Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly urban fantasy romance story.
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Tall grass blades rustled in the wind. A blue sky stretched over miles and miles of rolling hills, mirroring the color if not the texture of wind-driven ocean waves. Adi stood still on the highest point, enjoying the soft warm caress of the breeze on her skin. Her hair fell freely around her shoulders and even though her feet were bare, the grass did not hurt them. That alone made her realize that this couldn’t be reality. It felt so peaceful, so soothing, just standing here, looking around her. The sun was bright but didn’t burn or glare, the wind was gentle and rustled with hypnotic rhythm through the prairie grass.
When the rustling increased behind her, she turned around dreamily, no rush, no fear. The grass parted and she found herself face to face with the most beautiful animal she had ever seen. She took in the wolf’s sapphire eyes, the white teeth in his parted mouth, his over-sized puppy paws, too large for his body. She didn’t feel afraid. The animal took a step towards her, his tail wagging like a dog. There was no threat in his movement, no growling. In fact his face looked like it was smiling at her.
Adi stretched out her hand and the wolf sniffed it in a dog-like fashion. She smiled and scratched behind his ears. The animal’s eyes closed contentedly and he laid before her feet to enjoy her caress better. Adi followed him down and curled next to his furry bulk. The wolf briefly licked her hand, then settled down for a nap. For a moment his scent seemed familiar to Adi. There was none of the faintly unpleasant odor she knew from large dogs. The wolf smelled of ozone and fir trees, pleasant, woodsy and calming. Adi smiled and relaxed further against the animal’s strong side.
She didn’t know how long they were pressed against it each other. After a while, she was a little bored and started shifting around. One of the animal’s eyes opened and conveyed how not impressed he was with her wiggling. Adi stilled for a moment, but then on a whim poked the wolf in his side. With a surprised ‘whoof’, the wolf rolled to his front and sprang up. His head tilted he seemed to consider her for a moment, then without further warning licked her face.
“Ewww,” she giggled and wiped his slobber off her skin. When the wolf tried again, she made a run for it. Vaguely she remembered hearing that one should never run from a wild animal. Surely that didn’t apply to a dream though? She made it a couple of steps when she saw the black coat of her new friend out of the corner of her eyes. When she turned her head, his face looked so funny with his lolling tongue, that she laughed out loud and put on a burst of speed.
She gained a little bit of distance before he was huffing behind her, the noise getting louder and louder. Before she could brace herself, a huge weight hit her back and she was taken down. The wolf wrapped himself around her and they rolled together before Adi ended up on top of the animal, laughing helplessly. Briefly it occurred to her that if this were reality, she’d be dead, but in her dream, there was no danger, only safety with her furry friend. His tongue licked her face again and she warded off his attacks with both arms, giggling so hard that her face hurt.
For a while, both beast and human rested in each other’s arms – or paws. Adi’s face was only inches away from what in nature would be a fierce predator, her natural enemy that could rip her throat out with one clench of his jaws. His eyes were kind though and when Adi looked closely into them, her own widened. She could see a person in there, like a photographic overlay, a transparent figure that reminded her of somebody. Somebody she liked. A lot. But she couldn’t focus enough and when her eyes blinked, all that was there was the wolf.
Suddenly his ears pricked up. Muscles and tendons tensed under her body and with a quick shuffle, the animal squirmed out from under her. Adi fell onto the ground with a huff. It didn’t hurt, it was still a dream after all, but something was wrong. A feeling of dread crept up on her and when she raised her head, she saw that bright blue sky had turned into a maelstrom of grey and black clouds. That couldn’t be good.
Wake up, wake up, wake up! Adi always managed to wake herself up when dreams turned bad before. When she was a kid, she could even continue where she left off if she got woken out of a good dream. Why didn’t it work now? Her furry companion reacted to the threat as well. His furry butt turned towards her, the wolf stood in front of her, neck hair on edge, both front legs stiff and anchored to the ground as if he were trying to ward off an attack. What could possible freak out a huge powerful predator? Adi looked in the direction the wolf was facing but couldn’t see anything but swaying grass.
Then beating wings, loud as bull whips, sounded right above her. Adi’s head snapped up, just in time to see a black shape hurdle past her field of vision. Adi gasped and twisted her body out of the way but couldn’t avoid the sharp beak tearing a hole into her sleeve. What the hell was that? Before she could react, she felt her skin tear when another bird-like creature attacked. Adi screamed when the pain burned through her like a knife cut. There was no time to check her injury with more and more attacks happening quickly.
Adi felt her hair being torn off her scalp and when she touched her head, her hand came back covered in blood. She heard her friend growl and snarl as he jumped as high as he could to defend her. There were just too many sharp claws and beaks. Adi cowered on the ground and covered her head with her hands that were torn mercilessly. A sharp yelp made her look up and she saw the wolf being beaten back by a cloud of creatures. They weren’t birds exactly, more like caricatures of what some mad artist might conjure up.
Then an unbearable pain tore through her left eye. Her remaining eye stared in disbelief as a creature retreated triumphantly, clutching an eyeball with trailing nerves and muscles in its beak. Adi’s mind wailed in horror. This couldn’t happen to her, why her, never her! And just before her second eye was torn from her skull, her friend and protector turned tail and abandoned her.
Adi shot up straight in bed, her breath whistling through her heaving chest. Her exhales sounded like muffled screams to her and it took a her a moment to realize that she wasn’t blinded. There were no birds or wolves or any other weird creatures in her bedroom. Adi grabbed for her phone and turned on the flashlight app. She sprinted towards the switch and bathed the entire room in bright light. Her hands were shaking and she poured herself a glass of water in order to calm down a little. The pain and terror still echoed in her mind. There was no way she would go back to sleep in the dark. Or at all. Ever.
Adi slowly walked towards her bed. The shadow under her bed had different shades and textures. It moved when her toe pushed against a sweater sticking out from the darkness. She gulped and her mind went into overdrive. What if there was something under the bed? What if it grabbed her ankles just as she got in? With that comforting thought, Adi took a giant leap from standing and landed in the middle of her mattress. Her heart was racing. She pulled the cover around her heck, barely resisting the impulse to hide underneath completely. Nope, the light stayed on. Definitely.
While her heart took a little while to slow down, Adi tried to focus on something positive. Her thoughts landed on the irritating but seriously attractive boy Honi. What an odd name, she thought for a moment before she drily acceded that her name wasn’t exactly the most usual either. Adalwolfa. Nobel Wolf. Who would curse their daughter with a name straight of a Prince Valiant novel, seriously?
Thinking of wolf, what about that wolf in her dream? Adi sighed tiredly. Before her dream had turned to all hell, she had felt so safe with the large animal, so cared for, so … loved? Whatever. With a snort, Adi turned over and as the bad dream drifted away like cobwebs, she tried to catch another few hours sleep before her alarm went off in the morning.