11) The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the fire house. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature that quivered gently, its eight legs spidered under it on rubber padded paws.
Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine.
A reincarnation of the vengeful Furies from Greek mythology and the epitome of modern perverted science, the Mechanical Hound is a slick electronic hit man formed of copper wire and storage batteries and smelling of blue electricity. He is an omnipresent menace capable of storing "so many amino acids, so much sulphur, so much butterfat and alkaline" that he can inexorably trail the odor index of ten thousand victims to their doom. From his snout projects a "four-inch hollow steel needle," which can inject enough morphine or procaine to quell a rat, cat, or chicken within three seconds. Sniffing its quarry with "sensitive capillary hairs in the Nylon-brushed nostrils," the Hound growls and then scuttles silently toward its prey on eight rubber-padded feet. Sighting through the "green-blue neon light" of its multifaceted eyes, the Hound is masterminded by a central command for rapid deployment and near perfect accuracy.
The Hound represents government control and manipulation of technology. Originally, dogs served as the rescuers for firemen. They were given the job of sniffing out the injured or weak. However, in this dystopia, the Hound has been made into a watchdog of society. Like the Furies, the Mechanical Hound has been programmed (by the government) to avenge and punish citizens who break society's rules. The ones who are not loyal to the rules must especially be punished, and the Hound serves as the enforcer of these rules.