“The Escape of Motley’s Rose” – Chapter 4

by Aylya Mayze
© 2021 Wittily Writ Publishing

Chapter 4

I would have left the next morning to search for my new home but I had fish to smoke.

Writing that sounds like an excuse. Maybe it was. I had lived in this cave all my life. I knew every inch of it, every nook and cranny. I knew all the land about – all that grew or roamed, even all that passed through. If my family ever came looking, this is where they would come. If…when…I left, they would have no way to find me ever again.

I found myself arguing about if it was really necessary to move. The new neighbors worried me but, with some tips, they might mend. There was a path to my door, but I could plant in it and strew branches and leaves over it to make it seem unused. Even as I thought this, I was smoking my meat over coals in the campfire too near my cave. I could easily mend that, however, once the smoking was done.

My laziness could get me killed, I thought again.

I took the day to pack. I planned on taking all my tools, pots, pans and metal wear with me, which didn’t leave much room for anything else except food and a blanket. I’d have to leave my guitar, my books, even my diary, and all the supplies I had been collecting and making for winter. Chances are, once I found a place, I’d come back to get some of the rest. My new home would have to be far away, or it wasn’t worth the change, so I would be leaving the furniture and shelves – those things I couldn’t carry by myself. That was a lot of dear, familiar things to abandon.

I had trouble resting that last night in my bed. My mind spun trails through the world, seeking which was the best way to go. Somewhere I must have fallen asleep for it seemed to me I arose from my bed as a critter – four legs, a tail, night vision, good hearing and an even better sense of smell. I used to have such dreams a lot. When my family was with me, I used to dream that we all traveled as a pack – my da a wolf, my ma a coyote, and my brother and I something between. In my childhood these were fun dreams, but I had forgotten them of late. Only now, maybe because I was thinking on my family, or maybe because I was tense and sending my mind to explore my way before morning took me there, the dream had returned. This time, however, I was alone.

It didn’t feel as safe as when I was part of a pack. Once I got to running, however, and felt the joy in stretching my long legs and the wind singing stories to my nose, my worry melted away. It was sheer pleasure to be flowing through the moonlight.

My plan had been to head north, away from where I imagined the town lay. I would go about a day’s walk, then veer in a different direction to start searching for another home near enough to water and game but far from men. In my dream, however, I ran east from the start, drawn by a silent promise of wonder. The air started growing milder and sweeter, the further I went, and there was a strange swaying rumble sound far in the distance. I noted territory markings – bears, bobcats, wolves and other critters. Wolves, only, were the ones I needed to heed, since I was exploring and not hunting. They were the only ones likely to give me trouble. Fast and far I roamed, the rumbling growing louder, over mountains and through valleys, until I stood on the peak of a cliff, looking where the land ended at an endless lake rippling, strewn with diamonds of moonlight. Ocean.

The place calmed my agitated soul and refreshed me. I breathed deeply, feeling love suffuse me, and prayed silently to God my thanks for the beauty He had created and shared with me this night. I thought about staying to watch the sunrise over the water, but something tugged at me to return home.

The pull grew stronger the closer I got to my cave, and my hackles raised with a sense of danger. As I neared, I smelled wolves. It smelled like a whole pack – maybe seven or eight. One of them had dared to mark – not a greeting but a challenge. This was MY territory! How dare they!

Where had they come from? Why were they here, where there had never been wolves before…except for Motley. There was no scent of him, however. His was a scent I felt sure I would know, even though I had never smelled it as a critter before.

I moved downwind, slinking behind trees and bushes, and opened my senses. It wasn’t wolves I saw, however, but men.

“She’s not here,” I heard one man shout as he emerged from my cave. I recognized him immediately. Isaac. His eyes caught the moonlight and I saw them, full amber. They had seemed mostly brown before. Why did he smell like a wolf?

He approached a large, older man, who exuded a sense of authority. His da? I noticed Isaac kept his eyes lowered and his head slightly bowed in respect.

”Any sign of where she went?” The man’s voice was deep and strong.

“She’s packed for a trip, taking lots of tools, but all of that is still here.”

I moved slowly and as silently as I could deeper into the shadows. I had to get away.

“She’s around here then. Hunt her.”

With men I had a fair chance to flee. They couldn’t smell me or see well in darkness. They would depend on their ears, which could be fooled by my padded feet if I could keep my breathing controlled. In this dream, however, every instinct urged me to consider them as wolves. I wanted to run, regardless of the noise I might make, and try to put distance between me and this pack before they could surround me. I suppressed the irrational urge, moving downwind only as swiftly as silence would allow, until I sensed one drawing nearer.

“Rose,” he called. He shouted with authority. I could hear that was the alpha and he wanted me to submit to him.

I gave up on silence and ran all out.

They were all chasing. I didn’t need to see or hear, I just knew by the scents. They were getting closer.

I veered toward the river and dived in, a human again, and naked. The frigid water made me want to howl at the same time it robbed me of my breath. I gritted my teeth, swimming with the current. My fingers and toes, then my hands and feet, were going numb with the cold, but all I cared about was getting away.

I could feel the pack falling behind. As I realized I could take the cold of the water no longer, a low branch appeared on the far bank. I grabbed at it, but my hands were too numb to catch and hold. I was able to hook my elbow around it, however, and hoist myself up.

Now would be a good time to turn into a monkey, I thought, or maybe a bird of some kind. Dreams could allow that, but the thought didn’t work. I was still a naked, shivering girl, using elbows and knees to try to clamber up a prickly spruce.

There were sounds from the far side of the bank. It was the shouts of men mixed with the excited barks of wolves. For some reason I understood the wolves better than the men. They had spotted me and were eager to chase. I willed them to jump in the river and be swept away in the current.

From somewhere across the bank I heard a gun fire. Within that instant I felt a blow to the back of my left shoulder, a sudden pain like a stab, knocking me over and out of the tree. I scrambled back to my feet, again as a critter, preparing to run, but it felt as if my legs were quickly losing strength. My senses were dimming. Confusion was setting in. Then the world went black.

Please comment on this chapter, while it is fresh, before proceeding to the next chapter. If you really cannot wait to read on, however, please let me know.

Chapter 5

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