He had grown thin. Last in the order of feeding, last even after the pups. With food in such short supply, as it was that bleak winter, the family had none to spare for so sickly a son. He had burrowed himself into the soft earth, refusing to carry on.
I recall how my brother had been injured by a deer that had kicked him in the shoulder, breaking bones, making it hard for him to keep up. With this impediment, he had declined in status. With such loss of place, he was unable to claim enough of the family food to sustain himself. He had become little more than a frame of bones, covered in a loose and ragged coat of mottled gray.
As the pack moved on, each of us embraced our beloved, one last time. Nuzzling, lapping, laying heads on backs, and touching face to face.
He was the last of my siblings. We had been a litter of many pups together, but each save he and I had been taken by the forest. Now, only I would remain. No longer many, just one. I alone would be here as the last of the brothers and sisters. The others lost to the forest forever.
As the family trouped off, leaving our own flesh and blood to die with final, unseen dignity, we hung our heads. Then raising them, we howled a last song to our kin. A requiem, stirring in full lupine voice, beginning at a low sorrowful timbre, rising to a crescendo, a momentous wall of sound, alerting the whole forest, the whole world to our grief. Even the unmovable trees were stirred into sadness at the passing of this once magnificent beast.
From the distant forest other voices joined us in our sorrow.
“We hear you brothers, we grieve with you sisters, we mourn with you the passing of a great hunter.”
The songs continued throughout the night. A thousand voices raised, the forest orchestra striking up its nocturne. As it finished, I sang my own last lament.
“Farewell, my brother. Sleep in the arms of the Forest.”
“Go in peace, brother,” was the barely audible reply. “No longer shall we run and hunt and play together. Think of me no more. I see a hunting path, and it stretches off into the far beyond. Farewell dear brother.
“Run free! Run with the pack!”
~ O ~ 0 ~ o ~
From the author
This little story of lupine love and loss is the prologue to my first novel: Run with the Pack. The book is currently available in Kindle and paperback and you can read the complete book here, chapter by chapter.
Read: Run with the Pack: Chapter 1 NOW!
You might also like to read some of my other stories on Vocal. Here is a selection:
Deep within the cloudy mass of Saturn’s E ring is no place to discover your Ship Nav is failing. Particularly if you are accelerating toward an icy world below.
Being told to reset your password can be quite irritating, stressful and frustrating. More so for me...
Sedna awakes from a long period in stasis, suspended animation, expecting to be in the final part of her approach to the Comet Chawla. Instead, she finds she has already landed but what has happened to the Sun? Where is she? Or, more to the point, WHEN is she?
Deep Space Transport Vessel Endurance was a happy ship but one in which a strange psychological phenomenon had emerged.
Some people call him a space cowboy! A lone prospector sets out to mine a field of gold - way out in the asteroid belt.
Spooky, sorcery and supernatural
For me the eerie silence of the secluded sepulchre was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the wicked world outside.
A sword, a sorceress, a swordsmith, a professor, a servant, a winged serpent, a child, a spy, soldiers, peasants, a plague of imps, and a nice cup of tea.
When a young lad turns up at Biggin Hill Airport in Kent for a flying lesson, he is not expecting his flying machine to be a broomstick!
A tale of witchcraft and a battle against dark forces in the provincial town of Guildford. Suburban sorcery at its best.
Boy meets girl on a random visit to an aquarium. All goes well until boy discovers that girl is not quite what she seems.
A married couple take a friend on a weekend trip to an isolated cabin in the snow. A story of betrayal and revenge.
About the Creator
Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions