The small plane sputtered, veering right and left as it lost altitude in the oxygen-depleted air over the Himalayas.
“We’re not gonna make it,” said the man in the co-pilot seat.
“Oh, we’ll make it,” said the man attempting to steady the dilapidated plane. “We better make it. You know what we got in back. And you know who it belongs to.”
In the back of the Cessna, one large cage sat at the tail end of the plane, bolted down. Lying on the floor of the cage was a hound dog, seemingly undisturbed by the chaos happening just outside the metal bars around him. His eyes remained wide open, not with fear, but with acute awareness. He had no concern for his own safety; his only concern was the safety of the two small creatures burrowing themselves under his belly.
Despite a valiant effort by the pilot, the man in the co-pilot seat turned out to be right. They did not make it. The sudden storm that had caused the plane so many problems had finally passed and the midday sun shone down on the metal parts scattered all over the mountain pass. There was no sound or movement from the cockpit.
There was no movement in the back of the plane, either. The cage remained bolted down, but the door had swung open. The cage was empty.
The sun shined bright, but the wind was biting. The cold was unlike anything the young hound had ever felt before. It didn’t matter. He needed to find some food and a safe place away from any predators. He stopped to get a better grip on his two companions. He hoped he wasn’t hurting them with his strong jaws, but it was the only way he knew to transport them. They were too fragile to walk on their own, and it was his duty to protect them.
The mountain that had seemed so distant from the wrecked plane was finally getting closer. He’d try to find some hikers who might take pity on him.
The sun was starting to slip behind the mountain peak. The sun would be completely out of sight soon and the temperature would drop another 50 degrees. His companions were still in shock from the crash and wouldn’t last very long if left exposed to the harsh weather. He had to find sanctuary.
The sun barely peeked over the mountain top. The hound limped closer to the base of the mountain. There were no humans in sight. The wind was picking up and beginning to toss around wet snow and strange sounds. He couldn’t be sure if it was the wind itself moaning or something in the mountains, watching them. The hair on his back stood straight up and his fellow travelers squirmed and wiggled anxiously. He needed to rest, but he knew he couldn’t. Unfortunately, his body didn’t agree. He walked a few more strides before falling to his side. He loosened his grip on the kittens. They lay next to him, rubbing their noses on his head and pawing him gently in an attempt to move him. After a few minutes, they gave up and burrowed themselves into their favorite hiding spot under his belly.
The leopard saw its opportunity. There was nothing stopping it from getting to the warm meat lying in a heap at the foot of the mountain. It took one more look around and sped towards the exhausted dog.
The leopard never felt the arrow that struck its temple and shattered its skull.
The hound felt himself moving and groggily opened his eyes. He was slowly being dragged up the mountain on a small sled. He yelped once frantically, not seeing his companions, but he then felt their warm bodies on his back, kneading his fur with their tiny paws. He sighed and looked towards the shape that was pulling his sled. He saw nothing but a dark, human-like mass with a rope tied around the waist connected to the sled. The moving mass heard the yelp and stopped. It turned slowly; everything moved slowly in this cold. Underneath a dark hood, two fierce, bright eyes looked intensely upon the animals. The hound was transfixed by the gaze. It felt calming, reassuring. He had a sense that he and his companions had reached their sanctuary; in fact, he felt as if this was where they were meant to be all along. He closed his eyes and drifted off.
End Chapter 1
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.