In retrospect, he should have been embarrassed, but considering the situation, and the oddity of it, nobody would blame him for doing what he did next. He rolled out the front door, pulling his gun out and aiming it straight at the figures walking up. He told them to freeze, which they did, though the one who had the gun only did so at the prompting of the others. He realized this was a mistake when the Rottweiler jumped at him from inside the station, and bowled him over into the street.
"Thank you, Randy." the man toting the weapon said, reholstering it.
"That's Obermeyer's friend." a young man said, and Will got to his feet, looking each of them over carefully. All of them were human, an oddity for Barken at this hour. There were two rather large men, one of them carrying the gun, a third skinny man, plus the young man that had identified him, and a woman in her thirties wearing a sentry's jacket.
"So who are you all?" Will asked.
"We're the scientists." the skinny man said.
"Come in quickly then!" Will motioned for them all to come inside.
They all gathered into the police station, each taking a seat, except for the man with the gun, who looked at the three dogs sighing, "So you guys are dogs now. Davis, Jenny, Randy, don't worry."
"How did you know I was a friend of Ted Obermeyer?" Will asked the young man.
"Oh, you must not recognize me." the young man apologized. "I'm Jason Kubelik."
"Weren't you stuck as a dog though?" Those words caught the three dogs attention immediately. Ted looked up, but was still too weak to move much more than that. The others all came over and began to sniff around Jason from all angles, licking him as they did so.
"Yes, but we found out why, and were able to reverse it. It took a bit longer than expected though." Jason told them all, smiling as he patted the three dogs on their heads.
"Yeah, three hours longer than expected!" the largest of the men said.
"So how did you do it?" Will asked. All eyes turned towards Olympia and Karpan, both of whom were smiling contentedly.
It took some time to explain, but they both managed to everybody's satisfaction. The three dogs were extremely happy to know that their shape wasn't permanent, however they seemed more resigned to lying in the sand for four hours just to be human again. It was not Jason's favourite experience, and he told them so, as he was constantly worried that it might not work, and that it was just a false hope. It had taken nearly every ounce of strength out of him to do it, but he was glad it was done. They could now begin to change people in the town of Barken back into their human forms, though it would take some time.
"Well I don't think we should simply wholesale try to have everybody go there at once." Will told them. "The folks of Cherry are planning something big, and it's happening tomorrow night, but were going to need that time to plan our defence."
"What going to happen?" Bill asked.
"Fifty or sixty Cherry men will come down here to shoot every dog that they see. By that time everybody in Barken will be a dog, unless we can do something about that." Will looked to the scientists expectantly.
"The place we need to go is the DDD." Karpan said quite resolutely. "If they stay there for a few hours, they'll be able to change back, there isn't much else to it."
"Well, there are probably a few other things I should let you all in on." Will told them, taking a side-long glance at Ted.
"What's that?" Nelson asked.
"Well, you all have no idea what has happened to four of your colleagues. I do. You see that, I guess its a dalmation over there." he pointed to Ted. "That is Theodore Obermeyer."
"Ted?" Nelson looked at dog a bemused smirk on his face. Olympia petted him, and Ted licked her hands, although he still felt too weak to move.
"Don't try moving him, I'm afraid he's hurt himself somehow. He got himself buried alive, and I just barely managed to save him. He needs to see a vet, but the vet is a dog also now."
"Here, I've had some experience with animals." Karpan offered to help his friend.
"Yeah, they've all been dead too!" Olympia prevented Karpan from getting near Ted. "I'll make sure he gets better. Show me were the vet's facilities are, and I'll see what I can do." Bryant had Bill carry Ted down to the vet's office for Olympia, who followed in close pursuit.
Turning to face Nelson and Karpan, Will continued, "I also found out that Mullins is dead."
"No!" Karpan was shocked. "How?"
"He was shot through the head while trying to transform. He is the corpse in your laboratory." Will told them, not very happy to bring this news to him. "Schwarz killed him."
"Schwarz!' Nelson nearly jumped from his seat. "That runt! Why in the world would he do something like that?"
"Because he's from Cherry. Born and raised there, he knew all along about Barken, thought to him all its residents were little demons of one sort or another. He's been waiting for his chance to strike, and boy has he dealt a serious blow."
"This is insane." Nelson said to nobody in particular.
"More insane than a town where all its people can turn into dogs?" Karpan asked him rhetorically. Nelson grunted in glum agreement. Karpan then looked back at Will, "So what about Dr. Swett?"
"He's in Cherry."
"Spying for us." Will finished his statement, and they both calmed down.
"Why'd he leave in the first place?" Nelson asked.
"I don't know. I presume they could tell us but they lack a voice to do so at the moment." Will told them, just then he heard the phone ring. He darted up from his seat, and picked up the phone, "This is Sheriff Davis's office. I'm Will Bryant, and you are?"
"Richard Swett.", he heard the voice on the other line call out. "I take it then Davis has submitted to Schwarz's handiwork?"
"Yes, he's an Alsatian." Will reported. All eyes were now fixed on him. They seemed to want to know what was going on so he put it on speaker phone. "You're on speaker phone now. I'm here with Dr. Nelson and Karpan, Olympia and Bill Budd are out taking care of Ted.'
"Hey guys. I hope the research is going well." Swett called out
"Great." Karpan told him. "We figured out how to revert the dogs in this town back to their human forms."
"That's good news, and I'm glad I have sort of good news to report. Cherry is pulling back all her scouts so they can participate in some sort of ritual that will last until they come to kill you all tomorrow night. They're calling it a theophany. However, it is still up for tomorrow night, the plans haven't changed. I trust Davis told you the plans?"
"Yup, you're all coming up through the DDD, what's that anyway?"
"The Dry Dog Ditch, it's where we've been experimenting."
"All right, well that's where you're all coming in, and then you're just going to kill everybody in town. Why the DDD?"
"That's what I was wondering myself, but they say it's because it's impossible to perform an ambush there, as there is simply no cover, it's all flat."
"Not like we could anyway, there's only six of us left, well how many sentries are still human, let me check. Oh I see there are five sentries left, including Bill Budd, which means there are ten of us, and not every one of us is battle tested and ready to fight."
"Well, you better come up with something soon, because otherwise, it's over for Barken." Swett told him quite matter of factly.
Just then bill came back into the office and said, "Olympia has got him sedated. There appeared to be some internal bleeding, but she thinks Ted will be all right."
"Ted." Bryant mulled over it for a moment, and then his eyes got bright. "Swett, Budd, everybody, I just got a plan!"
Greg had long since succumbed to the shift, and he and Mary, both now dogs, had made the best of their time. Of course now both were tired, and Greg hated the fact he had to get up to see what that noise was that was coming from the front door. He peered out from behind his door, and he saw that somebody was climbing in through the dog door. He sniffed the air, and he recognized the scent as that of Jason! Greg dashed up the stairs where Jason was straightening out his shirt.
"Hey Greg." Jason picked up the shnauzer and held him in his arms. "Would you like to become human again?"
Greg began to lick Jason's face furiously. Boy would he ever like to be human again! "Well, would you like to help me and some of my friends stop Cherry from destroying this town and every body in it?" Greg barked some, of course he would do anything to protect this town! "Then follow me." Jason said as he scrambled back out the dog door, Greg following in close pursuit.
Schwarz led the group of fifty to sixty men down the roads towards Barken. The ceremonies of cleansing over, it was now time to cleanse the earth of this repugnant mar known as Barken. Swett was with him, which made him quite giddy. He was amazed that one of his colleagues had the brains to realize the evil that was in Barken. Of course there he would watch to see if Sett did indeed kill any of the dogs, how viscous he was about it and all. Unless Swett's whole heart was in this, he too must die. There is no room for sinners at the Lord's table.
The walk to Barken had been long. They had taken several vehicles to drive to within ten miles of the place, but there they walked the rest of the way. They had started out an hour before sunset. It was now night, and they could see by the large flashlights that showed the way for them. Swett was carrying one too, and it looked to him more like a car headlight than anything else, but then again, it was his only means to see, so he didn't take it lightly.
Schwarz was keeping a careful eye out for any signs of movement. They were not a silent group, as all fifty of them were sort of more or less together. The tactics employed by the Cherry hunters seemed to have been tossed out the window this particular night, after all, there were no more humans to shot them, only dogs to be shot. If they ran away into the desert, then so what, they would die from exhaustion in a few days, and their rotting carcasses would make a good meal for the buzzards. There was no way they could lose.
As they came down the final hill before reaching the Dry Dog Ditch, Schwarz began to get nervous. He knew that he'd forgotten to spike Mullins solution. In his oversight, he couldn't believe he could have made such a simple mistake, but there was nothing he could do about it. Theoretically, they might be able to become human again if they spent enough time in this quarter, but he hoped and prayed that it was not so. In any event, he made it their first scheduled stop, so that they could mop up any humans or dogs who might have figured it out. He knew his fellow scientists weren't stupid, they could have figured it out.
It hadn't helped either when he had shot that shifting dog, but the temptation to kill it had been too great, an he had gone ahead and killed it. He knew they had found it, as its body was gone from the spot he'd left it, and it would have been too soon for the buzzards to come by and clean it up, bones and all. So they had found it. They might have figured it out, but then again, with all luck, they had probably become dogs too before they were able to discover the truth. He sincerely hoped this was the case.
Swett was getting quite anxious, though he was able to hide this. He was walking point as was Schwarz, since both of them knew the area the best, and they knew where they were heading. Swett was coaxing him in a direct path towards the laboratory, and Schwarz was simply too preoccupied to notice. Swett wondered what his friend was worried about. He looked back down at the gun in his hand. It was a small pistol, it looked like a berretta. He had a couple extra clips in his pockets in case he ran out of bullets, which he seriously hoped he wouldn't have to do.
As they neared the now dark laboratory, Schwarz began to feel more comfortable. He knew they wouldn't be asleep at this hour, so they must have become dogs, they were home free, there was nothing that could stop them now.
Swett was nearly dying in anticipation, he could hardly control his anxieties. They were only twenty feet from the laboratory, what had gone wrong? Just then all about them they heard from every direction the howls of several dogs, sounding as if trumpets, coming from al sides of them. Swett leaped into the dirt, and Schwarz screamed in delight, firing his pistol off into the night. The first gunshot lead to a great mass of firing, as the group began to shoot in all directions. Swett tried to crawl away from the group, trying to get underneath he laboratory, when Schwarz noticed him. Then with terror he looked behind him, when the cheers of the hunt gave way to screams of fright. Shining his flashlight he saw that up from the ground had popped men bearing weapons, as if they had risen from the dead, and they were shooting into the group of men, ripping them to pieces. He saw his men fall quickly, their heads collapsing, their chest exploding, their bodies being torn asunder.
Schwarz turned and looked after the fleeing Swett. With a blood curdling rage, he screamed in fury as he descended upon Swett. Swett turned over, and held the gun up to face Schwarz, but unfortunately he was not fast enough. The bullet flew through his gut, sending shivers of ice all over his body. The gun fell from his hands, as he clutched his stomach in pain. Schwarz stood on top of him, and began to pump more bullets into his stomach cavity.
"You want to save the dogs!" Schwarz scorned him, his voice rising to that crescendo he had the night before. "Then die like a dog! Die like a dog, you mutt!"
Swett felt the blood trickling out of his mouth as his former colleague continued to empty the clip into his stomach, intending for him a slow death. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a man dressed in a rather dirty suit run towards him, a gun held aloft. Schwarz saw the look in his eye, and he turned to see the man bearing down on him. "Die you demon dog!" Schwarz yelled as he pulled the gun up to face him, an pulled the trigger.
Schwarz looked in horror at the empty gun, and then a realization struck him. He was going to die. He turned to face the man bearing down on him again, and he watched as the pistol was raised to aim at his head. The seconds ticked by for what seemed an eternity. Out of the corner of his eye he could see that the fifty or sixty men form Cherry were now down to less than ten left alive, and even these were moaning and screaming in pain. Schwarz smiled a sick smile as the man drew nearer, and then he saw a bolt of light, and fell back over the ground. The smile stayed etched in his face, and Swett's last conscious memory was the sight of Dr. Gregor Schwarz smiling, with a bullet hole right between his eyes.