As Wolverine stands naked in a lake, he thinks to himself that nothing cleanses the soul like getting back to your roots. Especially his roots. Mainly because he can’t remember half of them. That’s what brings him back to Canada. Back to Buffalo Woods state park in northern Alberta. The nearest concentration of human habitation is a hundred miles away as the crow flies. Over at Fox Lake: population 634. He also knows that, if he wants dinner, he has to kill it himself. That he does, as he stabs a fish with his claws. As he climbs out of the water and over to the shore, he wonders what was going through his head when he was prowling the woods, crazy as a coot and reduced to a bestial state. How did he get there? What did he do? Maybe the answers are still here...
As Wolverine sits down to start on his dinner, two Mounties arrive. The younger one notices Wolverine and mentions to his boss - Sergeant Dooling – that the man they are looking at must be some sort of wacko. Sitting there, naked in this weather. Dooling informs his assistant - Morris - that he will deal with him. Just then he calls out to Wolverine and asks him what his business is out here. Wolverine informs him that he is camping and he has permits. He also asks them if he wants to see them or if they want dinner. Dooling indicates to him that they will pass on dinner. He then notices that it’s kind of cold to be this far out without a tent, bedroll, or fire. Wolverine informs him that he travels light. That answer is met with a shotgun pointing at his head.
Wolverine tells Dooling that there is no call to lock and load on him. There’s no bad blood between him and the RCMP. Dooling answers that maybe there is or maybe there isn’t. He’s not one to take a chance. He then mentions to Wolverine that he has a face that rings a bell. Like he saw it once, maybe on wanted poster. He then asks him if he has been in these parts before. Wolverine responds not that he can remember. Dooling, a little frustrated, lowers his gun and says that it will come back to him. He then orders Morris to wave the “want sheet” at this stranger. Morris holds up the want sheet for Athabasca Ike. They are on the lookout for him. Ike grabbed a gun from a guard at his own murder trial down in Edmonton. Shot his way out and disappeared. Then, he showed up in Fort Chipewyan, gunned down a whole family, the Golightlys - real nice folks - stole their jeep and took off in this direction. He adds that if Wolverine sees him, he needs to steer clear.
Just then, as Wolverine is getting dressed, he catches a scent. The wind has shifted, there’s a warm Chinook out of the west. Wolverine informs them that he’s heading for the high country on foot and he has a young girl with him. If he gets through the high passes they’ll never find him. Dooling asks him how he knew that; they just found his jeep with a busted axle. They’re pretty sure he took the Golightly girl with him - she was just sixteen. He then realizes that Wolverine didn’t know anything about that. They ask him if he sniffed that out of the air? Is he a Blackfoot, some kind of breed? Wolverine retorts that he wishes he knew. He then indicates to them if they want his help tracking down Athabasca Ike they better get moving. The dark comes up mighty fast out here this time of year. Dooling adds especially when the Hunter in Darkness is prowling the woods again!
As they all pile into the jeep, Morris exclaims the Hunter in Darkness! He then asks Dooling if he believes in that old Blackfoot legend. Dooling informs him that it isn’t a legend. He took a shot at it with his Winchester rifle that he’s carrying right now back before Morris was cutting teeth. When Morris asks if he was shooting at shadows, Dooling reminisces back years ago and asks Morris if a shadow can tear apart a steel bear trap and snap a forged chain. The trap must have ripped out a chunk of his leg about the size of a cured ham but it didn’t stop that beastie none. He caught up with it in these very hills and drilled it dead center with a 152 grain .30/30 slug!! It was a lung shot at the very least, but it kept right on going. He then followed the blood trail across a mile of rough country until it stopped dead as if the beastie had healed itself up. Dooling then asks the stranger in the back of the truck, Wolverine, if he’s any good at tracking. Wolverine replies that he’s the best at what he does.
Further up the mountain, Ike is making his way with the sixteen year old girl as her captive. He has her wrists tied and he is holding onto the rope. He laughs to her about getting over on the Mounties. He also mentions that he thinks that if they get into the wilderness, they will never find them. Up there, in the high-country, the girl can keep him warm!
Just then, the young girl stumbles in the snow. Ike condones her for falling down on him, but the girl informs him that she can’t go any further. Ike pulls her up by her coat collar and holds a knife to her throat. He then informs her that a bearskin will keep him just as warm as she will so, if she slows down, he will just gut her and leave her!! Just then, he notices something reflecting off in the distance. He pushes the girl down flat - she is going to be his shooting rest and cover. As he looks through the scope of his rifle, he sees the Mounties. He also notices that they sent one of the little boy Mounties after him and gets Morris in his sight. He then tells the girl not to flinch; this is going to be loud!
Back at the jeep, Morris is informing Dooling and Wolverine that the Hunter in Darkness is quite a fascinating piece of local color. The Blackfoot term really translates into something more like “he who stalks on moonless nights” and it may be an even older legend they picked up from the Assiniboines. He got all this from reading an article in Boy’s Li... Before he can finish his thought, a rifle shot comes through the window, pierces his chest, goes through the seat, through Wolverine’s leg, and out the back of the car. The jeep, now without a driver, careens out of control and crashes into a ravine.
Wolverine grabs Dooling from the wreckage and starts to pull him away. Dooling mentions to him that he thought he saw the bullet go through his leg... Wolverine responds that it was nothing! Dooling asks about Morris. Wolverine informs him that he is dead but they need to get out of there before the gas tank blows!!! No sooner does Wolverine finish his thought, as does the gas tank on the jeep explodes!!!
As they hide behind a large rock, Wolverine indicates that there is a high-powered rifle above them. Thirty ought six, setting sun’s behind the shooter. Dooling points out that it’s open country and that you can’t sneak up on Ike when he’s got the light and can’t see the track at night. Especially this night - no moon!!! Dooling then reminisces back to his military days. It was a moonless night when he jumped out of a burning C-47 over Ranville, Normandy with the fist stick of the 1st Canadian parachute battalion. It was back on June 6, 1944. He was eighteen and so scared that he was numb all over. He was praying that he could be as brave and fierce as the Corporal.
Lord, he hasn’t thought about him in years - he wouldn’t have bungled this like he has. He then laments the loss of Morris - he didn’t deserve to die like that and now Ike is going to get away with it! Wolverine informs him that he’s not getting away. Dooling disagrees. He thinks that he will. Ike had them pinned while he had the light. Now, in the dark, there’s no way to track him. Wolverine, now in his brown and tan uniform, informs him that he doesn’t need light to track him. In the dark, Ike won’t see him creeping up on him. He then asks Dooling if he is going to come with him or not. Dooling replies that he sure isn’t sitting here alone with that beastie out there hunting for fresh meat. He also comments on Wolverine’s costume and asks him if he’s one of them super-heroes. Wolverine admits that he is and asks what about it. Dooling replies that may explain why his leg stopped bleeding - maybe.
Further up ahead, Ike is still dragging the girl through the snow when a loud howl is heard. The girl asks Ike if he heard that. They have to go back and get some help. They don’t have a chance out there in the dark! Ike responds that wolves don’t hunt people! That’s only in them fake movies, like they have in Edmonton. The girl replies that that was no wolf - that was the Hunter in Darkness!! Ike laughs at the notion. He don’t believe in no Injun fairy tales!
Further back, Wolverine and Dooling are making their way after Ike. They hear the howl as well. Dooling asks Wolverine why he didn’t sniff it out before it was this close. Wolverine responds that it’s the same reason he didn’t “sniff out” Ike’s ambush - the wind changed again. Wolverine adds that if that critter hunts by smell like he figures, it’s staying downwind of them. Dooling asks if it could be right on top of them and he wouldn’t know it?? Wolverine indicates that is ri... Before he can finish his sentence, a giant wolf-like creature leaps at Wolverine!!! At the last second, Wolverine pushes Dooling away and informs him that it’s him the Hunter in Darkness wants! Dooling raises his rifle, but it’s too dark and he can’t get a clear shot! He starts to look for his flashlight.
Up the mountain, Ike hears the sounds of the battle further back. He is shocked. He’s never heard anything like that before!! That must be something big - possibly a wounded bear? The girl informs him that no bear ever sounded like that - that’s the Hunter and that’s the sound of it killing!!
Wolverine and the Hunter are locked in combat. Wolverine shouts to Dooling to not just stand there - shoot it!!! Dooling informs him that he can’t shoot in the dark without hitting him! He then turns on his flashlight to see Wolverine’s arm in the Hunter’s mouth! Wolverine tells him to not worrying about hitting him - and to KILL THAT LIGHT!!!
Ike notices the light and realizes that that isn’t an Indian boogie man carrying the flashlight - that’s a Mountie - and now he’s going to be one dead Mountie!
Just then, the Hunter is able to slash Wolverine in the stomach, as Ike’s shot hits Dooling straight on. Dooling collapses, the flashlight still on. Wolverine is holding his stomach, realizing that he has to hold everything in until his mutant healing power can kick into overdrive. He calls over to Dooling and asks him if he is still conscious - he can still hear him breathing. As he lays there in the snow, Dooling thinks to himself about the statement “Kill that light” - where has he heard that before? Where did he hear that spoken by that same voice??
Dooling is still kicking, but he’s a thousand miles away in his head. Dusting off old memories stashed way back in some forgotten corner of his subconscious. The Hunter in the Darkness is remembering something too. A memory triggered by the taste of Wolverine’s blood and the sound of his voice. Powerful memories for a beast that hunts by smell and hearing. A beast that hunts by hearing because he’s as good as blind.
As Dooling is lying on the ground, semi-conscious, he thinks back to when he heard that voice. All of his memories getting jumbled together. Where??? Normandy! That moonless night in 1944! His shroud lines from his parachute had hung him up in the trees and he was dangling upside down in the pitch blackness. He was thinking that he had better cut himself down before Jerry comes goose-stepping through the wood. It was too dark to see the ground. It could be inches away or fifty feet!! There’s only one way to find out - good thing he had a lighter. As he flicked his lighter, his Corporal yelled at him to KILL THAT LIGHT!! He was hung up in the next tree, sawing through his shrouds with that big double-edged Fairburn knife of his. He had lost his rifle.
By the time he doused the light; it was too late. Jerry had seen it and some fritzy out in the plowed filed popped a flare. They were a patrol of German soldiers from the 21st Panzer grenadiers, crack troops. They just weren’t expecting to get charged by a lone paratrooper, swinging a knife!! Back in reality, Dooling wonders how he got to feel so old again. He also recognizes that his chest hurts...
From a little ways away, Ike notices the Hunter in Darkness and deduces that he’s no bear! He thinks that he can take a thirty-six just like one though and takes a shot at him!
Wolverine stands near the Hunter in Darkness and notices that he is just standing there, like he was thinking real hard on something when that big bore bullet smacks through him with noise like meat hitting the table. He hits the ground with the dim light of a memory dancing in those half-blind eyes. Could he be remembering back to that icy winter?? Getting your foot caught in a steel bear trap is not something you’re likely to forget right quick! The sixty-four dollar questions is - does he remember him??
Wolverine wonders what really happened back in that fuzzy time. Did he stumble on him all torn up and in pain? What was he thinking? Did the Hunter offer his throat, hoping for a clean death?? What did he think when it didn’t come? Wolverine wonders why he would break the chain and drag that trap to draw the hunters off his trail. Was it some little spark of human compassion left in that shambling beast??
Further up the mountain, Ike is pretty pleased with himself. He took out the Mountie and that big-toothed thing with one round apiece. Now, if only that little short fellow in the sissy tights would be stupid enough to step back in the light... At that moment, his captive is able to get away from him and, in the process, she kicks his rifle away from him. As she runs off into the darkness, Ike calls out to her that she better run - if Ike catches her, her neck will be broke!! He then turns his attention back to his rifle. He wonders aloud where she kicked it too. It’s so dark, he can’t see anything!!
As Wolverine is lost in the past, he notices that the Hunter in Darkness is hauling himself to his feet. His ears and his nose are angling up the slope. The wind has shifted again and there’s a hunger in him that cancels out the pain. As he lurches up the hill, Wolverine wonders if it is for hunger, or revenge?!?
Wolverine then realizes that there is a frightened teenager up there that needs his help. As he starts to make his way up the mountain, Dooling recognizes his walk. That stooped over posture. He knew it! He knew he saw the man someplace before, now he remembers!! That wild thing he tracked over these same hills - the bear trap wasn’t clamped to its leg, it was dragging it along as if creating a trail!! It wasn’t the Hunter in Darkness he shot all those years ago - it was Wolverine!!!! Dooling wonders how it could be - this stranger also has the voice of the Corporal!! They can’t all be the same, can they?? The last time he saw the Corporal, he was - omigod!!! He remembers, that awful horrible sound!!!
A little ways away, the young girl is running in the dark away from Ike. Ike is calling out to her that she best come back to him or that big tooth thing is going to eat her right up!! The girl shouts back for him to drop dead, she’d rather take her chances with... Before she can finish, she runs into the arms of Wolverine. She screams in fright!!
Ike hears her screams and assumes that the Hunter got her!! He then realizes that he better look for his rifle while the Hunter is having his girlie cutlets! He pulls a lighter from his vest and flicks it on. Big mistake as the Hunter converges on him immediately. The lighter goes out and the only sounds that are heard are those of growls, rips, cracks, pops, and crunches!!!
In his memories, Dooling remembers back to that sound. It was like nothing he ever wanted to hear again. It was the sound of bone cracking and meat being ripped!! He looked out into the plowed field and there was the Corporal, hacking at the enemy and howling like a wild beast!! He was a demon, cutting down men like pigs on market day! The air under that flare was pink with blood and the screaming - Lord, the screaming! The Corporal was right in the middle of them, so close they couldn’t shoot him and even if they did, he doesn’t think he would have gone down!! The Corporal... what was his name?? It was something simple... a solid Canadian name... it was something like... Logan!
At that exact moment, Wolverine happens upon Dooling with the girl in his arms. He hears Dooling’s last words and goes over to check on him. He realizes that Dooling is dead, but he wonders - how did he know his name???