That night I lay in bed with a sense of dread.
The pale light of the moon shone in through my blinds in thin slants, like ribbons spread out along the walls with silver thread. My hands folded along my torso. They moved with the rising and falling my chest, the expanding and contracting of my rib cage. The air was heavy.
It felt like I couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t know how late it was, but I knew it was late. When I felt myself begin to drift off, my eyes snapped open again as though something had startled me. But there was nothing. I listened to my dad’s heavy footsteps as he climbed up the stairs, the soft yellow light going out to reveal complete blackness from the space underneath my door. I felt alone. Surrounded by my own irrational fear. I knew it was coming.
It crept in slowly.
The pain was barely there, and then it came at me all at once. The agonizing throbbing of my brain splitting apart, the left and right sides sending off signals of pain to the nerves as blood pounded through the veins that wrapped around my neck, connected to my heart.
My head was splitting.
The threat of panic closed my throat, made it so my breaths were shallow and shrill, making whistling sounds in the silence of my bedroom. I got up. It was hard to move. Everything hurt. I moved to open the window, to breathe in some fresh night air. And when I did, it was waiting for me. It seemed that it had been there all along.
Watching. Waiting. Ever-expectant. The eyes glittered. Intelligence radiated off of the shine. The creature looked right at me. My breathing hitched. Oddly enough, I felt myself begin to calm through the startling pain. I breathed a little easier, the sounds smoother and less ragged. I became more distant from myself. In another world entirely.
I got the strange feeling that it wanted me to go to it.
Like it beckoned to me from the tree line, the thickness of the green shrouding its blackness in the dark. Mindlessly, I removed my hand from the window and made my way down the stairs.
The night air was cool when I walked out onto the deck, closing the sliding glass door all the way behind me. As though I wouldn’t be coming back out. The air smelled sweet and woodsy. Familiar smells accompanied by the dull throbbing in my brain, the rush of blood through my body at an alarming rate.
It was still there.
I told myself not to move. To be careful. But somehow, I don’t know if it was the pain or if I was simply out of it, but my head couldn’t connect with my body. The fear didn’t reach me. I studied the wolf. It studied me. Those golden eyes were all that I could see, their likeness floating around in my swimming head, the blood singing in my ears.
I breathed, inhaling and exhaling. The warmth crept up my spine, lingering at the base of my neck. I was sweating through my tank top. I didn’t move. I couldn’t cry out. I stood there in the sweltering night, staring at those eyes. They were the source of my life, the beginning and ending of everything that I had ever known. Although inexplicably strange and foreign, there was something about them that was startlingly familiar.
The heat was becoming too much to bear. It stung me all over my body, the flames licking against my skin in a gentle yet calculated assault. Something was happening. Something that I knew I couldn’t control.
My disjointed head told my body not to move. But I did so anyway. I felt the smooth grass against the soles of my feet as I walked slowly along, the heat surrounding me. Those eyes. The creature didn’t move. No sudden movement. I walked through fire as I neared it, coming closer to the hazy tree line. My heart drummed in my ears, my breaths hitched. A strange calm overtook me. I stood so close to the wolf that I could have reached out and touched it.
It was beautiful. The dark hide seemed to glow in the night despite its blackness. The face was stunningly symmetrical. Its ears were perked. Alert. The intelligence from the eyes seemed to read me. To study me with a quiet acknowledgement. I had crossed into its territory. It was no longer in mine.
I had left behind everything familiar to me. My home. My family. For the cold hands of the night and the twisted hands of fate.
The heat continued to spread, the burning intensifying by the second. I was numb to it although it was all that I felt. My head throbbed. I couldn’t see anything but those eyes. Something passed between me and the beautiful creature. As I sweltered in the cool air, an image, a voice, echoed through my head. Infiltrating my thoughts.
Run, the voice said, deep and unfamiliar.
I didn’t think as I ran forward, my feet carrying me to places that I didn’t know if I was prepared to witness. The heat burned along my spine, curving along every crevice, every muscle and every bone. It was around me and all within me. I jumped over the wolf with a speed and a grace unprecedented by me. Everything that I did was disconnected from my former self, whom I had shed like an unwanted skin.
The fire burned my body away in an agony that I had never before experienced. My head split, one final crack, as I landed onto the wet earth, crumpling to the ground in a heap of burning flesh.
I faded away. Reborn into the earth.
The last thing that my clouded eyes saw through the agony was the golden eyes. Watching.