If night has a thousand eyes, it has as many fears.
– Marlo Blais –
It was the wind that woke him. Or, more precisely, a sudden hush as startling in
its silence as the crack of a rifle shot shattering a dark and moonless night. When you lived on the rooftop of America, which Hazard, Wyoming, population 2,642 was — didn’t the Chamber of Commerce even proclaim its status on the welcome sign at the city limits? — you lived with eternal wind.
Night and day it roared like a freight train, wailed like a banshee, screamed like a hoard of insane berserkers. It hurled itself over the winter landscape, turning snowfields into a violent sea, creating churning swells which swiftly transformed vehicles, cattle, and the occasional foolhardy human into lumps of frozen white.
The same wind that ripped away tree limbs, fence lines, and peeled trailer roofs open like sardine cans, also tore apart hope, love, and dreams, hurling them into the Big Sky land of Montana, across the high plains to the Dakotas, and beyond. A geography professor at Wind River College had published a paper asserting dust from ancient buffalo bones had been found as far away as the highland peaks of Scotland. Not a single person in northwestern Wyoming doubted the claim.
But every so often, just when even the most optimistic soul was ready to put a bullet into his skull to end his misery, the wind would stop.
Just like that.
As if God, or Fate, or whoever the hell controlled the weather in this wild, isolated part of the world had hit the pause button.
Unlike those lesser beings, who’d stumble out of their homes, confused and grumpy, snarling and snapping like feral animals being too early awakened from a deep winter’s sleep, the man who’d once been the boy raised by wolves was not confused by the wind’s sudden and silent cessation.
He’d been waiting for it.
Planning for it.
And now, with bloodthirst singing in his veins, he was ready.