Jerry Holt followed the path onto higher ground, his heightened senses telling him that the wolf was ahead of him, and moving fast. What he didn’t stop to think was why the she-wolf had not disappeared into the night, gliding, as she was capable of doing, into the bushes and undergrowth.
He stopped when the path terminated. The moon, full and luminous above him, peeked through the up to now thick forest. The vague light exposed shadows of an opening. A cave. And the wolf, he was sure, had disappeared into that cave. He paused, weighing the odds this was her den, and when confronted by man, would defend her cubs to the end. Jerry loosened the guard on his pistol, wishing now he’d drawn the rifle from its scabbard in the back seat of his new Ford 250. But he’d never dreamed he’d be able to follow the wolf more than a few hundred yards. And by the time he realized he was on a clear path, it was too late. Go back for the rifle, and chance losing the wolf, or continue on, relying on his luck and skill with the forty five. He drew closer to the opening and leaned down, listening hard. The opening wouldn’t allow him to stand upright. Another disadvantage.
Jerry turned to leave, but a slight noise of whimpering stopped him. Whimpering? Was it cubs? And were they alone? A bonus for him. The collector of unusual animals who had commissioned him for this would be ecstatic. He could double his fee. He’d only meant tonight to see where she went to ground, and come back with traps and lures, not even thinking about the possibility of cubs. But this was a chance too good to pass up. He pulled off his back pack and rummaged through it. There, at the bottom, a large, sturdy burlap bag. He pulled it free with the knee pads it was wrapped around. He discarded the pack. He wouldn’t need it for this, and could retrieve it later. There was nothing in it to attract an animal and the scent of it might ward off the mother wolf – if she wasn’t inside. Jerry pulled on the knee pads, and tucked the bag in his belt, making sure it didn’t hang low enough to impede his forward motion as he crawled.
He ratcheted down his six foot two frame, thankful for his lean proportions, and for the leather tie around his dark hair, pulling it to the back, out of the way of clear vision or low hanging branches. He thought now that the circumstances were weird – a mother wolf leading him directly to her cubs. And wondered that he’d seen her at all, driving along the darkened road through the Canadian forest. There were so few of these unprotected areas left. He’d had to leave the U.S. – there were none there that weren’t privately owned, or government protected. So he was here, in Canada, and soon it would be winter. Easier to see the wolves, but harder to survive the cold and snow.
The lure of the huge commission made it worth the risks. Jerry usually brought a team of men, but he needed the money – all of it. His ex-wife Evelyn was threatening to have him arrested and thrown in jail for back alimony and child support. Stupid bitch. As if Evelyn couldn’t make it on her own. She had a great job, with plenty of benefits. The fact that she had student loans out the wazoo was her problem. Nobody told her to go back to school when they divorced. Let alone go for a Masters degree in – what was it again – oh, yeah, finance. Let her pay her own loans – he knew she had the potential now to earn far more than he ever would. So what if she wouldn’t have had to get the loans if he’d paid the court ordered amounts. Her choice.
Maybe if she’d produced a son. A boy he could teach the ways of the woods. Someone to teach his skills with rifle, pistol and knife. But no. She’d had a girl and named her – against his own wishes – Elizabeth Michelle, after both their mothers. As if that could make a difference to him. But she was a cute little thing, all blue eyes and black hair – she took after him, he had to admit. And it was sweet, he guessed, the way she cried if he canceled a visitation. And when he did collect her for an evening at McDonalds, she was so quiet, watching him all the time. Which wasn’t often, even if the courts refused to agree to Evelyn’s action and cut him off from visitations just because he was behind on the money. A father has rights. He would have stayed with Evelyn, even so, if she hadn’t started denying him his man’s rights. Threw him out of her bedroom. Saying until he grew up, there would be no chance of a son. Stupid bitch. A man had rights.
So what if he’d started sleeping with every willing bitch. No need for the stupid cows to know he’d punctured every one of his condoms. He had the way of it, nearly undetectable. Right through the package with a thin needle. But none of them turned up pregnant – yet. But they would. Sooner or later. He could feel it. He’d get his son – his way.
The whimpering came again. Now he went down on hands and knees, a light fastened to his head, but not turned on. He wouldn’t risk it until he had to. For now, he’d rely on his senses. Just like his father before him, listening, smelling, touching. For the cave had no light to see by. He crawled in, placing each hand, each knee slowly, so as not to disturb small rocks in his path. He’d gone about fifty feet, and it had taken him, he estimated, about half an hour. The whimpering was louder now, but he still didn’t risk the light. He could hear at least two of them.
Jerry sensed the expansion of space as he slid forward two more feet. He was in a larger cavern, he could feel air movement, and a small opening to one side allowed the moon to peek in and create shadows where before was absolute dark. It wasn’t enough to see the pups. But he didn’t need to. He could hear them, still whimpering, still alone. He moved towards the tiny sound then stopped, reaching above him, and feeling nothing but space. He stood, slowly, still with hands over his head, but there was only empty space, no confining cave roof. He must be in a very large cavern.
Jerry stood for a moment, waiting for additional sounds, but heard nothing. He stepped forward, slowly, so as not to disturb the small creatures straight ahead of him. His foot, sliding forward, came in contact with a ridge in the floor. He raised his foot slowly. No matter. Only about an inch higher. He stepped up and over, then brought the other foot forward. He was close now. Maybe ten feet from the cubs. He moved another foot closer.
He felt a touch of envy. Some male wolf, a lower order of species than man, yet the wolf begat children. Jerry bet himself they were male cubs too. Virile, strong cubs. Too bad they had to end up in a cage for some rich dude’s private zoo. They probably deserved better. But so did he. He seldom admitted to himself how driven he was to produce sons. Not only for his own pride, but to save face. Already his buddies were ragging on him about only being able to get one child – and a girl at that. Where were the sons, they taunted, sons to carry on the tradition of manhood?
Wasn’t it enough that he proved his manhood constantly? Going after wild game, capturing it live. Not shooting them dead to hang on walls, though he did a little of that, too. But mostly, Jerry took the more dangerous assignments – bringing back live bears, wolves, and other animals for the private zoos.
Another step forward and a metal clang rang behind him. Startled, Jerry wheeled, but could see nothing. He moved back towards the sound, something within him frightened. His hands stretched out in front of him – to meet metal bars. He grabbed along them, looking for the opening he now knew he had stepped through. But there was no opening. Only more bars. He had to chance something more, he had to know. He reached up and turned on the light on his forehead, and what he saw had him staggering backwards.
The mother wolf. She had shoved the large door closed. She stood just beyond the cage door, staring at him. Her fur, a shiny silver and black, glimmering slightly in the moonlight. Her dark eyes, boring into his, unafraid…and wholly intelligent. But that wasn’t the worst. She was standing upright. On her hind feet. And in her front paw was a ring of iron, a large key dangling from it. As Jerry watched, she dropped to all fours, yipped once, and picked up the key ring in her mouth. From behind him scurried two cubs, around the edge of the cage, following their mother out of the cave. As they left, he could barely make out – yes – she turned her head for one last look at him, and a sound gurgled out of her. In the shock of capture, he thought it was a laugh.
Jerry was alone in the dark. Well, not quite dark. He still had his head light. He moved around the cell, realizing as he did so that there was a bunk, a rather large bunk, at the back of the cell. Other than that, the cell was empty. And the cavern, what he could see of it in the dim light from his beam, was empty too. Only a small impression behind his cell, with bits of what he assumed to be fur tufting at the edges of the small dent in the floor. Obviously, the cubs had used it for a while – maybe even generations of cubs. He wondered if this truly was the she-wolf’s lair. Then he stopped, staring wide eyed at the metal bars surrounding him. Realization froze his spine. This was no ordinary wolf.
Jerry sat down on the bunk, and reached with his hands to either side of his thighs. The bunk had a soft mattress on it. Very soft. Very comfortable. And that frightened him. A lot. More even than last year when the wild boar charged him.
He sat for a long time. Hours Jerry guessed. After an hour or so, he had reached up to his head light, and switched it off. As frightening as the dark now was, he knew he might need the light later. He turned it back on, once, and moving to the edge of the cage, urinated into the cubs’ impression. He wasn’t sure what the mother wolf’s reaction would be, but he sensed she would not bring her cubs back here, and the small rebellion felt good.
He tried his cell phone but, as he suspected, there was no signal. He turned off the tiny connection to the outside world. It would do no good to wear down the battery. Maybe if he escaped….
Jerry inspected the door, shaking it, pushing his knife into the lock opening, accomplishing nothing but the breaking off of the tip in the lock to his frustration. Finally, all routes of escape he could think of – including making sure the top of the cage wasn’t open – he lay down on the soft mattress against the back bars and slept.
A small noise woke him, and he lay immobile, holding his breath, wondering what had woken him. The scraping noise came again, and still he waited, sniffing quietly, identifying the fur smell. If the she-wolf was back, maybe she’d come into the cell, and he could use his pistol. He reached down slowly, but the holster was empty. When had his gun been taken from him? Why hadn’t he used it when he was first captured? Then he realized he’d been too stunned by the sight of the wolf standing upright to think of defense. And now, now it was too late. But why had she left him his knife? He reached slowly into the knife scabbard and drew the now damaged, but still dangerous weapon.
But the scraping noise stopped, and Jerry sniffed, then realized that the slightly musky fur smell was again absent. He sat up, gripping the knife in his right hand, ready to thrust, and reached his left hand up to his light. At first he saw nothing. Then, tilting his head downwards, he spotted the new feature to his cell. A small dish had been pushed through a slotted opening at the bottom of the cage door. He stood and moved over to it. Liquid. Water? He suddenly realized he didn’t care. He was thirsty. Very thirsty.
Jerry raised the bent tin dish to his nose, and sniffed. It smelled a little odd, but he put that down to the less than fresh liquid in it. He thought for a moment, shrugged, and slurped down the cool liquid, letting it slide down his throat. He set the now empty dish back in the opening, and started back to his bunk. He’d nearly reached it when he lurched, his head swimming, and his vision blurring the walls around him. He fell on the mattress, not quite unconscious, but nearly nauseated from the water. Drugged.
The dream continued, Jerry thought hazily, as he reached up to grasp the woman’s breasts. She was beneath him, and he was thrusting, thrusting, into her tight place, impeded slightly by a strange soft lump against his chest. Her skin was soft, but felt…unusual. He didn’t care, he was almost there, thrusting again and again, desperate to reach release. His vision was still blurred, so he closed his eyes, concentrating as his face contorted in the agony of near-release. Again. Again. Now. Ahhhh. Then he collapsed on top of her back, not caring if he was crushing her, he was so exhausted by the effort. He slept.
When Jerry woke, his vision was clear. His head lamp was off, he realized, as he reached up to the switch. Now when had he remembered to do that? No matter. A slight discomfort around his scrotum made him reach down, to realize his pants and shorts were down at his knees and the slight discomfort was the air hitting his flaccid and somewhat sticky penis. That had been some dream, he thought, pushing against his heels and lifting his butt off the mattress and yanking his pants upwards. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so vivid a dream that he’d actually undressed himself to get to his penis in his sleep. Too bad it was wasted on a dream. It had been a powerful release, he was sure. And sure to have impregnated anything but a sleep fantasy.
Jerry thought about his little Elizabeth, the memory of her happy smile of greeting, the feel of her soft shining dark hair intruding into the horror he was now enduring. He should have visited her more, he thought, now he would probably die here, never seeing her sweet face again. Then he thought about the small boys he wouldn’t father, that would never having the chance to grow learning from him woods wisdom and animal savvy. Maybe, maybe he was even sorry he hadn’t made more of an effort to come up with money for his daughter’s support. He shoved that fleeting thought away. Too late now, anyway. He shrugged.
Later, the scraping came again, and he decided to ignore it. He was still uncomfortable by the vivid nature of his dream, brought on, he was sure, by whatever was in the water. But the lure of the sustenance contained in the water became too much after another hour and Jerry stood, switching on his light to find the dish had, as he expected, been filled. But this time, there was food…of a sort. Raw fruits and some kind of nut clustered in the dish. And he was so hungry. He stumbled over to the dish, and reaching down, picked it up and brought it to his nose. He couldn’t smell anything unusual, and the food actually looked good. His belly growled its vote. He ate, standing at the cage door, not even bothering to cross to the bunk. The juice from the fruit satisfied his thirst as well, and the nuts gave a welcome burst of protein.
But he had made a mistake, he thought soon after all the food was gone. Jerry moaned, his vision blurred, and he reached out to grip the bar, trying to remain steady. Maybe if he stayed on his feet, he wouldn’t fall asleep. And dream. But he was wrong. The dream came anyway. A woman came through the now open door. He struggled to move to the opening, to what he knew, in the dim recesses of his subconscious, was escape. But his feet stayed still. His hand fumbled for the knife holster, as he spoke to distract her.
“Who are you? Wha…wha…do you…” But the words wouldn’t form, and he lost the thread of them as his head whirled.
Hands came to his belt pushing aside his groping hand, and the dark brown hair on the top of her head brushed his chin, then was gone. She knelt as she drew his pants downward, and her mouth closed around his member. Oh, god. Thoughts of escape disappeared into the darkness. Jerry couldn’t ever remember a woman’s mouth able to close around his entire member. He was proud of its length and breath. And it stiffened with the liquid caress of her mouth, sucking, sucking it to fullness, sharp teeth scraping, arousing him even more. Then they were on the bunk. His swirling mind unable to grasp how they’d got there, but again, she was beneath him and he was thrusting, thrusting, even more powerfully than the last dream.
And, again, exhausted by the powerful orgasm, he collapsed against her strong softness, managing to stroke her stiff brown hair once, twice, down her body, before sleep overcame him. This time, when he woke, he wasn’t surprised to find his lower half naked. But when he reached down for his jeans, they weren’t puddled around his lower legs. He sat up, startled, and turned on the head light that again had been turned off. His jeans and shorts were not on the bed. He leaned over the edge of the bunk. They weren’t on the dirt floor either. They were…gone. He sat for a moment, thinking about it. And the growing horror that the missing clothes implied. His penis, again flaccid and sticky, told him he’d reached orgasm again, but with whom? Or…with what?
Jerry determined, in spite of his horror, to discover the truth. When the scraping sound came again several hours later, he flipped over in the bunk and turned on the light. A woman was stooping to place the plate again at the opening, her long brown hair falling forward, hiding her face.
“What do you want with me? Why are you keeping me here against my will?” Jerry said. “You have no right to…to force me to fuck you. What can you possibly want with me?”
When she stood, he cried out. Instead of a woman’s face staring back at him, a delicately formed, but no less non-human she-wolf’s visage met his gaze. She smiled a wolf’s smile, and turned her head to the side, growling slightly as she did so, “Sons – strong sons.”
He couldn’t have heard her right – it couldn’t be. Wolves didn’t talk. Nor did they fuck humans. “You can’t. It’s not right.” But the wolf-woman ignored him and turned slightly, nodding behind her.
Two more wolves, standing on hind legs, came forward. One was the silver black he remembered from before, but the other was the brown fur…that he remembered from his most recent dream. The she-wolf/woman reached out, and unlocked the door, reaching down to pick up the dish of liquid. The three of them came towards him, and he crouched backwards against the bars behind the bunk. Two of them held him, while the third tipped the dish of liquid into his forced open mouth. And the nightmare began again. And Jerry would get his sons…sort of.
# # #
Carole Kuczynski’s Bio: After many years of looking at columns of numbers as accountant, CPA, and finance executive for a small urban regional transit authority, I chucked it all and began to seriously address the business of writing full time, after years of part-time attempts. A graduate of several Writers’ Retreat Workshops, and attendee of Killer Nashville, I also freelance for companies and agencies, creating, among other services, product descriptions and product layouts for on-line websites. I currently have several novels in queue as I search for the right agent for my psychic mysteries about an investigator with ‘finding’ abilities.