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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Way of Things: A Dog Story, Chapter XXX



XXX
With the death of their queen, the Creepers shrieked, scattered, and vanished, each in a puff of smoke. In a matter of moments, the Boy, the Visitor, and the Old One were alone. Then in a flash of light, the Queen’s body was gone too.

The Boy cheered and hugged both the dogs, waving his bright stick in the air. He was happier than either of them had ever seen him and they abandoned themselves to his joy, cavorting, leaping and spinning with him. It was a heroes party and everyone was guest of honor. The dogs chased one another, bumping shoulders in mid-air, howling, yodeling and licking the Boy’s face whenever they could reach it without knocking him down.
Slowly the celebration came to an end and the three stood in the empty football field.

The Boy looked at his surroundings and for the first time questioned them. “This isn’t just a dream, is it? It’s not all in my head?”

Not all of it. The Queen was real. The Creepers were too. And the door—the door is very real. Everything else you made up, replied the Visitor.

“Am I still in my body?”

Both the dogs were at a loss as to what to say. They both knew about walking between worlds as all dogs do, but only a few could accomplish it and fewer still understood it. To them it was simply something that was done. But the Visitor tried. You can wake up if you want to, but you are also somewhere else.

The Boy seemed satisfied with that explanation. “Can I come back any time I want?”

Again the Visitor made a valiant guess.  I don’t think so. I think you only come here if the door needs protection. 

The Boy turned his attention to the Old One. “How did you know I needed help?”

The Shepherd sat down in front of the boy and studied his face. I didn’t. I was sent.

“By who?”

By the Greater Whole.

“Do you mean God?”

I think so.

Realization dawned. “You’re dead, aren’t you?”

I will be soon.

The Boy began to cry. He knelt by the Shepherd and placed his arms around him, burying his face in the dog’s fur.  “I don’t want you to die.”

The dog said nothing. He inhaled the Boy’s scent, tucking it away for later. Slowly, warmly, he licked every inch of the Boy’s face, his own eyes closed as he did so, gathering his tears up, taking the Boy’s grief into himself.

He looked at the Visitor. Be Attentive.

Always, the Visitor replied.

Carefully detaching himself from the Boy’s grip, he stepped back and looked up into the Boy’s face, taking in every detail. His tail wagged once and he vanished.

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