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Lily Montgomery

Period 4
Wolves
Theres a howl to my right.
I whip my head around.
I see a flash of black fur.
I look back at Chloe, her face is pale. Our eyes are drawn to the shore.
There stands a huge black wolf looking down at us. I could touch it with my
paddle. It could reach us with one leap.
We freeze.
The only sound is the water lapping at the shore and the black flies buzzing in my
ears. Out of the corner of my eye, I see one land on my hand. I feel the pinch as it bites
into my skin. My eyes water but I dont move to kill the bug. I stare into the eyes of the
wolf.
I dont know what I see. Theres something in those dark eyes and I cant tell if
its aggressive or gentle. Then I see its teeth.
Im barely breathing, scared that any motion will cause it to attack.
The current is pulling us downstream to a small turn.
Chloe gently slips her paddle in the water, keeping her eyes on the wolf. She
almost looks apologetic, as if begging it not to punish her for moving. She leans back,
pushing the paddle away from her to keep us on course around the turn.
The wolf follows us.
I let out a small gasp as I see another one coming out from behind a tree.
But its not looking at us; its eyes are focused on something on the opposite shore.
Slowly, my head turns the other way, for a moment losing sight of the two wolves.

There, on the other side of the river, no more than five feet away from us, is
another wolf. Three more appear behind it, their huge dark forms moving slowly toward
us. Were surrounded.
Itsa pack, murmurs Chloe, as quietly as possible.
The wolves stand still.
I look at Chloe. She looks at me. Then at the wolf.
She dips her paddle in the water and slowly does a forward stroke, twisting it out
into a J. I pick up my paddle and look at her, gesturing towards the water. She nods.
I slip my paddle into the water, pulling back as slowly and calmly as possible.
The wolves still aren't moving.
We begin to paddle faster. The current pulls us with it.
The wolves howl and run along the river with us.
--------------------I hear a howl in the distance.
It's been five days now. The wolves follow us all day every day. On portages we
can hear them howl through the trees. We've mostly been in the Cherry River but even on
the lakes that split up the river, their voices echo from one shore to another.
At the campsite every night we see flashes of fur through the trees. We don't take
our food too far back because we don't want to get too close to the wolves.
We hear their howls all night as we sleep.

It's scary. I didn't even want to go on this camping trip at first but Chloe made me.
She said it would be fun. Now we shake and whimper in fear together. I cant wait for
this trip to be over, what have I gotten myself into?
Its raining now. Im cold.
I miss my soft, dry bed at home. Therere no mosquitoes there.
I bury into my sleeping bag, but the nylon feels cold, its not soft like my
comforter at home.
Theres a rock under the tent, digging into my back. I roll over and a sharp pain
rushes through my knee as it lands on a stick. I squirm. Theres no way to be comfortable.
But Im tired, so I find a way to sleep.
--------------------I wake to a howl.
I shoot up straight.
I cant see anything.
Its completely black.
I move my hands everywhere, searching for my headlamp.
Chloe, CHLOE! I hiss.
Shut uuup! she yells at me as I climb over her, going through her stuff.
I feel the cold circle in my hand. I pull out the headlamp and FLASH everythings
white and then I see the tent walls.
Chloes awake now, Stooop! Theres nothing you can do. They arent going
away. Go to sleep. She falls back to the ground, snoring.

I sit in the dark, shaking. I miss my parents. I miss my sister. I dont want to die in
the woods.
--------------------A howl echoes behind us.
Were finally getting to the end of the river. Chloe thinks we might lose them
when we get to Lac de Loup, which is funny because its name means Wolf Lake in
English. The lake is huge, though, so hopefully the wolves will want to stay closer to the
river.
But between us and Lac de Loup are rapids, 30K of rapids and bushwhacks.
Rapids mean dumping, bushwhacks mean spider webs and horse flies.
The first set of rapids is just swifts, we shoot them easily. But the wolves are
always there.
We almost dump in the second set because as Im drawing away from a huge log,
I see flashes of black fur in the woods. The canoe scrapes over the end of the log.
Rapids are fun, but one mistake and we could wrap our canoe.
The next set of rapids ends in a huge waterfall, a portage is marked on the map
but bushwhacking isnt an option for the first half.
With wolves on either side, we paddle into the first V.
I furiously plunge my paddle into the water, drag it towards me, pull it out, thrust
it through the air, and bring it into the water again.
Plunge.
Drag.
Pull.

Thrust.
Bring.
Plunge. Drag. Pull. Thrust. Bring..
Plungedragpullthrustbring.
The motions melt together and my arms are flying but I dont know what theyre
doing.
I look up towards the water.
Theres a rock.
A huge rock.
I throw myself to the very front of the canoe, reach my paddle to the right and pull
through the water as hard as I can. Whirlpools swirl on either side of my paddle, getting
bigger and bigger.
The bow slips by the rock. Chhhhhhh. The middle grazes the rock.
I let out a sigh of relief and sit back on my heels.
Theres a howl. I whirl to the right as we fly by the portage sign.
Chloe screams. That was for the WATERFALL!
We missed it. We missed the portage.
I hear thunder ahead. The thunder of millions of drops of water flying over a cliff.
The current picks up.
The wolves are actually howling now. They run after us and moan.
We turn a corner and I see 50 feet of water, then nothing.
Our screams ring out in harmony.
I sit tall. Close my eyes. Brace myself.

The canoe halts. I almost fly out.


Were stuck on a rock just before the edge.
Just before the edge.
I turn to look at Chloe but my eyes stop at the trees. There they are. The wolves,
All of them. They stand there, watching us. I wonder if they know that were about to die.
--------------------The wolves look at each other, its seems like theyre having some type of
conversation amongst themselves.
But Chloe and I arent paying attention to the wolves. I stare in front of me. There
are ten feet of rushing water, and thenthennothing. I feel like Im at the edge of the
world.
Chloes lips move but I cant hear what shes saying, the water is pounding in my
ears.
Millions of droplets going off a cliff.
Millions of droplets landing tens of twenties of feet below us.
These tiny droplets create a monstrous noise, a thunder, the pounding of their
impact.
I scan the water and the shore, theres nowhere to go.
My eyes return to the six black forms lining the river.
The largest wolf looks directly at me and takes a step toward the water. It leans
back and suddenly its in the air.
I hear my scream before I realize it left my mouth.

The wolf lands on a tiny rock I hadnt noticed before. Its still looking at me. One
more leap and it would be on our rock.
The wolf shifts its weight. Chloe shrinks into a small ball at the bottom of the
canoe. Im frozen, staring at the wolf.
I watch it. I see it rise into the air, its feet slowly lifting off the ground.
My eyes trace the line of black fur as it crosses the sky, getting closer and closer
to me.
I shake out of my daze when I see the wolf is about to land on me.
I squeeze my eyes shut.
But I dont die.
When I reopen my eyes there is a mass of black fur in front of me, on the rock.
The other wolves begin to follow, finding rocks I didnt see before, ones just
below the surface.
I hear a chhhhhh as our canoe begins to slide off the rock. I cant move.
The first wolf pushes his nose into the canoe, and we slowly move backwards.
I think Im screaming but I cant tell. Chloe is still scrunched up on the floor of
the canoe.
The current catches the stern. It begins to fly out.
I am screaming.
Suddenly, the canoe stops, the current no longer has us.
I whirl around. Behind Chloe is another huge wolf. Its paw is on the stern deck,
holding us in place.
The two wolves push and push, straining to turn us toward the shore.

My hands are numb. Im still frozen in fear. But I pick up my paddle and drop it
in the water. Drawing towards the shore.
CHLOE! I shriek. HELP!
Her head slowly tilts up but her eyes are still squeezed shut.
CHLOE!
They flicker open. Her jaw drops.
DRAW ON THE LEFT!
Her paddle falls into the water with a splash. She slowly pulls the stern in the
other direction, turning us towards the shore.
We reach another pair of wolves. Their noses and paws thud onto the gunnels. I
hear their panting, feel their breath, but Im too focused on surviving that I ignore my fear
of them.
The wolves hold us against the current, keeping us from flying off the edge, into
the nothingness below.
By the time we reach the last two wolves, we are bouleing it towards the shore.
We each paddle five hard stokes and then SWITCH!
I cant feel my arms.
The current pushes hard against the wolves and our canoe rocks dangerously. If
we dump, its all over.
Chloe and I are on our knees, anything to keep the boat more stable.
Chhhhh.
Were stuck again.

Just as a scream comes flying through my throat I look up. Were five feet from
the shore, stuck in shallow water.
I choke on my scream and tears of relief pour down my face.
I look back, Chloes crying too.
We get out in one motion, and push the canoe to the shore.
I look back to the wolves, all six of them, standing still on those rocks, so close to
the edge.
Then I look at Chloe, her tears falling into her lap. She looks at me; I see
something in her face Ive never seen before. We stare at each other, and for a moment
its just us, the wolves, and the horrifying sound of the water crashing below.
Ill never forget that moment.
Then her eyes move and I see her actually look at the wolves for the first time,
wonder and gratitude on her face.
I turn back to the waterfall and the six large bodies, just feet from the drop. Im
not scared of them anymore. As my heartbeat slows, I feel better, almost happy. I know
Ill never regret going on this trip.
Chloe has grabbed the pack and paddles now, and is beginning to head up through
the bushes.
I pull the canoe pack out of the stern and shrug it on. Then I reach down, place my
hands on the thwart, and one, two, three! I thrust the canoe over my head and it thuds on
my shoulders.

I slowly rotate the canoe around and look one last time at the first wolf, I imagine
its the one I saw that day. I look into its eyes again. I know theyre gentle now. I think I
see a smile. It definitely nods its head.
I nod my most sincere thank you and turn back to the bushes. I push forward, into
the woods.

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