Eric slammed his hand on the end table, effectively cutting through the conversation of the twenty people who were gathered in his living room. The crack was enough to get every one’s attention as he tried to gain the words that needed to be spoken today.
“We are holding this emergency meeting of the shifter pack of Reno because we have learned today that three of our members have disappeared. Their families have called me to inform this group that Sandy, Ruff, and Andy have been missing now for 48 hours.”
There was a long silence as the members looked down at the floor and at each other. They had never lost this many members in one go.
“We have contacted the packs in Portland and Seattle. They are missing members also.”
This brought up the attention of all the members.
Eric continued, “In some of the smaller communities, the entire shifter-pack has been completely decimated.”
“There is only one person who could be involved.”
A whisper went through the group, “the dog-catcher.”
No one had to be reminded that there was a magical creature called the dog-catcher in the world. Thankfully there was only one, but it had been in their records for century. Every where the dog-catcher went, shifter dogs were disappear. He only targeted the shifter dog community, which was on of the smallest communities in the shifter world.
Their records didn’t record why they were targeted or even what happened to them when they were caught by the dog-catcher. They only knew that this magical creature kept their numbers small.
Some of the members of the room panted from the sheer scariness of the thought that they were being targeted. A few like Anna where jumping up and down with excitement.
“Does this mean we are going to hunt him,” her face red and her hands reaching for the stungun she kept on her belt. Only Anna was interested in fighting. She wore black clothes, took karate, and had the energy of ten dogs. If Eric hadn’t seen her shift into a dog a few times, he would have thought that she was a were-wolf.
Anna’s dog coat was cream color with black and brown spots mixed into long fur. When she was a dog, she danced and ran on air almost. Many of the younger males would follow her anywhere. But today he needed to shut her down quick.
They didn’t need to lose the prime stock of their little dog pack.
“No,” Eric said seriously “We need to leave. Pack up your bags, take your families, and leave until the danger is past.”
Anna looked at each of the pack members and then blurted out, “If you are going to leave, I call you cowards now. We need to take a stand. We need to take out the dog-catcher. He must pay for the loss of our members.”
“Leave,” Eric said. “We don’t need this.”
Anna walked out the door with a few of the younger males. It wouldn’t hurt their pack, yet. Others like Mary and Jimmy helped organize where the whys and wherefores of the pack’s escape.
A few days later they were in a small hotel outside of Sacramento. Eric felt a little uneasy about being in a different territory. If they were quiet and didn’t run too much, maybe the other pack wouldn’t find them. They were only going to be their a few days until the dog-catcher left.
The children were in the swimming pool, screaming and playing. Eric was in his room watching the TV for some news when he heard a firm knock on his door. He had told the other pack members that he needed some time alone. Who would be at the door? Whoever it was knocked on the door again.
“I’m coming. I’m coming,” said Eric. He wasn’t scared. They had dodged the boogie-man. Soon they would be home and everything would be all right except Anna would get what was coming to her.
Eric opened the door. A small man with dark brown-eyes and olive skin looked at him. “Nice doggie,” he said.
Eric blinked at him. Why would this man say nice doggie?
“Nice doggie,” the man said again. He put his hand on Eric’s head. “Nice doggie.”
Eric changed more quickly than he had every changed into his dog form. He was too surprised to scream, too surprised to guess that the dog-catcher was in front of him.
“You’ll make someone a nice dog,” the dog-catcher said. He loaded up Eric into a metal case and headed to the next room.
“Too bad you didn’t stay in Reno,” he murmured. “You might have been safe.”