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Science Fiction Fantasy Contemporary

                                      Moon Unit 

          Caroline suspected there was something awry even before she adopted the dog, her first dog ever,  the dog she pictured accompanying her on long brisk walks and curling up in her bed, keeping her warm. Whereas the other dogs ran up to the front of the cages, their goofy eagerness insisting, “Me! Me! Me!”, the dog they called Terra just looked up from sleep in mild appraisal. “She’s different,” the shelter volunteer said by way of explanation. “She’s not aggressive or anything like that. She’s just…different.”

       “Different how?”

       “Well, she sleeps during the day and stays up all night. We call her our ‘third watch’ dog. Almost like her previous owner worked the night shift and she got the habit from him sleeping all day.”

        “Did her owner work the third shift?”

        “No, none of them did. There were three that we know of. She was a street dog before that.  They all brought her back. They couldn’t get a wink of sleep. She paces and howls. Poor girl.”

        “What will happen if no one adopts her?”

        The volunteer averted her eyes. “She’s on the euthanasia list.”

        “I’ll take her,” Caroline said. It came out just like that. And so she did and Terra seemed happy enough to go along for the ride, hopping on the back seat of the Jetta eager to be taken away from That Place. She was probably just stressed, Caroline thought. Probably just lonely. She gobbled her food and lapped up water and curled up at Caroline’s feet while she watched the end of the late afternoon news. And then it got dark and Terra went to the window and began to howl.

         “You look like you could use some sleep,” 

           Caroline opened her eyes and smiled sheepishly at the school nurse. “My new puppy kept me awake,” she said, not bothering to explain that the ‘puppy’ was five years old. 

           The nurse nodded sympathetically. “I’ve been there. It takes time. Use wee wee pads if you can’t get her outside during the night on school nights. She’ll get the hang of it.”

           “Thanks,” Caroline said through a yawn. “I’ll try that. At least I’m just a substitute here. I have whole days when I can catch up on my sleep.”

             The ‘mild sedative’ from the vet office didn’t work. Neither did the melatonin suggested by her sister-in-law or the lavender aromatherapy recommended by the groomer; it just made both of them sneeze. The full moon was too bright. It beckoned her: look at me! LOOK AT ME! Terra’s paw had already clawed through the blackout shade. Now she sat on her haunches, her cry starting deep in her throat. Twice a neighbor knocked on her door and implored, could you please keep your dog quiet? The third time he left out the ‘please.’

              “Oh, Terra, what am I going to do with you?”

             “I don’t want to give her more drugs,” Caroline told the vet. “They don’t help. They turn her into a zombie. And she still howls at the moon.”

             The vet gave her the name of a trainer who gave her the name of a pet behaviorist who gave her the name of the same vet she’d been seeing and again the drugs didn’t stop her from her nocturnal obsession. And again Caroline fell asleep in the break room at school. A tap on her shoulder jarred her awake. “I heard about your predicament,” Mr. Grimes, the science teacher said. “Maybe I can help.” He jotted down a name on a steno pad and tore out the page. “She’s a pet psychic and very good at what she does. She told me what was wrong with my dog and now 

he’s a totally different animal. If it’s what I think it is, we can both help you.”

         “What is it?”

         “Let her tell you and we’ll go from there. You look like you could use a cup of coffee. Allow me.”

         The psychic looked like a CPA, dressed in business attire and carrying a briefcase, but her business card billed her as Madame Luna. “Seriously?” Caroline realized that she had offended her right from the start and wished she could take that back. What her real name was didn’t matter; she was here to help Terra, whose ears twitched at the sight of her. “She’s lovely,” Madame Luna cooed. “Lovely.” Terra wagged her tail. “Please allow us a few minutes alone together. I believe Terra has some things she wants to say to me.”

           Caroline sucked in her breath and stepped in her kitchen, where she thought she wouldn’t be seen.  

            “Can you please leave altogether for a bit?” Madame Luna implored. “Terra will be fine with me. I won’t steal anything if that’s what you’re worried about.”

            I guess she can read minds after all, Caroline thought, grabbing a sweater on her way out, hoping for the best.

              When she came back, Madame Luna wasn’t the only person in her living room; Mr. Grimes was there too and her floor looked like a roomful of preschoolers had just left after scattering crumpled up papers and glitter all over the place– or at least what looked like glitter except on close examination it didn’t sparkle. Terra was sleeping peacefully on her Sherpa dog bed. It was dark out. 

             “What is this?   What happened here?” She turned to Mr. Grimes. “How’d you get here?”

             “He’s my husband. Your dog just missed where she came from, dear. All of this, this memorabilia, is making her feel truly at home.”

            “She was mostly a street dog,” Caroline said, echoing what she’d been told at the shelter. 

            “Ah, but what street? She might have been found on the street, but her origins are from another street, one less traveled, one that you have never traveled. Her roots go back to the Sea of Tranquility. All of what you see here is moon debris, articles about how her ancestors’ genetic codes were disturbed by the moon landing and regenerated here on Earth and forced to be like other dogs. Every dog in the genetic line was affected.”

             “This is all too weird. How did you come to have moon debris?” 

             “Look at your dog. Look how relaxed she is. We could take all of this away and see how she does.”

              “No..no……how many dogs were there that were affected?”

             “Tens of thousands around the world. Probably much more by now  This is what she needed to adjust to being here, this mess.  And for God’s sake, change that silly name! She doesn’t like it.”

             From that fateful day forward, the dog formerly known as Terra responded happily  to the name Sky and when the sun set every night, she slept like a fallen star.

                                                            #

August 04, 2023 20:47

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2 comments

Joseph Peck
11:42 Aug 18, 2023

Interesting premise, I have only seen one idea like this before, and it was in Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated and it was a bit more extreme than this. This was more on the cute and fluffy side.

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Turey Rosa
21:18 Aug 16, 2023

Moon Unit is a captivating and creatively spun story that delves into the unique relationship between Caroline and her adopted dog, Terra, later known as Sky. The narrative skillfully weaves in elements of the moon and lunar themes, adding a distinct and imaginative layer to the tale. The portrayal of Terra's nighttime howling and Caroline's struggle to find a solution tugs at the heartstrings, creating a relatable connection for any pet owner. The introduction of Mr. Grimes and his unexpected connection to Terra's lunar origins adds an in...

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