The ritual of walking the dog was ingrained in them. They never missed a day, if they did the dog never ceased to make them feel guilty. Her whimpering made the family of four feel so bad that they vowed to never miss a day, even if someone fell ill.
So tonight, even though it was too late for a walk, they still went out. The settlement’s street lights weren’t working again. Perhaps, the storm of two days had rendered them useless.
They wondered how all the solar powered street lights had gone out at the same time but well, they attributed the anomaly to the musings of the nature and moved on.
The settlers had come from a land far away. They could be recognised through their distinctive physical features. They were not just manual labours, but also highly intelligent doctors, lawyers and professors. But because they didn’t look like the majority of the population, so they were always looked down upon by some unwanted people of the desired facial features. Their colony was the only safe space for them in the whole region. For a better life, they had to make this sacrifice.
The duo of the uncle and the nephew were the regulars in the 4 year old tradition of walk-the-dog. Sometime the aunt and the other nephew came along but it wasn’t often.
Tonight, the uncle had stubbornly come along as he had been ill for the past two days. Being locked up at home didn’t suit him much, so he was out at such an ungodly hour, in the blinding dark.
Armed with just a flashlight, the three creatures that didn’t belong to the night, walked out of their home.
The dog seemed uncharacteristically alert. A sniffer by nature, her snout wasn’t in the state of mind of sniffing everything in sight but rather it was up and alert, looking around with peculiar jerks. The nephew noticed it and conveyed his anxiety to his uncle. His uncle dismissed it. Unbeknownst to him, the uncle had pursed his lips and a million thoughts were fluttering around in his head. The storm had struck them two days ago, yesterday the lights were working and the people of the colony were out and about as well. The aunt had accompanied the nephew yesterday. Where were the people today? Usually, when the lights aren’t working, the homes switch on their porch lights for the safety of some lonesome community member who might want to go out for a walk at night. Today, every house was enshrouded in darkness. Like it was not the colony of lively festivals but of the dead. It felt like the people had abandoned their homes on an impulse and no one was left, except the family of four who lived so far back that their dog had nothing to bark at.
The uncle cursed the day that he had decided of getting the house at the farthest corner for quietude. The whole family was a fan of silence, so deciding to get the last house wasn’t a hard decision to make but due to their bias they had neglected the other problems associated with it, mainly not being in proper contact with the rest of the colony.
He sighed, nothing could be done except to turn around and walk home. He relayed his decision to his nephew who agreed whole heartedly. So the three of them turned around and started their journey home. The dog felt immensely happy after realising the destination of this dark journey.
Now that nothing occupied their mind except being extremely alert, they started to notice the surrounding. The wide streets with interlocked tiles looked like vast silent rivers in the dark. The trees looked like giants from another world, not a leaf was moving. There was no sign of the havoc that the storm had wreaked. The people of the colony were extremely ingenious and independent. Everything was repaired and put in proper place the next day. Except the street lights.
The uncle pledged to never take light for granted as its absence instilled in him an inexplicable terror.
Suddenly, a beam of yellow light stung the backs of the three lonely figures. Then came the sound of the two wheeled vehicle favoured by the youth of the region.
As if hearing the world’s largest alarm bell, the uncle and the nephew jumped in terror. The light didn’t comfort them anymore. They wished for the darkness again. They looked at each other, hair already risen on the back of their necks. The heart unable to come out of the chest, just sent its saline accomplice through the eyes. Living where they were unwanted, made them develop an acute instinct of sensing danger. They could not run, not because their legs refused to move but because they were so close to their house that they would inadvertently lead the perpetrators inside while themselves struggling to get in. The nephew unbuckled the little dog from her leash, but she didn’t move. So the uncle kicked her to make her run away out of shock. Like predicted, the dog whimpered and ran away.
At least there would be one survivor, they thought. Then they started to run, aiming to get down to the empty plots. They knew no one would help them. It was an unsaid rule of the community: To save the whole even if a couple had to be sacrificed. They just hoped that at least one of the two would survive.
The high acceleration of the spread of their deed was really bothersome. Every newspaper had covered their acts which had harmed their main goal. They wanted to get rid of these unwanted faces, ultimate aim was to get rid of the settlement. But they knew after the eight murders in only a couple of days that this practice, even though honed their skills, would lead to the failure of their mission. But still two were better than none, all in all they would count this as a successful night. Initially a whole mob was supposed to come but the great leader had prophesised that the low lives would not leave the houses. Which turned out to be true. Hail the great leader! He always knew.
The colony’s houses were inviolable. They were famous for it. But still the followers of the great leader had to come to see if they could salvage the failed mission, somehow. They were filled with excitement at their success. The learned one would be extremely happy. As they were turning around, they heard the bark of a dog. Instinctively looking at the source of the sound, they noticed the little dog that was accompanying their ninth and tenth. His white coat started to glow when the gate lights were switched on.
They smiled as they saw the gate open.
Eleven? Twelve? Thirteen?
Praise be on the great leader!

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