The corn is dead already, dried husks withered and browned by sun and heat and drought. Sweat drips down the back of her neck; the wind whips against her, driving dirt and bits of dead plants against her skin, but still the air settles in her lungs thick, hot, damp. Despite the wind and debris, she wears her black hair loose, the fall of it covering her back, the ragged ends twisting against her hips.
She sniffs the air; ozone, a storm coming, but there’s little wetness to it. Rains come hard and fast, gone before they do any good. Microbursts that wash away everything in one place while leaving all else dusty and dead.
When she says, the world is burning, the others bark laughs, tongues lolling out, and yip, let it burn.
The wind carries the smell of shit and animal musk and, as they creep closer, a pinch of fear, just enough to make her mouth water. The scents of herd animals, sluggish with thirst and not enough fresh green food. She licks her chops.
Herds of deer are on the move, looking for food and water, even venturing into the suburbs, but they’re rangy, and chasing them down feels like too much work when the farm animals are right there.
She can almost hear Mom growl. Easy hunt meant they’d be discovered, hunted until the pack died out. It’s been such a long year, hot, dry; she’s tired. One easy meal will make them all feel better, stronger. Then they can hunt outside town, find new territory.
Dead grass at her toes, and the others near silent between cornfield and cows.
She drops, lets the change sweep through her, breaking bones, snapping sinew, tearing flesh; grinds down on the howl that threatens to rise from her throat. This close to the house, one noise will bring the humans running.
Four sleek dark gray shadows slip into the pasture. They are downwind and near silent, but something sets off the cows. The soft lowing grows louder, full of fear. The young to the center, bawling. Faster the wolves run, caught in hunt-lust.
She turns so fast she stumbles, only her speed keeping her on her feet. Again that cry, and she can nearly hear the all-too-human mama in it.
It’s just a cow. She’ll break some rules, but that is taboo.
Just a cow, and she leaps, snaps, blood gushing along her tongue.
The rest of the herd moves on, fast and loud; the pack settles in, gulps meat, tender, juicy. They make short work of it, gorging until their bellies hurt. Even so late, it’s hot, and she lounges after, licking her chops.
The same wind they used betrays them, hunter turned prey. Crack, and bright fire nearly takes the tip of her ear. One of the others yelps; she can’t tell which, and she twists, looking for the alpha, for direction. Then it crashes back.
She’s alpha now. There’s a human with a gun.
To be continued with August’s blue moon.