His howl echoed through the night like a police siren. I felt a shiver crawl up my back giving me a chill. My eyes struggled against the oncoming darkness and I knew that this little trip up the mountain was a mistake.
Of all nights that I had to trespass into the world of darkness it was this night. I moved my pumpkins closer and watched as the candles sputtered then caught again. In town it was the night of lost spirits set loose to torment and to torture, while on the mountain among the trees and under the new moon it was the night of the wolf.
“If the wolf is truly your totem, then on All Hallows Eve you must commit. Candles—the only light to keep you company and if it be willed by the beast of night, then a meeting with he, you shall get.”
“This is stupid.” I whispered out loud to no one but myself. The candles flickered again, their wicks running low. The carved faces of the wolf grinned at me making me wish that I had not brought the pumpkins after all.
I jumped at the sound of an animal sniffing nearby to my left. I pulled my legs up to my chest and rested my chin on my knees. Rocking back and forth to keep from shivering, I told myself that there was nothing I should be afraid of.
A chorus of high pitched wails sang behind me. Instinctively my hands reached for my ears and I felt my eyes growing large as I stared into the night.
I’d spent my whole childhood and the majority of my adult life exploring the mountains but even I knew there were limitations and expectations that grew from the darkness of night. Unprotected and unarmed I felt desperate, exposed, and alone.
I searched the night sky for the moon, and not even an outline was visible against the dark. The full knowledge of it sank into me. I’ve always been aware of the moon cycles, and usually know when it’s going to be full and when it’s not.
Stars twinkled and I began to pick out constellations. I could hear the sounds of small creatures scampering around me, and then something brushed by putting out candles in two of the pumpkins behind me. My hair stood on end and I wondered if I was about to meet with a wolf, my guessed totem, or if I was just scaring myself further into the masochistic state I was in.
Rubbing the cold out of my arms I felt my hair stand on end and I quickly looked straight ahead. Two bright gold eyes were reflected at me just beyond the light of my pumpkins. They sat level with my own and although nature dictated that I should have looked down, I stared straight at them, my eyes daring his to come closer, to overpower me, or to just leave me be. It was a struggle to look at those eyes, for I knew that tonight, the night of the wolf, unarmed and alone I was inferior.
I could feel the weight of the pack as it circled me, moving closer, but still I did not move my eyes. One of us would have to break contact and I was going to do my best to make sure that it wasn’t me. In my peripheral vision I could see other sets of eyes appearing near their alpha.
I stood, not taking my eyes away from his in my small circle of wolf carved pumpkins. Without skipping a beat I saw the wolf raise his eyes and his head to the sky and release his call. The other wolves surrounding me echoed his chorus and suddenly my ears were telling me that with my head towards the blackest black I was echoing that call as well. My heart pounded loud in my ears when I realized that I was the last one howling and that their voices had grown silent.
The candles now having burned through the majority of the night, started to flicker their final goodbyes, and as each glutted to darkness, the wind seemed to whisper that my time had come. I slowly gathered myself, stretching the muscles that had grown tired of sitting. The alpha whose eyes I’d been staring into slipped into darkness as did the others with it. I stumbled out of my circle, toppling pumpkins as I went.
As if being pulled, I followed in hot pursuit. Running after them until my lungs burned, my heart pulsing so fast my chest hurt, and the cold numbing my limbs from exhaustion, and even still, I continued.
I found I could no longer feel myself as one, but saw myself floating over watching as my body ran, falling further and further behind the pack I meant to follow. I watched as my body stumbled, fell, and struggled to get back up. Watching from above and seeing my body giving in to it‘s exhaustion, I left it, left me, and followed the wolves as if in a dream.
I caught up much faster than I would have thought. The pack had surrounded a doe and was circling, preparing to take her down for the kill. Caught up in the excitement of things, I almost begged the nearest wolf to share his body with me. I wanted to feel what it was like to be part of the pack…
The chill of the breeze tickling my face along with the feel of ice cold clothing touching my body rose me from my sleep. The sun was already bright overhead. I rolled to my side to find myself amongst scattered pumpkins. Was it all just a dream?