Title: Browser Takes a Walk
Fandom: Original universe: Lovie's corner of the Cracked Phoenix universe, pre-anything; all rights are belong to me.
Rating: Strong language
Length: 2645 words
Summary: Lovie takes her college roommate Becca's dog Browser for a walk.
Notes: I wrote this for a (belated) Christmas gift for my aunt. I finished it up just now. Cocoa butter lacks caffeine and theobromine, which are the parts of chocolate toxic to dogs.
Browser Takes a Walk
My dingbat roommate Becca managed to break her ankle, so I was stuck walking Browser for the duration. Browser is my roommate's dog, a giant black lab. Do not ask me how we manage to keep a dog in the dorm, because I am not entirely sure. The dog is named Browser because she will cheerfully get into very bad things, cause problems with your computer, completely trash your computer, and pick up viruses. My roommate loves her. My roommate is also possibly certifiably insane.
So there I was stuck walking the dog. Becca's alarm went off the first morning, before the crack of dawn as always. I rolled over and was going to go back to sleep, as always, but Becca prodded me with one of her crutches.
"What?" I grumbled, head already back under the pillow.
"Browser needs to be walked," she hissed at me.
"Can't Browser wait?"
"She chews on things if she has to wait to go potty in the morning. Besides, you don't want the dorm monitors to see her, do you?"
That was a compelling argument. Not that I would have minded if Browser had needed to be sent back to the loving arms of Becca's parents, but since I had been complicit in the hiding of Browser throughout the months she'd been here so far, I would join Becca in hot water over this if we should be caught harboring an animal. I got up and pulled on a sweatsuit and slippers.
"You don't want to wear that," Becca said.
"I'm not getting dressed at this hour," I said. "This is cutting into my beauty sleep, I hope you realize, and I expect you to make this up to me in some fashion."
"You're going to regret the slippers," Becca told me, but given that I wore my slippers to the dining hall and sometimes to my first classes, Becca clearly didn't know what she was rattling on about.
She clipped the leash on Browser and shoved some baggies at me. "You'll need these," she said, giving up on the slipper front.
"What for?" I asked, though I had a suspicion that I knew. I was right. "Ewww," I said, but there was no help for it. Browser and I slipped out of the room, the door automatically shutting and locking behind us.
We sneaked down the back stairs, the ones that nobody ever used because you could only go down and out, not up and in, not unless you had two accomplices to keep the doors propped open for you to smuggle up the keg. Not that I knew anything about that. Well, I sneaked. Browser is fundamentally incapable of sneaking, although she did try. She only barked once, and perhaps the infernal echoes gave her as much of a headache as I got, or maybe she was just scared by the idea that there might be a dog bigger than she was, because she shut up after that. She did keep clattering and panting, though, straining at the limits of the retractable leash and clearly longing to throw herself headlong down the stairs in some sort of lemming imitation. I clung to the railing and did not go flying after her.
The fire exit downstairs deposited us out a relatively discreet back door, near enough to the bits of woods where there were trails where the insane outdoors people went biking and jogging and for all I know had their extreme roller derbies. That seemed like an excellent place to take a hyperactive black lab, and the only people who would see us there would already be preoccupied with whatever they were doing and pay no mind to a fellow lunatic out for a morning stroll with a slavering hairy monster.
Things started out well. After her first burst of activity (and peeing on the ground right outside the dorm) Browser settled down, trotting alongside me with plenty of slack in even the short length of leash. We walked off the sidewalk into one of the paths leading into the woods. The ground was nicely hard from an early frost that hadn't melted yet, and the sun was barely up. Quiet chirps came from the trees as birds started to notice the dawn. The air was clean and fresh and cool. If this was what mornings were like, I could become a fan.
Into this scene of sylvan tranquility burst Browser, woofing and circling around a promising-looking tree, dragging me flying after her. A flock of birds erupted from it, screaming and scattering droppings. Browser lunged at the sky, barking and snapping toothsome jaws at the escaping birds. Some more of her leash rolled out as she tugged, and then she gave another yank and the leash slipped out of my hand entirely. She blundered after them, hopelessly entangling herself and her leash in the bushes off the path. This was actually a good thing, as between running after her, and her towing me along, I'd stubbed my toe on a tree root and pitched over onto my face.
I got up and brushed myself off. The ground was cold, and I now had leaves and sticks stuck to my nice clean sweatsuit. I retrieved Browser from the bushes. Somewhat more subdued, Browser pulled me along the path, sniffling at things here and there, stopping at interesting trees to squat and mark them. I thought only boy dogs were supposed to go in for that, but evidently Browser had never heard of this.
I watched closely, and eventually she did do her business. Hating her, myself, and especially my roommate the whole time, I scraped it into a baggie with a stick, then dropped the baggie into another baggie and tied it firmly shut. Ew. The less said about that, the better. I dangled the bag from a finger and prayed that I did not run into anyone I knew before we got back.
After Browser's boundless energy started to dim, and I was starting to feel hungry, we turned around. My lovely fluffy slippers had all sorts of outside-stuff on them, and it was going to be a lot harder to wash them than it was my sweatsuit. Becca really should have warned me that her dog was a terror and a monster and not fit for human company while being walked.
Browser spotted a squirrel or something and dashed after it, just as I was starting to become resigned to my fate for the next few weeks of being dragged about by the hyperactive beast and scooping her poop. I was dragged along, slippers skidding and catching on the dirt. I caught sight of the furry little blur as Browser bounded after it. The thing's legs were short, and Browser's were long, so I wasn't sure the thing had much of a chance. It skittered up into the branches of a tree right in front of us, and chattered indignantly at Browser and me. Mostly at Browser, but partly at me too.
Browser looked at the squirrel, looked at the tree, and backed up. I backed up with her. Perhaps, I thought optimistically, Browser had picked up some sense. "C'mon, girl," I said.
That was about where it gets blurry, because the next thing I know, Browser had taken a flying leap, and was halfway up the leaning trunk of the tree, woofing madly, before I could do much about it. At least, that's where she and her leash were by the time I picked myself up off the ground again. The squirrel scampered further out of reach, and Browser growled and inched up the tree a little more.
Normally the campus fire department gets phone calls about people doing dumb things in their dorm rooms involving fire, usually also involving alcohol. I decided that if the fire department is the appropriate place to call for a cat in a tree, they should also be able to address the matter of a dog in a tree. Unfortunately, I'd managed to leave my cellphone in the dorm, in my rush to get out the door with Browser.
"Get out of the tree, you damn dumb dog!" I shouted.
Browser was too busy barking at the squirrel to listen to me. She lunged a few more inches up the tree. I grabbed after the end of the leash, but it had rolled up some more and the handle was dangling out of reach. Eventually I got tired of yelling and waving, and found a fallen log to sit on while I waited for the dog to come down out of the tree.
The squirrel got bored of taunting Browser and climbed further up the tree. Browser watched it go, whining in frustration and getting in a few last barks. Then she looked at the leaning tree trunk, looked at the ground, looked at the tree trunk again, and looked at me and started whining. Clearly, she was not entirely sure how to get back down out of the tree now that she was up there.
"You should have thought of that before you went up there," I said, entirely without sympathy.
She just whined at me more, clearly expecting me to do something about her predicament.
I sighed and shuffled over to the tree. I held up my arms. "C'mon, I'll lift you down," I said. "Lie down." I could just about reach the branch, and she could put her paws over my shoulders. I was stronger than I looked, really, and if I could lift one of my own suitcases as far as the overhead bins on an airplane, then I could certainly lift a dog down from a tree. What self-respecting dog winds up in a tree, anyway?
Browser started panting again, with a big doggy grin, and wagged her tail furiously. She crouched down on the tree and peered at me, angling her neck this way and that, looking where to place her paws on my shoulders.
"That's a girl," I said. I lifted up my arms.
Browser launched herself out of the tree and right on top of me, knocking me over, and knocking the wind clean out of me. Luckily, the ground was soft. I caught my breath again to find that she was giving my face a thorough tongue bath. Maybe she liked the taste of cocoa butter, because she was being really enthusiastic, with lots of drool. I pushed her off the top of me, got to my feet again, and picked as many of the sticks as I could out of my hair.
I picked up the fallen bag of dog poop. "Are we done yet?" I asked her, and grabbed a firm hold of the leash, wrapping it around my hand a few times for good measure.
She looked back up at me with great big brown eyes and gave me another doggy grin.
I ignored her, and started walking back to the dorms. Becca was very lucky that I was a loyal roommate, because this was just beyond all human tolerance.
We made our way out of the woods without incident. Browser jogged along next to me, not tugging on the leash, just loping along in silence. That was very good, because I was about at the end of my rope.
The back door was shut when we came up to it. I pulled up short. Hadn't I wedged a rock in there to keep it open a crack? I could have sworn that I had. Either I hadn't, or some responsible citizen had taken it out, but either way, we were going in the front door. I sighed, and hoped that it was still early enough that there was no one at the front desk, because if there was, our cover was blown.
We rounded the corner of the building. Aside from some scary morning person jogging down the sidewalk with headphones on, it looked like we were clear. Browser and I scuttled for the entrance, trying to look as if we belonged there. We reached the entrance, and I pulled open one side of the double doors just as someone opened them from the other side, swinging the door back into my face.
"I'm sorry," I said, clutching my nose and eye.
"I'm sorry," my dormmate said, and zipped past on her way to something that was clearly more important than the fact that she'd just walloped someone hard in the face with a huge hunk of painted metal.
I watched her retreating figure with some annoyance, then felt a warm wet dripping. "God-dammit!" I said. My nose was bleeding. I looked down further, and saw that this was not all: Browser had stopped and was peeing again.
"Let's find you another damn shrubbery," I said, and stalked off to one of the bushes on the lawn. "Empty your bladder, bitch, because we're going back inside in five minutes."
Browser sniffed at the bush, but did not seem too interested.
I stood there and stared at her.
"Oh my God," someone said. "Are you all right?"
"I'm just fine," I said automatically, and looked up to meet the eyes of a campus police officer standing right in front of me.
"You don't look fine to me," he said, and I realized that I must look a mess, what with my bloodied nose and all.
"No, I'm fine," I said. "I walked into the door as it was opening."
"And the door gave you a black eye and scratches on your shoulders too?" he said skeptically.
I was about to explain when Browser woofed and started jumping up and down. "What is your damage, dog?" I asked her.
She charged up to the policeman and started sniffling her way up his leg, pausing briefly at his crotch, then fastening her attention on the pocket of his windbreaker. He twisted away from her, but Browser followed him, trying to stick her nose in his pocket. "Bad dog!" I said, but the leash whizzed out of the reel as she twisted, binding his legs in red nylon. She grasped an edge of paper in her teeth, and yanked. I hauled on the leash, trying to get her under control. She squiggled away and wrapped a loop of loose leash around one of my legs, and went back to her investigation of the pocket, barking furiously and leaking drool.
"I'm sorry!" I gasped, trying to haul her away. My heels dug gouges on the soft turf.
Browser got a better grasp on the pocket, and yanked something horribly greasy and fast-food out. She started wolfing it down.
"Bad dog!" I yelled, and tried hauling her off again. Nothing doing -- the last of whatever it was, paper and all, disappeared down her gullet just as I got to her collar.
She licked my face again.
We unwound the cop and the leash, and I grimly started back to the dorms, conversation with the cop abandoned and the better for it. Browser hung back, and I came to a full stop as I hit the end of the leash.
Browser had squatted again, and was merrily peeing on the cop's shoes.
"I am so very sorry," I said, and dug around in my pocket for a packet of tissues or something. I came up with a handful of empty baggies, and put one over my hand and tried to brush the worst of the pee off the shiny boots.
"Are you sure you're all right?" the cop asked again, waving away my attempts, and actually locating tissues of his own.
"Never better," I said. I dragged Browser with me back into the dorm and up the stairs. God. I was not sure how I was going to survive until Becca was back on her feet.