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The sun was shining bright through the trees as Johnny began his walk home from school. For three months now he has taken the longer route home in order to avoid being bullied by the Peterson brothers. The bullying started when Johnny beat Drew, the younger Peterson brother, in the Charleston Middle School spelling bee. This would have been Drew’s third consecutive win. Ever since the spelling bee he has been constantly harassed and beat up after school. As a result, Johnny is forced to take the extra fifteen minute path through the forest to and from school every day. He knew this was much better then possibly being confronted by the Peterson brothers.
It was a beautiful day outside as summer was really beginning to show. The trees were in full bloom, tiny plants were covering the muddy ground and beautiful tulips blooming throughout around the forest floor. The sound of his feet stepping on sticks that had fallen from the trees made a cracking noise with each step. How much longer am I going to have to walk this way? I’m running out of excuses for why I come home so much later then my little brother he thought to himself. He was half way through the forest when he was suddenly hit hard from behind down to the ground.
“Found you Gibson! You’re all alone now!” said Gary, Drew Peterson’s older brother. They pinned him down to the ground and rubbed his face in the mud.
“This is what you get for making me loose!” said Drew. He stood tall next to Johnny with his arms crossed in his black leather jacket giving him a devilish stare. Johnny’s eyes began to sting and water as his face was rubbed in the dirt. Gary was the heavier of the two brothers and it didn’t help that he was on the wrestling team either. All his weight was crushing Johnny making it harder and harder for him to breathe or escape for that matter.
Stop! Please stop! Help me!” Johnny managed to squeeze out while gasping for air. He knew though there was nobody within a mile radius of where he was besides the three of them.
“Nobody’s here to help you now Johnny, what are you going to do? Call mommy? Well she can’t hear you!” said Drew. They took turns pushing and shoving him back and forth until finally Johnny was able to break free and began running faster then he ever has before through the forest. He didn’t care to look back but he could hear their footsteps not far behind him.
“Get back here Gibson! You’re really asking for it now!” said Drew. But Johnny didn’t look back or stop, he continued running deeper and deeper into the forest off the path that lead him safely back to his house. He would have to worry about getting back later because right now the most important thing was getting away from the Peterson brothers. The trees became thicker and the forest became darker as he ran farther and farther.
“Drew we better turn around now its getting really dark and I don’t know where we are!” shouted Gary. Johnny kept on running farther and farther into the forest until he felt confident that he couldn’t hear footsteps behind him. When he turned around he found nothing but trees and darkness. There was no sign of any opening as he did a three-sixty in place. Tears began to fill his eyes as the bruises and scratches from being pushed and shoved became more and more painful. Overwhelmed with exhaustion, fright and pain Johnny collapsed to the ground.
When he woke up the sun had gone down completely and only a crescent of light from the moon in the sky poked through the trees of the dark forest. Johnny panicked when he realized where he was and that everything that happened earlier was not a dream. His breathing became heavy as he tucked his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. The cool breeze sent a shiver down his spine as he knew that there was no way he was going to find his way home tonight. What am I going to do? This can’t be happening to me. What will my mom and dad think? Johnny though to himself. He wished he had signed up for that boy scout class his mom had nagged him about for months because maybe then he would know a little more about how to build a fire or some sort of shelter. It was too late now though and he would be on his own tonight in the dark mysterious forest.
Johnny dozed in and out of sleep never able to keep his eyes shut for more then ten minutes. He was awoken by the sounds of footsteps behind him. He could tell that they were too light to be human footprints. Slowly he turned his head around to discover a large creature with four legs that stood tall above him from the ground. A low growl came out of the creature and the moonlight reflected off of its large sharp teeth. Johnny slowly began to get up and walk backwards as the animal crept closer and closer with each step he took. Johnny was forced to stop when he backed into a large oak tree. This was it Johnny thought there was nobody here to save him from the animal; he was going to die right here. The animal crouched down as if getting ready to attack and with one last growl it leapt at Johnny. Suddenly something intercepted the animal’s path to Johnny taking it down to the ground.
The other animal appeared to be much larger then the other and the two began wrestling on the ground. A series of growls and shrieks came from the animals as they tumbled around clawing and biting each other. Johnny slowly began climbing the tree so he would be safe. The brawl ended with one final yelp as the creature who tried to attack Johnny earlier ran off into the forest. The animal that had saved Johnny stood at the bottom of the tree. He could make out a tail and four legs in the darkness. The animal let out what appeared to be a barking noise. He decided to slowly climb down the tree and as he did so the creature slowly began to walk over to him. Johnny remembered what his mom had always taught him about meeting new dogs so he put his hand out, palm facing toward the ground. The creature came closer and his wet nose searched over Johnny’s hand. Johnny then proceeded to pet him and as he did so it wrapped around Johnny’s legs as if looking for comfort as well. His fur was thick as if his body was wrapped up in a rug. He was soft and smoother then silk; he had never touched anything like it before. After a couple of minutes Johnny sat down with his back against the giant oak tree and the dog curled up next to him. Johnny was finally able to get some sleep.
When he awoke the next morning he woke up to a loud rumble of thunder in the distance. He looked down at his side to find the creature who looked much like a dog still asleep curled up next to him. He was finally able to get a good look at him. He was unlike any dog he had ever seen before though. He was all white with piercing eyes, one glacier blue and the other a brownish green. His figure couldn’t be compared to any specific breed. You could tell he had great strength by his size and large paws.
The dog lifted his head when Johnny shifted to stand up. It stood up as well with its head almost reaching the height of Johnny’s chest. Another rumble of thunder occurred even louder this time and with it rain. Johnny could hear the drops hitting the leaves of the trees up above. Because the forest was so dense he was sheltered from the rain. Johnny decided he better try to find his way home now before the storm got too serious. When he stood up he couldn’t even remember which way he came from. The forest looked the same from every angle. He decided to just start walking in hopes that something would look familiar. The rain was pouring down so hard from up above that it was a beginning to go through the leaves and fall on his head. Within twenty minutes of walking Johnny was soaked as if he had just jumped in a swimming pool. His navy blue and white sneakers were stained brown from the mud, his socks soaked, his light gray shirt now dark gray and this blue jeans soaked as well. He decided to take a break under a smaller tree and the dog picked a spot right next to him. Johnny closed his eyes picturing his one story brick house on Lincoln Ave. He thought about his tree house in the backyard, his own escape where he and his brother play everyday after school. He thought about his mother always outside working on her beautiful garden of flowers pink, red, orange, yellow and purple in her favorite straw hat with a brown bow on it that matched her hair. Then he thought of his dad honking the horn as he does every day when he pulls in the driveway coming from work. How much he missed his family.
Suddenly Johnny spotted a clearing in the forest farther ahead. With great excitement he dodged trees but came to a great halt when he looked down to find a large river. The water was moving quickly because of the storm. A branch had fallen off a tree and was making its way down the river. Johnny knew this river, his father used to take him here all the time last summer. If he just followed it south he would end up at the beach by his house.
He began slowly making his way down the steep hill to the riverside. The dog stayed at the top of the hill watching Johnny make his way down.
“Come on” Johnny said. The dog paced back and forth on the ledge trying to find the easiest way down. The side of the hill was very steep and made up of pointy sharp rocks. It was especially difficult because they were slippery from the rain. Johnny was half way down when his foot slipped and he began to tumble into the water. He grabbed onto a branch for support. The force of the fast flowing river caused the branch to break and Johnny held on for dear life as he was swallowed by the river. He finally found enough strength to get his head above the surface. His body was being scratched up by the rocks below. He could see the dog running along side the river as it carried him. Suddenly the dog leaped off the edge into the water and swam after him. He finally made his way over swimming under Johnny so that he could hold on to his neck. Together they struggled to make it to safety but the current was too strong.
When Johnny woke up a bright light blinded him. After finally being able to fix his gaze he looked over to find his little brother passed out in bed next to him and his mom passed out on a chair. What happened, was it all just a dream? He was wrapped tightly in a blanket. He knew that what had happened was not a dream when he rolled over and spotted his clothes soaking wet on the chair and his muddy tennis shoes underneath them.
“Mom” Johnny managed to squeeze out, this throat was very sore. His mother quickly stood up and ran over to the bed.
“Oh my God sweetheart” she said as she gave him a big hug. “I though I lost you, I though I lost you.” Johnny began to cry tears of sorrow and joy. He tried hard not to replay the forest and instead focus on the fact that he was safe now.
“I was so scared I would never see you guys again” Johnny said.
“Everything’s going to be ok now sweetheart down worry. I promise that won’t ever happen to you again” his mother said.
“What happened to the dog? Where is he?” Johnny asked suddenly remembering the dog that saved his life.
“What dog are you talking about?” asked his mother.
“The dog that saved my life; he saved me from drowning in the river. Where is he?” Johnny asked frantically trying to pull himself out of the cocoon of blankets.
“I’m sorry Johnny I don’t know of any dog. You were alone when we found you. We found you a couple feet off of the shore across the river from the octagon gazebo down the street. You were barely breathing and your face was so blue. You scared me to death.” His mother said.
“But we have to find him mom, he saved my life.” Johnny said.
“Well what did he look like? Maybe we can send a description over to Sheriff Conrad.” Said his mother.
“He was all white and very tall about up to my chest. He had two different eye colors too blue and green.”
“That sounds quite unusual sweetheart but I will talk to him and see if they have seen him around. For now mister you need to rest though and stay warm. I’m going to go make you some chicken noodle soup.”
Johnny stared out his window as he could see the tree tops of the forest far in the distance thinking about the dog. There was no way this dog was just a part of his imagination. He had touched him and his smooth soft skin and felt him wrap around him. He was going to find him.
Months passed though and there was no sign or report of the dog.