This interactive story was written in The Forest on November 21, 1995. VERY minor editing, and a completely spurious title were added later. Watch where you step.... ewwwwww....
It was another clear, crisp day where the sun rode the sky high and the yellow, crimson and gold leaves of autumn crunched and crackled beneath her feet. Running through the tall grasses of the field :::::the smells bring glory to her olfactory senses::::: the air carrying scents that... the air was a meal in itself on such a day. As Rosie passed through the field on her run reaching the hills and torquing up for the run upward she smiled inwardly, a secret of momentary passion this run up the hill. Upon cresting the top of the hill her ears picked up the sound of a familiar voice yelling in distress.
"Could that be Cleo?" thought Rosie. She immediately set off in the direction of the urgent and frightened yelling with Brian huffing and puffing to remain with her and losing in his bid. The woods, it's coming from the woods. Pressing into the fir and pine, Rosie is halted by a seen of tragedy and pain. Her friend Cleo is standing next to Dave crying at the top of her lungs. Dave lays bloodied on the ground, unmoving. "Jesus, Rosie girl, where the hell are you?" yelled Brian, who has also heard the baying. Rosie, in her best labrador retriever fashion found her alpha, her beloved Brian.
"Good girl Rosie, good girl. Whaddya find, huh?" and with Rosie leading the way Brian found Cleo in a sweat and fury, crying and nuzzling her master, trying to raise the obviously dead, dead of a bullet in the head. Brian turned and lost his dinner. The police could not find the killer. Nor did they care until the third dog walker was found dead with a hole in the head. Then they became interested. In the meantime, Brian had adopted a dog, Cleo, rounded up the other dog owners and begun the search for the killer the papers had named the "pooper scooper killer". The dog owners were not amused.
Ralph threw down the paper in disgust and wheeled his body around to face the person behind him. "Well, what do you exPECT me to feel like??!!! They give me a STUpid name like the Poooper Scooooper Kiiiiiillller, and you expect me NOT to be angry???"
"Well, Ralph, I donit think you should get too hung up about this..."
"Too HUNG UP??? Too HUNG UP!!!!!!!!!!??????" Ralph picked up the nearest chair, made like he was going to toss it through the wall, paused, thought for a second, and then put the chair down. He turned once more to stare at his friend and told him in a deadpan, no nonsense voice: "That's a good idea..."
Rosie didn't think that Cleo understood that his master was dead. He never was very bright, even though he was a good friend. Cleo would sit and stare at the door, and Rosie knew that he didn't want "Out", he was just waiting for Dave to come "In". Dave, of course, didn't come, and Rosie knew why. There was something that was killing masters, something more powerful even than the masters were.
Rosie had seen her share of death, and knew what it looked like, and what it meant. She had known a short master once, one who had played with her constantly, a laughing, bubbly master who smelt of cookies and dirt, and sometimes frogs... and one day Rosie watched that short master fall from a branch in the tall tree in the yard, and she saw blood for the first time, and wondered what it all meant. And she waited for that master to come and play with her again, but the master never did...
She had already learned the lesson that Cleo was in the midst of learning, and there was only one way she could think of to help him get over his anguish. She knew that somewhere inside himself, Cleo could remember, if he wanted to, what the thing more powerful than his master had smelt like... and if she could persuade him to help her find that being... well... maybe he'd forget about his nonexistent master... at least for a short time...
Cleo tilted his head in curiosity as he saw the door stand, unmoving. He wasn't sure what happened to his master, yet somewhere deep within, he could feel something wrong. That smell... So strong... Yet...
He walked off through the long carpeted hallway, feeling Rosie's gaze upon him. She knows it too..... He walks over and sits on the rug to think. Hmmm....
Well. He stood and ran to the door, pressing that little spot that Rosie didn't think he knew about. The door opened with a short click and he walked outside, sniffing the air. Blood. He walked, followed the scent down the hill in front of the house. In the back yard. There. He was close. Suddenly, he felt the world grow sharper. He saw the leaves on the branches rustle in the wind. He heard the metal boxes far off in the distance. He smelled... The being.
He ran to the north with all his speed. In his urgency he fell over, tripping on something. Something distracting. It was the master. He could only growl. He had to hunt now. He heard a sound further north, a sound, someone climbing a fence... With a rush of rage and speed, he leaped for it. And caught it. Almost. The man struggled and ran, leaving him with merely a piece of cloth. And a blade in his side. He went back, sighed the sigh of ages and collapsed, joining his master.
The morning was bright and regal, but work was not. He was Jerrelas, detective for the local police He was called in early, about a murder, on a street in the good sector of town.
"Now we're not sure, Jer. It could be a mauling, we did find an animal nearby, but it all seems fairly suspect. We just want you to check it out."
"At 5:30 in the morning."
"No one told you you had the greatest job in the world."
He wasn't lying. As he approached the given address, his heart tore from his chest. This wasn't just any house. He opened the door and ran to the door, feeling his blood leave him as he saw the trail of blood leading to the back. He followed it, leaping the police that were snooping out evidence. There, in the back, he found his friend, murdered.
Rosie stood there looking up at Brian with her puppy dog, big glassy eyes. Waiting, for a sign of assurance that she could leave. A sign suddenly hit Rosie in her ears. She heard a sound from far away. Her dog sense telling her that danger was occurring. With a quick leap, Rosie jumped out of the dog door to figure out this mess.
Rosie was a smart dog. She had been through a lot. After her master died, she was transferred to a dangerous pound in a bad part of town. She had her share of enemies. As well as friends, who knew the word on the street. And that is where Rosie had to go now.
The sun began to gleam orange as it peeked its way over the mountain tops. Gleaming its protection one last time over the kind city of Minnetrouitony, before it set into the climbing mountains for sleep. Rosie snuck quietly into the back alley, looking for a familiar face. She carefully crept her way through the back door of Pierro's, and into the back room to meet her friend.
"Lassie, I must speak with you. There is something major going down on the streets."
The big, ladylike dog stared Rosie in the eyes. "I have given you enough favors Rosie, and you want moi, to get my toenails dirty over talking to you, forget it girl."
Rosie snared her teeth at her former friend. Giving her the dirtiest look imaginable. "Masters are dying!! Your precious, Chef Pierro could be the next one. Lassie, you must help me. I know you know what is going on. For your sake Lassie, help us!"
"To tell you the truth Rosie, I have no idea what you're talking about." She gave a nasty grin to Rosie. With a look of knowledge in her eyes. Lassie and Cleo were the only friends she ever knew. Rosie walked over to the kitchen swinging door to watch the crowd. The tables were busy, and the fresh pasta made Rosie's stomach growl. The sweet fragrances calling her to them. Then she heard a few police officers talking at a nearby table.
"Yeah that poor little dog. She has been through a horrible time, and now this... We will give her a good burial. I think her dog tag said... Cleo on it." Rosie shuddered. Her mind seemed to collapse around her. Spinning around, torturing her soul. Everyone she knew was dying, and her one hope abandoned her. She turned back to the alley door, forgetting the sweet smelling pasta.
Meanwhile, Lassie looking for some extra food, went sniffing around in the back dairy walk-in cooler, to sneak some extra dinner. She slowly reached a paw out to the handle. She could already taste the luscious basil, sun dried tomatoes, PASTA. Her paw pushed the handle down, and the door slowly opened. Creaking ever so slightly, it revealed a sight Lassie never dreamed of. Her master. Chef Pierro, hanging lifeless, dangling on a meat hook........
Lassie sniffed mournfully at the Chef's dangling shoes... and began to howl. Her howls echoed eerily off the chilled walls of the freezer and her tail, which had been only moments before wagging with anticipation of a hastily-snatched tasty morsel, dragged sadly to the floor. Her intelligent brown eyes grew bright with what would have been, had she been a human, tears.
She dropped her front paws to the floor and laid her head down. A sudden movement startled her from her reverie and her head sharply turned towards the door of the freezer. She saw highly-polished black boots...larger than any she had ever seen before... pants which billowed out like large balloons... colored red and green and orange... she recognized these colors, belying the general assumption that dogs could only see in black, white, and shades of gray... above the pants, a checkered silk shirt, in similar hues, with what appeared to be huge circular puffs decorating the front... and the face... She cocked her head to one side quizzically when she saw the face... bright green hair... a smile that seemed to be painted with the corners turned down. He looked sad and she wanted to whine again at his expression. She trotted towards him and he bent down so that his face was level with her own.
She reached out with her tongue and licked at the huge red nose, shiny and smooth... it felt strange... not at all like the nose of the Chef... or any other nose she had ever licked for that matter.
"Nice dog," he whispered as one hand scratched behind her ear... She waited for his other hand to swing around from behind his back and maybe pat her head or ruffle her fur. She gazed at him with trusting brown eyes... and waited...
"Good dog...." he said softly... as his hand moved behind his back...
Mike grabbed my ear and pulled, just a little too roughly for my taste. Sure, since joining the Disorganized Crime Unit I had learned lots from him, and he was my superior officer, but I really hated being pulled around by my ears.
"Ignore all that. None of that had any effect. The trail starts in the kitchen."
I had been staring at a 16 pound bowling ball that had been epoxied to the front of the TV set. Stepping over the garden rakes strewn liberally across the living room floor, we headed past the smoky stench coming from the bathroom and entered the kitchen. Mike waved away the technicians gently probing what might have been a bomb in the microwave.
"Ignore it... it had no effect." Mike picked up the nearly empty bowl and sniffed it.
"Beef chunks, right?" I asked, knowing better.
"Beef chunks, and, from the smell of it, about a tablespoon of white pepper and the same amount of salt." No sarcasm. Musta been because he was in a hurry to get out of there, and that could possibly be because the whole house had been heated to 105 degrees and every light had been turned on. As if reading my thoughts, Mike said, "Again, ignore the lights. They just wasted their time there. But the heat was definitely a factor." Then, he ran downstairs to the basement, where thick cables had been tapped into the 220 circuit and run across the ceiling and up through a crude hole in the ceiling.
Still dazed by the mess and smell, I couldn't immediately place the room that the cables came up in. I figured I'd soon find out. Moments later, Mike and I were in the bathroom, holding our noses at the smell and looking at the cables that came up from the floor and attached to the toilet. He carefully pointed to the now-sprung trip wire, inches from Rosie's toasted corpse.
"I don't get it!" I murmured. Mike looked exasperated, but walked me through it. We went back to the kitchen, where Rosie woke up and wolfed down the meat.
"Gee!" I said, you'd think she'd be thirsty after all that!"
Rosie was so absorbed in her renewed appetite (which was voracious considering she was just dead a second ago), that she never saw the bowling ball that came flying through the window and crushed her skull. Unperturbed, she continued eating.
"That was weird..." somebody in the room said, just before a toilet bowl came flying through the wall and destroyed the refrigerator. And then the room went dark. And a voice came out of that darkness and said, "CUT!!!!!!!!" And then the lights came back on, and I could see everyone. Everyone PLUS one more, a short, balding man carrying a hat that said, "I'm the Director so bow."
"CUUUUTTTT!!!!!!" he screamed again, and picked up somebody by the lapel of his jacket. "LOOOK at this mess!!!! What the heck IS all this? Bowling balls, toilet bowls, electrocution, intelligent, coherently thinking canines!! Who the heck approved this crazy film???"
"You did, sir...."
"SHUT UP!!!!" At this point the director turned towards everyone else in the room, and we stood at attention as he screamed at us some more: "I will NOT have this sort of chaos, it doesn't make sense! And I DEFinately will NOT tolerate the word "epoxied" being thrown around at will..." And from somewhere came a deep, throaty, sepulchral voice chanting one word over and over and over... "Epoxied, Epoxied, Epoxied, Epoxied, Epoxied...."
"SHUT UPPP!!!" hollered the director one last time before a huge sandbag was released from the upper catwalk, crushing him utterly.
"Now," came that deep voice again, "May we please return to the chaos and weirdness? It was most fun!"
We were in no position to disagree, and the lights went out again in preparation for the next scene...
Chloe looked over into the corner and saw Rosie twitching in her sleep. Rosie was tossing and turning, barking and beying. It was as if she was being visited by the Night Mares. And it seemed to Cleo that Rosie might be trying to chase them or fight them in her dream.
Cleo turned to Lassie and asked, "What should we do?"
Just then, a Siamese cat entered the room. The Siamese cat turned to Cleo and asked, in a typical mischevious fashion, what was wrong with Rosie. Lassie chose to answer the question. "We believe that she is being visited by the Night Mares. And we are not sure how to best help her."
The cat grinned from whisker to whisker in typical Siamese fashion. "I have the answer," he said. "You must awaken her."
Cleo turned to Lassie, and asked, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Cleo turned to the cat and asked, "Do you have a name?"
The Siamese cat sat on his haunches, with his rear legs low and his tail twitching. It was easy to see the crick in his tail as Cleo tried to look into his crossed eyes. "Of course I do," replied the cat. "My master calls me Niban. I call myself 'Mreowoweowoewoweow.'"
Niban took the lead as he, Lassie and Cleo walked towards Rosie. Niban took his left paw and started to swat at Rosie. Lassie stopped him, and allowed him to proceed only after insuring that Niban's claws were not extended. "Drat," thought Niban. "I had a chance and the collie was too smart for me."
Rosie awoke after only a few swats from Niban. Sweat was dripping off of her tongue, and her eyes had the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Cleo hugged Rosie and asked, "Are you okay?"
Rosie wailed as only a labrador retriever could wail. Her wail was a sad lonely wailing, one full of pain and agony, of misery and fear. "It was horrible. I dreamt that I had been killed. I dreamt that I was not really dead, but that I was undead. It was so frightening, and then black eggs started rolling down a hill at me. At the end of my dream, my dead master was not dead, but was yelling, 'cut' and things like that. I thought he was telling someone to cut me up. I know he does not like me because he disappeared on me."
Niban approached Rosie and said, "Goddess, you had everyone here worried." Then, turning to Lassie and Cleo, he whispered, "She is in bad shape. I will help you find the killer."
Lassie looked at him in wonder. "Goddess?" she asked.
"Yes, Goddess," said Niban.
Then, without further opportunity for explanation, Lassie continued. "Why would you want to help dogs? You are a Siamese cat. Not just a cat, but Siamese. Siamese cats do not help anyone without a reason. What's in it for you?"
Niban looked at Lassie quizzically, and replied, "All of the masters of dogs who were killed also had Siamese cats."
So it was, there were 2 dogs and a cat. And a dead body. Lassie looked over at Cleo... panting. "I'd say we get outta here."
Two dogs, a cat. And a body.
Niban was busy cleaning her face with a wet paw. Both dogs looked impatiently at her, and when she looked up she merely smirked. "Waiting for me?"
Lassie led the way, and the animals departed through an open door at the back.
"I'm hungry," Cleo complained.
"Exactly where are we going?" Niban asked.
"Shhh... I smell something," Lassie replied distractedly. Cleo sighed and the trio ventured into a wide, deep, dark forest... which was what they found to be surrounding them. All at once there was a lone howl... Niban's middle raised, and Lassie barked. An owl sounded, and the wind whistled through the trees...
"I don't like this," Coal complained...
"I don't either," replied Lassie... "Run!!!!!!"
Lassie barked loudly, "Run??? WHERE???" And things got very confusing as the three animals tangled up into each other as they each bolted in different directions. Niban spit and swatted whichever dog was in her way, hissing and yowling in a very loud... very eerie manner. That only served to frighten the dogs further. They finally managed to untangle themselves... and ran straight toward a streetlight which was illuminating the sidewalk and corner in a strange, bluish glow.
They slowed their paces a bit once they reached it, panting and gasping for breath. Niban was the first to gain composure. She plopped down, and started licking her fur trying to get all of the hairs going in one direction and, most assuredly, getting the dog slobber off of her.
"Well!", she harrumphed. "A fine kettle of fish YOU two are!... We're going to look for a killer, and you two get scared at the first owl that hoots!" And with that, and a haughty look, she continued her meticulous grooming.
Lassie and Cleo simply glared at the cat... still panting hard... clearly out of breath. Cleo leaned over to her friend and whispered, "You know? THIS is why we hate cats!"
"I heard that!" hissed Niban to the two dogs as they continued trying to catch their breath. "Fine then! You donit want my help? Great! Catch the killer on your own!" And with great pomp and exaggerated swagger... Niban strutted off across the street towards an opening in a broken, tattered picket fence.
Just as she poked her head through... curious as to what was on the other side... the sound of an animal growl, deep, menacing... and loud echoed into the night. The dogs bolted upright, ears perked toward the fence. The last thing they saw was the sight of the Siamese cat being dragged into that hole. The last thing they thought was... "hmmmm.....decisions...decisions..."...
... The sound of a chain clanking brings Lassie around with a start. She had made the near fatal mistake of allowing herself to be lulled into trusting the stranger with the odd nose. Her thoughts had taken her racing through the events of the last few days. The stranger was trying to trap her, to leash her within the confines of the cold, barren freezer. He planned to leave her there, to die a slow death near the body of her master. She rears suddenly, pulling free of the stranger's grasp, and bolts through the still open door.
Without fear Lassie leads the stranger on the chase of his life. Up the stairs, through the wrecked kitchen, and into the yard. Once outside, Lassie was sure of what she had to do. No way was Lassie about to let this murderer, this mangler who took the life of the one human she trusted more than any other. Loudly she began to bark, calling attention to herself and the villain that chased closely at her heels. Over the fence, and through the dimly lit alley she led him, determined to bring him down, as he had her master. As she turned the corner, Lassie at last saw her chance to even the score.
Across the street against the side of the tall apartment complex, rose a fire escape. Lassie streaked up the first flight, dodging up and down as bullets whizzed past her head. Her plan was working. The killer followed her, like an animal being drawn into a trap. The fire escape was flimsy at best. As the pair neared the top, Lassie stooped suddenly. She turned to face her pursuer. The killer smiled a maniacal smile, and drew closer to his prey. His next step, however, was his downfall. As his full weight came to bear on the last step, near the top, the bolts began to pull from the wall.
Lassie leaped to a platform next to the landing and watched as the killer froze in fear. The stairs creaked and moaned under his weight. Without warning, the last two bolts holding the stairs in place gave way. The man who had wreaked such havoc on Lassies home, her friends, her community, and most of all her master plummeted to his death. A fitting end for one who had instilled such fear in the hearts of his fellow man.
Lassie carefully climbed down an adjoining set of stairs and solemnly made her way back home. She layed down quietly, sadly at the feet of her former master and waited. Waited for the van that would come and take her master away for the last time.