This short story has been inspired by the real-life events of a giant wolf head being discovered in Northern Yakutia in Siberia. It was dated back to the ice age and the flesh has been beautifully preserved for 30-40,000 years. The wolf head is still snarling and there’s some speculation that hunters had cut off its head. It made me want to write about how this giant woolly wolf may have met its end.
This story takes place about 40,000 years ago in an area of the world which is now known as Siberia. The climate was much colder back then and life was not easy for the inhabitants of this area, yet the struggle for existence continued. The adaptability of Neanderthals allowed them to survive and endure, even up against the odds of deeply freezing winters and voracious predators. Cave lions, giant wolves, woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceros still wandered the earth in abundance.
This particular area of the world was a dangerous place to live for prehistoric people and yet, with some ingenuity and determination, a group of Neanderthals had been able to make a home for themselves here.
There was a group of about a dozen of them living in a camp that was set up around the bottom of a cliff-side. Along the rock face which wrapped around the side of a mountain was a cave, this cave was used by the group of Neanderthals for communal purposes such as fires, cooking or to simply find shelter from dangerous weather. On the outside of this cave, on beds of soft snow, there were huts created of animal leathers, furs, and the tusks of woolly mammoths. These huts were easy to put up and take down, matching the needs of a nomadic people who were apt to relocate when things were tough.
There was one Neanderthal in particular who stood out as unique among the others in his group, and his name was Syrgen. He was about 5’7″ tall. He had a very masculine face with wavy brown hair, a prominent forehead, a thick, wide nose and a strong jawline covered by a thick unkempt beard. His stout head rested upon wide shoulders and a thick, strong trunk covered in warm animal furs. He was not known for his strength, although he was strong like most Neanderthal men, he was rather known for his creativity.
One of Syrgen’s greatest accomplishments was building a fence nearby the camp which his group had been using to keep two bison calves that they had captured while hunting mature bulls. The group was raising these bison for when they would need them the most. Syrgen was proud of this accomplishment and he spent a great deal of his time tending to his herd while the others had hunted and gathered.
One night, when the world was feeling bitterly cold in the midst of a storm, the group had gathered in the cave to huddle together around a fire and to share each other’s body warmth. The wind whistled and howled, the snow blew hard and darkness engulfed the land in a blanket of shadows.
When Syrgen finally awoke the next morning and went to check on his buffalo, he was distraught to find that his bison were missing! He hurried over to the pen to investigate only to find blood, chunks of animal fur and a broken fence. Not only that but trailing through the broken fence there were the massive paw prints of an animal dragging bloody carcasses through the snow. About 100 feet from the encampment, on the edge of a nearby forest, lay the remains of Syrgen’s two Buffalo calves torn to shreds and mostly devoured. He was enraged, and belted out loudly thumping his chest with a closed fist!
As soon as his blood-curling yell had finished, he stormed off to his hut and grabbed his wooden spear. Two other Neanderthals approached to see what the commotion was all about with their own spears in hand. When they realized what had happened to the clan’s Buffalo they showed solidarity by joining Syrgen in his hunt. The group returned to the spot where chunks of Buffalo lay in a pile and then they followed the bloody paw prints away from the camp.
There were no clouds that day and the sun was shining brightly, causing the snow to glisten under the sun’s warm rays. The Neanderthals followed the animal tracks down a path between two forests, they squinted as they scanned the distance for this beast. The paw prints were nearly as large as a human hand, but the Neanderthals were not the type to scare easily. To leave a predator loose in the wilderness around their camp was dangerous and a big risk. Especially a predator so brazen as to look for its meals in their very backyard.
They followed the canine footprints through a forest and over a hill, where they came to another clearing before a river. At the edge of the river was a large woolly looking wolf with teeth as large as fingers chewing on the skull of a cave lion’s cub, licking his blood-stained paws and lounging in the sunlight.
As the Neanderthals approached the wolf, it had caught their scent in the wind. It then stood up to turn towards them. The wolf’s ears dropped down and it’s back arched up. Its large fangs were exposed while it snarled, growled and barked. The three Neanderthals spread apart to try and catch the wolf by his flanks. Syrgen marched towards the wolf head, determined, with his spear pointed toward his prey.
The wolf watched the three of them with angry eyes, looking from the left to the right and back again, assessing the situation. Then he darted quickly towards the Neanderthal on his left while they were spread apart thirty feet away. The Neanderthal being charged roared as the wolf approached and just as he thrust out with his spear the wolf jumped over the top of it, ripping his throat apart with his fangs. The Neanderthal hit the snow clutching at his neck, painting the ground in crimson reds. Syrgen and his clan mate were now charging towards the wolf less than a dozen feet away. The wolf shot around and faced them, it’s back was arched ready to attack. It’s bloody maw dripped as it snarled.
As Syrgen drew near the wolf, it jumped and he threw his arm up quickly to protect his face. The wolf clamped on and took him to the ground like a rag doll, viciously shaking him. The wolf would have taken his arm right off of his body if it wasn’t for the other Neanderthal who had grazed the wolf hard on its shoulder with the tip of his spear.
The wolf yelped and jumped back away, then limped around, turning to defend itself. The Neanderthal charged the wolf, but the wolf leaped to its side with great force leaving him to fall face-first into snow-covered earth. The wolf took advantage of this opportunity and jumped on the Neanderthal’s back piercing the back of his neck and shaking him ferociously.
Just as it seemed his head would be dislocated from his shoulders Syrgen rushed the wolf and pierced its neck with his wooden spear. He screamed ferociously and stabbed the wolf multiple times with the vindictiveness of a man who had just lost two brothers. The wolf yelped and gurgled blood as it lay there dying in a heap.
Syrgen grabbed the wolf by the woolly locks on the back of its head and tossed it off of his friend. He checked to see if he could help either of his Neanderthal companions but they were both already dead. This hunt had taken a heavy toll on his group and he bellowed out in remorse for his companions.
With a bloody, wounded arm he dragged each of his fellow Neanderthals to an open spot along the riverside and buried them in shallow graves in the snow. He would return one day soon to bury them properly with the rest of his clansmen. The graves would be made of stones and adorned with the skulls of their prey.
Syrgen walked back to the wolf and drew a primitive knife made from flint out of a leather pouch on his side. With determination, he sawed the head from off the beast and threw it’s head still snarling towards the riverbank. He then collected the wolf’s carcass, gutted it and carried it on his shoulders back towards the camp. This hunting trip would not be for nothing, and a wolf this large would make for a fine feast. This wolf had taken much from the group, and now it was it’s time to give back.