Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wednesday Snippet!

Confession: I'm slacking on In Cold Blood at the moment, because a rabid plot bunny sank its nasty big pointy teeth into me last week and I've been working away on an Amber Morgan story since. I know! But it is what it is. It's just, you know, the heart wants what it wants.

That said, I am still working on In Cold Blood and I have no intentions of getting too distracted by my alter ego. I may have christened 2016 the Year of the Phoenix, but writing wise it's the Year of the Werewolf.

So it's time for a snippet! Enjoy.

The she-wolf lounged at the river bank in a patch of weak sunlight, and growled at the babbling water. She couldn't pinpoint what was wrong. She'd never tasted anything like it, not as a wolf or a human. It wasn't spoiled meat or pollution. It was just...wrong. Nasty. She lapped at the water experimentally. If there was poison or waste getting into the river, she'd need to move dens.

She was pleased to find the nasty taste fainter than it had been first thing, although it was still there, cloying her throat. She shook her head hard, as if she could shake the taste away. She glanced up the cliff side, tracking the river's route. The cliff was steep, but not an impossible climb for a young, active she-wolf. On impulse, she bounced up and trotted to the foot of the cliff. 
In the summer, humans often denned overnight on the moors and in the hills, and the she-wolf sometimes found their waste after they’d gone. Maybe humans had denned near her cave and left something behind that got in the water. Beer, her own quiet human voice suggested. Beer, ale, lager. Cigarettes. She remembered beer, yeasty, earthy, and not entirely pleasant. But fun, she thought as she started scrabbling up the rocky cliff side. She had a flash of laughter and warmth, a dim memory of summer nights in human-shape. It faded as quickly as it formed, though, as she focused on keeping her footing on the loose earth and pointed rocks underfoot.

At the top of the cliff, tall grasses and heather stretched out all around, leaving the horizon wide open and the she-wolf exposed. The scent was stronger up here, and sent a crash of mixed signals through her brain. It didn’t smell like anything she’d ever run across, but at the same time, her wolf-self knew it. The same way she knew winter was coming early, with a marrow-deep knowing that skipped the logical, human part of her brain. She wanted to run, she wanted to howl, and she wanted to fight, and she didn’t know what she wanted most. That scent…it triggered both aggression and submission inside her. With her ears back and her tail curled in on itself, she paced the river bank restlessly, unsure which impulse to act on.

A bird screamed overhead and she looked up to see a kestrel darting out of the sky. It banked sharply and veered away. Its cry was shocking in the silence of the moors, and it shook the she-wolf from her confusion. Whatever had left that rich, rotten taint in the water, it wasn’t here now and its traces were fading. She was a lone wolf, without the resources or support of a pack to back her up on a potentially long, pointless hunt. As long as the tainted creature stayed away from her den, she wouldn’t waste her energy on it. If she found it prowling around or stealing her kills, then she’d act.

She lay down in the grass and rolled onto her back as the kestrel darted down again, this time seeming to collide with the earth before shooting off, a tiny animal dangling from its peak. A mouse or a vole, the she-wolf thought. Easy, plentiful prey. She didn’t mind sharing with the birds. Or the foxes, or even the occasional wildcat. Most small predators gave her a wide berth anyway, just passing through her territory on their way elsewhere. Maybe this creature – if it was a living thing – was the same. A passer-by, nothing she needed to worry about.

Satisfied, she returned to her den. It was a human habit to worry about things that hadn’t happened yet. Life was much simpler when you were a wolf.

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