Artemis

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5

“Why then invest in such an expensive expedition if they already had the technology,” asked Donny.

“To perfect it,” was Farlane’s opinion.

“But they don’t even know if we would be returning home,” I added, much to everyone’s despair.

“Do you think they care if we return home or not?”

“Surely, they would want us to return home with the new technology?”

“Don’t count on it,” said Donny.

“I don’t think the Artemesians want to keep us, unless we make good pets.”

“Or good meals,” said Su-Len who was Chinese and was willing to eat anything including dog meat.

“No, Su-Len. In case you haven’t noticed, they are not Chinese and we are not dogs.” Donny tried to catch my eye but I turned and walked away. I was incensed. Everyone knew how I felt about the indiscriminate slaughter of dogs for food. Su-Len wasn’t able to respect animals and I would have been glad if she were the first one eaten just for karma’s sake. Witnessing her being made into a meat patty would have given Donny and I great pleasure.

We had to concede that she and many like her had survived well on dog meat for a very long time but I still couldn’t shake my disrespect for her or the practice.

I thought of our dear, sweet Daisy. No one would admit knowing who stole our sweet, innocent Daisy who woke us each morning with her persistent, sharp, high-pitch yap-yap-yapping that would’nt stop until her bowl was refilled and she could satisfy her hunger. If she didn’t succeem in waking us by yapping she would jump on our beds and run over over heads or lick our faces till we got up.

The sound of a dog became a danger signal. It would attract and incense the dog eaters, so we did all we could to protect Daisy but eventually someone must have found her when we were not home.

It was hard living without Daisy after she’d been part of our lives for six years.

When we found her, we were on our way home from the airport, after dropping our cousin Gino off. He would take the first flight out to Washington to attend college. We were excited that he could finally embark on his engineering studies.

We were all quiet and very sleepy. I was the first to spot Daisy wondering along the highway, matted with filth.

Everyone woke suddenly when I remarked, ‘dad, is that a dog?’

‘Where? Where? Where?’ Came a chorus of cries.

As we drove past, her little black eyes were pleading with us to take her home but we were torn.

‘She must have been hiding in the bush for a long time. Shame, look at her,’ I said.

We drove past her slowly, as she sat down, trying to look as pretty as possible to impress us, hoping to be picked up. No one said anything but we were all thinking the same thing. Dad stopped the car and sighed, broken-hearted. Our family loved animals and couldn’t bear to see even one suffering.

The hunger pangs must have become unbearable and so she had no option but sto show herself.

My dad remonstrated with us. “Guys, you know what’s going to happen. Someone will report us. People will come and take her away.”

“Dad, we will hide her in the basement. We can soundproof it so that people won’t hear her barking. ”

I looked back and saw Daisy sitting obediently as she waited for us to make up our minds. We continued to debate the risks of being responsible for another living creature. People would turn on us just for having a dog while others were starving. We’d be called selfish, inconsiderate and disobedient to the laws of the world government.

Things weren’t getting better. It was hard to believe that in some parts of the world, people had begun to eat newborn babies, arguing that they were not only saving themselves but the babies too.

We cried tears of joy when dad turned the car around after finally, we had reached consensus to take her home with us. By then, she was whimpering and quivering, as if she knew that we would not leave her behind. We were lucky a dog-eater hadn’t gotten to her first. We were also lucky that the highway was deserted long enough in the pre-dawn hours for anyone to notice us picking her up.

When I opened the car door, she simply hopped in and we drove away.

‘Keep her down,’ my dad reminded us. ‘Don’t let anyone see her.’

Daisy was so smart. She knew that she had to stay out of sight and we knew that she belonged with us. In thanks she licked my hands then sat quietly between my feet until we arrived home. Dad asked us all to remain in the car while he opened the garage. Mom drove the car into the garage while dad closed the door. We took Daisy into the basement where we washed her and made a comfortable space for her.

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