Monday, September 1, 2014

The Wolves of Fossil Lake, Part One

Lying with her back pressed to the searing sand, Kathryn allowed herself a moment to reflect on the day. Her two younger brothers were in the lake, searching for fossils, while her parents rested in the lodge, too “tired” from the hiking. Kathy just thought they wanted some alone time, and wouldn’t begrudge them such a thing, despite her own needs going unfulfilled. Her parents had nixed the idea that she invite her new boyfriend along, fearing what the two teens might get up to when the lights were out and the moon was full.

“Hey, I found one!” Her youngest brother excitedly called out, breaching the surface, holding what looked like a three inch talon in his hand.
“Daniel! Be careful with that, it looks sharp!” Kathy called out, slightly worried of what her parents would say if she came back with a bloodied sibling.
Brandon, the middle child at the tender age of thirteen, broke the surface. “There are a lot of these down here… and they’re hollow.”
Kathy sat up in her chair, adjusting her sunglasses. “A lot of those claw-things?”
“Yeah, like forty or fifty.”
“Some kind of dinosaur must have died around here millions of years ago, and left all its nails for us to find!” Daniel cried exuberantly.
“Huh…” Kathy murmured, leaning back in her fold out chair.
The woods around the cove were light, allowing Kathy to see for a good distance before the haze of the day made vision impossible. The beach house, perched up on a ridge overlooking the cove, was a bike trail away, or a measly fifteen minute walk if you were hard pressed. The family had come out to Fossil Lake for Spring Break, as a sort of family getaway. So far it had been pretty cool, with hiking along the trails, finding wolf tracks, and gathering wood for a bonfire to be had on the beach later tonight. Brandon and Daniel had already constructed from dried timber the base for the bonfire, and set off to the side a good deal of broken branches and stripped bark to toss in to keep the fire going so they could tell spooky stories and make s’mores and hot dogs.
Kathy, meanwhile, had been working on her tan while reading the latest Vampire-romance novel to come out, Bloody Love. So far nothing good had happened, but the main character was still getting used to the new town she’d just moved to. Hopefully something juicy would occur soon, or Fossil Lake might find itself littered with trashy literature. A snap of twigs from across the cove made Kathy look up, her eyes widening at the sight before her.
A man in oversized overalls and shirt, stood at the edge of the woods, some distance from the opposite beach to Kathy. The boys had gone back to snorkeling and were busy gathered fossilized claws or whatever. The man was pale, with scars running down his face in long, razor thin lines. His throat bore a ragged, rough scar that made it look as if something had taken a bite out of him some time ago.
“Hey,” he said his voice chipper for a man that looked like he stepped out of a horror novel. Even his head bore scars, his bald head shoeing long slits that had been made, crisscrossing his skull in numerous spots. His teeth gleamed in the morning sun, a neat line of pearly whites.
“Hey,” Kathy replied, unsure of what to say.
“You the city-folk who’re renting the cabin?” The man asked, nodding towards the house on the ridge.
“Yeah, um, my family is here for the week.” She replied, folding her book closed in her lap.
“Sorry for stumbling on you guys like this, just, y’know, tracking a wolf.” He said, motioning to the ground. It was only now that she could see the rifle slung over his back.
“You’re hunting a wolf? They’re endangered!” Kathy exclaimed, outraged.
“Trust me when I say this, but this one is special. Needs to be put down. It’s, uh, it’s sick.” He offered lamely.
“Yeah, sick. Could infect other wolves with a uh, fatal, disease.”
“Are you a park ranger or something?” Kathy asked, noting that her brothers were now listening to the conversation.
The man smiled. “Something like that. I hunt down sick animals for a living.”
“Is that how you got those scars?” Daniel blurted out before having his hand slapped by Brandon, who looked at the man sheepishly.
“Yeah. Yeah, it’s how I uh, it’s how I got these scars, yup.” The man said, crossing his arms over his chest. “So anyway, if you folks see a wolf, just try and keep it away from you. The disease can be transmitted to humans and is, uh, fatal.”
“Are we safe here?” Kathy asked, looking the man in his eyes, his tired eyes.
The man swallowed nervously, before shaking his head slowly. “No. Nobody is safe until I bag this wolf.”
“Should we head back inside?” Kathy asked, standing up while wrapping a towel around her bikini clad form.
The man stared at her for a few tense moments, before shaking his head. “No. The wolf I’ve been hunting hurts other wolves over people. You yolks enjoy your stay at the cove, and enjoy that bonfire your building.”
The two boys looked to their partial construction and smiled. “You could tell it was a bonfire? How?”
The man smiled, his first genuine smile the entire conversation. “I grew up near a cove like this, farther up north. During the winter months my friends and I would build bonfires on the beach and toast freshly caught fish we’d fished up from the waters.”
“Oh Brandon, we should do that too!” Daniel said, like the idea had infested within his mind that it was something required of them.
The man shook his head. “No good to start fishing now, besides I saw you all drive in and didn’t see any fishing poles.”
“You saw us?” Kathy asked, sounding a little put off by it.
“No intention of spying I assure you, I was just setting traps and spraying wolf urine around. I was by the road and saw you all coming.”
“Yeah Kathy, chill out.” Brandon said, turning to regard the hunter. “That’s my sister Kathy, and this spaz is Daniel. I’m Brandon.”
The man nodded. “Ivan,” he said as way of introducing himself, tapping two fingers to his chest. “You just be careful of what could be lurking around the lake tonight. I will be out hunting, so stay out of the woods.”
“We’ll be here on the beach with the bonfire,” Brandon said with a smile. “Feel free to come on over for a hot dog.”
“Maybe I will,” Ivan said before turning and tromping back into the underbrush of the woods, his sagging overalls  holding several steel bear traps along chains that were clipped to his back pocket, the chains bouncing and jangling off of his leg as he moved.

No comments:

Post a Comment