The dog howled as the hallucination engulfedhim, again and again, over and over. The fight he had had with the batwas short and violent, but the dog had no way of knowing that he had contractedrabies from the flying rodent. Something in his consciousness must haveknown it, though, for that was the vision he kept seeing; the wings flappingin his face, the tiny teeth tearing at his nose, the maniacal look in itseyes until the time the dog closed its powerful jaws around the delicatebody and effectively ended the life of the bat.

It lay under the tree as the wind howled around him. A storm was coming,adding to the surreality of the hallucinogenic storm that was its mind.He remembered some things from his pre-rabid life; that his name was King,he lived in a warm house that he could not find, and he was going slowlyinto a realm of insanity its undersized brain couldn't comprehend.

Tommy Tucker ambled his bulky form down the street. He was an overweightchild, and he was mildly retarded, so he didn't really see himself as everyoneelse did. He percieved himself as Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he thoughthe was tough enough to fuck a rock, if he so desired. But he didn't feelso mean tonight. His dog was gone, the dog he had been given for his fifthbirthday. He was eleven now, and he had become very much attached to theanimal, enough so that he brooded a lot since King had come up missing.His mother had given him permission to go out and look for him, as longas he was back before dark. But he was late, his simple mind having troublewith the concept of time, and he was out in the dark by himself, and hewas a touch frightened.

It had been a couple of days since king had disappeared. Tommy noticedthat the beast had been acting strangely lately. He had been indifferentwhen Tommy came home from his Special Education classes, and had merelypawed at his dinner of scraps and canned dogfood. Normally, the dog atehugely and noisily. Something was wrong, and Tommy wondered with his limitedbrain capacity whether he was responsible for the dog's unhappiness.

The wind whipped under the tree where the dog was hidden. Pitbulls arenone too smart to begin with; insane pitbulls are nothing short of stupid.The dog's feelings were jumbled. It wanted in the back of its mind to gohome, where it was warm, but it had lost the capacity to find its way.It lay under the tree, and shivered every time the wind gusted. The pic-turein its mind, of the bat, kept repeating itself, in a maddening way. Everyso often, it would lift its head and moan pitifully.

Tommy shambled down the pathway behind Main Street leading to the levee.He knew he was late, and Mom was gonna give him hell for being late. Heknew she worried so much because he was "different." Different meant stupid,he knew, because the kids at school reminded him every day of his life.They were in Special Ed classes too, for various learning disorders, butthey seemed secure in the fact that he was the stupidest among them.

He heard a soft moaning sound coming from the area by the big cypresstree over the levee. Sounded like an animal. Could it be King? God, hehoped so. Maybe Mom would go easy on him if he found King.

He lumbered up the path leading up to the elm tree, and he could seea form laying beneath it; the form was curled up in a ball, but it wastoo dark to make out what exactly what it was.

The dog heard a noise from somewhere to his left. He opened one eyeto look in that direction, and saw a form coming toward him. There wassomething vaguely familiar about the form, but he was too far gone to figureout what he recognized. He let out a little whimper, and the sound of thewhimper seemed to catch the attention of the form.

"King!!" Tommy knew it was him. He was so pleased with himself thathe had found his dog all by himself. Just wait till Mom found out how smarthe had been. He ran the few yards to where the dog lay under the tree.He was so pleased that he couldn't see that the dog was sick. It turnedout to be a fatal oversight.

As he got close to the dog, he leaned forward to embrace the dog. Thedog saw things quite another way. He saw this large human sized beast withthe face of a bat, reaching out to grab him in its clutches.

And the dog went ballistic.

He scrambled out of his curled up position and struck so quickly thatTommy didn't have time to react, before the dog had ripped off his leftcheek. Blood spurted from the torn flesh. Tommy screamed in surprise andpain. He didn't comprehend exactly what was happening. He said, "King?",not believing his dog would attack him. The dog still saw only the hugebatlike creature trying to apprehend him, and went back to his attack mode.He clamped down on Tommy's left forearm, and Tommy screamed as the bonesnapped. Reality began to set in, and he struggled to get away from thedog. He struck it repeatedly on the head with his fist, to no avail. Thedog shook its powerful jaws, and the pain shooting up Tommy's arm was unspeakable.The beast released its grip and made a run at Tommy, with the intent ofripping out his throat. He didn't quite make it, as Tommy had put up hisright hand to ward off the strike. The dog's jaws closed on Tommy's outstretchedfingers, and bones snapped like kindling wood. The unbearable pain finallycaused Tommy to lose consciousness.

And then the dog chowed down.

Officer Stan Hartley shone his spotlight up on the levee. He was lookingfor a missing retarded boy, and his mom said he often went to the leveeto be alone. There, the kids didn't tease him about his disability. Fuckin'kids, thought Stan. If he had a kid, he'd beat him every goddamn day justin case he had done something Stan couldn't catch him at.

He saw what looked like a form up by the old cypress, large enough tobe a person, and appeared to be sleeping. "Better go check it out," hesaid to himself.

He got up close, and he thought his vision was playing tricks on him.The head was nearly shorn from the body, and a dog was lapping away atthe open wound. It had apparently eaten the entire throat area, and wasbusily licking and lapping at the blood, and worrying a piece of fleshfrom the shoulder area loose from the body. The dog seemed to be obliviousto the peace officer. Stan turned and vomited up the burrito he had eatenfor dinner, and it lay steaming at his feet. He drew his service revolverand aimed and shot. No sense worrying about hitting the kid, he was pastany pain now. The dog arched up in the air as the bullet struck him inthe neck, and he landed on his back, snapping at the air and making a strangledsound in his throat. Stan stepped up and fired two more shots at pointblank range into its head, and the beast was still. he then wrapped thebody in a blanket, and headed downtown.

The mother was hysterical when the cop had come to the door to deliverthe grisly news, and had to be sedated. The kids in school held a littleservice for him, each feeling a little guilty inside for the cruel waythey had treated their classmate. Stan quit his job with the local policeforce, and moved up to the city. A few miles away from Tommy's old house,a Doberman Pinscher was struggling with a feisty bat.