Intergalactic Medicine Show     Print   |   Back  

    by David Lubar
Artwork by Lance Card

Greg was the only kid in Potterstown who really hated the Ulmeyer dogs. A lot of the kids in town were afraid of the three huge, snarling mixed breeds that guarded the lawn in front of Mr. and Mrs. Ulmeyer's house. Most of the kids didn't like the dogs. But, as far as he knew, Greg was the only one who really hated the dogs.

He hated them because of what had happened the very first time he'd seen them. The Ulmeyers had just moved into the neighborhood. The house was brand new. There were a lot of houses being built in that part of town. Greg had been walking down Perry Street, right past Ulmeyer's house, when the three dogs charged from the back yard. They'd raced around the house like a hunting pack, bursting into the front yard with an anger and fury that had made Greg jump. He'd actually leaped into the air -- like some kind of scared little kid. Then he'd run. As he tore off, he looked over his shoulder. The three dogs had started to chase him. But they'd stopped at the edge of the yard. They wouldn't go into the street.

Greg's relief at his escape was quickly washed away by anger. The dogs had made him jump. They'd startled him. For a moment, he'd been less than cool. He'd run. Greg looked around. Nobody had seen him jump and run. But that didn't matter. Greg knew what he'd done. And he knew he wanted to get even.

The next time he came down Perry street, Greg braced himself. The dogs charged from the back yard again. This time, Greg didn't jump. It wasn't easy. But as he stood there, he saw something that made him smile. There was a small sign stuck in the grass at the edge of the front yard. It said "De-Fence Electronic Pet Barrier." Then Greg noticed that each of the dogs wore a collar with a small box on it.

"You can't get me," Greg said. He knew about these fences. They were some kind of electronic thing, with a wire around the edge of the yard. There was a signal running through the wire. The collar shocked the dog if it came too close. The dogs wouldn't cross the line.

"Can't get me," Greg said again. This was going to be fun. He jumped up and down, waving his arms and laughing. The dogs snarled. Saliva dripped from their mouths.

But they couldn't leave the yard.

From that moment, Greg had a new purpose in life. Whenever he had to go anywhere, he made sure he walked down Perry street. He learned exactly how close he could get to the edge of the Ulmeyer lawn. He knew how far the dogs would lunge as they snapped at him with their angry jaws.

Greg figured out ways to drive the dogs crazy. One day, he brought a piece of hamburger he'd saved from dinner. He held it close to them. "Mmmmmm, can't you just taste it?" Greg said. Then, slowly, he moved it toward his mouth and ate it.

Another day, he brought an old tennis ball he'd found. He held it up for the dogs to see, then threw it down the street. "Fetch!" he shouted.

The dogs went crazy.

Nobody ever came to see what all the barking was about. Greg knew both Ulmeyers worked all day. In the evening, they often went out. It was easy to tell when they were out -- they always put on the light next to the garage. They turned it off when they got home. So Greg had total freedom to taunt the dogs. Most of the other houses on the street were still empty. Some weren't even finished yet. There was little chance that anyone would interfere with Greg's revenge.

But it wasn't enough. Greg felt he wasn't getting the dogs back for what they had done to him. And he knew they still wanted to hurt him. He could tell. Whenever he came close to them, they got that wide eyed look, with lips curled back and ears flattened. They wanted to rip him apart and fight over his liver.

Greg's burning desire was to find one perfect scheme that would pay back the dogs for what they had done to him. He wanted to drive them over the edge of sanity -- make them so crazy that their owner would have to send them to the pound.

The idea came to him when he was watching television. It was perfect. It was so absolutely perfectly wonderful that he almost decided to share it with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. They'd love it. He'd be a hero. But if other kids knew, the word would get around to the adults and he'd get in trouble. Greg decided to keep his revenge to himself. Nobody could ever know what he'd done.

"I got you now," Greg said as he began working on his plan. It was easy. His dad had all sorts of gadgets and equipment. Everything Greg wanted was in the house, except for one important part. And that wouldn't be hard to get. Greg took his dad's video camera and started filming. For the rest of the day, he took close-up pictures of cats. He filmed every cat he could find. He even chased a couple of them so he could get pictures of them running.

Now, he just had to make sure the Ulmeyers were away. But that was easy. Greg went for a walk each evening, watching for the light next to the garage.

Soon enough, he saw it. "It's payback time," he said, looking down the street at the Ulmeyer's lawn. Everything was perfect. The rain that had been falling earlier had stopped now. Greg gathered what he needed -- the portable TV, the camera, and a couple of extension cords.

The plan was so simple and so great. Greg couldn't keep the grin off of his face. Right across the street from the Ulmeyer's house, there was a new house. It wasn't finished yet, but it looked like the electricity was hooked up. Greg put the TV and camera at the edge of the Ulmeyer's lawn and then ran the extension cord along the ground, taking it to the new house. As he'd expected, it wasn't long enough. He plugged it into the second cord and carried that one to the house, where he found an outlet near the front door.

The dogs were already barking at him, but Greg was pretty sure that even if people heard the noise, they wouldn't bother to see what was causing it. They must have been pretty used to the barking by now. He figured they'd probably even thank him if they knew what he was doing.

"This will drive you crazy," Greg said to the dogs. He couldn't wait. It was going to be fabulous. They'd see the cats and just go wild.

Greg turned on the TV. The dogs stood at the edge of their yard and snarled at him. Greg smiled. He reached for the PLAY button on the camera. But he didn't press it yet. Maybe just a bit closer, he thought, looking at the three dogs. He slid the set forward a few more inches.


Greg spun when he heard the crackling sound. "Oh, crap . . ." He'd dragged the cords into a puddle, right where they were plugged together. He froze, unsure what to do. He didn't want to switch off the TV. He was so close to carrying out his plan.

His eyes, ears, and nose got smacked all at once with a zap, a flash, and the smell of burning plastic. The zap was followed by a dead silence. Even the dogs stopped barking for an instant. Greg noticed that the light in front of the Ulmeyer's garage had gone dark. They couldn't be home, he thought. He'd have seen them come in. But why was the light off?

"Wait . . ." All the lights in the house were off. He looked to his left, and then to his right. There wasn't a single light on. No porch lights. No living room lights. There was no sign of light on Perry street.

Or any other electricity.

Greg heard a growl. One of the dogs stepped past the edge of the lawn.

No electricity.

Greg heard three growls. The other two dogs stepped past the edge of the lawn.

No fence.

Greg took a step away from the dogs. The dogs took a step toward Greg. Greg ran. The dogs ran faster. They stopped barking. They were too busy biting.

It was Greg's turn to make loud noises.

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