I ran through the quiet streets of Istanbul as the dawn threatened to lift the shadows I used as my cover. Running was as natural to me as breathing in either of my forms... and so was eradicating monsters. Keeping my quarry in my sights I relished the moment when I'd overtake my prey and bring him down. Relieving this city of filth was my job and I was damn good at it.
I came close to bringing the rogue down. So close I could see the fear in its red eyes, but I backed off at the last minute and decided to play with it a little more.
"Never play with your prey, brother. Didn't anyone teach you that?" Osman chuckled. My best friend, and my brother in everything but the biological sense.
I grinned at him. "This is almost too easy. I'm bored," I said as I jumped over a wall making sure to remain cloaked in the dark.
I slowed down as we took a turn down a gloomy deserted residential street filled with traditional houses. All the windows were shrouded in darkness as the residents slept. We were the denizens on the night. The invisible ones that kept nice neighborhoods like this from turning into a hunting ground for monsters.
"Come on, let's get this over with," Osman said. He was ready to call it a night. I, on the other hand, was filled with an odd restlessness I couldn't shake so I decided to drag this out even more, reluctant to head back. We turned down another street and I could see it and it's ragged fur ahead, it was getting tired and had slowed down significantly. I sighed. It really wasn't fun anymore. There was zero challenge in taking down this pitiful mess. Fucking werewolves, I thought. I made it my purpose in life to rid the world of this plague and the ones that created them.
I could overtake it in two seconds flat, I thought. "Let's do this," I said to Osman.
"Fuck, yeah." He climbed up the sheer facade of one house while I remained on the ground.
My muscles gathered and tensed ready to strike and finish it off. I gathered speed as I ran by shuttered homes and storefronts. Too fast for anyone that might still be awake to notice anything more than an unusual breeze.
I heard Osman laugh from above as he jumped over roofs and tried to overtake me. This was something we'd done ever since we were kids. Racing me in any form was a favorite pastime of his even though he knew he could never win, it didn't stop him from trying. I smirked and picked up speed, passing him up easily. He jumped down from a building, popped up in front of me and flipped me off.
I returned the gesture, jumped over a parked vehicle and then hit a solid wall. Hit it so hard it knocked me right on my ass and struck the breath out of me. I lay flat on my back on the wet street, dazed and bewildered, looking up at the gloom of the predawn sky.
My head was swimming. I lifted it slightly and looked around. What the fuck? There was no wall. Only a faint fragrance, and this...energy. Something indefinable that abruptly grabbed me in a chokehold and pulled at all of my senses inexorably.
"It got away," I heard Osman complain but the words barely registered. He was looming over me shaking his head in disbelief.
"What the fuck are you doing, man?" He said, irritated.
"Do you smell that?" I jumped up to my feet in one sudden move. That indescribable fragrance now permeated the air. It saturated my mind and left me breathless with a powerful urge to find...
"Yeah, " Osman said now more baffled than irritated. "There's a bunch of flowers over there. Flower shop or something."
I walked over to the shuttered store and saw a riot of flowers. They were in window boxes and planters and pots. The entire side of the store was blooming like a garden in spring. Except it was the dead of winter.
"No, that's not it." I kept walking and following the maddening scent I had no name for. It was an uncontrollable compulsion. The fragrance had filled my head and was invading my body like a virus. I took several ground eating strides until I stood in front of a white door.
The urge to rip the door apart with my bare hands and storm the inside of this house was so overpowering it almost knocked me right back on my ass again. I looked up at the beam of light coming through one of the upstairs windows
"Hey!" Osman called out. "I repeat, what the fuck?"
"You don't smell that?" My voice was almost unintelligible, the animal was taking over and I was barely in control. Dimly, I realized the potential for disaster. Yet nothing mattered at the moment. Nothing but getting to the source of this scent.
Before Osman could answer I heard a voice. I knew it belonged to the possessor of the scent and that's when my brain shut down completely and my animal took over. I jumped up and was clawing my way up the wall to the window. I needed to see her. Craved it like a drug. But before I could break through the window Osman leaped on my back.
"Can! Can! Listen to me!" he said urgently. "You can't do this. There's a girl in there! You go through that window the way you're feeling and you're going to scare her shitless and bring a whole world of trouble down on our heads." I growled at him but he didn't back down.
"Girls don't like feral beasts jumping at them through windows. That's no way to make a good first impression, " he cajoled. "Hey, come on." The urgency in his tone penetrated the small corner of my brain that was still in control. He persuaded and coaxed me into some sense until I let go of my grip on the wall and we both dropped down to the ground landing on our feet.
There was movement inside the house and my breath caught. Someone was approaching the door. The anticipation of laying eyes on this bewitching creature was almost more than I could bear. The other part of me was primarily in control at this point, pacing restlessly and impatiently and it understood it would get what it yearned for if it behaved passively. So I let Osman pull me by the neck and tug my unresisting body into the shadows. We stood in an alleyway opposite the house when the door opened.
I held my breath, my body instantly alert. Her head was down and her face was hidden, her head covered by the hood of a jacket. Even with my superior vision, I couldn't see anything beyond nameless features. She walked a few steps, stopped and peered into the shadows for a second. The desire to see her face was so overpowering that I took a step forward.
"Don't do this, brother," Osman warned me. The small rational part of me that was still in control acknowledged that interacting with a human while I was in this agitated state was not advisable. But I was beyond reason.
I shook him off, leaving his soft curses behind me and stalked her in the darkness. I followed her small figure until she stopped at the corner store with all the flowers and unlocked the door.
Turn around, turn, turn...
But she didn't. I watched her as she completed what were obviously very familiar tasks. She hummed a nameless song as she went about her duties. I was rooted to the spot, fascinated by the sound of her voice, her movements, by the way she flitted about like a happy little bird. I was transfixed by how she seemed to brighten up the gloom around her as if she glowed with her own inner light.
I moved closer to see what had her suddenly so engrossed and saw that she was making what looked like a small crown of flowers. She finally pulled down the hood of her jacket and affixed the crown to her braided hair. I slumped weakly back against the wall behind me as I caught a glimpse of her profile and her scent destroyed me once again.
She stiffened and glanced back behind her. I slipped further into the gloom. The quick glimpse of her features sent my heart into an insistent pounding rhythm. She turned back and finally went inside and took her maddening scent with her. My mental fog lifted slightly.
What was happening to me?
I didn't know.
But the urge to see her face up close, to look into her eyes was overwhelming and utterly irresistible. Nothing in this world could have stopped me from going into that store. Every molecule in my body screamed for a glimpse of her. So against all better judgment, I stepped out of the shadows and walked into her light.