Human Pet. Short story.
Translation from the French by Marybeth Timmermann
Today, Brigitte brought me to Anubisland to see my parents. I am particularly fond of this animal park where I was born and where I spent part of my childhood. As loving as a female dog, she helped me put on my white cashmere sweater adorned with brown, green, and pink diamonds, and my leather coat trimmed with black fur. Brigitte’s sentimental attachment to me is endless. Now it’s tied to our exclusive sexuality, ever since her breakup with Patrick, her ex-boyfriend. My impressive strength, my golden fleece, my jowls, eyes, and paws make her wildly in love, in the same way a man might love a female top model. She admitted to me once that just hearing my steps aroused in her a stirring sensation of pleasure.
I could never stand her ex! I still clearly remember his unfriendly way of welcoming me, the day Brigitte first brought me to the house.
“Patrick, this is Tep Komondor!” she said as she pulled on my leash and added, “Whoever loves me loves my dog!”
“Oh, great, a dog! You can say goodbye to your quiet evenings watching TV and say hello to the trials of daily walks!”
Obviously, he was extremely impressed by my size. I had raised the hair on my neck and, standing upright, I put my paws on his shoulders. He pushed me back and started yelling at me and threatening me. Then I began to examine his odors. Since there were no interesting odors, I started to sniff between his legs in order to pick up his individual smell.
“Filthy, mangy dog, get away from me!”
“Well, stop yelling at him! You’re only going to get him worked up and he won’t listen to you.”
Over time, my conflict with Patrick continued to get worse. He was used to the exclusive adoration of his girlfriend; he was very jealous and didn’t want to let me in on his territory. He never respected the boundaries of my territory, but I always knew how to push him away, even if it was simply with my imposing bearing and my low, off-putting growls. I put up with Patrick without ever complaining, and when he fought with Brigitte, I was always there to comfort her, licking her lavishly. For her I was a real antidepressant. When she had had a bad day at work and was feeling low, I would do everything to comfort her, even going so far as to act the clown! Contrary to Patrick who was grumpy in the morning, I made sure to always be adorable! Sometimes Brigitte would leave me for an entire day, shut up in the house all alone. But when she came back, I greeted her enthusiastically because I was always happy to see her again. I was ready to do anything for her! She was the center of my world and I only had eyes for her! I spent all my time at her side, whereas Patrick preferred going out with his friends. Brigitte and I became so closely attached to one another that he felt excluded from the relationship. I ended up dethroning him and became the dominant dog in the pack of the household and took his place in Brigitte’s bed.
When we got to the park, we went over to the dog enclosure, passing the birds of prey enclosure on the way. My father saw me and came to meet me.
“Where is mom?”
“Your mother has disappeared! It’s been more than a week. I woke up one night and saw that she wasn’t lying next to me. I tried several times to telepath her, but I haven’t received any answer. I alerted the guards who searched for her everywhere in the park, without finding her. For a while she had been telling me that she could no longer stand life in a zoo and had been asking me to escape with her and meet up with one of the wild packs that prowl around outside the city.”
<Mom! It’s me, Tep! Where are you?>
<I left the park! I have joined up with one of the dog packs that roam the wastelands.>
<Where are these wastelands?>
<They’re in the southwestern outskirts of the city.>
“Dad, mom says she has gone and joined the stray dogs!”
“That’s what I was afraid of!”
Leaving the park, we passed by an ad display calling out to us to recommend a perfume for Brigitte: “Make yourself desirable to your dog! Our new Doggy in Heat perfume will sweep your pet off his feet! This bouquet of scents is formulated with all the pheromones of a female dog in heat!” A message appeared in the air in front of our eyes: “Due to the growing number of stray dogs, the municipal authorities have taken measures to capture and euthanize them...”
“Dammit! I must warn Laika! <Mom, answer!> Shit, I can no longer telepath! We must go look for her!”
We started with the wastelands beyond the periphery. Two sentries raised the alarm by barking furiously from the top of their observation post. This zone was inhabited by stray dogs: dalmatians, chuskies, labskies, chugs, cocker-peis, horgis, pomskies, Shar-Peis, robot dogs…
<Mom, where are you? Brigitte and I are in the wastelands, outside the periphery. We have to talk to you!>
<Follow the train tracks. I will meet you in the vacant lot!>
A pack of seven adults and their little ones, barking ferociously, came up to us. I let out a determined bark with my deep voice.
“Don’t be scared!” I told Brigitte. “They sense your emotions perfectly, and a frightened human has a special odor.”
My mom led us to the intimidating pack that had welcomed her. Our approach set off a chorus of barking. A huge black rottweiler with tawny spots of reddish brown stepped from the pack and came over to meet us. With his massive head held high, his tail raised, and his ears pointed forward, he looked at us suspiciously. A large male followed him.
“This is Socrates, the strongest male and charismatic leader. Everyone obeys him.”
“Listen, Socrates! The packs are all in danger. The municipality has decided to eradicate the stray dogs!”
“How long are we going to take abuse from these creatures who kill other living creatures for the sole pleasure of murder?”
“Not only do men eat us, but they torture us and make us suffer. They claim that our flesh carries an aphrodisiac property and that the more we are tortured before we die, the more these powers will be intensified!”
“Throughout their history, humans have constantly invented cruel games to make even the most harmless beasts suffer and die. Fox hunting, bull fighting, cock fighting and dog fighting, pigeon shooting, their entertainment is killing us!”
“Man is the only animal that kills for pleasure!”
“And with that, he claims to be like the Creator!”
“Men have damaged the climate, poisoned the oceans, destroyed the forests, and massacred the animals!”
“Upon what do they found this ontological dignity that man reserves for himself and that gives him all rights over everything that does not have to do with humans? He used to boast about being the only animal that spoke and claimed that speaking befitted only him! But for a long time now, speaking is no longer the privilege of man; he is no longer anything but an animal among others who speak. Ever since the mutation of our transgenic ancestors- following the manipulations of our genetic makeup by humans- we are endowed with a phonatory system that far outperforms that of men.”
“Let’s flee to the forest and seek refuge among our cousins, the wolves!”
“Come, Laika! We will go alert the packs!”
We had arrived near the periphery, when a dalmatian with a wide smile came to meet us. He had an unusual appearance, wore mismatched clothes, and had a strange look in his eyes. His upper lip was pulled back, uncovering his teeth and giving his face an expression of nervous laughter. He told me telepathically, <O, perfect dog, I am the adorer who loves you!>
“This dalmatian must be nuts!” I said to Brigitte. “Did you hear what he said?”
“He said, ‘O, perfect dog, I am the adorer who loves you!’!”
“I thought that I was the only one who loved you!”
“Stop kidding around!” And to the dalmatian, I said, <What is this nonsense? Are you crazy or what?>
<I am Cob V 987, and I am part of a group of scouts from Setha, a planet located 193,000 billion kilometers from Earth, in the Libra Constellation. The komondor is one of our primary divinities….>
“An extraterrestrial dalmatian!”
<Our species is formed of nonphysical entities. But we are able to go and seek information in other universes and take on the bodies of the beings who live there…>
<And what are you seeking on our planet?>
<Our Planetary Counsel has decided to invade Earth in order to help the animals. We have received an SOS sent out by the animals begging the extraterrestrials to come liberate the Earth from the men who eat them and mistreat them, destroy the environment of the planet, and threaten the existence of the other species. The invasion will take place this year, between October 31 and November 22, when your sun will cross our constellation...>
<With Earth’s entire military arsenal, it will not be a walk in the park!>
<All that privileged crowd will be quickly overpowered!>
<To give you an idea, think for a moment about parasites, a rather frequent phenomenon here. Parasites can modify the behavior of their hosts to the point of taking control of them! Our soldiers will come by the billions to Earth and infect all humans, whose speech will be taken away and who will regress to a quadrupedal state. They will be tucked into the frontal brain lobe of those they infect. They will insure control over them by acting upon the central nervous system. Humans contaminated in this way will be nothing more than puppets.>
“Oh my gosh! Did you hear that, Brigitte? He says that he is an extraterrestrial who has taken on the body of a dalmatian and comes as a scout for an army that is going to invade Earth and take control of humans!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Yes, I mean it, I’m not joking! He says that he comes from Setha, a planet in the Libra Constellation. They have decided to invade Earth! He also claims that I am one of their divinities there!”
“So, it’s true? You are going to invade us?” Brigitte inquired of the dalmatian.
<Affirmative! Our Planetary Counsel has decided to invade Earth in order to help the animals. It will be in three months,> telepathed the dalmatian, who suddenly became very agitated and then scurried off, howling.
“Wait, not so fast! What about us? What are we supposed to do to prepare for this happy event?”
“The time of humans is at an end; the time of animals is beginning!” This message- emitted by an unknown voice and coming from who knows where- was broadcast on the morning of November 13 over all the radio and television waves and on all the social media platforms on Earth. The same day, humans were all infected by an unknown virus that took away their speech and made them into quadrupeds. Brigitte found herself on all fours, unable to speak. So talkative before, she was transformed into a silent and suffering beast. Provisions were quickly depleted, and I had trouble finding enough to feed her.
Millions of blue balloons were released into the sky above all the continents of Earth. They burst as they touched down and Sethian robots emerged from them, swarming over the entire surface of the globe. Multitudes of robots thus disembarked upon the Earth. After recharging themselves in the ambient light, the robots started communicating among themselves. They built mega-zoos and started to corral the humans into them. The old zoos on the planet were decommissioned and the animals set free. On the morning of the third day after the invasion, a Sethian robot materialized before us. He removed Brigitte’s clothes- in spite of my protests- put her on a leash and teleported her to an unknown destination. For 48 hours, I tried in vain to telepath Cobe, to ask him to help me find Brigitte.
I was starting to lose hope when he telepathed me: <My master and sovereign, how pleasing for me to gaze upon you! This is Cobe, your adorer who visits you!>
<Cobe, finally! I am so upset! They have taken Brigitte from me!>
<Like all humans, Brigitte’s place is in the zoo!>
<Cobe, unless you want to experience the wrath of your god, bring Brigitte back to me!>
<O, perfect dog, forgive me! I will do everything I can to bring her back to you! But allow me to stay near you and deign to welcome into your house my animal and his robot pet!>
<You are all welcome. Come whenever you want!>
That very night, Cobe’s animal showed up with his pet robot. And what an animal! A sort of luminescent sphinx with three heads, about the size of a large cat with clawed paws, a long tail wrapped around himself, and multicolored whiskers. Next to him and above his heads floated a sphere of blue light.
<What happiness to arrive at your house, O perfect dog! I am Heris of Cobe and this is Imago, my pet robot,> the animal telepathed me.
<And Cobe, when will he be here?>
<I am here, before you!>
<But I see no one!>
<I am indeed here, but you can not see me. As I have already explained to you, I am immaterial, which is not the case for my animal and his robot...>
<Do you have any news of Brigitte?>
<No, but I have submitted an appeal for her to receive human pet status!>
<Yes. Our Counsel has provided this special status for humans who used to be animal rights activists...>
<So, Brigitte can walk on two legs again and regain her speech?>
<No! Human pets will always be speechless quadrupeds, like all other humans. But they can live with their preferred animal, if that animal accepts them.>
While I was telepathing with Cobe, the sphere of light lowered itself down to ground level and almost immediately transformed into a female komondor dog! I stood stock still, transfixed by the violent surge of my emotions!
<Tep, my darling, come to me!>
<Don’t look so stunned,> Cobe telepathed me. <Imago has simply deciphered the elements of your genome to configure herself into the female version of you. She is genetically unique. Polymorphous and mutant, she is endowed with a plasticity that allows her to take on any form. She can pare down a major part of her genes to the point of modifying her original genome. When she wants to put on a new form, her genome divides into fragments of very active, mobile DNA called jumping genes which then multiply and modify the genome of her cells by inserting themselves along her entire DNA chain...>
Cobe continued to telepath to me, but I was no longer listening to him, my body seized by a violent fever, the uncontrollable desire for Imago Komondor. I let out a wolf howl and started to sniff her chin, her lips, the skin of her muzzle, then started licking her whiskers and cheeks before moving on to the fold between her mammary glands…
The fever of desire for Imago Komondor remained with me. But after a few weeks, the memory of Brigitte came back even stronger. I lost sleep and my appetite over it. I was panicking and crying all the time. I started losing my fur, pinned my ears back, and couldn’t stop licking my nose and lips. I yawned continuously and panted abnormally. I chewed obsessively and my behavior became self-destructive. I was hurting myself and chewing on the furniture. I barked incessantly.
Cobe was worried about me. He reproached Imago for it: <Imago, you should pay more attention to Tep! Don’t you see that he’s in a terrible state?>
<I spend more time with him than I do with Heris. I’ve tried everything to alleviate his stress. But his adrenal glands are still overactive, flooding his organism with cortisol. I had to regulate cerebral transmission to help him adapt his neuronal connections and I adjusted his pituitary gland to control adrenal production. He is stressed because he has lost Brigitte.>
<I am going to have to speed up her liberation then. She will be part of the first batch of human pets.>
The Sethian robots transformed the face of the Earth. They brought advanced technology from Setha, decontaminated the planet, replaced electric energy with photosynthetic energy, and transportation with teleportation; they developed soil-free agriculture, revolutionized education for animals with universal downloads directly into the brain, and attacked the Earth’s toxic atmosphere so as to change it with their geo-engineering technology. They grew plants that released oxygen and destroyed the carbon gas cycle. Then they began to gather rocks from the asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and store them in deposits to change the mass of the Earth with a view to modify its axis of rotation and alter the seasons.
Three months after the occupation, Brigitte came back to the house, even more miserable, and still speechless and on four legs. Cobe included her into our Circle of Fraternity that communicated by telepathy. Each of us was connected to the others and shared their declarative, episodic, and autobiographical memories. I could thus access all the events that Brigitte had personally lived through, in their temporal and spatial context, with their sensory and phenomenological details.
She had been teleported to the mega zoo of Nouakchott, one of the first to be constructed by the Sethians. The zoo covered thousands of hectares. It was an immense human zoo, with thousands of main pens and multiple outbuildings. <You can not imagine the repulsion I felt when I was teleported into my cage. The unbearable smell, the excrement on the ground, the sweat from the packed bodies, the dying children, the smell of distress and despair, the barred cages. We communicated with facial expressions, body posture, and by touching the person we wanted to communicate with. A trough, always filled to overflowing with multicolored pills, was attached to the bottom of the bars. What shocked me the most- seeing the gigantic images of the zoo that floating around the cages, transforming the ambient air into a three-dimensional screen- was the density at which we were cooped up. Millions of people of all races- men, women, children, adults and old people- all piled up in overcrowded cages. The cramped cages and naked bodies created an unbearable promiscuity. Each day, thousands were taken away to an unknown destination. The Sethians proved to be totally devoid of pity and consideration for the humans. Their ultimate goal seems to be to eliminate the human species!>
Brigitte found herself with ten others- two women with children and three men, one of whom was a large black man- in a cage smaller than a double bed. As soon as she arrived, the black man jumped on top of her and raped her. And so began an infernal cycle of repeated sexual assaults. <I was in a permanent war-like situation, living in the utmost anguish, with a constant feeling of insecurity and danger. The psychological and physical suffering was intolerable. The painful awareness of imprisonment, the hell of oppressive promiscuity, the insomnia, and the mental and physical strain all gave me the feeling of imminent death.>
The large black man, the strongest of the men, was constantly provoking the other two in order to insure their submission, adopting dominant body language with expansive gestures and meaningful facial expressions. Frustrated, they ended up maiming him cruelly, to the point of emasculating him and killing him. Clouds of flies congregated on the body, which was never removed. <The cadaver began to swell, almost doubling in volume, before bursting. It was swimming in a suppurating oily liquid. The tongue hung out and the skin peeled off. The worst part was the putrid smell of death, an absolutely vile odor that suffocated us day and night, mixed also with the smell of excrement.> Cobe explained to me that they couldn’t bury the cadavers or burn them because they might contaminate the subsoil and the groundwater table.
Brigitte’s testimony moved me deeply. I decided to ask my mom to put me in contact with Socrates. I wanted to ask him to help me convince the stray dogs to form a canine society for the protection of humans.
<Mom, we should raise awareness among the stray dogs about the issue of more than ten billion humans who are suffering from harsh treatment and negligence at the hands of the Sethians. The humans are cooped up in open air zoos where they are exposed to the wind, cold, heat, and bad weather. They are piled up in cages, crawling over those who are already dead. The women give birth in the cages and their babies almost never survive. This situation is shocking and alarming... >
<They are only getting what they deserve! Didn’t they make us suffer for centuries?”
<That’s true, but it’s not only my sensitivity to the pain inflicted on humans that makes this action necessary. It’s also because I’m aware that there’s only a small step between cruelty to humans and cruelty to animals... >
<We have nothing to fear from the Sethians. Didn’t you tell me that they worship animals? >
<That’s not unique to the Sethians. In many human societies, animals were considered to be living incarnations of their main deities and were idolized as sacred, but that didn’t prevent them from being mistreated and eaten! We must act to insure the protection and defense of humans. The Sethians should take steps to insure their well-being. Improving the lot of humans is a challenge for our animality. >