24-Hour Story Contest Short Story | Fallout Dog

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Drawing of Birder Collie, Oliwia Czyzak | Source

July 29, 20XX

I received a message from Elijah, a good friend of mine.

‘Dr. Reiner, please. Come to Green Paws, ASAP.’ - Elijah

He asked me to visit him at his pet refuge. Being his top veterinarian choice – even if it was more of a pro bono one – I went to his office. At first glance, it was not anything out of the ordinary. Elijah usually wrote or called me when he needed advice about taking care of a homeless cat or dog he just had picked out of the street. Nevertheless, the look he had on his face when he opened the door for me was slightly worrying.

‘Thank God you arrived, Dr. Reiner. You’re not going to believe this.’

‘Don’t mention it, Eli. What’s going on?’

‘Please, come with me. And shut the door.’

Something was not right. Elijah was not that given to secrecy. Even when he had to rescue a baby crocodile that was stuck in a neighbor’s home drainage, he was able to be perfectly honest to me. Right now, his elusiveness was intense enough to make me think he was hiding an alien in the room next door. His profuse sweating, certainly, didn’t help.

When he opened the door and invited me to step in, though, I did not see a single thing that merited that kind of fear. It was just a perfectly healthy, cute Border collie that was not supposed to be on a refuge for abandoned animals. He was sitting in the consulting room’s bed, in a way so regal and detached that, apart from showing that he was well trained, he was fine.

‘Is this your veterinarian friend, Elijah? The one you said you fully trust?’

Well, at least until he started to talk in very fluent English.

‘What the…’

Elijah shut the door behind me.

‘I know, I know, Dr. Reiner. He was sitting in front of the door when I opened the refuge this morning.’

I got closer to the room’s bed, cleaning the dust out of my glasses as I looked at our visitor. I was experienced enough to know that Border Collies were very intelligent… but smart enough to speak?

‘What… what’s your name, mister…’

Cookie. The name was engraved on a bone-shaped plate on his collar.

‘My name is not important, Dr. Reiner. I am an emissary from one of the largest empires in the galaxy. And even though I know my current form can be deceiving, I can assure you that I have come with terrible news.’

One of the largest empires in the galaxy, he said.

This was going to be a most perplexing week.

August 04, 20XX

After a few days, it was evident that our recent guest was a box full of surprises.

Mr. Cookie – he disliked that name but, given he was still reluctant to tell us his true name – introduced himself to us as one of the Temrid Empire’s most important advisors, and one of the closest to Emperor Humgran II himself. Whether his story was actually believable or not, I agreed with Elijah to do some research and analysis to him in order to assess how was he able to speak in such a coherent way.

Sadly, our findings didn’t achieve anything. Apart from a heightened activity in his frontal lobe – presumably because of his eloquence – and his good physical shape, Mr. Cookie gave us the impression of being a normal dog.

Even a thorough exam of his vocal cords didn’t produce abnormal results. The laryngoscopy we applied to him revealed that his cords just made the usual work a dog’s phonation does – to our instruments, Mr. Cookie was simply barking in a more structured way.

How were we able to understand him with such precision was, for the moment, out of our reach. Elijah and I agreed, again, to send the results of our research to a biology lab in Montana where he assured me they could understand the… strange data we collected with enough secrecy.

‘We’re losing valuable time with these exams, Dr. Reiner. You should take me to your leaders immediately.’

It was impossible not to smile because of Mr. Cookie’s naiveté. In that regard, at least, he was very close to other dogs.

‘I trust that you have been in touch with human politics, Mr. Cookie. And that you’re perfectly aware of our somewhat skeptical nature.’

‘I am, Dr. Reiner. Your reluctance to accept the truth at first glance is simultaneously one of your greatest strengths and one of your worst weaknesses. But the Temrid Empire doesn’t send a messenger in times of dire need so that its… vessel gets examined.’

Mr. Cookie’s honesty gave away something about him that I wasn’t able to pick immediately.

‘Vessel…?’

‘Have you heard about the Kyran menace, Dr. Reiner?’

‘Not that I can recall, Mr. Cookie. Does it have something to do with… your message?’

Mr. Cookie laid down in the bed, with his paws extended through the stretcher’s borders. I could sense some kind of strange ominosity in his eyes.

‘The Kyran are the greatest danger to stability in the whole Virgo Supercluster as we speak, Dr. Reiner. Indigenous forms of what you know as the planet Ross 128 B, located on what you know as the Virgo Constellation. You could qualify them as insectoid lifeforms, but in truth, they’re even more than that. They’re antagonistic, well organized and with a tendency to silently invade and reproduce themselves in other planets until their population is high enough to attempt to conquer them. And they have fixated their aims on Earth.’

This diagnosis was escalating quickly. Quite removed from my profession and skills.

‘And you’re sharing this with me because…’

Mr. Cookie sat again on the stretcher, in an effort to make himself even more ominous.

‘I’m telling you this because we have enough evidence to believe that the Kyran have already infiltrated the planet and that they’re creating a hive in the Verkhoyansk region of the country that you call Russia. The current government isn’t aware of this, and neither does the scientific community of your planet at large. According to the usual Kyran reproduction rate, that hive will have a population of 36 billion drones in approximately fourteen years. More than enough to completely overrun the average defense capabilities of your world.’

I wasn’t able to tell anything to Mr. Cookie. And he knew about it.

‘Now you know why you have to take me to your leaders, as you’re so fond of saying… ASAP, Dr. Reiner.’

August 18, 20XX

I have never liked talking about work in my free days.

However, if you are able to meet an astronomer in a family barbecue, you cannot pass an opportunity like that.

‘Hey, Brandon! How have you been, darling?’

My cousin, Charlie, was as adorable as ever. I think I was probably the first person in the family to discover his sexual identity; not that it mattered that much. He still grew to be one of the best pediatricians in Boston, though he sometimes had troubles with certain parents because of it. People too conservative or too old-fashioned to let their kids enter the practice of a gay doctor, but not as much as to let them go to Sunday’s Mass with an even kinkier priest. Nevertheless, Charlie built a steady income of clients as per his love of medicine and the quality of his work.

I always felt his hugs were the most peace-instilling thing ever.

‘As good as a man grilling meat and sausages can be, Charlie. And this is…?’

‘Oh, I’m sorry! I should introduce you guys. Terry, he’s my cousin Brandon, he’s one of the best veterinarians in town… and I’m not saying it because he’s family’ - after a little laugh and a chuckle, he continued – ‘Bran, he’s my boyfriend Terry, and apart from being an astronomer, he’s the brightest star of my sky.’

Charlie was always a fan of bombastic introductions.

Terry’s line of work immediately piqued my interest.

‘Nice to meet you, Terry. Do you work on an observatory, a university or…’

‘Pleasure’s all mine, Brandon. I’m just working in the BU’s Department of Astronomy as a teacher, and I’m also part of the Astronomical Society as well.’

Maybe Charlie’s boyfriend was the leader that Mr. Cookie had to talk with, after all.

After a few drinks and a lot of barbecue, I finally was acquainted enough with Terry to ask a few questions in the living room – hopefully, not making Charlie jealous in the way. He seemed too distracted talking with Mom and Dad to care about it, though.

‘So… Tell me, Terry, are you working on any kind of research right now? Besides your teaching duties, of course.’

‘Well, you could call it research, yes. Nothing too elaborate. One of my students is doing a thesis on the Virgo Supercluster and the possibilities of finding life there.’

Too much of a coincidence.

‘Really? I was just watching a TV show about it yesterday. I remember they talked about a planet in there that could harbor life…’

Not that I was going to tell him a talking dog informed me of a life-changing fact, of course.

‘That would be probably Ross 128 B, yeah.’

Bingo.

‘I think so, yeah. But what are the chances?’

‘If you ask me… Pretty low. The planet is within the habitability range of the star it orbits, yes, and its temperature, while it can be quite hot, might allow the presence of liquid water. But it’s a stretch, and only certain kinds of lifeforms could live there.’

‘Like… What? Microbes, virus or the like?’

‘Depends on if Ross 128 B actually has any kind of atmosphere to begin with. If it has, yes, it could have every kind of those. Even some kinds of insects could survive in there… But, until we have stopped waging useless wars and spending our good taxpayers’ money in selfish pursuits, we’re not going to be able to know that soon enough.’

Oh, Terry. Mr. Cookie isn’t so sure about that.

September 02, 20XX

‘Dr. Reiner, please. Come to Green Paws, ASAP.’ - Elijah

The serpent has finally bitten its tail, I guess.

I went to the Green Paws Animal Refuge, preparing myself to meet another emissary of the Temrid Empire. A colleague of Mr. Cookie, perhaps. Given that he was pretty well treated in our company, we might end up being a UN branch office, if times were of the essence.

The reality, however, was to be somewhat different.

‘You’re not going to believe this, Brandon.’

‘Elijah, I wasn’t going to believe that Mr. Cookie talked… And I eventually did.’

Elijah sighed. He produced some envelopes out of his desk’s drawers, throwing them in the table in front of me.

‘Do you remember the results we sent to the lab weeks ago?’

‘Of course I do, Eli…’

As I opened the envelopes, I met the same results we sent… with a particular kind of rebuke.

The tests were sent back to us with a letter that, essentially, exhorted us to not sent them that kind of jokes again, especially given they had a lab that was running investigations valuable enough to be losing their time listening to dog barks.

‘What the…’

‘I know, right? I called them. After one of their directors of research nearly assaulted me over the phone, and enough apologies of my part, he calmed down enough to talk with me. And he swore to me that they didn’t listen any talking or comprehensible language enough in the recordings.’

That was when I remembered the part about Mr. Cookie being a vessel for something.

As I thought about it, Elijah started to stare blankly at the TV screen of his office.

‘Wait… Are you seeing…?’

I turned to watch the TV as Elijah took the remote control with his hands, turning the volume up.

It was CNN on the screen. The quality of the signal was pathetic, but we could still make some sense of it.

‘… Breaking news… the Secretary of Defense… has said that the Russian Army has detonated a… powerful nuclear device in the mountains near the town of Verkhoyansk… the Prime Minister of Russia has said that it was just a… test for a nuclear dearming program… the strength of the blast, calculated in at least 25 megatons, suggest otherwise…’

‘Elijah…’

‘What?’

‘… where the hell is Mr. Cookie?’

As Elijah and I looked each other, we both ran hastily to the refuge’s consulting room.

Mr. Cookie was there, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, looking at us with the love that only a dog can provide. Happy as a kid, he started barking over and over again.

Whatever happened with our Temrid Empire’s emissary, it seemed evident to me that, if humans had become a skeptical race…

… Russians were probably the lesser skepticals of the whole bunch.


This short story is participating in the 24-Hour Story Contest Short Story by @mctiller featured here!

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A talking dog? That's crazy but I love how you were able to create a story from the knowledge you have of the Border Collie. It is a really intriguing story.

Its amazing how intelligent this breed of dogs are do in real life

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Hey, @audreybits! 👋 We have to thank @mctiller for his prompt, after all 🤣

Now I'm seriously wanting a Border Collie as a pet. I'm the owner of a very lovely poodle, but I think they will get along very well 😍 And maybe the collie will teach her how to speak (?)

I'm very glad that you liked my story!

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Oh yeah, We should!! Thank you, Mctiller...

Poodle is a nice breed as well, they look nice plus, I hear they are quite intelligent as well. Having a Poodle and a Border Collie together will be awesome.

Hahahah! about teaching her how to speak, maybe that's gonna happen in the next story you are gonna write? Because in reality, I doubt that's gonna happen..

Hi bohemian.machine,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit curiesteem.com or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

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Oh, I will, @curie 😍

Thank you very, very much for your support, guys! 😊

We had a border collie growing up for 15 years and i can believe the story. Without talking he was well able to get the point across. Such an intelligent and emotional animal. He actually used to sulk when we did certain things. He sulked with me for weeks after i left for college. I used to be outside every evening after school playing ball for hours. Then i went to college and was only around for a few hours every week. The dog was not happy with that.

You've managed to grow a strange, strange story from this but i can go with it. Like i said, very intelligent dogs so no surprise if the were from another place.

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Thank you for your input, @niallon11! I love when something I write connects with people in such a personal level.

Indeed, I did a little research while I was writing the story and I was surprised as how intelligent Border collies are. Probably the smartest animals in Earth, only second to certain species of dolphins.

I wanted to play with that and, of course, our own perception regarding not only the intelligence of animals, but what can be considered real and what not... Maybe the "structured barking" that Brandon and Elijah noticed was a form of telepathy after all? 😉

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I like it myself, when i am reading a piece and it connects to me in one way or the other. I suppose we all draw from our own life experiences to a certain degree. It's what shapes our thoughts and interests really.

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Indeed, my good friend.

Fiction is more powerful when it connects with your personal experiences and memories. It's a very difficult part of the creative process, but when you actually are able to do that, you feel deeply humbled and grateful. Just as I did when I saw your personal story about your own Border collie 🙏🐶

The most interesting thing about this story is that I felt it's a story that centres on the future at least, the post apocalyptic theme suggests this, I may be wrong in earnest but the suggestions of your 20xx in your date suggests you're writing somewhat about the future, besides the technology seems advanced, talking dogs and all, it's a really beautiful story, it seems simple but pretty amazing the way you structured it.
I'm sure it's post apocalyptic prose fiction. Beautifully written, it's wonderful.

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Thank you, @josediccus! 😍 I'm very glad to read your opinion of my story 😋

You're not wrong at all, my friend. When I left the exact year of each date open, that was just my intention; to write something that could actually happen in the near future.

The nature of Mr. Cookie's speech, though, is a little more... mysterious 🗿

I really enjoyed reading your story @@@bohemian.machine. It is a truth that if somebody will tell you that he comes from other planet some catostrophe happens that you can prevent by chatting to the leaders of the countries you will think that they are mad, in this particular case it comes from a dog, at least physically. I do not know what I would do. That reminds me "K-pax" that was the same situation. Thanks for sharing,

Cheers, from Art-supporting blog @art-venture
Mag-1a.jpg

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The pleasure's all mine, @art-venture 😍 I'm very glad that you have liked my story!

Indeed. But I can kind of understand Dr. Reiner, given that our current leaders aren't exactly people to be trusted, even in menial, everyday matters. Imagine what they could say if a talking dog suddenly appeared out of nowhere 🤣

... that said, someone in Russia didn't give af. Must be the vodka 😅

This story has everything I want about sci-fi stories. The unresolved conflict, skepticism misplaced, dumbfounding revelations and answr hidden right under people's noses. You did a great job writing this piece and you deserve the curie vote that came along with it. Congratulations!

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Thank you, @adamada! 😍 I'm very glad that you liked it!

Words like yours are the best inspiration 😊 I'll keep up the good work! 🙏


'25 megatons' sounds satisfactory. :D

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LOL @lordkingpotato 🤣

Our God-Emperor Vladimir I would say: "seems legit"

Hey @bohemian.machine, this is a very interesting short story. I would have loved to meet Mr. Cookie :) This feels like Homeward Bound meets Men In Black, both funny and mind boggling at the same time.

‘Is this your veterinarian friend, Elijah? The one you said you fully trust?’

This made me smile, imagining Mr. Cookie talk. Sometimes, I do wish animals can talk, to at least let us know what is wrong.

Thank you for sharing this with us :) What inspired you to write this story?

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Greetings, @marblely! 😋 Thank you for your kind words! 🙌

You got me... I think Mr. Cookie is a more polite and well-educated Frank the Dog from Men in Black, indeed 🤣 This story was written for a contest that our good @mctiller hosts every Monday, called "24-hour Short Story Contest", which is in turn inspired by the way Harlan Ellison, one of science-fiction's greatest writers, seemed to create great ideas from thin air in a ver short amount of time.

The premise was "A veterinarian discovers a dog that can talk perfect English", and, as I didn't want to write another part of Dr. Doolittle... I thought about what would happen if our titular dog was at the center of a diplomatic crisis 🤣 Hilarity ensued... and an atomic bomb exploded as well (?)

I'm very glad that you liked my story. Hope to see you around in future posts as well 😁

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Hey @bohemian.machine, I've followed you :)
Ah thank you for sharing the background of the contest, it helped to tie the strings together :)

I think Mr. Cookie is a more polite and well-educated Frank the Dog from Men in Black, indeed

Hehe yes for sure. Mr. Cookie is such a gentle'dog'. I was imagining a well mannered doggie agent when I read through your story - the 007 kind :D It is amazing how you thought out the story.

Cheers for the Sunday :)

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That was pretty good, I was basically hooked when the dog talked. rather unexpected turn of events around every corner. hmmm. telepathic perhaps, since the recordings were all of barking. Then the Russians just nuke them, Now what's going to happen when the bugs are really like cockroaches and survive and mutate to something even worse... lol
lol, at least cookie didn't come from Canis Major or Sirius the dog star, that would have been some sirius puns.

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LOL @coinsandchains 🤣😂🤣😂🤣

Russians survived to Napoleon, Hitler and communism (somewhat)... Why wouldn't they survive an invasion from giant cockroaches from outer space (?)

Those puns made my day, good sir. Thanks for your reading! Hope to see you around ❤

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Oh, I'm sure they would survive, as long as it was not an American made film....
I was just thinking that humans in general have a way of making our problems worse while we are trying to fix them. Like they are 6 foot cockroaches before we nuke them, then 50 foot cockroaches after... lol.

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