Chapter TwentyMature


We walked through the wrecked streets
on silence, both of us with our own problems to think about.

Luckily, when the Research Centre had
been built, it had been built properly. In our kind of work you have to be
prepared for anything. Apocalypse, Armageddon, return of dinosaurs, giant
comets hitting parts of the earth. All eventualities have to be considered,
however impossible they may seem. There wasn’t a scratch on the place.

“Amazing! So there really is such
thing as apocalypse-proof steel! We really weren’t idiots to pay extra!”

Devin seemed surprised that the place
was still standing. I suppose he was right to be surprised. I don’t think
anything could shock me anymore though. Not after all I’d seen in the last
couple of days.

We went inside. The place seemed to
be empty.

“Let’s check the rooms on the second
floor, there’s always someone up there, always!”

Devin was half way up the metal
stairs by the time he finished that sentence. I raced after him, tripping over
steps in my haste.

“Hello? Anybody there?”

Devin called out, running down one of
the long corridors upstairs. I followed. We searched for a good while, before
hearing someone open the door downstairs. There was a whining and barking of
German Shepherd dogs, the sort of dogs that the canine department here train to
sense paranormal and supernatural activity.

Devin ran down the stairs again. I

The two guys standing inside the door
were Steve and Rick from the canine department.

“Hi guys!”

I said more cheerfully than I felt,
as I walked down the last three steps of the stairs.

“Hello Devin, hello Tara.”

Steve greeted us. Rick was too busy
trying to calm the two dogs down.

“Why do I have to take both of them?
There’s something around here driving them mad!”

Rick asked Steve, annoyed.

“You passed the exams and trained to
be in the canine department, you named the dogs, you trained them. Therefore
you control them.”

Steve said briskly.

“What’re those two called?”

I asked, trying to be diplomatic
before the two guys starting arguing.

“That one’s Sergeant and the other
one is Gunner.”

Steve said, rolling his eyes.

“Stupid names.”

He added.

“Stop being so childish. They’re
tough names for tough dogs.”

Rick argued back. He always gives the
dogs very violent names. These were quite tame by his usual standards. He’s the
reason that there are dogs here called Mauler, Demonic Avenger and Hell’s
Angel. Some of his other beloved dogs have names that I couldn’t possibly
mention! I think he forgot that they were going to be helping searches for
paranormal activity and not assisting the handling of machine guns.

“How’s Bloodlustful doing?”

Devin enquired. Bloodlustful is
another of the German Shepherd dogs, Devin’s personal favourite.

“She’s good. I have her trained to
about Grade Four by now, which is not bad, considering that she’s still very

The two were talking about the dog
for a while. Grade Four in the canine department is just over halfway into the
dog’s learning of both basic and advanced skills for detection of paranormal
and supernatural activity. It’s quite interesting and at times I wished I’d
trained as part of the canine unit instead.

Steve looked irritated.

“We’re in the middle of an
apocalypse, and all you can think about are the goddamn dogs!”

He snapped.

Rick looked affronted.

“How did you ever get to be chief
dog-handler the way you talk about those dogs?!”

Rick went on in a mad rant about the
dogs and about Steve, about how he wished he’d decided to train as anything
else, about how sometimes he cut himself because life seemed like such a
pointless waste of time. He was beginning to go completely off subject (I think
he was on the subject of how badly society portrayed enthusiasts of paranormal
activity) when Steve suggested that Devin and I should research whatever we’d
came for while he ‘helped’ Rick (i.e locking him in one of the dog kennels). So
we headed for one of the research labs.

The End

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