It was just another night.
My dad was passed out drunk and useless on the living room couch. The same episode of M*A*S*H* was playing on the screen repeatedly. Zeus, our fat and spoiled Mastiff, whined at the door. I grabbed his collar from the hooks besides the door and clipped it over his neck before quietly pushing the screen door open in hopes of not waking my dad.
“Alright, make it quick you overgrown pup,” I said, wrapping my hands together and bringing them up to my mouth for some semblance of warmth. As the heat of my breath gently splayed across my palms, I surveyed the surroundings. After living in the middle of perhaps the densest woods in Missouri, you get used to habitually checking for Possums or skunks. I learned my first lesson at the age of 13, when I took Zeus out and ran back in to continue the game I had left on. It didn’t take long before a high pitched bark and a keen whine to follow after that had me racing back downstairs. I still remember opening the door and - yep, he got sprayed by one of those black and white fuckers.
Don’t even ask me how hard it is to take a tomato sauce bath with a mastiff.
“You almost done, Zoo? Jeez.” My eyes scanned the dark woods before finally spotting the white and brown patched animal cowering at the very edge of the yard. Suddenly I processed soft whines and realized they were coming from him.
“Hey boy, what’s wrong?” I slowly approached and watched as he bared his neck to the side scraped his paws against the dirt as though he was antsy to be anywhere but there.
“Calm down, okay? There’s nothing there-” Just as I was slowly reaching out to pet the back of Zeus’ head, a clawed hand suddenly sprung from the shadows and snatched my wrist. I looked up and my eyes met glowing Amber.
I don’t know how I managed to free myself from the grip, or why I ran in the opposite direction of the house, but I do know that Zeus ran by my side as I sprinted across the thick yet familiar foliage surrounding my home. My heart was pounding and my thoughts were wreaking havoc in my head.
What the fuck was that? Gotta get somewhere safe... Where the hell am I?
I noticed my feet were taking me away from the safe confines of my house instead of towards it, but it was too late now and I didn’t want whoever or whatever the hell that thing that grabbed me was to get its claws back on me.
After only a few minutes of aimless running and sprinting did I finally break out of the foliage and into an empty clearing. The cedar trees and dark grass seemed to be ethereal with the way the moon’s light reflected off of them. I strained my ears to hear evidence of the creature in the still night.
Suddenly, a voice broke the serenity.
“Thought you could just run away?” I whipped around, heart pounding in my chest once more as I finally analyzed the man - or thing- that had been pursuing me.
“W-Who are you?” Why, for once in my life, could I not just sound intimidating?
“That won’t matter when I’m finished with you.” The man, who had previously been completely shielded by the shadows of the trees, finally stepped out into the clearing with me. I saw that with his inhuman glowing Amber eyes, he also had beastly facial features. His nose was scrunched up into an almost snout-looking shape; his clawed hands hung flexing by his sides.
“W-what do you-” Before I could even finish the question, the man flashed sharp canines at me before pouncing. My back slammed to the ground and perhaps I would have been worried about the resounding crack I heard if it weren’t for the incisors digging into my jugular.
Ice seemed to paralyze all of my nerves at once, but I could still feel the sensation of the man lapping at my neck, his bite digging harsher and his breathing more sporadic.
Next came the heat.
Fire was lighting my veins in tidal waves and my screams turned into animalistic howls. In the background I heard an answering howl, and somewhere in the back of my mind I was reminded of Zeus. Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay.
The weight on top of me disappeared.
My vision was blurred, but whether it was from tears or from my deteriorating consciousness I wasn’t sure. All I could see was the sky and the full moon, which hung in false captivity. It seemed to glow brighter the longer I looked at it, and I refused to pry my eyes away from the enchanting sight when I found that staring at it distracted me from the pain wracking my body.
But then hands were pulling me back down to earth as they grasped desperately at my sides and hoisted me off the ground.
“Hey, knock out of it,” A hand gently slapped the side of my face. My eyes blinked open in response but all I could make out were blurry figures and heat encompassing the entire right side of my body.
“Ouch.” Was my only half-hearted response. I heard a huff of feminine laughter and a voice quickly shushing it. Suddenly there was a gentle sway, and I realized I was being carried.
“I need you to stay awake, okay? Stay awake.” This voice was different from the other two. It was right above my ear, right next to the waves of heat emanating onto the right side of my body.
“But why?” I whined, eyes closing yet again.
“’Mmm sleepy...” I finished, head falling to the side as my consciousness weaved in and out.
“No, stay awake.” The voice ordered. I didn’t know anything about this voice; who it belonged to, what it was doing here, hell I didn’t even know if it was real. But there was ONE thing I knew for sure.
I didn’t want to disappoint the voice.
So with determination that out-rivaled a hungover high school student desperate to pass finals - and trust me I would know what that felt like - I pried my eyes opens and wiggled against what I now recognized as a chest. A bare chest. A nice, firm, built bare chest.
I died, didn’t I?
“Why are you so hot?” I murmured. Yet again a snicker resounded and another sound resembling a slap followed after.
“Hey now, better than her claiming the alpha isn’t hot, amiright?” This time the noise of protest came from my savior. His chest vibrated against my shoulder as he let out a threatening growl.
“Whoa... Hot,” I mutter. I wasn’t sure if I was referring to his body heat or his growl. My head bobs as the man walks with a quick pace, and I feel the bricks in my head jumbling around with each step. Wait, why are there bricks in my head?
With one last sigh, I finally gave in to the blackness skirting at the edges of my vision.