• ๐’ฒ๐‘’๐“๐’ธ๐‘œ๐“‚๐‘’ ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐“‚๐“Ž ๐“Œ๐‘’๐’ท๐“ˆ๐’พ๐“‰๐‘’! ๐’ฒ๐‘œ๐“Œ ๐“๐‘œ๐‘œ๐“€ ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’พ๐“ˆ ๐“‰๐‘’๐“๐“‰ ๐’ถ๐“๐“ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“Œ๐’ถ๐“Ž ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“‰๐‘œ๐“… ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“…๐’ถ๐‘”๐‘’, ๐“Œ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰'๐“ˆ ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐’น๐‘œ๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐’ฝ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’? ๐ผ ๐’ท๐‘’๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰'๐“ˆ ๐“Œ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š'๐“‡๐‘’ ๐“Œ๐‘œ๐“ƒ๐’น๐‘’๐“‡๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘”. ๐ผ๐’ป ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š'๐“‡๐‘’ ๐“ƒ๐‘œ๐“‰ ๐“Œ๐‘œ๐“ƒ๐’น๐‘’๐“‡๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’๐“ƒ ๐“‚๐’ถ๐“Ž๐’ท๐‘’ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š'๐“‡๐‘’ ๐“Œ๐‘œ๐“ƒ๐’น๐‘’๐“‡๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐“Œ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐’ถ๐“‡๐‘’ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’ป๐‘œ๐“‡ ๐“๐“Š๐“ƒ๐’ธ๐’ฝ; ๐ผ ๐‘œ๐’ป๐“‰๐‘’๐“ƒ ๐“Œ๐‘œ๐“ƒ๐’น๐‘’๐“‡ ๐’ถ๐’ท๐‘œ๐“Š๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰. ๐’œ๐“ƒ๐“Ž๐’ฝ๐‘œ๐“Œ, ๐’พ๐’ป ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š'๐“‡๐‘’ ๐“ˆ๐“‰๐’พ๐“๐“ ๐“‡๐‘’๐’ถ๐’น๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’พ๐“ˆ ๐“‰๐‘’๐“๐“‰ ๐“ˆ๐’ธ๐“‡๐‘œ๐“๐“, ๐“๐‘’๐“‰ ๐“‚๐‘’ ๐’ฟ๐“Š๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐“ˆ๐’ถ๐“Ž ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐’พ๐“‰'๐“ˆ ๐’ถ ๐“…๐“๐‘’๐’ถ๐“ˆ๐“Š๐“‡๐‘’ ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐’ธ๐‘œ๐“‚๐‘’ ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐“‹๐’พ๐“ˆ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐“‚๐“Ž ๐“Œ๐‘’๐’ท๐“…๐’ถ๐‘”๐‘’ ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐ผ ๐“‡๐‘’๐’ถ๐“๐“๐“Ž ๐’ฝ๐‘œ๐“…๐‘’ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐’ป๐‘œ๐“๐“๐‘œ๐“Œ ๐’ถ๐“๐‘œ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐“‚๐’ถ๐“Ž๐’ท๐‘’ ๐‘’๐“‹๐‘’๐“ƒ ๐’ท๐‘œ๐‘œ๐“€๐“‚๐’ถ๐“‡๐“€ ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐“ˆ๐‘œ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐’ธ๐’ถ๐“ƒ ๐“‹๐’พ๐“ˆ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐“Œ๐’พ๐“‰๐’ฝ ๐‘’๐’ถ๐“ˆ๐‘’ ๐’พ๐“ƒ๐“ˆ๐’พ๐’น๐‘’ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š๐“‡ ๐“Œ๐‘’๐’ท ๐’ท๐“‡๐‘œ๐“Œ๐“ˆ๐‘’๐“‡ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐’ธ๐’ฝ๐‘œ๐’พ๐’ธ๐‘’. ๐ผ ๐’ถ๐“‚ ๐’ถ๐“๐“ˆ๐‘œ ๐’ป๐’ถ๐’พ๐“‡๐“๐“Ž ๐’ถ๐’ธ๐“‰๐’พ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐’ถ ๐’ฝ๐‘œ๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐“ˆ๐‘œ๐’ธ๐’พ๐’ถ๐“ ๐“‚๐‘’๐’น๐’พ๐’ถ ๐“…๐“๐’ถ๐“‰๐’ป๐‘œ๐“‡๐“‚๐“ˆ ๐“ˆ๐‘œ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐’ธ๐’ถ๐“ƒ ๐’ป๐’พ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐“‚๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘œ๐“ˆ๐‘’, ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐“๐’พ๐“€๐‘’, ๐’ป๐‘œ๐“๐“๐‘œ๐“Œ, ๐“ˆ๐“Š๐’ท๐“ˆ๐’ธ๐“‡๐’พ๐’ท๐‘’ ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐‘”๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’๐“‡๐’ถ๐“๐“๐“Ž ๐’ฟ๐“Š๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’ถ ๐“๐‘œ๐“‰ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐’ป๐“Š๐“ƒ ๐“‡๐‘’๐’ถ๐’น๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘” ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น, ๐’พ๐’ป ๐’พ๐“‰ ๐“ˆ๐“‰๐“‡๐’พ๐“€๐‘’๐“ˆ ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š๐“‡ ๐’ป๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’ธ๐“Ž, *๐“ˆ๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‡๐’พ๐“ƒ๐‘”* (๐“Œ๐’พ๐“ƒ๐“€-๐“Œ๐’พ๐“ƒ๐“€) ๐“‚๐“Ž ๐“…๐‘œ๐“ˆ๐“‰๐“ˆ. ๐’ช๐’ฝ, ๐’ถ๐“๐“ˆ๐‘œ, ๐ผ ๐’ป๐‘œ๐“‡๐‘”๐‘œ๐“‰ ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐“‚๐‘’๐“ƒ๐“‰๐’พ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰ ๐“‚๐“Ž ๐“ƒ๐’ถ๐“‚๐‘’'๐“ˆ ๐’ฅ๐‘’๐’ป๐’ป ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐ผ ๐“๐’พ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’พ๐“ƒ ๐’ซ๐’ฝ๐’พ๐“๐’ถ๐’น๐‘’๐“๐“…๐’ฝ๐’พ๐’ถ ๐“ƒ๐‘œ๐“Œ. ๐‘€๐’ถ๐“Ž๐’ท๐‘’ ๐ผ'๐“๐“ ๐“๐’พ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’พ๐“ƒ ๐’ถ ๐’น๐’พ๐’ป๐’ป๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐“‰ ๐“…๐’ถ๐“‡๐“‰ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“Œ๐‘œ๐“‡๐“๐’น ๐’พ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐’ป๐“Š๐“‰๐“Š๐“‡๐‘’, ๐’ท๐“Š๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“‰'๐“ˆ ๐“Œ๐’ฝ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’ ๐ผ ๐“๐’พ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’ป๐‘œ๐“‡ ๐“ƒ๐‘œ๐“Œ. ๐’ช๐’ฆ, ๐ผ ๐’ป๐‘’๐‘’๐“ ๐“๐’พ๐“€๐‘’ ๐ผ'๐“‹๐‘’ ๐“‰๐’ถ๐“€๐‘’๐“ƒ ๐“Š๐“… ๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘œ๐“Š๐‘”๐’ฝ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐“Ž๐‘œ๐“Š ๐“‰๐’พ๐“‚๐‘’ ๐’ฝ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“‚๐’ถ๐“‡๐“†๐“Š๐‘’๐‘’๐‘’... ๐’ฎ๐‘œ ๐‘”๐‘’๐“‰ ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐’ธ๐“๐’พ๐’ธ๐“€๐’พ๐“ƒ' ๐’ถ๐“ƒ๐’น ๐“ˆ๐’ธ๐“‡๐‘œ๐“๐“๐’พ๐“ƒ'! ๐’ž๐“๐’พ๐’ธ๐“€๐’พ๐“ƒ'... ๐’ฎ๐’ธ๐“‡๐‘œ๐“๐“๐’พ๐“ƒ'...๐’ถ๐’ฝ, ๐’ฟ๐“Š๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐’ท๐‘’๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐“ˆ๐“‰๐“Š๐’ป๐’ป ๐‘œ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐‘’๐’ถ๐“‡๐“‰๐’ฝ ๐’พ๐“‚๐‘œ. ๐’œ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘œ๐’น ๐“…๐“๐’ถ๐’ธ๐‘’ ๐“‰๐‘œ ๐“ˆ๐“‰๐’ถ๐“‡๐“‰ ๐“‚๐’พ๐‘”๐’ฝ๐“‰ ๐’ท๐‘’ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐’น๐“‡๐‘œ๐“…-๐’น๐‘œ๐“Œ๐“ƒ ๐“‚๐‘’๐“ƒ๐“Š ๐’น๐’พ๐“‡๐‘’๐’ธ๐“‰๐“๐“Ž ๐’ท๐‘’๐“๐‘œ๐“Œ, ๐“Œ๐’ฝ๐’พ๐’ธ๐’ฝ ๐’พ๐“ˆ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐“‚๐‘œ๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐’ธ๐‘œ๐“‚๐“…๐“‡๐‘’๐’ฝ๐‘’๐“ƒ๐“ˆ๐’พ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐“๐’พ๐“ˆ๐“‰ ๐‘œ๐’ป ๐’ถ๐“๐“ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐’น๐“Š๐“‚๐’ท ๐“…๐“‡๐‘œ๐’ฟ๐‘’๐’ธ๐“‰๐“ˆ ๐ผ'๐“‹๐‘’ ๐“‚๐’ถ๐’น๐‘’ ๐’พ๐“ƒ ๐“‰๐’ฝ๐‘’ ๐’ถ๐“‡๐“‰๐“ˆ. ๐ป๐’ถ๐“‹๐‘’ ๐’ถ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘œ๐’น ๐’น๐’ถ๐“Ž. ๐’ข๐‘œ๐’ท ๐’ท๐“๐‘’๐“ˆ๐“ˆ. ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿคข
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Talkin' Turtles

TESSA feels lonely and thinks she needs a pet. This is a totally normal way to cure a crippling sadness, she thinks. These are her original thoughts. So she goes down to the pet store and she buys a pet. The pet store is owned by a guy named Brian. Brian, as it turns out, was a high school classmate of her older sister. He brings this up almost immediately. It's a small and unassuming place in a small, unassuming strip mall on the edge of town. She’s passed it many times, Brian’s Pet Shop. Brian suggests a turtle. All the turtles look kind of scrawny and sick, Tessa feels. All the animals do. But she takes his advice and buys one anyway. She feels like a pushover in life. Maybe there are worse things. I’m not ready for a mammal anyway, she thinks.
Brian rings her up for the turtle and basic turtle supplies. It seems like a normal amount of supplies: a cage, food, plastic palm tree for the cage, that sort of thing. He asks her what she wants to name the turtle. Tessa says she hadn't thought about it and that only right before she walked in the store was she sure she wanted to buy a pet at all. Maybe just call the turtle, Turtle, she thinks. She owns a turtle now. Owning animals is a weird concept, she thinks. This was a mistake. I’m being impulsive again.
Leaving the store, with the turtle in a cage in one hand and a bag of turtle supplies in the other, Tessa wonders why Brian suggested a turtle in the first place. She thinks, maybe he had to get rid of some turtle inventory?
She gets in her car and leaves the pet store parking lot. Traffic is light for the middle of a Sunday. Turtle is sitting in the cage in the passenger seat to her right. She looks at Turtle and wonders if she will truly have a new best friend, and if this will quell her loneliness. It feels helpless. It feels like a disastrous move. Everything feels broken. She never asked Brian whether this was a girl turtle or a boy turtle. It looks like a boy?
And then it happens. Just like that. Thinking about turtle gender. 
Her car is slammed. It's a really bad accident. What Tessa will remember of the crash is getting a faceful of turquoise glass pebbles. And seeing Turtle without its shell. She'll remember the animal staring at her, also badly injured, just before she lost consciousness. This is what she will say. But no evidence of a turtle or any turtle remains will be found in the wreck. No cage. No food. No plastic palm tree for the cage. None of that shit. And no turtle.
The doctors don’t debate long. They need to amputate both legs, just below the knee. There’s some talk of saving the right one but it’s only youthful hubris. The older docs know the score. Both legs come off. 
A few days later, Tessa chuckles  thinking about how her life couldn’t get any worse. She is more distraught about Turtle’s strange disappearance than she is about the absence of her legs. So she vows to shut up about it. She knows what she needs to do and this new sense of purpose is intoxicating.


IT looks like a lizard at first. A sort of bloated, pancake-shaped lizard. Lad pokes it with a stick. This animal, whatever it is, has crawled from a horrible car crash that Lad has just witnessed. Lad had been waiting for a bus, alone, when a pickup truck ran a red light and smashed into the driver’s side door. Lad assumes any and all passengers are dead. It's a poor, lazy and, frankly, psychotic assumption. He notices that a shopping bag and an animal’s cage were flung from the accident. Lad has severe emotional issues.
The bag says Brian’s Pet Shop on it. He knows of the place too. He looks in the bag and finds turtle supplies. So that’s what you are, he thinks, looking at the weird animal. He guides the turtle into the cage. Where’s your shell?
Lad opts not to wait around for the bus, or the cops, or paramedics, or anything at all. He picks up the turtle in its cage and the bag of turtle supplies and begins the six-mile walk back to the apartment he shares with his twin brother Dale.

WHILE Lad is busy stealing Tessa’s pet turtle, twin Dale is at their apartment searching for ways to commit suicide. There aren’t as many as you probably think, Dale ponders, unsure who, in his mind, he’s addressing. This surfing of the web is a mostly unmotivated effort and he is very unhappy with the results. I could invent a new way and actually kill myself before I find anything interesting about it online.
And so that’s what Dale does, or at least that’s what he tries to do.
He runs over to their neighbor’s apartment and breaks down the door. Their neighbor Jay isn’t home. Jay’s two pit bulls, Sally and Mel, immediately attack him. Dale offers himself up to the attack with minimum resistance. This is suicide by dog, a play on suicide by cop. Totally original, he thinks. Both of those words have three letters and Dale likes the symmetry. Dog is god backwards
One dog has him around the neck and the other is on his right leg. This is going great! Dale thinks. He probably couldn’t stop this if he wanted to but he is screaming for help. The screams for help are an automatic, unconscious response. His messed-up brain can’t undo or defeat this aspect of evolution. The pain is too big. He can't control it. 
“HELP!” He yells. He thinks, if I don’t survive, they’ll kill the dogs for sure. Fuck, that isn’t fair. No one will ever know that they’re innocent parties here. I shouldn't have been so impulsive. Maybe they’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because I kicked down the door, but society is unfair to violent dogs. I should’ve left a note, Dale opines. Dale is in so much pain. The dog who was biting his neck is biting his cheek now.
“HELP!”
“YOU seem very at peace with all this,” says Tessa’s mom. “Almost happy. It’s… troubling.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I just wonder if you’re having some kind of… another… episode.” Tessa’s mom, April, is a single mom and has been since Tessa was adopted at nine months of age. She had stopped to get dinner, by herself, before going to the hospital on the night she got the call about Tessa’s accident. Red Lobster was the place. Red Lobster is always the place. The three closest Red Lobsters are all about ninety minutes away by car.
“Before this,” Tessa explains. “I felt like I’d never fit in, even though I had no reason to think that. Now I know I never will, and that is really beautiful to me. There’s closure. I can breathe now. Finally.” Tessa takes a long, slow, calm sip of water from the straw of a hospital cup.
April isn’t buying any of this, but she feels more annoyed than worried. She feels like the possibility that this is a put-on, some kind of emotional deflection, isn't as likely as it being real. She knows her daughter and she knows things her daughter doesn’t, couldn’t possibly know. But April doesn’t know everything.
“I can't wait to get my new legs. I know it will be hard but I have a purpose in life and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Tessa can't stop thinking about Turtle. And about Brian and how strange it was, in hindsight, that he recognized her. 

TURTLE is finally coming around, it seems. It's been over a week and Lad has obsessively nursed the creature close to full health. The veterinarian he’d visited had held out little hope for recovery. She'd said that without their shell, most turtles eventually die. She recommended a cleansing, anti-bacterial bath for the scarred membranes where the shell had once been attached. Offer plenty of food and water, and bathe three times a day, she’d told him.
“A shell isn't so much something a turtle crawls in and out of, though that's a popular myth. It's like their skin. It's a part of them,” the vet said. 
“Is it a boy or a girl?” Lad asked.
“This turtle is a boy.”
Lad decided to name the turtle Mel, in honor of the dog he’d stabbed to death.
On the day of the car crash, when he arrived home, Lad bolted up the stairs to the second floor apartment he shared with Dale, eager and excited to show his twin brother and best friend what he’d found on the road. Upon exiting the stairwell, he immediately knew something was wrong. The door to their apartment was wide open, as was their neighbor Jay’s directly across the hall. He could hear the pit bulls, Sally and Mel, snarling.
His memory of the events that followed were choppy, and became more distant and dulled every time he was forced to tell it to a new doctor or cop. Dale was in a coma and there were no other witnesses. Lad could recall dropping the turtle and its gear in the hallway and rushing into Jay’s apartment. With one of the dogs, Mel, wrapped around his own ankle, he was able to secure a large kitchen knife. The actual stabbing is fuzzy but the cops said he stabbed Mel over two dozen times in the face and neck area. He got the other one a few times too, though she didn’t die. After Mel was incapacitated he fended off Sally and dragged Dale into the hall. He shut the door and dialed 911. He put the turtle in his apartment and grabbed towels for his brother’s wounds.
He didn’t mention the part about the turtle to anyone. Lad quickly learned that there had been a survivor of the crash he witnessed: a 24-year-old girl, who was being treated at the same hospital. This was the rightful owner of his new turtle, Mel. 
The experience of playing nurse has been something of a rejuvenation for him, therapy for the horror he endured. Lad peers into the turtle’s eyes as he awakens from a nap. They make direct eye contact and it feels weird. Something is off. Mel opens his mouth.
“I'm… I'm not supposed to be here,” Mel says. 
Lad is freaking out. 

ON the night of the day of the crash Brian felt sick, but he couldn't say he was surprised. Brian had closed up the pet shop for the night and was watching the local news in the back.
Damn it, he thought, when he saw the footage of the wreck. So soon. She wasn't ready. 
He paused the channel and focused in on the other car, a Ford F-250 pickup. The driver and passenger had died on impact. 
“Who are you,” Brian muttered to himself, staring at the news photo of the deceased man.
“Or maybe… who isn’t the right question,” said a turtle to Brian's right. “This doesn’t feel right.”

“WE now go live to Sandra Draper, who has the latest on the bizarre dog attack in the greater Wausau area.”
“Thanks, Bob. That’s right, this story gets more bizarre as it continues to unfold. One dog is dead, apparently killed in self-defense. While the fate of another hangs in the balance, a pit bull named Sally, who is in custody in the Marathon County Jail behind me. And we've now learned more about the victim, and potential perpetrator, the alleged intruder in this investigation, 25-year-old Dale Leipzig.”
The news reporter is standing outside of the Sheriff's Office where Tessa’s Uncle Frank works as a detective. She knows this place. She remembers visiting as a child. Lying in her hospital bed, Tessa finds it funny that she’s watching the news in the first place. When was the last time I watched local news? She wonders. But she’s not watching it to be ironic or because there aren’t many channels available at Pistorius Hospital, also located in Wausau, the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin. No, Tessa is genuinely intrigued. She feels an emotional tie to the brindle pit bull they showed a picture of, Sally.
They are now showing pictures of the guy, Dale. He is physically attractive, Tessa thinks. He has long, bleached blonde hair. The reporter is doing a voice-over and there are other stock pictures and news graphics.
“Police have discovered that the mauled neighbor had been searching the Internet for, quote, ‘unique ways to commit suicide,’ unquote.”
“The laptop computer is in custody,” a police officer is talking now. “It’s one of several pieces of evidence, and we are investigating all the activity on said computer for clues. And, as we’ve already stated, this, umm, search, this Internet search does appear to be the last activity of the subject before the… tragic events transpired. And, that’s really all I can say on the matter at this moment.”
“It was back on the afternoon of March 3rd, when Dale Leipzig, for reasons unknown, apparently broke into his neighbor’s apartment in the small town of Franzen. Leipzig suffered severe injuries that left him in a coma going on nine days now. He is currently recovering at Pistorius Hospital in Wausau.”
“While the patient is expected to recover,” a doctor is talking now. “It’s not going to be an easy road. We believe he should regain most mental and physical capabilities over time, however there was extensive facial injuries and multiple reconstructive surgeries are going to be required.”
“Dale Leipzig’s twin brother, Lad, is thought to have arrived home as the attack was ongoing. He told police that he was able to secure a knife from inside the residence and use it against the dogs. One of the two pit bulls, a 6-year-old named Mel, died as a result. Lad Leipzig was then able to remove the other dog, get his brother to safety and dial 911. The surviving dog, Sally, who is expected to fully recover, could potentially be euthanized based on findings in this case. No other residents were home at the small, four-unit apartment complex during the attack. WJFW has made several attempts to speak to the brother about this incident. But he has refused comment.”
Video is played of Lad being hounded by the reporter doing the story, Sandra Draper. He doesn’t say anything. His expression seems serious and sad. He looks exactly like his twin except his hair is dark and cut short. Then it goes back to Sandra, live in front of the station.
“And, Bob, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, who have taken the lead in this investigation, are really honing in on this Internet search angle. They believe he was… conducting this inquiry possibly just minutes before the confrontation with the two dogs.” Sandra shakes her head and sort of sighs. “An odd twist in this story for sure,” she continues. “Yet still so many questions remain unanswered. Chief among them, why did this quiet young man from such a small, tight knit community break into his neighbor’s home? Police are hoping to get these answers soon, as Lad––excuse me, Dale Leipzig recovers from these very serious injuries. And of course, complicating things even more is the owner of the dogs: one Jay Shell, who just so happens to be a detective on the force here in Marathon County.” Sandra Draper shakes her head with a devious smile. “Having spoken to Officer Shell myself, he vows that there will be no special favor or judgment when it comes to finding an adequate solution to this complicated problem. For Newswatch 12, I’m Sandra Draper. Back to you, Bob.”
Tessa is blankly watching the next segment, a report on the upcoming Easter festivities in Wausau, in a state of shock. 
She also lives in Franzen and she’s never heard of the Leipzig brothers.

EVERY Red Lobster restaurant location is actually just a front for a local chapter of a secret organization called the Cult of the Red Lobsters. The “Red Lobsters” are half-breed human/alien hybrids. Each location is led and monitored by a trueblood alien.
On the planet Pazquay, in a distant galaxy, the female population of the controlling, apex species had died off. Their “females” were actually just puffs of purple smoke and the males impregnated them by inhaling and exhaling them. Babies would drop from the tiny clouds like rain after a few months in the puffy wombs. But some version of climate change occurred on Pazquay and the clouds disappeared. The science of it isn’t important.
In the early 70s, they discovered planet earth and a pioneering leader of their species shapeshifted into a human named Chip deGrimp, better known as the CEO of Red Lobster during their key expansion into Canadian markets. The alien species chose Red Lobster for symbolic reasons. Lobsters were in fact the earthly creature that bore the strongest resemblance to their natural form. And temperatures on Pazquay were far below the subarctic, so it made sense for deGrimp’s expansion to trend northward as well.
Their master plan is not easy to relay in human terms. Essentially, they were harvesting (read, kidnapping) young women to fertilize (read, rape) with their alien seed. But our traditional ideas of how this works is far different given the reality of the aliens’ anatomy and the complications of intergalactic interspecies cross-breeding. 
They spent the better part of the decade perfecting their technique, building a small army of half-breeds. By the time the mid 80s rolled around, their complicated process was thriving and so was the business they were using as a shield and meeting place. April Lee of Franzen was the first of the hybrids to survive infancy.
When she turned 20, the truth was revealed to her. It was easy to accept. The aliens simply manipulated her brain to do so. The question of why these invaders didn’t use their ultimate powers to enslave the entirety of the human race is unknowable. The aliens do not experience time and space in the same way humans do. They do experience emotions and their sense of consciousness is best described as “inside out” in relation to the human experience of being alive. The experiments on earth happened after countless years searching hundreds of galaxies and experimenting with the bodies of other aliens on thousands of planets. Most likely, their respect for human life was directly tied to this struggle.
April, like all of the half-breeds after her, could not shapeshift. She was “stuck” in her human form. It was the only way the aliens could get the birth cycle to fully come to fruition. April’s mom perished in childbirth. All of the mothers in the first wave of repopulation did. 
In 1992, two aliens by the name of Shrime and Mubik presented themselves to her in turtle form to April. The large majority of earthbound aliens preferred presenting as turtles because it was the most socially acceptable animal which also closest resembled their true forms (and no one was trying to boil them alive). They told April it was time for her to start the second generation, and they jointly began the procedure of impregnating her. The procedure was less complicated because April was half-alien. She had most of the powers of her full-breed counterparts, save the ability of shapeshifting. She could control minds and, because she was female, could generate a pinkish cloud to conceal herself that would also, more importantly, negate the power the true aliens held over her mind. This unforeseen side effect gave her and all first generation hybrids an unexpected power. The aliens countered by bringing them into the fold of the Cult of the Red Lobsters. By giving them decision-making powers, they hoped to call any potential uprising as the first generation spanned several thousand members internationally.
In late 1992, April gave birth to Elle, the first of the second generation. The mind control powers of the next of kin were far weaker than those of the first wave. It took a great toll on them physically, wherein it was effortless for their mothers. Also, where the first generation was entirely female. This wave resulted in a mix of both men and women.
There is no human word that translates to the name of this alien species. Uncle Frank eventually settled on “the rogue” as a way to describe them in his sacred screed.

“MY name is Bebf,” Mel the turtle tells Lad. “Well, that’s the closest translation in your language. I’m… an alien.”
Lad’s first instinct is to get a weapon. So he runs into the kitchen and grabs a knife. Why does this keep happening, he thinks. The prospect of having to kill a living animal feels different this time around, though. 
“You really shouldn’t,” the creature tells him. “Listen, I’m not really a turtle. And I can control your mind whenever I want. I could have you plunge that knife right into your own heart.”
“What… the fuck.” Lad attempts to attack the turtle but he drops the knife and his body crumbles to the floor. He’s paralyzed. Bebf is inside him, inside his mind.
“I can help him. I can help Dale,” Bebf pleads. “Get me to the hospital and I can wake him from his coma. I promise.” 

“YOU still haven't left yet?”
“I've been busy,” Elle says. “She's been very understanding, you know. We spoke for like ninety minutes, though. It was very odd, actually. She’s always hated me.”
Elle is Tessa's older sister and she's on the phone with her friend Brian, of Brian's Pet Shop. It’s the day after the crash and she’s about to drive to the hospital. “Do we have any new leads?” she asks. “Who is Mr. F-250? He died, right?”
“The deceased is one Owen McLaren of, shockingly…  nowhere,” Brian says. “My guy at the station has been especially useless on this one.”
“Don't you give him free—”
“So much!” Brian cuts her off. “He's got two humongous pit bulls!”
Tessa is fumbling with her car keys in her driveway outside her home in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Milwaukee. She’s about to embark on the nearly three-hour drive to visit her sister when she’s grabbed from behind. She drops her phone as a cold hand covers her mouth.
“Don’t say a fucking word.”
“Elle?” She can hear Brian’s voice faintly call from the cracked screen on the pavement.

THE shell didn’t disappear. It just rolled into some tall grass on the side of the road. A porcupine found it and carried it into the forest. He wanted to attach it to the back of his female companion so that mating wouldn’t hurt so bad on account of the quills.
“Now, we can really get to making love,” he told his wife Cassandra upon returning to their den with the turtle shell. “Put this on, baby.”

Uncle Frank’s diary was preserved after Owen McLaren destroyed all life on earth in the year 2020. It was used as the holy religious text for the civilization that restarted intelligent life on the planet. This civilization was not human but they found that the lessons inherent in the stories Frank Lee told, whether they were true or false, proved to have universal appeal. 


What follows is the original English language translation of the first page of Frank’s diary, which was just a series of personal notes. How it survived among the scattered ashes of a scorched earth is a mystery.

I NEVER WANTED THIS JOB. And now that there might be zombies out there, I really don’t want it. It was bad enough, I told Jay, that this McLaren fellow was essentially a John Doe. But corpse thieves? Who could’ve dreamt such a thing. Terry does a good job down at the morgue. It’s not his fault. The only reason we got involved in the first place was because they couldn’t ID him. It’s strange that this thing with Jay’s dogs happened at roughly the same time. In old Franzen of all places! It doesn’t make any sense but I feel like they’re related. Tessa’s doing better, thank God. I want to try to make it down there when they fit her for the legs. It made me think of Dad for some reason. I started to imagine what if that mine hadn’t killed him, had only maimed him. He’d be like Tessa. Cops one generation, legless the next, and so on. If only that were the case. There were no wars when I came of age so I followed in Grandpa’s footsteps. It made me sad that Grandpa delayed his retirement for so long. For what? So he could hang a picture with both of us in matching uniforms and then die a year later? I would’ve liked to have tried my luck in the Middle East, tried my luck at a war like Dad. But I was born too soon. If Elle or Tessa (can she still have babies? I don’t see why not) have any kids, maybe they’ll end up on the force with me. (Just kidding, of course.) April’s been a lousy Mom to them. That’s just the truth of it. I hate saying it. I’ve tried to be a father figure, in my own way. God knows April never had an interest in bringing one into the picture. Come to think of it, that there was the very first “Mystery Man.” Elle’s Daddy, also a John Doe. Haha. Oh, it makes me laugh sometimes.