Mark Alister

Журналист, писатель, родился в Алматы (Казахстан), с 2001 года проживаю во Франции, в городе Страсбурге, регион Эльзас. Играю в снукер и на гитаре. Пишу остросюжетные рассказы и повести с элементами мистики и триллера.


Отрывок из романа «The good dog Scowler»

All at once the white curtain of the nearby undergrowth rustled. From somewhere quite nearby came the crackle of brushwood and a low dull sound like a growl. The snow suddenly fell off, and a huge bear appeared from behind the green wall. At first, in surprise, the hunter took it for a stray cow from the village. But he realized immediately that only a few paces from him, nervously moving its protruding lower lip and with clouds of steam issuing from its mouth, the real lord of the taiga stood looking at him sullenly.

“Bear!” exclaimed Miron, feeling the roots of his hair stirring on his head. He was suddenly horrified to remember that he only had smallshot in his barrels – OK for hares but hardly enough to tickle a bear.

The wild beast stood for a second, showing its impressive height. Then it bared its teeth, and growling threateningly, moved towards the hunter at increasing speed. Its flattened ears and fur standing on end did not presage anything good. Shouts and handclaps did not stop the brute. It was advancing in huge bounds, not for an instant taking its bloodshot eyes off its prey. Feeling his blood run cold, the hunter broke open his shotgun. He had only just managed to eject the useless cartridges and replace them with the right ones, explosive shells, when the animal was in front of him, only three jumps away. He pushed the shells home just as the enormous shaggy head with bloody eyes and wide open jaws with big yellow teeth was ready to bite him.

“Sco-o-o-owler!” cried Miron in despair. At the last instant, he instinctively put his arms in front of him, holding the gun, and suffered a terrible blow, by which he was thrown several meters as if he weighed no more than a feather, his back scraping against bushes and undergrowth. His eyes clouded over from the acute pain in his back and neck. Meanwhile the bear, coming across the hunter’s cap which had flown off his head, stopped and sniffed it nervously.


Lying in the snow, the old man thought feverishly about the situation and tapped the handle of the knife on his belt. The dog was no help to him right now, he was somewhere far off. Away after a hare, honorably doing his duty, having no idea there was a bear about, or he would have been here by this time. He would have to get out of this on his own somehow.

If he stabbed the bear in the belly with his knife, he would certainly rip it open, but that wouldn’t save him. A wounded bear would be even more dangerous. It would only die of the knife wounds later. And that wouldn’t make it any easier for Miron. The bear would reduce him to mincemeat and broken bones.  The lord of the taiga could break the spine of an elk, let along that of a man, that weak flimsy monkey-like creature. Better to let the bear kill him at once. Fewer problems. It would be worse if he were crippled and tried to continue as normal. Then his end would come slowly and sadly. Who would come looking for him, a lonely old man in a God-forsaken remote copse in the taiga? Maybe they would happen upon his remains next summer. If he played dead, would the beast fall for it and go away? The old hunter raised his head with difficulty and stared at the bear again.

“He’d more likely eat me”, concluded Miron sadly, seeing the wild beast looking at him hungrily. This one was obviously hungry and angry. He needed to fill his belly right now, no matter what. Human meat would do fine. Even if it wasn’t young meat.

Sure his death was near, Miron silently said goodbye to the white world. His brain, to his surprise, was working rapidly. His whole life flashed before him like a movie at high speed. He remembered his childhood, his parents, and his wife and son who had perished thirty years earlier. He even wondered what he would say to them in the next world about his latest adventure. The boy would certainly listen eagerly to such a story.

At the same time, he was watching the bear as if bewitched. He noticed that its snout had bald patches and old healed wounds. He even observed that it had a torn nostril. It seemed it hadn’t got on well with its fellow bears.

The predator lost interest in the cap and gave a muffled roar. Wheezing and shaking its huge head, it nervously tossed the cap aside. Then, breathing heavily, it coughed like a sufferer from tuberculosis, and again rushed roaring at the man lying flat in the snow.

“This is surely the end, then…” thought the old man, and took out his knife.


Suddenly, quite near, he heard the crackle of bushes and the angry bark of a dog. Miron quivered in surprise. The dog leapt towards him – the old man even managed to see his white belly and hind paws, with pieces of ice stuck to the fur – and threw himself directly at the mighty polar bear. The hunter felt hot, his temples were throbbing: “He made it! So quick!”

For Miron, who had not expected such a turn of events, it all seemed like a dream.

The enraged bear and the wildly barking dog were fighting to the death. The hunter had never heard such extreme anger in the voice of his four-footed friend before. Scowler dug his teeth into the enemy’s muzzle and he hung on the bear, which with a furious roar scrabbled at the dog with his front paws, trying to tear him off. Rising with difficulty, Miron, was delighted to see, through the dark mist in front of his eyes, the stock of his gun sticking out of the snow a few paces away. Overcoming his pain, he crawled towards it.

At that moment, the bear was crushing the dog, bearing down on him with all his weight. Suddenly Scowler howled in a way that made his owner go cold. He realized that the end had come for his only defender. He also realized that he would be next. The bear spent a few more seconds maliciously mauling the immobile dog, and then turned to the man. Now only an instant separated life from death. As soon as he had the gun in his grasp, Miron turned and fired everything in the barrels directly into the open maw of the wild beast. In that instant, he himself was pressed to the ground by its huge body.


The bear’s blood, seeping under his clothes, felt warm. The animal shook in convulsions for a minute and then lay quiet. Crawling out from under the body with some effort, the hunter hastened to crawl further away. Bent over and breathing heavily, he managed to get onto his feet and reloaded the gun. He was about to fire again to make sure the bear was dead, when he suddenly remembered the conversation with Sychov about the husky puppy.

Even in death, the lord of the taiga induced fear. Miron carefully went round his fallen enemy, pushing the gun muzzle into him a few times. The bear did not move. Only his huge claws were still quivering. The hunter breathed a sigh of relief and then heard the voice of his faithful dog. He rushed over to him. When he saw what was left of Scowler, he sat down next to him, tore his hair and burst into tears.

The dog was lying in snow soaked in blood on his right side with his tongue half out. His head was a shapeless mess. His bloody skull could be seen through where he had been scalped. His right ear was almost all missing. The bear had also bitten through part of his lip, laying his teeth bare. Torn bleeding wounds could be seen on his body, the ribs showing white through the biggest one. He was shaking, his paws were quivering convulsively. But his eyes! The dog’s eyes were alive! Without a trace of reproach, they were looking lovingly at his owner!

“Hey, what a poor old thing you are! My dear, good dog! Why were we fated to meet that vicious bear?”, muttered the old man, swallowing his tears. Why didn’t we spot him?”

Miron straightened out a flap of fur on the dog’s head and stroked him gently. Scowler closed his eyes. Only his slightly shivering sides showed that he was still breathing.

“He won’t survive”, thought his owner with pain. “He’s not long for this world…”


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