Miner Like Me

Miner Like Me

A Story by Callisto
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A story to flesh out the background of one of my characters

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He was determined to take all night to survey the snowy landscape. A modest cabin was among the hills in his gaze. Aaron lay in bed, body demanding sleep but attention lost to the world outside. The world at night was similar to how he spent his days. Both times equally dim, but the nights lacked the claustrophobic confines of the coal mine. In a matter of hours he would be back in that hole again, adding fresh layers of coal soot on his work uniform.

A shadow moved over the window. His mind took notice and insisted he avoid sleep to investigate. Nothing appeared odd outside, the stillness of the night holding tight to her secrets. He returned to bed. A leg barely made it under the covers before a shadow crossed the window again. This time he noticed the odd smudge of circles on the exterior of the glass. Frustration building, he walked onto the porch.

“I’ve got a gun!” he announced to the open night. This was only half true as he lacked ammunition.

Brief silence, then a crash sounded from behind the cabin. He rounded the corner just in time to see a bin knocked over. The guilty party lay keeled over in the snow. He gasped in his surprise, excess snow falling away to reveal the face of a canine. The largest wolf he had ever seen, sharing the human shaping but keeping a wolf form. It studied him carefully, unflinching gold eyes scouring his form. Suddenly the creatures muzzle recoiled in a sneeze, the shockwave sending loose snow flying from its thick coat. Aaron struggled to stifle his chuckle. The creature swatted away the loose snow hovering before its face. It seemed to write Aaron off as harmless, tending to its first need by plucking a choice bag of spilt garbage.

“Hungry? That stuff isn’t very good” Aaron said.

Aaron set down his rifle. Aside from its size, the creature appeared no more dangerous than a lost dog. He decided to feed it, going inside to retrieve a piece of jerky from the pantry. The scent of jerky grabbed its attention, twitching nose sucking up all the savory air. Bag of trash tossed aside, it fell forward onto all fours, tail alert. Aaron knelt down to meet the curiosity. It stole the meat from his hand and withdrew a few yards. After downing the treat, the creature returned on its own, grabbing Aaron by the wrist and scenting where the jerky once lay. Aaron hoped that he would make not make a good jerky substitute. He could feel the great physical strength in the furry hand; it could easily break his wrist.

“There is more inside” Aaron said, pulling away slowly.

Aaron sat down at the table, watching the open door to see if his invitation would be accepted. The wood on the porch creaked under heavy weight as the creature slowly made its way around. Shy eyes carefully studied the room from the safety of the doorway.
“It’s okay” Aaron said, tapping his foot.

It stepped into his home, nose sweeping the floor as he slowly made his way around the single room cabin. The creature kept a good distance away until Aaron held up another jerky treat. A twinge of fear ran through him as the creature regained its full height. Less shy this time, it grasped his wrist with one paw and plucked the meat with the other. Aaron was amused by how quickly the creature warmed up to him. It did not hesitate to swipe the bag of jerky and dump it on the table. He took a chance, reaching out to graze the cool fur on its head. He felt the creature below the fur twitch but it seemed to tolerate him.

"Good…boy” he said slowly, petting the creature with more confidence.

It disappeared from his grasp, tail following the body’s quick dash under the table. Aaron gazed down, watching the creature follow its nose across the floor. It stopped at the pantry door, nose wiggling around the wooden slats.

“Hold on now.” Aaron said, leaving his chair.

The door opened easily. Its tail swept the floor as the plethora of treats inside became apparent. It quickly opened a half bag of chips, plunging its muzzle into the crinkly bag. Crunching noises escaped the bag hinting at the carnage within.

“That is not yours.” Aaron said, remove the bag from the creature’s muzzle.

The creature’s eyes met Aaron’s in a nonchalant gaze, tongue scraping chip crumbs off its muzzle. Aaron shut the pantry door as it reached for another bag. The creature huffed at him in protest. Nose returning to the floor, it continued to explore the cabin. Pausing at the bed, its fingered paw reached into the void below. Aaron groaned wondering what it had found now. He would never know as whatever it had been was quickly eaten. Aaron did not appreciate the subtle reminder that he let his cabin get so messy.

He wondered what he should name the creature. The word Siku came to mind. It sourced back to the Iñupiat, an Inuit tribe that once lived in the area. It meant snow when translated into English, and the creature had been covered in it when they first met.

Aaron worked to build trust with Siku until the sun came to check his progress. He hoped it would be worth the dragging day ahead of him. Extra strong coffee was in order. Unsurprisingly, Siku eyed the pot; nose precariously perched near the heating kettle. Aaron reminded Siku that he was not getting any coffee.

Aaron sat in his car, full thermos beside him as he fiddled with the radio dials. A compressed wet nose and set of hand paws pressed on the driver side window. Aaron put the car into gear, sure his new friend would get the point and move. Siku backed away from the car as expected. However, Aaron was surprised to see Siku giving chase down the drive way.

Aaron rolled down his window to scold Siku and motion him out into the trees. Siku glanced over his shoulder then back to Aaron, a whine dripping from his lips. Aaron reiterated his previous statement, unphased by pitiful faces. Siku turned and entered the woods. Aaron resume driving, periodically checking the mirror to make sure Siku hadn’t changed his mind again.

All day he worried he was too harsh with Siku. He spent a few moments looking for a familiar fuzzy face after returning home. There was not much time left in him as he was thoroughly worn out from a 12 hour shift on top of no sleep. Dinner held no appeal when compared to the wide inviting plains of his bed. His mind shut down quickly, a heavy body molding itself into the mattress. The last thought on his mind was Siku.

Morning came and Aaron’s eyes opening to the deep crimson wood on the ceiling. A long night’s rest was just what he needed. Invigorated, he was ready to face this new world. Life wouldn’t be the same as he grew to know the critter that left fresh prints on his window.

******

Rain water jumped merrily from leaf to leaf, the tree canopy an infinite playground of hops and slides. They had to make the best of their short lives, soon to be absorbed into the ground. A mischievous rain drop made its way into Siku’s nose splitting his muzzle in a sneeze. He buried his nose deep in creamy white fur, slightly damp but it would do to wipe the fresh slime away. The persistent rain was a disappointment. At least the nap had killed some time. Aaron would be home soon. He kicked the lingering sloth out of his limbs and took off through the trees, startled squirrels chirped and scattered as the wolf barreled through.
A familiar engine churned in the distance. Aaron’s car crested the hill and Siku ran alongside eager to greet him. Aaron barely stepped into the damp air before Siku pounced on him. Wet paw shaped mud splotches clashed with the normal coal soot stains on his uniform.

“Yes, yes, Siku, hi, yes, I missed you too” Aaron got out between slurps

He opened up the cabin, Siku following close behind him. Siku did his normal lap around the single room before sitting on the floor in front of the stove. Aaron set down his work bag, giving Siku a pat on the head before opening the fridge.

“What’s for dinner?” he asked out loud

Siku’s ears perked and waved as his head bobbed, he nosed past Aaron and pulled a pound of bacon out of the fridge.

“Gah! You are just like a dog!” Aaron said

Siku placed the cool package of bacon on the counter and glanced at Aaron, wide eyes asking why he wasn’t cooking it already. Aaron had veered off to dig through his work bag. He pulled out a foam pickaxe. It was obviously a toy, the dense foam assembled from cubes, modeled after Minecraft. He demonstrated its use with a few light taps on the wood table. Siku reached for it, fingers wrapping awkwardly around the exaggerated jagged edges of the handle.

“Now you can be a miner like me” Aaron smiled

Aaron set to work cooking dinner, amused by the tapping noises he heard behind him as Siku made his rounds in the room. Gradually they grew closer until he felt repeated taps on the back of his head.

“Keep that up and you’ll get no bacon!” Aaron chuckled

The taps immediately stopped, Siku choosing to mine the edge of the stove instead. Aaron gave him a reassuring pat, happy that Siku was enjoying the gift.

Siku shot out the door after supper, no tree would be spared a few test swings of his pickaxe. Aaron settled himself onto the porch watching Siku amuse himself. It was hard to believe that only a few months had gone by since Siku came into his life.
Siku approached the porch, gingerly stepping around the beer cans, drooly foam pickaxe wedged firmly in his muzzle as he sat next to Aaron. He looked to Aaron expectantly.

“I already fed you, now what?” Aaron said, playing dumb.

Siku took Aaron’s hand and placed it gingerly on the fur between his ears. Siku had his shy streaks but when it came to demands for attention he was very straightforward. Aaron laughed and ran his fingers through the thick fur. It was a good night.

*******

The rainy days of spring turned into the heat of summer. The warm sun rubbed Siku’s stomach. He idly scratched the fur on his chest. It was a lazy morning among countless others since he found Aaron. Getting to his feet he made the short trip to Aaron’s cabin and peeked into his favorite window. Looking past his reflection, he could see all the normal furniture laid there minus Aaron. Checking around the front of the cabin, he discovered that the car was still there. The grass told him all he needed to know, fresh impressions of human feet leading off into the woods. They took him to a small clearing. Much to his relief Aaron was standing there, paused before a strange stone.

“She always wanted a dog.” Aaron said.

Siku nosed Aaron on the shoulder before looking down to the strange stone. It was very precisely cut, yet smooth like a river stone; a rhythmic series of notches decorated its front. Siku continued the investigation sniffing around the base of it, exchanging periodic glances with Aaron. Dire tension gripped Aaron’s face more and more with each glance.
This was all together new for Siku, seeing tears collect and drip from around Aaron’s eyes. His nose pressed into the curious fluid, helpful tongue following to clean it off. Aaron’s familiar touch traveled down the back of Siku’s head, pleased with this he leaned in.

“She would have really liked you.” he continued.

Siku plopped next to Aaron. His friend sat alongside, generously stroking him. Siku’s eyes settled close, tail swishing behind him with the electric jolts of enjoyment. The trees swayed brushing the air around them.

“Sometimes I think she saw how lonely I was and sent you” he said, choking back tears.

Siku felt gentle hands on either side of his jaw. Aaron’s face filled his vision; he greeted him happily with a wet slurp, the tears on Aaron’s cheeks leaving salty tinges on his tongue.

Aaron continued to speak, recounting past times he spent with a red haired maiden. How they were to be married, how they had to spend the wedding money on chemotherapy, how she had to be buried a couple feet from where they sat. Aaron began to make a strange sound, sharp breaths cut short in rapid succession, and then he would tremble greatly before coughing up a wail. Anguish sounds the same in any language. He felt Aaron embrace him, sobbing face buried into his fur. Siku responded in kind, wrapped around his sobbing friend.

*******

Aaron was late, Siku paced bored around the cabin, gaze and ears occasionally surveying the drive way. His anxiety was growing. Entering the woods, he made his way to where he knew Aaron spent most of the day. It was a trip he only made a few times because he did not want to be seen and yelled at. Siku rested his head in the grass watching the work site. He knew it wouldn’t be long before Aaron would show. He easily recognized Aaron’s car but there were several new unfamiliar vehicles around. They were large, and blocky, a mix of marrow red and bone white. Flashing lights of all kinds covered their exteriors. Humans in heavy yellow coats and large hats milled between the vehicles.

A heavy truck with a huge metal shaft and hook on its back was nearing Aaron’s car. Two men worked quickly, attached Aaron’s car to the hook and hauled it away. Siku lifted his head in alert, slinking closer to the edge of the tree line for a better look. He watched until both vehicles disappeared from his sight and then panic set in. Aaron never came home without his car.
The cabin sat dormant, just as Siku had left it. He peeked in, ears flat trying to contain his anxiety. This was new and wrong. He lay on the porch all night, body blocking the door so Aaron would have no choice but to walk by him.
A day went by and still no Aaron.

He could hear a car approaching, but it was an engine he didn’t recognize. By the time it rounded the corner in the driveway Siku was deep in grass. An older pair of humans exited the car. They were similar, gaunt and gray. One approached the cabin, paused at the door and sighed. He entered. The other sat on the hood of the car, hunched over and tense like a statue. It wasn’t long before the human emerged with a box and set of clothes. Their departure was as sudden as their arrival.
After the engine noise faded away, Siku went back to the cabin, nose pressing open the door they left ajar. Nothing huge was missing. His foam pickaxe lay discarded on the floor, Siku picked it up adding a few echoing taps to the empty cabin. Returning to the porch he slumped in front of the door again, pickaxe warming under his head.

Two more nights passed before the outside world came to see him again. It started with one car and quickly multiplied into several. Siku was long hidden away in the trees, pickaxe in paw. A huge box was unloaded from the longest car. It was so heavy that many humans worked to carry it. They were very quiet, unusual as humans usually made a lot of noise in groups. He followed them into the woods to the lonely clearing he’d found Aaron in months before. A second strange stone had appeared, along with a pit in the ground. The pit was so big it swallowed the box whole. Heavy silence over the crowd broke with sobs. Siku could do little but watch the ritual.

After the last of them left, he galloped into the clearing, sniffing around the new stone and freshly churned dirt. It smelled like many humans, more than he could count, one among them familiar - Aaron.

He gave the new stone a few taps along the edge then drew lines in the fresh dirt. The smell of Aaron was growing stronger. A deep whine emitted from his throat. He fell back and the crawled towards the woods, quickly snapping back to graze the dirt more wildly this time. Collapsing, he fell on the ground, pickaxe slapping the grass. Aaron wasn’t coming back.

© 2017 Callisto



Author's Note

Callisto
Revision 2, built their relationship more, tidied up structure and grammar

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Added on August 18, 2017
Last Updated on August 23, 2017
Tags: siku, werewolf, fantasy, wolf

Author

Callisto
Callisto

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About
I am Callisto and I love life! more..

Writing
Dog Train Dog Train

A Story by Callisto