Friday, April 1, 2016

The Eternal Canine

The Eternal Canine
Bobby Derie

I was Growler, Howls-at-Night, and Sharp Fang, who slew the last of the long-tooth cats to protect my pack; to men I was known as Fidelis, Rex, Agamemnon, the Black Hound who haunted the dreams of men on the cold moors, and joined them in their battles for first pick of the dead. All these names have been mine, and with them the bodies of champions - swift of limb and keen of tooth and claw.

Snow crashes beneath my paws as I find consciousness once again. Lean limbs, thickly muscled, and coated with long white fur pump as I descend the slope of a mountain; instinctively avoiding the deep crevasses hidden in the snow as I plunge toward the treeline. My mind whorls, eyes and nostrils wide as I take in the sights and scents of this new world, but a name reverberates through my brain...

Wolfkin. I am Wolfkin, stalker of the snows, the bastard, of no-packs-and-all. The snow gives way to frozen black earth carpeted by pine needles, and the sun disappears in the eternal gloom of the evergreen forest. Scents call to me from every tree and rock, small acrid markers of an unfamiliar pack, but what drives strength into my limbs is the sound, the squeal, the howl of battle from canine throats.

In moments I am at the scene; small hounds with stubby legs tear and harry at a great mountain cat. They are many, and agile, small teeth nipping at ankle and ear and tail, wherever they can find purchase, but the feline is to fast, too strong, it's hide to thick for them to do much damage. Given time perhaps they could wear it down - but they do not have time. A growl fills my throat as I explode onto the scene, and the mountain cat freezes for a moment as I burst in; my smaller brothers scatter on their ridiculous legs, full-grown yet the size of pups, like some toy breed from the era of man's decadence...

Such musings cease as I turn my full attention to the mountain cat, who has turned to take my charge. Her claws scrape along the bridge of my snout but I do not falter, bowling straight into and over her, and we go down in a tumble. Her hind claws frantically scratch, hoping to open my belly, but already my fangs close upon the thick fur of her throat and clamp down. Dark coppery liquid, thick and hot fills my mouth, and I shake my head in a quick staccato burst of speed, tearing the ragged wound open farther, fangs sinking further into the beast's neck. My only regret as it falls limp is that I could not look into my foe's eyes as they fade to death...

Releasing my fang-lock on the cat, I let the corpse drop to the frozen earth, then raise my bloody muzzle to the sky and howl. All around me, the stubby-legged brothers and sisters sit and quiver, tails between their legs, unsure whether to stay or flee.


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