August 22, 2016 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Randy and WooFDriver spend a bit of time talking with the trapped tour group, but Chase finds the conversation dreadfully boring. It’s not that there’s much else here of interest – rather, it’s the previous room that still holds grip on his mind.

The James Nelson Service Tunnel, that’s what Randy had called it. Chase knows that something wasn’t right about that place. It was the air – it was the way that it smelt, and the way that it made him feel. “I need to take another look in there. I’ll never be able to sleep if I don’t figure out what that scent is!”

A hand rests on the back of Chase’s head, startling him. WooFDriver says, “come on, buddy. Think we can get out of here?”

“Out,” echoes Chase, with a slow wag of his tail. “That’s probably a good idea. Jag can probably just tell me what it is later.”

It takes much longer to reach the James Nelson Service Tunnel with the additional members f their party. The college students, while not hurt, are all very much frightened. They came into the mines for a bit of fun, not because they were looking for any real adventure.

One of them, a tall and lanky young man, is very vocal in his complaints. “My feet are killing me! Can’t we stop for a few minutes?”

Randy snorts. “Can’t you be quiet for a few minutes?”

“We had a mine collapse on us,” snaps the blond. “I think I’m allowed to voice my thoughts on the matter.”

“You ain’t the only ones that’ve had a cave fall on you,” retorts Randy. He comes to a stop, spinning around to face the group of students. “But fine, have your rest! See if we get out of here before the sun sets.”

WooFDriver tried to smooth things over by saying, “just a few minutes. We don’t want to be down here for too long. There’s a whole group of people out there waiting to make sure we get out of here alright.”

“Yeah,” mutters the blond, fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.

Chase freezes. Invisible fingers rake over his fur, pushing it up on end. Hackles raise in response to the sensation, tail lowering as he looks around. The sickly sweet scent is back, but it’s stronger than before. He parts his jaws, trying to get a better grasp on the smell. “What is that?”

The blond asks, “anyone else want a smoke?”

A red haired woman takes a cigarette. Chase watches the bit of rolled paper with narrowed eyes.

“Oil?” Chase shakes his head. “No, that’s not it. But it’s something with a car. It’s – “

The blond pulls out a lighter. He holds it up to the red haired woman’s cigarette, which is held between pursed lips.

“Gasoline,” gasps Chase.

It smells like the stations that WooFDriver stops at sometimes, when he fills up the tank of the Jumbo Jet. Petrol, and diesel, and all manner of man-made grime. There’s something wrong in one of the pipes on the ceiling – Chase can hear it now, ears pricking up to catch the gentle hiss of gasoline being forced out between loosened metal brackets.

WooFDriver said, once, these places are a fire hazard.

Everyone had laughed. But was it true? Chase thinks that it might have been, and he thinks that the lighter is a very bad idea. The problem comes with the fact that humans and dogs can’t communicate in the most clear of ways, and Chase is unable to tell the college boy to stop.

Instead, he flings himself forward, stopping just shy of the blond’s legs, and growls.

“Don’t,” snarls Chase. “Don’t light that! Put it down! Can’t you smell it? Can’t any of you smell it?”

“Hey, man!” The young man yelps and jumps backwards. “Call off your dog!”

“Chase,” calls WooFDriver, surprised at the outburst. “What’s gotten into you?”

Chase snarls and growls, baring his fangs at the blond. “Put it down! Just – listen to me, please! Put it down! Put it down!”

A tug on the lead hooked to Chase’s halter startles him. Chase starts barking and howling, throwing himself about on the end of the rope in an attempt to express his concerns.

Surprisingly, it’s not WooFDriver that figures out what’s going on, but Randy. He leaps forward, smacking the lighter out of the college student’s hand. “Don’t start that up in here! Haven’t you read anything on these mines? No one’s put any effort in keeping them up to snuff with the codes. You light that up, and you could send us all sky high.”

The moment that the lighter hits the ground, Chase grows quiet. He lets WooFDriver reel him back in, and then he presses up against the older man’s legs.

“Easy,” says WooFDriver, patting Chase on the head. “It’s okay. I get it, buddy. You were just trying to keep us safe. What a good, smart dog.”

Chase preened under the praise, sitting up a little taller. “Yeah, I really, really am.”


Katelynn E Koontz – Author