Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 1, Part 2

(I'm really, really sorry about the dogs, you guys. It just had to happen, is all.)


Dell also did not register the next time she ran into a potato oddity. Her friend Abel had been trying to plant potatoes in the clay soil of his back yard in the new house he had bought for pennies when the housing market fell apart.  The plants did well—he had bought seed potatoes, after all—but they bore the most pathetic, peanut sized tubers. Shriveled. Toxic looking.

Dell stood out back with him and watched as he leaned on his garden spade and and kicked at the scrawny new potatoes with his booted foot, scowling in angry perplexity.

“I don’t know why you don’t just buy the frozen  kind.” She said. “They come in PLAIN you know.”

Abel stared at Dell as if her head had just shrunk up as small as his peanuty  taters. 

“Do you know what they PUT in that stuff, Dell?” he asked.

“I’m just saying you don’t have to get the cheese kind.”


In other arenas, things were starting to go awry as well. Chickens stopped laying eggs, for instance. And when they did lay, after serious buoying up with meta-supplements of all kinds, they would drop eggs that had no shell at all. Just plop onto the egg beltway an egg ready for the frying pan. Sometimes the eggs would come out black and cancerous. Literally cancerous. The egg industry hid this from the general public of course, and egg prices rose accordingly just as they had always done in times of scarcity. It was just supply and demand driving the market as usual.

Without eggs, of course, there could be no more new chickens.

Which came last: the chicken or the egg?

Fishing nets had been coming up nearly empty or filled with plastic water bottles for decades so that was nothing new. Still. It was a sign, if anyone had cared to act on it.

People were used to species dying out all over the planet. Since they were things like skinks or South American Rain Forest green frogs, nobody much cared.

And then all the dogs died. They just up and died.  The big ones, tiny teacup ones, show dogs and working dogs: which hardly seemed fair because working dogs worked. Keeping the flocks safe and guiding the blind to their destinations.

Scientists thought it had something to do with a time bomb strand of DNA. At least that is how Dell understood it when they finally announced the explanation for it. Something coded into a dog’s DNA that caused the entire species to die out almost instantaneously. Like an “off” switch.  

Dog on. Dog off. Doggone.

Dell thought it was most likely that Mother Earth, who seemed to be making a clean sweep of things all around, just didn’t like listening to them bark anymore. Oh sure those cute little muffin faced ones you could dress like an Ewok and carry in your purse were adorable, but they did yip so! If you really listened to the world, back before the changes, you could hear a dog barking almost anywhere almost anytime. It could drown out the birds for sure.

There was a lot of uproar and sadness when the dogs died. Grief-stricken people were everywhere, talking about their beloved deceased. Quite a few made laminated placards they could wear around their neck with a picture of their dead dog as kind of a conversation starter. God forbid you get in line behind a woman wearing a Westie placard if the cashier also had a Westie. You might as well leave the line and go stand in another even if it was longer. Even if you only had 3 items and it was the fast lane.

People needed replacement pets. There were just too many that could not live without an animal to feed, pamper, and poop scoop. It was hard, though. Dog people were not likely to suddenly take an interest in cats. Or parakeets. And monkeys were still illegal and you couldn’t take a boa constrictor out to hunt or teach it to fetch a stick in the park.

Pigs became the next best option. Not the pot-bellied kind, which were slow and rather sedentary, not to mention butt ugly when full grown. People wanted the larger pigs; ones that would stay lean and be good outdoor companions.  It wasn’t long before American Yorkshires were a common sight. Durocs, Hampshires, Berkshires. Spotted pigs filled the slot left so empty by the loss of the Dalmatian.

Backyard breeders sprung up everywhere and signs were changed from ‘curb your dog’ to ‘curb your pig’.  Breeders touting ‘teacup pigs’ advertised everywhere even though it was pretty much common knowledge that a ‘teacup’ pig, when full grown, could reach 80 lbs, easy.

All in all, the keen loss of Canis lupis familiaris was easily tempered by the  advent of the household pig. Adjustments in living were relatively slight—having to move to a ground floor apartment, for instance, because pigs can’t climb  stairs—just meant that building managers were able to designate first-floor apartments as pig-pet-zones, leaving the upper floors for cat, bird, and other small animals.

Pork belly futures fell to an all time low. People just didn’t want to eat ham now that Fido was a pig.

But if Mother Nature, in her world-wide species cleansing campaign, had hoped to eliminate the possibility of large packs of wild dogs attacking whatever was left of life by wiping out the dogs right from the git-go, She did not take into consideration how quickly man could breed pigs. And how quickly pigs--lean, feral and razor backed--could decimate an eco-system; trash buildings; tear down fences; chomp through wooden foundations.

But it really wasn’t long at all before there were bigger problems at hand than 10 pigs per litter and a growing stray pig population knocking over garbage cans and biting children who tried to pet them.

The scientists, who had enough sense and scientific know-how to probe further into the mysterious deaths of millions of dogs, started to take a good hard look at the junk DNA that was part of the human wiring.

What if there were other trip-wires in there? What if humans had a timer and a self-destruct sequence?



Anonymous said...

"Dog on. Dog off. Doggone." Don't know why I found that funny, but I laughed out loud.

I'm hooked on your story......just hope my DNA has no time bombs!

Queen Q

Miss Pink Ponsonby said...

Oh, you left me a comment! I"m so happy!
Yes, doggone was supposed to be funny in fact the whole thing should be a laugh riot but that remains to be seen. It's HARD to write. My brains are just mush so it's really a push. But I'm enjoying it anyway. It seems to be taking a long time to get to the good parts though where she gets to shop for free and live at IKEA if she wants to.