A New Cycle
Nathan Leslie

Each dog has its corner. The two brothers sit back to back in the middle of the room, feet out. Crab-like. They smell of sweat and shit. Their clothes molder against their backs. The snow quickens in the slat high above.
When the men come, the dogs eat and drink from the metal trough. Whatever the dogs don't eat the brothers get. Slim pickings. The brothers gnaw on bones.
They try to forget the night. The accusations are just that -- accusations. They know their morals are sound, no matter what. When the dogs glower, it is difficult to remember this.
The dogs sleep and wake from sleeping. It is as if they take turns. The men come and rotate new dogs into the chamber, relieve others. The dogs have clean fur, and they smell of pastures and pine cones.
"How long have we been here?" the younger brother asks. The dogs lift their heads, and one lifts its mouth to snarl, then doesn't. The older brother taps the younger brother.
"It is nobody's concern," he says. "Concentrate on faith."
Easier said than done, the younger brother thinks. The older brother closes his eyes. He remembers the days when the sun would slant through the windows, when the sweet, lilting music carried over the water. Those were days when their mother would stand them up, brush their hair, whisper.
The dogs don't pant. They hardly seem to breathe. Their eyes are waxy, ringed with the same gray in the granite walls. It will go on like this.