a paper man cut into shreds by his own pair of scissors

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POSTED: Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:02 am

Late autumn snow came to Nova Scotia, bringing a dreadful cold with it. The small house in Amherst was quiet as it ever was, a safe distance away from pack lands. The only real noise was the bustle of the horses kept in the garage and the cold wind causing the roof to creak. It wasn't enough to concern Levent, who despite his wanderer's nature didn't feel like moving from his new abode.

Perhaps he was too used to the luxury of a static life and a sturdy home. Perhaps that was what lead to what happened.

Would you fetch me the rings, arkadaş? I'm going out today. The Turkish wolf sat on the edge of his bed, nonchalant and absorbed in playing with a piece of rope. When the white cat trotted over with a small, clinking bag Level reached down to take it. He turned the bag over and the rings spilled into his palm, where he looked then over before sliding them, one by one, onto the rope. He knotted the loose ends then slipped the loop of rings over his neck.

You look ridiculous, Wilson remarked kindly, sitting and tucking his tail over his paws.

Levent grinned at him. I was simply tired of losing them all the time.

Last time I checked, you had ten fingers, Wilson replied, and the wolf laughed. He rose, reaching back to grab at his satchel, and counted the trinkets inside. As he did so, the cat stepped closer and twined himself around his ankles. You mean 'we,' by the way, he mewed.

Huh?

We are both going out today. The tomcat shot him a mischievous look, tail continuing to kink around a brown-furred calf. I don't intend for you to leave me out. Mai can watch the house herself; she'll bite anyone who tries to steal her or anything else.

I don't very much think Mai would be concerned with the stuff in the house, Levent growled, but didn't argue. He reached down and scooped the cat up in his arms; Wilson scrambled onto his familiar perch on his shoulder and purred loudly. From there, it was a matter of balancing his weight (easy enough) and the weight of the satchel packed with goods (not so easy), at least until they'd opened up the garage and Levent managed to saddle up the sooty buckskin gelding, setting the satchel on a stable place. He swung up onto Umut's back and urged him forward gently, shooting Mai a grin as she snorted and stood at the back of the garage away from the snowy winds.

The trio stepped out, and Umut plodded along carefully on the slick roads until at last stepping into the snowy grass and meandering through the city of Amherst to its outskirts. There they paused, discussing their options, before striking out toward the mountain in hopes of running into travelers in need of some goods. Most of the ride consisted of banter between canine and feline, with an occasional reassurance directed toward the skittish horse; it was cold and uneventful.

And then Levent saw the butcher.

Siktir, the man muttered, and could feel Umut shifting fearfully underneath him. His scars began to itch, the ones inflicted by the massive spotted dog then reopened by the d'Artisan border guard. Something else also began to itch, something he'd tried to suppress since the girl in Halifax: the desire to kill, to hurt then kill. But he remembered the horse when Umut snorted and stepped backwards, and he remembered the cat on his shoulder, and he forced himself to breathe.

What is it, Lev? Wilson hissed, ears flattening. You know that dog? He squinted then blinked, claws digging lightly into his shoulders. Is that the -- Levent, don't do anything foolish.

For once, Levent didn't intend to. He wheeled Umut around slowly then sent him into a canter when he was sure that the Freetown butcher hadn't seen him -- he who'd stolen the gelding out from under him, and fled the trading port in spite of wounds and more than a few angry Luperci at his back. He'd thought that he'd gotten off lucky, bearing little more than scars; saving Umut again after all these years had been worth it. It reminded him of a time when he was little more than an awkward teenager, rescuing exotic birds and other creatures from cages in the market, getting beaten for the trouble.

The only difference was now he didn't have a mother to protect him -- and he had no place to hide.

There, Lenny! came a shout from behind him, and then Levent fell to the ground, knocked from the saddle by a large club. He grit his teeth and tried to stand, but the club came down on his head this time, and he nearly lost consciousness for the explosion of pain in his skull. There was something more important than that agony, though, and his blue eyes darted frantically at the snowscape around them as Umut screamed in fear. He saw the spotted butcher jerk his reins down, while the club-wielding coyote kicked the fallen Turk in the ribs then rolled him over.

Dis yore t'ief den, Butcha? the coyote barked, stepping on Levent's throat. Whudja figure yore gonna do wid him? He shifted his weight idly as Lev fought for breath.

Get off him, the butcher growled, shaking his head. One floppy ear still had a great tear in it, though Lev was too busy panicking to feel smug about it. I need him alive, at least mostly. Slaves are fetching a fair price. He ran his hand along Umut's neck as the timid gelding whinnied shrilly. So're horses, and this one's fattened up and gotten real nice since he was stolen. He grinned. I have to say I'm impressed, heathen.

The brown wolf didn't glance at him for more than a second. He lay prone on his back, claws digging into the cold snow, and tried to breathe. His lack of response seemed to deserve punishment, however, because Lenny hurled the club down into his injured shoulder and caused him to scream.

And then the patch of camouflaged white beside him moved, and unsheathed its claws, and caterwauled as it slashed the face of the snickering coyote. Eyes watering from pain, Levent could only curl into a ball and let out a shrill whine as he watched the white body flung into the reddened snow. The coyote snarled, first kicking Lev in the throat then bringing the club down. Levent sobbed as he heard an anguished yowl.

Stop it! the butcher ordered, flinging a wad of snow at him. I swear to God, just get the fuck over it. Grab the thief, do what you want, we need to get back or the boss will leave without us. He snarled again as the coyote hesitated, considering the twitching form on the ground. We have a deadline, come on!

Lenny spat. I hate fuckin' cats, he declared, putting a hand to his bloodied face before reaching down and grabbing the scrawny wolf by the arm. He hauled him up to his feet, and when Levent staggered, impatiently hit him in the back of the head with the club again. Be fasta puttin' him on da horse, he offered in a whine when the butcher threw him an exasperated look.

The Turkish wolf was whimpering as he was dragged upwards again, feebly trying to throw himself to the side to get free, but the weapon kissed the back of his head and he collapsed again. His world went silent for a minute, and he felt himself change hands, the butcher's stronger but less haphazard grip on his arms. He fell back against the spotted chest and tried to open an eye, fixing what was left of his blurred vision on the form in the snow.

Wilson, Levent cried, and started to babble. Wilson, sevgili arkadaşım, uyan! He felt the butcher jerking him back, pulling him away, but he couldn't walk, couldn't feel his legs, couldn't feel anything. Uyan ve gidin, güvenli bir yer bulun, ben geri geleceğiz. He couldn't feel anything until he thought he saw the bloody shape stirring, and maybe it was just that last pathetic hope, the last figment of his insanity, but he spoke on and on with the last of his breath.

Ölme. Lütfen. Wilson. Seni seviyorum, seni seviyorum, seni seviyorum. Biliyordum, ikimiz de biliyorduk. Bu bir veda değil.


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