The Mournful Howl

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Chapter 9

Jayne wiped the sheet of sweat from her forehead as she sat down to eat her lunch, enjoying the view offered from the high overlook.

From here she could see Mount Baker and far below Baker Lake.

Sighing contentedly, she pulled out her log book and double checked what she'd done so far.

She'd already planted eight of her cameras, though she didn't see any real signs of wolf activity Jayne didn't let it worry her. She knew she was on the very edge of the area that the pack could be inhabiting.

Finishing her protein bar, Jayne made sure to tuck the wrapper into her trash bag before syncing it closed.

Rising, she dusted moss from her backside before slinging her pack back into place.

Checking her compass, she turned her feet north and hiked further into the untamed wilderness that called to her.

After another hour, Jayne began to see signs of wolves causing her heart to beat faster.

Pulling out a trail camera, she found a tree that offered a wide view of a game trail that the animals seemed to be using.

As she secured the strap, Jayne heard the sound of running paws coming in her direction.

Grabbing her pack, she quickly sprinted away from the track, finding cover where she could look down and see what was coming.

Watching, she saw five beautiful wolves loping along the muddy path, their tongues lulling out the sides of their muzzles as they ran.

Closing her eyes, Jayne wished she knew what it felt like to be one of them, to feel the breeze ruffle her pelt as she moved across the terrain at full speed.

Sighing sadly as she lost sight of them, she come out of hiding and tried to follow the musty scent trail the pack left behind, but soon it began to dissipate.

"Damn," she hissed, upset at the fact that she'd lost them, but hopeful.

She'd found them, now all she had to do was find them.

Seeing that the animals path had taken her further east than she'd planned, Jayne found a place to sit down and dug out her terrain map, pencil, and log book.

Erasing the remaining fifteen marker's she'd already plotted on the map, Jayne looked at the valley below her and tried to decide where the most likely place a wolf pack would set up their den.

After an hour of calculating, she refolded the map and headed down hill clear headed without pain for the first time in almost ten years.

Running though the wilderness, Gabriel hoped that Jayne would like the earbuds he'd found. They were the same model as the ones he'd caused her to loose.

Would she think he'd bought them for her out of pity? The one thing she seemed to hate more than anything.
Well, he couldn't help it if she did, he felt responsible for their loss, so he needed to replace them.
Stopping abruptly, Gabriel took a deep sniff of the air around him.
Dropping his backpack, he sniffed again, smelling human sweat, alcohol, and gun powder.
'Fucking humans,' he thought, 'hunting drunk.'
Shaking his head, he picked up his bag and crept slowly through the brambles and bracken, making sure that he steered his steps well clear of hunters.
What were they doing out here with guns anyway he wondered. There was only bow hunting allowed for deer and elk, unless they were looking for black bear.
Shaking his head, he waited until he was past the point where they might see him and ran toward his cabin at full speed.
Deciding to hop in the shower before taking Jayne her gift, Gabriel stripped down and scrubbed the sweat and grime from his trip to town.
Pulling on a clean undershirt and flannel, he slipped on fresh underwear and jeans before pulling on his socks and boots.
Taking the clothes he'd worn in town out, he carefully unwrapped the little package he'd tucked inside his undershirt and looked at it.
Such a small box that might bring Jayne a lot of joy.
Smiling to himself, he peeled the backing off the bow before sticking it to the box.
Setting it aside, Gabriel pulled out the biography books he'd gotten at the library and set them on his night stand. The copies that Mary had given him, he took to the small desk he used for work.
Pulling out a folder, he marked it as 'Cuts' and tucked the paper's inside before closing them into his top drawer.
Picking up the small gift, he began the long walk to Jayne's cabin.

Jayne was elated, so much so, she was almost unable to control her glee. She'd found the den!
Making sure she did not disturb the animals, she moved slowly around the perimeter of the pack grounds and strapped the remaining cameras strategically around the area.
While doing this, Jayne looked for a secluded spot to mount a watching station in the trees where she could put her perch and study the animals on a daily basis.
With one camera left, Jayne wanted to make sure she found the perfect placement so she could catch images of the mouth of the den so she could try and get an accurate picture of their day to day comings and goings when she wasn't there.
As she approached the last tree, she felt a sudden jolt of pain as an animal trap clamped around her ankle.
Screaming in abject pain, Jayne fell to the ground trying to pry the trap off with shaking hands.
Unable to get a firm grip, she looked around and found a thick stick that she shoved into the jaws and pressed with all her might until it opened just enough for her to slide her foot free.
Sobbing in agony, Jayne drug her body to the trunk of the nearest tree.
Reaching down, she ran her fingers under her socks, knowing that if she took her boot of she'd be entirely screwed.
Her foot would most likely swell and she'd never be able to get the shoe back on to try and make her way back to her cabin.
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