THE CROW: Call of the Wild

By Cyberwolf10

"People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring the soul back to put the wrong things right."

People have believed this legend for thousands of years, even when men rode tall through ghost towns with no names on horseback and went by names such as Billy the Kid and Jessie James.

The year is 1885; the steam locomotive has been around for about eighty years and has been in commercial use in the US for about fifty years now. The Trans-Canada continental railway was completed earlier this year running from Montréal in the east to Port Moody, British Columbia, in the west. The white man has, for the most part, driven America's natives from lands rightfully theirs and forced them to live in scattered, nomadic settlements about the land.

About seven kilometers west of a small town named Little Hope live such a settlement. Just a handful of families reside in this settlement and that is all, not even enough for a full tribe. But only one is important to this tale however, he is a shaman or medicine man in training and is said to have strong spiritual connections with nature, which allows his to make healing salves and medicines for his tribe.

This miniature tribe believes that each person is their own individual and so has the right to re-name themselves when they become an adult at the age of thirteen, this shaman's name is Black Feather and he is now sixteen. When he became Black Feather, his father, the shaman at that time, gave him an injured wolf cub to look after until it was strong enough to fend for itself and return to the wild. It took only a short time for the wolf's strength to return and so Black Feather released it into the forests that he loved so much. Before he did this, he tied a single raven's feather into the wolf's fur, so that Black Feather could recognize his wolf companion again should they again meet; he named the wolf cub Mahican.

But several years have passed since that time and the shaman Black Feather still goes out into the forests to try and find the cub he once helped. He travels many miles through the bushes and trees, passing lakes filled with clear waters and many fish. He stops in a clearing next to the lake and sets up camp. Here he will stay for a week of meditation and waiting.

Meanwhile…on the other side of the forest is a crude dust trail that can both lead to Little Hope or towards distant snow-tipped mountains in the North. Rambling along this musty path is the wolf Black Feather calls Mahican, his mate and their cubs. Mahican feels on this day an unusual urge to visit the forestry. Not out of a need for hunting or marking new territory, but out of instinct. It was as if something called to him from those woods. Indeed, it was very rare for the male wolf to be active during the daylight hours much less feel the need to wake his entire litter.

Unbeknownst to either Black Feather or Mahican, something was stirring back in Little Hope. The owner of the local general store is having a drink to celebrate his latest sale. He had just sold ten guns to five gullible business types from Boston. They had said to him, "We've come to this area to do a spot of hunting, stag mainly, what guns will we need?" The owner of the store smiled in a calculated way and sold the men five rifles, five pistols and double the ammo any man would need at nearly double the prices. Today's been a mighty fine day, he thought. As the strangers walked out with their new firearms, the proprietor of the store called after them, "Don't forget to tell your city friends about Mr. Poe's general store now, ya hear?"

Later that day, the five city boys armed their guns like professionals. They had done this before. One of the men, the largest of the group in both build and height spoke in a harsh almost whispered voice, "Ya know, I hate having to go through that dumb hoax every time we need guns. But it's the only way I know of to get clean guns anymore. Don't want to have the law tracing us by our guns again." "Never gonna happen boss, that shop-keep will sing our praises before suspecting us of being poachers." says a snake-like individual. "Come on boys," says the large man again, "let's enjoy ourselves a bit before we go 'hunting'."

Mahican's little pack consists of himself and his mate and three pups, two male and one female. One of the pups slows to a stop and sits for a while before it begins to whine; it is not used to walking so much and the experience has become painful for the young wolf. The adult female turns and caresses herself against the young wolf, reassuring her offspring, then licks the pup and barks at the male. A few birds become startled and fly away, all except a stately raven in a near tree, it seems intrigued by the wolves and its eyes widen at the sight of the single crow's feather tied into the male's hair. The raven caws at the wolf and he turns to the tired pup and picks it up gently by the scruff of the neck with his mouth. The male will burden with the weight of the pup until another of his pack tires and then they will rest. The female caresses against the male in a sign of affection. If she could talk, she would say 'I love you' to Mahican, but he will have to settle for the look in her eyes. The crow spreads his wings and judges the wolf pack before taking flight.

Back in Little Hope, the five poachers are enjoying the local hospitality in the form of a tavern. The large man returns from the bar with a bottle of whiskey gripped in his vast hand. "Where the hell's Viper?" The big man's name is Ox, an alias that conveys his huge frame. "I asked where's Viper got to?" Ox asks the man next to him. The guy with long blonde hair is named Coyote; he rises his head and stares directly at Ox, his eyes pierce sharper and deeper than any blade. He lifts his head so that Ox can see the scars across his neck. "Jesus Coyote, I thought you was just being quiet. What the hell's happened to you?" Bison, the bald man next to Coyote speaks for him, "See that scar? He got that trying to steal a bald eagle's egg back in winter. Wanted to breed the fucking thing to be a hunting bird, haw haw!" "Wow, a bald eagle, they're getting to be rare these days." "Practically extinct", says the up until now quiet Snake, sipping from his warm shot glass of gut-rot whiskey. "So how did he get the scar?" Asks Ox bluntly. "Well", says Bison, "Coyote here is scaling this cliff to get to the nest, right? Well he only bloody slips and falls down nearly twenty foot of jagged rocks. Bastard's lucky to be alive, if'n I hadn't have been right there to give him medical aid, well, he wouldn't be here today that's for sure." "Yeah? That's unfortunate...but that still don't answer the question of where Viper is!" "Oh he'll be down just as soon he's just paying the waitress for her services, heh heh heh." "Yeah, paying her 'in kind!'"

Back in the forests Black Feather is gathering some deadwood in preparation for the cold night ahead as a huge raven lands on one of the logs he has collected, it perches there and watches him with interest. "Hello little friend", Black Feather greets the raven with a smile and sits down beside it, feeding it with the scraps of dinner he has leftover from an earlier meal.

Mahican paws closer towards the forest that is calling out to him. He stops for a minute and hears the distant but distinctive noise of a rifle being fired. It is the sound of approaching death. The pack reacts as one and runs for the relative safety of the forests, which are still awhile away but are nevertheless the pack's only hope of hiding. The five 'city boys' ride on horseback along the old dust path towards the forests and the pack of wolves, although they don't know it yet. The wolves try to outrun the approaching fear, the approaching horses, the approaching humans and especially the approaching guns. "Did Coyote really have to shoot that Indian?" asks Ox in his gruff voice. "Coyote doesn't buy nothing from a damn red skin" replies Bison. "You've had too much too drink Coyote," Ox grabs the half-empty bottle of whiskey from Coyote and takes a long, dry swig. "It's my turn to drink now."

In the forest, the raven calls out with a caw that is both shrill and coarse and then takes flight, the busy Black Feather looks up from the wood carving he is doing, it is a likeness of the departed raven.

The five poachers ride fast towards the forest, each one digging his spurs into his horse's sides. Viper's horse's side is bleeding, but he either doesn't notice or more to the truth doesn't care. He looks at his gun again and thinks of the waitress girl back at the bar. Poor little bitch, but he couldn't be paying for every slut he fucked, and that's why he had to put a bullet in her. Viper takes another pull of sweetly sour alcohol and feels it rot his guts all the way down to the crap his soul is made of. He drops the bottle and stares off into the distance and sees Mahican's pack off in the distance. "Hey…up there," he shouts to the others, "timber wolves, let's shoot the bastards, they're always eating my chickens." "You don't own chickens, Viper." Shouts Ox. "Lets kill 'em anyway, we'll get twenty dollars back in Little Hope for a good wolf skin." He raises his rifle and shoots; Mahican hears the shot, looks to the others to check if they are all right, but this slows him down and will cost him dearly. A second shot is fired and enters his hind leg, in pain he drops the cub from his mouth. "Goddamned, I got him boys, I shot the son-of-a-bitch." "Nice one Viper. Someone nail the cubs and the bitch; waste not, want not." Shouts Ox.

Coyote already had his rifle out and fired off a shot that executes the female pup. The wolf with the feather in his fur stares at the fallen youth for a while and cries a wolf's cry. The pain in his hind leg washes away and is replaced by anger, blood and razor sharp thoughts of vengeance. With no care for his own safety, Mahican bursts into a murderous sprint towards the hunters. Bison raises his pistol, "Think you're the big bad wolf do ya? Think again!" He shoots at the death machine running towards him but only grazes him. The specter of death wrapped itself into the shape of the wolf that day. Mahican ran forwards, his limp not hindering him for a second. He leaps up and seizes Bison's arm in a vice-like grip. Viper nervously points his gun at the wolf and he lets go. "Someone want to lend a hand?" he shouts back at his fellow hunters. The others turn their gunfire from the distant wolf pack and onto Mahican. Tooth and claw glisten with crimson and sunlight, with one goal in mind he ran on while three of the five shot their guns wildly at him and then all five of the bastard city men opened fire. A barrage of bullets cut the wolf down. Mahican stumbles and falls into the dust and Death's waiting embrace. A lingering speck of life clings to the wolf however. He refuses to die without knowing his pack's fate. This particle of mortality gives him enough strength to turn his head back towards his mate and his two surviving cubs just in time for him to witness them being killed. That speck of life is gone, the flame has been blown away by frightful monsters and now it is time to die…

A lone raven flies from his perch and into the forests off towards the place of Black Feather's camp. The shaman had raised his head when he heard the first gunshots; he listened to the noises of the events as they unfolded their tale to him and then he bowed his head just as Mahican left this world. He knew exactly when it happened. A raven descends from the sky soon after and lands on the ground opposite Black Feather. "We meet again, old friend." He says to the bird. Black Feather opens up a pouch of medicines and takes out some fine white powder then tosses it into the fire. The near raven says nothing but only watches, only judges. The shaman closes his eyes and breathes in the smoke coming from the fire. It takes him away to the spirit world.

The landscape was the same but all the colors were wrong. The sky was purple and the trees were such a bright red that light seem to come from them. The raven was still there and it cawed once as the forests became shadowed and the fire, which now had a blue flame, seem to be reborn like a phoenix. A thick mist lay across the ground and through this mist came the specter of Mahican. Riddled with bullet holes and bleeding, the wolf padded over to the shaman and rested his head in his lap, looking up at him with deep brown eyes. The shaman returned a sorrowful gaze and saw only recognition and pain.

The raven cawed and the sound echoed around the forests. It looked directly at the shaman, who felt the hot stare upon him and so looked to the bird. They made eye contact and a booming voice could be heard all around the campsite. It was the voice of the raven, "I have the power to resurrect those who have died unjustly, so that they may rest in peace with those they love knowing an evil has been corrected. This animal you once knew loved and was loved. But his love was destroyed and he must now know justice. Yet, his body is not suited for this task and yours is required! Will you help the one called Mahican?" "Yes!" cries out the shaman "I give up my body so he may know peace."

The world becomes a darker place and not even the light of the fire is enough to push back the shadows. "We have an agreement" booms the voice of the raven. Smoke coils from the hearthstone and surrounds Black Feather soon becoming a vortex. "Your body will be protected by my powers and no harm will come to it while on this mission." The raven caws once and the shade of Mahican leaps into the swirling vortex of smoke. The raven caws a second time and light seems to irradiate from the vortex and then the raven caws one last and the vortex dies down to reveal Black Feather's body. Black Feather inspects himself and looks confused. The booming voice of the raven returns once again.

"Welcome back Mahican. I have given you this chance to exact revenge on those who killed you and your loved ones. Your friend, the shaman has loaned you his body for a short time for you to do this. I will guide you to each one and protect the shaman's body from harm. But be warned: the soul dictates the shape of the flesh and your soul is that of a wolf. The longer you spend in his body, the more wolf-like his body will become." "I don't plan on staying." "Good! You are ready to begin your mission now."

Mahican and the raven return to the mortal world and all colors become as they should. The coloration of the world disorientates the wolf's mind; he is used to a monochrome world of black and white images. Mahican, in the shaman's body, picks up a charred splinter of wood and draws the death mask of the crow upon his face. Two lines down his eyes and Death's smile…war paint of the damned. He walks over to the raven and pulls a single feather from its tail; Mahican then entwines it into his hair. With no warning the raven takes flight and Mahican runs after it. Through the forest sprints the wolf in man's clothing. Mahican leaps over obstacles with ease, he remembers a time when he and his mate ran like this and suddenly she is next to him and both race through the trees. They both run up a small cliff-top and leap off it, she fades away but Mahican falls into a dive and splashes into the clear waters of the lake underneath. Fish swim away from Mahican as he swims through the waters. Soon he is at the other side of the lake and emerges from it soaking wet. He shakes himself dry as he would do if he were still a wolf and runs on.

Back in Little Hope, the five hunters enjoy the fruits of their labors. They are all back at the tavern relishing in a drink of fine whiskey. Coyote is sleeping the slumber of the intoxicated slouched outside the tavern's doors but wakes with sobriety when he hears the howl. His blood is chilled to the bone but he nevertheless reaches for his hunting knife. A huge raven lands at the foot of his blanket and caws at him judgmentally. Coyote stupidly throws his knife at the bird, misses and the bird flies off to a near hitching post. Mahican watches all this through the raven's eyes and prepares himself for the kill. Mahican stealthily gets right up close to Coyote's ear and whispers, "The most dangerous wolf is the wolf in sheep's clothing. You killed a wolf pack today with your friends. What are your names?" The mute Coyote obviously has no reply. Mahican lets out a throaty growl and grips Coyote around the neck. Images flash into the man-wolf's mind of the other hunters and in that instant he knows his prey. He sees a store of some sort and the bodies of his pack being sold to a fat bald man. Mahican kisses Coyote on the forehead, "Thank you. But know you have to die!"

Coyote pulls his pistol out in a quick draw, but Mahican is faster and kicks the gun from the hunter's hand. The silver Derringer spins in the air and lands in Mahican's waiting grasp. He tries to shoot Coyote but can't figure out how the gun works. Coyote uses this time to get his second gun out and plant a bullet in Mahican's shoulder. The wound doesn't even bleed and closes up before the hunter's eyes. Mahican's form seems to blur at that moment and he emerges from it slightly more feral. His fingernails have grown into claws. Coyote shoots Mahican again and again but he might as well have shot a ghost that night. With a powerful swipe, Mahican cuts four long deep scores in Coyote's neck and he knows that the hunter will soon bleed to death. He breaks the poacher's neck as a mercy but underestimates his own strength and nearly takes the hunter's head off.

Blood spurts out all over Mahican's face and he smiles. He grabs the hunting knife and carves an image of a crow into the chest of the corpse. "No matter where you go in the next life, others will recognize you by this mark." Mahican turns to the raven, "Take me to my family." The crow ruffles his feathers in defiance. "I will not hurt the human there, I just want the bodies of my family." The crow shuffles from foot to foot in decision and then caws loudly and takes flight. Mahican follows.

They run down the dirt street that is the central road of the town until they get to the pawn shop of Mr. Ambrose McGregor. The bird flies overhead like some sort of vulture, waiting for death to happen. The black bird of death lands on a bench outside of the store and peers in through the window. The retail store has closed for the night and no lights shine within but the raven sees all. Mahican walks to the door and peers in the window. It is a small two story wooden building with the bedrooms upstairs.

He sees many animal skins within the store and becomes infuriated. Many have been turned into fancy pieces of clothing. Mahican turns away and retches onto the dusty floor then he returns to looking through the window. His eyes search for his family's pelts and finds them half hidden behind the counter.

Mahican leans heavily on the door and it gives way and bursts open. With haste he runs into the shop and steals his family back. Lifting their pelts into his arms, Mahican is shocked to find his own pelt there albeit riddled with gunshot holes. He fumbles in that instant and stares at his own fur in amazement of the magic that separates his soul from his body. Just then visions fill his head of the five poachers skinning the bodies of his mate and their pups, they will pay, Mahican swears to himself. McGregor, woken by the noise downstairs, appears in the doorway of his workshop with a shotgun. "Hey you," he shouts at Mahican, "you best get the hell out of my store before I blow you to goddamn pieces." Mahican needs not look at McGregor to know where he is; he can see him through the raven's eyes. Mahican turns and smiles and in that instant Mahican's image blurs once again and again he emerges from it, this time with sharp wolf-like fangs. McGregor doesn't know what is going on. "Your dreams have brought you into the spirit world old man. It would be best if you returned to your bed." Mahican calmly and slowly leaves the shop via the front door, leaving McGregor dumbstruck. Outside Mahican sniffs the cool night air and smells the sweet aromas coming from the town; damn, he thinks, this body is changing too fast. I have to act more swiftly.

A short while later, Mahican finds a small stove outside some local's house. There are matches next to the stove, resting on the windowsill. The man-wolf opens the small metal door of the dead iron dragon and stuffs the furs inside. Mahican then picks out a match, lights it and tosses it into the stove. The dragon lives once more. Flames engulf the flammable animal skins in seconds and black smoke bellows from the chimney. Mahican closes the stove door. "You will never be hurt again, my family." With a renewed anger he calls for the raven, it flaps down and comes to perch on his shoulder. He looks like the scarecrow from hell as he walks back into town. Just then his ears prick up at some distant sound and he motions for the raven to take a closer look. The crow again takes flight and heads towards the orgasmic sounds of some cheap whore faking an orgasm once again with that bored look in her eyes.

The ghostly Mahican steps through the swinging doors of a bar he does not know the name of. Some wild looking villains are playing cards on a round table and stop to watch him enter. He seems to drift across the room like smoke while heat, like the ghosts of those he has killed rises from his body and threatens to tell the world that he is a murderer. But Mahican knows he has killed as a wolf, but as a man…he only avenges. A piano player in the corner changes what he was playing and starts something a little more tranquilizing. Mahican wanders over to the bar and motions for the barman to come to him so he may whisper to him. Mahican speaks to him very softly and then the barman makes a 'no way' motioning. Mahican leans over the bar and grabs the barkeeper by his collar. "Where is he?" he shouts. Just then, the card players all get up and produce guns, all pointing at Mahican. Mahican turns and stares at them with almost wolf-like eyes and growls at them…they all sit down. "Where is the one called Viper?" asks Mahican of the barkeeper for a third time. "Up…upstairs f…f…first door on the r…r…right." "Thank you", says the ghostly avenger as he pushes the whitened barman to the floor.

Mahican drifts though the crowded bar like a vampire and climbs the stairs. He finds that his ears have stretched into something resembling his wolf ears and he can hear the full range of sounds available to them. The smells of the tavern intoxicate him, and the taste of fear hangs in the air.

Viper is in room number one fucking some cheap little whore. She is Mexican and is very beautiful; it is easy to see why Viper chose her. He molests her breasts with drunken ferocity while he tries to plunge his limp dick into her dry, protesting vagina. "Fuck it!" he blurts out "I know another way." Viper pulls out his gun and inserts it into the whore's womanly folds and proceeds to fuck her with the barrel of his gun. This was his intent the whole time.

The raven caws out and Mahican, he knows that the whore is about to receive her death. Mahican runs up the stairs and barges into the door, shattering it. Barreling into the room, Mahican then leaps onto the bed. He grabs Viper's hand and yanks the gun out of the girl. She has no idea what is going on and understands very little of the swearing that Viper is doing. Mahican twists Viper's wrist until he hears a snap and the gun falls into his own hand. "Guns are bad," he says to Viper; "didn't your mother ever tell you?" "Guns don't kill, my feral friend. I do!"

Viper pulls another pistol out and puts it directly against Mahican's forehead. His finger hesitates on the trigger…for in the short time it took Viper to pull out his gun, Mahican had inserted his into Vipers mouth. The formally brutish Viper now whimpered like a newborn lamb. "You seemed to enjoy doing something similar to the girl," says Mahican sliding the gun in and out of the poacher's mouth as if he were giving it a blowjob. "Now what comes next?" Mahican can hear muffled pleas of mercy. "Ah, I remember now. This is where I kill you." Mahican pulls the trigger with a grimace upon his face and decorates the head-post with Viper's frontal lobe. "That's for my family." The whore is screaming the place down by now but Mahican dips his hand into Viper's pocket, finds a wallet and gives the contents to the girl. She shuts up. "Take this money and go. You do not need to sell sex. Find a mate… find love and know joy for all your life."

The Mexican whore looks into his eyes and cringes for a second, but when she sees he means no harm she grabs the money and runs. Before he leaves, Mahican uses his claws to carve the image of a crow on Viper's chest. Once he does this, he opens a window and leaps from it, landing in the dusty nighttime street once again. The raven makes no haste in leading Mahican to his next target.

The big black bird flies over the wooden houses and stores that make up Little Hope and heads towards the train station. Through the raven's eyes, Mahican can see a train that is about to leave town and in an instant knows that there is prey aboard that steel dragon. Mahican speeds off in the station's direction as fast as his human legs will take him.

The locomotive exhales steam and slowly comes to life as it grinds forward on heavy metal wheels. Mahican rounds a corner by the station just as the train leaves the platform and begins to pick up speed. Mahican gives it his all, jumps down onto the rail track and pursues the train. When Mahican catches the train it is nearly out of the small town. The raven is perched on the metal railing at the end of the train, watching over Mahican.

Ox sits inside one of the rail cars reading a newspaper, while some young kid tells the story of 'the ghost of the midnight express' in an effort to scare a younger brother. Suddenly, behind Ox, the door separating the carriages opens to reveal Mahican with the raven perched upon his shoulder. The kid and his brother both scream, "It's the ghost, it's the ghost." They yell. Ox turns his head to face the curiosity and is yanked up out of his seat by his inevitable death, Mahican. "I have to stop my self from ripping out your throat with these claws of mine." Mahican lets light glisten on his sharp wolf fangs for a second. "But no matter you will die."

With a single punch he knocks Ox out and wraps his hands around his throat. He wants to do it right now. Wants to kill him without wasting time. But he knows each one has to suffer for what they did to his pack. He drags Ox to the front of the carriage and kicks open the door. Mahican hurls out Ox like a rag doll. "The innocent shouldn't be made to watch this." Mahican slaps Ox's face and the brute awakes. Flashing images of all of Ox's crimes seep into Mahican's head and he is disgusted. But Ox's worst crime, at least to Mahican, was the killing of his family.

With a grimace upon his face, Mahican lifts Ox over the metal railing and then lowers him down to the spinning wheels of the train. "This is where you get off." Ox is dragged under the train and his skull is the only the first bone to be crushed by the mighty wheels of the steel dragon. Mahican hears the screams now, they must have started a while ago but his mind was elsewhere. A human from the carriage thinks he's a hotshot and confronts Mahican. The gun is so close to Mahican that the noise it makes when firing is like thunder to him. Mahican stumbles and falls over the railing, narrowly misses the same fate as Ox and tumbles down the side of a bank, until he stops, broken and bleeding. Temporarily defeated, Mahican can only rest while the magic of the raven heals his physical damage. But sadly there is nothing the bird can do to ease the pain in his heart or the raging fire in his brain. Slowly as skin knits together and bones reset and heal; Mahican tries to his feet and fails. He turns his head and begins to let doubt seep into his thoughts. Tears well up in his eyes. Ideas of failure set in and then he is ready to give up.

The raven watches him from a close tree and caws. Mahican turns his head and looks at the bird. Words bore into themselves into the wolf's mind even though no one spoke them. 'You lazy fuck. You think I brought you back to do a half job? Now get to your feet!' this rouses Mahican and he begrudgingly gets to his feet. In a half zombie-like state of mind Mahican the wolf-man begins to trudge his way back to town. Coyote, Ox and Viper are all dead, thinks Mahican. Bison and Snake will join them soon. Mahican finds what remains of Ox and carves the image of a crow into his flesh before continuing his way back to town.

Snake used to be a good man. As a child he was saintly even. He helped everybody he could. He went to church every day but then sin got hold of him, now he only goes to fuck the minister's wife. He didn't like poaching, but it was the only thing he was good at, the only thing that kept the money coming in. On this night that the dead get vengeance, Snake finds himself at the town's chapel, telling all his sins at the midnight confession. "…And once, Father…I, um…aided someone in killing one of your men." The priest does not answer. "F… father, are you t…there?" A gentile voice speaks to him and it is comforting. "Of course I am here my son, I am always here." The voice changes into a low booming echo. "I am always waiting for you, Snake!" The specter of death opens the door of the confession booth and raises his scythe before Snake ready to cut his life short.

Snake wakes in his bed clammy and afraid. The first thing he notices is Mahican sitting at the foot of his bed. "Bad dreams Snake?" says Mahican. "Your sins weigh heavy on your soul." The raven flies in through the open window and perches on the bed stand next to a glass of water. Mahican reaches over and hands Snake the glass, "This will make you feel better. Here, drink it." Snake gingerly takes the glass and swallows the water. Mahican smiles and takes the glass away from him, setting it down somewhere. "You just rest now, shhh! Lay back." Softly speaks the man-wolf. Mahican lowers Snake's head down to the pillow and then kisses his forehead. "Sleep, just sleep. Peace at last." "You drugged the water? Oh my god, you've killed me!" "No, no, silly human, you killed yourself when you killed her and the pups." Says Mahican softly to Snake. "Goodnight Mr. Cooper."

Snake slips from the mortal coil and lands in the river Styx. He is dead. One more dead human, one more human to go before he can rest. The puzzle is nearly finished. The work is nearly done. Quick, run home little children, the grim reaper is stalking the living and likes hunters as trophies. Mahican carves the crow's likeness into the dead man's breast and leaves as silently as he came.

Bison drunkenly exits a town bar and tells the story of his day to any that will listen. "Bang! Just like that, shot the bastard, wolves eh? Who's afraid of the big bad…" He tries to take a shot of whiskey and but is disappointed at the bottle being empty and forgets about the rhyme he was singing. He stumbles into a cemetery with a small church at one end, clumsily he sits on a grave, pulls out another bottle of moonshine and pops out the cork with his teeth, "Ch-hiccup, ch-hiccup… cheers!" He says to the corpses before taking a big swig of the brown liquid. He looks around the empty graveyard and stands up, turns around and urinates against the headstone of one James Dawning. The shadow of a big raven appears on the headstone and frightens Bison. He turns in time to see a raven fly by. "'Lil bastard" he grumbles to himself and continues urinating on James' epitaph. The shadow of the raven appears once again, but Bison is ready now and reaches for his gun. Bison turns around, slightly too fast for himself and falls down.

There, slightly silhouetted by the moonlight is Mahican casting a shadow puppet bird onto the headstone. "Jesus boy, ya nearly give me a heart-attack." Bison manages to get to his feet and pull his britches back up. "Bison…" whispers Mahican. "Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?" asks Mahican of Bison. "Who…who are you?" inquires Bison. "Earlier today, you went hunting and killed a pack of wolves." "Who are you?" "That pack was a family. They loved and were loved in return." "Who Are You?" "You had four friends to help you but they are all dead Bison. You are the last one and now, you too, must die." "Who are you, you motherfucker?" Mahican rushes up to Bison's ear an whispers, "I am the wolf in sheep's clothing. I am death made flesh. I am ghostly vengeance made flesh by the anger of the universe at what you did today Mr. Bison and I am the end of your life."

Bison struggles but manages to pull out his gun and gets off a couple of good shots at Mahican. Anger fills Mahican and the anger turns into a throaty growl. The wounds heal. "Who are you? What are you?" cries Bison. "I am the big bad wolf!" shouts Mahican. He then doubles over in pain and when it is over, he is closer than ever to becoming a full wolf. "Ho…holy shit, it is true, you really are the wolf." Mahican turns to the man, picks his off his feet with one hand and says, "Believe in angels? Too bad 'cause I'm not one."

He pulls on Bison's arm and yanks it back until it snaps and Bison screams out in pain. Then he slings the heavy man over his shoulder and carries him to the small church on the one side of the graveyard. Mahican knows that daylight is fast approaching.

Later that day…the shaman Black Feather wakes in the graveyard, there is blood on the floor, on his hands and in his mouth and he doesn't remember how it got there. He reasons that it is a souvenir of Mahican's adventures in his body. He briefly wonders if the wolf completed his mission and then notices something hanging up in the bell tower of the church. His eyes take a moment to adjust but can see a man dangling by the rope around his neck. Black Feather enters the church, climbs the tower and then sees the image of the crow carved into the rustler's chest. This time it has four deep claw marks through it.

Black Feather says a silent goodbye to Mahican the wolf and begins his long journey back to his tribe. He knows now that Mahican made good use of his body and did indeed complete his mission.

Epilogue

The wolf known as Mahican paws through a bright light and is greeted by his mate and his three pups. They are together now, always and forever.