Riddles on the Wind (3)

Wordwych sneaks in the door, sits at the computer and types away furiously. Wolf is working out in the living room, and understands that it is late, yet knows that a writer must write. It’s been beyond hectic. The mundane life has eaten them both and spit out the bones. However, things are beginning to settle down. 

The beloved dog’s grave is a garden. Wolf is due to start a new contract in September, and a vacation at long last looms. Yes, it’s time for that SCA holiday. Seven days of no phones, meetings, committees, brunches, BBQ’s with political overtones, no interviews, no must be present politically moments.(yeah… there’s a political side to live.) Nothing. Just relaxing and Living the Dream…

To hold you over, the next chapter in RitW. 

~*~*~*

He walked. When the light faded, the pack gathered round the fire that he lit, bringing in a rabbit or deer to be shared. The number of wolves grew too. Most times they saw no humans for weeks on end. On the occasion that a hunter crossed their paths, most never saw anything except tracks. Wolf hunters were buried.

He forgot where he had been heading. If a pack member died, they mourned and moved on. His clothes rotted and his shoes wore out. They were replaced haphazardly with items from hunters or raw skins. They slept, ate and traveled across the forests.

He woke up one morning, to howls. He looked around and realized that the shifter stuck in wolf form had passed in the night. The other shifters had begun to dig a grave, and he joined them. When they were finished, he sat back, trying to remember a task he’d forgotten.

“What matter you?” a shifter asked as he squatted next to the fire.

“I have forgotten something I was suppose to do.”

“We no ask you to do somethin’.”

“Non. It was not you.” The tears began to well up in his eyes. Memories flooded his thoughts. He’d blocked out so much until now when the death and grave brought everything back in sharp detail.

“You grieve your mate.”

“Aye. And she ask me to look after Libellule. That is what I forget.”

The shifter nodded. “Where that Libellule?”

“England. I think.”

The shifter turned his head to the side in a gesture more readily seen on a wolf. “You don’ know?”

“Non. It was long time back. I don’t know how long we travel.”

“Ah. You leave the forest now?”

He thought for a while. “Aye.”

“We come with you.”

“You… you will?”

“You, us, pack. Your mate pack bitch. No one take her place. No one tell us different.”

He realized that on some level, that Maria still ruled their lives. Their loyalty still commanded by her love. He nodded. Now for the difficult part of finding ‘civilization’ and then Libellule.

Six weeks later, they walked out of the forest, and into a small village. The sign on the side of a building read “Ross River Cafe”. Some stayed in the dark pines, while seven filthy, shaggy men walked into the sunlit streets. The humans gawked at the men, and backed away. They hadn’t gone more than a hundred yards when a vehicle pulled up in front of them. A man in a red uniform stepped out and walked up to them.

“Hello, can you tell me who you are and where you’re going?”

Three of the men stared in silent terror. They realized that they barely understood the man. The fourth cleared his throat and began to address the officer. “We’ve been lost. Plane crash. Been walking.”

The Mountie took a good look at the men and then turned back to his car and grabbed the radio. He said something and then came back to the men.

“Um… when was the crash?”

“What’s the date?”

The Mountie blinked. “It’s.. June 14th, 1975.”

Tears ran down the man’s face. “It’s been almost three years.”

“Oh… oh dear.” The mix of panic and horror that filled the man’s voice. “Let’s take you to the station.” He moved to open the doors of the car and help the men inside. Once they all were in, he started up the engine and pulled away from the edge of town. In the shadows, the wolves followed.

“Sit down here. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Who do we contact? Do you have any family?” The Mountie was trying to do everything at once. The other officers in the RMCP station didn’t know what to do either. One ran for the local doctor, and the other for food from the cafe.

The men sat quietly. They’d talked about contact with others and what they would say. Most were shocked by the lights, noises and smells after so many years in the forest. The one thing they did know was that none of these people were shifters.

“My name is Andre Paquet. My wife, Maria, died in the crash. We lived in Portland. Her… her family lived near… near Lethbridge. Our daughter is in Oxford, England.

The officer scribbled down things as fast as he could. “The rest of you?”

“David Burns. Calgary. No family.” The man’s voice was rusty with disuse.

“Evan Jones. Alberta, divorced.”

“Micah Daigre. Jasper. I don’t know.”

“Felix Pelletier. Edmonton. I.. I don’t know either.” The man began to cry, and one of the others put his arm around him.

“Paul Verlow. Watson Lake. No family.”

“Mathis Wolfe. Use to live in Red Deer. I had a daughter.”

The Mountie scribbled notes as fast as he could. He didn’t have any way to check even the most basic facts, but he’d make a record. “Now tell me again what happened.”

Andre took a deep breath and began to talk.

An hour passed and the men had eaten every crumb of food that was brought in. One of the wives came in and after getting a general idea of sizes, headed off to the church and rifled through the charity donations. She and another wife came back with more than enough clothing. Then the men took turns showering in the back of the station.

Andre looked at himself in the mirror for the first time in ages. His face was dark from exposure. His hair and beard were scraggly. It was clean, but he couldn’t get a comb through it. He walked out into the office area and over to Jeffreys, the Mountie who had first found them.

“Do you have any scissors?”

Jeffreys looked at him and shook his head. “Wait a minute.” He picked up the phone and made a quick call. When he finished, he came over to where Andre stood at the window. “George is a barber. He’s coming over.”

Andre nodded.

It took another hour to cut and trim the men up to a semblance of normality. All had kept their beards, and their hair was collar length. George must have swept three pounds of hair up off of the floor. He gathered up his equipment and waved to Jeffreys.

“How can we repay you?” asked Felix.

“You don’t need to. We just want to get you safely to your families.” Jeffreys had been speaking to his superiors, and the general consensus was that the men would be taken to Edmonton. Hopefully by then, families could be found. “I’m heading home now. You can sleep in the cells, and we’ll see you in the morning.” With that, he and the other Mountie said their goodnights and departed.

Andre waited until the men had been gone about half an hour. Then he opened the door and whistled. The remaining six shifters ran out of the woods and in the doors. It was their turn to shower. Andre had found scissors in the one desk and helped the men trim up their beards and hair. Others had actually saved a bit of food and brought that out. Once the food was gone, the men curled up to sleep while a couple took turns watching.

 

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