This is a short story I wrote about the mysterious underwater dogs that I grew up with. This is an introduction to my adventures with them; later they would lead me to the horror of marauding bands of unicorns and the absurd yet insightful talking flowers in the underriver world.
My little brother burst through the door & fell face down on the floor. He does that when he’s too excited to talk. “Yes?” I asked.
“I’ve seen them again! Over in the deep part of the river by the big aqua duck.”
“Aqua duct,” I corrected him. He was only seven, so it’s understandable. I was eleven, almost twelve, and very mature for my age. “Seen what?”
He sat up and took a long, deep breath in order to heighten the drama of the moment. “The water puppies! I saw them swimming underwater. There were a lot of them!”
About six months earlier, the two of us had been sitting on the muddy, rocky bank of the river, skipping stones and wasting time when my brother tugged at my shirt and asked, “What’s that?” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something or some things swimming fast underwater but they were out of sight too quickly to make them out. I figured maybe it was a muskrat. My brother said they were dogs, and I made up a big story about sea monster dogs. Every night, he wanted me to tell him a sea monster dog story, and when I ran out of ideas, I said they had puppies and made up stories about underwater puppies. But neither of us had seen them again, whatever they were, and I wasn’t quite sure that we had seen anything at all.
Now, half a year later, my brother was telling me that the water puppies were back and I had to go down with him and see them. Since it was summer and there was absolutely nothing else to do, I went with him. We even hauled a 14-inch fishing net out of the shed that we sometimes used to catch bugs. We were curious kids, what can I say.
It had been raining for about three days before, so when we got to the aqua duct, the water was running deep and fast. We stood on the old rocky bank where we had maybe seen something before. You could hear the water whooshing by and there were little, white birds flittering about. But no water puppies. At least, not at first.
As we stared hard into the water, the both of us being very quiet, I started to feel a little dizzy, like I was going to be sucked into the flow. I noticed more and more details in the swirly white and blue patterns in the water. It was like when you walk out at night to take the dog out and your eyes start adjusting to the dark and you see more and more stuff. Even though the water was moving fast at the surface, I could see tiny black fish messing around in the sand at the bottom.
I was jarred out of my mesmerization by a sharp squeaky sound. It was my brother. He does that when he’s trying to stop himself from talking. Do other people’s brothers squeak? Somehow I doubt it.
He tugged on my shirt, just like six months before. But this time, I got a good look. There was something, much bigger than a muskrat, swimming deep under water. It was light tan colored, and it was fast. We both leapt down closer to the water. Before I could say, “It’s gone,” four more underwater shapes appeared. They were swimming from the aqua duct, which was to our left, right across in front of us. They were different colors. Two were yellowish, one was light brown and the other one was black. I had the fishing net in my hand and instinctively thrust it into the water. I didn’t really expect to catch anything, but the net jerked down and was tugged clean out of my hands. I couldn’t believe my eyes – the thing in the water had the net in its teeth and was swimming away with it, and darned if it didn’t look just like a puppy dog.
“Get it!” shouted my brother. But it was too late. We stood there helplessly as the net zipped away from us, slowly lowering down under the water. In another second all of them had swum off, never once coming up for air.
“You scared them off!” I yelled at my brother. But then, I felt bad, so I changed the subject. “Did you see that? One of them grabbed the net! Did you see it?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Water puppies will do that.”
After that, the two of us spent every day that summer exploring the river and looking for water puppies. We even brought along treats and dog food to try to attract them. None of it really made any sense, and we didn’t see them again. But it was still the best summer I ever had. It’s been nearly two years since then and I still go back looking for them. I also wonder, when I’m in town and I see other folks’ dogs, whether any of them are secret water puppies, and whether they know that I know about them.
Another Daisybrain short story waits for you under this flower: