From: (Susan Solan)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: The Curse's Epilogue
Date: 2 Dec 1997 01:19:53 GMT
Organization: PANIX Public Access Internet and Unix, NYC
Lines: 105
Message-ID: <>

"I knew I'd find you here, bitch," the woman growls as she reaches into
one of the sacks tied to her horse.  I understand her; Coztah had taught
me the language.

It's a shame to have to be interrupted like this.  The forest smells
brilliant this morning, the overnight rains having washed away the
staleness that typically festers in the windless depths of these woods. 
There is a most inviting rabbit not far from here; I could've been halfway
to breakfast by now.

I stand my ground, even though I know she is reaching for a gun -- what
else do humans reach for when they encounter a wolf?  I should run -- I
have no pack, and my cubs would surely die without me.  I cannot leave,
this being the sort of confrontation that may be put off but never
forgotten like some lost prey.

The woman is a little surprised that I am still there.  She doesn't
realize these are my woods.  My territory.  "He's dead.  Did you know

I whimper.  I didn't know.  I was concerned when he didn't show up at the
last full moon; but he occasionally didn't.  I thought it was because of
the cubs.

The gun is out now.  It's a big one -- bigger than she can hold
comfortably.  It might have been his.  "The townspeople killed him," she
continues.  "They held a trial and called him a demon and burned him at a
stake -- not that I'd expect you to grasp any of this."

I grasp most of it.  I knew Coztah was deathly afraid of his own people. 
Because of what he called his "curse."  The curse he said I made bearable.

Keeping the weapon trained on me, she dismounts and steps closer.  I do
not move.  I have no desire to kill this woman, his widow as their tongue
would call her.  After all, Coztah told me she had protected him.  She
came from a dominant family and used something called "money" to appease
the farmers whose sheep and cattle we had killed.  Yet she did come all
this way just to kill me, and if defending myself and my cubs means
destroying her, so be it.

"I was married to Constantine for over fourteen years," she says, speaking
his complex human name with ease.  "I bet your grandmother was still a pup
back then."

Probably my great-grandmother, I think.  Fourteen years is an huge amount
of time.  I cannot think of knowing someone that long.  Coztah once said
he was in his "forties" -- the statement had no meaning for me.

The widow went on with her speech, her voice becoming unsteady.  I sit and
wait patiently -- what choice did I have?  "I knew his secret and loved
him anyway.  I nursed his wounds when his 'nights out' had been a little
too spirited.  I lied for him when the town started to suspect, telling
them that the dogs had gotten out again.  I even bribed the god-damned
constabulary to ignore those who refused to believe me.  They were all
happy as long as my money flowed.

"But you made him careless."  I cock my head, having no idea what she
means.  She sees this and explains.  "You had to take him out of his
normal territory -- to a town where I didn't know the farmers."

This is true.  My hunting grounds overlapped with Coztah's, and for a long
time he was reluctant to stray from where he knew his human wife could
protect him.  But I was getting bored hunting in the same places all the
time and, perhaps, I resented his having a human wife.  In any case, I
insisted that he widen his horizons.

"Those farmers all started talking.  About my Constantine -- and this
other wolf slaughtering their livestock and heading back through these
woods.  It didn't take long for the Church to get wind of it."

Coztah spoke of this "Church" constantly; I never completely understood
the concept.  The men who ran this Church feared and hated anyone who was
different or who wouldn't fall into line.  Not much different from a pack,
I used to tell him.  I was forced to leave my pack because the others
didn't trust this "halfling wolf" who had captured my heart.

"So they sent some of their so-called experts to our town, and ..." her
voice breaks off and her eyes spout water.  "... and people who I thought
were friends, or at least sufficiently paid off, all spoke out against
him.  There was nothing I could do."

This means little to me and I am tempted to attack while her eyes are
clouded with water.  She sees this and raises the gun again.  "Oh no you
don't," she says.  "Constantine is completely lost to me now.  At first I
thought I lost him to the hatred of the Church and the townspeople.  Then
I told myself it was the 'curse,' that had doomed him from the beginning. 
But now I know it's you."  She aims.  "The other wolf that led my husband
astray.  That made him reckless when the moon grew full.  And that filled
his dreams when it wasn't."

I bristle.  The woman shoots, but she is inept with the weapon.  Its
flesh-ripping pellet misses me and hurtles harmlessly through the trees. 
I dive for her legs, toppling her easily.  She drops the gun and I sink my
teeth into her soft flesh.  She fights clumsily and dies quickly.  Her
cowardly horse runs off while I do my best to cover the carcass with
leaves and twigs, as Coztah had taught me to do with the farmers' animals.

I run back to my den, already thinking of where to relocate my family --
once a wolf kills a human, the others won't rest until you're dead as
well.  I hear my young ones' cries already.

They sound like their father.