The whole event had to be cancelled, you know. It’s not the money. We’ll be fine there even after we return all the registration fees. No, what really hurts is the loss to our reputation.
Many people rely on us to show their progress and announce new discoveries. Skipping this decade’s event entirely puts us all behind by a decade.
We can’t have that.
So this is not really a cancellation. I mean, sure, we’ve given up the facility, told the vendors, returned fees, and such. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t hold a smaller version of our usual event after the immediate danger has passed.
So keep the training program going.
The contests will be rougher, and the program unprecedented. But they will happen. And no matter what else happens, we will know who this decade’s best bloodhound is.
In the meantime, we will continue to help the authorities. We must find all those missing, and set to rights all that went wrong unexpectedly.
I turned a corner and found myself in the back room of a tux shop. Everywhere I turned, there were penguin suits, waiting for penguins to wear them. The line of wet footprints going out the door where I had come in seemed to indicate this was a hopping joint.
The rat behind the counter looked at me askance, probably because I didn’t belong there at all. I’m not a penguin. Nope. Not a penguin. I guess a rat can’t be successful without keeping some control of his business. I can respect that. But I’m still no penguin.
When his phone rang, I took that opportunity to get out from under his beady-eyed gaze.
The wet footprints led to the fish bar next door, which I found was crowded with half-naked penguins.
The flightless birds look even sillier without their suits.
I suppose I’ll have a fish cocktail, then wander on my way before they figure out I’m an Orca.
I awake with a start to find a ringing alarm. An alarm I did not set. I am awake, but not awake, and stuck half way it seems. The alarm rings, but mutates into a voice speaking gibberish. Then it goes silent as I realize that I am not really awake.
There is no graceful way to handle that moment of fear that you missed an alarm. I do my best as I look around.
I press a nose to the only window and try to see outside too.
I am stuck in this racket. I don’t know what to do about it. I entered willingly, but I am beginning to fear that leaving will take more than the will to be gone. I was so rash to come here unprepared. I thought I was prepared, naturally. And it is only now that I am realizing how much more I have to learn.
With that, I fade back into the shadows, and deeper into sleep, hoping that a real alarm will drag me back to reality. If I left a body there at all….
The aroma was vivid, and led me away down a path. Around a bend I found a baker, lit by a lantern over his door.
Stepping inside I found a complete modern commercial bakery turning out gingerbread men by the thousands, a veritable gingerbread army. Each was dressed in uniform, and carried a full kit including weapon and ammo. Under the conditions, it was only prudent that we be armed.
My unit began to march toward the city, flanked by outriders on large dogs. There was an occasional incident of a dog eating his rider, but that was a standing risk of making an army out of something as tasty as gingerbread.
The dogs were patient, but there is only so long you can make a dog balance a milkbone on its back before it will turn and eat it.
It is virtually certain that the bone will be eaten.