Blizzard – Part 1

It was snowing outside of the wolf’s warm den. It was warm inside with her puppies, but in her heart, it was even colder than it was outside. The brown little puppies yawned and tumbled around on top of each other in their restless sleep. The snowflakes danced down onto the ground, like they were taunting the puppies to come and meet death. 


The wolf laid her head down on her grey paws and whimpered. They wouldn’t be safe there in the cold all winter. With no pack, the wolf would have to go and hunt by herself…out in the cold snow, where there is no guarantee of coming back from winter’s icy grip. 


Her amber eyes didn’t twinkle like they did before. They didn’t have the same glint of happiness, the same brightness that appeared when she played. But there was no going back now, no, not when the pack did what they did. 


Just thinking of the memory made the wolf growl. Her puppies rolled on the floor, irritated by the sudden movement of the wolf. She looked down at them, apologetic and sorrowful. What will I do with them? We’re only barely surviving…they’re starving…starving…


Starving. Ivory’s stomach whined in hunger, and she looked up from her sleep with her bright blue eyes. The moment she did, she knew that something was wrong. Ivory carefully pawed through the maze of sleeping puppies who looked just like her, and shivered as she reached the edge of the den. Out there, there was only snow as far as the eye could see. 


Her grey fur ruffled in the furious wind. It wasn’t long like her mother’s, and it was more like fluff than fur, after all. She called out, but her voice drifted away in the wind. No matter how loud her call was, it was no louder than the storm that consumed the forest. She gave up, treading over to the back of the den. Starving…


Ivory’s mother had left for food. But food was impossible to find here. She would be lost before she reached a rabbit burrow, lost in the cold snow. It was painful to think about, and Ivory squeezed her eyes shut in order to push the thought out of her mind. Please no, she’ll be back, she will! She’ll be back with a big animal for us all to eat, and we won’t starve, and everything will be fine, because she’s coming back! I see her! I see her!


Ivory barked. Her breathing quickened as she squinted to see the figure that was approaching. It was smaller than her mother, with pointy ears and the scent of flesh that reeked from the figure’s muzzle. It was not her mother as she’d thought it was. 


Her heart stopped, and she backed away from the figure. It had halted in front of the den, peering inside. A low growl rested in its throat. Ivory didn’t dare to breathe, to look at it. This intruder was not a wolf. It was like a wolf the size of a fox. Coyote.


It sniffed, slowly walking inside the den. It eyed the sleeping puppies, suddenly excited. It did not see Ivory, as she was hidden in the back. It suddenly snatched the one at the front. Camden! No! Wake up, Camden, wake up! 


Ivory stifled a gasp and pushed herself up against the dirty wall of the den as Camden let himself be taken, barely aroused by the coyote at all. He probably thinks it’s just Mother. The coyote eyed the inside carefully, as if saying to the sleeping pups, “I’ll be back”. 


The warmth of the den that used to be so comforting all of a sudden made Ivory nauseous. She stumbled, dizzy, shocked by what she had seen, unsure what to do. The rest of her siblings would be taken, too, and there was no way she could stop it.


With a loud thud, Ivory fell to the ground next to the other puppies, eyes closing slowly. No, please…


The kidnapping of the others was witnessed by Ivory in a sleeping state. Every so often, she would smell the blood that dripped off the coyote’s grotesque muzzle. Eventually, the coyotes had been there so often that the odor hung in the air, making all of the puppies uncomfortable. 


A couple of them had put up a fight before going, but none of them were strong enough to come out of their sleep for long, as they were so weak from hunger that they were unable to be completely conscious. Ivory herself was suffering from the lack of food. All she wanted to do was sleep, and in the next few days, she found that her large, fluffy stomach had risen up to show her ribs. Her legs were brittle and she hadn’t been able to bathe due to her mother’s absence. She was beginning to think that perhaps her mother would never come back. 


Soon, all other eight puppies were gone, all but one, who lay just in front of Ivory. It was her beautiful sister, Isabelle. Her mother had always adored Isabelle. She was the second oldest, and she seemed to be the gracious one, the one who let everyone else feed before herself. But now she rested in the den where so much of her family had been taken from, with no food and no one to share it with but Ivory.


Isabelle too had become like Ivory, skinny and weak. Her fur was matted, and didn’t keep the warmth in like it used to. Ivory and Isabelle now laid in the den, facing each other, resting. They didn’t have to communicate; their eyes said it all. 


Oh Isabelle, I know you’re starving. I am too. But there’s nothing we can do now. If we go out in the snow, we won’t be able to find our way back. We’ll die in the blizzard. 


They sat for a while like that, listening to the constant whispering of the trees and whistling of the wind. Ivoryyyyyy… It seemed to say. Carefulll…


It all happened all of a sudden, too quick for Ivory to cry out a warning to her sister. It was too late. With a flash, Isabelle was gone, thrashing in the coyote’s jaws. Ivory pinned her ears back and barked at the coyote, but he just glared at her. Who do you think you are? He seemed to say. We’ll be back for you. And you’ll meet the same fate as your sister…death. 


Ivory’s eyes widened as the coyote stalked away into the snow, marking his paw prints down on the fresh plain of flakes. He was disappearing, and it was just Ivory in the den then. A wave of panic fell onto her as she found that he was barely visible in the snow, and she decided to do something that she never thought she would do. 


She followed the coyote into the blizzard.


It was even colder than she had anticipated. Having not grown her big wolf fur yet and still encased in fluff, the snow pierced through the warmth, cooling Ivory quickly. She squinted her eyes and fought against the urge to run back to the den, dragging her paws in the thick blanket of ice and snow that covered the ground. Ivory could barely see but kept on going. 


Isabelle! Ivory howled out for her sister, but her voice could not match the powerful blast of the wind and snow. Her breathing began to intensify, and she could feel her heart pounding against the barrier of her skin. All that could be seen in the distance was white; the pawprints of the coyote were gone as well.


Ivory turned back and began to run, only to realize that she didn’t even know if that was the way towards the den or not. She pinned her ears back and stopped running, shuffling her paws around in the snow, which was increasingly hard since the snow was the type of snow that was more like ice. Ivory stood for a second, the wind blowing around her, the snowflakes moving too fast to even be seen separately. All hopes are gone. That thought dawned on Ivory, and she looked down at her legs that were nearly stuck in the snow in helplessness. She nestled down into the little cave that her paws had dug and closed her eyes. She would never survive…and she never even got to really live in the first place. She had never met her pack. She would never create one. She was going to die.


All was silent except for the weather’s ear splitting whoosh that came about when it was least expected. The ache that lived in Ivory’s stomach from her hunger crawled slowly towards her heart, caving around it. She closed her eyes harder. She felt fear, sadness, and hopelessness. It all seemed like a dream. Maybe it was, maybe she would simply wake up and she was in a warm den with her siblings and mother, alive and well. Maybe if she just…


Tinkle. Crunch. Crunch. Tinkle. Tinkle. 


The noises stopped. A soft warmth fell down onto Ivory’s back, and she brought her head up from the snow. A frightening sight was waiting for Ivory; a human face looking straight at her, not a foot away from her tiny, trembling body. 


He wore a puffy jacket and pants that seemed to increase the bulk of the already huge man. He wore a curious expression on his face, and a light illuminated the space around him that came from a lantern that he had set down just near Ivory’s little cave.


Ivory had no strength to yelp or run, so she simply stayed where she sat, looking at the man with her glassy blue eyes. Fear was apparent in her face, but there was no intent to harm that came from the man.


“Edgar! What is it? We’re wasting our time. The dogs are freezing. Besides, it’s probably just a rock.”


Ivory shifted her gaze towards something that she had not noticed before; a sled with dogs waiting with docility in their prideful stance. Ivory had not seen any of this before, and whimpered slightly at the dogs who had not seemed to sense her at all. There was yet another man standing near the dogs, the one who had yelled at the man named Edgar. He wore similar clothing and his voice was gruff and deep.


Ivory allowed herself to be picked up by the man with no protest. His hands were warm and gave her a sense of comfort that she had only ever felt with her mother. He brought her closer to his chest and walked back to the sled. By this time, the dogs now sniffed the air, growling. The snow obviously affected their sense of smell, and they all looked around to try and find where the smell was coming from. 


Edgar winced sympathetically. “The poor thing is shaking!” 


The other man peered towards Ivory. “What is it?” he repeated quietly, cautiously watching the puppy. 


Ivory looked up at Edgar. What do we do now? She nestled down farther against his jacket and attempted to close her eyes, but her stomach grumbled, interrupting her. 


“She’s so…skinny,” one of the men remarked. Which, Ivory didn’t know, as she was too busy shuffling around in Edgar’s arms. It was true, Ivory’s ribs poked out against her chest and her legs were extremely lacking of the muscle that usually grew there. 


“Quick, Bill,” said Edgar. “Get the meat.” 


Bill reached his arm inside the sled and brought out a bag with a large slab of red meat inside. It was clear it was for the dogs, as they earnestly followed Bill’s hand with their eyes, sticking their wet tongues out, allowing their breath to come out in large puffs of air. 


Bill opened the bag and took out the meat. Ivory allowed the scent to fill her nose with pleasure, squirming around delightfully. The cold didn’t even bother her now, nor her weakness inflicted by her hunger. She was only focused on the meat that was held in Bill’s hand. 


Ivory leapt out of Edgar’s arms onto the ground. She ripped the meat out of Bill’s hand, mercilessly devouring it. Bill yelped, hastily clutching his arm and taking it away from Ivory’s jaws.


Ivory quickly inhaled the meat and it was gone, only leaving a red mark on the top layer of snow. Bill looked nervously at Ivory, then at the dogs. The dogs were still positioned at the front of the sled, but were at that point growing restless. The two in the back of the line shook their fur of the snow, and Ivory suddenly remembered how cold it was outside. The storm was still going at full blast. The snowflakes seemed to be as thick as blankets, the sheets falling down and covering everything in its path. 


Edgar took a purple blanket out of the sled and shook the snow off of the top. He walked over to Ivory and attempted to lay it over her, but she cowered back and shuffled backwards out of the way. What is he doing? It seemed unsafe to be covered by a strange purple mass that was unknown to the little wolf. Distrust flickered in her eyes, and she backed away further. 


“Edgar, let’s just go.” 


Edgar looked back at Bill, disgusted by the recommendation. “And leave it here to die? I don’t think so.”


Edgar stooped down low so that he was at eye level with Ivory. He moved at a slow pace, crawling towards her. He held the purple blanket in one hand, the other in front of him, moving towards Ivory. “It’s okay…”


Ivory looked with her warm blue eyes into his brown ones, feeling that comfort again. He was only trying to help. She nervously glanced at the purple blanket, but still allowed Edgar to wrap it around her little body and pick her up. 


Why did she even protest in the first place? The blanket was so warming, so fulfilling. Ivory let her eyes close, feeling every single little thing. She felt the cold snow on her muzzle, the wind tickle her eyelids, and the steady shifting of Edgar as he got onto the sled. The next thing she knew, a wave of sleep crashed on top of her and she was fast asleep. 


Ivory awoke next to the sled, enfolded in the purple blanket. The dogs were gone, and a lantern illuminated the space around her. She wasn’t in the snow anymore. It was dark outside, and still cold, but a roof above her head kept the snow from touching her. 


The structure around her was made of wood, and it seemed to be similar to those that were around her. These must be the human dens. They were in a row, and in the middle, a snow covered path was present. The place reeked of Edgar and Bill’s scent, but it was not as strong as the meat that Ivory now realized was on the wooden step right in front of the porch that she lay on. It seemed to be the same type of meat that the men had fed her when they found her earlier.


It was tempting, very tempting, for Ivory to simply accept the men’s hospitality. She could stay there and they would help her, feed her, and either find her a pack or raise her themselves(not a very popular idea). 


Ivory stretched out her legs, sticking her fluffy tail up in the air. Blinking sleep’s blur out of her eyes, she padded over to the step and gently lifted the meat off of the plate. She considered actually savoring the taste instead of simply devouring the meal, but hunger quickly overcame her thoughts and she rapidly began to feast on the meat that was so nutritious. In fact, it seemed a bit shocking to eat something so full of protein. It was very filling, even more than her mother’s sweet milk. 


This thought brought an achy feeling to Ivory’s chest, not like the one that ate her from inside, the one that made her ribs pop out and made her long for food. No, not that one. The one that felt like a piece of her was missing, the one that reminded her that the comforting being who had bore her was gone. Gone and will never come back.


Ivory rolled over onto her back and looked out into the street. It was still blizzarding. This storm seemed to go on forever, like it was never satisfied with the lives it took, even if it took hundreds. It would still keep going, and never stop. Maybe it would simmer down in a few days, but never would it be less than a flurry. Then it would continue just as fast, just as cold, just as intense. And eat me up. Ivory shivered. 


As she was skimming through the many sights that were available in the tiny village, still flopped onto her back, something between two structures caught her eye. She squinted, and a chill of fear ran along her spine as she saw what it was. Two big yellow eyes.


These were not unfamiliar. Every day in her period of illness, those two big yellow eyes glowed bright, lighting up the dingy den. They would disappear as soon as they appeared, but would not leave without two things: a lookover of the remaining puppies, and its nightly prey. 


They belonged to the coyote. 


Ivory’s fur bristled and she clawed at the wooden boards underneath her. But the coyote was not looking at her yet, and she took the opportunity to spring off the porch into a bush. She pushed her head through the leaves, staring at the eerie coyote. It did not sense her, it seemed. The snow was perhaps working as a scent barrier.


The coyote looked around, satisfied, and disappeared back into the darkness. Ivory looked at the space between the house and then Edgar and Bill’s house. A thought suddenly occurred to her, and she swapped her gaze back to the coyote’s last location. Isabelle!


There was a good chance that Isabelle wasn’t yet gone. Maybe if she could…


The next thing that Ivory knew, she was leaping across the street, following the slim figure of the coyote into the wood, one objective fixed into her mind: save your sister.