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Victoria eased through the trees, slipping along as silently as a shadow. A barely audible rustle in the leaves to the left snapped her head around. Her eyes strained in the predawn gloom but caught nothing. Her nose twitched as the breeze brought a familiar smell to her nostrils…wet dog. A timber wolf stepped out of the mist in front of her. It moved to within about 15 feet then stopped and sat back on its haunches. The wolf looked Victoria in the eye without fear. In fact, the only emotion she could detect from the creature was a slightly curious indifference. She imagined it simply caught a new smell and came to investigate. Curiosity now satisfied; it waited to see what she would do. Victoria stood frozen and the moment crystallized in her mind’s eye. She could hear a buzzing fly close to her ear, could feel a single bead of sweat sliding down her spine, and could pick out every hair on the animals muzzle. Hell, she probably could have counted them if she’d cared to. She inched backward slowly, and it seemed that the wolf would just let her move away. Her foot came down on a stick hidden in the leaves and it made a loud pop that echoed loudly through the taboo. Instantly, the wolf bounded up and let loose and ear splitting howl. There was movement all around her as several of the beast’s pack mates moved into view at their leaders call. They moved forward in unison…
Victoria's Survival Guide - Lesson #5,652
a smidgeon of mild profanity
Oh crap! thought Victoria The truck’s only thirty yards away but it might as well be thirty miles. If I turn and run I’ll prompt their predatory instincts and I’m not in the mood to be wolf kibble.
Her mind was racing as she went into survival mode. The morning ramble had suddenly turned into life or death preambles. Think! You stupid dame! Her eyes were locked with the lead wolf’s mesmerizing gaze. Stop looking at him! Remember what you learned in letter carrier school about brave and fear biters. This is no cream puff of a dog that yaps around your ankles and needs to be challenged. This is the ultimate brave biter and he’s calling the shots. What to do?
Victoria willed herself to lower her eyes while keeping tabs on the wolf’s movement in her peripheral vision. The others were milling about in anticipation of alpha wolf’s prompt.
Alpha wolf! All those fur and fang nature shows I’ve watched might save my skin! Victoria! For once in your life act submissive! She began to whine with plaintive zeal as she hunched over mimicing those ingratiating canine moves. If they were really hungry you’d already be brunch. Keeping up pitiful appearances, Victoria retreated inch by inch as the wolf stood poised to pounce but she felt he’d relaxed a shade or two. Then he advanced a couple of steps.
Ack! Do something else! Victoria frantically implored herself. What? What could be more abjectly passive? It came to her in a split second. I know! Pee! There’s that saying that you had the piss scared right out of you. Never was there a more opportune moment to prove it true. She quickly gave silent thanks for the four cups of jo she’d tossed back a few hours ago and signaled her bladder to void. Victoria felt the warm stream saturating her long johns and took a furtive look at the wolf. He stopped and his nostrils twitched as she kept moving backwards waking mewling noises. Never had Victoria felt more pathetic.
The wolf turned his attention to one of the pack and they nuzzled muzzle to muzzle. Their antics turned into a rollicking gambol as the rest of the pack watched. Must be the alpha female. she thought Oh! Who gives a shit? It’s time to get outta Dodge!
Still moving in reverse, Victoria ramped up her speed and scrambled to the safety of her truck. She almost slammed her hand in the door in her hurry to get it shut. Instinctively, she reached for her rifle. Wait just a minute cupcake! she admonished herself, you’re alive by the grace of that charitable animal so, for Christ’s sake, chill out!
Victoria lit herself a smoke and watched the wolves melt into the willows. This is one tale I’m going to keep to myself. Can’t have the local louts knowing I’m capable of being a pussy.
"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo