February 8, 2016 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

They wake up with a start, back in that hollowed out tree. It’s the middle of the night and the forest is completely silent, as if no time has passed at all. MeaZea scrubs at her eyes with one fist, trying to figure out exactly what was a dream and what was reality. It’s much harder than one would expect.

“It was real,” says WooFZee, softly. He stands up and shakes out his fur. “That was a dream from the stars. It’s – it’s something I know from before, back when I lived with my original pack.”

He doesn’t often talk about that time. WooFZee lost his pack when he was just a little thing, and he guards the memory of his original family as if sharing too many of them might take away their charm. The customs of wolves are kept even closer, lost to the shadows and the howling at midnight.

And so MeaZea believes him, completely, and she listens to him when he says, “we need to leave. Now. We need to find that river.”

They walk through the forest for days, with no real knowledge of where they’re going. WooFZee takes each step as if it’s going to be their last. When he finally catches the scent of the river, it’s like a spark is ignited beneath his paws. He races across the ground, dodging around the trees, leaping over the fallen branches and the clusters of topaz flowers.

Just like in the dream, the sapphires that make up the river are dark and murky. They look like they’ve been coated with cinders and scuffed up something awful. Nothing is reflected in the waters; not MeaZea, not WooFZee, and not the stars shining high above them.

“Does it look this way because of the fallen star?” MeaZea reaches out her hand, but her fingers stop just shy of touching the water. The air above it is cold as ice – and the water itself, there’s something wrong with it. She can feel it, as surely as she can feel her own heart beating.

The river is sick.

More than that, it’s dying.

“I don’t know,” admits WooFZee. “We didn’t…no one liked to talk about dealing with stars. It was a private thing, and a rarity. I was little. I don’t remember many of the stories, not fully. Everyone just…they looked sad when they told them, like there was something that they weren’t telling the pups.”

And that, sadly, is often the case when it comes to tales told to children. There are so many truths left out and so much changed around that, when the time comes to fall back on those fables and legends, they just don’t hold up to reality.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author