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Bu-Dog in the underworld
 

"Meow-Kitty, where do we go when we die?"

"We go under the earth."

"How do we get there?"

"Do you know the slot on the side of the street?"

"Yes."

"Through the slot."

"If we're dead, how do we get into the slot?"

"The fantasy animal takes us there."

"The fantasy animal?"

"That's what they call it."

"Why?"

"Because it doesn't look like any normal animal, and it's covered in lots of short blue feathers."

"Is it a bird?"

"I don't know.  No one's ever looked too hard at it."

"Blue? Is that the color of this apple?"  All he saw was grey.

"No."

"How about this apple?"

"No."

"Is it the color of that car?"  Paul's car.

"Yes."

"So it's the same color as the grass."

She had to think for a second.  "Yes."

"How do you know  all of this?"

"I heard it from some of the cats."

"So how come I've never seen it?"

"Because to see it you have to die for it to come around."

"And then what?"

"At night, the fantasy animal comes and takes you into the slot.  If your friends burn your body, it comes when the last flames go out."

Bu-Dog pondered this for a few minutes and by the afternoon thought nothing more of it.  He wandered into Iroquois Street to play with a ball.  He nosed it along until it hit the curve.  Then he ran behind it and nosed it over to the other side of the street.  It began to rain, but he kept on playing.  Eventually, the rain turned into a flood, and the street was full of water.  Before he knew it, Bu-Dog was swept into the slot.  He was confused.  He didn't see the blue fantasy animal.  Was he dead?

He felt himself falling and with a splash, he hit some more water.  Oh no, he thought, I'm going into the ground.  The water was a little cool, even for August.  He was floating along with some leave and  twigs.  It smelled like roots down there.  His voyage  continued slowly.   He looked up at the ground above him and lay on his back as he watched the cracks and roots and spiderwebs.

All of a sudden, a torrent of water poured through the tunnel.  It filled his nose with water.  Suddenly things were going much faster.  Then his little stream dumped out sideways into a bigger one.  Strange voyage, the little dog thought to himself.  The water  went faster and faster.  Would he drown?  No, he was dead already.  Curious.

Then he saw a light.  It was grey and rushed up quickly.  He was out of the earth and flying.  He landed in the water again, but now the whole world was open around him.  He looked up and behind him.  He had been thrown from a big metal pipe.  Now he was in the river.  He began to dogpaddle back, but the current was too strong.  And it was very cold.  Far away, he could see the bridge.  But there was nothing he could do.

Eventually, he dragged along the shore.  He saw a tree branch hanging in the water.  He grabbed it with his teeth.  His little body crashed into the shore.  Then he scrambled up the side of the embankment  onto the rocks.  He fell asleep.  When he woke up, he realized that he was alive.  He began walking back toward his home, of course stopping to sniff various things along the way: the parking-lot gates, a hubcap, a plant.

When he got home, he was dry. Meow-Kitty wanted to know where he had been.

"Well?"

"Meow-Kitty, you'll never guess where I went."

"To the garbage can behind the Harlequin Cafe?"

"No.  To the underworld."

"Sure, Bu-Dog.  You're alive.  How could you have done that?"

"I went in through the slot."

"So what did the fantasy animal look like?"

"I didn't get to see it.  Maybe it pushed me in."

"Did you get hit by a car first?"

"No."

"So what did you see inside the earth?"

"It was like a big tube full of water.  And it led to the river."

"How big was the tube?"

"Wider than me."

"So there was no big open place inside the earth?"

"No."

"Were there any other animals?"

"Not that I could tell."

"Okay."  She found it hard to believe.

Neither of them saw the fantasy animal looking at them from the elm tree.

DAST