Balto: Faith of the Wolf

Book 1: The Plague

Chapter 1: Third Door to the Left.

Balto was so deep in the pit of sleep that he didn't hear Jenna, who had been franticly yelling his name for the past few minutes. She ran inside the trawler to the den and skidded to a halt three feet in front of her mate. Her urgency turned into panic.

"Wake up!"

Balto jumped under his blanket and sat up throwing it off. He looked around until his vision cleared onto Jenna. He yawned and stretched.

"Good morning, beautiful," he said with a smile.

Jenna gave no emotion except for a deep fear hidden behind her eyes.

"What's the matter," Balto asked.

"It's Rosie's father," she said seriously.

"What happened," Balto asked concerned.

"I don't know; but all I can tell is that he's very ill." She paused to think then continued. "It started last night as just a headache. Now , he's so sore and weak, he couldn't even get out of bed on his own, and by now has coughed so much that his throat is bleeding. One minute he has a burning fever and the next, he can't get warm." she was frantic.

Balto stood up. "How's the rest of the family," he asked worried for their safety.

"They're fine, but I'm sure how much longer Rosie's father can hold on."

Balto flattened his ears. "Have you taken him to the doctor?"

Jenna was slightly offended by the question and rolled her eyes. "Of course we took him to the doctor; he's there now." Jenna stood and turned looking back over her shoulder.

"Come on," she ordered.

Balto stood and Jenna began a full out sprint down the deck and over the side of the trawler. Balto caught up to Jenna on the ground and came shoulder to shoulder with her. The pair kept the same pace until they were at the front door to the hospital. They walked through the open door and saw Rosy waiting in the main room with her head down and her legs crossed. She heard the clicks of claws on the floor and looked up; tears glistened in the light from her eyes down under her chin.

"We can't go inside," she said to the pair of dogs.

Jenna padded over and pushed her head under Rosie's arm. Rosy petted her dog on the head and hugged her around the neck.

"Oh, Jenna; I'm so scared," she said wiping the tears from her eyes.

Jenna licked away one of the tears that escaped and rolled down Rosie's right cheek. Rosy sniffed. Balto padded up behind Jenna and sat looking in the direction that Rosie's father's scent was coming from. He darted his eyes at the source then back at Rosy. Balto stood up and gave Jenna the 'I'll be right back' look. Jenna turned to him and mouthed 'what are you doing?' Balto jerked his head down the hallway and turned to go. He would sneak over to the door and listen; maybe even get a look at Mr. Calaway. He strolled down the hall way and paused at the third door to the left. He pushed his ear flat to the door and held his breath for the best chance of hearing through the thick wood.

"…never seen anything like this before in my life," a young woman was saying.

"Try giving him a vaccine for the Measles; the sores on his face neck and chest need to be cleaned and bandaged…" This was an elderly sounding man.

"Sores," Balto muttered to himself, "Jenna said nothing about…" He turned and walked out the main door. Jenna gave him a funny look, but had nothing to say.

Balto rounded the corner outside finding, to his delight, that the room Mr. Calaway had a window that wasn't obstructed by curtains. Balto placed his forepaws onto the windowsill and looked inside. Mr. Calaway was unconscious; the nurse must have left shortly after Balto leaving just an elderly doctor and Mrs. Calaway in the room. Balto gazed upon Rosie's father and took notice to the pale white skin, the shaking under the covers, the coughing, and more sores on his face that he could count. On top of it all, a few had blood running slowly out. The doctor had busied himself with trying to clean them out with gauze. The window was pretty well sealed so little sound came through, but when Mr. Calaway began foaming at the mouth and thrashing about violently, a muffled "…NURSE!" made it through faintly.

The doctor placed his ear to Mr. Calaway's chest. His heart was sputtering out and he was having trouble breathing. The doctor sent the shocked Mrs. Calaway out of the room and threw the cover off of Mr. Calaway's chest and thrusted down with both hands, one covering the other. He pushed forcefully seven times then placed a low-tech breathing agent over the patient's mouth. The nurse busted through the door.

"Get his pulse!"
The nurse seized Mr. Calaway's wrist with one hand and placed her middle and index fingers on the veins below his palm. "No pulse doctor."

The doctor continued the same procedure this time with a determined, "Come on damn it!"

"Still no pulse," the female nurse pleaded.

The doctor did the procedure once more then looked over to the nurse who shook her head. The doctor removed his hands and took his glasses from his face rubbing his fingers over his closed eyes. The nurse was sobbing to herself.

"Time of death, 8:30 A.M," he said crossing himself, and then placed the cover Mr. Calaway's head. He turned and walked out the door shutting it behind him.

Balto couldn't see, but he could imagine Mrs. Calaway breaking down into tears and falling to her knees. Balto closed his eyes and dropped his head, pushed off the sill, and turned to walk back inside the hospital. Rosy had left to use the bathroom and Jenna was alone pacing nervously back and forth. Balto walked through the door and caught Jenna's eye with his head low.

"How is he," she asked worried. Balto raised his head to her voice and gave no answer but dropped his head again. "No." Jenna hung her head and began weeping.

Rosy came out of the bathroom down another hallway and sat down. Jenna picked up her head and looked over to Balto. Balto gave Jenna the look to say, 'don't tell her, not yet,' and nuzzled Rosy under the cheek.

The doctor walked into his office and sat down heavily in his chair. That was the fastest viral fatality he'd ever seen; and above all, it had no name, no history, no origin. He dropped his head and buried his face into his hands and let out a stressful exhale. He suddenly felt extremely tired and slightly achy. He called his replacement from down the hall; relieving himself for the day and walked out to his car, stumbling as he went. His shaking hands caused him to fumble his key to the ground and he cursed. He picked it up and engaged the engine, and then five minutes later he was home. He stumbled out of his car and into his house where his wife and two children helped him to bed.