"Spike"

The fifty-first Entry in the

Electronic Journal of 15-yr.-old

Mika Ja'an

Somewhere in the Australian Outback

5-21-2445

I found something amazing! The people from GSI, the Government Science Institution, can never find out. If they did, they would take it away from me, and I can't let that happen.

It all started two days ago when my best friend, Dana, who's almost twenty, and I went off into the desert just for fun. And also, to get out of the dome and away from the social worker who is supposed to be watching us. You see, here in the twenty-fifth century, all the big cities are enclosed in domes that filter out "harmful" UV rays, and regulate the weather. Even smaller cities are beginning to be covered. I've even heard talk that the government's next project will be to enclose all the landmasses except Antarctica, and the Arctic Circle. That might sound O.K. at first, but I need my open space. If the whole world were just one big dome, I'd die of boredom. Life in the domes is not as great as the government wants us to think. First, all the light is artificial; there's no rain, no sun, and no wind. Second, everything looks so similar…all gray. You can only look at tons of machinery for so long without going berserk. Also, since Dana and I are orphans, and minors, we are assigned a social worker to look after us. Ever since the early twenty-third century, when the mass population was altered by genetic experiments, the age of minors keeps going up. In 2045, when people lived to be eighty, the age at which you legally became an adult was only eighteen. Now, in 2445, since people live to be about two hundred and eighty, you're not legally an adult until you turn sixty-three. So, needless to say, Dana and I are in the same boat in terms of age. Fortunately, our social worker doesn't like her job, and doesn't keep a very good eye on us most of the time. The nineteenth was one of those days.

Like I said, Dana and I went out into the Outback to explore; something we do quite a bit. We had gone about three miles from the outskirts of the dome when we heard a strange scuffling noise. We stood still for a minute to determine where it was coming from. We picked our direction, and followed the noises. We had gone about a hundred yards when we saw something digging in the sand. It was about ten inches long, and had spines the size of small pencils covering the top half of it, and a long snout that came to a point. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it. I pulled out my pocket scanner, and pointed it at the thing. The readings I got were very odd. The computer readout said:

Biological Lifeform

Genetically Un-altered Species Type: Unknown

As a book I once read said, "Curiouser and curiouser." There weren't supposed to be any genetically unaltered species on the planet. Actually, humans were supposed to be the only species on the planet. Dana and I talked it over for a minute, and, being the adventurous types, decided to catch it. (Hey, I said we were being adventurous, not intelligent!) Dana took off his jacket. He held one side, I held the other, and we sneaked up to within three feet of the creature. Then we lunged, putting the jacket over the top of it, and then pulling it up under it, catching it in a makeshift bag. We had done it! It was ours! And…night was falling. We had to be back in the dome before curfew, or risk getting into big trouble. We tied the sleeves of the jacket together, and then put it in my backpack. Strangely enough, the funny little critter was taking its capture rather well. By the time we had gotten back to the dome's edge, it had partially wormed its way out of the jacket, and had its cute little nose poking out the top of my pack. Fortunately, Dana noticed, and stuck it back in before we passed the border patrollers. If he hadn't, they probably would've confiscated it.

After we got back to our "house," the thirty story building we live in, we ran up to the thirtieth floor that I get all to myself, and pulled the little prickly thing out of my backpack and put it on the floor. It pricked up its little ears, and poked its nose about sniffing the air. I rubbed its nose with my finger, and it sneezed and ran under a chair. Dana and I laughed.

"What is it?" Dana asked me.

"I have no earthly idea, whatsoever," I informed him, "although, we could get on the InfoNet and look for something like it."

We spent the next two hours looking on the InfoNet for something even remotely resembling it, and trying to figure out what to feed it. It finally ate some flavored yeast product, but didn't seem to like it very much. At the end of the two hours, we were getting desperate. I picked it up from under the sofa, where it had retreated to after eating, and placed it on the sensor bed next to my computer. I scratched its head while the computer worked. When the whirring noise stopped, the computer readout said:

Conflicting Information

Lifeform Not Registered As Existing

Species Type: Unknown Animal—Possibly Echidna, also, Spiny Anteater

That was truly strange. According to most information sources, animals hadn't existed for over four hundred years. The last recorded animal died in 2009, after the Third World War. We had found something that "didn't exist." Dana looked at me calmly, and, in a voice no more hurried than if he had been asking the time of day, said, "So, what are we going to call it?"

"Call it?"

"Yeah, what are we going to call it? It needs a name."

I rolled my eyes, but then looked down at the strange animal on the scanner plate that was absently rubbing its head on my hand, and I softened. "Let's call it Spike." It was Dana's turn to roll his eyes, but we decided to call it that anyway. Dana and I promised Spike that we would never tell anyone else about him, lest the government take him away. We'll keep our promise for as long as Spike lives. After all, not just anyone has an Echidna as a pet.