I am Wolf (The Wolfboy Chronicles), Page 2Willow Rose
I got up and looked outside through the cracks. The snow had stopped and the clouds were moving westward on the sky. The full moon was shining down on me and lit up the barn through the cracks. I stared at the forest in the distance as I heard more howling. Then I had that strange feeling again. Like someone was watching me. I felt a cold shiver run down my back. I looked out through the cracks frantically, trying to spot whatever was out there. I sensed it was close, whatever it was.
Could it be the soldiers? I wondered. Were they following her? I held my gun tight in my hand. If anyone tried to come in here, I would shoot them, I thought. I might have been the youngest in my family but I was a man now. I was able to make that kill if necessary.
I turned and looked at Catalina. She was sleeping a little uneasily, like she was dreaming heavily now. Her face seemed torn. I thought about what I had seen and wondered what she had seen. How was she ever going to survive in a new country? Would she be able to escape the cruelty in Bulgaria? I didn’t know much about what was going on in the rest of the world, or even in my own country. I had no idea if she could be safe there. But anywhere had to be better than here, I expected. Catalina cried in her sleep. I went to her and stroked her cheek. I whispered calming words in her ears like my mother had done to me when I had bad dreams. Then I held her hand in mine while wondering if I would ever see her again once I had helped her cross the border.
I desperately hoped so. Somehow being in her presence made me feel whole, it filled me with an inner joy even given the circumstances.
I kept my eyes on the gate and my other hand on the gun in case someone tried to enter the barn. My eyes were wide open even if they did feel heavy and tired. My mind was alert. My mare was resting in the corner apparently safe, knowing I was watching out for her. The night was quiet outside. Every now and then I heard more howling but it seemed to be far away. Then there was a scratch. It sounded like it was coming from right outside of the building. I got up on my feet. My heart was pounding. Something was moving around outside of the barn. My mare heard it too. She was on her feet now and walked around uneasily with her head held high and ears in the air. I gazed out through the cracks again but saw nothing. The full moon was alone in the sky now. It was so quiet out there in the snow.
The snow, I thought and stared at the area in front of the barn where we had entered a couple of hours ago. In the fresh snow I saw big paw-prints.
Startled I tumbled backwards. It looked just like the paw-prints of a wolf. I had known and seen many like those before when I had gone hunting in the mountains. But none like these. These were enormous. This was a giant wolf.
Again I wondered; did it know that we were in here? Was it waiting for us to show ourselves? Maybe it was clever enough to know that we would eventually have to leave the barn and then it could attack? Had it followed us or had it just smelled us here?
I swallowed hard and sat next to Catalina. I had three bullets in my gun. I could kill it if it tried to enter. I couldn’t escape the images of the big paw-prints outside. This was definitely no ordinary wolf. I thought for a second about my mother and how worried I knew she had to be by now. I had no idea when I would see her again. I hoped the border was no more than a day’s travel away, but I didn’t know for certain. It might take two considering the circumstances, I thought.
The night went quiet. Not even a howling in the distance, nor a sound from outside the barn. Every now and then I got up and glanced outside but I saw nothing. No wolf, no more paw-prints. Maybe it had just been passing by, I thought to myself with relief. On its nightly hunt it might have picked up our scent but then given up since we hid inside the barn? But wolves from the forest never came this close to humans or their houses. Usually they were too afraid of us to come close to where we lived. I had heard of wolves attacking humans in packs, but only if the humans themselves had gone into the forest or went hunting in the mountains. This was a highly unusual behavior.
I sat down next to Catalina and closed my eyes for only a second. My eyelids felt so heavy I couldn’t resist them any longer. A few seconds of rest couldn’t hurt, I thought. There was no way the wolf could come in here.
So I dozed off.
I was awaked by a large noise. A loud car engine outside. I woke with a gasp. It was bright daylight. I had slept too long. Voices were everywhere outside. Boots in the snow. I spotted uniforms through the cracks.
Catalina made a sound and I jumped her and held my hand over her mouth. “Someone’s outside,” I whispered. She nodded and I let go of her. Her eyes were tormented with fear. My heart was racing. I held her close to me.
The gate cracked and squeaked then slowly pulled open. There was shouting and two soldiers revealed their faces. I lifted up my gun ready to shoot at them, my finger steady on the trigger. I was ready. I wanted to shoot those bastards; I wanted to kill them for what they had done to Catalina and her family, for what they had done to those women and children in the city. But then I was grabbed from behind by a pair of strong hands. The gun was taken from me. Somehow they had found a back entrance to the barn and attacked us from behind. Catalina screamed as to men grabbed her and started dragging her out of the barn.
“Catalina!” I yelled while trying to fight off the soldiers holding me down. I kicked and hit and screamed, but nothing helped.
“Dirty Jews,” an officer approaching Catalina outside said. Then he spat in her face. She tried to kick him but missed.
“Put her in the car,” he hissed.
“No!” I screamed from the top of my lungs.
“Sami!” she yelled back as they tried to pull her towards the car.
“I will find you!” I yelled. “I promise I will come for you!”
The officer came closer. Now he was in my face. His breath smelled of onions. He was spitting as he spoke. I didn’t listen. All I could think about was her. Our eyes locked at the second she was thrown into the black car. She was still yelling my name. Then I felt a sting of pain on my cheek and there was nothing but a sea of darkness.
I WOKE UP THINKING I was drowning. Water was everywhere and so was the feeling of suffocation. The pain in my face was unbearable. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of the officer who had hit me. He had taken off his cap and was looking at me while touching his bald head. I recognized his green uniform as one of those from the Iron Guard. He was laughing. It felt like a distant dream. But it was very real. In his hand he was holding a bucket that had been filled with water until he had decided to throw it all in my face.
“Catalina!” I said and tried to sit up, but the pain was too overwhelming and I felt dizzy. I had to lie down again on the ground. I was sobbing in pain and despair. I looked for the black car, but it was gone.
Someone was laughing. “Forget about her,” a voice said.
I looked up. It was the officer. He was staring at me. “The girl,” he continued. “Best to forget about her. She is gone.”
I groaned in pain and frustration. The officer was lighting a cigarette. He exhaled deeply. I wanted to hurt him more than I had wanted anything in this world. “So why were you protecting this girl?” he said blowing smoke in my face.
I didn’t answer. Someone kicked me in my stomach. The pain spread like a fire inside of me. I tumbled to the ground. “Answer when you are spoken to!” another voice exclaimed. I moaned in pain.
“What were you doing with that girl?” The officer continued still while smoking. “Why were you helping her?”
I still wasn’t answering him. I figured I didn’t owe him anything. Another kick to my stomach blew the air out of me. The officer in front of me killed his cigarette under his black shoe.
“She is a wanted Jew,” he continued with a smirk. “A criminal. Your protecting her makes you an accomplice. We have killed entire families for less than this.” He stepped closer. Then he bent down and grabbed my hair. He pulled my head until my eyes met his. I will never forget those eyes. They were grey and wor
e a cruelty to them that I had never seen in a human before, only in the wolves of the forest. It was the lust for killing I saw in them.
“Do you want me to take your family? I know perfectly well who you are. Until now you have been protected by your status in these parts, by your father’s name. But you are still nothing but another disgusting, filthy Jew!” The officer spat in my face after he had said the last word. I felt the hatred coming from him and sensed the cruelty those hands had caused. I hated that they were touching me, I loathed being in his presence. Everything about him made me want to vomit.
So I did. I threw up all over his shoes. It made him move away with a disgusted sound. He let go of my hair and stepped back.
“Shoot him,” he said.
I looked at him while he walked away. Someone brought him water and washed his shoes. A car drove up. Someone stepped out and held the door for him and quickly they drove off.
After that I remember only pain. I was grabbed by the arms and dragged towards a wall. I had a hard time even standing because of the pain in my face and body. I saw a gun close to my face. I lifted my eyes and stared into the eyes of the soldier in front of me. There was no compassion, no humanity in them. He was young like me, maybe twenty-two or twenty-three. He was probably a student only a year ago. Now they had turned him into a killing machine. Inhumane, brainwashed.
I closed my eyes and thought of my dear mother. I hated to cause her this trouble and sorrow. Once she found out what had happened to me she would never forgive herself for letting me go outside.
Something was tied around my eyes. A blindfold of some sort. I tried to open my eyes but couldn’t. I was alone in my own darkness. A soldier counted down.
“Three, two, one ... ”
This was it. It was all over.
But then it wasn’t.
There was turmoil, a growling and some ripping of clothes. I waited for the pain but all I felt was the same pain I had felt all along. The pain in my face and aching body, nothing else. I gasped and listened. I almost didn’t dare to breathe. It was so quiet. I wondered if I had in fact died and this was heaven? An eternity of darkness and pain. Or maybe it was hell?
Then I sensed something else. I heard a heavy breathing close to me. It wasn’t human, it had to belong to some animal. A big animal. I lifted my hand carefully and reached out. My fingers touched something, something furry and hairy. I gasped and withdrew my hand. It seemed to be the size of me!
I was shaking all over as I sensed the animal coming closer. It was panting; its breath hit my face. There was a deep growl.
“Oh God,” I exclaimed. “Please don’t kill me.”
Then it attacked me. I felt its paws on my shoulders and then I was thrown to the ground, pinned under its weight. I was more frightened than I had ever been. I felt its breath on my neck when it sunk its teeth into the side of it, penetrating the skin causing me to scream in agony mostly because I knew this was definitely going to kill me. I was ready for a painful, dreadful death in which the beast would eat me one piece at the time and leave me to bleed to death. But to my great astonishment the bite hardly hurt. It was like the beast was trying not to cause me any pain. When its teeth had penetrated the skin the beast paused like it was restraining itself. I thought for a moment it was tasting my blood, drinking it like the vampires in my mother’s stories. But that didn’t seem to be the case either. It wasn’t out for my flesh or my blood. What did it want? Just to kill me for the fun of it? As the teeth met my veins and its saliva mixed with my blood I felt a thrill of excitement go through my entire body. It was like a huge shot of adrenalin rushing through my veins, causing all pain to disappear immediately. My body and wounds seemed to heal like a stroke with a magic wand. The blood was rushing faster causing my heart to beat faster and my muscles to ache. I felt stronger, I felt lifted up, and I felt suddenly powerful. That was when something truly amazing happened.
I heard the beast think.
It spoke to me through its thoughts; it pushed sentences into my head. Its voice was gentle and deep yet hoarse and experienced, similar to an old man’s.
Fear not, it said. Don’t fight it. You can’t fight the inevitable. You were destined for this.
A strange calmness and peace ran through my body while he planted these thoughts in my mind. I felt a wondrous connection to this beast that I hadn’t even seen but now shared something deep and intimate with. It was suddenly like I had known him my entire life and he had always known me. As if this moment was predestined from before I was even born. It was so much bigger than me.
Could it be destiny?
Suddenly I felt him withdraw his teeth from my skin and a profound feeling of sorrow emerged from within me. I didn’t want this feeling, this rush, and this supernatural kick to ever leave me again. I wanted it to go on. I wanted him to keep biting me. But he pulled his fangs out and soon after there was nothing left but the darkness again.
I WOKE TO THE gentle singing voice of my mother. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, this time for real. Nothing was dearer and more heavenly than the sound of her voice. I opened my eyes and realized I was still alive. The blindfold was gone and I was in familiar surroundings. I lifted my head. I was in my home, my father’s estate, lying in my own bed. My mother was sitting next to me, sewing while singing some of my childhood’s beautiful hymns. She looked so beautiful from the light of the fireplace. So delicate. Like Catalina had looked in the light from the full moon.
“Catalina,” I exclaimed. What had happened to her?
My mother lifted her head to the sound of my voice. “You’re awake,” she said and got up on her feet. She touched my forehead gently. “Still burning up, though.”
I shook my head. “I feel fine,” I said.
She smiled and stroked me gently with her hand while smiling soothingly. “Don’t try and get up,” she said with a low voice. “You still need to rest.”
I lifted the covers and stared at my body. I was wearing bandages on my legs and arms and I felt sore, but it didn’t seem to hurt much anymore. I lifted my hand and felt my neck where I had been bitten. There was nothing there. Had it all been a dream? Had the encounter with the beast been nothing but a feverish nightmare?
I couldn’t believe it. It had been so vivid, felt so real, almost more real than anything else I had ever lived through.
“What happened?” I asked.
My mother took my hand in hers. “We don’t know,” she said. “When you didn’t come home your dad and brothers went out to look for you. They searched for you all night and finally found you at a farm in a valley far away from here. You were badly beaten and bruised. Those soldiers had done it to you. They hurt you. But they had all been killed. Your father said it looked like they were going to shoot you. When they found you, you were still blindfolded. You were lying on the ground lifeless and they thought you had been killed like the soldiers by some bear or whatever attacked them, but you were still alive. Only unconscious. They brought you home to me.”
“Are they looking for me? They know who I am. Have they been here?”
She shook her head gently. “They’ll probably think you were killed by the bear as well. All the soldiers were dead. Ripped apart by its claws. There is no way they can believe you survived this attack.” She paused and wiped my forehead with a wet cloth. “I don’t know how you managed to survive that, but I have always said that you have a special guardian angel watching over you. I think he was there for you that day. It looks like the animal didn’t touch you at all. The bruises you have are clearly manmade. I am just glad we found you before more soldiers came to the farm. The way it is now I don’t think anyone knows you were even there.”
I smiled and leaned back on my pillow with a deep sigh. “No one knows what kind of animal did it?”
“No. Everybody is guessing that it was a bear. It had to have been a big one though. But he is kind of a local hero now. Secretly of course.”
chuckled. To my surprise it didn’t hurt. “Of course,” I said.
“You’ve had a fever ever since you came back and I can’t seem to bring it down. Therefore you need to stay in bed a little while longer.”
The fever didn’t decrease in the coming days to my mother’s great worry. She would look at me with those eyes and a slightly tilted head while moving her fingers through my hair. She tried to get a doctor to come and look at me but had no luck.
“They don’t want to be seen in a Jew’s home,” she mumbled while feeding me soup with a spoon. “Cowards!”
I didn’t listen much to what she said. All that was on my mind was Catalina. Her black hair, her beautiful green eyes and fair skin. Skin like Snow White I kept repeating to myself. I dreamt about her when asleep, I thought about her when I was awake. I couldn’t get her out of my thoughts. Even her scent kept lingering in my mind. If I wasn’t thinking about her I was wondering about the beast that had bitten me. What was that creature? It had been as tall as me. It had been furry and when I touched it, it had growled like a dog or a big wolf. But no wolf was this big. Could it have been a bear like people said?
I tried to picture it but it was all a blur to me. It was just a lot of sounds and emotions mixed up in a dreamlike vision. Even Catalina seemed dreamlike to me after some time. Yet she was all I thought about, all I longed for. I wanted desperately to find her again. I wanted to help her, save her from the hands of those bastards. But for all I knew she was already dead. It was more likely than her being alive. After that conclusion I fell into some sort of depression and hardly noticed my surroundings anymore. Not even when my mother finally succeeded in finding a Jewish doctor to look at me. He seemed nervous when he examined me, like he really didn’t want to be there. They both whispered when he spoke to my mother in the corner of the room, but I could still hear their every word. I could even smell them too.
“He is very sick,” the doctor said.