April 16, 2013


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: xenofiction (point of view of an animal)

Mia had one mission in life.

She was a IED-expert. When she was called up and shipped to Afghanistan, it was the single most exciting moment in her short life. She was certain she’d been made for it. Certain that no one else could do it as well as she could. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that her mission was to save lives by getting rid of IEDs that littered this sad country after its abortive war. She was set to do whatever was necessary – almost.

When she found IEDs, she refused to touch them and certainly refused to disarm them no matter how simple the device was. In fact, she couldn’t disarm an IED even if her partner’s life depended on it. She couldn’t handle them – because she didn’t have hands.

But smelling an IED was an entirely different story. She could tell the exact makeup of the IED from thirty meters away.

It had taken her a lot of time to train her partner to be as good as she was. The language barrier itself was nearly impossible to overcome. Ethan Pai-Teles was virtually deaf, couldn’t tell the difference between a rubber band bomb and a mercury-tilt switch bomb. Mia could smell mercury from a long way away – the sharp, poisonous tang would keep her away even when Ethan tried to bribe her with treats.

She’d usually answer him, “Totally unsafe, Ethan! Totally unsafe!”

He rarely understood her. At least now he slowed down some. When they first started working together, he’d tried to get her to understand English. She got that – some of the first words she’d understood were “toy” and “walk”. But the language was so limited. Ninety percent of the scent keys aligned with real language were missing in English. It was nearly impossible for Ethan to hear anything but the most rudimentary phrases in the Bark Tongue.

Yun, a Chinese Shih Tzu soldier Mia had met at the Summer Olympics had it easier. Her partner at least understood the importance of pitch in real speech. Ethan – she loved him, but MAN! – was practically tone deaf, even as far as Humans were concerned.

She had to rely on body language, just as he’d devised a series of hand signals that allowed them to work together as their sight at close range was very nearly the same.

They were patrolling a stretch of road they hadn’t been in a bit. They’d been working together – she knew it was many, many sunrises past the last sandstorm, Ethan said “Two years, six months, five days, thirteen hours and,” he’d glance at his arm, “fourteen minutes” – and she caught the whiff of an IED.

She growled. It smelled strange. Very strange. There was the sharp, Human smell of plastic explosive but it was overlain with something different. She’d never caught the scent of anything like it…except maybe when they’d trained together when she was a pup. It had been in a very dry place, a long way away from her favorite water and the fabulous birds Ethan killed for her but didn’t allow her to eat.

This place had a two white marks laid on the floor of one of the buildings, smelling strongly of oil paint. Ethan had made a violent sound and exclaimed something softly and low so she could actually hear it, “Area Fifty-One?”

This smell was the same as that...

Names: ♀ UK-Scotland ; UK, Portuguese

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