19/Awakening part 2
For a breathless moment we stared in horror and hopefulness. Nothing changed. Seth’s voice boomed over the silence which made me jump. “She was not worthy!” Jeers and complaints voiced unbelieving to my own ears. Sure she was a part of my kidnapping but she didn’t deserve to die. Seth’s glowing hues focused on me. He took one step in my direction.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t draw a single breath. Was this a slaughter? I assumed the point was to turn humans into werewolves somehow. My eyes darted between him and the corpse just beyond. The drums began once again and quickened matching the pace of my heart. Seth’s hand reached up and my eyes locked on the movement as if in slow motion.
I couldn’t look away.
Fire smoke shadowed my vision. While I blinked wildly to regain my sight, a blur of Seth’s hand closed in on me. The fire crackled and spit, raised voices cheered, the percussion steadily carried on. This was it, I was going to die. My body was pushed and turned, dizzying sparks of embers spun in my tear filled vision.
Sturdy arms wrapped around my shoulders until the world stood still once again. Belatedly, I began to struggle but was ushered to calm down in a tongue I was getting all too used to. My vision cleared as a horror awaited. I wiped at my eyes to be sure the flickering light wasn’t the cause. Two elongated fangs protruded from Seth’s lips, his features seemed to spasm and contort into something inhuman. Chanting from the crowd unnerved me and sent chills down my spine. Mark him, change him, and unleash the beast.
With a war cry, Seth closed the distance between him and Brandon. The human, to my surprise, didn’t flinch but seemed determined to endure. I was close enough this time to hear the tearing of flesh and see the blood trail down his shoulder. Collectively we held our breath, waiting for another death.
Brandon slipped from Seth’s grip and hunched to the ground on hands and knees. The moon’s glow illuminated the clearing, somehow brighter than before. My eyes were transfixed on Brandon’s hunched form rippling and grunting. Absently, I noticed the continued drumming was from my heart thundering in my ears. The only other sound was of popping bones and the crackle of the fire. I stood as the only human form among a sea of others mid change or almost all wolf. Collectively, the group seemed to bare the weight of the moon’s light shining down on them. Groans and joyous weeping transfixed me to the spot. It looked like what Thia said. The Goddess was drawing out the beasts, only much slower than Nash’s change from the club.
One did however make the change completely, a midnight black wolf with a mixture of grey and gold eyes. He seemed off balance at first, stumbling over large paws. I stood stunned, disbelieving what was before me although this wasn’t the first time seeing it. My mouth gaped at the vastly different scenery. One detail made this wolf different than the one I’d seen before. His posture was alert, albeit off kilter. Gums stretched back over jagged teeth bared. White saliva dripped from his jowls. His eyes threatened in and out of focus in my direction. Brandon before was terrifying, now he was lethal. I didn’t even think about it, if I did maybe I would’ve known to expect it.
I ran, terrified of the wild in his eyes. Pushing through the writhing group. Running faster, away from the images of my death in my mind. I had never felt so heavy nor light in my existence. My feet seemed to float in its strides, but the uncertainty of where I was going was grounding me to my situation. Dense footfalls nearly tripped my shaking legs over themselves. I just knew without looking who was chasing me. Trees, roots, and rocks were no obstacle in his pursuit of prey. A few times I peeked over my shoulder to silence, Brandon was unsteady on his new four legs which was my only advantage. The familiar ache in my chest when I thought of Nash pulled my legs back towards the cabins. I had no time to question the sanity in going back out to the clearing. Coming to a group of cabins, I tried to decide which one to hide in. One slightly out of the half circle caught my attention. The heavy oak door creaked under my insistence. Leadened paws loomed nearer. One final tug and it opened. Dust and darkness awaited me inside. With snapping jaws drowning in foam as my incentive, I embraced the pitch black and heaved the door shut within a breath of being too late.
My knees gave out from under me in my relief. I could hear Brandon circling the cabin with snorts and snuffs just over my labored breathing. What had gone wrong? Was there another possibility than death or becoming a werewolf? He almost seemed. Rabid.
If all the cabins were near carbon copies the latch for the door should be around...here. A flimsy excuse of a lock but at least it was something. I dropped back to my knees and shuffled around the cabin until I felt the fire place I was looking for. My hands were coated in dust, probably like everything else in here. Was this one of the many unused cabins Seth told me about? I pitied whoever built this only to die without lineage. My fingers brushed what felt like wood stacked beside the stone fireplace. Carefully, I stacked a pile in the designated area. I thought back to my previous attempts of a fire back in the cave when I first met Nash. A shadow of a smile touched my lips even in this dire situation my mind couldn’t stay away from him.
“I wish you were here. You’d know what to do.” I whispered to the dust and darkness.
The windows were barred with wood instead of the leather I’d seen in other cabins. Slivers of moonlight peeked through to lighten one corner, shadowed periodically by the circling wolf. As if it were a sign, the dimly lit corner had blankets folded away. I struggled with myself, concluding that the dead wouldn’t mind a few strands repurposed as fire starter. Light and warmth was needed, and hopefully a smoke stack would be a beacon for help. Nash had once told me although in wolf form he was still himself, just reacting on a baser instinct. And what does a predator do when something runs away? Chase. How stupid was I? Then again, how in control was Brandon? He wasn’t a model human, and turning into a werewolf didn’t change a person inwardly. Was he after me for the struggle I put up back when he kidnapped me, or was this just a baser instinct controlling his reaction. If he lost interest and left I decided it was the later rather than the former.
My fingers worked tirelessly to construct a fire, easier the second time as I blew into the spark. The fire engulfed the dry wood within minutes. A yellow glow lit the room while the corners remained a mystery. A long stick leaned against the doorway with a rounded concave top, like a primitive crutch. Three chairs were stacked atop the table backed into the wall. The remains of a rocking chair pushed into a corner.
I fingered the bare bed stripped of everything but its posts. The situation made me feel like Goldilocks encroaching in someone’s home, until the dark figure obstructed the moonlight. Now I felt sympathy for the two little pigs in their feeble homes of sticks and straw. “Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.” I whispered determinedly towards the door. Witless as I was to barricade myself in here, I knew I wasn’t the same girl I was just over a week ago. Before Nash, I was shy with two friends and my only goal was to stay in my mother’s shadow. It wasn’t really a goal of mine to be a nurse, but I at least thought it was admirable to be like my role model. Now I knew about the supernatural, and with that knowledge I felt like a piece was missing all this time. Maybe my father was a werewolf, or maybe just human. Either way I didn’t know if I could go back to my normal life after this. Especially with the dreams.
The angle of the bed and heavy door sent a chill of reminder down my spine. I had seen this very room just last night. Thia on the bed bringing in the new generation of her pack.
A small loft was just above me. A broken ladder lay in pieces on the floor. Splinters of mysterious origins littered the floor near the bed and loft. Reaching on my tiptoes, I wrapped my fingers around the edge of the loft. My grip slipped from the dust coating the wood. I wiped away the grime and tried again. Pull-ups were never my strong suit but something demanded I get up there.
If I gave myself a head start, maybe I could jump high enough to pull myself half way up. Step by step I backed away from the loft towards the door. My ears strained to hear the wolf. My heel touched the threshold just as something forced itself against the heavy oak. Thud! I jumped in response. Thud! The lock strained against the jam. Thud! Sturdy oak bowed in stress. My heart took residence in my throat, but I was determined. Focused on my goal the next thump was my starting gun.