|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
Sirius - The Dog's Tale
Dedicated to the memory of the innocent dogs destroyed under the UK 'Dangerous Dogs Act 1991'. It was not your fault you were born the breed you were, it is our fault we let this happen to you. You will not be forgotten. "Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light"
It was a cold December afternoon when it all started. A phone call from Dr. Svenson. "Come on over; we need to talk" he said. Snow flurries had already started to fall as I drove the few miles from my office to the Ralph M. Lansberg Center for Experimental Cytology, a two-storey glass fronted building set in an archetypal techno-park of corporate landscapes, rolling lawns, parking lots and security cameras.
Inside, the reception area was decorated in pastel colors, with an eclectic assortment of modern art covering the walls. A faint smell of freshly-brewed coffee perfumed the air. Svenson came to reception to meet me; he was a tall, middle-aged guy with close-cropped gray hair and a curious mid-west-Swedish accent.
"Hi David" he said, shaking my hand, "Good you could make it". This was for me a new interpretation of the word 'good'. How I hated this place, not for what it was, but for what it meant to me. We walked down anonymous but brightly lit corridors to his office, where he sat down behind a large leather topped mahogany desk. He took a small hand-held controller, pointed it at the wall, and a panel slid back to reveal a large luminescent display screen.
"You see" he said, "we completed the tests this morning, thats why we need to talk". A flickering image appeared on the screen, and he began to use an electronic cursor to highlight certain areas. "This is the composite enhanced image from all the scans we did, look here, you see this reddish area, and this one, and this one.."
I stared at the screen; only after some seconds did I realise that the image flickering and pulsing in myriaid colors was a scan of my own body.
"Yes, I see them" I said, with some uncertainty, "But just what do the red areas mean?".
Svenson looked away from the screen, but also away from me. "Those", he said, "are the places, the places where the cellular breakdown has already become irreversible. And you see these orange patches, here, and here, and here, and this yellow area; these are the next to go. We knew it was bad at the outset, these scans show just how bad it really is". By now about a tenth of the area of the image was highlighted; I realised that I was being told seriously bad news. Svenson turned to me and looked me straight in the eyes, with a cold, piercing stare. His words came slowly but with a horrible clarity.
"This thing is eating you away from inside", then, lowering his voice, he delivered the diagnosis that sent a cold shiver from the base of my spine to the root of my consciousness.
"It's terminal; if it continues at this rate, you will be dead within six months".
On leaving the building, I felt cold. Cold outside, and cold inside. Locking the transmission into 'Sport' mode, I hit the gas, and drove like a man posessed, not caring what happened. After all, I had been given what was essentially a deferred death sentence, so why should I care if I killed myself? The snow was falling heavier now, the icy winter winds whipping it into eddies and small drifts. I knew I was a good driver; dammit, I'd raced cars in the past, but always my sense of self-preservation had kept me alive. But just how good was I? Could I go right to the edge of my performance envelope and survive? Black ice? no problem, a touch of opposite lock and a squirt of gas. I passed trucks on the wrong side, shot red lights, and drove on through an all-embracing black mist of despair, all the time expecting the blue light of a following speed cop to bring me to my senses.
In my mind, I rehearsed what I would say to him if he could catch me, how I could laugh in his face and say that by the time any court case came up I would be dead anyway. That idea seemed funny, in a sick kind of way. And if I killed someone else with my crazy driving, so what? Big deal. What's so great about human life anyway? Shit, this was some fine christmas present.
But in the mad turmoil of my mind, one of Dr. Svenson's words from earlier that afternoon kept surfacing briefly, only to sink back into my mental maelstrom.
A curious word, one I had never heard before. 'Biomorph'. I thought. Biomorph. An ugly-shaped word. It had a cold, metallic, clincal sound to it, but as I drove, this one word burrowed its way deep into my mind, and gave me hope.
That night, alone in my apartment, I took comfort in a bottle of bourbon and a pile of old CDs I still had from my days at university; Enya, Dead can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Loreena McKennitt; all food for the soul, easing me into fitful sleep on the sofa.
Next morning, I awoke late. The winter weather had chilled the house, snow was still falling outside. What a day! My mouth tasted like the inside of a garbage can, and I had the shivers, but my mind was crystal clear. I was going to do it!
Grabbing the phone, I hit [REDIAL] and within seconds, was through to Dr. Svenson.
"Sure" he said, "Come on over; we can start right away".
Later that morning, in Svenson's laboratory, he explained the procedure. "You see, we take some of the healthy cells from your body, and extract the genetic information from them; then we use this to recreate an entirely new body for you. But without any personality; you see, though we can clone flesh and bone, as yet we are not able to clone memory, so what we get is completely you in the physical sense, but in mind it is totally empty; because the tissues come completely from your existing genetic makeup it is as close to actually being you as we can possibly get; then when its ready, we just transplant your brain from your old diseased body into the new one; its a perfect fit, you see, because, well, it is actually an identical you that we transplant the brain into. And it does away with all the problems of rejection we used to have with donor bodies, and the legal issues are so much simpler because, well, you are still you".
"It sounds so simple" I said, "but surely there must be some problems?"
"Well" said Svenson, "Theres just two. Under an international agreement bio-engineered material is not allowed to reproduce, so we have to make your new body infertile, but thats just the same as having a vasectomy".
"I guess thats not so bad" I replied, "I never did like the idea of breeding, what with the overpopulation and everything; whats the other problem?"
Svenson gave a smile. "Ah well, you see, the second problem is what we, or rather, what you, choose to do with your old body. It has to be destroyed; legally it's classed as genetic waste, but it's still legally yours, you see, to dispose of as you wish. Most people choose a cremation, but theres still something wierd; you see, if you want to, you can go to your own funeral".
I could not help but smile. There was something attractively surreal about the idea of inviting my friends along to watch my old body going up in smoke, and being there myself. "Some people find that hard to come to terms with" continued Svenson, "the first time we did it, it was headline news; the religious types held protests outside the crematorium, and it all got a bit out of hand".
I vaguely remembered seeing it on CNN. "Was that the case where the woman wanted 'Light my Fire' played as the flames started?" I asked. "Oh, you remember!" said Svenson with a smile, "I thought that was a nice touch, sort of appropriate under the circumstances; it has a rather nice organ intro, very... very sepulchral".
"What happens if I want to go ahead with the procedure?" I asked.
"Easy" said Svenson, "We already have some of your body tissues in cryogenic storage from the biopsy we did last month; we just separate the healthy cells, extract the genetic information, start the cloning, and in about six weeks your new body should be ready. Then we do the transplant, and most people are ready to leave the clinic and get on with their lives within a week, I know I was, you know how they say doctors never make good patients?". I looked at him in amazement. "You mean, you, you are...?" "Yes" he said with a smile, "I had inoperable bone cancer five years ago, I guess you could say I ended up making the greatest possible commitment to my own research".
The next six weeks were the wierdest period I had at that time experienced, watching my new body grow and develop from a tiny blob of cells in a dish, through all the stages of childhood and adolescence, into a perfect copy of the body in which I had lived for the last thirty two years. It seemed to thrill with life, yet I knew that, lacking a brain, it was nothing more than a piece of meat. Living meat, yes, but just a heap of reflexes, not even as sentient as the simplest amoeba.
On the eighteenth of February, Svenson called me at my office late in the afternoon. "It's time" he said, "We need to admit you for tests, then if all is OK the operation can begin the following day. We must move fast to get the correct aging window on your new body". Outside the slush lay in frozen heaps at the side of the highway as I drove to the clinic. A wall of warm air greeted me at the reception desk; Svenson appeared perfectly on cue.
"Glad you could make it" he said, "The ideal aging window is tomorrow morning; we can be sure that your new body and your old one will be synchronised in time to within a couple of days; this is really very good!". He showed me into a bedroom, and pointed out a white hospital gown lying on the bed. "Take a shower and then put this on" he said, "Then we will be ready to begin the tests".
I showered, dressed, and climbed into bed. Some minutes later, a young nurse entered. Rolling up my sleeve, she swabbed my arm with an alcohol impregnated wipe, and, smiling, slipped a needle into a vein. "See you in the morning" she remarked, with a voice reminiscent of a bored airline stewardess, then to round off the illusion, she came out with "Have a nice trip"!
A wave of coldness flowed up my arm, through my shoulder, up my neck, then.... darkness................
I do not know how long I was unconscious, but I could tell that something was horribly wrong as soon as I started to come round. My head hurt, that was only to be expected. But oh how it hurt. Like a lifetime's worth of hangovers compressed into one; like a million woodpeckers trying to get out of my skull; like all the radios in the world turned up to full volume and playing inside my head. The world seemed different. At first I thought it might be an effect of the anesthetic; sounds and smells seemed curiously intensified, my body felt, well, different. Opening my eyes, revealed a world of total whiteness at first, then, as my optic nerves grew used to being back in use, I began to make out my surroundings, dimly at first, then growing clearer.
This time I seemed to be lying on my chest rather than on my back; I was not in a bed, there was what appeared to be a wire mesh grating a few inches in front of me. Strange... was this some wierd hallucination from the anesthetic, or an artifact of the neurological re-plumbing I knew would have been carried out to connect my old brain to my new body?
I lapsed back into unconsciousness, for how long I do not know, then opening my eyes a second time, the first thing that struck me was that I seemed to have something brown, and hairy, where my nose had been. Most odd... I moved a hand forward to see if I could feel what it was, but when my hand moved in front of my eyes, what I saw was not a hand, but a brown, hairy PAW with CLAWS! This was most definitely not right; this was no hallucination; it was too real for that.
I tried with the other hand, only to discover that it too was hairy and clawed. With this came an appalling realisation that I was no longer in the body of a human, but had somehow become transferred into the body of what seemed at first sight to be a large brown DOG. I opened my mouth and cried out in a combination of anguish, fear and pain, but all that came out was a terrifying AAWWWWOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lying in what I now understood was a cage, I heard a scuffling. My cry of distress had woken something, or someone, in the cage adjacent to mine. To my amazement, I heard a voice, low, growly and uncertain, but definitely a voice! I opened my eyes, and saw that the next cage was occupied by what appeared to be a a yellow labrador, who was staring down at me with an expression which could be of pity, confusion, or amazement, depending on how you read it.
The growly voice came again, more certain this time, and I got the distinct impression that it was female.
"Hello" it said, "and what, or who, do we have here then?". My mind was in a state of total turmoil; trying to come to terms with having somehow been transmuted into a dog was bad enough, but to then have another dog start asking me questions was the stuff of madness. I opened my mouth, but what could I say? All that came out was a strangled moan. Trying again, I managed to make a noise which was meant to be "what happened?", though there was no way I could tell whether the other dog understood. A few seconds later it was obvious that my message had got through. "I was wondering what you were going to be when you came back, looks like you and I are both more of Svenson's failures" said the voice, which I now realised was definitely the dog in the cage next to me. "Oh, by the way, my name's Ann" it said, "Whats yours?".
My mind was still racing. What did she mean "came back?". Then it hit me, she had known me as a real dog, probably living in this very cage, before the operation, and now she was trying to find out about what I had become. This was too much; the idea of now being a dog was bad enough, but being in a body that had been stolen from its rightful owner, brain scraped out of the skull cavity and left to die in some darkened sluice room, the whole idea turned my stomach. I opened my mouth and let out a long howl of rage. "AWWWOOOOOOOOO!".
"SSSHH!" said the other dog, "They'll hear you if you make that racket all the time. Now just calm down, we're in this together, so we'd better get to know each other and work out what to do. What did you say your name was?". I raised my head. "David" I gasped, "how did.... how did all this happen?" "Looks like Svenson made a balls-up with you as well as with me" she said, "were you in for a biomorph?". "Yes...." I grunted, "but.... but how long have you been here?". "Oh, about three weeks" she replied, "but its hard to tell the time in here, they never turn the lights out fully, security, you know, and there are no windows so you never get to know when its dark outside. Oh, do you know what you are? I think I'm a retriever, but its hard to tell from inside".
I looked through the mesh of the cage, at the yellow dog sitting looking down at me. She looked, well, nice, in a doggy sort of way. "Yeah" i growled, "you look like a retriever to me, but...." the question was so hard to ask, "but... what.... what am I?" "German Shepherd" she replied, "Brown, with black markings, and you are most definitely male".
I suddenly realised that as well as my brain throbbing with angst, my body was lying in a most uncomfortable position, but my first attempts to stand up were hopeless. Not used to being a quadruped, I tried to stand on my hind legs, which immediately buckled under the uneven weight of my body. After some minutes of struggle, I managed to lift the front of my body up on my elbows, then raised it so my arms, or should I say forelegs, fully supported my torso, then I slowly lifted my hind quarters off the ground, to stand, wobbly, but on all fours at last. But when I wanted to move forward, I was in a quandary. Which leg should I move first? Choosing a foreleg, I lifted it clear of the ground, overbalanced, and fell with a crash back into the straw in which I had been lying. I heard what sounded like a giggle from the other dog. "This four legged stuff is harder than it looks" she said, "it took me a day to work out how to stand properly; I still forget about my back legs sometimes".
Struggling back to my feet, I got a cold feeling round my belly, which rapidly grew into a realisation that I was wet. I had pissed myself. Oh the indignity of it; somehow I was going to have to take control of this alien body and show it who was master. There were parts of it that were totally new to me; four legs rather than two, directable ears, and a tail. How did they work? What about eating? Drinking? Peeing? Thinking it over, there was something else.... yes, I was completely naked!
Nudity had always seemed to me, well, ridiculous, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed OK for a dog to be nude, after all, I was covered with fur, which would hide any blushes, so it wasnt so bad, was it? Cold and wet, and with strange thoughts floating through my mind, I drifted into a fitful sleep.
I woke after, well, it was impossible to tell. Ann was already awake. "Feeling better now? that sleep should have gotten the last of the anesthetic out of your system" she growled. I tried to stand up, and again went through the process of falling over, several times. Cursing under my breath, I eventually stood upright. I was hungry, and thirsty.
"Hey", I whimpered, "what do we do for food round here?"
"Try behind you" said Ann, "in that metal tray". I turned round, with some great difficulty; it seemed that all my legs were getting in the way of each other. In the corner was a flat metal tray with two wells pressed into it, one filled with water, the other with some light brown kibble. "Water first" I thought to myself, and buried my nose in the appropriate bowl, intending to take a long slurp. But within seconds I began to gasp and sneeze; I had forgotten that my nostrils were now on the end of my snout; it was impossible to drink and breathe at the same time. And what was worse, my lips were all wrong, no way could I suck the water into my mouth.
Again from the next cage came a giggle. "No, try to lick the water up with your tongue" barked Ann, "Easy when you get the knack". I tried it as she had said, and indeed it was easy. I was able to roll the end of my tongue back into a sort of spoon, and use it to flick scoopfuls of water into my mouth. Then, when I had taken my fill, I decided it was time to eat. Moving to the food-well [and falling over twice in doing so], I sniffed at the kibble. YEUCH! The smell was gross, reminding me of the time I had visited a leather-factory. Ann called across, "Try some; theyre not as bad as they look, or smell; you get used to them after a few days". I took a few pieces into my mouth, they had a crunchy, not altogether unpleasant texture, but the taste was reminiscent of a seriously bad barbecue. I pitied dogs, only ever being fed dog-food, and denied the pleasure of variety. Still, this stuff was food, and I was hungry. The biggest problem was to try and coordinate my legs while I ate; it seemed every time I stopped consciously thinking about standing up, I fell over.
After eating my fill, I became aware of another sensation. The water I had drank had worked its way through my system, and I urgently needed to piss. But how? I had seen dogs lift their leg against hydrants, trees and the like, but never thought I would have to do it myself.
Which leg should I lift? And where should I go? Looking round, I realised that if I did it anywhere in the cage, it would soak into the straw that was my bed; not an attractive thought. I moved to the edge of the wire cage and looked out; if I could just get into the right position... I could aim through the wire mesh of the cage. Gingerly, I lifted a leg, propped myself against the mesh of the cage, took aim as best I could under the circumstances, and let go. Ah, the relief.
The sound of splashing water drew Ann's attention; she came over and saw what I was doing. "Hey; thats neat!" she said, "Us girls just have to go in the corner... say, you sure are one big dog!". Fortunately for me, my blushes were invisible beneath my fur. With my bladder empty, the sound of running water died away. Through the hum of ventilation fans I thought I heard a noise. "Shh... whats that?" I called across to Ann, "Sounds like it's coming from outside".
"Yeah, I can hear it too. Humans; sounds like there are at least two of them" she said. Then there was a sound of cursing and a few metallic squeals, followed by the noise of splintering wood. "Over there" I called out to Ann, and automatically gestured with what had previously been my left arm in the direction from which the noises were coming. Trying to stand on three legs, I fell over. Ann giggled. In one corner of the room, a door swung open, and two men, dressed in combat fatigues, faces covered in balaclavas, burst in. One was carrying a camcorder, the other a large canvas bag, which from the weight of it I guessed carried tools. I looked across to Ann. "What the...?" I barked. She looked back at me with an expression of confused fear.
"Shit" she cursed, "looks like this place is being raided!"
The man with the camcorder stood next to the door, and slowly panned it round the room. "Jeez; this place stinks!" he said. His associate took a couple of steps forward. "Over here" he whispered, and both men started to come toward the cages containing Ann and myself. As they approached, a very funny thing happened; the guy with the camcorder was still filming when he got to within about three feet of my cage, when he suddenly and without warning, let out a strange cry, carried out a graceful pirouette, and fell flat on his ass. The camcorder flew from his hand, and went spinning across the floor, ejecting its battery and data-cartridge as it did so. "SHIT!" cursed the startled man as he staggered back to his feet. Then I realised with a giggle that, being engrossed in looking through the viewfinder of the camcorder, he had slipped in the pool of my urine. He stood up; his hands and pants were dripping wet. "SHIT!" he cursed again, then got back on his knees and began groping around in the semi-darkness under tables and benches in search of the smashed camcorder.
"Leave it Mike" ordered his companion, "Here's what we came for!". The doors of the cages were rapidly opened, and heavy hands gripped me by my collar.
"Hey! Get off!" I barked, "You dont understand! We are NOT dogs!". Looking across to Ann's cage I saw that the guy who had fallen over had got hold of her by the scruff of her neck, and was trying to pull her out of her cage.
"NO!" she growled, "Hey! Stop this!", and she sank her teeth into his thigh. Then all hell broke loose. Not really knowing how to walk, I simply sat down. The man tried to drag me by my collar, I bit him on the arm, he let out a startled cry of pain, stood up, and caught the back of his head on the edge of the cage door. From the noises coming from the adjoining cage, it was clear that Ann was putting up a fight too. We both realised that if these people succeeded in "liberating" us, we would have no hope of ever regaining human bodies. But then everything went black.
I could not see anything, my hearing was muffled too. I realised that a sack had been placed over my head. Unable to see, what could I do? I felt myself being lifted up, and carried, rather roughly. "Hey Ann; whats happening?" I barked; "Not sure, the bastards put a bag over my head!" she replied. I soon realised from the sudden cold that we were outside; then I had the sensation of being placed in an enclosed space. The slamming of doors, followed by the starting of an engine, told me I was in some form of vehicle. The scents filtering through the sack told me that Ann had been put in the vehicle too; I could hear her breathing a few feet in front of me. Afraid, I began to whimper. "Hey" she growled, "cut that out; no point feeling self-pity, remember we are both in this mess; I need you as much as you need me!". It was good knowing she was in the truck with me; I knew I was not alone, and that if we could just stick together, we would pull through. Somehow.
After a long, cold journey in the back of the truck, we were roughly carried down what felt like a flight of stairs, and, once inside what I realised was a basement room, our sacks were removed. Unaccustomed to the light, I looked round, blinking. Ann had similarly had her sack removed. I barked a little cry of recognition, and tried to stand up. Whether through fear, anger, or experience, I now found it much easier to come to terms with four legs. One of the men approached; without his balaclava I could see that he was white, blond-haired, about 20. He bent down as if to pet me, but I resented this unauthorised intrusion, and bared my teeth; if I was going to be touched, it was to be with my consent, or not at all. Despite my showing of teeth, he tried to touch my shoulders; I growled, and when he persisted, snapped at his hand. My teeth connected with the end of his index finger; I felt the flesh tear, and tasted the warm sweetness of his blood. He yelled out in pain, and tried to kick me, but I was too quick for him, turning with an alacrity which amazed me, to dodge his boot. Cursing, and dripping blood, he ran out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Ann came over to me, and licked my face. "Nice one" she said, "guess its one nil to us! Say, lets have a look round this place and see if theres any way out".
The room was shabbily furnished, the carpet showing many signs of cigarette burns, and spillages of who knows what. There were no windows, and from the smell of damp, we both agreed we were in a basement room. One corner of the room smelled seriously of mold, in another corner was a bed, covered by a soiled duvet. Old newspapers and magazines covered the floor.
On the door of one of the closets was a mirror. I made my way over to it, interested to see what I looked like. What I saw shocked me; yes, I knew I was a dog, but seeing myself like this for the very first time was a most disturbing experience. And the top of my head was a serious mess; all the fur had been cut away, and there was a scar that ran across just below my ears, above my eyes, and round the back to a place I could not see. Ugly stitches held the skin together, the whole area was black and blue with bruising and swelling.
Ann was sniffing round a desk at one side of the room. "Hey, stop admiring yourself; come and look at this" she barked. I trotted over. On the desk was an ancient computer, the old type with a keyboard rather than voice recognition, powered up, and loaded with a word-processing program. How quaint; it was years since I had last used one of these. Ann looked at me; she did not need to say anything for me to realise what she was getting at. Since our captors did not understand our barking and growling as speech, could we perhaps use this primitive word processor to tell them? But how? I stood up on my hind legs, and found it relatively easy to place my forelegs on the table, one each side of the keyboard. Ann put her forepaws on the desk alongside me, and watched. Instinctively I wanted to type with my hands, but these were now paws, and so not naturally compatible with human-type key spacing. I tried using the underside of my nose, but this was useless, no way could I see what was happening, and kept getting three keys at once. Then, looking round, I spotted a pencil, the type with an eraser on the end. Did people still use these things?
If I could just get it into my mouth... it would make an ideal typing stick. Ann realised what I was trying to do, and nosed the pencil over to me. With some difficulty, I hooked it up with my tongue and gripped it between my teeth, whacked the RETURN key a few times to get the hang of it, then, slowly, began to type out my message....
YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOU MUST TAKE US BACK WE ARE SPECIAL WE ARE NOT D
We were both so engrossed in the typing that we had not heard one of the men enter the room behind us. He saw us both at the computer, and shouted out "Hey! get away from that". We both scattered. The man came over to the computer, and looked down. It seemed that in typing, I had drooled all over the keyboard. He reached for a tissue to mop up the mess, then looked up at the monitor. "Holy Shit!" he gasped, "Hey Mike; get in here, FAST!".
The door flew open and Mike came in. He had a cloth tied round his hand, and looked at me with an evil expression, his hand was clearly still very sore. I moved to one side, not sure whether I could guarantee to dodge his boot a second time.
"What the fuck is it?" he cursed. The other guy pointed to the screen. "Look at the fuckin' screen; That big fuckin' dog can TYPE!". I realised that, in his haste, Mike had left the door to the room open. "Quick, follow me" I shouted to Ann as I headed for the door. She ducked between Mike's legs, catching him off balance. Once out of the room, we were faced with three possible exits. From the smells, one was clearly a kitchen, the other a bathroom. We took the third exit, up a flight of stairs, but at the top we turned a corner and found our path blocked by a glass panelled door. There was only one thing to do.
"Stand back" I barked to Ann, "I'm going through!". She looked at me in horror. "Are you crazy?" she barked, "That's a plate glass panel!". But there was no time to lose, I could hear one of the men starting to climb the steps behind me. "Yeah, sure I'm crazy!" I barked, "Just watch this!".
Taking a run at the panel, I turned my head to one side just before the moment of impact, so the shock was taken by my shoulder. I felt the glass, at first solid, then yield and shatter; the cold, wet outside air told me I was through. Ann followed, in a single bound. Outside, it was dark, and raining. Great, I thought, darkness would give us the cover we needed to complete our escape.
"Come on!" I yelped, "Lets get out of here!", and set off down the street. I found that running full tilt was actually rather easy on four legs, my tail helping to provide balance. But after a couple of hundred yards I became aware of a pain in my shoulder, and a warm feeling down my foreleg. A piece of glass from the panel had gashed my shoulder muscle, I was bleeding badly.
Stopping for a second, Ann caught up. "You're hurt" she whimpered, "Lets see if we can hole up somewhere and I'll take a look". I limped along, following Ann, who was checking out alleys and doorways. "Down here" she called out, as we passed a particularly dark alley. A few yards in was a recessed vent, about a yard wide and two feet deep, from which air was blowing. We both crawled inside; it was warm and dry, a good place to rest for the night. From within the building came a dim light, and the distant rumble of air conditioning plant. "Here, let me look at your shoulder" Ann said, nuzzling me. I lay down, and carefully she began exploring the wound with her tongue. It felt good; warm, wet and friendly, as she licked away the blood from my fur. After some minutes she delivered her diagnosis. "You'll live; the bleeding's stopped, theres no glass in there as far as I can tell, its just a flesh wound, but chances are you'll feel a bit sore for a few days till it heals. It's your head that really worries me, if that gets infected, theres not a lot I could do to help".
"Say, how do you know that?" I whimpered, "You a doctor or something?" "Paramedic actually" she replied, "Military field hospitals, you know, like in MASH. Served in all the usual trouble-spots; the Gulf, Haiti, Ireland, Ukraine, the Florida cocaine riots. Say, what were you as a human?". "Behavioral psychologist; guess it could be real useful when it comes to outsmarting these humans; so long as they think we're just dogs we've got the edge over them. Have you noticed, its real wierd how we can understand what we are saying to each other as well as what humans are saying".
"Yeah" Ann replied, "tips the scales in our favor. Say, do you know what time it is?". Instinctively, I looked down at what would have been my left wrist, to where my watch would have been, then, realising my mistake, turned to Ann. "What do you think I am, a bloody cuckoo-clock?" I growled, in a grumpy sort of way. But as I looked at Ann, I saw she had a huge smile on her face. "You know, you're kinda cute when you're angry" she growled back at me; then she moved forward and gave the end of my nose a massive lick. As a human, I had always hated it when dogs had licked my face, but this seemed different; I realised it was a kiss.
"Hey, what did you do that for?" I growled in surprise. "Well, its just my way of saying thanks" Ann barked back. "For what?" I asked, "Me? Did I do something?". She looked at me in confusion. "Well, you got us out of that basement for a start; No way could I have done that on my own" she barked.
"Oh that", I growled dismissively, "that was nothing". Ann tilted her head on one side, with a puzzled expression on her face. "But, but you could have been killed" she said, "going through that glass".
"Yeah, I guess so, but its all in a day's work" I growled back, trying to be modest. Ann looked at me with a mixture of disdain and admiration. I winked my left eye at her. "You know what?" I asked, "I think us two are gonna get on just fine together".
Ann smiled. "You mean we have a choice? How long do you think either of us would last on our own? At least together we can look out for each other".
"Yeah, I guess youre right" I growled back, "Now I dont know about you but I sure as hell am tired".
"Same here" said Ann with a smile, "But theres one question I want to ask you before we go to sleep".
"What?" I growled.
Ann looked me straight in the eyes. "Have you ever slept with a dog before?" she asked, grinning wickedly.
"Er, no, not that I remember..." I replied, "What about you?".
"Me neither" she growled, "Still, theres a first time for everything I guess; here, curl up next to me and we'll keep each other warm". I laid my head on Ann's flank; through her fur I could hear the beating of her heart, and feel the slow rhythm of her breathing. After all we had been through that day, it felt good to be close to someone else who cared, and who needed me as much as I needed her.
The next morning, I woke first. My head was throbbing, and my shoulder felt stiff. I wanted to roll over, but Ann's head was lying on my left front leg; I tried to move it without waking her, but failed.
Ann opened her eyes, and looked at me with a bleary-eyed, vacant stare. "Whats happening?" she asked, with a yawn.
"Morning!, thats whats happening!" I whined, "It's already light, time we got up and looked for some food".
"Uh, morning; is that all..." she yawned; "I never did like mornings"; with this she rolled over and lay on top of me, with her hind legs sticking into my side.. She seemed surprisingly heavy for a dog.
"Well, I guess a few more minutes would be OK" I whined, "but do you have to lie on top of me like that?".
She grunted. "Oh sorry if I hurt you, but you are nice and warm and comfortable to lie against, and.... oooh, it feels sooo good to have a cuddly furry companion to wake up with... I wish we could just stay here like this for ever....".
I wriggled out from under her. She moaned, let out a heavy sigh, and sat up. "Huh!" she whined, "I was just getting comfortable".
I gave her a long, hard stare. I had always been a morning person myself, and as a dog, it seemed I still wanted to be up as soon as it got light. Ann began to scratch at her neck with her hind leg. "Curse this collar; sure makes me itch" she grumbled. I realised that, like her, I was also wearing a collar. Thin, red plastic with a serial number barcoded on to the surface in a white zebra-stripe. I nuzzled her neck; the collar was soft, pliable. "Here, if you like I think I could easily bite through it" I said, "then maybe the itching would be less?"
She smiled at me. "Go on then" she barked.
It was indeed easy to bite through the plastic; within a matter of seconds the remains of the collar fell from her neck, and lay loosely on the floor. "Now you try mine" I whispered in her ear.
She began to bite, and soon my collar was detached. "That feels better" I growled, "I always thought collars on dogs just went to prove that they were owned by humans; now nobody owns either of us; we are our own people, er, dogs. Now I dont know about you, but I sure am hungry; who says we go and find something to eat?".
She tilted her head to one side, and looked at me with a puzzled expression, then whined "We could always sleep for a few minutes more. I'd like that". Why bother? I thought to myself; I was hungry. Right now, food came higher up the scale of important things than did cuddles. I growled, stood up, and crept out of the duct that had been our bed for the night. Outside, it was a typical grey late winter morning. A light rain was falling from a leaden sky, but our thick fur was a fine barrier against the dampness.
I looked around at where we were; it was not exactly inspiring. Garbage cans, cardboard packaging, fire-escapes, beer cans, all the usual detritus of human existence, were scattered around. What a mess men made of their world. Still, there could just be something to eat here. I began to root around in the garbage, trying to make sense of the barrage of conflicting scents and aromas. After a couple of minutes, Ann joined me, sniffing the garbage, nosing her way along the side of the alley.
"Strange" she said, "No smell of dogs at all round here; I wonder why?", but I was far too interested in a scent I had picked up. It reminded me of, well, there was only one word for it. Pizza! I followed my nose, Ann followed me.
Round the corner we came to another alley, more garbage cans, a smell of human urine. And, oh joy! a discarded pizza box. I nosed it open, and was surprised to see that it contained a whole pizza. Tuna and tomato; not my favorite, specially when cold. But it was food, and I was seriously hungry. I tipped the pizza out of the box, and began to eat. Ann came over, and saw what I was doing. "Gross!" she growled, "Those things are bad enough hot, how you can eat a cold one is beyond me!". Like the dog I was, I ate fast, remembering that somewhere I had read that whereas a human had 10,000 taste buds, a dog only had 2000. Who cared; it was food. Ann was sniffing at the pizza box, turning it over and peering inside. "Hey!" she barked, "Theres something not right here, something smells... whats this white stuff...." She looked up at me, only to see that I had eaten all the pizza.
"Shit!" she barked, "I'm not sure, I can't tell properly, but I think you've just gone and eaten a poisoned pizza...".
I looked back in horror. "What... what do you mean?" I growled.
"See here" she barked back, "this white stuff in the box, I'm not 100% sure, but the smell reminds me of Chlorazepam; it's a narcotic, fast acting, muscle relaxant and hits the central nervous system, leaves few side effects. It's ages since I heard of it being used on humans, and even then it's normally injected, but this smell sure seems familiar. Say, can you make yourself puke?". The look in her eyes was one of panic; I realised she was not joking.
Putting my head down, I stretched my neck forward, and tried to bring up the food I had minutes earlier wolfed down. But it was no use; there's something so horrible about vomiting, that to try and do it on demand was impossible. "Uuuh!". I strained again, trying and failing to regurgitate my meal. "What happens now?" I asked, terrified as to what her answer would be. "Well" she replied, "It's years since I trained on this sort of thing, but I remember that if you maintain muscle activity, the active component gets broken down more quickly; come on, lets see how fast you can run!".
We turned and headed off down the alley. On turning the corner, we both realised that we had gone the wrong way and were heading up a dead end. "Quick, back the other way" Ann barked; I turned, and fell over. Shit, I thought, still not used to four legs. It was only when I tried to stand up again that I realised something was wrong. My legs seemed to no longer be attached to my body. Ann had made it a few yards back down the alley. "Help!" I whimpered, "Come back! Don't leave me, I can't stand up!".
Ann doubled back, and stood over me as I lay sprawled and struggling in a pool of water. It was an odd sensation; I was fully conscious, but totally incapable of coordinating myself. Wierd, and not exactly unpleasant! She looked down at me, then nuzzled my nose. "Stay with me, please, dont leave me" I begged her. Then I noticed something bad. Very bad. Two men were running up the alley behind Ann, one carried a long wooden stick, the other a net. I tried to warn her, but it was too late; as I drifted into semi-consciousness, I heard the men's voices, and Ann's furious barking, then felt myself being manhandled into some kind of confined space.
When I awoke, I realised I was in a cage of some sort, and that I was moving. I tried to sit up, but my body was still under the control of whatever drug it was I had been fool enough to eat. I could smell nothing but dog. Dog-sweat, dog-piss, dog-breath, dog-fear. Where was I? I moaned. And to my surprise, and pleasure, Ann replied from nearby. "Dont worry" she said, "I'm here, in the cage next to you". I turned my head as best I could, and saw her familiar, friendly face watching me. "Looks like we got picked up by Animal Control" she whined, "See, I said I would stick with you, after all, I do sort of owe you one for getting me out of that basement yesterday". I felt a sense of relief that we had not been split up, somehow it seemed good to know we were still together.
"Wonder where we are going?" she growled, "Somehow I dont think we're going to like it when we get there; one of those guys hit me with that stick of his, he's a real mean bastard".
I felt angry, real angry, that someone had hurt a friend of mine. No dog deserved to be hit. "Are you OK?" I growled, trying to retain my composure. "Oh sure, I managed to dodge him quite well" came Ann's reply, "say, you know what? You were real good when those guys were loading you into this truck".
"What do you mean?" I growled back.
Ann gave a giggle. "Well, when they lifted you up, you pissed all over one of them! He sure was angry!". Hearing this, I could not help but smile; Ann saw my expression. "Hey, looks like you're gonna be OK" she barked back, "now if I were you I'd try and relax for a while, let that stuff work its way out of your system".
When we arrived at the pound, the truck driver beat on the roof of the transit cages with his stick, then dragged both Ann and myself out. Using his stick, he prodded us both into larger wire mesh pens, on opposite sides of a large, concreted courtyard. Looking round, I counted eight pens, in two rows of four; each held two, or three dogs. At the rear of each wire pen was a small dog-house; I could tell by smell that the house in my pen was already occupied. After some seconds, a face appeared at the entrance to the dog-house.
Large, black, and attached to a powerful neck. Two broad shoulders followed, a deep chest, and a massive body, all in either black or dark brown.
A very sad looking dog, with a troubled expression on his face.
He came over, slowly, then when he was about six feet from me, stopped and stared at me in a puzzled way for a couple of seconds. Then he came right over and circled me, sniffing. Not being sure how to respond, I simply copied his movements; we both circled each other, sniffing each others butts. As I did this, I noticed that where his balls should be was a large, bloody castration scar. Poor bastard, I thought to myself.
I wondered if perhaps I should speak. Never having spoken to another real dog before, I was puzzled as to what I should try saying, and whether he would be able to understand in any case. My puzzlement was broken when he decided to speak first. "Hi; I'm Bob" he said, in a low, growly voice, "BobDog. That's me. Who are you?".
"Dave" I replied, not sure how I should really start a conversation with a strange beast.
Bob sniffed a bit more, sat down, carefully, and asked. "How did they catch you? they got me with this strange meat; I ate it and woke up here". "Same with us" I replied, finding it real wierd that I was talking to a proper dog.
Then I heard Ann's voice calling from across the courtyard. "Hey Dave; see what you can find out about this place; I think we really should make plans to get outa here!". I went over to the door of the cage to be able to hear better. "Sure!" I barked back, "this place is not exactly my idea of fun!". Bob moved closer, and sat down again. "She your bitch?" he asked. "Yeah, sort of" I replied, "for the last few days anyway. Here, tell me about what happens here".
Bob began his tale of woe, how he had been thrown out by his owners, had lived on the street for months, eventually being caught by the dog patrol and brought to the pound. He also told of how the guy with the stick would regularly beat the dogs, and had broken one dog's leg. "He's a guy we all want to get; listen, this is a real bad place for dogs. Say, what about you? How did you get here? And what happened to you? your head sure looks a real mess".
There was no way I could tell him the true story, so I described a story very similar to his, about being thrown out when my owner could no longer afford to feed me. He seemed to accept this, but there was a puzzled look in his eyes.
"Were you in some kind of accident?" he asked, "how did your head get all cut up like that? Looks like you were hit by a truck".
I had to lie, and sound convincing. "Not really sure; everything went dark, and then when I woke up, well, it was like this".
"Bet it hurts" he growled, "You sure use some funny words, where do you come from?".
"A long way away, much further than you can imagine" was all that I could think of at the time. He noticed the wound on my shoulder.
"Did the guy with the stick do that?".
I explained how we had both been caught by humans, and that I had been injured jumping through a window to get away. Bob looked amazed. "Hey, you sure live one dangerous life" he said.
Ann started barking again, so I left Bob and ran to the door of the cage. From across the yard, among the voices of the other dogs, she called over: "Hey; Have a look at the bolt on the door of your cage; has yours got a combination lock?". I moved to the door, stood up on my hind legs, and rattled the bolt with my mouth.
The sliding bolt was secured by a combination padlock, with three numbered cylinders on its outer body.
"Yeah" I barked back, "three digits. Looks kinda old to me". It was clear that we both had the same thought.
"Is there any way you can turn the cylinders your end?" she asked, "I can get my tongue through the gap".
I tried, pushing my nose through the mesh, and extending my tongue. I felt the cold metal of the lock, and began to lick it. The cylinders turned; I could feel them click round one position at a time.
"Yeah mine turn easily" I barked back to Ann, "What about yours?"
"Same here; but how do we find the combinations?"
I thought for a few seconds, then it occurred to me. A classic binary chop would halve the time taken. "Listen" I barked, "I'll bet you all the dog-food in the world that the combinations are the same on all the locks in this place. You start at 500 and work up, I'll work down".
I began to work the cylinders with my tongue; 500, 499, 498.. It was hard going, my nose only just fitted through the holes in the mesh of the cage, and having to work by feel alone was not exactly easy. I had got to about 460 when I heard a click echo across the yard, followed a couple of seconds later by Ann barking "Try 588".
Forgetting about the pain of the tight mesh round my nose, I flicked the cylinders round. There was a click! Success!
"Heyyy! looks like we're in business!".
Bob, the Rottweiler, came over to see what I was doing. "No way you can chew through that" he said, seeing that I had the lock in my mouth, "Say, what was all that you were talking to your bitch about? Where did you get to know those funny words?".
I climbed down from the gate, and licked my lips. The end of my tongue was stained with rust and grease from the lock, it tasted horrible. Bob had his head tilted to one side, in a puzzled expression.
"If I told you I could open the door to this cage, to every cage in this yard, what would you say?".
He looked at me, confused, then gave a sneer. "Yeah, smartass, and I can shit dogfood!" was his snide reply. I realised I still had to convince him.
"No, it's true; believe me, me and my bitch, we know things; you know when humans talk to each other and dogs can't understand, well, we know everything they are saying to each other; we know exactly how humans think, and we are gonna get out of this place; its up to you whether you come too..."
He looked at me, then moved closer. "If I could get out, and get that guy with the stick on his own....." A malicious grin spread across his face; "if I could get him how he got me, I wouldn't care if he killed me afterwards. Listen, you know I said this was a bad place for dogs, well, that guy with the stick, he came and took me into that building, and put me to sleep, and when I woke up....". I could tell by his voice that he was finding it difficult to describe his plight. "When I woke up......."
"What is it?" I asked, "what happened?". He had a real sad expression on his face, as if he was about to start crying. "When I woke up" he continued, with what sounded like a sob in his voice, "well, I'm not a complete dog anymore". I thought about the castration scar I had seen on him earlier, and felt a cold shiver run up my spine.
"But it's worse than that!" he continued, "there was this other dog, Mickey, a bull-terrier. They brought him in and put him in here with me, he had a muzzle on, it was so tight he could hardly speak, then later the same day they came and took him into there".... He nodded his head in the direction of the building. "And..... and they... they killed him. I know they did; they brought his body out wrapped in a garbage sack but I could smell that it was him..... and he was dead.... and you know, the worst thing was that while he was in here with me, he knew, he knew he was, he was going to die, he just kept saying he wanted them to get it over with. I mean, why? WHY?; he seemed a good dog really. And when they came to take him, he, he walked out of here with his head up, but I could tell that inside he was terrified, he said sorry, he actually APOLOGIZED to us other dogs; I mean, what did he have to apologize for? He had just as much right to live as any of us here. Why him? What had he ever done to deserve that? I used to think the humans liked dogs, but it seems they hate us".
I could see that Bob was deeply troubled at what had happened; there was a look of frightened despair in his eyes, and I did my best to reassure him.
"We are going to get out of this place, all of us, and then if you can find that guy, I'll help you get him. But we must work as a pack, all of us here. Me and my bitch can get you out of these cages, but we need your help. If my plan works, that guy with the stick will get whats coming to him, and we will all be free. But first I need to talk to my bitch to arrange it all. Trust me; after all, what have you got to lose?".
Bob looked at me in disbelief. "You sure are one crazy dog!" he growled, "so crazy you just might be right!".
The rest of the day, and most of the following day were spent deep in discussion with Ann, formulating our plan. We both watched the humans as they came and went in the yard, there were two of them, the guy with the stick, who it seemed worked the late shift, and a young girl, who fed us in the morning, but left around noon.
At night, the guy with the stick could be seen moving around in the adjoining building. We both realised that the fence round the yard was too high to jump, and the only possible exit route would involve going through this building. Fortunately, the door between it and the courtyard was one of those spring-loaded ones that could be pushed open from either side.
When it got dark, Bob and I crawled into our dog-house and I explained the plan to him. "Remember what I told you; You're very important in this, without your help, its just not going to work. And listen, when you were a puppy, did your mom ever tell you that if there was some thing you really wanted, wanted it so much you felt your heart was going to break without it, that sometime it might really happen?". "Yeah" said Bob, "but thats just some story they tell to puppies to make them go to sleep". "Well", I replied, "sometimes it can be true; just you wait and see".
During the night, I was woken by Bob, who was thrashing around in his sleep, and screaming. I nudged him a couple of times, and, slowly, he woke from his nightmare. He looked up at me, his huge, sad brown eyes filled with a combination of terror and deep desolation. "I was dreaming" he sobbed, "I dreamed they came and took me into that building where they took Mickey, and, and..... and they brought me out in a garbage sack just like they did with him".
"Yes, but it was only a dream" I said, trying to reassure him, "Look, if my plan works, we're going to make sure that man suffers for all the suffering he's caused to dogs all these years. Think of it as your way to get even, and to get one back for Mickey. Now lets try and get some sleep, theres a lot to do tomorrow, and I'm going to have to depend on you for much of it. Don't worry, I'll be here with you if you have another bad dream, after all, I can't go very far in this cage, can I? And if they do come and try to take you, well, two sets of teeth are better than one, they'll have to take me first before they can take you".
On hearing this, Bob seemed happier, though I could tell that deep inside, he was still troubled. "Here" I said, "Come on, lie down next to me if it makes you feel better, I'll wake you up if you start having another bad dream". He looked at me, his eyes still showing the inner sadness he was feeling. "Yeah, OK" he said, "You know, it's odd; I always thought you German Shepherds were kinda mean, but, but you, well, you're different; I feel OK when I'm with you".
"And" I replied, "I always thought you Rotties were all macho and no brains; but you've got feelings like the rest of us. Now let's try and get some sleep; we're going to be real busy tomorrow".
The following morning, I woke Bob as soon as it was light. "Come on" I growled, "Time to get started". We both went out into the pen. The other dogs were already awake.
"Go on BobDog; do your stuff" I whispered to him.
Bob let out an enormous bark, which silenced the barking of all the dogs in the yard. I had rightly counted on him being able to command the respect of the others.
"Listen!" he said, "this may sound crazy, but tonight, when it gets dark, we're all gonna get outa here!". There was a stunned reaction from the others. "My buddy here is gonna tell you how".
I spent the rest of the morning repeating over and over again the details of the plan, and when I grew hoarse from barking, Ann took over. We had to make sure every dog knew exactly what to do. At around noon, the humans reappeared. The girl and the man with the stick stood in the yard, talking.
"Its kinda strange; those two you brought in a couple of days back, when they start barking, all the others go quiet, sorta like they're listening..." she said. The guy with the stick came over to my pen and stared in. I stared back, then leaped up the wire mesh and growled. He swung the stick, and if it had not been for the mesh, would have caught me across the neck. "Ha! just like all the others; But I'm still puzzled about this one, those stitches on his head, someone obviously spent serious money on him having that done, wonder if he's worth anything?".
That night, after we had been fed, and it was dark, it was time for us to put our plan into action. Ann amd myself quickly unlocked our cages, slid back the bolts, and slipped outside. As we unlocked each of the other cages, we took the padlocks and placed them in a neat pile in the center of the yard. Then, silently, we slid back the bolts to the cages. "Stay down till we give the signal" we whispered to the occupants of each cage; then once all the cages were unlocked, I walked up to the swing door to the building. Slowly, I pushed it open with my nose, and looked inside. The guy who normally had the stick was sitting in a chair with his back to me, feet on the desk, reading a girlie magazine, and with the headphones of a walkman clamped to his ears, from which came a high pitched tssk...tssk...tssk. Perfect, i thought, self inflicted deafness!.
I sneaked up behind him, then suddenly stood up on my hind legs, and brought my paws down on his shoulders, then whacked the top of his head with the underside of my jaws. He spun round in his chair, surprised at the unexpected intrusion, then, seeing me, reached for the stick which lay on the desk. "Wanna play, do you?" he cursed, "Well, come play with this!".
I rushed out through the door, back into the yard, with him hot on my heels. Outside, it was dark, real dark. Though I could not see them, I could tell that my canine conspirators were there, poised and ready for action. But there was something else, something I have never felt, and never want to feel again. A feeling of such rage, such loathing and utter hatred it made my blood run cold. I knew the dogs in the cages despized this guy, but I had never imagined that animals could develop such feelings of evil and malice towards any one individual. I had summoned something primeval in these dogs, something I did not know if I could control; but I had brought them this far, they were depending on me, and I had to go on.
I turned to face the man, who was now about half way across the yard. He raised his stick, and then stepped on the pile of padlocks we had placed in the center of the yard. He looked down, saw the locks, and uttered some foul expletive under his breath. Then he stopped coming toward me, and looked around. I let out a single bark.
In all the cages, the other dogs, who had been lying down with their eyes closed, all sat up and opened their eyes. The sight of twenty two pairs of eyes shocked the man with the stick as much as it terrified me. All their eyes were glowing green, green with a burning fire of such cold demonic intensity I could hardly bear to look. It was as if each dog's eyes were focussing a concentrated stream of pure evil at the target of their hate. Then I suddenly realised; it was not only the twenty two dogs in the yard that were behind this, it was the spirits of unnumbered dogs that had died there, received beatings there, the pain of uncounted neuterings, and the maternal yearning for the puppies that would now never be born. The Black Dog of Hades, the canine Satan, had been summoned and was now among us; he would only be satisfied by a death.
The guy with the stick could feel the presence of evil too; "What the..." he cursed.
Another single bark from me, and, with a terrible silence, the dogs began to come out of their cages. They stood in mute witness on three sides of the yard. Behind the man, I saw that, exactly as planned, Ann was deftly wedging a yard broom into the swing door from the inside, to cut off his escape route.
Another bark from me, and Bob leaped up, seizing the stick, wrenching it from the man's grasp. Then, the other dogs began to move in. The man, now without his defensive stick, turned on his heels and made for the door. But we were all close behind, and when he found the door would not open, he turned to face us. Without his stick, he was a coward, and we could all smell his fear.
What happened next is difficult for me to relate, because it contains a degree of such appalling and intolerable horror. My canine army operated in exquisite silence; we had every tool necessary, from the precision cutting teeth of a terrier, sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, through to the vise-like, bone-splintering power of Bob's jaws, and all were used on the man with devastating effect. His screams, initially of terror, and then of excruciating pain, echoed round the yard. I had never heard sounds like these come from a human before, it was as if the man's very soul was being ripped from his body; the death of every individual nerve-ending being registered with an infinite, perfect resolution. It was sickening, but at the same time, beautiful. The only other noises to break the silence were those of cloth, skin, muscle, tendon, cartilage, all yielding to the inevitable onslaught.
Yet the man's tormentors did not kill swiftly; instead each and every action was calculated to achieve a death preceded by such terror, such agony and pain as could only be imagined. This was not a straightforward kill; the dogs were actually enjoying the experience, making it last so they could savor every second. And all in total silence.
After about ten minutes, a deathly hush filled the yard. Bob came over to me, carrying something in his bloodstained jaws. He dropped it at my feet, looked up at me, and gave a satisfied smile. I sniffed at the thing, nosed it, and realised that, true to his word, Bob had indeed got the man exactly where the man had got Bob; at my feet lay a bloody pair of human testicles, still wrapped in the hairy skin of their late owners' scrotum.
Ann, who had been watching the proceedings from near the door, called me over. "Come on; now for part two". She had unwedged the door, and, pushing it open, I followed her into the building. Within seconds she had opened the other door from the building on to the street. I went back into the yard, to where the dogs were still circling round the corpse of their one time tormentor. "Come on, dogs!" I barked, "out this way; split up, keep on running, and remember what I told you. We'll be in touch. Good luck!".
A flood of dogs rushed past me, through the building, and then they were gone. All except for Bob and Ann. All three of us had realised that it was necessary to cover up the evidence of what we had unleashed; now, while Ann kept the door open, Bob and myself dragged the body of the man into the building, and then set about gathering up the parts that had become detached. Ann used her nose to turn on a faucet, to which a hose was attached, and began washing away the bloody stain from the concrete yard. After we had finished, there was no evidence of the horrendous act that had been committed there, except for the grisly pile in the building. When Ann came back into the room and saw the heap of human remains, she involuntarily vomited.
Bob and myself had meanwhile gone round the room, overturning filing cabinets, opening closets, tearing up books, and generally causing as much disruption as possible. Then Bob pushed an overflowing trashcan from the edge of the room so it was now next to the desk in the center of the room. I leaped on to the desk, and, with one paw on the flex, carefully nosed the desk lamp off the edge. It fell in a beautiful arc, hitting the trashcan, shattering its bulb with a loud POP and a brief flash of intense light. Within seconds, the trashcan began to smoke, and small flames started to lick up over the edge. I nosed it under the wooden desk, and followed it with some papers. A good fire would provide a perfect cover for our night's activities.
"Come on BobDog!" I barked as the fire took hold, "we gotta get outa here!". Bob had been sniffing round in a large closet. As he passed the corpse of the man, he showed his utter contempt for what was left of his one-time oppressor by raising his hind leg, and directing a golden stream of urine over what had been the man's face.
Outside, we ran and ran and ran, without caring where. Our only aim was to put as much distance as possible between ourselves and the scene of our crime. We soon came to a small park, with trees, a large grassy area, children's swings, a slide.
"Over there" I called out to Bob, looking to my left. About a hundred yards away, the ground rose steeply, a large rocky hill formed the center of the park.
"Come on, race you two to the top!" I barked.
The hill was probably about a hundred feet high; from the top we could look out over the city suburbs, street lights twinkling in the dark; red tail lights, and the distant wail of a police siren. The sky was beautifully clear. The stars were out.
Ann sat down between Bob and myself. "Look up there" she said, "See that extra bright one; that's Sirius, the Dog-star. As long as it's shining, then there will always be hope for dogs".
Bob looked at her, confused, then threw back his head and let out an amazing howl. He was like a wolf, howling to the moon. And what a wonderful sound it was; I had never before heard anything so beautiful, so perfect.
From the houses below came replies; barkings and howlings of uncounted, unseen dogs; dogs we would never know, but would one day know of us. Dogs whose lives may now be hell, but to who us three offered a slender hope. Bob howled once again, acknowledging the distant dogs, then turned and looked at me.
"Listen. Can you hear them? They're all down there, waiting... waiting for US!" he said, smiling a magnificent, self-satisfied grin.
I put my head on his shoulder. "Yes, and tomorrow, wherever dogs meet; in the park, on the street, in backyards, at the vets, they will all start talking. About us, about how we fought back, how we refused to take it any more...".
Bob began to bounce up and down in a strange little dance, shaking his head from side to side. "And how BobDog killed a human!" he barked with obvious enthusiasm.
Ann looked up at him. "Yes" she growled, "You killed a human. How does it feel to be a murderer?"
Bob stopped his dance, and was silent for a few seconds as he thought. "It feels... it feels good! The sort of feeling every dog should get to feel once in his life. It feels... almost as good as the feeling you get when you're humping a bitch!".
I remembered a quotation I'd heard at school. Some famous poet had said it, but his name now seemed totally irrelevant to my present situation.
"Life's a bitch, and then you die!" I barked. Bob looked at me, confused, then winked at me.
"No!" he growled, "Life's lots of bitches, and then you die happy!".
Who was I to argue with him?
"Come on Ann, BobDog" I barked, "All those dogs out there need us. Let's go; theres no time like now to get started; we've all got work to do!".
As we ran down the hill, I began to realise, that, for the first time since the operation, I had stopped thinking about trying to get back to being a human. I wanted to stay as a dog, to live life as a dog, to feel the joy, the fear, the pain, the love, the companionship of dogs. There was something here, in this doggy world, that made human existence seem cheap, irrelevant, and nasty by comparison. I knew that there was so, so much to do, and that the dogs out there were depending on someone like me to show them the way they could regain their pride, their dignity. I stopped running, threw back my head, and howled. And with this howl, I felt a wonderful feeling wash over me; a feeling of freedom, of liberation, of being in control, of being at one with the world, knowing I was doing something right for once in my life. Turning, I ran back up the hill, and, on reaching the top once more, stood and looked over the city sprawling beneath me.
"HEY! YOU HUMANS!" I barked, "YOU'RE GOING TO BE HEARING MORE FROM US DOGS! TONIGHT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING!"
It felt good, real good. As BobDog would say, almost as good as humping a bitch!
Sirius - The Dog's Tale copyright 1996 by MegaDog.
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