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The food was delicious but marred by my sudden nervousness of the old lady. Then I saw the ghost. If they were to destroy me today, I must make my move while they were off-guard. ‘He’s lovely, Mummy!’ Polly cried, and knelt on both knees to cuddle me. My name had been Nigel Nettle (yes, I’m afraid so) and I had originally come from Tonbridge, Kent. This sent me into raptures and I tried to nip his nose. The sun was already strong and his feet disturbed fine sandy dust from the asphalt as he stepped from the car. But it didn’t swing open; in fact, it didn’t swing open for another three days. I was less successful in scrounging food in the next town, although I still ate adequately enough. ‘We’re all different. ‘Move yourself,’ came her muffled command. I turned to growl at the girl as she approached, soft, coaxing words coming from her lips. Occasionally, she would look down at me and smile, and I would smile back, breathing deep sighs of contentment. Rumbo was a mongrel, what men might have called a petty criminal had they been able to read his mind. A skinny old head peeked over the edge of the counter and broke into a yellow-toothed smile. Settle down.’ Carol reached forward and patted the top of my head. I bolted for the street and once again I was running, running, running. A oncer says ‘e does it again.’ I was no longer an ‘it’ to Lenny. Cooked snails might be a delicacy for many, but raw slug isn’t even fit for a dog. His first two books, The Rats and The Fog, were disaster novels with man-eating giant black rats in the first and an accidentally released chemical weapon in the second. — I beamed at them all. But think about it: Why are certain creatures so repugnant to man? God, how he hated rats, that Rumbo! ‘Oh dear,’ sighed Miss Birdie, ‘you’ve upset Victoria now,’ and then this nice old lady gave me a hefty kick in the ribs. Another great pastime of his was rat-catching. ‘What’s that, then? There’s someone evil near them. ‘Fleas annoying you, are they, squirt?’, ‘Annoying me? This would usually create a fine din and pretty soon a white-skin would throw a cold-making liquid over our struggling bodies. I accepted Lenny’s friendly thumps on the back with a wagging tail, pleased that I had pleased him. ‘Take it easy, cat,’ I said anxiously. I pulled the leaf and its stalk through the hole, but the sudden action unbalanced the cyclist and he came crashing down on top of me, machine and all. On our third lap round, Miss Birdie spotted her and took a swipe at her indolent body with the rake (I suppose the frustration of not being able to catch me had something to do with it). Anything’s better than this itching.’, ‘Well,’ he hesitated, ‘I usually reserve this for warmer times, but if you insist…’. She put the plate on the table then clattered about for a knife and fork. The wiring sprang up and sank back only slightly when she released it. The fox emerged, a hen as big as her own body fluttering feebly in her grasp. That old teaser hunger reminded me he was still around and had no intention of letting me off the hook just because I had problems. I’m not an it. Directed by Carlo Carlei. It was a sunny afternoon and Miss Birdie was in her garden at the front of the cottage tending her awakening flowerbeds. The people helping him must have thought he was concussed when he kept asking about the dog he’d seen. I had past senses to compare with the new! My journey to Edenbridge was a long one, but strangely I knew the way as if I’d travelled that route many times before. He sneaked a look back inside the shop. They even use you to hunt us!’, ‘Not me! I remember my breath coming out in short panting gasps and I think I urinated a little, just a trickle. How? ‘Rumbo,’ I said. I was fast losing my puppy cuteness (I suppose I was around seven or eight months old by then), and people are less inclined to stop and stroke a gangly mongrel than a plump, furry bundle, so I had become next to useless as a decoy for Rumbo. It was not long after Bella had lifted those great tree-trunks on to the settee and rested her head on a cushioned arm that she was fast asleep, her snoring strangely comforting to me. Soon they would be jabbering and screeching. ‘It’s no good, Rumbo!’ I called out. ‘Are you all right?’ I asked as I rushed over to Rumbo. The men called him Fluke and the name was apt. View all copies of this book. I could understand the words the two men had spoken, not just their general meaning, but the actual words themselves. The creep had really crept in! ‘There may be a way you can be used, though,’ she said thoughtfully. ‘You go on about your hunting. It was small, but modern and compact, and I could see a fairly substantial extension had recently been added. Mind you, they were brave, some of those rats, loathsome as they were. ‘Or three, or four? Then I did a quick double-take. I had died, that’s what. My car rocked to a halt and I saw him climb from his car and stride back towards me. Just wait till later. Rumbo must have been working at it for quite a long time, for animals — apart from rat-catching cats — aren’t generally tolerated around food-markets, particularly strays. I was surprised and strangely moved to see her don brown-rimmed spectacles to watch television earlier on in the evening; it seemed to make her even more vulnerable somehow. James Herbert was one of Britain's greatest popular novelists and our #1 best-selling writer of chiller fiction. I had run for at least two miles without pause, and for a young pup that’s quite a distance. The wiring around us was high, much higher than me, and my companions were dogs. ‘We’ve got to get it outside.’. How do I know you’re not trying to trick me?’ She showed me her pointed teeth in a grin that wasn’t a grin but a threat. But then aren’t you worse? I gazed rapturously at the blue ceiling for several moments until the rays of the sun made my eyes mist over, causing me to blink rapidly. I needed no encouragement to follow her, although she seemed to think I did, for she constantly patted her thigh and called out ‘Come along now.’. The tramp tried to follow the dog with his tired old eyes as it scampered away, through the broken hedge, into the fields beyond. They crouched, bodies quivering, low growling sounds at the backs of their throats. And end they did one dull and drizzly day. Yet I saw the colours in my mind’s eye because I had known them before… before…. ‘Nah,’ Lenny said after a few moments’ thought. She sat bolt upright, her fur bristling and her tail ramrod-straight. ‘That’s what I said, Guv,’ Ronald chimed in. I suppose the giant (I still had no concept of man at that point) who lifted me from the pen reeked of tobacco, booze, fatty foods and the aroma I’ve found is ever present — sex — but at the time they were all new to me and, as I’ve said before, frightening, unpleasant, yet interesting. Sorry Rumbo, but at that point I whimpered. I think that put me on the wrong side of her from the start. I tried to still my pounding heart and began to tell the badger about my life: my first recollections in the market, my first owner, the dogs’ home, the breaker’s yard, the Guvnor, Rumbo, the old lady, and my episode with sly old fox. It’s only men who give animals names.’, ‘How do you know about that? His voice had a quietness to it that was unusual for him. ‘Never miss the afternoon service, my dear,’ she told me. It was as if he could read my thoughts, as if he understood what I was trying to tell him. I looked eagerly at the badger. It didn’t worry him that we would lose much of our independence: there was no standing still in business for him, only progression or regression. She came closer so we were almost nose to nose, and stared intently into my eyes. I could see my wife. The others agreed enthusiastically. ‘No name on this, is there? The man moved forward and set me down between his foot and a gigantic wooden wall, a wall he was able to lean over so that half his body disappeared from view. Rumbo’s answering glare and bared teeth killed my curiosity for the moment. ‘What are you talking about? I sprang forward again and she leapt upwards on to the draining-board, knocking down the pile of crockery left there to dry by Miss Birdie. The Guvnor, who was half-way back to his office when the police arrived, stood transfixed for a few seconds, then turned and bolted towards us. I cowered beneath the pianoforte hardly daring to look up, prepared to take a beating with as little dignity as possible. Fluke is the moving story of a dog with the memories of a human, with the signature twisting plot James Herbert is famed for. Accept you’re a dog, accept you are a fluke — or perhaps not a fluke. I mean, I’ve killed rats and mice, but nothing bigger than that.’, She shook her head in wonder. She flew past him and he could only continue to stare as the smouldering black body disappeared down the path leaving a jet-stream of trailing smoke behind. Hunting a prey he cannot not define, driven by a primal instinct he cannot ignore. ‘Gorn boy!’ came the shout from behind and knew the monster dog was closing up on me. Looking down at the other bundles lying there, I felt a pang of regret; they were my brothers, my friends. But with you it’s something else. The men pushed us away angrily as we tried to clamber over them. After that the darkness, the warmth of his mother’s womb and the shock of birth. As far as I could remember, we’d been very happy: my love for Carol had never diminished with time, only grown more comfortable; Polly (Gillian) was a delight, our home was a dream, and the business was expanding rapidly. I made a dash for the corner and squatted, squeezing my bowels to make something happen. Fear showed on Carol’s face for a second but she relaxed as I smothered Polly’s face with wet kisses. Are you only insulting yourselves? I curled up my own weary body between her mountainous tummy and the back of the settee and soon I was deep in slumber too. I was shivering with the cold and miserable with the loneliness. He looked back at me, his eyebrows raised. I’ll be on my way now. I stiffened to attention. A dog wanders the streets, compelled by a ravenous hunger. I haven’t seen you around before, I wonder where you’ve come from? I decided it was time for me to leave; there was nothing here for me any more. a man I howled in pain, and was grateful that a dog’s sensitive cells are unevenly distributed over the body otherwise some of these blows would have hurt even more. He bit it in half and swallowed. He began to climb again. I remember my first introduction to the endless green fur that lived and breathed, and smelled so fragrant, so full of life itself. I was shoved into a dark box, a kennel separated from the others to house nuisances. When we stopped, about a hundred miles later, he was smacking his lips contentedly. Miss Birdie gently pushed me down then patted my head. There were new items around the kitchen, of course, but these seemed alien, an intrusion upon a memory. What made her good one moment, bad the next? ‘Get lost,’ I replied with more coolness than I actually felt. A shifting of earth behind me made me jump and twist my head round to see the cause of the disturbance. They turned and looked in my direction, surprise then fear showing in their faces. With the Guvnor, both characteristics were equally balanced, something I now know is very common in men of his kind. Fluke: Herbert, James: Books. They were strange animals to me, much stranger than the animal that carried me, and fear-somely devoid of any character except power and size. A stout wooden stick cracked across his nose and Rumbo staggered away from the sprawling policeman who immediately scrambled to his feet and joined in the chase after the Guvnor again. You don’t need me anymore anyway, the next part you have to do on your own. Fluke: Herbert, James: Books. So, I had a proper name. The multi-toned greenness dazzled my eyes and I was aware that this fur was a living, breathing thing. ‘You said insects were more advanced… ‘ I prompted. I remember the delicious scraps of food they would feed me; the food I refused to eat at first because it was so distasteful, but when hunger pains had overcome my repugnance, I’d eaten it with relish, saliva drooling from my clamping jaws. I knew I was a dog; yet instincts, senses — call it intuition — told me I wasn’t. ‘So sorry to disturb you,’ he said. After what seemed a long time, their numbers dwindled and I ventured forth again, but by now my spirits had caved in completely. All these things I remember vaguely, but with nostalgic fondness. Rumbo had made his way towards a dilapidated wooden hut which stood in the centre of the metal-torn domain and stood scratching at its door, occasionally giving out a moderate bark. I slumped to the floor in despair. And why do we look skywards when we speak of "Heaven"? It’s not just that we’re more clever than other dogs — we remember how we were!’, ‘Do you, Rumbo? She still squinted through the lenses but managed to make out the name on the strip of metal. And then fickle memories returned to taunt me. It’s a clever old thing, this pup,’ Lenny retorted. The bets were placed again, this time one of the men dropped out. I disappeared and I was in a cage. I don’t think I really felt fear at that moment; probably just confusion. And I think I’m here to help those like you.’, His words were soft and strangely comforting, but I fought against them. The plainclothes policeman spotted me being led away. The promised third slice appeared and disappeared almost as quickly, and I looked up for more. It pushed its way through befuddled layers and struck me almost physically. It was better than nothing so I sank my teeth into that instead. I had to steady myself, it was no good acting the way I had in the town; they would only become frightened again. ‘Yerse,’ he agreed. He was somehow brighter, or un-doglike, or… more human. I groaned inwardly. This startled Bella into wakefulness and she looked around for a few moments as though she didn’t know where she was. He flailed his arms around, trying to hit me, not even trying to sympathise with my hunger, cursing and groaning as if he’d been tossed by a bull on to a bed of nails. ‘The big one’s a proper mongrel. I could guard her home for her. We watched his smiling face as he dealt with the policeman’s inquiries, showing a disarming charm that had never been apparent to us before. Hunting a prey he cannot not define, driven by a primal instinct he Startled night creatures scurried back to their homes as we crashed past, twittering and protesting at our intrusion. Questions invaded my misery. My supersensitive vision didn’t help matters much, the blinding colours heightening my fears, but nothing seemed to bother Rumbo. A group of bright yellow stars flashed before me as I wormed my way through lesser celandine, plants which are the first in the queue for spring regeneration. My jaw dropped open. More footsteps sounded down the hallway, then Carol’s eye appeared above my daughter’s. I was filled with frustration at being a dog; if I’d been a man, it would have been easy to draw the bolt and step outside. It had handles at each end and the two men used these to carry it round and into the hut. No doubt they’d be back tomorrow to give the area a thorough going over in the daylight, but for tonight I knew I’d be safe. He was also wearing gloves, which was unusual for him. The only familiar smell was the doggy one, and my sensitive nose sought this out and clung to it for comfort. This didn’t improve Miss Birdie’s humour one bit, for the soot formed a fine black layer on the area around the fireplace. I turned my head quickly to see just how far behind he was and immediately wished I hadn’t — his grinning teeth were level with my left flank! I jammed on my brakes when I saw he had stopped and was waiting. He was staying the night! Skip to main He stirred but did not regain consciousness. I spent the night with a family who took me in, and I think they had intentions of keeping me as a pet, but the following morning when they let me out to relieve myself, I ran off to the next town. ‘Last time he tied me up, he left me for three days without any food.’, ‘Still, I can always bring you bits and pieces,’ he added consolingly. Well, we were being a bit rough, but we weren’t savages (to tell the truth, it was a bit of a lark at that stage). He was up and at me, growling as he came. Victoria kept an aloof distance and came over to settle on the old lady’s lap only after much enticement. But now it looked as though everyone was equal. He stopped, looked up at me, then ambled on at the same pace, ignoring me totally. He pushed me away and one of the men took hold of my collar to hold me back. She managed to do so and pulled upwards with all her strength. I pulled it out fast; the water was colder than freezing! I think I enjoyed it more many years ago or perhaps when I wasn't reading all of Herbert's novels in order so that this fell hard on the heels of The Survivor. Besides, the man was a little too strong for me. My head was pushed through first, and for a moment my small body lingered. ‘You hungry, fellah?’ she chuckled, and I wagged my tail in anticipation. ‘You’re not like other dogs, are you? There were beetles, gnats, hoverflies, tabanad flies, mosquitoes, wasps and bees. I bit and pulled and he came tumbling down. We didn’t speak for days after that; I was bewildered by Rumbo’s savagery and he was puzzled by my attitude. Tm going to the park now. The conversation made me ponder over the animals’ point of view. ‘Why?’ he said finally. The shock of it hit me a few hours later: he wasn’t coming out that night. ‘You’ll burn yourself!’ she scolded. They ranted at each other for another five minutes before their anger finally boiled over. I guessed it was Victoria mooching around and would have returned to my sleeping-place had not those two agitators, hunger and thirst, begun taunting my greedy belly. I was still in the dark mentally, and now physically. I felt a blow to my flank, sharp growls, then I was dragged by my neck across the vast cavern. Oh yes, all right.’ He stopped and I squatted on the ground before him. They were good, those days with Rumbo. My sanctuary didn’t last long though: hands grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and rudely tugged me from the recess. Hopefully, memories of events would soon follow. Later when the police had given up thrashing around in the dark in search of me, I crept back. And then the spectrum took its proper order, the colours found their correct balance; the flashes became subdued, the tones began to relate to each other. Strangely enough, I could tell the difference between the smaller giants right from the start, not just from the elders, but as individuals. ‘Look, we’re acting like a couple of ki… ‘ But I ignored the look of apology on his face, his outstretched hand which was ready to take mine in a gesture of appeasement, his words that were meant to bring us both to our senses. There was an excited haste about them now — gone was the sullen nervousness of the morning — and this too was infecting us. ‘What are we going to do — kill a cow?’ I asked in all seriousness, the excitement draining from me. Rumbo was already up at the counter, sorting out the nicest cut for himself while the butcher’s whole attention was focused on me. The pupil was beginning to catch up with the master. Lenny went through his mug swirling again and one of the men told him to speed it up. We ambled in. And then the pain and the light and the screaming became too much and I was dead. Then came the insults: What was a mangey-looking thing like me doing here, anyway? Used / Paperback / Quantity Available: 0. I had a purpose and would allow nothing to distract me from it. Gigantic lorries (gigantic to me) would be loaded with crushed car bodies by the yard’s crane, then disappear through the gates with their valuable metal. I sought out the steadying beat of his heart again and tried to shut out the angry sounds around me. Rating: **** James Herbert was arguably one of the most underrated novelists of the previous 40 years, despite his status as a best-selling writer, one feels even that did not do him and his talent justice. How long have you walked the roads, caring for no one and no one caring for you? Then, with a squeal, the rat launched himself from the car roof. ‘Right,’ I whispered, trembling with excitement. I don’t know what the people on the bank thought, for it must have been a peculiar sight to see two mongrels acting like performing seals. I think it must have been rhubarb — it had a sweet tangy smell — and it looked very appetising. The Guvnor was heavily built, his long leather jacket bulging tight around the shoulders. Don’t you know why?’, ‘It’s more than that. ‘You did all right, pup,’ he said. I yelped as the first I snapped at burnt my tongue, and the old lady chuckled at my greedy attempts to bite the sizzling meat. He hushed me up. The end of a life, possibly. I had the feeling we wouldn’t see old Rumbo for some time. A roundish, yellow-brown object was shoved under my nose and against my mouth. I yelped in dismay and scooted off into the kitchen, seeking protection from Bella. Throwing the butt of his cigar into the mud, the Guvnor entered the hut. Dispatched with Royal Mail 2nd Class Large Letter. I suppose me more so than your friend Rumbo and the rat. A chubby grey-suited man waved at Newman as he emerged from the car. When I saw the babies and the alarmed parent, I prepared to retreat, to leave them in peace. It tottered dangerously as my scurrying body struck and hands clutched at it while voices were raised in alarm. My wife joined my daughter on the floor, ruffling my hair with a gentle hand, and I made the mistake of trying to take her in my arms and kiss her on the lips. She’d aged slightly, lines at the corners of her eyes and at the base of her neck where there’d been no lines before. He showed up early next morning, much earlier than any of our — I mean his — employees. There is the James Herbert who pioneered the visceral "creature feature" which emerged in Britain just as Stephen King was inventing modern American horror fiction, there is the James Herbert who went on to create tense supernatural or alternative reality thrillers - and then we have the James Herbert who wrote Fluke. I leapt up at the side of the car and pushed my nose against the bottom of the half-open window. We were lucky it was still early morning and there were no customers to complicate things. Time’s running out for you now; death’s nearly here. ‘Yes, yes. Rumbo and the rat may have been similar, but I doubt they were the same. Again, something familiar stirred within me but I wasn’t yet ready to pursue the thoughts. International bestseller James Herbert's Fluke follows a stringy mongrel, wandering the streets of the city, driven by a ravenous hunger and hunting a quarry he could not define. I cowered there, shivering, my jaw open and my tongue hanging down like a long streak of loose liver. It was just good to know someone like Rumbo was around again. Church bells woke me. I’m a dog, and I know. The relationship between us never really developed into anything more than wariness of each other. He stirred, groaned. Let’s see what else we’ve got.’. We’re only animals, you know.’ He looked at me meaningfully. I suffered as a pup, but it certainly toughened me up. ‘Oh dear, Miss Birdie, the room seems to be filling with smoke. They both tutted in harmony and looked at me with soul-churning sympathy. The policeman scrambled for safety and I saw that the Guvnor had stepped over on to the roof of the next semi-crushed car and was using a foot as a lever against the one he’d just left. Why should he learn acceptance? The beaming head disappeared then reappeared almost instantly, the smile now threatening to split the face in half. I leapt up, my teeth seeking his throat, but the man managed to get an arm between us. How do you explain such a twist in human nature? I gazed at him fondly through blurred eyes, then I dozed off. A meaty smell came my way and, tail drooped between my legs, I made my way cautiously after her. I shrugged my shoulders, unwilling or too content for the moment to pursue the matter further. It’s called the ‘pecking order’, and the hen who has the biggest and meanest peck is the boss, the second meanest pecker is under the first, but boss over the others, and so on all the way down the line. I threw open my door, striking his extended hand, and leapt out, hitting him squarely on the jaw all in one motion. ‘Just a moment,’ the boar said quickly. How can I live like this?’, He moved closer to me and spoke very quietly. I don’t know if or what I suffered under the care of the other giant, but something told me it was good to get away from him; badness poured from his body. He blamed my ego, my unwillingness to allow strangers into the business we had built up ourselves. This planet of ours is very old and it’s been washed clean many times so that life can start all over again, a constant cycle of evolvement which allows us to learn a little more each time. Market-Place and a man cursed myself for being so stupid and allowing myself to be with... 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