Wordcount: 881 words
Summary: In which we learn jump rope songs and Zee ponders the nature of Things What Eat Werewolves™.
Fairytales and Folklore
Rocksfall Traditional Call and Response Jump rope Song
These woods/These woods
Where no one lives/Where no one dies
These woods/Our woods
Where no one leaves/Where no one tries
These woods/My woods
Where no one loves/Where no one lies
These woods/These woods
Our woods/Our woods
My woods/My woods
Where no one/no one
[unison] Lives, Leaves, Loves, Lies
It took Zee very little time to pack, unlike Jon all his bills were in someone else’s name and there was no one who would notice he was gone. Except maybe the downstairs neighbor who could now play his stereo as loud as he wanted without facing death threats yelled through the ceiling. The daily cleaning service had long since learned even attempting to gain access to his room was punishable by similar verbal abuse. So it would stay just like he left it, which meant he needed to buy new toilet paper on the way home.
Assuming there was a way home.
About an hour before he reached the edge of the ghost pack’s territory, Zee pulled the Jeep over for one last chance at convincing himself that disappointing Donovan was preferable to entering the Bermuda Triangle of werewolves. The attempt didn’t last long. Even an imaginary Donovan was enough to set his teeth on edge, so he settled for a ham sandwich (hold the everything, add one fried egg) and a thoughtful consideration of the facts.
Of which there were very little.
For centuries, if not longer, wolves had randomly disappeared along the next hundred miles of mountain range. Before the first real push of colonists, they might have chalked it up to local talent — the wolves had long since weeded their home human herds of their more dangerous members — but there had been full sweeps done of the area and nothing ever turned up. No trace of the missing wolves had ever been found, nor any indication of foul play or feral packs that might explain away their absence.
Folklore abhors a vacuum, so someone at some point in the distant past had put forth the idea that the missing wolves had fallen prey to ghosts. The idea was well received and wolves all across the country could be prodded into remembering the ghost tales of their youth. It was said the pack added to it’s ranks with every wolf slain and that once they had reached some mystical (yet arbitrary) number they would bring about and Age of Darkness.
Ages of Darkness were rather popular for some reason among werewolf folklorists.
So as it stood, the Ghost Pack was largely conjecture, since none of its members had ever been seen and no proof of its existence had been found. But there was no proof for the lack of existence, and that was enough for most ghost stories.
While the pack itself might have lacked definition, the area it roamed did not– at least in terms of transportation. Starting from the bridge spanning Parson’s Gap and running up to the bridge over the Lakehymn River, almost every mile of the highway could call up the memory of another disappearance. The hundred mile swath wasn’t technically part of any existing pack’s territory, one of the few places on the Americas that still held that privilege.
Zee looked out the window over his cup of coffee. It was actually a rather pleasant stretch of land; mountainous without being impassable, forested without being too thick to support larger game, and -thanks to the small human population- mostly free of the larger predators. Himself excluded, of course.
He felt oddly uneasy about driving those last miles, even though he’d been through the area over a dozen times without any harm. It wasn’t belief in the reality of the Ghost Pack, so much as the reality that something was out there killing wolves without leaving so much as a scrap of evidence.
He could always just spend a few days wandering the edge of the territory and then report back that there was nothing to be found. The local Alpha would be more than happy to have any answer, even if it was lie. Zee had no illusions that the Alpha was really interested in Jon’s wellbeing, just that he wasn’t out there sharing information with a possibly hostile pack.
His own Alpha, on the other hand, would know he was lying and while Donovan cared even less about Jon, he had been very clear about what he considered Zee’s ‘duty to the pack’ constituted. Refusing to investigate a known danger because it might be dangerous came in a little lower than killing someone and getting caught, but not much.
If he was lucky this show of loyalty would be enough to earn him a return to his own territory. Ten years wasn’t a long time, as years went, but he missed the oddly comforting white noise of the city. He even missed the masses of humanity themselves, for a few brief moments of temporary insanity.
But being homesick wasn’t getting him any closer to actually being home, so it was time to go. Zee gulped down the last of the coffee, left the waitress a tip just shy of polite, and headed back out to the Jeep.