Turim lifted ears and tail, alert and raced across a field of what looked like an army of dogs gone to sleep. Yes, she could smell that some were just sleeping, but others were very near death or dying… where was he? “Baruther!” she barked. When she clapped her muzzle shut, an ice sheet the very shape of her teeth and bite fell from the air. She wagged her tail angrily, now frightened of speaking… what had done this? Never, in all her education, had she even heard one story to explain…
Then, she couldn’t stop herself anymore. “Baruther! Baruther!” she barked and growled again. She cried and yipped for him. Whined as loudly as she dared, pacing and running in idle circles among the bodies. How far had she wandered? Past the Teal’s territory, even?
Wherever she came across Wyldehounds, they lay asleep with their necks stretched for breath, or dying.
She would climb into the mountains where the Big Den was and the ancient temples. A Howler was always there, watching. And they could always see. So they must know. And way up there, they must be safe…
Turim came to the edge of the mountain and tramped around several large boulders and up croppings of jagged granite. This was not the right way…
Then, a steep wall of gravel and large sheets of slate lay out in the sun for as far as she could see. The thick ruby rocks that came from the hearts of these old mountains. Clotted red against the orange sky. Your pack would never take you this way…
Up there, Turim turned back to see what she had left. Her animals were just still dots. Ants smashed in the middle of what they were doing, loving, playing, hunting… flat and forgotten about. She got a horrible instinct then, that it wasn’t something to have just happened, but something that had happened to them, was done to them all. And then, she flicked an ear and focused on something on the horizon. A line of smoke… not a cloud… more like a black stain around the edge of an offering bowl long after the libation had dried up. There was a faint smear all around the edge of the sky. Like a skewed, horrid rainbow. She turned east and saw how thick and dark it could get when the sun tried to shine through. The mountain range on that side rose above it. She licked her teeth and thought fast.
No, she didn’t know, something that looked so horrible and it was taking the entire planet… but she should climb and get above the stain too.
Turim was thus panicked and crying, whining high through her nose when she chose to climb. The rocks pierced under her paws, the pads were bleeding. She swiped her tail wild to keep balance, but would slip and fall again. She reached the top and stepped onto a large piece of slate resting askew over crumbling rock and the solid mountain edge. She must get herself ontop of it or else, Turim, you might as well throw yourself back down over the edge!
She cast a final exhausted breath, flecks of blue ice now caught in a purple haze. A trail of her icy violet breath coiling against the cold mountain air, as if hurt by it before it dissipated. And this brave blue dog racing alongside, legs shaking… the black taint raced alongside her in the air. She could smell it now as well as see it. Death, worse… she had better get above it. Mother, Father, would never, ever take you this way up, Turim!
And the brave bitch leaped.
Turim was in the air, tail up, four legs spread, pointed muzzle and jagged teeth opened to get a new breath. The black stain cut beneath her and she was desperate to come down again on that one high, suntouched sheet of rock. Beyond were trees, and the blue crests of the ice temples, she could just see them now. Then, it was gone in a flash. She touched down, her long nails scraped the flat rock and never caught hold. It leaned dangerously against her with her weight on it now. She whined as wild as a stuck puppy. The rock would tumble over her and crush her. Rocks underneath it gave way, and whatever stones had rested at the far edge of it, what she hadn’t seen from below, pitched at her. One hit her hard, in the shoulder and she could not hold on, for the pain.
“No, don’t… Turim!”
But it sounded the screeching of the night ones, come to ferry off her soul to the baying moon above the stars…
And it had claws like a harpy. Sallow skin and claws that grabbed one of her legs. Turim panicked when she saw its terrible flat face and kicked wild.
“Shh, girl, will you calm down, it’s only me. I’ve got you girl, good girl… good…”
And the creature’s other arm went and grabbed her beneath the wounded shoulder. Turim went apart when the creature touched it, just gave up and let herself be picked up.
Karen Jung backed up, dragging the dog Turim by the legs until they were on safe, solid ground again. They looked at one another. Turim was past amazement. She was an animal with its spirit broken, resigned to her fate. Karen reached out and petted the blue alien dog on the head, felt the fur and scales, so strange together. Finally, her fingers settled on a good scratch behind Turim’s ears. Turim looked at the strange large dugs across Karen’s chest… only two of them. Hardly any fur on her. And no tail at all. She was naked.
Then Turim’s gold eyes rolled up and she said to Karen, “What have your people done to us?”
Karen flinched at the accusation. She sat back on bent knees and straightened her arms, like a dog.
Part Two: When Blue Envelops
1, Crushing Velvet :: 2, Cold Cobalt :: 3, The Sapphire Hound :: 4, The Teal Pack :: 5, Lone Wolf :: 6, The High Howler :: 7, The Other Planet, Earth :: 8, This is a Dog’s World