[Short Story, 990 words: Nordic noir, paranormal mystery, dark romance]
February 28th 2010
I sensed it again, as I have for the past week. Making my way alone, along the woodland path, between our farmhouse and the office where I work at the saw mill sheds, here in Dalsland. I pause and take in the air. It is watching, calmly, perhaps even nervously. It waits for me to pass on my daily route, then I feel its prescence fade. I know we both feel the skipped heartbeat of potential meeting, followed by the pain of separation. I feel no intuitive sense of fear, just curiousity and fascination. Personally, I intuit nothing but a need for companionship deep inside. A fellow traveller of the Swedish woodlands unsure and wary, tentatively following me.
I use the word ‘sensed’ advisedly. Being brought up in the country develops your senses. I have noticed cityfolk are often dependent on eyesight, for clues about the world around them. Perhaps the roar of traffic drowns out sensitive nuances in the landscape, that a country-bred person can ‘hear’.
It’s as if there is a pattern of sound that we expect to hear in the woods, a symphony of birdsong, animal cries, hum, buzz, and leaf rustle, accordingly orchestrated by the time of year. Once again, the template was disturbed. This is not like the muffled muted sound of winter snow. The punctuation by sharp cracks of noise on the thin clear air, like ice breaking on Lake Vänern. Now it is getting towards Springtime, but there is a hole in the wall of sound as I pass by my visitor. There is a silent emptiness while Nature holds its breath.
When I say I sensed ‘it’ I would show more acuity if I said ‘he’. Whatever is there, is definitely male. Among the heightened senses of the country dweller you can say the sense of smell is better developed. There is a definite musk note marking the atmosphere. This is beyond the dank smell of wet moss, fungii, exposed earth and animal trails.
While I was away at university in Stockholm, my fellow students used to mock my country ways. At the Karolinska Institute we studied physiology in lab experiments, using each other as subjects. My results for sensory acuity were exceptional. I told them I just put it down to my country upbringing. They even laughed, and some said I must be descended from some kind of werewolf.
I tread warily as I negotiate the woodland path. I imagine he sweats with anticipation, as I approach, and stifles his deep breathing to supress the clues of his location. But what is he? Who is he, and what does he want? Why is he so afraid of discovery? There are no bears left anywhere now. Likely, its just a very cautious roe deer or fox. It’s a very macho society up here in the plantations and logging camps. Perhaps he just smells the difference in me. I just intuit a fascination with me, almost a desire to protect or possess.
The guys at the saw mill joke when I tell them. They try to scare me by telling me it’s a wolf. There are no wolves here. Over the county border in Värmland, close to the Norwegian border, are a few remaining packs that haven’t died out through lack of breeding opportunities. Although that said, in January the government did permit a limited cull, the first in forty-five years. In theory, a wolf could make it this far travelling through the continuous woodland. In practice though, no wolf would attempt this unless it had a very determined nature. I did think that maybe it was one of the guys trying to freak me out, but I can’t see a practical joke going on this long.
I haven’t told my adoptive parents about this, I don’t want them to worry. They don’t need me interrogating them. It always produces a big strain between us when I badger them about the circumstances of my birth. ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’ as they say, but I’m still no clearer about my origins and parentage. It just produces mutually frosty reaction between us. Anyhow, all this was a few days ago. Yesterday, I didn’t sense any prescence at all. Maybe he’s been caught in some animal trap? I haven’t heard anything pining or whining. I hope he’s alright.
I found my sleep disturbed last night. It was as if he was communicating to me. I couldn’t see much but it was a guy for sure. It was dark and my eyes kept peering through the gloom and mist, but I couldn’t see much except for the heavy fur coat he was wearing. He spoke to me but it sounded like an unfamiliar dialect, very guttural, definitely not from around here. I tried speaking but couldn’t get words out. It was definitely him though, I caught his warm musk scent signature. Somehow it felt like he was calling to me, a call from the wild. I woke in a start, shivering, and looked out of the window. I could see nothing. Perhaps he was out there, looking up, observing me from some far corner of the farmyard.
I am determined to go and look for him later tonight. I feel that he needs me and I must respond. It is a full Moon tonight so I will be able to see my way more clearly. Today is bright and sunny so the air will be clear. I will wear my Winter furs though, as it will be cold. I feel a sense of impulsion to stalk my strange visitor until we meet face to face. I hope he will be there to greet me. I feel no sense of fear about this adventure, only exhilaration like going on a ‘blind date’, no, more than that .. an elopement. I’m only writing this in my journal …in case … I don’t come back.