The Wolves

📅 Published on May 26, 2020

“The Wolves”

Written by WordDogger
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 7.38/10. From 8 votes.
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I think there’s three of them still out there — three wolves. Aside from the one I killed, I’ve only seen two at any given time, but they’re distinct enough for me to tell them apart — there are three of them. We’ve been trapped in my cabin for two days now, and until the snow lets up, there’s no way for us to know how much longer it’ll be.

My grandparents bought this cabin on Priestly Mountain, not far from Priestly Lake, right after the end of World War II, and our family has been making the drive north from Bangor to spend time here ever since. Some of my earliest childhood memories are from here — but none of them are anything like this. As far as I know, there aren’t any wolf packs in Maine, but you’d see the occasional stray down from Canada. I’ve never known one to be aggressive, though. You’d see them watching you from a distance, but you couldn’t approach them. These three wolves, though, they won’t leave. I’m pretty sure they mean to have us.

I should’ve known something was up — if only I’d paid closer attention. My wife and I have been here for four days, since Wednesday, and we started seeing rabid animals on the first day. It’s not common to see skunks this time of year, but we’ve seen three — all rabid. I had to shoot one of them. But then the firing pin of my granddaddy’s old shotgun broke, and I don’t have what I need to fix it.

Our current predicament didn’t start until Friday morning. We’d seen the weather reports, and they were forecasting that two separate squalls would be blowing in — one from Lake Ontario and the other from the Fleuve Saint-Laurent Estuaire. Our cabin is close to the northern tip of the lake, and there’s only one road in and out of the area. If much snow falls, you’re pretty much socked in, so Lucy and I decided to run to the store one last time so we’d have all the provisions we’d need in case we got stuck here past the weekend. I got a case of Yuengling as well — nothing like sitting by a warm fire with a cold beer on a winter night.

It started snowing pretty hard while we were at the store, and the narrow little road that led to our place was already fairly treacherous as we ascended the mountainside on our way back. I call it a road; the truth is it’s more like two ruts in the brush. Still, we made it to the cabin just before noon, and parked the truck where we always do — under the open-sided carport about twenty paces from the front door.

I carried several bags in, and was about to start back for the beer when I heard a blood-curdling scream from the front yard. It was Lucy, shrieking my name, over and over. Frank! Frank! It still gives me chills just hearing it in my head. Immediately, I bolted back outside, and saw Lucy lying on the ground with a wolf latched onto her leg. The wolf was trying to drag her away, apparently, and Lucy was doing her best to hold on, clawing through the snow at the frozen ground while kicking at the wolf.

I knew I had an axe in the back of my truck, so I scooped it up as I ran past the carport, and without giving much thought to the possibility that I might miss, I swung the axe down hard and split the wolf’s skull. Lucy managed to push herself clear as the wolf twitched, its blood staining the snow.

I bent down to her, and she clenched up against me, sobbing into my chest. I looked down at her leg; the wolf had ripped through her jeans and had done some serious damage to her thigh — it was bleeding pretty good. I needed to get her in and tend to it. I also looked at the wolf; just like I feared it would, it had foamy saliva all around its mouth. No doubt it was rabid. My mind began to race — I needed to get her to the hospital for treatment as soon as possible. But how could I? It had already been snowing hard for better than an hour, and our little road, which was just over a mile long, would already be impassable — at least for those with common sense. Going down was a lot more treacherous than coming up. Maybe I could call for an ambulance — but they were less likely to make it safely down our road than we were. Maybe the sheriff?

That concern got pushed aside, though, once Lucy let out with another shriek and tried to force herself away from me. She said something like oh no, and she pushed at my face till I turned to see what had put this new fear in her. There were two wolves coming down our drive at a trot, right at us, and they weren’t all that far away. I got to my feet quick as I could, bringing her up with me, and then I started for the cabin, her injured leg dragging a trail through the snow.

I kept looking back over my shoulder — the wolves had broken into a full run by the time I drug Lucy up on the porch, and they had made it up the steps by the time I’d gotten us in the cabin. A split second longer and they would’ve made it to us, but I managed to slam the door just in time. I’m not sure why, but I locked the deadbolt, and then I took Lucy over to the couch. I could hear their claws clacking on the porch, but after a minute or so they scampered away. Suddenly, I remembered that we’d left the window over the sink open to let the air circulate while we were gone, so I raced over to it and slammed it shut just as one of the wolves stood up on its hind legs and looked through it — right at me. My god, that wolf was big. It had to’ve been five feet from the ground to the base of that window.

The wolf’s eyes were intense, amber and evil, and I could see all his teeth in his malevolent grin. Also, just like his companion, his mouth was foamy. I banged on the glass and yelled, trying to scare him away, but he didn’t scare. I did, though, because he stayed right there, looking right back at me. We stared through the glass at each other for more than just a second or two before he finally eased himself down and trotted back toward the front of the house.

The cabin was essentially one-story — one big den combined with the kitchen, and one bedroom and a bathroom. There was a loft over the den. I made my way around the cabin in a hurry, checking that all the windows and doors were shut and latched. They were. Only then did I grab the first aid kit and make my way back to Lucy.

She had already removed her pants by then and was examining her wound. It was still bleeding, but once I’d cleaned off all the blood I was relieved to find that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. It was still nasty, though, and would’ve required stitches were it not an animal bite. Never stitch up an animal bite — that’s what I’ve always been told, so you won’t sew up all that filthy bacteria from the animal’s mouth.

I held a damp compress on the wound until it finally stopped bleeding, and then I doused it with rubbing alcohol. Finally, I patted it dry and smeared it with antibacterial ointment. We considered laying gauze across the wound, but in the end decided to leave it open.

Like me, she’d seen the wolf’s mouth. That coupled with the rabid skunks we’d seen earlier had led her to the same conclusion I had drawn — rabies. Doctors say you should receive medical treatment for rabies within seventy-two hours of exposure — some say forty-eight. Otherwise, things could get pretty ugly. Depending on a number of factors, the incubation period for rabies could be days or weeks, or occasionally even years. In any case, though, once a person started showing symptoms, the deal was done. As far as I knew, there had only been one case ever of a person recovering from rabies once they’d become symptomatic, some young girl from India or someplace. Bottom line — we had to get her to the doctor, and soon.

That was going to be easier said than done, however. First, it had already been snowing hard for several hours. Even with chains and four-wheel drive, it would be all but impossible to make it down the mountain without sliding off the road and over a ledge. Second, and perhaps more immediate, there were wolves outside our cabin, rabid wolves, and they seemed to be inordinately fixated on us. I doubted we could make it to our truck without being attacked.

On the off chance that there were possibilities I wasn’t aware of, I called for an ambulance. As I suspected, though, they had no way of reaching us in the storm we were under. They couldn’t even call in a chopper — too hazardous to fly. I then called the sheriff and explained our situation. He was sympathetic to our plight, but he was all the way over in Ashland, nearly fifty miles from us. We both knew there was nothing he could do. As frustrating and surreal as it was, it appeared we were stuck — at least until the storm broke.

I went to the front door and peeked through the little window, and what I saw only added to the surreality of the situation. The wolf I’d killed was still there where we’d left it, though already partially covered by snow. The strange thing was that the other two wolves, the big one and the other, were nuzzling the dead wolf, even licking at its brain through the gash my axe had made. I’d been around animals all my life, and never had I seen any of them behave that way toward one of their own dead. It was bizarre. The big one must’ve noticed me watching, because he raised his massive head and looked right at me. I flinched away from the window.

It was starting to feel a little chilly inside our cabin, so I threw another log into our stove. That’s when I discovered another potential problem. We only had half a dozen sticks of wood left; the rest was stacked about ten yards outside our kitchen door between two trees. Unless our uninvited guests decided to leave, it was going to be risky to get at. On the other hand, it was already bone-chilling cold, and it was going to get colder once the sun went down — much colder.

We didn’t talk much that afternoon — we both knew the score. I made us some food that evening, and then we just sat around contemplating our predicament. Once it got dark, I noticed that the dome light was on inside our truck; Lucy must’ve been attacked before she closed the door, because it was standing open. It was going to run the battery down unless I closed it. As I began to ponder if I could even consider such a move, though, one of the wolves rose up inside the cab. Apparently, it had found the bench seat to its liking. Needless to say, that foreclosed the possibility of me venturing outside to shut the door.

We didn’t discuss it, but we both stayed in the den that night, Lucy on the couch and me in my recliner with my axe across my lap. It just didn’t feel right going into our bedroom where were couldn’t see anything going on out front. Every so often during the night, one of the wolves would scuttle up onto the porch, and a few times I heard it sniffing at the front door. Once, there was a loud bang at the back door, as if something had thrown itself against it, testing its strength, but nothing else came of it. Needless to say, it was a fairly sleepless night.

The next morning, it was still snowing — there was nearly two feet of accumulation already. I discovered another bad omen when I checked on Lucy. The flesh around her wound was swollen and angry looking, hot to the touch. It appeared as though an infection was setting in. I cleaned and redressed it, and not knowing what else to do, I made us breakfast. Lucy only managed to eat a few bites.

I saw something interesting out the front window, though. The dead wolf was completely covered with snow, and there were two wolves resting near where its body had been, watching the cabin. The interesting thing was that neither of the wolves was the large one that’d stood up and stared at me through the kitchen window. I looked around — couldn’t see him anywhere. Also, both the wolves from yesterday had been grayish brown. One of the wolves lying in our drive then was more reddish in color. I didn’t quite know what to make of it — whether it was good that the big one was gone, or bad that another wolf had shown up. In the end I decided that it didn’t really matter. Either way, we were still stuck in the cabin, and the snow was still falling.

By then, I’d begun to question the initial assumption I’d made about the wolves being rabid. It was understandable that I had, given that we’d seen the skunks and that the wolves were foaming at the mouth. Rabid animals didn’t congregate, though — not even pack animals. Rabid animals went crazy and wandered off alone, attacking any other animal they came across. That wasn’t what these wolves were doing at all. Aside from the fact that one of them had attacked Lucy, they’d remained calm, calculating. It was extremely unusual for them to stay in our yard watching us, as though they were waiting us out, but that wasn’t the same as crazy. I began to wonder if maybe they’d contracted something else, something maybe akin to rabies, but . . . more sinister.

Lucy grew even more listless throughout the day, and the infection around her wound seemed to be getting worse. I tried to be judicious in using our wood, but by the middle of the afternoon I’d had to put the last stick in the stove. I didn’t relish the prospect of going outside, particularly with the snow still falling and diminishing my view, but I also didn’t think we’d be able to make it through the night without a fire. The weatherman said the overnight temperature was going to be close to zero, and especially given Lucy’s worsening condition, we needed heat if we were going to survive.

As I watched our last stick of wood burn itself away, and knowing that I didn’t really have a choice, I finally found the courage to venture out. First, I went to the front door and looked — both wolves were still lying where they’d been. Then, I went to the kitchen door and watched through its window for several minutes, trying to be as sure as I could that there was nothing moving out there. I only saw trees and snow, so slowly, as quietly as I could, I unlocked the door and turned the knob. The old hinges creaked softly as I slowly opened the door — just wide enough so I could pass — and then I stepped outside into the snow. Still nothing, so carefully, cautiously, I stepped my way to the woodpile.

I still seemed to be alone once I got there, so I began gathering a load of wood in my arms. Once I’d gathered as much as I could reasonably carry, I turned to make my way back. My breath caught in my throat, however, as the large wolf walked into my view from behind the cabin. I froze, and after a moment, the large animal sat, resting on his haunches, looking right at me. I’d expected him to charge, but he hadn’t. I’d expected the other two wolves to come rushing at me from the drive, but they hadn’t. Everything was still — everything was quiet.

Finally, out of necessity, I started to breathe again. I calculated that I was no closer to the kitchen door than the wolf was, so there was no way I could beat him there should it become a race. Instead, and for lack of anything else to do, I took a slow, steady step, then another. The wolf only watched me. I took another step, and the wolf stood, his eyes still leveled on mine. If he wanted me, he had me — there was no questioning it. So, because I had no choice, I took yet another step. The wolf held his ground, as he did as I walked the rest of the way to the cabin and through the door. Once inside, I dropped the wood to the floor and slammed the door behind me. My heart was rattling in my chest.

Once I’d regained my composure, I peered out the window, but the large wolf was gone. I went to the den to look out front, and discovered that the two smaller wolves were gone as well. In their place, though, was a young bull moose. He was standing in our drive, facing the cabin. Before I’d had time to consider it, the moose started coming, running directly at my window. It occurred to me in that small space of time that if he wanted to, he could crash right through the glass, leaving us with no barrier at all to the outside. Before I lurched for cover, however, the large wolf came flashing from behind the carport and caught the moose by the front shoulder, sending him crashing to the ground. Just as fast, one of the other wolves joined in and took the moose by the throat, pinching shut his windpipe. There was a struggle, but only a brief one, and then the moose lay still. Only then did the massive wolf rip into the moose’s belly and begin to eat. After he’d had his fill, he raised his head, showing me his bloody muzzle, and then he walked away. Once he’d gone from sight, the other wolf — the one with the reddish coat — joined the other, and the two of them ate their fill before lying down next to the poor beast they’d just killed.

I actually had a fleeting thought that maybe, just maybe since they’d eaten, they might lose interest in us and move along. But, no. They weren’t leaving, were they? They were staying right there, watching us, and waiting.

This was insanity. What in the name of God was going on? I screamed at the wolves; I screamed at the top of my lungs for them to leave us alone — but they didn’t. Of course, they didn’t. They just continued to lie there in the snow next to the slain moose, watching the cabin.

It snowed for the rest of the day. Lucy’s condition seemed to be deteriorating; she was growing more listless, and didn’t show any interest at all in eating supper. I called the sheriff again, pleading for him to help us, begging him to do something, but he only explained to me in as calm a voice as he could muster what I already knew — that there was nothing he could do. Everything in our part of Maine was shut in. None of the roads were passable, and there was no way a helicopter could fly in the storm. He stayed on the phone with me, though, until I managed to get hold of myself. For that, at least, I was grateful.

At least we’d be warm, I told myself, and aside from Lucy’s health, we didn’t appear to be in imminent danger. She’d stopped making sense, though, had moved closer and closer to delirium. What was this disease these wolves had anyway? Was it new? Were they even sick at all, or was it — something else? What was to become of Lucy if we didn’t get her medical help soon? The infection seemed to be getting worse, and she’d developed a fever. Would she lose her leg? Her life? Or would she become — like them? Was it possible that she’d soon become a danger to herself? To me?

By then, I’d hardly slept in two days. Mercifully, though, that evening I managed to fall into a deep sleep there on my recliner. I only woke up once during the night that I can recall. I’d awakened to the chorus of the three wolves howling in our front yard, but that hadn’t been the scary part. The scary part had been finding Lucy standing still as a stone right next to my chair, looking down at me. Once I’d found my center, I more or less led her back to the couch — I’m not sure she’d even known she’d been up. Only after she’d appeared to go to sleep did I dare close my eyes again.

Anyway, that brings us to this morning. I woke up to the still falling snow feeling something like resolve, resolve that today was the day I had to do something about our situation. This just couldn’t go on indefinitely — there had to be something I could do. The weatherman on the local station was talking about record snows, using words like unprecedented, and no end in sight. It was unbelievable. I had to do something — I simply had to.

I convinced myself that maybe, just maybe I could make my way down our little road in our truck. Maybe the depth of the snow would serve as a sort of immediate, all-enclosing guardrail that would allow me to navigate my way off the mountain and make it to . . . somewhere, anywhere. Maybe I could do it — I just had to be willing to give it a go.

I tried to rouse Lucy to discuss my plan, but I couldn’t get her to wake up. Also, her fever seemed to be getting worse. All the more reason for me to get us off the mountain.

I remembered that Lucy’s door had been open all this time, so the truck’s battery would be dead as a doornail. I went to the pantry and found our battery charger, plugged in as it always was for emergencies — though I’m pretty sure that neither I nor any other person who’d ever been here had ever imagined an emergency like this one. I told Lucy what I was about to do, even though I knew she probably wasn’t hearing me. It gave me comfort to tell her.

I went to the front door, and as fate would have it, none of the wolves were lying in the drive as they had been yesterday. There was only the moose, half-eaten and bloody. The wolves were nowhere to be seen. My plan was to carry the battery charger and my axe in a quick dash to the passenger door, close myself in the cab, and figure it out from there. It might take a while to get it all done, but I’d persevere. I had to. Our lives depended on it.

Once I’d satisfied myself that it was safe, I reached to the doorknob and gave it a slow turn. Just as I took one step onto the porch, however, I saw one of the wolves rise up from inside our truck. My heart sank, but that immediately became of lesser concern. I heard it before I saw it, a blur of reddish fur and teeth coming at me from the left. Before I could react at all, the wolf had latched its foamy mouth to my left hand, sending my axe skittering across the porch and into the yard. I was stunned, and immediately began trying to yank my hand free, but the wolf wasn’t inclined to let me loose. Panic swept over me — I could feel its teeth grinding against the bones in my hand. Then I saw it, though, and the pain in my hand became secondary to the fear that came bursting from my heart. There was a gash across the top of the wolf’s head — and I don’t mean an old scar. It was a fresh gash, a good six inches long and several inches wide. It was the gash I’d made with my axe just two days before. I could see its brain, the damaged brain, between the ridges of fur and bone. But how could that be? How could it possibly be? This wolf was dead. I’d seen it — I’d killed it! Yet here it was on my porch, tearing away at my hand.

I knew I had to get loose, but it didn’t appear I was strong enough to wrench my hand from its jaws. I’d lost my axe, but the weight I felt in my other hand, that was my battery charger. On instinct, I swung the charger around and crashed it down on the wolf’s head, on its already broken skull. It made a small yelping sound, but more importantly, the wolf loosened its grip ever so slightly on my hand, enough for me to pull it free. I leapt back inside the cabin and slammed the door behind me.

My hand was shredded. Flesh was ripped on top and on bottom. I could see bloody bone in several places. I noticed Lucy on the couch — she hadn’t stirred at all.

My adrenaline was fueling me; but still, I knew that I had to clean my wounds. I went to the sink and gave my hand a thorough washing, ignoring the pain, and then I wrapped it in a clean cup towel before heading back to the den, where I’d left the first aid kit. I sat in my chair, the kit opened before me on the coffee table; but then I looked at my wife, still unconscious on the couch, bloody puss oozing from her still-open wound. All at once, an unfamiliar darkness swept over me.

I’m sure I must’ve been in some state of shock as well as being mentally exhausted, but the thought that came to me clear as day was this: I was staring at my immediate future. My wife, that nasty wound, the incoherence, now the unconsciousness — and it was still snowing. Still. Snowing. The wolves were still outside, and it was still snowing.

I started to call the sheriff again out of a general delusion of hopefulness that most of us in this country grow up with. Things would always turn out, wouldn’t they? But I’d just been attacked by a dead wolf. Somehow, calling the sheriff just didn’t seem that important. I tossed my phone on the table, reclined back in my chair, and closed my eyes.

Rating: 7.38/10. From 8 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by WordDogger
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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