Dirge Of Dreams
12-16-2014, 11:36 PM
Here's a short story I wrote a few months ago about a dog who's abandoned by her owners. Please let me know what you think. ^^



I

Now begins my life alone, Sylara thought, possibly the end of my life. The husky-Akita mix sat on the front porch of her home on the outskirts of Nome, Alaska. Only a hundred yards to the north lay the harsh Alaskan forest, the bitter wilderness that spelled death to any who entered. But immediately in front of her was the front door to the house, which had closed in her face only seconds before. Sylara had only caught portions of the preceding conversation between her now-previous owners�something about having no money, needing to let Sylara go. Regardless, here she now sat, ready to head out into the evening.
A small puddle in the street caught her eye as she turned, and in it she gazed at her reflection. There was her cream-and-white face, the light-gray circles around her eyes. There was the pink bow that her owners had given her several months before to hide a tear in her right ear.
Something fell from the sky and destroyed the reflection; Sylara realized that it was a drop of rain. Great, she thought, now it�s going to rain. Reluctant to leave the home that had been hers nearly all her life, she finally turned and proceeded down the street. Then she turned down a gap between two houses and headed toward the nearby forest.
Even before she finished the short trip, the rain had steadily become heavier, and already thunder and lightning disturbed the darkening sky. A raven cawed from somewhere above as she entered the woods, and for the first time she began to feel afraid. She knew nothing of how to survive in the wilderness, she realized, but to stay in town as a stray, scavenging for food and fighting for every breath? There was no way she could see herself doing that. But then, she thought, what difference was the wilderness? Here she would have to rely on her suppressed instincts for survival, hunting, and finding shelter. Yet Sylara was little more than a housedog�what chance did she have in the wild?
A loud rumble of thunder startled her from her thoughts, and she resolved to take her chances in the wilderness. After all, she was already several hundred yards into the forest, and it was quickly becoming difficult to find her way back. Beyond that, the rain was now pouring from the sky, dampening her fur and sending chills down her spine.
Sylara quickened her pace as a bright flash of lightning shone down through the foliage and illuminated a small cave in the distance. She reached the cave in a matter of minutes, the wind and blinding rain pelting her from all angles. She sniffed around to make sure there were no other occupants and entered, collapsing to the wet stone almost immediately. Then she stepped further inside, shaking off some of the water that had drenched her. Finally, she lay down to sleep, resting her head in her forepaws while the storm raged outside.
And still the storm continued. Sylara lay in her cave for several hours, but still sleep would not come. Every rumble of thunder, the sound amplified by the small cave, startled her. She curled up, shivering, trying to make herself as small as possible and so conserve body heat.
As she listened to the storm outside, Sylara began to think of her old owners then, of how they must be so warm and dry in that house. She imagined them missing her almost as much as she missed them, and soon a small tear dripped down the side of her face. If only�
The next thing Sylara knew, it was morning. The storm had ended sometime during the night, and now all was quiet.
She tentatively crawled out of the cave, the tips of her ears grazing the roof, to explore the aftermath of the storm. Hundreds of leaves and dozens of small branches littered the muddy ground, and several new puddles had formed overnight where the ground was too saturated to absorb the rain.
She approached a puddle to see her reflection again and noticed that something was different. Her fur was still damp from the rain of the previous night, and there might have been a small scrape above her eye. But no, she realized�this change was not physical, but mental. She could see every detail in the reflection, hear the smallest noise from around her. She could feel a drop of water trickle down the side of her face, taste the sweat in her mouth.
Suddenly a new scent entered Sylara�s nostrils. She looked up from the puddle to see a bear cub about fifteen yards away. Smiling, she took a tentative step toward it. The cub only stared at her blankly, so she quickened her pace slightly. �Hey there, little guy,� she said, her soft voice piercing the silence.
The cub cocked its head and began to move away from Sylara, but the dog followed further, oblivious to her surroundings. Soon the cub stopped in front of a large cave, and a second cub came into view. Sylara began to step closer to them, but she jumped at a growl from behind her. She turned, adrenaline spiking through her veins, to see a massive grizzly standing only a few feet away. Gasping, she took a step back, but the bear only bellowed louder.
Oh no, Sylara thought as the bear reared and lifted a paw.
Sylara could only stand, frozen with fear, and watch as the bear�s massive paw swung toward her head. Everything seemed to be in slow motion: the claws swinging at her, the deafening growl that pounded at her ears. And then the blow came�a crushing force that blasted against the side of her face. Her head erupted into pain as the bear�s claws left four deep cuts across her left cheek, barely missing her eye.
The force of the blow threw her to the side, and she collapsed to the ground, bleeding. Only then did her natural instincts kick in�to run away as fast as she could. But just as she was trying to stand, she felt a muscle tear in her hind leg. She grimaced and knew then that there was no running away from this. Injured though she was, she would have to fight.
She did her best to ignore the pain and decided to charge the bear. Moving as quickly as she could, she maneuvered behind the bear and leapt onto its back, digging her claws into its shoulders. The bear screamed and rapidly spun from side to side, trying to break Sylara�s hold. But the dog refused to give up and bit as hard as she could into the back of the bear�s neck.
The grizzly bellowed and staggered around for several seconds before it began to stumble toward a nearby tree. Panicking, Sylara leapt over the bear�s head, but she landed hard on her shoulder and narrowly escaped hitting a rock with her own head. The impact knocked the wind out of her, and she lay there, panting, for several seconds while the bear drew ever nearer.
In seconds the bear�s foot landed inches from Sylara�s face, so the dog rolled out of the way and circled around to leap onto the grizzly again. But before she could stand, the bear landed an inadvertent kick directly in the front of her shoulder. Sylara was thrown to the ground again, and this time her vision blurred momentarily.
Sylara could sense the bear turning behind her, lifting its paw to deliver the final blow. She waited for her skull to be crushed, but the pain�the death�did not come. She looked up just in time to see the massive paw coming down toward her. Her life began to flash before her eyes as she pulled her head back, and the bear�s claws clipped the right side of her face, tearing the bow from her ear and cutting down her cheek.
Acting solely on adrenaline, she grabbed her bow in her mouth and clenched her teeth as hard as she was able�no matter what happened, she refused to give up the one thing she still had that reminded her of her old family. Then she began to hobble away from the bear and quickly noticed that her right foreleg would not hold her weight�instead, it filled her body with numbing pain. She prayed that the bear was not following her�looking over her shoulder would hurt too much.
Whether from pain or exhaustion, she would never know, but soon her legs gave out. Her limp, bleeding body collapsed to the ground one last time. As the consciousness left her, the only thing on her mind was an image of her previous owners. Then everything was black.
____
II

It was evening. Two figures, man and dog, sat in the woods, waiting. A branch cracked somewhere ahead, and the dog took it as a signal. It stood and began to bark, pulling at its leash.
The man stood as well, grabbing his gun from the ground. �Go, Dante!� he shouted, releasing the dog.
Dante broke into a sprint and immediately caught the scent of a deer. His tongue out from the thrill of the chase, he sprang between the trees. Soon he caused the startled deer to spring away from its grazing spot. But it was too late�a shot rang through the air, and the deer fell to the ground.
The man walked over and put the animal out of its misery with a second shot to the deer�s head. Then he wrapped a large piece of burlap over the deer and dragged the carcass back to a waiting sled. �C�mon, boy,� he said, and soon he hooked the dog up to the sled. �Mush,� he added, and the pair headed back to their house.
�You�ve earned some time to yourself,� the man told Dante once they arrived. He scratched the dog under the chin and set him loose.
Dante barked happily and headed toward the northern edge of town. There, he noticed a familiar scent. �Sylara?� he whispered. �Sylara?� He repeated the name louder.
There was no response. Dante turned to follow the scent and was surprised to find that it led toward the forest. Strange, he thought. Why would she be there? A sickening thought came to him: could his best friend be�? No, that was impossible.
�But it would explain�� Dante let the sentence trail off�the possibility was too horrible to be true. He decided to follow her path anyway, as it was the only way to solve this mystery.
The scent led him deep into the forest, and the sky was darkening by the minute. Dante began to wonder if his owners would worry about him spending the night alone. Probably not, he thought, chuckling.
At that moment, he noticed a small cave nestled between two larger trees. Sylara�s scent was strong here, but still she was nowhere to be found. Yet the scent led deeper still into the darkening forest, and so Dante continued to follow.
Several more minutes had passed before the dog finally noticed a figure lying on the ground in the near-total darkness. Dante immediately identified it as Sylara. He bent down to nuzzle her, but he recoiled in shock when he realized that her fur was matted with blood.
�Sylara?� he called, choking up. �Please�please be�alive.� He peered closer into the darkness and saw that nearly her entire body was covered with wounds, but her chest still slowly rose and fell with the breath of life.
Dante slowly sat next to Sylara and nestled himself close to her, licking some of the wounds on her face. She stirred slightly but did not awaken.
�What happened to you?� Dante asked quietly, gazing into Sylara�s closed eyes. He licked her cheek once more before settling down for the night.
The dawn broke several hours later. Dante slowly opened his eyes and was surprised at first when he saw the forest surrounding him. But then he remembered the events of the previous night: following his friend�s scent deep into the woods, finding her broken body. �Sylara!� he said urgently. �Sylara?�
At that moment, Sylara finally began to regain consciousness. She was aware of someone calling her name, but the voice sounded muffled, as if she was underwater. She tried to listen closer, but then she was overwhelmed with agony that seemed to spread throughout her body. Please, she begged mentally, just take my life. Take it.
Though she was still only half-conscious, Sylara became aware for the first time of the body pressed against her side. Startled, she jerked awake, but she was in too much pain to move. �Whoever you are,� she growled, clenching her jaw, �leave now.�
�But�� Dante said��Sylara�it�s me. I�m your best friend.�
Sylara leaned back and turned her head to see her friend. �Dante�?� she whispered. �How�how did you get here? W-where am I?�
Dante nuzzled against her, gazing at her reassuringly. �Trust me,� he told her. �You�re safe here, but we need to get back to town soon. What happened to you?� he added, a worried look in his eyes.
�I-I was attacked,� Sylara said. �By a grizzly.� She nuzzled into Dante�s chest, crying quietly.
Dante gently laid his head over hers. �Shh,� he whispered. �Everything is okay now.�
�Now, yes,� Sylara replied, whimpering. �But what if the bear comes back?� She pulled back a little to gaze at Dante, the fear filling her eyes.
�That�s why we have to get you back to town. Can you wait here for fifteen minutes or so?�
Tears still leaking from her eyes, Sylara nodded silently. She then watched as Dante turned and disappeared into the forest. Shivering and moaning softly from the pain, she sighed and rested her throbbing head in her forepaws. �I should have never come out here,� she whispered to herself.
A branch cracked several minutes later, and Sylara looked up to see Dante approaching. A second figure, that of a man, soon appeared.
�Great,� the man muttered. �Just a wounded dog. I might as well keep it from suffering any more.� He took his gun from his shoulder and lowered the barrel toward Sylara�s head.
Dante instantly leapt over Sylara to stand between her and the man. He growled viciously, staring directly into the muzzle of the gun. Shoot her, and you die.
The man only stood there for a moment, gaping, finger on the trigger, but soon he maneuvered to the side. Dante followed, once again standing between the gun and his best friend.
�Don�t let him shoot me,� Sylara cried, tears streaming from her eyes. �Dante, don�t let him.�
Dante turned back to her for a second before staring defiantly down the barrel again. �I promise.�
Sylara whimpered again. �Why is he so different from the humans I�ve known?�
�I�m not sure,� Dante answered, still staring down the barrel. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a woman approaching from behind the man. The woman was carrying what appeared to be a sled, and Dante recognized her as the man�s wife, also one of his owners.
�What�s all this about? What are you doing?� the woman asked. �What�s up with Dan�� She fell silent when she saw that her husband was pointing his gun at Dante and another dog. �What are you doing?� she asked again, several times louder than before.
�Dante led me to this wounded dog,� the man replied, �and I figured I�d just put her out of her misery.�
�Is that��the woman stepped closer��Sylara?�
The man blinked and steadily lowered the gun. �Damn, I think it is.� Kneeling, he reached out and placed a gentle hand on Sylara�s head. �I�m so sorry, Sylara,� he said softly. �I didn�t recognize you. What happened?�
Sylara only whimpered and pulled away, wishing she could communicate with the man. You just almost killed me, she thought. Don�t expect to be forgiven so easily. �Dante?� she asked, turning to her friend and nuzzling close to him.
�What is it?� the other dog asked.
�Thanks for coming for me,� she said, her voice filled with gratitude. Ignoring the pain, she leaned into Dante, pressing herself against his warm body.
�Of course.� Dante smiled at her, licking her cheek playfully.
They were interrupted at that moment, however, when the humans began to lift Sylara onto the sled. The dog grunted and whimpered several times as her injuries continued to spread pain throughout her body, �Grab my bow, Dante,� Sylara said softly, lowering her head. She only watched her friend take the tattered ribbon in his mouth before fainting from the pain.
____
III

Sylara awoke to the sensation of something warm and soft pressed against her face. She looked up to take note of her surroundings, but everything was white for several seconds. When the environment finally came into focus, she identified the soft object as a blanket and that she was in some kind of house. Home? she thought, and a smile graced her face. Maybe everything had been a dream.
But no, she realized, the smile disappearing from her face. This house was very different from anything she had known from before, and her body still ached.
�Sylara, you�re awake!� Dante called. �I was worried something had happened.�
Sylara moaned and slowly sat up. �Unnh�� she said. �How long was I out?�
�Almost two days.� Dante sighed in relief. �I�m so glad you�re alive.�
�Y-yeah,� Sylara replied. �Where am I?�
Dante smiled. �My house. You�re safe here.� He nuzzled into her affectionately.
�I�m glad,� she said graciously, nuzzling back.
Something in Dante�s words, however, struck a chord in her heart. How could she be safe when she was living with a man who would have killed her? And, though the humans seemed to be very warm and inviting, what was to stop them from attempting to kill her again? Further still, what about Dante? The man would have pulled the trigger if not for his wife�she was sure of that. But then she realized what she had to do.
She looked up suddenly and saw that Dante had gone into another room. Whimpering, she whispered his name and wondered how he would react to her decision.
Then Sylara stood slowly and began to stretch for the first time since the attack. Her muscles still ached and burned, especially in her shoulder, but she was confident in her ability to ignore the dull pain and carry out her plan. �Here goes nothing,� she mumbled to herself.
She made her way across the room to the front door of the house, which was propped open a few inches by a brick, and slipped through the door almost silently. I�m sorry, Dante, she thought, but I don�t belong here. I need to find my owners. She peered over her shoulder once before continuing on her journey.
Her first instinct was to find her old house, which was across town, so she turned onto the main street. But as she made her escape, she was plagued with more thoughts. Since she had first met Dante, she had not been able to suppress the strong feelings she had had for him, and now, she realized, she might never see him again. She almost decided to turn back, but something inside convinced her to press on. Yet the thought still lingered in the back of her mind. If only�
Sylara reached the house within several minutes, and more grief instantly poured into her heart. The property was deserted, and any scent of the humans had long since dissipated. Her only hope was a sign that had been taped to the front door.
Her anxiety building, she approached the door to search for any lingering scents. She stared at the letters printed at the top of the sign: FORECLOSED. The letters meant nothing to Sylara, but the fact that there was no trace of her owners nearly brought tears to her eyes.
After standing there for several minutes, Sylara turned and was shocked to see three unfamiliar dogs standing a few yards behind her. She gulped as one of them called to her:
�Hey, you!� it said mockingly; it was a large male husky. �What are you doing here?�
�Uhh, nothing,� Sylara replied, and already she was weighing her options. She could either try to run and risk being attacked again or remain where she was and try to hold her ground.
�I hope you�re not invading our territory,� said the third dog, this one a female malamute. �That could be disastrous.�
Sylara gulped and began to turn away, but she decided that the best option was to simply be honest with these dogs. �I�m trying to find my old owners,� she began tentatively. �They had to let me go a few days ago.� She shifted from foot to foot, hoping the dogs would believe her.
�Look what we have here,� the third dog said loudly; it was also a male husky. �It�s another dog who wasn�t good enough for her owners. Just like us.�
�They loved me,� Sylara said, a defiant air creeping into her voice. �They would have done anything for me. They loved me, and I loved them back.� She took a step forward as if to emphasize her point.
�They never loved you,� the malamute told her. �I used to think that, but then my owners beat me over nothing. I never did anything wrong, but they didn�t care. I finally had to run away to save my skin.�
�My owners loved me,� Sylara repeated, limping toward the small gang.
�If they loved you,� the first dog said, �they would never have let you go. Real owners care for their dogs until the day they die.�
�Mine just ran out of money,� Sylara said.
�Lies,� the husky said. �That was just a cover-up. I saw you�re limping,� he continued. �Why is that?�
�I was attacked by a bear a few days ago,� Sylara answered. She immediately knew she had said too much.
�See?� the third dog asked rhetorically. �If your owners really loved you, they wouldn�t let that happen. Join us,� he added. �We�ll protect you.�
�Yes, join us,� said the female. �We already know enough about you, anyway.� She and the two huskies took several steps toward Sylara, nearly closing the ten-foot gap.
Sylara gulped again and began to step back. Her mind racing, she did her best to stare at the three dogs defiantly.
�Stop!� called a voice from somewhere to the side. Everyone looked to the source, and Sylara recognized it as Dante.
�And who do you think you are?� said the first dog, turning and snarling at Dante.
�Stop messing with her!� Dante called, taking several steps toward the gang. �She�s done nothing to you, so why are you threatening her?�
�Dante, no!� Sylara cried. �Don�t get hurt!�
The gang only laughed as Dante threw himself at them. It was only a few seconds, however, before he was thrown to the ground.
But Dante stood, snarling. Sylara, run, he mouthed.
�No,� Sylara whispered. �Dante, you�ll be killed.�
Then help me fight. �Now!� he called to her, leaping at one of the dogs.
Acting on impulse, Sylara threw herself at the other two.
____
IV

The three dogs stepped back just in time, and Dante and Sylara nearly collided.
�We don�t want to fight,� said the malamute, �but we will if we have to. So unless you both have death wishes, I suggest you leave us alone.�
�Unless, of course,� one of the huskies said, �you�d like to join us.�
Sylara blinked and turned to Dante. �How much did you hear of what they were telling me?� she asked.
�Not much,� Dante admitted. �Fill me in?�
�She told us she was abandoned to a bear attack by humans,� one of the gang members interrupted. �Humans that care about you won�t do that.�
�They wouldn�t put a gun to your head, either�� Dante mumbled, remembering the incident a few days earlier.
�Exactly,� the malamute said. �You know they would have pulled the trigger. All you have to do is give them a little payback.�
�Wh-what do you mean?� Sylara asked quietly.
�Exactly what it sounds like,� said the first dog. �Maybe we can even help you.�
Dante thought for a moment. �We�ll see�� he said. �For now, I�d better get back to my house. Maybe we�ll discuss this later, and maybe not. C�mon,� he added, nodding to Sylara. �Let�s get going.�
�Yeah,� Sylara said, glancing nervously at the gang. �Let�s go.� She and Dante turned to make their way down the street, ignoring whatever the gang members were saying.
During the journey, Sylara reflected on everything that had been said over the past several minutes. Could it be that her owners had abandoned her deliberately? And would Dante�s owners really have shot him just to get to her? Surely there was no other reason for the man to put the barrel to Dante�s head? The possibilities raced in her head, and soon paranoia began to set in. What if these humans kicked her out as well? What if Dante suffered the same fate? At least then, maybe he and I could be together, Sylara thought. We could start a family, and everything would be fine.
�Sylara?� Dante called, snapping the dog from her thoughts. �Are you alright?�
�Y-yeah,� Sylara replied. �Why?�
�You looked really out of it for a few minutes,� Dante told her.
�I was just�thinking,� Sylara said, glancing at the darkening sky. �Wow, I didn�t realize it was so late. We should probably get going, huh?�
�Maybe�� Dante said absently. �It�s so beautiful, though.�
�I know where it�s even more beautiful,� Sylara told him, thankful for the distraction from her racing thoughts. �Follow me.�
She led him toward the western edge of town, where the ground gave way to soft earth and then to a rocky beach. The ocean lapped over the stones, flowing around the dogs� paws and emphasizing the coolness of the evening. Farther out, the water, tinted black by the darkening sky, extended to a seamless horizon. Both the stars and their reflections twinkled brightly, and the silver moon cast a warm glow over the scene to contrast the cool breeze that flowed through the air.
Dante and Sylara both gasped in awe as a small aurora erupted into life high above the black ocean. The bright splash of green light nearly washed out the stars as it was joined by tinges of blue that danced around it in a glittering array.
�Dante,� Sylara whispered, gazing at her friend�s illuminated face. �You want to know something?�
�Sure, hun,� Dante answered, nestling himself close to her.
Sylara blushed and rested her head on Dante�s shoulder. �I love you,� she whispered, �And I have since we�ve been friends. I�m sorry I didn�t tell you sooner, but I really love you.� She pulled away and turned to gaze into his eyes.
Dante was silent for a second. �Sylara,� he began, �I love you too. I love you more than anyone in the world. But�� He fell silent again, and tears crept into his eyes. �But I can�t,� he finally finished.
Sylara looked shocked for a second, but soon she closed her eyes, averting her gaze. �W-w-why?� she asked, choking up.
�There�s something you need to know,� Dante sighed, �something I should have told you by now.� He bent down to nuzzle Sylara, tears steadily dripping from his eyes. �Two days ago, after we brought you back from the woods, my owners took me to the vet and had me fixed. I�m so sorry,� he added, �so sorry, hun. Please forgive me.�
Sylara stayed silent for several seconds to let Dante�s words sink in. There would be no fulfilling her dream, no chance of having a family with Dante. Then a thought came to her. �They were afraid I would tell you that,� she said, an edge in her voice that Dante had not heard before. �They don�t trust us. Those dogs were right.�
�Sylara�� said Dante quietly. �I don�t know if they were right or not. But it�s all gonna be okay. I promise.�
�No�it�s not,� Sylara said softly. �You mean everything to me, Dante, everything. I can�t lose you�� She nestled her head into his chest, tears streaming down her cheeks.
�Sylara, hun�love�you won�t lose me,� Dante told her, doing his best to reassure his friend. �I promise you�ll never lose my love for you.� He rested his head over hers, pressing as close to her as he could. �Is there any way I can make things okay?�
�N-no,� Sylara whispered. �Just�be here for me. You�re all I care about now.� Pulling away, she moved a few feet to the side and curled up on the beach. She noticed for the first time that the aurora had died out, and now clouds obscured most of the stars. Save for the pale light of the moon, everything was cloaked in cold shadow.
Without saying a word, Dante walked over and curled his body around Sylara, allowing her to weep into his fur. �I�m here,� he whispered after a moment, �and I always will be.�
�I love you,� Sylara whispered in reply. �I always will.�
____
V


She saw nothing but white emptiness for miles in every direction. She stood on nothing, felt nothing. She had no memories, no sensations to tell her whether she was moving. She barely even knew who she was.
She jumped as she suddenly heard disembodied whispers from somewhere ahead. �Hello?� she called tentatively, but there was no response.
The whispering intensified, and soon she could make out some semblance of a voice. The voice triggered something in the back of her mind; it could have been a memory long suppressed by the emptiness that surrounded her. �Hello?� she called again, louder than before.
Still there was no response.
She took a few minutes to gather the courage to take a step toward the voice. Any wrong move could lead to her plunging to some infinite depth, falling into eternal nothingness until the end of time itself.
Staring down at the blank expanse beneath her, she cautiously lifted a paw and moved it a few inches forward. Then she slowly lowered it, holding her breath as she waited to see if she would fall. To her relief, her paw struck some invisible surface. Reassured by the presence of solid ground, she took several more steps toward the ever-intensifying whispers.
By now, the voice was almost deafening, and, though it was still incomprehensible, she could tell that it was male. Further still, it carried a solemn tone to it, as if it signified a recent or upcoming tragedy.
She called to the voice several more times, all the while continuing toward it. There was something about it that she knew was important.
After a few more minutes, a ghostly image began to appear in front of her. She stopped to let it manifest in front of her.
The image consisted of two figures: man and dog. The dog was facing her, a pained expression on its face. The man appeared to be hunched over the dog, and he was holding what looked to be a gun to the dog�s head.
Help me, the dog mouthed, and now she knew the whispers were his. She longed to leap between the dog and the gun, but suddenly something prevented her from moving. She struggled against the invisible bonds that held her in place, yet still nothing happened. Then she saw the man begin to pull the trigger.
Finally, in an instant, it all came rushing back to her. She finally knew what was going on, and she finally recognized the dog. �Dante, no!� she screamed. A surge of adrenaline spiked through her, and she broke free of the bonds and threw herself toward the gun.
Even as she flew through the air, Dante�s figure erupted into mist and vanished in an instant. The man remained, however, and the gun went off just as she collided with the barrel.
Sylara awoke with a start. The first thing she noticed was that Dante was no longer pressed against her side. At first, she panicked, but then she realized that he was standing over her.
�Sy�Sylara?� he was calling. �Are you okay? Talk to me, hun.�
�I�m�I�m fine,� Sylara panted. �Just had a�bad dream.� Feeling once more as if she was about to cry, she fell silent.
�Aww, hun, what was it?�
Sylara sighed and recounted the dream. �What could it mean?� she added.
�I�m not sure it means anything, except that you�d risk your life for me,� Dante said, sitting next to Sylara. �You know how grateful I am for that, but I really don�t want you to. I can�t live without you,� he finished, resting his head on her side.
�I think you�d find a way,� Sylara said solemnly, glancing at the ground. �Would�would you do the same for me?�
�Honestly,� Dante sighed, �I�m not sure. I�m really scared of dying.�
�You just have to believe that your time will come at the right moment,� Sylara told him, twisting around and nuzzling the side of his face. �If mine happens to be when I�m protecting you, so be it.�
A few minutes of silence followed. �I don�t know what to think about these last few days,� Dante finally said, sitting up on the rocky beach. �So much has changed that I almost don�t know what�s real anymore.�
�What about your owners?� Sylara asked. �I mean, what should we do?�
�I wish I knew,� Dante answered. �Those dogs were right, though. I don�t really trust the humans anymore after they kept us from being together.�
�Should we go back?�
�Unfortunately, I don�t know that we have a choice. But they�re dead to me now.�
�I have an idea,� Sylara said, �but I don�t know if I like it��
�Tell me,� Dante said.
Sylara stared at the ground. �Remember what the dogs said about payback? I want to join them, and I think I know how. We need to keep the humans from hurting any other dogs.�
�You mean�?� Dante gasped.
�Yes,� Sylara said, an air of guilt in her voice. �I�m sorry��
�I feel like I�m supposed to disagree with you,� Dante said, �but I don�t. At least, not entirely.� He raised his head to glance at the cloudy sky for a moment. �It feels almost like I�d be betraying them by doing that.�
�But in a way, they betrayed you,� Sylara countered. �I don�t necessarily want to do it, but I feel like it�s the only way.�
�That�s what I was getting at,� Dante said. �But I still don�t know how we�re going to pull it off.�
�Don�t think about it,� Sylara said; �just do it.� She pawed at the ground anxiously, weighing her options in her mind.
Dante looked to her. �Alright. Let�s go.�
�Now?� Sylara asked, incredulous.
�We might as well get this over with before we have the chance to think about it,� Dante told her. �They took the most important thing in the world from me, and now they have to pay. I need to make it up to you somehow, Sylara.�
�No, you really don�t,� Sylara said softly. �It�s okay, I swear.�
�It�s not okay,� Dante said defiantly, beginning to walk toward town. �But I�ll need your help. I can�t do it without you.�
Sylara followed nervously. �I don�t want you to get hurt,� she told him, a limp forming in her throat. �Don�t do it.�
Dante said nothing but quickened his pace toward his house. Sylara had no choice but to follow, and the pair reached the house in a matter of minutes.
Just as the dogs arrived, the humans exited onto the front porch and called to them. Dante barked, feigning happiness, and bounded up the steps, while Sylara stepped forward cautiously, afraid of what was to come. �Don�t do it, hun,� she pled.
She watched in horror as, without warning, Dante snarled and clamped his jaws down on the man�s leg, struggling to knock him to the ground. �Dante, no!� Sylara shouted, but it was to no avail�the dog would not cease his attack.
Seconds later, the man finally managed to kick Dante away from him. Sylara cringed as her friend landed hard on his back against a large rock embedded in the ground. She rushed in to help Dante, but the other dog only stood and renewed his assault.
�Grab the gun!� the man screamed to his wife amid a flurry of curses, holding his leg in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding. �Grab the gun and shoot him!�
�No!� Sylara cried as the woman rushed inside the house. �Dante, stop!� she said hysterically, rushing in and trying to pull the dog away from his owner. �This is a mistake! They�re going to shoot you!�
Dante finally released his grip and turned to his friend. �How else can I make this up to you?� he asked.
�I�I don�t know,� Sylara told him. �You didn�t have to do this.�
�Let them shoot me,� Dante said, hanging his head. �I deserve it.�
�No,� Sylara said simply.
At that moment, the woman appeared, carrying her husband�s gun. She handed it to him, who staggered to his feet and lowered the gun at Dante.
Sylara gulped and recalled the dream from the night before. Could it be that the dream was coming true? �Dante!� she cried. �Don�t!� Terrified by the sudden turn of events, she watched in horror as the man placed his finger on the trigger and began to pull. She instantly gathered the courage to throw herself toward her friend.
Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The man�s finger tightened on the trigger just as Sylara began to fly through the air toward Dante. A breeze blew across Sylara�s face as the dog tucked her head into her chest, preparing to knock the gun away.
Suddenly she heard someone call her name. She recognized the voice instantly�it was one that she had not heard in several days. It was her old owner.
A flicker of emotion flashed through her mind, and for a moment she was so distracted that she did not hear the gun go off.
The back of her head immediately erupted into the worst pain she had ever felt. She collapsed to the porch, thrashing her limbs, and turned to watch her owners run up to her, crying to Dante�s owners not to shoot. Then Sylara saw her owners kneel down around her, holding her bloody head in their tender hands. Her vision blurred repeatedly, and soon she began to taste copper. As she felt the gentle touch that she had missed so much, she could feel their emotions pouring out for her. She knew then that she had been wrong to believe the gang, wrong to turn Dante against his owners. I need to fix this, the fleeting thought flickered through her mind.
Suddenly her breath caught in her throat, and she was gone.
Dante jumped at the gunshot and immediately turned to see if Sylara had been hit. To his dismay, he saw a rapidly-expanding spot of blood on the back of his friend�s head. He watched, horrified, as she collapsed to the ground, the humans crowding around them. He watched as Sylara�s body was overtaken by spasms, watched as her eyes closed for the final time. �No!� he screamed. �No! No!�
He immediately bent down and nuzzled into his friend�s face, ignoring the puddles of spattering blood and praying that Sylara�s eyes would reopen. But nothing happened.
Tears filled his eyes as he gazed at the humans gathered around him, and he could not avert his eyes from Sylara�s body.
�Now begins my life alone.�

franzito
12-24-2014, 10:40 PM
Whoa, ever though of publishing?

Dirge Of Dreams
12-25-2014, 02:15 PM
It's definitely crossed my mind, but I don't know how to get started, nor do I most likely have the money to do it. But I'm glad you like the story!

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