I jolted upright with a snarl, ready to tear the intruder apart. To my surprise, the little fur ball was already frantically curling and cowering into me as soon as I stood up. My ears pricked forward and I was dumbfounded for a moment.
I heard it in my head clear as day. This little pipsqueak was a werewolf, and I could hear him.
The realization was interrupted by the clumsy stomping of a bipedal coming towards us. I didn’t have time to worry about the wolf huddled beneath me, I needed to take care of the human who was now led right to me.
“Stay here. Don’t move”. I said to him through the mind-link. One of the not so enjoyable perks of the werewolf world.
I scanned the area until I locked in on the human. He was trekking through the fresh layer of fallen leaves, loud and cumbersome- typical. Leaving my lunch and the new wolf, I trotted around the human’s flank as quietly as I could manage. I waited in his blind spot, holding back my urge to tackle him. This wasn’t prey. This was just a human who needed to be…redirected.
“Gotcha.” The hunter muttered to himself, taking notice of the bundle of fur trying to hide under the deer I had just killed. He raised his rifle into position, steadying himself and taking aim. I locked eyes on the barrel of the gun. Now was my chance.
I launched myself at the man sideways, taking the barrel in my bloody jaws. I jerked my head upwards just as a shot rang out that sent my whole head shuddering. I clenched my teeth as hard as I could and ripped the gun from the hunter’s hands. I dropped the now warped hunk of wood and metal between my paws and let out a threatening snarl as I locked eyes with the human.
He was dirty, pudgy and sported a patchy salt and pepper beard. His beady eyes were bulging with fear. For a moment I wondered if he might need a new pair of pants. He stood frozen, hands still in mid-air as if still holding the gun. This guy wasn’t getting the point. I snarled again and lunged at him, snapping my jaws just close enough that he would feel my saliva splatter on him. That did the trick. He scrambled for a moment, tripping over his own swollen feet, before awkwardly high tailing it away from me and the young wolf that laid cowering beneath a deer carcass. I took a moment to smell the trail he left behind... yep, he definitely needed a new pair of pants.
I licked away the saliva that was dripping from my jowls and turned my attention back to the little runt that had interrupted my day.
“You’re in the clear.” I said to him as I made my way back to the carcass. A small, tawny head peeked out from under the deer and looked up at me with warm amber eyes.
“He’s gone?” He said, looking around the area to confirm my words.
I just huffed an affirmation and grabbed one of the deer’s legs before I resumed my trek back to my den.
“Hey, you’re a werewolf too!” He trotted after me, tail swaying and ears fully erect. My eyes couldn’t stop themselves from rolling. This kid didn’t miss much, did he? “What are you doing out here? Where’s your pack? Whoa, did you catch that by yourself?”
“Shouldn’t you be getting home or something, brat?” I grumbled. My teeth were digging into the leg bones in agitation. I lived alone for a reason and I didn’t have the time or desire to babysit. And yet, he continued to pad along beside me.
“Well, that’s a funny story”. He started. Oh boy… here we go. “We were on a trip for our pack- my dad is really close with the Alpha- and we were driving through that town with the big bear statue by the gas station. Have you seen that bear? My dad is way bigger than it!”
“The point.” I snapped. “Get to it.” I dropped my deer- yet again. And sat on my haunches waiting for the little brat to get on with it.
“Oh, right.” This pup was seriously testing my patience. “Well, we stopped to use the bathroom and I got bored waiting on them, so I decided to go explore. Then this hunter showed up and started chasing me and then I found you and you scared him away and now, here we are.” His little eyes stared at me with innocent light-heartedness. Pathetic.
“Well then go back.” It seemed like the obvious thing to do, but for some reason he was still planted in front of me.
“Um… I don’t know the way.” His face shifted into a look of confusion and maybe even a little fear. A slight whine escaped his muzzle and he curled his tail around his side for comfort.
You had to be kidding me. Of all the places this puny little pup could run, why did he have to come here? I looked around at the trees and brush before my eyes went to the deer at my feet. Looked like I wouldn’t be eating it anytime soon.
“Give me a minute.” I groaned and started dragging the deer the remaining distance to my den. The pup followed close by the entire way, head and tail held high. My fur was bristled on my neck. I was annoyed to say the least.
“Whoa… is this where you live?” He asked as we approached the rock overhang that marked the entrance to my den. “Do you live alone? Oooh! Are you a rogue?!”
I drug my now postponed lunch into the back of my den and made sure to rub my scent all over the area so other animals wouldn’t get any wise ideas. Coyotes are a pain in the ass- trust me.
“No, I’m not a rogue. I’m just alone.” I said as I picked my rucksack up between my teeth. Unfortunately, they didn’t make werewolf friendly travel bags. Go figure.
“Because I like it that way!” I snapped as I left my den. “Now come on, we can make better time in wolf form.” Another downside of bipedal status- slow as molasses.
“Where are we going?” The pup asked as he bounded after me.
“I’m taking you back to your parents so you can get out of my hair, brat.” I grumbled.
“My name isn’t brat!” The pup growled. I had to admit, the attempt at ferocity was kind of cute.
I continued trotting through the woods, making my way to the town that was home to the gas station bear. “Then what is it, brat?” I emphasized the last word, satisfied when I saw his hackles raise.
“It’s Larken.” The little pipsqueak asserted.
“Fine, Larken.” I taunted. “Let’s get you far away from me.”