The picnic was to be a fine place for hospital employees and their families to relax a bit. The latest reports said that their work in the HIV department had spared tens of thousands already. They were happy.

Escher leans against a stucco wall and watches as the burgers on the grill get served just a moment too soon to be healthy. He doesn't even have to wave his hand, to get that batch to be transferred.

Everyone will blame the cook, or the meat, or the butcher, or the cows.

Not him - oh no, never quite look in the simplest of places. Escher was one of the oldest actual viruses that the human body hosted, so he knew more than his siblings about how intestines work.

The radio is playing loudly, and someone asks him if he wants to dance. "Of course I do," he tells her. She's sweet. She's had hepatitis and never known it. On their way around the grounds, Escher drifts them close to the grill again, where he manages to truly confound efforts to locate the source of the e-coli outbreak by infecting two dozen hotdogs and even a wrapped up tofu-dog. You never know.

But he does.


Escher got kind of tired of waiting for someone to bring him out to a dragon site. Why would he have to wait, anyway? He was the best looking of the batch of Virus' kids, probably the most charming, and he danced the best.

So, while one of the others dragons was also bored, he happened to ask, "hey, where should I go find myself a dragon like you?"

"Lantessama Isle," said Pylori's dangerous fire dragoness. "I will take you there."

But when she got him there it was almost too late - they had had a great big Halloween hatching and he'd come after the start of it. "It's all right," someone said, shoving him into the dark cavern where the dragons were hatching, "go on in. There's probably something in there ready for a guy like you."

"You don't even know me!" Escher said, "how would you know?"

But he did go into the cavern and ... sure enough there was a dragon. She ... sat looking at him with angry eyes.

"I waited, and I waited." She spat. "And finally, here you are. Late. I hope you're not going to be late any more."

"Late has so many meanings," Escher said. "Now... What's your name?"

The dragon swung her head around with a vicious snarl, "you can't tell?"

"Rabies!" He cried out with glee. The dragoness turned her attitude off, or at least down a notch, when he said her name.

"Yes - you and I will have such fun together! You're a trickster..."

"You're beautiful on the outside," Escher replied with a grin. "And like me, you're going to tear up anyone stupid enough to get near!"


After returning home to the hospital grounds, Escher has to introduce Rabies to everyone. They are duly impressed. Pylori and his red Glenn dragoness especially. "Nice dragon," Pylori laughs. "Are you going to let her ... well, she can't exactly 'fly' now can she?"

Rabies snarls at the offending relative.

"You are going to get bit, and you won't be happy with the results," Rabies says.

"What she said," Escher smiles, and walks her to their new home.


It was true, they couldn't fly. But Rabies enjoys a certain kind of status anyway, because she is always attending Escher as they meet and greet people. Most people are impressed first by her color, then by her size, and lastly by her great big teeth. They often notice just too late that they're dripping a kind of frothy, white stuff...

"I'm bored," Rabies said, listlessly pawing at a dead squirrel she'd infected the week before.

With her biting only selected animals now and again, the CDC people were having an absolute terror alert. Animals that hardly ever carried the disease would turn up - poodles were her favorite target, expensive fancy high-bred ones. The vectoring from that one dog show alone cost hundreds of thousands in vet bills for hoidy-toidy people.

But Rabies wanted to do something more than show up as a thinly disguised brindle-coated Saluki at dog shows.

So Escher got it into his head that they should take a road trip. Just him and his 'dog', in a dirty but well-tuned truck, across the country. The still-present lab techs and nurses couldn't be happier to be rid of this particular pair, even though there were some of the girls working nearby that had survived bouts with his infection and didn't even care it was Escher doing it. He bid them a fonder farewell than others. No, that meant he didn't infect them as he drove off...


They headed south first, into the Florida area, and then swung west. It was a marvelous way to start a vacation - leaving a spotty trail of disease behind them. Rabies had to admit that sitting in the back of a fast-moving truck got her mind off her prior boredom, it was something to see her slavering jaws occasionally letting loose a gout of frothy spittle that struck the windshield of the cars behind them. Escher just laughed and laughed at that.

Finally they entered the Texas area, and here both 'man' and 'dog' were left in awe. "It really is that big," Escher muttered.

They drove for days, not really trying to get anywhere in particular. The people were reasonably friendly (though truth be told, not as friendly as those in Louisiana, at least towards a black man) and always had a spare burger or taco or burrito at their park-side cookouts.

Continuing westward, but not quite out of Texas (Rabies had even wondered aloud, 'does it just go on forever?') the Lantessama beast perked her 'ears' up. "What is that?"

"I don't know," Escher said, over the wind in the cab of the truck, "let's find out."

They'd been traveling past a farm of some kind, didn't look like it was in too good shape, really. In fact it looked more and more abandoned as they got nearer. There were no cars, no sign of habitation - the house itself was boarded, but broken into and spray-painted.

And there was a growling coming from the back yard of the house.


Even Escher had to blink a couple times to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.

"That's... really... weird," he commented, finally. The grey-colored and spine-backed creature didn't bother looking up from its feast on what looked like a goat. There were other goats, Escher had seen them scattering around the gentle hills. Lots of them, actually.

"It's a Chupacabra!" Rabies exclaimed, and at that, the creature looked up sharply. Well, it looked sharply anyway - covered as it was in spines like that. Rabies threw herself off the shed she'd been rooting around in, and landed before the bigger beast. Well they were around the same length, it looked as though Rabies was much thinner though.

And, of course, they hit it off famously. The grey colored beast shared his lunch - he sucked it dry and Rabies devoured the meat and bones.

"Oh that's just perfect," Escher said proudly. "You gonna come home with us, Chewy?"

The beast gave a strange yipping sound, so odd coming from such a big animal. He was more upright than Rabies, and she didn't seem to mind his spines at all.

Yes, this would definitely be a good trip...

Size: 2-3m long (big bear)
Abilities: Venomous spines, venomous bite, can hop very far (up to 6m per leap), general claws/teeth mauling
Diet: Goat blood (they're called "goat suckers" for a reason)

** Cannot use telepathy or speech, but he seems to understand Escher and Rabies.

From Delyar's chupacabra/mythology giveaway 2009