TITLE: The Poacher
GENRE: YA Speculative
Lead in: An unwelcome human has been detained by a pack of wolves. The visitor is presently pinned to the ground by the animals. Oh - the wolves possess an unusual faculty: they can talk.
Bosc yelped. “Please.”
There was a pause while the big wolf stared at him. “Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to put my mouth around your neck, and you’re going to roll over and we’re going to sniff you to make sure you’re not carrying a gun tucked away somewhere. Then you can get up.”
Bosc breathed in relief. “All right.”
“As a favor, we’re not going to cripple your hands.”
“Thank you.” Bosc paled.
“After that, any time I wonder what you’re up to, I’m going go ‘Hmmm?’ and you’re going to stop what you’re doing and show me your hands. Do you understand?”
“You don’t get any second chances, all right? I say ‘Hmmm?’ and you show me.”
“I really hope you do. You know, we admire your smartness. You’re smarter than all of us put together.”
Bosc smiled weakly. “Right now that’s debatable.”
“It’s true, though. I bet you’re already thinking of ways to beat us, and given time you will. Your kind always beats us in the end. Always.”
Bosc swallowed. He looked into the pale, bleak eyes of the wolf. He had no answer for the animal. His mind was blank.
“Our only advantage is speed,” the wolf continued. “So if you make me nervous, if you make any of us even the teensiest bit nervous, we won’t hesitate to break your arms.”