Northren Lights

Again?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Alright. I will tell you again, from the beginning. I will warn you, though, you are not going to like or believe anything I say. You are not going to believe a single fucking word.

Why? Well, because, I don’t believe a single word that is about to come out of my mouth and I was there. I saw the whole thing. I know exactly how it sounds, but I swear to you. Everything I am about to tell you is the god awful truth. I am not crazy. I wish I were, but unfortunately for both of us, I am not.

I can’t tell you the exact day when I first saw him. Or, even where. I was hitching along the northern stretch of highway one going through northern Ontario. There is little that I can say about exactly why I was there. A ride went bad and I got out of the car, and yeah it was bloody cold. If you have lived all of your life within city limits, it would be hard for your to imagine just how fucking cold it gets up there in the middle of winter. When it is that cold, you don’t stop moving. It doesn’t matter how tired you get or how long you walk on that road, you keep the fuck moving, because, it you stop, if you rest, you won’t ever wake up again. It won’t matter how many layers of clothing you are wearing. If you stay still for long enough, that bitter cold will worm its way through to your bones and suck the life right out of you.

So, yeah, when the car stopped for me, I got in. It didn’t matter where he was going at that point, or if he was safe, or if he was drinking or if I smelled some good shit, I was getting in that car. I needed to at that point, because after a few nights of walking through bugger fuck no where, I knew that I wasn’t going to make it through one more night. What can I say? People like me don’t have anything to loose. Sure, he could have killed me, but if I stayed out there I was fucking dead anyway.

I got in the car first. Fred or whatever his name was stopped for that guy sometime after he picked me up. I climbed into the backseat with my pack and let him ride shotgun.

Right from when I first set eyes on him, I didn’t want him touching me or my stuff. Picking him up wasn’t my call, it wasn’t my car. I don’t even know how he was alive. You see, an experience traveller like me comes prepared. You don’t need to be a genius to know that 40 below zero is fucking cold and to put on the layers, but this dude, he was fucked in the head. There just isn’t any other way for me to explain it. All he had on was a windbreaker over a t-shirt. He didn’t even have a toque on. I don’t know how he got all the way out there without his ass getting frozen off.

“Where are you heading?” Fred asked the guy.

“Just up the road a bit. I will show you where to let me off.” He replied. “I have to meet someone up there. I just hope that they will wait for me.”

“Good friends of yours?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah, you could say that.”

Fred turned his attention back to the road. “We will get you there. You just sit back and get your self warm there. Just be sure to”

Our new comer smiled weakly and settled in. I did to for that matter. It would literally be hours before we reached a town or something. Okay, I admit it. I dozed for a while. It’s not the safest thing to do while hitching, but sometimes you gotta catch a few winks while you can. It was sometime later when I woke. It wasn’t so much the car slowing down that woke me as much as it was Fred quietly arguing with the guy.

“But there is nothing here.” He was saying. “I don’t even see a car or anything parked here, and it is going to get bloody cold after dark.”

“This is the place.” The dude replied. “They are expecting me to be here. It doesn’t look like they are here yet, but I will be fine.”

“I am just not comfortable with just leaving you out here.” Fred sighed.

“I’m with Fred here.” I had to put my own two cents in. “You can die out here if you’re not careful. It won’t take long for your ass to wind up frozen solid, and no one will find you till spring, if ever.”

“I will be fine.” He insisted.

“Just be sure that you want me to drop you here.” Fed said. “This is like the middle of nowhere. There isn’t even so much as a telephone pole out here.”

“And you are going to freeze man.” I quipped. “Or get eaten by wolves or something. Come with us to Sudbury or what ever the next town is called.”

He shook his head and continued to bundle up. I passed my spare gloves to him and he pulled those on to.

“I am going to be late.” He said. “I wish that I could take you too, both of you, but you need an invitation. They don’t like strangers.”

Fred and I exchanged looks. It was pointless to argue with the man as that point. You can’t argue with fucked up in the head, crazy like that. You just never know when someone like that is going to turn on you.

“Alright then,” Fred said. “Alright, I will let you out. But we are going to wait.” Fred and I exchanged looks and I just nodded. Leaving a man out in the cold like that, in the middle of winter, that is like a death sentence. “If you get too cold, come on back and I will take you somewhere, where you won’t freeze your ass off.”

I don’t know what he was thinking and I am not sure if I really wanted to know, to be honest. That man, he didn’t hang out on the road, or start walking along the highway. He climbed over the snowbank and headed into the bush. He didn’t have the gear for that sort of thing and I knew then, or at least I thought I knew, that he was a goner. He got right to the edge of the trees and that is when everything got weird.

The world got bright, and even though, it was still daylight, the northern lights came out to play.

Those lights were the most beautiful this you could ever see. Look, I’ve been around. I’ve even been up north and by up north I mean far up north. So, I can tell you that I have seen the northern lights and they don’t even come fucking close to what I saw that night and I have never seen anything like that. Those lights, they came down from the north and jived. They blocked out the sun and jived. Those colours danced so bright that you couldn’t see anything else. We couldn’t help but loose site of the guy. We couldn’t see anything other than those lights man. It was all just dancing colours, I don’t even think that there are names for any of those colours. So, yeah, since we couldn’t see shit, no snow no trees, not even the hands in front of our faces, if we even cared to look.

Then just like that, is was gone. Nothing was there, and everything was back too normal. Except for that dude. He was just gone. I asked Fred to wait and he said that he would. That Fred, is a really good guy by the way. I got out of the car and went to see where he went. I am not a tracker or anything like that, not how hard can following tracks through three feet of snow can be?

They didn’t go far. I followed his trail maybe, I don’t know, fifty feet into the bush. It didn’t lead anywhere, it just stopped, in the middle of clearing. You might want to get some experts or something out there to take a look, cause, from where I was standing, there was no where he could have gone. Three feet of snow remember. I know that sounds fucked up, but, I would have seen where he went. It was still daylight and, okay, I just don’t what else to say.

We stayed there for quite a while. It was getting dark when Fred decided that it was time to get moving. We didn’t say a word. Neither one of us wanted to just leave him there in there in the middle of nowhere, but we had to get our asses moving if we were going to make it to the next town before a blizzard or something hit. I went and found myself a bottle, as soon as I climbed out of the car and got shit faced. I don’t know what happened to that dude, and I never saw Fred ever again. Never wanted to, if I am going to be honest. I just want to forget what I saw that night. I am not crazy, but that is what happened. I am not going to try to explain it.

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Into the Wilds

They were close. She could hear the hounds baying as they caught her scent. She could smell the musk of the hunters who followed them. If they got too close, there would be no loosing them. They would catch her, then kill her.

She gathered all four feet beneath her and ran. She had no time for anything else. There would be no backtracking, no laying down of false trails, or for any of the other tricks that would throw them off her scent. She had no time.

Her world was nothing more than the pounding of her heart, the rhythm of her feet hitting the ground and the trees that rushed by.

Her only hope was to put as much forest between herself and them. She didn’t dare think about who they were, or what they had meant to her. She couldn’t afford to let the grief consume her. Her life depended on it.

It didn’t take long for her to for the hunters to fall behind. The same could not be said for the hounds. The dogs were almost nipping on her heels. No matter how hard she ran, they were still closing the distance between them. These dogs had been trained to relentlessly run down prey. They had been conditioned to do so from the day they were born. She has only had a few hours to learn how to be a wolf.

If only there was a creek or river that she could use to make them loose her scent. If only there was time for her to change back into a girl. If only she knew how.

Her only hope was to get as deep into the forest as she could and prey that there was a point where the hunters would not pass beyond.

From the time before she could walk, she had been told stories about the things in the forest. Those tales wound themselves inside her head. Her aunt had filled the evenings with yarns of the dark and unnatural things that lurked in the shadows of the trees. Things that always waited to pounce on the unwary.

Naughty children were particularly delicious, she had often been told.

She had no idea if any of it was true, and it didn’t matter. There might be something dreadful in the wilds, and then, there might be nothing. It might kill her, and then, maybe it wouldn’t. There was no way for her to know for sure. But she did know, those who hunted her, people whom she had known her entire life, most certainly would end her life.

Trees grew larger the deeper she went in. The undergrowth became more dense. Branches clawed at her fur and the ground became uneven beneath her feet. Having more legs meant only that there was more ways to trip.

She burst through the trees and skidded to a halt. A deep ravine split the earth open before her. It was too wide to jump and too deep to climb. She could go left or right, and she picked one.

She did her best to hurry, but the uneven stone forced her to walk. The granite edges were uneven and unstable for her to do anything other than to walk.

She came to a dead end before long. Looking up at the crumbling wall of stone before her, she sighed. It was over. There was no where else she could go.

Her tongue rolled out of her mouth as she panted to catch her breath. The baying of the hounds sounded on the air, and the hunters would not be far behind them. Every muscle in her body begged for rest, and she lay to rest, first on her belly, then on her side. She had nothing left to do but wait. They would find her soon enough and end it.

Even wolves can cry.

The cold seeped from the rock and into her fur. She didn’t notice that the cries of the dogs are her trail faded away and ceased. There was a part of herself that didn’t care. She didn’t even hear the sound of the person approaching her. Feet covered in leather boots appeared before her eyes and by then it was too late.

Gentle hands rubbed her ears and she whimpered at the touch.

“It’s okay, little sister.” A deep voice said. “You are safe here. Welcome home.”