THE STORY SO FAR: They called them "nubs", back when there was enough of a populace to acknowledge such things. But once the "nubs" began to appear on the backs of every dog on Earth, those who were witness to their arrival were quickly and visciously eliminated. Now, with the fate of all humanity teetering over the insatiable maw of oblivion, one of the few remaining survivors, Josh Wibler, crawls from the wreckage of civilization to witness a chilling new dawn... a Dawn of The Dogriders.
CENTRE ISLAND, REMAINS OF PARAMILITARY BUNKER: Despite once housing a crew of seasoned warriors, the bunker now appears as but a scar upon the marshy ground. Fresh dirt is strewn wildly among the corpses of men and dogs. Smoke rises from pockets of fire beneath the surface. And out of one such pocket, A HUMAN HAND EMERGES.
JOSH, 27, claws his way into the daylight, a sight resembling some sort of pagan birthing ritual. He is dyed brown with soil, peppered by wounds and bloodshed. His pain is visible across his grimacing visage. He is the only survivor of the violent skirmish which died out only moments earlier.
He sits among the carnage, speechless. His eyes glisten with the arrival of tears. His place in this world has become increasingly ill-defined. As he hangs his head, a low and repetitive thumping begins to fill his ears. Looking up, he notices the wind stirring the scorched trees overhead. Suddenly, A BLACK HELICOPTER IS DIRECTLY OVER HIM. A voice calls down over a loudspeaker.
VOICE: Phoenix. Alpha. Zero.
JOSH: Help! Hey, help me!
VOICE (insistent): Phoenix! Alpha! Zero!
The voice ceases, and the helicopter ascends slightly. Josh's tears have cut streaks of white across his mud-caked face. A ROPE LADDER unfurls from the helicopter, dangling before Josh like Christ arisen.
HELICOPTER, SOON AFTER: Josh is pulled into the massive craft by a SOLDIER in full riot regalia and brandishing a high-caliber rifle. He is tossed briskly to a row of chairs within. His uncertainties compounded, he presses his face in his hands.
JANEK: Quite the turf war you set off down there.
Sitting opposite Josh is HANSMANN JANEK, 50, a silver-haired scientist with questionable military ties.
JANEK: You see, the Dogriders don't like to sacrifice territory they've already claimed. That's why they sent a whole pack for you. Very territorial, these creatures.
JOSH: Who are you. What... what is all this?
JANEK: I suppose some explanation is in order...
JOSH: You "suppose"... I just watched the slaughter of everyone who ever meant shit to me and you "suppose" some explanation is in order?
JANEK: ... I stand by my words, yes.
JOSH: What could you possibly tell me at this point that would make the slightest shred of fucking difference? What could possibly undo the horrors I've had to witness in the past 24 hours?
JANEK: We believe they came from outer space. Their cellular composition, while very similar to the dogs they use as host bodies, is unlike anything we've come into contact with here on Earth. Simply put, it is not DNA. It exists outside the constituents of most known organic life. If anything I'd say it's like a mass of sub-atomic particles that, instead of electrons and whatever ionic components one might normally observe, there are chains of organisms , smaller still, resembling viruses. In essence, a virus made up of many smaller viruses, impossibly small by atomic standards.
JOSH: And I'm supposed to feel better about this?
JANEK: No. I'm merely allowing you to perceive what it is that's killing your entire race. And I do mean entire. If I were you I'd stay out of the Soviet Union for a while, and most of Asia Major for that matter.
JOSH: So... is this it? Is this... the end?
JANEK: For many people, yes. This is a roman tragedy of disaster scenarios, my boy. One in which savior cannot come with a dire price.
JOSH: What are you guys gonna do?
JANEK: We'll fight them, yes, we'll do what can be done. But the true goal now is the preservation of what little humanity remains. We still stand upon a world of human ideals, a world that cannot and will not cease to be, at least not while there are those with a say in the matter.
JOSH (getting angry): Why can't you kill them? Why couldn't you stop them?
The soldier turns from his post, sensing Josh's restlessness. Janek halts him with a raised hand. Returning his attention to his guest, Janek continues.
JANEK: We're returning from an assessment mission, and the assessment of this particular mission was that Long Island is no longer habitable. Similar assessments have been made regarding Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. Myself, I haven't slept in some 40 odd hours, what with all the assessing that needs to be done. I could name a dozen or more men who are currently on less sleep then myself, still, assessing. My point being that everyone, not just the army or the paramilitaries, everyone, is doing everything within their power to stop this from going any further. And should you choose to scoff at our efforts and disregard your own capacity to help... well, you're no better off than the bodies you leave behind.
JOSH: I don't know what's left to live for.
JANEK: Then maybe it's time to think about what's worth dying for.
They sit in silence as the helicopter cuts a clean path through the clouds.
PILOT (O.S.): Hang on, we're coming up on the Orange Zone.
JANEK (into radio headset): Any word from Cutter or his men?
PILOT (O.S): Negative. All comms have ceased as of fifteen-hundred hours.
PILOT (O.S.): Sir. Permission to EVAC to Hyperion Alpha?
JANEK: Negative, soldier, I want an eyeline on the Orange Zone before we even think of leaving.
PILOT (O.S.): But sir, we've only got twenty minutes...
JANEK: That's a direct order, Pilot. We're not going to lose those nukes!
JOSH: Woah woah, nukes? What the fuck are you guys doing?
JANEK: Exactly what you've surmised we're doing, my boy.
JOSH: You're gonna nuke Long Island?
JANEK: No no.... just Manhattan.
JANEK: There's a nest of them in the subways. Biggest we've seen. We've got men on the ground delivering the payload as we speak.
Janek turns to look out the window as a smoke-streaked Manhattan skyline comes into view.
JOSH: Why can't we just drop it from a plane?
JANEK: It's essential the payload is delivered to the same depth as its target. A surface impact would only harm them; it wouldn't kill them. Every Dogrider must die.
PILOT (O.S.): Oh my god. The Orange Zone is compromised! Repeat, Orange Zone compromised! We have multiple CBP's inbound!
JANEK: Good Lord, is there no stopping them!?
Through the helicopter window we see the southern tip of Manhattan Island... WITH EVERY INCH OF TRAVERSABLE SURFACE SWARMING WITH DOGS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES, EACH ONE "RIDDEN" BY PULSATING GRAY NUBS.
Makeshift military compounds stand in tatters along the major streets, entire fleets of armory left idle among throngs of vicious canines. The nubs cry out in unison, their tiny mouths screeching skyward as the helicopter closes in...
INSIDE THE HELICOPTER, everyone is scanning the streets below for survivors.
PILOT: I've got eyes on their landing craft. Looks like they made it off the boat.
JANEK: Wait a minute, takes us a block to the north.
The helicopter leans forward and cuts deeper into Manhattan. Janek spies the one item he did not want to see: THE NUCLEAR PAYLOAD CASE, A HUGE YELLOW CRATE MARKED WITH RADIATION SYMBOLOGY, COMPLETELY SURROUNDED BY DOGS.
JANEK: There's the device. (to the soldier) Scatter them, but don't detonate the weapon.
The soldier nods, tossing a gas grenade to the streets below.
The grenade explodes against the back of a large husky, spewing gas in every direction.
IN THE COCKPIT, the pilot eases the helicopter away so as not to dissipate the gas.
JANEK (O.S.): Now take us down there.
PILOT: Are you kidding me? We can't land in this!
No sooner do the words leave his mouth than A FLYING DOG WITH NIGHTMARISH GRAY WINGS EXTENDING FROM ITS NUB SLAMS AGAINST THE WINDSHIELD.
The dogflyer slams an overripe paw effortlessly through the glass, pushing the pilot against his seat.
IN THE BACK OF THE HELICOPTER, everyone reacts as the craft veers sharply upwards.
JANEK (into radio headset): What the hell's going on up there!?
PILOT (O.S.): Huuhh... aughh...
The helicopter continues to ascend at full speed.
JANEK: Take us down, that is a direct-
ANOTHER DOGFLYER SMASHES THROUGH THE WINDOW, SKEWERING JANEK WITH SPINDLY NEEDLE-PAWS.
JOSH: Woah, shit!
Janek is brutally pulled through the opening in the window, gone in an instant.
SOLDIER: MOTHER FUCKER!
The soldier leaps across the helicopter, sticking his rifle through the broken window and firing wildly.
OUTSIDE, the helicopter begins to spin out of control as more dogflyers cling to any available footholds in the metal.
The soldier screams, switching his rifle to fully automatic and emptying every shell.
SOLDIER: Get some! Get some! Get some! Get some! Get some! Get some!
A huge wolflike paw slashes the soldier's throat wide open. Josh is splashed with hot blood.
The soldier collapses, staring dead-eyed at Josh. Understandably terrified, Josh cowers against his seat. The engine begins to sputter, and a quick glance out the window reveals they are far above the city now.
Any number of thoughts flash through Josh's head. Time slows as sunlight changes directions across the shards of glass lining the floor.
Dogflyers flap eagerly outside, sensing their prey defeated.
In a move fueled by adrenaline and bloodlust, Josh charges forward over the soldier's corpse, sliding open the cockpit door. The pilot's body lies bloodsoaked in his seat. Outside, a dogflyer clings to the jagged opening in the windshield. Josh impulsively grabs the pilot's handgun from its holster.
He opens fire on the dogflyer, thrusting it backwards into the powerful helicopter blades.
Josh drags the pilot out of his seat and plants himself uncertainly before the controls. He eases the handle forward and the damaged craft points its nose to the urban sprawl below. The engine stammers, trying to recover. The city below is closing in at an alarming rate.
He sees the nuclear payload below, its sickly shade of yellow like a beacon among the scruffy dogs. He adjusts the path of the falling craft, trying in vain to line up his crash course.
JOSH: Come on, you son of a bitch. Fuck you, you son of a bitch.
The helicopter goes into a freefall, dead set on the yellow rectangle below. The dogs swarm as the craft falls alongside skyscrapers and financial institutions. As the unavoidable impact reaches out to claim Josh's life, he blocks the view with his arms.
PURE WHITE fills the air. As Josh lowers his arms, he realizes he is now standing still, alone in an endless white void.
A booming voice fills his head: it is DOGIRA, an entity that speaks on behalf of all Dogriders.
DOGIRA (O.S.): Do not alarm yourself, human. You are within our care.
JOSH: What is this place?
DOGIRA (O.S.): We have contained you between strings of time, where you shall remain until we allow your release.
JOSH: Are you... Dogriders?
DOGIRA (O.S.): We are called Dogira. We speak for our people. Your word is nothing more than that: a word. We are a reality.
JOSH: You killed my friends. Took everyone I know from me. What now, you'll kill me too?
DOGIRA (O.S.): You find yourself here because in your time you were about to commit a Dogubus: a mass death of grave consequence. We foresaw this, foresaw the great many deaths of our people. A Dogubus cannot occur. Not in this eventuality; not in any string we inhabit. So we must enact a Doxodus. We are leaving your world, but for a small reminder.
JOSH: So that's it? You're just gonna-
JOSH IS ENVELOPED BY BLINDING WHITE LIGHT.
NEW YORK, A SUNNY DAY: Light particles flutter and retreat into a perfect blue sky. Josh's eyes adjust to the blinding glare of the sun.
JOSH (cont.): - Leave me here?
Josh catches his breath. He's seated on a park bench in SoHo, his sweater warm and smelling of fresh laundry. A basketball game is taking place beyond a lane of gridlocked traffic. A woman in a blue dress walks by with a slew of shopping bags.
PUPPY (O.S.): BROUF! BROUF! BROUF!
Josh looks around, pale as a ghost. A BROWN PUPPY, no older than 2, scampers out from a line of taxis. It runs straight up to Josh and stops a few feet away, staring up at him.
PUPPY: BROUF! BROUF! BROUF! BROUF! BROUF! BROUF! BROUF! BROUF!
--- THE END ---