Way of the Pack

October 11, 2012
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The Way of the Pack

The sun’s rays weave their way through the thick overhead canopy, caressing my light brown fur with their warmth. I continue to stalk my prey while savoring the warmth now coursing through my body. I watch as the deer continues grazing, completely unaware of my presence. My muscles tense as I get ready to spring upon my prey, but I stop as I catch the scent of another wolf. Anger grips me as I think of him taking away my meal. I get ready to attack him, and stop yet again as I realize that there is more than one wolf out there. Confusion steals its way into me as I wonder how they could be working together. I step back as even more wolves stalk into my view taking me by complete surprise. Throwing myself to the ground, I try to blend in so that I won’t become noticed. Stunned, I watch as they attack seamlessly together to take down the deer, each wolf performing a certain job. After they have killed the deer, they feast upon the carcass of what should have been my meal.

I silently get back up, slowly making my way over to the group of wolves that I felt I should become a part of. As I get close, one wolf breaks away, and heads towards me. Fear snakes its way into me as I realize that he means to fight me. As we meet, he flattens his ears, bares his teeth, and growls a warning telling me to submit to him or die. His eyes warn me that it isn’t going to be easy to beat him in a fight. I am about to lower myself to a position of submission, but then I stop. I look him in the eyes, and then suddenly I strike.

He pulls back surprised by the unexpected twist I had thrown into the mix. Hackles raise and fur ruffles as he attempts to make his body look bigger than it actually is. A standoff briefly occurs as we both attempt to discourage the other from fighting. The standoff falls apart as he springs towards me in a graceful but deadly leap. Teeth meets fur as he narrowly misses the space that, until a second ago, I had occupied. Rage takes over me as I follow the instincts that guide my fighting technique. Finally, I slip through his defenses, and I grip his throat with my teeth. He freezes, knowing that I could end his life right there. I hesitate, aware that the other wolves are watching me with surprise in their eyes.

I release his throat, taking a step back. Wounded pride floods his eyes as he realizes that I am going to let him live. Ashamed, he drops to the ground and rolls over onto his back, the universal sign of submission. He gets up and dejectedly walks back to the pack, letting me know that I was now a part of the pack. Elated, I trot over to the rest of the wolves. They greet me with curiosity plain in their eyes, wondering why a wolf would be wandering on their own. One asks me if I had broken off from a different pack. I told him that I had been alone for so long that I could not remember.

As they ask me questions, I notice the wolf that I had fought was standing by himself, isolated. The other wolves noticed where I was looking, and told me not to worry about him, that he was now the Omega of the tribe, the lowest ranking member. Pity wells inside of me as I realize that I had forever changed his life for the worse.

Suddenly, a new wolf enters the clearing, carrying with him a sense of pure power. All of the wolves around me throw themselves to the ground, showing submission to this obviously superior being. He glances around the area, and then glides to the wolf that I had fought. You have been demoted his golden eyes say, making the wolf shrink away from his gaze. He looks at me letting me know with a single nod of his head that I was to take the vacancy that the demotion had made. The air suddenly tastes sweeter, the colors of the world becoming more vibrant as I realized that I was now going to be in an obviously important position. He walks away in the direction that he had come; making me assume that was the direction their den is in.

The other wolves look at me with newfound respect in their eye, making me all the more aware of how important my position was. They let me know that I have become the rank of the Beta wolf, the tester of all newcomers. They also tell me that only the Alpha is higher than me. I suddenly notice that the Omega had disappeared without a trace. Unease flutters throughout me as I wonder what this could mean. They tell me not to worry when I tell them about what I had just discovered. Momentarily quieted, the unease leaves me.

The sun slowly starts to set; marking the end of what could easily be the best day of my life. Night has taken full control by the time we reach the den of my new family. I am directed to the spot that is to be my new home in the den. Silence reigns supreme as I curl up to sleep. As I fall asleep, I reflect upon all the events that have led me to where I currently am. Gratitude grips me as sleeps drags me down into the darkness of dreamless sleep.

By the time I wake, dawn is already giving into morning. I make my way into the center of the den, looking for the Alpha. I had to share my deep burning suspicion with him, if at least to warn him of any impending danger. Frustration grips me as I frantically continue to search for him in vain. Finally, I spot him all alone drinking water from the nearby pond. I sprint towards him, catching him before he could leave. I let him know that I was afraid that the Omega had headed to another pack in order to coordinate an attack on our pack. He looks at me, and gravely lets me know that he has had the same suspicions ever since he had disappeared. He tells me not to worry, that the other packs were on good terms with him and would never even consider the very notion of attacking us. He turns and starts heading back to the den, leaving me completely assured that we are safe.

As the day wears on, clouds gather in the horizon. I get the inexplicable feeling that I am being watched, but when I look around there isn’t anything out of the ordinary. As the storm races closer, lightning flashes in the night followed by a tumultuous blast of thunder, promising a restless night. As the sun starts to set, the rain hits relentlessly, battering us in its merciless rage. We all quickly take shelter from this Alpha of all storms, fearing its unparalleled might. As the storm’s mighty power dies down, I hear the telltale sound of twigs quietly breaking as something stealthily makes its way into our territory. Anger and fear once again force their way into my core as I think about the implications of this seemingly meaningless sound. I rush out to confront the unknown visitor, but stop dead in my tracks as I realize that the visitor is none other than the missing Omega.

He glares at me with what seems to be wariness in his eyes, carefully monitoring everything I am doing. As I wonder why he looks so unassumingly menacing, I catch the scent of more wolves. Alarm shoots throughout my body as I realize that these wolves are from a different pack. Adrenaline races through me as I sound off with a howl warning the Alpha of this unforeseen danger. The Omega lets loose a savage snarl giving me no doubt that he means to fight me yet again. I calmly snarl back letting him know that I was ready to meet his challenge. As we stare each other down, I resign myself to the realization that I am going to have to kill him in order to keep the Alpha safe from against further harm from this bitter wolf.

The storm picks up in strength as we circle each other looking for the weakness in the other’s defense. Lightning strikes a tree beside us, as we both savagely spring towards the other. Teeth meets fur yet again, but this time he has bitten me in the rear right leg. Blood spills from the wound, filling the air with the bittersweet smell of my blood. Pain lances its way through my body as I continue to circle the Omega.

All around us there is fighting as the wolves from my pack fight these intruders. Howls of pain and rage fill the air, giving me the strength to continue this fight to the death. As the Omega prepares to strike again, I lunge out of the way. He misses me, and I take advantage of his momentary surprise by landing what should be a crippling bite.
Despite the pain he is obviously feeling, he continues this now pointless fight. Weariness fills my limbs with its deadly grip as I stumble trying to attack. I realize what’s going to happen the second before it does. Deep pain wrenches its way through my body as pain emanates from the gaping hole in my once whole chest. Blood begins to pour out of my now broken body as I collapse to the ground utterly spent.
As I lay there, watching blood pool around me, I feel detached, as if this wasn’t happening to me. I hear the Omega howl in triumph as if he is a mile away instead of right beside me. The pain feels like it is fading as my vision starts to darken in spots. A deathly fear grips me as I realize that I am about to die. My instinct screams at me to fight this unwelcome visitor with all of my might. I disobey this instinct, and instead I think about how that even though I was surrounded by others, I was completely alone. I shudder one last time as I realize how we all just surround ourselves with others because deep down, we all are afraid of being alone.
I take a deep breath as I prepare myself for this journey ahead of me. I take one last look around me and I am surprised to see that the Omega has fallen and lay still. All around me the battle has stopped as the intruders flee the scene of this senseless massacre. The rest of my pack notices me lying in this pool of blood and rush over to see me. I quickly attempt to spot the one that I had fought for, and immediately find him. I notice with relief that he is unharmed. I feel solace in the fact that my sacrifice had not been in vain. My vision darkens before any of them can make it to me. I take a deep breath as I steel myself for this unknown journey ahead of me. As I exhale, my vision goes all the way dark and I feel myself being dragged down into eternal slumber.

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