The Hound and his Man

The man stripped off his wet fur loincloth, the last of his clothes. Tenderly he added it to the fire, it burned for a few moments of ecstasy. He sat starving and naked. Outside a dark swaying forest battled with the ferocious blizzard. His hound leaned against him conserving what little warmth they sustained. The man cradled him like he had so long ago when he was but a pup.
Another twig crumbled to its fate among the dying coals. Their stomachs screamed for food. His dog sniffed the air and went deep into thought. Now with death looming the man reminisced of the beginning of their friendship, which was the bloody affair of cutting the pup from his mother’s womb. He wrenched up the pup and brought his spear point to its throat, but something stopped him. The same spear which pierced the mother’s womb now sat idle and frozen against the wall, long icicles hanging off its shaft. The man often wondered after all this time if there was an ancient grudge that the hound held deep inside.

The dog whimpered and shook off the man’s weak grasp. The man attempted to pat him. He shot up with a guttural growl and paced the room. The freezing man shouted angrily. The dog bared his fangs in terrorised delight and paced faster- warming his aching muscles. The terrible realisation came to the man in a flash of innate instinct. He went silent.

The man stood exposed, and it became clear to him. Only one victor would leave the dusty gloom to meet the morning sun. The man tried the spear but hadn’t the strength to pry its frozen place. Their eyes met with cold isolation, both slowly circling. There was no more room for rational thought; fantasies of hot flesh being clenched beneath their jaws were the only occupants in the minds of both the wolf and the man. The man imagined slipping into that warm fur once again. Within the wolf vengeance plotted against the monster that ate his mother and wore her skin. The man leapt, the wolf pounced.

The wolf sank his fangs into his sluggish thigh with glee. The man grasped a nearby rock and beat down with it. A brutal blow impacted on his paw. The man kicked the wolf off his thigh. He knocked into the spear, shattering the ice. The man despairingly reached for his weapon, the wolf pounced again. They tumbled and turned over the long dead fire pit, flinging soot into the air as they shouted and snarled.
A moan cut through the screaming blizzard.
The dust settled.
A single silhouette panted.

A figure emerged.
A warm breeze blew across the bloody fur on his back telling of the coming spring. He limped out with the old spear at his side, his gullet filled and his heart emptied.
Leaving a track of three prints in the snow with every step, he went out into the lonely wilderness.

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