Colette got more than she bargained for when she walked into the woods searching for a wolf to take a picture of for her nephew. She merely wanted to be able to say she put in a valid effort. She never meant to find an injured man in an empty cabin in the middle of the woods. But then she gets to know this mystery man. She may have found her wolf after all.
Age Rating: 18+
There were rumors of large wolves in the woods behind her house. Beasts as large as horses, faster even. She’d seen footprints on several occasions, the massive size of their paws, but never came close to seeing the beasts in question.
They were ghosts, not here or there, but their wails echoed in the night. Hunters went in parties in search of them but always returned with no bounty. The wolves hid, almost as if they knew they were being hunted.
Her nephew knew where she’d moved to and very excitedly asked if she could take a picture of a wolf for him. A real, live wolf. He was obsessed and truly believed they were out there. As he was her favorite little person in the world, she’d promised.
His mother, with five other children, told her just to print one off the internet, but she couldn’t. She’d promised the little man, and a promise was a promise.
Every so often, when she had a chance, she’d strap on her camera and go on a hike. That way, she was holding to her promise. She was looking for them.
She could tell he was sad she hadn’t found any, but the smile on his face when she told him the last time she’d gone looking, it was too bright to put into words.
It’d been such a long time since she’d gone on the wolf hunt; she was certain it was about time. When he asked the last time she saw him, she couldn’t even remember. She just stared at him blankly. It made her feel like a criminal.
So here she was on her Friday night, trekking through the dense woods with her camera slung over her shoulder. She usually walked thirty minutes straight out and just turned around when she was ready to go back. It was a done deal. It was what she’d been doing for months.
Except this time, she didn’t check the weather. She always checked the weather. This time, she packed her bag—what her sister considered “The Bag of Overly Cautious”—and just left, which left her in the middle of a snowstorm.
She couldn’t have known. It was certainly chilly when she left. After fifteen minutes she realized how low the temperature had dropped.
With her nephew’s promise at the forefront of her thoughts, she was determined to go just a few more minutes, but the snow came down in a heavy sheet, and she lost her way in a matter of minutes.
She tried turning around, but after walking for over an hour, she realized she’d gone in the wrong direction. Fear consumed her; her chest tightened.
She toyed with the idea of stopping and waiting. She had even tried her phone, but there wasn’t a signal. Who knew how long the snow would fall?
But as the sun began to set, she was second-guessing all of her decisions. Her shoes were soaked through, and her feet throbbed from the cold. Her legs were stiff and heavy from dragging through the snow. She regretted leaving her house at all.
After hours of walking, she saw a little cabin ahead of her. Perhaps a hunting cabin of sorts. She’d thought she was going to collapse in the snow, but the sight of the cabin gave her a small burst of strength.
It was creepy and old, but she was tired and really didn’t care. It wasn’t until she was on the porch and standing before the front door that she noticed that the door was open, just barely cracked.
She swallowed the hard lump in her throat. A shiver raked through her. This time, it was out of fear instead of cold.
One quick glance behind her and she saw that the snow was falling in heavy waves. The wind was howling, spraying her in the face and blowing back her hood.
She nodded, making her decision, and slowly pushed open the door.
Complete darkness greeted her. But even in the darkness, she could see the shadow of someone lying in the center of the room.
She gave another fearful gulp and crossed the threshold, shutting the door to the blistering cold. It slammed shut, and she was enveloped in the darkness, only the whistling of the wind to be heard.
She dropped her backpack on the ground and knelt to find her flashlight from within it. She felt around in the fullness of her bag before she palmed the thick flashlight.
It turned on after she flipped the switch and gave it a few good bangs. The room she stood in was large and empty, save for the massive figure in the center. At the far end of the room was what appeared to be a kitchen. To the right, a staircase.
“Hello,” she whispered over to the figure, too afraid to turn the flashlight toward it. “Are you okay?” she called out.
After a few more minutes of silence, she slowly made her way over.
It was a man. A naked man. He was large and unconscious.
She tried not to let her eyes wander over his body as she knelt beside him. He was tanned, which was strange for anyone who lived there. The sun was never out. His jet-black hair was fanned out across the floor, and the smell of metallic blood assaulted her nostrils.
She let her eyes travel further down his body and found the source of the smell. Huge gashes stretched across his chest, seeping with blood. A puddle had formed around his body.
Panic set in. Her eyes widened at the sight. This is what she packed her bag for, so why wasn’t she jumping to action? She just stood there, watching his wounds ooze, seeing his chest rising and falling too slowly, frozen in time.
Then it passed. She set her flashlight upright so the light filled the entire room and ran to her backpack, dragging it back to his body. She didn’t have any professional medical education, only a few classes on wilderness safety, CPR, and basic first aid.
She dumped the contents of her bag onto the floor rather than sifting through, and began sorting through her things. First, she grabbed her bag of sterile cloth and laid it over his wounds, applying pressure for several minutes to stop the bleeding.
When she pulled back after the blood stopped, she could see the damage. They were deep, nearly to the bone, and she could see much of his muscle.
A chill ran through her.
She quickly applied an antibiotic ointment and wrapped his wounds. Now that he was pretty well taken care of, she needed to take care of herself. She was cold down to the bones, and her clothes were wet through.
There was a small stack of firewood to the left of the fireplace, and she had a little knowledge of how to start a fire. In a few minutes, she had a small fire started.
While she wanted to just lay in front of it like a cat, she was reminded of the man strewn across the floor behind her. He’d felt cold to the touch, probably from blood loss.
She shed her clothes and laid them out to dry. Fully naked, she dragged the man in front of the fire to warm up and sprawled beside him. Just two perfect strangers, absolutely naked, together.