Day of Reckoning: Chapter 4

(Recap:  Amy has been kidnapped by a psychopath.  Rudy, her golden retriever, has been shot trying to protect her.  As he bleeds, he continues his search for her…albeit slow.  Sky, Amy’s wife is also searching for her while battling the dangers of a cold and desolate forest.)

Rudy

 

32c23927fdf0b7fbae67186e503a118fRudy had tried his best to save Amy, but the bullet lodged deep in his right shoulder had kept him from it.  As much as he had tried, he now lay motionless upon the forest floor.  A light dusting of snow, from the fir branches above, covered his body.  The blanket was pure white, but the snow beneath Rudy was stained red from the blood oozing from his dying heart.

As Rudy lay there, with his eyes closed, his life began to flash before him in cinematic grandeur.  Scene 1 opened with the sight of his mother Abigail. His memory of her had faded through the months, but now he saw her as if he gazed once again through puppy eyes…

 

(eight months ago)

Rudy gazed into the brown eyes, of the beautiful Golden Retriever, named Abigail.  Oblivious of the name given her by humans, Rudy touched his nose to hers, and knew her only as momma.

It had been a long day without his litter-mates.  He was confused, and wondered where they were.  At least he still had momma, he thought, and snuggled into the warmness of her fur.  This was his favorite spot.  The rhythmic beat coming from her heart, comforted him, and always, like a lullaby, eased him into a peaceful sleep.

Rudy was roused by the noise of human banter close by.

“Well, we only have on left; the runt, but you’re welcome to take a look-see at him.  Come on in here…uh…what’d you say your name was…”

“Sky.  My name is Sky.”

“Okay, Sky, come on in here.  I like to keep the bitches, and their pups in the barn through the month of March and sometimes clean through April…you have to be prepared for that crazy blackberry winter.   I hate for them to get too cold.”

Human-talk was gibberish to Rudy; so, he snuggled closer to his momma’s heart, and buried his head in her warm golden fur.  Before sleep could claim him, he felt himself being lifted by gentle hands.  He opened his eyes, and looked down at the face of a woman with blue eyes, and short blonde hair.  Rudy yawned, blinked his eyes, and looked once again into the face of the human holding him.  This time he noticed she had big smile upon her face.

She pulled him closer and kissed him on his wrinkled brow.

“Oh my god, he’s perfect!”

Human-gibberish again, thought Rudy; but he didn’t mind; he licked the human on her nose, and thought, she smells good.

Sky laughed at the puppy’s slobbery kiss, and pulled him closer.

“So, how soon can I take the little guy home?”  Sky asked, feeling the warm bundle of fur wiggle beneath her chin.

“Well, if you got the money, you can take him today.”

“Oh, I got the money, all right!”

“Well, okay then!  Just put him back in there with his momma, and follow me to the office.  Watch ya step, there’s a couple of poop piles I haven’t gotten to yet.”

Sky kissed Rudy again, and put him back beside Abigail, who was sitting on her haunches, looking up, and wagging her tail.

“My gosh, Abigail, you are so pretty!”

Sky patted the top of Abigail’s head, and then turned to follow the man wearing denim overalls…careful not to step in poop.

“Hey, where ya going?” barked Rudy.  He jumped up to place his paws on the wire fence separating him from the humans.  His little tail wagged so fast it created a small dust cloud, as it brushed back and forth over the dirt floor.

***

Finally, on the way home, Rudy sat on the passenger side and whimpered.  The seat beneath him was cold, the smells around him strange, and worst of all, his momma was nowhere to be seen.  The lady beside him was nice enough, but he missed his momma’s heartbeat, her brown eyes, and the warmth of her fur.

“Momma…momma…” he barked shrilly.  “Where are you, momma?”

Sky placed a reassuring hand on him and crooned, “It’s okay little fellow…it’s going to be all right…I promise.”

Human gibberish, thought Rudy, and even though the warmth from the human’s hand was comforting, he barked even louder, “Momma…momma…momma!”

Finally, the car stopped, and the human got out, and closed the door.  He was alone but  a few seconds, when the car door beside him opened.  He saw the human squat, so that she was eye level, and said, “Okay little fellow, now’s the time to work your magic.”

Rudy cocked his head, and looked at the human with a confused expression upon his face.  The human laughed, rubbed his head and continued her gibberish.

“Here’s the plan…when the front door opens, you will mesmerize Amy with those gorgeous, chocolate eyes of yours…got it?”

Rudy barked as if he understood.

“You see, I’ve done something stupid, and once again I’m in hot water with my girlfriend, and you, my little one, are the prettiest olive branch I could find.”

“Let’s hope, Amy feels the same…”

Rudy cocked his head the other way, trying to understand, and once again the human laughed.  In spite of his homesickness, the happiness of her laughter made him feel a little better.  And then, he felt her lift him from the cold seat, and pull him against her for a warm hug.  Rudy’s “happy-meter” tilted a tad more to the right, and he began wagging his tail.

At the door, the human pressed a button, not once, but twice.  After a moment, they both heard footsteps on the other side.  Rudy felt himself lifted higher, and the human hid her face behind him, and whispered, “Okay, little fellow…work your magic.”

The door opened, and Rudy saw Amy for the first time.  He looked into Amy’s big brown eyes and thought, “She has the same eyes as momma!”  In that instant, Rudy’s homesickness vanished, and peace filled him.  Rudy knew he was home, and always would be, with Amy.

The magical spell was interrupted by the voice of the human behind him.

“Amy…I’m an idiot, and I’m soooo sorry…”

Amy, instead of answering Sky, took the golden bundle, pulled him close, and hugged him tenderly.

Sky, stood in the doorway and smiled; confident her plan had been a success.

 

(Present)

The mental image of Amy, cause a dying Rudy, to gasp for air.  His eyes opened to see the fir branches waving above him.  For a moment, he wondered where he was at, and then the events of the day came flooding back.

He remembered he had been on the porch, sniffing and searching for squirrels, when he caught the scent of another human.  The scent was troubling and somehow strangely familiar.  He couldn’t quite place it, but he knew he had smelled it before.  Every fiber of his being warned him that danger was near.  A winter breeze ruffled Rudy’s hair, and he lifted his nose trying to get a better whiff.

His nostrils filled with the familiar scent of crazy he had smelt before, but at that particular time they had been home.  From day one, Rudy knew this man to be evil.  He had tried to warn Amy by growling and barking, but she had scolded him, and put him in another room.  Rudy remembered laying with his nose pressed to the opening at the bottom of the door, and he stayed that way until the evil man had left the house and he knew his Amy was safe.

Rudy took one more sniff of the wintery air, just to confirm his suspicion, and then he felt the hairs of his back rise.  It was him!

Rudy began to bark and growl viciously, trying to warn Amy to stay inside, and then to his horror, Amy opened the door and stepped outside.  In the same instant the man came from around the corner of the cabin, and ran to grab Amy from behind.  Rudy saw something in the man’s hand, and knew it was meant to hurt Amy.  Without hesitation, Rudy lunge forward.  In mid-flight he heard an explosion, saw a flash of light, and then felt something hit him and hit him hard.  Whatever it was, it hit him so hard, he fell to floor at Amy’s feet.

Rudy had watched as the evil took his Amy away.  He had tried to give chase but the best he could muster was a slow limp.  As he hobbled a trail of blood followed him into the forest until he could go no further.

Rudy, covered in white, opened his eyes and blinked against the wetness of the snow.  Again and again he tried to stand only to fall to the ground. Upon each impact, intense pain wracked his body, causing him to cry out.  

He thought of Amy, and a surge of adrenaline rushed through him, helping him to find the strength to stand.  His love for Amy caused him to take a step…and another…and another…

One slow step at a time, Rudy followed, the snow-mobile tracks that led to Amy.

***

The watch on her arm, told Sky she had been following the trail for at least an hour.

She followed the two paths simultaneously; one from a snow-mobile and the other left by Rudy’s bloody paw prints.  She noticed, the farther they went the bloodier they were.

Sky wiped away the tears, that ran down her face.  She knew Rudy was losing too much blood, and so she began to prepare herself for the body she knew she would soon find.

Sky pulled her hoodie over her head, but it did little to stave off the gusts of cold wind.  The cold reminded her of the cool steel, pressed against the small of her back.  The gun fit snug behind the waist of her jeans, and it comforted her.

A month ago, she had purchased two revolvers.  She didn’t tell Amy, because she knew Amy frowned upon the idea of a gun in the house.  Sky hid one gun at home, within a box of her personal mementos that sat upon the top shelf of her bedroom closet.  She knew Amy would never look there.  The other gun, the one at the cabin, she hid under the mattress, on her side of the bed.  Sky was a little less confident of that particular hiding place.  She had pondered hiding it somewhere in the kitchen, but Amy was the cook, and so, that option had been “shot down” from the get go.  In spite of the circumstances, Sky couldn’t help but smile at the corny pun.  Amy hated her puns and silly jokes, and Sky loved to torture her with them.

Sky had wrestled often with the guilt of keeping the secret from Amy; after all, it had been that very subject that had threatened to end their relationship before.  Silently Sky thanked Rudy, because of him Amy’s heart had softened, and so she had agreed to give Sky another chance.

Sky soothed her conscience, by telling herself the guns were for Amy’s protection.  A crazy psychopath had stalked Amy for months, and just last week she had been attacked and almost raped, in a dark ally of the city.

Sky shivered to think of what could have happened if not for the good Samaritan who happened by.  Sky had wanted to thank the individual, but after chasing away the attacker and calling 911 he had disappeared.  That night while sitting by Amy’s hospital bed, Sky had made up her mind to purchase not one but two guns.

Sky felt she had no other choice, and so while Amy slept Sky excused herself from the hospital room.  She stood in the hallway and called a friend who knew a friend…who knew a friend who sold guns on the street.  At that point Sky was willing to risk their relationship in order to save Amy’s life.

Sky still felt she had made the right decision, as she lifted one painful foot and then the other.  The boots she had borrowed from Amy was a size too small, and so they rubbed against the back of heels, causing two large blisters to appear.  She grimaced with each step, but never slowed pace; her eyes were fixed upon the tracks ahead of her.  Sky was determined to get to Amy.

“I’m coming, Amy.”

Her words fell empty and flat upon the cold forest engulfing her.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

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