Romance

Immobile Danger

Pretty woman with Pomeranian dog
Publish Novellas 11 February 2024

EPISODE 1 – PUPPY LOVE

Paralyzed more by fear than physical trauma, Simon is consumed with agoraphobia. Unless he can overcome inactivity, a growing danger will snuff out his last breath.

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Outdoor Bliss

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Simon Parker has a lucrative New York City job. No, he doesn’t work on Wall Street. With ubiquitous high-rise apartments and a law against leaving dog droppings, he finds his niche as a dog walker.

Simon rescues the helpless animals cooped up while their owners go to work all day. Even the normally vicious dogs wag their tails and leap for joy when he shakes his leash.

The dog park in the middle of the city is a good area for Simon to simultaneously walk up to four animals. Some owners permit the doorman to grant him access to their apartments during the day.

He incorporates basic obedience training in his services. It’s helpful for the dogs to respond to voice commands like “sit” and “come” when approaching pedestrians with cynophobia.

When Simon is not entangled with multiple pets, he has the opportunity to converse with other pet owners, like Audrey. She’s nicer than her Pomeranian and way cuter. But it’s difficult to build up the nerve to ask a lady out to dinner while you’re holding a bag full of doggie doos.

Their idle talks beneath sunny skies hint at a budding relationship. He learns her dog’s name is Madeline. The couple agree upon a schedule for meeting in the park. They even exchange numbers, which leads to her perpetual wait for a phone call or text message.

Canine Tragedy

On a foggy Monday morning, a driver careens through the intersection and mows down the dogs under Simon’s care. The vehicle then collides with others and bursts into flames.

With minor contusions, he stands up and stares at the animals while paralyzed by shock. Two dogs die instantly, another succumbs to death later at an animal hospital. The third pet has broken bones that eventually heal.

Simon no longer feels like a capable protector of four-legged friends. Some of them are worth thousands of dollars, as owners emphasize. He compensates them with what he can afford to pay. The driver’s insurance reimburses him and pays out more.

When news of the accident spreads, Simon’s growing client list dwindles to nothing. After his physical scars heal, the thought of leaving his apartment opens mental wounds.

To remain indoors, Simon has meal delivery services drop off his food. A telemedicine psychotherapist provides comforting conversation but is unable to coax him outside.

First Responders

It’s midweek on the day of his rendezvous with Audrey. She marks in her calendar the fifth time, he is not at the dog park. As she studies the faces of everyone in the park, dark smoke billows in the distance. The ear-piercing sound of ambulances rushing to the scene draws a crowd, which Audrey joins.

A high-rise apartment engulfed in flames has tenants streaming out the doors below while firefighters rush in and upward. Armed with axes, oxygen masks, and flashlights, they call out to anyone who may be inside while ascending the smoky stairwell. Fire dances from the windows of the fourth floor, which becomes an impenetrable barrier that causes them to retrace their steps.

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