Ambulance - I

     Majerle woke up to the pleasant news headlines in the Muttford Post that he had fully expected: that there was merely a meeting, without the paper revealing the topics discussed within the meeting. He noticed that it was later than usual - about two-thirty - and in an unknown panic, he leaped out of his bed and ran around the back yard frantically as if he was mad. He returned, exhausted, naturally, and decided to have a "day off", where he would spend his hours awake touring around the city that he governed over, to visit the spectacular landmarks that made him proud to call Muttford his home.

     He turned his large television on to the MCS News Network, (or the MNN), where the lead story showed an angry group of human farmers in California, with protest banners and anti-Muttford t-shirts, obviously upset over the Muttford government's cancellation of livestock food orders, a quick result of the meeting the day before. Of course, to the average citizen, it would appear that this was just another example of human madness: likely, they wouldn't ever know that meat was being reduced from their diets, with the government's reasoning that if they can't get it, they'll discover an alternative.

     MSS, the Muttford Sports Service, previewed the upcoming Wordolg Football League game between the Muttford Vikings and their rival San Francisco Canine 49ers, at the Pyradome, in two days. It was the final game of the regular season for each team: the winner would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs; the other would have the harder schedule. San Francisco had beaten Muttford handily, earlier in the season. The Vikings were one of the top teams in the league this year, if not the best, and had played in the championship game, the DogBowl, the preceding year against the unconquerable New Orleans Gators, and had been annihilated. This year's DogBowl was to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, also the site of the Battle-Urquhart fight, which Majerle was similarly anticipating.

     He switched back to MNN at the end of its news broadcast, to view the daily Obituary and Missing Individuals segments. As usual, the Muttford totals were very low, but still significant: where could dozens of educated animals be disappearing every day? The International section revealed that about ten thousand dogs disappeared around the world each day, and nobody in the global canine community could quite understand what was happening. Majerle himself had his theories, ranging from prolonged vacation, to unregistered adventures into the human world, but neither of which gave any reason why few were ever accounted for again. This subject concerned him gravely, however, Majerle was too happy with the accurate reports of the Thanksgiving crisis to give the matter additional, wasted thought.

     He spent the afternoon rehearsing the many facets of his humour, in preparation for his Late Show appearance in less than a week. He realised that he had to make a strong representation of the city, and to positively promote Muttford was his initial goal.

     He then proceeded to travel around the city, experiencing the pleasures on a selection of efficient local transportation systems, gazing out towards the bountiful ocean and the immaculate design of the city. Though he never conversed with his environment, he often imagined what it would be like to be "regular" again, something now impossible, but intriguing nonetheless.

     In the evening he entered the Pyradome's field area, where he indulged in several workout activities. Those he was the mayor of the city, he was also a key player for the Muttford Vikings; most of the prominent members of government were local sports heroes, the logic to this being that the population would listen to and support a government whose individuals they admired. Majerle was having an excellent season as a wide receiver, as were his fellow teammates and government staff. The game was only two days away, but the Vikings' personnel put little emphasis into training for the upcoming game, conserving their energy for the ever-nearing playoffs that they had already qualified for. Of course, they wanted to destroy their cross-town rivals, but they similarly had the long-range goal of having full stamina throughout the following games. Also, the talent on the Vikings was unsurpassed, so their team at even half-strength could thrash most of the others in the league.

     Majerle returned home in time for David Letterman, and once again laughed himself to sleep. His decision to stay home was in his opinion, a good one, but had he realised the message that had been left earlier on his computer (and would be awaiting him upon his return on Tuesday), he wouldn't have been able to sleep that night, or more likely, ever.






Ambulance - II

     The first major controversy at work concerned Bear, and his ever-stiffening, ever-worsening temper. Mr. and Mrs. Stone had taken a month-long vacation, leaving Scotch officially in charge, and Bear as the second-in-command. At the conclusion of the week before, Europe had forgotten to take a scheduled break, which had been foolishly set an hour before his lunch. Bear refused to refurbish him with another after lunch, so Europe had to work four-and-a-half hours straight, (which was really too much for anybody). Today, in obvious rebellion, Europe decided to add an additional five minutes, on top of his standard fifteen, thinking that he was justly entitled to it. Naturally, Bear thought to the contrary, and confronted Europe upon his return. Earlier that day, Bear had declared "permanent separation" between Europe and Dollar, orders that the two of them publicly disobeyed. Noticing that the pair were still together further added to Bear's over-zealous reaction, and with the extra time taken by Europe on his break, he grew increasingly more vehement.

          “I thought I had you separated.”

          “...You did,” stuttered Europe, because he couldn't think of anything to say.

          “I want you on a different table, in five minutes.” Bear lowered his voice, his eyes darkened, and continued. “I strongly hope you understand that breaks are fifteen minutes, not twenty, and definitely not thirty. Don't make a habit of it.” Feeling that his point had been punctuated, Bear shot the pair a final glance before appearing to depart the kitchen.

     The kitchen is set up in an ordinary, neat fashion, bordered by milky mushroom white walls, framing gigantic, full-length mirrors that reflect over the entire room. There are six, long, brown tables, furnished completely with trays, shelves, utensils, and basins, and lie perpendicular to the "Transfer" entrance, which separates the kitchen from the dining area. Each table is a bordered aisle in itself, as additional shelves, stocked with food, bowls, mixers, and other equipment, lining and blocking each working space from another. It is morally impossible to view a table from within its neighbour, without having to disturb or re-arrange the items on the shelves. However, each aisle is fully monitorable by either of the huge mirrors, the vast video surveillance cameras, and at each opening to the individual tables. This is not typical of work conditions in Muttford, but that is because Compliments is a human-owned and operated business.

     The large mirrors exposed Europe's exaggerated sneer, which was observed in full by the sneaky eye of Bear, who returned even before Europe's expression had changed.

          “I saw that,” he fumed, figurative smoke shooting from his ears. “That is it, I have almost had enough with you.”

          “What? I haven't done anything to you,” Europe protested.

          “Aside from displaying a complete lack of respect for authority, and purposeful disobeying of the rules, your enduring cheeky comments have become unacceptable.”

          “I haven't said anything cheeky.”

          “That crack about the pace being picked, what about that?”

          “That was Dollar, you oaf, get your bloody facts straight.”

     The "oaf" in the sentence raised Bear's ears and eyes beyond belief, as if he were unable to process what had just been said.

          “I'm warning you now, I am heavily considering filing a grievance to the union about you...” His words trailed off, begging to his non-existent human God that Europe hadn't noticed; he had.

          “Excuse me, but there is no union, because that type of formation is illegal in the city, and...” Europe interrupted himself, a flash in the back of his mind disconnecting his current train of thought. He continued, “So your threats become invalid.” Bear paused, blanking the defeat from his mind, before responding.

          “If you like to argue, to refuse to abide by the rules, and to exhibit disrespect towards your superiors, you know exactly where the door is.” With an exultant punch into the air, (which amused Dollar profoundly), Bear exited the kitchen and didn't return that evening.

     Europe fumed over the incident until his and Dollar's working day was over, where they journeyed to the cloakroom to collect their personal belongings. Europe's thoughts were jumbled, circling one, stirring action, the reason of which he did not know. He realised that his mind had discovered a brilliant idea, but he had no means of translating it into relevant language. Dollar, removing a box of cheese from his bag, offered Europe a chunk, and, noticing his apparent state of wisdom, talked to him.

          “I asked around - nobody likes Bear.”

          “Nobody should, because he is an oaf.” He took the cheese.

          “Anyway, you like Battle, you look like Battle: you could kick his human ass in a second.”

          “How did you know I liked Battle?”

          “I saw you purchase a fight ticket yesterday for the Battle versus Warfield fight, which is, by the way, going to be amazing.”

          “Battle is going to destroy Warfield,” shivered a confident Europe in glee, additionally excited that the conversation had come up. “Would you like to come with me, I have another ticket?”

          “No, but thank you, I am already going.”

          “The Prism, December twenty-third, Battle against Warfield, the greatest fight of the year, at least until the following week. The Vazierdrome in Las Vegas, December thirty-first, the winner of Battle-Warfield against the towering Urquhart.” Europe panted in exhaustion after his attempt at commentating.

          “Very impressive,” Dollar responded. “You certainly know your Fights.”

          “Yes, I can hardly wait. Battle is my only real hero.” He paused, then smirked. “Well, and Bear.”






Ambulance - III

     Crowe took the Mutt to the Pyradome in the afternoon, and paid the maximum two-dollar fare for unlimited daily travel throughout Muttford. Her ticket and personal belongings in hand, she sat beside the window, placed her belongings on the seat to her left, and gazed out into the darkness that was life outside. The shimmering blue water stung the shores with a cold, unforgiving moisture, dissolving the sand it drowned, back into its navy tide. The sun was a bright, dark white, a glow that could blind the average dog, but that couldn't deter Crowe, who stared back mesmerised at the trance it provided.

     The train was hardly full, yet a boarding passenger, a scruffy-looking older male, plunked his body down beside her, almost before she was able to shift her belongings, and spilling her beverage over her attire. The passenger hardly noticed, hence didn't apologise, and she was left soaking and seething: nobody ever harmed her and got away with it.

     She transferred her attention to her hobby of observation; the monorail was the penultimate area for this, because of the many strange individuals that frequented its system. She saw large dogs and small dogs, several obese humans, a party of disoriented cats, and a rhinoceros dressed in a business suit. At the following stop, University, the station before the system moved into its security enforced, central island admission section, two new passengers boarded the train. The first was tall and boring, a short-hared individual who was dressed as if he was either a computer processor, or simply enjoyed wearing a white collared shirt and black pants. The second was more interesting, but only slightly, and his blue matching pants and hat didn't make an impression on Crowe.

          “Where's the shirt?” asked Crowe, bored and uncomfortable.

          “What?” replied the dog, surprised, and then embarrassed. “Oh, my shirt. Mama forgot to wash it, so I had to wear yellow instead.”

          “Oh.” Crowe sank back into her seat, praying to DHI to get the passenger beside her to depart the train, or at least, move. She mustered up several dozen farts, hoping the stench would be too excessive for him, but he actually took it as a sign of greeting.

          “What's your name, sweetie?” he said, his black eyes searching her body impurely.

          “Shut up.” Crowe always remained cool and calm, and even if she had been stabbed or attacked, her heartbeat wouldn't rise.

          “Ah, feisty. Don't you think that you are a little too young to be exposing yourself in public. I mean, supporters of the Black Cats aren't taken very kindly to here.”

          “Shut up,” she warned again, insulted, and having recognised his intent on ruffling her cool facade by making disrespectful comments. The Black Cats were the only problematic organisation in Muttford, a part of the underworld governed by anarchistic cats who were frequently attempting to destroy the canine underworld. He continued, unfazed, possibly intoxicated.

          “You sit there on your seat, in your own little world, in your silly black outfit, your ridiculous taste in music. Who do you think you are? An idiot like the Mas-... What are you doing?”

     Ignoring his final question, she picked up her cellular telephone, and dialled the phone number of one of the Underground's affiliates on the central island. The phone was answered almost immediately, having their call-display function present them with the recognisable identification of Crowe, known amongst the underworld as being one of the highest members of the Underground.

          “Hello, Crowe, how may I help you?” came the voice.

          “I have an insulting bastard sitting next to me on the Mutt. Please send a Class-C party to confront him.”

          “I can do that, but it might take a couple of minutes. What station is he departing?”

          “How the mate should I know? If I started talking to him, I'd probably kill him myself.” A conductor for the Mutt entered their carriage, ready to check each passengers’ identification for access into the central island. Meanwhile, the passenger beside her continued to insult her, before he laid his large, grubby paws atop her chest. She screamed murder, and shouted into the phone.

          “He is also a rapist, the sick bastard just felt me up! I want a Class-A, now, now, now, and I want the group at the next station, Prism! Get the mate to it!”

     Knowing not to argue with Crowe, the voice hung up, and Crowe was left ranting and boiling, yet secretly knowing that the passenger beside her wouldn't live a happy life in his existence of scum. At that point, the passenger with the matching blue outfit had picked the passenger beside her up, and shoved him against the window. He flashed his MCS Department Card - almost certain punishment to those who see it - and made a phone call himself, before leaving the train at Prism. The passenger beside her ran after him, although it likely seemed that he was trying to escape Crowe. Calm again, she peered out the window into the abyss of light below - the glass walls of the Prism were blindingly bright - and she could make out the faint outlines of a group of about twenty large dogs surrounding the passenger who had sat beside her, before the train moved again and let the group vanish into the spitting mist. She revelled in her unrequited power.

     Upon her arrival at the Pyradome, she obtained the package of tickets miraculously quickly, and the line-up for the Battle-Warfield Fight tickets was relatively short. Seconds after she boarded the Mutt for her return journey to the Underground, her telephone rung: it was the voice again, an Underground affiliate named Apple, who controlled the Underground's central-island vicinity. The train started to pull away.

          “Crowe, we have him here for you, and we need you to come here: he has your passport, identification, and train ticket on him.”

          “What?!? Apple, the train has started moving, there is a conductor about twenty-seconds away before he checks me, Apple, I'm going to get caught.”

          “Well, get off the train as quickly as you can. Leap through a friggin' window, just get out of there,” he urged, knowing all too well the strict laws and penalties imposed upon passengers who possessed no identification.

          “I can't, he's right behind me... I'll be in the alley behind the Underground as soon as I get out of here, meet me there.”

          “But, Crowe...” he whined.

          “Do as I say,” she yelled. “Just let me take care of this.”

     The conductor waddled over to her, a plump, jolly-looking penguin, and smiled in salutation. She lowered her eyes to the floor, resigned, and very embarrassed.

          “Ticket and identification,” he asked politely. She pretended to slowly make her way into her pockets, attempting to stall him by making idle conversation until the Prism station was reached.

          “You know, I thought that you couldn't get on the train or purchase a ticket for the central island unless you had everything, because of the plentiful computer scanners,” she said, reserving her trembling, and continuing to fake searching her pockets.

          “Ah, yes,” answered the jolly conductor. “But the computers have been down for several hours now, because of some problem with MCS.” He paused. “Can't you find it?”

          “No. It seems I've misplaced it, but it should be here.”

          “Well, you continue looking, and I'll be back before we reach the Prism. Don't worry, I believe you, but I have to search everybody.”

          “Thank you, sir,” she wheezed, planning her escape route. Her eyes darted around the carriage, recognising only a handful of the passengers from her previous ride, though none of them seemed to notice her. Her mind screamed out lies, possible falsities that may free her, but was too frightened to make sense of anything. The conductor returned, smiled again, before asking if she had found it.

          “Not yet.” Then, almost as an afterthought, she provided him with the package of tickets, hoping that her Underground identification card would provide him with the basic information he needed. He searched through the package and found the card.

          “Ah, yes, the Underground, my son wants to join there. Your name is Crowe? He talks about you all the time... pity that he can't get in, though.”

          “I'll get him in, without any problems at all,” she blurted, translating his meaning to be one of a deal: if his son was allowed in the Underground (and then they'd banish him soon after), and she would get off the train, unharmed. “Take my number down, and as soon as I get off the train, I'll find him a password.”

          “How generous you are,” thanked the unassuming conductor, as he took down her phone number. “But I'm afraid that I can't let you leave this train until you show me your ticket.” He had been innocent and naive all along, implying nothing from his preceding words.

     At that ensuing moment, the train pulled into Prism station, the doors opened, and after a shocked, pondering pause, Crowe darted out of the train and into what she thought was freedom. The penguin conductor continued to smile, pressed a button, and let the quartet of station security guards prevent her from escape. She conceded defeat in frustration, then realised the seriousness of what she had done, and the possibility of prison prompted her to cry for the first time in her life.






Ambulance - IV

     Europe drove Queen home later that night, after having met on the same beach earlier in the evening, and mutually decided to swim with each other. They had bobbed up and down the elegant ocean, the water forming a canvas upon which they were the painters, masterfully applying the art of swimming to their aquatic link of temporary, heated romance.

     Unaware of the time, the evening had ended later than expected, and, with Queen's strict curfew of twelve o'clock, Europe offered to drive her home, having come to the beach in his mother's car. He decided to take a longer route, so that he could spend some quiet, undisrupted time with her, so he drove on a deserted, minor road away from the sea. As far west (thus, north) as they could go inside the boundaries of Muttford, they parked in a grassy field and watched the ticking of the clock: it was only eleven-thirty. They sat quietly together, each gazing into the dark unknown that was the forest, the guarded border of Muttford. They did nothing together, nor said anything to each other; they merely donated their minds to their flag to envision either the freedom or the horror that lay beyond the woods; Europe often wondered what would happen to him if he ever ventured into the forest. For fifteen minutes they sat in a unified, ambient silence, before Europe navigated the car around the field and exited for Queen's house.

     They passed an array of long, darkened fields, when the car's headlights suddenly illuminated a running figure. The figure ran, and ran, accelerating and gliding, hovering, flying, and leaping through the night between the moon and the boring land below. Europe pulled up closer, entranced and confused; he thought it was either a crazy animal, or a prize-winning show creature. It was definitely a dog, a tall, lanky canine, an athletic, agile animal who refused to submit to the laws of gravity. The dog danced with the stars, the unlimited darkness providing a backdrop for his performance upon the withering air that gave him a stage; the shadows upon the ever-watching grass ignited imaginary flames from his invisible wings. He ran back and forth, galloping faster than anyone had ever seen, before reaching his peak, a climactic race towards the forest.

     As this wondrous athlete passed a very stunned Europe and Queen, Europe recognised that the graceful figure was none other than his friend from work, Dollar.

     After dropping Queen off at her house, the memory of Dollar's remarkable display starting to disappear (though never entirely escaping his mind), Europe remembered what Bear had spoken about his threat to go to the union. Again perturbed at the mention of the non-existent organisation, Europe decided to leave an anonymous message on the machine of the MCS Security headquarters, revealing only the name of the restaurant. He didn't know what exactly would come out of it, but he wanted to do what he could to prevent any type of inner-Muttford revolution.






Ambulance - V

     Crowe finally arrived in the alley behind the Underground, shaken, shocked, and immensely perturbed. She was two hours later than expected, (and had missed her evening at the opera house) - although Apple and his associates wouldn't have dared to leave, no matter how long she took - so she sat down and buried her disgusted face under her quivering paws. Apple stood up in front of her, and the Airedale's group of various dogs, the train passenger locked into their claws, gathered behind him.

          “What happened?” he asked sympathetically.

          “I have a date set to appear in court in December, with two additional charges that could keep me in jail for a long time.”

          “What else did you do?”

          “Aside from unlawfully escaping the conductor, I also bit a security guard out of my anger, thanks to this idiot over here.”

          “How much was the fine?”

          “Twelve-thousand dollars for not providing a ticket, as well as the additional counts.” Apple and his crowd whistled in shock, whilst the passenger began to plead and cry out towards her.

          “I'll pay your fine, I'll tell them everything that happened! Please, please, let me go, I promise to go to court with you...”

          “Shut your mating trap, you won't be alive then,” she interrupted violently. Her tone dropped an octave, and became very calm and powerful in its texture. “Call Raven and Heineken out here.” Heineken was a brutishly tall individual, one of the members of the Underground who was involved in the extermination and extraction of problematic opponents. Raven rushed towards Crowe hastily, the large Heineken behind her.

          “I missed you at Moore's tonight, I was worried for you,” Raven comforted, embracing Crowe in her silky paws. Crowe said nothing, before closing her eyes and waving Heineken towards the passenger. She found out that his name was Sveum.

     He was knocked unconscious immediately, his life plunging into an irreversible depth, with the final blow administered courtesy of Crowe's bullet-coated boots. The group then journeyed to discard the body, though he was still slightly alive, and flung him into the boundaries of the forest of Muttford.






Ambulance - VI

     Sunday passed with a disheartening 33-17 loss to the San Francisco Canine 49ers, who pranced around the Pyradome's field in glee whilst administering continuing punishment to the Vikings. The Vikings had lost both games to the 49ers, had relinquished home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and were scheduled to meet the winner of the upcoming Nebraska-Minnesota playoff game, in two weeks. The city trudged around unhappily for the next fortnight, thoughts of revenge becoming the common thread of ambition amongst the citizens. Eighteen more dogs had disappeared from Muttford, with another seven hundred across the planet.






Ambulance - VII

     On Wednesday, the morning of his big appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman", Majerle's stomach knotted itself into ropes of sheer discomfort. Though it was to be his third occasion chatting with David Letterman, the prospect of talking with a legend in front of billions of creatures world-wide, trying to be humorous (but likely looking silly), scared Majerle to such an extent that he wished that he was a cat. Cats never appear as guests on The Late Show, although they are frequently targeted for humour, even by David Letterman himself; sometimes he throws them on surfboards (cats can't surf), sometimes he drops them out of windows to see if they land on their paws.

     Majerle decided to stay in bed for an additional hour, theorising that the extra rest would provoke much-needed relaxation, and calm down his jittery nerves, for once. Unfortunately, it made matters worse, because when Majerle finally woke up from his deep, profound sleep, it was two-forty-eight, three hours later than Majerle had planned for, and consequently throwing him into a rocketed state of worry and tension. In his hysteria, which was weighted by his drowsiness from over-sleeping, he stayed in bed for another fifteen minutes, his mind only able to control itself and its thoughts, and not the decisive actions it could have been making Majerle's body make.

     The telephone rang - Majerle thought it was an air-raid siren (which was strange, because Majerle wasn't old enough to have ever heard one... he likely watched too much television) - and he jumped towards the ceiling as if he thought he was a leaping grasshopper. The individual on the other end of the phone was Timmons, who was worried and nervous about Majerle's absence from the office. Of course, the last creature that Majerle wanted to have telephone him, after he had almost died from fright, was a cat, and Majerle was very sensitive about this.

          “What the hell do you want?” barked Majerle into the phone.

          “I've called to check on you. Did I wake you?”

          “Yes,” lied Majerle. “I plan to sleep in for the first time in a long time, and some 'worried' cat-dog has the nerve to wake me from it.” His voice dipped, teasingly, but in performed seriousness. “There will be hell to pay for this, Timmons.”

     There was no response, only a grave gulp from Timmons, who had apparently once again bought Majerle's empty threats.

          “Timmons, where the hell are you? Answer me, you swine.”

          “Please don't hurt me, sir, I'm still recovering from whiplash and broken paws, and I'm in little emotional state for this.”

          “Timmons, you have to stop being like a cat. How are you ever going to live comfortably and safely in Muttford if you go around, acting like a silly, scared cat? You are half-dog, half-cat, so why don't you start to act out your better part? Go downtown, drink some curdled milk - and don't complain about it like you usually do! Dogs are Gods spelled backwards, you know.”

          “Actually, Majerle, Dogs are “Sgod” spelled backwards.” There was a long, tremulous silence from the other end.

          “I'm going now, Timmons,” breathed Majerle, ashamed that his favourite phrase, 'dogs are gods spelled backwards', had been proven correctly incorrect, and thus making Majerle out to be an umbilical imbecile. “Listen to my suggestion: be more of a dog, and everybody will like you more.”

     He hung up, leaving Timmons blurting out the vital information: where to meet, when to meet, what time the show started, but Majerle had gone.

     Timmons sat in his little pink-brown room, digesting the point that Majerle had so tactlessly made. He wanted to become a dog, if not, then as much of one as he could be. He made plans to participate in more "doggy" activities: he would run, he would jump, he would howl at the moon, he would even drink curdled milk. Timmons winced at the notion of the final idea, but considered it vital that he execute it to become respected by Majerle.






Ambulance - VIII

     The only potential bright spot at work for Europe occurred in the afternoon, when a new employee commenced his duties as a line-cook at Compliments. He was male, yes, hence eliminating any sexual orientation (unless Europe ever drank a quantitative of potent curdled milk), but the new addition gave hope to Europe that he may be one of his kind.

     Otherwise, work grew increasingly worse as each day passed, prompting Europe to dread the night before his following shift, as well as the shift itself, so the only day he ever looked forward to anymore was Saturday, when he could go swimming. On Monday, after an extended flirtation with Secord, Europe was pushed to the office by Bear, who declared, "any relationships formed between co-workers was strictly prohibited". Bear, with Mr. and Mrs. Stone still away on vacation, continued to believe that he was the master of the restaurant, when obviously he never was. Scotch was still the highest manager at Compliments, and had the authority to execute any internal decisions whilst the owners were absent.

     Wednesday evening, after he had been lured into yet another long web of Bear's fallacies, Europe decided to have a private conversation with Scotch to outline where he stood, and what he could do about Bear's annoying tendencies.

          “You're absolutely right, Bear doesn't ever do much, but don't you worry about him, because he has no power here. Just avoid him, and stick with me, and you'll be just fine,” garbled Scotch in his Scottish accent. Europe actually felt much better about the prospects of working at Compliments, at least until he could discover a new job, and the optimism carried him through the remainder of the day with a crooked smile on his face each time he passed Bear.






Ambulance - IX

          “You cannot continue your recent activities. This violence, and the formation of underworld gangs cannot continue any further,” said one of the Master's guards to Crowe.

          “Who are you to tell me what I cannot continue doing?” she asked indignantly, yet satisfied that her actions had, at last, gained the Master's attention.

          “We are the Guards of the Master. We - ”

          “I am a close acquaintance of the Master, I am one of his closest disciples,” she interrupted confidently. One of the guards - there were six - picked up his receiver and dialled the Master's secret number, for the first time in many, many months. There was no answer, which was very odd because they didn't think that the Master went anywhere these days.

          “Well... we have to take your word for it, seeing that the Master is preoccupied with external affairs. What is your name?”

          “Pointy.”

          “Her name is Crowe,” a smaller guard chipped in.

          “How is it that you know this?” inquired the head guard.

          “I've been told about her, by many others,” he answered.

     Reasonably content with what they had achieved, considering that if they did take her along with them, and she was an acquaintance of the Master, they would be severely punished for it. So they departed, into the cold, black darkness, leaving Crowe alone in her glee and her multiplying power.






Ambulance - X

          “You know our next guest as a both a Pirate and a Viking, a local hero here in Muttford,” announced David Letterman. “Please give a warm hand to the Mayor of Muttford, the city so nice they named it after dogs... Majerle!”

     Majerle bounded onto the stage to a standing ovation, consequently almost knocking David Letterman off his feet, and shook both of his paws feverishly. David Letterman gently grabbed one, whispered into one of Majerle's twitching ears in an effort to relax him, and guided him to his chair.

          “A little excited, aren't we?” smiled David Letterman.

          “Woof. Woof, woof, woof,” woofed Majerle, who was living the experience so intensely that he forgot the language of human English. “Woof, woof!” he emphasised. David Letterman continued to smile, accustomed to Majerle's characteristic initial fright: it was their third meeting.

          “How about we get you some curdled milk?” David Letterman suggested. “That should knock the sense back into you.”

          “Woof - thank you,” stuttered Majerle, gradually accepting his position in the current television spotlight.

          “So, who is going to win this weekend's big games. Your team, the Vikings, of course, are going to play against the winners of this week's games, the ensuing weekend. Who do you like?”

     Majerle, now fully past his petrified state, warmed to the conversation about football and the team he played for.

          “I like Nebraska over Minnesota - easily - because they are just too powerful. Then, I like St. Louis to topple Colorado. You know, it really doesn't matter who we play, because everybody knows that we are going to play San Francisco, and thump them, and then we are going to Las Vegas.” The crowd erupted in hurricanes of cheering at Majerle's reference to the rival 49ers.

          “How about in the other conference? How about those New Orleans Gators?” David Letterman's suggestion gathered a loud series of hisses and boos from the local Muttford audience.

          “Yes, New Orleans are the best team in their conference, but also watch for New York and Florida, two teams that give us no trouble whatsoever.”

          “Moving along, what else have you been up to, lately?”

          “I've been sleeping a lot.” The crowd, familiar with Majerle's slothful manner, laughed with him.

          “You sleep a lot, don't you?”

          “Yes.”

          “So when you actually wake up, what do you do? Where do you go? What exactly does a day in the life of Majerle entail?”

          “I go to my office and chase around my cat.” The mostly-canine audience howled in appreciation, whilst Timmons, who was standing meekly in a wing, was forcing himself to howl along. “Sometimes we have meetings and stuff, but mostly not.”

          “What happens in your meetings?” The producer started to rhythmically wave his hands towards David Letterman. Majerle, observing the signal, burst out a quick, humourless reply.

          “We talk to rhinoceroses.” That astounded David Letterman, who had prepared himself to welcome the commercial, so he prodded Majerle further.

          “Rhinoceroses? What are they doing, coming up in your government meetings?”

          “There is this one, great rhinoceros, who attends all of our meetings. He loves the city, and he tries to incorporate aspects of this city into his own.”

          “Wow,” exclaimed David Letterman. “I'd like to see a rhinoceros come through this theatre once in a while.”

          “Well, how about now?” asked Majerle, who waved to Rusty, the Leader of the Rhinoceroses, to enter, and Rusty walked towards David Letterman, who was shocked beyond belief, mainly because a two-ton rhinoceros was steamrollering towards him.

          “We have to do a commercial break now, so don't go away, we'll keep visiting with Majerle... and – err - Rusty.”

     The commercial break was spent throwing water over David Letterman's face, who had nearly passed out again; since moving to Muttford, he had never had a single show where something based on animals or their instincts hadn't come popping out at him, and his blood pressure had suffered because of it. When the "on air" light re-emerged, David Letterman still hadn't recovered.

          “You know, Majerle, you've brought an elephant out here,” he said, as a clip of a past, Majerle appearance was depicted. “You also brought a family of cheetahs out here once,” as the specific clip was shown. “But I must say, the rhino takes the cake.”

          “It's the least I can do,” comforted Majerle.

          “Hell - I feel like Jack Hanna, working here,” David Letterman said to a chorus of heated hoots: Jack Hanna caged animals, and no animal liked to see another caged. “I must say, though, none of our pieces are ever rehearsed. It really shows your knack for insightful intuition to incorporate these things into the conversation.”

          “Thank you,” accepted Majerle, who was blushing under his brown, furry face. “Thank you very much.”

          “Can you stick around for Morning Glory?” asked David Letterman to a swarm of excessive cheering.

          “Hell,” imitated Majerle of David Letterman. “It's my city, ain't it?” The audience exploded into hysterical cackles, as another commercial break was signalled. When the live broadcast returned, it was to an electric atmosphere as Morning Glory stood under the strobe lights and initiated the psychedelic sounds of "Where Am I?" As a National Band, Morning Glory was one of the foremost musical presences in the entire world, one of the many incentives to being a National Band. Guitarist and lead vocalist Tim Chang guided the audience through his distorted, sonic-punk maze of searching for freedom in a very familiar place. And so concluded Majerle's latest Letterman experience...






Ambulance - XI

     "Where am I?" asked a strange, animal voice to itself, venturing into the unknown darkness that eclipsed its being. The voice moved westwards and westwards, crossing the invisible border that separated the human land from the soil of liberty.

     Soon, he was transplanted into an empty field, and through his penetrating nostrils, he thought he had recognised the obvious scent of dogs. He moved towards the smell, his nasal passage leading itself through the murkiness, until he came across another clearing, this one illuminated by a fire, with several dozen dogs lined around it. Though he was embarrassed and a little self-conscious, he journeyed towards the fire to bond with the canine lives, or what he believed to be canines, or living.






Ambulance - XII (1984)

     I emerged inside a room that bore two frightened lovers; frightened at my entrance and anxious about my identity. I stared back in return, similarly confused, before I spoke out to pair, in an unknowingly projected voice.

          “I'm sorry,” I began, whilst the larger individual scrambled towards me. “I didn't realise where I was.”

     He stopped in agony, covered his ears, and searched the room furiously with his blank eyes, straining his ears to hear the slightest sound of anything, before accepting the gracious silence.

          “Forgive my fidgetiness,” said Winston, the male figure who stood almost naked before me. “I thought you were somebody else.” Realising that I was different, (and seemingly naive), the man with the varicose vein explained his disquietude state. “We are alone, hiding here, experiencing the forbidden pleasures of life. For they are everywhere, the Thought Police, reading our every gesture as anarchy, and punishing harshly for any minuscule, unintentional flinch. We are secret warriors, pretending that we are a part of the lying party, yet we plot with the Brotherhood, the secret underground, to save not ourselves, but the future of mankind behind us.”

          “And how do you trust that I myself am not a member of the Thought Police?” I inquired.

          “Because you would have been joined by many others, and you would have seized us immediately after what I had just said.” He motioned to the naked female beside him, who had appeared to doze off. “She is Julia. We are one, together.”

          “Will they ever catch you?” I asked pessimistically.

          “Oh yes. Likely sooner than later. That is why we take the time to enjoy ourselves as much as we can whilst we still live. We are the dead.”

          “We are the dead,” echoed Julia dutifully.

          “You are the dead,” said an iron voice behind them.

     We each threw ourselves into three different areas in the room, as cold as ice, as fearful as death itself.

          “You are the dead,” repeated the iron voice.

          “It was behind the picture,” breathed Julia.

          “It was behind the picture,” said the voice. “Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.”

     I glanced in cumbersome flabbergast into the deathly-white eyes of Julia and the shaking mass that was Winston. This might have been merely a dream for me, but to the beautiful couple that stood before me, it was a shocking reality.

     Glass cracked and broke beside me, as a picture had fallen to the floor, uncovering a strange screen behind it.

          “Now they can see us,” said Julia.

          “Now we can see you,” said the voice. “Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.”

     The collective trembling was a force that I felt, even though we weren't nearly touching. The powerful sound of trampling boots was audible from inside and outside the house, the yard filled with men dressed in black and armed.

          “The huse is surrounded,” said Winston.

          “The house is surrounded,” said the voice.

     Julia snapped her teeth together, and uttered, “I suppose we may as well say good-bye,” she said.

          “You may as well say good-bye,” said the voice. And then the tone of the voice changed, obviously a familiar sound to Winston because his whitened ears perked up. “And by the way, while we are on the subject, 'Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!'”

     The window behind Winston exploded into shards of fragmented glass, the retarded frame ensuing it. The room soon became full of solid men in black uniforms, with iron-shod boots and truncheons in their hands.

     Unaware that the slightest move would have resulted in my head being smashed, though even against Winston's fierce communication through his eyes, I shifted my balance, and was rocketed into a painful unconsciousness.

+ + +

     I lay in a cell, alone, on an elevated bed, and immediately discovered that I was unable to move in the slightest. Ropes had pinned my distorted body to its surface, gluing my broken and tortured bones to its un-cushioned platform. I was, by now, familiar to my habitat: it was my present home, a refuge from the beatings that were ceased only by O'Brien himself, though they had grown less frequent with each passing day. Interrogators shone blinding lights behind his eyes, searching for the answers that I honestly had no visions of. I learned more and more about this world through the continuous questions regarding my "contempt" and "dislike" of the party that I was ruled over, and learned the correct responses quickly through the pain that precise responses deterred. My bladder had long since been destroyed, not being allowed to urinate for days at a time, and being whipped horribly for any cubic millimetre of moisture that I excreted. I regularly pleaded my ignorance of the situation, screamed that I had only recently arrived from my Skyport, but the makers of the false truth didn't accept my version of reality, and classified it to be lies in themselves.

     I thought the day for freedom had come when a man in a white coat entered my room without a smile, with his clipboard and a set of keys. But, when he uttered the fatal words, "Room 101," I scurried in escape from my restraining locks, having heard terrible, life-altering stories from previous fellow inmates in the entrance room. Each one who had been assigned to that horrible place left, but only after vicious fighting and screaming and resistance. I tried to resist, but to no avail, and I was punished additionally for my futile, useless attempts.

     I was wheeled down a white corridor, in a building that I had learned its name to be the Ministry of Love, filled with the ambient sounds of tortured laughs and final confessions, before I was pushed into Room 101. Knotted down, every inch of my helpless body anchored to the table on which I lay straight, I was pierced by a lightning bolt meant just for me, raising my spirit far away from my immovable body.

     Although I tried and tried and tried, I couldn't give the answers that O'Brien wanted to hear, and then I couldn't give the correct answers without him realising that I was lying. "Two plus two is four," repeated my mind continually, to added pain, and added submission.

     Within days of O'Brien's growing impatience, I was prostrated by a mighty blast that removed the independent corners of the inner sanctum that had once been my mind, and after lie after lie was fed into my defenceless cerebrum, I had painfully completed the learning stage of my "re-integration".

     The stage of understanding was similarly as painful, though it was a vehement emotional pain that transcended through my physical body. I had no idea how long I was trapped inside this false world - it could have been days, months, years, centuries - so I had forgotten specific aspects of my physical appearance. However, I couldn't begin to imagine the semblance that greeted me when I was led to a giant room of mirrors, exposing a thin, weak, bony, and dying heap. I turned to the side and almost disappeared; my width was no wider than the bone that supported it, and my height had been lowered by several feet through torture. I was a living, disgusting disease, and my acknowledgement of my obvious imperfection hence finalised my second stage of understanding.

     Over the subsequent days and weeks I was fed and stocked up in mass, much more than I had been when I had arrived. I had been given fresh, clean clothes, and a comfortably-soft mattress and pillow; the bathroom was only a walk away, and I was thankful that I was still able to remember how to walk.

     The only pleasant memory that continued to reside in my now-raped mind, was that of a smiling, prancing Majerle, the one entity in existence that I would have done anything, even the impossible, for. And that recollection proved more than fatal, when I was caught screaming for Majerle in the middle of another lonely night, shrieking for his presence.

          “Majerle! Majerle, where are you?” I called and called, until I was momentarily joined in my room by a spitting O'Brien, who, after asking several questions that had already been forced into my brain but I had temporarily forgotten, uttered the painful words again.

          “Room 101,” he said.

+ + +

          “You asked me once,” said O'Brien, “what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.

          “The worst thing in the world,” O'Brien continued, “varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are some cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.”

     I peered, from my upright position in the sharp chair, towards the table where a closed cage of movement and fury rattled upon it. The cage was attached to something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards, though I was unable from my position what chewing creatures lay behind the gate that I could not see.

          “In your case,” said O'Brien, “the worst thing in the world happens to be spiders.”

     I sat up and froze in my senses, petrified that the many moving creatures in the cage were my hated spiders, and probably huge and poisonous ones at that. I protested to O'Brien, screaming and cursing, and begging for my release, that I'd do anything for the party if I was only let go...

     O'Brien, ignoring me, fastened the cage to my face, my eyes looking straight down a short corridor that led to a tiny gate, the only separation between the demonic, ruthless spiders and myself. O'Brien laid his hands on the doorway of the cage, moments away from sending forty crazed spiders screaming towards my eyes, before the simple understanding of everything lodged itself into my warped vocal chords.

          “Do it to Majerle! Do it to Majerle! Cover him with spiders! He hates children, take him to a school! Just do whatever you like to Majerle, Majerle, Majerle!”

     And with my dishonourable ravings, I fell asleep and unconscious, and was carried away from the cruel world and back into the familiar confines of my Skyport.

+ + +

     Considering the many lessons learned from my devastating journey to the totalitarian world, I made several initial resolutions towards laws and rules that I would eventually bring into existence in Muttford. I made plans to strip away the highest points of dominating authority, and, coupled with my new-found love and respect for Majerle, (out of guilt, I presume), I decided to scrap the regulations that made him the sole decision-maker in important determinations: MCS emergency broadcasts, construction grants, and many others. I also planned to keep individuals and their lives as private as possible, ensuring maximum personal freedom and security, and letting the creatures around me live how they deserved to live.

     However, the matters of reconstructing the laws were not terribly important at the present time, so I merely wrote my resolutions down on my "To Do" list, and picked up my copy of "Brave New World".






Ambulance - XIII

     - Minnesota defeated Nebraska, 37-28: Majerle was wrong.

     - Colorado defeated St. Louis, 49-31: Majerle was wrong.

     - New York defeated Louisville, 14-10: Majerle was correct.

     - Florida defeated Pittsburgh, 34-31 in overtime. Majerle was correct.






Ambulance - XIV

     "Big Brother is Watching You", was the dominant thought racing through Europe's exhausted brain. He didn't know why the words had entered his head, or where they had come from, but he realised that they made perfect sense.

     He was being hounded everywhere, monitored to an unacceptable extent, being presented with unreasonable regulations, and bombarded with relentless verbal punishment. Mr. and Mrs. Stone had since returned, but to no avail, in fact, they seemed to become much worse than prior to their holiday.

     To, at least, make matters more just, Europe wasn't the single individual being picked on so harshly: Dollar continued to be tormented, but to a lesser extent, and the new line-cook had begun to endure the ritual pressure from Bear.

     The monitoring was simply ridiculous, and appeared that it would never relinquish, so Europe's temper and stress regularly doubled the height that it was at the shift before.

     The situation became so terrible, and even more hopeless, after a physical incident with Clark earlier in the day. Europe had been studiously preparing food in the morning for his upcoming shift, when Clark passed behind him, and casually gave him a little shove, which knocked Europe off-guard, and to the floor. Europe yelled back after him, cursing loud enough for hamsters to hear,

          “If you ever do that to me again, mater, I'll destroy you in a chicken minute.” Clark paused, unbelieving at what was being said to him, before shrugging and laughing cockily into the air.

     Clark came down to Europe's and Dollar's aisle (they refused to separate), later in the afternoon, and ordered the pair to share cleaning duties. He designated Dollar to the kitchen floors, and Europe to the bathroom, before poking lightning into Europe's stomach. Europe erupted into an excruciating anger, the preview to the climax that had been bottled up and reserved within himself since he had begun work at Compliments.

     He shoved Clark back, to dampen his over-inflated ego, and threatened his life if he ever touched him again. Clark, annoyed and perturbed at Europe's resistance, began to taunt him, gnawing at his self-control how a termite swallows a house. Europe crouched low to the ground, anticipating an attack that would never occur, and hence the signs of battle subsided. Clark scurried away, and would eventually tattle to management about it, but Europe had almost stepped over the boundary where he could kill somebody from Compliments: and not care at all.

     The remainder of the week passed erratically, though smoothly, what with his regular flirting sessions with Secord and Monique, and his increasingly improving rapport with Dollar. Bear had avoided him (for the most part), and Mr. and Mrs. Stone were too pre-occupied to concern themselves with the lower ranks. Scotch went through a power-loss crisis, having been the individual in full charge of operations, and now returning to his status of second-in-command, to his negligible frustrations.

     Veritably, it wasn't until the Friday before the first Vikings' playoff game that Europe had the monumental release of angst that had been boiling up inside him like oil for the past months. An hour before Europe and Dollar's shift was to have ended, Clark passed through their aisle, appeared to discard of something into their mixing bowl, before exiting with a sly smile on his crooked face. Europe and Dollar exchanged vulpine glances, (as Europe had been clamed down considerably over the week, it took him longer to react), before Dollar scooped what seemed to be a wad of white paper. Dollar opened the soaked paper to reveal a note, he examined it, and consequently refused to allow Europe to read it. Europe pressured Dollar for the note, but to no avail: however, Dollar promised to show him once their shift had concluded, but no sooner.

     The final hour plodded along like a week, Europe's anticipation of the suspect note, amalgamated with his devising of suitable punishment for Clark, (and Dollar, as well, for putting him through this agony), prevented him from working at all, which was, naturally, heavily frowned upon by management. Finally, his working day complete, he confronted Dollar in the locker-room as soon as he could, and forced the note out of Dollar's excited, trembling paws.

     “Battle is a loser”,

     To which Europe rushed outside immediately, and ferociously tackled Clark to the cold, hard ground. Clark stumbled to his feet, attempting to free his arms, but had been pinned by a snapped collarbone to the earth. Dollar had followed them to perform the peacemaking duties, but the sight of Europe's upturned snout and large, daggered fangs scared him to the extreme that he sat down and watched.

     After Clark had finally risen to his unbalanced feet, (to Europe's complete glee), Europe attacked him with all of his rage, all of his power, and all of his previously withdrawn spite. He pounded Clark's face with booming paws, he jabbed at his back, he kicked his skull to pieces with great ambience, and he spat his venomous indignation into his face. He smashed Clark to fragments of the evil animal he was, though the power that he possessed right then, would have even compounded those fragments themselves to obliteration.

     Clark wasn't hurt, no, he was broken, and irreparable, but he was able to comprehend that if he moved once more, even very slightly, Europe would have killed him right there and then. Dollar had been able to distract Europe by now, and had restrained him effectively enough that Europe receded from the scene, and departed for the solitude that was his home.

     The extent of Clark's injuries wasn't as pernicious as anybody could have imagined; Clark would only miss two weeks of work, and would suffer from permanent concussion, after the freight train that was Europe, rumbled through him. Nobody would breathe a word of what had happened: Clark would be too petrified to consider it, and Dollar and Europe realised their employment would be on the line, although it was obvious that it would truly be the best decision. Europe had transferred the destructive power of his foremost hero, Battle, into his personal bout of and with madness, and against evil.






Ambulance - XV

     The Muttford Vikings rolled over their first opponent in the Wordolg Football playoffs, the Minnesota DarkReds, by a score of 40-20. That set the stage for another San Francisco versus Muttford showdown, which was held the ensuing week, in the enemy confines of the city beyond the Muttford boundaries. The Canine 49ers had whipped the formidable Colorado Buffaloes, 51-14, and coupled with the two losses that Muttford had been defeated by the Canine 49ers, sceptics were counting on a struggle, and a favourable San Francisco win.

     The city buzzed for the week preceding the game; posters were displayed everywhere, the local pubs were chanting the Vikings' song, the schoolpuppies were convincing others which of their idols was the absolute greatest. The Underground distributed flyers within, about the utmost importance of a Muttford win, and tracked down several dozen tickets for the foreign game. Many sports bars were competing against one another; futile attempts to out duel their rivals, offering free food, drinks, and stickers to those who watched the game from their establishment.

     The Sunday arrived, to sleepless supporters who had trailed the team's luxurious bus to the Canine 49ers' stadium, and had constructed a village encompassing the parking lot. As the game's start time grew steadily closer, the hum grew louder, the pubs filled, the remaining establishments (that were open on a Sunday) closed their unguarded doors, Muttford City Hall shut its government operations.

     The first half of the game was excruciatingly close, with the Vikings leading the Canine 49ers, 10-7, at the intermission. The din of the crowd, a mixture of San Francisco and Muttford supporters alike, never subsided, in fact, seemed to increase as each minute terminated itself into history. Muttford scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, on a tough catch courtesy of Majerle, Mayor of Muttford. However, San Francisco narrowed the margin in the early fourth quarter, when they scored a fluke touchdown, the result of an error by a Muttford defender. The Vikings held desperately onto a three-point lead mid-way into the fourth, when ace running back Darke charged forty-one yards for the winning touchdown, the game simply out of reach.

     The victory was ecstasy for the city of Muttford, who had transplanted their revenge straight through the hearts of the Canine 49ers' roster. They would travel to the DogBowl, for the second straight year, and they would oppose the New Orleans Gators, their masters, for the second straight year. Muttford had never beaten the Gators, and had been considerably embarrassed a year ago in the DogBowl, when they had the chance to narrow the score-line, but failed on a routine pass late in the game.

     The city continued to buzz, an ambience that floated across the sea to the Isle of Punition, where even the prisoners on death row were singing, and shouting, and cheering along. This would add to the pinnacle of Muttford's sporting dominance (they had already won the favoured baseball league, twice), but a football championship would shower them with respect, indeed. Meanwhile, the unbeatable joy of fulfilling their revenge against San Francisco would brighten the city throughout its entire existence, though nobody knew, at that time, the significance of a victory against a humans' city-base team.

     A week away, the greatest football game on the planet would be played, new heroes would be spawned, and the losers would fade away into a shame of irreversible disappointment.






Ambulance - XVI

          “All rise to your feet, in honour of Satchrielle, the Chief Justice of the Muttford Central Minor Court.”

     The entire assembly inside the courtroom, including a stupefied Crowe, rose to their unified feet, a sign of respect for the judge who entered the courtroom, with her robe flailing and her spectacles penetrating the attorneys who gathered in front of her. As she sat, the group before her sat as well, a wave of bodies both tense and anticipating, finding their place on the wooden benches below them. They had been delayed an hour, because the courthouse had earlier been on fire due to a human mistake.

     Crowe felt a very strange, alluring power, that she was unable to consider or comprehend until the episode had concluded, but a mysterious power nonetheless. Her immediate focus was on the scrambled domain within her internal organs; her concentration was locked towards her presentation of her evidence and hoped that what she was to provide would be adequate in her self-defence. She had mapped out the layout of the train onto large, blue card, corresponding to where she had sat, where the individual beside her had sat, and where everybody else was in relation to them. Glancing quickly but steely around the intimate courtroom, she recognised only three individuals from the train trip in question: the penguin conductor, the computer processor, and the rhinoceros. After her initial thought that three was few, she reflected back and realised that anyone at all had shown up, especially because she had absolutely nothing to do with their appearance there today. Aside from her map of the train, she also provided a flawless typed report of the incident in her words, acknowledging that if she purposely created an untruthful version of the truth, no matter how slight, the legal system would recognise it within seconds. However, at the present time, Crowe hardly cared about winning the court case anymore: she merely wanted to escape that eerie room as steadily as she possibly could.

     In the few minutes that had existed before the judge's entrance, after she had registered with an official, she talked to a male who sat behind her, and they exchanged their personal stories. He was a Sicilian Hound named Gregory, who appeared slightly oily and smelled somewhat smoky, but was pleasant and calm altogether. He had also been summoned concerning the Mutt monorail system, where he, coincidentally, had been charged with failure to produce or present identification to a conductor. He added, in a grinning whisper, that he had also attacked a guard, sending the guard to the hospital. He asked Crowe what her defensive strategy would be, and unthinkingly, she responded truthfully, outlining her individual account of what had occurred with her.

          “Case number one for Your Worship,” read the secondary magistrate. “Vixen of the Defence versus the submarine port of the Citizens.” A trembling female fox tiptoed to the desks at the front of the room, and, mistakenly, sat down quickly.

          “Please stand up,” the judge requested, patiently, and Vixen shot back into the air. The secondary magistrate initiated her court case.

          “Please state your full name and breed or species.”

          “Vixen, and I am a fox.”

          “How do you plead to the charge of public urination in a private zone with a 'No Urination' sign in the exact area that you so committed the crime?”

          “Uh... not guilty. I didn't see such a sign,” as Vixen almost passed out from over-exhausted nerves.

          “Your Worship?” asked the secondary magistrate, for a decision, who promptly responded with her judgement.

          “Guilty. The fact is, you urinated where you shouldn't have, and even if you failed to see the sign, it doesn't help the submarine base, because you did urinate in a key location. However, I will reduce your fine from five thousand Muttford dollars to five hundred, but if you are ever found guilty again of a similar offence, you will be demanded to pay the total combination of the two maximum fines. Meanwhile, I suggest that you indulge in bladder/toilet training control lessons.” The judge slammed her hatchet upon the palette in front of her, whilst Vixen fainted in a mixture of relief and high disgust at herself, as she urinated right there on the floor in the court room. The judge was not as forgiving this time, as she ordered somebody to clean the mess up. She pounded her hatchet once more, “Next.”

     The virgin audience gasped in disbelief at the sudden decision.

          “Gregory of the Defence versus the Mutt Transit System of the Citizens,” called the secondary magistrate. Gregory rose collectively yet cautiously towards the front of the courthouse, to best wishes from Crowe who remained in utter shock.

          “Please state your full name and breed or species.”

          “Gregory, Sicilian Hound.”

          “How do you plead to the charge of failure to produce a ticket whilst travelling on the Mutt Transit System?”

          “Not guilty.”

          “Your Worship?”

          “Please have a seat.” He sat. “Your opening statement, please, and then I'll determine if we'll pursue the case further.”

          “I had been sitting down at my seat for half-an-hour, a stretch from Far Western to North Muttford, when I ran into this old flame of mine, that I hadn't seen for four years. After chatting her up, she departed the train, and I was confronted by an oafish conductor, who immediately bullied me for my ticket. I couldn't find it, and I quickly looked out of the window, where, from the disappearing station's platform, my old flame was laughing and waving a ticket in the air. It was mine!”

     Crowe began to sense that he was lying, before she quickly realised that he had stolen her story, and became contiguously enraged at him. She whimpered and writhed in her seat, audible enough to the stern judge, yet she couldn't contain her disappointment. Her free life began to vanish before her...

          “I'll stop you right there, Cer Gregory,” halted the judge. (Note: Cer is equivalent to "Sir" in the human world, and is used in respect of all individuals in a highly formal setting.) The judge, glancing towards several agents at the rear of the hall, continued. “Any immediate response from the floor?” An agent stood up.

          “He had been alone for the entire trip.” Another stood.

          “I second that information, as official fact,” said the second.

          “A retort, Cer Gregory?” asked the judge, her knowing eyes penetrating the foolish skull of the idiot in front of her.

          “They lie!” he snapped back, annoyed and defeated. The judge became gloomy and perturbed, and addressed Gregory once more.

          “Gregory,” (the respect now absent), “we have the words of two MCS agents who contradict your story, and MCS agents will never, ever be unfaithful to their true accounts. I find you guilty of the charge in question, and guilty of lying before an official judge. The consecutive penalty for these offences will be administered in the form of imprisonment, at a time to be specified a week from today. Magistrate, anything further?”

          “Yes, Your Worship, Cer Gregory has also been charged with assault of a security guard, thus an assault of a citizen of Muttford, in relation to the incident in question.”

          “How do you plead?”

          “Not guilty!” screamed Gregory, knowing he had nowhere to hide, ever, ever, ever again, in his pathetic lie of a life.

          “Floor?” asked the judge to the agents at the back.

          “We have six MCS agents and officers to account for the incident. The security guard himself is still in hospital.”

          “Guilty. I want nothing further from you, Gregory, except to be presented with your penalty a week from today, here, at two o'clock.” Her wooden hatchet slammed down onto the palette.

          “Next.”

          “Crowe of the Defence versus the Mutt Transit System of the Citizens.” Crowe rose slowly to her feet, and breathed in deeply.

          “Please state your name, and breed or species.”

          “Crowe, German Hunt Terrier.”

          “I apologise for the interruption, Your Worship, but I must inquire about the colour of Crowe's coat.”

          “You may,” permitted the judge.

          “From your personal information and history, it states that you were born a tan-coloured dog.”

          “That is correct. I dyed my fur black when I was fourteen.”

          “Thank you. How do you plead to the charge of failure to produce a ticket and identification on the Mutt Transit System?”

          “Not guilty.”

          “Your Worship?”

          “Please have a seat.” She sat. “Your opening statement, please, and then I'll determine if we pursue the case further.”

          “I was travelling from home (in Western) to the Pyradome, where I was sitting beside a foul-mouthed, disgusting animal. He taunted me, he insulted me, and then he molested me, before an MCS agent removed him from the train. I was later called on my personal telephone whilst I was departing the train, by a friend of mine who had confronted the individual in question, and he explained that the individual had purposely stolen my specific travel information. I was then approached by a charming conductor, who asked me for my ticket and identification.

          “I stalled, stating that I couldn't find it at that exact time, and he very patiently allowed me the time to find it. Minutes later, he returned, and I continued to tell him that I couldn't find the ticket; however, I did provide him with a minor information card, which prevented me from being arrested. The train had arrived at the next stop, where I dishonourably escaped the train, and was consequently restrained by security guards.”

          “Miss Crowe, this story sounds familiarly similar to the story by the lying individual before you: can you comment on this?”

          “Yes, Your Worship. We had spoken before you entered the room, and I had told him my personal story, which he used in his defence.” Crowe was glumly expecting a negative reaction.

          “Thank you, Miss Crowe. Would the MCS agent who witnessed the event, and the conductor, please approach my desk.” The penguin and the computer-processor rose, and headed for the judge's desk. Crowe gaped in sad amazement that the computer-processor had actually been an esteemed MCS agent, and mournfully realised that his appearance here would be his last in Muttford, at least as an agent, because his identity had been exposed. She thanked him graciously with her eyes.

          “MCS agent number four hundred-twenty-seven, please take the stand,” requested the secondary magistrate, and he did.

          “What is your account of the incident?” asked the judge.

          “I watched both pieces of the puzzle: the first ride and the return trip, and what Miss Crowe has stated is correct. The individual beside her had touched her, and I observed him removing the specific information from her area. On the return trip, I watched her accept a phone call, appear unintentionally (thus truthfully) disturbed, and I witnessed the conductor's patient dealing of her.”

          “Is it fair to state that had the individual in question not removed the specific identification from Miss Crowe, then the following incident and confrontation would not have occurred?”

          “It is fair and correct to say that, Your Worship.”

          “Thank you, agent. Not guilty.” She slammed her hatchet down upon her palette, and calmly called out:

          “Next.”

     Crowe mouthed "thank you!" to the MCS agent, who snapped a lightning-fast grin at her, before departing the courtroom in a subdued silence. She sank into an epitome chamber of relief, though the dread and pain of nerves had not entirely disappeared.

     She gathered her belongings, her "court-work" of maps and statements becoming unimportant now because they were never acknowledged, and slunk quietly and carefully outside into the dark, white sun, and instantaneously became ecstatic. She threw her paws in the air, triumphant and cleansed, realising that the Muttford justice system, was the most perfect and accurate implementation of justice in all of the world.

     With her new, unrequited power of accomplishment, Crowe began her decline towards an irreversible dive into madness.






Ambulance - XVII (Brave New World)

     Grammes and grammes of soma down my throat, all life looked much happier in this world. The weeks I had spent in this exotic place I had done nothing but become high off the legal and encouraged drug of soma, had sexual intercourse with about two-dozen willing, eager beautiful women, and had relished in a world of comfort and ease, in paradise.

     For I was an ignorant foreigner, taking the world's experiences and facets as they related to my own values, hopes and dreams. Though consistent intercourse was delightful, and the excessively delicious soma removed all inhibitions from my mind and soul, I began to realise that paradise and perfection were ruined when they became too much of a good thing. I could read the faces of the individuals around me, I could see the blank looks in their eyes, and their lack of passion during times where enjoyment should have been extant, and I became mindless, too. This world really wasn't a perfect place, though at times the fruit it bore, that was almost non-existent to me in my real life, became repetitive and boring.

     I left the world as only an observer, not a participator, of their lives, although the overdose on soma made that state a lot easier to maintain. Understanding the beliefs of the many citizens in that Brave New World gave me a clearer outlook on perfection and what should be saved for rewards and luxuries in life.

     Further conditioning of the citizens of Muttford has got to be avoided. I cannot let my personal ideals, however positive they may even be, further corrupt the minds and lives of any creature, except to teach them that freedom of thought still exists. I wanted no savages in existence, however, no anarchists, but no creators of unbreakable rules, either, and I wanted to create the perfect state of freedom and peace. I was only weeks away from implementing my influential ideas and conceptions, but my immediate action was to indulge myself in "Winter's Tale".






Dark White Rays - I

     “Listen to me: Hear my voice;

     Trust me, To make your choice.


     Listen to me: I'll be your guide;

     To take you through this suicide.


     Listen to me: There will be no pain;

     Opportunity of your ideal gain.


     Listen to me: Close your eyes;

     End accepting this world's lies...”


     The devil had provoked unwanted conversation from her, and although she restrained herself from initially listening to him, she was unaware that her subconscious had already lapsed herself into a domain where she was more powerful in her mind than in reality. She did not listen to herself directly, but to the devil that was herself, and consuming her entirely.






Dark White Rays - II

     After the second "Fumble" screamed by the commentators of the DogBowl Championship Game between New Orleans and the Vikings, the city of Muttford stood up in one, unified roar. The city chanted, rejoiced, and was glorified as one; every citizen that graced its land, dogs and humans alike, became one, single, unbreakable link of life.

     The final score was irrelevant, (it was a thrashing, 51-25), because the content of the game went unmatched by its patriotic result, the elusive championship brought to Muttford through two years of struggle and adversity. Strangers embraced strangers, dogs embraced cats, humans embraced themselves (as not everything was perfect), as liberty resurfaced once more.

     The city's unity was a bond too magnificent to ever be broken, at least, not until the next Wordolg football season commenced in seven month's time. The city had never been tighter, (perhaps only more excited during the city's two years of domination in baseball), a tightness that would linger to become the strongest power in all the world through the next, chaotic months of history's existence.






Dark White Rays - III

     Europe was called, as expected, to Mr. Stone's office, where the very stern-looking owner was joined by an equally unhappy Scotch. Europe had dreaded this confrontation ever since he had smashed Clark to a pulp, but, astoundingly, their conference would have nothing to do with Clark or the violent incident. Instead, Europe was informed about a complaint by a couple of anonymous waitresses, who had threatened to take a sexual-harassment action against him. Europe was dumbfounded, as he had never had unlawful contact with any waitress from the restaurant; in fact, had never badly treated any female over the course of his short-ish life.

          “Who were they?” he asked, but to no avail. They refused to furnish him with the knowledge of his accusers, and concluded the meeting by warning him that the full responsibility of any further actions would be completely his, and not the restaurant's. He was also ordered to refrain from any contact with every waitress, to his utter annoyance. Europe departed the office in a regular, familiar anger, and informed Dollar of what had just transpired. Apparently, the invitation in jest that the two had made to Red about raking the leaves together, and several other teasing comments, had mushroomed her reaction to the level of sexual harassment. Europe and Dollar each deciphered that Red was one that would have lied to management, but they were stumped at whom the second was. Europe determined the latter was a bluff, a set-up by management, and similarly knew that Red had lied because she was jealous of her sister's adoration for him.

     That was the same day that Europe discovered where Dollar was receiving his plentiful food from: he was subtly stealing it from the kitchen. Europe, originally surprised and angry at Dollar, accepted the illegal activities out of his current rage and anarchy towards management, though blankly refused any involvement in the theft itself, and never again consumed anything that Dollar offered him, suspect or not. He refused to consider tattling to management about Dollar's actions, because he considered Dollar to be a friend, and most importantly, an ally.






Dark White Rays - IV

     Crowe had another "villain" destroyed, on a rainy, foggy afternoon, because the "villain" was wearing a combination of a DHI shirt and disrespectful (in her opinion) white, spotted pants. Crowe was never one to create judgement over material objects such as clothes, but her regular discussions with the devil, coupled with her ever-worsening temper, infuriated her to the point of assault.

     Again, she had been confronted by the Master's guards, who, to this point, were beginning to fear Crowe themselves. Crowe revelled and wallowed in her indestructible, unstoppable power.






Dark White Rays - V

     After an extraordinarily terrible day at work caused by management and their staff, Europe contacted the MCS/DHI agencies again, and recited his continuing problems and the sly conduct of the entire staff. He was interrogated politely over the telephone for several minutes, and by several different agents, before he was informed that measures had already begun to be administered against Compliments, even before Europe had called. They ordered him to stay employed at Compliments, so that he could update them on any internal foul occurrences.

     As Europe fell asleep, late that night, he had venomous nightmares about what was going to happen to them and how the fictitious "union" would respond, all of which were wonderfully satisfying. To what extent the actions would affect him, he did not know, but the positives currently far outweighed the negatives, and he flew through a beautiful, relaxed sleep.






Dark White Rays - VI (Winter's Tale)

     I was rescued from the Short Tails by a magnificent flying dog, and was flown to safety behind a barn where another man, Peter Lake, and his breathtaking horse were crouching over their daily meal. He was not entirely pleased to have company, but nevertheless relieved that I was not one of them.

     The pair of our golden living pilots carried us over the blue, sunny moon, and down the escalating slope towards land. A curtain of white, artificial rain stormed passed us, the mass that was commonly referred to as a cloud. The twinkling stars shone through the dark steel of night, penetrating the evil vampire that sucked away light each evening, each repetitive day.

     Seagulls mocked us, though they weren't seagulls but monstrous mechanical birds, their engines warning us that they were certainly more powerful than we were. But not in spirit, for escape was exciting, a reprieve from the armed bandits that constantly followed us in their relentless vehicles; the ocean stirred as a wave of new watered life crashed upon the shore beneath us, fragmenting the particles of sand into water themselves.

     Escaping from bandits and guns, and fictitious life, and the will to avoid the "other side"; motivation for continuing was thus essential. My flying dog flew through the night, the flying Pegasus on our trail, blistering cold scarring our human faces raw, and reddening our hungry underbellies.

     We cackled past a confused banshee, sputtering upon her failing broomstick and sinking into the vicinity of unfamiliarity. Horns honked and trumpets raged; fires sang their cooling presence; astronauts waved through their underwater goggles; and pixies' dances amongst the ever-clear frost.

     For we were flying to an unrequited freedom, we were flying to our terminal end. We would one day be captured and tortured, but we would one day also feel the suntan lotion of liberty.

     I couldn't imagine a more glorious feeling, the relief from a freedom that would inevitably result in catastrophic death. I made new rules, and new plans, and cited the strength of a better tomorrow.

     I assigned myself the unenviable task of discontinuing weapons, the military, guards, and everything that could have any bearing on any battle or war. I wanted my citizens to be safe, yes, but I also wanted them to avoid the possibility of tragedy that war would bring them, thus all weapons and defence would have to be scrapped.

          “How could the perfectly just city still contain the machines of violence?” I asked myself, before looking up at the ceiling and observing that a window fit nicely there, the perfect pinnacle for a very successful re-evolution. I began to live again.






Dark White Rays - VII

     Mysteriously, for the first time in over a year and a half, DHI announced that they would be commencing an international "New Life" tour, the inaugural concert to be presented at Dyers Park in two weeks. The notice was extremely short, and very unexpected; even Crowe and her Underground news department were unable to forecast such a declaration.

     Crowe was still the first to obtain tickets for the show, however, when she directed her new group of Underground militants to intercept the armoured vehicle in which the tickets were being transported. They only mustered two-hundred tickets before the police arrived, and the group rapidly escaped into the sewers, leaving the correct payment for the tickets behind them.

     Crowe was incomparably jubilant, excited as she had never been before, and anticipating the concert to be her first meeting with the Master since their musical episode on the hill. She knew that he had planned the tour just for her, and for her alone.

     Europe was interested in the DHI concert, for several reasons. He desperately needed a physical release of energy, and he comprehended that the violent mosh pit at Dyers Park - the most brutal and fierce in all of the world - would supply him with that required release. He also wanted and hoped his co-employees to be near the mosh pit, Clark, Red, Bear, and Wear, because he wanted to kill all of them, and wanted to make it look innocent. The under card contained various prolific bands: The Dambuilders, The Rentals, and Morning Glory, who were themselves moving into an area of world domination, thanks to their National Bands' status.

     Meanwhile, the Master played his guitar for hours on end, practicing the vital music that had transported DHI into a legion of an unsurpassed cult following. With a newfound inner strength, he constructed a temple of energy and presence within his soul, and hoped to transfer that power onto the stage.






Dark White Rays - VIII

     The absolute worst day in Europe's life happened soon after the concert was announced, and too soon for his disintegrating health. Leaving the store for his break, Europe walked past Dollar at the garbage compound behind the kitchen, and caught him building a supply of alcoholic drinks behind it. Although Dollar didn't wince at Europe's presence, the mixture of disgust and intrigue was evident on Europe's face. Dollar offered him a bottle of whisky, to Europe's decline, before departing with it into the customary bathroom, where he would consume it. Minutes later, Dollar resurfaced from the bathroom, and proceeded back to the kitchen, where he was abruptly halted by Mr. Stone. Dollar followed Mr. Stone to the office, to a wave from Europe who was confused and pondering the situation, and then left for his break.

     Upon his return, he jokingly asked a passing Speed what had happened to Dollar, and received one of his regular, systematic sarcastic answers: "He's gone, dog, he's been terminated." Seconds later, Europe, too, was escorted into Mr. Stone's office, where a smorgasbord of opened food packages, drink bottles, and dishes lay across his desk. Europe recognised many of the items from Dollar's adventures into thievery, but the quantity of what was presented in front of him astounded him.

          “Would you mind telling me about this?” asked a cocky, confident Mr. Stone, whom Europe now classified as a bastard.

          “I know nothing of this,” replied Europe, not submitting in the least to Mr. Stone's demands or inquisition.

          “I think that you do know, Europe,” Mr. Stone continued. “Because you were implicated by a fellow employee.”

          “What? Who? I know nothing of what is before me,” argued Europe, unrelenting, and definitely not exposing Dollar's deeds.

          “Cut the bull and turkey excrement, Europe. Dollar told me that all of this is yours, and -”

          “What?!? Dollar said what?” growled Europe, quaking.

          “He said that you regularly stole food from the restaurant, and regularly fed it to him, against his desires.”

          “You are bull excreting me, aren't you? Through all the lies you have put me through so far in this ridiculous establishment, you have the nerve to accuse me of something that you have no proof of, just the word of a thief?”

          “We have three other employees saying that they've seen you remove food from the kitchen. Three others!”

          “Who... fairy pixies living on Mars? Wait... I know who they were. It was Wear, Clark, and Red, wasn't it? They hate me anyway.”

          “No, no, no. It wasn't any of them,” Mr. Stone denied, although a lie was evident in his eyes.

          “Where is Dollar, now?” demanded Europe.

          “He has been dismissed, for participating somewhat in your childish exhibition. Just as you are being done to, now.”

          “You are dismissing me over something that I haven't been caught doing, with no solid proof?” Europe screamed.

          “I don't need proof!” Mr. Stone leaned towards Europe, sternly, and clasped his human hands around Europe's thick collar, before thinking otherwise, and restraining himself. “I can do whatever I like, because I am rich, and I am human, and because - ”

     The door to the office exploded into smithereens, the blast showering Europe with splinters and wood chips.

     In rushed a dozen MCS commandos, dressed in their customary black, blue, and red; they seized a stunned Mr. Stone and threw him to the ground.

     Two agents approached a gaping and horrified Europe, whispered reassuring information into his ears, triggering tears of relief to escape his now-distorted face.

     He whimpered in satisfaction and accomplishment, bawled over the fact that the episode was now over, and spat at the unconscious Mr. Stone who was being handcuffed and dragged to the MCS vehicle outside. Europe watched the MCS task force contain Bear, Clark, Speed, Wear, Red, and Mrs. Stone, and lead them into smaller, separate vehicles. The patrons of the restaurant were being evacuated, and informed about the proceedings that were regular occurrences at Compliments.

     Two different MCS agents emerged out of the figurative fog that encompassed a bewildered Europe, whose presence was very strangely familiar and comforting to him. The first was an employee who had quit a week before Europe had started; actually, Europe had been hired to replace him. The second was instantly recognisable to Europe: it was the new employee that had been hired only a couple of weeks earlier, and he had secretly been an MCS agent all along.

     Relief was overcome by anger; bitter resentment towards the hellish block of life that had permanently scarred him. He also continued to be perplexed at Dollar's involvement in the so-called "implication", so he prodded the pair for additional information.

          “Was what Dollar said about me true?” he sighed.

          “We don't know,” answered the MCS agent. “It is possible, but, in correspondence to their other lies, it might not be.”

          “What now?” Europe asked, his eyes closed and resting.

          “You'll never worry about anybody from Compliments again. Every problematic employee here will be abolished from Muttford within the next month, and never be allowed back in.”

          “What about their union?”

          “It has been disbanded and destroyed. It really wasn't that powerful to begin with, and now it no longer exists.”

     Europe walked home that night - it was a four-hour walk - and pondered the outcome in his throbbing head. On one hand, he was extremely relieved at the result, but on the other, he couldn't understand why or how he had sustained himself through that hell so long. He grew angry at Dollar for implicating him, and couldn't comprehend why an ally would have turned against him, before a philosophy that his mother, London, had told him, resurfaced in his chamber of thought.

          “If he is a thief, he is probably also a liar.”

     And whether he was a liar or not, he was a thief, and Europe wanted to confront him for that alone. If he had lied to Mr. Stone about Europe's involvement, then Dollar would have eternal hell to pay, a confrontation Europe knew he would win.

     But Europe would never see the streaking, graceful running, or Dollar himself, alive again, for the tragedy that indulged him for so many months had pushed Dollar to run to places where he had never considered or dared to go in his wildest nightmares.






Dark White Rays - IX

     Though Timmons had been absent from his duties for the precedent few weeks, Majerle hadn't quite apprehended it; he assumed that Timmons was taking much required vacation time, and he recognised that Timmons worked harder than most other individuals. Majerle wasn't drawn to notice Timmons' absence until his lunch with Harrold and Mortimer, who inquired about Timmons' failure to appear.

          “I had a talk with him the other day,” Majerle explained. “He has been working so hard for me, I think he deserves any time off that he might need, even if he doesn't tell me.”

     The conversation shifted to Majerle's peculiar upcoming evening with his Master, who had requested that the pair abstain from their accustomed activities, and embark on a walk. Majerle was relatively surprised, in that the two hadn't departed the Skyport together in about eighteen months, and, until the preceding week, no signs of such a meeting were predictable. 'Perhaps the concert announcement was a warning,' he thought, before accepting the upcoming evening with his best and favourite friend as a fresh beginning, and anticipating it like no other prior encounter.

     Harrold and Mortimer, like the entire city of Muttford, were eagerly awaiting the DHI concert, because there was no other live entertainment that resembled the energy and intensity omitted by a DHI event, and the view of the stage was always spectacular. They also continued to grumble about the lack of fresh, sanitary meat that was available in the city, and catechised Majerle for a useful response.

          “What have you been consuming in the meantime?” an informed Majerle asked knowingly.

          “Uh... vegetables, sandwiches, cheese,” replied Harrold.

          “Anything else?” Majerle chided.

          “Well,” entered Mortimer. “There are a lot of things to actually eat, and the grocery stores are stocked with meat-less items, but its difficult to make the switch entirely at the moment.”

          “But could you learn to live without it?”

          “We'll have to,” grumbled Harrold. “But I suppose we could.” Majerle's point made, he paid for their meals, before a television screen above their booth depicted the entrance to Compliments, a restaurant that Majerle had earlier informed MCS about the restaurant's poor owner-employee relations.

--
“Compliments, a human-owned and operated restaurant, was stormed into last night by MCS agents, who had received many threads of disturbing information concerning working conditions and management practices. Seven employees, including the human owner and his wife, were removed from Muttford at two o'clock this morning, and were dropped off at the Muttford-San Francisco border. One waitress, a nineteen year-old part-time student, was arrested for false allegations, stemming from deliberate erroneous complaints about a line cook in the restaurant, who had nothing to do with her accusations. Legal panellists are citing a four-year prison sentence for the waitress, because purposeful false allegations and accusations are not tolerated by Muttford law. One additional employee, another line cook, has been missing since the incident; MCS deny responsibility, as does a human-operated union based in San Francisco, but the latter is being investigated. Compliments is thus out of business, and all reservations will be forwarded to other, more elegant diners, at no additional costs.”
--

     The MCS news broadcaster was Singleton, an old New Zealand male Schnauzer, one of the most reputable media personalities in the world, and a comforting figure in the homes of millions every evening during his nightly news hour. Majerle processed the news wittingly, believing his involvement in the operation to be substantial, and made a mental note to congratulate the MCS organisation for another job well done... though the mental note was likely already forgotten.

     Having bid adieu to Harrold and Mortimer, Majerle took the ferry to the Skyport's water entrance, and entered the magnificent structure that shadowed him. The walls, for the first time in what seemed like eternity, were glowing with a silky ambience, an aura of newfound energy and charisma. Smoke hovered around him, with the delicious odour of the Master's famous cooking seeping through his coat and down his quivering nostrils. The floor groaned a cheerful greeting; its ceiling counterpart waved hello through its blissful, peaceful horizon. The sounds were joyful and exquisite, laughing music that danced like pixies and fairies around Majerle's excited paws; Majerle cherished the feeling.

     For three hours the Master and Majerle walked, and transferred thoughts, and walked, and walked, and walked into the disappearing day, towards the light of tomorrow. Though they remained in muted silence, there was a crisp bond between the two, an unrelenting power that kept them closer together as each second passed. The Master was obviously happy, and that helped Majerle's smile enlarge and brighten a little more, and the entire fantasy of a perfect evening, alone, was realised in reality.






Dark White Rays - X

     The monumental day in Muttford finally arrived: the illustrious date of the DHI concert. The city, still buzzing from the DogBowl victory, seemed as excited for this day as they ever had been, even though many of them wouldn't be attending, or even didn't like the music of DHI and their under card. There was a slight drizzle of rain in the morning, yet the sun pierced through the clouds to spawn a bountiful rainbow that emerged out of faraway darkness and fell into the centre of the park.

     Crowe and Raven travelled on the Mutt to Dyers Park, for the waves were uncommonly still, and Crowe only took the ferry when there was an opportunity for her to die amongst the unconquerable. Her heart was pounding with euphoric glee at the prospect of the headlining band; her eyes gleamed with great fury and ambition, and her body flowed with the juices of a determined, mighty animal. Raven had spoken less and less to Crowe over the course of the past few weeks, both resenting and admiring her for the demon she was becoming, and realised that, at this point, any words against Crowe, no matter how tame, would result in her destruction. There had been a baker's dozen in their carriage earlier, but they were now alone because the other passengers had recognised who exactly she was, and they feared the slightest glance would have them thrown to the sharks.

     Crowe and Raven arrived at the park's hallowed entrance at eleven - the gates were to open at noon - where they were immediately escorted by officers of the underworld to their private, comfortable room. They sat in luxury for the following hour, though neither could eat nor drink because of their gathering, excited nerves.

     Europe braved the silent waters of the Sea of Muttford, and used the DogFish as his means of transportation. He had slept the previous week away, recovering from his intense stress and recurring nightmares, but the relaxation had calmed him down considerably, mostly outweighing the presence of his lingering hatred. The ferry sailed towards the tip of the island; an amalgamated roar of the engine and the talking crowd was more than plainly audible: it was deafening. It was eleven-thirty, and they would arrive in five minutes, but Europe wanted to establish himself in the mosh-pit as soon as he possibly could. He imagined that the indignation still inside himself would resurface as the harder, heavier bands took the stage, and he had no intentions of taming his physical vigour down in the least.

     Majerle took occupancy of his special viewing-box backstage at a few minutes before the gates were to open, as he wanted to witness the entire history of the day's events. He sat and sipped his beverage, nibbled at his chicken - sorry, CHEESE - sandwich, and stretched his yawning body over the balcony: he had woken up before noon for the first occasion in more than a month.

     Precisely at twelve o'clock, when the many entrance links and gates were unlocked and opened, forty thousand early-birds rushed over the tiny foothill and into the little valley where the stage stood, the magnificent buildings behind it reflecting hot, white light from the strengthening sun. The gigantic DHI logo banners sandwiched the large stage; the Muttford flag and colours occupied the boards that erected the wieldy platforms; seagulls, that had been conversing around the mosh-pit, scrambled away from the island petrified at the sight of thousands of accelerating dogs motoring towards them.

     Dogs weren't the only creatures that entered the park this day, though they were certainly the distinct majority. Variations of the canine species: wolves, foxes, dingoes, and coyotes, as well as cats, hippopotamuses, tigers, lions, bears, hawks, and even humans, ran through the gates of Dyers Park, all wanting to see the customary DHI spectacle.

     The Dambuilders kicked the event off at two o'clock, and the audience romped through a flashy set, stomping to the violin sounds that made them famous, and shaking the entire island with their roaring finale of "Idaho". By three-forty five, the Rentals had commenced their set, their keyboard flares persuading the audience to rhythmically leap into the air with the beat, creating a tidal wave of hungry, anticipating animals. At five o'clock, there was a half-an-hour "supper" break, where the audience was encouraged to replenish their lost fluids with fresh ones; to consume energy-providing food; and to let the excitement build to an unbreakable climax when Morning Glory took to the stage.

     Europe was yet to find a worthy, strong group in the mosh-pit during the first two bands, but knew completely that the fabled underworld musters hadn't yet arrived at the pit; and he realised that they would begin to flow in once Morning Glory began. He took the time to use the restroom facilities, to gulp down several litres of water, and to gnaw at the mini-rawhide bones that were being sold in the marketplace.

     Crowe sat in the underworld's private room, rarely uncaring about watching the first two bands up close; her mind was triggered solely towards DHI, although she certainly would penetrate the crowd for a glimpse of Morning Glory. Raven sat quietly behind her, sipping her ice lemon tea, and observing the crazed expression on Crowe's face, as if she appeared to be conversing with some imaginary force.

     I arrived at the concert park through the militarised back entrance, at approximately five-twenty, and immediately caught up with Morning Glory's Tim Chang, who was minutes away from bursting out onto the stage to a frenzied response.

          “How does it look outside?” I asked Tim, because I hadn't yet peered around the pylons to judge the crowd's size.

          “About one-hundred thousand, it looks like. Not too bad for us, although I still think we could double it by next year.”

          “Oh, definitely,” I agreed. “What are you starting off with?”

          “That little punk-rock song - that should get everybody into it. Then, John is going to play 'Mr. Sticky', and two hours later, we'll end with 'Where Am I?' and 'Here I am',” he added.

          “Great. What time did Carole, our lovely promoter, allot us?”

          “I believe she said eight o'clock. Don't worry, we'll be finished long before that, then you can rush on for three hours. How do you feel, considering this is your first show in ages?”

          “Nervous as hell, but very excited. Majerle looked happy as well: that made me feel terrific.”


     The opening, pre-recorded chords to the Morning Glory introduction reverberated around the island, and the crowd stormed towards the edge of the stage, screaming, and cheering, and yelling. The island blacked itself out, and the lights behind the Morning Glory banner that curtained the entire stage, illuminated the three star members of the band. They broke into rhythm; the banner was released, and flew like a flag into the sky.

     The crowd screamed, they cheered, they yelled along with Tim Chang and his haunting lyrics. Europe became suddenly weakened, his body crushed by thumping maniacs from a human underworld, before he pounded back and resolved his personal space. Crowe was escorted to the middle of the park, (which is where she requested to be left until Morning Glory had finished), where her knees became jellied from the prospect of her utmost hero appearing only hours away.

          “He's inside there, backstage there, waiting for me,” she thought to herself, dreaming of a perfect world where she was queen and he was her king.

     Majerle enjoyed the Morning Glory set to such an extreme that he passed out from dancing too hard, and when he woke, all he could hear was the shaking screams of "Where Am I?" and all he could see was a darkening atmosphere. Contrary to popular speculation, the Master didn't emerge from backstage to perform with Morning Glory as he normally did, but that was aimed to increase the audience's baited wait.

     I stood behind the stage where Morning Glory was completing their fourth encore, in the extended stage area that DHI would use to play their set. Looking through the rear screen towards the flowing audience, I could see this one, blinding light, that sent shivers up my spine as the allure for this mystical sight grew stronger whenever I would squint my eyes to focus its colour. The shade had an unfamiliar tinge to it; it actually seemed to be of a dark, white colour...

     The half-an-hour wait for Crowe was antagonising, as she could hardly bare to sustain her nerves for much longer, the nearing encounter between her and the Master now closing too quickly. She needed to stand right in front of the stage, to have the supreme view of her hero, so she called her escorts to puncture their way through the solid crowd, before finally lifting her into the front row beside the cyclopean energy of the mosh-pit. She closed her eyes and counted the minutes remaining down inside her aching, dreaming head.

     Europe returned to the mosh-pit from another water break, psyching himself up for the upcoming greatest physical challenge in his entire life: battling with the DHI followers inside the most vicious pit in the world. He observed dozens of individuals much larger than he: lions, Great Danes, even some humans, and plotted his strategies against each one of them. Inside himself, he knew that he was strong enough to endure three hours of bone-crushing, bleeding and bruising torture inside the pit, but whether he could sustain it mentally was another matter. The greatest animal fighter, Battle, had once ventured into the Muttford pit, and had remarked that he'd never do it again, and he was supposed to be the strongest of them all. Warfield, on the other hand, his next opponent, had been one of the greatest individuals in pit history, having never left any of the ones that he had entered until hours after the final notes.

          “If Warfield can do it, then I certainly can,” thought an egotistic Europe, on the eve of battle.

     At five minutes passed eight o'clock, the island blacked out once more, as did all of the lights from the water and the park's vicinity, creating a blissful, frightening black power of darkness. The DHI banner, which was hanging between the Morning Glory stage area and the additional stage space, began to rise to the rafters, with the slow, haunting, marching drums of "Pre" accompanying its rise. Black and purple lights illuminated the banner, and florescent white lights exposed a tall figure standing at the edge of the screen: the Master.

     The crowd burst into the air with deafening roars and cannon-like bellows, chanting, "Death, Death, Death, Death-Head", as the banner hit its pinnacle. At the introduction's distorted thrashing, the screen exploded into flames, and revealed a contrasting darkness that the Master was supposedly hidden within, to a tremulous pitch from the ecstatic crowd. As "Pre" trailed off into silence, the calming, comforting notes of "New Animal Farm" began, a song in tribute to the animal revolution and the fight against human domination; ironic, because the Master was a human. As his steely voice entered to harmonise with the music, a very dim black light cast his silhouette upon the second white DHI screen behind him, and, because he was elevated thirty feet into the air by a platform, his sensational presence was further enhanced.


          “This meat I eat, Died in its sleep,

          Its world's complete, Just for me.

          This body was cut, neck snapped abrupt,

          Squeezed in a cup, For me.

          Robbed from his home, crushed under stone,

          Cracked broken bones, Not alone.

          Murdered in bunches, Presented in lunches,

          Everyone munches away.”


     The crowd sang along louder over the chorus, whilst the Master became steadily more visible, and rapidly appearing more powerful with the increasing intensity of the purple light.


          “Run - Away - Stunned - Afraid...”


          “WHAT IF WE'RE FOLLOWED?” screamed the crowd.


          “Come - To me - Trusting - Free...”


          “WHERE WILL WE STAY NOW?” yelled the crowd.


          “BANG! - Louder - Closer - Here...”


          “WILL YOU PROTECT US?” cried the crowd.


          “Flee - Flee - Flee - Flee - To me...”


     The crowd cheered as everything had temporarily been resolved with the animals and their slaughterers, and hummed along with the Master and the concerned second verse.


          “Killed within factories, Chefs perform mastery,

          Preparing anatomies...”


          “CHEWING!” chewed the crowd.


          “Multiple graves, Our appetite's slaves,

          Satisfied craves...”


          “SWALLOWING!” swallowed the crowd.


          “Human beings feed, Upon habitual greed,

          Meets selfish needs...”


          “DIGESTING!” digested the crowd.


          “Death by our hands, Decreasing their lands,

          Families disband...”


          “EXCRETING!” excreted the crowd.


          “Run - Away - Stunned - Afraid...”


          “WHAT IF WE'RE FOLLOWED?” screamed the crowd.


          “Come - To me - Trusting - Free...”


          “WHERE WILL WE STAY NOW?” yelled the crowd.


          “BANG! - Louder - Closer - Here...”


          “WILL YOU PROTECT US?” cried the crowd.


          “Flee - Flee - Flee - To me...”

     The air shattered into a million pieces with the explosive bomb effects, as the stage became fully illuminated, and the remaining members of DHI emerged on the stage in view of a swarming, hammering audience, who became very frightened at the noise.

          “DEATH IS GOOD!

          WHEN IT BRINGS FOOD!

          SO KILL WE SHOULD!..”


          “LIFE WILL FIND A WAY,” the crowd sang quietly, before the third verse rocketed into existence.


          “Dipped into sauces, Garnish is processed,

          Covering losses, WE EAT.

          Tucked in our beds, Whilst livestock run scared,

          Soon they'll be dead, WE SLEEP.

          Dreaming inside, Mincing these lives,

          Out with our knives, WE WAKE.

          Pretend we're concerned, Cannot be burned,

          Believe that we've learned... HAVE WE???”


     The quick, resounding pause terrified the inexperience audience members, as rockets burst seconds later to shower a seething, pushing, slamming, crushing pit with white light.


          “RUN - AWAY - STUNNED - AFRAID!”


          “WHAT IF WE'RE FOLLOWED?” bellowed the crowd.

          “COME - TO ME - TRUSTING - FREE!”


          “WHERE WILL WE STAY NOW?” shrilled the crowd.


          “BANG! - LOUDER - CLOSER - HERE!..”


          “WILL YOU PROTECT US?” taunted the crowd.


          “FLEE - FLEE - FLEE - TO ME!...


          DEATH IS GOOD!

          WHEN IT BRINGS FOOD!

          SO KILL WE SHOULD!..”


          “LIFE WILL FIND A WAY,” chanted the crowd, calming themselves into the story preceding the epilogue, a peaceful account sung by the innocent animals themselves.


          “We are little animals, We are so happy.

          We can go wherever we like, Unless we feel like napping.

          We live in our little fields, With our families.

          We drink water and eat the ground, Smiling with all species...


          ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK! ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK!

          ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK!


          We are little animals, Still happy but a little tense,

          Half our friends have disappeared, They're on the other side of the fence,

          We get along with everyone, The birds and bees and bears,

          We are sure we'll all be just fine, Even after that minor scare...


          ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK! ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK!

          ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK! ANIMALS UNDER ATTACK!"


     The galloping clomp of its subsequent bridge enticed a rhythmic crackling from the boots of the pit's controllers simultaneously kicking the ground. The true climax of the eleven-minute opener was about to be reached, where the animals would have their final say and declaration of war on the human world.


          “THIS MAMMAL REVOLUTION,

          SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY SOLUTION.

          THIS IS NOT A MATING ILLUSION,

          THIS SCENE IS REAL.


          OUR OWN RUNNING OF OUR WORLDS,

          RE-SETTING OUR GLOBAL MOULDS.

          THIS TALE THAT NATURE TOLLS,

          BEGIN BELIEVING...”


     After an endured chaotic conclusion to the song, the music dramatically slowed down and brightened, and the continuous chant of "Life will find a way" echoed around the entire city of Muttford for the following hours. The crowd stopped moving and applauded DHI in appreciation for their heroes' perfect entrance.

     Crowe's eyes widened as her favourite song, "Dark White Rays", was started up, a new song that she fathomed the Master had written it about her, and was about to perform it, for her. She made eye contact with him, meaning that for the first time in her life she had looked directly into his turquoise eyes, and she quickly felt the surge of divine resolution.

          “Now we've joined our gloomy lives,

          Linked our worlds that we've despised.

          Shared confessions can't keep inside,

          We are real, because we aren't a part of this lie...”


     She gazed back into his sweating face, and wished that she could break the barrier created by the security guards, and lick the moisture off of his perfect face. She watched him look directly back into her eyes for the entire, long song, and even into the brisk, thrashing beyond, his attention appeared only to occupy her sole being.

     Looking out towards the moving crowd, that light re-emerged, and penetrated the darkness towards my eyes. I couldn't refrain from staring at it, it was too strange, amazing, and beautiful. I couldn't remember playing the climax to the song; I was being guided by that large light throughout the entire, powerful finish. I was overcome by a literal light, warped in my existence by an illusion, or at very least, a bizarre reality.

     Europe pushed and shoved through the hurricane, battering away at a group of humans who had submitted after only two, extended song marathons. A group of the most potent circle in the group was established, and Europe was clearly one of the superior forces. He imagined each enemy around him as if they were Clark, Wear, Bear, or Mr. and Mrs. Stone; he conjured every fighting female around him to be the naive and lying Red; though he wisely avoided the scuffle between a lion and two bears, because the trio had already forced eight individuals to the hospital.

     Majerle stood in resounding awe at the steam being produced and manufactured from his Master, and was both proud and exuberant that he had been raised by such greatness. Majerle's latest personal secretary, a cat named Homer, had been temporarily employed to replace Timmons, who still was yet to be accounted for. Homer, though a tough cat, was still a cat, and he covered his little cat ears throughout the entire din of the ear-piercing music; Majerle directed his anti-cat jokes towards him.

     As the first DHI set moved along rapidly and smoothly, from "Brightness" to "Ask", "Alone" and "Underground Home", from the tenacious "Media" to the lightish “Leidlelei", the pit shrank in size and noise, and only the toughest creatures with the most prolific stamina remained. Crowe stood in the front row, never moving, never speaking; Europe snapped a human's neck with his thunderous paws. After two lightning-paced songs, "The Sound of Silence" and "Ambulance", the melody transformed into the dark chords of "Hero", where the island was blacked out entirely, except for the flares and lighters that most of the audience ignited.

          “I am not a Hero...”


          “You lie,” cried Crowe. “You are my hero, my idol.”


     After the first set and the pre-planned initial encore were complete came rousing chants by the crowd to have their exemplars return. They were not tired in the least, and only the lethally injured and the dead had left before the great concert was over. To the crowd's utmost glee, the familiar booms of DHI's "Onward Muttford" circled around the park, with black lights matching each deafening blast. Minutes later the Master appeared and picked away at the introductory rhythm, leading up to the entrance of the vocals, and allowed the energy to recycle itself through the stage to the pit and back, when the crowd dove into the storied "Death-Chant".

          “DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, DEATH-HEAD,” they repeated, over and over, until the Master's cherished voice accompanied them into an unforgettable harmony.


          “Death, Death:

          Pained Misery, Split their skulls and we'll be free

          Death, Death:

          Destroying our lives, Catastrophe looming in spite of our fight.

          Kill, Kill:

          Chilling the spine, Darker and darker, Approaching our time.

          Kill, Kill:

          Numbing the brain: End this mothermating game...”


     His voice trailed off into a rowdy churn of moving and chastising bodies, until the sounds broke into unbearable distortion and feedback. The crowd waited and waited, knowing what was about to happen, but pretending they didn't, by calling DHI back to the stage, to play one, final song. It was eleven o'clock, the whole city was electrified, but the evening would be incomplete without the final song. And then the solo, dark tune to "Silo" was commenced, to a weeping, appreciative crowd, who linked bodies to form one massive, seething serpent of life, and they basked in the music that they realised would be their last for much time to come. The knowing chorus arrived, giving the sense of anarchy and havoc was awaiting, and the audience bowed their heads to hear out of what were now bleeding ears.

          “If I do think, it's what to do,

          I don't give a mate of mating what or what not I have abused.

          I don't care what you think you can do: it's too late.

          What I've done, I've done; You cannot stop this hate...”

     The calm was replaced by havoc, Europe was beating everybody to pieces, and Crowe was staring lovingly at her hero of wisdom and hope. Finally, after the song rang its terminating chord into the cold night, the show was over, and the chaos subsided. Those who had fought and thrashed within the pits, shook each other's paws or hooves, a consenting respect that would last for their eternal lives, a mutual respect out of endurance, strength, and power. Crowe's last glimpse of the Master was of his living eyes, the turquoise colour planted in Crowe's head forever, even though she had never seen colour before. Europe's immediate feeling was to forget the mayhem that he had just recently participated in, but to build his adrenaline and anticipation of the upcoming fight between his hero, Battle, against the devil of the underworld, Warfield.

     I slept for forty hours after that over-exertion, my heartbeat never subsiding, my eyes seizing to replenish their effectiveness. I realised that I was out of physical shape, and after I had completed my personal mental rehabilitation program, I would concentrate on my physical condition.

     For Crowe, her various heroes remained, but only the Master was the guiding light in her dark, resilient life, and she dreamed that night of dark turquoise rays.






Dark White Rays - XI

     A great shock to Europe came two days after the concert, when Dollar's dead, agile body was discovered dumped in a forest between San Francisco and Muttford. He was contacted immediately after the findings, because a note had been addressed to him, which read to him Dollar's innocence. The envelope contained a stamp but no postal markings, likely meaning that it was soon to be mailed, and the letter inside was on blue, crisp paper.

--
     Europe,

     I have moved away, as far I possibly could from that horrid place. They fired me for what I did, which was entirely wrong, but they forced other answers out of me, and used them as and with lies. They told me that you had tattled on me, but I knew that was false: you were my accomplice, my ally, you stuck up for me, and I know in my heart that you would never have told on me. I will return only after I have heard that Compliments has been destroyed; until then, I will run away, fly away, disappear from existence until all is resolved.

     I'm sorry if I ever doubted you,


     $ Dollar $

--

     Europe writhed in pain and agony for hours after that, believing Dollar at his word, and hating the evil Mr. Stone who had made destroying, murderous lies out of an innocent life. Europe clenched his teeth and plotted revenge against the human world, revenge for the lies and insanity that it put its own species up against everyday.

     What Europe never wondered was, who actually killed Dollar, and how, and why?






Dark White Rays - XII

     The annual Christmas Eve parade down Indianapolis Street concluded shortly after sunset, the splashing segments of contrasting colours destroying each other into the darkness of night. The street lamps lining the road, illuminating the bases of the mighty skyscrapers that ascended above the pavement, cast shadows upon each other, struggling to revel in an unrequited brightness. The sounds of the sea in the distance stroked upon the coast with great vengeance - yet it was ever so peaceful - and washed away the festive confetti that was scattered across the beach.

     After the patter of paws, claws, hooves, and feet alike subsided, the ambience of eager anticipation of the following day acceptably became stronger. A pleasant, unusual hush disassembled the regularly busy land, its citizens triumphant in its achievement of the true concept of the holiday it was to celebrate. The parade, the carols, the lights - oh! the lights - were merely a backdrop for the centre stage of goodness that was created out of each individual in the city.

     Subtle signs of Christmas appeared only recently, not after Hallowe'en as in the human world, but barely three weeks in advance. There is no mass-commercialism, no business scams, no advertising blitzes, only the true, giving spirit of each of the hand-picked residents, each knowing what is correct, and hence faithful to that knowledge.

     This city will never fall under human organisation, or under mankind's ideals or beliefs. There is no one day that is set aside for this rape of giving and receiving; the kindness and generosity of each citizen are evident in their meaningful, random giving of gifts, presenting presents only to whom they want, not to whom they have to.

     The city celebrates Christmas for the appointment assembly of the reunion of families, a confirmed date that enables the definite engagement of relatives. The goodwill, jolliness, and creativity of the city are merely showcased during the festive season: in reality, this glorious atmosphere continues throughout the entire year. Time for love, joy, and the gift of giving, translates into the Year for love, joy and giving. The city's ideals are unparalleled to those of humans.

     As the final drummer beat his terminating rhythm, the faraway lights of the houses rapidly being extinguished, bells rang above the sky, seemingly above the galaxy. Santa Paws on his tiny red sleigh flew overhead, sprinkling his cold, white, accepting goodness over the land below. He smiled at the prospect of happy little ones, prancing about in the snow, eating his natural candy, and proclaiming their faith in this figure of promise and judgement.

     The city of Muttford fell asleep and woke into Christmas.






Dark White Rays - XIII

     Crowe sat in her luxurious front-row seat, talking softly to Raven, and glancing frequently at the picture of Warfield on the front cover of the program:

     WARFIELD versus BATTLE, WORDOLG CHAMPIONSHIP, DECEMBER 26th, MUTTFORD CIVIC PRISM.

     The evening had finally arrived, the fight between two of the strongest fighters in the world about to engage in ferocious, unrelenting war. Crowe, remaining in reverence from the recent concert, was slightly pre-occupied with the voices that she was continuously conversing with. Raven crouched beside her, telepathically begging her acquaintance to return to the unique, spirited individual that she was before the seemingly catastrophic slide into madness captured her. Raven would cry in the middle of the night, forecasting a world without Crowe, and unable to contemplate whether it would be for the better or for worse, at least at the present time.

     Europe sat on his forty-five dollar seat, dozens of rows behind the ring's arena, and flipped through his program in glee at the prospect of witnessing his hero live, in person, for the first time in his life. A doctor had examined him before Christmas, and had diagnosed him with excessive external and internal bleeding, as well as a fractured tailbone. But there was no pain that Europe couldn't tolerate at the moment, because his physical focus was watching a dream of his transpire into reality in front of him, and hoped the non-fictitious version would end in the same result as in his fantasies.

     Majerle sat in the Mayor's box at the edge of the ring, with Milwaukee and Rockford, and was sipping a wine glass filled with curdled milk. Homer sat behind him, because Timmons had not yet contacted the office, but Homer had proven himself to be a worthy temporary replacement.

     The under card was deliberately weakened, for two reasons. Firstly, most of the top fighters in the world, including the winner of the Battle-Warfield fight, would be fighting over the New Year's weekend. Secondly, the promoters wanted to both make the headlining fight far more majestic than the others, as well as wanting to introduce new talent. The first fight was a cat fight, between two scrappy cats named Qwerty and Pebbles, which was very uninteresting and ended in a boring twelve-round no decision, to both cats' shrieking glee.

     The second was better, but only very slightly, as a puppy named Wharton battled a bear cub named Boomer, and won in a twelve-round decision. The third, and final, under card fight followed the Wordolg International Animal Fight rules, where there are no stoppages or opportunities for any rest, and pitted a fierce bengal named Bengal against a tall husky named Warrender, who was part of Muttford's minor league baseball system. The fight was exhilarating, at least until Bengal flattened Warrender on the canvas after a brilliant five-minute struggle, where Bengal had slashed Warrender with a devastating right claw. Even though the hometown favourite had been defeated, the audience rose in unified appreciation of the prodigy that they may have seen spawned.

     And then, the lights blacked out, and the Prism transformed into a chamber of resonance, as Warfield's introductory music lofted through the levels of the coliseum. After the spotlight on Warfield, who was prancing around and around the ring, had dimmed and the song of "Bodies" had faded away, three terrific booms raised the audience to its collective paws. The energetic and charismatic sounds of DHI's "Ask" roared around the palace, the spectators clapping and cheering in awe at the gigantic canine who entered into the spotlight. He, too, danced around the ring, but was much slower and thoughtful; he never broke his stare through Warfield's temple, but in Warfield's defence, he never broke his evil, retaliating look either. The two behemoths stood in the ring and pounded together the gloves that were tied to their paws in front of the cautious and warning referee.

     Europe was jumping and screaming, urging the referee to signal the starting bell, so that his hero could destroy the hated Warfield as quickly as he could. Crowe sat in pondering silence, hating Battle for his popularity, but similarly knowing that her fighting idol was a worthy opponent. Majerle barked and barked in excitement and nervous anticipation of the great fight that was about to occur before him, and he had to be calmed down by a frightened but correspondingly excited cat in Homer.

     The bell sounded, to a frenzied shrill from the audience, and the two titans squared for war within the illuminated ring: they fought upon the only brightened area inside the entire Prism. Battle gave Warfield several quick jabs, before missing with an exaggerated left, to a tense sigh from the audience. Warfield rocked back and forth, before slamming Battle's jaw with a tough uppercut. They exchanged moderate blows for several minutes before one of them spotted an opportunity to destroy the other, and Warfield acted on it immediately.

     Battle had been backing up towards the ropes, until he slipped in a mild puddle of blood that hadn't been removed from the previous fight. Sensing Battle had lost his balance and composure, Warfield leaped on him, and machine-gunned his faces with a rapid fire of fast, hard punches. Battle was winded, and struggled in his attempt to resist Warfield's continuous, deafening blows, but could not find the footing to stand whilst Warfield hovered above him.

     Europe had turned into a deathly pale shade of green-white, watching as Battle was dealt blow after blow, jab after jab, and beating after beating. Crowe was screaming victory within herself, persuading Warfield to complete his masterpiece whilst the paint was still dry, but, to her utter disbelief, he paused to acknowledge the shocked and stunned crowd.

     Battle had lost consciousness several times, lapsing into and out of life for the past several minutes, before his subconscious observed an extended delay in his decay. Sensing it as an opportunity to escape possible death, Battle crawled as far away in the ring as he could, forcing his blood-locked eyelids open to view his current, unhappy environment.

     After focus had been maintained to his vision, he quickly noticed that Warfield had turned his back on him, and hadn't seen Battle move from his graveyard. Battle sat against the rope, to a rising cheer from the subdued audience, and waited for Warfield to search for him, before he would attack and knock him out.

     As according to plan, Warfield was quite surprised when he turned and looked for the absent Battle, but could not find him where he had previously lain.

Battle rushed towards him with massive fury, his acceleration broken only by Warfield's crushed body, the bones in his body snapping like toothpicks under the force that Battle had thrown at him. Warfield was more than winded: he was paralysed, and matters weren't improved by the constant hammers he was being subjected to by a vengeful Battle.

     Battle fought in memory of his slain acquaintance, Pasqual, who had been beaten to death by the ruthless Warfield, although he wouldn't enact revenge upon him by an equal retaliation of death. Instead, Battle would punish him to the brink of death, where pain wasn't felt because the closeness and region of death were too overwhelming, and would let him live in a punished, hurt state to throw him into self-destruction.

     As the final ten-count echoed around the exhilarated audience of forty thousand, Battle had obviously won, and Warfield's limp body was being cajoled into an ambulance for the hospital.

     Even before the ten-count, Crowe had acknowledged her hero's demise, and had contacted the Underground through her portable telephone with her strict instructions to carry out her every word of a plan she had devised. There was much argument to the plan, even initial bitter rejection, before Apple agreed to bring his best, strongest, most plentiful task force to the rear entrance of the Prism, where they would wait for further word from Crowe.

     Europe, who earlier had been pushed to the brink of devastation, felt relief sweep through his body and through his resurgent life. His hero had conquered the forces of the underworld evil, and there would always be a place tattooed into his soul where he had witnessed the second life of an idol.

     Majerle, cheerful that he had viewed a delicious fight, returned to his home immediately after the fight, so that he could curl up into bed in time for David Letterman. He was very impressed with Battle, and considered the spectacle of the following week's Championship between Battle and a powerful Urquhart.

     Battle, having rested and replenished his tired yet victorious body, decided to exit the Prism alone at midnight that night, through the rear entrance, with few others around. He walked into the cool, brisk air that blew in from the encompassing water, and grinned to himself through his aching that he had beaten one of the toughest opponents he would ever have to face, though realising that next week's fight with Urquhart would be even more difficult.

     He was suddenly confronted by a foursome of large bulldogs, each dressed in pitch black, and each armed with giant sticks. Battle, originally confused at the dark greeting, attempted to fight himself out of the stranglehold that the group had him in, and soon realised that he was too weakened and overmatched to fight back, although he was able to escape their grasps and charge down an alley. He was blocked by six more, and trapped forever inside a barricade of forty large dogs than created two unbreakable walls between him and freedom. He was held against a brick wall, though was never touched in harm, before the group was split up the middle by a shining female, a female who brightened the alley in which the assembly had gathered.

          “What the hell is this?” choked Battle on his own spit.

          “You defeated a hero of mine, and I must now murder the defeater of my hero.”

          “You are insane!” screamed Battle, pinned to the wall.

          “I am not; I am merely protecting my inner-self. You will have a week to live, or at least until the New Year, because I will be betting millions of dollars on the unthinkable result that Urquhart beats Battle because the latter never appeared. After I collect my soon-to-be billions, I will personally drown and dissolve you into the ground and into hell where you originated from.”

          “I could match the money you'd win, lets make a deal...”

          “You and I both know that you can't make your words reality. And there will be no deals: death is your only option.”

     Battle was led down the alley, and thrown into a small, wooden crate, barely large enough for him to fit, let alone breathe regularly. The group tied a strong series of floaters and light materials to an anchor, which would keep the crate afloat, but many metres off of the shore. As Battle plunged into the freezing, blowing blue water, he heard the distinct cackling of a voice he had never heard before, though he had heard of it, but it wasn't the laugh of the devil as he had imagined: it was Crowe.






Dark White Rays - XIV

     I noticed a strange series of contradictions between the Muttford Post and recent reports penned by my "Guards", which were both very interesting and very disturbing. The common theme was disappearing dogs, but not just any sort of disappearances: they were obviously the work of a powerful, internal figure in Muttford, because nobody had been detained, yet. The reports from the Guards continuously referred to "the Master's friend", and "an accomplice of the Master", as well as the recurring name of "Crowe", which stumped me, because I didn't have any friends other than Majerle, and knew nobody named Crowe.

     Supposedly, an individual who claimed to have known me well was gallivanting around the city, creating havoc, and couldn't be caught because my Guards feared that I may have actually known the individual in question. I counted four instances where Crowe had been encountered, and four instances where Crowe had been left untouched, unharmed, and unstoppable. A side note in each report stated that I was "busy" - I must have been using the Skyport to travel to one of the other worlds.

     I made the executive decision to make amends to the previous means of personal confrontations, and resolved that the next time that Crowe, whoever or whatever he or she was, decided to meddle with my name, she would never do so again.






Dark White Rays - XV

          “Follow me: Take my lead;

          No dessert until you bleed.



          Follow me: Open up and go;

          Watch as it spills and flows.



          Follow me: UNDERGROUND!

          Don't you want to see what I've found?



          Follow me: Down the hole;

          Crawl, mater, crawl: THAT IS ALL!”







Dark White Rays - XVI

     Once I heard the reports that Battle had been discovered, found trapped in a crate in the Sea of Muttford, I pinned the tail on the donkey who committed the crime, Crowe. From the evidence and the regular patterns that Crowe had left behind, I responded instantaneously to the news, and ordered my top guards into my now-filled office.

          “I am coming with you this time, to confront Crowe.”

          “But, Cer, you never come with us anymore," answered a Guard named Herman. "And besides, she is a friend of yours.”

          “She?!?.. She is not a friend of mine, I don't even know her.”

          “Then she lied?”

          “Yes,” I paused sharply. “We shall depart at midnight, three hours from now, and encounter this Crowe in the alley where you have found her before. Bring silent vehicles and invisible handcuffs, and prepare to destroy an infiltrator.”

     Crowe was most disturbed and upset when the news that Battle had been located and rescued was announced to her; although she thankfully hadn't robbed the Bank of Muttford for the millions of dollars that she was to wager, yet. She stood outside that night in her favourite alley, cold and miserable, but mischievously awaiting the now-weekly confrontation from the Master's guards about her involvement in the episode.

          “The Master gave me permission,” she would tell them. “I am the Master's closest being on earth, I am his ambassador.”

     As if on cue, the guards slinked into the alley where she stood cockily, but this time they walked with great pride and resilience, and that disturbed her immensely.

          “We know what you did to Battle,” the leader began. “This is not a warning anymore - no more warnings - you are history.”

          “The Master told me to do it,” she recited. “Call him, he never comes here, and you don't want to aggravate the Master.”

     To Crowe's enlarged smirk, the leader called into his receiver for the Master, but the line continued to be busy.

          “See... you don't want to take me in, especially that I know the Master so intimately,” she purred, about to depart the alley for the warmer, comforting Underground.

          “I do not know you,” came a distant, clear voice. Crowe halted in her tracks, having not deciphered the owner of the voice.

          “What did you say?” she turned, glaring into the darkness.

          “I do not know you,” repeated the voice, and the Master appeared before a stupefied and frightened Crowe, her mouth gaping to form a silent hole other that orbited shock and alarm.

     I stood into the light so that I could see her, and I similarly froze into a statue, reconciling deja vu of a faraway place that I had once ventured into in real life. I remembered the beauty from a hill that I had once played upon, a beauty that I thought I had killed and had cowardly departed. She was even more beautiful in the clear light, although lines of stress and anxiety lined her little face.

     Crowe stared back in a dream that she had personally transformed into a concluding nightmare, and she was sucked quickly back into actuality from the regret of dishonouring his name. She was still shaken, still believing that they had a special bond, an unspeakable, silent relationship, a gloomy pact...

          “What... what about the hill?” she quivered.

          “I didn't know you were there, until afterwards,” I replied.

          “What about the concert?”

          “What about it?”

          “I saw you staring at me through song after song.”

          “You are mistaken,” I began, before I interrupted myself with the realisation that she was the blinding glow that had been emitted from the crowd at Dyers Park. “I'm sorry, I did see you. You were this brightness, this strange shade of white, and I couldn't look away.”

          “But you saw me!”

          “I see many things, and I see many lights.”

     Crowe paused, looked embarrassed at the ground, before continuing as if she had resigned.

          “What is going to happen to me?”

          “I'll make a deal with you, to you only, and if you break your side once, I'll have you in prison for life; okay?” She nodded in sad response. “Look into my eyes,” I ordered, and she stared back, afraid, into my seething portals of new resolution. “You are to go home; you are to go to sleep; when you wake, you will find a job; you will make friends; you will get married; you will live happily and peacefully forever; and you'll never commit another crime again... Understood?”

     It took hours for Crowe to unlock her vision from his eyes, her emotional disintegration dissolving into a muddle of helplessness and melancholy, before she moved in her spot and whispered a forced, abandoned, “I love you”, when she blacked out into tomorrow.






Dark White Rays - XVII

          “There is so much I cannot say,

          I have no lord, I do not pray.

          All bottled up inside me, Release of evil energy,

          I want nothing but feel free...”



     She cried as she wrote her final letter, addressed to nobody, yet purposefully aimed towards her broken hero, the Master.


          “There is so much I cannot do,

          Because free speech has been abused.

          Frustrated turmoiled feelings, Big problem of self-healing,

          Death may be the only, fulfilling thing...”



     She screamed at herself, having been overcome too powerfully by the non-existent devil, and becoming trapped too deep her crazed lie to remove herself to advert disaster.


          “There is so much I cannot feel,

          My brutal past: now nothing's real.

          No pleasures are within reach, No highs that I would beseech,

          The afterbirth of time is still...”



     And with one, final flourish of her pencil, she sealed the envelope, jammed it into one of her giant boots, and ran towards the forested border that separated Muttford from San Francisco. She had heard rumours of the instant death that was reachable by crossing the border, and death was her only and final ambition in her wonderful life, that had been decayed and distorted from an over-enthusiasm for power, a force that she never actually possessed. As she departed her bedroom for the final time in her life, the imprint of her final passage was etched into the blanket.


          “Lack of a better place, Bad world cannot erase,

          My life is out in space, Deep in this dark depression.

          All true colours exposed, Brave New World proposed,

          Terms of exit undisclosed, Dark, Dark, Dark Depression...”







Dark White Rays - XVIII

     Europe woke from a chilling nightmare about Dollar that was so lifelike he thought that he was either sucked into the dream, or that Dollar had appeared in reality again. He could feel Dollar's running and accelerating, watching him glide through the air effortlessly, and hovering above the planets that gravitated towards an imperfect Earth.

     Europe threw up, emptying a sickened chamber of blood and undigested food, and he endured that terrible sickness until the night before the Battle-Urquhart fight. His reminisces about his hero in a fight the following day almost entirely banished Dollar from his active memory, and he stayed awake over that late-night period in eager anticipation that Battle would win again; but with also the obvious fear that Urquhart might be the first to ever stop him.






Dark White Rays - XIX

     Crowe found herself in a clearing in an unknown, foreign place, her dreams of a quick exit thwarted when she couldn't find what she was looking for, even though she didn't know exactly what she was looking for.

          “Frustrated as hell...”


     She climbed a small hill, where at its peak, she slipped and broke her leg, prompting her to howl in deep pain. Regarding her latest display as ridiculous, seeing that she would soon be dead anyway, she limped through the trees planted on the hill, and made her way towards a distant clearing.


          “Separated my shell...”


     She had such great ambition to kill herself if the unknown forces of death didn't reach her before she completed her plan. Being a mystical, amazing living figure, her plans for anything could only be of the most original, the most spectacular, and the most effective.


          “I've created a spell...”


     She had growing doubts about her adventure, an inner voice that was pleading with her to make her return to her home, safe life. She refused the taunting from her inner voice, and it inspired her to move farther and farther down a cleared path of leaves.


          “Worried that I'm not well...”


     Over another, smaller hill, exposed a clearing, and she saw a fire and its incumbent smoke, and she heard voices of canine life, sitting and eating around the fire. She leaped into the air, and sped towards the fire, sensing its brightness and warmth to be the comforter she required to lapse into death.


          “Liberated I see...”


     As the clearing became closer and closer, Crowe's brilliant plan of action became more vivid in her mind; death was intriguing, death was alluring, and death would be exciting.


          “Elated, I see...”


     She envisioned the group of chatting dogs as the epitome of life and freedom, a laughing end to what should be entirely serious. She barked and called towards the dogs at the fire; their faces at the fire looked up and smiled at her, waving their independent mugs of flame-broiled curdled milk towards her in acceptance.


          “Terminated, happily...”


     Her brilliant plan was merely minutes away, she was so close to reaching the dark white rays that she had dreamed about for so long, and was about to experience firsthand.

     She ran towards the fire; she had but one tree to pass, and she would be there, she ran, she ran, she ran towards hope, and liberty, and Brightness. As she passed the final tree on her left, she was stopped and wrestled to the ground by a large, fat animal, who laughed and muttered several please, human obscenities.

     After eyeing his find, he raised his rifle to her head and her world exploded into a flow of steady, Dark, White, Rays, a tone only she could see because she was colour-blind, a world different from her previous world, because she was now dead.






New Animal Farm - I

     New Years Eve is the annual showcase for the three major Wordolg championship sports, bidding a spectacular farewell to the year that almost was, and was to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Vazierdrome, this year. The first event had started two days earlier, the cherished Castle Cup, the mini-baseball knockout tournament for all of the Wordolg Baseball League teams, and the final week of the pre-season for the upcoming baseball season. The football all-star game, the All-Dog Bowl, was to be held as the first final of the three main events, and incorporated the best players from each conference in one, relaxing game. The main event was the Wordolg Animal Fights fightcard, which featured such prominent match-ups as Pitcock versus Nahm (Battle's best friend), Decker versus Springbok, Braun versus Tabrith, Dane versus Barkley, as well as Nevada's own, Battle, versus Urquhart.

     The early rounds of the Castle Cup were dominated by the Muttford Pirates, previously a two-time winner of the tournament, the Atlanta Barons, the Charlotte Wolves, and the surprising Louisville Dodgers, the four of which met in the semi-finals. Muttford swept Charlotte 4-0 in the best-of-seven, three-inning-game series, whilst Atlanta escaped a resurgent Dodgers team, winning 4-2 in six. Thus the final, to be held after the All-Dog Bowl, would pit the Muttford Pirates against the defending National League Champions, the Atlanta Barons.

     The All-Dog Bowl was dominated by the Desert Football Conference, who whipped their National counterparts, 50-34; quarterback Dabroy, of Muttford, was the Most Valuable Player. Majerle, Milwaukee, and Darke were additional Muttford representatives at the football all-star game, and each Viking played magnificently well, though Dabroy was by far the most impressive.

     Unfortunately for Muttford, they were defeated in the Castle Cup by Atlanta, in a thrilling, seven-game series, that not only lasted the distance, it surpassed it, by going into extra-innings in the final game, where Atlanta exploded for two runs. However, it was a majestically successful tournament for the Pirates and the city of Muttford, because many felt that their talent had been disintegrating because of each key member's political involvement.

     As the evening with its incumbent darkness arrived in Las Vegas, and filtered through the silver roof of the glorious Vazierdrome, the Wordolg Championship Animal Fights commenced, with the eighty-nine-thousand strong audience holding their collective breaths for the championship fight, between Battle and the very, very tall Urquhart. Nahm upset a ferocious Pitcock in the opening fight, by enduring his opponent through many, noticeable mistakes, and hence capitalising on many of the errors. Muttford's Springbok whipped a gigantean Decker to the mat, giving the country of South Africa a proud representative of strength to reside in the city of Muttford. Braun versus Tabrith ended in a draw, as each fighter was unable to put away the other in the half-hour that had been allotted to them, and the audience grew restless at having to wait even longer for the sensational bout that was now only hours away. The next fight was tremendous, an earth-moving battle between the very altitudinous Dane, and Wolverton's Barkley, both former champions in the event, before the exhaustingly-powerful blows from Dane knocked Barkley onto the mat for the requisite ten-seconds.

     And so the most anticipated fight in fight history became history itself in the ring in Las Vegas, Nevada, when the challenger, Urquhart, considered to be the only fighter strong enough to fight against Battle and even win, entered the ring to a wave of emphatic "boos". But the glowing, raging cheers from the audience certainly rang around the stadium with great depth, when their hometown saviour, Battle, placed his enormous, muscular body inside the ring and looked up at an equally stalwart Urquhart. Pundits, experts, and fans alike each speculated the fight to be remembered as one of the finest, toughest-fought, and most evenly-matched championship in all of fights' history. And, except for the latter, it was, and truly exceeded the hyperbole that it had been publicised to be.

     As the bell rang, with billions of different creatures expecting a glorious, extended battle, the first ten seconds gave no indication of the magic and power that everybody was to see. For after Urquhart had thrown several playful jabs into Battle's stomach, the mighty Battle roared into dissonant fury, and shattered the intangible walls that protected Urquhart. Battle showered Urquhart with several, catastrophic blows, both surprising to and wounding the mighty creature, but he still managed to keep his balance and avoid hitting the floor.

     Then came the most powerful punch in fight history, as Battle fired a colossal uppercut into Urquhart's unsuspecting jaw, followed by a very temporary short pause, and then Urquhart collapsed onto the mat that shook the earth like an earthquake.

     Ten seconds later, ten seconds of shattering silence and the echo of the punch still rocketing around the Vazierdrome, Battle was crowned the undisputed Wordolg Animal Fights Champion for the year.

          “The Shot Heard Around The World,” screamed every announcer simultaneously into their microphones after Battle's wieldy paw punished Urquhart into unconsciousness, and would be the most-repeated reference in Wordolg sports history for eternity, christened after that Brobdingnagian shot from Battle.






New Animal Farm - II

     Europe sat smiling, tears streaming down his masculine figure, chanting to himself about the invincible hero that he had designated as his own, and watched as Battle circled the ring, victorious, and waving his gold championship collar into the air.

          “You really love him, don't you,” asked Monique, who appeared in the doorway and sat her pulchritudinous body beside him, a cup of milk in her warm, outstretched paws.

          “Yes, I do,” said Europe, looking back fondly at his new fiancée, the female who was to occupy the many years of his life leading through his death. She smiled back, and they sipped their milk together in a comfortable, warm silence in front of the television and the burning, crackling fire.

     For Europe had become a very rich dog from several law suits and legal settlements that had stemmed from the Compliments horror, and would live without monetary fears for the remainder of his life. Though there aren't very many lawsuits that are recognised and comprehended in Muttford, the fact that the restaurant was human-owned and oriented meant that the canine city had a case to pursue compensation for the damaging effects that occurred during Europe's tenure. Unlike many newfound millionaire counterparts in the human world, Europe would continue to work at his new job at the new Majerle Artificial Chicken factory (or the MajerleMac), and would restrain himself from excessive expenditures that are commonplace with frivolous, human shopping sprees. Europe had been swimming deep in the Pacific Ocean, when he saw a struggling, drowning figure in the waves before him, and he dragged the helpless body to the closest Muttford beach. After bringing the figure back to life from apparent death, the figure's eyes opened and exposed the brightness that was Monique, and the two never parted after that moment.

     Europe bought an apartment for the pair, a temporary habitat until the house he was constructing in North Muttford would be completed, in mid-April. He parted with tearful "farewells" and "good-byes" from his mother, London, who wished him well, before departing on her quest to find the whereabouts of her husband and daughter, a vast task, but imperative to the motherly beauty nonetheless.

     For Europe, his life appeared to be complete: a wife, a house, soon to be a father, and he wasn't yet twenty; a very fortunate individual to say the least, but he deserved it.

     Nothing could stop him now, nothing could stop him now, nothing could stop him now, nothing could stop...






New Animal Farm - III

     At the conclusion of the fight, as the day disappeared into tomorrow, leaving yesterday behind, the year also departed, passing the old into the new. The city of Muttford had been given another exceptional, growing year, and was poised to continue their increase over the following years to come.

     There was no parade, no candlelight vigils, no exhausted publicity to bid adieu to the recent year, but the feeling of hope and power co instantaneously transcended into every citizen of the city, to further elongate the city's tight, unbreakable bond.

     As the wiry dusk that was the new year's first seeped through the streets and formed a whitened cloud over the sea, the citizens of Muttford slept, worked and waltzed through an initial January of perfection, productivity, and pride. Until the following month, when the city was jarred from its deep sleep to receive threads of the most horrendous news that any living dog had ever seen, and hence became the most important month in the history of the modern canine world.






New Animal Farm - IV

     Majerle was woken at five-thirty in the morning on February the first by Homer, to his great displeasure, though he was soon widely alert and concerned when he was informed of MCS' discovery of a leaked report from a human new network. He was initially confused, though not by fatigue controlling his thought process, but by the oddity of the information that he had received. As he dressed himself in his suit, in the very early morning hours of pre-day, he contemplated the various possibilities that could have been the ataxia that he was expected to embrace.

     His first concern was that Timmons had finally contacted the office, but realising that good news such as that would have waited until the afternoon, he focused on the negative side of that, and he shuddered. His next perception, which was more comforting though similarly strange, was that the Master had called an emergency meeting to discuss his new role in the managing of the city; but that also could have waited until later.

     The car ride to the MCS head office was a very difficult and turbulent one for Majerle, as several other, incomplete thoughts transferred through his mind and into his figurative garbage can. He processed the peculiar circumstances, weighed them against the city's recent brilliance, and mixed them with personal hopes and fears, and logic.

     At the MCS head office, the entire delegation of Muttford government, emergency and diplomatic leaders was gathered into the large room, nobody uttering a sound, and everybody's attention fixated towards a still, silent MCS News television screen. Majerle's presence went unnoticed until Milwaukee spotted him in the doorway, and motioned towards an armchair beside the television and himself. Majerle walked slowly, cautiously, towards the television, observing the never-ceasing concentration of the individuals that he passed on his route. He sat at his seat, looked straight at a staring Milwaukee, before pounding the table in fidgetiness and yelling for answers.

          “What the hell is going on? I've been woken hours before I've really ever been before, I have no idea what is going on, and, worst of all, I'm very, very hungry,” he exclaimed.

          “Majerle,” President Milwaukee began in a low, warning tone. “Stop being selfish and self-pitying, and listen to what LaCoss is going to tell you.” He nodded across the table at a very nervous and grim LaCoss, the Senior MCS News Operations Director, who stood and walked beside the television screen that was consuming so much attention.

          “All of you gathered here today, thank you very much for coming here this morning, but I'm positive that after I state the reason for your presence here, you will see the importance of the matter, equally.” The room became deathly quiet, eyes now turned away from the screen that LaCoss had extinguished, and ninety-five eyes (there was one pirate present), stared at the breath being sprayed from LaCoss' mouth. “The MCS News network has discovered a leaked report from a human-based news organisation, with graphic, disturbing content, and destructive allegations and incidents, the physical results of which are unknown.”

          “Show us! Show us!” begged a pair of fox representatives, to a violent hush from the other individuals gathered there.

          “A valid request, but, unfortunately, I don't have the means to show anybody the specific film yet, because it is locked in MCS' protected archives, in fact, nobody has seen it yet. We only found out about it by an expatriate living in Louisville, who watched the beginning of it on human television.”

          “Then why the importance, or the great, disturbing brief of the report?” asked Xerox, who was sitting at the back, previously silent. “Why did you bring us here this early without any solid examples?”

          “Because the story will be transmitted over Muttford television tonight, on the prime time news, but only, under broadcasting law, the Mayor of the city gives his full permission.” All eyes turned towards a shocked Majerle, who began to tremble and shake his hind legs beneath the table.

          “Why does Majerle make the decision?” asked a naive leader of the coyotes, to several sighs from the Muttford government.

          “Because,” Rockford explained patiently. “The Master designated all of the vital duties of such a request to Majerle, and Majerle only. Certainly, we could try to convince Majerle with both points of view, but ultimately, the decision is his.”

     Majerle gulped in his seat, and wanted to sink through the floor to the sea, and to climb back into his comfortable, familiar bed. The room froze in consideration of the latest development, before different ideas were thrown at Majerle with hurried importance.

          “You cannot do it! You cannot run anything over television without it being viewed first, especially something so important.”

          “What about David Letterman? He runs live every night.”

          “Why can't we view it first? Why can't we see it?”

          “The archive is a safe of computer-programmed video tape,” elucidated LaCoss. “Where important material is stored before viewing, and where only one switch can activate its release. Otherwise, the film will be destroyed for eternity.”

          “How has this system worked before?”

          “There have been three occasions prior to this one, where Majerle has given permission to broadcast unmonitored television material. The first was the news report about the first dog to fly to Antarctica; the second was about the slaying of thousand of bumblebees; and the third was the exposure of Hayley's rejection of playing in Muttford. All of them worked out positively, even the bumblebee episode, and the city found great strength around each one of them. Who is to say that the same reaction won't occur again for this news information, even if we know absolutely nothing about it?”

          “Destroy the tape!” shrieked a banshee who had flown beside the window to the office, before departing into the true book where she belonged. Dogs frequently saw hallucinations such as these when they were under intense strain, so it came as little surprise to the assembly of creatures in the room.

          “Show it!”

          “Don't even think about it!”

          “Destroy the tape!” shouted the banshee.

          “You have to show it!”

          “Majerle, what do you think?” asked Milwaukee.

          “I - don't - know,” he stuttered, panicking within. “When do I have to make the decision by?”

          “Now!” chorused half of the room.

          “Actually, Majerle can contact me anytime this evening, before eight fifty-nine, and if he gives permission, we'll broadcast it at nine o'clock, and if not, we'll destroy the tape. Meanwhile, Majerle will be requested to remain home, alone, with only his emergency telephone on the hook, and I hope none of you will chose to disturb him. If the decision is to show the report, your emergency red lights will be illuminated at the precise moment, and if not, if you haven't heard anything by nine o'clock, consider the decision a rejection. Either way, the public will be continuously informed that a major story of great importance will be announced at nine tonight, and every citizen will have to be watching to gauge an accurate city reaction.”

          “What if the decision is 'no'?” asked Rockford.

          “Xerox will be working on the largest trade in Muttford baseball history, so that there would still be a major report, even if the original one is not shown. Isn't that correct, Xerox?”

          “That's correct, LaCoss. And to make the probable trades known to you, it is the following: Dabroy to Seattle for Voriner and Duval, and Heath to Florida for Lyons and Volpe.”

     The crowd gasped at the mention of two of the biggest names in Muttford history, including the Premier of Law in Muttford, Dabroy, were announced to be involved in a possible, major trade. Baseball season had already commenced, to a relatively strong start by the Pirates, and a trade of such great significance as mentioned above would be devastating, especially that Muttford would hardly be matched in return. Dabroy sat extraordinarily silent in his chair, saddened that one little decision could end his prosperous life in Muttford. Majerle looked at the tall, sad Doberman, and whined to himself at the considerable thought he would have to put into the question. The trade was so substantial, that the news report would definitely pale in comparison, wouldn't it? How would they ever know unless they actually saw it, and what could be the worst outcome from it all?

     As Majerle departed the solemn meeting for the house that he missed so much, he wondered where the Master was, and why he hadn't interjected with his own, personal advice or ruling. So, Majerle was to make the decision on his lonesome own, and thoughts streamed through his cranium for the following few hours, stopping only to wonder why hadn't the Master offered to help him in the most important decision in Muttford history?






New Animal Farm - V

     I decided to spend one final weekend cut off from the outside world, having made strong resolutions to cleaning and redecorating my room, adding a computer, and constructing a library stocked with amazing books. I would eventually conclude my re-evolution by measuring and cutting out a hole for my first window, so that I would be able to look out towards the sensational outside, where life lived freely and effortlessly, for the first time.

     The afternoon, or what I suspected was the afternoon, was spent arranging the souvenirs of my previous life around my comfortable chair, the centre of my new universe that my growth would orbit around. I laughed along at the covers on books that I had found, memoirs of a faraway life, and the influence for the perfect life that I had invented outside my hallowed walls. That is why I desperately wanted and needed a window: to view the splendour that I had been so strong a part of.






New Animal Farm - VI

          “Standing on the ocean, I will never sink;

          Then why am I so wet? Will I ever think?


          Stock my body with dirt, Bleeding through my veins;

          Bombarding my fluids with poisons, To salivate these pains.


          Raving, Ranting, Peeving, Panting,

          Scream for life within my chanting;


          Urging, Splurging, Inviting, Fighting,

          Spread my wings to greet the lightning...”



     Though she had been deceased for an extended period of time, the soul of the amazing creature was still able to control her final thoughts: her perfect battle plan. Being somewhat of a creature of death herself when she was still alive, the transformation of thought to reality would still be a difficult one, even impossible. But the plan had been so amazing! She envisioned dungeons, and paths, and tanks, and bullets, and a shattering aerial attack. She foresaw the shadows of an inevitable end, where her knowledge and intelligence would have provided the only possible diversion before the earth exploded itself into a mass of nothingness. But she had been killed before her plan could have been inaugurated, and the perfect plan vanished away with her exiting spirit as she herself died a second, terminating death, until she was complete nothingness herself.






New Animal Farm - VII

          “The MCS News Network has announced that a massive, important report will be broadcast tonight at nine o'clock. All citizens are thus strongly requested to watch the story when is shown live tonight, as it will likely have great influence and effect on everybody's lives. Although no information is being released at this time, the government of Muttford has expressed concern about the content of the report; however, they do encourage citizens of the city to view the broadcast. I repeat: a major story will be shown over the nine o'clock news tonight on the MCS News Network.”






New Animal Farm - VIII

     Majerle's stomach clenched its internal fists, pounding away at every vital organ, and shouting at his cerebrum to think quickly and effectively. He whined and complained to himself, tallied up the pros and cons, before lying on bed and dreaming of the perfect conclusion to the horrible task he had been assigned.






New Animal Farm - IX

     Disconnected from the world, I sat and played my wonderful guitar, composing insightful, influential music that would eventually grace an upcoming DHI album. I played about heroes and villains, and war and peace, and turmoil and satisfaction, and the spirit of the animals who had constructed a flawless city. The computer spoke to others in similar Skyports around the globe, chatting and conversing about useful and useless subjects alike, happily typing, and playing, and sitting, and living.






New Animal Farm - X

     At eight forty-eight, Majerle was woken from a tired, stressful sleep, and gazed towards the ceiling that separated the galaxy from himself. He rolled over on his side towards his luxurious window, and began to contemplate the benefits of additional sleep.

     He jumped up into the air, seconds later, when the corner of his right eye glanced at his alarm clock, and the message was transferred to his sleeping brain: he had barely ten minutes to make his decision. He howled painfully into the ignoring moon, before speeding around his room in chaotic circles, toppling furniture and shuffling papers reserved for work. He spent five unsuccessful minutes alone searching for the MCS Emergency phone number, before he resigned and attempted to dial
the number by memory.

          “Hello,” an answering machine, performing its mechanical duties, answered. “You have reached Midnight Pizza, but there is nobody present to take your order. We're sorry for any inconvenience.” Majerle slammed down the phone and dialled another number, which correspondingly gave no reply.


     8:56.


     Majerle scrambled around his room, frantically trying to locate where he had left his important information; he was preoccupied to such a point that he forgot that he was still yet to make a decision. He called another number at random.

          “Bonjour! You have reached the Poodle Palace, hot doggy sex phone number. The charge for this call is, -” and though Majerle would normally have remained on the line to speak to a luscious poodle one-on-one, he had bigger things to concern himself with.


     8:57.


     Majerle flung away through his mind, slapping it in that the added strain would release an answer, before he suddenly realised that he hadn't confirmed the decision to himself. He thought of a suggestion that the Master had once taught him, that if one were facing a difficult problem, to sleep on it, and the subconscious mind in the brain would present the best solution. Just before Majerle remembered what his initial feeling had been when he had woken, the MCS number bolted into his head, and he promptly but clumsily punched the requisite telephone keys.

          “MCS Secret Emergency Service,” came the rabid voice. “Please identify yourself, and quickly.”

          “Majerle, Mayor of Muttford, concerning the MCS broadcast decision.”

          “Thank you. One moment.” The line was transferred to a frenzied LaCoss, who demanded Majerle's reply.

          “I... I don't know,” Majerle sputtered, crackling his nervous teeth together. “I can't remember!”


     8:58:00.


          “Think, Majerle, think!” yelled LaCoss, less than sixty seconds away from signalling the archives to either be opened, or destroyed. “You must give us your answer, now!”

          “Lets see,” an eerily calm Majerle began, thinking about his original, wise reaction.

          “Think, Majerle, think,” begged LaCoss, seconds away from passing out in his office, which wouldn't have been very useful.


     8:58:27.


          “Majerle, you have thirty seconds, otherwise I have to say no. I cannot convince you of either way, but I will support either decision you make, regardless of how others feel about it.”

          “Think, Majerle, think,” Majerle thought to himself, and the answer popped into his head, where, at:


          8:58:44,

     Majerle whispered to LaCoss, [q/]I, Majerle, the Mayor of Muttford, hereby give outstanding permission to MCS to broadcast the entity of the afore-discussed report.”

And with that, LaCoss signalled the producer to release the lock on the archives, leaving Majerle to crash to the ground out of exhaustion and letting him in his daze to depend upon his own intelligence that the decision he made was the correct one.






New Animal Farm - XI

     The city sat around their television sets a minute later; nobody remained on the streets, nobody had been unaware of the highly publicised event on the news, though nobody knew exactly what it was about.

     Dabroy sat and pleaded to see any story that didn't involve or mention him, as he didn't want to return to Seattle, or just yet.

     Europe and Monique sat in each other's laps, not completely taking the serious hyperbole seriously enough, and their temporary attention was instead turned towards sexual activities.

     Majerle sat on his bed, trembling in anticipation of the report, stupefied because he hadn't known anything about it, and yet he had still allowed MCS to show an uncensored report.

     I tinkered away at his computer, frustrated because the damn thing had shut itself off, so I cursed and swore at it.

     The city sat around their television sets in a collective, innocent silence.






New Animal Farm - XII

     Singleton's warm, familiar voice entered the living rooms of millions, as he spontaneously read off of the pre-programmed teleprompter, and spontaneously became completely distressed.

          “Welcome to the nine o'clock prime time news on the MCS News Network; my name is Singleton.

          As many of you have already been informed, there was to be a significant report that had been leaked from a human news network, which was obtained by MCS, and stored in the secure, MCS archives. Though nobody yet knows the basis of the information we are about to provide, we have been informed that it is all distressing, graphic, and violent. We now broadcast to you the video report in question, with San Francisco reporter, Lillian Efforts, which will be followed by live footage courtesy of MCS.

          After an epidemic of continuous disappearances of canines around the world, investigators have discovered the reasons for such a widespread vanishing, and the results have been mixed.

          Three years ago, in the American state of Kentucky, investigators have reported the discovery of two hundred thousand slain canine corpses, which have been speculated to have ranged from recent, to five years ago. Twenty percent of the deaths were caused by gassing, twenty-two more were the result of lethal injection, and, shockingly, fifty-eight percent were caused by gun shot, or manual battering, or a combination of the two. Experts have classified the killings as "routine animal control", citing that death by gunshot is much cheaper and more convenient that the other, more sanitary methods. Authorities identified the culprits as local veterinarians, animal control centres, and breeding palaces. When questioned, the animal control centre representatives mutually agreed that in a world of increased costs and fewer benefits, gunshots were the practical means for execution. When asked why dogs were being destroyed in the first place, they replied that "over-population" was not permissible.

          It seems strange to me that they would criticise animal over-population, when the human population is becoming ridiculous and uncontrollable.

          This story was buried for the past several years, until investigators discovered a large quantity of slaughtered dogs outside of San Francisco, California, beside the animal-governed city of Muttford. Discovered were thirty-thousand murdered animals, each with either a gun shot to the head, or excessive internal bleeding caused by battering, enough to provoke death.

          Yesterday, we sent a live, hidden camera with a canine reporter from Wolverton through the forested border between San Francisco and Muttford, and the outcome was horrifying. We will now show you the unedited footage from the canine reporter.

          The camera moved through the trees, closing in on a clearing that appeared safe, quiet, and peaceful. A looming figure emerged from behind one of the trees, and blocked the reporter's path to the open clearing. The figure possessed a rifle, which was held by his side, and owned a gruesome, evil face that laughed in victory down at the reporter, who was calling to his human accompaniment to assist him. The figure raised the rifle and aimed the barrel directly at the frantic reporter's skull, and with a quick flinch of the index finger, there was an explosion that sent the blood-covered camera flying down the hill; fragments of skull and brain following it. Soon, two humans approached in terror, and cursed at the laughing murderer, who merely shrugged his shoulders, collected the dead body, and carried the staining mass of red to his shack.

          He had killed the dog, an easily, but he hardly acknowledged the humans who had travelled upon the same path. We have learned that after the dogs are killed, they are skinned and sold to Korea as a dog meat delicacy, and their brilliant fur is collected to create coats.

          Canines are not the only creatures to be executed in such fashion: the bodies of many cats, donkeys, bears, tigers, and even a rhinoceros have been discovered around the clearing.

          We will now show you a stream of photographs of every body that was found in relatively good condition, along with past photographs of what each animal looked like when they were alive. There are about five hundred photographs, but in honour of the slain dead from the world's most perfect city, we have made it our personal tribute.

          A warning: graphic and explicit, disturbing images will be depicted, so please, don't watch if you can't take it.”






New Animal Farm - XIII

     Europe had been immediately diverted from his romantic expenditure with Monique, and sat five inches away from the television screen, his mouth open in anguished awe.






New Animal Farm - XVI

     Whilst the additional live footage of the processes of beating, skinning, and eating thousands of dogs were shown, Majerle blinked, and blinked, and quietly antagonised over the decision he had made. "How was I to know?" he thought to himself over, and over, and over, but no retrospective thoughts could break him away from his utter guilt, his enlarged conscience, and he cried.






New Animal Farm - XVII

     The first slain individual shown was an ordinary Postdog named Datsun, who, even though many didn't know him, harnessed more emotions out of the breathless audience from the split-screen of his living and butchered body, than they had ever witnessed before. After ten minutes of strangers, dead, unknown dogs, the television audience remained riveted to their screens, never moving nor speaking, the few silent moments from the television were interspersed with moans, cries, and whines.






New Animal Farm - XVIII

     Europe sat upright in his seat as he recognised two very familiar faces, and the printed identities of whom confirmed his terrible nightmares: they were his father and sister. He smashed his paw in anger through a window of his expensive apartment, cutting and almost decapitating it, but the spurting blood and broken bones didn't distract him front his continuous violent mourning whilst watching the living and skinned images of his family.






New Animal Farm - XIX

     The subsequent images were of four humans beating a puppy's skull to smithereens using baseball bats, whilst another human forcefully restrained the mother and gleefully constrained her to watch, although she was already fighting viciously to rescue her child. They shot her in the face eight times after they were satisfied that the puppy was dead.






New Animal Farm - XX

     Europe had begun to spit, and swear, and conspire against the human species, before happy images of a dead Clark, Wear, the human Bear, and Speed, flew across the screen. Still enraged at the staff of Compliments, he yelled in victory at the fallen demons, though slightly disappointed that it wasn't he who had performed the task. Then, the double image of Secord and Queen together threw Europe back into a state of anger, even angry at himself for supporting the brutal deaths of anyone, even those that he hated with all of his wicked hate.






New Animal Farm - XXI

     Majerle was sobbing and barking, wanting the insanity to end, and now wishing that he had ordered his acquaintances, Dabroy and Heath to be traded away, in that it would have saved him such pain. He watched a school expedition end in tragedy, as the forty young students and their teacher were ambushed by eight humans, and shot into death by machine guns, to the delight of the human scum, who revelled in their newfangled military power.






New Animal Farm - XXII

     Europe had become almost numb from the repetitive visions of blood and death, and especially, the humans' happiness. He moved for the first time in what seemed like hours, and his drying, caking blood followed his paw to the bowl of water, where he drank the living liquid up. Out of the corner of his left eye, he spotted a running figure, a dancing and athletic runner, and, by the time he had snapped his head to focus on the screen, Dollar had been shot through his agile legs.

     Europe screamed and rose into the air like a volcano erupting, and ran at full speed towards the brick wall behind the fireplace. The top of his head shattered to form a large, dark-red hole, and the pieces of his head formed an unsolvable puzzle on the white cream carpet that he passed out on. Monique, who had been frightened and had been sitting in a corner, scrambled to her paws, and dialled for an ambulance, where she screamed the explanation of the events.

     The emergency services, who had also been watching the news, arrived at the apartment within minutes, and flew Europe's twitching body to the most efficient hospital in the world, Muttford Central Emergency. Had he been able to awaken and eye the television at the precise moment where his body was being removed through the window, he would have seen the fatal images of his mother, London, who had also been killed. On her quest to find the location of her husband and daughter, she failed to find them living, but had easily succeeded in finding them in death.






New Animal Farm - XXIII

     Majerle's living nightmares continued, but reached its pinnacle when the body of the cat-dog (or dog-cat), Timmons, was enlarged on the screen in front of him. Calamitously, yet spookily calm, Majerle bent towards the television, and switched it off, leaving the world of murder and torture of his species trapped in a cable above his head.






New Animal Farm - XXIV

     The pictures of the friendly, helpful, and eager leader of the rhinoceroses were also tragic ones, showing the gentle giant sleeping peacefully in death, a bullet hole through his right eye. The following video clip showed the giant creature rumbling towards the humans and their guns, trying to save a group of scared dogs from being shot, which eventually ended in all of their demises. Rusty the rhinoceros was an honourable, true, natural hero, and isn't it funny how all heroes are usually dead?






New Animal Farm - XXV

     The final image of the night ended minutes before midnight, and was of a glorious, glowing creature whose blood appeared different from the past victims that had been depicted. For this was a magical creature, was shown in black and white, and dark, white rays oozed and shimmered out of the pores, before sudden blackness overcame the brightness, and revealed a screen that read, "MCS broadcasting is now complete for the day. Thank you for watching MCS, have a good night," and the eternal buzzing and feedback cut through the city's collective emotions and minds with a venom unmatchable by the images they had witnessed.

     But, life will always find a way...








The end of Onward