Prologue – Through the Wilds


He awoke with a start. He lay on the floor of a leaf-strewn forest, the pine boughs thick above him, nearly blocking out the stars. His body was naked and cold, almost numb and yet burning. He sat up. Looking over himself, his skin was littered with fresh scars that itched. He rubbed at the puckered skin over his wrist only to see it smooth out, lose its discoloration, the scar vanishing before his eyes.

Flexing his right hand, it seemed not of his own body, like some alien, new thing that didn’t quite fit at the end of his arm. Taking a moment, he realized there were parts all over his body that felt out of sorts with other parts of him, as if these bits and pieces had not always been one.

A breeze rustled the rust colored leaves around him. Autumn. Had he been running for so long? All he could remember was the running away. Not where he’d come from nor where he was going to. Not his name or age or family. No personal thing about himself could he recall. He was trapped in a living nightmare of pain, terror, and endless repetition.

His eyes darted around the forest, trying to discern anything from his surroundings that could answer what his addled memory could not. The woods were thick but the trees did not entirely blot out the sky. Just above him, pieces of a full moon reflected white light into his widening eyes. For a moment, he was mesmerized, the light suddenly washing clean all the corners of his mind, all the dread, the doubt, the anger, the fear.

He let his lids fall shut, hoping to hold in the white light, letting it build in his mind until it churned from a pure white into a glowing pale yellow, harkening back to its source, warming him from the inside. But before he could let the light complete its orbit, taking him back to day, back to a place and time he felt safe and he understood just who and what he was, a single howl split the night open again.

They were back and with that single sound, the previous night’s events ambushed him. Teeth and snapping jaws, drool, hot breath, and blood. So much blood. As the memories of his nightly ritual returned, more joined in the call for the hunt and he remembered what came next. They would surround him, trip him with their extended claws, and he would roll into a ball on the ground. Their collective jaws would snap at him as he fought them off, kicking, punching, screaming, biting and clawing in his own right. He had managed to break a leg or two, wrestle one to the ground, poke out an eye of another, but there was always another to take that one’s place.

And always, the wolves would bite at his flesh, slashing open his back, his side, blooding gushing out of his wounds. He would shriek in pain but finally, they would clamp their jaws around an ankle, an elbow, a wrist. Then shaking their mighty heads, the wolves would tear him literally limb from limb, eating him bit by bit until he lost consciousness. Only to awake whole again. But it always started with the running.

He jumped to his feet, putting the sounds of howling and barking at his back, ready to begin again what was written as the skein of his fate. He took a single step forward but something stayed his other foot. The foot felt odd, like all of his other discombobulated parts, but underneath it, he felt a connection into the earth. Something under his very feet reached up into him, keeping him rooted there. The ground seemed warmer than before, like he’d been running south toward some more temperate land. There was a scent to these trees that roused some wisp of a recognition that sped away with a heavy breeze.

The barking and yipping drew closer and still he could step no further. He lifted his foot up to see what lay underneath, what was impeding his flight, what familiar thing was fighting back his fear. Under the white light of the moon, he saw flecks of mica in the sand that dusted his sole.

Behind him, growls heralded that the wolves had caught up to him. He set his foot back down, twisting the ball of it into the cold sand, feeling its energy feeding him strength. Then, with great deliberation, he turned toward the wolves.

This night, on this ground, he would take one of them with him and have his own feast.

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2 Responses to “Prologue – Through the Wilds”

  1. Great writing! After reading so many good stories by marginal writers I have a renewed appreciation for your skill. It’s so refreshing to know an excellent writer who can tell a great story 🙂

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