Who Stole the Zmulobeast? Chapter 2, Scene 2


“Look, I’m not trying to be difficult. We dogs only want to please you humans. That’s why we’re man’s best friend, remember? But listen to what I’m saying here, Maria. Just slow down and listen to what I’m saying.”

“I already know what you’re saying, Spike and yes, you are making sense. Okay? You’re making sense. But I can tell you don’t want to believe that this feather belongs to whatever made those prints. I do. It all fits somehow.”

“It all fits? Fits what, Maria? What fits about rabbit prints and gold feathers in the bushes? I’m telling you, kid, that doesn’t fit anything I’ve ever heard of.”

“Call it a hunch.”

“I’ll call it something, but ‘hunch’ isn’t the word that comes to mind.”

“Isn’t it about time for your kibble?”

“That wasn’t nice, Maria. You don’t ever hear me teasing you when it’s time to eat your vegetables.”

Maria smiled, then reached down and gave me a comradely pat on the head.

“You are one funny little dog, Spike.”

“All right, now pay attention, because this is where the dog in me gets to be useful.”

I put my nose to the ground and started sniffing, and I mean sniffing hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy with all these other kiddy tracks around, but there was still a pretty good chance I could pick up a scent if I really put my nose to it…


“Did you just find something, Spike?”

“How’d you guess?”

“I think it was the way you fell over backwards.”

“Yep. That’s probably a pretty good sign I found something. Listen, whatever this Zmulobeast thing is? It has got one powerful odor. If it smells like this everywhere it goes, then we should be able to find it in no time. Just follow that smell.”

“So how do you know for sure that smell doesn’t belong to something that was stuck to the bottom of one of those kids’ shoes? Or maybe it was…well, what did it smell like?”

“I was wondering when you were going to ask me that question, seeing as how it’s pretty important. Maria, I’m a dog, right?”

“Right. You are kind of a weird dog, but still.”

“Okay, fine. But I’m still a dog. And dogs have a keen sense of smell, right? Are you with me so far?”

“I’m with you, Spike, the Dog.”

“Then trust me on this one. That smell isn’t anything that could get stuck to the bottom of some kid’s shoe, and it’s not a smell like anything I’ve ever smelled before. It’s—different. Yeah, it’s different.”

Maria raised one of her eyebrows and gave me one of those funny looks.

“Do you think maybe you could be more specific, Spike? As in giving me a better idea what this smell was like? ‘Different’ does not help much.”

“How am I supposed to describe a smell that doesn’t smell like anything I’ve ever smelled before? It’s just different. That’s the best I can do.”

“No it isn’t. You’re just being lazy because you don’t want to try harder. Try harder. If it were me telling you something was just different, you’d be telling me how you were going to bite me on my shins. You know this is true, Spike.”

She was right. But it was also true that I was having a pretty hard time figuring a way to explain this odor to Maria without…

Suddenly I had an idea.

“Maria? Come over here a minute.”

“I am already over here, Spike.”

“No, over here closer. Like, right here. Know what I’m saying?”

“Spike? What are you up to?”

“Just step over here, Missy, and stop asking so many questions. Just trust your old buddy Spike. You said you wanted to know what this thing smelled like. I’ve got the perfect idea how you can find out. Up close and personal, so to speak.”

“Spike? I am not putting my nose down in the dirt, okay? I am a girl, not a dog like you.  And besides, I am wearing a brand new outfit.”

Maria and her brand new outfits. Like that meant anything to me. Did I ever get a brand new coat of fur?

“So do you want to know what a Zmulobeast smells like or not?”

I mean, Maria really, really, REALLY did not wanna do this. And that’s why it was so much fun sitting there watching her. I knew she was gonna break down sooner or later. Her curiosity wasn’t gonna give her any kind of choice. Maria is one of those people who can’t stand not knowing something, which is why she’s so smart. There aren’t too many smart folks out there who don’t want to know anything, if you know what I’m saying.

I’d say it was about two minutes later when Maria was down on her knees, right where I’d just been sniffing around, and giving me a look like she wanted to shove me in a microwave. I just winked at her and kept panting, which is what dogs do best.

“You’re going to enjoy this aren’t you?”

“You have no idea. Just wish I had a camera.”

“You know you are going to pay for this, don’t you, little doggie? Oh yes, you are going to pay for this is  a very big way.”

“Believe me it’ll be worth the price. Now get to sniffing.”

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