November twenty four in the year of our Lord eighteen and sixty nine:
These are my last words as I have no more paper or ink with which to write.
It has been three years since I have been blessed to be visited by a living soul. I am very tired and I fear this old body will soon breathe its last. It is my fervent desire that the blessed wolves who are my friends will be protected from the men of my dreams with their long guns. But, I fear that they must leave the valley that is their home. I see the slaughter of my companions without mercy. I see them rubbed out from the land. I also see men and women with children come and visit, but they will not know the wonders of the land, for who will show them if I am no longer around. I must find another to protect the wolves, one who will protect this land, I cannot see if it will happen, but I must use what time I have left to prepare for one who might come. I must find ink and paper to write what I know, that they can learn from me, that they may care for this forest. I must stop now, for a man is coming and I must greet him; perhaps he is the one I seek.
He is not the one I seek, but I see promise in him, for he is of good heart. He wishes to build a school. He is a knight, and has pledged himself to teach the children about this valley and its forest. I have given him permission to visit with his children; perhaps I will meet my follower among them. It gives me hope and I have decided to stay for a while longer. I have decided to send the wolves away until the day when they can be called back. While this man would not hurt them, others will follow with their long guns, I must act soon. I bless him for his gift of paper and ink; I know it hurt him to part with such valuable possessions. I had only dreams to give him in payment, I hope he understands.
Late May, Two Thousand and Six.
Caleb awoke to a wet tongue licking his nose and face. He jerked and instantly opened his eyes to stare into the gray eyes of a wolf. The wolf backed up, so he threw off the dew wet blanket. Fear overtook him and he started shaking, while the wolf bared its teeth.
Quickly standing, he turned and started running, desperately trying to escape from the big animal. Looking back over his shoulder, he saw the wolf running behind him. Caleb desperately pushed on, his heart pounding, and his lungs screaming for air, but the beast easily kept pace.
At the end of his breath, he emerged from an opening in the trees. He heard the wolf growling, so he looked back one more time to see the beast leaping at him. He felt its paws strike his back, and he slammed to the ground, pressed by the full weight of the large animal. He tried moving, but the wolf snarled angrily. He reached out for a stick or rock to use as a weapon, slowly feeling out front. He found nothing: no sticks, no rocks, and no ground. He lay at the edge of a cliff. Feeling the weight on his back let up, he stole a glance back at the animal, but it had disappeared.
Caleb opened his eyes to stare at the glowing orb of the sun rising between the trees, sweating, even in the cold dawn.
Standing up, he thought about his situation, he looked down at himself; at twelve he wore a dirty sweater, his hair lay uncombed, and his fingernails were grubby. It had been days since he had slept in a bed and he felt miserable.
Rolling up the blanket, his only possession, Caleb tied it with a string. Marching up the slope to the highway he tried to jump the ditch at the edge of the road, but his foot slipped back into the black mud at the bottom of the ditch. He narrowly avoided falling down and when he pulled his foot out of the muck, but his shoe, held by the suction, came off. Cursing, he carefully reached down to find the muck covered shoe and slowly worked it loose.
Scrambling up the bank, he picked up a stick, and started to scrape the smelly rotten black paste off of the shoe. He had to scoop it out from the inside with his fingers. Satisfied that he had done the best he could, he slid the shoe back on his foot and stood up to look at the road.
The road was devoid of traffic so he started to walk on the shoulder. He just wanted to dry out. Hearing a commotion in the woods; he turned to see a small deer bound out of the trees and across the road in a sheer panic. It passed right in front of him and in two hops it jumped the ditch and disappeared into the woods again.
The source of the deer's panic appeared when a large dog came charging out of the woods and across the road. It suddenly stopped and stared at the boy, sniffing the air while keeping steady watch. The boy realized he was face to face with the big wolf of his dream. The wolf snarled a warning at him, and then took off, continuing its chase of the deer.
The boy started walking again. It didn't take long before an old pickup truck slowed down and stopped across the road from him. The short stocky driver had a bulbous nose, and well muscled arms. The man asked, "Where are you going."
"West," mumbled the boy
"Get in. It's a long ways to anywhere around here."
The boy, now beyond being hungry, walked across the road to get a better look at the man. He seemed friendly enough, probably a farmer. He walked around the truck, opened the passenger door, and climbed in. The truck was a mess.
The more the boy looked around the truck, the nastier it appeared to him, with moldy half eaten sandwiches on top of the dash and crumpled papers everywhere. He stared at a big handgun lying on the seat between them.
The man noticed the boy looking and said, "Pick it up if you dare."
Nervously the boy shook his head.
The little man grinned broadly. "You aren't afraid of a little gun, are you?"
"No." Suddenly afraid not to, the boy picked up the weapon with his fingertips. It seemed to weigh a ton.
"You want to try it?"
Holding the weapon like it had been coated with sticky syrup, the boy again replied, "No."
The man shrugged his shoulders, "Suit yourself."
The boy gingerly put the gun back down on the seat.
They rode in silence for a half hour until they reached the outskirts of a town. The man asked, "You hungry, boy?"
The boy, startled, quickly replied, "No," although he hadn't eaten in two days. When they arrived at the center of the town, he announced, "I have to use the bathroom." He had to get away from the nasty little man.
The pickup stopped in front of a grocery store and the little man pointed, "They have one in the back of the store, and on the way out pick up some food. I'll be waiting out here for you."
"I don't have any money."
The man smiled, "I don't either. Just grab some food and run out. You aren't afraid of that are you?"
The boy felt trapped. Sure that the man would be waiting for him and take it out on him if he didn't come out with food, he weakly said, "No, I'm not afraid."
The man grinned, "Good. I know we'll be crossing paths again."
The deputy sheriff grabbed the boy just outside of the grocery store. The boy had run out of the store carrying more than he could manage, dropping it all while he struggled to escape. He couldn't break the man's grip on his arm. His haul would have kept him from starving for two days.
The man in the pickup truck had disappeared.