Wolf Dreams

Wolf Dreams

I should have reburied it without a word to anyone.

Now my garden was filled with archaeologists, and nobody needs that.

When we moved in, Louis and I, the garden was overgrown and had not been touched in years, so we started to tidy it up. I say we, but it was me. Louis is a pianist, and doesn’t want to get his hands injured, or even dirty, so I always do the hands-on work, or we get someone in. I wanted to do the garden myself though, to make it mine. I have never had a garden before and I drew up a plan for a little paradise.

Then I started having the dreams.

I was in the garden digging the ground, not with a spade or a trowel, but with a dagger, plunging it into the soil as if I was killing something, someone. Stab, stab, stab. Fresh red blood gushed out of the earth, I woke up in a sweat.

Of course, in the daytime I mostly forgot about all that and went on cutting back the old shrubs and pulling up a lot of weeds. I admit I was hesitant to dig, though, because every night — that dream.

Well, there was a clump of bear’s britches that was all set for world domination, so there was nothing for it but to dig, and go deep, because if you don’t get all the roots that stuff just keeps coming back.

One thick root kept going down and I followed it, determined not to let it get away. About a metre down I came to a lump of something, caked in dirt, stuck firmly in the ground. I scraped some mud off it and it turned out to be a pot, buried upside-down. Louis took a look and said we should call in the museum people to see if it was interesting to them. I was all for just pulling it out, but he said we’d spoil the context or something. I thought I had probably already done that, but he insisted. He loves all those archaeology programmes.

They came, they dug out the pot, and it turned out to be filled with silver coins. Then they found other bits and pieces down there and the next thing, Louis is saying of course they can investigate.

He was so excited about the ground penetrating radar. There was a ‘feature’, a dark rectangle, surrounded by small dark spots. It did look interesting, and I thought that if they dug up the garden, then I would not have to.

That night I dreamt I was stabbing the earth once more. The blood flowed like a river. Even in my dream I could smell earth and blood mixed together. Then the ground began to heave up under my feet. As I backed away a great black wolf leapt out of the bloody soil, teeth bared, coming for me.

I screamed and woke up. I’m sure I really did scream, but Louis slept on through, peacefully untroubled.

It was early, but already light, so I got up and made coffee. The smell of the coffee helped to take away the memory of the dream, and the heat of the mug in my hands was comforting. I took it out into the garden and stood looking at the pegs and string the archaeologists had laid out over their feature of interest.

On the other side of the garden fence, my neighbour was also up. I said good morning and she came to lean on the fence.

‘I’m not sure it’s wise,’ she said, ‘to go digging down there. No-one who ever lived in your house has been comfortable with digging in that part of the garden. Mrs Sanders who lived here before you said that if she ever put a spade in the ground she got the most awful dreams.’

‘What kind of dreams?’

‘Wolf dreams, she said. And you know, this morning, I got woken up by howling myself. In my dream, I mean. That’s why I’m up so early.’

I tried to talk to Louis about it, but he was eager to see what they would find, and any mention of weird dreams sent him right into mocking mode.

The archaeologists were out there bright and early too. I overheard them talking outside while I was dressing. They mentioned dreams and my ears pricked up.

‘…couldn’t sleep at all after that,’ one of them said.

‘Yeah,’ said another, ‘we excavated a graveyard a couple of years ago and I dreamt of nothing but bones for weeks. It comes with the job.’

They seemed to find it normal, so I shrugged my shoulders and tried not to be bothered.

Archaeologists dig at the flow rate of cold treacle. It hardly deserves to be called digging most of the time. Scraping is what it is, with occasional exclamations of delight over some old broken thing they have found. There were flurries of excitement when they uncovered the source of the dark spots. More upside-down pots, another six, with mostly unidentified contents. Except for one.

‘There’s a little skull in there. It looks like a cat.’

‘A kitten?’

‘Yeah, maybe. Kitten sacrifice, eh? That’s a new one on me. Well, the lab will tell us more.’

Two days of scraping, divided by another night of horrible dreams for me, but not for Louis, who never remembers his dreams. At the end of the second day they uncovered a large rectangular stone slab. My heart beat very fast as I looked down into that hole, and I felt that I knew what was down there.

I said, ‘Maybe we should leave it alone,’ but no-one took any notice.

That night there was no dream, but also not much sleep for me. I kept waking throughout the night to listen to the darkness.

While they lifted the slab I stayed indoors. There was a commotion when they first lifted it, but as the morning went on, a silence fell.

Louis came inside, a strange look on his face.

‘You have to come and see this,’ he said.

One of the archaeologists was brushing away at something down in the hole but when I approached she stood aside for me to see. The others were standing on the edge, silently looking down.

In the bottom of the hole, in my garden, there was a rectangle of upright stone slabs on which the cover had been laid. Inside this enclosure lay two skeletons, one human and one a huge dog—no, a wolf. The skeletons appeared to be embracing each other face to face, but — the head of the wolf was attached to the human skeleton, and the human skull was attached to the wolf’s bones. Between them the rusted outline of a dagger lay, very like the one in my dream.

‘Cover it up,’ I said. ‘Put everything back and cover it up.’

No-one took me seriously. They were talking again, about how it was a really interesting and important find.

The wolf has entered my house now, and when I sleep she climbs into my body and lives in my dreams. Soon she will live there in the daytime too. Soon I will not know the difference between me and the wolf.

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