(Originally published in Tesseracts 6, this work is the prequel story to Douglas's novel The Wolf at the End of the World.)
In the beginning of things, men were as animals and animals as men. -- Cree legend
Vera made a warding sign as I entered the store, my hound Gelert trailing behind me. She pretended to wipe her hands on her faded blue apron, but I caught the dance of her fingers.
“Hello, Vera. It’s been a while,” I said.
“Yes, yes it has, Mr. Blaidd,” she said too quickly, not returning my smile. Turning from where she’d been refilling a food bin, she addressed her husband. “I gotta check something in the back, Ed.” Almost running, she slipped behind the long wooden counter and into the storeroom at the rear of the store.
Edward Two Rivers leaned on the counter beside the cash register, a newspaper spread in front of him, his long gray hair spilling onto the pages. He watched her leave then smiled at me.