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Leo shuffled out of the small cottage. The noon-time sounds from inside were smothered by the closed door. Now all he could hear was the sweet sounds of the beautiful day. Leo slowly put on his wide-brimmed straw hat and trudged to the sheep pen, muttering complaints under his breath as he went.
He always had to take care of the sheep. He had six other siblings who could do it, but he, Leo, was always sent out in the fields to watch the sheep when there was fun to have at home. He was only nine and the job had been set on him since he was seven. He sighed and opened the pen, guiding the sheep toward the field with his shepherd's crook. There was no big reason for hating his job. It was just so boring being up there with a bunch of stupid beasts.
When they reached the top of the hill, Leo sat on a big rock and scowled at the perfectly blue sky as if it was the blueness of the sky that had caused his problems in the first place. He didn't even like his own name. At least Leo was better than his full name. Leonius. He cringed at the thought of it. What was his mother thinking when she gave him such a stupid name?
His eyes wandered to the sheep, making sure they stayed in his eyesight. He didn't see the point. The stupid animals hardly ever wandered away anyway. As he was turning his gaze away, his eye caught a silhouette of something that lurked in between some nearby trees of the woods. He sat up and put his full attention on the dark movement. A chill shot down his spine as he seemed to find yellow eyes staring at him from the dark shadows of the thick wood. No they were real. Real eyes stared out at the sheep with a deep sense of blood lust. Leo traced the eyes back to an almost unmistakable body of a wolf. He shot up to his feet, dropping his crook.
"WOLF!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. Perhaps that's what made him a good shepherd boy: his unusually loud voice. "WOLF!" he shouted again, careful to keep his eyes on the small body of the hungry beast that seemed to pay no mind to him. He glanced at the town. People were coming. He could catch a glimpse of torches lit to scare the beast away. He made a few more cries until he was sure that everyone heard and was coming. They were sure to come; he had the only sheep in the village under his care. His eyes switched back to where the wolf lurked. It had gone, vanished. Leo rubbed his eyes in disbelief. It was there before. He had seen it. His eyes were only averted for a mere two seconds. It seemed impossible to him. The village folk had finally come to the top, all of them panting.
"Well, boy?" said the butcher, his largest knife ready. "Where's the wolf?"
Leo said nothing. He hardly heard the butcher's words. He was still trying to figure out what had happened. When more repeated the same question, Leo came to his senses and came up with his best answer: "He's gone."
Everyone gave annoyed sighs. They either didn't want to or just simply didn't believe that the wolf just left. But it was the truth and Leo was sticking to that. The butcher who had a terrible temper bust into an outrage.
"The boy has to be lying. A wolf doesn't just leave," he shouted. He looked as if he was going to do to Leo what he wanted to do to the wolf. "A fine shepherd boy Haldor raised. A silly boy who doesn't know the meaning of responsibility," he spat. Leo said nothing.
They made him return home early because they didn't want anymore silly tricks from him. Leo was given a good paddling once there and sent to bed without supper. Leo still wondered whether he had imagined it or really seen it.
It was a wonder that his parents, and most of the town, had let Leo continue his job the next day. Leo didn't mind going to work that day. He wanted to show his family and everyone that he did know responsibility.
Today, while Leo was up on the hill, sitting on his rock, he was almost ready for those wanting yellow eyes that had returned that day. Just as he had seen them, he jumped up and called "wolf". The villagers did, in fact, come again. This time, Leo kept his eyes on the wolf as he called. Just as the villagers had started the hill, Leo gave a tiny blink. As soon as he opened his eyes, the hungry eyes were gone. Leo's eyes widened in dismay as the villagers came to him, this time, with doubt. Leo, sadly had no wolf for them. He was quite sure he had seen the eyes, but had no proof. His night was just as harsh, if not more than the night before.
He was only allowed one more chance with the chore. This time, on top of that hill, Leo waited near the place where he had seen the wolf two times before and waited, not sure what to do when the wolf came. And this time, instead of a crook, he had a pitchfork that he had taken from the barn. He was determined to show everyone that he hadn't been lying. When the wolf did come, Leo sat perfectly still, watching the wolf. He slowly raised the pitchfork and stood up. Leo quickly pointed the pitchfork at the wolf, standing in front of the lustful eyes. The wolf calmly looked up at Leo who stood shaking, pitchfork in hands. To Leo's surprise, the wolf started to speak.
"Stand out of my way boy, or I will kill you and your sheep." It was a deep, gruff sound that could barely be passed for a voice.
Leo nearly dropped his pitchfork at this. The wolf had spoken. He had heard stories of magnificent creatures in the forest who spoke, but had stopped believing them years ago. He came to his senses again. Leo shook his head.
The wolf gave something of a sigh. "What do you want?" it said. "Do you want a deal? If you give me two sheep per week, I'll leave your town, and you, alone,"
Leo, who still didn't believe the fact that a beast was speaking to him, couldn't bring up words. He watched in horror as the wolf slid past him and approached the sheep. "Don't!" Leo shouted. "WOLF!"
The wolf growled. "If you shout again, I'll kill you,"
"The villagers will come for you,"
"They won't believe you anymore," the wolf growled. "Don't think of using that thing on me," he indicated toward the pitchfork.
"WOLF!" Leo tried again.
The wolf snarled and lunged for Leo who backed away and ended up on his backside, the pitchfork ready.
“You try calling again and it'll be the last thing you ever do,”
Leo was frozen with fear as the wolf slowly approached him. “C-can't you f-find s-something else to e-eat?” he stuttered.
“Why would I when I'm already here? No one will notice if I just take one. You're probably the only one who even looks at the sheep anyway,”
“Fine, you don't have power over me anyway,” the wolf said, turning his attention towards the sheep.
“I said quiet, boy!” the wolf barked, leaping at the shepherd boy.
Leo scrambled to his feet and turned into the woods. He madly dashed into the trees, feeling the wolf behind him. He pushed his body to the limit and gave it his all. His heart pounded in his ears as he slowed down, finding the wolf wasn't following him anymore. He stopped and dropped to his knees, panting. Leo now took notice of his surroundings. Slivers of light filtered through the trees, casting and eerie light on everything in the woods. Leo stood up, realizing where he was.
No one from the village entered the wood anymore. Too many people had been killed. Leonius hung his head in dismay. His sheep were in danger and the townspeople would be angry. He stood up and turned around to the direction from which he had come, starting back through the woods. Something inside him dearly hoped the every sheep he watched over every day would make it back home that night.
Continued in Wolf Part II