Year of the Dog

An excerpt from the book “The Blood Ring.”

“I’m gonna feed you to the dogs,” said Fred Greenway brandishing a cleaver. He brought it down and cut into the young punk’s thigh.

Doctor Gus flinched even though he’d seen this a hundred times. Having taken a Lava pill, his brain perceived the high-def images on the screen as real. The narco-psychotic was formulated to assist with augmented reality training. Mindject users take the drug to help them form neurological pathways inside their head so they can perceive artificial imagery or sound. Ingested without a mindjector, Lava forced visceral emotions to merge with one’s logic. The end result is exhilarating for some users, terrifying for others.

“Piece by piece,” growled Fred, the self-styled actor. Dogs barked in the background.

The sequence ended mid-murder, cutting to Fred’s point of view walking through a crowd of partygoers. Every shopfront he passed displayed sordid videos of overt erotica. Doctor Gus knew the location, even when he saw this for the first time.

Robot sex alley.

The place to go if one wanted to experience lovemaking with something that was not quite human. Doctor Gus had frequented these vendors in the past and also owns a second generation sexbot. The newer version still held his fascination. Each upgrade went a step further towards breaking the uncanny valley curse.

Fred entered one of the shops. A female humanoid approached him and spoke, “I’ll need a man for sex. I am ready to be your partner. I guarantee hot sex. I like doing a blowjob.”

“Where’s Kenny?” growled Fred.

The sexbot’s face reacted, programmed to mimic being confused, yet coming across as distraught.

‘How can I help you, buddy?” said a short, plump techno-pimp who’d walked up to the camera.

“Where’s Kenny?”

“No Kenny here, bud.”

Fred reached out and grabbed the guy, bringing down a baton onto the techno-pimp’s head. The sexbot stepped in and shielded the stunned guy from the next blow with its arm. The baton smashed the limb, bending it into a right angle. Fred struck the sexbot on the temple, sending out a spray of orange fluid, splattering the techno-pimp. An oily substance, Doctor Gus recalled, circulated via microtubes within the rubber epidermis to give warmth and colour to the fake humans. The sexbot’s reaction, the way it instinctively moved to protect a human being, intrigued Doctor Gus. Was it programmed? Or it responded under its own volition? He could not tell, even after repeat viewings, but this video was the only evidence to ever show such behaviour.

The dogs barked again but were nowhere be seen. Doctor Gus knew those familiar canines.

Cinderblock and Madness.

He wondered what had gotten his pups all roused up. When the barking persisted Doctor Gus switched off the screen and headed out into his small backyard. His hip-high Labrador Retriever whined, while his Staffordshire Bull Terrier barked up a relentless frenzy, killing his sore ears, “Shut up! Fucking mongrels.” His loud and coarse voice shut up the boisterous dogs but their alertness remained.

Over the fence, he spotted a parked sedan, a dark green senator. When he saw the Psychomax fugitive pacing behind it, panic quelled a short-lived glee. He knew he had no choice but the hand this guy over to the Black Dragons. Yet, doing so also threatened his standing with the Blood Ring. He began to regret springing this guy out of the facility.

“That friend of yours brought me a lot of trouble,” said Doctor Gus after he leashed the dogs and exited from the back gate.

“What friend?” said the angry-looking fugitive infamous for his role as the Bad Samaritan.

“What am I bloody supposed to do now? Is your friend. You know, I can’t sleep at night anymore. Shit, I ‘ate been hassled. Look at you, you’re not even concerned.” Doctor Gus stepped back, pulling his over-excited dogs away from the increasingly distraught fugitive. He felt he was in over his head, especially if the Black Dragons were involved. He now officially regretted taking on this particular Blood Ring assignment. Doctor Gus could have remained an acolyte indefinitely, selling and distributing Lava and other narco-psychedelics to all the organization’s secretive members, earning good dash. Yet the promise of ascension into the darker echelons of the cabal hooked him. These lucrative assignments were given to the topmost rated acolytes. The ranking, measured in loyalty, plus the infamy of The Bad Samaritan, swayed him to take on the mission. Doctor Gus perceived little risk at the time. When Steve Bastione and his slumfucker companion got involved, his mission took on a whole new complexion.

“I need a place to stay,” said the fugitive, panicky and irate.

“Fuck no,” said Doctor Gus. “Don’t come here? Don’t come anywhere near my place. How the hell did you find me?” With his anonymity blown, only one option presented itself. Appease the Black Dragons.

The Valeria Coast gang were new to the game while their main competitors, the Tatars, had abandoned the drug trade for snuff. The north shore gang filled the void left by the Tatars, however, the Black Dragons ended up dominating a fading industry. the legalisation of drugs put a huge dent in their business model, so the gang was always seeking new revenue streams. Doctor Gus figured it a good ploy to get them onside. If the Blood Ring were to go to war against the Tatars, having affiliations with a large gang made sense. He felt convinced the ring members would go for it. He suspected Bastione would get on board, he could see the envious greed in his eyes.

So what to do with this guy?

“You promised us sanctuary,” said the Bad Samaritan.

Doctor Gus looked at the withered man. He couldn’t decide whether to feel pity or disappointment. He expected some darkly charismatic auteur. Inside the Psychomax he showed promise, but when it came to shooting some basic guttersnuff, the genuine and notorious Bad Samaritan was all clumsy, pedestrian, and embarrassingly awkward.

Times have changed, he thought. Plus the diet of psycho drugs over four years didn’t help the man. “Here’s a news flash. You’re out. You’re on your own. That’s how it is. If you wanna go back to the Psychmax, it up to you. You wanna go back?”


“Then get the fuck away from me.” When the moment was right, Doctor Gus would feed him to Bastione to quench his thirst for retribution. Infamous or not, The Bad Samaritan was not his most favourite among the Forbidden Ten snuff films. Instead, Doctor Gus held The Year of the Dog in the highest esteem.

“You helped us get out,” whined the Bad Samaritan. “We produced the video together. We gave you an accurate rendition of The Bad Samaritan. I thought we were going to do this thing. We did our part. You do your part. You made money from this.”

I’m gonna feed you to the dogs, thought Doctor Gus, recalling a line from the high-octane snuff movie about a vigilante who kills gang members one by one, in uniquely gruesome fashions. When software designer, Fred Greenway, strapped on a Headshot G5 and headed down to South Valley to murder him some Tatars, he created what Doctor Gus believes, the most ethereal orgy of violence out there. Shot entire from a first-person point of view, Greenway hunts down and corners the culprits responsible for his daughter’s death in an epic home-made snuff production. Greenway fights, maims, bludgeons, kills, mutilates, dismembers twenty-eight targets in all, capturing all on video, then editing and publishing it to the masses. The scene where he feeds a well-heeled gangster to a pack of wild dogs stands out in Doctor Gus’s memory. Funny, brutal and grotesque, and all too real. “I made nothing. What you delivered wasn’t any good. Nobody liked it. Just stay away from me.”

The man’s face changed. “Bullshit! You lie. You sold my work to the Blood Ring and I want my money. I want in with that group. I want in, you understand?”

Doctor Gus began to feel a slight pity for the deranged man. “No such thing. The Blood Ring doesn’t exist in the way dat ya think, bro. It’s all a big fuckin’ lie we made up that shit to scare the Tatar boys, get them thinking they’re up against some hardcore organisation. They’ve been poaching our snuff business, that’s all. Now if you wanna play with these fuckers, go ahead. You might even like the skin art they dish out as punishment. It hurts, but fuck me, it looks great on a tha little screens.”

The Bad Samaritan went quiet, spending a half minute in deep contemplation, then said, “What do I do with this guy?” The psycho opened up the boot revealing a man, tied up and gagged, struggled to get free, presenting Doctor Gus with another layer of complexity.

“I don’t give a fuck, mate?”

“If I get caught, I am going to rat you out, expose you for what you are.”

“Are you serious? You are a fucking demented and certified idiot. You don’t even know who I am? And what I can do to you. Be very careful, asshole. Inside that head of yours, you believe you are this force of nature, something that should be reckoned with. No, you are absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. You are a powerless piece of shit. A non-entity. A fuckin’ nobody. Ask Francoise, he’ll tell ya. Ask him. Where is he? Francoise! Where are you? Tell this dickhead how inconsequential he is. Francoise, tell him, please tell him. Come on, where are you.” Doctor Gus turned and walked away, pulling his dogs with him.

“I know who you are. I found you, remember.”

Doctor Gus laughed and yelled, “Francoise, come and tell this idiot.”

I’m gonna have to feed you to the dogs, Doctor Gus thought and chuckled at the irony.