“You can't stop the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
...is to press play.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
Tala was in a place that seemed familiar but was not anything she had seen before. The room itself was suffocating. Tala hated closed spaces. Tala put her hand on the wall as if it would open with a touch but that did not happen what did happen was the supposed painted white cement walls that had surrounded her were now glass and completely clear. Humans filled the outer room bustling around each another task was occupied with. Both the men and the woman wore white coats. Different words on the pockets of each coat. A man stepped in he did not wear any white in fact the only color he wore was black and a long shade even though nothing was on his head covered his face. It was as if someone had smeared charcoal all over his face making it so his features were impossible to see. Now that Tala was looking, everyone in the room had the same sort of face.
“Help” Tala screamed tears started to fall down her face. However, she was not sad nor was she hurt. Tala’s face turned a crimson red as she banged on the glass walls, why could no one hear her, not one person looked up or even acknowledged her existence. “Let me out! Let me out” Tala screamed repeatedly her voice growing hoarse, slowing fading out, but still she banged and screamed tearing at her vocal cords. The scientists continued their business even as she screamed through her tears. Tears came steady now, and she stopped screaming, but choked on her heart wrenching sobs.
A scientist suddenly turned a long needle in his hand at the base of it was a small glass tube. A gelatin like liquid sloshed around inside it, a bit blue and a bit green. This scientist had part of his face Tala realized with terror for it was his mouth, and was a much scarier person that those without their faces for he had a wide smile. Not a happy smile you gave when a baby was born or food time was near. No, it was the smile that she would wear when she was about to pounce, a smile of one whose mind had left them, as they were drenched in the blood of their loved ones. An invisible door opened where the scientist stood. Tala tried to run out to freedom, but she could not, in fact, all she could see was the ceiling above her. Tala’s arms were suddenly restrained above her head and she could not move them but slightly the tight straps holding her rubbing her cold skin raw, and red. Tala’s feet stuck out from under her, though she could hardly see them as they were out of her head’s view, was the same. The bareness and cold cleanliness made her legs tingle.
A tapping sound came from her side and as she looked, she saw the same scientist flicking the glass, popping any bubbles that his eyes had found. Tala started to hear screaming again, just as before but this time it seemed far off as if in another world. The scientist’s mouth opened and started to say something. At first, it was hard to make out and sounded muffled and distant, just like the screaming. Tala concentrated hard and looked directly at the scientist’s mouth, the only clear thing of his face.
“This won’t hurt a bit,” he sneered. She wriggled in her restraints and tried to bite, or do anything to hurt the scientist, that was trying to inject her with whatever was in the syringe “stop moving” he scolded her as he grabbed her thrashing arm. She did not stop though if anything thrashed harder. A giant appeared above her grabbing her shoulders, literally making it impossible to move. “There you go, thank you Frank,” the scientist smiled up at the thick giant with a sigh, tapping the syringe again. Slowly he lowered the needle to Tala’s skin and the prick was cold and stung. Tala watched as the scientist tenderly pushed the liquid into a vein in her arm. She could feel as the tingly liquids lazily slowed her racing heart, making her blood pump slower, spreading an artificial sleep through her limbs and head.
“Now doesn’t that feel better, dear” A disembodied voice laughed over her head as the scientist walked away, before he finally exited the chamber she lay in. Tala’s restraints let go and she fell with a lump on to the ground paralyzed, and barely conscious, as everything took on hues of grey, darker and darker, before finally blackness blocked everything out.
“Help!” Tala screamed she yanked open her eyes, most of the pack was gone, likely hunting or showing the spring’s young the ropes. The only wolf near enough to her to hear her scream was Olive, who sprinted over.
“What?” Tala looked around confused “I – I was in a room full of humans? What happened? They put something in me, and, and, they had no faces!” Tala started to whimper tears fell down her face. She sobbed and sobbed leaning into Olive, as she was the closest thing to a mother that Tala had ever had in the first place.
“Shhh, it was just a dream Tala, just a dream,” she comforted and nuzzled Tala “come on Leela is waiting… and so is Marrok.” Olive spit Marrok’s name out as if a bug had flown into her mouth. Tala stood slowly any disturbance might bring her back to the nightmare world she had been in, nodding obediently like a child and let Olive guide her to the clearing. Olive shushed in Tala’s ears while Tala muttered “just a dream,” under her breath repeatedly to herself but she could not even believe herself. It had just been so real, the needle’s prick still hurt in her arm, and the dead weight in her limbs the liquid had given her was just starting to dissipate. Just a dream. Just a dream. Just a dream.
Tala and Olive pushed their way to Leela and Marrok in the sacred clearing with the big rock just as Alpha appeared on to top of it and started to give his big speech and updates for the season.
“Well, Autumn is has officially ended, Let us thank the great forest for the time it has given us for collecting our food, as the first snow has fallen and so the long winter will start. From now until the first spring, we will be experimenting with something that never happened before this day and it shall bring in fewer deaths of our pack and a stronger pack to us. This has been assured by my deputy Seth,”
Whispers erupted through the pack. Nothing had ever changed in the pack for years. However, no one wanted to doubt Alpha for he had been in office for many years and so his wisdom was great and far. However, maybe he had been Alpha for too long, had his mind gone? On the other hand, maybe it was Seth; he had been the one to come up with the idea of change. Even so, it could be a mix of the two. Tala picked up anxious whispers here and there as the wolves spoke in shock.
“SILENCE,” Alpha bellowed, his voice stopping even the Half-year-old young ones from their play. “This year will be our trial year, but my deputy has foreseen many healthy years with this to go on. I presume you will foresee this too. Therefore, this is my proposal; I say that we break into smaller packs for the winter- I am thinking four- and I will section the forest into four sections one for each pack. In addition, each pack shall hunt in that area assigned to them. My two deputies and me and my mate will each lead each pack and pick who we want in our packs including the children. However, do not be alarmed if you are to be separated from family or friends, you will be able to see them when eating and once winter is over. Now bark with me! Bark with me if you want a longer lived life! Bark with me if you want a stronger pack! Bark with me if you believe in Kyan!”
Barking reluctantly picked up, at first coming from a wolf here or there but slowly each wolf in the pack started to believe, and agree with in Alpha. Even the clueless pups barked along happy that they could have fun with the adults.
“Then let the picking begin!” Alpha backed down from the rock and even as he did Tala noticed Marrok saw something in him something cruel and corrupt, so he did not bark, even as others did all around him, Soon Tala stopped her agreement barking with Marrok. Both stood silent for a moment, before Marrok whispered in Tala’s ear that he hoped to be picked into Alpha’s little pack so he could get close enough to see what Alpha had put in his mind for the pack.
“Tala, Olive and Leela you are with me!” ordered Deputy Froths. The three happily made their way over to Deputy Froth’s little pack, excited that they had gotten to stay together for the winter for this year. Tala inside was forlorn in her excitement, for her mate was in Alpha’s pack and they would not see each other until the spring. At least, she thought, he had gotten the pack her had wished for, with his Father. She turned for one last look at Marrok giving him the promise of a spring together, and eating. Marrok did not turn and he did not give any signal that he had heard her so she followed her pack to their designated forest portion to know and see if they had any chance of survival this season.
Marrok had had to try his hardest to not to look back like the other wolves around him, some had even cried as their pups were pulled away from them. He had to look tough in Alpha’s eyes to get close to him, even if those eyes belonged to his ever-mysterious Father. A thought came to him, one that was very strange, but comforted him “I will be with you come spring, and we can eat together right?”Mates could communicate by thoughts and if he had really just heard Tala then it meant they really were mates and connected, Marrok just hoped Tala knew that when he did not eat with her she would understand, and that it was for everyone’s sake. Marrok squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and thought back before Alpha looked back.
“Marrok come talk to me!’’ Alpha commanded. Marrok hid his smile quickly under a straight face, everything was going according to his plan and he was going to find out what Alphas plan for the entire pack was.
“Yes, what is it sir?”
“It seems you have no one in any other packs eh?”
“Good, then it seems that that makes me want to have a short talk with you, young one, perhaps the duty of Alpha seems like fun?”
“it would be sir, what did you have in mind?” Alpha just smiled and trotted faster to his cave. Marrok followed knowing what would come soon.
“I’m sorry,” a voice inside her head said, it was not hers though, was she going insane? Perhaps, but is seemed quite illogical to her. Tala quickly forgot the voce and turned her attention to Leela.
“I still cannot believe that we somehow got put into the same pack can you?” Leela was blabbering again. However, usually if Tala listened to Leela then she could forget everything for hours, but today Tala kept tuning Leela out, unable to concentrate on the present. She could still not stop thinking about Marrok and how long it had been already since she had seen him. Perhaps the couple of days that she had been away from him would not have worried or bothered Tala if she could go to see him any time she wanted but just the knowledge of not seeing Marrok for three entire months excepting during the one meal that they would eat over winter tore her heart in two. How could it be that he did not care that they were going to be far way for so long? Had he lied when he had said that he had felt a connection too? Tala could not bear, could not let herself think about if that had been the case so for another day she turned her attention to Leela for she knew that her simple friend could always and would always be there to distract her from all of life’s terrible happenings and gruesome thoughts. “… I don’t think this pack thing will be so bad, I mean If there are little packs hunting one part of the forest at a time then share all the food we are bound to catch more!...” Leela’s voice faded into the background again a white and blue butterfly landed daintily on her nose. It had brown dots along its wings and quickly flew off before any of the other wolves noticed it. Tala stared as the butterfly flew off flapping its wings with all its strength before disappearing into the thick trees. Tala stared where it had gone forever it seemed, before Leela tackled her in a horse fight between her and Olive. “I’m sorry!” she exclaimed behind herself as she ran at Olive
“Oh you’re going to get it!” Tala laughed. She jumped onto Leela’s back, playfully grabbing a tuft of fur and gingerly shaking her head. Then Olive was on her back, complaining how Tala had butt in their fight.