“Wake up honey. Time to go,” Mama said.
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Back then I was just over a year old, and for the third time that winter we had to move to a new den. The hunters were coming after us again.
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I opened my eyes and blinked a few times.
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“Do we hafta move again Mama?” I asked.
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“We have to keep moving or the hunters will get us. They almost got us last time,” Mama said.
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Mama always made sure we were safe. We had been on the run all winter. The same two hunters were chasing after us. Already my father and two of my brothers had been killed.
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I got up and joined the rest of my siblings for a breakfast of field mice. I wished we could have some of those delicious blueberries but unfortunately they don’t grow in the winter. After we were finished we walked out of the den. A cold wind blew through my fur sending chills down my spine; It was snowing. I huddled up against my Mama to stay warm.
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Mama giggled and said, “Oh honey, you’re so cute. When you’re fur is longer you’ll be warmer”.
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We looked around a bit and then started moving. Keeping an eye out for any mouse or rabbit that might become our dinner. We walked through miles of gray and white colored forest. I looked back at our tracks.
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“Hey mama, won’t the hunters be able to find us cuz of our pawprints in the snow?” I asked.
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“The snowfall will cover them up. They won’t find us,” mama said.
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After a day of seemingly aimless walking Mama stopped and her ears perked up. That usually wasn't a good sign.
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“Children, move quickly,” she whispered.
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She started guiding us all toward a small empty den she found.
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“Are the hunters following us?” I asked.
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“I don’t know dear, but I heard something and I want to be safe,” she whispered back.
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We all went into the small den. By siblings went to sleep in one corner, and Mama and I in the other. Soon everyone was asleep; except me. All I could think about were the hunters. After maybe half an hour I nudged Mama.
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“Yes dear?” She asked as she yawned.
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“Mama, I can't sleep. I'm scared,” I said.
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“Sweetie, don’t be scared. No one’s gonna hurt you. Mama’s here to protect you,” she said.
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She patted my head and began to sing a sweet lullaby. Her voice was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. Listening to her singing was like laying on a bed of cotton covered in silk. As she sang I slowly began to drift off to sleep. Mama was the world to me.
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That night I dreamed that Mama and I were walking together in a beautiful forest in the spring.
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“I’ll always be there for you. I’ll protect you forever,” she said as we walked.
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The next morning I woke up to Mama nudging me.
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“Rise and shine honeybun,” she said.
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I stood up and gazed at the sunlight streaming into the den, and onto my brothers who were pouncing on each other. I backed up into the far corner to stay out of the way.
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“Boys, you’re scaring your sister. You know how shy she is. Calm down,” Mama said sternly.
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“Yes mom,” they all said in unison.
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All my brothers were three years older than me, and their games constantly scared me.
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Mama laid down next to me and started grooming my fur.
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“Did you sleep well?” She asked.
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“I dreamed about you Mama,” I said.
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“Oh isn't that sweet,” Mama said.
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She began to hum a short tune.
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After breakfast we made our way out of the den. It was snowing harder than the day before.
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“Come on kids, let's go,” Mama said as she pushed past my brothers.
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“TICKLE ATTACK!” they yelled as they jumped on her.
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Mama fell over and started laughing as their tiny claws scrubbed across her tummy. I stood where I was; motionless. Suddenly, off in the distance we heard a bang. Mama and the boys froze. The boys jumped off and Mama stood up. Mama perked her ears up and listened. The sound came again.
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“Run,” she whispered; a hint of terror could be heard in her voice.
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We all ran as fast as we could. The sounds slowly became closer and louder.
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“Mom, I'm tired. Can we rest?” One of the boys asked.
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“Keep running. We’re not safe,” she replied.
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“Mama, are the hunters gonna catch us?” I asked.
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“No honey. We’re going to be just fine,” she said.
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Then there was a loud bang and Mama fell. The boys screamed and kept running. I stopped next to Mama, who lay motionless on the ground.
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“After them,” I heard a scratchy deep voice say.
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Then two muscular men, each armed with a rifle, ran by; they were chasing after my brothers. I looked at Mama laying in snow that was slowly turning red. I nudged her.
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“Mama what’s happening? I’m scared,” I said.
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“Hush sweetie. Mama’s here for you,” she said.
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I began to cry.
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“Don’t cry honey. I won’t let anyone…” she began to say.
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I waited for her to finish, but she didn’t.
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“Mama?” I asked.
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I waited but got no answer.
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“Mama? Why aren't you answering?” I asked.
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Still no answer.
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“Mama? Mama, answer me!” I wailed.
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Still no response.
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“MAMA!?” I yelled as I began to shake her.
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Off in the distance I heard more bangs and yelps; then silence.
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I curled up next to Mama in the red stained snow; sobbing. I began to sing through my tears.
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“Oh sweet foxy cary me so. Hold me close and never let go. I'll be here for you if you'll be there for me. I'll be here forever, with you. Oh sweet mother, care for me so. Stay in my heart and never ever go. I’ll wait here for you if you’ll wait here for me. I'll be here forever, with you,” I sang.
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I laid my head on her back and cried heavily into her fur; no longer able to hold back any of the tears.
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“Mama...I love you,” I cried.
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I lay there sobbing for a long time. It must have been a few hours before I finally stood up. The red stains were beginning to fade. I looked at mama laying in the snow.
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“Why…?” I asked to no one.
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“Good-bye Mama,” I said as I walked away; my eyes beginning to tear up again.
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I was all that was left of my family. I did not know where to go or what to do with myself so I just walked. The wind began to blow again, and the snowfall became harder. As I walked the sun began to lower in the sky.
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I was walking across a flat shallow patch of snow when I heard a sudden popping sound.
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“What was that?” I said quietly.
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I looked around looking for another animal that may have been the cause but I didn’t see anything. Then I heard a low creaking sound and a shattering sound. Next thing I knew, I was in frigid water. I swam back to the surface and started trying to pull myself out of the water but my paws kept slipping on the ice. I started yelping and barking as loud as I could hoping that maybe someone would hear me and come to help. My movements began to slow as my body slowly froze in the water. As my strength finally ran out I slid beneath the surface of the water.
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“Mama, save me,” I mouthed as I slipped into unconsciousness.
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Today is Saturday. The mail has come, and it's more bills I can’t pay.
“Being laid off really sucks,” I said as I walked to the famoily room.
I spent most of the morning lounging around the house playing on my Xbox. Ever since I was laid off my life has been in a downward spiral. I can’t even muster the cash to pay a plumber to fix the leaking pipes in the basement.
I sighed and stared at the home screen of my Xbox.
“I just don’t know what to do with myself,” I said aloud.
I got up and turned off the Xbox before I walked over to the deck doors and looked out.
“Snow,” I said softly as I put my hand on the door handle.
I realized before I slid open the heavy old door that I was not properly dressed to go out in the cold. I put on my coat, hat, snow pants, and gloves and then I pulled open the door and stepped out. The snow was deep; almost up to my knees. I made my way down the steps to the backyard and looked out at the trees remembering adventures from the past. I got to the edge of the hill at the end of the backyard when I stumbled on something buried beneath the snow and rolled down the hill. I looked up at the trees. All bare except for a few pines. The trees reminded me of the event that changed my life those 30 years ago. I thought for a moment and sighed.
“Those were better times,” I said to myself.
"Well, no sense dwelling on the past," I thought as I stood up.
I continued further in and stopped in front of a small snow covered hut. I dug out the small door and walked in. Lining the walls were framed pictures of Lyra my dog, Diamond my fox, and me. I felt a sudden sadness come over me looking at those pictures. I picked up a picture of the three of us together and started crying.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” I said softly through the tears.
I stuck the picture in my coat pocket and walked out. I dried the tears and continued on.
I walked through the isolated woods for a few more minutes until I reached a river; the place that it all began. I sat down as all the memories came flooding back. My eyes began to water again. As I sat in the snow thinking, a small fox walked up to me and sat down laying its head on my lap. I’ve always had a special way of communicating with animals.
"Oh, hello,” I said to the fox as I patted its head.
The fox looked up at me revealing small clear blue eyes.
“You look like an old friend of mine,” I said.
The fox looked at me questioningly.
“Her name is Diamond. We met about 30 years ago…” I began.
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"I wish mom would let me play games for longer," I said as I ran through the woods.
I wasn't running away, just wanting to be alone. There was a lot of snow. It was up to my knees.
I ran deep into the woods and when I grew tired of running I slumped to the ground against a tree.
"I was almost done with that level," I said while punching the snow.
I sat back, and took a couple deep breaths to calm myself.
"It's just a video game," I told myself, "it isn't that important."
As I sat in the snow I heard a faint yelping. It sounded like it was coming from the small river near by. I listened closer. It sounded like it was in a lot of pain, and scared. I knew that whatever it was needed help.
I got up and started running toward the river. I was 40 feet away when I hit a patch of snow that went all the way up to my stomach. I pushed on knowing whatever was yelping, needed help. I was near the edge of the river when I saw a small yellow fox trying to pull itself out of a hole in the ice. I threw myself forward toward the shore, but tripped on a stump. I landed with my entire upper body on the ice. I could feel it cracking beneath my weight. I reached up and grabbed an overhanging branch to try to lift myself off the ice so it wouldn't break. Using the branch I shimmied out to where the fox was. I looked into the water and saw that the fox had slipped beneath the surface. I reached in and grabbed onto the fox. At that moment the ice beneath me broke. The water was frigid. I could feel my joints freezing up as I moved to the shore of the river. Luckily the river wasn't very deep so I could walk across the bottom. When I got to shore I took my jacket and wrapped the fox in it. I was cold and wet too, but the fox was in a worse condition than I. I ran home and burst through the door.
"MOM!" I yelled, "I NEED SOME HELP!"
"Yes dear?" She asked as she walked in from the other room.
Then she noticed the bundle I was holding and the little fox that was wrapped in it.
"Oh!" she said surprised.
My mom ran to the phone and made a call. A few minutes later a vet arrived to examine the fox.
The fox finally woke up while the vet was examining it. It growled, but quickly grew too tired.
"She needs to rest," said the vet.
"Ok," I said.
I loosely wrapped her in a blanket and carried her to the fire.
The vet left and my mom went up stairs. I was left alone by the fire place with the fox until a hatch opened in the wall, and a small golden retriever walked out.
"Oh, hello Lyra," I said
"What's that little bundle next to you?" Lyra asked.
"Well, I rescued this fox at the river," I replied.
The fox looked at Lyra confused.
"Wh-what?" the fox said wearily, "where did you come from?"
"It's a long story," said Lyra, "I'll explain when you're feeling better. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some...work to attend to."
Lyra went back through the hatch, and the fox looked up at me, confused.
"So, you can understand us?" she asked.
“I can,” I said.
“Where did that dog go?” she asked.
"A dog agency. I'll let Lyra explain how I found out that she is an agent. She loves story telling," I said.
"Oh, well, I guess it must be safe to talk to you then," she said.
We sat in silence for a couple hours watching the fire die. The fox had become much better.
"Hey," I asked, "do you have a name?"
"No. My mama was killed by hunters before she named me," she said.
"Oh, that's sad. How about Diamond," I said.
"Oh I like it," she replied.
"Good," I said.
We sat together watching the warm glow of the coals until they finally went dark giving way to slow moving swirls of smoke that drifted up the chimney.
Diamond asked, "So, where did that dog go?"
"You mean Lyra? She went to the International Dog Communication Agency, or I.N.D.C.A. for short," I replied.
"Can I see it?" Diamond asked.
"I don't see why not," I said.
I went over to where the hatch was and put my hand on the wall. There was a quiet buzzing sound and the hatch opened. I stepped in carrying Diamond. The hatch closed and the lift descended. When the doors opened at the facility Diamond's jaw dropped.
"Good evening Jay," said a greyhound that walked by.
He suddenly froze.
"Is that a fox?" he asked.
"Hello Norman. Yes, this is a fox," I replied.
Everyone stopped and stared at me.
"Why is everyone staring at me?" I asked.
"Foxes are not allowed in the facility," said Norman.
"Oh," I said, "well...um..."
"What is the meaning of this unconventional congregation?" asked a large gray husky as he walked over.
"Hi Sergeant Pontiac, I brought a fox with me, and I had not been told that foxes were not allowed to enter," I said.
"A fox? we'll talk about this later. As for the rest of you...GET BACK TO WORK!!"
Everyone started to move away, and there was a lot of mumbling in the dissipating crowd.
"Jay, come with me please," said Pontiac.
I followed Pontiac to main office.
"Why did you bring a fox down here?" he asked.
"Well, I saved this fox from the river, and I wanted Lyra to explain why I know you all can talk so I decided to visit her in her office," I said.
"Speaking of Lyra, I was on my way to give her a promotion when I saw half of the workforce staring at you," Pontiac said.
"Really? Lyra is getting a promotion?" I asked.
"In this one instance, you bringing the fox will be excused," he said.
"So, am I allowed to come back?" Diamond asked.
"Yes," Pontiac said.
"Can I go and see Lyra now?" I asked.
"Sure, I'll let her know you're coming," he said.
"Thank you," I said.
"Well, that was...interesting," said Diamond.
"Yea," I agreed.
I left Pontiac’s office and walked to the corridor that Lyra's office was in. I walked to room 189 and knocked.
"Come in," Lyra said.
I opened the door and walked in.
"Fancy meeting you here," said Lyra teasingly.
"Yea, I don't come down here too often. Kinda hard to believe all this exists," I said.
"So, Diamond, I bet you are wondering why Jay knows about all of this," said Lyra.
"You bet," said Diamond, "and how'd you know my name."
"That's easy. Spy cameras and microphones," said Lyra, "As for why Jay is allowed at our headquarters, It was two years ago..."
“Wait a minute...you bugged the house?” I interrupted.
“Um...maybe?” Lyra said.
“Oh Lyra...what am I going to do with you,” I sighed.
“As I was saying, As for why jay is allowed at our headquarters, it was two years ago…” Lyra began.437Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcSOmi2Cvw7ns 126.96.36.199da2