Chapter One


The wind rippled across the valley, creating visible ribbons of snow streaming across the sky. Black trees towered above the rocky snow covered mountains, untouched by the pure white flakes. The world was a painting of snow, ice, mountains, trees. And wolves. Wolves that moved like agile foxes but were as large as black bears. Their yellow eyes snarled, creasing as their snouts wrinkled in a hideous growl in which the ripping winds tore from my ears, leaving the world silent except for the whistle of air. Their tails streaked behind them as they circled, daring me to run. Paw prints of claws now ruined the pureness and untouched snow. I counted six. All of which had obvious intentions. They were surprisingly skinny, for such large animals. Their ribs protruded from their torsos in a fury instrument of bones and stretched skin. Hungry Wolves.

I willed myself to feel. To look deep down and find the fear I was searching for. I felt the whistle of wind, the sharp bite of snow on my cheek, the numb and stiffness of my fingers and toes…but no fright. I thought about these wolves, lured here by me with the smell a chicken blood, which now stained the snow at my feet like the cherry flavored syrup for slushies. I thought about how they would kill me. Rip the skin from my bones, lap up my blood, swallow my muscles and crunch my bones. I squeezed my eyes shut, and listened, dug into myself searching for an emotion that would never come. Fear. So tantalizingly absent in my every thought. Fear, something I never felt, never had the ability to feel.

The wolves circled, growing anxious with my lack of response. They seemed smart, yet overtaken by their animalistic needs. Food. Hunger. Survival. Why did I not feel the need to survive? Was it because I did not fear death, as these animals did? A wave of hatred for myself washed over me, a freak of nature, unable to feel an emotion that is built into the very bones of every creature. I was a mutant. An outsider, a stranger in a land of cautiousness. I clenched my fists, hoping when the wolves began to devour me, when the pain ripped through my body that I would finally feel what I searched for.

I reached down and dragged the dead chicken carcass off the snowy hillside and shook it. Droplets of blood leaped from the sliced body and sunk into the snow, blossoming tiny crimson flowers. The blood splattered on my body, and one wolf, silver and flecked with snowflakes, licked it's chomps. Still, nothing. No terror choked my thoughts.

The wolves tightened their circle, moving closer as their warning growls increased. I wondered vaguely if people would miss me back at school, but felt no anxiety for their worry. A black streaked wolf moved towards me, growling viscously. I could see the indents of his ribs, of his skin stretched tight of ivory bones. All of the wolves looked ratty and starving, on the brink of death, but this one seemed especially ravenous. The animal lunged, long streams of saliva trailed from it's large fangs. The wolf latched onto my arm, pain seared through my body like an electric shock. I gasped for air, my eyes wide with the sudden agony. The wolf growled, and clenched his jaws again, digging his incisors deeper into my flesh. I felt his teeth scrape against my bone, and another convulsion of pain split my mind in two. My world turned blurry as the starving wolf yanked me down, dragging me into the snow. I hit the cold ice, and the other wolves stared as if alarmed by the brutality of the attack. Did they feel guilt?

I felt pain. I felt every type of pain. Eaten alive. The wolf ripped at my arm. But I felt no fear for my life, no fear for the next bite, not fear for more pain. I could feel the emotion's absence; I could feel the hollowness where it should be. But there was nothing. Empty, missing.

Ashamed barks filled the surrounding air, like guilty cries from the rabid dogs, and I vaguely saw through my tunnel vision that the wolves were parting. Snow flowed down from the sky like feathers and the hungry animal stopped his ripping at the sound of a vicious horrible growl that ripped through the grey sky. The remaining wolves yelped and dashed off, their tales tucked between their legs, leaving only disturbed snow. A wolf larger than the rest emerged from the snowy blizzard, causing the animal by my side to shrink to the ground, its ears flattened against its head.

The large, rust colored wolf approached, and I thought weakly, that this was the leader and he had come to eat his share first. No fear coursed through me though, I pleaded for the emotion to come, for that fear to take over my body and cause me to flee. But I felt no need to flee, no need to fight back, no fear of death.

Instead, in my twisted mind, I found the strength to admire this large, redish wolf, admire its grace and power, its glowing eyes and beautiful, lush fur. I found, somewhere in the back of my foggy brain, the chance to discover beauty in my soon to be murderer.

I thought of all my loved ones, all of the people who had made each moment in my life memorable. Grief swelled inside of me, Let them go, I told myself. Say goodbye and forget them. I did my best, thinking of them one by one, releasing them like birds from the protective cages inside me, locking the doors against their return.

The smaller grey wolf scampered away, and I was left alone on this desolate white hillside with the breeze biting at my exposed and bloody flesh. The wind howled just like the pack of ghostly wolves that had appeared and disappeared as if a phantom. A dream. But the pain was real, the cold was real. The snow melted against my body, soaking my layers of warmth and retiring them into wet useless cold. The air hurt as I sucked it into my lungs slowly, trying to block out what was necessary to take care of. Why had I let that animal do this to me? Why had I stood there and did nothing? Because I had no fear, because nothing, no survival instinct told me to run, told me to try.

A body appeared in my vision. The same wolf, the larger one, the beautiful sleek redish wolf with fur flecked with the purest form of fresh snow. I stared blankly at its clear grey eyes, focusing on their depth instead of the dizziness that crashed upon me like a nauseating wave.

The wolf whimpered. Nudged my neck with it's cold wet nose, and I stared into the eyes of this animal, wondering if it had come to pause it's hunger, or to…I don't know.

"You were supposed to make me afraid." I told it, mumbled the words into the howling wind. My mind was slowing, I could feel the blood from my arm, warm and sticky, becoming cold and solid in the icy snow. I blinked back the fog that pressed upon me, and the wolf still hovered above me, the edges of its body blurred with my vision. I wanted to reach out and grab his ruff, to take hold until he dragged me into the depths of the forest, but my hands remained at my sides, frozen like my body.

I couldn't remember what it felt like to be warm, the cold swallowed my thoughts, the pain dulled my vision. The wolf retracted from my sight, and without him the winds whipped harsher and the grey sky blurred into a never-ending sea of snow.