Wolves of the mountainous cottage

Short Story
Translated by Mahmood Shebat

Whispers of sweet breeze was floating nicely through that late afternoon, thereby marking twilight and evening fall, followed by drowsy calmness dominated the foot of the mountain that embraced the knoll, where a grape grove cottage falls asleep with its ancient stone walls, which poor standards of construction left it with hundreds of holes among the stones, and the so called roof was made of twigs of oak .

While the daytime light was receding gradually giving way to sunset and darkness, the young boy was trying to trace the figure of his grandfather, back from the village on his donkey with the next day supply, in his way up to the cottage. 

Yet, Jawad could not see the veteran farmer within eyeshot, which further aggravated the already abrasive situation, thus, he went back inside the cottage seeking safety to hide himself in the cold mattress. He occasionally, cautiously was moving from one corner to another, anxiously awaiting for the return of his grandfather.

Abu Saif was supposed to come back from the village two hours earlier, while his grandson is suffering that remote location.

Amid night has began lowering its black curtains, pieces of different-sized pearls began to flow in the dark blue sky,  the  small ones flickered as far as long distant galaxies, while the nearest were leaning upon the mountain's shoulder.

Noticing that the door of the cottage is still open fueled the boy's horror, where , with such a panic, he rushed and closed it, blocked it with the thick wooden bar as he had seen his grandfather does when the night falls, and then quickly returned to his  six-square-meter "fortress" , and wrapped his body with his "Majinot Defensive Line", the cloak of his grandfather.

Jawad sat scarily staring around him, he saw nothing but black and black, he then heard yowling of wolves and shouts of shepherds on the opposite tip of the valley.

 Such a state of scare recalled the tales of his mother in the chilling winter nights about the one-scarlet-eyed wolf, and the hyena who traces disobedient, unruly, and riotous children,  where the beast urinates on its tail and sprays its "anesthetic liquid" on their faces, once they are narcotized, they unconsciously follow him to its cave, where he proceeded in tickling them until they die of laughter.  The boy also remembered the stories of his grandmother about the golden-horn-rattle snake which “can swallow a huge cow”. 

The worried boy began to invocate so as his grandfather come soonest, or a winged fairy to land and save him from his predicament. He rewrapped the cloak tightly around his body, biting its tip to put an end to his trembling teeth. He then covered his mouth with one palm, and his eyes with the other, engaging in his silent weeping, making his utmost not to release any sound which may signal wolves,  hyenas, or snakes to his brittle "shelter".
Escalated fear attributed to loneliness and darkness increased the boy's confusion in what he had to do, he was afraid of that black space, "a bit of light might put him in relative rest", he thought,  he tiptoed to the shelf where his grandfather deposits the kerosene lamp, lit it,  kept it next to him, and wrapped the cloak again to cover him from his head to his soles, intending to absent himself, soul and body, anywhere else. Yet, not a bit of rest or tranquility.

Jawad stood up, headed to the thick wooden door, stuck  his ear to it to detect and secure that there are no wolf, hyena, or rattle snake outside waiting to ambuscade him. instead, he thought that he  heard hooves clattering of his grandfather's donkey knocking the gravel of the mountainous road ."No!", He was disappointed. He heard nothing but a distant wind blowing from the mouth of the valley.

The night landed with its whole thick darkness, still the old man did not return. The boy felt sneaking drowsiness, through which he  was immersed floating in that vacuum, during which, bits of tales of his grandfather about fierce beasts were interruptedly displayed. 

The boy's hearing caught barking, emanating from the other side of the valley, followed by two gunshots that repeatedly echoed through the valley space and faded away in the darkness of the night. The dogs barking  became louder and louder simultaneously with new shots : "Most probably fired by shepherds", he guessed, followed by dozens of gunshots. The boy realized that the shepherds were shooting at the wolves aiming on getting them away from their flocks. 

The little boy resumed praying and invocation so as to direct the wolves toward any destination, except for his cottage, he put off the lamp, rewrapped the cloak around him while the black obsessions were biting his hopes, pictures of colored ghosts were frequently changed, re-changed and recopied themselves on his childish screen, then replaced  by a ghoul with red eye and huge jaws. All those horrible views, including the horned serpent were showing in such a  problematic format which only meet in a fearful show in front of eyes of such a little boy, unintentionally left alone in that remote isolated place.

Three or more wolves arrived next to the cottage. They stopped there, started to turn around it,  scribbling fiercely at the door and walls, panting and breathing quickly, after ages of breath held, he heard them yowling and moving away, but his fear of them prompted him to suspect that they did not leave all. He stuck his ear to the wall, horribly surprised by warm breaths accompanied by nasty odor: "It is the wolf !!!" he assured himself, he started shaking like a light twig in a stormy night , he was no longer able to move when the wolves resumed scribbling at the door and walls from all sides.

During that critical and vital instance, the boy's tribulation came to peak, and further exacerbated when he heard the wolves scratching and digging underneath the doorstep, his fear told him that the fierce beasts are about to enter for tearing him up and share his flesh, he faintheartedly  cried out and jump off his nightmare, covered his mouth with his left palm,  holding his trembling  jaws with the other, weeping silently, fearfully and…. hopefully awaiting the gleam of his grandfather return.



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