(An alternative universe original story)

by Miss Weasel

It's unusually bright and sunny on this blustery April morning. A wonderful surprise from the seemingly constant rain washing down on my beloved England. I guess I have always loved the water no matter what form it takes. Living so near to the ocean for so many years has made me feel rejuvenated more times than I can remember. Sitting at the table, with my usual breakfast of tea and toast with marmalade, I look down at my dog, Thumper eyeing my last bit of toast. With a pat on her head, she takes the bread from my hand and devours it in one swift gulp. I would normally read or go for a ride on my trusty bicycle, but instead, I opt for a walk on the beach. So with a call to Thumper, I grab my coat and hat as we head out the door.

The wind has picked up considerably but no matter, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Thumper and I carefully maneuver our way down the narrow path, until with a crunch, we set foot on the shingle beach. Despite an ominous-looking cloud swiftly moving towards us, it is a picture perfect day. The sun shines and ripples across the ocean like the scales of a fish. Thumper runs ahead of me barking frantically at something in the rocks." What's the matter now girl?" I ask, while coming closer to investigate. She is digging between the rocks trying to dislodge what looks like a lump of seaweed." Alright, let's have a look." I pick up a piece of driftwood and lift out the dark green mass. I notice a slight glimmer of an object inside a crevice in the rocks. I take my stick and with a well placed turn, free the object. To my amazement, it lands on the rocks vertically and begins to spin rapidly. I hear an almost inaudible high-pitched sound emanating from it. Thumper starts to whine and howl. Suddenly, it slows and stops dead, landing flat. I look at my dog who is now sitting in a very still peculiar sphinx-like pose. The sun as gone in and I notice that the birds have stopped singing. I slowly move towards the object. Looking down at a tarnished gold piece that with all intent and purpose, appears to be a coin. I reach down, hesitating for a moment wondering if picking it up is such a good idea. I swallow and with a clean sweep, grasp this strange treasure. An odd feeling immediately waves over me. A feeling that I've never had before that is very hard to describe. I shake my head to clear my thoughts and open my hand and look at a sea worn coin pressed into the
middle of my palm. I pick it up and on the, I suppose heads side, is the engraved image of a dogs' head. Flipping it over to the tails side, is a Clipper ship. I try to read a date on the coin to no avail. The constant beat of salty tide has not helped preserve it. 'What an unusual coin', I say to myself. My attention moves to Thumper, who is as still as a statue. I call to her and she looks up at me wagging her tail as a few drops of rain land on my cheek. English weather can be very unpredictable at times. " Come on girl, we'd better head back." I stuff the coin in my pocket and rush of the beach. We barely make it home before a huge downpour pellets the little village.

I give my coat and hat a shake out side the door while Thumper shakes her coat as well. If it were a coat shaking contest, I have no doubt my faithful friend would have won. Inside the warmth of my home, I reach in my pocket to retrieve the coin. I go to my desk and rummage in the drawer for my magnifying glass. Even at this close scrutiny, the coin does not give up it's secrets. It is a very strange piece of currency, indeed, I never seen anything like it anywhere. Not in all the books I own have I ever come across anything so unique. I put the coin in my vest pocket. Perhaps if I have time, I'll stop by the book shop and look for some books an rare coins. I Think I'll be hard pressed to find a coin as rare as this one though. The rain is starting to let up. These sudden storms never last very
long but that is what England is famous for, among other things. I pull out my watch and see that it is nearly noon. I rise from my seat, putting my watch back in my pocket looking at Thumper staring at me very intensely. "What's wrong, girl? You've been acting strangely since we left the beach". "I think I'll head down to the tea room for a bite of lunch." I give her a quick scratch on her ear and move to the closet for a dry coat. " Have a safe trip and hurry back." I stop, startled. I turn slowly to see where the voice came from. My eyes scan the room but no one is there except Thumper looking up at me. I take a deep breath and pulling on my coat. I must be hearing things.

Avoiding the puddles the best I can, I walk by the shops for so familiar to me like my own name. " Hey Pete" , I hear behind me. I turn and see a neighbor lady walking her dog. " Hello Mr. Cushing, I hope you're doing well today." " Yes, very well, thank you." She tries to continue along but her little poodle has stopped in her tracks and is staring at me. " Come along, Fluffy." I smile at her and continue down the street. "Bye, sir", I hear in a meek voice. I look up to say goodbye, but my neighbor is chatting with someone else and couldn't have said it. Her little dog with its back to me, turns her head around to look my way. If I haven't been in so many horror films, I would wonder if I was in one right now. I think maybe I am hungrier than I thought. The unpredictable weather has changed once again and it is now much warmer. The doors and windows of the shops are opening up to let in this spring time zephyr. "That's very odd," what on earth is wrong with all of you?" "Hello there, something wrong," I say to the pet shop owner who has steeped out to the sidewalk scratching his head. " Well, I'm not sure, sir," all of my dogs have stopped barking and are sitting in an peculiar way," Come in for a minute and see it." We walk into the store and sure enough, just the dogs are sitting in the same sphinx-like pose as Thumper was on the beach. "I don't know what is wrong with them," Oh dear, I hope they're not sick." "Not knowing what to say about such a situation, I tried to reassure the man. "They look very well cared for, maybe they are trying to impress the cats." The telephone rings and the proprietor excuses himself to answer it.

I decide to look around a bit longer at this phenomenon of multiple dog posing. If I didn't know better, I would swear that every brown eye is watching my very move. As an actor, I've trained myself to *feel* eyes watching me. I turn and see all the dogs facing my way, some standing, others still in the same weird pose. This time I am unnerved by the attention seemingly bestowed on me. "I fancy, it's Cushing." " Peter Cushing here in this store to see all of us." I look and see no one in the store but myself. The owner has since moved into his parlor to talk on the phone. 'Where did the voice come from, then?' " From us." I look around but all I see are cats.....and dogs. " You know, I've always been a big fan of yours." I've always wanted to meet.." " Blimey, give the man a breather Gurtrude." I see a Collie and a Bull Dog before me. I must be going batty, I thought they were talking to me. "We are talking to you, Peter." I turn and see a blood hound in a corner cage. I walk over to it absolutely stunned. " We are not talking that is, you can't see our lips move but your are reading our thoughts." ' I don't believe this, it's impossible.' "Believe it Herr Baron. You can hear our thoughts and we can here yours," I hear in a Scottish Brogue, I turn and see a Scottish Terrier. " You were expecting a Dalmatian, sir." All of the sudden, a kind of half howl, half almost human laughter peals in spots around the shop. " Kind of brings The Silent Scream to full circle wouldn't you say?" The laughter is sounding more like howl. I have to get out of this store this instant. I walk swiftly trying not to run. I hear the owner " Sorry you have to leave sir, stop by when you have some more time." " Good day ,Peter, you must call again old boy." I shut the door behind me, catching my breath at the shock of what I just witnessed. I look at the shop window and see a Spaniel and a puppy sitting very still looking at me.

I get away from the shop as quickly as I can. I decide to forgo lunch and to return home instead. I hear several different types of barks behind me. Not really wanting to see the origin of the barks, I keep moving for home. They are getting closer and suddenly, without warning, are right behind me. I turn to see about ten dogs all sitting in what I will refer to as the pose, looking straight at me. A few passersby comment about at the dogs' but luckily, the streets are not filled with many pedestrians. I don't know if I should walk or run away from the dogs. "You are sweet and kind to animals. It is only fitting that you are the holder of the Canine Coin." 'The Canine Coin? Do you mean the coin I found on the beach this morning?" "That's right, sir. Only you know the secret of canines." 'But I don't know any secrets, and I don't want to know them. I want this to go away.'" There is only one way for it to go away, but we don't know that secret. Only a few dogs know how to break the spell." ' If the spell is broken, will I no longer hear your voices?' " That's right, sir. But, you have to find out how." The dogs are closing in on me. "Some of us like having a human that really understands our true feelings." "You Mr. Cushing, are a perfect choice." I am backed up against a stone wall surrounded by the dogs. ' Please, won't you let me by, I have to get home.' The dogs stare at me and in unison, sit down in the pose. I seize the opportunity to escape and this
time, I am running home.

I finally get to my door. As I fumble for the keys, I hear a crunching noise in the gravel of something walking towards me. I turn and see five dogs, standing in a perfect line, a crude barrier to prevent me from leaving my home anymore today. I unlock the door and slam it behind me. I look down with restrained fear as I see my Thumper sitting in the pose. I have never been afraid of Thumper before but after today, I will never look at any dog the same. She watches me take off my coat. I can't hear Thumper speaking to me, maybe it was temporary. " I'm sorry Peter, but it's not temporary." 'Oh no.' " I was waiting to see how you would react to me but I see that you have made some of my relations acquaintances." I slump down in my chair, wondering if I will live out the rest of my days hearing dog conversations. " No Peter, you won't. I know the secret of the Canine Coin. I know how the spell can be broken." I sit up straighter at this glimmer of hope " It's very simple , all you have to do is to throw the coin back from whence it came." 'You mean back into the sea?' "That's right. But there's a caught. If you try to send the coin back, the weather will become fierce and the dogs who prefer a human that can read their thoughts will try to stop you from fulfilling this task." ' But how can I stop them?' "Your dog whistle. The noise is unbearable to us dogs and it will slow them down long enough for you to make it to the beach." I jump up and start to look for the whistle. ' I hope I still have it, what if I can't find it. The dogs won't let me leave to buy another.' It's in the bottom drawer of the cabinet underneath a pile of papers." I look and sure enough, I find it right where she said it would be. ' But how did you know?' "I watched Mazie put it away one day." ' I smile and shake my head.'

I put on gloves, a hat and the thickest coat I own. I need all the protection I can get against possible dog bites and tempest style weather. I look at the little gold-plated dog whistle and it doesn't seem like very much protection. "Don't worry, it will protect you from the unscrupulous dogs. Other dogs, who don't want human ears to hear them will simply let you pass. 'Unscrupulous dogs?' " Our world are not so different. There are good and bad people and good and bad dogs also." 'I thought they're were no bad dogs'? " Well, she's an optimist." I look out the window. The weather is sunny and clear but I see a few dogs sitting in front of my house.' You said the weather will change, but it's a beautiful sunny day.' " It will all change as soon as you open the door." ' I look at Thumper, still in entirely not believing this whole day. ' Well I guess this is it' " I know you can do it. Your a good man, and I have this one chance to tell you, I love you and I will always be your best friend no matter what happens." I reach down and hug her to my side. ' Thank you for helping me, I feel the same for you too.

I walk towards the door, turning once more to look at Thumper. " Good luck, Peter. I know you can do it. I slowly open the door. The wind is blowing like a hurricane, rain is pelting the ground and thunder is crashing. I try to see in front of me when I caught sight of three vicious looking dogs determined to stop me. I take my whistle and blow. The dogs stop growling and sit on the ground with their paws over their ears. I run as fast as I can, but not fast enough. Another dog lunges towards me. I try to blow the whistle but it is knocked out of my hand. Panic stricken, I run my hands over the ground to search for the whistle. I am almost blinded by the whipping wind and rain. I feel something pulling at my coat. I look around to see the neighbor lady's little white poodle with my whistle in her mouth. I hold out my hand, not knowing what to expect. The little dog promptly puts the whistle into my hand. " Get up sir and run for your life." I jump up and run like a rabbit blowing the whistle until I reached the edge of the sea. I hear growls behind me and see the three unscrupulous dogs." Your whistle can't harm us anymore, Cushing. You trapped and will do our bidding." The dogs jump towards me. 'No' I cried and with ever bit of strength I could muster, I throw the coin back into the sea.

I am curled into a ball with my hands over my head ready for the dogs to pounce but it never comes. I open my eyes to see a few beach combers looking at me like I'm the most curious thing they ever seen. " Are you alright sir?" "What" is the only response I can offer. " Mr. Cushing are you alright." We saw you double over and thought something was wrong. " Oh, I'm fine. Too many cups of tea and not enough scones to go with them perhaps." " Well if your sure you're alright." Yes, I'm feeling much better now." I bid the concerned beach walkers goodbye and run home.

I open the door and look for Thumper. She is sitting by my chair waiting on me. I walk over to her and think' Hello Thumper, I'm back' I hear no reply. I try it aloud this time. I hear nothing but silence. I give out a deep breath before sliding into my chair. Thumper reaches up and puts her paw on my knee. I reach down scratching her ears, her most favorite thing. It is an humble thank you to offer, but one she has earned.

-The End-

© 2000 Miss Weasel