From a report by the University Safety Services office:
"In all, 1,063 beagles were used in the strontium and radium study. Selected because of their relatively long life spans and physiological similarities to humans, the beagles received regular medical attention throughout the study, and careful health records were kept. Most of the beagles lived in outside kennels. The last beagle in the strontium/radium study died at the age of 18 1/2 years, in 1986."
A note to the reader: The information above is true. As for this story, it is true, mostly. The people in it, including the beagles, are not.
With thanks to Mrs. Bondi Beach, editor and beagle-lover.
Sam was reading aloud.
It was a dark and stormy night, and the beagles were frightened.
Heather picked her way through the beagle pens. I was following her, Jim behind me. I was watching Heather's rear end carefully. I think Jim was, too.
My sister, Samantha, was the wheelman tonight, waiting for us outside the main gate. We were stealing beagles and selling them on the black market.
Most people didn't know that there was a black market for these special beagles: they were radioactive.
Then I saw it. Over beside the fence. It wasn't ... it couldn't be! Taller than your average beagle, black ... no, it was impossible! But it was! A werebeagle!
Suddenly, a shot rang out.
"Jesus! You call that a story?"
Sam, holding the sheet of paper in her hand, looking at it as though the paper itself was radioactive. Heather probably would have said the same thing, except that she was rolling on the floor laughing her head off.
I tried, unsuccessfully, not to whine.
"Excuse me all to hell, but every story has to start somewhere.''
Jim grabbed the paper from Sam.
"So, who got shot, anyway?"
Now I was ranting as well as whining.
"You people wouldn't know a good story if it walked up and bit you. You'd probably think it was a werebeagle. That's it. No more story for you."
The funny thing is, Heather actually knew a lot about beagles. The university attached to our small town had been running a long-term study of beagles, and Heather's dad was one of the principal researchers on the study. Heather had been a lab assistant at the beagle pens during our senior year in high school.
It was the summer after our freshman year at college. Heather had gone to school in Oregon, Jim to UCLA, but we had all kept in touch. Sam, a year behind us, had just graduated from high school. Heather was still working part-time at the beagle research project this summer.
Heather, red-faced from laughing so hard.
"Come on. I'll give you a private late-night tour and show you what's really going on with the beagles."
So we piled into Heather's car, Heather's dad's car, actually, and took off for the beagle labs on the south side of the campus. The night was dark, yes, stormy, no. It never rains in the summer in the Central Valley. Mid-summer, and the heat of the day was still with us.
No raucous barking when we arrived. Hoarse muffled barks instead. After many complaints, the researchers had begun to "debark" the beagles by removing a portion of their vocal cords, a procedure that unfortunately didn't make them silent. It just made them sound like beagles with sore throats.
The noise increased when they heard us pull up. They knew who Heather was, and perhaps if there had been only a half-dozen or so dogs she would have been able to quiet them. With 50 or so, no chance. Heather unlocked the gate to the beagle compound and we followed her in. Stopped to pet a couple of frantic creatures on our way to the labs themselves.
Inside, Heather showed us the cages, some occupied, some not, and we said hello to three or four of the inmates. It was a little bit of a letdown, I have to tell you. Not sure what I was expecting. Mad scientists? Beagle hybrids of some kind? Sorry, nothing like that. It was a little sad, really. The dogs were desperate for any kind of attention, so that evening we made a few of them a little happier, at least for the moment.
In fact, the project over the years had made a number of families happier, too. Mine was one of them. For reasons I never learned, some beagles flunked out of the study and were put up for adoption. Those lucky families ended up with the dog of their dreams, or nightmares in some cases, and of course the dogs had a better life than they would have had otherwise.
Still, there was that story about the werebeagle...
Heather closed the place up and we went on to the coffee shop on G Street. Coffee and pie and idle talk about this and that. Sam said she had to be home early, so when we finished we dropped her off at my house on our way back to Heather's place.
I was just about to slam the door after getting out of the car when I heard Heather whisper.
Jim and I looked at her.
What the heck? Hear what?
"In the backyard."
Then I heard it. Quiet laughter. Splashing.
"C'mon. I think it's my folks. Maybe the Fishmans, too."
So, from breaking into beagle pens, sort of, we were now sneaking into Heather's house? So much for responsible, mature behavior.
Up the stairs quietly, over to the window in Heather's room where we could see the backyard.
"I always knew she was a little bit of a slut."
Heather pointed at her college roommate, Lee, riding Heather's dad.
That wasn't all we could see. The splashing and giggling was coming from the shallow end of the pool, where Mr. Fishman was behind Heather's mom, pressing her against the side of the pool. She evidently liked what he was doing, because she was giggling and laughing and panting and pushing back hard against him. He had his hands on her hips, thrusting hard and fast.
Mrs. Fishman was on the grass next to Heather's dad and Lee, on her back and relaxed, legs parted a little, big smile on her face, slowly stroking herself. She was covered in cum, face, boobs, tummy and pussy. She looked pretty happy, too.
When we took off earlier, Heather's parents had been out and Lee was asleep in Heather's room after driving down from Oregon. Lee lived in Sacramento, but she was stopping over for a couple of days with Heather before continuing on home. Heather's parents had returned with the Fishmans at some point and Lee, evidently quite refreshed from her nap, had joined them.
Heather and I looked at each other. This was a new development, but not entirely unexpected. There were already some interesting possibilities shaping up this summer between Heather and her parents, and maybe including me. Tonight was just a little boost along that road, even if Heather's parents didn't yet know that we were watching them.
Jim, never one to waste time, stepped right up behind Heather. Pressed himself against her, ran his hands up under her t-shirt to cup her breasts. I moved in front of her and kissed her, hard. Heather gave back just as good as she got. Tongue in my mouth, hand rubbing the front of my shorts. I swear, I was just about to strip off her shorts and panties, lift her up and slide into her, and let Jim fend for himself, but I didn't.
"One at a time, guys."
Heather liked to do things her way, and Jim and I knew her well enough to know that things usually worked out to everyone's satisfaction that way. After getting halfway down my throat with her tongue, Heather twisted around and repeated the kiss with Jim.
I can report, with pleasure, that in the end Heather wasn't really serious about the one-at-a-time thing that evening. With her enthusiastic cooperation, Jim and I spurted and sprayed and did our best to cover her at least as well as her dad and Mr. Fishman had covered Mrs. Fishman. When we finished, it looked to us that the pool party was coming to an end, so Heather sent us on our way with a little wave and a big smile.
The next day I met Heather and Lee in the park late in the morning. The girls looked unsettlingly well-rested, and I wondered what else they might have gotten up to after Jim and I left last night.
"Buddy, this is Lee."
Lee smiled and held out her hand. We shook.
"Lee's a little bit of a slut, as you probably noticed last night."
"But I'm a nice slut."
I didn't know it then, but at that moment I was looking at the woman I would end up marrying after college.
"Buddy, Lee hasn't met the beagles. What do you think about another beagle expedition tonight?"
Didn't take me a second to agree. With any luck, it might end up the same way our little adventure last night did.
As soon as we pulled up in front of the pens, I knew there was something wrong. No barks, muffled, hoarse, or otherwise. There was a stillness in the air, something more than just the usual lingering heat of the day. Heaviness, almost, which was ridiculous because everyone for as long as I could remember went around saying, "Yes, it's hot in the Valley, but it's a dry heat." As if that made a difference.
Nothing stirring, apparently, as we got out of the car.
Heather opened the gate. We took two steps inside, and I smelled something foul. I don't believe in werebeagles, I don't believe in werebeagles, I kept repeating to myself, as though saying it and thinking it would make them disappear, if they happened to be around.
Another few yards, still nothing moving anywhere.
"I have to see what's going on inside the lab."
Heather, whispering. If anything, the air was even heavier than before.
Heather opened the main lab door. The stench was unbelievable. Lee turned and threw up into the planter beside the door. I did the same.
The three of us stopped just inside. Nothing moving here, either. All the cages were open and empty. No sound, just that disgusting smell.
We couldn't see anything, couldn't tell what had happened, what that smell was, or where the dogs were. Decided all there was to do was to get the hell out of there and tell the cops what we found.
We were almost to the main outside gate when it happened. They attacked from the left. An avalanche of Snoopys pouring out of the barrels. All biting, gnawing away at feet, hands, whatever they could reach through the bars. Coughing, not barking. That was just about the creepiest part of it.
I thought I saw something large and black in the far corner of the compound. No, it's not a werebeagle, I kept telling myself. There is no such thing.
Straight back to Heather's house, fingers and toes intact. The hell with the cops. We'd report the whole thing in the morning. Heather's parents out somewhere. We were alone, the three of us. The state we were in, wired doesn't begin to describe it.
Went straight through into the kitchen and out the back door to the pool. Stopped on the lawn. Heather and I looked at each other. Lee stepped closer to us and put her arms around us. Nothing to say. Hugged.
Lee stepped back from us and started taking her clothes off.
"Don't know about you two, but I need to get into that water, now."
Heather and I followed suit. We were still shaking, frankly, but it wasn't from cold. In fact, we were dripping in sweat from our run to the car earlier. Heart rates up, blood pumping. Not only that, but I was hard. Heather's nipples were erect.