By the end of the first week, few had noticed the change. I guess not may people look up at the moon anymore. I’m sure somewhere out there was an oceanographer preparing a dissertation on the rise of the tides. Not like that’d ever reach an audience.
I heard it from the wolves. Living across the street from the zoo, I knew their cries. There’s something unsettling about hearing a howl in the city. But you get used to it. That’s what humans are good at right? Adaptation. It’s in our blood.
Anyone who knew what a wolf’s howl sounded like would’ve known something was wrong. Anyone who was listening. That night was different; louder, deeper. More primal. Like they’d finally found an audience.
Each night it grew in intensity, building to a great cacophony. A symphony still warming up. As it was growing, it started to shift, come more into tune. I always thought howls were a rudimentary method of communication, but not this. This was its own language, build on pitch and not lyrics. Full of nuance. You could feel it, in your bones. Vibrating.
On the third night, they finally found their key. All the dissonance fell away, and combined to a low, sullen tone, sustained beyond all doubt. A wave crashing endlessly upon the shore. I grabbed my coat and decided to find the cause.
Others must have heard the call too, because the street was not empty. A dozen or so gathered near the sick-green streetlamp, like moths, and gazed upwards. I wandered into the crowd and nudged people aside to see through the branches above.
No one spoke. There was nothing to say. We all saw the same. The moon hung above our heads, fat and low, bigger than I’d ever seen it. Poised to crash down on us. Like Sodom and Gomorrah. The note rang true but we weren’t listening anymore. We had other things to worry about.
A wolf slipped between the crowd, as if it weren’t afraid, and why would it be? I wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t brushed my leg. It didn’t even stop to look at me. That was what occurred to me as odd in the moment. That I hadn't been acknowledged. Not that a fucking wolf walked into me. No, that was right as rain. Amazing what we’re able to get used to.
After that, others started commenting on the phenomenon. Scientists would come on the news and proclaim what was happening as part of an anomaly in the Earth’s ellipse. Maybe it was. I didn’t know. But each night, the moon got bigger and brighter and more golden, until it threatened to claim the glory of the sun. The tides came in more violent than before. We’d forgotten about the howling. It seemed normal now.
Wolves began to pop up throughout the man-made world. Our domain pervaded by canines. They stood like silent sentinels, watching us from afar. Always stoic. At night, they would howl more, although to call this howling anymore wasn’t right. The bigger the moon got, the more distant the cry.
We did what we have always done. We adapted and adopted. There was nothing unusual about seeing a wolf sneak around a building a hundred yards away. There was nothing wrong with the moon. It seemed like it would keep growing. It wasn’t a problem until it was.
Then it disappeared. A new moon of course. It was still up there, hidden to us. The new silence was louder than any cry. Not like the wolves had gone anywhere; they were silent.
That night, the howling didn’t come until later. How I wish it had never come at all. The most horrible sound ever heard. It was sad and broken, like a crying or pleading. Inhuman. No one slept that night. We all just listened. And waited.
As dusk fell, the moon rose over the lake. It was engorged, ten times the size of the sun. But more horrible was the color: A deep crimson cast tall shadows over the ground. We waited, not knowing what would happen. Waiting for a sound. None came. The howling stopped. All was still. For the wolves, there had been an answer. There was nothing left to say.