I hide within the shadows
I chase you through your dreams
Forgotten denied unspoken
The one, the stalker
Truth hidden by truth
I stretched, yawned. Felt how my heart was quickening its pace. I was waiting in my car, had been waiting all afternoon. The sun was setting, I was ready. I felt the longing, the need like a deep hunger within. I had been waiting almost too long this time.
I had left early that morning, it was a long drive but it was worth it. This place was very remote, few knew of it. Not even the rangers guarding this national park knew of its secrets, of me and my kind. The small track I had followed was well hidden and you would not believe that a car could follow it very far but I drive a custom built four wheel drive, and it has several secrets, as do I. I told my neighbor I was taking a hiking trip, and also to where. I did of course not mention the exact location but I have learned that if you have to lie then make the lie as small as possible, it is less likely to be revealed as what it is that way.
She told me to have a nice weekend and I tried to look like I was excited but not too excited. She is a nice lady but a bit too curious at times. I guess I will have to move again soon. We never live at the same place more than a few years at a time, ten at the most. Humans have weak senses and they also, thank the goddess, have a very short memory. But they can be very suspicious and careful and we do stand out from the crowd in some ways. It is better to move on before someone starts asking questions.
I felt the darkness embrace me, felt alive like I hadn’t done in many months. I was shivering as I got out of the car and took a deep breath of fresh clean air. The city is a nightmare to someone like me, the smells and stenches, the sounds and voices and just the violence of it all. It is like being raped over and over again. We prefer to avoid the cities of humankind if we can, they hurt our sensible senses. I work in a city so I have to do this very often, I have to return to who I really am and cleanse myself of the poisons.
This is what I live for when the job and the human’s gets on my nerves, it is my sole reason to stay sane. It is in my dreams every time I sleep and I know deep within my heart that it is this way also for the rest of us. It always has been, it is a sort of inherited memory. A faint ghost of a time when this world was pure, unspoiled and untouched by the ravages of humans. A time when we were free.
We are few, have never been many. We did not need to be many because we live for a long time, and we need a huge territory to feed ourselves. That is the backside of being on top of the food chain. I know of about fifteen I call friends, twice as many who I know by name and a few more I just have heard of. That’s all, there are more of us in other parts of the world but we rarely travel very far, it is not natural to us.
I live among humans every day; see my own kind just a few times each year. It is safer that way, at least in these modern times. There can’t be anything that can reveal our true nature that can rip our deception apart.
I have adapted well, I seem like a normal person. I grew up in a suburb and was a popular girl when I went to high school. I was athletic and strong and got good grades but the teachers always questioned me. They told me they thought I was holding back and I surely was.
I could not reveal my real strength and speed, the traits of my race. I was dancing on a razors edge and dancing well. If I was too strong they would be suspicious, if I held back too much they would believe me to be lazy or something. It was not easy but I got through school without ever getting exposed.
There was one problem tough, in the past people never got undressed in public, and barely even at home. I had to shower with the other girls and I also wore two piece bathing suits and small tops. My mother helped me and I had to wax my back from a very early age. You see, there is one telltale sign we all carry, a narrow line of hair from our necks to the small of our backs.
It is by the way the only thing that reveals the color of our fur. I of course hated it but I knew that it had to be done. All children of our people grow up knowing the difference between themselves and the children of humans and why they never must reveal their secret. We hide within the legends and fairy tales, the myths. They are our best defense, nobody believes in something that is believed to be nothing but old superstition. I left home when I was twenty; got this job and now I have been in it for about eight years. I will soon start looking for a new one.
Those who have met my family have all noticed that we all look very much alike. If you placed my mother and me besides each other you could probably not separate us. We look like twins. My brother and my father is just the same, they look like copies of each other. It is the way of our race, the way we inherit our parents DNA works different than in humans or all other species.
We are truly unique. I have not yet met a male I would want to be my mate, it is my duty to procreate but there is no rush. We live for centuries and we stay fertile all of our lives. It is a good thing, finding a good mate is never easy. When we leave home we sort of cut the bonds to our past. I rarely see my parents or my brother, I miss them a lot and it is very hard but it has to be that way. There could be too many questions otherwise.
I slowly removed my clothes; it was almost a sort of ritual. I got rid of everything that tied me to the human world. The cold air felt chilling against my naked skin but I was not shivering from that, I was shivering with anticipation. It felt like getting out of a couple of shoes that doesn’t fit or a tight and uncomfortable dress or something. The human form was not my natural form, it is unnatural to me and I was just removing a mask.
It sometimes takes time before the change starts, if I am nervous stressed out or just overexcited it can take several minutes so I slowly left the car and walked towards the middle of the small clearing. I relaxed and concentrated, listened to the song of my blood, of my kind. I did not worry and I was not scared although the change hurts like hell. It would be over in few minutes and then I would feel so much better.
When I was a child I often refused to change, I feared the process since there is a lot of pain involved. I was like a human kid who doesn’t want to see the doctor or dentist. Ah, the dentist, also a problem. Our teeth are slightly different from those of humans, even when we are in human form. You can’t just bring a child of the people to a doctor or dentist without him or her raising the alarm. That’s the reason why many of us choose to become health workers. We help each other keep our secrets. I have nice teeth, they look very human and I am proud of it. I am proud of my human body too, it is a nice one.
I could have been a fitness model or actress if it hadn’t been for the obvious problems involved. Yes, I have had human lovers; I have never told any of them what I really am, except one. Mark, he is such a rare person, such a unique soul. He really understands and he never judges me or sees me as anything else than a friend. He is my best friend and I would kill for him, without hesitation. He has saved my life several times, but that is a long story, I’ll tell it later.
I felt it happen, tried to stay relaxed, it doesn’t hurt that much that way. I gasped and fell unto my hands and knees, felt how my entire body twitched and changed.
The pain is indescribable, it is intense and everywhere and I could hear bones being reshaped and stretched. It is hard not to scream but we have no voice as it happens, it is a safety precaution designed by evolution. We can’t scream and reveal our location. I could just hang along for the ride as my body changed into something new, I could not stop it once I had started it.
It is a myth that we only change when its full moon, the full moon makes hunting easier that is true but we can change whenever we want to. I itched as my fur sprang out, it felt like a relief when it was over. It took only three minutes this time, it was good. I had not waited too long after all, if we wait very long between each time we take our real form the transformation takes longer. It gets harder to rid ourselves of our human body.
I shook, delighted by the fresh scents of the forest, I was filled with new strength and felt like singing with joy but I kept my mouth shut. We look like wolves, and an untrained eye will think we are just that but we do not sound like a wolf at all. A human who hears the calls of my kind will never forget it, it will haunt his or hers nightmares the rest of their lifetime.
I have never revealed my true self that way except once, and that was in self-defense. To cry out is too us a weapon, sort of a last resort. The sound is so hideous to human ears it leaves them unable to do anything. Yeah, we look a lot like wolves but that is just a disguise, I do not know what family of animal we originated from but it could perhaps be a sort of early canine. It could be a feline too, some of us, but just a very few, transforms into something that resembles a huge mountain lion. If one of those chooses a mate who is a wolf then their children will be wolves.
I do not know much of our origin but there are several theories, I like one in particular. My mother favored that too. It is as follows, once upon a time there was a predator which saw early humans as its most desired prey, it slowly changed to adapt to its prey’s habits and looks and ended up looking pretty much like them. Then they could walk among them as one of them and pick just what they needed.
I think that is true, if someone checked our DNA I think they would find two different creatures within us all. The original shape shifter and some human DNA It is only our bodies that changes, our personality remains the same and I guess that we slowly became more and more human also in our way of thinking. We do no longer hunt human beings; we stopped doing that millennia ago. Now we only hunt animals because we need to hunt, it is a deep need we all carry within. After all, we are predators.
It gives us some problems in our everyday lives, we do not eat much vegetables and cooked food. We prefer meat and although I do eat things like bread and rice and other human dishes I prefer not too, we can’t digest that sort of food and it gives me terrible stomach problems. My parents told the school that I had some rare kind of genetic disorder that made me unable to digest anything except meat, so far so good, but I had to eat it cooked. If I started eating raw meat it would look disgusting to others and we can’t afford too much attention.
I left the clearing, my senses are so much better than those of a human being and I saw the forest in a completely different way than any human would. It was a symphony of smells and sounds and I jumped and ran a little out of pure joy. My real body felt so good, so natural and just right. It was wonderful, I felt happy, really truly happy. It was as if I had been in prison for several long years but suddenly been pardoned.
I ran for several hours, got reacquainted with my favorite places. I had two days of freedom ahead and it was enough time to do all I wanted. I started feeling hungry, needed to feed so I started hunting. I love the hunt, the excitement and the chase, it feels so natural. We never kill more than we need and we are very careful when we pick our prey. We are stronger than all other carnivores, even a bear would have problems against one of us so we can bring down just about anything we would like but we follow certain rules.
We never kill more than we can eat and we never finish the chase in such a way that is looks strange or unnatural if someone were to track us. If several of us meet and share the hunt we will bring down something large like a deer or moose but as solitary hunters we go for nothing bigger than a roe deer. We do not need much meat to live, our bodies has a very specialized metabolism, we never waste a single calorie and we store what we need for later as a layer of fat underneath our skin.
I soon caught the scent of a suitable prey, a rabbit. They are not easy to catch and they taste good so I looked forward to a decent challenge. It was a huge female and she was alert and cunning, her long ears would catch even the faintest sound and her strong hind legs could carry her across the forest floor both fast and long. I don’t smell like any other creature of the woods, we do in fact not smell much even to our own fine-tuned noses. If the rabbit caught the little scent I had she would not be able to recognize it as something threatening.
I was slowly moving in for the kill, careful with the direction of the wind and where I placed my paws. The hairs on the back of my back were shivering with excitement and I felt my mouth water. I was a part of nature itself at this moment, a part of an ancient pact between hunter and prey that has existed as long as there has been life on this planet and probably even before that too. I was one with eternity, with the forces of life. The hunter and the prey depend upon each other, the hunter needs meat and the prey need someone to remove the weak and sick from the herd, those not worthy of bringing their genes on into the next generation. It might seem cruel to some but it is not.
Nature does not care for the individual being, only for life itself. If species come and go doesn’t matter as long as the phenomenon of life lingers.
The rabbit was chewing away on some twigs and I would have smiled if I had been in my human form. It was unaware, did not pay attention to its surroundings. That is an unforgivable mistake for any wild animal. I took the last few steps and threw myself forward, the rabbit heard me and tried to turn to run but it was too late. My jaws clamped together around it and I felt its spine snap.
A few powerless kicks and a short scream and it were over. I shook it a few times, just to be sure, and then I started to rip it apart. We do not eat the same way as other predators; we prefer to pull the prey to pieces before we start to eat. I ate the hind legs first, I enjoyed the taste and feel of fresh flesh and blood and I knew I was safe there so I took my time.
When I was done there was nothing left except some fur and blood on the ground. We try to finish our meals completely; we never leave anything behind that can identify the hunter responsible of the kill. That’s also a reason why we never hunt anything large if we are alone. A wolf or cougar can eat several pounds of meat in one meal and finish off a large animal in a matter of days but our stomachs don’t stretch that well. If I ate too much I would get sick and feel just horrible for a while.
I felt sleepy afterwards, found myself a nice place to sleep underneath the roots of a huge pine. It was a small cave and it was almost completely impossible to find unless you knew how to look for such places. It had a nice thick bottom of dried leaves and I sighed with pleasure as I lay down to digest the meal. This was life as it was supposed to be. I guess that we once upon a time must have had the choice of whether we would remain in our role as human imitations or return to our roots.
I think we may have made the wrong choice but then again, perhaps not. There are few places in the world left which are untouched by man; we would have been in a difficult situation if we were to live our lives in our true shapes. We would have been hunted and feared, perhaps even more than now. Perhaps this fact is one of the reasons why we chose to continue our little masquerade. If your enemy can’t separate you from his own kind there is a chance he won’t even notice you’re there.
I laugh at the so called werewolves films and books portray, they are man’s creation. There is little left in them which reveal their true origin, very little in deed. If I bit someone they would certainly not become a shape shifter like myself, and if someone shot me with a silver bullet or an ordinary one would not matter. We can bleed and die just like any other animal, you don’t need any magic to kill us but we are not easy to kill.
We are physically superior to humans and we are also very intelligent. We know all there is to know of human nature and we can predict how people will react. I can also smell what they feel, and what type of personality they have. It is practical sometimes.
Some of us take advantage of our special skills in their normal everyday lives. They do it very carefully and never reveal how they can be so sure about certain things. If you are a cop then finding the murderer by his scent is practical but how do you explain that to the judge? And a businessman who is able to achieve his goals every time can’t go around and brag about some sixth sense can he? We are very aware of our own talents and gifts; we never use them unless we absolutely have to. I know of a few who actually cheat at that but it never pays off in the end. We do as I have told have rules.
The sun was raising and I was dreaming of running through the forest with the pack, it was a nice dream, a dream that made me feel good. I was warm and safe and content. I did not miss anything about my normal everyday life at this moment, not even my bed. It was like a different world, a dream I had almost forgotten. I would have stayed here if I could, forever. I woke with a start, I had heard an unusual noise and I raised my head, awake and ready for anything. It had been a gunshot, somewhere in the distance.
I got on my feet, listened very carefully. I did not hear anything out of the ordinary but I could sense that something was off. The forest itself told me so, its song and rhythms had been disturbed. I closed my eyes, opened my senses completely. If I turned my head a little I was sure I heard the faint sound of an engine somewhere in the distance. It could be the park rangers who were hunting for some injured or sick animal but I did not think so. This area of the park was too isolated, none ever came to this place, there were no roads or paths and humans are lazy these days. If someone was there then they were the kind of people who should most definitely not be there.
I bared my fangs for a second, my version of a determined grin and I left the cave. I had rested well, my belly was not too full and I wanted to check things out.
I started running, it was still very early and the dew was clinging to the straws and branches, it was very beautiful but it leaves tracks when you run through it so I tried to follow the animal paths were my tracks would be hard to find. I stopped; a new shot had been fired, followed by several more. A semi-automatic weapon of some kind. I work in a store which sells sports equipment, including guns; I know a thing or two about them.
This is the time of day when the deer come out to feed and I wondered if someone was hunting deer or if it was something even more serious. Nobody is allowed to hunt inside the park at all, only the rangers.
I ran a bit longer, heard the sound of a car, a huge four-wheel drive of some kind. Had to be special made, there were no roads here and the terrain was ragged.
I lifted my nose, could pick up the faint scent of diesel and oil, of humans. I snarled involuntarily, they had disturbed my peace and spoiled my holiday. I would not accept it; this had to be sorted out. I was sneaking forward, heard the engine being pushed hard, the sound of tires against raw rock and soil. I heard voices too, blurred by the distance and the movement. They were laughing and yelling, making a lot of racket.
I saw something move ahead, smelled blood and fear and confusion. It was a deer; its hind leg was shot off. It was running still, in blind panic. I saw its eyes, wide with horror and shock and my heart was bleeding with it. This was not right; this was not the way it was supposed to be. Where was the respect, the reverence? The love?
A true hunter never tortures his prey, he kills swiftly and clean. The prey should rarely even know that death is on the way until the last second. Most hunters know this, even the human ones, but these men seemed to be of the most horrible kind of all.
Those who enjoy killing, who likes to watch living beings suffer and who kills just for pleasure. They would not try to find this deer, it took too much of their time and they did not care about the slow agonizing death it would meet with such an injury. I was furious, hot with anger. We never kill for any other reason than food but I was ready to make an exception this time.
The deer got aware of me, it stopped and stared and did not know what to think of this creature, I sighed, this was blood spilled for nothing. It was wasted life and there is nothing that disgusts me more than that. I lunged at it, snapped its neck before it had time to react. It was merciful, it had to be done.
I heard them laughing and shouting and they fired again. A couple of terrified white tails ran by me, followed by a moose and some rabbits. I growled and hid underneath a rock, I had to see this to know what to do. The car came into sight, it was a dodge with extra-large wheels and it had been elevated almost like a monster truck. This car would not get stuck easily. I made a grimace, the vehicle stank. I felt the smell of old blood, of old death. This had happened before, many times. Two men stood upright behind the driver, they had removed the roof and arranged a perfect place to stand and shoot. The back of the pick-up was filled with equipment and dead animals.
I could smell them all, deer, a moose and some birds, a bobcat and even a young bear. The hair stood along my back, I was more furious then I had ever been before. They did not care at all; they just didn’t give a damn. They had fun, period. I smelled liquor, even the driver had to be intoxicated, I saw loads of beer cans both inside the car and in the back and I also smelled whisky and cheap moonshine. They were drunk like skunks and shooting at everything they saw move.
They probably wanted to spend the weekend drinking and killing randomly and I knew they would do it again later, many times. I had to stop them and I had an idea. It was risky but I knew a thing or two about human nature and I was much faster than any animal of these woods. The car was fast on a regular road but here it moved no faster than the speed of a man walking at a normal pace.
The guns were a problem but I also knew how to dodge bullets, I had done it before. I made my decision, I knew this part of the park and I knew of one place in particular that would be their nemesis.
I ran around the car in a wide circle, got in front of it. I ran across the narrow track they were following and allowed them to catch a short glimpse of me.
I have forgotten to tell you how I look, I am black and at my shoulders I stand almost four feet tall. I am a huge animal but most of the height is legs, I don’t weigh that much. I am rather muscular as a human, quite heavy actually. I weigh in at 75 kg and due to the laws of physics I weigh exactly the same when I am in my animal form. A 75 kg wolf like carnivore. Some males I know of weigh almost 140 kg, you can imagine their size. They can’t allow themselves to be seen at all, you would imagine the rumors that would be spreading, giant wolves!
The men started shouting and waving, they were excited. I had read their intentions right, they wanted something to mount on the wall and none of them had a wolf. “Wolf, Bob follow it!”
I ran until I was out of reach for their guns, left a very obvious track. The car was roaring and making its way around trees and rocks, it was a slow procedure but they had forgotten about the deer and the other animals. They wanted the wolf they had seen. I let them catch a glimpse of me again; they fired but were much too slow to hit me. I knew that alcohol slows them down; it was at least one benefit the stuff has. I ran and coaxed them into a new track, fuelled their desire and interest time after time. I knew exactly where I had to go, I could smell it.
I ran down the hill, the car followed and they did not notice the slight change in the vegetation. They were on an old road, a very old road. More than a hundred years ago there had been a logging company working in this particular valley, they had removed almost all the forest in a twenty square mile area and you could still see the scars if you knew what to look for.
The road was covered by young fresh trees now but I knew where it was. The felling of trees had stopped when the owner of the company suddenly died of a heart attack and his heirs could not agree on what to do with the company. It had been sold and there had been some sort of scandal so the whole thing was shut down and the forests saved.
I knew where the road ended, and its history. It would help me now. I would have smiled if it had been possible. They continued to track me and I ran and kept tempting them. The road was easier to see where it reached the plain below; it was a deceptive place, very dangerous in the warm season. Even a blind man could see that this was a road, very well arranged and quite well preserved. The car would be able to speed up considerably here and I hoped it would.
In the middle of the plain there was a small narrow creek, it appeared to be the kind you would let your kids play by, shallow and narrow and completely benign. Just a charming little stream of water, barely even moving. I knew the truth, it was a real river but the vegetation along its banks had grown so far it had almost covered it. The water was too slow to destroy it and what seemed to be solid ground was actually a floating mass of old grass and bushes and moss. It was a death trap, a hidden swamp almost bottomless.
The river had dug deep into the soft soil of the valley bottom and it was hiding its true self well. It was a monster, patiently awaiting its next unfortunate victim. The road crossed the seemingly narrow little stream and you might wonder how that is possible?
I’ll tell you how, when they were working in this valley there were no such things as cars or tractors or logging machines. They had to use horses and a load of huge logs is so heavy there was no way they could move anything during the summer. The river was also a problem; they could not cross it except in winter when it was frozen over. And here is the clue, they built the road for winter driving, placed logs in the floating bog to support it and chained them together. Then they covered it with snow and water and allowed it to freeze solid.
The logs slowly sank when they stopped using the road and the vegetation swallowed them but the gravel and the rocks and all the other debris the logging left remained on top cause it was light and choked the moss and bog grass Now it looked like a normal gravel road which had been unused for a few years but it was still in pretty good shape.
A sane person would of course stop and ask themselves why there is a half a mile long stretch of good road in the middle of nowhere with no exit or entry. I was pretty darn sure that these drunkards would ignore that fact, I could bet a million on it. The car entered the open plain, I could hear them shouting because they saw me by the stream. I was light, the bog could carry my weight very well and I pretended to be drinking as I watched the car from the corner of my eyes. When it was close enough I jumped over the two feet wide gap and ran down the remaining stretch of road toward the forest behind.
The car accelerated, I could hear the driver pushing the accelerator almost through the floor and I bared my teeth. They were in for a surprise. The car soon did almost fifty miles an hour, the huge wheels carried its weight well but as they entered the hidden bog I could see the surface of the road buckle underneath it.
They did not notice because the surface seemed to be both dry and solid; all eyes were fixed at me. As they got closer to the narrow gap of open water the floating raft of vegetation got increasingly thinner and younger. The wheels got a slight problem, water was being pushed up through the moss and they lost their traction, there was too much torque and not enough grip.
The car slowed down and the men started to realize that something was wrong but it was too late. The car was only doing a few miles an hour when it reached the open water, had it been at full speed then it might have made it due to its mass and speed but it was doomed.
The front wheels suddenly sank in and the car almost somersaulted. The two men who were standing up was thrown out of the cab and I guess the driver had a rather uncomfortable close encounter with the wind shield They hit the grass on the other side and had a soft landing but the car was sinking fast. The driver clawed his way out of the doomed vehicle and I chuckled to myself.
That car had found its grave. The men were screaming and accusing each other of being morons and I hid beneath some rocks and witnessed the whole thing. They had lost most of the weapons and had only one rifle left and I knew that these guys were no sons of the wilderness. They depended on modern technology to survive. All three of them were rather flabby; they probably hated the very word exercise, and got most of their meals at Mc Donald’s. This would be a nice lesson to them.
They started to walk, all three were soaking wet and sulking and I heard them arguing from half a mile away. They were blaming each other and I knew all of the nature of humans, they were their own greatest enemies. I followed them during the day and evening. They tried to find the right direction back to the main road but they were walking in a wide arch. In the evening they stopped arguing, they were too tired and kept their mouths shut. They just stared viciously at each other.
They made themselves a sort of a shelter underneath the stem of a fallen tree, and while they were sleeping and snoring I crept up on them and stole the last rifle. I dropped it in a deep hole underneath some rocks, they would never find it. The morning after they almost were at each other’s throats accusing each other of having stolen the weapon and they continued arguing and swearing during the day. I felt very content, if they survived it was nothing short of a miracle, I would make sure that no animal got within their reach, they would know what starvation was before the end. This national park was wast and even the rangers didn’t know all of it. I doubted that the men would even be found.
I spent the rest of the weekend in peace, I killed and ate a rabbit and some voles and asked their spirits for forgiveness as anyone should, and I felt a deep gratitude for their sacrifice. The gratitude and reverence those men had lacked so completely. You can’t take unless you also give.
I felt sad when I returned to my car and changed back, it felt really hard and I did not want to do it but knew I had to. My apartment felt like a prison and I made a rather grim parody of a smile when the neighbor asked how my weekend was. She must have thought I had been trapped by rain or something.
Half a year later I visited the park in my human shape, I got into a conversation with one of the park rangers, a really nice guy who told me that they had found the wreck of a car in the river after the spring floods. Later in spring they had found the bodies of two men in a small cave a few miles away from one of the lodges. They had been starved and it was very apparent that one had stabbed the other and gotten wounded himself during the struggle. They had both died there, and I knew exactly how their last days had been. Like rats trapped in a box they had turned on each other. All the ugliness of mankind had forced its way to the surface and they had worked against each other instead of cooperating to survive. I had guessed it would end that way.
Some years later they found a third skeleton hanging from a branch, wasn’t much left of him due to bears and the elements but they managed to identify him as the third man of the hunting party. The coroner made it clear that he had been alive when he was hung with his own belt. It did not surprise me. The hunter very rarely is able to cope with the concept of being the prey, with being helpless.
Some people come out of such situations victorious, as better people then they were. These guys failed and I will not mourn them, I mourn their victims but I also feel a sort of determination. As long as I roam through these woods there will be a secret guardian. One they will never see and never know, unless they break the rules of nature itself. Then I will be there, and then they will see why man has nightmares of what the shadows hide.
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