by Mary Grace Mauney
Hazel and Sam hit the ground hard. Luckily they had not been tossed too far up in the air, and the road was dirt, not gravel or pavement, so they were not hurt at all. They still had the wind knocked out of them though, especially since they were both such small animals. This left them too stunned for too long to call after the wagon to stop, and by the time they were able to do so, it was too far away for anyone on the wagon to hear their tiny voices.
"Well," said Hazel, as she watched the wagon disappear into the darkness over the horizon, "I guess we're on our own."
"Don't worry!" Sam assured her, "I'll protect you!"
"Oh, uh, good," said Hazel, trying to hide the fact that, as a tiny little dog out at night in the middle of nowhere, she didn't really feel like there was much an even tinier little rat could do if something bad happened. And so many bad things, she began to think, could happen. Especially since the sun had gone down now...
"I'll build us a fort!" said Sam, and she started to run off the road and into the nearby wheat field, but Hazel put a paw down on her tail before she could disappear into the tall stalks.
"Ow!" Sam fell on her bottom, "Why'd you do that? We're gonna camp out and be explorers! I've got great survival skills!"
"I don't think we're going to need to," said Hazel, "Please don't go off the road, or you might get lost! If we just follow it, it should lead us right back to the barn where we started, and we'll be fine."
That was when there was a howl in the distance. A long, eerie howl, high-pitched and almost cackling.
"Werewolves!" Sam cried with excitement.
"It was probably just some barn dogs," Hazel's voice wavered as she said this, however, because it didn't sound like any dog she'd ever heard. Not even the baying of beagles sounded like that. But there was a familiarity to it as well, something canine in it, or close enough, for its alien quality to be all the more unnerving, like seeing the face of a family member on a complete stranger. She tried to push it out of her mind, to convince herself that it had just been distorted by the light autumn wind, and it was indeed just the call of a farm dog barking at a raccoon or something. And that werewolves definitely didn't exist...