Tristan was barely older than a pup when he stumbled across the glen. The wolves were startled from their meal, the boy being upwind and as quiet as he could manage. He had not seen the log that tripped him.

Tristan froze, the wolves eyeing him in that expressionless way wolves do. They hunched over their meal, a doe still mostly intact. Behind him was his father, before him was a hungry pack. Either way he turned, he was vulnerable. Maybe he should expose his belly now and resign to whatever fate the wolves decide for him.

One wolf, the strong female that led the pack, broke from the meal to sniff at Tristan. She walked on her hind legs, her front arms used mostly for running. He closed his eyes, unable to look at the muzzle so close to his face. The wolf smelled of blood and meat and sweat. She smelled wild, like Tristan’s dreams.

“Trixie!” came the booming voice of Tristan’s father. “Where did you stumble to?” There was a threat in his voice that made Tristan’s heart pound. The wolf growled and, to Tristan’s horror, wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

“Trixie!” his father shouted, close enough that he saw his daughter—son—whatever—in the arms of the town monsters.

“What are you doing with my daughter, you bitch?” Tristan’s father shouted. He cocked his shot gun and aimed it at the wolf.

The she-wolf growled. It reminded Tristan of his mother’s lullabies when he was young. She barked twice, and the pack at the doe barked in response.

The pack surrounded Tristan’s father, growling their threats.

“If this is what you choose,” Tristan’s father said, “don’t bother coming home.”

Tristan heard his father’s footsteps retreat into the forest. It did not take long before he disappeared. Only then did he start sobbing. He hugged the she-wolf, and she howled with his sadness. The pack joined the cries, giving the she-wolf’s cry a hint of anticipation. The moon hid itself to give the pack privacy on the initiation of their newest member.

Advertisements