She could feel the sharp wind rattle through her fur as though her skin hung in sheets, rather than tight against hard bone. She shook herself, and regretted it instantly as her dead, lusterless fur flew off in tufts. She glared at the newly naked skin on her sides as the feathery balls drifted away on unseen air currents. With black eyes, she scanned the little clearing before her, and her pack mates that slept within. She realized she could barely recognize the poor creatures that rested, exhausted, before her. She looked hard for the signs in them that they had once been lean and healthy, positively glowing with power, but could find none. All she could see were the tattered remains of her companions, skin just gripping the sides of bones, spines looking like lofty fish fins, teeth bared in exhaustion so extreme they couldn't be bothered to shut their lips, their jaws hanging slack. As the wind blew again, they huddled closer in their dead sleep and shuddered, the poor furless things. Thinking back, rage stirring within her, she forced herself to remember why they were making this journey. A man. A gun, a mangled cow. Then a bloody wolf, then more men. More bloody wolves, some dead. then a dead pup. An angry mother, a viscous father. Protected their dens. Father now dead. Mother now dead. Elders decide to leave. Most go. The home grounds, the last safe place. She pulled herself back to reality. The home grounds were where her sights were set, but it had many years since anybody had tried to make the journey. Nobody remembered just how long and hard it had to be. She saddened further. She knew these half-dead shadows of survivors wouldn't make it, so long without food, so long without water. She sniffed into the air, how much further? She can sense something, just beyond the tip of her nose. Sweet, familiar, bitter too. A smile creeps over her lips, and she wakes the rest of them, bounding to the north, where their home was waiting.
April 1, 2011