Meanwhile, Blitz’s body was completely shut down. As his subconscious became visible to his mind’s eye, he found himself in a dark void standing on a single lit space.
Suddenly, he heard his own voice rambling around him as flashes of the dark memories continued to pour out of the dark recesses he thought he had buried.
“How can anyvun here possibly see…?”
“My life is worthless…”
“All dhey tink is I’m a sissy, girlie hound…”
“Rejection after rejection, loss after loss…”
“Novun else undahstands my pain…”
“Rejected by the vurld…rejected by dhose I toht to be friends…rejected by dhose who I toht loved me…”
“I can’t take dhis any more…”
“…maybe I’m bettah off killing myself…” Blitz’s voice echoed in dizzying circles around him.
The words began to dig into his skull like a dozen dull ice picks. He collapsed to his knees, gripping his head in pain. All he heard was silence. He felt like he could just curl up and die as his stomach burned from the torture he had inflicted upon it with the lack of eating and constant muscle strain from crying.
“Mein Gott, so dhis sniveling anorexic excuse for a dog is vhat I’ve become…” an unseen voice said.
“Who… who said dhat?” Blitz asked in fear as he put up his defenses.
A figure began to emerge from the outer darkness of his subconscious. The light outlined the loosened ears and sleek tail of a Cano-Sapien silhouette. Blitz’s eyes went wide as if he were seeing a ghost.
“Have you really forgotten who you are, Orel...?” The figure asked.
Blitz gasped. He hadn’t heard his real name in so long that he had managed to forget. Orel… it meant ‘bright sunshine’… the very mascot of joyfulness. He had been given the name by his parents because he brought such joy to their lives as the first-born.
“I don’t go by dhat name anymore…I’m …” Blitz commented.
“Hmmmpf… “Blitz”… ‘Lightning storm’… Mutter vould scold you for something so dismal…” Blitz’s former self replied.
“Vhy are you here?” Blitz asked coldly.
“You locked me in here Dummkopf! Call dhis a ‘self-intervention’…” “Orel” confronted.
“A self-intervention….? Vhat do you mean?” Blitz questioned.
“Since you aren’t villing to deal vith it on your own… I vill have to force you…” “Orel” said.
Blitz wrinkled his head as a massive migraine started to surface. For so many years, he was forgotten about and left to fend for himself. He was sure that there was no one on earth to have any compassion towards him, especially after the way he had been with his teammates.
“Vhy vould anyvun care now? I’m dhe tooshie end of every joke vith dhe odhers! Dhey don’t know vhat it vas like to…” Blitz ranted as his lips began foaming.
“You’re driving yourself insane! Vhy don’t you see vhat your obsession of stuffing it down is doing to you…” “Orel” said as he motioned to supposed empty space of his mind.
Blitz squint his eyes and began to see the internal workings of his subconscious. A single window began to appear as “Orel” drug him up to look out. An eerie red glow coated Blitz’s face as he peered out the glass. Shades of red painted the entire area as the scene of an apocalypse began to appear. It looked like downtown Berlin, but it was like it had been turned upside down five times over.
“Vhat… vhat is all dhis?” Blitz asked.
“Dhis is vhere I once resided as your true identity. Because of vhat happened… you are in danger of completely fracturing. In danger of making me disappear… forevah…” “Orel” explained.
Suddenly, a horrible shrieking sound echoed through their ears. “Orel” looked out to the horizon hearing his familiar foe. The creature was black as sin and looked like it had a viscous form, like tar. Its eyes were a solid eerie blood red that scanned the scene as if searching for prey. It had several rows of sharpened teeth ready to destroy anything it could get a hold of. Blitz shook in fear as ‘Orel’ growled in hatred at it from the window.
“Vhat is dhat…?” Blitz stammered as he backed away from the window.
“You tell me… I’m not dhe vun who created it… all I know is dhat it vants me gone. I don’t know how much longah I can keep it avay…” “Orel” said.
“But… but I…” Blitz stuttered.
“But vhat, Blitzy…?” “Orel” growled, picking him up by his collar.
Being confronted with his former persona made Blitz start shaking in fear. All his pain began to bubble up, but he fought the urge to break down. He wasn’t weak. He didn’t need help. No one cared anyway. He could handle it.
“Here ve go again… the denial card… having a problem isn’t a sign of veakness, you know…” “Orel” said.
“I… I can’t… I just can’t…no vun vill undahstand how much it hurts…” Blitz said through gritted teeth.
“You say you tink you’re destined to be miserable…? Vell… you’re dhe vun keeping it like dhis!” “Orel” screamed.
“Orel” dropped Blitz to the ground as the scene began to grow darker around him. Blitz wished himself awake so he could escape this nightmare. It was as if he was trapped inside his own mind. All he managed to do was give himself a splitting headache, which only confused him more seeing as how he was inside his own head.
“Until you’re villing to do something for yourself… it vill only get vurse…” “Orel” warned.
Suddenly, “Orel” disappeared from his sight. Blitz looked around as he found himself leaning against a chained door. He curled himself into a ball, hugging his knees to his chest.
Tears ran down Blitz’s face as the nightmare continued. His face writhed in anguish as he wished to leave the tormented dungeon of his mind.
Meanwhile, Master Shepherd had been finishing up a couple projects. He was receiving the last files the Space Rover team was sending him from their cleanup maintenance on the Rover satellite. After four or five years of constant surveillance, it was in dire need of a clean out.
As he looked away from his computer to free his eyes from the strain, he observed the surroundings in his office. His eyes scanned the many portraits he had of his first Rovers team. His sight set on Hunter and Colleen’s wedding portrait first, which brought a smile to his face.
“Those two couldn’t be more perfect for one another…” Master Shepherd believed with his whole heart.
The photo next to it was Exile holding up one of the complex’s massive generators in one hand as he worked on the frayed wiring with his laser vision.
“Mr. Muscle-Mechanic Husky…” Master thought comically.
Photos of Shag and Muzzle littered the walls doing typical canines pastimes with the others: Shag throwing Muzzle a Frisbee on the beach, Shag and Muzzle sleeping in front of the fireplace, Muzzle wearing a Santa hat and Shag wearing reindeer antlers, and others.
Master Shepherd smiled as he viewed so many happy memories that he had the pleasure of enjoying with his precious pets. His gaze halted when he reached one of Blitz posing in one of his typical muscle stances. Worry filled his heart instantly. He picked up the frame and studied it intently. Everything about the Doberman’s attitude would sway most anyone to believe he was just a normal guy that had a few narcissistic tendencies, but nothing to be considered too strange.
He placed the frame back in its original position on his desk as he thought about how Blitz had been a few hours ago. Never had Master Shepherd seen him so distraught. Something deep inside him was being held back… but what…?
“If it has nothing to do with Hunter and Colleen… what could…?” Master pondered as he began to formulate an idea.
Master pulled up the original file he had for Blitz from when he recruited him. He remembered it well, but wanted to be sure of something. Indeed, a junkyard in the seedy part of downtown Berlin was the point of origin. Then, a small detail caught Master’s eye. When Blitz arrived at Headquarters, he had no collar or any sign he belonged to anyone, much like Colleen.
“I don’t know why I never saw this before. Oh Blitz… why didn’t you say something?” Master said softly as more and more questions flooded his mind.
It had been about two hours since Master Shepherd spoke with the others. Hopefully, Blitz had been resting long enough to accept company. He removed himself from his office to rejoin the other Rovers in the main den.
Everyone had remained in their original seats from earlier. They didn’t even bother to finish the movie. There was something much more daunting on their minds.
“How did we let this go for so long?” Hunter said finally breaking the silence.
“Well, Blitz didn’t exac’ly make it easy, Love…” Colleen added, still not ready to believe Blitz wasn’t upset she hadn’t chosen him.
“Maybe… but it is still no excuse… for ANY of us…” Hunter stated.
“Da… I am agreeing, Comrade. We shouldski have made it better for Blitz to be talking with us…” Exile said.
“Reah…” Shag agreed along with Muzzle.
“I know he could be a bit crude from time to time, but it still was never anything to…” Professor Hubert began.
“Wha’ could possibly be botherin’ Mr. Pretty-Boy so much…?” Colleen interrupted loudly.
“That’s what I intend to figure out…” Master interrupted as he entered the room.
“Master…” Hunter said.
“Before we go upstairs, Rovers, there is something I have just discovered,” Master began.
“Wha’ is tha’, Mastah…?” Colleen asked.
“When you all arrived at Headquarters, many of you had some form of ownership or the like. Hunter and Muzzle had collars from the L.A. pound… Exile had the leather neckband from the Siberian fisherman… Shag had the cloth collar from the Swiss shepherds… Colleen, I know, was un-owned… so was Blitz…,” Master exposed.
Everyone gasped. Colleen’s heart bit her as pangs of guilt began to eat at her.
“But… whyski did he never be saying so…?” Exile wondered.
“Well, it does make sense…” Professor Hubert said.
“Why is that, Professor?” Hunter asked.
“Over the many times I’ve examined all of you, I’ve noticed jagged scars on Blitz’s ears and his tail. Those scars are not normal for a typical docking. They looked like they had been cut after he was grown and not professionally. I never mentioned to him my suspicions since he was always fidgety when I had to even touch them,” Professor Hubert explained.
Colleen cringed slightly thinking about how bad the pain must have been. Maybe there was more to the Doberman than she realized…
Hunter just hung his head as tears formed in his eyes. Although his past had some bumps, with being taken from his mother, being abandoned and left to run the streets, then nearly being put to sleep, he managed to get through when he wasn’t the only one bearing the burden of it. All this time he had known the Doberman, he allowed him to bear the burden he had alone.
“Let’s go, Rovers…” Hunter said as he began walking towards the hallway.
Everyone followed behind Master Shepherd and Hunter, anxious to see what the Doberman was really hiding behind his seclusion. They wound their way upstairs and down the farthest corridor. The setting sun glimmered along the walls and floor, but abruptly stopped at the door to where Blitz’s room was. When they all arrived at the door, Master stepped forward to knock on the door.
Blitz was curled up tightly on his bed. His head had been throbbing the past half hour after waking from his dream. It felt like he had no more strength left. As he nuzzled into his pillow, he was startled by the sudden noise upon his bedroom door.
*knock* *knock* *knock*
"Blitz, its Master Shepherd. May I come in?" Master beckoned.
Blitz held his breath. He didn’t feel like seeing anyone, but knew Master Shepherd meant no harm. Just as he was about to open the door, he heard:
“Come on, my boy…” Professor Hubert coaxed.
Uh-oh… Master Shepherd wasn’t alone. He retracted his hand from the door handle as he tried to think of what he should do.
Hunter nervously cleared his throat, knowing he would be the last voice Blitz probably wanted to hear.
"Blitz, its Hunter… please let us in. We…I just want to help," Hunter sincerely pled, his voice cracking.
“Hunter…?” Blitz thought in amazement.
Blitz heard the emotion in Hunter’s voice. Hearing it directed towards him lowered his defenses a little.
"Comrade, it is Exile. We are wishing to get everything out in openski. I would like my… friend back," Exile said honestly.
“Friend…?” Blitz repeated aloud to himself.
Hearing that word made him return his paw to the door handle and began to unfasten the lock.
Outside the door, most of the others anticipated finally seeing the door open to the forlorn canine that resided inside. Colleen, however, kept to the back of the group. The fur on the back of her neck bristled in irritation as she let the memories of her dealings with the Doberman over the past few years run through her mind.
“Vhat… vhat do vant…?” Blitz said softly, still shaking upon seeing everyone at his door.
“Blitz, can we come in? We just want to talk with you, buddy,” Hunter answered.
As Blitz backed away from the door allowing everyone inside, they could not believe the amount of destruction. Chunks and splinters of wood from the smashed nightstand were everywhere; pieces of pillow fluff littered the floor and bed; shreds of the black and gold curtain fabric were strewn about; it appeared that the bed and dresser were the only things in the room still in one piece. It was the same amount of disarray Master Shepherd had seen earlier that morning.
"Mother Russia…" Exile gasped silently. There was no question that Blitz needed help.
Hunter and Colleen were speechless. Shag and Muzzle couldn’t even utter a sound.
“It looks like a wild animal tore through here…” Professor Hubert thought.
“So… talk… vhat about…?” Blitz asked blankly, as he leaned against the wall looking out his window.
“Blitz, I’m not gonna pretend I understand because I don’t. I’m tired of this tension between us…” Hunter said placing a paw on Blitz’s shoulder.
“Da, comrade… we needski our family being back together…” Exile added, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Vhy do you care about dhat now…?” Blitz asked, snapping his head to glare at the Husky.
“Blitz, we can tell there is something else on your mind than what we thought before…” Professor said gently.
“We only want to help you, Blitz. Nothing else… please…” Master pled, beckoning Blitz to sit down on the bed.
Blitz relaxed a little. For once, he couldn’t feel the usual hostility he normally felt around the others. He took the space between Master and Exile and cradled his head in his paws trying to alleviate his growing migraine.
Exile gripped his shoulder in a comforting way. He stiffened at the touch because it felt so foreign to have a friendly touch come from the Husky. Exile sensed this, but didn’t remove his paw. He wanted to be there for his friend and he wanted him to know it.
Blitz felt the pressure in his chest build. He was ready to explode. His eye began twitching. All he could here was the warring argument inside his mind.
“Nein… dhis is all a trick… dhey don’t care…” Blitz seethed.
“How do know? You’ve nevah talked to dhem!” an opposing voice rebutted.
“Vhy should I now? All dhey vill do is torment me…” Blitz argued as he clenched his jaw.
In reality, the others watched in shock as blood trickled out of Blitz mouth. He had his teeth jammed so hard into each other it was making his gums bleed. His body was shaking so much Exile began to put his arm around his shoulder to steady him. The warmth of Exile’s arm around him made Blitz’s eyes dilate as his breathing became rapid.
“Nein… dhey can’t… dhey… are here… to help… I…I…” Blitz rambled as his fight began to fade.
“Ja… go ahead…” the opposing voice urged.
“Comrade…?” Exile nudged as he noticed Blitz grow still.
Colleen was becoming uneasy. It was like watching a volcano prior to a catastrophic eruption. This was not the Doberman she knew…
Instead of words, all that came out of Blitz’s mouth were strangled sobs and cries. Exile pulled him to his shoulder into one of his bear hugs as the Doberman released the pressure inside his chest. It took nearly ten minutes for him to calm down enough to talk.
“You… you cannot know… vhat it has been… to carry dhis around…” Blitz stammered as he began to relax.
“What is it, Blitz? Please …” Hunter pled.
“Vhere do I even begin…?” Blitz began as he slid down to the floor.
Colleen clenched her eyes as she stopped listening to the Doberman. She had seen the same thing with all of the males back in London with her as well as to how she came to be in this world. It was like a knife piercing right through her heart again.
“No… it’s just like ‘ow Mum said me father was… just like this… this ‘as to be an act… Blitz is no different than ‘im…but wha’ if ‘e’s not lyin’…” Colleen seethed as the outer conversation continued.
“Well, just start from where is comfortable…” Hunter suggested.
Blitz breathed deep and let it out slowly to steady his words.
“Well, before ve all came here… I vas a guard dog for dhe downtown junkyard… if you could call it dhat…” Blitz began running a paw over his ears.
Colleen came back to the present situation upon hearing Blitz’s voice. She heard the last sentence saying he was in a junkyard. Maybe he wasn’t playing this sympathy card because of her and Hunter, but if he had been a stray like she had been… he needed to get over it… just like she had to.
“Blitz, did something happen there?” Master asked as Blitz began to go back in his past.
“It still hurts remembering…” Blitz started as more tears ran down his muzzle.
“Will you just grow up? Poor little Blister ‘ad to grow up in a junkyard. Big bloody deal! Wha’ did Mum toss ya off…?” Colleen taunted, stunning everyone.
That did it… Blitz’s face turned almost evil as a menacing growl rumbled in his throat. His eyes turned red startling everyone. Blitz had never showed aggression like this. It was frightening. Colleen even backed away as he stood to his full height in front of her.
“YOU CANNOT UNDAHSTAND DHE HELL I CARRY VITH ME!! YOU TINK YOU’RE SO SMART, LASSIE? YOU KNOW NOTING ABOUT VHAT HAPPENED TO ME! SO JUST GET OUT! DHAT GOES FOR ALL OF YOU… OUT!” Blitz screamed as he slammed the door open pointing for everyone to leave.
“Blitz, wait…please…” Master Shepherd began.
“NEIN…! OUT…!” Blitz demanded.
Without any argument, everyone left. Blitz slammed the door and vehemently locked it, making sure it was heard outside. Master placed his hand on the door, shaking with tears. Professor Hubert placed his hand on Master’s shoulder helping him down the hall to his office. Muzzle quickly followed giving Colleen an angry growl as he passed by. Shag turned his nose up at the collie as he stepped in line behind the Rottweiler.
“There was being no need for thatski, Comrade…” Exile stated in a harsh whisper as he followed the group to Master’s office.
Hunter couldn’t even move. He was standing stiff against Blitz’s door letting his head drop to his chest. His eyes were clenched shut trying to not overreact, but his heavy breathing told of his inner feelings. Colleen felt the tension emanating from him. Fear crept into her mind seeing Hunter like this. She moved to stand across from him to see if she could get him to look up.
“WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM, COLLEEN?!” Hunter yelled.
“’untie…?” Colleen squeaked in surprise and fear from Hunter’s tone.
“What made you say that? Could you not see how upset he is? Do you hate him that much? WHY…?” Hunter asked as he held her against the wall to just keep her still.
Colleen turned her face away, hoping to not have to answer. Her lips quivered as tears built up in her eyes. Her body stiffened as she tried to fight off Hunter’s firm grip.
“Answer me!” Hunter demanded.
“I-I’m s-sorry ‘untie…” Colleen rasped as she fought back the urge to cry.
“Sorry…? Sorry isn’t good enough, Colleen… plus it isn’t me you need to apologize to. Tell me why you said those things…” Hunter said calming down.
Colleen sniffed as tears began to flow down her face and muzzle. Hunter’s face softened as he took her in his arms. He hated the fact that he had made her so upset, but he had to know why she had been so cruel.
“Come on...” Hunter softly said leading down the hall.
Colleen followed obediently until they came to their room. Hunter led her to their bed and sat on the edge and motioned for her to sit down and face him. She looked up into his face and saw a look she had never seen before directed towards her… a look of disappointment.
“Now… tell me…” Hunter said sternly, breaking the tense silence.
“All I’ve evah seen in Blitz was wha’ the othah males back in London would do to me…” Colleen began.
“Colleen, I still don’t understand. Blitz obviously has no anger towards you or me… could you not see the pain in his eyes…?” Hunter asked.
“I-I guess I didn’t… *sniff* I’ve never seen ‘im like tha’…” Colleen sniffled.
Colleen succumbed to her tears. Hunter brought her close to his chest to comfort her till she calmed down.
“Come on… you need to go apologize…” Hunter said as he stood from their bed.
Down the hall, Muzzle stayed beside his master to try to be of some comfort. Master sadly sighed as he stroked the Rottweiler's head and ears.
"There must be something we can do…" Master said as he stood up from his chair.
“Da… Comrade is in deep darkness…never have I been seeing someone having so much hurtski…” Exile said.
“Indeed… I still would like to know what possessed Colleen to say what she did…” Professor Hubert said as he cleaned his glasses.
“Reah…” Shag agreed.
“Easy, Rovers…” Hunter said as he entered the office.
Colleen hung back in the door sensing the foreboding malice from everyone else in the room.
“Colleen…?” Master Shepherd coaxed.
The Collie entered gingerly as she sat down beside her husband. She kept her head hung where her long head fur concealed her face from her teammates.
Exile noticed the tears dripping off Colleen’s nose and softened his expression.
“Comrade…? Why being tears dripping from nose?” Exile asked calmly.
“I was wrong, Exile. I didn’t mean to say wha’ I did, but I know it’s too late. I’ve ruined everythin’…” Colleen said.
“Let’s give him the night… perhaps some sleep for all of us will ease the tension in the morning…” Professor Hubert suggested.
“I agree...” Hunter said.
“I hope it isn’t too late by then…” Hunter thought.
Back upstairs, Blitz was angrily pacing his room. He couldn’t bring himself to calm down. Colleen’s words cut him to his very core. His lips were covered in foam as his growling grew fiercer with every step he took around his bed. Fatigue began setting in… his knees buckling finally bringing him down to the floor.
“Dhere is no peace for me here…no place…” Blitz pondered as he lay on the floor beside his bed.
Suddenly, Blitz panned his eyes around and caught sight of his most valuable possession, his journal. He made sure no one, not even Master, knew it existed. He tenderly brought the treasured book to him and dragged his body back into his nest of covers on his bed.
He flipped through the pages and re-read his entries. Stories of his past both good and bad played through his mind. Upon turning a page, he began reading about the one place in his life he knew complete peace. Blitz closed his eyes and thought back to that time when he felt loved and surrounded by comfort.
“Dhat’s it…dhat’s vhere I can go…” Blitz thought in his tired mind.
As if on auto-pilot, Blitz dug through his closet and found his duffel bag. Since it was getting late in the year, he knew he should pack warmly. He made sure to have his fleece lined coat and gloves along with a scarf to cover his face. He stuffed the pack as full as he could with clothes, blankets, and the little plush dog he held dear.
He dressed himself to head out, but then remembered that Master, at least, would wonder where he had gone. He looked over at his journal and turned to the last page, which was blank. He placed the treasured tome on the foot of his bed carelessly. He tore the piece of paper out and began to write:
I cannot bear my pain any longer. I am going where I can have peace so no one will have me to worry about. Please do not search for me. I do not wish to be found. Forgive me.
Blitz hesitated before signing the note. He felt himself wanting to give some sort of clue even though he fought it. Finally, he conceded and signed the note:
Blitz put the note on his nightstand as he continued his preparations. It was a little past midnight when Blitz cracked his door open. Silence filled the halls. Everyone was most likely asleep or too far away to hear him emerge.
Before leaving his room, he ran his paw over the back of his head and felt the red collar around his neck. He felt so ashamed to even think himself as part of a team, especially a Road Rover. He removed the smooth cloth band and stared as his engraved nametag and communication disk. He gripped it tight almost unwilling to let it go, but finally laid it on the nightstand on top of the note. He shut the door quietly as he made his way down the hall towards the transportation tubes.
Strangely, Master’s office was dark and there was no sign of life anywhere down the hallway. Usually, Master was up very late working on projects and keeping an eye on world news.
Blitz crept into the darkened receiving/exit transport room and felt his way around the edge to one of the chambers. He engaged the digital touch screen and entered in the coordinates for Berlin, Germany. The chamber opened with a slight hiss and began locking in the coordinates to its internal GPS system. Blitz tucked his duffel as far back as he could get it before crawling in and tucking his legs up to his chest. Within a few minutes, the chamber closed and Blitz heard the lock click into place.
The pod took off from Headquarters at the speed of light pressing Blitz’s body hard against the back cushion. Once the force equalized, he settled in for the journey.
“Dhis is for dhe best …” Blitz thought as his eyes fell closed.
Back inside Headquarters, everyone had retired to their respective rooms. Master Shepherd couldn’t even manage to rest his eyes for a few moments. Muzzle was curled up at the foot of the bed, but just as sleepless as his master. It had been about six hours since they left Blitz’s room.
“Blitz, please help us understand…” Master said as he looked over a group picture of the Rovers.
He set the frame back down on his nightstand as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Knowing that sleep was not happening tonight, he pulled out his tablet that was connected to all the systems he had in his office.
“Might as well do some system maintenance…” Master decided as he went through the computer’s log.
Muzzle grunted in agreement as he crawled beside Master. Everything came up fully functional and nothing out of the ordinary until he came to the transport room. He noticed all the tubes were registering present… save one.
“What in the…?” Master pondered.
Master ran every scan he could to see if a sensor was damaged or a wire short-circuit. Nothing… everything was normal. Could it be that…? No, he had to be sure!
“Come, Scout!” Master said as he pulled his robe and slippers on to run to the transport chamber. Muzzle ran behind him nearly sliding into the wall a few times as Master rounded corners quicker than he could.
Once the Rottweiler reached his master, he found him hanging in the doorway about to collapse. Muzzle looked along his line of vision and saw one of the transport tubes gone.
“NO…! Blitz…!” Master shouted as he ran down the hall.
As he approached the door, Master’s heart was beating out of control. Master was hoping to still find the door locked and to hear the Doberman’s soft snoring. He put his hand on the handle hoping to find resistance…
The door opened.
“No…” Master whispered.
He entered the room and nearly collapsed. Blitz was gone. He wandered around the room, not seeing anything different from before. As he slowly stepped over by the bed, something caught his eye. He looked down to see Blitz’s red Rover collar with a piece of paper underneath it. His heart began to race, hoping that Blitz was just out for a walk or something very explainable. As he read the letter, however, his heart began to sink when he noticed tear stains making the words blurry. Muzzle looked with worry as his master read:
I cannot bear my pain any longer. I am going where I can have peace so no one will have me to worry about. Please do not search for me. I do not wish to be found. Forgive me.
“Orel…?” Master questioned.
As he folded the letter neatly, Muzzle scooted closer to him, trying to comfort him. Master reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a whistle in the shape of a dog's head.
"Cover your ears, Scout," Master warned as he approached the window to call the Rovers and give them the heart breaking news.
The high-pitch shriek screamed through the complex summoning the rest of the Rovers to their master. Hunter and Colleen arrived first as they burst into the Doberman’s room. Exile wasn’t far behind as he slid along the floor to catch his footing. Shag waltzed in holding a jumbo box of milkbones he had been working through. Professor was the last one to make it in as he wrapped his blue plaid robe around him.
“Master, what’s…. where’s Blitz?” Hunter asked realizing where he was.
“Rovers, sit…” Master instructed as he unfolded the note he had found.
The canines mechanically obeyed as they stared in worry at their beloved master. He read the forlorn letter aloud and watched as all the Rovers looked to the floor in sadness.
“He signed it ‘Orel a.k.a. Blitz’…” Master finished.
“What is meaning ‘Orel’?” Exile asked.
“I’m not sure, Exile… just another piece of this puzzle…” Master concluded.
“Where would the poor boy go off to so late at night?” Professor Hubert wondered.
“Apparently as far away from me ‘e could get… I don’t blame ‘im,” Colleen said.
“Why would he run away now?” Hunter said.
“Comrade was never being so upset before…” Exile added.
“Perhaps… but there has to be something to tell us where… wait… what’s this…?” Master began as his hand brushed over something under Blitz’s blankets.
Master peeled back the mussed up sheets and pulled out a tightly bound, tattered book. It had a picture of a lightning bolt on the cover with scratch mark designs etched into it.
“Strange…” Master said.
“What is it, Master?” Professor Hubert asked.
Master flipped open the front cover to discover Blitz’s name and a strange saying: “Story of My Storm”
“It appears to be a journal Blitz kept, but he wrote something very cryptic under his name. ‘Story of My Storm’ Hmmmm…” Master answered.
“He never seemed to be the journal type to me. I’d hate to pry any further, Master. What if Blitz finds out?” Hunter said.
“I agree. We don’t know if anythin’ in there would even ‘elp us fig’ah out where ‘e is…” Colleen added.
“Maybe not… but I think it will help us narrow it down… understood…?” Master said.
“Understood, Master…” all the canines agreed in unison.
Master Shepherd held up his hand and clenched Blitz’s collar tightly as he silently promised to do whatever he could to help him. As the front cover of the journal was turned, everyone held their breath as Master read Blitz’s story:
Where to begin… at the beginning I guess…
It was a cold wet evening. I was rummaging the dumpsters in the town square. The shops had emptied their trash for the day. Perfect time to hunt for fresher scraps…
Mama had sent all of us into the nearby alleys to look for what we could manage to get. We were only a few months old at the time. Father was gone. Wouter’s pack had killed him a few weeks before. Mama said that he saved all of us, but now we were barely able to scrape up enough food every night to survive.
Trage, Zelin and I found a feast left by the backdoor dumpster of a bakery. Two whole loaves of rye bread along with massive amounts of pastries were just sitting there waiting for us to find them. We gathered everything we could carry and went to find Mama.
It should have been such a happy night for all of us, but that night was when my life was tossed into utter darkness. Mama, Elise, and Saphira were waiting for us under the small town bridge. We were able to present our find before we heard growling.
It was Wouter. He had found us. The pack surrounded us as he stepped to face Mama. He spoke to her, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I huddled my siblings behind me as we backed behind Mama.
Wouter… such an ugly bastard. He was covered in old scars that made him look like he was barely held together. He was superior on the streets. What Wouter wanted… he got.
He kept circling us as he and Mama kept talking. I remember her begging for him to just take our food and leave all of us alone. We were all so hungry, but it was either our food or our lives. Mama and Wouter went behind the edge of the bridge for some reason before I realized what was about to happen.
Wouter’s pack was closing in. I heard Mama scream for us all to run. We spilt in different directions. I ran as fast as I could and climbed back into the dumpster I had found the bread and pastries that night. The two members of Wouter’s pack passed me by without a second sniff.
When I saw they had gone, I ran back to the bridge. I thought I would find my family, but …
Master’s voice choked as the next portion of the story brought tears to his eyes.
“Master…?” Hunter asked.
Colleen had her face buried in Hunter’s chest as she choked tears back. Exile and Shag were going through a second box of Kleenex fearing what was next. Professor Hubert was kneeling beside Muzzle with his head hung.
“Professor…? Could you continue…? I need a moment,” Master asked, handing the book to the Bloodhound.
Professor Hubert nodded as he resumed the tragic tale:
I thought I would find my family safe and sound, but when I found my way back… all I saw was darkness. I slowly crept to where we had been staying and was so sure I saw my mother and brothers and sisters laying down together like we would every night.
I went in close to nuzzle my mother, but she didn’t move. I leaned into her chest thinking she was just asleep… I couldn’t hear her heart beating. I felt a warm stickiness around my face where her throat was. My brothers and sisters felt the same. I ran to the small stream of water running under the bridge and dunked my head in the water. Rain was beginning to pour down hard around me. Lightning lit up the sky.
All I saw was red… bright red blood rinsing out of my fur. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe it was just a wound… maybe it was from something else… but no matter how I denied it I knew that my family was dead. Wouter had killed them all, except for me.
I ran as fast as I could away from that horrible scene. I didn’t care where I was going or what happened to me. Would Wouter find me now? I didn’t care. That was the day I became ‘Blitz’…
“No… Blitz…” Hunter sobbed as he clutched Colleen tighter to him.
No one could have imagined this. It was no wonder Blitz was so distraught. The Rovers spent the remainder of the night mourning their teammate’s tragic past, refusing to even leave the room.