Chapter 30: The Bear
I sit staring at the little fire I pulled together in the basin of the clearing I managed to find. My ass on a
fallen rotten tree, feet at either side of my rock circled mini campfire. Somewhere caught in the
unremarkable depths of another dense dark wood, in the middle of nowhere, that is not as far from the
mountain as I would like it to be. Sunny today, with no breeze and the atmosphere has an almost
serene calm to it.
I’m far enough that fires no longer make me nervous, even when sat in an open clearing like this, as I
doubt anyone would see the smoke now. No idea anymore on where I am, only know how to go back to
where I came from.
That’s the thing about us… we can always find our way back to places we’ve been or left, but without a
map, I have no idea how far I am from where I started, or where I am if someone asked me. It all
started to look the same to me after only two days and finding landmarks in almost identical forests is
not that easy. I have to keep climbing trees to check where the mountain is on the horizon, so I stay
heading south of it.
Lord knows I would probably end up U turning accidentally and heading back if I didn’t. I don’t seem to
have a sense of direction that I’m sure most wolves should. I just have this constant pull to go home
and I’m not convinced it’s fully because of homesickness.
Sierra’s dream keeps haunting me, even in daylight now too, and for some reason, keeps replaying
whenever I have to make a choice in direction, swaying in the canopy and gazing at the miles around
me. More than once, I’ve noticed that when I come to a crossroad in my path choosing, she becomes
prominent in my mind and my gut tries to pull me east. Not even back to her son, but off to the left into
the unknown. I’m not sure it’s related, or why my mind keeps wandering that way.
I’ve wondered what would happen if I said screw it and just went that way, more than once, but I know
it’s probably nothing more than my being dumb and imagining it. I’m lost, emotionally, physically, so it’s
no wonder my mind is trying to give me some sort of guidance, or fake purpose, to get me out of this
My plan was always south, my instincts keep on trying to sway me away from the south and I shouldn’t
ignore my gut, but if my instincts are as faulty as the fates, I’m better off ignoring them completely. Look
how wrong they were about Colton. He did it … ignored them despite our bond. He marked a mate and
forgot about me. In the end I guess, it wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be. He just needed me to
get out of his way.
South is where my mother said her family came from, not that I know much about them as she never
really spoke of her roots the way my father did. My mother was not a Radstone wolf, nor a Whyte pack.
She came from somewhere else, shrouded in mystery, and always said meeting my father was fated
and magical, but never really told us the details or expanded on it.
As a little child I was not overly invested in love stories, so I never pushed. Father would shrug and tell
us that their story was much like any other and brush it away, evasive, but then he wasn’t the gushy
romantic type. I do know that she said she came from a place where the weather was warmer, land
flatter, and her own pack never kept in touch or reached out in all of the years we lived on the mountain
My grandparents were my father’s family, and my mother, she just never brought hers up. We didn’t
really talk about it. My family was small, due to my father being an only child, born late in my
grandparents mating life, and older generations had passed away in my early life before I knew them.
Wolves live longer than humans, but not for hundreds of years like the vampires are meant to.
It never used to make me think, or dwell, but now knowing I have red eyes and a strangely rare gift, it
makes me wonder what I actually knew about my mother. Memories are mostly her in human form, and
the few occasions I glimpsed her as a wolf, I don’t recall ever seeing her eyes. There isn’t much need
for a pup to see their parents in wolf form when you live on a peaceful settled farm growing vegetables
and raising cattle. Turning used to be a personal thing when there was no need. Like a recreational
time to yourself activity among the peaceful dwellers who didn’t have to fight, or defend, or lord over
anyone. The Whyte pack leader was equally stable, and calm, and I never saw him turn at all in the
time I knew him.
My father never mentioned it, no one did, so I doubt they were red. I mean, she was a snow-white wolf,
and that was mentioned enough over the years as though it was a bad thing. I knew it meant she was
different. I’m sure her eyes would have been a talking point too if they had been like mine.
They said her fur was white because she lacked a pigment, like a flaw in her genetic makeup, and I
wonder if it’s why my eyes are red… like an albino. Although my wolf is half grey and I’m sure albinos
have pink eyes, not blood red. It’s all so confusing and I wish Meadow told me more about the legends,
or that the Shaman had taken time to talk to me. It just feels like they should have some relevance, or
that my gift should. Maybe all it means is what Juan said is true, I’m a diluted impure bloodline, and
It’s after noon, the sun’s still high but it’s doing little to warm me through and lighten my dull mood, not
that I care. We have a gift in that the cold doesn’t really affect us the way humans are, and we don’t
need the same temperatures to survive. We can feel it, we can enjoy being warm and cosy, but we can
sleep in freezing surroundings and not get sick. And if we do, we turn and voila, healed. I’m not worried
about getting ill or injured out here as long as I can muster enough energy to turn for a few seconds,
but it’s my mental state that worries me.
I keep thinking about Luna Sierra and her broken mind, and I would be lying if I didn’t have a deep-
rooted fear that I may not be strong enough to endure an oncoming war. I can hide and avoid it as
much as I want, but one day, I’ll find myself in the midst and I won’t be able to escape it. It’s always
there in the background of my mind.
There’s a crack in the undergrowth behind me and I spin around to focus my eyes on the dark shadowy
depths of the trees in the direction it came impulsively. Breath pausing, heart rate increasing, as my
adrenalin insta-spikes and I train everything on that one spot, poised like I’m ready to bolt, and my butt
hovers over the log I was previously perched on. I catch sight of a small deer running through, parallel
to me as it makes a skipping path through to find its little herd, and relax again, exhaling heavily with
relief and sitting back down. I don’t think the jumpiness will ever subside, and I need to learn to calm
down a little when it’s bright daylight.
The forest is never silent, and it’s something I need to get used to. There’s always some animal running
around, some tree creaking, the babbling of water, or the rustling of the wind. It’s noisy as hell, and
when darkness moves in, it turns spooky and thick with atmosphere, and feels like a million eyes come
alive. None of those are anything to really worry about, but try telling my hyper senses and scared,
stupid, young girl mind. I should give myself a break though, and lighten up a little, I mean, it’s been
eighteen years of being a shadow in a pack who maybe didn’t want us, but they met our needs and
kept us relatively safe. Well, minus that one night. Now I’m on my own and responsible for my own
safety, it’s okay to be on edge. I guess it’s a good thing to be aware.
I found a cave here for tonight that seems secure enough, with no rear entry, and even though I should
still be walking, something in me said it’s time to stop for a while and just ponder stuff for a day or two. I
feel like I earned it, and after patrolling this area earlier, I don’t think I’m encroaching any pack
territories. I’m shielded here, and there’s a water source literally a few feet away, in a little tumbling
brook that heads out to a bigger river further on down the way.
I chose a spot near my makeshift bedroom for the night, managed to haul out some of the rabbit I
caught in my last turn and didn’t feel like eating, out of my backpack. I started a fire in an attempt to
make a real meal of sorts, because I need something warm and decent to give me a sense of comfort,
in that I’m winning this and not just scraping by.
Cooking the meat I wrapped up in leaves to carry with me, instead of eating it raw, will trick my brain
into a sense of achievement and less desperation. I foraged for some berries and mushrooms when I
found this spot, and I have everything sitting on the flat stone I picked up nearby and stuck in the
hottest part of the ash. If I can pretend I’m doing well, able to eat well, with some relaxing cook out
time, then maybe I might sleep well later when the sun goes down, and maybe my dreams will give me
just one night of respite. While I try not to ponder on this unearthly belly ache of longings.
I miss real food. Cooked dinners, hot drinks, snacks. I miss milky cocoa, and walking around barefoot
on carpet, and having a light switch to illuminate the shadowy corners. I miss having a soft bed, and a
safe room to close off at night, and not worry about always having one eye open. I miss the noise of the
others in other rooms, and down corridors, I miss Meadow and the sub pack, and I dare I say it … I
miss him too.
If I’m honest, I miss him more than everything else combined, and then some. Even if I hate him for all
of this, and will never forgive him for marking Carmen, I can still admit my need hasn’t wavered in any
way. I can’t even think about it without bringing back the agony which shadows my every move and
push it back down in the depths to shut it off.
I watch the fat begin to seep out of the meat as the stone heats up and it begins to sizzle, giving off an
aroma that reminds me of the mess hall, not that rabbit was a regular smell and I have to swallow back
that instant choking regret I get often. I’ve identified it as home sickness, even if the pack house was
never really that for me. I guess it’s just a general longing for the mountain and the ties to my long-
forgotten family. The farm which still sits empty, as I never had the courage to go out to and see,
although I always knew it was there, waiting. I’ve never been good at facing my pain, walking away.
Closing it off always served a better purpose. Jasper used to tell me as a kid, that you had to face your
problems head on to be free of them, but then, he never lived to prove that was true.
I miss my brother most of all, more than even my mom at times, even if he did used to tease me and
call me names and pull my braids. He was a few years older than me and never let me forget it. My first
real male protector in life, and he never let me down, until he left me.
I wrap my arms around my legs and lean forward, self-comforting, trying to enjoy the heat of the flames
warming my face in a bid to shut off my mind and its straying unwanted thoughts, but another loud
crack in the shadows behind me has me bolt upright, and I spin around to see where it’s coming from. I
wonder if my deer passer-by is coming back again and peer into the depths hoping to see it jauntily
trotting back out. My eyes narrowing, and wolf vision successfully flicking to adjust and surprising me
with the clarity of seeing in the dark.
I gasp as a thundering, huge, black bear, comes crashing through the nearby tree line suddenly,
completely unexpectedly, downwind from me, so no scent warning, almost soundlessly until that last
It must smell me or what I’m cooking and probably followed either scent out to investigate. It doesn’t
look inquisitive, it looks mad as hell, with raging eyes and bared teeth and I can tell with the way it rears
on its back legs and wails at me, that it’s probably my scent ticking it off and not here to say hello.
Bears don’t like my kind, it’s a well-known, and documented fact, they deem us a threat and we never
wander into bear territory alone. Those monsters are strong, relentless, huge, and weirdly capable of
taking one of us on as long as it’s a smaller femme like me, with little to no combat skills.
I get up and start backing away fast, knowing that this is some bad shit to be in right now, eyes darting
around for a weapon, or escape route, as it wades towards me through underbrush, kicking rocks aside
with its clumpy massive paws. I swallow hard, pull my wits about me, and start pulling off my clothes
slowly, keeping my eyes trained on it, because I don’t want to lose the very few items I have to wear. I
only have two outfits, and they are already worn and scruffy from constant use, so I can’t afford to lose
a single item by shredding it to scraps by turning when dressed.
I know I can outrun this demon with its head on killing, but I can’t grab all my stuff and food and run if I
do. I have no time, and it’s nearer my possessions than me. I can’t leave it all behind me as this
asshole will chew it all to shit. It’s mine and I need what little belongings I have. It’s literally all I have,
and as it tramples over my backpack, a little grey of Colton’s t-shirt peeking out, something inside of me
refuses to take this crap from some overgrown, mangy, flea-bitten teddy. It’s all I have left of HIM and
I’ll be damned if I’m leaving it behind.