“Wolves!” The call resonated through the village, echoing from gritty stone walls. Fires flared as sleepy shepherds stirred embers awake, slowly pulling on lambskin vests and loose linen trousers against the predawn chill. Torches soon flared in the streets, drawn to the edge of town by the shouting.
“Wolves!” the cry cascaded down the valley from high stony pastures where the grass was still green despite the fearsome summer drought.
“DAD! DAD! Wolves!” Desperation tinged the voices of the boys. A few fathers shambled into slow trots, chuckling to each other, remembering their first summer in the hills, how every whisper of wind was sinister, and how their own fathers trotted up laughing. They jogged together, friends since that night, pleased with the idea that their own boys would this morning forge the same bond.
“DADDY!” The words shifted into terrified screams that rose inhumanly then skipped, screamed and skipped in a strange repeat. They men glanced and broke into sprints, hearing the voices split and merge and suddenly fail.
“Where? Where are you?” Deep voices splashed and broke against clusters of boulders. They knew exactly where the boys were, but the question came from somewhere inside demanding a response. None came. They ran faster, leaving intermittent frosty clouds of hot breath hanging behind. They ran so fast they almost outpaced the torchlight, until they crested the ridge to the hollow.
It was silent as they shoved aside the thornbush barriers the boys had erected. The men automatically split left and right in search pattern they had learned as boys looking for stray ewes. “Boys! Boys where are you?!” Their voices rose, angry with fear, colliding in desperate cacophony. “BOYS!” They strode through the flock, shoving aside animals that stood petrified. “BOYS!? This isn’t funny! Where are you?”
The searchers returned to the torch bearers, unconsciously wiping slippery sheep muck from their boots as they strode. “Where are they?” “What the hell is going on?” “You’d better get out here RIGHT now!”
Banded together again they turned to look over the quiet flock. Eyes shone back in the dark, fleeces reflecting red in the firelight. Red. Red like blood. They stared at the animals, seeing for the first time the paws. The long muzzles. The wolves — in sheep’s clothing.
For the second year I am participating in a month of daily writing prompts in the Nightmare Fuel community of G+. I probably won't write every day, and much will be dreck, but I enjoy the challenge and some of these stories may someday lead to something.