Posted on by Dave Woodruff

Years ago, a chilly, cool evening, the kind of evening you can seemingly feel the frost in the air. It doesn't exactly hurt to breathe the cold air, it’s more like a dancing of electricity on your windpipe. A wolf. Dark and sinister, slinks closer and closer to the bedroom window where he can see the flicker of a small light through the condensation on the glass. His body is lean and sturdy, his muscles ripple as he moves in a rhythmic locomotion with the tension of a thousand steel coils. His color is masked in the faint glow of the moon, but his eyes glow a sinister pallid yellow. Light glints jump from his glistening fangs as he closes on his prey.

I’m just one year old. As fate might have it, the most savory and desired meal for a wolf on the prowl is the heart of a pure child. This claim of purity is not made from swagger or boastfulness, in truth, I am just an unremarkable kid who has yet to happen upon my many demons, much less take them out for antics. For that kind of thing, just read some of my other stories. The night is not gloomy, not sinister in any manner, yet what lurks now only feet away is the perfect allegory for malevolent. 

The wolf peers from the shadows as my mother tucks me daintily into my crib. He does not see a child, he instead envisions a delectable morsel for the undiscriminating palate. However this night, his plans are far more devious. A meal could be had anywhere, but he has a stronger craving, something far more fulfilling. An urgent impulse only a specific flavor can assuage. With the stealth and cunning ingrained in thousands of years of genetic breeding, he slips into the room making less sound than a dragonfly wing falling on a pane of glass. I wake at the moment he covers my mouth with a massive hairy paw. My eyes widen in the terror of misunderstanding and confusion. I scarcely feel his sudden slashing at my chest. The last thing I see is a monstrous hairy beast leaping from my window, my still beating heart cradled gently in his drooling mouth. 

The wolf runs till his lungs are aching from the oxygen deficit and the muscles in his legs feel like burning steel wire. Like all of his kind, he has cravings he cannot deny. When the moon climbs against the dark sky, the only acceptable response is to howl, in a secret concealed affirmation. When the craving is revealed, the imperative must be answered. As it turns out, a wolf cannot howl at the moon until he has taken the heart of a human child. As luck would have it, in my case bad, it is my heart which will prove to be his sacrificial lamb. 

The wolf looks up toward the immense pale moon, he can barely see through the bloodlust in his eyes. Te last drops of life bringing blood have ceased to drip from my nearly lifeless heart. He sets my heart on a makeshift altar and sets himself to wail. 

Nothing comes. His howl is as empty as the cavity he left in my chest. Frustration and defeat set in immediately. There is no explanation for this travesty. He tries in desperation to howl again, but is greeted only by the pantomime of silence. With no clear understanding and with little alternative, he makes an unusual choice. Not the decision one might expect from a creature ruled by instinct swimming in aggression. 

Before he knows or fully fathoms his actions, he is back at my window, my miniscule, limp heart in his tender jaws. Driven by an altruistic force he has never known, he returns it to my chest with surgical dexterity, his only reward is the small drops of blood he laps up before he tucks my blanket back over my chest. I see his eyes as I return to the world. He slips in silence out the window.

I have no memory of this now, I carry no scars or fears from our encounter, I do know that at times, when the air is still and crisp, on a late evening I cannot resist the primal urge to howl at the moon.