Advertisement
Remove

A note from Skwrepb

Thank you so much for giving Dog at the End of the World a chance. I primarily work on another project, but right now I need something lighthearted and easy for a few weeks. I plan to alternate which story I work on so my mind stays fresher for my more serious work. DATE is going to be a silly, lighthearted romp through the apocolypse, hopefully.

The squirrel was furious as it chittered down at Lucky. “Away tree. Away beast!”

The dog was sitting calmly below the tree. He had gained the skill to understand the squirrel almost right away, but that didn’t mean he understood the squirrel. “My tree.” He answered with a chittering bark.

“Your tree?” The grey squirrel was furious, sputtering as he bounded down to a closer branch. “Trees for squirrels, birds. No for dog. Dog no climb.”

Lucky tilted his head, his ruined ear flopping loosely. “Not wrong.” He admitted after a long moment of silence. “No more bark.”

“What want?” The squirrel was on the lowest branch now, studying the multicolored dog with wary interest.

“Peace.” The dog decided. “Bad things come.”

“Bad things? Bad for dog or bad for squirrel?”

“Don’t know. Bad for everything maybe.”

**DA-DING! Language Sciuridae improved to Basic!**

**DA-DING! Conditions met, Polyglot trait acquired!**

“What do you mean, everything?”

“I saw grass words, they said the end was coming.”

The squirrel’s bushy tail trembled. “End?”

“End.” He confirmed. “Three days. I have to prepare.”

“Dog help Quick in the End, Quick help dog prepare?”

“How will squirrel help?”

“We’re good at preparing, dog.”

“I need to learn skills. What can you teach?”

“I can teach foraging, sneaking. Maybe more.”

“You teach me, I help you.” Lucky said with a nod.

**DA-DAH! You have acquired the General Skill - Negotiation at level 1!**

As the sun crept lower, Lucky trained with the squirrel, frolicking around the back yard, trying to sneak up on the wary little creature. With Quick’s help, he learned what leaves, roots, and nuts in the yard were safe to eat and that the red berries on the bushes definitely weren’t. By the time he heard the bus pull up out front, both he and the grey squirrel were panting and more than ready for a break.

“Thank you, Quick.” He called over his shoulder as he headed for the doggy door into the kitchen. “Stay close for the next few days, so I don’t miss you when it happens.”

“We should practice more tomorrow.” The squirrel called as the dog’s curling tail disappeared into the house.

By the time the front door opened, Lucky was there, his entire body wagging with his tail. Excited whines escaped him as she walked in. She dropped her bag and crouched, holding her arms out. Lucky immediately wriggled his way into her arms, nuzzling at her neck and wagging his entire back end gleefully. Before today, her words had always been nonsense to him. It was her tone that was important, the love in it was absolutely obvious.

Even understanding them, they were nonsensical. Just words, it was all about the love in her voice. She scratched behind his ears and ruffled up his fur for a long moment. “Okay, okay, buddy. Okay. Sit.”

Immediately, Lucky plopped his butt on the ground and went still. “Good boy!” She praised. “Down.”

“Good boy!” She praised again when he complied. The girl kicked off her shoes and with one last ruffle of his fur, thundered up the stairs. Lucky waited eagerly next to the door. It was only a couple of minutes before she was jogging back down the stairs. Her auburn hair was caught back in a long ponytail that flowed down her back. She wore a black sports bra, and a loose pair of men’s gym shorts. Lucky could barely keep himself still as she tied on her running shoes, he was trembling by the time she put her hand on the doorknob. “Alright, Luckster, let’s go.”

Those two words he had been waiting for were uttered as she opened the door and Lucky was off like a shot. He vaulted down the stairs and ran a rapid circle around the front lawn, barking joyously.

“Lucky, hush.” She said as she pulled the door closed behind her. “I know you’re excited, but you know better than to bark on a run.”

For the first time in his life, everything she was saying made sense. He stopped running around and tilted his head thoughtfully as he watched her trot down the stairs. She hesitated on the bottom step, her green eyes meeting his. There was something in her searching look that he didn’t quite understand, but she just shook her head and stepped off and jogged toward the sidewalk. Lucky fell into step beside her and they began their daily run through town.

The girl wasn’t one to slow down or take an easy route. A good portion at the start of the run was uphill and the three mile loop ended with another steep uphill climb back to the house. They both headed into the kitchen when they got back to drink water before she headed upstairs and he headed outside. She would shower before her dad came home from work and they would all eat dinner together. He had two more days to prepare and he wasn’t sure the best way to go about it. If only he could talk to Girl, maybe she would be able to help him.

 

As dusk fell, long after dinner, Lucky sat on the back porch listening to the Dark Bark. He wasn’t allowed to participate, Girl didn’t like it when he barked too much outside. Lobo, true to his word, asked about the grass-words, but none of the other dogs had seen any such thing. It would be hours before the Dark Bark spread to all corners of the city and answers came from further away. Quick, the squirrel from earlier, bounded across the roof and onto the branches of the big tree.

“Hey, hey! Lucky, hey!”

The dog’s ears twitched and he turned to look up at the squirrel. “What do you need, Quick?”

The squirrel bounded down the tree as he spoke. “A car hit a tree a street over and the tree fell. There’s a nest of squirrels in the tree and the kits haven’t opened their eyes yet. Can you move them before a predator gets them?”

Lucky glanced at the house behind him as he got to his feet, he knew this wasn’t a smart idea. His people were both home and the lights were still on. They would probably notice his absence. Despite that, he took a running leap over the gate.

**DA-DING! You have acquired the trait Athletic!**

The squirrel landed lightly on his back as he headed for the sidewalk. “Turn left at the corner.” He clung tightly to the long hairs that made a sort of mane around Lucky’s neck.

By the time he had gone a block past the corner at a full gallop, he could see the downed tree. There was an ambulance coming, Lucky could hear the siren from miles away. The person that had hit the tree was still in the car and Lucky could hear her moaning.

“Go to the kits, Quick. I’ll be right there.” The squirrel leapt off of Lucky’s back and bounded off down the tree trunk.

The dog, on the other hand, loped over to the side of the car and sniffed at the open window. He put his paws up and nuzzled at the woman. She wasn’t bleeding heavily, but she was unconscious. Her breathing was regular and the ambulance was closing in. Lucky left her and trotted along the trunk of the tree toward where Quick was waiting. There were three kits curled in the nest. They barely had fur and their eyes were still closed. Lucky put his nose right in the nest and snuffled at the tiny kits.

“Can they hold to fur?” He asked.

Quick sat up on his hind legs and cocked his head to the side. “Maybe.” He shrugged. “They’re young yet, but I can help. Can you stand really still while I get them up on your back?”

“Yes.” He shook his fur out first, before squaring up to stand still. “Where is their mother?”

“The old woman tried not to hit her.” Quick said as he hopped into the nest and picked up the first of the little ones.

“She didn’t make it, did she?” Lucky asked.

There was silence as Quick scampered up Lucky’s flank and settled the first kit into the thick fur on his back. “She didn’t.” He said simply.

“So where are we taking them?”

“Humans will help them, sometimes. So I was hoping you could take them to your person.”

“Girl will help them, for sure. She’s the best.” His tail wagged as he waited for the squirrel to finish ferrying the kits up onto his back.

“Walk carefully, Lucky.”

“I will.” He promised as he padded back toward home. He was across the street by the time the ambulance drove up. The red and blue lights flashed across his multicolored fur. Quick was a dark spot curled around the kits on his back.

“I’m sure Girl will take care of the kits.”

“I hope so. They deserve a chance.”

Lucky stayed silent the rest of the short walk as he thought about the End that the grass-words had promised. Would saving these kits even matter when that came? Instead of going around to the back yard and knowing he’d get in more than a little trouble for leaving the yard in the first place, he carefully climbed the front steps and pawed at the door, whining. When that didn’t work, he barked once, startling Quick and sending the older squirrel bounding off his back.

The girl came to the door as soon as he barked and opened it widely. “Lucky?” She sounded puzzled. “How did you get loose?”

Lucky walked carefully into the foyer of the house, not giving Girl his usual greeting.

“What do you have there, boy?” She asked as he walked into the light. “Luckster? Are those…” She leaned closer and then shouted over her shoulder. “Dad! Lucky has baby squirrels!”

“Squirrels?” The Man’s deep voice sounded from the living room, calling over the sound of the television. “What do you mean he has squirrels?”

“He’s got baby squirrels on his back. Should we call animal control?”

“No. I’ve got a number somewhere here for a wildlife rescue. They’re better able to handle things like this.”

As soon as Girl scooped the three tiny bundles off his back, the voice in his head spoke again.

**DA-DING! You have gained the trait Squirrelfriend!**

Rescuing the squirrels ended up earning Lucky a nice treat and some extra scratches for his efforts. All in all, he thought to himself, a very good day. He still wasn’t quite sure what the grass-words expected him to do in preparation for the end, but for a single day, he thought he’d done quite well.

After the rescue had picked up the squirrel kits and well after Girl should have already been in bed, Lucky thought over the day's preparations. He’d learned four whole languages and gotten a trait. He had no idea what the trait [Polyglot] meant, but he thought it might have something to do with learning so many languages.

Even as he thought about the skill, a green box popped into view in front of him.

[Polyglot]

You have a strong ear for languages and have earned a total of six fluency ranks in a single day.

As a reward for your diligence, languages come more easily to you. You understand and can speak all languages with pidgin fluency.

Now that is interesting, Lucky thought as he settled in at the foot of Girl’s bed. Does that mean I can talk to Girl? Should I try? He chuffed out a breath and laid his head on his paws. Not yet. I have two more days before this “End.” I’ll talk to her soon, but not yet.

He tried to remember what other skills he had learned, but he yawned widely. It had been a very busy day and he was exhausted. Perhaps in the morning after Girl was off to school he could do more serious thinking about the skills and abilities he was learning. For now, his girl was safe for another few days and he had a lot of work to do in the morning. He yawned again and his blue eyes slipped closed.

Advertisement

Support "The Dog at the End of the World"

About the author

Skwrepb

  • Iowa

Bio: Hi! My name is Skwrepb (pronounced Jen, I swear). I'm a stay at home mother of three with not enough time on my hands. I've been writing since I could hold a pen and I have so many stories to tell!
I'm an avid reader and The Wandering Inn is what brought me to Royal Road. I have been devouring stories here ever since.

Achievements
Comments(30)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In