Broken Chain- Coming Soon
By JoeCundiff on in Children's Stories with 3 Comments
Preliminary reviews of my next release, Broken Chain, indicate a broader appeal.
At present I’m working on what will hopefully be my next release. Though my target audience is an older children’s book, a sampling of friends of all ages have asked for more after reading the first few chapters. So perhaps you’ll like it too. Check out Chapter One below and let me know what you think.
By Joe Cundiff
A damp haze lingered in the darkness and the night was eerily quiet. The autumn mountain air was brisk and a swirl of wind brushed up Biggs thick black and brown fur as he sat atop his house. Beneath was a warm bed of hay, but even on the coldest nights he would lay on the hard flat roof. It was not a deliberate attempt to defy the elements. The guard dog wanted to be out in the open and feel everything that moved in the night. He wanted his presence to be known. Dense drifting fog made a dark night darker and the silence was consuming. Biggs raised his snout into the air and his ears pointed up and forward. He could not yet smell it or hear it, but his keen senses could not be mistaken. Trouble was drawing near. He could feel it.
Biggs waited knowingly for the unknown. It was out there and it was coming. They topped the distant ridge and without warning the silence was broken by the high pitched howling of a pack of bloodhounds. From his perch Biggs listened with disdain to the bellowing brood traipse through the night. The villains were invading his master’s land and it was not the first time. The trespass fueled his fury, but it was not the crime he sought to punish.
The un-rhythmic bawl of hounds in pursuit curled Biggs’ tough skin and was nothing more than painful yelping to his radar-like ears. To the well-bred Shepherd, coon dogs were nothing more than well-fed scoundrels let loose at night to howl and curse the balance of nature’s hours of rest. Master did not like the hound’s masters because of their disregard and disrespect for anything other than a good time, so Biggs did not like the hounds. Perhaps all coon hunters and hounds were not this way, but Biggs was only concerned with the ones on his turf. If the invasion of the night’s serenity were not enough, they had crossed his boundary one time too many.
Master was always proud when Biggs kept them away, but he was prouder still to have another collar to hang in the barn. Though always outnumbered, Biggs’ speed and cunning were never outmatched and he was seldom challenged. His fearless approach was fast and furious and his confident rage evoked fear. The first sight of a rampaging Biggs’ white fangs blazing through the darkness, and the sudden realization of becoming the hunted, would send the startled pack of hounds squalling in the opposite direction, all the while aborting their nighttime mission only to shriek back in shameful defeat.
Once again Biggs honed in on the clamor of barking and could tell there were five hounds in the pack, three Blueticks and two Redbones. They were getting closer and Biggs rose to his feet and began an angry prance. The chain clipped to his collar dangled to the ground and rattled against the house. Biggs had heard this group before but they had only passed on the distant edge of the farm, well beyond his range. This time it was different. The pack was heading straight toward him, and they were not trailing the usual pair of helpless raccoons. If so, they would have treed the masked bandits already. This chase was different and the pack had clearly broken scent. This time they were in pursuit of much bigger game. Biggs had no doubt. They were chasing his friend Bear.
The wrath of Biggs’ rage burned through the thick fog and his fury began to boil. He jumped down off the house, prancing angrily in a swooping semi-circle. The heavy chain rolled through the dirt and the clamor of metal links was a familiar melody to all the nearby animals already taking cover. The chain was an extension of his being and though it was meant to constrain him, he seemed to control its every dip and sway as if it were a kite’s tail waving in the wind. The chain only appeared to contain him. He could break free at will and had proven as much many times before. The chain could be broken.
The scent of Bear was strong and Biggs’ pace turned frantic. His volcanic rage was primed to erupt on the pack that was chasing his mysterious and mystical friend. He never understood why their masters sought the blood of a bear and for that he loathed them even more. In truth, the hounds likely ventured off on their own reckless journey while the stumbling ‘coon’ hunters likely had no interest in the bear. Regardless, Biggs had no time to sort through intent. Bear needed his help.
Biggs and Bear had never before spoken, but their spirits had long ago washed together by the waterfall of time. Old souls from the cellar of history, and each knew the other well. Bear had passed often through the farm in the still darkness of the early morning, in the hours when it was too late to still be up and too early to rise, yet they were there and the bond shared was unmistakable. Biggs often wondered where Bear came from and where he might be going, but it never seemed appropriate to ask. In stark contrast to his massive size and power, Bear had a peaceful demeanor. Oddly, Bear reminded Biggs of Master.
Biggs could find no pattern to Bear’s travels and his visits were sporadic and seemingly random. On those rare occasions when Bear would pass nearby, Biggs never rose, for there was no intrusion. In silence much was shared and the mutual admiration was genuine. The two would merely exchange a long glance and a nod of knowing, as if wanting to be friends but not sure how, or if it even made sense to try. So they remained, like two cargo ships slowly passing in the night, separate worlds joined only for the moment. Bear’s footprints traversed a path not his own, but rather forged by the generations before him. The land belonged more to bear than it did Master, and Biggs knew it.
A warrior hunts in silence, a truth known to even an untrained bird dog. Yet, generations of hounds have taught their whelps to hunt with volume, and the rowdy brood chasing Bear kept getting louder and louder. Warriors they were not. At least from Biggs’ point of view. Scoundrels perhaps, or at least that’s all that he could think of them. Biggs’ frantic prance turned to an aggressive gait and he moved fluidly within the confines of the chain’s length. Then with one fluid motion he ran straight back across the center of the circle, the chain dropped and rolled until he neared the farthest end when the chain lifted almost taut. Biggs knew exactly where to turn and with a furious burst he spun abruptly and raged in the opposite direction. The links still in the air before being whipped the other way. Two feet from the edge Biggs’ powerful legs surged his body airborne with great force. Biggs lowered his head and thrust his shoulders forward at the precise moment when the iron links grabbed his collar. Once more the clip snapped and pieces of metal spiraled through the air. The broken chain fell to the ground.
The jolt flipped Biggs sideways and he landed hard on his face and shoulder. It happened almost every time he broke free, but Biggs hit the ground much harder this time. He tumbled with the momentum, found his footing, and then raced off into the night. Biggs broke free only in the line of duty. He never desired to leave his post for freedom or to roam about. Biggs’ purpose was clear and he was proud to protect his Master’s domain. This time it was something more. He was racing to help a friend.