Who Stole the Zmulobeast, Chapter 4, Scene 1


See, ever since I’d heard Stool Pigeon talk about the Zmulobeast getting smuggled away down there by the harbor, I couldn’t get that one word out of my mind: helix. According to Pigeon, somebody he called ‘The Little One’ thought he heard that word while the mysterious crew down at the docks was busy stealing the critter.

Now, I may be a dog and all, but I’m a talking dog, and I’ve been a talking dog long enough to know a few things about words. I know enough to know that there’s not much chance a bunch of thieves were using any word like ‘helix’ all right? If you wanna know why, look it up sometime. I think you’ll see my point. No, if they were talking about where they were headed, then ‘helix’ wasn’t the word they used.

I figured I’d go find out just what that word really was. For one thing, I knew if I managed to find out, then it might help Chief to actually have an idea where Boris was going. That would be nice.

So where to start? Well, knowing Stool Pigeon as I do, he likes to hang out in the streets a lot, which meant I was gonna have to do some poling around in some pretty tough places before I found him. But I was gonna have to find Pigeon if I was ever gonna get the chance to talk to whomever The Little One was, and I was determined to get a hold of that Little One. Stool  Pigeon would give me a tough time about giving up one of his sources at first, I knew that, but I could be pretty persistent for a mutt. It was one of my good traits. Besides, if this Little One really was a little one, as in little kid, then what kid wouldn’t get a kick out of meeting a talking dog? I’m always figuring the angles, as you might have guessed by now. Pretty good at that.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m strolling down the well-lit side of 2nd Avenue, keeping an eye out for anyone figuring to make some sudden moves. It was strange, but you could feel the difference between this side of town and where I’d just come from, and it wasn’t just the moist rottenness of the air. There was garbage layin’ all in the street, and row after row  of busted up brick carcasses that used to be buildings where people lived. Now the rats were the tenants, and they never had to worry about paying rent.

All this was enough to let anyone see something was broken here, but beyond all of it there was something even deeper. It was just a feeling you got inside. A vicious feeling. I never much liked that word ‘vibe’, but that might be the only way to describe it. The vibe was straight-out dangerous. See, the footsteps you’d hear back in the neighborhood surrounding Headquarters nearly always sounded relaxed, never like you had to worry who was responsible for ‘em. But down this way, near the docks, the sound of footsteps behind you might be your last warning to get ready for trouble. It was like this whole neighborhood was a mouth fulla sharp teeth, and right about now I was hopin’ it had been fed. Just be nice to the dog, that’s all I was askin’.

Speakin’ of being nice to four-legged friends, I think most folks like dogs, even down here. Still, every once in awhile you run into some confused soul who has it in for the four-leggers. Those are the ones you’ve got to watch out for. Those and the packs. I knew some of the pack dogs around this way, actually grew up with a couple, but still there was something about the way dogs can act when they get in a pack that can be pretty scary. Take it from a dog who knows. All I’d need to do is tick off one member of the wrong pack, and next thing you knew they’d be on me like prime rib.

So let’s just say I was payin’ close attention to everything that was going on around me. I was just here to track down Stool Pigeon, get some info, then head back to Headquarters before anyone started to miss me. About a block away, sitting underneath  a street lamp, I spotted a familiar figure that made me grin. Georgie. Georgie was a friend of mine from way back when we were just pups. Now he was this big German Shepherd with a pretty serious reputation. If a dog could lift weights, he’d probably look something like Georgie.

I didn’t get too much closer before he spotted me coming, then gave me the nod. I nodded back, feeling pretty lucky to run into him down here this time of night. At least now I figured I had some sort of protection. All most dogs had to know was that somebody saw you talking to Georgie, and they’d steer clear of you. That went for the packs too. But the other reason I was glad to see him was I figured he’d probably know where Stool Pigeon was. As much as any person can own a dog, that’s the way it was between Pigeon and Georgie. I don’t know if Pigeon knew how well Georgie looked out for him, ‘cause if he did he’d put the dog on salary and get him some better grub.

“Spike! So what brings you down to this side of the tracks, my good friend? Looking for some action or what?”

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