Chapter 38: Mass Hysteria
I woke up in the morning and turned on the television in our room as I went to take care of the boys. The coverage was wall-to-wall werewolf, and showed no signs of stopping. The security camera footage from the school attack had been leaked to the press, and they hysteria was growing by the hour.
The footage itself was horrifying. The entire sequence took almost half an hour to show from beginning to end. It started with a view of the outside of the building, as a huge black wolf left the treeline and ran across the baseball field. The students were in the gym, and the gym doors to the outside were open to let the late summer breeze through. The wolf ran through the door, and when the view shifted to inside the gym, that’s when all hell broke loose.
The students scattered, but not fast enough to get out of the way of the charging wolf. Some children couldn’t get out of the way in time, and were bitten or scratched as the wolf pushed his way through. On the other side of the gym, one of the coaches shifted into a large grey wolf, but the black wolf was through the door and gone before he could get to him. Two students shifted as well and followed him.
The video shifted to the main hallway. In the distance, two more adults and two students shifted to wolves as the black wolf ran through the hallway. Two human students were bitten as the black wolf skidded along the floor, crashing into them as he ran. The wolves at the end of the hallway blocked the far end, as another wolf came up behind, but it didn’t stop him. He ran straight to the largest wolf and went for his throat.
The big wolf, later identified as Principal Johnson, met him head on and they crashed to the floor. The fight was intense but brief; the two large wolves were ripping chunks from each other, as the smaller wolves jumped in when they could and took their own bites. Finally, the black wolf was down and not moving.
The Principal was wounded badly and bleeding from several wounds. A man next to him shifted, their genitals blurred out. It was one of the teachers, Ben Dontari; he helped him to his feet and they worked their way to the front door, along with four others. The footage showed them getting into cars and driving off, before the first police arrived. Their names and photos were posted on the screen since they were still at large.
The footage then got scarier, as the frightened children were being led out and emergency personnel arrived on scene. The first child that shifted turned into a wolf the size of a German Shepherd, but behaved like it was crazed and petrified. It turned on the emergency workers, scratching and biting its way off the stretcher and running down the hall. This pattern repeated a dozen times inside and outside the school, the dead and injured expanding exponentially until police tactics changed. At first, they just shot the people that had shifted. To end the horror, they shot anyone who had been bitten.
The communications didn’t get to everyone in time, and police found it difficult to execute a fellow cop or neighbor just because they were scratched or bitten. As a result, the carnage spread to three local hospitals. The Life Flight chopper didn’t get notified, so one critical patient made it to Denver before she woke up and shifted in the emergency room.
And in a world of cellphone video, all too many of these events were shown over and over again.
The Governor of Wyoming declared martial law in six counties. The news coverage included Sheriff’s briefings, along with Homeland Security and Emergency Management. National Guard troops were paired with law enforcement as the containment area was established. Troops and police went house to house, searching for anything that looked large and wolflike. Hundreds of large dogs were killed as the hysteria grew; the owners were distraught, but no one cared. They couldn’t take any chances.
The biggest priority for them was to find and kill the werewolves that they knew had escaped from the school. Their homes had been raided yesterday, and crime scene investigators were still going through them and carrying stuff out to trucks. Of course, they interviewed coworkers and neighbors, most of whom were shocked to find out they were deadly werewolves.
I was making lunch, trying to use up some of the food left over from the party, when the news coverage went live. A ranch nestled against the foothills was being shown from a helicopter circling nearby. They could see SWAT teams and infantry troops moving in from all sides, supported by armored personnel carriers and even a tank. They meet no resistance as they set a perimeter about thirty yards from the house.
There are white trails and then explosions of fire as grenade launchers send tear gas and incendiary rounds through the windows of the two-story house. Nothing happens for a few minutes except the smoke and fire starting to build, and then they make a break for it.
A large black and tan wolf jumps through a window in the back and runs for the woods, three others hot on his heels. The run is short lived, as automatic rifles and machine guns tear through them and cut them to shreds in seconds. If there are any more, they aren’t coming out. Instead, puffs of smoke are seen from inside as the occupants return fire.
This causes every member of the surrounding force to open fire in a circular firing squad, tearing the house and the occupants apart in a five-minute-long hail of bullets. Of course, rounds go all the way through the house and twelve are killed, eighteen injured in the first battle between werewolves and humans. When the cease fire is finally given, America and I watch as the structure collapses and burns.
Every werewolf in the country realizes one thing. There will be no surrender, no negotiation. If we are found out, we die.
We eat in silence, everyone watching the coverage. Finally, John Spencer breaks the silence. “Ella, we heard back from Alpha Coleman this morning.”
“Did he make it back to Winnepeg without incident?”
“Yes, but things are very tense on the border. He thinks it would be best for us to wait here until things calm down.”
“That wouldn’t be a bad idea,” Craig said. “I’ve heard back from all the other Alphas, they have all returned home but some had an adventure getting there. Roadblocks, vehicle searches, even citizen patrols.”
“Doug said they had to pass a checkpoint in Billings, the State Patrol was looking for dogs. They are home now, he’s ordered everyone back into the main pack house for now and they’ve stopped patrols in wolf form.” I had been so relieved to get his text message saying they were home safe last night.
Craig looked at everyone in our small pack, worry etched in his eyes which showed the strain of the past day. “All right, this is how we are going to keep our Pack safe.” Everyone’s eyes were fixed on him. “Until further notice, no werewolf leaves this street, and stay inside when possible. No shifting unless you are in the house or in the pole barn.” There were nods all around. “Ella and Mark will take care of anything we need from town. If it can be ordered and delivered, fine, but let’s keep it to our normal UPS and FedEx drivers.”
I put my hand on his and continued. “We have to be very careful about how we talk over the phone and the Internet. No mentions of werewolves, packs, shifting, even Alpha titles. If you need to contact someone, work with Josh.” Josh smiled nervously as people turned to him. “He has ways to hide things on the internet that give me a headache just thinking about.” We all laughed a little.
“How long will these restrictions stay in place, Alphas?” Olivia looked concerned, Mark had school starting next week.
“Until things calm down, I guess. We have no idea of knowing.” Craig took my hand in his. “With all this,” his eyes looked up to the TV, “it could be a while. Now, we need to use this time we are locked in here to prepare.”
“For what?” Marge looked around. “We’re safe here, right?”
“Worst case scenario,” he replied. “You saw what happened in Casper. If the government figures out we are werewolves, we won’t have much time to react. Our safe rooms need to be prepared, and we need to be prepared to stay down for a long time. The safe room in this house was designed for a much larger Pack than we have, giving us even more margin. It’s all about making sure we can get in there quickly when the alarms are triggered.”
Everyone nodded, and he continued. “Jacob, with the Greens gone, I’m placing you in charge of our security. Every adult werewolf needs to be trained in the alarm system and able to take shifts in the security center. We need 24/7 coverage, long term.” Jacob nodded his assent.
I looked at Nadine and Natalie. “You’re leaving Monday, right?” She nodded. “Before you go, I’d like you to give a once-over to all the firearms in the security office and the safe rooms. Make sure they are cleaned, loaded and have plenty of ammo available. Use whoever you need to for help.”
“Surely you aren’t thinking of fighting your way out?” Her hand went to Natalie’s in fear.
“Casper is the worst case, but it could be less than that,” Craig said. “Vigilantes, even other wolves. We have to be ready for anything.”
I stood up as my babies started making noise. “We’re Pack, we’re family, we WILL get through this together,” I said. “Now, let’s get to work.”
We came back together for dinner, and the news had calmed down quite a bit. Nothing new was happening until it was announced the President would be speaking to the nation at seven PM.
We had prime rib for dinner, with the rest of them going into the walk-in freezer. Marge had done a dry rub on the outside and John had put it on the smoker for four hours, it was fantastic… and yet none of us had any real appetite. We went about our work, one eye on the TV and our minds doing laps on the short track about what was happening.
We had Mabel’s famous chocolate cake for dessert, then we all went into the movie theater to watch the address. I curled up next to Craig in one of the big chairs as the babies slept together on the next chair over. Nadine was on duty in the security center, so Natalie was tucked up on Craig’s other side. He turned up the volume as the news went to the live feed from the White House.
The President was speaking directly from the Oval Office, the American flag behind him. “Good evening, my fellow Americans.”
“Yesterday morning, a tragedy of shocking proportions occurred in a school in Casper, Wyoming. We all watched in horror as the events unfolded. We saw yesterday morning that the monsters of our mythology, romanticized in film and popular in fictional books, are real. There are werewolves among us, and they are true monsters.
In what we now know was a four-minute attack on defenseless children in school, eleven students and faculty were killed, and twenty-three wounded. If that had been the end of the attack, it would have been one of the most horrific school attacks in our history, but that wasn’t the end.
In a matter of minutes, the attack spread. We found out quickly that their bite or scratch is enough to make others like them. When the animal that lies within comes out, is vicious and without conscience. It cannot be talked down, it doesn’t reason and it shows no mercy. Our law enforcement agencies were forced to make difficult decisions that morning to stop the carnage. The outbreak was stopped, but at great cost of innocent life.
I wish I could sit here on this Saturday night of the last weekend of summer and tell you that you are safe, that we have it all under control. That is not the case. The more we learn about these werewolves, the more frightening the threat is.
They live among us, they are our friends, our coworkers, even our family. Nothing I say can ensure you are protected from this threat. Prudence dictates that we reduce the danger where we can, and that is why public events have been cancelled by government and private entities alike. I am ordering the immediate grounding of all civilian aircraft, and all schools, private and public, are cancelled until further notice. I understand the inconvenience and cost this will create, but we cannot risk one of these animals changing in flight.
I am encouraging governors and local authorities to establish curfews and other measures as necessary to provide for public safety. You should pay attention to your local news broadcasts for further details.
We are working in consultation with other nations, and we have already confirmed that the existence of werewolves is not confined to the American West. As of tonight, the borders with Canada and Mexico have been closed pending the development of new procedures to ensure safety of citizens on both sides. The Federal government is establishing quarantine areas as we speak to try and contain werewolf populations until we can eradicate them.
Rest assured that every asset of the Federal government is being used to locate and eliminate this threat. We are working hard, using captured and killed werewolves, to identify screening methods for when they are in their human form.
To our law enforcement and military out there, we need you in a battle that has no front lines and no safe territory. I am authorizing, under emergency measures and in consultation with Congressional leadership, the use of deadly force upon encountering any werewolf or potential werewolf. Your orders are to shoot on sight, and shoot to kill. You need look no farther than today’s events to see the dangers you face.
To our citizens, we need your help. If you see something, say something. Police agencies will record and investigate suspected werewolves and take appropriate measures. You need to remain safe; there are to be no vigilante tactics. Of course, you retain the right to defend yourself and your family from attack.
To the werewolves out there, you have a choice. Turn yourselves in to the nearest police station, and you will live. If not, you will die. I, and those I direct, will not rest until this threat is ended. The Were War has begun, and the human race will be victorious.
Good night, and God Bless the United States of America.”