Dire Straits by ff_b

"It was the largest canid known to have existed!," enthused the museum curator, "And now it shall roam the earth again!"

The curator lovingly held the skull of the dire wolf, part of a complete specimen extracted from the La Brea Tar Pits in California. While extinct for about 10,000 years, the curator felt that he could bring this megafauna back...with the help of a little black magic that his position also gave gave him access to.

Using rituals detailed in "The Egyptian Book of the Dead" and the "Necronomicon" of the mad Arab, the curator arrayed the skeletal remains of the great wolf on a table. "Now you shall see again!," he intoned as he gestured and pressed the bony orbits of the long-dead wolf's eyes. "Now you shall smell again, now you shall hear again!," he repeated with gestures and touch of the appropriate regions of the remains.

With a shudder, the dry bones began to rattle and re-articulate, joints pulling together and sinews webbing over them. Muscle fibers and blood vessels slowly renewed themselves over the reconstituted skeleton, a heart emerging like a flower and starting to beat. "Yes, yes!," cried the curator. "It's alive, it's alive!"

The lupine body continued to flesh out, neurons lacing over muscle, yellow fat deposits appearing, skin and fur sprouting over them. The long-empty eye sockets filled with aqueous and vitreous humors, the orb of the eye bulging forth...and then the eyes opened! The mouth of the reborn dire wolf gaped open, and he howled at the pain of being reborn.

"You are magnificent!," proclaimed the curator, beholding the work that black magic had wrought. "And by the lost arts of the ancients, I have blessed you with enhanced intelligence, bipedal locomotion, powers of speech, and an opposable thumb as well!- -Arise, dire wolf!," he commanded.

Obedient, the wolf sat upright on the metallic table, his legs dangling over its edges. Bigger than the largest gray wolf, the dire wolf was five feet long, weighed 175 pounds, and boasted massive choppers. He struggled to acclimate to his renewed and enhanced consciousness...

"The tar...that horrible, black, sticky stuff!-Couldn't get free of it, pulling me under, can't breathe, AIEEE!"

"Easy!," reassured the curator. "That was in the Pleistocene Era! This is the 21st century, and you have much to learn, my wolf," counseled the man, handing the dire wolf a large collection of DVD's and printed material. Possessed of an inquisitive and competitive mind, the wolf retreated with the materials to get himself up to speed with this marvelous new age into which he had been reborn.

Weeks later, the dire wolf emerged from his study, obviously confused and angry. "So what gives?," he inquired. "A hundred thousand years of evolution, and this is the best that you naked apes can do?- -World Wars!-Genocide! -Poisoning of the planet!-Slaughter of your kindred species!-And who is this 'Bachmann' chick running for president?- - Send me back to the Tar Pits, if you please!"

"Easy, my boy," implored the curator condescendingly, "But in wilderness is the preservation of the world.- -Perhaps you can guide us back to sanity!"

Shaking his head, the dire wolf packed a bag, and padded out the door on his hind legs. He snarled at the curator, warning him not to follow. In the weeks to follow, the dire wolf found gainful employment at Halloween attractions with names such as "The Haunted Mill" and "Field of Screams," where he was regarded by visitors as an incredibly realistic audio-animatronic creation. His employers in contrast regarded him as a gifted actor who required no make-up; film roles soon came his way in the Twilight series. He also found ready acceptance as a lead vocalist with rock bands, feeding upon their embrace of primal instinct.

As his wealth and reputation in the world of humans grew, the dire wolf pondered his past and present fate, and knew that a Wolf Moon was rising...