PART ONE: The Children
Thursday June 5th 2003
"Evelyn!" Came a shrill cry behind me, and I glanced around, seeing my older brother running through the forest towards me, the end of his dark pants catching on the thorn bushes. He reached me breathlessly. "We've got to go now-"
"Wait!" I exclaimed in a whisper, coaxing him forward with my hand. He rolled his eyes, but thumped down beside me anyway. I turned my gaze around to the river down the bank that I had stopped at. It was early summer, and the flowers were in full bloom in the forest- the colours violet, warm yellow and strawberry red. They surrounded me with their delicious scent, bugs hopping through the air to the sweet lure of pollen. Logan- my brother- pulled his legs up to his chest and sighed.
I had been gazing down to the river, quietly waiting for the deer I knew passed by here. A lone mother with her children. I waited nervously, desperately wanting Logan to see them and their soft beauty.
Then, out of nowhere, they gently came forward to the cool water. I gasped excitedly, gripping Logan's shoulder as he laughed a little.
"Do you see them?" I asked in a hushed whisper.
"Of course I see them." Logan chuckled.
"Aren't they beautiful?" I practically swooned from happiness. My brother sighed beside me as we lapsed into silence. The doe pushed her two fawns forward with her head, and they bent down awkwardly to lick the water. I beamed as they all drank together.
"Evelyn," Logan said suddenly beside me, grabbing my arm.
"We've got to go. Now."
"What?" I turned to him, seeing his eyes were trained on something in the distance. "Why…?" I whispered, turning my head. I squinted, seeing nothing but the gently swaying trees and the mountains in the distance. Then, I saw something very dark protrude from the undergrowth. I felt all the blood drain from my face as Logan pulled me up, grabbing my hand and pulling me away.
It was a huge wolf. It dwarfed the deer family in size. It was jet black and moved forward in a crouched position. Logan was desperately trying to get me to run away. But I couldn't look away from it. Fear froze me. The wolf lunged forward and I cried as it covered the doe.
Logan had me huddled under his arm as we ran our way home through the ever darkening forest. My mind was racing with the fear- I knew there were wolves, but that big? It must've heard me scream, right?
I was a gibbering wreck by the time we got back to our house. Logan held me close as he opened the kitchen door, telling me it will be alright, and we'd tell the police, and they'd handle it.
But when we walked through into the kitchen, we were faced with our grandparents. They didn't live very far away- only on the edge of the reservation, while we lived a little way into the forest.
"Where were you two?" My grandfather grumbled angrily.
"Jonathan," grandma placed a careful hand on his shoulder. "Not now."
"What's going on?" Logan asked, his hand gripping tighter around my shoulder. I kept seeing the black wolf in my mind, its bared teeth, glaring at the doe. I shivered, and they all glanced to me before my grandparents attempted at answering.
"Evelyn," came my grandma's soft voice. I looked up to her.
"Come with me. We'll get you a blanket."
"But-"Logan began to argue, but my grandpa took him aside. I was curious to what was happening, but my grandma quickly took me down the hall and to the airing cupboard beneath the stairs. She wrapped a warm red blanket around me, tucking a strand of my blonde hair behind my ear.
"Evelyn," she crouched a little, smoothing down the blanket.
"Your grandfather and I are staying here with you for a while, okay?"
"Okay… but what about mom and dad?"
Her eyes became very soft. "They had to go away for a bit."
"Oh." I pulled the blanket tighter around me.
"Would you like some cocoa?" She asked me with a tight smile. It seemed unnatural to me, and though I was curious to why she looked so sad, I nodded. "Okay. You go up to bed and I'll be there in a moment."
I began to trudge up the stairs, glancing around to see my grandfather on his knees beside Logan, who had his head in his hands. My grandma glanced around, seeing me on the stairs, and gave me that weird smile before closing the door.
That night, I lay in my bed, the wolf replaying again and again in my mind. My father always warned me not to go into the forest alone- especially at night. And I had done just that. Would he be angry with me? I felt sick as I cuddled myself in my duvet, my stuffed animals around me, watching on sadly. It was raining gently outside, and instead of lulling me to sleep like it used to do, it haunted me and kept me awake.
So I pulled myself out of my bed and stepped carefully onto the landing, making my way to my brother's room. Whenever I couldn't sleep, I would find myself in his big bed. He was five years older than me and was about to be a senior in high school already. I pulled his door open, seeing his room was pitch black- but his curtains were open.
I huddled next to him, closing my eyes tightly as I listened to his heartbeat. Then I felt him pull the duvet around me and wrap an arm around me. He let out a strange sound, almost like a sob but more breathy. I opened my eyes, seeing he was gazing up at the peaked ceiling.
"Logan?" I whispered, but he didn't answer. His misted eyes stayed trained on the ceiling, and then finally they turned to me.
"Remember what dad always used to tell us the night before the start of the new school year?" He asked me hurriedly.
I nodded a little, remembering perfectly because his words always made me less afraid.
"He said that no matter what happens tomorrow, you two stick together."
"But we don't go to the same school any more-"
"That's beside the point." He breathed in tightly. "I just wanted you to know that whatever happens tomorrow, I'll be right here for you."
I didn't know what he meant, but I stayed quiet. His eyes fluttered closed and I watched him fall asleep. Something was wrong with Logan- something was wrong with everybody. They weren't telling me, and I knew it was important, and it was making Logan upset. I wanted to help him. I wanted to understand.
But I would understand. And very soon, my childhood would seem to fade away.