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You are here To Be Continued .... 2014 To Be Continued .... 2015 To Be Continued .... 2016 To Be Continued ... 2017 To Be Continued ... 2018: Coming home


Coming Home by Ben Markey

Chapter 1

Michael paced up and down the room very frustrated. The law said you weren't allowed to go to war without a dog. ‘'Who made up that stupid idea'' Michael asked the other men. “Your father'' a man answered. Michaels' father had died in war and no one ever spoke of him. ‘'Go home Michael'' Jamie said. “Wha…” “Go home “. The man left the room.

Michael glanced at the other men. They left as well. Michael sighed. His father had said; think before you act but now it was too late and he was left alone with his own thoughts.

Michael left the room and headed home. The ship to France was leaving soon and he had no chance of getting there. Just then a bicycle pulled up beside him. “A letter for Mr. Cullen ''. The man hopped back on his bike and cycled down the road. Michael read the letter;

Mr. Cullen we have a dog for you. Ship sails from London. Hurry.!

Michael dropped the letter and got onto his bike. His head was swirling with questions. He took a deep breath and started to cycle towards London.

As Michael approached London City he heard the sound of engines. He knew at once the ship was leaving without him. Michael parked his bike beside a building and ran after the ship. ''Hey'' a man yelled. ''Sorry'' Michael called. ''You can keep the bike though''. Michael ended up at the railing. The sea lay ahead of him. How was he supposed to catch up with the ship now? Without thinking he jumped over the railing and splashed into the sea.

Michael didn`t have time to scream before he hit the water. Water filled his mouth. A voice rang in his head: death, it is time Michael Cullen, you will die! A hand crashed into the water and grabbed Michael by the shirt and pulled him above the surface. He was in a rowing boat with several men. They were being lured onto the ship by some ropes. Michael was relieved but he knew his journey wasn't going to end well. When the rowing boat got on board the engines roared and the ship started to move. A man handed him a towel. “Your late'' the man said studying him. “And wet'' Michael groaned. The man had short brown hair. His moustache was neatly combed. He wore a white shirt with a waist coat and a jacket over it. “Come on Michael I`ll show you your dog”.

The man led Michael down a dark corridor. “Ah, here we are cabin 15'' he exclaimed finally. The sign on the door said, Dog Centre in big writing. The man opened a door. Silence filled the room. “Cage 6'' he muttered. “Okay, Michael, meet your new dog, Louie''. Michael thought Louie wouldn't be like his last dog, Rex. Rex had died in war and Michael really missed him but when Louie stepped out of his cage he knew he had been mistaken. Louie was brown and white. He had a small tail and floppy ears but most of all he had eyes the size of saucers. “Whoa!''Michael said. He instantly forgot about Rex. “How much is he?'' he asked. “For free of course ''the man answered. Louie sniffed Michael curiously and barked. “He likes you'' the man laughed. “Tomorrow I will show you your horse Flash”, he said. “I have a horse as well?” Michael asked. “Yes he was your Dads”, the man said. “Come on we better get back to our room”.

The man showed the way through the dark corridor, Louie walked beside Michael. He wagged his tail as he went. Michael couldn't help smiling. The man turned right and opened a door. They were out on deck. “You better get to bed you've got a big day tomorrow”, he said. “Which room?” Michael asked. “Room fourteen on corridor 5”, the man answered. Michael and Louie walked down the silent corridor. There were no lights so Michael held a candle in his hand. Paintings hung on the walls above them. Michael could hear Louie breathing. He was relieved he'd met Louie. It wouldn't be the same without him. When they reached cabin fourteen Michael sighed tiredly. He found a blanket and a cot and made a bed for Louie. Then Michael got into his bunk and nodded off.

Michael was dreaming. He was in a dark corridor just like the one he'd passed through before. Where was Louie? He looked around but there was no sign of him. “Louie”, he called. His voice echoed off the walls. A shadow stirred in the corner of the corridor. A gun fired.

Michael woke with a start. Louie was already up scratching at the door. He got dressed and opened the door. There were people racing through the corridor and carrying guns over their shoulders. Michael remembered they were due to attack the Germans that morning. He packed a bag with food and water and ran after all the men. When they reached the deck he could hardly hear the engines above the noise of the men. A hand touched his shoulder. “Jamie”, Michael gasped as he turned around, “you came back”. “I'm sorry I lost my temper”, Michael apologised. Louie barked. “I need to get my bag”, said Jamie and he disappeared. Michael gazed at the horizon. The ship was moving slowly across the water. Michael wondered what would happen when the war was over, if he survived would he be able to go home and keep Louie?

The wind blew softly on his face. Michael didn't realize Louie had left his side. Louie”, Michael called in panic as he saw Louie leaning against the railing of the ship about to fall in. Michael rushed towards him and grabbed him just as he fell. Louie sprang out of his hands and made for the deck but his jump failed by a lot and he fell into the black sea. Michael buried his head in his hands. He didn't want to do it again but he had to. He quickly got undressed and dived into the sea.

Louie woke with a towel wrapped around him. He remembered he had tried to get a good look at the propeller and Michael had caught him as he fell. Louie had tried to jump back on deck but failed. He shivered. Michael was beside him. A cup was being pressed to his lips. Louie put his head under Michaels arm. He had an expression on his face that Louie didn't like. Michael reached into his pocket and pulled out a dog collar. Louie nudged him. He placed the collar around Louie's neck. A voice called, “Quickly, it's already started”.

Guns fired, bodies lay scattered on the ground. Louie would have preferred anything even a bath rather than being on the battle field. They silently crept up to the next fence and ducked behind it. “Stand back”, Michael said as he pulled the trigger on his gun. A tank fired and blew up the fence they were behind. “Run”, Michael told Louie, “run”. Louie didn't need to be told a third time. He sprang into action and ran down the battlefield jumping over screaming men and avoiding being shot. Suddenly something hit his leg. Pain overtook him. Everything started to blur. Where was Michael? Everything went black.

Chapter 2

Louie woke to find two men standing over him. He understood. He was at the vets. A woman entered the room and said, “Results please”. They started to talk quietly between themselves. All Louie heard was, “Leg badly broken, shot, never walk properly again”. Louie was horrified. He could feel a breeze blow on his fur. He turned looking desperately for an open window. He spotted one but it was not wide enough. How was he supposed to find Michael now? He noticed an air vent above him. He hobbled and jumped onto a shelf. It wobbled and several medicines fell. Louie's leg burned with pain. He just had to jump one more time. “Stop”, yelled one of the men, “you'll just make your leg worse”. Louie ignored the advice. He was going to find Michael and not lose him again. He pounced into the air vent and toppled in.

The air vent was hot and there were sounds everywhere. The vet clinic was connected to a hospital he discovered. Wounded men lay on beds being cured or tested. He could smell food from the kitchen, he just couldn't find it. He was starving. He'd been in the vent a long time and he was exhausted. He just wanted to find Michael, losing him was a nightmare. Louie wondered if Michael was injured in the hospital somewhere. What if he'd died fighting the tank?

He finally found the kitchen. Looking down he saw two men asleep on chairs. A jar of peanut butter was on the counter. The pushed against the vent and the screws gave way and he fell down. The men woke as Louie knocked over a plate that shattered on the floor. “What are you doing in here”, one of them asked. Louie grabbed the jar of peanut butter and raced through the kitchen door. The men chased after him. There was an open window and Louie jumped without thinking.

Michael awoke. Blood lay splattered on his face. He remembered being kicked off the tank and smashing his head against a rock. Then he remembered who had kicked him off the tank, it was Jamie! He was in the back of a truck and he could see Jamie with another man. “Confused?” Jamie smirked. “I'm really a German spy. I was the one who killed your father, I was the one who ordered the attack on the ship, I was the one driving the tank and I was the one who shot Louie”. Michael gasped. “Traitor”, he screamed lunging at him. A gun fired and he fell unconscious.

Louie had landed on a truck, his bones ached. The air stank of smoke. He heard a gun fire inside the truck. He wanted to get off but he couldn't move. The truck pulled over at a warehouse. Five people got out carrying a body. It was Michael. Forgetting his pain, Louie leaped. “Look who's here”, laughed Jamie, “super dog”. One of the men reached for Louie and he bit him. “Leave him here”, Jamie ordered. They carried Michael into the warehouse and shut the door.

“Louie”, Michael's voice echoed through the warehouse. “He's dead Michael, I told you”, Jamie said slumped on a chair nearby. He held a rifle in his hand. Anger and hate sat at the pit of Michael's stomach. How could this be his best friend? “It's over Michael”, said Jamie, “half the English are dead and do you know the first thing we're going to do when we win the war? Kill the king and make me President”. Michael cursed. “Bring in the dog”, Jamie ordered. A man stumbled in holding a black sack. “He's dead alright”, the man cackled. Michael reached into his shirt pocket and clutched a knife that Jamie hadn't taken. He slit the ropes on his wrists. Part of him said that Jamie was still his friend but that part was wrong. He rushed at Jamie. Jamie fired his rifle but Michael ducked and it hit the other man who dropped the sack.

Louie could hear guns firing around him and Michael's voice. Michael was fighting with Jamie! He tried to bark but only a whine came out. “How is he alive”, Jamie gasped, “those imbeciles”. Michael seized his chance. He punched Jamie in the stomach and grabbed the rifle and held it against his head. “Ah Michael you wouldn't shoot an old friend”, Jamie said. “I will”, Michael warned his finger against the trigger. “Think again”, a voice said and Michael could feel a gun to his head. He looked desperately for a way out. A chandelier hung above him. A stairs led to a long landing. He had a plan but he needed help.

Michael looked at Louie and the dog read the message in his eyes. “Now you'll know my wrath”, Jamie cried reaching for Michael. Michael kicked the man with the gun in the shin and shoved him into Jamie. He grabbed a rifle and shot the chandelier down on top of the two men. It burst into flames. The fire spread and Michael's eyes grew wide in terror. Jamie and the man started up the stairs. Smoke filled the warehouse. Michael scooped Louie up and ran to the stairs trying to avoid the fire. The man turned and for a second everything felt like slow motion. He tried to duck but the man kicked his head sending him backward into the fire.

The door of the warehouse flew open and two men ran in. The taller one was skinny and his face was covered in blood, the smaller one carried a long gun and his eyes were red from crying. “Michael what are you doing her”, the small one said when he spotted him. Michael recognized his voice. “Stanley here catch”, he said throwing Louie over the fire. Stanley caught him. Michael looked for Jamie. A gun fired. Michael remembered Jamie had said he'd killed Michael's father and anger grew inside him. Michael started to move low across the floor. A cry came from across the room. Terry and Stanley had started a fight with another German soldier and Stanley lay unconscious on the ground. Michael reached the stairs and tried not to cough with the smoke. Jamie might hear him and shoot in his direction. He crawled up the stairs hoping none of the floorboards would give way. Michael straightened his gun. He was going to kill the man who had murdered his father. He caught a movement and fired. He heard a scream. Had he got him, did he kill him?

Jamie staggered back as pain shot through his hand. His rifle was blasted out of his grip. Blood ran down his hand in a race to reach his wrist. He looked for his rifle but it had been knocked over the railing. There was another gunshot and when he looked up he saw a boy standing over the body of the other German soldier. It was Michael. The fire was spreading up the stairs behind him and Jamie looked around to see another flight of stairs. Jamie ran and the fire followed, he thought Michael would never reach him. A room lay at the top of the stairs full of dust. Everything looked like it hadn't been used for fifty years. There was a window behind a desk but it looked too high to jump. Panic grew inside him, if he didn't get out of the room the fire would get him. Jamie feared the worst, no gun, no exit. He paced the room hopelessly. He looked out the window but realized the drop was enough to kill him. Smoke was filling the room. He opened the window and saw the truck was still parked below.

Michael and Terry emerged from the warehouse dragging Stanley with them. Michael clutched Louie protectively. They walked towards the truck. Jamie leaped at that moment and landed on the truck with a crash. Michael and Terry raised their guns. Jamie realized he had nothing to defend himself with. The boy on the ground moaned and thrashed distracting Michael and Terry. Jamie took his chance and hopped into the driver's seat. He started the engine and drove knocking the two over. Michael scrambled up and fired but it was hopeless. All he could do as watch as the truck sped away.

Chapter 3

Stanley soon came around so the others didn't have to carry him. They followed the tracks left by the truck. They could hear a distant trickle of water. It was a hot night and they were thirsty. A light shone ahead. If they could reach it they might be able to get a bed for the night. Stanley broke the silence, “Where are we?” he asked exhausted. “Don't know, do you Michael”, Terry asked. He pulled out a map and Michael studied it. “I think we're near Toulouse”, he guessed. “We're lost”, Stanley sighed. “If we can get to that light maybe we can get directions and some rest”, Michael said. “Maybe”, Stanley muttered. They continued on battling through some reeds. Stanley fell to the ground with exhaustion. Terry managed to pick him up, “Just a little further”, he told him. They could now see an old stone building, the light was coming from inside.

Louie's wounds were starting to heal but he still couldn't walk very well. It was almost dawn. They reached the building and Terry took a deep breath before knocking on the door. “Who is it?” a frightened voice called from inside, “what do you want?” “Just a place to rest”, Terry said trying to sound friendly. The door opened. A man with grey hair and a beard opened the door. There were bits of gravy and potato stuck to his beard. “You're English”, Michael noticed, “who are you?” “Thomas”, he replied studying them, “come in”. It was warm inside, a fire lit the corner of the room. Thomas carried an oil lamp in his hand. He poured some water into a jug at the sink. “Are you thirsty?” he asked. Stanley pushed past the other two and gulped down the water. “We're looking for a man called Jamie Richards”, said Michael, have you seen him?””Is he an English soldier”, asked Thomas. “he's a German spy actually”, insisted Terry. They explained how he had tried to kill them. Thomas looked appalled. “If I hear that he's around I'll tell you”, said Thomas, “now go upstairs and get some rest there's some hay up there to lie on”. They thanked him and went upstairs. The hay was warm and they instantly fell asleep.

Michael dreamed he was back on the tank with Jamie fighting. Jamie pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger. Michael woke with a start. He could hear fighting and shouting downstairs. Stanley appeared, “The Germans have killed Thomas and Terry”, he cried. Michael grabbed Louie as soldiers started climbing the stairs. They jumped from a window and ran to the stables. Michael and Stanley hopped on two horses. “How are we going to get out without getting shot”, cried Stanley. They opened a smaller door at the back and the horses reared up before galloping off. The soldiers had started their vans and motorbikes and were starting to catch up. “Faster”, Stanley shouted. They could hear gunfire behind them. “We'll have to take another road”, Michael shouted over the gunfire. “Head east and we might be able to lose them”. They changed direction. A bullet dug into Michael's hip and he screamed in agony. He clutched his wound. “Hold on Michael we have to get out of here before we get killed”, called Stanley. They changed direction again. Louie started to lick the wound on his hip. Slowly they were losing the soldiers.

“I watched as Terry died”, Stanley said sadly. “What?” Michael asked. “All I did was watch”, he continued. “It's not your fault”, Michael told him. “I could have saved him”, Stanley said. “We were defending the stairs and Terry decided to protect us. He was fighting his way through the Germans. A soldier aimed at him and I hesitated. Terry was killed”, he said sadly. Their horses reared up as a plane flew low over their heads. Michael's horse reared again sending him flying off. “Run Louie, run”, he ordered. The same words he'd used when the tank had attacked.

To Be continued . . . Click here to read the full book (pdf format)