“Hey, Mister! Watch out!”
I’m sitting on a small wooden pier, staring morosely at some puppy navigating a motorboat through the calm waters of a secluded lake. I snarl, displaying a set of decaying teeth. My rough tongue is slowly undulating, yellow saliva dribbling down onto the wooden plank. The boat makes a sharp U-turn, splashing clear water all over my face.
I rise slowly. My decrepit bones screech in protest. I sniff a few times, enjoying the fresh air. Then I head back to the portable teleportation chamber.
I get in and say:
“Command acknowledged.” The metallic voice reverberates courteously. I start humming the second movement from Hundenberg’s Seventh Symphony in c sharp minor, Adagio doloroso, as the chamber causes my body to disintegrate into molecules and almost instantaneously assembles them again.
I’m standing in front of the Prime Minister of United Cynia.
He frowns in disbelief. That expression looks funny on a Miniature Poodle.
“My friend!” he exclaims with his habitual feigned cordiality. “My dearly ... esteemed ... comrade. It’s been too long, eh? What, it seems like that visit to the Golden Bitch was just a year ago ... Do you remember how we drank the most exquisite semi-dry twelve-year-old Chiendonnay, and then couldn’t properly count the nipples on that delightful little wench?”
“I remember”, I say, stretching my thin lips into something resembling a smile. “I remember everything too well.”
Then I draw out my laser blaster and point it at the Prime Minister.
He stares at me, his childlike brown eyes watering, his soft, cuddly curls of white fur converging into cute little halos on his forehead.
“Adolfo...” he utters and swallows hard, his throat making a cackling sound. In my head, Hundenberg’s Seventh Symphony has proceeded to the ominous finale, Allegro feroce.
The blaster quivers slightly in my paw, but the aim is steady.
“Do you remember everything?” I ask quietly.
He doesn’t reply.
“Do you?!” I scream at him, my snout distorted in a painful grimace. Images begin to gush forcefully into my brain, and the whole world starts swirling in my head, spinning and whirling until it disappears in the dark hole of my memories...
The prisoner was brought in front of the Inquisitor, draped in shabby, coarse gray rags. The dim candlelight cast foreboding shadows on the somber walls of the interrogation chamber.
“What are the charges, acolyte?” asked the Inquisitor, frowning and crumpling pieces of an old parchment in his paws.
“A most vile heresy concerning the nature of our salvation by our Lord Ben Kelev, o exalted and luminous shepherd of believers,” replied his assistant and bowed obsequiously. “Undoubtedly, it shall lead every soul professing it to the deepest circle of hell, the vicinity of the accursed Perrez.”
“Leave us alone,” ordered the Inquisitor, averting his gaze.
The assistant obeyed, swiftly closing the massive metallic door behind him.
Once he was gone, the stern expression on the Inquisitor’s face changed. There was a mournful plea in his eyes when he spoke again:
“Caoline ... Why?”
The prisoner raised her head for the first time. Even the brutal beatings she had endured could not erase the proud contours of her noble Husky face.
“You know why,” she spoke softly.
The Inquisitor rose.
“What folly has possessed you, Caoline?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. “What evil spirit, akin to the one torturing the infamous Perrez in all eternity, has bent your pure mind towards heresy?”