Vosh was walking by the old mill in the gathering darkness, as the light waned, his boots making clunking noises on the rusted cross-hatched steel plates that lined the walkway outside of the loading dock. Vosh figured he could find shelter here if he could get inside. The weather was turning from bad to worse, with the chill wind and rain. He really needed a secluded and abandoned place to hold out and rest, to keep away from the authorities.
The gusting wind was blowing debris, leaves, and the chill rain against his wool coat, trying to leach the heat right out of his body. He had a V-neck sweater and a white button down shirt on, but his fingers were getting stiff from the cold. His hat was pulled down low on his head to shield his head from the worst of it.
He carried a leather satchel that held most of his worldly possessions, as he sniffed the air and could only smell the chill rain and the bamboo plants that grew around this old mill. His blue jeans were comfortable enough while he was walking, though they were damp now, and they hugged his skinny frame, as he looked for a way in.
He approached the shipping entrance, heralded by an old faded sign. He heard something that sent a chill through his bones- the howl of a wolf. The young man paused a moment, glancing around, trying to locate where that howl had come from, but he at least didn’t think it was right behind him. “Only one,” he thought as he shivered and walked up to the shipping entrance.
Though the door was locked, he got lucky, and found a frosted glass window that wasn’t well secured. As he glanced around, looking to see if anyone was observing, he fished out his pocket knife, opened the lock blade with an audible “CLICK”, and then unfolded a length of coat hanger he fished from his bag.
With the skill that had served him on a few B&E’s, it only took him a few seconds to get the latch up. He glanced around again, as he put blade and hanger away. He tossed his bag through, hearing it thump on a concrete floor. Then he gripped the edge of the window, and pulled himself inside.
Vosh landed next to his bag on the floor, and gazed around. It was a small shipping office, that smelled dry and a little musty. There was an old metal desk, some ancient office chairs, and an old coffee maker on top of a steel file cabinet. Leaves, dirt, and old bills of lading littered the floor. An old empty water cooler sat forlornly by the entrance out to the shipping floor.
The young man could hear the rain pattering on the steel and brick walls, and the corrugated roof, as the wind made howling noises like that of the wolf cry he’d heard minutes ago. With a shudder, he began investigating the area around and inside the office.
Vosh found a small supply closet just outside the office, which contained a locked trunk, like an old military locker. The padlock fell to his skills in mere moments, and inside was a veritable treasure trove.
In a series of black plastic trash bags, tied up with zip ties, there was a pillow, a sleeping bag, and a blanket. In another, there was a change of clothing – Jeans, t-shirt, socks, undies, and several different colored checked flannel shirts. There was even a plain gray hooded sweatshirt. He found there was a slight smell of age and a hint of musk, but all of the items were certainly serviceable.
There was also a wooden ammo box, as well, with 2 bottles of alcohol – one was a bottle of Jack Daniels, and the other a bottle of vodka, and a some canned food, as well. There was a supply of candles, some utensils, a can opener, a box of kitchen matches, and a little tin lantern with a bottle of fuel. Thank the gods for an office manager that was either a survivalist or just planned on staying long nights away from home!
Vosh hummed to himself as he pulled the locker into the shipping office, then proceeded to use an old broom to clean out a corner for himself. He glanced around, and though he could hear noises of the wind and rain, he had found shelter for at least the night.
As he finished putting the trash into a 55 gallon steel drum- perhaps he’d light a fire in it for heat tonight – he lit a cigarette, and puffed away for a few minutes, relaxing and just listening to the mounting storm.
There was a flash of lightning, followed by thunder, which made him jump a little. And then a few moments later, he heard another of wolf howl that seemed to echo across the nearby hills.
And it wasn’t from far away.
He lit the little oil lamp and huddled in the relative safety of the nest he had made in the corner of the office, when he heard a snuffling noise outside the window. There was a low growl.
He quietly stood, and grabbed the old broom, thinking what a poor weapon it would be, but knowing he didn’t want to have to use his lockblade – if he was forced to use a knife, he would be way to close, at that point. But he gripped the broom handle, and held it tight against his chest, as his ears strained to catch the noises from outside.
There was a noise at the window, like a snuffling sound. And then, another soft growl. Vosh gulped, and narrowed his eyes. And then he heard what sounded like a grunt, and there was a flash of lightning that lit up the sky outside the window, and Vosh could see, outside the frosted glass window, the silhouette of a man standing near the doorway.
The door rattled in its frame, as someone tried the handle. It was still locked, and there was a grunt of annoyance, then a curse. A moment later, there was a rattle of the window. Someone was outside, and it wasn’t a wolf.
“Hey.. can you .. let me in? It’s cold and there are wolves out here! “
Vosh swallowed, thinking fast, knowing how scared he’d be of a pack of wild wolves, if he were out there alone. On impulse, he rushed to the window, unlatched the lock, and looked outside. There was a man there, shivering, cold, and naked as the day he was born.
The man had long, straight black hair, down to his shoulderblades, and his body was athletic, and smooth, with only the faintest of baby-fine hair between his pecs and then a light treasure trail leading down from his navel. He was shifting from foot to foot, like his feet were cold, and he was shivering. His eyes seemed almost golden in color, with flecks of brown, and he had 3 or 4 days worth of stubble on his chin and cheeks. “Oh thank the gods,” he said, as the window came open and he could see Vosh inside. “Can.. can you let me in? Its.. cold, and I’m gonna die of exposure.. I can’t hardly feel my toes! And those wolves.. They are so close! I saw one a few minutes ago!”
Not far way, they both heard a howl, and it was answered by another a moment later, a little further off in the distance.
Vosh nodded and held out his hand. “Come on.. You’ll have to climb through the window.. I can’t get the door open – it’s locked,“ he lied. He probably could have opened that door in moments, but he felt it was better to leave it undisturbed. Plus, better to leave what he could do a mystery.
“Thanks.. I can .. climb in.. “ the man said with a frightful glance around him. He gripped the edge and heaved his dripping, naked body through the window.. His feet made a wet slap on the concrete floor when he landed inside.
Vosh pulled the window shut and shoved the latch down, before he glanced at his new companion. The newcomer was certainly handsome, with celtic tattoos on his chest and upper arms. He had an animal magnetism about him, with a lean, athletic physique, with striated muscles outlined against his tanned skin. He was perhaps 30 years old, and about half a head taller than Vosh. His golden brown eyes glittered in the half light of the little lantern.
Vosh couldn’t help but admire him for a moment, before he coughed and saw that the newcomer was looking him up and down, as well. He got the feeling he was being appraised. Which was pretty usual in this kind of a situation. Strangers had to take the measure of each other, and there was always the possibility of danger and violence.
With chattering teeth, the dark haired man stuck out his hand, “I’m Sam.. and you are?”
“Vosh,” he said, pausing a moment before he took the man’s hand. They traded firm grips, but there was no squeezing contest- just a semi awkward moment before the released one another’s hands. Vosh still gripped the broom handle, and Sam gave him a wry smile. “Ummm.. are you gonna use that thing, or can I try to huddle in a corner somewhere and try to get warm?”
Vosh blinked a moment and then glanced at the broom handle, and then smiled. “Hey, I didn’t know. You know how chance encounters like this can go wrong. How did you know someone was in here, anyway?“
Sam shrugged and pointed at the lantern. “I caught the flicker of your lantern there, and figured someone had to be inside. I was desperate and I needed to get out of the open. Those wolves.. “ he said softly, glancing towards the window as if concerned.
Without warning, Sam shook his head really hard, from side to side, and water flew off his saturated hair and skin, spattering around. Vosh gasped and raised his arms. As he tried to shield himself. “Gods, you’re as bad as my dog, “ he grunted, as he backed away a few steps.
Sam’s long black hair glittered wetly in the light, as he looked apologetically at the other man. “Sorry, “ was all he said.
Vosh shrugged, and replied, “Let’s get you some clothes.”
Sam tilted his head to the side, like he didn’t quite understand him, “Clothes, did you say?”
“Yeah, I just found a locker with some clothing and supplies. I’ll share them.. And get you warm.. “ He walked over to the old army locker, and took out the wool blanket and tossed it to Sam. “Rub yourself down with that, and put these on.. How did you wind up.. Ummm.. you know.. Naked? “
Vosh couldn’t help glancing over at the older man as he first dried off, then slipping into the clothing from the trunk. Sam stopped, and lifted an eyebrow, and Vosh looked away, blushing. Sam smirked, then said, “It’s a strange story, and I’ll tell you after I get warm. But at least the clothes fit.”
“Yeah, they do, in fact seem to,” Vosh observed in a soft voice.
Vosh noticed that Sam had stopped shivering, though his feet were only covered in socks. “Thanks for this.. I feel much better. Too bad there weren’t any boots,” Sam commented.
Vosh didn’t answer but instead took a can of potted meat and some baked beans from the locker, then he glanced at Sam. The older man was looking at him carefully, as if appraising him once more. Those golden brown eyes were glittering softly in the low light, and Vosh got a strange feeling in his stomach. “I’m going to share this with you, Sam, if you’re hungry.”
“Oh hell, yes. I am starved! I really appreciate you sharing with me. I mean, you could have just let a wolf into your fold and yet you’re treating me like a packmate,” Sam said, as he sat, tailor fashion, on the army blanket he spread on the the floor.
Vosh frowned as he used the can opener, pulling back the lid and scooping out some of the beans onto a paper plate from the chest. He did the same with the potted meat, and the passed a plastic fork and spoon over with the plate to Sam.
“What do you mean,” Vosh queried. “We’re both in a bad situation. It’s only humane to help you out. I’m sure you’d do the same for me if our roles had been reversed.” He paused and watched the older man relaxing and smiling.
“I was the wolf at the window a minute ago, and you let me right in. I don’t know why you did that. I’d have probably just ignored you and let you run for it from the pack. At least, if I had followed my usual instincts.“
Vosh glanced at Sam and lifted his chin, then arched a brow questioningly. “Who’s to say who is the wolf and who is the prey, here, anyway? But I think.. You mean literally, that you were the wolf outside.. I heard the snuffling, and the foot falls and the growls. That wasn’t Sam. That was the wolf.”
Sam looked up, his mouth half full of food, as he chewed slowly, before setting the plate down on the floor beside him. “We’re not going to have a problem are we? I mean, since you know, you’re not going to .. try something stupid or clever and think you can .. “
Vosh interrupted and held up his hands, “Sam – I’m just letting you know – I know who and what you are, and I decided to let you in. We’re both of the wolves. I’m just a lone wolf, a stranger in your territory. I don’t have a pack. I stick to human form, most of the time.
“You’re.. One of us? “ Sam said, as he blinked, obviously surprised. Then he sniffed the air gently, and made a strange whine, not something you would hear from a human throat. “Hells bells, I’m getting old. I didn’t know.. Your scent is.. Confusing. “
“I know how to mask it.. I don’t like being hunted for invading territory, “ Vosh replied as he gave his companion a wolfish grin. Vosh wiggled his eyebrows. “Now, just eat your food and and tell the rest of your pack mates you’re staying a while. That is, unless we’re going to have a problem?“
Sam arched a brow, and laughed, before he shook his head, “You’re alright, Vosh. Maybe tomorrow you can run with us a bit? That is, if you are up to it?”
Vosh considered, and then slowly nodded, “I’d like that. Let’s get some rest, and we’ll work that out in the morning. “
Sam raises his head, and howled .. the voice of the wolf inside, calling out to his packmates that their leader was ok, and the newcomer could stay, at least for now.
Everything was going to be alright.
Story by: Dehrynn Shepherd
Hair/Hat- *Dura-B&G*75-HAIR (TMD)