The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Spring 2014 Results

The Divine Wow Wow

Copyright © Fiona Skepper 2014

You know the saying, nothing comes from nothing? Maybe I’ve got that wrong. Maybe it’s everything comes from nothing. No, that’s not right, but I think you understand the sentiment. Look at religion, it has been around since the beginning of time, doesn’t matter what type. They’ve dug up statues of fat goddesses with multiple breasts that are over ten thousand years old, and many people, even though they don’t do the whole established religion thing, still say they believe in God or at least aren’t willing to say they don’t. That comes from something, right? You could make an allowance for quietness on the subject because of fear, especially in countries where atheism makes religious people cranky, but a lot of people say they believe in God, simply because they do believe. It’s a question of faith, not proof. I believe there is something out there, greater than ourselves. What I really want to discuss is my Maltese Shih Tzu, Wow Wow.

Wow Wow. You should try calling it at the dog park. Half the people check to make sure they heard right. I think part of his shyness is embarrassment that he has a name that sounds like a character from one of those Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. I didn’t choose that name. I called him ‘Edgar,’ after the great American writer, Edgar Allan Poe, the one who wrote that episode of The Simpson’s – The Raven. When I first brought him to a family gathering, my four year old niece, rushed immediately to the dog, and began to torment him in very ‘cute ways’, including whacking him with her doll and pulling his tail, which he objected to and gave a few loud barks in response. Sally and her evil twin spawn, my nephew Sam, thought this outburst was hysterical and they both began imitating the barking by yelling "Wow Wow", pointing at my poor harried pet. He has been called that ever since.

I want to make it clear that I never thought my dog was particularly special when I got him, but it’s been a year now, my eyes have been opened and I can no longer deny it. I think, well, my dog can see dead people.

Don’t turn away! I mean don’t go because you think I’m nuts, if you’ve got to do something really important, do it, don’t leave the baby in the bath, but otherwise hear me out before you judge me.

Wow Wow is a pretty timid dog. When I try to get him to interact with other dogs at the park who bound up to him, tongues a-salivating, he retires under the bench I’m sitting on.

He likes to lean against my thigh when he sleeps, to make sure I’m there. He is basically miserable by himself, trying to squeeze past me out the door when I leave, or whimpering until I give in and take him with me. I didn’t realise there was a deeper reason behind this.

It started about six months ago, not long after I’d moved into my new flat. Wow Wow was lying comfortably on the couch, his body resting against mine, showing no interest in Judge Judy but making no comment. The next moment I felt a vibration, Wow Wow stood up and his whole body trembled, minutely but violently, as though he’d been plugged in. He then started making strange, gruff, little hiccup wow wows, before he eventually broke in to a tirade, wowing and barking, as though the hounds of hell were nearby. He was staring with great concentration at the living room window. There was nothing out there. The view was mostly blocked by the thick branches of trees full of twittering birds.

That was only the beginning, the staring, the trembling, the growling, the barking. I couldn’t calm him. It was as though he saw a spirit in the trees. Sometimes when he followed me to my mail box, he would break away and run out to the front nature strip and bark furiously at something unseen in the air. It was so fierce sparrows scattered.

Another time when the door of my bedroom had been left open I heard him howling, and I rushed in, only to find him transfixed with terror, and barking at the mirrored wardrobe, although the only thing I could see was his reflection.

The vet declared that Wow Wow was ‘perfectly healthy’, and added the very unhelpful comment that ‘dogs sometimes bark.’

It was clear that no one was taking the world of the spirit seriously as an explanation. I have always been open to the possibility that our world sometimes collides with the next. When I was a child the spirit of my grandmother tried to reach me. I was contacted by a grey cat, with eyes exactly like my grandmothers. She came to my back door several times, eating the salmon I provided (Grandma’s favourite). No one had believed it then either, saying that Grandma hadn’t even died but had run off to Rio with her Latin dance teacher, but I knew the truth.

I confronted my landlord, asking if any strange occurrences or tragic events had transpired in or around the apartment block. He feigned perfect ignorance, mumbling something about the structure only being built in ‘86, by his father, who was ‘an asleep by 10:00pm sort of guy.’ I reminded him of how in the Poltergeist, they’d built the house on a Native American burial ground. He looked at me in even greater wonder. I think I gave him something to think about.

I then did what I should have done earlier, the only sensible thing: I Googled. This was how I was blessed with meeting Great Master Simeon. His website was called Creature Links to the Other World: I’m willing to believe you! It explained how animals, as simpler forms of creation, were closer to the natural state of existence and as such could contact the realm of the spirits that was barred to humans. However it was only specially chosen humans (like him). who could recognise the messages the animal was trying to convey. I felt in my soul that I had found the answer. The home page even had a picture of a white fluffy dog.

I tentatively emailed him, explaining my situation. He responded almost immediately. He didn’t dismiss my ideas; he embraced them, confirming what I had come to suspect in my heart, that I had been chosen to possess something truly special. Amazingly he was willing to come to me, all the way from his ashram in the suburbs of Moscow. He didn’t mind as long as I sent him the plane ticket. He turned up at my door only a few days later, dusty and hungry from his travels, but with what seemed to be a light emanating from his soul.

"I have come." He put out his flat palm, as though stopping traffic, to indicate I shouldn’t say anything more.

You have to believe me; I mean Wow Wow went right up to him although he was normally wary of strangers. He put his little paws up on the sage’s leg, his big eyes looked at him, his tiny tongue moved quickly, and he kept trying to reach up to him and give him some welcoming licks. He then whimpered.

"He is attempting to communicate with me. Oh really Wow Wow?" The Master patted Wow Wow on the head and gave him some pieces of the Salisbury steak that were left over from his inflight meal and which he had in his pants pocket.

"He and I need to meld together." He picked up Wow Wow. "We need absolute silence, where is the bedroom?" I showed him and they both disappeared. An hour later he stuck his head out the door. "I need to replenish with food and drink. Bread is fine, maybe in a toasted ham and cheese sandwich?"

I moved towards the fridge. His voice soft and melodic came again from down the hall.

“And drink, the fruits of the earth are the best, fermented by age and spirit, I think a bottle of Bordeaux." I ran to the bottle shop.

When he emerged a few days later, he announced proudly that I had an extraordinary creature that was ‘in touch with the other side.’ He needed to have several days of conferences with Wow Wow, one on one. No one was to interrupt him except when some of the Master’s ‘Priestesses’ arrived (I was lucky enough to get a family group rate with Qantas). Chanting and other noises associated with transcendence emanated for a while from the chamber, including a lot of yells of "Yes Master." I found it a little uncomfortable on the couch although I remembered how the Master said it was all for the greater good.

"During our melding, Wow Wow and I have travelled together to corners of the universe you couldn’t possibly imagine, so there is really no point in me explaining them. Just know that what you are doing is important."

The Master took Wow Wow on his special spiritual investigations. "We owe it to future generations," he said, "to try and make contact with the ‘other side’ and counteract any malevolent influences." They visited several people that were in need of guidance and occasionally performed exorcisms. Master Simeon charged me very little for his watchful care.

The servants of Evil found another way to disrupt our mission however. One day there was a loud knock on the door. "Immigration." What a fuss they made! They charged into the chamber but he had disappeared. I wondered if he had transformed into pure spirit. However he was found two blocks away, limping from a fall, and my drainpipe was bent at a ninety degree angle.

They way those enforcers went on about visas. Yes he accepted payment but all for the good of Creature Links, and his interest rates were far more reasonable than a bank. It was a vocation not work. I visited him at the detention centre just before he was put on the plane.

Right now Wow Wow sits beside me, mediating, and grooming himself a little. The Master has passed the torch to me, and although I am not in touch with the fellowship of the universe like him, I try my best. I forward all gifts from grateful contributors to a bank account in Geneva in the name of Ivan F. Pavlov, as the Master directed. I am now truly Wow Wow’s protector. I wait anxiously for a tremble to indicate contact is occurring again. They questions I had been asking all my life have been answered. I am blessed.