Storynory journeys into outer-space. This out-of-the way travelogue is told in two parts by Bonzo the dog, otherwise known to the world as Astropup. (Both parts collected here).
Bonzo is an ordinary pet, until one day his family moves to Kuwait. Pa (Dad) says that Bonzo can’t come with them, and he donates Bonzo to the Space Centre. There he meets a cat and a parrot, and from the first the three animals do nothing but quarrel. Unfortunately, they have to put up with each other’s company because they have been chosen to travel together on a mission to another planet .
You will be able to catch the second and final part next week.
Hello. My real name is Bonzo, which is quite a boring name for a dog. But nowadays, most people know me by my nickname, which is much more exciting. They call me, Astropup.
I used to live an ordinary sort of life, chewing slippers, chasing cats and birds, and generally amusing the family I lived with. They were all kind of cute, especially the little girl whose name was Jenny. Jenny used to cuddle me and take me for walks. But I always suspected that Pa didn’t like me much. He never really forgave me for the time I had an accident in his new car. I was only a very small puppy at the time, and hadn’t learnt that you have to go outside under a tree, but after that little mishap he always looked at me in a suspicious sort of way. One evening, after Jenny had gone to bed, I heard him say to Ma: “Of course we’ll have to get rid of the dog. Jenny will be upset, but she’ll soon get over it when she makes lots of new friends in Kuwait.”
I didn’t know where Kuwait was. It might as well be a different planet as far as I was concerned. But I got the message that the whole family was moving there and Bonzo the dog wasn’t going with them.
I tried to explain all this to Jenny in the morning. I looked at her pleadingly with my big brown eyes while she was eating her breakfast. She sneaked me a bit of toast under the table, which was very kind of her, but it wasn’t what I meant. Just then Pa came into the kitchen and shooed me out into the garden. Nasty man.
Normally, after Pa has dropped Jenny off at school, we don’t see him until evening, and we can all get on with our business without being shooed and ordered about, but this time he came back home straight away. I knew that something was up. Soon he was pulling me by the lead to the back of his car. I dug my heals in as best I could, but he was much bigger than me. If you are a dog, you soon learn that it’s best to trot along on the lead, rather than to sit down and be dragged. You end up at the same place, but with fewer bumps on your behind. I hopped into the car, but without any enthusiasm. Somehow I didn’t think that we were going walkies in the park. Pa drove out of the town and onto the big road. I got bored and thirsty and went to sleep on the back seat, but I didn’t have any nice dreams. Eventually I realized that Pa was parking the car, and I pressed my nose against the window to see where we were. It was a strange place, rather desperately in need of some grass and a few nice trees. It was all hot tarmac, gleaming glass, and concrete.
Pa led me inside a huge building. After a long wait, a woman dressed in a white coat came to collect me. Uh-oh, I thought. This is one of those vets. I know what that means. Kind, weezily words like: “Nice doggy, this won’t hurt you,” that nobody but a fool would believe. Then all of a sudden, a sharp jab in the behind. The treachery!
Pa left me there without so much as a curt pat on the head. "AW! AW!" If only Jenny knew that I was here. The woman put me – would you believe it, into A CAGE! The humiliation of it! Me, a loved family pet, dumped in the animal prison. For I wasn’t the only creature there. I was sharing this gaol with a cat, a monkey and a parrot, each in its own cage. I couldn’t even be bothered to snarl at the cat. What was the point? We were all suffering together.
After a while, the cat said to me:
“Stop moaning pooch features. You won’t be here long. They only need intelligent animals in this place."
“What for?” I asked.
“Why, haven’t you read the poster on the wall?” asked the cat. “Oh, pardon me. I forgot for a moment. You’re a dog so you’re too stupid to read. Well I’ll tell you. That’s a picture of a rocket, and the writing says that this is a Space Centre. This is where they pick animals to be astronauts and to go to places in the sky. But as I said, you needn’t worry. Only intelligent animals can pass all the tests.”
Of course I didn’t believe her. Cats talk the most utter nonsense – you know.
The cat hissed: “Stupid Pooch!” And I snarled through the bars of my cage. She wouldn’t have dared be so rude if I could have got anywhere near her. The parrot started repeating: “Stupid Pooch, Stupid Pooch.” And I barked and the cat screamed, and soon the woman in the white coat was in to see what all the fuss was about.
“Now, now you three,” She said. “ They can probably hear this racket on the other side of the galaxy.” She looked cross, but she did open my cage and let me out. I felt very superior as we left the others behind. But the place she led me to smelt of disinfectant mixed with pee. That was where they gave me the soft talk followed by sharp jab in the behind. I knew it! The traitors! Soon my eyes felt heavy and I wanted to take a nap. I curled round, tucked my nose under my paw, and I was out.
I woke up in a strange room. It was a bit like Pa’s car, only bigger and without any windows. The cat and the parrot were there too. The cat was eyeing up the parrot as if she wanted to eat him, but the parrot was safe behind a glass wall. The cat and I were free to roam around, so at least she had to show me a bit of respect, in case I might nip her. That was good. Things had been arranged so that I was in charge. Then some lights started to flash, and there was a rumbling noise for a long time. The cat looked as sick as a parrot and the parrot looked as sick as well, and I Iooked – probably much the same.
A voice squarked “10, 9, 8….” I looked up and saw it was the parrot speaking.
“Oh do shut up you stupid bird,” said the cat. And it was then that the whole caboodle started to roar and shake. At first it felt like my tummy was dropping down into my paws, and then, after quite a while, things seemed to go back to normal. It was quite dark, apart from some strange greenish lights. I wanted to go to back sleep, but the cowardly meowing of the cat kept me awake.
“Listen Mog," I said. “If we are all going to die, let’s die quietly. And that’s an order.” But she didn’t shut up until much later.
Eventually, I fell asleep, and when I woke up I saw that some breakfast had arrived in two bowls, one for me, and one for that cat. And the cat had eaten both of them. This was too much. I decided to kill the cat and eat her instead. That would be the end of my troubles. But when I pounced on her with my teeth bared, I found that instead of shooting towards her, I was sort of floating in mid air. My paws were paddling all over the place, but it made no difference. Even the parrot was impressed by my flying. The cat leapt out of my way, and she too was flying around like a fat balloon. This was all very strange.
After we had both settled back down on the floor, I decided to show my leadership qualities.
“Hey,” I said. “Those humans are probably watching us and think this is all hilarious. Let’s learn to be friends, at least while we are cooped up in here – and when we get out, then we can kill each other.”
Even the cat had to agree that I was talking sense, and the parrot seemed too stupid to express an opinion on the matter. From then on, we lived by some rules, the most important of which was that if anybody ate my dinner, they were dead.
I don’t know how long that awful journey went on. I used to think that Jenny’s grandma, was a long way away, but this took much longer than going to her place by the seaside. Food seemed to appear when we were asleep, and although we made the usual mess that all living things make, the straw on the floor just seemed to eat it up and it disappeared. It was a clever contraption that we were in.
Eventually, we heard the roaring sound and the contraption started to shake again. The cat was meowing: “We’re all going to die,” and I didn’t even bother to tell her to shut her silly snout.
Our journey came to its end with an almighty bump and we were all three of us thrown around the place. This time we didn’t float harmlessly around, and we all ended up with bruises, but nothing too serious. But we soon forgot about all that when a door opened in the side of the contraption, and we were greeted by the sweetest, most gorgeous smell in the Universe. Fresh, salty, sea air. So perhaps we had come to Aunty Jane’s after all, by the round-about route.
The parrot’s cage flew open and he was out in no time. The cat went sliding down a shoot, and I came after her. Soon I was splashing through the surf of the sea, and the cat was looking at me like I was crazy. The parrot was sitting up on a sand dune. I hadn’t been so pleased to be alive since I was a puppy. All I needed now was a stick to fetch, and my happiness would have been complete.
When I came out of the sea, I shook myself so that the water went flying all over the cat and the parrot – that trick never goes out of fashion, and I woofed with joy.
After a while I barked: “Cheer up Mog. Aren’t you glad that we’ve arrived?”
“I’d be happier if I saw a mouse,” said the cat. “What are we going to eat? Unless you know how to fish, we’re going to starve to death."
“Don’t be stupid,” I said. “Some humans will come along soon and take care of us. My owner’s grandma lives some where near by."
“Your owners grandma?" said that cat quite astonished. “She’s only a million miles a way. Haven’t you got it yet? They’ve sent us to another planet.”