Wednesday Words – Laika
After hearing the Jonathan Coulton song Space Doggity, I’ve become obsessed with Laika. The first living creature, from Earth, to orbit Earth (as far as we know). Listening to Jonathan’s song he really captures how amazing and how incredibly tragic the whole thing was. Of course in listening to the song I’ve begun reading a lot of the information there is out there about this poor dog. Her story has inspired me to write some fiction based on her. There have been some fiction stories of ‘what really happened’ where Laika doesn’t die and goes on to several outer space adventures. I believe there’s even a video game to that effect. I wanted to try something different. I want to rewrite history by writing about what would have happened had she returned to earth safely. This is that story.
By Grant Baciocco
The landing was hard. Maybe the hardest thing about the whole trip. I learned later, listening to some of the men, that one of the descent parachutes failed to open and while two of the chutes deployed to make the landing survivable, it was still rough. The ocean is not that forgiving when you hit it at 100 miles per hour. But I landed and the first indication I received that I was back was how I instantly felt heavier. Much heavier. Much different from how I felt up there.
The next thing I noticed was the constant bobbing of the capsule. Firm indication I was in the water. The confined space and the bobbing were making me queasy and I’m not ashamed to say I got a little sick. It was sometime later that I felt a strong jerk on the capsule. Then another and, just faintly, through the thick metal walls I heard voices. Of course my tail started going a million miles an hour. People. I love people, even though they did this to me, I was glad that soon I was going to see people.
Several minutes later, the hatch opened. Yes, people! I barked excitedly and they all seemed as happy to see me as I was them. I was hoisted up out of the cabin and into the arms of the Doctor who I saw before I left. I kissed him appropriately about the face. His laughter music to my ears. All the men there were happy to see me and I got more petting in those first few minutes than I had in my life. Some men broke into song. It all seemed to be focused on me. As if I did something special. I didn’t. I just went where I was told and now I was back. This made my people happy so it made me happy.
The Doctor took me to a white room and checked me all over. He seemed content with my condition and let me rejoin the rest of the men. That night I got a steak for dinner and more petting and more songs. I should go into the capsule more often.
The next morning we arrived home. There were even more people there to cheer me and pet me. Lots of people took my photograph. They gave speeches in my honor. They shook my paw. They kept saying the word hero. I’m just a dog.
After a long day and night of this, I was soon in the car. My head out the window. I love going fast. We made a right and my heart started beating fast. We were close to home. I started barking. My tail about to wag itself off. THe car slowed. Stopped. The door opened and I leapt out.