From the author: A superhero origin story, with a difference....
SHE-DOG 6,330 words
by David Perlmutter
Life had never been easy for Meredith Samoyed, and she had every reason to think that it would not get any easier.
As she had constantly explained to anyone who feigned interest in her, Meredith was not one who subscribed easily to theories and thoughts of optimism. This was ironic since, in the guise she was soon to assume, she would give them to millions like herself. That, however, was for the future; for the present, we will concern ourself with her history.
Meredith was born, uneventfully, in Cantaloupe City in the fateful year of 2075. It was to be fateful for a number of other reasons as well. The notorious warfare between the realms of fantasy and reality had accomplished the aim of legally establishing the humanity assumed by animals and other fantasy creatures in the middle of the 21st century. These creatures were promptly given citizenship in their native lands and all the rights and responsibilities concurrent with this. This was, as would be expected, a gradual process; pet owners were reluctant to relinquish their beloved companions, and pet shop owners their stock, for obvious reasons. The “pet” trade continued, as a result, without restraint, despite the outcry it raised among the “free” dogs. As a result, it would take some time before full unencumbered citizenship was granted to the canine race, and this came about only due to vigilant- and violent- actions taken by the canines to secure their freedom. The pockets of resistance endured, however, though they were increasingly driven off into the shadows as their views became increasingly unpopular. The exceptions to this rule were a small group who inexplicably
continued to hold positions of influence by which they could attempt to repress the idealistic aims of the fantasy world. Their influence would soon grow in political circles, but, again, this is for the future.
Meredith’s path to greatness was initially unassuming. The youngest and smallest of eight pups born to Molly Samoyed, young Meredith was forced to assume the burden of the “runt”, the least wanted and most ignored member of the family. She was expected to be the one who “did” everything for everyone else, and could not count on the support of her mother, who barely acknowledged her existence at the best of times.
It was fortunate for her, as a result, that the Great Tornado of 2076 struck Cantaloupe City with as much force as it did. With her unusually small stature and lithe build, the result of being denied nourishment and comfort for too many nights, Meredith was easy prey for the whipping fury of the mighty winds, and they wisked her away from the suburbs to Cantaloupe City proper. Her mother and siblings,
having cared little for her in the first place, did not notice her absence.
The hands of fate, and the prevailing winds, being what they were, Meredith found herself deposited on the doorstep of the local pet shop owner, who promptly claimed her as part of his stock. This should have come as a relief to Meredith; finally, some attention! This, however, was not to be.
There were four other pups in the display window, all females like herself: a greyhound, a Great Dane, a malnourished Dalmatian, and a pink-furred mulligan of indeterminate origin. The newcomer was examined thoroughly and ultimately decided to be unworthy. This was displayed to Meredith by their favorite means of “playing” with her. Typically, the greyhound, the tallest on her hind legs, would attempt to gain Meredith’s confidence and trick her into joining her for play. It was not long before Meredith found herself trapped by the lithe, weak looking but cunning and powerful little creature, who locked an iron grip on Meredith’s snow-white body. At this point the others would promptly beat the stuffing out of her. Occasionally, the Dane would take over to allow the greyhound to get some knocks in, but the pattern essentially repeated itself for the extent of Meredith’s stay. What fun they had! At least, the others did.
After a couple of days of this, Meredith resolved to escape the first chance she got, for she reasoned correctly that no well-meaning girl like her could survive surrounded by those “thugs”. A chance to escape came almost as serendipitously as the means by which she arrived. The ever-absent minded pet shop owner constantly left himself open to burglary by leaving his back door open before leaving for home. After her nightly beating, Meredith finally noticed this occurrence. She mentally kicked herself for not having noticed this. Just go ahead and jump out now, dummy, said the voice in her head. They’ll never notice you, just like always.
And they didn’t. Meredith was on her own, for now. Her former tormentors, of course, remained where they were, but they’d re-enter her life, at intervals, soon enough.
This, though, would be after the asteroid.
No one knew what it was or where it came from; most only saw it in the sky and were glad they were out of its path. No one, especially on that infamous evening, had any idea of what was in store for them in the future, especially not Meredith herself.
It happened, according to the newspaper accounts from the following day, at approximately 10:30 PM CST. A harsh wind from the Arctic, it was said, had diverted the trajectory of the massive, spherical shaped asteroid from its original destination of the frozen North to a slightly more Southern embarkation, that of Boring Park in the centre of downtown Cantaloupe City and, more precisely, the fur-bearing hide of Meredith Samoyed.
Meredith had spent an hour or so dragging herself across town from the northwest location of the pet shop to the central location of Boring Park. This was perhaps the most pleasant and pastoral of the many green spaces in Cantaloupe City, made even more so by the inland Lake Boring, whose shoreline formed the circumference of the park to which it gave its name. In the daytime, it was a favorite gathering spot for human and animal residents alike, but at night, these denizens tended to take on a more unsavory character.
These were the people in attendance, and it was these people who scattered as the asteroid dropped from the sky towards the park. Meredith, however, did not notice the commotion, only giving a vulgar signal to those whom she perceived only as disrupting her sleep. Then it happened.
It hit her with the force of an atomic bomb. Automatically, a great rush of cosmic energy poured through her small body. There were eons of propulsive radiation in that space rock, and it found a convenient host in our heroine. As Meredith was neither elderly nor out of adolescence at this point in her life , the asteroid caused none of the physical decay and damage it would have in an older being, and it promptly invested her with all the energy at its command. She sensed this immediately.
The asteroid cooled itself, and the small Samoyed proceeded to lift it free of herself, expecting that only the most Herculean of efforts would suffice. To her surprise, it was lifted and tossed away with minimal effort, and thrown back from whence it came!
Meredith was astonished, to say the least. Was it she who had achieved that feat previously known only to the modern descendants of Greco-Roman pagan worship, the superheroes who paraded with regularity in the pages of the popular but academically neglected medium of the comic book? Nah, she reasoned. She couldn’t have possibly…
Wait a minute. Hadn’t she just started walking, and suddenly made it to the middle of the road when she had just been in the center of the park, two hundred yards away? Again, thoughts of the gods came to her, and she was amazed.
These thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sight of headlights and the honk of a horn. It was that most feared murderer of the canine race, the automobile! Seemingly sentenced to death, and knowing it, Meredith thrust her forepaws out forward in a futile attempt to defend herself. Then came the crash….
She was not dead. The automobile was more dead than she was. It was a white Cadillac, of the specialized “pimp” model, whose grill had been completely dislodged and whose engine components were scattered at intervals around the road. The owner of said vehicle, the “pimp” himself, dressed head to toe in purple, promptly removed himself from the vehicle and gesticulated violently but impotently at Meredith.
“Damn!” he shouted at her “What did you do to my car, man?”
She could only stare blankly and state as well:
“I’d like to know that, too.”
The brush with death and a sudden understanding of the magnitude of her cosmic inheritance shocked Meredith to a degree even greater than her encounter with the asteroid itself. How could she possibly live a normal life with such abnormal abilities? She was a freak!
Serendipity struck yet again. This time, it was in the form of a yellow bathing suit, one-piece, and made (so the tag on the inside back claimed) of a new, experimental fabric which claimed to be indestructible. It had been dislodged from its perilous position on an apartment clothesline by a combination of a decayed clothespin and the notorious “hawk” winds of Cantaloupe City, subject to abrupt changes in speed and temperature at a moment’s notice. The suit dropped precipitously but ignominiously upon our heroine’s nose.
She was struck with an extravagant but realistic brainstorm. What was it that creatures of her altruistic good nature who possessed her remarkable abilities typically did with them? Why, they became superheroes, of course!
“This is what I can do with my life!” she declared loudly to all in earshot, although nobody was particularly listening. “I’ll become the greatest superhero ever known! Felons will fear my name! The general public will adore me! No more will I be regarded as “that little runt”! I will be the mightiest dog in Cantaloupe City…maybe even the world! I will be SHE-DOG!”
The cocksure ebullience of this moment was, however, firmly and prematurely halted when a garbage can, precipitously placed in a teetering space above the body of Meredith, promptly made impact upon that all-white surface.
“Of course, I’ll have to put some weight on first!” the would-be hero quickly added, with a much more characteristic modesty.
The free dogs of Cantaloupe City, around this time, had firmly entrenched themselves into a ghetto area appropriately known as Caninetown. It comprised the majority of the city’s dog population in part because most of them could not afford to live elsewhere. They had no desire or need to work because their internal system of bartering bones, water, kibble and other foodstuffs made sure that they were all supplied and fed and no one was allowed to starve. Those who openly sought higher social status were inevitably shunted off to the ghetto, albeit to “higher” areas within. These canines greatly distrusted and feared the “lower” orders, especially those “scary and threatening” mongrels and mutts, who were thought to be “polluting our blood”, though, in this war of words, the mongrels and mutts could always give as well as they got. The neighborhood covered an area of twenty four city blocks in the southwest corner of the city, and despite the spacious accoutrements of the parks and other areas surrounding the minutely constructed and often ornate doghouses that outlined the streets, it still had the taint of vice and criminality solely because of the nature of its residents. The municipal government may have, in accordance with the amendments created in the aftermath of the Fantasy/Reality Wars, provided for theoretical equality to these oh so human canines, but it tended to turn a blind eye to the day-to-day activities of its citizens. As a result, crime, corruption and vice ran rampant, and the community was torn in a Marxian fission over who was truly responsible for the state of affairs.
It was within the midst of this frenzy that Meredith Samoyed came to Caninetown to lay claim to 207 Hot Pants Road, a spacious, above-ground doghouse with plenty of room beneath the ground, dug out in an attempt at expansion by previous tenants. Her arrival was unnoticed, as the appearance of an undersized youth is bound to be among larger dogs. They’d hear plenty from her later, though.
Meredith spent the early part of her days in 2076 sequestered away in her new domicile, exercising and training to convert her body into one more properly fit for battling deviance and injustice. The natural stages of physical maturity helped this process, but could not necessarily account for the development of heightened powers that were also part of her legacy from the asteroid. She was capable, now, of seeing through any surface, regardless of how impenetrable it appeared to be. Her body was invulnerable to any weapon, though her nose, covered by her paws in the radiation process, remained in its vulnerable state and could render her weak if injured. Naturally, she guarded against this. Her hearing also improved, to the point that she could hear events as they occurred all over the city with astonishing clarity. Likewise, the powers of endurance endowed to her by her sled-dog ancestors had been enhanced to give her both the hide and the tenacity of a rhinoceros, making her a formidable competitor in a fight (though few dared challenge her, not surprisingly). While no genius, she also had a wide range of mental powers- ESP, clairvoyance, telepathy and a weird sort of “second sight” that allowed her to directly interface with a wide variety of paranormal menaces. Yet she risked her life and career if she was ever exposed to that deadly spray of pepper, mace, which she found out after attempting to assault her human mail carrier. After lying in a catatonic state for nearly ninety minutes, she regained her abilities, but was determined not to be as reckless in the future.
Finally, as the winter snow melted, she emerged, proudly bearing the initials “S.D.” in a solid black scrip across her chest. She-Dog had arrived!
It was little things at first: petty thievery, thwarted rape attempts, international espionage, and the like. But she longed for a greater challenge, and found it when a gang of Dobermans moved into the neighborhood. Preying on the social dissatisfaction of the young puppies, they employed them as “runners” for a toxic substance disguised as water that was supposedly “cure” its users of whatever ailment was bothering them. It only proceeded to make them sicker, often unto death, to the point that, “by a stroke of luck”, the Dobermans would arrive to divest the victims of the contents of their doghouses.
This disgusted Meredith to no end, and she vowed to end this tyranny as soon as she was able. As it turned out, the tyrants came to her first. While exercising in her yard one day, in the black shorts and bra she favored for such occasions, the slickly suited Doberman don and his two heavily muscled bodyguards came to her side. Meredith first took notice when a long-bladed knife, courtesy of the don, protruded into her neck.
“Whatcha want?” she asked, with a mixture of childish innocence and mature confidence.
“You.” he said firmly and flatly.
She realized who they were from her nightly patrols as She-Dog. They had her trapped, but not for long.
“You mean-…” she asked again.
“Yeah.” he replied, knowing full well what she meant and leering to emphasize the point.
“I’m not getting out of this, am I?” she asked.
“Nope.” Firm again, on his part.
“Okay,” she said, getting up. “I just have to put on something more comfortable.”
She disappeared for a moment, and re-emerged in her full power as the mighty She-Dog. Applying her full arsenal of punches, kicks and tackles, she quickly had the thugs on the run. Even the don, for all his charm and strength, was no match for her, and she let him know it.
“THIS is for undressing me with your eyes, jackass!” she bellowed, as she aimed an accurate and forceful kick at his genitals, which rendered him as immobile as it is possible for a Doberman male to be.
Having outclassed her opponents in speed, endurance and strength, the attractive but dangerous creature set forth her demands. The Dobermans were to depart from the neighborhood immediately and suspend their criminal activities at once. Furthermore, they were to apologize to all they had wronged and misused, especially those helpless puppies, and return all goods they stole. This they agreed to, without hesitation.
“Just one thing…” the don said. “Who are you?”
Slamming him against a fence post, she explained.
“I’m SHE-DOG!” she declared “And the only thing you need to know about me is that I’m the worst nightmare of all the hoodlums and villains in the world like you. I stand for freedom, justice and equality, and I won’t rest until these are universal, all over the world! I know who you all are, and what you do, so you better not mess with me unless you want to see the inside of a tomb before your time! Dig?”
“Dig,” he replied.
Needless to say, that particular gang of Dobermans was heard from no more in Caninetown.
Robert Israel Galston had been a professional policeman for thirty years in Cantaloupe City, and had only recently ascended to the position of Commissioner of the city’s finest. His reputation was entirely one of justice and fair play, and despite prolonged exposure to the ugly side of life he had never succumbed to its temptations. His appointment to the position offered a gleam of hope to the human, animal and otherwise residents of Cantaloupe City that a “new broom” would “sweep clean” the criminal element. For no one had ever accused Robert Galston of doing a half-baked job on anything he set his mind to doing.
For this reason, his attention was immediately attracted one morning when he noticed the cover story on She-Dog in the Defender, the neighborhood flyer of Caninetown, which for professional reasons he frequently perused. Already, She-Dog’s reputation, exaggerated as it was, was beginning to precede her. The image of a muscle-bound heroine beating out her own brand of retributive justice was something that immediately appealed to him. Other cities had their defenders and protectors against things no mortal could handle: why not his?
“I think we need somebody like her.” he declared in his characteristically understated manner to his aides. It was, in retrospect, the greatest decision he would ever make.
Thus it was that one evening as she flew in the air, another of her asteroid-granted abilities, She-Dog noticed that she was being followed by a police car being driven by a middle-aged man in a grey suit and brown overcoat, black patent leather shoes, black hair with the occasional fleck of silver, and large, almost Coke-bottle lensed glasses- the appearance the commissioner generally favored. He just would not leave her alone. Finally, she descended to the ground and, with a gesture he was intimately familiar with, commanded him to stop.
“Okay, pal…” she declared in her typically hard-bitten way as he opened his car door “…what do you want?”
Galston got out. As a human, he naturally was bigger than she was, but her musculature and confidence made her the more dominant figure. Still, he held his ground in his typically mild-mannered way.
“Don’t become alarmed,” he said, displaying his badge. “I’m Robert Galston, Commissioner of Police in Cantaloupe City. I want to offer you a job.”
She was still suspicious.
“What kind of ‘job’ do you mean?” she asked archly.
“Well…” he explained “…there are a lot of strange things that go on around here. It seems like we’re the main dumping ground for all of the overpowering giant menaces and creepy mad scientists in the tri-city area. They produce the kind of problems that ordinary police officers like me can’t get a handle on. But I imagine that you, as a superhero, would be able to handle stuff like that.”
“I imagine I could!” she replied with some cheek, at once awed by and contemptuous of him.
“All I’m asking” he continued, “is if you would want to work with us on the force on those things.”
She needed no contemplation to come up with a response and promptly fired it back, paws firmly on hips.
“Listen, Bobby”, she said in the crisp voice she used to dispatch criminals, “I’m not one of those brownnosing dog cops who never disobey the rules. I operate on my own terms! I don’t ride on anybody else’s coattails! If we happen to decide to get involved with each other, your involvement will be limited to telling me what’s going on when it’s going down and letting me take care of the situation by myself! I don’t need your reinforcement ‘cause I’m a one-dog police force right here!”
He was both intimidated and impressed. Despite her being a canine, he sensed an ethical and moral sense in her much like his own. That had potential, he thought.
“You have a good point,” he answered. “I think your way of doing it is actually a bit better. It’d give you more latitude in dealing with the problems that may occur, and it’d give me a bit of a rest. This is my third one this week!” At that last sentence he pulled out a half-consumed bottle of Pepto-Bismol, a consequence of the little stresses that added up on the job.
She-Dog was astonished, though she hid it well. As Meredith, she’d suffered from a fair verbal beating from misunderstanding humans, who had perennially mistaken needs for wants and treated her as such. But here, here was a human being who actually wanted to help her. Granted, they were kind of doing the same job anyway, and she needed all the help she could get. So she quickly began looking upon him as a friend.
“Sure, Bob!” she replied, with sincere friendliness. “I understand. And I’m gonna make sure that I do my best to keep this city safe from whatever peril may lurk here-within or without! And I hope we’ll get to know each other better, too.”
She shook his hand with her paw. It was a strong grip for a dog, and he felt it. But on his face was a look of astonishment. A dog had never openly offered him friendship, despite and because of his position. He was more used to hearing how his officers engaged in gun-, fist-, and profanity fights with the rest of Caninetown, and negotiations with civic leaders in the area had always been frosty even at the best of times. But this? This was new and promising.
“You mean it?” he said, with a voice set to stunned.
“Yeah.” she replied, relieved he understood. “I never really had many friends. I could always use someone to talk with.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” he said, returning to his car. I’ve got to go now, but I’ll let you know if something’s ‘going down’”. He used the lame but effective “air quotation” device with his fingers to make his last point, making her laugh in her distinctive way.
“Okay, Bob.” she said. “See you later.”
“So long, She-Dog!” he replied.
And they drifted apart: he driving, she flying.
As a result of this personal arrangement with the Cantaloupe City police force, She-Dog expanded her beat to include all of Cantaloupe City and its surroundings municipal area. In the next few months, she gained the trust and respect of virtually everyone in town as she clobbered a variety of evil-minded canines, defeated primordial monstrosities, and escaped the snares of the few human villains foolish enough to tangle with her. Yet despite this success, there was a certain feeling of loneliness in her heart. At the heart of it, despite her developing friendship with the Commissioner, she was lonely and devoid of companionship. But this was destined to change.
The evening of May 24, 2076 has gone down in infamy for the fact that a large number of old buildings in the civic center went up in smoke at roughly the same time. It was true that the civic fathers had allowed them to decay to the point that fire seemed inevitable, but it was clearly established soon after the demise of one blaze that an arsonist was responsible. Whoever it was had to be caught, the police reasoned, and caught fast.
In any event, it was on this date that She-Dog gained an incalculably valuable asset to her in her fight for justice, one that would offer her companionship and affection and also help tame the more brutish aspects of her nature. It began inauspiciously as She-Dog blew out the flames of one of the arsonist’s blazes with her mighty breath. At the conclusion of her work, with the building firmly burnt to a crisp, she was astonished to hear the howling of a young boy dog, who had somehow miraculously managed to survive the blaze. Tracking the howl to its source, she discovered the young pup, whose name was Billy Mutt, trapped under an enormous wooden beam whose bulk was pinning him to the ground.
At the sight of the mighty heroine, the boy’s mood immediately changed.
“Wow! She-Dog!” he said, with undeniable hero-worship in his voice. “I’m saved!”
“Hello there, little man!” she returned, in the condescending manner with which she was used to dealing with her juniors. “Are you trapped under that wood?”
The young dog revealed traces of sarcasm and cynicism already apparent in his young life as he replied:
“Gee, you think? No, I’m using it to give myself a massage! WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE, LADY?”
“Boy, have you got an attitude!” she answered. He was expecting her to give him a hypocritical heavy-handed lecture on good manners, but this was not forthcoming. Instead, she immediately replied with endearment and reassurance: “I like that.”
With her enormous strength, she easily lifted the beam up off him and tossed it away. He got up and embraced her, happy to be free. Yet this was short-lived, as the magnitude of what he had lost came to his mind, and he began howling again. She-Dog immediately felt empathy for him, for he was as alone and powerless as she had once been, and she was determined he not suffer the same tribulations as she had. For this reason, she immediately put her paw on his shoulder and asked what the problem was.
“I haven’t got anybody to love me anymore!” he bawled.
He elaborated on this further. When his mother had become pregnant with him and his siblings, she had been rudely ejected from her family home simply because she had fallen victim to love. She had taken shelter in the building that had once been around them and, when Billy and his siblings were born, she fought tooth and nail to keep them within it, against all sorts of internal and external forces. Yet her determination could not combat the fiery blaze that consumed them only hours before.
“The beam came down and fell on us as we huddled together.” Billy continued. “I survived because I was in front and it only pinned my butt down. Mom tried to hold it up, but she wasn’t strong enough, and it fell down on top of her…and my siblings…” A fresh wave of tears ensued.
If She-Dog had been concerned for him before, his Dickensian tale of woe ensured her eternal love and support for him.
“Don’t be upset, little guy.” she said, putting a paw around his little body. “You do have somebody who cares about you…”
“Who?” he said.
“Me,” she replied confidently. “I’ve been like that my whole life, and I survived. I made it, and I’ll make sure you do, too.”
“Seriously?” he asked.
“Seriously.” she confirmed. And they touched paws to cement this.
“You aren’t going to make it if I can help it!” a mysterious third voice added.
“Who said that?” She-Dog demanded, assuming a fighting stance. “Come out of there!”
“Oh, come now!” the voice purred. “Surely you remember an old friend.”
She emerged from the shadows. It was her old nemesis from the pet shop, the greyhound, transformed into a muscular and lithe adult with long, serpentine legs, and clad in a black, one-piece suit with “M.H.” stitched on the chest in red, not unlike She-Dog’s own. Immediately, She-Dog recognized her, and she growled with fury.
“YOU-“, she shouted, and lunged at her nemesis, determined to eliminate her once and for all. But the hound was confident- and prepared. As She-Dog’s mighty paw struck out at her person, she jumped with lightning speed out of her path, and in the process kicked She-Dog to the ground, where she landed with a thud. Billy, fearing for his life, took cover to observe the battle from a safe distance.
“Don’t try any of your muscle-bound tricks on me, She-Runt!” the hound arrogantly declared. “Your reign of terror is over. Starting today, Cantaloupe City has a new heroine, and her name is MIGHTY HOUND!”
“I assume that’s you.” She-Dog replied, as she struggled to her feet.
“Of course it’s me, you dolt!” Mighty Hound shot back. “It always should have been me. I come from a long line of upper-class heroic dogs, and we have never let our inferiors handle the heroic deeds. I was destined to be hit by that asteroid; it empowered my ancestors in Egypt and England when it struck them through pre-ordained prophecies. They became mighty heroes and rulers with those powers you stole from me! They never would have let a common cur like you get empowered, and neither will I! It should have been me who got hit by that asteroid; I charted it, and planned it so I could escape to the park and get hit by it, but no! You had to beat me to the door and get thwacked by it yourself!”
“I didn’t mean to get-” She-Dog began.
“Shut up, runt!” Mighty Hound canceled her protest. “So I had to become my own hero to beat you off! I stood with a lightning rod in the next rainstorm that happened by, and I got hit good. Now I’m as strong as you, fast as you, smart as you, and pretty as you, and I intend to become the top super dog around this flea-bitten town! And if it means killing you and that little brat over there, so be it!”
Billy emerged from the shadows. He was not going to let her falsehoods go by unchallenged.
“I know her!” he said to She-Dog. “She’s the one who burned down this place and trapped me here. And she’s probably still got the matches!”
“All right, I did it!” the hound replied, without an inch of sympathy. “And all the other ones, too. A lot of work, but all the better to see you discredited and exiled, She-Monster!”
“You did this?!” She-Dog asked with increasing incredulousness. “You did this because of some vendetta against me, not to mention your own callous and reckless cruelty?”
“That’s about it.” the hound replied. “No need to thank me.”
With renewed fury, She-Dog smashed her opponent against the side of what had once been a wall, grasping her foe’s paws and squeezing them tight as she launched a retributive verbal assault.
“HOW DARE YOU!” she roared, rattling the remaining foundations of the building. “You subjected me to traumatizing torment as a puppy, have the nerve to claim upper-class breeding when you’re no better than I am, and then you burn down property maliciously, just to get my attention! But that’s not the worst thing you did! You deliberately deprived this boy of his family, his source of affection and nurturing, and left him alone and friendless, which he undoubtedly would have stayed if I hadn’t found him! You, lady, are twisted and sick, and if you think you’re qualified to be a hero, you’re even worse than that!”
“Get your paws off me!” the hound shouted.
“Not unless you’re willing to accept the consequences of your actions!” She-Dog growled.
“I SAID LET GO OF ME!” was the reply.
With that, Mighty Hound lived up to her name as she broke the mighty She-Dog’s grip, and they began to fight. She-Dog employed her full arsenal of tricks, but the hound certainly equaled her in speed, if not in strength. The battle raged for over an hour, with neither of the combatants giving in, with Billy able to do nothing but watch and worry.
But then the odds shifted. The hound bared her teeth, and though She-Dog did her best to close the powerful jaws, they bit her paws and jetted towards her throat. Though She-Dog prepared for a counterattack by blocking the hound’s paws with her own, her rival displayed her massive power by punching the white furred titan full in the face. Before She-Dog could recover from this blow, the hound then revealed her ace in the hole, a vial of mace she sprayed in She-Dog’s face. Suddenly, the mighty She-Dog found herself weakening by the second, allowing the hound the emerging freedom to administer the retributive punishment she desired. She responded by punching She-Dog so hard that she flew, not of her own power this time, to the opposite corner, where she crash landed. She-Dog attempted to wrestle Mighty Hound with her remaining strength, but her childhood tormentor had resumed her position of dominance, and the effort she expended became increasingly pointless as she was punched and wrestled down to her knees. The end seemed nigh, and She-Dog seemed to sense this, but this time there seemed to be no salvation for her.
“You’re done for now, She-Witch!” the hound declared as she punched her foe to the ground yet again and leaped on her for another grapple. For a terrifying moment, She-Dog thought she was right as the strength fled from her body and seemingly settled itself into the hound’s. The latter gained increased confidence and a demonic look in her eye as victory appeared evident. Slowly but surely, the all-powerful She-Dog was beaten to the ground by her nemesis, who prepared to rob her of her very life while she could.
At the last moment, however, she was saved. The hound had failed to keep an eye on Billy, who with youthful pluck had determined to save his rescuer from her seemingly cruel fate. He grabbed the mace vial she had discarded after spraying it, bit the hound’s flank, and sprayed her full force with the vial.
“My EYES!” she screamed, as she landed on the ground with a crash.
Rescued from her fate, She-Dog stood above Mighty Hound as she writhed in agony.
“I oughta kill you!” she shouted at the hound. “But that would be against my ethics. So I’ll do the next best thing!”
And with thunderous, renewed strength, she punched the hound so hard that her body flew with astonishing speed out of the charred husk of the building into a freshly made cell in a nearby jail.
She-Dog embraced Billy, even more now that he’d risked his own life to save hers.
“How did you know?” she asked him.
“What do you mean?” he returned.
“That spraying someone who sprayed me with mace cancels the effect on me and gives me back my powers.” she said. “I never would have gotten out of that trap if you hadn’t done that.”
“I follow the news…” he said “…especially when it comes to superheroes…”
“I like your style, kid.” She-Dog said. “What do you think about being my sidekick?”
“You mean accompanying you on your adventures and providing you with companionship and guidance while interjecting the occasional bon mot?” he asked, with breathless anticipation.
“Uh…yeah.” she said, surprised at his precocity. “That’s the extent of it. What do you think about it?”
“I’ll do it!” he answered. “Besides, I already saved you once. You may need me later on.”
“You’re savvy, kid.” said She-Dog. “I think we’re gonna get along just fine. Hop on!”
She gestured to her back, and he jumped on. She howled in triumph, and he quickly joined in.
Meredith, when she returned to the doghouse, was surprised to see little Billy observing the action on her television set.
“Ahem!” she coughed, and Billy turned around. He turned as white as her fur.
“Who the heck are you?” she queried.
“Billy,” he said. “Billy Mutt.”
“Okay, Billy Mutt…” she continued, in an inquisitional fashion, “where did you come from?”
“She-Dog brought me here!” he replied “She said that you-.”
“She did, huh?” said Meredith. “That girl. Always running off and leaving me with her problems!”
Billy panted fearfully for a moment. Was she going to cast him out? Meredith turned away from him for a moment, but then returned with a more sympathetic tone.
“Aw, come on!” she asked. “Don’t you know a joke when you hear it?”
“I’m only a puppy.” he returned. “I don’t know everything.”
“Come here.” she said.
He did so.
“I know all about you.” she continued. “She-Dog told me everything. She said to take care of you while she was out. And you don’t have to be afraid of me. I’ll treat you like you were mine, just like she would, especially after I heard how you saved her life last night. Besides, she’d tear me to pieces if I hurt you. So you can trust me.”
“Thank you.” he said.
“No problem,” came the reply.
And they embraced, for the first but not the last time.
This story originally appeared in Nameless Magazine (2016).