Dog's Best Friend
Bitzer cast his gaze across the field as he poured himself another welcome mug of piping hot tea. They weren't up to much at the moment since the Farmer was wandering about the grass testing out another piece of equipment that he had bought on a whim; a toy racing car would you believe it? The sheep milled about, eating grass, trying not to pay too much attention to the locomotive; basically playing dumb really. They always did that in the Farmer's presence.
Out of the corner of his eye and keeping in check a sigh that said 'he's at it again!', Bitzer watched Shaun slink away from the group, (for he could never play dumb for long), resisting the temptation to walk on two legs as he normally did; as sheep did not normally do this in the eyes of humans anyway. He wandered into the barn and making sure that the Farmer hadn't noticed him; quietly shut the heavy doors behind him.
No doubt, thought Bitzer that Shaun was going to do some tinkering of some kind; hopefully keeping himself out of mischief while the Farmer did whatever he was doing. As long as it didn't involve sneaking into the house later on some kind of mission or indeed, pinching Bitzer's video-games, Bitzer tried to ignore what Shaun was doing since most of it went over his head anyway.
He winced as he heard the sound of sawing, hoping that his master couldn't hear its whereabouts. Fortunately, some council workers nearby were busy cutting down a rotten tree thus the Farmer's suspicions could not be raised. It was also fortunate for the Flock and especially Shaun, that the Farmer was… well, not to put too fine a point on it, to put it bluntly, could be rather thick. He never noticed what the sheep could get up to. But one day, he might do…
Bitzer deeply worried about his best friend at times and this was one of those times. Shaun was extremely intelligent; there could be no doubt about that. How many other sheep pored over quantum physics books and made NASA-standard machines in their spare time from little other than scrap? He was an unappreciated genius for sure and unfortunately, it would have to stay that way.
Humans and their attitude for superiority; viewed sheep as being decidedly dumb. It was, they felt, one of those laws of nature. Now dogs, for example; dogs could be seen as intelligent. They learnt some neat tricks or helped humans with their operations and it was all "good boy, Rover" and some dog biscuits. The Famer never batted an eyelid upon seeing Bitzer make himself breakfast or something of a similar nature. He had also seen similar stuff on the TV. Horses, pigs and even chickens were applauded for skills that their owners had taught them.
But sheep? No.
Bitzer had fears at times that Shaun's intelligence would be discovered and acted upon. He could be taken to a lab where scientists did experiments. He had seen that sort of thing on TV too and they never saw the animals again or they were kept in permanent captivity. It was a cruel and terrible way to live the rest of one's life. He would not want that for Shaun; even for him it would be very difficult to plan an escape. He would never see his best friend again…
It was frustrating really and Bitzer knew that his friend was frustrated by his position even though he tried to hide it. All the things that he could do, all the desires that he had; all of life that he wanted to experience; he could never do that because of what he was and he would not be accepted for who he was.
Having finished playing about, the Farmer went inside as it had also started to rain so leaving Bitzer to his duties. The Flock stopped playing dumb now but they weren't really sure what to do today as Shaun had disappeared off somewhere and they couldn't even ride the tractor as that had gone in for repairs. Timmy's Mother took out her knitting while her offspring explored the scrap heap. Some of the others joined him, searching for something to play with; a hubcap perhaps to play with as a Frisbee.
After making sure that Shirley did not go into the vegetable patch to eat all the cabbages again; Bitzer got up from the wall and headed towards the barn where Shaun was, wondering what he was up to. He fancied a game of snooker and this time; he thought it better not to cheat. Shaun had a strong sense of fairness and justice and he did not approve of cheating. He managed to get revenge on Bitzer even though he didn't take the action himself. Ah, well. Bitzer had learnt his lesson.
He allowed the doors to swing open and was surprised to not immediately see Shaun about. Maybe he was in the back where they did the shearing except of course, he would be most likely doing some welding; goodness knows how he managed to learn that one. Goodness knows how Shaun managed to learn all of his skills. It wasn't as if the Farmer knew them after all; he didn't have the capacity to do so. Bitzer scratched his head; his friend really was quite a mystery.
He called out for Shaun; asking whether he had finished mucking about and whether he would like to have a game. He was answered by a muffled sob.
Bitzer blinked at this most unusual and somehow, disturbing sound. This couldn't have been Shaun; his happy, charismatic and mischievous friend; always larking about? Could it? Nah. He must have been hearing things.
But again, he heard the sound, this time louder and more painful. Deeply concerned, Bitzer approached the direction of the sound and much to his shock, found Shaun hiding behind some bales of hay, crying to himself.
Bitzer wasn't sure of what to say or do. The only time he had seen his friend cry was that time when he had to be separated from his first love, an ewe who had accidentally ended up on their farm after a slight mishap. He had refused to talk to anyone for days after that; even the Farmer had noticed how his sheep seemed to have been subdued. Love could be painful.
He sat down next to Shaun and placed a comforting arm round him; not needing to ask what was troubling him; he already knew. Frustration led to sadness which led to grief and disappointment. He let Shaun bury his face into his chest; not saying a word. He would be himself again sooner or later and the others didn't need to know.
No matter what happened; no matter what he could and could not do, Shaun knew that he always had Bitzer. And Bitzer always had Shaun.
They would be friends for as long as they lived.