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There Are Wolves
"The stars and the rivers
and the waves call you back."
Journal of Beauregard Deveraux
December 31, 1999
Strange how the best stories in life are usually not our own. People drift through life telling recycled tales from their childhood, or funny happenings that didn't really happen to them. The jokes that are told, over and over, that were amusing the first time you heard them, have now become a sad repetition of words you don't listen to anymore. Even Shakespeare, the great writer he was, used plots from plays and poems already in existence and just made them better with his laconic wit and style.
They say everyone has a Muse but usually, that Muse has visited a few other people before you. Who knows? Maybe your Muse also inspired Shakespeare or Browning, Homer or Catullus, Plato or Poe. That doesn't mean your story isn't as good or as worthwhile. It is necessary to share the fruits of creativity, to pass along the torch of tragedy and comedy to the next person. In the end, its the telling that matters, the knowledge that is spread.
So you shan't be surprised when I say I have a story to tell. Of course, its not my story. I find first person narratives a complete bore. My life and death were what "was" and are not of any consequence in these present times. But I digress. Perhaps you have heard my tale before, or one close to its nature. In any event, you haven't heard me tell it, and I assure you, it will be worth your while.
It is the story of my niece. My great grand-niece to be exact. There may be another great added to her title, I can't recall at the moment, but the difference between our familial connection spans several generations. Still, even distant relatives are connected by the blood, and its in the blood that the most potent magic can be found. And when one is dealing with magic, you never know when it will awaken inside of you and change your life forever.
With that thinly veiled forshadowing out of the way, I will begin by saying that this story happened in the so called "modern era." Let me also say that time itself is a mortal encumberment that I do not suffer with, and therefore may be lax in the relaying of specific dates and times. If anyone ever does read this journal, please forgive this minor lapse. I prefer to think of this story as timeless, as all stories should be.
We shall set our scene in the rugged forests of Vermont, USA, in the capital city of Montpelier. Early summer was blooming and school was out for the season. At 2581 North Ash Street, in an old two-story house, elegant but in need of some care, lived the O'Shea's. Margo and her daughter, Corey, though they did not live happily.
My dear nephew, Corey's father, Jack, had died two years before of a strange affliction that no doctor could put a name to. Though Jack's life insurance allowed for his spouse and daughter to live comfortably, Margo drank heavily to hide from her pain and made Corey's life miserable. With one year left of high school to complete, Corey dreamed of leaving her mother to find her father's relatives, to have a family who loved and cherished her. Of course, her mother did not approve of this dream and forbade Corey's contact with the outside world. Then it happened one not so special night, that Corey's dreams inadvertantly began to come true...
"You ungrateful brat!" the icy blond woman screeched, flinging the front door open. Holding her seventeen-year-old daughter viciously by the hair, Margo O'Shea dragged the whimpering girl out onto the box porch in the front of their home. "You don't like the way I live, then you can just find a dumpster to go sleep in from now on!"
"B-but mom, I didn't mean t-to....OUCH! You're hurting me!"
At the outward mention of pain, Margo immediately tightened her grip on the russet curls between her fingers and shook her daughter's aching head. "You hurt me every time you take away my Chardonny! I paid for those bottles and they belong to me!"
"Its Char-don-nay, you crazy drunk!" Corey wanted to scream, but she stifled the urge. It never helped to snipe back a nasty comment. It just made her mother even more irrational and angry.
"Mom, you have to stop drinking. Why don't you go back to those meetings?" Corey pleaded as she was pulled forward, her feet teetering over the edge of the porch where the front steps met up with the cracking wood.
"Because those meetings are evil. They are wrong about me! I am fine. Perfectly fine!" she said vehemently, "and I don't need a nosy brat like you telling me that I am wrong."
"I am not your enemy! I love you and want you to be healthy."
"NO! You hate me. Everybody hates me!"
Gingerly trying to dislodge her mother's fist from her hair, Corey was rewarded with another jarring shake. "Mom," she said gritting her teeth, "nobody hates you. We are trying to help!"
"You are NOT a psychologist young lady and I don't need a seventeen year old know-it-all telling me how to run my life! You're the one making me sick! Ever since you were born you've made me miserable!" the older woman hissed, suddenly shoving the girl with a brutal push. She watched with crazed, pale blue eyes as her daughter waved her arms about wildly for balance.
Realizing that there wasn't anything solid beneath her feet, Corey knew the only thing she could do was fall. She stopped struggling and allowed gravity to bring her down. The front steps slipped away and then there was only pain. In a heap of twisted ankles and limbs, she tumbled down onto the unforgiving cement walkway. Rolling....rolling... rolling....her body did several awkward twists and turns before she finally landed hard on her back, her head slamming onto the pavement with a resounding "CRACK!"
"I can't breathe," was her first thought. The wind had been knocked out of her.
"We're sorry," the polite operator inside of her head chirped, "but your lungs have ceased to function. Please hang up and try breathing again."
Corey writhed as she gasped for air; each breath agony as the oxygen was forced back into her lungs. Through her wavering vision, she could see her mother standing with her arms crossed in an annoyed fashion on the top step. Margo's thin lips were moving, but Corey could barely hear the words over the rattling din inside of her head.
"You are just as manipulative and bossy as your father! Jack was always trying to control me, telling me what to do and what to think! But I wouldn't let him! Nobody orders me about like a meek little housewife!"
"Mom...please," Corey managed to choke out.
"Cut out that dramatic crap. You can just lay there and rot for all I care. You are making me miss the Wheel of Fortune show and now I'm even more pissed off!" With a sigh, she rubbed her temple gingerly, "I don't want to see your face around here for a few days. You give me a headache! Always a headache."
Turning on her foot smartly, Margo marched inside the house, letting the door slam behind her.
Corey flinched at the sound, her head pounding painfully. Here she was, sprawled out over the walkway with her bare feet in the grass and the smell of wet earth rich in her nostrils. Why hadn't she left well enough alone? She had just come down to say goodnight. Her mother was sloshing down her fifth bottle of wine and made a nasty comment about Corey's clothes.
"Jeans and a tee shirt are pretty standard, Mom."
"Are you arguing with me? I said you look like a cheap tramp!"
With a sick feeling of disappointment Corey asked, "How much have you had to drink?"
That question sent Margo spiraling out of control. Her mother had been spoiling for a fight, Corey realized, and she should have recognized the signs.
"Never provoke or argue with a drunk. They can be unpredictable and dangerous. Walk away to avoid confrontation," all the pamphlets from AA said. But how could she simply walk away when the drunk was the only parent she had?
She let stunned tears of anger and humiliation leak down her cheeks. She could taste blood in her mouth. Her head ached where the hair had been pulled. Her jeans, a favorite pair, were ripped badly at the knee. A deep gash cut into the knee cap and it was bleeding. Her left wrist was turned inward at an unnatural angle. She knew it was broken.
This was the first time her mother's physical display of anger had been so devastating. It was always a slap in the face or hair being pulled, but never violence of this magnitude. Corey imagined her finger dialing 911 on a phone that magically appeared before her to call the police and an ambulance.
Attempting to sit up, her body was assailed with sharp slivers of agony. Her whole body had turned into a vessel of raging pain. It hurt to blink. A groan was wrenched from her mouth as she slumped back in the grass.
"Dammit! Stupid, weak idiot!" she whispered huskily, "I hate you!"
On a whim, she glanced up towards the stars and gathered the remnants of her strength, focusing her thoughts to the center of her forehead. She imagined drawing power from the earth beneath her. She channeled the primal energy through her body. Her green eyes flashed with white fire. She wasn't sure where the chant came from, but suddenly she heard it, like a door being unlocked deep inside her brain.
"Hear my call and give it flight, on the wings of the wind, spread across the night. Until the last star flickers and fades, do not rest until you find me aide! For my hurt is great as you can see, do not rest until help is brought to me!"
The wind shuffled through the leaves of the oak tree that stood like a sentinel at the front of the yard. Though she was quite positive she had a concussion and therefore was probably delirious, she could have swore she heard tiny voices whispering her name.
Exhausted from the mental exertion, Corey shivered. A soft breeze whisked gently over her face, light and reassuring. It teased through her red hair, lifting several wavy strands. The wind cooled her tears and she could taste them. They tasted bitter. Wishing on stars was foolish.
Minutes slipped away, inbetween her shallow struggles for air. Soon, she was sure hours had gone by. Seconds blending into minutes; minutes blending into hours. Eventually the wind dissapated, but it did not leave her alone. Thoughts of her father occupied the surrounding quiet, his mischievous green eyes winking down at her from the sky. Her eccentric, silly father, Jack Deveraux O'Shea. He would have understood talking to the stars or listening to the wind rustle through the trees.
Dead two years now, she missed his tousled red hair and crooked smile. She missed the soft lilt of his voice with the trace of Irish brogue, a gift from his very Irish father. She missed everything about him, and it made her heart ache, like there was a hole there that could never be filled. To make things worse, it seemed like he had been gone forever, these past twenty-four months only made bearable by the memories of happier days.
She was six. It was spring, and they were catching butterflies in the afternoon in a field of wildflowers. They didn't need a net. Her father held out his hand and the butterflies would hover around his head, finally coming to rest in his open palm and up his bare arm.
"How do you do that, Daddy?"
"Magic, darlin'. You just have to ask them nicely and they will come to visit for awhile."
"Does that butterfly have a name?"
"Yes. He is called a Harvester butterfly. They like to live in Vermont with us. Don't you think he's rather dashing fellow?"
"I don't like orange. But I guess he's kind of handsome," she conceded, liking the way the sunlight filtered through the butterfly's spotted wings. They seemed to sparkle.
"He says thank you for the compliment!" he laughed, twinking her nose playfully.
"Do you think I have magic? Will the butterflies talk to me like they talk to you?"
"Yes. I think you are going to be the most magical of us all," he said softly, raising his hand to let the butterfly lift into the air. He turned to face her and kneeled down to her level, kissing her forehead, "You'll remember this day, and the butterflies will remember you. They are your friends."
Corey didn't understand what he meant and smiled, watching her father's deep green eyes glow with pleasure. Her daddy was a magic man. Several butterflies began to land on her head and in the tangle of her red curls. She giggled with delight and was very careful not to scare the butterflies away by moving around too quickly.
"Look! Look! They like me! We're friends now!"
"I see they do! You're a butterfly princess now, Corey!"
"Daddy," she asked softly, lifting her index finger to examine the bright blue butterfly that had perched there, "will you love me for always?"
"Forever and a day, poppet. You'll never be without me."
That perfect day with her father. One of many, but certainly her favorite.
"...You'll never be without me."
Corey bit her quivering lip and choked on a sigh. Her perfect moment. Eternity within the space of several minutes. Strange how time played tricks with a person's mind.
Unable to do anything else but think, she decided she needed a plan. She supposed she should muster up enough strength to get up. Her mother probably had passed out on the couch by now, and she could sneak inside and pack a few essential things together: toothbrush, clean underwear, purse, extra cash, car keys, teddy bear and a picture of her father.
She could drive herself to the ER at St. Michael's in her father's Honda Accord. It was her car now anyway, so she shouldn't have to worry about her mother reporting the vehicle missing. Then maybe she could spend the next couple of days with her friend, Ariel, until her mother cooled off enough to let her come back home. Ariel's parents were out of town for the summer on vacation. It would work. Yes, Ariel would understand and she wouldn't ask too many questions. This wasn't the first time Corey had shown up unannounced at Ariel's house after a fight with her mother.
It was a good plan. All she needed to do was move, slowly, gather strength, and try to sit up. Her mind screamed orders at her body to cooperate and move! Just a little twitch here, wiggle the toe, lift the leg, bend the elbow!
Nothing worked! She wasn't moving at all and she felt exhausted again.
"Please move?" she asked her fingers, but they refused to comply.
With a defeated sigh, Corey let herself drift, her tear-blurred gaze cast upward to the sky. It was draining to waste energy right now when her body was unable to cooperate. She could wait. It was chilly, but bearable, and a little more rest was what she needed. Summer came slowly in Vermont, and did not stay long. Though it was June 1st, there was still a damp chill in the air when the sun went down. It wasn't cold though, and she actually felt rather warm.
The moon was a smiley crescent against the sable curtain of night. Corey was glad the it was there to protect her. She didn't feel as alone. She stared intently, watching the stars blend in and out of constellations and patterns. She thought she saw a butterfly.
"Bloody Christ!" someone swore from the front gate. She heard it's telltale "creak" as it was opened, and then there were footsteps, sneakers crunching on the concrete pavement. Suddenly, a face blocked her view of the sky. A man. Eyes. Silver eyes, like the stars. Animal eyes. Predator. They were looking at her intensely and they glimmered with strange, dancing flecks of light. He dropped down in the grass beside her.
"Hello. Am I dead?" Corey asked, wondering if he was an angel.
"No," he replied.
"That's too bad," she said and smiled sadly, thinking of her father. Dark brows furrowed in alarm and a mouth was moving, a very nice mouth, Corey thought, lips that curled upwards slightly and were just the right size, perfect for kissing.
"I've never kissed anyone," she blurted out, unaware that she was slurring her words, "Mom won't let boys near me. Scares them off. I like your lips. I think I want to kiss them."
"Shh...I think you have a concussion."
"You have an accent," Corey said, wanting to hear it again, "Not from around here?"
"From across the sea," he replied, with a British clip. She smiled on a sigh.
"Perfect. I'd like a kiss before I die."
"I won't let you die," he said seriously and his face blended together in a moment of clarity. He was black hair and pale eyes, high cheekbones and long, curling lashes. His jaw was set stubbornly as he gazed down at her, and a wisp of dark hair brushed over his forehead.
"Are you real?" Corey whispered.
In response to her question, she felt the brush of warm lips over her own, gentle, very gentle, sweet and delicate. It was like a soothing balm on her aching mind.
"You kissed me," she said when he leaned back.
"Yes," he said.
"Thank you," she sighed, feeling sleepy and weightless.
"What is your name, sweetheart?" he asked, producing a cell phone from a back pocket of his blue running shorts.
"Sweetheart?" she repeated confused.
Corey peered at him beneath her lashes, his face blurring in and out of focus with the dark evening surrounding them. She couldn't remember, and grinned, amused at herself. How could someone forget their own name?
She saw him frown faintly, concern tugging his lips downward. She watched his eyes, those eyes that were not a defined color, neither silver, gray nor blue. Eyes that held a galaxy of stars within two tiny irises. The same stars that began to twinkle like a million candles in a sacred forest ritual, their flames bowing back and forth beneath the gentle persuasion of the a playful breeze. He was still frowning and Corey wondered why. Could he not see the magic in his eyes?
A sea of luminescent butterflies streaked through her vision and they fluttered high into the air, higher and higher until they turned into twinkling specks of eternity. There was music, like the universe was expanding, and every being of nature was answering the call, lifting up their voices into the sky to fill the lonely, black void. Stars began dancing with the moon, golden swirls and rainbow sparks, merry giants playing on the field of forever. And they were calling to her.
"Corrreyyy...Corrrreyyyy...the dance has begun! Can you dance? Can you sing? Can't you see? There are wolves..."
"I can hear the stars," Corey murmured, her blood singing the song of the ages. Something had blossomed within her soul, every cell tingling with awareness and knowledge. It stirred, it roared, and then it howled. She was not just Corey Amrise O'Shea anymore. She was "other." She was "more."
She was a vessel of the Eternal Light, complete as the circle of time, pure essence, a giver of life and bringer of death. The music filled her heart and she shone from the inside unable to contain it.
He was still watching her closely, his body crouched next to hers, but he had the cell phone up to his ear now. She could still hear him somehow, and heard him talking, urgent and commanding words, something about an ambulance and that they needed to hurry. He gave her address to the person on the other end of the phone. She liked his voice, the soft inflection that spoke of where he came from, the refined warmth that made her toes curl.
"Stars dancing," Corey shivered, starting to feel an searing cold creep through her veins. Somehow it was getting harder to breathe. Glaciers were forming inside her lungs and taking up all the room inside. She distantly heard the efficient "click" of the cell phone as he snapped the front cover back into place, his fingers gently smoothing across her cheek.
"So you're a star dancer?" he asked, trying to keep her talking.
"I'm the butterfly princess," she replied gravely, her voice breathy and thin. She started to gasp for air suddenly and her shivering turned into convulsions. Her eyes rolled back into her head.
"Can you see.... a vision....a vision......"
"Yes, you are," he said, the sly lick of fear coating his throat as he watched her slip away. He didn't know what was going on exactly, but he could hear a voice in his head, and there was uneartly music filling the night, filling up his soul in places he had long forgotten about. It was confusion and clarity, a mind-link to the world. Magic.
She was at the heart of it, her visions spilling like water over the brim of a glass. It wasn't his specialty, but he knew about magic and knew what power felt like. He also knew something was terribly out of balance. Though she had a mental and spiritual connection to the universe, she couldn't physically contain whatever was inside of her. Without control, it could kill her. Her slight frame was rocked with another hard spasm and her lips began to turn blue.
With desperate determination, he bent over her and whispered darkly in her ear, "I know you were hurt. I know the pain is unbearable, but you can't go away! Stay with me! You called me, remember? You can't leave me now. Not when I just found you!"
"C-c-c..ooldd-dd-d," she said as her teeth started to chatter.
"Listen to me! I know you can hear me! Fight it! You can't control the power and you will die! Come back!" he ordered, charging his voice with the compulsion to obey. Cradling her body in his arms, against his chest, he tried to keep her warm. He whispered words and weaved enchantments in her ear, drawing her out of the cosmic maelstrom.
"Wolves..." Corey groaned, feeling tendril's of pain curling in her mind, contaminating her garden of light. She didn't want the pain, but he held onto her and he forced it! Her wrist began to scream its discomfort at being broken and the various cuts and bruises on her body began to come to life. Her eyes stung with hot tears and she looked into his eyes again, trying to anchor herself in the storm of pain swirling within her.
"The wolf has come..."
Time ceased to exist. Reality slid into the muted glow of dreamtime. Her heartbeat slowed, each beat echoing into decsending silence. She was floating in dappled sunlight, colors flaring all around with surreal richness.
She was safe. Cherished. By him. The name slipped into her mind like it had always been there. Bastien. She said the name softly. It sounded familiar. Bastien St. Claire.
Laughter, rich and golden hovered in the air, caressing her cheek. She saw his eyes first, the dark sweep of his lashes framing silver orbs. But he was different. His cunning gaze was unwavering, but he stared at her from a wholly different form. Not the handsome human who had somehow come to her rescue, but from the face of a large, sable wolf.
"There are wolves..."
The wolf inclined its head to the side curiously, its beautiful fur gleaming. Ivory teeth smiled at her from a black muzzle. Wiry whiskers tickled her cheek. Corey's breath caught in her throat. She heard a canine howl in her mind, then sirens, screaming in fury and distress, matching the howls in sorrow and intensity.
The wolf became agitated as the sirens grew louder, a soft whimper emanating from its throat as it hunched down on its paws, nudging her gently with concern. Though she was afraid, Corey sluggishly lifted her hand and stroked the animal's sleek coat, smoothing down tufts of hair on its back. The wolf was calmed by her touch and sat back on its haunches, its stance very protective and lethal in its stillness.
Hesitantly, she turned her gaze towards the wolf's face. It stared back at her with fierce concentration. Silver eyes clashed with green, curiosity and mutual respect alight in both. Without warning, the wolf leaned forward and licked her forehead.
"Time's up, little dreamer," the wolf whispered in her mind.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Cover your face," it replied before the world exploded into incredible shatters of bright and dark light. Corey screamed and shielded her eyes from the shards of dissintegration. The wind howled with a terrible fury. Tiny slivers of glass, pieces of time, pricked at her skin over and over. She curled into a tight ball, hiding her face within the relative protection of her arms.
Then, like a taut string being snipped, her connection to the universe was lost. Everything came to complete halt. The wind was silent. The wolf was gone. She jolted forward out of darkness, dizzy and weak.
She was panting, she realized, like she had just run a marathon. Sweat made her clothes cling to her skin and her stomach churned in protest to the physical strain she had put on her body. Instinctively she reached out and he was right there, ashen faced and visibly shaken, but solid and real. He carefully slid his fingers between hers and linked their hands. She didn't attempt to pull away. He squeezed her hand gently.
"I'm Bastien St. Claire," he said to break the quiet, "Your name is Corey O'Shea."
Corey blinked again, her voice caught in her throat. She nodded.
"Corey," he smiled. She gasped as her hand started to burn within his. He flinched with surprise. She abruptly shook his hand away and bit her quivering lip, fighting the urge to bawl her eyes out.
"The hunter appears when the maiden is ready..."
"What the hell does that mean? Did you hear that?" Corey whispered, feeling tears begin to seep out beneath her lashes.
He reached forward and brushed the tear tracks from her cheeks. "Yes, I did." "This is too much!" she said hoarsely, cradling her broken wrist against her chest. "I'm so tired," she breathed, the far-off wail of an ambulance suddenly filling the air, getting closer. <P>"Come here," he murmured and maneuvered himself behind her to gently hold her in his arms. Unable to resist the comfort of a kind embrace, Corey allowed herself to relax slightly as they waited for the ambulance, her head resting against his shoulder and her back supported by his torso. "You should rest." <P>"I will," she said, her eyes feeling heavy, "but shouldn't I wait until I see a doctor?" <P>"You should, if you could, but I don't think you are capable of staying awake right now." <P>"Concussion," she mumbled fuzzily, "shouldn't sleep." <P>"I'm not a healer, but I know you'll wake up again Corey. I swear you will. And when you do, we need to talk... about things," he said. <P>"Like wolves?" <P>He was silent for a long moment. She felt the tension radiate inside of him, the awareness of her statement. So it was true. <P>"Like visions and strange voices in my head," he said. <P>"Yes, we will," she yawned, "talk." <P>"Sleep now and I will make sure you are taken care of," he said. <P>"But my mother…. the ambulance will wake her up," Corey protested, "and then she will be mad all over again." <P>"She did this to you? She hurt you?" he ground out softly, a dangerous edge in his tone. <P>Corey grit her teeth. She didn't want to give explanations. <P>"She was drunk," she finally mumbled, as if that made everything acceptable. <P>A wave of fury washed through him, and Corey trembled, feeling his rage. <P>"Bastien, please. Don't," she sighed, so very tired, so very hurt. <P>"Just sleep, Corey. Nothing bad will happen," he bit out harshly, and then, feeling her stiffen in his arms, he gentled his tone, letting her distress douse his anger, "I promise." <P>"But I don't know you," she frowned. <P>"I think that's a moot point at the moment," he said. <P>"Yes, but its still strange," she said. <P>The sirens in the night were approaching fast, and she could see the ambulance in her mind's eye turning the corner onto her street, it's bright red and blue lights disrupting the quiet rest of her neighborhood. <P>"I can deal with strange if you can," he whispered in her hair. <P>"After tonight, I'm not sure I have a choice." <P>He laughed lightly, but it was a serious laugh. "Do you want to know what's strange?" <P>"Ummm...sure," she yawned again. <P>"I heard you. I was jogging and I heard you. I felt pain, your pain. The wind was at my back and suddenly here I was." <P>She sighed, her vision becoming grainy with sleep. "You should have left me here and just kept running. I would have gotten up eventually." <P>"I don't think you would have," he said, disturbed that she would even suggest someone abandoning her when she was so hurt. Did she have a death wish? <P>"Sometimes.." Corey said as waves of darkness crawled through her veins. The stars were waiting for her, but they were soft and cool, their brightness dimmed with a glow of serenity. They beckoned her kindly, wanting her to rest, to escape the chaos of the evening. <P>"Sometimes what?" <P>"Death wish," she mumbled, the warm liquid of sleep traveling through her fingers and toes, up her arms and legs. It centered in her stomach. She felt golden as it spread through her chest and up towards her head. Her lashes were fluttering, falling, the green of her eyes already filled with smoky dreams. She struggled to keep the lids open, but they felt so heavy! Slowly, she blinked once. Twice. She couldn't blink again. Her eyes stayed closed. <P>"I didn't say that out loud," he said, but his voice came from very far away. <P>Corey snuffled lightly, quite sure he had been talking about a "death wish" aloud. <P>Quickly as the thought came, it was gently extinguished by the banishing influence of sleep. Not able to remain conscious, she was severed from the physical pain in her body and wrapped in the awaiting blanket of stars. <BR><BR><BR><HR><BR><BR>
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