The Guard's Tale

"Stay" he yelled. Of course I followed his orders. He is the commander, I am his guard. He was tense today. For the last few weeks, reports have been coming in about forces amassing to the south. The war, only three months long, seems like it has been going on for years. To think, all this because a baby died?

It was a cold day. I waited where the commander ordered me to. Two hours went by and I didn’t dare let my mind wander, lest the Eyes be watching. The door finally opened and the commander appeared. He looked furious. He turned to face inside the building. "We can’t afford a war on three fronts!" he yelled, "Those fucking idiots will pay for this shit." His cellphone began to ring as he walked towards me. "What?" he answered. The caller seemed hurried. "I’ll be right there. Don’t let anything happen. We’ll make an example out of this one."

We headed downtown. A large group of onlookers had formed by the time we arrived. Sitting against the brick building was a young boy no older than seventeen looking solemnly at the ground. I stood guard around the young man while the commander made orders to the Eyes. Ten minutes later a truck arrived and the men began unloading barrels. The crowd of spectators grew larger. The young man did not bother to look up as the Eyes picked him and strapped him onto the truck bed. The barrels were opened and one by one the soldiers began pouring their contents into the young man. One barrel empty, they moved to the second. When the second was emptied, fear arose among the crowd. How was he not dead yet? However, their fear was in vain. Halfway through the third barrel the young man went limp.

Maybe that stuff did kill the congressman’s baby.

The crowd cheered and the commander climbed onto the back of the truck. The onlookers stood at attention despite the putrid smell of mayonnaise that filled the air. He shoved the young man to the ground with his boot. The body, rigid as if it had just returned from the taxidermist, hit the ground with a thud. Some of the mayo stuffing slowly oozed out of his mouth as the commander began to speak.

"What you have all just witnessed is the price one pays for breaking the law. This man was found in possession of contraband material." He grasped the contraband in his arm and lifted it into the air. "Three packets of ketchup. As all of you should know, the law expressly forbids such a substance. Those that refuse to acknowledge these laws shall pay as this young man did today. Let this man be a lesson that the Republic of Ranchovia will not tolerate foreign condiments." He laid the ketchup packets down and squashed them underneath his boot. "We all must band together at this time of war. In all directions we have enemies. Yes, we do outnumber the majority of them, but the Purist forces of the south and those heathens from Noeggistan will continue in their efforts to destroy us. At this time we must be steadfast and unwavering in our defense of our freedom, our home, and, most importantly, ranch dressing. If you notice any strange persons or encounter any user of contraband material, inform the Eyes at once. We cannot allow the enemy to infiltrate our ranks. Now go back to our normal routines, but do not forget what you have seen."


Two weeks later, the commander survived an assassination attempt by some radical sriracha fiend. Three men died, but the attempt failed. In response, I was ordered on 24-hour guard duty. Where the commander goes, I follow. Last night we went to the commander’s club, called "Allspice." Only the top officials are allowed in, however, my presence did not make them uncomfortable. I don’t eat any condiments. They know I have no dog in this fight, however, this did not make what I saw any less unnerving. The commander and his officials openly ate relish, ketchup, mustard, and even mayo. They ate like they did before the war, but now such actions are grounds for execution. These men ate what they publicly vowed to destroy, and yet they did it as if nothing was wrong. Were they testing me? Why would they? My people are known to have no preference or use for condiments. Do they think I’m a spy? No, then why speak so openly in front of me?

I listened to their conversations. The war has gone global. A supply of mayonnaise bound for Canada was confiscated near the border in Minnesota. This is what the commander was yelling about before the ketchup incident. The Canadians are now amassing forces to the north, and the E.U. has voiced its support for the Canadians. The commander’s fear of war on three fronts is now a reality.

Ever since this war started, Ranchovia has been the main target. The revered status of ranch in this area before the war made it the most homogeneous region when war broke out. The adoration of ranch that was once a source of mockery, became the region’s source of power. Noeggistan is plagued by uprisings of "Purists" and ranch supporters, both of which hinder its war efforts abroad. The Purist coalition to the south is also bogged down by infighting. Generations upon generations of people moved to what was known as the "Sun Belt" in the pre-war period. Ironically, the decline in population in Ranchovia’s past created innumerable sleeper cells across the "Sun Belt" when the war began. To think that I was one of the few that did the opposite, but, then again, I couldn't stay in the south after my failure. The solidarity of the Ranchovian people is unquestionable. According to the Eyes, even the small uprisings that do occur within Ranchovia’s borders, like the chipotle ranch cult to the west, are the creation of Congressman Secrets.


Three months have passed since that night at "Allspice." The tides of war seem to have shifted. The city’s old automobile plants have been constructing large artillery cannons. The sound of artillery is constant. A ring of ranch has been created by the cannons. Congressman’s Secrets forces will not approach the ranch-flooded areas for fear of contamination. The Purist forces, though still on the offensive, are being hit heavy by the cannons and their advancements have slowed to a crawl. Ranchovia’s hegemony seems certain.

My non-preference for condiments is irking the Commander.  He is becoming ever more weary of my presence. Yesterday he purposely took the roundabout way home so that we would pass by the West Wall. It is there that the Eyes hang the corpses of the unfaithful for all to see. Their bodies lay mangled and festering full of spoiled mayonnaise and relish. The smell alone is enough to make one gag, which is why I know the commander brought me here. Maybe he thinks I’m with the Eyes? Maybe he thinks I’m with Staples? But, then why am I still alive? I’m beginning to realize that this is the type of conflict in which neutrality is a damnable offense.


The commander relieved me of my duties tonight. As a member of the general population, I’m vulnerable. I don’t eat ranch. I don’t eat any condiment. I fear my end is soon. If only I hadn’t failed that mission……




Historical Notes on The Guard’s Tale:


Dr. Scruff: Hello and welcome to the thirteenth Human Studies’ symposium at Auburn University . As many of you know, during the period of human dominance and canine subserviency, Auburn University maintained a highly skilled and secretive unit of canine commandos known as the Exploding Dog Unit. Prof. WarDogEagle is here today to present some research about one of this team’s leaders.


Dr. WarDogEagle:

Thank you Dr. Scruff, and hello to you all. As many of you know, human society declined in the early 21st Century. Our ancestors, such as my great grandfather Lt. WarDogEagle, were instrumental in the human war on terrorism, and were a very large reason for the eventual triumph of Western human society over the forces of terrorism. After serving in the war, Lt. WarDogEagle was chosen to lead the Exploding Dog Unit of Auburn University. My great grandfather would lead the unit with distinction until, in 2011, Lt. WarDogEagle failed a mission. In disgrace, and more likely to avoid being exploded, he went AWOL.  

Lt. WarDogEagle would resurface in Detroit, where many canines had been migrating towards. Humans had slowly been abandoning the city, making it an attractive location. Fortunately for us, Lt. WarDogEagle left a record of his time in Detroit, and, more importantly, the events in and around Detroit were central to the infighting amongst the humans. The record that my great grandfather left behind provides a picture into exactly what caused human society to collapse, and, as a result, allowed for canine society to arise.

Despite a peace falling upon the earth around 2019, the humans faced tremendous difficulties in adjusting to a world without terrorism. A few of the reasons, in no particular order, was the human politicians' reliance on war for public approval, the large number of former soldiers that could not readjust to civilian life, and a general sentiment in society that an enemy had to exist. Without the universal enemy of terrorists, western society turned against itself.

The downfall of human society would ironically begin when a congressman from Illinois named A.C. Secrets alleged that his baby died from ingesting mayonnaise. He introduced a bill to outlaw mayonnaise as a result. Rumors spread that he in fact killed his son to advance his anti-mayo political agenda, however, there is no evidence to support this claim. Regardless of Congressman Secret’s intentions, the law successfully passed.

Now, as a result of the factors laid out above, this seemingly innocuous measure caused tremendous uproar among portions of the country, primarily throughout the area known to humans as the "Rust Belt." The reason for such outright hostility was the fact that mayo was not only a popular condiment by itself, but, more importantly, it was a primary and necessary ingredient in ranch dressing, which for over sixty years had been the world’s #1 selling dressing. Others who simply preferred pure mayo, or "Purists" as they became known as, took up arms as well. Soon, factions arose throughout the country under the banner of particular condiments.

Congressman Secrets suspended the constitution under the pretext of restoring order. In reaction to what many viewed as an infringement of their personal liberties, separatist groups around the country seceded and the United States  dissolved. The "Rust Belt" region became known as "Ranchovia," while Congressman Secrets named his empire along the eastern seaboard "Noeggistan." The "Purists," though unified under the banner of mayonnaise, were plagued by infighting and never achieved the level of power and solidarity to rival the others. I believe that had the "Purists" and the Ranchovians unified, they would have easily emerged victorious and reestablished global peace. However, the "Purists" viewed ranch dressing as nothing more than tainted mayo. This made the alliance impossible.

Lt. WarDogEagle would use his past military experience in the Ranchovian army. He would even serve as personal bodyguard to the head Ranchovian commander, and his time at this position is recorded in the material I present to you today. Lt. WarDogEagle’s records reveal how the war over condiments eventually spilt across borders and embroiled the world in conflict. The multiethnic and multiracial demographics of many countries sent them into anarchy as no consensus existed regarding the alpha-condiment. Ranchovia’s solidarity allowed it to gain global prominence. The nation was ruled authoritatively by its ruling class and the people lived in constant fear that they were being watched by the "Eyes," a secretive police force tasked with seeking out those that indulged in "forbidden" condiments.

Ranchovia’s primacy made it a target. It’s borders were constantly besieged by outsiders. However, Ranchovia prevailed as a result of its technology. For 3 months, ranch artillery rained down upon the Ranchovian borders. The advancing armies either gave up entirely or trudged on and experienced heavy losses. It was around this time that Lt. WarDogEagle was killed. His southern roots branded him an outsider and his record leads us to believe that these roots were discovered and he was executed.

Mass suicides arose across the earth as people chose to end their own lives rather than conform and live under a ranch dominated society. For all real purposes, human society ceased to exist outside Ranchovia’s borders. At this point, with no other enemies, Ranchovia’s leaders became embroiled in a major power struggle. Accusations that some had indulged in "forbidden" condiments arose. Many in the Ranchovian elite began amassing support like warlords to protect their power. The historical record ends at this point. It is assumed that this infighting brought about the fall of Ranchovia, and with it fell human society.

The downfall of the humans allowed for our society to arise. But the downfall of the humans provides a valuable lesson. Canine society cannot allow such divisive opinions to arise. Thankfully, it appears that nothing will ever arise to seriously challenge the mighty Beggin Strip. As long as the Beggin Strip maintains its superiority, canine society should be able to avoid the pitfalls that brought about the decline of the humans. This is the greatest threat to our young society.

Thank you. I know invite you to join us at the reception in the adjoining room where I’m told punch and cookies will be served.

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