Chapter 37: Exposed
The morning came, and along with it came the crying babies. Renee woke up and got out of the bed, heading back to the small room that she had to herself now that Nathan was mated. I got up and changed my boys, then brought them back to bed with me to feed them. I had come to love this time, the feeling of them sucking hard on my breasts, taking what they needed from me. When they were full, burped and ready for the day, I placed them between me and a still sleeping Craig on our large bed.
He had come to bed late, and was still sleeping hard. I played with their hands and feet as they smiled at me, until Marge knocked on the door. “Come in,” I said.
She smiled as she walked over to the bed and tickled Darryl until he giggled at her. “Go get dressed, I’ll take them out. They won’t be lacking attention today.”
“All right, just make sure you or Mabel is keeping an eye on them.” She put one in each arm and left as I headed for the shower.
When I got out to the living room, only the younger visitors who hadn’t gone on the run last night were there. Mabel brought me a coffee and some sliced fruit while I chatted with them and my Pack members. Renee volunteered to watch them until they fell asleep again, so I went into the kitchen which was a madhouse of activity. “Need some help?”
“Not from you,” Mabel said. “We’ve got plenty of hands getting lunch ready to go, and you’re the Host Alpha of this party. We expect a steady stream of visitors arriving throughout the day, and you need to do the meet and greet thing.”
I nodded. “You have the housing plan?”
She handed me a copy and showed me where the ones were to hand out; the overhead view of our neighborhood was shown, each Pack having houses and tent areas around their house. It was best if the Pack was settled together so they would feel more comfortable. “The ones that are going to be using tents have been told, the spots have been marked in the yards. We’ve got breakfast going on the back patio until nine, then we have to start clearing everything out for lunch.”
Sure enough, every twenty minutes or so I’d get a text from our security folks that more vehicles were arriving. The Alphas could be a fun group, but many were as old as my parents and could be serious. Most of the people arriving today were around my age, excited to meet people and hopefully find their mate.
I directed them to their lodging and invited them to come back to the pool and backyard area for informal socializing. We had a bunch of things to do; the pool and hot tub were open, we had volleyball, horseshoes and Ultimate Frisbee, and the Greens had brought out their ATV’s and motorcycles. By ten in the morning, the party was in full swing and I saw the helpers starting to get things going for lunch.
I was walking by the pool when I heard someone scream. “Oh Luna! Turn it up! Turn it up!” I ran over to where she was pointing, we had a projection screen on showing Fox News and my blood ran cold when I saw the caption underneath. “WEREWOLVES ATTACK MIDDLE SCHOOL.”
I grabbed the remote and turned up the sound as far as it could go. All games and other activities had stopped as everyone rushed to the nearest TV, hands over faces and some were crying.
“This is Shepherd Smith for Fox News, we are about to go live to Casper, Wyoming where we have reports of multiple children and adults being mauled by rampaging wolves. Details are sketchy, so we go live to our Fox Affiliate on the scene.” The screen shifted to a schoolyard, where a young blonde reporter was standing in front of what was a scene from hell. “As you can see, the injured are still being brought out into the waiting ambulances as police and sheriff’s units from Casper and surrounding communities clear the school. The attack started about nine fifteen this morning, and the initial reports to 911 were of werewolves fighting in the gymnasium.”
“Werewolves? Really?” Shepherd was on split screen, his face sneering in denial.
“Those were the reports. I’ve talked to law enforcement personnel, they only confirm that they have encountered and killed over ten large, vicious wolves within the building. The students who have been evacuated are in this church sanctuary next door, but police are not allowing interviews.” As she talked, we saw a boy, maybe twelve years old, being carried out of the building by a police officer. His right side and arm were soaked with blood, and he was hanging limp in his arms. The camera operator shifted from the reporter to show this scene in close up.
Suddenly, the boy started struggling in the officer’s arms and was dropped onto the ground. His body and limbs started to contort and break as those around him watched in horror. It only took thirty seconds before the wolf broke free and he shifted forms. On live TV, the world saw an injured boy transform into a lethal, mentally unstable killing machine.
We could hear the sound of the reported throwing up on the ground as the cameraman’s shaky video continued to broadcast. The small brown and grey wolf turned on his rescuer, leaping onto him as the man tried to hold him off. He screamed as the wolf grabbed his forearm and bit down hard, the snap of his bones could clearly be heard. He fell as the wolf released him, and he tried to scramble to his feet. The wolf jumped on his back and his jaws clamped down on his neck instead. There was a spray of blood as the artery tore open, then with a strong shake the man’s head was ripped off completely. The wolf dropped it, growling and drooling the blood as he looked at the camera for a second, before running for the woods.
There was a hail of gunfire as the police tried to stop him. He stumbled as a shot found home in his back leg, causing him to fall and roll. The shots kept coming, clearly hitting his chest and neck as he roared his anger. Finally, one found his head and he dropped boneless to the ground.”
“Oh my God...” Shepherd was staring at his screen. “Did that just happen?”
As the local reporter was trying to recover enough to talk, there was a loud crash. The camera operator turned around, an ambulance had swerved and crashed into parked cars near the entrance to the parking lot. As they watched, another wolf burst through the windshield and onto the hood, his body covered in blood and cuts. He looked around for a second, then ran towards the group of parents that was watching the events in horror from behind police tape. Officers ran towards the scene, some firing wildly at the charging wolf, but they had no chance to stop him.
The wolf tore through the panicked crowd, biting and clawing his way into the center. Men and women ran away in horror, some bleeding, others in hysterics. I watched as a woman froze, staring at the wolf, until it turned to her and ripped her throat out. A dozen police and SWAT personnel finally got close enough to shoot the wolf off his final victim, and a burst of rifle fire directly into his head caused him to still.
I tore my eyes from the screen and looked around; no one was moving, we were all in shock. Werewolves had just been exposed to human kind in the worst possible way. Cell phones started going off, and Alphas started to talk to their Packs back home. We all knew that life would be forever changed by what we just saw.
I started watching again; ambulances were stopped from leaving, the victims left locked inside with armed police watching them. The coverage shifted to the local emergency rooms, where at least one victim had already shifted and had gone on a rampage. “Do we call them?”
Alpha McDonald sneered. “And say what? ’Oh, by the way, we’re a werewolf pack and you’re doing this all wrong. These people that are bitten need to be sedated and brought to your friendly neighborhood Alpha before they turn into deranged killing machines?”
I shook my head. “If that is what it takes. These humans are going to turn rogue in minutes, hours at the most. It’s going to spread like a virus unless they get a handle on it soon.”
He looked back at the screen, where officers had just shot dead a K-9 dog in front of its panicked handler. “They won’t listen, and I won’t endanger my Pack. The packs in Wyoming need to deal with this.”
One by one, the Alphas ordered their pack members to prepare to leave immediately. We all recognized the danger, that this exposure threatened all of us. There were a few apologies, but there was nothing else to do. I did ask for a short meeting of Alphas before everyone left; we met on the front porch as the vehicles were being frantically loaded. “I want to thank you all for coming, and know that the bonds formed here are strong. We will all need friends in the days coming.” There were nods from them all. “I think we should discuss what our common strategy is going to be to deal with this.”
“Hide,” said Alpha Jennings. “I’m implementing our defense plans already. Those who can’t fight are being moved to the shelter, those that can are setting up defenses.”
“We need to be careful with that, Charles.” Nick Anders looked at us all. “We live among the humans, unlike you. We have to behave normally until this blows over. If we hide, if we disappear, we just make ourselves bigger targets.”
“I’ve banned shifting for the time being, and I recommend you do the same.” Rose Stormwater sat on the steps with a heavy sigh, her body was old and slowing down. “Humans are going to be scared to death of anything that even looks like a wolf. They’ll shoot first, ask questions later. I’ve told my Pack to stay near home for now. The panic from this will be bad enough that no one will think different if we don’t show ourselves to outsiders for a few days.” There was agreement to the first part, and mostly the second.
Moe approached and asked to talk. “Once the Federal Government gets involved in this, they’ll put their full resources into finding werewolves. We have to be careful in how we communicate; remember, the Echelon system intercepts all telephone and email communications. Avoid terms like Pack, Shift, Werewolf, even Mate. If you need to call another Pack, use Skype, it’s more difficult to track. Most importantly, don’t ever discuss locations of your Pack or others. If they find one of us, we need to make sure they don’t follow a trail to the rest of us. If you have written or electronic records with information on your Pack members or other Packs, destroy them.”
“That’s our history, I can’t just destroy it!” Alpha Jennings was shocked.
“Then bury it, hide it somewhere no one but you will ever find it. Imagine if they got ahold of a Pack roster and started following the trail. We need to be smart about this.” There was resignation about this, nobody liked it.
We discussed a few more items before Craig closed it up. “The kitchen staff has prepared some food for your trip. Please be safe, follow the speed limits and stay calm. Law enforcement will be on edge, we don’t need to do anything to attract attention to ourselves.” There were hugs and goodbyes and then they were all headed to their cars.
My own Pack was affected as Alphas demanded their members come home where they could be protected by their own. I gave a teary goodbye to the Green family; every one of them was returning home for now, their surveillance and security duties would now become ours. They said they would return in a few weeks, when things calmed down, to get their trailers and the rest of their stuff. They packed light and were going to join their Alpha on the plane. Nadine Anderson and her daughter Nicole were packing, their Alpha told them to be home before the weekend was over. Melanie Schefter and her mate Jacob were staying for now, but his Alpha was pushing hard to get them both home. She wasn’t comfortable leaving yet, so he had told his Alpha that he couldn’t return until his contract was up. I was sure to hear about that later.
Renee came out holding Mitchell as Nathan came out with Darryl in one arm and Nicolette in his other. She had just said goodbye to her parents, and her eyes were still wet from the tears. They had decided to keep their plan and have her return to the Johnson Pack with Nathan. “I don’t want to go home yet, Ella.” Renee handed me the baby and hugged herself into my side. “I want to stay with you.”
“Sorry, Renee, but you have school starting next week, and your parents need you with them.” I gave her a hug, then Craig took Mitchell so I could hug Nathan and my new cousin. “I’m so happy for you two. You’ll love it in your new Pack, we’ll visit you as soon as we can.”
“I love you too, Ella. Take care of your Pack.” I watched them load up in their rental car and head to the airport. I never liked standing there watching friends and family leave, but my gut was in knots this time. Bad things were coming.
We went back inside and watched more of the coverage, none of us able to eat or think as the carnage continued, live and in high definition.
I curled up into Craig’s side as the Pack all gathered on the floor of the living room, seeking comfort from one another as we watched. “Now what?” I looked at him, hoping he would have some great wisdom.
Marge came in. “Now we have work to do. Come on.” I looked at her quizzically. “I’m not going to let five hundred pounds of prime rib sit in the kitchen and spoil. We’ve got food for two hundred people that aren’t here anymore. Get off your butts and get in here, we need to put it away.”
We all moved into the kitchen, glad to have some work that would take our minds off the sadness and sense of impending danger we all felt. It was a few hours before I could turn on the TV again. The National Guard had been called out, and they were shooting injured people now before they could turn.
I went and threw up in the garbage can. Craig turned the television off and held me as I broke down.