“The Real Monsters”
By Nicole Woleben
The light was dimming as the sun settled over Denali forest. Dusk was the time of day
when everything “came to life” in the woods. The birds chirped harmonious songs that would
play off of the notes of the slight breeze that ran through the leaves of the trees. Both created a
melody that would bid the daylight goodbye. The crickets would warm up their legs as they
began their nightly serenade of the forest, telling all of its inhabitants that it was time for sleep.
Even the scent of the forest would change. Its normally earthy smell would be replaced by that of
wet grass as the dew would begin to settle on the foliage. Each last ray of sunshine would play
off of these droplets of dew, creating a colorful picturesque scene in the forest. The chill of the
night would soon set in and with it take away the security and warmth of the sun. The sight could
only be described as being dream-like; nothing of this magnitude of beauty could be real.
This was a sight that few villagers of Dougton would ever experience in their life time.
Not since the killings began. Dougton was a small remote village in the center of the Alaskan
wilderness. It was not heavily advanced in the ways of electricity, but it had a few street lights
and lit storefronts thanks to a small power plant not far away from the village. Cell phones were
useless here due to the lack of towers as well as the surrounding hills would block the signal.
Nestled in the center of a forest that acts as a barrier to the outside world, the town is relatively
untouched. The dusty, and pot hole ridden dirt road that ran through the center of the village was
its only contact with the outside world. Snowmobiles and dog sleds would grace the road in the
fall, winter and early spring. During the late spring and summer a few trucks could be seen on
the road alongside many four-wheelers.
The village was normally a very peaceful and quiet place, exciting events rarely
happened on any given day. Grey wolves are a common sight in the area, but none ever had the
courage to come near people, let alone many people. When the wolves decided to traverse too
close to human settlements, hunters normally shot them all or drove them away. It wasn’t until
one month after the last wolf pack was driven away that people began to disappear when they
went into the forest. Hunters left the village to investigate what was happening to the people who
wandered into the forest. They did not expect to encounter a pack of monsters and beasts.
Very few hunters came back from their mission; most of them were badly bleeding and
or torn in various places, oozing red and gobs of inner flesh. Those well enough, told tell of a
pack of animals that were ghost-like in movement and hellish in combat. They looked like
wolves in all ways, but they were larger and surreal looking. Fur would rise from the animal in
giant grey tufts, snarls of rage would rise from their muzzles, and piercing eyes would stare at
you until you were frozen in your spot. That was when they would attack.
A hunter could’ve sworn that they shot an animal dead center in the head as it lunged.
The bullet would momentarily stun the beast, but then it would rise from the ground and begin
savagely attacking the people who shot at them and their pack. They were protecting themselves
as well as their pack mates. They would tear limb from limb, unfazed by the blood and gore that
would spray at them. Disembowelment was a common sight; the beasts would use their razor
sharp fangs and claws to tear at the soft underbelly of a person until its contents spilled into a
slimy heap on the ground. They’d kill one hunter and go straight after the next, usually aiming
for the neck to tear out the line of life that pulsed through it. The smell of blood could be
observed all around, wrapping the battle in its scent. Howls and screams of agony sliced through
the forest air until none more could be heard. Those hunters smart enough to leave the battle
early left with their lives, but they knew the pack was still roaming in the forest, waiting for its
chance to seize easy prey.
The village had become so severely shaken up from the events that a law was put in
place; no person was to leave the village and go into the forest alone, and to leave was to go at
your own risk. No one would leave far from their homes unless absolutely necessary in the
coming months. Slowly the beasts’ hold on the forest became a permanent part of life for the
villagers. People still went missing over the months, but many were too scared to go looking for
their missing brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
It happened when the final rays of sunshine hid behind a horizon of incoming clouds as I,
Claire Glenn, was walking back to the village along the winding path. I had been gathering food
from the forest in order to help my parents feed my family through the cooling days of summer.
Without it my family would not fare well in the coming months of cold. Much of the surrounding
forest had been picked clean by people who were too afraid to wander far looking for more food.
I had to be brave or my parents and siblings may starve. My petite size was never much of a problem,
at 115 pounds I could easily take on many of the boys in the village with little-to-no challenge. This
was why my family trusted me going into the woods alone, nobody would dare challenge me. But I was
never truly alone. My trusty 17 gauge rifle was always slung over my shoulder, ready to be used
at a moment’s notice.
The birds suddenly became quiet; the crickets silenced their warm-up tunes, even the
wind stood silent. With the forest around me becoming quiet, it was clear that something was
wrong. I knew that whenever the woods became quiet it signaled that a predator had moved into
the area. My pace quickened in response to the sudden stillness of the woodland. It was then that
I saw a flash of grey move along the tree line before me. The color went almost unseen as it
blended in with the shadows of the trees and bushes. I stood still in horror at the realization that I
was being stalked. My path was blocked, I was being circled and I was alone. A split second
later my rifle was in my sweating palms as began to fire off rounds at the grey masses hidden in
the bushes. After the fourth bullet was set into the chamber, I pulled the trigger. Click. It had
jammed. The gun was useless to me. The blockage would take a half an hour to pull out and that
was time I didn’t have. I launched the gun at the silent grey masses before me and they parted. I
took my chance and began running down the twisting path back towards the village.
The air burned with every breath of air that I pulled in as I sprinted away in hopes of
leaving the terror behind. It didn’t work. I knew this was just a dream, it had to be. But being
chased by the heavy foot falls behind me was beginning to wear out that thought. The forest
around me whirled by in a flurry as I ran. It was hard to tell where one tree stopped and another
began. Fear set in my veins and willed my arms and legs to pump faster. The rain trickled down
in light drops, as the clouds suddenly began to tear open and release their cargo. Each rivulet that
struck me cooled my overheating body upon their point of impact. At any normal time, I’d allow
these beads of heaven to cascade down my body, but not now, not when I was 15 paces away
from being mauled and eaten. Each snap of a twig or crunch of a leaf was a constant reminder of
why there was adrenalin pulsing through my veins. Trees and bushes wove around me in a maze.
Hoping the irregular path would slow my pursuers down I kept running in cross patterns.
Looking back, the masses were just as close as they had been before; the weaving didn’t seem to
faze them.I could feel them close, as if they were breathing down the back of my neck. A fetid odor
that seemed to emanate from them connected with my nose like a fist. It was a thick smog of
rancid meat and wet dog. I wanted to gag, but that would only slow me down, so I suppressed the
Throughout the chase they were holding back, I knew they were. They acted as if they
were merely playing a game with me. And they had played this game many times with many
other people. At one point they were right on my heels, snapping slightly at them, but not
seeming to want to hurt me or even trip me up. They were just trying to wear me down to the
point of exhaustion and instill even more fear into me. Easy prey. This game, I knew, if played
out to its fullest, would mean the end of me.
One of them howled. I glanced back to see three sets of bright, yellow orbs staring back
at me. Each pair that I saw shot a gaze that pierced my soul, as if urging me to just give up and
submit to them. Not going to happen. I leapt over old fallen logs and ditches full from the rain.
Not wanting to take any excess time trying to get over the obstacles safely I just kept running
forward knowing full well that if I took too long I’d be caught.
The lights of the village began to show through the edge of the forest-line and I picked up
my pace. The thundering beats of paws behind me signaled that more beasts had caught up to
help chase. The rain began to let up, my overheating body protested the loss of that simple
My breath was leaving me in ragged spurts as my energy was starting to fade from the
long run. The beasts could sense it and began to close in on me. I was so close to the town I
could see the back street light of the general store clearly.
A thorny bush caught my coat sleeve and practically ripped it off as I pulled myself free.
I could feel a warm sensation a liquid running down my arm, signaling that I had not escaped the
tussle with the bush unscathed. The smell of blood seemed to excite the pack as a chorus of yips
and howls erupted from behind me, encouraging me to trip and fall at the distraction.
My fear pushed me to the edge of my breaking point as I burst from the forest into the
light of a street lamp behind the general store. The flat of the street greeted my body by sending
up a tsunami of muddy water from a puddle that I landed face first in with a “thud.” Once the
world stopped spinning from the impact, I screamed into the night, “Help me!” Lights of the
houses up and down the street flicked on and people opened their back windows to see what was
happening. Screams of terror burst out all around me as people gazed at my battered body on the
Howls sounded the approach of the beasts at the edge of the forest line. I could feel their
warm breath on my battered and exposed arm, the blood of which was flowing freely with little
to no intention of stopping any time soon it seemed. I made the water on the road around me turn
a dark red.
Men yelled for their spouses to close and lock the windows at the sight of the beasts
coming. Children were ushered away and doors were locked. Each sound sent me spiraling
deeper and deeper into despair. No one was going to help me, especially knowing what was
coming after me.
The villagers felt that they could not stop the beasts from coming. They wanted to protect
themselves and those of their family. Endangering more lives for that of one was not an option
for them. They became the monsters in my mind at that moment, one shot of a gun and they may
have been able to scare off my attackers or at least distract them. A distraction could’ve been
used to pull me away from my followers and drag me into the security of a house. But no one
came to my aid.
The rhythm of triumphant feet amplified behind me as they came closer. I knew it was
the end for me. I tried to move, but my body wouldn’t respond. I was defeated, broken, an easy
meal for my hunters.
“Please, help me” I called weakly out to those who still watched from their windows. The
people only stared with morbid expressions or turned their faces away to keep from witnessing
the horror to come.
I was too drained to fight the incoming animals. Flipping onto my back with the last of
my strength, I strained my eyes to see my stalkers coming towards me. What was once three sets
of eyes had become more than fifteen. Each set ranged in color from golden yellow to a dark
emerald green. They were a hauntingly beautiful sight to see. Gazes penetrated me with such a
force that, even if I had the energy to move, I would remain frozen in place. I accepted the fact
that they won the game and that I was their prize. Growls of victory and yips of excitement from
the hunt escaped the dark approaching figures.
The light of the street lamp shed the animals of their shadowy facades as they entered the
light and revealed their true shapes and colors. They all had a wolf-like appearance to them, each
with varying shades of grey. Compared to a normal wolf though, they looked as though they
were twice the size with big bulky heads and shoulders. Muscles rippled beneath their shaggy
fur, revealing predatory bodies that relished the chase. The only other difference between them
and a regular wolf was the fact that their paws looked almost like they could grasp objects. Their
toes were slightly elongated in a way that almost resembled hands. A gasp escaped my lips at the
sight. Many shook themselves to rid their fur of debris and mud before they closed in on their
Two lighter grey wolves approached faster than the rest of the pack. Lips were drawn
back revealing red and yellow stained teeth. Saliva dripped from their jowls and left long wisps
hanging in their stead. Growls of resentment and hatred poured from their throats, they were
ready to pounce if I tried any attempt to escape. I noticed both wolves had red streaks running
along some part of their body. I had shot them and still they managed to keep up. They stared at
me with eyes that showed more than average intelligence as they surveyed me, looking for any
sign that I’d struggle and cause them more harm.
I knew I would not be able to fight back, nor would I have the strength to run. Each wolf,
content with the situation, latched onto one of my legs. An ear piercing cry of pain leapt from my
mouth. The wolves winced at the noise, but only bit harder to ensure their grip, but I was too
drained to even attempt to struggle. The cry had echoed through the village. The weeping of my
family came to mind as I imagined them coming to terms with what the cry may mean. Knowing
that their daughter had gone out into the forest foraging, it was likely they had one less chair to
keep at the table. I’d miss them.
Howls of victory rose up around me as I was pulled into the dark of the figures and the
forest. A trail of red was left in a scribbled path behind me as if a five-year-old poured a bucket
of red paint in uneven stream. The dark began pulling at my eyes, bidding them to close and so I
let them. The darkness pulled a blanket of comfort around me as the forest slid slowly by.
I was glad to be away from those monsters. They would never come to my aid out of fear
for their own lives and so I spent no last thought on them. Instead I thought of the forest at dusk,
as the sun was setting and the dew settling. I thought of my beautiful picturesque dream world.
“This can’t be real.” But the growls and pain shooting up my leg in return for my spoken
statement only served as a reminder, this was real.
I blacked out.