John Livich had spent his entire life in the big city. His family never even took any vacations anywhere that they weren’t still surrounded by concrete. He couldn’t imagine a life where there wasn’t a restaurant within walking distance of his home. People were always constantly around. They were walking and talking. Sometimes yelling. And, no matter what time of day it was, there was noise.
That’s what woke him up. The silence. It was something he’d never heard before.
His eyes were assaulted by the sun as he opened them. John was sure that he had closed his blinds before getting into bed, but the bright light told him otherwise. One hand reached up to shield his eyes while the other moved to shove his blanket off him. There was no blanket to be found, however. In fact, he realized after the initial shock of being blinded wore off, he wasn’t in his bed. He’d never had a mattress that was as hard as what he was laying on.
John slowly opened one eye. The sight before him made his other eye shoot open in disbelief. He was laying on the ground in the middle of a forest. There were trees all around. The only break in them seemed to be the one that was letting the light in his eyes. Shuffling backward out of the light’s path, he took another look around.
He’d only ever seen places like this in movies or on TV. Leaves of green and red created a canopy above the spot he now sat. There was grass on the ground, but it was patchy at best. A few flowers and bushes were scattered around, but the area was mostly covered in more of the leaves. For a moment he wondered how there were still some in the trees with as many as there were on the ground.
John put his hand down to push himself up to his feet and immediately lifted it again. A loud cry of pain came out of his mouth and broke the silence that was surrounding him. Looking down, he saw a rock with a sharp edge sticking out of the ground where he planted his hand. Blood began forming from a small spot on his palm where the rock broke his skin. Up until that point, he would have sworn that he was dreaming, but the pain in his hand was very real.
Had he gone out drinking the night before? It wouldn’t be the first time he’d drank too much and woken up in a strange place. His friends were notorious for messing with him when he’d had one, or two, too many. Leaving him alone in the middle of a city park wouldn’t be the worst thing they’ve done to him.
No, he thought to himself. He had come straight home from work and spent the night binge watching a show he’d been meaning to catch up on for a while. Also, no city park has this many trees in it.
So, where was he?
John’s thoughts were interrupted by a sound, the first one he’d heard from his surroundings. He jumped to his feet and looked behind him toward the source. At first, he didn’t see anything. Then, he heard the sound again. He shifted his gaze to where the newest noise came from. For another moment, he still didn’t see anything, but he noticed a color among the trees and leaves on the ground that didn’t match anything around it. A small streak of gray was coming out from behind one of the trees. Seconds later, he saw what the gray was.
A large gray wolf stepped forward, crunching the leaves under its paw. John froze as the animal bared its teeth at him. The growl that came from the carnivore caused him to take an instinctive step back. “Oh shit,” John muttered under his breath. “I’m in trouble.”
To his surprise, the wolf’s growl changed right after. It morphed from a threatening animal snarl to mocking human laughter. “You have no idea,” came from out of the wolf’s mouth. “The good news for you, human, is that your trouble will be over soon.”