Sarah has been lonely most of her life. She’s been searching for a love that she’s begun to believe will never come. Her family and friends at home depend on her, need her…but they can’t give her what she really wants. True, eternal love. Like the wolves have.
So as a solitary traveler, desperate to try something new and get away, she goes on an adventure of a lifetime to the Grand Canyon; rides the train from Williams to the South Rim and sees these huge wolves running alongside. Sees them in the evening twilight scurrying unbelievably below on the Canyon’s ledges among the trees. She’s told there are no wolves any longer in the region but she hears their haunting cries. No one else sees them and no one else hears them. Just her.
Have her senses left her; her loneliness made her crazy?
For there are wolves…unearthly prowling creatures that follow and achingly call to her…and in the end she must decide what she will do when she finally comes face to face with one.
The landscape, lush pines amidst rocky ground, rushed past the train’s window, blurring into a sea of green and russet. For a second, she thought she saw something…something running alongside them, a blur like a shadow. Then another and another one. So strange. The train wasn’t traveling that fast but the shadows were.
“You see that?” she asked the chatty woman in front of her, pointing. “Those shapes running alongside us?”
“What? I don’t see anything, running or otherwise.” The woman glanced back at her over her shoulder and smiled. A nice older woman on vacation with her nice gray-haired, hard-of-hearing husband.
“Right there among the trees–.” But when she looked again, they were gone.
“Animals maybe? Deer?”
“No, they looked more like huge dogs or wolves, even.”
“Honey,” the woman said, “there haven’t been wolves in these parts for years. Oh, they’ve reintroduced a Mexican species, bred in captivity, into the Blue Range of eastern Arizona, but they’re not allowed in this area. If they slip through, they’re captured and returned to the reintroduction area. A while back one made it all the way to Flagstaff but got killed crossing a highway on the edge of town.”
“Oh.” Must have been imagining things, Sarah thought. Well, truth was, she’d always been obsessed with wolves. Since she’d been a child she’d see them everywhere: in the intricate patterns of swaying tree leaves, above in racing clouds and in the swirling night fog outside her windows. Didn’t know why, she just did. Always, she’d been drawn to them. Was it because they were supposed to mate, cling to only one other of their kind, for life; when she’d been searching for and not finding her own true love since she was sixteen? She was still alone.
Oh yes, she wished more men were like the wolves. Faithful and everlastingly loyal.
Yeah, that’s what I’m looking for. A wolfish man who’d love me forever. She chuckled softly.
She returned to reading the travel leaflet on the Grand Canyon’s sites a person must visit. She almost knew it by heart. But she’d never been to the Canyon and didn’t want to miss anything.
With a sigh, she put the brochure in her purse, her fingers brushing against the tiny wolf charm attached to her keychain. If she didn’t know everything about the South Rim after as many times as she’d read that pamphlet, and looked at the websites on the Internet, she’d never know. Besides the magnificent view from the South Rim, she wanted to see the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, Kolb Studio, Hopi House and Lookout Studio. Have an ice cream soda at Bright Angel Lodge and gaze out at the Canyon through the windows. Since she was spending the night on the Rim, staying at the El Tovar Lodge, she’d have plenty of time to see them all.
Alone. Well, it wouldn’t be so bad. She could see whatever attractions she wanted whenever she wanted. Stay as long as she wanted. Or go. Not having to please anyone but herself. That was the good thing about being single. About the only good thing.
The train hostess for their car was at her side. “The buffet’s out now if you’d like anything.” The girl’s smile was genuinely friendly. Her name, she’d told them as they’d boarded, was Katie.
“Thank you. What are we having?”
“Danish, muffins of three varieties, orange juice and coffee. Fresh fruit. Help yourself.”
Sarah came to her feet, hands on the seat in front to steady herself, new purse hanging from her shoulder. The train lurched rhythmically from side to side and it made keeping her balance a little tough at times. It’d be easy to fall into some strangers lap. On second thought, if the stranger was young and handsome…hmmm.
Of course few of the men in the car were young or handsome. Or unattached. Most of the passengers were families or older retired couples. No chance of a love connection there.
Making her way to the rear of the car table filled with goodies, she poured herself a cup of coffee and placed two Danish, one cherry and one cheese, on a paper plate.
She’d never been on a train before. At her age, that was sort of a joke. But she’d really been looking forward to it. The train ride. This trip. New adventures. Anything to get away from her stale old life in a small Illinois town and open herself to the wondrous world she knew was out there somewhere waiting for her. It was past time she went looking for it.
For years she’d felt as if Arizona and the Canyon were beckoning her. Come to Williams. Come to the Canyon. Something truly incredible is waiting for you. She’d finally heeded the call because she could no longer deny it.
In her seat again, she ate her Danish, drank coffee and then went back for a plate of fruit. Food wasn’t half bad. Getting up so early to make the nine-thirty A.M. Grand Canyon Railway train from Williams to the South Canyon Rim had made her ravenous.
She gazed around as she sipped her coffee. The train trip experience was sort of hokey, with the generic cowboy skit at the station depot first and the well-rehearsed over-done spiel Katie the hostess had laid on them from the minute they’d boarded. But sweet. She hungrily drank in the southwestern atmosphere, the rocking of the train, the sights passing on the other side of her window.
The feeling that something amazing was going to happen to her.
A little boy across the aisle wearing a cowboy hat grinned at her and she smiled back. Everyone was being so nice. Probably felt sorry for her. Poor woman. All alone. On vacation all by herself.
She didn’t care, she was having a great time. Soon she’d be at the Grand Canyon and couldn’t wait. Her eyes slid back to the window. Maybe she’d see more wolves. No, that’s right they didn’t have wolves around here, she reminded herself, as her fingers traced a wolf shape on the glass. What animals did they have around here? She wasn’t sure. She’d have to ask Katie. Katie seemed to know everything there was to know about these parts.
Sighing under her breath, she wondered why she was thinking of wolves again. What was wrong with her lately anyway? Deep in thought, she continued to stare out the windows. Enjoying the ride.
“We’ll be pulling into the depot at the Grand Canyon in about five minutes,” Katie cheerfully announced. “If you’re riding back with us this evening, or tomorrow afternoon, be sure to be on the train on time promptly, or we’ll leave without you. And if you have to take a taxi back to the depot it’ll cost you a hundred and eighty dollars easy.” Her smile was practiced.
The passengers filed off, and along with the growing crowd from the other train cars, a herd of lemmings, Sarah excitedly headed towards the South Rim.
As most of the people milling around the Rim, she oohed and aahed, when she walked up to the short stone ledge and gazed over at the breathtaking sight of the rock abyss that went on forever. The sun was a ball of fire above her and sweat had begun to trickle down between her shoulder blades. Glistened on her flesh. Good thing she’d remembered to wear a hat and sunglasses. On the Rim there was no shade.
There was a stiff breeze blowing and it was shoving her closer to the precipice. She dug in her sneakers and straightened her spine. She wasn’t afraid of heights as some of those around her appeared to be. A few people were holding themselves away from the edge, their faces drawn and white as ghosts. Not Sarah. She was fearless. Leaning over her eyes took in as much of the magnificent gorge as they could, within reason. She wasn’t a fool. Not too close.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” There was a man standing beside her.
She looked over, her heart speeding up then slowing down when she saw he was old enough to be her grandfather. Nice long gray hair, though. Classic features. He might have been a retired actor as handsome as he still was. “Yeah, beautiful. I wasn’t prepared for how gorgeous it’d be. The subtle color variations in the rocks. The formations within the Canyon. The way it looks like some fabulous immense 3D image. Like you could just reach out,” she lifted her hand towards it, “and touch parts of it.”
“The way the light shines on the stone,” he added. “The endless textures.”
“Yes.” She fell silent, hoping he’d move on, but he didn’t.
“So hypnotic,” he continued. “I wonder how many people feel this urge to…jump.”
She turned and looked at him then. Laughed softly. “I hope not many. It’s a really long way down.”
He laughed at that. “People fall from here all the time.”
“No. They’re usually fooling around like those two over there.” He tilted his head at a young couple, the woman taking a picture of the man standing atop the stone ledge showing off. Arms spread wide. A silly grin on his face. “Lose their balance or get vertigo and…over they go.”
She shook her head. “So that’s how people die in these parts, huh?”
“Not always,” the man replied. “Some die down in the Canyon. Hikers mostly who underestimate the extreme heat and make the fatal mistake of not bringing along enough water or they just get lost. Or they drown on the Colorado River in the dangerous rapids. Or perish trying to climb the steep rocks.”
He slung his camera over his shoulder and exhaled. “Then there’s all the bizarre disappearances lately. Can’t say what’s happened to those people. But it’s gotten really spooky. Four people have gone suspiciously missing from Williams and in the Park in just the last week. Two the week before.”
She couldn’t help herself and asked, “How would you know that?”
“I’m a retired Williams’s police officer who has Ranger friends here in the Park.”
“Well, have a great visit, young woman,” he said, “but I’ll give you a good piece of advice. Don’t go out alone at night anywhere around here or in Williams. Especially tonight.”
“There’s a full moon.” And before she could ask anything else, he was gone. She watched him stride away down the path. Just a retired cop doing the tourist thing.
Since childhood Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before quitting to write full time. She began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
Kathryn has been married to Russell for thirty-four years; has a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and lives in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo.
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith
Buy Link at Damnation Books: http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79