The Wolf

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By JASON ROSENBERG
Published: April 24, 2012
Excerpt from Performing & Telling Your Life

PROJECTION A/V:

It starts with a breath. One, long exaggerated inhale of a person waking up and snatching in all the oxygen they can handle. It is repeated. A moon appears in the sky. The sounds of the woods at night. The moon moves across the sky, as the breathing becomes louder and louder, overtaking the sound of the woods. Slowly, the breath becomes that of a respirator. An EKG machine can also be heard.

As they play, JASON walks onto the stage under the projection screen. JASON is lit by the light of the full moon. He stands up. 

JASON

I’ve been wandering through the woods. It’s night. I have a cold sheen of sweat on my back as I run and there’s something chasing me. It’s fast. The trees are echoing every sound I hear so I don’t know where it’s coming from, I could be running toward it or away from it, but I don’t have time to reason that because there is definitely something chasing me. Behind me, in front of me, all around I hear the sounds of cracking branches, a ragged panting, the sound of breath reverberating through structures that humans don’t have in their face. I am being pursued. I know this. The prey that has been living inside my DNA for thousands of years is screaming, urging me to move, even if I am to meet death, at least meet it with my nerves on fire to distract me. Something is out there, and it wants to feel my skin break under its teeth, my bones ground into powder, my blood matting its fur. I can only run. And scream. I’m in the woods and it’s dark. There’s no alternative. Everything is just coming out of me in screams and I’m not even a person anymore, I’m some soft tender pink sack of meat running away from teeth and claws and fur and eyes. I should have some kind of plan for this. It’s ridiculous. There’s no room left in my brain and everything that’s taken over is instinct. There’s a wolf. Or something. A thing with bristling hair and a nose that will lead it to me like I was a carcass in the hot July sun. But there’s no sun in this forest, except for the backward gaze of it coming off of the moon. There’s a face up there, something to be seen, maybe just another pair of eyes looking at me. For me. But I don’t have time. I’ve run out of time. It’s getting closer. I don’t know if I can feel its breath on my neck. I think I can. I think the moon is closer here. It fills up half the sky. I can feel its gravity pressing me down, making me even heavier than I am. It’s too bright here for the nighttime. Everything is bathed in navy blue and silver except for the yellow eyes of whatever’s chasing me. The eyes. I can see them and I freeze. That’s all it needed. There’s a screaming coming from somewhere. A desperate, hungry howling mixed with the scream of something ending, strangled by a gurgle as the breath catches somewhere in me, somewhere wrong. I have a single thought that there is something sad about the moon. And then a flash. And the sound of something like ripping fabric. And pain.