Bandit swerved to miss the hit, but his human partner easily crumpled. The man they had been pursuing stood just inside the alley and stared with dead greying eyes at the terrified canine. At this close proximity, Bandit could see details that were missed before by the police at the blockade, and the man’s skin was ashen gray, and the texture seemed to subtly move and ripple. As he stood still, it began to harden and flake, but before Bandit could pin him like he had been trained to do the man turned and lumbered off into a labored run. Bandit sniffed at Torres and smelled the faint breath of life, and then some remnant of police training kicked in and Bandit shot off like a rocket to pursue the perp.
The gray-skinned man’s head start took him out of the alley and into the next street, where a crowd of unsuspecting people gasped and ran out of his way. He was barreling down the street like a battering ram, and luckily no person got in his way. Bandit exited the alley just in time to spot him rampaging through trash cans, newspaper stands, and finally a street light which all inexplicably crumpled before his hulking mass. He seemed only slightly bigger than the average human, but the evidence before them was undeniable. Some of the bolder citizens started to take out their smartphones and take video, and one of them was so engrossed in his digital screen that he didn’t see the street light collapsing and pulling down wires and other steel infrastructure with it.
Bandit kept an eye on where the flannel pattern of the escaping perp went, but first he veered and sprinted towards the young man that was in imminent danger. Luckily, there wasn’t time for fear; there was only time for action. The sable German shepherd pushed off strongly with his back legs and reached for the human just as he had turned to look in horror at the collapsing wires that were reaching out like whips to entangle him in a sleep that would last forever, and the crunch of the broken steel falling left a sickening feeling in his stomach.
A furry mass pushed the young man under the awning of a storefront and the metal poles and sheets clattered uselessly on the sidewalk in the center of the city’s onlookers. The last fibers of the wires gave out and the street light collapsed in the middle of the street and cars veered to narrowly miss it. Traffic ground to a halt and drivers started to leave their cars to stare ominously at the massive gray figure that disappeared into the subway system.
Bandit looked up into the shocked face of the youth he had just saved and gingerly licked his cheek before he vaulted back into action towards the subway station. He carefully, but hastily sidestepped down the stairs that intimidated every canine, and it only took a moment for the sharp eyes to acclimate to the lower light. He heard the shouts first. The mass of people in line for the subway, or those who had recently gotten off one, were bunched up in groups and pointing at a figure that was quickly disappearing into the darkness. The docked subway train was suffering dents and scratches as the figure tried to push himself through, and the train dangerously rocked on the tracks, almost lifting off completely.
The police dog edged forward carefully on the platform and his chiseled muzzle peeked around the concrete corner. The dark figure was disappearing down the line of the train and Bandit’s sharp eyes carefully tracked the movement before he slipped off the platform in pursuit. He crouched down and squeezed his vaguely lupine body against the wall and as far away from the tracks as he could get.
He was gaining length on the slow-moving target, who was struggling to squeeze out into the open. The gnashing noise of the vandalized train rang warning bells in Bandit’s head, and he froze in fear. Instead of moving forward, he put his head down and waited for the noise to stop. When it did, he looked up to scan the area for the perp, but the figure was gone in the darkness.
The train started to move forward by a few rotations, and thoroughly spooked, Bandit shot forward until he was past the train and into open air.He sniffed around trying to find the scent of the man. It was odd and reminiscent of construction work, but his canine mind couldn’t place the material. He moved forward to what he saw as a bright light in the distance.
His eyes scanned the area and reflected all the light into the darkness that he’d need, and his alert ears were pricked forward and ready to catch any sound that could give his quarry away. He tentatively stepped forward as he got closer to the only disturbance in the tunnel. The smells changed, and the grime of the urban subway melted into something fresh and earthy. The canine mind was quickly confused and disoriented. Why did it smell like outside? Not even the outside he was used to smelled quite as fresh as that.
The light didn’t signify the end of the subway tunnel, as darkness lay beyond it. It seemed to hang suspended in the middle of the track, which Bandit hesitantly stepped on in order to get a closer look. The light was a simple oval that hung just low enough for Bandit to peer into it like a mirror, and that’s when the smell of the ocean was the strongest in the amalgamation of other scents.
He looked into the light and saw palm trees in the distance, but more immediately there were masses of gnarled jungle trees eclipsed by vines. What held his attention first, however, was the sight of a canine much like himself peering at him over a hunk of molten black rock with a faint green glow. The other canine, which appeared to be a young dog bright cream in color, gasped and the disturbance sent the green particles swirling towards Bandit, and they encircled his muzzle and head in a dance that slowly engulfed his entire body.
He felt the paralysis first as the neurons in his canine mind fired rapidly. The canine eyes clouded over and the scents of a tropical breeze overtook his being. He felt a pulse that seemed to be the Earth’s heartbeat and suddenly he felt as if he could sense the entire world with all of his being. It was overwhelming and his physical vessel started to convulse. There was chanting in the distance that seemed to also come from within him. It was steady, consistent, and vastly overpowering. It repeated the same phrase over and over again, and he couldn’t shake it from his canine subconscious. It echoed around him and through him, but he couldn’t decipher it. All he could do was listen to the pulse while his consciousness faded away.
Star Dog… Star Dog… Star… Dog…