This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A ghost. The one word that fits me a little too well. If I stay quiet, and still long enough. I’m invisible. Nonexistent. Now, a new town. A new family. Another school, or at least starting in a matter of days. Three to be exact. At least I can enjoy the warm Montana air, and get some time to myself before the only place I exist is at my foster mom’s house. My thoughts were interrupted by two boys tackling each other. My foster mother, Melody, had told me to come to the park to make friends. Instead I find myself relaxing in a tree, hidden by leaves. The jacket she made me bring tied around my waist. There was a space above, where the leaves separated enough to view the blue above, and the occasional white puff. I had thought several times to climb higher, but I was perfectly fine between three large branches. I had a better view of the action here anyway. Three more boys joined in, helping the two from the ground, revealing a football. I hadn’t looked around the vast woods by my new home yet, but what I’ve seen so far aren’t as good as this tree. Oh well. I have plenty of time to find one. Melody’s fiance was away on business, He’ll be gone for a while. They have set up for a bus to pick me up in the morning, once school started, but I insisted on walking afterward. I think better on my feet. My thoughts were once more interrupted.
“Hey!” Someone shouted.
I instantly looked over at the group of football players, a wave of green surrounded them. None of them shouted that. My eyes wandered around my line of sight from the tree. No one. I wrapped my arm around one of the branches, the rough texture of the oak’s bark pressed into my skin as I leaned forward. I spotted the short light brown tuft of hair, then I found the hazel-blue eyes staring up at me. He looked impatient, and surprised at the same time. A few soft, dark, golden-brown strands surrounded my face. It seemed like we both were thinking of something to say. My words were along the lines of ‘go away, I’m perfectly fine without you staring at me’. A hint of Silver lined the edge of my site, as my necklace hung down too.
“What are you doing up there?” He asked.
Great. A smart one. He’ll learn quick it’s not a good idea to be too sarcastic around me. He’ll have to deal with it.
“What do you think?” I dropped the words down to him.
“You’re new.” He threw the short sentence to me.
I wasn’t going to ask.
“I know because, one, I’ve never seen you around. And two, I would have known the name of a pretty girl like you.” He said it in a stuck up sort of way.
I was deciding either to jump down and slap him, or let him dig his grave deeper so I could kill him at a later date. He won’t learn anything if he’s dead, I decided. I didn’t want to come out of the tree, but I needed to get headed 'home'. I jumped down, landing in front of him. Surprising him and scaring him at the same time.
“Hey there, Beautiful. My names Dustin.” He smiled. Not for long. I pulled my arm back, smiling. I swiftly brought my hand up, hitting my target. Our smiles disappeared. Dustin was slightly leaned over in pain, a hand over his cheek. He looked up at me, shocked. He was about to speak, but I cut him off.
“The nerve of you.” I growled. “Jerk.” I spat as I turned to my left, and heard mumbling from behind.
“Can you at least tell me your name?” Dustin almost whispered.
Might as well leave this idiot with something. I stopped, and turned my head.
“Alaska.” I answered, and then continued. The wind blew a little, softly moving my hair. It also brought a soft whisper.
“Alaska.” Dustin, amazed, whispered my name.
Once I got to the curb, I put one headphone in, then carried on, walking through the silent town. I was told it was. It has been silent so far. I looked above me, birds flew from branch to branch. I smiled. As I walked on, I took in my surroundings, so full of life. I had a little over half a mile walk to get back to my new home. I made my way through town, eventually getting to the edge of the city boundaries. Trees of all types started right after the border. The leaves rustled with the slightest push of the wind. The distant sound of dogs barking came with it. I crossed the border, feeling the security of the protective walls of trees around me. I walked forward for a while, running my hand along the varying bark textures. A damp smell lingered in the air, giving me a strange feeling, but I soon shook it off at the sound of running water. Soon I spotted the source of the sound, as a creek ran right under a small stone bridge. I stopped right at the bridge, watching the water. It was the same one that ran near the house. I didn’t doubt it was a quicker way home. Might as well try it, I thought. I walked beside the stream for a while, still listening to music. I stopped, and took the watch out of my pocket, looking at the time. A little past four. I still have time. As soon as the song ended, I stuffed my headphones into my pocket. My hair instantly stood up. I could tell something was wrong. I stayed alert, making each step silent. I quickly took in my surroundings, looking in every possible direction ahead, with each step. I followed the stream a little more. It soon broke in two, the other circling back into the woods. The wind bounced off each tree. The sound of barking grew closer, yet still far off. Then, the almost silent, weak sound of whimpering followed. Both my gut and instincts said it was none of my business, it’s on someone else’s property. The whimpering grew weaker. The dogs, a little closer. My legs strained, ready to run. My instincts and muscles both screamed to turn and run. I still walked forward. My eyes continuously scanned the area ahead. If I wasn’t so alert, I would have missed it. I stopped instantly. A mound of light, dusty grey and muddy fur was collapsed next to the creek. I could only see a little of the animal, since the trees abstracted my view. Red streaks ran down one side. Its sides rose up and down as it breathed. I moved closer. The mound of fur took the shape of a dog. I could see its coat was a mix of grey and white. I stopped next to its head, and crouched down. All that I had been taught about strange dogs, told me to turn and run. No. I ran my hand through her silky fur.
“Hey, it’s ok. I’m here to help.” I whispered. When I lifted my hand, streaks of red caught my attention. I looked at my hand, it was dotted with dust and mud, but most of all, my hand was streaked with blood. My eyes widened a little. Her side was torn. Bite marks were all over her. I looked at her, and Ice blue eyes stared back. A weak growl hardly even escaped.
“I’m here to help.” I repeated.
The dogs barking grew closer. I looked in the direction the sound came from. Her ears perked that way, she was on alert too. I untied the jacket around my waist, and set it on the wounded dog’s side.
“I’m sorry.” I apologized as I picked her up. She yelped loudly next to my ear. I walked in the direction of the road, making footprints. She yelped even louder. I adjusted her so her head and paws were over my shoulder. She’s so light. My hair stood on end, when the dogs barking sounded closer. Instinct told me to find the road, but they might think that too. The dogs that were barking had to be hunting dogs, which means they had a master. I turned around, facing the stream again, and I went as quickly as I could, making sure I didn’t make any tracks. I looked at the jacket on the dog in my arms. I hope it’s enough to throw the hunting dogs off, until I get help. I didn’t think if the direction I took off in led to home or not. My main concern was the sound of barking, getting too close for comfort. After a little while I stopped. Slowly, I spun around, trying to recognize anything around me. I heard the almost silent murmuring of a stream, so I started walking that way. That was when I heard the single half growl behind me. I took the silver-white dog’s head and tucked it under my chin. How did they catch up so fast? I wanted to demand. My legs burned to run. A silent wind overtook everything. Out of nowhere, there was a double click, of metal sliding against metal. I took that chance to run. All my knowledge advised to go the opposite direction of the stream, yet I ran ahead. As I ran, I repositioned the dog in my arms, zig-zagging the whole time, so I could run faster. The explosion of sound of the gun going off, soon replaced by the ricocheting bullet, caused adrenaline to run through me like it was all I was made of. What the hell? I ran faster than I thought possible. I heard a voice behind me as I ran.
“Dad! It’s not worth it!” The boy’s voice sounded as if he was my age, but I wasn’t about to turn around and find out. I was too far to hear the reply. I didn’t slow down, I only got faster, dodging the trees. Eventually I risked looking behind. No one. Yet the barking was gradually coming closer. I slowed down a little. I let the side of my face rest against her tangled, silky fur, as I ran my hand along the top of her head.
“We’re almost there.” I promised.
Hopefully. I picked up my pace when I spotted a small clearing. As I passed the ending of the treeline, I saw a worn, dirt path. My eyes followed to a small cabin like house on my right. I realized that I was truly lost. My hair stood on end as the barking picked up again. I hurriedly moved forward. I was starting to get the impression that the house was abandoned, when the door opened. He was tall, with long black hair, and dark skin. His wide shoulders announced strength. My eyes pleaded. The barking came closer. I glanced that way, then back at the hard, light brown eyes, in front of me. He nodded once, all the signal I needed, and followed him inside. The door shut behind me. He picked up a blanket from the back of a chair, then faced me again.
“Is it illegal?” He asked, his voice deep and accusing.
“No sir.” I answered hoarsely.
He pointed to a closet, and opened it.
“In here.” He almost ordered.
I sat in the back corner, and he covered the dog in my arms with the blanket.
“This is to help cover the scent.” He explained.
The coats and shirts almost hid me. Barking erupted outside. The man stood, and shut the door, leaving a slight crack. Someone pounded on the door. The man opened the door. The other was almost as tall as the first, but he had lighter skin, and hair. The dogs poked their noses through the opened doorway into the house, pulling against the shorter boy holding their collars. The second man held a rifle, pointing it to the ground. He moved as if to push passed the first, but he blocked the other’s way.
“What is your purpose here.” He demanded.
“A dog. We’re after a dog.” The other said. “Someone took off with it before we could find it. They were headed this direction, Baron. Have you seen her?”
“No, and by the looks of that rifle, I wish them the best of luck.” Baron said briefly.
“You-” The other raised his rifle, and Baron grabbed a gun behind him, and closed the chamber. A shotgun. Outmatched, the second man lowered his rifle, about to speak, but was cut off.
“Get off my property before I start adding up charges. I won’t hesitate to press them this time Cullen.” Baron promised. “Now.”
The other man opened his mouth, but quickly shut it, and turned around.
“C'mon Micha.” He said leaving.
I let out the breath I had been holding. My pounding heart marking each passing second.
“They’re gone.” The man’s deep voice rang throughout the silence.
I stood, letting the blanket slide off of her, and nudged the door open with my shoulder.
I stared at him. “Thank you.” Was all I managed to say.
The man pointed the gun at the roof, pulling the trigger. A hollow click filled the entirety of the room. He had bluffed. In that moment she became heavier in my arms, I came close to dropping her.
“Set it down here.” Baron pointed at a small, square, table near the far corner of the room.
I set her down, and got out of the mans way, as he brought over a first aid kit.
“I found her lying next to a stream, so she may have some dirt in her wounds.” I explained.
He grabbed a bowl and towel. “Her?” Baron questioned as he filled the bowl in the nearby kitchen.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Just a feeling.”
Setting the bowl on the table, he looked at me.
I stepped forward. “Do you need my help?”
“No” His response was quick, Baron turned to me once again, and pointed down a hallway. “Bathroom’s that way, first door to your left.” He paused. “ You should get washed up.”
I got the feeling that he was trying to get rid of me, but, for once, I didn’t argue, and silently walked to the bathroom. I closed the door behind me. It wasn’t huge, yet, there was enough space between the counter, toilet, and shower, to seem a little homey. There was a large mirror above the sink, spanning the whole length of the counter.
Vibrant, green eyes stared back at me in the reflective glass. Traces of amber tried to make it’s presence known under the blanket bright green. The left eye’s color was slightly faded, unnoticeable unless someone stared. Bangs on both sides covered most of her forehead. The left eyebrow, a long faded scar left a bare streak. Hidden underneath, red stained, dark golden brown hair, marks a scar, and birthmarks, that almost formed the shape of a pawprint. The person in front of me should be a complete stranger. With mud, and dried blood patching one side of her face. But no. That is Alaska, Merle, Troy. The person I had, have, become. I’ve lived all over this country. A lone wolf, of sorts. A shadow passing by. I’ve heard of kids who have it better than I do, by a few, important, details, who are silent. Yet. I beat the odds. I’ve heard a long time ago to stay out of things. I’ve heard a lot of things. Smart people would follow that wisdom. I’m not them. I thought of the muddied mound of silver and white. I am not them. I turned on the water, the cold sinking into my skin, and running through my veins. I splashed the icy water on my face, my eyes finding the stains still there, I pushed down the stopper. I held my face under the water, and scrubbed a few times. After seeing my face clear, I grabbed a towel that was near me. The cold water helped to clear up my thoughts. I was drying my face and hair, when a sharp, weak, yelp cried out from the living room. My fists tightened around the towel. I hated that sound, it sent chills up my back. I waited a little longer before I opened the door. I glanced to see Baron knotting up the last group of stitches. Bandages wrapped around the dogs legs, and around her sides. He carefully lifted her, and placed her on the rug in front of an ash filled fireplace. I sat below the window, across the room from her. The sun shining through it revealed a white undercoat. Silver marked, what was visible, of her sides, and on top of her head. The coat pattern reminded me of a husky.
“How did you get out here?” Baron’s voice was deep.
“I was walking home. Took a shortcut, and found her.” I answered.
“And how far is, home, exactly?” His voice sounded even more accusing.
“It’s the first house that way.” I pointed at the brick overhang of the fireplace. “Is she a husky?” I quickly asked so he wouldn’t go on about me.
“Mostly yes.” Barron sighed. “ She also has a little Alaskan Malamute in her.” He sat down, his expression became serious as he looked at her. “And wolf.”
I looked at her, the reflection of all three formed into one. The look of a Husky. Instincts of a Malamute. And genes of a wolf.
“Is your name Baron?” I wondered out loud.
He looked at me from the corner of his eye, his lips curling into a smile. “Baron Orin Russells.” He paused. “But most people call me Bo.” He turned his head more towards me.
“Alaska Troy.” I introduced.
There was a long silence that overlapped the room.
Bo turned to me in his chair. “Well Alaska. The boy who was with Cullen, that’s his boy Micha. Good kid. But his father always will find out anything he tries to hold back. Stay away from him. To keep her safe.” He advised, looking at the wolf dog. I thought about the fluffy yellow-brown hair that edged through the door only half an hour ago. I stayed for a little while longer, finding out a little more about Bo, and this town. In one of our conversations, it came up that he was a Native American, or had the bloodline for one. Then, before I knew it, I was walking through Bo’s front yard, breathing in the mixed smell of leaves and sap, as I walked through the woods once more.
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