**I wrote this story as a project for my Gifted class. It is a somewhat educational story about prairie dogs.**
Our story begins in the plains of Texas. A prairie dog town is thriving just below the surface. It is early June and the young are beginning to emerge from their burrows.
Ariana, a young female prairie dog , was trying to wake her friend, Jess, for a morning adventure.
"Come on Jess. There are things today and places to go," she whispered. "The Mothers are sleeping; they won't even notice we are gone."
Jess squealed, waking up. "We can't go without telling our mothers. The Soaring Wings might take us. You know what Skipper said about them."
"Ah," sighed Ariana exasperated, "you know Skipper was just trying to scare you. There are no such things as Soarings Wings. They are just stories the Olders tell to scare us."
Jess shivered. "If you say so Ariana," she said, "but if I see any sign of Soaring Wings or even Running Fangs, I'm coming right back to Mother."
Ariana gave a silent cheer. She pulled Jess away from her mother and into the tunnels that made up their town.
When they stepped outside, they were greeted with many new sights and smells. Prairie dogs they had never seen before were running everywhere.
When it looked like the cost was clear, Ariana ventured away from the nursery entrance. She wiggled her head back and forth, trying to remember everything she had just seen.
Hess whimpered. "O-o-o-okay Ariana, I think that was enough exploring. H-h-h-how about we go back n-n-n-now." She slowly backed into the nursery tunnel.
Ariana would have none of this. She grabbed Jess by her short bushy tail and pulled her back. "We are going outside if you haven't forgotten."
With Jess trailing a little behind, the two of them made it pretty far with out anyone noticing they were out and about.
A Prey-Gatherer appeared in the tunnels in front of the pups. Ariana stifled a shout. She acted on instinct and pulled Jess into a smaller side tunnel.
"That was scary," cried Jess. "We probably should go back now."
Ariana just ignored her; she was having way to much fun to go back to their mothers. Cautiously she stuck her head out of the burrow to get a closer look at the Prey-Gatherer.
He looked a lot like her mother: bushy tail, stubby arms, dark ears, and wispy fur.
Suddenly, he let out a short choppy bark that caused Ariana to tumble back. She was surprised by the tone he was using. Her mother never said anything like that!
"Owleye," the Prey-Gatherer called out, his voice getting farther away from Ariana and Jess's hiding place. "Have you seen Sandy anywhere?"
Unable to hear the response, the two pups went back into the main tunnel. "That was so awesome!" shouted Ariana when she was sure no one else was around.
"Um...If you say so." said Jess, her voice sounding less afraid than the last time she spoke.
Ariana just laughed and picked up the pace. She felt the surface pulling her towards it. The Daytime Star was calling out to her.
Jess started running to catch up to her friend. When Ariana suddenly stopped, Jess ran straight into her.
"Oomph," she squealed. "Why did you stop, Ariana? I think I bruised mt nose!"
"Shh..." shushed Ariana. She had seen something Jess had not, the Burrow-Guards.
The strongest of the prairie dogs stood frozen outside the tow, Their eyes and ears perked for any sign of a predator. Ariana's mother had told her that they could even outrun a Running Fang if they had to.
"What is it?" whimpered Jess. "Did you see a Soaring Wing or something else that will eat us? I'm too young to be eaten!"
"Just be quiet," Ariana whispered sharply. "We are going to have to sneak past the Burrow-Guard."
Jess shook her head frantically. "We can't do that. We will get in serious trouble."
Ariana smiled at her friend. "Jess," she said sadly. "where is your sense of adventure?"
"I left it in the nursery," sighed Jess. "It is much more fun to be nice and safe."
"No," snapped Ariana. "It will be more fun under the Daytime Star. Just you watch."
Jess cowered in the corner, suddenly afraid of her friend. She looked at Ariana with her huge, innocent eyes.
Ariana once again didn't notice her friend and continued to look for a way past the Burrow-Guard. Then an idea suddenly came to her.
"Jess," whispered Ariana. "I want you to ask the Burrow-Guard where your mother is. He will have to show you back to the nursery, and I will be free."
"You can't go without me," cried Jess. "you could get eaten or something like that." Tears were streaming down her face.
"I'm so sos so sorry," apologized Ariana. She huddled against her friend and tried to think of another way to see the Daytime Star.
They heard a loud yip coming from one of the tunnels. "Sandy," the voice cried out. "Get back here right now."
The Burrow-Guard left his post to chase down the loud prairie dog that had disturbed the peace of the town.
"Awesome," shouted Ariana. "Let's go now Jess. We could never get another chance like this." So Jess swallowed her sniffles and scurried after Ariana.
When they reached outside, they were spellbound by what they saw. The Daytime Star was gigantic and very bright. There were bushes about their height and others that seemed to touch the Daytime Star they were so tall.
Little Jess stood with her mouth wide open. Her eyes were taking in everything around her. To her, time had just stood still.
Ariana was a bit more active. She was running and jumping all around. She plowed onto a small green plant and ended up with prickles all over her.
"Ouch!" Shouted Ariana. She rolled around trying to pry them out somehow.
Jess slouched over in a fit of giggles. "You are so funny, Ariana."
"Stop laughing and help me!" cried Ariana. The needles were digging into her fur and were really starting to hurt.
Jess suddenly stopped laughing and looked frightened. "I'm sorry I was laughing at you. I'll help you." She walked over to her friend and used her teeth to pull out the needles.
When they were all out, Ariana let out a relieved sigh. "Oh my gosh, that feels so much better."
With one in her teeth, Jess started to poke Ariana with the needles like she would the dried grass in their burrow.
Ariana leaped back and gripped on of the needles that had already been discarded. She gripped it between her teeth and copied what Jess was doing.
The two friends ran around, swiping their needles at each other. Jess felt freer than she had ever felt before. Ariana was having a blast as the wind ruffled her short fur.
The two were so caught up in their little game that they didn't notice the danger stalking down on them.
Matt lifted his nose to the air trying to scent out his next meal. His mate, Tara, sat next to him doing the same.
It had been a while since either had eaten, and they were looking for a tasty snack to quench their hunger. His stomach growled in anticipation.
Tara's eyes were filled with hunger. "Matt, I think I smell some young Burrowers down there. It is making my mouth water just thinking about it."
Now that he paid closer attention, Matt could smell it too. The faint scent of blood rose from them and drifted into his nose.
"I also think one is injured," spoke Tara. "That is an easier catch for us."
Matt nodded and crouched down. He whispered his plan to Tara when she had followed suit. "I want you to go around them, and I will lure them to you."
Tara didn't say a word, but just waggled her tail to show she understood. She was taking no chances with this prey.
The coyotes slunk across the prairie, not making a sound with any of the steps they took. Their prey would never know they were there until it was too late.
When the two small Burrowers came into view, Tara slunk away from her mate. Focusing her attention on the prey, she noticed they were this year's newlings. "What an easy catch!" she thought to herself.
Matt hadn't yet seen they prey, but he could smell them. And what a delicious scent it was; it smelled out blood and meat.
Adrenaline coursed through his veins causing his heart to beat faster. His tongue dangled out of his mouth.
Jess freaked when she heard the howl of a Running Fang. She dropped her needle and scrambled over to Ariana. "That sounded very close." whimpered Jess.
Ariana didn't have the strength to calm Jess; she was quaking in her paws too.
"What do we do, what do we do?" hyperventilated Jess. Her little heart was going haywire. "I knew we should have stayed in the nursery when we had the chance."
Jess's whining voice vibrated in Ariana's ears. She knew she had to get away, but how would that be possible?
She was given no time to think when a male Running Fang broke through the scarce vegetation. Its gigantic paws shook the earth with each powerful step.
"Run!" cried out Ariana, her voice drenched with fear. She could imagine the sharp teeth cutting into her soft pelt.
Jess didn't need to be told twice. She was quickly behind Ariana and easily matched her pace.
It didn't matter how fast they ran, the lone wolf was easily gaining on them. "Faster!" cried out a desperate Ariana.
Matt burst out through the small bushes. He easily covered half they ground in one powerful leap.
He caught the eyes of the newling Burrowers. They were filled with fear and desperation. Their fear scent filled him with unknown amounts of energy.
They paused a split second before turning and running, directly where Tara was hiding. Matt let out a victorious howl; the prey was theirs.
He split from his original path to loop around to where Tara was. His job of starting the chase was finished. All he needed to do now was help his mate catch them.
Their little paws were no match for his. He was quickly catching up and passing them. Tara smiled as he passed her to get in position a little further down.
Tara stood completely still even as her mate flew past her. The newlings were getting closer and soon they would be hers.
She was envisioning snapping their little bones in her string jaws when suddenly their scent disappeared. Instead of getting stronger, it was getting weaker.
She moved from her position to check out this phenomenon. Matt shadowed her movement.
"Where did they go?" howled Matt. "I could have sworn they were here a second ago."
Tara had no answer for him. She was just as confused. Where had the little Burrowers gone? She had almost tasted them, they were so close.
Matt growled his displeasure and wandered off with Tara on his heels. The tow would have to spend another full day hunting if they wanted to eat today.
Ariana couldn't slow down her breathing. Her lungs were still burning from her short but intense sprint.
Jess was literally in hysteria. "I can't believe how lucky we are. We have the most amazing luck. If there wasn't a tunnel entrance, we would be Running Fang food right now." she was rambling.
All Ariana could do was nod and smile. She could still see the glistening fangs bitting into her neck. It still seemed all to real to her.
For the first time today, it was Jess who had to force Ariana into movement. The scared prairie dog was anxious to get back to her mother. "Ariana, we have to go." she begged of her friend. "Our mothers will be so worried. They must have woken up by now."
That definitely snapped Ariana back to the real world. "We have to get going," she shouted and was on her way. She hadn't thought about their mothers since they had left the nursery.
Jess was once again scrambling to keep up. She had to push the thought of running away from Running Fangs out of her head.
It was getting late in the evening when Ariana and Jess finally reached their burrow. The Burrow-Guard let out a loud whistle when she saw them.
"Dust," she called out. "I found the two pups that ran away earlier toady."
Dust and the female prairie dog sprinted over to Jess and Ariana and proceeded to pick them up. Jess let out a small sigh; she was finally safe.
Ariana wiggled under her grip. She wasn't ready to give up her newfound freedom. She loved the feeling of the Daytime Star on her pelt.
"Stop moving," snapped the female Burrow-Guard that had originally found them. "You guys are in enough trouble already."
Ariana just looked at her and stopped moving. Maybe if she cooperated, she wouldn't have to spend the rest of her life in the nursery.
The tunnels seemed dark and damp compared to the world above. Jess was perfectly fine with it.
Their mothers ran out to greet them, smothering them in their arms and not letting them go.
"I feared the worse!" cried Jess's mother, crying into her daughters fur. "We thought the Soaring Wings had taken you guys."
Ariana's mother was a little calmer. She just looked her daughter in the eyes and said calmly, "Never do that again."
Seeing their mothers like that, the two pups promised they would never do that again.
Hearing the sincerity in their voices, their mothers forgave them but held them tightly as they slept.
** I would love for some reviews if you read my story. They really make my day.**