Pack Hunters : Chapter One

The pine trees rose ominously over the vast expanse of white that engulfed the field. The cattle huddled together against the cold, their dark coats a strong contrast against the moon-illuminated white, making them stand out like a target on a night like this. Plumes of vapor rose from the herd, their breath billowing like a steam engine. The snow creaked under hoof, a sign of the temperatures quickly dropping into the negative range. Slowly moving in a mass together, jockeying for the warmest spots, the dangers that lurked around them were yet to be detected.

The pack moved through the cover of darkness, the smell of the next meal leading them on. The need to survive was a stronger pull for their lean bodies, than the want to stay warm and huddled down in the subzero temperatures. Moving between the towering trees above them, the white pasture was a beacon in the dark, drawing them closer to their quarry. Their movement resembled that of shaggy phantoms, silent and invisible to all around as they divided into their instinctive hunting assignments, ready to close in on the naive cattle.

The yearling heifer jerked her head to the west, sniffing the frigid air surrounding the herd, suddenly aware of a slight change surrounding them. Intuitively sensing that the safety of her and her young calf was unexpectedly in jeopardy, she began to shift uncomfortably and mew softly to her youngster. Instinct pushed her to care for her young and protect him against the dangers, still unseen to the rest of the herd. Her uncertainty was suddenly mirrored throughout the herd, as they started pushing and shoving against each other, abruptly alert to some type of danger closing in. Glancing around nervously, the young bull calf, pushed out of the inner circle as the others started to scramble with panic, was cognizant of the fact that his survival was being threatened. Bawling out to find his mother, the calf inadvertently made himself a target not only through his age and helplessness but sounding out like a siren with his distress calls. Before he even had a realization of his life ending, the calf was grabbed around the neck by a wiry member of the pack, his jugular vein sliced in two by the incisor teeth of the wolf. As the practice hunter dragged his new kill to the safety of the forest, the only hint of the young calf's existence was a crimson trail his lifeless body left behind in the previously untainted snow.