Like in her nightmare. Like the coyotes from sleep.
She had tripped over something. A rock, most likely. Fell on her back.
The coyotes had stalked her across the Grimsands. They were dying of hunger. Had eaten the others, the weakest. Now. Only the alphas and two females remained.
And they hunted her.
The animals closed in. This was when she tripped. Her fingers sank into the loose sand.
They whimpered. Growled. Breath hinted of carrion.
Snow was frozen in their coats. An impossibility. Far too hot here. So arid.
She pushed herself back.
The coyotes lashed forward. One for her throat. Claret gushed, and they fed.
She looked down at the corpse. Picked apart. Tasted the blood on her gums and muzzle. She paused.
Am I not – ? Was I not just – ? I am the feeder?
The coyote thought of her throat, being torn out by –
I. I am the beast. Snowy and still hungry.
She watched the other coyotes. The alphas began to walk. To move on.
They abandoned the body. The meal.
I was the woman. I am the beast. Snowy and still hungry.
She followed behind. Had difficulty in finding her footing over the hill of sand. She pondered the woman they had killed. She remembered her memories. She was a girl, once.
That’s not a possibility. Yes, it is. I am the woman. I am the beast. I hold the memories. They are photographs. I am the camera. I am the feeder. Snowy and endlessly empty.
Thoughts ran through her mind. More thoughts than a coyote could have. Much too complex. She slowed. And trotted behind the others. Farther behind. Farther behind.
Much too complex. I was a girl before. And these thoughts.
They fade. Feel slow. Feel simpler.
Simple. Feel the ground. Want more food. Find food.
Empty. Food. Find food.
The coyote ran to catch up with the others.
Find food. Empty. Home. Find home. Cold home. Together.
She brushed up against another when she caught up.
Find home. Cold home. Together. Be. Be home.
Be full. Sleep home. Be.