Thursday, January 14, 2016

Story: "Le Cochon Gris"

One night in winter a wolf came to the village of St. Louis-Pierre. He did not come howling, as a wilder wolf might. No, this wolf, this loup-garou, padded about on paws of cotton fluff. Behind animal instincts lurked a cunning earned from years of evading hunters. 

Snow slashed about the wolf. For weeks now, winter had smothered all the forest around, finally driving the wolf further afield in search of prey. This winter cut to the marrow, and the wolf was lean. 

Sniffing frozen air, the wolf approached a cottage at the village’s outskirts. No light glowed from within, though it was but early evening. Nor did any man-scent drift out into the night. Puzzled, the wolf moved on to another cottage, only to find a similar vacancy. One by one, each home proved empty. 

Growing bolder, the werewolf began entering the cottages, nosing open latches or bursting through thatch roofs. Not a soul did he find. More than vacant, the cottages were barren, with nary a side of bacon or wheel of cheese to be discovered. And not for lack of the werewolf’s trying. Even a crumb of bread or moldy carrot would have satiated the werewolf. 

But naught was found. So the wolf drifted ever closer to the village’s heart. There he found the inn. Alone of all the buildings, it gold-glowed with light and warmth. Food. The wolf smelt food within. With food, however, came the scent of humans.

Hunger outweighed caution and the wolf approached. Slinking beneath the eaves, the wolf heard a solemn voice within. This wolf was a clever one, and spoke the peasant tongue. And so it listened, and this is what it heard:

“Truly, my dear neighbours, it has been a long sad winter for all of us. Some have resorted to uncharitable acts in order to survive, breaking our neighbourly bond to sate their base desires. I am speaking of the theft and hoarding of food. Jean LeDuc, you have been judged guilty of such a crime. Your punishment is thus: You and your family shall replenish our communal foodstock. Such is our law.”

There were no screams; there was no time. The wolf snuffed blood. Once more, it padded off into the night. For there are men, and there are wolves, and then there are wolves in the guise of men. The village of St. Louis-Pierre lay quiet once again. In the night, a wolf howled a requiem.