He looked through his ICQ logs again, and again, for the life of him he couldn't see anything that would have made Sparky angry. Online they were friends, in person they hit it off but couldn't live together yet. Sparky had to graduate high school first, then he would attend college and share the house. James read the last logs from when they talked. "I love ya!" Sparky typed. "See you tomorrow night!" That was over two weeks ago, and James was getting a little worried.
So he decided to read through the entire archive for anything that he might have said. Nothing, mostly innocent chat. A lot of talk about furry, a lot of talk about dogs, and some talk about looking forward to a convention in April. Other than that, nothing really. James went further back. Sparky talking about his fursona, a brown sheppard dog. The state of the Union address. His love of blue collars. A mutual enjoyment of anime. Just chat.
James hopped online and opened IRC.
|Tinderbox : Anyone seen Sparky?
Abraxx : Not in a while. I've got a few people looking 4 him TB
Tinderbox : Thanks. I'm just worried about him, that's all.
Abraxx : I know u guys r tight. Any idea whazzup?
Tinderbox : No ideas. It's like he vanished.
Polly Gone : Considered that he might have shaved his head and moved to Tibet?
Abraxx : I'd pay $$$ 2 C that!
Tinderbox : Not funny.
Polly Gone : Hey, just trying to help
Tinderbox : If you see him, let him know I'm looking for him?
Abraxx : U got it TB.
James closed the program, but left his computer on the DSL and on ICQ. Just in case. He decided to start from the beginning of the log, everything they chatted about. He scrolled through the whole file, reading and remembering. Sparky was so silly sometimes, but always a blast to chat with. Half way into the log session, he saw something he had forgotten about. Sparky had typed his home phone number, for emergency use, "Ask for Tim." the message said next to it. It was just before the con. James looked at it, and thought for a few minutes before deciding to make the call.
The phone rang a few times before a female voice picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi! I'm looking for Tim. Is he around?"
A moment of silence, then "Are you some kind of sicko?" the voice yelled. "You're a sick and twisted freak!" Then the phone slammed down, and the line went dead.
James looked at the phone in a strange way. Not exactly the way he expected it to go, to be certain. But he hung up the phone and checked his screen to make sure he had the right number. As he was checking, his phone rang. The caller ID said it was the number he just called. Not sure if it was the woman calling back for round two or not, he hit the talk button. "Hello?"
"Hi. This is Paul Wallford. Did you just call this number?"
"I think so." James said. "I'm looking for a friend of mine named Tim, and this is the only number I have to call him at."
"I see." Paul said sharply. "And how do you know Tim?"
"Online." James said. "And I shared a room with him at the con the other month."
"You're James?" Paul asked, with relief. "It's good to finally talk to you. I'm Tim's dad."
"Oh! then hello!" James said with relief. "Is Tim around? I haven't seen him online for a few weeks and I was getting worried about him."
James heard a loud sigh, then Paul finally said "You'd better sit down."
|Abbrax : What U mean dead?
Polly Gone : And you say that shaving his head and moving to Tibet is out of line?
Orson : Shut up you guys I want to hear this
Tinderbox : I thought he was blowing smoke too until I looked at this link. I'll private it to anyone who wants it. I guess that he was involved in a hit and run. His sister was driving, and a car smashed them from behind. The car Sparky was in was thrown forward into someone's truck that had a ladder on it, and broke his neck. DOA.
Polly Gone : send me that link
Tinderbox : Sent. you too Abbrax
Polly Gone : damn
Tinderbox : my thoughts exactly. at least it was quick, huh?
Orson : kinda morbid TB
Tinderbox : Well, what else can I say?
Tinderbox : Snapped neck, died on scene, I'm lucky I had a phone number to call and find out or we'd never know what was up
Abbrax : should we send flowers or something?
Polly Gone : they want donations to the animal shelter in his name instead. Read the last line
Abbrax : TB check your privs
Tinderbox : BRB
James opened the private message window, and chatted with Abbrax for a few minutes. "Let me make a few calls." Abbrax said. "We'll change a few things at the con, get a new charity auction going."
"Thanks man." James typed. "I'm a little freaked out tho. Sparky's dad said there was something for me in his room, and he's mailing it to me. I didn't know I meant so much to Sparky."
"Weirder things happen." Abbrax said. "Gimme your phone number, I'll call you later."
Time passed by, and arrangements were made, and life moved on. The con raised a few thousand dollars in Sparky's name for the shelter. Things were going back to normal. James thought more than a little bit about Tim, his friend, looking over pictures he took at the con and putting more than a few on a mirror. When the package arrived at his home James found a hand-written note on it. "TB! Don't open me until YOU KNOW the time is right! Sparky" James shook the box, but left it sealed. Tim's last request wasn't such bad a thing. He'd open it someday.
One day James went out to get his mail from the mailbox. The next door neighbor was yelling at something. James paid it no mind until he heard a loud bark. He looked over, and saw the neighbor trying to hit a small dog with a rake. "Miserable mutt!" he was screaming.
James waked over, still holding his mail. "HEY!" he screamed. "Don't hurt it!"
"What's it to you?" the neighbor said with annoyance in his voice. "besides, it's in my garden!"
James looked down to the dog, who was looking at James. It was a brown dog, small, probably a puppy. Mostly German Sheppard, probably. James stopped, knelt down, and let the dog sniff his hand. The dog looked up to James with a pleading puppy-eyes beg, and James felt his heart strings pull. "He's my dog." James said.
"You don't have a dog." the neighbor said.
"I do now." James said. "My lease says I can, so now I do." James picked up the dog, who licked his face happily.
"Just keep it outta my garden!" the neighbor scowled. James brought his new puppy, and the mail, back into the apartment with him. He put the dog down to close the door.
The puppy stood, and took in the new residence. He sniffed around, then ran like a shot into James bedroom. James walked after him, not knowing what he was doing. James could hear the sounds of ripping and tearing, and feared the worst. When he walked in, he saw the puppy had torn into Tim's package, ripping the paper off of it.
"NO!" James screamed. "BAD Dog!" The puppy stopped, a piece of paper still in it's mouth, and backed away. "That's not for you to…." James anger fizzled when he saw what was in the package. He saw an envelope, a few books, a folded collapsible bankers envelope, and something that looked like a blanket. On the smaller envelope was written "Read me first".
James picked it up, and the puppy dropped the paper in it's mouth and
sat back, looking at James. James read :
If you're reading this one of a few things have happened. My vision came true, you got the package, and either you were so curious you needed to see what was in here or someone else opened the box for you. Either way, it means I didn't make it.
I don't know if you're familiar with the Karma Wheel. The book I sent you explains it all, I dog-eared the part on religions of India if you want to get right to the point. My parents don't know I believe in the Wheel, or what's going to happen. I can't tell them about the car, or the accident, or anything like that. But I know what will, so I prepared this for you.
I chose you because you've been the kindest to me online. And at the con, I liked spending time with you. I hope you liked spending time with me as well. I'm going to ask you to take on a burden. If I'm right, I'm coming back. And if it works, I'll be with you when I do.
Enclosed is another envelope with $3,000 cash. I know how much a "free dog" can cost, if you get my meaning, and it may help. My favorite blanket is also in here, you'll know who to let sleep with it. The books are for you, you said you'd like to see them sometime. I recommend "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse", btw.
Now if I'm wrong, and I didn't come back, take the money and use it any way you want. Think of it as my thank you for the con and all you did for me. But if I did come back, I came back looking for you. Hopefully, I found you. And, hopefully, you'll still want to have me around like we talked about.
Anyway, I'm sorry I can't bring this to you in person. Hopefully, in a way, I did. And most of all, I hope I'm wrong about my visions. I really looked forward to going out to you and going to college like we talked about.
PS : If I did come back, I hope it's a dog. I want to see those woods you talked about, and you can't really walk a cat or a ferret.
By the time James finished the letter, his knees buckled and he sat on the bed in disbelief. The puppy cautiously walked over to James's foot. The puppy whimpered softly, and James looked down to it. James shook his head, and picked up the pup. "Sparky?" The puppy's eyes lit up, and he squirmed a little in anticipation. "I'm not sure I believe this." The puppy winked, and James laid on the bed with his pup for hours. The puppy later fetched the book for James, and nosed it into his lap. James read while the dog laid in his lap, napping.
James took the dog to the vet the next day, who checked it out completely. "He seems to be healthy." the vet said. "Tell me again where you got him?"
"He found me." James said.
"Lucky dog!" the vet said, stroking Sparky behind the ears. "Beyond needing some food and some water, I'd say he's a healthy four month old pup. I can start his shots if you'd like." James nodded. The vet turned away to get his supplies. "We'll have to wait a while if you want to get him fixed." Sparky's eyes shot wide open, and James looked at his pup and shook his head quietly while mouthing 'no'. "But getting his shots now will make it easier."
"We'll talk about getting him fixed later." James said. "I also need to get him his license too?"
"Certainly!" the vet said. "we’ll get that started today too. Ok, just hold him down and we'll get this over with." Sparky stood perfectly still with minimal effort. "He's certainly a good dog for a stray!" James smiled, and winked to Sparky.
On their year anniversary, James brought Sparky into a mega-pet store. "Ok Sparky. Which one do you like?"
"You do know dogs are colorblind, don't you?" the saleswoman asked.
"Well, yeah." James said. "But since he's going to wear it, I figured he can choose it." The woman shrugged. Sparky sat, and looked intently at the two collars James held in front of him. Finally nosing the blue nylon collar over the green one. "Ok! We'll get all blue then!"
The woman looked at the dog, then the owner. "I can't believe you let him choose."
James looked to Sparky, who's muzzle crimped up to a slight smile. "You've gotta know Sparky." He knelt down next to his dog. "If you know what he's been through, you'd know why I spoil him." The saleswoman shrugged, and went off to help another customer. James roughed Sparky's ears around. "Ok, so a harness, brush, day pack, muzzle, new dishes, a bag of food, a few squeaky toys and a few leashes, right?" Sparky nodded, panting. "Sounds good! We'll hit that trail after we drop this stuff at the house!" Sparky licked James face and panted happily. James laughed, and Sparky followed at James side as they went to go look at dog dishes.
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Being a work of fiction, none of the characters herin
are based on a real person (Save the narrator and one other person...)
And similarity to any person alive, dead, undead or unalive is coincidental,
totally. However, if you see yourself or someone you know in a character
be honored. You've been immortalised.