He wanted to stay. Stay like the good boy he was. Stay at the dwelling of his family. Stay with Dad and Mom and Sylvia and… Cooper. Cooper was only about eight, a human puppy. He was his favorite. It was Cooper that had given him his name, Dodger. It was Cooper that had played with him, thrown the ball, thrown the stick, thrown the plastic disk, and a bunch of other things he had "fetched" for Cooper. It was a fun game.

Now, Cooper was on the floor, his ebony skin a lifeless, dark gray color. Black, sticky life fluid around him. Dodger had not seen how Cooper died nor did he see him dead now. He could smell it, hear it, sense it. The smell of death was heavy. Decay and blood accompanied it as Dodger laid by Cooper's side, nudging his hand. The lack of heartbeats in his ears was very unsettling, causing him to whine out. Before, he could hear the whole house alive with their distinctive sounds. Now, it was hollow and quiet. This made him want to hear something, anything. He licked Cooper's hand and nudged every part of him, but the boy was dead.

Then the smell was back; an evil smell he had first encountered outside the village. He had been out around the village and had gone just a little ways past the candelabra tree. He was forbidden to go near or even past it, but that strange smell was on the air. A smell he had never taken in before. It was not enticing, but deadly and bitter. Something he didn't like so he decided to investigate.

The smell increased like the scent of a storm, but the wind had betrayed him. It was not coming in from the West, like he had thought. It was coming from the North. A cloud of dust and debris had come up with it and there were lots of them – whatever they were. Dodger raced back into the village and was met with horrible sounds and smells. Screams of humans, burning flesh, splashes of blood, melted brick, and demonic howls. The people of the village were dying all around him, and the buildings were being destroyed, but he couldn't worry about that. He had to get home.

When he had, it was too late. His family was dead. Mom and Dad seemed to have tried to stop them, but were killed near the front door. Sylvia had been in her room, hiding under her bed, but they ripped up her and her bed. Cooper was the worst, he had been eviscerated. Like another dog, a vicious, large, stinking dog, had gotten a hold of him and eaten his insides. Dodger had done that to rats, mice, and even a few chickens, but would never do it to a human or a cat. He had been taught that rats and mice were pests and needed to be exterminated from the village. Chickens were costly, but it sure was fun. He tried very hard not to chase them, but if he felt the need, he tried not to kill them.

What could do this to a human though? Humans were big, lovable, playful things. What would do this to a human? Dodger was so confused. The evil was unfathomable, especially to be done to Cooper. He was the most playful, wonderful human puppy. All you had to do was ask him, he'd probably tell you. True, Dodger didn't speak human, but that didn't matter. Cooper was always happy, and tenfold happy when him and Dodger were together.

Dodger just laid there, by Cooper's side, and he couldn't help but wonder when this nightmare would be over. Cooper would just get up and tell him it was all a game, and that he was a good boy for staying by his side. He'd get a pat on the head, a hug, maybe even some raw chicken that they kept for special occasions. No more fun and games though. No more pets or pats, no more hugs or kisses, all of that was gone. All that was left was a corpse, a lifeless bit of meat that used to be his friend, his family. It took Dodger a long time to get used to the idea and slowly trotted away, leaving the only home he had ever known.

Outside in the mangled village, fear took hold of him. Standing in a gore pile he whined and stepped out of it with a few more wines, laying down to lick his paws clean. It tasted ghastly to him. It was human and bitter tasting. The faster he licked, the faster it would be off his paws.

While he lay there, cleaning and whining, a noise made him stand and listen. It was a heavy, thudding sound. It was footsteps, much like a human would make, but heavier and more resolute. These steps had purpose, a nefarious purpose. Dodger wanted to run, but what if it was another human? Maybe someone who would find a safe place for him, feed him, wash him up? His tail started wagging. Then came the smell. A decayed, metallic stench mixed with that evil stink. The one that had come from the North and destroyed everything Dodger called safe. This was no human.

A metal horned abomination turned the corner and let out this guttural growl at Dodger. Its exposed skull had a shine, looking like a bull and a human. A piercing, bright light flashed from its arm in the shape of a sword. Flesh clung to the metal and vise-versa. It was some kind of humanoid creature that wasn't what any of its parts alluded to being. This was something new, something horrible.

Dodger growled back at the thing, but it did little to dissuade the giant beast. It tried to skewer the dog, but Dodger avoided the strike and ran like he had never run before. Through town, over the small bridge above the water trough, under the wire fence, through the chicken coop, and past several more smaller things that looked beastly with glowing eyes and sharp teeth. They had the smell. Dodger rounded a few alleyways with red meaty paste covering adjacent walls, and ran straight out of the village. By the time he was sprinting across the savanna, the sky had gone from a bright blue to a boiled crimson. Blood lightning, black clouds, and horrifying shadows filled the air. That pungent aroma invaded the world and Dodger stopped as he saw more shadows on the horizon. It looked like another storm of things, evil things, all coming for him. One shadow was so large that it looked like a walking mountain. It had the body of a human, but the size of an enormous tree.

Sitting there, shaking with a whine, Dodger looked for a way to escape, but each way looked the same. Massive, open land with not one building or human in sight. All he could do was pick a direction and hope that a human was at the end of it. He had to find a human, or maybe another dog, one who was a good boy… like him.

He raised his nose and sniffed the air. There had to be a good thing somewhere. There was always good things to smell. How he wished to smell anything close to Cooper. However, all that filled his nose was blood, evil, and dust. His snoot sick of that smell, that stench heavy and saddening.

The shadow army grew closer with new and terrible things clustered in the approaching horde. Flying round meatballs with teeth and a single glaring eyeball. Human-looking monsters with purple and orange flames in their hands; rotund beasts that waddled with the others, carrying big metal guns for hands. Dodger whined more, peeing on the ground. Even now he was a good boy for peeing outside, just like Mom, Dad, and Cooper had taught him.

He ran. He ran away from the approaching storm of multicolored fire and gnashing teeth. Running from his dead family, his invaded village, his desecrated home. Away from the bloodthirsty monsters and towards hope, towards a dream, a wish that he will find another human. He didn't want to be lost or alone anymore.

As he panted, wishing to see blue sky again, a subtle smell came to him. It was barely noticeable among the evil, kind of like a flower in a waste dump. Dodger tried hard to focus on it. He let the good smell lead him. It didn't smell like Cooper, but it did smell human, at least enough for him to follow it.

Meanwhile, the storm of evil was behind him. It seemed to follow him to the smell. Dodger wasn't sure if they were aware of it, but he was. He began second-guessing himself, since he was leading the monster storm right to this good smell. If it was human, he didn't want be responsible for damning another village. He had to get help though. He had to find a place to rest and relax.

His legs began to ache as he ran. That smell got stronger as he got closer. Now it smelled like a rose garden amid a waste dump. Faster. His muscles pulled and burned as the storm drew nearer. Panting harder, Dodger was determined to discover the smell. New olfactory information came in. Yes, it was human, but it was an adult… a man. He also seemed to be armored with a metal Dodger hadn't smelled before. True, he had only smelled cheap or rusted metal, but this was bulky, strong, well-kept metal. In fact, it might be an altogether new metal.

A few candelabra trees passed him as he ran. Their smell a distant thing between the evil smell and the human rose. That sweet smell driving Dodger on to find another Cooper, or a Cooper-like individual. However, he didn't know how long he could keep running like this. He had never been this far outside the village, he had never been this far anywhere. Home was all he knew, and it laid in ruins a far distance back. As long as that storm was on him though, he would keep his legs moving.

Suddenly, he felt this painful knife go into his foot pad and he tumbled, head-over-tail, into the dirt. Lying in the middle of a vast, yellow nothingness, he sniffed his foot and his nose ran across a small, embedded stone. He had gotten them before, but Cooper or Mom had always pulled them out for him. It required human hands, something Dodger didn't have right now. He did try with his teeth, but it was no use. They were big and clumsy, and they were wielded by somebody who was also big and clumsy.

The storm was over him with bright, surging colors flying past him. Green, glowing slime balls, pulsating purple lightning balls, and fire orange orbs. He struggled to his feet and began running again. He limped slowly with the storm right behind him, roaring with all kinds of beasts. Big beasts, evil beasts, beasts that had killed Mom, Dad, Sylvia, and Cooper.

That sweet smell was close. Dodger could almost feel the plastic disk in his mouth again, feel the fun of playing with a human, the warm love of a human once again. That smell was now a field of flowers, there was no waste dump anymore. All that mattered was that smell.

That was when the storm hit him. One of the beasts' flaming attacks caught his hind-quarters. It slapped Dodger off the ground and took him for a ride through the air. He landed with a hard slam, bouncing twice. Smoke coiled upwards from the wound and it stung Dodger like a million bees. He whined loudly, barking with pain. He knew he couldn't get up from this.

Shadows covered him as the storm had caught up. Dodger knew he was dead. He would be ripped apart in seconds. Gnashed in between teeth, shattered by feet or hooves, torn apart by claws, or melted by some color of fire. He could hear them over his whines and pathetic yaps as he tried to crawl on the ground. It was no use. Soon, he would be with Cooper again and he began to think, Would that be so bad?

His sight suddenly filled with blinding, green light. As if the sun itself had turned emerald. But no… that wasn't it. The blindness faded as Dodger watched the green sun set and collide into the storm. Lightning reached out from the star and evaporated most of the beasts while the rest were expunged by the star exploding into a colorful green mist. The storm had been cleared.

Dodger looked up and saw another shadow over him. That flowery human smell now stronger than ever. It made Dodger bark happily and wag his tail. Even though it hurt his seared flank to wag his tail, he did it out of pure instinct. His tongue lolled out of his mouth and slapped the dirt as he panted. He let out another happy bark as the shadow became clear.

Standing over him was an adult, human male. He was covered head-to-toe in armor and was holding a large gun of some sort. (Dodger really didn't know guns or weapons.) The man bent down and ran an armored hand over his head. Dodger's tail thumped the ground more and he tried to lick the man's face plate.

Oddly, the man said nothing. Usually when Dodger met a stranger, they talked to him, but this strange armored human was as quiet as death itself. The only thing that did make sounds was his armor and that gun. Even as the man petted him, the only thing that made noise was Dodger and the armor. Licking his hand, he didn't care. He was just happy to be near a human… or, at least, something with a human scent. Something that was being kind to him. It told him that he was a good boy.

Soon, Dodger felt his body rise and float through the air. The man had picked him up effortlessly to which Dodger was shocked. No one had ever picked him up like that. Every human he had known struggled to handle his weight. Even Dad, as strong as he was, grunted with exertion. This man though, lifted him and carried him like he was a cloud.

Dodger's tail still wagged, despite his injuries. He watched the savanna pass by him like he was flying – no – gliding through the air, like a giant hawk on wings that would never let him down. Something in him wanted to face the opposite way and let his jowls and tongue flap in the wind, but he didn't have the energy. For right now he was content with staying with the man and getting some sleep. Sleep was nice, that's exactly what he needed, sleep. Sleep now, jowl and tongue flapping later.

Dodger woke up to a bright light on a metal table. His paw felt much better and his haunch had stopped aching. He could feel the bandage around his tail and butt. He tried to wag his tail, but something kept it from shaking as much as it should. All around him were humans dressed in white. He sniffed at them and licked their hands, all of them he could see. They had on latex gloves and were careful where they touched him. He heard a person go "Aww" and say, "You're safe now, its going to be all right."

A voice came from the distance, a weird human voice that sounded like it was being spoken through a fan. "Will he be all right?" He was an alpha male, for sure. The "Dad" of this family.

A female voice, soft and courteous, told him, "I think so, Dr. Hayden. Guy's been through a lot."

"Obviously. Never though a dog could make it through a horde like that."

"He probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for The Doom Slayer."

"Yes," the voice hissed. "Still, a dog like that is invaluable to keep around. Luckily we were able to track him through ARC battlefield data after The Slayer got him on that chopper. Amazing for some stray mutt to get through the Hell horde like he did."

The white coat humans parted and up came a machine that stood like a human, looked a little human, but was definitely not human. It was bigger than any human, and reminded Dodger a little of the metal beast. He whined a bit, scared. He smelled something he didn't like, but the metal man patted the dog and told him in that through-the-fan voice, "It's all right now, you're safe. You're a good boy."

Now, more than ever, Dodger wished he could wag his tail. He instantly trusted the machine and wished he smelled more human.

The machine turned from Dodger and said, "Start the process. I want him transferred in a month's time."