Circle of Life

Janie had a doggy that she made all by herself. She called him Fluffy. Janie always had been precocious.

“Fluffy,” said Janie’s mommy. “What a cute name!”

“It’s short,” Janie informed her, “for Fluffenstein.”

She made him out of different parts of dogs from the pet graveyard. She mixed and matched to give him all the things she wanted in a dog. His body came from a border collie, for its quick reflexes, and his legs from a greyhound, for its speed. Janie thought she might like to show him in agility trials someday. The tail came from a golden retriever, because it was pretty. And the head came from a poodle; Janie had heard they were really smart. Just to make sure, though, she threw in a few computer chips too.

Janie and Fluffy did all the things other kids and dogs did. Janie taught Fluffy how to fetch, and he became very good: he could catch a ball in mid-air. He also learned to go out and find a fresh brain for Janie to experiment with, then race back before it had time to get smelly. Janie thought she might like a little sister someday.

Fluffy didn’t swim so well, though. Whenever he tried, the wires running through his various parts always short circuited, and then Mom complained that the house smelled like a wet toaster.

In the summer, Janie’s family went away for a week, and she had to leave Fluffy in a kennel. Fluffy didn’t like that. He ate one of the assistants before they managed to get a muzzle on him. The kennel people tried to put him down after that, but Fluffy got loose and barricaded everyone in the closet.

Janie’s daddy wasn’t happy when he got the bill from the kennel and the letter from their lawyers, so he made Fluffy stay out in his doghouse and said Janie couldn’t play with him anymore. But Janie snuck out at night to keep Fluffy company. She brought him his favorite toys to play with, and at the end of the week Fluffy had finished fortifying his dog house. It now had a small moat with a metal-spiked drawbridge, a high tower, and wide windows with beautiful views of the neighbor’s garden. Fluffy was quite happy there.

Janie never did make a little sister; she decided she wanted a kitty instead. Fluffy proved to be an excellent hunter, and soon Janie had plenty of parts to choose from to make her kitty. She used a long-haired calico’s body, because she loved the soft fur. For the head she used a little white kitten, since it would stay cute forever. Janie wanted to make sure that no other cats would bother her new kitty, so she gave it the sharp-clawed feet of an ocelot she found at the zoo. Janie named her kitty Patches.

Patches wasn’t as smart as Fluffy, but she proved quite dexterous with her claws. She even helped install a security system for Fluffy’s dog house. He had included the design in his original plan, but his bulkier nails couldn’t quite manage the wiring.

Janie and Fluffy and Patches played together all the time. Janie never grew tired of her pets, even as she grew older. Janie played fetch with Fluffy every day, although she no longer sent him out to find fresh brains. Instead she just stored a few different ones in the freezer, and hid them around the house for Fluffy to seek out. For Patches, Janie would tie a wiggly string to the back of a tractor trailer. Patches loved to zig zag in and out of traffic as the driver frantically raced down the freeway.

Fluffy and patches like to work together on projects when Janie was away at school. Fluffy would do the design work, and Patches would assemble the machines. They made devices that helped Janie do her chores faster, but Fluffy’s favorite invention was the mailbox-shaped arm trap. Fortunately, by the time Janie’s parents noticed that the mail never came any more, they’d realized it was usually better to just not ask any questions.

A car hit Janie on her way home from school one day. The doctors worked as hard as they could, but lost her anyway. Fluffy howled nonstop, and Patches yowled along with him. After the funeral they went to the graveyard. Fluffy sniffed out Janie’s body and dug it up. He took it home to Patches, who began working on it in the basement, following Fluffy’s instructions very carefully. Fluffy went back out and found three other young bodies. One had fast legs for running. The other had strong arms for throwing things. And the third had a young, healthy heart which could, with the proper modifications, beat forever.

Fluffy and Patches had a girl that they made all by themselves. They called her Janie. Janie’s pets always had been precocious.

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