A furious rattling of the old push handle on the front door of my cabin wakes me. My heartbeat wobbles, jumps, races, then settles. It comes again, and I shakily rise from my bed, reaching for my cane.
The door handle needs tightening again. I should have replaced it decades ago, but somehow, I couldn’t. It would have meant…well, I just couldn’t.
The rattling stops and a thud shakes the door. “I’m coming,” I say. My voice didn’t used to quake. Not even when a stranger came to my door. I’ve never felt unsafe in my little cabin on the edge of the wood.
I reach with withered fingers to pull back the latch. I feel an impatience waiting for me on the other side. My heart does that race and wobble again. This time it doesn’t stop. I push down the inner handle and pull the door toward me, then step back to see who has awakened me.
I freeze at the sight of a large grey wolf bristling and baring a single fang. The full moon stands high in the night sky above him. I can’t move. Can’t breathe. My heart, so weak these last few months, struggles to beat.