September 27, 2018 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

“Alright, boy.” There’s something pinched in the look on WoofDriver’s face when he kneels down in front of Chase. Around them, the world is a crashing, dark sheet of rain. It floods the earth around them in great pools, leaving both WooFDriver’s trouser legs soaked and the fur on Chase’s paws wet through.

“I don’t like this,” says Jag, from his perch just a few feet away. Jim’s got a tight grip on Jag’s leash, his fingers white knuckle tight, his face drawn, pinched.

WooFDriver puts a hand on either side of Chase’s face. “Find Legacy.”

“Okay,” says Chase, even though he just wants to go curl up somewhere and hide. He wags his tail a few times to show their WooFDriver that he understands the command, that he’ll do his best to follow through with it. “I’ll find him.”

“I don’t get why he’d take off,” says Zarro, with a huff.

Princess snarls at him, lips curling back to show off her fangs. “It’s called being scared, Zarro. Don’t act like you’ve never been there. We all saw you in those river rapids.”

“That was different,” protests Zarro, ears flicking back. He shifts from paw to paw, looking around for back up. “I didn’t pick to do that!”

“You chose to get in the river,” says Jag.

“And you chose not to listen to us,” says Princess.

Chase just looks at them all with his big, dark eyes and says, “I just want to find him.”

Chase will never fully understand what it’s like to be abandoned. He’ll never fully understand what it’s like to be alone, to be lost, and to be drowning in your own fear. For that, he’s grateful.

But, now, in this storm, as he walks through the unlit streets of town trying to chase after an impossible to find scent, he comes close to it. WooFDriver is at the end of Chase’s lead. The rest of the pack’s here, too.

But Chase is at the front of the group, and he can’t quit thinking about his dream.

It’s raining hard enough that the streets are flooding. Water splashes up around his paws with each step. Everything smells wet and bad and – wait, no, no, there’s something else!

Chase comes to such a sudden stop that WooFDriver trips over his feet. Eagerly, the human asks, “what is it, boy? Do you have him?”

Behind them, Jim raises his voice to be heard over the ruckus, “is he there? Do you see him?”

“Fire,” says Chase, after a long moment. He squints into the darkness. If he angles his head just right, he can find where the moonlight catches, briefly, on twists of black smoke against a black sky. “That must be what the lightning hit.”

Jag offers, “are we going to check it out?”

Chase parts his jaws, trying to breathe in any scent he can catch. After a moment, he shakes his head. It should be impossible to catch Legacy’s scent in this weather, but something full and warm in the back of his chest says, go this way, go this way, go this way.

So he listens.

Chase turns down the other street, picking up his pace. “Nope. We’re going this way.”

Jag makes a frustrated sound. “Someone could be in there!”

“We told Legacy he’d be safe,” snaps Chase, the words more growl than bark. “And I wasn’t lying to him! He’s not over that way!”

“You can’t smell him,” counters Jag. “He could be!”

Chase doesn’t mention the instincts guiding him. Instead, he demands, “if you were scared and trying to get out of the storm, would you go towards a fire?”

“No,” says Princess, easily over taking Jag. “You wouldn’t. Chase is right. He’s not going to be that way.”

“Fine,” grumbles Jag, when it’s clear that Zarro isn’t going to offer up any input on the matter. “We’ll go this way.”

Cheerfully as he can muster, Chase says, “that’s great and all, but it wasn’t really up for debate.”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author