September 11, 2018 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

The storm doesn’t miss them.

It rolls in sudden and fast, a swarm of black clouds that blot out the rest of the sky. Chase whines and presses close to Legacy, who stares up at the sky with a haunted sort of appearance. “It’s okay,” says Chase, because even though he’s scared and uneasy, the fear scent coming off of Legacy is something else entirely. “WooFDriver won’t let the storm hurt us. He never lets storms hurt us, and we go through a lot of them.”

“I don’t like thunder,” admits Legacy. “It’s so loud! And you can never tell when it’s coming from!”

As if the world is out to prove a point, there’s a crash of thunder. It’s loud and earth shaking. Legacy jumps, pressing back against Jim’s leg with a whine.

Jim runs his fingers over the no-longer-stray dog’s ears. “Easy, Legacy. Nothing out here’s going to hurt you.”

“We should head into town for this one,” says WooFDriver, frowning at the weather radar on his phone. “It’s supposed to be huge.”

Chris scowls. “Where did it even come from? We had nothing but blue skies when I went to sleep!”

“Don’t know,” says WooFDriver, dismissively. “But we’ve got an extra member of the pack tonight, and I don’t feel like getting caught in the rain when there’s a hotel twenty minutes down the road.”

Jim offers, “no telling if it will take pets.”

“It will take pets,” says WooFDriver, as if there’s no chance it won’t.

They pack up and head out.

The hotel doesn’t take pets.

After a very long argument, it’s decided that Jim will sleep in his truck with Legacy, and WooFDriver will sleep in the Jumbo Jet with the original members of the WooFPAK. No sooner do the rest of the pit crew scurry into their rooms than the entire sky lets loose.

It’s not a gradual drop into bad weather. It’s like someone has cut a slit in the clouds, letting all of the rain fall down in one torrential crash. The sound of it hitting the roof is enough to make Chase bury his face under one paw. “He was right!”

Zarro, stretched out next to him, flicks an ear. “Who was right?”

“Legacy!”

Zarro lifts his head, just a little. “What did Legacy say?”

“Not this Legacy.” Chase whines. “The one in in my dream. We were – it doesn’t matter where we were! All that matters is he said that a storm was coming, and it did! It came out of nowhere!”

“It’s weather,” says Jag, blithely, from the front seat. “That happens!”

Chase barely bites back an unhappy snarl. “Not with storms this big! We all know that we should have been able to feel it coming. We always feel when the air changes like this!”

It’s true.

Big storms, they get under the dogs skin. It’s an old instinct that can’t be bred out – the fact that they can tell when bad weather is coming, that they can pick up on things humans can’t, feel things humans will never be able to hope to understand.

Chase looks back out the window. The world is dark and heavy. “We should have been able to feel this.”

“He’s not wrong,” offers Zarro. “I thought the same thing. It’s like this storm came out of nowhere.”

“Weather does that,” insists Jag, stubbornly. “Right, Princess?”

Princess yawns. She’s in the very back seat, stretched out and ready for sleep. “Oh, no, count me out. I’m not getting involved in this little mess of yours. I’m – “

Thunder crashes, loud and threatening. At the same time, a jagged and very clear bolt of lightning cuts across the sky. It hits the ground and – a heavy explosion rocks the world.

The WooFPAK scrambles to their paws. Jag all but throws himself at the window, snarling. In the front seat, WooFDriver jerks awake with a startled yelp, already scrambling for his phone.

Outside, even through the dark of the night, even through the mess of the storm, it’s easy to see the black smoke billowing up from beyond the horizon.

Startled into a soft voice, Chase says, “lightning struck something.”

WooFDriver’s phone starts to ring. He fumbles with it, pressing it to his ear. “Hello?” And then, “what do you mean he’s gone?”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author