ROAR is a general audience anthropomorphic anthology. This year's theme is 'Celebrity'; as you may already have guessed, I chose the celebrity conferred upon early aviators and a story set in a prewar England populated by talking dogs. (Why dogs? I like dogs.)
You might also have guessed that a scene from my story was chosen for the cover illustration by confusedoo displayed here. This is a real tailwagger of an honour for me, and I'm delighted by the portrayal.
Whipple heard it first, because he was listening hardest. Then the faint buzzing drone grew louder. All over the airfield, ears cocked and heads lifted.
“Here he comes!” yelped ‘Chalky’ White, Whipple’s assistant, his fox terrier tail whirling like a propeller.
An inkspot in the afternoon sky became a blotch, grew wings and legs. The noise increased to a roar as the little biplane dropped towards the buildings. The wheels brushed the grass, bounced once and started to roll. Then the tailskid was down and the engine’s burble died abruptly. The blur at the nose separated into a twin-blade prop whose rotations slowed until it was at rest.
In the sudden hush, the birds began to sing again.
Dogs downed tools, running towards the plane and the German Shepherd who stood upright in the cockpit, releasing his pointed ears from the leather helmet. Only Chalky remained long enough to say “Well done, Sir!” before bounding off.
Whipple, with his limp, arrived last, and the others parted for him. Mick Millson jumped down from the wing and clasped the Labrador’s black paw in his gloved one.
They shook gravely. “Well? How was she?”
“Perfect!” Mick said in that deep, laughing boom that made bitches press their paws to their hearts and whimper. “Your adjustment to the elevators was bang on. Flew like a dream.”
“What about the stall speed?”
“Gus! I’ll put it all in the report. Let me get this confounded suit off first.”
A greyhound wormed his way through the mechanics and engineers. “Mr Millson? Would you mind saying a few words for the Star ahead of the trials tomorrow? It won’t take a minute.”
“No rest for the wicked, eh?” Mick winked at his audience and strode off - tall, broad-shouldered, upright - with the journalist in tow.
Now the spectacle was over, the cluster of onlookers who had been hanging around the field began to drift away.
“Douglas! Violet!” called Whipple, limping towards them.
A pair of Labrador puppies split from the group, one black like his father, the other yellow.
“Daddy!” called Violet, jumping around him. Douglas, who was older, contented himself with “Dad!”
“Did you enjoy the landing?” Whipple asked, ruffling the sleek fur between his son’s ears.
“It was smashing! Dad, I want to be a pilot when I grow up, like Mick.”
Whipple felt a stab of disappointment. “Wouldn’t you rather be an engineer and invent wonderful aeroplanes, like your old man?”
“Naw,” said the pup, dismissing his father’s career and ambitions with a shrug. He ran off, his arms outstretched. High-wing monoplane, Whipple thought.
“What about you, Violet? Are you going to be like Mick too?”
She shook her head emphatically. “I’m going to marry Mick!” she said.
Whipple picked her up and held her close, sighing into her soft shoulder.
(Shoutout here to my dear friends raja_laba_laba, le_loup_peint and bigpupdiary, who supplied one of my characters with a surname.)
Having read the proof copy, I was impressed by the wildly different stories - some dark, some romantic, some thrilling, some feelgood - produced by a wide range of authors. But don't just take my word for it...
Preorder ROAR 4 from FurPlanet!