Teaser #11 - Lost
By: Jim Bates
Left of his own Matt would have been fine but for a young dog who chose that moment to wander into the yard. When the little fellow spied Matt, he ran up to him, yipping playfully and wagging its tail.
"Oh, what a cute little doggy," Matt said, dropping to the ground to play. He reminded Matt of the dogs they'd seen crossing No Man's Land on their way to the mountains. But this little guy seemed lots friendlier than that pack of vicious wild canines. He was smallish, mostly white with some black marking around his face and floppy ears. Matt giggled as the puppy licked his face. "Oh, you silly little guy." The puppy allowed Matt to pick him up and hold him. "I think I'll call you Joey."
It was an instant bond. When Matt set him down and Joey took off running, Matt didn't think twice. He jogged after his new friend, following him out of Shellie's yard, across a field and down a trail through a grove of trees all the way down to the edge of the river. When Joey stepped to the edge to get a drink, Matt was right behind him.
"Hey, little guy. You thirsty? I am, too."
Without thinking, Matt stepped off the bank into the river, but the combination of a fast current and slippery stones were too much. He lost his footing and fell, pinwheeling his arms in a vain attempt to regain his balance before plunging into the rushing water. Instantly, he was caught up in the raging river and carried downstream, bobbing through the waves and smashing off rocks as he struggled to stay afloat.
"Help. Help me. Mom. Dad," he yelled, but no one was around to hear him.
No one but Joey.
On the shore, the little dog saw his new friend struggling to stay afloat and didn't hesitate. He leaped into churning waters and fought the current until he was able to swim close enough for Matt to grab hold.
"Joey," Matt called as he enfolded the little dog into his arms and pulled him tightly to his chest. Joey licked Matt's face as together as they were propelled downstream, Joey's buoyancy helping to keep them from sinking. Matt couldn't see it, but only a half a mile away was the dam and the mill with its huge grindstone spinning fast in the rushing river. They were being swept toward it, the cold-water sapping Matt's strength as he became weaker by the minute. All he could do was hold on to Joey for dear life.