The dog is black. It is skeletally lean. Its eyes are terrible.
“Wuf,” it barks.
“Easy, boy,” says Micah.
“I won’t be so easy,” threatens the dog.
“Ah,” says Micah.
The dog wants him to comment on its remarkable power of speech. Micah can tell. So he lets the silence stretch.
“I can talk,” says the dog, eventually, “because I’ve eaten human brains and learned their wisdom. That’s the reason.”
“Ah,” Micah says.
“It’s brains!” cries an Irish Setter, wagging her tail vigorously. “Tasty brains!”
A human woman giggles. She brings in the groceries.
“Oh, please! Tasty brains!” begs the dog.
The narrator explains, “Beggin’ Brains—a new delicious dog treat! Dogs don’t know it’s not human brains!”
“I’m going to eat these brains and absorb the skills and knowledge of humans!” cries the Irish Setter. “Then I’ll be able to open doors and shoot squirrels with a gun! Also, I’ll be able to thump my own sides!”
The narrator laughs indulgently. “Aww.”
“Real brains?” Micah asks.
“Real brains,” confirms the dog.
“It started with just one baby,” says the dog. “My mommy thought that he might be the Antichrist. But the baby-killing abortion doctors wouldn’t help her because of her strong pro-life stance! She was pretty desperate. She couldn’t raise the Antichrist and a dog. So she fed the baby to me.”
“Babies don’t know how to talk,” says Micah.
“That’s true,” says the dog. “But once you’ve fed one baby to a dog, it’s easier to feed the dog the next one. Pretty soon, it was her standard response to pregnancy; and then, when she ran out of dog food, she just grabbed a couple of toddlers from the street and I munched them down.”
“I’ve been working my way up through variously-aged children,” says the dog. It sizes up Micah. “I’m about ready for a ten-year-old by now.”
“I’m thirteen,” bluffs Micah.
The dog looks him up and down.
“I remember Reagan’s election,” Micah says.
“That was more than thirteen years ago,” says the dog.
“Its repercussions echoed through time and space!”
“I think that you are lying,” says the dog. “But in case you are not, I will hamstring you, eat the girl I smell in the distance, who is certainly no more than twelve, and then return to devour you.”
Micah readies himself to fight; but it is not the dog that he will fight.
“I was sad,” confesses Basil, into the camera. He’s a boy. He’s wearing a jacket. He looks a lot like Sebastien did at his age. “It was the promise of my birth that I would fight for her. That I would do what the hero didn’t, and go into Central, and kill them all, and take her away. But if you’re someone who fights, then you can’t also be someone who wins and doesn’t have to fight any more. So I was stuck with a dharma that I couldn’t ever really fulfill.”
Soft music plays.
“Then,” says Basil, “my doctor proscribed Belsheflex. It’s the only prescription medicine designed to treat inherent flaws in a person’s nature.”
Talk to your doctor about Belsheflex!
Side effects can include stomach cramps, itching, bloating, emptiness, ineffectuality, and in rare cases seizures or heart dysfunction. It might be for you.
“I’m happy with Belsheflex!” Basil declares.
There is a thing in the woods. It is taller than the tallest trees. It is round, and its color is blue and white like the sky, and its shape is a wheel within a wheel; and all around that wheel are feet and thorns and eyes; and on each side of it unfold two great wings with feathers made of glass, and the thunder of those wings is like the noise of great waters. It reaches them as Micah sets himself to fight, and the footfall of its passing crushes the dog’s bones like they were so many sticks.
It is rolling towards Micah, and towards Liril beyond.
Micah does not move. He can’t. It is his dharma to be the border between Liril and the world.
Even against the wheel he shall fight.
What happens then, we cannot know.