Story (c) 2000 by Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved. Characters
Sabrina the Skunkette, Amy the Squirrel, Tabitha, Carli, Tammy Vixen Shiela
Vixen, Clarisse, and Carrie Squirrel (c) Eric W. Schwartz. Character Roxikat (c)
John Barrett. Character Thomas Woolfe (c) Michael Higgs. Characters Chris Foxx,
Susan Felin, Cindy Lapine, Debbye Squirrel, Clarence Skunk, Mr. Canis, Dexter
Collie, Angel Collie, Sarge and Endora Mustelidae, Wendy Vixxen, and Wanda
Vixen(c) Chris Yost. Character Florence Ambrose (c) Mark Stanley. Character
ZigZag (c) Max BlackRabbit. Character Cyberhorn (c) William Morris. Character
Terl Skunk (c) Rodney Stringwell. Character James Sheppard and Marvin Badger (c)
James Bruner. Character John Silverback (c) Himself Character Kittiara and the
restaruant "Callahan's" (c) "Kittiara" Character Katja (c) Herself Character
Mark the cheetaur (c) Mark White Eric W. Schwartz (c) Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz.
Michael Jones (c) Martin Pedersen. Arden Eastridge (c) Keith Dickson. All rights to additional characters
reserved by their respective owners.
WARNING: Rated R for language....
I'm not sure how long I had been sitting there when I heard the bathroom door open. The executioner had come. Pulling my legs in so she could get by, I waited. After a short time, she stepped over my feet and walked to the bed. I just sat there, head down. After a few minutes, I heard her lay down, then turn off the light.
Waiting, I listened to her breathing as she eventually drifted off to sleep. Crossing my arms over my knees, I leaned forward and lay my head down on them. It was somewhat hard to breathe like this. Trying to get to sleep, a part of me hoped I wouldn't have to wake up.
Hearing the crackle of a fire, Sheila opened her eyes in a panic. Looking around, she saw that she lay on simple bedding near a fire pit, the smoke trickling out through the roof. Sitting up, she looked around and saw that she was at the hut that Arden had described as belonging to Nanuk. A noise from the side caught her attention as a large polar bear entered. It wasn't like Arden, but a primitive, un-evolved version of the species. Even on all fours, it towered above her sitting form and struck fear into her heart. As she sat rock still, the bear sniffed at Sheila then turned and walked to the other side of the fire. Squatting down on its haunches it reared up changing shape into that which she had become accustomed to seeing with Arden. For some time, it, no she, looked at Sheila and then shook her head, "Why do you throw away that which you desire so much?"
Surprised at hearing her speak, Sheila tried to think how to respond, "I'm not sure what you're talking about." The eyes closed to slits, "Don't toy with Nanuk. Nanuk can see within your soul here. Much effort was required to bring you here, and in this domain I am absolute." Icy fingers of fear grabbed at Sheila's heart as she realized that this truly was a force of nature, a power to be reckoned with. Not sensing any real hostility, Sheila took the feeling for what it was, a warning, "I'm sorry Nanuk. This is all so.... new to me."
Relaxing a little, Nanuk nodded, "Understandable. Even for Arden, this realm is unfamiliar. But that is not why I brought you here. I am here to show you your mistake." Resenting the interference, Sheila gave Nanuk a hard look, "And by what right do you stick your muzzle into my business. Haunt Arden if you must, but I'm not one of yours."
Slowly shaking her head, Nanuk let out a sigh, "You do not understand. This is not just his life, but also yours. I ask again, why do you drive away that which you have sought for so long?" Still defensive, Sheila waved her hand, "Because I'm not a toy. I'm not just here to give him a good time, and then be discarded when he feels the call to go home. I've had that happen too many times, I won't let someone do it to me again."
Standing Nanuk stepped around the fire and squatted next to Sheila, "And if it costs his life, you will still blame him?" Surprised at what she heard, the shock penetrated her anger, "What are you talking about, he's not in any danger of dying because of me." Grabbing her arm, Nanuk hauled her to her feet.
Catching her balance, she realized that they were standing by the doorway to the bedroom. She could see herself in the bed, strangely illuminated by an orange yellow aura. Looking to Arden, she could see him sitting by the bathroom door. He hadn't moved since she went to bed. She could see his head lay on his arms, which were crossed on his knees. He too was illuminated, though by a faint, bluish white aura. Nanuk pointed to the form on the floor, and forced Sheila over towards him, "Look at him. Sitting like that he cannot breathe. He does this on purpose."
Speechless, Sheila looked on his form, noticing that the aura was slowly fading. "He told you once he didn't want to live without you, and that he would give his life rather than hurt you. He does not see a way out of this, child! Thus he removes himself from your life." Understanding how her past pains had forced her to create this breach, Sheila saw that she had misinterpreted what he had said. It had been her automatic reaction, which had caused her to misjudge the situation. Looking up at Nanuk she asked, "What can I do?"
Grasping Sheila painfully by the scruff of her neck, Nanuk held Sheila so that she was eye to eye, "You must save him." As she was thrown across the room, she awoke with a start. Looking over to the bedroom door, she saw nothing. Turning to the bathroom door, she saw Arden sitting on the floor.
Untangling herself from the bedding, she fell out of the bed in her rush to get to him. Taking his head in her paws, she lifted it up, 'My god, he's not breathing!' Grabbing the fur on his shoulders, Sheila pulled with all her strength, knocking him over and stretching him out. Holding his muzzle shut, she began breathing for him. After the second breath, he began to cough. Gasping for breath, he opened his eyes and seeing Sheila's outline, covered his face with his hands. With a pained voice he asked, "Why didn't you just let me go?"
Pulling his hands away Sheila bent down and kissed him, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I just automatically went on the defensive. Everything I said was wrong. Please, swear you won't leave me." A pleading look on his face, Arden sat up, then reached out and put his hand on her cheek, "How many times must I promise this? From the first time I saw you in the hospital I've told you this. What does it take for you to believe me?" Rocking back on her knees, Sheila dropped her head, her hands buried in her lap, "I know that. I was wrong. Can you ever forgive me?"
Leaning forward he lifted her head with his hand. Placing his muzzle next to hers he rubbed them together, "There is nothing to forgive. Just promise that you won't push me away again."
Taking his hand, Sheila stood and led him to the bed, determined never to make the same mistake she had made tonight.
Sitting by the window, Michael watched as the rodent gang leader Mike approached. He had taken the precaution of knocking out the streetlight that normally shone in the window. Watching as the drunken rat walked up to the building, he moved to a position inside the kitchen. After checking the pistol and its silencer, he then donned the mask he had brought. Waiting in the kitchen, he listened to the creak of the stairs as his prey approached. His senses became totally alive as he entered a hunting mode. Smelling the scent of the rat as it unlocked the door, he prepared to strike.
Opening the door, the rodent flipped on the light switch. Cursing at the cheap lamp, he walked over to turn on the kitchen light. Just as he stepped around the corner, Michael struck the rodent on the side of the head with his pistol. Stunned from the blow, he dropped to his knees. Once again striking with the pistol, Michael rendered the gangbanger unconscious.
Closing the door to the hallway, Michael locked it. Locating the plug for the lamp, he re-inserted it into the wall, causing the light to come on. Quickly walking to the window, he closed the shades, ensuring nobody would see what was going on inside. As he walked back towards the kitchen, Michael turned on the stereo, which began immediately to boom out a loud, obnoxious rap song about cop killers. Reminded that he was dealing with scum, Michael grabbed the rodent by the belt and hauled him over to a wooden armchair by the wall. Placing the chair in the middle of the room, he dumped the rodent in it. Taking the roll of ductape he had, Michaels systematically taped the rat's arms and legs to the chair. Smiling with a malicious thought, he also placed a strip over it's eyes. Pulling this stuff off would be very painful.
Going into the kitchen, he took the pan of water out of the freezer that he had prepared for this moment. Taking it back into the living room, he splashed into the rodent's face. Sputtering, Mike began struggling with his bonds. Realizing something is wrong, he began to curse, "What the fuck is going on here! Why the fuck am I tied up?" Smacking the rodent on the soft spot of his skull where he had smacked him before with the gun. "Ow! Mother fucker! I'm gonna kill you when I get outta here!"
Grabbing his ear in one paw, Michael sank his claws into it, getting a satisfying screech of pain. Leaning close, he whispered in a husky voice, "I am here because you failed us. You know how the boss gets when you fuck up, and you fucked up big this time!" Confused by what he was hearing, he swung his head around vainly searching for the voice, "What the hell are you talking about, I did exactly what he fuckin' wanted!" Smacking him again, he growled in the other ear, "And just what the FUCK do you think he wanted you to do?" Twisting his head again, he rapidly spoke, "He said to make an example of the raccoon so that nobody would ever fuckin' betray the DA again!"
Bingo! Confirmation that the DA was responsible from a second source. Now to finish it, "You listen up you little shit. I was told to give you an option. Personally, I'd prefer to cap your ass right here, right now, but that's not what he wants. He's going to give you three hours to get out of town. You ever show your face in his territory and he's going to use you for a fuckin' scratchin' post, you got that cat meat?" Michael smelled urine, "What the fuck! I did just what he fuckin' said man! Why is he doing this to me!"
Laughing, Michael let him stew for a few minutes, "Since you're such a fucking looser that you can't figure it out yourself, I'll spell it out dick head. He said make him an example, but you made him a fuckin' martyr for the fuckin cops. Instead of making a statement, you've got the entire god damned police force looking for YOUR ass! Now they find your ass, there's a chance you will spill the beans, so it's time to get rid of you. Either you leave, or you get buried. I'm hoping for the second option, but it's not my choice is it."
Cutting his left arm free, Michael backed up and turned off the light, "You're three hours start right now. Don't dally as I'll be watching." Stepping out the door, Michael quietly closed it. Heading quickly down the stairs, he left by the back door and jogged away from the building. Making sure that he wasn't being watched, Michael removed his mask and continued walking to where he had parked his car. Getting in, he casually drove to a location where he could watch the ganger's car. After about forty minutes, he saw his target come out of the door with a gym bag and run for his car
A few seconds after the rat climbed into the car, Michael watched as the vehicle was engulfed in a ball of fire, parts flying everywhere. 'Damn! Looked like Khansman had taken steps to try to prevent Mike from spilling his guts.' Fortunately Michael had gotten to him first. Starting his car, he backed out of the alley so none of the on-lookers would spot him.
Tigger listened to the recording from Khansman's home phone line. He had been rather upset with the response that the Police had taken towards the raccoon's demise and had made the fatal mistake of talking to certain parties about eliminating the problem. He had also been stupid enough to complain to her mob contact about the price.
Daniel Khansman had just signed his own death warrant. The fun part would be making it look like a suicide, but first she needed to figure out a way to get in good with the detective without him suspecting anything. He was a vital component to her plan. Smiling, she popped the tape out of the recorder. It would come in handy later on.
As I lay in the bed, I felt the whisper of Sheila's breath, as she slept curled up next to me. I was unable to doze off myself. I had tried meditating in order to reach Nanuk's realm, but had been unable to cross over. It was as if I lacked the strength somehow to press beyond the barrier. Giving up on sleep, I carefully got out of bed, being sure not to disturb Sheila and headed for the kitchen. Maybe some warm milk would help me relax.
Walking into the kitchen, I got down a large coffee cup and poured some milk into it. After nuking it for a few seconds, I picked up the cup and headed for the back door. As I was about to deactivate the security system, I saw that it was already off. Curious, I looked out back and spotted Zig Zag sitting in a chair by the pool. Opening the door, I slipped out and quietly closed it behind me. Proceeding down the deck stairs, I stalked up behind her. As I stood there, watching her, I could see that she was looking at the stars, her mind a million miles away. Taking a loud slip, I announced my presence.
Giving a gasp, she whipped her head around. Moving so she could see me better, I stood by her, "Couldn't sleep either?" Holding her chest with her hand, she was shaking from the shock, "Damn it Arden, are you trying to give me a heart-attack?" I gave her a small apologetic smile, "Sorry, that wasn't my intent." Rubbing my chin a thought occurred to me, "However, I can't say I'd be too adverse to giving you CPR if it ever came down to it." Shaking her head, she just growled a little, "Why don't you go abuse Sheila or something."
Pulling up a chair, I sat down next to her, "Sheila's asleep. You're awake. Which brings us to the reason I came out here." Looking at me for a second, she just shook her head and turned back to the stars. Sighing, I leaned back in my chair, and took another sip. "Would you like some? I'd be glad to warm some up for you." Distracted, she shook her head, "No, thank you though."
Quietly sipping my milk, I leaned back in the chair. Looking up, I could spot the major stars, "Polaris, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Ursa Minor..." I heard Zig Zag ask, "Ursa Minor?" I hadn't realized that I was talking out loud, "You see Polaris? That large, bright star up to the north?" Pointing the general direction, I saw Zig Zag nod, "Ok, above that, due south is the little dipper. The second star is Ursa Minor" I could hear her chuckle, "Leave it to you to know where the bear stars are." Shrugging, I agreed, "Sorry, but there's no skunk star as far as I know. But there is a Canus Major." Hearing this she grumbled a little bit.
Putting the pieces together, I nodded, "Still pissed at James?" Shooting me a hard glance, she turned away again, "Why don't you worry about yourself." Setting the coffee cup on the ground, I crossed my legs, "I do worry about myself. I worry about Sheila, James, Sabrina, and everyone else at ZZ Studios. Ever since the drive by, I worry about everyone. Most importantly, right now though, I'm worried about you. What happened today was partially my fault. If you want to be pissed at someone, then be pissed at me."
I saw her shake her head, "You don't understand... You don't understand at all...." Leaning forward, I put a hand on her shoulder. As she turned to look at me, I gave a gentle squeeze, "Then make me understand." Releasing her shoulder, I picked up the chair and moved it around so I sat in front of her. Sitting back I waited for her to talk.
Slowly and quietly she explained, "After you and I talked this afternoon, I called and left a message for James. I let him know that Sheila's apartment would be ready in a couple of days. At the end, I asked if he wanted me to leave room in the garage for the Howitzer." Taking a few deep breaths, she continued her story, "Anyway, later that afternoon he called back to explain what happened. I don't' know how it happened, but we went from talking to arguing, then yelling. Last thing I remember, I told him not to talk to me again until he had learned a little respect." Shrugging her arms, she tried to get a hand on what had happened, "I've been sitting here trying to figure out why I went off on him like that." Thinking for a moment, I asked, "You don't like pistols. That's what started all this right?"
Hugging herself, she leaned forwards a little, "Yah, I don't like pistols." Seeing she wasn't going to continue, I asked, "Why? What is it that you hate so much about pistols." Quietly, she quickly answered in a monotone voice, "I don't know." She had answered too quickly, there was no thought behind it. Leaning forward, I lowered my face to her level, "Are you sure? You answered that pretty quick." Looking up at me, I saw the same look she gave me in the hospital when she talked about the accident. I pleaded, "Please, tell me what happened Zig Zag."
Standing up, she walked a little ways, until she was standing by the pool. Following her quietly, I watched as she looked down into the water and watched the reflection of the moon as it gently rippled in the water. Standing next to her, I waited and watched. After a few minutes, I put my right hand on her shoulder. Still watching the moon, she spoke quietly, "Its because of my father." Remembering what I had read about her past, it became obvious, "He abused you, didn't he?" Stiffly, she nodded, "He used to beat me when I was young. I was always afraid that if I defended myself against him, he'd turn on my brother and sister." Nodding, I understood, "So you stayed, and took the abuse?" She gave another shudder as a breeze blew by, "As I grew up, the abuse continued..." I spoke quietly in her ear, "It changed. Not only did he beat you, but he molested you too."
Trying not to cry, she managed to choke out the words, "One day he hit me hard, I fell and hit my head on the table and split it open." I didn't understand. I knew all this from Max's write up, but where did a pistol come in? "And then what happened?" Still struggling for control, she answered, "My mother, she thought he'd killed me."
As she began to cry, I turned her so that she faced me. Pulling her close, I held her tight as she cried into the fur on my chest, "I never knew she had a gun. She was yelling at my father to get out, but he wouldn't leave. He kept daring her to shoot. Then he hit her, and knocked the gun away. He just stood there, hitting her over and over, again and again."
Clawing at my chest, she pushed herself away, fists at her side, she screamed, "He was going to kill her! I had no choice!" Sobbing, she dropped to her knees, "I had no choice, he would have killed her." Kneeling down in front of her, I took her head in my hands, and forced her to look at me, "It's hard, I know. But you did what you had to do. If you hadn't, he might have killed your mom, or your kid brother." Tearing herself away from my hands, she glared at me, "Don't patronize me! You don't know what it's like to shoot someone."
Sitting back on my feet, I just shook my head, "That's not true." Hearing this, she gave me a distrusting look. "About eight or nine years ago, I lived in an apartment complex. One of the people in the adjoining buildings was a real asshole. He was constantly drunk. The cops were out to his apartment two or three times a month. One day, after spending time at the gun range, I pulled up into the apartment complex. As I headed inside, I saw him chase his girlfriend out with a baseball bat. She tripped and fell." My mind numb, I remembered the scene as if from afar, "She tripped, and he was on her. Swinging the bat. I could see her trying to defend herself. The sound of her arm, as it shattered under the force of the blow. Without thinking, I opened the case and pulled out the pistol. I always keep loaded clips in the case, so it was just a matter of sliding the clip home, and releasing the slide lock. Holding the gun at my side, I walked towards him, yelling at him to stop. When he heard me he turned, he had spotted a new target for his rage. Charging at me, he raised the bat over his head. Lifting the pistol up, I aimed. As he saw the pistol, he froze. He was a good five or ten feet away. As we stood there, I saw her kid come running out to his mother. She was covered in blood. As her son shook her, she didn't move. He had to be stopped." Taking a deep breath, I swallowed, "It wasn't self defense, though that's what the cops called it. I executed him. One shot, right in the bridge of the nose. I had hit that mark on a target hundreds of times. But this time, it was for real." Looking up at Zig Zag, I shook my head, "The only consolation I'll ever have is that he won't ever hurt anyone again!"
As I actually focused on Zig Zag's face, I saw her eyes were wide open, her hands over her muzzle. Standing up, I looked down on her. "You were defending someone you loved. Your mother, your kid brother and sister. I executed a man over a women I had never spoken to in my life." Turning, I walked back over to my chair. Picking up the coffee cup, I headed inside. Some times I wish I really did have amnesia.