As dawn began to break through the trees, I was beginning to become doubtful that I was going to kill anything. The morning was the best time for hunting, but the past few days, I had come up empty handed. It made me a little nervous, I was running low on meat, but I frequently reminded myself of my instincts and hunting skills. It made me feel better, but I was still antsy. The trees began to sway as a bitter morning spring breeze grazed my skin. I let out a slight shiver, but continued to hold my position in the tree…waiting for something to come.
Finally, I heard noises not far from my standing position. I was far from the ground, near the top of the tree I was standing in. The animal would never see me. It never did. I nearly broke my leg once because I made too much noise before shooting at it. The deer fled, and I landed on my side. But surprisingly, I managed to walk away unharmed. I had gone back into the tree and waited for another deer to come, and one did.
But being familiar with the sounds of nearly every animal in the Wood, this animal was unfamiliar to me. The way it shifted its balance when it walked and the heavy steps it made was peculiar. I tried to see from the tree I was in, but the animal had not come over the hill yet. The noises continued to be scattered, and I was starting to get annoyed. I was hungry and wanted food.
Finally, I saw a shape materialize from atop the hill. It had brown and black fur, with short pointy ears and a very large body frame. Its head was massive, nearly the size of a deer’s torso. As it got closer and became bigger in sight, I resolved that this creature had a head the size of a lion and a body the size of a bear. It was a wolf, no doubt. But I had never in my eight years of hunting ever seen a wolf this large.
It didn’t matter to me anyhow. Wolves weren’t good eating. I had killed one a few years back, only to have it come back up minutes after eating it. From then on out, if I ever saw a wolf, I made my presence known and would tell the horrid thing to get away. They couldn’t climb trees, so danger wasn’t a problem for me. They’re presence was, however, because they scared away the deer…by eating them.
“Get lost!” I yelled to the oversized wolf below me. It jumped, like the sound of my voice frightened it. It looked up at me through the trees and its eyes widened. The wolf was only about a fifteen foot drop from me, but I could see it as if it were fifteen inches away. It looked at me with eyes, deep yellow eyes that I had never seen on a wolf before. Usually they were brown or blue, the most common eye color for any animal really. Sometimes they were green. But this wolf’s eyes were a fluorescent yellow, bright like the sun. It terrified me, yet I couldn’t look away. I was still in the tree, but I felt like I was floating amongst the clouds. “What are you?” I asked more to myself than it. But that didn’t stop it from answering me.
The wolf shook its head, like it had just gotten out of the river and it wanted to dry off. But the wolf wasn’t wet. Then the shaking became vicious, almost violent. Finally the wolf stopped shaking its head and sunk down to the ground. I stared with my mouth gaping open. I had never seen something like this before. Something was definitely wrong with this wolf.
It lay on the ground, its head tucked beneath its front legs and paws. It cried for a few seconds, and then it cried a little louder. I was becoming frightened. If this wolf refused to leave, then I wouldn’t be able to get back to my home or be able to hunt for deer. It sounded silly, but I didn’t want to say anything to the wolf. It looked like it was in pain. I stayed in the tree for a few minutes, and then finally decided that I had to get rid of it.
“Leave!” I yelled. “I need to hunt.”
A loud ear piercing noise ripped through the air, like a firearm being shot right beside my ear. The wolf threw its massive head back and howled a howl that would be heard for miles. I covered my ears to stop the pain. I ended up losing my balance and falling out of the tree. Luckily, I realized I was falling before I hit the ground. I positioned myself so that it would hurt, but nothing would break. After falling so many times, I had learned. I hit the ground with a thud, but I crouched back on my knees like a tiger almost instantly. I had my bow in my hands and a quarrel on my back filled with arrows. I reached into it and pulled one out. If this wolf was planning to attack, I would have it dead the second it leapt for me. I put the arrow in the bow and aimed for the wolf.
The wolf had stopped howling once I hit the ground. It was in a position to attack, and I was ready. It got in its stance, and I waited for it to make the first move. Just when it was about to jump, it stopped. We were five feet from each other now. Too close for comfort, that’s for sure. I was scared, more scared than I had ever been in my entire life. But the wolf’s hesitation took the edge off a little. Why wasn’t it attacking me? I had an arrow pointed towards him. Yet, he wasn’t moving. He was just staring at me.
We stayed like that for quite some time. I was on my knees, ready to shoot an arrow through its chest. And the wolf was standing oh so very close in front of me, all of its weight on its back legs. It was ready to attack. I stopped aiming for the wolf, and actually looked at it. Its eyes were soft, though it was still baring its teeth. I wasn’t as scared as I was before.
For reasons I wasn’t sure, I lowered the bow. I got up from my knees and stood. “I won’t kill you because you’re not attacking me. Just leave and never come back. This is my territory, my forest…do you understand?” Of course it didn’t understand. It was a wolf; an animal. Animals don’t speak, at least not in English. I reasoned that I had lowered the bow so that the wolf would see that I wasn’t a threat and hoped that it would leave in peace.
The wolf cowered back slightly from its stance, and I thought it was going to attack. Yet it still remained where it stood. It cocked its head to the side, probably wondering what I was doing and why we weren’t having a faceoff anymore. I was becoming even more agitated. It felt like the wolf wanted me to kill it. I told it twice to get lost, and it didn’t.
“Please leave,” I said again. “I don’t want to kill you. You’re far too beautiful to be buried in the ground. This is your last chance. Leave now.” I hoped and prayed that the wolf would leave. I meant what I said; it was beautiful. I only killed for food, for survival. Killing this magnificent animal would do nothing for me, if anything; it would create more problems for me.
Finally the wolf sighed, like a human sigh. The wolf pulled itself back and it was now standing on its hind legs. I knew that this was the end for me. The wolf was too big, too strong to overpower. I had but a bow and arrow. I closed my eyes and fell to the ground, covering my head as the wolf stood, hoping that death would be painless and quick.
But when no pain came, I was forced to open my eyes and lower my hands. The wolf was gone. It wasn’t anywhere in sight. I got off the ground and stood up. The wolf was definitely gone. But I wasn’t alone. In place of where the wolf once stood, was a naked man.
© Copyright 2016 Nikita Mills. All rights reserved.
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