Instinct

December 8, 2011
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“Emily! Are you even listening to me?!” I said as I snatched her book from her hands. “Of course.” she said, “You said you were excited for our trip to Florida again this year.” “No,” I said “I want to go somewhere different this year. We go to the same place every year.” I was sick and tired of the same old trip to Florida. Sure the warm weather was great, and the beaches were beautiful, but I needed a change. “I just found out my friend has a cabin in Northern Canada. It would be perfect for our spring break!” Emily moaned, “Why on earth would you want to go somewhere cold? You do know the average temperature right now in Mercy Falls is -17°F right?” As she lunged for her book, I side-stepped and she landed on the floor. I giggled and looked at my best friend sprawled on the floor, “Come on! It’ll be loads of fun!” I knew right then I would have to bribe her if I wanted to even leave the library today. “What if I get you the Latin translation of Harry Potter?” By the way her eyes lit up, I knew she wouldn’t refuse the offer. Emily moaned again, “Fine, but I won’t enjoy my vacation.” I couldn’t stop the squeal of excitement that burst from my lips; “Start packing! Oh, and pack some comfortable boots; we’re going hiking as soon as we get there!”
I threw my suitcase into the back of Kara’s trunk and went to the passenger side of the car to start sulking. “Oh c’mon E-Z; this will be fun!” Kara said for the first of a million times. I was actually excited we had changed our plans, but I would never tell her that; I’d never hear the end of it. The drive to the cabin was tedious, but as we got closer, the excitement in the air became almost tangible. We finally spotted the cabin nestled against the sheer face of a steep hill looking just like a picture from a fairytale. Kara didn’t want to wait for me to set up my bunk, but I knew too well I wouldn’t feel like it after our hike, so I hastily set things up and went to the main room where Kara was tapping her foot emphasizing the passing time. As we started off on a small trail that led through the beautiful scenery, I dug through my small knapsack for my camera. “Are you going to see this entire trip through your camera’s view finder?” Kara teased. “You never know what tomorrow brings, Kara. So take pictures today!” We laughed as we walked for a while, but suddenly Kara said “I’d be willing to bet you won’t leave this safe little path.” Just to prove her wrong I side-stepped off the path and grinned as if I were a kid doing something mischievous. Kara quickly dashed a few yards away from me forcing me to run to keep her in sight. Before we knew it, the path disappeared amongst hundreds of trees. Suddenly Kara froze like a bird locked in the eyes of a snake, only she was my best friend locked in the eyes of a wolf.
When I saw the wolf, my mind told me to run, but my legs wouldn’t move. I heard an ear-piercing scream, and, with a shock, realized it came from my lips. In the same instant, Emily’s mitted hands clamped over my mouth; “Hush! You don’t want to startle it!” she snapped. Emily gently moved backwards, pulling me with her. I knew if we moved slowly we could get away from the wolf, but I just wanted to run. As soon as we were out of the wolf’s sight, Emily picked up the pace. I could hear my blood rushing in my ears so I didn’t quite catch it when Emily said “We should see if the wolf will lead us to safety”; then I did catch it and my voice shot through two octaves. “You want to let a wolf lead us back to the path? It will just lead us to its hungry pack!” She simply replied “I really think it was a wolf-dog. Wolves aren’t that small. Plus they usually don’t travel alone.” I stared at her incredulously before saying “Fine. You follow the wolf and I’ll figure out how to get back myself.” Before she could even blink, I turned my back on my best friend and stalked away.
“KARA!!!” I felt like I had been yelling for hours, but I couldn’t find my best friend. I heard movement coming from behind me and froze when I saw the wolf standing three feet from me. I realized it had to be a mix between a dog and a wolf based on its size and behavior. The dog started to walk off the way it had come, and, for some reason, I began to follow it. I kept my distance, but it seemed as though the dog kept checking to make sure I was there. As I walked, I became hyper aware of the cold biting at my nose and cheeks; it felt like I was frozen to the core, but I knew I had to keep going. As I saw the sun slip behind the treetops, I realized I couldn’t stay out in the open all night. I contemplated my options for shelter as I walked, but my thinking was interrupted when I noticed a trail of blood in the snow.
As I grew less irritated by my situation, my speed slowed; however, I felt as though I was only getting farther from the path and farther from Emily. When I heard something move behind me, I prayed I would turn to my friend. I felt my blood turn to ice in my veins when I saw a wolf crouched to the ground with its teeth bared. It wasn’t as if it happened in slow motion; I simply saw several things at once. The wolf lunged for my torso pining me to the ground and began to rip into my flesh. My mind was so numb all I could think was “Emily. I’m so sorry. Next time I’ll listen to you.” As the wolf cleaned his muzzle on the snow, I knew there was no next time. I begged for it to end but the pain and the cold remained for longer than I thought was possible. Suddenly I felt warmth next to me and then Emily whispered in my ear “Kara. Please hang on. Please. Do it for me.” I was sure I was dreaming but I said “E-Z. I’m sorry. I should’ve…”
“Kara please stay with me!” I begged from my best friend’s lifeless body. In that instant I began to beg for the freedom of death too. I have no idea how long I sat there clinging to my friend’s corpse, but I knew I needed to keep going; I knew I needed to survive for Kara. After walking a ways, I stopped and began to dig a burrow in the snow bank. I knew the closely packed snow would make it possible to build a shelter and it would be good for insulation. I was shocked when the dog came into my burrow, but I was too warmed by its present to make it leave. I heard the rumble in its empty stomach echo my own and I knew we needed food. Subconsciously, I knew what my only option for food was at this point; however, I fell asleep thinking of other possibilities. When I awoke in the morning, I walked back to my best friend’s remains. Without thinking or feeling, I tore a piece of the flesh and tossed it to the dog. Following his example and leaning on pure instinct, I knelt in the snow and ate my breakfast.





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