Advertisement
Remove

A note from Skwrepb

Slightly shorter chapter today, I'm hoping to get an extra one out here soon, but this felt like the right place to stop it.

The people spent almost the entire rest of the day discussing the details of their fledgling community. The cats did who knows what, but the dogs? The dogs didn’t need to settle the details of their Pack. Such things were as much a part of canine instincts as checking the p-mails. Calypso and Sugar entertained the children until well after dinner when parents finally collected them and headed to bed. The rest of the dogs ran patrols around the territory, using all their senses to seek threats and disturbances.

Lucky was patrolling early in the morning with Allegro, the little poodle keeping gamely up with his longer stride. She was panting, but not complaining at the pace. “I’ve been reading the words. Mine words are the color of Big Daddy’s favorite shirt and the flowers he called forget-me-nots.” There was a lolling smile on her muzzle, but the expression didn’t reach her ears. The ears spoke to her loss.

The speech of dogs was so much more than sound. It was posture, it was ears, it was tone and pitch. Lucky’s voice was soft and slow, his posture rounded as he jogged. It was a comforting hug of expression. “What do the words say?”

“That I am [Small But Mighty] and I have a [Piercing Bite].” The slow swish of her tail expressed gratitude. “We’re not to tell our attributes? Just skills and traits right?”

“Whatever you are comfortable with, Allegro.” Lucky’s tail lifted to curl over his back, encouragingly. “Have the words offered you a class yet?”

Her ears twitched, uncertain. “No. Should they have?”

Lucky’s ears and tail drooped, mirroring her uncertainty. “I’m not sure. I wasn’t offered a class until the house fell down.”

“There’s time yet for me then. I’ve gotten a lot of skill ups. Especially to my [Endurance].” She was panting, but her breath was still coming fairly easily. “Apparently keeping up with all you longer legged dogs is good for that.”

Lucky panted a canine laugh and flicked his ears forward, glancing down at her from the corner of his eye as he stepped up his pace to a loping trot. The little poodle gamely quickened her stride.

 

It was just before dawn when Lucky returned from his last patrol. It was a cool morning for the beginning part of summer, but the big multicolored dog would swear he could smell the coming heat. He stood on the porch, looking toward the road and taking deep testing breaths of the cool air. The russet fox was the only other creature stirring as the first rays of sunlight sliced into the darkness.

“Good morning, Ro.” He yipped to the fox.

“Mornin’, Lucky.” She yipped back, changing direction to trot up to the base of the stairs. “An’ a good morning it’s shaping up to be, so it is.”

“Oh?” Lucky tilted his head to one side.

“Of course, of course. Good morning for rats and rabbits, so it is.” A vulpine smile shaped her face. “Perhaps not so good for them, but good for me, yes?”

“Yes.” Lucky’s mouth opened in a grin. “Have you settled in nicely?”

“That I have, that I have. I’m grateful to you and yours for the welcome. I saw your people arguing most of the afternoon yesterday. Everything alright?” She glanced over her shoulder toward the hollow behind the house where she had left her kit.

“Everything’s fine. They’re discussing their leadership.” He stepped down the porch stairs to join her.

“I see, I see.” She turned and began walking toward her den, the big dog at her side. “Do you know what they’ve decided?”

Lucky’s tail waved uncertainty. “A council they said.” He chuffed out a breath. “How does that make sense? Too many leaders, if you ask me. They want me to be part of the council to help with the dogs.”

“Oh they do, do they? And me for the foxes then?” Her eyes danced as she looked over at him.

“I could ask. I’m sure your presence would put some of the more stick-in-the-mud types right off their kibble.”

Lucky could almost smell the mischief rolling off the little fox. “If you think shaking them up will help you, I’ll join the council. I will, I will.”

“Thanks for the offer, Ro. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“It’s going to be a hot day today. Stay safe.”

“You, too.”

The little fox broke away from Lucky and darted toward her den. Lucky veered away and headed toward the road. He stopped on the verge of the highway and looked toward town. The hovercraft had gone so many hours ago. Surely something would be coming for them soon. With the true breaking of dawn, the dooryard became a bustle of activity. The people were a bustle of activity, the dogs made their patrols, the cats slept in the bunkhouse, but Lucky stayed by the highway, his gaze pinned down that winding stretch of road.

 

It was a couple of hours later when Girl finally came to him. He hadn’t moved. “You okay, Luckster?” She asked. His ears flicked toward her, but his eyes didn’t move.

“Still not, really.” He answered after a long moment. She sat down next to him and wrapped her arm around him. He leaned into her, letting himself relax for just a moment.

“Are you ready to talk about it? We have time.” She laid her head against his and waited.

He was silent for a long while, trying to order his thoughts. “There’s such a clear line.” He began. “Before and after. It’s like one moment I was a dog and the next, I was something else. When the system initialized for everyone, I got ten points for all of my attributes.”

“Ten?”

Lucky’s ears twitched. “Ten points. It was drastic and it hurt. I think it was the physical attributes that hurt, but the mental ones are what changed everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“My Intelligence and Wisdom were both five or less. Adding ten points to that… It was drastic. I think the hard part is knowing what I was before.”

Girl was caught speechless. She wasn’t certain what to say, much less how to say it.

“A couple of days ago, despite the grass-words telling me to prepare for the end, I lived an easy life. I ate, I played, I slept, and I watched out for you. I don’t even think I knew that life outside my little sphere really existed. Then suddenly, I was on the floor in the living room and my mind was filled with so many questions. There were so many things I suddenly just knew. I understood math. Math, Girl.” His eyes closed for a single second and he heaved a heavy sigh. “Isobel.”

The arm she had around him tightened. “I’ll always be your Girl, Lucky. You don’t have to call me Isobel.”

“It’s your name though.” He didn’t turn to look at her, but his eyes were open again. “I need to learn the names of the people.”

“You don’t have to worry about that, Lucky. Just learn the council and I worry about everybody else’s names.”

“It’s nice of you to offer, but what kind of leader would I be if I didn’t at least try?”

He felt her shoulder shrug against him. “You are still a dog, Lucky. People will understand if you don’t know their names.”

“They question why they should listen to a dog. Perhaps the less I seem like a dog, the less they will question? I worry for the future, you know. What will happen to us? What’s coming for us? How will the Pack protect the Flock?”

He could hear the smile in her voice. It was a small one, but it was there. “Your Flock is building walls and a couple of watchtower thingies. We’re doin’ our best to help you.”

“I’m anxious.” He admitted. “I’m worried.” He chuffed out a breath. “I worried about things before sometimes. Simple things that impacted me directly. Now I worry about weird things that could happen, but might never.”

“Is there anything I can do to help you?”

“I don’t think so, Gir-Isobel.”

“I’ll be right here whenever you need me, Lucky. I promise you that.”

Lucky’s tail started to wag slowly from one extreme to another. “And I’m here for you, always.”

Advertisement
A note from Skwrepb

Thank you so much to Kieran Pierce for the absolutely wonderful cover.

Please take a moment to rate or review! For those of you that have, thank you very much! I've been enjoying the heck out of writing this story and I'm grateful that you are enjoying reading it.

If you want to get a better idea of Lucky's looks, check the spoiler.

Lucky is based on three dogs that I've loved throughout my lifetime.

His coloration comes from Patches, an Australian Shepherd.

His eyes, ears, and tail come from Stormy, a siberian husky/german shepherd mix. (Though one of his ears has fallen and looks like Patches'.)

The final dog, Prince, I don't have a photo of because it was a very long time ago, but he was a Great Pyrenees. I found a good picture on this site . I don't own the image, but here's where Lucky gets his fluffy coat and large size.

Large white dog on a snowy field.

 


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(25)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In