The Wolf Pack

The young filly was such a feeble little thing, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to get her home before the wolves returned. The green meadow grass was splattered with scarlet blood, and the filly’s bay coat was matted with patches of it. She was young, still gangly and too wobbly to stand on her long legs, but I wondered if that wasn’t just exhaustion and shock. Even I was a bit unsteady on my feet, though the pack of sleek gray predators had fled as soon as they saw me.

Strange, I thought, that the wolves would run at the sight of a human, since in this half of the New Continent humans were only allowed as visitors. I was one of those visitors, part of a group that had come to see the splendor of a land where humans were forbade from entry except for short periods, and without the aid of any technology newer than that used in around 1300 C.E. Despite the fact that all of this was meant to keep the human impact on the environment and lifeforms of New Continent to a bare minimum I could not leave the frightened filly to her fate. The dark liquid eyes that stared at me from her narrow face compelled me to lift her trembling body in my arms and carry her back to home camp with me.


Senard glared sullenly at me from under lowered brows. “You are absolutely determined to keep this filly, aren’t you?” he asked.

I glared back at him. “I couldn’t just leave her to die, now could I?”

He snorted derisively. “Of course you could, but you refuse to listen to reason. You know the laws as well as I do—New Continent is a human free environment, and humans must interfere with it as little as possible. And this decidedly counts as interference.” He gestured at the filly, who was asleep next to the low burning fire in the middle of camp.

“She’s just one filly,” I retorted, trying to keep my voice to a whisper so as not to wake the others.

Senard snorted again and turned to stalk off to his tent. “Idiotic women,” I heard him mutter, “I never should have agreed to bring her along.”

“As if you could have gotten here without me!” I shot back. “If I remember correctly, the only reason you were allowed to come in the spring was because you had a Storyteller along!” Senard slapped the tent flap shut and zipped it closed forcefully.

I sighed and looked down at the filly. I knew Senard was right about keeping her, but I wasn’t willing to give in. Not now.

~ ~ ~

I awoke to the sound of gunfire and howling. Racing from my tent I found most of the men already up, two of them armed with smoking guns. “What happened?” I gasped.

One of the men loaded more shot into his weapon. “Damn wolves. Whole pack of ‘em showed up outta nowhere to raid the food stores. I only managed to get one of ‘em for sure.” He curled his lip up and searched the darkness for movement.

“Wolves?” I squeaked, then added “‘Got one of them?’ What’s that supposed to mean?”

He gave me a sidelong look. “One of ‘em tried to attack me! What was I supposed to do, just let it?”

I narrowed my eyes. “You know you’re not supposed to kill any of them, especially not when they have young! You shoot to scare them off, self-defense or not.”

He finished loading the shotgun and turned away from me, pretending not to have heard. “By the way, they got that filly of yours. No sign of it anywhere abouts.”

My heart seized with icy fear as I suddenly realized this must have been the same wolf pack as from earlier today. The same ones I had tracked beside a creek bank and found surrounding the filly, even though I had passed her lifeless mother earlier, lying amidst a confusion of wolf and bear prints in the mud of the creek. I wanted to sink to my knees and curl up in a pitiful ball, but the bland contempt of the men for me and the little horse kept me upright. I stared into the darkness for a while as the men stalked the perimeter of the camp and Senard (now awake) tried to salvage the food stores while he cussed out both wolves and men alike.

~ ~ ~

The horizon was beginning to glow with sunlight. In my home country this would have signaled a new day, but here light and dark did not always mark the start of a calendar day. I pondered this as I stood in the silent meadow, looking out over the dewy grass and trying not to feel the pain of losing the filly. I should be happy to simply be here, as it was not a privilege many received. For my family though, it was a tradition for one person of every third generation to visit the New Continent, and then return home to assume the place of family Storyteller.

As I stood there in the morning light, something rippled in the shadows of the trees, and then across the meadow a long, delicate shape stepped out. I stared, frozen with surprise as the ethereal little creature stepped through the grass toward me, her short tail fluttering in the breeze.

“You’re alive,” I whispered as the filly came up to me. I sank to my knees and reached to stroke her soft nose as she whickered and nuzzled my hand. I hugged her close, closing my eyes as I silently vowed that I would never let her go again, but she pulled away from me and turned her head.

I looked over her shoulder and saw them, silver in the growing dawn as they padded across the meadow on silent paws. One of them paused, a young pup peering out from between the bigger wolf’s legs, and yipped at us. The filly nickered back and before I could reach to restrain her she had turned and trotted directly toward the mother wolf. I stared in shock as the filly danced up to the wolf, who growled and…licked the filly’s nose as though she were another pup.

The mother wolf took off again, and for a second the filly looked back at me with those liquid eyes. She neighed to me, tossed her head, and then raced after the wolves. I stared after her, feeling as though the world had just turned upside down. She was…one of them. She was part of the pack, like any one of the wolves. She was so different from them, and yet…

And yet, a small voice inside me said, maybe some of us don’t really belong with our own kind after all. Maybe we don’t really fit in with them, not on the inside at least. Maybe we belong in the wolf pack.

Isabel Nee loves reading, writing, science, birds, and mythology. She has had prose and poetry published in elementia magazine and WATC’s Showcase Selections. She is currently writing a YA fantasy novel, and hopes to some day become a professional novelist. Isabel lives in Gardner, Kansas where she hatches chickens and (she would like to think) great ideas. She has a Facebook page where she (very inconsistently) posts her poetry

Isabel Nee loves reading, writing, science, birds, and mythology. She sporadically practices archery, and is known to research rare genetic disorders which she then inflicts on her characters. Isabel has had prose and poetry published in elementia magazine and Showcase Selections ~ 2016. She is currently writing a YA fantasy novel, and hopes to some day become a professional novelist. Isabel lives in Kansas where she hatches chickens and (she would like to think) great ideas.


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