Spot, the dog - A story
Updated: Jan 3
As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently took part in a two-week international writing competition. Each day the entrants had to write a short story, prompted by a phrase or idea that was provided to them that morning.
One day, the prompt was the following: 'We are surrounded by ordinary and familiar items and objects in our house. Find an item or object inside your house, and write a story about it.'
The story had to be over 3,000 characters, including spaces. Here is the story I submitted.
Spot, the dog
On the living room wall hangs a screen print of a dog reading a newspaper. I call him Spot. Spot, the dog. He’s so easy to look after – he never barks, he never eats. He sits there being cute, and looking intelligent.
I like Spot.
But one night I found that he was bored.
I’d fallen asleep on the couch, and there he was at my side, pawing gently at my arm. I rolled over and my hand fell on his furry head.
Drowsily, I said, ‘What are YOU doing here?’
‘Take me to Canis Major. Please?’
‘Canis Major?’ I was still half asleep.
‘Yes, in the Milky Way.’
‘Oh,’ I said, gradually waking up.
Spot continued, ‘The interstellar travel corridor is open tonight. It HAS to be tonight.’
‘The corridor. The gravity wells are lining up right now – you know, how the gravity of the stars pulls you along.’
I was still a bit dazed. I hadn’t fully woken up, but something was indeed odd. Then I realised what it was. Spot had escaped.
‘How did you get out?’ I said.
‘Oh, easy. I get out every night. I’m bored with that stupid article I read all the time. Sometimes I leave the house. But usually I read what you write during the day.’
‘What I write? On my computer?’
He rolled his eyes. ‘Where else? On a slate? On a piece of papyrus? Yes, on your computer.’
‘But . . .’
‘And today wasn’t your best day. That story about the rag dolls. Weird. A Scotty dog with a bulldog head. Dumb.’
Was this really happening to me? A DOG? Telling me I couldn’t WRITE?
He winked at me conspiratorially and added, ‘Canis Major – now THERE’S a story!’ He grabbed my cuff with his mouth and pulled at my wrist.
I wasn’t so sure I liked Spot any more. He was becoming quite pushy.
But the Milky Way, GOLLY, now wouldn’t THAT be something to tell my grandchildren . . .
Spot sensed my vacillation. ‘Stand here, on the carpet,’ he said.
I stood up and whoosh! We were flying over the city. The moon reflected in the winding river, the stars above. Then Spot said, ‘Hang on to my collar. Hold on to the edge of the carpet with your other hand. Delta-v increase coming up.’
‘Delta-v propulsion. To push through the Earth’s gravitational field. Don’t you know ANYTHING?’ he said.
And the carpet almost whisked itself away from beneath us.
I hung on tight, eyes closed, and when I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer, we slowed down.
Together we floated through the ether, stars twinkling all around us, Canis Major directly ahead of us. Each star we approached dragged us forward with its gravity, then released us to the next star. ‘It’s called “gravity assist”,’ said Spot, as though he could read my mind.
The Canis Major constellation reared up ahead of us, and Spot barked with delight. In response, a low growling noise emanated from Canis’ throat, and a cloud of comets flew from its mouth. Spot was delirious with happiness.
Just then I fell off the carpet and plummeted, falling between stars, flying around black holes, and choking on nebulae. Suddenly I was flung back into the Solar System. Spot hurtled along behind me on the magic carpet, barking, ‘Wait for me!’
But I couldn’t stop. I flew between Saturn's rings, almost smashed into Jupiter, overtook the Earth, and nearly reached Venus before the Earth’s gravity pulled me back.
The next morning I woke up yawning and strolled to the kitchen. My dreams were sure becoming interesting since I started to take that pain-reducing medication. I walked past the poster of Spot reading the newspaper.
I could have sworn he winked at me.
Postscript: The screen print that inspired this story is by the Buenos Aires graffiti art collective Run Don't Walk. The collective has kindly allowed me to use the image. They are featured here.