“All right you, um, Cats listen up.”
“Doc, I’m not a cat,” Rose, a small Poodle in the front row said.
I tilted my head. “Well, no. You’re a dog. You are supposed to be insulting when you teach things. I saw it on TV.”
“I am a cat. I am not insulted by being one. Perhaps if you called us all dogs. I would find that suitably insulting.”
I looked at the brown Tabby sitting next to Rose and flattened my ears against my head and whined a little. Teaching vampire hunting was turning out to be very difficult. I wished I had Nelli, my Border Collie love, as a student. She would pick up vampire hunting as effortlessly as she herded sheep.
“Okay. Well, then Cats and Dogs, listen up.” I ignored the protest from a couple of other students in the back row. “This is how you hunt dead things. Also known as vampires. They smell dead, so you’ll know what they are.”
“Lots of things smell dead.” The Tabby yawned, putting a delicate white paw over his mouth.
I suppressed a growl only with the greatest of effort. “Yes. These dead things walk though and are very dangerous.”
“I see. Carry on then.”
Rose whined and put her paws over her nose. A few other cats flicked their tails, seeming unconcerned. Some of the dogs looked at each other like they still weren’t sure what was going on. The horse in the background just swished his tail. I hoped they were actually listening.
“Very Dangerous.” I felt I had to say again. “To catch a vampire you look it in the eye and stare at it. You can catch their minds for a while. Then your human can stake them. Let’s practice the eye.” I sank down into a working crouch and stared at my class. A few of the cats shifted nervously. The dogs wagged their tail nervously and the horse, well, did horsey things. I sat up and cocked my head. “Get it? Okay. You try.”
They all stared at me with varying degrees of intensity. The cats were the best at it. There were no other Border Collies in the class.
“Right. We will practice that.”
“So, your human kills the vampire. What do you do when there is no human around?” A Siamese cat with stunning blue eyes asked, stretching lazily.
“Oh I know!” A Lab in the second row spoke up. She jumped up and down, wagging her tail happily.
“Us dogs stare them in the eye, just like you Doc.” She wagged her tail again and paused to scratch her ear.
I waited as patiently as I could. The cats all looked at the Lab with varying degrees of contempt or annoyance.
“Us cats take over the world, while the dogs are staring at dead things,” A black and white tuxedo cat said from the front row. He licked his paw while he spoke, displaying not only wicked claws, but small almost opposable thumbs. I stared at him, feeling distinctly uncomfortable.
The Lab finished scratching. “Yeah, we stare at em, and the cats jump at their faces and scratch their eyes out.”
I, and several of the cats, immediately saw the flaw with this plan. The Siamese shook her head and sauntered away. The Tabby laughed and the tuxedo continued grooming his strange paws. Rose, my Poodle friend, whined again.
“If the cats scratch their eyes out then you won’t be able to hold them still with your stare.”
The Lab wilted. “Oh. Sorry Doc.” She stopped wagging her tail for about five seconds then started again. Grinning.
I sighed. “Ok, let’s practice the stare again. On my count. One… Two…”
Doc chose J. A. (Julie) Campbell to write his stories. He’s a vampire hunting Border Collie and you can read more of his stories on Julie’s website www.writerjacampbell.com. Julie writes fantasy for adults and young adults when she’s not training her own Border Collie to hunt vampires or riding her horse.
This post originally appeared on Devin O’Branagan’s Tails Blog: http://www.tailsinc.com/2012/01/devins-tails-i-create-characters-with-tails/