With my eyes closed, I could breathe. My limbs, fingers, lips, face; the entire body was numb. I had looked up once when the snow started to be greeted by black and white static. The branches were obscured by my body’s placement in the net and my neck was so tense I could barely move it. I closed my eyes to breathe. Breathe. I am breath. I was breathing, sleepy, going to sleep. It must have been five fifteen by now when they all started howling.
“How are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m hanging in there.”
I laughed. I just started laughing. As they howled, I laughed maniacally. This is everything I had ever seen, heard, visualized. Everything I thought, exploding and in the middle of being stalked, flanked. I laughed and they howled louder.
How are you doing? she whispered. Are you ready to come down?
“No!” I screamed to the air. “I’ll play your fucking game.”
She was right behind me.
“You remember the agreement?”
“I remember everything. And I will play your stupid fucking game.”
“You have once chance, sweet one.”
“That’s all I ever need.”
“Not really a choice is it?”
And from my count there were eight wolves now. Four alphas, three betas, and one intermediary. I hung in the middle like that reviewing the rules.
1. Do not ask to see your death.
“Are you ready, sweet one?’
2. Trust the witch.
She blew hot air on my back to remind me.
3. Write it.
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“Something you want to say?”
“You fucking bitch.”
“Temper, temper, Ms. Salt, but you work better under pressure after all.”
She circled around me so I could see her green eyes again: slitted and vicious, lined in black pen.
“Watch the way a tongue freezes and fingers fall off. ”
I had done this already, burned most of it or erased it. Hid notebooks. Lost dreams.
“When the wind blows, you’ll feel them like an electrical storm.”
It happens twice, something said.
“Like a fire.”
Her tongue was red and wet.
“Guess who has the rest?”
I will fucking kill you.
“Girl, you better run.”

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