CHAPTER ONE: “BEFORE DOGS”
“Yo Farkel, whazzup? You look a little perplexed.”
“Oh, hi T-Bone. Hey you know that big cat Fluffy that lives on the old Goosen farmstead?”
“The one who thinks she’s a queen? Yeah, what about her?”
“Well she said that dogs evolved from snails and that to believe in some sort of supernach, umm supernacho bean…”
“You mean Supernatural Being?”
“That’s it…a Supernacho Being that created us is just a bunch of kitty litter. Anyway, that’s not what we learned in Puppy Church from Ms. Lois. She read somewhere in the Bible that God created us. So just who is right…Ms. Lois or Queen Fluffy the cat?”
“Well Farkel, howz ‘bout you and me take a little ride in the Studebaker Biblicator?”
“I don’t know T-Bone. The last time I went for a ride with you in your Master’s rusty bucket of a truck you were so nervous when it started snowing on County Road B just north of the Petite’s that you started spinning and we went in the ditch…backwards!”
“Ok, Farkel lets not bring that up again. My Master just says I have nervous issues. Anyway, follow me back to the machine shed and let’s crank up the Biblicator.”
T-Bone, a 13 year old Black Lab with the long haired coat of an Irish Setter and the temperament of Don Knotts/Barney Fife, led the way on the worn down path back to the machine shed on the southwest corner of the property. It was a large quonset nestled among some cottonwoods and elm trees. His young buddy Farkel, a Boxer & English Springer Spaniel mix, followed close along side. Farkel, barely one year old, must have had a little bit of small-dog ancestry in his blood because he was about the size of a Beagle and was close to full-grown. They had met several months earlier when T-Bone’s Master went to help Gramma Switzenberg down the road with her leaky faucet. As they walked to T-Bone’s house that first time, they talked about their backgrounds. When T-Bone found out who Farkel’s mom and dad were, he got a little bit of a grin on his face and said, “Farkel, you’re a BoxSpring!” They both laughed. Since that time T-Bone and Farkel were hardly ever seen apart from each other – they just loved being together.
“Hey T-Bone, what’s a Studebaker? And just WHAT is a Biblicator?”
“Well little buddy, you’re gonna be surprised! A Studebaker is an old car, and a Biblicator is a way for us to go back into Bible Times. My Master rigged the Studebaker with a bunch of copper pipe, a couple of really big speakers and a 1970’s boombox cassette player with the King James Bible on tape. Then he added a dehumidifier, a Magnavox VCR, a Polaris snowmobile engine and finally a monster console TV – one of those antique models with the big old tubes instead of transistors. He did have to buy a used Dell laptop to make all the computerizations and a small generator, but otherwise he just found the rest of the stuff out here on the farm. Oh, and he borrowed a couple of small football helmets from the grandkids and he got two F-15 fighter jet seat harnesses off from E-bay.”
“Wow, that’s so gnarly!”
T-Bone continued, “The car is a 1950 Studebaker Commander four door sedan with special powers that nobody ever knew about. You’ll see what I’m talking about in a minute. Hey, help me pull this heavy door open.”
Both of the dogs pulled on the knotted rope handle and then pushed open the huge machine shed door. T-Bone jumped up and flipped on the light switch. Against the glow of four 200 watt bulbs, Farkel saw for the first time what his older friend called “The Biblicator.” It didn’t look that special, sort of a dusty dull greenish gray old car with four almost flat tires.
And the unmistakable “bullet nose” front end of a Studebaker.
“Farkel, check this out.”
T-Bone pulled the hood release and when he lifted up the massive hood, young Farkel saw that the old engine was gone. In its place on the driver’s side was a 1970’s triple cylinder Polaris Star 500 engine attached to a hydraulic pump. And on the passenger side – copper pipe – about five hundred feet of extremely tightly coiled copper pipe attached to a dehumidifier and then to the hydraulic pump.
Both dogs had to hop on the hood in order to close it.
“T-Bone, what’s in the trunk?”
“The trunk has a real small Honda generator to run all the equipment and an extra tank filled with chronological fluid.”
“Chronological fluid? What is chronological fluid?”
“It’s what makes this thing go. You’ll see!”
“Wow T-Bone, this is so cool! Your master is ok with you taking it for a spin?”
“Yep, as long as I don’t’ go when it’s snowing!” he said with a smile.
When they opened the driver’s side door and hopped onto the front seat, Farkel was amazed by all of the lights and buttons and knobs and equipment. The wires that came from the two enormous speakers on top of the car were fed down the side of the windshield, into the engine compartment, through the firewall and then into the boombox sitting on the passenger side of the front seat. The laptop easily fit into the colossal glove compartment – two cables from the Dell fed into the other equipment. The first one went into the VCR sitting on the floor on the passenger side. A cable then ran from the VCR to the back of the old TV in the rear seat. On the top of the TV console sat 12 sets of rabbit-ears antennas. All of them pointed exactly in the same direction. The other cable from the laptop hooked into the boombox. The ginormous cassette player, along with the VCR, TV and laptop were all powered from the generator in the trunk.
T-Bone flipped the switch on the dashboard that was labeled “Generator.” Immediately they could feel a slight vibration as the whisper quiet Honda generator started up. Its exhaust fed through the trunk and into the car’s original exhaust system. T-Bone turned the car’s ignition key part way on – the VCR began to whir, the laptop jumped out of sleep mode and the tubes on the old TV began to glow.
While they were waiting for the TV to warm up, T-Bone decided to explain to his friend how this time machine was born. “Farkel, reach for the owner’s manual over there in the door pocket, and I’ll tell you how my Master came to build this contraption.” Farkel grabbed what seemed to be the original, albeit faded, 1950 Studebaker owner’s manual.
“One night my Master was out here in the machine shed praying and seeking the face of God and just singing hymns of praise to Jesus when the Lord began to speak to his heart.”
“You mean the Dog Creator Himself talked to him???”
“Yep, the Holy Spirit began to speak quietly to his heart and urged him to read the owner’s manual. So he started to read it – forward and backward and backward and forward; he read it for hours. Eventually he started noticing something. He scanned it into his computer and began to analyze the entire manual. Sure enough, there amidst the instructions about what kind of oil to use and how often to change the spark plugs and what the tire pressure should be, he noticed a code.”
“A code, a mysterious, ancient Studebaker code! It took him several years to decipher it, but when he did, it gave him the blueprint on how to use this old car to go back into Bible times. The neighbors thought he was nuts, kind of like in that movie “Field of Dreams,” but he just kept believing and praying. And after working through a few bugs, he finally got it to work. Although a couple of times we didn’t “quiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite” make it back to Bible times; once we actually wound up in Super Bowl I…and that Lombardi guy was NOT happy.”
“So just exactly how do we go back in time?”
“Well, let’s see…” T-Bone turned around and looked into the back seat. The console TV seemed to be warmed up enough.
“Farkel, in just a few seconds I’ll have you hit the starter button.” T-Bone pointed to one of the many buttons on the dash. “Its right here and its marked ‘Polaris.’ That will start the snowmobile engine which will then pump the chronological fluid through the copper pipes at a high velocity and then through the dehumidifier. That will get the Time Travel Vortex going. I used to have to run to the front and pull the rope to start the snowmobile engine, but I did that one time and before I could hop back in, my Master was GONE! So he rigged up a remote starter.”
Farkel could barely contain his excitement. “T-Bone, lets get going back to the beginning of everything. I sooooo want to find out if we came from snails.”
“Sure Farkel, grab the King James cassette titled ‘The Story of Creation’ and put it in the boombox and hit the pause button. Now buckle yourself in with the harness and put on your helmet and goggles.”
At the same time T-Bone strapped himself in and put on his helmet and goggles. Farkel looked at T-Bone and T-Bone looked at Farkel. Both dogs began to laugh when they saw how goofy they looked – sitting together in the front of an old Studebaker, both wearing a pair of goggles, and both wearing a football helmet covered in tinfoil. It was more than a little comical looking. Without having to say a word to each other, they both knew exactly what the other dog was thinking…Queen Fluffy would NEVER see them like this!
With a little bit of his Don Knotts nervousness showing, T-Bone asked, “You ready little buddy?”
Farkel looked straight out the windshield and gave T-Bone an emphatic two paws up.
T-Bone turned the key all the way to the “On” position.
“Ok Farkel, hit the starter button!”
The Polaris Star engine roared to life at almost full throttle and the old car began to shake and vibrate as the chronological fluid raced through the copper piping.
Suddenly T-Bone panicked. Over the noise of the Biblicator he shouted, “I forgot to set the date!”
“What?” hollered Farkel.
For the first time Farkel witnessed T-Bone’s severe struggle with anxiety and began to pray earnestly for his friend.
T-Bone frantically unhooked his harness, stretched over to the glove compartment, grabbed the wireless mouse and double clicked on the “Studebaker Biblicator” software icon. A window popped up. With his paw shaking so bad that he could hardly control the mouse, T-Bone clicked on the drop down menu, selected Genesis 1:1-2:1, and then typed in “BD” in the other field. Then he clicked on “GO!”
But another window popped up: “WARNING: DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GO HERE?”
Struggling desperately to control his anxiety, T-Bone clicked on “YES!”
When the program finally kicked in, T-Bone hurriedly got back into his seat and hooked up his harness.
“What does ‘BD’ stand for T-Bone?” Farkel hollered.
“Before Dogs! You and I are going back to Genesis 1….HANG ON! HERE WE GO!!!”
With T-Bone behind the steering wheel and Farkel in the middle of the front seat a glowing whirlpool of space began to appear in front of the old car. Instantly, in a Star Trek Warp Drive scenario, T-Bone and Farkel found themselves hurtling at incredible speed along a supernatural time highway. Two rookie angels, one on the right side of the car and one on the left, escorted the Studebaker back into time.
“Yeeeeeoooooowwwwwzzzzzzerrrrrs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Cried Farkel.
“Yaaaahoooooooooooooooooooooooh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Cried T-Bone.
Then – nothing. No farm…no machine shed…no light…no planets…no stars….no Alpo…NOTHING!
And it was dark, a pitch black kind of dark. The only light was the warm reddish glow from the instruments and TV tubes that bathed the interior of the Studebaker.
The Polaris engine shut down and the old Studebaker coasted to a silent standstill. You could barely hear the generator running.
It was just T-Bone, Farkel, the Studebaker Biblicator, and the two angels.
“Hey T-Bone, ummmmm I’m a little scared, do you mind if I sit really close to you?”
“Sure can little buddy, unstrap your harness and slide over…I got ya.”
“T-Bone, how come you’re not nervous now? You’ve stopped shaking.”
“Well I usually never get nervous when my Master is around. Or when I can sense the presence of my Master’s Master…..” T-Bone’s voice trailed off as he gazed into the blackness.
One of the angels tapped on the driver’s side window and motioned for them to hit the play button on the boom box.
The golden toned voice of Alexander Scourby reading Genesis Chapter One echoed from the speakers on the roof of the Biblicator.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Both dogs’ hearts were beating rapidly as they stared in rapt attention out the windshield. After a few moments T-Bone rolled down the driver’s side window to look around. He sensed that Someone was near.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
“Wow T-Bone, that is soooo awesome!!! But where is all that light coming from?”
“I don’t know Farkel, must be from the Creator Himself. And look at the time and date on the laptop…it feels like we just got here but it’s already been one day!”
“And God said, ‘Let there be a firmament’…And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
“T-Bone, I don’t mean to sound stupid, but what’s a ‘furma mint?’ I don’t remember Ms. Lois explaining that part. Maybe she doesn’t know either?”
“My little canine theologian, I think the firmament is the atmosphere. We’ll either ask the Master or Ms. Lois when we get back….and guess what little buddy? We’ve been here two days already! You hungry?”
“No, but I gotta go, you know, I gotta find a tree.”
“Can you hang on a little while longer? If I remember correctly, there aren’t gonna be any trees around till tomorrow.”
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear,’ and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit’…and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
The angels grabbed hold of the door handles on each side of the Studebaker and guided it down to a pristine area on one of the newly formed continents. After they landed, T-Bone stuck his head out the window. “Hey Angel! My little buddy Farkel has to go to the bathroom. Is it ok for him to use one of those brand new trees over there?”
With a stern look, the luminous warrior pointed toward a specific tree. “Use that one! And make it quick, it’s almost day four!”
Farkel hopped out of the Biblicator, did his business, and then ran around for just a little bit to stretch his legs. He was gonna go exploring for a really short time, but when he saw the look on the angel’s face, he immediately hopped back into the Studebaker.
The cassette continued to play, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,’ and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
“Wow T-Bone, the Creator is so awesome! Fluffy’s brain must be made out of Jell-O to think that we just evolved from snails.”
“Yeah, God certainly is good Farkel. We may not understand why He does things the way He does, but He sure is a good God! And look how easy it was for Him to make the Sun and Moon. He just speaks, and poof! it’s done.”
“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.’ And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.’ And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”
They angels had guided the Biblicator to the coast for a better view. T-Bone and Farkel both realized this was much better than sitting in any Omnimax theater or watching the greatest movie in 3D. They had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth, and were watching creation through the windshield of their car! Suddenly the sky was filled with a vast array of colorful birds of all sizes. And the ocean instantly began to swarm with fish and dolphins and whales and an innumerable number of aquatic creatures.
‘And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind,’ and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
“T-Bone, creepy things? I don’t like no creepy things!”
“Not ‘creepy things,’ Farkel, ‘Creeping things’ – probably all sizes and varieties of animals that run and scurry around on the ground.”
With a sudden burst of exhilaration, T-Bone almost yelled, “HEY FARKEL, DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?!?!”
Little Farkel, sitting up high in the front seat for a good view, perked up even more and started to quickly scan the landscape.
“What? WHAT IS IT???”
“DOGS! Look! Right over by that massive white pine.”
“Oh yeah, I see them! The first dogs!”
They were both so excited they were grinning from ear to ear.
“Wow T-Bone that is soooooooooo cool!”
As they continued to watch, the atmosphere became almost church-like. They were both filled with wonder at what took place next…
“And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them….And God blessed them…”
“T-Bone, I feel like I should be in church or something, this is…this is so awe-inspiring.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty remarkable Farkel. And the woman is so beautiful, but not as attractive as my Master’s wife. And the man, he looks like a young Arnold Schwarzenagger! Though when I get back to the farm I gotta ask my Master about this, because my Master doesn’t look ANYTHING like this guy. Maybe my Master was like, you know, a misfire or something.”
“Why do you say that T-Bone?”
“Because this guy’s got hair, lots and lots of hair!”
“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat,’ and it was so. And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
‘Yo T-Bone, please please please tell me there is like a ‘Day 6.9’ or something.”
“Because did you catch what the Creator just said? ‘I have given every green herb for meat.’”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Every green herb for meat???? Our supper is gonna come from a salad shooter? Are you kidding me??? Isn’t there a verse in Genesis 1 that goes, ‘And God said, ‘Let us make Alpo for dogs, and let them haveth as mucheth as they wanteth?’’”
T-Bone chuckled. “Farkel, just grab a Beggin’ Strip out of the cooler and chill. We’ll be home soon.”
After looking around for awhile, T-Bone continued, “I can’t believe we’ve been here six days already. We better get the Biblicator back to the quonset. We’ll hang around till tomorrow, say our goodbyes and then fly back.”
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.”
After asking permission from the angels, T-Bone and Farkel hopped out of the Biblicator. When they had chased each other around the Garden for about 30 minutes, they then ran toward the bank of the river that flowed out of Eden. Quite unexpectedly they caught sight of the Creator taking a leisurely walk along the shore of the river. With more than a little trepidation T-Bone and Farkel trotted over to Him. When the Creator sat down on a huge boulder, the two dogs hopped up next to Him. The Creator smiled when He saw them – both of them immediately sensed that He was a dog-lover.
He smiled at them, petted them both and pulled them close.
“How did you guys get here?” The Creator asked.
“The Biblicator Sir, the Studebaker Biblicator.”
“Ah yes,” the Creator responded thoughtfully, “Quite the marvelous invention.”
After the two dogs talked with the Creator about all that they had seen and what a wonderful job He had done, Farkel decided to ask the Creator a question.
“Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“No, not at all, go right ahead.”
“Sir, ummm, I don’t really know how to ask this…”
“Well, I don’t mean to question your judgment…”
“Ummm, well maybe I shouldn’t…”
“Farkel, what’s on your mind? Just spit it out.”
“Well Sir…ok…it’s just…”
“Farkel, it’s just what?”
“Yes Sir, cats….”
“What about cats?”
“Well Sir………….why cats?”
“What do you mean, ‘Why cats?’”
“Cats Sir, what’s the purpose of cats?”
“The purpose of cats? All of my creatures have a purpose.”
T-Bone was getting a little nervous about Farkel’s line of questioning. He elbowed his young friend in the side, hoping he would get the hint.
“But Sir, cats are, cats are….well cats are just sooooooooooooo irritating. And there’s this one that lives by us, Fluffy is her name (Queen Fluffy we call her), she’s not only irritating, she’s got ISSUES!”
The Creator looked little Farkel in the eye with such compassion. “My little Farkel, did you ever think that just maybe I use other creatures like Fluffy that are different from you (and that maybe kind of get under your skin) to teach you about love and patience and kindness?”
“But Sir…you could have used a Chihuahua for that!”
The Creator laughed. “Besides Farkel, you have issues too.”
“I have issues?”
The Creator hugged him. “Yep Farkel, you have issues, you just don’t see them right now.”
The Creator continued, “I tell you what, how about instead of Me getting rid of cats, you and your buddy T-Bone here and Ms. Lois the Puppy Church Preacher begin praying for Fluffy? I guarantee you that when you start praying for that cat that you don’t really like and ask Me to bless her and do wonderful things in her life, things will begin to change in her heart….and yours!”
It wasn’t the answer that Farkel was looking for, and with more than a little reluctance in his voice he said, “Ok Sir, we will.”
After thanking the Creator for all that He had done (and for Who He was), T-Bone and Farkel raced back to the Studebaker. But they stopped almost simultaneously about 50 yards from the car. It suddenly struck both of them that it seemed more than a little odd that there, in the middle of the Garden of Eden, sat a 1950 Studebaker Commander.
The angels opened the doors; the pair of time traveling dogs hopped back into the front seat, put on their helmets and goggles and prepared to head back to the quonset.
Farkel asked T-Bone, “Ok, so now just how do we get back?”
“Pretty easy actually,” was all T-Bone said. He reached over to the laptop, clicked on the “Studebaker Biblicator” icon, and then selected “Yes” in the “Do You Want To Go Home” option. He then pulled the VCR up onto the front seat next to Farkel.
“Ok, now when I say, “Go!” hit the rewind button on the VCR. At the same time I will press the starter button for the Polaris engine.”
Both dogs fastened their seat harnesses.
“Ready!” Farkel said emphatically.
“Hit Rewind!” T-Bone commanded. At that same instant, T-Bone hit the starter button and the Polaris Star engine roared to life again. The whirlpool vortex appeared and instantly the Biblicator was racing forward to the 21st century.
In just moments they were back to their rural Minnesota farm. They sat for a little bit just staring out the windshield, neither of them saying a word. It was hard for both of them to wrap their canine minds around what had just transpired.
In Biblicator time they had been gone for an entire week, but in earth time they were only gone for a few minutes. After soaking in what they had just gone through, they unhooked their harnesses, took off their goggles and helmets, and hopped out of the Biblicator. Neither of them spoke a word as they pushed the door of the quonset closed.
Walking back to the house, Farkel finally spoke, “T-Bone, when can we go again?”
“Well not for about a month my little HG Wells Time Traveler. It takes about 30 days for our bodies to recuperate from the side affects of the chronological fluid.”
“Oh, Ok T-Bone. Hey I gotta get home; I’ll see you tomorrow at Puppy Church! And I’m glad Ms. Lois still lets you come even though you’re not a pup anymore. All the other young dogs really like it that you’re around and can help us with our lessons.”
“See ya Farkel…and remember to begin praying for Fluffy. And start thinking about where you want to go next time in the Biblicator!”
Farkel gazed back as he started trotting down the gravel road. “Will do T-Bone!”
On his way home he began to wonder if God could heal T-Bone of his struggle with panic and anxiety. He made up his mind that each night before he went to sleep, he would pray for his friend…
Dan Vander Ark
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