We’re excited to feature part two of Primavera student Rebecca Holcomb’s short story! If you haven’t read the first part, head to Part 1 and read it now.
“In English class, I saw the way authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving carefully wove messages into the stories they wrote through the actions and roles of their characters. I realized that by completing this English assignment, I could create characters who expressed a message that has always been important to me: respect nature.”- Rebecca Holcomb
Pete Baker and the Wolves: Part 2
The wolf pack remained and their focus was firmly fixed on him. There was one wolf with the slightest hint of red in his coloring that stood in front of the others. Just behind the red wolf’s shoulder was a solid white female.
The red wolf gave the quietest of huffs and the rest of the pack moved to inspect Pete more closely. They sniffed at his face, a custom greeting among wolves. Some gave quiet warning growls to Pete or their lower ranking pack mates. After they’d finished their inspection of the stranger they turned to their leader. The red wolf, the alpha, made a strange motion with his head, huffed and turned to leave. The white wolf stayed closest to his side and the rest of the pack followed. Pete was not sure how, but he sensed that he had been give the okay to follow.
His human mind told him he needed to go home to his children. Then, he remembered that he wasn’t human and that if he tried to go home he would most likely be shot. He saw no other choice and with a heavy heart, he followed the pack into the woods.
Pete learned quickly that his position was at the bottom of the hierarchy. He also learned the roles of the other pack members. The red wolf, the alpha, kept a noticeable distance between himself and the other pack members. He kept the white female close to his side and the white female, being mother to most of the pack members, kept a watchful eye on the rest of the pack.
It was the job of the Beta wolves who ranked third in the chain of command to to keep an eye out for trouble. Despite their lower ranking, the Beta wolves were the largest in the pack, even larger than both the alphas but they lacked the disposition necessary for leadership.
As the lowest ranking member, Pete often found himself being picked on by his superiors. However, he also found that he was slowly beginning to develop an appreciation and attachment to his surrogate family. He found that he enjoyed hunting large game with the pack. These hunts were very complex and well organized. The smaller, faster female wolves, including the alpha female, would pick a target, usually from a herd of deer, and wear their prey down with chase. The deer would occasionally kick but the wolves were swift and able to dodge. Once the deer began to tire the females would chase it back towards the rest of the pack who were waiting in the camouflage of the forest. It was the males including Pete who pulled the animal to the ground and finished it off.
Only once did Pete make the mistake of eating out of turn. The leaders always ate first and the only exception to that rule was when the white female had very young pups with her.
Although his life was by no means easy, after awhile Pete, had discovered that he enjoyed living with the pack but the longer he stayed the more his mind became more like an animal’s. At first, he had missed his human family a great deal but he had had to adapt and there had not been time to to grieve for what he had lost. Eventually there came a point where he did not think of them at all.
As the group headed toward the river one day, a huge crash shook the ground. The wolves listened and sniffed the air. Men were about a mile off scraping at the trees until the fell to the ground. The pack stayed away from those places where the trees had been cut away as best they could but they needed to eat and game was becoming harder to find in many parts of the forest.
One day, the pack was desperate and they came to a place at the edge of the woods. A man-made barrier made of dead trees was preventing a group of grass eating animals, far larger than deer from leaving the area. Pete did not understand the strange and uneasy feeling of recognition the scent of the place had given him. There wasn’t time to dwell on it. Today Pete was going to help chase down the packs kill as every male in the pack did so on occasion. He slipped through the barrier and quietly crept through the grass which had been allowed to grow very tall.
The herd was grouped in a corner about 50 yards away. Pete crept up on them slowly, being careful not to step on a twig or disturb the grass too much. His heart beat faster with anticipation. He could sense his comrades watching from the shadows of the trees,
ready to rush in and help bring down their prey. Slowly and deliberately, Pete prepared to leap out of the grass and startle the prey into chase and just as he leaped … BOOM! Pain lanced through his side and Pete let out a small whimper and fell to the ground.
He had lost all awareness of time, making the appearance of the human standing over him seem almost instantaneous. Pete was dying. A crazed primal fear spread throughout his body. He had not thought in words in a long time but suddenly his mind seemed to shout the name Robert and to Pete, it echoed off of the mountains so that the whole world could hear it. He’d forgotten it all, the farm his children, his wife, the wolf…
“You need to learn some respect”…
The strange girl’s voice rang the same way the sound of his son’s name had and then the world was spinning out of control.
This is it, he thought, understanding that he was about to die.
Just as he thought it was all about to end, the spinning stopped and Pete stood, with his rifle pointed at the wolf who was about to attack one of his cattle. BOOM! He fired a shot at the sky and the wolf, frightened, turned and ran back to the safety of the woods.
Several months went by and Pete wondered if what had happened that strange day had been real at all. He was out planting evergreen trees when he saw the same girl with the ghostly Blonde hair, emerald eyes and pale green dress sitting on a log holding a wolf pup in her lap. It gently and playfully bit at her the fingers of her free hand and arm, the other was busy cradling the playful youngster. She looked straight at Pete who stared back. They were close enough that Pete could just make out the faint smile on her face as she nodded at him. Pete nodded back and continued planting his trees.
From then on anytime he expanded his farm, Pete made sure to replace the trees he’d cut down and if anyone on the farm saw a wolf in the pasture, they were to shoot at the sky and scare the wolf away.
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