01 Feb Tales from The Dogscape
I awaken. I don’t know it at the moment, but this day marks my fourth straight year of existing in the dogscape. I push myself up from the carpet of writhing, twitching dogflesh beneath me and rise to my feet, stretching in the morning sun. It took me a while to learn to balance on the layer of solid dogs that now blankets every inch of solid ground, but nowadays I can walk and run as easily and as fast as I ever did on soil or concrete. Perhaps faster…
This was a city once, I think, though which one I can’t remember. I only owe my guess to the massive pillars of dogs jutting into the sky, perhaps ancient buildings now completely filled and overgrown by canine biomatter. I climbed one once, sinking my fingers and toes deep into the dogwall to gain purchase, and after hours and hours of climbing was rewarded with an incredible vista – fur and eyes, panting tongues and wagging tails, hugging the contours of the once-barren land and stretching in a single aeomebic mass farther than the eye can see.
Now I don’t do that, though. Now I merely go about my day. I hike to the Gardens, where the dogplants sprout up in bizarre shapes from the floor of the dogscape, and reach up to pluck the fetal puppyfruits right off the wagging, energetic branches. I bite into the succulent flesh, the juices dribbling down my chin and dripping down to be reabsorbed by the groundflesh, and revel in the savory taste. I’m thirsty, so I range until I find one of the Mothermounds, and there I suckle at a teatpatch until I’ve had my fill of milk. Sometimes I see other humans around me, as well-adapted to the dogscape as I am, but I barely acknowledge them, say nothing. What, after all, is there to say? The world is different now – what meaning would our old words have?
Free-ranging dogs are becoming rarer and rarer to see now, and those I do see seem as lost, as passive as I am. They too graze on the dogplants, step carefully over the undulating, bleeding dogfloor, dimly acknowledge myself and one another. In the distant sky, and on the far horizon, I sometimes see massive forms sail or crawl or undulate, and I wonder if in this new world normal, singular, ambulatory dogs have become as obsolete as I am.
I dug down once. Down beneath the dogs. Beneath the hair and the ears and the barking. It was hard, and took a lot of planning – I had to destroy one of the dogtrees with my hands, rip out the twisted, yards-long communal spines that served them as branches and lash them together with tendons and skin. But soon I had tools – pitchforks, spears, shovels. I picked a spot where the dogfloor seemed shallower and set to work.
The blood started spurting when my spear first broke the surface, and didn’t stop for hours and hours and hours. I was drenched in gore and viscera, covered in flecks of bone and meat and brain. but I learned to ignore the sickening squelching sounds, ward off the smell, and just kept going deeper and deeper, spearing and levering out dogs of stranger and stranger size and build, dogs with two heads, dogs with human hands, dogs with writhing tentacles where their back legs should be.
Eventually I came to the end of the dogs. Or perhaps the beginning of whatever lies beyond dogs. An expanse of multicolored, patchwork fur that extended as far as I could dig in any direction. I could pierce it with great difficulty but it barely bled, and try as I might I could only barely peel the skin away, revealing a layer of striated greyish muscle beneath. It started to tremble as I watched it, shaking the very dogmatter around me, and I realized that the dogscape was beginning to regenerate itself, close in over me, seal me in – so I fled, climbing back up into the light.
The stream trickled warmly past the black leathery edges of the puppy mouth stream. The saliva waters churned as they flowed from the bed of the stream lined with the ever-lapping tongues of eager greeting puppies.
To feel a rock on the shore is to find sharp milk teeth of weened dogs, cast to the tufts of mange weeds growing into spits and bank.
The head of the stream is split by a single mound of golden fur. Like an upholstered boulder set with a large golden eye that swerves to see passing visitors. The waters will bubble and froth should the eye see you. The tongues lapping nervous loving greetings with gurgled yips.
The Dogscape. That’s what we call it. Us humans that banded together, I mean. We sit around campfires and cook the whelps we collect from the dogtrees. The only flammable material we have is the acrid fur that grows everywhere. It offends all senses, but soon the meal is prepared. The only food sources are the dogtrees and the mothermounds. Some foolish enough dig for meat. Though the reward is great, many don’t come back, for the dogflesh regrows above them, trapping them inside the moist ground. Primitive tools are forged from bones and leather, such as shovels and knives and clothes. I have lived here for as long as I can remember. There are faint shimmers of the time before the Dogflesh, but what use is there dwelling on the past when it cannot fill our stomachs in the present? I am our tribe’s scribe. My name is Dok. I used to have a real name, but it escapes my memory. I record all of our findings and knowledge in my leather pages, using dog blood as ink. There were times when there were more of us. The tribe started with as many as sixty people. Now, our numbers are as few as twenty. Our leader is Keef. He instructs us to find food, build shelter, and bring fire. He abuses his power, taking five wives and eating more than his share of the food, but those who speak against him meet death in the night. It is hellish, but there is no other choice. Without guidance, we will die out here, so we must remain under his leadership.
It has been two days since my last writing. I am lucky that Keef cannot read, for if he had seen my statements about him, I would be dead. Yesterday, one of our tribe members, Kot, was killed by accidentally stepping into one of the open dogmouths. His screams of pain as it chewed forced me to crush his skull with a shovel, killing him instantly. The bastard Keef claimed Kot’s food ration as his own. I can sense the others are beginning to tire of Keef’s position of power as well. Nobody spoke a word at that night’s feast. I will not sleep well tonight, hearing Kot’s screams in my nightmares.
I fear for my life. Fek was killed in front of all of us by Keef today. He refused to continue digging for meat, so the monster beat him to death with his bare hands as a sign that he would not tolerate a refusal to work. I cannot stand for this much longer. Fek was not even an adult; he could not have been more than seventeen human years. This brings our numbers down to eighteen. There is Keef, his five wives, me, and the remaining 11 diggers and gatherers. The others whisper to me in secret that I should be the leader instead. I guess they think I have all the answers because I am the scribe. Only time will tell.
I was awoken at the crack of dawn by one of the diggers, Gar specifically. He told me that tonight would be the night. The others had a plan. They want me to announce that I am the new leader during the feast. When he is distracted with rage, they intend to kill him from behind. I tell Gar that I accept his plan, and will assist them tonight. What have I gotten myself into?
Damn them all. I told Keef I planned to replace him. He arose, filled with rage. I waited for the blow to strike him. It never hit Keef; instead it hit me. Gar was Keef’s spy all along. They dragged me far away from the Gardens, and tied me to a barren dogtree. He said that a quick death would not befit me, and I will waste away under the deathly sun. I can just barely reach my journal from here. I suppose this is the end of me.
When the sun was highest in the sky, the heat became unbearable. I saw figures on the horizon. They were not human; they were the hounds that come to eat what the humans leave behind. I thought they were going to eat me. Instead, they went for the blood-soaked meatropes that held me in place. I was free. I kneeled down to the hounds, and looked deep in its eyes. I told them I knew where they could fill their bellies to the brim. It barked once in what I assume was confirmation. I stood up, and we set off to feast.
When we reached the settlement, it was amidst their feast. I approached, death in my gaze. Keef was shocked and angry. The diggers and gatherers were quick to his defense; I guess he bribed them. I whistled, and the hounds slinked through the fur to my side. We struck like a lightning bolt. My fist smashed into Keef’s face just as my hounds pounced upon his closest guards. Though I was physically weak, I was quite fast. I stole a shovel and quickly buried it into Keef’s bloat while he was disoriented. The smell was sickening, as I expected from a man like him. The hounds made quick work of the rest. I helped, of course. None were spared. I made sure I had my vengeance upon Gar. The hounds were quite full by the end. I took my time and buried each corpse (or what was left of them). I leave this book upon their graves in the hopes that someone who can understand it finds it. If you do, take heed of these words. The Dogscape knows all, and is strict but fair. She provides justice where justice is due.
I had a dog right after the dogscape happened. His name was Carl, he always followed me around. When I was almost dead from starving, he got me dogfruits. When I was dying of thirst, he held milk in his mouth and got it to me. One day his foot got stuck in a mouth and I couldn’t get him out so I watched while it swallowed him.
A few years later when I went back, Carl was right there but he was stretched out and I went to pet him, except it wasn’t him and he bit me and wouldn’t let go.
I wonder if people can be part of the dogscape too?
I miss Carl.
All is one in the new truth. The dogmother is vast beyond imagining, and requires many to be kept comfortable and clean. We chosen do not go unrewarded, however. In her vast wisdom, the matriarch gives all we need. We sup from her vast teat, a hearty meal unlike any other. It invigorates, and nourishes us canistodians, and gives us more than we could have ever wished. The time soon approaches though to find new workers. The metamorphosis is upon many of us, and soon we will join with the glory of the dogmound. We are so different from the others, as they shuffle about down among the foetI groves. Many of us have a thick coat already, and old Laurence has already begun to walk on all fours. Soon we will shed our mortal selves, and be part of the dogmother… Our…mother…
“I think we knew the war had been lost the day the General committed suicide. The masses of flesh and fur just spread, like waves across the cities. We found out that whatever it was, it was drinking the oceans and eating anything it came across. Airstrikes, tanks, bombs, it only slowed it down! We were living on borrowed time. It was…unstoppable. I don’t think it was until later that we noticed all the dogs were gone. And then at night, the howling…It was just too much.” The former soldier’s face streamed with involuntary tears as he remembered the events. He sat there, wallowing in his own emotions, telling his story to a skeleton he found. “My unit…completely wiped out…I saw those tentacles, and those mouths…they tore them to shreds. I ran away, even when they called for help…IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!” The dogtree shifted slightly. The many eyes growing around directed their gaze towards the psychopathic man. “YOU RUINED EVERYTHING! YOU KILLED MY FRIENDS, MY FAMILY, GODDAMN EVERYONE!” He ran and stabbed one of the eyes with a bone fragment. A howling noise emerged and a nearby dogtree swatted him several yards. He broke a few ribs when he hit the “ground”. He coughed a bit of blood, but got back up and charged again. This time he ran towards one of the open mouths around and kicked several of its teeth out. It bit his foot in response, costing him a toe or two. He was so full of adrenaline he was incapable of registering any kind of pain.
He beat and tore and bit at the flesh with his bare hands until he was knee deep in blood and gore. One of the tubes he tore spilled some sort of digestive fluid all over him. It burned, but he had to go on. He dug and dug with his bare hands until the ground started to close above him. He kept digging until he found them- the heart and brain. He laughed at his fortune of finding both of them so close to each other. He jammed his hands deep into grey matter, disturbing the contents and slowly losing oxygen in his tunnel of meat. He gasped, and clawed at the heart. Tearing it out of place, he collapsed and blacked out. He awoke to many tentacles burying themselves in his body. One hit his spinal cord, and fused with his brainstem. A flood of thought hit him all at once, as he suddenly became one with the Dogscape. More tentacles connected themselves to his vital organs, as he became assimilated. He saw through every eye in the lands, and he felt every single nerve on the planet. The healing factor continued tearing him apart, but adding new pathways and connections. It wasn’t long until he was entirely consumed. His memories faded away as his brain was reorganized into replacing the one he had destroyed.
It’s been three years and two weeks now since I met another human being. I know because I’ve cut a small notch in my left leg for every day, one in my left arm for every week, and one in my right arm for every year. Admittedly not the most effective way of keeping track of time, but when I started, I figured I’d be dead or this would be over before it really mattered.
Like I said I haven’t met any other people for a while but I figured I would write this anyways just in case as a warning to others that might be out there.
I ran into something terrible today. Well, the whole dogscape is terrible but I mean MORE terrible. I think even among the dogscape it’s some sort of crazy abomination, since the feral dogs and the ground-mouths didn’t seem too fond of it either. And that screaming is not something I ever hope to hear again. But that’s not the beginning. I’m sorry about this, the blood I’m using doesn’t really come off the paper and I can’t waste any by throwing it away and not even thinking about talking to other people for years has made me sort of bad at thinking in a straight line. But I’ll try. Let me just start over at the beginning.
The day started normally. It was my weekly gathering day so I left my tent (by the way I left the tent at the foot of the pillar of dogs in the direction of the setting sun if you want it but you probably won’t because the skin has probably gone bad by now) to collect the dogfruits I would need for the week and to fill a bag or two with milk. But when I got to the place where there should have been teats there was just a bloody mess where someone had dug deep into the flesh of the dogscape. I didn’t really think much of it at first just that I would need to go looking for a new source of milk.
Then I saw it.
I thought it was another person at first. If I had stopped to really look first I wouldn’t have had any problems and I wouldn’t be writing this right now I guess. I started shouting to get its attention and I did get its attention because it turned to me and then I realized that I had made a huge mistake.
Thinking back the really long arms and the twisty body probably should have been my first clue. But I didn’t really see that anything was wrong until it turned towards me and I saw what I thought was a head was just a featureless lump of flesh. Its arms unfolded outwards each arm ending in two canine legs and the human face on its chest opened its mouth and started screaming. I figured it was bad news then and made a mad dash for the nearest pillar of dogs but it kept running after me and it was much faster. Somehow I managed to make it and I started scrambling to climb out of its reach. I didn’t get very far before there was a sharp pain in my leg and I looked down and saw that it had bitten me with one of the many canine mouths along the arm things. I screamed as it pulled me down but that didn’t do much and I probably would have died right then if it weren’t for what happened next.
Out of nowhere a mouth I didn’t even seen when I started climbing the dog pillar bit down on it and then one in the ground and they started chewing at it but that didn’t really seem to hurt it but it let go all the same. I ran away as fast as I could but I could hear that screaming long after I was out of sight. I didn’t sleep that night.
Just before nightfall tonight I felt like I had to make sure the dogscape had killed it and went to the pillar, but I saw no trace of it. But the notebook I tore this paper from was there and I took that.
So now here I am. I am not going to stay around here any longer after I finish this but finding this notebook made me think maybe there are other people and if so maybe I should warn them about things like this.
So if you are reading this good luck.
Oh also I am moving in the direction of the rising sun so if you can read this you are probably another person so if you go that direction maybe we can meet up and be a little better off than we were?
Tics are the only things that seem to like this place.
They’re everywhere. During the evenings I can see massive clouds of the bastards flitting across the matted surface, making the flesh of the Dogscape quiver as they drink their fill. Sometimes candid legs of various size and deformity burst through the surface to scratch at them. It doesn’t work. All the dogscape gains are vast stretches of scar marks, which the fleas feed upon.
Sometimes I rest on the side of a large outgrowth and only realize it’s a monstrous tic. They latch on to one of the Deep Arteries of the Dogflesh and endlessly leech of the new world’s lifeblood.
I saw a man once. It was hot that day. I was making my way for a dogpillar and saw him in the distance. He wasn’t moving and as I approached I saw why. He was covered in tics. Not a single spot on him was clear. What little clothes remained on him were stretched over the fuckers There was no wind, so all you heard was the faint scuttling of their tiny legs scratching against their ludicrously swelled bodies. He must’ve heard me, because he opened his mouth and tried to say something. His voice was raspy, and his mouth was red, but he did manage to say one word.
Today is the 5th day of the 12th month of the 654th year. Ours is the final generation. After us, the dogscape will be all that is left and all remaining men will either absorb into mother dog or perish from this swiftly dying world.
I have only a vague memory of my mother. Whether she was killed, stolen, or absorbed, I can’t say. Really, no one is quite sure what happened to the women. Slowly but surely, they’ve disappeared, often vanishing in the night without any warning and leaving no trace. Women are the only thing of any value in this world anymore; and the primary purpose of the tribe is to protect the group’s claim to a woman, who is used for the benefit of all the members
Our tribe’s woman was taken several months ago. The first month, we mourned her. She may have been a captive in many ways, but many of us could not help but become attached to her. The second, some of the men began engaging in homosexual activities with one another out of desperation. I’m sure that I was not the only one who realized that there was little meaning to our continued companionship and that soon the tribe would disband. This is the third month since she was taken and it’s all falling apart. First the elder was killed over a dispute; it was really just a confirmation that the unity of the tribe no longer existed, no longer had any reason to exist without the tribe’s woman. And so, we began to drift apart.
I know what will come next. When tribes dissipate, the members, alone and confused, come to depend on the mother dog for sex in much the same way they do for food, warmth, and shelter. Mother dog’s sex organs dot the landscape like diseased watering molehills in the dogflesh. The men find a sex organ to claim for their own and spend their days thrusting into it. Often, they find entrances near dog trees, fucking when they’re desirous and eating the fetuses when they’re hungry. They have no reason ever to move from their mound. In this way, men forget the world around them and become obsessed with mother dog; now not only a mother, but a lover too; it is their everything. It is common to see skeletons, either bare or being picked apart by dogs, their pelvises still pressing into a dog mound, surrounded by the still-reeking stench of their own filth.
Today is the 27th day of the 12th month of the 654th year. As I had predicted, the former members of my tribe have slowly but surely fallen into a degenerate lives as mound humpers. The desperate scum have forgotten their own humanity. Sickening. I vow never to fall into that disgusting state. And so I will walk this lonely, depraved dogscape searching. It can’t end this way, with all humanity uselessly masturbating itself into extinction. So I continue, knowing I may end up hopeless utterly defeated by the dogscape.
Today is the 2nd day of the 4th month of the 663rd year. I found a woman. Standing, as if waiting for me, under a dog tree, her mouth dyed red with the blood from a dog fetus. At one time, I would have been puzzled to see a woman standing alone and unafraid. But I haven’t come upon a tribe in years and incredibly rarely does one come across a man who is not mesmerized with a dog mound. I suppose this must have been the biggest surprise to her; to have found a man who has not yet become a slave to mother dog.
In any case, it’s important not to take chances. So I grabbed her, forced her down, and fucked her right there. Then I tied her down to the dogtree with a length of dogflesh rope so that she couldn’t run.
Today is the 7th day of the 8th month of the 663rd year. My woman is pregnant. I have watched over her, protected her from the wild mongrels that still roamed the dogscape. When the swarms of ticks came, I covered her in a hide. I wonder if we the only ones left on this planet who are still human?
Today is the 5th day of the 1st month of the 664th year. My child was born today. My woman squeezed my hand, breathing hard, pushing. After some time, the child came. A healthy normal female infant. I saw that all my struggles hadn’t been in vain, that our race did have a future. And I realized that I was crying. I held the child briefly, and then set it down to reach for my blade to cut the umbilical cord.
No sooner had I set the girl down than a furry tendril shot out from the dogtree. With a whack, it wrapped quick around the umbilical cord, gripped it tight. As the dog tree sunk into the ground before me, I hacked at the vine. But it could not be cut. Next I went for the umbilical cord tearing with all my strength to save my girl; but the vine had melded with it, and converted it into the same strong substance. And so I could only watch in horror as the dog tree disappeared into Mother Dog, dragging my woman and daughter with it. I dug after them, ripped the dogflesh open enough to watch as the mutated dogs of the upper layers tear at the child’s face.
There is no hope for the human race. The dogscape will not tolerate disloyalty any longer. And so, I commit myself to this dog mound, to become truly one with mother dog. What a damned fool I was forever thinking I could beat this world.
Galactic Calendar: Year 100 Day 1
We have arrived at the closest star system from our previous home. Our world was ravaged by war and we continued through space as nomads. We have searched for a hospitable world, and find this one to be to our liking.
We had received signals from this planet that date back at least 700 of its rotations around their star. If they are anything like us, then generations surely have changed here.
As we approached, I am puzzled, for the planet appears much different than our records indicate. The planet is a brown color, not blue, and it appears to be alive in its own right.
We will send a team down and investigate
Our ship reached orbit around the planet’s singular moon. There we gave the crew a final review of the information we knew about the people of this world. Our main source of communication we have received was in the form of signals they called “television.” Our understanding of the language will no doubt appear primitive to the dwellers below.
Though personally, I feel that something is odd. We had lost all communications from this world recently. The captain assumes it was because of their switching to a higher technology. They always talked about their newest technology which looked more and more like a race that could enter that of other space-faring peoples.
I am to go down with the rest of the team by the next day on the planet. Though I watch the now-brown world and feel that something is wrong…terribly wrong.
I don’t know how many days it’s been since I saw the last human. It’s hard for the remaining survivors of the DogScape, women have all gone and only a handful of men remain. But as I said it’s been days since I saw the last one. I wondered the furry field’s looking for a teat patch when I stumbled across something both very horrifying yet wonderful at the same time.
I looked down at what appeared to be a patch of both male and female reproductive dog organs. I stared fascinated as they endlessly paired with each other. I knew I should have looked away but I just couldn’t. After a while of watching them breed endlessly they seemed to stop. It appeared that they finally sensed me. I almost felt bad for bad for interrupting so I started to walk away but I felt something grab a hold of my leg. I looked down to see a mutated dog paw holding tightly to my pant leg. I tried to pull my leg from its grasp but it held on. Then to my horror it started pulling me to the middle of the organ patch. I franticly began to fight to get loose, for I knew what it wanted. More dog paws sprouted up and began pulling me. I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I knew that I would be joined with Dog Mother in the end, so I silently accepted my fate. At least I would die happy.
While archaic, tribal worship of the Dogmother, in all its visible and fleshy glory, is the most common form of “religion” in the barbaric Dogscape, there does exist another mythology. One practiced only in distant, isolated pockets, and by a few of the older survivors. The exact details change from tribe to tribe, year to year. But the basics never change. It is the legend of the Beginning of the Dogscape, the genesis of the world we know. It tells of a time when humans were plentiful, and walked upon ground that wasn’t alive.
There is a god. Or a demon perhaps. A dog that lived amongst the humans was even accepted and provided for by a human family. But it was no ordinary dog. This beast lived for over 50 years, while canines of the time rarely lasted more than a decade. It was greatly powerful, more in control of its owner family than they were of it. They say, it went out at night and hunted human prey, bringing back large collections of bones as trophies to its home. But the humans tried to ignore it, convince themselves that it wasn’t a problem.
Soon though, as the Origin Dog reached a century of age, it became increasingly powerful and unlike others. More strange disappearances and even attacks during the day. Vehicles were found with deep bite marks through metal, and homes were burrowed into from below.
The government of the time, many times more powerful than any chieftain of today, captured the hellhound. They performed experiments, tried to understand where it channeled its energy from. Progress was good; it looked as though even the secret to immortality could be gained from this dog! But accidents occur. The Betrayer, as they call her, who worked at the government facility, felt sympathy for the GodDog. She released him, and concurrently, the all-consuming hell that is Dogscape.
The enraged beast no longer held any sympathy for humanity. As it thrashed recklessly through the lab, mutated samples adhered to its flesh, growing like a cancer. Soon, what would become Dogscape was spreading like wildfire, its maw gnashing at everything that moved, its hide spreading over soil, stone, and sea.
What is the name of this horrible demon? It varies, but they all come from a similar etymological origin, I believe. I’ve taken down names from all over the world, Armad, Me’arm, Aduke.
And yet, the DogMother is most certainly feminine. Well, it is said that The Betrayer was in fact, the first human assimilated into the Dogscape.
It’s cold here. Jets of moist breathe dot the landscape amid undulating hills. There are no proper dog trees, only short piles of huddling dog limbs. Teats are few and far between, and when I find one I must work to coax the milk into a skin bladder.
I move across the hills, my feet numb through the shoes I have fashioned. I move in the direction that seems easiest, a subtle and mangy slope that I only just noticed was guiding my path in a general downhill fashion. Where there is fur it is thick and rancid with matted oil. I don’t know why The Mother does what it does, but all of her fruits have their uses. I hack at a fur clump, separating it from the flesh below. There is only a little blood from a grazed skin tag. I fold and shape the waxy fur onto the insulating hairy coverings on my body. The dogflesh rumbles beneath me in a more than disconcerting way. It has been doing that for the past several weeks, more so the further I have traveled. It is getting colder.
I can hear only the wind now, tearing across The Mother. The howls, warbling and mournful, have stopped. The sharp barks and yips no longer form a background cacophony. I huddle into my coverings, and shoulder ahead. I have no path to follow but forward.
The ground feels harder here. The gentle give of the dogland has ceased, giving way to a dull sound absorbing thud of matted fur. I slipped yesterday on what seemed to be a lake of solid piss. It was not reabsorbing into The Mother. My own shivering seems to syncopate with the occasional rumbles of The Mother. Her flesh no longer seems like a living being, but I know that deep within her the blood flows. It is so cold here.
I continue forward every day. The ground slopes more, and I struggle to sleep in a forgiving skin fold. There is no purpose but to move forward now. One foot in front of the other. It has been dark for as long as I can remember. How long will this night last?
The air is dry. The land is mostly featureless and hard as I walk. The wind blows clumps of brittle hair across my face, and they hurt. A soft pop, a subtle blue flash, and then they blow past me. My hands are deep within my coverings. They are numb, and if I expose them to ward off the shocks then the cold will take them from me. I have already lost three toes. I can no longer feel that foot. I no longer bother to light fires in the deep crooks where I sleep, but the last I saw of that foot it was black and swollen. It felt like it was burning.
My travel is slow. I have heard soft subtle tapping sounds, but when I investigate I find only dog claws moving against the ground. The rumbles have continued, and with them now come subtle rending sounds, like a mouth chewing on a bone. When the sounds intensify I move faster. I don’t know what causes them, but I do not think it is The Mother.
I have not found any teats in a long time. I am thirsty, and my skin bladder is almost empty. I would kill my own parents for a fresh puppy fetus. I passed a small pile of humans, almost buried in billowing dried fur. They were dead and dessicated. They looked like they were strong when they lived. I keep moving. There is only the road ahead of me. I do not know what it leads to.
The ground shifted beneath my feet, and I pissed in fear. Not a mouth, but a great hard chasm of flesh and bone had torn open beneath me. A stinking humid burst of air bellowed out, then hung in a cold cloud around me. On my ass, I peered into the gloomy hole that had nearly swallowed me, but it was now still. I sat and contemplated it, breathing heavily, and thought of my empty skin bladders.
Slowly, I could hear sounds several dozen feet below me start to play and echo in the cleft. A soft slapping. Then a gurgle. I don’t know how, but I knew that this was my chance for sustenance. I slid into the meaty maw. I climbed down a shorn slab of giant ribs, still red and moist, and finally landed on the steaming dark floor of the hole. It writhed beneath my feet. I felt around, not knowing what I was looking for, when my hands fell upon a thumping tube set into the meat wall. An artery. I grabbed it, pulling at connective flesh, and then bit at it. The blood shot out in spurts, and I drank my fill. I was covered in viscera. I struggled to fill my skin bladders. The cleft shuddered around me, and I knew I must leave it immediately. The walls were starting to hang tendrils of meat, feelers, to heal this damaged canyon. I exhausted myself climbing out, and nearly fell back in as I crested the edge of the crack, out into the cold night. The dog flesh slowly mended behind me as I panted on the hard ground. Before I left it, I considered it, and cataloged it. A stretch mark. The Mother was still growing.
I am so weak, and it is so cold. My filled bladders of blood are gone, and the gray dogscape stretches before me. I must make it to my goal, but I do not know what my goal is. I have walked for what seems like months in the darkness. I climb down a huge mass of frigid dog flesh. It is like a great heap of small dogs, a pile of dog heads and legs, a mound of tails and torsos. It is cold and lifeless. A slow, low creaking can be heard deep within it. I grip an ear and lower myself to the bottom of the wall of dog. And my foot lands on something else. I gasp, then get caught in a fit of coughing. I don’t know what I am standing on, but it is not The Mother. I feel queasy, nauseous. What could possibly be not The Mother? It’s frigid and hard, but I scrape at it and bits of dandery coldness come up off of it. I hold them close to my face and my breath turns the stuff to water. I try to eat a handful of it, but it is so cold that it robs me of almost all of my remaining energy. The moisture trickles down my throat. It is good. I look behind me at the dog wall, with its exposed frozen bones and happy looking faces, then ahead of me at the featureless dark. I am too far gone to turn back now. I continue walking for hours, then sleep, then I walk more. My footsteps are leaden.
Finally, ahead of me, I see light. I make my way towards it, slowly, over the course of several hours. It is a beacon to me now. A bright glowing steady fire. As I approach I see that the guiding light stands on a pole before a series of low dark structures. They are like solid walls of bone, but not. They are not of dogflesh. The billowing hair and cold dandery water pile against the sides. I know that this is what I was destined for. At one end, near the light, is a dark panel set into the wall. On it are markings placed their by some person’s hand, but I do not know what they say. “AIS-1” and “ENTRANCE”. I shoulder against the panel, but it barely shudders. I try again, and again. I am renewed with purpose by the discovery of this place, but I am weak from my travel. I lean my back to the panel and slide down it, exhausted. My back catches against a low bar set into the panel, pushes it down, and then clicks. The panel gives way and I fall into the darkness within.
I am in a small dark, dry cave. It is alien to me. The wind blows debris and fur into the room with me. I look around. Strange dark masses seem to leer at me. There are soft white skins hanging on the wall, and more of the unusual markings everywhere. “Procedure List:” and “KEEP CLOSED” and “Warning” and “Wear Radio At All Times”. A bright red cylinder with yellow stripes is inside a small box. I reach for it but my hands scramble against a clear covering across the entrance to the box. I look at my hands now. They are purple, and I can not feel them anymore. Another panel is on the opposite wall, like the one I had opened. I move towards it feebly. I am so cold. I pull on the handle set into the panel, but it does not move. A small red light flashes above it. I pull harder, but it does not move. I pull again, jumping, but lose my balance, and lurch to the ground. I smack my head with a dull thud. The cold is blowing in fiercely from the opening behind me. I scrape against the hard panel, but it will not move. More markings adorn it. “Close Outer Door First”. I do not understand them. I sit against the panel. My vision is blurry, and a trickle of my own blood seeps across my eye. I go to sleep there, leaning against the dark doorway. I sleep and do not wake up.
“My name is Charles Mountel, of Arctic Ice Station one. The abomination is not here, it is too cold. Tigger and I are the last survivors. We are 14 nautical miles South of the North Pole, directly North of Vancouver. Triangulate our position based on this radio signal. This message will repeat in five minutes.”
The radio broadcast the message again, as it had thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times. A cold, dead, desiccated body sat huddled before the radio systems in a chair. At its feet lay the curled, dead body of a mutt.