Here was the brief for the latest short story comp over on the 2000AD forums:
Your topic for a story of no more than 500 words is… (drumroll)…
TALES FROM THE DOGHOUSE
Remember those quirky little stronty dog stories we got when they killed Johnny Alpha off (It’ll never last)?
EVERYONE knows Johnny Alpha, but what about all those other Stronts?
Where’s THEIR stories?
Right here, my friends, in 500 words or less
The votes were counted, the three winners were announced, and they’ve all been good enough to allow us to reprint their entries here. So first up, in 3rd place,
Smiffy with “The Mutaint”
“Sand, sand, sand—and more sand.”
She then strode off across the dead lake and he waddled and clacked after her.
“Wait for me,” he said and was surprised when she did.
“We’d best check our weapons before we get there,” she said, wiping her goggles clean with a sleeve. “Sand is getting everywhere.”
He released the magazine from his blaster, hit it against his head, and re-loaded it. He looked up at her and waggled his eyebrows. “Don’t worry—my gun’s ship-shape and Bristol fashion.”
She flinched, adjusted the bandolier that ran across her third breast, and strode off once more, heading for the giant, rusting carcass of a crashed freighter on the horizon.
“Wait, wait,” he shouted and was again surprised when she did. Then, once he’d hobbled up to her, he said, simply, “I’m sorry.”
She cleaned her goggles again and said, “Apology accepted.” Then: “And I’m sorry I didn’t land closer. I didn’t think. How’re your feet?”
“Oh, they’d bleed if they had a blood flow.” He rocked back onto the heels of his twisted, skeleton feet. “But we’re nearly there now. Job’s nearly done.”
“Let’s get on with it,” she said and they set off again. Across the red sand, the setting sun threw long shadows towards them from the freighter. “The quarry’s in there.”
He pulled out a small computer and tapped its screen. “Howie Ramsden: The Mutaint—wanted dead or alive”
“Why do you think he does it?”
“Does what—kill people or pretend to be a mutant?”
“Both.” Pause. “But, well, why would a norm pretend to be a mutant? If he knew what it was really like, he’d… not wear that mask.”
He scrolled his finger down the screen. “His parents run a mutel in Milton Keynes. Maybe he feels guilty about the way we’re ripped off in places like that? Or, uhm, he’s a rich kid who fancied slumming it?”
“Exactly: he fancied trying out someone else’s chip on his shoulder, which he can just hand back when he’s done playing with it.”
“Or he’s a neo-Kreelmanist who wants to stir up trouble by killing norms while disguised as a mutant?”
“Or he’s just a psycho?”
“Yes, let’s not over-think the quarry.”
“Quite.” He scrolled through the Mutaint’s charge sheet and rechecked his blaster, nervously, once he’d finished. “He’s not going to surrender. He’s a—”
She unslung her rifle as they neared tailfin debris from the freighter. “I hope he’s not wearing the mask.”
“I’d rather shoot who he is rather than who he isn’t.”
He nodded and checked his blaster again as he peered into a dark tear in the hull. “Usual wager—lunch for the killing shot?”
“Beef marrow sumsum for me,” he said, tapping his toes on the ground. “And for you, if you get the Mutaint?”
“Baps,” she said, smiling, and disappeared inside the freighter.