To mark the first EVER Koda Post, we have a short story for you.
Dominique WaterSinger Goodall - Author
End of a Life.
I walk my pelt once thick and formerly black marked, along wearily. My ink stained pelt, the colour that had once bled from my ears to my back, down my right foreleg and then down my left hind leg. The black was now flecked with silver, the same hue as the remainder of my body. The once clearly contrasting colours now blurred and their lines indistinct. I sighed as I walked; my golden and blue eyes were dimmed a little with age, white covering them both and making it harder to see. I then panted, tiring quickly as I walked. My dry and cracked pink tongue lolled out over yellowed, dulled teeth.
'I have been lucky...I guess. I am older than most loners make it, and although I never did find another love like my Cuan, I survived for him. I do get lonely though, and hunting is so hard.' My thoughts meandered from topic to topic as my bones cracked. At ten years of age, most wolves would have calmed down, or settled into a pack to enjoy their dotage. But not me, I was stubborn, having met a few wolves here and there through the years, sharing hunting or meals.
For the last two years however, I had suffered with painful joints and blurred eyesight. Since then I had relied more on scavenging food, my never heavy body had lost a further ten pounds, so I now hovered around the skeletal weight of fifty five pounds. No wolves had neared me in a long time, my manner of being quiet having scared them all away. My dry nose brushed against the dry leaves off of the mighty trees which dwarfed my tiny frame. My mind wandered again as I compared the leaves to myself.
'These leaves...dry and aged as I am. No one cares for what happens to them, no one offers them any comfort as they lay being trod under paw. The same will happen to me when my time comes, but at least I will see my Cuan again, and I can apologize to him then. I need to find food soon; my stomach sounds like a starved tiger.' Once, long ago I had observed the large striped felines hunting, a mother with two young cubs. The young cubs were twice the size of the younger me but I had none-the-less followed them and learnt how to hunt in a rudimentary manner.
I had stopped walking and scenting while remembering that day, and the day had fallen into twilight, the birds had stopped singing and started roosting for the night. Suddenly, I heard a deer grunt and though my eyes and nose were failing me, my hearing was still keen. I stood still, in my old hunting pattern, one which made my aged shoulders protest. One dainty, bony paw was lifted and my head tipped to the side as the grunt became a bellow of pain. I frowned, loose skin on my forehead wrinkling slightly. A wave of blood scent hit my nose, and made me lean forward.
I followed the scent, my mismatched orbs unfocused as I shivered a little. I trod on a twig, which snapped under my slight body, but carried on. The deer was a few more feet forward and seemed to have been killed by a pack of wolves, its side opened to the air but no predator was near. The scent of blood, heat and flesh masked any tell-tale scents of just who, or what, had killed this but I shrugged and began to feed when I was close enough. I was engrossed in my food, swallowing lumps of flesh down as quickly as I could. Many times I had been run off a carcass when I had taken the chance to snatch a few needed bites of stomach-filling food.
The first I knew of the creature that had killed the deer I was so eagerly devouring with blunt fangs was a crushing blow to my hind legs, that spun me a full 360 degrees in the opposite direction. A yelp was torn from my muzzle as I landed on my side, blood smearing the leaves where I slid. As I rose onto trembling legs, my right hind-leg lifted clear of the ground and blood pooling underneath me. I stared with incredulous eyes at my attacker. A grizzly bear, standing more than twice my height on all fours was stood there, one viciously clawed paw stained red with blood. Irrevocably, I, small, elderly but still alive, felt rage burn in my veins, pumped around by the rush of adrenaline and pain.
My lips drew back from stained teeth, and a snarl reverberated in my chest. I limped forward, the now thin pelt on my back still managing to rise up in anger. The grizzly roared in response, and rose to all fours, saliva dripping from its lips and splattering the ground. The small beady eyes fixed on something beyond me, and I spun my head around. A foolish mistake to make as the bear took the opportunity to lumber forward and raise a paw to slap my frail body again. A growl transfixed the bear as my narrowed mismatched eyes turned back in its direction. I crouched lower, lopsided, as the growls quietened in my throat, though the fur there thin, the pink skin visible through it
The bear dropped the paw and rested on it, looking like for all the world like it had given up. A small huff sounded from behind me, and I stepped backwards automatically, slipping in the growing pool of blood. As I slipped, the bear rose onto two thick legs, and slammed down the paws on my body, crushing my ribs and spine. Thankfully the pain now faded, the spinal column having been severed. Softer, but still weighty paw steps passed by my muzzle. My mismatched eyes blurring, focused on the cub passing me without a second look.
My breathing paused for a moment, finding little space inside the crushed chest, before carrying on shallowly. Dimly, I noticed a shape in the distance, a young wolf, male by the size of him nearing me. His pitch black pelt and almost russet toned chest reminded me of Cuan, a love that had been torn from my life. The young wolf touched his nose to mine, then moving it to my ear so I could hear his whisper soft voice, deep with hidden meaning.
"Come with me, my love. We can be together now forever. No more being alone for you, the pack and pups are waiting, have been waiting for these nine years for you to join us. I am proud." My heart at those words slowed, slowed, stopped.
My injured body no longer filled with life, my heart having always belonged to just one wolf, had come home, leaving my old and worn body beside the deer carcass and the bear mother and cub feeding, to run alongside my love, to meet the pack I once had punished myself for. I was free in a way I never had been before.
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