“Wolves are Here” by William Falo


Time ticked away on Alex’s research without him finding a single wolf. The island was once filled with howls at night, but after a month of listening he heard nothing while his food supply dwindled down to a few granola bars.

There was only one day left until the boat arrived. A year of research and he found nothing. The day he left home, his wife said she might not be there when he got back because a life of solitude was not her idea of a happy marriage. She accused him of loving wolves more than her. The rare time he got a cell signal, she didn’t answer his calls or text messages.

The cabin became colder and ice crystals even formed on the inside walls. The wolves needed him. If he found any proof of their existence, they would reintroduce more of them, if

there was no sign of them the project would be terminated along with his research. They needed

evidence that wolves could survive here before they reintroduced more of them. Without the proof, wolves would never howl here again.

The exploratory walks became shorter, but more dangerous. Recent snow made the ground treacherous. He went farther than usual since he was scheduled to pull out the next day. On the top of a hill, his foot slid on the frozen ground and he tumbled downward until he landed on a ledge. The pain in his leg seared, but he almost yelled out in joy when he turned around.

Wolf tracks led to a den. He pulled out his flashlight and shinned it into the darkness.

“A wolf.” He stepped backwards. The wolf stayed on its side and didn’t move. He picked up a stone and threw it. It hit the wolf’s side with a thud, but it remained motionless.

The wolf was dead.

He stayed there a long time thinking how much time he wasted here. He could be home with his wife, maybe starting a family. Darkness was coming and it brought bitter cold, but he didn’t feel it when an idea hit him. A deceptive, bad idea that could save his research.

He dragged the wolf’s body out of the den. It was stiff, but not that heavy since it looked so thin. Sickness and starvation probably caused its death.

He found sticks and with all his strength he hammered them into the snow. With a painful leg and weak arms, he propped the wolf up. The wind increased making him fear it would collapse along with his plan.

He moved farther away and snapped pictures of it. In the pictures, the wolf lived. He pulled out the radio collar he always carried with him and activated it. He emailed the people involved with the wolf research. He sent just three words along with the pictures. Wolves are here. It was a lie. Back at the cabin, a program on his computer came to life and started tracking the collar on a map.

Alex walked in different directions, he made the collar travel on the map. He walked farther then he normally would and with darkness closing in on him, he took a wrong step on the

a frozen creek and the collar slipped out of his hand and fell into the crack in the ice. It sank.

He grasped, but missed and he watched as the light on the collar turned from green to red. Red meant a dead wolf.

“Damn it.” He stayed there trying to retrieve it with a stick until the red light on the collar went out. It was dead.


The boat bobbled in the water when he got aboard.

“How did it go?” The captain helped him load up his gear.

“No wolves.”

“I thought I heard howls a few days ago, but maybe it was the wind.” The captain steered the boat away from the island.

Alex took out his cell phone and got a signal. He called his wife. She answered.

That night, on the ledge of a hill, a propped up dead wolf fell over. Next to it, two wolves sniffed the ground. They looked around then raised their eyes to the stars and howled into the night.


William Falo writes flash fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ginger Collect, Newfound, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Fictive Dreams, and others.
Twitter  @williamfalo

“A Murder of Crows” by William Falo


He spread out his wings then edged closer to the crow he’s known for the past two years. They spent every night together in the tree. The other crows sounded a warning.

Below them, two humans pointed a stick upward. He felt safe. They were too high to be hit with a stick.

“Now.” One of the humans yelled. A loud bang made him and all the other crows take flight. All except one. She fell to the ground. Her wings didn’t even try to flap. With a thud she crashed into the ground.

“You killed it.”

“It’s only a BB gun.”

The humans bent over to look at her dead body. A crimson spot covered her black feathers.

He cawed and dove down with his feet outstretched in front of him. He hit the one with the gun in the head.

“Get away.” The boy swiped at him.

“Run.” The other one took off while he circled for a second dive.

They made it inside the house before he could attack them again. He flew down to her body. He pecked at her and clawed at her wings. She didn’t move.

He made every sound he knew, but she never responded. He plopped down. Above him, the other crows settled down to roost for the night. Some called out for him to fly up to the tree, but he stayed by her side. He knew sadness.

A door opened and a human came out carrying a trash bag. The crows above him sounded the alarm. The human walked toward him and he took flight heading toward the human.

The human swung at him and a small shiny circle flew off his hand and landed under the tree. The human didn’t notice, but instead looked at her body then went into a small building.

The door closed and the human carried a stick and a box then dug a hole. With great care her body was placed inside the box and into the ground. The human covered it and stared at the grave for a while with his head down.

Afterwards, he flew down to the grave. He saw the shiny circle and picked it up. He scratched at her grave and put the circle inside it and covered it up. He stayed there all night.

The next day, two humans came out with one pushing a coach. A baby cried.

The other crows dispersed to go harass a neighborhood cat or to find scraps of food thrown out behind the local supermarket. He wanted to stay. He didn’t care about anything else.

“How could you lose your wedding ring?” One human said.

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe you got rid of it because you’re cheating on me.”

“I would never do that. I love you.”

“Then you wouldn’t have lost the ring.” She cried then pushed the baby away. “Don’t come with us.”

“Hayley, wait. I’ll find it.” She kept going.

The human plopped down on a chair.

He watched form the branch. The human was the one who buried his mate.

A tear fell down the man’s cheek.

When the human went inside, he flew down to the grave. With his beak he dug out the gold circle. He flew up with it to the branch and waited.

The human came out holding a small box to his ear.

“You’re right. It’s just a symbol. Of course, I love you.”

He dropped the gold circle and it hit the ground in front of the human.

“I don’t believe it.” The human looked up. He cawed and spread his wings. It was a way to say thank you. He planned to drop something else when the ones with the gun came back.

“It fell from heaven.” He laughed. “Really, or a crow dropped it.”

He took flight.

“You’re right. It couldn’t be the crow. They’re not that smart. It must be an angel.”

“I love you too.” The human left.

He flew to join the other crows, taking his turn diving at a large cat. Later, they all gathered in the tree. He will never forget his mate and will visit her grave until he dies. He hoped the human will bury him next to her when that happened. He looked around and moved closer to the others. It wasn’t a perfect family. In fact, it was a motley crew. It was a murder of crows.


William Falo writes flash fiction. His work has appeared in Newfound, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Fictive Dream, Litro Magazine, and others.

Twitter  @williamfalo