Maybe you don’t like science fiction. Do you like dogs? What if two dogs found a small spaceship in the woods? And one of the dogs was telling you the story?
In this sample from “Dog Star,” one of the stories in my science fiction collection, OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS, Cyrano the mixed-breed tells what he and Fiona, his Cairn terrier partner in crime, did.
“Dog Star” was originally written for Worldwide Recipes, The Official Recipezine of the Internet, the best darn recipezine in the whole darn universe. It was reprinted in the Southern Indiana Writers Group’s 2003 anthology, NOVEL INGREDIENTS, in which every story was about food and was followed by a recipe.
by Marian Allen
Stray moonbeams glinted off its gleaming black roundness and off the bright, thin legs. It made me hang my head to think that I had neglected to include information on its height in my message to Sparkle: it was taller than Fiona on her hind legs and slightly shorter than I am in that unnatural stance. I jumped at the Thing. It inched over the uneven ground. I jumped at it again. It rocked slightly, but it was well-balanced on its legs and the pivoting disk-shaped feet at their ends.
Fiona did not join my attack. She lay down flat, with her head on her paws, and regarded the Thing from under her brows, and a right unloving regard it was, too. When I saw that look, I stopped jumping, curled up comfortably in the underbrush, and waited. The thoughts of a Cairn Terrier are long, long thoughts, and will usually astound you when you realize what they are.
After the moon had lifted above the trees, Fiona stood and shook herself. Without looking at me, she trotted over to the Thing, saying, “When I give the word, jump at it again. Don’t jump straight; come up from a crouch.” With that, she went to the far side of the object and lay down with her side pressed against one of the legs.
I could see what she wanted, of course. I backed up and crouched. Shifted. Wiggled. Growled. LEAPT!
The Thing was heavy. When I, with Fiona as a fulcrum, knocked it off-balance, it teetered only a second or two, then went over. Fiona, with a Terrier’s uncanny ability to avoid entrapment, slipped out of the way without the loss of so much as a single tail-hair.
I had feared that the soft earth, the moss and detritus of the shady floor, would cushion the Thing’s fall. A happily placed outcropping of limestone just below the topsoil eliminated that fear: the Thing hit with a fang-jarring clang, rebounded from the force of its weight, and hit again. A seam opened right around the Thing’s middle; if it had been upright, the seam would have been parallel to the ground. The top popped off and slid some yards across the clearing. With an acrid whoof, whatever had been inside ejected, scattering in a spray pattern from one part of the ruined Thing to the other. Smoke and flames roiled upwards, ruining our night vision and hampering our sense of smell.
Oops! Far from being a handy food container, this Thing appeared to be a machine, probably left here by a human, probably for a purpose he or she considered worthwhile. My only consolation was that it had no slightest scent of our personal people, so it probably had no business on our property in the first place. Perhaps we had done something Good and Noble unaware.
OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS is available in print and electronic editions from Amazon, in various electronic editions through Untreed Reads and other fine internet eBook stores, and in print from your friendly neighborhood indie bookstore.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about a dog in the woods. It doesn’t have to be from the point of view of the dog.