An excerpt from the story The Dark by Andrew 

When I first began living in my Volkswagen I was so frightened of the DARK I brought my Dog Max along for company. My pet Goat called Rex who loved to travel came along too. But when Rex was around the socks which were dangling from the rear vision mirror with Nina, my Pretty Little Ballerina, disappeared. I looked inside my suitcase and that’s when the interrogation started. 

“Rex have you seen my leather jacket? Rex have you seen my football boots? Rex have you seen my school tie? Rex have you seen my copy of Mice and Men……At least I’ve still got half a copy of Charlotte’s Web.”

Once I had to pull a scarf from Rex’s mouth. All thirty-five feet. Seven scarfs tied together. When I go around corners on two wheels Nina my Pretty Little Ballerina starts to dance. I left Rex outside a farmer’s gate with a sign around his neck. Only the roof of the farm house could be seen above the long grass.“Mow your lawn using my Goat.”     

Max is my best friend.  We go everywhere together. He is an eighteen year old Shih Tzu. In dog years that means he is one hundred and twenty six years old. That makes Max a very, very old man. Fortunately he is a dog and doesn’t need a walking frame or an afternoon sleep. I’m so glad Max hasn’t got false teeth.  They would chatter when the DARK comes. Max and I are so frightened of the DARK we never close our eyes. We keep them open with match sticks. I brought a baseball bat just in case anything nasty comes out of the DARK. I can hit a Baseball further than the eye can see. I hit the ball so hard sometimes the bat breaks. The DARK Mother said is where all the monsters live. They eat boys that have been BAD.

My sister had hair longer than Rapunzel – it followed her everywhere like the train of a wedding dress the night before the school dance.  I used the shears to cut her hair. From then everyone saluted my sister because she looked like a US Marine. My sister never spoke to me again.  She’s doing a tour of duty in Iraq.

Tonight if you find my Volkswagen at the end of your street, hopefully we have been able to park under a street light to keep the DARK away.  If you want to find us, look closely, Max is the one with his head on my pillow. Ear muffs are only worn when we park on the runway.

Max knows when it’s time for bed because I whistle the tune to ‘Who let the dogs out.’ We certainly did not. It was the Postman. If you can’t see us we might be hiding under a pile of blankets inside the tent I used on the slopes of Mount Everest. It’s not a two man tent, it’s a one man one dog tent. When I was young I used to have a three woman tent. The talking never stopped. I didn’t sleep then either.                       

I have strung a rope from one end of my bedroom to the other from which hangs the days washing. I wash my clothes in a green bucket. I drain swimming pools to fill my green bucket. During the night the wet clothes go DRIP DRIP DRIP into two pots and a frying pan. If it’s a hot night Max wears his boxer shorts. 

“Just think Max, Mohammed Ali used to wear a pair of those. Yours are a bit smaller.”A fan I wave keeps him cool. “It’s so hot in here Max it’s like an oven. I think we might both cook. And if that’s the case I’ll have a hot dog for breakfast.”It’s a Japanese fan covered by flowering Rhododendrons.

On these very hot nights with the windows down Max drinks from the same cooking pot where six Green Tree Frogs are swimming. Some of the Green Tree Frogs are improving their freestyle. One or two are working on their backstroke. I made a paper Lily for them to sit on. A Pink flowering paper Lily and a floating Japanese lantern. Now the Six Green Tree Frogs sit in a circle. Sometimes an Owl sits on my Volkswagen shaped like a Beatle and hoot.  Maybe he will be the one to keep the DARK away for Max and I.