It's 0200 hours. Me and my men have the only open eyelids in a 550-square-foot radius.
Our rations have dwindled to almost nothing. Some have already grown delusional with hunger and we probably don't have enough Whisker Lickin's to make it through the night.
But I'll be damned if I'm gonna walk away from this mission without a victory. I will not live in a world where mangy, backside-sniffing, walking puddles of slobber rule with an iron paw. I will not stand aside as they pant their way to the top of the heap, offering nothing but an occasional hot mess on the new carpet.
I will never say die to a dog.
We've lost some good felines along the way. I...lost a best friend. And I won't soon forget the image of Sergeant Pickles--the best goddamn soldier a commander could ask for--being chased into the vast darkness of that basement...where only the unspeakable happens...
"Major Bojangles, one of your paws is bleeding, sir! We should have the medic take a look at that."
My mouth is suddenly overwhelmed by the taste of kitty litter. Private Muffin Top is a good kid, but he's got the nerves of a squirrel and the gas of a 15-year-old house cat. I can only imagine what his guts must feel like in the heat of battle. I'm just glad he's got better control of his weaponry than he does his colon.
"Son, I ain't got time to bleed. And if the medic's lookin' at anything, it's gonna be that suffocating stench you carry around in your intestines."
If I had a penny for every time I made a new solider whimper, I could make it rain Fancy Feast.
"Listen up, troops. We're getting ready to move into the final phase of our mission."
As I scan the faces of my men, I see a collection of weary eyes and heartache-heavy expressions. It's sometimes easy to forget that these cats have feelings, too.
After all, we're not hate machines. We're just war machines.
"I know we're all tired. Our souls...they're heavy with fatigue and even heavier with the memories of those we left behind: Blaine. Dutch. Poncho. Colonel Spiffy. Our enemies...they want this jungle--with its mountains of suede and its electronic sunrises--to shut us out. They want us to feel out of place. They want us to feel like men without a home.
Well I say we lay out the welcome mat for these bastards and show them whose place this really is. Tonight we take back what is rightfully ours!"
A collective purr rises into the air. They come up off their haunches for the first time since The Battle at Ottoman Square.
"I promise you all one thing: when this is over, when we've got canine teeth under our feet and their slobbering jaws tight in our hands, you're going to go home to your wives, your kittens...your favorite lounge pillows.
You're going home, soldiers."
If they knew how to clap their paws together, the applause would be overwhelming. As it is, the meows are loud and screeching; the way they should be.
But joy doesn't last very long on the battlefield. Within seconds, the high-pitched exclamations of my soldiers are overtaken by a series of low, hollow grunts--the unmistakable sound of a bloodhound.
From out of the shadows, his dripping snout appears; a hound's only real weapon.
Another booming grunt sends my soldiers scattering for cover, barricading themselves behind the square, painted trees and ducking into plastic leaves.
It's easy to fear what you do not know. But I know this snot-ridden face is nothing to fear.
"Brigade, regroup! This hound isn't a threat. He's nothing more than a scout with a scary voice."
The first to inch out of hiding was Corporal Skittles. "But sir, he's a purebred!"
"Skittles, I eat purebreds for breakfast. And right now...I'm pretty hungry..."
To Be Continued...