Hey, everyone. I know that I’ve been neglecting this blog again but I’ve been writing and it would mean a lot if I could get somebody’s feedback on a short chapter that I’ve been working on for my story. I’ve only just started it, really. I know what direction I want to lead it into but I’ve been making it up as I go along and I am quite enjoying it. In advance, if you are still reading, then thank you, it means a lot.
The Hunter and the Wolf
A wolf can wait for days in the wild if it means having the perfect kill. Wolves are intelligent animals who work in packs usually, as there is protection in numbers, and not just that, they consider their pack their family. Wolves will nurse their injured pack members and will teach their young how to live and hunt. In the dynamic of a wolf pack, there is an alpha wolf (or alpha couple) and then betas, and finally, the omegas. The alphas are the breeding pair, they are the heads of the pack. Consider them the sort of king and queen of the wolf pack. The betas are like commanding officers. The omegas are still important but can be replaced easily without much disruption to the pack, however, if an alpha were to be injured or killed, it would throw the dynamics of the pack into disarray.
And so to set the first scene of the story, we follow the last steps of an alpha wolf who hunts in Silvertree Forest. He was a black wolf, with a smattering of grey hairs on his ears and socks, and more and more grew on his body as the months went by. These grey hairs were new, but the meaning of the grey hairs did not signal novelty. The wolf was old and grew clumsy, but he was a proud wolf, and decided that he wanted to have one last solitary hunt before he spent the rest of his days pawing the ground and getting slower than his pack. He strayed from his sleeping family one winter’s morning, and listened with his keen ears, and smelt with his whiskered nose. What the wolf wanted to eat today was a fine meal, and rabbit just wouldn’t do. No, he wanted a big kill. He had no one else to prove himself to but him, he had the respect of the pack after all of the glory days he had, and boy did he want to prove himself. And to do this he picked the smell of a deer. A doe. Not a stag, he was bold, but not that bold. He’d leave kills like that to the younger pack members. No, a doe would do fine.
Trampling through the woods, the wolf stayed hidden, crouching low to the surface, sniffing out the different scents of the creatures who resided there. There were leaves still on the ground and they offered him disguise, but they were loud as they crunched beneath his paws, and the wolf knew that this hunt would not be easy, this time. He would have to be more careful and take steps to being quieter. His nose guided him right into the copse of the woods and soon enough he heard the munching of grass less than a quarter of a mile away. There she is. He licked his lips and slowed his pace. Throughout his youth he had realised that the waiting game was a winning game, and even though age was catching up with him, he had all of the time in the world. He lowered his posture and started to creep. The doe came into view. She was distracted. The leaves ran out and at the right moment, the wolf’s paw steps fell into mute mode. He bared his teeth and leapt.
A hunter can wait for days in the wild if it means having the perfect kill. It was November, a cold but dry morning, and a tall man wearing a deer hunter hat was stalking the land just south of Littlebark. He had been on this hunt for two days now with only mints to sustain him. He didn’t bring packed lunches or anything of that kind. It would slow him down, and after all, the desperation for food would urge him on.
The hunter found a clearing near to the edge of the Silvertree Forest. He decided to make camp. It was only morning, and normal folks would just be waking up, but the hunter had been stalking since nightfall, and he had only managed to pick up the tracks of bunnies and boar. He wanted something more substantial, but at this rate, he was getting very hungry, and he may have to settle for what he could get. He stood his rifle against a tree and leaned next to it. He shuffled inside the pockets of his cargo pants for his mints. Two left. The hunt would be over soon. “Shit.” He spat on the floor and stuffed the mint into his mouth, chewing moodily. He looked into the woods, trying to figure out his next route. Downcast, he didn’t hold much hope, until his eyes fixed upon a young female deer. A doe, he thought, that’s what they’re called. She was grazing. She didn’t seem to be close to finishing her meal, either. Grinning, the hunter reached behind him and retrieved his rifle. He crouched where he was, and aimed down his sights. The doe’s head was soon in the crosshair. Easy. He pulled the trigger. The rifle recoiled slightly as it shot and straight away, he looked up and saw that he had missed his target.
“Goddammit!” The hunter whistled impatiently through gritted teeth, watching the deer prance away and further into the woods, without a care in the world. “Daft bitch,” he spat. He stood and leant the rifle back against the tree behind him and then turned back around to check the area where he had studied. Upon recomposing himself, he narrowed his eyes. That’s right – he saw a generously sized mound of grey where the doe had been grazing. It was on the ground, lying still. He could have easily mistaken it for a stone but the winter breeze blew against the fur this way and that way and he could tell that the texture of the object did not belong to something inanimate.
The hunter cleared his throat with nervous excitement and bent down, retrieved his rifle and quietly as he could, he ventured into the copse of the woods where the body lay. He took aim and exclaimed out loud when he realised what the shape of the body belonged to. Not only had he killed a wolf completely through sheer coincidence but he imagined that the towns around here paid damn good money for the meat and fur of a wolf. The hunter muttered a gratification to a deity under his breath and then crouched down next to the motionless body. The bullet from his rifle was embedded in the wolf’s skull having entered right between the eyes. The hunter consoled himself with the knowledge that the wolf’s death would have been instant and relatively painless. He stroked its cheek. Still warm. Teeth still bared. Eyes still open, one blue and one brown.
“I’m sorry, buddy,” he said quietly, still stroking the fur of his kill, “that bullet wasn’t meant for you, but you are gonna make my bills a lot easier to pay this month.”
The Hunter and the Butcher
The shop bell jingled merrily followed by heavy, clumsy footsteps. Lisa Black turned the page of her gossip rag, largely uninterested by the signalling of a customer in the store, choosing instead to focus on the latest celebrity marriage on the mainland. The pattern of footsteps was unexpected to Lisa, though, and instead of meandering down one of three of the tight aisles – such was the habit of the usual store customer – the footsteps walked right up to where she sat behind the counter. Lisa looked up to nod, expecting to see a familiar face, but instead she gasped at the sight of a middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap. With him, he carried a blood-stained package.
“Uh… what?” she stammered, pushing up her glasses which had been resting halfway down her nose. She curled up the magazine clumsily and quickly ducked to shove it in the shelf by her knees. She stood up and frowned at the stranger. It wasn’t often in Littlebark that there would be strangers, as I will go on to explain.
The man breathed heavily, and no mistake, the size of the package looked task worthy. “Got a wolf here,” he muttered, “where do I go to sell it?”
“Will you take it here?” he hoisted the package so that it was positioned more securely over his shoulder, and his steady gaze was cast directly on her.
Lisa frowned again, and replied unsurely, “I’ll go get my dad.” She leapt up from her seat and ran through the back door and into the hallway which was behind her station. She called up the stairs, but left the door open so she could keep an eye on the ‘wolf guy’. But he didn’t move.
Robert Black came down promptly, fussing with his beard and looking taken aback that he was needed in the shop. “You OK, kiddo?” he asked, concerned. He was aware that Lisa was uninterested in running the shop but she did it well enough and without needing much guidance. In fact, the only instances when she needed his help was with locking up the store and cashing up the tills. Now, she nodded in reply, and gestured with a sideways nod to the back door. He looked through to the counter and saw the man who had caused his daughter to need assistance. He was a little younger than himself and he carried a large package. It looked a bit formidable. It wasn’t often that they received strangers in Littlebark, stranger still that they would receive strangers carrying body bags. He cleared his throat. “Can I help you, Sir?”
The man patted the package, which remained slung over his shoulder. “Got a wolf here. I wanna sell it.”
Robert nodded. “Alright,” he said, and opened the swing gate that kept the shop floor and counter separate. “Come on through and I’ll take a look at it.” He motioned for the stranger to follow him and led him out the back and through to a locked door which was just inside the hallway on the left. “What’s your name Sir? I ain’t seen you around these parts before,” he said, fumbling with the key in the lock.
“Kenneth Rogers,” said the man, and followed the shopkeeper into a cold room where the temperature was not too much lower than the winter chill which enveloped the streets of the town. A grey table marked the centre of the room and carcasses of pigs, boar and deer were strung up from beams which studded the walls of the room. Kenneth studied the dead bodies, flicking the grey table with his free hand. Steel. “And yours?”
“Robert Black.” He motioned for Kenneth to loosen his hold on the package and drop it on the table. Reaching inside his jeans pocket to retrieve a flick knife, he cut easily through the hemp material of the package. As the material gave, half of the wolf’s face was revealed, and it stared back up at him with a glassy blue eye. “Not long dead, huh?”
“Got him today.”
“Right between the eyes, too. Nice.”
Kenneth puffed out his chest with masochistic triumph. “Thanks.”
Robert ran his hand across the wolf’s fur, feeling the softness and strong muscles beneath. He cut the material further so that it revealed the body of the once proud animal, and patted its tummy and then lifted each paw to inspect them. Robert’s eyes threatened to water as he recognised a familiar marking on the wolf’s chest. It was a white star. He remembered. The wolf was starting to age and grey fur started to grow all over, but he would recognise that white star anywhere.
“How much will you pay me for him?” Kenneth demanded. Robert’s concentration on the wolf was abruptly broken and he looked up at the hunter, whose voice now acted as a grate on his heart. “It’s a good kill. Unspoilt, apart from the bullet between the old fella’s eyes. Male. Old but not decrepit. Could get a lot for the fur and the meat will be good.” Robert stayed silent and watched the hunter as he continued, “I’d skin him and eat him myself, god knows it’s been long enough since I had anything in my belly other than mints, but I need the money more, and, well,” he laughed, “wolves aren’t my thing.”
Robert still stared at him. “Wolves aren’t my thing either.”
Kenneth narrowed his eyebrows, beginning to sense the hostility. “Well, alright. You could’ve sold the meat, and, whatever. No matter, I’ll bag it back up and take it somewhere else.”
Gritting his teeth, Robert kept one hand on the dead wolf and a tighter hand on the handle of his knife that he had holstered in his belt. “I’m keeping the wolf,” he said, his voice almost a growl.
The hunter, confused, replied, “Oh, great. Alright. So, how much will you give me?”
Robert let go of the wolf and stepped towards the hunter. He concentrated fully on him, and drew back his armed hand. He snarled, “I’ll give you this,” and plunged the Damascus knife into Kenneth’s head, successfully and effortlessly entering his aim precisely between the eyes. Shock was painted across the hunter’s features and he staggered back, hitting a half butchered pig’s gut which hung a few inches behind him. Kenneth desperately and clumsily reached up for the knife which was lodged in his brain but Robert was stronger, quicker and with keener senses, he also had the advantage of not having a bleeding brain. He strode up to the hunter, who cried out in fear, and grasped the handle of the knife. He shoved Kenneth back, hard, while keeping a hold of the knife, and it dislodged accompanied by a squeal of pain as his victim staggered back once more. This time he landed against the cold wall, and he slid down it. Fright and disbelief was still the emotions of choice for Kenneth and they declared themselves unashamedly in both his voice and on his face. Kenneth probably would have died within a minute anyway, a bleeding brain is not a good idea for someone who wants to live a long life, but Robert was pissed off. His knife penetrated the target once more and this time it was kenneth’s throat. It stabbed right through to the skin on the other side of his neck and into the wall, pinning him to it.
Kenneth gargled, trying to utter something incomprehensible, but all that came out was a pint of blood which decorated the rest of his body, interspersing with the blood that leaked out of his head and his throat. His eyes rolled into the back of his head. He slumped but didn’t fall.
Robert watched the life ebb out of Kenneth and within a few seconds, he was dead. Butchers can wait for days for the perfect kill, but he didn’t feel like waiting.
Ⓒ Jessica Morley