The voice Montgomery heard was coming from a dog. But it was the most delicious-looking dog he’d ever seen. It seemed to be made entirely of chocolate. A full-grown Labrador – moving and alive – but chocolate. A Chocolate Lab.
It was a few feet in front of him, and moved in a way Montgomery didn’t understand. It looked like it was solid chocolate – melting a little in the hot sun – but moved its legs and head just like a regular dog.
“I must be dreaming,” Montgomery said, wondering if the dream would allow him to taste chocolate. “I must have knocked myself out running at that tunnel. This can’t be real.”
“Oh, you gonna try that are you?” asked the Chocolate Lab. “That whole ‘this isn’t real’ thing? Don’t think that’s gonna help you, you big lug. I assure you I’m very real.” As if to prove it, the Chocolate Lab stepped forward, opened its mouth, turned its head sideways, and closed its jaws on Montgomery’s right leg.
“Yaioww!” Montgomery yelled in pain. He would never have thought chocolate could hurt so much. The Chocolate Lab let go, having made its point.
“Wow,” Montgomery said as he recovered. “So that’s what it’s like for chocolate when I eat it.”
“What the heck is chocolate?” asked the Chocolate Lab without really caring, before continuing, “never mind. You’re coming with me.”
“Yeah, you already said,” Mongtomery replied, now fully convinced that this was real, even while his mind told him that it couldn’t be.
“Follow me,” the Chocolate Lab said, and led the way down a path on the mountainside. Montgomery started to follow. As they were making their way around the curve of the mountain, he turned to take a look at where he’d come from, and he thought for a moment that he saw Roger, but he lost sight of her.
“Excuse me…?” Montgomery said to the Chocolate Lab, but the Lab just huffed back at him, to let him know that Montgomery was not important enough to respond to.
Montgomery wondered if his friend would be able to follow him. He didn’t want to attract attention to Roger, though, since the Chocolate Lab might capture her too. Although Montgomery was much larger than the Lab, the Lab was more agile, and had a really strong bite. Montgomery’s leg was still throbbing.
As the Lab led Montgomery down the path, Montgomery kept thinking about the dog made out of chocolate. How did that work? Could Montgomery take a bite out of the dog, or would that hurt the dog as much as when the dog bit him? Montgomery turned his head occasionally, and he sometimes caught sight of Roger, but he couldn’t tell if Roger had seen him and was keeping her distance to rescue him, or if she just hadn’t seen him at all.
When he looked back at the Chocolate Lab, though, the strangest thing happened. For a moment, he couldn’t see the Chocolate Lab, and he thought it was hiding, but slowly he realized the Chocolate Lab was still there; it just wasn’t chocolate anymore. Now it seemed to be made of water. Still shaped like a dog, and walking along just as before, but somehow liquid. Montgomery was taken aback, but a moment later, the Chocolate Lab was back to normal – or as normal as a walking chocolate dog could be. Montgomery decided he must have just imagined it – he wasn’t used to this heat, and frankly, this whole land sent his mind spinning.
“Um, where are we going?” Montgomery asked, trying to regain some normality.
“Never mind that now, never mind that now,” the Chocolate Lab replied, still focused on the path ahead.
Montgomery considered just running away, but it seemed a little pointless. He didn’t know anything about where he was, and he wanted to find his friends. Then it occurred to him that maybe the Chocolate Lab had captured them too.
“Hey, have you seen some other creatures here?” he decided to ask. “Small creatures? One with four legs, and two with two legs?”
The Chocolate Lab stopped and turned to look at Montgomery suspiciously, as if to ask why would I care about the number of legs?
“It’s a little rude, don’t you think?” interrupted the Chocolate Lab.
“What is?” asked Montgomery.
“I mean, you haven’t even asked my name. And now you’re talking about friends of yours with all these legs. Don’t you think that’s a little rude?”
“Well… I’m sorry,” Montgomery replied, not quite sure why he was apologizing. “Um, what’s your name?”
“I don’t…” the Lab started, before a pause. It stopped in its tracks, and turned to look at Montgomery, with some sadness suddenly appearing on its chocolate face. Montgomery stopped too, as the Lab continued. “I don’t… have a name.”
“You don’t?” Montgomery replied.
“No,” the Chocolate Lab replied. “I mean, I don’t really need one,” it said as it regained its composure, and turned away to keep walking. “I mean, I know who I am. That’s what’s important, right?”
Montgomery stood still, and for a second or two he realized this was his best chance to escape, but he was confused and felt sad for the Lab.
“Why did you mention it, then?”
“What?” the Lab huffed.
“Why did you say that I hadn’t asked your name if you don’t even have one?” Montgomery asked.
“Well, you didn’t know that, did you? I just thought it was rude that you didn’t even ask.”
Montgomery decided to push back a little.
“Um, you bit my leg, and captured me,” he ventured.
“Hmm,” said the Lab. “Yeah, I guess biting your leg was a bit rude. But I didn’t capture you…” The Lab looked confused, as if Montgomery didn’t really understand the situation.
“Wait, what?” Montgomery replied. “You didn’t?”
“No! Why did you think that?”
“Well…” Montgomery started, now a bit confused himself. “You kept saying I was coming with you.”
“Yeah,” the Lab added, a little judgmentally, “because I want to take you somewhere.”
“Oh.” It slowly dawned on Montgomery that he had misunderstood the whole situation. “So I’m free to go?”
“Of course you are. You think something my size can stop you?”
Montgomery considered this more. He looked at the Chocolate Lab, who now seemed a lot smaller and less intimidating than it had before.
“Oh, okay,” Montgomery said, and started walking forward again, now that he knew it was his choice after all. He passed the Chocolate Lab, who started walking again also, and soon took back the lead.
They both remained silent for a moment, both taking stock of the situation. Then Montgomery realized that the introductions had only gone one way.
“By the way, my name is Montgomery.”
The Chocolate Lab looked at him, again with some condescension.
“Yeah, obviously,” it replied.
Montgomery was puzzled.
“Montgomery the Moose,” the Chocolate Lab continued. “I mean, everyone knows Montgomery the Moose. You’re legendary.”