Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Odin Chronicles • Episode 35: “A Good Boy” • by Kimberly Ann Smiley

…Previously, in The Odin Chronicles

Dr. Peyton Putnam collapsed onto her couch. 

It had been a day. The patients were nonstop at the Odin Pediatric Clinic from the moment she unlocked the door until after the second sun set. To top it off, a massive storm had drenched her as she walked the five blocks through town to her bungalow.

At least it was the start of the weekend.

Normally, Peyton was a little embarrassed about her addiction to Twelve Times Round the Sun, but not tonight. Tonight, she had earned a few episodes. Baxtor, the stray cat she had adopted shortly after she arrived on the planet Odin III last summer, settled on her lap as the opening notes of the theme song played.

Peyton was completely absorbed in the antics of the new detective character with the silly catchphrase when she became aware of meowing. Loud, insistent meowing. Meowing that sounded just like Baxtor, who was still happily heaped across both of her legs.

Following the sound, she opened the back door to find a ball of gray fluff curled up on the mat.

Making soothing noises, Peyton moved towards the creature. It turned, and two things were immediately obvious. It was adorable, and it was definitely not a cat. Or any other animal she recognized. The shape of it was unusual, much longer than it was wide, with massive eyes and oversized pointed ears.

She’d been told that most native animals on Odin III were dangerous, but it didn’t seem aggressive. The creature looked scared and just sat blinking up at her. After a minute, it stood and limped towards her, dragging one of its back legs behind it.

“Oh no. You’re hurt. It’s okay. Come in.” Peyton was moving before her brain had a chance to question the decision. She could never turn away a patient in pain. “Let me grab a towel and my scanner.”

By the time she’d returned, her visitor had found Baxtor’s dish and was devouring the contents.

“Probably hard to catch food with that leg, poor thing.”

Baxtor watched the creature closely but didn’t seem alarmed. That had to be a good sign. She grabbed a second dish, set it on the ground, and added a heaping scoop of cat food to each. Soon, both animals stood side by side with their heads buried in the bowls.

After the food was gone, Peyton wrapped their visitor up in the towel, careful not to jostle its leg. She slowly ran her handheld medical scanner over the unexpected patient.  A huge yawn revealed the sharp fangs of a predator, but it hadn’t attempted to bite her. 

“Looks like you’re young. Not quite a baby, but close. Definitely a boy. No known diseases so that’s a relief. The bad news is this leg is broken. But the good news is that everything seems to be in the right place. I’ll splint it, and you should be good as new soon. Until then, you can bunk with us as long as you don’t try to eat Baxtor. Or me.”

Peyton spoke softly to the creature while she splinted his leg. The creature cocked its head like it was listening, but it never made a sound.

“It’s been a long day and I think we better get you settled for the night.”

Peyton opened the hall closet and grabbed Baxtor’s carrier. Carrying it into her bedroom, she set the carrier where she could see it from her bed.

“I think you better sleep in here. We’ll see how you’re feeling in the morning and decide what to do with you then.”

Peyton placed the creature in the carrier and shut the door tightly. It quickly curled up and settled down, never making a sound.


The next morning, Peyton startled awake to a loud beep. Fumbling with her comm, she managed to hit answer before she missed the call. It was one of those annoying automated messages that Constable Jenkins sent sometimes.

“There was considerable damage from the storm last night. No injuries have been reported, but recovery will take some time. All nonessential activities are canceled for today. Additionally, there were multiple break-ins reported last night. The suspects are still at large and should be presumed dangerous. Please lock all doors and report any suspicious activity to the constable’s office immediately. Thank you.”

Peyton sighed. The constable never had positive things to report, but at least she had already been planning to stay home today to tend to her mystery guest.

Peyton looked over at the cat carrier. Big solemn eyes stared back at her.

“I’m guessing you want breakfast.”

She opened the carrier. The creature walked out and stretched. He leaned against her ankles and headbutted her hand when she reached down, just like Baxtor when he wanted attention. He definitely enjoyed pets.

“You’re a little lover, aren’t you? I think I’ll call you Romeo.”

After feeding herself and the animals, Peyton did a few chores, but still felt tired and out of sorts. All morning, she kept thinking she was hearing things. Beeps from her comm, the tea kettle, meowing. It felt like she’d spent the entire morning checking things that were perfectly normal.

At least Romeo was settling in without drama. He clearly felt better. His splint didn’t seem to slow him down. He spent the morning following Baxtor around and copying everything the cat did, even using the litter box after watching Baxtor do it. Peyton worried about letting the creature wander her house freely, and kept a close eye on it, but both animals seemed perfectly content with the new arrangement.

After lunch, Peyton finally gave up on productivity. Feeling only a little guilty, she turned on Twelve Times Round the Sun. Romeo followed Baxtor as he jumped on the couch, and both animals were snuggled up with her before the theme song ended. Baxtor was soon snoring, but Romeo seemed to stare at the screen intently.  He only looked away to rub his head on Peyton when she petted him.

“Romeo is a good boy. Such a sweetie.”

The show was ridiculous and exactly what Peyton needed. She laughed every time the detective character said his silly catchphrase, “Sounds like someone’s looking for a fight. Honey, grab my guns!” You wouldn’t think the show could work it in so often, but somehow, they pulled it off.

That night, Peyton decided to skip the cat carrier so Romeo could access the food and litter box. She left him sleeping belly up on the couch when she went to her bedroom, shutting the door to keep the animals separated while she slept.


Peyton woke to the sound of something slamming into the back door. When she heard the sound again, she grabbed her comm and hit the emergency button to call the constable.

“Hello?” she whispered. “Constable Jenkins? I think someone’s trying to break in.”

“Dr. Putnam?”


“Shoot. I’ll be there as fast as I can, but I’m a few minutes away.”

“What should I do?” Peyton’s skin felt icy with fear.

“Hide. Don’t engage with them. We’ll get there as fast as we can.”

Peyton crept as quietly as she could to her closet. The sound of her breath was loud in her ears, but after another loud bang, she heard the distinct sound of a door creaking open.

Suddenly, someone bellowed, “Sounds like someone’s looking for a fight. Honey, grab my guns!” in the exact threatening tone of the detective on the show.

Peyton wondered briefly if she’d left her monitor on before a different voice with a distinct Crystallian accent yelled, “Crap! Run!”

There was the sound of multiple people sprinting away. Soon, she heard her back door creak again and the familiar voice of Constable Jenkins.

“Hello? Anyone here?”

Peyton stumbled out of the closet and hurried towards the door.

Jenkins studied her. “You okay? The lock is busted. My deputies are checking the perimeter, but we haven’t seen anyone.”

“Someone shouted and scared them off.”

“Wh—” Constable Jenkins froze as Romeo strutted into the room. “Get behind me.” She moved so that she was between Peyton and the animal.

“It’s fine. That’s just Romeo.”

“You knew it was here?”

Peyton looked at the constable questioning. “Why are you freaking out? I splinted his leg. He’s sweet.”

“Did it hurt you?”

“Of course not.”

Jenkins’ face went through a whole series of emotions. “Do you know what that is?”

Romeo had slipped past Jenkins and was busy curling around Peyton’s ankles. Both women stared down at him. He blinked his enormous eyes and said, “Romeo is a good boy,” in a perfect impression of Peyton’s voice.

Jenkins looked shocked. “They’re mimics? That isn’t in the records.”

“It certainly explains a few things.” Peyton picked up Romeo and held him close.

“Put that thing down! It’s a Night Razor. Extremely dangerous.”

“I don’t care what he is because Romeo really is a good boy. He can stay as long as he wants.”

Kimberly Ann Smiley was born and raised in California but now lives in Mississippi after an unexpected plot twist. She has several pieces of paper that claim she is a mechanical engineer and none that mention writing, but has decided not to let the practical decisions made in her youth define the rest of her life. Her stories have appeared both here on Stupefying Stories and in Daily Science Fiction and Sci-Fi Shorts.

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