For me the end of the story didn’t come until about a week after I got out of the hospital.
Are you sure this is what you want? I thought, making sure to form the question distinctly.
Very, was the firm response. I like you, but this body is all wrong.
It had taken the wolf remarkably little time to learn to form thoughts into words, something I had never known another animal to do. But then, after his experiences, he was hardly an animal as I understood the term. After spending months on end living, bodiless, inside the mind of an insane werewolf, and then with a demon as well, I had no idea quite what it was that he’d become.
On the other hand, he didn’t seem to feel a need to go on random killing sprees, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt while we both figured it out.
I’d spent the last week researching and figuring out what to do about him, and I was pretty sure I had the answer. It had been surprisingly easy to find a Siberian husky of an appropriate age.
Which was how I’d found myself here now, staring down at a litter of puppies. There were only three of them, curled up in various states of sleep next to their mother, a lovely silvery animal. Which one? I asked.
That one, came the firm answer, and he flashed an image of the biggest puppy in my head. It was young still, just a couple months old, but already promising to look every bit as beautiful as its mother. It had inherited her coloration as well, so far as I could figure.
I shrugged mentally. Your choice, I thought, reaching down and delicately stroking the pup’s head. My power had recovered enough that I didn’t have to think to touch its mind along with its fur. Its simple, happy thoughts slipped easily into my mind. At the moment it was mostly preoccupied with how nice it felt to doze with its siblings, although it was also putting some thought to how much it enjoyed being stroked, especially around the ears.
In the same instant the wolf moved gently out of my mind and across that connection to the puppy. It touched its mind, and seemed to slot instantly and perfectly into place. It couldn’t have fit better if the two had been made for each other.
And, who knows, maybe they were. I’m not a theologian, but it seems to me that if there is a God this was the least he owed to that wolf.
I don’t really know whether what I was doing was right. I’m not a priest, or a philosopher, or even a particularly moral man.
When it comes to predator psychology, however, I’m about as expert as anyone. And, in my experience, this puppy was old enough to have formed a distinct personality and a discrete mind. That was the only reason I was willing to do this.
It was hard to be absolutely sure without having ever practiced, but theoretically the wolf wouldn’t have any detrimental effect on the dog. He had a fair bit of experience at keeping himself unobtrusive in someone else’s mind, and I’d made sure to impress on him how important that was now. I felt confident that, after what he’d been through, he wouldn’t take the idea of subjugating another being’s mind lightly.
“That’s the one for me,” I said to the mother’s owner, a friendly young woman who seemed torn between pride in the dogs and sorrow that they would soon be leaving.
She smiled at me, belaying the complicated morass of emotions I—largely through the dogs—could smell. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
She? I thought at the wolf.
How was I supposed to tell? he—or maybe she, at this point—sent back indignantly. They all look the same at that age, and it’s not like your nose is worth anything.
Too late now, I replied, struggling to keep from laughing. I couldn’t think of any way I could get him back out at this point, and I wasn’t sure I would even if I could have. After all, they had fit together so nicely, and it wasn’t like he should even have a direct connection to the body.
“Her name is Snowflake,” the woman said.
I managed, with some difficulty, to smile rather than smirk. “It’s a good name,” I agreed. “Call me in a couple weeks and I’ll come back to pick her up.” The dog was mostly white and I guess I can see how you would come up with a name like that, but it still seemed a little inappropriate for a husky. Add in the wolf that was now sharing that body and it became genuinely hilarious.
I was grinning as I walked out the front door. I liked the wolf, but I couldn’t deny how nice it felt to be alone in my head again. It was a bit like the feeling when family leaves. You love them, sure, but it still feels good to not have company for a while.
It was a lovely fall day outside. The air was crisp, heady with the promise of snows to come not too long after my birthday. For now, though, it was still mild, with just enough of a breeze to be pleasant. I had to fight the urge to whistle as I walked off down the sunny street, even though I can’t whistle any song containing more than one note.
Life, by some strange miracle, was looking up.