Anna Reith Not all fairy stories have sparkles, as one unsuspecting Animal Control Officer is about to discover."> Frith Books - The Night Shift by Anna Reith
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The Night Shift by Anna Reith


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1 Review

by Anna Reith

Not all fairy stories have sparkles, as one unsuspecting Animal Control Officer is about to discover.



Animal Control Officer Rebecah Pearsall hates working the night shift. As a full moon rises over Seattle, there are even more crazy people than usual roaming the streets, and Becah really doesn’t need any more complications. But an encounter behind the local pizzeria brings her into contact with the strangest dog she’s ever seen – and Gabe, who really isn’t your average black-leather-clad elf….

This short story is also available in the volume ‘Black Ice: collected stories‘, which can be purchased in ebook and paperback formats.


Additional information


Anna Reith



Kindle ASIN



Short Fiction (10,000 – 17,000 words), 12,257 words (36 .pdf pages)

Available formats

.pdf, .epub (provided as .zip file)

Cover design

Anna Reith. Original photography by Christopher Campbell.



Read an excerpt


© Anna Reith. All rights reserved.

Rebecah Pearsall loathed the night shift. For one thing, it brought all the crazies out of the woodwork. Not two weeks ago, she’d had to deal with a guy who swore he was a werewolf. At first he’d seemed harmless enough, just tagged around after her making weird snuffling noises and asking if she had any lady dogs in the back of the van… but then the clouds had parted, the moonlight spilled over West Barrett Street, and Mr. Werewolf went totally crazy. He’d tried to simultaneously hump her leg and bite her throat and, in the end, Rebecah had been forced to hit him in the head with her flashlight.

She hated to do that to street people; even with the crazy ones it still left a bad taste in her mouth. And it wasn’t as if the moon had even been properly full that night. She’d wondered, for a while, what would have happened if it had been… which was why Rebecah didn’t like the night shift. It changed the way you thought.

Hard to believe she couldn’t carry a Taser or a gun, either. Not even a nightstick. Her tough nylon jacket, with its faux sheepskin collar, and her heavy duty—though decidedly unflattering—black pants gave her the appearance of a cop, but afforded her neither the powers nor the perks. A shame, given that a lot of her job involved confrontation with hostile and often unpleasant members of the public; people who didn’t see why their dogs barking incessantly at four a.m. caused a problem, or why some woman from Animal Control should dare to come by and suggest they fed the damn thing before it got hungry enough to howl. Then there were the packs of kids who roamed around by the cemetery. Sick, twisted little creeps who usually ran away when Rebecah pulled up in her panel van and left whatever poor creature they’d been flame-grilling or stoning to her mercies but, one of these days—so her mother kept saying—one of the weirdoes would turn on her with a knife.

Rebecah understood the dangers of her job. She just didn’t think about them; it made it easier to get through it that way. Besides, she had her two-way radio and a good relationship with the beat cops who often had to call her in to assist with corralling a dangerous dog or to identify some mysterious animal bite.

Despite all the blackness and the evil she saw, Rebecah still felt at home on her patrol. As if what she did mattered. Some little comfort she could offer, some kind of relief to the suffering out there….

She just wished she drew the day rounds more often.

Rebecah pulled the van in at the mouth of an alleyway behind Bernardino’s Pizzeria. This was the worst time of year for it, as well. Christmas… season of goodwill and charity? Bullcrap. Oh, they had some ragged tinsel and a few paper chains up in the reception at the shelter, and they usually experienced a brief surge in the donations of food and blankets for the animals, but it didn’t make up for what they had to see between now and February. The cruelty cases, the unwanted presents, crumpled up like paper cups and tossed in the trash….

Time for peace and goodwill? Yeah. My holly jolly ass it is.

She flicked her radio on to register her presence at the scene—just another stray dog sighted rooting through the garbage—and promised Dean, her supervisor, that it wouldn’t be long before she’d be back at the shelter.

“Honestly? No, it’s been a pretty quiet night. Just those licensing violations you sent me on, the two stray cats from outside that apartment block, and the neglect case on 10th Avenue. Yeah, she’s in the back now. Poor girl’s got nothing on her. Like a bag of coat hangers wrapped in a furry chamois.”

The radio buzzed and crackled, and Dean’s voice cut through the static.

“You takin’ another one home, Becah?”

She curled her lip. That wasn’t even a full joke. Rebecah couldn’t stand to see the most elderly, the sickest, or the really terrified ones shut in kennels night after night. Not when it was as cold and dark as this. The shelter’s foster program helped get a lot of animals out into loving temporary homes and allowed them to increase the number of spaces available for emergencies… but it would never be enough. Nothing was ever enough, and that was what drove a lot of people out of animal welfare.

Bleeding hearts get far too easily broken.

Dean acted softer than most in his position. He worked both in the shelter—supervising the new and junior staff, dealing with potential adopters and pet license issues—and out on patrol. Rebecah had seen, in one of their more intimate moments, the scar that ran halfway across his stomach; the result of a bite from a Rottweiler he’d tried to retrieve during a police drugs bust. Pit bull mixes had come more into fashion for that kind of guard dog since, though Dean always said that, if it had been a pit bull, he’d have lost more than some skin and his pride.

He’d cried when they had to euthanize the Rott.

No, he’d be more than likely to put a nest of blankets down behind his desk for the bag of bones that currently resided in the back of Rebecah’s van, whimpering softly to herself in the transit crate. And he had a point—either one of them could well end up taking the dog home.

Rebecah wondered, in a half-hearted kind of way, what would happen if they ever did move in together. Granted, a premature thought to have on the strength of a few sort-of-dates after work (breakfast at Seattle’s second-worst pancake house) and one slightly drunken but still memorable tumble on her birthday… but curiosity got the better of her all the same. She could picture a house with a scrubby yard and a permanent posse of lost causes; spare bedrooms turned over to litters of sick kittens and two hour rotas for kaolin paste flushes pinned to the refrigerator any day they were home.

She smiled as she depressed the button on the radio.

“Maybe. I might do. You wait until you see her. I’m guessing rough collie mix, maybe some hound in there… she didn’t even twitch when I picked her up. Wagged her damn tail at me. I’ve given her some electrolytes, but I think she’ll need IV fluids when I get her back.”

“You on your way?”

“Almost. Just this last check, and that’s only to keep Mr. Bernardino happy. For all I know, it could be human strays picking through the dumpster.”

“Be careful, won’t you, Bec?”

Something Dean didn’t take the trouble to say warmed the edges of his voice, but then he had a talent for that. Rebecah blamed it on their working together, but neither of them ever really said what they meant. He certainly didn’t. Never to her face. She had to admit, it made things easier… but it would still have been nice, just once, to let the walls down.

Who knew what would happen?

“Yeah,” Rebecah said curtly, because the responses he tended to tug from her had started to build, and Dean really didn’t have the right to do that to her. “Yeah, I will.”

She signed off and got out of the van, determined to ignore the pathetic mewls from the cats and the heartbroken whimper from the starved bitch, all settled in their respective crates. It didn’t work.

“Not long now,” she muttered and patted the side panel of the van.

Rebecah fingered the flashlight on her belt and walked cautiously into the alleyway. She craned her head, alert for any sound, any movement that could tell her what—if anything—was lurking in the shadows. Her heartbeat rose, like it did every damn time she had to do this, and she resisted the urge to grumble under her breath about how much she hated the godforsaken night shift.

Silly, really.

A dog would already have caught her scent, and a human stray wouldn’t have cared whether she was talking to herself or not.

The breath caught in Rebecah’s throat. There. A noise. And something… a light, lithe shadow slipped through the gloom. The alley wasn’t wide enough for her to hug one wall in order to get a better view around the bend, and after a brief glance at the grubby brickwork, Rebecah didn’t much feel like sticking too close to it anyway.

She edged forward. Shuffling noises echoed against the brickwork, but they didn’t sound anything like a person.

Rebecah clicked her tongue a couple of times, and the sound bounced back at her from the bricks. She reached for the flexible plastic loop-leash on her belt and unhooked it. The mangled smells of pizza toppings, tomato, and cooked dough hung heavy on the air. She’d find the dog scavenging out of the pizzeria’s dumpsters, Rebecah decided, starving and too focused on its food to hear her approach.

She just hoped it wasn’t a bitch with pups.

The little ones, born out in the filth and the trash, invariably had health problems, and Mom wasn’t usually fit enough to feed them. Rebecah wasn’t in any hurry to watch something like parvovirus decimate the whole family before the little ones’ eyes even opened.

She clicked her tongue again.

“Here, girl. C’mere, pretty girl. Or boy. Are you a good boy?”

Another rustle of movement, and there was a sound very much like the familiar clack of dog claws on hard ground. Rebecah tried not to tense. A low growl issued from behind the grey metallic bulk of the dumpster, but it wasn’t a challenge… more a rumble of surprise.

1 review for The Night Shift by Anna Reith

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    This was a great, quick read. I’ll look forward to more from Ms. Reith.

    Review from

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