This is a story I wrote over a week like 8 months ago. Please give feedback! If you don't want to read it on the forums, you can read it here:
LIFE, DEATH, MYSTIC, MISERY, AND HOPE
I run through the dark forest, feeling the earth, cold, and hard on my sensitive pads. The snow is white and glistening and beautiful. As I run, the howls of wolves echo in my ears, ghosts of my past. I have always been haunted by long dead wolves, swirling around me like snowflakes in a storm. As I reach the river, I dip my large head down to the water and lap my tongue, feeling the sweet, pure liquid run down my throat. As I lift my head I howl, a long, pure note that soars through the forest like an eagle, alerting any creatures within the radius of a mile. The water flows into my veins, energizing me for the task ahead. I turn tail and run, with a heavy heart, back to my small den. As if taunting me, I see a small shape, seemingly made of mist, appear in front of me. It is my only pup. He had died only this morning, of starvation. How sad it was, for just later this morning, I happened upon the carcass of a deer, dead only for maybe a day. If my pup had held on for a few more hours, he could have lived. Now I must bury him. As I reach my den, I crawl into the dark recesses of the little hollow, searching. When I find the small mound of dirt, I dig in the hard packed earth, unearthing the little, limp body of the pup. I carry him outside and bury him next to a towering oak tree, so that he, in death, will help the tree grow. After the task is done, I walk East, not looking back, for that is the way of the wild wolf.
As I walk, I take in the leaves on the trees, the ones that are turning yellow-red and falling to the ground as if dancing. When I reach the borders of my territory, I start to run, my legs pumping, pushing against the ground to propel me forward. I don’t know why I’m running, probably to escape from the pain, the hurt, of this place. I will find a new home, somewhere in a valley. But as I think that, the misty outline of a wolf appears in front of me, just out of my reach. It growls at me, and in my mind I hear it speak, “You know your thoughts are just delusions, give up and die. For what it’s worth, you know you will never find a new territory.” I try not to pay attention to its words, but they dig in to my brain like maggots, not going away, but placing a nagging doubt in my mind. “What if it’s right?” I think as I run. The forest flashes by, showing me glimpses of deer and elk grazing, looking up as I pass, then going back to eating as they realize that I am no threat.
I run for at least half a day, before stopping to hunt. I put my great nose to the ground, sniffing for prey. I smell many deer, and follow the sent. I am looking for pellets, the small droppings of deer. By the look of the footprints and the smell of the pellets, this group is composed of mostly young males and three females. I search for the sweet, milky sent of a fawn, as they are easy prey. I don’t smell any prey, but I do see a female, her belly heavy with unborn young. As I creep closer, I concentrate on the direction of the wind, the sound my feet make on the earth, and the cover of the forest. The female is in a clearing, lying in a patch of soft moss. I creep closer, ever closer. When I am eight yards away, I strike. The deer, surprised, is slow to get up, and I bite her in the side as she turns. The sweet, salty blood fills my mouth and its scent fills my nasal cavity. I tear myself free, and with me, a mouthful of soft skin. As the deer races away, she is slowed by the weight of her offspring and the wound that is now pouring blood. I take my time, knowing that it will not be wise to tire myself out, for I am on another wolf’s territory, and whoever is living here will not take kindly to strangers.
After eating, I leave the wolf’s territory and venture out again, the sad howls of the dead following me. I am not afraid of death, as most are. I do not fear that blackness, that ending of pain. I think it has something to do with me being surrounded by spirits. My name is Makui, which, in the language of wolves, means Death. My father died before I was born, and my mother soon after. I named myself, and also taught myself to live and survive on my own. I had a mate once, it seems so long ago, but really it was only a few nights. I had only one pup with him, but that pup died before I could name him. He was the one I buried before leaving. My mate left one night to hunt, and I never saw him again. I followed his scent trail, but at the end of it there was no sign of a struggle, just the smell of my mate. I howled for him, but never got an answer. I think about these things as I run, thinking that I will never take a mate again. They bring too much pain. Even though I do not fear death, I do fear the death of the ones I love, for I do not believe in an afterlife, at least not a pleasant one. I don’t know if these ghosts that I see are real, or if they are just my manifestation of memories. As I think about them, I seem to hear a voice that sounds like the wind.
“Makui. Makui. You must find a new territory. It is your only chance. You doubt our existence, yet we are real. In fact, some of us are plotting to kill you. They think you know too much. Listen, I don’t have much time before they catch me. We are called the Heelah, which means “searchers.” You are right in the thought that we are dead, but this is not a good afterlife. We are always hungrily searching for the portals back into life, but they are few and far between. You must make sure that we do not find them, for we are always looking for revenge in life. Bye, Makui, I must leave.”
I stand there, stunned, for what seems like a sun. Eventually, I shake myself and wander off in a daze. I reach a river and lean down to lap, hoping it will clear my mind. Instead, I see the reflection of deep brown eyes that look insane, and a large, strong muzzle that lifts and shows off sharp white teeth. It takes me a moment to realize that I am looking at a reflection of myself. After I realize that, I calm down a bit. I am amazed that my pup looked so much like me, and that makes me miss him even more. I feel exhausted, as well I should. I have been running and not gotten much rest, and have also hunted a deer. I let myself collapse onto my stomach and close my eyes. As the sun hits my back, I close my eyes and fall asleep.
When I wake, the light is pale and bright, so I know that it must be morning. As I raise my head to sniff the air, I catch the scent of a strange wolf. This scent seems to have something… odd about it, but I can’t place it. I decide to ignore it and move on.
As the day progresses, I keep smelling the strange wolf’s scent. I think that this wolf is a loner because I did not smell any scent markings like the ones used to mark territory. I wander for about an hour before I hear a strange noise up ahead. The view is blocked by two large bushes, so I creep closer and look to see what is going on. There is a wolf in the clearing, a large male, and he is talking to himself as if insane. He must have scented me, or maybe spotted me, because he soon spins around and snarls. Not knowing what to do, I back away slowly. He jumps after me. Knowing that I have no chance at fighting such a large and powerful wolf, I turn tail and run. He runs after me, snarling. I can just make out the words he is saying. “ REVENGE! I must have Revenge!”
As I hear that, I run even faster, for his strange scent and behavior suddenly make perfect sense. He is one of the Heelah! I concentrate all my energy into getting away from him, but he never seems to tire. Eventually, I come to the edge of the forest where there is a grassland littered with rabbit holes. As I run, I trip over a large mound of earth. A badger’s set! Quickly I turn and look for the opening-a small hole just big enough for me to fit in. I crawl inside, trying to ignore the stench of badger. I hear the Heelah wolf sniffing outside, and then growling and biting at the entrance. After a very long while, he gives up and walks away. I wait an extra two hours in the cramped, stuffy space to make sure that he has gone, then slowly extract myself from the set. I run far, far away from that place, hoping never to have a repeat of that incident. When I finally settle down for the night, a wolf speaks to me in my dreams. I am pretty sure he is the one who told me about the Heelah, and he proves it by speaking. “I presume you recognize me from before?”
In real life, his voice was very growly, but in the dream it is a softer cadence.
“You did well, not getting killed by that male. He is one of the first wolves in many years to find the portal, and you saw firsthand what the need for revenge can do. My name is Mhay, which means “The Grey One.” I am one of the few Heelah wolves who do not search for a portal, and instead try to warn wolves like you and try to get you to help.”
“What can I do?” I ask bitterly, “I’m a young, weak she-wolf that no wolf cares about!”
“There is where you are wrong,” says Mhay. “You have a great destiny, though you don’t know it yet. I must leave now. You will find a gift when you wake up. Do NOT say my name out loud, for there may be spies watching.”
With that, he vanished into vapor, and I wake with a start.
As I blinked open my eyes, I vaguely remember having a dream. A name flashes in my mind. Mhay! I almost say the name out loud, to feel it in my throat, but then I remember a warning, and stop myself. I do not remember anything else of my dream. When I take notice of my surroundings, I realize that I am in the middle of a large clearing, and, inexplicably, there is a dead stag lying at the edge of the trees. For some reason, nothing has eaten it yet. I walk over to it and sniff it curiously. Nothing seems to be wrong with it, so I tear into its belly. As I gulp down hunks of flesh, I feel energy coursing through me, giving me vigor to keep on going. I leave the deer reluctantly, for I know that I won’t come across a find as lucky as this for quite a while, if ever. I will keep on traveling until I find a good place to settle down. As I travel wearily onward, I smell another wolf, but this one is not odd like the other one was. I can tell by its scent that it is a young male, alone. I track the scent until I find it’s origin. He is a young, strong male with gray fur streaked with red and brown. He is sleeping in a well-hidden spot, but I can sniff him out. As I stand there, not knowing what to do, the unwelcome voice of a Heelah wolf growls in my mind. “Don’t trust him, he’ll kill you at the first opportunity.” At the same time, I hear another voice, this one familiar. “Don’t listen to that Heelah. Meet this wolf. Trust him,” Mhay says. For some reason that I don’t know, I listen to Mhay, and find myself walking, as if in a trance, up to the stranger. I growl at him to wake him up from his sleep. He wakes instantly, and swings around in the blink of an eye. “Who are you?” He growls, his voice threatening.
“I’m Makui.” I say.
“Death? What a strange name.”
“I chose it myself.”
“This might sound crazy, but…well, I hear and see dead wolves.” I say quickly.
For a moment the young wolf seems to be startled, then he regains his composure.
“Yes. Trust me.”
He studies me for a long time before nodding.
“I do trust you. Therefore, I will tell you my name. I am called Mitix.”
“Life?” I say, half laughing, half doubting.
“Yes. I marveled at that myself. You Death, me Life.”
“Would you like to travel with me? Two wolves are more useful then one.”
“Let me ask you a question first. Have you received any…messages from these dead wolves?”
“Yes! They call themselves the Heelah.”
“The Heelah? I see them too.”
“I thought that I was the only one.”
Together, as if choreographed, we both turn South and start running, me leading, him behind.
I like Makui. I think she is smart and kind, too. What she has told me about her life seems similar to mine. Our parents both died, though mine named me Mitix. I never told them I could see dead wolves, for I knew they would think it was nonsense and stories. Just recently, I began having dreams about these wolves, and one wolf named Mhay told me about them and their name, Heelah. I have a feeling that Makui and I have been chosen for something, though I don’t know what yet. It also seems too much of a coincidence that my name is Life and hers is Death. I hope that is not a bad omen for her.
It is nice to have another wolf keep me company, especially because we both know about the Heelah. Mitix told me he doesn’t know why we are the only wolves chosen by the Heelah wolves, but I think I know why. I think that we have been chosen to stop all the Heelah entering the world, for that would cause chaos and destruction. We must stop the portals from opening, and battle any wolves that emerge from them. I have a feeling we will have to help each other and not fight or break apart from each other.
We travel for a day before stopping to rest and feed. We picked a large valley that was filled with trees and deer, and had a lake in the middle. The hunting was easy, and Mitix and I fed until our sides were bursting. We then went back to our “den”, the little cave we had picked for a day, and lay down to sleep. Just as I was about to drift off into Heelahland, Mitix’s voice woke me. “Why don’t we stay here forever? We would never have to worry about the Heelah, we could raise a pack and be happy.”
I was sorely tempted to say yes, to forget about all my troubles, to stay here with Mitix forever, but something stopped me. It was the image of my pup, returning as a Heelah and trying to kill me. I couldn’t let that happen. “No. We have to keep on going. We can be happy afterwards.” The words are nearly painful, they are so hard to get out.
After that, it is hard for me to sleep. I put my head down on my paws and breathe even and deep, but nothing works. Finally, I drift off into a dreamless half sleep that, when I wake, leaves me more tired then before.
We set off at dawn the next morning, our senses alert, ears pricked for any unusual or strange sounds. As we run together, the cold air bites at my eyes and nose, making them run. At one point, Mitix asks, “Where are we going?”
“I don’t know,” I respond. We keep on running in silence. About an hour later, we are trotting on the dry ground at the edge of a forest, overlooking a cliff. I pay no mind to the dryness of the earth, until I reach an especially arid spot and my paws seem to slip out from under me, throwing me onto my side and making me slide towards the cliff edge. I hear Mitix turn and race after me, but I am speeding up. I manage to turn my head in the direction of the cliff and see it rushing towards me, growing closer. I close my eyes and pray that Mitix will reach me in time. My eyes flicker open for a second, and I see the cliff edge, only feet away. I resign myself to death, looking forward to seeing my pup again.
I hear a cry, and turn around. I see Makui rushing towards the cliff, and spring forward, but she seems to speed up and is now rushing towards the edge. I push myself to run faster, and I speed up. I see that I must speed up again, or Makui will disappear forever. I make a last desperate spring, and feel the soft gray fur of Makui’s ruff in my jaws. By digging into the ground, I manage to stop her. I look at the edge. It is six inches or less away. I nuzzle Makui’s muzzle, and realize how lucky she is. I then gently nudge her in the rump, to propel her upwards towards safer ground. As we enter the cover of the trees, I feel her shaking, and press close to her, comforting her with my body heat. As the minutes pass, her shaking slows, then stops. I ask her if she is ready to move on, and she just nods, seemingly incapable of speech. We walk in silence for a while, then she speaks. “Just before you caught me, I saw my pup. He seemed to be inviting, or beckoning me.” Her voice is rusty, as if she has not spoken for a long time, although it has really been only an hour or two. She speaks again, this time with fear in her voice.
“I fell because I slipped, yet it seems like someone or something pushed me, or helped me to trip.” I wonder at this for a few moments before answering. “Do you think it’s the Heelah?”
“Yes. I think that they are getting closer to the world, closer to a portal.”
I don’t know why the experience at the cliff traumatized me so much. I think it was because of the realization that the Heelah wolves are getting closer to us. As Mitix and I lay down for the night, I find it hard to get to sleep. I try to console myself with the fact that sleep will do me good. I must keep my energy up. Eventually, I fall into an uneasy sleep that is interrupted by the image of a large gray wolf. Mhay. I wonder what message he has for me this time. “Makui, this is the last time I will be able to speak with you, because the portals are opening and with them any contact with the living world is erased. I am going to tell you why there are Heelah wolves in the first place. You see, Heelah are wolves that have done wrong in their life. Some Heelah, like me, forgive their sins and become sort of like scholars, helping the wolves of the world understand about Heelah, and, if necessary, to fight them. We have contacted four members of the living to help this time. Mitix is one. You are one. Another is in the South, and the last one is in the East. You will know when you have reached them. After you have found them, head West, for that is where the Portal will open. The Portal is not like the smaller portals. It is huge, and all the Heelah are called towards it. Only some will reach it, but that is a substantial number of at least forty. When we are brought into life through the Portal, we must kill a living wolf to become reborn. We also have a weak spot. On our back is a ridge of bone. Bite that, and our souls will instantly cease to exist.”
“It is your task, Makui, to lead your small group to the Portal, where you must find a way to defeat all the Heelah and close the Portal forever. Good luck, and goodbye.”
I sink back into the dark, dreamless sleepscape that is so often in my mind when I sleep.
When I wake up the next morning, I remember my dream and tell Mitix about it. He agrees that we must go South as soon as possible. We head out that same morning, as soon as we eat our meal for the next day or two, a fawn that Mitix brought down. We head East, skirting the edge of the cliff where I nearly plummeted off a one thousand foot drop. It is now late October, and the leaves on the trees are all yellow or red or orange, and the occasional golden. The leaves pile up into mounds a foot high, then blow away in the wind. It creates an ever changing, moving landscape that is very beautiful. For a moment, the leaves form a shape of what looks like a wolf, and then is destroyed by the wind. I stare at the spot where it appeared, wondering if it is a Heelah wolf. I then shake myself, telling myself that I am being too paranoid.
A day later, we are in a sparse forest when Mitix and I both put our heads down at the same time, as if smelling a strange smell. We look at each other, and I nod, meaning that this is probably the third wolf that knows about the Heelah. We follow the smell, although it is not really a smell, more of a feeling. The trail ends at a small female wolf that is a peculiar reddish color, who is standing still at the edge of a canyon, looking over the edge. We approach her, and she turns around when we are ten feet away. I stop, looking at her, waiting for her to speak. When it is plain that she is waiting for me to speak, I do. “Hello. I am Makui and this,” I look at Mitix, “is Mitix.”
“What do you want?” she says. Her voice is surprisingly rough for such a small wolf.
“Do you know about a group of dead wolves called the Heelah?” She steps back, surprised.
“How do you know about them?” She asks suspiciously.
“We also see them. Have you been contacted by a large grey wolf with a name that begins with M-H?”
“You mean Mhay?”
“Shhhh! He told us not to speak his name out loud. Has he told you about the Portal?”
“No, what is that?”
Over the next hour we fill her in on all that we have learned, and on our mission. In turn, she tells us about herself. Her name is Mesiri. Like us, her parents died when she was young. She agrees to go with us to find the last wolf and destroy the Portal. We start out West the next morning. She leads us to a carcass that she discovered the day before, and we gorge ourselves. We need more food then a typical wolf does because we are always on the run, resting only slightly. She tells us that she has a stronger the normal sense of hearing, which will come in useful, to find any wolves sneaking up on us. She is sure that the Heelah are malevolent, and are not driven by someone or something controlling them.
When they arrived, I thought they were just another Heelah, another dead, another fake. I have learned since then that they are smart, kind, and funny. I hate the Heelah. I hate them for being dead. I wish I were dead. It would mean an escape from pain, an escape from this world, and an escape from the Heelah. I have contemplated many times arranging an “accident” where I fall off the edge of a cliff, but could never bring myself to do it. Makui and Mitix have brought me out of my suicidal thinking, and taught me to be a proper wolf again. We go hunting together, loping over ridges and hills, following game trails and leaping for elk, deer, and moose. How I wish our prey were the Heelah. Every time I rip into a carcass belly, I imagine it is one of them, and I eat with savagery. I am dying to see a portal, and not as excited to see the Portal, for I feel that forty wolves is a bit much, even if we know their weak spot. I know that Makui feels the same way that our chances are slim.
A day later, we stop to rest in a small gulch. We decide to stay there for the night. That night, I mate with Mitix. I don’t know what drove me to do it, maybe the fact that we have a battle coming up soon, and the chances are that we won’t survive it. I want to have the pleasure of bringing at least one pup into adulthood. When we awake, I notice Mesiri observing us with new interest, and I see that she is almost happy for us. There is something missing though. I don’t know what, but she wants something. The next day, I find out exactly what she wants. We come upon a portal, a small one, albeit, but one nonetheless. As we watch it with interest and fear, a shape starts spiraling in its depths. A wolf comes out, and before either Mitix or I can do anything, Mesiri lunges for it and snaps at a raised ridge of rough bone on it’s back. The Heelah wolf collapsed, and Mesiri stands over it in triumph as it melts into mist as dissipates. “I’ve always wanted to do that!” Mitix and I stare at her in awe. We never knew she could be that ferocious. “What are you staring at?” She says indignantly. “Surprised I’m not a weakling?”
“No!” We both say at the same time. “How long have you wanted to do that for?” I ask. “Oh, for about two years. I hate them.”
“They seem so…cruel.”
“I can see their minds. They think, but not exactly coherently. It is more of, “LIGHT! REVENGE! HUNGER!”
We look at her. “Have you always been able to read minds?” I ask curiously.
“Not exactly “read” them per se, but more feel thoughts and emotions from the Heelah. I can’t do it for living wolves.” She smiles as she says it, as if it is no big deal, but we are speechless. I take Mitix under the cover of a tree and whisper to him, “Do you think we also have powers like that?”
“I don’t know, Makui.”
I wander away, thinking. If all four of our group developed some type of power, we might have a chance against the Heelah. Mesiri walks over, apparently having pranced around enough to become sane again. She suggests that we should keep moving, not staying near this portal for too long. I agree. We call Mitix over and I put my nose in the air and begin to howl. First Mitix joins me, and then, with only a second of hesitation, Mesiri. Our noses almost touching, we howl our feelings to the sky and the stars. We then break off one by one and trot East.
A week later, we enter the Eastern mountains. They are cold, and filled with snow, even in the fall. It is here that we find the smell. Mitix smells it first, then me, then Mesiri. We are all trotting, noses to the ground, in a straight line. When we get close, we all sneak behind a rock, so as to not alert whoever is standing on the other side. I peek out. The wolf we have come for is a large male, brown with streaks of gray in his pelt. Before we even reveal ourselves, he turns and says, “I can smell you, you know.” We step out from behind the rock. “We weren’t trying to hunt you.”
“Then what were you trying to do?”
“You see the Heelah.” I say it as a statement, not a question. He steps back in surprise, but recovers quickly. “So what if I do?”
“My friends and I also see them.” I say, indicating Mesiri and Mitix.
“What do you want?” He says, his tone no longer threatening.
“I want you to join us.”
“Join you in what?”
“We are trying to stop the Heelah entering the world through the Portal, a huge portal that will summon Heelah to it, at least forty of them. We know about the Heelah, and feel that we have a pretty good chance.” That last part wasn’t really true, but I have to stretch the truth sometimes. He agrees to join us, and only then tells us his name. He is called Mysio. We tell him everything we have learned, and with his constant questions, it takes over two hours. When we finish, he sits back on his haunches, looking dazed. He then gets up and says enthusiastically, “Let’s head West!”
As we get closer to the Portal, we begin to see small portals in greater numbers. Today, we have not seen any…yet. A few hours after noon, we do see one. We stand watching it, when suddenly Mesiri says, “Do you think any Heelah will come out?” She sounds excited.
“I hope not,” I say.
But as I speak, the shape of a wolf appears in the deep blue center of the portal. As it gets closer, it separates into three wolf shapes. To Mitix I say, “Let’s take the one on the left.” I assign Mesiri to take the one in the middle and Mysio to the one on the right. When they emerge, we spring from the bushes and attack. The next few minutes are a blur of claws and teeth. I lunge at our Heelah’s back and snap my teeth. It dodges and snaps at my throat, but misses by a whisker. Then Mesiri leaps in, apparently having dispatched hers already. She jumps and bites at the same time, to confuse and surprise the Heelah. She catches its paw in her mouth, causing it to tumble over onto its stomach. Before it has time to respond, I run and bite it’s back. I feel a ridge of bone crack under my teeth, not the spine, but something else, something that living wolves don’t have. The strong body goes limp beneath me, and I untangle myself from the embrace of death. As I survey the battleground, I see three dead Heelah wolves and four uninjured normal wolves. Mesiri is running laps around the clearing, as if she was a pup. I am convinced that she is crazy or the Heelah did something really bad to her and she enjoys killing them.
The Heelah have hurt me. If not physically, then emotionally. They have always been whispering in my ear, whispering discouragement and things that make me lose morale. They especially did this after the death of my parents. They are part of the reason I so often considered suicide. That is why I like to kill them, like to taste their blood on my tongue, like to hear bones snapping, bodies going limp. I know I always act like an excited pup when I kill one, but it is so satisfying, so…well, it’s almost hilarious when they die. I can’t wait for the Portal, when we get to fight them all.
I look brave on the surface, but really, I’m a coward. I’m not like Mesiri or Mitix or Makui. I don’t like battle. It doesn’t give me a thrill, but rather terrifies me. My contacts with the Heelah have been infrequent, but have come more recently. I have often been visited by a Heelah named Mhay. He is nice and gives me encouragement. Lately, he has told me I have the power to see glimpses of the future. I have tried many times, but all I get for my efforts are nothing. No images, no signs.
I feel the weight of pregnancy in my belly and know that I am carrying a pup, maybe more. I don’t tell the others, although I will have to soon. They will start to ask why I am slower then usual. For a time, we travel West, then we stop. Mysio has heard from Mhay that this is where we should stay, at least for a while. We are sure that the Portal is around here somewhere, so go out in groups of two to scout the area. Mitix and I, Mesiri and Mysio. We trot off in opposite directions, searching for the Portal.
When I look at the drifts of leaves on the forest floor, they form large, swirling circles. Some of the circles are tinged with blue. The leaves seem to me like a sign of some sort, like the ones that Mhay had talked about. I told the others, and they believed me and decided to search the area. I have a feeling that we won’t find it, but there is no harm in searching. We may find something interesting.
That night, I get a dream from Mhay. He greets me, then tells me that I was correct when I saw the blue circles, that they are signs of the Portal. After that, he says something completely unexpected.
“You think you are a coward, but actually you are brave. In many ways, your gift to see into the future proves that you are not a coward.”
He leaves then, and I muse over what he said.
We go through the forest at a brisk run, looking and sniffing for any sign of the Portal. As we run, I say to Mitix, “Do you think we’ll find it?”
“I don’t know,” he says, sounding frustrated.
After two hours of searching and finding nothing, we return to the rendezvous site, where we agreed to meet the others. When they are late to return, we go to look for them. We see them as they are coming through a thicket of pines, and run up to them. “Why are you late?” I ask. It was Mesiri who responded. “We found something. Not the Portal, but something else. Want to see?” She says. She says it all very quickly, and very excitedly.
“Okay, I’ll come,” I say.
“Me too,” says Mitix.
Mesiri leads us on a trail that only she, and maybe Mysio, can see. It ends at the top of a ridge overlooking a grassy valley. In the valley are square things with pointy tops. As I watch, a tall, thin thing emerges from one of them. They are dens! The creature takes a pelt from a hook on the side of his den and puts it through his forelegs, then around his back so that it envelops him. Then he picks up a long, curved piece of wood and fits a thin stick with a point on top of it into a string. He then walks over to a field, which has strange lines and bumps in it, and proceeds to draw back the string and release, sending the slender stick flying away to thud into the center of a round piece of wood with circular markings on it thirty yards away.
“What is it?” I whisper, amazed.
“Man,” says Mysio.
“Are they animals?”
“What are those sticks for?”
“Hunting. They are very sharp.” I imagine the stick flying into the side of a deer, the animal staggering and then falling.
We file away silently, thinking. When we get back to our little den that we found, Mysio looks at all of us in turn and asks a question, “Should we stay here until the Portal appears?”
“How would we know when it appears?” asks Mitix.
“Mhay said I would know.” We had agreed earlier this week that it was fine to say Mhay’s name because we will see more Heelah no matter what we do.
We all agree to stay here to rest and strengthen ourselves for the battle ahead. They agree even more when I tell them that I am going to have pups.
Another week passes. Mysio has taken up the habit of searching the area for the Portal every day, as he has confirmed that the Portal is, or will be, here. This time, when he comes back, I lift my head back and howl, a sign to the others that it is time to hunt. We trot off in a straight line, noses to the ground. Soon, Mitix smells an elk. We follow the scent to its source, an adult male with velvet on its antlers. Mesiri and Mysio go on one side of it, and Mitix and I to the other. When we are in position, Mitix and I both leap out of our bush, snarling. We scare the deer to start running away from us, straight into the jaws of Mesiri and Mysio. When the elk falls, we get a feast. We fall on it and rip open its side. The sweet organs and salty muscles run down my throat, settling in my belly and making me full.
After we have eaten our fill, Mitix starts grooming me, licking my muzzle to clean off the blood. I return the favor, nipping and licking at his muzzle and cheeks. We travel back to the den, stomach heavy with meat. When we get there, I walk over to my little patch of moss, which is next to Mitix’s. I lay down, and Mitix also lies down and puts his head on my side. I make a contented growl and let myself fall asleep.
Three weeks later, my pup is born, a beautiful grey-white male. I don’t name him yet, we wolves only name them after two days have passed, to make sure they survive the first moments of life. Only a day after my pup is born, we find the Portal. Mysio returns from searching, panting and nervous. He says that we must follow him. After making sure my pup is in a bed of fluffy moss, we follow, our stomachs fluttering with nervousness for the upcoming battle. As we get closer, I feel the air radiating with power. We approach a large clearing, and look on from the edge. A massive blue spinning vortex is in the center of the clearing, sprouting what looks like blue flames from its side. We all look at each other, and silently nod. We all step into the clearing simultaneously, and face the Portal. I can see Mysio’s legs shaking, but Mitix and Mesiri are standing strong. As if it were waiting for us, which it might have been, a dark mass appears in the swirling blue. As it gets closer, I prepare myself. I go over all the fighting tactics that I’ve learned in my life, and keep my breathing deep and steady. Like some of the portals we saw, the Portal spits out all the Heelah wolves at once. As soon as it deposits the first ‘batch’ of wolves—about ten, we attack. They are better fighters then some of the others we saw, but they are slowed by the snow that had come that morning. The next few minutes are a frenzy of battle. I find myself in front of a large male, reddish in color. I rear onto my hind legs, and a picture of that animal that Mysio called man flashes into my head. That makes me lose my balance for a second, and I am thrown over onto my side. I struggle back to my feet and, snarling, retaliate. I have learned before that the ridge on the back is not the only way to kill a Heelah, just the most effective. I go for his throat, but he is expecting that and jumps aside. I lower my head and charge him like a moose, knocking him over. His existence ends with a flash of sharp, white fangs. There are only three Heelah left from this batch. Mesiri quickly kills one, Mysio one, and the other turns to me. I get onto a log, and, using the extra height it gives me, jump onto the Heelahs back and kill it. We all stand there, relieved at having survived.
“Is that all?” Asks Mesiri, sounding disappointed.
“No.” I say, looking at the Portal. Another mass is growing in its depths. I look at it and growl. Before I know it, they are on us. It is the same amount as last time, ten, but these wolves are more ferocious. They are all larger and fight with more vigor. By the time all their bodies are lying on the ground, we are bleeding from scratches and bites. We all stare at the Portal, waiting. When this mass appears, it is huge, at least twice as big as any before it. When they are here, there are twenty of them, all heavily muscled. I first face a female with white spots. She is large, but is weaker then most of the others. I am fighting her when I suddenly feel a pair of teeth snap at the fur on my legs, missing. I turn to fight my assailant, but he is already dead, at the jaws of Mesiri and Mitix, working as a team. I join them, thinking that it is better to work as a team then to work alone. I look around. Four left. We decide to all take one wolf. I see one already bounding towards me, so I get ready to fight. He is very strong, and overpowers me. I manage to get a bite in on his back leg, but that only seems to make its anger stronger. When he gets his jaws on my throat, I know its over. I stop fighting, letting my tired body fall from his huge jaws, blood running down my chest. I see Mitix run over and kill the large male, then he comes to stand by me. He lies next to me, his body touching mine, and makes strange whimpering noises. “Makui. Not you.” He says. With my last ounce of strength, I speak. “The pup…name him…Minot…name him Hope.” I let my head sink to the ground, exhausted. “I will.” Says Mitix. Knowing this, I let myself sink into blackness, the blood stained snow feeling as soft as moss.
I see the light leave her eyes, those beautiful brown eyes that could dance at a joke or turn stone cold with anger. I howl then, a long, long howl that pours out my grief, my anger. I finally feel how Mesiri feels and want to destroy the Heelah, the Heelah who killed Makui, even though we already have. We travel back to the den, and we bring Makui’s body. I refuse to leave her near that hated Portal.
When we get back to our small den site, I immediately go to my patch of moss and sleep, hoping for a message from Mhay. When a dreamscape appears before me, Mhay is standing there, looking more tired and old then ever.
“Has the Portal closed?” I ask him.
“Yes. After an hour of being open, it closes. It will not appear again for decades.”
“The Heelah. Are they gone?”
“Not all gone, but your pack has reduced our numbers by at least a third. We will not have the strength to open portals for a long time.”
“You can open portals?”
“When enough Heelah come together at once, yes. Just because we create them though, doesn’t mean we’ll find them. They can appear in any part of Heelahland, and it is vast.”
“Did you make the Portal?”
He growls with humor. “We have not the strength to make something of such a size.”
“Then where did it come from?”
“That is one of the great mysteries, is it not?”
He leaves then, disappearing in a swirl of mist.
When I wake, I tell our diminished pack about the information. They seem relieved.
In the days and weeks following Makui’s death, we all grieve greatly, for Makui embodied who we are. She was strong, motivated, and intelligent. Since Makui is not here to suckle Minot, I take up the job. My milk flows when it needs to. Minot is already beginning to look like Makui, down to the way he walks. We will always remember Makui whenever we look at Minot. We plan to live life as normally as possible, considering we are three unrelated wolves and one pup. The prey is abundant in this part of the forest though, and the winter has not been hard on us. We can only hope for more good luck
As I look down from the stars, I see their sleeping bodies and smile. Minot is nuzzling at Mesiri’s side hoping for more milk. Mitix is in the middle of a dream, and his legs and lips are twitching. Mysio is sleeping soundly, probably with Mhay in his dreams. I look at my little pack and know that they will thrive and be happy throughout their whole lives.
Rocco Rinaldi Rose