Wolves of the Black Lake
Published on WRITE ON No 50
His fur is silky black, blue eyes wild, teeth glistening white – white like the snow that fell last winter, like the oleander that grows by the ravine. Teeth sharper than knives. A growl rips from his throat, then he bares his fangs at me. The hair raises on my neck but I bare my teeth back.
Half-starved and on the run, I didn’t think it could get much worse. But now I’ve crossed the path of Likaon, the malicious Alpha of the Northern Pack. He was named for the ferocious werewolf from Greek mythology. Likaon rules the wolf pack in a barbaric form and is only obeyed because there is no other option…except death.
The pack. My pack. I ran with them once. Everything was fine until Likaon set his sights on a higher rank. There was an order: Alpha, Beta, Omega. My mother was Beta – second in command. But that made her a target. The others supposed that Nova fell into the ravine but I know the truth. My mother was the most surefooted of them all. Likaon would have killed any in his way.
And so Likaon became Beta and bided his time until the old Alpha died in the winter. Then began a dark age. He was feared by all, with no-one to oppose him. But just in case, he exiled Nova’s family so no one would discover his secret. A father wolf and bedraggled cub were cast out of their home, out into the cold and the snow, sure to die.
I bare my teeth again. Despite the odds, I am alive. That small cub, now grown large and wily for my years. I am staring down the most brutal, merciless wolf, feared by all packs on the great plains.
Likaon snarls at me. “So Nova’s pup still lives.” His voice is as sharp as his teeth. He smiles at me, a mirthless, leering smile. A rugged scar has gouged through his left eye, blinding it. “You’d better run, son of Nova. I will give you a head start for sport.” His eyes narrow. He is amused.
My heart pounds, but not with fear. Anger runs fierce through my veins. I claw the ground and crouch low, snarling again. “I am not easy pickings, Likaon. I have grown these seven years. You will not dispatch me like you did my trusting mother!” Seven hard years surviving without the pack have made me lean and fit and more than a little dangerous. The land to the east of the Black Lake was my mother’s. She should have been Alpha. Not Likaon. Anger overwhelms me and I spring at him, clawing for his throat.
Likaon leaps too. We meet mid-air. I twist from his gnashing jaws. He swipes and catches me on the nose. I howl in rage, dancing backwards. Warm blood trickles through my fur. Likaon advances again, grinning. He is older, stronger too. This will be no easy fight. I glance over my shoulder. It is time to run.
I race across the brittle turf, plunging into the murky lake. I shoot through the water, the small webs between my toes speeding me on. Soon, I am crawling out of the lake, struggling for a grip on the grainy beach. Likaon snaps at my tail. Just in time I am off again. I tear across the grasses, up and down bluffs and rises. I reach a hill that never seems to end. Up and up we climb. I hear Likaon’s rasping breath at my shoulder. I race past scraggly shrubs on either side of the track. Then we are at the top, a deep chasm stretching out before us.
I spin around and plant my paws firmly into the earth. My plan has worked.
Likaon peers over the edge of the cliff. “The ravine. Clever.” He snaps his jaw. “But you will not beat me here either.”
We circle, darting out for quick attacks. Then, as we dance near the cliff edge, I stumble. I struggle to stand.
Likaon prowls forward. “Very fitting. Time to join your mother.” He prepares to strike. Then he leaps with force to shove me into the ravine.
It’s what I expect. I twist to the side, away from the crevasse. Likaon tumbles over and over, his cries whipping on the wind, down and down to the bottom of the ravine and the rapids below.
I raise my head and howl to my pack. I am their Alpha.
Zoological Writing Competition winner Years 7-8