I.     No Plan

Her scent steered him 400 miles from soggy, green-infested Oregon to hot, desiccated California. He didn’t plan to travel so far; in fact, he never thought about it at all. As a gray wolf, instinct, wild and fiery, was behind the leg and paw of it, and the unrelenting wheel of it was to find a mate. He came to the end of the scent trail and found her. Or what was her. A heap of blackened bones nestled in soft, gray ash.

His right ear twitched, a quiver in his back haunches. The place smelled like a gigantic bonfire. The land was a morose moonscape: no swaying grass, no rustling, no birds screaming, no insects buzzing, only a deadly silence. When he mistook his heartbeat for a man charging him with a deadly manthing, he scampered to a skeletal bush. The wind blew and ash rose and floated down like a sigh. What now? This was supposed to be it. The end of the road, hills singing with him and her, soon, a pack of their own, their own land to hunt and roam and mark. The Edenic vision had hummed deep in his veins, sparking neural connections, translating into a 25-day trek, 16 miles per day. He had been helped along by his parents telling him it was time to move out. They’d done it in a nice way, a gentle nudge with their snouts, then not so gentle.

He lifted his chin to the smoky sky and split open the terrible silence with a long, mournful howl. A mile away, a yellow lab mindlessly digging a hole in his backyard heard it. It froze, then sprinted to the house, its tail tucked between its legs.

Back in Salem, Oregon, Clive Finley of the Oregon Department of Fish and Game, checked the whereabouts of the wolf, OR-97 (OR for Oregon, the 97th wolf that had been collared), on his computer. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had tranquilized the 90-pound, brown and black male Canis lupus. Clive had the honor of outfitting him with the bright purple GPS collar so its range and daily habits could be studied. “Well, look at you,” said Clive, grinning. OR-97 was turning into a superhero stud for him. The stamina, the willpower, the guts to go all that way to find a mate. Clive could learn a thing or two. Still single, 38 years old, living in a prison-esque apartment, a dusty mattress on the floor, a lone poster of Half Dome pinned with silver tacks on the wall. “You go, guy. Go find your gold in California.”

Any living creature would bolt from this burned-out wasteland. One goodbye glance at the charred bones, and he loped away. It wasn’t that he lacked feelings; sadness filled him, then left him, like a feather whisked away by the wind. Most life, other than human, is lived in the moment, with emotion born from immediate perception. The wolf’s new emotions were 1) the desire to find a mate and 2) a life-or-death need for water. He’d ignored his parched body for the past ten miles, running, loping, darting, dashing, eager to meet his mate, but now his throat burned. He could barely swallow.

One paw after another, legs and lungs, staying clear of man and manthings. He did not know that in a single hour, he would be changed forever.


II.     Encounter

Delicious water molecules nestled in the inner lining of the wolf’s nostrils. Unfortunately, there was a problem: the water smell came from a Farm. The hum deep in his veins included an ear-splitting warning about Farm. His grandpa (OR-13) snuck onto a Farm, and, thinking it was his lucky day, ate the slab of raw cow meat by the chicken coop. The strychnine killed him in 40 agonizing minutes. His grandma (OR-14) met the same fate. A foot trap got Great Grandpa near a barn. His great, great grandpa was snared near a pigsty, the wire around his neck asphyxiated him.

The wolf waited on a hill above the Farm at the tree line. The sun set, and the air was sweet and warm as the shadows stretched across the land. He waited. The lights in the barn flicked on, flicked off. A man walked to the big house. He waited. The crickets sang, the bats flew, owls hooted. Finally, the lights in the house blinked off, and the wolf slunk out of the woods, drawn to the dizzyingly enticing water.

Only water, he told himself as he moved quietly to the metal trough of clean water. He was about to dip his snout in, when barn smells ransacked him. All the generations of wolves in his lineage blared: Don’t go to the barn. But the smells were bewitching, savory scents of horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. He glanced back at the trough. The moonlight shimmered in the water, and that, combined with the ancient wolf voices in his blood, brought him back to the trough, and he voraciously lapped up the cool water, but the barn smells again became a noose around his neck. Don’t go to the barn. He went to the barn. Through the gap in the two big doors, he inhaled a lungful of barn smells and his mind blazed with the possibility of endless meat. The ancient history cried shrilly, piercingly: Don’t go into the barn! And when the ancient history sensed it wasn’t enough, it pummeled the wolf with graphic, violent images of grandma rolling and moaning in agony on the ground, her tongue hanging out, her mouth full of froth.

The wolf skulked back to the water and drank, when something slammed his back. He yanked his head up. A man with a metal manthing, and two German Shepherds, snarling, barking, the man hitting him with the metal manthing, beating his skull, ribs, his left back leg, the dogs barking outrageously, full of gusto. When the man lifted the manthing over his head and before he could swing hard, one final mortal whack, the wolf lunged and bit the man’s leg.

Years later, he would tell this story to whoever would listen. Didn’t want to do it, he’d say. That hairy man’s leg. But you push a creature too far…He also told whoever would listen to keep in mind, he could have bitten the man a lot harder, his jaws could crack a three-inch femur bone.

The man dropped the manthing, and the wolf sprinted to the woods, running for miles and miles until he could no longer smell the man or the dogs or the staggering scents of the barn.

In the woods, he sat panting in a pool of cool night. His body felt pulverized and strange, his muscles tensing and shaking. His heart sped like a terrorized rabbit, and he had a bitter taste in his mouth as if he’d eaten blue mold. He tried to wash the taste away with saliva, but with the man’s blood circulating everywhere in him now, the bitter taste was now indelibly part of him. The thing around his neck had stopped its whimsical vibrations. He’d gotten used to the sound, and now that it was gone it felt like he’d lost a friend. The nearby laurel tree woke from its slumber and looked down, watching the wolf’s eyes turn bright yellow, then a dull brown, back and forth like a confused day. A cricket felt the wolf’s strangeness and paused its nightly opera. As the minutes ticked by, the pounding in the wolf’s head grew worse, as if his brain had enlarged and was busily cracking open his bony skull so it could flee. From the metal manthing, he thought. He’ll be better after a night’s rest.

At least once a century, a fleshy encounter between man and wolf happens. The blood of the man races enthusiastically in the wolf’s body for twenty minutes, moving in and out of every muscle, causing great torment, then it eventually settles in the wolf’s brain, rewiring the neural connections. Within 24 hours, the consciousness of the wolf will be forever altered. Most wolves never survive this. As for the man, the bacterial slime of the wolf’s teeth mingles with muscle and careens straight to the heart. He’s never the same, though it must be noted, some men are more well-suited for wolfdom than others.


Leo pulled up his pant leg. His wife, jarred awake by the barking, stepped outside in her white nightgown and flowery robe, her curly, nutmeg hair a scramble.

“What happened?” said Sylvia.

“A wolf.”


“Just a flesh wound,” he said.

“You better go to the doctor tomorrow,” she said. “Get a tetanus shot.”

The dogs ran wildly around the yard, big wide celebratory circles, still excited by the wolf and the star role they got to play, dominating the wild canine.

“It was after the livestock,” he said. “Never seen a wolf around here. Coyotes, sure, but not a wolf.”

Inside, Sylvia got the bottle of iodine from the medicine cabinet. Four deep puncture wounds, ringed by smaller marks, like tiny red pearls.

“Could have been worse,” said Leo.

“Looks pretty bad to me.”

That night, Leo slept deeply, more deeply than he had in years, falling into an endless well of sleep with crazy dreams of traveling hundreds of miles, through forests and wet grass, mountains, and heat and a burned landscape. In that blackened hellhole, he found Sylvia, burned to a crisp, cradling her favorite blue tea kettle. Right before he bent to kiss her, she leaped up. Got you, she said, laughing, and when music started, she spun on her heels, waving the kettle over her head, ash flying everywhere. He tossed the deer leg he had in his hand into a bush and joined her, dancing until dawn.

In the morning, he was ravenous. All that wildness in his dreams. He ate an enormous breakfast—sausage, eggs, more sausage, and Canadian bacon.

“Wow,” said Sylvie. “I haven’t seen you eat like this in ages.”

She was remembering when he was twenty, young and jam-packed with energy, and life on the farm hadn’t yet beaten him down to a hunched, agitated man. She used to love to watch him work, especially in the summer when he took off his shirt, his muscles and sinews rippling under his skin, skin glistening and sweaty, getting brown and browner. But every year brought a new seemingly unsurmountable bad thing, and worry settled on top of them like a tin lid. The grapes didn’t grow; flea beetles infested the kale; the cows got foot rot. Sometimes when she saw him in the distance, he looked like an old man. He wanted a nest egg before they had a child, but when would that be? She was 32, and baby fever kept flaring up.

“I feel fantastic,” he said, pushing back his chair.

There was no need to call the doctor, he said, no need to do anything but get to work. His muscles erratically contracted as if unable to contain themselves. He put on his wool socks and work boots and headed outside with verve and vigor to his step.


III.    Breakage

All day the wolf had lain there, lamenting his achy body. Finally, the smell of rabbit roused him, which alerted him to his hunger. Gingerly, he stood, testing his sore legs, his aching hip, and he began tracking the rabbit, only to stop suddenly, paralyzed with fear. What if the man is hunting me? What if I’m never rid of him? Always there like an aggressive stalker?

These were foreign and draining thoughts, but he couldn’t shake them. He stood there, listening for footsteps, an errant crack of a branch, a mancough or mansneeze. Nothing but the night sounds, but still, he didn’t move. He imagined a surprise attack, the man leaping out of the bushes with the metal manthing. The dogs would be beside him, traitorous to their canine origins.

What should he do? Stay put? Get going? When he realized he was on a fire road, the moon spotlighting him, self-loathing pummeled him, another new and terrible emotion. Standing out in the open like this, you deserve to get whacked by a manthing. He ran for the woods, and despite the aches and pains, kept going, putting distance between him and the man, but not really because it felt like the man was right behind him, gaining on him.


Clive stared wide-eyed at the blank computer screen, hitting refresh over and over. Shit, the battery must have run out. Or someone took it off—or… The empty screen looked at him ominously, pityingly. A tremendous feeling of loss gutted him.

He got up, stared out the window at the gray shower of rain. When he returned to his cubicle and sat, he seemed to leave his body and rise to the ceiling, hovering above his co-workers shuffling paper and tapping computer keys. He watched himself pick up the phone and dial Alice’s number. Alice, who specialized in condors, sat on the other side of the office, five desks away; Alice in her plaid shirt and black work boots; Alice, with her auburn hair and cubicle decorated with condor figurines, answered on the third ring.

He hung up.

It took a long time for him to understand his actions, but he finally figured it out. If she said no to his invitation to dinner, that would be the end, a door closed. But if he didn’t ask, the possibility remained for a happy future, marriage, a romantic honeymoon, maybe climbing the Alps or Mount Shasta. Oh, hell, why not, Mt. Everest? They both were woodsy. One, maybe two children, two boys with lots of energy, and the four of them would make mats out of construction paper and carve dinosaurs out of balsa wood. Alice was on the phone, laughing, her hand touching her hair.

Underneath all the thought shenanigans, he knew he was a coward.


Late afternoon, Leo found himself standing in the dim-lit barn, a wedge of last light cleaving the dirt floor in two. There was no reason to be in the barn, the chores were done, the sheep and goats fed, cows milked, the horses had been put out to pasture and brought back in for the night. But all day the barn had called to him like a siren, a seductress. He’d been in the strawberry field, smashing sap beetles between his fingers, trying to save the berries, but he kept gazing at the barn.

He went over to one of the horse’s stalls. Sylvia had named it Sweetie, an Appaloosa, its head and chest mocha brown, its haunches white with black spots. He wondered what horse meat tasted like and had an overwhelming urge to wrestle the horse to the ground and take a big bite. Alarmed, Leo rushed to the house and devoured a ham sandwich.

But he couldn’t stay away. After dinner, he was back in the barn, and the horses, sensing something was off, began to hoof the hay and whinny anxiously. From the back stall, the goats and sheep eyed Leo. He smelled different, gamey and stinky, like a predator. His eyes were dilated, and slightly yellow. Hey Leo! yelled the goats who pranced and danced, hoping to shake him from his absolute fixation on the horses. Leo! screamed the goats and sheep, Wake up!

“Honey!” Sylvia called. “Where are you?”

Leo looked around dazed and hurried out of the barn. He pulled Sylvia toward him and twirled her around the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” she said.

He licked her cheek.

She giggled. “That tickles.”

He was relieved she was here to take his mind off the barn, the horses. He stroked her hair and licked her arm.

“Leo?” she said, laughing uncertainly.

Maybe there was no need to have a nest egg before they had kids, he thought. A beautiful wife, a farm, a home, the only thing missing was a pack, though why he thought of a family as a pack was beyond him.


Miles and miles later, day upon day, leaving the stalker man behind, who, regardless of the distance, seemed always right behind him, the wolf was tuckered out. He’d never felt so tired, and it wasn’t just the beating by the manthing. It was something deeper than that, an inner roiling and turmoil. He wanted to lie down, but his wolf-ness rebuked him. You lazy son of a bitch. Cattle nearby, which meant Farm, which meant temptation, a man and terrible manthings. He had to keep moving. Had to find a mate. But a profound and troubling question lay under this litany of inquiries: what was the point of any of it?

If his mind would stop, he might sense he was on the Old Dusty Trail, the well-trodden path that wolves had used to traverse from Washington to California to Mexico. That roaming ended about 100 years ago, when the last wolf was hunted and killed by farmers, and U.S. Wildlife officials under the guise of protecting people and livestock from the fiercest predator around, and anyone else who felt like it.

The gray wolf, OR-97, was the first wolf in a century to make it all the way down to San Luis Obispo. And he was the only wolf to ever ask: what was the point?


The phone call was directed to Clive, who was known in the office as the wolf guy, and sometimes more snidely, wolf lover. He had over 27 statues of wolves on his office shelf, made of glass, wood, marble, bronze, and Corten steel, and tacked to his cubicle wall, a big poster of a wolf howling at the moon. The call was from a man living in Ojai, California. He said he was hiking in the hills and spotted a gray wolf with a purple collar. The wolf was sitting there, seemingly enjoying the cerulean sky.

Clive got off the phone and leaped from his chair, wanting to shout, he’s alive! Alive! He didn’t realize how much gloom he’d been lugging around. He glanced at Alice’s desk and saw she wasn’t there. His colleague told him Alice was doing fieldwork for the rest of the week in San Diego. Apparently, the female condors had figured out virgin births. No need for male condors anymore.

“So it begins,” said his colleague, rubbing his thinning hair.

Clive’s joy dampened, but when he returned to his cubicle, surrounded by his wolf paraphernalia, he felt his happiness rebound and expand like a helium-filled balloon.

“Alive!” he whispered, raising a fist in the air.


Leo’s consumption of meat was up to a hefty 5 pounds a day, but it never felt enough. He knew Sylvia was alarmed, but he couldn’t stop himself. He fantasized about 20 pounds of meat—cooked, raw, he didn’t care—eating it in one sitting.

“How about some vegetables?” said Sylvia.

Green things made his stomach churn.

He put in 17-hour days, working nonstop, the farm buzzing with productivity, and at dinner, he still teemed with energy. He built Sylvia a new kitchen chair, a bench for the porch, a shelf for their shoes. To protect his territory, he spent a good hour each day peeing on the long, white fence that lined his territory. Leo felt lighter, springier, often singing homemade songs as he did his chores. When he came into the house, he’d dance with Sylvia, spinning her around, and she’d laugh, her cheeks flushing bright pink.

But soon he could spend only so much time in the house. The four walls, the wool rug, Sylvia’s fluffy pink slippers felt suffocating. He needed the smell of dirt, decaying leaves, sun, water, the barn. He couldn’t get enough of what he called (only to himself) the barn perfume, though whenever he went in there, the animals nervously shuffled and mooed and bleated, hoping to drive him out.


What if he settled somewhere and it turned out to be a lousy place? Bad food, awful weather, polluted water. Should he pick the territory first and then wait and hope a female wolf came along? Or vice versa?

The wolf dragged on, through the heavy heat and the dry grass. He was aging by the second, due to the stress and the uncertain future. He sniffed the air, trying to find the scent of a female wolf. What wolf in their right mind would travel this far? Why did he travel this far? As he breathed, he realized he could smell only a mile’s worth of scents. Probably the stress, he thought. He looked around at the dried-out world. He longed for dewy grass, woods, the sound of raindrops, the smell of damp. Can there ever be a home that supplants one’s original home? Or is one always trying to replicate one’s first home? What if you can’t? His head hurt with these thoughts, but he couldn’t stop the questions from piling up. Who, exactly, was he? He glanced down at his feet and was alarmed by all the fur. I am not this fur. He had a brain and a sense of how it was to be him in the world. But those who looked at him only saw black and brown fur. What would they conclude? That he was only a fur ball?

He stumbled along, feeling there was something familiar about this place, but that was silly. He’d never been here before. In fact, long ago his great great grandfather on his mother’s side had passed this way as he headed down to Cabo San Lucas. And Leo, whose blood had congealed with the wolf’s, had grown up in Ventura County, surfed at Silver Strand Beach, and once dreamed of becoming a beach bum.

The wolf’s stomach growled, and he knew it was time to do something. He sniffed the air and caught the scent of a bird. Birds were so bony, so little meat, but he was starving, and there was no way he was strong enough to kill anything larger. He stepped stealthily toward the bird, but one of the brittle grasses broke and the little brown bird flew away. He sighed. It would have to be a rat. Those are the worst. He waited for the vermin to come out of its hole. The wolf pounced. Disgusting. He spit out the bones.

He stared out at the expansive, shimmery ocean, and imagined floating in a little rowboat, heading to a quaint island, where peace and quiet abounded. A fly landed on his foot. When he glanced down, he saw a drop of rat blood. The unfolding of the next sequence of thoughts occurred in slow, syrupy motion. The rat was once a living thing. It no longer existed. All living things die. He was a living thing. Someday, he will die.


A week later, Leo felt an irritatingly and incurable itch to head out, it didn’t matter where. The farm, the fence, the barn were cramped cages. The barn fragrance drove him crazy.

“What are you talking about?” said Sylvia. “We always wanted to own a farm. Raise our own food. Be self-sufficient.”

“People change.”

She crossed her arms. “What’s going on?”

“I got to get out of here.”

She studied him. “Are you having an affair,” she said, her voice shaky.

He stroked her hair and this time refrained from licking her cheek. “I just need, I don’t know. Walk the land, dirt trails, trees.” He almost said, rip apart a deer.

“Can I come?” said Sylvia.

The hair on the back of his neck stood up. He’d imagined this trip solo—smelling, tracking, hunting. “Who’ll take care of the farm?”

“We can hire Ted.” Ted, their farmhand.

“I’m planning on going hard, roughing it.”

“I’m game.”

He pictured her beside him, sniffing through the forest, sleeping in a cave or under some brush. His mate loping along beside him, a source of warmth, a companion to help with the hunt. Together they could take down a deer. Maybe on their trip, they could start their pack.

They took off in the middle of the night, the best time for traveling, he told her. He’d stuffed some things in a backpack, not really thinking about it, while she spent all day considering what to bring, what to leave behind, taking things out, putting things in again. Her backpack weighed twice as much as his, so many canned goods. She’d strapped on a tent.

She thought he might be in the thralls of a mid-life crisis, but he was only 30. Did that mean he’d die young? She didn’t really enjoy camping, the dirt and grime of it, beans over a fire. If it was a mid-life crisis, why did it have to manifest like this? Why not tinker with a car engine? Hunker down in a mancave and build a sailboat in a glass bottle?

“This is great,” he said, leading the way.

He seemed to be able to see in the dark, and with her headlamp on, she saw his eyes had a crazy yellow sunflower glow to them.

“Did you get contact lenses?” she said.

He shook his head no.


IV.    The Near End

Not once, not even for a second had the wolf considered his own demise. Say the word: death. He couldn’t believe it. He refused. But he knew it was true, and this new awful knowledge lashed around inside him like a wild animal, tearing everything to pieces. He looked at the trees and bushes, the black ants in a neat little line traversing the ground with new eyes and was filled with depthless sadness and compassion. All of you will die. It struck him again and again, like the metal manthing that slammed on his head and back; he, a gray wolf, would die.

He started to run, and it felt good to run, though his hip hurt. Running was good. He ran faster, harder, and soon he smelled a deer, and he felt relieved to be absorbed in something other than death.

Following the scent, he scrambled up the dead grass hill and looked around. The ocean looked back at him. Salt breezes. Sea birds. Sun. This was a nice place. Deer nearby. He’d find a mate, they’d build a future together, maybe lope along the beach, watch the waves. It was up to him to create meaning, he intuited.

The sky looked less than infinite. He lost the scent of the deer, then the wind shifted, and he saw it. He crouched, slinking closer to it, though if he caught it, he’d be the one who killed the deer. Can I live with that?

The deer ran away. Here is the fork in the road where most wolves who have undergone such a mutation call it quits. Suicide appears the only way to escape these debilitating, ambivalent thoughts. Full of anguish and hunger, the wolf lay down, belly up, hoping something would put an end to him.


After hiking 16 miles a day, for ten straight days, Sophia’s legs were steely strong and her lungs expansive. She could build a fire in less than five minutes, set up a tent in two, roast a rabbit on a stick, but she was done. She asked when he thought he would be ready to return home.

He stared at her with alert eyes, that strange tinge of yellow now looked to her like morning pee. “Not sure,” he said sniffing the air. “I think home could be right here.”

A quiver behind her knees. “Here?”

“It’s beautiful, feel the fresh air.”

That night he didn’t sleep in the tent but spent the day digging a dirt hole, big enough for only one. He said he needed to hear the night sounds, smell the dirt.

“In case there’s a predator?” she said.

“Does everything have to have a reason?”

Two days later, when he stalked around the campfire with his bow and arrow, she announced, “I’m heading back.”

He nodded, his gaze on the horizon. He raised his bow and arrow, his arms hairier than she remembered, and took aim at a squirrel. The arrow soared and struck tree bark.

“What about you?” she said, though she no longer cared. Whatever love she had for him had faded like a water-damaged chair. That old marriage certificate stuffed in the back of a drawer. She missed the animals and milk and cream. She missed showers, a bed with a comforter, Sweetie, her sweet horse. Ted would be at the farm. Ted, with his boyish grin and deep laugh. She could use some laughter. She knew the way home. They hadn’t made it very far, because he kept getting side-tracked by what he called the Vital Hunt. The Vital Hunt was happening today, he’d said this morning. They’d bring down a deer. “Can’t you smell it?” he’d said. She shook her head no. What she smelled was the stink of Leo.

When she left, he was sad, but when he smelled the woods and misty air, the emotion blew through him. This is the life, he thought. No more worries about weather and crops and beetles. Here there were blackbirds, brown birds, good smells.  He liked the taste of rabbit. Squirrel wasn’t so bad. He’d find a cave, cover the bottom with soft grass.


V.     Endings and Beginnings

The wolf laid there in the heat, thinking that the female wolf he saw standing 100 feet away was a mirage, a wild fantasy. A real stunner with beautiful gray and black fur, long slender legs, an authoritative snout that suggested she’d been through a lot and could handle a lot. Then he smelled her. He got to his feet, his heart beating frantically, full of elation and fear. What if she rejected him? What if she was already with another male wolf in her life? Should he make the first move? He stood there, paralyzed, uncertain what to do. When the wind shifted, she smelled him and came right over and sniffed him. Well now, he thought.

He licked his fur to try to spruce up. He had so much to tell her about his journey, those 1,000 miles, and he supposed she had many stories, too. It would require a long conversation, probably one that would last a lifetime. He would not bring up death. He had a choice of what to think about, after all. Though that was probably the extent of his free will.

In his mind, he called her Wanda. Wanda dear, I will be with you in the fullness of time until it is over. If you become injured, I’ll bring you food, I’ll find a way to quench your thirst. I will try not to dwell for long periods of time on the past or imagine the future and become paralyzed by the terrifying finality that awaits.


When Leo finished hunting for the day—only a chestnut-backed chickadee–Leo was filled with immense loneliness. Where was his mate? The fire was out. The tent gone. He needed a mate to help with the Vital Hunt. Just as his old Leo brain was about to take over, flooding his body with debilitating grief, he smelled his own pungent musky scent, which sunk him deeper into the wilderness of himself. Deer, five miles, due south. He took off running, electrified with the thrill of the hunt.


When Alice returned, Clive explained the situation. Maybe the wolf was in Ventura County, who knows, he laughed nervously. He’d gotten approval from the higher-ups to drive down there, take a look around. He could take a co-worker along. Maybe she’d like to join him, maybe?

Alice looked at him, a softening around her mouth. “I’d love to, but let’s get this straight. Strictly work.”

His palms were clammy. “Absolutely.” Life must be lived, he told himself, urging his legs to stand still. She looked beautiful, even in fluorescent light.

“What a trooper,” she said.

For a moment, Clive thought she was referring to him.  


The wolf and his new mate nestled together in their cave, enjoying a leg of deer. After they stood and stretched, she howled her satisfaction and he joined her, releasing the inner turmoil from the transitory nature of existence. In the distance, vaguely, faintly, he thought he heard a howl back at him. Not a wolf, not exactly, more like a human masquerading as a wolf. It sent a shiver down his bony vertebrae. He looked at the sky, the stars, those luminous balls of gas, and wondered, What was the world coming to?





Nina Schuyler