1

Why were there so many stray dogs in my town? And why did they always choose me to chase? Did they wait quietly in the woods, watching people go by? Then did they whisper to each other, "See that blond kid? That's Kyo Suzuki- let's go get him!"

I ran as fast as I could. But it's so hard to run when you're carrying a guitar case. It kept banging against my leg. And I kept slipping in the snow.

The dogs were catching up. They were howling and barking, trying to scare me to death. Well, it's working, guys! I thought. I'm scared. I'm pretty scared! Dogs are supposed to sense when you're afraid of them. But I'm not usually afraid of dogs. In fact, I really like dogs. I'm only afraid of dogs when there's a pack of them, running furiously at me, drooling hungrily, eager to tear me to tiny shreds. Like now.

Scrambling over the snow, I nearly toppled into a drift up to my knees. I glanced back. The dogs were gaining on me. It isn't fair! I thought bitterly. They have four legs, and I only have two!

The big black dog with the evil black eyes was leading the pack, as usual. He had his lips pulled back in an angry snarl. He was close enough so that I could see his sharp, pointy teeth. "Go home! Go home! Bad dogs! Go home!" Why was I yelling at them? They didn't even have homes! "Go home! Go home!"

My boots slipped in the snow, and the weight of my guitar case nearly pulled me over. Somehow I staggered forward, caught my balance, and kept moving. My heart was pounding like crazy. And I felt as if I were burning up, even though it was about 5 degrees. I squinted against the bright glare of the snow. I struggled to run faster, but my leg muscles were starting to cramp. I don't stand a chance! I realized. "Ow!" The heavy guitar case bounced against my side. I glanced back. The dogs were leaping excitedly, making wide criss-crosses across the yards, howling and yelling, as they scrambled after me. Moving closer. And closer. "Go home! Bad dogs! Bad! Go home!" Why me?

I'm a nice guy. Really. Ask anybody. They'll tell you- Kyo Suzuki is the nicest twelve-year-old kid, here in china town! So why did they always chase me? The last time, I dived into a parked car and shut the door just as they pounced. But today, the dogs were too close. And the cars along the street were all snow-covered. By the time I got a car door open, the dogs would be having me for dessert!

I was only half a block from Rei's house. I could see it on the corner across the street. It was my only chance. If I could get to Rei's house, I could- "NOOOOOOOOO!"

I slipped on a small rock, hidden under the snow. The guitar case flew from my hand and hit the snow with a soft thud. I was down. Face down in the snow. "They've got me this time," I moaned. "They've got me."