Drawing of a wolf, under a tree, under a full moon. Caption reads: "The wolf saw the world in shades of grey."

Grey short story by Iris Carden

Grey, everything was in a gradient of grey. From the pale nearly white glowing moon, to the almost black depths of the shadow under the trees.

Something kept irritating the edge of her consciousness. Something that said it wasn’t always grey, something that hinted there was something she had forgotten. She tried, tried again, failed, to understand what that irritation was.

She padded the forest path down to the creek, drank deeply of the cool water that bubbled and splashed as it ran, in shades of grey.

Something didn’t seem right. She felt anxious, but she didn’t know why. There was something she should remember, but could not draw it to the front of her mind. She just knew there was something.

A rustling in the underbrush, and a snake slithered past. It was grey. Everything was grey. Surely it always had been that way. She couldn’t think of an alternative, and yet there was that irritation at the edge of her mind.

A koala in a tree roared and grunted his call for a mate. No other koalas paid any attention to him. He was left out, isolated. The wolf felt the same. Something made her ache for something she couldn’t remember.

She wandered to the top of the hill. She could look out over a huge collection of lights, twinkling brightly in shades of grey. It was like the night sky laid out on the ground. Something said she’d once known what those lights were. Once, but not now. It was part of the nagging mental itch, the irritation she couldn’t soothe.

She smelled the creatures before she saw them. It was a familiar smell, but she couldn’t place it. Cautiously she approached and found the strange animals sitting by a fire. Fire and animals do not mix, her mind yelled at her, but that irritation at the edge of her mind said something different. The sounds they made sounded strangely familiar, as if she should know what they meant.

If she could understand she would have heard the conversation:

“Is that a wolf over under the trees?”

“You mean a dingo or a dog?”

“No. I mean a bloody dirty great wolf!”

“There aren’t any wolves, you idiot! There’s no wolves in Australia.”

“I’m telling you there’s a giant bloody wolf over there under that tree.”

The animal jumped to its feet as it made this loud noise. To the wolf, it appeared an aggressive action forgetting the disturbing irritating half-thought, forgetting everything, she attacked.

The night was lost in the running, the yelling, the biting, the tearing, the rusty-iron scent of blood. Blood. Red. What was that thought in her head? What was red?

The woman woke with the first light of day, next to a destroyed campsite. She was naked, and dirty. Her hair was tangled with twigs and leaves. There was dirt and blood under her nails. Two torn bodies were lying near her, beside a shredded tent. There were no memories of the night before, just flashes of an old black and white movie: a forest world in shades of grey.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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