#161 Wolves at the Door
#161 Wolves at the Door Smoke from the snow-covered cabin rose above mountain peaks. It appeared to be a peaceful and quiet night, but the quiet was deceiving. Angelo heard his horse, Gracie nervously kicking in her stall, and grabbed a lantern to light his way to the barn to comfort her. Sliding the heavy door open with one hand, he raised the lantern and saw several pairs of gleaming yellow eyes. A growl from above warned him too late as a wolf leapt onto his back and tried to bite into his shoulder. The thick bearskin pelt he wore for a robe blunted the bite. He shook the animal from his back and raised the flame on the lantern. Afraid of fire, the wolves snarled and growled in the dark. Angelo tried to edge over to where Gracie trotted back and forth in her stall, but the wolves blocked his way. Their hunger overcame their fear of light, and they wouldn’t let him stop them from eating. A wolf grabbed Gracie by her throat, brought her to her knees, and the five others attacked. Angelo knew it was too late to save Gracie. He ran back to the cabin and barricaded the door. Hatred filled his heart. Poor Gracie, he wasn’t able to save her, and swore vengeance. His food supply had evaporated, and he had intended to ride Gracie into town to resupply. With her gone, he’d never be able to walk that far in the cold and stay alive. Angelo heard the wolves calling their brethren to come and join them in a hot meal. He wished he had one himself. Looking in the larder, he saw his last can of beans, opened it and couldn’t wait to eat once the aroma hit, he gulped them down cold. Three days later, he was as hungry as the wolves when he heard a thump, and then scratching at the door. They were trying to get in he thought and looked through the window. A dozen wolves paced around his cabin. They were still hungry and were waiting, waiting for a chance to make him their next meal. The thought of wolves eating him caused anger to erupt. He’d show them who was going to eat who. Wolf meat would do in a pinch he thought, “I’ll make at least one of them my dinner instead of me being theirs.” He’d have to kill them all he knew, or else they’d eventually get him when he left the cabin for water or food. In anger he grabbed his shells and carbine, then burst through the cabin door before he realized he wasn’t ready to shoot the carnivorous creatures stalking him. He had forgotten to load his gun. He stood in deep snow and knew every bullet had to count, but in his haste to load his gun he dropped the bullets into the snow. He threw off his gloves and fell to his knees and put his hands into the ice cold snow trying to find the ammo. His hands started to freeze and soon he could no longer feel and had only found two bullets. While he searched for his lost bullets the wolves surrounded him. He looked and knew with only two bullets he was due to be dinner if he didn’t do something, but what could one man do against a dozen timber wolves. Fire he thought, they were afraid of it, and if he built one, the snow would melt and he’d find his bullets. Although his hands were numb he loaded the two bullets he had and turned to face the wolves that blocked his return to his cabin. He shot two that stood in his way and ran toward the door. One wolf got its teeth into his ankle. Angelo drew his Bowie knife and stabbed it in the heart, picked up his rifle and clubbed the next wolf to come at him over the head. Almost at the door two wolves ran at him. He clubbed one, but the other leapt through the air and knocked Angelo off his feet when it hit him on his side and bit into his arm. Angelo used the knife to make the wolf let go. Almost there. As he reached for the cabin door another wolf landed on his back and he felt hot breath on his face as it tried to bite down on his head. Angelo stabbed the wolf in its mouth. He felt the teeth come down on the blade, and the wolf shook its head with such force it ripped the knife from Angelo’s hands. He scrambled to his feet, shook the wolf off, opened the door, rushed through and slammed it. A feeling of relief overwhelmed him. Safe for now he thought, and once he built a fire to melt the snow he’d find his bullets and kill the rest of them. A smile crossed his face at the thought, but he turned around his smile turned upside down when he saw eight glowing eyes slowly coming toward him. He saw the broken window as the first wolf flew through the air and Angelo became dinner.