Bitten by the Alpha

By K.F. Jones

Romance, Paranormal


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5 mins


It was a day of firsts for me. The first time I’d lain in wait for the discovery of a lifetime. The first time I truly doubted my sanity. The first time I’d truly understood what a torrential downpour meant. It was also the first time I grasped the full meaning of the phrase ‘jumped out of my skin’.

“Good morning!” the rambler boomed cheerfully at me, in a voice that rang with the privileged tones that only the home counties could sustain. Of course, at that point, I was utterly unaware he’d walked up the hill behind me. Hence my immediate experience of panic, scrambling to turn over, trying to face him and giving a yelp that I confess, seemed almost like a frightened puppy. Not my finest hour.

As I recovered my composure and responded with a somewhat strangled, reflexive “Good morning.” I looked up at the interloper. He stood, bold as brass, silhouetted on the skyline in clear view of my target. Oblivious to my distress he continued in his deep and clear voice “That’s a mighty piece of equipment you have there. What on earth are you hoping to do with that?” he said, gesturing vaguely in my direction.

I blushed a deep crimson, my prone position lying on the hilltop had led me to some private thoughts and I was sure he was referring to a telltale sign in my trousers. Before I could open my mouth and say something incriminating he clarified “Is it a Nikon or a Panasonic?”. My camera, he was asking about my camera, no doubt because of the enormous telephoto lens on it. Embarrassed I responded, “I don’t really know, I borrowed it from a friend who's a wildlife photographer.”

“Wildlife eh? I did wonder, the naturist club is miles from here!” he said laughing at his own joke. I’m not proud but at that point, I did consider finding out where and calling it a day, my target hadn’t shown up and I was hungry and tired. With this lens, I could probably shoot people pretty well. Instead, I coughed and tried to sound as apologetic as I could “Would you mind awfully, um, crouching down and being a bit…. quieter?”.

He nodded sagely and tapped his nose, then stepped a little way down the hill and lay down beside me on his front, withdrawing a pair of small and expensive looking binoculars from his coat. A big man, not fat but broad-shouldered and tall, he seemed to be in his forties and had a well-manicured jet black beard. I was a skinny twenty-year-old, constantly in the gym trying to put on some muscle to impress the women at my university. Not that my field of study was particularly enticing to them. More of a conversation killer really.

“Brian,” he whispered, holding out his hand. It was an awkward way to shake but I felt the irresistible urges of being British takeover and used my left arm to support me whilst I twisted uncomfortably and shook his hand with my right. “William,” I whispered back. His handshake was firm, his hand felt unnaturally hot against mine. I’d been outside for hours and it wasn’t a warm day, he’d probably kept his stuffed in his pockets.

“So what are you trying to snap then? Foxes? Badgers?” he whispered. I noted that he smelled of strong aftershave, I was no expert but it was something expensive. I rolled back onto my front and looked through the camera to check it was still sighted and to hide my face. “Rabbits, perhaps. Lots of rabbits around here. Not any hare, as far as I recall but plenty of bunnies.”

I groaned inwardly. He was clearly settling in for the long haul and I had little option but to tell him the truth, appalling liar that I am he’d know instantly if I tried to deceive him. “No. None of those. I’m looking for…” I paused, swallowed and closed my eyes in expectation of his response “a wolf. One was sighted nearby and I think I’ve found it’s den. Actually, I’m sure of it, I followed it here when I saw it a few weeks ago.”

His response was unexpected, everyone else I’d spoken to had been immediately derisive. In the United Kingdom, sarcasm is a fine art, a sacred birthright of every man woman and child. When you tell someone that you not only saw a wolf, long since extinct here but that it came up to you, sniffed your hand, licked it and then gave you a nasty nip, they let rip. I had had every joke under the sun. “Oh beware the moon!” they’d say, or they’d put on a Yorkshire accent and say “Don’t go out on the moors!”.

Others would suggest it’d be fine as long as I didn’t have hairy palms or a mono-brow. No-one believed me. Why should they? Like me, most of my university acquaintances were biologists of one kind or another and knew full well there weren’t any wild wolves in the British Isles. “I say, that would be a bit of a coup, wouldn’t it? Do you think it escaped from a zoo? Judging by the camera I’d guess you’re sure it wasn’t a dog.”

“I’m pretty sure. It bit me,” I responded, showing him my left hand although no-one else saw anything other than a dog bite “I got a hair from the ground as well but couldn’t confirm it was wolf fur. There wasn't enough material for DNA and the colouring was a little unusual. The right type of hair, though.”

After a moment I noticed he was still holding my hand and I turned from the camera, he was studying my wound perfectly seriously. “Well, in my opinion, it’s the right size and shape for a wolf alright. He gave you quite the nip, didn’t he?” he said, holding my gaze. I didn’t know why my but heart was pounding in my chest. His eyes were, bright and inquisitive, with something both stern and powerful behind them. He was close enough that I could smell the mint on his breath and his hand on mine felt like it could deliver an iron grip if he chose. I swallowed nervously and gently tugged my hand away.

Something about him seemed so familiar. His confident, affable manner was infectious. “It wasn’t too bad and it’ll be worth it if I can prove I wasn’t making it up. Do you know something about wolf bites?” He’d said it with such an air of authority that it felt like he was actually speaking from experience.

“I’ve travelled a lot and seen a great many things. There’s wolves in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect if you don’t make a study of such things. No, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a wolf bite. I for one, believe you. Still, it doesn’t matter much I’m afraid. If this den of his is over there you’re not going to get your shot today, even if he does show up. There’ll be too much rain by then.” he said with a complete air of surety.

“Oh no, I checked the weather before I came out and again a while ago. The rain isn’t getting further south than Gloucester today.”

“Smartphones are wonderful I know but there’ll be rain, soon. That coat is fine but the rest won’t do you much good. Is your car nearby?”

“No, I got the train to the station in the village and hiked up here this morning. I’ve been here all day.” I said, gesturing toward my backup. If there were rain, my jeans would be awful but he was completely wrong, I’d checked not twenty minutes ago because I was so bored.

“Well, I’ll leave you alone then. Best of luck. I’m off home but if it gets nasty out here, by all means, pop in and I’ll drive you to the station from my house. Better a five-minute walk and having to admit I was correct, than a thirty-minute hike down to the village, eh?” he whispered jovially.

I chuckled politely “Thanks, that’s nice of you to offer but I think I’ll be fine unless the heavens open.” To this day I don’t know what would possess an Englishman of sound mind to say such a thing. It’s an unwritten rule that one simply doesn’t suggest that it’s a beautiful day and you’re glad it’s not raining or use the phrase ‘at least it’s not raining’ or do anything remotely similar.

I watched as he turned and walked back down the hill, his long strides carrying him with effortless ease and a pace I didn’t think I could match. His trousers made a slight swish of material as they rubbed against themselves, with each motion his firm buttocks propelled. Firm buttocks, I thought before following up with, where on earth did that come from?

I turned back to the borrowed camera and put my strange visitor from my mind as I watched the point I’d seen the wolf push through the undergrowth near a large, flat stone and disappear into a hole. I realised one solution would have been to go and look in the hole directly but once bitten twice shy and all that. I didn’t seriously expect it’d wait for me to get there and patiently stay in its den until I arrived anyway. I watched for another twenty minutes.

Plop. A tiny sound but one that brought an instant stillness to my body. Plop. There it was again, probably just my imagination, I thought, hopefully. Then it rained.



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