It's cold here. Jets of moist breathe dot the landscape amid undulating hills. There are no proper dog trees, only short piles of huddling dog limbs. Teats are few and far between, and when I find one I must work to coax the milk into a skin bladder.
I move across the hills, my feet numb through the shoes I have fashioned. I move in the direction that seems easiest, a subtle and mangy slope that I only just noticed was guiding my path in a general downhill fashion. Where there is fur it is thick and rancid with matted oil. I don't know why the mother does what it does, but all of her fruits have their uses. I hack at a fur clump, separating it from the flesh below. There is only a little blood from a grazed skin tag. I fold and shape the waxy fur onto the coverings. The flesh rumbles beneath me in a more than disconcerting way. It has been doing that for the past several weeks, more so the further I have traveled. It is getting colder.
I can hear only the wind now, tearing across the mother. The howls, warbling and mournful, have stopped. The sharp barks and yips no longer for a background cacophony. I huddle into my coverings, and shoulder forward. I have no path to follow but forward.
The ground feels harder here. The gentle give of the land has ceased, giving way to a dull sound absorbing thud of matted fur. I slipped yesterday on what seemed to be a lake of solid piss. It was not reabsorbing into the mother. My own shivering seems to syncopate with the occasional rumbles of the mother. Her flesh no longer seems like a being, but I know that deep within her the blood flows. It is so cold here.
I continue forward every day. The ground slopes more, and I struggle to sleep in a forgiving skin fold. There is no purpose but to move forward now. One foot in front of the other. It has been dark for as long as I can remember. How long will this night last?
The air is dry. The land is mostly featureless and hard as I walk. The wind blows clumps of brittle hair across my face, and they hurt. A soft pop, a subtle blue flash, and then they blow past me. My hands are deep within my coverings. They are numb, and if I expose them to ward of the shocks then the cold will take them from me. I have already lost three toes. I can no longer feel that foot. I no longer bother to light fires in the deep crooks where I sleep, but last I saw that foot was black and swollen. It felt like it was burning.
My travel is slow. I have heard soft subtle tapping sounds, but when I investigate I find only dog claws moving against the ground. The rumbles have continued, and with them now come subtle rending sounds, like a mouth chewing on a rock. When the sounds intensify I move faster. I don't know what causes them, but I do not think it is the mother.
I have not found any teats in a long time. I am thirsty, and my skin bladder is almost empty. I would kill my own mother for a fresh puppy fetus. I passed a small pile of humans, almost buried in billowing dried fur. They were dead and desiccated. They looked like they were strong when they lived. I keep moving. There is only the road ahead of me. I do not know what it leads to.
The ground shifted beneath my feet, and I pissed in fear. Not a mouth, but a great hard chasm of flesh and bone had torn open beneath me. A stinking humid burst of air bellowed out, then hung in the cold air around me. On my ass, I peered into the gloomy hole that had nearly swallowed me, but it was now still. I sat and contemplated it, breathing heavily, and thought of my empty skin bladders.
Slowly, I could hear sounds several dozen feet below me start to play and echo in the cleft. A soft slapping. Then a gurgle. I don't know how, but I knew that this was my chance for sustenance. I slid into the meaty maw. I climbed down a shorn slab of giant ribs, still red and moist, and finally landed on the steaming dark floor of the hole. It writhed beneath my feet. I felt around, not knowing what I was looking for, when my hands fell upon a thumping tube set into the meat wall. An artery! I grabbed it, pulling at connective flesh, and then bit at it. The blood shot out in spurts, and I drank my fill. I was covered in viscera. I struggled to fill my skin bladders. The cleft shuddered around me, and I knew I must leave it immediately. The walls of were hanging tendrils, feelers, to heal this damaged canyon. I exhausted myself climbing out, and nearly feel back in as I crested the edge of the crack, out into the cold night. The dog ground slowly mended behind me as I walked on the hard ground. Before I left it, I considered it, and cataloged it. A stretch mark. The dog mother was still growing.
I am so weak, and it is so cold. My filled bladders of blood are gone, and the gray dogscape stretches before me. I must make it to my goal, but I do not know what my goal is. I have walked for what seems like months in the darkness. I climb down a huge mass of frigid dog flesh. It is like a great heap of small dogs, a pile of dog heads and legs, a mound of tails and torsos. It is cold and lifeless. A slow low creaking can be heard deep within it. I grip an ear and lower myself to the bottom of the wall of dog. And my foot lands on something else. I gasp, and then get caught in a fit of coughing. I don't know what I am standing on, but it is not the mother. I feel queasy, nauseous. What could possibly be not the mother? It's cold and hard, but I scrape at it and bits of dandery coldness come up off of it. I hold them close to my face and my breath turns it to water. I try to eat a handful of it, but it is so cold that it robs me of almost all of my remaining energy. The moisture trickles down my throat. It is good. I look behind me at the dog wall, with its exposed frozen bones and happy looking faces, then ahead of me at the featureless dark. I am too far gone to turn back now. I continue walking for hours, then sleep, and then I walk more. My footsteps are leaden.
Finally, ahead of me, I see light. I make my way towards it, slowly, over the course of several hours. It is a beacon to me now. A bright glowing steady fire. As I approach I see the light stands on a pole before a series of low dark structures. They are like solid walls of bone, but not. They are not of dogflesh. The billowing hair and cold dandery water pile against the sides. I know that this is what I was destined for. At one end, near the light, is a dark panel set into the wall. On it are markings placed there by some person's hand, but I do not know what they say. "AIS-1" and "ENTRANCE". I shoulder against the panel, but it barely shudders. I try again, and again. I am renewed with purpose by the discovery of this place, but I am weak from my travel. I lean my back to the panel and slide down it, exhausted. My back catches against a low bar set into the panel, pushes it down, and then clicks. The panel gives way and I fall into the darkness within.
I am in a small dark dry cave. It is alien to me. The wind blows debris and fur into the room with me. I look around. Strange dark masses seem to leer at me. There are soft white skins hanging on the wall, and more of the unusual markings everywhere. "Procedure List:" and "KEEP CLOSED" and "Warning" and "Wear Radio At All Times". A bright red cylinder with yellow stripes is inside a small box. I reach for it but my hands scrabble against a clear covering across the entrance to the box. I look at my hands now. They are purple, and I cannot feel them anymore. Another panel is on the opposite wall, like the one I had opened. I move towards it feebly. I am so cold. I pull on the handle set into the panel, but it does not move. A small red light flashes above it. I pull harder, but it does not move. I pull again, jumping, but lose my balance, and lurch to the ground. I smack my head with a dull thud. The cold is blowing in fiercely from the opening behind me. I scrape against the hard panel, but it will not move. More markings adorn it. "Close Outer Door First". I do not understand them. I sit against the panel. My vision is blurry, and a trickle of my own blood seeps across my eye. I go to sleep there, leaning against the dark doorway. I sleep and do not wake up.
"My name is Charles Mountel, of Arctic Ice Station one. The abomination is not here, it is too cold. Tigger and I are the last survivors. We are 14 nautical miles south of the North Pole, directly North of Vancouver. Triangulate our position based on this radio signal. This message will repeat in five minutes."
The radio broadcast the message again, as it had hundreds, if not thousands of times. A cold dead desiccated body sat huddled before the radio systems in a chair. At its feet lay the curled dead body of a mutt.