The Dog Tales #8, A Swell Guy - By Lillow Mi

   Spike loved living on the Farm even as the compelling pulls of Sugfissel, the multi-dimensional being of whom Spike is purportedly a part, tugged at him to explore the world, see new places, new dimensions and seek new opportunities. Even with these things pulling, Spike loved the Farm and loved staying put. He'd been off adventuring with Lillow on Clarabelle, Holy Boat, and now he was back and glad of it, settled in, the adventure done and no more calling. He hoped anyway, because he really felt that his adventuring days were over and thank goodness for that, he'd think, whenever he thought of it.  

   “Yip, yip yip!” a sharp voice announced. 

   Spike, who'd been lying in the early spring sunlight with his eyes closed, swatted at the sound, like a at a fly, then rolled over away from it.    

   “Yip! Yip! Yip!” the sharp, now angry voice repeated with more emphasis. Spike opened one eye and looked, then opened both and sat up, disconcerted at the sight of a small, I mean small like a Mouse, creature that was . . . Spike's eyes grew round, attached to a leash that was stretched taut as the Mouse, er, thing attempted to lunge at him, snarling and yapping. He followed the leash upward and arrived at a another disconcerting sight, a Darnalong, who fluttered her eyes at him disdainfully behind bright red cat-eye sunglasses. 

   He recognized Windy from the Clarabelle, Holy Boat, and asked, “Hi Windy, uh, what is that? And why's it snarling at me?” 

   Windy tugged at the leash and, with an angry look, the little thing subsided. “Oh, it's you Spike,” she said. “Yes, well this is my companion and certified pet Vladimir Tepesh, but you can just call him Vladdy, like I do.” Spike looked at the little thing who's sinister smile showed two large fangs and who's hungry eyes bore into him. There was a low growl, barely perceptible and Spike backed up.  

   “That's your pet?” Spike asked, amazed at the snarling, nasty little thing that was again straining its leash to get at him. 

   “Oh, you'll love him as soon as you get to know him,” Windy said, letting Vladdy get a little closer to Spike who backed up again. 

   “Get to know him?” Spike asked, wondering why anyone would want to get to know that little ball of spitting spite. 

   “Why yes . . .” Windy began, just as Rover walked up. Rover took one look at the snarling little thing, who seemed unintimidated by the presence of two much, much larger Dogs, and said “ROWF!!” so loud that Spike backed up again, but more importantly Vladdy jumped back and with a whimper and 

a frightened expression, hid behind Windy. 

   Windy seemed indignant, “I don't know why that keeps happening to you Vladdy! Gosh, Rover, why'd you do that?” 

   Rover was watching the thing with distaste, “Dunno, just seemed right. What is it?” 

   “Well, like I already said, this is my companion and certified pet Vladimir Tepesh. Vladdy, I call him.” Rover blinked, his disdain perhaps more apparent. Windy continued, “Why this is the sweetest little thing that . . .” 

   “Yeah, okay,” Spike growled, “but what is it?” 

   Windy stopped with a confused look. “Well! I must say,” now she looked angry, “I just don't see how that makes any kind of difference Spike! I mean lookit you! What's this Sugfissel thing about? Huh? Huh?” Spike's eyes got round. 

   Rover spoke,”She's got a good point Spike.” Spike looked at Rover with disbelief. 

   “Don't see anybody with a leash on anymore,” Alley remarked, strolling over from somewhere else. “Not here on the Farm, anyway.”  He sat and eyed the thing with wariness. 

   “Well, Vladdy does bite,” Windy said with a smile and a pooh-pooh gesture. “But otherwise he's a swell guy.” There was a long uncomfortable silence. 

   “Okay then,” Spike finally said, looking unsure, “So, uh, hello Vladimir. Nice to meet you.” 

   Vladimir looked around Windy's leg showing his fangs in a devilish smile, “I want to eat you,” he said in a low, oddly accented voice. 

   Spike stepped back, eyes wide. Rover said, “ROWF!” in his big voice again and also backed up. 

   Windy looked down, her eyes going round. “Vladdy! Now what did I tell you?” The thing looked sheepish and squirmed a little. “Isn't he sweet though?” she gushed, smiling at them. “Except for the eating you part. Vladdy, you apologize right now.” 

   “I'm sorry,” it said, “see, I want to eat you, I mean, yes, yes, I do, but I won't, cause you know, the leash, and all,” it glanced derisively at the leash, “so,” it shrugged, “let's be friends.” 

   With a dubious look Spike, and then Rover agreed, as long as there was no physical contact and the leash stayed on. Alley just walked away swishing his tail, back to the fringes without saying a word. 

   “Well that's that!” Windy said with a happy look. “Let's go home Vladdy.” She smiled at Spike, nodded at Rover and pulling the snarling Vladdy behind, walked away. “Maybe Uncle Mavrek will take you back now, huh?” she murmured as she dragged him away, still growling and snarling and stretching his leash tight. 

   “The thing doesn't have much charm, does it?” Spike asked, watching them go with a frown. He looked at Rover, “Windy thinks it's good.” 

   Rover huffed. “I think 'good' might have different meanings, depending on what end of the leash you're on,” he said, plopping down, watching Windy and Vladdy depart. Spike gave him a thoughtful look but remained silent.  

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