The Running Begins
Mom and Dad are dead. James is dead. Ramen is also dead. Ramen killed them and I killed Ramen. Just last night I had given Ramen a bath, fed him, and petted him until he fell asleep in his kennel. Yesterday morning, he ran three miles with me. A week ago, he went hunting with me and my dad. What had happened? Did Ramen have rabies? It was unlike any rabies I had ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of dogs with rabies. My dad was the only vet in Mason County, Alabama. I worked for him in the summer and I was planning to go to college and become a vet next fall. I was going to take over dad’s business. People around here always needed vets.
Mikey clung to me, he had finished crying. Now, we both sat against the wall staring at Ramen.
“Why can’t I go get Daddy?” Mikey asked.
I felt a lump in my throat and almost couldn’t answer. “Daddy and Mommy are sleeping. Just like James. We can’t wake them up.”
“Is Wa-men sleeping, too, Jelly?” I smiled a little. At four years old, Mikey still couldn’t say Julie or Ramen. I ruffled his blond hair.
“You know it.” I went back to staring at Ramen. It wasn’t rabies. I hadn’t seen any bites when I gave him a bath. If not rabies, then what? A mental disorder that suddenly appeared? What was new? What had been changed in Ramen’s life recently?
I stood up and felt the drying blood crack on my skin. I needed to get this off. I needed a shower, desperately. This wasn’t deer blood or wild boar blood or fish blood. This blood was human and dog blood. I carried Mikey down the hall and into the kitchen. I tried to call the police again, but no one picked up. There was no way Ramen could have cut the lines. There was no way a dog was smart enough to do that. I wasn’t smart enough to do that. Something was seriously wrong. I set Mikey on the counter. “Wait right here. Don’t move.” I grabbed a box of cereal and handed it to him. “Eat this. I’m going to go talk to Mrs. Davis. I’ll be back in a minute.”
From behind me through the glass door, there was a high pitched whine. I turned around slowly. Mrs. Davis’s golden retriever, Boxy, stood at the door, his tail was wagging. And, everything would have been perfectly normal if there wasn’t blood trailing down his front.
This has to be a nightmare.
Boxy growled and barked at us. He back up and pounced at the window. The door rattled, but the glass held. I grabbed Mikey from the counter and he dropped his cereal. He started crying again. I ran downstairs to the basement and locked the door. Above us, I could hear Boxy howling and barking as he slammed himself against the glass over and over.
I set Mikey down on the washer and turned on the lights. But, the lights wouldn’t turn on. I cussed dad’s fondness for cheap lightbulbs and ran to the boxes of camping gear. I found a solar lantern and turned it on. The light was flickering ever so slightly and I knew there wasn’t much power left. I opened the curtains on the windows to let more light in.
Quickly, I ripped open boxes of camping and hunting gear. I changed quickly in to my green pants and hiking boots with a new shirt and my mom’s old army jacket. I helped Mikey change and found two duffle bags. I filled one with clothes and the other with freeze dried food and water. I had no idea what was going on. I just new that I needed to run. Upstairs, there was a crash like breaking glass. It was breaking glass. Boxy had finally broken through the window. Mikey had started crying again and asking me what was happening. I screamed shut up at him. Luckily, he did.
I opened dad’s gun case, thanking god that Dad trusted me enough with the code. I pulled out my shotgun and put it in the carrying case. I stuffed as many boxes of bullets as I could in with it and slung it over my shoulder. Next to my father’s gun was my mothers and beside that was my bow and arrow set. I was better with those than I was with the gun. Number one in the county, and when you lived in a county of backwoods country folk who lived off of what they hunted, being number one was a huge bragging right.
But, bragging rights didn’t matter when the world you know is falling apart.
At the top of the stairs, I heard Boxy scratching at the door. I strung my bow with a hunting arrow. I would only get one, maybe two shots off at Boxy before he tried to maul me, too. And, I would need Mikey’s help to do it. While I was thinking about it, I grabbed my multipurpose hunting knife and hooked it through a loop in my cargo pants. Sitting on the washer was dad’s old camo hat. I can’t remember a day where he had not worn that hat. Now, I had an itching feeling he would never wear the hat again. I put my hair up in a pony tail and put the hat on. I gave Mikey a hug. “I need you to be brave, Mickey.”
Mickey stood at the door, his hand around the door knob. He was trying to be brave, but his whole body was shaking. With a little hand, he pushed his orange hat out of his eyes.
“Remember what I told you Mikey?” I asked him. Mikey nodded. I drew my arm back, pulling the string to my ear. Boxy barked and scratched at the door. “On three, Mikey. One... Two... Three.”
Mikey opened the door at hide behind it. Boxy jumped through coming down the stairs at me. I let an arrow go. There was a thud as it hit Boxy in the wrong shoulder. Boxy whimpered and slowed down. I pulled another arrow and shot Boxy again at just a few feet away. Boxy tumbled down the rest of the stairs, two of my arrows jutting out of his chest. Before I could feel sorry for the dog, I jumped on top if it, pulling a knife and cutting open it’s throat.
Boxy whimpered one last time before finally dying. I wiggled my arrows out from Boxy’s chest and quickly cleaned them. I tried wiping some of the blood off of me, but figured it would take to long. I grabbed one duffle bags. I could carry two, but then it would be impossible to shoot anything. I would have to make three trips to the truck and back. I had no idea how many dogs were effected. If all of the dogs in Hanson were affected, chances were all of their families were dead.
Mikey was still hiding behind the door. I coaxed him out and told him to stay close to me. We walked quickly out the door to the garage. I threw the duffle bag of clothes in the back beside some fishing gear and opened the truck. Mikey climbed in the middle. “Wait here. Don’t get out of the truck Mikey. Okay?”
“Okay. Can I have Rufus?”
Rufus was Mikey’s stuffed cat. “Sure. You can have Rufus if you stay in the truck. Where is he?”
“Bed.” Mikey smiled a seemed to calm down a little. In Mikey’s bed, above James and Ramen.
I took a deep breath. “Okay.”
I closed the truck door and ran back inside. I grabbed the duffle bag and managed to attach the gun safely to my bag. I ran back to the truck. Mikey was still sitting in the middle seat. I put the food bag in the passenger seat. “One more trip, buddy. I’ll get Rufus.”
I jogged back inside and grabbed my school bag. I dumped everything out. On the kitchen counter was my dad’s wallet. I grabbed it and his keys. I was about to go to the basement, but mom’s wedding ring caught my eye. I hesitated and grabbed that, too. What else? In the basement, I grabbed more camping things that I wasn’t able to fit in the clothes bag. All that was left now was Rufus. Better get it over quickly. I sprinted into the boys’ room and up the bunk bed ladder. Rufus was sitting there. I ran back out of the room without looking back.
To my relief, Mikey was still sitting in the car. I opened the truck door and got ready to hit the garage door button and hop in the truck. With my luck today, there was bound to be a dog waiting outside the garage door. Four or five gas containers caught my attention before I hit the button. I threw them in the back of the truck. I slammed my hand against the button and jumped in the truck. No dog was waiting in the gravel driveway. I turned the truck on and backed out.
Hanson consisted of one road an about forty houses. It was a small, unincorporated town. Everyone hunted and everyone farmed. It was about five minutes drive to Mason City, Mason County’s biggest city. And everyone had a dog or two. I drove slowly, checking each house for signs of life. There were, by the time I left Hanson, I had run over two bloody dogs and had about ten following me. I hit the highway and raced into town. I didn’t meet anyone on the way in.
This is Part One of the Second "Chapter" in The Day The Dogs Went Wild. Hope you enjoyed it!