Twice upon a time, twice upon a place, existed a spirit drowning in misery.
One, thirty-four year old Jeremiah Scottson, had lived off the street for a year after divorcing his wife of 5 years and was often found in a drunken stupor; the other, 4-year-old black-phase grey wolf/labrador hybrid Midnyte, was down to flea and tick-infested fur and bones as her owners found her an inconvenience to clean, feed, or even water regularly.
Jerry's divorce devastated him, though the divorce itself put an end to an ever-increasingly dissatisfying marriage. Jerry and Samantha loved each other strongly enough at the beginning, but as time progressed, even having a daughter between them left Jerry feeling distant, as though he didn't belong though he had married Samantha so he could feel as though he belonged to -something-. Samantha pleaded with Jerry, told him how much she loved him, but grew wary of her efforts as Jerry drew more and more distant from both her and their daughter Laura.
Jerry lost more than his interest in marriage; realizing losing his wife and daughter compounded to a growing emptiness within him, and he gave up on life altogether. Even before the divorce, Jerry more and more sought companionship with a bottle more than other people.
He didn't hate his wife, and especially didn't hate Laura, but with the emptiness he felt, he just wasn't right for either of them.
As for Midnyte, the family responsible for her thought it would be 'cool' to own a wolfdog after browsing the classifieds listing several breeders. She, too, found emptiness ... no sooner had she weaned than she was yanked from her labrador mother and grabbed by arms stroking and cuddling her. The stroking and cuddling lasted all of about two weeks, then faded. Afterward, she found herself locked in the backyard, never allowed in after a couple messes and one shredded pillow.
Her human family visited her less and less, then only for food and water, and gradually even that came to a stop.
Jerry abandoned independent living, and tried to fill his emptiness by volunteering for several organizations. When they failed to help him feel better about himself for his work, he would move to a different one; eventually, he stumbled into a canine rescue group.
This still failed to fill his emptiness, but he found himself tired of searching, and stuck with the rescue group.
Neighbors, worried about Midnyte's condition and (more likely) feared having an uncared-for part-wolf mongrel in the neighborhood, called the rescue group Jerry was in; through them, Jerry had helped in several dozen rescues. Jerry would load the dogs into the van, bathe them at their shelter, feed and water them, see to the sanitary cleanliness of the kennels and socialize with them as much as possible; he also aided with the euthanization of dogs for whom a home could not be found within 60 days of rescue.
Jerry's group dispatched someone to investigate the case with Midnyte, observing the pen where Midnyte was kept. Seeing her abysmal conditions, the investigator contactedthe police to report animal abuse as well as arranging for the center to perform a rescue. The police authorized the center to proceed, and interrogated the adults of the family outside the home when Jerry arrived in the van with two other group rescuers.
The only access to the yard with Midnyte in it was through the house, which the police had opened for the rescuers to access. Jerry walked inside, making his way through ... the house itself was dirty, though obviously there hadn't been any dog in there for awhile. Jerry cringed looking through the kitchen window at the back yard; it was so mucky, he couldn't make much out. Then, a mud-and-dung-encrusted ghost of a wolfdog raised her head from the muddy yard, and looked at him with her blue eyes.
Something within that barely-living creature reached into Jerry's own eyes and froze his heart ... he'd seen worse; several times had he arrived at a scene and found dogs neglected to death. Jerry barely reacted to such scenes, somewhat bothering his fellow volunteers. But there was something about her...
Midnyte tucked her bony, filthy tail under herself and hid from the rescuers until Jerry came out. Jerry stood in a line as the other two rescuers (both having greatly more experience than Jerry) tried cornering Midnyte to capture her, but she managed to get around them and headed straight to Jerry. He reached out to hold her still, but it proved unnecessary; she sat by him, never removed her gaze from him, and raised a mangy, filthy paw to him.
The other rescuers stopped in their tracks ... Jerry was not a star rescuer. His work was appreciated, as he never flinched at even the filthiest jobs, but he never showed warmth nor, prior to this, demonstrated the slightest hint of 'animal magnetism.'
Jerry reached for her collar to walk her out, but found it embedded into her neck; considering her famished state, it was surprising anything could be too tight for her. The collar was obviously placed upon her when she was a pup and never removed. As Jerry sat on his knees and checked her over, she put her paws over his shoulder.
As Jerry very gently rubbed her back, patches of fur, blood from fleabites, and a lot of mud stuck to his hands. She reeked of urine and feces, but Jerry did not react in the slightest to this, but softly stroked her and she laid down. Jerry picked her up by her hind legs, keeping her forepaws and head over his shoulder. He wrapped one arm around her back for support and kept the other under her hind legs.
"Uh, Jerry, you uh ... want any help there?" Rynn, the lead rescuer, finally asked.
"She's fine ... I want to carry her myself," Jerry said.
Rynn and Jeff could hardly believe the sight of Jerry clutching this canine; his interactions with dogs had always seemed distant prior to this encounter.
Jerry bathed her at the shelter, taking much more than his usual amount of time and effort doing so. The amount of feces, mud and blood caked into her fur was terrible. Even worse, however, was how much fur came out with the gunk as he bathed her gently. Huge patches were missing, leaving several large areas of bare skin exposed.
All the while he bathed and handled her, Midnyte remained very calm ... in fact, actually non-plussed. She gazed straight through Jerry, but toward other rescuers, she became defensive and even hostile if they tried to cornering her. She stayed near Jerry whenever she could, but did not react at all to him nor anything he did.
Because of her behavior toward the other rescuers, and the community hysteria over wolfdogs, the rescue group decided to put her down less than a week after her rescue.
A pain worse than his divorce and seperation from his wife and daughter welled within Jerry ... then anger, to the point he told the group he would no longer volunteer after her scheduled euthanasia. They hardly blinked.
More than that, Jerry decided if Midnyte was to be put down because no one wanted her, he would do the same to himself, since no one wanted him, either. The day before the planned euthanasia, however, a different scheme occurred to Jerry: steal her.
Jerry had slept at the shelter in exchange for his all-night volunteer work ever since he started with the group, about 6 months prior to Midnyte's rescue, so he had access 24 hours a day. No one else dropped by at night, just an occasional middle-of-the-night call from someone trying to arrange for a rescue.
An hour after the last volunteer left for home, Jerry retrieved a full series of vaccinations from the medicine refrigerator and injected Midnyte with them, as given the planned euthanasia, it was been decided to not waste any upon her. He let her out of her cage and allowed her to roam the shelter as he packed his old sleeping bag and other items into his knapsack. He took a lead hanging from the wall, but instead of putting it on Midnyte, he merely packed it into his knapsack as he thought to himself, " ... only if necessary." He took some treats and gave her one on the spot, placing bagful of the remainder into his knapsack along with two bowls and a small bag of kibble that had been donated (but the center usually just tossed away anyway because its too low-standard and they needed to feed all the dogs the same kibble).
Jerry decided to bathe her, and it was 3 a.m. before Jerry finished, locked up the shelter, and headed out. He walked through town for hours to the train yard and hopped into an empty, open cargo car, Midnyte right behind him the entire time.
Jerry found a hiding place between stacks of empty pallets and, exhausted from not having slept all night, laid on his side on the floor. Midnyte laid beside him, her back to Jerry's front.
"It's jus' you and me, kid," quipped Jerry. Midnyte perked her ears, but did not turn her head to look at him; her eyes remained fixed in their gazed at an angle between the pallets toward the door as dawn began breaking and the train started.
Jerry softly stroked her head, then scritched behind and between her ears. Midnyte arched her head back, gazed at him, and softly licked his hand ... Jerry melted, unable to believe how soft her tongue was; most dogs have somewhat soft tongues, but hers was extremely so ... Jerry had assumed wolves would have rougher tongues to deal with the outdoors.
Jerry scritched down her fur-and-skin patched back, and gained her contented pant.
"I dunno what it is about you, girl..." he started, but not even knowing himself where he meant to go with that.
" ... but I -need- you," he whispered.
Jerry suddenly looked off into space. "Christ, what the fuck am I doing ... talking to a dog ... jeez, running off with a dog?"
Midnyte stopped panting and gave Jerry a freezing stare, baring her fangs.
"Yeah, like you understand English ... dammit, what the fuck am I doing!?"
Midnyte grrrrowled lowly, then stood up and padded a few paces in front of Jerry.
Jerry looked at her ... seriously looked. Although she was clean, her coat was half-gone and though she had been fed, she was miserably gaunt. Still...
"Gods, you are beautiful..."
Jerry's eyes saw something other than the physical form in front of him.
"What -is it- about you, girl? What do ... what did you see in me? Why me? Why d'ja like me?"
Midnyte turned around, faced Jerry, and padded closer to him. Something in her eyes...
Jerry reflected inward on himself ... when he suddenly noticed the emptiness had gone ... the realization of this was very unexpected.
"What the FUCK!?"
Jerry forced himself to remember the wife and daughter he had left. "Why the fuck did I feel empty even with -them-!? What the hell are you to take it away now!?"
Midnyte sat silently, gazed directly into Jerry's eyes.
"So you're a fricking half-wolf. Big deal. I can't have a family with dogs or wolf!"
The more he heard himself downplaying the impending realization of truth, the more Jerry knew he was feeding himself bullshit.
"So what, do we have sex now!?"
Her jaw suddenly parted and she panted.