This is a short story about dogs taking over the world called “Schmedley” that I originally wrote when I was a 22-year-old college guy in 1990-something. I’m also doing an audio version in three parts for the Scriblets podcast. Part one is ready for your ears now…
Hi. My name is not Bo Bo. My name is Victor Kennedy. I am thirty-seven years of age. I used to be a fairly successful businessman. I’m not crazy. l am NOT crazy. l am writing this for all the humans of the future – assuming there will be any to read it – and I’m going to bury it with my Rolex and my favorite chew toy in a secret place in hopes that someone will find it. This will stand as a record of the downfall of humanity for the beings of the future. Who knows when it all started? I will begin from where it started for me, about six months ago. . .
I lived in a small suburban home alone. My only companionship at the homestead was a golden retriever named Schmedley. I loved that dog. Jill, a coworker of mine, had given him to me as a puppy. I raised him myself. Did all the paper training. Taught him to fetch the morning paper. He could sit, roll over, play dead, even tum on the TV. He was a good dog.
My house had been broken into not even a week before I got Schmedley. The perpetrators had taken nothing from my house except for my entire supply of underwear and a half-opened package of Oscar Mayer wieners. This upset me more than if they had taken money. It was weird. They were never caught. Even though Schmedley was only a puppy at the time, the thought of having a dog in the house eased my paranoia a bit. Within three weeks, Schmedley was full grown. That stuck me as odd for a moment, but with the schedule I keep at the office even the most bizarre events can slip my mind.
When I’d leave for work in the mornings, I’d release Schmedley into the backyard, a good-sized plot of land ripe for bar-b-ques and small get-togethers. A seven-foot-high wooden fence outlines the perimeter of the back yard, so I felt safe to let the dog roam. He couldn’t get out and he wouldn’t let anyone but me in.
I came home one evening to find the gate to the fence swinging open. Worried about what may have happened, perhaps a break in, I examined the latch and found no tear on it. It had simply been opened. Schmedley was gone.
Two days passed before he returned. He didn’t show any signs of injury or malnutrition, but out of shear happiness to have him back I let him stay in the house for a night. The next day l purchased a yard stake and a twenty-foot rope and installed them in the middle of the back yard.
Schmedley was unhappy to be tied at first but after a few days he seemed to have dealt with it. Again, I felt comfortable to leave him in the back when I was gone. The rope allowed enough distance for him to get at any intruders that might decide to poke around my property.
A few weeks later I returned from work as usual to find Schmedley sitting like the Sphinx right next to the metal yard stake. The rope laid neatly coiled beside him. Too neatly. Upon seeing me, his tail began wagging furiously. Now, this in itself was not an odd thing. What was odd was the way he did this. The air about it was different, almost phony, as if I had caught him doing something he shouldn’t have been doing and he was jumping to say “Oh! Victor! I didn’t know you were there!” I swear the expression on his face before he saw me, before he tried to prove nothing was “up” was… contemplative.
I turned my attention back to the rope. Schmedley had scattered and pulled it awry when he leaped up, but I remembered it being coiled. Sitting beside him. With one paw resting on it. I did not know what to think. The best I could manage, a neighborhood kid had somehow gotten in. Schmedley did like children. He could have allowed a young boy or girl in if he wanted to.
That must’ve been it, I thought.
The next two days were normal. Although, at this point, I hadn’t yet recognized anything as being “abnormal” – a few strange things that were forgotten thirty minutes later – but nothing truly abnormal.
On the third day, having finished all my paperwork, I left work a few minutes early. Traffic was wonderful, the rush hour had not set in, and I made good time getting home. I pulled into the driveway and out of the comer of my eye I saw something, a movement. It was too quick and too far out of range for me to have been certain of what it was, but it could have been nothing else. I saw the venetian blinds on my living room window slam shut.
I got out of the car, dismissing the sighting as my imagination, and approached my house. Halfway to the front the door I heard the back door close and latch shut. An uneasiness ripped through my nerves. Visions of masked men with guns and bats rummaging through my house played themselves through my head. These were followed by visions of masked men with guns and bats shooting and beating me to death. Carefully, I unlocked my door (a bit surprised to find it was still locked) and crept into my living room. I had worked my key ring into my hand so that a key jutted out between each of my fingers. That would allow me to wreak severe damage on any intruder, assuming they didn’t shoot me first and have at my naked corpse.
An extensive search of the house turned up no burglars (or a lack of underpants and frankfurters) and I breathed easy for a bit. That was until I noticed the tracks. They were hard to see at first, as the floor in the kitchen is a dark beige which never reveals tracked-in dirt very well, but there they were. Dog tracks. I could see where they lead and they lead everywhere: from the back door to the refrigerator, the laundry room and the kitchen sink.
I thought, silently and carefully. Fear had not yet set in, as it would eventually, only a very deep confusion. I kept envisioning myself and my evolving story on Unsolved Mysteries or Sightings. Then the phone rang.
I answered after three rings.
My neighbor, Rufus, a loud and large man who spent most of his life covered in greasy under shirts and talking about what he’d do if he won the lottery, was on the other end.
“Kennedy!” he said (he’s always called me by my last name. I’ve never heard him do this with anyone else. I think it’s because I wear a tie and he finds that a bit weak.)
“Hey, there Roof,” I said (I’m not weak).
“Your dog’s been diggin’ up my goddamn lawn!” he barked. “He pulled our trash cans over and spread the shit all over the yard!”
“What? My dog’s been tied up all day. Are you sure it was Schmedley?”
He snorted (his dog, half Pit Bull and half Rottweiler, is named Butcher. Rufus has never fully respected Schmedley.) “Bullshit! I saw him!”
“Well, I’m sorry Roof, I must have forgotten to tie him up this morning,” I said. At this point I parted the blinds covering the window over the kitchen sink to have a look in the back yard.
“What did you say?”
I had said “My God!” but not to Rufus. Schmedley was in the back alright. He was even tied. But…
“Look,” Rufus interrupted, “If this happens again, I’m callin’ the law!”
“Okay,” I said absentmindedly and hung up.
Schmedley was eating a sandwich. He was sitting outside, the rope coiled next to him, munching happily on a sandwich! I checked the refrigerator and found an empty honey glazed turkey lunch meat wrapper. The loaf of bread in the bread box was half gone. An empty container of Heinz yellow mustard rested atop the kitchen garbage. Not only was Schmedley eating a sandwich at that very moment, but it was obviously one in a series of similar snacks he’d had throughout the day. Keeping Schmedley in sight through the window, I picked up the phone again and called Jill.
“Jill Burnham residence,” she said after two rings.
“Jill, this is Victor.”
“Is everything all right?”
I had apparently sounded a bit shaken. “Um, Yes,” I said. Then, because there was no way to ask this question and sound sane at the same time, I simply said, “I think Schmedley is. . . messing with my mind.”
There was a short pause that lasted about eight thousand years. “You’re not kidding are you?” Jill said finally.
Wishing I had been, I said, “No. I’m not.” Outside, Schmedley finished his sandwich and (I swear to whatever God you might believe in) a satisfied smile crept across his face.
“It’s funny you say that,” Jill said, not sounding like she honestly believed it was “funny” at all.
“Grover’s been acting odd too. He’s stopped begging.” There was concern in her voice. Deep concern. As though she’d just found out her father had been killed in a horrible train accident while transporting secret documents between two conflicting governments instead of drinking coffee at the local Dairy Queen like he should have been.
I was speechless. My mouth was dry. Grover, a nervous miniature Dachshund with a slight gas problem, had stopped begging! You must understand, this dog wrote, edited, published and promoted the book on begging. Grover was the leper and anything on your plate was Christ. For the first time since the whole story began, fear made its unwelcome entrance. The big, mean God of Panic had ripped off my balls and hung them from the rearview mirror of his ’57 Chevy Hardtop of Terror.
When I wasn’t speechless anymore, I said, “I’m coming over,” and hung up before she could respond.
I arrived at Jill’s apartment, a good-sized two-bedroom job on the second floor. An enclosed balcony of immense proportions hung off the living room beyond a sliding glass door.
There were chairs, a few plants, a table and the dog out there.
Grover, by nature, was not the most stable of animals. Everything absolutely terrified him. He looked different now. He was standing on the balcony, where Jill had quarantined him, and staring right into the living room. Grover didn’t move beyond a blink. An ambulance sped by with its sirens wailing and the dog, usually driven under a table by a loud sigh, did not move. I stood, looking down at the little dog beyond the glass with my hands in my pockets. “Sure, looks like Grover,” I said. “Sort of.”
“What do you think?” Jill asked.
I shrugged then reached over and pulled the drapes across the sliding glass door. The dog’s body did not move, but his eyes followed my hand. Even though he was out of sight now, I had the feeling he hadn’t gone anywhere. He was still there staring. Only now he was staring at the back side of a pair of blue drapes.
“Maybe it’s some sort of dog disease. Like rabies or something.” She said, producing a cigarette from a small desk drawer and lighting up.
“Maybe. I don’t know much about dog diseases, but I’ve never heard of anything like this.” I went to take a sip of my beverage and heard something. Looking up at Jill I could see by the look on her face she had heard it too.
“Was that a. . . a howl?” she asked carefully.
It was. Grover was howling. Loudly. I stood up and went to the blinds. I parted them. Grover stood in the same spot, the same blank expression on his face, still staring at the outside side of the glass. Grover was howling. He didn’t crane his neck back or set himself on his haunches. the howl just came out. Then he backed up, slowly. I could tell what he was about to do. The dog stood no higher than my ankles, but I knew exactly what he was about to do and that, somehow in his odd state, he could do it.
“Help me!” I pleaded, running to the coffee table and lifting one end.
“What is it?” she said, terror rising in her voice.
“Just help me!”
We hoisted the coffee table off the floor and stood it up in front of the blinds covering the sliding glass door. Another
came from the balcony and we backed up apprehensively.
“He’s coming,” I said calmly.
Then it happened: the sound of little claws clicking speedily against the balcony’s tile flooring as the dog ran, the sound of shattering glass as he burst through the door, then a dull thud as his little, five inches in diameter head smacked against the coffee table, sending a shiver through the blue blinds. The coffee table wiggled slightly. A subtle whine emerged from the other side.
When we saw that Grover had not been deterred, that he had begun working his way out from behind the broken glass and bruised furniture we ran like hell and locked the door behind us.
We both arrived at my house, fifteen minutes later. Everything outside seemed, at first panicked glance, to be in order. We ran from my car to the front door anyway.
Jill was in a slight bit of hysterics. I suppose seeing your once socially inept and molecule-sized Dachshund leap through a window and get up for more would do that to you.
“What the hell’s going on?” she said.
“I don’t know,” I said, unlocking the front door and poking my head inside. Everything inside appeared to be in normal condition. I grabbed Jill by the hand and we slid inside. “You drink?” I said, locking the door.
“No. I smoke.”
“Good. You smoke. I’ll drink.” I walked through the living room into the kitchen (didn’t notice any new paw prints), leaving Jill in the foyer, and pulled a Bud out of the refrigerator. As I sucked my first quaff out of the bottle, I spread open the blinds over the kitchen window and looked outside. Nausea gripped my gut. Schmedley was gone.
“Jill!” I shouted, running back toward the foyer.
I found Jill staring at the television in the living room. It was on but showing only static and emitting no sound. “Did you leave this on Victor?” she said, pointing a shaking finger at it.
“No. I don’t watch static if I can’t hear it.” my frayed mind joked. Now that the concept of sound had been brought up, though, I realized that I did hear something. A sort of hum. A tape was rewinding in my VCR.
We both stared at the machine. After a few seconds the rewinding stopped with a mechanical jolt. A few ice ages passed before I got up the guts to eject the tape. The cassette spat out of the slot and hung there like a panting tongue.
“Cujo?” Jill pondered.
It was. In bold type across the spine of the tape was the title “Cujo”.
“I don’t I even own this movie, Jill.”
And then from behind us came the voice. “I didn’t like it.”
Jill and I spun around. There he was, Schmedley, standing on his hind legs at almost five and a half feet tall, wearing a pair of my slacks belted around his narrow waste. The cuffs of the legs had been rolled up a few times and a furry paw peeked out of each one. This time l had no doubts. Schmedley was smiling.
“Schmedley!” I gasped.
“No,” he said dismissively, holding up a paw, a cigar wedged between two of its toes. His voice and diction reminded me of a Cambridge professor or a character in a C.S. Lewis novel. “My name is Xavier now!” he said, thrusting his cigar paw into the air. Then he chuckled and commenced to light his cigar in some odd fashion that didn’t require opposable thumbs.
Jill and I bolted for the front door. I unlocked it and threw it open and was almost out when I saw Grover standing on his hind legs on the front porch.
“Hey! Where the fuck you goin’ com nut?” he said in a perfect Bronx accent. A BandAid was stuck to the top of his head.
Jill gasped and slapped a hand to her mouth. “He didn’t learn that from me,” she said.
Grover sauntered inside, slamming the door behind him with a swift kick. He walked over to Schmedley (Xavier) and stood by his side. Schmedley produced another cigar from the pocket of his pants and gave it to Grover. It was almost as long as he was.
I’ve never been afraid of dogs. I was afraid of these two. A five-foot six Golden Retriever wearing my slacks and smoking a cigar, and a two-foot-tall Dachshund who sounded like a New York deli clerk with a bad attitude. Jill and I backed away from the door. I was holding Jill’s hand and she was squeezing the sound of cracking bone out of mine.
“What-” I managed to get out.
“All you need to know, my friend,” Schmedley said in his collegiate voice, “Is that we have evolved. That is it. By what means you shall never know. But it is OUR time now!” He took a satisfied puff off of his cigar.
“That’s right, chief!” Grover piped in. Then he thought for a second, one eyebrow raising ponderously, and said, “Hey! Man: A dog’s best friend!” They both had a good laugh over that.
“So, what happens now?” I asked carefully, not sure if I wanted to know the answer just yet.
“What happens now?” Grover responded. “This happens now, moron!” What he did then (there is no point in dragging this out) was shit. Shit right on my carpet. Standing on two legs! Then he pretended to bury it by kicking imaginary dirt behind himself. “What do ya think of that, pea brain?! Paper trainin’ my ass!”
At first Schmedley had looked a bit shocked and disgusted at his companion’s behavior but then they both erupted in laughter.
I had had enough. “Bad dog!” I screamed, leaping straight for the pompous little son of a bitch and tackling him to the floor. He let out a yelp.
I had him pinned. He was right there, squirming his micron-sized ass under my arms and I was about to head butt him into oblivion when Schmedley let into me.
“Get off of that dog!” He shouted, bashing me in the head with a rolled-up newspaper.
My arms flew up in defense and the Dachshund wiggled out from under me.
“Stop it!” Jill cried in the background.
I was on my knees, the rolled-up newspaper coming down repeatedly onto my head and reddened arms, when Grover returned to deliver a small paw into my eye. “Ow!” I said. And then another. His little fore legs were like pistons, perforating tiny bruises all over my face. His claws caught skin a few times and I started to bleed. Then he stopped. I backed away toward Jill. She knelt down and held my limp body.
The last words I heard before blacking out were “Bad human!” uttered by both Schmedley and Grover more than once. I also heard Jill scream. Then my consciousness took a vacation.
I awoke to soreness and a burning sensation around my neck and throat. The sun was setting behind the fence. I couldn’t loosen the rope around my neck (it had been tied in some bizarre knot that would make a boy scout cry) and every move I made was rewarded with friction bums. Two old Tupperware dishes rested beside my head. One filled with dirty water, the other with some gelatinous brown substance in the shape of a tin can. Both were labeled “Bo Bo”. I drank greedily from the water dish.
“Atta boy! Drink hearty now!” I heard Schmedley shout from my left.
I looked over, toward the house.
“Yeah, but don’t piss on my tree!” Grover laughed.
The two dogs were lounging just outside the back door. They were sitting in lawn chairs, both with fresh cigars in their paws. Jill sat between them with a leash around her neck. The scene looked like some otherworldly beer commercial. I could imagine some canine version Lynyrd Skynyrd playing in the background. Ah, well, they call me The Breeeeze!
This is where I’ve been ever since. Perhaps about a month in all. I’ve got fleas. I don’t like fleas. Jill is the in-house human. I don’t see her too often, but I hear her screams coming from the house sometimes.
The wooden fence around the yard has some holes in it; places where knots have fallen out or the weather has cracked it. I can see my neighbor, Rufus, through them. He’s in bad shape. He’s got to wear a muzzle. I guess having a cross between a Pit Bull and a Rottweiler for your master gets rough sometimes.
My best guess is that this is a worldwide event; that the entire planet has been overrun by dogs. Even for the people who never owned dogs, there were probably enough strays wondering around to make up the difference a bit.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen to me. There’s been talk (mostly jokes, I hope) of having me neutered. My days consist of sleeping, for the most part. Schmedley and Grover only come out to feed me or play games that usually involve tying paper bags to my hands and feet or spreading peanut butter across the roof of my mouth. Then they beat the shit out of me with rolled up newspapers. And they laugh.
Speak of the devils! I think I hear them coming now. The backdoor’s being unlocked. I gotta go. They’re drunk again. Doesn’t take more than a sip of tequila and they’re gone. Oh shit, it looks like they’ve got the bandana and the frisbee again. Maybe we’ll go to the park this time. I’ll have to hide this for now and burry it later. At any rate, I’ve got to wrap this up. Here’s my story and the story of humanity, People of the Future. Damn, they’re out now. Well… THE END. Bye.
Writer, reader, musician, dad, SEO dude and mediocre photographer from Texas. Sometimes I eat pizza with a fork, but usually not.