I had spent nearly all afternoon out in the woods, writing and drawing and running. It was getting to be around 5 or so when I decided to head back. I needed to pick up Minnie, head back to our quarters and get her fed by 7-7:30, so she could be in bed after a bath by 8-8:30. I was only 16, but I had been taking care of myself for a long time, and I liked Minnie. If I could have a little girl, I would wish for one just like her.
I was kind of surprised when the Alpha asked me to take care of her, but I knew he always had a reason, so I had agreed. She was 3 then, that was 2 years ago. I had only been an orphan for a little over a year, then, and was having a very hard time. I wondered why she didn’t go to the orphanage like others, but you can’t refuse the Alpha and he had always been good to me.
Of course, Minnie and I had bonded quickly. She had just lost her parents, so I understood her pain and having each other gave us something to look forward to; a way for us to move forward and on with our lives. The Alpha knew exactly what he had been doing, one of the reasons I and others adored him. A wise man who knew how to help two broken children to heal. And now we both were blossoming.
Funny enough, many people thought I was much older and that Minnie was actually my daughter. Well, we thought it was funny, but we quit correcting them a while back. Physically, she looks enough like me to pass for my child: long, dark brown hair, heart-shaped face with the widow’s peak, high cheekbones, well-tanned skin and short for her age. The biggest difference was her eyes. They were a sapphire blue and rounded,, while mine were chocolate brown with a thick black ring around them. Still, we looked close enough to pass off as mother and daughter.
I was, sort of. I handled everything with the school and daycare, signed all the papers, listed as her guardian legally (the Alpha had something to do with that), and was responsible for any issue she might cause, such as property damage or anything of that sort. The medical was taken care of by the pack doctor and the school was provided by the pack, so I only had to pay for things like food and clothes.
I did have the house belonging to my parents and enough money from insurance, retirement accounts and so on that I would never need to worry about money again. I had even graduated high school last winter, more than 2 years ahead of my class, giving me more time to focus on Minnie and our future. She had school, then daycare until until I picked her up before 6, during which I was usually focused on housework and my online college classes. Eventually I would have a degree in something, I wasn’t quite sure yet what I wanted to focus on, so I was currently taking some general classes that struck me as interesting.
I was about 3 miles away when a feeling of dread swept over me. I could feel my breathing quicken as my senses screamed that something was wrong. Then the pain began to hit me. It felt like my body was being ripped apart. Then I felt connections to my pack being severed.
Oh, dear Goddess no....
The smell of burning wood and brick drifted to my senses and my heart constricted as well as my throat. Something big was burning. My first thoughts went to my priority.
I didn’t even realize I had begun to run until I felt the wind whipping my hair behind me. I was already a very fast runner, but my adrenaline was pumping as I rushed toward our neighborhood. My wolf was every bit as panicked as I was. She helped speed us along in desperation.
A mile away, I began to hear the screams and shrieks of terror and agony. I pushed myself harder, willing my legs to go faster and faster. I was running as if my life depended on it. Uwodohi (pronounced oo-wa-doo-he) pushed us harder, her panicked thoughts on our child.
Please, Minnie, please...
Suddenly the treeline broke and my worst fears lay ahead of me. I stopped as I stared in shock at the sight before me, tears pricking my eyes.
Most of the neighborhood was on fire or smoldering. Many had missing doors or shattered windows. Blood was everywhere. I could hear the crackling of the fires and I shuddered at the stench of death. I reached out but I could feel no one. It was all to familiar to me and it was a foul and rotten smell. A hollow feeling filled me, spreading out to encompass me. As I came closer, I saw what I soon realized were bodies littered about the place. Men, women, teenagers.... then I saw a body too small to be anything other than a child. My panic rose and I ran faster and faster to the building she would have been in: the daycare. My heart sank when I reached it and I gasped.
The door had been ripped off it’s hinges. I saw a woman’s body just past the entry. Her face was toward me, but then I realized so was her back. It was one of the daycare workers. My mind reeled in horror as the reality sunk in, but I desperately did not want it to be true. My heart was full of dread as I rushed in, hoping against all hope that I was wrong.
I screamed, running through the halls, checking every room. More bodies and blood were spread throughout. Gore and bone fragments seemed strewn everywhere. It was worse than a horror movie, surreal in it’s own terrifying way.
“Minnie, please honey.. I’m here baby, please be ok... please be ok...,” I chanted, my voice sounding desperate even to my ears.
My world ended when I entered a storeroom and I saw blood on the purple dress I had dressed her in that morning. Her little white socks were soaked in blood. Her head was turned to one side and she lay there still, unmoving.
“NOOOOO!” I shrieked, hurling myself to Minnie, scooping her up to my chest and holding her tightly. I started checking her for a pulse on her neck but stopped when I saw the slash across her throat. It was too deep. Still, part of me could not accept this. She can’t die, I need her!
I shook her, trying to hold her head up and pat her cold cheek. I tried rubbing her arms and pinching her cheeks.
“Minnie, come on, honey. Wake up. We’ll get you to the doc, honey but please just wake up. Minnie please...,” I began shaking her harder. “Minnie! Minnie wake up! Minnie, please don’t leave me...,” I begged and begged, as I cradled her body to me and sobbed wretchedly, rocking us back and forth. I felt so empty, so alone. My heart was shattered as I held desperately to my joy, my world, my baby. Uwodohi howled in despair and loneliness. I felt as if I couldn’t breath as I cried and sobbed my heart out.
At some point I felt the presence of someone near me and I lifted my head to see what it was. I looked up to see a pair of piercing green eyes studying me intently.. I couldn’t speak around the knot in my throat, instead I just held her tighter. He whispered something I couldn’t make out. My ears were ringing and my thoughts were pushed aside by the overwhelming sadness I felt.
“Even with your eyes glassy and red, your face stained with tears of grief - you are still utterly breathtaking,” he whispered in a tone of wonder as he continued to study me intensely.
Tears continued to stream from my eyes as I sat there, staring blanklyat him. I wasn’t comprehending what was happening completely. I simply whimpered, brushing Minnie’s hair back from her face. My baby was dead. My little girl was gone. I’d never see her smile again. My heart exploded in pain and a tortured, moanful wail ripped from my throat.
I sucked in a sharp breath and again looked at those green eyes. Now they glistened as he shook his head. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
I could only stare at him as he turned and walked away. I pulled Minnie to me again and my sobbing resumed as I rocked back and forth on the floor in Minnie’s drying blood.
The attack went according to plan. They resisted with everything they had, but we had won. It was sad, really. A huge waste of lives, I thought, looking at the massive casualties. I flinched when I realized some of the dead were only children. They weren’t supposed to be here at the time.
I walked down the streets, searching for any stray wounded when I heard the sound of a woman sobbing. Not knowing the situation, I stole quietly toward the sound, finding myself in what appeared to be a daycare. I was enraged. Dammit!
I quietly stepped up to the doorway and I could see a woman with dark, untamed curly hair with a small girl in her arms. The child looked to be about 4 or 5 and was clearly dead. The woman seemed to be pleading for the child to wake up, her voice filled with desperation. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and I slowly walked closer, stopping a few feet away.
The woman was so grief-stricken, it took her a few minutes to realize I was there. She looked up at me as a waterfall ran down her cheeks and I saw her beautiful brown eyes and full lips, the bottom one trembling as she briefly stopped sobbing. I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. Even in grief she was stunning. I wanted to reach out and wipe her tears away.
“Even with your eyes glassy and red, your face stained with tears of grief - you are still utterly breathtaking,” I whispered in amazement. How could a woman so heartbroken still look so utterly appealing? I hated the look in her eyes. I found myself wanting to change that. I realized I wanted nothing more than to see her smile.
It seemed, however, she was too pained to speak. Her dark eyes were dull and empty. The life had gone. She simply stared at me, barely aware of my existence. Then she focused back on the little girl, brushing her hair back from her face with so much tenderness I felt a pain in my chest. Suddenly, the air filled with a tortured scream full of primal pain. I closed my eyes a moment, her pain having become palpable. I felt my throat constrict.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered. I turned and walked away, finding myself wanting to do the exact opposite. I felt a pang of regret, I believe it was. It was something I was unaccustoned to. I wondered about the small woman. Who she was, who the child was, what would make her smile...
I shook my head, chastising myself for the thoughts.
‘Go back,’ Nix whined.
‘Why,’ I asked. ′I let her live, is that not good enough?′
Nix growled at me. ′I... something is different,′ he said with hesitation.
‘That’s just too bad. She’s not our mate and we have things to do,’ I snapped and closed him off.
I felt anger rising within my and blamed it on the deaths of children. Mostly, the little girl the woman clung to desperately. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I was going to punish those who hurt the children, I resolved. I may not be a nice guy, but even I have my limits. My wolf was none too pleased either.
I was soon outside, looking at the destruction around me, my hands clenching and unclenching in an attempt to calm down my wolf and I. When two of my men rushed to go into the building, I stopped them.
“No, leave her,” I commanded harshly. “I want to know everyone involved in killing these children. I have made it clear we leave them alone!”
“Yes, Alpha,” both men responding as they bowed their heads.
A truly cold man might slaughter everyone, but he was no moster. The young can be taken and assimilated in the pack. Later, they become the new warriors, growing and replentishing their forces. Rightfully, he should take the woman with them, but something told him not to. Not yet, the thought came. I wondered about the thought before I gave one last look at the daycare.
Don’t worry, little one. I will see you again some day. I promise you this.
I turned to walk back to the center of the town where most of the action had taken place. I looked around at the corpses and smiled.
“Well done,” I began.