The crunch of snow beneath our pads was cracking like the breaking of bones between our teeth. The tundra, echoing for miles, a vast white desert, and our breath is the only warmth in the barren winterscape. The quickstep of our feet, pacing in time with one another; our bellies empty, senses sharpened because of it. Smells hang in the air like dead men at the gallows. She - weak, injured, alone and out of breath. Five miles had we followed the trail of her scent! Blood from her wound, blood from her menstruation; her fear is the engine that drives her on. Soon she could sleep on the blanket of crisp, white snow, her throat opened and stomach emptied. Liver first, that's our prize. We claimed first our triumph, later the clan feast on the carrion that we had left.
She was slowing down but we quickened our pace. It was not speed that we had in our favour, its endurance, our steadfastness, focus and will, like the sea that washed stones smooth. Ahead, in a clearing, she stumbled and I took her flank, she toppled like cards. Your jaws around her throat, her eyes, an obsidian abyss, her blood was pouring out like a red carpet against the white snow appeared brighter than a ruby. Her life: ebbing away--- she fell silently, quickly, into her sempiternal slumber.
The metallic throng of her liver slipped down my throat and my sister came to take her fill.
"Wait your turn!"
I ordered. She lowered her head and falls back in line. Your mouth was incarnadined in scarlet, your steely eyed gaze flashed me a glance and for a moment I wondered if I too would be reprimanded, but you buried your face again in the caribou and feasted on her warm, tender flesh. The last twitches of her body faded, she took longer to leave than most, her will was strong, and she must have had young ones.
Our stomachs were full; we stepped aside and let the clan devour the leftovers. They snarled and griped at each other like humans around a thanksgiving dinner. The lone one waited… he did not eat unless everyone else had finished. It was either that or -- die alone in the wasteland out here. Vulnerability was seemingly a reward like The Crown's golden jubilee. He had tolerated, to a degree, but my King would open his throat if he displeased him at all.
We headed back to the river where the young ones whined at our return. An old fox hole we took last winter was a favourite place to have this year's litter. Four pups, three male and a bitch, ran up to me and licked the fresh blood from my mouth, I regurgitated and they fed on the partially digested flesh. My sister took them off to the water's edge to drink where they would like to chase the birds.
Defunct almost deadened, we tumbled onto the ground and slept for a few hours in the warmth of the den, bedded with leaves and fur. The smell of urine permeated; the pups still in infancy had yet to go outside when they needed to empty their bladders. It did not stop us slumping into this quiet torpor, only the smell of humans would do that, and they had not been here in three seasons.
The nightfall came and the temperature dropped depressingly low, the thick coats we had protect us from the cold, but we still huddled together for warmth and a pleasant interlude. I needed to stretch my legs so I ambled outside into the bitter night's air. The sky was dark violet aqua chiffon, littered with stars; the moon--- a silver disc, the lake of the gods, reflected in the heavens. While the others slept you came to me and we mated under the moonlight. Afterwards, we called out in a vociferous celebration.
We howled for the offering of flesh the caribou gave to us. She was the Hades incarnate; audacious yet indissoluble, she would sustain our pack until we needed to be fed again. We honoured her under the moonlight; we honoured the land--- the place we call home, the fruitless snow for protecting us from too many humans. We honoured the sky, for the light that was given to us so that we could hunt and live; we honoured our family, our unity, and the bonds we shared. We honoured the moon herself--- that pale goddess--- this is our call; we honoured it now and it echoed through us into future generations. We are the wolves; wild, rapacious and free, and the royalty of the North.
Hasan Maruf teaches English in DPS STS School, Dhaka. What influences him to lift the pen is not only for his adoration for creative writing, but as a form of therapy to seek spiritual salvation.