December 20, 2019 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

As a whole, the WooFPAK decides to make the trip through the cave as quick as possible. They don’t stop to sniff anything and, with the exception of when Jag stumbles over his paws at another sudden crack, they mostly don’t slow down either. And then – there’s a sound in the distant, soft voices, heavy breathing, and a harsh whirring sound.

Jag, already on edge, freezes. “Do you smell that?”

“Let’s just get out of here,” says Zarro. “We’re almost out of the tunnel.”

The group barely makes it ten steps before two young men on bikes come ripping past them. The tunnel is narrow enough that WooFDriver and the Pit Crew have to scramble out of the way to avoid being hit.

“They smelled like smoke,” says Jag, all of his fur standing on end.

WooFDriver curses. “They could have hit one of the dogs!”

“Teenagers,” says Jim, again. He shakes his head. “They like to act as if they own everything.”

Rhett asks, “think those were the guys that were setting off fireworks?”

“Probably,” says WooFDriver. He still doesn’t sound happy. With a snort, he urges the WooFPAK to move again. “Guess we’ll find out if we don’t hear any more of them go off, huh?”

They keep walking. The fog clears up, but only because the exit of the tunnel is in sight. Jag can’t shake the feeling that something is horribly wrong, even though there haven’t been any more cracks of fireworks going off since the teenagers went past on their bikes.

As they draw closer to the exit, the smell of smoke becomes stronger, until there’s no way to ignore it. Jag bares his teeth. “I knew that I smelled smoke. Those kids have done something.”

WooFDriver echoes the sentiment, asking, “what was that about it being a high chance of fire?”

When they step out of the tunnel, it’s to the sight of a nearby plume of smoke in the woods. There’s a third bike leaning against a nearby tree, as if someone else is still behind. Jag whines. “They left someone.”

Princess snarls, “they started a fire! Maybe the one that stayed just had enough common sense to try and put it out!”

Chase whines. His tail tucks tight between his hind legs. “I don’t know, guys. I have a really bad feeling about this. Like, one of those feelings where I shouldn’t know anything but it just feels like I do.”

Instinctual feelings are often uncomfortable and hard to explain, but this one makes perfect sense. At least, it makes perfect sense to Jag, because he’s feeling the same way. “There’s something wrong. The other person would have left, if they could.”

Zarro tugs at his leash. Even as they stand there, the smoke plume is getting thicker, more wide spread. “Maybe she’s just moving slower?”

But as they stand there, waiting, watching, the humans talking to themselves in low, hushed tones, no one else comes out of the nearby tree line. Jag says, “I think there’s something really wrong.”

Princess asks, “do we need to go check it out?”

Chase prances from paw to paw, whining and throwing up a huge fuss. “I think we do, guys, I think we really need to go check this out. Something’s wrong. This other person should have been out here by now.”

“Firework fire,” says WooFDriver, finally. “And a missing person. Anyone got a phone signal?”

Rhett gestures to Guy, who’s already stepped away from the group to make a phone call. “Guy’s phoning it in now.”

WooFDriver nods, runs a hand along the back of his neck. “I guess we should just…keep going?”

“No,” shouts Chase, the word coming out as a low, drawn out howl.

Jag, trying to convey the same thought, spins around and grabs the lead for his halter in his mouth. He tugs at it like he might a toy, growling to try and get WooFDriver to understand.

“Hey, hey, easy,” says WooFDriver. “Easy!”

But Jag doesn’t stop. He tugs and pulls and throws up a fuss until WooFDriver has no choice but to relent.

They’ll find out what’s wrong – even if it means going straight into the flames.

Jag will make sure of it.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

 

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