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A Favor for a Favor
Daniel was a self styled trapper. He lived deep in the wilderness of Alaska. Alaska is a really harsh place to live. Daniel really hadn't .planned on this life style, but there was an accident and his former boss was hurt badly and Daniel came out with the blame. The law in his home was looking for him and thanks to a friend in the department, he got warning and left town in a hurry. He traveled by dark and ended up heading for Alaska. He hadn't really started out to go there, but he was looking for a place with few people and he had read articles of how wild Alaska was, so headed that way.
When he arrived there, it was summer time. Even in summer, it got cold. He had some money and stayed at the hotel for a while, but now it was running out. Daniel had a decision to make. He was worried about seeing a wanted poster out for him, so he sold his car, bought supplies and headed into the wilderness. His first priority was to build a cabin to live in. This proved to be difficult. He had never done anything of the type and found that it was harder than he thought. Just before the first storm, he finished it.
This cabin was no real winner. It had cracks that let in cold air and he couldn't get the chimney to draw properly. The air in the cabin was smoky as a result. Now he sat out to try to earn a living in the way that people had for countless years; trapping. Daniel didn't know anything about it and had relied on the man at the hardware store to sell him the right things. He did however, have a book on the subject and after a month or so, had caught his first animal. He was proud of this and treated the skin carefully. He stored it in a shed he had made for that purpose.
Daniel had laid in supplies and settled in to wait out the winter. He ran the trap lines when weather permitted and caught some animals, but not too many. He read when he couldn't go out. One day he was running his trap line, when he heard a loud yelping. He moved forward through the snow to where the sound had come from. As he neared the sight, he slowed, so he could see what was going on, before he got too close. He stopped on the hill and looked into the valley. There was a wolf cub caught in a cruel type of trap that Daniel knew was illegal. Besides, hunting wolves was also against the law. He started forward to try to help the cub, when he saw movement of the far hill. There was another person there and he was aiming a gun at the cub. Daniel was incensed at the apparent cruelty this person displayed and raised him gun. He fires just before the other did and the shot at the cub went wild. Daniel's shot didn't. He raced across the valley to where the man lay. There Daniel found the poacher. This man was a true poacher. He had devices that were cruel and there were animals, that it was obvious had been taken against the law. No real man would do this to animals. True Daniel trapped, but his way was humane and legal. He was glad that he had stopped this criminal.
Suddenly, he remembered the wolf cub. He left the poacher where he lay and headed back down the hill. He approached the cub slowly. He knew the animal was scared and dangerous. He leaned down and tried to get to the trap. The cub jerked back and growled, showing his teeth. Daniel knew this was never going to work. He took off his coat and suddenly threw it over the head of the wolf. Then he held it down, while freeing the trapped paw. Then, he let it back up and the cub let out a yelp and ran up and over the hill and was gone. Daniel looked up and saw something that chilled his blood. Along the top of the hill were more wolves, watching him. They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Daniel thought he was going to die. The alpha wolf howled and he and the other wolves turned and disappeared over the hill.
Daniel marveled at what had happened as he made his way back to his cabin. Why hadn't the wolves attacked him? He wish he knew. Maybe the fact that he had helped the cub and then let him go had caused them to act so. He didn't know. He went in, fixed supped and forgot about it. Alaska was a harsh place and the poacher would be taken care of by the nature that he was stealing from. Daniel just didn't know how harsh nature could really be. He had never experienced a blizzard in this country and was unprepared for what he was about to face.
Daniel, for the past few weeks, had been having to range farther and farther away from his cabin, to find any game. He couldn't even find so much as a rabbit for his pot. For some reason, the animals just weren't here anymore. Daniel trekked afield for what was to be his last time. He had to go miles from his cabin, before he saw signs of game. He carefully laid snares and small traps, trying to catch anything to eat. He was getting desperate, for it had been quite a while since his last meal and that skinny rabbit didn't have much meat on the bones. He wasn't out for fur this time. He was out for food and time was running out.
Daniel waited in a sheltered spot for as long as he could before checking the snares. The first couple were not tripped and there was signs that something had gotten to the catch in others before he could. He followed a trail away from his trap trying to catch up to the thief up ahead. There was a coyote up ahead on a frozen pond that had stopped to eat his rabbit. Daniel didn't even think about his rifle, he just ran out on the ice and tried to take the rabbit away. The coyote was too quick. Grabbing the rabbit, he ran for the other side of the pond and disappeared into the brush. As Daniel tried to follow, he crashed through the ice.
He was really in trouble now. He struggled but couldn't get a grip on the ice. He jammed the barrel of the rifle into the snow and ice and used this to pull himself back up onto the ice. He rested there for a minute and moved very carefully and slowly back to firm ground. As he got onto firm ground again, Daniel pondered his fate. He was miles from his cabin and its comparative safety. He was wet and it was getting colder. If he had more experience in the country, he would have recognized the signs of the forth coming blizzard. The temperature had dropped to below zero and the wind was rising. Snow was starting to spit as Daniel started for home.
He knew of no place that provided shelter from this thing, other than his cabin. He was so cold and was starting to stumble more and more. His energy was quickly running out, as was his time. He stumbled onward. Every time he fell, he didn't know if he could get up again. Something inside, just wouldn't seem to let him lie there. He broke into a clearing and fell for what seemed like the millionth time. This time, he couldn't get up. He even tried to use the rifle he still carried as a prop, but nothing helped. He lay there and prepared to die, as he drifter in and out of consciousness.
Daniel came to and realized that something was licking his face. He managed to life his head enough, that he saw a wolf. He was shocked. Were they looking for a meal like he was? Was he the meal? Well, if he was, there was nothing he could do. Maybe the end would be quick. He managed to get into a sitting position and saw the entire pack surrounding him. The ring of the pack opened and the Alpha male came through. He was dragging something with him. Daniel couldn't make out what it was or figure what was going to happen. The wolf approached him and brought the thing with him. It was a skin!
Daniel was too cold to think clearly and couldn't think of what would compel a wolf to do such a thing. Daniel could see that it was a wolf pelt. Where had the wolf got that? The Alpha trotted up to Daniel and dropped the skin in his lap. Then he grabbed Daniel's coat in his mouth and ripped it from Daniel. Daniel was shocked. What was it doing? Within a few seconds, Daniel's chest and shoulders were bare. He did the only thing he could. He took the skin and draped it over his shoulders and pulled it closed around him. At least it would provide some protection.
Daniel couldn't have know what would happen then. The wolves all moved to the edge of the clearing and sat down to wait. What were they waiting for? Daniel felt a heat where the skin covered him. He let go of the edges and it stayed in place. It was almost as if it was stuck there. He tried to grab the edge, but could no longer find it. As he searched, he noticed that the skin was farther down his arms that before and he began to panic. It was already down to his elbows and continuing onward. There was a sudden sharp pain in his rear and Daniel quickly struggled to his feet and struggled to get his pants off to see what was happening. He got them unfastened and dropped them to the ground as he looked back and saw his tail.
His tail!!!?? Yes, there was a tail back there that he found he could move. Daniel know knew what was happening. Some how the wolf skin was turning him into a wolf. By now most of his body was covered in fur. His fingers were getting shorter, as new claws formed at the end of his fingers. His ears changed and slid upward onto the top of his head. There was a burst of new information assaulting his brain as his nose changed. He could scent things like never before. His face pushed out into a muzzle and teeth grew from new gums. He could no longer stay up right. As he fell to his hands, they were paws instead. His back cramped and his legs completed their change into a new and more useful shape. His insides gurgled as the change finished.
The first thing Daniel realized, was that he was no longer cold. For the first time in days, he was comfortable. He stood there on four legs trembling. He looked back along now hairy flanks and took a tentative step forward. Walking on four legs was going to take some getting used to. The pack came forward and a young bitch mover forward to sniff him. He instinctively returned the gesture. The rest of the pack all took turns sniffing and licking Daniel. It was their way of welcoming him into the pack. After a few minutes, Daniel knew his pack mates better that he had ever known anyone else. The pack turned and ran form the clearing. Daniel followed. He marveled at the speed of which he was now capable. The young bitch that he had saved, now ran at his side.
The pack found shelter in a large thicket and waited out the storm. Within weeks Daniel had participated in a hunt and made his first kill. As he lay with the pack he thought about his former life. It seemed like do long ago. He now found that he wouldn't change it if he could. He hadn't been a very good trapper and figured that sooner or later the law would have found him. Now he had a family and no one could find him. He was safe. Spring was coming and Daniel thought he knew what would happen between the bitch that even now lay with him and he. It seems that a favor was repaid with a favor.
A Favor for a Favor copyright 1997 by Tekwolf.
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