Rays of early morning sun caressed the summer lands of Alaska. Land that normally was covered in a freezing blanket of white was vibrant and green. Late June’s summer solstice was almost here. While nocturnal creatures were busy sleeping in their sets and dens, those who lived by day had come out to work and play for the brief duration of the day. The small town of Nome was no exception. Puppies and children alike enjoyed themselves in the streets and alleyways while the grown-ups settled into a fresh days work.
Near the edge of town, the suns rays touched a rather stunty light blue house with a fenced in back yard. A group of puppies played together, secure within the confines of the yard. The eight pups were all busy playing while four adults watched on from the sidelines. Of the eight, five were clearly purebred huskies, three girls and two boys. The other three puppies however, were already clearly less than purebred dogs despite their meager age of three weeks old. One snow white pup with a black diamond upon her forehead played with her wolf-like sister who's pelt was a swirl of greys and light browns. While the pair of wolf like huskies happily played together in a corner, the last of the litter of three appeared more interested in playing with the young huskies. More correctly, one of the huskies in particular in whom he had already found a friend.
This mostly brown puppy had a lighter brown underside. His yellow eyes followed the every move of the red and white husky pup nearby. After a few moments of admiring her, he rushed over and pounced upon her. “You’re it!” He cried before he raced off around the yard.
The cream and white husky who was known as Jenna smiled as her best friend rushed off. She wasted no time in hurtling after him while her brothers and sisters scattered, giggling.
The parents of the two litters watched on with silly smiles of delight upon their muzzles. Under the surface of bliss there lay a tension. Watchful without being overly watchful. Careful, but not to the point where they would spoil their young ones fun in the sun. The purebred husky couple, Crescent and Boomer were both sleek light-grey dogs. While Crescent had an almost white underbelly, her mate Boomer had darker near-black swirls thought his coat. Beside the two husky parents stood a deep reddish-brown husky with a lighter earthy-orange underbelly and muzzle. Snuggled up against to his side was the pure white mother of the litter of three. She kept her wolf ears tuned in for the slightest of sounds from beyond the fence. While her ears monitored the surrounds with sensitivity beyond that of any dog the rest of her relaxed further into her mate’s sung doggie embrace. As her mind wandered to the wide open hills of the wild, Aniu remained alert. Wolves were unwelcome in town. She knew this well from bitter experience. Chances were, if either her litter or herself were found, they would be chased off or killed. Should that come to pass, her mate and his friends would subsequently suffer the anger of all the dogs in town. She hoped the kind husky pair who sat beside them would never be forced to face the ire of other house-pet canines.
Despite the risk, Aniu remained, moulded into the side of her lover while her eyes watched her young ones. After all, they had only been in town a few days and had kept strictly to the safety of home they had been offered. The rest she had found in this safe haven was well worth the trials she and her mate had gone through. The joy in her children’s eyes as they played made the risks seem worthwhile.
Jenna’s brown eyes lit up like the sun as she playfully tacked her new friend into the lush grass. They rolled around for a few moments in a ball of fluff and puppy, cheered on by their siblings till they came to rest in a giggling heap, Balto on top.
“Roscoe, you still haven't told me how you met your mate,” Boomer's inquisitive tone broke through the joyful morning air, summoning all grownups back to earth.
The reddish-brown husky jolted upon hearing his name. “Huh? Oh yea… I guess.”
“Yes, I would so love to hear your story,” added Crescent with a light smile.
Her gaze was met by both Aniu and her mate’s who smiled back at her. “We should probably retreat in doors if you wish to hear. I am not keen for unwelcome ears to hear such a tale.” The white wolf spoke softly, yet her strong voice left no room for contestation in the vibrant summer air.
“As you wish.” Replied Boomer. “Children. It’s time to come inside. It will be dark soon and I don't need any of you getting lost.”
“Race you in!” Cried Ranger before he rushed off, eager to be first inside.
Balto was hot on his heels, followed closely by the other six.
The tough reddish orange husky led his mate in behind the tiring puppies. Aniu gave a quick sniff of the area to ensure their time had gone unmonitored from any of the other dogs in the town.
Soon the two families were settled around the floor of the living room.
“Now comes the time for me to share the story of how I met my savior.”
“Awww dad…” Complained his grey daughter, Ellie, “that makes it sound silly. I thought you were gonna tell a cool story!”
“I will. Don't you worry.” Roscoe's deep voice broke into a moment of hearty laughter as he playfully swiped at his precious little girl.
He caught both sisters and quickly pulled them across to lie between Aniu and himself. He gazed down into the sour faces with a confident smile. “Now just you stay there and let daddy tell the story ok? I promise it will be good.”
The twins nodded but otherwise held their silence.
Across from two parents, their only son Balto lay his head against the soft fur of his best friend who reciprocated by curling herself around the week younger wolf-dog. Jenna giggled as her companion wriggled to around in an effort to find the most comfortable spot.
Two sisters and duo of brothers kept their distance from their sister and her new best friend. The two boys both relaxed in between their parents and Roscoe while the two sisters cuddled up next to their mother.
Roscoe noted everyone appeared to be settled before he opened his mouth to begin.
“It all began one stormy night, three years ago. My team and I were caught up in the middle of the biggest race of our lives, the Trans-Alaskan Derby.”
“No way…” The silvery grey husky puppy Tiberius allowed his mouth to hang open in awe. Beside him his brother shared his awestruck look.
“Sush you two, let the kind husky continue.” Their mother chided them.
“Thank you Cresent,” Roscoe smiled. “Like I was saying, there we were, in the middle of the wild, nothing but the snow, wind treacherous trails. It was just us, a small team of huskies and our musher."
Roscoe paused for dramatic effect for a few moments before he continued.
“We could hear the faint sounds of our competition far behind us. Victory was assured, right up until their leader, Butch, a black and white demon of a malamute bit the leg of one of my wheel dogs. In the chaos that followed, my harness snapped and I quickly found myself in free fall off the side of the cliff.”
“What happened next?” blurted out Tiberius, eager to hear more.
“Did you die?” asked his brother.
Aniu laughed at the over eager pups as they continued to toss questions her mate’s way. The couple in front of her shared a grin with her but otherwise held their silence, content to allow things to play out for the time being.
“I nearly did die. But I lived.” Declared Roscoe with a victorious sweep of his forelegs.
“Yay!” Cried the puppies, each eager to hear the next step in the tale.
“How did you make it?” asked Tiberius as he took an eager step toward the storyteller.
“Well…” Roscoe began once more.
A swirling blanket of white settled upon the lone dog who lay in the snow. His light brown coat was barely distinguishable as the prone form of the sled dog lay twisted in the snow. The wet, freezing cold slowly seeped into his body. Slowly but surely his life-force drained from him like a trickle water down a drain. Pretty soon, the fluffy innocent snow that covered him would becoming his tomb.
There was a light a long way off. Roscoe turned his nose to the air and sniffed. Nothing.
Strange. His nose could always smell something. The tantalising smell of fresh meat or the sweat from his fellow sled dogs while they raced. Yet this… place. Whatever it may be held no smells. Strange, he pondered to himself. How could there exist any place without smell. His nose still worked, he was sure of that. Yet somehow, here there was nothing.
Nothing but that light far off. ‘Oh well,’ Roscoe thought, ‘I might as well investigate.’ After all, there had to be some reason he had found himself here and not… wherever he should be.
Just as his first foot rose into the air he felt a strange sensation. Whatever it was felt warm and wet. It reminded him of his mother whenever she would prod him with her nose to wake him in the early morning as a puppy.
No. That wasn’t right. His mother had passed on two seasons ago. There was no way she could physically be with him now.
Tingles ran up his spine as his paw fell upon the blackness where he stood.
A sharp pain lanced through his system causing the husky to cry out. Whatever that was, he knew he didn't want it!
A second jab struck his heart and he fell flat upon the blackness. The far off light began to dissolve into nothingness as his head spun. His body ached as if there were millions of tiny shards of ice within him. They burned like frozen suns, cold yet unbearably hot. He suddenly, briefly wished he was dead so that he could be left alone without the sudden pain.
Roscoe’s world became darkness, freezing cold black.
A blast of snow to the muzzle brought Roscoe back to his own body. Somehow he faintly felt paws shifting the freezing snow off his body. A whimper of pain escaped as the freezing cold burned his flesh. With vision blurred beyond use, he turned to his nose.
With his hazy senses, it still took his good ol’ nose several moments to find the source of the paws that fought to free his entombed body.
“Wolf!” The light brown husky flew into the air, only to weakly slip back into the snow as his legs failed him.
He tried to open his eyes once more to gaze up into the face of the creature he could smell before him. He could feel the wolf as it stood before his exposed belly. This was it, this was the end. After barely surviving a fall into the frozen tundra, he, Roscoe was about to die in the jaws of a vicious, soulless wolf.
“Please, don't do that… I do not wish to harm you.” At the sound of the wolf’s voice, Roscoe froze. It… her voice. That melody was the warmest contralto tone to ever reach the tough husky’s ears. Her voice, for it in fact was a she-
His eyes chose that moment to focus enough to spot his savour and what he saw took his breath away.
Roscoe beheld a beautiful white female wolf. Not just beautiful. Stunning. More breathtaking than the dawn sunrise over the mountains yet more graceful than a summer stream through the woods. She was the most amazing creature Roscoe had ever seen. His mind was void of all other thoughts as he continued to drink in the beauty before him. He was captivated, imprisoned yet he found himself wishing that his captor would never leave his sight.
“Hello?” It was then the husky realised there was a white paw in his face. The beautiful young wolf was waving it in front of his muzzle. She wore a concerned look upon her own face and Roscoe realised he must have zoned out. He could never remember doing that before… and because of a wolf! What would his friends think?
‘Say something!’ That voice inside his head pleaded with him.
“Are you hurt?” Her concerned tone felt like a breath of life to him. He needed to hear her voice once more!
‘Tell her you need her help.’ “I’m… I’m fine.” He managed before a shiver coursed through his frame.
‘Dam! Now she will leave you, you silly sled dog!’ It appeared his brain was at odds with his mouth, how wonderful.
The lone husky forced himself to stand. As soon as his left foot touched the ground and weight was place upon it, he felt himself stagger and fall. Searing pan ripped through his system, hot light fire and harsh against the cold of the snow. A cry of pain escaped the wounded husky’s lips before he could pull himself together.
“Stupid human-pet. You do need my help.” Roscoe felt a cold, half frozen wet snout touch the side of his belly as the owner found her way to his wounded leg. Without asking for permission, the white wolf nosed her way between the snow and his soft coat.
With a mighty heave, she lifted her companion and flipped him onto her back. “Stay there.”
With the simple command lingering in the air, the beautiful wolf took off slowly through the frozen wasteland.
Roscoe fought to breath as he bounced, tossed and turned on the top of the white wolf. He closed his eyes and did his best to ignore the mind numbing pain that covered him like a blanket.
The white wolf trotted onwards though the snow desperate to find shelter for her charge.
Roscoe closed his eyes and tried to ignore the strange feeling of his helpless left foreleg as it dangled down the well toned side of his savour. He could hardly feel it, not that it was of any surprise. He could hardly feel the rest of his body he was so numb with pain and cold.
After what may as well have been forever, the wind fell away. Startled by the sudden lull, Roscoe opened his eyes and his ears perked up.
He was greeted by darkness. A few quick sniffs later his nose told him they were in a small cave, large enough to fit a young bear, or a small family of wolves. Before his mind could process any further information he found himself discarded.
The unexpected blow knocked the wind out of him and he lay there for a few moments while his head spun.
“You…. are heavy… house pet,” panted the she-wolf.
Roscoe slowly propped his chin up as best he could on his one good foreleg to gaze up at his savour in the dark.
The she-wolf got to work on his frozen body, licking the worst off him before she lay lightly upon him in a criss-cross fashion to transfer body heat.
“Well… yea. I’m kinda more than just a house pet, I’m a sled dog. Roscoe’s my name by the way.” Even in the dark of the cave the husky could sense his beautiful savour as she lay like a blanket upon him. The strong strong smell of a young female wolf who had been exerting herself lay heavy on his nose. It was a strangely intoxicating scent. Her scent made him feel strange inside, a nice strange. He had never smelt a wolf’s scent quite like it. The touch of her coat against his only served to heighten the feeling as it bubbled within, eager to escape.
That single word, her name, hung in the air as she continued to fight to recover her breath. Those moments gave the husky time to think. Aniu what a unique name. It was perfect. Roscoe felt a grin break out across his muzzle.
‘Now will you tell her how beautiful she is?’ asked that annoying voice inside as he continued to smile.
Before he could so much as utter a word, his stunning savour broke the frozen silence.
“Whats so funny?”
That snapped the husky out of his shell. “N-nothing. I-I’ve never heard that name before… it’s…”
“Silly. I know.” Aniu’s muzzle brushed the cave floor as she began to turn in shame.
“No!” Those words rang out around the cave, overly loud amidst the quiet.
‘Too fast. Now she will suspect you like her. Thats bad. She is a wolf. And you, you’re a-‘ He silenced the unwanted thoughts by opening his mouth once more. “I-I was about to say… It… It’s beautiful. Just like- well… you.”
Shocked silence reigned supreme.
Laughter rang out around the small cave as Aniu’s mirth suddenly split forth. “Fancy that… A husky of all creatures just called me beautiful.”
“But- back there. You were… you are.” Roscoe stuttered. He felt like his brain was breaking down. A strange feeling was causing him to stutter like a nervous pup. ‘This is stupid!’ He scolded himself.
He felt his companion stand slowly. “You must have hit you head harder than I thought. Anyway… I’ll find us something to eat. Stay here house-pet.”
Again, without waiting for her command to be graced with a reply, the white wolf set off into the howling gale outside. “House pet,” scoffed the lone husky.
Roscoe’s eyes followed his savour out. Just as she was about to disappear into the snow, light caught her white coat and once again, she took his breath away. With a sigh, the lone husky placed his head between his forelegs and closed one eye. All thoughts of annoyance had been washed away by the angelic sight.
“Aniu… beautiful name for a beautiful creature.” He allowed the silence to sink in for a few moments before he quietly continued to talk to himself. “I don’t even care that you’re a wolf, you’re just… unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
Although she had left him, her scent remained, strong as the last moment she had shared with him. A rush of nervous tremors wracked his system as he imagined her once more, lit perfectly by the rays of the late day sun. An angel in the frozen wasteland.
His savour. The first one to make him feel strange like this since-
“Oh no…” He groaned. “I can't be in love with a wolf… Already.”
‘I wonder if she has a mate. Someone as beautiful as her surely must-‘
‘Go away stupid voice! I don’t need you!’
‘Yes you do. You need someone to point out how much you like this wolf.’
“No I don’t!” the angry shout fell dead upon the snow.
As he already knew, arguing with oneself was a pointless activity. It made his head spin more so than it already was and he felt a kind of nervous hope well up inside. Hope that he would see Aniu soon.
“What am I thinking? I must sound like an idiot!” Roscoe muttered as he lay his muzzle against the rough ground that was to be his bed. ‘You’ve only just met the girl and now she’s making you feel strange. I wonder what all the guys in town would think? Roscoe, lead dog and wolf lover.’ Another groan escaped. There was only one way that would go. Most of the dogs in his town hated wolves. Not that their distant relatives showed any kindness back. It was well known what the feral beasts were like.
Yet here he was, in some cave in the middle of the wilderness… waiting… waiting… waiting for the wolf who saved him to come back.
“luv- I like… a wolf?” he asked the cold air. A muttered curse nearly escaped his mouth as he jerked in surprise.
He lay still, frozen in shock as he realised that he had just admitted to himself that yes, he did like this wolf. Roscoe gazed unseeingly out the cave exit. This was impossible. They were from two different words. This could never work.
Yet the feelings remained, as steadfast and undeniable as the snow outside.
“Wait… are you kidding me, love at first sight? No wonder you never found a girl while you were around town.” Boomer's rich bass tone filled the room as he burst out laughing.
Roscoe cast an annoyed glance toward the speaker. “Well. I guess you could call it that yes.”
“Awww… Roscoe. Why didn’t you tell me?” Aniu spoke, her questioning glance boared into his soul.
“I- I did tell you.”
“I mean, right then, when I returned silly,” lightly giggled Aniu as she nuzzled her mate.
“Oh. Well, you know. I didn’t think an amazing creature like yourself would be interested in a house pet like me.”
As Roscoe finished speaking, one of his daughters Ellie broke out into a fit of giggles. “You called daddy a house pet?”
“Yes, I did.” Confirmed Aniu with a sage-like nod. “In fact, while he was lying there, completely smitten by me, I was out there doing all the hard work.”
Aniu stalked along the snow covered hillside. Her snowy pelt blended perfectly with the surrounding landscape. She was s shadow. As she searched for prey, her mind wandered to the strange creature she had left behind.
What was a house pet like Roscoe doing out in the middle of nowhere? He had mentioned he was a sled dog. Not that any of that appeared to have helped him.
She wondered to herself, why? Why had she found this creature? She was out on her quest to discover her purpose in life.
Could this new dog be what her senses had drawn her to? Or was he just a sorry excuse for a creature she had discovered along the way. He seemed pretty feeble. That was the last thing any creature needed out in the wilderness. You needed to be sure of yourself or you would perish. The harsh arctic landscape gave no allowances for the weak.
Still, regardless of if she was supposed to find him or not, she could not abandon him simply to continue her quest. That would kill him.
She sighed. She had not set out to be a cubsitter. She was above that. Yet here she was, out looking for a meal for two. It was rare enough for her to share a meal with a young wolf of the opposite sex. Well, impossible. Most wolves in her pack had avoided her due to her... condition.
Some in her pack would almost consider her current act romantic. She was after a meal for two after all.
The white wolf shook her head. This was no time to go getting silly ideas. Her tummy rumbled in confirmation before she stalked onwards.
A light poof and a sprinkle of snow thrust the sleeping dog from his dreams. He froze in shock. There before him a wolf stood, its silhouette deep black against the muted blues and golds from the sunset outside. As he fearfully glanced up to face the invader, his memory returned in an avalanche of feelings, images and scents. The beautiful wolf before him was Aniu.
A sigh of relief escaped. She did care. She did return. Maybe she felt something too…?
“Thanks.” He sniffed the offering for a few moments. It was a rabbit.
The most amazing creature in the world sat beside the wounded dog as he took his first few bites. As nice as the meal tasted, it could have been day old rat and he wouldn't have minded. She was here. By his side. They were sharing a meal together like friends, or mates.
Roscoe felt fireflies invade his tummy as his thoughts continued to dwell upon the beauty at his side.
The pair ate in silence for a small eternity till Roscoe cleared his throat, his meal nearly finished. “Back there… you saved my life. Why?”
Aniu hesitated for a moment before she responded, “I don’t know. Something drew me to where you were. You were in trouble. So I helped you.”
“You don't know? Well, maybe was it my good looks?” Joked Roscoe as he took another bite.
“Mmmm… Maybe…” Humoured Aniu as she continued to dig into her meal. “What caused a dog like yourself to be stranded in the middle of nowhere?”
The brown husky placed the remains of his meal aside, reluctant to divulge any information. It wasn’t that he didn’t wish to tell her, it was that he wasn’t sure where to begin. She was sure to become bored if his story took too long.
Roscoe sensed an answer was long overdue and so began at the first place his mind returned to. “I fell from a narrow pathway somewhere above where you found me. My team and I were in the final leg of a race. We were winning till something went wrong… It was all a blur for me as I was lead dog. It took a moment for the lead that connected me to the rest of my team to snag on something. It broke, I fell and hurt myself. Then you found me.”
His companion shifted beside him as if in thought. “A race? That’s quite a story. I’ve never heard of house pets racing each other this far out in the wild. Sounds like you could use some rest.”
“A sled race,” Roscoe corrected. “Between dog teams. Each team is led by a musher. A human who loves his dogs. He feeds us, takes care of us and lets us enjoy doing what we love most. To run. He tells us where to go and I am- was in charge of leading the team there. We would deliver supplies and mail to the whole town.” Roscoe puffed out his chest ever so slightly and held his head high. “I was even the lead dog for the racing team. We are the best out of all the neighbouring towns.”
Aniu took a moment to process this new information. It sounded as if dogs and humans had a symbiotic relationship that benefited both parties. Who knew that humans could have a side that did not include killing or destroying.
“And yet you fell,” the white wolf observed, her eyes, her gorgeous luminous orbs were glued to the proud husky who held her attention.
“It would not be the first time that our rivals have cheated,” the orangy-red husky defended. “They usually try something,” he paused for a moment. Maybe that was enough about himself. He didn’t wish to bore his stunning companion.
“But enough about me, what about your pack? Shouldn't you get back to them?” Roscoe fought to keep his tone level. He hoped she didn't detect the hope in his voice. Hope that she would stay and look after him. To nurse him back together. Maybe even to become his-
She’s wolf. He reminded himself sternly. Everyone knew what they are like. She could never like him in that way. ‘Although it would be nice…’
After several moments thought, he had his answer. “My pack… I left them. Many months ago,” Aniu became still for a moment as if in deep thought, “I was always destined to wander.”
“Maybe I could wander with you?” Roscoe offered hopefully. He knew she was unlikely to know he was smiling in the dark, so didn't bother to hide his inner hope anymore. ‘Please say yes.’
“We shall see.”
‘She nearly said yes!’ his heart swelled with excitement in the darkness.
Roscoe forced himself to settle back. There was something about her. Something that made him sure this wolf wasn’t like the heartless killers he had come to know from stories. She had saved him after all and that was a start. A start to what, he wasn't sure. But he hoped it would be something good.
As Roscoe closed his eyes, he found his thoughts returning at last to home.
“Ewww.. dad! Now you're getting all ... ewww!” Complained Balto. The young pup by his side broke out into a fit of giggles at his outburst.
Roscoe smiled down at the pair, despite the interruption, he remained elated. The orange-red husky also found it amusing that his son could find the story too lovey-dovey while snuggling a girl. “Well son. How about you and your new friend go into another room and play there then? I would like to continue my story.”
"Fine. But I hope there's a fun part coming up," Balto grumbled softly.
Jenna placed her chin upon her snuggle buddies forepaws and patiently awaited the continuation of the story. That had the side effect of shutting Balto up too. He lay his muzzle beside his friends’ and together they waited.
"Right... Where was I?" Roscoe wondered aloud.
"Our first night together in that cave," Aniu softly reminded her mate.
Boomer spluttered as he fought back a laugh. "Those images!" He clutched at his snout as if blinded by graphic images then overdramatically fell to the ground.
"Not like that!" Retorted Roscoe, horrified by his friend's comment.
"Anyway," Crescent cut in. "I for one would like to hear more of this tale and less of my mates unhelpful comments." She glared daggers at her lover for a moment before her regular friendly face returned.
"Thank you Crescent, now... The cave!" Declared Roscoe.
A lone husky woke to peaceful silence. He unleashed a mighty yawn before he stood slowly.
Roscoe yelped in pain as left leg gave out and he collapsed roughly on the hard dirt of the cave floor.
The scent of a certain hot wolf reminded him of his companion. He glanced around the dark cave before he turned to the dawnlight outside.
He was alone.
His heart felt like it would stop. She was gone.
Aniu had left him.