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I woke up at 4 a.m. again, thanks to a certain puppy. She is seeing her first blizzard, and all 9 pounds of her is completely unimpressed. The snow is already as high as she is tall, so trying to tell her to "go do business" is a laughable prospect at best. She just sat on the back porch whimpering for a few minutes before she decided that, come hell or high water, she was coming in through a doggy door that I didn't think she was yet tall enough to get through. I was wrong. She is determined.
The puppy doesn't seem to mind the snow as much today. Yesterday, she hid under the car while I shoveled. I had been trying to convince her that yes, she could in fact pee on the snow and not the carpet. It took a while before she was convinced. Then she saw the older dog bound through the snow drifts and thought that might be fun to try. And try she did, though she didn't get far before she turned back for more level ground. Today's lesson seems to involve Do Not Chew On Guitar Straps and Effects Pedals (Please).
The puppy still thinks that she is starving. Despite three feedings a day, she still makes every effort to steal my dinner and attack the bin where I keep the puppy chow. The thing that gets me is that she *knows* which bin is "hers", and I never even feed her in the kitchen. She's a clever, determined girl who has already shown me that I have a decent sized gap between a fence post and the back of the house that will likely become her favorite escape route once the snow drifts melt away. If they ever go away.
People who say that they are taking cat naps must mean that they intend to sleep by a sunny windowsill for a few hours at a time. The puppy does not do this at all. She sleeps in far shorter intervals before she's wide awake and seeking something to destroy once again. I have given up trying to catch up on sleep the conventional way. I am now sleeping on her schedule: sleep for an hour or two when I can and raise hell for the rest. I just hope I don't take on her Hobbit-sized appetite as well.
The Sandman raised a sandbag slowly above the Chili Thief's head. He could feel its contents drift slowly over him like a thin golden dust. As he fought to keep his eyes open, he thought he heard River cursing, shouting something about her ankle being bitten. He tried to turn his head towards her voice, but he saw nothing but an emerald green lawn with a tacky neon rainbow overhead. He could hear fairies sing their simple songs around his ears, and that made him fight harder to stay awake. He hated fairies. The buggers always pulled on his ears.
Electrical cords. Bedding. Towels. Socks. Feet. Corgi. These are a few of the things that the puppy has tried to chew on today. The last two are her absolute favorite. Never mind the fact that she has several toys to choose from, it's what can yelp and try to wriggle away from those sharp little teeth that she will not stop attacking. I am glad, though, that she gave up fast on the first item on the list. I really wasn't looking forward to having a crispy puppy on a Sunday morning. I just wish she'd like my feet less.
Today was a first for the puppy: she was to be outside all day with the corgi. I was expecting to find she either escaped from the fenced-in yard, stuck while trying to escape, or howling and whining incessantly because her "mom" made her stay outside on a reasonably warm (for February) day. I was pleased to come home and find that she and the corgi had gotten through the day without too much trouble, although she somehow got dried grass and I don't know what else stuck in her fur, and she was opening the back door.
It will be a few hours until the next snowstorm arrives. I would write something sarcastic like "I can't wait," except that would be a lie. I don't want to spend the rest of the week shoveling my driveway, waiting for the county to get around to plowing my road. Frankly, I just want winter to be over with.
And then the puppy distracted me by trying to chew apart my headset and subwoofer. She had another first today: she got a collar and name tag to wear. She fought me about wearing it, but she's kept it on.
I just need to get to 100 words before the sedative kicks in and I fall to the floor. I have a feeling that I will be stuck working overtime with no lunch break yet again tomorrow. At least I have vacation until next Wednesday (assuming that I even make it through tomorrow). This is going to be one boring entry, but what can I do? I'm so sleep deprived right now that my eyes literally hurt, and yet I am here typing away to make sure that I don't have to catch up later. I'd like to sleep soon.
I can't say that I am feeling inspired to come up with an entertaining entry today. It was -25 degrees this morning before wind chill. I learned on the radio that the South Pole was two degrees warmer at around the same time. The car needed extra coaxing just to start, and the dogs haunted the kitchen for the day since I knew that leaving them outside was not an option. I couldn't even find their outdoor water bowl in the backyard. Even if I had, it was likely frozen solid. And yet, it will be 47 degrees tomorrow afternoon.
I always thought that there were a curious kind of beings hanging out behind the clothes dryers. They were called the Tribe of Lost Socks, and they would take "sacrifices" from your laundry every so often. Nobody ever discerned what their ultimate motive was, beyond baffling a hapless human who somehow came up one sock short once every few loads of laundry. Now I realize that if they do indeed exist, then they also have animal helpers on this side of existence. They take the form of puppies who raid laundry hampers. It could be worse. They could take underwear.
There were four of them in the airlock with us: three men in black suits and a fancy- dressed woman with ear chandeliers. They had better guns, but i wasn't worried. They claimed that I had stolen it from their boss (whose name I never could spell correctly, let alone pronounce). I had given up ships before just to save my own skin, but I wasn't letting them take this one. The other ships were just small hunks of space debris that I grabbed to keep the navy from getting me. The Massaden, however, was a true war machine.
"You're going to give us the ownership codes and leave via this airlock," the woman told us while her lackeys were waving their guns around thinking they were fearsome hitmen. Low-rent mercs who barely graduated from the navy's basic training, I concluded.
"'fraid I can't do that," I told her with a shrug. I kept my eyes on the guns, but not because I thought they could shoot straight.
"You are not in a position to negotiate!" she hissed.
I cocked my head and finally looked at her directly with a smirk. I had the codes, after all.
Mel was standing to the right of me with her usual placid look. That made me a little more nervous. See, she was one of those former political prisoners on Merwu-Six who had been "rehabilitated". Or at least, the local government said they rehabbed her. They sent her to be a thug for them whenever uprisings happened in the Hopwell system and wiped her mind after each job, but ultimately that just made her forget a lot of things. Like pain. Or a conscience.
So yeah, her holding a small black box in her left hand couldn't be good.
The woman kept talking to me and ignoring Mel, when really she should have been doing just the opposite. Her hair had grown over the scars from past surgeries, but even the most ardent holo-watching junkie could often tell she was no longer "all there". I kept her with me all the same, though there were times I doubted that she even knew or cared who I was.
"The codes, Narsala. I won't ask again."
I yawned. Out here, that was a bigger insult than flipping someone off. "You haven't asked for anything."
The gunmen lowered their weapons, grinning.
The puppy is growing. Rather, her legs are getting long. Very long. In two weeks' time, she has grown slightly taller than the corgi. She is still ribby despite multiple daily feedings, and still thinks that each meal could be her last. With her newfound height, however, she is discovering the joys of trying to take things off of counters and tables. I watched, open-mouthed, as she tried to get the broiler open, followed by an attempt to open a drawer to get to tin foil, and her crowning achievement: opening the dishwasher and crawling inside to "clean" plates!
Red River Woman kept grabbing at her ankles, cursing the tiny sharp teeth that kept piercing them. She finally grabbed the small furry creature and detached it from her right ankle bone and sent it towards the Sandman. Unfortunately, the creature was a shaggy puppy who, like most of its ilk, had two speeds: comatose or destructive. It collapsed at the Sandman's feet before he even swung his sandbag around once again. He focused his attention on the woman and began shuffling towards her. She prepared to tackle him while Cleverer watched Old Man Winter's army continue its frozen march.
"Will the small mixed breed with the piranha teeth please remove your incisors and canines from the female human's ankle?"
A renewed attack on the human's right leg was her response.
"There's a rope toy for a reward."
She ignored the voice and continued to gnaw.
"How about a bacon-flavored bone?"
The puppy looked up with soulful brown eyes for a moment.
The teething terror took the bone and dragged it under the coffee table. The human watched for a moment, pleased. Then, when her back was turned, the puppy began to chew the remote control.
Six deer and one wild turkey (with at least two more heard in the woods that I could not see). That was the "wildlife count" for today out at the state park. I led the group of friends on horseback out there today. Most of the horses behaved, but I had one cantankerous mare (an Appaloosa) bite the backside of another towards the rear of the group. One thing still puzzles me every time I go out there: wildlife (and domestic cows) don't mind humans... if they are on a horse. Got three feet from one deer before she moved.
Feminine hygiene products and household cleaners kept in cupboards. That's what the puppy seeks out today. I have also learned that she is now tall enough to reach into the metal trash can (that was originally purchased for the corgi back when he was a pup). She is making sure that I have to stay on top of sweeping and vacuuming.
When I hear ads for cat litter that is supposed to mask odors, I laugh at their "favorite scents". They never seem to include words like "alfalfa hay", "horse manure", "puppy piddle". The last is hardly anybody's favorite, however.
The elder corgi looked over at his ever-growing protege and waited for her to stop bouncing off of the wall and the fence (literally) so that he could go over the day's events. "Did you get inside yet?" he asked her when she slowed down for a brief second.
"The food bin? I told you: I did that last week," the puppy said as she barreled into him, knocking him to the ground. "That's why she bought those lids with the screw on containers."
"Did you get into the trash and get those items?"
The pup grinned.
"I got the can of chili and the sticky stuff you said makes the human throw a fit!" the pup told him as she made a grab for a beef-flavored Nylabone. It wasn't as tasty as the bacon one, but the corgi made sure that was for him alone.
"Yes, that feminine... whatever," the corgi replied, squinting in the sun. He still had a few things on his list that he hadn't accomplished as a pup (mostly due to height), but the newcomer could pick up where he left off.
"How soon can you get into the fridge?"
River faced the lumbering horde from the east, not yet aware of what was coming from the south. Cleverer's nose burned from the sulfur in the air and her eyes watered. "What do I do now?" she wondered aloud. They were outnumbered, unarmed and worst of all unprepared.
Just then, the shadow of a bird appeared on the ground in front of her. The Sandman saw it too and paused, his bag mere inches from the Chili Thief's head. He growled at the parakeet's shadow, a long guttural sound that made Cleverer's hair stand on the back of her neck.
River's eyes widened when she saw the first snowflakes fall. Even before she learned that she was little more than a tithe to Old Man Winter, she never liked the season that he lived in. Her quest for a certain sundae in the wrong time of year now forgotten, she watched the first wave of the snow-wargs come down from the darkening skies and onto the flat, parched plains around her. The increasing chill had already turned her hands purple, and she knew her feet fared little better even without being able to see them. Nowhere left to run.
The snow-wargs circled River until they realized that she wasn't about to fight. They stopped charging and stopped to sniff the air. She felt the cold seep through her skin and into her limbs, onward to her brain. Time crawled around her as her vision slowly dimmed until all that she saw was Old Man Winter himself.
She tried to speak but the muscles in her face were numb. Her heart tried to beat faster to keep warm, even though it was a futile effort.
"I can make this stop," he told her.
Only one request. "Let them go."
"Do you have anything else to say?" Old Man Winter asked.
River was too cold to even shrug. She simply stared blankly towards the east. Whatever he planned to do to her, she hoped it was quick.
She saw a club raised above her head and felt the world around her grow colder still. She was unaware of the club's movement, reliving her wasted life in her mind as she was. There were no final moments of enlightenment, no flashes of brilliant insight that she would never be able to share with the world. Her world simply went... dark.
Melissa Derusaven had been a 24th century poet that the local government had made an example of when they finally captured her after a year of living underground. Her only crime was saying that she sympathized with a small group of nuns who had given their lives to fight slavery. Compared to the anti-government guerillas on Besami-7, it was a very minor infraction, but she paid for it dearly over and over.
Arp had told me that such people could never be rehabilitated, but I chose to believe otherwise. I had to. She was my sister, after all.
I don't know why I looked down at the floor when I did. When I looked up, Mel was standing between me and the mercs and they were convulsing in front of her. When they died, she stuffed their bodies into empty storage containers as though she were picking up bits of trash. "You murdered them! Why?"
"It wasn't murder," Mel told me cheerfully. "It was 'personnel extraction!'"
Arp hissed on secure comms, "Leah, we can't keep her here. She's going to kill us next and not even know it."
"Mel?" I asked. "Know who I am?"
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