Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Choosing to Live by Caitlin Ricci

October 14, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

The wind was blistering cold on the high snow blown ledge. It whipped around him, lashing his long brown hair against his cheeks. Through the murky white sky he could just barely see the sun begin to caress the horizon. This was going to be a long night.

Adrian groaned and tried to rise up to escape the blanket of snow that covered him where he lay sprawled out on a stony ledge. He rose unsteadily to his feet, dizziness and nausea washing over his in churning waves. Standing on his left foot though was instantly rewarded with white hot pain that shot up his leg until it stopped in his thigh. He collapsed gracelessly to his knees in the snow. Hot tears stung his eyes as the pain continued to surge through him. He gasped for air in the frigid climate, each breath causing him to cry out as it stung his lungs. He rolled over onto his side, adopting the fetal position as his best bet for the time being. He pulled his thin windbreaker tighter around his body, snuggling as far down into the thin material as he could manage until only the tips of his ears were visible around the wave of his hair. At least it was a little warmer.

How he ended up in this mess he couldn’t begin to understand. He remembered being in the small charter plane. That much he was certain of. But how he managed to get from his comfortable spot on the plane to this bit of snow covered earth was beyond him. He looked around wearily, trying desperately to find any hint of a landmark to tell him of where he was. But there was nothing. The snow was too thick to see through and what little he could see only resembled more mountains. This made no sense. They weren’t even supposed to fly through mountains today. Had the pilot gotten confused in the storm? Was he somewhere out here too?

Adrian spent close to the next hour yelling for the pilot or anyone else to no avail. Wherever he was, he knew that he was alone.

Running through a quick list in his head he soon concluded that everything he had ever been taught about wilderness survival was useless besides the obvious of try to stay warm and don’t fall asleep which were both quite unhelpful in the situation he had found himself in. He would make sure to do those amongst finding firewood to build a signal fire while also splinting his broken ankle. And of course he would hate to forget to do those while making tools out of stone and wood for catching something to eat. He really would hate to starve before he froze to death.

Adrian grumbled to himself and shrunk into a tighter ball. Like his father always said; sarcasm and a bad attitude will help no one. He had to stay awake. He knew this just as much as he knew that he had to keep breathing and that shivering was a good thing. But cold weather had always made him sleepy and it certainly was cold now. Adrian recited the laws of physics a few times to stay awake before his eyes finally closed and he succumbed to exhaustion.

Waking up when one hasn’t had nearly enough sleep is never a pleasant experience. Neither is waking up like that compounded with surely broken bones and an aching body screaming against even the smallest movement as Adrian soon realized. He shivered involuntarily before realizing that he was no longer cold.

Adrian opened his eyes fully and blinked against the brightness of the sun reflecting at him from the snow. The one dark spot near him was a fluffy bit of fur lying along his left side. He froze and tried not to even breathe as he waited for whatever kind of animal it was to leave him alone. But the beast only turned its big head and looked over at him with impossibly bright amber eyes. Then, because of course Adrian had to add hallucinations on top of all the pain he was in, the animal rose up on its four paws, then slowly shed his fur until a man crouched next to him. He was naked, save for the snow blowing against his tanned skin.

“I have a concussion,” Adrian said aloud. Pain plus hallucinations meant concussion. He was sure of it.

The man, the wolf, laughed. “Probably. You are pretty banged up. I’m Frost, by the way. Named for the winter night I was born on. I was scouting when I found you. When you’re ready to go get warm I’ll take you back to my pack. They’re expecting us but I was told to wait until you woke up to bring you to them, in case you refused our help.”

“Your… pack?” Adrian’s head was swimming wildly. If he hadn’t thrown up already he was surely going to soon.

Frost nodded enthusiastically. “My family. My brothers, my parents, my cousins. Everyone. Are you going to come with me?”

Did he really have a choice? “And if I don’t? Then what?”

Frost shrugged. “Ever hear of those people that get lost in the mountains and their bodies are never recovered? Well, that’s generally because they chose to join a pack. Or there are those people who their bodies are found months later. They likely refused our help. Or tried to go back to their families after we did help them. We’re all over the world and you’re not really in a position to refuse and still live so…”

In short, come with him and he got to live. Refuse and he would likely die a horrible, snow covered death where he froze and someone still would probably never find his body. Those were both such wonderful options. This was so freaking fantastic. Adrian sighed and made the decision to live. “Fine. Fine. Only one problem though, my ankle’s broken.”

“You’d give up your family to be able to come live with me and mine?” Frost seemed so surprised.

Adrian tried not to shiver as the thought of the quickest, and simplest, way to explain things to him. “Family isn’t something I exactly have a lot of. The only people that might miss me are my co-workers in the travel magazine I write for. Plus, my options aren’t exactly promising out here. How are you getting me to your pack with my broken leg?”

“You’re going to ride me.”

He grinned at Adrian, who instantly got the wrong idea with a good looking naked man crouched in front of him. “Sure. Let’s go with that plan.” But even as he said it Frost began to shift back into the form of the wolf, only this time he was twice the size he’d been before and now was much closer to the height of a small pony.

“Nifty trick.” Adrian got to his feet, with a lot of difficulty and hanging onto Frost’s shoulder for support. Frost bent down and Adrian managed to slide himself onto the wolf’s narrow back. He didn’t even spare a thought for the life he was saying goodbye to as Frost began trotting into the snow. This was a choice of survival, and when it came down to it he would rather live with a bunch of naked wolf shifters than die on some mountain he didn’t even know the name of. Being surrounded by men who looked as good as Frost did wasn’t even going to be a hardship.

Caitlin Ricci

Website: http://www.CaitlinRicci.com

2 Responses to “Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Choosing to Live by Caitlin Ricci”

  1. Melle says:

    Great read…makes me want to know what happens next!

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