Hello again! I hope that folks enjoyed the first chapter of this serial. I do have a direction that I am heading with this one, but it might be a little rocky as I move to the various milestones of this series. With this in mind, I encourage folks to let me know what you think of the story so far. This will help me write less-cringy fiction, perhaps even fiction that you look forward to reading chapter to chapter. If you haven’t read the first chapter, though, you can find it here.
Egg sat quietly in the back seat looking at the back of Thomas’ head. The Dog considered his predicament. He knew that he’d done something the night before, but couldn’t quite recall what it was. It wasn’t the first time that he’d lost large chunks of memory and wouldn’t be the last.
What he did remember was that there was something important that he needed to do and had used the transportation nodes to shift to the closest possible position. When he arrived, he smelled the boy. The boy smelled weird. Not weird bad, but weird good. And so, he’d bound up to the car and started talking.
The boy hadn’t understood what Egg had barked, not that he’d expected the boy to comprehend the complex language between those “ruffs” and “arfs”. However, he had hoped that the boy would understand that he meant no harm and wanted to be friends. What he didn’t expect was the woman to immediately champion for him. Not only had it landed him some travelling companions, but he sensed an odd wave of energy as soon as his seat belt was latched.
As his head occasionally moved from the back of the boy’s head to that of the woman driving the car, Egg sensed something even odder. He felt that he knew the woman. He didn’t know where he knew her from, but he recognised that voice, that smell and the profile of her face. He couldn’t quite touch those memories, just the impression that she’d been kind to him in the past.
And now, he sat in the back of the car, the dull hum of the engine and the newly turned on radio. The boy and the woman were lost in their own worlds.
“Human beings are weird…” he thought.
As he saw the carcass of a dead kangaroo on the road, Egg’s stomach growled. He tried to remember the last time that he’d eaten. Had it been one or two days since he’d rolled around in a dead bird and eaten that rabbit? He didn’t exactly know. What he did know is that the two humans in the car might be kind enough to give him some premium grub. Sure, he enjoyed the smell and taste of long-dead things, but it periodically made him sick. He didn’t like being sick.
The car slowed down a bit and he could see a service station on the left. The car turned right and then a left into a small service station where a handful of cars and a single semi truck were parked. The car pulled up to a fuel pump and the woman turned off the vehicle. He could see a sign for a caravan park just past the area where the truck was parked.
“Do you mind pumping some fuel? I need to go to the toilet…” Maia asked the boy.
Thomas sighed, “I suppose that I can do it. Don’t want you pissing in the car, old lady bladder and all that.”
Maia gave a mock frown. “Yes, I do have an old lady bladder. Thank-you for pointing out the mysteries of my urinary tract in front of our new companion.”
Thomas furrowed his eyes in annoyance, “He is a dog.”
“Maybe so, but he is also very clever. I am sure that he understands exactly what we are saying.”
Just as Thomas was about to retort, Egg barked in the affirmative. If they’d been fluid in canine, they would have understood, “Yes, I am clever. Thank-you, good woman. I appreciate your kindness.”
“See, what did I tell you?” Maia said, before undoing her seat belt and leaving the car.
Thomas undid his seat belt and sighed. He reached out and touched the door handle for a moment. He took his hand off of it and turned to face Egg. “Do you really understand what we are saying?”
Egg barked and attempted a nod. Thomas cocked his head to the right. He still wasn’t convinced but there enough to suggest that further tests were in order.
“If you really can understand me, just realise that we might not be able to keep you. We are moving to my aunt and uncle’s place and I am not sure if they’d be willing to put up with a dog on top of having mum and me there.”
Egg lowered his head in sadness at the prospect. It wasn’t like he’d known Thomas and his mother for long, but he did like their smells. He was sure that they were good people. He liked being around good people.
Thomas exited the car. Moments later, Egg heard the sound of the fuel pump kicking into gear and was immediately sickened by the smell of fuel. He didn’t like the smell. The ambient smell was bad enough, but when enough of it was in the air it was strong enough to affect his sense of taste as well. He tongue protested the nasty taste.
Not long after that, the pump turned off and Thomas replaced it. Maia reappeared from the toilet block looking relieved. She chatted with her son outside of the car for a few minutes before the woman grabbed her wallet from the middle console and went inside. Thomas got back in and Egg watched as the woman walked around the store for a bit, collecting snacks and some items from what he guessed to be a hot food dispenser. He wished that the fuel hadn’t mucked with his sense of taste and smell, but it couldn’t be helped.
Not long after she spoke to a woman at a register, Maia returned with some hot food, some snacks and a packet of dog chews. To Egg’s excitement, the woman tore it open and pulled out one of the long red-brown pieces of whatever it was. He didn’t know for sure, but he knew that it was food. He barked excitedly as she leant over and offered it to him.
“Thank-you, good woman!” he said.
“You’re welcome!” she replied.
Egg was too busy chewing on the food to realise that she had understood.
Maia didn’t take it personally. He was a very clever dog, but he still had the mindset of a dog. In any case, she knew that she had to convince her sister and brother-in-law to let the dog stay with them.
When Maia and Thomas pulled into the driveway of Allan and Peggy’s place, they were greeted by a yapping dog in the open window of the blue and yellow high-set Queenslander.
“Would you mind letting the dog out, sweetie?” Maia asked.
He shrugged, “Sure, whatever. But it is on you if he eats their dog.”
As Thomas undid Egg, the dog licked his nose affectionately and barked a thank-you. The dog hopped out of the car and looked around at the garden beds and the horse paddock beyond the fence. Though he felt like playing with the lone palomino, Egg decided to behave. After all, a good impression could secure him a home and a new family. He stood to attention at the base of the stairs, the Jack Russel looking rather suspicious.
The door at the top of the stairs opened and Maia was let in.
The small sandy-colored dog ran down.
“Oi! Oi! What do you want then?” The other dog yapped.
“Sorry, good fellow but I hope you don’t mind if I stay here for a while.”
“What’s that, then? You’re having a lark! This is my place. These are my humans.”
“I need to stay with the humans that I arrived with. I have no intention of stealing your humans as well.”
“I don’t believe you!”
“Why would I want to steal your humans when I have my own?”
The other dog stopped barking for a moment and considered the statement. He supposed that it was possible that the newcomer was not here to steal his humans. He ran to the back of Egg and the two sniffed each other’s butts. They stopped sniffing and the smaller dog ran to the front of Egg.
“Okay, I will let you stay. But it is on a probationary basis. Step out of line and you are out.”
“That is agreeable!” Egg replied before Thomas walked over and looked at them both quizzically.
The two dogs looked up at the young man. The smaller dog sniffed the air. Confused, he looked at Egg.
“The kid smells weird. The woman does too but in a different way. What is up with that?”
“No idea, but I like these humans.”
Just then, a middle-aged woman with greying brown hair poked her head out from around the front door, “Hey, Thomas. We’ll be dealing with some food in a bit. Do you mind closing the front gate before you come up?”
Thomas nodded, Sure thing, Aunty Pegg! I’ll be up there in a tick.”
Soon after the gate was closed and the boy entered the door upstairs, the dogs began to play in the front yard as if they’d been friends for years.