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Gothic Beauty Magazine

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Wolf - a fiction sample


The billowing clouds crowded around, coming down on the valley like the lid on a jar, blocking out the early spring sun. The trees, newly awakened, whispered among themselves as the wind rushed through, chilling everything in its path- winter’s last desperate attempt to cling to the land. Beneath the trees, snow still melted- the sun still recovering, weak and cold. The forest stretched from one side of the valley to the other, unbroken except for in the very center of the valley, at its lowest point, were the river ran through, and a few small clearings held their ground against the choke of wilderness that threatened to crush in from all sides. 
Just as the trees were awakening, so were the animals. Down from the slopes that rose high above the valley, where the distant tops of the mountains were still covered with snow, the bears came, now- the mothers keeping their new cubs close, but rushing in their hurry to eat after winter’s long fast. From the thickets and the warrens came the deer, the elk, the foxes, the coyotes, the rabbits, and the cougars.  In the river, new life had begun to spring forth. Thousands of fish eggs hatched, the fry flitting from place to place in their pools, eating everything they could find- sometimes, each other.  Proud mother Robins called from tree to tree, announcing their hatches. Summer birds were even here now, rushing in from the south for the bounty and safety the northern summer brings.
In the midst of all of this, a young wolf slunk between the trees. He picked his way quietly, hoping to avoid detection- above all else. He seemed nervous- he would stop every now and then, put down the neat bundle of dead bush rat he held in his mouth, and look back over his shoulder, turning completely around to sniff the air.  Each time he stopped, he would snatch up the rat a few seconds later and rush off, as if pursued- only to stop a few minutes later, to do the same thing. It was an odd path that he chose to take, a roundabout way far from the river that he usually avoided, for the danger of meeting up with bears. But today, he had a mission. He gave up the surveillance after a few more tries and broke into a full run, covering more ground in a few minutes than he had in most of that day. He rushed along, jumping fallen trees, dashing beneath the raised roots of pine and cedar- surprising a porcupine, who squealed in terror and ran up a tree as fast as he could. The Raven bright wing, with his one white wing, cawed and scolded him as he rushed past. The Raven held his wings high up in the air and snapped his beak at the offending, fast moving wolf.

 As he skirted the base of the mountain the wolf began to slow down. He panted past the rat in his mouth and as he came to a stream that ran down to the river he risked dropping it for a moment to grab a drink. He lay down for a second by the bubbling water and scuttled forward, soaking his chest in the freezing cold water to cool down. His winter coat was not an advantage in this weather. A sudden sound nearby in the forest sent him bounding up and he almost forgot the rat in the rush to avoid whatever animal had made the noise. As he rushed off, disappearing once again into the trees, a mother deer gently led her fawn from the forest to drink in the same stream the wolf had been enjoying. Following the stream, he rushed along- sometimes running in the stream itself to avoid the harder terrain beneath the trees. After a few more Kilometres, he slowed down and looked to the bank. He scrambled up, hauling himself without the aid of his teeth and being careful not to drop or crush his cargo. It was important- his mate, Rain would need it. He had been gone for weeks, having left when Rain was very pregnant, to hunt for food to keep himself and her alive- only returning for a few minutes at a time every few days to drop off chunks of meat for her. But it had been a long time since he had returned- and now, he had this strange thing circling his neck.  Leaf, though young was smart enough not to return home without food for her. He approached their den with his head down, not really looking at where he was going until a new and unexpected sound met his ears. He put the rat down a few feet outside the den, listening to the new sounds- his tail stiff at first, and then suddenly wagging hard. He bounced on the spot and his tongue lolled. He whirled for a second, chasing his tail around in a circle. He rushed to the mouth of the den, giving out a sharp bark. A resounding snarl was his only answer. He shook his head and grabbed the rat before he rushed into the den with his eyes bright. 

Rain snarled again, and he slowed down, looking closely at the small bundle of moving, squeaking, newly living things that lay beside her. Her ears laid back, she crouched over them protectively. Leaf knew better than to push the issue and flipped the rat from his jaws to the ground in front of her paws.  She dove on the food and tore it apart unceremoniously, taking huge gulps in her rush to eat. While she was distracted he approached the new pups, his nose down to the ground and his eyes fixed on them, almost forgetting she was even there. Their eyes were open, and they were curious about everything around them. They bundled over each other and bit each other’s ears, emitting tiny yelps and growls as they played. Rain was suddenly done and before he could get a better look, her teeth snapped only an inch from his face. He jerked back, rushing to lay on the other side of the den.  He would have to hunt again- Rain was emaciated from the effort of giving birth, giving milk, and the expanse of time she had been left with no one to bring her food.  He watched her and the pups, as the short early spring day came to a sudden end- the sun dipping down below the mountain, casting the valley into shadow- the sky still bright above. As the light faded, something suddenly caught Leaf's eye- bundled against the wall of the den and separated from the others. Leaf sprang up and rushed over to inspect the tiny bundle of fur that lay there, unmoving and cold. He whined and pawed at the body turning his head this way and that to get a better look. Rain responded with a snarl, keeping her back to the pup. Leaf lay down beside it and nudged it with his nose, whining louder. He put his head down by it, looking into the pup’s face. Sadness permeated him, and he let out a small, quiet howl of remorse. The pup was the smallest of all of them,  her mottled blue and grey fur in a turtle shell pattern across her back and a white streak down the middle of her face. He whined again, cuddling up closer to the pup. Rain was watching him, her sharp eyes missing nothing as he nudged and mourned the little pup. Out of impulse, he regurgitated for the pup, giving the nourishment that he had taken for himself in an effort to save it.

Suddenly, Streak opened her eyes. 

-This blog belongs to Horror Author Cheyenne Leo. All outside contributions are credited. Thank you for supporting Darkness Reigns.