Dearest Beast Dealers:

Today I write to you with sadness in my heart and hunger in my belly. Times are tough, money is tight, and people are no longer buying vicious, hybrid animals.

Those of you who have been in this trade as long as I have no doubt remember the last great downturn: When Miami’s “Cocaine Cowboy” days came to an end, and dozens of Komodo Tiger dealers shut their doors, leaving the residents of southern Florida without a place to purchase gigantic, bloodthirsty lizard-tiger crossbreeds.

This latest economic downturn has proven even worse for our tight-knit community. A day doesn’t go by that I open the Exotic Beast Dealer Monthly in-box without seeing a missive like this one from Ron in Boise:

Dearest Lemuel,

I fear this may be my last correspondence. Lacking the funds necessary to lure wayward travelers to my hilltop ranch, I have been unable to satisfy my human-eating otters for more than two weeks. To quiet their nightly shrieks, I eventually offered them my left pinky. They’ve taken to my meat. Now, nine days later, I’m locked in my office with only a ring finger to tap out this email. By sunrise tomorrow, they will come for it and I, Ron from Boise, will be consumed by these beautiful monsters I’ve sired.

Semper Scary,

Although there is absolutely nothing any of us could have done to help Ron—even if we had come back from Six Flags earlier like we had promised—there are many things we as beast dealers can do to help ourselves:

  • We need to stop thinking of each other as competitors and instead start finding ways to pool our resources. No more tipping off investigative reporters to the Poison Zebra Stable two streets over or ratting out the neighborhood Killer Koala Kennel to the Feds. In order to survive, we’ll have to cooperate. That means buying meat in bulk, manufacturing anger-inducing shampoos, and helping one another not clean cages.
  • The customer is always right, as long as she wants to purchase another type of ungodly mutant killer animal. After you sell Sally a pair of Radioactive Water Moccasins, tell her all about so-and-so’s something else that could totally fight her new Mocs to the death, especially if they fought on top of a huge sparkling diamond. Remember: what goes around comes around, or as we like to say, “Snakes eat their tails.”
  • Don’t let a modified species devour the creature that carried it to term. Study shows that this won’t make them any crueler, plus it can really do a number on young bowels.
  • Listen, then talk, then listen some more, then shoot with a tranquilizer gun, then listen for breathing, then shoot with a real gun.
  • The most dangerous game is man; so don’t be afraid to traffic in humans when times are tough.

Over the years, I’ve learned that raising terrifying animals is all about community. It’s about always being there for a friend, except when you can’t because your wife’s sister’s adopted kid keeps whining from the backseat and you have to stay at Six Flag’s an extra day. Yes, community. That’s why I started working for Exotic Beast Dealer Monthly, and that’s why I’m sure we will be able to weather this economic storm—that and our semi-loyal armies of furious animals.

Semper Scary,