Summary: The Read family are sitting through a terrible hurricane, and they all wonder if the end is near. Despite the damage in the town, they are able to find hope in some displaced critters they find in the backyard. Will they keep them as pets?
Can also be found here.
Elwood City was a wasteland. A powerful hurricane had made it far enough on shore to damage buildings with wind, rain, and waves of powerful storms. Some buildings appeared to be destroyed, and many homes were covered with tree parts that came down in the wind. People were terrified, and the Read home was no different.
“Mom, when do you think the power will come back on? I wanna watch Mary Moo Cow,” DW whimpered, snuggling next to her mother on the couch. Jane wrapped her arm around her but said nothing. “Momma, I asked you a question,” DW said, poking her mother’s arm.
Jane sighed, “I don’t know, DW. We could get power back tomorrow, but I think it might be as long as two weeks.” DW exclaimed, but Jane just shook her head, “I know it’s going to be difficult, but we have enough food and water for a week or so, and I’m sure someone will donate those sorts of things.”
“We only have enough food and water for a week?” Arthur asked, looking up from the comic book he was reading on the floor.
Jane nodded, a look of shame on her face, “Your father and I didn’t think it would be like this. We’ve had scares with hurricanes before, but since most of them hit the Carolinas or the Gulf Coast, we didn’t expect much from this one either. We were wrong, but we won’t suffer.”
“It’s the apocalypse! We’re all going to die!” DW cried.
“You can stop that kind of talk right now, Dora Winifred,” David said firmly, entering the room with a kettle of soup. “Now, we can ration our food. We’ll only each a nice lunch or brunch each day, and that should help us have food for longer. Other families need what’s being donated far more than we do. We can make do with what we have.”
Arthur was worried though. He wasn’t hysterical like DW or carefree like baby Kate, but he was objective like his father. They could get through this trying time, he knew, but he wondered what the next few weeks would be like. The city’s water wasn’t working because the treatment plants were damaged, so people would have to drink bottled water. Arthur didn’t mind that. But the food issue was a problem. He wondered how the community garden was doing, but he couldn’t call anyone to find out. The phones weren’t working. And the streets were too messy to travel alone. Even his parents refused to go out.
Because of the situation, the Read’s were essentially trapped in their own home. Trees littered the street, keeping them from driving, but walking was definitely too dangerous. They would have to make do inside their own home, and after a few days, they thought they’d be fine. But DW was bored and restless, as was Arthur. On Day Four, the two were allowed into the backyard after David inspected it for power lines or other dangers. They couldn’t leave the yard, but being outside was enough.
“Arthur, have you ever seen something like this before?” DW asked. Arthur shook her head. DW nodded, “Yeah, me neither. I’m still scared. I know we have enough food, but look at this. What kind of tree is this? Where did it even come from? And look at that fast food wrapper. The closest one of those is like a billion miles from here!” DW exclaimed.
“There’s one on the other side of town, DW. Mom just doesn’t go there because they always mess up our order,” Arthur said. He couldn’t help but grin at his naive sister, but he noticed the tree parts from trees in other parts of the city. They couldn’t see much in the rest of the neighborhood because of how many trees were down. The quiet of a powerless world was interrupted by chainsaw noise. The town was in a huge mess, and he understood DW’s fear. To a little kid, this must seem like the end of the world. But Arthur had seen blizzards, and he knew that while it sometimes took a while, things always seemed to get back to normal.
Arthur looked up to see DW peering into some bushes. He would’ve ignored her any other day, but since everything was in such a mess, he joined her to check it out. She was peering through the fence and into a neighbor’s yard. Both of them could hear a whimpering noise, but a down tree limb kept them from peering through.
“Arthur, whatever that is, it sounds hurt,” DW whispered. “What should we do?”
“Well we’re not allowed to leave the yard, so I guess we’ll have to ignore it,” Arthur replied. He didn’t want to ignore it. Whatever it was, it sounded small and hurt. The squeals weren’t human, he knew, but he didn’t know what kind of animal it was either, and he knew not to find out on his own without his father.
DW didn’t like Arthur’s response either, “We have to do something, Arthur! It sounds hurt. We should get Dad and let him help it. Please, let’s go get him before—”
“Okay, we’ll go get him,” Arthur agreed. The two children marched into the house, finding David in the garage looking for something. When he looked up, Arthur told them what they heard. David tried to brush it off, saying it was probably just a hungry dog, but the kids weren’t letting him go. He had to go look, and after a moment, he followed the kids into the backyard.
After seeing the spot along the fence where the whimpering was coming from, David ventured out the back gate and into the neighbor’s yard. He had a look of trepidation as he moved through the limbs of a fallen tree. While he was skeptical at first, he’d heard the whimpers himself now and knew it wasn’t just a hungry dog. He was scared, yes, but he pushed forward into the yard, hoping he wasn’t disturbing anyone.
David was able to reach the source of the whimpers within a few minutes. In a sheet that had been wrapped up in the tree during the storm, he found a small dog nursing a brood of puppies. David counted five, then six. The dog had quite a large litter for her size, and judging by the look of her, she was hungry. And since he’d never seen the dog before, he knew she was probably a stray. David had to do something for it.
“Arthur, there’s a box in the garage with some oil in it. Take out the bottles and bring the box to me. DW, why don’t you help him?” David suggested. They asked why, but David put on his father voice and told them just to do it. He wanted to surprise them, but first he needed that box, and he needed the momma dog to trust him.
Luckily trust wasn’t the issue. When the children returned, they passed the box over the fence. David reached towards her, and after getting a few licks from the mother dog, he began to put the puppies into the box. They squirmed and cried out, but the momma dog seemed to know this was for the best. She climbed into the box with the last one, the seventh puppy, and allowed David to carefully carry them through the neighbor’s yard and around front, the easiest route for someone carrying a box full of dogs.
When he arrived, the Read household seemed to brighten. The mother dog and her seven puppies put smiles on their faces, almost helping them forget the horrible situation outside their door. But Jane was practical, and though she thought the little bundles were adorable, she wondered how they could feed the group and their existing dog, who looked on with a surprised expression from Arthur’s lap.
“Well, the babies aren’t old enough for solid food yet, but the mother can share food with Pal. We have two bags in the garage. One of them had bites that were too big for him, but she can handle it. We’ll be fine,” David smiled. But he had a warning for the family, “But this is too many dogs for us to have. We’ll have to get rid of all of them when everything is over, but for now, they can stay.”
The puppies weren’t old enough to play with, and the momma dog was quiet and kept to herself, but the group made the family happy. Their two weeks without power passed quickly, and soon they were all able to leave home again. Elwood City was gradually cleaned up and repaired, and the memory of how the town looked covered in down trees and debris quickly faded. The stories remained for a while, spreading through the neighborhood in small bursts, but the story of the Read family’s surprise house guests was very popular. The family had no problem giving away all of the dogs, even the momma dog, who went with the smallest puppy to the Walters household. Soon Elwood City was back to normal again, and everyone moved on with their lives, a handful of them with cute new additions.
Theme 139: Baby Animals!, Theme 166: Apocalypse
Themes from my Infinite Arthur Theme List Challenge. For more info, see my profile. For the full list, see my deviantArt profile, SS-Chrys.
Note: This is NOT my hurricane story. That is called “When the Wild Wind Blows,” and you can find it on deviantArt (penname SS-Chrys. Link coming eventually). This piece is unfinished, but I may post it here eventually. I may finish the piece this summer, if I can, but we’ll see.