When we Follow
Warning: I would like to warn viewers that this contains violent and sensitive subjects that may be disturbing to some viewers. The subject at hand has touched the entire globe and I understand that this topic is seen differently by everyone that has or is currently being affected by it. I kindly ask that the matter be dealt with in a mature and respectable manner as it is important and pertains to the future of our society as a human race, not as individual countries.
~When we Follow~
The dim street lights flickered on as we run past the ruins of an old part of town. A cold wind brushed along my orange fur as the final rays of the sun sank behind the horizon. My eyes lock forward, trailing him as he rounded another corner of the stone town.
"Captain! Keep up! We don't have much time!" he hissed, clicking his tongue together as he picked up his pace. My dog ears perked to the urgency in his voice. I looked to him, panting in my struggle to keep up as he broke out into a sprint. I could hear a frustrated growl escape master's lips as he turned to me.
"You're too slow, Cap," he yelled out to me as he quickly scooped me into his arms. I see his emerald eyes flash with anger as he glances toward me before he picks me up in his long tan arms. He squeezed me tightly against his small chest, pushing me into his black hoodie. I grazed his hand with my pink tongue, hoping to ease his frustration with me.
He's right. I'm too slow; one of these days it's going to get us-
A siren blares through the streets. I tucked my head deeper into master's chest; a slight whimper escaped my mouth. The faint roar of planes rang in the distance. I knew very well what it meant, and I didn't like it.
"Dammit! I have to hurry!" he whispered in a gruff voice, taking off around another corner. I could hear the clack of master's shoes as he ran down the street and onto the dirt road that would ultimately lead to his home.
They'll be here soon; we may not make it in time! We might-
A small hum escaped his lips as his house came into view in the distance, pulling me away from my previous thoughts. His grip tightened on my orange and black fur. His breath grazed the back of my floppy ears as he placed me on the dirt floor.
"Captain, get mom and Jade, then meet me in the fallout shelter. Go!" he commands, racing off in the other direction, ripping open the door to the basement. My eyes trail him as he points toward the house.
"Go!" he shouts, his eyes narrowing on me. I nod my head in understanding, turning toward the run-down home. It was falling apart; the wood house looked charred from previous fire damage. The windows had been blown out, still broken in some places and the grass around the house had long since died. I grit my teeth, this family didn't deserve it.
I whip my perked head and stance around, racing toward the house. My paws slap against the floor, kicking up dirt in my haste. I let a loud bark escape my lips as I forcefully try to push open the door. My cream colored paws run along the door as my claws run along the wood exterior.
Someone open the damn door! Please!
The door creaks open and a small child stands at the door. Her green eyes look me over for a moment as she answers the door. Her slim fingers struggle to hold the door steady. I snort, letting my tongue flop out of my mouth. With one hand she wipes the black hair from her eyes, moving from the doorway just enough to let me in with a small smile.
Thank you, Jade.
"Ma! It's Captain!" My eyes feverishly gazed to master's mother. She quickly stopped what she was doing, looking to me with great speed. She wiped the sweat from her sandy colored hair, running to the small child that stood before me. Her amber eyes scanned me with fright.
"Where is Reyner!?" she called. I backed up, my ears pinning against my head as I bumped into the wooden door behind me. I quickly turned tail, scratching the door. The elder women made haste, gripping the gold knob in her right hand. She opened the door, looking to the sky with worry.
I could hear the screech in the distance and I howled into the sky. I could see master appear in the distance, his sandy colored hair blowing in the wind as he waved his arm with haste.
"This way! Captain, come!" he whistled to me. I looked back to the small child, barking to catch her attention. Her emerald eyes looked to me with worry but I wagged my tail, brushing my orange fur along her leg in an attempt to coax her to follow.
It's okay Jade…everything will be alright…just follow me.
I rushed across the yard, jumping down the stairs into the bunker. My eyes rushed around the room for a moment, noticing the old T.V set and the old red and green striped rug. An old mattress sat in the corner as well as several boxes labeled 'supplies'. I glanced behind me, seeing Jade and the women enter soon after. With that, Reyner closed the door. He looked to me, and gave a weak smile.
"Good boy," he said as knelt down beside me, running his fingers along my spine. My cream colored tail wagged at his compliment, my tongue running along his salt stained hand as he attempted to pet me.
"He sure is," Reyner's mother breathed as a sharp whistle rang over the bunker. I growled as the sound pierced my ears. I backed up, crouching closer to the cement floor. My cream colored paws ran over my ears as I whined in frustration. With a fierce yap, the bunker itself began to shake. Jade gripped her mother tightly, screaming to her brother.
"Make it stop!" she yelled. My ears pinned against my head as I turned my gaze to Jade. She was a young, frightened child, no older than nine.
"Jade! Jade honey, it's okay… it's okay," Her mother muttered, although her face said otherwise. Reyner had run over to her, picking her up and sitting her on his lap as he sat on an old mattress. She pressed herself into his chest and he hugged her tightly, waiting for the shaking to subside. She couldn't disappear into his black hoodie, no matter how much she may have wanted to. But her sobs of despair still reached her brother, his emerald eyes shimmered as he looked to me. I thought of what he may need.
What can I do to help?
I tilted my head, sitting as I looked to Reyner. But he didn't seem to notice, he just allowed his sister to cry.
"It'll be okay, it'll be over soon," he reassured, his voice shaking with fear. I noticed his mother stare out into the distance. Her amber ember eyes were blank, a bit lost, and distant. She was shaking just as the bunker did. Reyner cleared his throat.
"Captain, the T.V." I trotted toward the old set, pushing a button with my nose. A picture drifted onto the screen and a man stood.
"This is a public service announcement to all males of the age of eighteen and older,"
I glanced behind me to Reyner, seeing him look away from the T.V. He simply hugged his sister tighter. My eyes wandered back to the moving pictures.
"In accordance to the law, all men of the age of eighteen are now required to join the army. Special teams and operations are available to those who train beside trained canine forces. But enlistment is mandatory, regardless of status of past family members."
The man on the T.V. struggled to speak, as tears streamed from his eyes. I gulped, looking back to Reyner. My Reyner was only nineteen, he had so much on his plate already... and his father had already served…
"Anyone who refuses will be tried guilty of treason and will be subject to immediate death."
My eyes shot to Reyner, who simply glanced to his mother and sister. His mother sobbed silently, her pale hand covering her mouth in an attempt to hide her breaking sound. But tears streamed over her hand, breaking as the announcement continued. Jade shook violently, gripping her brother's jacket tightly.
"No…please, don't go. Not you too!" Her mother stood, wiping away the stray tears before placing a hand on Jade's shoulder. Master's mother attempted to be strong, hoping to show courage to her daughter that was falling apart.
"Jade honey," Jade pulled away from her brother, looking him in the eyes. Reyner could hardly look at her. Reyner's sandy colored hair was moist with sweat and his emerald eyes were glossed over with tears. Jade's face was flush, red and sticky from tears. Her small finger's gripped his black hoodie tightly, refusing to let go.
"No! You can't go! I won't let them! They can't take you the way they took dad!" I cringed, my head sinking into the floor. I leapt beside Jade, hoping to calm the girl with my presence. I barked, hoping to reassure her but it seemed hopeless, that much she already knew. But Reyner couldn't leave without me; I wouldn't let him.
No, they can't take you. I…I'm going to follow you if that's the case.
"Even Cap says it's a bad idea! Reyner, don't go…" Jade pleaded. She had no idea what I had said, only the look of agreement on my face. At first, Reyner said nothing and the room sat in silence aside from the shaking every now and then from the disaster that was surely going on outside. His emerald eyes looked so faded, like he was somewhere else…I could only imagine.
"…" I barked to break the silence. I nudged him with my head, hoping to pull him out of it.
Say something dammit, your sister needs you!
"I have to…" Jade screamed, sobbing and wailing loudly.
That's not what I meant!
"No! No, please! Please don't go!" Reyner gave a fake smile, enough to make his family subside from loud wails. I whimpered through my clenched jaw, knowing he didn't mean the gesture.
"I'm coming back Jade, I promise," he whispered. I let out a soft whimper, hoping to gain his attention.
I'm following you, you know that right…?
"Like dad came back!?" she yelled, rushing toward me. I lowered my head, knowing my call went unnoticed.
"Jade, it's not like that! I gave you my word, and I intend to keep it!" Reyner shouted, standing as Jade broke from his arms, running toward me. I backed away from him, frightened by his sudden burst of anger. I could feel myself instinctively bare my fangs, ready to defend myself.
"You're a liar!" she screamed, pushing her face into my orange fur. I lay on the floor, licking her forehead to reassure her. My eyes would occasionally glance to Reyner who stood. His fists were balled up, shaking as he looked away. And for a long while, all that could be heard were her sobs.
She sobbed, soaking my orange fur with her tears. I would look to see Reyner, who could no longer look me in the eye. His mother was beside herself, shaking. I would look to Jade, noticing her strokes becoming weaker and less frequent. Eventually, the soft stroke of her hand ceased, and she had fallen asleep at my side.
Her mother had watched her for a long time, finally getting up and scooping Jade up in her arms before laying her one the mattress that lay in the bunker.
"Good Growlithe…" she whispered, patting my head. I glanced to Reyner, who put his hand out. I walked to his side. Reyner was not one to break. In fact, he was quiet…too quiet.
"Go with me," he muttered finally after a long silence. My ears perked. I looked to him, afraid I had heard something differently. There was no way…
"Go with me," he repeated, scratching behind my left ear. I leaned into his soft touch, wagging my tail at the tingle that ran along my spine. I simply looked to him, seeing his emerald eyes flash with fear. I nuzzled against his side, hoping to reassure my friend.
I'll follow you…
"They have a special team. One for trainers and their canines…they usually stay behind and look for survivors…far away from the front lines. If we were to do that, we may just make it back in one piece," he muttered. I wagged my tail at the idea. Jade would be utterly destroyed and that poor child…I wouldn't allow it to happen again.
Yes…that sounds better than being on the front lines.
"We can do it Cap, I know we can!" He balled up his fists. I barked in response, earning a small smile from him.
"Okay…so tomorrow, we enlist as part of the special canine unit…hopefully things go our way," I glanced to Jade, seeing her sleep. Peace did not rest upon her face, and I knew tomorrow would bring pain. But…what could we do?
We have to come back…no matter what.
We could do nothing but hope Jade would take it well. I knew she wouldn't, and Reyner didn't look so confident himself. The skinny copper-toned boy held his sister close that night, humming a tune as he himself dosed off to sleep. I lie awake that night, thinking of what the dawn might bring. A soft flame escaped my lips as I watched the family, seeing their last night of union.
This is destroying them…
My ears fell as the sun began to peak over the horizon. Sleep had not come for me as it did for master…and I glanced back, seeing the final moments of their serenity. As the family woke up, I barked to Reyner, hoping that he may just leave without a word, despite the pain. He sighed, looking to me as he splashed his face with water.
"I have to tell them; it's the right thing to do," He was right. I wanted him to give them a clean break, but I didn't want the tears. I didn't want to see Jade's face…
He sighed, noticing his sister and his mother wake up. They began to fix themselves up, serving breakfast with various items from the 'supplies' boxes. Reyner sighed, looking to me before he looked to his mother and sister. Jade swallowed another spoonful of her cereal. It was a simple moment, one Reyner shattered with a look.
"…" Jade quickly looked up, noticing the guilt that ran along his face. Her once sleepy emerald eyes shot open and she dropped her spoon into the bowl.
"No!" And Reyner cringed, backing up as Jade stood from the table. His mother made no move, knowing his decision was final. He merely pushed open the door with me following close behind. Jade clasped hold of Reyner's hand, holding it closely to her chest.
"No! Reyner! Please! Please! I'm begging!" Her mother grabbed her shoulders, hoping to ease her child's pain. I ran beside Jade, seeing tears stream down her face.
"Your brother is fighting for a noble cause; you should be proud," His mother muttered, much to my surprise. Jade wasn't going to take it though; she broke away from her mother's grip and hugged her brother tightly.
"Pride isn't going to do us any good if you're dead!" she spat. I could see Reyner recoil, the words hitting him like a ton of bricks. I cringed seeing the anger that now rested in Jade's eyes.
"…" Reyner said nothing. I could only see him drop his green pack and hug her as tightly as he could. She pushed him away, hitting him with fists fueled by anger. But she was losing steam, losing her resolve as emotions flew through her eyes. I could see how her rage was replaced with a small glint of hope as she swallowed hard, holding her balled up fist against her brother's chest.
"Go then!" Reyner grew stiff, starring at his sister. She was hurting; pushing away was her last and final defense. Her black hair had been pulled with gravity, as her eyes shifted. She looked at anything but her brother.
Oh Jade…you are incredibly strong there, kiddo…I wish that it didn't have to be like this.
"I'm coming back…I promise," Jade sniffled, walking to me.
"Protect him, understand!? Promise me he'll make it back here in one piece! Promise you wouldn't leave his side!" I barked, wagging my tail in agreement. She hugged me tightly, tears soaking into my fur.
I swear to you…I will. Jade you will see your brother again.
"Look after my brother, Captain. He's the only one I got," she whispered to me. Reyner turned, happy with Jade's response. With a wave of his hand, and a final hug from his mother, he started off down the path. He waved his hand as a signal to follow. With a final lick of Jade's tear stained cheeks, I bark to Reyner to wait.
Jade was right; this was insanity. But no one could get me to stay home, not with my best friend out in a world like this.
Following regardless of the outcome, that's what it means to be loyal.