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The Wild Heron's Cry

Chapter 1 - Sample

Charlene Grivener stood outside underneath a clear, black sky with shiny pin pricks for stars. A few flickered every so often, like failing bulbs on an old haint blue porch ceiling. The dark shape of her wolf hybrid appeared in front of her, his light green eyes like neon signs in the night. Really and truly he belonged to no one as she would be inclined to say. He was just a part of nature, like the birds and the bees, and people, but he was Miss Charlene’s constant companion.

“Lord, you bout to scare an old woman half ta death Mojo! I know I heard sumpin’, watchu thank?” she asked.

The large, ebony canine leaned up against her. He was nearly invisible in the night save those eerie yet hypnotic eyes of his. His fur was an intense jet black, dark as the bottom of the deepest well you could imagine. Saying most folks would be intimidated by him would be an egregious understatement. She brought him over to the island, her birthplace, by ferry, the only way one could arrive from the mainland of coastal Georgia near Meridian. They came from her adopted home of many years of Canaan’s Crossing, two hours up the road.

“Let’s walk on out heyah a ways,” she said.

Mojo moved alongside her, step for step. Part German Shepherd besides Canis Lupus, loyalty and protection were in his blood, so he would naturally come between anything and anyone that might wish to do her harm.

She walked several more feet away from the cabin’s porch, further out into the yard, towards the edge of the woods. Thirty yards or so away on the other side was marsh. There were hammocks, small island-like wetland ecosystems all over this coastal Georgia barrier island, and salty water was around every corner.

They were at Osprey Hammock where she was staying with her niece, Rosetta Lawrence, her sister Justine’s daughter. The sounds of crickets, cicadas, and tree frogs were coming from the marsh and bordering trees through the woods, a natural choir. They sang of the evening, uplifting the night.

There was a broom in her hands just in case. Her mama Miss Cattie had always taught her that brooms were a multifunctional tool, yes Sir, and she had been taught in the ways of using them. Sweeping was just one of their many uses. They could not so friendly-like touch the bottom of an unruly child if they needed a little extra inspiration, and could surely disable wrongdoers if used properly. And of course, cleansing and removing unwanted spirits and energy was a primary function too of floor sweep.

The sound of a stick breaking in the still night was like a shotgun blast coming from the thick stand of woods she and Mojo were staring into.

“Who out dere? Show yosef!”

Mojo inched forward, hunkering down, his nose towards the ground.

“You smell sumpin’?”

He looked up and out into the stand of trees, a low growl beginning to emerge from his throat, a deep, guttural sound. Primordial and resonant, danger and trouble were imminent. He stepped forward quickly, a few feet closer to the invisible barrier of the woods, his head still now, gazing far into the pitch black space. There was very little artificial light anywhere on the island, light pollution was non-existent. Any kind of light hanging around was gobbled up rapidly right around dusk like a heron swallowing a skilletfish.

Mojo creeped towards the edge of the woods. Another sound, something else.

“I heard it Mojo!” Miss Charlene exclaimed.

Mojo’s snarling wasn’t abating. He leaned forward, like he saw whatever it was clearly. He took off into the woods, bolting toward the noise.

“Mojo!” Miss Charlene hollered.

Lord have mercy, da dog done run off.

She listened attentively, trying to hear something, anything. She couldn’t see a hand in front of her face so that was all she could do. She felt helpless. Mojo’s growling sounded different, like either he’d changed direction or had something in his mouth. The sounds coming from the dog were up and down. He was moving as he was growling. She could tell. There was a noise like sticks cracking, a commotion, and then a whimper.

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