Sampling The News by Dogfire
Summary: An interview with Rogue
Dedication: Thanks to Rogue for his editorial comments.
In an attempt to project a calm, tranquil atmosphere, the architect
had selected abstract wall paintings for the meeting room within the
glass box headquarters of the television station. The wall mounted
television shattered the illusion. Unlike the paintings, the Video
monitor vomited motion.
Computer generated graphics assaulted the screen; accompanied by
intense, punchy theme music demanding attention.
The letters WFUR: CHANNEL 22 swooped into position, followed by the
station theme; REEL LIFE! REAL NEWS!
The video screen cut to a warehouse fire. FIRE! screamed the
The screen flicked to a headline; MURDER, followed by a video shot of
a body under a bloody sheet, it's tail sticking out.
A crushed house proclaimed by a banner; MAYHEM.
Clashing cymbals introduced the teaser headline; TONIGHT, MURDEROUS
The audio was off, sparing the gathered news staff of Channel 22 from
listening to the stomach churning music. No one was watching, their
attention focused on their leader's important announcement.
"Whoever leaves the coffee pot on the burner again will clean up
the burnt residue with soap and their own tongue! Am I getting through
to everyone!", snarled Hank Strom, the station manager.
His black, ursine head scanned the pond flat table and the assorted
flotsam floating along it's shore; Judy Barlow, news researcher, hare
lip twitching absentmindedly. Frank Paley, the head news anchor, weasel
eyes vapid and expressionless, like his brain. Samuel Roberts, idly
trimming rodent incisors by chewing on a pencil. Patrick Moria stood in
front of a covered box, stubby tail wagging.
"Now that I have your undivided attention," Hank continued,
"Proposals for sweeps week. Cosmos Broadcasting, our owner, is
expecting ratings to drool over."
Since Cosmos purchased WFUR two years ago, the broadcast conglomerate
hired a consultant. The consultant's report found the station staff
talented, well-paid and self-confident; against current industry trends,
this will not do. Recommendations were made; change the work atmosphere
to match the latest business fad of fear, loathing, and cost cutting.
Hank Strom, the new station manager, laid off or fired most of the
staff, replacing them with cheaper, inexperienced, and quietly desperate
workers. The return of serfdom was good news for the financial bottom
line, no need to have independently minded employees stirring up
Pat Moria was the last of the original station broadcast engineers;
self-reliant, outspoken, and efficient, Hank once calculated three would
have to be hired to replace Pat.
Hank interrupted his musing when Sam Roberts stopped chewing his
pencil and spoke. "Here's a story line for sweeps week. Last month,
the British station, BBC3, broadcasted a program on dragons in the
The assembly let out a collective groan. Followed by mutterings of
not another educational nature program. Sam raised his voice.
"They interviewed a LIVE dragon. A one on one interview with
Tremalaine, a 120 foot Dragon. Fantastic creature, great voice, he gave
a wonderful perspective on how misunderstood Dragons are. BBC3's ratings
shot into the stratosphere."
Sam resumed his nervous teething while the group debated where to
tape footage of flaming dragons and screaming vixens. Conversation
buzzed like a hive, until someone threw water on the idea by pointing
out dragons were absent from this side of the Atlantic. Sam spat out his
mangled pencil and stood up.
"We don't need dragons, giants will do!" Sam turned to
Hank, "Do you remember that news bulletin from our northern bureau?
Last week's report about a giant wolf rampaging through a
Hank leaned forward and nodded, "Sure do. A 90 foot tall wolf,
answering to the name of Rogue, stomped on some houses and lunched on
the town folk."
"Cool! We can interview the survivors." Judy wriggled her
nose, "There was a villager who witnessed Rogue eating her husband
and litter of fifteen."
Hank's chair creaked under his ponderous bulk as he leaned back,
"Forget it, a widow whimpering about her family becoming Rabbit
McNuggets isn't a big enough story bite for sweeps week."
Sam chattered, "I was thinking about interviewing the mega
"That's insane! Rogue eats anyone he can get his paws
Sam shook his head, "Not true! A few artists and hack writers
have talked to Rogue. In exchange for their lives, some do portraits, or
take down dictation to mail a letter for him. I know someone from that
select group who can set up an interview with Rogue."
"How long have you been planning this?" Hank asked. Risky,
he thought, interviewing an unpredictable giant, but it'll blast our
ratings into orbit.
"Quite awhile. I've already talked to my contact about it. We
can arrange a meeting at the West Corner of the Park this
"We're shooting for Wednesday at 2 PM."
Hank swiveled his chair towards the news anchor. "Frank, how do
you feel about interviewing a 90 foot tall wolf?"
Frank Paley smiled, "I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Thanks to 'my' idea, this interview will make the station the talk of
the broadcasters club! Here's a title, 'The Belly of the Beast';
Rampaging to hide the hurt."
"As a follow-up, Rogue's advice on the tastiest sauces to go
with a news anchor entree," a voice muttered.
The immaculately groomed news anchor glared at the offender. A wadded
ball of paper bounced off Pat's snout. His lapped ears picked up Judy
whispering bad boy, no biscuits for you.
"Pat, muzzle it!" Changing the subject, Hank creaked back
in his chair. "I'm giving the green light on funding. Assign a news
cam team on it. We'll interview Rogue on Wednesday at 2 PM!"
Sam cleared his throat, "I suggest keeping our questions short
and simple for Rogue. BBC3 interviewed a dragon who's wit and wisdom
rivaled an Oxford professor of Literature. According to accounts, Rogue
seems to be as sharp as a sack of bowling balls."
"Good point. Frank, research and write those questions with
That meant Judy would do the work.
Hank glanced at Sam. "Can you get something in writing, or a
promise from your contact that Rogue won't stomp on and chew up Frank
and the camera crew?"
"Rogue has given his word he won't bite or step on anyone. I'd
prefer we limit the interviewing crew to two. If our usual cluster of
folks and news van gather around him, I can't guarantee he won't get too
excited and forget his promise."
"Pat has a solution to your dilemma. Show us the
Pat raised the box's cardboard lids and lifted up a helmet, patterned
in military camouflage, before the gathered crowd. Two small modules
with lenses flanked both sides of the helmet.
"Thanks to spin-offs from the Military, we can use this head
mounted camera." Pat stood like a priest holding a sacred high tech
"Normally, a standard camcorder requires videotape, cable feeds
and a nearby news van for transmission. This battery powered, wireless
videocam will allow us to tape the Rogue interview at a discrete
"Wicked piece of gear. What about resolution?" Sam
Pat replied, "The camera meets studio quality standards and it
can automatically switch to infrared. You can operate it unshielded in a
wide variety of environments. Underwater, in the humid Tropics, under
freezing Arctic winter conditions and even in a vacuum. This camera can
survive environmental conditions that would kill a camerafur."
Hank interrupted the techno geek testimony, "I don't know about
this. It's untried and that helmet thingy looks cumbersome."
"This is the easiest portable camera I've ever used." Pat
twirled the helmet camera in his paw pads, exposing a touch pad keyboard
on the side. He pulled down a plastic lens from the front of the helmet.
"A heads up display for status. Way cool and a blast to
Hank thought about expenses. An idea came out of hibernation, it's
time to repossess the useless pension funds of the almost vested. He
casually spoke, "Pat...I realize you were planning to be the first
one to use the camera. But I need you to help me with equipment
purchases for Wednesday. Could you instruct Fenris, our camera tech
trainee, how to operate the new video cam?"
"Sure, I'll start him on it."
Hank stood up, "Staff meeting is over everyone. Let's make Reel
Pat heard his name. He turned and saw Judy Barlow looking around the
cinder block corridor. She signaled a quiet sign and motioned him
towards an empty office. The pair silently entered the room, she closed
the door and raised her white ears towards the door; listening intently.
Fluorescent lights buzzed in stroboscopic rhythms. Suffering eyeteeth,
he thought, the perfect setting for fresh scuttlebutt from WFUR's rumor
Judy whispered, "Do you remember Hank's compliment to you at the
Christmas party. About you being worth three people?"
"I just heard from furry resources that Sam Roberts will be
promoted to Senior Broadcast Engineer and they plan to hire two
engineers from a temp agency!"
Pat groaned, here we go again, every year management plays staffing
games to save a few bucks. "Sam hasn't enough experience under his
"That's the point, Hank's going to dump you."
Pat was no wet-behind-the-ears whelp in broadcast television. He had
watched it evolve into a circus; mindlessly pursuing entertainment and
ratings. He recalled a time when stations had anchor journalists instead
of news researchers, like Judy, covering for air-headed talent. Come
this Thursday, he thought, I'll be fully vested in the Station's pension
plan and not a moment too soon.
"I'm not surprised...figured we'd see layoffs at the end of the
Judy put a paw on Pat's black and tan shoulders, "I'm sorry, but
Hank may jump the gun!"
"Hank's a waffling bunghead. Snap decisions don't fit his
style." Pat glanced at the clock, he needed to start repairing a
tape drive. "I have to go, thanks for letting me know. Keep me
Pat opened the office door and left.
"Good luck, Pat." Judy sighed.
Escorting duties, I hate escorting, Berian thought. The polar bear
security guard wished he was outside enjoying a sunny, Wednesday
morning. Sometimes they shouted, screamed betrayal or cried against his
massive white chest. He escorted his charge down the back Corridor near
the van garage. The grim silence coming from the former employee
disturbed Berian. The delectable odor of Snell's biscuits and chew
sticks wafted up from a cheerfully wrapped gift basket. The fired worker
carried the basket absentmindedly, ears pinned back, jowls exposing
fangs, narrowed eyes locked onto a distant target.
Berian cleared his throat, the basket blocked his view of the black
and tan snout. "Pat? Is there anything else you need?"
The snarled face relaxed, "No, my desk is cleaned out and
decontaminated." He looked at Berian, "I'm not pissed at you.
You're just doing your job."
Berian quietly nodded, better fired employees begin talking, it keeps
their minds off from doing stupid things.
"Hank is a gutless wonder. That bastard left this basket of dog
biscuits on my desk with the pink 'Dear John' slip pinned to
Pat shoved a sheet of paper upward into Berian's nose, he calmly
continued, "You know what this is? Questionnaire sheets I have to
fill out; my exit interview. Can you believe that?"
Berian shook his large white head.
Pat growled, "Most businesses do a quickie exit interview before
giving you the heave-ho, but this station is too chickenshit for
it." He imitated the furry resources manager's squeaky voice,
"New policy, you must Fax the answers to this exit survey form or
no paycheck due!"
They walked passed the garage entrance. Pat stopped, nose poised to
follow a lost scent trail, he held up a paw.
"My tool kit is in Van 1. Could you let me into the garage so I
can retrieve it?"
Pat gave the basket to the security guard. Berian opened the garage
door. He watched Pat pad over to Van 1, open the rear door, and climb
into the vehicle.
Pat pulled his tool kit out from under a shelf. Fifteen years of
supporting television programs through fires, floods, and insanely dull
elections. He looked at the customized control panel, his pride and joy.
A mischievous smile cracked his muzzle. Didn't Pappy used to say don't
get mad, get even?
A minute later, Pat wiped his paws, chuckling to himself. If Sam is
behind the eight ball, he'll spot it during checkout. Looking up at the
equipment shelf, he spied a manila folder, the broadcast script folder.
Opening it revealed a stack of rubber-banded cue cards. Frank Paley's
interview questions, written by Judy. Pat visualized the news anchor
fumbling cue cards and cursing the lack of a TelePrompTer. He spotted
another card; Sam's handwriting, Rogue contact notes and a phone
Pat stuck his head out of the van, "I need to write some
broadcast directions for Sam about the afternoon interview. It'll be
another ten minutes."
Berian nodded, he walked over to the Van, glancing inside, he watched
Pat writing notes on 4x8 cards with a felt tip pen. Pat placed the notes
in a folder, filed it and picked up his tool kit.
Berian opened the loading dock door, he watched Pat step lightly
through the parking lot. OOPS! He was still holding Pat's basket.
"Pat! Your gift basket!"
"Keep it, I'm not hungry. It's been fun working here.
Pat waved and strode off, holding a few cards in his paw.
At the West Corner of the Park, Fenris Paley felt exposed and
vulnerable standing in the middle of the stadium wide lawn. A rampart
row of maple and spruce trees obscured his view of Van 1. The van was
hidden in a distant bunker; it's tomb gray concrete walls camouflaged
behind a row of holly bushes. He remembered his head actions were being
transmitted through the helmet mounted video camera. He switched on the
audio link to the news van.
"All set, what next?"
Sam radioed a reply, "Do some panning shots and adjust the audio
pickup, I'm picking up wind noise."
"10-4...audio check...signal to noise is good."
"Pan to the end of the park grove...zoom in on that bush. You're
Inside Van 1, Sam released the microphone button. The newly promoted
broadcast engineer watched the monitor screen display a stable, high
resolution image of the park clearing. Judy sat in the next chair,
Sam nodded to Judy, "Can't picture Frank reading cue cards, he's
used to a TelePrompTer."
"He'll be fine, unless he reads them out of order. By the way,
congratulations on your 'promotion'." Judy glanced at the control
panel and frowned, "You forgot the voice link to Frank."
Judy reached over and flipped the transceiver power switch for
Frank's earphone set. She smiled at Sam. "That's one of the first
things on the checklist. If you need advice, call Pat's home
"Knock it off!" Sam snapped, "Pat was a victim of
downsizing. Spit in Hank's eye if that'll make you feel better. Don't
blame me for it! Keep in mind, we got a program to produce."
The two sat silently, making final preparations. Judy glanced at the
monitor; the outdoor lawn stage where the Rogue interview should
commence in a few minutes. Everyone was ready.
The thought of standing in front of a 90 foot tall carnivore made
Fenris Paley nervous. The young mustelid jumped at a sound of a nearby
"How's it feel, Fenris, to rise quickly in the news
He turned to his uncle, the news anchor held a stack of cue
"Thanks uncle, mega rush. It's not what you know, it's who you
know that counts!"
"You can forget competence." Frank Paley chuckled.
Competence, Pat Moria's favorite word. Well competence isn't worth a
single dog biscuit in the news business; ratings and connections matter.
The well-dressed anchor fussed with his sprayed, manicured hair and
adjusted the microphone headset strapped around his rounded ear.
Click! Sam's voice chattered in the earphone. "Heads up! One of
our lookouts just spotted a large wolf moving west towards the Park
clearing. Confirmed...it's Rogue!"
An enormous triangular pair of ears rose above the tree line.
"Standby, Rogue is entering the clearing!"
Rogue strode up to the trees. The immense bipedal giant stepped over
the trees and into the clearing. The gargantuan wolfmorph swiveled his
snout towards the television crew and advanced towards them. Each step
hammered footlike paws deep into the park turf. The ground quaked from
the seismic pounding. Fenris's heart skipped when a pair of hind paws
larger than two Buicks blotted out his view. Rogue halted barely ten
feet away from them. Frank angled his head upward, past clawed feet, up
the tree trunk legs and abdomen, until he saw a summit high muzzle with
yellow eyes staring back.
Rogue leaned forward, flexed his knees and slowly lowered his bulk
onto his haunches. Frank gulped nervously; the news crew found
themselves just inside a cul-de-sac formed by Rogue's bent hind legs and
lower trunk. Rogue's proportions warped their sense of perspective.
Fenris pointed his helmet camera upwards at a slight angle.
From the hidden news van, Judy pressed the mic button for Fenris's
radio. "Zoom back and up, you're getting close ups of Rogue's male
assets. We don't want to be too explicit here."
She wolf whistled to herself, "YOW! Impressive!"
Judy regretfully watched video camera view withdrew and rise past a
white billboard of belly until it halted; showing Rogue's jocular,
"Hi!" boomed a bass voice, "Are you the Tee Vee news
Frank Paley composed himself. "Frank Paley, WFUR, Channel 22
news. I assume you are Rogue?"
"No other, Am I on the Tee Vee?"
"Not yet, Mr. Rogue, we're taping you for a delayed broadcast at
six PM on channel 22."
Rogue's erect ears twitched in mild confusion.
Judy's voice hissed through Frank's earphone, "Don't baffle
Get to the meat of the interview!"
Frank fumbled with the cards. Where was a TelePrompTer when you need
"Mr. Rogue, would you like to answer a few questions?"
"Go ahead, ask", Rogue rumbled.
Frank pulled out the first cue card, cleared his throat and
"Mr. Rogue we know you enjoy lunch. For our viewers, we would
like you to take us to your inside world."
Years of broadcasting had conditioned Frank to articulate scripted
questions without comprehending them.
Inside the news van, Sam's whiskered jaw dropped, Judy's long ears
snapped to attention. What kind of question was that? It wasn't on the
scripted list. Sam reached for Frank's mic switch, the switch lever
snapped off. POP! A circuit breaker on the control panel tripped, the
voice radios for Frank and Fenris winked out; dead.
Cursing, Sam fumbled for the file drawer containing the panel
schematics. He hadn't familiarized himself to the panel layout. Judy
buried her head in her paws and groaned. The camera receiver and video
tape recorder continued to run.
Frank automatically flipped to the second card. "Rogue, we hear
it's quite an interesting place to be, so do lunch on us. We'd like to
From the van monitor, Sam and Judy could only witness Rogue's
puzzled reaction to the question. The giant smiled at camera and at the
twosome standing before him.
They heard Rogue's gleeful reply, "Oh that kind of Lunch! Sure
Hank Strom sat in a leather padded chair, ignoring the panoramic view
framed by the glass walls of his spacious corner office. A wasted
morning reviewing Video resumes of anchor talent.
"Hank", barked his secretaries voice from the intercom,
"Sam's waiting outside with the tape."
"Send him in."
Sam Roberts sauntered in, carrying papers, a lunch bag and a video
tape from yesterday's disastrous interview. He dropped the heap on the
capacious, mahogany desk, retrieved the tape and inserted it into the
office VCR. He found the remote and clicked on the monitor.
"I'll speed through the preliminaries."
Hank reached for the bag and pulled out french fries. "Do you
mind? I haven't had lunch yet."
Sam nodded. He fast forwarded to the interview. The two watched a
gray paw grip Frank like a gigantic vise and pull him up towards Rogue's
"I thought your contact promised Rogue wouldn't chomp
"Technically, that didn't cover ingestion."
Hank and Sam munched on french fries as the video monitor replayed
dramatic footage of Frank being tossed into Rogue's mouth. Massive jaws
snapped shut. The two watched the enormous throat contract and a bulge
slide down the wolf's neck. The camerafur had stood rigid with fear, a
clawed paw zoomed towards the hapless Fenris.
The helmet camera faithfully recorded a rising, dizzying motion
towards a gargantuan oral cave, rushing past fanged rows of teeth,
bouncing over a wide, pink river of tongue and sliding towards a deep
"I'd thought it end up dark, where's the light coming
"The camera automatically switched over to infrared."
Fascinated, the pair watched pulsing movement down a slick, greasy
tube. It could have been a medical video of an endoscope traveling down
an esophagus, except this was Fenris and the camera making the trip into
Rogue's waiting belly.
A slimy sphincter opened and the camera view tumbled about, then
stabilized; showing the interior of a glistening, slick chamber lined
with ridges and folds. They watched the living walls of a carnivore maw
throb and churn, thick, sludgy films of liquid streaming down.
"Look! There's Frank screaming and pounding the sides, he's
still, or was, alive. I'll be damned Sam, this is pretty good footage.
Look at that! His hairpiece and fur are falling off, must be acidic in
Sam shut off the monitor. "The camera continued to transmit, all
that's left are a few hours worth of stomach and intestinal movement.
Believe it or not, we're still picking up a tracking signal from the
video camera. It's in a pile near some bushes in the park."
"That's valuable equipment, hire some beetles to recover it. In
the meantime, we'll scrape together a story about Rogue and of Frank's
demise. I see great ratings from this." Hank licked his broad,
black paw; delicious french fries. "By the way, how much do you
think we can sell the tape to the medical colleges for educational
Sam stared at his manager, "I'll look into it."
Birds chattered in the trees surrounding a tranquil park clearing. A
contented creature laid on his back, chewing on a toothpick; a spruce
sapling. His other paw clutched a squirming bystander against his chest.
Rogue had plucked the onlooker from a nearby hiding place after pulling
the sapling out of the ground. He raised his gargantuan head and
examined the black and tan colored dog.
"Should I let you go or wait till I'm hungry for dessert?"
Muzzle buried in the thick pile of tummy fur, the Doberman heard the
deep voice echo through the gurgling belly. He winced at the thought of
ending up on the other side of that furry wall. Twisting his snout
sideways, he spat out lupine hairs and spoke loudly. "Rogue...I
have a better idea. I'd like to talk to you about it."
Rogue slowly sat up, he held his tiny guest at eye level, gray ears
Inside Hank's office, Sam turned to leave, he paused, "I almost
forgot, your secretary asked me to give you these faxed papers." He
handed the sheets to Hank and left.
Hank Strom scanned the fax. From Pat Moria, answers to his exit
interview questionnaire. He read the cover sheet;
'Greetings and salutations Hank, you skinflint.
Congratulations on screwing up yesterdays interview. Thanks to Rogue,
you'll be able to hire a cheaper, prima donna news anchor. Speaking of
the canine devil, I had the good fortune of meeting him after the
The glass walled office's natural light darkened. Hank frowned, too
early for clouds, wasn't it blue skies this morning? He muttered at the
paper, too bad Rogue didn't eat you. He continued;
'In exchange for my life, I gave Rogue detailed directions
to the headquarters of our illustrious television station. Keep a large
stock of Tabasco sauce in the cafeteria.'
Hank heard a wind gust rattle the glass. He looked up to see a mist
coated splotch on the window wall. Fog filled breath coming from a
colossal, black nose; attached to a gigantic gray muzzle and yellow
eyes. His screams were drowned out by shattering glass and a huge gray
paw encircled him.
Rogue's mammoth tongue flicked over his chops. Sampling the news
staff, live, made better entertainment than watching TV.
Rogue is copyrighted by his player. All rights reserved. - 8/15/98