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The Lone Wolf and the Moon
Deep in the bracken of the forest, a sleek silver flash flitted between the trees. Obviously made for stealth, the figure paused only for a moment to catch the musky, yet warm, scent of prey on the wind before moving off quickly in its direction. Once the hunter came within its prey’s boundaries, it stopped and crouched low under the foliage. Belly tickling the moss, tail twitching silently, the hunter’s beautiful silver eyes locked onto her target and remained unwavering. One death silent paw step at a time the hunter made her way closer to the small, yet lean creature that was obliviously sniffing around, unknowing of the oncoming danger. Her haunches tensed up, ready to leap.
“Hi Ora!” A coarse voice pierced through the silence. The deer, alerted, bolted into the thick of the trees, gone in seconds and leaving the hunter without a meal.
“Zuke!” she angrily growled, recognizing the voice instantly. Her silver eyes fell into a scowl. “I had that plump deer practically in my jaws and you scared it off!”
“Oh don’t be so grumpy. You’re a great hunter. You’ll find and catch another.” The intruder said all-knowingly. His long black fur tousled in the wind as his yellow-green eyes looked fondly at the she-wolf. To him, she was the most beautiful, elegant creature he had ever laid his eyes on. He wanted her to be his mate, but something kept them apart.
“That’ll take time I don’t have.” The she-wolf replied, this time a little more patiently. She licked her paw as she sat up and laid her sleek tail around herself. Her body was lean and slender, her fur shiny and smooth as silk. The color of her fur was as silvery as a moonlit pond, while her face had a tint of redwood bark brown. Her eyes were translucent; she could look into a creature’s soul.
Zuke was a very lean wolf, also incredibly large for his age. His fur was black as a moonless night, and his eyes a toxic, glowing green. He had a handsome jaw line that pronounced his growing maturity and strength. He wasn’t cold blooded, but he was cold to the touch, like stone. “I’m sorry.” Zuke apologized unapologetically. He only cared about seeing Ora. She filled a place inside him that felt empty before; giving him a warm feeling like summer honey, oozing through his chest and down his legs.
Both wolves were young and learning to become hunters. They had been given freedom of their own from their packs. Zuke was from a different wolf pack and had noticed Ora while he was marking pack borders. Since then, he had spent many days admiring her from afar and risking his hide to come visit her. He was intruding on another pack’s territory, but the two young wolves had an irresistible bond.
“I know you really aren’t. But that deer I needed. My pack depends on me. My mother had pups again, Zuke.” The she-wolf stood and turned away towards where the deer had escaped. “You really need to stop coming here. My alpha will get your scent and tear you to shreds. And me as well.” She stated gravely over her shoulder, her voice a soft whisper.
Zuke snorted and took a step closer. “I’d fight him,” he announced while standing taller. “I’d fight for you.”
“Go home, Zuke.” Ora’s eyes held a tenderness when she locked eyes with the great black wolf. She padded away into the shadow of the trees.
A few mornings later the forest was choked with a thick mist. It deadened any sound from reverberating through the valley as it naturally did. It clung to any living thing, leaving sparkling dew drops from hanging leaves to tips of animal pelts. The sky was dark and heavy, looming above the forest sending animals back into their dens and holes in hiding.
On the base of the mountain was one brave creature that ignored the dooming sky. Within a small basin at the bottom of the mountain was a pond. A creek trickled down then flowed into the hungry mouth of the water that was cradled there. It was mostly shrouded by trees, except to one exceptional view of a jagged outcropping of rock that jutted out from the side of the mountain. It looked out onto the valley like a majestic swan frozen in flight.
This creature was different from the rest in the forest, however. Next to the pond perched this vibrantly blue dome that tousled loudly with any movement or breeze that passed through. Something alien to the nature around it. The opening to the dome gaped as the creature sat halfway inside, pointing a black object that had a very large, black, eye-like end towards the outcropping. It was silent except for the occasional click and whizzz of the object. The creature would take something white and square out of his contraption, shake it violently, and then hang it from an odd web he had strung from two trees. With the lurking storm, the animals paid little attention to him.
Ora leaped to her paws, being abruptly awoken from sleep. Her hackles raised and she tensed into a fighting stance to protect herself. It was early morning, earlier than she awoke normally, and with the morning darkness, the stormy sky, the heavy mist and her still sleep ridden eyes, she could barely make out what had startled her. She had been dreaming, not of good dreams, but a nightmare. Outside of her mind she felt a coldness seep into her fur, and a hot sticky wave run down her neck. Her breathing slowly steadied as she blinked away the sleep in her eyes and squinted at the black figure standing in front of her in the mist.
“Ora…” the figure called, trying to speak softly and soothing with a naturally gruff voice.
Ora relaxed as she recognized the intruder once again through the fog. “Zuke… what are you doing?” She dropped her head, showing she would not attack anymore.
“I came to fight your father for you,” he barked. He padded closer to where their noses were almost touching, and they could visibly see each other’s vibrant eyes. “And you can’t stop me.”
Ora whined. She loved Zuke, but also loved her pack. She didn’t know what would happen with either outcome, but it was too late, she thought. She couldn’t stop him if she tried… Zuke was basically at the heart of their pack by visiting her in her den. Only the mist was saving him from alerting the others. Ora laid back down, her head on her paws, and pinned her ears back, not saying a word to Zuke.
Zuke licked the top of Ora’s head tenderly, and then swiftly floated off into the mist, disappearing toward where Ora’s Alpha slept. All was dead silent. Ora almost thought that maybe Zuke had changed his mind and had gone home. Time inched by as the sun climbed higher in the sky, changing the world from black to grey.
A great snarl ripped through the forest, piercing through the mist like a knife. Ora flinched violently, knowing it had started. He had taken long enough getting to her father for her to lose her guard. That snarl led to menacing growls; interrupted by tearing and thudding noises as furry bodies clashed and hit the ground and yelps were released. Ora became worried. She leaped to her feet and padded quickly in the direction of the violent sounds. Her heart was beating wildly. As she came onto the scene, she slowly began to register the scene she had walked into: the blood stained grass and chunks of fur lying around, the hot sticky breath in the air and the eyes of her fellow pack mates surrounding the clearing in fearful hiding. In the center was a mass of black and gray/brown fur, snarling and tearing at one another.
Ora, out of fear, let out a surprisingly loud growl. She stepped closer to Zuke and her Alpha and growled again, trying to get their attention. At this point, she was close enough to smell their breath as they snarled in battle. She was dangerously close, especially when both male wolves were blinded by anger. She snarled, saw a flash of black and claws, felt excruciating pain in her temple and everything went blank.
“You did this,” the Alpha snarled viciously with an underlying ache of sadness. He stood over the sleek silver body and quivered weak from the fight. “You came to kill me for her, but you killed her.” He glared at the black wolf with the green eyes, blood dripping from his shoulders and jowls. “I suggest you leave. No pack will accept you because of what you have done. You will forever live as a Loner with the pain.”
Zuke stood there in shock, staring at the silver body going cold. The silver body he loved with all his being. The Alpha snarled, “Be gone!”
Zuke turned slowly and padded away with his head held even, showing his pride, but yet showing his grieving. Flashes of what had happened echoed throughout his mind. He was so guilty, so ashamed that he let the rage blind him so much. He had heard Ora’s snarl, but in the midst of the fight he thought it was another wolf of her pack. He brought down a skull crushing blow to the side of her head, saw the silvery fur and immediately stopped. The picture of her lying there, dead, tormented his mind. His pain was unbearable.
He took the Alpha’s advice and left. The skies had cleared, and the sun had gone up and over Zuke’s back and beyond the horizon. When darkness fell, the moon came out full and clear. Zuke found himself upon the outcropping of rock, above the pond where the human stayed in his blue dome. He sat down and looked on the valley under the fluorescent moonlight, wondering how he could ever cope with the pain he felt. He tossed his head back suddenly and released a howl that came very deep down in his chest. So deep it rang from his heart. The howl was beautiful; it was quivering with pain and sadness. It echoed throughout the valley.
The human heard the howl and looked up from his spot where he poked at a small fire. The outcropping sat perfectly in front of the moon that was huge and bright. The wolf sat exactly in the center, his head back while he released the pain he felt. The human grabbed his camera and took a picture. “I feel your pain, Mr. Lone Wolf.” The human said.
The human returned to civilization and printed his photos. He was a great photographer, but his most popular photo was of the Lone Wolf and the Moon. It was forever an original. He was there to hear the wolf’s howl, to hear the wolf’s pain.