Beware of the Dog

Roald Dahl

Down below there was only a vast white sea of clouds. Above there was the sun, and the sun was white like the clouds, because it is never yellow when one looks at it from high in the air.

He was still flying the Spitfire. His right hand was on the controls. It was quite easy. The machine was flying well. He knew what he was doing.

Everything is fine, he thought. I know my way home. I'll be there in half an hour. When I land I shall switch off my engine and say, 'Help me to get out, will you?' I shall make my voice sound ordinary and natural and none of them will take any notice. Then I shall say, 'Someone help me to get out. I can't do it alone because I've lost one of my legs.' They'll all laugh and think I'm joking and I shall say, 'All right, come and have a look.' Then Yorky will climb up on to the wing and look inside. He'll probably be sick because of all the blood and the mess. I shall laugh and say, 'For God's sake, help me get out.'

He glanced down again at his right leg. There was not much of it left. The bullets had hit him, just above the knee, and now there was nothing but a great mess and a lot of blood. But there was no pain. When he looked down, he felt as if he were seeing something that did not belong to him. It was just a mess which was there; something strange and unusual and rather interesting. It was like finding a dead cat on the sofa.

He still felt fine, and because he still felt fine, he felt excited and unafraid.

I won't even bother to radio for the ambulance, he thought. It isn't necessary. And when I land I'll sit there quite normally and say, 'Some of you fellows come and help me out, will you, because I've lost one of my legs.' I'll laugh a little while I'm saying it; I'll say it calmly and slowly, and they'll think I'm joking. Then when I get out I'll make my report. Later I'll go up to London. I'll take that bottle of whisky with me and I'll give it to Bluey. We'll sit in her room and drink it. When it's time to go to bed, I'll say, 'Bluey, I've got a surprise for you. I lost a leg today. But I don't mind if you don't. It doesn't even hurt...' We'll go everywhere in cars. I always hated walking.