The Winter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A family faces the supernatural in the woods.

Submitted: February 17, 2009

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Submitted: February 17, 2009

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The Winter by Julissa Cabrera

1

That year the winter was so cold that some of the chickens froze on the roost. The snow was so deep you could see it halfway up the windows. It seemed like true daylight would never come. What did get through the trees was so inadequate that it seemed impossible to shake the gloom. Even the animals seemed absent there was nothing but silence and snow as far as the eye could see.

The Pliney family, however, felt secure in their cozy fire lit cabin. Thomas, the father of the family, had stockpiled plenty of wood in the built in storeroom. Beth, his wife, had toiled alongside her husband all year long, tending their garden and later industriously preserving the fruits of her labor. She and her daughter Blake had pickled the surplus eggs from the chickens and they had dried the meat from her fathers hunting success that summer. All their preparations for the long winter ahead had been finished just in time for the first frost that year. Blake the Pliney’s 15 year old daughter was an accomplished knitter and had spent her spare time making blankets and warm clothing for the family from the few sheep and long haired rabbits kept by the family. She often sat at her mothers feet before the fire combing the rabbits out while daydreaming of things little girls often dream of. Her soft brown eyes looking out from her heart shaped face at something far away. The family loved the forest in witch they lived, it was true that while harsh at times, it had ultimately provided them with all they had needed. the logs for their cabin, the mud to plug up the drafts, the food that they had saved. They had worked hard since their arrival to make a life there in this new land. All in all the family felt ready for the winter ahead. What they didn’t know was that yellow eyes had been watching them from the darkness. Yellow eyes that belonged to something worse than any hard winter the had ever known, something that waited........ and planned.

2.

The doe walked carefully through the frozen forest, searching for something to ease the hunger. After digging fruitlessly in the snow she finally settled on nibbling at the dry bark on the bare trees. She reached gingerly for the lower branches her ears swiveling around listening to the silent forest. The only sound she could hear was the crackling of the ice covering the forest. She was unaware of the yellow eyes that watched her every move. As she continues to eat she starts to relax and focuses on the food. She doesn’t hear or smell the hunters as they surround her. they seem to be communicating telepathically, never even making eye contact with each other as they take their positions. Suddenly she freezes, some inner instinct has warned her of the danger. She looked into the forest and sees the enormous white wolf. she bolts away only to be met by a gray wolf. She stops in her tracks realizing that she is surrounded. The pack closes in, fangs bared, still silent. they attack her and her last scream is abruptly cut short before her body hits the ground, the wolves begin to devour her.

3.

That evening the family sat around the fire, full from their dinner. Blake sat in the floor brushing her rabbits. ”Did you hear that awful scream this morning?” she asked her father. Thomas smiled at his daughter “It was probably a deer or wild hare.” he replied. She nodded silently. She didn’t want to say anything for fear of revealing her true feelings. In truth she had felt some nameless thrill at hearing that sound. It reminded her of the of the strange dreams she had been having. In these dreams she had been running through the woods, following the moon. She could even feel the rush of cold night air filling her lungs, the swirl of scents flavoring it in her nose. She never remembered the endings of these dreams, but she knew that in them she had been going towards something. They had started in the autumn when she had seen the big white wolf. It had walked out from behind a bush making eye contact with her. It had just stood there staring. Strangely she had felt no fear, she felt as if the wolf was trying to speak to her. Even though he was a good distance from her she felt as if she could catch the earthy smell of his fur and feel his hot breath on her face. She heard whispers in her head but they were too low and fast to understand. She had closed her eyes to try to hear the voice, but it was gone and so was the wolf. She even began to doubt if she had actually seen him or if she had imagined the whole thing.

Thomas too, had been feeling strange, he had seen the wolf tracks in the woods.He wasn’t really to worried about wolves, but one set of tracks had fifth digit. In his country this was the mark of the werewolf. He had outgrown his belief in them when he reached manhood. He understood that these stories were for children, but seeing the track had awakened that uneasy feeling he kept buried deep inside. they had lived in this forest for close to six years and had never heard or had any signs of wolves. After seeing the tracks he had felt as though eyes were on him and Blake’s restless nights were no help. He could hear her tossing and turning in her bed all night, murmuring things he could not make out. He didn’t ask about it because he knew this was a difficult time in any young lady’s life. He tried to push the disturbing thoughts from his mind, gazing at the fire distractedly.

Beth watched her husband and daughter but kept silent. Her thoughts were about the future. Although Blake was of age to marry she still had hopes of giving her husband more children, she longed for a son to carryon their family name. Every night she prayed for this and for Blake to marry well. There were several suitable young men in town and while they had tried to catch her fancy she seemed to not notice them. Perhaps she was a late bloomer, maybe this spring would awaken in her the desire to start her own family. Beth couldn’t wait for the winter to be over.

4.

Several days later there was a break in the freeze and unbelievably the sunlight found it’s way through the gloom. Everybody went out side to stretch their legs and breathe some fresh air. Blake wandered a trail that was near the cabin. She closed her eyes and faced the sky. She smiled at the sunlight and she spun around in childish abandon. She didn’t hear a sound as the pack surrounded her. They closed in around her their paws falling silently on the hard ground. Suddenly she stopped and snapped her head down her eyes opened. The white wolf stood before her. It stared intently at her. She knew she should move, run, scream, something to bring her father to her. She was frozen before the beast, hypnotized by the yellow eyes. There was no sound but the beating of her heart. The wolf slowly inched toward her, it did not bare it’s teeth or growl. Blake was so focused on the white wolf that she didn’t even notice the other wolves that surrounded her. It was so close now that she could feel his hot sweet breath on her face and neck. She fell, tripping on a stray root. The wolf was standing over her now it seemed to be smiling at her. She now saw the other wolves surrounding her. The wolf lowered its muzzle slowly towards her neck. She heard a ripping sound as the wolf tore at her dress. When it was done she could feel it’s moist nose on her bare neck. She finally screamed when she felt the teeth touch her skin. The wolf’s teeth entered her soft flesh with no resistance. The wold was spinning toward black ness. Her screams were inhuman and she wasn’t sure if it was her or the howling of the wolves.

Thomas walked around the cabin checking for damages and making mental notes of repairs and improvements for the spring. He rubbed his chin as he daydreamed of a new barn and adding horses and cows to his farm. His heart froze in his chest when he heard the scream. Without thinking her ran towards the sound. The howling that followed chilled him to the bone. Beth ran after him screaming and crying. “ Thomas, it’s Blake, where is she??!!” They found her lying on the trail, blood was everywhere and her face was pale as the snow. Thomas picked her up and ran to the cabin not noticing the yellow eyes that followed. Beth followed with a bowl of water and rags. She sighed in relief when she saw Blake’s chest moving through tearful eyes. Thomas helped her get the bloody dress off and after cleaning her p they found only the wound on the neck. Blake’s eyes fluttered open. “Mother,” she whispered “ help me.” She reached for her father as the black took her.

5.

Blake was running through the woods again, her senses alert towards something up ahead. She pounced on the hare and it’s scream filled her ears. She shot up in her bed. She was sweating and panting. Before her eyes focused she thought she saw blood on her hands, but when they became clear they were clean. She clutched her head as the heavy veil of sleep left her she felt the pounding in her head. She lay back when she felt a wave of nausea threaten her. She reached to her neck and found the bandage her parents had put there. When she peeled it off there was hardly a scar underneath. “Thomas, come quickly, she’s woken up” Beth called when she noticed that Blake was moving. She flitted over over and started fussing over Blake. “What happened? I can’t remember anything.” Blake asked. Thomas burst into the room and hugged his daughter. “We were so worried. Don’t you know Do you remember anything at all?” He asked her. Beth looked at the wound and gasped.” Look Thomas, The wound....It is healed! How can this be?” He looked at it and said “It must have been the dressing you used, I’ve never seen such a thing.” “I don’t remember anything, what happened to my neck? Oh I’m so hungry!” Blake said as she tried to get out of the bed. Thomas and Beth looked at each other in amazement. “ Blake please, slow down, Thomas bring the warmed water. I’ll help her get composed.” He did as he was told and then reluctantly returned to his chores. Blake sat in the steamy tub while her mother washed her hair. “Don’t you remember anything?” she asked her again. “No” Blake replied. “Some animal attacked you on the trail. We found you unconscious, covered in blood. When we cleaned you up though you had only the wound on our neck.” “Did You see the beast mother? Has father killed it?” “No” Beth answered” The ground was too frozen to find tracks and your father has been searching and set many traps but so far he has found nothing.”

Blake tried to remember, but could only bring the sound of her heart beating loudly in her head to mind. She hoped her mother didn’t notice the flushed feeling she felt when she thought of it. “Let’s not think of it about it now, you are all right now and thats all that matters.” Sighed Beth. 6.

Time passed and Blake recovered quickly. She spent many hours siting by the window thoughtfully gazing into the woods. She absently knitted a blanket with woodland scenes. She seemed to come to life only in the evening, talking animatedly with her parents and eating large amounts of food.

One night Thomas and Beth lay awake in their bed. “I’m worried about her, Beth.” Thomas said almost to himself. “It’s like she’s not there during the day, and how can she make that blanket with out even looking at it?” “If I didn’t know better I would think she was lovesick.” Beth whispered “ Do you think the attack could have affected her mind?” “I don’t know , dear, I just don’t know.” He answered. He sighed into her hair as she squeezed tightly against him. They eventually fell into a restless sleep each lost in their own worries.

Blake sat at her window gazing at the moon. She knew her parents thought she was sleeping. She didn’t tell them that she couldn’t sleep, she could hear every thing they said. In fact she found if she tried she could hear the mice in the attic. She could hear her parents hearts beat when they were in the same room. She knew, somehow, that her father had a weakness in his joints that he hadn’t even realized yet. Sometimes she thought she could hear the blood flowing in their veins. Then there was the white wolf. She saw him in the woods outside her window. He just stood there looking at her. Her heart quickened when she saw him. She felt a longing to rush out to him and bury her face in his thick fur. It took all her control to keep from running out into the night. So far she felt she had been able to hide this from her parents by acting listless, but inside a war was raging. She resolved to try to act more normally for her parents sake especially after hearing their conversation that night.

7.

The next morning Blake got up early and busied herself with things in the kitchen. She went about the day cleaning and smiling and trying to act normal. When her parents talked to her she only nodded in answer. She found it hard to speak suddenly and the thoughts in her head began to become pictures rather than words. She could see the woods again, like her dreams, she could smell the green of the outdoors. Suddenly she stiffened,her nostrils flared and she dropped to the ground in a crouch. “What’s wrong Blake? Thomas! Help! Something is happening to Blake!” The rabbit never knew what hit it. Blake fell on it and broke it’s back before it could even cry out. Thomas stopped in his tracks as he walked into the room. The sight of Blake with the dead rabbit in her mouth had rendered him speechless. What little human thought had been left in Blake had flown away with the rabbits life. Before they could say anything they heard a loud bang on the door, followed by furious scratching. Thomas grabbed Beth before she could rush towards Blake. He found himself muttering prayers as the door began to shake. He could hear the wood splintering, finally it gave way and swung open. A huge white wolf stood at the threshold. It stepped in and Thomas gasped when he saw the om/users/index.htmlwolf’s fifth digit. It stared at him as if to keep him frozen where he stood. Blake crawled over to the wolf submissively. As she neared her body began to change. Her mouth once pouty and sweet elongated to form a muzzle, her black hair seemed to spread. By the time she reached the wolf she had transformed. Her parents could only weep as she looked at them one last time before she followed the white wolf out into the woods. When they were gone Thomas released Beth who fell to her knees and wept loudly. all he could do was hold her tightly because there were no woods that could comfort her. 8.

Two months later Spring had erased all traces of that winter. The forest once bare and lifeless was now green and lush. Everywhere birds sang and woodland creatures went about their business unaware of the pain the Pliney’s endured. Thomas’ hair had gone completely white and he began to feel the beginnings of an ache in his joints. Beth was withdrawn and cried often. the only thing they had left of Blake was that last blanket she had knit. Eventually autumn made itself known and the Pliney’s went about their preparations for the winter. There was an air of urgency to their work. Beth had found she was with child and was slowing down with her growing belly. It was as with all things, no matter the sadness or loss, life keeps going, never stopping for anyone. One night as they lay in bed Beth felt her baby move inside her and a tear trickled down her cheek. She thought of Blake and wondered if she would ever see her again. A long mournful howl shocked her from her thoughts. They flew out of bed and ran to the door. They managed to catch a glimpse of the white wolf and the black wolf disappearing into the woods. Beth looked down and there lay a newborn infant wrapped in a blanket. Her hands shook as she picked up the child and with a last look towards the woods they brought the child inside and quietly shut the door. The child was a boy with soft brown eyes. He grew up well with Blake’s sister who was born shortly after his arrival. He grew up strong and made his grandparents proud. The Pliney’s never heard from the wolves again.


© Copyright 2020 Julissa Cabrera. All rights reserved.

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