Little Memories of a Beautiful Life
Written by: Fern (Hyaku-Legger)
San Francisco, California
Its the most wonderful time of the year,Bess was singing as she placed the Nativity set in the living room of the house. It was nighttime on December 1st and Christmas season was on.
Flo was in the kitchen, baking some ginger bread shapes. Everything was cheerful in their little cozy house.
Sasha and Charlie were getting ready for the holidays too. Charlie had placed a little tree in the family room and they had decorated it with lovely little ornaments.
Holly, mistletoe, everything was there.
Sasha was singing carols as she and Charlie decorated the hallway of their house with little Jesus and Joseph and Mary and Angel Gabriel figures.
Sasha, thats so wonderful,said Charlie as he delighted himself with her syrup-sweet voice.
And you can hear it whenever you want, sweetheart,said Sasha as she moved over to him and tugged him playfully towards the entrance of the family room.
Whoa there,said Charlie laughing,What is it, love?
Come with me, Charlie,she said as she pranced around like a puppy.
She stopped under the doorway of the family room and Charlie smiled. Mistletoe was hanging overhead.
Oh, so that was it?,Charlie said,Well, Sashy, even if theres no mistletoe, Im always glad to give them to you.
Sasha smiled and pressed herself closer to him as she closed her eyes and kisses his nose. She then slid her lips down along his nose until she reached his furry lips.
Charlies lips felt so nice. Sasha kissed him with great pleasure. The custom of kissing under mistletoe was a mystery to her, but she was glad to follow the tradition.
Suddenly Flo and Bess came in saying hi. They walked in on them and stopped. Sasha and Charlie sat back again and looked at their friends delightedly, both blushing a little.
Er,said Bess,Bad moment to walk in on you, eh?
Not at all,said Sasha hugging Charlie like a huge teddy bear.
Flo looked up and saw the mistletoe.
Oh, no wonder,said Flo giggling.
They all laughed.
Bessie, I got you something,said Charlie, walking over to the coffee table,These are those little sets of lights that you saw the other day. I think your old ones burnt out, eh?
Oh, Charlie, you shouldnt have,said Bess happily,I I could have gotten them.
Oh, but its time for joy and cheer,said Charlie,And above all, its time to do nice things for others, isnt it? Please accept them as a token of our friendship.
Charlie smiled as he gave Bess the two boxes of Christmas lights.
Thank you very much, Charlie,said Bess,Youre sure are a super guy.
He sure is,said Sasha, hugging him again and kissing his cheek.
Oh, I brought you some ginger cookies,said Flo, showing them a small box that she had brought along with other things in a small red wagon she tugged with her tail,I hope you like it.
If you made it, of course well love it,said Charlie grinning.
Flo went scarlet.
Aww, youre so sweet,she said.
Lets have some milk with those,said Sasha smiling,And we can sit down on the sofa.
Good thinking, Sasha,said Bess.
* * *
Not all was cheer and brightness, though. In a building above, a malevolent plan was taking place.
At last, Ive gotten the hidden treasure of Beelzebub, the Crown of Submission,said a very unpleasant voice,With this Ill force any creature to obey my any command.
Belladonna was gloating to herself and brandishing a small crown which she had taken from the darkest region of hell when she had a chance. She was on a tall building, planning on what to do when she assumed control of every human, canine, feline, demon and creature alive.
And now, Ill just try it on and, get to work,said Belladonna.
Oh no, you dont,said another voice.
Anabelle was behind her, and she didnt look too happy about it.
Bothering my angels again, Belladonna,she spat out at her,Youre simply impossible.
Shut yer trap, preacher,said Belladonna,Once I put this thing on, youre history and all your spoopy little angels too.
Thats if you put it on,said Anabelle, dashing to grab the crown.
No way,said Belladonna, swatting at Anabelle with a fiery paw.
Anabelle dodges narrowly.
Belladonna quickly lifted her paws and was about to place the crown on her head when
A rushing spirit energy blast from Anabelles paw knocked the crown out of her paws and sent it flying into the distance.
Youyou littleyou,Belladonna was furious.
What, eh?,Anabelle said.
Ill get you for this,said Belladonna as she disappeared, apparently in search of the crown.
Anabelle snorted. She didnt want to ruin the prelude to the holidays telling Charlie and the others that Belladonna was behind something nasty, but maybe she would have to if things got bad.
Belladonna searched for hours, but it was like looking for a grain or rice in a mound of gravel.
The crown, unfortunately, fell through a window, in a house. The house wasyoull see as you read on.
* * *
Sasha was laughing at Charlies jokes about humans on Christmas holidays. Flo and Bess were also hooting with laughter. They were all telling funny stories as they ate the ginger cookies and drank nice cold milk. The fire was bright and the mantelpiece had been decorated by Charlie with little Noel candles and small icicles that shone with the fire.
Bess and Flo were always happy to visit Sasha and Charlie. They were always willing to make their funny bones tickle furiously as they joked about all the stuff that they had gone through.
Gee, I really got a kick out of that one,said Bess as she laughed at one of Sashas jokes.
Say, I was remembering when we battled those mobsters at the waterfront,said Flo,Do you remember that kid, Mark?
Hehe, oh yeah,said Charlie,I remember as if it was yesterday.
Completely dotty,said Bess.
I bet theyre still wondering if you returned to your planet,said Sasha.
They all burst into peals of laughed.
Do you remember that!?,Flo laughed,You were an alien from Saturn and they believed it! Personally, I would have believed it too if I was that dotty!?
Oh, yeah!,Sasha giggled,They were a weird lot. I wonder if theyre laughing as much as we are. Charlie, where did they say they moved?
I think it was Seattle or somewhere,said Charlie,They sent me a postcard from there.
Hoo, boy,said Flo,We sure are a lucky bunch of canines, eh?
You said it, Flo,said Bess,And I bet no one is enjoying this season as much as we are.
And the truth was that they were indeed enjoying the holidays a lot. Sasha and Charlie were always happy to spend time with their friends on these wonderful holidays. Christmas was in fact and undeniably the most wonderful time of the year.
Oh, well,said Bess,I think we wont be seeing them for a while.
Yeah, and I really wouldnt be so fascinated to see them anyway,said Flo.
Well, I guess its time for us to switch on those lights and see how the house looks from outside,said Charlie.
Yeah! Lets see how pretty the lights look,said Flo.
They all got up and headed outside. Charlie had a small remote switch hanging from his neck. Once they were outside, he switched the lights on and they all admired the house.
Wow!,said Sasha,Look at it!
Its so lovely, Charlie,said Bess.
Hehe, thanks,said Charlie,Just did what I could.
Its beautiful,said Flo.
They all admired the lights and saw how nice Charlies work was. He had decorated the front entrance and the balcony with cascade lights, which looked like a cascade of lights. It was truly a very nice pattern of lights he had placed.
As they went back inside to finish their ginger cookies and milk, Flo complimented the corridors also.
They look lovely,she said as she admired the little figures of the Nativity,I think you and Sasha would surely win the nicest house prize this year.
Aw, shucks,said Charlie.
Say, I was remembering once when I was living alone, before meeting you or Sasha or Flo,said Bess,Some carol singers came to the alleys to sing to the cliff dwellers. But they werent so fond of them, so they just closed their windows. I enjoyed their singing, on the other hand, and while they were looking the other way I quietly filled a little tray with gingerbread and left it to them. They thought it was a miracle.
It was for them,said Sasha,You saw in them what humans usually dont.
Humans are so materialists and empty often in what regards to Christmas,said Charlie,They dont feel the true cheer and happiness that the festivity should bring us all.
Oh well, were all lucky to have each other,said Flo smiling,Because we know how to enjoy Christmas and love each other more everyday, right?
Right,they all agreed and smiled as they sat back down again in the family room to finish their milk and ginger cookies.
It was truly a nice weather to be inside and enjoy each others company. Outside there was a cold wind that chilled to the bone. But in here, with the lovely fire that Charlie had lit, they were all warm and cozy. Sasha tugged Charlie playfully towards the fire and beckoned for the others to come and sit beside the fire.
The warmth of a fireplace is beyond comparison. Sasha snuggled close to Charlie as she savored his warm fur and the lovely feeling his closeness gave her. Flo and Bess were sitting close to each other too, watching the gentle flames as they gave off their coziness.
The silence was a bit overpowering for a moment. Sasha decided to speak.
You know, Charlie and I went walking yesterday near the park,said Sasha,And we saw a little sign that humans were gawking at. From what we heard, it seems that theyll be opening some type of Christmas tree competition.
Oh, thats a classic,said Bess,Its like that every year. Humans open a contest in which they compete by seeing who has the most creative and imposing Christmas tree. They go wild when it comes to pleasing the judges.
Funny,said Flo,Humans are really quite strange sometimes.
I agree,said Sasha.
Your tree sure is pretty, Charlie,said Bess.
Thanks, Bessie,said Charlie.
I think the cutest thing about your tree is the little train running under it,said Flo.
I think so too, Charlie,said Sasha,How did you get ideas for decorating the tree anyway?
Well, I just thought a bit and came up with something,said Charlie,Im glad you like it, girls.
We love it, Charlie,said Flo.
Charlie was pleased indeed.
I wonder if Anabelle is enjoying herself as much as we are,said Sasha,I bet shes pretty happy.
Yeah, she might come and pay us a visit in these days,said Charlie.
I hope so,said Flo.
It was rather late. Flo and Bess had to go home to get up early tomorrow.
Well, I guess wed better get going now, Charlie,said Bess, getting up.
Thanks for everything, guys,said Flo.
Anytime,said Sasha happily.
Maybe you can stop by tomorrow and have some home-made taffy at home,said Bess.
Yeah,said Charlie,Good idea.
Your taffy is the best,said Sasha.
Well, I guess well be leaving now. See you tomorrow, guys,said Flo.
Bye,said Sasha and Charlie,Take care.
And so, the two girls left, leaving Sasha and Charlie alone.
Well, I guess we ought to be going to bed too, eh?,said Sasha,I reckon youre as sleepy as I am.
Yeah,said Charlie,Well, Ill go upstairs and make the bed.
Charlie got up, but he paused when he felt Sasha pull him back gently.
Charlie, I just got a better idea,said Sasha,Why dont we stay here? Its nice and warm, and the carpet is soft.
Charlie grinned and nodded.
As he lied down on the carpet, Sasha accommodated herself beside him, taking his big foreleg around hers and resting herself in his shoulder.
Charlie,said Sasha,Do you remember when we used to play in the rain on the hot days?
Oh, how could I forget,said Charlie,We splashed through the puddles and got home sopping like two mops. It was so fun.
Sasha pressed herself a little closer to him. She closed her eyes and grinned as she remembered those moments.
Youre so wonderful, Charlie,she said.
Charlie looked at her.
Hehe, why?,he asked.
Oh, everything,she said,From the way you are to the way you look, everything about you is wonderful...
Sasha edged closer still.
And especially the way you kiss me,said Sasha.
She rubbed herself against his rough, warm fur.
Would you, Charlie?,she asked.
Needless to answer,said Charlie, and he gave her a passionate kiss along her cheek, her muzzle, and paused as he reached her lips.
Sasha smiled as she felt him pause. She could feel the tip of his nose with hers.
Thank you, sweetheart,said Sasha.
Sasha moved closer and kissed him with all her affection. She felt his heart beat close to her own and hugged his foreleg tighter, feeling the warmth and security that she had never felt before as a puppy and that only Charlie could provide her.
After a while, they finished their lovely kiss and curled up to sleep.
Good night, sweetheart,said Sasha.
Good night, love,said Charlie.
And so, they drifted off to sleep beside the warm fire and the lovely decorations.
* * *
Flo and Bess were walking back home from their shopping trip. They had bought some candles and other decorations to make their house look cheery and bright. Flo had selected some nice smelling cinnamon scented candles which she thought of placing on the mantelpiece. As they got to their house, Bess took the key and opened the door.
Oh, that reminds me,said Flo,I think I forgot to get some candy canes. I know you love those.
She left her packages in the front hall and left again.
Ill be back, Bessie,said Flo as she went out the way she came in.
Bess smiled. She was happy to know that Sasha and Charlie would come and visit them tonight. It was going to be wonderful to have them around.
As Bess accommodated all the things they had gotten in their places, she suddenly noticed that a window was broken.
Well,said Bess,Some hooligan must have thrown something at it.
She inspected the area, and her eyes rested upon a very particular thing: A small crown made of what looked like some shiny bronze-like metal, just right for her size.
Well, someone must have dropped this from an apartment and it came crashing in,said Bess,Ill see who it belongs to.
She took the crown in her teeth and headed towards the door. Butshe stopped.
There was a mirror in the front hall, and she looked at herself and at the crown.
She walked up to the mirror and looked at the crown.
Bess placed the crown on her head and looked at her reflection.
Long live Queen Bessie,she said giggling.
She stood there and looked at her reflection.
Long live Queen Bessie,she said, not giggling.
She stood there some more.
Long live Queen Bessie,she said sternly.
She turns from the mirror and looks out the window.
LONG LIVE QUEEN BESSIE, SUPREME RULER OF THE PLANET!,she yelled.
She walked out of the house.
Long live Queen Bessie, the supreme ruler of the universe to which every creature shall answer to,said Bess very sternly,I shall proclaim myself as the new leader of this planet and I shall build my empire of slaves to obey my every command! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
Somethings definitely not rightAnd somethings definitely going to happensoon
* * *
Flo returned from her errand with a can of candy canes in a bag.
Boy, Bessll love these ones,said Flo,Theyre peppermint, her favorites.
But as she walked around the corner into the alley, a very strange sight met her eyes.
There were at least thirty dogs, all neighbors, standing and looking at another one who was yelling and saying things from a high platform made from old boxes. Flo took a closer look and saw who it was.
Bess glanced at the crowd and then spotted Flo among them.
Ah, Florence,said Bess in a tone unlike her own,You are just in time, my dear.
Bess looked at the crowd and started talking loud and clearly.
Today marks a beginning of a new way of life for the whole canine race,said Bess,Henceforth, you will all obey the commands of your new leader and supreme ruler, me. Queen Bessie!
Queen Bessie? Hehahahahaha!,said a common dog with a bottle of liquor in the front row,What kind of joke is that, eh?
The other dogs laughed too.
Flo was very worried by now. Bess was not the kind to draw attention like that and then say things that had no sense. Somehow, Flo saw something behind all this.
Bess waved her paws and demanded silence.
THIS IS NOT FUNNY!,she yelled.
Hehehe,said the dog in the front row,H-here, Queenie, heres something really funny....
He offered her the liquor bottle and the others laughed.
You little fool,said Bess,Allow me do demonstrate the power of your Queen Bessie.
Bess looked at the fool sharply.
So, show us just how funny you are, you enormous buffoon,said Bess.
The other dog looked at her blankly, as if he was looking at nothing at all, and responded in a flat and distant tone.
Yes, Queen Bessie,he said.
He grabbed the bottle and smashed it on his head, drenching himself with vile liquor and blood. Everyone looked amazed.
Hear me and obey! You will all obey my every command without question!,yelled Bess.
The crowd, Flo observed in horror, all stared blankly and answered her.
YES, QUEEN BESSIE,they answered tonelessly.
Flo stepped to the front.
Bess, whats going on,Flo asked,What are you doing.
Then she saw the crown, which looked very suspicious.
Bessie, Im not sure youre feeling very well,said Flo,Perhaps, we could go inside and get some milk and some cookies, eh, and leave this crowd alone? What do you say?
Bess looked at her and smiled.
Innocent little dear, are you,said Bess,I like you a lot, Flo. You will be my second in command, and youll see that everyone does everything I do while I direct operations from a neutral position.
Bessie, Im serious, youd better get inside and,Flo started.
That was not a request. It was an ORDER!,said Bess.
Flo suddenly lost consciousness, and the next words that came out of her mouth were flat and toneless.
Yes, Queen Bessie,she said staring blankly.
Flo stood beside Bess and Bess started to speak.
Now, as your new leader I must first be treated as such!,yelled Bess,YOU! The ones in the front row! I command you to bring to this alley the finest drapes to decorate these dull walls.
Yes, Queen Bessie,said the dogs, and they parted immediately.
And the rest of my followers, you will divide in two groups,said Bess,The first group will build platforms for the ones that will place the drapes along the walls. The second group will build me a proper throne, fit for a Queen who is to conquer the entire Earth!
YES, QUEEN BESSIE!,said the dogs, and they too left for their chores.
All, except for you, Linda Paxton,said Bess, pointing at a particular female in the crowd, an ugly old nosy female,Im up to HERE with you and your gossip, Mrs. Paxton. Youll find something more useful to do while Im in charge. Look at this floor, its filthy and stained, just like you. Why dont you be a good little servant and clean it upwith you tongue!
Yes, Queen Bessie,answered the old gossip, and got to work immediately.
And dont stop until I can see my most delightful underside reflected clearly on that floor, mind that Paxton,said Bess,I doubt youll wag your tongue for anything but mopping floors after Im through with you, you disgusting old gossip.
Yes, it was a situation indeed. Bess was being controlled by the crown, and all the dogs were being controlled in turn by Bess. Something was definitely not right. That crown had some strange powers, and it was doubtful anyone could go against Bess in her present condition.
* * *
Belladonna searched all night for the crown of Beelzebub, but nothing came to her.
Darn,she said,That stupid cousin of mine ruined everything.
She descended to the ground and looked around. No one was in sight. Where were all the canines? The street was empty, from end to end.
I dont get it,said Belladonna,Its December, and its usually crowded at this time of the year.
Perhaps youre the one who is causing everyone to stay inside,said Anabelle appearing suddenly beside her.
Belladonna turned and saw her cousin, standing there with a reproachful look.
I dont remember asking you to butt into my business, Preacher,said Belladonna.
Ill butt into your business if I jolly well want to, cousin,said Anabelle.
Suit yourself,said Belladonna,Im busy anyway.
Belladonna looked down the streets in search for any strange objects, namely crowns, but nothing in sight.
This is all your fault, Preacher,said Belladonna.
What was that?,Anabelle said,Im afraid I didnt hear you.
Suddenly, a dog came walking down the streets. He walked in a straight line, not looking to his sides.
Hmmm, well,said Belladonna,I think Ill pick one someone to make this stress a little more bearable.
She walked over to the dog and let out a roar, showing her demonic teeth and spreading her black wings.
The dog walked right past her, as if nothing.
Hey, you,said Belladonna,Are you blind and deaf or what?
The dog walked on, and turned into an alley.
Hmmm, I gotta check this out,said Belladonna.
She followed the dog. Anabelle knew she was up to no good, so she followed her.
When Anabelle went onto the alley, an imposing sight met her eyes. The alley was decorated with pale pink drapes, huge ones that hung from the walls. And there, upon a throne made from the finest cushions, was
Belladonna was at the foot of the thrown, yelling her head off. Anabelle watched.
So you were the little reject that took the crown and made everyone work for you, eh? Well let me tell you something, missy, that was my idea and no one robs ideas from me,said Belladonna.
Flo, who was beside Bess, glared at Belladonna reproachfully.
How dare you address to your queen in that vulgar manner,Bess growled,You will maintain your composure when you speak to me, you disgusting thing.
Hah! I dont answer to you!,said Belladonna,So come on and give me that crown now before I fry you like a fritter, Teeny Bess!
Thats QUEENIE BESS for you,said Bess,And YES YOU DO ANSWER TO ME!
Anabelle looked horrified as Bess got up and faced Belladonna.
Belladonna, you enormous lump of disgust, Ive had quite enough of you. I command you to be a statue,said Bess,Now, why dont you grace us with your presencein the corner.
Anabelle watched horrified as Belladonna responded Yes Queen Bessie flatly and walked over to the corner of the alley and sat there, facing the wall.
Somethings definitely not right,said Anabelle,Im sorry, but Im going to have to tell Charlie about this.
YOU!,said Bess,You will not tell ANYONE about this!
Anabelle, you are going to be very useful to me,said Anabelle,I command you to make me a gigantic mirror of the very finest quality, and to place it on the wall beside me so that I can admire my empire grow from an alternative angle!
Anabelle felt herself go weak and her will and thoughts fell upon three flat and uninspired words.
Yes, Queen Bessie,she said, and got to work.
* * *
Sasha was laughing gleefully as she and Charlie walked home from their shopping. Charlie was telling her some funny stories and she was having a nice time walking with him, snuggly resting her head on his shoulder.
As they got home, Charlie opened the door and Sasha stepped in. As Charlie closed the door and locked it from inside, he turned and saw that Sasha was beaming.
Oh, Charlie,said Sasha.
Let me guess,said Charlie.
He looked up, and sure enough, he saw mistletoe hanging overhead.
Well, Sashy,said Charlie smiling,Arent you a sweetheart? Youve placed mistletoe over every doorway in the house. Isnt that cute?
Sasha smiled as her cheeks went scarlet.
Come here, love,said Charlie smiling sweetly as he playfully tugged her closer to him with his foreleg.
Sasha hugged Charlie tightly as she kissed him warmly. Even without the mistletoe, Sasha knew that Charlie was always willing to give her those lovely kisses that she loved so much, and this made her heart warm up with glee.
Charlie sat back again, and Sasha hugged him and pressed herself against his warm fur.
Charlie, youre the most wonderful dog in the world,said Sasha as she rubbed her cheek against his chest,I could just never get enough of your kisses, sweetheart.
You have them here whenever you want them, love,said Charlie stroking her fur.
Oh, Charlie,Sasha said with a sigh.
But just then, they heard something.
They heard yelling and a lot of noise, coming from outside.
Whats going on there,said Charlie. He and Sasha went outside to investigate.
The sight that met their eyes was a curious one. All their neighbors, as well as several seagulls, were all carrying fruits towards the alley in which Bess and Flo lived. It was strange to see.
Im afraid were going to have to check this out, Charlie,said Sasha,It could mean trouble.
Im with you,said Charlie.
They walked across the street and entered the alley. The sight was imposing indeed.
Bess had made her servants place drapes on the walls, but more than that, she had made them decorate the alley with all kinds of ribbons and shines and things of the sort, and now they were bringing fruits to offer to her.
Bess was sitting upon her throne, laughing and admiring the work that they were doing without stopping and without protesting. Charlie suddenly caught sight of another familiar figure
Hey, whats going on here?,Sasha inquired.
Lets find out,said Charlie.
They went towards Bess, who was now yelling at Anabelle to work faster.
Bessie, whats all this for?,asked Charlie.
Bess suddenly stopped and looked at him and Sasha.
Well, well, well, if it isnt my dear buddies, Sasha and Charlie,said Bess,I was hoping to come to meet you sooner or later.
Bess got up.
Behold, the work of my slaves is showing itself,said Bess,My winter palace is to be built on this same ground, and you are lucky enough to witness its construction, and needless to say participate in it as well.
Sasha looked confused.
Bessie, er, what are you talking about?,asked Sasha.
All those fools there, you see?,Bess said,Theyre under my command, my servants for lifetime. They all answer to me, their queen. Queen Bessie.
Er, Bess,said Charlie,Forgive me for saying this, butis this a joke?
Bess glared at him.
Ill show you with an example, a clear example, to clear your doubts of what you dont understand, Charlie,said Bess.
She pointed at the corner. Charlie and Sasha almost fell over.
Shes my new ornament, you see,said Bess,I told her to be a statue and decorate that bare corner with her decrepit form. And there she is.
Charlie, this isnt a joke,said Sasha,Bess, Im afraid youre going to have to stop this and
Sasha looked at the crown on her head.
Bess, where did you get that crown?,she asked.
It does not concern you,said Bess.
Bess, cut this out now,said Charlie,This isnt funny. I have bad feeling about this.
Bess, who gave that crown to you?,Sasha insisted,Take it off, now.
She turned to Sasha.
Sasha, you know, Im not feeling like answering any of your questions, frankly. And another thing, Anabelle is having a hard time making a mirror for me to admire my empire,said Bess,I command you to help her out. Now.
Charlie looked at Sasha, and to his amazement, he saw her eyes stare blankly straight and she said something in a voice that was unlike hers.
Yes, Queen Bessie,said Sasha.
She joined Anabelle in her work.
Charlie tried to talk to her and stop her, but it was no use.
Charlie watched Sasha walk away without blinking.
Amazing indeed, isnt it, Charlie,said Bess,You see, this crown here gives me the power to make any creature obey my any command.
Charlie looked at her.
So Sasha was right,said Charlie,It was that crown. Bess, tell me everything!
Beelzebubs Crown of Submission came to me, no need to give you the details,said Bess,But what I will tell you is this. Charlie, you are the most powerful living being to inhabit this planet. You will be an excellent addition to my collection of servants. With your powers, we could conquer the whole planet and enslave every living being, and eradicate all rebels, in only a few days. With you as my knight, we will be unstoppable. So, what do you say, Charlie? Do you wish to become a knight as the service of your new Queen Bessie?
Bess, Im surprised at you,said Charlie sternly,You know me, and you know Id never accept such a proposition. Im the Guardian of this planet, and I will never go against it.
Just as I expected, you refuse to become my knight. But, one thing you dont seem to understand, Charlie,said Bess,is that even if you refuse, you will still have to obey me. My power is undeniable.
Bess stood tall.
Charles Barkin, I command you to become my knight, and my first order is that you are to seek every canine in the city and summon them to my presence, eliminating those who refuse,said Bess,NOW!
Charlie looked at her. There was a silence.
Er, did that work out fine?,Charlie asked after a while.
Bess was surprised.
But, how?,she stammered,You are to obey me! NOW!
But no matter how hard she tried, she couldnt get Charlie to obey her.
Charlie was thinking hard. He had to get the crown off from Besss head. And fast.
Bessie, Ill be taking that,said Charlie walking towards her.
Bess jumped back and immediately twenty or so dogs who had been working surrounded her.
If I cant have you as my slave, then Ill have you as my prisoner!,said Bess,Because you are too dangerous to have as an enemy. My followers! Seize him!
All the dogs ran towards Charlie. He knew he couldnt get to Bess with this crowd attacking him, but he had no choice.
Well, youll all forgive me afterwards,said Charlie.
As they came, Charlie defeated them. He flung a few over his shoulders, he tackled others, and he did all he could. But they kept on coming. Charlie couldnt use his powers to defeat them because he didnt want to risk hurting anyone more than necessary. He was getting a little overwhelmed.
In his first opportunity, Charlie turned around and ran away from that alley, heading as far as he could towards the waterfront.
Bess saw this, and grinned.
Queen Bessie, hes getting away!,said one of her servants.
Never mind, you get back to work, all of you,said Bess.
Yes, Queen Bessie!,said the crowd.
She looked at Flo, who was sitting beside her throne like a loyal right-hand.
Flo, go after him and bring him back to me,said Bess,I know I can count on you, my loyal sidekick.
Yes, my queen,said Flo, and she headed off at full speed after Charlie.
* * *
Charlie stopped, out of breath, and waddled behind a warehouse to prevent himself from being seen. He was exhausted.
Frankly, the situation was bad. Bess had every dog in the neighborhood under her control, as well as a few others. And Bess was too smart for Charlie to get to her without being seen. Bess knew a lot about strategy and tactics, and she was going to make sure no one could approach her without being seen.
This is deep,said Charlie,I have to get Bess and all the others out of this situation, but how? I cant get anywhere near her, and least of all now. Shes probably doubling the security this very moment.
For the first time in a long time, Charlie had no idea what to do. He was thinking of different alternatives, but none seemed any good.
Charlie wandered around the waterfront for a moment and looked around, looking for something that could give him any ideas.
He casually looked over at the ships that brought fruits to the port from tropical countries. A long line of seagulls were all flying in a perfect line, taking pineapples and bananas and all the other fruits to offer to their queen.
Poor Bess,said Charlie,Maybe she does have some reprieved wishes and shes expressing them under the control of this crown. Its most pitiable.
Charlie watched the gulls for a few more minutes, and suddenly, he saw something very strange.
One of the gulls was taking fruit from the ship, and he suddenly slipped and fell to the water below. Charlie saw the gull immediately getting back out of the water and fly awayin the opposite direction.
The gulls were all following a line that had been established to take their offerings to Bess, but the gull who fell into the water took off in a different direction, not caring where the others went.
Charlie suddenly had a thought.
Could it be?,he said to himself.
But he had no time to find out. Behind him, he heard a voice. A familiar voice.
So there you are, you rebel,said the voice,Ill capture you and make sure you never go against our queen again in your life.
Charlie turned around and saw Flo. She was standing tall and looking at him with a face that denoted triumph.
Quit the small talk, Flo,said Charlie,You know Im not going to hand myself over.
I know,said Flo advancing towards him,And I also know that you wont bring yourself to attacking your puppyhood friend, eh? That gives me advantage!
Flo took off and lunged herself against him. Charlie dodged her easily, but he couldnt go on like this forever.
Face it, Charlie,said Flo,Youre not going to be able to win this time. Queen Bessie has the whole neighborhood under her command, and soon the whole city!
Charlie edged backwards until he was at the edge of the concrete port. And thenhe remembered the seagull and had an idea.
Youre coming with me, Charlie,said Flo,Either you want it, or not!
She ran towards him, ready to pounce on him and capture him, blinded with the order of Bess.
Charlie looked at her and sighed.
Im sorry, Flo,he said,But this is absolutely, vitally necessary.
Just when Flo was about to reach him, Charlie threw himself to the ground on his back and caught Flo around the waist with his forelegs. Then, using his chin and chest as a catapult, he straightened up with all his might and flung Flo into the air and into the water below.
Charlie heard a splash and got up, walking to the edge.
Oh dear me,said Charlie,I know youll forgive me for that, Flo.
Flo suddenly emerged, gasping for air.
She swam to the edge where there were some steps and looked up at Charlie.
Hi Charlie,said Flo,What are you doing here?
Charlie looked confused, but also very happy.
Flo looked at herself.
What am I doing here,said Flo to herself.
Then she suddenly remembered.
Hey, how did I get here, when a minute ago I was at the alley with Bess, and,she stopped, shivering a little.
Charlie was concerned. Swimming in December was not a good idea, and Flos thick coat would take time to dry off.
Here,said Charlie, extending his paw to help her out of the water,Why dont we get you dried off, and Ill explain everything.
* * *
Bess looked impatient. Anabelle and Sasha had finished her mirror, which was about ten feet tall and wide. It was placed on a wall and it reflected the whole alley.
Whats waking my loyal right-hand so long?,she growled,Its almost nighttime.
Everyone was now working on decorating the alley with ornaments. Sasha and Anabelle where inside Flo and Bess house baking some ginger bread for Bess.
Oh well, I guess shes just chasing that slippery little rebel through the city,said Bess,Hell turn up sooner or later. But just in case
She called a group of dogs.
You will spread out and search the whole city until you find Charles Barkin,said Bess,I cant afford to have him ruin my plans.
Yes, Queen Bessie,said the group and parted immediately.
Its only a matter of time, now, before my conquer crusade begins,said Bess,Soon the planet will claim my name in unison.
And unfortunately, thats the way it looked like it would be.
* * *
Flo had dried her fur completely and was sitting close to the fire that Charlie had made with pieces of wood and other things he found around the ground.
Charlie had gotten them something to eat from a canine store nearby that had not been taken over by Bess yet, and he warmed their supper with the help of the fire.
Flo was feeling fine now. She sat down beside Charlie and smiled.
Its been a long time since we all went on a field trip to the mountains, eh?,she said,I remember Sasha found a nice cave for us to spend the night, and we build a fire like this one.
Yeah,said Charlie smiling and forgetting his problems for a moment,That was so fun. I remember clearly that we all had a fright when Bess told us a scary story and we all heard a sudden snap in the woods, and it turned out to be a rabbit.
Flo laughed with himbut then they remembered Bess, and their problem.
Charlie, why is Bess acting so strange suddenly?,asked Flo.
Charlie looked at her and answered.
This is not Bess fault,said Charlie,She is being controlled, and she in turn is controlling all the canines in our neighborhood. Flo, did you notice the crown she used on her head?
Well, that crown is responsible for all this trouble,said Charlie,You see, that crown enables her to make any creature obey her, regardless of what the orders could be. So Bess has everyone under her control and the only way to stop her is to get that crown off her head.
Charlie paused, then went on.
You were ordered to come after me when I escaped,said Charlie,And by tossing you into the water, the effect of the crown faded from you, which shows that the crown is a dark artifact, because only water seems to be able to nullify the effect of the crowns power.
But, how come youre no being controlled, Charlie? She tried to enslave you too, right?,asked Flo.
Charlie came to a dead end.
I dont know,said Charlie,The crown seems to have no effect on me, but the reason, I dont know.
Flo looked at the fire.
Poor Bessie,said Flo,This isnt her fault. Someone must have left that crown lying around and she accidentally found it.
It was probably Belladonna,said Charlie,Putting pieces together, it seems that Belladonna had it and she somehow lost it and it ended up on Bess head.
Yes, she was there too, only Bess commanded her to be a statue and she sat in the corner as such,said Charlie.
Flo let out a small snort of laughter.
Yeah, it was sort of funny,said Charlie grinning.
They faced a problem. They had to get the crown off Bess head, and for that they had to be able to get close enough to her to grab it. Unfortunately, they couldnt get close enough because Bess had the place full of servants that would know instantly if anyone tried to approach Bess.
Im afraid Im a little lost, Flo,said Charlie,I dont know how were going to outsmart Bess. Shes too clever.
Flo suddenly jumped up.
Charlie! Water! We can use water,said Flo,Well make all the servants become conscious and theyll probably return to their homes and leave us to deal with Bess. And for that to happen well need..RAIN!
Charlie looked up at her.
Brilliant!,said Charlie,Only..Im not sure itll rain for a few days, and it might be too late if we wait that long.
We wont have to wait, Charlie,said Flo,We can create rain!
Charlie looked at her grinning. She was right!
We have an enormous, lovely bay full of water to use as good rain material,said Flo,All we need to do is evaporate several metric tons of water and well have enough rain to drench the whole city.
Right,said Charlie,Well have to get all the animals to a safe place first.
Leave that to me,said Flo, brandishing a miracle tag,I havent used one of these for ages.
And Ill create enough heat to make the entire bay boil,said Charlie,And then we can have a nice rain cloud overnight.
Well then, we have work to do, pal,said Flo grinning,Well beat the crown in its own game.
They got up and headed towards the bay. Once they were there, Flo took her tag and held it close to her chest. Next, she tossed it into the water and it glowed, illuminating the whole bay. All the animals were taken to a safe place.
Okay, your turn,said Flo.
Charlie concentrated all his might, all his energy, into one big orb of heat. It took several minutes. When he finally accomplished it, he let the orb float down into the water and submerge. Instantly, the whole bay started to boil furiously and a big cloud of stream floated up towards the sky.
Now we have to wait, Flo,said Charlie,Well go to my house and wait there. Its close enough, and Bess wont look for me there because she knows I wouldnt go there if she were looking for me.
Charlie and Flo start to walk towards the house, taking another route to avoid Bess alley.
You know, you start to sound like Bess,said Flo, admiring his strategy.
* * *
Charlie and Flo arrived at the house exhausted. The steam had provided them a very nice mist to conceal them from view. Charlie was particularly tired for he had employed a lot of energy for the orb to form. He went to sleep immediately on the sofa of the family room.
Flo looked out the window at Bess alley for a moment. She was determined to save their friend, no matter how.
Well get you out of this, Bessie,said Flo,Thats a promise.
Flo curled up on the other sofa and fell asleep too.
* * *
The next morning, Charlie got up very early and went to look outside. The sky was indeed very heavy with clouds. Flos plan had worked!
Flo woke up a few minutes later and joined Charlie for a quick breakfast. They got out of the house and managed to creep around the corner of the alley without being seen. They then dashed across the street and entered one of the abandoned buildings that formed Bess alley.
Theres a window upstairs,said Flo,We can take a peek and see what shes up to from there.
They climbed several floors and got to a small window that faced the alley. Charlie and Flo peered through it, and saw Bess and her servants.
Bess was hollering at them to work faster. They were now building her a statue of herself made from bits of clay and putty.
Let me assure you, my Queen Bessie, that this statue will be the finest work of art,said Anabelle.
Let me assure you, that Queen Bessie expects the best,said Bess.
Charlie let out a sigh.
Boy, shes sure making them work,he said.
Yeah,said Flo,But did you see the floors? Theyre sparkling.
Yeah, theyve been cleaned very well,said Charlie,I wonder how Bess managed that.
If only he knew..
Flo suddenly perked her ears up.
Heydid you hear that?,Flo said.
Charlie did indeed. He heard thunder in the distance.
Its coming,said Charlie,Well soon have Bessie back.
Flo looked up out the window, but she realized that she couldnt see the sky..
Uh oh,said Flo,Look, up there, Charlie.
Charlie looked too, and his heart sank. Bess had made his servants build a roof of plaster to prevent them from being drenched by the water and taken out of her control. She was too smart.
Charlie, I think our plan is ruined,said Flo anxiously,Well never be able to get them wet with that roof.
But Charlie had had enough. They had placed all their hope in this plan, and a little obstacle like that was not going to make them fail.
It started to rain, hard. The droplets came down with great force, but everyone was dry and mesmerized as ever.
I had enough of this,said Charlie, opening the window,We came this far, and were not turning back.
Flo watched as Charlie formed a blue-white orb in his paw and flung it into the air. The orb then split into thousands of smaller pieces and they all flew up to the roof. The effect was fantastic. With a loud boom, the roof was reduced to dust and flew away with the wind. And..
What was that!?,Bess shouted demandingly.
Dont know,said the servants.
Then, it came!
The rain came splashing down the drapes, onto the heads of the servants. The suddenly regained consciousness like Flo had before them and looked around, puzzled to the limit.
After realizing they were being drenched to the skin, they all ran out of the alley in complete confusion.
YAHHH! Water!,Belladonna screeched as the water scorched her and singed her fur,Im outta here!
She disappeared in an instant.
Bess was furious.
YOU!,she yelled at Charlie and Flo who had now descended to the alley below,You ruined everything! Now, you will face my wrath!
Bess charged at Charlie, who looked a bit amused. He simply leaped out of the way whenever Bess came near.
Flo went over to assist Anabelle and Sasha, who had just regained consciousness.
W-What happened?,asked Sasha, confused.
Youll find out soon,said Flo,Just dont move and let Charlie take care of the situation.
Charlie decided that the best way to face Bess was head-on.
Okay, Bessie,said Charlie,Im sorry to have to do this, but its necessary.
Charlie leaped over her and snatched the crown in his teeth.
NOOOOOOOOOO,Bess yelled and fell to the ground with her face in her paws.
Charlie threw the crown up into the air.
We cant have something like this lying around anymore,said Charlie,Sorry Beelzebub, but I have no choice.
Charlie forms an energy orb in his paw and shoots it at the dark crown, and watches as it splits into smithereens.
The rain poured over the canines. Charlie walked over to Bess and placed a paw on her shoulder. Sasha, Flo and Anabelle did the same, although they were concerned about what they were all doing there in the rain.
Bessie, Im sorry,said Charlie,But we had to save you.
Bess suddenly looked up, and..smiled.
Hello Charlie!,said Bess,How are you?
Charlie looked at her a little surprised. So did the others. Then she realized.
H-hey, whatre we doing sopping here like mops in the rain,said Bess,Come on inside and well have some taffy.
Bess got up and walked over to the house and opened the door for everyone. They followed warily and dried off in the front hall.
Bess went over to the kitchen to get the taffy and milk. As they sat in the living room, they all looked at Bess warily.
Bess suddenly looked at the window and saw that it was broken. Then it came to her.
Hey! Now I remember,said Bess,I found a crown and I was about to go see who it belonged to and..for some reason I ended up here.
Bess looked at her friends. Charlie, Sasha, Anabelle, Flo..
What happened?,asked Bess.
Charlie gave her a comforting smile and explained everything about the crown, about how she had been controlling all the dogs in the neighborhood, and how he had managed to get Flo out of her control and create rain. Everyone was quite impressed at the story.
Gee, Im sorry I caused such a commotion,said Bess,I never realized a crown could bring so much trouble.
Its okay, Bessie,said Sasha,No harm done. But I noticed something. The floors of the alley are very clean. How did you managed to get them so sparkly?
I dont know,said Bess,Perhaps someone mopped them..
Anabelle smiled and stood up.
Lets sit beside the fire, everyone,said said,I think we all deserve a nice break after all this situation.
They all followed Anabelle and sat in front of the stone fireplace. Flo was giggling madly, and no one could guess why.
Charlie, Sasha,said Flo after a while,I think you didnt notice.
They looked upwards and saw what it was.
Flo had placed mistletoe over the fireplace.
Well, I guess one of the loveliest things of Christmas,said Sasha,Dont you agree?
Charlie grinned. Sasha hugged him and gave him a kiss on his muzzle.
I dedicate this moment to our friendship,said Sasha,Bessie, Flo and Anabelle, may our friendship always shine like the sun even behind the darkest clouds.
She looked at Charlie in the eyes and smiled.
And I dedicate this moment also to our love,said Sasha,Christmas is a time for love, and you Charlie are the very vision of love before my heart.
To Sasha and Charlie,said the others,And to our friendship.
Sasha kissed Charlie sweetly. Flo, Bess and Anabelle blushed a little and smiled. Charlie hugged Sasha closely as they finished their lovely kiss.
Thank you, girls,said Charlie,Its always nice to be loved. Group hug?
They were all only too happy to do so.
Five canines, all united by the unbreakable blessing of God. The most solid of all friendships that the world has ever witnessed.
Merry Christmas everyone,said Bess, smiling happily and enjoying the warmth of her friends.
Merry Christmas,said everyone.
And so it was. A very Merry Christmas.