From the author: When the first dog in space, Laika, died of panic and overheating inside Sputnik 2 in 1957, the Soviets covered up the true circumstances of her death for decades. But they couldn’t hide the truth from everyone.
We were almost not alone.
On a frigid day in 1957, Sputnik 2 went up on a Sputnik-PS rocket. You remember Sputnik 2. SOVIET FIRES NEW SATELLITE, CARRYING DOG, the newspapers said, back when there were newspapers.
We read about it in sixth grade. Our textbooks said Laika the dog orbited the earth for days and passed away gently, peacefully; man's best friend a benevolent sacrifice to the stars.
But now we know our childhood textbooks lied. FIRST DOGIN SPACE DIED WITHIN HOURS, the Internet said, almost fifty years later. A man in Moscow had dug up and analyzed Laika's telemetry data. No life signs had been detected from the capsule after the first five to seven hours, he said. She perished from panic and overheating. He showed us the tracings of her racing heart and the soaring temperatures in the cabin.
What race of monsters dooms best friends to this?
The Others considered this question, watching us watch Laika die.
Her corpse orbited our pale blue dot for less than a year before Sputnik 2 fell.
The Others fly further and further away.
This story originally appeared in Pen-Ultimate II: A Speculative Fiction Anthology.