Now Watch My Rising

Edited by Julia Rios

May 2018

“Your purpose is to eat the sun,” says Prophecy, “at the end of all things.”

“And until then?” Wolf asks, sitting patiently among the roots of the forest while dwarves forge unbreakable chains. Wolf does not want their limbs bound or their jaws muzzled, but Prophecy has told them this is also their purpose. “What do I do?”

“Endure.”

Iron as soft as illusion and unbreakable as time chains Wolf’s limbs. And, just to be safe, Prophecy drives a sword down through their muzzle, pinning their jaws and tongue in bloody steel.

Wolf endures the pain. No one comes to sit by them or tell them when the end of all things is to begin. They watch the sun arc and dip for eons above, and the forest overgrows them until they are only a wolf-shadow painted under the ancient loam.

Stories filter down through moss and leaf, fed by the sun that hears all. Wolf listens, for there are many tales of other wolves like them. Wolf’s dreams stretch out and touch their kin’s sleep, and in the dark, they live alongside these other wolves for a time.


Wolf steps through mirrored pools into a ruined world deplored by a single word. Inside a wardrobe, Wolf finds statues cold in a forever-winter. They don’t stay long when they see a wooden door behind a stable.

In another world, Wolf stalks along moon pale walls, hides from the fire-rimmed eye. But too soon Wolf sees smokestacks and factories grinding down the green land full of round doors. Wolf knows even a grey wolf would not go unseen on grey ships.

Elsewhere, Wolf finds a deadened farm, a stone well filled with colors undescribed. Haunting whispers drift from mountain strewn with broken sleds and howling dogs. They swim down to cyclopean tombs beneath the ice, the wreck of ships a shrine to sleeping gods. Even here, there is no space for a wolf to sing without going mad.


Chained under the world, Wolf growls in helpless frustration. Why are their kin so unhappy? There must be other worlds, other lives, where wolves are free like the people who tell their stories.

Wolf strains to hear the hope they know must exist, somewhere.


Do you see the single grain of sand? Held in soft palm, all that’s left.

What Wolf hears, afloat in nothingness, is the Oracle’s voice:

_You are only lies, delusions, here to eat away the world.

Wish for luck’s return, waters bearing life, the speaker of Names._

Wolf sees there’s already a wolf here like them; Wolf knows how this will end.

So they leave, hopping into another narrative, another existence.

Cold stitched flesh, lightning-born, condemned before first words—Wolf and Creature are alike. Both are reviled, and in the end, there is only fire in a windmill, torches and pitchforks held high, and lily petals lying wilted on the pond.

In storybook worlds, the girls bare their teeth. “We are not things.”

Wolf admires them from the tree-shadow and moon-spilled night.

Girls hooded in red, scaling doorless towers; girls with woodaxes and magic swords to cut thorns; girls who change into bears and foxes; girls who write their own happy endings.

The girls hold up the hearts of the men who would harm them. “And we will never be forgotten.”


Wolf stirs, restless under the trees. It’s hard to speak with a sword piercing your mouth, rusting your lips against dirt. Wolf has learned to speak with their paws, signing in the slack of chains.

Is anyone out there?

Only Prophecy answers: “It is not time. Be patient.”

And when I eat the sun at the end of all things? Wolf signs. What happens after?

“Then you will die in darkness as you have lived,” Prophecy says. “As is your purpose.”

Wolf glares at Prophecy. There must be more.

“It is foretold.” A shrug. “What else would you do?”

Wolf has a thousand ideas now: dreams shared with other wolves and dreams that are theirs alone.

“You are a monster,” Prophecy says, not unkindly. “There is no future for you. There never will be.”

And to this, Wolf calls bullshit.

A growl builds in their chest. They heave at the chains and sink their claws into the world’s bones. Their back arches as they fight. The metal gnaws, threading pain into their heart along with the doubting whispers: You are nothing, you are worthless, you will never escape.

Lies.

Wolf’s rage gives them strength. They will not sprawl here, submissive until the end of all things. This is not their fate.

Links crack and iron wails.

They wrench their muzzle free of the sword. Blood drips from their chin and they bare their teeth. Roots crack and split as Wolf claws their way up, up, out from the earth and their preemptive tomb.

“You cannot leave,” Prophecy cries. “Your purpose—”

“Is mine to choose,” Wolf says, and shakes off the shattered chains. “Take your ending elsewhere.”

Prophecy shrinks back, silent.

Wolf breathes deep. Their dreamed footprints are scattered across the starlit sky, trails they can follow once again. They are going to free all their wolf-kin: the ones trapped in tragedy and the unending role of monster.


“Your purpose is to eat the sun,” Prophecy once said.

Wolf refuses. They won’t gulp down heat and light and leave the world dark. This is not the end of all things. This is a beginning.

Unbound from lies and glue-bindings, fierce like the girls they admire, Wolf sprints past the sun and into infinite space. They are free.

And free,

  Wolf

       runs

	    off

		the      

                        page
© 2018 A. Merc Rustad

About the author

A. Merc Rustad

A. Merc Rustad is a queer non-binary writer who lives in Minnesota and is a 2016 Nebula Awards finalist. (“This Is Not A Wardrobe Door” was first published in Fireside!) Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Apex, Uncanny, Shimmer, Cicada, and other fine venues. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad or at their website: http://amercrustad.com. Their debut short story collection, So You Want to Be a Robot, was published at Lethe Press in May 2017.