The stone steps of the fortress were oily and filthy and worn with age. Rats ran up and down along the walls as gunfire and shouting erupted in the distance. The tank clanked and rumbled to a stop in front of a stone archway beside the steps. Muffin and Prankster, tykes with messy hair from sleeping, popped open the round door and hopped out of the tank, scampering quickly down the stone steps in their dirty pastel pajamas. In a deafening explosion of gunfire, both were shot down by a hidden sniper. Now the rats were forced to run over their lifeless bodies to get up and down the stairs, and left little bloody rat tracks leading to cracks and holes in the stone.

Finally George stuck his big Billy-goat head out of the tank porthole and easily picked off the sniper with his rifle. The soldier tumbled down and landed with a splat on the fortress walkway. George pulled himself up out of the tank, bushy goat head looking too heavy on top of his otherwise human body. He hung his rifle on his shoulder and found where Muffin and Prankster lay. He picked up one and then the other and carried their little bodies down the stairs.

When he reached the fortress courtyard the smooth surface of the large green pool was disturbed by little drops of rain. They formed widening circles in the water. He found a skiff tied up by one of the broken docks and laid the bodies into it.

The sun had sunken in the sky and darkened the fortress into a silhouette, when George returned from the tank with a gas can. Explosions sounded off in the distance as he drenched the boat with gas. He avoided the two pale faces as he poured. Soon he had the boat alight and he kicked it out into the lake as the blaze rose up, mirrored in the dark water.

As the bodies burned George’s horns and fur shortened. His whole face shrunk until, little by little, human features emerged. Soon he had a regular human head, weary and scarred, with eyes catching glints from the fire.

When the flames in the middle of the lake finally died out and what was left of the boat sunk out of sight, George stood. He turned and walked back towards the dark fortress as the distant rumble of gunfire and explosions rose and fell like a demented symphony.

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