Havenport Farm: A Furry Story

hp farm cover

 

HAVENPORT FARM

Written by: Aaron B.

Cover art by: TheWonderbot’s Wonderworks

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*AUDIOBOOK*

Plot: CJ, a brown Thoroughbred who runs a local vegetable farm in a world of anthropomorphic animals, comes to the realization that his best friend and one of the only humans in town, Jacob has gone missing. Once the police stop caring, it’s up to the stallion to take matters into his own hands and look for him.

As he does so, he uncovers a dark and disturbing secret in the town of Havenport all starting with the furry high school Jacob attends, he doesn’t realize it yet- but CJ is in over his head and he could die in the process of trying to find the teen.

Not only is this a psychological thriller, but an inspirational drama of pushing limits and discovering courage deep within.

 


Chapter 1- Now

 The drive home from the hardware store was one CJ could do with his eyes closed. Since he was a foal, he had gone to the store with his father, taking care of Havenport Farm. He always looked forward to seeing his employees, they were all family to him. Without them, the farm would be doomed, a fate CJ couldn’t live with.

The sound of crickets was the only thing that could be heard, pulling up to his farm and parking his pickup truck, he tunes some last-minute details, things he’d done for years to keep his place up and running. The night chilly as he zipped his jacket up and warmed his hands by cupping them next to his mouth. Another normal night, he’d have to enjoy now though as life would soon change for the farmer.

The afternoon sun beat down on the workers who planted vegetable seeds. A few chickens, goats, hens and a beagle. Sometimes they bailed hay or fixed fallen down fences. They stood typically behind the large barn in a healthy grassy field, which went on for miles, typically the workers stood in rows, planting, weeding and things of that nature. Beside the large barn, is a two-story home where CJ resided and where his office was located for giving out payment, which is where the bathroom, food and some tools were located. Even though CJ was the boss, he still worked with them. He wasn’t a boss to just stare at everyone and expect everyone to work for him while he sat around. He rarely offered negative critique unless it was necessary.

At the end of the row of hard workers, stood a human. Five feet tall, short blonde hair and blue eyes that were quite incredible to look at. He was the quietest of the farmers, but hard working and polite, the workers always made sure to ask how he was and sometimes would get answers.  Jacob loved his friends here, however shy he may be.

During break after a few hours of planting and tending to the field, everyone sat at a large table outside. If the weather was poor, they’d go to the house and sit on the couch and various chairs.  On this beautiful afternoon, they sat drinking lemonade, cold beer and eating snacks. They would be dismissed at noon, but CJ insisted on feeding them at eleven. Jacob also insisted on sitting next to the brown thoroughbred, he found comfort in horses.

The beagle sitting on the other side of Jacob spoke calmly. “Want me to drive you home, bud?” Jacob smiled.

“Sure, thank you Henry.” CJ sipped his drink.

“Everyone at home good?” CJ asked as he eyed the human. He nodded.

“Yeah. I’m graduating high school soon, so all my family are excited for that.” Henry smiled and eyed Jacob with his usual kindness. Pleasant conversation continued for a little while, getting Jacob to talk could be a bit of a chore. No doubt he loved it here though.

Nighttime alone was something CJ thought he’d be used too. It wasn’t an overt fear, and if someone else was with him, he wouldn’t feel the sense of eeriness. Horses were born as prey animals, and CJ’s fears were from someone breaking into his home to ridiculous notions like some crazy person finding him. Even when he relaxed, whether it was to watch TV or read a book, he often kept way too many lights on. If the fear got too much, he’d sometimes call Jacob and get his mind off his hyperactive mind.

 

 

Chapter 2- Now

 

Tuesday morning, CJ bailed hay by lifting the thin ropes that bonded it all together and hoisting it into its proper spot. The sun wasn’t out on this day. Clouds were overhead, but the weather was warm, his usual short sleeve flannel, jeans and brown hiking boots did just fine today.

The place where CJ stood was a shed full of hay to be delivered to a large company for various materials. As he turned to face his work, lifting the hay into the bed of his truck parked close by, his pointed ears twitch to the sound of footsteps behind him. Being that he was a horse, the police dog didn’t want to frighten him. The grey wolf spoke in a serious and calm tone.

“Excuse me sir, are you CJ?” He turned with a soft smile, his tail swished momentarily, he used his hand to wipe a tiny bit of sweat from his forehead. He removed his work gloves and approached the canine.

“Yes officer, may I help you?” He nodded and took out a pen and paper, a tingle of nervousness when through the horse.

“One of your co-workers, Jacob Brown has been missing since last night. We contacted his family, they’re shook up. We’ve tried calling a few of his friends as well. No sign of him for a full day.” CJ wiped his hands on his pants, then crossed his arms with an air of sadness and concern. “Henry dropped Jacob off at around noon yesterday. Maybe he knows something?”

Sitting in the house by the barn, all the co-workers were asked questions about Jacob. Anything and everything was evaluated. CJ sat with his elbows on his knees and eyeing his feet. Jacob seemed so naïve and innocent, why was he suddenly gone? Perhaps someone took him, knowing full well he wasn’t strong? Someone who lived close by? One of his own family members? Perhaps someone at school was holding a party and he didn’t come home? All these options were brought up and spoken of. He imagined the worst.

Henry approached the horse, the dog shrugged slowly.

“He seemed fine when I dropped him off yesterday.” Everyone’s tone around the home was full of worry and deep sadness. CJ glanced at Henry and stood up.

“I’m scared, Henry. I just get these awful images of him needing help and us clueless as to where he is.” The dog placed a hand on the stallion’s shoulder.

“If he’s not found soon, police are going to set up a search team.” With a nod, CJ went to listen to the various police dogs and his co-workers. Feeling sick and dizzy while doing so. Where was Jacob Brown? CJ grabbed a bottled water and sighed, leaning against a wall. His ears flat, this felt like some horrible nightmare.

Closing his eyes, CJ soaked in a warm bathtub, his eyes would never remain closed for long. His nostrils would flare at every noise coming from outside, however this was usual. Sudden noises were not something CJ enjoyed. Moving about the water, he sat up straight, always expecting someone to break in at a peaceful moment. Or Jacob. What a miracle it would be if Jacob stumbled in and the whole story was given. Odd, yes. But even if Jacob was afraid or even terrified, he’d know his human companion was okay. He could picture Jacob’s voice, picture his mannerisms. It hurt. More than any of his co-workers could know.

Two days pass, cops and the various anthros from town searched the farm. Looking through obvious places at first, contacting the high school he attended, talking to Jacob’s parents non-stop. The news of a missing human was big in town. The town of Havenport was home to hundreds of anthros years ago, all species and all sizes, but not one human was there, as they were viewed as odd, pale skinned and hateful. Hateful because the towns with the most humans also had a good amount of hate towards anthros.

Even in the modern era of Havenport, racism existed, but now humans were welcome and held jobs and had families. Sometimes they’d get an odd look or two, but for CJ, prejudice thinking was something that never crossed his mind. Jacob was a great worker on his farm and a kind hearted young man and that’s all that mattered. Maybe two or three co-workers were at first leery of Jacob, but time healed the false thinking and he was treated like anyone else. CJ was the one who gave Jacob his job, the one he liked to talk to the most, and the stallion wasn’t going to let his friend down. However hopeless the search got.

Some called his name, some looked in trees. A row of cops and townspeople, all looking for the missing. Behind the farm seemed an endless area of dense trees and tall grass, CJ rarely ventured here as the place was so wide, getting lost was very easy. Sometimes he’d go a few feet deep to get fire wood, but other than that, especially at night-the Havenport woods were a big ‘no way’ for the skittish horse. Going up and down little hills, officers spoke on there walkie talkies if any evidence was found, but always led to a false promise or something which looked like something else.

The looking continued as heavy clouds began to role in and the search party was wrapping up, CJ’s mind started to go to Jacob’s home life and school life. It was true while at work he seemed content, but he didn’t know a lot about what his evening activities were. His parents were sweet as far as he could tell, as Jacob and his mom and dad would often take walks to the farm and say hi even on days he didn’t have to work. Did anything go on behind the scenes? Maybe someone was troubling him? Maybe something at school? That seemed a bit more likely, teenage years were rough, maybe a bully scared him or, worse yet maybe school began to weigh on Jacob and he was self-harming? Just the mere thought of that made CJ nearly cry, was the secret that deep and depraved? Whatever the reason, everyone knew that it couldn’t have been something small. Something was going on with Jacob, and the answer may remain unknown if Jacob is never found.

The wolf officer from before eyed CJ before climbing into his cruiser, the sky pink with an orange hue overlooking the barn close by. The wind is warm, flies began to come out of hiding.

“Get some sleep, CJ. I know this is hard. We’ll find your friend.” Sighing, the horse looked into the woods, imagining how terrified Jacob must be. Sometimes imagining his corpse. Without a word, he left as the patrol car drove off, kicking up dust in its wake. Before stepping inside, he slowly moved his head from left to right, looking at the side with Havenport woods, then looking to the other side towards the farm and eventually to the dirt road which went on for miles.

Lying on the couch and looking at the ceiling, CJ not only felt the house was empty, but had an aura of sadness. He was always alone, but his heart felt alone. Even in pajamas and with most of the lights out, sleep didn’t come easy. It had been like this for a few nights, work had gotten depressing without Jacob’s optimism and cute shyness.

He could almost hear Jacob’s voice banging in his brain. Help! Please! I’m lost! CJ tried to force the sound out by closing his eyes and taking deep breaths. It felt so real. A cry for help he couldn’t answer. He needed sleep. The farm had to go on. Help! Please! I’m lost! He tried to convince himself to let the police handle it. I’m lost! What were they doing now? Sleeping? Working on other cases? The horse whispered to himself.

“Don’t worry. Let the cops handle it. They’ll find him tomorrow.” Tomorrow? What if they find his body tomorrow? What if the officer called CJ in the middle of the night. We tried our best, but I’m afraid Jacob’s body was found in a lake. Rubbing his eyes, CJ stood up and went to the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water.

The sound of crickets surrounds the place, the hum of the refrigerator provided a smooth ambience. Staring out a window in the kitchen, CJ’s ears flicked. Looking at his half-faded reflection in the glass, seeing his shirtless body. How he stood there. Doing nothing. It disgusted him. Doing nothing but staring at himself or trying to sleep. His friend was almost surly in trouble. CJ wouldn’t stand for it anymore. Briskly walking through his house, he took a quick shower, dressed in a white t-shirt, jeans and his hiking boots, packed a brown leather backpack with food, water, some extra clothes and pocketed his cellphone.

The fear was there, even stepping outside to his all too familiar territory this late at night provided a sense of eeriness. He tossed his bag in his backseat, made sure he had extra gas and in a blur, he was driving away from Havenport Farm. Away from the place he knew. Into an unknown world.

 

 

Chapter 3- Then

 

The high school bustled with activity, Jacob stood out. He knew he did as he glanced at the faces of the anthro students. All species from rats, dogs, sloths, foxes and anything anyone could think of. Luckily for Havenport High School, segregation was looked down upon and forbidden with heavy consequence. That didn’t stop it from happening however, as whether human or anthro maybe they all had tiny prejudices among them. Get through school and you can go to the farm was what Jacob said to himself as he sat among a few students. A muscular dog on one side, a mouse on the other.

The cafeteria floor shines, the seats light blue stools, tables of three or four are connected. Large windows send in nice sunlight, the students giggle and talk amongst themselves. Jacob folds his hands in his lap and sighed tiredly. Knowing that not only would he be in a new school, but a whole new species would be around him made him feel a lack of alertness. Life at home was good, his parents supportive and CJ his new boss seemed sweet and thoughtful. He knew the farm would take him out of the six hours of potential misery he’d endure.

Eating a healthy-looking bunch of fruit with a fork was the black and brown Doberman pincher. Her ears pointed, her white sharp teeth made Jacob feel a bit uneasy. Yes. He knew that he had no reason to fear this canine, but he couldn’t help but look at the white sharp chompers.

The principal approached as he sat in deep thought. His orange fur neatly combed, his body slender, his eyes green. His suit chestnut brown. He was known as quite an energetic fox, not as stuck up as most in his field, but laid back and usually happy. “Hey buddy! Everything okay?” Jacob nodded and smiled. “Yes Mr. Bateman. Thanks. Just taking in the scenery.” Bateman nodded gently. “Good! Well, I hope you meet lots of new friends today. Come to me anytime.” With his large bushy tail with a white tip swishing happily. He knew he found a friend in Mr. Bateman, CJ and Henry the beagle in the town of Havenport. As he felt more at ease, the bell rang for first period.

Math. It was literal hell. Jacob’s talent was socializing and lifting hay bales. Not complex numbers and sitting still. As he stared at the first problem, he only became more confused. It was like he had never seen a number before in his life. He jumped at a new voice he had never heard, the same Doberman from before. A gruff ‘city accent’. Tall, 6 ft and toned arms. Her clothing tight. Jacob was asexual, but even he’d admit this canine was pretty in a tough kind of way.

“You okay?” the Doberman asked in a genuinely concerned tone.

“Hm? Yeah. Just hate numbers.” She shifts her seat a bit closer, which surprised Jacob a bit.

“Laya. You’re the new guy right?” The two shook hands.

“Yeah. Jacob. Nice to meet you.”

Sitting on a curb after school, Layla joined in. “You need a ride?”

“No thanks. My friend Henry is going to pick me up.” Jacob then told Laya where he worked and who he was friends with and how awkward he felt in a ‘furry school’ as some called it.

“Well hey, if you ever wanna stay after for a soccer game, I can get you good seats. I’m captain of the team here.” The human nodded. Jacob had always thought jocks would have hated him. In his other school, they sometimes pushed him around and made fun of his taste in a simple country life. Layla seemed sincere, something about her mannerisms and her tone. The two exchanged phone numbers shortly after, planning a quick afterschool visit. Maybe it would be good for Jacob to take some chances and make friends, get out of his bubble and enjoy life.

The large yellow school buses began to pull up, Layla playfully nudged Jacob. “See ya tomorrow!” She smiled and headed to her red sports car. As she did this, Henry’s pick-up truck pulled up.

 

Chapter 4- Now

 

The high school felt different. The way the anthros moved, the way they spoke. Some said nothing, some whispered. A giant Missing poster with Jacob’s smiling face was put against his locker and all around the school. Laya couldn’t look at it without getting teary eyed. It ruined her day. She had seen it tons of times now. Sometimes she’d sit in class unable to work. The dog wasn’t the only one, a lot of anthros missed their human friend. Even if they didn’t know him, he was part of the team.

A knock on the front door made Layla jump a bit as her ears lightly bounce at the sound, she answered quickly. A brown thoroughbred stood in the doorframe. The stallion looked a bit tired. “Are you Layla?” The dog nodded.

“I’m CJ.” He adjusted his brown backpack. “I’m Jacob’s boss.” Layla smiled a bit and firmly shook his hand.

“Oh! Right, Jacob told me all about you! Why don’t you come in? It’s kinda muggy out.”

Layla’s home was nothing like Jacob’s, full of posters of soccer players and trophies. Her parents were also lovers of sports. Layla made the two some coffee. CJ kindly eyed the dog, she wore a simple tank top and sweatpants. “Did the police contact you about Jacob?” asked CJ in a slightly sad tone. “No.” Layla said as she put cups in front of them and sat. “Is there any news?” CJ sipped.

“Nothing. It’s like he vanished into thin air. I came to you because I know you two were close at school. I mean- – was there anything odd you noticed the day before he vanished?” She sighed.

“I mean, he’d call me sometimes if he needed to talk. I mean, he was always kind of quiet. I always tried to get him to come over and hang out. I finally did a few months ago. Never had enemies, never was bullied cause he was with me all the time. Guess being a buff girl on a sports team has its other advantages apart from being cheered on.”

“Do you have any ideas as to why Jacob would run away? Something I wouldn’t know about?” Layla sighed deeply.

“Cops came by and asked me the same. I think they interviewed everyone at the school. Well, those they could find time for. I think all his teachers were interviewed. I’m losing hope.” CJ nodded slowly.

“Which is why I’m looking for him. I’m doing personal interviews. I’m going to find him. I’ve seen missing human cases go on for years and nothing happens.” They paused.

“Yeah. Same. There is the typical stuff” Layla continued. “Like racism and bullying, and I thought about that. I wasn’t with Jacob the entire six hours. Then again, word goes by fast. If Jacob was being bullied, I think I would have heard about it.” CJ’s ears flatten in pure depression.

“I see. Can I give you my number incase he turns up at your place?” Layla nodded.

“One more thing. You’re sure Jacob was last seen at the school? You two didn’t go to a restaurant or any place where the teens hang?”

“Last I saw him and the last time he texted me he was waiting for his friend to pick him up. Henry.” CJ pondered as he stood up.

“Say, could you write down the names of Jacob’s teachers?” She was confused but grabbed a pen and paper and began jotting down names.

“I think police have already talked to them though.” She said CJ placed the paper in his back pocket.

* * *

CJ went to a few more teachers, since today was a school day. News had come of Jacob’s whereabouts, all of them seemed sad at the mention of a star student. Teachers only had nice things to say about him.

Like CJ thought, the cops slowed down their search as he kept calling the station. At this rate, he’d never be found. Not without someone who cared deeply for him. He knew it would be illegal, but CJ wanted answers. He needed to do some looking on his own.

After stopping to get dinner at a small café, CJ went back to the school, he parked his truck a few blocks down from the school grounds. He zipped his leather jacket and from his bag, grabbed a flashlight. He searched outside of the school grounds. He had never been so nervous in his life, but he had a mission.

The air became colder, the only lights were from the street lamps which lit up the sidewalk and the entrance of the school. He searched every bush and even dug in the dirt a few times, it felt desperate, but he figured no one else had done it.

It was true that the police had interview Jacob’s teachers, but maybe didn’t do a thorough search of inside the school. Luckily for CJ, some of the lights were on in an office, indicating maybe a teacher’s meeting was happening. Did they miss something? Not many new Jacob as well as CJ did. With a huff, he yanked the large front doors open, keeping his footsteps soft.

He didn’t know where Jacob sat, but he’d check every seat. Below the tables, near the windowsills. Even if the police had combed the area, he felt he was doing a service for his friend. Sounds startled him, from the air-conditioning to the vending machine in a corner. Continuing his journey, he walked past a few empty classrooms, a few of the doors were unlocked. Grabbing the paper from before, he read the list and decided to do some investigating.

CJ silently looked under chairs, under tables, through teacher’s papers and notes. Reading Jacob’s completed tests and assignments, then placed them back as they were. He didn’t know what he was looking for, perhaps some note stating something suspicious or maybe even Jacob wrote something? Standing by a teacher’s desk, he took a deep breath in thought. Looking at the empty desks and empty chalkboard.

His ears flicked as he heard two voices coming down the hallway. His heart leapt into his throat. He was doomed. He knew it. He shut the lights off to the classroom and briskly hid under the teacher’s desk. This was it. He’d be caught and arrested for breaking and entering. The voices came closer, closer and closer still. Sweat poured down the horse’s neck, he holds his breath, huddled against the work surface. There footsteps larger than life, he wanted to close his eyes. He hoped it was some nightmare. Once the footsteps went away, he rubbed his eyes, noticing his hand shake.

Given a shot of fear turned into adrenaline. He was almost caught. That didn’t mean Jacob wasn’t in danger. The last spot the horse visited was the head office. Upon entering, he saw the receptionists desk, complete with a buzzer to let students into the school and a computer riddled with papers and sticky notes. It had a distinct smell. His nostrils flared to the scent of papers and cleaning solution. A row of chairs sat in front of this large desk.

His eye catches the sight of a small hallway, he made his way to a few more rooms. The light from the flashlight cascading across the walls as he walked silently.

A copier room, the breakroom and finally Mr. Bateman’s office. None of the doors would open. None except for the high school coach’s room, Mr. Mac. Jacob talked about him.

Papers were strewn across his brown desk, the leather chair he sat in a bit tattered. The whistle which would go around his neck hung on a nob hooked to a filing cabinet under the desk. Something was off. Eyeing the desk drawers, the edge of a polaroid photo stuck out of one of them. Was this something the police missed? Or was it a family photo from a long time ago? Either way, the stallion put on leather gloves and gave the drawer a tug. The photo flew from its spot and landed on the grey rug by his foot. The sight of what was on the photo made CJ at first freeze in place, then vomit into the near by toilet.

 

Chapter 5- Then

 

From quite a distance, Jacob tossed the basketball into the peach colored hoop. The anthros cheered as the basketball landed perfectly through the netting and bounced onto the gym floor. From the middle of the gym, the tall anthro blew the whistle and the court dispersed for next class. The gym smells quite nice considering students sweat in it all day.

The human had no idea what he was doing, but he had won the game evidently. A happy and sweaty Layla pats him on the shoulder as she passed by giggling with the other jocks.

“Good going man!” Mr. Mac, the toned cheetah in a t-shirt and shorts puts an arm around Jacob, the whistle around his neck jingled a bit.

“You won the game man! Make sure to tell CJ how epic that was!” He ran in a flash to go get set up for his next line of students. Jacob giggled at his own naivety. He felt more than a bit overwhelmed, so he sat on the bleachers which were against the wall, overlooking posters of the school mascot and all the equipment used on that day. Plus, he was self-conscious about getting his school clothes on in the changing room while everyone was there, it just felt too weird and he felt too vulnerable being nude in front of a bunch of furries. He takes a swig of water. Mac happened to spot the lone human sitting, so he took a seat by him.

“You should try out for basketball, you’re quite talented!” Sometimes Mac’s loud energy got to him, but Jacob knew it was just how he was and maybe he couldn’t help but be peppy. Jacob paused for a moment.    “Why don’t you come by my office and I can at least give you the sign-up sheet. I just don’t want all that potential to go down the drain.”

His brown eyes looked at him so confidently, Jacob shrugged and nodded. What did he have to lose?

His parents were quite glad he may try out for basketball, but they were even happier that the furry school had taken to him so well. Maybe they were just a bunch of fluffy fun guys? No one would know that only a few weeks later, Jacob would be under the knife and perhaps never see his family again.

Tryouts went well enough, he knew a few of the furries there already, and having a human on the team honestly spiced things up. It wasn’t everyday this type of opportunity came. It looked good on the school record, of course that’s not how his fellow students and truly friendly teachers saw it. To them, Jacob was like them-less fluffy, but a good heart and that’s really what counted. Mr. Bateman would often come and check on things, maybe even play a game or two.

One afternoon, basketball was canceled. Which presented a problem. Henry specifically said he couldn’t pick him up on this day. Sitting outside on the field as all the students lined up to go home, he became nervous. He knew though that he had a lot of people he could trust. He didn’t want to text CJ, since he was probably busy at the farm. Casually, he walked into the school. Students were all leaving, he had asked a few other kids if they could give him rides, but no such luck came.

 

Chapter 6- Now

 

Approaching Mr. Mac wouldn’t be hard, CJ knew he’d be outside with the students today. Fixing his mane up, he showered in a nearby motel he had just gotten the evening after breaking into the school. Why? So that he could be closer than ever to whatever crime happened, plus being at home was quite hard. The memories of Jacob hanging out at the farm were too much for him to handle, he needed to be away. He needed to think.

As he showered, he thought through what to do. He wouldn’t call the cops-unless things got violent, but he would try his best to stay calm and collected. Shampooing his dark mane and closing his eyes he had a few mental images. Fear of dying, fear of being hurt. He had to push those all away now. He had to focus. That photo he found was nightmarish, sickening. Thankfully, it wasn’t Jacob-but it was indeed a human teen around his age in a situation that was highly distressing. Maybe humans were his play things? His way of truly showing what a monster he was on the inside? Sadly, sometimes when mixing humans and anthros, you had the occasional sicko. The one furry to show his or her true colors and use humans, because hey-they’re not as strong. It’s not a statement of prejudice, but fact. Anthros have animal instincts and animal strength, so taking advantage of them for the most part was ideal if one wished to be violent.

The bathroom was lackluster to say the least, this motel was cheap, with a cracked floor and leaky ceilings. CJ dried off and put on a white t-shirt, flannel and jeans. He felt more refreshed than ever. Looking at himself in the mirror, he looked better, but his soul still was beyond repair.

Mac sat at his office, humming away as he typed up grades. His office still looked the same, a small area. A few small windows, some gym equipment in corners. Mac wasn’t the neatest of all teachers, that’s for sure. After hearing CJ knock, the cat smiled wide.

“Can I help you?” The horse felt his stomach go in knots as he shut the door. Face to face with a monster. Something he never thought would happen. “You look kinda glum.” On the verge of tears, CJ sat across from him and slammed the polaroid in front of him. Utter shock hit him. CJ’s voice cracked, but his tone was low and cold.

“Where’s Jacob?” Mac’s hand shook as he brushed the photo out of his view.

“Where the hell did you get that?” CJ rubbed his eyes, the voice in his head spoke almost in a yell. Leave CJ! Leave now! Call the cops! NO! Deal with it. Now. CJ sniffled slightly, he wasn’t quite crying, but his frustration was so high his body didn’t quite know what to do.

“Mac. I’m going to ask you again. Where is Jacob?” The same look of shock crossed his face, CJ began to examine it. It wasn’t ‘oh shit! I’m caught’. It was different.

“This is disgusting.” Mac stood up quickly, knocking the chair over causing a loud crash. The horse snorted as he grabbed a hold of Mac’s hand. His vision blurry with rage.

“WHERE is he?!” The stallion yelled in his face. Luckily for CJ, barely anyone was in the school after hours. Mac slapped CJ’s hand quite hard.

“I don’t want to fight you. Stop accusing me of this disgusting picture!” His voice cracked in a similar fashion as CJ. He too stood up, as tall as he was, CJ began to sort of calm down.

“You didn’t hurt Jacob, did you?” The two stare at each other for a long while before speaking.    

“I don’t know where he is!” Tears escaped the cheetah’s eyes, CJ watched as his ears began to relax and his heart beat a bit fast. He sat again.

“I can barely look at that missing poster without crying. You coming in here and accusing me of – – THIS!” He didn’t want to touch the vile image.

“It was in your desk, Mr. Mac.” Mac sighed.

“I knew this day would come.” He put away papers calmly and gestures the horse to go outside. The reveal of this moment was like a dense weight on CJ’s shoulders. He could almost envision this moment. Was Jacob alive? He couldn’t panic. He couldn’t attack. The horse had who he needed in his sights. As much of a monster this coach was, he couldn’t just wham his fists into him. Even if it’s what a sicko like him deserved. Violence wasn’t the answer. Not now.

Mac led CJ outside and back around the school. The two sit on a curb, the gentle breeze beautiful, the sky clear blue. The red bricked high school behind them. Cars passed in the distance. Students could be heard through open windows, laughing and teasing each other. Unaware of the darkness under them.

 

Chapter 7- Then

 

Pondering what to do, he tried to call CJ, but the human realized his phone battery was dead. He regretted texting all that time during academic support class more than ever. Jacob stood at the enterance way of the school, deciding if he should just walk home, which would take about an hour.

Suddenly, from the front doors of the school, Mr. Bateman stepped out, wearing a loose purple tie and grey slacks, he smiled sweetly to Jacob.

“Hey bud. What are you doing here?” His ears relaxed, he rolled his sleeves up and didn’t take his eye off the student. Being able to relax, Jacob’s demeaner was more like his usual self.

“I might have to walk home, phone’s dead. It’s no problem though.” The fox pondered.

“I could drive you home.” The proposal didn’t sound bad, as dark clouds began to form over the high school. He nodded and followed the fox down to the teacher’s parking area, not many cars were there. Bateman’s car isn’t really a car, but a white van.

“Do you usually drive this?” Jacob asked as he hopped in the passenger seat and watched Bateman climb in and start the engine.

“Nope, this is my wife’s van, my car is in the shop.” He adjusted the mirror slightly as he began to pull out of the space and drive out of the school zone. The van wasn’t bad looking, the seats clean, the back area empty, the engine perhaps could use some fixing as the ride was a bit jolty.

“So, do you need directions to the farm?” The fox glanced to him.

“Nah, I know your boss and where you work.” He was going a direction Jacob didn’t know, he tried to not be nervous. It’s fine. Maybe this was a short cut? Suddenly, Jacob realized Bateman had pulled the van over, nothing was around them but trees. Before the human could truly realize they had come to a complete stop, he felt a wet rag cover his mouth and nose.

Yelling and squirming were the only things he could do within the first few seconds. He then gripped the fox’s paw, trying to shove and maybe get a bite in, but the droopiness from the chloroform hit him like a ton of bricks. Even if he tried, he couldn’t move with swiftness. His breathing was rapid from the sheer terror of the anthro attacking him so suddenly and so violently. He fell face first into the floor of the van. Out of breath, Bateman dragged his limp body to the back, and from his glove compartment grabbed two pairs of handcuffs, one for his wrists and one for his ankles. Bateman smiled as his twisted fantasy for Jacob was coming to fruition. The van lurched forward moments later, Jacob was fast asleep.

To put Jacob anywhere near his own home would be asking for suspicion, Bateman owned a cabin he stayed in during the summers that very few knew about. The dirt road narrow, trees scrape against the side of the van. Bateman couldn’t help but be a bit nervous, what if he escaped and revealed the truth? Obviously, the school and police would realize he’s missing. It was too late to turn back, to release Jacob would mean jeopardizing his standing in the community. His tendencies towards humans was okay, if no one found out and he didn’t do it often. Jacob was an easy target. Naïve, trustworthy and not a tough guy at all. He may never get the opportunity to strike again.

 

After driving through the woods, to get up to the cabin by way of a vehicle was impossible, so Bateman had to place Jacob in a large trash bag and drag him through the dirt. Through narrow dirt covered pathways. Trees overlooked the fox as he grunted, beginning to sweat. Dragging the knocked-out human through mud and puddles for about a mile. The sun beat down on him, but he had made it too far to give up.

 

*          *          *

 

The cabin is one floor. Most of the bigger trees stood in the back of the home while a clear pathway led to the wooden cabin out front. Stopping to rest, Bateman tossed his tie to one side and unbuttoned his dress shirt, pulling the bag until he made it to a large ditch in the back of the cabin. After pulling him through so many bushes and fly swarmed areas, he gave the bag a kick, sending it down to the large ditch below.

That night, he stripped Jacob down to his underwear and threw his clothes way out in the middle of the woods. He needed to put Jacob in a more secure spot underground.

Inside the cabin was a couch, a small TV and a few lights and a refrigerator. The floor made of smooth wood, the ceilings cracked and needed to be re-done. Sitting on the ripped couch with a tired sigh, Bateman held a beer and thought of what to do. Jacob was at his mercy and he could do what he wanted. For so long he looked at pictures of innocent, cute humans and now this was his chance to shine.

 

Chapter 8- Now

 

CJ didn’t take his eye off the cheetah as he spoke, his tone so truthful. In his heart, the horse knew he must be innocent, something in his soul told him so. “So why the hell is there a polaroid of a beat up human being assaulted?” Mac’s ears went down. “Bateman put it there as an alibi incase things got to out of hand. If his dark secret was exposed, he could simply point to me, he threatened my family if I were to ever come out with the truth. He’s been doing this to me forever. Since we were young neighbors and first met. He’d do some crazy shit and then keep me quiet.”

“Couldn’t you have reported him to the police?” With a sniffle, Mac continued.

“Everyone loves Principle Bateman. If I came out, he’d have lawyers and a whole town against me. I’d go to prison for disgusting crimes. He’d walk away and hurt more people. I should have known he’d go after Jacob.” There was a pause. Mac gently held CJ’s hand, sensing his dismay and hopelessness.

“I know where Jacob is.” CJ’s heart skipped a beat. Did he hear him right?

“What? How?” The sound of sudden hope and surprise was a total shock to Mac, he sighed deeply.

“When we were teens, we’d go to a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. That’s where he’d do his illegal stuff. Drinking or abusing other kids. He knew no one would find him out there. CJ. I can’t hide from this anymore. I can’t take the fall for what he’s done. Let me go with you. I want to see him. I want to see Jacob and I want to see Bateman burn.” CJ stood up, fixing his mane.

“No. This is my quest. I can’t bring anyone with me. Give me the directions and let me go.”

As dusk set on the town of Havenport, CJ was far beyond where he knew. Far beyond his farm and far beyond the town he loved. Driving down a dirt road, all he could think about was not making it in time. The head lights showing a smooth dirt road, tiny rocks hit the side of the vehicle. It all felt uneasy, the isolation and the unknown. Fear crept into his heart again, but CJ swatted it like an annoying fly. With a coffee by his side, tiredness wouldn’t be an issue.

He didn’t account for the giant pot hole in the middle of the road, the sound of a tire pop caused him to snort in terror as he panicked, jerking the wheel. The sound of tires against the dirt violently caused his heart to leap into his throat. He knew he messed up. Thinking of a thousand other things than the road. The truck derailed into the woods on the side of the road, the stallion pulled the emergency break back, but the front of the vehicle collides with a large tree making his actions futile.

 

Chapter 9- Now

 

CJ’s brain raddled in his head as his skull collides with the wheel, causing a quick black out. One nostril dripped with blood, he moaned in pain. The front windshield shattered by a low hanging branch. The sound of the engine dying was all he could hear. Killing the engine, he took deep breaths as he looked down to see a shard of glass protruding from his left leg. Oozing with blood, CJ let out a few tiny yells as he tried to move it, causing pain like lightening to shoot through his entire body. Help! Please! He heard Jacob’s voice again, ringing helplessly in his head.

Opening the driver’s side door, he slowly was able to crawl out, sweat dripped down his neck as he moaned loudly. Falling to the ground below, he was able to use the truck’s still working headlights to see what he was dealing with. Getting to Jacob would be impossible to do if his left leg was out of commission.

Closing his eyes for a moment in thought, he was able to get to his back pack, which housed a giant strand of medical gauze. He also found a pair of black leather gloves, the ones he used at the school. It was the closest thing to sterile he had.

With a desperate eye, he put the gloves on and looked at the small piece of glass sticking out of him. Grasping the sharp edge, he held his breath and slowly yanked at it, causing his flesh to make a sickening squishing sound.

Tears filled his eyes as the lightening pain came through again. Come on CJ! Do it you wimpy bastard! PULL! Being able to ignore the pain for only a second was all he needed to make the final pull. His flesh became a bit mangled as he did so, warm red fluid covered one side of his jeans as he yelled loudly into the night.

He didn’t have much time to wallow, he wrapped the wound tightly and quickly. His breathing erratic. Pulling it even tighter, he yelled one last time, after letting his heart rate get back to normal, he stood up. Certainly, it stung if he put too much pressure on it, but he could walk. Fight through it. Get to Jacob. Let the nightmare be over.   

Being careful where he stepped wasn’t hard, if this wound got worse, it truly could mean the end of finding the human he loved so much. Going uphill was the worst, he thought he’d get used to the searing throbbing, but every step caused him to sigh deeply as he tried to block out the strain. He whispers a few profanities. As if the night couldn’t get any worse, a rumble of thunder caused his ears to pin back in pure annoyance. Reaching for his bag again, he thought he had a jacket-but he had left it in the back seat of the truck.

“Damnit!” He yelled into the bag as he tossed it over his shoulders again. The rain started soft, a slight drizzle wouldn’t mean much. After walking through sticks and leaves and swatting away flies, the water soon became more than a slight annoyance as it began to pour. Seeping into his white t-shirt, his mane becoming flat with heavy water, his brown coat damp. Dirt soon became mud as his boots sloshed through puddles, making his pants even wetter.

“Help!” he froze in his spot. The call was muffled, he knew it was in his head. “Help me please!” Hearing it again, he wasn’t so sure if it was his imagination. He yelled back as loud as he could. “HELLO?!” A moment passed.

“CJ?!” All the annoyances went away. His damp clothes, the pain in his left leg, through the rain which aimed at his face, CJ trudged through the wilderness. Jacob’s voice was closer.

“Keep yelling Jacob!” CJ’s feet were wet from dirty water beneath him, sludging through deep puddles from heavy rain fall. He slid on slick ground, catching himself as he stuck his two hands out, getting drenched in wet dirt, his shirt covered in speckles of grime. His left leg wasn’t fairing too well as his pants had ripped and he thought he felt the gauze slightly tear, causing blood to trickle softly down his leg. His ear pricked forward as Jacob yelled into the night again.

The horse’s run was more of a tired jog, a tinge of relief hit him when he saw a large, wooden cabin. If Bateman would show up, he’d show up during this time. Running to the side of the house, the rain falls only became harder, hitting the roof of the house beside him. He was so close to the wall he could reach out and touch it. The muffled yelling was not coming from the trees beyond. Where are you Jacob?

CJ panicked. WAS it his imagination? Was he standing by some cabin that had nothing to do with his hunt and he was going crazy? Standing out in heavy rain fall, clothes slightly tattered and sodden with mud, water and who knows what else from the ground? He would have cried out in pure disappointment, but he heard Jacob again. BELOW his feet. CJ knelt, pressing his head to the dirt. “Jacob! I’m here!” He heard Jacob again, so close and yet so far. He wished he could see his human friend this second, but he’d have one last task. Digging him out.

Huffing as he stood, he eyed a shed close to the cabin, racing to it, he found a small metal shovel leaning by it. He ran back to the spot and dug. Using all the stallion’s might was hard. He was so tired from the past days of being depressed and searching. This was it. He grunts as he began to move the earth below him, thunder rumbled a few times. Water stung CJ’s eyes as he looked down, praying to find some semblance of a helpless teen. The shovel soon hit a wooden surface. CJ’s heart skipped a beat.

It was a wooden coffin, thinly built. Had a human been searching, they probably would have never heard Jacob’s muffled cries, but anthros, especially dogs and horses had exceptionally acute hearing. Once the form of the wooden container was revealed through more poking with the shovel, CJ knelt again and began to tug at the lid. Come on CJ! This is it! THIS IS IT! Pull you lazy bastard!

The coffin came apart after what seemed to be a good five minutes, the sound of wood snapping had never felt so satisfying. And there Jacob lied, only for a fraction of a second before sitting up and wrapping his arms around the brown horse. Jacob’s clothing was merely a hospital gown, he looked pale and terrified, as perhaps should be expected. The hug was tight, the best bonding either of them had ever experienced. Jacob cried softly, CJ merely held him close taking deep breaths of pure tiredness.

“Jacob. We need to go. Now.” He helped the human up, groaning in pain as his left leg was beginning to hurt again. The evening would have ended in victory at that moment, if Bateman hadn’t come out of his cabin, smiling condescendingly. Eyeing someone who was so good in the community and seeing him perform such a sick act was something out of a horror movie.

Jacob hid behind the horse, whimpering in fear, CJ could have as well as he saw the fox pulling a pistol out of his overalls, aimed right at the two. Shaking excess rain water off, Bateman walked to the two, CJ stepped back, holding one of Jacob’s hands. Bateman’s eyes were missing emotion, sympathy for the most part. Like a rabid dog with no feeling.

“No one’s going to believe you, CJ. The principle of a school kidnapped and assaulted a human. Anthro schools got over that YEARS ago. But now we’re much better. Now, bring Jacob to me and I won’t have to shoot you. Tell them you found nothing of your human.” CJ snorts at him in agitation.

“Let him go. You had your fun. Let this kid live. He won’t tell.” The two anthros stood, facing each other. One had a pistol, one had someone else’s life. Jacob eyed CJ’s bag. Slowly, he began to unzip it, Bateman kept his gaze on CJ. The fox approached closer.

“How many humans died here, Bateman? Hm? How many?” He shrugged, pressing the gun into CJ’s neck. The horse would have normally stood down, ran away. The emotion ‘timid’ was no longer in his soul. He was bound and determined to stay with Jacob. He let go of the teen’s hand as he slowly fumbled around in the backpack. Bateman cocked the pistol.

“I don’t have to tell you shit, CJ. Now, I hope you have your last words ready. Once you’re nothing but a bloody mess, I’ll go back to my life as a school figure. Jacob will be a missing human. Among MANY missing humans and it’ll be a sad fucking tragedy in the town of Havenport.” The fox’s finger was now placed on the trigger.

The horse’s ears perked suddenly, Bateman yelled in excruciating pain, dropping his weapon. Like lightning, Jacob had found a pocket knife in among all the other items, took a chance and rammed the blade into the fox’s stomach. The large amount of blood made CJ feel queasy, but he still stared, picking up the discarded gun while he was at it. He felt quite uncomfortable holding a firearm.

Jacob rammed the knife into the fox again, this time into a large artery in his throat. His orange fur was caked in pools of blood, jetting from his open airway. Bateman collapsed on his back with a thud, convulsing, the sound of red liquid covering his throat made a horrific gurgling sound that ended almost as soon as it began. Bateman’s eyes glazed over. Jacob stands over the body. His hands covered in blood, the hand which held the pocket knife trembled. He took deep breaths. CJ placed a hand on Jacob’s shoulder, hoping to calm him. Probably it was no use.

 

Chapter 10- Now

 

Three weeks after the story of Bateman’s true sick nature came out, meetings were held of how humans and anthros co-exist. Mostly talk of how to prevent incidents such as this. Once the police raided the fox’s cabin, in locked boxes they found more photos of innocent humans. Tied up, tortured, gagged. His laptop contained worse, but most officers had trouble even thinking of the atrocities Bateman housed in his mind.

Using a cane to get up and walk about wasn’t easy, but CJ would adapt, and his leg would heal after some time. His morning routine hadn’t changed. Warm shower, breakfast then go out to check on the large field. The early morning breeze was cool, CJ looked nice in his new leather jacket, jeans and boots. As he stood out surveying Havenport Farm, he didn’t feel that chill of eeriness from being alone. Instead, it was indifference.

Turning his head to one side, he saw a shadowy figure. Leaning against one of the wooden fences. It caused CJ to startle, but he knew who it was. Limping to Jacob, he too leaned against the fence. He glanced at the human who looked a bit blank. Jacob had a few scars on him, perhaps a bruise or two.

“Isn’t it kinda early for you to be here?” The horse asked sweetly. Jacob shrugged. He hadn’t talked much since everything happened. He was always quite happy at the barn. Well, perhaps he was happy to be here, but showing it was a bit of a chore. Since all he could think of was Bateman’s disturbing voice before falling asleep every night. Jacob placed an arm around CJ.

“I like it here.” His voice groggy with tiredness. He stared at the dark blue sky, the sun would be up soon. “It’s calming, and I like being with you.” Not many had shown such affection towards him, but maybe since he was the one who rescued him, a new type of bond had been formed. CJ couldn’t help but keep looking at Jacob. He had lived through so much.

“I can make you some food. Maybe we can go out later too?” Jacob hugged CJ’s waist.

“I’m still too scared to go out far. Please. Stay?” Gently patting his head, CJ nodded. He could do his errands later. If Jacob needed him, he’d be with him. And that was that. Grabbing his cane, the two walk back to CJ’s house.

A calmness went over the two of them, being back at the farm was what they truly wanted. Jacob didn’t want to go back to school, not at least for a while. CJ didn’t want to venture far off to get away. He wanted his humdrum life back with Jacob and all his wonderful co-workers. A place of hard-work and kindness. That was Havenport Farm.

END.

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Fire Ant- Episode 1: Meet Charlie…

Plot: Meet Charlie, an accident in a group of scientific experiments mixing human and animal DNA. Unlike the others who are programmed to follow Dr. Adler’s orders, Charlie is a fire ant who broke the mold to become a hyper superhero.  

PRESENT DAY

Shane tiredly left the café after a long day at work. This had become his evening routine, it was a nice break from the noisy job he worked during the day. He paid the waiter with a soft smile, grabbed his briefcase and left.

A warm breeze made his loose tie blow to the side a bit. To get to his apartment, the 35-year-old had to walk through an eerie looking alleyway. Nothing had ever happened to him while taking this quick route, little did he know this would change. To keep himself calm, he would talk to himself to try and offset the ominous feeling he got while walking past trash cans and seeing rats scuttle close by. The area smelt of old trash.

All these thoughts disappeared in a flash as he felt a pair of hands shove him into the pavement below. The attacker, a thin, balding man with a knife and smiling looked down at Shane. “Give me your money!” Shane trembled, he was never one to attack even in self-defense.

Lots of memories came up of high school and being bullied-except this time his life was on the line. The attacker swiftly kicked Shane in the gut, with a grunt he fell backwards, his stomach aching. This was it. He would die in this horrible alleyway, he knew he shouldn’t have taken this route. Now he’d pay the ultimate price.

Trying to get a view of his crazed villain, Shane noticed a few feet behind the attacker, a shadowy figure, silhouetted against the street lights down the road. Perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him, but he swore he saw a pair of antennae sticking from his or her head. His voice a tad bit high, but still human sounding. “Can’t we all just get along?”

Lunging his knife with a slight yell, the attacker swung for Shane, ignoring the figure.In a flash, the half-insect half-human grabbed the robber’s wrist and twisted, which proved to be effective, this hero was buff. His skin dark red, his arms extremely flexible as he seemed to be able to move very acrobatically. The odd creature then threw a kick to his stomach. He moaned in pain and didn’t try to move again.

His gloved hand grabbed Shane’s hand tightly, pulling him up. Shane had to look slightly downward to get a better view, as his hero was a little over 4 feet tall. His features were that of a typical fire ant, apart from pinchers and instead of six limbs sticking out from all sides, he had two arms placed on either side of his toned body. “Thank you, sir. You saved my life.” Shane’s voice quivered as he was still in a state of shock. “Name’s Charlie.” He said with a kind smile, looking up at the human he just saved. “Are you a monster?”

Shane asked in a nervous tone, hoping he didn’t offend him too much. “An unflattering word for an ant, but maybe to some!” Charlie rubbed his neck while giggling. Of course, seeing a talking, clothes-wearing insect brought upon quite confused feelings as Shane sat on a nearby curb with a huff. Maybe he was going crazy? Should he check himself into an asylum? It didn’t seem like a bad idea until Charlie sat by Shane, his antenna wiggled, slightly brushing Shane’s hair. From science class, he remembered that’s how ants could get a feel or smell of something.

The slight brush of this meant to Shane that either he really WAS crazy, or that whoever or whatever it was seemed concerned for him was in front of him. Cocking his head, Charlie tried to get a better view of his new acquaintance, he never seemed to stop giving off his warm smile. “You okay buddy?” With a pause, Shane couldn’t stop staring at the guy who saved him. “I think I’m going crazy. There’s a giant ant in front of me.”

He began to stutter. Charlie stayed quiet. “And the man, he attacked me! But, I’m not dead. You saved me.” Sensing his tone go up, Charlie put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s get you to my place, okay?”After a short walk to the apartment, Charlie and Shane sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in each hand. “Are there more like you?” The ant nodded softly. “Born in raised in a lab, I saw a lot of weird stuff.” “So, you escaped?”

Charlie finished his drink. “Yeah. It was fun.” Shane’s eyebrow rises. “Fun? Not terrifying or scary? Fun.” Charlie smiled. “I guess when you have newly discovered powers, you either enjoy it or let it go to waste.” Shane paused. “So, what about other people? How do they respond to you?”

The ant nodded and eyed Shane. “They’ve seen me. I’ve had a few articles written about me. As I said, they’re others like me so perhaps people have seen them? The amount of genetically engineered animals is rising.” Shane was introduced to concepts he had never heard of. Weird science experiments, talking animals who were way bigger than usual. It all seemed like some odd dream. In all honesty, he was more shaken by being attacked than talking to an ant. However weird he was or where he came from, the fact remained that Charlie saved his life. “I better get going” Shane stood slowly.

Charlie gave Shane his phone number, in hopes a friendship would soon turn up. Not many humans trusted this ant, so having someone to talk to would be nice. Charlie’s apartment is now filled only with the ambience of cars driving by and the occasional dialogue from pedestrians laughing or talking loudly.

The city of Boston offered a lot of fun for him, whether it be catching criminals or trying to interact with the public, but when home alone the feeling of isolation was a bit sad. Removing his usual crime-fighting attire, a long-sleeved black shirt, black jeans and hiking boots, and hanging it up in a secret closet. He lied in his bed nude reading a book. Shane sat on the couch at his place, researching online about these odd genetically modified animals. Charlie was right, people knew about them. He found eyewitness photos of all types of strange creatures, from dogs, to wolves to other insects. He texted Charlie to let him know he made it home safely. The two would meet sooner than he realized.

ONE YEAR AGO

Waking up in a cold cell was something Charlie was used to. His brain felt functional in his newly found body, the transformation had completely taken over a month ago. Looking through the metal bars, he saw what he always saw, a white room, aligned with other metal cages and other humanized animals. All ranging in size, but Charlie is the shortest.

The other test subjects looked worse than he did, tired eyes, lying motionless. Some of them even quite sick. A nearby wooden door opened to reveal a balding, thin 50-year-old male in a lab coat, tie and slacks, his name tag reads Dr. Adler. Being fearless, Charlie didn’t cower like the others did as he put on rubber gloves and opened a nearby briefcase.

His voice calm and almost kind sounding. “You guys are looking amazing.” As he spoke, he approached each anthro animal and injected each with an unknown substance. Going along the rows, Charlie eyed him cautiously. When Adler approached the fire ant, he smiled and forcefully grabbed his hand through the bars. “You’ve always been a hyper one!” The needle pinched Charlie’s skin, he didn’t fight, barely winced at the pain.

As Adler finished his work for the morning and wrote down unknown scribblings in a journal, Charlie realized that if he wanted to escape, he’d have to use his newly found abilities. He was short. Which could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the situation. Slipping through the bars wasn’t an option, not only were they too small, but there were security cameras placed about. How could one escape without alerting the security guards or Adler? Sitting in a corner, Charlie didn’t lose hope.

There had to be some design flaw he could take advantage of. He didn’t know it yet, but the answer was right under his nose.

PRESENT DAY

Concentrating on paperwork could not be done today, Shane decided to go to the break room and get some coffee. It was still early, so he knew he could get away with it. Swirling through his brain was Charlie, his look so unique. What else could a giant ant do? The world itself was not what it seemed, and Shane wanted to learn more. He knew he shouldn’t do it, but he shot Charlie a text message.

Shane: Charlie! It’s Shane. I’m at work now but I did some reading on you last night. My brain hurts. Lol! Seriously, this stuff is incredible.

Charlie: You stalking me? 😉

Shane: Yes. Lol! Will I see you again soon bud?

Charlie: Totally!

Deep down he hoped he wasn’t bothering Charlie, then again, he did give Shane his cell number, so perhaps Charlie wanted the interaction. Shane smiled a bit, feeling a bit more at ease as he grabbed a coffee cup and began making his morning drink.

That afternoon, as the sun shined bright and a gentle breeze blew through the city, Charlie and Shane meet up at a small café. The ant wearing a denim jacket and khakis and Shane still in his work clothes, after a brief hug the two sit across from each other. “I read about your past, with Dr. Adler and his experiments. I found your story quite inspiring. The way you escaped.”

Using his antennae to first sniff the coffee, then take a sip he smiled. “You really did your homework. Gosh, you’re one of the only people who got back to me after saving them.” “What do you mean?” Charlie paused. “Well, usually when I save someone, they thank me and I never see them again.” The human couldn’t help but feel a bit bad. “That kinda sucks. You do so much for others.” Charlie didn’t notice, at a table to the left, an experiment like himself. Dressed in a black hoodie and black cargo pants.

Unlike Charlie, however, his intentions were not as kind. The animal’s ears twitch, listening to every word of the conversation. He sniffed the air trying to get a sense of Charlie’s aroma and smirked as he now knew who Charlie’s new friend was.

He stands up and goes down the sidewalk a few blocks, passing bookstores and pawn shops. Cars zoom by him, he gets to a relatively quiet spot and takes his cell phone out. The wolf spoke with a tinge of excitement. “Adler, I know where Charlie is.” Adler spoke on the other end in disbelief. “The damn insect! So long in hiding! You’re a genius! Follow him home. Bring him to me.” The canine smiled. “One more thing. He has a human friend with him. Not sure what his name is but I’ll try and get a picture of them. Wolfy out.” He hung up in a snap, tail wagging gently.

In his white, sterile office, Adler stood up, beginning to pace the room. His plan was working, sending out a few anthros at a time to deal with Charlie’s heroics might work. His cages now empty, his experiments out and about. They had been out for the past year, Charlie was the only one to escape under his supervision.

Adler didn’t want him to get out, unlike the others. His plan? Once apprehending Charlie, he could perhaps kidnap more humans and do more testing. The less humans, the more he could have under his wing. Charlie was a mistake; the others were very responsive to his actions. He didn’t dare make more until the ant was taken care of, the little bugger was an amazing hider. Now Charlie was closer than ever.

After a year of planning, everything seemed to fall into place. Shane and Charlie spent the day walking the city, a few folks recognized him, but didn’t say much. Perhaps the city was afraid of these humanoid animals, which was a possibility. The notion of creatures walking about the city wasn’t brand new, but new enough that most tried to ignore them. They would even attack unprovoked, granted it was rare enough that police didn’t arrest them on the spot, but no one would be surprised if that was the case.

Adler would try and call the police to tell them to arrest Charlie so he could get him, but the chief told him that of course Charlie was a city hero. He didn’t do anything inherently wrong, perhaps broke a few things on accident during a fight but Charlie was either tolerated or well liked. Adler tried everything before resorting to sending out his precious animals. After creating such a monumental leap, he didn’t want them beat up. But now, he realized that Charlie was no good. Not a follower, not a listener. A rebel. Doing things the legal way was not a possibility anymore. Charlie needed to die.

The red ant hummed as he removed his jacket and shut the door to his apartment. He put his coffee machine on and waited for a cup to brew, while he waited he flicked on the nearby CD player in the kitchen. Moving his head to the upbeat music (“Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell) , he got out coffee cream and sugar. Lots of sugar. The sound of glass shattering and feeling the weight of a large, fluffy wolf collide into him like a scary linebacker interrupted his afternoon routine. Charlie crashed on his back, the white canine on top of him, he wrapped his claws around his victim’s throat. Charlie got a good look at the snarling beast, he knew the smell came from Adler’s office.

After a year, he came out of hiding to strike. Charlie thought he was safe from the creator he once lived with, but realized it was too good to be true. Breathing soon became a bit of a chore, Charlie didn’t have the strength to push him off. However, he had something that not everyone knew of. Releasing one of his hands and making a fist, he sprayed a short burst of clear acid into the wolf’s eyes. His paws automatically hit his face, giving Charlie ample time to make his next move. Howling in pain, the ant stood up, grabbing the toaster he whacked the dog in the head, causing a cringy sound of bone against metal. The dog was quite a bit taller than Charlie, about 6 feet tall to Charlie’s 4 feet.

The beast then swung a punch, hitting him square in the jaw. Then swung again, hitting his cheek. The ant then leapt onto the wolf’s shoulders, his sticky hands becoming of prime use, he used one arm to grab his throat and yank him to the ground. The two sat struggling on the kitchen floor the wolf was too tall to control, he knew snapping his neck would be impossible and Charlie had a bit of an awkward grip on him to begin with.

He then eyed the cabinet sitting beside him full of pots and pans. He smirked and rammed the wolf’s head into the door, causing it to break, he whimpered. The dog fell limp onto one side, the ant sighed deeply as his face began to hurt. He stood up, deciding to still make his coffee, he sipped. As he did so, he eyed the knocked-out body and reached into the pocket of the dog, breaking his cell phone in case a tracker was present.

He then called 9-1-1.Once the wolf was apprehended by the cops, Charlie lied on his couch tiredly with an icepack on his bruised cheek. He let an officer sit outside his home for a bit. A splitting headache caused the ant to grow a bit irritable, so he decided to close his eyes.

 

The sound of a cellphone ring woke Charlie from his slumber, it was 8AM. His voice groggy, he answered. “Hello?” “Hey Charlie, it’s Shane. I was wondering if you wanted to go out again?” The ant smiled a bit at Shane’s kindness. “I’d love to bud, but I’m not feeling good.” “You sick?” “You could say that.” Charlie didn’t want to lie to him. He realized Shane truly did care and lying was something he rarely did. He sat up rubbing his eyes with his arm. “I had a break in. Doctor Adler knows where I am.” Shane paused. “My God! Are you okay? Want me to come over?”

As soon as he came over, Shane helped Charlie clean up the access glass. After a warm shower, Charlie offered snacks to Shane. “Has this kind of thing ever happened?” Charlie shook his head. “No. For a year I thought I was safe, Doctor Adler didn’t really slip my mind, but I got caught up with other things.” Shane smirked. “Like saving the world?” “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

Shane admired how Charlie was still able to smile and act happy through the pain. That was him. Smiling through everyday no matter what.

Entering a motorcycle shop at sunset a week after the attack, Charlie looked about. He realized he should have a getaway vehicle. The city offered public transportation and that had worked for a while, but if Dr. Adler could send anyone to him at any time, he felt unprepared and a bit vulnerable. Meeting with the shop keeper, the bearded male smiled. “You Charlie?” He said with a firm handshake. “Sure am!” “You kick ass. You’re a brave little fellow.” With a blush, he smirked. “Thanks! I appreciate it.” He showed the desk guy his motorcycle license, he had it since college. “An ant on a motorcycle, huh?” Going through the types of motorcycles was something the owner could do in his sleep, Charlie intently listened, weighing pros and cons. Charlie picked out a set of wheels, a black Ducati. Straddling it, he looked quite content. “How fast does she go?” “160.0 bhp” the male human said nodding. “You’ll need a helmet too of course. Have any questions for me?” Charlie smiled, still sitting upon his new toy. “Does it come in red?”

END.

In the Bedroom: A Fairytale

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PLOT: Working a humdrum office job and having a nagging boss will be the least of Nathan’s issues when he soon learns that his childhood fear-a monster living under his bed is much more than fantasy…

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IN THE BEDROOM: A Fairytale

Aaron B.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

He felt the feeling he was being watched. Every night. He checked his surroundings, but never saw anything there but shadows playing tricks on him. When he was younger, Nathan Bennet was afraid of a monster in his closet or under his bed. His parents assured him nothing like that existed. Now at twenty-one years of age, he certainly didn’t believe in such things. Sometimes in life, however, beliefs are challenged, and you can be proven very wrong.

The email he wrote was a long and boring. Nathan was never one to argue if he didn’t like to do something. Deeply he felt his life had become meaningless. Working at an office, coming home, watching TV and going to bed. The endlessness of his tasks offered him nothing but boredom. He tried creative writing. He tried taking art classes, but nothing stuck. This was his life. Mundane.

Loosening his tie, he entered the break room to make some coffee. A bland looking area with a counter and a few tables. After his coffee was made, he decided to sit and watch the traffic below. He turned on some music from his phone since no one was there. As the moments passed, a few of his co-workers walked in and out. Saying a quick hello, but ultimately leaving him to go somewhere else.

That is until his energetic best friend sat by him, a long-time friend from high school. A good-looking guy who prided himself on fashion and happiness and someone who made Nathan smile. “Nathan! You’re sitting alone again. You know you can always chat with me. No reason for you to be alone.”

His name tag read Paul Tompkins. Placing his purple purse down, he looked to Nathan as he spoke. “I think the boredom of this place gets to me and I forget I have someone I can trust and actually have fun with.” With his one diamond earring, pink sweater and black skinny jeans and high heels, Paul never failed to look glitzy every day. “I’m always so surprised you’re single.” Paul admired how nicely Nathan dressed for work and his personality. He often tried to compliment Nathan, sensing the hatred of his workplace. “Well, thank you for that. What can I say? Being single is the one thing in my life I’m content about.” His tone confident for sure, Paul could tell he truly didn’t long for a girl or boyfriend. “I hope you are more than content. I think happiness is a good goal to strive for.” Nathan nods and sips his coffee. “Agreed. Maybe I’ll find a hobby or maybe I’ll get a puppy or something.” Paul nodded with a friendly smile. “There you go! I think life has plans for you, Nathan. You’re a kind and hardworking guy. I hope good things come to you. I hope you find happiness.” Nathan knew Paul was wrong. His life wouldn’t change. It hadn’t since he was eighteen working at the same humdrum office.

Evening came slowly as the workday had ended. Nathan sent a text to Paul to make sure he drove home safely. He always did, driving worried him and he didn’t have a license. Another thing in his life he was content with. Perhaps Paul was right. Happiness should be what he strives for. With that in mind, Nathan changed into a tank top and black pajama pants and began to cook dinner for himself. Turning on some 80’s rock, he hummed as he cleaned his small kitchen area and readjusted some items. A tiny spark of happiness did go through him as he listened to his music.

Taking a deep breath, Nathan curled up in bed. An average sized bedroom for an apartment. Another boring day is done and over with. He debated on calling Paul just for someone to talk to. Sleep got the better of him and he soon drifted off. A few moments after closing his eyes, he heard a strange sound. A kind of growl. He slowly sat up, thinking it was only a nightmare or maybe a creek from one of the heating pipes. The noise was prominent enough for him to stay sitting up in bed, cocking his head left to right. With a shrug, he lied back down. The creature saw everything. Peeking his head out from under the bed. He knew he had Nathan a bit creeped out. He smiled and retreated to the shadows.

Chapter 2

 

Mr. Hardy left a pile of paperwork to be done once Nathan walked in. With a sigh and coffee in hand, the tired worker began his routine. Dreading every moment of painstakingly looking after Hardy’s writing. Correcting spelling and grammar errors. Nathan had a knack for correcting spelling but doing it for someone else other than one of Paul’s poems he often put online, made him want to faint of nervousness.

Always worrying about failing. Always worried about causing a commotion. He took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes. I can do this. He repeated softly. It’s only grammar. His heart raced. A lump formed in his throat. Should he get up and leave or sit and take it? He leaned back in his chair, his cubical becoming blurry, he loosened his black tie and unbuttoned the top of his blue dress shirt. The sound of footsteps approaching made him more nervous. Luckily, it was Paul. He eyed his friend worriedly. “Hon? You okay?” Nathan went wide eyed for a moment. “Oh! Paul. Yeah, just fine” he lied. Paul softly approached him, his brown hair styled nicely as always. “You don’t look good.” Observed Paul. “Really?” Nathan asked in fake confusion. “Why don’t you get a drink and take a walk? I’ll watch your stuff.” He nodded softly and left. Paul sighed, debating on whether to follow him or not. He decided against it and sat. Worried about his friend. Leaning up against a wall, he took deep breaths. This was not the first time these feelings had come up. Not by a long shot. This felt like the tenth or fifteenth time at least. Soon it’ll be over. Then what? Then back to his boring house. Why was life either high stress or boredom? It didn’t seem right.

Moving the blankets over, Nathan sat up again. Feeling a cold shiver run up his spine. This time, he knew someone, or something was in his room. He looked to one side, near a burrow. He swore he saw a tall figure. Lurking. The shadow hard to make out, the young man spoke into the darkness. “H-hey!” Of course, after he said this he expected to turn a light on and realize it was a lamp or a jacket hanging from a chair. He didn’t expect to hear the deep tone of another “Hey”. He rolled out of bed, he yelled loudly as he backed himself into a corner. He shivered, his palms sweating. His entire body shaking. Dizziness struck him next. The figure walked over to him, his mannerisms so odd. Nathan turned on his bedside lamp, expecting to wake up from this vivid nightmare.

The light shined on him, a very tall reptile humanoid. Dark green skin, a tuft of black hair on his head. His nose pointed, his tail quite sharp looking, so were his tiny pointed teeth when he spoke. The creature smiled at him. “I got you good, boy.” Nathan stood up and attempted to shove the creature away in-between tears of pure terror. Shoving him back, the creature giggled. “I’ll be back little man. Sadly, for you, this is my job.” He slithered under the bed like some large snake. With a scream, Nathan looked under the bed, but nothing was there. He began to knock items over, ripping the blankets off, seeing if he could find the creature. Running to the bathroom, he ran his hands under the sink and splashed his face. “Pull yourself together! There’s NO such thing as monsters.”

Spilling coffee on the floor, Nathan cussed quietly and grabbed napkins. Paul quickly helped him as he always seemed to appear out of nowhere. He looked at Nathan and saw dark circles under his eyes. “Nathan? Did you sleep at all?” He shrugged. “No. Never do really.” With a sigh, Paul held his hand. “I know you hate this job, and I know you live alone. I want you to call me if you’re feeling unhappy. Really. I can’t stress it enough. I can even bring you food!” Nathan smiled softly at his friend’s offer. “Maybe sometime. Thanks, pal.”

After being called into Mr. Hardy’s office, Nathan sat nervously. Going through his head, thinking if he had done anything wrong. The boss is slender, has a hairstyle that would be a throwback to the 1950s. He wore a grey suit as he sat across from him. On his desk, a picture of his family. “Nathan, I wanted to tell you what you did wrong with your paperwork.” Of course. It was always what he did wrong. Never did he seem to do anything well. It was always whiny criticism. “I noticed that you missed a few periods and you didn’t use the right size font. I’m going to ask you to do it again.” Just like that, he tossed out the challenging work he had done. Truth be told, he did as best as he could. “Sir, I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time. I promise.” Hardy nodded and smiled. “It’s a waste of time to do all that and do everything wrong.” Nathan had all he could do not to tip a chair over or kick the desk in front of him. Nathan left without a single word, heading back to his cubical. He took deep breaths and tapped a nearby pen on the desk, trying to get his mind off Hardy’s tone and annoying little nitpicks. He closed his eyes, repeating…the day’s almost over. The day’s almost over. He had no idea what waited for him at home.

 

Stepping into his kitchen, he yelped loudly as the very creature from last night was raiding his refrigerator. The creature at full height is about seven feet, dark green scaly skin and a pointed snout much like a Komodo dragon. His eyes yellow and kind of pretty in a mysterious way. Nathan gently backed against the wall. Gazing on something he had never seen. It spoke. “You weren’t supposed to see me.” His voice so odd and otherworldly. Nathan sat in a corner but didn’t seem as terrified as before. “What are you?” Nathan said a bit loudly, the creature dropped what he had in his hand, a box of cereal. “The monster living under your bed.” He states rather plainly. “Those don’t exist! You must be some weird undiscovered creature living in my house.” “I’ve been under your bed for quite some time.”

In a sort of rush of flashbacks, he remembered complaining to his parents when he was quite young about a haunting presence in his bedroom. Like all parents, they told him monsters don’t exist. Here one was, plain as day standing in his living room. “I don’t believe you, but whatever the case, can’t you leave me alone? You’ve scared the shit out of me.” The creature eyed him softly. “I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. You see, when a monster picks a quote ‘victim’ they live in their home until the day we die. We are born to scare. It’s in our nature. We never leave your side. Typically, of course, no human sees us, and they shrug us off thinking we were just a phase in childhood. You are the first human to communicate with any monster under the bed.” Nathan stood up and took a deep breath. Calling the police was out of the question, what if bullets didn’t hurt it? What if the creature himself killed the officers?

“Did you pick me on purpose to scare?” The creature picked the box of cereal up and munched once he got a handful. “In a sense. We are born in caverns hidden from society. Our masters teach us how to scare others in unique ways and then we are sent to houses. Most kids are easy to scare, but some aren’t. It’s all luck of the draw.” Nathan rolls his eyes, he truly hated having a monster living with him. Especially one that tormented his childhood. “Well go back to your master and leave me alone, I’m too old to have ‘monster in my closet’ problems. You scared me enough when I was a kid.” Nathan walked to the kitchen as he spoke, getting a salad prepared for himself.

The creature followed him, staying a few feet behind him. “We can’t go back. Once we pick a house, that’s it. I will live here until I die. Which won’t be far way away lucky for you.” Perhaps a tad bit of sadness hit Nathan, enough for him to reconsider his emotions. “I’ll make you a deal. You stop trying to scare me, and I’ll let you stay.” Never had anyone treated him with such kindness. The creature smiled a bit. Nathan cocked his head. “Don’t smile. Please. It’s scary.” The creature giggled. “Do you have a name?” With a shrug, he spoke. “Not really.” Nathan paused, he tapped his finger on a nearby surface. “Melvin was the name of my first dog. Does that sound good?”

Melvin sat on the nearby counter as Nathan did the dishes. Melvin cocked his head to the various sounds of glasses being clanked and the warm, soapy water running from the faucet. Doing nightly chores as a tall, reptilian creature watched was far from normal. The human didn’t talk much, he found this whole thing a bit to jarring. What would one talk to a creature about? The weather? Emotions? It all seemed so alien to him. Was Melvin lying? Would he come out with something scarier than before?

As he stole glances towards Melvin and watched him innocently sitting and doing rather normal human behaviors, another thought went through his head. One he didn’t expect. Melvin looked rather innocent. It felt like a silly thought, something that scared him so much, now shown in a different light. No longer shrouded in darkness, but sitting right by him, it gave Melvin a sort of lively appearance. As eerie as some of his movements were, his other features didn’t seem all that bad. ‘Who am I kidding?’ Nelson thought as he finished up and dried his hands. ‘He’s not bothering me now, so I won’t say anything negative. But I won’t be one to start personal dialogue about my horrible work day or anything like that.’

Sitting on the couch, Nathan watched a stupid sitcom, just something to have on as his tiredness ever so slowly began to grow. Melvin sat on the other side, again in a very human-like manner. “Want me to go back under your bed?” Nathan eyed him sternly. “No. You’ll scare me again. Believe it or not, I like when I can see you.” Melvin nodded and coughed softly, his lizard-like long tail sat in his lap, the tip nearly touching Nathan. “Guess I did an excellent job.” Due to the bad day he had and due to the anxiety he had over the past few weeks, he snapped, leaning forward. “I hated it. I hate being scared, I hate having some freak in my house! I hate what you did to my childhood. You know how many kids are freaked out due to monsters in their closets? Lots! You’re part of the problem. Just shut up.”

Leaning back, he sighed deeply. Melvin’s eyes went from curious, to down. He played with his tail. “It’s all playful fun” he finally said, Nathan scoffed. “Right. Fun for you. You never, ever stopped to consider the kind of terror you put ME through.” Again, Melvin’s eyes looked down. This time his whole head went with the motion. “It’s the only way I knew how to communicate with someone else. It’s how I was brought up.”

Listening to his remorseful voice, Nathan rubbed his eyes slowly. This wasn’t a human. This was an otherworldly being, taught to scare and that’s it. No other interaction. Not until now. “I’m sorry I yelled at you, Melvin. Honestly, I should be in awe. I’m experiencing something probably no one else has.” The creature stood up, Nathan watched him not blinking-a stare of nervousness. Would he attack? Would he yell? Who knew? He braced himself for the worst. “Goodnight Nathan.” Watching Melvin leave, Nathan turned off the TV.

As his weary eyes began to close, he heard and felt something among the blankets. “Melvin! Get out.” He whispered harshly, the creature sat in a ball at the end of his bed. His eyes glowing in the darkness. “I won’t scare you, I promise. I’ve never slept in a bed before.” Remembering his outburst and how horrible he felt after, the human took a deep breath and let him stay.

 

Chapter 3

 

A few days passed, Nathan woke and stretched. Their relationship had not grown much, but slowly Nathan liked the idea of Melvin. He saw the creature lying on the other end of the bed, sleeping away. He was most active at night, which made sense given the creature’s purpose in life. He eyed the sleeping being, slouched over the edge of the bed on his stomach. Down his spine were a series of black, small spikes, much like a porcupine, which seemed to be folded downward. His breathing deep, much like a large dog.

Sitting at the table, sipping coffee Nathan skimmed through some news articles on his iPad, researching monsters under beds and if anything would connect. When he felt a pair of hands leap over his shoulder, he flinched. “Melvin!” he said in a slightly loud tone. He chuckled darkly and sat by him, his voice chipper. “Sorry. I can’t help it.” Nathan couldn’t help but softly smile, he thought Melvin did have a somewhat charming personality after having sometime to process things. “Look. Your purpose IS to scare. I get it. It really does bother me though. I feel like we’re on speaking terms and you don’t need to do that.” Melvin shrugged. “Fine. I’m itching to scare though. So, tempting. So, fun.” Melvin is super odd, that’s for sure, but something in his mannerisms told Nathan he was far from evil. His scaring was more playful at this stage than life threatening. Perhaps it had been that all along.

His office hours, work seemed to go by a bit slower as he constantly checked his watch, on the hand he didn’t feel quite as lonely. A bit more confident perhaps. Typing in his usual spot, Melvin was in the back of his brain the entire time. What was odd was Paul didn’t show up to perform his normal greeting. A moment passed. Nathan decided to sneak into the break room.

Paul had a large box, putting items away. He certainly wasn’t himself. His slow mannerisms spoke volumes. Rolling his sleeves up, Nathan knocked gently and opened the door. Paul smiled at Nathan-a fake smile. “Paul? Are you okay?” With a sigh, he closed the cardboard box. “Mr. Hardy doesn’t want me here anymore.” Nathan rolled his sleeves up. “That’s ridiculous. You’re so hardworking.” Again, Paul sighed. “He went on this whole tangent on how ‘uncomfortable’ I make him. How quote ‘girly I look’, how he couldn’t stand being near me.” Nathan’s heart goes to the pit of his stomach. Paul carried the box and walked toward his best friend. “Sadly, this is only a sign of hateful times.” His tone so low and defeated. Exiting the room, Nathan stood, his throat closed. He knew his boss was picky and annoying, but prejudice to the point of firing a worker? This threw him off.

Nathan sat in the break room, in a corner alone. No longer having Paul’s fun commentary to brighten his day. Sadness came in waves this day. The feeling loneliness at work hit him. More so than ever. After the break, he goes to his sitting area a bit earlier than usual. Opening his email browser, he typed his boss’ name. Every worker had their own file which could be accessed by any employee. Mr. Hardy preferred snail mail as opposed to email. With this information, Nathan found Mr. Hardy’s address and hits print.

Melvin knew something was wrong right when Nathan entered the apartment. “Are you upset?” Nathan took a seat on the couch next to Melvin. The scales on his body shined a tiny bit as the light from the lamp nearby struck him just right. “I yelled at you. The first night we met. I’d like to make it up to you.” Melvin cocked his head. “Remember my friend I told you about? Paul? He was fired from work.” Cocking his head again, the creature had no idea what that word meant. Nathan quickly explained. “He was removed from his job. Like if your master told you, you couldn’t scare people anymore. Paul’s boss kicked him out.” “Well, surely to get that sort of treatment, he did something wrong?” Nathan shook his head. “I’m afraid not. His boss simply didn’t like his clothing or his ideas.”

With a sad sigh, Melvin looked to Nathan. He had never heard of such a thing. For a monster to get removed from scaring others, you’d have to do something against the master personally or break one of the few ‘rules of scaring.’ Judging someone by appearance was never something Melvin was faced with.

Nathan looked at his feet. “Look, I have someone you can scare.” The spikes on his back slowly went up. “Is that so?” he said with a slight sneer. “I don’t have the guts to yell at my boss or put him in his place for the horrible thing he did.” With a clawed hand on his shoulder, he stopped talking. “Nathan. This is what I do. This isn’t my first time.” Nathan sighed and decided to get out of his work clothes, putting on a hoodie and jeans.

His wife was out on vacation. His kids away at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Hardy had the entire home to himself, wearing a bathrobe and pajama pants he finished his glass of wine as he turned off the living room lights and turned off the TV. The tidiness of his home showed how truly obsessive he was about neatness. Not a single thing out of place, the windows shined, everything shined as a matter of fact.

Lying in bed, he closed his book and took a deep breath as he flicked off his bedside light, lying in complete darkness. His heating pipes began to make a rattling sound, which always woke him as soon as he started to drift off. This was not natural. Melvin was rattling it. Melvin softly chuckled an evil sound that made Mr. Hardy sat up. He began to sweat a bit as he sits up. “Who’s there?” he asked as a lump formed in his throat.

Before he could get up and get a weapon, Melvin leaped onto his bed with a growl. Hardy lets out a terrified shriek as the creature pins him down with two hands by the shoulders. Melvin was in his glory. Feeling sweat of a terrified victim was what he relished in.

The spikes on his back stood up, Hardy’s eyes wide open as he gazed upon something he had never seen, Melvin was able to change his voice to the most sinister tone one could wish to hear. “WHO ARE YOU?” Hardy yelled as he struggled to get out. “The monster under your bed for the night.” Hardy thrashed about, but the creature kept him in a tight grasp. “You’re not real!” Melvin held Hardy’s jaw in a tight grip. “Fear would do you some good, Mr. Hardy. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like he isn’t trying his best. Understood?” Hardy nodded as his hand slowly reached to the bedside table. Melvin gazed into his eyes when suddenly he felt a sharp pain go through his shoulder. Melvin let out a monstrous yell as he tumbled off the bed and onto the floor. Hardy took the butcher knife he always kept there and ran out of the bedroom.

Halfway down the stairs, he tripped on the sleek wooden texture of the staircase and fell on his side, rolling on his back. The knife flew in one direction. Groaning in pain, he slowly tried to get up, when suddenly Melvin had made his way to him. His arm bled, but that didn’t seem to stop him as he placed one of his clawed feet on Hardy’s chest. “Kill Me! Come on! Creature from hell!” Melvin sighed deeply. “I repeat. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like trash.”

Shrouded in darkness, Melvin exited Hardy’s home, standing near the doorway and looking out onto the sidewalk and the surrounding suburban area. Nathan who was just about to check on him, ran to him like an owner finding his lost dog. “Melvin! You’re bleeding!” He held the creature’s hand and walked by his side. “I’m so sorry! I should’ve gone with you. I was too scared, and I knew I wouldn’t be much help anyway. I should have gone to keep watch.” Melvin couldn’t help but gently smile, this time it looked genuine and not terrifying. “I had fun actually.”

Sitting at the kitchen table, Nathan wrapped Melvin’s arm in a bandage, the sounds of crickets could be heard outside. The air conditioning made a low humming sound. Melvin sat eating a snack, looking at Nathan as he finished patching him up.

He still found humans a bit fascinating, in a way he thought he never would. For so long, he was taught that humans were nothing more than scared victims, but Nathan proved the opposite. That there’s more to the human condition than just one or two emotions. Perhaps Nathan had become a bit more open-minded to the unknown world, before fearing what he didn’t understand, maybe now he realized that just because something is not known, doesn’t make it bad.

For so long his life was a series of boring events, even now, he still couldn’t believe that a creature sat a few feet from him. In a way, he felt lucky. Lucky to have something that not everyone had. Something to make him feel special. “How did Mr. Hardy take your words?” he asked as he did the dishes, Melvin shrugged. “I hope well enough. I did my best.” Nathan glanced over his shoulder to Melvin. “Well, you are scary. But kind of adorable.” Pausing, Melvin felt a sense of happiness when he said that. Maybe he was tired of being called scared and wanted to show that there was another side to him.

Paul happily entered the office the next morning, Nathan hugged him tightly as he did so. “I don’t know what got into Mr. Hardy. He called me and apologized. Not like him at all! Maybe his superior came down on him?” Shrugging, Nathan made his morning coffee with a smile. “I certainly didn’t yell at him.” Paul grabbed a few files he needed to get going on returning to the office, last minute assignments. Walking passed a nearby window, Mr. Hardy gave a gentle wave to Nathan, he waved back in the same manner. Giggling, Paul approached Nathan. “Okay. Who killed Mr. Hardy and cloned him?” “Maybe someone scared him into changing his attitude?” “Who could do that? Mr. Hardy’s a scary guy when he’s mad. I can’t imagine someone putting fear into him.”

Nathan walked by Paul’s side the cubical area. Speaking in a low tone. “I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t open up a bit. I do know. Exactly what happened. Meet me at my house next week.” Paul eyed him. “What have you got up your sleeve?” Nathan stops him, speaking lower. “Look, you’re my best friend. I’m not going to keep secrets from you. I can’t get into it now. Trust me. You won’t want to miss it.”

The two sat on the couch, the TV on low. An odd emotion stirred through Melvin. One of comfort. As a creature built on fear, this was new to him. Sure, he felt happy scaring people, but comfortable? His whole life was spent either in Nathan’s closet or under a bed. Comfort wasn’t something he was used to. Being with someone. Talking to someone when they weren’t wide-eyed in terror was a feeling of warmth he didn’t think he had in him. For so long he was alone, no one to talk to. No one to confide in. Now he had found his goal. He once thought to bring terror to others was his goal, but maybe deep down it was to find a friend in Nathan. To find love instead of fear. The creature rests his head on Nathan’s leg, taking a deep breath. The human smiled softly and placed a blanket over him. Normally he slept during the day, but this night had proved to be an energetic and emotional affair. The human felt a sense of warmth as his friend slept deeply, his breathing so calm and so odd at the same time. Nathan knew Melvin needed a sense of comfort and acceptance, instead of getting up like he wanted to and go to bed, he let him sleep there. Melvin needed him as much as Nathan needed Melvin. Two unlikely species, living in harmony.

END.

A Krampus Carol

 

DDF41805-C6DE-49F6-A21C-E96FE047530F

 

PLOT: After being abused by his dad, James meets the Christmas demon himself-Krampus in a night of revenge and Holiday cheer…

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 A KRAMPUS CAROL

Written by: Aaron B.

Art by: Trine Lise Normann

NIGHT-DECEMBER 24, 2017

Light snow fell upon the town, red and green lights from houses illuminated the night sky and roads. A monster lurked, shrouded in shadow, standing on a street corner, his eyes perfectly adjusted to the darkness. His clawed hands in his pockets, his hoofed feet crushed the snow and ice below. He was on a hunt, he knew who he was going after. Walking along snowy sidewalks, a chilly wind kicked up, his dark red fur now covered in spots of white and becoming a bit wet. Sniffing the chilly night air, he knew his victim was lurking this evening. Krampus never forgot a face or name, the child’s name? Timothy. slightly overweight, blonde hair reaching his shoulders and usually holding a green backpack. What had he done this holiday season to deserve a visit from the Christmas demon?

Police had gotten calls from parents of pets missing in the neighborhood, not only had they always been located near or around Tim’s house, but Tim’s photography work of his gruesome and heinous acts did not lie. Krampus sensed evil within children, like a mathematician finding a number out of place-he had been doing this for a long time. Tim had been lucky over the past year to fly under Santa’s radar-but tonight, Tim would get more than he ever bargained for.

The child stood over the body of his latest furry victim, a yellow lab puppy. He smirked and took a photograph of the mangled corpse like he always did. He would be home in time for opening presents with his family if he hurried.

The woods are an eerie place at night, but he knew his way around, shining his flashlight among the tall trees and careful not to slip on sheets of ice. He wasn’t scared, he was gleeful after the work he had done, the harming of innocent creatures is what made him happy.

Walking through roots and wet leaves, he exited the wooded area, putting his hands in the pockets of his khakis. He hummed a bit as he made his way up a large hill, and overlooking this hill was the town he lived in. Houses, one after another, decorated with Christmas cheer, Santa statues, reindeer, snowmen and flashing red and green lights.

Timothy thought he was alone as he walked through the same roads his stalker patrolled -but his naivety would be his undoing. Briskly walking through the dark town, he heard distant music playing from a convenience store, the typical Christmas classics, which now happened to be Carol of The Bells.

Past the store and crossing roads, he was almost home, where he would be welcomed by a large pine tree and loving arms of his blissfully unaware parents, as he passed a few houses-he fell smack to the pavement, his head hitting the cement. With a groan, Timothy slowly stood up-and standing in front of him was the tallest man he had ever seen.

Over six feet tall, wearing a velvet red hood with white fluffy trimming, his yellow eyes glow, slightly illuminating his face, that of a red demon with a goatee. The horns on his head had a large curve like a goat. His hands were not hooved, but human-like, red hands with pointy fingernails. Removing his large hood, the creature revealed himself in full. His body covered with red mangled fur, a long tail between his legs and large hoofed feet. On his back, he carried a brown sack full of sharp objects and other torture devices.

The kid stood up, Krampus perfectly blocked his way. Tim usually would scold and yell at any adult who dares question him-but from the looks of this ‘thing’ he was far from human. Tim looked down, seeing a silver chain which hung from his hip. He said not a word, but the creature spoke, his voice a deep whisper, like a demonic soul enjoying his time scaring him. “Timothy Whitfield, you’ve been naughty As Tim stood frozen in fright, one of Krampus’ clawed hands reached for the silver chain, with a yank it came loose. A single tear escaped Tim’s eye and he ran in the other direction, he wanted to scream but thought it may provoke him.

With a smirk and with lightning speed, the goat-creature spun the chain, high in the air like a cowboy lassoing cattle. As he did so, his large abs began to show themselves in full. The metal object wrapped around the kid’s feet-tripping him and falling on his nose, causing it to gush dark red blood. Tim now began to scream and squirm-but it seemed the more he struggled, the more the chain would engulf his entire body and get tighter.

Keeping a hold of the chain, Krampus walked slowly up to Tim, his breath could be seen coming from his nostrils, the sound of his huge footsteps nearing closer to his head gave him a sense of dread he had never felt before. He thought maybe the creature would show mercy if he was lucky. Releasing the chain and going for his sack, he pulled out a bundle of birch branches, tied by a heavy piece of rope, made by the creature himself.

Krampus knelt in front of his face, revealing his pointed fangs and elongated tongue which nearly touched his frozen skin, with a maniacal chuckle he whacked the terrified and screaming kid over and over with the weapon. The impact caused his skin to turn red, the sting was unimaginably painful. The demon whispered in his same dark tone. “Naughty…naughty…naughty.” Tim rolled on his back, the snow seeping through his clothes. Krampus then pulled out a large knife, before Tim could yell, his throat was sliced open. Warmblood poured from the wound and onto Krampus’ clothes, he gasped for air. The Christmas demon watched him writhe in agony, unblinking and unstirred by the gushing wound.

 

 

DUSK-DECEMBER 25, 2017

James dreaded Christmas. Nothing had gone right for him any other time of year, so why would things go well now? His soul typically optimistic when the holidays came in hopes of maybe getting a secret Santa, he shook his head. He had just gotten up from a nap, he put on his favorite pajamas, his short blonde hair did not need combing, he rubbed his blue eyes and made his way down the stairs.

The living room presented a medium-sized Christmas tree, complete with lights, ornaments and a star on top-but, not a single gift. The floor a mess, the place smelt of smoke and alcohol.

His fifty-year-old father sits in his leather recliner, wearing a white tank top and shorts, his stomach hung out, his balding head and entire body dirty and unkempt.

The fourteen-year-old cleared his throat, maybe he had caught his dad in a good mood. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing played from the TV, the large choir sounding so angelic.

The window facing the outside world, getting covered in heavy snow. The wind could be faintly heard. The sky a pinkish color as the sun began its descent, James never quite spoke up loudly, he tried to keep his voice as even as possible. “Dad? Are we going to go out for Christmas? Maybe?” Mike, the father stretched and went to the kitchen, nearly bumping into his son. “Go to bed. You’re not getting anything this year anyway.” His voice cold and distant, his words slurred. He got nasty when he had too much booze. James sighed deeply, trying to keep his discomfort and depression pinned down. James knew his mother’s death had taken a toll on his dad, it was no secret he only liked her for her looks. Her having a kid was something Mike was never fond of.

He chugged more of his liquor, standing, looking coldly at his son. “You’re nothing but a nuisance. Feeding you is a pain, waste of my money, but I kept you to keep your mom. She was sexy.” He paused and hiccupped. “She should have had that abortion.”

This was the last straw for James. The cold comments, the nastiness, the vindictive heart. The teen threw on a pair of shoes, snatched his wallet and headed out the front door. The cold was more inviting than the evil nature of his dad.

NIGHTFALL-DECEMBER 25, 2017

Water splashed the unsuspecting victim. After a few deep breaths, he gazed upon his abductor holding the wooden bucket. Norman was chained to a large, rock wall.

Krampus smiled and held the kid’s cheeks tightly. “Hello, Norman.” Norman became pale. “Let me go! Now!”

Walking to a large table sitting beside the tied-up child, he read. “My boss tells me you’ve been quite naughty in school.” He squirmed like all the other children had tried, he tried screaming loud as well. Looking around the lair, he saw the mutilated bodies of nasty children. The demon gave him a firm slap in the face. “Shut the hell up! Where was I?” He sighed deeply, eyeing the list again. “I hear you dumped one of your classmates in the toilet at school? I also hear you made fun of a kid with autism on your way home from school.”

Norman’s heart raced, and deep down he knew all of this to be true. “I didn’t do any of that! That was my friend, Kevin! Please! Stop! Let me go!” The demon laughed. “You don’t even know a Kevin! You DARE lie to me? You piece of shit! I’ve been doing this for a long time. Just like Santa, I’m good at my job.” Terror grew inside Norman, but he kept talking. “Get Santa here! I bet he’d hate what you’re doing!” The creature grabbed Norman’s throat. “We’re partners!”

Norman gasped for air, Krampus kept hold for a moment. “As much as I’d love to disembowel you, Santa told me to give you a second chance.” Letting go, he glanced back at the tied victim coughing violently.

Norman almost felt a ping of relief, that maybe he’d get off with just a verbal warning. That is until the demon grabbed a large hammer from his sack. Norman felt the worst pain he ever had in his life, he knees shattered, the sound of the deep crack echoed through the lair. “A token to remember me by, Norman. May my face haunt your nightmares as you lie in your hospital bed.”

Walking through the dark town, snow began to fall, and the wind became cold. James crossed his arms as the chill began to get to his bones. Glancing at houses, he admired the various decorations. Reindeer, snowmen and red and green lights wrapped around bushes and small trees.How desperately he wanted to knock on a door and be automatically invited in by a happy family. To have cookies and sit by a fireplace and talk of kindness and sing Christmas carols. Not one gift was given to him and he certainly didn’t expect anything. With his mind clouded by hopelessness, James walked down the cold sidewalk leading to a bar, hoping to find warmth.

As Christmas carols came from the radio, James sat at the long table where a few other customers sat. He wasn’t nearly old enough to drink, he got himself a hot chocolate. The bartender also grabbed him a warm blanket to wrap his shoulders around. The little act of kindness made James smile just a tiny bit, ‘a little kindness can go along way’ he thought to himself.

Out from the corner of his eye, sitting in far away from everyone else, he saw someone shrouded in darkness. Someone that everyone seemed to stay away from. Drinking Schnapps and looking straight into a wall, the man was obviously huge. Something about him was also sort of fascinating to James. Never had he seen someone so tall. Shrugging his shoulders, he sat in silence for a bit.

As the night went on, James sighed sadly and paid the bartender, it was time for him to go back to his awful life with his drunken dad. Another Christmas full of verbal abuse and darkness.

He turned to leave, then found himself bumping into a soft, fluffy wall of some sort. He staggered back and looked up to see the man he bumped into. His heart leapt into his throat as he eyed the man’s hoofed feet and all the way up to his devilish and goat like face. Krampus slowly turned to meet the young man’s terrified gaze. “Sorry sir.” His voice shaking, afraid that the demon would lash out at him and rip his heart out or something to the affect.

He merely nodded. He recognized the boy. Norman was his bully in school, and it was no surprise to the demon. Finishing his drink, he spoke. “Go home, James. I have no qualm with you.” Backing away, James’ voice shook. “Wait. You’re…Mr. Krampus. Aren’t you?” The tales of the demon were always spread, and James found the creature to be fascinating. He had met Santa a few times, of course, Santa probably gave him gifts but his dad most likely threw them out before James even knew they were there. Krampus handed James a small, wrapped package. He then turned to leave, James followed behind him as he pocketed the small item.

Krampus went to his vehicle, not a sleigh like his boss had, but a black, rickety old van Santa had gotten it from his wife to keep incognito, now it belonged to his assistant.

James watched him approach the driver’s side door and then walked in the opposite direction, shivering as the snow fell heavier and his pajamas became wet. “Come here,” Krampus said, sounding as kind as he possibly could, but in all honesty, he still sounded like he could decapitate someone in an instant.

Walking up to him, James craned his head up. “Yes, sir?” “Let me take you home.” James coughed a bit. “I can walk home. Thank you though.” The demon turned to get into his vehicle. Then, the wheels in James’ brain started. Maybe he could help with his dad’s drinking problem? He was quite big and scary looking. Maybe no one would pick on him if they knew he hung out with the Christmas demon himself? According to legend, Krampus wouldn’t hurt someone who did nothing wrong, and if he WAS on Krampus’ list, James figured he would already be in agony. He then spoke hastily. “Sir? Thanks.” He then went to the passenger side.

As he drove, the demon lit a cigarette and puffed. The back of the van was full of torture devices and dry blood stained the floor. The windshield wipers scrapped off the falling snow, the sound of the engine droned. The smell of alcohol and smoke filled his nostrils.

James kept his eyes to the ground, afraid of annoying Krampus. He did get a close look at the creature, while most kids wouldn’t live to tell the tale.

His body toned, which only added to his menace. His movements so swift and large. James really couldn’t keep his eyes off the driver, he was like nothing he had ever seen and scarier than his imagination could conjure up. This all felt like some odd dream, but deep down James knew that somehow he was sitting next to a legendary creature. A tad bit of glee filled his soul, feeling special for once in his life.

After unbuckling his seat belt, Krampus spoke. “Merry Christmas.” James smiled nervously “You to, sir.” He nodded and got out of the van, he would never forget this night. The van’s headlights turned down and stayed parked. Krampus sighed tiredly and leaned back. Exhaustion hit him like a brick. He hated working two nights, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He was about to light another cigarette, until his ear perked as he heard the sound of screaming from inside James’ home.

Mike held James’ shoulders firmly, hitting him a few times. “How DARE you leave this house WITHOUT me!” His drunken speech slurred even more than before. Shaking in fear, James squirmed out of his grasp and stepped on his dad’s foot. Clenching his fist, James spoke in a cold tone. “Leave me alone!” Getting shoved to the floor, James wiped his tears of terror as Mike loomed over him. The eerie sounds of crying and heavy breathing were broken by the sound of the front door smashing open, a huge gust of wind blew through the house as Krampus stood in the doorway, taking a long puff of his smoke. James knew he would see the side of Krampus not many got to see and live to tell the tale.

He ran into a nearby closet, peeking through slightly as Mike turned to face the demon who was much taller than him. James took deep breaths attempting to ease his oncoming panic attack. Mike glared at him. “Get the hell out of my house!” He attempted to shove Krampus, but it was no use. “Is that how you treat your family? Especially Christmas Day? You spineless alcoholic.” The demon kicks Mike in the groin as he falls and screams in pain, then swiftly grabs his chain. It quickly wrapped around him. His arms and legs no longer useable. Krampus loomed over him with a devilish smile. “LET ME GO!” Mike yelled as he sweat and turned his face away from his attacker. Krampus knelt on top of him, his pointed knees going right into his fat gut. “I have heard enough screaming for one night.” Krampus took two clawed fingers and jammed them into Mike’s mouth, pulling at his tongue until it stretched. “Naughty.” James turned away as he knew Mike’s tongue was no longer in his mouth, but on the floor.

 

DECEMBER 25- ELEVEN O’ CLOCK AT NIGHT

 

Krampus deeply sighed, closing the door to Santa’s home which he was welcome to anytime if he got his jobs done. Removing his sack and hanging it up, he rubbed his eyes and removed his hood. The large house decorated with care and cheer, every corner something Christmas or Holiday related stood. He went to the fridge to grab himself a beer and sits at the kitchen table.

The door opened, unblinking, he knew it was Santa Claus. The jolly fat man entered the kitchen, his beard bushy white, he wore glasses which had golden rims. He smelt of cookies, he hummed as he hung his jacket up. He looked to his assistant. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas, Krampus!” He pats his shoulder firmly. “Fuck you.” Krampus spits to him, knowing it annoyed Santa to hear such profanity. Santa rolled his eyes, he let Krampus get away with a lot since he really helped in the long run.

He spoke as he sits across from the demon. “I saw how nicely you treated James. I was really proud of you for that.” Krampus nodded slowly and sipped from his drink. “Good. I’m going to bed.” Santa placed a gift in front of where Krampus sat, Santa then heads outside to put his reindeer away.

 

Krampus eyed the gift, took it upstairs and goes to the large bedroom where he spent most of his time when the holidays weren’t upon him. In his room is where he kept little gifts he would give to good kids if he happened to see them, metal chains also hang from the ceiling. From downstairs, he heard the song Silver Bells playing. Flopping on the bed in a very revealing position, he closed his eyes as the sound of the cold winter wind and reminiscing the sounds of screaming children lulled him to sleep.

James sits on the front curb of his home, waiting for police officers to arrive at a gruesome scene. He opened the package given to him by the one who changed his life, it was a card with writing on the inside. The front of the card blank. Inside was a packet of M&Ms.

“I see you when you’re sleeping, I know when you’re awake.”  

-Krampus

 

END.

BUCK: DARKNESS FOLLOWS

PLOT: Stetson is a deer who may look like a towering, toned behemoth who could easily rival Rambo, but his personality is not that of a macho guy. In reality, he is typically laid back he spends his days moving from town to town, meeting new people and getting odd jobs, never causing trouble for anyone. By night, his priority is to get hunters and abusers to turn the other cheek and get rid of their life of crime and evil. The reason? He never really gets into it, but his past is also covered in violence and a lot of heartbreak.

In steps a human named James, a guy in his twenties who is the owner of a hotel. He has an adopted sister, a yellow lab named Scarlet who is the sunshine of his life. Sadly, darkness will strike James-and with Stetson in town, scores have a good chance of being settled, the buck will soon learn that life doesn’t seem to give him much of a break.


 

 

NOTE: This story is a supplement to my feature length animated screenplay entitled “Buck”. Stetson’s sorted past is the feature film script-however I will drop little hints here and there in this short so I hope the reader isn’t too left in the dark.

Thanks and enjoy!

-Aaron

 



CHAPTER 1

 

Snow whipped violently through the air, the sound of heavy wind could easily be heard. The blizzard would not come and go quickly, the frigid weather was here to stay. The sky is a pinkish color, the sun just about to set to end another day.

A silver Ford truck pulls into a one-story home, located in the back woods. The headlights dimmed, a frumpy male with a beard and wearing an orange hunting vest and camouflage pants, stepped out of the driver’s side. He finished the bottle of beer he was drinking on the drive home and tossed it to the ground with a light belch.

The snowflakes so heavy, he couldn’t look straight ahead, his head faces the ground, the snow seeped into his boots as he walked closer to his house. He didn’t bother to take the carcass of a freshly shot anthro off the top of his truck, a five-foot-tall squirrel wearing a sweater and slacks, dripping with blood and a permanent gaze of terror.

Wind kicked up even harder, causing the human to shiver as his skin began to turn pink, he hurried into his warm home, the lock to his cabin door was oddly broken, but had been since this morning and he’d find time tomorrow to get it fixed.

His house completely dark, he flicks on the light to the living room, which held a fireplace, a small TV and a couch. Scattered on the floor were illegal hunting magazines for hunting furries he had purchased from various websites.

The hunter removed his jacket and vest, pulling out his wallet which had his name, Samuel imprinted upon the leather. Sam unlaces his boots and makes his way to the couch.

Before sitting down, he removed the pistol from his holster and put it in the locked safe by the front door. He sat in front of the TV with a macho grunt.  The glass on his windows creaked a bit as the blizzard now was in full force, he turned the television on to a news station.

Sam suddenly felt two pairs of hands grip his shoulders, he yelped and attempted to stand and swing at the attacker, but the pressure only got harder as he moved, he knew any more pressure would surly cause some damage if indeed the unknown threat was stronger, Sam’s breathing got heavy and his heart pounded in his chest as a voice spoke in his ear. “Stop moving and I’ll let go. I only want to talk. You don’t attack me, I won’t attack you. That’s a promise.” Sam yelled in frustration, as he cocked his head to one side, he saw who the muscular behemoth was, his shoulders broad, his arms the size of a bodybuilder, his height exactly 6’5, Sam sighed deeply, terror struck his brain and heart, never had he seen an anthro so tall, neither did he ever feel threatened by one either. His presence was a commanding one, the human could do nothing but nod.

The buck made his way around the couch, the sound of his hiking boots stomping on the ground a bit intimidating. He sat on the ottoman in front of the couch, even as he sat, Sam felt like he was being looked down upon by someone much bigger than he. From his unzipped green fishing vest, the mysterious deer pulled out his cellphone and showed Sam a photo of his own truck, with the carcass of the squirrel tied to the roof, a lump formed in the hunter’s throat as Stetson spoke again in his deep Southern accent. “Hunting anthros is illegal, but you knew that, correct?” Sam nods, looking him over. His muscles and six pack could be seen through his black t-shirt, around his faded jeans, a holster with a pistol which Stetson had his hand around, Sam swallowed hard. “Tell you what Sam, your hunting days are over, that’s a fact. The families you’ve ruined, the poor anthros, there kids and families torn apart by your actions. The fact you’ve done what you have for so long without a moment’s thought that maybe it’s wrong. It ends here. It ends now.”

He made his voice sound so evil that he himself could be passed as a deranged serial killer-maybe he was for all Sam knew. The hunter’s voice shivered. “Please, don’t kill me. I can change. Really!” Not moving his hand from the gun, he leaned forward, Stetson smirked. “I’m counting on that. Get a real job, clean up your act, become a productive member of society. No one will forgive you for what you’ve done, especially not me. You get one chance. You mess up? I’m coming back and won’t be so nice. Got it?”

He stood up and narrowed his eyes. “Yes sir! Yes! Don’t hurt me!” No matter who the perpetrator, Stetson almost always let them go if they indeed promised to never hurt anyone again. This was not the first time a wrongdoer had seen the likes of Stetson, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

The buff anthro exited the home throwing on his black leather jacket and brown winter gloves, the wind biting cold as it seemed to seep into his face. He walked to the left side of the house, where his green hummer was secretly parked. He had waited hours for Sam to come home, he hoped it had paid off and that maybe the hunting would be over.

The sound of crunching snow caused Stetson’s ear to twitch, turning around completely, he was met with Sam, wielding a small ax raised above his head and running full force into him. Stetson lost his footing on a sheet of ice as the enraged human smashed into him, he landed hard on his back with a grunt. It seemed the hunter had the upper hand. Sam swung the ax downward nearly missing his head, pinning the deer to the cold surface. Stetson gave a swift knee hit to Sam’s gut, slowing him down for a moment. Sam still could get a slice in and took the swing, the ax slices through the anthro’s arm, a bit of blood splatters onto the white snow below them. Luckily no bone showed, it seemed to be just a nasty cut. Stetson used his arms to wiggle out from Sam’s grasp and kick him straight in the face, shattering his nose and causing it to break.

He howled in pain as the ax flew from hand, Stetson slowly stood up, his arm began to sting in horrible pain. He looked down at the bearded, overweight man whose face was smothered in red fluid and smashed teeth, groaning loudly. “Fuck you. You’re meant to be hunted! HUNTED! Hear me?! LEAVE ME or DIE!” With a swift movement, the deer yanked his pistol out and shot Sam in the head once, a mist of blood was the last thing he ever saw. The gunshot echoed through the night, the buck holstered it and took deep, tired breaths. Bending down slightly, he realized his jacket was partly ripped and spurts of blood continued to show themselves, he sniffled, his nose feeling stiff from the frigid weather and hopped into his hummer, turning it on and letting he heat envelop the inside.

The hospital was too far from where he was, he didn’t feel like traveling an hour as the pain grew and grew, driving in the miserable weather with a bleeding wound on his arm just put Stetson is an edgy mood. As the snow whipped through the air and the windshield wipers went back and forth making a squeaky sound against the windshield, his mind wondered a bit to his past, as it often did. No cars were on the road, so really, he could be with his own thoughts.

Two years ago, he had committed acts of violence due to an event in his life, and swore he would only do so once, but now he seemed to have branched off. In his eyes, why leave anyone else hurt or killed? Stetson suffered such a terrible fate, it’s sad to think others could suffer something similar, that fact alone is what made the deer push forward. To at least confront evil doers and see if he could set them on the right path to a new job, or at the very least make them stop what they were doing for good. It was dangerous, but worth it. That was his logic and it probably wouldn’t change.

Now, he wanted to relax and maybe get his arm fixed and perhaps find a place to stay being that he had slept in his vehicle for two days, he turned on the radio to get his mind off the pain a bit, the woman on the station communicated in a monotone. “As a human, I do wish the best for anthros, but I do think we should be separated. We’re just too different to be co-existing.” A male then responded. “I think you’re wrong, humans and anthros co-existing is the best thing to ever happen. Think about it, we help each other. Unwanted anthros live with human families, friendships are made. I can’t help but think it’s a racial thing with you.” Stetson turned the radio off, he had found his destination.

 

Sam’s body lied in front of his house, gathering snow. The carcass on his truck beginning to freeze over. A pair of headlights shined over the bloody mess, a silver jeep rolled its way to the scene of the crime.

Out steps a beagle, in his mid-thirties wearing overalls, slender but in good health. He gasped slightly as he saw his friend Sam, with half of his face blown off. He had heard tales of hunters turning up dead, and he would take no chances. With a sigh, the beagle reached into his back pocket, pulled out his cellphone and angrily dialed a number. “Hey, it’s Lance. You won’t believe it. Sam’s dead, shot in the face. I talked to him was yesterday and I knew he was going hunting on his own.” He paused, letting the person on the other end speak. “Don’t put this shit on me!” Lance briskly walked to his jeep and slammed the door. “I don’t know who did it, but whoever it is, is gonna get an ass whooping. I’m coming over there, you got the gang over?” With a huff he tossed his phone to the ground, reached into the back seat and pulled out a bottle scotch and chugged it, alcohol calmed him, it was his antidote for any given situation. In-between sips, all he did was look at Sam’s half frozen body, the spots of blood being slowly covered by snow. He leaned back in his chair, collecting his thoughts. He knew seeing his hunting friends would help. Lance had relied on them for all his life, even as a teenager. A plan would be formed and executed. Vengeance would be initiated.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Soft music played at Stetson made his way to the hotel, anthros and humans of all shapes and sizes sat at various tables, calmly talking, laughing or making out in the bathroom.

After checking in at the front desk, the first thing Stetson did was approach the young man who seemed to run the restaurant in the lobby. He wore a white dress shirt, vest and slacks. Not bad looking for a human as far Stetson was concerned-and he had met a lot of them. The deer looked down to make eye contact with him, the human spoke with a smile, his brown hair quite short and his blue eyes very kind. “Just you tonight? Table for one?” Stetson nodded as the 21 year old waiter grabbed a menu and led him to a booth in the corner. “You gotta bathroom near by?” Stetson asked with kindness, but a sense of urgency. The waiter nodded.

The bathroom was empty, the deer removed his jacket and gloves and dusted any excess snow off. He looked at himself in the mirror, from his vest pocket he grabbed a sewing kit and turned on the sink. The water stung his wound as he cupped warm water in his palm and began dousing the wound, he took deep breaths and became quite tense as the blood flowed down the drain, making the fresh wound more visible. Stetson held his breath as he began work on sewing. He was good at keeping his wounds fixed, he had read enough medical books and had a steady hand.

With a REDD’s Apple Ale placed in front of him and a fresh bandage wrapped around his arm, Stetson watched the other patrons chat among themselves. He hadn’t touched a drink in a while, and rarely did consume alcohol, he liked all his mental facilities at 100% but he needed something to help him with his nerves and slightly rough night. REDD’s and Mike’s Hard Lemonade were the only kind of alcohol, he liked every flavor, from apple, to strawberry, but orange was his favorite. He’d try new things, but stuck to his favorites when he wasn’t feeling adventurous.

A female yellow lab approached him, dressed in a black tank top and grey jeans, a slender body and an energetic presence. “Can I get you anything to eat?” she spoke in a genuinely happy tone, to be fair-Stetson had never met a lab who didn’t have something happy or nice to say. Her name tag read Scarlet. With a smirk, he ordered veggie soup to try and warm up from the blizzard he had just gotten out of. James and Scarlet seemed to interact a lot, like they knew each other very well.

This hotel looked like it made good business for the simple fact it was not a popular name and it certainly was not a five-star fancy place, James and Scarlet were the only two running the place this night, it was a small building where anyone could go and get a good night’s rest, enjoy the bar / restaurant on the first floor and maybe go swimming in the decent sized pool outback.

Stetson tipped both James and Scarlett and got himself a room for a week, he fell asleep, not even looking at the room for a second, not even bothering to remove his clothing, he flopped on top of the covers and took a deep breath.

 

Lance the beagle entered his apartment building, once he opened the front door and gazed at the messy couch and unmade bed, three other figures spoke. These three were Lance’s friends, a pink pig named Hoss who was about 100 pounds overweight and mean as an abusive drunk if something struck him wrong. The other two pals were male humans, a little over five feet tall, with bushy beards and bad manners. When Lance was not around, Hoss was the boss-and no one dared argue that fact. Those who went up against Hoss ended up in a month-long coma-and those were the lucky ones.

* * *

Lance said not a word as he sat on the hole filled recliner across from the trio. Sam was a member of their hunting gang, he talked the most, he had the most knowledge on anthros. He would be missed.

Hoss lit a cigar and puffed at it a few times, then crossed his arms. “Lance, you can’t just sit there and say nothing. We need a direction.” Hoss’ only friends were the hunting buddies, Sam’s death would never be forgotten by the pig. Lance glanced at his friends with saddened eyes and soft tone. “We wait until cops go over everything, surly whoever did this must have left some evidence.” Hoss coughed. “We wait? Sounds like you have no plan.” His blunt observations never ceased to have a crude tone, but he was respected and the most amazing fighter and the craziest (but best) driver. The beagle crossed his legs. “You guys ever hear of Stetson?” He glanced to the three.

All of them nodded, Hoss smiled a bit and spoke out of the side of his mouth, letting the cigar kill his lungs. “Yeah, that deer who slaughtered hunters a year or two ago? Think he’s behind this?” One of the humans, Jerry spoke-he always wore a camo baseball cap. “Could be, we’d have to figure out where he was-but I wouldn’t be shocked. I bet if he did it, he’ll come after us too.” Lance’s ears perked. “Maybe he’ll come to us? I mean, whether he killed Sam or not wouldn’t really matter, would it? If we could kill that buck-we’d be heroes. Hunters, human and anthro fear that son of a bitch.” The pig took a long puff, then tossed his cigar out. “I never feared that jackass. I could break his neck and shove those antlers up his ass.” Mike, the other bushy bearded hunter chuckled. “Hoss, I think you could kill anyone-he’d be a goner if you got a hold of him.”

He looked down at the two humans, at a little under 7 feet and arms the size of sledgehammers and a gravely deep voice that would make the most diehard horror fan crap their pants, not much could intimidate him. Even though they sort of knew Hoss wouldn’t kill them, just the mere size and scale of him was enough to send each of them into a slight shiver frenzy. The pig’s ears perked as he grabbed the keys to his white van parked right by Lance’s truck, he gestured Mike and Jerry over, they obeyed like two frightened kids who just got into trouble. “Tell you what Lance, I’ll do some digging and you get some rest. This little piggie is pissed off.”

* * *

James and Scarlett slept in separate rooms in a single-story home right next to the hotel they worked at, the two had quite a busy night-but James did not sleep so easily, even after he was in his pajamas and lying in the covers of his large bed. The time was 5AM. He often had trouble sleeping, his brain never really stopped.

Stetson hung his clothing up in the closet-he only brought one outfit with him, the clothes he wore on his back. He washed them nightly. If the outfit got ripped or tattered (that had happened once to him when a fight got way out of hand) he’d buy identical clothing (or as close as he could get) Never changing anything for something different. He found that this outfit was the most comfortable and durable, he had his hiking boots for years as well. His jacket was very heavy and worked well when the winter storms kicked up.

Of course, he would rent a suit if he needed to, but he probably only wore a suit twice in his life, if that. The deer liked to keep things as simple as possible, and bringing loads of stuff with him while traveling was just inconvenient. Everything from his outfit, to his guns all fit in one huge suit case. He left the suit case in the back of his hummer, less to carry, plus a shotgun was not easy to hide in a place full of security cameras. He carried a gun license, but even if he could bring his shotgun in-he wouldn’t. Someone could get a hold of it and go on a killing spree. The only weapon he carried with him in any public area, was his hunting knife, concealed in his boot. He put a fresh bandage on his arm, admiring the stich work he had done.

The hotel room was a bit bigger than he needed it to be, complete with a large TV, an outdoor patio, looking over the balcony and into the city below. A small fridge in one corner as well. He usually stayed in cabins or slept in his own vehicle, so this was an awesome change. He placed his knife in the drawer by his bed and decided to watch TV for a bit-his favorite sport was on. Golf. As he stared at the screen, his mind went to the fact that maybe his life was going to settle down.

A year ago, he was on death’s door a few times, and while he still dished out his words to various people who needed them, maybe his life would settle. No. It wouldn’t. He just killed a man, granted in self-defense, but any cop who looked over Sam’s death would know the deer had broken into his house. Did he regret doing what he was doing? Maybe after the incident which left his heart broken, he should have left things alone instead of going after the hunters who ruined his life? Did going after hunters really make him feel better? Perhaps not, but in his head, in the long run it did a lot of good. It’s no secret that furries are suppressed by humans and even members of their own species going after them for money or just pure enjoyment. He began to doze off, not knowing of the dark times ahead.

* * *

Still in his boxers after sleeping, Hoss did some searching on his old laptop and made a few phone calls to various locations, asking about a white-tailed deer, there weren’t many in the town.

The large warehouse where he sat was home base, where weapons for his hunting hobby were kept neatly in wooden boxes. Bright lights hang from the ceiling, a separate bedroom is in one corner, in the bedroom are snacks and other life needs. The floor is a smooth concrete and on some of the walls, the bodies of those he had shot. The pig had a lot of human carcasses chained up proudly, he wiped them down weekly so the stench did not get too overbearing, plus it stroked his evil ego a bit to look into the pale faces of those he had out witted.

After hours of searching Stetson’s name in news articles and social media all night, he did come up with some interesting facts.

He phoned Lance. “I called a hotel not too far from here, they’re open. Front desk guy, James was reluctant to say much, so that made everything hard. Cops said whoever committed the murder of Sam fled the scene not too long ago after finding fresh tire marks in the snow. Looking on a few maps, Stetson’s house is miles and miles back in another direction, and I looked through phone books, his name is not anywhere. Newspapers said he travels from town-to-town, but I’d say we should look at the hotel, would make sense for him to make a pitstop there-the next town over is a long drive as well. He’s probably planning on moving again, maybe he checked in under a fake name? We don’t want to leave anything up to chance. I also want to get him before the K9 units do. I’ll get the van and gather Jerry and Mike. We can be there in an hour if we hurry. If he’s not there, I’m sure James would make a fun victim-I need to hunt again anyway.”

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Getting his clothes out of the dryer, Stetson contently went down to the breakfast bar, which was in the front lobby. This time, James and Scarlet were not working. Sitting at tables covered in white cloth, were the same groups from the bar last night. the large tables in corners were set up-they had cereal, orange juice, oatmeal and just about every type of coffee, donut and muffin imaginable.

With his breakfast, the deer sat at a lone table, his coffee steaming as he put some cream and a sugar supplement inside. Females looked at Stetson’s large arms, antlers and incredible height, they thought they were being sneaky-the deer knew what they thought and was flattered, but ultimately relationships were extremely low on his list.

James sat across from the new guest. “Mind if I sit here?” “Go ahead, kid.” James had a bowl of cereal and orange juice by him, he still wore his pajamas and looked like he had just crawled out of bed, he sniffled and his voice a bit low and soft since he had just woken up. “I felt bad you were by yourself, sir.” Sipping his coffee and looking at the small crowds, Stetson spoke. “No need to call me ‘sir’. Stetson is just fine. I guess I can be a bit shy.” The human took a bite of his food. “Shy? You don’t seem, well like the type. Hope I don’t offend.” As Stetson spoke, he began eating a few fruits from his assorted bowl he had made up. “Nah, I know what you mean. Big muscular guy, shy? It does seem odd. I guess my past caught up with me and I sometimes have trouble fitting in. Can’t ever judge a book by its cover. You and Scarlet working tonight?” “Yeah, we get mornings off typically.” Stetson smirked. He liked that someone his age was so engaged with face-to-face conversation and his face wasn’t plastered into his cellphone.

Scarlet snuck up behind James and scared him with a slight ‘boo!’ The lab sat next to James. “Why do you scare me, sis?” “Awe! I’m sorry!” she said in a sarcastic tone, of course the love beneath this teasing was undeniable. She licked the human’s cheek, then turned to Stetson. “Morning Stetson!” He waved and sipped his coffee. Stetson was good at making small talk, and he did. Making little jokes and such, he seemed to be extremely laid back.

Quiet chatter filled the lobby, the deer’s ears perked as he paid attention to every little sound. Scarlet is dressed in a black tank top, ripped black jeans and black punk rock boots-a typical outfit she felt comfortable in, but also felt matched her calm and cool personality.

Stetson noticed that James’ sister was quite protective of him, the two obviously had quite a history. Just the way she would look at him and her tone of voice read that she had a very nurturing attitude. Once she was done speaking, she left to go sit a few feet from the breakfast area and put in some headphones. “So, Stetson, why do you have that scar? When you came in last night, I wanted to ask about it, but wasn’t sure how you’d react.” Stetson poured another cup of coffee as he spoke. “Met someone who didn’t appreciate what I was telling him. I run into jerks now and again.” The young man eyed the buck. “Was it that bad? A simple disagreement?” “You could say that-but I guess simple isn’t the word I’d use. Look, uh-if you wanna have lunch later or something, we totally can. If you’re not busy. I got nothing going on really.” The human nodded happily. Scarlet was listening to the deer from afar, she loved his deep southern accent, it sounded sexy and stuck out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else. As a dog, she could narrow in one sound and concentrate on it, and she was glad to have him calm voice in her ear as she turned her loud rock music down.

Parked next to Stetson’s hummer-a white Ford truck. Two bearded humans stepped out, wearing black bullet proof vests under flannel shirts. Hoss and his men had done their research, and by talking to another desk person on the phone, Stetson was surly there. Revenge was not far, it was right on the tips of their fingers and they were proud of it. Each of them held machine guns in large guitar cases. Hunting for a deer would be easy and a nice thrill for the two. Maybe they could even kill more anthros in the lobby and get some extra ego points.

The sun shined over the hotel, the sky blue and very little snow was on the ground. The large parking lot filled with cars of all shapes and sizes. Neither of the two humans, Jerry or Mike said a word as they approached the doors to the hotel, looked over the crowd and both entered the bathroom to prepare.

Urinals and stalls surrounded them, the floor tiled, the two were as quiet, but quick as possible. Not a single person was in there.   They quickly took their weapons out, their hearts thudding in their chests. Never had they done something so big. The men loaded their weapons-after they busted down the door, time seemed to move in slow motion, bullets flew.

The screams deafening, the gun shots even louder. The deer swiftly stands and shoved James to the ground, bullets nearly missing him. The entire breakfast bar and windows behind the set up broke and crashed. James hid under a table, dead anthros covered the lobby, covered in dark red blood and mangled fur. The walls were covered in red fluid and bullet holes, crying could be heard throughout the room.

Stetson slowed his breathing down, James cowered. From his boot, Stetson grabbed his hunting knife and threw it in the air, it spun swiftly, hitting Mike in the chest unexpectedly, he gasped for air and flops backwards. Jerry meanwhile hid behind a desk loading his machine gun, which stood to the left side of the lobby. He knew Stetson wasn’t far from him.

Peeking his upper body over the desk, he began to fire rounds, like a soldier in war, Stetson went down on his stomach and crawled towards Mike’s weapon, the bullets whizzed by his head, like short bursts of wind. Staying low, he pulled the shotgun from Mike’s dead hand and shot near Jerry. He ducked under the desk. The deer stood up and loaded the weapon, aiming it precisely at the front desk. He held his breath and peeked over the desk, no human.

A shiver went through his body as he walked around the destroyed lobby. He looked to James who was shaking under the table. “Don’t move. I’m not leaving you.” The young man blocked his ears and nodded. The room went eerily silent, Stetson stepped over shattered glass and broken plates. His ear twitched, he felt Jerry behind him, he swiftly turned and shot once into his face, causing a stream of blood to fly as he fell to the side. The deer knelt by the body and picked up his driver’s license to get some information. On the back of the license, an address was handwritten-where was this address and what did it have to do with the shooting? James ran to Scarlet, who was not moving.

 

THREE DAYS LATER

 

She was dead. The dog who entered his family and had been with him for years as his sister, now gone by two random gun men. It seemed like a terrible nightmare, so very sudden. Stetson was now his life line. Not that he didn’t have friends, but there was something about the deer that pulled him like a magnet. Was it his personality? Maybe, he was never rude and wasn’t as noisy as most of the hotel guests, but also was great in conversation when the appropriate time came.

James’ home seemed so quiet, the sound of a ticking clock was the only ambience, besides maybe a passing car or two. Usually his sister would be talking his ear off, or they’d be going to the mall. The emptiness in his soul, was nearly deafening.

A knock on the door interrupted his depressed silence, James let Stetson in, he was a bit surprised to the buck standing in the door frame, his ears down and his overall mood seemed quite affected by Scarlet’s death. “Holding up okay, James?” The young man nodded and gestured him in. His house was one floor, two bed rooms, all the usual items and rooms were there to make a modest home.

Stetson crossed his huge arms and looked to James sorrowfully. “If you need anything, please let me know.” “I want the people responsible dead, Stetson.” With a perk of his ears, Stetson leaned against the nearest wall. He knew this type of anger all too well. He had gone through it a few years ago. “James, this is bigger than I thought. I did some research and, it looks like a guy named Hoss set it up. I’ve heard of him, he’s a mean, nasty anthro who tortures humans for food and pleasure. I can’t rightfully let you go through with digging deeper.”

The two went into the kitchen, James and Stetson each held cups of coffee after a few moments of silence. “I want to see him die. You don’t know how much my sister meant to me, you know how sweet she was. Please. Stetson. If I don’t do this, I’ll never sleep, I’ll never feel satisfied.” Stetson sipped his drink and cleared his throat, James looked at him with pleading eyes.

If Stetson was being truthful, he felt bad. He felt maybe this human should get some closure. Typically, he never let anyone on his dark escapades killing those who he felt deserved it, but losing a family member was something he knew all too well about. If he took James with him, what if something were to happen? Talk about guilt-this human was innocent and probably his first violent scene was the shootout, which left him petrified for hours. Interrupting his train of thought, James approached the deer. “Please Stetson. Let me come with you. I know you’ll look into this deeper. I saw that scar on your arm, you don’t let things slide, do you?” The deer was a lot of things, but not a liar. “No. I don’t let things go easily. Which is why I can’t have you with me. I do things, things that only I should know about.” James took a deep breath. “I’m coming with you. This is destroying me, Stetson. Please. I’m begging you.” Unblinking, James turns his head up to look the buck directly in the face. Stetson nodded. This was the point of no return. He reacted to his gut instinct. Maybe James was right.

Hoss and Lance walk about a large warehouse. The large door locked behind them. Some humans are caged, some are out and used as slaves, carrying heavy cardboard boxes to huge rooms. Some cry and shake in terror and some simply do their work without complaining, they range from ages 20 to 40. As well as weak humans, anthros in camo and holding weapons, since these operations with harvesting humans was of course illegal and any police who entered needed to be dealt with. Select humans were also used as soldiers if they were deemed strong enough.

The beagle crossed his arms, looking at Hoss with a proud glare. “Hoss, you never told me you had this. This is amazing.” The pig smirks and leads him around the various rooms within this dark establishment. “What’s with the boxes?” “Weapons and crap, I’ll let you have a good amount of it. Good stuff for if Stetson decides to come marching in.”

Lance paused for a bit, leading Hoss to a corner. “Stetson? Isn’t he dead?” Hoss shrugged. “If my men succeeded, yes-but I’m not taking any chances. Would you? This guy is a killer, and he needs a taste of his own medicine. You’re with me, huh?” The beagle nodded slowly and adjusted his black t-shirt. “Always man. Just wait until we get a bigger place and start taking over more? Humans will be our workers and maybe we can take over.” The pig chuckled. “Now you’re talking. I should give my men a call, they should be heading back by now-damn it’s like watching toddlers.”

 

CHAPTER 4

 

The early morning sun rose, Stetson showered and hopped into the hummer once James was ready. The human wore a brown t-shirt and black faded jeans, he held a small suitcase. Taking a note from Stetson, he wore one single outfit and brought no more clothes. He yawned and rubbed his eyes a few times, but in reality his brain was going at full speed. Of course, the well of emptiness he felt for his sister wasn’t going to ever end. Scarlet was everything, she was the badass sister that kept James’ energy up and going, she’s the reason why he was probably able to gain the confidence to ask for a job at the hotel.

The vehicle rocked back and forth as the sound of the engine took up part of the ride, the roads became more abandoned as a few hours passed, Stetson did talk to James a bit, what to do if certain dangerous situations arise. The deer had a lot to think of as well, James was a good kid-but this was going to be new and dangerous territory.

 

DUSK

 

As he approached the destination, a bit of sand kicked up as he walked towards the RV. Why was there an address to a random address to a random RV in this guy’s wallet? Showing no fear, the deer approached the front door and tugged, but it was locked. Maybe something was in there, some evidence as to why that huge, but random shooting took place? A gun cocked behind him, the deer slowly turned. Thank goodness James was in the hummer if the owner of the RV decided to shoot him up. The hummer was parked about a half hour from the destination.

A female human stood a few feet from him, aiming a black shotgun at him. Her hair curly blonde, she looked about 40 and a tad bit out of shape, but she knew how to handle the gun. The wind blew, nothing was around but a few empty dirt roads and lots of sand. She spoke in a slightly gruff tone, not letting her guard down. “Who are you?” He put his hands up. “Stetson. I need to ask you some questions.” The air blew a bit, she lowered her shotgun. He didn’t seem to want to attack her, but still found his size a bit intimidating. She slowly nodded and invited him into her home.

The living space was quite small, a single bed, a few chairs, a dirty floor and a few windows with dead bugs stuck to the glass. Stetson sat down, he told her everything from what he did, to how he found her place. She sat silently and listened open mindedly. The deer looked into her eyes and spoke in the politest way he could. “Please Gloria, I just need to know why they were attacking us. If you’re friends with who you say you are, then I do need to know. We’re talking about lives here.” She nodded. “You ever hear of Hoss?” Stetson’s ears perked a bit as he sat up straighter and crossed his legs comfortably “Yeah. I mean, I’ve heard the name when I go to bars. Does he have something to do with the attack? I assumed he did, being that I did some research. Do you have specifics?” She nodded as she offered him a water. “Probably, he was my ex-husband. I know how his mind works. I knew some of his men very well, Lance was a beagle I knew quite well. Just as much of an asshole as Hoss was. I pretended to be friends with all his hunting buddies, only so that Hoss didn’t beat me for not treating his comrades with respect.” Stetson sipped his as his ears dropped. “I’m so sorry. Did he talk about killing humans or anything like that?” “All the time” she said sadly. “Really I was just a toy to him. Constant threatening and stuff.” He nods. She continued. “I also know something about a warehouse he had. Nothing more than that though.” He slipped her his cell number. “Call me anytime. Okay?” With a feeling of sorrow for her, he briskly walked off…

“What did you find out in there?” James asked as Stetson started the hummer and drove into the pink sky, the headlights on, the road long. “I’m going to get some info. You wait in the car. If I make a stop.” The human glanced to the deer a bit. “I want to come with you.” Stetson cleared his throat and looked ahead. “I don’t know kid.” James stared at him. “Stetson, please. You don’t know how much it pains me. I think about what happened every single day. It’s painful. I want to help you.” Stetson nodded. “I know. I can’t let you go to dangerous places yet. Do you even know how to shoot a gun?”

The human shook his head. The two were silent for a little while as the music from the radio filled the car. A certain comfort washed over the human as he looked at Stetson behind the wheel. He had the look of fearlessness, but also comfort. Almost fatherly. The deer jolted forward as a giant vehicle tailgated them. Stetson’s heart sank, he knew someone was after him.

A rush of adrenaline hits him as he reached over a very confused James and grabbed his pistol, driving with one hand. “Stay down James!” He cocked his head out the driver’s side window and saw the military vehicle, ramming into the hummer again. With a grunt, Stetson leaned out and fired a few bullets into the vehicle. Driving behind the wheel was a frumpy male with a bushy brown beard and hunting clothes.

He jerks the hummer to the right with a loud screech and drives on the sand beside the main road. The human kept his head low, his heart pounded in his chest as he heard the incredibly threatening noises right beside him. The ride soon became bumpy, the military jeep still followed. Sand kicked up everywhere. Stetson slowed his breathing, making sure his brain didn’t go into full panic mode, panicking would mean death for James. James was who he needed to keep safe. Stetson slammed on the gas, the engine became loud. His voice became a bit loud, he reached in the back and grabbed his double barrel shotgun. “James! Take the wheel and keep the hummer steady!” He removed his green vest and tossed it in the back of the hummer.

Without a second thought, he slipped into the driver’s side as Stetson hoists himself up on top of the roof of the speeding vehicle-thankfully James wasn’t a bad driver. James had Stetson’s life in his hands. He took rabid deep breaths.

Balancing on top of the hummer, the wind pushing his shirt up slightly, the deer aimed his shotgun at one of the tires of the jeep and fired. He missed. Sweat pours down his neck as he tries to steady his firing, a few bullets wiz right by him from the pistol the driver held. Stetson held his breath and fired the gun, with a loud blast and a giant pop sound followed, the jeep swerved out of control, going left and right in a zigzag pattern. James stopped the vehicle and the buck jumped off the roof, landing on his feet. He sighed heavily and wiped the dust off his clothing.

Stetson aimed the gun at the distressed driver. “Get out. Now.” His tone ice cold. The driver fired a few shots out his window, Stetson ducked swiftly and fired towards him, shattering the windshield. “Come on out!” Stetson angrily shouted.

The driver managed to sneak out of the driver’s side door and hide behind the broken jeep, Stetson went on his stomach and fired a hole through his foot. With a scream, the human fell to the ground, blood spewed from his foot, he knew death was upon him. Stetson turned to face him once he faced the angry driver. “What’s your name?” Through tears of pain, he uttered. “Ramsey! I’m gonna kill you!” Stetson knelt in front of him, he smiled a tiny bit. “I think the shoe is on the other foot.” His antlers also covered in specks of blood and dirt from the past few days of excitement. “Tell me everything you know about Lance and Hoss. You know them?” Ramsey nodded. “Yeah. All hunters know them, AND everyone knows you! You’re BIG money!” Stetson took Ramsey’s gun and tossed it to the side. The wind caused the sand to kick up, cars could be heard in the distance.

James watched from a distance as he hopped out of the hummer, but didn’t say a word. Stetson got directions to an old warehouse, where Hoss and Lance hang out. Ramsey shook with fear. Stetson looked to him in the face, holding his cheeks roughly. “You gonna hunt again?” The human shakes his head. “You gonna get a respectable job and quit hurting others?” He nods. “Good. Hope I don’t have to see you again Ramsey. Good luck.” Ramsey cried in terror as Stetson walked off.

The sun began to set as the two drove off yet again.

 

    NIGHT

 

Cuddling into a blanket in the back seat, James yawned and fell into a light sleep. The happiness he got from being with Stetson was odd. Someone he had only met a few days ago brought him so much comfort. He would guess that he always liked someone in control, someone with a good head on their shoulders. He liked the tough guys, the fighters.

The deer sat in the driver’s seat, he chewed on a toothpick as he leaned his chair back, he listened to James’ calm breathing. It was so weird to watch over someone again. Not just someone he rescued, but someone who connected with him. James woke up and went to the passenger side. “Hey Stetson. You okay?” Rarely did anyone ask this, the deer nodded. “Yup. You?” He nods as he gets a snack to munch on. “You have any family waiting for you?” Stetson sighed. “No. My wife divorced me and my daughter is no longer around.” Stetson sighed and rubbed his neck. James looked to him. “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me, if it makes you uncomfortable.” Stetson looked forward. He moved his position slightly. “My daughter was killed by a hunter when she was eight.” A long pause filled the hummer. Stetson never told anyone the entirety of events that took place a year ago and changed his life. “Hunter shot her. Long story short, I went into a deep fit of rage. I did some illegal things, rescued a human ironically enough and rest is history.”

James’ heart went into his throat. Turned out there was more to Stetson than he once thought. The deer continued. “I was going to stop after I did all the illegal stuff, but in this cruel world a lot of humans and anthros need help. I got the skills, so I figured why not help others? I know I’m not the only one who’s family has been ruined. It’s either find a purpose, or curl up in a ball and be depressed about everything.”  The human placed a hand on Stetson’s shoulder. “I bet your daughter is proud of you.” The deer sighed and smiled a bit. “Maybe. Get some sleep.” James sighed and hugged Stetson tightly. The two fell asleep as the sun rises and the grass turned wet with dew.

 

MORNING

 

With a groggy stretch, Stetson looked to his side to the sleeping human, wrapped like a cocoon in his blanket. As he drove towards the warehouse, he got to thinking what James’ life would be like. Would he have a wife and kids? Would he be single and lament the days without his sister? If only he could predict the future, but sadly he could only help him so much. Being a friend was okay, but he knew deep down that darkness would follow on this day.

The warehouse wasn’t far away. He wasn’t doing this for himself, he did it for James and the love he had for his sister. Revenge was Stetson’s first thought when he lost his daughter, but knowing what he did may have saved others’ lives made him feel a bit warm. All Stetson wanted to do was to show James that the evil would be over, that he wouldn’t have to think about the nasty pig who killed his sister. Perhaps his efforts wouldn’t go unpunished.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

The warehouse loomed over the hummer. James looked up at it almost in a dark awe. Winter air was beginning to form. The sand beneath them a dull grey color, like snow had fallen there the night before.

Stetson put on his leather jacket, brown gloves and loaded his shotgun. James sighed, clearly scared for his friend’s safety. “Stetson? Please let me go with you.” “No James. You stay here, I’ll leave the hummer running. If I’m not back in thirty minutes, you drive. You drive outta here and don’t look back for a second.” Upon saying those last words, the driver’s side window crashes with a loud bang. The chilly wind from outside pushed through the hummer, Stetson leapt onto the young man. He hands James a pistol and orders him to get out. The two ran at full speed, getting away from the hummer. The bullets from a sniper could be heard. The deer aims his shot gun forward as he shoots down a few guards outside, blood flies from their legs and they shout in pain. The human nearly becomes sick looking at the gunman lying in pools of their own blood and bone.

The back door to the warehouse is large and metal. Stetson sighs as he loads his shotgun. He pulls James back to the hummer, he starts the vehicle earnestly. “Stetson! What are you doing?” The deer drives a complete circle, ignoring James’ comment. At full speed, he slams into the backdoor of the huge building, the metal door splits in two as debris and smoke cover the inside of the building, the windshield cracked and the engine begins to sputter.

Before anyone has time to react, Stetson yanks James off his seat and runs him to a safe area.

Wooden crates cover the building, a tall ceiling with florescent lights hang. The sound of Stetson’s boots on the ground echo. Crouching behind one of the large crates, Stetson hears sounds of henchmen. James sweats with terror, his hands shake and his breathing becoming irregular. He kneels with his hero, goosebumps form on his skin. The thought of Hoss being here however, makes him want to stay and fight, Stetson’s breath is seen the weather only turns more bitter, the broken back door makes winter cold much more intense. “Stetson? Will we survive?” Footsteps become closer. “I think so kid. Stay down and only shoot if you have too.”

Coming out completely from cover, he eyes a lot of henchmen, all anthros and tall. Bullets fly and the loud bangs echo from across the walls.

A circle of about thirteen of them form around the deer as he fires bullets and aims his gun precisely, getting nicked a few times in the process, but shrugging off the pain. The shotgun fires, hitting some in the chest, causing them to fly backwards into the large crates with cringe worthy thuds. Another one shot in the face, which renders an unrecognizable bloody and muscle filled mess as Stetson’s shot gun bullet hits it. One wolf attempts to come up behind the deer with a knife, but he is hit in the stomach with the butt of the gun, a second later the barrel is aimed at his forehead and with a shot, his head explodes, splitting in two, causing blood to hit Stetson’s face. The deer removed his leather jacket, tossing it to the ground, beginning to sweat.

A few others are shot as they run out of hiding firing back and forth. With a deep breath, Stetson loads his gun, a puff of smoke covers the room, his arms ache, bodies litter the floor of the warehouse. Most are dead, some groan and vomit blood as they try to stand.

James runs to the deer, pale and shaking. “Are you okay?” He nods as he walks about the place, getting a better feel for it. His ears twitch as he hears sounds of crying and screaming, not from the gunman but from somewhere else. What other secrets was this place harboring? Past the crates, stands a red metal door, Stetson heads right for it, maneuvering his large body so he can cut through the narrow spaces between the crates

. Hoss comes out of the mysterious room at the end of the large building. Larger than life and smiling a bit. He smokes a cigar and crosses his arms. His height nearly matched Stetson, but much more overweight. The pig spoke as Stetson raised his shotgun, the red door directly behind him, piles of crates surround them. James stands behind the deer, Stetson glances to him. “Go. Now.” Hoss laughed a bit. “Stetson! You son of a bitch. It’s weird to even be talking to you. Your name has been plastered on newspapers and posters. Gosh, when I planned that whole hotel bit, I had no idea I’d land myself HERE. With you!”

He walked in a circle, James immediately hops behind a crate. Stetson turns, his barrel on him always. “You’re quite the killer-hunters fear you, all because your precious daughter got shot and you went on a little tirade. Well, I’m not scared.” Stetson placed the barrel of the gun to his chest, stopping him in his tracks. “You scared now?”
With lightning quick reflexes, the pig snatched the shotgun from his hands and snapped it with both arms, tearing at opposite ends. James gasped a bit as the pig lunged at the deer, knocking him to the ground. Stetson grunted as he felt a giant fist smash into his face and felt warm blood which seeped into his mouth. The buck jammed both of his thumbs into each eye socket of the pig, he yelled in pain. Another punch landed on Stetson’s face, nearly making him black out. Stetson slammed his foot into the pig’s crotch, he then threw a few right and left hooks. Hoss’ blood flew, his nose bubbled with snot and dark blood. Hoss slams Stetson’s head into the concrete ground, he yelped. Stetson has his hands around the pig’s throat like a vice. Squeezing. Hoss slams his head into Stetson’s, causing the deer’s ears to ring and stinging pain enter his cranium. Equally as fast as the pig, the deer gribs the hunting knife from his boot and slashes the pig once in the arm, a stream of blood flows and Stetson stands up, holding the knife in a fighting position. The pig yells.

Suddenly, a pistol is pressed against Hoss’ head. Stetson gasps a bit. He looks James in the eye.

“James. Don’t do this.” The human trembled, his eyes watered, his body sweat. The pig let go of his stinging arm which gushed loads of blood, not looking like he was going to hit the human, but glared. “YOU. You’re the reason my sister is dead. You sicko!” Hoss smiled. “You humans. So frail and emotional. Big tough Stetson helping you out? This isn’t the first revenge path he’s taken. You’re well on your way to becoming worse than he is human.” The deer wiped blood from his face and slapped the pig upside the head. “You touch him. You’re dead.” Hoss shoved Stetson, nearly making him fall backwards.

In a fit of panic, James shot Hoss’ kneecap, he screams in agony and falls to the ground, his knee spurts blood. James’ heart raced as he watched the pig writhe in pain. Stetson reached his arm around the human, standing to his side. “James. You go to the hummer. You’ve seen him. Your job is done.”

The teen aimed the gun at the deer in a fit of terror. “Stetson! I came here to FINISH this.” The buck raised his voice. “Don’t you fucking point that at me!” A long pause filled the warehouse. What happened to James? Was he going crazy? With those words and the deer looking at him with pleading eyes, James sighed deeply. He stood still for a moment. This was a dark path not going down. Stetson momentarily saw a darkness cover James’ face-a darkness he hoped to never see again.

James tossed the pistol outside with a large throw, his body tenses. Stetson looked to Hoss. “What else do you have going on here?” Hoss speaks between tears. “You’d love to know, wouldn’t you?” Stetson sighed deeply and flipped his knife once to show off. He pressed the blade against Hoss’ throat. “You tell me now and I’ll make your death painless. You don’t tell me, I’ll make your time here torturous. Who else are you hurting?” Now faced with death, Hoss became less confident and more weak and frail.

The large pig sniffled. “Humans. Tied up and used as our slaves. Go in. Look at the beautiful work Lance and I have done. Maybe you’ll wanna join us? Maybe you’ll realize what a majestic world it would be, if humans were merely our servants. No more racism. No more hate. Everyone had their place. When I get out of the hospital, YOU and JAMES are so dead. SO fucking dead.” He chuckled.

The deer sighed, kneeling to match Hoss’ position. “For Gloria.” He jams the blade into Hoss’ neck, slowly dragging it across his throat from left to right. The metal completely inserted into the smooth pink skin. He falls to the ground, gurgling heaps of vital fluid. Stetson watched him for a few moments, struggle to breathe, he held the open wound down with his hands. Perhaps trying to close it in a state of shock. His entire upper body a puddle of red fluid, nearly drowning him, with a wheeze, he lies motionless staring up at a deer who didn’t quite fit the profile of the hunted or the prey as most did.

 

CHAPTER 6

 

Humans of all ages and sizes, now were free to roam to find their homes. The locks and chains broken, hundreds of innocents now were outside the warehouse.

Stetson held his nearly broken nose with a damp paper towel as it had begun to bleed moments after freeing the humans, he looked to James and sat, leaning against his now broken hummer, still sticking out of the large door, the rear end clearly visible from the outside. He tossed James a water bottle and drank one himself. He took a deep and tired breath. He let go of the cloth, the bleeding had stopped. James sat right by his side. The two did nothing but look into the distance for a long while. The deer looked to his friend. “You okay?” James nods. “I’ll get you home, okay? Don’t worry.” He pet James’ back and gave him a quick hug. His ears perked at the sound of a motorcycle approaching.

 

AFTERNOON

 

The black cruiser motorcycle came to halt, the sand settled behind the back wheel and a beagle hopped off. Removing his helmet, he wore biker clothes and his jaw was a bit down.

Stetson stood to greet him, his jeans and t-shirt covered in dry blood, smudged dirt and little holes, Lance had never seen a deer this huge. The canine took deep rapid breaths. His work undone. His dream of humans becoming nothing but play things, done.

From his back pocket, Stetson aimed his pistol at Lance, who slowly put his hands up. “What the hell have you done? TRASHED all our work?” Stetson approached, chilly wind began to cover the area, the only sound that could be heard other than the murmurs of safe humans and Stetson’s large footsteps as he moved closer to the beagle. “Your keys. Give them to me.”

As the talking stopped, the sound of winds became more prominent. The dog looked to his feet, then looked up at the towering anthro. James ran to Stetson, but stayed behind him. The deer cocked the gun. “My idea is to take this human home, if you’re going to be in my way I’ll hurt you, as you can tell I made a mess of your guards and one dog won’t be an issue for me. Frankly, I don’t want to. Enough bloodshed has happened. I’d like to just relax. If you please. Make a choice. Either promise me you won’t hurt anyone ever again and you’ll never see me again, and leave all this shit behind, or fight me. Quick. Make up your mind.” Lance coughed and tossed him the keys without a second thought. Death was something Lance wasn’t ready for. The buck yawned and grabbed a holster from the back of his destroyed hummer and placed the gun by his side. Lance watched in anger as Stetson straddled the bike and helped James onto the motorcycle, revved the engine once and zoomed off. Leaving carnage in his wake.

The smell of gas hit James’ nose quickly, the motorcycle was a bit loud for his taste, but he felt so comfortable with the deer that it hardly mattered. The ride is bumpy, but Stetson controlled the bike with ease. James wrapped his arms around the deer’s waist and rests his head on his back. Tiredly watching scenery pass as they made it to the main roads. Finally. He felt fully relaxed. The images of blood and gore wouldn’t ever go away, but right now-he was able to just be in the moment with his hero. Being with a badass riding a motorcycle is in the end not what he thought would ever happen, but he accepted it with glee.

With a frail human wrapped around him, Stetson smiled a tad bit. It was odd at first, but perhaps it was good. Perhaps it gave the deer a sense of fatherliness that he never thought he’d get again. Maybe he’d never get it again. With a relaxed breath, he accelerated up a few hills, the wind blowing fast, the air cold as the sun tried to make its way through the looming clouds overhead, which it did. The deer got the break he was waiting for, but James being there made his time even better than he ever could have hoped for.

 

END

 

To Fetch A Dog (Leonard #7)

Plot: Leonard gains a disturbed admirer..

November 1

The shout of the word “SURPRISE!” jolted the detective back a bit, but he quickly shrugged and smirked as his fellow officers shook his paw and gave him congratulations.

A long, white table sits in the middle of the break room, covered in dog treats and some cookies and candy for the human interns.

John Hulbert, dressed in his trademark police uniform approached Leo and hugged tightly, his happy tone made those around him light up, it seemed he was the type of husky that could brighten any day. “Leo you mutt! How did you do it?” To the detective, this was all part of his work. Catching a serial killer seemed quite routine, but  he had alluded everyone and left not much of a trail-but it was Keaton’s dedicated and heartfelt nature that kept him up the entire night when everyone else was asleep to get evidence he needed. It didn’t seem harder than his other cases, he had run into more unsavory anthros and humans in his life.

The forty year old (in human years) shrugged and loosened his black tie, matching his black suit and white dress shirt, he grabbed a cup of water and stood chatting to John. “Perhaps it was that I got more time alone, Chris has been busy with a few house sitters.” John nodded. “How is Chris? Still the same loving human I hope.” The lab let out a quick chuckle, the only way to get him to truly smile was the mention of his son. “For sure, hyper as ever. Damn, I would think with all the crap we’ve been through he’d be more leery, I’ve always been afraid he’d go back to being more scared, like he was before. Seems he’s happy though.” John placed a paw on Leonard’s shoulder. “I think he feels protected, he’s very proud of you. He knows you both make a good team.”

As soon as the husky left-a young, beautiful black panther approached the dog. Wearing a blouse and grey skinny jeans. Perhaps in her thirties, her blue eyes big and full of emotion as she looked at Leonard. Her triangular ears moved about, her voice sweet, but had a certain peppiness. “Hey Mr. Keaton. I’ve read all about you. You’re quite a legend.” She had always listened to his rough British accent from a distance, but hearing it up close made her heart flutter. He looked at her as he rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “I suppose, thank you. Nice to meet you.” Really, he was flattered, but he’d never been called such a thing, Chris did put his dad up a pedestal, and it seemed cute. This seemed more weird since he had never even seen this feline. “I’m Vanessa!” She shook his paw excitedly.

Vanessa took up Leonard’s time, not that he cared-she had good questions about human rights and what it was like for Chris to have an anthro father, what his disabilities were and what he did at home. Seemed she had done her homework on him and this meeting was something the intern had been waiting for.

As the crowd died down and Leo grabbed his first and final dog treat before exiting, she spoke as he looked for his car keys in his suit coat. “If you ever need anything, let me know. Papers copied, coffee made-really I’m learning the ropes and anything like that would help.” He nodded. “Thank you. Have a good evening.” He gave a toothless, but genuine smile and left.

Chris loved his new apartment, staying with Ashley, the arctic fox did not turn out so well, irritation got the best of her. The human also loved that new anthros were coming into check on him when he got home from school, as amazing as Leo was to him-these younger anthros were more willing to take him out and have fun.

Plus, his father felt that he should be around furries his own age. More positives than negatives seemed to have come out of this new change.

In the evening, when Leo got back from the office, Chris was napping on the couch wrapped in a blanket. A note was left on the kitchen table by one of Chris’ helpers, telling of the day’s activities.

November 2

The morning started off normal, as Leo came downstairs after showering and combing his fur, Chris was the first jump at him with questions. The morning had presented Keaton with a tired state of mind, but he didn’t want to offend his son by telling him to stop talking.

A few years earlier, he would have sternly stopped his son from berating him with unending hyperness and love to him as he busily got ready for work-but now the lab knew how far his own sternness would get, and knew that letting little things get to him was not worth it when most days his life was on the line. His son was happy, and that in turn made his dad was content about it. “Hey dad, when you get home-can we go out? Can we see a movie maybe?” Leo smirked, fixing his grey dress shirt and red tie and hooked his badge to the waist of his faded jeans and patted his son on his shoulder. “Depends what time I get home, go get ready for the house sitter coming over.” They both exchange a quick hug and the black lab grabs his brown leather jacket.

He shook a bit of water off of him before entering the building, the sound of the rain could still be heard as he walked through the large hallways, his brown dress shoes squeaked against the marble floor. He placed his black bag on the floor once he entered his large office which overlooked the entire city of Boston. His large desk not extremely messy, the only thing always on their was the framed photo of him and his son. He opened his laptop as he slumped in the large chair.

He suddenly heard a knock on his door, his ears, perked. “Come in.” He thought it would be John, offering him a beverage or a snack like he always did-but it was the same panther from last night.

Leo looked to her, she wore an all black outfit-brand new. Not super fancy, but not cheap considering the brand name. Her skinny tail flicked as she sat across from the dog, she places a fresh coffee in front of him, she sounded upbeat. “For you, Leo! I noticed you didn’t have a coffee with you, like usual.” He rolled his sleeves up to his elbows and leaned back. “Oh, well-thank you.” She stared at him, up and down, Vanessa stood to his side, looking over his shoulder. “How was your morning?” He typed at an email, glancing at her. “Not bad.” Clearly, he was busy. She continued to talk. “Can I get you anything else or are you good?” He looked to her one last time. “I’m alright, we can talk during break, okay?” His tone was soft, last thing he wanted to do was to offend her for just being a bit overly curious, but he knew she wouldn’t go away unless he explicitly stated her to leave. The cat felt a slight surge of anger, but she smiled and nodded. “Okay, see you then Mr. Keaton.”

Venessa had a lot to do, the boss had given her more than enough papers to copy and type, but today would be difficult. As her claws hit the keys in a quick and methodical pattern, the thought of the black lab detective invaded her brain. She sighed, continuing her work-but the image came up again and again. She typed harder, faster tried to be more concentrated. She groaned as her work was not coming out well, sighed and clenched her fist. The words had no spaces, no paragraphs. Just a jumbled mess of words that all seemed to collide into one another.

She stood up nervously. Those around her either on computers or answering 9-1-1 calls. She was one of the few not dressed in a cop uniform, but she knew that was not the life for her-but she did find officer’s quite cool.

She was startled by Mr. Hermin, the doberman and her boss approaching her cubicle. She wished she could cover it in images of hot anthros, but knew that was not work acceptable.

His pointed ears moved a bit, his brown suit looked quite good on him. “Vanessa? Everything okay?”  She nodded and placed her paws on her hips slowly. Her tone sounded distracted. “Yeah, just tired and stuff.” He nodded and he crossed his arms. “Why did you go see Leonard this morning?” She looked him in the eye, her tone more upbeat once the name of her hero was mentioned. “To get him a morning coffee, and we talked for a bit.” He smiled. “He’s a good guy. Get those papers done, my friend!”

Once he left, the panther grabbed her laptop and headed out of the office. She walked down the main hallway where all the main offices were, she took a seat on the floor, a few feet from Leo’s office, resting her back against the wall. Her mind now able to focus on her work a bit easier, knowing she could hear what was going on in his area. She enjoyed envisioning the dog working on his next case, being all heroic and strong. This is what her mind wondered to until lunch.

“So, Leonard-I just want you to know that if you ever need anything, like a sitter for your son or any help outside of work as well as here, I’m here for you.” They were the only two sitting in the break room, other officers came in and out, but Vanessa sat across from her inspiration. Leonard nodded, and while deep down he really wasn’t comfortable with someone he just met coming into his house, he shrugged, figuring nothing would come of it in the future. “Thank you.” Being kind was the best action Leonard figured he could do.

The cat wanted so badly to hold his paw, she let her fear slide by and attempted to inch her paw close to his. Once she grasped it, he gently patted it and went up to clean his dish in the sink.

She smiled, figuring maybe he was shy of her-she knew she was pretty, Leo certainly wasn’t like the other males who’d jump at an opportunity to have someone as sensual as her, her skinny body, her black silky fur, her huge blue eyes, her smell flawless and her clothing tight.

She silently stood to his side as he began to walk out of the room, hoping that maybe he could get some more emails written up. The panther stopped him nonchalantly but grasping his shoulder, this question had been burning in her brain ever since she laid eyes on the muscular canine. “There’s another lucky girl-o-or guy in your life, hm? I-I understand, and I’m sorry for being so naive.” He shook his head. “Just Chris and I.” Her ear flicked and she smiled a bit. “YOU? Single? Hard to believe, you’re such a nice guy.” The lab exited the room without a word, she walked to his side-he really hoped she wouldn’t, but knew she would anyway. It was no doubt Leonard was good at reading humans and furries, and right now it seemed this panther was desperate. Perhaps she had lost someone? Perhaps something happened that made her so clingy. Honestly, he felt no danger from her, sure maybe she was touchy, but that was a trait of the average furry as far as he was concerned. “Well Leonard, nice to see you! I’ll chat with you whenever. Just shoot me a text or call.”

He nodded-and realized he had no way to contact her, which sort of made him feel better. She would be a work furry, not an outside of work furry, with that logic it would not matter how many questions she asked. Leo felt he could handle this.

Vanessa made her way through her front door, her home quite large and elegant. Tiredly, she put her bag down and began cooking a meal for herself, she preferred home cooked meals and almost never ordered out. To keep her figure, she had a very strict diet.

As the food simmered, she decided to go online and research Leonard a bit. She found the same articles she had read before, she found what college he went to, and for the first time she decided to print some photos of him. Not that she went online to deliberately do this, but she figured why not? He wouldn’t care if he never knew. She would go out and buy some frames shortly, she did feel a ping of weirdness, but again-not like he’d ever know.

Leonard and Chris spent some time on the couch, his son flipped through a few TV channels, but spent most of his day telling his dad about school. His son placed an arm around his dad. “Dad, have you you e-ever thought of leaving the FBI?” Leo was surprised this question came out, he glanced to his son. “Not really, why? Do you not like when I’m gone?” Chris said nothing and just shrugged. “I understand your worry, but it is what I do best. I know that, and I think you know it too.” Chris nodded. “I’m probably not going to work weekends anymore though, my boss is very open minded and understands that I need to see you and hang out with you. That would help, hm?” With his thought interrupted, Loe’s cell phone went off, which meant a text came through. Hey Leonard! It’s Vanessa! How was work?

A text? From her? Leo didn’t answer right away, and Chris of course asked who it was.

No secrets anymore. Keeping his son away from his life was not fair to him, Chris knew that sometimes things in Leonard’s life got scary and he had a right to know what was up.

He’s eighteen, he’s an adult, he can know. “Well Chris, it’s a girl. A panther named Vanessa. I think she might have a crush on me.” The human smirked. “O-oh! Really? Do you like her? Is she pretty?! Can she come over?!” The dog chuckled at his son’s sudden burst of excitement, but spoke seriously and honestly. “I don’t know, Chris. She’s a bit much. Not that I think she’s dangerous, but she’s a bit too touchy and-I’m not comfortable with her coming into our lives, maybe if she became a bit more subtle. I doubt it though.”

He stood up to go get changed out of his work shirt, putting on a simple tight brown t-shirt.

Suddenly, his phone went off again, this time she was calling him. He sighed and decided to pick up, staying in his bedroom. “Hey Leo! What’s up?” He could tell this was a huge moment for her, her tone of voice said it. “Going to make some food soon for Chris, how did you get this number?” As he spoke, he looked out his window-expecting to see her there for some reason. “Asked someone at the office…I hope you don’t mind.” He did mind a bit, and now was a good time to begin to chip at the truth. “I don’t mind a text a day, but-I am rather busy at my house. I can’t be on the phone too long.” Not a lie, not even a ‘white lie.’ Keaton’s time at home meant a lot to him, and it meant even more to his son. “Oh! I’m sorry, I will see you at work then, have a good one!” She hung up right away to the dog’s surprise. He headed downstairs to make Chris a sandwich, well Chris actually would make it while his dad watched.

The panther rubbed her eyes, she hoped she wasn’t too forceful with her texting or call. After eating her homemade chicken meal, she decided to have a glass of wine and set one of the photos of Leo by her laptop.

November 3  

Leonard had meetings to attend, he wore his black suit and loose red tie complete with his cop badge on his waist, a cup of coffee sat by him. He spent his time shuffling papers. Like every morning now, the panther entered his office-freshly showered, wearing a floral sundress, this time with a container of food. “Hey you! I thought I’d cook some stuff up for your son, I had leftovers and thought you’d like them.” Okay, even Leonard had to admit, this WAS a thoughtful gesture. She stuck the delicious looking food in the fridge next to his desk. “Meetings today, Mr. Keaton?” She knew at work, she probably shouldn’t call him by his first name-even though to her, they were on a ‘best friends’ agreement.

She casually walked around his desk, picking up the framed photo of Leo and his son. “Chris looks quite happy here. Only thing missing is a beautiful wife…”

The dog glanced to her, no smile, not even a smirk. “Hey, I’ll see you at break. Okay? I have tons of papers to sort through.” He now had to put his foot down, even if it was in a calm and hopefully friendly way. She paused, her happy personality seemed to dwindle ever so slightly. She nodded. “Yeah, I understand. Totally. See you later!” With a wave, she left and headed to the bathroom.

She took a few deep breathes, speaking to herself. “It’s okay…he still likes you…it’s fine! FINE!” After the scream…she took a deep breath and whispered to herself. “No need to get upset.” She slammed her fist into the porcelain sink once, causing a nice bruise to form on her fist then briskly walked out.

The meetings went well, new interns wanted to ask Leo all types of questions, since everyone knew his name and knew the cases he’s solved, he was content with everything for the most part. Tiredly, he went to the break room to settle with some coffee and a snack. The break room had a few officers walking in and out, but for the most part was empty. He sat at the large white table, the counter with the sink and coffee maker directly behind him.


Of course, Vanessa walked in again. This time, not as invasive, being careful what wording she used. “Meetings go well?” He nodded and drank his beverage. “Went fine, thank you,” He didn’t want to seem interested, he wanted her to learn that he has limits. He knew if he started asking her questions, she’d stay forever and follow him out. She knew he wasn’t interested in her like she had hoped. Being friends was better than nothing, but her mind kept nagging for more. If she ignored it, she’d lose sleep. She’d scream. She’d regret it. She wanted to go full force. A rejection would be better than his unknown reaction.

She sat next to him, purring slightly, a sound that Leo found odd, yeah he was a dog and dogs never made that sound, but he still found it a bit off putting, especially that she started as soon as she was a few inches from him. “Leonard, I really want to help you.” The dog’s ears went down, so did his tail, speaking softly and perhaps feeling a bit jaded by this point. The meetings made him tired, which didn’t help anything. “Vanessa, I’m fine. Really, I have all the help I need.” With a sigh, he looked her in the eye. “I don’t have time to debate this every single day. Okay?” The panther put an arm around his shoulders, perhaps he needed calming. “Leo, I don’t want to debate-I just want to tell you how I truly feel.”

With a snap in his tone, he stood up and placed his hands on his hips, the yell was a quick burst and only lasted a second. “I know how you FEEL! You don’t need to keep telling me over and over. I get it.” His voice so cold and full of hate, the panther coiled back a tad bit.

Vanessa took a deep breath and began to cry ever so slightly, embarrassment washed over the dog, his sternness turned to sorriness. “O-okay Leonard…b-but you didn’t have to yell.” She cried a bit more.  He didn’t want to comfort her, he knew getting closer to her would only provoke this strange behavior. Also, he did not want to be a complete jerk, he needed to find some sort of inbetween. He slowly sat across from her. “Vanessa, please don’t cry. I need you to realize that, I can’t be with you twenty four hours a day. I think you’re reasonable enough to understand why. Okay?”

With a brisk walk, she approached the drawer full of knives and she pulled one out, Leo’s heart skipped a beat.

Time moved in slow motion, he got ready to defend himself for any attack. The dog slowed his breathing down, eyeing the cat. She raised the knife and slowly dragged it across her wrist, red fluid dripped onto the floor.

Now in full protective mode, Leo ran over and knocked the sharp object out of her paw and grasped both of her soft wrists. “STOP!” The panther hugged the dog as soon as he had yelled, rubbing her face into his chest like he was some live formation of catnip. “You left me no choice!” The detective gently grabbed her paw, changing his tone from stern to vigilant. “Vanessa, you need help. Right now.” He grabbed napkins, placed them under cold water and applied pressure to the wound. After calling in medical professionals, she was calmly whisked away, she did not put up a fight-she merely took one last glance at her lover…

 

November 8

Saturday morning proved to be stress free, for some odd reason-Venessa had stopped texting.

Driving down the road in his freshly cleaned convertible with the top down, his brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of some gruesome case. The sun shined, the afternoon breeze was cool because winter would be just around the corner. Two full cups of coffee from a local coffee shop were by the dog’s side.

He became curious when an unknown car was parked rather close to his home. He removed his black sunglasses and entered the clean living room.

He nearly dropped the beverages to the floor when a pretty black panther sat a few feet from his son, the two were chatting away on the couch. A single white bandage was around her right wrist. She turns to meet his confused gaze. “Hey Leo! I was in town and thought of stopping by! Hope you don’t mind.” This had to be the last straw, he gestured Chris over to the kitchen, not angrily, but swiftly for sure, his son of course knew something was up.

He kept his voice low as the two entered the kitchen, which was separated by a glass door. “D-dad? You okay?” The lab nodded. “Stay in here, I’ll explain later, I promise.” Chris rubbed the back of his neck, he knew not to disobey his dad. Leo swiftly grabbed Chris’ coffee and handed it to him so he could sip it calmly as he waited. He knew Leo knew what was best for him.
The muscular canine entered the living room, she looked him up and down in his tight grey v-neck shirt and green slacks. His brown eyes read a sort of dark puzzlement as she walked up to him to grasp his paw. “Nice house Leonard.” Her tone full of sweetness with a hint of seductiveness, she raised her right hand and was about to touch his muzzle. He grasped her paw before she could do so and put it to her side. “Leave, now.” His tone austere, she was surprised that after the crying fit, he still treated her this way. “L-leo. What did I do wrong?” The dog sighed deeply, scratching his flat ear. “I have to be stern about who enters my home, and from the way you’ve been acting-I frankly am uncomfortable.” Vanessa frowned, letting her tail rub his stomach, she was way too close for comfort. She sighs and heads for the door. “I’m glad your son has more respect than you, dog.” Slamming the door, Leo relaxed once he heard the sound of her car speed off. Chris slowly walked in and put an arm around his dad. “A-are you scared?” His brown eyes didn’t read fear, but concern. “On edge, but not scared.” He locked his front door and windows.

For the next half hour or so, he explained the issue to Chris over the coffee and snacks.

“I’m sorry d-dad, if I had known, I wouldn’t have let her in.” His father shrugged. “I know, you were only trying to be nice to her by letting her in. As I’ve explained, I don’t think I’m comfortable with her. No matter what she says, don’t take it as one hundred percent truth.” After a quick tuck in, Chris was asleep on the couch.

Meanwhile, Leo got into his pajamas and decided to block her phone number.

November 11

Vanessa stopped Leo in the hall with urgency, handing him a very expensive bouquet of roses. “Leo, sweetheart I’m so sorry for everything. I’m sorry for stressing you out, I’m sorry for coming over. I’m sorry. I want to remain friends. You’re a good boy!” She sounded so motherly, the dog declined the flowers, looking to her with a scrutinizing look in his eye, but said not a word as he headed to his office, glancing at the officers making copies of records and hearing the sounds of office ambience. She surprisingly did not follow him, perhaps she knew he wasn’t in good spirits or perhaps she knew the wrong she had done.

As he sat at his computer, the office door opened to reveal John Hulbert. He shut the door and crossed his arms, looking at the lab with his blue eyes. “Leonard? Can I talk to you?” He nodded and leaned back in his chair. John pulled up a chair and he stopped smiling, whatever this was-was serious if Hulbert didn’t have a puppy smile on his face. “Are you okay?” Leo was rarely asked that question at work.

Are. You. Okay? The words jingled in his brain, a truthful answer is what his best friend deserved. This was the moment to open up, he needed and help and there was no two ways about it. “Not really. I do have an issue.” He didn’t give a ‘sad puppy dog’ face, but remained stoic.

John leaned forward, his paws folded, the handcuffs on his uniform jingle a bit. “What’s up, bud?” Silence filled the room. “The new intern, Vanessa. She frankly makes me uncomfortable. After she cut herself, she ended up in my house, talking to my son. I flipped out. Typically, I can take care of things on my own, but I can’t risk my son being in danger. It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t talked to her during the party.” John stands up and gives a deep sigh. “No, she’s crazy. She would have gone after you anyway if she was so nuts about you. Your concern is beyond okay. Obviously, she’s dangerous.” Leo knew he was right after he thought about his words. She IS insane and most likely nothing would have kept her away. She would have found some excuse to be with him. Her determination and darkness filled the detective up with nervousness.

Venessa did not show during break time-however another furry walked in on Leonard. Mr. Herman, he sat himself down. “Sorry to bother you on break, Leonard. Wanted to tell you that Vanessa has been fired.”

He paused to let Leo think on that for a bit. “Leonard, I’m so sorry for all the stress she caused you. It’s never okay to feel uncomfortable in your own workspace. John Hulbert told me everything, and you can put all that nasty stuff behind you.” As calming as Leo’s boss was, somehow the black lab knew this would not be the end of her, and that now it was time to be more careful than ever.

 November 17

Strangely, she didn’t try to show up to work, the detective was able to do his normal routine of paperwork, which actually was really nice. No cases were to be solved, he was able to go home early on a few occasions and go to the mall with his son, which was his favorite activity.

Her bookstore bag full of items, she was in a good mood. The cashier did notice all of the magazines had the same black lab on them, articles written over the years by human rights organizations and police officers. Not that he was famous really, but furries knew he had made a positive dent in the community.

Her home, two floors and a basement. The feline spent hours sitting at her kitchen table with a pair of scissors, cutting out images of Leonard and listening to music. With papers scattered over the floor, she began gluing the pictures to various walls in her living room. A feeling grew inside her she had never felt, a feeling of accomplishment and perhaps a bit of erotic tension. Once an hour was up, her living room was plastered with glued images of Leonard, from magazines and a few from Facebook searches. She was away from Leo’s work, but due to her having his number-she could call him anytime. She sighed happily and went through her contacts, she scrolled threw a few names-but Leonard’s was there, but was not clickable.

Scratching her ear, she decided to dial his number, she put the phone on speaker phone, an automated voice came on. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. She chuckled, figuring this was a one time occurrence, a mishap with the phone company or her service. She dialed again. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. Vanessa dials again, this time pressing her paws into the phone more firm. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. Her mind became more concentrated, she sat down with a slump. She sighed, dialing again. The number you are trying to reach has blocked you. Goodbye. He blocked her. He. Blocked. Her.

The panther now knew it-and she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Her soul felt crushed. Her brain swarmed with anger and deep, unflinching and undying love. She screamed at the top of her lungs and tossed her phone clear across the living room. “FUCK YOU LEONARD!”

November 18

The dog walked in from work as his son took his nap, a ritual after school. The sun shined through the windows of the house, he bid farewell to the teenage housesitter who had watched Chris for a few hours, paid her some money and placed his bag to the floor.

Loosening his tie and removing his suit jacket, he sat at the clean kitchen table after closing the glass door. Opening his email, he saw much of the same pointless advertisements  he always did.

One email did strike him, something at the very top. The subject line read: OPEN ME from VanessaWalton@gmail.com. Moving his mouse almost hesitantly over the message box, like it would reach over and bite him in the face. He needed to click it, what had the crazy furry sent him? Clicking on the message, no words were written, just a link to a video posted on some social media site. Leo dreaded seeing what it possibly could be, he clicked it with a quick and slightly uneasy sigh.

The camera faces Vanessa, dressed in a pink bathrobe, her backdrop nothing more than an expensive bathroom. She appeared to be holding her cellphone to her face and recording herself, the angle above her head, like a mini bird’s eye view, her blue eyes staring deep into the lense lovingly, but with an edge, the angle also purposefully revealed slight cleavage.

Her voice not sweet and sensitive like it was most times they met, this time their was an air of desperation. Her voice slightly echoed through the bathroom, her hand steady, her fur combed neatly, most likely especially done for filming flattering frames. “Hello Leonard. This is what everything has come too.” Leo folds his hands and leans into the computer monitor. “I didn’t want to say it, I didn’t want it to be true, but you’re ignoring me.” She coughs, her hand less steady now, a lump forms in her throat.

Her sharp claws painted a deep purple color, her teeth revealed slightly as she spoke the disheartening words, a cat’s teeth were quite sharp and thin. “I know in your mind I’ve done wrong things, maybe I’ve said some stuff that rubbed you the wrong way and I am deeply sorry. Cats and dogs, always complex.” She softly chuckled, her voice pounded in Leonard’s brain, not because she was loud or her voice was annoying-but because he hated her heart so much that hearing her speak sent crazy and dark images to his mind.

“You don’t know what it’s like, detective Keaton. At night, I envision you…NO I envision us. Your muscular arms wrapped around me, protecting me from the uncertainty of the night and of my own bad memories. Your deep brown eyes, staring at my body-both of us at ease. Your head smooth and fluffy as I rub my claws through your perfect body.”

She smirks, her tone going up in happiness, Leonard’s heart feels nothing but dark and empty. “We speak to each other about our days, about our jobs, about our son-Chris. We’re so proud of him and how he’s able to overcome his special needs. You, no longer saddened by the cases that drill your mind, me no longer an uncertain feline with no man to come to for warmth. Chris, happy that he has not only a loving father, but an amazing mother to nurture him and tuck him in at night.” He growled a bit, getting extremely irritated by what he was enduring, it was like a boxing match. Does he face the terror head on and get a bit damaged, or does he tap out and let it all end like a failure? “Leonard Keaton I love you. Do you understand? I think you do-and I think this perfect life can happen. We have to erase the past, go beyond our friendship. Every night..this image of a perfect life hurts my brain, it hurts my heart, it hurts my soul. Losing sleep over the imagination is frequent-but our life doesn’t have to BE imaginary Leo.” The video cuts to black. He hopes it’s over. He hopes this feline has the decency to cut him off from the madness. Once the video cuts back, it is of Vanessa’s living room, no longer facing her visage, but a wall. A wall of cut out images of Leonard himself, plastered with glue and scotch tape, her voice heard clear as crystal as she shows him each individual image. The lab shivered in horror. “Call me crazy sweetheart, but I think this is nice. I think when we’re together, I will keep this all here. Here’s you in a tie, in a t-shirt, shirtless on the beach. Sometimes, I’ll even put myself in these pictures and imagine what it would be like to be in your presence. It is euphoric.”

The camera flips back to the bathroom and to her face which now looked much more grim. “Leo, I don’t mean to be firm o-or drive you away, but you are driving me crazy. You really are.” A tear escapes her eye, a frown begins to form, the camera shakes a tad bit. “I want this so badly, and I’m sending you this-because it’s from the heart, it’s from my spirit. Those times a-at the office when you grasped by paw, I n-never forgot that feeling. How I long for it again, your brown eyes, your puppy dog face. I want it. For me. I want you to know the life you c-could have. If you don’t respond within three days of this-then you’re a monster.”

Her voice goes a bit deep, her blue eyes no longer full of wonderment and happiness, but of slight anger. “I know you’ll respond, but just know that if you deny to even write-then you’re heartless. Look at me Leonard…look at the loneliness, LOOK into my eyes. You’re the only one f-for me, a-and you know it, you son of a bitch!”

Her soul was cracking, revealing the true underbelly, she hisses a tiny bit. “I love you, but I can be your worst enemy if you dare cross or ignore me! M-maybe I’ll even take Chris…i-if I don’t feel you’re fucking respectful enough. Everyone knows you can’t be a single parent with a-a human, Leonard. You NEED me…I hope you’re watching and listening. You love me, you need me for yourself AND for your son. Got it? Don’t be an asshole, write me.”

With that, the screen goes black.

Leonard removes his headphones and stands ever so slowly to prepare a meal for his son, he knows Chris is up from the sound of his ipad in the living room. His paws shake a bit as, his breathing is a bit heavy. Was he having a panic attack? Maybe a small one. Taking care of Chris was not really an issue, but trying to get work done was a bit tougher. He jotted a few words for his report he had been working on for a few days, but the feeling of being watched waved over him like a dark cloud refusing to dissipate.

November 19- Morning

Today, the energetic husky had a day off.

He started off his morning by showering and singing, throwing on a yellow t-shirt and light blue sweatpants and grabbing his suitcase.

He was going to a family get together, and he couldn’t be more happy than to see his mom, dad, cousins, brothers and sisters. He checked the upstairs, flicking off all the nights and humming to himself, the sun shining and the weather a bit cold. He sent a few last texts to his grandfather, who was scheduled to meet him at the train station soon.

All the lights were off, stove turned off, window blinds shut, he smiled and hoisted his suitcase towards the front door, opening it quickly with a wag from his bushy tail.

His heart went to his throat, he barked ever so slightly in fear and he dropped the suitcase with a bang, the panther he had seen at work,Vanessa was standing in the door frame. Smelling of sultry perfume, wearing a skimpy blue dinner dress, matching her energetic, but slightly chaotic blue eyes. She smirked as she saw the rightfully shocked officer’s facial expression. “Mr. Hulbert! I’m so sorry! I wanted to ask you a question, you busy?” Returning to his normal demeanor, but feeling a tad bit of fear as he knew the mental breakdown she had and the ‘obsession’ with a certain black lab detective. He rubbed the back of his neck and lifted his suitcase again with a chuckle that read surprise, but a warm heart. “Venessa! Jeez, been awhile since I’ve seen you. Staying healthy and happy I hope?” She nodded, her body read ‘I’m fine’ but her heart screamed in pain, pain of wanting love and affection from only one anthro. She spoke again. “Thank you, Mr. Hulbert-I’ve been better actually. I wanted to know if I could use your phone? See, I think Leonard blocked me by accident and I know about his depression and his son, I want to make sure he’s okay.” The husky sighed, his ears drooped ever so slightly. “I’d love to help, but I really need to go. I’m late for a family get together.” She interrupted him, stepping up into the house, her movements slow and sensual, he was a bit worried she might be coming onto him now. The dog watched the panther’s kinks, her sexual walk, her velvet smooth voice, the clicking of her highheels prominent as she made her way into his house. She smirked. “I’ll only be a moment, I promise dear.” He had no choice, he was not like Leo who would have scolded her a long time ago, this all happened so quickly.

John gave a nod and a half of a smirk, his nerves not shown at all. Being an officer, he knew he needed to stay in control of himself and watch her.

He was not quick enough for her, as he attempted to back away and let her into the living room, he felt an intense pinch go through his stomach. With a whimper, he tried to lunge to the cat to defend himself, but the dog found himself feeling quite drowsy within a moment or two and fell to the hardwood floor. This medicine did not knock him out totally, it was more of an anesthesia, making his brain and body go limp. His surroundings slowly disappeared as the medicine kicked in and soon all he could see were vague shapes, her voice echoed, the sound of the living room door slamming was a bit painful to his now fragile brain, he barely had enough strength, but he managed to turn himself on his back, facing upwards towards the villain who had tricked him.

She must have had a hidden hammer, because she suddenly held one, silver color, one that could be bought at any hardware store. Her eyes narrowed in anger, her dark heart coming out in full.

Vindictive and evil was all that went through John’s brain, and he could not defend himself from whatever would happen. “John, I know you can hear me. That medication will tire you, but you should be quite aware of what I’m saying. Nod if you understand.” He groggily did so, his voice sounded hoarse. “Y-yes. S-stop, now. Please.” She lifted the hammer, he didn’t have the strength to stand let alone try and fight back. “Tell me where Leonard is. I can’t get a hold of him and his boss won’t let me into the office. Where can I find my true love?” The husky sighed deeply, his fur stood up on end. “I-I don’t know.” With a whack from the hammer, John knew she had aimed and hit his arm, and judging from the snap it was broken. He barked loudly, a tear formed in his eye. She walked around his writhing body. “John, I can make this very hard for you, where is LEONARD?”

Mr. Hermin had not given Leo much to do, but he needed to fill out some papers for a case, Leo sat in his usual spot-his large office, leather jacket slung over his big leather chair, in a flannel shirt and jeans with dress shoes, he felt today would be quick and easy and he’d get home just in time for Chris’ school bus in the afternoon.

As he reviewed a case file for a colleague, his cellphone went off, which he usually turned off during work. Without really thinking, he picked it up, strangely no one said ‘hello’, all he could hear was two voices. One of a drugged up husky named John Hulbert and the bitchy voice of Vanessa yelling. “WHERE IS LEONARD?” He could hear she was breaking various objects, Leo leapt from his chair and briskly walked to Mr. Hermin’s office, he felt dizzy, but his brain was on a one track destination. “Hermin, we need to send officers to John Hulbert’s house-NOW. He’s in trouble.”

The doberman nodded, Leonard was never one to sound urgent, nor was he one to call for backup, but this time was different. A few officers of varying species came out in blue uniforms, heading for their police cruisers.

John could not focus on her yelling, the damage from the broken arm was worsening, the medication was wearing off, the dog looked pale, his eyes tired, he could not speak. He was in shock. He tried not to move his arm, the cat stood over him, various objects broken in and around the living room, her dress partly torn.

She gave a gentle kick to his busted arm, he barked loudly. “John-we can sit here all day, tell me where he is! I don’t think you understand how important this is.” The dog took many deep breaths. “I-I can’t tell you…bitch.”

Like angels from heaven, he heard the sounds of police sirens, officers had the entire home surrounded. Leonard was the first to get out of his vehicle, gun drawn and ready to enter the home. He knocked on the door. “Venessa, open up. This is the police. You hurt John and I will make sure you never hurt anyone again. Understand?”

The panther’s thoughts turned from extreme anger, to extreme love in a blink of an eye. She smiled. HIS voice was calling her, HIS muscular body was right outside the living room, ready to be cuddled. “LEONARD! Sweetheart, you don’t need to be mad.”

She ran to the door, bloody hammer still in hand, she dared not open the door-as much as her soul told her to do so. Unfriendly officers were outfront, she wouldn’t risk getting herself or her lover hurt. “John is nothing but a terrible dog! Getting in our way!” Leo knew she’d pull this, he kept his voice calm and collected. “Please, open the door and we’ll get you straightened out. Okay?” A long pause, if she truly loved him-she would listen to him. She wouldn’t want to make things worse with him. With a sigh, she dropped the hammer. In death, she knew she’d never see Leonard, but perhaps in prison, she would see him? It was a possibility. With his gun drawn, he backed away as the living room door creaked open and a frazzled black panther stood. She gazed at the muscular lab, it was almost sad. Really, it wasn’t though-because he ignored her depressed and desperate look to go after his friend who was on the ground and clutching his right arm, as he leaves she nearly wanted to reach out and touch the dog one last time-but felt it would probably get her shot.

He kneels by the husky, holding his left hand and speaking to him-he had never spoken in this tone to him directly, but knew he had it in him when comforting Chris. “John, look at me-you’re okay. Breathe. It’s over.” John did not speak, really all he wanted was for the pain to go.

A german shepherd grasped Vanessa’s shoulder, cuffing her swiftly, she was extremely distracted by the black lab and felt a bit of jealousy course through her veins as he looked at how calm and sweet he was being to John-but held it in. She had proved her point, and maybe one day he’d come to his senses and ‘date’ her if she got off on parole.

This was the hope that filled her. This was what made her climb in the back seat of the cruiser. Seeing Leonard again, was all worth it.

All she thought about was that moment the two made eye contact, nothing before or after. It was the closest she may get to him in a long time.

November 19- Evening

Chris sat across from John’s bed, who was now dressed in a hospital gown. He was responsive and chatting a bit to the young human, an IV was placed in his wrist to get the drugs out from the attack, his arm was a large and comfortable sling. His family would be their to visit the next day, Chris insisted on staying with John the entire night. The beeping from the machines didn’t bother him, nor did the nurses coming in and out-he knew he made John feel good and that’s what was important. John had a bit of trouble sleeping, but the sounds of the hospital ambience and the doctors soon brought his mind to a calm state and he was able to rest.

Leonard entered the bar close by to his home, Chris fast asleep and John in a surprisingly healthy condition. He sits down at a table, waiting to be served. He needed to be alone, the excitement from the day had completely wiped him out. As he looked at the menu, deciding on his beverage of choice, a female voice spoke to him-someone he knew. Wearing all black, thin, golden fur and a smile that would light up any room. Her tail wagged in excitement, she had not changed a bit. “What can I get you, Leonard Keaton?” He could not believe his eyes, he stood up slowly, his brain connecting dots. “Sandy?” She wrapped her arms around him. “How are you? It’s been too long!” Leo nodded. “Sure has.” She held his paw and continued to speak, it was like time did not catch up with her. She was in her twenties when they first met, and she didn’t look a day over thirty. Sandy must have kept good care of herself. “Can we catch up sometime? I could meet your adorable son?”

Normally, he wouldn’t want anything to do with any female who was interested in him-and it was no secret to him that in college he was her crush. With an open mind and an open heart, he nodded. “Yes. I’d like that very much, it’s so good to see you.” Once he ordered his drink-he sat…feeling not content about Sandy, but happy. As happy has he was when they were first together. That was her. She made anthros and humans happy. Perhaps she would be the change he needed. Maybe this meeting would be the chance of a lifetime to get out of the dark hole known as depression and welcome new opportunities.

End

   

The Muzzled (Short Story)

muzzled_cover

 

PLOT: In this hard-hitting drama based on real-life accounts, a pit bull attempts to make sense of the world of dogfighting while also trying to escape it.

 

The Muzzled

Aaron B.

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SECTION 1

Mack’s chin rested on top of cold, hard cement, his paws ached, his body scarred from previous encounters. His brown fur grimy, his two ears, small and folded like all American Pit Bull Terriers. His left ear had a slice going down from his ear to chin and was full of red marks and bruised lightly.

As he rose to stretch, his metal collar jingled. He began to walk about the area, stretching his large aching muscles. The place smelt of raw meat and of the other dogs in the area. The warehouse, full of wooden crates and supplies for their owners.

Extra machinery was a common thing found in here.

Two other dogs were in this building, a female German Shepherd named Lizzie who was currently napping, and a tall black Doberman with large pointed ears named Stewart. Stewart is the self-proclaimed leader of the trio, and the other two dared not argue with his unfair logic-he had torn a few Pit bulls, beagles and Dalmatians apart when fighting in the ring, now Mack and Lizzie were at his mercy, even though as far as stamina and muscular structure went, the brown canine could potentially fight him-but in all honesty, he didn’t want to.

Fighting was in fact the last and most dreaded item on his mind, as Stewart rose to greet his two slaves, his voice echoed throughout the warehouse. “Morning!” Lizzie stirred awake, yawned and shook her entire body before standing next to a tired Mack.

The Doberman looked down upon the two, he was tallest and certainly looked the roughest. Half an ear missing, his right eye bloodshot, his underside marked with bites. The only other sound that could be heard other than Stewart’s blabbering was the sound of fluorescent lights from the ceiling. “Today folks, we fight. For the good of our species, for our owners who feed us.” That terrible word-fight. The thing that Mack was brought up with, the thing he was scared of. Today, it was over with.

The Pit bull coughed a bit and spoke, born in Boston, Massachusetts, he had a deep city accent. “I’m not fighting again.” Stewart’s good ear twitched, his tone spiteful. “Yeah, you are actually.”   Mack sighed and shook his head. “I can’t do this anymore, it’s wrong and disgusting.” The Doberman growled a bit, but Mack didn’t back down. “You’re a Pit bull…you’re MEANT for fighting, you’re good at it! You have a reputation, never beaten, never lost a fight. You’ve made big money for the humans who’ve taken such good care of you. Why do you think families hate your species? Because you’re a FIGHTING dog.” Lizzie looks to Mack in concern-what was he doing going up against a Doberman who could kill anything? Mack narrowed his eyes. “Innocent lives ruined, dogs who didn’t do anything are torn apart because we’re roped into this shit! That’s fair to you?”

The two were about to lunge at each other, but four tall males entered the warehouse. All three of the dogs began to bark, whether in terror or pure anger it was hard for them to tell.

Before Mack could think, a heavy collar was forced onto his neck, causing him to cough a bit. His owner, intimidating and extremely overweight.

Dragged from the warehouse to the outside where a bit of rain drizzled from heavy dark clouds, across a dank and foul smelling alleyway, the pavement wet against his paws, the feeling of dread seemed to follow him. This is the only place outside he was allowed, and only with a human tugging at him. The feeling of sadness in the air like a mist over Mack’s mind, on the occasion he did see humans they were usually upset. Sometimes injecting strange substances into their arms, causing them to act strange and fall down. The smells that wafted to him were typically unpleasant, garbage and dead animals were the two things he detected. There was something depressing yet creepy about the outside world.

At the end of the alleyway about a mile off, was a street. Full of fast moving cars and humans who seemed happy and content, and certain smells would come from there. Smells of amazing food and the feeling of happiness. This often caused Mack to tug on his collar in a desperate attempt to live on that side of the world. However, the human who pulled him would often kick him if the pulling became too much. It was hopeless. Everything was always hopeless.

After walking across the alleyway and walking through a rural area of town, then around some other corners. Mack begins to stick his nose to the moist, tall grass he walks upon. A group of humans stand around a large hole, surrounded by what looked to be a fence.

He is now tossed into the pit, complete with barbed wire wrapped around the entire structure. He knew what was coming next, he began breathing heavily, his heart pounds in his chest as he looks to his opponent.
The smells of sweat, body odor and an unkempt dog were prevalent, who barked ferociously across from him. The floor beneath him now wet mud. This was hell. The place where various canines and humans congregated to watch extreme violence unfold in front of them.

Dirty and bruised humans were all around the barbed wire, shouting, throwing money to one another, swearing, making bets about the two dogs and acting like they each ruled the world of blood sports.

The dog who slobbered all over himself was a yellow lab, his build looked unnatural, like he was hopped up on steroids, the muscles huge but extremely unhealthy. His eyes not brown and innocent like a puppy dog’s eyes, his gaze full of violent intent and insanity. The meaning of his life and those he loved, had faded away. Bloodshed was what he cared about. His mind was gone from the medications and abuse he had suffered by the hand of this sport, and for lack of a better term, he was a crazed and rabid psychopath.

The two are released from their leashes, the shouts from the humans in the circle became louder, the yellow lab is the first to pounce, and he goes for Mack’s leg, he hops out of the way nearly toppling himself over with a spurt of mud. Mack wished he could dodge attacks forever, but he knew. He knew the truth. The Pit bull’s owner shouts to Mack. “GET HIM! Get him boy! Gonna let that fucker push you around?! Good boy! Get him!” The screams of impatience and waiting for the fight to really start from everyone else was giving Mack a severe headache.

The Labrador shows his fangs and growls. “Either you or me buddy…I’m not losing to a species as hated as much as you are!”

The pounce comes again, this time the yellow lab pinned all of his strength on the Pit bull, now he is on top of him, Mack’s backside is slammed into the sticky and dirt soaked ground, then the snapping jaws come. Mack knew all the moves he would do, the dog snapped at Mack’s face. “You’re gonna die!” Shouts the lab, his teeth slamming way to close to his nose now. Saliva splats into his eye, the clamor from the audience becoming deafening. Mack needed to beat him. Not because he thought he was better and thought he was the toughest, but because if he was put down, that would leave Lizzie and Stewart alone. If Patrick became disappointed in Mack, death could be just around a corner. That’s what happened to dogs who couldn’t fight-they were disposed of.

The brown canine whispers to the lab as he takes a break and attempts to scare him with more barking. “I’m so sorry…” Mack slides underneath the lab swiftly and bites his stomach so hard that it caused the bloody and yellow dog to yelp in pain. The Pit bull didn’t let go, no matter how much the lab tried to get him off. As Mack was still grabbing onto his opponent’s gut, he threw his head back and ran to one corner of the pit, red fluid poured out of his gut.

From the sheer pain, the dog flopped down and whimpered, he wasn’t dead-but this probably meant he would never fight again.
Humans cheered, some angrily stormed away from the field. More rain began to pour down and soak into the pit bull’s fur, causing it to look darker. Mack stared into the yellow lab as he was now hooked up and ready to go back to the warehouse for a break.

This unknown dog, now lying in a pool of his own blood, crying from excruciating pain. Every injured dog left a permanent image in his brain, perfect nightmare fuel. He was yanked out of the ring-while he had never killed another dog, he always felt deep in his mind that he could easily cause a death.

Patrick, his owner coaxed him with words-his tone lighthearted. Saying things like “It’s brutal dude, but it’s not cruel. It’s a sport Big Mack! You’re good at it! I love ya!”

Of course, came the issue of Mack’s wounds, because they were there. Patrick took this time to bring his animal back to the apartment, stick an IV in him and do some at home veterinary care. No medication he gave truly helped, the pain never truly went away even with all the pain meds he was given. This hurt and certainly was not anything a professional vet would do.

Mack was so fried, that it hardly mattered at this point and time. This was the life he was given, and he would fight for Patrick if it meant staying alive. That was the nature of the dog. Due to Mack’s stamina, he was worth $25,000. A known fact within this gang and perhaps with others.

The yellow lab was later discovered by a fellow gang member, his owner had thrown him down a flight of stairs, leading to the basement of his house to die a slow and bloody death. That’s the name of the game.

  SECTION 2

Stewart was gone when Mack was tossed back into the warehouse by Patrick.  These three never seemed to attack each other like in most cases of dog fighting. These three were a bit different, and the owners of the three canines figured working together would make for a better profit for the entire gang, so they let them hang out since they were much better behaved when they could see each other.

Being that each dog was owned by a separate owner, Stewart and Lizzie fought at different times. Exhaustion hit him, but much worse than tiredness, was guilt. The dog who he had torn up was more than likely just as innocent as he was. All the dogs as far as Mack was concerned, were in the same boat.

He walked slowly through the warehouse, his paws pattering on the cement ground as he slumps in a corner. The place felt musty, the walls covered in dust and holes. Electrical wires stuck out from certain areas. He was also unable to get the smell of his opponent’s blood out of his nose, a smell he knew all too well. He had just been given a quick bath by Patrick, his fur silky, his wounds cleaned out and some even stitched, but inside he felt a surge of violation, a feeling of remorse and unending guilt.

He turned his head, snapping back into reality as Lizzie lied on her stomach. She had not fought today, in fact she didn’t fight often. Maybe her owner didn’t care for her record, she wasn’t the best, compared to Mack and Stewart she was the lowest fighter. The German Shepherd found Mack handsome, but maybe it was more his personality. This place had made him angry, but he undeniably had a coolness and laid back nature when he wasn’t fighting.
She scratched her ear with her front paw before speaking. “You okay?” She knew he wasn’t. He didn’t look at her face as he spoke. “I viciously tore another poor dog up, even more to add to how evil I am. He’ll never fight again I don’t think.” A tear escaped his eye as Lizzie stood up and nuzzled him gently. “You’re a good boy, Mack.” He lies on his stomach, aching in pain a bit, he smelt meat and knew it was almost time for feeding, but it was hard for him to get excited over it, even though his tail did flick ever so slightly when food was mentioned or could be smelled.

Stewart quickly barges in the front door after being released from his master. He shakes his body and stretches. “Another dog bites the DUST!” Mack rolled his eyes and Lizzie turned her head away, almost hoping he’d just ignore the two if they didn’t speak. The Doberman Pinscher still had spots of blood on him, but he wore it as a sort of trophy and not in guilt. “I assume Mack, you won whatever fight you were in? Awesome job I’m sure!” The Pit bull didn’t feel like arguing or telling him how awful he felt, he wouldn’t care. Stewart’s mind was snapped-it was hard to believe that even though he was born here, no dog is truly ‘born’ evil. It really did seem like he was. A few pieces of meat were tossed into the warehouse, the three canines promptly took pieces of raw steak.

Stewart spoke as he ate. “Ya know guys, I’m almost getting bored of attacking dogs. I wonder what humans would be like to attack?” Lizzie and Mack both felt quite uncomfortable with this idea. Stewart continued speaking in a cocky and malevolent way. “Like, I wonder what their flesh is like to dig into? I would imagine a human would be easier to fight, they only have two legs and most are probably pretty bad at fighting, and they don’t have teeth or claws. Helpless creatures they are-but damn, probably would make a fine meal!” Mack pretended he heard none of it, Lizzie shrugged just so she wouldn’t get in trouble for ignoring him. “I bet my owner would be proud if I brought down some seven year old or something.” He chuckled. “If it pleased him, I would do it. In a heartbeat. That little bastard would be mine.”

Mack felt a bit sick to his stomach. A kid? Stewart wanted to kill a KID? How often did he fantasize about that? Why did that thought please him so much? He spoke of it like he had been thinking it for a really long time. He smirked as he continued to think on his depravity.

The brown pit bull soon found himself with his owner, running on a treadmill in an abandoned building directly next to the warehouse, a large collar around his neck. Running at full speed, with the 30 year old human that tormented him. Yelling at him to run faster, Mack knew he reached his limit, but his legs carried him quicker. Anything to not get a beating or steroid injection, which had not happened to him in quite a while. He panted heavily, his legs throbbing…keep going! Keep it up! No beating or bloody bruises if you do good! He knew once he’d come back, every bone in his body would ache. That was his life, fighting or torturing himself to meet high expectations. No matter how hard his heart pounded or his head hurt, the violence would be skipped and he’d get a treat or at least a few loving pats. It was worth it. It always was.

Mack slept soundly that night, even though he rested on cold cement, Lizzie was right by him offering him nuzzles and whispers of comfort if the dog had a nightmare and woke for a few seconds. He wished he could at least have pleasant dreams of running and catching a rubber ball or being treated by a human companion who actually cared for him, at least then he would be away from the hellishness of this place he knew as home. Was there anything beyond the abuse and the fighting for him? For a fighting dog, especially a Pit bull, perhaps this was the life for him.

In the early morning hours, Stewart and Lizzie both lie lazily upon the concrete floor, Mack had not gotten a wink of sleep. His body ached due to the fighting he had endured, the running on the treadmill and his stomach weak from the lack of food he was given. The dog stands up, puts his nose to the ground and sniffs for a while. Mack stopped and stood silently, looking at the walls. The darkness becoming easier for him to see in, looking around at this messy warehouse, seeing what shapes were casted in the darkness. Everything looked like a shadow, but the darkness did not bother Mack much. He had much scarier things to fret about.

 SECTION 3

Patrick was never in a good situation. From the time he was a teenager, he was always pressured to join gangs. To make money was hard, he sold drugs to middle school kids for a bit, but realized it was boring.

When he was in his late twenties, his friends would tell him about the world of dog fighting. How much money could be made by having a top dog, plus he wouldn’t have to do much work. He was handed magazines, of how to train them. Items you could buy off of websites to ‘make your dog stronger’. A friend of his had an ‘in’ to this culture of brutality. He began watching the fights from afar, feeling a lot of adrenaline as he watched two huge dogs go at it and rip each other apart. He wanted a part of this from that moment on. Lots of things were arranged for him to get his hands on Mack. He was quite psyched when he got an American Pit bull puppy. One of the best breeds in his mind.

From the moment Mack was in his life, he began injecting him with small needles in his messy, one floor apartment. Clothing scattered about, the sounds of other dogs in cages could also be heard from the same room, wailing and crying for a parent who would never come. Sometimes the puppy would get to roam the house, smelling the old food that stained the carpet, looking at the ripped up couch and the small television which didn’t work half of the time. He would sometimes try to peer into the cages of the other canines, who reacted in either terror of tiredness.

Like any dog, Mack became terrified of his situation, and once tried to bite Patrick, but that soon was met with no meal for the entire day. When he was fed, raw meat was distributed. In this smelling, damp apartment, the puppies that Mack was surrounded with seemed to die off due to fights that would be held or improper body care, and Patrick would coax Mack every day for doing seemingly bad things, but at the time Mack did not know this was not how every dog was treated. When he was young, he accepted it. For two years, Patrick spent an upwards of $500, getting him special food and buying vaccinations from underground magazines and websites specifically for dog fighting.

As Mack got older, he would go through what dog fighters called ‘roll ins’, where Mack would fight another dog for about five minutes outside of the apartment, letting him get beat and get accustomed to the process of a match. All of this fighting happened on a chain-once he became a teenager, he was ready for an off the chain fight.

The morning of one of his first fights started off quite normal. Waking up to the sound of whining pups was a frequent awakening. Patrick held Mack, hugged him then gave him his ration of meat. He started making nervous phone calls, and soon a car ride was in store. This ride lasted for about half hour, and now that Mack was bigger, had to restrain his excitement for fear of angering Patrick. The car full of blankets, fur and even some dried up blood of the canines who never returned. This was a bit exciting, he was able to look out the window to the busy town, full of worn down homes, humans in groups walking about and blaring loud music. Sometimes he’d see someone walking another dog, a dog who was beat up or missing a leg.

The fight took place in a large home, one of the gang members owned this area. The sounds of shouting humans was the same as every other fight. Similar amounts of money thrown. Mack had no time to investigate his new surroundings as his human was pressuring him to enter the ring.

Once Mack was released, enclosed by metal barriers and Patrick closely watching. This is where bloody scars and tiredness came in. Shortly after, another human came with another grey pit bull. Missing half of a nose. A referee came to watch and keep control of the fight. He would decide when the dogs would stop fighting and who would be the victor.

The two rolled on the ground, one on top of another, it was all blur. Heads bashed in, tails bitten and gushed blood. Clawing, barking, dogs swearing at each other.

The fight was interrupted by the two quitting due to extreme exhaustion, but the humans did not want that. Instead, for thirty seconds, the two were sponged off with warm water in corners far away from each other and tended to a bit, the two dogs whimpered as they did not want to fight again, this was fearful, plus Mack’s chest was beginning to burn due to the heaviness of the blows he was taking.

No matter, the two were forced to go back at it.  The brown pit bull delivered the final blow by making an unexpected bite towards his opponent’s eye, tearing it out of its socket. The fight lasted five minutes in total. Patrick rejoiced by giving Mack some belly rubs. That night, the grey dog was beaten by the human who had bet on him.

Mack ended up being in similar fights, and winning them all. The matches would end pretty much all the same, with him on his back, panting, mouth open, tongue hanging out, labored breathing and begging for a break. Patrick realized Mack had gameness and willpower to stay in the box and not be afraid.

In between these awful events, Mack was subjected to daily training, usually taking place outside in a large field. Large ropes hanging from trees, which Mack had to run up and bite, even swimming in a large tank. No breaks. No remorse. No justice for the evil done.

As he sat in his cage into the late hours of the evening, listening to the distant sound of cars, lifting his head up at happy barking from other furry neighbors. His mind wandered to when his next meal would be, like it always did.

His second thought was if he would go back to his mom. He had not seen her in so long, before he knew it he was whisked away by whoever this human was keeping him hostage. Little Mack spent most evenings crying towards the window of the apartment, overlooking the dark alley ways where heavy drugs and prostitution was a normal routine, and banging on the cage door which his owner slept in another room ignoring him. Mack found it also quite interesting, among the discarded snacks in the living room, he spotted a pile of what his owner called ‘magazines’. Some open, some closed. Photos inside included pictures of dogs who looked just like him, some were different colors, or had different ear shapes. They were big and covered in blood and fur from other dogs. Some were missing facial features, faces split open, eyes gouged and some were on steroids. He of course could not read or comprehend the information, but big numbers were beside these photos, along with paragraphs of text. What were these strange papers for? He was oblivious to the cold hard fact that the dogs listed in these magazines were bought, sold and at the mercy of other humans like Patrick. Advertisements included types of medicines to give canines to help them resist pain, others were exercise equipment. Sleep didn’t come easily, for every time he shut his eyes, he saw his own teeth buried in the flesh of that poor grey dog. He cries gently.

Late in the afternoon, Mack had found himself pinned down by Patrick, a sharp pain had entered his shoulder-and he suddenly became groggy and could not control his motor skills. His heart pounded, fear struck, but he could not do anything about it.

He found his mouth being forced open, his tongue exposed, he tried to move his eyeball to avoid looking at what was happening, it was something like a twisted dental experiment. His ear perked as he heard a new and terrifying noise dangerously closing in on his face, the sound of a whirring machine, high pitched and irritating.

Between his jaws being forced open and unable to move, he thought maybe he would die right here. He felt extreme pressure on one tooth for about a half hour, then another for a half hour and another. The smell and sensation of the small, rounded saw instrument made the dog nearly hyperventilate, but he decided he shouldn’t move. This is what Patrick wanted. What he wanted was what happened. The feeling of a plastic glove invading his gums was perhaps the most frightful. Patrick felt Mack’s teeth were sharp enough and the procedure came to an end.

Mack was weighed a few short days after the tooth sharpening. He was ready for the championship fight. Mack up against another famous pit bull who had taken home many awards and big money.

After showing some identification to an armed guard, Patrick and Mack entered a new building. Full of new smells and new terrifying sensations. This abandoned school gym, full of dust, the sounds of screaming and cheering humans echoed. The pit bull was put on a chain as Patrick went to a group of gang members to discuss how much money the fight would be in the end. If Patrick won this fight, he’d be given a million dollars. He was pumped.  Money was given out, laughter and jokes followed.

The gym dark apart from a few light bulbs that hung from the ceiling, the glass windows were shut to the world and the walls sound proofed. Mack tried to resist, he tried to stop Patrick from throwing him in the middle of a giant circle the humans had made, but it was no use. He was thrown into a ring. No way out. No mercy. No game without sweat and blood.

He had to fight a female white Pit bull. Before the two were released, Patrick held Mack by the neck, another man held the white pit bull by her neck. A bigger male came into asses the area like at all fights, once this was done-he yelled “Release your dogs!”

Not trying to cry due to the punishment he’d be given, he wailed away on the dog. Whispering ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ to her as he bit and tore at her flesh. It was a rough, but short fight which ended by Mack snapping her neck, nothing fatal but it was excruciating. She was taken out of the ring-Mack was pulled out quickly and hailed as the victor. Praises were given, high fives were given as well among the humans. They loved this. This was their game.

Mack was even going to put on a dog fighting championship website and to an underground publication to teach other people interested in joining the sport. He was well known now. It was time for him to meet some other friends, dogs that were part of his team and that he’d have to get along with.

Life did change for a while though. When first entering the warehouse he knew so well, Lizzie the German Shepherd met him with a calm and nervous demeanor, they sniffed each other for a bit, the large space caused Mack to go into a searching frenzy, while also glancing over his shoulder to introduce himself to Lizzie.

A way out seemed impossible, and as the evening went on hope drained more and more. Stewart right off the bat was a pain, shouting at the Pit bull that it’s ‘my way or the highway’. Ironic though, it was that Doberman who had the biggest impact on Mack as he ate his ration of raw meat for the first time in his new environment.

Stewart was commanding, he was egotistical, hated playful puppy things. As dark as events did get, even Mack and Lizzie would sometimes paw at each other or find something in the warehouse to chase. Stewart seemed to not be a victim, but Mack found that hard to grasp. The fighting, the bloodshed and dealing with the harsh and unloving nature of life. This black furred and crazy eyed dog seemed so oddly at ease, so okay with violence and hatred. No one is born evil, but as far as an answer goes for Stewart, his mind snapped not in a fearful way, but he retaliated and became conceded and love this vicious sport.

From the moment Mack arrived at the warehouse, he knew the only way to escape dog fighting, was to leave it behind and face the deadly consequence of Stewart should he be caught.

 Present Day

 With one snap of his jaw, Mack had injured a fellow American Pit bull, rendering his mouth useless, the front of the dog’s face nearly torn off by the force of Mack’s grip. Before doing so, he whispered ‘I’m sorry’ like every time, but he still became sick as he looked at the silver furred creature, lying on his back, his paws sprawled out and his muzzle shredded with teeth marks and spewing blood which shot straight into the air in little bursts, his heart barely beating. The shouts from the humans surrounding the ring, smelling of strong drugs and beer never failed to make Mack uncomfortable, even though he had been through this his entire life. Poor silver dog would be killed or tossed away like the others Mack had seriously hurt.

Patrick took the dog outside, washed the fresh blood off of him and tossed him back into the warehouse where Lizzie had not yet returned. The cycle would start. Fear, depression, eating, then depression again. All day, it would be like this. Today, he beat an innocent life nearly to death. Standing up to Stewart would not be easy, but if he could take Lizzie with him-maybe mentally he’d feel a lot better. Whether he lived or died trying, was totally up to fate and strategy.

The early morning rolled around, the sun attempting to peek through the clouds. Stewart slept far away from the German Shepherd and Pit bull.

Mack nudged his friend and began licking her ear. She groggily looked to him. “What is it?” She stretched, sticking her haunches up in the air, her upper body flat and front paws out as much as possible. Mack stood to her side, his tone a whisper, but with an assertive edge. “I’m leaving. Tonight.” She stood up, shaking her body quickly. “Stewart will find you.” He sighed and began walking, careful his nails against the floor didn’t make too much noise. “Too bad. I’ll fight him. The killing of innocent dogs, the weird machine that damn human runs me to death on. I’m done. I want out.” He glances over his shoulder, looking into her brown eyes and long muzzle, like all of her breed had. “You’ve been so helpful, so caring. I-I needed to ask if you wanted to come.” To Lizzie, Mack had always sounded like a jock, his mannerisms and his tone. It was strange to hear someone of that demeanor be so open, her tail wagged a bit and she nuzzled him. “I will help you all I can.”

These two would try things never attempted, escape had always been such a scary thought, and so was staying. It was a no win situation for so long, plus the two had first come here when they were teens, strength was certainly not in their favor. The two had fought a lot of dogs, and they knew how to fight. It seemed like a good time for an escape. Now or never, and the chance for a light to be at the end of this lamentable tunnel was worth it. The crates offered nothing, their noses pressed against the wood and covering every inch. It was amazing that the two couldn’t find any exit or any items to help them within this huge space. Not that no one ever tried, it would not be that easy. The only way out, was the front door-one chance. Mack and Lizzie formed a plan-and they knew the one that would be ruthless to catch them was Stewart. A human would be easy to out run, but the Doberman could be an issue.

The two decided to go to a corner, way in the back of the warehouse and sleep-for a big day would be upon them. Retribution day.

 SECTION 4

The morning was met with the sound of Stewart sniffing. Lizzie and Mack stood up from behind one of the many large crates, keeping their paws to the ground and not looking as submissive as usual, they met Stewart with anger and silence. The black dog approached them, circling them. “Why the long faces comrades? You both have been doing so well, crushing opponents and exercising. I’m proud of you both.” He licked both Mack and Lizzie, the two did not move. They waited, they watched the big metal door. Their ears perked, every sound amplified, even though the cement walls-which were no match for a dog’s acute sense of sound.

The sounds of cars driving, people yelling and a cold autumn wind blowing could be heard. Mack wasn’t in great shape, worse than he was a few weeks ago. His side of his face still deformed slightly, more scars and bruises covered his body. Lizzie also had frizzy fur and quite sharp looking teeth from her owner sharpening them. Tails down, hearts pounding and breathing rapid. Staring. Waiting. Watching. Any moment now.

The door clicked, out came Patrick, the overweight owner of Mack.

Being that Lizzie was a bit bulkier, she ran first, right between his legs, causing him to fall face first. Mack followed directly behind, before running away completely, with all of his might, he clamped down on Patrick’s leg, followed by a deafening scream. Time moved in slow motion, sound became nonexistent as Mack clamped on Patrick’s leg and jerking his head back, revealing a large, bloody muscle. “I TRUSTED YOU! You fucking mutt! You bit me! You fucker!” Mack stood and watched the human who had abused him for a bit longer, wiggle on the floor and die of blood loss.

Outside, the sky is grey, their surroundings quite bleak, to the right a large brick wall, to the left, a long alleyway, surrounded by garbage and food. At the end of all of that, the opening that led to the main city.

The two darted side by side together, aiming for the scent of beautiful freedom. The two made it about halfway through the disgusting ally, Mack fell face first into the cement, clutched onto his backside was Stewart, rabid and barking furiously. “Goddamn it Mack! YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!” He shouts and flips the pit bull over, pinning him down to the cement and using his upper body strength to crush his windpipe. Mack ends up swiping Stewart in the face, causing a bloody and deep scar, but the Doberman does not cower. Mack’s eyes narrowed and he growled from deep within his soul. “Fuck you to hell!” This burst of energy did not last long, the back wound was getting painful and probably made some older wounds worse. Mack’s vision became blurry, he knew this is where he could die. He would spend his last dying breath, knowing he tried to escape and failed, being an inspiration to no dog who would come after him. Stewart now was mere inches from the hurt pit bull, putting his muzzle right into his eye.

Lizzie comes charging out from behind a garbage heap in the corner, running into Stewart and toppling him, Mack stands up swiftly and coughs deeply. Lizzie had the upper hand as she bites the black dog’s pointy ear and not letting go. Warm blood flows between her teeth as Stewart wails in pain. Using brute strength, Stewart flips himself over, causing Lizzie to hit her head against a metal pipe which had fallen from the building directly above her and blacked out for a moment. As the Doberman breathes heavily, he notices something at the front of the alleyway.

He smiles a toothy grin, his eyes narrow as he focuses on a young man taking his garbage to a nearby dumpster. About 18 years old, 5 feet, short blonde hair. Looking content as he had done this many times before. Stewart, covered head to toe in blood and filthy from rolling in the garbage, speaks in a tone that he had never spoken in before, a tone that not only read evil, but insanity. “Ohhh…fresh meat! Maybe a teenager is more my style today. Maybe you two weaklings are boring me! I have a new enemy to take care of” He laughs loudly, Mack had never heard such an intense sound come from Stewart, he begins to briskly walk towards the human, shouting over his shoulder. “Not only, could you not both save yourselves from the real world of fighting in a ring, but you couldn’t save the life…of one…innocent human!” The dog lets out a furious bark and charges at the kid, four legs bang on the cement, showing his jagged teeth and knowing that no human was fast enough to outrun him.

Mack gets his bearings and realized in a flash what was going on, he had only half heard Stewart’s speech. Stewart’s was now darkness and despair. He had gone out like some of the other dogs associated with the blood sport of fighting. Evilness had grasped his soul and wouldn’t let go. Mental illness had taken over, violence was all he knew and that’s how he would die if Mack had anything to do with it. The pit bull ran, not far behind Stewart. Sadly, Mack heard the tear of flesh and a shriek of pain, Stewart pinned the young man to the sidewalk. His left hand in the tight and painful grip of the jaws of death.

The human lied on his side, falling against the sidewalk. A few pedestrians who were on the same sidewalk gasped and tried to kick the black dog off of him.

Suddenly, Mack leaps into the air and dug his front paws into Stewart’s back. He felt his nails dig right into his flesh like tiny knives, the Doberman barked in pain and growled.

The canine let go of the human and attempted to use his back strength to slam his opponent up against the buildings which aligned the alleyway.

A dog fight had emerged, other humans watched in terror, someone dialed 9-1-1. Lizzie quickly joined in the fight, the spectacle was bloody and vicious. Two dogs gaining up against one rabid canine. The three of them, covered blood and biting left and right.

Police were called to the scene, a pedestrian had called to tell them that two dogs had indeed been fighting and looked like it was not the first time. With the last of his energy, Stewart runs toward another pedestrian, but now that cops surrounded the area, he was dead as soon as he was shot by an armed officer.

Not far behind the alleyway, came the warehouse. Various officers and members of the humane society came in to pick Mack and Lizzie up to bring him to safety, a place they never knew existed.

Cops entered the building, they found classic signs of dog fighting within this large space. The bloody walls, the raw meats, the treadmills. Bottles of medication and steroids were also here. The saddest sight? The yellow lab from a while ago, at the bottom of the stairs, covered in blood and long dead. Patrick had died of blood loss. News cameras came to look at the scene, considering this event one of the biggest dog fighting ring busts ever.

 Hours Later…

 Warm water cascaded down his brown fur. Every breath labored, opening his eyes proved to be difficult, so he only half opened them. The sounds of human voices surrounded his ears, soft and kind tones-sometimes he’d even feel a petting upon his head. “Good boy. You’re doing a good job, buddy. Don’t cry.” After the warm water was shut off, time seemed to disappear again.

Now Mack lied on a very comfortable surface, a mattress. He felt wires on his chest and a rhythmic beeping coming from a machine. For the first time in his life, he felt relaxed. Little pinches of pain would come and go, but in the end it made his fresh wounds feel hundreds of times better. He felt groggy and automatically fell asleep completely.

Once he woke up, he found himself in a cage. Nervousness hit him, sniffing all the corners of the area, this living space was much bigger than the one he was thrown into when he was a puppy. Unlike the apartment, this place smelt nice, and while other dogs were here, they all sounded happy. Beyond the bars of his kennel, Mack saw the unthinkable-humans playing with dogs. Playing fetch, belly rubs, treats. This was heaven.

Throughout the day, the pit bull was treated extremely well, but it took time for him to get used to everything. Being skittish was his first reaction. It was so strange to be handed toys and offered words of compassion and kindness. News of the alleyway dog fight spread fast. The radio happened to be on a few days after Mack arrived at the adoption center, Mack lied on his stomach as some students from various schools looked at his wounds.

Crazed Doberman attacks an innocent human by the name of James Walsh. What’s miraculous about this story? A pit bull saved James’s life by attacking the rabid canine and taking him on while James escaped to the police. The vicious dog was shot by authorities before he could do any more damage, the pit bull is now recuperating in the local pet adoption center.

 One Month Later…

 The teenager made a full recovery, the hand which was bitten would recover, but he would forever lose a lot of mobility. James lived with his parents, both very supportive through the time of healing. Living in a two floor house, he was far from poor-but certainly was not rich.

Writing school papers was a bit tougher, but he seemed to manage quite well. What made James truly melancholy and full of fear, were the nightmares. Sleep did not come easily, nightmares of rabid dogs tearing him limb from limb was a common image he had to deal with as his shut his eyes. Some nights, he woke up with a yelp and couldn’t get back to sleep until the sun peaked among the clouds. The image haunted him, he remembered it all. The teeth digging into his hand, the blood spewing, the ferocious look in Stewart’s wild eye. The sounds of the deep growling, these things would forever be in his mind, even in a waking state, he sometimes couldn’t get those violent images out.

If James was home alone, he’d picture that same dog, busting through his living room window like a jump scare in a horror movie, grabbing his neck and tearing his head nearly off its neck. Then, the dog would sit patiently, then kill his parents in a similar fashion. No protection, no one to watch over him. He felt defenseless. He told his parents his fears, getting someone to watch over him twenty four seven seemed impractical. He felt safe at school, but coming home from school and waiting for his parents to come home from work was toughest. Every creak would cause James to lock up the entire place and stay in one spot. No matter how many psychologists he had seen, this fear didn’t seem to subside.

One day, he said his true feelings, something that would shock his parents. He wanted a dog. The last thing they expected, and at first they were apprehensive-what if this would set him into even a bigger fear? What if this made him an agoraphobic? The negative connotations seemed to swirl in the minds of the mom and dad. To prove himself, James begged his parents to bring him to a dog park, to show them that he could handle being around canines. Strange as it may seem, he got a lot of joy out of seeing other dogs. He liked there happy and peppy personalities. For weeks after, he talked of how great having an animal companion would be. How fantastic it would be for him not to only play with him, but to protect him during those uncertain afternoons.

Mack was now getting out almost every day, he loved everyone that worked in the building he was at, not only this-he loved going out in the giant yard.

The other dogs would ask him questions about the dog fighting ring, and he gladly answered everything. Mack was the ‘cool dude’. Some of the dogs were calm, some were bossy with good intentions, but the pit bull was known for his love of wrestling, loud laugh and honest heart. He was the ‘jock’, the guy who’d help anyone. Sure, he got bored easily, but this was him and he had no reason to hide his true feelings anymore. Eating amazing dog food, and sometimes getting pieces of meat every day felt awesome. He had so much more energy, his soul jumped for joy every day to welcome a new adventure, whether it would be lazing around or going outside and talking and playing, the days here seemed to get better and better. There was a day however, that topped them all. It meant leaving his friends-it meant the start of a new life.

On the day, he had heard new human voices speaking. He was a bit startled to see a new face peering through the bars of his cage, it wasn’t so much the face that struck him, but the scent. He knew the scent. He sat up to greet the teen, the dog could feel his excitement. He couldn’t believe his nose, he couldn’t believe who he was looking at, and it was James Walsh. Mack knew it, and the young man knew it. It was apparent that James made his choice as who he wanted to adopt and Mack was happy to go home with him.

The two spent a little while taking a walk, the owners of the center spoke of Mack’s past, of course they didn’t know every detail. It was clear from Mack’s playful jumping and James’s laughter, Mack was the pup for him. His first dog ever.

Mack sniffed every inch of the car, the teen insisted on sitting with the dog in the back seat to hug him. With an arm around his broad shoulders, the pit bull put on a big smile and a few puppy licks. He got excellent vibes from everyone, James had a calm and excited tone, not too loud, but full of emotion. His parents also gave the pit bull a lot of attention, every time Mack heard his name mentioned, his tail would wag a bit more as he gazed at the one who was talking about him.

At the house, James spent the majority of time following his new companion around as he learned new things, smelt new items and learned the rules of the home. He would get a comfortable recliner to sleep on, which he preferred only when he could sit on his friend’s lap.

The afternoon was met with some backyard running and ball throwing, of course Mack could have gone on for hours doing that. Happily barking and ramming into James’ legs as playful rough housing.

Sometimes, James would just sit in the lawn with Mack and relax, basking in the sun and talking to his dog. Telling him his issues at school, teachers who were too strict or homework that defied explanation. Stress seemed to almost be a thing of the past now that Mack was in his life.

Every morning, James ran downstairs from his bed room to pour himself coffee and greet his pup. Never once did he mention that the side of his dog’s face was slightly deformed. He seemed to look cuter every single day as far as he was concerned. Mack lied at his feet as he woke up. Once the big yellow bus came to pick up James, slight panic seized Mack. Would he come back? No more treats? No more belly rubs? Usually, James’ mom would take him out to go to the bathroom one last time before going to work-and this was something Mack didn’t really like. Being left home alone. For like James, he also had fears-fears he would not have had if he hadn’t lived such a depraved life for sure. No matter though, this was heaven. No beatings, no swearing, no biting other dogs. Just a quiet house and plenty of toys to keep him occupied.

The afternoon would roll to a start, James leapt off the bus, first one home always. The human would spend hours sitting on the recliner with his best friend, letting Mack sit right in his lap. Sometimes the two would watch TV, but nothing violent, since the sounds of yelling brought Mack to a full panic attack. Sometimes the two would nap. James had not had anxiety in an extremely long time. Mack was his hero. His savior, and also kept him laughing. He was not immune to the usual dog tricks.

Grabbing things off of counters and running wild with them. He was always the one to start play wrestling with James, never did Mack attempt to bite anyone again. Especially never James. Mack felt the young man’s frailness at times, he respected others who were not always as boisterous or confident. Then, dad would come home, give Mack some more attention and sometimes slipped him beef jerky if his wife wasn’t looking.

Every single day, James thought of how lucky Mack was. He could have so easily died in his previous situation, but now this was a clean slate. A new life. A new Mack.

At the dog park where James and his dad would go to let the pit bull run about every day, Mack was greeted to the usual pups. The green grass tall, the sun beating down, the sky blue. A few labs, a couple of big dogs slam into him and chuckle. “Hey man!” “Sup!” “Big Mack!” The group ram into each other, licking, sniffing rear ends and playfully nipping as James and his parents sat on a nearby bench. Balls were thrown and caught, Mack was asked a lot about his new owner. “He’s the best guy ever! Sweet and he’s my kid. I love humans, human are awesome! Would do anything for him!”

Suddenly, he smelled a familiar smell, he dashes for it in an energetic state. He speaks loudly. “Lizzie!” The German Shepherd and Pit bull roll around together. “How the hell are you?”
The two end up lying in the grass side by side as the other pups get distracted by bugs and toys. “My owner is a kind girl, she has kids and they love me..I guess!” she softly chuckles. “My human is named James, the kid we rescued.” Of course, Lizzie had to go over to see him. “Mack, you’re a hero. I hope you know that. You’re a good boy, Mack! I always told you that.” James decided to join all the dogs for hours. Ball throwing was Mack’s favorite and he was amazing at it. Doing flips and catching it between his large mouth, the spitting the slob covered ball at his owner’s feet. This was a sport the pit bull was known for around town, any kid who threw a ball and lost it, Mack could retrieve it. He was a master.

As James slept, wrapped in blankets and his companion lying beside him, he still would get nightmares about the biting. Same images, same dog. Waking up in a cold sweat was not nearly as painful as it was before hand, for as soon as it would happen, Mack would be there to give sloppy kisses on the face and sniff around, sometimes lying right on top of James and looking around the room for potential dangers. The human would whisper to the dog, ‘sorry for waking you up’ and all sorts of things.

Mack also had moments where he would groan or slightly bark in his sleep due to disturbing images of being in the ring or flashbacks to when he was a puppy. James was there to give him warm hugs and loving words or maybe even a treat. Sometimes, at one in the morning, he would silently sit was Mack and cuddle. Listening to the soft sounds of crickets or the neighbor’s TV sets, or sometimes Mack would pant loudly, with a big grin on his face and tail wagging. But tonight, the bedroom was the warmest place to be since winter would be coming.

James and Mack had a true, unbreakable bond. Something that Mack never thought he’d have, and something he knew for sure every dog deserved-no matter the breed or their dark pasts. Love and affection was the light at the end of the black tunnel he called his life. The night ended as Mack’s chin rested on top of warm blankets, his eyes droopy and his heart warm.

END

Impact (Short Story)

IMPACT- By: Aaron B.

PLOT: A Police Dog’s life is forever altered by a gruesome and unpreventable accident.

Note: The following was written as an assigned project for my Driver’s Ed class. 

He was down, I knew it. Right as my jaw clamped around his wrist-my partner stood behind me, pistol raised and getting ready to get his handcuffs and get yet another baddie in the city of Boston, I knew the name of the city because I had heard it so many times on Mike’s radio.

The room we’re in is quite musty, smells awful – a one floor apartment. The lighting not very good, floors made of hardwood. The living room has one TV in the corner and one ripped up leather couch. Underneath the floorboards is where I smell the worse smell of all; drugs. Meth, coke, anything you can conjure up and perhaps more. As I leave the dank apartment with my buddy, my four legs start to ache. A lot of running, sniffing and jumping was doing a number on me. Mike made everything better, with a simple rub between the ears or a treat once we got into our cruiser. I know after catching this drug seller, we’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight once everything is called in and we’re home.

My friend and fellow officer, in his 30’s. He loves animals. He is divorced, but hey that doesn’t matter, I’d like to think he’s much happier with me anyway. We live together in a two story home, no kids, only trusted friends and other officers come to hang and have a BBQ or spend the day relaxing if the job allows it. Could I live an easier life as a dog? Sure. I’ve seen dogs at home with no job, but resting all day and thumping my tail uselessly on the floor just is not my thing. Running, getting dirty, catching those who probably deserve it is my thing. I like to feel needed and maybe others of Mike’s species seem to think I’m doing a good job. All the schools we go to, I can tell Mike speaks nicely. Can I understand all he says? Nah, but tone is everything with me.  Tone and whether you’ll give me food or not can determine how good of friends we’ll be.

The ride home is quiet, sitting in the passenger side.  The bad guy thrown in a locked cell at the station.  A content feeling washes over the two of us. Since the evening is cool, he lets me stick my head out the window.  It feels freeing and I like the feeling of surveying my entire city. If other dogs are walking, I do get stares, from smaller canines especially. Always like they’ve done something wrong, when probably all they did was urinate in their neighbors’ yard and are internally saying ‘hope that’s not illegal, hope that’s not illegal!’. Mike and I aren’t after them, so they’re pretty safe.

As we enter our house, my black police vest is slipped off, Mike gives me some supper as he sits to watch TV. He lets me outside back, with a nice long chain – I hate the chain and the rubbing on my neck, but it’s better than being cooped up.

I lie on my stomach, looking at how much of the porch light illuminates the ground beneath me, fooling with my paws, smelling them, sniffing the deck and listening to the sounds of cars going by in the far distance. Very fun stuff. Try it next time you’re at home with nothing to do. My triangular ears perk however, when I hear the sound of someone I know. I sit on my haunches, my tail thumps a bit back and forth, two eyes look at me and the pitter patter of paws approach a few feet from me. A white dog, about 18 pounds with V-shaped ears, narrowing to the eyes and slightly flat between the ears. A defined but not over pronounced stop at the end of the muzzle where it meets the head and a black nose.

Her name is Chloe, a smooth coated Jack Russell Terrier. Her tone sweet and very hyper. “Hey Caine! You smell nice!” I know. You might think that’s weird, but smell is what everything is about with us. She looks at me with such positivity, such light in her almond eyes. She nuzzled my brown and black coat, being that I’m a German Shepherd, I am quite larger than her. I give her a smirk. “I’m good! Tired, but good.” I don’t know what it is she likes about me. That I’m a cop? My deep voice? The muscles? All of the above? She speaks again, this time taking a seat next to me, ears cocking, exchanging glances. “Catch any bad guys?” I shrug. “Some guy on drugs; nothing huge I suppose. City is full of dopes and fiends, ready to sell or do things that they know they shouldn’t.” Chloe maybe only got half of that. “Caine? How do you know so much about humans? I love my companion. He feeds me, houses me, pats me, rubs my belly, but you say things that I just don’t get.” I think a bit. “With my line of work, you meet so many of them, maybe my mind is trained to examine them.”

The pup lied on her back now, among the grass, scratching bugs maybe. “You’re special, Caine. Unlike any other of our species I’ve ever met.” I think I blushed. “Thank you, just a regular dog doing what he likes.”

As the morning rolled around, I waited for Mike to get dressed and head back for a hopefully non-threatening day. I said a brief goodbye to my neighbor Chloe before getting into the cruiser. So many other cars on the road, I wonder how he keeps track of everything. I don’t even pretend to know what he’s doing that actually gets us from point A to point B.

Looking out the window and smelling all the restaurants we pass or the occasional coffee shop we stop at is quite enough to keep me occupied. I like to hear the faint sound of the police radio on the ‘dashboard’ I think Mike calls it. The back seat of course is caged, so I’m usually not back there. It’s not for dogs or law abiding citizens, that’s for sure.  I like to look at others walking there dogs. Funny how oblivious most of my kind is to violence. Well, I hope they’re oblivious. As I stare out the passenger side window, sitting straight up and hopefully giving a good impression, I do remember a few details. Not that we have great memories, but when I see a certain species I’ve worked with on a case, it tends to stick and I’m reminded of things. One of my first cases with him was when I saw what a great heart he had.

We had been driving for a long while, we had gotten a call of a disturbance near a warehouse, and it was pitch dark. Mike ordered me to silently stand to his side as we walked the sidewalk and approached the dirty, dingy building. It was our second year working together, we’re now on our eighth.

I smell hotdogs. Sorry, as I say, we pass a lot of food places and Mike was just getting himself a coffee. Ahhh…I’d bark for one of those beefy beauties!

Anyway, we approached this building I was a bit tenser and more growly than usual. I had no idea what to expect. My priority is him and those around me. I knew that, and whatever was going on here was dangerous. My gut told me so.  Mike told me to pipe down. I was about to bark and didn’t even know it. I needed to shut it. That bark could have ruined everything if a perp happened to be hiding and ran for it.

The large metal door creaks, we hear the sounds of crying. Crying puppies. The inside of this warehouse, covered in large wooden boxes, dust covers the floor. The only light that bounces off the area is the flashlight my buddy held. My paws click against the wooden surface, sniffing each and every crate, staying a few feet in front of Mike. As we walked the place, I started to smell blood on the floor. I could see it, but vision is not a dog’s specialty usually. No, I don’t see in black and white – a common human error. As soon as my human friend saw the drips of blood, back up was called in.

Well, we walked to the end of the building and I ran over to the sound of whining. Turns out, it was a litter of puppies. Some jerk had left a bunch of pups in the warehouse, unfed, malnourished. Why? Did he or she not want them? What would the reason be? I remember that image and it sent my heart to the pit of my stomach. Who was the human who left them there? They were obviously hurt by someone, judging by the bruises I inspected on them.

Those pups were so happy to see a cop dog, hopping on me the moment they knew it was safe and acting all excited. THAT was a moment that said to me, stay on the force because there’s true evil in the world. If I can stop one less crime that makes the world a better place. Mike still calls the owners who decided to adopt those cute pups to this day. That’s why I said he truly cares. Always keeping up with those who have been victimized…

BANG. Damnit! My eyes snap open, back to reality. A terrifying reality. Our cruiser was spinning uncontrollably. I didn’t see anything. I was busy in my own world, sort of falling in and out of sleep, reminiscing on the puppy case.

I notice the driver’s side door, busted, glass everywhere. I let out a few barks. I hear Mike scream. I had never heard a grown man scream so loud in my life. The cruiser tumbled to one side, with an equally loud smash. I whimper as I slam onto my friend’s body…I take deep breaths. My vision is a bit off. My head hurts immensely. Where are my bearings? Nowhere, whatever happened it was quick and vicious.

The driver’s side pinned down to the pavement, leaving the passenger door sticking straight up into the air. The sound of the car horn, going off and on. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I don’t cry, even though out of pure terror I feel like I could give in. This is no time for panicking. I don’t think my friend is alive. I try to stand up to remove myself from the vehicle that would definitely never move again. Okay, well I know nothing about the cars that humans drive, but I KNEW I would never see that cruiser again. A sharp pain suddenly hits my back leg. I feel warm liquid pool down, I take one look and my left leg has a shard of glass sticking out from it from the shattered back window. Jammed in among the fur and right into my pink skin. Another deep breath, the sound of the horn is becoming deafening. I nuzzle Mike’s face, not standing, but still lying on my side. His body contorted in a way I knew human bodies weren’t supposed to look. Mangled is how I’d describe it. Brown coffee is all over the vehicle, the radio no longer works and just sends out static. My ears twitch as I hear from outside the sound of another blood curdling scream. As I remove myself from the vehicle, it is a slow and painful process hobbling on only three legs. I cussed more times than I ever had.

As I roll onto the pavement, I’m able to look at the destroyed cruiser. Steam rises from the engine, the car’s metal bent, broken, glass covered the asphalt. I hear the scream again, smelling a human and dog I never had before. I turn, looking directly in back of me, hoping that what was there was not this horrible.

Another car is flipped completely over. The underside of the vehicle is what I can see, it’s what’s sticking up in the air. The top of the car is smashed into the cement, the girl and the dog upside down. A blue four door car, the driver is a teenage girl. Beside her in the passenger side is a beagle. I limp as quickly as I can, my left hind leg bleeding and stinging more and more, luckily the car and police cruiser were extremely close together.

I heard her screaming, to a dog that sound is just about the worst as far as noise level. As my snout meets her teary eyed and bloody face, I see she is panicking. Her eyes big, her skin pale and covered in red liquid. The dog beside her was not moving. I didn’t dare look to see what he looked like, but blood was spitting out like a geyser from the poor dog’s mouth and I think his jaw had nearly split in two. The sun was just at an angle that I just saw the shadow. I needed to see no more. I didn’t stop to think why this had happened. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people or good animals. I now see a bleeding teenager in front of me.  I need to get her out.

I bend down low to the open window of the driver’s side. Sticking my rear end up in the air and using my front paws to balance myself like I’m about to stretch the way dogs do, my jaws wrap around the sleeve of her sweatshirt and I pull, thanking whatever dog or human God might be out there that the window was open. I don’t think I could have gotten it open. I pull more, she screams more. I wish I could calm her and talk to her. Her legs exit the car and I keep her lying down on the side of the highway. I laid down fully next to her, keeping my front paw on her stomach and licking her hand gently, she grasps onto my K9 vest like it’s a life-line. I think it was her life line. She looked up at my large face and black wet nose, breathing heavily, but not screaming as much. I wait there with her until an ambulance picks her up. I cock my head left and right, seeing Mike’s car and seeing this girl’s car. Bits of blood, flesh and bone sat between the two vehicles. I take a last deep breath, making my heart rate slow. Most of the bodily debris was from Mike. I could smell him. I knew I would never see him again.

The light is blinding, lying on my side. My eyes feel like they’re glued shut. I feel nothing but a bit of pressure on my left leg. I hear the sound of a rhythmic beeping, something hooked to my chest. I feel…sleepy again.

2 DAYS LATER

A group of amazing humans had fixed me up. Sure, I spent a lot of time at the vet with my leg bandaged, but I was certainly given lots of treats – who am I to complain? The room I was in was quite calming actually. I wasn’t among the barky dogs who sat in the waiting rooms, I had my own bed. The walls white, warm lights streaming down on me. A male and female vet injecting me with feel-good meds. The smells, so weird. From stale and musty smells, to smells of other breeds of dogs in the room across from me, I really don’t know what to focus on. I felt sick most of the time, threw-up even. Did I know everything would be okay? No. That’s the thing with us, one owner dies and we’re in your hands. No way I can speak up and get a nice owner or one that will at least respect me.

For the first time in a while, I felt scared. Once out of the vet, all bets are off. I could get one of those abusers, I could get someone who has me for a day and the moment I make a mistake they send me to the station or wherever cop dogs go when they are not working for someone. Well, I got lucky.

I wasn’t with another cop at least until my leg heals up. I dip my head into a bowl of food, getting used to the new house is a bit much. Resting off my leg and not being able to run around and exercise leaves me bored. As the lights of the living room get turned off, I lie on the very nice brown couch as a Jack Russell Terrier hops at my feet. Chloe takes a deep breath, staring into the darkness of the house with me. She speaks softly. “Caine? I’m so sorry about Mike. I don’t understand what ‘death’ really means, but I know it does mean never seeing someone again.” Crap, I was so tired. Not of her, but I still feel like the crash or accident or whatever it’s called happened hours ago. I sadly play with a tennis ball between my paws, rolling it gently. “I don’t know if I want to be a cop anymore. In one second, my life changed. I thought Mike would be my buddy until the end.  The end meaning me and him getting too old to work and watching TV all night. I didn’t wake up and jump on his bed to play with him the day it happened, I didn’t lick his face extra that day. I didn’t play ball with him. My last memory was of him getting coffee and my eyes half shut.” Chloe nuzzled my paw. “But you’ve saved that girl. She now has her loving family to go back to because of you. She’s going to live a long and happy life because of one cop dog who cared.”

I nod, I can’t disagree with her on that. I could tell Chloe was not used to me being so down and my tone so uninspired, perhaps now getting rude. “I don’t think you get how empty it is. Losing someone, so quickly. You’ve known them for years, worked with them, gained there trust. How can it all be over in one second?” Chloe rests her head on the arm rest of the couch, we’re both crowded on the couch. I cough gently. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be…so abrasive.” The white and brown dog nodded. “I hope we can give you a good new life and that maybe you can get back on the force if you want to. Or, you can just hang out with me here.” I rest my head as well, rain begins to fall from the sky. The sound of the droplets hitting the roof become a bit calming. Thunder booms slightly, but I don’t flinch. “I’ll never forget the sound of screaming. The sound of the horn blaring. The sound of the metal crashing. I still hear it.” Chloe looked to me, I could feel her bodyweight shift. She said nothing for quite a long time and fell asleep. I heard her gentle snoring, I spent the night looking into the darkness. Waiting to hear another bang that I hope wouldn’t happen. I kept my ears open for Chloe and her owner. I bat the tennis ball a little harder, hoping that it’ll cure my anxiety like it always had. Chewing on it gently, trying to lose myself in the thoughts of being an average dog. In the moment.

The rain fell harder. My ears perk as I hear vehicles driving, miles and miles away, splashing through puddles, some listening to music, nothing sounded out of the ordinary. I stopped playing with the ball…turning my attention to the living room window, listening closer to those distant sounds impossible for human ears to pick up. Not moving, but listening. Every time a car drove by I felt a small shudder. Lightning flashes a bit, the thunder gets closer. The rain now a downpour. I look at the droplets on the window, the blue flash of lightning illuminates the living room for a brief moment in time.

I heard the tone of cars in the distance. They scare me. What should be a fun activity for me – I should associate cars with parks and hanging with my buddies and shedding fur on the back seat – now was met with caution and trepidation. Whether I envisioned Mike, mangled and pinned to his driver’s side door, the lifeless beagle or that screaming teenager. The most terrifying thought hit me. The thought that might keep me off the police force. I think whatever happened to Mike could happen to anyone.

END

Unicorn’s Quest: Horned Conquorer

parental-advisory

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Unicorn’s Quest:
Horned Conqueror

Aaron B.

“It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward…”
-Rocky Balboa

Scene 1: The Town of Windhelm

Once upon a time, in the town of Windhelm-puddles of blood and orange and red colored leaves covered the area.
Bodies were hacked and slashed-everything was in ruins.
Some of the more ‘tough guys’, around were still alive-and had faked death, and right after the attackers left-they stood and looked all around.
Not only were about half the town’s people dead-the homes had been burned…ash also covered the autumn leaves on the ground.

This town once thrived with life, sure the houses were a bit too small and the work was often strenuous-but everyone seemed to like each other.
Why was this attack brought on? Was this revenge for someone or something? Was it random? Who ordered the attack?

The ones who lived did ponder these questions, they couldn’t help it.
However-they felt now was the time to mourn the death of friends, both the soldiers and the common folk-the mill workers, the sword makers, the farmers-the ones who kept the town as alive as it was.
For now, everything they had done seemed in vain-due to this unforeseen and brutal attack…

Scene 2: Ira the Unicorn is summoned….

Windhelm was slowly and surely being rebuilt.
The weather was cool; a cold breeze blew through the air.
The sky is a light blue color, not a single cloud is in the sky. The sun shines down, but does not offer much warmth from the fall climate, you could tell winter was approaching.
All the trees had colorful leaves, which fell every once and a while and revealed large branches-some tress in fact had lost all there leaves-giving the land an even bleaker look.

The ground was covered in dirt and dried up grass; the entire area smelt of ash-evidence of the attack was getting smaller, but if you were to look at the faces of everyone building the new structures-you could easily tell that they were heavy hearted.
Some of the people just built without much thought, some seemed to just replay the events over and over again-not forgetting the blood curdling screams and the sound of flesh being sliced and skulls being bashed with mallets.

New comers had seen the devastation and offered to help, men, woman and other creatures.

The one positive to all of this, is that some of these people and mythological beings would now live here, and would offer even more assistance in everyday life.

Among these creatures, was a unicorn-she has all the physical attributes of a horse-one could say that if it wasn’t for her horn-she could with no problem, pull off the look of an average horse-the four legs, the long snout, the sort of stringy tail Being a unicorn though, she of course also had the slightly slanted horn protruding from her forehead, its sort of slanted-like a ‘backslash’.

Her eyes black and shiny-but also filled with emotion, these weren’t soulless eyes, look into them and you can see two things.
One, your own reflection and two-depending on her mood or reaction to something, the tops of her eyebrows would go up and down.

She has a white body, almost the color of fresh snow.
Her mane and tail, contrasted this nicely, both of which were black-like a shiny, black stone.

While most equines in this town were an average height and weight-this newcomer looked quite different.
She was robust-she could easily pass for a bodybuilder-look at her for a bit, especially from the side and it would be apparent that she knew how to take care of herself, her body and legs could be best described as brawny.
She wore a brown, leather blanket which covered her back and went up to the beginning of her neck. Attached to this blanket, a pocket where she kept gold coins to buy various things-she is not poor, her father, Mortous worked for the Equine Guard before dying..so money was no issue.

She trotted around the ruined town, watching people attempt to put everything back in its place-about half of the wooden homes were built.
No one seemed to approach her and offer her to help, which is sort of what she was hoping. She continued to trot around, listening to people have various, but soft conversations-she watched as the new outsiders entered there homes, she also watched as the people who had lived here a long time, try to replicate there old homes exactly-but without much success.

The equine creature walked along and turned a corner, there stood more houses, on two sides of a long path. This would have been considered the entrance to the town square, but instead-all that was left at the end of this path was the local bar, simply called “The Bar”-which a lot of humans and creatures seemed to gather at to try and drink away there problems.
She walked straight for the path and was going to get a drink, however-she heard the sound of a female calling her name, almost a whisper-but a tad bit louder.
“Ira? IRA? Is that you?”

The unicorn’s ears twitched a tiny bit and she cocked her head to the left, and saw who was calling her. Ira then approached this creature-she is about six feet in height. Dressed in a brown, casual skirt-her skin a dark green color, filled with scales.
Her snout protruded to reveal two, squiggly lines, which were her nostrils. Her tiny eyes a yellow color-she was a lizard. No doubt about it. The lizard looked at Ira-she sort of admired her face, and always liked the way horses looked.
The sort of cute, velvet nose-two small, rounded holes represented her nostrils.
“Ira, it’s a pleasure to meet you-I need you, quickly.”
The unicorn casually steps into her one-floored cabin.

To the left, a fire place which kept the home a really nice temperature-and a small table a few feet away from it, a cup and a dirty plate sat on top of it.

To the right, a large bed, behind the bed is a giant bookshelf-filled with potion books and recipes.
Above the bookshelf, an open window and lastly, sleeping in the bed-a pale looking human.

The lizard sits at the table; the unicorn sort of awkwardly looks around at everything in the cabin, she clears her throat and seems to be in deep thought.
The lizard has a normal sounding voice, she speaks very softly-but that could be due to the human being ill.
“Ira, my name is Sigourney.”
She then points to the bed for a brief moment.
“This is Noah, I’ve heard about you-you live in that enchanted forest. You’ve helped others before…you’re quite a hero; you also have a good repertoire with humans?”
The unicorn nods casually.
“Oh yeah, they’re neat!”
Sigourney is at first taken a back of what Ira sounds like.

First off, most unicorns speak in a very precise and very sophisticated manner-Ira tends to use a lot of abbreviations and will even use profanity-something that most unicorns really stay away from, unlike Ira-unicorn’s movements are very methodical…Ira tends to pace a bit more and she always seems full of energy-like she had one to many coffees in the morning.

Even her tone is a bit more ‘up beat’ than all the other unicorns Sigourney has ever run into. She doesn’t have a soothing voice like other unicorns-she’s kind of excited and seems almost hyper.
Ira’s voice also has a bit of a rasp to it, but it is quite slight-however, none of this really mattered to the lizard, she just found it to be very interesting-but she did like Ira’s attitude all ready, so many humans and creatures are quite gloomy-but Ira just has a very contagious personality-like you want to listen to her stories and want to ask her questions.

Normally, Ira would even be a bit more chatty and tell some funny story about her travels or when she confronted some unicorn hunter, but Noah did seem really sick and she didn’t want to give him a headache.
“So, this human you’re looking after-he seems sick…”
Sigourney nods and sighs deeply.
“Very much so, I found him amongst some rubble after the great attack on our town, and I wanted to do the right thing and take him in. He told me his parents were killed by…the leader of the attack. Whoever that guy is, but this young man is also quite ill physically. There isn’t a lot of food and water around now, I’ve been giving him scotch from the local bar-but he really needs clean water and food, humans thrive on it. I haven’t been able to go out; I don’t dare leave Noah for a long while. Everyone else is busy repairing the town…”
The lizard rubs the back of her neck, Ira watches her intently.
“Normally, as you can tell by my extensive book collection, I am quite good with potions. However, the villains who raided the town also took a good amount of my potion…”
Ira clears her throat.
“Unicorn blood has a lot of healing properties. I would be willing to give this human some…its worked before….”
Sigourney shakes her head.
“Ira, I thank you-I really do…but it won’t help as far as getting him hydrated and fed. See, this specific potion acts as a….’substitute’ for food and water when it is scarce. I’ve researched unicorn blood-sure, it heals wounds…but not this kind of illness…I’m asking you, could you-get the potion…I mean, if you can even find it…”
The unicorn’s heart leaps a tiny bit, not in fear-but in surprise.
She really wanted to know what happened to this town, and make sure other towns have not suffered a similar fate as this one.
Ira figured that she could indeed get the potion back, she’s used to high adventure-nothing new, Ira puts on a slight ‘heroic’ tone.
“I want to catch the bastard who ordered the attack-if he did something like this to one town, why not another? This could be problem-it would be better for everyone if I go off and find out who this guy is. I can get you the potions….the exact ones you need…he or she or it has them, and once I catch the perpetrator-then I can give you the potions. If he’s close by, I could theoretically come back…in about four days.”

The lizard puts her hand on the equine’s neck lightly.
“Ira, I couldn’t ask you to go off…and fight and risk your life…”
The white unicorn puts her head down for a split second, and then looks into Sigourney’s eyes.
“It’s what I do, again-if something like this were to happen again, more lives would be lost.”

The lizard hoisted a near by brown bag with a single strap dangling from it onto the unicorn’s neck, filled with left over potions that could help her get through a situation.

Suddenly, in a sickly sounding whisper, Noah calls Ira over to his bedside.
Ira slowly trots over to Noah.
Once she sees him up close, she then sees that he’s quite sickly looking, his eyes droop and his movements are slow.
“H-hey Ira…”
She smiles slightly at the human, her voice has a hint of happiness.
“Hey kid! Hope all is okay today.”
He rubs his eyes and then he ruffles his slightly long and curly brown hair a bit to get some dandruff out of it.
“I-I’m really excited…to see my first unicorn, you’re beautiful!”
Ira blushes a tiny bit and chuckles.
“You’re my new best friend!”
Sigourney then leaves the two to go chop some wood for the fireplace outside-Noah had been talking about unicorns ever since he got to her place, so for him this was huge, the life of this kid rests all on one unicorn’s shoulders.
He clears his throat, Ira winces a bit.
“I-Ira…you…umm, barely know me. You’re…risking your life for me. Why?”
The equine creature lies on her stomach so that her head is level with the bedside, now Noah can look into her eyes.
“Because everyone, no matter a creature or a human-deserves the right to live. You’re a living being, and no one should take that away from you…and, to be honest-I enjoy kicking ass!”
Noah lets out a soft chuckle; he then reaches his hand to her and pats her velvet-like nose.
“I trust you, Ira. You h-have a good head on your shoulders a-and you seem fearless…”
The unicorn smirks, Noah then sits up and wraps his arms around Ira’s neck-as a way of thanking her.

Scene 3: Blood and Beer

Before embarking on her journey, Ira made a quick stop to the local bar.
Humans and creatures from all walks of life came here, some lizards, medium sized dragons and even a Pegasus sat all around the large building.

The chatter was quite loud and boisterous, loud Celtic fiddle music played in the background.
The floor is made of wooden planks, the walls and roof made of stone.

At the entrance of the bar, small, circular tables made of rotting wood surrounded what would otherwise be a large empty space.
After these tables, is the bar itself, the long bar table is made of smooth, new wood. Behind the table is a collection of drinks, ranging from mild to strong alcohols-Ira chose to sit at the bar.

To the left of the bar table, in the corner is a stage, with humans playing the loud music-some of the creatures sit right in front of the stage and just listen to the band.

A male, Southern crow is the bartender, wearing a red vest.
He looks at Ira, her front hooves rest on the bar table-he admires her very broad shoulders and her strapping upper body.
“Hey dude! How are ya?”
The crow chuckles and is a bit surprised by her upbeat attitude.
“I’m well ma’am! Thanks!”
The unicorn thinks for a quick moment before ordering.
“I’d like a Cuba Libre please.”

Quickly, the crow mixes the drink-cola, lime and white rum. The drink also came with a nice lemon wedge for garnish.
Ira watched the bar activity as she took sips of her cold and refreshing beverage, being that she was sitting down-her upper legs sort of became her ‘arms’.
Unicorns have the ability to stand on there hind legs and manipulate objects-which is why she is able to sit and have a drink, she then turns her back to the bartender and watches the entrance of the bar, everyone seems to be having a nice time.

She looks to one side of the bar, a hulking, male human speaks to his pal-they’re both identical looking.
Both have bushy beards, one has a black one, the other a brown one.
The two are wearing Viking garb, Ira’s ears twitch back and fourth, she finishes her first drink in about two minutes and listens to the conversation, equine creatures have amazing hearing.
“Our town got destroyed…badly. God, if I could…I’d crush the man who did it. Kings, get way too much power over us common folk. Fuck, I just can’t believe it.”
Ira orders another drink-the same thing, but drinks only half of it, before going over to the two men.
She gets down off of the chair and goes on all four legs.
“Hey guys! What are your names?”
The two men look at the unicorn-she is both taller and in better shape than they are.
“Well my fine equine, I am Philip and this is my brother, Collins. You’re mighty attractive…for a unicorn.”
Ira nods quickly.
“Thanks, name is Ira. Ummm-I overheard you two talking about the attack on this town. Damn shame.”
Phillip sighs and looks at the unicorn, he is about fifty years of age-his brother is about thirty. He rests his arm on the bar table and sips his mug of beer.
“A king did the attack; word is he lives only a few hours from here….”
The unicorn nods in an inquisitive manner.
“No kidding. Can you give me a map?”
Suddenly, Collins, the man with the brown beard speaks up; Ira can tell he’s a bit cocky.
“Ya know what, Ira! I can give you some information…but you must fight for it!”
Phillip chuckles.
“Ira, my brother is quite boisterous-I didn’t mention that whenever he’s in a bar, he likes to fight…which I should have mentioned before!”
Phillip glances at his brother.
“Tis fine to fight once and a while, but do you really want to hurt this unicorn?”
Ira chuckles and nudges Collins with her horn lightly, startling him.
“Look bud, do I have to do this? You seem nice…and fighting seems so-ugh, typical.”
He stands up and pokes the unicorn in the nose.
“Afraid so, horsey. You win, I give you all the information about the attack. You lose, you pay me. Oh. and no using your magic shit-blood might be spilled on your beautiful, white fur..or hair…or whatever the hell equines have!”
Ira chuckles and gets right in the man’s face.
“As my father once said, blood is just red sweat.”

Collins chuckles, he watches Ira go back to her drink, chug it down and trot back to him, she’s already having fun.
Collins laughs and shouts over all the commotion at the bar.
“FOLKS! A FIGHT! Between me…and this lovely, lovely, unicorn!”

All the humans and creatures form a circle, like some high school recess fight, in the middle of the circle, Collins stands, then Ira quickly trots next to him.
“In the battle of human versus animal….MAN has won, again, and again. THIS shall be no different!”
The unicorn rolls her eyes, trots a few feet away from the man, like the beginning of some boxing match.
Ira then speaks in a sarcastic and almost ‘light hearted’ tone.
“If I throw a stick will you leave?”
Half of the bar cracks up laughing; Ira throws Collins a tiny wink, almost as a way of saying ‘no hard feelings dude, you’re quite fun!’
Collins cracks his knuckles and gets into a fighting stance.
Collins shouts sarcastically. “cute…reeeeeeally cute!”

The unicorn spreads her legs slightly, Collins then charges at her, punching at the air, she quickly moves-he was hoping since Ira is such a large target, he’d get at least one hit in-but aside from a slight and harmless smack, he got nothing.
All she did was trot quickly to the other side of the circle. Ira on the left and Collins on the right.
The male then throws a quick smack her way, Ira pulls away just in time, raises one of her front hooves and gives Collins a swift jab on the nose-Collins tumbles, back first onto the floor-he tried to get up, but the pain from that one hit from that metal hoof sent him into a dizzy state, he slowly stands.
“O-okay…I-Ira…Fuck! That hurt! DAMN!”
He lets out a quick chuckle, wipes his nose and sees a streak of blood on his hand.

The bar does a few quick cheers and applause before breaking up again, Ira goes up to him and whispers into his ear.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry! Did it really hurt?!”
See, Ira sometimes forgot her own strength when dealing with humans, rarely did she ever get into fights with them, but she had hung out with them, and one hit from a horse is not like a punch from a human, for obvious reasons.
Also, Ira doesn’t hate the guy-they were just playing really, nothing was meant to go serious, they were rough housing if you will.

An hour later, Collins and Ira sat at the bar, he held a napkin to his nose the entire time, which only bled for about a moment, but it would be sore for a long while, it started to get extremely swollen already.
He told Ira where to go and handed her a map-which she put in the brown bag. Collins explained that he had seen the attackers leaving, and since there is a near by castle-that maybe the evil king lived in there.
It was a pretty good lead; the journey wouldn’t be too long or dangerous…hopefully.
“Collins, thanks for your help. I’ll try my best to get this king you talk about.
Again, sorry about your nose…feel better. I had fun with ya!”
She gives him a fist (erm, hoof) bump on the back and orders him a free beer before leaving.

Ira decides to sleep at an inn, about a half hour away from Windhelm-and she slept extremely well.

Scene 4: Gaffer- Part 1

With her bag around her neck, Ira travels north.
Taking infrequent breaks, she knew it would be sort of a boring journey. Not having anyone with her really made things seem dull, she did talk to a few people-as she did stop into some towns. Indeed, she finds out more.

The king who attacked Windhelm is named King Millus, known for being manipulative and violent-but no one knew the real reason as to why he was so hateful, making Ira want to ‘meet him’ more.

The weather was chilly now, the sky a nice pink color.
The unicorn finds a small cave to lie down in, using her bag as a make shift pillow. The area is bland; she is in a sandy range.
Almost like a desert, but some plants do show up.
She is not close to any towns where she can spend the night; rock formations cover the area however, making the scenery nice.

Not being able to sleep, she comes out of the cave-and about a mile ahead of her, is a large wooden cabin-she begins to trot toward it.
The home is quite nice, she begins to admire it, and she then is startled a bit when the front door opens.
The owner is a hippogriff. He slowly steps out.

He has a beautiful white head, a golden colored beak and striking orange eyes.
His lower body is that of a dark brown horse, his arms are not arms at all-but talons.
The creature stands on his two back legs, the large wings which slightly protrude from the sides of his body flutter a bit before he speaks. His voice is soft and calming.
“Do you need a place to stay?”
Ira nods and is a bit taken a back by seeing a hippogriff for the first time.
She approaches him, still sort of admiring him, she smiles a bit.
“If you have room-I don’t see why not! Sure beats sleeping outside! Nice to meet ya, I’m Ira.”
The creature nods.
“Gaffer here…”

Once inside, Gaffer shows the unicorn around.
This place was hand built, by the hippogriff himself.
While the outside appeared to be wooden, the inside is all made of white, smooth marble. Giving the building a sterile look, almost like a hospital.

Once you walk through the door-you see a large expensive table.
To the left of the table, are shelves of expensive cutlery, in front of the collection, is a king sized, white bed-presumably where Gaffer slept.

To the right-drawings hung from a white, shiny wall. In front of the wall with the drawings, a large, maroon colored couch.

The ceiling is high, chandeliers hang, Gaffer obviously has a lot of money. Towards a corner of the house, is a large, metal door. Ira did not ask about it, she figured he kept odds and ends in there, and forgot about it.

Ira trots over to admire the drawings on the wall; they’re sketches of humans, very detailed sketches.
“So, you’ve met humans, huh?”
Gaffer walks beside her and smirks.
“Yeah-they come over and I draw them. They’re fascinating. Would you like something to eat?”

Ira munches on some salad; Gaffer eats some pasta with a glass of white wine.

The unicorn tells him of the now destroyed town of Windhelm.
“Well Ira, that is quite awful. I do happen to know a bit about this-and Collins was right-there is indeed a castle close by.
I’ve flown all around this land, and I happen to know a bit about the king. King Millius would be the man you’re after. He’s known for attacking towns and stealing…I’m almost positive he’d be your culprit.”
Ira nods, letting these thoughts swirl around her head a bit.
Gaffer begins looking at the unicorn, quietly lusting over her body, he always found unicorns to be attractive-in fact you could almost say as far as creatures went, he had quite the fetish for unicorns.
He rests his two claws on the table, lightly tapping his sharp talon on the table.
“So, Ira-would you like to spend the night?”
The unicorn knows he had the hots for her.
“O-oh…I don’t know, you’ve already fed me and I can’t thank you enough. I-I just don’t know if I can in good mind spend the night.”
Gaffer smirks.
“Ohhhh come on Ira! You have a nice personality, and you tell stories amazingly well. I’m so alone, come on!”
Ira sighs, she indeed finds this hippogriff to be odd, and maybe even a bit sexist due to the fact he hasn’t taken his eyes off of her.

However, she decides to stay-she figures if he even touched her, she’d kick his ass, she felt that sleeping outside just wouldn’t be the best.
Who knew what could happen? She’d never been in this area in her life-and wasn’t entirely familiar with everything.

Scene 5: Gaffer- Part 2

Crickets chirped, Ira lied on her side, the couch is extremely comfortable.

The hippogriff had draped a blanket over her before he went to sleep. Ira was in quite a deep sleep, however-she swore she heard a faint noise. Like someone crying, she then closes her eyes-dismissing the sound.
Then, the sound whacks her ears again, this time-louder.

The unicorn quickly stands up and looks around the room, her ears moving as the noise becomes a bit louder.
She tries to make her trotting soft, but it’s hard with hooves. She glances over at Gaffer, who is sound asleep.
Ira then hears the sound again, she stands still, and her hearing seems to be heightened. Her horn suddenly begins to glow, a dim white light so that the place isn’t deathly black.

The noise is coming from the metal door, tucked away in the corner of the house. She trots ever so slowly to the door, as she trots-she nearly bumps into the large kitchen table, she then methodically moves herself around it, keeping perfectly quiet. Even if Gaffer heard her, he’d assume she’d be going to the bathroom or something, problem would come if he decided to stand up and see her heading towards the ‘secret door.’
She now is a few inches away, she hears the crying again-muffled, but it is surly coming from inside whatever the door hides.
Ira looks at the knob, it glows white and automatically opens, creaking slightly, she then stops and cocks her head to the hippogriff-who is undisturbed by the noise.
She trots inside and the door gently shuts behind her.

The air is cold, very drafty. The floor is cobblestone, so are the walls. This room is dusty and old.
Straight ahead of her, is a beagle-dressed in rags for clothes and half of his right ear missing-or, more descriptively, sliced off?

The beagle yelps a bit as the horn on the top of Ira’s head glows brighter, his voice quivers in fear.
“P-please don’t kill me!”
Ira trots up to him, keeping her voice down.
“I promise I won’t. Why are you here?”
The dog coughs an unhealthy cough, he looks extremely thin.
“Th-the bird creature…c-captured me. A few days ago! H-he’s a psychopath!”
So this was the dark secret Gaffer was hiding?
Noticing that the dog’s voice is rising, Ira hushes him a bit.
“What is your name, unicorn?”
“Ira, nice to meet you. Anything else I should know about this fellow before I give his ass a good beating?”
“N-name is Roger. W-well, you should know that Gaffer actually…well, works for King Millus, they even both work together in the same room frequently.
I’ve heard a lot within the past few days, the king comes over here-they’re both best friends. They’re both evil, I tell you!
See, Gaffer speaks harshly of the king-so that no one knows of their relationship. Also, he’s selfish and would rather have you kill the king than to go after him.
Ugh, they’re both violent sons of bitches too. Raiding towns together, stealing stuff-please help me!”

Ira tries to wrap her head around all of this new information, she then nods reassuringly.
“The bastard is sleeping; I’ll take care of him and come back for you.”
The unicorn turns her back, but the beagle raises his voice again.
“No! I-if you attack him, he’ll just fly away….that is what he always does. Humans have tried killing him, it’s no use.”
“Don’t worry, I will take care of it….”
The dog sighs as the unicorn then leaves the dank and gross room….

Ira watches over the hippogriff, sleeping in his large bed. Curled up in expensive blankets, smirking a tad bit, perhaps he’s dreaming.
The equine creature takes a deep breath; she slowly crawls in bed with Gaffer.
The underside of her body rubs up against his warm feathers as she slips under the covers; Gaffer slowly awakens, groans in pleasure and begins to stroke the horn on top of Ira’s head with his golden claw, Ira speaks in a low and seductive voice.
“Hey Gaffer, how are you?”
He chuckles and yawns.
“Oh…just fine…what are you doing here?”
Ira senses that while Gaffer seems to be happy, that he is still a bit on edge.
If she attacks too soon, like Roger said-he’d just fly off.
She needed to relax him more; she needed to make sure that when she made her strike-it was the perfect moment.
The hippogriff then notices the warm and thick covers, getting slowly pulled off and tossed to the ground, however-the unicorn did not move.
He finds this type of magic quite awesome.
Ira then kisses him on the forehead.
“I saw you looking at me all night, your eyes reading absolute sexual fascination.”
She begins kissing him more, Gaffer wraps his wings around Ira.
“You unicorns are so damn perceptive.”
Ira hated this, Gaffer is a complete creep, his voice sends shivers up her spine, but she felt him getting more relaxed-losing his edge, she was on the right track.
“That we are Gaffer-so wanna fuck?”
Gaffer lets out a chuckle, just then, Ira flips the creature on his back and lies on top of him, her muzzle mere inches from his beak, Gaffer blushes a bit-but chuckles the same chuckle again.
“Fuck me Ira….YES! PLEASE!”
He kisses her muzzle a few times.
She takes her two hooves and puts them lightly upon Gaffer’s feathery chest-she kneels on his stomach, he laughs in an almost maniacal way.
“You like that, huh? You baaaad boy! Fucking a unicorn’s brains out!”

As Gaffer hung onto her every word, he started thinking of her tone of voice-that slight rasp, the ‘bad girl’ attitude, her muscles beginning to pulsate-the way she was completely in control, made him start to have an erection-he closes his eyes and smiles, he leans his head back-waiting for her to jerk him off.

Suddenly, the hippogriff feels a sharp pain in his neck, it was a pain he’d never felt before.
He tries to gasp for air, but Ira’s horn blocks him from doing so.

He feels warm blood spew from his neck and onto his chest, like a giant machete, Ira’s horn had stabbed Gaffer’s neck, she twists her head, a loud slash sound echoed through the house. Ira slowly removes her horn and steps off of the bed, Gaffer lies on his back, covered from his chest to his white head in dark read blood, she hit an artery-like she wanted to.
The white sheets ruined, Ira then looked at the gapping hole in the middle of his throat, his wings and claws spread out, his eyes and beak wide open in pure shock, blood drips from his neck and onto the bed, she then turns quickly and tries to forget what just happened.

The unicorn then goes back to Roger, and uses her horn to unhook the chains that bind him…

Scene 6: Catching a break….

Dawn was upon them, the sky was now a pinkish color, the sun was getting ready to burst through the clouds.

A heavy mist began to roll in, giving the grassy, but empty landscape an almost ghostly feel.
The blood from Gaffer had now fallen off of Ira’s body, the dog and unicorn now sat in an abandoned camp site-about an hour away from Gaffer’s home.
The site was complete with pots, pans, wood for fire and even a tent-which neither of them would be able to fit into. Ira drops the brown tote she had been carrying around.

Ira had started a fire in the middle of the two, they sat in front of each other, Roger had collected some food left behind from the campers, some roast chicken, Ira wasn’t really a fan of meat, but she ate it since there was nothing else around.
They both sat on there haunches, legs crossed and looking quite tired.
“Ira, thank you so much for helping me. I really thought I’d be dead in that house.”
The unicorn finishes eating and smiles politely.
“Of course, it’s what I do!”
The dog sighs happily, and then speaks again.
“So, if you don’t mind-I’d love to know a bit about you. You’re…unlike any other unicorn I’ve ever met. You’re spunky, you’re brave as anything….what makes someone like that?”
The unicorn sits in silence for a bit, she cocks her head to one side-listening to the sounds of the morning birds making there first sounds, the smell of dew fills her nostrils and a morning chill rolls in, but since the dog and equine are both covered in hair-it hardly matters.
She then looks back at Roger and clears her throat a bit.
“Well, my father was named Mortus.
He was the captain of the Royal Equine Guard. When I became a teenager, he’d get me up early bird special and we’d go for long trots across our land. He would teach me how to fight. He loved me very much, but our personalities were opposite.
He was what you may expect a unicorn to be-stern, graceful, kinda monotone voice.
For me, it’s just not natural. We’re all different, I can’t pretend to be this stern and stoic gal, and I think if I were to try it-I’d be miserable. Why hide it? So many people are miserable as it is!”
The beagle chuckles and lies on his back, the warm fire had begun to get even warmer due to Ira’s magic-Roger yawns and closes his eyes.
“Well Ira, don’t ever change. You’re a hoot!”
The unicorn chuckles a bit, lies on her stomach and feels her eye lids drooping….

Scene 7: Cryptopidae

The chain wrapped tightly around her neck, Ira whinnied in pain.
Once she got her wits about her, she realized that five muscular guards had found them-dressed in armor and pissed off faces.
Roger was wrapped tightly in chains, the unicorn tugged and tugged, her black mane whipping side-to-side, but the chain wouldn’t snap. She even tried magic from her horn, but that did not do any good either.
“Get this fucking chain OFF of me!”
The leader, an overweight guard, about six feet tall grabs Ira by the horn.
“Not a chance, bitch….”
Roger becomes pale.
The unicorn then lets out an angry snort as she is dragged an unknown location.

Two hours pass, the large doors to a stone castle open, the dog and unicorn are brought to a giant room, Ira’s hooves clop against the marble floor, the room’s acoustics are amazing.
The walls are adorned with portraits of King Millus, but he is nowhere to be found.
Rock beams support some of the walls and are smooth and well cleaned, as is this entire room.
Windows circle the entire room and are high and made of stained glass.
The ceiling is made out of clear glass.
The room is nearly empty, no tables, just a marble floor and the above mentioned details.

The leader then speaks in an authoritative tone.
“Ira, you’re going to be brought to a dungeon-where you will surly meet your end, Roger-you’re going directly to the king.”
Two guards pull Ira across the room and to a wooden door, they quickly remove the chain and kick her violently down some wooden steps, she yelps and nearly loses consciousness.

Ira tumbles sideways down the stairs and falls flat on her side, her legs begin to bruise.
She takes a deep breath and begins to twitch her entire body little by little; to be sure nothing is broken.

She slowly stands up-and like expected, her horn acts as a flashlight, and she staggers around this basement like area.
Dust floats in the air, the ground is made of sand, and the walls are made of dirty wood.
She watches her footing to be sure she doesn’t step in anything like trash or something sharp, a nasty smell hits her nostrils, like the smell of human waste. This certainly is where trash goes, but she certainly was confused as to why she’d die down here.
Ira trots around, going in no particular direction.

The room looks much larger than she once thought-suddenly, her hoof rubs against something cold, and she gasps!
The unicorn looks down and sees a skeleton-a shiver runs up her spine. Who did this? Was this person dead before they came down and was tossed after, or were they alive and died of starvation-or something worse?
Suddenly, something slithers across the floor!
Ira’s heart skips a beat as she tries to look around-what was it?! It looked huge, like some type of serpent, maybe now she knew why people died down here-it wasn’t slow, it was probably because of this-whatever it is lurking about!
A poor human wouldn’t stand a chance, but a powerful unicorn-might.
Ira takes a deep breath and collects her thoughts, panicking would be the worst thing to do now, she’d get killed in an instant.
As the light on her horn became brighter, she then sees this creature in its full form.

It is tall, probably seven feet tall, it crawls on many legs. Its body is that of a worm, its legs are small, it seems to have a face, but no eyes, just a gapping hole where a mouth should be and sharp teeth.
It is essentially a Centipede, with the mouth and teeth of a vampire.
This creature lets out a high pitched scream and lunges at the unicorn, she does a tiny hop to the left and attempts to slash it with her horn.
A nice scar forms around its neck, yellow, sticky fluid pours out of it-suddenly, Ira trips on the massive body of the creepy crawler.

The Centipede then wraps the lower half of its body around the unicorn, squeezing her tightly.
The legs of the creature rub against her under body, she looks up and a few feet from her-is the head of the massive creature. It screams, Ira only has seconds to think before she’ll become its dinner.
Ira pulls her tounge back as far as it can go and then bites down hard on the Centipede’s middle section.
It screams in pain and drops her, she lets go-and realizes that she had bitten a good chunk of flesh out of it.
She spits out the yellow, gooshy substance that is its blood and squints hard.
Angered, the creature again lunges at her-this time, Ira does not move, she uses her horn as a sword and with precise aim, is able to stab it in the mouth.
The Centipede stops in its tracks, the horn is now stuck in its chin, if you were to look closely, you could see the tip of Ira’s horn enter the inside of the creature’s mouth.
Ira then jolts her head back and watches the creature tumble to the ground.

The unicorn smirks and heads up the stairs from where she once fell….

Scene 8: Crowning Glory

Ira the unicorn steps into the room from once she came, her white body and black mane, covered in the yellow-snot like goo the Centipede left behind.

Her right hip is also cut, bleeding and brusied from the tumble she took downstairs. However, the room now is filled with guards.
About thirty of them, all armored to the teeth and carrying swords, the unicorn sighs aggravatitly.
“Oh my Gawd! Okay, you send me down to deal with some…creepy crawly thing, that isn’t enough though IS IT?! NO! Now, you all are standing here, waiting to kick my ass! Well, we can play this two ways, guys.
Either, you tell me where king Millus is and we’ll save ourselves a lot of tears and blood shed-or you all either get hurt and run away with your dicks tucked between your legs. Your choice!”

A few of the guards decided to take a swing at her, about four swords
went charging at her.
Ira used her horn to block the attacks as best as she could, but she knew she’d get cut in the process.
Two men were in front of her, trying to attack her facial area-using
her horn, she sliced both of there necks, a tiny bit of blood shot out
of both of them and they tumbled backwards.
One guard was on her left side, she used her upper left hoof to give him a good smack across the face, his nose broke on impact and nearly was sliced in two.
More and more guards came charging at her, she used her horn as a
slicing weapon, cantering left and right about the room, trying to
slice flesh, as she did so-blood gushed out like water coming out of a
shower head, spraying the marble floor.

Some guards charged at her with spears, she did have to think quick on
her hooves, her mind completely concentrated on the tasks at hand,
when she’d use her hooves to whack various attackers in the head, a
horrible ‘crack’ sound filled the room, her body began to sweat as she
had to fend off what seemed like endless waves of people.

She was indeed getting tired of this, she started stabbing individuals
in the gut and flinging them across the room-deliberately trying to hit
other attackers to see if she could finish this quickly.

The soldiers began dying off; a few swings of her hooves and the last
of them suffered from major concussions.
The marble floor now covered in blood-Ira too was just about drenched in blood herself, mostly her facial and upper body area. Her horn was also coated in red fluid, she
looked around at all the dead bodies-some groaning in pain, others
surly dead.
She slowed her rapid breathing down, trying to collect herself and find this king and finish this all for good-she also needed to find Roger.
Ira stands in the middle of the room filled with carnage, closes her eyes for a brief moment, takes a deep breath and trots forward with her head high….

Ira cocks her head left to right, not finding this king anywhere, suddenly-a loud bang is heard. She stops in her tracks; it was a deep bang, like something was trying to come up from the floor.
She steps back, part of the floor is now elevating, like the beginning of a rock concert.
It is not magical, but mechanical, standing on a podium that is now all the way up, is king Millus himself.
He holds poor Roger by a metal chain, which is clearly suffocating him.

The king is dressed in dark purple robes, a golden staff in hand and a silver crown. His face is that of an older gentleman, maybe in his early sixties, he has a short, silver beard and slicked back hair.

He steps off from the levitated podium and chuckles as he looks at the white unicorn covered in blood, there voices echo- the king seems to be looking at all the carnage Ira left.
“So, this is King Millus, hm? The mighty one, who destroys towns and steals potions, interesting to put a face to the madness.”
The king walks slowly towards Ira, and lightly taps her nose with his staff; his voice is rather high pitched surprisingly, but is also quite monotone.
“Ira, you certainly do care a lot. Killing my men, killing my best friend-Gaffer-but we’ll get to him! You know, being a king is quite amazing, my friend. You’re right; I did destroy towns-for YOU.”
Ira snorts in anger and stamps her hoof.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
The king then walks around the creature; Ira does not blink-she keeps a sharp eye on him as he calmly tells his story.
“Not enough mythical creatures get what they deserve. Buildings and towns-ruin the land. You creatures are beautiful, you, Gaffer, all the other unicorns and rabbits and such. You deserve to have no humans around-I will take it upon myself to RID this world of pesky humans, except me of course!”
Ira squints and is just about ready to whack this crazy guy in the jaw.
“This castle is so empty and large, perfect for housing and protecting you all. Don’t you see?! I’m saving YOU-so what if a few humans die? So what if towns must be destroyed, so what if I must steal potions to help you all health wise!”
He presses his face against Ira’s nose, looking right into her eyes.
“Thank me, Ira. Thank me for preserving life-the way it should be! We’re ugly compared to you animals, if less of us were around and more of you-wow…what a world it would be!”
King Millus then violently tugs on the chain that wraps around Roger’s neck, knocking him off of his feet-his head smacks against the marble floor. He drops the chain, he then goes up to the podium to grab a new chain.
“So, now Ira-you’re going to have to stand still, this won’t hurt if you don’t budge.”
He violently tosses the chain like a cowboy would a lasso, the end of the chain wraps around Ira’s neck, she neighs a bit and is nearly pulled to the ground, but she keeps standing, she tosses her head back and fourth.
“WHY do people love chaining me UP!?”
The king tugs harder
“Look Ira, I’m HELPING you! You need to stay here! Stop worrying about humans-it’s ALL ABOUT you!”
Ira looks at her hooves and notices a part of the chain, resting on the floor near her front hoof.
The chain is beginning to get too tight, her breathing is beginning to get cut off. This is not just an ordinary chain; it’s some black magic or voodoo stuff-her magic needed to come into play.
Ira lets out a few loud coughs; her eyes begin to water-she feels her self losing it.
The unicorn’s horn then begins to turn purple; the king looks on in astonishment.

A purple light begins to surround the chain, Ira takes a deep breath and after a moment of tense build up, the chain snaps off of Ira and is now wrapped around the king’s neck-he yells in pain and falls to the ground with a hard smack.
“IRA! NO!”
The unicorn then trots up to him, her breathing heavy, he looks up at her helplessly.
“You’ve obviously taken advantage of others, using your kingly privileges for awful purposes. One thing you seem to have forgotten about unicorns, is that we’re indeed magical. Sure, my magical powers aren’t the best-but in some situations, it helps. Now what, Millus?
First, you capture me…then you realize that it was a huge mistake! Kinda like biting into chocolate covered shit!”
Like with Ira, this chain gets horribly tight, in between gasps, the king speaks.
“I-I’m sorry IRA! I really AM! LET ME GO!”
Ira takes a deep breath, Millus’ head begins to turn left, his eyes turn an unhealthy shade of red, tears stream down his face, and he begins to scream.

Suddenly, with a terrible snap, his head has done a complete circle, the front of his face is now turned, and he collapses.

Ira then canters over to Roger and with her two upper hooves, lightly presses on his chest.
“Roger, please wake up! Gosh, you came THIS far!”
As she presses, she realizes that Roger was merely knocked out-he coughs loudly and begins to stand, hanging onto Ira’s neck for support.
The beagle then begins to cry a bit, he wraps his arms around Ira.
“Th-thank you so much! I-I thought I was dead…I really did!”
Ira takes a deep breath and lets him cry on her shoulder….

Two Days Later

The town of Windhelm is now completely built.
New homes, new people, new security measures as well.

The unicorn returned with the beagle, he now has a new place to live and new people to meet.
Millus had indeed kept all the potions, Noah is now completely healed and is back to working.
One of the townspeople gave Ira a sponge bath-now the unicorn was shiny, she had also taken a nap-which she really needed.

Sigourney and Ira speak outside of what it was like to get the potion-she feels awful putting Ira in all of those situations, but the unicorn seems to shrug things off.
“Well Sigourney, tonight I’m staying around, but tomorrow-I go back to my unicorn forest, filled with lollipops and rainbows and frolicking!”
The lizard looks at Ira in a dead serious way.
“Really?”
Ira laughs boisterously.
“Oh my, the look on your face was priceless, Sigourney!”

That evening, Ira makes one last stop at the bar, complete with new floors and a bigger room and new drinks.
She enters the dark room, thinking the bar is closed.
Suddenly-magical, colorful flames turn on, lighting up the entire room-about half of the towns people give Ira a hug and bombard her with questions about her quest.

Humans and creatures of all ages walk up to her as she sips her rum punch, sitting on a bar chair.
In her usual fashion-she tells each story with over the top mannerisms and peppered profanity, making half the bar crack up laughing.
Out of the blue, Collins sits next to her, his nose all healed.
“Hey Ira, I still don’t forgive you for kicking my ass!”
He then laughs and hugs her tightly.
“Ohhh, Ira! You’re a hoot! You are a hero though, first and foremost!”
The unicorn chuckles
“Keep on going, I love this!”
She then finishes her third drink; loud Celtic fiddle music plays as the evening goes on…

The End