I sped walked the rest of the way until I stood beside her and together, we peaked through the cave and at the other side.
I gasped in surprise.
It was as the rumors said.
Garden of the wolves.
Among the many trees and shrubs, there stood many statues of both wolves and people...which took me by surprise because I thought it was only going to be wolf statues.
Old vines clung to the statues as tree roots sprung from the ground and staked their claim around the foot of the statues. The area was strangely silent. No rustle of trees, no sightings of birds or the sound of any wildlife anywhere. It was as if the place was barren from all life except the lingering vegetation.
Liza moved from beside me in awe and started trekking away, her fingers sliding against the stone sculptors. Neither of us talked, afraid of breaking the peaceful silence that had befell this place.
I eyed the positions of each statue curiously. They all seemed so real. The features of the people were so enhanced and profound that if it was painted in color you would have mistaken them for real people. Their eyes were wide with terror and their mouths were gaping open in a silent plea for help. Some were frozen in running positions while others were stooped, cowering from an unknown force.
The wolves were a different scenario. Some were crouched on their hind legs, fur bristling and lips curled back into snarls as they prepared to launch themselves at the enemy. By looking into their eyes, you could see the hatred and slight fear as they wrestled with whatever foe was harming them. Other wolves were on the ground, injured. Some with chunks of skin torn out and others with scratch marks across their face and stomachs. Why was this so realistic?
I appraised the artist who had such a vivid imagination that he created these that could almost classify as real. The pained and agonized look in their eyes pulled at my heart and I couldn’t help grazing my fingers across their faces. Feeling the rough exterior of the cement structure as the moss clung to my hand as I pulled away.
Deep fascination raged within me as I watched a statue of a woman clinging on to the baby that resided in her arms. Her eyes were brimmed with tears as she rushed along. The more I gazed at her face the more I saw. The depth of her eyes was speaking of never-ending sorrow and imprisonment of her sanity. I didn’t know where it came from but I somehow yearned to help her even though I knew she wasn’t real.
Then it happened. She blinked. Or at least I thought she did.
I yelped in surprise and retreated away from her, fear clutching my heart and increasing its pace. I shook the image from my mind as the unease slowly filtered back. The curiosity that once surrounded me was now gone. My awareness came back in full swing.
I turned my back on the statue and rushed away, in search of Liza so that we could get the hell out of here. There was this ominous feeling that clung to my shadow as I went through rows upon rows of statues searching for my best friend.
I froze as a voice echoed throughout my head, my spine standing at attention and gathering tension in each part of my body.
I listened for the voice again, but it never came.
The urge to continue walking hit me with force and I couldn’t resist the temptation as my limbs betrayed me and continued my path through all the different positions of these statues. Each step I took was laced with anticipation and I couldn’t find it in myself to mutter a word throughout all this silence. Something told me not to. Something urged me on ahead and I listened without reason, finding it incredibly hard to resist the smooth, calming aroma that washed over me as my heart sang in utmost joy and excitement.
I came to a stop before a towering wolf that stood tall on all fours. Unlike the other statues, this wolf stood with pride, his chest puffed out with dominance and his eyes glancing at the scene before him, bright with determination.
I stepped closer, curious. My hands urging me to touch its fur that I knew would be bristling with power if he was real. I glanced at his powerful paws and slowly trailed my eyes across his clean and moss free body. Unlike the others, his statue looked completely new. There were no cracks, no moss or dirt. Just smooth cement.
When my eyes met his, this calm feeling cascaded throughout my entire body and I felt the tension slowly slipping away, my mind at peace. I could see myself in those eyes. My dark brown eyes stared back at me with mild fascination and curiosity. It never occurred to me that something was off about me seeing my own reflection.
I raised a hand and carefully placed it on the wolf’s cheek affectionately, rubbing at the smooth surface and moving my hand to grab hold of the ear. I didn’t know what came over me, but I pulled the ear as if it were real, just picturing this wolf in real life purring as I pet it had me smiling.
Then a slight sound was heard.
I was broken out of my trance as a line started to form in the middle of the wolf’s face, splitting right down the middle and spreading throughout his entire body, branching off and creating more cracks and holes in the once solid concrete.
I stumbled back in surprise, “Liza!” I shouted for the raven-haired Latino, my eyes not once leaving the statue that seemed to be crumbling away. My heart sang its nervousness as it waited for something. What? I had no idea.
“I’m over here!” Liza shouted back from a few rows away, her body out of sight. “I’m coming.”
My breathing hitched in my throat as I viewed the dark brown fur that sprouted from the leg that had cement crumbling away from it.
Liza suddenly appeared behind me and I couldn’t help the yelp of absolute terror as she placed a hand on my shoulder. I felt her stiffen beside me as she to gazed at what was happening in front of me.
“What. The. Fuck. Is. Happening?” Liza whispered in astonishment and disbelief.
The voice echoed in my head again.
I took a step back and grabbed a hold of Liza’s hand, “I don’t know about you but I’m leaving this fucked up place.”
Without waiting for her response, I turned and tugged her along and luckily she followed without complaint, both of us running back to the entrance of the cave.
As we left, a loud and threatening growl sounded, urging us to go faster. Our breathing was shallow as we ran, and my legs burned in exhaustion at the speed we were going but adrenaline was high and fear was my determination to get back to the safety of my home and away from the unknown.
My thoughts raced a million miles away from me and buckled over each other in a massive traffic jam as I strained myself to think of a logical situation as to what we just saw. Nothing came to mind. There was none.
Liza slowed down until she came to a complete stop. We had made it at least an hour away from the dreaded cave and somehow, I didn’t feel like we were far enough.
Liza bent and rested her hands on her knees, wheezing and trying to catch her breath.
“Ezmira...please tell me what we saw was some kind of twist up shit our wild imagination conjured up...”
I ignored her words as I tried to catch my breath and slow the erratic beating of my heart. Fear clouded around me and clung to me so hard that I grabbed Liza once more and we continued running away.
Away from that cave.
Away from the silence.
Away from the voice
Away from that statue.
We ran for what felt like hours, stopping every once in a while to catch our breath and rest our aching limbs, but the knowledge of that strange statue had us going, not wanting to stay any longer than we should.
It wasn’t until we escaped the forest and found our car exactly where we parked it, did we breathe a sigh of relief.
We hurriedly jumped into the car and skidded out onto the road, our destination.... home.
How I missed this sort of predicament during my research? I had no idea, but I wasn’t going to stick around long enough to find out.
On our drive home Liza glanced at me cautiously as I gazed out the window blankly, all thoughts non-existent as this numb feeling washed over me.
I gazed at the wild vegetation the car flashed pass, the image of my reflection in the stone eyes of the wolf at the forefront of my mind.
What the hell was going on in this creepy as fuck town?
“There is no logical explanation as to what we just saw. I’m starting to think the pieces of this puzzle goes far beyond our human comprehension.”
We stayed in silence for the rest of the ride home, each of us locked in our own thoughts.
Meanwhile.... back at the garden...