Started a new story today. It will probably end up being another serial. It is unashamedly inspired by the TV show Vikings. But, of course, it’s totally different, because it’s the kind of story I write.
By James L. Wilber
I looked into the eyes of the wolf. It sat some twenty-yards off from the make-shift pen they had put us in, a lattice of branches lashed together with bits of rope. I’ve always had keen eyesight, but no, no man can see a wolf’s eyes from such a distance. I only had the feeling. The weight of a connection. I’ve had this connection before, with wolves and serpents. I laughed, sitting there in the cold mud, waiting to die. My prayers had once again been answered. I was totally screwed.
Make no mistake, I am a bastard. Many men in my position have given themselves airs. I make no such vain-glorious claims. All I can say is that a presence has followed me all of my lives. I know what that presence is. It doesn’t make me great. It doesn’t make me better. In fact, it’s fucked me over more than anything else. That’s what he does.
The brown wolf laid down, resting its chin on its paws, staring at me. It wasn’t a big one, more sleek and lean. I knew it wasn’t an ordinary wolf. For one thing, it was alone. Wolves, like other successful predators, for example jackals, and men, travel in packs. This one’s pack may have been circling nearby, but I doubted it. No pack of wolves were crazy enough to fuck with an armed encampment, fires blazing. Not even to pick off the ones tied up in a pen.
Some of my incarcerated fellows spotted my new friend and cried out. “Wolf! Wolf!”
A couple of the jailers came over, swaggering in their chain-armor, swords slapping against their thighs. “Shut up!”
The man next to me with no right hand demonstrated his stupidity. “The wolf will eat us in the night!”
A third jailer appeared, carrying a bucket of water, which he sloshed on the complainer, soaking him, and me, and the others around him. Say what you want about the medieval mind, these were clever people. They always found a way to make things more miserable. Nothing like freezing in the night, huddled up against a dozen filthy, reeking, diseased, fellow prisoners, clothes soaked with seawater. Our execution in the morning would seem a blessing. I settled back, resting up against the fattest one in the lot, and tried to fall asleep. If I slept, there was a good chance I would wake up in a bed in some hostel, deliciously warm and dry. I would tip-toe, barefoot, over to convenient nearby vending machines. They would sell me pissed-out tea or coffee. Another would provide a chunk of chemicals and fats, sweeter than any of these men have dreamed of. But when the rotund prick kneed me in the back, my intuition told me this was not to be, not now. I’ve learned to trust my intuition.
The jailer with the bucket, a big fellow, with a magnificent, braided, blond beard, set it down and picked up a rock at the same time. He whipped it at the wolf, and it bounced at least ten feet away from the creature. The wolf, being no idiot, jumped up and scampered off. The rock posed no threat, but it knew how egotistical men were. When a human wants to fuck with you, you had better give it a wide berth. It didn’t go far, however. Even in the dim light of evening I could see it lurking in the tall reeds that grew along this rocky shore. It bided its time, for whatever it planned on doing. No sleep, no return trip for me, I had better be ready when it did.