Alpha Dog

A

This was a fun challenge from Writing Magazine. It was a competition to write 1,500-1,700 words of dialogue with no attribution or tags. Literally pure dialogue which is supposed to make enough sense to be read without the need for any other clues. I didn’t actually submit the piece (time and the general dissatisfaction of the writer over their work) but I hope you like the dialogue and the ideas I play with here.

Let me know in the comments as there is scope for development of the tales of Shank and Wilf.


“Kwedrezoop.”

“Oh. C’mon mutt-breath. You’re killin’ me.”

“Sambadrentukin.”

“Sheesh. Fix your damned translator module, freak.”

“Ploobahgtish!”

“All right. You asked for it. Come ‘ere.”

“Flaaaarghsheee … Ow. To hell with you, Shank.”

“That’s better. Now polish your visor. You got fingerprints all over it. We gotta look out best for the big guy.”

“‘I’ got fingerprints all over it? How did ‘I’ do that exactly? Oh, yeah. I remember. From the headlock you gave me while you applied TLC to the module. My mistake. Thanks, Shank. You plank.”

“Y’know, I think I liked it better when it wasn’t working.”

“Clean it off. Now!”

“You got fur, don’t you?”

“Which one of us is the guest? And I don’t want your greasy excretions on my fur. I have to lick that later. It’s your mess. You clean it. For the big guy.

“Aferchrissakes. C’mere … There. Better?”

“Hey, hey, hey! Careful, you clumsy meatsack. You broke the back gate off the lift.”

“Your visor is clear now, Wilf. You should be happy. And you can enjoy the view! It’s incredible! You can see all the way to the East End. Well, the wasteland that was the East End. And it’s all ours if we’re on our best behaviour with the big guy.”

“Couldn’t he meet us on the ground floor? What’ve you meatsacks got with heights?”

“Jeezus Wilf. I can’t believe you sometimes. You faced off against the four generals from the Clan yesterday without breaking a sweat, and here you are salivating all over your visor because you’re in a lift. We’ll be up and inside in no time. Your four generous paws will soon be on solid ground.”

“A month ago I would have eaten you for talking to me like that.”

“Nah. You wouldn’t. Too chewy. Augmented skeleton, y’see.”

“Why did I bother working with you?”

“Fame and glory! Or maybe control of the East End and safety for your Lycan Clan. Yeah. More the latter. The big guy doesn’t like your kind, so he tells me, but what you did yesterday is an olive branch. It’ll stop the cleansing. I admire you, in a makes-my-skin-crawl kinda way for thinking it.”

“You’re pathetic. You shave your head and mark your face with badges. The only true badge is the blood of your enemies. You have to put metal in your bones so you don’t feel weak. Your kind is fragile.”

“Careful, Wilf. Don’t get too carried away or the big guy might shave you too. He does that to all his favourites. But I think you’d look kinda funny naked.”

“You should watch your tongue, Shank, if you want to keep it after the pact is sealed.”

“I’d like to see you try!”

“You wouldn’t last five minutes.”

“Oh, really? When we’re done with the big guy, you and me. All the way. We’ll see who’d be the top dog.”

“Is that how you want to go out, Shank? Five years with the big guy against the Clan and you want their Regent to kill you? That’s a great death wish. Happy to oblige if you’re really dead set on it.”

“Go blow yourself.”

“Can do. Have done. No need to be jealous.”

“To Hell with you! … Damn, this lift is so slow.”

“Maybe it would be quicker if you weren’t so damned heavy. All that augmentation you’re so proud of must weigh you down.”

“Two hundred pounds of pure alu-steel.”

“And that rusty backpack is the power unit?”

“Yup. State of the art.”

“Hmmm. One wire out of place and you’d be a pile of junk.”

“Hardwired into the skeleton. No loose ends.”

“Case looks thin.”

“Saves weight, but tougher than a tank and would blunt your teeth in no time. You’d look like me. Hah! Even a mortar would do more damage to me than that thing. I’m such a lucky guy!”

“You sure are, Shank. You sure are.”

“Hey, Wilf. Why couldn’t you come up as a person? I don’t get it.”

“Honour. You wouldn’t understand it. I am wolf first above all else and won’t dishonour my skin by changing it to suit you.”

“But you’re working for the big guy now. You did what we couldn’t do.”

“Your Alpha is my equal. I am not, will not, work for him. This is a pact to stop the senseless hate.”

“You should be quiet now.”

“Or what?”

“Or I make you quiet.”

“You won’t be popular with the big guy.”

“But I’d be happy.”

“And missing the Regent who made all this possible for you.”

“Grrrrrrrrr.”

“Sounding like me now, too. There’s hope for you yet! Maybe I’ll let you sit by my side once the East End is allocated.”

“Don’t piss me off!”

“Hey! Easy! This crate isn’t designed to hold the pair of us on the best of days, especially with you taking it out on the sides. Remember, you’re in here too if it falls. You people have got such short fuses. What did they put in your genes?”

“Sit down and shut up. OK.”

“You are so full of hate. You even hate yourself enough to fill your bones with metal, to try to escape your mediocrity.”

“I. Said. Shut. Up!”

“OK, boss man. Just sitting down and shutting up.”

“…”

“How much longer?”

“Ugh. Four floors.”

“You’re right, this crate is slow.”

“We would’ve won, y’know?”

“Pah! You have never got passed even one general.”

“But I got …”

“Metal in your bones. Still doesn’t make you superior.”

“I can punch through walls.”

“We aren’t walls. And brute strength does not make a leader. Hard decisions do.”

“I took out a den of your kind last year.”

“Hah! You survived a den of cubs. Seven of them. And only because you got metal in your bones.”

“I killed …”

“Two. The others nearly ripped your face off had you not fallen into the reservoir. And don’t think that makes you any less hated just because I helped turn the tide on this feud our kinds have been locked in for five years.”

“You need us, mutt-breath.”

“No, Shank. You need us. You can hide in your high rises, but we own the earth. You would have made yourselves prisoners. Your Alpha realised that before he finished the buildings and that’s why he reached out to us. The pact is a good thing. You don’t get to die meatsack. Tell me that’s not a good thing?”

“Oh, wipe the drool off your visor. Your smugness is the last thing I need.”

“I’m curious. How did you survive the reservoir? You have augments but you still need to breathe.”

“Classified.”

“Wouldn’t have anything to do with the basin flooding, would it?”

“…”

“So, that was you. How did you do it?”

“Sluice gate.”

“What’s that?”

“Controls the flow of water. It was me or it. It had to go. Such a rush!”

“But it cost you all your water stores. How does that go unpunished?”

“We have different values to your kind.”

“Now I know why they call you Shank … W … W … W … Wait!”

“One more quip like that and you’ll take a flying lesson. D’you hear?”

“OK, OK, OK. Put me down. Put me down.”

“There, there. Good doggy. Now shut it for the rest of the ride!”

“…”

“…”

“Your door’s stuck.”

“I can see that!”

“Now what?”

“We wait. They’re trying to open it from the other side. I’m sure the crowbars are making lovely music in your furry ears?”

“You really should be able to build better lifts. You can put metal in your bones, but try to hoist us up a few floors and it all goes to Hell.”

“Ah. There we go. Now let’s go see the big guy.”

“Batik? What’s she doing here?”

“Your sister? Insurance my furry friend. The big guy didn’t want you trying any funny business for ‘Regent and Clan.’ Nobility is so outdated.”

“If you’ve harmed her!”

“What? What will you do? Five tranq guns trained on you and she’s here of her own choice. Now we end this. C’mon Regent. Hah!”

Very good job, Shank, though I should be thanking Wilfred, here. He did the hard work, after all, with his generals.”

“Thanks, boss. It was an honour.”

“You’ll get your 20% territory as agreed. You can go now.”

“That’s it?”

“You were expecting fanfares and pageantry? My dear man, you did good but it was a baby-sitting job. Now, off you go. See my number two downstairs.”

“Hehehehehehe.”

“It’s not funny, mutt-breath.”

“It’s good to see you, brother.”

“You too, sis. You sound good. Have they treated you well?”

“Absolutely. I came when I heard what you did. It wasn’t safe staying in the pack. You should have said something. Given me warning.”

“I couldn’t. I knew we were being watched by the triumvirate and their tendrils go deep. Sorry, sis, but I knew you had the smarts to get out. But why …”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …”

“I never did like Shank. Now, you two. We need to formalise our agreement and work out the territories. How about a spot of lunch first? Come. Follow me. We’ll have to use the stairs now that the lift is out of action.”

“It’s OK, brother. The meat’s fresh. I saw them bring it in earlier. This pact is the thing we need now. We’ve suffered too many losses.”

“But how will we convince the triumvirate? The generals were one thing. Brute force was all that wins their hearts and minds, but the conniving head-jobs?”

“I had been working on that problem for a while now, and taking out the generals was the signal I needed. Our new friend here has served them for lunch with a little help from yours truly. Now come, relax. And tomorrow we can start to plan our new future.”

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By Edward

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    About me

    About 40 years ago, I discovered role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons in one of the after school clubs. It revealed a universe that allowed me to flex my storytelling muscles and enjoy a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi and feed the escapist dreamer inside.

    Over time, I played (and story-led - marked with *) many systems including Call of Cthulhu*, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons*, Middle Earth, In Nomine*, Bushido, Chivalry & Sorcery, Chill, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Gammaworld, Hawkmoon, Stormbringer, Immortals*, Marvel Super Heroes, Paranoia, RuneQuest, Vampire: The Masquerade*, and a couple of systems my own devising (Medieval* and Parody*).

    I explored live-action role-playing – eventually running my own club and creating my own LARP systems (Fools Gold and Dream Conquest) – and usually found myself in script-writing or game-master duty, writing over 500 individual live adventures over the period (usually weekly), many linked into the world events of the fantasy land we created. I also volunteered for Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust at their main LARP events (special effects at the Ritual Circle), and did a little script work, cameos and improv for Curious Pastimes. I was also the South East's Editor (UK) for the LARP magazine The Adventurer. The biggest event I ran was a 10-month modern-day "murder mystery" LARP set around parts of Kent where characters were "always-on" and could get updates and interactions at any time outside of scheduled events. That was in the 1990s.

    I was also the artistic director for English Heritage for their live Halloween Horrors events at Fort Amherst in Kent from 1998-1999.

    Now, I write as the mood takes me with occasional competitions and challenges, and this year (2020) I will be taking on #NaNoWriMo.

    Here's to the future!