Evolution stops for no god. While Man Kind goes on to rule the world, animals proceed to evolve as they have always done. The year is 2615, and, at long last, animals are able to match the human species in their thinking. But not all humans accept this change. Most appeal it. Desperate to hang onto the “Ego” awhile longer, Man does what it can to keep animals in their status. But like humans, animals too are developing ethics, morals, beliefs, and free will alongside their rising intelligence.
When Anna, an orphaned child who lives on the streets, finds a stray dog with the knowledge to read and write, the communication barrier between man and animal is breached. But there are many who want to stop this from happening. Although some communities have developed where only intelligence determines your social status, others—most—are still held in check by fear, instinct, ancient gods, and control.
“Stay here,” Elsa said. “Don’t leave. Don’t talk to anyone. Here.” Elsa handed her baby sister the pack on her back and crouched down beside her. Within seconds, Elsa was wrapping the blanket around Anna like a precious bundle. “I’m going out to find us food.” Elsa kissed Anna’s forehead. “I will be right back.”
Anna nodded quietly as she watched her sister turn back, closing the door behind her. The hole they had found themselves this time was as dark and as dirty as things usually are. Clutter and a myriad of old broken things made up the furnishings leaving Anna a number of places to hide if she needed to. Still clutching the pack and the blanket, Anna found herself a small corner tucked into the shadows and nestled in. A moment later she turned her pack upside down, spilling the contents onto the floor. A pen, a handful of broken crayons, and some dirty envelopes cause Anna to smile. She too up the pinkest of crayons and began scribbling on the envelope.
Too many times Anna had been saved by the shadows. Not being seen was the easiest way to avoid trouble, making it the safest place to be. She folded her chubby fingers best she knew how around the crayon, resisting the urge to shove her thumb in her mouth like she wanted to. Elsa had told her it would ruin her teeth. And too many times there were gentle encouragements made to be stronger. Coloring helped her forget her thumb.
A sudden shuffle forced Anna to jump in her dark corner as a tower of rubbish fell. She stiffened expecting the noise to attract outsiders first and foremost. When the door remained shut, Anna worried about what room mate she had there in the holed up room.
Another crash, a whimper, and a tail.
Anna relaxed as a mangy dog climbed from the debris.
The eight year old forced a smile.
The dog studied Anna, keeping its distance. Its tail didn’t wag. It was calm and thoughts filled his eyes as Anna glanced the dog over. It’s gray shaggy coat was matted and filthy, but brushed to the side so regularly she was certain the dog had done that one its own to brush the fur from his eyes. Her attention lingered on the elongated toe that made up an opposable stub.
I’m Anna,” she said.
The dog didn’t reply.
“Do you have a name?”
His nostrils twitched and Anna smiled meekly.
“You’re checking me, aren’t you?”
After a moment, as if the dog had deemed her safe, he sat down and waited.
“My sister went to get food,” Anna offered in conversation once the dog seemed to relax. “I miss food. Do you eat often?”
The dog didn’t reply.
“Neither do I,” Anna said. “Elsa takes care of me now. Does anyone take care of you?”
“Yeah. Animals don’t—”
At once, the dog was on his feet and growling, his canines fully exposed at the girl.
“I’m sorry… I… forgot… I’m sorry.” Anna was already tearing up and she shrank into the blanket. The dog ceased its growling and snorted, then turned its back and moseyed away.
“Wait!” Anna called. “Please don’t go.”
The dog stopped and glanced over his shoulder at her.
“I… I don’t like to be alone,” she said. “I won’t call you animal anymore. I’m sorry.”
The dog sighed and turned back to the girl, but this time it kept his distance.
“Please,” she said. “What’s your name?”
The dog didn’t move. After a moment, he stood and walked toward the pile of supplies on the floor. The canine fitted the pen in between the elongated toe and his paw and, on the envelope Anna had scribbled on, the dog wrote a single word. It was a name.
* * *
The apes were already talking. They got first dibs at rights. While the humans thought it was cute and impressive, at the end, their interest was only purely scientific. They extended a plethora of theories, some more obnoxious than the first. Anything to deny the most basic concept staring them in the face: animals had evolved. They didn’t start taking it seriously until… Who am I kidding… they don’t take it seriously.
We owe a lot to Lucy and her pack. She was the first. Well… The first in the wild, raised apart from scientists and their labs. Centuries ago, a certain ape the humans deemed Cocoa, made the first strides in primitive communication. They treated her like one of their infants. They had no idea that Cocoa’s advancements were happening across the board. Apes, dolphins, horses, elephants, cats… and dogs. When a field scientist stumbled across a pack of wild gorillas all of whom could communicate quite effectively in Man Tongue without the use of labs or scientists, they deemed this first contact as Lucy and the scientists corralled them in. Within the week, they had turned Lucy’s free community into the largest group of science experiments, mutilating the finest of minds as if they were a couple of lab rats. Sam was in the group.
Animals can communicate. We can comprehend. Most of us have developed opposable thumbs. Problems solving seemed to develop on pace with our added appendage. The humans flipped out over that one too. Tests were done. Rights invaded—Rights. Those are something reserved only for humans. Oh, there are pockets of exceptions here and there. Abolitionists who argue on behalf of our plight. Activists who go around burning the appropriate buildings. But in the end, we are only what they want us to be. Animals. Beneath them.
Apes, being the closest in human biology have already learned their language. The mental capacity is there. We understand. It’s a a physical bearer that holds us back. Apes having the closest resemblance to the human mouth have the rest of us at a disadvantage. Well… almost all of us. Cats, elephants, and dolphins skipped the lingo and went right over to a kind of EMP: Electro-Magnetic Pulses. The most ignorant call this ESP. Their emotions travel on frequency from one person to the next. Do not misunderstand me. Words and thoughts can not travel on frequency. Only frequency can travel on frequency. Like how sound can travel through light and energy. Emotions alter chemistry, which can alter brain waves. If the sender knows what they are doing, they can use emotions control brain waves and send messages through the frequency. It began as pulses. A kind of Morse code, as the humans called it. Through this means, cats, elephants, and dolphins were able to construct a primitive means of communication. This was the first language Sam taught me.
Us other quadrupeds are at a significant disadvantage. Especially dogs. Dolphins have been labeled as smart for centuries. I think humans expected this of them from the beginning. Cats have always been independent, communicating one very clear message for centuries now: Fuck off. It was no shock when they too learned to communicate alongside the dolphins. Man embraced the feline’s tyranny. Apes… elephants… horses even were accepted.
I’ve heard Sam talk often of horses and how he likened them to yahoos or something like that. I can’t recall. His theory was that Man was ready to accept the horse as an intellect because of some book written years ago that amplified their human status.
Dogs though… Man had an expectation from us. They expected a certain loyalty… a dedication… most expected a lack of intelligence. That’s really where all this started. Humans assumed dogs were dumb. Dumber than cats anyway. My ancestors were primitive enough still to be taught and trained so that humans could use my species as tools. Sam long believed that this was the reason dogs and mankind got along so well. But once the dog began thinking… once we moved out of the four-walled box of fetch and hunting games, playtime was over. No one took us seriously. We were like a rebellious teen desperate to identify ourselves away from the human. The human didn’t like this.
Cats were the first to develop opposable thumbs. Dogs… not so much. We only just started developing the extra toe Man refuses to acknowledge as opposable. It isn’t intelligence that prevents most of us the ability to speak in Man Tongue. It’s biology. Man Kind will always define a person’s intelligence first and foremost by their level of communication. Stephen Hawking was fortunate to have established his intelligence before the chair. But this isn’t about intelligence or communication. Either one of those is easy enough to overcome and prove. No. Ego. That is really what animals are up against. Man’s ego. That is what Man will lose if ever they abandon the title “animal” and come down to our level. They are already at our level. They just don’t know it. Man is an animal too. If only they were smart enough to know that.
For us, it’s all an uphill battle. No one takes a bark seriously. Scientists know better. Politicians and Common Man do not. Sadly, it is the politicians and the Common Man who rule the world. Why don’t the scientists? They’re far wiser, more educated than the rest of the population. One would think they would. The only reason why I have the knowledge I have is because Sam was a scientist. An animal behaviorist. He was one of the first in his field to recognize the Change.
He prattled on, but no one listened. Instead, Sam took his beliefs to me. I was a pup, born into Sam’s home. My mother had been his pet for years. She finally passed at the ripe old age of forty. I was born in a litter nearly twenty years prior. I’m forty now myself and still have an additional ten years of life to live. Sam chose me because of my elongated toe. Calling it a thumb is still illegal. Sam saw it and was certain of my skill. He was certain the issue here was communication.
Lacking the mobility to learn sign language or English, Sam taught me instead how to hold a pencil, to read, and write. He had plans for me. I was to become the mediator, the ambassador of dogs everywhere. To carry my messages from my fellow canines to homo sapiens. It would have worked… Sam was certain. If a purist hadn’t shot him and killed him—isn’t it funny how only people of importance can be assassinated—it just may have worked.
That is how I came to be here in this hole with an eight year old human bundled in a filthy blanket, and Sam-less with a pen in my paw.
This is an idea that came to me this morning. Yes, I plan on developing this into a full novel. No. I don’t know when this will be. Yes. I have this plotted out. No. I am not a scientist. I’m just logical. My husband is a scientist—organic chemistry, physicist, bio-chem—so I’m not writing blind 🙂 It is a VERY important to me that I “get the science right” on this. My husband won’t allow anything less. *laughing*