The Way of the Wolf

The Way of the Wolf

The largest of the pack, the big gray wolf, went out ahead, moving carefully along the wind-swept, grim landscape, his orange eyes glaring in the side of his head, his quivering ears peaked, not indulgent, not trusting his strength as a leader, but accepting it. They were being stalked; he sensed their peril. An enemy had come into their being, an unknown force for which they had no hope of retribution; this terrifying evil would consume them in a firestorm of confusion and dismay, the leader knew, because it came from within, and, therefore, it was an evil that, if allowed, would surely defeat them.

The big gray wolf had no other choice but to continue to move ahead, realizing that the evil festered inside one of them, and, like a contagion, once it began to spread, it would not be stopped. As the one who the others looked to for guidance, he needed to keep the pack moving forward. The hunger in their bellies was his only hope because each one of them knew that he was stronger when hunting with the others, and what any one of them imagined separately had no relevance to what they needed together. The big gray wolf glanced behind him, but he knew that they were there, following him, the hunger growing in their bellies, and this alone brought him peace of mind. Consciousness brought only betrayal to their cause; he needed to guide them now through reflection into action. There would be time for reflection later, and this would be dealt with at that time. If death to the one who had become conscious was necessary, then it would become clear to him at that time, and he alone, who could resist consciousness, would inflict this just and only punishment; it was the way of the wolf.

His sense of smell was keen, and the smell that had been his only concern for the many miles they had traveled, for the many hours of travail they had endured, had brought them closer to their destiny. The pack moved with deliberation, with fortitude, with resignation, for its fate had been sealed a long, long time ago. They were hunters. They hunted not for sport, not for glory, but for one reason, and for one reason only: to survive. He knew now, by the strong smell that had brought him here, that what they hunted was close. With precision and single-mindedness, they zigzagged up the steep slope, and lined out along the long ridge, moving warily. The sun was low in the sky, but they had time. They paused in the long shade of a grove of pine trees, their black eyes blinking against the glaring sun, their tongues moving in and out, their heads nestled on their forefeet. While the pack rested, the big gray wolf moved to the far edge of the ridge to survey the herd of bison in the valley below. He squinted into the dying sunlight, and held his regal nose into the sweet scent of spring. The winter had been long and hard, but the pack was whole – and hungry. They might fill their bellies tonight, or they might remain hungry, the big gray wolf left this up to a higher fate. For right now, for this one infinitesimal moment in a long line of moments, he felt the warm sunlight on his weary face, and he took in the sweet pine smell of the surrounding forest, looking back with pride at the pack that had traveled so far, through hundreds of thousands of years, to get here, to get to this single moment in time and space, to be what they were, and to live the way they did, which was the way of the wolf.

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