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Disclaimer: The characters Miss Parker, Sydney, Jarod, Broots etc. and the fictional Centre, are all property of MTM and NBC Productions and used without permission. I'm not making any money out of this and no infringement is intended.

By Mare McMurray

The rain, the pounding of the rain. The sleek silky waves of water flowing down the windshield as he drove. The road too was sleek, wetted from the unending rain.

Jarod drove the Jeep Wrangler along the winedy mountain road, up through the labrynth of twists and turns and unstoppable rain. The pounding of rain on the roof of the jeep deafening the inside, clouding over all other sound and thought. Blackness lay ahead and beyond, to the right and the left and forever more back where hence he came.

Jarod leaned forward to see through the windshield, but all he succeeded in doing was fogging up the glass with his breath. Holding on to the stirring wheel with one hand, he wiped the windshield clear with the palm of the other. Jarod squinted to see through the darkness beyond the glass, holding his breath as to not fog up the glass once more.

Seeing only the bit of rain soaked road that the headlights illuminated, Jarod leaned back in his seat and took a deep breath.

"Like to see a sweeper team follow me out here," he muttered to himself.

Bringing one hand up to rub his eyes, Jarod tried to remember how long it had been sense he had got some sleep. Failing to do so, he brought his hand down and blinked, looking out the front windshield.

Suddenly something darted across the road, lit by the headlights but not soon enough. Jarod swerved to the right and hit the breaks. But the jeep continued to move forward, sliding on the slick mountain road.

Jarod heard a muffled thump as he hit the creature. He winced, trying not to think of what it was that he hit, but failing to do so and having his mind flooded with terrible images.

By the time the jeep came to a stop, brushing against the right dirt bank, Jarod was already leaping out the jeep door. Flashlight in hand, he searched the road, squinting in the hellish rain.

Through the drape of water, Jarod saw a dark lump on the road. As he neared, the lump became more defined and soon he could tell was it was.

The dog lay on its side, a slight whimper coming from its lips. Jarod approached it slowly, watching for sighs of aggression. But the caller around the dog’s neck gave some reassurance that the animal was tame.

Jarod crouched down beside the dog and played the beam of the flashlight along its wet brown fur. Not seeing any outward sighs of injury, he gently placed his free hand on the dog’s side, all the while watching the creature’s face.

The dog lay suprisingly still as Jarod felt for broken bones. It whimpered again as he touched its front leg. Setting the flashlight down, he gently held the dog’s head down while he searched the leg for injuries. His fingers fell on an odd part along the leg. A bruised bone. Jarod sighed in relief at knowing it was nothing more serious.

Jarod patted the dog’s head with one hand, the other finding the tags on the caller. He turned the single tag into the light of his flashlight.

"Well...Rusty, looks like you’re a little far from home." Jarod smiled, feeling the warmth of the dog’s tongue on his hand. "Luckily we’re heading the same way."

Picking up the flashlight and jamming it in his back pocket, Jarod stood over Rusty and helped her up. The dog snorted and shook her head, flinging water up in Jarod’s face. He carried her back to the jeep and allowed her to crawl inside the driver’s door. Rusty limped to the passenger seat and lay down, looking at Jarod with bright brown eyes.

Looking at the soaked inside of the jeep then at his own water logged clothes, Jarod shrugged at Rusty.

"So much for staying dry."

Rusty barked in reply and wagged her wet tail, spraying the windows so that the rain drenched out side looked no different from the splattered inside.

Jarod climbed into the jeep and shut the door. Putting the jeep in reverse, he backed away from the dirt bank and back onto the road.

Water sloshed under the tires, rain pounded on the jeep and the way ahead looked no different then it did before.
Jarod raised his eyebrows and looked at Rusty, who wagged her tail and smiled how ever dogs can smile.

With that, Jarod put the jeep into gear and once again headed off through the labyrinth of rain and road.

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