> "This dog," he said, looking at the mongrel in the cage, "does not exist."
> "But sir, it's there!" His assistant pointed furiously at the offending
> animal, which wagged and grinned at her.
> "It has not been registered with the local council. It has never seen a
> vet. No record of this dog can be found. It does not exist." If possible,
> the official looked even more self-righteous than before.
> "It doesn't matter anyway," the assistant sighed. "It's going to be put
> "How can we put down an animal that clearly doesn't exist?" He frowned,
> genuinely unable to comprehend that the brown mutt in the cage before him
> existed as much as he did.
> The dog barked.
> "Perhaps I could just take it home?" The assistant suggested in
> "Don't be silly, it's got to be killed, it attacked a man!"
> "But sir, how could it attack a man if it doesn't exist?"
> "Clearly it existed at the time of the attack!"
> The assistant sighed again, and gave it up as a lost cause. She motioned
> to the dark man in the corner. "Just shoot it."
> "It'll have to be documented, ma'am. There'll be paperwork."
> "You are the man who puts down dogs, aren't you? Then put down this dog!
> Never mind the paperwork, I'll do it myself."
> The official opened his mouth to protest, but was silenced by the look of
> absolute exhaustion and impatience on his assistant's face. "Very well.
> Carry on."
> Three months later, Anna was carrying out her annual audit of canine
> births, deaths, and ownership changes. She'd been doing this for her
> entire career - auditing dogs, cats, goldfish, turtles, and BIC biros -
> and the figures had never once failed to add up.
> Until now.
> There was one more dog death than there should be.
> She counted again. It took her the usual three weeks, but she conducted
> the entire canine audit again.
> Still an extra dog death.
> She picked up the phone and dialled her boss.
> "Mr Goodson, it's Anna."
> "Who? Oh yes, the audit girl. What is it, woman? You manage to go twelve
> years without bothering me, so don't tell me now this is a social call."
> The grim voice obviously had better things to be doing than talking to
> Anna, but it couldn't be helped.
> "I'm sorry sir. There's an irregularity."
> "One too many canine deaths."
> "Count 'em again!" Mr Goodson said impatiently.
> "I did, sir. It took me three weeks." Anna's voice shook. She'd never come
> across this situation before, and didn't know what to do.
> "Call the Investigators. That's what they're for."
> Click. The phone went dead.