“David. This is crazy.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s about the least crazy thing you’re gonna see today.”
The bathroom door burst open, and Molly came trotting out. The left half of her body had been shaved almost down to the skin. The right half was as shaggy as before. John emerged after her, brushing a layer of dog hair off his clothes.
John said, “Well, that’s done.”
Before I could stop her, Amy asked, “Why did you—”
“It was Molly’s idea. She wants to look like two different dogs when she’s coming and going. She thinks it will make it easier for her to steal food.”
He turned to me.
“That’s one complicated dog, Dave. Have you started on the bomb?”
SOCIETY IS DOOMED for one very simple reason: it takes dozens of men working months with millions of dollars in materials to build a building, but only one dumb-ass with a bomb to bring it down. John and I had scavenged the house for bomb- making materials. Neither of us knew how to make a bomb prior to today, but we improvised one by analyzing the molecular makeup of the ingredients. My head was taking on a fiery soreness, cooking like an engine run too long and too hard. I wondered, not for the first time, if using the soy sauce would shave years off my life and I realized that it probably didn’t matter.
So, using a packet of Jell- O and the innards of two smoke detectors and a pack of shredded playing cards and the refrigerant from my truck’s air conditioner and nine other ingredients, we fashioned a sticky explosive clay, mint green in color. We poured it into a tinfoil mold we made in the shape of a dog bone and stuck it in the freezer to solidify. The idea was to disguise it as something that would seem normal being in a dog owner’s front pocket, should we get caught and searched.
I sat at the kitchen table, snapping brass bullets into the one spare magazine I had bought for the Smith.
“Here’s what I think,” said John. “That facility, they’ve got to have some kind of intercom system. We sneak our way to the office where the mic is, and put the boom box in front of it. We go right for the fucking jugular: ‘November Rain,’ on a loop. While they’re all holdin’ their ears and begging for forgiveness, we go find this Korrok fucker and shove this bomb right up his ass. Or get him to eat it, if it turns out he’s a huge dog.”
I nodded and stood. The real plan, the unspoken one that hid between John’s words, was that we would die. But, we would die in the middle of what Korrok’s people would remember as the single most retarded and baffling incident in their history. We would be their Guy Fawkes. They would create a holiday about us. If we were going to wind up in the belly of Korrok, might as well see if we could make him choke on the way down.
Me and John, I mean. Not Amy.
I let out a long breath and put on my coat. I dropped in the gun and the spare magazine. John threw on his Army jacket and leaned over, unzipped the backpack and pulled out a chainsaw. He had tied a length of bungee strap to it so he could carry it slung over his shoulder. He then picked up the homemade flamethrower, not questioning for a moment what it was or what it did. He flicked on the lighter and a delicate tongue of flame licked out in front of the barrel. He nodded in approval and blew it out, then grabbed the battle- ax off the floor and handed it to Amy. She managed to hold it aloft in her one hand for exactly two seconds before she let the head clang to the floor. She let go of the handle, then dug some Chap-Stick from her jacket and smeared it on her lips.
We were loading up the Bronco when John reminded me of the exploding dog bone. I ran inside, pulled it out of the aluminum- foil mold and walked into the yard with it in my hand.
I probably should have seen this next part coming. Molly ran over, half shaved and half shaggy, and snatched the bone from my fingers.
At John’s request I’ll skip over this next part, which involved us chasing the dog around the yard for a very long time and finally John tackling her, prying open her jaws and finding no remnant of exploding bone in there.
I began to walk away from the situation in disgust when a snow- covered John, still on the ground with Molly, said, “Look!”
He was holding up Molly’s front paw. I saw nothing unusual about it, but then realized the pi- like symbol we had seen on the carcass of exploded Molly was missing from this dog’s paw. Molly licked her nose and sneezed. John stood up; Molly flipped onto her feet and trotted away.
I said, “What do you think it means?”
“Hell, I don’t know. We need the bone bomb back. Take the chainsaw and cut open the dog.”
Amy objected to this and came up with what I thought was a far more disgusting plan of trying to flush the bone from the other end of Molly. She went inside and dug out two convenience- store burritos from my freezer and heated them in the microwave until they were lukewarm.
After feeding both burritos to Molly and seeing no immediate results, John said, “All right, let’s go. We’re gonna be late for our certain death.”
WHITEOUT. THERE WAS more snow than air in the atmosphere. We went fifteen miles an hour through town, the whole place shut down under the storm. It was, I thought, an actual blizzard. I had never seen one. About halfway there, John squinted into his rearview mirror.
“What the hell?”
Red- and- blue lights swept across the frosted rear window. We all glanced at each other, figuring we could either pull over or plow through the snowstorm for the slowest police chase since O.J. I pulled over, two tires ramping up onto mounds of roadside snow. A blue, bear- like figure strode up to the driver’s-side door. I rolled down the window and felt freezing bits of snow land on my cheek. A face leaned down. I saw it and felt myself tense, my hand going right to the butt of the Smith.
It was Drake. But it was not Drake. His wide face sat there inches from mine, an inhuman blankness in the expression, like that of an embalmed body at a funeral. His eyes were pure black, no whites, no irises. I blinked, and his eyes looked human again. Human, but as lifeless as a doll’s.
Drake’s mouth said, “OUT.” He flung the word at me like a punch. I smelled a puff of breath that was chemically sweet, like a little kid after drinking too much Kool- Aid. Drake yanked open the door and grabbed my jacket, pulling me out. He clamped on my shoulders and spun me around and pushed me toward the truck. I heard the other door open and there was John, standing there, looking at Drake and knowing what I knew. Drake was gone.
The big cop pulled out a baton from a loop in his belt and smacked his palm with it.
“SO,” he said, barking the sound so that it was barely an English word. “So. Big smart guy. Big guy. Dolls and jellyfish and the night comes to life and walks on Mulholland Drive.”
He smacked his palm. His pudgy lips spread to reveal a shark’s grin. I wanted to grab for my gun but a swing with that club could break the bones in my wrist in half a second. I don’t know if I was poised to make my move or frozen in panic. At any second, the Drake thing could end this little adventure before it got started. I glanced at John, hoping he had some kind of plan. The look in his eyes said he was hoping the same from me. I looked back at Drake’s squad car and saw he hadn’t come alone. Riding with him was a muscular black cop who was climbing out of the passenger side of the car now, snow landing on his hat, grinning the grin of the freshly mad.
Drake stepped around to the grille of my truck. He said, “MULHOLLAND DRIVE! SMART GUY! THE BLUE BOX! THE BLUE KEY! THE BLUE EYE!” He swung the stick and a headlight exploded with a crash. Drake smiled again, then bent his knees and leapt six feet into the air. He landed on my hood with a thud that rocked the whole truck on its suspension. I saw Amy jump in the backseat, eyes bouncing back and forth between me and John. Molly barked, but made no other effort to help.
Drake looked down at me from his perch on my hood. He stuck the end of the baton into his pocket, unzipped his pants, and began pissing on my windshield. Urine splattered and yellowed the pile of snow bunched along my windshield wipers.
“HA! KORROK WAITS IN THE ALLEY, SMART GUY!”
Drake’s partner was disrobing. The black cop was flinging clothing into the road, mumbling to himself. He finally yanked off a pair of boxers, put his hands on his naked hips and screamed something like “tubesteak” over and over again to the snowy sky.
Drake finished his pee, zipped up. He lifted one shoe, reached down and pulled it off. He peeled off his sock and raised the foot toward me.
He stood that way for a long moment, foot raised like a photo of a field- goal kicker caught in midkick. I glanced back and saw the other cop was packing handfuls of snow onto his groin.
I looked back at Drake and finally I saw what he was showing me. On his big toe was a tiny tattoo. The pi symbol, just like the old Molly had.
“THIS IS JUST A RECORDING, SMART GUY!”
He lowered his foot and pulled out his baton again. He held it up and pointed at me with his other hand.
“NOW BEND OVER! BEND OVER AND DROP YOUR PANTS, SMART GUY!”
Simultaneously, John and I ducked back inside the Bronco. I threw it into gear and slammed on the gas, Drake still standing on the hood.
The truck lurched forward and we barreled down the road, but Drake stayed planted, crouching like an oversized hood ornament. He bellowed at me over the wind, flinging aside his hat and tossing his hair.
“WHERE YOU GOING? HA HA HA! LET’S GO INTO THE ALLEY! HE’S WAITING, SMART GUY!”
He reared back with the baton, as if ready to smash the windshield. I slammed on the brakes, the truck spun out, Drake went flying.
He vanished behind the miniature mountain range of piled snow along the road. I heard a faint scream that twisted into a howl, a high- pitched sound that human vocal cords couldn’t duplicate. I considered going to help him. The urge quickly passed. I threw the truck in reverse, stepped on the gas, threw it into gear and fishtailed down the road. I peered into my mirrors, looked nervously for him or his naked snow- crotched partner. Their car was nowhere to be seen. Molly stood and stared out the back window, shuddering and issuing a low, rumbling growl.