A Bitch and Her Boy

by Anne N. Mouse

Tags: mt/Fa,

Desc: Time Travel Story: This story gives some background on what is happening in On Dog Creek. It is not in any way connected except that it is in the same universe.

I fell through the cracks in time before I was finished with my training. I was, as every other E-Dog destined to be a combat specialist. The main reason for that is that ever since the big crash the world has been at war. I don't mean just in some far off place but nearly total war in all nations at all times.

Of course there are places that are reinforced where research takes place, and things like myself are created. I suspect that it was in some one of those labs that someone came up with the effect that had cracked time. Maybe it had started as a weapon, or maybe it was just an experiment, no one had told me and since science was not in my area of specialty I might never know what had caused time to fracture and randomly dump people and animals backward and forward in time from the original fracture point. I'm not sure that we would even know what was happening with the fracture of time if some of the disappearances from the future had not ended up here and now.

I knew that the theory was that what ever had fractured time had been deployed as a weapon as several battlefields had been rendered places of peace because armies could no longer operate there without losing more people to the cracks in time than to the battles. Without going too much further into details I have never learned, what I do know about the fracture of time is that until I fell through a crack while on a training exercise there had not been an instance of cracked time anywhere except on a battlefield.

Of course a MOUT course that might just have had an enemy, not just OP-FOR sneak in overnight was closer to a battlefield than I'd ever been before. Thus I was rushing from cover to cover when I saw the shimmer that had been described by people who had fallen from an up-time crack. I didn't have time to change direction or otherwise dodge as I was rushing directly for the spot that had become an unstable locus of time. I had no choice except to go forward into the crack in time with no more idea of what was on the other side than I had of the weather at any moment a week from today.

I did my best to make myself smaller as I went through the rift in time and hoped for the best on the other side. If I went forward I'd be adopted into some unit that existed then and continue to train to be a dog of war. If I slid backward through time there was a small chance that I would slide to a time before the conflict that had fractured time began. Until I saw what was on the other side of the rift though I could make no decision except to keep moving.

The first thing I became aware of when my stomach stopped trying to eject everything I'd eaten for the last week was the absence of the stench of war. The stench of civilization had not disappeared though so I hoped I had not been spotted appearing essentially from thin air. I was I had a moment to notice coming from either an alley or an alcove onto a rather busy side walk. I didn't have time to think more than that I was glad I had not been dropped into the middle of the traffic in front of me, and that I had not as some of those who had arrived from my future been dropped from a height that was either injurious or deadly.

The next thing I became aware of is that my momentum had carried me into a street where I'd knocked a lad of indeterminate age from the path of an approaching vehicle. For an unplanned entry into a new area I could only have done better if I'd not been dropped into a city. After I got untangled from the youth's legs and had a chance to evaluate him I realized two things. First that he was most likely a beggar and second that he was deaf. I deduced that the youth was a beggar because of the stench of his unwashed body. The fact of his deafness I learned from the passing foot traffic some of whom kicked as us and cursed the fact that the deaf lad had not managed to get himself killed today.

I suppose that I could have had a worse first contact in my new home but as I was still alive and in possession of all of my personal survival gear I would not complain. I decided while I waited for a few more minutes for my system to settle down that the youth who I'd bumped out of traffic could use my help since there have never been any records of a person returning to the time from which they slipped when they enter a time rift.

As soon as the youth I'd knocked out of the road way began to struggle to get to his feet I used my body bulk to move him further from the traffic way that we'd just barely managed to avoid being killed in. I could tell by the general tenor of the voices around us that there were those who were all for completing the job of killing at least the youth.

I spotted an opening in the faces of the buildings that lined the sidewalk where we were. I decided that moving us both into that area would be a good idea if it wasn't subject to the heavy traffic that the sidewalk where we were now essentially causing a ripple in the flow of humanity that was at least benevolently ignoring us now that I was moving my boy along and he was avoiding at least the people to his front. A quick survey of the setback showed that it was closed off by a gate which made it perfect for getting out of the foot traffic that I wanted desperately to avoid while I evaluated my situation.

When I stopped pushing my boy he sat down and began to beg from the people who were passing by which confirmed my estimation that he made any living he had as a beggar. He had a sign that had been among the noisome rags he wore that said, "Help, I'm deaf and hungry."

He sat barely out of the traffic stream while I evaluated my options. I could attach myself to him, and probably would. I also wondered who had made his sign. As he was deaf and apparently did not have a coherent sign language I took that to mean that the time I'd been transported to was either far enough in my future or past that such a possibility had not been exercised in the life of my boy.

The data that my nose brought me beyond the fact of my new companion's lack of hygiene was the fact of nonexistent civil hygiene as well. There was an overwhelming miasma of ordure pervading the place that I knew would damp down my ability to detect danger and opportunities to provide myself and my companion with a living beyond the few meager coins that were being hurled rather like stones at my boy. I hesitated to leave him but after an hour in which the only movement he made was to stand, turn his back to the sidewalk and piss on the gate of the setback I decided that a short reconnaissance of the area was in order.

I first explored the gate at the back of the setback and noted that there was room enough for me to squeeze past it. I didn't do that immediately but took the time to poke my head out of the alcove and examine the street as well. I could see the signs of a tailor's shop and that of a milliner as well. I was hoping to see either a butcher's shop or a bakery but saw neither from my place on the sidewalk. I looked around for a way to get above the level of the sidewalk as I rather thought that would be better than standing on my hind legs and possibly revealing how different I was from a normal dog.

I spotted a set of steps about ten meters from where I'd holed up with my boy and decided that I would observe them for a while to estimate the amount of traffic that passed up and down them. Therefore is sat next to my boy and kept one eye on him and the other (so to speak) on the stairs I wanted to explore. Patience is a virtue that is not easy for the young of any species to exercise and I expect that if my boy had not been on the edge of starvation he would not have been nearly so willing to sit still and be bombarded by hard flung coppers in a desperate effort to survive.

I knew that if I could find a place where food was stored or prepared I could make a fair living catching vermin. Heck I wouldn't even have to use traps for a while if the vermin were unused to being hunted. I sat down next to the boy I'd bowled over and now claimed as my responsibility. I listened to the passersby for information that they might give us both, though my boy could not hear it. Sitting up I soon learned attracted the sort of attention that I wanted to avoid. More than one passerby commented on the fact that I looked like I could not possibly belong to the beggar boy with whom I was sitting.

A couple of times when some one reached for my harness and pack I showed them my teeth. I really would rather not have done so, but I could ill afford to let anyone investigate the contents of my pack or the items that were attached to my harness. For if I'd fallen to an earlier time the discovery that I was carrying a watch, a pistol, a knife and a small but very effective crossbow would raise many questions that would not be healthy for me.

I laid down in a hope that I would attract less attention. I didn't want to abandon my pack or my Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) because it had many tools that would make survival easier for me. Of course I had to weigh the convenience of keeping my tools versus the attention that their carrying apparatus was drawing. With that in mind I began backing subtly toward the gate that closed this setback. I really wanted to get out of sight. I wanted to take my boy with me if I could. Not that I thought that was likely since he was getting some small change, but if I could get out of sight I would get under one of the nearby buildings and secrete my gear there if possible. Taking my boy with me would excuse to anyone my ability to remove the gear without revealing the fact that my front feet had been modified by genetic engineering into hands. My fingers might be somewhat stubby but they were every bit as useful for tool use as those of any ape.

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Story tagged with:
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