'What did you just say to us?' demanded the long-haired boy, driving the stick down into the ground as the three of them began to circle around him, leaving the poor, broken animal slumped against the wall. 'Did you just tell us what to do?'
'I - I -,' suddenly, Will's bravery abandoned him. The large figures of the boys blocked the moon from his sight, encircling him.
'If you've got something to say,' the tall boy said, smoothly and dangerously, 'say it now.'
'Or are you going to snitch on us?' asked the bald boy.
'N - no!' Will exclaimed hastily, his voice shaking. 'I promise I won't. We'll say somebody else hurt the dog, that's - that's what we'll tell the warden.' He took a step back as the boys advanced, moving around so that he stood with his back to the wall, they to the hillside.
'D'ya 'ear that, boys? "We", I think 'e fancies 'imself our equal. What a surprise.' His voice lowered menacingly. 'We've 'eard about you, the one who don't go a school. That 'cause you think you're beder than us, don't need no learning, d'ya?'
'No, I'm just - I'm just not allowed,' he stammered. 'I want to go, I swear.'
'Good fur nuttin twat,' the boy said curtly, 'I'll show ya 'ow the big boys live.' His drew back his fist, and suddenly a searing pain spread through Will's jaw, and he fell to the ground. He felt his nose snap as weakly as straw, hot blood pouring across his upper lip and into his mouth. Then, a foot collided with his side, then his knees, his stomach, the small of his back, each blow furthered the agony and made him cry out.
'How 'bout this? This hurt?' The long-haired boy lined up a shot between Will's legs. He curled himself up in a tight ball, a hand defending himself there as the pain burnt like wildfire. 'What d'ya know?' the boy chortled. 'He does have a cock!'
'Won't be much good to the hussies once we're done!' called the tall boy, out of breath from exertion, and excitement.
'Not even for Big Annie,' mused the bald boy, 'an' she can ride 'em all 'til noon!' As the boys laughed together, continuing their assault, tears and blood streamed across Will's face, each of his bones held the memory of a blow, he was unable to tell the difference between a break and a bruise. After a while, his lower body turned numb from the pain, leaving him unable to move, barely any strength to cry out and beg for respite.
''ad enough?' shouted the bald boy in Will's ears, they were ringing and near bursting.
'Please...' Will whimpered, his voice choked with tears of fear and agony, each pant aching his lungs, 'I'm sorry...'
'Get up!' one ordered with another kick to his back, though he was sure it was already broken. 'Spineless little freak!' The boy - long-haired, grabbed him by the neck and hoisted him up easily. The shift in position, the way his legs dragged the ground on the ascent had Will screaming out, hanging limply.
Will tried to speak, instead his stomach curdled, blood surged up his throat and he vomitted across the boy's hand. His emotionless face hardened in disgust. 'Eugh!' Easily, the boy tossed Will aside, his back colliding with the wall. He screamed out as he slumped to the ground. He felt blood pumping from the back of his head, and wondered in passing why he wasn't already dead. The sound of laughter perforated his skull like a drill, and as the boys turned their backs on him, Will felt something wet brush against his hand. He turned his head as slightly as he could, and saw the dog through his screen of hair. It smoothed his skin with its slobbery tongue, and Will's eyes widened as he saw blood dripping like tears from the dog's eyes, blind from where the sharpened stick had been, blood pumping through a head wound, deep to the white of its skull. Will's eyes filled with tears of sorrow, reaching out and stroking the dog's muzzle in comfort.
'It's fine,' he murmured, his voice slurred. The dog reacted, lying down with its chin on its paws, staring at him with empty eye sockets. 'It'll be over soon...'