Story by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread & Produced by Jana Elizabeth.
Thanks to Wesley who has been suggesting for a long time that we write a story about a football match (this is of course British / world / interstellar football, which some people call Soccer).
This is Richard, and I am here with the latest episode in our saga of space exploration – Astropup. You may recall that Astropup and his friends are on a mission to a distant planet and they have just said their farewells to two famous detectives whom they met on the way – let me hand you over to our storyteller Astropup.
“Right-oh,” I said. “Let’s get going.” Marlow was looking through the space atlas for the planet, Ulan 40.
“Never mind that,” said the parrot. “I’ve written a little program to fly this ship.” He picked up a memory stick in his beak and slotted it in the control panel.
“Seems like I’m out of a job,” said Marlow, with a shrug.
“Don’t take it personally,” said the parrot. “Everyone will be replaced by a machine sooner or later.”
“Ah,” I said, “but I can guarantee that a computer will never replace a dog. A dog is not about intelligence.”
“You don’t say,” remarked the parrot.
“I do, I do!” I woofed enthusiastically. A dog is all about Love. You can’t program that, can you?”
A moment later we began to take off.
We travelled for several days, or it might have been several weeks. At last, I was awoken from my space slumbers by frantic beeping. Now, if you think the ring of the doorbell or the plop of the post dropping through the box is thrilling, you should try hearing that beep beep beep after an age of silence.
Marlow heaved himself out of his sleeping pod and turned up the volume on the loud speakers of our communication system. Our ship was immediately filled with a humongous roaring sound.
I responded in the time-honoured doggy way and tried to drown out the noise by barking “Woof! Woof! Woof!”
“Are we headed for a space storm?” called out Marlow.
“No,” squawked the parrot. “We are hearing voices of animals.”
“There must be thousands of them to kick up such a din,” I said.
I pressed my nose up against one of the front portals. “I can see it. It’s a giant swarm of space flies,” I said.
“If they are flies, they are not very buzzy,” said the parrot, and he was right. Whatever they were, they had louder, screechier voices.
We could see that thousands of spaceships were swarming around an illuminated globe, like moths attracted to a light. Many of them were flying right inside it. Were they being sucked into a deadly attraction? Would we soon find ourselves drawn helplessly into the noisy, fiery star and burnt to a cinder?
I began to whimper.
“Pull yourself together dog,” commanded the parrot. “We have faced worse than this and you have lived to tell the tale in those podcasts of yours.”
“I can hear meowing,” said Marlow.
“Oh no, cat people, we’re doomed!” I howled.
“I can hear barking,” said the parrot.
“Oh fantastic! Space dogs to the rescue, we are saved,” I cheered.
Just then, a small super-speedy ship whizzed across our bows. “Woweee!” I declared. “Did you see? A poodle was flying that!”
“Impossible,” said the parrot. “Dogs’ brains aren’t programmed to pilot spaceships.”
“But don’t you know that poodles are super intelligent?” I insisted. “They do all sorts of clever tricks like walking on their hind legs and jumping through hoops.”
Soon there was no doubt about it. We were among the outer swarm of spaceships. Some ships were driven by cat people, others by dogs. You might have expected them to be fighting like, well, cats and dogs, but they weren’t – they were all speeding towards the bright star. And so were we.
“Can we survive the heat?” I asked.
“Sure we can,” said Marlow looking at his instruments. “Those lights are no more powerful than a floodlit football stadium.”
Marlow’s analogy was to prove more apt than he realised. We joined a queue of spaceships and flew through the gates of the giant globe. After passing through a long tunnel, we found ourselves flying through an open sky.
“This is remarkable. The atmosphere is similar to Earth’s and there’s artificial gravity too,” declared the parrot.
“Yes, but it’s all a bit unexpected,” called out Marlow, who was struggling to fly the spaceship under the new conditions. The metal work was warming up because of the friction with the atmosphere, and we were tossing and turning like a puppy having a nightmare. It was most sick making. Despite these difficulties, we followed the other ships and put down in what you might call a giant car park, only it wasn’t for cars, it was for spaceships and shuttles. We landed in an area designated for dogs. The cat people had their own parking spaces, far away enough to prevent trouble.
We left the spaceship via the inflatable chute, always a fun slide down to the ground. Then we inhaled the fresh-ish air and joined the madding crowd – a great sea of dogs of all shapes and sizes. I spoke to one of those new fangled breeds – a pretty creature – she might have been a Labradoodle or a Cockapoo. But at any rate she had curly hair, long legs, and a bob-tag tail.
“Excuse me miss,” I said. “We are new around this neck of the Universe. What’s all this about?”
“Why, it’s the big match, of course,” she replied.
“What sort of match?” I asked.
“It’s the ‘Interstellar Cup’ final. Dogs v Cat People. A real grudge match. We dogs won last time on a penalty shoot-out, and the felines are out for revenge. Look out, because there’s bound to be trouble.”
And oh boy, was she right. Inside the stadium, huge robocops were pushing back the crowds with electrocuting prong sticks that fizzled with sparks and sharp shocks. You should have heard the barking and meowing! 50,000 cats and cat people were singing and screeching like a massive out-of-tune orchestra, and on the other side the dogs were yapping, yelping and growling back at them.
Even where we were, in the best seats above the goal nets, the crowd was getting heated.
Our team came out of the tunnel, a fine bunch of prancing lads and lassies who were greeted by us with one giant, “YAHOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
And from the other side with a terrible,
Then out ran the cat team. How we howled at those felines on two legs. They towered over our sweeper, who was a German Shepherd. It struck me that it would be impossible for our four legged players to beat them – surely football is made for a pair of boots not a tangle of paws?
Our side though was in full voice –
“Ding Dong Dell
Pussy’s in the well.”
While the other side’s supporters were chanting in scorning, mocking and winey tones.
“How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail.”
The captains of the teams shook paws, looking like they meant to murder each other. The ref blew his whistle and the cats’ centre forward kicked off with a sneaky pass to the lanky left winger. Bam! Bif! Boot!
A few deft passes later and the ball left the right foot of a straggly looking tabby. Our goalie, a black Springer Spaniel lept across the goal mouth and just got a nose to the ball tilting it over the post for a corner.
“Great save Wesley!” barked the pretty Cockadoodle.
“Wesley! Wesley!” woofed 50,000 canine throats.
A silky cat took the corner with one of those short little excuses for a pass, and after a lot of fancy footwork, one of their forwards tapped the ball and this time Wesley couldn’t reach it. The cats went crazy and their chorus was the vilest sound that ever reached my ears – just one long screeching
But oh, what’s this? The robot referee was shaking his tin head. He disallowed the catty goal as offside – one of those technicalities of football which is so subtle that only a genius brain like the parrot’s can understand it. When the cat supporters realised that the goal had been declared a non goal, they were having none of it. That’s when they began to pelt the pitch with tins of cat food, some empty, but with dangerously jagged lids – other cans stinking of rotten tuna. The robocops drew their taser guns and sent a volley of electric darts into the seething crowd of cats – and one or two of them fired darts in our direction, just to prove that they weren’t taking sides.
At first the cat’s had the best of it, but towards the end of the first half, their energy began to wane, and the stamina of the doggy side showed through. We had a pair of beagles in mid field, and you just can’t wear those guys out. In fact, all of our four legged friends were just getting into their stride when the half time whistle went.
The second half was a totally different story. The cat people were clearly tired, and our side was still going strong. One of our guys, a tough little Jack Russel with a surprising burst of speed robbed the cat’s centre forward of the ball and started to shoot down the centre of the pitch. Just before he met their centre back, he nosed it to a Border Collie who controlled the ball with her mouth before turning around and booting the ball with her back feet into the back of the cat people’s net.
Our side went ballistic. I’ve never bayed and barked so much in my life.
But at the end of the pitch, the cat supporters were turning ugly – well even more ugly than they were before.
“Uh-oh” said Marlow, “I think it’s time to leave.”
He was right. The cat supporters had already invaded the pitch, and some of the wilder dogs were down there fighting them. The robocops found their battery packs were drained and they were no longer able to electrocute the invaders. More dogs piled in, and down below the football pitch was one big battle field. But it wasn’t our fight, and we made our way up the steps and out the back of the stands. We ran down a tunnel.
Coming the other way was a tall figure on two legs.
“Oh no, a cat person,” said Marlow.
But I knew differently. My kean nostrils were filled with a scent that was not at all feline. No, it was distinctly canine.
And that is where we must leave Astropup for now, but our story -telling hound promises to return soon to reveal the identity of the doggy smelling stranger.
In the meantime, if you look through the archives of Storynory.com, you can find many previous adventures, such our heroes’ out-sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, or their escape from the jaws of Space Sharks, or the extraordinary election in which the Parrot became President of the world and went completely mad. Now some people have claimed that these plots are a little far fetched, but Bertie has asked me to say that you never know, because real life is full of the greatest improbabilities.
For now, from me Richard.