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Chapter 7: My Dream
It was getting late in the day, as the sun slowly descended its path in the sky and gave rise to the moon. The sounds of the woods surrounding the area, switched from the birds singing while gliding through the air, to the melodic and peaceful chirping of crickets. The calming atmosphere blanketed the valley as the wolves took to their dens for the night to be with their families.
It had been a few hours since Eve had told me about how long I was out. To be honest, I still couldn't believe it. It had really only felt like a few hours, but to have been asleep for an entire month. I didn't even want to think of what I had missed with my friends while being asleep. But more than anything, I didn't want to believe that I had left Kate for that long.
My eyes began to water at the thought of doing something like that to her. "It must have been devastating for her, knowing i was hurt and that she wouldn't be able to stay with me. My mind raced from one thought to the next, trying to figure out what had happened and what i was going to do now.
After Eve had told me about my situation, she asked a few more questions before leaving me to rest up. She said I had to spend the next few days here at her den so that she could keep an eye on my condition. At first I wanted to object to the idea, but this was the perfect opportunity to see Kate, so I decided I would stay. Plus, to go home I would have to go back through the woods alone and I wasn't comfortable with that right now. The thought of that creature slowly crept back into my head, almost immediately sending chills down my spine.
I know it was just a dream, but it felt so real at the time. It was as if it was actually in front of me, trying to kill me. I continued thinking about the creature and what it said to me, still hearing the creaking of its bones when it moved. I guess i was so deep in thought, that i hadn't noticed Eve had walked in front of me and was now standing with food.
"..rey…..phrey…...Humphrey!" Eve shouted, causing me to jump up startled, hitting my head on the roof above me. Quickly grabbing the top of my head where I had hit, I sat down rubbing the stinging spot on my head. "You okay dear? I didn't mean to scare you" Eve apologized, setting the food down in front of me and sliding it forward.
"No mam, I'm sorry, I should have been paying more attention to my surroundings," I said, leaning down and sniffing the meat in front of me. It was still warm, dripping with blood that pooled around it. It must have been from this afternoon's hunt, I thought as I gave it a lick to taste the blood. I quickly ripped a piece of the meat from the lifeless blob on the ground, leaning back up to chew it. I noticed Eve's eyes following me as i did so but i didn't pay it any mind.
"You seemed pretty deep in thought there for awhile, everything okay?" she asked, laying down in front of me, crossing her paws with elegance. I decided to follow her movements, as I laid down across from her, but I left my paws uncrossed. She nosed the meat closer to me, witch i took another bite of. I pondered her question and thought of how i wanted to respond to it. Should i tell her the truth? If I did, she might think I'm crazy or something. Maybe i could say i was thinking of Kate, which wouldn't have been a complete lie. I continued to chew on the meat as i thought about this.
Finally after a few moments i finished chewing and swallowed the piece of meat, allowing me to speak. "I was just thinking about the time that I spent knocked out," I said, latching my jaw onto the chunk of meat again. She smiled watching me fight with the food before me before speaking to me again.
"What do you mean?" she asked, focusing back up to my eyes, locking hers to mine. As she stared at me I could feel a chill finding its way up my back before stopping at the base of my neck. The feeling made me freeze as my eyes stared back at hers, as if locked in place. An image of the creature's face from when it had me pinned to the tree, popped in my head causing me to gasp with a quick jump. The sudden inhale from the gasp caused the meat I was eating to go down my throat before I had finished chewing it, making me choke.
I coughed for a few seconds trying to clear my throat, eventually coughing up the meat and spitting it out allowing me to fully inhale. I took a second to steady my breathing and catch my breath. Eve, who had quickly gotten up and made her way beside me, was patting on my back trying to help. I would never tell her this to her face, but she wasn't helping at the moment.
"Humphrey are you okay, what happened?" she said, her voice slightly concerned. I just waved my paw back and forth for a second, "Im okay, it's okay… just didn't chew my food completely '' I lied, not wanting to tell her the real reason I had choked on the meat. Eve's face didn't change, nor did her position next to me. I turned to face her shifting my body, making her place her paw back on the ground. Not convinced by the lie, she continued to eye me. After a moment i beag to feel uncomfortable as I averted my eyes, looking at the floor.
"Humphrey dear, you're hiding something from me" she said scooting a little closer to me. I glanced at her before looking away quickly again.
"No im not" I said, with a quiver in my voice. I already knew by now that she wouldn't leave me alone until she found out what was bothering me, but i had to try and stay firm on this.
"Humphrey.. dear you're shaking right now…" she said, lifting a paw and placing it on my shoulder, making me flinch a little, my body reacting by itself. I hadn't even noticed until she had said something, but I was shaking and I didn't know why. I mean, sure i found Eve scary at times, but this wasn't one of those times. I looked at Eve who looked at me with focused eyes. I was going to have to tell her...but i was afraid to.
"Eve...can i tell you something, and have your word that you won't make fun of me or think i'm crazy?" I asked, turning to face her completely. She just smiled and nodded, reassuring me I didn't need to worry about such things. I proceeded to tell her everything that had happened to me since i blacked out, up to when i woke up. She patiently waited for me to finish my story, her eyes bouncing between my eyes and mouth. I struggled a little when I reached the ending, as images of the creature and what had taken place, flashed through my head, like a movie on replay.
I let out a shiver while tucking my paws under me, as if to hide them. I waited in quiet as I watched Eve, who was still staring at me but seemed to be in thought. Deciding it was better to let her think, I didn't bother to speak up. I mean it was a lot to take in, much less believe. I know if Mooch or Salty had told me something like this, I would have just laughed and told them to grow up.
"Humphrey dear" Eve said, drawing my attention back to her face. She seemed more focused on reality now, letting me know she was done thinking. "What you saw in there, that wasn't imaginary or fake" she said in a serious tone, her emotions not wavering in the slightest.
I swallowed to clear my throat, getting a less than pleasant audible noise from it. I wasn't sure what or even how I wanted to respond to this information. What was that even supposed to mean? Was she trying to tell me what I had seen there was real? That it wasn't just something i had dreamt up. My mind raced from one question to another asking, but not receiving anything in return. Eve, who had picked up on my distress, lifted her paw, placing it under my chin and turned my face back to hers.
"Calm down Humphrey, everything is fine" she said in a soothing tone, causing me to slow my breathing a little, focusing my thoughts back on track. As I looked at her, I felt some tears building up at the base of my eyes, ready to fall at a moment's notice. "I had a feeling deep down, that this could have happened but i had hoped it wouldn't." she said, her tone lower now as if she was sharing secret information.
I looked at her funny for a second as she did this, not sure what she had meant. Before I had the chance to ask her, she spoke up again, almost cutting me off.
"Humphrey honey… the creature you saw in that dream, well it's a very real thing or at least so i've heard." she said with a sigh. "There is a legend in this valley, that a long time ago there used to be creatures in the woods that hid in the shadows of the trees"
I looked at her, with every cell in my brain focused on what she was saying, not missing anything. I had known of a few legends, but I'd never heard one that consisted of creatures in the woods. Especially one that had decrepit monsters like that in it.
"Now these creatures didn't have the same values in life as us wolves do. They didn't care about fighting for food, or reproduction. It was rare to really even see them, as they always stuck to the woods and only came out at night. They could be easily identified by the flower that they would always be seen carrying in their hands." she said, causing my eyes to widen as I thought about the flower I had picked up in the woods. It couldn't have been a coincidence, right? I mean to be fair, I did pick up a flower from the woods that didn't look like anything I had ever seen, and then continued to pick it up and bring it with me.
"Now these creatures are said to all have a flower, one never the same as the next. Each individual had their own unique flower with them." she continued on in her story. "Supposedly the flowers were like vessels for the creatures, kind of like our bodys are for our souls".
"Wait, what?" I said, cutting off her story for a second. This story was getting wilder by the moment. " You mean to tell me that this creature is not a physical creature?" I asked, my eyes still widened with astonishment, I'd never heard of such a thing before.
"I'm not quite sure of the details myself dear, it is after all just a rumor. I just know that they used to inhabit this area until we showed up. Supposedly anyone who had come across the flower during the day suffered from symptoms." she said, her voice now breaking up a little as her emotion found its way back in. " First it was the poisoning from initial contact with the flower. Followed by night terrors and hallucinations….." she trailed off for a moment, before noticing me nodding at her to continue. " and finally…..suicide" she said, almost wincing at the last part.
I leaned back to think about what she had just said. "Suicide?" i thought to myself, but why would they do that? Maybe the creature was too much for them to handle and they ran in fear.. I mean it was an understandable reaction to that "thing". I wondered if the same thing was going to happen to me. Would it be to much for me to handle, and I try kill myself? I refused to entertain the thought, knowing I would never leave Kate by herself.
"Well it's just a story right?" I said, with a smile trying to lift the mood. Eve faintly smiled, but it soon vanished from her face. I was about to say something to her but was interrupted by intruding voices.
"We're back!" a cheerful vice echoed through the den. I quickly recognized the voice to be Lilly's as I turned to see her and Winston walking into the den, before quickly making their way over to me. Before I could even realize and react to what was happening, I found myself trying to pry Lilly off me as she embraced me in a hug, squeezing the air out of me. After a few failed attempts, I finally got her off me letting the sweet flow of oxygen return to my body.
"Humphrey, I'm so happy to see you up again, I was worried i would ever get to talk to you again.." she said looking down at the floor. I got up and walked over to her, wrapping my arms around her, making sure to hold her arms down so she could death grip me back.
"Sorry Lilly, I didn't mean to worry you like that" I said, as I pulled away from the hug to look at her eyes. I had missed their innocent violet reflection staring back at me. It felt like it had only been a day since I had last seen her, not a month. A small chill found its way down my body at the thought, but I quickly shook it from my body. I turned to Winston who was sitting to the side of Lilly, smiling at the sight of us.
"Good to see you again, sir" I said, lowering my head in respect before raising it up again. He let out a laugh before hugging me and Lilly at the same time, squeezing us all together, as he motioned for Eve to join in. She stood up giving a wave of her hair, causing it to prop up behind her ear, as she walked over to us and joined the hug. I felt like I would explode if anyone squeezed me any harder.
"We're glad to have you back son" Winston said as he broke the embrace allowing me to step back for a second. I was glad they had come in when they did, it helped lift the gloomy mood from Eve's talk earlier.
"Well you guys seem like you're happy, what's the occasion" a female voice said from the front of the den drawing everyone's attention. I felt like everything was moving in slow motion as I turned my head to follow the voice. I had been waiting so long for this one moment, as I finally shifted my eyes to the front of the den to see Kate standing there, her eyes wide and her jaw hanging as she stared back at me.
"Kate?" i asked, but it came out in a hushed whisper more than anything. It felt like my voice had just left my body.i didn't even have time to blink before i was tackled to the ground causing me to slide a few feet across the floor before coming to a stop. I opened my eyes to see KAte standing above me, tears falling from her eyes and landing on mine.
I was about to open my mouth to say something, but was cut off by Kate placing her muzzle against mine, locking us in a deep kiss. I felt as if time was frozen, feeling nothing but the warmth of this beautiful wolf that stood above me. I was still in shock as to how I went from hugging her family to underneath her in less than a minute. I knew I was running out of air, but she showed no sign of letting up as she pushed down harder, keeping me in place. I didn't fight or object to it, allowing her to have her way. She more than deserved it.
A few more moments passed before she finally broke the kiss, letting both of us catch our breath. I reached up to wipe the tears that had now soaked in and stained her fur dark brown, from her face. She grabbed my paw as i did so, pulling it to the side of her face as she nuzzled it, refusing to let it go. She pulled me up into a hug as she laid her head against me, I just responded by pulling her closer to me.
"I can't believe you're awake" she whispered in my ear, as I felt her tears soak into my fur. I didn't know how to respond, feeling the waves of guilt flowing over me, realizing how much this had affected her.
"I'm so sorry, but i'm here now and i'm not going anywhere." I said as I lowered my face to nuzzle hers. I caught a glimpse of Kate's family, who were just standing a few feet away staring at me and Kate, smiles plastered to their faces.
"Okay Kate, show some restraint for now you have all night to spend with him" Eve said, walking over and prying Kate away who refused to back away. Kate looked at her mom, her eyes showing curiosity.
"What do you mean? Kate asked, not looking away from her mother waiting for the answer. Eve just gave a small smile as she walked to sit beside me.
"I need to monitor Humphrey for awhile and help him with some things for a while, so he will be spending some time here for the next few nights." Eve said, looking at me and then Kate, then over to Lilly and Winston. Kate's eyes went wide hearing this from her mom as she talked to me on the floor with excitement again, Eve just rolling her eye's.
Lilly bounced up and down, hopping side to side in excitement, Winston just chuckling at the outbreak of commotion.
"Maybe things wouldn't be as bad as i thought…." I said to myself as Kate locked me into another kiss.