Chapter fourteen: Drops in the bucket

Chapter fourteen: Drops in the bucket

A Chapter by Thatonedawg

A day with Barkley and a day to ignore the endless guilt Issac feels.


-14- Drops in the bucket


Awaking earlier than normal, that nightmare haunted my sleep yet again. The horrible sting of the rope was not present however and so shards of hope developed. In the shower, I decided I wanted to greet Urving this morning, instead of waking up as he left. Hunting high and low, I tried to find the pastry pockets that Urving had prepared for me yesterday morning. Figured I’d return the favor. Once found, I was unsure how to prepare them, the nonsensical symbols were giving me a headache. Unsure, but determined, I turned on the stove top, like I had seen Ferris do the other day. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but the near clear flames produced would certainly be enough to prepare a meal on.


With a bit of searching, I managed to find a skewer, which I used to hold these breakfast pouches over the fire, like a toasting marshmallow. It was going perfectly, it was turning golden brown and starting to crisp up… However, disaster loomed around the corner. Within a few seconds it burst open, spewing molten crème cheese downward, causing the fire to roar upward. My hands were doused in searing sludge and I cried out, throwing the lanced pastry aside, it hit the sink and splattered like a water balloon. Dousing my still burning hands in water, I was suddenly acutely aware of a smell and a thin… smoke? Thankfully not enough was on the burner to cause an actual fire, but the smoke this burning slime was producing made me panic. It was sparking and crackling, where the filling had leaked onto the burner itself, causing plumes of smoke to scatter upward. Oh god… Please don't think I tried to burn your house down. F**K!


After scaling the counters, using all the strength and finesse early morning me had, I opened the window over the sink. Turning to climb back down, I was greeted with an unfriendly sight. Thought it was Urving, he was not the normal cheery fellow I am used too. His eyes were glassy, beady, and stared relentlessly through me. A frustrated frown turned to a momentary scowl, but softened when our eyes met. Quickly examining the situation, he shook his head and sighed aggrivation. Lifting me from the counter, he set me on the floor, then silently opened a small vent in the ceiling. It began to vacate the smoke, while he turned the burner off. What a great f*****g start to the day… His disappointment was momentary, but it ate me up inside regardless. How could I screw up this badly, this quickly? I cant do anything right…

“What’re ya doing Issac? You know I’ll make you breakfast, right?” Annoyance was restrained, but one could hear it in his sandpaper voice.

“It was… supposed to be… for you…” Sheepishly, I just retreated toward my room. “C-can I at least clean that up?”


A tiny frown formed and his nose twitched with repressed emotions. “S-sorry… Suppose it’s my fault for not letting ya in the kitchen.” He laughed, but I just felt relieved he wasn't really mad.

“Sorry Urving. I just… ya know.” Again shameful discomfort stampeded through me.


“Oh jeez, are you alright?” His concern for my mild burns, blasted away the minor animosity.


“Yeah, I’m fine, just need a towel.” He placed a cloth in the sink and ran water over it.


“I’ll clean up, don't worry. Then I’ll show you how to make these, sound good?” A distinct amount of remorse could be felt in the way he said this.


“Y-yeah… Sorry again.” I repeated, but just got a pat on the head.

Though I am untrustworthy, it feels terrible being treated like this. Every activity coddled away to nothing but watching. All my decisions given second, and third childish retries. This was a minor discrepancy, but I really hope this whole “pet” thing blows over quick. I just couldn't handle it for my entire life… God, that thought always causes a solar flare of anxiety. A part of me may never be alright with growing old here, but what choice do I have? I don't even deserve the support I am given...


“See right here?” Urving pointed to a small lever on the stove, which I hadn’t given a second thought. “Just flick it up and…” A tiny cage sprung forth, which he fed four breakfast pockets. “Then push it down. It knows how hot the food gets, so it’ll never burn!” Urving explained what was basically a built in toaster.

“Thank you and… sorry again…” I looked at the still moist floor and counter, where cleaning chemicals had just been applied.

“Oh stop it.” He nudged me lightly. “I know ya didn't mean too. Just glad we’re alright!” He swirled the remaining smoke around with two claws for reference.


“I know for next time.” Nodding assuredly, he just smiled. “Oh and… thank you. Really.” Referencing my coffee mug made him gush.


“So glad I found one with your name! I had to get it spelled right after all!” Urving added after a few seconds of excited gibberish.


Urving flicked on, what I would assume was the coffee pot. It looked like something Dr. Frankenstein would use… This mechanical device produced a long thin, spiral glass tube, that corkscrewed from the machine to his mug. With a lot of rampant vibrations, guttural groans, and steamy hissing, it made coffee. Watching with a raised eyebrow, the entire machine seemed to shake, to just produce an average trickle of coffee… If it didn't taste so good, I would say it was defective or something. Given what some of the other machines can do, I’m surprised coffee doesn't just materialize in the mugs.

Though nothing spectacular, my day is already going better than yesterday and before. Eating my quickie breakfast with Urving, while he read me the paper, that’s how it’s supposed to be! I mean, yes, I royally failed this morning, my hands still burn lightly as evidence, but that isn’t the point. He cares… I cared… I hope he knows I’m trying. It isn’t easy…

“Hey, listen to this.” Urving began another story. “Looking for guitarist. Must be willing to do anything and everything needed to be famous. Maybe you oughta try out!” Urving was loving this idea, but I just laughed it off.

“I don't know man, me, famous? Ugh, that really cramps my style.” Folding my arms behind my head nonchalantly, got a chuckle from him.

“I bet you could do it. I totally understand, but I know you could if you wanted to.” He patted the paper a few times, absolute confidence all he projected. “Just don't sell yourself short!” He added before dropping the subject.

Never did I pretend my music would escape the realm of “for fun” and reach the level Urving is speaking on. How cool would that be though, famous on another planet! This quickly passed into a daydream, as my band would have to either be close friends or other humans for me to feel comfortable. Still, what an uplifting thing for him to say, especially considering he has never really heard me play extensively. After breakfast we watched a little TV, but soon Urving had to ready himself for another day. It isn’t childish or fear driven, but curiosity has led me to want to go with him. Everyday alone has been worse and worse, though I was thankful for the ardor my visitors brought along with them. It saved my life in a way…


“Unfortunately I’m working club Mélange tonight, things can get pretty spicy there, so I will probably have to stay really late.” Urving stepped out into the hall and fumbled his tie on.


“Ok, I’ll try to call you today!” I tried to assure him, but he frowned.

“Can I ask you not to? My boss is a real jackass and he’ll probably get mad.” Urving’s eyes lowered with disappointment.

“No problem!” Reassuring him of my independence, he smiled and slicked his hair once more.

“Plus seeing you, but not getting to answer…” Urving clutched his heart, pretending to faint. “That’d just kill me!”

“Oh stop, it isn’t a problem, even if you cant call at all!” He had gone to get his jacket, but I heard a scoff.

“Nope, that’s just not alright with me!” It was a joke to him, but felt special to me. “This has been cool, I like getting to see you in the morning bud!” Urving tossled my hair, once his was clawed into perfection.

“Me too. It sucks waking up alone.” My comment made him “a’ww”, which I didn't expect.

“Why do you think I got you buddy? So… neither of us have to be alone.” Urving waved a paw over the vast, gloomy emptiness of the house.

“Thanks. I know it’s been rough, but… Thank you…” I got up for a hug, which his overjoyed response dwarfed in content.

“Well I gotta get going, Barkley should be by in…” He checked his watch. “A few hours… Sorry bud.” Urving’s disappointment was unneeded.


“I can handle a few hours alone, I’m a big boy.” Taunting his concern got him to laugh, but his response was hardly typical.


“The pamphlet says most humans like alone time and will want to be alone a lot. Especially the younger ones.” It’s creepy how we are packaged for them…

“You’ll have to let me read this pamphlet. Let ya know if they got it all right!” We both laughed at this, as we headed to the door.

“Have a good day kiddo. Stay safe and try not to set anything on fire!” Urving jabbed at me, but I just gnarled my face at him. “See ya bud!” He added from his car.

“Bye Urving. Have a good day!” Waving to him as he drove away, fear struck me like a spiritual anchor.


Once alone, everything was a potential threat again. From the dog barking next door, to the family of rodents across the street, I was petrified. Without Urving, this house feels so unsafe and vulnerable. This place maybe where I call home, but it doesn't inspire the safety or security it should. Being so far from my true home makes it impossible to feel protected, unless I have someone actively defending me. Luckily my owner ended up being a security guard, but that doesn't change his current absence. It sounds stupid, but I got a kitchen knife and kept it next to me while I played videogames. It was curved and had wicked serrations, so that gave me fleeting comfort.

"In the times of magic and myth, a great tyranny seized the land…” The games intro could be skipped, but I watched it for fun.


Not saying I was hunky dory, but it was a little easier to enjoy myself today. It’s like I shed enough suffering to pay for a days worth of adequacy. The games been easier as well! I’m unsure if that’s a result of being stronger since last time, or not being in a dangerous area. It was riveting to explore the lush, expansive, reactive, and dangerous wilderness! I am going to feel so lame though, if I cant ever level up on my own… I was bit by a snake and had to stand around while the poison passed, but it didn't take very long. A bear killed me out of nowhere, despite it saying they are relatively peaceful in a loading screen hint. Soon I was fighting a pair of wild boars, who seemed to be a relatively good match. Why are animals a type of enemy? I mean, of course they would be, but… Without warning the game paused a sec and a little panel slid across my screen.

“Player: Diet_Riot wishes to join your party. Do you accept?” I read it aloud from confusion, then accepted.

“Hello there Issac!” Mel’s voice was marked by a tiny speaker at the top of the screen.

“Heya, how’re you today?” I responded, unsure of the etiquette players should follow.

“Pretty good, you? Gimme a sec, I’ll be right over, gotta teleport.” He responded in a rushed sort of way. “Head toward Hay hill, I’ll meet you there.”


“Uhhh…” I began trying to find the map, but he just laughed.

“Go west, you should see a little village.” This caused me to “oh” with confirmation.


Once there, I was sort of lost in how quaint this game can be. A little family of canines strolled the street, each pup into a higher level of mischief than the last. Two lion guards stood at one gate, while two bears stood at the other, all fully clad in metal skins. Elderly animals or youthful knaves shuffled about the sleepy village, getting a variety of tasks needlessly done. Work, play, merriment, and trade all occurred at once in the central streets of Hay hill. Meeting up with Mel in the local tavern, he had gifts a plenty! From a set of knuckle dusters, to some potions, to a stack of coins, Melvin gave me another starter pack!

“This will give you protection points, even though you cant wear any armor!” He explained away the faintly glowing amulet he had just given me.

“Thanks, but, you know you don’t gotta give me this stuff, if you needed it.” I assured him I would be fine, but again he just laughed.

“No offense, but this is nooby gear, it wouldn't even put a dent in my repair costs. So don't ya worry!” Mel’s character waved a paw my way, assumedly he had done the same.


I’m unsure why this was comforting… Having someone to talk to was one thing, but the fact Melvin was another human and older than me, brought a heightened sense of security. Not to mention he was much more powerful in game then I or even Urving was. Powerful may not be the right word, since Urving can kill most enemies one hit and it still takes Mel several spells to fell a foe. Skilled would be the right word! He could dodge quicker than lightning strikes and aim shots through the eye of a needle! Regardless of my inferiority, it was a good time, I leveled up two or three times and found enough treasure to fill my inventory.

“When we get to the next shop, you can buy a backpack or travel bag to carry more.” Mel informed me, his avatar revealing he had a knapsack under his cape. “If you need, I’ll carry anything you cant.”

“Thanks, here.” I gave him some spare weaponry I couldn't use. “You wouldn't think some metal on your knuckles would be this effective!” I couldn't help but mention my dramatically improved damage.


“Yeah, I never really liked monk, but having brass knuckles or a punching blade is the way to go! Gotta remember some skills require absolute bare hands though!” His response led me to check my skills.


Something call “Mass attack” and “Soul strike” required me to be completely unarmed, but these skills were not unlocked until level fifty and seventy, respectively. Still, the icons alone had me excited to get stronger! I made it a mission today, to increase my level enough for Urving to take notice. My hopeful mindset led me to ignore how unrealistic this goal actually was. With a renewed vigor, we took to the wilds. Seeing the artificial nature unravel before my eyes with each digital step I took, my mind wandered to the real outside. I found myself staring out the back window every few seconds, wondering if anywhere on this planet is actually like this game. Have they industrialized the entire world, like most of earth, or have the revered nature and left its glory in peace.

“So Mel, can I ask, what’s it like out there?” My voice carried only hints of the overwhelming fear and curiousity I felt.

“Unfathomable! Amazing! Astoundingly awesome!” His voice was an atom bomb of excitement. “I’ve only had my freedom license for a few years now, so forgive my excitement.”

“It isn’t… dangerous?” I wanted to convey confidence, but I failed miserably.

“As dangerous as any major city on earth!” Melvin’s frankness was appreciated. “You just need some time kid, get a feel for the water before you set sail, ya know?” His words brought slivers of hope to my eyes and a trembling smile to my face.

“Yeah, thanks Mel.” I responded simply.

“My names Riot, remember!” He snipped back jovially.

“Sorry, thanks Riot.” I repeated and he chuckled. “Forgive me, I’m new, but what class is your character?”


Asking about his character got me much more information then I could have possibly handled. It was a storm of words, spouting endlessly, occasionally becoming incomprehensible! Required experience, skill increases, level bonuses, equipment shifting, difficulty changes, and many other details were bombarded into my brain. He basically told me everything about this game, I didn't ask for… It was still fun, as I could tell he was just happy to talk about it. Funny, Melvin looks like the definition of an introvert, but he acts really outgoing! Maybe he was also desperate for human interaction? I doubt this though, he and Kolm seem to be best friends. Urving and I will reach that point, someday…


“I just remembered, monks have the highest base block percentage out of any class, since they cant use shields. Don’t discount your characters block, it will increase as you get stronger.” Melvin was still going strong, but something else caught my ears.

“Hey Mel, gimme a sec, my phones ringing.” Once he stopped, I went to answer Urving.


To my surprise, Barkley was on the other line. He was driving, so he only checked the screen every few seconds and didn't look away too long. The tall, captains chair he sat in blocked out most of the window, but I could see he was passing in the shadow of a large building. From the way he sat, his ears balanced on his shoulders, which made him look like a girl! The natural feathering amplified this exponentially! I will certainly tease him about that, once we know each other better. So help me god if he calls me Spaz…


“Hello Barkley.” I greeted, but he didn't look at the phone to respond.

“Sup Spaz! I’m on my way to your house, called to ask if you wanted me to pick you up something?” His kind offer was weighed down by that aggravating nickname.

“No, I mean… Thanks, but I don't really know what to ask for!” I laughed uneasily, but he just smirked.

“You sure? Alright, I’ll be there in, like, thirty minutes.” Barkley didn't wait for a goodbye.

“Hey Melv- uh, Riot, Barkley’s on his way, so I may have to quit soon.” It was disappointing for the both of us.

“Lucky, wish I had some company!” He faux complained. “We’re in a pretty dangerous area, let me get you to a city.” Melvin offered and I obliged.


It wasn't long until we arrived at a place called Copper-top ranch, which was a tiny village aside a massive horse stable. Melvin was kind enough to buy me a horse and once I had the deed of ownership, which lets you summon it anywhere, we said our goodbyes. After saving my game, turning off the TV, and cleaning up some snack wrappers, I awaited Barkley’s arrival. An idea struck me and I went to fetch my almost depleted bag of pot. He’ll surely appreciate this! Funny, for a future father Barkley acts like a teenager!

“Yo? Spaz, you here?” Barkley’s voice nearly gave me a heart attack from how sudden it was.


Out of everything, the one complaint I have is lack of privacy… I mean, I have my own room, but people show up without warning! We need to work on that, people having open access to my house! Wait… Did I really just call this “my” house? Urving probably worked so hard to get this place and I’m a guest… or… What a complicated situation my life has become… Just thinking about this made me want to thank Urving endlessly, for taking me in and giving me a place to call home.

“Hey Barkley, wassup?” I stepped out of my room and into the kitchen to greet him.

“Not much, not much… I got the day off luckily! You would’ve had to spend it with Gene, ugh!” He pretended to get chills just saying her name.

“Thanks! That wouldn't have been fun, unless Felix came too!” I smirked, yet he just shook his head, pretend dread still on his face.


“He’s been looking for a better job, not much going around these days.” Barkley sounded sad, a seriousness took hold.


“Is the job market tough?” It certainly was on earth...


“For Phelix it is, Gene has high standards.” Barkley made a whip cracking noise and we laughed.

“What do you do, if you don't mind me asking?’ Even though Barkley is less serious, he deserves my respect.


“I’m a construction overseer, believe it or not.” He laughed at himself as he saw my disbelief. “I do have a brain under all this!” With strain, he lifted his ears causing a loud jangling.

“Wow, that's pretty cool!” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, nothing major, it puts food on the table.” Prideful overtones cut his cool façade to ribbons.


“Gonna have a lot more places at the table pretty soon!” I tried to appeal as if he was a close friend already.

“Nothing I cant handle!” He laughed a bit, splinters of worry jabbing into his voice. “Speaking of my future fatherly duties, I have to get rid of some of my stuff. I brought you these, case ya ever get bored.” Barkley shook his muzzle a bit, to snap back to the moment.

He addressed a brown paper bag, with a certain weight to it. Plopping it on the kitchen table, I approached and fished out the contents. Shame, humiliation, and fractals of disgust filled me to overflowing. These contemptible and dishonorable feelings caused me to scoff in a vexing way. They were… it is… pornography… What made it worse, weirder for me, was the fact they were not human women… Barkley was gifting his canine smut to me and not saving it for his possible sons, why the hell would he do that? What enjoyment should I get from these? Does he expect me to… ugh!


What made this even worse, Barkley started openly perusing them! Does the man have no shame, no decency? He’s married or, whatever they call it here, and he has children on the way! Without so much as an awkward laugh, he invited me to inspect them as well! It didn't seem to bother him at all! Like this was perfectly normal and I shouldn’t be uncomfortable what so ever. It was one thing to be staring at near nude b*****s (literally) and another to receive these nudey-mags as a gift, but to openly examine them with a near stranger… This may scar me for life! Barkley couldn’t have been more nonchalant about this either, he acted like nothing was going on at all. My overpowering shame must’ve made this awkward somehow, right? Nope, Barkley showed flagrant disregard to my reactions and dissatisfaction. What made it the most uncomfortable, by far, was his desire to show me his favorites! I mean, men on earth did the same thing, but he has to understand, right?

“What about her? Damn man!” Barkley was enjoying a husky, posed with a spraying hose.

“Y-y-yeah…” I stammered, uncomfortable wasn't even the right word anymore…


“I remember liking this one, check her out!” At least they are the same species as him…

“Oh… uh… yeah! Sure!” My scuttled pride capsized and I just averted my eyes as best I could.

“Just hold on to em till my pups are old enough, cool?” Barkley gently swatted my nose with a rolled up magazine… the irony is palpable.

“Of course, let me just put this in the storage room.” Red faced, mortified, and stumbling over my words, I moved the box to the back of that room.

“So you wanna game? I got some stuff I been saving for ya.” Barkley leaned in the archway to the kitchen, as I emerged.

“Sure, wanna smoke first? There isn’t much left, but-.” His eyes brightened, his nose twitched, and his tail wagged before he spoke.

“Awesome, didn't think you’d have any left!” He shoved his hands in his pockets and produced rolling papers, in a little tube. “Would’ve been a waste on Gene anyway!” He laughed at her expense.

“Y-yeah!” Recovering from the simmering discomfort, I joined his taunting.


Today is just full of surprises isn’t it! What a strange ordeal, he didn't tease me or hone in on my shame either! Ferris said they live in an open and inviting society, so maybe he was just being nice? It doesn't matter, just gonna… put that out of my mind… It’s just odd how immature he can be, or is maturity not as heavily honored by anthronians? As you age on this planet, is it more important to keep your inner child alive? Pup, kid, cub, calf… whatever… Despite those unrelenting, unbearable, and utterly painful few minutes, Barkley didn't seem to want to tease me. Thank god for that… I would have been pink permanently from blushing!

“So Spaz, er, Issac, how goes the human life?” He asked midway through rolling our first joint.

“Good, I mean, bizarre of course, but… good…” I couldn't help but smirk, what an odd day thus far.

“Yeah, bet living with us has been a head trip!” Barkley laughed out loud at me, as I nodded with wide eyes.

“You have no idea…” Shaking my head, I mentally hunted for the right words. “I cant explain it… It’s like I’m in the Twilight Zone!” We both laughed, but he seemed confused.


After explaining to Barkley what I meant, he compared the show to something called “Bleak Beyond” and declared we would watch it someday. That’s exactly what I meant and I was quick to explain it to him. Something so astronomically uncanny, he shrugged off as mere serendipity. It cannot be that simple, one of us influenced the other or our brains must work on a similar level… Something beyond genetics, like, our biochemistry is similar or… I don't know, I’m getting exceedingly philosophical for current company. This is something I will need to discuss with Ferris or maybe Kolm, since he seems to like humans a lot.


It’s hard not to pretend… It has to happen, or I couldn't function properly. I’m still branded emotionally by the last two days, but this pain will always follow me, unto my grave. Barkley would not be my prime choice of company, but damn he beats Genevide by a mile! Watching the process of loose pot being turned into rolled joints, I was aghast with the dexterity and minute detail Barkley was able to achieve. He was stunningly adept! The disarrayed fur halting for small tapered claws, which were able to perform the rolling action with surgical precision. Gene was better at rolling, though being drunk that day could be clouding my memory. Barkley definitely put more herb into the thin sheets of paper than she did.


The game was loading as we lit up the first joint. Barkley started giving pretty basic pointers, but overall I appreciated the encouragement. I was a little apprehensive to play with him. Urving strove to be understanding and inviting, but Barkley’s first words to me were insults. I just hope I don't embarrass myself! Though I show little faith, he can surely be mature about something so trivial, right? Maybe pot will mellow that unnecessary competitiveness away. If not, it is up to me to kick a*s!


Upon first glimpse of Barkley’s character, I knew he was going to tease me. He played a ninja, dressed in sleek black leather armor, which only allowed his azure eyes and bushy white tail to poke through. The hood was pointed for his ears and the claws protruding form his open gloves, had been capped with sharpened metal. One the forehead a flared crest went outward like horns, tracing his slightly bent ears. The torso of his armor snuggly fit around his characters midsection, lower legs, and arms, but the waist cloth hung freely behind his lightly armored legs. On his hip was a bundled up chain that had a long, hooked sickle on the end. Both shoulders were lined with throwing knives and he had a curved sword on the small of his back. Barkley’s avatar even ran differently, crouching low and extending both arms backward when he did. To my shock, he didn't say anything disparaging about my simple kung-fu coyote! Maybe I underestimated Barkley’s maturity…


“Wanna fight? Just for fun, no risks.” Spoke too soon… This is surely a double edged offer…

“Uhh, sure, but… Go easy on me, k?” Vulnerability lined my voice, but Barkley just gave a super villain laugh.

“No mercy!” Barkley howled, running straight at me in game.

His character could pretty much teleport! With blurs of rushing motion he could move short distances in an instant! This made it impossible to track him, so I ended up blocking and spinning to where he appeared. Several daggers hit me in a flurry and I staggered from the near fatal damage. In a flash it was over, Barkley appeared in four different locations, but was actually above me! One slash of the sword, I collapsed, and the screen went red.

Now I knew that was how it would go down, but it is really demoralizing seeing the word “loser” plastered across your screen. Barkley sniggered, but didn't taunt me directly. Instead he continued to offer more useful information and even let me practice on him. It always resulted in him killing me one shot, but Barkley has amassed thousands of levels, so it didn't bother me. At one point he was just screwing with me, evading every single attack only to kill me instantly. This s**t got old, very quick…


“Oh right, forgot, I won these in a death match. Kept em for ya!” Barkley opened the trade menu as we sparked the second blunt, the first roach still burning.


They were spiked bracelets or wrist cuffs. A small list of effects accompanied the glowing, obviously enchanted objects. Equipping them I found my characters sleeves rolled up and they actually looked more like a glove, with four pyramid shaped spikes lining the wrists. It said they caused damage to enemies I blocked and made attacks against staggered enemies more powerful. It also said it improved spirit and defense stats by five points. Sweet! I thanked Barkley, but all he did was challenge me again… I like exploring damn it! My favorite part of this game has been the interactivity and environments, combat in a game will never feel the same again…


Narrowly avoiding the chained hook, I managed to block at the perfect time and deflect the secondary sweeping attack. Once near enough, I unleashed as many combo attacks as I possibly could, each more complicated than the last. There were times I swung at his feet and head simultaneously, while midair! Still, with minimal effort, Barkley slipped by and away from my striking limbs. With a deft flick of the paw, he slid back then launched forward and stabbed my character. I blocked crudely, but not good enough to keep balance and was slain, yet again.


“God damn it!” Frustration boiled forth in a tiny, breathy curse.

“You can’t just stand there and expect to win! You gotta cut and run, Spaz.” Barkley’s encouragement didn't reach me right away. “Even enemies your level will mess you up pretty badly if you don't avoid them.” I waved off his advice and just tried to win again.


Even though I pretended to ignore his words, I took them to heart. Dodging, jumping, and sprinting for my safety, I managed to survive a bit longer. This became the game itself, how long could I survive fighting Barkley’s ninja. His character had some sinister powers… From cloning, to teleporting, to simply becoming invisible at will, he was obviously superior, not just by level! I always choose the wrong class in these games...

“Dude, you suck! Come on-…” Barkley began a ranting taunt, but stopped and snatched up his pager. “Hey babe, you alright? Yeah! No, I miss you too!” The lovey voice told me it was Delia. “I’m not very far, you need anything, I can-. You sure? Well alright, I love you. Be home in a few hours.” A subtle disappointment piqued in his voice as his wife said goodbye.


Something about this was both tender and annoying. He was just ripping on me over a game, but I would be a jerk to mock him about his relationship and how it changes him. Thinking about it, damn, what a fucked up thing to tease Barkley over! I really like Delia, she was so kind to me that day and I actually appreciate Barkley more when he is around her. Just god, why does he feel the need to be… such an a*****e?

“Whenever you’re done in lala-land, I’ve got some a*s kicking for you!” Barkley mocked me, as I snapped back into the moment.

“Just wait… one of these days the student will be the master.” Light hearted, but deep in thought, I returned to the game. “You excited to play this with your boys? They’ll probably be a lot better than I am!” It was basically a self insult, but his sunny smile told me it hit close to home for him.

“If I do get a son or sons, god forbid, I want to do a whole lot more with them than play digi-games!” We laughed a moment, but it felt different from him.

“Well of course!” I added, feeling like a moron. “You’ll be chasing them around in no time!”

His face was distant and worried, but his eyes beamed with excitement. Barkley is certainly frightened of becoming a parent, but I do not think he needs to fear… Something tells me between the two of them, they can do this perfectly. Apprehension must be natural for all creatures expecting a child. Creatures… Why is it I cant see them as normal people? It’s something I need to adapt too, but... Will that happen over time or is there something wrong with me? If he knew about me, what I have done, would he even be here right now? Would they have asked me to look after their pups? Delia probably wouldn't have even spoke to me…


We had only one joint left and I opted to smoke it without playing, to savor the experience. Barkley was fine with that and simply switched it back to television. Smoking so much recently made it hard to enjoy the substance as strongly, but the effects came through in spurts of heightened happiness and enjoyment. Barkley also seemed to be feeling it, as we both laughed at the way a guy talked on the news, how stoner is that? We bounced between a ralg match and some action movie about stolen diamonds, pretty low key stuff…

“Damn, I’m hungry, what’s Urving got around here?” He asked absent of me, as he began poking through the kitchen.

“There’s some leftover gabbach in there, in the big bowl.” My offer made him fake wretch.

“I am canine! I am carnivore!” Barkley spoke like a caveman- er, dog… as he searched the house further.

Ironically, he settled for some ice cream and it was chocolate flavor! What I would have pulled from my dogs muzzle in panic, Barkley was able to eat with no stomach problems or death! Can all dogs here enjoy chocolate? Is it a trait some share or is it genetic, like some horses having hooves instead of feet? Regardless of this, it made me want some as well and soon I was also eating a premade cone of frozen splendor. This was no substitute for a hearty steak or a glazed wrack of ribs, but I’m glad he found something.


His schedule is unpredictable, but from what I gathered, Urving usually calls between three and six o’clock. I only bring this up, for I am currently receiving a call and I can only assume it is him. My outer shell may be like ice at times, but it is impossible to keep my cool with so much attention piled my way. You need to understand, I was a loser on earth with few friends… Come to think of it, I’m a loser here too, only worse… Damn, I walked into that one, didn't I?


“Hello Urving, how’re things going tonight?” His roughed up suit and tie told me not well…

“Oh alright, thanks for answering kid, I am really glad to see you!” Something caught my eye and I gasped softly.

“Ur-Urving, your nose! You’re bleeding! Are you alright?” A crimson trickle ran from within his snout down to his lips.

The concern filling my voice was very genuine, but for selfish reasons. What will become of me if Urving is gone? Where will I end up, back in a prison cell? Will I outlive Urving and be alone or with a stranger for my twilight years? What a heart wrenching, devastating, soul crushing thought… How have I not pondered and worried about this yet?

“I’m fine, I’m fine, calm down buddy!” Urving was reassuring, showing me very little blood appeared. “Someone hit me with a stool earlier, but I’m fine!” His laughter attested to him really being fine.


“Wh-wha-why did someone hit you with a stool?” I was astounded with what I was hearing.


“They didn't want to leave and of course, that’s my job. He got a little too riled up and hit me when my back was turned.” Urving rumbled, brushing this off like nothing. “I’m fine really! I called to see how you were doing, Barkley there?” He emphasized “you” and pointed toward his pager.


“Hey Urving!” Barkley waved over my shoulder, before entering the bathroom.

“Yeah… You sure you’re alright?” My voice was soft, but I was really concerned.


“Buddy, relax, I’m fine, I’ve been hit loads of times! I’ll be home in a few more hours, ok? No worries!” Urving’s voice was as bright as ever, but I saw blood beading in his nostrils again. “Have a good day bud, cant talk long. Bye Iza!”

“See ya… Urving…” He had hung up already, probably alerted to some illicit or dangerous activity.

“All good Spaz? Sounded worried…” Does he have no scruples? Who pee’s with the door open?

“Yes, fine!” Averting my eyes I passed by and answered simultaneously.


The idea of what I just witnessed and contemplated still rung in my head like a gong. My eternal fear, the feeling I have come to accept as normal, had changed meaning in an instance. For this fleeting moment, for a few seconds, I didn't fear this place anymore. The thought of losing my one connection, the only life line I had to something resembling normality, had just been jeopardized. Inside, I desperately wanted to call him back and ask him to be real with me, tell me if he was really hurt or not. I knew this would either get him in trouble, unearth the same answer, or both… Instead I just had a seat on the couch and thought a moment. I used my alone time to reflect how important Urving is for me and how easily he could do without me. I really did get lucky in all of this...


My eyes scanned the household and I sighed, knowing what this all cost. Both Urving and I paid a heavy price for this strange civility, but Dalton gave up the most… More than anyone else should ever have to sacrifice for another… Wiping illusory tears I thought were there, I turned to Barkley as he emerged from the hall. Something told me I was caught and would have to explain away my sorrows, but Barkley was oblivious or simply chose not to say anything.

“I’m still hungry. Wanna go get something?” His offer was inviting, but I shook my head. “Is it you aren’t hungry or just… never mind… What’d ya want?” Barkley didn't taunt me, I expected to be called a sissy or a wuss.

“Uh… Whatever Urving got the last time, no mustard please.” I thought a moment, unsure how I should order. “You don't gotta go though, we have stuff here and-.” He cut me off with a laugh.

“I doubt you have triple bacon cheese burgers! Hmm?” His snarky tone made me smile, at least it wasn't directed at me.

“Get me that! That sounds awesome right now!” Real hunger and the munchies mixed isn’t a good feeling.

“Well alright! Just a heads up though, you’ll have to leave the house at some point.” He couldn't avoid teasing me, he even stuck his tongue out just before he shut the door.

“Yeah… I know…” A grim sigh escaped me and I went back to my room.


Now that I am alone and coming down, I feel modicums of a normal mindset reaching across my brain. With Melvin’s words still ringing in my head, I stepped out into the backyard. Insects of alien varieties fluttered by into bushes or overhead and out of sight. In motion they appeared to only be shifting blurs or thin strands of zipping motion. The neighbor dog barked at my arrival, but settled down rather quickly. Unabated oxygen surrounded me and filled my lungs with every breath. The scents of the grass, flowers, and soil were literally new to me, but so familiar… Looking up into the soft violet sky, I raised my arms and stretched, opening my mind to how small I really was. Insignificant is more the word, but I do matter to this world as well, in a smaller way. On earth a boy my age dies or is killed and the news would explode with concerned reports. Here, though, would anyone care? Of course Urving would and the others, but… Never mind, that is just too depressing to think about…


Running back inside, I heard motion over the fence and a voice speak to the still barking dog. Through the window I saw our neighbor was… an alligator or some kind of lizard. Not that I haven’t seen them, but this is definitely a rarer form of anthronian. I wanted to go over to the fence and say hi, but the human in me quashed this possibly fatal idea. What if he was hungry? The fence couldn't possibly protect me… Without realizing, I had gripped the knife beneath the throw pillow and brandished it against my chest. As soon as I understood what I was doing, I ran for the kitchen and put it away. That would be hard to explain to Barkley and impossible to Urving…


Turning the game back on, I was going to continue my goal! I hadn’t leveled up since I played with Melvin, but Barkley had taught me a lot. To my surprise, those heightened skills I had obtained shone through near immediately. Dodging had become insanely easy and blocking was somewhat second nature. Regardless of this, I still took immense damage when I did get hit, but I chalked that up to my character class. Maybe I can upgrade my defenses… Ah, two more levels till I can upgrade “Iron hide”, which is my only noticeable form of protection. Originally, I was going to only upgrade my offensive capabilities, but being a glass cannon means you fire once and… well, you get the picture.


Without much effort, I was timing my dodges and blocks perfectly! The commands I input were sharp enough to even deflect arrows! Crossbow bolts seemed to stagger my character, but it didn't do nearly as much damage! Being defeated over and over by Barkley made even the smallest victory a savored experience. Knowing the lack of input both Urving and Barkley’s characters required, an heir of pride formed in the back of my mind. It takes so much effort on my part, I felt like I was actually fighting… with my fingers at least…

“Die, you fool!” A warlock in the game cried, but it was subtitled gibberish.


“Not gonna happen…” I whispered off hand to myself as I knocked him out with only a few punches.


Inside, my heart was heavy at the enjoyment of slaying digital lives. I understand the difference, I’m not a psychopath, just… It feels awful enjoying it so much. I keep telling myself its for the points, not the souls per se. I’m not an idiot either, they don't really have souls! Lately I have been doubting the presence of my own soul… Will I ever be able to put this in the past? I don't deserve to escape this haunting horror, but it cant control my life forever, right? On my tombstone will they mark me as a murderer? Did… did Dalton get a funeral? Of course he did! Of… course…

“Man it is hot today!” Barkley declared as the door slid shut.  “Here ya go, no mustard like you asked.”


“Thanks!” I only glanced at him, so not to die in game. “Gimme a sec, almost done…”

Barkley didn't say anything, he just started eating, his tiny glazed over eyes a testament that he was feeling it heavily. He probably doesn't get to smoke as much as he used to, what with his wife pregnant and all. Then again, I don't really know him that well… This game has never been so stressful! Having Barkley here really puts pressure on me, but I think my performance was admirable. Nothing special, but I didn't die! Why does another pair of eyes on the screen make this so taxing?

“You b***h, how could you-. When you buy one now, you get-. Today on the Helen De’gen-. We have a fantastic match for you tonight! The tail toting terror, Eviscerine, VS the deadly damsel, Killonia!” Snapping through channels, he settled on wrestling.


Barkley is dangerously stereotypical… He is such a standard “guy” I could probably pretend he was human! Not that his canine heritage is a problem, technically I share it in some paralleled concomitancy. Having a problem with him being an anthronian is somehow worse than being racist in my eyes. It would be like them hating humans, regardless of our nationality, ancestry, or personality. I imagine some of his kind, other anthronians will have a problem with me… hate me without knowing why they should.


“Oh s**t, get her! Beat that pussycat down! GO B***H!” Barkley called to the television. “Aww, damn that had to hurt!” The feline had clawed one of the she-wolfs ears open, as she choke slammed her to the mat.


Violence here is viewed so differently. Never on earth would this be allowed on national television. Wrestling felt more like a death match, where before it was more like a performance. It went from spectacle sport to arena bloodshed with but a change of culture. Seeing blood makes me uncomfortable… It was harder to pretend it didn't, as the poor gal was shedding it profusely. Still, with a crimson coat, this wolf woman was able to lift and throw the feline clean out of the ring. The sound her impact made with the hard stone floor was mortifying, but her cries of agony were far worse. Wailing like she was skinned alive, the lioness clutched her shattered ankle and rolled about in anguished suffering. Watching her try to stand as the clock counted down was so painful, the bones in her leg didn't even look solid anymore... Unable to stand, she submitted to defeat with a hand gesture and the crowd exploded with mixed results. Some praised the winner, some threw things at the loser, but everyone began the uproar only violence can spawn. I… I wont be watching this regularly… Disgust for what I was witnessing made me queasy and led me to not finish my food.


“Ya full kid?” Barkley’s concern was unnecessary, I don't need to be pampered…


“Yeah, thanks! Do you want me to ask Urving to pay you back? I’m sure he’ll offer, but I-.” Barkley laughed after a stunted stare.

“No, just… no. You’re a good kid!” He nudged me and shook his head with shocked laughter.


“You call me “kid”, but I’m twenty, almost twenty one years old!” It was a little aggravating, but I managed to not sound bothered.

“Oh, wow, twenty one!” He teased me, his paws at his muzzle to show fake shock. “Being that I am literally twenty years older than you, I think I deserve to call you kid.”


“Y-you’re forty years old?” I was stunned into near silence.

“Well don't act so surprised! Yeah, I met D, maybe, twenty-two years ago. She’s really matured me.” He laughed at my shock, holding his side. “I’m forty two actually.” He added jabbing me with his elbow again.


“Well… y-you… you totally act your age, it’s hard to tell!” This joke caught him just right and he continued laughing.


“What’d ya think I was a pup?” He mocked himself, putting a claw through one of his gauges. “Nope, I’m an adult dog, ready for pups of his own!” At that moment I noticed the graying fur in his caramel colored splotches.

“Delia looks good for her age.” I mentioned off hand, after we laughed a moment.

“Be sure to tell her that! It’ll net you a lot of points!” How can he be that old, older than Urving, yet act like a frat boy. “Check this out, who's that?” Barkley showed me a photo of himself and… Delia?


What I was seeing was not real, this couldn't be… The photo on his pager was of Delia and Barkley, however long ago, when they just woke up. Her face was not warm, inviting, or even happy. The frightened, swollen, motherly mutt I would have described her as just a few days ago was nowhere to be found. Nothing about her was the same… Is Barkley just messing with me? This cant be the sweet, tender, cautious, and concerned animal who was afraid of me just a few days ago…


She had just as many, if not more piercings! Her nose, her ears, her muzzle (lips), and even her eyebrows! Her fur was dyed a fiery crimson, which faded into a pinkish color at the back of her jutting Mohawk. A leather jacket with spikes on the shoulders was crudely hanging from her upper body, but beneath that was a shirt that just said “Doggy style” in bold letters, which made me laugh. The pissed off look she held and the fact she was flipping off the camera made me do a triple take, before I realized it really was her! Her tattered jeans weren’t buttoned and the one of the pockets was hanging out. The free paw was clasping at her purse, which was strewn across the ground. A crumpled cigarette hung from her teeth, barely gripped at all.


Beyond her appearance, the way she stared, her eyes… Menacing in a way, like restrained violence or pent up negativity. It took me a second to notice, reading emotions on these creatures is difficult. But I know this kind of stare… Holy crap, she’s so sweet and innocent, what the hell did Barkley do to her? Better question what did she do to him? What were the two of them like back in these days? He was probably a walking nightmare of insults and crass carelessness, but I cannot imagine Delia being that way. Then again, I really don't know either of them… I don't even know Urving that well yet!


“Wow, she doesn't look like the same person!” I exclaimed, taking his pager from his grasp.

“Yeah well, people change! Delia doesn't want to be this anymore…” His voice was longing, wishful, but loving all the same. “God she was a psycho…” He said this with heartache, the man wants this back…


“You two must have a lot in common then!” Poking fun yet again, Barkley just smirked.

“I was such a pansy compared to Delia, she was… unstoppable.” Admiration was apparent in his already bright voice. “Our pups are gonna be little monsters!” We both laughed, it feels good to laugh…


“I promised, if you ever need help-.” Barkley chuckled, interrupting my otherwise serious moment.


“Thanks Spaz, you can take em for their walks!” Barkley’s mocking is light hearted when he’s smoked. “No, no, really… It’ll be good for them to meet a human early on in life!” Hearing this brought a grin to my face.


“I’ll be the best roll model I can!” Being high right now made this a joke, kind of. “I know martial arts, so I can teach them to defend themselves.” He stopped me with a mocking stare.


“That's all I need, them breaking each others arms or kicking teeth out!” Shaking his muzzle, Barkley slid a paw up to his eyes. “Guarantee you some of em’ will already be doing that!”

“Well at least they can learn how to do it properly!” Speaking in a professional tone made this funny on some level.

Barkley’s eyes went hazy with fondness, scanning the table top. His words became a mish-a-gosh of future plans, fortified excitement, and inclusion phrases, aimed at me. It was like he wanted to talk about his family exclusively, but knew he needed to include the other in the conversation. Knowing how he can regularly be, I just played along. Having what I have had on my mind made this easy.

From meager things of the household to complicated financial matters, Barkley took me through his plans. It was interesting, hearing one of them break down finances and fiscal responsibility. Super ironic it ended up being Barkley! Tapering down to simple facts and statements about his plans for the future, I awaited the topic to change. His unborn pups are certainly important, but I am just getting sick of talking about them.

The day rolled on, each minute feeling longer than the last. Smoking made me tired and I fell asleep, only to be taunted upon waking by Barkley. Being called a “light weight” is the least of my concerns, as I panicked in my sleep. It was difficult to keep it together, even with such a silly face awaking me. Video games were already on, but I had no drive to play, I was coming down. Ransacking the fridge, I scraped together some leftovers, which made a good enough snack. Barkley picked at it relentlessly, but I wouldn't say anything, not today at least. I’m happy to share, it’s the least I can do…


Switching my vision between the game and the clock, I awaited times progression with ceaseless apprehension. There was no reason to do so, but something made it unavoidable. A small part of me was restless, I needed something new to happen. It was nothing personal on Barkley, but I was ready for him to leave. Again, nothing personal, I just want the house back to normal. Checking my pager again I sighed at the lack of messages, then tried my best to type one to Urving. These pagers can send text messages as well, it just isn’t easy for me, considering I have to use a translator. Why couldn't it have come in a slick pair of shades or techy goggles? No, a freaking monocle... After correcting my errors and putting a few final touches, I sent my message to Urving. It was really simple, nothing out of the ordinary or important, so I didn't put much thought into its contents. Hopefully it doesn't feel empty or get him in trouble at work.


“Oh did you see that? I wrecked that fool!” Barkley exclaimed, showing he had achieved another victory.


“Yeah, he didn't stand a chance!” I added, not really knowing what we spoke about.

“Sure you don't wanna jump in? It’s all good if you die.” Barkley offered again, but I just shook my head.

“No thanks. It’s fun seeing it from another perspective.” I lied, this holds no interest right now.


Not that seeing Urving will be more interesting than a videogame, I just… It will be more like home when he’s here. Calm, more natural, if that makes any sense… This did give me an opportunity to examine Barkley’s character from a more revealed angle. His teleporting had a very long recharge time and cloning only allowed his actual form to move to the left or right, I’ll need to remember that! Those two flaws aside, I had a very hard time finding an exploitable weakness! I’ll have to find a way to cripple his speed, but I don't know of anything that can.

Time spent quickly became, time wasted. Literally, I started counting the seconds, every sixty signaling I should peek at the clock. Parts of me began feeling like I did back in school, desperate to escape this boredom, but understanding its necessity. Even though videogames are not important, it has been something I can open up over, it’s something normal… Barkley’s repeated slaughter of his digital opponents led me to notice a pattern. He seems to circle at first, throwing knives, then charge in and duplicate himself to finish his foe off. It was incredibly effective and only a few times did I see someone survive or counter it. Before long (too long for me), the door sprung open and Urving’s voice filled our household.

“Yo, wassup guys?” He called excitedly, even before seeing us.

“Sup bro? Good day?” Barkley responded, still lounging and playing.

“Hey Urving! Good to see you.” I was far more excited than I normally allow myself to be, but it felt good. “How was work? You alright?” I tapped my own nose, but he just scoffed.

“Course, told ya I was! Look, see?” He wiped his nose on his white sleeve, leaving nothing behind but sweat. “It’s really nice you care so much though.” Urving pat my shoulder.

“What ya guys talking about?” Barkley joined us in the entryway.

“Issac saw me bleeding after a tussle at the club, he was worried.” Cringing as I listened, I knew Barkley would tease me.

“Well aint you sweet?” Barkley clutched his paws together and spoke like a southerner. “Really though man, you good?” Snapping back to seriousness in an instance, he showed his own concern.

“Of course! He was hardly even tall enough to get me in the dome. I’m fine!” Hearing it in person was more convincing.

“Awesome, well hey, I’m gonna take off… I hate leaving D all alone.” Barkley’s voice held an heir of vulnerability, but I ignored it.

“Course, tell her hi for me! Thanks for keeping Issac company, you need some fuel credits?” Urving asked, removing his suit coat.

“Nah, thanks though! You guys have a good night. Thanks for hanging with me Spaz!” Barkley bumped knuckles with me.

“Thanks for coming by. Say hello to Delia from me as well.” Returning a goodbye, he waved once more then was gone.


“Will do, see ya.” Barkley called back, rushing through the night to his beastly vehicle.

It isn’t friendly, but I was happy Barkley didn't linger. My excitement to see Urving had been growing all day, so at this point it is paramount. Hell, even now I am thinking of what to talk about. What going on in my life, would be interesting to him as well? This matters little, as just plain old happiness can set Urving off. Soon he emerged, shirt in hand, revealing his truly gargantuan stomach and hulking frame. Watching cloth slide over fur, straining to contain his mass, I couldn't avoid chuckling. Where does he go to buy clothes? Are they new or did he have them before he planned to get me?

“Great to see ya pal! How was your day?” Urving asked after scratching his back against the wall.

“Good and you? I… I missed you bro.” Part of me was strung up by what I just said, but he wasn't.

“Me too! You don't know how sad it was coming home before you were here!” Giving me a big hug, I felt tiny warmth where my heart once was. “I love seeing you buddy!” A short growl followed this, as he kissed the top of my head.

“Me too! Th-thanks…” My words stopped him from entering the kitchen.

“What for?” Urving’s tiny confused muzzle looked like a teddy bear.

“Thank you for being so patient, for letting me into your home…” Self-conciously scanning the rug, I tried to avoid the fact I was speaking at all.

“Oh stop that! We’re friends! I just want to make sure you’re comfortable. This is your house too Iza, remember that!” Urving turned to me and gave this little heart to heart.

“Thank you…” Fighting tears, I pat his shoulder and he returned the gesture. “Do you think I could have a cigarette?” It felt odd, I have never had an adult figure who I could openly ask.


“Course, they’re in my room on the nightstand.” Urving was reading a boxed meals instructions, squinting without his glasses.


“Thanks!” I called back heading into his room.


The box has Saturn depicted on the pack and it said something in gibberish, but in cool sharp text. Coaxing a single cylinder out of the box proved harder than I would’ve thought. Without trying, I accidentally tore the package and removed one. This caused several others to scatter to the floor. Shaking my head, I began pinching them up delicately. Sliding each one back into its place, I set the cardboard box back where I found it. Something caught my eye then, as I turned to leave from inside his room. Gulping, I approached the closet and slid it open further. I could see it up there, my file, but that isn’t what grabbed my gaze. Thumbtacked in place, just below a calendar, was a heartwarming sight. The familiar image of a tiny human sprawled across his huge, hugging bear caused a small gasp of joy. Urving had cut out part of the box my bed came in! It looks like he took great care to avoid leaving frays or damaging the edges. Frozen by the compassion displayed and the gratitude felt, I just stared. Both tiny sets of eyes were little happy arches, showing sleep was pleasant for both parties. Does this… Is he… Why would he save this?

“What’cha doing bud? Can’t reach em?” Urving called, his shadow lumbering toward the hall.


“Nah, just takes me a while to get around this place.” We both laughed at my tiny steps and how many it took to reach the couch.

“Hopefully you’ll get taller with age, that’d help.” Urving chuckled, leaning up and over the counter to peer down at me.


“Fo sho, but I’m not certain if I’ll ever be big enough for this place.” An uneasy chuckle made him react in a big way.


Whisking me off the floor, he pretended to fly me up and set me on his shoulders. At first I panicked, unsure of what was happened, but once settled, I couldn't avoid my smile. Urving made a game of showing me how “tall” I was now! He would go over to the cabinet and ask me to grab a pot or pan, which he could’ve reached, but was at eye level with me. Backing up, Urving asked me to open the ceiling vent and I obliged, blowing my smoke in that direction. Soon though he returned to cooking and I was left to hang on for myself, which wasn't a huge ordeal. What I wondered, but didn't ask, was if my clutching his ear or fur hurt? He never complained and once or twice even invited me to do so, but it has to be uncomfortable! After preparing a kind of stir-fry made with salmon, he offered to prepare me something, then headed toward the couch. He purposely plopped down, so I would be thrown from his shoulder and to the couch, but it was a jovial action, not one meant to banish me.


The TV turned on and I was lost in my desired normality and complacent joy. This place, my new home, will never be what I long for, but it is enough to drown away fear. Urving and I enjoyed a movie about crooked cops and cartels, it even had a human or two in it! Really funny seeing human actors, going about their business, as if this was any other Hollywood production. Will I see some celebrities? Was the president captured? If so, does he have a seat in this worlds government? If anyone remains on earth it is probably the highest ranking officials and richest powerhouses. Still, the way humans are treated, even in cinema, is disturbing… It was as if our entire species, was put through a juicer and our drive was extracted. Seeing humans and being pampered myself, it just feels wrong. We are a species of thinkers, builders, explorers, and creators, not pets! They maybe stronger and more advanced, but we shouldn't just accept our place at their feet!

Urving burst into laughter at a simple nut shot. The event itself wasn't particularly humorous, but his reaction made me smile uncontrollably. Even though I’m having domestication stuffed down my throat, Urving isn’t to blame! He’s sort of a simpleton, not that I meant that in a bad way! Simplicity sounds like a great life at this point. Finishing his food, he slid the plate across the coffee table and put his paws(feet) up. Snapping through the channels, Urving seemed really tired. His normally alert eyes and unfading smile were dull. The bright amber in his eyes was all but gone, two tiny beads of brown stared and flickered with the TV. His mouth was a stretched downward line across his muzzle, but it would crack apart to smile or show intrigue with the shows he watched. Television holds little interest to me, I absolutely despise subtitles now! This only makes their shows more intriguing however, as I have no real insight into what’s going on!


A sound suddenly seized the room and I shook with fright for a split second. Urving’s maw was wide open, his head back, and he released the loudest snoring you could ever imagine… My body reverberated from how powerful of a sound and force this was. Beyond this, the window behind the couch appeared to wobble with each exhale. Sitting stunned, covering my ears, I realized I was actually moving from the vibrations in the couch! This is ridiculous… Hopping off the couch I went into my room, hoping I can use the TV in there. Before I shut my door, my heart tugged at me and I felt something stir. Creeping, swiftly and silently, I fetched Urving’s blanket from his bed. The enormous mass of fabric and cloth smelled of faded flowery detergent, which I recognized from my towels as well. Carrying this lump was unruly, but my task of throwing it over Urving went better than I thought! Reaching up, with a small hop, I pulled the blanket down a little, off his face. Shutting off the TV, then turning out the light, I said goodnight in a loud whisper. No reason to stay up really, I’ll head to bed myself.

© 2017 Thatonedawg

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Added on August 12, 2017
Last Updated on August 12, 2017
Tags: Bear, Burdens, Anthro, Novel, A, Story, Thank, You, For, Reading, Help, Me, Get, Better, Hope, Change, Friendship, bare burdens of life, love, loss, betrayal, heartbreak, aliens, tragedy



Sacramento, CA

I have been writing for a long time. My father was a writer and he always encouraged me to do so as well. Sadly he never read any of my work or even cared for that matter. I just need to know that som.. more..