Prey & Predator

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
An animal in the woods saves a life

Submitted: December 07, 2010

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Submitted: December 07, 2010

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My powerful legs pounded on the hard forest floor as I tore after the terrified yearling moose I planned to take down for my pack. I was determined to prove myself as a great hunter. I could hear the rest of the pack behind me waiting. They trampled the ground impatiently, their starving stomachs aching.
The moose huffed and snorted as it tired. I pressed on and closed in on its hind legs. I planned to take it down and tear out its throat. Blood pounded in my ears as I rapidly came within striking range. I latched onto its hind leg with so much force it was instantly down. With one leap I was at its throat, pinning it down with my teeth. It writhed and struggled under my jaws but my hold never faltered.
I prepared to bite down fiercely, as to kill him instantly. The moose breathed hard into my grey fur, expecting his death and accepting it, just as I would have. I was predator and he was prey that fact would never change between us, and we both, at the same time understood it. I gripped harder and began to bite down, planning to crush the life from its bulky body.
Suddenly there was a scream, a scream not from an animal but a human woman. I paused and released my death grip on the moose that struggled to stand up and get away. As I became more and more intrigued at the new sound I let him limp off into the woods. I could track him again if I wanted to, but right now I was focused on the screaming.
It was close, extremely close. I only had to lope through a clearing and across a road before I ended up on a dirt trail. It stunk of people and iron, I was close to the city, and I almost went back. Another scream erupted and it drew me cautiously onward.
I crept forward, crawling under the brush camouflaging my body in the night. Stopping only to listen to her breathing, there were others around, their breathing was less erratic but I could tell they were panicky and excited.
When I peered out, still concealing myself under a bush, I saw a small pale human figure crouched on the ground, and she was sobbing. Other humans surrounded her. They regarded her with disgust and one of them hit her on the side of her head with his hand. For the first time the smell of blood wafted up my nose, my stomach clenched with hunger.
She slumped to the ground and began to cry hysterically. The boys that encircled her began to communicate in a language I had only heard once before. (Some time ago I had played in the woods with my sister and was with her when the hunters shot her. I had been too afraid to jump out of the brush and save her, so she died and was dragged away like nothing.)
She was their prey, just like my sister had been the hunters. I remembered how my mother had whined to the moon for days after that. I figured that this woman must be someone’s cub, or have her own. I was not a small wolf cub anymore, and I could save her.
When one of them reached up their hand to bring down on her face I crunched up my body and launched myself forward at just the right moment. I bit hard into his wrist. They all cried out in surprise, especially the man I had a hold of. His blood dripped, warm down my chin and I began to shake him ferociously, growling deep in my throat. I could have torn his hand right off if I’d wanted but I managed to control myself.
The other men began to pound on my back furiously and I almost let go but only gripped tighter as they hit harder. The one whose wrist was in my jaws wrapped his good hand around my muzzle and began to pull. Hard.
I was forced to let go. I spun around to face the men, backing up towards the whimpering human behind me. Blood ran down my mouth and I was aware of the blood dripping off the bitten man's hand. I growled a warning at them and they looked positively terrified.
I watched them back away with triumph, until I could only hear the faint scuff of their feet before they ran away away. They were breathing hard just like the moose. I realized that they could have been my prey so easily. Anyone could be prey, could cower under the weight of bone crushing jaws. It was the natural order of things, and I had just broken it by interfering in this clash between weak and strong.
I turned toward the cowering girl behind me. I could tell she was still scared, I could smell the fear. Had she given up one set of predators for another? I stared at her for a long time, licking my muzzle in an attempt to get rid of the blood. She was covered in dirt and mud but under everything I smelled her real smell, it was clean and warm. Her breathing slowed down and we watched each other for a very long time.
Suddenly she began to sit up, it startled me, I jumped backwards into the woods. She froze where she was and waited for me to settle down and when I did she stood up and began to back away. I waited and waited for her to leave. She finally turned and walked away, still shaking and quietly sobbing.
Watching her leave made me sad. I had no choice but to slink back into the trees and wander home. The pack would not go hungry; another wolf would have found something by now. I heard them some distance away, so I broke into a run. When I reached them they were devouring the carcass of a deer. The pack leader lumbered toward me, he nudged me, looking for some sort of explanation, which I didn’t have.
As I waited patiently to eat last, as punishment for failing the pack, I remembered that woman, and I would always remember her, and the lesson she taught me that night. Don't stand by, stand up.
 


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