by M. L. Cooke
A young wolf finds himself lost and alone in a vast world full of unfamiliar things.
| The first thing I learned was that my name was bear. I also learned that bears, not me of course, were dangerous, and how I should react if I ever came across one in the wild. I learned a lot of things while I was a puppy, like how to swim, and how to hunt small animals. I learned how to run and jump into a rabbit hole, and how to bring down a deer.|
One day I went walking in the forest. The sun was shining through the leaves and onto the little stream that trickled through the dense undergrowth. The birds were chirping. There was a slight breeze. I saw a hare and, seeing that I had scared it, and it was running away, I chased it. I don’t know why, but I did. I wasn’t even hungry. My aunt told me it was called instinct, but I thought there was more to it than that. I ran and ran trying to tire the hare out. I eventually caught it and ate it, bones and all.
I looked around me for the first time and I saw that I was by a small pond. The sun was setting and the crickets were making quite the ruckus. I looked over the pond and saw a small creature that looked like a deer on the other side. I swam across, jumped up on the bank, and shook off all the water. When I stopped shaking I looked up and what I saw was not a deer but a giant moose! I learned that day that the farther away something is the smaller it may seem. I ran back to the pack, and the older wolves ran to take down the moose that charged at me. We ate well that night.
One morning I felt compelled to return to the pond where I had seen the moose. I bounced along the path, as the sun was rising. This morning was colder than the last; another sign that winter was fast approaching. The leaves on the wild blue huckleberry bushes were dripping with dew that stuck to my coat when I brushed past them. I walked to the edge of the pond, but I did not dare go in. I would freeze to death almost immediately.
I saw a mouse at the edge, and I thought about scaring it to make it fall into the pond, but then I thought of what I would think of the mouse if the mouse had scared me, so I didn’t. Instead I ate it whole. I did this because a mouse can not possibly think about eating a wolf whole.
The sun was setting and I started heading home. I was halfway there when I started to pick up a scent that was all too familiar. A bear was near. I raced home as fast as my legs would carry me. I stumbled into the clearing and saw no one. I ran around in the forest surrounding the knoll that was in the center of the clearing, and I searched the small cave that was the den. No one. Not a soul. I was wondering what could have done this, when it happened. I heard a growling noise in the woods and I ran towards it thinking it was a wolf, but I was wrong. A giant bear stood over me. It roared. I ran. It started to run after me. Everything was a blur after that. It caught up with me. I bit it in the neck, it slashed my shoulder, I bit it again. I jumped on its back and bit it’s neck one more time, finally killing it. With a huge roar it sent me flying into the woods. I hit a tree and fell into a pile of pine needles. I saw it crash to the ground before I blacked out.
I woke up as the moon was setting. I got up and limped over to the bear that now lay motionless, asleep forever. I looked around and tried to remember what had happened. Then it hit me. I was alone. Barely fourteen years old and already alone. Destined to be a lone wolf for the rest of my life. But what if I didn’t want to be alone, what if I wanted to be part of a pack. None of that mattered now. I panicked and started to run in circles. I didn’t get very far when I suddenly realized that I didn’t feel sad, or frightened. I was furious. So mad that I scratched a tree down to the heartwood. Then I jumped at it. It fell over. I stepped back breathing hard. I still felt outraged. I tried to knock over another tree, but I looked over my shoulder and saw a beaver staring at me so I stopped, snarled at the beaver who was backing away, and walked off to sulk.
I walked back to the den and looked back at the bear. I wanted to spit at it but wolves can’t spit. I kicked dirt at it instead. As I wandered back to the pond I heard another bear. I ran. There was no way another bear was going to get me. I was going to have a different future than all those other wolves. I wouldn’t allow myself to have the same fate.
I arrived at the pond at dusk, wanting to be with another wolf. I was only a mile away from the den where the bear rotted, but I was already homesick. I howled. Long and mournful into the night. I heard the cheerful sound of the crickets chirping. I would usually chase them around the pond, sneaking up on them through the grass. But now I just wanted it to stop. Bullfrogs battled for a spot in the chorus, getting louder and louder. I curled up in the grass making a bed out of the leaves of strawberry plants.
I woke up on my back, facing the tranquil blue sky. The clouds were light and fluffy, like cotton fluff. I rolled over, shook the sleep from my eyes, and slowly crawled towards the pond. Then it hit me again. I was alone. I peered into the pond and saw the face of a lone wolf. I ran from the pond and the only evidence that I was the only one. I ran up a steep incline, climbed up a small cliff, and ran through the valley, wondering where it was going to let out. I reached the top of the mountain at the end of the valley and saw a vast land. One way there was forest as far as the eye could see, the other way there was a large plain with yet more forest at its edge. Directly in front of me was the tallest mountain I had ever seen. Us wolves had only ever seen it’s peak, and that was on clear days. It was at least eight miles high. I prefered the forest, so I galloped to it.
Through the fields I leaped. Up and down, up and down. I trampled a lot of flowers on the way, and I can’t lie, most of them I killed. The rabbits scattered when I came thundering by, bouncing through the prairie grass, ears flapping in the wind. The forest was closer now, I couldn’t see anything in the forest, just the first layer of trees and some bushes. I noticed the smell of moose, telling me that they had passed by here not too long ago. I began to walk, conserving my energy. There was also a strange scent that I couldn’t put my paw on. Only later did I realize what it was.
Once I reached the forest's edge, I immediately saw the large tracks of a herd of moose that were most likely migrating to some sort of pond deep in the woods. The tracks were unusually large but I was too excited to notice. I was determined to find that pond. I stepped into the darkness of the woods caused by the canopy that covered the ground in leafy shadows. It was eerily silent. No sound protruded from the darkness, not a peep. The frogs were not croaking, the birds were not singing, and most disturbing of all was that there was no snapping of twigs. I could sense no movement.
About a mile into the blackness I heard a small squeak from a mouse. The first sound I had heard since I had walked into the woods. I then heard a loud, shrill squeak accompanied by a deafening screech. I suddenly realized why I could not see the top of the trees and why there was supposedly no other presence in the dark forest, which is what I decided to call it. The screech had come from a barn owl, but one much, much bigger. The trees were also unusually tall, which is why I could not see the bottom of the canopy. The trees acted like a giant bird cage. My hackles raised, I growled. My great great grandfather was killed by an especially aggressive owl, or so I heard, but that one was regular size. This one was at least six feet tall! I could see it’s silhouette against the blackish background. It was feasting on a rather large mouse. I looked around, my eyes finally adjusting to the darkness. I could see silhouettes of animals everywhere, but they were all huge!
I felt a presence behind me. I turned around slowly, and I saw a ginormous fox three times larger than me. It growled then yelped and tried to pounce on me but I was too fast for its giant claws. It got up out of the dirt and ran after me, soon the owl joined the chase and it picked me up in its claws. It soared through the giant tree trunks weaving this way and that. It eventually came to a stop in front of an extremely tall tree that had a hole in the bark. The hole went through to only the center of the tree, but it was very large. It dropped me in the corner of the hole. I cowered at the hugeness of the owl. It screeched and at the call another owl came to the doorway and screeched a reply.
I decided to try and get out, so I snuck to the doorway and looked down and saw a one hundred foot drop. I stumbled and fell but the first owl caught me just in time. It placed me back in the corner. I would have tried to escape again but I was too shaken to move. I was afraid the owls would eat me, which is no fear any wolf should have, so I didn’t fall asleep until the owls disappeared.
When I woke up the owls were perched high above me on a branch that hadn’t been there last night. I tried to get up quietly but one owl heard me and it swooped down, grabbed me, and flew out of the hollow towards the ground. It dropped me about three feet from the forest floor, then flew off into the night, or at least I thought it was night. I continued on through the darkness, going in wide circles between the different giants. I didn’t see another owl but I could smell them. Either they were everywhere or they were following me.
☁ ☁ ☁
This was it. I could see the light at the edge of the forest. I had not seen, smelled, or heard any more animals, other than the owls, since yesterday. I was only a half-mile away now. The darkness had been maddening. Not one speck of light penetrated the thick and numerous needles of the giant conifer trees. I broke into a gallop as I ran towards the edge of the Dark Forest. Closer, closer. I crashed through the brush knowing that it was over. Then I looked around me. I was only about three miles away from the foot of the mountain and a small stream trickled beside me flowing out of the forest. How I did not hear it in the forest, I did not know. The mountain was bigger than I had thought. Now that I saw it, it was more like ten miles high. I saw mountain goats climbing the hillsides, and bears clamouring around in the snow around the peak.
I heard something behind me. I turned around just in time to see a bear charging at me. This brown bear was ginormous. Larger than two of the foxes in the dark forest combined. I was frozen in place by a fear like no other. I could not turn my head to see a giant owl burst through the treetops high above. Nor did I see the owl dive down. All I saw was a blur as the owl struck the bear with a force strong enough to kill a full grown moose. The owl ripped the bear to shreds with a mighty thrust of its talons. I was glad that I did not make the owl angry when I had tried to escape or a bone pile would be all that was left of me. Maybe not even that.
The owl screeched and five more owls crashed through the bushes. They all gathered on and around the dying bear. They finally managed to kill it, then they started to eat it, picking out what they wanted. I was rather hungry myself so I tried to get some meat as well but one owl turned its head around, as owls do, and screeched in my face. I stumbled backwards and I fell into the stream. The owls turned to look at me, their mocking eyes staring into my soul. They ruffled their feathers. It looked like they were laughing at me. Once I was out of the little ditch that the stream was flowing through I looked at what the owls were doing. They had begun to eat the bear.
That night all the owls had finished their feast and had flown silently back to the forest. I snuck up to the bear and saw that there was nothing left but a pile of bones. Every single bone picked clean, not a single scrap of meat left on them. I scavenged around for anything that could be edible but all I found were two small field mice. I ate them whole. It was not very satisfying.
There was a full moon that night, and I howled. Wolves howl because they are sad, because of the sorrow their ancestors suffered. That is exactly why I howled. Because of what my pack went through, and because of what I went through. After the moon went behind a cloud I curled up and slept.
In the morning, the sun was sparkling over the frozen wasteland. Overnight it had frozen, blanketing the world in white snowdrifts. That was good for a visual but bad for me. I looked around and saw a column of smoke rising up from the other side of the mountain. Smoke means fire, and fire means heat, and heat was something that I needed. I followed the smokey trail not thinking clearly. My mind was clouded like the sky.
Morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon turned to evening. I was only about a fourth of the way up the mountain when the sun dropped below the horizon. I stopped, dug a hole, curled up, and tried to fall asleep in the blinding cold. I managed to drift off, but woke up again countless times during the night. I could not stay asleep for more than ten minutes. Even then I could stay awake afterwards for hours. A snow storm blew up from the east and I finally fell asleep lulled by the howling sounds made by the wind.
In the morning I woke up only to find that I was covered in snow. I knew which way was up because there was a faint light shining through the snow on top of me. I dug up from the snow drift that had accumulated over night and looked around wondering why the world was so white. I suddenly remembered that I had ventured into the mountains on a wild goose chase to find the source of a long gone column of smoke that I had seen. I ran at a steady pace up the mountain side watching out for the big brown bear I had seen lumbering on the top of the cliff. I later realized that I was being stupid because bears hibernate during the winter.
I tripped over something in the snow. I dug it up wondering what could be white enough to not be seen. Once it was uncovered, I saw that it was a frozen carcass of a mountain goat. I was hungry so I ate it. It was a little hard to chew, because it was frozen solid, but I managed.
I trotted up to the summit where I could see everything. The wintery scene in front of me was bright and spacious, not black and uninviting like in the dark forest. There was a little river trickling from a mountain stream to the ocean about five miles away. Ahh the ocean! A blue expanse that stretched for miles around! There was a small lagoon with light tropical water but the rest was the deep blue colour that wolves had always wanted to see. There were white caps out in the more open areas indicating that a storm was coming. To my right there was a small snow covered meadow with herds of wild sheep huddling in white fluffy balls. They looked delicious. Little lambs bounced around in the middle of the clearing not afraid of the snow and ice. It was absolutely wonderful.
The sun was just starting to set and I could see another small column of smoke rising out of the forest on the other side of the mountain. I started after it howling with delight. My feet stumbled and I tripped sending me rolling down the steep decline. About thirty yards down I hit a rock jutting out of the snow and I let out a sharp yelp. Shortly after I heard a low rumbling sound like thunder. Seconds later I saw what was making the noise, and it was not lightning. There was a long white wall heading straight for me. I realized that it was a twenty foot wave of snow. I shot up from where I was laying and began to run down the mountain side. It was no use. I kept on tripping and falling ten feet before I found my footing and started to run again.
The wall caught up with me and rammed me with a force of one-thousand moose all charging at once. I felt a blinding pain in my front right leg and an extreme coldness everywhere else. I was buried. Trapped. I could not get out. There was no telling which way was up this time. It was cold and dark under the snow. I could not see a thing. I was running out of air. I couldn’t feel my legs, except for the one that was broken. I lay my head down in the snow, and drifted off to sleep. I was happiest when I was asleep. So why not die happy.
I woke up in the corner of a small cave. There was a fire lit just outside making fiery shadows dance on the walls. I was wrapped in a deer skin pelt that was warm and comfortable. I wanted to stay in this dream forever, but it would not last. A shadowy figure emerged from the darkness. It took off something that I would have identified as its fur, and sat down in front of the fire blocking the heat. I didn’t know what it was, but I could smell that it was male.
He stayed there for at least half an hour then he got up and came over to me. He sat beside me and started to stroke my fur. I enjoyed that to some extent. Then, to my surprise, he spoke to me in a soft voice. “Poor boy. You probably don’t know where you are! I thought I saw a tail sticking out of the snow after that avalanche.” I didn’t know what an avalanche was but it sounded dangerous.
I looked up at him, the first thing I noticed was that he had blue eyes. Like a wolf, but not as fierce and anger driven. They were like a deer’s eyes, cool, friendly, and kind. Of course, right before you kill it that is. I also noticed that the only fur he had was on his head! It was brown and about at a medium length. I don’t know if I even have to say it but, he was definitely not a wolf.
“You aren’t a wolf,” I said. He stared at me for a few seconds.
“...You can talk!?!” He asked.
“Yes” I replied
“...And you understand me!?”
“...And I can understand you?”
“Can all wolves talk?!”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Okay then, what’s your name?”
“That’s most odd... especially for a wolf”.
“Oh.” I had no idea that it was odd.
“Gunner, why did you take your fur off?”
His laugh echoed in the cave and became almost too loud. “You mean my coat? Ha! That’s not fur!”
“What’s the purpose of it then?”
“To keep me warm.”
“You don’t have fur!”
“… No… No I… No.”
“Because I don’t need it. Humans wear clothes instead.”
“Your “clothes” don’t keep you warm enough if you must sit by the fire every now and then, you need fur to keep you warm whenever.”
The argument could have gone on longer but I was starting to get uncomfortable where I was lying. I tried to move but he held me down.
"I don't want you to hurt yourself more. Stay here." He said firmly. I stayed. In the morning I woke up hungry. I found Gunner asleep next to me. I slapped him with my tail and he woke up with a start. He checked me over and went to go get breakfast. I lay there quite bored for over an hour.
When Gunner came back he brought with him a large deer and a few rabbits. He cooked some of the venison over a fire, he gave the rabbits to me. To my disliking he didn’t give me any deer. Everything else went into leather bags and was set in a small nook up high where only Gunner could reach. I ate ravenously. “I don't want you to go out into the wild yet. I don't think you're ready, so tomorrow you're coming home with me. I live in the village.” He said.
“Whats a village?” I asked.
What Gunner said was a “village” was too busy for me. People pulling boxes on wheels, monkeys dancing along to melodies coming out of a box with a stick that you crank, and odd foods sold out of, you guessed it, boxes. I didn’t know why they loved boxes so much! These humans were completely mad compared to Gunner. When we passed by people in the street they would greet Gunner like one of their own and then spit at me. I smiled when they did that thinking it was some sort of greeting, but I got the gesture when someone Gunner greeted as Nolson kicked me when Gunners back was turned, and he was distracted while trying to sell the deer meat to someone with a very big knife.
We walked into what Gunner called a “house” that was quite small compared to the other ones in the village. There were shelves with jars of unknown substances lining the walls, including where the clear-holes-in-the-walls were, I didn’t know what a window was then, casting an eerie glow in the room. Gunner knocked on the wooden counter three times and a thin, young man emerged from behind a curtain. Gunner greeted him and the man invited him into the back room behind the curtain. Gunner motioned for me to follow him. Once we were all in the back room the man greeted me with a pat on the head. I licked his hand. He then said,
“Where have you been? I’ve been waiting all day for you.” The man said. He had a weird accent.
“In the village, in the woods, shopping, everywhere really.”
“Well I’ve been waiting too long. It isn't safe round here anymore.” He motioned to me and said in a clearer, more sarcastic voice. “Why… do you have a dog in here? And shopping's a girlish term.”
“He’s not a dog. He’s a wolf. And what else would I call it. Gathering supplies?”
“Yup, that’s exactly what you'd call it. I guess you could keep the wolf if it doesn’t bite.”
“This is my little brother, Aaron. He likes to control everyone.”
“I have figured that out by now. He talks funny.”
“Yes, I suppose he does.”
“Cedar's gonna be waiting for us, you know”.
“Yes, I know”
Aaron and Gunner walked out the door. I followed silently watching out for anyone that might try to kill me. We arrived at a small run down house at the edge of the village. So many new words, House? village? Who came up with these?!? We entered the house and a small girl about nine or ten ran out of a room on the right.
“Your home! And you brought a dog!”
“He’s Not a dog, he’s a wolf. His name’s Bear” Gunner replied.
“Will Bear eat me?”
“I don’t think he can.”
“Oh, okay. Then can I pet him?”
“Okay... Can I pet you?” She asked me.
“Yes, I think you can pet me, and you may,” I told her. She looked startled.
“If I had been any younger I would have thought all animals could do that, but I already know for a fact that that is something wolves are not supposed to do.” She said disbelievingly.
“But I do. And there is no other explanation for it other than magic.” I said. Surprisingly, she seemed satisfied by that.
She asked Gunner, “Did you bring any jerky back?”
Gunner handed her a dried piece of deer and she ran off to eat it. ‘What an odd person…’ I thought.
We walked out the door, and into the street. I had no idea where we were going but I trusted Gunner so I followed him. He was leading us towards a large shop. Another weird word, “Shop”. Once I entered the shop, I immediately knew something was wrong. The person behind the counter looked up from sharpening his knife. I recognized him as the guy Gunner sold the deer to.
“Can I help you?”
“I was wondering if you had any rabbits?”Gunner asked.
“Nope sold out yesterday. What for?”
“That doesn’t look like any dog I’ve seen.” The man said. Aaron muttered something under his breath about how wolves don’t like to be in tight spaces.
“Okay, sorry to bother you sir. Will you tell me when you get more?”
After we exited the shop I could see people whispering to each other and closing their shutters and doors when me and Gunners walked by. I thought I knew why too... Whenever someone would get close to me I would growl just to watch them back away. We walked back to the house with the little girl Aaron called Cedar.
Almost immediately after we walked through the door Cedar came running out of the same room that I was beginning to suspect was her bedroom, on the right, and hugged Gunner.
“The governor says that Bear must go! He says that wild wolves are not safe. And that if you don’t get rid of him today then he will throw you in prison or worse!”
“What could be worse than prison”.
“Death by hanging.” She said matter-of-factly. Gunners eyes grew wide.
“He wouldn’t dare”.
“Yes, he would!”
“All because of one wolf!”
“He says that one wolf will attract more. Please just return him to the wild!”
“No I will not! If I can not have my wolf then I might as well not be free! Also he isn’t wild! He can talk! What wild wolf can do that! This is stupid!”
“All of them,” I said.
“Oh, be quiet, you aren't helping.”
“He is coming tonight to personally make sure that you have returned him to the wild!”
“This is a real low point in his career…” Aaron muttered.
“Just let him go!”
“No. Let him come.”
Gunner set out a bowl of water and a blanket next to the fireplace for me. I quickly fell asleep. At about midnight Gunner woke me up saying, “hide”. I jumped up at the sound of knocking and ran into Cedars bedroom. Because of my leg I could not get into the tight, hard to find spaces so I dove under the bed. I could hear an exchange of words, calm at first then it quickly escalated into a full on argument. Then the shouting started. I heard a scuffle, I heard Aaron yell, a scream that, hopefully, came from Cedar, then I heard the door open and footsteps began to echo towards me.
First the governor ransacked the closet then he came to the bed. He threw off the covers then looked under the bed straight at me. “There you are. You little rat! Come on! " He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and yanked me out from under the bed. He wrapped a scarf around my muzzle so I wouldn’t bite, then he dragged me out of the room. Gunner watched him cooly from the other side of the house. Aaron was standing between Cedar and the governor. She was breathing quickly.
"All this because of one wolf." She said quietly.
"I'm surprised Cedar! I'd suspect that you out of everyone should know the rules. You can't bring a wolf or animal into the village unless it’s already dead or you have permission. And Gunner does not have permission."
"We could let it go now!" She said a little louder.
"I already gave Gunner one chance! And He didn't take it!" He dragged me outside, and handed me over to a person that looked very familiar… Nolson! Nolson betrayed us! I snarled and watched his face turn from smugness to fear. Satisfied, I started to struggle. Maybe I could slip out of his grasp… I did not succeed. He threw me into the back of a cart, another weird word, and tied me up. I struggled and struggled but I could not get out. Once again I was trapped. Gunner was shoved in after me. He sat down in the corner.
“That man jumps to horrible conclusions.”
“I know. He’s always done that. He made one kid kill his pet mouse, because it could have had rabies.”
“This is all happening because you did not get rid of me.” I said.
“I would never get rid of you.”
I did not sleep that night. Because I was afraid that they were going to take me away. Take me away, never to see Gunner again. That was why I howled. I howled and howled until someone came to tell me to shut up, and even then I howled. Nolson didn’t come back though. Not until the fourth day.
“Nolson, we were friends. Why would you do this!” Said Gunner.
“Because I was forced to! The governor threatened me and my family!” Nolson replied.
“Okay, I’m sorry, but that is kind of hard to believe. What family? Your aunt? You could have tried to stop it, you know.”
“I did … I did. I’m sorry.” Nolson replied.
“No… you didn’t. You watch too many plays.” Gunner said.
“Once again, sorry. This is for my family.”
“Nope, still don’t believe you. Change your ways! Did the governor give you a script to read?”
"Why are you making everything I say a joke! Fine! I'll try! I'll try. Just, make your mutt stop barking!" Nolson yelled. I stopped barking. "Good! I'll be back tomorrow if I find a way. If not then too bad!"
"Great! Don’t forget to watch fewer plays and go into the woods more often! Your over-dramatic character will change completely!" Gunner said lightly. Nelson sighed before walking away.
The next day Nolson came back. I began to bark. I still didn't trust him. "Shh! I'm here to get you out! Quit barking!" He unlocked the door.
"Did you go into the woods?”
“Would you quit with the woods already!”
I bolted out of the cell, past Nolson, and out the door that Nolson had opened. Even when we were around the corner, I ducked into an alleyway. Gunner sat on a crate that was left there by someone selling fruit.
"How are we going to get away from the people?" I asked. I wasn't very good at coming up with plans.
"We could... sneak along the fence until we come to a gate?"
"What if we come across people and there are no more places to hide?" I inquired.
"Hmm... we could steal a cart and drive it recklessly through the streets! " He said sarcastically.
"I liked your last idea better, so let's do it." I said.
☁ ☁ ☁
When I woke up I was lying on the blanket in front of the fireplace. At first I was confused. After spending four days in a dank prison cell, where there were more mice than people, lying on the blanket was a surprise that was very much welcome. The escape plan had gone as planned, except for the end. A person had walked around the corner and we had to climb over the wall. Gunner fell off the top and twisted his ankle, so I had to support him the whole way. Once we had entered the house, I collapsed from exhaustion.
Gunner called me from the kitchen, another weird word that I quickly got used to because of the food there, so I got up and walked over to him. He tossed me a few scraps of deer meat. We were just about to go out because the butcher, for that was what the man with the knife was called, had said that he had rabbits, when a roar rang out among shouts and screams. I immediately knew what it was… a bear. What was a bear doing in the village? Had someone snuck it inside? Did it knock down a piece of the wall?
I jumped up and ran to the door, Gunner ran out of a room somewhere and I followed. “You have got to be kidding! What is it with that bear and the gate! I fixed that gate two weeks ago! Well, I didn’t finish it. But if I had not been in jail then this would have not happened. I would have finished and this blasted bear would not have intruded again!” Gunner said. The bear sniffed then turned his bloody muzzle towards us. His eyes were blood red to go along with its teeth. He roared again and charged.
I let out a blood curdling howl and charged aiming for the throat. I could hear Gunner yelling “Come back!” behind me. When I came within range I jumped. The bear reared up unexpectedly and knocked me aside like a dead branch. I flew through the air and landed hard on my back.
“Why does he have to be so ginormous?” I said under my breath. I quickly turned over to charge again but was stopped in my tracks. The bear retreated into the woods. Did I scare him? Had he had enough? I didn’t know. I followed him into the shadow of leaves determined to kill him. Not for revenge, just to kill. I am a wolf after all.
I tracked it through the forest with Gunner at my heels yelling, “Come back!”. The bear started to panic, and there was nothing more dangerous than a panicky bear. He ran into a cliff with thick forest on either side. He searched for an escape route but found none. He was trapped. I was closing in on him. Then he lashed out with no other choice but to kill or be killed. We were rolling about on the ground for what seemed like ages. I gave the bear quite a lot of damage, I bit his tail and one of his ears off, I also made two of his teeth fall out. But he had done the same to me, I was also missing a tooth and the first three inches of my tail, most of it was fur but it still hurt.
I then gave him a very large gash on his neck. This made him go wild. He scratched at my eye. I fell to the ground with a howl. I couldn’t see out of my left eye, and there was blood running down my face. I jumped up and darted to the left, then to the right, then to the left again, to confuse it. I planned to jump on his back but I jumped too late and he threw me off.
Gunner tried to do something but it was no use, he was knocked to the side like I was. The bear hit him so hard that he flew through the air and hit a tree. He slumped to the ground unconscious. I growled. The bear snarled. I charged again. He knocked me to the side again. I quickly got up so he wouldn’t get free. Now I wanted revenge. At first I had wanted to kill him simply because it was a bear, then I wasn’t trying to kill him. I was defending myself, now I was full on attacking him. It was a bear that had killed my pack, a bear that killed my parents, and a bear that had chased me here. Bears changed my life, and now I was going to end his.
I charged over and over only to be knocked down again. I was beginning to think that this wasn’t the best plan. I decided to change tactics. I started to circle around to his left side so he would circle with me. Then I saw Aaron sneaking through the trees with a bow in his hand. I abandoned that plan and began a new one. I led him over to the trees, trying to keep him as still as possible. He obviously sensed something was wrong because he charged again. I dodged his teeth just in time. He chased me around in a circle over and over again. Then he cornered me exactly where I cornered him.
He reared up preparing to crush me. His claws started to descend, but they never connected. I looked up and I suddenly saw Gunner run in front of me. The bear's claws struck him and he was flung backwards. I howled and lunged at the bear, landed on his back and tore at the back of his neck. It fell to the ground making horrible sounds. I jumped off the bear and went to go see if Gunner was alright. Aaron came up behind the bear, and shot it. He lowered the bow slowly and rushed over to where I was standing. He skidded to a halt next to Gunner. He knelt down and checked for a pulse. He was still alive, but just barely. Aaron helped him up and we went home.
Cedar opened the door. I thought she would start crying when she saw Gunner, but she was surprisingly dutiful. Aaron helped Gunner lay down. He had three nasty gashes on his side. Aaron then helped me onto the bed. I couldn’t jump up on my own. I looked up at Aaron. He was checking me over to make sure I was alright. His hands moved up my body until they came to my face. He first made sure my jaw wasn't broken, then he looked at my eye. He was as gentle as possible, but I still blacked out.
☁ ☁ ☁
I woke up two days later. Gunner was still lying next to me. His breathing was ragged. I crawled up to him and licked his face. This time, he didn’t stir. Aaron walked in and sat on the bed next to me. One look at his face, and I could tell exactly what he was thinking. And he was right. Gunner didn’t survive the night.
A few days later, I trotted outside. My vision was a bit distorted because one eye was a bit messed up and faded. Aaron was out hunting, so I followed his path being careful to stay downwind. I found him asleep against a log a bow in his hands. I barked and he woke up with a start.
"You're not a very good hunter." I said.
" No. No I'm not... Will you teach me? " He asked.
"I'm a wolf. I don't have thumbs... I can't hunt with a bow... You did shoot the bear you know."
"Yeah. I was panicked. That doesn't count. "
"I guess I could do the hunting..."
"Sure. I'll never be as good as Gunner was anyway. "
"Don't be so hard on yourself hunting's just not your thing. I'll go hunt." I trotted out into the woods. I easily took down a deer, and I dragged it back to where Aaron was sitting sharpening his knife. He looked up.
"See, I told you you're better at hunting than me."
"you may be right... Here. " I nudged the deer with my nose.
"What are we going to do with you.... " it wasn't a question but I answered anyway.
"I have no idea."
☁ ☁ ☁
Eventually Aaron did learn to hunt. He was quite good at it too! Cedar grew up and moved away with a family going overseas, and I met the wolf of my dreams. Rorie. A wolf from the Southern Plains. She’s the best! Rorie decided that she rather liked the village. After four years of wandering in the forest, she said this was quite an upgrade.