I awoke with a scream, yet another nightmare ripping me from much needed sleep. They were becoming too much of a habit, but I'd found my own way for dealing with them - to walk it off. I slipped out of the warm comfort of my bed and into the crisp coolness of my fitted black t-shirt and baggy gray cargo pants - my favorite clothes, they sat right at my hips, accentuating the curves without screaming for attention, and they were comfortable. I dragged on a jacket and my lugs before heading out the door and down the road, leading away from sleep, and away from the things that haunted my dreams.

The moon loomed large over the tree tops as my footfalls echoed quietly on the dirt road. My breath hung before me, frosty in the late autumn air, and the few leaves that drifted in the road crunched under the weight of my boots. Before reaching the bridge, I turned off, to the left, onto a path leading through the woods. The river ran to the right of the path, and the path itself was darkened by the overhanging trees, only slivers of moonlight shivered in the spaces between. The night was full of sounds not quite heard, and the slightly musky aroma of decaying leaves mingled with fireplaces and woodstoves.

I slid my hands into the pockets of my jacket and started down the trail, my feet knowing each step, taken countless times before. The turn to the right, along the bend in the river, then the gentle sweep back to the left, up the ridge and down the other side. Twisting back toward the river I noticed something strange, a fog rolling in off the banks. Fog isn't unusual near water, but on a crisp, cool night, it was disconcerting. Walking a little more quickly, I turned to look behind me, an imagined noise breaking the almost silence. My feet faltered a little causing me to trip. I caught myself but threads of ruby hair covered my eyes, hiding the path before me. While I stopped to rake the hair out of my face, I could hear the echo of my breathing, but there was something else. Faintly, I could hear breathing, slow, rhythmic, animal breathing. I could feel the familiar tingle of fear, known so well in my dreams. I backed up a few paces and heard the oh-so-gentle step, paws crushing leaves. I didn't want to run, I thought I knew better, but panic overwhelmed me and I turned my back, running along the path, trying to get home.

Was it the fog, the fear, or that one wrong twist in the trail? I ended up turning around, then again, my head spinning. I was lost, in the dark, with something shadowing my every step. My heart raced, and I knew he could smell my fear. When I turned around again, there he was, standing in the middle of the path, staring me down. His icy blue eyes glinting in the half light, his black fur bristled around his neck. I knew I could never race a wolf home, in fact, I knew this would probably be one of my last breaths. The instinct to survive was too strong, I backed up, left foot behind the right, shifting my weight, then right foot behind the left. For every step I took, he took 3, slowly, advancing on me with a predatory growl.

Before I knew it, I went tumbling to the ground. My foot caught on some tree root stretching across the path, unseen by my backward steps. Quickly trying to recover, I scrambled back on my hands, until my back was against the bottom of that very tree whose root betrayed me.. I stared at him, his warm breath so close that it left my skin dewy.

I lay there, on the cold ground, my head and the backs of my shoulders against the tree, my feet now straddled by his as he took another step forward. His lips curled back as he growled, striking dread fear into my already racing heart, and I closed my eyes, not wanting to witness my own demise. His breath washed over my face, I could feel him standing above me, his feet to either side of my heaving chest. Nothing happened, there was silence. I slowly peeled open an eye, terrified of what I would see, and sure enough he was still there, but different. His eyes were more angular, betraying his intelligence, and his mouth, which looked lethal before, curved into something almost human.

His lips still curled back, there was a long exhalation of breath, then I heard it...

"Don't move, or I'll tear your throat out. A sweet morsel like you would make a fine feast". He spoke, I knew I heard it and yet my mind twisted in disbelief. I squirmed back against the tree a little and the growl came louder, "Didn't you hear me? Don't move." His voice was louder, but just as calm, eerily steady. I shook with terror, but decided it was best to be still, I just nodded my head and swallowed, hard.

His head slowly lowered until he was so close I could see my own fear reflected in his eyes. His breath kissed my skin, but the heat seared into my flesh, burning me against the cold night air. His paws, now almost more like hands, began to tear at my clothing, shredding the fabric of first my jacket, then my shirt, I shuddered to think what would happen if they met with more vital things.

Unable to watch the desecration of my own flesh, I closed my eyes once more. I could feel his jaws closing around the waist of my pants then jerking and tearing them open. I lay before him now, exposed, my pale skin seemingly luminous in the moonlight. His face was near mine again, each breath hot and threatening. I tried to cover myself out of modesty but that released a snarl like none I'd heard yet. He snapped quickly at my throat and his teeth sunk into the tender spot, where the neck meets the shoulder. As I felt the steaming fluid trickle down, I needed to open my eyes, I needed to know what was coming.

I was pierced by his teeth, but his claws were ripping searing wet brands into my shoulders and down over my chest as he explored his conquest. My breathing was shallow, strangled, pained. I couldn't have cried out if I tried. I thought of pushing him away, but as I lifted my hands in protest, his paws left their wandering and slammed down on my arms, pinning me hard. His feet were between my knees and I could feel him pushing them apart. I resisted, but he was stronger and I ended up splayed out, pinned, and bleeding from my wounds.

Penetration was sudden. I was stunned and managed only a sharp gasp, which was answered by a snarl as his grip on my throat tightened. He slid inside me easily, filling me completely. I didn't know until that moment how truly aroused I was. I wanted to arch into him. I wanted to wrap my arms around his neck and pull his weight closer, but I couldn't. I was trapped and forced into submission. Thrust after thrust threatened to shatter both the walls of my mind, and those within. I cried out, barely, but he heard it and jerked his head, shredding what was left of his purchase. The flat of his tongue slithered over the wounds and made it's way down the trail of blood, stopping to stroke my pert nipples. As I moaned with pleasure, he growled low. He thrust harder, pushing me backward into the tree. My hands twisted under his pressure, digging and raking in the dirt beneath them. His eyes locked onto mine as I rocked with an unexpected orgasm. Everything in me trembled, quaked, shivered, and then stilled. My breathing was ragged and I was barely conscious but I had enough left in me to watch the fire in his eyes die down to embers with his release.

I awoke slowly, like crawling out of deep water. My senses were muted and everything felt strange. It was the same wolf from all the other dreams, but it was different this time. He didn't kill me, he ravaged me. I lay in bed contemplating the dream, it's myriad meanings, and how it made me feel. Hearing the alarm go off again, I groaned and slipped out of the warm comfort of my bed. I crossed the floor to retrieve an oversized sweatshirt from it's home on my bedpost and caught a glimpse of my body in the mirror. There were bruises on my arms and long shallow scratches reaching from the curve of my shoulders down to the swell of my hips. Tilting my head to the side, I noticed the small scrapes at my neckline, as though I'd been mauled but not recently. They were all mirrored wounds from the dream, and yet there was so much less damage. Had I manifested my dream while I slept? Did I cause those wounds? I stood there, naked, questioning my own sanity when in the distance I heard the long deep howl of a wolf. A cold chill ran over my body, then a warmth spread involuntarily, and I knew this wasn't just another dream.

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