Fantasy Humor Satire Science Fiction

"Baby Bark Bites The Bullet"

By David Perlmutter
Feb 18, 2019 · 6,115 words · 23 minutes


From the author: She's a super-villain unlike any other, but just as dangerous....


BABY BARK BITES THE BULLET

By David Perlmutter                                                             5, 970  words

 

         It was a typical summer night in Cantaloupe City; nothing bothersome or troublesome, mostly because of the heat. That, however, was destined to change.

       The stillness of the night was broken all at once by the vicious roar of an automobile rolling down the streets at top speed. And not just any automobile. Jet black, with plated armor of a similar coating surrounding it, it sped down the deserted streets not unlike a bullet being released at last from the chambers of a gun. For it, or rather its driver, had a mission to perform that nobody was going to halt.

       But once it got to 207 Hot Pants Road, in the heart of the city’s canine neighborhood, it stopped. This, this seemingly unimportant place, was where its driver was to perform the deed that she was destined to do. Why?

     In the driver’s seat was a small figure who, for reasons known only to the author, will not be fully introduced until later. Besides which, the night shadows so enveloped this villainous creature that she could not easily be seen easily. Punching a few buttons on the wheel of her car, she was able to lower her passenger side window as well as bring up a portable periscope through which she viewed the action that was going on in the yard behind the car.

      207 Hot Pants Road was, in fact, the home base of this villain’s arch enemy, and the arch enemy of all crime and deviance in Cantaloupe City, in fact. She-Dog, the magical, muscular, white furred dynamo clad in a lemon yellow, monogrammed one piece bathing suit, had emerged in the city not a few months earlier. Already, she had done considerable damage to the progress of evil in the city that had once been one of the world’s most crime ridden dumps. Her super powers had smashed the dreams of many an evil genius, including the one in the armor plated car. But this was not one to cry in her beer; she always had plans in her mind, especially for vengeance.

      Soon the villain had located the hero, in her secret identity of mild mannered Meredith Samoyed, fast asleep in her redwood doghouse with the painted white frame. And within her paws, looking almost like a toy in her embrace, was her young puppy sidekick, Billy. His little brown body was clad in a blue coat, and he was  moving and kicking vigorously, obviously in the throes of a dream. This was the fiend’s real target, not simply so she could use him as a bargaining agent with her nemesis, but also because she had more base desires for him.

     “Ah, yes!” she whispered sinisterly to herself, suppressing a childish giggle over his movements. “There he is- the keystone of my bridge! And how cute he is!”

     Turning away from the window and shutting off the periscope, she remained in the darkness as she thought of her next move. She had them trapped, but now what?

    “Yes!” she said to herself again softly. “He is the perfect means for me to gain my revenge on that lumbering, oafish philistine She-Dog! Her fate will be sealed once I have her little companion in my elegant clutches!”

    She uttered a high pitched laugh that cut like a knife through the stillness of the evening. It could have only come from as someone as young, as intelligent and as elitist as she was. That bit of levity done, it was back to business.

   The villain snapped two of the digits on her youthful left paw together. A large metallic, robotic being, cast in the shape and the manner of her less intelligent and independent ancestors, stood up, uttered a hollow and artificial vocalization, and waited for instructions.

    “Gidget, hand me that pup!” the villain ordered, pointing outside to the fence, the doghouse and, more specifically, to Billy.

   “Gidget” did as “she” was told, the way the villain had programmed her. Ignoring the large back gate, “she” smashed right through it, but miraculously the occupants of the doghouse did not wake up. Standing in front of them, the robot raised one of its paws, and a loud vacuum suction machine inside of it began to work. Abruptly, young Billy was sucked up from his post beside Meredith and held aloft by another of the robot’s paws. In the meantime, he woke up, and was shocked to notice his current predicament.

   “Hey!” he shouted loudly to the robot. “Let go of me!”

    It did not. Instead, the paw that had vacuumed him up now pulled out a large needle, with which it stabbed him. The needle contained a strong dose of morphine, so almost as soon as Billy began to yell for help, he was knocked out cold.

   This did not go unnoticed. Meredith Samoyed, now aroused by the cries of pain uttered by her young ward, grabbed the robotic creature by its tail with both her front paws as it attempted to leave.

    “Where do you think you’re going with my kid, honey?” she growled without an ounce of friendliness.

     This did not last long, for even the creature also known as She-Dog was unable to keep a hold on a sleek, slickly designed machine such as this. A vigorous wag of the robot’s tail sent Meredith flying, and it slipped through her paws like a greased pig. The big white real dog crashed headlong into the sturdy wood fence surrounding her house, while the big black fake one headed back to the car of her mistress with Billy in tow. That being done, the car sped off into the night.

       And Meredith, unable for the time to call on her super heroic identity, was left to mumble her young friend’s name in a daze.

                                               *

     With Billy captured, the black car sped out of Cantaloupe City and into the bedroom communities and suburbs which surrounded it. Then it slowed down and finally came to a stop, for it had arrived at Wunderkind. A spacious Gothic mansion of purple painted wood dating back to the 18th century, with an equally spacious estate surrounding it, Wunderkind was the kind of place you would expect to be owned by some local titan of business or politics. It had been at one point in its history. But now its owner was of a species even less virtuous than those.

   Entering a parking garage dug out from beneath the foundation of the mansion, the car came to as abrupt a stop as it had in front of 207 Hot Pants Road. The driver of the car walked over to an elevator built in to the house, still clad in darkness. She issued another curt order to the robot and then temporarily disappeared into the elevator car.

    The robot named Gidget acted like a proper servant and took the back stairs. Still carrying the unconscious Billy, it walked upwards quickly on stone steps through two swinging doors of heavy mahogany. Now it was in the front hallway. It deposited its captive firmly on his bottom, spritzed a perfume-like substance in the air to wake him, and left the room through the doors.

   Billy took some time coming to his senses. His youthful body was not as accustomed as would be that of an older dog to rapid changes in a sleep cycle, and drowsiness remained written on his face for some minutes even after he regained mental consciousness. Then he got his first good look at his kidnapper

    She was a Dalmatian puppy, a “runt”, even smaller than he, but her confidence outweighed his by at least a thousand pounds. Her ears were tucked around the side of her face with both youthful eagerness and adult confidence. In spite of the small size of her head, the lobes of her brain were enormous, and bulged out at places where you would not have expected them to bulge. The marks of her breed, the ever present spots, were absent since most of her body was covered, and the ones on her face, arms and legs were relatively minor. Her costume was a purple smoking jacket, tightly wound around her skinny body, and firmly belted in place. In her hand was something that looked like an old fashioned cigarette in an old fashioned cigarette holder.

    As she moved toward him, Billy knew that he was defenseless against her, especially with that gleam in her eye.

    “Uhh….” Billy uttered as he started to come out of his morphine induced haze. “What the…?”

   She now stood before him and clasped her paws together in an expression of delight.

    “Ah, William!” she said warmly, but with touches of intelligence, arrogance and (gasp!) passion on her palette. “What a pleasure it is to finally make your acquaintance!”

     Billy got back. His intention was to get way back, but somehow he was unable to run off. Instead, he recovered his composure and got to his feet. And right to the point as well.

   “What do you want with me, lady?” he demanded.

     She said nothing. Instead, she hooked her small arm into one of his and attempted to look into his eyes. He avoided her as if she was Medusa, since had little experience with the females of his race. To him, she seemed like an alien, and he didn’t want any of her alien cooties.

     “My dear boy!” she continued, with her deceptive warmth. “I do not necessarily “want” you for anything. It is merely the question of you serving as a decoy of sorts for an act of vengeance by me…” and here she said her name with her favorite evil laugh “…BABY BARK!”

    Her hysterical laughter frightened him, and he broke free of her grasp. But he still wanted to know more about her and remained in her presence.

    “And you are…?” he asked.

   “I am many things, William!” she said in her warm voice again as she stroked the top of his pelt. “A scholar! An artist! An athlete! An actress! And a more than accurate purveyor of the romantic arts!” At this, she slapped his buttocks, which both angered and frightened him. “But most of all, I am a ruthless villain dedicated to two chief goals- 1) total control of the world and 2) the defeat and destruction of your beloved friend She-Dog!”

    The evil laugh came in again after that one.

    Billy knew he was trapped. Baby Bark had him over a barrel. If he went along with her plans, she would find some way to use him to destroy his friend She-Dog and him with it. But if he tried to run away for help, she’d destroy him directly and still find some way to get rid of She-Dog. And she was smart, and looked strong also; he was no match for her at anything. But he had to find some way to save himself and She-Dog.

     I’ll have to play along with her, he told himself. Maybe if I ask her about herself she might reveal some sort of weakness, even if it’s inadvertent.

    So he cleared his throat and asked her:

   “Why would you want to destroy She-Dog?”

   “A good question!” came the answer. “I will elucidate!”

     With her brains, she could. And she did.

     “My mother was a lab animal at Allen Industries, and naturally, when I and my several siblings were born, we were likewise called into service. It became apparent to the scientists supervising us that I was already exceptionally talented. Not that they cared that much about me as a person. Against my will, those half witted crackpots stuck me in an abominable torture chamber for what they assured me was something that “wouldn’t hurt”. They LIED! It did hurt- considerably at that! But it also hurt in a good way. My brain was inundated with considerable knowledge, more than I could possibly need! But it was more than enough to steer me towards the belief that I was capable of plotting to control the world- and actually DOING IT!”

     “I escaped the clutches of my captors and sought to build my empire. With my brilliance, it was no problem for me to analyze the financial institutions of the city and discover the fatal flaws in their security systems. Through that, I built up a fortune, and I bought this mansion with my gains to serve as my headquarters. And I had it painted the way I like, in purple! A good color, do you not think? Then I came up with the robots to do the grunt work that I had neither the muscle nor the desire to do. I had my digits in most of the pies of crime in Cantaloupe City, but I wanted it all. And so I sought bigger things. And that was when YOUR LITTLE FRIEND started interfering with me!”

    “Yes, SHE-DOG! I despise her with every single fiber of my being! Not the least because she has found a way to foil all my plans for world domination- SO FAR! I build rockets and satellites to send my image across the universe, and she destroys them! I send my robots into town to do their jobs, and she breaks them apart! Even when I tried to dominate the world through my illegal ring of telemarketers, she found my East Indian base of operations and CRUSHED IT FLAT!”

   “I wanted her-dead or alive! I wanted to mount her head in my trophy room and use her pelt for my winter coat! But nothing worked. I hired assassins and the bullets bounced off her body. My rockets and grenades wouldn’t touch her. My vehicles ran her over in the street, and she emerged WITHOUT A SCRATCH!”

  “Then I decided I was going about this all wrong. She has a brain like I have, is that not correct? An inferior brain, but still a brain. And brains are vulnerable to manipulation of the psychological kind. I needed to find her Achilles heel and use it against her. I knew her physical weakness; I’d tried that before and it backfired in a way I would rather not go into. And that was where you came in. Once I discovered you had become her sidekick, I knew what I had to do. I will use you to destroy her- and then, after that, for my own ends! And you can probably guess what those are!”

    He could. She had the old ball and chain look in her eyes whenever she looked at him. He could feel it. And being still a young boy, he was definitely uncomfortable with it. So it was with determination that he attempted to break her physical and mental hold on him.

   “I don’t play that game, lady!” he growled at her. “Besides, She-Dog will be around to rescue me tout de suite. And she doesn’t play around.”

   The warmth was gone from her eyes.

  “Neither do I, boy!” she stormed.

  Before he could move another step, she had tightly grasped him around his throat with all her strength. And she meant business.

 “The game which you will play, sir, is MINE!” she snarled viciously. “And you shall see to it that it is played by MY RULES! Otherwise you shall see me throw an exquisitely choreographed tantrum where my face will turn various shades of fuscia, burgundy and chartreuse as I experience paroxysms of hot blood! And you will NOT want to know what I will do with you after that! IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?”

   Dropped on the ground, Billy cowered. It was the only thing he could do, confronted by such a maelstrom of fury. 

 “Yes, ma’am!” he said meekly.

“Good!” answered Bark, placidity restored. “And as for She-Dog, she knows what is good for her and, if she values you, she will fall right into my trap!”

  Laughing once again, she exited from the room, leaving Billy still in a position of submission.

                                                     *

As soon as Meredith had achieved consciousness once again, there was only one thing that was on her mind- finding Billy.                                                                                  She knew that type of robot from previous struggles with Baby Bark and her regime and, knowing also of the fiend’s cunning, diabolical mind and megalomaniacal ambitions, she could only imagine what the monster planned to do to Billy- and to her. But that latter aspect held no concern for her at that moment. Billy was in trouble, a prisoner of a monstrous villain, and only she could rescue him!

       To avoid suspicion, she decided to sneak into the mansion as herself. So she walked, on foot, the twenty miles out of town towards Wunderkind, dodging and sidestepping- and cursing- other pedestrians, cars and bicyclists along the way. In her non super heroic form, she was weaker and more easily tired, however, and so it took her longer than she expected, but eventually she got there.

      Just when she was going to give up and go back, to take on her super heroic identity, she found the signpost marking the entrance of Wunderkind, with the family crest the arrogant Bark had taken out for herself, to indicate that she had “arrived” to the world. Meredith made her disgust of Bark’s airs clear by expectorating directly onto the crest with a ball of warm spit.

     She was immediately surrounded, a surprisingly common occurrence for this female dog of action. Just like Gidget, who led the group, they were robot dogs, capable of destroying any and all. Three of them were like Gidget herself, equipped with all of the technology and science at the command of their master. Then there were two others: one with long legs like a greyhound and lasers in its eyes, and another, shaped like a bulldog, only with even more muscles in its tightly built body. That one should have been playing on the defensive line of the Detroit Lions.

      Meredith wasn’t scared of them, though, and she let them know that right away.

      “You tin pans better get out of my way!” she warned them. “I’ve gotta save my Billy!”

      They had no intention of moving a single inch to allow her to perform her intended goal. The four small ones took the advantage first. They surrounded Meredith, kicked her, bit her and knocked her on the ground. She tried to fight back, but the odds were against her. Even with her skill and resources as a fighter, she could not cope with this overwhelming attack. Finally, managing to shake them free, she took shelter in a nearby bush.

      “Obviously, these tea kettles are more than a match for me!” she said to herself. “But I’ve still got my ace in the hole!”

     So saying, she removed the outer white pelt of her skin, detachable for such occasions, and took on the appearance and personality of Cantaloupe City’s one and only crusader against evil in all of its forms.

   “This is a job for SHE-DOG!” she roared as she flew out of the bush and growled a lusty battle cry to her antagonists.

    “Okay, girls!” She-Dog snapped with a combative grunt and a vicious gleam in her eyes. “Get ready for a real fight!”

     The four normal sized dogs surrounded her once again, but this time the titan of goodness was prepared. Getting on her super muscular hind legs, She-Dog caught one of the regular robots in an iron, unbreakable grip with one forepaw while delivering a powerful punch which shattered its jaw. It fell to the ground and exploded. Another one came forward, but she placed a tight grip on its neck and with a vigorous thrust of power ripped its head from its body. Another explosion. A third one tried taking her from behind and did succeed in knocking her off her feet, but the wily She-Dog quickly reversed the situation by grabbing its torso, picking it up in one paw and throwing it down to the ground. Once again there was an explosion. Gidget, seeing she had no chance against this vicious beast, turned tail and fled for the safety of her mistress’ house.

       That was not the case with the remaining two. The greyhound got in the game by blasting She-Dog with her laser. At first, She-Dog was able to deflect the laser off of her powerful chest, but as the laser continued its burning path, She-Dog temporarily weakened and fell. The bulldog stepped in at that point, and brought one of its legs around the hero’s neck, intending to squeeze her to death. No such luck. She-Dog found herself, and her strength returned with a vengeance. With sadistic glee, she broke each of the bulldog’s legs and blinded the greyhound. Both exploded, and Baby Bark’s defense perimeter had been broken. That being done, She-Dog headed for the house- and an eventual confrontation.

      She was being observed, of course. Within the house, Baby Bark watched her progress on a closed circuit TV monitor she always kept operating to ensure her security and safety.

      “Perfect!” she said, mostly to herself, but also to Billy, in the back of the room. “She is falling right into my trap! True, I had to lose some of my best robots to get her here, but still, another victory for me!”

    She-Dog entered the house from the back and charged with the full force of her strength towards the scent of Billy and Bark, which had entered her nostrils as soon as she entered despite their being halfway across the large building. There were many obstacles Bark had installed in the house to intimidate anyone who sought to halt her. So there was a trap door here, a falling ax there, paintings with moving eyes to the north, and vicious head hunters within the walls to the west. But to She-Dog, these were only so many irritants. She easily avoided and clouted those who tried to stop her with her mighty muscles. She gave no thoughts to these obstacles; her heart was set on foiling Baby Bark’s latest scheme, no matter what it was. And getting her Billy back.

      Soon she had found the room where they were and broke down the door. In the doorway, she seemed a giant, especially compared to Bark. But the little villain had no intentions of giving an inch to the super hero- or, as she preferred to think of her, the muscle bound monstrosity.

      “She-Dog!” Baby Bark uttered, with her now familiar faked warmth. “So nice of you to come to visit!”

     “Don’t play around with me, Bark!” roared She-Dog. “You better give me my boy or there’s gonna be consequences!”

       Bark was unperturbed. Even though she knew She-Dog would never understand it, she tried to speak intelligently to her.

      “Must you always take a violent response to things, you muscle bound DOLT?” she snapped at her. “Have you never heard of conflict resolution?”

       “Quit stalling!” the hero ordered.

       Walking forward, almost into the lion’s mouth, Baby Bark puffed on her cigarette and blew smoke into her opponent’s face. She-Dog reacted with a debilitating cough.

        “Do not take that tone with me, Madam!” Bark said icily, with condescending feeling. “I am not one of your lackeys responding to your every whim (here she pointed to Billy.) I am my own pup and will be treated as such!”

        “Hey!” Billy uttered, not liking being referred to as a “lackey”. But Bark cut him off.

         “YOU KEEP OUT OF THIS!” she snarled at him, and he whimpered back to where he had come from. Then, icily, she turned her attention back to She-Dog.

         “Rest assured, your William will be returned to you within the hour,” Bark said tartly. “But first, you will do me a favor.”

      “What do you think I am, an idiot?” said She-Dog, not taken in. “I’m not gonna do anything for you!”

      A moment of glowering from Bark was followed by the villain whipping out a can of a substance that she knew would allow her to gain the upper hand in her fight with She-Dog. She-Dog knew it too, and her body suddenly began to tremble. Only this, and a few other things, could make her so full of fear.

   “No!” she said with a frightened tone in her voice. “No!”

    “Yes!” said Bark, with a devilish grin on her face. “Mace- the substance which- albeit temporarily- can turn you from the muscle bound oaf you pretend to be into the spineless worm you really are! And you had better cooperate if you do not want your William to see the transformation!”

   “I won’t cooperate with you, Bark!” She-Dog answered with determination. “YOU’RE MAD!”       

   She stalked towards the villain, intending to finish her off once and for all. But Baby Bark was prepared. She aimed the nozzle of the spray can at her foe and pushed down hard on the can’s head. Abruptly, the air was filled with a peppery mist that enveloped She-Dog. Clutching her throat as the spray entered it, she fell to the ground. Billy, suddenly revived, rushed to the aid of his friend and protector. But she was already out cold.

     “You jerk!” he shouted at Bark, almost on the verge of tears. “You killed her!”

      “Not killed, William!” Bark corrected him, very precisely, as always. “Temporarily immobilized! Her powers and her consciousness will return to her in an hour, as they always do. After which, I will harness them for my own personal project.”

       “Not if I can help it!” Billy answered.

        He had hoped to overpower her and stop her in her tracks. But he never got as far as her body. Bark saw what he was doing, and the air was soon filled with the same peppery fragrance as Billy joined She-Dog on the ground.

                                                           *

         It was several hours before Billy and She-Dog both recovered their senses. The scene now shifts to Baby Bark’s laboratory, located in another section of the catacomb filled basement. And both of them now found themselves prisoners of the foul fiend. Billy was chained like a medieval prisoner to a far wall facing the north, his neck and paws clamped firmly in place by odious steel manacles. She-Dog, meanwhile, had her limbs and neck similarly bound to an operating table, her powerful body suddenly helpless. Even with her strength fully intact, there seemed to be no means of escape. The brace on her neck was connected through cables to yet another one of Bark’s metal monsters, on the operating table next to her, nearly as big and seemingly as powerful as She-Dog herself but as yet inactive.

     The room was dark at first, but then the lights came on and Bark entered the room, to do heaven knows what to them.

      “Ah!” she said with fake geniality. “I see that you are well rested!”

     “What do you want with us, Bark?” She-Dog demanded sharply.

        Bark walked towards her prostrate foe and condescendingly patted the hero’s stomach as she spoke of her plans.

       “It could not be any simpler, Dog!” she said. “I intend to use my muscular transfer machine to take a generous percentage of your super powers and transfer them to Bruno here. (She paused to indicate the robot.) He will promptly break into some nearby financial transaction center and remove its monetary content, providing a replenishment of my slightly depleted bank account. And since Bruno will possess a significant portion of your powers, you will be unable to defeat him. This will render you incompetent and will allow me to have Cantaloupe City in my pocket. Afterwords, of course, will come the WORLD!”

      There was that laugh again, and all it stood for. Already, Billy had come to hate it. Despite his confinement, he tried desperately to stop it, but to no avail.

    “Shut up, you arrogant jerk!” he spat at Bark, before his manacles returned him to the position of a prisoner.      

    Inspired by her sidekick’s show of bravery, She-Dog tried again to rise from the table valiantly, but the chains that held her, in spite of her titanic strength, would not give an inch.

    “As soon as I get outta here…” she said with passionate anger.

      Bark, now standing in front of the controls of her machine, cut her off.

     “You cannot escape from those chains until I release you!” she said curtly. “I had the forethought to make the chains binding you from genuine Gary, Indiana steel which, as you well know, She-Dog, is the only type of metal you are unable to penetrate!”

      This was a fact known to few, not even Billy. Naturally, She-Dog was stunned to hear Bark announce it.

      “How did you know that?” she demanded.

      “My dear girl!” said Baby Bark, smugly. “I know everything!”

      “Everything as in…?” She-Dog pressed  

      “Everything, period!” was the answer. “Especially when it comes to you and your activities, She-Dog! So do not even think of trying one of your patented super hero double crosses on me, because I will see right through it!”

      Bark walked towards She-Dog, and moved her paw up and down for a moment as She-Dog’s eyes followed it. Then she climaxed this by giving the hero a vicious slap on her nose.

      “Enough of this stalling!” said Bark, walking back to the machine. “Let us get to it!”

      Bark started the machine by pushing a cleverly labeled button with “start” on it. Many sounds emanated and many lights flashed. Slowly, She-Dog felt the strength leaving her body and entering into that of Bruno the robot. At the most intense moments, she uttered a piercing, agonizing scream of pain as her new status as a mere mortal was starting to become more evident by the minute. Bruno, meanwhile, busted his chains, disconnected himself from the machine, and flew politely towards his mistress. She-Dog could not lift a paw to stop him, as her own pain was starting to immobilize her.

    Bark prepared to leave, but she could not resist getting in one final dig at her nemesis.

      “While you recover, Dog, Bruno and I are off to recoup my fortune! Goodbye!”

      She-Dog attempted to free herself again, but by this time it was hopeless for her. Bark could only laugh at her with her evil laugh as she and Bruno prepared to make their departure.

     Billy, however, was forgotten by her. That was her mistake. Finally, tired of being ignored, he found the strength to break free of the manacles and ran in front of them to block their path.

    “Nobody’s going ANYWHERE!” he shouted with determination.

    “Nobody “is” going anywhere, dear.” Bark answered condescendingly. “Remember your grammar!”

    “SHUT UP!” Billy snapped. He had had enough of her. But she had had enough of him, too.

   “HOW DARE YOU DEFY ME!” she roared.

    This started a chain of events that reversed the good fortune of Bark. She grabbed Billy’s paws and spun him around. In the process, he crashed into the control panel of the muscular transfer machine and his body landed on the button cleverly marked “reverse”. Bruno, a slave to the machine’s rays despite his newfound empowerment, was drawn back to the machine by powerful magnetic suction. The power he had drained from She-Dog was rapidly returned to her. This proved too much for his delicate circuitry. When the draining process ended, Bruno’s iron corpse lumbered forward and crashed into the control panel, destroying the machine. The explosive blast from this landed him directly on top of She-Dog, who did not appreciate this chain of events very much, except that Bruno busted apart her Gary, Indiana steel chains with his bulk.

    “Get off me, ya jerk!” she ordered.

       With her strength restored, it was no problem for her to kick him halfway across the room into the land of inoperability.

       Bark was furious, and was barely holding it together at this severe desecration of her work.

       “I have been told that I have a bad temper…” she said to She-Dog, “…and I am doing my best to control it, BUT YOU ARE MAKING IT DIFFICULT!”

       To She-Dog, that was a challenge.

       “I am, am I?” she said. “Well, let’s just make it a little more like that!”

       She slapped Bark hard on the bottom with her paw. Then she did it again. And again. And again. And again.

       “You’re a bad girl and you shouldn’t…” She-Dog began to say between the slaps.

      Bark got her own back by slapping She-Dog’s arm (she winced in pain) and growling fiercely at her.

      “DO NOT PATRONIZE ME!” she roared. “I will capture you if it is the last thing that I do!”

      A whistle was fished out of her pocket. She blew it, but no sound came out. Bark’s robots, as noted before, were based on the primordial human slaves who were the ancestors of the modern, progressive canines of this world, and that included the old bromide about being able to hear things beyond the capacity of the human auditory canal. So naturally, once that sound was admitted, what was left of Bark’s robot staff entered the room post haste. They were, after all, only quartered in the next room.

     “GET HER!” ordered Bark, meaning She-Dog.

    She-Dog retrieved Billy from the wreck of the machine. Together, they faced Bark and her minions.

  “You ready to deal with them?” She-Dog asked Billy.

  “You deal with the ‘bots!” Billy said. “I can handle her royal highness!”

  And so a fierce battle ensued, made almost totally invisible by a billowing cloud of dust that spread roughly through the room as the battle intensified. Actually, it wasn’t much of a battle. She-Dog took care of the robots easily, splintering their metal bodies and sending their mechanical insides sprawling across the room. As for Billy, he tried to capture Baby Bark, but the tiny titan was too much for him, and she literally slipped through his paws. It did not matter anyhow. She was defeated, and she knew it.

  As the dust cleared, Billy and She-Dog had won the day, celebrating with one of their now patented “low” high fives. Bark, anguished at her defeat, was livid at the pair, and let herself be known once again.

  “How is this possible?” she shouted as she banged her paw on the floor. “I, the greatest mind of my generation and an unquestioned genius, beaten by a muscle bound fool and her baby faced sidekick! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?”

   “You’re the genius!” She-Dog said snidely. “You figure it out!”

   She and Billy laughed at this little jape. They prepared to leave but Bark blocked their path, determined to have the last word.

 “This will not be our final encounter, Dog!” she warned with sinister intent. “I assure you that I will be continually plotting so that I may come up with a diabolical means of ending your career! And it will be a trap from which YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE!”

     The laugh came out again, but in defeat, it did not have the threat behind it that it had had only a few hours before. Now it seemed a sham, a fraud, a pretend boast. Not unlike Baby Bark herself.

    Though she did not know this, and never would, She-Dog and Billy did. Which is why they now felt free to disrespect her. Billy pulled her out of the doorway and into She-Dog’s paws.

   “Like heck I won’t!” said She-Dog, rolling her eyes and throwing her foe roughly onto the ground.

  She-Dog and Billy strolled out of the building, laughing calmly in victory. And, like Gargamel in so many episodes of The Smurfs, Baby Bark was left behind, to curse her rotten luck and plot yet another scheme for revenge against her seemingly invulnerable nemesis.    

This story originally appeared in Under A Dark Sign (2017).


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David Perlmutter

David Perlmutter writes history, criticism and speculative fiction when he can find the time to do so.