The day a dog fell from the sky
By Mark A. King
Sputnik 2. November 3, 1957
Laika, has had many names. Kudryavka is was one, but there were others. She is young, yet has already lived two lives.
Tightly restrained by chains, she can barely move in the container. She is unaware that this vessel will become an oven, freezer and eventual coffin.
Partially shaved fur, wires and sensors, make her look like a fabric Russian doll, crudely stitched and roughly patched. Her food, jellified chemicals, lightweight and sterile, does not have flavour – she won’t live long enough to notice.
During take-off, the rocket vibrates, and she shakes in fear. Gravitational forces tug at her…then release. She wants to hide. She barks and whimpers. Her frantic digging is futile. She is in pain. The heat is unbearable.
Outside, the vacuum competes with death for coldness, and the blackness is infinite.
She is the fate of a nation.
Elsewhere. November 3, 1957
“Are you happy with this?”
“No, why would I be?”
“We should intervene.”
“No, it would look…odd…there might be questions.”
“I thought you said they were ready, that this was their first step to transcendence.”
“It might be, all species make mistakes along the way, but yes, it’s not a great start.”
“We could still do it…I mean who would ever know? They’re not expecting her back. “
“True. The ship will burn up, so there won’t be any questions. “
“What do we do with the people who did this?”
“You know the rules, we can’t touch them.”
“How’s America doing?”
“How about a little nudge in the right direction, you know, with the moon thing?”
“What about Laika?”
“She’s cold, I’ll send her somewhere warm.”
Guanajuato, Mexico. November 3, 1957
It is the annual festival; they have decided this year that it is the festival of the dog.
In the evening, the stones radiate the heat of the slumbering sun. Under the flickering torches, the dogs run freely through the narrow cobbled streets.
They’re dressed in hats, sunglasses and capes. The majestic domes and spires cast envious looks at them, for they are adored and worshiped, they are gods.
I enjoyed this one much more than the other #FlashDog story. I guess I had a much better emotional connection with the main character. Clearly, I have used creative licence with the events (it is fiction, after all). Hopefully, I have paid some form of homage to brave Laika.
The hardest part of this was the editing and the structure. Yes, I know you shouldn’t have more than one scene in a flash fiction. Yes, the structure is not conventional. Yes, this week we have a judge who loves grammar so much that it scared me and it almost put me off submitting. However, I had a story to tell and wanted to write it in a certain way. In life, I like to hide in the background and conform, however, in writing, I’m starting to become a more expressive and to tell this tale another way would have frustrated me.
I struggled with the word count. Several times I had about eight words to remove. Would have been easy to remove the dates, but each time I tried it just looked odd.
Awaiting results – many good stories already in, many more to come I’m sure.
* Update 27/08/14 : I’m delighted to say that I got 2nd place. Congratulations to Karl A. Russell on winning with a brilliant story. I’m over the moon with the news as this was a very busy week in the competition and having read every entry most were of the very highest standard (if you haven’t read them already, please do, you won’t be disappointed).
Kind judge comments below:
“There is one runner up and one winner this week. I liked both of these stories because they were different; they weren’t something I expected.
Runner up: The Day A Dog Fell From The Sky: Mark A. King
This story made me sad, but then it made me happy. The description of Laika in the first part was pretty visceral and heart rending. But then… aliens! Or the Space Illuminati. Either way, thumbs up.”