The Call of the Wild

Chapter 8:

An Appearance of the Past

Disclaimer: I don't own rights to the book, The Call of the Wild, nor anything Jack London wrote.

Author's Note: Wow, I'm very glad that I found a place I can put this culminating assignment after doing a book report on The Call of the Wild! Anyway, this is an epilogue after Chapter 7 of the novel by Jack London, after Buck joins a wolf pack and leaves the memory of human civilisation behind. Those who read this will have to have read The Call of the Wild or they'll probably be lost. Enjoy!

Buck had experienced the best time of his life since he had joined the wolf pack. For the first time, he had unlimited freedom, a bond with the wild and his primordial family, a strong connection with his ancestors and a large gap away from the civilization of man. In the wolf pack, he was respected greatly. Since the pack's leader had been killed by hunters, Buck had become the new leader, demonstrating the leadership abilities and cunning skills he had for the wilderness. He lead his pack with strength, dignity and wit. Buck didn't think that his fellow wolves even knew he was once a domesticated dog. All they knew about him was that he was a mighty wolf, and a born leader.

In the day, they frolicked in the beautiful landscape around them and hunted their prey viciously. At night, they howled and enjoyed the dim light of the moon and stars. They knew that they had a place in their large world. The wilderness was all theirs, where they ruled and dominated over every living thing. This was where they belonged. This was their home.

Buck had almost forgotten that the like of man ever existed. They always made sure to stay far away from the Yeehat Indians, who feared Buck's howl, memory and appearance greatly. They still trembled at the memory of his attack on them. After very long periods of time, they heard or spotted an ignorant person looking for gold. Buck didn't know why they were there. As a wolf-dog, he knew nothing of the business of man or of the strange yellow metal they adored. All he knew was that they should better not trespass on his territory, or else.

Even if he had nothing to do with the human race, there were still those cold, quiet nights, where he remembered the times before he had become a soul of the wilderness. He could still feel the pain of the beatings the man in the red sweater gave him. He could still remember the feeling of intrigue of that howl he had heard, which brought him into the forest for the first time. He could still see the hairy man lurking by the fire. He could still feel the pain of exhaustion after sledding miles without end, and he could still remember the burden Mercedes had been. He could still feel Manuel's itchy rope strangling his neck, and the sudden loss of his beloved home, Judge Miller's estate. But the one pain that dug into his heart he most, was of when he saw his beloved John Thornton, lying dead in the snow, one of the victims of the savage Yeehat Indians. Those events were lost in time, and their only traces were in Buck's memory.

One afternoon during the beginning of spring in the Yukon Territory, Buck had spotted a large, bulky moose, mightier than any he had ever seen, or hunted. He felt a growl of hunger in his stomach. He knew that it was time for his gang of wolves to eat.

Buck stared at the gigantic creature through the bushes, with his primitive brothers and sisters behind him. Buck crawled as slowly and as quickly as he could, still watching the moose graze in absolute peace. Buck and his group crawled to the closest bush to the moose, as they waited in anticipation for the right moment to strike. The moose lifted his head, looking up at its surroundings. It would have suspected a predator lurking nearby if it wasn't for the peaceful landscape it seemed to be surrounded in. A few seconds after the moose had gone back to grazing, Buck and his pack jumped out of the bushes and struck the moose.

The large creature didn't even have a chance to react before Buck sank his sharp teeth into its side. A few seconds afterward, the whole entire pack leaped onto the creature and punctured its skin with their jaws. In a minute, the moose was dead and they all feasted on their newly-hunted prey. It was a great triumph for Buck. He was proud of himself that he had hunted such a large animal. The whole entire afternoon was spent devouring the moose. They licked their mouths in satisfaction. Every speck of meat that had been on the moose had been eaten.

Buck lied down lazily on the melting snow, until he heard a strange sound in the woods. It almost seemed familiar, although he couldn't identify the sound. After a moment, he was sure that the sound was from a human, or even a group of them. He wondered into the forest to investigate.

He sneaked into the forest to get a glimpse of what had made the sound. He looked around and around, pondering if he had heard anything at all or if it had just been his imagination. He almost gave up until he heard more noise. It sounded closer than before. It was the sound of a human's footsteps crunching onto the melting snow, as well as mud and branches. He scurried to where the noise was coming from, following the sound of human footsteps.

In the distance, he spotted a large group of humans, looking quite ignorant in Buck's opinion. He ran to the group of humans and leaped in front of them, scaring all of them stiff. What were they doing here? he thought, as he growled at them with his fangs showing. There was a lot of them: a middle-aged man and woman, some younger men and women and 2 male children. He felt a bit of sympathy for them. They didn't seem to have any experience of the wilderness in the least bit. He wouldn't harm them after all. He would just let them know they should stay away.

He looked into the middle-aged man's eyes and growled. The man looked almost familiar, as if he knew him from a long time ago. He backed away, not knowing if the humans might attack. He tried to remember who they were, but he couldn't.

"Dad, what's happening?" asked one of the male children.

"Don't worry, son," said the middle-aged man. "Everything will be all right."

"Honey, I think we should go," suggested the woman, who was clinging onto the man's shoulder. "I think the wolf is telling us we should leave."

"It looks a bit like a dog," said the second boy, studying Buck from afar. "It looks familiar."

"Don't be silly, Tommy," said the woman. "Why would a wolf, or a dog, be familiar to you?"

Tommy looked at Buck with his eyes squinting. He looked deep into Buck's eyes. It was as if Tommy was looking right through Buck. At that moment, all the power Buck possessed had vanished. He was no longer something to be feared. He became vulnerable. Buck stepped back in fear.

"Even if you did see him before, how could he show up here in the Yukon?" asked Billy.

Tommy looked at Buck even more, and suddenly his eyes became wide open. Tommy finally recognized him.

"Buck!" he shouted. "It's Buck!"

"What are you talking about Tommy?" questioned Billy. "Buck has been gone for almost a year."

"Billy's right," said the man. "We've tried looking for him. He's gone, let's face it!"

"It is Buck, Dad! I'll prove it. Come here, Buck!" called Tommy, leaning on his knees and opening his arms. "Come here! It's me, Tommy!"

A sudden rush came to Buck's memory. The call from the little boy triggered a flashback. Buck knew who these humans were. They were Judge Miller and his family! All of Buck's ancestral instincts and pride vanished in less than a second as Buck leaped into Tommy's arms uncontrollably.

"See? It is Buck! Oh, Buck!"

"My goodness," said the woman, holding onto her husband as if she was going to faint. "It's Buck!"

"Buck, we've found you!" cried Billy, tears forming in his eyes.

"It's a miracle!" said Judge Miller.

They all crowded around Buck and hugged him with an abundance of affection. Buck felt warm inside, and he felt as if a large part of him that was once lost had come back.

"Judge Miller?" asked a young woman in the background, who was a stranger to Buck. "I suggest we go back to camp."

"Wonderful idea, Suzanne," said Judge Miller. "Come on, Lucy, Tommy, Billy and Buck! Let's go to camp."

They all walked away, with Buck trailing at the back. He looked behind him. His pack was still out there. He was their leader. Would he abandon them? He looked back at his human family. Would he go with them? He thought to himself and wondered if he should go find his pack or follow Judge Miller's family. He decided he would go with his long-lost family for the time being. He hadn't seen them in so long, and they made him feel warm inside. Buck would just be gone for a short while, and then he would return to his pack.

He rushed to Judge Miller's family and caught up. Tommy rubbed Buck's head appraisingly, which Buck enjoyed. They trotted off across the forest and through a flat plain of territory all the way to a set-up camp with 5 large tents. Buck saw strange man-made objects which he hadn't seen since he had lived at the estate. One of Judge Miller's associates started a camp fire. Buck sat between Tommy and Billy by the fire as both boys rubbed and caressed him. Buck didn't know why he hadn't missed the human race so much.

Buck laid on his back while Billy scratched Buck's stomach affectionately. Once Billy had a good look at Buck's stomach, he stopped. Buck noticed Billy had stopped rubbing him and got up. Why had Billy stopped scratching him?

"Mom! Dad! Tommy! Come here! Look at all the wounds Buck has!"

The family rushed to Buck's side and examined his fur. They gasped and pointed at all the wounds Buck possessed from all the horrible experiences he had. Buck did not know what the commotion was all about. He growled in frustration and annoyance.

"My goodness, Lucy!" said Judge Miller, examining a large wound on Buck's neck. "Look at that wound there!"

"They've healed all right," said Lucy, "but the wounds have left a lot of nasty scars. Maybe we should put some alcohol on them."

"Great idea, honey! Tommy, go get the alcohol in the first-aid kit."

Tommy rushed into the tent and came back with a large bottle of transparent liquid. Buck did not know what was happening and became a bit frightened to find out what was going to happen.

Judge Miller's wife poured some of the strange liquid onto a small towel and rubbed it onto Buck's wounds. A large howl came out of Buck, as he throbbed in pain from the burning liquid. He struggled to get free so he could run away, but the Millers held him down. He howled in extreme pain as the Millers tried to calm him. The moment of pain passed quickly. Judge Miler picked up Buck and laid him on his lap, stroking his back.

"I guess this trip to the Yukon was better than I thought it would be," said Judge Miller. "Who knew that while we were here we'd get our Buck back!"

Buck stayed with the Miller family for a week. During that time he lived a life of pampering, comfort and dignity. Buck was always stroked affectionately and was loved and cared for dearly. He always played with Tommy and Billy. He made sure that he was always by Judge Miller's side when his master went hunting. He was given the most delicious of dog foods. Buck savoured every morsel of the tasty treats. The times he loved the most were in the evening when everyone sat by the fire and Buck was praised greatly. They spoke of how good Buck was, how much they missed him, and so forth.

It turned out that a few days after they noticed Buck was missing, they had found out it was Manuel who had taken him away. Manuel was fired instantly. For 6 months, they had tried to find Buck. They had put up "MISSING DOG" signs everywhere, hoping someone would bring their beloved dog back to them.

Buck cherished every minute he spent with Judge Miller's family. Unfortunately, after a week had passed by Buck had become bored of his long-lost family. He was pampered so much that he didn't feel the triumph of independence anymore. He was caressed and worshipped so much that he had become used to it and its warmth became dull. Buck had been spoiled by them, and he wasn't too fond of it either. The instincts of his ancestors had faded away. He was no longer a soul of the mighty wilderness. He was just a domesticated pet with no predator instincts stirring in him.

It was the night after he had spent a week at the camp when it had seemed that the forest was luring him into its depths, but Buck dared not go. He couldn't leave the beloved Millers. It was that single, lonesome, loud howl which triggered Buck to go into the forest. It seemed like déjà-vu. It seemed similar to the time when he had heard that howl which brought him into the forest for the first time.

He dashed into the depths of the wild woods, as if he was magnetically drawn to it. He searched for the wolf that had made the howl. After a few minutes, Buck had found the wolf. The grey wolf howled at the moon repetitively until he saw Buck. Buck noticed that behind the wolf was a wolf pack, his pack! He had forgotten all about his wolf family. What kind of a pack-leader was he?

Once all of the wolves identified who he was, they rushed to his side and licked him affectionately. Buck could tell that they had missed him greatly. It was a good thing they hadn't chosen a new leader. Buck was glad to be with his wolf pack once again.

But something felt a bit different to Buck about the pack. He could sense that they felt a bit strange being with him after being separated from Buck for a week, although it felt more like a month. They could sense that he had been around humans. He was all clean, his scars had healed quickly, he smelled of the sweet dog treats and dog chow made by the human race and his fierce predator instincts didn't show as much. Buck knew that he seemed a bit different. Would they accept his small difference?

The wolf pack nudged him to the left. A wild deer was grazing in the forest in that direction. The pack wanted Buck to help them hunt the animal. Buck was thrilled to prey once again.

Buck and his pack sneaked up on the deer with absolute silence and pounced on it. They had a delicious feast, all thanks to their ferocious leader. Buck was again proud of himself for what he had accomplished. His killer instincts were still intact.

They explored the territory around them, knowing that they, as the mighty wolf pack, owned the territory. The wolves ran through the muddy hills and frolicked in the moon's glow. They howled up at the sky in sheer delight while they were reunited with their wonderful leader.

Buck spent two glorious and playful days and nights with his pack. This re-domesticated dog turned back into the savage that his ancestors had been. Independence and self-confidence was his for the taking and would always be his until death.

"Buck! Buck! Are you there?"

It was Judge Miller and his family calling him. The wolf pack sensed that Buck knew them. They fled to another area not too far away so that their wild leader could be with the humans that he knew. Buck wished his fellow wolves could have stayed with him.

Buck approached the Millers and licked the Judge's hand. The family caressed him as usual and took him back to camp. Buck was comforted and pampered once again which tired him immensely. He wasn't fond of the camp anymore. He wanted to be with his pack, as a good head-wolf should.

Buck did have a good time with the Millers though. He savoured every bit of affection he received. Buck was their hero, one who had been taken away from them a year ago. Now they were reunited with their loving pet and rejoiced. But was this life better than his life with the wolves?

Buck thought deeply about which family he should stay with. Would he stay with the Millers and live a life of dignity and comfort, or would he stay with is wolf pack and live a life of wilderness and leadership? Buck could tell that the Millers were ready to go back to California. Buck saw them packing their things and taking last looks around. Buck had to make his decision quickly.

He tossed and turned all night as the humans were asleep. He thought of all that had happened during the year: Manuel's kidnapping, the beating from the man in the red sweater, sledding with Perrault and Francois, the ignorance of Hal, Charles and Mercedes, and the love of his late but beloved master, John Thornton. He could not decide at all which one of his beloved families he should live with. How could he abandon any of them? He wished the answer could come to him soon.

At midnight when he was at the peak of his frustration, he heard the grey wolf's howl once again. His soul was urging him to go into the forest, just like before. At that moment, he knew what his choice would be. He knew who he would spend the rest of his life with.

He was going to go back into the wild. He knew where he belonged. His ancestors were born and raised in the wild. Buck was changed. He was no longer the dignified house pet in California. He was a wild thing, a free spirit who dominated the primitive territory of the Northland. He was meant to live in the wild.

Buck licked each family member's face as a sign of "goodbye" and dashed to his primitive family. He would always miss his first family, no matter what life he chose. In the morning, the Millers woke up and noticed that Buck was missing. They grieved for their loss, and had to face the fact that their cherished pet was no longer in their possession. They left the Yukon for California, never going back, and never seeing Buck again.

Buck had gone back to his wolf pack and knew that he had made the right choice. He lived his life with his wild canine family, but now he lived in assurance that the wolf pack was his true family. He was the leader of the pack until the moment he died. No wolf would threaten his power or rank. He owned the land with body and soul. This wasn't the kind of reign he had at the estate. He was born a leader: head of the dog pack, head of the Northland and head above all living things. He did not bear to return to human-kind. He knew for sure that the wilderness was living in him. No matter who Buck was with, what Buck was doing or how Buck lived, he would always answer and live out the true nature of the call of the wild.

The End

Author's Note: Please read and review!!! I hope you enjoyed the fanfiction, and for those who haven't read The Call of the Wild, I recommend it - it's a really interesting novel!