The Final Song
by Murph

"His song was ancient and pure. The song of the wind and that of the moon. The Ancient ones cried when his music faded forever from their ears, and the children's dreams went sour without his lullaby. In his music was contained the tales of all that ever was and a longing for what he knew was never to be.
Never again was his kind to travel boldly and without fear across the great expanse. Respected and revered by all that heard his song or saw his shadow pass. His song now a whisper, his bold step but a crawl, he gathered up his strength to cry one final call. He sang of sorrow for those who would never know and for those who knew too well that the song was meant to be.
When the song had ended and the echoes faded away, all eyes opened to what was lost. Tears were shed and souls did go astray when they knew they had gone wrong, but no one stopped to think of these things before the Final Song."
Written by Erica Simpson

Sharp, blue eyes contrasted against a black and gray background. The alpha male gray wolf stood completely still, and silently sniffed the crisp, April air. His finely attuned senses smelled the humans keenly, and his twitching ears listened to the sounds they made.
He glanced anxiously behind him at his mate and four newborn cubs. A low, whimper issued from his throat, warning his female. The emaciated, starving mother pulled herself up, and picked up one of the cubs carefully in her mouth. She walked as fast as she could to their nearby cave den, placing her crying child gently on the soft, dirt floor. She went back to repeat the procedure with each of the other cubs. Finished, she gratefully curled up next to them, surrounding her newborns with warmth and love. One of the cubs tried in vain to suck from her empty teat.
The alpha waited until his family was secure in the cave. His watchful senses never stopped tracking the humans, even though his weak vision never saw them. He remained vigilant until the humans passed. They never suspected his presence, and he did nothing to give it away. Satisfied that they were no longer a threat, he turned to continue his desperate forage for food.
"Walker, SLOW down!" Alex pleaded as she slipped on another pebble. She loved to go on camping trips with her fiancée. But, when he got on the trail it was like he had returned to his Marine Corps days, and he set a grueling pace. She brushed a stray, blond hair from her face, unwittingly leaving a dark smudge from the dirt on her hand.
Walker, hearing the frustration in her voice, stopped and began to make his way back to her. He glanced at the tall cedar trees and smelled the fresh, but cool, air. It really was an incredible day. I'm glad Alex and I decided to take some time off, and get away, he thought. Far away was more like it. They had taken the Ram as far into the mountains as they could, and had been hiking for three days since then.
He suddenly realized that he had caught up with Alex. Gazing at her beautiful, blue eyes, he noticed the black smudge that ran from her temple to her nose.
"I would have stopped sooner if I'd known you were mad enough to put on 'war paint!'" he grinned.
Alex looked at him uncomprehendingly. His cowboy hat sat back on his head, and he had shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. He looked so relaxed and happy. "Huh?" she managed to get out.
Pulling a white handkerchief from his pocket, Walker gently rubbed the dirt from Alex's startled face. "There, that's better." He teased. "You look like a submissive female again!"
"Submissive female?" Alex felt her face getting red, even though she knew he was teasing. She quickly grabbed his wrist and maneuvered his arm back behind him in an uncomfortable twist. As she playfully increased the pressure on his wrist, she whispered in his ear, "Now who's gonna have to be submissive?"
Walker was enjoying the nearness of her body. He instantly relaxed, and, easily pulling his large wrist from her tiny fingers, he swung around bringing her close in front of him. Alex barely had time to catch her breath before his lips closed on hers in a deep kiss. She moaned softly and rubbed her hands up and down his back. And then she dipped her hands into his back pockets, caressing his taut muscles.
Immersed in the kiss, it eventually dawned on Walker that they still had to find and set up a campsite before nightfall. Which wasn't too far away. He sighed and ended the kiss to Alex's disappointment. She made a face and pulled her hands from his pockets. Walker squinted his eyes at her like he usually did when he was teasing.
"It's going to get a little cold out here for that." he began.
"Chicken!" Alex shouted to his surprised face as she sprinted up the trail ahead of him. Shaking his head, he followed her fleeing form as it disappeared behind a bend. His breath caught in his throat when the next sound he heard was her bloodcurdling scream!
"Alex!" Walker shouted, dropping his pack as he ran toward the sound of her scream. He ran full speed around a turn and plummeted to a halt. His beautiful fiancée was standing stock still in the middle of the trail. Her breath was coming in short gasps as she stared at the rattlesnake that lay coiled only inches in front of her. The snake was about to strike.
Walker took in the situation immediately. Slipping his Bowie knife from its leather holder on his belt, his arm flashed forward. The sharp blade severed the snake's head from its body. The terrible shaking of its tail continued for a moment until, it too, was silent. Walker automatically counted the rattles. Six. He shuddered at what that much venom could have done had it entered Alex's system.
"Oh, Walker," she managed to get out. "Did you have to kill it? It was my fault, I should have been watching where I was going." Putting her hands on her hips, she frowned at him.
Walker, slightly annoyed, shook his head. Despite her danger, she was worried about the taking of a life, any life. "His bite might have killed you, Alex."
Alex looked at the dead snake again. It was one of God's creatures she thought. Was it any different than Walker and me in the great scheme of life? She reached out and took Walker's rough hand. "Thank-you," she said simply looking into his clear, gray eyes. She knew what he had done was instinctual, without any thought. One mate protecting the other. He would give his life to protect her if need be. And, she would sacrifice hers for him. The unspoken understanding passed between them without a word.
"Come on," Walker said softly, "Let's make camp. We've got our supper now." You only kill when you have to he thought, but then, you do not waste it. He scooped up the snake, and still holding Alex's hand, retraced his steps to retrieve his backpack before continuing up the trail.
After another hour of strenuous climbing, they reached a small clearing bordered on two sides by a gently flowing stream. Alex gathered wood and started a small fire while Walker set up the tent. Once the fire was going well, he used some forked sticks to build a makeshift spit for the snake. As the meat cooked, the two snuggled up on a blanket near the fire. The stream gurgled peacefully.
Soon, the hungry couple devoured their meal, and settled back on the blanket gazing at the ceiling of stars that sparkled on their own private world. Neither noticed the dark figure that watched them from the edge of the darkness.

The alpha wolf had been drawn to the campsite by the smell of cooking meat. He watched the humans carefully from downwind so they would not smell him. His empty stomach growled impatiently, and his mind was on his hungry mate and cubs. He watched the humans with curiosity as well. These were not the usual, rough- looking hunters that he knew so well.
One of them was softer somehow, with golden hair and a sweet smell. From his hidden place he watched their actions intensely. His senses screamed out to him that they were intruders, encroaching on his small pack's territory. That he should lunge at them, ripping and tearing their hides with his sharp teeth. Showing them that this was his land. But, a deeper feeling surfaced on the edge of his consciousness this night. And he held his territorial instinct at bay..for the moment.

Alex was running her hand slowly, but persistently up and down his chest and stomach. Walker opened his eyes and moved to his side facing Alex. He reached out and smoothed the hair on her head and his palm cupped her cheek. She kissed his soft palm, and to his surprise, softly licked it.
Walker felt like an electric shock had just been delivered from his hand to his groin. He instantly pulled Alex close and his lips descended on hers passionately. Alex opened her mouth allowing his tongue to explore and tantalize her senses.
Her hands roamed over his back and then around to his chest. As they slid lower, she felt his hardened desire rigid against his jeans. She slowly, but firmly rubbed the length of him through the fabric. Walker shuddered and his kiss became more insistent. She had not seen him this passionate, and she loved the effect she was having on his body.
Walker groaned and withdrew his mouth long enough to utter, "Oh, Alex, I want you so much!" His breathing was heavy, and Alex could tell that his desire for her tonight was overwhelming him. She sat up and quickly removed her shirt and bra. Walker quickly removed his shirt and his lips descended on her breast. Kneeling before her, he sucked at her breast as his hands reached for the opening to her jeans. When they were undone, she pulled away from his attention just long enough to slide her pants and panties off. Still kneeling, he pulled her now naked body against his and began to kiss her neck with unbridled passion.
Sensing his urgent need, Alex found the zipper to his jeans. Pulling away from her, he hurriedly finished the job and undressed himself. He lay down on his back pulling her on top of him. Alex had never seen him so excited. He guided himself into her waiting warmth immediately, and, for a moment, she thought he was going to finish almost before they began. But, he stopped suddenly and held her tightly. She saw the effort on his face as he fought for control.
Reaching to touch his sweating brow, she whispered, "It's okay darling, you can let go.." Walker's jaw tightened. He looked into her eyes, and his hands moved to slowly knead her breasts. "Not yet," he grinned.
His hand moved down to rest on the center of her desire. His fingers moved slowly and then increased in pace. Now Alex teetered on the edge of completeness. She gasped and bucked against his hand in excitement and anticipation.
Carefully, Walker rolled her over and began to thrust into her slowly. The heat from their bodies sent tendrils of steam into the air. Their involuntary moans became louder, and as Alex reached her incredible climax, Walker lost all control. He moved rhythmically against her in ever-increasing tempo. Suddenly, he stopped breathing and stilled for just a moment. A low groan rumbled deep within him and with one final thrust he released himself into her lifting her willing hips off the blanket with the intensity of his strength.
They lay gasping for air for several minutes, their bodies finally cooling in the cold night air. As he wrapped the warm blanket around them, Alex nestled her head against his chest. Inside of her body, a new life was beginning, and she knew it. "I'm going to have to feed Walker rattlesnake more often," she smiled to herself as she drifted off to sleep.

The dark wolf watched. At first he had thought that the larger one was attacking the smaller, weaker one. But, then the unmistakable smell of mating infiltrated his nostrils and he realized that they were male and female. Confused, he snorted softly at this discovery. As he watched he saw the larger male carefully cover his mate with a blanket and lay protectively near her. His thoughts returned to his own family, and despite the tempting smell of the rattlesnake meat, he turned and silently slipped away into the night.

Walker lifted his head from the blanket suddenly, disturbing the sleeping woman at his side. "What is it?" she whispered, feeling his heartbeat quicken and knowing his instincts for danger could always be trusted.
"It's nothing," Walker assured her quietly. "I must have been dreaming." He softly kissed the top of her head, and pulled the blanket over them. "Go back to sleep, babe. I love you."

The sun was warm on her face when Alex awoke the next morning. She quietly slipped out of Walker's arms so as not to awaken him. He stirred slightly, but settled back on the blanket with a sigh. Alex smiled down at him. Her hand automatically went to her stomach and rested there. They had made a new life last night. She was sure of it. With a contented sigh, she slowly wandered down to the stream to freshen up.
At the stream, Alex took a deep breath. She smelled the cedar trees and the fresh, clear water as it rushed over the rocks that lined the shallow stream. Dipping her hands in the clean water, she took a drink, tasting the icy cold flavor of it. Lost in the magnificence of the nature all around her, she didn't see the lone figure that eyed her from across the stream.
"Alex, don't move." She heard Walker's tense voice from behind her. Looking up, she looked straight into the eyes of a huge, gray wolf that was poised not ten feet in front of her. His fur was matted and somewhat uneven. The deep grooves of his ribs were outlined on his massive back. But, his eyes were clear and steady. And, Alex saw no threat in them. A small voice within her told her to really see the wolf through the eyes of truth, not of fear. She knew that wolves did not view humans as prey. Remembering how Walker had reacted to the threat of the snake, she slowly raised her hand so he could see it.
"Walker," she began softly, "it's okay. He doesn't want to hurt me."
Walker stood balanced with his knife ready. "Stand up slowly Alex. Then back up toward me." Never breaking eye contact with the wolf, Alex backed carefully up until she stood next to Walker. They both stared at the obviously half-starved wolf. As they watched, in one swift movement the wolf suddenly disappeared into the brush bordering the stream. Walker sheaved his knife and looked respectfully at his fiancée.
"You were one cool lady there, counselor." He smiled at her.
"I just knew he wouldn't hurt me." Alex replied still gazing at where the wolf had been. "He looked so hungry." She added.
"Yeah," replied Walker. "And there was something else very special about him."
Alex asked, "What?"
"Well, even though wolves are on the endangered species list in 48 states, and it is not usual to see any wolves, this one was really unique. We normally would only see a Mexican wolf in this area, but this was a Gray wolf. And, mating season was a couple of months ago, so, since wolves do not abandon their families, this guy might have a mate and cubs nearby."
Alex's hand involuntarily went to her stomach again. She looked thoughtful.
"Hungry?" Walker asked, noticing the movement.
"Oh, yessss.." She stammered. "Walker, during breakfast will you tell me more about wolves?"
"Sure," he replied. "I'll even tell you how the Native Americans considered the wolf as their brother."
As soon as they were settled at the campsite and finished with the hot oatmeal Alex had warmed up for them Walker cleared his throat. He told Alex that the Native Americans had a profound respect for the wolf, who they saw, not as a savage beast, but a brave, loyal, cunning, and intelligent animal with strong character as well as physical strength. Great warriors, medicine men, and chiefs would wear wolf pelts and make themselves look like wolves before riding into battle so they would be unseen and invincible to their enemies.
"They believed that the cry of the wolf was the sound that links this world to the one beyond. The wolf is the Pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas. They search for Truth and Knowledge to share with their clan. They take one mate for life, and you will find a sense of family with the pack, as well as a strong individualism. Wolf Medicine, as this knowledge is called, empowers the teacher hidden deep within to emerge and guide the children of Earth in understanding their place in the Universe."
Alex sat enthralled as Walker continued. "If you have Wolf Medicine. you will know it in your heart of hearts. Your spiritual connection to the Great Mystery of life will be strong, and sharing this truth with others will help them to understand themselves and their uniqueness. The medicine of the wolf will awaken them so that they may recognize who they are and take their rightful place as heirs to all that IS. This is a chosen honor for those who have traveled from the Great Star Nation to help these young souls rouse from their slumber and begin the journey home."
Walker smiled at the woman he loved. "Alex," he said gently, "you have Wolf Medicine. I see it in you. You respect and love all of Earth's creatures. That's why our love is so strong."
Alex looked into his gray eyes, and, for a moment, she saw the gray wolf's eyes reflected in them. "We truly are mates for life," she responded bringing her lips to meet with his in a deep kiss.
Walker drew back long enough to say "For life," before his arms enfolded her and he kissed her so strongly that she became lost in the power of their bond.

The alpha male paced restlessly back and forth. The other subordinate members of his meager pack had gathered. They were sick, and old. He knew that the survival of the pack depended on his strength and guidance. He knew that some would never survive the long journey north if he chose to go back. But, this new territory had proven to be desolate, and game was scarce. The pack had been surviving on rabbits and other small rodents instead of their usual meals of elk and deer.
He glanced worriedly at his mate and four small cubs. She was very thin, and the cubs were not getting enough to eat. He had to find food..

The campsite was all packed up again. Walker and Alex looked around to make sure they had left everything the way they had found it. Then, reluctantly, they decided it was time to head back for the Ram and home. Alex gazed wistfully at the place where she and Walker had made love the night before. The place where their child had been conceived.
Walker, who had begun walking down the trail, looked back. "Alex, I can't get you up the trail, and now, I can't get you down the trail!" He commented in exasperation. Alex smiled to herself. If he only knew why I was lingering here now she thought to herself. Taking a last look around at the place that would be embedded forever in her heart, she turned to him.
"It's just my individualism, Walker." She said with a bright smile as she walked past him. He shook his head and followed her. Life was never going to be dull with this woman he thought with a smile of satisfaction.
They held hands for most of the walk. Then, about one o'clock, they stopped for lunch. Sitting quietly, Walker surprised Alex by putting his hand to her mouth to signal her not to make a noise. He gestured with his eyes to a small clearing nearby. Slowly they rose and noiselessly walked to the clearing. As they got closer, they could hear pitiful cries and heavy labored breathing. Walker reached out his hand and moved a low-hanging branch so they could see what was making the noise...
"Oh, Walker," Alex softly exclaimed as they saw what lay before them. An adult deer lay prostrate on the grass bleeding profusely from a wound on its back.. As they watched, the deer struggled in vain with its front legs to stand, but it was obvious that its hindquarters were paralyzed. Alex stayed at the edge of the clearing as Walker crept closer to examine the animal.
"Hunters," he said grimly. "She's been shot by a high-powered rifle. It shattered her spine." He glanced worriedly at Alex.
"Can you help her?" Alex questioned.
"Yeah," Walker replied. "But, not to get better. I can put her out of her misery, and speed her journey home, that's all." He sighed, and pulled out his knife.
Tears streamed down Alex's face. She saw the terrible look of pain and fear in the eyes of the dying deer. It was the right thing to do, but she couldn't watch. As Walker moved to run the sharp blade over the animal's throat, she closed her eyes and turned around. The sound of the deer's struggling ceased.
Walker looked toward his fiancée, glad that she understood what he was doing, but also glad that she hadn't watched. As his eyes focused on her, he noticed a shadow appear suddenly- directly in front of her. His fingers tightened on the knife.
Alex slowly opened her eyes when she heard the low growl. Three feet in front of her stood the alpha male wolf. Its gray eyes locked on hers, and she knew she should move, but couldn't. The wolf's steely gaze swung around her and took in the sight of Walker kneeling next to the deer. The smell of fresh blood excited his senses and made his hungry belly contract. Alex nearly fainted when he threw back his head and emitted a loud, piercing howl.
"Don't move," she heard Walker say softly just before the gray wolf howled again.
Suddenly, like magic, Alex realized that they were no longer alone in the clearing. First one, then two and finally three more wolves appeared from different directions. They were all emaciated. Alex cringed when she heard their low growls and whines. Even though they were obviously hungry, and watching Walker and Alex warily, their eyes looked searchingly at the big male that still stood in front of her.
The alpha male looked in the eyes of this female from the species that his ancestors had warned him of. Their kind had hunted, poisoned, and tortured his for hundreds of years. Humans had set wolves on fire, torn their jaws out, and even cut their Achilles tendons and set dogs loose on them. They had spread strychnine-laced meat for as far as 150 miles across the prairie killing millions of wolves, as well as, raccoons, black-footed ferrets, red foxes, ravens, red-tailed hawks, eagles, and wolverines. The humans had even killed ranch dogs and children when they unknowingly ate the poisoned meat. He remembered all this and yet the eyes of this female held no hatred, no superiority. She knew he was her equal, her brother in the Great Universe.
He looked at the male behind her. Walker's eyes too held no animosity, but there was something else there. It was fear. The alpha wolf realized that this male held his mate in the same love, compassion, and importance as he did his own. Their bond was from the heart. As he took this in, he made a decision.
Slowly, he walked around Alex and came to a stop before Walker. His steady gaze penetrated Walker's thoughts, and he slowly stood. Carefully, he slipped his knife away and walked to Alex's side. He put his arm around her and gently kissed her.
Watching Walker's every move, the alpha wolf lowered his head and uttered a short bark. Out of the brush, his thin, starving mate appeared. Alex gasped when she saw the four sickly cubs straggling after the female wolf. Without a glance at her mate, she walked up to the slain deer and began to eat. The other wolves whined, but did not move. The alpha wolf looked at Alex and Walker. He whined softly at them.
"Come on, Alex." Walker said quietly in her ear. "He wants us to go." The couple turned and walked back to retrieve their backpacks quickly, and began walking down the trail without looking back. Once they had gone quite a distance, Alex stopped and took Walker's hand.
"They didn't attack us." she began.
Walker wrapped his arms around her. "No, they were just hungry." Walker responded. "But, there was another reason."
Alex pulled her head back and looked into his eyes. "What?" she asked.
"The leader recognized that you have the Wolf Medicine." He responded simply. Taking her hand he began to walk again. "The world needs to begin its journey home, Alex. Let's go."

Author's note: I would like to recognize the North American Wolf Association for the research material used in this story. Their dedication to all forms of life on this planet is commendable.