Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
There's a certain peace that settles inside you when you hear the wind whip through the forest, the sound soothes you until your muscles quiver with joy and you begin grinning with delight as the cool air runs soft fingers down your spine and sends shivers back through you. That was the feeling going through Fayowin as he stalked his prey, a nimble buck that mindlessly grazed in the snowy glade. Fayowin was a wolf, tall and regal, his fur ran a silver-white with intricate blue lines spiraling and writhing around his muscled body. His eyes glowed pure white in the night and shimmered in the daylight. The fangs lining his jaw were longer than the other wolves'... then again he was also larger than his alpha as well. Fayowin saw everything clearer and faster than the most skilled hunters in his pack, and he was also the swiftest. He should have felt proud of his uniqueness, but he felt outcast instead. The other hunters shunned him and disliked hunting alongside him, leaving Fayowin to hunt alone.

Today was no different. It was his turn to hunt and he had to hunt alone. If he failed, the pack would force him out into the cold. "If the pack starves, the hunter freezes," was the motto of his alpha, Alexei. Fayowin narrowed his white eyes and drew in the scent of the deer. As he did, he caught the hint of a she-wolf nearby, not of his pack. Distracted for an instant, he snapped back and sprinted for the deer, lunging for it and tearing into its throat and ripping out the windpipe and blood vessels all in one bite. As the smell of blood coated his senses, he began to feel uneasy and whirled around to see a silver wolf snarling at him. It was the she-wolf he had sensed earlier. She stood just a little shorter than him and had strange markings of her own: she bore black marks under her eyes and one on her forehead that resembled a paw. What struck him the most was the band around her upper foreleg. His eyes wandered as he observed her and she growled, bringing his attention back to her glaring green eyes.
"That... was my ****!" she growled. "I don't know how you managed to get it before me, and I don't know how you managed to escape my notice. Who are you?!"
Fayowin sneered and raised an eyebrow, "This, my dear, is MY ****. I've had my eyes on it for a while now. And frankly, this is my territory as well, and unless you want to become part of my territory, I'd suggest you treat me with respect."
She edged closer to him, surprised and infuriated at this male's straightforwardness. But there was something about that and his scent that appealed to her though. "I'm not leaving without this deer."
Fayowin chuckled, "It looks like you will be leaving without it, whoever you are."
"My name... is Feiria!" she licked her lips hungrily, "and that is MY deer!"
Fayowin narrowed his eyes thoughtfully as he studied her. Even through her winter coat, he could see the outline of her ribcage and could smell the desperation on her scent. He saw Feiria's muscles contract as she prepared to lunge at him. He sidestepped and she landed face-first in the snow, a mere inch from the warm deer meat. She looked at him hungrily, almost pleading. Fayowin sighed and nodded his head once, after which Feiria voraciously tore into the carcass.

He slowly meandered towards the center of the clearing and flopped down into the snow. He could hear the she-wolf eating ravenously behind him as he thought of his next move. If he returned to the pack, he'd be ridiculed and forced to live in the snow. If he stayed out here he faced the same problem.

Fayowin flattened his ears back and started to doze off, still listening to Feiria eat his ****. He began dreaming of gaping mountain passes, tall forests, and warm valleys. He felt oddly warm, not freezing cold as he had expected. He didn't care though, warmth was a gift in the winter. He slept peacefully until nightfall overtook the forest and the moonlight shone down and illuminated his fur, the lines becoming like blue fire. His eyes would have glowed if they were open, but they remained oblivious to the change in scenery until a cold wind blew through his fur and he shivered awake. He nearly jumped when he realized why he was so warm: the she-wolf lay curled up, pressed against him, sound asleep. He tilted his head slightly as he watched her sleep, probably the most peaceful she'd been in a long time. Fayowin would've hated to ruin his gift to her, albeit an unwilling one.
Feiria woke up soon after midnight, and gazed fearfully into Fayowin's glowing white eyes, taking in his
Cynical stare and his glowing body. She whispered, "I've heard of your kind..."
he looked curiously at her, "my kind?"
"the star wolves.."
he averted his gaze, "Never heard of them.. I'm just a normal wolf.."
Feiria glared at him, "You're glowing, *******.. Not normal. Unless.... Unless your whole pack is made of star wolves!" her face seemed to light up as she said it.
Fayowin whipped his head around, "No! I'm the only one like this..." he looked solemnly down at his feet as he finished.
She blinked, dumbfounded. Clearing her throat, she said, "I really should get back to my pack. They'll be worried about me if I stay out for much longer." she glanced at the massive deer behind them and sighed quietly.
"Your whole pack is starving...aren't they?" said Fayowin quietly.
Feiria nodded and he stood up and walked through the snow silently towards the deer. "you'll need to lead me to your pack if they're to get this meat."
Feiria blinked again, then nodded, getting up and starting off  
Towards the north. Fayowin gripped the deer's neck and drug the carcass behind him as he walked. After a half hour of walking, Feiria howled long and low, signaling her pack that she was near. Fayowin sighed as he heard their howls respond. He thought, there will be no howls for me tonight...
As they neared her pack's clearing, a group of young wolves sprinted towards them, rushing past Feiria and surrounding Fayowin. "Who is this outsider, Feiria? Why did you bring him here?"
there were five of them and they all went into attack mode, growling and circling him.
Feiria attempted to stop them before they got into a fight, but one of them pounced, and in a flash Fayowin had him pinned to the ground with his fangs around the wolf's neck. Fayowin watched the wolves around him react, stepping back and glancing at each other. Feiria shouted at them to stop but they didn't seem to hear her immediately, backing down only as Fayowin's growl tore through the trees, echoing throughout the forest
. They finally heard her, "he's a star wolf!" by now a crowd had gathered around them, Feiria's packmates watching Fayowin closely. He let go of the young wolf beneath his paws, who quickly scampered away, and Fayowin sat up straight and tall, his markings and eyes glowing for all to see. The wolves ooh'd and ahh'd amongst themselves before the alpha stepped forward and looked him up and down. "You killed this deer, yes?"
"I did."
"Why bring it here? We are strangers to you."
Fayowin glanced at Feiria, who shifted, uncomfortable with the silence. "I brought it here because i could tell that this pack needed the meat more than my own." Fayowin looked directly at Feiria and continued, "besides... She saw it first."
[[][][][][][][][][][][]
(End of day one of writing, really enjoyed it, look forward to writing again)
[][][][][][][][][][][][
Fayowin perched high upon an rock outcropping, overlooking the clearing below and the wolves within. The alpha had allowed him to stay, grateful for the meat. Feiria was pressed against him again, but this time Fayowin didn't mind. He enjoyed the warmth that she provided and felt at ease around her. She nuzzled his cheek affectionately, a move that surprised him enough that he turned to face her, brushing her nose in the process. He gazed fondly into her eyes for a moment before standing. "I have to return to my pack."
Feiria looked shocked, "No, stay here with us. We could use a hunter like you. Plus you're a star wolf, and it doesn't seem like your pack appreciates that."
He let the words sink in before replying, "I have to go. I'll return in the morning." Seeing the desperate and doubtful look on her face, he added, "I promise. I will come back."
Fayowin walked to the edge of the forest, the glow of his body soon disappearing from Feiria's view.
[][][][][][][][][][][][][]
...
[][][][][][][][][][][][][]
F­ayowin sprinted relentlessly back to his territory, smelling the familiar and not so pleasant scents of his packmates. The smell of blood ran thick in the air as he neared the clearing. The moonlight cast eerie shadows around him and he could feel the eyes of the wolves watching him as he reached the gore pile. The mound of bones and rotting flesh dripped blood into the white snow.
"You're late. And emptypawed. You know what that means, filth." the voice was that of his alpha, Marroy, who stood three feet tall at the shoulder, a whole foot and a half shorter than Fayowin. His fur was a mottled black with a grey underbelly.
Fayowin bared his fangs, the longest being three inches long, and he growled, "My name.. is Fayowin."
Marroy cackled in the darkness, "So straightforward. That's unlike you. No matter, you failed to bring us fresh meat. As punishment, you'll be reminded why we protect you in the first place."
Fayowin heard growls emanating from the trees. The pack of around 25 wolves was massive compared to other packs, and there were enough hunters to go around. Fayowin took a step back and let his eyes adjust so he could see them in the trees.
"You don't protect me, Marroy! You fear me!"
Marroy laughed again, "Not from where I'm standing, Mutt. You look pretty frightened." Fayowin took another step back. "Run! Run! Give us some entertainment!"
The wolves started bounding out of the trees and began chasing Fayowin out of the clearing. They seemed to be pouring from every shadow. He ran faster than ever before, the trees blurring past him as he tried to get away. He ran for what seemed like an eternity before seeing the snowy valley at the edge of the forest. He added a burst of speed and instantly regretted it. A rock beneath the snow tripped him and pain shot up his left foreleg. He tumbled end over end in a heap of blue and white, coming to a stop twenty feet away. Fayowin heard the pack coming for him and he tried to crawl away, but to no avail; the pain was too much. He whimpered as he was surrounded, and shut his eyes tight as he felt them bite and claw at him, retreating only after there was a ****** pool around the star wolf. Marroy walked slowly up to him after they had gone and said, "I hope you die out here. If you aren't, we'll make sure that changes." Then the alpha left him there, cold, ******, broken and alone.
[][][][][]][][][][][]]][]][][][][
* (End of Day two/Start of day three of writing and i'm really hooked on this, I believe this may be one of my better stories...)*
[][][][][][]]][][][][][][][][][][
Feiria lay silently on the rock outcropping above the pack and she thought of the star wolf. Something about the breeze brought thoughts to her mind.  
Feiria lifted her nose into the air as the smell of blood became present. She sniffed intently and heard her packmates do the same. She looked in the direction that Fayowin had left in and saw a dark form slowly shambling through the shadowy flora towards her. As it neared her she could see that it was dripping a dark liquid, trailing it through the snow in a scarlet path. "Its Fayowin.." she thought to herself. "Why are his eyes so dark? Why isn't he glowing?"
she rushed to his side and the smell of his blood was almost overwhelming. There were numerous bites and cuts all over him and his left foreleg seemed broken.
Feiria called for the healer, an older female named Sheya, and supported Fayowin as they walked to the glade and waited for the healer. Fayowin collapsed in the center of the clearing, the moonlight hitting him directly, making the blood seem black against his white fur.
Feiria whimpered helplessly, waiting for Fayowin to answer, but his eyes seemed so lifeless that
She felt it was almost a false hope. When Sheya finally arrived, the blood had stopped flowing and his breathing had slowed until he was asleep. When the healer examined him, she looked puzzled.
"what's the matter, Elder?"
Sheya pondered a moment before saying, "His wounds have healed. I'd say its a miracle, seeing as he lost so much blood."
Feiria examined the sleeping wolf herself and found the elders words to be true; there wasn't a scratch left on him. "Leave him here, the sunlight will warm him once daylight comes and his fur is thicker than ours so the cold will not affect him as much." the gathered wolves sat in silence as Feiria washed the blood from his fur with snow and lay down next to him, pressing her body against his. The blue lines on Fayowin dimmed and brightened in tune with his heartbeat, and Feiria listened as her own beat matched it.
[][][][]][][[][][][][][][][][][]
...End of day 3....
[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
Fayowin felt like he was in another world, this one so much quieter, but at the same time he could sense every noise, every movement, every vibration. His fur was no longer the bright white it once was, but rather a deep black with crimson lines flowing round him. He was lying down, surrounded by a wolf pack, Feiria pressed against him for warmth. He saw, or rather sensed her spirit energy, a type of green fire that outlined her entire body as she slept. Fayowin stood up, thinking to wake her and let her know he was alright, but she hadn't moved. And neither had he; his white furred body remained as it was a moment ago, but he was looking at it as if in another body. He took a step back as he realized he was roaming about in his spirit form. He looked around at the pack and none of the gathered wolves seemed to notice him. He exited the circle of onlookers and gazed up at the falling moon, watching it descend into the horizon, chased away by the rays of the sun coming over the mountaintops to the east. As the sun peeked over the ridge, Fayowin caught something out of the corner of his eye, a dark mass that didn't fit right with the rest of the environment. He looked and saw two sets of glowing purple eyes in the shade. He called out to them, hoping they might hear. "Hey! Can you see me?"
The eyes looked at each other and then back at him, staring for a moment before turning and running.
"Hey, wait!!" Fayowin called after them and began to chase them deeper and deeper into the mysterious forest.The beings moved faster than Fayowin had anticipated, disappearing soon after the chase had begun. Fayowin stood there in the middle of the woods, panting and searching for the elusive forms. After a moment he saw them at the very edge of his vision, their eyes glowing brighter, almost as if they were taunting him forward. Snarling, Fayowin bolted towards them and they led him on a winding path marked by a barely discernable scent trail. The smell was that of burnt wood and crushed pine needles and was oddly alluring to Fayowin as he ran. It seeemed as if he were running for ages, the sun and moon rotating numerous times around him as he traveled over mountains and rivers, through forests and valleys. On the thirteenth solar rotation, the figures finally stopped, joined by eleven other figures surrounding a circular rock with vines and overgrowth covering its base.
As he neared the figures, he saw that they all looked like him, long furred and covered in glowing lines. "Star wolves... Like me..."
The wolves all surrounded the dais and watched him with razor sharp eyes, watching his every move. As he gazed back, Fayowin noticed that each of them had some form of a trident mark right below their left eye, the color matching the lines tracing their bodies. He felt the urge to move forward, as if an instinct were telling him to stand in the center of the circle. Fayowin stood, all eyes on him as he waited for whatever was about to come.
[][][][][][][][][][][][]
....I have nothing to say to you HP... I dislike you at the moment....
[][][][][][][][][][][][]
Nightfall was coming swiftly, the moon and the stars swirling into place above them, reaching their peak and then halting completely. All of time and
Fearless
PART 1
Chapter 1
It was cold. Freezing. The first day of the winter chill had started here in Washington. There was a semi-secluded high school deep in the woods, holding some two thousand high school students.
Professor Thompson, a younger teacher, was yelling again, "If I see another one of you punks rolling in here halfway through class, I swear I'm going to fail each and every one of you!" Alexei grinned, his eyes closed, mouthing out the exact same phrase in unison with the teacher. His "pack" snickered behind him, nine boys and girls all dressed in dark clothes with varying levels of oddity. They were a small part of the senior class at Liberty High, and had the reputation as dangerous, rebellious punks. They embraced the title, knowing how true it was. They were Lycans. Shape shifters. Werewolves. They all meant the same thing. When they were young, around fifteen, they would have had their first shift. They would turn into Dire Wolves, about twice as large as your normal gray wolf.  During their first transformation, they would be guided to an alpha who would help them transition to the new life, teaching them how to shift at will and how to survive. In this case, Alexei was the alpha and this was his territory.
Alexei stood at exactly six feet tall, was light skinned and was built like an animal, lean and muscular. His straight hair was jet black and ended in a flurry of blood red tips that lay hidden under a heavy black jacket and a hood lined with white fur. Alexei generally kept his eyes closed unless he was angry or upset, using his enhanced hearing and smell to navigate. "Hunter, eyes forward!" Alexei turned his head slightly to the left, where Hunter sat, or rather slept. Alexei heard his pack mate wake up in a daze and groan, "What? I'm still in class? Man this *****." His green hair bounced in front of his eyes, tickling his nose and making him sneeze.
Alexei grinned, flashing his long canines and the rest of the Pack laughed quietly amongst themselves. "Alexei... would you mind keeping your cronies under control, please?" He opened his eyes slightly, their golden glow piercing the darkness of the hood like slivers of fire. The pack immediately went silent.
"Why of course, professor. We wouldn't want to disturb the lecture now would we?" His powerful voice dripped acidic sarcasm, laced with a deadly seriousness. "Right guys?" The question hung dead I'm the air for a few heartbeats.
When no response came, he turned his head sharply, his piercing eyes fully open. "Right?!" His voice boomed throughout the room like thunder and a collection of nervous, 'yes sir, yes alpha' rang out quietly. He closed his eyes again and said, "All yours, professor."
Just bear with it guys, its the last class of the day.
He heard another person's voice flutter into his thoughts. but, alpha, it was Leiks, one of the betas. its snowing... we want to go out.
He growled slightly, And you think I don't? You know how this works, Leiks.
He heard her whimper slightly in submission, backing out of his thoughts. She fidgeted in her seat in the back row, looking out the window at the puffy white flakes cascading down around the school. Her blonde hair ended in purple curls that bounced around her chest. She was shorter, around five foot four inches tall, and was one of the three betas in Alexei's pack. The other two were the twins, Ruby and Sapphire, whose hair was black and ended in red and blue respectively. They rarely spoke to others out loud, keeping their thoughts to themselves. The other four were all deltas or omegas.
Alexei caught a hint of something in the air, it smelled like a sweet musk mixed with crisp apples. The smell sent a tingle up and down his spine for a few moments before settling. He growled softly in his throat, grinning.
Smell something, alpha?, it was Leiks.
Yeah... maybe...
He grinned and felt warm all over, however more impatient to get outside.
Professor Thompson continued with his lecture on mythology, talking about the classic horror creatures like vampires and werewolves. He focused awfully ******* the latter, going on and on about lycanthropy and the horrible nature of werewolves.
Alexei bared his fangs in a silent growl, gripping the edge of his desk hard enough to make it creak in dismay. What does he know.... he hasn't been through it.... he hasn't seen his friends die in front of him… An image flashed before his eyes of a bloodied white wolf lying before him, whimpering helplessly as its crimson blood steamed against the snow. His anger lasted only a second before a hand tenderly gripped his shoulder. His eyes flashed open and he gasped slightly. He snapped his gaze over his shoulder at the pack, their eyes wide and locked on him, emanating dread. The hand belonged to Flora, the youngest member of the pack at 17. Her eyes were full of innocent fear as she looked at her enraged alpha. He nodded and she let go of his shoulder. Alexei turned and shut his eyes again, his good mood soured for now. He took a deep breath and sighed, wishing for that scent again. Five more minutes...
Those five minutes drug on like a glacier, the professor's words trailing off into the distance as he switched topics. Can he go any slower?
Don't jinx us, alpha, sir. came Flora's response.
You don't have to call me sir, Flora. We're a family.
The wolves stayed silent for the rest of the class, listening halfheartedly to the professor. "As you all know, this is the last day of school until January. I hope you all have some plans, some family to go see."
He paused for a moment and then: "Never. Ever. Forget. There is a grain of truth in every myth." The professor was looking directly at Alexei, who cringed slightly. He could feel the teacher's eyes boring into his soul. The bell finally rang, and Alexei was the first one out, quickly followed by the scrambling pack. They wound through hallways and double doors until they felt the tingle of cold touch their skin. They trailed along behind their leader and burst out the doors, welcoming the frigid air and the soft snowfall they had waited all year for. They hooted and howled giddily, their faces covered in goofy grins and awestruck eyes as they pushed past Alexei and dove into the snow with the other students. Alexei stood there, looking for what he had smelled earlier, for him it was more important than the snow. He scanned the horizon, eyes open wide and searching relentlessly. After a moment, he saw his target, leaning against a tree on the far end of the schoolyard, her fiery hair waving gracefully in the wind. "Jenna."
She winked at him and gestured to her right, where an open forest lay uninhabited. He nodded slightly and made his way down the steps, his heart pounding harder and harder in his chest.
I'll be back soon... Leiks you're in charge.
You okay, alpha, sir? Flora always worried for her alpha.
Yeah, I just need a walk is all.
But... Leiks put a hand on Flora's shoulder and shook her head.
Alexei walked to the edge of the schoolyard and saw that Jenna was already in the woods. Glancing back at the pack, he grinned like a Cheshire cat and chased after her.
They wound through the trees, picking up speed and tossing their heavy jackets away.
Come catch me, big boy. she taunted.
I intend to.
He watched her every graceful move, following relentlessly until he had her. He wrapped his arms around her in a tackle and they rolled, laughing all the while until they came to a halt. Alexei was on top of Jenna, straddling her legs and breathing heavily with her. She closed her eyes and grinned wide, her chest heaving. The air was freezing cold but they couldn't feel it as he leaned in and kissed her deeply, entwining his fingers into her hair. She kissed back, biting his lip in the way she knew would make him weak. She felt his muscles quiver and she took the opportunity to push him onto his back and claim dominance over him by straddling him. She smelled amazing, the musk of her animal side mixed with her perfume drove Alexei crazy.
He slid his hand under her shirt and felt the curves of her slender body press against him as she gasped. She pulled away from the kiss, a grin on her face, "Not yet, ***. There's time for that later."
"I've missed you, kitten."
She growled softly, "you best stop that while you're ahead, sweetheart." She grinned wider and kneaded her claws into his chest. Alexei called her 'kitten' because of her fondness towards cats, specifically kittens.
"Are the others here too?" He pushed her up off of him and stood up himself, closing his eyes in the process. The others were Jenna's friends who had left with her a year ago.
"Mmmhmm. They got here shortly before I did. They're already at the hideout."
Alexei nodded, "We'll be there shortly. Do you want to come with us for the time being?" They began walking back to the schoolyard, grabbing their jackets on the way.
She giggled, "I suppose I should, so they can get used to having two alphas around." Her eyes twinkled as she said it.
Alexei grinned, "I thought it wasn't for another year! Congratulations!"
"They pushed it up since I've been moving up so fast." Jenna had gone to a Lycan Academy farther north, in Canada. There, wolves would be trained to become better leaders or soldiers, depending on their rank. Jenna had shown great promise immediately and was put into higher groups and classes.
The schoolyard soon came into view, and Alexei's pack was still playing in the snow, throwing snowballs and just rolling around in the stuff among the other high schoolers. He whistled a little tune and each of the pack members looked directly at him, going wide eyed when they saw Jenna. They rushed over as fast as they could and tackled her with hugs. "You're back!"
Jenna struggled to get up as a dog pile ensued. Alexei's wild laugh mixed with the cacophony of greetings as Jenna squirmed out. Flora stood behind Alexei, this new person's presence terrifying to her. As the pack got untangled from each other, Jenna walked up to Alexei and Flora, who hid behind him like a cowering pup. Jenna looked at her, "Hey. I'm Jenna, me and Alexei are old friends."
Flora whimpered quietly but peeked out enough so she could get a good look at Jenna. Alexei turned to the pack, saying, "We're going back to the hideout. There's some old friends waiting there for us."

Chapter 2
The pack carried on as usual, sauntering on down the sidewalk leading further into the woods with Jenna, Alexei and Flora following close behind.
"How old is she?" Asked Jenna.
"I'm seventeen. This is my first year as-..." she trailed off, still unsure of herself.
"As a Lycan?" Flora nodded softly.
"You know about us?" Asked Flora, bewildered.
Jenna giggled a little, letting flora get a good look at her canines, which extended down to her lower teeth. "I'm one of you."
Flora looked at her, confused. "But you don't smell like them. You smell different."
Jenna glanced at Alexei, who was still strolling alongside them with his eyes closed as usual. "You can tell her, Kitten."
Jenna punched him in the shoulder with a loud thud that would have left any normal person cringing, but Alexei just shrugged it off. He's definitely a lot stronger than I remember.
She turned to Flora, "I'm an alpha. Like Alexei. Each alpha has a different scent."
Flora gazed at her with newfound wonder and fear. Jenna saw this and said, "Don't worry, Flora. I only bite my prey. You're not prey, are you?"
Flora grinned a little, "Of course not."
They had reached a little clearing with ten trees aligned in a perfect circle around a massive evergreen that towered roughly sixty feet tall, casting a massive shadow underneath it. The pack had named it the Forever Tree, with its many years to come. At the base of the ten trees were empty backpacks covered in snow, each one a different style and color. The pack gathered under the Forever Tree and looked at Alexei with a certain desire clear on their faces.
Alexei grinned and said, "Go wild, guys."
"Finally!" The pack began to transform, fur popping out of their skin in a wave of softness, their faces elongating into muzzles and their fangs revealing themselves in their entirety. Their majestic tails struggled to get free from the jackets and pants that surrounded the wolves. They shook the clothes from their bodies, piling them up in individual piles before taking them to the backpacks under the trees. Each one expertly placed their clothes into the bag and then sat patiently next to their trees as the two alphas and Flora watched. Once each wolf was finished, Alexei whistled sharply and they grabbed their bags by the carry handle and formed a line in front of him. Alexei had modified each bag to fit as a harness around the wolves, making the transport that much easier. He helped each one of his pack mates with their bag and they in turn took shelter under the Forever tree. Once everyone was there, Alexei waved them off and they took off into the woods.
"Flora, grab your bag so it doesn't get lost out here."
"Yes, alpha, sir." She ran to grab her bag from the last tree. Alexei and Jenna casually followed, "You don't have to call me sir, Flora. Remember? We're a family."
They followed the paw prints in the snow up a winding path which led to an old cabin, seemingly forgotten out here. The smell of wolf musk was heavy in the air as they approached. The cabin rested on the top of a tall hill, with a winding staircase leading up to the wraparound porch and the two story cabin itself. All the wolves were waiting, already mingled in with each other on the porch. Jenna's pack was roughly five wolves, mostly female. As all wolves find out eventually, whatever modifications they do to their human body, such as tattoos or hair dyes, crosses over to their wolf body. Some used this trick as a way to make themselves unique, or to show a pack allegiance. Alexei's pack were unique in their markings, each one having their hair dyed and having a wolf paw surrounded by a crescent moon. Jenna's pack was similar, though theirs was a long fang piercing a heart.
As they got closer, Jenna's wolves began to bark happily, welcoming their alphas. Jenna's betas were waiting at the base of the stairs, three grey females named Ginger, Lexi, and Anna.
Alex! We're so happy to see you! called Anna, one of Alexei's oldest friends.
"I've missed you guys too, you didn't have to wait down here for us, you know. Go on and say hi to the others." He scratched each of them behind the ears and they ran up the stairs happily. "Flora, you can wolf out now, I'll take care of your stuff."
She looked gratefully at her alpha and shifted into her wolf form, a sleek white, unmarked unlike the others. She ran up the stairs as Alexei gathered her clothes into the bag. Jenna took his hand once he'd finished and they walked up the stairs together, joining the wolves on the porch.
Alexei unlocked the front door and let the wolves into the spacious interior, with a mix of dog beds and couches in the main living area surrounding a large television. The kitchen had been recently stocked by Alexei, the freezer full of uncooked meats of all kinds. Alexei's wolves all gripped the release clip on their harnesses with their teeth and let their bags fall to their side, lining them against the wall near the door. Jenna watched this unfold as her own pack dragged in their own heavy bags from outside, bulky and awkward to carry in wolf form.
"I see you've been busy, Alex."
"I have extras in the storage room upstairs, if you guys are interested."
Her wolves whimpered pleadingly in response, the last one pulling the door closed behind her with a leather strap hanging from the handle.
Alexei turned to Leiks, who was halfway up the stairs already. "You know where they are right?" The black wolf nodded, her necklaces clinking slightly as she padded up the stairs. Everyone began settling down onto the couches and beds and Leiks came back down with five bags for Jenna's wolves.
The snow had begun to fall harder and there was a fresh blanket covering the tracks leading to the cabin. They were watching Balto, one of their favorite movies, when Alexei snapped his head towards the door, eyes open and glowing. He paused the movie and the wolves' attention was now on him as he looked out the window. He swore under his breath and cl
will edit more in soon
Helpless
Fearless
PART 1
Chapter 1
It was cold. Freezing. The first day of the winter chill had started here in Washington. There was a semi-secluded high school deep in the woods, holding some two thousand high schoolers. Professor Thompson, a younger teacher, was yelling again, "If I see another one of you punks rolling in here halfway through class, I swear I'm going to fail each and every one of you!"
Alexei grinned, his eyes closed, mouthing out the exact same phrase in unison with the teacher. His "pack" snickered behind him, nine boys and girls all dressed in dark clothes with varying levels of oddity. They were a small part of the senior class at Liberty High, and had the reputation as dangerous, rebellious punks. They embraced the title, knowing how true it was. They were Lycans. Shape shifters. Werewolves. They all meant the same thing. When they were young, around fifteen, they would have had their first shift. They would turn into Dire Wolves, about twice as large as your normal gray wolf.  During their first transformation, they would be guided to an alpha who would help them transition to the new life, teaching them how to shift at will and how to survive. In this case, Alexei was the alpha and this was his territory.
Alexei stood at exactly six feet tall, was light skinned and was built like an animal, lean and muscular. His straight hair was jet black and ended in a flurry of blood red tips that lay hidden under a heavy black jacket and a hood lined with white fur. Alexei generally kept his eyes closed unless he was angry or upset, using his enhanced hearing and smell to navigate. "Hunter, eyes forward!" Alexei turned his head slightly to the left, where Hunter sat, or rather slept. Alexei heard his pack mate wake up in a daze and groan.
"What? I'm still in class? Man this *****." His green hair bounced in front of his eyes, tickling his nose and making him sneeze.
Alexei grinned, flashing his long canines and the rest of the Pack laughed quietly amongst themselves. "Alexei... would you mind keeping your cronies under control, please?" He opened his eyes slightly, their golden glow piercing the darkness of the hood like slivers of fire. The pack immediately went silent.
"Why of course, professor. We wouldn't want to disturb the lecture now would we?" His powerful voice dripped acidic sarcasm, laced with a deadly seriousness. "Right guys?" The question hung dead I'm the air for a few heartbeats. When no response came, he turned his head sharply, his piercing eyes fully open. "Right?!" His voice boomed throughout the room and a collection of nervous, 'yes sir, yes alpha' rang out quietly. He closed his eyes again and said, "All yours, professor."
Just bear with it guys, it’s the last class of the day. He heard another person's voice flutter into his thoughts.
But, alpha, it was Leiks, one of the betas. It’s snowing... we want to go out.
He growled slightly, And you think I don't? You know how this works, Leiks. He heard her whimper slightly in submission, backing out of his thoughts. She fidgeted in her seat in the back row, looking out the window at the puffy white flakes cascading down around the school. Her blonde hair ended in purple curls that bounced around her chest. She was shorter, around five foot four inches tall, and was one of the three betas in Alexei's pack. The other two were the twins, Ruby and Sapphire, whose hair was black and ended in red and blue respectively. They rarely spoke to others out loud, keeping their thoughts to themselves. The other four were all deltas or omegas.
Alexei caught a hint of something in the air, it smelled like a sweet musk mixed with crisp apples. The smell sent a tingle up and down his spine for a few moments before settling. He growled softly in his throat, grinning.
Smell something, alpha?, whispered Leiks.
Yeah... maybe. He grinned and felt warm all over, however more impatient to get outside.
Professor Thompson continued with his lecture on mythology, talking about the classic horror creatures like vampires and werewolves. He focused awfully ******* the latter, going on and on about lycanthropy and the horrible nature of werewolves.
Alexei bared his fangs in a silent growl, gripping the edge of his desk hard enough to make it creak in dismay. What does he know.... he hasn't been through it.... he hasn't seen his friends die in front of him.  An image flashed before his eyes of a bloodied white wolf lying before him, whimpering helplessly as its crimson blood steamed against the snow. His anger lasted only a second before a hand tenderly gripped his shoulder. His eyes flashed open and he gasped slightly. He snapped his gaze over his shoulder at the pack, their eyes wide and locked on him, emanating dread. The hand belonged to Flora, the youngest member of the pack at 17. Her bright blue eyes were full of innocent fear as she looked at her enraged alpha. He nodded and she let go of his shoulder. Her hoodie shadowed her snow white hair as she hid back in her seat. Alexei turned and shut his eyes again, his good mood soured for now. He took a deep breath and sighed, wishing for that scent again. Five more minutes...
Those five minutes drug on like a glacier, the professor's words trailing off into the distance as he switched topics. Can he go any slower?
Don't jinx us, alpha, sir. came Flora's response.
You don't have to call me sir, Flora. We're a family. The wolves stayed silent for the rest of the class, listening halfheartedly to the professor.
"As you all know, this is the last day of school until January. I hope you all have some plans, some family to go see." He paused for a moment and then: "Never. Ever. Forget. There is a grain of truth in every myth." The professor was looking directly at Alexei, who cringed slightly. The bell finally rang, and Alexei was the first one out, quickly followed by the scrambling pack. They wound through hallways and double doors until they felt the tingle of cold touch their skin. They trailed along behind their leader and burst out the doors, welcoming the frigid air and the soft snowfall they had waited all year for. They hooted and howled giddily, their faces covered in goofy grins and awestruck eyes as they pushed past Alexei and dove into the snow with the other students. Alexei stood there, looking for what he had smelled earlier, for him it was more important than the snow. He scanned the horizon, eyes open wide and searching relentlessly. After a moment, he saw his target, leaning against a tree on the far end of the schoolyard, her fiery hair waving gracefully in the wind. "Eve."
She winked at him and gestured to her right, where an open forest lay uninhabited. He nodded slightly and made his way down the steps, his heart pounding harder and harder in his chest.
I'll be back soon... Leiks you're in charge.
You okay, alpha, sir? Flora always worried for her alpha.
Yeah, I just need a walk is all.
But... Leiks put a hand on Flora's shoulder and shook her head. Alexei walked to the edge of the schoolyard and saw that Eve was already in the woods. Glancing back at the pack, he grinned like a Cheshire cat and chased after her.
They wound through the trees, picking up speed and tossing their heavy jackets away. Come catch me, big boy. she taunted.
I intend to. He watched her every graceful move, following relentlessly until he had her. He wrapped his arms around her in a tackle and they rolled, laughing all the while until they came to a halt. Alexei was on top of Eve, straddling her legs and breathing heavily with her. She closed her eyes and grinned wide, her chest heaving. The air was freezing cold but they couldn't feel it as he leaned in and kissed her deeply, entwining his fingers into her hair. She kissed back, biting his lip in the way she knew would make him weak. She felt his muscles quiver and she took the opportunity to push him onto his back and claim dominance over him by straddling him. She smelled amazing, the musk of her animal side mixed with her perfume drove Alexei crazy.
He slid his hand under her shirt and felt the curves of her slender body press against him as she gasped. She pulled away from the kiss, a grin on her face, "Not yet, ***. There's time for that later."
"I've missed you, kitten."
She growled softly, "you best stop that while you're ahead, sweetheart." She grinned wider and kneaded her claws into his chest. Alexei called her 'kitten' because of her fondness towards cats, specifically kittens. Many of her mannerisms also had a feline quality about them.
"Are the others here too?" He pushed her up off of him and stood up himself, closing his eyes in the process. The others were Eve's friends who had left with her a year ago.
"Mmmhmm. They got here shortly before I did. They're already at the hideout."
Alexei nodded, "We'll be there shortly. Do you want to come with us for the time being?" They began walking back to the schoolyard, grabbing their jackets on the way.
She giggled, "I suppose I should, so they can get used to having two alphas around." Her eyes twinkled as she said it.
Alexei grinned, "I thought graduation wasn't for another year! Congratulations!"
"They pushed it up since I've been moving up so fast." Eve had gone to a Lycan Academy farther north, in Canada. There, wolves would be trained to become better leaders or soldiers, depending on their rank. Eve had shown great promise immediately and was put into higher groups and classes.
The schoolyard soon came into view, and Alexei's pack was still playing in the snow, throwing snowballs and just rolling around in the stuff among the other high schoolers. He whistled a little tune and each of the pack members looked directly at him, going wide eyed when they saw Eve. They rushed over as fast as they could and tackled her with hugs. "You're back!"
Eve struggled to get up as a dog pile ensued. Alexei's wild laugh mixed with the cacophony of greetings as Eve squirmed out. Flora stood behind Alexei, this new person's presence terrifying to her. As the pack got untangled from each other, Eve walked up to Alexei and Flora, who hid behind him like a cowering pup. Eve looked at her, "Hey. I'm Eve, me and Alexei are old friends."
Flora whimpered quietly but peeked out enough so she could get a good look at Eve. Alexei turned to the pack, saying, "We're going back to the hideout. There's some old friends waiting there for us."

Chapter 2
The pack carried on as usual, sauntering on down the sidewalk leading further into the woods with Eve, Alexei and Flora following close behind. Flora shadowed her alpha constantly, being the only Lycan she fully trusted.
"How old is she?" Asked Eve.
"I'm seventeen. This is my first year as-..." she trailed off, still unsure of herself.
"As a Lycan?" Flora nodded softly.
"You know about us?" Asked Flora, bewildered.
Eve giggled a little, letting  get a good look at her canines, which extended down to her lower teeth. "I'm one of you."
Flora looked at her, confused. "But you don't smell like them. You smell different."
Eve glanced at Alexei, who was still strolling alongside them with his eyes closed as usual. "You can tell her, Kitten." In retaliation, Eve punched him in the shoulder with a loud thud that would have left any normal person writhing in pain, but Alexei just shrugged it off. He's definitely a lot stronger than I remember.
She turned to Flora, "I'm an alpha. Like Alexei. Each alpha has a different scent."
Flora gazed at her with newfound wonder and fear. Eve saw this and said, "Don't worry, Flora. I only bite my prey. You're not prey, are you?"
Flora grinned a little, "Of course not.” They had reached a little clearing with ten trees aligned in a perfect circle around a massive evergreen that towered roughly sixty feet tall, casting a massive shadow underneath it. The pack had named it the Forever Tree, with its many years to come. At the base of the ten trees were empty backpacks covered in snow, each one a different style and color. The pack gathered under the Forever Tree and looked at Alexei with a certain desire clear on their faces.
Alexei grinned and said, "Go wild, guys."
"Finally!" The pack began to transform, fur popping out of their skin in a wave of softness, their faces elongating into muzzles and their fangs revealing themselves in their entirety. Their majestic tails struggled to get free from the jackets and pants that surrounded the wolves. They shook the clothes from their bodies, piling them up in individual piles before taking them to the backpacks under the trees. Each one expertly placed their clothes into the bag and then sat patiently next to their trees as the two alphas and Flora watched. Once each wolf was finished, Alexei whistled sharply and they grabbed their bags by the carry handle and formed a line in front of him. Alexei had modified each bag to fit as a harness around the wolves, making the transport that much easier. He helped each one of his pack mates with their bag and they in turn took shelter under the Forever tree. Once everyone was there, Alexei waved them off and they took off into the woods.
"Flora, grab your bag so it doesn't get lost out here."
"Yes, alpha, sir." She ran to grab her bag from the last tree. Alexei and Eve casually followed, "You don't have to call me sir, Flora. Remember? We're a family."
They followed the paw prints in the snow up a winding path which led to an old cabin, seemingly forgotten out here. The smell of wolf musk was heavy in the air as they approached. The cabin rested on the top of a tall hill, with a winding staircase leading up to the wraparound porch and the two story cabin itself. All the wolves were waiting, already mingled in with each other on the porch. Eve's pack was roughly five wolves, mostly female. As all wolves find out eventually, whatever modifications they do to their human body, such as tattoos or hair dyes, crosses over to their wolf body. Some used this trick as a way to make themselves unique, or to show a pack allegiance. Alexei's pack was unique in their markings, each one having their hair dyed and having a wolf paw surrounded by a crescent moon. Eve's pack was similar, though theirs was a long fang piercing a heart.
As they got closer, Eve's wolves began to bark happily, welcoming their alphas. Eve's betas were waiting at the base of the stairs, three grey females named Ginger, Lexi, and Anna.
Alex! We're so happy to see you! called Anna, one of Alexei's oldest friends.
"I've missed you guys too, you didn't have to wait down here for us, you know. Go on and say hi to the others." He scratched each of them behind the ears and they ran up the stairs happily. "Flora, you can wolf out now, I'll take care of your stuff."
She looked gratefully at her alpha and shifted into her wolf form, a sleek white, unmarked unlike the others. She ran up the stairs as Alexei gathered her clothes into the bag. Eve took his hand once he'd finished and they walked up the stairs together, joining the wolves on the porch.
Alexei unlocked the front door and let the wolves into the spacious interior, with a mix of dog beds and couches in the main living area surrounding a large television. The kitchen had been recently stocked by Alexei, the freezer full of uncooked meats of all kinds. Alexei's wolves all gripped the release clip on their harnesses with their teeth and let their bags fall to their side, lining them against the wall near the door. Eve watched this unfold as her own pack dragged in their own heavy bags from outside, bulky and awkward to carry in wolf form.
"I see you've been busy, Alex."
"I have extras in the storage room upstairs, if you guys are interested." Her wolves whimpered pleadingly in response, the last one pulling the door closed behind her with a leather strap hanging from the handle. Alexei shrugged off his heavy fur cloak and hung it next to the door.
Alexei turned to Leiks, who was halfway up the stairs already. "You know where they are right?" The white wolf nodded, her necklaces clinking slightly as she padded up the stairs. Everyone began settling down onto the couches and beds and Leiks came back down with five bags for Eve's wolves. She set them near the doorway, in case they needed to le
Sean Hastings Feb 2015
A family of sheep live in harmony, all from different areas
Different ages and different ideas. They all came together
United in a friendship, strong enough to be called a family
But there are wolves out there…. Terrible creatures that
Want nothing more to attack the sheep. They once might
Of been sheep, but something dark and twisted shaped them
Into the creatures they are now. They stalk, coming closer to
The family, moving in to destroy the harmony they live in
But as they come close they feel a presence pushing at them
Something protecting the sheep, something dark as them, sending
Shivers down the wolves spines, something terrible enough
To scare the mighty wolves

A mighty bear, massive in size, vast bigger than the wolves
The bear has strong curved claws ready to attack any that
Approach. Its speed is also a deadly trait the bear possesses
Able to out run any evil coming at him. The bear also has a
A super amazing sense of smell, able to smell the stench from
Miles away.
The bear perks up, catching the smell of a creature that doesn’t
Belong…

The other creature is the sheepdog. Though not as big as the
Bear the sheepdog has a presence that scares the wolves.
The sheepdog has fangs as long as the wolves and attacks
Just as ferocious as the wolves. While the bear knows when
Violence can be avoided by scaring the wolves away, the
Sheepdog does not know this, he jumps at the violence
Instead, taking the impulse to attack and destroy, marking
Him close to the wolves.

The bear circles to the sheepdog and together they move to
The wolves, ready to protect the family behind them
The wolves leave, scattering to avoid them, facing away
From the ever presence
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

There is a glacier.
Its blue tongue’s tip just tastes a frozen gorge.
There is a gorge, its walls shattered by cold; a once-green thing that, in dying, birthed a thousand aching fissures. It works its jagged way downhill, round ragged rifts and drifts until it comes upon a little frosted wood.
There is a wood, an island locked in ice.
Within this wood the gorge descends. It wanders and it wends; it brakes and all but ends outside a clearing wet with sun. And there, forking, its bent and broken arms embrace a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a glade.
And in this glade the black bears sleep, though salmon leap fat between falls. Here the field mouse draws no shadow, the eagle seeks no prey; they spend their while caressed by rays, and halcyon days are they. Here rabbit and fawn may linger, no longer need they flee. For in this timeless, taintless space, the Wild has ceased to be. (Outside the glade are shadow and prey, are ice and naked death. There blood may run freely. There the eagle, that thief, is a righteous savage, a noble fiend. But once in the glade he is dove, and has no taste for blood, running freely or otherwise).
And in this glade there nests a pool:  a dazzling, blue-and-silver jewel; profoundly deep, pristinely clear. All who sip find solace here, for this is the Eye of Being. They lap in peace, assuming blear, not knowing it is seeing. And ever thus this pool shall peer:  a silent seer, reflecting on—all that Is, and all Beyond.
(Outside the glade there lies a world where rivers ever run, where ghastly calves in random file revile a bitter sun. East, the day is born in mist. West she dies:  her rest, the deep. And North…North the Earth lies mute. Wind gnaws her hide, wind wracks her dreams. Wind screams like a flute in her white, white sleep).
But in the glade are tall, stately grasses, sunning raptly, spinning lore. Roots render the rhythms, blades bend without breeze, as signals ascend from the glade’s tender floor. (In this wise the glade weaves its word, airs its views. All the glade’s flora are bearers of news). They do not wither with fall, for in the glade there is no fall. They do not bind or wilt or brown—they gesture, spreading the mood, the mind; conveying, indeed, the very soul of the glade. As ever they have, as they shall evermore.
Bees do not hum here; they sing. They fatten the dream. Mellow and round are the timbres they sound, sweet is the music they bring. Birds do not sing here—they play. They carry the theme. Dulcet and warm are the strains they perform. Gifted musicians are they. (All in the glade are virtuosi. They were born to create. Melody, harmony, meter…are innate). Now the performance is lively and bright, now full, now almost still. For, though all in the glade may lean to the light, they must bend to the maestro’s feel.
And yet…there was a day, long ago in a dream, when this ongoing opus was torn. And on that day (so the lullaby goes) the wind brought a scream, and Dissonance was born.
There was a noise.
Moose tensed, their coffee eyes narrowed, their patient brows creased. Bees mauled the tempo, birds lost their place. The grass stood *****, all blades pointing east. There was a crash, and a shriek, and a naked, bleeding beast burst stinking through the fern, fell stumbling on its face.
Moose scattered:  unheard of. Sheep brawled, geese burst out of rhyme. The symphony, forever endeavored to soar sublime, fluttered, plunged, and, for all of a measure, ceased.
The pool was appalled…what manner brute—what kind of monster was this? Furless flank to forelimb, hide obscured by blood. As for its face…it had no face; only a look:  of shock frozen in time, of horror in amber. A deep welling rift ran temple to chin, halving the mask, caving it in. Such a grievous wound…the pool watched it stagger, on two legs and four, thrashing about till it came to a rise. There it labored for air, wiped the blood from its eyes, lashed at illusion, looked wildly round. Beholding the pool, the beast tumbled down.
And there this wretch plunged his thirst, drank his fill, fell back on his haunches.
The pool became still.
The two traded stares.
The glass read his features:  that durable eye pondered the wreckage and probed the debris. Revolted, the pool sought the succor of sky. But that thing remained—that face…in all creation…surely there could be…no other creature so ugly as he.
And he gazed in the glass.
Beneath the surface were…images…swimming in currents of shadow and light. He saw half-shapes and fragments…hideous men, exotic beasts…saw blue worlds of water, saw white worlds of ice…it was all so vague and unreal—yet somehow strangely familiar. Deeper he peered, but, as his mangled face neared, the sun smote the pool and the shapes disappeared. The brute pawed the ground and, dreaming he’d drowned, shook his head sharply and slowly looked round:
There were starlings at arm’s-length, transfixed with suspense, their tail feathers trembling, their dark eyes intense. Fantails and timber wolves, stepping in sync, paused for a sniff, stooped for a drink. Bees, pirouetting, threw light in his eyes. Seizing the moment, the pool pressed its hold.
And the glade revolved.
The freak watched it spin—saw the ferns’ greedy fingers reach round and close in, saw the tall grass rise high in an emerald sheen, swaying to rhythms from somewhere obscene. This place was madness; he struggled to stand, but, weak as he was, keeled over cold.
And the glade heaved a sigh, and the tall grass reclined, in curious patterns once rendered in whim. Far off in thunder the hard world replied, as iced pines exploded and screamed on the breeze. Down bore the sun, a chill just behind. The pool, grown blood-red, fended frost from its rim. Details dissolved in the oncoming tide. The pool dimmed to black. Night seeped through the trees.
Now flora found slumber while, pulsing below, the pool was infused with a soft ruby glow.
Soon birds bearing beech leaves, and needles of pine, laid down a spread and returned to the limb. But breath from the North blew their blanket aside. The wind grew in earnest, the air seemed to freeze.
And the wolf and the she-bear, of contrary mind, abhorring their task approached, looking grim. They sniffed him for measure, then, loathing his hide, growled their displeasure and dropped to their knees.
All night these glum attendants flanked his naked quaking form. The rising moon drew dreams in gray.
In time the man grew warm.

Morning swept through the glade in one broad stroke of the master’s brush, dappling the foliage with amber and rose. The pool was roused by the sweet pass of light. He opened his eye and the glade came alive:  into the whirlpool of life a thousand colors swam, chasing the scattering eddies of night. The magic of morning began.
Bluebird and goldfinch descended in rings, primaries clashing with robin and jay. Dollops of sun, repelled by their wings, spattered anew on the palette of day. Banking as one, the hues struck away.
There was a crowd.
And in this crowd that oddity sat, its chin on its chest, its rear pointing west. Its forepaws lay leaning, upturned and at rest. ***** and blood messed its muzzle and breast. Passed overnight. Or perhaps only dozed…tendril by tendril, claw by claw, the crowd decompressed:  the ring slowly closed.
And the stranger cried out and shifted his seat. His eyes sought his feet—rounding the arches, and topping the toes, the tall grass was questing. The little brute froze.
And the fauna took pause, and the flora went slack. Leaves followed talons, stems followed claws. Hooves tromped on paws as the crowd drifted back.
Not a breath taken. Not a move made. Stillness, like fog, enveloped the glade.
Now the grass tugged his feet, now the sea of jade splayed—left hand and right, the slender shafts reared. Gaining momentum, blade followed blade. The green field was torn till a deep swath appeared. The swath hurtled west, reflecting the sun. A hundred yards distant it died. Once more the grass stood, its tips spreading wide. The swath, born again, repeated its run.
Plain was the message, and clearly conveyed. The newcomer gawked. Confusion ensued.
The tall blades were swayed by the pulse of the glade.
But the swath was not renewed.
Something tiny bounced by. He ventured a peek, barely rolling an eye.
A chocolate sparrow, with pinfeathers black, popped past an ankle and paused to look back. The bird cocked its head, rocked in place, hopped ahead. It fluttered. It freaked. It glared and stopped dead. Vexed to its limit, it burst into flight.
The sitting thing watched till it passed out of sight.
Now a breeze bent his back, picked him half off his stern. The wind, done its best, grew flustered at last. It trailed to the west, thrilling lilies it passed. It wound round the willows and didn’t return.
So the fauna repaired to the live oak’s shade.
A strange kind of stupor fell over the glade.
From deep in the wood came a shape through the trees—a pronghorn, perhaps, or an elk swift and sure. But up limped a moose, a flyport with fur, low in the belly and wide at the knees. Wizened he was, scarcely able to see. Neither vision, nor vigor, nor velvet had he. He hobbled abreast, then groveled or died, his nose facing west, his tail flung aside.
The brute merely glazed.
But the glade was unfazed.
Those long shafts reshuffled. A tense moment passed.
The ominous shadows of badgers were cast. Three left their holes, as if to attack. They pedaled like moles and the stranger jumped back. He stumbled, fell flailing, and, kicking his guide, threw out his arms and tumbled astride. First he stepped on his tail, then he stepped on his pride. The moose bellowed twice and shook side to side while the little pest clung to his high, homely hide.
And the old moose unbent to his knees by degrees. He reeled like a drunk down the path of the breeze. Together they lurched through a break in the trees. And all morning long, and on through the day, both beggar and bearer would buckle and sway. The moose lost his temper, but never his way.
And the wind blew the sun to its deep ruby rest; the scrub, in obeisance, inclined to the west. Their slow taffy shadow in slinking would seem to slip round the rocks like a snake in a dream.
And the sun became a beacon, and the underbrush a stream. The wide Earth took their weight in stride, and the wind named him Hero.

                                               WORLD

When the sun was low the old moose began to stumble, at last limping to a halt beside a swift river lined with stunted pines. He’d half-expected a somewhat graceful dismount, but Hero, dug in like a tick, wasn’t about to let go. The moose knelt until his joints objected, shimmied, bucked, and with a sudden whirl sent the little bother flying.
Hero scraped himself out of the dirt and looked up forlornly. The ancient moose, his good eye gone bad, glared a long minute before hobbling away, his bony **** rocking with dignity, his scraggly tail fighting off imaginary flies.
Hero managed a few steps and dropped, staring in disbelief as the moose disappeared between half-frozen pines. He remained on his knees for the longest time, his jaw hanging, waiting for the moose—waiting for anything to show. At last a ruckus to his left snapped him out of it. His head ratcheted around.
Fifteen feet off the bank, three screaming gulls were dancing on an immense stone outcropping, fighting over a rapids-tossed sockeye. Hero was instantly famished. He wobbled to his feet and stumbled twice wading out, only regaining his balance by leaning against the current while rapidly wheeling his arms. The shrieking gulls reluctantly backed off as he stepped in slow-motion through the rushing water. Hero lunged at the slapping fish, cracked an ankle on the rock, and hopped around howling with both hands holding his shin. One foot was as good as none in the surging water. He went right under. Before he knew it he was being swept downriver.
This was glacial meltwater, so cold he quickly lost all sensation. Hero swallowed a mouthful and surfaced fighting for life; too disoriented to combat the current, too numb to realize his waving arm was striking something solid. That solid something turned out to be a swirling clump of rotted birches tangled up in scrub. He embraced one of these trunks as the mass slammed against isolated rocks, kicked his feet wildly, and somehow hauled himself aboard. The raft ricocheted rock to rock until repeated impacts sent it spinning. Giddy from the whirling and soaking, he clung freezing to the trees, retching continuously while the river roared in his ears. Through spray and tears he made out only cartwheeling fragments of the world.
But then the river was widening, its fury dissipating. The raft was approaching the sea. Hero gasped as the seemingly boundless Pacific swallowed the broad red belly of the sun. And as he spun he was treated to a panoramic, breathtaking spectacle:  the great indigo ocean with its slow traffic of driftwood and ice—voiced-over by the dismal calls of foraging gulls, and broken rhythmically by intermittent glimpses of the river’s rocky banks growing farther and farther apart. Whirling as it went, the dying man’s soul was taken by the sea.

At the 59th Parallel in winter, the Pacific coast plays host to numberless floes and minor bergs orphaned from Alaskan coastal glaciers. Hero cruised into a watery gridlock on a boat of ice-glazed birches, one bit of flotsam among the rest.
The cold wouldn’t let him move, wouldn’t let him breathe, wouldn’t let him think. He lay supine, feet crossed and hands clasped, terrified that to budge was to roll. An ice patina grew over the tangled trees like a white fungus—this growth soon webbed his fingers and toes, speckled his chest and thighs, glazed his hair and face, danced and disintegrated with his breath’s tapering plumes.
Floes and frozen-over debris tended to group with passing collisions; Hero’s married birches bit by bit accrued a mostly-submerged tangle of trunks and branches, all becoming fast in a creeping ice cement. Night came on just as resolutely, until land was only a flat black memory. The raft moved silently over the deep, still accepting the occasional gentle impact. And the floes became thicker and wider in a freezing doldrums; soon the proximate sea was all a broken field of packed ice, bobbing infinitesimally with the planet’s pulse.
Long ghostly strands of fog came striding over the torn ice field. They leaned this way and that, their mourners’ skirts tearing and patching and leaning anew. The ghosts were there to seal it:  their locked fingers and gray diaphanous wings were quickly becoming a wholly opaque descending shroud, its boundaries lost in the soughing wind.
Collisions came less and less. Darkness and silence, breaching some previously impenetrable barrier, began to take up residence in Hero’s chilling marrow. From his very center broke a weak little cry of refusal, of denial, as mind mustered frame in one desperate bid for freedom. His skin, frozen to the raft, peeled right off, and at that his inner brave succumbed. Hero’s smashed head arched back. His face contorted frightfully while the little lamp fluttered and paled within.
A raucous chorus slowly worked its way through the mist. It emerged a few hundred yards off—a tiny, terrified barking, growing in clarity as it grew in volume and urgency. It was a sound beacon. Hero strained eagerly, and when for one excruciating minute the beacon was cut off by a large passing body, was certain death had claimed him. Then it was back, and his heartbeat was quickening. He caught a heaving sound…something was moving his way down a wide tributary between floes. Hero could hear a gasping and snorting, accompanied by a hard slapping and splashing. The sounds vanished. In a moment the raft was rocked from below.
A sputtering muzzle blew salt in his eyes. A cold slimy flipper flapped across his chest and slapped about his face. The fur seal barked directly in his ear. Whiskers raked his dead cheek. The seal barked again.
Back below the surface it slipped. Hero listened anxiously as the splashing sound retreated whence it came.
The seal swam off perhaps a hundred feet and began barking hysterically.
From much farther off came a profusion of answering barks.
The seal swam back to Hero’s raft, circling and calling, circling and calling, while the responders approached en masse.
Now a sallow beam could be seen cutting through the fog. Several more showed vaguely along a plane yawing with some huge, barely discernible object.
A herd of northern fur seals burst into sight, barking madly, beating through the ice. They converged on Hero’s raft, really bellowing now.
Those odd yellow beams came in pursuit, and soon were close enough to eerily illuminate a gigantic wooden vessel parting the ice. The seals barked ferociously. Whenever the vessel leaned away, those nearest Hero’s raft would absolutely howl.
The fog deepened, condensed, crystallized, and then the collective light of a dozen lanterns was playing over a low, listing nightmare. Hero could hear the shouts of many aggressive men, but the waterborne seals, rather than scatter, boarded the ice and redoubled their din, fighting their way onto his quickly mobbed raft.
The sealers hurled serrated spears even as they clambered down rope ladders. When these men reached the ice the seals snapped and gnashed madly, refusing to be dislodged. The sealers lost all composure with the thrill of the hunt:  wielding clubs, spears, and hatchets—sometimes using iron bludgeons or any old utensil handed down—they crushed skulls, dragged carcasses, hooked animals still spurting and bleating. Clinging though he was, Hero was flabbergasted by the way the slipping and scampering men went about their butchery, hacking and smashing more with passion than with precision. But not a single seal attempted to flee—throughout the carnage they barked all the louder, egging on their slayers, carcass by carcass drawing the impassioned sealers to Hero’s ice-locked raft.
It was all so hazy and macabre. Hero’s eyes rolled back, and the next thing he knew he was sitting hunched on the vessel’s sopping deck. Two men were rubbing his limbs while another poured warm water down his back. He looked around in shock. The very notion of a boat containing more than one or two individuals—a sort of floating tribe—was way beyond his ken; so to see it, to have it come looming out of nothingness, was an experience almost supernatural.
He remembered some of those fur-covered men force-feeding him mouthfuls of halibut and seal fat, and he recalled a small group standing around him, shouting words that made no sense at all. After that he had a very vivid memory of their angry little chief repeatedly punching him while hollering one angry little word over and over and over. Hero couldn’t make out his inquisitor’s face, for the large feather-lined hood quite engulfed the man’s head, yet he could see those quick eyes flash as they caught the oil lamps’ light. Finally this man stopped boxing Hero’s ear. He stared hard. In these remaining decades of the tenth century it was fully within his power to administer as he saw fit—he could have ordered Hero’s immediate execution and not a man of his crew would have objected. He hesitated only because there wasn’t a hint of resistance in his prisoner’s pinched and frightened eyes. He leaned forward, studying the wound that all but split Hero’s face in two before grunting, raising his right arm, and yanking down its seal hide sleeve. Attached to the stump of his forearm was a primitive prosthesis consisting of a thick oak cap strapped to the arm with lengths of gut, and, hammered squarely into the center of that cap, a broad, cruelly hooked blade chiseled from a narwhal’s tusk. He held this obscenity in front of Hero’s eyes, traced the face’s deep diagonal rift, and once more demanded his captive’s identity. Hero then vaguely remembered being dragged along a tilting deck and thrown into the ship’s tiny hold. He retained a strong mental image of landing in a place of musty odors and dank projections.
There came a soft scuffling in the darkness, and presently a blind and exceedingly old woman felt her way to his side, mumbling as she approached. Her speech was comprised not of words; it was rather a running gibberish of cooing vowels and clucking consonants. The old woman was as mad as her circumstances; sick with sea and solitude, bedeviled by age and confinement. She sat cross-legged, patting her withered palms up his arm until she came to his face. Her strange mumbling soliloquy rose and fell as her bony fingers daintily explored the newly opened wound. Hero let his head fall back in her lap. A pair of hands like emaciated tarantulas scurried through the filth and tiny bodies until they came upon an old otter’s pelt bag that held her secrets. The woman loosened the bag’s cord and extracted an assortment of herbs, sniffing each in succession. She then scooped a handful of blubber from a bowl made of a previous occupant’s skull, kneaded the selected herbs into the blubber, and commenced gently massaging the wound, clucking and cooing while the black rats watched and waited.
For nine interminable days Hero remained in that cold, stinking compartment, rocking back and forth between life and death. The old woman never gave up on him. She clung to him during his seizures, rubbed his limbs vigorously when his blood pressure fell. She gathered various accumulated skins and, using woven strands of her own long hair, sewed him a multilayered, body-length wraparound with arm sleeves and very deep pockets, working by touch with a needle formed of a cod’s rib. By this same method she was able to fashion a pair of heavily lined snug-fitting moccasins. The old woman made him eat; she masticated the cod and halibut their keepers pitched into the hold, then shoved the results down his throat with a long gnarly forefinger. She called into his screaming nightmares, talking him out of sleep and back into their foul little reality. Together they lowed in the dark, while the keel groaned along and the waves beat time.
At the end of those dark nine days his strength was restored, but not his mind. Once again he was taken on deck.
The vessel had reached a chain of remote wind-swept islands, rocky and treeless, naked except for patchy carpets of hardy grass. These islands stretched far to the west, shrouded in mist. The ship was making for the smallest; just a chip on the sea. When they reached depth for anchorage Hero was hustled into a rowboat and lowered over the side. He looked up, saw two men climbing down by rope. These men positioned themselves at the oars and slowly rowed toward the islet. Seated between them, Hero felt like a man being led to his execution. He snuck a peek. The rowers’ heads were lowered, their features completely obscured by the heavy feathered hoods; they had all the somberness of pallbearers. Not a word passed between them as they rigidly worked their oars:  the only sound was the dip-and-purl of wood in water. Hero looked away. Against his will, he found his eyes drawn to that rocky islet waiting in the fog.
Not a bird, not a sea lion, not a shrub. It was lonesome beyond imagination.
Upon landfall one of the men used a spear’s point to **** Hero ashore. While his companion steadied the boat, he removed a skin sack full of half-frozen halibut, followed by a few armloads of precious tinder. These articles he tossed at Hero’s feet. He resumed his place at the oars and, without looking back, used the blunt end of his spear to shove off.
Hero watched the boat moving away, watched the men climbing their ropes, watched the boat being hauled aboard. As the mysterious vessel receded he saw a number of those silent men standing at the stern, stolidly returning his stare. Their hooded forms grew smaller and smaller, finally becoming indistinct. The vessel was swallowed up in fog.
Hero looked around, at a desolate world of rock and drifting ice. In the sunless pools at his feet a few purplish, flaccid sea anemones were waving in a sickly phosphorescence; along the rocks ran a tattered quilt of wild grass and lichen. It was the end of the world. He began to pace in his anxiety, only to crumple bit by bit inside his furs. At last he just sat with his face in his arms and wept. When he could weep no more he raised his head and opened his red, swollen eyes.
There were gulls all around him, staring like statuary in a madman’s garden. Standing in their midst were auks and puffins and murres, absolutely spellbound, unable to lean away. The silence was broken only by a wild, fitfully pursing wind—a wind that seemed, eerily, on the verge of producing syllables. And on that wind a flock of terns was rising slowly, their beady eyes fixed on the lone sitting man. The terns watched as he trembled, and banked as he swooned.
Then, beating as one, they threw back their wings and blew into the sun.

There was a blaze.
Behind that blaze a pair of black, bug-like eyes met his and immediately withdrew. A man wrapped in caribou hides stood abruptly, drawing angry swarms of sparks.
The Aleut peered queerly into the icy Pacific, his craggy profile merging seamlessly with a jumble of rocks showing just beyond his shoulder. The man was very tall, closer to seven feet than to six, and thin almost to emaciation.
He was also a mute. Soon enough he would display a talent for communication through gutturals, but now his body language spoke louder than words. It told the shivering stranger that he was not only disliked—he was feared.
The islander removed the hides he’d piled on the sleeping man. He produced a bone awl and strategically pierced a caribou hide, draped the hide over the old woman’s handiwork, and ran a cord of tightly woven tendons crosswise through his made holes, knotting it at the bottom to create a kind of cloak. He then killed the fire, heaped wood, fish, and remaining hides into Hero’s arms, and led him to a tiny cove where his long skin canoe lay in the grass. This was not the one-man kayak used by his people for centuries, but an actual canoe modeled on the graceful vessels he’d observed under the control of northern coastal tribesmen. After dragging it into the water he perched Hero in the fore, placed the cargo in the middle, and stepped into the rear like a gaunt furry spider. The Aleut dug out a paddle and began pulling with smooth strokes of surprising muscularity, his black eyes trained on his quiet companion’s back.
So began their long island-hopping journey. They stepped the chain one stone at a time, living off the sea. But much as the islander disliked Hero’s vapid company, it was not in his nature to proceed expeditiously; his people, remote as they were, had learned to count not in days but in generations. Given this, the Aleut took his time. He showed Hero how to build shelters of skin and gut; during bad weather the two would sit on an island in utter silence while rain hammered on their stretched seal-intestine window. And one very clear night he pointed out constellations while attempting to demonstrate, using broad gestures, just how the brighter heavenly bodies were in perfect alignment with the Aleutians. Hero followed his guide’s gestures as a pet follows its master’s movements and, like a pet, soon became bored. The Aleut did not grow flustered. He grew ever more wary:  behind that granite, weather-beaten exterior squirmed a very primitive imagination. Superstitious as he was, the Aleut was almost certain Hero could read his mind. So one time, and one time only, he threw a searing look at the back of Hero’s bowed and listing head. After a long minute of vigorous thought-projection he shifted his gaze aside. The brute appeared to feel this shift, and gently turned his head. And both saw the ocean break rhythm, and watched as otters and sea lions surfaced, noted their progress, and slipped without tremor beneath the waves.
In spring the fogs lifted. The grimness gave way to serenity, a generous sun buttered the dappled sea. On the islands grass grew lushly. Wildflowers leapt on the color-starved eye.
And one day the islander’s nape itched. He turned to see a flock of arctic terns casually tracking them under a gorgeous, white-plumed sky. As the day progressed the terns came drifting high overhead, slowly but surely taking the lead.
The Aleut squinted against the sun. He’d never known these birds to pursue a westerly migratory pattern—the terns were distributing themselves into a rough wedge shape, much like geese on the wing.
For a while he let the flock be his guide. Then, to test his stars, he cunningly steered his canoe north. At once the wedge disintegrated. Not until he’d lowered his eyes and pulled purposefully to the west did the disrupted pattern reassert itself. He peered up timidly. The wedge was now in the shape of a perfect arrowhead.
Just so were the fates of mariners and aviators inextricably entwined. At night, once the Aleut had landed his canoe on the nearest pearl, the terns would light in a quiet circle and remain until sunrise. As the Aleut and Hero took to sea, the flock would quickly form that same authoritative pattern.
In time the Aleut paddled his companion clear to the westernmost islands of the Aleutian chain. His people had dwelt, even here, a thousand years and more, but no contemporary islander knew for certain what lay beyond. Legend told of an enormous land mass forever gripped by cold, where a cruel people waylaid innocent seafarers for barbaric sacrificial rites.
So here the islander paused. But even as he vacillated he noticed the terns were veering south.
If the Aleut had been able to curse aloud he would have been vociferous. He was being compelled to follow an even less desirable course—that of the unknown open ocean. Now he looked upon his passenger’s hunched back not with fear but with loathing. He took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders, and defiantly continued west. The wedge broke up immediately. The terns dive-bombed the canoe, whirled around the windmilling Aleut, tore skyward and hovered determinedly. Something huge broke surface behind them, but the Aleut was way too frayed to turn. He dropped his head, a beaten man, and began paddling south. Little by little the birds returned to formation.
The tiny canoe had no business going up against the mighty Pacific. It would soon have been swallowed and smashed, had not the terns veered in close formation whenever the distant sea appeared too rough. Once he’d lost his bearings the Aleut religiously followed their serpentine course.
The days began to warm.
Now the sea’s bounty all but leapt in the canoe.
It seemed the Aleut was forever catching the finest currents, practically sliding down a corridor entirely free of peril. In this manner he was able to safely navigate waters no such craft had mastered before.
They were proceeding south by southwest, awed children of a plenteous, generous sea. The going became easier by the day, the ocean heavier with cod.
Nights the Aleut drifted comfortably, but a lifetime of wariness made him wake off and on. He’d slowly rise to find Hero sitting quietly under the stars, and soon he’d see, pallid in moonlight, a large body neatly pleating the ocean’s surface. The shape would precede them a while, only to vanish without a ripple.
All this strangeness kept the Aleut’s heart in a whirl, though he took pains to maintain his poise.
To allay his fear he kept a flat black stone planted squarely between them. It was his oldest treasure; an oddity he’d taken off the body of a mauled Tlingit woman when he was a child. Who she was, and how she’d come by the stone, were mysteries far beyond him, for no such piece had ever been known to Aleut or Inuk.
The stone was smooth and had been worked perfectly round. Bright yellow specks were scattered about its dull black face.
Long ago someone had etched a quaint and clumsy rune on that flat black surface—it was the crude, universal symbol for sun:  a broad circle surrounded by several rays. When the stone was rubbed against a pelt it possessed the curious property of growing quite warm and bright in the rune’s grooves, while the surface remained cool and dull.
This stone, both friend and overlord, had always “spoken to him”. It caused him to become restless when it was time to move on, and allowed him to relax when a destination had been reached. In this way he’d come to the familiar islet and discovered the unconscious little man. Just so:  the stone, he was sure, was responsible for making him “feel bad” as he watched the stranger shiver, and “feel better” once he’d built him a life-saving fire from the small pile of tinder he’d found nearby.
By now, however, the Aleut was wholly disenchanted with his stone, and deeply regretted having done its mysterious bidding. Never before had he been so long from sight of land, and never before had he felt so very, very small. The unimagined immensity of the Pacific was really starting to get to him when, after all their while at sea, a gray, seductive haze broke the horizon. They had reached another chain of islands, an Asian chain, the dark and smoky Kurils. Here a cold current kept the climate cool and foggy, and the chill, along with the prevalence of otter and seal, made him feel almost at home.
But this place gave him the creeps; he was a stranger, a trespasser somewhere sacred. There was a looming quality to the island mountains that made him extraordinarily aware of his transience, his pettiness, his puniness. He grew more and more cautious, sure their progress was being monitored—he could have sworn he saw wraiths in the trees, and wolves padding warily in the brush. The big islands looked on breathlessly. All along the rocky cliffs, thousands of auks and puffins followed the canoe in dead silence, their heads turning simultaneously, their countless tiny eyes peering redly through the fog. As the weeks passed, the Aleut’s anxiety was manifested in tics and sighs, and he’d cringe each time the crimson sun sank behind those black volcanic summits. In his imagination the mountains would rise right out of the sea, as though to pluck him. But the islands, in all their dignity, would always refuse to acknowledge so meek a stranger, and return their eyes to sea. The Aleut would hang his head, and timidly paddle by.
Then for days and days he pulled his weary canoe west—through a strait parting two mighty islands not part of the chain, and thence across a sea that was a warm, enticing bath. Spring had come to the East Asian coastal waters, and the Ainu, alone and in groups, were venturing deeper in search of increasing bounty. The Aleut, absorbed in his thoughts of sweet climate and bitter fate, was unaware they’d been spotted.
This first meeting between strangers of different worlds was a brief and awkward one. A lone Ainu fisherman, seeing the Aleut come paddling out of the unknown, dropped his net and turned to stone. The Aleut, for his part, instinctively froze with his body turned half-away to make the leanest target possible. Their stares locked. Never had the Aleut seen a face so heavily bearded, and never hair so fair. The Ainu began banging on his bronze catch pail. Other fishers soon appeared from the north and south, effectively cutting off the canoe. The Aleut caressed his stone and looked to the sky. The wedge had vanished. He put down his head and paddled for all he was worth.
With the word out, uncountable fishing craft appeared out of the blue and broke into hot pursuit, their pilots determined to force the canoe ashore.
Suddenly they were in sight of land, and the sea was absolutely riddled with watercraft. A train of small boats cast off from the mainland, even as a posse of two-man coracle-like tubs began to surround the battered skin canoe, their inhabitants calling back and forth in astonishment at the sight of these dark, savage newcomers. But the pursuing little coastal men, banging excitedly on the sides of their boats, were not Ainu. They had very straight black hair, prominent cheekbones, and strangely slanted eyes. And their speech, oddly marvelous as it was, was a rapid series of coos, chirps, and barks. Their boats formed a tight semi-circle around the canoe, forcing the Aleut to approach the mainland. The little men banged their boats maniacally, with more joining in as the canoe neared shore.
A bit farther south was a natural harbor swarming with fishing vessels of every description. As the canoe was forced into this harbor, people along the rocky coast began banging whatever they could get their hands on, until the air was filled with their lunatic percussion.
Tiny brown men came running along a soft yellow cliff overlooking the harbor, gesturing wildly. The canoe was squeezed between a chain of tubs and the shore, and, as it slowed, the tempo and ferocity of the banging decreased accordingly. When the canoe came to a halt the banging and shouting stopped. Hero creaked to his feet. The first North American to set foot on Asian soil stepped out shakily.
There followed the profoundest silence imaginable.
A second later it was as if a dam had burst.
Hundreds of hysterical, yammering voices erupted from hundreds of hysterical, clinging men and women. Hero was spun around, jostled about, handed along. He stared into their astounded, pinched little faces, and the sun, pulsing between their heads as he was turned, repeatedly stabbed his eyes. There came an excited outburst and frantic splashing which could only have been the Aleut’s violent demise, and then Hero was somehow limping alongside a primitive fishing village, blindly following a narrow dirt path that hugged the yellow cliff’s base. The warm spring sun caught the dust as he shambled. He rounded a bend and stopped.
Half a dozen children stood in his way, too fascinated to run. A chatter and scuffle rose behind him. He looked back to see that he was now in the midst of a small crowd of these children, and that more were running up with cries of amazement.
A stone struck his shoulder. As Hero turned another glanced off his chest.
A moment later he was being pelted from all sides, and the giggles and gasps had become something wildly unreal. He dropped to his knees in a hail of hurled rocks, covered his head with his arms, and slithered up the path on his belly.
A new voice broke in; an older, authoritative voice.
The children scampered off squealing.
Hero, shaken to his feet, found himself face to face with a diminutive, shouting, incomprehensible old man. The old man threw his arm around Hero’s waist and, jabbering all the while, led him to a secondary path cut into the cliff’s face. This path sloped gently upward over the waves. Together they picked their way to a place maybe halfway up, where the cliff’s face was honeycombed with natural alcoves and dug-out caves. Most of these spaces were used as one-man shelters; a few, cut deeper in the earth, as family hives. Strange gabbing people slid out of these holes like worms, reaching, but the little old man, who was evidently a little old man of some stature, embraced his find possessively and shouted them back inside.
The path narrowed as they climbed.
At its summit spread the upscale end of the neighborhood. Hero was led to a hovel nestled amid dozens of similar hovels, all scattered around a dainty stream wending between patches of stunted vegetation.
The old man’s place was basically a one-room hut fashioned of earth and salvaged boat hulls, with a slender side-yard surrounded by dry, dusty hedges. But inside it was clean and tidy, with rice paper partitioning and, built into the far earthen wall, a miniature stone fireplace. The old man sat his guest in the exact center of the room. There he fed him scraps from his bowl, using long sticks to pluck out bits of fish and clumps of tiny, starchy white pellets.
He studied the brute closely, watched him chew, walked round and round him. He poked here. He pinched there.
And that night he lit a fire on his crushed-shell hearth.
Hero curled up on a mat where the gossip of flames could reach him. Nearby, at his delicate wicker table, the old man sat in semi-darkness, illuminated only from the waist down.
But his eyes were alive. They spat and darted as they reflected the fire’s light, and, when at last they’d begun to sputter, his scratchy little voice came pattering out of the dark, muttering something vile and oddly modulated, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a gathering snarl.
Hero feigned slumber, unable to ignore those paired ominous flashes. Still, the room was cozy, and the fire warm, and the play of light and shadow kicked sleep in his eyes.

In the morning he woke in the old man’s side-yard, his head pounding, a rusty iron clamp securely fastened around his neck. This clamp was attached to the outermost link of a crude three-foot chain, and the link at the other end to a long stake driven into eight inches of solid rock. The chain and stake, like the clamp, were hammered of local iron. The clamp was too tight for comfortable swallowing, the chain too short to make standing possible. Hero could, however, spread out on his chest and stretch an arm to a low row of hedges. By parting the tangled undergrowth he had a limited view of the fishing village below, and of the harbor beyond. As the days passed he was able to tweak himself a view-space discernible only from his peculiar vantage. He accomplished this by gently breaking small branches strategically, then guiding their interrupted growth with the utmost tenderness. It was his secret garden.
He had no memory—none whatsoever—of being staked here. Obviously the old man hadn’t set this up overnight. Hero’s mind prodded timidly…how many others had been chained to this spot, and why?
But over the subsequent weeks and months he went beyond caring. Each day was the same:  just after dawn the old man would storm into the tiny side-yard swinging his reed whip wildly. The lashings were savage and unremitting. The old man, except for his eyes, would be mute. Only his whip need speak. And the snap of his reed had but one message:  when you see this whip you go down, and you go down immediately.
The naked savage, scarred head to foot, learned to go prostrate on the moment. Even so, the old man couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in the occasional good old, all-out thrashing. And after each session he would toss the prisoner a vile mess of dead fish and rotting leftovers.
Hero lived like this for many months, lost in a confused world of pain and anticipation. Perversely, he came to look forward to the bite of that whip, for, whether he flogged him in passion or just for sport, the old man was always sure to make it personal. It seemed their relationship might go on forever.
But one day there was a great commotion in the sleepy little fishing village. Hero parted the leaves and beheld a small train of oblong coaches at rest near the harbor. Large oxen yoked in pairs lolled between the carriages, immune to the clamor around them. There were dark shaggy horses and colorfully dressed Bactrian camels. The horses and camels were tethered in the rear, but were occasionally paraded around the carriages by little men wielding long painted bamboo poles. The whole affair was exotic and mesmerizing, eccentric and profane. Hero watched all day in amazement, infected by the hubbub, though he was totally mystified by the crowd’s fascination on the carriages’ far side.
And late that afternoon he saw the old man come walking out of that crowd, talking heatedly with another man. The stranger was shorter and broader than the old man, with long stringy hair and long stringy mustaches. He saw them climbing the path, saw them crawl inside a hole lashing furiously. They were lost from view for a minute, then popped up big as life. Hero glowed and curled up eagerly as they approached.
The old man and stranger came into the narrow side-yard still arguing. The old man grabbed Hero by the hair and twisted until he was facing the newcomer.
The stranger had oily, porous skin, and a round but grave countenance. His highly slanted eyes were bright and restless. He studied Hero’s mutilated face with keen interest before borrowing the old man’s reed. When Hero scraped at his feet he grunted and returned the reed.
The stranger pulled out something shiny and hefted it in his hand. He then raised his other hand while considering Hero, as though weighing him too. The old man’s eyes glinted, and for an instant his expression became grotesquely servile. The stranger and old man, facing, nodded curtly in unison. The stranger dropped the shiny thing onto the old man’s itching palm. The old man whipped Hero frantically before taking a small ax to the chain. A few hard blows split a link, the broken link was bent back by the tool’s shaft, and the prisoner was at last released.
The old man handed the stranger a short hempen rope. The stranger bowed deeply. He then tied an end of the rope through one of the remaining links and began dragging Hero along. Hero’s hands sought the old man, who kicked and cursed him all the way to the path. The three stumbled single-file to the bottom. The old man waved his arms and shouted hysterically, trotting behind until he ran out of breath. But he got in a final kick and, before he came to a gasping halt, managed to lash Hero once for old time’s sake, and to spit on him twice for luck.

There were five carriages; a long one in the center hitched to four oxen, and two smaller coaches in the front and rear with a pair of oxen on each. The carriages were old and battered, built of splitting wood slats and rusted iron braces. Various hides, spare wheels, and a hundred odds and ends were tied to the sides and roofs. Hero’s new master, using him as a ram, shoved him through the crowd to the long carriage. He hauled him up the single wood step and watched the crowd’s reaction. Children hid behind mothers, mothers hissed and jeered, men spat in that smashed, disgusting face.
Satisfied, Hero’s master twisted the rope tighter and dragged him through the hide flap that served as the carriage’s rear wall.
A strange ruckus began at their entrance.
Inside the carriage were bulky shapes and quirky movements, yet the immediate and overwhelming impression was one of unbelievable stench. Hero, instantly covered with flies, was kicked and shoved down a foot-wide aisle. The carriage’s walls were riddled with black flecks of old dried blood, the floor coated with standing *****, a variety of small carcasses, and some clinging, indefinable slime. But the living contents of this hell were so horrifying, and so unexpected, that Hero at once dropped to his knees. Observing this, master grabbed a whip off the wall and lashed him along the floor.
A number of bamboo cages lined either side of the carriage, each four feet high, four feet wide, and three feet deep. In the first cage to their left, a quadruple amputee dangled in a leather harness in a cloud of flies, jealously gnawing a chicken carcass balanced on his belly. The second cage held a man who had been burned over ninety per cent of his body, and the third a middle-aged woman with no eyes or tongue, her head shaved. The next cage housed a fully grown black leopard, its bright eyes fixed on the horrified newcomer. Then an empty cage, and finally a cage containing a demented man whose long yellow nails were busily raking a face deeply scarred and bleeding.
The first cage against the opposite wall held two girls rolling in their own excrement. Siamese twins unable to part, they had developed a unique method of locomotion, and now executed a three-quarters cartwheel in Hero’s direction, their mangled, severely bitten hands attempting to reach him through the bars. In the cage next to theirs a naked dwarf glowered menacingly, his eyes following coldly as Hero’s master shoved him down the narrow aisle, occasionally pausing to lash a cage. The hissing and howling increased as each prisoner beheld the new neighbor.
The third cage held an intensely sick adult Bornean sun bear, so confined it was entirely unable to move. Its hide was a patchwork of scraggly fur and grayish skin, glistening with odd eruptions. It rolled its sunken eyes in Hero’s direction, its muzzle twitching feebly.
The next cage contained a man who was frightfully diseased. Broad fungal patches covered his face and limbs, terminating in waxy folds that dangled like a rooster’s wattles. Welling sores spotted his chest and back. His eyes were bugged and sallow; his lower lip drooped below his chin. He barked wetly at Hero’s passing legs.
The second-to-last cage housed a rare, completely hairless Chinese albino, and the last cage a very tall, skeletal woman. The albino snapped at Hero while repeatedly banging his head against the cage. The woman hissed and coiled like a snake, her spine arching amazingly.
Master hauled Hero to the empty cage on his left, swung its door open with his foot, and forced him to his knees by pushing down with all his weight. He kicked and punched until Hero had been squeezed inside, then shut and secured the wide bamboo door.
Master inched his way back down the carriage, hammering the **** of his whip on each cage as he passed. There was a glimpse of daylight as he lifted the flap.
Once he’d departed, the carriage grew eerily silent.
Hero cautiously turned his head. Less than a foot away, the black leopard was frozen in place, one paw waving hypnotically in his face. The beast’s fangs were bared, its ears straight back, its eyes glistening. Hero turned ever so slowly, until he was looking into the eyes of the demented man in the final cage. The man cocked his head quizzically. A second later he was screaming his lungs out in a bizarre downward spiral.
At once the carriage erupted. The freaks shrieked and scrabbled, the leopard spun in place. Directly across the aisle, the albino hurled himself against the bars of his cage. He batted his face with his fists, threw back his head, and just howled and howled and howled. The snake woman curled even tighter, her long scrawny legs entwined behind her head.
Hero sat with breath held, absolutely silent, absolutely motionless. He very, very slowly closed his eyes.

Later that night the flap was flung high. The menagerie came alive as master, weirdly illuminated by moonlight, slowly made his way down the aisle carrying a skin sack oozing blood. He stopped at each cage to toss in a dying chicken and a handful of smelt.
When he reached Hero’s cage he looked down thoughtfully.
He extracted a quivering chicken and held it above the cage so that blood dripped on the brute’s deeply pleated forehead. Hero lowered his eyes. Master’s face darkened. He smashed the bird against the cage, over and over, a vein throbbing in his temple. Finally he hissed and displayed the limp chicken high over the albino’s head. The albino yelped and kicked, thrusting his hand up between the bars and jerking it back to lick away the blood rolling down his forearm.
Master eyed Hero coldly before pointedly dropping the chicken into the albino’s searching hands.
Master hissed again. He slowly made his way out.
Soon there was a commotion outside. The carriage rocked a bit before settling. Hero, turning in his cage to peek through a rift in the wood, saw horses being urged forward. He could hear men shouting. The carriage rocked again. He looked up and saw the gibbous moon suspended in mist. For just a second something wedge-shaped cut across its soft white face.
But then the oxen were grunting, the wheels had been freed, and the horses drawn abreast. Master’s lash spat left and right, and the show proceeded…west.

                                              MA­STER

She was very round and very small, with very short, very shaggy black hair. Her arms bore the scars of numerous bites from beast and man, and around her neck ran long wheals from a particularly savage owner. Hero, having spent the better part of the morning watching master storm in and out of a strange screaming house, now watched him drag the little round woman through the dirt. For a while he listened to the song of his master’s lash, waiting for the woman to break. But there was never a whimper.
It had been a difficult transaction for master, and an altogether difficult morning. For hours he’d paced up and down the main carriage, alternately murmuring affectionately into, and lashing at, each cage he visited. The sun bear, long dead and stuffed, had been taken outside for barter. It had soon been returned.
Master had lingered over Hero’s cage for a good while, staring critically. He’d begun shouting, and three of his men had burst in through the flap, unlatched the demented man’s cage, and dragged him out by the feet for trade, master personally stomping on his torn and groping hands.
And now master was kicking and shoving the little woman down the aisle as his men restrained her by the hair and throat. Upon master’s command these men stripped her naked and commenced pinching and slapping while making threatening faces and mocking noises. The freaks sat right up in their cages.
The woman looked as though she’d fainted:  her arms were lax, her eyes rolled up. Her whole face seemed to purse, and her body, head to toe, began to run blue. Her fingers quivered, arched, and clawed—the woman was self-asphyxiating. Master fairly leaped with delight while the cages rocked around him. He had the men slap her awake. Once she was fully conscious they stuffed her into the demented man’s old cage next to Hero’s.
Master then looked in eagerly, one to the other, his hands balled into fists. The woman buried her odd round face in her forearms as she squeezed herself into her cage’s deepest corner. Hero gazed indifferently and went back to his peephole.
Master exploded. He smacked and kicked the cages over and over, swore up and down, ran the shaft of his whip back and forth against the heavy bamboo bars. Eventually he calmed somewhat. He stared coldly at Hero, made a ***** smile, and spat right in his eyes. A tense minute passed. Master slowly made his way outside.
Hero automatically relaxed. Across the aisle the albino ****** his face between his cage’s bars to sniff the newcomer. The leopard, bobbing rhythmically, emitted a high-pitched squeal that gradually descended to a steadily throbbing growl.
Hero looked the stranger over. Once she’d lowered her hands he saw that her eyes were crossed, her jaw slack, her face as round as the full moon. He looked closer. There were scars all over her throat and arms:  plainly, the small round woman had been treated very badly. Hero instinctively slid a foot between the bars; the woman cried out and scrunched even deeper. Across the aisle the albino quickly extended an arm. Without knowing why, Hero turned on him. The albino flinched, his eyes tearing into Hero’s. A second later he was stamping his feet and grinning wildly. Hero went back to his peephole.
Next morning master and two of his men dismantled the bamboo walls separating Hero’s and the woman’s cages. They bound the frames with broad leather bands, making a single cage of the two.
A common door was fashioned and secured. Master used his broad blade to shear away Hero’s rags. The men hunched around the long cage expectantly.
The naked couple backed away. Master was instantly exasperated—he shouted, lashed furiously, stamped and screamed, jabbed a broken shaft between the bars with malevolent intent, whirled and hurled the shaft at nothing. The carriage’s inmates went out of their minds. At master’s bellowed command a man scurried outside, returning with a long rope of woven leather strands. Master opened the cage and, applying all his weight, pinned Hero and his new mate in an awkward embrace while his men tied them together.
Again master and his men bent over the long cage to watch.
When Hero realized his predicament he made a desperate attempt to reach his peephole.
The men, misreading his struggles, babbled and cheered, but master threw up his hands. He then, through gesture, ordered his men to drape a number of hides over the long cage. Once these hides were in place he very quietly bent to one knee and placed an ear against the cage. After a while he cursed and rose to his feet. He shook the cage and stormed out, whipping and kicking the howling inmates.
In the semi-darkness the man and woman quit fighting their bonds.
A muffled patter began on the hide-covered roof.
Rain, as always, had a calming effect on the carriage’s occupants, causing the freaks and beasts to slip, one by one, into lethargy or slumber. Under such a spell, the attainment of master’s goal was inevitable.
It was a coupling both innocent and vile, without passion or celebration. Occasionally the freaks would surface, register their excitement by shrieking, shaking their cages, or otherwise clamoring…but very quickly the air would stifle them, weighing their heads and confusing their impulses. The atmosphere grew heavier by the minute. And, when night rolled over the carriages, the rain came down in sheets.

Leaning ******* the woman’s cage, master slipped his gnarly hand between the bars and slowly rubbed her belly in a counter-clockwise motion, his sinister features soft in the candle’s light. And he told, in nonsensical cooing whispers, of a lovingly secure and impossibly prosperous future.
How large and promising that belly had become! And how wise was he, the cunning and aggressive master, in his far-reaching business decisions. He turned his affection to the motionless gaping brute; stroked the battlefield of its face, tossed in another lizard. Master rubbed his palms together. From now on it was extra lizards daily, for both the woman and her mate. He remarked, with only passing interest, his star player’s continuing indifference. They didn’t know each other, didn’t need each other.
There’d been months of shows on the road now, broken only recently by this sensible rejoining of the mates at conception.
Hero’s horrible disfigurement was unquestionably top draw; he was a guaranteed crowd pleaser at every stop. So now master looked him straight in the eyes and smiled. He held the reeking candle high. The carriage was absolutely silent. Master smiled again, rose to his feet, tiptoed away.
Hero watched him retreat until the flap had fallen. He returned to his peephole, saw master round the rear of the carriage and slowly crunch by. For a time he could see nothing but the half-shapes of junipers bathed in starlight. There was a tentative movement to his right and a large shape came to obstruct his view.
The horse stood for a minute in profile. It slowly brought its head to rest against the carriage, applying its eye to the peephole. Hero froze. The two remained fixed, eyeball to eyeball, while a breeze played odd tunes on the outer wall’s hanging paraphernalia. The horse’s big dark eye rolled nervously. A long moment passed. Slowly the horse backed off. It stood uncertainly for a while, staring at the peephole. Then it quietly moved away.

Master kicked the cages one by one, left hand and right, as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Into each cage he delivered a personalized warning in passing—a growl, a hiss, a bark—but he was quickly losing control. Animal electricity hopscotched the carriage, cage to cage, ceiling to floor, front to rear and back again. Master froze. Much more of this excitement, he feared, could seriously agitate the woman—with grave consequences for master.
She was splayed on her back, in labor’s throes, her ankles and wrists bound to the long cage. Hero had been removed to give her room, and now sat hunched atop the snake woman’s cage, two men holding him by the throat and legs.
Master gnashed and snarled, listening to the woman scream, watching her stupid round head bounce up and down and back and forth. He knew it! He’d been suckered, hoodwinked, scammed—ripped off like a common rube. The woman was too ******* to handle even something as natural as childbirth. Still…it was too late to second-guess himself—all these months he’d been patient—he’d been supportive and vigilant and now he would not be denied. He flogged one of the men to alleviate his tension.
The blue lady was very slowly, very dramatically arching her spine. Master wiped the sweat from his eyes. When the bars were pleating her big round belly, her shoulders began drumming on the straw-strewn floor.
Master screamed one very colorful expletive.
A razor silence came over the carriage. Not a body moved or breathed.
At last two men tiptoed around their purpling master and leaned into the cage. One obediently ****** a foot between the bars. He pushed ******* her right knee while using a hand to grip the left knee, spreading her legs wide. The other man drew a broad leather strap between her teeth. After lifting the woman’s head he pulled the strap behind her neck, knotted it to make a gag, and yanked a skin sack over her face. He looked up anxiously. Master licked his lips and nodded. The man made a fist and frantically punched the woman’s face until her muffled screams ceased. She moaned gently throughout her contractions.
Master genuflected, brought a spitting candle in tight, and took a deep breath. As he raised his hand the candle’s light bounced off his knife’s chipped and scored eleven-inch blade. Master swore and reached down carefully. He flicked his wrist twice and the menagerie went mad.

The child was a tremendous disappointment.
Master had eagerly anticipated an infant ******* and deformed; something embracing the best qualities of its parents. He had even designed a special cage that could be expanded by degrees as the spawn developed. There also remained the tantalizing option of a family display, though such an undertaking would require the eventual construction of a structure even larger than the cage its parents now shared. Master anguished over the logistics, knowing it would break his heart to have to cut one of his jewels’ throats just to make room for a growing child. Nights he would slowly pace the carriage with all the possessiveness of a jealous suitor, one hand maneuvering a sputtering candle, the other tenderly rapping his whip’s **** against each visited cage.
But the boy was a flawless specimen; a beautiful, undemanding baby. From the moment master angrily tossed the placenta he felt cheated, even betrayed. He grimaced as it peaceably took to its mother’s breast, despite the surrounding horrors. Master hated it, immediately and entirely. The ****** thing was so docile it was almost charming. He drew his knife and was just reaching down, when an overwhelming sense of dread shook him like a rat in the jaws of a mastiff. Sweat poured down his squat, pig-tailed nape. He knew he would live to regret it, but decided to not cut the child’s throat right away. It was the oddest feeling. His knife hand had trembled for the first time in his life, and he had found himself momentarily contemplating right and wrong at the outset of a perfectly simple and commonplace procedure. That was it, then. His business instincts were letting him know there was a good, albeit unknowable, reason to let the sweet baby live. Master left the carriage anxiously, muttering in his ambivalence.
The boy grew to embody his worst expectations. Not only was it a poorly oriented child, clinging to its father rather than its master almost from the moment of weaning, but it soon proved a lousy draw with the patrons. Those who paid to view the child dangling in its special cage inevitably departed unsatisfied, some vocalizing, strangely, an acute sense of shame. So once again master entered the carriage with his knife hand steady, and once again he exited trembling, his heart in his throat and his soul in a whirl. He whipped the dwarf savagely before leaving. What place conscience in the mind of a businessman?
Soon as the boy could walk, master put him to work fetching and feeding. But the brat was slothful in his chores, preferring to hang around his family’s cage while staring wistfully at his father. For their part, the parents were wholly disinterested. Master would fume while Hero gazed for hours out his peephole—even as the mother lolled, perpetually ill. Sometimes that accursed woman’s condition riled poor master to no end. She could teeter at death’s door for months at a time, her body changing hues to the fascination of customers, only to bounce back with a hardiness that was of interest to no one. But at the peak of her performances the blue lady could really hold a crowd. Master produced an entire outdoors extravaganza around her:  within concentric rings of raging torches his men would slowly strip her naked before wild audiences, then allow the dwarf and albino to take her while the leopard strained against a gaily festooned chain. Master circulated his crew through the crowds to encourage his patrons’ cult-like behavior of breath-holding and fainting. No getting around it:  the customers were crazy about her—village to village, master’s Bactrian vanguard’s colorful robes shouted her approaching fame. And Hero’s popularity continued to soar. Many were the nights when master, pacing the perimeter, wondered just what devilry could have produced the lovely boy.
Overall, Hero remained his master’s favorite conceit and hottest property. Part of the little brute’s appeal was, of course, his exoticness. And certainly the ugliness arising from his deformity was compelling…but there was a detachedness about him that fascinated every soul with a fistful of copper cash coins. Whether they ****** him, cudgeled him, or spat in his face, he remained unflappable, staring only at the aching sky. Though many would leave uneasy, master noted with deep satisfaction that they almost invariably returned.
The boy soon evinced an amazing affinity for animals. No matter how agitated an ox or horse became, the child could pacify it with one hand on a lowered brow. This was a source of endless fascination for the crew. Wagers were made. The boy was pitted against oxen whipped to a frenzy. But they would not harm him; they would rather go prostrate and take the lash. Master tried to work this knack into a viable act, but his patrons just weren’t buying. They wanted freaks.
When the lad was a mere five years old, master had him trained in the peripheral art of the pickpocket. The boy worked well alone, and had all the makings of a fine little flimflam artist. Master sighed, his chronic nightmares a thing of the past. As ever, his business instincts were guiding him well.
Then late one afternoon he found the boy squatting outside his parents’ cage. The boy had done the unthinkable:  he had deposited his day’s pickings at the feet of his father instead of bringing the ***** to master. Master flew into a rage and raised his whip to give the little traitor the lashing he deserved. But before he could deliver a single stroke his other hand shot to his chest and he staggered back against the albino’s cage. He blinked down at the boy, who regarded him steadily while scooping the plunder into a little pile.
From that day on the boy placed whatever he could get his hands on at his father’s feet. As time passed he became ever more adroit at thievery, growing into a youngster both admired and despised by master and his crew; admired because theft was a cinch for him, despised because they were all that much lighter in their possessions.
Now, for eleven long years the strange little train had bounced along, sometimes camping outside villages for months, occasionally pausing on connecting roads. The show traversed the heart of Manchuria, skirted the Gobi in the north, and so eventually crossed almost the entire width of Mongolia before proceeding north to the confluence of the rivers Yenisey and Ob’. Much silver and copper had come to master’s coffer, much fame to his name, but he now sat looking over a vast, unmapped Siberian wilderness. The mostly nomadic characters they’d been encountering spoke in tongues unfamiliar even to his personal valet-translator-accountant, and the tone of these nomads had been unmistakably hostile.
Master huddled surlily under a canopy of sopping hides. Night was falling hard during a merciless rain, the wind was picking up, and his supplies coach was bogged in a growing sea of mud. At that moment he accepted the whole end-of-the-line concept, and knew he wasn’t going anywhere but back. And when he got back he was going to shine! He jumped from the coach.
The earth took his weight for a heartbeat—and he was up to his chin in muck, splashing about on his hands and knees, sliding forward on his palms and toes. He did a belly flop into a rain-filled depression and churned to his feet with the devil in his eyes. Wallowing in mud and bile, master stomped to the supplies coach and kicked wildly at the stuck rear wheels.
Somewhere between kicks he lost it completely.
Master broke for his whip. One minute he was blindly lashing his men, the next he’d succumbed to a mindless ferocity. He thrashed about like a berserker; whipping the beasts, the coach, the very night. His men were scarcely able to move in all that mud, but their dread of his savagery kept them hopping. They gathered as one and shoved the coach recklessly; slipping, splashing, shouting. A minute later, three lay splayed underfoot, but the mired wheel had been freed.
Throughout all this the oxen had swayed nervously, while the horses softly tramped their hooves in place. Master had his men turn the oxen about until the rickety train was pointing dead east. He checked the hitches and personally applied the lash. The oxen didn’t budge. Master swore and wiped the rain from his eyes. He had the horses hitched ahead of the oxen, but they were even less obliging. Master flew into a spectacular rage. His men, fearing for their lives, ran liberally with the lash.
The swaying of oxen picked up until the entire train of carriages was rocking. Yet the oxen could not, would not be compelled, under any amount of prodding, to take an eastward step. Master looked around in exasperation.
The night had gone insane.
Horses were fighting hitches, oxen walking on fire.
Master cursed the rain and mud and lashed all the harder. His men, seeking to please, whipped maniacally until the horses and both lead oxen broke their hitches and bolted west. The men immediately embraced the rear oxen, but the hitches shattered and the beasts stormed off. The remaining horses blew it, kicking at everything and nothing.
Inside the long carriage all was chaos. The albino was neighing and screaming, the aged leopard spinning in its cage. Hero stared out his peephole, amazed at the blur of figures stumbling by in the rain.
A pair of clopping blows rattled the opposite wall. Three slats cracked. A tremendous impact, and a huge section collapsed. A thrashing, hysterical mare burst through the breach in a veil of rain.
The horse went mad, killing the albino and snake woman in a flurry of hooves. She fell ******* the near wall, crushing the cages. The leopard shot into the air like a rocket, slashed at the mare’s throat and vanished in the rain. The horse reared above the family cage. She was just coming down in a wheeling storm of hooves when something made her freeze. Her stare locked with Hero’s, and a second later her eyes were rolling in their sockets. The mare kicked crazily and came down ******* her left flank, smashing the long cage’s side. She whirled upright and leaped outside.
For a tense minute the family sat in the rubble, rain bombarding their eyes. Nothing in their years of captivity had prepared them for such a situation. But by the end of that minute the son had taken full command. He rolled onto his back, braced himself, and kicked his parents across the aisle, through the remnants of the opposing cage, and out of the carriage. They all fell about in the mud and rain. To the west, the mare stared back strangely as she splashed into the night. The boy wedged himself between his parents, threw his arms around them, and pushed with all his might. Their bodies found a common center of gravity. Fumbling drunkenly, the family staggered through the rain in the wake of the mare.

The boy was the natural leader.
Master’s innocent-looking little ex-student could quickly assess and exploit almost any situation. He did the foraging and the figuring, slept with one eye open and one fist ready. He got what he wanted by charm or by stealth, slipping off at nightfall, returning at daybreak with small slaughtered animals and chunks of dark peasant bread. He also pilfered any bauble or oddity he could get his paws on, to be placed reverently at his father’s mangled feet. Breadwinner and watchdog, he faithfully held the family together; a nuclear son. He sewed hardy feather-lined cloaks of reindeer hide, and turned a cache of marmot pelts into a kind of side-slung backpack. He was doting nurse during his mother’s episodes, and unbending apportioner of calories in lean times. Dauntless when it meant crossing mighty rivers, relentless when it came to finding mountain passes. But the endless marching, the unreliable diet, and the countless predators made the three wanderers lean, haggard moving targets. There were times when the little lamp of family was all but extinguished, and long stands in places that seemed absolutely impassable. Still, the boy would work things out. He would stoop to any level to feed Hero, and for a stranger to threaten his father was to summon a psychotic, unyielding monster. He was both spear and shield.
The toughest job of all was maintaining a tight unit, meaning he was forced to become a hard-nosed ******* whenever his father was ready to wander off, which always seemed to be whenever the mother was hurting most. She’d become a tremendous impediment to Hero’s compulsion, and therefore her son’s chief nemesis. It wasn’t a big-picture concern anyway; the writing was on the wall. The blue lady’s attacks were increasing spectacularly on the steppe; her world had always been an enclosure of some kind, and the great horizon was proving just too much. Perhaps these intense affairs served as links to Hero’s suppressed memories, for at the onset of each attack he’d turn and hike, and then only exhaustion could curb him. The boy would press his mother on, dragging, shoving, and smacking—he could be mean when necessary, and though circumstances had made him the nucleus, their worlds unquestionably revolved around Hero. Where he sat, they sat. When he rose, they did the same. In this manner they marched for years across the vast steppes, single-file—father, mother, and son, respectively—unmolested, lacking possessions, always following the sun. Long before they could be measured they had drifted into obscurity.
The woman’s end came quickly and dramatically, in a rocky little depression on a half-frozen field. One moment she was responsive to her son’s prompts, the next she was flat on her back, her eyelids fluttering. That night she leapt from fever to chill, from alertness to stupor. The boy, squatting beside their campfire, watched her face and hands run cadaver-blue to fish belly-pale and back again. While he was staring her eyes popped open and her hands came scrabbling. He sweated through the clawing embrace until he could bear it no longer. He oozed out and ran down to fetch his father.
When they got back Hero watched incuriously for a while. His mate’s face was scrunched up and her skin the color of sapphires. She wasn’t breathing.
His gaze became glassy, his eyes returned to the night. As he rose the boy immediately grabbed an arm. Neither moved for minutes. When the boy at last relinquished, his father casually stumbled off.
Strange things were going on in Hero’s world. Some days he would notice how animals regarded him oddly, in a manner that seemed almost personal. He found, for instance, that particular creatures were recognizable even over great distances. A number of times he would sit with one in a stare-down, waiting patiently, until the animal’s natural disposition caused it to bolt. Though the meaning of these encounters was way over his head, he would watch, and he would listen.
In time he noticed an increasing skittishness in some of these familiar creatures. Something had them spooked. He then observed a number of lean gray wolves moving in and out of the picture with an air of complete indifference:  these wolves weren’t hunting; they were loitering—lounging in the grass, lackadaisically padding to the rear, filing by slowly in the distance. Once in a while a lounger would raise its head, yawn cavernously, and drop back out of sight. So unobtrusive was their behavior that even Hero’s ever-vigilant son began to take them for granted. They paused where the family paused, and halted whenever the woman broke down. Perfectly camouflaged by the gray boulders and dire sky, they were completely forgotten in the drama of her passing.
There were other, far subtler events existing for Hero’s senses alone. He could perceive patterns in everything around him; in the manner vegetation gave way wherever his heart was leading, in the way so many animals appeared to be not merely mirroring, but making his course. And wind, rain, running water:  these phenomena had voices. Yet not for everybody. No one—not his mate, not his son, not another soul on the planet could hear this call, for they were all of a sort. They were static, they were temporal. Hero couldn’t have cared less about the lives of his family, or about the mundane goings-on in the encampments and small tribes they skirted. Such beings lived in a world that was defined by the moment. They shouted, they banged, they clamored.
But west—west was music.
For his boy, once again watching Hero shamble off, the moment of truth had arrived. He looked back down, at his mother’s death mask being remade by the dying light of their campfire. As the flames dwindled he could have sworn he saw shadows creep into the wells of her eyes, while others, crawling up around her jawline, drew her bluing lips like purse strings. He hopped to his feet and ran for another handful of tinder. When their little fire provided enough light he dropped to his knees and looked again.
She was sinking right before his eyes, every aspect of her expression in collapse. The boy watched clinically, fascinated. As the flames began to sputter he thought he could see large purple bruises spreading across her cheeks like the seeping limbs of overflowing pools. He bent closer.
From deep in the night came the longest, the leanest, the saddest wail he’d ever heard. He turned to see the starlit ghost of his father, facing away, staring at a low barren hill. Uncountable stars embroidered the spot. The boy made out a low shape moving along the hilltop, cutting off patches of stars as it passed.
The wolf howled again; a mournful, spiraling cry to nowhere and nothing. Hero’s head notched upward. He began to hike.
Halfway to his feet the boy stopped dead.
It took a minute to sense why he’d frozen in place, and a good while longer for his heart to quit pounding. He was aware of a nervous padding, and, once his vision had adjusted, of a lazy stream of eyes gleaming in the dying campfire’s light. The eyes bobbed around him, glared momentarily, returned to the ground.
A massive gasp, and his mother was tearing at his wrist. He watched her hyperventilating, saw her bulbous yellow eyes sinking in a wide violet pool. With a sizzle and pop the last tongue of flame was taken by the night.
Then her clammy hands were all over him, pulling and demanding, caressing and beseeching. He had to pry them off like leeches, had to place them clasped on her shuddering arched belly.
A silky snarl rose almost in his ear.
With a little squeal he sprang to his feet, even as something nearby jumped back in response.
The boy stood absolutely still while the panting thing padded nearer. They stood very close, smelling each other. He instinctively extended a hand, palm forward. But it was no good; his arm was shaking out of control. The snarl rose again, not so tentatively this time. His mother’s nails tore at his ankle.
The boy gently stepped away, only to find himself surrounded by the shifting silhouettes of half a dozen gray wolves. They approached in a calculated manner:  two from the left, one from the right, another from behind. He was being goaded away from his mother; he could hear her fists beating the ground, and a few seconds later the sounds of a nauseating assault and ravaging.
He shakily raised his other hand. Now both arms were extended, and their message was clearly one of defense rather than control. Two snapping wolves stepped aside, leaving him a gateway into the night. A cold wet nose bumped his wrist.
Screaming like a woman, he took off after his father just as fast as his feet would carry him.

                                                  BOY

Alon­g the great Kazakh Steppe a man could wander a lifetime and never meet another of his kind—especially if his kind happened to be Alaskan Inuk, and if he happened to be the teenaged patriarch of a two-man family going nowhere.
Here history is mostly mute.
Upon this continent-spanning steppe, unnamed communities were scattered and rebuilt, lives blown about by the wind. The only centers of humanity a traveler might encounter, far removed from the Silk Road at the very crack of the new millennium, were temporary encampments of civilization at its rudest—shifting holes of cutthroat commerce existing solely for the barter of silk and spices and hapless souls. Life here was revered far less than merchandise, and the longest-lived men were those who kept their distance.
Hero and his boy hiked over permafrost and tundra for years; their meandering course a drunken mapmaker’s scrawl. Chronological entries along this imaginary line would reveal that they’d stopped, sometimes for months at a time, when the father had grown too weak and disoriented to continue. Hero’s internal compass was long-sprung, and his weight had fallen considerably. He’d sit on his lonesome, scarecrow-scrawny, wistfully scrolling a 360-horizon while his boy scouted and scavenged. Then, for no apparent reason, he’d just up-and hike—sometimes northwest, sometimes along a tangential plane that always threatened to spiral. It was brutal:  winters were frigid, summers, by odd contrast, running steamy to baking. Season by season these marches lost their tenaciousness, and eventually their heart. Hero’s obsession was becoming his demise.
Now, to a hypothetical observer, the ratty pair of woolly camels materializing out of the rising August heat might have been mirages.
These beasts were novelties here, and pioneers, for they were way beyond their normal stomping grounds. They’d tramped for months with a mind-numbing monotonousness, a thousand miles and more; round the Urals to the south, and through the hard territory braced by the Volga and Voronezh, avoiding anything that even smelled of men. They’d been wild camels; ugly, ill-tempered, and unpredictable, until the boy tamed them by touch…but this new pattern was a literal change of pace…for weeks the frail little man and his dark teenaged son rose and fell with the animals’ rhythm, lulled by it, sick of it, dreaming of lands far removed from hoarfrost and peat moss. In this manner they were borne clear to present-day Belarus, whereupon the camels’ stupefying march began to quicken. Mile by mile they put on steam, until one day they reached a broad area distinguishable from its bracing terrain only by its many deep surface cracks. Here the camels’ behavior became erratic; they crouched at an angle while tramping, their long necks oscillating, their noses bobbing along the ground. Eventually they came upon a dingy pool nestled in a pebbly depression. The local brush surrounding this pool was situated like iron filings about a lodestone. The boy hauled back his camel’s neck and laid a hand on its brow. The brute slowed to a halt. The other camel imitated its partner, move for move. Simultaneously the animals dropped to their knees.
The boy jumped off, catching Hero as he fell. The camels stood watching stupidly as son maneuvered father, but after a while grew nervous and began tramping their hooves in time. They slowly stepped to the pool’s rim and knelt woozily, their noses poised just above the surface. Their whiskers danced on the pool’s face, their lids became heavy, their hindquarters quivered as they drank. Their nostrils, having fluttered in unison, remained agape. They appeared to be asleep.
The boy began filling skins.
The water was quite warm; he slurped a palmful and almost immediately felt intoxicated.
He flicked it off his fingers; the water was bad.
Three heads were now mirrored in the pool; the camels’ at ten o’clock and two o’clock, the boy’s at six. He watched their reflections continue to ripple, long after the pool had become still. His face, melting and firming, rapidly fluctuated between extremes of age, and between his own recognizable features and those of some…monstrosity. The effect was hypnotic. He felt his joints stiffen; his eyes became weak, his thoughts muddled…his face was irresistibly drawn to the pool’s surface, and for a moment he was in real peril of drowning. He ****** his head aside and creaked to his feet.
Where the camels had knelt were only the prints of their bellies and knees. In the distance they could be seen galloping all-out for the horizon, right back the way they’d come. The boy watched until they were swallowed by their dust, and when he turned around his father was long gone.
Now he knew it was all just a matter of time.
And sure enough, after eleven more days of feebly staggering along, Hero completely ran out of gas. The boy bundled him up in a shawl, like an old woman.
Sitting there, cradling an unresponsive man weighing less than eighty pounds, he couldn’t help but let his morbid fantasies run wild. He was now old enough to realize his father had at some time suffered severe head trauma, and honest enough to accept that the man was rapidly approaching a vegetative state. This understanding accompanied him like a shadow, and that night he questioned, for the very first time, his own convoluted rationale.
He was just beginning to sense that his will was not his own.
He built a semi-permanent camp west of the Desna and foraged in a tight spiral, always returning in a straight line. Some days he came back feeling uneasy, sensing another presence. Then it was every other day. It bugged him to no end. At last, when it became every day, he hauled his father to his feet and began a resolute march to the west.
Again he became anxious, and after only a dozen yards.
He turned slowly while hunching, certain something bulky had just dropped out of sight. Nothing looked suspicious, everything looked suspicious. He walked Hero some more, occasionally peering back over his shoulder. There was…something.
He whirled:  only masses of rock and high brush. Yet, when he really strained his eyes, he was sure, pretty sure, that he could make out a large crouching body continuous with the rocks. Heart in his throat, he began a slow steady creep, only to pause, positive the bulge, whatever it was, had shifted in response. The boy very gradually raised his arm until it was level with his eyes, faced the palm outward, and extended the arm parallel with the ground. He could almost feel some kind of current passing between his itching palm and…nothing. He walked over to Hero, stopped again. There’d been the subtlest sense of traction. The boy propped up his father in a cloud of flies and waited.
In a minute the bulge drew *****.
Out of the brush strolled a furry gray wild ***, her back inclined from countless weary miles; stretching her neck, pausing to nibble, taking her sweet time. Grungy as she was, she fit right in.
At the boy’s first casual step she immediately hit the dirt and remained flat on her belly, one big dark eye staring between her hooves. Another step, and her **** bunched up. The closer he got, the higher her rear end rose. When he was almost at arm’s length she sprang back and danced away, seeming to bound with delight. But not to the east, as she’d come.
To the northwest.
She backpedaled while the boy came on whistling and cooing, matching him step for step. But the moment he threw up his arms in resignation she spun round as though cued, dropped on her belly, and peered over her shoulder.
The boy was first to blink. This time he approached fractionally, keeping movements to a minimum. She rose just as carefully, sauntering northwest in reverse, and at the first sign of hesitation turned, dropped, and cautiously gazed back. The boy glared at that huge mocking **** and broke into a sprint. She easily danced out of reach, plopped down, and continued to stare.
He began hurling stones, with venom and with accuracy, until she’d scurried into the brush.
But on the way back to his father he could feel her tagging along.
Twenty feet behind she halted, looking bemused.
The boy nodded ironically. He walked Hero over, murmuring baby talk all the way, and firmly placed a palm on the animal’s muzzle once her breath grazed his fingers. She stroked his hand up and down with her whiskers, gave a kind of curtsy, and waited on her knees while he helped his father mount.
At Hero’s touch a shudder ran down her body. She stood up straight. Her eyes became set, her back absolutely stiff. She put down her head and began the long trek northwest, never once breaking stride.
It was an amazing march, an impossible feat. For a little over three days and almost four hundred miles she progressed like an automaton, driving herself without rest, without food or water.
After trotting alongside for an hour the boy climbed on and force-fed his father berries and smoked meat, his dark eyes constantly searching the countryside. Occasionally he’d see a run of red foxes to their left, watching intently, padding cautiously. Sooner or later they’d vanish, only to be replaced by a train of feline or equine pursuers. Packs approached and receded while, high overhead, flocks formed triangular patterns that continually broke up and reformed. There was a peculiar rhythmic quality to this ebb and flow that lulled his senses further. The boy shook his head to clear it, but his exhaustion was deeper than he’d supposed—even the brush appeared to be leaning northwest.
That first day he grew numb with the pace, and that night the relentless pounding of her hooves drew him into a miserable slumber. He wrapped his arms around his sleeping father and lay half atop. When he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer he tore strips from his skins, then looped his tied wrists round her neck, his ankles round her belly.
On the second day she was breathing hard, but her back was still high and she showed no signs of faltering. Her eyes remained focused on the ground dead ahead. She always sensed the best routes; finding mountain passes, fording wetlands.
But by the third day they could feel her ribs quaking against their legs. Her breath exploded as she marched, blood frothed and caked about her nostrils. Still she pushed herself on, her pace so steady it was almost metronomic.
On the fourth day her legs were gone. She veered and stumbled, shuddering every few paces. The boy hopped off for the umpteenth time and tried to bring her to graze, but she wouldn’t be turned. He ran behind her as she staggered along, unwilling, or unable, to rest.
At last a foreleg gave and she went down hard. Sobbing and snorting, she plowed her muzzle back and forth in the soil, the useless leg repeatedly pounding the ground. After a minute she raised her head and brayed at the sky, her neck muscles taut, her head slowly swinging side to side. Her cry went on and on.
With a tremendous effort she pushed herself upright and butted the boy aside. Every part of her body was shaking. From her depths a low moan grew to a steady bray, and finally to a wild, pulsing howl. She came to a rise, but was too weak to climb without sliding. Stamping in frustration, she managed a few feet, reared feebly, slid some more. The boy got behind her and applied his back; it took all he had to assist her almost to the top. With a desperate lunge she crashed on her belly.
Amazingly, she dragged herself on, her howl now a scream, her head whipping left and right. When she could pull herself no farther she ****** forth her neck to its very limit and, with a shudder that ran from the tip of her nose to the tuft on her tail, shoved her muzzle straight into the dirt and died.
The boy hauled off his father and fell back. The animal’s eyes were fixed upwards, seeming, even in death, to be straining for a glimpse of what lay just beyond the rise. The boy half-dragged Hero the last few yards. They collapsed at the top, and together looked over the cold Baltic Sea.

At water’s edge a haggard fisherman sat on his boat’s ravaged deck, blindly staring out to sea. His was a queer vessel; a family structure built more like an aft-cabined barge than like seacraft typical of that period. The fisherman’s boat, like his mind, had been abused beyond repair.
He’d lost much in his life. Time had taken his dreams, pox his face, hardship his back and shoulders. And, more recently, a brawling band of drunken Baltic pirates had ***** his wife and daughter before butchering them along with his two fine sons, while he sat helplessly bound to the mast. Finally, to further their delight, they’d set the boat aflame and sent it crackling against the sun; knowing he could hear their hoots and howls, knowing he would drift undead, accompanied only by this last unspeakable memory.
But a squall, without prelude, had doused the flames and blown his home ashore.
There he’d remained for a full long day, staring at nothing, his shattered life caught on the rocks. On the second day he’d worked himself free and commenced staggering about in his memories, gathering shards. It was a pathetic claim. He made a pile of all the old bedding and linen and usable cords, and set about sewing a sort of mementos sail. All that third day he had sewn, and on the fourth he had hoisted this sail and been moved to see it billowing in a northwest-blowing breeze. Again he just sat and gaped. And later that day he’d become aware of a commotion taking place on the long grade leading down to the water, where a writhing mass of seagulls was proceeding like a tremendous slow-motion snowball. He’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t uncommon to find gulls in a group of many dozens or more, but there must have been two, maybe three thousand of the birds now swarming toward his boat. They were making an incredible racket. In the midst of this cloud could be seen a couple of slowly walking figures; as they neared he made out a small man accompanying a boy in his late teens, both dressed in odd skins. When they reached the rocks his eyes were drawn to the small man’s face. It was a foreign face, brutish and dark, with a deep cleft running from above the right temple to the jaw’s left side. Whatever instrument had felled this man had been devastating—everything in its path was smashed, and with permanence. The forehead was caved in. There was no bridge to the nose, the left cheek was completely collapsed, one side of the mouth was a mangled mess. The jaw itself had set improperly, so that it jutted to the side. The general impression, especially from a distance, was of some unforgettable circus freak’s countenance puckering at an angle. It was a face right out of a nightmare. But there was nothing frightening about the eyes. They were the eyes of a child.
Maybe half the gulls hopped screaming on the rocks. The rest circled overhead.
The boy considered the fisherman curiously before placing a foot on the charred deck. His gaze went around the boat, lingered on the makeshift sail, returned to the slumped figure. He passed a hand before the eyes. No response. He then leaned in close and placed his fingers on the man’s forehead. Immediately that bleak expression became fluid, brimming over with horror and heartbreak. Tears rolled down the fisherman’s cheeks as he gasped, shuddered, and backed up the scorched mast to his feet. Thus propped, he squinted at his visitors and was overcome by a wave of homesickness so strong he had to turn away. The feeling bewildered him, for this vessel, and this sea, were all the home he’d ever known. He clung to the mast while the boy helped his father board. Once he’d collected himself, the fisherman tore a heavy crossbeam from the toasted cabin. He and the boy used this as a lever, and together they shoved the boat off the rocks. The wind picked up nicely, and the little craft was swept across the water.
Exploding off the rocks, the gulls shot after the boat as if it were brimming with fish, the loudest and orneriest vying for favored positions directly overhead. The melee attracted additional gulls—they came shrieking in their hundreds from all sides, banking and calling in the oddest manner, until the mass grew so thick as to cast a permanent shadow on the boat. All day long the clamor continued, and all that night. The fisherman rolled with the rudder, listlessly, allowing the sea to control him. Eventually he let go, that the wind might bear them where it would. His sail ballooned but held firm, and the boat fairly zipped across a sea somehow smooth as glass, broken only by the vacillating ripples of bottleneck dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The three tiny sailors sat hunched together, motionless, all throughout the next day, until the black coast of Sweden loomed in the twilight.
As the boat neared land the cloud of gulls broke up, shot to shore, and landed in groups of a thousand and more; a dizzying, wildly uproarious reception committee.
The dung-covered boat slammed into the rocks, shattering the fisherman’s trance. He intuitively walked his **** up the mast and, swaying there, watched the boy draw his father over the side and lead him to a clearing at wood’s edge. There in the dusk he made out what appeared to be a hefty spotted runaway heifer hitched to a rickety wood wagon. He saw the cow gallop up to meet them, saw the boy look around warily, saw him help the little man into the wagon and climb in beside him. The animal immediately began picking through the woods, the large brass bell round her neck clanging forlornly.
The clarity of that bell made him realize just how quiet it had become. He craned his neck:  there wasn’t a gull in sight. He fell back against the shot mast and slid onto his tailbone with a clacking of teeth. His eyes were misting up. In the gathering dark a few sail fragments flew past and were ****** into the woods. The boat rocked and relaxed. After that there was only the sound of the receding bell’s sad, monotonous song being batted about by the wind.

The little cow strode through moonlit woods until she came to a path formed by the rutting of wheels over many years. She followed this broken, serpentine track throughout the night, and by morning was passing farms and, occasionally, crossing broader paths that might realistically be defined as roads. All day long she bore down that ragged track, until she came in late afternoon to a clearing near a village. Here many such tracks converged. And here the boy slipped away while she grazed.
Sometime after dark he returned with a load of straw, a couple of pilfered blankets, and a fat iron kettle. Crammed in this kettle were salt, tubers, cheese, a few loaves of rye, legumes, and a plump foot of lamb sausage. Most of this ***** he’d brought in tied to the bowed back of a huge, puffing, highly amenable black pig which, thus laden, now followed the boy’s every step like a fresh convert tracing the heels of the messiah. The boy built a fire under the stars, filled the kettle with creek water, and commenced simmering their dinner. While waiting, he couldn’t help but note an odd feature of the local flora:  plants, especially trees, all seemed inclined to a northwesterly disposition, though no amount of wind could account for it. He shooed the pig. But rather than run along, it backpedaled in a nervous circle, round and round in reverse, until it lost its balance and fell on its ****. There it remained, a yard behind the wagon. The boy fed his father and lined the wagon with straw. They settled in for the night. The boy must have nodded, might have dreamt, but while he was drifting he became aware of a stirring in the woods. He sat up, saw the pig’s eyes gleaming inches from his nose. And there were a number of animals, some wild, some strayed from farmsteads, arranged in a broad circle around the wagon, their eyes glinting with moonlight. Not a rustle, not a peep, was lifted from the woods.
In the morning he woke to find the pig still staring. The fidgeting heifer, impatient to roll, began her long day’s march while Hero and his boy were yet stretching and scratching, and the ******* pig, galloping heavily, fell in close behind. Each new day this routine was repeated. They banged past farms and small communities until the ruts intersected a broad rocky road wending halfway across the kingdom. The cow addressed this road with vigor. They picked up followers—a goat here, a couple of sheep there—which hurried after the wagon as best they could. The cow stomped on with resolve, mile after mile, day after day, her bell keeping steady time. That bell’s peal attracted foals, lambs, and kids into the wagon’s narrowing wake. Hares hopped between hooves and wheels, boars and blue foxes fell in and withdrew. White falcons, normally solo fliers, whirled into wedge shapes high overhead.
At night the entire train would camp on the road while the boy raided proximate farmsteads, always returning fully laden. And as soon as the fire died the colony grew, creature by creature, and the moment the sun broke the horizon the heifer came to life and moved on, but each day a bit more resolutely, as though straining to meet a deadline. The march took on a sense of real urgency. The cow pressed on with attitude, the clang of her bell more strident with each passing mile. Soon her followers numbered in the hundreds, as animals deserted their farms or crept out of the woods to tag along. Tillers and traders stood dumbfounded, amazed by the bizarre flow.
Once they’d crossed into Norway the frothing cow veered hard to the west. The pace really picked up; no longer were Hero and his boy afforded the luxury of a night’s sleep in one spot. Days blurred into a single variegated flow as the bashed and lopsided wagon continued building its entourage; the riders were surrounded dawn to dusk by a confused and confusing scurry. Word of the flow’s weirdness preceded it clear to the Norwegian coast, so that now plowmen and merchants, wearily gathering their goggling families, found themselves lined in anticipation along the king’s highway. Horsemen went pounding to and fro with news of the procession’s progress and particulars, children ran through the streets banging pots in imitation of the cow’s approaching bell. Livestock wheeled and stamped, fowl leaped and crashed.
The slobbering cow broke into a run.
Bystanders trotted behind, calling back and forth excitedly, while the wagon’s permanent following squealed and squawked between their heels. The cow made a hard turn onto a widening swath in the brush. This swath, seeming to strain against the soil, ran straight down to the crest of a low hill overlooking the Atlantic. On either side a crowd had been studying the phenomenon for some time, but now all eyes swung to the dark and disfigured man and his son, clinging to the disintegrating wagon behind the careening spotted cow.
The trailing people traded views as they ran. Most—at the very outset of the new millennium, with Christianity burgeoning throughout Europe—leaned to the miraculous. Others, just as superstitious but prone to a darker point of view, threw looks of horror at the deformed little man. Yet they ran no less eagerly.
The galloping crowd made for the seaside, where only one local event of any moment was brewing:  on the coast a Greenlander Viking was preparing his longship for the rough voyage home. Impetuous son of the great island’s first permanent European settler, he’d just been baptized in Olaf’s court, and was now eager to sail—but not as a warrior—as a missionary. While his spirit remained in a tug-o’-war between his father Erik’s will and that of gods old and new, his duty was clearly to his king. And Olaf had charged him with the Christianization of pagan Greenland.
Something on the wind now made this destined man turn his head. From behind the gentle hill to his rear came a kind of thunder. Heads popped up, followed by a confused explosion of voices, and seconds later a frantic bug-eyed heifer burst into view, dragging the wheel-less skeleton of a shattered wooden wagon. On the wagon’s splayed frame a man and teenaged boy clung for their lives as the spewing animal made a beeline for his ship.
The new missionary, still egocentric enough to assume his Maker might actually toss him a personal, surreptitiously rolled up his eyes. The sky yawned at his arrogance. At his side a smallish cowled man rose irritably, but the missionary sat him right back down. He then snorted, squared his shoulders, and signaled his men to halt their preparations.
Knowing it was expected, he gathered his hard Nordic pride and coolly made his way into the crowd.

The priest clung to port, gagging above the waves.
After a completely uneventful minute he leaned back and stared through tearing eyes at the distant backdrop of gathering mists. Weeks now…a man of his constitution had no business at sea.
Along, too, were a quirky little man and his fiercely devoted son.
Through his pantomime, the boy had been so persistent in begging their passage that refusal, under the circumstances, would have been unbecoming not only a man of God but a man of the world.
So there it was:  a priest who couldn’t hold his lunch, a witless eyesore who couldn’t sit still, and a surly teenaged protector who snarled at the first hard look. This crossing just had to be some kind of divine test—of mortal patience as well as moral values. Norsemen weren’t made for babysitting.
The mists condensed.
And the shifting shape became a hard familiar coast.
And the longship was mooring, and the crew were jostling and clambering, and the big missionary had booted off the haunted little freak and his hypersensitive son, and was condescendingly half-escorting, half-carrying, the green priest ashore.
And they were home.

Priest in tow, Leif quickly took up the Christianization of Greenland’s Western Settlement, as per Olaf’s command. The mangled little man and his son followed him around like dogs, slept outside his door and annoyed his visitors, ultimately proving far easier to adopt than to shake. Barely tolerable shadows…still, the lad was simply amazing with livestock…and though the youth’s useless father seemed time and again to be just begging for a whooping, his son’s presence bore some ineffable quality that always curbed the missionary’s hand. Several times he’d witnessed the father approached by settlers bent on abuse. Each time the boy had stepped in, and each time the troublemakers were mysteriously repelled. The missionary of course didn’t attribute any kind of celestial intervention to these episodes, and certainly the popular notion of devilry was a natural reaction to the pair’s outrageous exoticness, but…in the son’s company, and even under the sharp eyes of his fellow Norsemen, Leif more than once found himself oddly moved to protect the father. And so the deformed man and his boy day by day blent in—as village idiot and mystic guide. And when in time a ****** brought tales of an unvisited land to the west, it was only natural for the restless Greenlander to buy that ******’s boat and, before stalwart comrades, weary family, and whimsical God Almighty, reluctantly accept the eccentric father and son as sort of seagoing mascots.
Hero was from then on irrepressible. During preparations he would pipe and stammer in his half-mute way, brimming with a confounding anxiety that kept him underfoot and at odds with all. On frigid nights he perched on the westernmost rocks, moaning to the horizon in the strangest fashion while his son stood guard. He positively spooked the locals; they’d gossip, nervously and with bile, of an answering wind that came wailing off the sea like a banshee in labor. The whole island wanted rid of him. And when his champing beneficiary, still clinging to the notion of Christian charity, bundled him aboard with his son and a crew of thirty-five, not a single settler was sorry to see him go.
Almost from the moment they cast off everything went wrong, as all attempts to control the longship were met with some kind of unknowable countermanding force. Vikings were not renowned for passive resistance—they fought, squaresail and steering oar, leaning oarsman to oarsman, until the ship rocked on the waves like a bucking bronco. An erratic weather system pursued them, worsening dramatically at each minute variation in heading. The Norsemen doubled down, and when the clouds finally burst wide, the cowling sea went mad. Dervishes whirled about the hull, crisscrossing winds bedeviled the sail. Patches of kelp belonging to much warmer waters came heaving alongside, fouling the work of the oars, while far to the west a humongous fog bank formed, eradicating the navigable field. The lightning-streaked horizon was a throbbing gray slit.
The longship became locked in a slow westerly current.
Fatigued crewmen complained of headaches and hallucinations, and of a nasty, slightly metallic tang to the air. There were numerous walrus sightings; bobbing flippers and snouts amid drifting ice chunks that came prowling the North Sea like a circling pack of famished white wolves.
Worst of all was the boy’s father—instantly agitated by everything and nothing, prey to some primitive impulse that caused him to periodically incline his head, shudder to his feet, and loop his arms as though embracing the sky. Leif would watch him scrabbling at the prow like a cat at a tree, furs snapping in the wind. He’d watch the boy re-seat him for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time be filled with an immense contempt. By now he’d acknowledged that it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder charity and tolerance. That brown little freak struck him as an enormous malformed barnacle, slowly working its way back up the prow. Trying so hard to go unnoticed, looking and listening so intently, though there was nothing to see other than the growing shelves of fog, and nothing to hear save the rising, almost hysterical voice of the wind.
Leif sniffed the air, his ******’s instincts nagging him. This was a foul current, and a fool's errand; he took a deep breath and tentatively ordered the longship brought about.
The ship kicked twice, as though an enormous submarine hand had seized and released the hull.
A whirl formed in the water, causing the keeling ship to sweep around like a clock’s second hand. All about them, those drift-ice ghosts cruised dangerously near.
But they’d been liberated from that accursed current. Leif fiercely urged on his rowers, and at last the ship broke free. They made a bead due north.
Night came and the temperature plummeted.
Small sheets of ice converged, drifting between the hunks. The Norsemen, instinctively huddling amidships, passed out one by one in a massive pile of fur and flesh. In the freezing silence the floes bumped and recoiled, bumped and gathered, bumped and bonded. The tiny ship, swallowed whole, was dragged along in a labyrinth of black sea and interlocking slabs of ice.

The Norsemen came to in a surly, foul-smelling heap, lost at sea. While they were still groggy a voice cried out that a darker patch was developing in the fog. The men all fell to port. Under the confusion of their voices could be heard a distant rumble.
At this Hero hauled himself up the high curved prow. A half-light began to penetrate the fog, barely illuminating the irregular faces of drifting ice. The missionary stormed forward and indicated by gestures that if the boy didn’t restrain his father he would have the man tied down.
The longship stopped dead in the water.
The men found themselves regarding a perpetually frozen coastline swathed in bluish veils of mist. Directly before them loomed an immense ice cliff hundreds of feet high. Rising beyond this cliff were endless snow fields, where lean violet shadows seemed to drag about of their own volition. And upon those bleak fields a thin howling wind prowled, kicking up brief white dervishes, leaving a strange zigzagging signature.
Even as they stared, a darker shadow high on the ice cliff’s glistening face began to widen, accompanied by a cracking sound that could be felt before it was heard. With the illusion of slow-motion, a stupendous chunk broke out of the cliff and came screaming toward the sea. It hit the water like a bomb. The thunder of its separation and the explosion of its impact took a moment to reach them. Then, out of a spewing crater of crests and spume, the new calf came lunging, tromping the sea so hard the longship, fully a mile to sea, was swept out and ****** back in like a cork. The floundering mountain of ice bobbed and lilted, generating huge waves which continued to rock the ship long after the monster had settled. In a while the roaring in their ears subsided and there remained only the swirling, nerve-wracking howl of the wind.
The missionary’s eyes swept left and right. Whatever this place was, it sure wasn’t the fair shoreline he’d been promised. Hero again scrambled up the prow, and Leif again yanked him down. This time he made good his threat; he had the little nuisance bound, though he was half-tempted to let him take his chances overboard.
From somewhere deep in the haze grew a soulful, otherworldly call. It went on and on, electrifying the air, bottoming out once the ship had merged with that previously fought westerly flow.
By now Leif’s nerves were shot. He ordered the oars raised.
The longship began to drift. Ship and ice were pulled due west.
The clouds fell far behind as the ship embarked upon an amazingly calm sea—so calm its entire visible surface was featureless except for the faint wakes provided by the ship and its hulking ice companions. To the east a huge fog bank appeared on the horizon, and a while later a smaller bank to the north. Then a very dense one to the south. In time these banks converged, imperceptibly becoming a single mass that closed about the ship, bit by bit creating a slowly heaving dome. Tiny beads of water appeared on beards and eyebrows; in a minute everything was soaked. The only sound was that of the dragging steering oar. The men were now sopping ghosts, speaking only with their eyes.
Directly ahead the fog began to dimple. The dimple became a hollow, the hollow a cave, and then ship and ice were being towed through a low, ever-extending tunnel in fog. The current increased its pull. Ship and drifting ice accelerated through the tunnel.
After a while the missionary quietly stepped forward. He stood with one hand on the prow’s neck, listening to the mist, so motionless he might have been a carved extension of the longship’s aggressive design. Not a man breathed. The tunnel’s dilating and contracting bore was producing an all but seamless series of oscillating, near-phonetic sounds. Leif almost tiptoed back. No god, pagan or Christian, could account for the strangeness of this situation.
They were borne on a course that grew more southerly, and the following day beheld an inhospitable shoreline glazed by dazzling white beaches. Their course held. Two days later they came upon a far pleasanter, thickly wooded coast. Here the current released its hold, and here the missionary untied Hero and personally placed him and his son in a tiny oak faering. He was just as sick of them as he was excited by this promising new land. Once the rowboat had been heaved over the side, he and another man stepped aboard and took up the oars. They began rowing with easy, powerful strokes.
When the boat kissed sand the missionary stood unsteadily.
The first European to set foot on North American soil now placed one hand on his crucifix, the other on his sword’s hilt, and awkwardly plunged his leg into the thigh-deep, ice-cold surf. Before he could take another step the boat lurched as Hero leapt headfirst into the water, followed an instant later by his son. The Greenlanders watched sourly as the two splashed their way into a mad dash for the waiting pines. Leif wished them both good riddance and turned to grin wryly at his fellow Norseman. He must have blacked out for a second, must have been blinded by a shaft of sun, for he found he was staring stupidly at a point midway between his companion and the longship. It felt like he’d been kicked between the eyes.
Everything was dissolving.
He studied the beach and pines closely, but saw nothing of the man or his boy. He turned back, disoriented. With what seemed a superhuman effort he took up his oars. He rowed out sluggishly, in a dream, and the fog rolled in to meet him.

The boy broke into the trees and embraced a trunk, fighting for breath. What happened next happened so fast and so unexpectedly he didn’t have a chance to react.
Three savages stepped from behind the pines and beat him to his knees. They twisted his arms behind his back and hauled him to his feet. He’d barely processed the impression of a wild painted face when something sharp struck him ******* the temple and tore down his cheek to the jaw. Two of the assailants manhandled him into an upright position and held him in place while the third brought his weapon down again and again and again.
All but dead, he watched a nightmare countenance shouting through a shot veil of blood, and behind that image a reeling crimson sun. He lay there gushing while the savages went through his rags. They propped him against a pine and shrieked with triumph, tore the hair and gory scalp from his skull, threw back their heads and screamed at the screaming sky. Tooth and nail, they ripped apart his face and throat and, certain he would die, split what bits of fur were left and let his carcass lie.

                                                HERO

The weeks stretched into months while he fought his way back into the light.
He progressed in stages; only half-conscious, stumbling along in a blood-red stupor punctuated by a slow strobe of frequent blackouts. Days loomed and decayed, nights pounced and were gone; the backlit, swirling gray cosmos collapsed and expanded on every missed beat of his pulse. A thousand times he broke down to die, and a thousand times he clawed to his feet, driven to pursue a tiny, ghost-like figure fluttering in his memory.
Everything conspired to check him.
A bay like an immense landlocked sea was skirted over months or years—it was all the same. Cold locked him in, Hunger drove him afield, that rude ***** Wind lashed him blind, wore him like a shoe, screamed for his skin while he worked his way west.
Somehow he ate, somehow he avoided being eaten; the instincts that had served him halfway around the planet were still vital beneath the abused exterior. His simple burrows became sturdy temporary shelters. He relearned the art of fire, and began to cook what he killed. He manufactured crude snares and weapons and, when his recuperation was complete, paid closer attention to the on-again, off-again trail he’d been following…forever.
Sometimes this trail would call to him like a lover. Other times he stood peering uncertainly, trying to recapture meanings and aims. Then the ground would turn spongy and the sky revolve, and once again he’d be lying all but dead in the woods, while from the face of the sun emerged a vile winged horror, its ugly pale head lashing side to side, its cruelly hooked beak dangling something that glistened in the wild pulsing light…then the fat moon, rising like gas against the icy black night…the feel of the wind:  the slashing of her nails, the chafing of her hem…the sound of things crunching and pausing and sniffing…then the sun, blazing anew. And again that thing, descending, its wide black wings beating slowly, metronomically—but none of that mattered any more. For his mind had quit him, had flown howling into ice and pine to roost with things surreal. In the day his madness might muddle and run, or spend the light stalking, cat-like, watching and waiting. But at night it came creeping from all sides. Sometimes it came in waves. It could gnaw like the devil, or wrap around him like a warm second skin. But none of that mattered either.
The only thing that mattered was the trail—whether it was lost for good, or for only a while. He’d been following it through his episodes, always north, wondering just who and where in the world he was, and trying to shake a ridiculous notion of being led on a wild goose chase.
The cold was unbelievable.
The deeper north he delved, the more confused he became. He grew starved for colors and scents, finding nonexistent patterns in the stark contrast of shadow and snow. He thought he could detect a kind of otherworldly design in the overwhelming number of dead ends he encountered, and, too, in the diabolically frustrating locations of natural obstacles. He seemed to be forever fighting the wind—a hulking, despondent snowman, he hiked face down and focused, while another aspect of his attention floated just behind, disembodied, watching his silent pursuers…leaving no tracks, blending perfectly with the environment in their clever winter coats…not predators, but creatures that normally should have been hightailing it away from him. By the time he could turn, they’d become nothing more menacing than snowdrifts. But they pursued him nevertheless.
And so his paranoia increased…had there ever really been a trail…and when did this miserably cold, miserably anemic crusade begin…his long-term memory was falling apart a chunk at a time. It just got colder and colder and colder until at last, one snippet of a day during one blur of a year, he found himself utterly lost, and clueless as to his history or objective. His mind was a blank, as colorless and featureless as the endless world of ice around him. He’d come this far solely to learn that the only trail he’d been following was his own—and now even that trail was succumbing to ice. On all sides there was nothing to see but an infinite field of glaring whiteness, and nothing to hear but the ululating wail of the tubular polar wind. It was the loneliest, the unholiest, the creepiest sound imaginable. But it wasn’t insanity that made him wheel. It was his self-preservation instinct.
And then he was somehow on his knees in the woods, facing a furious setting sun.
Whole seasons had passed from his memory like chalk from a board. His only recollections were those of a broken, haunted animal:  of being perilously sick, of fearing the unseen, of blindly struggling across a solid-white wilderness. That he’d survived such an ordeal meant nothing to him. And that he had in some indecipherable manner stumbled across the cold-as-stone trail did not fill him with amazement or with thankfulness—there simply wasn’t anything visual or emotional left to draw on. A significant part of his life had been whited out.
But now he could focus entirely on the trail. And before he knew it, the fuzzy area between fantasy and reality found a seam. He began to analyze and plan. He paid attention to hygiene, and kept a kind of running mental journal. Things were sorting out. Yet there were nights when the old sickness would resurface, reestablish its hold, and leave him sweating and uncertain under the stars. Then, paradoxically, his perception would become razor-keen. And so he would see, on a distant hilltop, a pair of scrawny silhouettes, one on four legs and one on two, slowly crossing the faintly pocked face of the setting moon. He would become strangely excited, and thereafter retain crystal-clear images of himself, as if seen from above, hurrying with adroitness through the silent, graveyard-like setting of black and blue night and white-frosted trees. Then the fuzzy area would broaden, and it would be the next morning, and he would be staring at the prints of man and elk in snow. And he would see how the elk’s prints doubled back, and how the man’s prints terminated where he had obviously mounted his guide. An unfathomable glow would bring tears to his eyes. But, even as he gathered himself, a fresh snowfall would wipe out the prints. And once again the world would plummet into white. And the wind would howl as the snow hammered his eyes. And he would ***** on.

A haggard animal sat shivering in a small grove of frozen pines, watching his campfire die. His eyes were fixed. Like the fire, he was running out of warmth, running out of fuel. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinder round his bones, and not much feeling left in his limbs. The slowly heaping downfall was burying him alive, but he was too numb to care.
It had taken him six long years to cross an entire continent, and during that time he’d known only cold and excruciating pain. The pain was leaving him now. The cold was making it right. His eyes glazed over.
Along a narrow plain to the west a herd of caribou filed dreamily through the snow, cutting across a panoramic backdrop of dazzling white mountains. The slow-motion parade was hypnotic. After a while it occurred to the drifting man, in a roundabout way, that he was dying, that he was nonchalantly freezing to death. Concurrent with this notion there rose in his chest a wonderful liquid warmth. His eyes slowly closed and, once shut, began to set fast.
He was jolted from within. It was as if he’d been kicked in the heart.
He ****** to his feet, pounded his fists on his thighs, felt nothing. The breath spurted from his mouth in small white clouds as he stumbled downhill after the slow caribou train. He swam through the snow, hallucinating, imagining that certain individuals in the herd were mocking him by slowing and accelerating, while others glanced back with expressions of contempt.
As he burst into their midst the animals stepped aside indifferently. A few galloped ahead to keep up the herd, but most simply sidestepped while he danced there, stamping his feet and smacking his hands. The herd grew thinner, until only the old and infirm were filing by. The man desperately embraced a hobbling female for warmth, but she cried out and kicked, triggering a panic reaction in the herd. Clinging for his life, the man was dragged along beside her as the herd stormed into a maze of flying ice and snow. His weight caused her to stagger sideways until they slammed against the flank of a sick male. The man instinctively threw an arm over the male and, thus draped between them, was borne across the drifted plain for upwards of a mile, his freezing feet alternately dangling above and dragging through the snow. The herd broke into a hard run, forcing him to assume a broken trot. Soon his legs were stinging. Sensation rushed through his body.
Now the herd, still picking up speed, began to contract, jamming him between his bearers. There was a quick jolt to his right and he was lifted clean off his feet, nearly straddling the bucking female. It had become an all-out stampede. Through hard-flung snow he saw the cause:  just ahead, the caribou had run head-on into a solid wall of galloping wood bison, and both frantic herds had blindly veered to the east; were in fact running side by side down a deep, ragged canyon—were pouring over the canyon’s lip like a cataract. He was approaching, at breakneck pace, that very place where the converged herds so abruptly swerved. The hanging man snarled as he was borne inevitably to the point of deflection.
There came a concussion at his left shoulder, followed by a blast of snow. In an instant the ailing male was tumbling head over heels to the east, ****** into the stampede’s plummeting mass by the fury of its descent. The man and female, rebounding from this impact, were shot to the west in a crazy jumble of flailing legs. The caribou lost her footing, flew nose-first into a snowbank, and came up running. Kicking off, the man used the last of his strength to heave himself astride. At first she fought to shake him, but the spell of the run was too strong. She and half a dozen others went pounding in the opposite direction of the stampede, quickly joined by a number of bison that had likewise splintered from their herd. The riding man could make out their huge hulking shapes thundering by in a blizzard of flying ice, could hear their heavy gasps and explosive grunts. One passed so close he felt its massive flank brush his leg. He peered to his right and saw a black, pig-like eye regarding him excitedly, moving up and down like a piston as the beast ran alongside.
The eye shifted, focusing on the gasping, completely obsessed female. The bull dropped its head and slammed into the caribou’s side, sending her and the man careening down a ***** to the west. The caribou brayed hysterically and her backside went down, but she managed, despite the weight of her rider, to return to all fours and frantically continue along the *****. Again the bull charged, crashing into her shoulder. The man and caribou were launched sideways into the white searing air.
He sat up carefully. The huffing bison was straddling him like a bully laying down the ground rules. Its big wiry beard came right up to brush his chin. The stench of its breath was stupefying.
The bull stamped and snorted, thrusting its stubby horns left and right as the man used his elbows and heels to back away. The bull followed, move for move. When the man collapsed under his own impetus the bull shoved him along with its snout, bellowing furiously. Clear down the ***** they lunged, shoving and lurching, until the man lay sprawled on his back; up to his chin in snow, completely helpless. The ton of a bull butted and kicked, but only glancingly:  those hooves could **** with a blow. At last the man, in one clean sequence, spun on his rear, dropped to his side, and went rolling down the ***** using his elbows for ******.
At the bottom ran a narrow fence of frosted saplings marking an ice cliff’s precipice. He lay face down in the snow, too done in to do anything but **** at an air pocket.
And there came a high-pitched crackling, a sound like the protracted gasp of embers in a dead fire. He turned just as those saplings began leaning to the west, their frozen skins cracking with the strain.
The bison bellowed menacingly.
The sprawled man looked back and saw it still standing with legs spread wide, silhouetted against the sky. In a moment it began huffing downhill, lurching side to side, surfing the snow between lunges.
It chased him through the genuflecting saplings straight into a frozen gully where, protected by a few feet of insurmountable verticality, he was able to slide on the ice between its stomping hooves, downhill out of reach, then downhill out of control—spinning just in time to glimpse a breathtaking vista:
Partly framed by the gully-straddling saplings was a vast crescent of jagged white mountains seemingly huddled round a small stretch of snow-draped pines. The little wood these mountains surrounded was isolated in a broad lake of solid ice. Hundreds of fissures radiated crazily throughout this packed ice field, appearing to issue from somewhere near the frozen wood’s center, which was completely obscured by a ring of rising mist. Above this thumbnail panorama the sun showered gold.
Then the gully dipped radically, and he was skidding headfirst, slamming back and forth against its slick white walls. This uncontrollable plunge had the positive effect of getting his blood flowing. Yet it tore him up. Had the gully concluded in a cul-de-sac, or had further progress required a single calorie of uphill effort, his struggle would certainly have ended here. He would have been too weak to move, and death would have been swift.
But there was a glacier—a great river of ice pouring slowly out of the clouds. The gully, terminating in a little scoop formation near the glacier’s base, spat him flailing onto its gnarly glass hide. He went head over heels, bits of skin and fur flying like chips from a band saw. Somehow he gained his footing, and then he was running against his will, tumbling and recovering and tumbling again.
He didn’t catch much of that crazy run. He half-glimpsed whirling walls of ice, felt a fickle surface underfoot, and broke through an assaultive mist that clung to his ankles and arms. He remembered having the ragged hides torn right off his body, and then being skinned alive. And he remembered reaching the glacier’s base and crawling like an animal; round its sweeping drifts, past its peaked moraines, all the way to a twisting frozen gorge.
And he followed this gorge down; ricocheting wall to wall, delirious, small plumes of thrashed snow marking his descent.
Through a freezing wood he fumbled. In a veil of mist he tumbled down a steep and verdant grade. As cold consumed his closing breath, he fell upon, near-blind, near death, a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a pool.
And in this pool a man lay purged, his broken body half-submerged.
The stumbling man stopped. He knelt to weep, but lost his thread. One hand took a bicep, the other, the head. With a twist and pull the corpse emerged.
That visage…that face—misshapen mask, contorted, bleached; of life’s deposits fully leached. Essence dispatched—a void, sodden wretch.
He let it fall and the glass was breached. All a freak, all a stretch:  upon this act his grip detached.
And the bridge collapsed…one vagabond grasp…what were these feelings; recaptured and trashed…a span elapsed…who was this puckered mass…he hauled it by the waist and thighs…slid it in, watched the pool react:  purse and recover, expand, contract. The glass reformed, now silver-backed…a sudden mirror…the man leaned nearer…saw his reflection, just smashed, remade intact.
The pool grew still.
Within its depth a shadow stirred—visions gathered, some distinct, some obscure. What they meant, and who they were, was much too much to fathom. The glass became blurred.
He closed his eyes, let his heavy head fall, fell back on his haunches, felt the sweat seep and crawl. The air was a pall—as he struggled to rise, a nib crossed his wrist.
He opened his eyes.
Between his fingers the blades poked and crept. Round his knuckles they ventured, up his forearm they stepped:  they seemed to be triggered by prompts from the ground. He shook his head slowly and dully looked round.
There were jays grouped about him, their black eyes aglow. Red hens came running, their fat chicks in tow. Gophers engaged in a weird hide-and-seek. Bluebells and buttercups craned for a peek. Sparrows hopped past and, paying no heed, burst into flight. He watched them recede.
Westward they flew.
Bewildered, he slumped.
Bumped from behind, he jumped to his feet, flabbergasted to find an ancient gray moose near-eclipsing the sky, with grit in his snarl and fire in his eye.
The old moose took aim.
The man turned to flee and stumbled, then tumbled and fell on a palm and a knee.

But there lies a world (so the lullaby goes) where rivers ever run.
Poked from behind, pushed out of his mind, he staggered into sun.







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Hi everyone and welcome to brumbies arvo live and today we play the might of the sun wolves who at the end of the year will be out of the contest and first of all here is Timmy with a jingle

Brumbies go up
Subwolves go down
Brumbies will fight them
To the ground
You put your right leg in
And the opposition puts it out
You speed up around
And you have some fun
Brumbies are the best team
Of the year
Go the mighty brumbies
Dr brumby brumby number 1
We will fight the opp out of the ground
We will punch em till they are suffer yeah
Dr brumby is the best

Thank you Timmy and here is Daniel

Go the mighty brumbies
Beat the sun wolves yeah
You must beat em fight em
Knock them down
The brumbies will win hands down
I have been a brumbies fan
All my ****** life
I go for them and cheer for them
Just me and my wife

Thank you Daniel
And now to the first half of the brumbies and the sun wolves

Ok welcome back and the brumbies are leading the sun wolves 21 to 12 at half time and it is a very good match for the city of Canberra the best city in Australia and now here Kenny brumby

Go the brumbies we are winning
We are fighting but never sinning
We are showing the sun wolves
Who is boss
Ross dosh and a Mess *** fish
Go the mighty brumby team
Win this match win it well win it good
Be like dean the mighty hood
With his ways to win this match overall you are quite a catch
Brumbies clap clap clap
Brumbies clap clap clap
Fight for the brumbies 1 2 3
Gooooo brumbies

Thank you Kenny brumby and now here is Brian with his jingle
Cheer for the brumbies
Leading 21 to 12
Cheer over all their enemies
Nasty little elf
Come on brumbies
Keep this good performance up
Fill me fill yourself right ****** up
Beat the sun wolves they won’t know
What hit em
Come on brumbies fight em fight em
Fight em
To the ground and make this match
A loser for them
Make sure we become best in oz oh yeah
Goooooo brumbies gooooooo

Thank you Brian and now here is another jingle from Barry and Chris

Yo we live in the ACT
Yo and we cheer for the brumbies
Yo everyone cheers for our team
Yo we play like a strong machine
Yo sitting here enjoying brumbies
Beating the sun wolves
Yo yes it is fun cheering them on
Yo go the mighty brumbies team
Yo play the second like the first
It would be good

Thank you Barry and Chris and now off to the second half
Go brumbies

Welcome back and what a great win for the brumbies 42-19 over the sun wolves and I can guarantee to you it was a top match and here is Peter with his victory Chant

Go the brumbies
Kick some ***
Go the mighty brumbies
Show some class
We beat em up in Tokyo
Go the brumbies team
The brumbies are the best around
We will fight em through this town
Carn the brumbies
Show some class
The ACT pride with the brumbies team
Go the brumbies carn the best
Put those sunwolves to the test
Carn the brumbies
Come on win it
Micheal finnegan begin again
Go brumbies well done

Thank you Peter and here is olive
With her jingle

Brumbies brumbies
We are the brumbies
We won so easily
Brumbies brumbies
We are the brumbies
Yes we are the best
We will knock the sun wolves
Out of whack
Cause their slack
Yes they are
Carn the brumbies win this match
Well done well done brumbies team
Go brumbies go brumbies
We are the greatest in the land
We will meet the tahs next week
Yes we will
Will we win will we win
Well we won today in Tokyo
Yes the brumbies are the best

Thank you olive and now here is the end their ain’t no more till the tahs
Next week final curtain to this match will be drawn

As we draw the final curtain
Go the brumbies oh yeseree
We won 42 to 19
Sun wolves are fading fastly
And there is nothing for them next year
As they say goodbye to the super rugby mate
The brumbies will be there again
Go the brumbies
Winter Wolves
Last night i dreamt of the wolves,
winter wolves with icy eyes
hiding under the icy sky
they're eyes were like the city night
beautiful big and bright
One in body motion unsighted
one in spirit thoughts united
they are swift and graceful
Winter wolves with human eyes
Quickly into the trees
invisible beneath the leaves
This pack of winter wolves
the ones with icy human eyes
eyes, mysterious enchanting and enticing
some are misty like smoky lies
some are dark old and wise
some are blue bright and true
some are light young and new
as morning light
escapes through the clouds
their fur shines silky fur shines
gray like faded shoes
black sleek dark and new
snow white with eyes of blue
black as a night with no moon
Winter wolves with icy eyes
winter wolves that rule the night
actually was based on a dream about wolves...guess not much to say there, it turned into more of a metaphore of longing and lonliness, but started just about the wolves
Just Me Jun 2013
The Wolves:
I stand then collapse
My legs are not strong enough to hold me anymore
My body is weak
Slowly dying

I laid there and watched you
Watched you pledge your love to another victim
You say the same words to her like you said to me
You say that you love her just like you told me

I watch the girl
Her face lights up
She is happy and in love
But you are not, to you she is another victim

Soon she will no longer please you just as I have
You will cast her aside, grow tired of her
Throw her to the wolves
Watch as she slowly dies with no pity

You will do the same thing to her that you did to me
You swear you will always be there for her
But you won't
You will leave once you no longer want her, just like you left me
Left me to the Wolves

You will always be cold hearted
Not capable of love
Not capable of emotions
*You will always feed us to the Wolves
M Nov 2015
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling for you

I feel the waves getting started
It's a rush inside I can't control
Your eyes keep pulling me in
I know, I know, I know
Your friends all talking 'bout me
They say I got no chance at all
Your fire is burning deep
In my soul, my soul, my soul

I ain't up for debating
You ain't up for the taking
We got the whole shaking

In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart like a bullet in the dark
One by one, I gotta take them down
Better run and hide, ain't goin' down without a fight
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling
In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart
They come straight for your heart
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling for you

I keep on holding tight now
Cause your body's telling me don't let go
We are gonna be starting up trouble
I know, I know, I know
Just bringing my demons out
More than ever now
Your beauty could start a war
As you walk in the door

I ain't up for debating
You ain't up for the taking
We got the whole shaking

In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart
Like a bullet in the dark
One by one, I gotta take them down
Better run and hide, ain't goin' down without a fight
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling
In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart
They come straight for your heart
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling for you

I wish it wasn't true
But the whole world's tryna get a piece of you
And my heart keeps fighting in this battle of fools
Gotta make it through, gotta make it through

In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart
Like a bullet in the dark
One by one, I gotta take them down
Better run and hide, ain't going down without a fight
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling
In the middle of the night when the wolves come out
Headed straight for your heart
They come straight for your heart
I hear them calling for you
I hear them calling for you
I really love this song
Lady Mar 2017
She wasn't raised by wolves
But she could have been
The way she howls at the moon
And chases away all men
She wasn't raised by wolves
But you must believe
If you try to get too close
She will bear all of her teeth
It isn't she doesn't trust you
Except it is exactly that
She wasn't raised by wolves
So there's no pack watching her back
She wasn't raised by wolves
But she might have been
To watch her claw and bite at life
Every time she remembers when...
She wasn't raised by wolves
Perhaps she should have been
Maybe she'd sleep more peacefully
Alone inside her den.
Wolves in winter


Jan 8, 2012, 12:43:53 PM by ~OmegaWolfOfWinter
Journals / Personal




Nocturn and Elora dug their teeth into the carcass of a freshly killed deer, dragging it into the trees before tearing at the tough skin, tasting the red meat inside. the two wolves had not eaten in 3 days, but this was often the way of things for wolves in the far north. they had hidden from the invading two-legs, furless cowards who attacked them from afar. the deer had wandered too far from the herd and was easily brought down by the wolves. Nocturn looked at his mate, a wild look in his eyes as blood dripped from his white fangs. he found himself engulfed in the instincts that caused them to mate. so close to the fresh ****, they satiated the hungers of their bodies. the snow around them stunk of wolf, multiple fluids casting scents about them, along with the metallic smelling blood and the smell of pine. they ate of the deer once again, staining their fur with blood. the blizzard
was building up and the wind threw off the scents of everything, including the strong bear scent Coming from behind the wolves. the bear growled deep in its throat and roared, charging the wolves and challenging them for the carcass. the bear barreled through them, knocking elora aside with a strike of its claws, knocking her into a tree with deep gashes in her shoulder. nocturn growled and jumped onto the bear's back, sinking his fangs into the bear's neck and scratching at the heavy fur. the bear grabbed nocturn by the scruff of his neck and threw him against a tree, knocking his head against the trunk wwith a dull thunk. nocturn saw stars and then nothing.
*  *  *
when nocturn woke up, he heard the soft whimpering cries of his mate and he jumped to his feet, searching desperately for her. he found her, half buried in snow and bleeding. nocturn dug her out frantically, seeing how she shivered against the blizzard winds. he whimpered and pressed up against her, lending as much body heat as possible. "leave... me... nocturn.."
he looked at her, fear plastered on his face.
"I'll never leave you, youre all i have." he nuzzled against her and whimpered again.
"the bear... broke something inside... inside me... i wont survive the night..." her voice was weak and shaky. her white fur was ******, and he cared not that his own black fur was covered in it as well. "i'll never leave you, elora. we are mates, you and i."
elora smiled slightly before coughing, the most painful cough as blood sprayed from her maw. "when i die... return to the pack and let them know..."
"elora..."
"its... time..."
"please dont leave me..."
"search for me... in the stars... my love..." her eyes began to close.
"elora. please... dont go..."
"i love you..." her eyes shut completely, and she breathed her last breath.
"elora?... elora!!" he nudged her body helplessly. "elora..." he stood slowly, staring at his paws,"this shouldnt have happened..."
he raised his head and howled, long and slow,mourning the loss of his mate. when the storm cleared, a single star shone brighter than the rest
2 months later, nocturn stumbled into the middle of his old pack, insane and ******. his eyes were dilated and his muscles quivered. he kept whispering, "i found him, elora... i found him... i killed him, for you, elora... for you...." a trail of blood followed him, and when the trackers followed it, it led straight to the shredded carcass of a grizzly. over the next few months, nocturn's insanity faded, but he hardly talked. however, every night, he howled long and soft, as if he were mourning. when the alpha asked, nocturn replied, "i wish the grizzly had killed me too... it shouldnt have happened... not to her... it should have been me..."

"it should have been me..."

2 years passed and still. nocturn howled every night in mourning. yet this night, he felt something strange. he sniffed the air and smelled the sweet scent of his lost mate. he whimpered and followed the scent, crying out. "elora! elora!" he ran, as fast as his paws would carry him. he stopped only when he saw her, a ghostly white form of her, waiting for him. he ran to her, crying, "please, elora! take me with you! i have missed you so!"
elora responded, "it has taken a while for me to get here, nocturn. i have misssed you also. it gladdens me that you've not forgotten me."
"i could never forget you, my love. take me, and together we can dance among the stars for eternity!"
elora smiled, then licked his cheek, "then come, we have been apart long enough."
nocturn howled once and disappeared, along with elora, whisped away in a breeze. many wolves looked, but none found him. though they often heard a wolf couple howling far in the distance. theres even a legend saying that if you look close enough, that you can see the couple. dancing among the stars for eternity.
michael gagain Apr 2013
snow is drifting
beneath my feet
the wind is blowing
it cuts like teeth

the wolves are howling
for something to eat
the summer is gone
there's no retreat

i like the warmth
much better than this
the storm it show's
that she is ******

wolves come closer
in a pack
there's no escape
from there attack

build a fire
to keep warm
and help protect you from the storm

the sun goes down
it's getting colder
the pack of wolves
is getting bolder

the gun is loaded
and it's ready
the cold makes it  hard to aim and steady

i'm trapping minks
and lynx and stuff
to make a living
you know it's tough

i don't want to shoot these
wolves so grand
although there trying to make a stand

i mind my business
but there hungry too
and a weeks hard work
of trapping food

i have more heart than some one would
i'm gonna feed
these hungry wolves
Emisen Dec 2014
There are wolves in the classroom.
They sit and stare
watching, waiting
sniffing the air for a hint of blood.

Remember Red

There are wolves in the classroom.
You have to tread carefully, cautiously
Lest their teeth
Sink into your soft flesh.

There are wolves in the classroom
Whimpering, growling and howling,
Gently now, be wary now

*Remember Red,
Remember.
a day in the life of a teacher :)
Karliah May 2018
The lands are painted red with my brothers,
Thirsty are the blades that slaughter names,
Dead warriors linger among their graves searching,
Victim to the violence that is without merit or fames,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars...

The grassy moor talks of peace and neutrality,
But within the shadows, bows to the wolves maw,
You cannot blame the weak for stepping down,
Horses sleep in the light of the moon warriors paws,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars...

The land of golden leaves is filled with thieves,
They crawl amongst the waste and beneath our feet,
Drunk on their sorrows, happiness is robbed from their souls,
A queen and friend of wolves, leads them like sheep,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars…

The men from a future long past, look to the east,
Contemplating their lust for more that glitters in the dark,
Rebels within their own, mute the howling wolves,
They are blind to the bleeding infectious mark,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars…

Deathly cold air, warms and breeds powerful men,
Bears unwilling to let demons devour their inheritance,
Armed with their swords and traditions, they make war with wolves,
They fight as true sons and daughters of sufferance,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars…

The vicious wolves are mere puppets of a greater evil,
They toil and tarnish traditions held for centuries,
But they are simply dogs, scared to displease their master,
For their failure would only seek to bring more miseries,
Rest now child, for Sovngarde beckons in the stars..
Torin Aug 2018
It was perfect before I had a name
I knew she was my wing-ridden angel the very moment my eyes were blessed
she laughs when she wants to cry
and her smile
it only gets deeper
she still holds the pieces of her broken halo...

once again I talk about wolves
because everyone has their problems
yes I do
and I've seen them circling fangs out
when I closed my eyes and made my peace with god
that moment
that moment lasted forever
and ever since I left it I am only trying to get back

yes i do remember when darkness was so constant I forgot about light
yes, I know how it changed me
she was the only beautiful thing I've ever known

Heaven sent me an angel
that's the only way
I wish I was holding her now
I wish I could tell her I love her
maybe I can
once again we talk about wolves
outside its raining
I love the rain
ok
Kaye Berry Aug 2013
Big bad wolves
Huffing and puffing on cheap cigars
Under dimly lit streets
And inhaling substances I do not know

Big bad wolves
Dabbing on their pocket cologne
And chewing on mints
To hide the smell of blood on them

Big bad wolves
Snarling and cackling at jokes
With liquor shining in their throats
They inhale some of the bad stuff more

Big bad wolves
Showing their sharp pointy teeth
At cake-faced and dyed haired babes
Hoping they’ll feast on something raw tonight

Big bad wolves
Also get tired like us
From inhaling, puffing, chugging and smashing
They crawl in their beds and fall fast asleep
The firelight was fading
The shadows grew in size
In the distance if you listened
You could hear the faintest cries
Of coyotes and of timber wolf
Signalling the end of day
Howling at the growing moon
Keeping night spirits at bay

The last piece of the sagebrush
Was burning to it's core
The flames that danced as quicksilver
Now, they danced no more
The fire, once was blazing
It's flames a dangerous height
Was now a nest of coal chunks
to warm us through the night

Four days out and three to go
We'd be in two days ahead
The scheduled trip with this years herd
And we'd be back in our own bed
A smaller group of beef this time
But, that's the way it goes
At least we'd leave the mountains
Before the early snows

Coffee from the morning meal
Was still sitting in the ***
Two minutes in the embers
And it was steaming hot
The first round of watch was up
And the coffee was re done
The second watch, for wolves and things
Needed coffee and a gun

Two went down the first night out
We heard the wolves, but missed them all
They'd been following us for three days now
And at night you'd hear them call
They signalled that the day was done
And that the herd was staying still
The darkness was their element
It was time for them to ****

The fire was near finished
The flames were all but smoke
but that cup of cowboy coffee
put life into this old grey cowpoke
If the wolves kept at a distance
And just kept howling at the moon
We'd lose no more beef tonight
And be home two days from noon

The fire spit and crackled
The night was damp and cold
The stars were silent beacons
To the wolves so quick and bold
We heard them in the distance
Howling loud as if to say
Will you make it through till morning?
Wait until we come to play.....
Martin Narrod Dec 2014
Martin's New Words 3:1:13

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

assay - noun. the testing of a metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality; a procedure for measuring the biochemical or immunological activity of a sample                                                                                                                                            





February 14th-16th, Valentine's Day, 2014

nonpareil - adjective. having no match or equal; unrivaled; 1. noun. an unrivaled or matchless person or thing 2. noun. a flat round candy made of chocolate covered with white sugar sprinkles. 3. noun. Printing. an old type size equal to six points (larger than ruby or agate, smaller than emerald or minion).

ants - noun. emmet; archaic. pismire.

amercement - noun. Historical. English Law. a fine

lutetium - noun. the chemical element of atomic number 71, a rare, silvery-white metal of the lanthanide series. (Symbol: Lu)

couverture -

ort -

lamington -

pinole -

racahout -

saint-john's-bread -

makings -

millettia -

noisette -

veddoid -

algarroba -

coelogyne -

tamarind -

corsned -

sippet -

sucket -

estaminet -

zarf -

javanese -

caff -

dragee -

sugarplum -

upas -

brittle - adjective. hard but liable to break or shatter easily; noun. a candy made from nuts and set melted sugar.

comfit - noun. dated. a candy consisting of a nut, seed, or other center coated in sugar

fondant -

gumdrop - noun. a firm, jellylike, translucent candy made with gelatin or gum arabic

criollo - a person from Spanish South or Central America, esp. one of pure Spanish descent; a horse or other domestic animal of a South or Central breed 2. (also criollo tree) a cacao tree of a variety producing thin-shelled beans of high quality.

silex -

ricebird -

trinil man -

mustard plaster -

horehound - noun. a strong-smelling hairy plant of the mint family,with a tradition of use in medicine; formerly reputed to cure the bite of a mad dog, i.e. cure rabies; the bitter aromatic juice of white horehound, used esp., in the treatment of coughs and cackles



Christmas Week Words Dec. 24, Christmas Eve

gorse - noun. a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa

pink cistus - noun. Botany. Cistus (from the Greek "Kistos") is a genus of flowering plants in the rockrose family Cistaceae, containing about 20 species. They are perennial shrubs found on dry or rocky soils throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal through to the Middle East, and also on the Canary Islands. The leaves are evergreen, opposite, simple, usually slightly rough-surfaced, 2-8cm long; in a few species (notably C. ladanifer), the leaves are coated with a highly aromatic resin called labdanum. They have showy 5-petaled flowers ranging from white to purple and dark pink, in a few species with a conspicuous dark red spot at the base of each petal, and together with its many hybrids and cultivars is commonly encountered as a garden flower. In popular medicine, infusions of cistuses are used to treat diarrhea.

labdanum - noun. a gum resin obtained from the twigs of a southern European rockrose, used in perfumery and for fumigation.

laudanum - noun. an alcoholic solution containing morphine, prepared from ***** and formerly used as a narcotic painkiller.

manger - noun. a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from.

blue pimpernel - noun. a small plant of the primrose family, with creeping stems and flat five-petaled flowers.

broom - noun. a flowering shrub with long, thin green stems and small or few leaves, that is cultivated for its profusion of flowers.

blue lupine - noun. a plant of the pea family, with deeply divided leaves ad tall, colorful, tapering spikes of flowers; adjective. of, like, or relating to a wolf or wolves

bee-orchis - noun. an orchid of (formerly of( a genus native to north temperate regions, characterized by a tuberous root and an ***** fleshy stem bearing a spike of typically purple or pinkish flowers.

campo santo - translation. cemetery in Italian and Spanish

runnel - noun. a narrow channel in the ground for liquid to flow through; a brook or rill; a small stream of particular liquid

arroyos - noun. a steep-sided gully cut by running water in an arid or semi-arid region.


January 14th, 2014

spline - noun. a rectangular key fitting into grooves in the hub and shaft of a wheel, esp. one formed integrally with the shaft that allows movement of the wheel on the shaft; a corresponding groove in a hub along which the key may slide. 2. a slat; a flexible wood or rubber strip used, esp. in drawing large curves. 3. (also spline curve) Mathematics. a continuous curve constructed so as to pass through a given set of points and have a certain number of continuous derivatives.

4. verb. secure (a part) by means of a spine

reticulate - verb. rare. divide or mark (something) in such a way as to resemble a net or network

November 20, 2013

flout - verb. openly disregard (a rule, law, or convention); intrans. archaic. mock; scoff ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: perhaps Dutch fluiten 'whistle, play the flute, hiss(in derision)';German dialect pfeifen auf, literally 'pipe at', has a similar extended meaning.

pedimented - noun. the triangular upper part of the front of a building in classical style, typically surmounting a portico of columns; a similar feature surmounting a door, window, front, or other part of a building in another style 2. Geology. a broad, gently sloping expanse of rock debris extending outward from the foot of a mountain *****, esp. in a desert.

portico - noun. a structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building ORIGIN: early 17th cent.: from Italian, from Latin porticus 'porch.'

catafalque - noun. a decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.

cortege - noun. a solemn procession esp. for a funeral

pall - noun. a cloth spread over a coffin, hearse, or tomb; figurative. a dark cloud or covering of smoke, dust, or similar matter; figurative. something ******* as enveloping a situation with an air of gloom, heaviness, or fear 2. an ecclesiastical pallium; heraldry. a Y-shape charge representing the front of an ecclesiastical pallium. ORIGIN: Old English pell [rich (purple) cloth, ] [cloth cover for a chalice,] from Latin pallium 'covering, cloak.'

3. verb. [intrans.] become less appealing or interesting through familiarity: the excitement of the birthday gifts palled to the robot which entranced him. ORIGIN: late Middle English; shortening of APPALL

columbarium - noun. (pl. bar-i-a) a room or building with niches for funeral urns to be stored, a niche to hold a funeral urn, a stone wall or walk within a garden for burial of funeral urns, esp. attached to a church. ORIGIN: mid 18th cent.: from Latin, literally 'pigeon house.'

balefire - noun. a lare open-air fire; a bonfire.

eloge - noun. a panegyrical funeral oration.

panegyrical - noun. a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something

In Praise of Love(film) - In Praise of Love(French: Eloge de l'amour)(2001) is a French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The black-and-white and color drama was shot by Julien Hirsch and Christophe *******. Godard has famously stated, "A film should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order. This aphorism is illustrated by In Praise of Love.

aphorism - noun. a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."; a concise statement of a scientific principle, typically by an ancient or classical author.

elogium - noun. a short saying, an inscription. The praise bestowed on a person or thing; a eulogy

epicede - noun. dirge elegy; sorrow or care. A funeral song or discourse, an elegy.

exequy - noun. plural ex-e-quies. usually, exequies. Funeral rites or ceremonies; obsequies. 2. a funeral procession.

loge - noun. (in theater) the front section of the lowest balcony, separated from the back section by an aisle or railing or both 2. a box in a theater or opera house 3. any small enclosure; booth. 4. (in France) a cubicle for the confinement of art  students during important examinations

obit - noun. informal. an obituary 2. the date of a person's death 3. Obsolete. a Requiem Mass

obsequy - noun. plural ob-se-quies. a funeral rite or ceremony.

arval - noun. A funeral feast ORIGIN: W. arwy funeral; ar over + wylo, 'to weep' or cf. arf["o]; Icelandic arfr: inheritance + Sw. ["o]i ale. Cf. Bridal.

knell - noun. the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially fora death or a funeral 2. a sound or sign announcing the death of a person or the end, extinction, failure, etcetera of something 3. any mournful sound 4. verb. (used without object). to sound, as a bell, especially a funeral bell 5. verb. to give forth a mournful, ominous, or warning sound.

bier - noun. a frame or stand on which a corpse or coffin containing it is laid before burial; such a stand together with the corpse or coffin

coronach - noun. (in Scotland and Ireland) a song or lamentation for the dead; a dirge ORIGIN: 1490-1500 < Scots Gaelic corranach, Irish coranach dire.

epicedium - noun. plural epicedia. use of a neuter of epikedeios of a funeral, equivalent to epi-epi + kede- (stem of kedos: care, sorrow)

funerate - verb. to bury with funeral rites

inhumation - verb(used with an object). to bury

nenia - noun. a funeral song; an elegy

pibroch - noun. (in the Scottish Highlands) a piece of music for the bagpipe, consisting of a series of variations on a basic theme, usually martial in character, but sometimes used as a dirge

pollinctor - noun. one who prepared corpses for the funeral

saulie - noun. a hired mourner at a funeral

thanatousia - noun. funeral rites

ullagone - noun. a cry of lamentation; funeral lament. also, a cry of sorrow ORIGIN: Irish-Gaelic

ulmaceous - of or like elms

uloid - noun. a scar

flagon - noun. a large bottle for drinks such as wine or cide

ullage - noun. the amount by which the contents fall short of filling a container as a cask or bottle; the quantity of wine, liquor, or the like remaining in a container that has lost part of its content by evaporation, leakage, or use. 3. Rocketry. the volume of a loaded tank of liquid propellant in excess of the volume of the propellant; the space provided for thermal expansion of the propellant and the accumulation of gases evolved from it

suttee - (also, sati) noun. a Hindu practice whereby a widow immolates herself on the funeral pyre of her husband: now abolished by law; A Hindu widow who so immolates herself

myriologue - noun. the goddess of fate or death. An extemporaneous funeral song, composed and sung by a woman on the death of a friend.

threnody - noun. a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead; dirge; funeral song

charing cross - noun. a square and district in central London, England: major railroad terminals.

feretory - noun. a container for the relics of a saint; reliquary. 2. an enclosure or area within a church where such a reliquary is kept 3. a portable bier or shrine

bossuet - noun. Jacques Benigne. (b. 1627-1704) French bishop, writer, and orator.

wyla -

rostrum -

aaron's rod -

common mullein -

verbascum thapsus -

peignoir -

pledget -

vestiary -

bushhamer -

beneficiation -

keeve -

frisure -

castigation -

slaw -

strickle -

vestry -

iodoform -

moslings -

bedizenment -

pomatum -

velure -

apodyterium -

macasser oil -

equipage -

tendance -

bierbalk -

joss paper -

lichgate -

parentation -

prink -

bedizen -

allogamy -

matin -

dizen -

disappendency -

photonosus -

spanopnoea -

abulia -

sequela -

lagophthalmos -

cataplexy -

xerasia -

anophelosis -

chloralism -

chyluria -

infarct -

tubercle -

pyuria -

dyscrasia -

ochlesis -

cachexy -

abulic -

sthenic - adjective. dated Medicine. of or having a high or excessive level of strength and energy

pinafore -

toff -

swain -

bucentaur -

coxcomb -

fakir -

hominid -

mollycoddle -

subarrhation -

surtout -

milksop -

tommyrot -

ginglymodi -

harlequinade -

jackpudding -

pickle-herring -

japer -

golyardeys -

scaramouch -

pantaloon -

tammuz -

cuckold -

nabob -

gaffer -

grass widower -

stultify -

stultiloquence -

batrachomyomachia -

exsufflicate -

dotterel -

fadaise -

blatherskite -

footling -

dingmat -

shlemiel -

simper -

anserine -

flibbertgibbet -

desipient -

nugify -

spooney -

inaniloquent -

liripoop -

******* -

seelily -

stulty -

taradiddle -

thimblewit -

tosh -

gobemouche -

hebephrenia -

cockamamie -

birdbrained -

featherbrained -

wiseacre -

lampoon -

Guy Fawke's night -

maclean -

vang -

wisenheimer -

herod -

vertiginous -

raillery -

galoot -

camus -

gormless -

dullard -

funicular -

duffer -

laputan -

fribble -

dolt -

nelipot -

discalced -

footslog -

squelch -

coggle -

peregrinate -

pergola -

gressible -

superfecundation -

mufti -

reveille -

dimdl -

peplum -

phylactery -

moonflower -

bibliopegy -

festinate -

doytin -

****** -

red trillium -

reveille - noun. [in sing. ] a signal sounded esp. on a bugle or drum to wake personnel in the armed forces.

trillium - noun. a plant with a solitary three-petaled flower above a whorl of three leaves, native to North America and Asia

contrail - noun. a trail of condensed water from an aircraft or rocket at high altitude, seen as a white streak against the sky. ORIGIN: 1940s: abbreviation of condensation trail. Also known as vapor trails, and present themselves as long thin artificial (man-made) clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft. Their formation is most often triggered by the water vapor in the exhaust of aircraft engines, but can also be triggered by the changes in air pressure in wingtip vortices or in the air over the entire wing surface. Like all clouds, contrails are made of water, in the form of a suspension of billions of liquid droplets or ice crystals. Depending on the temperature and humidity at the altitude the contrail forms, they may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or may persist for hours and spread to be several miles wide. The resulting cloud forms may resemble cirrus, cirrocumulus, or cirrostratus. Persistent spreading contrails are thought to have a significant effect on global climate.

psychopannychism -

restoril -

temazepam -

catafalque -

obit -

pollinctor -

ullagone -

thanatousia -

buckram -

tatterdemalion - noun. a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person. 2. adjective. ragged; unkempt or dilapidated

curtal - adjective. archaic. shortened, abridged, or curtailed; noun. historical. a dulcian or bassoon of the late 16th to early 18th century.

dulcian - noun. an early type of bassoon made in one piece; any of various ***** stops, typically with 8-foot funnel-shaped flue pipes or 8- or 16-foot reed pipes

withe - noun. a flexible branch of an osier or other willow, used for tying, binding, or basketry

osier - noun. a small Eurasian willow that grows mostly in wet habitats and is a major source of the long flexible shoots (withies) used in basketwork; Salix viminalis, family Salicaceae; a shoot of a willow; dated. any willow tree 2. noun. any of several North American dogwoods.

directoire - adjective. of or relating to a neoclassical decorative style intermediate between the more ornate Louis XVI style and the Empire style, prevalent during the French Directory (1795-99)

guimpe -

ip
dictionary wordlist list lists word words definition definitions wordplay play fun game paragraph language english chicago loveofwords languagelove love beauty peace yew mew sheep colors curiosity logolepsy
Bob B Oct 2018
All is NOT well in the grasslands.
The animals are fit to be tied.
The actions of the crafty wolves
Have left the rest of them horrified.

"How will we EVER be able
To keep democracy afloat,"
The antelope asked, "if the wolves
Don't allow us all to vote?

"In many sections of these grasslands,
Shameless wolves are doing their best
To hold voter registration
Hostage, keeping voters suppressed."

"They aim to control voter turnout,"
The deer added. "That's their hope.
Their sneaky ways to manipulate
Elections push the envelope!

“They stall and seek petty reasons
To take names off voting lists.
Fair and honest elections are
In jeopardy if this persists.”

"It's so close to election day,
Our courts are reluctant to raise objections,"
The buffalo said. "Some of the wolves
Are even running in the elections!

"Humph! They stole a Supreme Court justice.
Then they rammed another one through.
Now they're still suppressing voters.
What more damage will they do?"

"Winnowing down voter rolls!
Their strategies should be illegal!"
The fox chimed in. Looking around,
He asked, "Where is our dear friend Eagle?"

The absent eagle wanted no
Responsibility tied to her name.
She couldn't stop the out-of-control
Wolves, and hid her head in shame.

-by Bob B (10-19-18)
Katherine Jan 2019
There are houses on this street filled with wolves.
He-wolves and she-wolves and wolf-whelps howling for meat
Scattered like snowflakes across the neighborhood.
It starts slow, and ends with “I lost my temper” “It was their own fault”
“All the better to see you with, my dear.”
Some of us are eaten up, and some of us grow wolves in our own bellies,
And some last long enough to meet our wolves down the line.
What does it matter if you become the wolf or not?
What narratives are left to us now?
Cardboard-Jones May 2019
A man was walking a path
Searching for himself
When he came across two wolves.

One wolf was peaceful,
Bringing tranquility and love.
The other wolf was chaotic,
Bringing distress and sorrow.

The wolves were hungry
And looked to the man for nourishment.
The man had a choice to make.
Feeding the peaceful wolf
Would starve the chaotic wolf,
Rendering the peaceful wolf with no purpose.
Feeding the chaotic wolf
Would make it stronger,
Effectively putting peace in danger.

The man took bread from his satchel
And broke the loaf in half,
Feeding both wolves.
Though the wolves did not look pleased,
They accepted the offering.

The man sat with the wolves as they ate.
Both peace and chaos sat together.
As the man sat with the wolves,
Eating in perfect harmony
He found himself.
Tyler Dolch Feb 2012
Many in this world will become wolves and even more will be sheep.

It is the few who become shepherds that protect the sheep from being populated by the wolves of hatred, fear, and willingness to appose such on the sheep, that are the true protectors, heroes and great leaders that young men and woman should strive and wish to be.

The way of the wolf is one that will turn your heart black, your back to your friends, and your back to the world that will cause your mind to become all that is evil, wrenched, and destructive on this Earth.

Become the shepherd
Drive out the wolf
from Adroaldo

My brother,
my dear brother,
good Morning!
The dawn
show in your face
and shine in your life!
His days
are rich
of joy.
My love
and baby
Brother,
We are alive!
I have to tell you:
we are alive!
You
are not
alone!
You're
in my heart
and in my soul.
You're
Inside of me
and in the reflection of water.
You are a part of me
and I'm part
from you!
We are one
among
all others.
We do not
we are
alone.
That day
witness
our birth!
The dawn
realizes
our existence!
The fields
receive
our steps!
The world
to accept
our presence!
My brother,
my dear
and beloved brother,
there are times
I try to tell you
One thing:
I am here!
Listen to me:
I am here!
You
are not
alone!
I need
hopelessly
from you.
I need
hopelessly
know you.
I need
hopelessly
being with you!
My brother,
my dear
and beloved brother,
My tent
It's open
To you
If you want
hide yourself
this cold night.
My tent
it’s open
to you
if you want
trick
the fury of the wolves.
My heart
it’s on
to your heart.
My blood
is red
just like yours.
Nor time
cannot
erase it.
Neither life
can erase
that.
My brother,
who will be you
in this crowd?
Embrace the truth
or will be
Illusion?
My brother,
my dear
and beloved brother,
realizes
the darkness
to come?
Realizes
the evil
now it is growing?
Hear the sound
thunder
far!
Hear the sound
saxophones
far!
Listening
the beating of wings
Grasshoppers!
Listen
to the shouts of the
angry mob!
The crowd
chasing
the insistent
hunger
for blood
between his teeth.
Everybody wants
a piece
of us.
Everyone wants
a pound
of our flesh.
They come
during
at night.
They come
during
the day.
They
never
sleep.
They
never
give up.
I see only
hate
in your eyes.
I see only
rebellion
in your eyes.
They are born
the murmurings
and strife.
They are the result
of anger
and hypocrisy.
They venerate
marble
idols.
Idols of gold,
silver
and bronze.
They cry out
a piece
of our land.
They require
even the sweat
of our foreheads.
No food
in this land
to sustain
for your
hunger
it is rampant.
There blanket
in this land
that heat
for your heart
it is the winter cold
more extreme.
There is no justice
in this land
satisfying
for expect
the greater evil
always prevail.
There is no reason
for none of this
happen
and yet
all
it happens!
Who
put our brothers
against us?
Who
he puts us against
our own brothers?
Who on this earth,
really,
It's us?
Who on this earth,
Really,
are they?
Who knows
which side is the
mirror?
All this hatred
not born alone
in the dunes.
All this anger
it does not grow alone
in the sand.
So who hate us so much
dearly beloved
brother?
Who, long ago
has played in
against each other?
My brother,
my dear
and beloved brother,
someone, some time ago,
steals
all our cattle.
Someone, long ago
defiles
all our water.
Someone, some time ago
assaults
our dreams.
Someone, some time ago
Burn
all that's left us.
However, those who hate us
such a long time
beloved brother?
The guilt
all this
It is not yours.
The guilt
all this
It is not mine.
So who will
In fact,
all the blame?
Who will be,
after all, our
single accuser?
Who is coming
to steal
all our breath?
Who is coming
to destroy
our hopes?
Who
was born
a feud?
Who
was born
a simple lie?
Who crawls
among the lizards
desert?
Who conversation
with the stars
Infinity?
Who plot
against their
own brothers?
Who blasphemes
in the heavens
and the creator himself?
Who will be
our biggest
Killer?
Who will be
our biggest
opponent?
Who will be
our brother
unknown?
Who will go
breaking the silence
in this order so violent?
My brother,
I beg you to save me
these ***** streets.
I beg you to hold me
tonight
so cold and so dark.
I beg you to grant me
a simple prayer
in this momentary silence.
Someone plot
constantly
against us.
Someone
Want to see
our end.
My brother,
dearly beloved
brother,
Hug me
when the wind
It is too cold.
Hug me
when you hear
my sigh of pain.
My hands
tremble
cold and fear.
My bones
tremble
cold and fear.
My brother,
where will you be
Now?
You will be
inside cars
passing fast.
You will be
in shop windows
of expensive clothes shops.
You will be
the billboards neon
in downtown.
You will be
in advertisements
famous brand.
Where you
will,
my beloved brother?
The sound
thunder
gets closer!
Almost
explode
my heart!
My bones
tremble
cold and fear.
I hope
for something
not owes me explanation.
I hope
for something
I do not understand.
I hope
for something
it is a revelation.
May
arise
among cacti.
Surely,
grow
among the burned grass.
Maybe
it’s only
a dream.
Perhaps
more
a desire hidden.
My brother,
in this special day,
who will you be today.
In this special day,
where is
you today?
It will be you,
my brother,
my only friend.
It will be you,
my brother,
my greatest enemy?
Will you
brother, beside me
in this cold night?
Will you
Brother, with
in the angry mob?
My brother,
my dear
and beloved brother,
It will be you
That
Sleeping out in the open?
It will be you
that one that
Fight against the cold?
It will be you
that
you face the wolves.
It will be you
that
that protects your?
Who will be
You
my dear and beloved brother?
My brother,
I implore
receiving me.
My brother,
I beg
to listen to me.
My dear
and beloved brother,
accept me!
Notice me,
understand me
and shelter me.
Accept me
the way
that I am!
I receive
in his tent
on that cold night.
Accept me
Open arms
that night so dark.
I may welcome
in these days
so dark.
Protect me
these days
so terrible.
My love
and dear brother,
Hug me.
I need
much
you hold me.
I need
the air
you breathe.
I need
address
of your steps.
I need
hear
your hoarsely
same
whatever
for a moment fiddling.
Same
whatever
for a second measly.
It
does not say
absolutely anything.
It
tells me
absolutely everything.
I need
to listen
I open my heart
Even if
only
for a second.
My brother,
My dear
and beloved brother,
I feel
all the cold
ahead.
I see
all fear
what is not explained.
I need
so much
from you!
I need
that you
be around here
and warm me
If this cold
Persist.
I need
that you
protect me
case
all evil
I reach.
I need
so much
from you!
I need
to guide me
in this dense night.
I need
that hides me
the hungry wolves.
dissipating
all
my fears,
to wash
all
my sins,
to dry
even
my tears,
that fight
By me
with all his strength.
I need
both of you,
my dear brother.
I like both
powers play
his face again.
I would love
feeling
the skin again.
I need to both
hear
your voice again.
I need
to feel
your presence again.
I need
you to hold me;
and that this embrace is sincere.
I need you
to tell me
not to be afraid anymore.
I need you
to tell me
that will be all right!
The sound of thunder
It's deafening
and if ever closer.
The hunger of wolves
ceases neither
with the dawn.
I see whole cities
ablaze
on fire.
I see the darkness
blacker
take shape quickly.
I see food to perdition
satisfied
a flock of sheep.
I see the flock embrace the night
and join
in the pack.
I see wolves
and sheep
fraternizing.
I see them embrace
the full evil
in a night deal.
Before my eyes
finally
I see the end unfolding.
I hear the sound of thunder
finally
in its fullness.
There is no more
sell some
in my eyes.
I see millions
issuing his last breath
before my eyes.
My brother,
my dear and beloved
Brother,
how can I say
how much
I love you?
How can I say
how much
you’ll be missed?
How can I say
how much
I loved you in life?
How do I look
in your eyes
knowing that never see you?
Who put
this blood
in my hands?
Who put
this weapon
in my hands?
My dear
and loved
brother,
at where
will be
you?
Will be
you
in the cotton fields?
Will be
you
coal mines?
Will be
you
in the bar tables?
Will be
you
in lullabies?
Will be
you
the stone dungeons?
Will be
you
the yellow pages?
Will be
you
in the desert mountains?
Will be
you
in concrete forests?
Will be
you
in love letters?
Will be
you
in horror stories?
Will be
you
among the persecuted
or is
In between
Persecutors?
Will you
In between
The empty belly
or are
In between
who has everything?
Will you
In between
the most popular
or is
In between
Disposable?
Will you
In between
settlers
or is
In between
Colonized?
My brother,
my dear
And beloved brother,
will you
In between
Elected?
Will you
In between
The unfortunates?
Embrace
my
problems,
embrace
my
fights,
embrace
my
­­tears,
embrace
my
hiccups,
embrace
my
scars,
I pray that the Lord
in receive
open arms.
May the Lord
the accepted
at the end.
The King of kings
in receives
in his Kingdom.
I can hold you
finally
without fear.
I can love you
finally
without fear.
May we
we
to recognize
simply
as...

Brothers!
ALC Apr 2019
We are two wolves
Tearing at each other’s flesh
Biting in with savage need
Pushing and pulling for dominance.

We are two wolves
Working off of undiluted instincts
Of euphoric animalism.

We rip away our human pelts
And reveal our battle worn skins
Blemished with past wars and historic victories.

We are two wolves
Growling with pleasure and an insatiable appetite.
Digging our incisors into each other’s flesh
And grazing our claws down one another’s backs.

We score each other’s bodies
With nips, kisses, and tongue
Demanding one to admit the others rule.
To surrender and go docile.

But we are two wolves
Fighting each other
Each step of the way
With unadulterated ravishment.
-ALC April 4, 2019
The path is crooked, long and pained,
but brother wolf walk on
for if it's rained, return we not,
all we walk is vain

The path is crooked, long and pained
the rain obscures the trail,
the scent of prey's not in the air
soaked fur and hanging tail
your dripping eyes and looming gait
tell of your arduous walk
but brother wolf walk on, walk on,
walk on and we will talk

of romance and naivete and hearts that come undone
of moonlit night when flames we met, of sparks and summer suns
live wild and young and free and bold
listen well that you may hear
this hunt, it only passes once, as seasons **** the year
but lone we aren't though wolves we are
and loyalty lies between
these wolves whose pack is not of blood
but of a bond that bleeds

vision may obscure we by the foolish or the brave
by Russian waters, or by lights, from fool's fake flame's that blaze, by passions that we crave
but through it all and by the path when by the way exhaust
your brother stops in passing by and howls "not all is lost"

for today and through the night and through the future fair
be we brother's deathly strong and princes of the air
wolves with wings and sharpened claws and hardened hides to match
we one may fly and one may dive and one day have our catch

after all we walk this path through mazened woods and sky
and after all, and after all, we'll walk it til we die

disorder from an aerial view , the other's taken turns
that crooked lead and path diverge and do our purpose spurn
warn with a whistle, call and care, "that turn will harm our dream"
give advice and give it quick, revealing everything
where brother's blind his brother eyes see not what things seem

the turning trails and easy paths left open to our paws
the trails that take  no pain to walk no effort, none at all
are oft the ones that easy take and lead our hearts astray
begin to kindle fickle flames that tomorrow die away

let not our hearts nor paws nor wings nor looks be knocked aside
but be we steady in the brotherhood and steady in our stride
steady in our dreams, and steady be in nights,
steady in our running, steady peering down from heights

the path is crooked, long and pained
but brother wolf, walk on
for if it's rained, return we not
all we walk is vain

so brother wolf, walk on . . .
also about loyalty and brotherhood, with personification as lost wolves/dragons
Swords and Roses Oct 2015
The wolves are at my door
I let them in
They are my friends

The wolves are at my table
I offer them food
They are hungry

The wolves are at my throat
I smile at them
They are just joking

The wolves are at my window
I am in pieces
They are satisfied
r Mar 2014
He sniffed the wolves
~found them wanting
Wolves sniffed of him
~found him daunting

The shepherd fears
not beast of prey
With shiverin' lambs
he greets each day

Upon the hills
and braky glen~
shepherd watches
o'er his friends

And when the night
calls lambs to sleep
the shepherd sings
while grey wolves weep.

r ~ 25Mar14
Mokomboso Dec 2014
Out there, in the woods of temperate North America
The many myriad of woodland creatures, hunt and play
Squirrels scurry and rabbits hurry
In the burrows and in the nests, the foxes and woodpeckers rest
And in there lives a pack of wolves, like any old wolves
Grey and fluffy, cute yet dignified, quintessentially wolflike


But in the pack lives a pup, on the cusp of adulthood
A strange and moody teen, makes mother wolf’s eyes roll
Pup wishes to abandon his canine roots, for something a little more…
Bipedal?
He taps away on forums and blogs, a 21st century dog
Under the name of darkhuman666, he and his friend
The brooding goth nighthuman
Together they rant and rave about their life as men
Bald primates at heart, something they call, homokin?
And their pack elders just shake their heads and say
"if you keep walking like that you’ll ruin your hips"


But together these teens congregate in the woods
With other angry wolf young, joining the newfangled “skinnie” clubs
Donning human masks and long brunette wigs
Sharing meat and merriment and the love of strange apes
Once told in fairytales to babes before bed
Beware of the big bad human! No don’t pretend to BE them!


"But daaaaaad" darkhuman666 laments
"You just don’t get me, maaaaan
I’m a badass hominid deep within
And it’s comfortable to walk like this”
"But mooooom", night
human ******* and barks
"I’m just being myself, don’t judge me oh my goooood"
Crudely drawn masks on the end of their nose
Bearing laughs and groans from the stags and the crows


When I see humans online, it does crack a smile
Imagining a brooding teen wolf posting from the other side
Just as your friend “night_wolf” is a girl IRL
Maybe wolves want to act like us, as well?
Just a joke.
May 9, 2012, 7:01:02 PM by ~OmegaWolfOfWinter
Journals / Personal




The rivers of winter ice had melted with spring sunshine's awakening and the noises of the forest announced the awakening of the fauna. a young fox stretched her long legs and fluffed up her tail as she yawned awake. this winter had been a lonely one for her, as she did not have a mate. throughout the winter she had felt the tingling feelings of her ****** urges creep between her legs and she moaned slightly as she felt them creeping there again.  she stepped slowly out of her den and took a cool breath of the spring air, bringing her the scents of the amorous flowers and the frolicking prey. she watched two birds in courting flight above har and she sighed at her loneliness. the fox hung her head low and walked softly forward. at some point she closed her eyes and yet kept walking, a few tears of longing falling from her eyes. the tingling urges grew stronger and she fought to keep them at bay. she kept walking a bit, aimlessly, though. she cried out as she stumbled over a heavy rock.
She tumbled into the nearby brook and felt a sharp stone cut her right hind leg. she clambered on to the bank, shivering and soaking wet with the chilled water. she attempted to stand and felt a fiery sting to her leg. she looked and saw a shallow **** marring her orange fur. "ow... ow..." she whimpered as she walked on. as the sun peaked over her, she felt her stomach's pleading for sustenance and she groaned. she could faintly smell a rabbit nearby and crouched low, going over how to stalk her prey. she sniffed for it and it seemed to be close, on the other side of a group of trees. she flanked around as best she could and spotted the furball. she licked her lips hungrily and pounced. the rabbit was dead in an instant as she tore its throat out. she chomped at it once and then felt a feeling of dread. she gulped once and heard a wolf growl nearby. i'm wounded... i can't avoid it now.
.
she thought. she heard the wolf running toward her and was bowled over by it. when she stopped
Rolling she was on her back. looking up at the wolf, a young grey, white chested wolf, at the beginning of his manhood. he snarled at his prey as she whimpered beneath him. then to her surprise, he sniffed at her and tilted his head, the tenseness of the hunt gone from his yellow eyes. the wolf took a step back and looked her up and down, stopping as he saw something. he spoke softly, almost caringly, "you are female... and in heat... i apologize for interrupting your meal."
the fox looked at him curiously, "You...?"
he glanced at her and finished her thought. "...do not harm females. it is a code of honor i choose to live by."
she sniffed at him, "you have no mate, no lover."
his breath caught. "nor do you, young fox, lest he'd be satiating your body's desires, and his as well."
she felt the tingling between her legs again and attempted to say something, but was stopped. the wolf said, "nor do i wish to take advantage of females either."
The fox replied suggestively, "you spared my life, surely theres some way i could repay you, handsome wolf."
the wolf looked at her, eyes dilated and his breathing rough. he shook his head, "no.. i couldnt. its not my place."
she could feel the urges burning inside her, she wanted to release them, she wanted this wolf to release her. "chivalrous, i see. then, dear wolf, alleviate my longing, my pain, and i shall alleviate your own."
the wolf took a step closer, his own longing feeding his fire. "beautiful fox... your offer intigues me... you- you are wounded..." she looked and saw her leg still bleeding. "let me aide you, dear fox." he took a few steps and lay beside her, licking her wound. with each lick, the pain receded and was replaced by a wave of pleasant ache. the bleeding stopped and he stopped licking, for the moment. he sniffed her, his cold nose brushing the swollen flesh, and as it quivered between her legs, he knew she was ready for him. "my den is close by, young fox."
She nuzzled against his chest and felt his heart pounding. she took his paw and pressed it against her own chest, letting him feel her heart. "you know we cant wait that long, here.. in this group of trees." she gestured to the spot a few feet away. the wolf quickly walked into the tangle of trees, followed by the fox. the wolf had hardly stepped inside the treeline before the fox began nudging at the furry bulge between his legs. "you're not quite ready yet, dear wolf." the wolf whimpered a few times as she licked at it, taking his smooth member in her mouth and enticing it with her tongue. once it was throbbing in its full glory, she licked one last time and said, "now you're ready." and raised herself in preparation for him. he got into position on top of her and with one paw she guided him inside her. she gasped as he stretched her a little. she glanced over her shoulder and
realized that he wasnt that much bigger than her. he looked nervous and she realized something,
This is his first time... mine too... lets make this memorable.. she experimented with different positions, and after finding her favorite, set about making this wolf howl.
the wolf ****** slowly at first, drawing out the ecstasy. only when she began to whimper amorously did he begin to ****** harder, faster. she joined him, as he pulled back, she leaned forward, leaving only his tip inside her. when he ******, she leaned back on him with a wet squish. the wolf's tongue lolled and his eyes were glazed over in sweet agony. he howled softly at first, and as the ****** came, he howled again, echoing with the fox's cries as the ecstasy reached its ****** and rocked their bodies. the wolf staggered slightly at the passionate waves of ******. he pulled out his member and looked at his mate. "come with me to my den, so we can sleep, dear fox." the fox looked at him and nodded, grateful.
* * *
The fox and the wolf walked quietly to his den, set inside a secluded cluster of trees. the den itself was set in the ground, like a cavern, just large enough for the two of them to lie down comfortably. "its going to get cold tonight," said the wolf. "we should... share body heat." he had a faint twinkle in his eyes as he glanced nervously at her. when she tilted her head to him, the wolf looked down at his paws. the fox licked his muzzle and laid down next to him. the wolf's grey fur was thick, and she was  already beginning to feel warmer. she felt the wolf's heart beat a little faster, and he curled around her. his furry tail wrapped around the fox and she purred slightly as she nuzzled him and rested her head on his foreleg. for a moment they lay there, eyes closed, listening to the others' breathing, when he whispered to her, "i never did catch your name, young fox."
she grinned at him, "my name's Sasha, the only fox in this forest. and what be your name, dear wolf?"
The wolf opened one eye slightly to look at her, "my name is Ronan, i'm the last wolf of my pack."
she held him in her gaze a few beats and replied, "i haven't seen many wolves 'round these parts, where do you come from, Ronan?"
the grey sighed and said, "Farther north, over the mountains and into ice country. the food became scarce and the pack withered away, all but me. i treveled over the hills and mountains, through forests and grassland, and i kept going, finally stopping here. what of you? you said yourself you were the only fox in this forest."
Sasha swished her tail back and forth for a moment before, "i was separated from my family during a blizzard. i- i couldn't see anything, and i couldn't hear anything over the wind. i wandered aimlessly in the whiteout, tripping and stumbling until i bumped into something big. then again, i was just a kit and everything was big to me, but i looked up and saw a pair of eyes looking at me. i was so scared the snow beneath me turned yellow.
The monster bent over and picked me up by the scruff of my neck and carried me for a long time. i was so exhausted i fell asleep in its grip. when i woke up i was in a chilly den. i looked and realized that the monster had been a snow-white she-wolf. she sat at the enterance to the den and kept looking outside, waiting for something. when the snowstorm cleared out, she turned to me and said, 'little fox. have you a family?' i shook my head as i realized they were gone. from then on, the wolf raised me and taught me how to survive. then one day a few years ago... she was gone..."
Ronan was watching the fox as she told the story. "i'm sorry."
"don't be, ronan. ever since she left ive been alone. no fox to breed me, no one for a lover. until you came along..."
ronan licked her muzzle, "no need for loneliness now." sasha smiled and was soon asleep, warmed by her lover.
*
The sun rose and shone brightly into the entrance of the den the next morning, waking sasha from her slumber. she yawned and felt around for the grey. she felt nothing. she stood up and looked around the empty den. did he... leave me? a single tear fell when she imagined the possibility. "no.... please no..." she whimpered. her breath caught as she heard something rustling the grass outside the den. sasha shrank back and hid behind her tail, peeking over it slightly. she could hear her heartbeat in her ears and feel it rising in her throat as the rustling got closer and closer. she squeaked, "who... who's there?"
she flinched as a dark mass blocked the sunlight, its shadow stretching across the wall. the mass stepped slowly forward and sasha shut her eyes tight, fearing what might come next. "sasha?" it was ronan. "what's the matter?"
she gasped at him before rushing forward and burying her muzzle in his chest fur. "i thought you'd left me..."
with a paw, ronan stroked the fur on her back. "i'm a wolf, ***. loyalty and chivalry are the only things i know." she buried herself deeper in his fur and scolded herself for not realizing that. "i caught breakfast, i figured you'd be hungry after i interrupted your meal yesterday." she looked behind him and saw a small pile of ****** rabbits. sasha licked her lips hungrily. "its all yours, dear fox." she looked gratefully at Ronan before pouncing on the pile of carcasses, tearing into one and bloodying her maw. ronan watched her with pleasant  affection. the den was filled with the sounds of flesh being rendered from bone and the snapping of Sasha's teeth. she feasted upon the **** until she could eat no more, her belly now filled. two rabbits still lay uneaten, and ronan devoured them slowly, savoring the ****** meat as it slipped down his gullet. sasha lay nuzzled up against him while he ate, toying at his tail and
otherwise teasing at him. he gave her a look of amusement and somehow got into a game of tag with her.
He chased her around the den and she dodged his paw as he reached for her. when he did finally touch her, sasha dove between his legs and poked his furry belly. leaving him with a dumbfounded expression on his face. he then chased sasha outside and they continued their game within the cluster of trees around them. sasha laughed, a liquid smooth, crystal clear laugh. ronan watched her jump around him, the sun's rays catching her fine orange fur in such a way that it seemed almost like fire. he watched her a moment and loosed a soft howl. she's so beautiful... he thought.
* *
Sachin Subedi Feb 2019
Hawling in, flaunting around
Chilling breeze, the dark
Enchanting blind owls, moonshine thrill
Weird rats and the flying bats

The witch and omens
Blurry old lake
Haunting black meadows
And the crooked faced ape

Crackling sounds of bamboo
Fire in distant hills
Misty breeze of thrill
Imagination haunting deep

Wolves,
the ****** mistiques
Sharp gazes, the moonkiss
An ackward grin,
beyond the relics
Shatters, the concept of Darwin

Heartbeat, the thrill within
Black wasp, black cream
Creepy ackward hisses
Oh just heard a thrilling scream
Wow, the wolves
aaww......
wwooo.........
wwwoooooo.................
like know just time mind life feel world lost say we're things think love there's does people night away way thought got words long reality want better left make end eyes day man human dark experience remember really right death memory going place high good live city thoughts soul meaning great pain home sky believe shall change living oh fall light choice god consciousness existence years cause hard feeling thinking fear times 'cause dreams ask alive heart need past felt days dream sensation truth true use power knowledge wrong stars understand baby tell state thing face wave broken old you'll wave new broken nature you'll **** mental look far ah drug moment best ago air lose sleep dare try leave beautiful blue born lives escape sublime doesn't body dawn friends waiting feels young daze game control perception gone story mean sun head given writing act difference reason poetry philosophy psyche little trying touch deep greatest wonder choose drugs exist we'll moments score hold play set run self forget coming hope word future dead wish burn music emotion rain stop gaze pleasure glass one's what's lies sense wake hit remain real work bad stay open brain art seek space present happy spent acid pill social we've they're half-light used land held gotta help lie path finally listen actually longing rave water cold seeking caught energy reflection information anymore venturous goes came red hide start truly hand evil divine subtle matter kind lonely yes told eternity keeps line black edge ego context dusk horizon gonna spiritual tripping dimension data die white **** seen means care getting saw places sure freedom looking hurt fool wind flow search chance la took broke existential summer content flowing belief praise empyrean empathy discovery chemical aeon couldn't who's turn forth bit question eye judgement pray passion sound personal worth memories sanity accept universe embrace lack knows free makes rise language decide consider temporal society gain wander conscious stuff religious comprehend particle psychedelic metaphysics you've entheon absurdia entactus maybe ready fate realize family meant return perfect learn miss spirit doubt rest loved minds health moving mortal bring expression sleeping cast lines purpose quiet known strange infinite king months madness haze depths ate party patterns oneself psychedelion inside guess crowd later silent clear soft breath hours hate dust forgotten arms drink fast year war longer close searching morning ashes calm beauty darkness different justice fell friend shadows knowing fine youth heavy standing sweet enjoy explain vain simple chasing hidden ends smoke gold heaven follow point person breaking necessary today relief action cool possible bass generation lying listening machine yeah substance hath engine forlorn problem subject intangible study effort quantum definitions dopamine psychedelics we'd sigma cybran apotheon isn't empathion clouds practice gave warm wanted stand poem wait storm met asleep course skies crime surely grow depression write loose fair ecstasy knew dreaming humanity waves share taken simply faith playing sands view fix winter afraid began wise welcome comprehension sought late big zero table says bliss changed repetition everybody blame unto maze understanding mr explore states ignore addiction venture define teenage american humans billion she's wasn't 'til sonder walk smile tonight speak dance skin blood breathe fears illuminate worse peace girl crave easily emotions feelings **** having force ways lets catch meet hair doors worlds hearts destroy heard walking near hurricane wisdom lights second suicide ignorance fresh waking sadness grand happiness appear rising scared save join adventure neon outside alike liberty particles wonderful compounds killed somebody grace merely closer company desert master twisted realm respect trance ridiculous *** exile pondering noble dangerous absurd nation progress culture contradiction perceive irish urban phenomena cyberspace scoreboard psi ain't you'd mydriasis entheogenesis **** ones taste throw watch painting room alas lay history spend apart sea staring poet fact cut smell happened admit river wasted brought leaves making answer sorry glow learned decided grasp breeze bed begin pretty floor lived sole sand cure awake sight tears barely kept running safe roam willing prefer mist heads asked prose wandering sounds imagine looked hour growing recognize soon falls mirror treat ***** brother climb hero problems granted digital proud changes birth quest age spring aware doing witness names amazed ****** despite takes condition intoxication level beginning worked pupils decision object insanity rhythm medium quality weather physical false process strife individual journey doth code effects abandoned channel judge notions moral swear experienced greater chain natural thunderous cleanse determine shivering hallowed plus reckon caused adolescence media superposition addict connection indigo ethics survived definition reasoning internet feedback vibrancy serotonin cyclone hacker sardonic surreality virtuality here's he's sunyata temporality ******'s empathos apotheotelos flash shining green forever anger carry son moon selfish written supposed feed ya quite loop hooked pure feet hole paper flag sick voice burning attention fly utter wicked tremble endless form infinity talking piece shores verse chest rules food placed plan hallelujah called gun fading drinking emotional measure inspiration suffering belong west read sly instead bear erase furious shame conclusion drunk roll ******* depressed calls taught died defined tire everyday answers sacred acknowledge speaks perfection games ground spoke stood motion sway keeping pretend hell movement magic park key spin kick sake jump hanging animal begins orange streetlights fade crazy honest warp puppet chained survive apathy chains claim prey science diamonds begging grip tale hang powerful wonderland heal dealing plant twice painful daylight mastery desires recall school conviction miracle yearn empyreal weekend actual court value chalk hurts humankind rabbit eggs potential offers temporary pupil atlas nostalgia serenity happens yearning ponder hypothesis worthy witnessed ideas azure tools alpha curiosity consume singularity typhoon revelation stimulant liberate application projection criminals communication throes fraternity enables actuality starshine ethos apotheosis sardonicism aren't mind's teleology empatheon entheos hear mydriatic transcendention fight tear ash minutes wanna taking nights forgot tales lest desire lust darkest single shine slow allow destruction money comes anxiety contemplate nostalgic offer continue happen ink brings brave created holding create thunder produce talk sail philosopher creating distant illuminating drive dancing ease wishing higher pass excuse figure essence angel hopes child ahead sigh using door vast loves awaits strong tornado ok sorrow immortal ghosts certain remains stained insane reached lot discovered plain poison streets killing ending tried session vs poor woke stare watching grass slick emptiness falling box painter series children virtues awareness clean rolling reach advice heavens rend half cherish bay started relax focus laughed ashamed fiend melody drop exhale void occurs beneath win chose robes thrall shield ended sons normal sunrise road forged onward burden actions unlike colors curious street observe chosen silence shades returns technology race vengeance swept bag civilization strive reconcile trouble cloud described replaced substances whilst finding euphoria dear chemistry events deal message eternal masses beliefs vision apparent honestly dr seeing idea domain soar books frames rule law pleasures eat dread bare blaze raise compassion kindness wandered objects expressed sin declare mistake smoking drum heavenly honor lands fountain renew happening aspect gotten issues divinity teach matters pills goal follows significant job romantic gazed envelope elements identity group sell foolish lucid dimensions brothers owe education november difficult recognition express properties glitter considering illusion appreciate discover resonance derived transcendental buzz notion risk scares riot rainy teaching drizzle direct experiences elation normality quote evolution versus lamplight method reflective endeavour cloth eats teenagers eventually haul club result relative breed threat subjective concerning solstice interpretations allows rational ultimately basis aligned numbness hypocrite charade morality dope chaser continuum undead exploits aeons research freeman appropriate ion ****** teachings dilation binge beatific intuitive transcendent escapism psychedelia metaphysical beta untitled mescaline otherworldly dreampt contextual experiential symbiosis codex dissociation cybernetic weren't life's let's mirror's well-being any-more entheogenic junkiedom signifiers mescalito zero-summing won't 'pataphysics window million pair logic alright whisper stone walls notice fun picture lips whispering dying wanting hands pull remained pieces poems built push house choices united turns blessed lucky drifted sane demons demon external slowly worst angels town needs needed drifting watched abyss crimson liquid arch planes add souls questions leads flicker thousand swallow note strings player despair offering realms drift caressing enter gentle closed bodies letter beat gorgeous indescribable smiling laughing probably pick grown shade precious shooting background yesterday woman ocean sober lead clothed ghost flows turned conscience alphabet contain spun luck atmosphere vagabond completely surprise rock creed drawn book autumn rays spinning bottle early regrets lake kids sad acceptance stuck melancholy formed slip draw clearly scars collapse del sit satisfied jungle realized bunch favourite laid fit breaks notes plans anyways spoken produced echoes den trees steps ugly cover explained glance stole gazing current raised travel scratch haunts played women apathetic conquest naught goodbye midnight asking passed waste loss fallen rapture absolute positive walked mistakes lately bound patience nurture fog stranger men wants prevent forfeit asks arose easy quick sing allowed prove pitch mad closest deeply tides praying root poets sentence pulse nightmare deem coffee commit golden insert mock innocent whispers offend low tea strength captured attack stories baseline joint innocence neural chemicals plains blanket dripping reflect blink concepts psychosis plucked tidal radiance roar bathed wonders thrown moves suffer unspoken exists glad shroud plunge scorn bane asunder enslaved harvest possibly fail allure drank danger unsaid veil gravity assume sum receive bloom reveal odd whispered likes news fractured wisely gathered seraphim intention wrought plane weeks mere haunting aspects ha distance hungry eternally swaying eden foretold breach advance pains balance design event forgive significance confidence error alter paying unreality cost chronology thoroughly resembles vivid steal poetic illegal understands maelstrom temples amidst perpetual lesson pathos behold reborn produces scale heaviness ascend talked **** forsake valuable andor relinquish dismiss usually kid nervous sort fierce disguise demands abandon encourage avoid minor relentless identify loneliness web alchemy cosmic rhyme coil suffered basking dropped standard spark mates hearth swore steam myth native wonderfully occasionally solace ventures determination galaxy opportunity justify political prophecy steadfast healthy forsaken chapter facebook worried ex struggle shatter gentleman including convinced profit comfortable twine deity responsible adrift sage fortune immortality theft damage examine deliverance ultimate immersion response access test physics magnitude occur member relation acts theme signal shivers mire coin planet anybody vicious nirvana pendent applause glimmering benediction consuming glint refrain renewal myths manifest nocturnal reflections limitations teenager naturally material matrix columbine giveth inseparable singular proving lifestyle coherence humane ideals starlight sincerely prudence underworld infamous perspective presented pretends excitation viewed regard enhanced zen reverence arcadia theory realization typing construct statement subjugated exploration vote hazy reaper **** streetlight artificial trespass definitive device exceed complex finality surreal petrol proposition inspiring totality originally recurring narcotic cometh juxtaposition reckoning represent inability proclamation syntax continuity nevermind avoidance irrelevant veracious arcadian commence rumination aesthetics ubiquitous nonetheless variable exploit experiencing underlying villain cola rictus ketamine corporeal electronic graciously input cannabis manifestation comprised socially proportionate insofar ethical hedonism junkies vicissitudes cognitive determining psychiatrist palindrome lucidity remix reduction dissociative reclamation detract aer enhancement intoxicants qualia world's shouldn't wouldn't other's nothing's man's summer's today's who'd everybody's y'all 'the all's t'was ethereality thought's drug's noumenon skystruck shroom alexithymia transhuman you- -the in-between self-sufficiency -one zed's 15 11 liminality immanence adrenergic symbionts sublimeoblivious medina's buckfast psychonautes determinative serotonergic psychedelos skyglow cyclica 5-ht2a noumena pharmahuasca jeans role proper loud aching grows concrete cruel strains conversation ill paint wet couple calling mouth kiss senses case keeper torn pause middle setting whats pulling bone reminds likely remind wrath karma reading sunlight prone ***** phrase enemy familiar levels careful source adolescent small straight driving courage rush flaw suppose starting deny stayed weary worship trust turbulent troubled letting absence leaving wearing college proclaim spirits gather ear lady hey garden boys winning alcohol pay foolishly banish song cross encounters plays belonging famous shift burst alice tunes hood flickers glimpse gleam fleeting grant ride deja vu anticipation spot switch boyfriend order faded wrapped definitely short fish beach clock older dusted block station anchor longest deserve passing mark awhile lovers muse ache island totally existing comfort pride phone greek apollo bleeding unknown psychic powder remembrance tree train helps painted gambling tide tired acting blow build apologies silver fabric especially suspense band cascade flawless heat hunger nearly numb bread bright minus wide looks differently dive beating veins settle turning couch holds saying impression suspension meaningless plastic rich pointless occupied brief tiger sticks stones mask cake bitter concentrate drown forbidden shell dry walks unless regardless moved type shirt lone burns songs negative momentary staying police swing unseen ability analysis worries determined dreamt sink hopelessly chances abuse palm week existed ignorant blind dice sheep agree joke spy spill odds immeasurable *** pushing wanderlust softly midst presents blade guided ripped round ball lovely rhythms beats cars glaze wash fates evening vein gloss juvenile sides faces graces month circular rung wheel rises permeates father supreme portal liked rip fades october sitting grin showing surrounded explored opened confused wall quietly deftly scene sighs lingering radio altered evaporated suns dreamed vibration important appetite exactly devil inhabiting brains ordinary beckons constant local organic soothing linger meditation moonlight lads height ethereal simplicity kinda cigarette suggest violence blew bombs arise trips predict surface guy movements grey car stepped large bank forward landed lied ancient purely crash direction inspired release warned melodic rhythmic telling mysticism blues riddle blur floating drama neck lover nerve poisonous glare factory wage character suburbia escaped gates suspended followed pierced hall marks ruled influence functioning contained losing stopping effect electronica relate fed temper facts dependent malleable convey bent delve horror wolves won lacking certainly fooled temple oblivious watches extension molecular random subtlety rem price sear covers truths judging stage frost conditions victory millennium realised confront trickster eve daughter defines awoke terror remembere
Composed on 00:53, 21/09/2016 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We don't assume this means something.
Alexander Ross Aug 2013
Wolves in the woods
Is this place any good ?
Wolves at the door
Shotguns for the world
Wolves through the wood
Holdin fast, no one left to call for aid,
Wolves make sure all debts are payed
MdAsadullah Dec 2014
Tiger, Tiger they all called him.
Faces marked with smiles grim.
Office buzzed with word tiger, tiger.
He was one but many they were.

Full day continued insincere flattery.
End of month 'twas, day for salary.
Then story took melodramatic turn.
Like tiger he moved, demeanor stern.

Outright he announced party that night.
Everyone attended in clothes bright.
They gossiped, danced and dined.
Happily they all boozed and wined.

He sat like a tiger circled by coterie;
And the total bill was half the salary.
I looked through magnifying glass;
And saw pack of wolves and an ***.
Mateuš Conrad Oct 2018
.lex lupus / fuchs zwischen wölfe: ******* Mowglí, somehow... death to the pirate, the one-eyed... Dajjal and the "concept" of money... Tom Petty died... Wayne Static died... the media? zero coverage... so... it's not like they care.. but when they do care, i care: in order to not care.

you do know
that if you keep pushing
the wrong buttons,
the lone wolf phenomenon,
will become a wolf pact,
a lex lupus...
  you know that, don't you?
it would take 3 ****** Jihadi
terrorists to take out 71 civilians...
it takes
   one lone wolf Norwegian
to take out 69 civilians...
   we. are, horde...
    **** your little get-together
wine parties...
i'd rather shove a shoe lodged
into a pineapple up my ***,
than listen to this sort of *******...
better dead,
than having to attempt a death
while. "trying"...
but wolves do not hunt in groups...
well...
some sorry ******* to howl
at the moon!
who did what?
is there any proof?
there isn't any proof?!
so... what's the argument?!
       none...
          so...
       batman lego movie
giggles all over again?
you irritated me,
just to say this much about
falling in love
with Val Kilmer!
       lone wolves...
          who's who...
Mr. Speaker / Chief Whip?!
it takes about 3 Jihadis...
to **** as many people
as a "lone wolf" Norwegian...
i was just about
to mind the I.Q. test...
    wolves don't hunt
outside a pact of a brigade...
wolves are the closest
associate of the velociraptor...
shove a fox among them?
52 people died from
3 Jihadi associates...
     Breivik killed 77 people...
see the ratio?
wolves are not solitary
animals...
       they have a pact...
foxes... foxes are solitary
creatures...
thought it was the plain said,
otherwise reiteration
of the "already" said obvious;
so no mention of Jihadi
retards?! no? nothing?!
3 Jihadists killed less people
than a single Norwegian...
oh my... oh my my...
    please keep these idiots
on the beach, in the desert,
herding sheep or what not...
         keep them busy engaged in
harems...
or whatever the **** they
get up to...
      please... keep them away from
what is becoming a sensation of:
a boiling kettle.
Egressx Nov 2018
he asks
when will it open
what, i asked
your heart.

he says
i brought hammers but
i fear it might hurt you
i said
soft, love. soft hands.
soft touch is enough

he says
kiss me
you won't have
to open your legs
just your lips, nothing
else
no, touch me soft

he tears my heart
and licks the inside
i moan
because my tongue is
tied

he touches and touches but
i won't come
i won’t come but i still
moan to keep him
occupied

im afraid the wolves
might come
i tell him when it's all over
that night the moon was too loud

so you trust me?
he asks
like howling wolves
we lie, crying
and as the dusk came he
covered me in his arms

in the morning i woke
to see the bed empty
only stains of the last night
in the bedsheets

i was afraid the wolves
might come
Ilunga Mutombo Feb 2019
Cold nights
Souls drifting
Hearts beating  
Dream chasing
Echoes of wolves speaking
My ears listen while my hearts skipping
Fear befriends my lonely soul
It holds me hostage
As I sleep with these wolves
I remember the touch of sheeps
In pain I dive deep
Giving sorrow my soul to keep
Seeing that love is as sharp as these wolves teeth
Skaidrum Jan 2016
...
"Take your crimes and medication."

Pill one.
I have come to loathe eating.
Countless days pass without a morsel of food,
typically weeks without a real full meal.
I find it remarkable, really;
that my sense of taste and hunger became living corpses
that linger within my mouth like something died on my tongue.
I have a few options at this point but here's my choice~~
~~leave the silverware clean, bare and cold---
it's purest when cold.
I don't even know why I am not hungry.
I never thought I'd see the day where I'd decline the offer on raspberries.
(They always will be my favorite...)
Now, my ribcage blooms like a garden~
~rib bones that beg to flower through
the soil that is my skin.
Skeletons don't sit at the dinning table because
starving is a special kind of beautiful.
Yet this is oddly okay to me.
And when I do dare to silence it,
the mild sting of hunger that pulls you like the moon;
It's regret that's delivered in a bullet or two.
Disgust crawls up my spine and drags nails along
the lining of my stomach.
Don't eat that, it's poison.
Rejection becomes my immediate releif.
Family and friends can't help but worry
Eyes flicker to the length of my waist,
voices question my weight when I'm lifted
the subtle stare at how my bones scream against snowy skin.
I don't blame them or the rumors;
I know I am skinny, and I know am empty.
I just don't want to eat anymore...
I am so sorry for that.
(Am I supposed to be sorry for that?)

Pill two.
Don't ask me if I got any sleep.
The answer will always be "no", or "not enough."
I was diagnosed two years ago with insomnia.
You don't know what suffering is until
you can't ******* sleep.
I didn't think it was that bad,
boy, I must've been related to ignorance.
It's torture watching the world never press pause.
My record is six nights and seven days, almost a full week
Caged myself in because my thoughts
were killers for freedom.
Why can't I sleep?
Here's the catch though;
I don't like sleep either.
No comfort calls your name,
not when you can remember every dream you've had since
the year 2009.
I don't have happy dreams, for those of you that do not know.
They call this disease hyper-realistic dreaming,
it's something my doctor hesitates to openly discuss.
(They don't have the answers to my mother's panicked questions or my father's accusing glare.)
They're terrified of the unknown too.
The concept of dreaming in such detail,
of every person place or thing
isn't exactly treatable
Fun fact:
I talk to the dead sometimes.
You know, people who have passed away.
They tell me it's the regrets that ******* you behind your back.
Hyper-realistic dreaming is absolute madness.
Pretty sure wonderland doesn't look any different than
the waking realm.
The word nightmare,
yeah, I don't like using it.
It visits whether I'm awake or not.
Doesn't make a ******* difference.
But the doctors only care about my insomnia.
Figures, I mean.
"It's just a sleeping sickness, strong medication should fix it."
Liar.
Rest has become a form of torture for me.
I'm sorry for whatever I did to deserve this.

Pill three.
Speaking of torture,
I own 19 scars that I never asked for.
My father is responsible for 18 of these scars.
Abuse is just a 5 letter word.
Funny how death sits lightly in 5 letters.
Pain is just a 4 letter word.
Oh look, so does life.
I've been waiting for salvation but I know I'm not worthy.
My father is the root of my depression.
I am his flawed design and greatest disappointment.
"YOU *******----"
hands crash into my lungs
nails engrave wounds like some sick reminder
you don't need to remind me
I already know what I've done wrong
please dad, don't hit me

Yet instantly I hit the floor harder than any stone does.
I cry quietly, forcing the sobs to talk the language of silence.
If he knows I'm suffering it'll only make it worse.
Praise is something that does not pass his lips.
"You're ******* worthless, you ugly girl."
Insults act like vultures that never quite leave our house.
"You stupid blonde *****, DO IT RIGHT."
My grades weren't high enough to please his highness.
(I had a 3.975 GPA this semester.)
"I can't wait to watch you fail."
A disgusting disgrace of a daughter that's never going to fill the shoes of "enough."
There are so many times where I have been punished for
my "crimes",
kicked, beaten, scratched, sliced, man-handled, hit, and bruised..
I don't think it's fair to name the rest.
It's all an act of order to obtain my obedience.
The secrets within these walls sneer at me~~
~~how unfortunate that our walls are white.
You see blood is a hard stain to remove and red likes
to leave the ghost of orange upon the white paint.
I don't think you understand,
that this has been happening ever since I was his little 7 year old.
Or, you know, maybe longer.
Oblivion flew south and reality crawled in long ago.
You can't just chase reality out,
she's a force of nature that takes the life out of all of us.
I have been a victim to my father for as long as I can remember.
An example of the cycle of abuse continues tonight;
Tonight my father told me,
"I wish you were dead."
That can be arranged, dad.
You don't know pathetic until you've seen me lying there
after the aftermath that was my most recent "mistake",
clutching the ground like maybe if I pretended enough
it would hold me.
They tell me it's just the alcohol talking.
That all of this was his own father's doing.
My dad had it "so much worse."
I'm sorry your father hurt you, dad
I'm sorry you feel like you have to hurt me.


Pill four.
My wounds make their homes beneath my heart,
six inches to left, furrowing downwards.
This is the nerve that throbs in death's long fingers.
False strength will save those who you love.
Good thing I "believed" I was strong.
It's a ******* joke.
I'm not strong.
I am a white angel dressed in lies.
Yet there I was;
Standing with perfect posture as the universe
and my friends stacked their troubles
up my trembling shoulders and back.
Nicknames spilled off their tongues,
I was proud of these titles that I don't actually deserve.
I am the psychiatrist.
The Healer.
The Caretaker.
The Mother
The Saint
The Kind Maiden
The Helper
The Keeper of the Dragons
The Poet of the Wolves
The Moon Warrior
The moonlight weeping through the willow branches;
The Person Who Fixes Everything
The Wise Guardian Angel.
How couldn't they notice I was nothing divine.
Plucking them from the coffins of depression and despair
that they laid themselves to rest in.
It is no easy task.
And sometimes this means their words are
the gashes to glide down my arms and sides,
blood making the puddles at my feet.
Physical pain is bearable when it's for them.
Again we revisit the word
"Abuse."
As they are humans and they practice this sin
upon me.
I accept the harm with no self-defense.
Because I was cursed to love them.
Even the ones,
that reek desolation upon my soul.
They have all gone for the **** before.
You can take it out on me,
I will balance your burdens.
"Let me help you..."
I'm sorry you're hurting, I'm here for you
I'm sorry I became like this?
(I definitely am not supposed to apologize for that.)


Pill Five.
I have a past lover, she is my Wolf Girl.
I have learned to love her like ambrosia in a bottle.
It doesn't matter that I am no longer her lover...
She is and always will be my best friend.
We once talked about our friendship like a legend.
One man that went off to war,
and how he left his loyal dog behind.
The loyal dog waited for his master until the man returned from service and suffering;
the dog's love never swayed.
For many years they remained apart and alone
paths refusing to entertwine,
but once reunited they picked their relationship up and continued like nothing had ever separated them to begin with.
We never decided who the dog or the man was.
But we both have always known.

I hold her responsible for saving me, and uncovering
the remains of a silver child.
She ripped my heart open to expose the stitches and raw emotion;
below my feet sung the wolves,
along my collarbone perched the stars.
The moon basked in my skin when she told me,
You are beautiful.
I knew she was lying but I still forced those words down my throat,
swallowing the growing flame of black lies.
To this day I will never forget,
even if she has forgotten.
I don't see a reason to hurt, I knew I was unworthy to begin with.
Sifting through a jar of ashes I found our memories,
the day we first met, first became best friends...
She was the wolf and wasn't afraid to bite the hand that fed her.
That was how she taught me to survive,
Trust me when I say I learned more than just survival.
Casting a glance at the past 5 years I recall
what the value of strength was.
She lent me her own,
~so I bargained my way to the heavens~
a prayer for the day I would become a goddess of divinity-------
---- I found out Naïve was my middle name.
The demons found me and I had no fangs to sharpen,
so they tied me to a willow tree.
There I was possessed, and hung by my wrists,
humiliation and weakling branded into my ankles.
"This is how we put dreamers in their place!"
Is what the shadows screamed in octaves of smoke.
And that was how my wolf girl found me,
hanging and half-alive in my favorite crying tree.
She....
She laughed with sunlight flashing in crystal teeth.
Before plunging vicious knives into my stomach.
Until the  words gouged at places hidden beneath tender poetic flesh...
My screams never reached another living soul.
Dragging open my belly to reveal what innocence I had left,
I watched as poison caught fire to her words;
I was annoying
I was clingy
I was loud, unaware, and
oblivious.
I loved the same she had loved
stolen the moon from her nightless sky without realization
and caused heartbreak and spread disease in her wake
she knew what the demons did~~~

"And yet you loved every second of it, didn't you Lycan?"
~~~~
I know, I know
all of that was so long ago, yet I cannot help myself.
I don't hang from trees anymore,
and I don't talk to wolves in sheep skins any longer.
That doesn't stop me though;
The questions slither into my palms and onto the page
where navy ink scratches letters
into rotten white paper;
Like snakes in the tomb of my heart.
"Why did you save me?"
"Why didn't you save me when I needed you most?"
"Oh wait, right, you never had to..."
"What love could you possibly harbor
for me?"
"Did you ever love me?"
"No, probably not."
"Will it ever be okay again?"
"Why didn't you let me in when you needed me?"
"Was it worth it?  Jack I mean...was he worth it?"
"Was it worth those seven months?"
"You're more than lust."
"Did your sins finally catch you, Lycan?"
Wolves find glory in preying upon the weaker species.
You knew I was weak from day one.
"Why didn't you **** me when you had the chance?"
I'm sorry I defiled you.
Apologies that you went to the trouble of teaching me the hard way.

And finally,
I'm sorry that I dared to love you, Allie.


Pill six.
Let me put it in simple terms;
I hate myself.
I have come back from the brink of death for the thousandth time,
and I'm so sick of it.
My mind is a battlefield of depression and
I am no match for the darkness that borderline feasts on my soul.
They never left after they hung me pretty in that tree.
Thoughts that take my life piece by piece like casualties in war.
No, you don't understand.
I am beyond saving.
I have been,

for a very long time.
No matter how long I look into a mirror
I cannot find a trace of beautiful.
The glass doesn't bother lying to me, not anymore...
That's how I know all of you are lying to me.
I have let the insanity slide a dagger into my spine
ripping a **** upwards to my neck.
This is where bone touches the air and I don't recover.
R e l l a p s e
I hate everything about myself,
what I have become,
wallowing in the pity because I am far too tired;
to swim, to try, to leave.
I descend into the black sea of ink that
I bathe myself in every hour to keep from feeling agony.
As a poet, it's the only title I hold onto with an ounce of pride.
Among the fields of grief I lay in my oaken coffin
pathetic words snaking into my mind
betrayal chewing at my insides,
memories play hide and seek between lost and broken treasures.
There is nothing left.
Not anymore.
And never again.
What more can I give when the nightfall erases me?
How much longer must I endure
my punishment for being human?
I was never mighty but
my how I've fallen.


"Are you okay?"
Don't think, just lie.
"How are you feeling?"
Lie faster.
"Oh my god, what happened?"
Lie for their sake.
"How are you?"
Whatever you do
"What's wrong?"
Just lie
"You seem kinda off today..."
If you tell them it's all over.
"Kira, are you alright?"
Lie until the truth becomes one.
"Seriously, you're...you're sure you're alright?"
You can't let that monster out, she'll destroy whatever you love left.
"Are you lying?"
"I'm so...so sorry everyone.
I'm sorry
I'm sorry
I'm......s--"


I forgot to mention I have pills to take now.
For my insomnia, way back up in pill two up there...
Special pills that play roulette with the grim reaper.


Instructios:
"Kira, take only one pill at a time.  Please make sure to count if you swallow several at once.  These pills are very dangerous, potentially deadly if not consumed correctly."
"Alright."
"Take one pill, and if you can't fall asleep in an hour wait til tomorrow night to take two.  If that doesn't work, then the next night take three, and then four.  Do you understand?"
"Yes."
"Kira, please be cautious if you take five. I cannot stress enough how much I want you to be careful, it could damage your internal organs. It's like asking for a light coma, for 20 hours you'll be asleep."
"Okay."
"And Kira...whatever you do... NEVER take six pills.   You won't wake up after that.    Promise me you'll never take six...
"I promise Dr. Cline."
Well, I lied.  Shocker, right?
I am so terribly sorry that I cannot keep my promise...

One
Two
Three
Four
Five...
Only....Six
that's all it takes.





I'm sorry is the only signature I leave on my suicide note.
...
.


I couldn't keep this in,
it's not poetry it's a rant.
Apologies for my confession....


But it's over now.

— The End —