An Android Dog's Tale
    Unexpectedly, the villagers’ dogs responded.
Soon, howling came from several different spots in and around the
village. The cacophony made him feel like the leader of the pack.
He enjoyed it, so he did it again. “Ruff, ruff, howlllllll!”
    “ That’s enough. You can stop now. We’re
coming, ” the trade android signaled.
    “ Are you sure? How about a few more just
so they don’t suspect I know you heard me? ”
    He raised his head and yelled, “Ruff. Ruff.
Hooowwwllllll!” The harmonizing from the village dogs grew louder.
The sheep seemed unappreciative and largely uninterested, although
the large male with them tried to baa along. It lost the tune
quickly and went back to grazing.
    He found the canine chorus oddly appealing.
It did not have a beat or a melody, but there was a simple, basic
beauty to it, a kind of an a cappella atonal symphony. He did not
know if he was the composer, or the conductor, or just one of the
instruments. Probably all and none of those labels applied in one
way or another, and he closed his eyes to get in touch with his
inner dog.
    A distinctively bipedal induced rustle in
the grass drew his attention. He opened his eyes and saw Tork. With
him were the village headman, Gault, and his sister, Ryenne.
    “Woof,” MO-126 said by way of a
    “It appears as if my dog has found your
wayward sheep, Gault,” Tork said to the headman.
    “I see that,” said the smiling village
leader. “I’m relieved and very pleased.”
    MO-126 wagged his tail, expecting an
appreciative pat on the head at any moment.
    “No, you’re not,” said his sister.
    The android dog’s tail froze mid-wag.
    “I’m not?” Gault asked. His brow furled in
    “No. You’re not.” She eyed the sheep
suspiciously and then cast an accusatory gaze upon MO-126.
    “I know the gods speak to you, Ryenne, but
I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about this,” Gault said. “These are
good sheep, and they have three healthy lambs with them. I am quite
happy to have them.” As well he should be. In a society in which
money did not exist, sheep represented wealth.
    “No. You’re not,” she said again. “You
should be afraid. You should be very afraid.”
    “Of three sheep and three new lambs?” the
headman asked.
    “They’re not lambs,” she said ominously.
    “Of course they’re lambs, Ryenne,” Gault
said. “Look at them. They’re small; they’re wooly; they each have
four legs, and they’re sucking on sheep teats. That’s pretty much
the definition of lambs.”
    The holy woman shook her head in denial.
“They only look like lambs. You’re forgetting Mov’s chicken.”
    The village headman cocked his head with
bemusement, but he apparently spotted the direction of her thoughts
because he soon caught her meaning. He knew her all her life and
must have witnessed many of her twisted journeys into the lands of
invisible nightmares and bizarre imaginings. He asked for
confirmation anyway.
    “You’re saying those lambs are demons?”
    “Of course they’re demons!” She rolled her
eyes with exasperation at the stupidity of her older brother. “The
ewes were possessed before they gave birth, so the demons were
spawned in the unborn lambs, just like in Mov’s chicken. These are
stronger creatures—strong enough to carry a demon, so they
survived. We need to kill them all, now, and then burn them before
they can carry their demonic seed to others.”
    “ She’s bat-crap crazy, ” MO-126 said
silently to his partner.
    “ Well, she is especially
imaginative, ” the android trader replied. “ From her
perspective, I’m sure it all seems quite reasonable. ”
    “ Her perspective is from a high mountain
with too little oxygen in mystical la-la land. ”
    “ You’re being unreasonably judgmental.
She’s a primitive. ”
    “ She’s still crazy, ” the artificial
dog said.
    “ Oddly enough, I think her brother is
considering that possibility, too. ”

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