I am dying.
I know it to be true.
I am dying.
I do not know whether the bullet has pierced my skin yet. It could be speeding towards me, and any second now it will pierce through my chest, and I will die.
I could be suspended in the time it takes for the pain to come. After the bullet, before the pain.
Suspended in time. Then the pain comes. It’s a flash, a jolt, almost unnoticeable. I do not feel it. I cannot feel it. I am too filled with anger to feel pain, even for a second. Anger and hate, they dominate me.
And then, I’m on the ground. My eyes are open; I didn’t realize they were closed. I am on ground, white ground.
My first thought is that it’s snow, but there are no trees. Nothing but white ground. And then I see her. The wolf, the one I watched die at my feet. She is trotting away, fading into the distance. I follow her, running into the fog.
I remember how I died, a bullet. A bullet through my chest. No, track it back farther. A bullet in my chest, from the barrel of a rifle. The rifle in the hands of a man. An evil man, who I have known for mere minutes, and yet I already hate more than should be possible. Not because he took my life, that is all meaningless. Because he took hers. The wolf’s life. And probably her pup’s lives by now as well. Yes, an evil man. A horrible, horrible, evil man. That’s who he was.
A man who would kill his own mother if he thought it would get him something. And he would laugh doing it.
But why? What would he get from it?
A fresh wolf pelt is valuable, but he shot her in the side. Surely no fur merchant
would buy a pelt with a bullet hole. Power? Perhaps. Perhaps he wanted to know that he could, with one single shot, take something’s life. Perhaps he wanted to see red stain the ground as she crumpled and fell. Perhaps he wanted to see her eyes dull, and then glaze over.
The hatred fills me again. I don’t regret my decision for an instant. Even if it didn’t save her, it would do something. It would show him that some people care enough to give their life for a dead body and a couple of shivering wolf pups. Perhaps then he might change, and he would be forced to live with the pain of what he did.
I wished he would suffer the same fate. He had good aim, on both accounts. Hopefully he was in the army. Then maybe he’d be shot in the chest. Maybe he would wake up on a black ground that burned like hot coals, and made him feel like he was forever falling to his death. Maybe his conscious would weigh him down with a million pounds of guilt. Maybe he would gaze in the distance and see the white ground with the contented people and animals walking towards the-
I cut myself off. Walking toward where? Where was I going? I had lost sight of the wolf, and for a second I fear that I had taken a wrong turn. That I would be sent to some other place, a place where I wouldn’t be able to truly come to understand the creature I tried to save.
My worry evaporates with a flash, a light. I was in a large room. More like a cavern. Coating the walls were thousands of doors, some thin, some wide as the width of a house, some tall as a human, some so tiny they were barely visible, some on the walls, near the ceiling. Some actually on the ceiling. And in this room there were millions of beings moving around. A door would open and an animal or human would enter through it and the door would close. More beings were constantly being added, as fast as they left.
I study them for a while. Each door represents a different species. I step farther into the room, facing the human door, and dread what I would find. Many others pass by me, but it does not allow me to enter. I turn around, and began pacing around the cavern.
And then I see her. The wolf. She disappears into a medium sized door, and it closes behind her. The pain, the sadness I feel is extreme. I mourn her as much as I hate the man. The evil man. Thinking about him brings red spots to my vision.
As I stand there, more wolves pass through. And then the pups. The pups he murdered, in cold blood, just as he did their mother. Just as he did me. Did that mean I am one of them? Did that mean that I could enter with them, that I could bond to them because of my hatred of my murderer? Of our murderer.
I step in front of the door. It opens. I walk through, and as I do I feel a pain that I have never felt before. Then I am back, hiding in the bushes, watching a mother wolf watch her pups play. But this time I’m not myself. I am seeing it in a detached sort of way.
The man crept through the bush behind her. The crack as he stepped on a branch. The speed she jumped up and started to turn around. The bang of the rifle as he pulled the trigger. My shock at what happened. The blood pooling around the body. The pups cowering back into the bush. The man stepping up to the body. The confidence I felt as I stepped in front of him. The surprise in his voice. The annoyance in his voice. The determination in my voice. The rage in his voice. The noise in my voice. The squeeze of the trigger. The second bang. The thoughts. The pain. The rage. The white ground. The mist. The room. The doors. The wolves. The door. The memories.
And I am back. Back on the ground, in a forest. A forest full of wolves. I stand up, on four feet. Confused, I look down. I am covered in fur. I have a graceful, lean, strong and beautiful body that was supported by four powerful legs. I have a long furry tail. I have sharp sight, smell, and hearing. I can almost taste the air.
I am a wolf.
I know it to be true.
I am a wolf.