The insanity of the night was drawing to a conclusion. Mason and Franklin sat on the tailgate of Mason’s truck drinking beer while Elizabeth sat snuggled up to her husband with her head against his shoulder. A dirty shirt from his truck acting as a barrier between her head and the blood soaked into his clothing. It was actually a pleasant night. The moon, partially concealed behind clouds, provided the ambient light needed to comfortably see potential threats nearby, and would have otherwise made for a romantic setting.
Mo’s girls, Alyssa and Katherine, were quietly sleeping in the cab of the truck. It made Mo chuckle quietly to himself at how adaptable children could be. This was their life now, and they accepted it.
Just inside the fence that skirted the perimeter of this small compound, Dominic stared into the distance. On the other side was several acres of undeveloped land full of trees large enough to cut for firewood if they needed it. “Still Summer, but we might want to get started on that,” he thought to himself as he drank another beer dry.
He tossed the empty can to the ground in front of him, and it rattled as it banged against a small pile of recently discarded cans before settling.
Dom sat their comfortably on the ground, leaning against the large front tire of an old unused daycab truck. His eyes remained fixed on the darkness, and he reached for another beer without looking.
The moon appeared now as the clouds opened slightly. There were fewer of them now, and the dim light grew with insignificance. Dom was tired, drunk, and over the bullshit. In the distance, though, a piercing set of eyes sat and watched him with intensity. Dominic remained unaware that he was being watched as he laid his head back, closed his eyes, and drifted quietly into a deep sleep.
Behind him, and atop the large warehouse that sat in the middle of the property, Jed made up a somewhat comfortable berth. He took the liberty of an unused sleeping bag and tent from the back of Mo’s truck, and laid it out for himself. He had a tent with him as well that he took, but he saw no point in setting it up. It was not going to rain, and the energy to raise it would be wasteful considering the night’s events.
His watchful eye scanned the compound. He could see everyone from this perch. Mason and his family remained in the truck. Franklin was nearby, but was pacing and drinking. His eyes moved to Dom’s location, “You need that more than the rest of us, buddy.”
He couldn’t help but feel sorrow for his dear friend. He’d grown to know Linda over the years, and thought of her warm and kind nature now. Deep inside, he had come to love her as anyone who she’d met came to love her. She made him feel like family. It was a unique feeling for him, and one he longed for now.
Jed shook his head as he physically tried to ward off the thoughts. He missed his friend. He had very few of those before the night began, and he had one less now.
A sense of masculinity crept up, “Yep. Time to get hammered.” He reached for one of the still cold beers he pilfered from the ice chest before climbing the service ladder to the top of the building, opened it, and began wildly chugging it.
With his head tilted back, the bottom of the can pointing to the sky, he opened his eyes to see the moon.
He felt it beckoning him to attention. The clouds, as few as there may be now, surrounded it, creating a focal point. The wind picked up, pushed a tear on his cheek sideways, and forced him to acknowledge his emotional pain.
The beer can collapsed within his hand, and he tossed it aside before reaching for another. Then, for an unknown reason, he stopped, looked back into the sky, and focused on the moon as he laid back.
Using his Spider-Man backpack as an improvised pillow, he propped his head in a way that let him relax and maintain his gaze.
A large wolf stood in the middle of a clearing, alone and desparate for food. It sniffed at the air, twisted its ear, and used every bit of its hunting abilities to seek out a potential meal. It sensed nothing. Frantically, it turned itself, looked into the distance, and still saw nothing.
A howl echoed from behind it. Then another to the side, and one more opposite it. The howls registered in the wolf’s mind, but friend or foe was undetermined. It had to move on. There was nothing for it here, and in this clearing it remained exposed to potential threats. The treeline would be better. Some cover is better than none.
The lone wolf began moving slowly. It was injured from a recent fight, and it needed to rest just as much as it needed to eat. The trees weren’t getting any closer, though. Every step seemed to get him nowhere as if the ground was rotating beneath him, not allowing him to leave.
Panic sat in, but he couldn’t run. That hurt too much. He turned, and tired to go back the other way toward the further treeline. Again, the trees drew no closer with each pained step.
The wolf’s ear twitched at the sound of a twig being snapped. It snarled, whirled around, and saw a warm fire with fresh wood atop it. To the side, skewered on a long stick was a rabbit. It was skinned and ready to be cooked. Across the fire, a large bucket of water, and near it a heavy wool blanket laid out for rest.
He was confused now. This was not hear just moments ago, and now everything he needed was there.
Another howl. Then another and another. They were closer than before. They were closing in on him, but the earth wanted him to stay. It wouldn’t allow him to leave.
He scanned the area around him. The trees were almost upon him as the world closed in upon him, and he found himself laid next to the fire.
More confusion set in. His stomach was full, his muzzle was wet, and his hind leg felt as if it had healed.
Three trees stood out from the many surrounding him. He got up, unsure of what was going on. Leaned against one massive Redwood tree was a large flat piece of metal. It had a slight curve to it, and was painted with a simple design that he paid no attention to.
Another twig snapped, and his attention turned toward a giant oak. It had an oddly shaped axed stuck within its trunk, and the skull of a bear resting at its base.
Snap! His attention turned once more. A Sequoia was the focus of his attention now. How he knew the types of trees was yet another piece of confusion, and yet it was only a small and insignificant facet of what had been unfolding around him.
The wolf looked at the tree. It walked over to it, looked up and down, and circled it many times. There was a pattern that was broken by this tree. The others had something to show him. This tree bore no items at its base, or embedded into it. Just bark that had been ripped away to leave scars on its surface.
He considered that odd, but so was this entire experience. Nothing made sense.
High above, a hawk circled in the sky. “Look,” it said. “I am you. You are that wolf. The world is changing, and we are part of this world. Accept what we do not understand.”
On the ground below, the hawk focuses it’s attention on the campsite. The three trees melt from view, and three wolves rise the ground where they stood.
An empty can rattles as it’s blown across the rooftop nearby, causing Jed to awake in alarm. “That was fucked up,” he mumbled to himself as the dream remained vivid in his mind. He felt surpringly rested, and not quite as sore as he expected himself to be. In fact, he noticed, there was no soreness at all.
Jed rose to his feet, looking out to where his friends should be. He saw Franklin first. He too was rising from sleep, and, Jed could tell, was also discovering a lack of soreness or tightness in his body.
Secure in the thought Frank was alive and well, his gaze next fell upon Mason. The night was especially rough on him, and he lay unmoving next to his wife in the bed of his truck. His little girls had joined them while they slept, and they looked content in their fathers presence. Mo, however, looked completely and utterly uncomfortable, but he refused to displace them for his sake.
To find Dominic, Jed turned to face the other direction. His friend was not there, though. All Jed Coquitlald find was a pile of discarded beer cans. Dom was nowhere to be seen.