Shavian let the gun drop to her side. She’d been trained that if you weren’t going to use it, don’t point it. She cursed herself for the hesitation. What if he’d fired first?
This wasn’t supposed to be about people fighting people.
She could only watch as the dogs saved her. First, she thought it was Pat that had come to her rescue. But it wasn’t the dark black and gold flanks of the German Shepherd.. Instead it was a black and white spotted Australian Shepherd.
The Aussie worried the soldier’s pant leg as Pat shot from the back of the van and tackled him to the ground, biting at his arm.
In a pile of fur and olive drab camouflage they tumbled to the ground. Pat lost her hold and fell off, rolling a few feet away. The soldier, seeing his chance, raised his gun to fire at Pat.
Before he could get aim, the Aussie leapt over his back and nipped at his wrist, causing him to drop the gun. “What the hell!” the soldier bellowed pulling his hand away. In response, the dog grabbed up the pistol in his mouth and trotted away with a gait like a show horse, taunting him.
What the hell was right, Shavian thought. It had to be some kind of show dog. It trotted along just beyond arms reach, with the gun held high in his jaws. Every time the man tried to move Pat would growl and bark loudly. Higgins walked up and took her by the collar.
“This is no dog-gone time for your capers!” Elliott declared, feeling incredibly cheeky holding the upper hand. Everyone stopped and looked at him; even the spotted dog turned to him with a “You have to be kidding me” look in his mismatched blue and brown eyes.
Losing his confidence, he scratched at the back of his neck. “Well, I mean… it seemed funny. You know, all the dogs.”
They didn’t have time to argue about what was funny or not. The earpiece for the soldier’s radio crackled to life. It’d been pulled free when Pat jumped him. The Aussie’s ears perked up and looked back to the mall, whining. Higgins nodded.
“More,” he said.
That had been the theme: wherever one was, more were nearby.
“To the truck!” Roger declared and pulled himself up into the van, turning around to help Junie up. Shavian agreed: a continued firefight with trained soldiers would be suicide. Higgins patted Pat’s flank and she obediently hopped into the van; he then turned to the spotted dog and nodded for the door. There was only a moment’s hesitation before the dog leaped on the back of the prone soldier and posed upon his fallen prize. Then with the gun still in his mouth he used the soldiers back to leap up into the van.
Higgins turned to her next.
“Don’t you start with me,” she grumbled. It was like he knew just how he should look at her and she’d respond. He gave her a warm smile and she sighed climbing in next, Fipps helping her up.
“Up you go, Sassy,” he said.
“Oh like hell, you’re calling me that.”
Higgins pulled the back door closed just as the other armed soldiers could be seen crossing the parking lot at a full run. They had assault rifles raised to fire. Higgins headed for the driver’s seat only to find the massive Roger already planted there. The first bullets pelted off the armored side of the van and with no time to argue he tossed Roger the keys.
Roger brought the van roaring to life and peeled out of the parking lot and down the street.
“Do you think they are going to chase us with a tank or something?” Shavian asked glancing out the back window.
“No, if they do chase us, they’ll use a helicopter I’m sure,” Elliott said.
“Aren’t you a bundle of reassurance,” she murmured.
Elliott blushed. She turned to look down at the spotted dog and frowned. “Now where did you come from?” she asked softly and leaned over to stroke his thick fur.
Pat moved back to her travel kennel; the other dog sat in the middle of the aisle, eyes moving from one person to the next. His fur was matted with dirt, and it looked like he’d been on the streets for a while. He seemed to be doing okay for himself though; he didn’t look like he’d missed many meals.
“He’s still got that gun,” Elliott said. “Give it here boy.” He held out his hand but the dog chuffed and slid back from him.
“I think he plans to keep it,” Shavian said with a grin.
“Oh come on. Give it here, you don’t even know how to use it.” He reached to take it from the dog. In response the dog jerked his head and let the gun slide in his mouth till the barrel was pointed right at Elliott.
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Spot seems to be a very smart dog.”
Shavian put her arms around his neck and hugged him. “He saved me, I get to name him.”
“Great, one more mouth to feed,” Roger said from the front. “Where are we headed?”
“Back to Washington,” Shavian said. “I’ve had enough of Oregon for one Apocalypse.”