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The Hand   By: (1913-2002)

The Hand by Gerald Allan Sohl

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy January 1955. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

THE HAND

by

Jerry Sohl

Alice knew that Dobie was a good dog, even if he did have an alarming habit of hunting down rabbits and gophers. But one day he brought her

Alice McNearby was washing breakfast dishes and looking out the kitchen window at the November sky when she first spied Dobie. The way he was sneaking up to the house she knew he had killed something.

She dried her hands on her apron and tried to put down the suspicion that gnawed at the edge of her mind as she went to the door. During the past month Dobie had killed a cat, a pheasant, two rabbits and a field mouse and it seemed it would be only a question of time until he got one of the chickens or even one of the suckling pigs. That would be all Mac would need to throw one of his wild spells and he'd probably take a gun to Dobie as he had threatened to do. To make it worse, Dobie seemed to know how Mac felt and often growled at him. Mac didn't growl back but the look in her husband's eyes was enough to convince her Dobie's continued existence was in doubt.

It was a wonder to Alice that Mac hadn't done away with him already, judging from the comfort she derived from the dog. Dobie never fretted, never whined and seemed so appreciative of everything she did for him. She had scolded him for his killing but found herself unable to put her heart in it because he seemed to love it so. Instead, she always managed to clear any bones away before Mac returned from town or came up from the barn and she was thankful he seemed as yet unaware of the brown dog's hunting nature.

Now it appeared she'd have to cover up for the dog once again and she opened the door. Dobie was under a bush half way across the barn yard, his kill still in his mouth. He was circling around, and she knew he'd soon be on his stomach enjoying his feast.

[Illustration]

"Dobie!" she called in a low voice, hoping it would not carry to the barn.

Dobie's ears came up. He looked her way.

"Dobie!... Come here, Dobie!"

The dog was undecided, looking at her, unmoving for a moment. Then his tail started flicking, he lowered his head and came up to her.

Then she saw what he had in his mouth and her blood stopped and only a great effort on the part of her heart started it going again.

It was a human hand, blood still oozing from the severed wrist.

" Dobie! "

The way she said it, the way she looked something made the dog drop the hand. It fell to the ground, limp, palm down.

Dobie, head hung, tail down, ventured forward, nuzzled her hand. But Alice could not tear her eyes from the thing on the cold ground. She had cared for Dobie like a baby ever since someone dropped him off out in the country and she had adopted the name Dobie because a passing child had called him that and it seemed like a good name ... and she loved him.

But this, this hand. That was too much.

She looked around, saw a milk pail, put it open end down over the hand and carried two large rocks from the garden border to put on top to secure it. She didn't want it to be gone when she brought Mac back to see it.

She heard her ring on the telephone rather early for Mrs. Swearingen or Mrs. Abbey wasn't it? but ignored it. There was something else she had to do and do quickly. For the first time in months she felt thankful for Mac's presence. Surely he would know what to do. Though it was cold, she was unmindful of the fact that she did not wear a coat as she hurried to the barn; she was thinking instead that perhaps she should have answered the phone in case it might have been someone other than her women friends, possibly something in connection with the severed hand... Continue reading book >>




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