Laika Wins the Race

by Bryan Hinojosa

There’s not much in space; it’s a vacuum.  You could travel all day and all night and never encounter anything worthwhile in space.  And the reason for this sorry state of affairs is the fact that when God was creating everything, He didn’t bother to put anything out in space.  He never even considered the possibility that humans could make it that far, and who can blame Him?  If He had actually thought that humans would one day leave the planet, He probably would have put something out there, made it a bit more interesting.  So God, other than some planets and stars and things, pretty much left space empty.

He never really gave any thought about humans in space until, after a few ages of Man had passed, great empires began to assemble.  And in the cities of the empires, great towering structures began ascending into the sky.  And God saw it and said:

“Wow.  Look at that.  With their trigonometry and soil mechanics and metallurgy and such, these humans can do anything.  Imagine the messes they’ll stir up.”  He paused and surveyed their greatest creations: pyramids and mausoleums, statues and lighthouses.  “They wouldn’t possibly be able to…”  He paused.  “Wouldn’t that be crazy if these humans made it off the planet?   It is possible, now that I think about it.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Wow.”

After He had thought it over for a while, God decided that He should do something in the event of a human leaving the planet, something to mark such a grand and singular occasion.

“You know, I think that if someone actually gets off that planet, I’ll make the first one up a god.  Not nearly as great as Me, of course, but I’ll give him all sorts of powers.  I’ll even give him his own plane of existence to play around with.”  After devising the contest, God made His pronouncement: “Whosoever is the first to leave the earth and enter space shall be made a god, like unto Me.”  Humans never actually heard the pronouncement, but each and every one was inspired by it.  And since that time, even though they were unaware of God’s actual edict, humans have always sought to reach the heavens.

And so the humans built and built, ever upward, inventing all types of odd devices to ascend to the heights: monoliths, trebuchets, kites, aeromobiles, gyrocopters, but, for the time being, God took little notice.  When a young scientist in Europe launched a rocket that scratched the boundaries of space, however, God began to watch a bit closer.   It would only be a short time from then that God would reward the winner of His millennia-old competition.

Laika was a frisky, carefree husky mix that had roamed the streets of Moscow until she was picked up by a Russian aeronautical engineer.  When the scientist caught the cheerful mutt, Laika was more concerned with the man’s sausage than with his motives.  She was not even that upset when he caged her, seeing as how he had fed her and all.  Some of the girls back at the lab, all of whom loved the sweet husky, named her Kudryavka—Little Curly—but most people just called her Laika—Barker—even though she herself was unaware of such things as names.

Laika remained caged up in the lab for several months, but she was growing fat off of human-food and didn’t really mind all that much.  Even though Laika was sad at night when everyone left, she still enjoyed her time at the lab.  And Laika loved it in the morning, when first the janitors, then the beloved lab girls, and finally the scientists would file in for the day.  Laika was always so excited to see each and every one.  She was walked regularly and fed well and her health was a prime concern of the scientists there.

Laika would come to learn that the scientists were building another, far more elaborate cage, a cabin almost, for her.  They placed her inside the cabin several times during its construction process, to see if she would fit.  And although it restricted her movements much more than her cage, Laika soon discovered that the cabin featured a time-release food and water dispensing machine and became very excited at feeding times.

One day, the scientists threw a party and all of the lab girls came and kissed her and hugged her goodbye and Laika was shipped off on a thirteen-hour train ride.  When she arrived, she was allowed to rest, but early the next day, she was roused, fed, bathed and placed inside her cabin.  Eventually, the small chamber was pressurized, and even though she would have been incapable of understanding an idea like air pressure, Laika was still aware that something was amiss and was apprehensive for some minutes.  Suddenly, the cabin lurched upwards, quickly.  Laika froze, then started barking.  Things calmed down and Laika was even allowed a small snack before her journey.   After her treat, she dozed off for a bit.

After everything had been calm for a while, the cabin exploded into a horrific roaring and Laika was pressed hard.  She felt as if she were falling upward very fast through dry water.  The feeling terrified Laika; she urinated; she passed out.

When Laika awoke, she was floating.  Even though she was harnessed tight, she panicked.  Laika would have urinated again, but she was all dry inside.  After some minutes, she became adjusted to the sensation of weightlessness, and even dozed for a bit.

Laika was largely unaware of what was going on.  She reacted to the cabin and the weightlessness much as she would react to a cage or a train ride.  All Laika knew was that something was going on that she couldn’t control.  Had Laika some greater concept of the world around her, she might realize that she was floating in a realm unknown to all others except for one.

When feeding time came around, Laika was exceedingly surprised to find that her water and kibble, when they were released, floated about the room.   Tracking down all the pieces of hovering dog food and wandering globules of water while she was harnessed kept Laika entertained for the better part of the rest of her life.  For four days Laika gently floated in her harness in her cabin and tried to catch all of the drifting morsels.  Soon, though, she was startled as her little cabin gave some strong jerks and then righted itself.

Unknown to her, her ship had bounced off of the atmosphere, which rendered the thermal control system inoperative.  Within minutes the interior of Laika’s cabin had soared to over 500 degrees Celsius.  Laika didn’t live long enough to feel the cabin reach 500 degrees, but she was acutely aware that the temperature was rising fast.  She began to panic.  She urinated.  She started barking, howling, imploring anyone, anything to come and help her.  She was being killed; she could feel it.  She yelped weakly.  Her heart nearly burst with each diastole.  The temperature of her blood began to rise; her brain started frying from the heat.  It is unclear what gave up first, Laika’s brain or her heart, but either way, she died in her super-heated cabin.

And it was then that God appeared to Laika.

People say that God created humans in His own image.  That’s completely wrong; it’s almost the opposite, actually.  Many humans have just assumed that God looks like them because it’s a comforting thought.  Other, more imaginative people still assumed the gods looked like humans, but threw on a dog’s head or bird’s wings or something, just to make things interesting.  But Laika had only the loosest conception of self-image, which prompted God to appear to her in the form that most resembled the one authority figure that Laika felt strong emotions for: her mother.  Of course, God looked a lot more glorious than Laika’s mom, but the resemblance was striking.  At that instant, when Laika’s corporeal body expired, she saw a big, radiant husky approach her through the murk of death.

God, through a haze of brilliant light and golden flame that emanated from His dogbody, spoke:

“Wow.  I never saw this coming.   I never dreamed that they’d send up a dog first.”

Laika’s reaction could be rendered thusly:

“Who are you?  It’s so good to see you!  Hooray!  Here he is!  Do you smell cheese?  I’m so glad you’re here!   I’m so glad to see you!  Do you have food?  Hooray!  I’m so glad you’re here!”

“Uh… sure,” God responded.  He was in quite the quandary.  He had given His Word.  But should He actually deify this dog?  Omnipotence and another plane of existence might be considered a bit of a waste on a dog.  What should He do?  He looked at Laika.  She was as excited as ever.  Well, she should be, she’s meeting God.  Yet He wondered if she got this worked up over a mouse or a piece of bread.  Probably more so.  What was He going to do with this dog?

“Daughter,” He said to Laika, “I am God.”

“Yippee!  It’s so great to see you!”

“… Yes… I created all the world and everything in it, including you.”

“Hooray!  Do you have food?  It’s so good to see you!”

“Yes… you’ve already mentioned that.  Anyway, now I’m supposed to make you a god, or goddess I guess, and I’m having second thoughts.”

“Great!  It’s so good to see you!”

“Would you like to… become a goddess, daughter?”

“Yippee!  Let’s play!  I’m so glad you’re here!”

“You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

“It’s just fantastic that you’re here!  I smell rain.  I’m so glad to see you!”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” God said, “but a contest’s a contest.”

Then God, with His godly powers, willed Laika to become Her own goddess, in Her own realm.

God ignored Laika and Her realm for a couple of millennia.  He almost forgot about Her, actually.  More ages of Man came and passed.  Then one day, He recalled Laika and said, “Oh yeah.  I made a dog into a god once.  I wonder what ever happened to that crazy dog?”  He had given Her a dimension all Her own, to do with as She pleased.  God now ventured towards that place.

The dimension was made up of rolling plains, with many streams and a couple of copses of generic trees.  Laikas ran about all over the place. Omnipresence allows for one to be in all places within one’s realm; omniscience allows for one to know all things within one’s realm.  Yet, instead of processing all this info en masse, through one perspective, or perhaps because She was unable to process it, Laika had split Herself into many millions of Laikas, each of which ran around, performing a given Laika task.  Each and every Laika, through all her different forms, was just as glorious and awesome as God was, when He appeared to Her.

There were many Laika hunters, which chased the many animals of Laika’s own invention that ran all about.  Some of the creatures possessed feline heads, some squirrel tails, others rabbit ears; there were even some winged creatures.  The only things they had in common were that they were all furry, quick, and exploded in delicious blood whenever a Laika caught one.

In one field there were thousands of Laika mothers suckling thousands of Laika puppies on thousands on Laika teats.  In another, quite disturbing field, thousands of Laikas were being rutted on by thousands of hearty, fertile mastiff studs.  In another field, which at first was quite haunting and then quite dull, thousands of Laikas slept, and if one never heard the gentle humming caused by their snores, one might think it was the scene of a mass death.

When He entered Laika’s realm, God was struck by the absence of color and overabundance of smells.  The smallness of the place also surprised Him.  Laika had limitless space to develop, yet She had only bothered to fashion about three square miles.  He was quite displeased with the state of the dimension.

“I’ve given Her thousands of years to do something with this place.  Hardly anything has been done at all.”  He looked at the ground.  “There’s even dogshit everywhere!  If She’s too stupid to fashion Herself in such a manner as to negate the act of shitting, She could at least create something to clean it all up.   Why, there’s not even a sun,” He said as He glanced at the sky and noted the dull light that came from no discernible source.  “I will have to speak with Her.   Laika!”

Laika had been largely unaware, or unconcerned, with God’s presence until He spoke.  At the sound of His voice, all action stopped and every Laika turned toward God, in one, solid motion.  He was somewhat taken aback at the sight of millions of Laikas staring at Him, with their soft, brown, puppy-dog eyes.  Because they were so ill-thought-out, all of Laika’s chasing animals and studs disappeared with a poof when She ceased to pay attention to them.

Then the Laikas’ world exploded with sound and action as every single Laika rushed forward to greet God, who they saw as their resplendent mother-goddess.  He was overcome with the horde.  He tried to speak to the mass, but His voice was overcome in the storm of barking Laikas:

“He’s here!  Who are you?  I’m so glad to see you!  Play with me!  It’s great that you’re here!  Do you have food?  Hazzah!  He’s here!  Let’s run!  It’s so great that you’re here!” and so on and so forth, but perhaps in an exponential form of the nonsense.

“Back!  Back!” He thundered.  “Down! Heel!”

Yet it was useless.  He couldn’t stop the throng, tails all wagging, tongues all lolling.  And the puppy Laikas were worse than the rest.  He stomped, He growled.  Nothing worked.

God was taken aback.  These millions of Laikas had become comfortable with Their many forms.  Over the millennia, They had come to know this realm as well He knew His own.  God was out of His element.  Even though it was His Will and His Word that had allowed this plane of existence to come into being, it was now Laika’s Will that fueled its existence.  This was no longer God’s country.  It was the Laikaverse, and he was not the top dog here.

“Forget this,” God said.  He rent a hole in the Laikaverse, and zipped through it, back into His own realm.  “Stupid dog,” He muttered.  “Waste a dimension on a stupid dog.”

And then God heard a little voice say to Him, “Where are We now?  It smells interesting here!”

God looked down.  Standing next to Him was the most adorable little Laika puppy that anyone could ever imagine.

“Wow,” said God.  “This is not good.”

The precious little Laika godpuppy looked, sniffed, heard—sensed—the universe, a small portion of which She recognized, and She was overwhelmed.  The omniscient dog was bombarded by an unimaginable amount of stimuli and was, by Herself, in Her current form, unable to process it all.  In response, the Laika puppy’s consciousness fractured, splitting up into trillions of distinct perceptive entities, each willing into existence its own body to inhabit.  These individual Laikas spread at thousands of times the speed of light.  As fast as divine thought, the universe, our universe, the one our descendents will inhabit, became full of Laikas.  On Earth, billions of Laikas burst into existence, destroying most of the living matter on the planet.  Although some of those humans who were somewhat able to perceive what had happened thought that having creation overrun by cute dogs was not the worst way to go.

And that’s how the world ends, for humans anyway.  God is slowly but surely reclaiming the universe back for Himself, but it’s worse than trying to exterminate roaches.

BRYAN HINOJOSA learned early on that dreamers go unsalaried, and instead shot for the profession that he saw as the most similar: writer of Things That Are Never To Be. The efficacy of this current plan is yet to be assessed. He has attended school at Texas Tech U (in a desert) and the U of Louisiana @ Lafayette (in a swamp). Mr. Hinojosa suffers from allergies. He thinks it’s cliché to worship Bruce Lee, but damn, have you seen that guy? Mr. Hinojosa doesn’t necessarily desire the end of the world, but would appreciate being able see it go down.

One thought on “Laika Wins the Race

  1. Dreamers may go sans salary but they are so much cooler than the rest of us.
    And isn’t coolness a more valuable currency?
    Enjoyable piece.

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