WEP Feb 2019 – 28 Days

This year, my contributions to the WEP challenges will be a series of connected sci-fi flash stories about a pet care shop on the Rendezvous Space Station and its owner Dinara. Every story will feature one animal and Dinara’s troubles with it.
Dinara gazed at the tiny sad creature in the cage. Jean, the buka, lifted her round eyes at Dinara and whined softly, her ears huge and limp, piling on the floor on both sides of her miniature fluffy body like a blanket.

“Why don’t you eat, you stupid little mug?” Dinara muttered. “Your master only left yesterday. It will be 28 days before he comes back. You’ll die if you don’t eat, and then he’ll have my license.”

Jean didn’t respond, just put her head on her paws and closed her eyes. The food bowl stayed untouched.

“No luck?” Dinara’s cousin Manie asked from the far corner. Manie worked part-time for Dinara’s business, Rendezvous Pets. The rest of the time, Manie was a designer at the local theater. Unfortunately, a theater designer on a space station, even as large a station as Rendezvous, couldn’t earn enough. All the theater people had part time jobs.

“She drinks, but she doesn’t eat. I don’t know what to do. She misses her master,” Dinara said.

“Try art,” Manie suggested.

Dinara snorted. “What do you mean?”

“Are there any… I don’t know… documentaries about other bukas?”

“Tons.” Dinara perked up. “That’s a great idea. Thanks, Manie.” Perhaps she could bribe the small animal with the images of other bukas. She settled in front of her com-link and typed ‘buka’ in the search box.

The list of documentaries from Simel, the bukas’ native planet, was impressive. Dinara programmed a large holo screen in front of Jean’s cage and directed the longest documentary towards it.

Jean yipped, as the other bukas on the screen climbed the cliffs and frolicked in the grass. She sprang to her feet and bounced to the food bowl. Her ears flapped like velvety wings. When the bukas in the documentary started pulling nuts from the shrubbery and crunching them, Jean in her cage crunched contentedly on her own nuts.

Dinara smiled in satisfaction. Mission accomplished. To her consternation, Jean, like every buka, was intelligent and had a good memory. Two weeks later, when Dinara ran out of the new documentaries and started replaying them, Jean lost interest in her food again.

“What are you going to do now?” Manie asked with concern. “You have another two weeks before her owner’s ship is back.”

“This little bugger is blackmailing me for a new entertainment,” Dinara replied crossly. They were having lunch together in Dinara’s office. “Do you know why they are called bukas?” She ladled more dumplings than she needed into her bowl. She was tired from her food war with the sneaky buka. She pitied the creature, of course, but she suspected that Jean only declared a hunger strike when she was bored.

Manie shook her head. “Why?”

“When the colonists first arrived on Simel and discovered them, they called the buka species Cheburashka, after an obscure cartoon character from the ancient animated movies. Because they looked like that character. Later, the people shortened that mouthful of a name to buka. I ordered all three cartoons from Earth. Our net didn’t carry them. Paid a bundle too. Want to watch, before I show them to Jean? They just arrived. I hope they’ll do the trick.”

After the first cartoon ended, Manie wrinkled her nose. “What is the other animal?”

“A crocodile, from the translation,” Dinara said absently. “I’m not sure Jean will like it. It’s so primitive. Although Cheburashka looks exactly like her.”

“Crocodiles on Earth are huge. Bigger than men,” Manie objected. “I read about them. This one is… small.”

“He wears a jacket and plays harmonica too. It’s a cartoon, Manie.” Dinara shook her head. “Let’s see if my big-eared manipulator likes it.”

Jean loved it. She finished her food in record time. She also sang along with the crocodile and his harmonica, a high-pitched whine that sounded surprisingly in tune with the melody.”

“Who knew bukas are musical,” Manie commented.

Jean’s fascination with the three short cartoons about Cheburashka and Crocodile didn’t last long.

“She stopped eating again,” Dinara complained, when Manie arrived for her shift a week later. “Darn! That, perverse little schemer! Her ugly ears will be the death of me. I’ll feed her to the fusion reactor.” She pointed an accusing finger into Jean’s cage, and the upset buka chirped distressingly. “She is acting out. She is a theater junkie, like you.”

Manie grinned. “Yeah. Kindred spirits. What are you going to do?”

“I have an idea,” Dinara growled, grabbed her com-link, and stomped out. She went to a printer shop and ordered one Cheburashka and one crocodile exactly like in the cartoon, both the size of her palm, like Jean. It took an hour to print both toys.

“I’m going to charge your owner with all my extra expenses,” she grumbled on the way back. “From Earth! I had to order from Earth, you furry exploiter.”

She flew into the shop and thrust the toys into Jean’s cage. “If you don’t start eating, you, plushy rascal, I’m going to skin you for a rug,” she threatened.

Jean twittered happily and pounced on the toys. She gobbled her food right away and wasn’t interested in videos anymore. She abandoned Cheburashka an hour later, but she kept the crocodile with her at all times, gnawing and crooning to it.

When her owner came for her, he didn’t want the saliva-encrusted crocodile at first, but Jean complained so loudly, he took the chewed-up toy. He reluctantly paid for the toys, and the Earth cartoons, and the documentaries.

“Next time, I’m taking you with me,” he said grumpily to Jean as he left Dinara’s shop. “You’re too expensive otherwise.”

“Yeah,” Dinara said smugly and fed his credit chip into her accounting software. “Next time, I’ll only take her with a ready crocodile.”
For those of you interested in bukas from Simel and how to entertain them, here is a song from the Russian cartoon Jean liked:

The crocodile sings in Russian, but I have translated his song for the curious.

Let them wade through the puddles,
Rubber boots stirring muddles,
Water running along like a brook.
Passersby cannot gather
Why in this rainy weather
I would happily carp like a rook.

When I sing my merry ditty
No one would venture near.
Alas birthday, what a pity,
Happens only once a year.

Wizard with a silver mane
Flying in a magic plane
With a movie as gay as a dream.
He will bring cake and gifts,
Yummy, wonderful treats,
And a pile of delicious ice-cream.


This entry was posted in Olga Godim, science fiction, WEP and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WEP Feb 2019 – 28 Days

  1. Nilanjana Bose says:

    This is fun and cute and lovely. Totally heartwarming, Olga. Look forward to the rest of the happenings at Rendezvous.

  2. cleemckenzie says:

    A delightful little segment of your Rendezvous tale. Great description and I loved Dinara’s voice.

  3. lgkeltner says:

    This was so clever and cute! I’m looking forward to reading your little stories throughout the rest of the year!

  4. Debbie D. says:

    This is so imaginative and entertaining! And Jean, the buka is adorable. Love the singing croc, too.

  5. I love the imaginative way you’ve described the buka and what makes him happy! It’s amazing to me what good pet care-takers will do to keep an animal happy. (Our current dog was hand-fed one time at a kennel until I convinced them that he does eat – just not on a day-time schedule and not when someone is watching him. He usually eats in the middle of the night – no matter where he is.)
    They still spoil his rotten with treats, even when he empties his food bowl overnight.

  6. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love it!! What a fun and interesting glimpse into life on the Rendezvous. Looking forward to more!

  7. rxena77 says:

    This was wonderful, caring, and so inventive. Thank you for allowing me to visit Rendezvous.

  8. patgarcia says:

    First of all, I love the song and thank you for translating it. I am a music freak! I like the story very much. I can only say Jean knew how to manipulate very well. My cat was the same way. I virtually did whatever I could to keep him happy.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  9. Toi Thomas says:

    What a fun and clever story. That little Buka sounds like my dog, only she won’t play with toys. I love Dinara’s personality and look forward to more.

  10. An adorable and humorous story. Well done, Olga.

  11. This was a lovely flight of fancy. I enjoyed meeting your characters!

  12. Jemima Pett says:

    What a clever story. Well done.

  13. Hi Olga:
    Love the story and the cartoon is so cute. We should play it for kids here, not in English. I’m all for children being exposed to multiple languages.

  14. JM Weiner says:

    Hi, Olga.
    So sweet ❤ Remind me of my mother. She can't have animals and fusses at them but she actually loves them to pieces 🙂

  15. Ha, I guess pets in the future have just as stubborn personalities as do cats and dogs of today. Good thing the master paid for the entertainment. This was an entertaining read Olga.

  16. Kalpana says:

    How wonderfully creative! You have a theme for all the prompts!! I enjoyed the story a lot and your descriptions of the buka and it’s pet blackmail were so true to life.

  17. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Nice little story. I am glad she figured out a way to keep the critter happy, though I think I’d have let her go hungry for a while to see how much resolve she had 🙂

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I want a buka!

  19. So enjoyable, Olga! What a fun romp through Rendezvous!

  20. DG Hudson says:

    Sounds like this little animal is manipulative. . .kind of like fussy cats, of which I’ve had a few. This is a nice setting, Olga, a working space station. I like it. Look forward to more in the series.

  21. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – what a brilliant take for 28 days … loved it – just perfect … and the cartoon is brilliant – sounded Russian too … but appreciate you translating it for us. As DG says the setting sounds ideal – I look forward to more space station Pet Shop carer stories … lots of off the wall tales to come – what fun – cheers Hilary

  22. Denise Covey says:

    Hi Olga!
    A delightful story. An inspired idea to have a Rendezvous Pet Shop on a space station. Gave it that little extra. Loved the characters, especially the buka. Want to know more about them. Adding the cartoon at the end and translating it for us was a nice touch. For those animal lovers amongst us, this was a heart-warming story (except for the threat at the end – the ‘ready’ crocodile. I took it that meant a real one? Maybe you didn’t mean that.

    Thanks Olga for a super imaginative take on 28 Days. Amazing how many different ideas this prompt has unearthed, lol!

    Sorry I’m late commenting. I thought I was the first commenter, but something went wrong! I always look forward to reading your offerings.


  23. So cute! Certainly look forward to all the next episodes.

  24. rolandclarke says:

    Love the buka’s deviousness – and the crocodile singing in Russian.Now I wonder how to persuade my dog to eat – videos of wolves hunting?

  25. A super-smart and musical buka as well as a crocodile that sings in Russian? Really imaginative and so cute!

  26. Thank you Olga for this. So much fun. Fills my heart with warmth and emotions. I miss when my children were little sometimes but just have to listen to a song or watch one of the stories they enjoyed for that period to come flooding back, as if it were yesterday. This is how your entry made me feel. Sorry for the delay in responding. Have a pleasant weekend.

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