WOLFBLOOD - A Story of the Savage North

Reads: 348  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Not the gentle race dogs of today, the Northern Husky was once mostly wolf. Here is a story of those wolfdogs -- in the traditions of Jack London and the Northland Natives...

Submitted: October 17, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 17, 2013

A A A

A A A


The lone gray wolf padded through the firwoods. He stopped to sniff at a patch of icy snow in the long shadows, or rather the pellets that speckled it. His stomach gurgled. Rabbit! He had eaten well of rabbit since he had entered this valley. Soon he would eat again.

Good hunting and the discovering of new territory hid much of the young wolf’s loneliness. He missed his pack, especially his littermates. It wasn’t that he had been singled out for exile. The many new pups born this spring had made the pack too big. Discord had driven him out — perhaps to create a new pack.

Marking the patch with a squirt of urine, he searched about for fresher spoor. The only sounds were the patter of his paws on the leafmould, the whisper of a faint wind in the evergreens, the slowly moving river off to his side. He sniffed the air then dipped his head to muzzle the moist ground. He cast about through the rich aromas of rotting vegetation, mushrooms, sprouting greenery. Foosh! He had caught the hot scent of bigger game — deer!

The wolf scurried about, snuffing noisily. He stopped and stood rock-still, ears cocked for deer-sound, eyes searching the darkening forest, sensitive footpads feeling the ground for the solid thump of hoof. Deer! He was shaking with excitement. He dropped a scat, sniffed its rabbity odor. Deer! His mouth watered.

And then a new scent struck him. He almost fell back on his haunches. A new scent — a strange scent that made the savage wolf whimper.

*

Johnny Akumi saw the wolf enter the moonlit clearing and smiled. Johnny was a patient man, being of the Tikah people. He had not moved much in his cramped tree shack and did not move now. His old HBC musket was already in place and pointing down.

Ah, it was a big animal. Tall at the shoulder. A broad, intelligent face. Coat thick, dense and pure gray. Young, three years old, maybe. It carried itself with the mixed arrogance and uncertainty of youth.

The wolf entered the clearing stiff-legged. Its slanted gold eyes swept the area, looked up at the tree shack, looked straight into Johnny’s eyes. But it was only instinct that made the wolf gaze his way. Johnny was hidden in shadow. When the night breezes stirred, they wandered in from the river beyond the animal: it couldn’t catch fresh man-scent. It had been three days since Johnny had been on the ground in the clearing. And the fresh sap-smell from the fir and spruce of his rough hut would mask his scent now.

The wolf lost its caution. And turned its attention to Shossa.

Shossa was Johnny’s best lead dog. A powerful Ungava husky, cunning, cruel, her master’s dog. At two and a half years of age, she was almost as big as the wolf. She had forelegs heavily boned and muscled. Powerful thighs and hind legs. Her head was as broad as a wolf’s, with a white face and black mask around her bright blue eyes. She was chained now in the middle of the clearing. She had been there three days and the ground around her was strong with the blood-spotted urine of a bitch in heat.

Shossa didn’t cringe. She growled, her hackles raised. Good. A wolf would have killed a terrified dog outright. When the wolf crept closer, she growled savagely. At that moment she would have gone for its throat.

The trapper moved his musket just a fraction to cover the wolf.

Grinning, the timber wolf sat down.

The husky approached the stranger until she came to the end of her chain. She curled her white plumed tail over her back and wagged it. She barked once, whined.

The wolf stood up and when they sniffed noses, Johnny relaxed and watched the courtship. He had done this before. It was common practice among the People. To tie out a bitch in heat and add wolfblood to their dog teams. Shossa, he would keep this spring in the village. Maybe the Sergeant would like that. The Mounted Police complained every summer when the Tikah put their sled dogs on river islands to fend for themselves. What was wrong with that? Come winter, the toughest were always alive to pull the sleds.

And they would be all the stronger with new wolfblood in the pups.

The male and female courted through the night and when dawn was a scarlet belt beyond the coal-black conifers, the wolf made to leave. When Shossa came once more to the end of her chain, the wolf sniffed at the iron links. He pawed the chain. Bit at it. Shook it violently in his muzzle. And when he understood that Shossa was a prisoner in the clearing, the wolf was gone.

*

The gray wolf came back next evening. He carried something in his mouth — two limp rabbits — and dropped them at Shossa’s feet. The husky fell on them with ravenous ferocity while the wolf sat watching, grinning.

The courtship continued.

Ever the patient man, Johnny scarcely stirred in his tree shack. He watched until dawn came and the wolf again tore uselessly at the chains. You want her to go with you, Gray One, thought Johnny. But Shossa is her master’s dog.

The trapper watched the wolf leave. He would let them mate one last time tonight. He allowed three couplings to ensure pregnancy.

Dogs, of course, were promiscuous. She would leave with her master and not pine for the male.

Wolves, however, mated for life. The Gray One would not give up Shossa. He would search her out.

After they had coupled tonight, Johnny would kill the wolf.

*

The wolf brought a meal to her again. Just a ground squirrel this time. Game was getting scarcer.

Johnny waited. Despite some cautious exercise through the day, and tending to food and elimination, his legs were beginning to cramp on him. And sleep touched him once or twice. Pagh! He was becoming an old man.

But the whelps that he would get from Shossa would make him the envy of the village. Those whelps would be big, inquisitive. And stubborn, of course. The wolfblood would make them that. Beatings with chain and club would finish that, too. The North-West Mounted Police would chastise him again. Do not treat your animals so cruelly, they would say. Hah! What did they know? He had beaten Shossa until her coat was red with blood. Yet she was his best dog.

The trapper jumped, realized that sleep had caught him, that dawn had snuck up on him. And — the wolf was gone.

Shossa lay alone in the misty clearing. Her head rested forlornly on her paws.

Johnny cursed in the white man’s tongue. The wolf should not have left so soon. He waited. But the wolf didn’t return. When the sun was up, he stretched in the shack, snatched up his musket and climbed down to the ground.

Shossa cocked her ears at him. Otherwise she didn’t stir.

“Hai, Shossa, get up.” With his free hand, he rolled up the damp chain and unclipped it from around her neck. She didn’t move, only whined. Johnny grabbed the thick hair at the back of her neck. “Wicewin!” He kicked her sharply in the ribs. Reluctantly, she rose.

He would have to use the chain as a leash, then. She would be staked outside his cabin and when the Gray One came to claim his mate, the trapper would be waiting with his musket. He flung the chain over her back and reached down with his empty hand to clip it together to make a collar…

*

The smell of freshly killed rabbit filled the wolf’s nostrils as he rushed for the clearing. The memory of the feel and smell of his mate’s starvation tormented him and he wanted to bring her more than this. He couldn’t understand why she was trapped in the clearing. He hated the hard snake-thing that held her there.

He was in the clearing and on them before he realized that she was not alone. A strange creature stood over her. The creature had the putrid smell he had detected faintly on his mate and on the snake-thing that tied her to the ground.

The wolf dropped the rabbit and snarled at the figure that held his mate. This creature — he sensed that this was what had been watching them from the big nest in the tree. The creature made startled growlings and let go of his mate to swing up something in its other paw. With a yelp, his mate jumped away from the creature and joined the wolf.

The creature was saying something. The sounds meant nothing to him. His mate whined. She cocked her head and looked at the creature as if it were a packmate. When it spoke again, sharply, she left the wolf’s side and walked over to it, tail down.

The wolf felt alone. The creature lifted the long stick-like thing in its arms and pointed it at him. He looked into the dark hole at the end of the thing and shivered.

His mate was frightened. She barked loudly at the creature and butted its leg with her muzzle. The creature was knocked sideways. Snarling, it kicked at her. The wolf raged. He sprang at the creature. He wanted to tear out its throat. They fell to the earth together. There was a sudden great thunder and flash of fire.

“Yiii!” The wolf jumped away.

The strange thunder hopped away through the trees. There was a hissing in his ears.

The putrid-smelling creature was sitting up, making sharp sounds at him, scrambling with a paw to pick up the stick-thing that had made the awful thunder.

His mate barked, took a nip at his shoulder, then ran past him. She was free! The cold snake that kept her tied to the clearing lay lifeless on the ground.

Spinning, the wolf followed her.

They ran in terror, in freedom, eyes wide, tails out behind them.

They ran together, side by side, until they came to the river.

They stopped, lapped the water noisily, sniffed one another, licked one another. For a moment, they fell to the dank ground and panted happily.

Then the gray wolf and his mate stood up, stretched, yawned, and loped off into the firwoods.

 

THE END


© Copyright 2019 Brian Alan Burhoe. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Fantasy Short Stories