December 25, 2019 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

For a while, the WooFPAK is able to fall back into relative peace. They enjoy the ride, enjoy listening to their humans, and enjoy snuffling among the plants and brush when they stop for a brief pause. Before long, though, the group finds themselves being hooked up to the WooFMobile again.
It’s nearing evening. The sky is a mess of twilight colors. With all the issues settled between them, the pack as a whole is looking forward to this run. There’s something in the air that makes it feel like the start of something new.

“This is going to be a good run,” says Princess. “I can feel it in my bones.”

“Oh, yeah!” Chase is quick to bark his agreement. “This is going to be the best one yet!”

Zarro says, “I think we’re about to hit the north end of the trail. That’s what they said earlier, right? Do you think that means we’re going to start running somewhere else?”

Jag says, “I hope so. I know that WooFDriver is probably going to take us back to the house for a while and give us a break, but I hope it’s not a long one. I love this, coming out here and exploring.”

WoofDriver urges them forward, starting them at a sedate pace. The whir of the WooFMobile is a comforting one, as is the weight of their harnesses, the smell of the leather.

Princess asks, “even with everything that’s happened?”

“Yes,” says Chase, without even a moment of pause. “That’s only made it better! It’s been so exciting! There’s been so much going on and! It’s just been really great. I’m never going to forget this trail.”

Jag isn’t either, if he’s being honest. From the fire to the storm, and all the friends they’ve made along the way, this trail is going to be one that will always stay firmly in his memories.

And this – the last run on it – it’s going to be a good one. Princess is right. Jag can feel that truth in his bones.

At first, the run goes smoothly. The twilight sky fades away to night, leaving nothing but the stars and the moon to serve as their guiding light. The wind is strong and cutting. It smells like rain, but in a distant way. The storm isn’t going to break any time soon, and with any luck, the WooFPak and the Pit Crew will be far away from here.

In fact, the run is going so smoothly that Jag completely misses the change in the air. Thankfully, Chase, the best tracker around, doesn’t.

“Left,” barks Chase, and the dog’s look that way as if their head is on a swivel. It’s not something that they can see. It’s just a scent, buried under the coming rain.

Princess whines, her ears going flat. “Bear!”

“Bear,” echoes Zarro. “Is it close? Chase – I can’t tell!”

Chase sniffs the air so hard that he almost trips over his own paws.

“Easy,” calls WooFDriver. Their human must be worried over the slip up, because he urges them to a walk.

“It’s close,” says Chase. “But we’re upwind. I don’t think it knows we’re here yet. We’ve got to be quick and quiet.”

WooFDriver calls them to a total halt. Then he gets out of the car.

Jag can’t bite back his groan. “Really? He has the worst timing! He needs to get back in the WooFMobile so we can get out of this part of the trail!”

WooFDriver kneels down beside Chase, clearly concerned over the fact that the dog tripped. “You okay, buddy?”

WooFDriver picks up each paw, running his hand over the pad, feeling to make sure that the thick oil applied before each run is still in tact and that nothing has managed to pierce through it.

“Bear,” says Zarro. “I can smell it now.”

“We’re up wind,” says Princess. “As long as we’re quick about this, we’ll be fine. Chase, convince him you’re fine so we can keep moving.”

“I’m fine,” says Chase. And then, because the human can’t understand him, he stretches out and gives WooFDriver a sloppy lick on the side of the face. He wags his tail, too, doing everything he can think of to get them moving again.

“Alright, alright.” WooFDriver laughs. “Keep your tongue to yourself, boy.” Content with his check of Chase’s paws, he stands up, giving the husky dog a scratch on the ears. “Be more careful, buddy. I don’t want anything to hap – ”

A sound in the distance. A rumble. Branches moving.

And WooFDriver, ever curious, questions, “I wonder what that is?”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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