A Work in progress
Bathed in the eerie light of the misty prairie dawn, Boon Jenner stopped dead in her work. Off in the distance, just beyond the tall grass was the biggest, queerest looking wild dog she had ever seen.
And standing stock still, Boon followed the beasts graceful loping movements with a natural born sharpshooter’s eye. The damn thing looked like some kind of gigantic wolf. Except this hadn’t been wolf territory for well over a hundred years.
Wild dogs had been worrying Boon’s sheep something fierce lately. She’d been finding mauled livestock for months now. And even her ole dog Missy had vanished without a trace three weeks before.
Boon was sure that something bad had happened to her. Smart loyal dogs as loving and true as Missy didn’t just run off or get lost. Boon knew deep down that some dire fate had befallen her sweetheart hound, she just feel it in her bones. And she had a powerful suspicion that feral animals were to blame for Missy’s disappearance.
And judging by the sheer size and intimidating presence of the beast in her field. Boon reckoned this to be the alpha of the pack responsible. Although at the moment it seemed to be ranging on its own.
It was a weird looking beast sure enough. Strangely beautiful in the eerie dawn gloom but in a way which left Boon feeling decidedly uneasy.
There was something oddly mesmerizing about the creature. Something that left Boo with the queer impression that somehow it didn’t legitimately belong to the natural world. A curious impression without doubt but quite profound nonetheless.
The animal appeared to be in good health. There was no sign of illness or injury in its general appearance. In fact it looked more like a kept dog than a feral one. Far too well-groomed and strangely beautiful to be a wild thing.
Still, it bore no collar as far as Boon could see. And she certainly didn’t recognize it as any of her neighbour’s animals.
Boon stood entranced by the astonishing creature for nearly a full minute before she finally reacted. Setting down her fencing pliers and wire tensioning ratchet before slowly retreating through the trees which grew as a windbreak alongside of the field. Taking care to move as quietly as she could over the dense blanket of dry leaf litter and fallen branches.
Until finally Boon retrieved her rifle from the back of her truck, having never let the creature entirely out of her sight. Partly so she wouldn’t lose track of the beast in the dawn gloom, but more significantly because the creature was just so weird looking.
Boon couldn’t quite out her finger on the reason why, but there was something undeniably mesmerizing about the creature. Fierce and beastly looking as it was there was a beguiling beauty and grace about the animal.
Now Boon hated to kill any living thing. But the bloody mess feral dogs had been making of her sheep lately galvanized her resolve. For as much as they were property, Boon tended to think of her livestock as under her care rather than in her possession.
And although Boon tended towards affection for all living creatures, she was a pragmatist as well. And the cold hard fact was, her animals needed protection from this dog, or wolf, or whatever hell it was.
And besides, if this was the beast that had taken Missy, then that alone was cause enough to shoot the thing. Although Boon sure as hell didn’t feel good about having to do so and would much rather let her rifle stay cold.
But Boon knew the world just didn’t work that way. And the toll for life was death and that was that, whether she liked it or not. So returning to the spot where she had sighted the beast, Boon shouldered her rifle, leaned into the shot and aimed down the sights.
And as she got her eye in, Boon was struck once again by the remarkable beauty of the creature. It was lithe and sleek and graceful in its movement. And so strangely fascinating in aspect as well.
But she simply had no choice other than to put it down. Either that or her livestock would pay a heavy toll for her reluctance. So Boon concentrated on regulating her breathing and steadying her hand as she assessed her shot.
The direction the thing was moving away from her and the sheer size of the creature gave her few choices. If she missed with the first shot she probably wouldn’t get a second chance, not with a beast as obviously strong and agile as this. It looked like it could move swiftly enough to rescue itself from a markswoman’s bullet despite its massive bulk.
If she went for its head she was just as likely to miss and graze its skull rather than put it down. The heart was a clearer and easier shot. And should she be a little off target, then the creature would still be wounded sufficiently to end its life eventually.
And as Boon began to apply pressure to the trigger, the creature stopped and sniffed the air. And yet again Boon found herself hesitating as she watched the curious animal in her sights.
Boon had been around animals all her life but this thing was something else entirely. She found herself entertaining the queerest impression that the animal possessed an uncommon measure of intelligence. A sentience far beyond that which might be considered usual. Something beyond the natural cunning of a wild beast and even beyond the intelligence of a domesticated animal.
She paused a moment and pushed her hat back from her brow as beads of perspiration began to gather on her dark brown skin. The day was already beginning to warm up as the bright sun began to ascend the dawn sky, rapidly burning away the morning mist.
“Dammit” Boon muttered in frustration.
She was hesitant to take her shot, the hound was such a queer lookin’ creature. Like no kind of wild dog she’d ever seen before. Maybe it was a kept animal at that. And if it was then putting it down would be a terrible crime, to her way of thinking at least.
But Boon dismissed the thought as her natural reluctance to kill looking for an excuse to spare the animal.
‘Stop being so damn sentimental, Boon Jenner….’
‘….this animal dies or your sheep get torn to pieces….’
‘Now what’s it gonna be?’
And reluctantly Boon took aim once again and slowly squeezed the trigger. And as the rifles report cracked like thunder in the air, Boon Jenner beheld the most astonishing and horrifying sight.
An incomprehensible parody of reality which would sear itself into her mind, like a hot brand on the hide of a bull.
It happened in an instant, in the smallest fraction of a second. She missed, at least she must have missed.
The beast must have bolted, but she didn’t see in what direction it had run off. Boon Jenner could swear she had seen it vanish. In the blink of an eye it just winked out of existence.
But she definitely hit something. And whatever that something was it certainly wasn’t a wolf.
“No…!” Boon gasped in astonished alarm.
In the moment she saw the beast disappear Boon saw a human figure fall to her shot. It was a girl. She was sure of it.
“….but it couldn’t be….”
Boon froze on the spot for a moment, her mind utterly overwhelmed at the horrifying and impossible event she had witnessed.
“….what did you do…?”
And with her heart gripped by anxiety and her blood racing with adrenaline, Boon rushed to the spot where she saw whatever, or whoever it was fall.
And every step of the way she prayed to god that she would find nothing more than a dead wild dog. But god seemed not to have heeded her plea and what Boon Jenner found confirmed her direst fears.
It was indeed a girl. As white as winter snow with hair the colour of a raven’s feather. Stone cold unconscious and as naked as the day she was born, without a single stitch of clothing on her. Blood rapidly pooling at her left shoulder where the bullet had entered and beginning to soak into the cold earth beneath.
“Aw hell..!” Boon wailed in panic to the empty and unheeding heavens.
“….oh sweet mercy…!”
Boon hurriedly pulled her phone out of her jeans pocket and dialled the first name that came to mind. The name that was always first in her mind.
And Officer Mathilda Dixon pulled her patrol car over to answer the incoming call. Checking the caller identity and wondering.
‘What the hell could Boon Jenner want, at this time of day?’