. first draft
He woke up to the loud call of the athan. His mind was fuzzy and the sunlight shining strong through the opening of the brown weathered tent didn’t help. After blinking and rubbing his eyes, Ikhlas made sense of his bearings. The tent seemed to be a medical one, if the piles of medicinal books and bottles of concoctions weren’t enough, there was a big red cross behind him. Swinging his legs off the bed, Ikhlas grabbed his coat and made sure that he had his gun nested within the deep pockets of his coat, and made his way out into the beams of the hot sun. The heads of the few people who seemed to be cleaning up after last night’s campfire turned towards him, and a young girl dressed in hospital scrubs jogged towards him with a smile.
“Hello, we didn’t think you were going to wake up so quickly. How are you feeling?”
The man examined the casual innocence on the girl’s face, and took note of how her shoulders shook slightly. To an untrained eye this tick would not have been visible but Ikhlas’ keen intuition and instincts had kept him alive this long.
“Where am I?”
“Ah, you’re in the desert town of Quicksilver! It’s a small town, but there was a battle a couple of days ago and we were kept stationed in case of any survivors.” The girl had a lilting Slav accent, but Ikhlas couldn’t pin it down. Looking around once more, he saw that the other people, three men and two women, were continuing with their job of cleaning up. Their faces were downcast and nobody was speaking.
Ikhlas glanced at the girl. “Which way to the mountains?”
“The roads are closed, sorry about that. But we’re planning on leaving today for the Red Cross headquarters to restock our supplies. Then off to the next desert town we go!” The girl giggled in what he supposed was probably supposed to be innocent and smooth but it sounded slightly hysterical.
Ikhlas decided to leave. These people had seen something they were deathly afraid of, and either they were not allowed to reveal what this thing was or they could not simply because they could not believe such a fearsome thing existed.
But these were war nurses. It must have been something exceptionally fearsome.
Ikhlas hurled on his large coat and instantly started sweating. Breathing in deeply he took off towards the woods where the coolest air seemed to be coming from, but after a few steps he heard the girl stop him.
“Hey! Hey, sir don’t go off that way!” She ran up to him and bent down with her hands on her knees, heaving heavily. “Geez, you walk so quickly!”
“What do you want?”
The girl looked off behind him towards the woods and took a subtle intake of breath. “It’s, uh, it’s – just stay with us. Tonight. Grub’s looking good, and I’ll introduce you to the team. Your wounds aren’t properly healed and with the roads closed off I can’t guarantee your safety and as a nurse you know how it is. You’re under our authority for the time being, sir.”
Ikhlas stomped towards the woman and backed her up against a tree.
“You’re merely stationed here. You are nurses who are chasing after ghost town battles. Looking at you I wouldn’t put you past a day over nineteen lass, and coming here for the thrill of it isn’t who I am. I’d rather not be under the authority of an adrenaline junkie, I’m good.”
While he was lecturing her, the girl’s stance changed. She squared her shoulders, took in a deep breath and growled at the man looming over her, her eyes flashing the telltale gold of the werewolf.
Ikhlas staggered back and lowered himself slightly, limbs bended – still not sure whether he should run or shift and fight her. This was unexpected.
The girl started chuckling to herself and looking up at the sky. “Oh, an adrenaline junkie, he says. Not a day past nineteen, he says.” She stared at him and started cackling, eyes burning gold and long heavy canines making her words come out as half growls so as to still be understood.
Ikhlas was weary. He hadn’t honed into his wolf ever since his father committed suicide and left him Alpha of a decaying pack. There was no knowing whether he would be able to hold his own against a crazed wild she-wolf.
Whose head was just removed from her neck. Ikhlas shielded his face from the spraying blood for a second, and gaped at the sight before him when he removed his arm. A slender looking man was using the end of his machete knife to pick at his nails.
“What… we were just talking. What?” Ikhlas remembered suddenly, in great and painstaking detail, the discovery of his father’s dead body still warm and still spurting out blood. He was just a kid. Ikhlas backed away from the murderer and the body of the she-wolf. He sunk against a tree trunk and stared, dazed, at the sight before him. His heart was beating too fast, his coat too hot, the sounds of the cicadas and the birds and the forest creatures seemed too harsh, the scrunching of the murderer’s feet and the grinding of the machete knife against his nails was too acute and every sound sounded like a crazed scream.
Azure eyes shaded with dark and thick eyelashes gazed calmly into his. The slender looking man crouched near Ikhlas.
Ikhlas tensed as the man cradled his face in his small long fingers. “It’s okay,” the murderer cooed. “You’re safe now.” Holding Ikhlas’ hand, the man stood up and tugged on Ikhlas’ hand.
“Come on, I’ll take you to my home. You need some tea to deal with the shock. You’re safe now.”
Ikhlas blindingly followed the man, his big hand held warmly by the murderer’s. He tried to utter words of protest, he tried to run away but his body was refusing to respond to him. Memories of his father’s body, the girl’s, the stench of blood, all the screaming were all he could take for now and not even a small part of him wondered whether he was being led to his death.
Ikhlas promptly fell asleep from exhaustion when he climbed into the murderer’s Land Rover. His panic attack had subsided just enough for him to remember questions around the roads being closed and to get out of there because he wasn’t entirely safe before his eyes shut closed and he lulled into sleep.
Ikhlas woke up to someone prodding him, no shaking him gently. His eyes once again met the azure of the murderer’s, and he jerked back into the seat instinctively. Eyes darting around quickly he realised they were still in the jeep and that it was snowing outside. Without a care towards the murderer he jumped out and laughed with joy at the snow. He was on the mountains. The murderer had taken him to the mountains.
“Ah, you like the snow? You seem rather playful for someone of your stature. I’d have thought you were like her if it wasn’t for my radar telling me that you’re completely human.”
Ikhlas reeled. “Completely human?” Had his wolf really been gone for so long?
The murderer shook his raven hair out of his eyes. “I forgot, you’re a civilian. Let’s head inside and I’ll explain.”
Ikhlas followed the murderer hesitantly. Now that he was at the mountains he was itching to see what had become of his pack. Would his mother, aged by all the pain his desertion from the pack had inflicted on her, welcome him with a warm hug or order the guards to chase him out? Had his pack found strength in their new Alpha? Were his relatives prospering in the mountains now? Had they kept the tradition of the igloo homes to commemorate the long ago humans who had stumbled across their land and befriended them with gifts unimaginable?
Somehow, looking at the murderer’s assured gait, Ikhlas had a feeling that he wouldn’t be able to leave so easily. The machete knife was now being used to scratch the murderer’s head. Ikhlas still had blood on his clothes and on his skin. He had to wash up at least and the man didn’t seem to think that Ikhlas was a threat.
The murderer lived in a small cottage made of dark wood and covered in snow. The door was simple enough, the murderer rammed his key into the lock and with a few twists both he and Ikhlas were inside. Inside there were no interior walls to divide the rooms. The house was one big room, with a kitchen on the right and bathroom on the far left. The house was homely and cosy, mainly due to the wolf furs draped around the sofas and on the floor. Ikhlas’ eyes widened. He hadn’t seen fur in years.
The murderer put down his machete and the big bag on a table near the door. He peered into a mirror hanging on the wall and fixed his hair – brushing the snow out. Turning slightly towards Ikhlas the murderer gave him a soft smile. “Sit down, you must be cold. Have you ever felt fur against your skin?”
Ikhlas sat hesitantly on the sofa and with a small shove from the murderer sank into the soft pile of furs which made up the sofa. He closed his eyes and focused thoroughly on the whisper of the fur and the warm heat resonating from the sofa. There was such a big ache within his heart and all Ikhlas wished was to bury his face into the fur and never come back up for air. It had been far, far too long.
. all rights reserved // mahima ^.^