5: The Wolf who cried "Boy"
Once upon an Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator, there lived a gentle, kindly wolf named Touga, who— although he wanted to do nothing but good to others, and have good done to him— nevertheless found himself in very dire straights, for he was poverty-stricken, and had no pack to support him in his times of crisis. Even so, he was a very skilled and very clever hunter, and could get by as most wolves do— and occasionally do better. Whenever Touga so chanced upon a shepherd burdened with the gruesome task of caring for far too many sheep, many of these on the verge of death, he found it in the favor of both parties to rid the overburdened shepherd of his weakest flock, so that he may continue to live and the shepherd would not be distressed with having to care for one so close to its final moments. After all, a wolf must eat, and what would it matter to one who had so many, to lose but the feeblest?
One day, our heroic wolf chanced upon a town. Understanding that civilization as a whole did not enjoy his company, he decided to make his presence known in more subtle ways. When the butcher chanced to rid his shop of excessive organs from his carcasses, the wolf offered his services, such as they were. When a poor calf was deemed unfit for life, cursed with a crippled leg, and given the bleakest chances for survival, Touga extended his mercies in hopes that its burdens would cease. When the town drunk had gambled away the last of his earnings, and utterly spent all that life had to offer him, and only found solace in soaring majestically above the town bridge, into its icy lake— well, Touga made sure to remove his body and dispose of it as only he could. When the town brothel simply couldn't take care of all the babies they were—
Um, okay, let's move on.
"Yes, that's right," Touga said. "After all, this is a story about a WOLF, not a dingo."
Sorry, folks. I couldn't resist.
Anyway, the town gradually came to accept its hard-working new visitor, and enjoyed his company so much that they went to great troubles to hire a lad so that his presence could be announced! Well! So! Whenever the wolf appeared, he would be greeted as a king, and his name would echo out from the highest hill, so that all would know that their friend had come, and praise him with exaltations! Touga couldn't have been happier! But how was he going to repay these people for their generosity? Having such honors bestowed upon him was unbecoming; he simply couldn't take without giving, at least. And so he sought out the one person every citizen in the town despised, and vowed to rid his beloved new city of this vermin, as only a paragon of his sort could. Therefore, it was only proper that the town's congressional aides find their superior utterly devoured the next morning.
In thanks for this heroic deed, the town council gathered to bestow a further honor to their gracious wolf: that, whenever their young caller should announce his presence, once the wolf Touga had completed his business, they were to personally see him safe to his home in the forest, so that he may not be waylaid by more dangerous beasts. What kindness! Security, honor, all the food he could want, a town's jubilation when he so much as raised his snout…! It couldn't be believed! So Touga had at last found paradise. But one day, when he was mindlessly gnawing on the bone of a sickly old ox no one was sure to miss, he chanced to hear his presence being announced throughout the city streets. What a curious turn of events! Here he was, considerably distanced from his cherished town's gates, entertaining himself on spoils without any need to visit his friends, and the town would flock to greet nothingness in the meantime!
"What the (bleep) is that (bleep) doing?" he wondered idly. But no matter; he had his bones, and surely the lad must be playing a jest. After all, who could blame him for wanting to announce the arrival of his hero? But scarcely an hour had passed before Touga's name was called once more, and from his vantage point, our beloved wolf could see his fellow citizens massing in his honor— and yet he remained distant! Far be it from Touga to never attend his own welcoming ceremonies, and surely the people must be tiring of this farce as well! Something must obviously be done! He would have to discuss this with the lad. Yet no sooner had he braced himself to leave his hovel than his name was proclaimed a third time, with far more drastic results!
"This will not do," he said to himself. "My friends are beginning to lose their patience. Suppose I should honestly approach their doorstep, and they hear their boy calling, and do not come to greet me! They have been so good to me, and they always enjoy my visits with such wonderful cheer; I would hate to keep disappointing them." Resolving to move quickly, Touga stole into the city under the cover of darkness. For the first time since he had made his presence known, his gracious eminence was announced without a procession. Sure enough, the townspeople had grown to doubt their irresponsible boy. Touga fixed himself to resolve this egregious error, found the boy exclaiming on the hill, and approached him with every conceivable bit of diplomacy his fangs had to offer.
One week later, when he came by to check on their progress, his adoring fans returned to honor him as they always had. All was right with the world.
Next installment: Paul Bunyan