The Outlaw – Part 7

Ben sat on the edge of the cliff that overlooked the sleeping camp of the natives. Sarah was somewhere down there, sleeping in one of their buckskin tents and hopefully dreaming of blissful things. It was a peace that Ben would never know again, one that he hadn’t known in over a century.

The pale moonlight shined down over the dessert, casting the landscape in a blue glow. The sight was the closest thing to comfort that he had anymore. While the world slept, somehow it seemed distant. Humans were safely in their beds and out of his way. That was the safest. But he knew that there were even worse monsters than himself lurking in the shadows somewhere out there.

With the wind blowing through his hair, he didn’t smell Geoffrey come up behind him. Neither did he hear him, but Ben wasn’t surprised at that.

“Mind if I join you?” he asked, the slight accent prevalent in his voice.

Ben didn’t bother looking over his shoulder. Neither did he bother answering. The old man would sit down whether Ben had anything to say about it or not.

As Geoffrey grew nearer, the tingling in the back of his head grew stronger until his ears seemed to be ringing with the sensation. Another reason he distanced himself from the rest of them was to alleviate his skull. He didn’t want to be constantly reminded that there was another of his kind close by. He had enough of this curse.

They sat in silence for the longest time, the way that men often did when they needed companionship. Conversation wasn’t needed. To Ben, though, he wanted none of it. Geoffrey’s presence was the last thing he needed.

An immeasurable amount of time passed before Geoffrey spoke. “I can sense that you are torn.”

“You’re a bright one, aren’t you?” Ben quipped.

“I’ve known it since we first met.” Ben could feel the old man’s eyes turn upon him, silently asking for answers.

Ben sighed and shifted uncomfortably, moving for the first time in hours. “Talking about it won’t change the past.”

“Yes, that may be true,” he replied in a sage tone. “But it could change your future.”

Ben let out a humorless laugh and leaned back on his hands to stretch out his back muscles. “I doubt that.”

“Then I will talk about it,” Geoffrey said. “The beast is strong within you. Stronger than I have ever sensed in another of our kind. This is why you can not hide your wolf eyes. The beast is closer to the surface, ready to emerge at any moment. Like a gun with a hair trigger, you’re a volatile weapon. You shun the company of humans for this reason. How you became this way, I can only assume. Perhaps you were changed on the brink of death when your humanity was hanging on by a thread. Perhaps your human side is weak and docile compared to the beast so it compensates for your timidity. Am I close?”

A cold sweat dripped down Ben’s back, despite the¬†moderately warm night air. No one had ever pegged him so well before. But he wouldn’t honor his assumption with a response. He still didn’t want to share how he became this way.

Geoffrey, however, didn’t badger him for an answer. He simply continued his speech. “I’ve been traveling the western territories for over a century now and I met a wise man from a tribe some years back. He knew I was a werewolf as well and told me a story that his father had once told him. It’s about two wolves that live within all of us, not just werewolves.”

Ben looked to his elder, finally realizing that he must have had centuries upon centuries of experience.

“One wolf is the epitome of evil. It’s greed, jealousy, and anger. The other is everything good. It’s happiness, joy, peace, and hope. They are constantly warring with one another. But the one who wins is the wolf who is fed the most.”

The two were silent for a few long moments while Ben pondered on what Geoffrey said. If this was true, then his beastly nature should have been tamed long ago. He did not start fights, he did not want to cause harm. In a sense, he didn’t feed the beast at all. He struggled each day to retain his humanity, rejecting the part of himself that he never asked for. He would have gladly died on that battlefield long ago if he had the choice.

Then again, perhaps in rejecting the beast and refusing to “feed” it, Ben was making it more angry. A hungry animal was much more violent than a satisfied one. But to what limit could he quench the blood thirst of the wolf within him? How many would have to die so he could feel that peace? Or should he just give up on his human side for eternity?

He hardly knew when it happened, but when Ben glanced over to Geoffrey, the old Englishman was gone and Ben was once more alone with his thoughts on that cliff edge.


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