In case you didn’t know, I self-published two short stories somewhat recently. The old blog used to serve as a repository for my nano and flash fiction pieces, but it’s been awhile since I’ve slipped into the grip of my muse. The following is a snippet from a story I began a little while back that I’ve yet to really sit down and knock out. Sometimes I’m amazed at the blocks that occur between the brain and fingers.
The last beams of sunlight disappeared behind the Minnesota treetops creating a visual cacophony of orange and yellow drowning in a sea of green. I barely had time to enjoy the sight. With the wolf pack surrounding me, herding me, nipping at my heels should I deviate off course, I could scarcely recall the life of Rhiley Marks, Recording Industry Association of America copyright lawyer and rising star – my life before the accident. The life of Riley. The irony of that phrase slapped me in the face like so many of the small branches we encountered on our trek through the thick timber. No, this was far from that life.
How long have the pack and I been running? An hour? A week? My entire life? I couldn’t honestly say. We arrive at a stream leading to a pond a short distance away and the pack pauses to lap the clear water. In the throes of early Spring, clumps of snow and ice still dot the landscape in the places shadows reign. My companions surround me, their paws tamping the soft earth, their claws clacking against the ice. My captors. Clad in their coats of mixed black, grey, and white, they would gladly pounce should I venture an escape in my weakened state. I cup handful after handful of the cold liquid to try quenching my thirst and that’s when the images begin their hit and run.
My oldest, most vivid memory was of speeding along Woodland Avenue and flipping the car before it all went black. How or why it happened, I don’t remember. In fact, nearly everything before that moment is a black hole and many things after are still fairly foggy. Anyway, how long was I unconscious? Sorry, no clue. I recall coming to upside down, held firmly in place by my seatbelt. I unfastened the seatbelt and drove my head into the crumpled roof which still held shards of glass. It’s funny the things you forget in a post-accident haze. Like gravity. Fighting unconsciousness, I crawled through the empty driver’s side window and did my best newborn fawn impersonation as I tried to orient myself. Pain stabbed my skull and pitched me forward into a pine tree. Drawing in a sharp breath I made two realizations: blood was dripping from my head and I wasn’t alone. I probed my skull for the blood source and removed the glass shards as gently as I could and that’s when I saw her. I don’t know what drew her to me – the sound of my car meeting Mother Nature, the scent of fresh blood, or something else. Regardless, the shaggy timber wolf stood motionless about ten feet from me. She didn’t appear threatening or threatened by me. She was simply eyeing me. Sizing me up. Staring into my soul. Her piercing orange eyes were hypnotic. I heard the low growl moments before realizing it wasn’t coming from her, but from behind me. The second wolf took me out at the knees and I fell to the ground with my head making the sharpest impact. As darkness descended upon me, I could hear the vicious snarls and yips of the two wolves fighting over me and thought, So this is how it ends?