Fido, the Cat and the Capsule

By KJ Hannah Greenberg

sfgenreFido Penelope Svetlana Hudson was your “typical” Dandie Dinmont Terrier. She was ten inches high, weighed twenty-one pounds, and had a medium long double coat. As well, she rarely drooled but had a surprisingly loud bark.

Her adopters, The Hudson Family, had brought her home since she was, allegedly, a hypoallergenic breed. Their only child, David, suffered from eczema and had been on antihistamines from the time he was weaned.

David loved to plunge his hand into Fido’s silky topknot. As for her dark bluish/black colouring and shoe-button eyes, he could not have cared less. 

Fido patiently played dress-up with him and thumped her scimitar tail nonstop when he built with blocks. To boot, she insisted on sleeping at the foot of his bed. Whenever her little boy returned from preschool, she could be found waiting for him at the front door.

Additionally, Linoi Hudson, David’s mom, brought Fido along each time she walked David to kindergarten. Whereas Linoi’s work schedule prevented her from also picking him up — a neighbour whose child was in David’s class did that kindness — Linoi insisted that her timetable accommodate their shared, early morning marches. Even if Linoi frequently didn’t get home until many hours after David was asleep, she had the satisfaction of knowing that, daily, she and her child shared birdsong, garbage truck rattles, and cats’ meows.

Stephen Hudson, David’s father, always stood alongside of Fido to greet David when David was due home. A writer graced with book contracts up to his eyebrows, that man chose not to leave home for “carpool duties,” but enthusiastically prepared David’s lunches. Together, he and his son built mayonnaise and green pea sandwiches, jellybean and ketchup omelettes, chicken with chocolate salads, and other toothsome items.

Once the lunch dishes were put away, ordinarily, David coloured. He then took a nap. 

On the heels of his nap, he’d snack with his father on “weird” viands such as grape halves, lettuce rolls, or carrot sticks. Occasionally, the two nibbled on animal cracker. Stephen liked the lions. David liked the penguins.

Thereafter, the tot would use up his allotment of television time while his father pounded on a keyboard. Free play, in the company of Fido, was next as was David’s evening meal. Bedtime was last.

Bedtime meant a bath, half of an hour or more of reading with Daddy and then sleep. In addition to Fido, David filled his bed with roughly two dozen stuffed animals, each of which had to be placed in its correct position along David’s guardrail.

Weeks rolled into months. Months rolled into seasons. Seasons rolled into a year. In no time at all, David was preparing for first grade. 

Linoi took a day off to buy him shoes, clothes, school supplies, and the “best” backpack that the family’s money could buy. That neon rucksack was covered with embroidered depictions of underwater creatures. David was so excited by his new pack that, for a few weeks, he had trouble getting to sleep. Before he would even try to shut his eyes, each of his stuffed animals had to be placed inside of it and then removed so that they could ride in his treasured possession as well as stand guard at their respective stations on his bed.

Even so, it was not that bag, nor Fido’s enthusiastic send off, or even the special chocolate chip/chilli pepper cookies that Daddy had made for David’s first day of first grade that most preoccupied the youngster while he and Mom walked to school. Rather, he was consumed by the antics of a neighborhood, feral tabby.

The animal in question, Howard, was not much of a predator. Bits of fur were missing from his back, one of his ears was permanently lacerated and he was somewhat lame in his front right paw. 

On balance, he owned half of a city block. What’s more, that half of a block contained two community dumpsters. Howard had successfully vanquished every challenger in his sector.

Consequently, all of the spillage from human garbage at those locations was his and his alone. As long as he hid when the trucks came, he remained king.

It was only because Howard was usually more active at night than day that David had never met the tom. Although, for a full year, David had passed Howard’s trash receptacles going to and from school, he had never noticed the critter. On that first day of first grade, however, the tuna and popcorn sandwich that Stephen had packed for David had roused Howard. 

While Stephen had already begun to yearn for different father-son culinary adventures, Howard was unable to overlook their most recent one. Tail up, whiskers out, the champion stalked the mother and child. He meant to get to the source of the wonderful smell.

Upon noticing Howard, Fido sounded off. She had her two-leggeds to protect. 

Fur puffed out and eyes wide opened, Howard retreated. He likely outweighed the canine but had no desire to engage her. He’d pursue the humans from a distance.

The rest of David and his mom’s walk to school was uneventful, save for the tears that dripped down their faces. The lad was upset that he couldn’t pet the stray kitty. Linoi was moved by the fact that her little man was embarking on another of life’s chapters.

Linoi tried to distract them from their losses. She let David collect three fallen leaves, permitted Fido to “read the news” at every lamppost that they passed, and completely ignored the dozens of summonses that were issued by her smart phone. For four blocks, she meant to make sure there would be only natural indulgences. 

The woman even stopped their procession, twice, to point out wrens, robins, or some other sort of songbirds. She really wasn’t sure of those passerines’ identity.

Despite all of their restarts, the mother and child reached school. With a hug and a sniffle, Linoi sent David inside.

On her journey home, though, she returned her concentration to the business world. An important product launch plus a future meeting with higher ups needed her attention. Accordingly, she held Fido’s leash in one hand and scrolled with her other hand.

Howard watched the pair from his perch on top of one of his waste containers. He hissed at Fido.

In answer, Fido perked up her ears, growled, and then barked repeatedly. Linoi, who was IMing, hushed her pet before tugging on her leash.

Fido stayed put. The terrier couldn’t understand why her human didn’t want to be safeguarded from the nasty moggy. 

Linoi pulled again. 

Sometimes, those yanks hurt. That morning was one of those times. Thus, as soon as she had growled another time, Fido obediently walked beside Linoi. She stopped afresh, all the same, when she espied the capsule.

That pod was silver. It shimmered in the morning light. It likewise beeped and emitted other sounds. It vibrated, though, at a frequency inaudible to human ears.

Fido sniffed it.

Linoi acquiesced. Momentarily, she stopped prising and walking. She figured her pup was “reading” other dogs’ stories anew. She, herself, could use Fido’s break to complete another long text.

A compartment opened on the capsule. Bug-sized organisms spilled out.

Fido tasted one of those creepy-crawlies but it gave her an unpleasant sting. She spit out the being and then barked at the capsule.

Linoi, who had, at last, finished her electronic chat, once more wrenched Fido’s leash. Allowing her dog to read other doggies’ scents was one thing but having her chase squirrels was not part of Linoi’s plan.

Howard watched them leave. He had observed Fido’s attempt to eat the tiny living things. He was curious over and above being hungry. 

After licking one paw and then another, he leapt from his outsized garbage can to the sidewalk. The capsule was still there.

As a feline, he was superior to canines and humans. Hence, unlike them, he had no compunction about swallowing the capsule whole. He figured that the insects within would be just as tasty in their casing as they would be if eaten individually. 

No one saw him levitate into the heavens.

The subsequent morning, a calico juvenile had taken up Howard’s dumpster spot. While escorting David and his mom, Fido noticed the change in command but, because she was intent on not again having her collar jerked, she neither barked nor snarled at the newcomer.

David saw only a bounty of leaves. As for Linoi, she had eyes just for her watch — her phone was pealing unrelentingly. The second day of first grade was not as monumental to her as the first.

Going forward, no further shimmery capsules were found strewn on the sidewalk that leads to the elementary school. Furthermore, no additional cats were airlifted to Draco II.

rocket crux 2 75

About the Author

KJ Hannah Greenberg

kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.

In The Next Issue...

Coming In Issue 289

Company Man
By James R. Coffey

Dusk Patrol
By Kevin J. Phyland

Martian Food
By Robbie Sheerin

Sociology 101, Lesson Six
By KJ Hannah Greenberg

Superman
By Elizabeth Broadbent

The Eternity Library
By Chris Gladstone

The Sparrow Maker
By Tee Linden

Three Eight Two (Part Two)
By Andrew Dunn

Turning on the Light
By John Bohr

What I have to say about the supersize oceans of the exoplanet C59034
By Ranju Mamachan

Winter's Sky
By Callan J Mulligan

Scifaiku
By PS Cottier

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF's Production Crew

nuke conflux 2017 200Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998, and conceived back around November 2007. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s, and even sold a few stories here and there back in the '90s.

“Nuke”, who it turns out loves editing more than writing, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and board member of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show.

aus25grn

mark web 200Mark Webb's midlife crisis came in the form of attempting to write speculative fiction at a very slow pace. His wife maintains this is a good outcome considering the more expensive and cliched alternatives. Evidence of Mark's attempts to procrastinate in his writing, including general musings and reviews of books he has been reading, can be found at www.markwebb.name.

One of Mark’s very best forms of writing procrastination is to produce the eBook series for AntipodeanSF, which he has been doing since issue 175.

aus25grn

AntiSF & The ASFF

AntipodeanSF supports the ASFF

ASFF logo 200

Please consider joining the Australian Science Fiction Foundation, a prime supporter and promoter of speculative fiction down-under.

<https://asff.org.au>

AntipodeanSF September 2022

ISSUE 288

Speculative Fiction
Downside-Up
ISSN 1442-0686

Online Since Feb 1998

rocket crux 2 75

SF Quote

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke

Download AntiSF E-Book

Epub version:

Kindle version:

AntiSF's Narration Team

mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his enjoyment of rainbows, colourful flames on romantic log fires, and rings around the moon. He has previously been published in Stupefying Stories Showcase, Everyday Fiction, Escape Pod, Perihelion and also on AntipodeanSF where he is part of the narration team.

old style mic flat 25

timonthy gwyn 100Timothy Gwyn is a professional pilot in Canada, where he flies to remote communities. During a lull in his flying career, he was a radio announcer for three years, and he is also an author.

In addition to short stories at AntipodeanSF and NewMyths.com, his SF novel is available internationally in print and ebook formats. "Avians" draws on his love of alternative aviation to tell the tale of a girl who runs away from home to join a cadre of glider pilots on a world without metal or fossil fuels.

On Twitter, he is @timothygwyn, and his blogs are at <timothygwyn.com>.

old style mic flat 25

lauriebell 2 200Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia. She was that girl you found with her nose always buried in a book. She has been writing ever since she was a little girl and first picked up a pen. From books to short stories, radio plays to snippets of ideas and reading them aloud to anyone who will listen.

She is the author of The Butterfly Stone and The Tiger's Eye (YA/Fantasy) White Fire (Sci-Fi) and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided (a unique collection of short stories set during the events of White Fire/Sci-Fi). 

You can read more of her work on her blog <www.solothefirst.wordpress.com> Look for her on Facebook <www.facebook.com/WriterLaurieBell/> or Twitter: <@LaurienotLori>

Rambles, writing and amusing musings

Smile! laugh out loud! enjoy the following

<www.solothefirst.wordpress.com>

old style mic flat 25

ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

He believes stories might also contain an element of humour — however small — to enrich the plot and/or heighten the drama.

angle mic

sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting Book.

old style mic flat 25

marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.

old style mic flat 25

carolyn eccles 100

Carolyn's work spans devising, performance, theatre-in-education and a collaborative visual art practice.

She tours children's works to schools nationally with School Performance Tours, is a member of the Bathurst physical theatre ensemble Lingua Franca and one half of darkroom — a visual arts practice with videographer Sean O'Keeffe.

(Photo by Jeremy Belinfante) 

old style mic flat 25

tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far North Queensland. For more information, visit his Tim Borella – Author Facebook page.angle mic

alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <alistairlloyd.com>.

aus25grn

pixie willo 100Pixie is a voice actor, cabaret performer & slam poet From the Blue Mountains in NSW.

She enjoys writing short fiction, plays for radio and stage as well as her own brand of weird poetry.

She hosts the 'Off-Beet Poetry Slam' held bi-monthly in Katoomba.

old style mic flat 25

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show

AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50The AntipodeanSF Radio Show delivers audio from the pages of this magazine.

The weekly program features the stories from recently published issues, usually narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Saturday evening at 8:30pm.

You can find every broadcast episode online here: http://antisf.libsyn.com 

The Contributors

rodney sykes 200Rodney grew up in country South Australia and later in Adelaide but now lives and works in Melbourne.

He works principally as an IT consultant and dabbles in creative writing in his spare time.

He enjoys writing poetry as well flash fiction and often reads his work at the Melbourne Writers Group meetings.

Rodney is currently unpublished but hopes to change that in the near future.

aus25grn

jared bernard 200Jared Bernard’s fiction has appeared in Morpheus Tales, and his non-fiction has appeared in The Conversation, Natural History, History Today, and American Forests among others. As a PhD candidate studying insects, he has also published in scientific journals.

Jared’s debut literary/speculative fiction novel, Killing Juggernaut <https://www.killingjuggernaut.com>, predicts a dire future in which the fates of an ecologist, a teenager, and an astronomer are linked by humanity’s last-ditch effort to save itself from environmental devastation.

“Tantalise” is a mini companion story to Killing Juggernaut.

fulvio gatti 200Fulvio Gatti is an Italian speculative fiction writer been writing and publishing in his native tongue for 25 years.

He has been writing in English for the global market since 2018, and his stories can be found in pro magazines, like Galaxy’s Edge, magazines and anthologies published in US, UK, Italy, and Australia.

He’s been a student of Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s Superstars Writing Seminars and he is part of David Farland’s Apex Writing Group. He’s also been a panelist at Worlcon/Discon III, among other international events.

He lives with his wife on the wine hills of the Northwestern Italy, where he works as a local reporter and event organizer.

Website: <https://www.fulviogatti.it>

chuck mckenzie 200Chuck McKenzie was born in 1970, and still spends much of his time there.

He also runs the YouTube channel 'A Touch of the Terrors', where — as 'Uncle Charles' — he performs readings of his favourite horror tales in a manner that makes most ham actors look like Gielgud.

aus25grn

michael j leach 200Michael J. Leach <@m_jleach> is a writer and academic who lives in Bendigo on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Michael enjoys writing about science. His science poems reside in Meniscus, Rabbit, Cordite, Consilience, Science Write Now, the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology (The Hippocrates Press, 2021), and elsewhere.

He has published a sci-fi short story in Painted Words 2017 (Bendigo TAFE, 2017) and penned two science-themed plays performed by Bendigo Theatre Company.

Michael’s poetry collections include Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020) and Natural Philosophies (Recent Work Press, forthcoming in November 2022).

You can read more about Michael’s work on his website: <https://mleach11.wixsite.com/writing>

aus25grn

greg foyster 200Greg Foyster is a writer, illustrator and author of the memoir Changing Gears, currently living on Wadawurrung country at Geelong.

His stories and cartoons have appeared in The Age, The Saturday Paper, ABC, Meanjin, Eureka Street and others.

His fiction has appeared in Overland, The Big Issue, Aurealis and AntipodeanSF.

Website: <www.gregfoyster.com>

aus25grn

andrew dunn 200Andrew writes science-fiction and fantasy from the state of Maryland on the eastern coast of the United States, often drawing ideas from jogs through forest trails at sunrise or a tasty beer at sunset. 

Andrew writes each story with the goal of giving readers something they will enjoy, without relying on the typical, predictable, or cliche'. His work has previously appeared in AntipodeanSF, 365 Tomorrows, and soon Daily Science Fiction

When Andrew isn't writing chances are he's playing guitar or bass, exploring abandoned places, or spending quality time with a bulldog. Andrew hopes you enjoy this story, and he will continue to try and write stories that you'll love to read! 

salvatore difalco 200Salvatore Difalco is the author of two story collections, Black Rabbit (Anvil) and The Mountie At Niagara Falls (Anvil).

He currently lives in Toronto Canada.

aus25grn

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of two novels: The Greer Agency & A Felony of Birds. He has written dozens of short stories many of which are available on line at <quantummuse.com>. He is the author of many children’s books including At The Robot ZooMoonRivet Saves His Skin and An Alphabet Book of Bugs available in print from CreateSpace and as ebooks for Nook & Kindle. You can find links to his writings here: <harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com>

ps cottier 200PS Cottier is a poet who lives in Canberra, with a particular interest in speculative poetry.

She has been published widely at home and in Canada, England, New Zealand and the USA.

Two of her horror poems were finalists in the Australian Shadows Awards for 2020. Her latest books are Monstrous, which is a volume of speculative poems, and Utterly, which is non-genre.

PS Cottier is the Poetry Editor at The Canberra Times and blogs at <https://pscottier.com>

aus25grn

kj hannah greenberg 200KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.

Thereafter, she's been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.

Find out more at her website: <http://kjhannahgreenberg.net/>.