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created by Ruth Virgo:

Years ago your pet vanished without a trace. You assumed the worst, but hoped for the best. This evening they showed up at your door, scarred and battle-worn, wearing battered armor and carrying a note for you. Explain it in under 500 words.

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Homecoming
by Tiffany S. Doran

I sat by my fireplace drinking a cup of hot cocoa gazing out my window at the falling snow. I couldn't help but think of my little dog whiskers. He use to love bouncing around in the snow, picking it up with his nose and throwing it and running around frantically as I chased him back and forth. But that was years ago. It's been about 4 years since I've seen my little guy. We were out walking in the woods and a loud cracking sound broke our stride and he took off running. I tried hard to keep up with him but fell short and before I knew it, I could no longer see him or make-out his tracks in the snow. I stayed outside for hours looking for him fearing the worst that he was frozen or had fallen into the lake and met his demise.

I snap myself from that memory quickly because I could feel my nose burn and tears begin to form in my eyes.I can only hope that he found a nice warm cabin somewhere and he's well taken care of. I stood up to stoke the fire and I heard a scratching noise at the front door. I dismissed it thinking it was one of the trees branches and continued on. The scratching grew louder with a slight whimper this time. I ran to the door to see what it could be because it was such a frigid night I couldn't imagine another dog lost. Maybe I could be this one's hero.

I threw open the door and to my sheer amazement and surprise there he stood... My whiskers. He still looked the same, white fur black spots but this time he had on Armor as if he had just come from fighting a battle. He was definitely in need of a bath and lots of love but I was so glad to see him again and know he's okay! I open the door wider so he can make it inside and he went straight to the fireplace to warm up. I hugged him tightly as I said, " Boy do I ever wish you could talk and tell me your story." He reached down into his armor with his teeth and pulled out a piece of paper. "What's this little guy?" I asked. As I began to open it, he only looked at me with those loving brown eyes that I have missed so much. I sat silently as I read the note and began to laugh, "This cannot be happening." I said to myself out loud.

My handsome little Pooch had traveled years into the future to battle the war between cats and dogs and left as a highly ranked officer in the doggie Army. The note doesn't say whether they won or the cats won but I'm happy to know that my dog fought proudly. I'm even happier that my dog is now home.

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