Saturday, February 26, 2011

FICTION: Angie By David Perlmutter

My name is Angela Timberwolf, but most of the critters who know me in the forest and in town just call be Angie because my real name is too hard for them to remember. I am of purebred descent, but that doesn’t mean I have a snobbish attitude; far from it! I can be anybody’s friend, even yours, if you let me.

I want you to know first and foremost that virtually everything you have heard about my species is a lie, and the material that is not lies has been greatly exaggerated. I may be big, statuesque even, and have dark black fur from my eyelids to the base of my paws, but that certainly does not mean I am bad. Those things you keep hearing about us- the hunting, attacking humans and dogs, that we tend to stay in the forest because we’re afraid of you- that is so wrong. I come out of the forest a lot and most of the time it’s to clean up messes most of those silly dogs and those lovely, tolerant forest creatures can’t get themselves out of. You know, outside interlopers, aliens, nasty humans- that sort of thing. They look on me as kind of a superwolf, which I am, but I’ll get to that in a minute. What’s more, I don’t need to hunt to survive; I do it occasionally when I’m desperate, but I have never recklessly slaughtered anyone just because I wanted to do it, or because I needed to gratify some repressed psychological urges, or what have you. You probably got those notions about what my basic existence is from those rotten fairy tales or that bald faced liar Jack London, didn’t you? It may have been like that in the past, but not now, thank you very much!

Anyway, there are some of you outside of the Anchorman Valley who are probably unaware of me and my exploits thus far, or know only of them through doctored and distorted versions of such. So I have been approached by the editors of this magazine to give my own version of who I am, my adventures and my super canine abilities, such as they are. If you’ll bear with me, I’ll let you know a little bit about myself and how I came to be stuck in this vaunted position I don’t entirely deserve. Really, I do, but I’m trying to be modest here! Did you get that?


My ancestry is very much like that of most wolves. We came out of prehistoric times and evolved to the point where we are today. There were some traitors among us who decided to live easy and feed off the humans, and from that we have the creatures you call dogs. Some of them remain completely arrogant in their dealings with us; they just assume dogs have always existed and that we wolves are some sort of antisocial prehistoric throwback (Jerks!). But I can’t say that about all of them, heaven forbid, since my boyfriend is, after all, a sled dog, and he would be very hurt if I said anything further that was negative about his race. (More on him later.)

Where my particular branch of the lupine family diverges from the straight and narrow path has something to do with the particular history of this area. During World War II, the American government built a road line for motorcars up here supposedly to protect themselves from attack from some bad foreigners; they didn’t give a care about the people who actually lived there because they built the thing over their protests. One night, it is said, a truck carrying some sort of green glowing rocks for examination slipped on some ice and dropped its entire cargo into a patch of forest where the ancestors of my people lived. A couple of small packs to which my parents belonged got buried in the debris, and the result was that they were exposed to some sort of exotic power source. They suddenly became super-powerful, able to run swifter than the other packs, strong enough to defeat them in paw-to-paw combat, and agile enough to duck and dodge the bullets of the hunters who shot at them, mostly under false pretenses, it should be said. Then one member from each of the two packs decided to mate with each other, and they created a cub who ultimately had all of those abilities combined, a veritable superwolf. Those two were my parents, and that cub was me.

I was born in the forested area near the town of Pixel, twenty five miles away from Anchorman, near my current home, but three thousand from the big town of Numb. My parents, though they loved each other very much, were total opposites, he being an aggressive, macho man’s man and she a cultured, respectable woman, but somehow their love managed to endure, especially once I came along. When my father learned I was a girl, he was quite upset because he wanted a boy, but mostly he kept his feelings to himself. But I sensed this always in his eyes, and I determined to myself that I would make him proud, no matter what happened to me.

When I was two months old, my parents began to educate me in what I apparently needed to know to survive in the “cruel woods”, as my father used to call them in order to intimidate me (It worked!). In the mornings, my father taught me how to hunt, to box, to wrestle and to climb trees and rock formations, as well as how to act tough in front of enemies so they would be put in their “proper” place in our old-fashioned predator/prey relationship. In the afternoons, mother took over and gave me lessons in cleanliness, good manners and conduct, maintaining a beautiful and alluring appearance and, most importantly in her eyes, using my feminine wiles to manipulate those who weren’t fooled by my macho posturing to gain the edge in a contest of wills. I was slow to learn at first, but as I got bigger, smarter and stronger, it became far easier. Soon, I was helping my father hunt and assisting mother in keeping the lair tidy. They still treated me like a little cub even when I got to be bigger than either of them. This became apparent when I began attracting the attention of the few boys in the area; when I got my first heat period, my mother actually lifted me by the scruff of my neck and placed me in a cave adjacent to the lair to keep them off. No way was I going to go losing my virginity recklessly, my parents said, especially with that super-lupine blood flowing through my body; the results could be disastrous. I pouted a little bit at first, but I soon realized they were right and that they had my best interests at heart. Thankfully, they still do.

But all good things have to come to an end sometime and, when I was a year old, my parents told me it was time for me to make my own way in the world. I had outgrown both of my parents, the lair we lived in, and practically every other animal around. I had also been starting to feel the immense strength, blinding speed and graceful agility that had been my birthright start to course through my veins, and I knew I needed a change. With my abilities, I promised my parents, I would attempt to become a force for good and make everybody around me rethink all the negative ideas and stereotypes they had about our kind. I hated leaving, even though I knew it was for my own good, but at the same time I had to strike out on my own and make something of myself independent of my parents’ fame. I left and haven’t seen my parents since, although I hope deeply that we will be reunited one day.


After a short journey, I arrived at the forested area outside of the town of Anchorman and quickly found the perfect place for a single girl wolf to set herself up in. The lair I found was spacious, comfortable and secure, being cut very deeply into a ravine. It had been abandoned by previous tenants a long time ago, but with my strength and endurance I had soon wrestled it into submission and made it comfortable in a modern lupine style. The best feature was just next door; a bubbling creek of hot spring water just perfect for diving into. As soon as I finished my renovations, I dived into it to recoup my energy, which soon came back to me. I make sure to come back to it every time I’ve been in a battle or fight, or on the very rare occasions when I go hunting, just to make sure I can endure long enough for the next one. And I am always more than satisfied with it!

Apparently, though, I hadn’t done something right, because shortly after I moved in to the lair, I was spotted by some birds who tattled about my unscheduled appearance in the woods. Soon, I was summoned by the forest elders to appear in a center clearing to present and explain myself. What had I done, I wondered?

It was nothing serious, however; they just wanted to know my intentions. The lair I currently inhabited, a few years before, had apparently been the home of a nasty wolf who had made himself the terror of the neighborhood and violently imposed his will on the other animals. They finally had to team up to drive him away. Was I going to be the same? I was emphatic in my response.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” I told them. “If I had wanted to impose my will on anybody, which I don’t, I would have started by now, don’t you think? Besides, I was brought up to be a good girl, and I intend to remain that way!”

They seemed to understand, but there was still some skepticism in their eyes. The generations of hunting genes, plus my super-enhanced abilities, gave me the ability to judge their hidden concerns almost immediately.

“What now?” I said, standing on my hind legs and putting my paws on my hips. “Don’t you believe me? Or do you still believe all those old wives’ tales about how vicious wolves are? Let me tell you, there is not an ounce of vicious blood in my body! I’m much more interested in having fun with my life than in terrorizing people- I’d much rather help you than harm you.”

An old elk pointed his hoof at me and made a gesture of contempt with it. I approached him.

“You don’t like me.” I said. “But I understand. My ancestors killed a lot of yours, for food and for sport. That won’t happen with me. I don’t hunt for food. I can exist just as well on plants and berries without disrupting the natural order of things.” Then I turned back to face all of them. “That goes for all of you, too. You’re dealing with a new kind of wolf here- one who wants to be your friend and your protector. I don’t deal in terror, like I said. If you want to bring a corpse back for me to eat, I won’t object; that’s fine. But I will never come into your communities and kill just to satisfy my base animal urges. That’s not my way. I want to be good- and I want all of you to think of me as that. You need an extra set of paws for anything- defense, settlement or whatever, I’ll be there. Just let me be on my own, and I’ll leave you on your own, and we won’t have any problems.”

I had converted them to my cause, and we shook on it. From now on, I would be on their side and they on mine.


It was a good thing they were, because I was about to face a couple of challenges that even I, with my enhanced wolf powers, couldn’t necessarily handle entirely on my own. I encountered them both on the same day, to boot: I gained a boyfriend and loyal associate on one set of paws, and a vicious, blood curdling enemy on the other.

It started out pleasantly enough, as I was walking through town on a pretty day. A lot of sensory distractions, if you know what I mean. But I was soon to come across a scene that filled me with horror- and passion- and changed my life forever.

I was alerted to the scene by some high pitched yelps that were unmistakably male in timbre despite their pitch. A swift run later and I found myself smack in the middle of the situation.

At one side was the predator, an enormous female husky with a splotchy white coat. I was a little intimidated since she was even bigger than I was, something I never imagined possible. But I was more interested in her prey because, at another time or place, I would have gone for it myself. It was the male I had just heard yelping. He was more my size, a Malamute with a sexy pelt of black-and-white fur and a pair of blue eyes that were held in the most sensitive and enlightened gaze I had ever seen in a boy. I knew that if I just had a chance to get to know him, we would get along famously, if you get my hint. But first I had to play the gallant rescuer and get him out of that situation. And even with all my physical power, it wouldn’t necessarily be easy, as I’d soon find out.

This became even more clear to me when, after taking a vicious swipe at the boy’s genitals that she only barely missed making, she backed him up against a fence on his hind legs, and, getting on hers, pushed him hard against its wooden back. He whimpered in pain, but she did not desist. Then they both dropped to the ground again and she raised one of her large legs over his head and fixed a tightened grip around his neck.

“You gonna give it to me?” she demanded curtly.

“No!” he said defiantly, in spite of the fact that he was being weighed down by her.

“Nobody says “no” to me, wimp!” she shouted back at him. “You’ll give it to me even if I have to sit on you all night!” And she proceeded to do just that, and while he moaned again, he made no effort to remove her.

I had had enough of this. My wolfish sense of right and wrong was kicking in, and this was just plain wrong. I proceeded to the pair and attempted to make things right.

“All right!” I said to the husky. “Enough of this! Get off of him NOW, before I MAKE you!”

She got up off him, leaving him cowering in the background as we prepared to confront each other in the way girls of our respective species are prone to do when we take a dislike to somebody.

“How DARE you abuse that boy like that!” I shouted with all the indignation I could muster. “Why I ought to…”

Before I could say anything further, she took a swipe. Fortunately, my agility allowed me to duck at the correct moment and she missed me. We then moved closer together, our noses virtually pressed together.

“I don’t let young powder puffs like you get away with that kind of talk!” she growled at me. “You’re awful snotty for a dog, anyhow!”

“Madam..” I answered indignantly “..I am a WOLF!”

“Well, that explains it!” she countered. “You wolves think you’re so much better than us dogs, don’t’cha? Well, listen carefully, runt: I own this town! And if there’s one thing the doggies who live here have learned, it’s not to tangle with Lizzy Husky without regretting it afterward!”

“Angie will tangle with you, Lizzy!” I snapped, pointing my paw at my fulsome chest. “And she won’t regret a single thing!”

My opponent backed up slightly, and then, unleashing a furious guttural roar, sprang at me, while our would-be swain continued to cower in the background. I tried my best to duck again, but she caught me this time. Her enormous power racked my entire body with pain as she punched me hard on the top of my head. I wobbled for a moment but then regained my footing. I fought back by socking her in the head in return, and she felt my strength and felt it hard as she temporarily collapsed on the ground. But she soon got up again and we stared each other down once more.

“You’re tougher than you look!” she said. “Didn’t think a pretty thing like you would want to get her face messed up like this!”

“You would know something about getting your face messed up!” I answered “It’s written all over you!” And it was, judging by all the cuts and slashes on her face. Still, she justifiably took it as the insult it was meant to be. This was made clear to me by the mad dash she promptly made to bury her fangs in my throat, which I thwarted fairly quickly.

“I’m gonna destroy you!” she said, clearly still wanting my blood.

“Not if I destroy you first, you cur!” I responded. “And believe me, it will be my PLEASURE!” I didn’t really mean this, but I was mad, and I wanted to make sure she knew it. She did.

Lizzy got up on her hind legs and motioned to me aggressively. I got on mine and met her challenge immediately. We wrestled for what seemed like hours, although it probably only took just a few minutes. The lead see-sawed between us, given that we were both so strong and also given that, almost immediately after I punched her, or vice versa, the one who was just attacked immediately became the attacker. I would grunt and almost be forced to my knees by her strength and she in turn would almost be forced to hers by mine.

Eventually, though, it was my youth and vigor which triumphed, or so it seemed. I forced her back against a fence, and, breaking her hold, landed a final powerful punch on her nose that I assumed would finish her off for good. However, I hadn’t counted on what she was planning to do next.

Lizzy had crumpled into a ball from my last punch and I assumed she would stay that way. But, na├»ve as I was, I had completely underestimated her. As soon as I approached her, she sprang up with an astonishing display of agility. I got up on my hind legs again, but we didn’t wrestle this time. Clearly, she knew I was too strong for her, and she’d have to find some other way to defeat me. And she had it. Her green eyes flashed, turning an ominous shade of jade. And, all of a sudden, I was seized by a sharp pain in my body that dropped me on my knees, defeated. Lizzy rubbed salt in the wound by karate kicking me across to the other side of the road.

“You may have the muscles, girl…” she snapped dismissively at me “…but I have the mind! And I’ll use it to break you- and that boy!”

Abruptly she raised a paw heavenward, and, as if by magic, a nearby telephone pole cracked off its base- and headed straight towards the Malamute boy who, still in his scared sheep mode, wasn’t moving a bit. It was up to me to play the gallant rescuer again. Just before the pole could make contact with the ground, or with the boy, I had inserted myself between them. With a great exhibition of muscle power, I prevented the pole from landing on the ground and threw it back, allowing it to return safely to its base with little obvious damage.

I turned around to face my nemesis again, but she was gone. I’d managed to prevent her from destroying the boy who’d been the pawn in this game. Still, she’d defeated me in battle, and wolves don’t take kindly to defeat, especially when villains like her cheat in order to win. But I had more important matters to attend to before I met with her again.


Once I had recovered enough vigor to move around, I approached the Malamute boy to have a chat with him. But he had already come towards me, legs and head bowed in the similar submissive position I’d seen him use when Lizzy was threatening him.

“Thank you,” he said, rather too meekly for my liking. I would have preferred more of a challenge, but this was okay too. He was cute enough, but he needed more backbone, more individuality. And if he wanted me to show him how to develop them, then so much the better. First, though, we needed to talk.

“You’re welcome,” I said in my friendliest voice. “Couldn’t let you get crushed like that, now, could I?”

“I guess not.” he said sheepishly.

I laughed at this, gently so as to give him the impression I was laughing with him, not at him. As he got to his feet, I continued to make conversation with him.

“I’m Angie,” I said, simply and directly. “Who are you?”

“Dexter.” he said, with some reluctance.

“Are you afraid of me?” I asked.

He nodded in agreement.

“Like you were of her?”

He nodded again. To reassure him I placed one of my paws around his shoulder in a sympathetic way.

“Well, don’t be!” I said. “I have absolutely no intention of being like that crone. You and I will be friends, partners…equals. I just want to get to know you better.”

He mused over this for a minute and then said:

“Nobody’s ever really told me they want to be my partner, or my equal, for that matter. I like the sound of that.”

“So do I!” I answered.

We stared at each other for a moment before beginning to dance around the snow like a couple of puppies. A spark was there between us, and neither one of us wanted to lose it. Even with my speed and strength, I couldn’t entirely out run him, because he was a Malamute and a sled dog and used to exerting himself with tremendous power at work. Socially, he told me, though, was another matter; he was so submissive when it came to girls that he would let them sit on him, literally, so intimidated was he by them. The idea that I would want an equal boy/girl partnership with him was something he obviously responded to.

Still, though, he had his limits. At one time during our first playtime, we wrestled playfully on our hind legs. He was strong, stronger than I imagined, and he threw me down one time, but my muscles were still bigger, stronger and had greater endurance than his. I slammed him against a tree, and playful feelings started giving way to love. I was driven by lupine lust, and was determined to conquer him with my feminine wiles and power. But he would have none of it. He liked being kissed, but as soon as I wanted to go further, he firmly broke my hold, got on all fours again, and lay down sadly in the snow. I approached him on all fours myself, and he growled viciously at me.

“What is it?” I said innocently.

“I knew you’d try something like that!” he said bitterly.


“That you’d try to manhandle me!”

I was shocked. My parents had warned me of the idea that somebody might take advantage of me sexually in an unguarded moment, but I never expected someone would accuse me of trying to do the same. But I knew he was right, and that I was wrong to try to force him to make out with me when clearly he wasn’t ready for it. I would have to apologize to him.

“I’m sorry,” I told him. “I had no idea you were like that.”

“I should have told you at the start.” he said.

“Well, I just assumed that you being a sled dog you would have had….”

“We do give off that impression!” he said, and we laughed it off.

Dexter, it turns out, was and is a virgin, despite my constant and continual efforts to corrupt him; he wants us to be married before he gives himself to me, and I’m fine with that. Because he wouldn’t give it up, he was ridiculed often by his sled dog buddies, but at the heart of it, they respected him for sticking to his guns. Not so most of the ladies in town, especially Lizzy, who looked at him as being a prize for them to win. Lizzy tormented him; like any other bully, she thrived on making him feel weak and unimportant. Because dogs, unlike my race, do not engage in inter-gender combat, and, in fact, idolize the females of their race, he couldn’t lay a paw on her. Undoubtedly, he would have perished if I hadn’t stuck my muscles out for him.

“You were my knight in black fur armor.” he told me.

“Well, I’m going to need a squire.” I told him in return. “Especially if I’m going to engage in combat with your old friend Lizzy. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to battle her alone.”

“I know all about her,” he replied. “Let me help you out.”

“Done.” I said.

And so, we adjourned to my lair to rest and plot what we were to do.


Our first stop was my little hot springs pool, and Dexter was very much impressed with it; he only wished there was something like that for him when he got back from his sled dog runs. Just like me, he felt strong and powerful sitting in it and rejuvenated when he got out. We sat for a minute, and then playfully engaged in a game of water polo without the ball; we even pushed each other under the water and wrestled for the fake prize. Then we resurfaced, and I held him firmly as we playfully kissed each other for a minute or so.

Then we entered the lair and sat down, and we talked for hours. We needed to get to know each other better if we were going to be a couple, and we did.

I told him about my background and the source of my super-strength, and how I didn’t need to hunt and kill as much as other wolves due to my special gifts. He seemed relieved about this, although he still seemed somewhat surprised that a “goddess” like me would chose such an “ordinary” boy like him for her mate. However, he wasn’t nearly as “ordinary” as his self-deprecating response to my questions about him would seem, just extremely shy. His puppyhood had been isolated from a lot of the other pups in town, due to the fact that he was his mother’s only child and she was extraordinarily overprotective of him. Eventually, though, he grew up and gained independence from her when he applied to become a sled dog. He was blessed with quick speed, powerful strength, remarkable hearing and extraordinarily crisp and clear vision, so naturally he ended up getting a spot. But the fact that he was a shy and somewhat effeminate boy prevented him from getting too involved or friendly with his colleagues. At least this was so until Spike, the lead dog, made him his deputy, considering that Dexter’s vision was considerably superior to his own and made him an adept navigator and a resourceful and thoughtful assistant. At least when Spike was around, no one questioned Dexter’s gifts and his power, but even Spike couldn’t protect him from being looked over by females, which he found intimidating until he met me.

The most fearsome of these females was Lizzy, of course. It was then that I found out more about her, and especially the touchy relationship she had with my new friend. Lizzy, unfortunately for me, was descended from the same group of wolves that had been empowered by the hot-rock spill of many years ago, but from a rival pack to the one my parents had come from. This was where her father came from, at least, and it was from him that she inherited muscle power clearly superior to mine in many respects. That was troubling enough to me; even with my extraordinary power, she would be a match for me with that alone. But that wasn’t all. Her mother had apparently also been involved in the spill and, as a sled dog, it affected her differently. Her strength was unaffected, but she gained extraordinary mental abilities that she passed on to Lizzy. Lizzy was therefore not only super strong physically but she was able to manipulate others mentally in a variety of ways. First of all, she could emanate rays from her brain and eyes that wounded her opponents and robbed them temporarily of their strength; clearly, this was how she defeated me in our first battle. Then there was the projection of her fearsome howl into an ear-shattering dirge that silenced any verbal opposition she had. And finally, and most scarily, she possessed the power to render opponents immobile simply by staring intently into their eyes; it made it easier for them to remain still as she tore them apart. Once she got into heat, this was combined with a fearsome sexual passion that made her Public Enemy #1 around Anchorman. After all, her super abilities and sexual passions, plus her essentially fearsome personality, did not necessarily mean that she would be on the side of the good. She quickly became the uncontested Queen of Crime, and gathered around her both girls and boys who shared her aims- and, apparently, her urges. Spike, to his credit, had engaged in a brief affair with her and tried to reform her, but she refused to go straight; all he ended up getting from the affair was a nasty case of tapeworm. He advised Dexter to stay away from her and guard himself if she advanced on him. Inevitably, she did, because his black-and-white fur and blue eyes were too much for her to resist. He turned her down sternly, and she began attacking him when he resisted her. That’s when I came in and saved the day, so to speak.

Once I got the whole story, I was unusually demoralized. I sat down on all fours and looked out passively to the door of the lair. I felt weak and impotent for the first time in my life, and I didn’t like it. But Dexter would not let me wallow in my sadness as he so often had in his. To him, I was too good to suffer like that.

“You’ll beat her- and I’ll help you.” he said softly and tenderly. “All we need to do is figure out how to do it. And I’ll be with you all the way. You let me know I wasn’t alone in life, and now I’m letting you know that it’s just the same for you.”

“Thank you,” I said, stroking his tousled head affectionately. Then we went to sleep, my strong right forearm pulled tightly and affectionately around his powerful body.


We awoke the following morning to the stinging smell of smoke and the crackling of burning wood. Right away I knew what was going on: the forest was on fire!

This was obvious as soon as Dexter and I got out of the lair. Flames were licking the ground rapidly and moving towards the trees that had not been consumed. There was already a large area before us that had been clearly and tightly singed. I knew something had to be done, or the forest animals, seeking revenge on a scapegoat, might finger me as the culprit. Some of them, I knew, still bore grudges against my race due to past experience, and they’d no doubt use this as a pretext to throw me out of the neighborhood. I didn’t tell Dexter this, but I didn’t need to; he saw it all in my face. But thankfully, he’d had experience with this; he’d helped rescue victims of fire before, and he knew exactly what to do, as I quickly found out.

“You go and try to get the folks out that haven’t been burned yet.” he said. “I’ll see if I can help out the ones that are still here.”

“Are you sure this will work?” I said “Don’t we need to stop the flames first?”

“We can kill the fire later,” he said, with a surprising level of control and confidence that I quickly came to admire. “We have to get the victims out first.”

There was no need for further discussion, and I quickly set to work at my assigned task while he went off to his. Quickly warning my neighbors in the northern woods of the conflagration, I helped get them out to a safe area while trying to contain the path of the fire. But it was a battle I couldn’t fight alone, and soon the flames were starting to lick my body. I feared I would be consumed as my breath became shorter, but Dexter came to my aid soon afterwards. He had found a bucket and with it had scooped up water from my pool and, bless him, had run all the way up to rescue me. The flames were soon out as he overturned the bucket and dropped the liquid sanctuary on the fire. Then I got my friends out from their hiding places, and he and I returned to my lair to survey the damage.

When we got there, I was surprised to see us embraced as heroes by the little squirrels and chipmunks who lived in the area nearest to me and were the first ones victimized by the fire. As soon as I had left on my mission, and before he came up to save me, Dexter had alerted the residents of the tree to their danger and helped them escape it before it was consumed by the flames. They were grateful to him, but did not know his name, and asked me to introduce them.

“Oh.” I said “Well, that’s my boyfriend, Dex….ter?”

The shift in my tone from praise to concern happened because in the interim, my beloved was captured and gagged by a shadowy felon, who was out of sight before I could rescue him. All the villain left behind was a note that robbed my cheeks of what little color they had. It said:






My friends asked me what was going on and I explained. As much as I would like to help them clean up from the fire, I said, I had to take care of something first.

“What?” they asked.

“I must rescue Dexter from the vicious creatures who captured him…” I said ominously “…AND started this fire!”


I came alone, armed only with my physical power, to the decrepit old ironworks that evening. The facility had been abandoned for years, obviously a victim of an ever changing and unstable economy, and its disuse made it a boon for people hiding out from the law, such as certain canine criminals. Clearly Lizzy wanted a showdown, to finalize our differences and possession of Dexter’s affections (at least as she saw it) once and for all. And I would be more than willing to fight for any and all of those things.

Sure enough, Lizzy arrived soon afterward, protectively guarded by a phalanx of her toughest followers. And they had Dexter, bound with chains on his legs and gagged with a rag in his mouth. Lizzy eyed him with highly suggestive eyes, clearly noting with her leer what she wanted to do with him. He was clearly aghast at the idea, as was I. I wanted to kill her right on the spot but, surrounded as I was by her thugs who eyed me suspiciously, I could only move with caution.

Right after that, Lizzy dismissed her entourage, indicating that this fight was between “me and the wolf.” But, to intimidate me, Dexter remained. He was stuck upright on the back of a board, so that he could better witness, it seemed, the demise she had in mind for me. After all, the ironworks was located on a high cliff, and anyone who fell off that cliff met certain death. Both of us would have to negotiate our moves with caution.

On all fours we advanced towards each other, and I got right to the point.

“YOU!” I snapped at her. “You were the one who started that fire, didn’t you? You knew I’d be occupied rescuing everybody, and that way you could sneak in and take Dexter! You knew I loved him and wouldn’t want to see him hurt! And you especially knew that the idea of you deflowering him was something I couldn’t possibly stand. This was all a trick- a trick that you set up to get me out here so you could destroy me! Well, you got me here, sister- but I won’t be defeated without a fight!”

Lizzy stood on her hind legs and clapped her forepaws together.

“Very good, Wolf!” she answered “You passed this test! But I’m afraid you won’t be passing any more of them!”

“Oh, no?” I responded, getting prepared to fight on my hind legs.

“No!” she said with a definite edge of menace. “I would have had old Dexter lined up to my cause if you hadn’t made him your cuddlemuffin! Ergo, I have to eliminate you to get to him. He deserves to have a girl with a better bloodline, anyhow!”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” I answered.

“Just this- I’m better than you and always will be!”

“That’s tough talk- coming from some one who’s all cur and no class!”

That was it! She lunged at me and we were off and running, again.

It was basically like when we met a couple of days earlier, but things were slightly more against me this time. I could see that she had spent a lot of time saving her strength, and could feel her increasingly renewed power as we wrestled. Even with my grit and determination at their highest, I couldn’t hold her back for long, and the stress of dealing with the fire and Dexter’s capture had rubbed by nerves raw, and so my overtaxed muscles weren’t necessarily in the mood for a fight. Sure enough, I was down on my knees soon enough as she stood, gloating over me in what was for her a moment of triumph.

“You know” she mused “Maybe I’ll let you and the boy have each other. You are a couple of weaklings after all.”

If she was trying to goad me into battle again, it worked! Reinvigorated, I lunged for her throat and we began to fight again. My anger renewed my strength, and I soon had her in the position I had been in only moments before. A solid punch from my paw and she was soon clutching herself in pain, wounded.

But suddenly came another reversal for me. Her eyes flashed total green as I laid my paw on her again, and I was thrown up into the air, rotated a couple of times, and then thrown flat on the ground. Then my legs became rigid and I was transformed into a statue. I couldn’t move a muscle.

This was exactly was Lizzy wanted. She came up to me and unsheathed her claws. With one powerful, debilitating stroke, she cut a gaping hole on the side of my face. The pain racked my body, and immediately I felt a weakening sensation, but the spell I was under prevented me from moving. Clearly she was going to beat me to death, and I could do nothing to retaliate. Then she began punching me in the face repeatedly, and I became weaker and weaker with each blow. The loud, vicious laughter in her ears reminded me that I was beaten and that, just as she wanted, I was front and center at my own demise. And I could do nothing to stop it.

Fortunately, while I could do nothing to stop it, I had a friend who could. Dexter was seeing all of this going on, and he was seized with fury as he saw me being beaten. With a tremendous effort he broke his chains, spit out the rag in his mouth, and commanded Lizzy’s attention with a furious growl.

“Get back there!” she ordered him as he advanced on him. “I own you now!”

But he was no longer afraid of her; I had shown him the way, and he was acting it out. He advanced on her with violent intent, based on the fact that she had harmed me so badly.

“Don’t try nothing stupid, Malamute!” she said impotently. “You’re not supposed to hit ladies!”

“Which is something you’re not!” he shouted in her face.

And he brought his powerful right paw down on her head, striking her over the head sharply. The spell she had cast over me was broken, and I was free once again. I lunged at her, and this time she was the one who was not in a position to fight back. With Dexter watching on and encouraging me, I got my revenge. I cut her as viciously as she had cut me, and gave her a beating worthy of a wolf with super strength. I had held back for too long based on my fear of committing criminal violence, but it didn’t matter anymore. For all she had done, she deserved to be whipped soundly by me. And she was.

Just before I could close in for the satisfaction of the kill, however, Lizzy tricked me one more time. With what remained of her strength, she threw herself off the cliff, howling as she did, and fell hundreds of feet, presumably to her death.

Dexter looked down the cliff after it happened, and he summed things up .

“She’s gone now.” he said rather solemnly. “You’re safe now, Ang’.”

“You too, Dex.” I said. “Don’t forget- she hurt you as much as she did me. Mental wounds hurt as much as physical ones. But I wasn’t in any position to beat her on my own; she would have finished me off for sure if you hadn’t come to my rescue.”

“You needed the help,” he said modestly. “And I wasn’t going to let a few chains hold me back.”

“Now, I don’t want you saying anything bad about yourself any more.” I warned him. “You are a brave dog and a hero. Nobody can say that you’re not. And if anyone still thinks that way, I’ll rough ‘em up for you.”

“Same here,” he answered. “You’re my hero. I wouldn’t have done most of the stuff I did over the past couple of days if you hadn’t shown me how to be myself and that I can really matter to people if I help make a difference. But I don’t know about that whole “roughing up” thing.”

We laughed loud, cathartically and therapeutically.

“Listen,” I said “I know what will help us both.”

“I know what you mean.” he said. “Race you there.”

“You’re on!” I said.

We headed off for the security and the comfort of my hot springs pool. From now on, it would be forward for us into the future. Who knows what troubles we would face? But we no longer had to fear the future- we had each other now, and for the time being, that was all that mattered.

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