October 4, 2016 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

There is something wrong, although none of the dogs can figure it out at first. The birds don’t sing. The leaves don’t rustle. It’s as though the entire section of woodland simply sits here, abandoned. It’s as though there is nothing around but them.

And yet, there’s a scent.

It’s fresh. More importantly, it’s all around them. The problem is, none of the dogs can figure out what animal it belongs too.

“A badger,” tries Princess.

Jag shakes his head. “It’s too strong for that. Too bitter.

“Mountain lions smell bitter,” suggests Zarro.

Chase snorts. “There aren’t any mountain lions out here. Trust me, I know what they smell like.”

“It’s not a wolf either,” says Princess. “Or a coyote.”

Hesitantly, Jag suggests, “a big foot?”

Princess rolls her eyes. She has to slow down to get over a bramble of thorns. “Really, Jag? You don’t honestly believe in that, do you?”

“I don’t know,” admits Jag. “I mean, I’m not saying that the big foot looks exactly like the monster Betsy was talking about. But maybe there’s something out here, and the humans have just started calling it a big foot.”

Princess demands, “what would that something be?”

“I don’t know,” stress Jag. “But something! You smell it, Princess. Don’t act like there’s no chance it could be something new and weird!”

“I’m not acting like there’s no chance of it,” huffs Princess. “I’m just saying – ”

Her words are cut off by the sudden sound of branches snapping. “Woah,” calls WooFDriver. “Slow down, guys.”

The dogs listen, as they always do. The steps grow far more precise, as they try to figure out what’s in the forest with them.

“We’ve got a monster on our hands,” laughs WooFDriver, cheerfully.

But there’s no cheer among the husky dogs, for they can sense the danger. More than that, they can smell. It’s an acrid scent, almost over powering that of the predator lurking in the shadows. Fear and anger mingle together, mixing with the distinct odors of hatred and hunger.

More branches crack. The bushes several feet to the left of the dogs and their driver part, revealing two yellow eyes.

“There,” bellows Chase. He starts to run away from the beast, but he’s too late. A massive black bear lumbers into the path effectively forcing the dogs to skid to a stop. The WooFMobile swings about behind them, nearly toppling at the sudden halt.

WooFDriver throws himself to the right, trying to right the cart. It wobbles and tilts but doesn’t fall over.

“Bear,” growls Jag, hackles raising.

The bear snarls at them. It’s eyes are wide and blood shot. There’s an old wound on its flank. The fur has fallen away, revealing a place where the flesh has healed over some sort of injury. “Get out of my home,” spits the bear, words chipped and warbling. “Get out of my home! You aren’t allowed in here! No one is allowed in here!”

“We aren’t here to start trouble,” says Zarro, even as he takes a small step backwards. “We’re just passing through.”

“No,” bellows the bear, rearing up onto its hind legs. The creature bats at the air, as if trying to knock the dogs away without actually touching them. “You aren’t welcome here! Get out! Get out!”

WooFDriver says, “easy. Easy there, girl.”

The fear comes off of him in waves. He is a master at evasion, at handling the problems life deems fit to throw at him. But this? Even WooFDriver has no plan for dealing with an angry bear.
He turns the engine on in the WooFMobile. The rumbling startles the bear, who falls back onto all four feet. She roars in displeasure. “I want you gone. I want all of you gone!”

“Then let us leave,” says Princess, taking a brave step forward. “If you want us to go away, then you need to give us that chance.”

“Yeah,” says Chase, darting forward to stand beside his female companion. “We can’t leave with you blocking the path!”

“I hate you,” snarls the bear. There’s a crazed look about its eyes. The beast is broken, that much is clear. It is lost in a way that no dog nor human can fix – in a way that no one can ever make amends over.

The words of the WooFPAK go unheard. The bear takes a threatening step forward and bears her fangs. Saliva drips down the side of her maw.

Again, she snarls, “go away! Go away before I make you!”


Katelynn E Koontz – Author