Family Business
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In all great family trees, there is a small and stunted little twig that is ill mentioned and highly embarrassing. A stain on the illustrious painting of heritage. A black sheep. A brown M&M. The family as a whole would prefer that it be trimmed with a nice pair of hedgeclippers, but gardening shears for metaphysical representations of genealogy were very expensive and surprisingly shoddy. Most families survived by very carefully navigating social traps and generally ignoring the existence of such a brown M&M. The more captivating families preferred exile or banishment.

The Wondertainment line was one such captivating family. They were full of colourful names, from the yet-to-be-born Ivan "The-Terribly-Excitable" Aeryn Emthe Remy Wondertainment. Or the grand Mehmed Mahlia Prudence Zanna Wondertainment. Or even Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment V1,the distant ancestor and the great-great niece of John Wondertainment.

John. The brown M&M.

John. Born Johnny Monterey Macarena Kalene Wondertainment, known in most documentation as John "I-Don't-Want-A-Bloody-Middle-Name" Wondertainment. Further known to the mundane people with boring things like houses and well-paying jobs as John Unterhaltung.2. John, who coincidentally had a house and a well paying job. John, who wanted nothing to do with any of the Wondertainments.

John had a difficult childhood. Being raised by his Wonderparents, John always dreamed of doing well in school and perhaps becoming a doctor. His parents naturally had wanted him to be a painter, or perhaps a sculptor or a bonbon boutiqueist, and were suitably horrified that such an innocent child could ever want to do something so awful with his life. Little Johnny Monterey Macarena Kalene Wondertainment spent many a night in the Wondertainment Sleep Tight Dream Bed™ as punishment. He still has nightmares about racecar beds.

He left as soon as he could. Using words like "emancipation" and "constitution", he confused his parents long enough to slip out, taking his Way to a nice and respectable college, where he attended classes and received high marks. The ultimate shame for his parents.

So yes, every family tree has its issues. Currently, the Wondertainment issue was driving a nondescript grey car home from the nondescript grey hospital, listening to Steve Reich on the very descript pink radio3. It was going to rain, apparently.

It had been a perfectly wonde- good. Good day, John decided. No one had died. In fact, several people were surviving, thanks in large part to his own efforts. It didn't occur to him that something could go wrong.

It was about the time that he pulled up in his driveway that John realised something was off. His door, for instance, was not designed to be hanging uselessly off of one hinge, buckled into his foyer. In a rather polite state of disbelief, he entered the house, awkwardly closing then locking the door, more for his own mental security than any protection it could currently provide.

The interior of his house looked like a small tornado had drunkenly rampaged about before deciding upon a spontaneous redecoration4. John's heart was in his throat as he tried the nonfunctioning light switch, then slunk over to the telephone, preparing to call the police. It was all he could do not to panic as he noticed that the line on his very new rotary phone had ended prematurely. His hands trembled as he put the phone down, stepping quietly over the remains of his Magnavox.

It was the sound of some thing creeping towards him that gave John pause. In the dark hall, it looked horrible. A brown M&M with legs. Too many legs. The thing froze, raising what might be a head in John's direction, tilting it ever so slightly.

This was when John's nerve broke. He spun around, sprinting to put as much distance between him and the M&M. For a moment, he felt the thrill of success, but then, the thing propelled itself off the ground, throwing John onto his back, dripping some hot, unknown liquid from its gaping maw, hot puffs of stinking breath washing over his face. He flailed wildly, limbs knocking uselessly into the hairy form above him, until he jerked to the right, freeing himself. John scrabbled for footing, accelerating wildly into the bathroom, where he grabbed the door, tensing to slam it.

"Wait!" the thing cried.

John watched in stunned silence.

"I'm here about your father!"

John slammed the door even harder.

John stared at the Shiba Inu wagging its tail in front of him. It was panting happily and drooling on his carpet.

The dog had been chatting through John's silence, oblivious to the quiet numbness that was creeping gently down John's spine, pooling lazily in his stomach. The fatal numbness that comes with betting everything on the three legged racehorse named Lucky. "And so I was worried that you were gone and I had to search everything and then you weren't there and what could I do I and then I thought I heard panicking and then there you were!"

"…What happened to my father?"

"Candy division wasn't going so well maybe someone was fudging the numbers so he went down for a personal inspection and then he slipped and they called it an industrial fudge accident and whoa it was messy!"

The Shiba Inu panted proudly, waiting for John to laugh.

"So, he's dead." John's hand began to shake weakly.

"At least he died before the skeleton got him!"


"Yup! They're plotting to rule the world! They hide inside of people, and they're skulking in wait for the perfect time to burst out and order spare ribs from restaurants! If they had the stomach for it.5."

The dog waited again, his muzzle open and lips pulled back into a huge grin. When John didn't laugh, he kept going.

"Nobody is safe! Not even you! There's a skeleton inside of you!"

John chuckled in spite of himself, before his utter failure to hold his stomach contents interrupted an equally bad pun. It was so unbelievable. The dog. His father. Himself. It had been too long since the real, moving racecar beds, discoball treetoppers, and rocking horse rockets.

He didn't know how long he sat there in his broken home. Perhaps he would have stayed there forever, if not for feeling the dog rest its head upon his leg, meeting his gaze with sad puppy eyes. He idly scratched it behind the ears.

"He asked for you to see it, one last time."

John shook his head at the dog. "No." He was not in the mood to argue.

The Shiba didn't care.

It was now launching a coordinated assault on John's fingers, attempting to flood them out with its tongue. John shook it off, standing unsteadily to look around his house. He had cleaning to do, regardless of the dog, regardless of Wondertainment. Quietly and automatically, he began to clean, ignoring the whines of the Shiba Inu behind him.

His concentration broke at the "schlorp" behind him, which experienced housewives would tell you is the sound of a clogged drain. A Wondertainment would tell you it's the sound of a determined Shiba Inu casually violating spacetime. John turned slowly.

He was greeted with the sight of an impossibly large, gaping maw enclosing around him. In reality, it was more of an improbably bored yawn, but it would be highly unlikely for John himself to know that. Before he could cry out, the jaws slammed shut around him.

The Shiba Inu wagged its tail happily, precious cargo now secured. It was time for John to visit the family namesake. It looked back once at the ruined house before stepping out into something that was definitely not Earth. There was business apaw.

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