Dog and His Boy
Chapter 8: Purple Metal

Copyright© 2011 by TC Allen

Gage saw two young men in their late teens walk uncertainly up the driveway. He went to greet them, "Which one of you is Mark and which one is Jason? Can I put a magic marker on one of you so I can tell you two apart?" They appeared to be identical in every way, except for their clothes. One, Mark it turned out, had on black Dockers and a gray polo shirt. The other, Jason, wore a white tee shirt and faded jeans. Both were sockless in leather loafers.

"The best way to tell us apart is I'm Jason and I'm the oldest by fifteen minutes. He smiled at Gage, revealing two missing front teeth where bridgework replaced two knocked out during a particularly wild ice hockey game.

"I'm Mark and I have all my teeth," the other one added. "What happened here? It looks like a battlefield. What are all the cops doing here?"

Gage gave them a quick account of their adventures the evening before and later in the morning. "We been pretty busy around here. My dad sealed their van up with a back hoe pretty good," he added proudly.

"Hey, great," Jason enthused. "Where's our nerdy sister?"

"We dug up an old rune stone and she wants to marry it," Gage said disgustedly. "She and Dog are in there now reading it and getting all excited."

"Who's Dog?" Mark asked, "one of your friends?"

Gage grinned and led the two brothers into the barn while the rescue team carefully removed the intruders from the van and the deputies cuffed and arrested them. As they entered the barn Vikki looked up and saw her brothers. "Uglies." she yelled at them and hurried over. "You all right? Mother told us what happened to you. She said a Raak was involved."

While Mark told her of their adventures with the police, Jason asked Gage, "This dog is Dog?"

"Yep. He sure is," Gage answered proudly. "He's smarter than the average dog."

"Careful," Dog warned. He sent a mental picture of a cartoon Gage with his foot in his mouth.

Mark looked over at Dog concentrating on the runic code. "Hey, your dog acts like he's reading those marks." He laughed.

"He is reading them, my dim witted brother. Without him I would not make any progress in deciphering what is cut into the slab. Do you realize this stone was cut with tools which weren't even supposed to exist back then?" Her excitement was obvious.

"Yah, yah, it's a forgery then." Mark laughed at her for being so gullible.

"As usual, oh mentally defective one, you are so far out of tune with reality your mind isn't even on this world at all." Vikki refused to back down from her well over six feet tall older brother.

"You better get used to it, Dog is older than old and he knows stuff we can't even imagine." Gage was so serious about it all Mark shut up.

Linda came into the barn and announced, "I just made sandwiches and lemonade. Come on in the house and eat something." She looked at Jason and said, "Either you are the Jolly Pink Giant or you're Vikki's brother, one of the twins." She saw Mark and added, "My fine mind tells me you are the other twin." She turned and started to leave.

"Oh Mom, Dog says he would like three more pounds of beef and a bowl of water. He apologizes and says he'll be feeding himself by tomorrow, hopefully." Gage grinned at the twins.

"Okay, but I'm going to have to give him venison. We're out of beef." Dog woofed his agreement.

"He says he likes deer meat better anyway," Gage called after her. She nodded and went into the house to prepare food for two more mouths.

"Hey, you really are serious about your dog. What's the deal?" Although Jason was still skeptical about Dog he was beginning to wonder about the strange animal.

"He plays chess better than anyone in the world," Vikki announced proudly. "He's even better than me."

"He showed me where two gold coins were buried and Dad sold them for twenty thousand dollars and showed us where to dig to bring up the rune stone older than any recorded visit from the Vikings. Some time before 500 AD. Now he says we have to dig carefully because we are going to uncover some purple metal and we have to be careful so it doesn't ruin the backhoe if we grab it wrong or something." Gage's smug smile left little doubt what he believed about Dog.

Suddenly the two twins became as still as statues, barely breathing. "What about purple metal?" Jason asked in a flat, emotionless voice.

"Well, Dog says the stuff has," he paused and screwed up his face in thought, "kinetic properties. He also says it really isn't metal but just looks like it. It's from another universe." He looked amused at the alarm showing on the twins' faces.

"You better get used to it, big brothers. This dog knows more about us than we know about us," Vikki told them. She turned to Gage and said, "Come on shrimp, I'm hungry and want to look at your ugly face while I eat. It will make the food taste even better."

Gage laughed and answered, "You look at all my handsomeness and you will be too awe struck to eat."

"Or else I'll barf," she answered as he took her hand and led her toward the house. The twins looked at their sister unable to believe she was the same brawling sister they always knew. She was actually allowing a boy to pull her along by the hand without any argument from her.

The deputies prepared to take their prisoners back to jail. The fire truck with the emergency response team had already left. One approached Steve, "We'll book them. What happens next will be up to the idiot judge."

"The judge ain't an idiot," Steve answered in an angry voice, "He's crooked."

"I can't argue with you there," the deputy replied. "My boss is talking to the attorney general's office right now."

Steve nodded and headed for the house as the last cruiser left. "I'm hungry," he announced as he entered the kitchen. He spied the platter of sandwiches. "Hey, you guys save me some, I worked up an appetite out there this morning." He hurried away to wash up. Gage and Vikki sat next to each other intently devouring their lunch.

"Now, I want someone to tell me about this purple metal which just looks like a metal, act's like a metal and isn't a metal," Gage demanded.

Jason looked up from his sandwich yet didn't say anything. Vikki answered, "We of The People only have one small piece of it, a shard is all. If you hit it with a hammer, the hammer bounces back way harder than the force than was exerted in striking the metal.

"If you put it in an electric circuit it will drain all the power available. Where the energy goes nobody knows. It's a great mystery. Our legends say it was used to help us move from one universe to another."

"It's all kind of hard to swallow," Gage stated flatly.

"Well, is it any more unbelievable than a dog who has lived forever and reads your mind and plays chess?" Vikki countered his argument.

"We seem to be living in some pretty unbelievable times. Right now I don't disbelieve anything." Linda looked fondly at her son and continued, "You are the biggest surprise of all."

"Hey, what did I do now?" Gage asked as he swallowed a big bite.

"You washed the dishes without griping," his mother answered, laughing.

Everybody laughed and concentrated on finishing lunch. Steve pushed himself back from the long harvest table and said, "Well, I better get back out there and uncover the metal." He tried to act cool but his excitement and anticipation was obvious to everybody.

Vikki and Gage followed him out. "You be real careful, Sir, we have no idea what properties a large amount of the material may exhibit," she warned.

Steve nodded, backed the tractor down the slanting side of the hole and dropped the bucket into the ground to scoop up another load of dirt. The case tractor bounced completely out of the hole and landed on its side. Steve fell clear of the tractor. "Uff da I think I better be more careful when I'm digging holes for Gage and Dog." He slowly got to his feet and looked at the tractor.

He went to his old pickup and drove it over to the tractor. He got out, unreeled some of the cable from the front winch, attached it to the tractor's heavy rear wheel and got back in. Slowly he backed away from the tractor. It skidded sideways on the ground for a few feet and then slowly came over into an upright position.

After the cable was disconnected and re-rolled, Steve grabbed a shovel and jumped back into the hole. He jabbed the shovel down into the dirt. The shovel bounced back up into the air and tore itself out of his grip. It landed on the ground five feet away from the hole. "How about I just use a whisk broom down here?"

Gage hopped down into the hole with a shovel and said, "Try it like this, Dad. Dog explained it to me." Gently he placed the shovel blade on the top of the loose earth and slowly scooped up a load. He threw it out and repeated the action. Steve smiled at his son and began to do the same thing. Slowly they removed dirt until Gage's shovel jumped into the air two feet as he scraped a little too hard.

"Here's my kitchen broom," Linda dropped a plastic bristled broom into the hole away from the strange metal which now showed through the dirt.

Still being careful Steve swept the metal until it was almost clear of dirt. It appeared to be about five feet by seven feet. "Now, how do we get this crazy stuff out of here? I don't think we better try to jerk it out."

Gage suggested to his father, "If we use rollers it ought to be safe. If we pick up one end and place those new fence posts under it we ought to get it out easy enough."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Ask Jason and Mark to come help me try to lift one end and hold it. I'll go get a couple of bundles of posts." Steve trudged up to the barn and loaded three bundles of six posts each onto a lawn cart and dragged it back. The twins were waiting for him.

"What do you want us to do, Sir?" Jason asked.

"Well, if the three of us can lift one end of the purple panel I'm going to have Gage and Vikki place fence posts down pointing up the slope. Then we'll place posts crosswise and roll it out of there."

"Dad I think Dog has a better idea. Why not just slowly pick it up and carry it out real gentle like? He says it weighs only about two hundred pounds, and if it is carried slowly it should be safe to handle. He says if you try to jerk it any it sometimes becomes unstable."

"Like a sister I know," Mark mumbled.

"Don't make me hurt you, big brother," Vikki warned.

"Let's try it," Steve said to the twins reluctantly. They grabbed hold on each side in the middle and slowly lifted. Steve stepped back in amazement as the two teens walked easily up the ramp and onto level ground.

They carried it into the barn and gently set it on the floor. Gage walked near the strange metal that wasn't truly a metal and stopped five feet away. "Something's not right here," he said in puzzlement. "I got an itch in my head."

"Get back." Dog's voice roared in Gage's head.

Gage stepped back two paces and exclaimed, "The itch is gone."

"You are sensitive to the material. You must be trained before you can safely touch it." Dog's gruff voice informed him.

"Well, how come it didn't bother me while I was digging the dirt off of it?" Gage asked aloud.

Dog replied, "The earth it was buried in had a dampening effect on it, evidently. Now once it was clear of the earth and placed on a concrete floor, it tried to reach out to the nearest sensitive. It's you."

"Oh," Gage replied aloud.

"Do you talk to yourself much?" asked Mark.

"I was talking to Dog," Gage answered.

"How come we can't hear him answer you back?" Jason asked.

"I'm the only one who can hear him," Gage replied.

"Oh, yah sure," Mark muttered under his breath.

"Let's all go back into the house and think about this. We are so far in uncharted territory I don't have any idea of what to do." Steve led the way back into the house.

They all sat around the table in the kitchen and stared at each other. "What I want to know is about the kid here and his dog. What's all this stuff about him talking to the dog and getting answers in his head? And dogs don't play chess like our demented little sister says. Dogs are dogs." Jason stared at Gage, challenging him to reply.

"He also wrestles," Gage said smugly.

"Dogs don't wrestle," Mark stated positively.

"Ask Mangling Milton if dogs wrestle or not. He didn't think so until Dog pinned him." Vikki was laughing by the time she related what happened at the Miltons'.

"You mean you met the Mangler himself?" Mark asked. "He is one real solid dude."

"Dog and my folks saved his life and Vikki got to talk to Peg Milton while Ralph prepared the steaks for us. They got a nice home." Gage was playing Mister Cool to the hilt. "We'll take you over to meet them as soon as we have time.

Steve looked out the kitchen window and said, "Well, it looks like it might be sooner than you think. Guess who's getting out of a car in our back yard."

Vikki beat Gage to the back door and threw it wide open. "Peg. Ralph. Hi, what are you doing here?"

Peg came in first followed by her husband. "We heard you had a shooting last night and how a new bunch of bad guys came here to do who knows what. Is everyone okay? Can we be of any help to you Do you need anything?"

Dog slowly came into the house behind the Miltons' and "woofed" a greeting. Then he lay down by Gage's chair.

"What's wrong with Dog?" Peg asked in alarm. "He's been hurt."

Linda quickly told them how Dog got shot and what all happened both the previous night and that morning. She finished by saying, "You see the wrecked van out there? It's what they were driving when they attacked us today."

Ralph looked at Steve in admiration and said, "Remind me not to get on your bad side. You play rough."

Gage broke in to the conversation, "Let me introduce you to the twins, Vikki's older brothers. They're about to have a head hernia waiting to get introduced." He presented Mark and Jason.

"Uh," said Mark.

"Oh," said Jason. "They really know you."

"More than just know; their wrestling dog helped save my life when I had a bike wreck. My old Norton was beyond repair and I would have been too if not for these fine folks."

"Come on and sit down. We have a problem and maybe you have some ideas on what to do. We have discovered something we are not going to take to the authorities and something we might.

"What do you think you might hand over to the authorities?" Ralph Milton asked.

"Well, the rune stone we discovered will throw a whole lot of theories in a cocked hat," Vikki said. "Besides Dog and I have already translated both the outer message and the hidden code. The stone was carved out of solid granite at a time when the Vikings didn't have the technology to carve any material that hard. So if it's okay with Dog we'll just let the university guys try their hands at it."

Peg Milton looked down at Gage's side and asked, "Ah, Dog?"

"Am I missing something here? You ask Dog's permission to turn a rune stone of great historical significance? Why?" Ralph Milton looked at dog dubiously.

Steve smiled quietly and said, "I guess you noticed how Dog is not quite like any other dog you ever saw, right?" He got nods from the Miltons'.

"He beat me at chess," Vikki said. "What is humiliating is he could have done it almost any time after the first twenty moves. Nobody has ever done anything even close to what Dog did since I was nine years old."

"He plays chess?" Ralph asked, stupefied.

"He calculates prime numbers in his head and can give you the square and cube of any number you throw at him," Vikki stated, then added, "Dog is a mathematical phenomena. He's even more intelligent than I."

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