Fury. Contempt. Forethought. Patience.

These four concepts haunt me like an apocalypse that nobody else will ever know. My personal companions no matter which way I blow. Once, I was nothing, a vacuum of unfilled space and then two forces conjoined in a chance encounter and I was created. Perhaps many see this as a gift or something to be held sacred. For me, it is an unbridled curse celebrated by everyone but myself. Because they do not see what the gift saddled me with; they merely see the wrapping paper, colorful, bright, dappled in clipart of roses. They don't know the duct tape holding the package underneath together at the seams.

No, for many, my friend, creation is a precious gift, unrivaled by gold or any amount of blood. Yet, I did not ask for this. I did not get to discuss the circumstances of my own presence. I was produced and shuffled along with nothing but frustration for my discontent. You may find yourself asking why, if so many hold this gift so dear, that I find it so upsetting; for you, my friend, I will answer. I may never know your name but at the very least you will know my story.

Since my inception, I have found myself at the mercy of the law of club and fang. Those that see me figure they know all there is to know about me. They see my colors and my shape and decide what they know is best for me. They know of my class in society. I am but a lowly dog. Dogs are obedient and want nothing less than to please their masters, the ones that bear the clubs and the whips and the leashes and collars. Brandishing these items like weapons to remind the dog of its place, they care not for what the dog has to say. The dog must growl, bark, whimper, whine, howl to convey a meaning, but those sounds are still just that: sounds. Sounds that often fall on deaf ears. The dog may not express its frustrations, though. A bite to the hand that grooms, no matter how roughly it pulls at their pelt, is a fatal mistake. The club comes crashing down and the dog learns their place back in step with the rest of the world.

From the corner of the dog's eye, a horse blazes the road past, whinnying and crying blindly in rage. It stamps its hooves and churns the earth beneath it. Black as the night and massive as a truck, it barrels in circles, uncontrollable, ferocious, wild. Yet, it chases its own tail, spirals in circles around the dog. Regardless of how much it howls, the horse is unbothered and unchanged. It is the first of the four horsemen: Fury. Fury is ignorant to its surroundings and follows a circular path, a self-defeating prophecy. It stirs the dirt in its path until it becomes a raging tornado which blows it down and exhausts it. Fury snuffs itself out regularly, but not before sending the dog it gallops freely around up in the tornado it spawns.

When Fury is too tired to move, a spotted feline stalks its downed form. Quick, cunning, and malevolent, the feline preys on Fury's exhaustion. Every time Fury goes down, the feline leaps at the dog, and sends it running. No canine on Earth is large enough to threaten this feline back. It is far too intelligent and far too stealthy. It, too, is a horseman: Contempt. Contempt is silent, but not unheard. It swiftly bites down on prey without warning, sinking needle-sharp fangs into its victims, but the feline never dispatches them with a snap of the jaws around the dog's throat. No, Contempt lunges at the dog and pins it down, snapping teeth at its ears, muzzle, paws, tail, but never anywhere vital. It chews the dog from one end to the other, leaving it feeling hollow and soulless until not even a howl can be made. Instead, you would only see the bitter scowls from that canine's face, the only symptoms left over from Contempt's visit.

Swooping in once Contempt has eaten its fill, an owl lands ahead of that scathing glare from the dog. It stares back, unaffected, long black stripes dashed across its pale brown feathers and large, round brown eyes gazing deeply at the dog. It understands the beast's pain. It can swivel its head to any angle and spot any danger coming from a mile away. Sometimes, it's capable of warning the dog before Contempt can have its way; sometimes, it can even calm Fury before it begins to rave. But there is nothing the owl, Forethought, can do for the canine it pines to care for. Forethought is a horseman by accident. Forethought had no choice in the matter. It may have seen the fate coming from a mile away, but with no way of communicating its wishes, it was forced to take the role. It does its best to settle the other three, but there is only so much the mute horseman can do… and even then, Forethought has one dastardly flaw.

A wolf's howls will send Forethought into a frenzy. The owl may be patient and even remorseful over what the dog may go through, but it cannot stand the wolf that trails the dog wherever it goes. Track the dog the wolf does, however; it has determination unknown to the other three, capable of loping endlessly without tiring, and no matter how far the dog runs with intent to free itself from the wolf's nose, there is nowhere it can run to forever escape it. Patience, as the wolf is known, knows no bounds. The dog eventually runs ragged and slumps against the ground and there, Patience finds it, and lays against it. Patience touches its nose to the dog's and wishes to remind it of where it came from. Of rugged instincts that kept ancestors alive long past.

These four horsemen guide me much like they do the dog. Because I am a dog. I do not speak with; I listen, or I speak against. Speaking against is a deadly choice. Nobody else knows these horsemen like I do. Fury's mindless, circling pursuit, Contempt's piercing bite, Forethought's boring stare, and Patience's ceaseless shadow are all ghosts of my own to snap at. No matter how much I snap at them to chase them away, my teeth never connect with their bodies. They have none. I remember then you can't hurt an apparition.

Despite their metaphysical presence, they are there, as real as the air I breathe or the water I drink. Explaining that to anyone else, however, is impossible, and it is what makes me a dog, trapped in a cage of wordlessness. They are all I have in that void. What sets me and the dogs you pet and hug daily in your lives, however, is that people give dogs the benefit of the doubt. If a dog bites someone, the owner typically questions what the victim did to provoke their perfect pet.

I do not get such a reprieve. I am guilty regardless. I am smart. I am strong. I am perfection. That's what they say. Truth be told? I just think they don't want to face the facts that I may be suffering. To acknowledge so would be to take responsibility for personal failure. Because if I am the dog, then they are both the handler and the victim, and tanking the blame themselves is simply too difficult a thought to bear.

How easy it is to blame something that cannot speak to defend itself.