Max barked, jumped, laid his paws on my chest and lunged to lick my face. Amidst the sea of animals who’d gained a new level of dangerous it was a change to find one who was a friend.
“I’m glad to see you too, boy,” I grinned. What would Mrs Stevenson think if she could see him now?
The rhino began to stir and planted a hoof in the dirt. Before long it would be up again, charging at the tigers, trying to stomp them out like a jungle fire. Even at full power I couldn’t hold the beast down; what else could I do?
Max jumped in front and started to growl.
Time was slipping. Throwing my arms down I sliced into the ground with hard light and chipped away at the earth, carving gashes into it as wide as the monster. I launched into it with everything I had, cutting deeper and deeper, down as far as I could in the time it took for a rhino to shake off a dizziness.
It lifted its head and grunted, then turned on the spot. The sudden appearance of a moat presented a puzzle that kept it from the smoking goal. Hopefully it was a puzzle that would keep it busy for a while.
“Stay,” I told the rhino; probably more for my own comfort.
I flew back to the main path, followed closely by Max. How did he do that? Apparently super-barking wasn’t the only ability he’d gained in the meteor shower. I bent down and gave him a scratch behind the ear.
“You should probably stay close,” I said.
The moment was cut short with a bellow from behind. Max started barking, and I turned to witness the rising shadow of a grizzly bear. It stretched its paws and lumbered toward us, irritated by gods only knew what.
I took aim and blasted it; nothing. The beam went right through! Not a scratch, not even a tickle, it failed to stop the bear who then passed through a bench as though it were a ghost.
It took a swipe and knocked me to the ground. The impact pushed the air from my lungs and I groaned to return upright. Before I knew it the animal was taking another shot, leaving me only a split second to shoot along the ground like a bottle rocket.
From the bushes where I crashed I heard howling, and when I stood came face to face with the barrel of a gun; eerier still, a gun with nobody holding it, but still cocked to fire. From a cage nearby came the song of triumph, like a group of frat boys who’d found the perfect nerd to make their target.
“Chimpanzees,” I cursed, “with telekinesis…”
My jaw clenched and I snarled; they bore their teeth and laughed. Somewhere in the confusion I snatched at the rifle and took it from their psychic hold. They didn’t even put up a fight.
As I considered the weapon I remembered what the zookeeper had told me about tranquilizers; this was it, right? Maybe this was my chance to put the bear down. The only problem was that I’d never used a gun before.
“Behave,” I said to the apes, and sprinted back. Yeah, like that was going to happen.
Max dodged left and right around the alpha predator. He and the bear were vying for dominance over a patch of road, and neither seemed to care how they were going to get it.
I called out an order, hoping to the gods he’d been trained. “Max! Speak!”
The dog barked, and with the same force that had rolled the metal-reared animal he blew the bear from its feet. Whether or not it was incorporeal, it didn’t matter; the beast still felt the sound that could split eardrums.
Drawing close I lifted the rifle and stared down the sights. It was just like an arcade game, right? If I missed at that range there would be no hope for me.
I pulled the trigger and with a soft ‘pew’ a dart flew into the bears side. It rolled, then slowed, and finally eased onto its stomach where any will to fight drained away. There were a few final grunts, but not enough to declare another war; the beast was down for the count.
Suddenly, Max started growling again. What was he doing?
I looked down to the blue frog on the pavement; you know, the poisonous kind that should have been behind glass. One of those things with super-powers? I was scared to find out what it could do.
“Max! Get away from there!”
The dog wouldn’t back down, even when pustules formed and popped on the frogs back. In moments it had turned into a mound of bubbles; and I wasn’t planning to find out what it did next!
I blasted a trash can from its base and scooped it up, turning it over and throwing it over the frog. No sooner had it been trapped that a flurry of spikes pierced the can, warping its shape and warding off other predators.
Max skirted around it, licked his jowls and scoured the scene. As for me, I was still on my butt reeling from it all.
“Don’t piss off strange frogs,” I told him.
He came for a scratch, which I gave. Max probably had no idea what almost happened, and why would he? Unless the meteor gave him super-intelligence, or something equally random.
A dozen penguins quacked as they flew across the sky; you know, as penguins do.
“Come on, boy. We’ve still got work to do,” I murmured to the canine.
I took to the sky and Max followed. There was a whole city in panic, and every corner could use a Glimmer Girl.
To be continued…