidote to his terrors.
Lily, he says softly, I never told you this; I love you. You and only you. No one else matters.
The black dog howls in glee; he wills it to silence. The beast laughs; a mongrel loves a saint!—he jests—how quaint! You do not love, Haine—you are a beast, a mad dog. You do not know what love is. It is beyond your simple grasp. Let us kill, let us bleed; pain is our only understanding, it is what we comprehend, those who are not human. We are not saints—just mongrel beasts.
Haine clutches onto Lily as he feels the motions of the people—they move around them, watching, staring, saying things in that bizarre language of oblivion. It's foreign, and it is strange. He wills them to go away, to leave him and Lily be. But the vultures croak and circle around him, waiting for him to die, to pick at his flesh and eat him raw. He wills his imagination to break.
He growls, but he doesn't make a sound—he will not let them touch Lily, his saint, his love and savior. He calls out to her, whispering gently in her ear, telling her to wake, that it was time to move before the vultures descended on their feast.
But Lily says nothing; does not move.
"That's enough…It doesn't hurt anymore…"
His lips grazed gently her soft ear-lobe. He tasted the cherry liquor; the wine made him warm, made him alive—he shifted, and moved, to hold her close to him, to protect her from the vultures, from the black dog, from everyone.
Because she was his saint, his savior. Haine embraced the mangled corpse of his sister—
—the nightmare waters would recede into the bay of his memories, and he would wake to his bed, his body enveloped by cold sweat—his breath his hard, and the crushing gravity of reality pushes against his brain. He stares at his trembling hands and the stains upon them. It's always the same dream, saturated in his madness, a cursed burden which he carries on the back of his neck. Haine gasps for air, and hugs his arms around himself.
Suddenly, the black dog laughs—even mongrels weep.
Author's Note: This is the first new fanfic I have written in a long, long time. Dogs/Bullets & Carnage is my current reading subject; the manga is absolutely fantastic, the art is incredible, and it's just so different. I don't really know the direction of this vignette-like fic, really dream-sequenced, a little bit stream-of-consciousness; and Lily isn't really Haine's sister in the literal familial sense. At any rate, this was just a simple one-shot, with no real purpose. "Die promenadenmischung" means mongrel in German. Thanks Miya-chan for the translation, 'cause my German is non-existent. I look forward to writing more Dogs fanfiction in the future, when more of the manga comes out.