The three children ran howling onto the river bank. They’d chased the little dog for about half a mile in total and their breath was jagged and raw.
“Kill it”, Charlie gasped pointing at the dog, still trying to crawl away as it backed off from the feral group.
Kieran stood with his hands on his knees, head bowed blowing air until he could speak again. “No”, he snapped glaring at Charlie. “Stupid fucking thing bit me, it’s gonna pay for that!” He picked up large tree branch and hurled it at the injured animal. It bounced off the dog’s injured back leg and it yipped with pain and whined, still trying to back off.
Emma laughed at the stupid dog. She’d hated dogs ever since she was bitten by a poodle and she looked up at the darkening sky through the long, spindly tree branches. “Let’s just drown it, little bastard. We’ll have some explaining to do when we get home if we don’t scarper.”
Kieran wiped sweat from his grimy forehead with an equally grimy green shirt sleeve and whooped with glee. Moving forward he pulled up some old blue rope, frayed and knotted and pulling up leaves. “Let’s just hang it and be done.”
As the grinning threesome moved to the frightened, injured animal it slithered back, sliding down the bank and its hind legs brushed a patch of bright flowers. Red, yellow, blue, many colours, splashes of vividness. Before the animal had moved more than a few inches light bloomed from the moist ground beneath it. The dog’s pain gave way to fear as bright, yellow rays erupted from the ground around it. The children stuttered to a halt as the evening gloom gave way to a radiance more vivid than daylight. The glow rose and a lilting voice shouted, “Who has done this?”
Emma looked up and her jaw fell open as she saw the light rise up and form into the shimmering golden form of a woman. The figure wore a billowing dress and it rippled and moved as if from some unseen force. The woman stopped above them and again the lilting, melodic voice demanded:
“WHO HAS DONE THIS?”
Kieran tried to answer but he just stammered in fright, dropping his rope and Charlie tried to run but the woman raised her hand and his feet were held in a prism of light as bright as she was. Her face was too brilliant to focus upon, only her eyes could be seen, flashing angrily as her long yellow hair span and danced around her shoulders and neck.
The dog whimpered again and the woman reached down, picking the animal up gently and crooning to it. “There, there my darling, who would hurt you? My precious, my love.”
As the terrified children watched spellbound the dog’s fear and pain melted and it seemed content for the figure to hold it in her arms. “My special, my precious, who would hurt a helpless little thing like you?” the voice sang on. The dog looked up happily at the woman’s face and then it slowly began to dissolve into light, glowing as it became part of the same light radiating from her.
The dog was gone.
The figure turned to the children again. “Which of you did this?” she demanded again.
Emma pointed at Charlie and stammered, “It was him Miss, he made us do it?”
Charlie turned to glare at her and yelled, “You lying slag it was you and Kieran!”
The three stared at her as she looked at each one of them in turn.
“You would hurt an innocent animal for pleasure? Let me show you the beauty of the world that your vicious eyes have so far failed to see.”
With that she raised her hand again and the children’s minds filled with images of sweetness and beauty, the like of which they had never seen before or even known. The images and sensations filled their minds. More beauty and love than they ever knew could exist. They fell to their knees and cried and as they raised their tear-streaked faces to the shimmering, vivid spectre before them the figure asked one final question.
The police and the army searched the entire town and across half the neighbouring counties but the children were never found. Their parents never recovered from the unexplained loss and grief tore Charlie’s mother and Emma’s father to suicide within a year. Down at the riverbank where the three kids had cornered the injured dog, the beautiful flowers still grow.