Lobo stalked the herd for two hours. They were lazy things, like bleating clouds drifting across the field. He salivated, but couldn’t give in. If he attacked too soon, they’d scatter and he’d only get one of them. If he was smart, he could knick sheep from the periphery of the flock for days. Forget his pack and their rules. The life of a lone wolf was sexy.
He kept his muzzle down, hiding in the willows. One gamy sheep straggled from its herd, its dim face nuzzling the grass. Lobo panted. It was far from the most tempting of the flock, but Lobo was good for any meat.
It strayed further and further, almost straight to his hiding spot. Its head bobbed around, mouth never opening for a bite of grass. Lobo wondered if it was developmentally challenged. Then its head flopped back. Lobo stared in horror as the top of its head came to rest against its spine, as though a convulsion had broken its neck.
That wasn’t it. Instead, jutting from beneath the sheepskin, a grey wolf’s muzzle protruded. The sheep head and hide were a disguise, draped over a she-wolf. She bared her fangs at Lobo’s brush.
She growled at him. "You look like a bottle cap."
Lobo remained down. The she-wolf in sheep’s clothing padded up to his willows. He felt foolish now, seeing her shapely wolf’s legs protruding out from under the sheep hide.
“I see you, moron. This is my flock. Get out of here.”
“No way,” Lobo whispered. “You get out of here. You’ll spoil everything.”
She threatened, “I’ll cry wolf.”
“So you’ll be busted.”
“I’ll just put the mask back on. They’re not very bright.”
Lobo rubbed his nose in the dirt. He wasn’t good with inter-wolf conflict. It’s why he was trying the loner deal. “We can share. There’s enough sheep for both of us.”
“They’re not for eating.”
Lobo looked at the pudgy critters. Two of them ambled into each other and their fat deposits jiggled. “They look like they’re for eating.”
“Listen, once upon a time I thought that way. I dressed up like them to get in. But they’re really nice. They play games. We jump over fences to make kids fall asleep. Plus, sheep fur is harder to digest than you think.”
Lobo growled as low as possible, wanting to threaten her but not alert the others. The she-wolf was unmoved.
“Last warning,” she said. She jerked her head forward and the sheep mask fell back over her face. Its eyes were actually pebbles. Lobo couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed it before. “Get out of here before I tell my friends on you.”
“Just you try it. Some day I’m going to eat you by accident.”
The she-wolf turned tail and ambled back into the fold. Sheep-walking didn’t look so hard, Lobo thought. All you needed was a costume and to trot around like you were drunk. After a moment, Lobo couldn’t even tell which was her. Wolves weren’t much brighter than sheep.
A particularly mouthwatering sheep emerged from the herd. He was bursting with meat, at least twenty times the size of his friends. Lobo had to bite his paw to prevent himself from pouncing the husky thing.
It ambled towards Lobo’s brush. The ground shook under its weight. Slowly, Lobo’s feast-enthusiasm turned to anxiety. There was something wrong with the giant sheep. Its legs were tree-stump thick and grey. Its hide was messy, almost like a patchwork of dozens of sheep-sheddings.
Lobo squinted. He wasn’t much of a thinker, but there was something off about the giant sheep’s head. It drooped straight down like there was no skull under it. Plus, he didn’t think there was a nose or mouth. If he didn’t know better, he’d think it was a sheet of paper with the word “FACE” written on it.
The giant sheep paused before Lobo’s brush. Lobo looked up and saw under the paper. Two massive nostrils glared back down at him, exhaling a gust of wind. The hippo in sheep’s clothing grunted.
“Are… are you kidding me?”
“I’m a vegetarian, but I have a four foot mouth. You want to try this?”
Lobo whined up at the massive nostrils. He wormed away on the ground, head bowed, never getting back up to his paws. There had to be easier meals out there. Maybe he could eat the willows.