Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
Puck came running back once more, the metal pipe firmly clenched between his teeth. Ben watched him approach with a profound weariness. He did not think he could bring himself to throw the pipe, not a twentieth time.
The dog came to a sliding stop in front of the boy, wiggling his tail in excitement. It had been a long time since he had last seen daylight, and the vast parking lot felt like heaven.
“No, Puck,” Ben said as the dripping metal was once more dropped in front of him.
Puck barked in impatience, nudging the pipe with his paws.
“No. I’m tired of your games,” Ben responded. In truth, what he was really tired of, was waiting. Waiting for the turn of the tide. Waiting for safety. Waiting for his brother Jake to come back from the hunt.
He regarded the shopping center once more, focusing on its smashed windows, crumbled walls and torched door frames. It seemed hard to believe that anything in there could still be salvaged.
Puck’s loud bark woke Ben from his thoughts, just in time to spot the figure of his brother appearing in front of him. He looked upset.
“Did you find anything?” Ben asked. Jake didn’t answer, but instead grabbed the pipe, took a running start and flung it as hard as he could through a window. Puck launched after it, tail wiggling more than ever.
“At least one of us is still happy,” Jake remarked, breathing heavily.
The dog didn’t bring back the pipe. Instead, he dropped an aluminium can in front of Ben’s feet, looking up in anticipation. The boy leaned down to examine it.
“What is it?” Jake asked.
Ben looked up at his brother, an amused smile curving up at the edge of his lips.