Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friday Fiction for May 29, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Joanne over at An Open Book. Hopefully, Mr. Linky is working better this week than last, when the server was suffering overload problems. If you don’t find Mr. Linky there at first, be sure to check back later.

This week’s submission is from the second chapter of “Lana’s Pack”, when the main character, Lana, is finishing up a backpacking trip with her old college roommate, Cece, in the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe, California. “Lana’s Pack” is the fifth book in the Pod series, and the first where I set the action in very specific real locations. This excerpt picks up as the two women arrive back at the trail head parking after the weekend.

Meeting the Pack
From Lana’s Pack
By Rick Higginson


“I’ve got to make a living; lofty dreams don’t pay the rent or keep food in my stomach,” Lana said.

Cece sighed and shook her head. “You’re so hung up on making a living that you’ve forgotten what it’s all about. The whole point of making a living is to enable us to have a life, and you haven’t got one.” They came within sight of the cars and slowed their pace. “No excuses, Lana; the next time you talk to me, I want to hear that you’ve made some outrageous change in your life. Come on, are you even dancing anymore?”

“Not much.”

“I rest my case.” Turning towards her, Cece stopped her with a finger placed in the center of her chest. “I watched you belly dance enough times to know that you were good and you enjoyed it. You’re not dancing, and you’re not loving, and you’re not living right now, and it worries the snot out of me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry don’t cut it, girl; you need to change, so you get out there and you start living again, and you start dancing again, and I bet it won’t be long until you find someone to start lovin’ again.” She turned back towards the cars and started walking again.

“I’ll try, Ceese.”

“Don’t try; just do it. Get that cute butt of yours back into costume and dance, and get that butt out of that apartment and chase down some life.” She unbuckled her waist strap and slipped the pack from her back.

Lana took out her keys and opened the hatch on the back of her car before removing the pack. Flexing her shoulders in relief at having the load off of them, she stretched and yawned. “I hope you don’t mind if I chase down a motel for a shower and a real bed first.” She peeled off her t-shirt and mopped the sweat from first her face, and then from the edges of her sports bra.

“Can you still do those isolations?”

She stretched her arms up and rippled the muscles in her belly. “Not as good as I used to, but I still know how.”

“You’re going to have to teach me that one of these days.” She spread her arms out for an embrace. “Take care of yourself, Lana, and please, think about what I said, okay?”

“I will Cece, and you take care too.” She watched and waved as her friend got into her car and drove away from the trailhead. When the car was out of sight, she grabbed a clean t-shirt from the back seat and pulled it on, and then changed out of her hiking boots into clean socks and a pair of sneakers.

Standing at the back of the car, she used a stiff brush to knock the dirt out of the tread of the boots before loading them, and was just closing the hatch when she noticed the two dogs standing by the trail. At first impression, she thought they were wolves and felt a slight rush of panic until she saw the red and blue collars around their necks. She waited, expecting the dog’s owners to emerge from the forest, but no one appeared, and the dogs never looked back as though watching for a follower.

They were beautiful dogs, and she found it hard to believe that they had been dumped in the wilderness. Two such gorgeous dogs should be easy to find a home for if the owner wasn’t asking some outrageous price for them, and they looked too well cared for to be strays. They had to be lost, and since they had collars, there was a good chance there was information on them that would let her return them to their home.

Taking a couple of steps towards them, she stretched her hand down and in front of her in what she hoped would be a reassuring gesture. The larger of the two walked towards her, his eyes watching her from a dark mask of fur surrounding them. His focus was eerie as he sat down a few steps away from her. “Come on, boy; it’s okay. I won’t hurt you,” she said. She took two more steps towards him, and he responded by standing and walking the rest of the way to her, first sniffing and then nuzzling the hand she offered.

Scratching his ears, she laughed at his enthusiastic response. “You are beautiful,” she said. She reached back and turned his collar until she found the tag, disappointed that it contained only a single word. “Freki,” she read. “Is that your name, boy?” He wagged his tail and pushed his head back under her hand for more scratching. “Well, Freki, I can’t find anything on your collar about who you belong to, so I don’t have any idea where you should go.”

Freki sat down and looked at her, and she was again struck by the strangeness of his gaze. “Cardan,” he said. “Go Cardan.”

Lana stepped backward, her mouth open and eyes staring at the dog, until she stumbled and fell back on her behind. “This isn’t funny, Ceese. Where are you?”

The other dog trotted over to her and sat down beside her. The silvery-gray female looked at her with the same kind of comprehension. “Cardan safe,” she said. “Go Cardan.”

Freki took a position on her other side and watched her.

“Cece!” Lana yelled. “Enough!”

The big male sniffed her. “You hurt?”

“What?” She watched the dog’s face; it would be easy enough to have a transceiver built into the dogs’ collars to create the effect, and if so the mouth would give it away.

“You hurt?” Freki repeated, his mouth and tongue moving to form the words.

“You really talk,” she said.

“Yes,” he said. “You hurt?”

“No; just surprised. Where did you come from? Did the Cardans have anything to do with you?”

“Leave lab,” Freki said. “Lab bad. Go Cardan; Cardan safe.”

“You’re in danger and the Cardans will keep you safe?”

“Yes. Lab bad; kill pups.”

“The lab kills your pups?”

“Yes. Geri pups; go Cardan; pups safe.”

“Geri?”

The female nudged her with her muzzle. “Geri.” She looked around and sniffed. “We go?”

Once upon a time, she would have thought she was having a nervous breakdown if she had heard dogs talking to her. That was before meeting the Pod. If the world could have mermaids and a flying man, why not talking dogs? She shifted to her side and started to get up. “Get in the car, and let’s go. I’ll take you two back to my place and call Marcel Cardan.”

Freki perked his ears. “We go Cardan?”

She scratched his ears again. “Yes, we go Cardan.”

Note: Freki and Geri are Alaskan Malamutes – large, powerful sled dogs. Malamutes are known for their strength, endurance, intelligence, and almost obnoxious independent streaks.

6 comments:

Dee Yoder said...

Wow--there's no way I'd stop to chat with two talking dogs! LOL. This is wonderful and, by the end of the tale (no pun intended--groan) I was QUITE believing that dogs can, indeed, talk--at least in the world of Cardon's Pod.

Joanne Sher said...

OH - a flying man??? And talking dogs??? Wow. I am SO hooked. Excellent as usual!

Hoomi said...

Joanne, you must have missed "Becoming Daedalus" back on Dec. 12, and "Feeling Alive" on March 20, both of which featured the flying man. :)

Catrina Bradley... said...

I'm hooked. I want to know more about these dogs!! Don't know if you noticed but sometimes you wrote Cece, and sometimes Ceese. Love this snippet.

S.C.(S.Harricharan) said...

Ooooh. Good-as usual. I'm hooked. LOVE, love, love your descriptions this time around. ^_^

Patty Wysong said...

You hooked me!
She belly dances? Cool!
:)