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A puzzling mystery

“Hey, guess what?!” I nudged Mom when I saw her finally starting to stir in the morning. Then I jumped up to point my nose out the Wagon window! “We’re in the mountains!” I announced. “I thought maybe that’s what I was smelling last night, but the sun just came up and I was right! I can’t wait to explore them!” “Grumblegrumblegrumble,” grumbled Mom as she pulled a hat over the fur standing straight out from her head and got out to make the poop juice.


visited before. They liked having me so much that they had called Mom back for another visit. This trail had all our favorite mountain things in just the right amounts. It climbed to the top of the pass, but wasn’t so steep that our legs would burn off or the trail couldn’t hold on to Mom’s shoes. It started in the shady trees, crossed some lovely streams for me to drink from, and traveled along some lovely lakes that reflected the mountains and sky. Then we would climb up to the place where the whole world was made of rocks and sky. There was soft grass and bright smelling wildflowers to roll in, white dirt to wallow in, squirrels chirping in the trees and chipmunks to chase through the boulderfields. Most exciting of all, there was a mystery, but I’ll tell you about that in a minute…

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I hadn’t been hiking for too long when I smelled some delicious potato chips hiking up the trail ahead of me. Mom was carrying a big bag of brunch, but it was still early so I’d only had a few mouthfuls of kibble, and potato chips sounded like a perfect breakfast. But when I found the potato chips, they were in the paw of a giant turtle-person. “Drop those potato chips and no one gets yelled at!” I barked. “Hi, buddy!” The chip bandit turned around, and I discovered that even though it had the back of a turtle, it had the front of a woman. It held out its free paw for me to smell. “What are you, some kind of centaur?!” I shouted. “Unhand the chips, you brute!” “Well maybe if you weren’t so rude she’d give you a chip!” Mom said, coming up behind me. The mutant taunted me for a moment with a chip before finally dropping it on the ground. I saved the chip and barked one last warning at the monster before running back to Mom. “I think it’s more scared of us than we are of it,” I whispered. “If you startle it, it’ll drop chips.”



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We climbed to the top of the mountain to where the only thing not made of rock or sky was the sign that said that we were almost 12,000 feet closer to outer space, and that dogs were allowed no further. We walked past the sign to look out at the forbidden mountains spiking the sky over the National Park, and then climbed the short slope on the other side to look down at the valley we’d come from. “Let’s take a picture looking over the edge,” said Mom, who wouldn’t have been so brave if the slope hadn’t been arranged so that falling would have pushed us away from the cliff. I peeked over her shoulder. “Why are there trees and stuff down there, but nothing living up here?” I asked. “Because this is covered in snow and ice so much of the year,” Mom said. “I bet this trail has only been out from under the snow for a week or two. Nothing can live up here with all that snow.” “Except maybe a yeti,” I pointed out, thinking about the boneyard somewhere below Mom’s dangling feet.

Once we had climbed back down, far below the deer graveyard, I discovered a man and a woman sitting on a rock eating some potato chips. I ran right up to the lady-one and gave her a kiss on the face so she would pay me back with a chip in my face. “Hi! I’m Oscar! I love potato chips!” I said. “Oh, now you like me,” she said. “Yes, you seem like a very nice lady. Nothing like the LAST freak I saw carrying potato chips…” I shuddered, but then changed the subject because I didn’t want to frighten her. “Have you seen how handsome I am in my new bandana? It’s got bananas on it. It’s a banana bandana!” “You’re not nearly as scary as the deer graveyard that’s up there…” Mom said, waving her arm at the mountain. Oh great! Now my friend might be too scared to give away potato chips. “I thought it was poachers, but could it be some monster that throws deer off a cliff before eating them?” “Sasquatch!” my Friend said. “Batsquatch,” her com-man-ion corrected her. “Is Batsquatch like the 2020 version of Sasquatch?” Mom asked. “Like something scary, but way worse than you imagined?” “Yeah, he got COVID,” my Friend explained.

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By the last few miles I was too tired to chase ground squirrels or bark at monsters, so I loafed in Mom’s shadow while she poked at The Witch and listened to the stories in her ears. Suddenly, a runner came rumbling down the trail behind us. “Excuse me,” he breathed, just loud enough for Mom to hear over the ear kibbles. “Waaahhh!” Mom screamed, almost throwing The Witch into the air and jumping off the trail. This was the second time that Mom had screamed today. What a wuss! “Mom, that wasn’t Batsquatch,” I reassured her. “He was just a runner. See? Here come 2 more!” As Mom cowered in the trees so she wouldn’t get run over, I stood in the middle of the singletrack and grinned at them as they bore down me like a couple of speeding trains. “Hi, I’m Oscar. I’m a runner too. Maybe you’ve heard of me?” I grinned, as they split and one ran on each side of me. I ran after them, “Hey, do you want to hear about my banana bandana?”


Oscar the Sleuth


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