The Kips

Kip named his dog Kip, so they would both come running if you called his name, and that’s probably the first thing you need to know about Kip to understand his reaction when Kip the Dog died.

Kip had just thrown Kip the Dog a 10th birthday and invited his human friends and no other dogs. Kip the Dog didn’t like other dogs in the apartment, and it was his birthday, after all.

That evening, after the partygoers had gone, Kip and Kip went on a walk. Kip the dog, a scruffy mutt, had mostly brown, easily shed fur, and looked like some bizarre mixture of greyhound and St. Bernard. Kip the human was four inches too short for his large head, and his hair looked a lot like Kip’s.

The two streetlights nearest Kips’ brick apartment complex didn’t light, so the sedan that was driving too fast probably didn’t see Kip the dog when his leash broke and he ran into the street in order to chase a thing he thought he saw. He was run over and the sedan didn’t stop. It didn’t stop for a moment.

Human Kip briefly saw bright hot static, instead of watching his dog get run over by an anonymous sedan, which was merciful of his consciousness. He felt the sudden sharp steel of shame cut through his stomach for the dumb sentimentality of still using the red, fraying leash he purchased when he rescued Kip.

Kip brought his dog inside the apartment complex and buried him in the barren, dirt clod courtyard in the center. No one ever talked to him about it. But Kip knew what he would say if they asked. “My dog died.”

#

A week later, Kip started building a time machine to fix this dumb mess.

It was common sense that the best way to start time traveling was to set up the first time portal, so that people could then travel to any time that the portal existed, stretching out into the infinite future.

Kip decided H.G. Wells’ technique made more sense than Doc Brown’s, and got to work on his static time portal. Seeing dogs in his neighborhood made it too painful to go outside, so he ordered groceries online. Eventually, his job stopped calling and he couldn’t afford his apartment any longer, so he moved to a giant honeycomb of a complex built too close to the ocean. The mildew and constant static roar of the waves had no effect on Kip. He barely noticed the change in environment. He was glad that there were signs on the beach forbidding dogs.

The power cells for the time machine were easy – just self-regulating hydrons, made unstable with a little irradium, which ended up releasing an infinite, easily stored, supercharged heat-like energy. A jazzy take on a perpetual motion machine, Kip repeated out loud, his cigarette stuck to his lip. He had taken up smoking because it made him hungry less often, and sleep less. Both good qualities.

Kip worked on freezing molecules into a controlled, entropic stasis until he passed out on his magnetic worktable, where he would dream of Kip the dog and wake up sobbing. The only time he stopped working was to break into his old brick complex, where he stood vigil in the courtyard. Some residents thought he was a ghost.

#

Kip time traveled on a hot day in June.

He turned on his hexagonal stainless steel time portal and listened to the hum of the hydrons. It sounded like a high pitched, constant mmm, a choir of tiny Disney mice harmonizing after a good meal.

Stepping 78 years into the future through Kip’s time portal was like stepping through a door. It didn’t feel like anything at all.

Kip cashed in on his interest-gathering digital currency, which was worth a large fortune, and traveled to Japan to find the company he researched 78 years in the past. The company now cloned dogs and installed your old dog’s memories into a synthetic organic robotic symbiote that never aged.

The process didn’t take very long.

Kip and Kip were joyfully, blissfully happy when they were reunited. Kip the dog even smelled the same. The two wandered future Tokyo with Kip on a spun spider-steel leash he had also bought from the dog cloning company. They had mostly happy days together.

But something gnawed at Kip’s periphery. Kip the Dog had been subtly improved. He didn’t chew chair legs anymore, and he didn’t bark at butterflies. He didn’t strain against his leash for no discernible reason. This Kip – Kip 2.0 – was too smart to be Kip.

#

Thanks to breakthroughs in technology, it didn’t take long to engineer the hexagon to travel backwards instead of forwards. This time, he stepped through the portal into a vast interconnected world of strands. Somewhere in the distance it sounded like a tuning fork was struck.

Kip plucked a strand that devolumized and then reanimated him 3 days before Kip the dog had died. He felt wonderful, like the trip backwards washed him, rung him out, and dried him. It was refreshing. Wasting no time, he flew back home, stole a car, and kidnapped original Kip, replacing him with Kip 2.

On Kip the Dog’s 10th birthday, Kip got into the stolen car and drove to his old neighborhood. His heart leapt when he saw his lights turn out, he counted in his head how long it would probably take to leash up Kip and get him down 5 flights of stairs. Kip could barely turn the key in his car, his hands trembled so much. But the timing worked out perfectly – he revved the engine, drove as fast as he could, and ran over Kip 2.0. Kip the human winced as he felt the bump, heard the muffled yelp of the synthetic organic robotic symbiote.

He looked over at his Kip, who was panting in the passenger seat.

He had to do it.

special thanks to Anthony Bielecki for this idea.

One thought

  1. What a fantastic story! I love the tender, human details of things like the hot static and cut of shame for sentimentality and ordering groceries on line. And there are bits of charm––they both come running––and imagery––interconnected strands and tuning forks. I just really like this one.

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