Of Fox and Wolf Chapter 3: Trust
The day was beginning to come to an end as Victoria walked down the sidewalk of the neighborhood. Orange light soaked the ground and the wind smelled of the autumn weather; cold and fresh. In the distance, children could be heard shouting and playing, with not a care in the world. And while the sounds were happy, the only thing it brought the wolf was a pang of sadness.
‘Sigh, I wonder what it would be like to have a group of friends like that. Just spending their time enjoying each other. Knowing exactly whose got your back, instead of worrying when you’re about to be stabbed from behind by some snake in the grass.’ The wolf continued down the street, contemplating these words, and making sure her tail was kept off the ground to avoid the recent rain.
Victoria drank in the scent of the air, a favorite past time of canines, but especially of wolves. Victoria was always proud of her nose and the range of smells it could deliver. She could smell the soil, moist from the rain. Sniffing again she picked up the unfamiliar scents of the playing kids. With one more inhale she gathered the scent of freshly baked cookies.
‘Mm, cookies sound pretty good right about now.’ As Victoria contemplated which kind they could be, her nose also picked up a familiar tang. ‘Huh?’ She sniffed again. ‘No, it couldn’t be. There’s no way.’ She knew it was not possible that scent could actually be real; could it? She just smelled it yesterday and she knew where it was supposed to be. And yet, here it was, dancing on her tongue.
It was the scent of the fox she helped yesterday! ‘No. This isn’t right. He shouldn’t be out here, not yet. It’s much too soon. That can only mean that something must have happened.’ The wolf attempted to rationalize why that fox would possibly be out of the hospital, especially after the condition that he was in after she last saw him.
‘Was it the bullies again? Did they really hate him that much to find him and exact revenge? No that doesn’t sound right. But then what could it be?’ Whatever it was, she was going to have to find out.
Making her way down the street, she was walking fast, taking sniffs at the air every couple blocks. ‘It’s getting stronger this way,’ she thought as she turned down the next street. ‘Well, this is definitely the scent of that fox, but I’m also picking up 3 more, and these are completely unfamiliar. Oh, I hope I’m not too late!’ Victoria dropped to all 4s and broke into a dash now trying to hone in on the fox.
Whipping around the next corner, Victoria’s paws pounded on the pavement, causing a bit of commotion from onlookers. While this type of running was possible for almost all the residents of Stone-Ridge, it was certainly not a common sight. Generally, it was frowned upon. Many thought that 4 running brought you closer to your feral instincts, which was regularly associated with wolves due to them being wilder than dogs. Often times this led to discrimination. Victoria didn’t care what those people thought, right now her only focus was finding her friend.
As she emerged from the blind spot of the buildings, she spotted what she sought after. In front of her she could see 2 dogs, one male and one female, who appeared to be police officers. Victoria also spotted a squirrel who was standing in the doorway. She appeared friendly enough, and seemed to be holding those cookies that Victoria was smelling earlier. ‘But where the hell is that fox?’ she wondered.
Victoria sniffed the air again to make sure that she was in the right location. ‘He is definitely here, but where?’ The wolf scanned the scene, trying to find any sign of the fox. At first, it all appeared correct, green trees, green grass, green bushes. But then, she saw it. A small piece of red fur was sticking out from the bush. It was too subtle to notice, less you were looking for it.
Victoria peered at the red fur from her hiding spot in wonder. ‘How does a fox so small get into so much trouble?’ Victoria mused to herself. However, her joking demeanor soon turned serious. She honed her eyesight on the fox, now able to discern his features. All her senses were fixed on him now.
She noticed his awkwardly hunched shape in the bushes and the pain that twisted his face. ‘Why did he leave the damn hospital,’ Victoria felt a twinge of anger when she thought this but she knew she would scold him later. Her ears perked up as she noticed the slight shifting in the fox’s feet. He was getting ready to make a run for it.
‘Not good,’ thought the wolf. ‘It looks like he obviously doesn’t want to be seen by those cops. Right, Victoria, think. How can I get him out of this?’ Contemplating a strategy, she noticed the cops were now conversing with the squirrel. Meanwhile, the fox seemed to move around more. Things were soon going to be set in motion and she still did not have a plan.
The time to decide was now. ‘Okay. It’s not a great plan, but it’s the only one I got.’ Victoria slipped back into the shadows and stealthily made her way along the building. ‘Right, now I got to find somewhere we can hide.’ Glancing above her, the wolf noticed a ladder which hanged from a fire escape. ‘Hmm, that could work.’
In one leap Victoria grabbed onto the rungs of the ladder, and positioned herself at the top of the landing. ‘If I am fast enough, I can grab the fox and we can escape across the roof tops. Gods I hope this works.’ Victoria pressed herself low and flat against the landing. She silenced her mind and started to carefully listen.
In the distance, she heard it. A scream of complete and utter agony ripped through the air. She knew it had to be the fox. And while she did feel a pang pierce her heart, she also knew she had to be ready for what was coming next.
Not long after, Victoria could hear the whistles of the cops being blown, along with yelling telling the fox to stop. ‘Okay, moment of truth. C’mon you dumb “Todd”, come this way.’ Like she said before, this was not a great plan. A lot hinged on Victoria having guessed the correct path for the fox.
As time passed, the wolf was beginning to worry. Did she really make a mistake with this plan? She didn’t know what she would do if she had. But before she let fear totally get ahold of her, she heard it. *Tap, tap, tap*. The sound of claws rapidly hitting the pavement echoed off of the walls of the alleyway. Finally, she saw the streak of orange enter the shadows.
At last, Victoria could see the fox’s form clearly. She saw his eyes were nearly shut; a grimace spreading across, with tears streaking down his face. He wasn’t going to last much longer at his current pace. “Hey!” Victoria shouted from the landing. “Grab onto this!” Hurriedly, the wolf gripped the top of the fire escape ladder and shoved it down from its contained position into its full form. “C’mon!” Hearing the exclamation, the fox instantly looked up to find its source.
James could not believe his eyes. Standing up above on the platform, was his beautiful wolfess. Her black fur silhouetted against the sunset sky and fir the briefest of moments, James could’ve sworn he saw wings. It was then that he heard the blaring of the whistle behind him that he remembered his current predicament. “Right!” he replied. The fox did as he was instructed and attempted to grab onto the ladder. However, he had forgotten about his broken arm and recoiled in pain as he tried to use it. “Agh!”
This was no good. Victoria, knowing how pressed for time they were, dropped down from the top of the ladder and hooked her legs in one of the rungs. Leaning back so that her paws were now hanging below her, she called out to James. “Quick! Grab my arms; I’ll reel you up.” Despite being in pain, the fox did as he was told and reached out.
“Sorry about this.” Swiftly, Victoria hooked her claws around the forearms of the fox, and cartwheeled to her front, all while holding her legs steadfast. The fox fought the pain from his arm and tried to focus on what was at hand. But what was really occupying his mind was the wolf. James could not even begin to comprehend the strength that she used to pull off that stunt. It felt like, one moment he was on the ground, and the next, he was lying face down on the fire escape. Completely out of breath, Victoria climbed up and joined her red friend at the top.
Not more than a second after, the police dogs reared their snouts into view. “Spread out, Jacobs; that fox can’t be too far from here.” Separating from each other, the dogs began their search of the area. The scent was still strong, he had to be somewhere close by. It was only a matter of time.
“Let’s go, we gotta move before they find us,” Victoria uttered to the fox in a low voice, barely above a whisper. Beginning to fully grasp his situation now, the fox nodded and got up to a low stance. Taking the lead, Victoria gingerly stepped forward onto the roof top, being careful to not make any unnecessary movement that might generate noise.
Each step was a deliberate move. As the paw was placed in front, weight was gently applied until a solid purchase was found. This was repeated over and over again until finally both wolf and fox were situated at the opposite end of the roof top. Looking over the edge, Victoria saw the open expanse of the city street.
‘Now it’s time to seal the deal and get out of here,’ decided the wolf. Scanning the street, she saw it. Right below the building, a truck hauling hay bales was parked within jumping distance. James saw where the wolf’s gaze was cast and immediately figured out what her plan was.
“No,” whispered the fox. “There’s no way in hell am I jumping off this building and into that truck, like this is some kind of damn cartoon! Are you crazy? This will never work,” James protested. The fox was not a huge fan of heights and especially not after recently bailing out a window, never mind the fact that his arm was still broken.
Hurt flashed in the wolf’s eyes. “Excuse me? Look, you haven’t exactly shown yourself to be the most model citizen around. You are literally running away from the cops, who, need I remind you, would have already caught you, were it not for my help. Now, ask yourself, do you currently seem like the type of person that YOU would trust? Probably not, but I’m willing to take that risk and believe that you have a good reason for all this. The question is, can you trust me?” finished the wolf.
That was the real question. Could he trust her? Before, James did not have a choice, this wolf basically thrusted herself into his life. While she did play the part of his savior, James did not yet know her true intentions. Was it all a ploy? Did they send the wolf after him in an attempt to lure him in? Never mind the police, if she really did work for them, then everything that he has done till now will have been for naught.
“Hey, “Blue Eyes”. Do you trust me?" repeated the wolf. A decision had to be made.
*Sigh*. “I do trust you, and you’re right. You have no reason to believe in me, and I have every reason to put my faith in you. You know next to nothing about me and yet, here you are, getting mixed up in this. I’m sorry for that.” James hoped he was making the right call.
“Good. It's about time you realize I’m just trying to help you here. Though you will need to make it up to me, and you can start by giving me your name when we make it to the bottom.” James may have imagined it, but he could swear that he saw the wolf’s tail wag happily for the briefest of seconds.
“Deal. So what now?” inquired the fox, despite knowing the answer.
“Now? Now comes the easy part; we let gravity do the rest.” Without giving the fox any time to think further about her plan, Victoria embraced him and jumped off the edge of the roof.
“This is getting us nowhere,” spoke a small shape, concealed within a black cloak. A hood was pulled over the form’s head, hiding their appearance from view. Stretched across the cape’s back was the symbol of a flower. Its red top was a stark contrast against the black, and its stalk bore razor sharp thorns. “I can sense them drawing near. Wouldn’t it be faster if we simply intervened now, instead of all this waiting? I could easily take them both out before either even had time to blink.”
“Patience,” replied a larger figure in similar attire, who was standing adjacent to the 1st person. A flower was also displayed on this one’s back, but its petals shown yellow, with a smooth stem. “I feel that our efforts will soon yield fruit. But we must not pluck, before the berry is ripe, Rose. There are forces at work which even I do not understand yet, but I do know that an opportunity will arise shortly.” The two were gazing over a balcony which overlooked a field of flora of all types.
“Ugh, you old geezer. You always want to do the slow and steady method, but I have shown that acting on impulse and being swift usually ends up working out for us,” shot Rose.
“And what would Madelyn think if you botched this mission before it had even begun, all because you have coals under your paws. We both know she would be greatly displeased,” countered the towering robe.
“Fine, Poppy, we’ll go with the molasses approach, but if this gets flipped, I refuse to be the pancake which gets drowned,” quipped Rose. Poppy simply chuckled, and the two dove off of the overlook in unison. Stretching out an arm, the claws of Poppy raked across the air and a purple portal was opened. Once the pair had been swallowed by the gateway, it disappeared, leaving only wisps of violet energy to disperse across the plants.
*End of Chapter 3*