Breakfast Serial is a serialized collection of short stories. We will post an episodic entry each week.
The machine, lying concealed behind walls of stone, began to whine and groan and growl, as if it were an animal trapped in a cage. Pickering and Larran dropped to their knees and covered their ears with their hands. The whole room began to shudder, and both Shelley and his dog seemed to be vibrating from their very core of their bodies outward, while their faces twisted and contorted into the most vile expressions and grimaces that one could imagine.
However horrible this scene was, though, it was thankfully short-lived, for suddenly the machine stopped. The noise stopped. The room stopped. The man and dog stopped. Time itself and the Earth upon her axis seemed to stop as well.
When their courage returned, both Larran and Pickering stood. They looked first at each other before slowly turning their gaze to the two figures at the center of the room. Shelley lay motionless on the metal slab. Hera, Shelley’s faithful dog, was, likewise, still as could be on the table.
The men walked nearly to the center of the room. They approached Shelley, their headstrong student, and began to shake him.
“Richard, wake up. Richard!” Pickering was beginning to sound hysterical.
Larran opened the poor man’s eyes, but they were vacant and still. “Richard, it’s Drs. Larran and Pickering. Can you hear us?”
But the man did not move.
The dog, however, began to stir. Each time they called out to the man, the poor dog’s body began to twitch. In short order, the dog began to lift its head.
“My God, Pickering, the dog’s awake!” Larran rushed to the dog and removed the headset. Forgetting for the moment what the whole point of the experiment had been, Larran was shocked when the dog quickly sat back on it haunches and lifted its right-front paw to Larran. Suddenly remembering Shelley’s promised sign of proof, Larran staggered backward.
“Do it,” said Pickering. “We’ve come this far.”
Larran approached the patiently waiting dog with a good degree of trepidation. He slowly reached out his hand, took hold of the dog’s paw, and shook it. The dog barked, nodded his head, and jumped down to the floor. Crossing the room with two bounding strides, the dog repeated the rite with Pickering. And finally, with an eerie sense of pride in its three-fold bark, the dog sat on the table with an air of vindication in its eyes.
Pickering could not find any words, while Larran walked continually around the two figures in the center of the room. When he could stand the tension no longer, he said, “Richard,” while standing behind the dog, who immediately spun around, sat down, and wagged its tail with…recognition of its own (old) name.
“Richard, is that you in there?” The dog barked and nodded. Still the tail was wagging with a prideful glee.
“Have you really done it, Shelley?” asked Pickering from across the room. The dog, again, spun around to nod in response. “God in Heaven! He’s done it,” Pickering called to Larran across the lab.
“He has, indeed,” came Larran’s hollow reply. “What do you we do now? How long before Shelley’s consciousness returns to his body?”
Suddenly, as if in response to Larran’s question, Shelley’s body begun to shudder. Then, as if waking from a nightmare, the body shot straight up, eyes wide with fear or pain or something far worse, and a horrifying, guttural scream came from its lips. Then, its eyes rolled back into its head, and it fell backward, lying in a heap on the slab.