a fragment from the
lost novelization of Spacenet
by D.B. Sphinx
(as translated by Matthew
am I? thought Jay, his eyes fluttering as he took in his surroundings. The
ceiling above him appeared to consist of a series of green metal panels
enclosed in a blue metal shell. This
doesn’t look like science class at all! He sat up in what looked like one
of those spinning black chairs he plunked himself in when his mother took him
in for his bimonthly moptop trim.
What he saw next made his jaw drop.
Before him was a large window pane that appeared to look out into outer space!
Stars, asteroids, space junk, all whizzed past the, the … well, he must be in a
spaceship! It didn’t make any sense. Only ten minutes ago, he had been
presenting to the class his design for a prototype shuttle that harnessed the
energy of stars to propel into the farthest reaches of space. There were
snickers – there always were – and Brett, his hand cupped over his mouth, had
let out a “nerd!” just loud enough for everyone to hear. Oh gosh, did he hate
that bully. If only he had the strength … But he needed to focus on his present
He slowly scanned the interior. More
green panels, with row upon row of buttons, knobs, levers and lights, encased
by blue metal. What did they all do? He
seriously should have put a little more thought into his design. Maybe he could
redirect the ship back to his home in North Carolina. But that was silly. He
couldn’t land a shuttle in his backyard.
And then he saw it. Crouched in the
shadows emanating from a passageway that led into the recesses of the ship.
Eyeing him, as if it were about to pounce. And then … it spoke!
“Alrigh’, butt, ‘ow’d you get in
could it speak … and was it English, or some sort of alien dialect? And why had
it called him a butt? That sounded kinda rude.
“What’s the matter, cat got yer
tongue? I thought their species ‘twere wiped out by the toxoplosmosis vaccine.”
Jay stared at it silence. “Come on, boyo, haen’t you e’re seen a Caninoid Of
Rare Genetic Intelligence?”
Caninoid Of … oh. He got it. “You mean
… you mean, you’re a corgi.”
The CORGI shuffled forward, its
oversized front paws splayed out threateningly. It rolled up its lips to expose
its teeth. “Wot did you say, boyo?”
Jay recoiled in his chair. “I didn’t
mean to offend, sir. It’s just … well, I’m not sure where you’re from, but
where I come from, you’re a … you’re a dog.”
The CORGI snarled and lunged forward.
“I should nip yer ‘eels fer such an insult! I’ll hae’ ye know I’m a captain
first class of this ‘ere SRP.”
“What’s an SRP?”
“What a gormless little calf ye’ are?”
(Seriously, what language was this dog
speaking?). “An SRP! Squirrel Recovery Pod! Surely ye’ ‘eard about the sciuridaeic shortage in the Caninoid system?”
Jay stared at him blankly. “Boyo,
ye’ is daft. Anyways, there haen’t time to explain. Assuming those peepers work
better than the gray matter ‘twitch they’re ‘tached, ye’ll see in front of ye’
that we are about to face an assault from an alien spacecraft.” Jay looked out
into space and saw an oval-shaped glow on the horizon that appeared to be
widening ever so slightly. “Now, if ye’ll kindly ‘elp me into me captain’s
The CORGI shuffled forward and leapt
into the chair next to Jay. Shouldn’t he
be weightless? And corgis are so fat. Jay shook off the thought. “Well,
don’t just sit there like a sheephead, boyo. Fetch me up then.” The alien pooch
lay on its back in the chair, exposing his stomach and, er – “Impressive, eh?
Lack of bollocks aside.”
“I don’t know what those are,” said
“Never mind the bollocks. Give us a
Jay reached for the CORGI’s front
legs. “P’raps a little scratch around the belly parts first?”
“I thought you said we were in a
“Yes, yes, go on then, ye’ poxy
Jay’s parents had said he couldn’t
have a dog because of his allergies, and now he got it. He pulled the CORGI
upright. “Sorry, boyo. I’m off the CBD, ye’ see? Now be a good lad and give us
a little scooch to the instrument panel.” He did as he was told, and suddenly
the CORGI’s paws were everywhere, pressing buttons, flipping switches, pulling
levers. “Alrigh’, ye’ ready for battle now, young Gryffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth?”
“Let’s put the fiddle in the roof!”
Jay looked out the window now and saw,
to his horror, that the glow had taken a definite shape now. It appeared to be
an oval ship with some sort of gridlike shield protecting it. “What do I do??”
“Ye’ see that stick in front of ye’?
When I say the word, ye’ start firing like it ‘twere the scumbag Staffordshire
terriers at Crug Mawr!”
“So you do have breeds like we do.”
“A terrier means ‘e’s never been in
space, ye’ chopsy humanoid.” The CORGI grunted and sniffed the air. “Now get
Jay locked his gaze with the window
again, and his heart skipped a beat as he saw the missiles shooting through
space towards the shuttle. Plumes of fire streamed behind feather-like tails
that fitted into spherical ends of the projectiles. Wait, where had he seen
this shape before? He thought about that one day in gym class, where they had
all made fun of him because of his prowess in …
“Hey, Mr. CORGI, are those –“
“Shut it! I’ve gotta put up the shield
As the missiles hurtled forward to
carry out their deadly intent, a gridlike network of interlocking squares
materialized in front of the shuttle. The move came just in time, as the
missiles struck the shield and bounced off harmlessly into space.
“Now fire, boyo, fire!!”
Jay clutched the stick and began
rapid-firing the button on it like there was no tomorrow. More feathered
missiles shot forth from unseen barrels beneath the shuttle and sailed forth to
the enemy ship ahead, which seemed to inch closer and closer. Most of them
reflected off the ship’s shield, but suddenly one made contact and a ball of
fire exploded from its side.
“I hit it!”
“Great shot, boyo! Now see if ye’ can
strike it again!”
Missiles streamed back and forth
between the ships for what seemed like an eternity, though in reality it was
only a few minutes. The CORGI skillfully maneuvered his stick to dodge missiles
that evaded the shield, while Jay fired as if his life depended on it (and it
With their foe’s ship sustaining
several hits, Jay and his furry comrade seemed to be winning the battle. Then,
suddenly one of the enemy missiles veered off course and around the side of the
“Oh no, a tracker!” yelled the CORGI.
The shuttle lurched wildly as the missile struck the hull. “We’ve been
hit!” the CORGI screamed. An alarm sounded as smoke filled the cabin, and the
vessel began shaking violently. In the distance, Jay saw the enemy ship make a
sharp flanking turn and disappear off the horizon. “What do we do??” he cried.
The CORGI leapt off the seat. “You
take the control, butt! I’m gonna see if I can’t rewire this short red cow for
an emergency landing.”
“Thank, drive!” The CORGI scampered
off down the passageway. Jay grabbed the stick, and began daydreaming of some
sort of futuristic device that would automatically translate foreign languages
He was awakened from the reverie by
the sounds of heavy boots stamping down the passageway. Panic gripped him, and
he swung his head around. Suddenly there appeared in the cabin a band of alien
creatures with protruding brows and uniforms of … hmm, well, they seemed to be
denim. Cross earrings dangled from their pointy ears, and their leader looked
like … holy cow, was that Brett?
“Well, well, humannerd!” said alien Brett. “Looks like
someone has been getting in
some feathered missile with spherical bulb end deflection practice after
“Come on, Brett, just leave me alone!”
“Who is Brett?” The alien aimed a
laser gun at Jay. “Never mind that. Now your little ship, and all its precious
cargo, belongs to me.” He opened his mouth, exposing a grotesque set of
yellow-stained teeth, and laughed mercilessly. “But first, I’m going to give
you a good killing.”
“No, no, Bre – I mean, whoever you
are, please don’t! I’m not even supposed to be here!”
The other aliens joined their leader
in laughing, which echoed throughout the cabin. Sweat ran in rivulets down
Jay’s back as alien Brett cocked his gun. Suddenly a series of lasers blasted
down the passageway, and seconds later, the alien good squad was lying in a
pile in the cabin, smoke rising off their bodies.
The ship seemed to steady, and a
passel of mice darted through the smoke clouds. Fixed to their backs were tiny
laser pistols, their barrels also smoking, and behind them was the proudly
“But, but .. how?” asked Jay.
“Well, boyo, it’s just like I said,”
replied the CORGI. “No cats.” He flopped down on the floor, belly-first. “Don’t
forget to collect your treasure, now.” He pointed a splayed paw at alien Brett.
“There, in ‘is pocket.”
Jay hesitated, then approached and
bent over alien Brett’s lifeless body. A weathered ring pattern had formed on
his back pocket. Jay reached down and retrieved from it a round cylinder with a
pungent brown substance adorning the rim.
“Wow, it’s … it’s snuff.” He wished he
knew more curse words.
“No naughty smoke on these ones, I
reckon. Still, that’s some right lush chew, I bet.” The CORGI yawned. “Well,
I’ve been up almost three hours, and am completely knackered. Looks like I can
count on ye’ to steer us on a course to more squirrels?”
Jay clutched the stick. “You bet,
cap’n! Think, drive!”
“Whatever, butt. Try not to sound off
like a pepper mill while I catch me beauty sleep.”
Jay throttled the ship forward, and
the new mates rocketed off into adventures unknown.
Use the button that says “Tracker
to deploy the feathered missiles
in tracker mode.
Matt Spangler is a freelance
writer and playwright based in New York. His stories have been published in
Scarlet Leaf Review, Blood Moon Rising, The Horror Tree, and Red Fez. He ran
the Washington, DC-based theater company Next Day Theater from 2015 to 2017,
and launched the audio fiction podcast series Parabasis in 2018.