Peka’s Showdown

Again I am the first in the Author Aerobics Challenge! This week’s challenge was Setting, and the theme was Home. Now I must admit, sometime’s I’m a little flighty and don’t exactly adhere to the theme. (Sorry Tessa!) But there is a bit of home mixed in here, isn’t there?

* * *

Peka flung the door open. Snow flew up in her face, eddying around her and blowing into the clingy fur that lined her parka. She slammed the door behind her, and grabbed the pail by the stoop. Halfway down the icy walk, she looked up—directly into the eyes of a wolf no more than ten feet away.

Instantly, Peka froze, and squinted. It killed her to do it—everything inside her wanted to turn and run back into the brick house, to dive back into the warmth and safety. Warmth and safety were rarely found here outside.

When she was a little girl, back in “Warmer times,” she had been taught: When you lock eyes with a wolf, you never look away. Never. She stood, determined, trying to gather up some courage to channel through her icy-blue irises. Still, nothing came. The wolf stepped closer.

Peka tried harder, lowering her head so she was nearly looking through her eyebrows, hoping to intimidate the despicable creature. She knew there were more than one hanging around. Here in the Westlands, where there was one wolf, there were at least a dozen—usually more—behind it. Many packs had been spotted these days—a pack as big as a hundred was seen up near the Suderleigh Cliffs not a mile away. Peka had a terrifying thought: Perhaps this wolf was part of that pack?

The dog brazenly stepped two steps forward. The wind scratched across the hard ground ruthlessly, blowing the thick fur around the wolf’s neck into a frenzied mane. The wolf’s eyes were a crystal-gray. And much more determined that Pekas.

But Peka stood, stone-faced, heart beating in her throat. She realized that she no longer had the pail, and at the same time saw it rolling in circles near the creature that was now backing up apprehensively. Did I just throw that at him? Peka wondered in awe. A new courage was found in her.

Finally, baring its teeth, the wolf trotted up to her. Peka, resolutely, stood still as it snapped at her ankles. Jumping up, it put both front feet on her shoulders, the hair on its back bristling.

And then, to Peka’s relief—that was it.

The wolf, like a shadow, quickly descended, and slipped away, looking back now and then, ears down, tail between its legs. It disappeared across a field of snow, into the black glow of storm-clouds on the horizon.

It had worked. Peka picked up her pail and headed for the well, whistling confidently. But nobody heard her—her notes were swept away in the whirling wind.

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14 thoughts on “Peka’s Showdown

  1. That’s beautiful. Such a different world to the one I see around me. I really enjoyed being there, momentarily, with the wolf and Peka. Made me shiver. Very vividly portrayed.
    Well done.

  2. Thanks to you, know I’m craving for some Jack London stories 🙂
    Setting is a challenge but you nailed it! I loved it- the little girl & the wolf…

    • So glad you liked it Lua! I’ve never read Jack London but he did wildernessy stuff like this right?

      It was supposed to be a sort of fantasy-world I wrote about years ago called the Westlands, which is in a perpetual ice-age. In the world, the cold was getting worse. You can see it in the reference to “Warmer Times,” I threw in there. Did all that come across?

      • He did wilderness and he did the heck out of wolves.

        I liked it. Sure, there isn’t much to see in a world where everything’s white, but that’s what I saw based on your portrayal here.

        And it’s a story that could occur as easily in the real world a fantasy world (except for the reference to “warmer times”, which does imply the ice age, IMO).

      • Hmm…idea: Perhaps imply that her parents told her stories of warmer times. That would kind of give the impression of a long-ago time when the world was not snowy.

  3. I got the same Jack London vibe: the cold remote north, wolves, scraping an existence in the wilderness. I wasn’t sure if this was a fantasy world or not, and I was trying to figure that out. This could have been a very bleak long winter. I thought the “warmer times” were memories of summer, and not an ice age.

    Good job with the setting though. There was a bit of home in there 🙂

    • I’ve never read Jack London so you know it’s not plagiarized, lol!

      I see I need to work on the whole allusion to ice age thing here…hmmm…

  4. I have a kind of fascination for wolves. They hold this enchantment for me. Lovely story…your words drew me in. I could just feel the cold and see the girl’s warm breath a fog on air.

  5. I had to google “Suderleigh” because I was curious whether it was a real place, you own the number one search result. I didn’t think warmer times referred to the Ice Age but rather thought that she’d lived farther south and moved northwards.

    This reminded me of hiking in Denali where the rangers tell you not to run from grizzlies but tell you that if a moose charges you, run like the wind because they’re not going to stop. Nice setting and nice characterization.

    • Yay, I’m number one for an obscure and made-up place name! 🙂

      I can see by general consensus that I may have to retouch the whole “Warmer times,” thing! Thanks for reading!

  6. I love wolves, they are my favorite animal, and I thought this was great! And I thought of Jack London too. You should really read his books, they are amaing!

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