NIGHT WALK
Marcia A. Borell and James C. Wardlaw





Wolf barely raised his head off his paws as he studied her movement with rapt attention; her lithe body moved smoothly like a dream across the basement room.  She'd worn her tight jeans and red sweater, the one that reminded Wolf of sheep.  He sniffed the air then watched her open the closet door and take out his steel studded collar and chain.  His tail pounded the cement, raising small clouds of silver dust.  Ears up, he rose to her summons, as she patted her slim hip.  Collar buckled he tossed his head settling it into place, shook all over starting from his head the shake rolled back to his tail like an inchworm, then stretched out long and lean.  He was finally ready to walk.  Sara looked on with a broad smile, enjoying his routine.  They walked up the basement stairs and out the front door onto the street.  He fell in step with her, stride for stride, matching her pace.  The night was thick with darkness even though the moon was full.  He froze, paw raised as she stopped to survey the sky.

"You knew the full moon was coming, didn't you boy?  I bet you can feel it in your bones.  Go ahead boy, let it out; let out a good howl.  We're alone out here."  She said scratching his ears, then covering hers.

He took a deep breath, expanding his chest as he dug in his forepaws and threw back his massive head to let out a long, low, mournful wail.  It echoed down the lane and was answered in the far distance by other howls echoing faintly back.  She nodded, scratched his ears again, and then walked down the lane between banks of gray pines profiled against the sky like jagged ghostly sentinels standing guard over a haunted cemetery.

The moon stood pale while sheer remnants of smoky clouds sailed by in the soft breeze.  Sara jumped as a snake slithered almost under her feet.  Wolf turned to pursue it, jerking on the chain and turning Sara around, then froze, neck hair bristling, teeth gleaming wetly in the moonlight.

"Nice night for a walk.  That snake gave you quite a scare."   He said in a voice enticingly deep and silky.

She spun around on her heel at the same moment to face the voice that spoke from the shadows.

"Could you help me?"

"I prefer my own company," she replied stiffly staring into the darkness.

"That's an interesting dog you have.  What kind is he?"  The voice had moved a little closer still wrapped in darkness.

"Mixed breed," she said as her eyes narrowed.  "I'll let him off his chain if you'd like to get a better look at him."

"No, no, that's quite alright.  I'd rather you tied him over on the far side of the road.

I've had a fall and think I might have sprained my ankle.  I'd really appreciate it if you could come over here and help me try to stand."  His voice faded to a pathetic note.

She stood glowering into the darkness.  He was taking up a lot of her precious time with his rhetoric.  She shook her head, sighed and muttered half to herself.  "All right, I'll take a look at you."

She looped Wolf's chain around a tree.  Slowly she turned, physically preparing herself.  She made it to the middle of the lane as the dark man pounced.  She could feel his lips graze her cheek as they slid down to the vulnerable spot on her neck, but her reflexes were better.  She got in the first bite, sinking her teeth into his neck, draining him almost dry.

She licked the remnants of his blood from her lips, picked up the dead rabbit he'd dropped, and threw it on his slumped body as she spoke. "Here, take this rabbit.  It will give you enough strength to leave this place and make it through the day.  These are my woods.  My woods!  When I hunt, I hunt alone!"

She reclaimed Wolf and turned for home.  She had lost her appetite.
 
 

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