Who Stole the Zmulobeast? Chapter 2, Scene 4

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By the look on Maria’s face, I could tell she was shocked. I never admit I’m wrong if I can help it. Doesn’t do much for my image as being smarter than the average mutt. But sometimes a dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.

“So I guess you want me to sniff around and see where I can find some more prints or something like that?”

“That would be very helpful, yes.”

“Always thrilled to be very helpful. It’s my job. Guess that’s why I’m  man’s best friend.”

It took me almost 20 minutes to luck up on another Zmulobeast scent which, luckily, was located right where there were some more footprints. Great big rabbit-like footprints in dried mud, which were next to…ahhhh man. Yuck. I shoulda known we’d run across this sooner or later. Oh well. All animals do it, so why would a critter from outer space be any different, right? Behold, the bodily waste pf Zmulo.

“What’s this thing been munching on to make it so green?”

Maria gave me one of her raised eyebrow looks.

“Plants, Spike. Is that really so hard to figure out?”

“Oh. Right.”

So anyway, back to the prints. This time I could see something that wasn’t as clear in the last set. This thing had only three toes on those feet of his. Or hers. Whichever. The new evidence was almost 200 yards north of the tree where we’d had the last scent, and I noticed they were also heavy prints. Heavy. As if it had landed on those feet really hard. That got me to thinking about the other set of prints Maria and I had seen off and on as we tracked the scent through the woods. The only ones that were really heavy, like heavy into the ground, were the ones that were far apart. Hmmmmm….

I decided to mark the spot, then ran to call Maria over. She was stationed back at the last set of prints by the bald-top trees. The idea we’d cooked up had been for us to figure out how far apart the prints were by letting her stay put while I roamed around until I found some more. Then we’d calculate the distance between them. Once that was done, it was pretty hard for me to argue against her hypothesis. Or whatever you wanted to call it. Suit yourself.

When Maria and I made it back to the more distant set of footprints, I noticed her eyes light up as she dashed about five yards away toward a bush. Naturally, I wanted to know what was up with the bush. So I asked.

“Hey Maria. What’s up with the bush?”

She reached down and plucked something from inside of it, then waved it in front of me. It was another gold feather. And a leaf with teeth marks around the edges. Said it might still have some saliva residue on it. Whatever. Sooner or later I was gonna have to do a full-scale retreat on my birdy hypothesis. Or whatever you want to call it. Bottom line? This Zmulobeast thing could fly. I said it before and I’ll say it again; this is gonna be one funny-looking critter when we finally track it down.

Then, all of the sudden, I see Maria put her hand to her mouth. Her eyes get super wide, and right away my heart starts pounding, which means I have to start growling. Reflex. Personally, I’d rather make any other kind of noise than that when I’m getting nervous, but genetics being what they are, I’m pretty much stuck with it. Dogs get nervous? Dogs growl. That goes for talking dogs too.

Maria pointed. I looked.

“What…”

“Blood. Over there.”

Like this was what we needed out here in the middle of the woods.

“How much blood, Maria?”

She shrugged.

“I don’t know, Spike. Lots. Over there. Go and see.”

I don’t know why it is that people always figure they have to send the dog when it comes to stuff like this. Whatever it is, if it’s something the folks don’t want to do, they send the dog. I’m tellin’ you, no matter how smart you are, if you’re a dog, folks just aren’t gonna treat you like one of them. Once a dog, always a dog.

That said, I trotted over to where Maria was pointing. Once I got there – it wasn’t really that far away – I could see why Maria was acting so funny. There really was a lot of blood. Mostly it was on one tree trunk and even though I knew she wasn’t gonna be too excited about the idea, I told Maria to come over and scrape a few samples of the stuff so we could take it back to the lab and get Chief to look at it. This was a pretty big deal.

But it wasn’t all we were gonna find.

Not more than a minute after Maria starts

scraping away at the blood on the tree trunk, she says she has to take a break. Something about being that close to the blood that was starting to get to her. Sure, I could understand that, but I start to tell her to stick with it for just a few more minutes, you know, just so we’ll have it all over with and done. I’d help her out, but paws kind of get in the way. They’re not too good for holding scrapers.

So anyway, Maria starts to complain when, just like that, her eyes light up again.

“You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me. More blood?”

This time she smiles, then shakes her head. She points again. Well I’ll be. Fur.

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kaoblues
Writer and musician.

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