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´╗┐Title: The Day of the Dog
Author: Horne, Anderson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Day of the Dog" ***

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    _They came home from a strange journey.... And heroes they might
    have been--a little dog and a man!_

[Illustration: _Illustrated by Ed Emsh_]


BY ANDERSEN HORNE

The DAY OF THE DOG


Carol stared glumly at the ship-to-shore transmitter. "I hate being out
here in the middle of the Caribbean with no radio communication. Can't
you fix it?"

"This is a year for sun spots, and transmission usually gets impossible
around dusk," Bill explained. "It will be all right in the morning. If
you want to listen to the radio, you can use the portable radio
directional finder. That always works."

"I want to catch the 5 o'clock news and hear the latest on our
satellite," Carol replied. She went to the RDF and switched it on to
the standard broadcast channel. "Anyhow, I'd feel better if we could put
out a signal. The way we're limping along with water in our gas is no
fun. It will take us twenty hours to get back to Nassau the way we're
losing RPM'S."

Bill Anderson looked at his young, pretty wife and smiled. "You're
behaving like a tenderfoot. We've plenty of gas, a good boat and perfect
weather. Tomorrow morning I'll clean out our carburetors and we'll pick
up speed. Meantime, we're about to enter one of the prettiest harbors in
the Bahamas, throw over anchor ..."

The RDF drowned him out.

"The world is anxiously awaiting return of the chamber from the world's
first manned satellite launched by the United States ten days ago. The
world also awaits the answers to two questions: Is there any chance that
Robert Joy, the volunteer scientist who went up in the satellite, is
still living? There seems to be little hope for his survival since radio
communication from him stopped three days ago. Timing mechanism for the
ejection of Joy are set for tonight. And that's the second question.
Will the satellite, still in its orbit, eject the chamber containing
Joy? Will it eject the chamber as scheduled, and will the chamber arrive
back at earth at the designated place?

"There are many 'ifs' to this project which is shrouded in secrecy. The
President himself has assured us of a free flow of news once the chamber
has been recovered, and this station will be standing by to bring you a
full report."

Carol switched the radio off. "Do you think he's alive?" She suppressed
a shudder. "God! Think of a human being up there in that thing."

"Well, the dog lived for several days. It was just a question of getting
it back, which the Russians couldn't do. I don't know about Joy. He
sounded real cheerful and healthy until his broadcasts stopped." Bill
peered into the fading twilight. "Come on now, let's put our minds to
getting the hook over!"

They concentrated on the tricky entrance to the lee side of Little
Harbor Cay. It meant finding and passing a treacherous coral head north
of the adjoining Frozen Cay. Little Harbor Cay was midway in the chain
of the Berry Islands which stretched to the north like beads in a
necklace.

"There's the cove," called Carol. About a mile of coastline ahead was
the small native settlement. Once the center of a thriving sponge
industry, the island was now practically deserted. A handful of small
cottages, a pile of conch shells on the beach and two fishing smacks
gave evidence of a remaining, though sparse, population.

Dusk was rapidly approaching and Carol strained her eyes against the
failing light. Bill heard her call his name and saw her pointing--not
ahead to their anchorage, but amidships and toward the sky. He turned
his eyes to where she was indicating and saw a dullish object in the
sky, some thousand feet up. The object seemed to be falling leisurely
towards earth.

"What in the world is that?" asked Bill. "It's not a bird, that's for
sure."

The object seemed to be parachuting, not falling. The breezes were
blowing it towards the island. Before they could study it further, it
was lost in the lowering dusk and darkness of the shore line.

"Looks like a ball on a parachute," Bill finally said. However, the
business at hand was to make secure the _Seven Seas_ and together they
spent the next quarter hour anchoring.

After "setting the hook" securely, Carol and Bill donned swim suits,
dove overboard and swam lazily the 300 yards in to shore.

"Let's try to find that thing we saw. It shouldn't be too far from
here," said Carol the moment they hit the beach.

They climbed inland on the rocky island. Little green lizards scooted
underfoot and vines scratched at their ankles.

Bill was leading, when suddenly he called, "Carol, I see something up
ahead! There's something lying on the ground!" He hurried toward what he
had seen.

The dying sun reflected on a luminescent bolt of cloth, somewhat like a
spun-aluminum fabric. Thin wire lines were entangling it, and about ten
feet away lay three fragments of what appeared to have been a dull metal
box.

Carol knelt at the closest piece, evidently a corner of the box. It was
lined with wiring and tubes.

"It looks like electronic equipment," decided Carol, peering intently at
the strange piece. Bill had approached the second and largest fragment.

He carefully turned it over. It was filled with black and yellow ...
fur?

"Oh no!" he cried, knowing in a flash, yet denying it in his mind at the
same time. Stunned, he stared at the perky ears, the dull staring and
unseeing eyes, the leather thongs that held the head and body of a dog
to the metal encasement. Carol saw it the next instant.

"It's some horrible joke!" she gasped. "It couldn't be the second
Russian satellite, it couldn't be Muttnik! My God, no, it couldn't be!"

Bill kept staring, his thoughts racing. There were rumors of an ejection
chamber for Muttnik. But they had been denied by the Russians. But
suppose the Russians _had_ planned an ejection chamber for the dog Laika
when they launched the satellite and had only denied it after they
thought it had failed?

But if it _had_ worked, why had it taken so long to find its way to
earth? The satellite itself was supposed to have disintegrated months
ago.

"Damn," thought Bill. "I wish I were a scientist right now instead of a
know-nothing artist!"

He touched the dog with his toe. It was perfectly preserved, as though
it had died just a few hours before. It was rigid, but it had not
started to decompose.

"Carol, are we crazy? Is this some dream, or do you believe we are
looking at the ejection chamber of the Russian satellite?" he asked,
doubting even what he was saying.

"I don't know." Carol was wide-eyed. "But what shall we do now? We'd
better contact the authorities immediately!"

Bill tried to keep reason from overcoming his disbelief of their
discovery.

"But how, Carol? Our radio transmitter isn't working. It won't till
morning. And there's certainly no other way to communicate with anyone.
We can't even take the boat anywhere with the speed we're making. We'll
have to wait till morning."

"What shall we do with the dog?" asked Carol. "Do you think we ought to
bury it?"

"Lord no, Carol. The body of the dog will be extremely valuable to
science. We've got to get someone here as quickly as possible." Bill was
trying to steady his nerves.

"Let's go back and try to raise someone on the radio. Let's try again,
it may work," called Carol, running in the direction of the boat. Bill
followed her. They stumbled on the craggy rocks and exposed sea grape
roots, but together in the darkness they struck out for the boat.

Bill was first aboard and went directly to the ship-to-shore radio.

"Try the Nassau marine operator first," Carol panted as she clambered
aboard. "He's a lot closer to us than Miami."

As the receiver warmed up, static filled the cabin. Bill depressed the
transmitting button. "This is the Yacht _Seven Seas_ calling the Nassau
Marine operator," he called into the phone. Only static answered.

"Bill!" Carol said in sudden inspiration. "Give a May Day. Try every
channel with a May Day. If anyone picks up a May Day call you'll get
emergency action."

"May Day, May Day! This is the Yacht _Seven Seas_. Come in anyone!" Bill
called urgently into the mouthpiece. He switched to the Coast Guard
channel, then to the Miami Marine operators channel. Only static filled
the cabin. No welcome voice acknowledged their distress call. Bill
flipped the switch desperately to the two ship-to-ship channels. "May
Day! Come in any boat!" Still static. Nothing but static.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was night. A night without a moon. The island loomed dark against the
black waters. The dark was relieved only by a small fire burning at the
native settlement a half-mile down the coast, and the cabin lights of
the _Seven Seas_.

"What will we do now?" Carol tried to sound unconcerned, but her voice
sounded thin and wavering.

"I don't know what we can do, except wait until daybreak. I'm sure we
can get a signal out then," Bill replied, calmly as he could. He hoped
she couldn't hear the pounding of his heart.

"What about the dog?" she asked. "Will it be all right there? Should we
bring it aboard?"

"We better leave everything untouched. Our best bet is to get some sleep
and place our call as soon as day breaks."

Neither of them could eat much supper and after putting the dishes
away, they made up their bunks and climbed in. After a very few minutes,
Bill handed a lighted cigarette across the narrow chasm between the
bunks.

"I can't sleep. My head is spinning. Do you really believe that's what
we've found?" Carol's voice sounded small.

"Yes, I do. I believe we've found the Russian ejection unit, complete
with the dog Laika and instrumentation."

They lay quietly, the glow of two cigarettes occasionally reflecting on
the bulkhead. Bill finally arose.

"I can't think of another thing but what's sitting out there on Little
Harbor Cay!" He walked up to the main cabin and switched on the RDF. For
a few minutes there was music, and then:

"Flash! The United States Government has just officially released the
news that at 10:09 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the U. S. Satellite
ejection chamber was successfully returned to earth at the designated
location. This was some six hours earlier than expected. The chamber,
into which Robert Joy voluntarily had himself strapped, has landed at an
undisclosed site and is being raced under heavy guard to the Walter Reed
Hospital at Washington, D. C. There is no hope that Joy is still living.
Word has just been released by Dr. James R. Killian that instruments
measuring Joy's pulse rate indicated three days ago that all Joy's
bodily processes ceased to function at that time. We repeat, all hope of
the survival of Robert Joy is now abandoned as the result of scientific
data just released by Dr. Killian.

"The satellite is being brought intact to Walter Reed Hospital and
leading physiologists and scientists are racing to the scene to be on
hand for the opening of the unit scheduled for 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Further reports will be given as received. This station will remain on
the air all night. Stay tuned for further developments. We repeat, the
U. S. satellite's ejection chamber, containing the first human being
ever to go into space, has been successfully returned to earth as
predicted, though all hope has been abandoned for the survival of Robert
Joy, the man in the moon. The chamber will be opened for scientific
study tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for further news."

Bill tuned down the music that ensued and returned to his bunk. "You
heard that, Carol?" He knew she wasn't asleep.

"Yes. And it makes this whole thing that we've found seem more
plausible. I've been lying here trying to make myself believe it's some
sort of dream, but it isn't. If we could only ..." Carol's voice faded
softly into the night.

There was absolutely nothing they could do. Nothing but lie there and
smoke and pretend to sleep. They didn't talk much, and keenly felt the
terrible frustration of their enforced silence on the ship-to-shore.
They heard several more news reports and several analyses of the news,
but nothing new was added throughout the night. The radio only
reiterated that the ejection unit had been recovered, that hope had
faded for Joy's survival and that the chamber was to be opened in the
morning as soon as scientists had convened in Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dawn, long in coming, broke about 4:30. With the lifting of the dark,
the sun spots which interfered with radio reception miraculously lifted
also. Bill and Carol sat next to the ship-to-shore and turned it on.
This time they heard the reassuring hum of the transmitter, not drowned
out by the awful static of the night before. Bill switched to the Coast
Guard channel.

"May Day. May Day. This is the _Seven Seas_ calling the United States
Coast Guard. Come in please!"

And a voice, almost miraculously, answered, "This is the U. S. Coast
Guard. Come in _Seven Seas_. What is your position? Come in _Seven
Seas_."

"This is the yacht _Seven Seas_ back to the Coast Guard. We are located
at the Berry Islands at Little Harbor Cay. We want to report the
discovery of what we believe to be the second Russian satellite."

"This is the Coast Guard to the _Seven Seas_. Do we read you correctly?
Are you reporting discovery of the Russian satellite? Please clarify.
Over." A stern voice crackled through the speaker.

"Last evening on entering the harbor here we saw an object fall to the
ground. On inspection, it was a metal box which was broken apart on
impact. In it are electronic equipment and the body of a small dog.
Over." Bill tried to be calm and succinct.

"Coast Guard to _Seven Seas_. Is your boat in distress? Over."

"No, no! Did you read me about the Russian satellite?" asked Bill,
impatience in his voice.

"Will you state your name and address. Will you state the master's full
name, and the call letters and registration of your craft. Over,"
crackled the voice from the speaker.

"Oh my lord, we're not going to have red tape at a time like this, are
we?" Carol asked exasperatedly.

"This is Bill Anderson of Ft. Lauderdale, owner and skipper. Our call
letters are William George 3176, Coast Guard registration #235-46-5483.
What are your instructions regarding dog satellite?"

"Please stand by."

Bill and Carol stared at each other while the voice on the radio was
silent.

"This is the United States Coast Guard calling the yacht _Seven Seas_."

"_Seven Seas_ standing by."

"We wish to remind you that it is illegal and punishable by fine and or
imprisonment to issue false reports to the Coast Guard. We are
investigating your report and wish you to stand by."

"Investigating our report?" Bill fairly shouted into the phone. "Good
God, man! The thing to investigate is _here_, laying in three pieces on
the middle of Little Harbor Cay. This is no joke." Despite the emotion
in Bill's voice, the answer came back routine and cold, "Please stand
by. We will call you. Do not, we repeat, do not make further contact
anywhere. Please stand by. Coast Guard standing by with the _Seven
Seas_."

"_Seven Seas_ standing by," shouted Bill, almost apoplectic, his face
reddening in anger.

"Now what? It looks like they're going to take their time in believing
us. At least until they find out who we are and if we're really here,"
said Carol.

Bill paced the deck in frustration. Suddenly he decided, "Carol, you
stick with the radio. I'm going ashore again and take another look at
our Muttnik. It seems so incredible that I'm not even sure of what I saw
last night. Once they believe us they'll want to know as much about it
as we can tell them." Bill hurriedly put on his swim suit and heard
Carol shout as he dove overboard, "Hurry back, Bill. I don't like you
leaving me here alone!"

Bill swam with sure even strokes to the shore where they had gone last
night. The water felt cool. It soothed his nerves which jangled in the
excitement of the discovery and in the anger at the disbelieving
authorities. He reached shallow water and waded towards shore.

Suddenly he stopped dead, his ankles in five inches of water. His eyes
stared ahead in disbelief. His brain was numbed. Only his eyes were
alive, staring, wide in horror. Finally his brain pieced together the
image that his vision sent to it. Pieced it together but made no
comprehension of it.

His brain told him that there was a blanket of fur laying unevenly
twenty feet back from the shore line. A blanket of yellow and black
fur ... covering the earth, covering mangrove roots, fitted neatly
around the bent palm tree trunks, lying over the rocks that had cut
his feet last night ... smothering, suffocating ... hugging the earth.

Bill shut his eyes, and still the vision kept shooting to his brain. All
yellow and black and fuzzy, with trees or a tall mangrove bush or a sea
grape vine sticking up here and there.

He opened his eyes and wanted to run, for the scene was still there. It
hadn't disappeared as a nightmare disappears when you wake up. Thick
yellow and black fur lay on the ground like dirty snow. Covering
everything low, hugging the base of taller things.

"Run!" his mind told him. Yet he stood rooted to the spot, staring at
the carpet of fur near him. It was only ten feet away. Ten feet? His
every muscle jumped. The lock that had held his muscles and brain in a
tight vice gave loose and a flood of realization hit him. "It's moving!"
he realized in horror. "It's growing!"

       *       *       *       *       *

As he watched, slowly, slowly, as the petals of a morning glory unfold
before the eye, the yellow and black fur carpet stretched itself in
ever-increasing perimeter.

He saw it approach a rock near the beach. The mind, when confronted with
a huge shock, somehow concentrates itself on a small detail. Perhaps it
tries to absorb itself in a small thing because the whole thing is too
great to comprehend all at once. So with Bill's mind. He saw the yellow
and black fur grow toward the rock. It seemed to ooze around it and
then up and over the top of it. Bill saw, when it reached the top of the
rock, that it dropped a spiny tendril to the ground. Like a root, the
tendril buried itself into the earth below the jutting rock, and slowly
the rock was covered with the flowing fur.

Bill's thoughts sped ahead of his reason. The dog. The dog ... growing
like a plant. Its hide covering the ground, putting out roots,
suffocating everything, smothering everything, growing, growing.

With almost superhuman effort, he turned his back on the awful sight and
swam desperately out to the _Seven Seas_.

"Bill, what's happened?" cried Carol, when she saw his white and
terrified face.

"Carol ... the dog ... it must have had some cosmic reaction to its
cellular structure ... some cancerous reaction ... when the chamber
broke open and the cells were exposed to our atmosphere again it started
some action ... started to grow ... doesn't stop growing ... it's
horrible ..." Bill's words were disjointed and hysterical.

Carol stared at him. "Bill, _what_ are you saying?" Bill pointed mutely
to the shore. Carol rushed to the cockpit. She stared at the island. She
ran back to the cabin where Bill was sitting, holding his head in his
hands. She grabbed the binoculars from the bookshelf and turned them to
the island.

"Bill! It's ... oh no! The whole island looks as though it's covered
with ... fur!" She screamed.

Bill grabbed the binoculars and ranged the island with them. A quarter
of a mile down he could see small figures in the water, floundering
around, climbing aboard the two fishing smacks. All around, the black
and yellow mounds of fur carpeted the pretty green island with a soft
rug of yellow and black.

"Get the Coast Guard, Carol!"

"They called back while you were gone. They're sending a plane over
immediately."

"Call them, Carol!" Bill shouted at her. "Don't you realize what this
could mean? Don't you realize that something, only God knows what, has
happened to the cellular structure of this animal, has turned it into a
voracious plant-like thing that seems to grow and grow once it hits our
atmosphere? Don't you realize that today they're going to open that
satellite, that other one, in Washington? Suppose this is what happens
when living tissue is exposed to cosmic rays or whatever is up there.
Don't you see what could happen?" Bill was hoarse from fright and
shouting. "Smother everything, grow and grow and smother ..."

Carol was at the ship-to-shore. "What time is it, Carol?"

"I don't know. 5:30 I guess."

"They plan to open the ejection chamber at six. We've got to tell them
what happened here before they open it! Hurry with the damned Coast
Guard!"

"May Day! May Day! Coast Guard come in. This is the _Seven Seas_. Come
in and hurry!"

"Coast Guard to the _Seven Seas_. Come in."

Bill grabbed the phone. "Listen carefully," he said in a quiet
determined voice. "This is God's own truth. I repeat: This is God's own
truth. The remains of the dog we discovered last night have started to
grow. It is growing as we look at it. It has covered the entire island
as far as we can see, with fur. Stinking yellow and black fur. We've got
to get word to Washington before they open up the satellite. The same
thing could happen there. Do you understand? I must get in touch with
Washington. Immediately!"

There was no mistaking the urgency and near-panic in Bill's voice. The
Coast Guard returned with "We understand you _Seven Seas_. We will clear
a line directly to Dr. Killian in Washington. Stand by."

With his hand shaking, Bill turned on the standard broadcast band of the
portable RDF. A voice cut in: "... latest reports from Walter Reed
General Hospital where the first human-manned satellite ejection chamber
has just been opened. All leading physiologists and physicists were
assembled at the hospital by midnight last night and plans to open the
ejection chamber at 6 a.m. this morning were moved up. The chamber was
opened at 4 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today. Our first report confirmed
that volunteer moon traveller, the man in the moon, Robert Joy, was no
longer alive. Hope had been abandoned for him some 80 hours previous,
when recording instruments on his body processes indicated no reactions.
Of scientific curiosity is the fact that though dead for more than three
days, his body is in a perfect state of preservation ...

"Flash! We interrupt this special newscast for a late bulletin: The body
of Robert Joy has begun to shoot out unexplained appendages, like
rapidly growing cancerous growths. His integument appears to be
enlarging, growing away from his body ..."

"Hello _Seven Seas_," broke in the ship-to-shore. "We are still trying
to locate Dr. Killian...."


                                                                   END



Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _If Worlds of Science Fiction_ June
    1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.





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