The men called out to Reece, but there was no answer. They retraced their steps but couldn’t pick up Reece’s trail. Micaela needed to get past what Adam saw and to Reece’s vision. She would not leave another child fatherless. How could she find Reece without touching him? Then, in Adam’s memory, a gift from the gods, Adam found Reece’s rifle at the edge of the path and picked it up. The same rifle he’d used since he was a teenager. The stock of the gun was infused with Reece’s sweat, his skin cells, and his energy. Micaela followed the energy into Reece’s mind. Chaotic images flooded her. The part of her that was separate and logical hoped Adam couldn’t see what she saw.
The hand clamped over her mouth was barely human and covered with hair or fur that scratched her face. No, not hers… Reece’s mouth. She struggled to keep her mind apart from Reece’s. She sensed danger if she was sucked in too far. Reece fought back against the beast until it dropped him to the ground. A blow to his head left Reece/Micaela dazed. The creature dragged him into the forest, threw him over its shoulder or, maybe its back, Micaela wasn’t sure, it didn't feel like it walked upright. The image was lost. Reece had blacked out.
Every nerve in her body strained to regain the thread of contact. If she didn’t, Reece was lost. I don’t know how to do this, I’m not strong enough, she cried out to the darkness in her mind.
Voices, chanting seeped into her from beyond the blackness. Barely audible at first, they grew louder. She heard the crackling of a fire. Una whispered through her mind, “We are here. We will help you until you can make the journey alone.”
A new image appeared. Adam was gone, the others were gone. She stood alone outside Joshua’s Cave. They had played as children in this cave tucked into the side of a ravine. As she walked in, a low moan reached her ears. She knew she hadn’t left the porch, yet she felt the mat of pine needles under her bare feet. Where had she lost her shoes? She reached out to touch the damp moss covered rock, her hand passed through it.
Another moan. She couldn’t see more than a few inches ahead. In the darkness she'd never find Reece or know if the beast was still here. She held her hand out again in what she knew was a futile grope in the dark. This time a small glowing orb formed in her palm. She curled her fingers around the edges of the softball size object. It was bright but cool to the touch. It allowed her to see several yards out. In the light, she saw Reece naked and propped against the rough cave wall; his head lolled to one side. His torn and bloody clothes scattered around the cave. She could smell the air; it reeked of blood and beneath it the musky scent of sex. A new vision of what had already occurred materialized before her. A vision within a vision. Whatever it was stalked into the cave with the unconscious Reece. The beast was definitely female, but more wolf than human. Unable to stop what she saw, Micaela screamed in frustration.
The beast stripped away Reece’s clothes inflicting the first set of wounds. Reece jolted from unconsciousness and he tried to scramble away. (Omitted adult content) It made a sound that was a cross between a hum and a growl. It sounded like a chant. Reece’s eyes glazed over and he stopped struggling. Had the beast somehow gained control of his mind? (Omitted adult content) Micaela watched helplessly. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Reece regained awareness. His face twisted in horror and rage as he swung at the she-wolf. She lunged at him again, this time clamping her jaw into his shoulder. He brought his knees to the creature’s abdomen and kicked up with his two feet to gain leverage. She lost her
grip and staggered back. She howled, a furious sound, and slashed at him tearing into his chest and flinging him against the cave wall. Without a further glance at him, the creature turned and left the cave. The air shimmered and Micaela was back in her original vision of Reece dying in the cave.
Reece’s eyes fluttered open. “Micaela?”
“You can see me?” If he could, there was hope. She smiled at him.
“I never thought you’d be the last face I saw.” Reece’s skin was pale, almost translucent.
“You are not dying.” She hoped she sounded optimistic. Two of his ribs jutted out from under the torn chest muscle.
“Could have fooled me.” He coughed out a laugh. Blood sprayed from his lips as he struggled for air.
“Hang on, please.”
“Don’t tell Peggy what the she-wolf did to me. Peg doesn’t understand the power your totem animal can have over you. How it can make you do things.” Reece squeezed his eyes shut.
“I won’t. I know how hard these things are to explain.” She tried to reach out and take his hand, but like the wall her hand passed through his.
His voice was a broken whisper. “I know you two aren’t close anymore, but promise me you will tell Peg, she’s the only one I ever loved.”
“Tell her yourself. No child should grow up without a parent.”
“Child? Peggy’s pregnant?” A red-tinged tear trickled down Reece’s cheek.
“Yes. Hang on, I’m going for help.”
“I’ll try to be here when you get back.” His head slumped forward.