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Silence of the Wolf

By´╝ÜTerry Spear

Chapter 1

With a snowstorm threatening, Tom Silver examined the tracks of the second wolf reported this week by a disgruntled farmer. The tracks circled the sheep pen and then loped off toward the woods. The farm was in the Silver Town werewolf territory—not that the human farmers had a clue they lived in an area claimed by a pack of gray werewolves.

Wearing an old jacket, hip-high rubber boots, and dungarees, farmer Bill Todd scowled at Tom. “Your brother said he’d take care of these wolves. Three weeks of threats to our sheep, and nothin’s been done about it.”

“We’re looking for them,” Tom assured him, standing to his full height.

“Sheep and calves are being threatened at different farms and ranches,” Bill railed. “Five. We can’t be up all night patrolling for wolves all the time—and your brother said we wouldn’t have to. I swear, if I see a wolf, I’m going to shoot it dead before it gets to my livestock.”

“We’ll get the wolves that are doing this,” Tom reassured him. They had to before a farmer or rancher shot an innocent werewolf or a wolf that was all wolf. He glanced at the tracks the wolves had left.

“The three of them arrived before sunrise. I heard a noise, came running out here with my rifle and a camp light, and shined it right into their glowing green eyes. When I set the lantern down and aimed the rifle, they raced off. I took a shot, but the damned weapon jammed.”

“We’ll take care of them. Do you mind if I leave my pickup truck here for a while?” Tom didn’t wait for an answer. He immediately stalked through the snow, tracking the wolves.

Bill called after him, “Hey, a snowstorm’s headed this way. You can’t hunt them now.”

Tom kept going. He appreciated the farmers’ and ranchers’ frustrations, even though Tom’s oldest brother, Darien Silver, took responsibility for their losses as the owner of the land the farmers leased. The pack couldn’t afford to have humans accidentally shooting werewolves or harmless wolves. Some pack members were too newly turned to have a lot of control over their shifting, particularly with the full moon approaching in another week.

Tom followed the trail, which seemed to indicate only one wolf had run this way. Tom knew better. One would precede the others, leaving what looked like one set of tracks to disguise how many were in the “pack.” The trail the lead wolf left would also make it easier for the others to follow.

Flurries whipped into a thicker curtain of snow. Tom wanted desperately to shift and run the wolves down. But his brother had ordered that none of the pack shift within five miles of farms and ranches until they resolved the matter.

Tom had only managed to cover a mile and a half from Bill Todd’s spread when his cell jingled. He didn’t have to look at the ID to know Darien was calling him and would order him home. “Yeah, Darien?” Tom continued to watch the trees as he followed the wolf tracks.

“Bill Todd called me. Said that fool youngest brother of mine tore off, looking for wolf tracks—unarmed—and the snow’s coming down hard, so there’s barely any visibility. He said, and I quote, ‘No damn sheep is worth the life of a good man.’”

Amused that Bill would say that, as much as he loved his sheep and wanted the wolves dead, Tom paused. The snowflakes grew fatter, nearly obliterating any open space between them. The snow quickly filled up each of the paw prints left behind.

Breathing heavily, Tom picked up his pace, not wanting to stop.

“Tom, we’ll get them. Some other time. I want you home. The snow’s coming down hard enough that you’ll lose track of them soon. Visibility is worsening.”

“We have to stop this, Darien.”

“I know. We will. Come home.” Darien sounded like he was asking, but Tom knew better. His brother was the pack leader and his word was law.

Tom stopped and smelled the air, hating that he couldn’t catch any whiff of which wolves were causing the trouble. He surveyed the Colorado blue spruce trees for any movement. He felt in his bones that the wolves were watching him, waiting to see if he’d keep searching.

Wolves didn’t normally attack people. But Tom and the rest of their wolf pack suspected these were not wolves but rogue werewolves—and that meant all bets were off.

“Next time, I’m not stopping for anything,” Tom warned both Darien and the wolves that might be observing him.

He saw movement. A gray wolf’s tail rose for a second as the wolf turned and bounded through the woods.

Tom took off running, forgetting he hadn’t ended the call with his brother. Darien could hear Tom’s heavy breathing and his quickened pace as he stomped over the frozen ground.