Dog Star

de Arthur Clarke
Copertă Dog Star
Dog Star
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When I heard Laika's frantic barking, my first reaction was annoyance. I turned over in my bed and muttered sleepily: "Shut up, you silly bitch." That lasted only a fraction of a second; then consciousness returned - and with it, fear. Fear of loneliness, and fear of going mad. For a moment I did not dare open my eyes; I was afraid of what I might see. Sense told me that no dog had ever set foot upon this world, that Laika was separated from me by a quarter of million miles of space - and more of thatfive years of time. "You've been dreaming," I told myself angrily. "Stop being a fool - open your eyes! You won't see anything except the walls." That was right, of course. The little cabin was empty, the door closed. I was alone with my memories, overwhelmed by the transcendental sadness that often comes when some bright dream fades into drab reality. The sense of loss was so great that I wished to return to sleep. It was well that I did not do so, for at that moment sleep meant death. But I did not know this for another five seconds and during that time I was back on the Earth, seeking for the comfort in the past... No one knew Laika's origin, though the Observatory staff made a few inquiries and gave several advertisements in the newspapers. I found her, a lost and lonely ball of fluff, huddled by the roadside one summer evening when I was driving up to Palomar. Though I have never liked dogs, it was impossible to leave this helpless little creature to the mercy of the passing cars. Wishing that I had a pair of gloves, I picked her up and threw her in the baggage compartment. When I had parked the car at the Monastery - the astronomers' residential quarters, where I had been living for a few years - I inspected my find without enthusiasm. I intended to give the puppy to somebody but then it whimpered and opened its eyes. There was such an expression of helpless trust in them that... well, I changed my mind. Sometimes I regretted that decision, though never for long. I had no idea how much trouble a growing dog could cause. My cleaning and repair bills soared, I could never be sure of finding an undamaged pair of shoes and an unchewed copy of the astrophysical journal. But finally, Laika became a well-trained dog

Dog Star