Fake Wolves





Fake Wolves




I slammed the paw down on the trail so hard it almost broke. It didn’t hurt. This one was

attached to a stick and was bought on the internet. It created realistic wolf tracks and modeling

clay covered with mud looked like wolf scat. It fooled the tourists. I don’t blame them for being

susceptible, they wanted the chance to see wolves and they thought I was an expert since I was a

park ranger before I started Abby’s Wolf Tours. The problem was there were no wolves here, in

fact I haven’t seen one around here for years. Now, with legal wolf hunting, I doubt I ever will.

What I did worked. People called me every day booking tours for a chance to see wolves.

They trusted me. I covered every detail even using real wolf fur scattered around the tracks,

which I measured to the exact size. The size of them made people gasp. Many people rolled the

fur between their fingers experiencing some kind of emotional reaction. It was real. The details

mattered.

The sound of crunching leaves made me freeze. I stood at the edge of a hill and couldn’t

shake the feeling that I was being watched. I stared into the woods, but nothing moved. After a

few minutes, a few ravens took off. The birds frequently traveled near wolves to pick up scrapes

of kills, but this time they were after a road-killed elk that I passed off as a wolf kill.

I looked out over the hill. The woods went on forever, a few buildings and dirt roads

broke the serenity, but it was beautiful. Dark clouds formed in the west and I knew it meant

snow. 



I turned around and froze. Two wolves stood thirty feet away from me near the road-

killed elk. Their yellow eyes glared at me. They never blinked. I looked away. The wolves

looked enormous at this distance. I noticed that one of them had a unique white tipped ear. Chills

ran through me. I stepped backwards and stood on the edge of the hill.

They looked up at the sky and let out a long mournful howl. It echoed through my soul.

They stepped forward and I lost my footing. My body tumbled like a rag doll down the hill until

I stopped in a group of bushes. Pain seared through my leg. Above me, the two wolves looked

down then walked away.

I tried to get up the hill, but my leg offered no support and I tumbled backwards every

time. Snowflakes started to fall. Night was coming along with freezing temperatures. I needed to

get out. I stopped carrying a cell phone a few months ago. Another ranger I dated kept calling

me. He was nice to me, but I couldn’t let him know about my phony tours, so I avoided him and

the phone.

I gave up. Behind me was a river filled with cold water and rough currents. It was not an

option. The irony of it struck me. A woman running fake wolf tours killed after seeing real

wolves. Nobody would believe it. After a few hours, I began to doubt I would survive the night.

A noise above me made me look up.

“Hey.” Someone yelled out.

“I’m down here.”

Two men looked down at me. I saw the rifles slung over their shoulders. Hunters.

“Stay there. We got rope.” One of them lowered themselves down and helped me out.

I limped, but otherwise was unharmed.

“How the hell did you find me?’



 “We saw tracks. Wolf tracks and followed them here then we found this.” The one man

held up my stick with the fake wolf paw on it.

“You hunt wolves?”

“It’s legal to hunt wolves. I don’t know about what you’re doing.”

“There are no wolves around here, so I make tracks to show tourists. I need to live.”

They laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“There are wolves here. We don’t care about your fake tracks, we followed real ones and

know we’re close to some big ones. They’re worth a lot of money to us.”

“I…” I looked around. Snow started to stick on the ground. The two wolves would be

easy to track for these men.

“Thanks for helping me.”

“How did you fall?””

“Stupidity.” I started to limp away then turned back. “Thanks for saving me.”

They walked in the direction the wolves headed.

When I reached the office, I cancelled all the scheduled tours. I packed up everything.

The next day, I looked for the wolves while removing all my fake tracks that the snow

didn’t cover. There was no sign of the hunters or wolves.



I stood outside the head ranger’s office. The application in my hand was for winter trail

maintenance and cabin upkeep. It was a cold, lonely job, but I took it. No more fake wolves. I

started to answer my phone calls, even those from the other ranger. My leg healed.

  



Everything calmed down until I read the local news. Two wolves hung upside down from

a rope while two hunters stood next to them. One of the wolves had a white-tipped ear. I

clenched my fist. It was near the fake tour location and more hunters would flock there.

I drove over snow covered roads until I reached the location. I pulled out my fake paw

and some fur I collected. I made it obvious this was a fake spot so they would question the

hunter’s location. I stuck fur to a tree and made tracks like I did before.





A shot rang out. Fur flew everywhere when the bullet hit its target. The hunter moved

closer. Pieces of fur drifted down like large snowflakes. He found the tree and saw the bullet

lodged in it among the fur. He shook his head and picked up his phone.

“There’s no wolves here. You we’re right. Those hunters lied about the location.”

He walked away. “Damn, fake wolves.”

On a cliff, a lone wolf sniffed the ground then ran through the snow to join the pack in

the north.





William Falo



William Falo writes fiction and occasional poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ginger Collect, Ariel Chart, Newfound, Soft Cartel, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Fictive Dreams, and others. 

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