On his way home from the market, Brian is attacked once more by the swamp creatures and he wrecks his bike. The big, white dog appears again and helps him get away. Curious if anyone else has reported such strange happenings, he finds blog posts from all over the country, from young people who describe adventures just like his own.
Brian’s skin crawled when he read that. It was so similar to his own experience, he couldn’t disavow it. There was an e-mail address at the bottom of the page. Brian clicked it and started writing.
“I think maybe you understand what I’m going through,” he wrote. He described his experiences with the fog column and the fact that the dog had rescued him twice. He even talked about the bear, though he was unsure that the incidents were related.
He got a message a few minutes later. “Call me.” And a phone number followed.
Brian hesitated. He wasn’t sure whether it would go against his mother’s no calls to strangers policy or not. He finally decided that he didn’t care. He was afraid and needed someone else to assure him that he wasn’t crazy. He picked up his cellphone and dialed.
“Hiya,” the other boy answered. “My name is Andre and I seen shit that’d turn you white.”
Brian chuckled. “Yeah, me too.”
“I live about an hour away,” Andre said. “You got a car?”
“No. I can’t drive yet.”
“Then I’m coming to you. I got a few folks to pick up on the way. Where can we meet?”
Brian thought a moment. “Meet me at the library in town.”
“Where do you live?”
“I’m over in Mississippi—in Miracle. It’s not far from Natchez.”
“Gotcha. Meet us there in about two hours. I’ll call when we are close to town.”
“Okay. It’s about a ten minute walk for me. My bike’s in the ditch, remember?”
“Right. Don’t worry, we’ll give you plenty of time. Look forward to meeting you.” He hung up.
Brian hoped he hadn’t just done something really foolish. He knew his mother always told him not to give out personal information, but he sensed that Andre wasn’t going to hurt him. He felt confident talking to the older boy about his experiences. And now, he wasn’t alone.
Brian left his mother a note written in Braille, on the refrigerator, as they’d always done. She knew to look there if he wasn’t at home. He headed to the library when he got Andre’s call a couple hours later. A battered blue Ford pickup with Louisiana plates sat in front of the squat, brick building. Several teenagers sat in the bed, drinking sodas.
A tall, lean African American teenager stood up and hopped out of the truck. He smiled at Brian, his hand extended.
“You’re Brian. Hi. I’m Andre. That’s Sweet.” He pointed to a short, skinny blond boy who looked like a skater. “That’s Louisa.” He pointed to a lovely Latina who wore jeans and a sweater. “And that’s Ginnifer.” The last was an attractive blonde who dressed like something out of a Twilight novel. Her hair was done up in a lacy, black scarf and her clothing virtually yelled teen angst.
“Hi. I’m Brian. Come on in.”
They hopped out of the truck and followed him into the library. He led them to the desk and asked if they could use one of the meeting rooms.
“Sure, Brian. Nothing’s going on today until five. You’ll have to clear out by then.”
“No problem, Mrs. Tompkins. We’ll be done.”
They went to the small conference room down the hall from the lobby. Brian shut the door, not wanting the entire library to know their business. They found chairs and pulled them into a circle. The others looked at him expectantly. Brian gazed steadily at Andre.
“You start,” Ginnifer said. Her voice was a husky alto.
Brian nodded. He told them about his experiences. The four of them listened closely, nodding silently. When Brian had finished, Sweet exhaled slowly.
“All that on your own? Shit!” He ran fingers through his spiky blond hair. “At least when I had that much happen, I had Andre with me. And the girls were together when they got chased.”
“I wasn’t entirely alone. I had the dog.”
“She yours?” Andre asked.
“No. I don’t know where she came from. She doesn’t live in town. Place this size, we all know each other an the animals we own. I’m lucky she came along when she did.”
Louisa pursed her lips, shaking her head. “No. she was sent to protect you. We’ve all seen the dog—a dog. I don’t think it’s the same one.”
“The one Lou and I saw was a male” Ginnifer said. “But the guys had a female dog.”
“Well, we can guess she’s not crossing state lines to protect us. Question is, where do they come from?” Andre asked what they were all thinking.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes
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