Mach could not wake Man. Man was lying in bed, as he did when it was dark in Home, but he had been lying there for a long time, past the time of light in Home, when he would give food to Mach. It was light in Home, and Man did not give food to Mach. Man was in bed. It was time to eat, and Mach did not have the food. It was past time to eat, and Man was in bed.
Mach put his muzzle on the bed and looked at Man, silently wagging his tail. Mach was not allowed on the bed, but he could put his muzzle on the bed and look at Man, and Man would not speak harshly to Mach. Sometimes, when Mach put his muzzle on the bed and looked at Man, it reminded Man to get up and feed Mach.
But it was light in Home, and past time, and Mach had his muzzle on the bed and still Man did not give Mach food.
Mach went to the food. It was in a room in the back of Home, where Mach’s dish was. The dish was empty. The food was in a plastic bin that had a top that opened. Man would reach in with Mach’s dish, and the dish would come out full, and Man put the dish on the ground and Mach could eat. Mach sniffed his dish, then pressed his nose to the bin, and then pulled his head away. That was where the food was, and Man was supposed to give food to Mach.
Mach did not whine. Mach was not supposed to make noise in Home. If Mach made noise in Home, Man would speak harshly to Mach. Man would tell Mach to settle down, or to be quiet (unless someone knocked on the door-- door-knocking was the signal for Mach to bark as much as he wanted). Mach did not want Man to speak harshly; Mach wanted Man to speak nice to Mach. Mach wanted Man to say nice dog, and good boy, so Mach did not whine.
But Mach wanted food. Man was supposed to give Mach food.
Mach went back to Man, in Man’s room, where Man was on the bed. Man was still sleeping. Man was not supposed to be sleeping-- Man was supposed to give food to Mach. After food, there would be a Walk, and sometimes with Walk there would be The Ball or In The Water. Best was Walk and then Man would throw The Ball In The Water, especially when it was hot.
But first Man would give food to Mach.
Mach went out to the big room, and got into the chair. Mach could be in the chair, and Man would not speak harshly; sometimes, Man would sit in the chair with Mach, and that was best. But mostly Man would sit on The Couch, and Mach would sit on the chair, and that was good, too. Mach could not get on The Couch, or Man would speak harshly.
Mach lay in the chair, and licked his paws.
Mach liked to lick his paws; Mach could taste past Walks on his paws, and remember the things from Walks. Mach could taste In The Water, sometimes. He could always taste outside on his paws. Mach liked to keep his paws clean, and the fur around his paws, and the fur on his legs. He also liked to lick his fur on his belly, where he could reach, and sometimes bite at the top of the base of his tail, when he could reach.
Mach liked to lick his fur.
Mach liked food. Man was supposed to give food to Mach. Mach stopped licking, and exhaled, forcefully. Exhaling forcefully was not making noise in Home; when Man heard Mach exhale forcefully, he would smile, or sometimes laugh, or sometimes speak nice to Mach. Man could not hear Mach, because Man was not in the big room, and Man was sleeping.
Mach jumped down off the chair, and shook himself. Mach could shake very loud, with his ears flapping hard against his skull and all his loose skin tossing back and forth against his body. But Mach was allowed to shake inside. Mach also stretched-- it felt very good to stretch.
When Mach was done shaking and stretching, he was still hungry. And Man had not brought him food.
Mach went back into the Man’s room. He saw Man on the bed. Man would not wake up. Mach put his chin on the bed. Mach wagged his tail. He exhaled forcefully. Man kept sleeping.
Mach lay down next to Man’s bed and tried to sleep. But Mach was uncomfortable; the routine was off; there was a rhythm to the day, and it started with Man waking up, getting out of bed, and giving food to Mach. Then it would continue with the Walk, and sometimes all the possible good things that could happen on the Walk. This was the ROUTINE. IT HAPPENED.
And it was not happening now. And there was no other stimulus to blame or fear, to offset the broken routine. Like, when it would snow, very heavily, sometimes Man would not get out of bed for a really long time...and this would delay the food, and further delay the Walk. This made sense: snow was crazy unreal material that did not belong in the Home or in the Yard or anywhere near where Mach and Man lived. That snow had better just stay away! But when it did come, Man slept long, and moved slowly, and a Walk was very slow, and even Mach wanted a Walk to take only the shortest amount of time possible.
THAT was a routine-breaker that was okay. Mach could live with a routine-breaker like that. But there was no snow. It wasn’t cold outside-- Mach pressed his nose against the screen window and puuushed, just a little, flexing the screen from being Inside Home to making it Outside. Just a little. And the smells were warm smells, and Mach knew there would be no snow without cold, no snow with those warm smells. Or when Man got sick, and coughed and coughed, and his whole body made sounds, sounds and smells. Mach did not mind when this happened, because Man was so interesting during those times. So interesting and quiet-- Man never spoke harshly to Mach when Man was sick.
But this wasn’t snow and Man wasn’t sick, and Man would not get up.
Mach lay next to Man’s bed for some time, with his eyes closed, but he could not sleep. There was another part of the routine of a Walk, and it had not happened, and that was bothering him now, too.
Mach got up and went to the back door. He looked at the door, then looked back at Man’s room. The back door was where a Walk usually started, and it led to the field and sometimes In The Water. There were specifically area of a Walk where Mach preferred to void his bladder and his bowels, because that left his scent, and they were away from Home, and other dogs could smell it, and Mach knew where those places were, and Man did not speak harshly when Mach did those things there. There was a time when Mach did those things, and it was during a Walk, which was after Man gave him food, which was after it was light in Home. Mach looked at the door again. He lifted his right front paw, looking at the door. A very faint, almost inaudible whine escaped from his throat. Mach did not want to make noise in Home, and the whine just happened, it was not something Mach chose to do. But it was only the one, and Man could not hear it from the other room.
Man went back to the big room, and jumped into the chair. He put his snout down on his paws and exhaled loudly. He waited. Man would get up, and Mach would hear sounds of Man’s breathing change, and Man sitting up in bed, and Mach would run to Man, wagging his tail and mouth open and tail hanging down and ears up, and Man would speak pleasantly, and Man would give food to Mach and then a Walk.
It was very light in Home, and Man was still sleeping. Mach dropped down from the chair and went to Man’s room, and Man was still sleeping in his bed. Mach put his chin on the bed and looked at Man and wagged his tail. Man did not wake up. Mach leaned forward his pressed his nose against the blanket which covered Man’s leg, but Man did not wake up.
Mach went to his bowl and looked and there was no food. He pressed his nose against the food bin. He sniffed his bowl. It was empty.
Mach went to the back door. He pressed his nose against the handle and could smell where Man would put his hand and open the door and then a Walk. The door was closed. Mach wagged his tail just once. The door was closed.
Mach was very uncomfortable. His bowels were full, and that was unpleasant, but his bladder was aching, and the feeling was very unpleasant; it was almost pain.
Mach went into the big room. He sniffed the couch where Man would sit. He could smell Man there, but Man was in the other room. Mach went to the wall and sniffed at the place where the floor met the wall. He moved around the room, sniffing low along the wall. He exhaled loudly. He shook himself.
Mach went back to Man’s room. He put his chin on the bed. Man would not wake up. He exhaled loudly. He chuffed. This was not a bark, and not a whine, and only a little louder than exhaling loudly, but it was not really being loud in Home.
Man would not wake up.
Mach sniffed around the bed, and could smell where Man would put his feet in the room, but Man was still in bed and would not wake up. Mach looked at Man and wagged his tail, but Man would not wake up and Mach stopped wagging.
Mach went to the back door. It was closed.
Mach went to the big room. He went to the corner of the farthest from the chair and sniffed. He looked toward Man’s room. He shook. He sniffed the corner. Turning away from the corner, he lifted a back leg, and released a stream of urine, while looking toward Man’s room with his ears down and eyes wide. The relief was immediate, and Mach emptied his entire bladder. He stepped away from the corner, his head low, ears flat against his head, and tail pressed between his legs. He went slowly across the room, crouched, and slipped under the chair, where he lay on his belly, his chin on the floor. He waited.
Man did not wake up. Man did not come out to the big room. Man did not speak harshly to Mach.
Mach’s gut was relieved. His head was not; he could not relax, and was very uncomfortable, and badly wanted to be loud and to go for a Walk. And he wanted Man to get up.
Mach went back to the Man’s room. Man was still asleep in the bed. Mach put his chin on the bed. He put his nose against Man. Man would not get up.
Mach went to the foot of Man’s bed, and exhaled loudly as he lay down in a circle, his tail covering his nose. He closed his eyes and tried to wait. He waited there for as long as he could. Man would get up, and they would go for a Walk.
Mach waited. Home started to get dark.
Mach got up. He put his chin on the bed. Man would not get up. Mach went to the food bowl. It was empty. Mach drank from the water bowl which was next to the food bowl. He did not drink a lot; there was pressure in his bladder again.
Mach went to the back door. It was closed.
Mach went to the big room. He could smell what was in the corner before he even entered, and he walked low, slinking over to the chair. He got into the chair, his ears pressed down against his head, and laid there on his belly, putting his chin on the arm of the chair so his face was pointed at Man’s room.
Mach exhaled loudly.
Home got dark.
When Mach awoke, Home was still dark. Mach quietly got down from the chair, and stretched. He shook himself, but did it quietly. Dark was the time to be especially quiet. Man would be asleep, and Mach should not wake Man.
Mach plodded quietly to the entrance of Man’s room. There was no movement in the room, but Mach could smell Man was still in bed. Mach laid down on his belly, put his chin in the crook of his outstretched legs, and waited.
Eventually, there was light in Home. Mach got up, wagging his tail. Man was still asleep, and Mach was hungry and Home was light. Mach went to the bed, and put his chin heavily on it, and exhaled loudly. He wagged his tail very hard. He backed up, still staring at Man, wagging his tail. He whined. Mach shifted his weight back and forth on his front paws, quickly. Man would get up, and give food to Mach, and they would go on a Walk.
Man did not get up. It was light in Home.
Mach whined again. Man did not get up. Man did not speak harshly to Mach. Mach was ready for food, and for a Walk. Mach barked, once, shortly and loudly.
Man did not get up.
Mach ran to the food bowl, and sniffed it. It was empty. He ran back to Man’s room. Man was still in bed. Mach whined, and ran back to the food bowl. It was empty. Mach put his paw against the food bin. He whined. He pushed at the food bin with his paw, twice. He prodded the bin with his nose. He ran back to Man’s room.
Man would not get up.
Mach ran to the back door. It was closed. He prodded the handle with his nose. He barked once.
He ran back to Man’s room. He went to the bed and put his chin near Man. Man would not get up. He prodded Man with his nose. Man would not get up. Mach whined.
Man would not get up.
Mach backed up from the bed, and gave out one bark, so loud that it lifted his front feet off the carpet.
Man would not get up.
Mach’s tail slowly stopped wagging. He whined.
Mach’s flattened his ears against his head, and his tail went between his legs, and he turned and plodded back into the big room. He went over to the corner and lifted his leg and emptied his bladder. Mach climbed into the chair and whined, and curled himself tightly, covering his nose with his tail.
Home got very light. There was no movement in Man’s room.
Mach went over to the window and looked out. He pressed his nose against the screen, flaring his nostrils and breathing heavily. Outside smelled of birds and grass. Distantly, he could smell In The Water. He pressed against the screen so it flexed out. He pulled his head back, and the screen relaxed.
Mach plodded over to his water bowl, and drank. There was nothing left in the bowl when he was done. He sniffed his food bowl. It was empty.
Mach slowly crept into Man’s room. Man was in bed. Mach went to the foot of the bed and sat, looking at Man. Mach whined quietly. Mach’s stomach clawed at him sharply. It was beyond discomfort now; it was pain. Mach’s eyes throbbed with every pulse of his heart, and there was a crunchy sound in his ears, and everything smelled like food. The carpet was itchy under his paws, so he laid down and curled into a ball, exhaling heavily, and whining once, quietly. He waited for Man to get up and give him food.
Home got dark. Mach’s stomach ached and made loud gurgling noises. Eventually, Mach slept.
When Mach woke, Man was gone. But someone had left some meat on the bed, so Mach ate until his belly was very full, and then he slept.