A Letter to My Dog, Half Pint

This last year may have been the worst one of my life, but at least I've got the world's two greatest dogs by my side to help me stagger into 2018. Today's post features a letter to Half Pint. Benjamin will be getting a letter later this week--he'd never let me hear the end of it, otherwise.

Also, this posts features a lot of short video clips of Half Pint being silly. Since I apparently can't do anything right these days, they are exclusively shot in vertical mode. Please accept my apologies (and cut me some friggin' slack).

Short Story Sunday: The Corruption of Rome



Every Sunday (okay...most Sundays), I will post a short story for your enjoyment and/or derision. This one originally appeared in Wicked Words Quarterly #2 in September 2014. All feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Also, does anyone know if Donald Trump owns a horse?


This would be so much easier with warships,” Incitatus thought as pulled the hood of his cloak over his head.

It was more a complaint of convenience than a strategic observation. Incitatus knew how difficult a conventional assault could be against these creatures. He’d been a part of the ground forces during the last disastrous invasion on this planet. What the humans lacked in technology, they more than made up for in determination and a willingness to engage in violent combat. It was part of the reason that Incitatus’ world, along with so many others, had decided that the dominant earth species could not be allowed to progress towards becoming a unified planet.

Despite their brutal nature, human technology was advancing at an alarming rate. At their current pace, interstellar travel would be possible for them in approximately 2,000 years. While that may have seemed like an infinite amount of time to some, it represented a very real and imminent threat to the rest of the universe. Fortunately, the lack of unity that plagued the human's had managed to keep them at bay, at least for the time being. They were far too preoccupied with dividing their lands by imaginary lines and warring over trivial differences to dedicate their full attention to scientific progress.

But all it would take was one of the humans’ many “empires” to unite them under one rule, thus unlocking their  species' full potential.

It could be by force, benevolence, or a combination of both—it really didn’t matter. Their planet’s focus and resources would finally be diverted from the constant expansion and defense of land ownership and into exploration. After that, years of research, study, and progress would push them to the rest of the galaxy’s front door, where the humans’ thirst for ownership over all their discoveries would surely lead to war.

The simple solution would have been just to wipe them out of existence, but the interplanetary elders refused to kill an entire planet due to the nature of its dominant inhabitant. This was probably due as much to ethical concerns as it was a desire to eventually harvest the planet for its bountiful resources. It was also an easy decision for them to make since it had been Incitatus’ people who were called upon to do the dirty work.

***

Jumping into the human’s solar system was a massive undertaking, both in regards to time and resources. In fact, it could only be done once every 1,000 years. This made it imperative that the targeted empire be eradicated completely and without any witnesses to its destruction. If the humans had a common enemy to unite against, it would only hasten their progress into other galaxies.

An empire located in earth’s Indus Valley had been the first to be targeted by the council. When the warships arrived and began their assault, the battle looked like it would be over as quickly as it began. But the humans admirably tenacious, retreating from major population centers and engaging in guerilla warfare. Their attacks were laughably futile, but they did succeed in keeping the armada on earth much longer than the allotted resources for the invasion could last. After losing far too many good soldiers to hunger and disease, Incitatus had been the one who’d authorized an atomic burn to finish off the rest.

Now, however, he was the instrument of a far different tactic. The Roman Empire had grown alarmingly powerful and advanced in a startlingly short amount of time. Rather than engaging them in a massive assault, however, Incitatus’ commander had drawn up a potentially cleaner--and much better--plan.

Let’s stop uniting them in battle and start using their greatest weakness to our advantage,” he’d said, placing two wriggling worms into Incitatus’ hand.

He secured the tiny creatures in a small compartment on his belt, then entered the pod to begin his long journey to earth—though not nearly as long as he’d remembered. Sending one operative was much quicker and easier than transporting a full-scale invasion force.

After arriving on the portion of earth known as Rome, Incitatus made sure his return pod was well hidden before making haste toward the empire’s seat of power. Upon reaching his first targeted destination, he activated his cloak, which made him temporarily invisible to the humans’ eyes. It wouldn't be able to stay on for very long without being recharged, but still provided more than enough time was to get him past the palace guards unseen. He then slinked up towards the main bedroom where his first target, Rome’s emperor, soundly slept.

During the first few months of his reign, Caligula had shown himself to be a fair and noble ruler. The people worshipped and adored him, referring to their new leader as “our baby” and “our star.” He was a bit too loose with the public’s money, but his knack for diplomacy—along with his unbridled ambition—made him a dangerous man to be leading the earth’s greatest empire. Unfortunately for him, that was going to end tonight.

Incitatus crawled up to Caligula’s bedside, making sure that the human male was fully asleep. He reached into his belt and pulled out the first worm, holding it carefully in his thumb and forefinger. Then with his other hand, he quickly reached up and grabbed Caligula’s throat, startling him awake.

You are a God,” Incitatus whispered while placing the worm into his ear. “You have no reason to deny yourself any authority or pleasure, for you are greater than all that you rule. All those who are close to you, even the ones who you trust the most, will betray you.”

Caligula gasped as the worm slithered down his ear canal and into his brain. His forehead suddenly began to burn, causing sweat to burst from every pore of his flushed skin. He gasped what sounded like a word of admonishment, then immediately blacked out.

Now to make sure that this continues to work,” Incitatus thought.

He leapt out the bedroom window to the ground below and quickly made his to the stables. He took off his cloak, causing the horses to move and shift nervously as he approached one of the nearest pens. Moving with speed that was both blinding and completely silent, Incitatus put his hand one of the horse’s necks and reached into his belt.

Conduit,” he whispered while sliding the worm into the creature’s ear.

The horse thrashed violently at first, but quickly calmed down, looking directly at Incitatus as if it waiting for further instruction.

You will be my vessel to speak with the master of this empire,” he continued, stroking the animal’s long mane. “You will be his most trusted advisor, perhaps even what he loves the most. He will even call you by my name.

The horse responded by making a motion with its head that resembled a nod.

If all went according to plan, Caligula’s rule would be diverted from its current path of greatness into one of chaos and upheaval. The worms’ influence, combined with some careful prodding from Incitatus, would begin a chain reaction that would eventually bring down the Roman Empire.

Incitatus knew that what he’d done did not constitute a permanent solution. But if this worked, then there was no reason that they couldn’t do it again in another thousand years.




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