Timothy Wilkie

The August Chosen Writer is Timothy Wilkie

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by Timothy Wilkie

The scene of the kill was bloody and beautiful. So much hunger and so little food was the way of this winter on the ice pack. That was why the sight of a kill was so joyous.

My mate and my first-born shot out of the long, brown tundra grass and the others had fanned out around the old Musk Ox cow, causing her to panic and run right into the trap we had laid out. My first-born was on her in an instant, clamping his jaws into her juggler. Her sweet blood spurted out on the snow as she went down…and then with pure will, forced herself back on her feet.

No! I thought. We can’t lose this one chance at food!

My mate joined my-first born, leaping on the bellowing cow as she staggered and fell to the ground. This time the others joined in and tore the life from her in a matter of seconds.

I stood back and watched, not bothering to join in. My mate looked up from her feeding and padded across the frozen ground to nuzzle my side and lick my face. I knew she was concerned because I hadn’t joined in with the celebration. She tried to draw me near but when she realized I wasn’t interested, she went back to the carcass and continued feeding.

There was a dangerous scent in the air as the ice water soaked the pads of my feet. Something was wrong; there should not have been this much water on the ice this time of year. It was too soon in the season.

My first-born howled out his victory, his voice so loud and strong that it startled me. Where my daughters were grown and had pups of their own, my son had stayed near his Mother. He was growing stronger and I knew the day would come that he would challenge me for leader and we would fight to the death. There was no other option and for me to ignore his challenge would mean shame and banishment from the pack.

Enough with such thoughts. It was time to join the others and claim my share of the kill. Still, there was that strange scent on the breeze and it troubled me.

With my tail curled over my head to show my dominance, I approached and the others scattered.  My mate hunkered down and then rolled over and exposed her soft underbelly as I passed by. I eyed my son and growled and he backed away. Someday he would challenge me but not today.

The moon was shining and it was a glorious night. Once I had eaten, I curled up on the snow and went to sleep.


I awoke suddenly.

There was a new scent on the wind. This one was strange and exotic. The others kept looking at me. My mate ran towards me and nibbled on my neck. I could understand their excitement but there was another scent mixed in and it was the scent of danger.

Somewhere in my distant past when I was a mere pup, I remembered that scent and a chill went down my spine.

The others growled at me and my mate kept nibbling on my neck. There is something new and exciting…let’s check it out she was saying.

I snapped at her and she backed away. I had bit her hard enough to hurt just a little and show how serious I was. Yes, there was excitement in the air but there was also danger and if we were going to check it out, we had to be careful.

My son looked at me defiantly and ran in a circle. I knew he thought me a weak, old fool. But the truth of the matter was that our bellies were full and there was no need to risk it. My sister ran past me, letting me get her full scent as she lifted her tail. She was mocking me and her mate joined in the amusement by playfully fighting with one another. My son was intoxicated on the blood of a fresh kill as he continued to spin around in a circle, chasing his tail.

Suddenly my mother came over and nudged me in the direction of the new exciting scent. But what was good for the pack was my decision, my decision alone; the others didn’t have any say. Just as it was my decision what females in the pack went into heat and what adult males I would tolerate, those that I didn’t would only see my huge, white fangs at their throats.

In the distance, I could see their flames of fire and hear their vocal sounds.

My son suddenly quit spinning around and acting the fool. He went down on all fours his ears pricked forward. At the same time the others stopped to listen. They had never heard such sounds but I had and it struck fear in my heart.

It wasn’t yet time to scatter because the danger was still far off. The ancient memories returned about these slow, clumsy creatures. I instinctively understood that these animals were not at home in this world; they were at odds with it and that gave us an advantage.

My pack was quick and hastened to their task. They spread out amongst the tundra grass, squatting low and keeping their snouts to the wind. I took the lead and the others fanned out across the ice pack, showing nothing but their glowing red eyes as we crept forward.

The full moon came out from under a cloud. Usually that was a time to lament and sing but my pack knew with a simple look from me that they must remain silent.

There was a building and inside was brightly lit, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. On the very edge of the light just before it entered the conifer forest there was a female creature.  Unlike the others, her scent was bitter-sweet. She had long hair that glowed red like fire.

Suddenly she spotted me and I froze. I stared at her and with eyes that glowed and a low growl started in my chest to warn her to stay back. She was the intruder here, not me.

“Go away! They have guns,” she said. “Run!”

Her words were strange to me but her meaning was good and true. Our eyes locked. I could not break away, for that would show fear.

“Run!” she said again in a pleading tone. “Never come back. There is danger here for all of your kind.”

Just then, my first-born shot past me. It was just a blur of movement and then there was a sound that sounded like a crack of thunder and a burst of fire. My first-born screamed in agony and then he was silent lying in a pool of blood in the snow.

This could not be! I thought. How could they kill from so far away?

My mate, his mother, tried to get to him but I went up on my hind legs and pushed her down, holding her there by her throat. I could feel her pain go through me as she realized the pup that she had bore and suckled was gone.

The others slipped off into the darkness as a group of men approached. Their scent was angry and brutal. I pulled my mate back behind the tree-line, and after we both took one last look at our first-born being dragged away, we followed the others into the darkness.

Each of us found our own place to hunker down. My mate shared my place and we lay side by side. I offered what comfort I could but I knew it wasn’t enough.

We of the spirit eternal had roamed the ice pack for centuries. This was a new game with deadly consequences. Its shadow dimmed the light of the full moon. While once a mighty breed, now we had the added danger of having the white man present.

They were a brutal and invasive species, cruel and greedy in their ways. This is the lesson that I now remembered from my past. Yet the one female human had been different; she had been kind and giving.

Suddenly there was the sound of thunder and the ice beneath my feet shook and then rocked back and forth. Terror tore at my soul—the ice was breaking up. This was way too soon! We hadn’t planned for this! The summer mainland was a long ways away. 

The others were already up and moving. They would have to run for the shore to the safety of the conifer forest, right to the Europeans. There was no other choice as the ice started to form spider cracks underneath our feet. The run for our lives was on.

As my feet found their stride, my heart pounded in my chest and my eyes watered from the cold. My mate was right behind me and my mother behind her. My sister and her mate brought up the rear.

As we ran, the ice was sweating under our feet and breaking up. To end up in the water was certain death, but to run blindly across the jagged ice ripped at the pads of our paws and made them bleed. Our hot breath left a steamy wake and the blood on the snow would be easily tracked by larger predators. They would wait until daylight and come for us.

My father had been killed by the white man. I had never had a chance to challenge him; I had just taken over once he was dead.  My mother, sister, and I had watched him die most slowly and painfully over many hours. We had waited in the area until almost dawn and then my mother had sniffed at his dead, frozen carcass and signaled us with a low throaty growl that it was time to move on.

There was no power of redemption left in our hearts and no reserve strength to call upon. Possibly we would find safety in the twisted forest of stub pines. They were twisted and stunted from the winds that always blew across the ice pack.

Ignoring the intense pain in my feet, I broke into a full run and the others followed. As we neared shore, there was more ice cold water lying in pools and we had no choice but to splash right through them, causing are feet to freeze over with a painful icy crust.

Life on the ice pack was hard and now because of the warming weather there were bears coming down on to the ice, desperately seeking food. This made confrontation with them unavoidable.

It was inevitable that there would be a short food supply but now the competition was much stiffer and more deadly.

To quarrel back and forth was one thing that the pack were never too weary to do and I had not forgotten that even though my first-born had been killed there was still a stronger and much greater threat to me. My sister’s mate was much younger and bigger than me and with my first born now out of the mix, suddenly he was sizing me up. I could see in his movements that he was testing me to see how far I would let him go. Unlike my first-born, he would show me no mercy.

Ahead were the brown stems of tundra grass and a dense thicket in front of a stunted forest of twisted pines. Up the slight incline I ran with the others right behind me. Suddenly there was a bellow of rage and a bull moose charged at us. Frightened, we were all able to move fast enough to get out of the way and the old fellow only seemed to have one charge in him as he ran out on the ice pack.

At the very edge of the forest, I braced my legs and sniffed the air. Then there was a loud bellowing sound and a splash. It was followed by the sounds of terror and death. My ears flattened back and down and I looked around all were present. My sister lay on the ground and my mate and my mother flanked me on either side, so it wasn’t one of mine.

It was the moose. He had gone through the ice and we all knew he would die out there.
The nights were mysterious and dangerous in the absence of the sun from the sky. Life on the ice pack could end in an instant. A tiny stream flowed out of the conifer forest and slipped down across the ice. I bent down and took a drink. The water tasted ancient for it had been trapped within a glacier for thousands of years. My mate joined me along with the others and we drank until we were satisfied.

From the treeline, I could see the cabin clearly and smell the scent of meat cooking on an open fire. I was quick and alert in the needs of the pack and I knew it wouldn’t be long until the tempting aroma drew them near, dangerously near.

As I turned to leave, there was the explosive crackle of feet in the snow. I crouched down and slid silently into the brush. My prints would be easy to track. I stuck my nose in the air to catch a scent. It was not a bear; it was a human that I smelled.

But it was the bittersweet smell of the woman. For a moment I just crouched with my nose thrust out into the frosty air as she stepped onto the porch. Another scent came to me the woman was not alone; she had a dog with her. Some dogs were truly a tuned to their masters, and those were just as dangerous as the humans themselves.

This dog was a big gray husky that could easily be mistaken for family, but its domesticated scent gave it away as not one of us. It ran around for a few seconds and then stopped dead in its tracks. Its ears stood straight up and it started barking. It knew I was there watching even if the woman was too oblivious to notice. It was a wonder that humans had survived at all. For one thing they stood upright exposing all their vital organs. Yet as stupid as they were, they were extremely dangerous.

My mate silently crawled up beside me and observed. The others were near; I could smell them. The woman walked towards the dog scolding him. “What are you barking at?”

Fool, I thought, the woods are full of danger and he’s just trying to warn you.

Just then one of the men opened the front door of the cabin and light flooded out from within.

“Are you coming in?” he asked. “We’re waiting to start the game.”

“It’s okay,” she said to the dog as she went into the cabin.

It was plain to see as the dog scanned the tree line, he wasn’t as easily fooled as she was.

Once the door was closed and they had gone back inside their little box, I saw my sister’s mate edge out from the darkness. He moved quietly across the snow to the front of the cabin sniffing the ground as he went. This angered me I knew it was a pure act of defiance.

I shot out of the brush at full speed to cut him off and block his way with my ass in his face. He propped his front legs on my back and I swung around and bit him on the tender area at the very tip of his nose. He yelped and backed off but the sound alerted the dog inside and he started barking like crazy.

The door flew open and a man stepped out on to the porch with his rifle in his hands. It was the same man that had killed my first-born. Deep hatred flared up inside me but I knew this wasn’t the time or place.

We ran for the forest but the dog shot out across the clearing right on my tail. His huge jaws were only inches from me when I turned to fight. I had no time to look around for help; it was just me and him.

His momentum sent me tumbling into the snow. The dominant primordial beast was strong in me but the dog’s huge canines were within inches of my throat. A driving wind ripped through me as the cold and wet soaked into my coat. The dog sprang on me with a fury that I hadn’t expected and I realized that his teeth were replaced with silver.

He landed heavily on me and I tore into him with slavered fangs and eyes blazing. He turned quick and my teeth sunk into one of his hind legs right to the bone. But these creatures were bred for pain; it didn’t faze him at all. We ripped and slashed at each other and in the background I could hear the woman say. “Call him off, Ivan! Enough is enough.”

“Get back inside, Woman! That’s not one of God’s creatures! It’s a demon from hell.”

“No!” she cried. “It is the dog that you have made who is the monster. It’s unnatural to replace his teeth with silver!”

He brushed her off and pushed her inside.

The man broke into a run as we drew nearer to the tree line.  He knew that I would draw the dog into the woods where the others would jump on him and rip him apart.

The dog, sensing the presence of his master, let go and backed off. The man raised his rifle and my mate flew from the brush hitting him solidly in the chest. He fell backwards in the snow with her snapping jaws just inches from his face.

Seeing his master down, the dog snarled and sprang on me. I side stepped and he went tumbling into the underbrush. Just then I saw my sister’s mate on top of him, ripping out patches of flesh and fur.

I staggered to my feet. My eyesight was blurry because he had gotten me many times with his razor sharp fangs. There was no doubt that there was silver coursing through my blood stream.

I had to concede to the fact that my sister’s mate was younger and faster than me. The way he danced around the dog made the canine unable to dominate him like he had me.

Crying in pure rage, my sister circled around the dog and her mate, waiting for a chance to jump in. When my mother joined in, the dog backed off, knowing he was outnumbered. 

But it was then that something unexpected happened. The man managed to get free of my mate and grab the gun. He aimed it at my mate and with everything I had left I lunged at him, knocking him to the ground just as his finger tightened around the trigger. I felt the blast rip through me as I clenched down hard on his neck and the brutal taste of his hatred and rage squirted into my mouth.

The sound of the blast sent the dog running for the porch as I lay on the ground, too weak to move. My mate nuzzled my neck and I struggled to my feet and just as dawn was breaking I followed the others into the woods.

I awoke in my sod hut wrapped in blankets, My mate Ahnah and my mother Aga knelt over me and the look of concern on their faces told me how close to death I really was. Just then the woman with flaming red hair entered.

She bent over me. “I want you to drink this it is a mixture of salt water and mustard flour. It will neutralize the silver running through your veins.”

When I awoke again the woman was gone and Ahnah was lying next to me. I felt stronger and my fever had broken. “When you are fully recovered we will leave this place,” she said. “For now, the humans are gone, but they will return.”

Timothy Wilkie is a writer living in Kingston New York. He has two grown sons Justin and Blake. In his spare time he is an artist, poet, and musician.

If you enjoy his stories email him at timwilkie09@gmail.com.