Posts Tagged ‘Dog Pound’

A dog face peered intently at another dog face and sighed in an all-too-human way. A human voice, too, issued from the ebony muzzle with a weary, “Why did you do it?”

The other dog-head issued its own human response from its dark brown muzzle: “Do what?”

“Leave a witness,” answered Hellhound from behind the dark, slick, heavy rubber of his canine mask, his eyes hidden behind moss-green lenses but his voice making it clear his gaze was stern and annoyed.

“He was just a kid,” Dog Pound said, unzipping the mouth of his mask’s muzzle area to breathe more freely, his gaze visibly confused through the open eye holes. He couldn’t figure out how Hellhound kept from passing out with only two small nose holes and a thin, short slit where his mouth was. Dog Pound’s own canine-themed leather mask was better ventilated than Hellhound’s by far and even so, he felt lightheaded in short order, especially under exertion.

“He’s still a witness, and you took your mask off, too? You’re an idiot.”

“I doubt he could do a very good job of giving a description and I was about to die of heatstroke; it was a fucking hot night.”

“You go shirtless when you’re on the prowl, you pussy,” Hellhound snapped. “I’ve got a full rubber mask, a unitard and body armor when I go out. Point is, the kid saw your face. Doesn’t matter if he can help the police ID you; fact is he’ll see your face over and over in his dreams. You killed his goddamn father right in front of him.”

“So? At least I killed the person best qualified to be a good witness, and a rich one at that.”

“I took you on as an apprentice to teach you, Dog Pound; haven’t you learned anything? Since at least the ‘70s, we’ve been living in a world of costumed heroes and villains who seem to follow similar memes as in the comics. What happens in the comics? What happened with the character Batman? Bruce Wayne.”

“Dude killed his rich mom and dad in an alley for their money and he grew up to hate criminals. Put on a bat costume and then hunted down crooks and shit, including the guy who killed his parents.”

“This kid could be your future Batman, you stupid shit.”

“Slim chance of that,” Dog Pound said.

“But you don’t know, do you? He could be transhuman for all you know. He might already be a Brain with a photographic memory. He might hit puberty and become an Acro or a Brute and one day track you down and tear you up in a fight. Fact is you left a witness you shouldn’t have. He might not put you away or get revenge on you, but every goddamn witness you leave is one more potential person on a stand to get you convicted or maybe even be your future arch-nemesis. We transhumans are messed up in the head—every last one of us. We’re wired to do crazy shit like obsess about someone who fucked us over and then build a costumed life around it. A lot of us, anyway.”

“Like you?” Dog Pound said. “You never did tell me your back-story.”

“And never will. I’m the master and you’re the apprentice, Dog Pound. We will never be equals. But I do know that you used to have to run dog fights for your crazy uncle. And he made you do bare-knuckle boxing and shit against other kids for money. And you couldn’t resist asking me to teach you the ropes when you put on a mask, because I had a canine theme, too. See? We’re fucked in the head. And the only reason I took you on is ego and vanity. Touched in the effin’ head.”

“All right, all right. I get it. I’m not gonna leave witnesses again. Guess I’d better steer clear of marks with kids, ‘cuz I don’t know about killing no kids,” Dog Pound said.

“Do what needs doing if you’re going to wear a mask,” Hellhound said. “If you’re going to be half-assed about it, get a damn day job behind a desk.”

* * *

Dog Pound awoke in his small house in the middle of the night, realizing someone was there. He stayed as still as he could while trying to get his bearings in the dark, his lean-muscled body tensing—ready to teach the intruder what it felt like to be hit by a Brute, even a relatively low-end one.

“Suit up,” came a soft but firm command from the shadows, and something landed on Dog Pound’s face. Just before Hellhound switched on the light, he realized the other man had tossed him his mask.

“I didn’t think we were on tonight,” Dog Pound muttered groggily, not having seen Hellhound in the three days since his lecture about witnesses, revenge and legacies and whatever the hell else he had been on about.

“We weren’t; we are now. Be ready and be in your garage in five minutes,” Hellhound said. His expressionless black dog mask gave him an implacable air. “We’ve got a really special job.”

* * *

They pulled up to the edge of an expansive estate in one of the few parts of Lark County that wasn’t within the borders of New Judah, and Hellhound motioned his protégé to get out. A few paces away from the side of the road, he said, “Grab the ladder,” pointing to the low grass near the property’s border.

“Why is there a ladder here…”

“Shut up, put your muscles to work and bring it with.”

Hellhound led them to the back of the mansion there, and pointed to an open window on the third floor. Dog Pound was confused for a moment, then remembered the ladder and got it extended and propped up as quietly as he could. Every tiny scrape and click, though, sounded like a clarion going off to him.

When the ladder was in place, Dog Pound scratched at an itch underneath a layer of fresh sweat running down the back of his neck, and whispered, as he looked at the wide-open window, “People this rich, you’d think they’d have air conditioning. Hot night.”

“They do have air conditioning, and it’s on, and it’s turned way the hell up, and they have windows open for fresh air,” Hellhound answered conversationally. “That’s how wasteful and self-entitled rich people are. I’m going up first; come up a few feet behind me. Be quick and be quiet.”

When he finally struggled through the open window, finding himself in a room decorated with posters and littered with robots and action figures, Dog Pound saw Hellhound standing over a bed, his hand over a child’s mouth and a small bedside lamp turned on.

“Take off your mask,” he ordered Dog Pound.

“Why?” he started, and then felt a sharp stab of pain in the middle of his forehead that seemed to radiate down to his eardrums and Adam’s apple.

“Take. It. Off.” Hellhound said quietly, and his apprentice relented, unnerved by the sudden pain and its timing so close to showing reluctance toward his mentor. Turning his mask toward the boy in the bed, Hellhound said to the boy, “Do not yell or scream, or I will kill you and everyone else in this house—your sister, your brother, your mother, the maid. Everyone. Do you know that man?”

At first the child said nothing, then nodded slowly.

“Speak up,” Hellhound demanded.

“Yes,” the boy said timidly.


“He killed my dad.”

Grabbing the child roughly by his cheeks with one black-gloved hand, Hellhound turned the boy’s face to look directly into his own mask. “And how do you feel about him doing that?”

The boy’s eyes filled with tears and he whimpered a little, but said nothing.

Hellhound turned back to Dog Pound. “I think he’s a little afraid of what the answer would mean to his safety,” he told his sidekick. “But I can see it in his eyes, underneath the tears. He hates you.”

“How did you find him…”

“You took every valuable thing from his father, and a lot of that value was in his wallet. Not just money and cards, though. Driver’s license, dumb ass. Thought we’d take a field trip. You left a witness who hates you now, and will keep hating you more and more as the years go on, especially now that you’ve paid him a new visit. Someone who will one day inherit a bunch of his daddy’s money. Maybe all of it.”

“I get it already, Hellhound! I get it!” Dog Pound hissed. “It won’t happen again.”

Without a word, Hellhound yanked the boy out of the bed and tossed him through the open window.

Dog Pound thought the sound of the child striking the low stone wall of the rose garden below was surprisingly soft, all things considered. Still, his gut clenched and he felt a little tremor of nausea flutter in his belly.

“What if he’s not dead?” Dog Pound asked haltingly.

“Then you’ll finish the job,” Hellhound responded, “as soon as we get down there. He’ll keep for a couple minutes, though.”

“I swear, it won’t happen again.”

“Yes, it will,” Hellhound said. “I’m going to look up some of his daddy’s friends and track them and we’ll surprise one of them some night after dark when they’re with one or two of their kids someplace dark and quiet. And you’ll kill those kids right in front of me, right after you kill the grown ups. In for a penny, in for a pound. Your messes are my messes, and your hands will be at least as bloody as mine.”

Dog Pound put one gloved hand against the wall to steady himself. Too much, too fast. This wasn’t the kind of thing…

“I can’t do it. I can’t do shit like that, Hellhound.”

A ravaging wave of something like fire and electricity seemed to run through his brain and ricochet off the inside edges of his skull, and Dog Pound almost lost his balance. Then the pain was gone.

“I’m the alpha male of this fucking pack. Don’t forget it. I can give you reminders in pain, or rewards in more pleasant ways. You’re mine, and you’ll do as I say.”

Dog Pound felt a retort on the tip of his tongue, and then felt a tiny lick of pain up and down his upper spine, and bit the words down. Instead, he said, “Yes. Yeah. Got it.”

“I don’t much like the idea of leaving potential vengeance-laden legacies, no matter how unlikely it is that kid would pull a corny Batman-style move from the old comics,” Hellhound said. “But I am liking the idea of the whole sidekick and minion legacy. You’re my bitch. The first of several. You’ll do what I say, and if you do it right, you might be the Beta male, and you might get a taste of any ass I recruit. I’ve got my eye on a wolf-masked woman going by the name of Stalker who’s working Marksburgh right now, and a few other people, too.”

“Teams never work out,” Dog Pound said. “You hardly ever see any…”

“Superhero teams rarely work, because people with morals have trouble funding a headquarters and paying for it and all the bills, and they always want to talk shit out instead of having a strong hand in charge, and they get sued for property damage and all that. You and all the others will be my crew. Not a team. Minions. Dogs to run and jump where I say. Period. Like I said, you can be number two if you start learning my lessons well, or you can be bottom bitch.”

Dog Pound hesitated a split-second, and then found himself tensing for another painful reminder of the power he hadn’t previously known Hellhound possessed. The pain scared him. The prospects of what worse things might come with disobedience scared him more.

“I’m in. Yes. I’m your man…your…your…dog.”

Dog Pound was certain that Hellhound was grinning underneath that thick, black dog mask, and the tone of the voice that issued forth seemed to confirm it.

“Good boy,” Hellhound said, and waved one hand toward the open window and ladder.