Wolves of Darkness Rerun
by Jackie Williamson
Copyright 2010 Jackie Williamson
THE TRACKS IN THE SNOW
Involuntarily I paused, shuddering, on the snow-covered station platform. A strange sound, weird, and some how appalling, filled the ghostly moonlight of the winter night. A quavering and distant ululation, which prickled my body with chills colder than the piercing bite of the motionless, frozen air.
That unearthly, nerve-shredding sound, I knew, must be the howling of the gray prairie or _lobo_ wolves, though I had not heard them since childhood. But it carried a note of elemental terror which even the trembling apprehensions of boyhood had never given the voice of the great wolves. There was something sharp, broken, about that eery clamor, far-off and deeply rhythmic as it was. Something -- and the thought brought a numbing chill of fear -- which suggested that the ululation came from straining human throats!
Striving to shake the phantasy from me, I hastened across the icy platform, and burst rather precipitately into the dingy waiting room. It was brilliantly lit with unshaded electric bulbs. A red-hot stove filled it with grateful heat. But I was less thankful for the warmth than for the shutting out of that far-away howling.
Beside the glowing stove a tall woman sat tense over greasy cards spread on the end of a packing box which she held between her knees, playing solitaire with strained, feverish attention. She wore an ungainly leather coat, polished slick with wear. One tanned cheek bulged with tobacco, and her lips were amber-stained.