Chapter 3 Departures

Dingo kicked and rolled violently in his sleep giving off troubled moans.

"Who's there," Dingo called frightened.

"Don't be afraid, young Dingo. I wish to speak to you." This strange voice was echoing into his ears and circled through his head. But where did it come from? He tried desperately to find the source, but in vain.

"How do you know my name," Dingo finally asked.

"All of these questions shall be answered when the time is right. For now all I can tell you is…"

Dingo pitched over on his side and felt something poke into his side. He slowly blinked his eyes and found that the dog he'd bunked down with was now standing over him.

"Keep it down would you? You talk so loud when you sleep," this dog whispered.

"Sorry," Dingo replied sheepishly. His roommate turned and walked back to his sleeping place and lay down.

Dingo lay his head back down and shut his eyes, immediately being pulled back down into the abyss of sleep.

- Two hours before the sun rose, Balto arrived at the post office with two sleds in tow, one behind the other fastened together by a short length of rope. On the first sled lay two sets of harnesses, both of them for five dogs. Balto stopped and spit the rope out of his mouth and relieved the guard who sat under a dim yellow light cast off from a streetlamp with the mess pile behind him. Balto looked over the pile of food and water finding it quite a bit smaller than he'd anticipated. None the less, he sent the guard to fetch the others. The guard nodded and turned to go, but was stopped again by Balto.

"I never got your name," he said with a smile.

The young black husky turned back, "My name is Dakota."

He turned and padded off into the darkness, leaving Balto alone with the mess pile. He looked it over carefully, taking mental notes. Ten minutes later, the young Dakota returned with the other nine dogs, which were surprisingly bright eyed for this hour. Balto gave them a short briefing and then had the food sorted out into groups and the water was placed off to the side. After the food was sorted, Balto helped load it onto the two sleds that were now no longer bound together by rope. He wanted numbers of how much of each item they had, so he stationed a dog to count them up as they were loaded; Balto would take this information and store it away for later. The counter padded over to the sacks of dried kibbles and counted them up.

"Three ten pound sacks of kibbles," he called then seized a bag in his jaws and assembly lined it to the sleds where another two dogs laid them out on the wood. The same process would be used for the other items as well.

"One twenty pound sack of jerky." He called two dogs over and they picked it up and carried it to the sled.

"Two boxes of frozen bacon." Both were passed down to the sleds.

"Eight and one-half bags of mixed freeze-dried fruits and such." He paused and went over to the water containers and took a guess. "About five gallons of fresh water."

Balto stored away the information he'd just received and began figuring rations that would last the five day trip. By the time the food was all loaded and the harnesses attached to the sleds, the sun was just peeking over the horizon. Five dogs harnessed into each sled and Balto sat in the lead position of one team while Dakota led the other. They broke out the sleds and began the walk out of Nome. When they arrived at the tree line, they stopped and took a last look at their home. Steele and his fourteen followers sat in a line to see Balto and the others off.

Balto called out, "Good luck! If you all need help, you know where we'll be."

He turned to go but was stopped by, "Wait!"

Balto turned and saw Dingo running up to him. Balto unharnessed and met his son half way. They nuzzled and separated.

"I wish you the best," Balto said, then turned and padded back to the sled calling over his shoulder, "I love you son."

Dingo, who'd made it back to his group called out in response to his father. Balto snaked back into his harness and the two teams disappeared into the trees. Steele and the other fourteen dogs dispersed in their own direction, looking for any resources left in this ghost town.

END BOOK ONE

A/N

Kinda ironic to be writing a story about a plague then get sick yourself isn't it? I know this is a short chapter and this is much too short to really be a book, but whatever. Book two will be coming out today as well so keep an eye open.