where the writers are
"Scandalously Short Story Contest" : Sludge.

I am a dog. An unknown breed. I look like a cross between a mutt and a poodle. You can see me in the news digests of Reuters and AP. If I wagged my tail and barked a little, I might have made it to Youtube. Then according to how cute and desperate I looked, there might a few million hits. So there I am. Covered in the stuff. I look like something from Pompeii. A kind of teracotta dog. God knows how long I will last. All I know is that one day I was digging into my favourite rabbit and chicken mix, when all of a sudden I am covered in this stuff. I looked for my owners. They were gone. I whined for a while, then I saw this man with a camera. He looked in my direction, and probably thought, a photo opportunity. I would have dearly liked to run over there and ripped into his manhood, but years of submission, have taught me to look lost. He took more shots of me. I decided perhaps he liked me. I mean to say, anyone who takes a lot of photographs of you, must have some interest. So, I toddled over to him. It was difficult being the "Pooch from Pompeii". He was in his mid-forties I guess. Which would put him the canine book of records. Anyway, I go up to him. Looking all forlorn. He seemed irritated. Indeed his irritation manifested itself in a swift motor action - a kick. He kicked me! Would I now bite him? I tried a snarl. My jaw hurt. I couldn't manage it. Instead I moved slowly back to the house. I heard another photographer shout out at my paparazzi. "You bastard!" It was a woman. Why is compassion gendered these days, I don't know, but it is. She came running up with a cloth of sorts. She was going to rescue me! Saved! I glugged a bit. This stuff was inside me. I could feel my stomach was burning. She had short hair and a face lined from covering Afghanistan. "Come here, look at you, what a mess!" She picked me up, and with a bit of an effort as I was heavier with this stuff, marched right up to the other photographer. "See this is a victim!" "Typical of you to intervene." He muttered in a hangover tone. "Don't you know we are supposed to just report, snap and out?" "Yes, but once in a while, we can do things to help." "Oh, yeah, that dog is finished, don't you know what aluminium does to the system? Kindest thing would be to take it one side and hammer it with a brick and then bury it." I really wanted to bite him then. Rage was building up. But she defended my right to survive. "Remember the BP spill?" "Of course it was only a few months ago." "So, did you help any of those birds?" "No." "I did, and some survived." "Not our job honey. Now if you don't mind I am off to do some editing. I got my shots for the day." I was now whining again. "Look at him. I reckon he'll survive. He has guts, which is more than you have." "Oh spare the sermons - what about the people!" She was unsure what to reply. "I will help them too." Now even I knew this was untrue. "I will see it when it happens - I'm off, and I'll see you in the airport bar." "Perhaps." They were a couple. She put me down and with the cloth tried to get the sediment out. Difficult as it was hard and dry as clay. I stayed still as she yanked and combed my coat. She was getting quite frantic now. The movements that started with a certain gentleness now were furious. I saw then the photographer come back. "Look I have Googled this poisoning and it looks as if our guy here will die anyway. He has probably ingested it, and definitely all that sludge on him will cause real deep burns to his tissues. I would leave him." She stopped pulling at my fur and looked at him in desperation. "But we can't leave him. We can't." He bent down and held her  wrist. "Your compassion is getting the better of you. I love dogs too. I have had one in the past. You know that. But this little fella has had it." It was a make or break situation. I tried my hardest. I gave her my please look after me for the rest of my natural term stare. It failed. Common sense which is so brutal, came upon her. She stood up and left me on the ground. "That's my girl." "Don't patronise me Frank." "I wasn't Nancy. Would I ever do that?" He said it with a smile. My plight had brought this toxic relationship, as Dr. Phil puts it, together, leaving me to my fate. They made their way to the 4 wheel drives and negotiated their way out of a moral dilemma. Love conquers all, especially the "Pooch from Pompeii". I would like to think we had a Hallmark greeting ending. But man-made disasters just get worse. As for me. I was done for. I would last a week at tops, before I succumbed to man's idiocy.