Airiokko’s Story

Depression…
Sadness…
Pain…

These very words may mean nothing to you, but to me, they are my life. To me, these words are who I am. These words are my story…

The first look that I took upon the Earth was upon the beautiful night stars overhead. As I breathed in the nippy air that chilled my throat as it passed by and lined the inside of my lungs with a thin layer of ice, stinging my insides and making it difficult for me to breath, I stared with growing wonder at the blinking lights shining their little light along with the bright, full moon. I gasped and choked for the stiff air to enter, and found it difficult to adapt. Where was I?

After I grew used to the chill surrounding me and seeping into my lungs, I began to relax a bit and observe my surroundings. I was lying in a soft, white substance that soaked into my white fur, making me tremble and shake from the cold. The land around me was flat as far as my dark navy blue eyes could see and covered in the powdery white substance that I would later learn to be snow. The sky loomed overhead with billions of stars visible in the clearness. The snowy wasteland truly was beautiful, however there was nothing here.

The land seemed to run for miles without any sign of life besides one lupess resting beside me. I turned to glance to my mother who smiled back with deep love and affection reflecting from her light blue eyes. A shrill wind blew past my unprotected body causing me to quickly waddle up to my mother and snuggle into her warm chest fur. She wrapped her large, fluffy tail around me to shield me from the fierce wind, as she comforted me with soft hums. I lay there listening to the soft, rhythmic tones of her heartbeats and slowly felt my eyes fall. I gave a yawn just before falling into a deep slumber in the warmth enveloping me.

I awoke with a thud as I was slammed into a strange, dark, new area. I blinked with confusion as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. I heard harsh footsteps leave what sounded to be like a long hallway. I checked my new area and found a metal floor and ceiling connected with metal bars. I was in a cage. I had just enough room to sit and lie while keeping my head below my shoulders, making me feel very uncomfortable. As I awakened more, I noticed that there were many cages around me, all filled with howling lupes. Some slept from boredom while others chose to scratch frantically at the steel that held them prisoner.

Suddenly remembering my mother, I searched for her, only to realize that there were only lupe pups in this room. Feeling the loss of the only family that I knew, I quietly sprawled out against the cold, metal floor, longing to be released. As I thought in silence, I began to grow inquisitive. I wanted to get out of my prison and to explore the world, yet I was forcefully held here. I began to wonder about the other young lupes held here. How long had they been here, and why were they here? Why was I here?

As the sorrowful thoughts invaded my mind, I too joined the lupes by pulling my head back and howling out to the desolate world. As I sang my lupe song, I shared my feelings to the world. I told of my woe, and of my thirst for knowledge. I called out for my mother through my howl and pleaded for help. Just then, there was a sound of rushing footsteps through the darkened hallway. I jumped back against the back wall of my cage as a wooden stick was thrust at me, cowering in fear until I noticed that a man had begun to laugh at my fear. It was then that I grew a deep resentment towards the man with the stick.

Later, when the sun had risen and shed its light through the single window that floated high on the wall, a single fish was placed in a round, metal food bowl that rested in my cage. Starving, I ate my first meal, finally testing out my sharp teeth and filling my tiny stomach to comfort me to sleep. My sleep was deep as I rested through the day until night had just fallen. As I opened my navy eyes, I felt a strange presence in the room. I strained to see through the thick blanket of darkness but saw only what the stars allowed me to through the quaint window into the world. Something was different, I thought as I shivered from the cold wind. I then noticed that the window was opened, allowing the piercing wind to penetrate through my young fur. Someone was in here…

I twitched my ears to catch the sounds that traveled through the long, hollow room and noticed that a lone lupe pup had not gotten to sleep yet as he whimpered within his cage. A breeze suddenly blew past my cage as I heard the patter of paws on the tiled floor. The feet traveled lightly and quickly before stopping before my cage. My prison was then plucked from the ground and began to sway from side to side as I was carried from the top of one cage to another, awakening their contents. With the hallway echoing with lupe howls, I was tossed out the window into the soft snow before being plucked up once more and swept away.

Finally turning in my confined area, I saw that it was my mother who carried my cage within her mouth by the handle on the top. She took quick, light steps through the snow as she returned home with me. Knowing that I was safe within the protection of my mother, I yawned before taking a final look at the night sky.

There was a metal-sounding crash as I was awoken with a jolt. I shook myself awake to find my mother standing over my cage. It had been smashed open, allowing her to pick me up within the gentle grasp of her jaws and to place me beside her. Her soft, angelic voice soothed and calmed me as she spoke to me for the first time. “It is all right. You are safe now…Airiokko.” It had been the first time I had ever heard my name, but it would be the last time I would hear it from my mother’s reassuring voice. I rested against her soft, white fur in the happiest moment of my life, before it was drastically changed.

There was a loud roar coming from the empty distance that sounded unnatural. “Humanst…” my mother growled as I witnessed the fur on the back of her neck stand on end. “Come, we must go now.” Soon, my mother and I were dashing through the snow as a loud, metallic whirring sounded closer behind us. As I turned to peer over my shoulder, I noticed the man with the stick that had mocked at me earlier was now riding on a human-made vehicle. He drove his large snowmobile after my mother and me as we ran for our lives through the newly fallen snow. I stumbled awkwardly after my mother, trying to keep up with her speed, but quickly fell behind, as I had not learned to walk on snow yet. I saw the worry in my mother’s soft eyes as she turned to fling me from the snow into her mouth, before darting off again.

We came across a large hill of snow as my mother leaped into it, hoping not to be found. She released me as she covered our hole with snow, sweeping with her large, bushy tail, then we waited in obscuration. It seemed to take hours before the terrible sound came to halt, followed by the crunching of the man’s boots in the frost. The footsteps drew closer to our concealment as my mother whispered, “Too close…He’s too close. He knows where we are. He knows!”

I could feel trembling emitting from my mother’s body and was unsure if it was from the temperature, the fear, or her anger. “Stay here,” she whispered to me as she gave a slight grin, intently staring into my worried eyes. “I will be back!” With my mother’s remark, I watched as she launched herself with her skinny back legs through the pile of snow onto the man’s covered back. Peering through the opening of the hill that my mother had created, I was terrified as I saw her slash and tear at the man’s green parka. Her lips were pulled back into an evil snarl as she exposed her sharp claws and dug them into the man’s flesh. Scraps of human fabric were thrown about the ground, along with specks of red blood that stained the beautiful white of the snow. My mother jabbed her teeth into the human’s neck, causing him to scream from pain, and created immense wounds that appeared about his exposed back. The man’s skin was scarred and red with blood as he panted with exhaustion.

I noticed the fatigue of my mother as she weakened the grip she held with her claws in the man’s back. The human took advantage of this opportunity and brought his club down forcefully on my mother’s delicate back. There were sickening cracks as my mother yelped in pain from the blow and fell to the ground. I choked from fear and watched helplessly. The man struck my mother repeatedly before releasing his anger and standing upright and loosening his shoulders. He noticed that there was no more movement coming from the female lupess and rubbed his hand across his upper lip, wiping the blood from his face. “Stupid animal…” I heard him mutter under his breath before turning around.

The man began to walk away from my mother’s body before I heard a low rumble. My mother was alive! Shocked and terrified, the man quickly turned with his club armed and ready. As he turned, my mother had jumped with all the strength remaining in her body and had fiercely bitten into the man’s throat. As club met lupe and lupe met man, blood was shed across the ground with two screams of death.

I cried aloud and jumped from my veil as I ran up to my mother’s body. Turning away from the dead human whose neck had been ripped open, I approached my mother. Her body lay still and her eyes remained closed. “Mother?” I choked. “Mother, are you there?” I curled up against the warm fur of her chest only to feel the stillness of death. There were no soothing heartbeats. There were no soft breaths. My mother’s body lay limp in the snow as I cried out in sorrow. My only family was gone, stolen by cruel humans and I was left here to suffer. I quietly rested there in the comfort of my mother’s body heat until it slowly began to fade away into the bleakness of the winter.

Along with my mother, my soul disappeared from life. I fell into a deep depression that consumed over me and dragged on my mind. I wandered through the desolate snowy wasteland only to find that I could not escape the miles of nothing. My mind was filled with dreadful memories of my mother’s last fight, memories of the human killing my mother and beating her until she could not move. My nightmares kept me awake throughout the night, leaving me to the only company of the stars. I was alone in this dreadful, dark, sorrowful world filled with pain and confusion. My thoughts often mixed with emotions and questions that I could never answer. I lived with the guilt knowing that my mother gave her life to protect my own, and that she valiantly fought to give me a chance. I was forced to live without her, and turned to trust on instinct alone. I had no one there with me. I had no home, no love, no family. I was alone in the darkness and silence of the world.

As I grew, I learned from instincts alone. I found a lone rocky cave that provided shelter for me, and I had learned to hunt and survive on my own. The weather constantly provided me with new challenges to overcome, and I always kept my determination up. I became a strong, slim lupe who was able to survive in any condition the world could throw out at me. I was tough, and I was strong-willed. I lived through blizzards, harsh storms, and lack of food. I survived…without my mother.

It was then, that I thought that I was to live alone for the rest of my life, when she appeared…

The storms had grown tremendously worse one year, with decreasing temperatures, increasing blizzards, and longer, more frigid nights. The long night hours that I lay awake, troubled from disturbing nightmares, I could feel the depression bear down on me more than ever before. The days were very short with little sunlight, and gray, cloudy days. There seemed to be a haze over the entire world as I fought through my emotions alone.

It was one day while hunting that I first met her.

There was a sound that seemed to drift past me on the sharp wind. A low howl caught my ears for a second before dying out in the distance. It was far away, but it was there! Suddenly, my hopes returned to me as I began to run towards the distant sound that I had heard. My muscles worked together as they carried my body smoothly over the land, and my heart began to pump with a livelier beat than before. I could feel the hot blood pump through my veins with new life and new hope. My lungs demanded oxygen to supply to my blood to carry over my body as I ran and I panted as I gasped and choked through the frigid air. The cold breaths lined my lungs with ice, bringing me pain, however I pursued with an unusual grin on my face.

I remember the moment as clear as ever. It was one of my first and only joyful moments of my life as I was filled with new hope. I wanted something good. I wanted my life to change. I wanted to rid of the distress and darkness from my life. What if it was a good thing? What if it was a miracle?

As I continued on, the shape of a lupe began to form ahead in the distance. My slight grin grew to a radiant smile as I stared at the lupe ahead of me. Who was he? Why was he here?

Suddenly, the lupe turned as it heard me approach, and I was surprised to see that it was a lupess. She was the color of snow, yet her stomach, tips of ears, and tip of her tail were the color of a clear sky. There were silver dots that rested in a beautiful pattern below her eye, separated the light blue from the white of her tail, and one dot on the tip of each ear. Her wrists were decorated with “bracelets” of the silver dots, and her cheeks were a beautiful display of silver. In the middle of her forehead rested a large silver oval surrounded by one silver curved line on each side of the design. I stared into her eyes, the color of water with a light ring of silver accenting the rim of her iris. Her fur was thick and luscious as it form-fitted to her slim body, yet gave depth and warmth. Her coat was thick and fluffy, yet curved with her body, making her the most beautiful lupe that I had ever seen. Through her exquisiteness however her clear blue eyes showed her sorrowful emotions. I could easily tell that she had had as rough a life as I had, and that she too was searching for hope.

We took long glances at each other before she finally spoke, her voice the sound of a gentle breeze, “You have come! My prayers have been answered! Are you here to help? Are you here…from above?”

I noticed the delightful look about her face as her eyes widened and her face lit up before I answered. “I am Airiokko.” I paused, not knowing how to continue. I stared down to my navy blue paws before nervously continuing. “I have lived here alone all my life as my mother was killed by humans when I was young and I have never known my father.” I cleared my raspy throat as it awakened from its dormant sleep, happy to be speaking from such a long time of loneliness. I had not spoken much since my childhood.

“You live here?” she asked, her face instantly returning to its worried and hurt look. She too glanced at her paws and closed her sparkling eyes. “I have lived here my entire life also. I too, lost my mother at an early age, yet I do not know if she lives or not. Humans took her away from me, leaving me to live with my father.” She paused as she reopened her eyes and stared up to the cloudy sky overhead. “M-My father…couldn’t make it through this winter. He-he left me to live alone just a few days ago. I have no one now…” Her voice quivered as I could hear the raspiness of her throat from not being used for so long. A tear escaped from her eye as it soaked into the fur of her face, yet I could tell that she was drastically trying to fight it. She bit her lower lip before turning her back to me. “I am sorry,” I heard her whisper just before she ran off into the empty horizon ahead.

For a moment, I stood dazed and bewildered of what had just happened. Suddenly, I regained my wits and began to chase after the lupess although she was already gone. “Wait!” I called out. “Where are you going?” It was too late, for she was gone.

I went on with my life and pushed the mystery of the lupess to the back of my troubled mind. Every now and then, the memory would reoccur, and I would ponder over it in deep thought, but could never come up with a logical answer for why she would run off. I knew that she had gone through some troublesome times, just as I had; yet she fled from hope. She left from the only chance of happiness that came across her path. Perhaps it was just that she was troubled and fearful, and that she found it difficult to trust me. It was possible that the sadness and woe had broken her spirit and crushed her hopes and dreams enough to cause her to run from life. Her world was in more darkness than mine…

About a month later, I met with the lupess again.

As I stepped out from my cave one dark, starry night when sleep would not find me, I noticed an odd shape in the distance. Ignoring the fierce snow that blew against my face and tore at my eyes, I quickly ran up to the odd form and was shocked to see that it was the lupess and that she had fallen in the snow. Recollections of when my mother was sprawled across the snow, unmoving, and not breathing came into my mind at the fearful sight. Was she alive? I quickly laid my black-tipped ear upon her chest as I listened for a heartbeat. It was there, but it was faint and sounded as if it could fade at any moment and her breaths came quietly and rigidly as she sprawled helplessly across the ice and snow. I knew that I had to help the lupe as I crouched onto my forelegs and dug my head under her stomach, flipping her over my strong back.

I powerfully returned to my cave with the lupess on my back, with the wind, rather than against it, and had the lupess lying beside a warm, raging fire, out of the snow and ice in a few minutes. Making sure that she was comfortable and safe, I took my side of the cave, lying out against the wall and staring into the fire. I was waiting for the lupess to awaken when I realized how skinny she had become since the last time I had seen her. Her thick fur hung loosely from her bones as her back hips clearly showed through the skin. Her muscles and fat had been eaten away, and she needed nutrients. I decided to hunt to get some food for her to eat, hoping to surprise her when she awoke.

As I returned from my hunt with a fresh kill for the lupe, I was surprised to see my cave empty. There was no sign of the lupess and the snow had quickly covered her tracks outside. She had left the fire banked to keep it burning longer, but had not left any sign of where she had traveled. Once again, she was gone.

Once again, I tried to make sense of her fleeing only to come across the same conclusions. As I thought more and more of the lupess, I began to realize how much I had come to care for her. I was terrified when she had fallen, and I had hoped that she would make it through all right. Now as she constantly came across my mind, I noticed that a smile would also follow. I felt a new awakening in myself ever since the first encounter with her. My hope had returned, and I felt a purpose to live. I felt that she needed me and that I could help her whenever she needed. I knew that she could not survive on her own, and I hoped that I would meet with her again soon. My depression had not been so consuming, and I had easily been able to control it. I felt as if I was a new lupe, and I was glad to know that there was someone other than me in this world. I no longer felt alone or lost in the frigid darkness of depression.

My hopes came true as I heard a soft howl in the distance when resting in my cave. As I left the comfort of the warm, blazing fire, I stood out in the blowing snow, squinting into the distance. It was then that I saw her upon a snow-covered hill directly ahead of me. She stood with her long, thick fur blowing in the harsh wind and the snow covering her in a veil of white. She began to run down the hill towards me with a smile on her face. As she reached me, she stopped a few feet away and stared into my dark eyes with a sorrowful look of worry and dismay. A reassuring smile came about my face as my eyes reflected a friendly glow.

Suddenly, she ran against me and buried her face into the navy blue of my chest. I could hear her cry and whimper, most likely from relief and delight. I felt her whimper against me as I looked down upon her head. I laid my head upon hers and whispered in her ear. “It is alright. You are safe here. You can always trust me.”

Upon hearing my words, the lupess gave a final cry before glancing up at me. “Am I really?” she asked me. “Can I…trust you?” There was a slight look of disbelief and disappointment in her eyes as she tried to have faith in me. I could tell that she wanted to trust me, but she felt that the world had turned its back on her and that she was to be alone for the rest of her life.

“Come,” I answered. “Come in where it is warmer.” I led her into my cave as she rested against the wall by the fire. I took my spot a few feet away from her and released a deep sigh of stress. Tears were no longer shed from the lupe’s eyes, however they still danced along their edges. I was able to see the fire’s flickering reflection in the sparkles of her tears as she stared into the blaze with deep thought.

After she had finally felt comfortable enough to speak with me and to share her feelings, we became great friends. I learned that her name was Snowfiss and that she was distraught with the mystery of whether or not her mother was alive, and saddened with the death of her father. She feared of putting her trust in others and still has not completely opened up to me, however she has decided to live with me for she could not survive without her father. Unlike me, she was not able to adjust easily to her situation when her guardian died, and she realized that she would not be alive had it not been for me.

After finding out about Snowfiss, learning of her life and her past, we have spent a great deal of time together. My feelings for her have grown and she has told me that she too shares the same feelings for me as I do for her. We realized that we had both gone through troublesome times and that we had both fallen into gloomy depressions, however we held together through our strong love for each other. Without Snowfiss in my life, I would not see any reason for living, for she has awakened my spirit and revived my hopes and dreams. Together, we can get through anything.