December 27, 2019 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Chase loves the way that the forest looks at night. And usually, he loves that WooFDriver throws caution to the wind and heads out in pursuit of any challenge that he meets.

This time, though, it’s a concern.

This time, though, it makes Chase want to be anywhere but here.

“I don’t hear it anymore,” says WooFDriver, more to himself than to Chase. He stops in the middle of the trees, looking around. The beam of his flashlight cuts stripes into the shadows.

Chase parts his mouth and breathes in deep, but he doesn’t smell the bear now, either. Pricks up his ears and tilts his head this way and that, but he can’t hear it. They’re upwind from the bear, which isn’t a good thing, but they must be far enough away that the sound of it moving through the underbrush is gone. Which is a good thing unless –

The thought slams into Chase, hard, like falling into a cold like, or taking a tumble while he’s roughing around with Zarro.

The rest of the WooFPAK!

With a whine, Chase spins around and races to the end of the lead. He’s more than a little grateful when WooFDriver just goes with him, letting Chase lead him on a desperate gamble of a race back to where they left the WooFMobile and the rest of the WooFPAK.

As they draw closer, the sound of something large moving through the trees can be heard. Panic grips Chase’s heart. That means the bear hasn’t found the other dogs yet, but it was just a matter of time until it did!

“Stay away from them,” shouted Chase, the words coming out as a frantic bark. “You’ll regret it if you touch them!”

His answer is a louder growl. Bears can communicate with dogs just fine, you see, but they often chose not too. They were wild in ways that many animals didn’t really understand; they were human in ways that seemed to conflict with their anger.

Too much land lost to the humans made their species bitter. That bitterness made them violent. It drowned out their otherwise playful nature, leaving behind a creature that could swim in your pool one moment, and take off an arm in the next.

“I mean it,” snarled Chase. “You won’t like what happens if you bother them!”

With that one last warning given, Chase barrels forward full force, all but slamming himself through the bracken and under brush. It tugged at his fur. Little whip thin branches snapped at his ears, his maw. He knew that the same was happening to WooFDriver.

They burst back onto the path. The rest of the WooFPAK were looking harried and concerned, but there was no sign of the bear just yet.

“Okay, I’ll admit it. That was a bad idea on my end.” He hooked the dogs back up to their harnesses, giving each one a pet on the head before clambering into the WooFMobile.

“Bear’s coming this way,” says Chase. He shifts anxiously, prancing about on his paws. His gaze keeps snapping to the woods. “I wanna get out of here, and fast. I don’t want to deal with a bear, guys.”

“It’s not the first bear we’ve seen,” says Princess.

Zarro counters, “every bear is the worst. I’d rather keep it with one up close encounter.”

Jag agrees, “we got lucky that time. I’m not sure we’ll be lucky again.”

“We haven’t been lucky at all this whole trip,” whines Chase. He’s still prancing from paw to paw. When WooFDriver starts up the engine of the WooFMobile, a wave of relief crashes over them – and no sooner are they all moving again than the bear crashes out of the woods.
WooFDriver curses, a lot.

The dogs are fast, though, and the bear is only half-heartedly chasing them. They make it down the path, and the bear slows down, and then it’s just their group on the path once more; WooFDriver laughing with relief and the dogs wagging their tails and one more memory tucked away in their hearts.

It’s not such a bad run, after all.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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