© Julie Knipp
It was a stormy night long ago. I lay in my bed watching as the lightning flashes. I count until the thunder rolls as I always do when a storm decides to break. I've been doing this for a while and have noticed that the storm is moving closer. I pull the blankets up to my chin and a small flash of fear goes through me. An intense feeling that something's going to happen grips my body as another flash of lightning streaks through the sky. It seems to me that the closer the storm gets, the more intense the feelings of fear and anxiety become. I close my eyes and let my mind close off to all thoughts. The feelings still grow but I find myself in that wonderful place between wakefulness and sleep. The place where everything seems to float, including yourself. A calming force starts to take over the fear and anxiety. A blinding light and deafening thunder take over my calming force and suddenly I'm somewhere else.
Fear takes over every fiber of my being as I don't know where I am. I'm no longer in my warm cozy bed, but outside in the storm and in complete darkness. The storm is still growing strong and I wonder why I am not getting wet. I try to move but feel as though I'm paralyzed. I fell confused and disoriented as there is nothing physically holding me down. My body feels lifeless and my mind is groggy. The confusion ends abruptly when I realize where I am. Bars crisscross over the door next to my head. I'm in a cage. I realize the lifeless and groggy feelings the I am experiencing is the result form being drugged. But why? Who would do such a thing to me? I hear an engine start and the cage I'm in rattles slightly. I turn my head to look out the barred door and see what appears to be a forest of trees. I'm sensing that I know this place, that these woods seem so familiar to me. Where am I? Why is this place so familiar? My mind refuses to work. I feel as though I've been here before, maybe even lived here. I try to move, hoping to escape before the truck I'm in starts to leave taking me with it. It's useless. My body does not respond to me in any way. The truck is moving now. The road it's traveling on is very bumpy and I can't stop myself from being thrown around this prison I find myself in. The woods are growing shallow and a sadness falls over me as I know that I will never see this place again.
It seems to take forever for the journey to end but finally, two days later, it does. I have been kept drugged the whole time but am starting to come out of the daze my head has been in during this trip into the unknown. The sounds and sights are not familiar and throughout the trip the truck had stopped several times. I could hear voices of the people talking but could not understand the words. We would stop at places filled with engines so loud they rattled my cage and noises of air being forced through a small opening. They never stayed long, the people who took me, and the truck would move again. Now we are somewhere new and frightening to me. Someone lifts the tarp from the back of the truck and I am blinded by sunlight. I try to shrink back inside this cage as far as I can go but someone pulls the cage off the truck. I'm lowered to the ground and can now see through the holes at the top of the cage.
They have placed another cage next to mine. The smells in the air are new. The sounds are strange to me because they are the same yet different somehow. The temperature outside is rather warm for this time of year. There's a pressure in my ears that I am unaccustomed to. I feel kind of funny since they have not drugged me for a while. I wonder why they have brought me here, away from my home. If they should try anything that I don't like, such as drugging me again, I will have no choice but to fight. And fight I will.
The cages are now being carried along a trail that seems to go deeper into the woods. Squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons scurry along the trees. They carry the cages a distance before going through a gate. This little trip beyond the gate only takes a few minutes before the cage is set down. The doors to my prison open but I refuse to move. I'm too frightened to leave the cage as I'm not sure what is beyond these walls. In this cage I seem to be safe. A rustling sound next to my cage startles me into moving further back into the cage. Cautiously, I move to the door of the cage and look outside. I am aware of the sound of birds singing and squirrels running along the trees. The air is crisp and clean and the pine trees nearby fill my senses. There has been no other sounds. I sense no danger beyond the cage and very slowly step out. The other cage is empty and I wonder why.
I take off at a run trying to get as far from that cage as I can. I don't run far, however, before I come to a fence. I find that I am in yet another cage of some kind. Only this one is bigger. I turn when I hear footsteps behind me. It's my sister! It was she who was in the cage next to mine! We wonder why we have been brought here and what we're supposed to do now. There seems to be no way out of this new cage. We head back to where the cages were left following the fence line. The cages are gone. In their place is some food. We approach it slowly, staying alert to all the sounds. I hear nothing and the food smells very enticing. Hunger takes over any fear we have as we tear into the food left us.
After the food is gone and our stomachs are full, we explore our new surroundings. We have seen no signs of anyone having been here. For the next few days we do nothing but explore, searching for a way out. We have become homesick and miss our brothers. We had hoped that they would come here to be with us but, as the days turn into weeks, that hope fades. We're back to our old selves now, my sister and I, playing or just lounging in the sun together. In the time we've been here, no one has come to take us away again. Food always appears where the cages were left that first day, almost every day. By who and why we don't know. A few months later, the food that has been left is different somehow. It doesn't taste quite the same. No matter. We're too hungry to really care. Soon after, we both feel lightheaded and very tired. We lay next to each other and go to sleep.
When I awaken, I find myself bouncing along in yet another
cage. I'm fully awake a heartbeat later and discover that my body works. Whatever has caused
me to sleep was not as strong this time. Yet I find myself in a repeating nightmare. Now
where am I being taken? Why do these strangers keep putting me back into this prison? Where
is my sister? My questions are soon answered. The truck stops and I find myself being carried
into yet another forest of evergreen trees. This place is different than the one I was at
before. The door is opened but again, I am too scared to leave. There is a clearing up ahead
and I sense movement. I turn to look next to me and see another cage. Is that my sister? I
leave the cage slowly and see my sister do the same. We stare at the clearing and watch as
something comes out from the edge of the trees. It's our brother! He calls a greeting to us
and we run to him. Soon, our other brothers join us. Among the family is a new face. The
oldest brother tells us that she is his mate. They will take over the care of the family. We
all take off into the woods, running for the pure joy of it. There are no fences here and I
feel a sense of freedom that I have never felt before. For not only has my body been freed
but my spirit as well. As night falls, we all gather close together and go to sleep. Tomorrow
is another day.
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