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Authors: Tim Willocks

Doglands

BOOK: Doglands
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2011 by Tim Willocks
Jacket art copyright © 2011 by Angelo Rinaldi

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Willocks, Tim.
Doglands / Tim Willocks. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Summary: Furgul, a half-greyhound puppy, escapes a cruel dogtrack owner and sets out in the hope of finding his father and the fabled Doglands, later returning to try to free his mother and the other abused dogs.
eISBN: 978-0-375-89604-0
[1. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 2. Greyhounds—Fiction. 3. Dogs—Fiction.
4. Animals—Treatment—Fiction. 5. Supernatural—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.W68368Do 2011 [Fic]—dc22   2009033328

Random House Children’s Books supports
the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v3.1

This book is dedicated to:

GRACE AMERLING for choosing FEARGAL
GRANT AMERLING for writing “FURGUL”

and

ESTHER COX for being the first to read it.

CONTENTS

The Doglands are everywhere and nowhere
Because dogs are everywhere and nowhere

They live in a world they do not rule
But sometimes
With the winds
A dog will run

This is his tale …

P
ART
O
NE
BRAVEDOG
C
HAPTER
O
NE
THE CAMP

O
nce upon a time in the Doglands, a blue greyhound gave birth to four pups in a prison camp that the dogs called Dedbone’s Hole. The blue greyhound’s name was Keeva and she named her firstborn Furgul, which in dog tongue means “the brave.” Keeva loved Furgul from the moment she saw him, but as she licked his newborn body clean and gave him her milk to drink, her heart was filled with fear. Furgul had been born with a terrible secret. And she knew that when the masters discovered his secret, they would take him away.

Dedbone’s Hole was a greyhound farm, where the masters made the rules and where no dog was free. Furgul was born in one of the whelping cages, whose floor was hard and cold and damp, but Furgul and his three sisters kept one another warm.
Keeva gave them milk and love. And for the first few weeks of their lives, the pups were happy. Yet as Furgul learned how to walk and talk, and as his eyes, nose and ears grew keen, he realized that Dedbone’s Hole was ruled by boots and teeth and chains.

Every dawn he heard the voices of the masters, harsh and angry and mean.

“Shout! Shout! Shout!” they roared. “In! Out! Here! There! Everywhere!”

Every day he heard the squeals as greyhounds were beaten down.

“This isn’t fair!” cried the greyhounds. “We haven’t done anything wrong!”

Every night he heard the murmurs of dogs who were hungry, frightened and sad.

“There is no justice here,” they whispered in the dark. “But what can we do?”

To keep her pups happy, Keeva crooned sweet songs and was always cheerful and kind, but every time he snuggled up against her body to go to sleep, Furgul could sense the hidden fear pounding inside her heart. He was too young to understand very much, but he knew that this fear was wrong. He wanted to make it go away. He wanted to make it right, but he didn’t know how.

When the pups no longer needed Keeva’s milk, they joined the other hounds in the exercise yard and Furgul got a better look at Dedbone’s Hole. A lot of greyhounds lived
here, in a compound surrounded by a high wire fence. Outside the fence he saw a junkyard and some shacks. Inside the compound the greyhounds were locked in crates—one crate each, where each hound lived all alone—which were even smaller than the whelping cage that Furgul lived in. For just one hour a day the hounds were released from the crates to feed and exercise. The masters made sure that there was never enough food for all the hounds, and so the hounds had to fight one another, snarling and biting at the filthy troughs of grub to get enough to eat. The older dogs said the masters starved the hounds on purpose to make them compete, so they could find out who was weak and who was strong and who might make a good racer. They did it to teach them that it was stupid to make friends. They did it because they were bullies who thought it was fun to feel so powerful.

When the greyhounds were a year old, the masters trained them to chase mechanical rabbits round a track. If a hound didn’t chase the fake rabbit, he or she was punished. If a greyhound was a fast runner—and a clever racer—the masters made what they called money, which they put in their pockets. If a greyhound didn’t run fast enough—if she was weak and puny, or if he wasn’t clever enough, or when they got old and slow—then the masters got rid of them.

None of the dogs knew exactly how. At least not for sure.

They just disappeared.

And they never came back.

Keeva was the fastest greyhound—and the most successful racer—any dog at Dedbone’s Hole could remember. Because her coat was blue, the masters called her Sapphire Breeze. With each day that passed, as her pups grew bigger and bigger, Furgul felt the fear inside Keeva grow too. One morning, while Keeva was watching his sisters at play, Furgul said, “Mam, why are you frightened?”

Keeva looked at him. Furgul’s coat was white. He had a wet black nose and thin black rims beneath his deep brown eyes. “You’re my firstborn,” she said. This didn’t seem important to Furgul, but it seemed to mean a lot to Keeva. Her eyes looked sad. She said, “I’m frightened because you won’t be a pup for much longer.”

“But I don’t want to be a pup,” said Furgul. “I want to be a dog.”

Keeva said, “You’ll be a big dog, but you won’t be the biggest. You’ll be strong, but you won’t be the strongest. You’ll be fast, but you won’t be the fastest. That’s why you’ll have to be the bravest.”

Furgul nodded. He didn’t think this would be too hard. None of the puppies at the feeding troughs scared him. In fact, he had learned to scare them so that his three little sisters from the litter—Nessa and Eena and Brid—could get enough food. If he hadn’t fought hard, the other pups would have gobbled up everything, and his sisters would have wasted away.

“Sure, Mam,” he said. “Whatever you say.”

“And if you’re going to escape,” said Keeva, “you’ll have to be very clever—and very lucky too.”

“Escape?” asked Furgul.

He looked at the high wire fence that surrounded the compound. Outside the fence was a junkyard full of trash and the house where the masters lived. Beyond the camp lay sweet green fields. In the distance a mountain rose toward the far blue sky. At the foot of the fence the masters had laid some very hard stuff called concrete so the dogs couldn’t dig underneath it. Worst of all, there were two bad dogs who guarded the fence for the masters. For a reward they got lots of meat—fresh, tasty red meat in their own private bowls—and they were never locked in a cage. By breed they were bullmastiffs, so the hounds called them the Bulls. The Bulls were huge and brutal and loved being mean. Even if a hound got over the fence—or so everyone said—the Bulls would tear him apart with their massive jaws.

Furgul had heard other dogs talk about escaping. It was one of their favorite fantasies. Some of them woofled about it in their sleep. But whenever escape was discussed they all agreed: It was impossible.

“But, Mam,” said Furgul, “no one’s ever escaped from Dedbone’s Hole.”

“Your father did,” said Keeva.

Furgul’s throat felt tight. Keeva and his sisters were the only family he had ever known. He’d never imagined there
was someone else. He’d never even thought about it. He swallowed. “I have a father?”

Keeva nodded. “His name is Argal.”

The name hummed through Furgul’s bones and sent a chill down his spine.

“Argal,” he said.

The very sound of it made him feel brave, so he said it again.

“Argal.”

“Not only did Argal get in here,” continued Keeva, “he got out again.”

“How?” asked Furgul.

“He hid in the pickup truck that takes us to and from the racetrack in the city.”

“Why did he do that?” asked Furgul. “I mean, why did he come here?”

“Argal just appeared one day, like a legend, like a ghost, like a vision. He saw me win a race at the track and he fell in love. He risked his life to spend one night with me.” Keeva’s eyes grew misty. “He was the fiercest, handsomest, fightingest dog I ever saw. He was crazy and fearless and wild.”

Furgul liked the sound of this. “I wish I could play with Argal so that I could learn to be wild and fearless too.”

“So do I,” said Keeva.

“Where is he?” asked Furgul.

Keeva shrugged. “Your father is like the wind. He goes wherever he chooses and he does whatever he likes.”

“Wow,” said Furgul, “he must have a really great master.”

“Argal doesn’t have a master,” said Keeva. “He’s free.”

Furgul frowned. “What does ‘free’ mean?”

“I don’t know,” said Keeva. A troubled look came over her face. “Argal tried to explain it to me—something to do with what he called the Doglands.”

“The Doglands?” Furgul felt the fur on his back stand up on end. The word sang in his blood. “What did Argal say?”

“I wasn’t really listening. I was in love.”

“Where are the Doglands?” asked Furgul.

“I don’t know that either,” said Keeva. Confusion and pain clouded her eyes. She looked out between the bars of the cage in which all five of them had to lie day and night in their own pee. She gazed out beyond the high wire fence, past the rusting heaps of trash in the yard, to the mountain on the far blue horizon. “Maybe the Doglands are somewhere out there.”

BOOK: Doglands
11.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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