Brave New World

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Just One Drop (and the Fur Flies)

July 6, 2005

Reyna was dreadfully bored. Dunstan had left earlier that day for a Council of Three meeting at Lokesh’s house. He had told her to brush up on her books, but she had already read everything he’d given her. Reyna had also seen all the shows that were currently playing on the T.V. and she didn’t feel like re-watching any of their movies. She wished Dunstan had allowed her to go with him, then at least she’d have Marcus to hang out with, but he’d denied her request. It was past five o’clock in the evening, and Reyna knew there was nothing good to eat in the house, so grabbing her newly acquired Nokia cell-phone, and some emergency money out of the decorative cookie jar, she made her way out of the brownstone.

Grimacing as the hot air hit her, Reyna was glad she was wearing a tank top and jean shorts. Dunstan had finally caved and stopped buying her clothes from Good Will and upgraded to Target. Reyna figured it was a tactical move on his part in hopes to appease some stereotypical teenaged tantrum. Whatever the reason, she was glad she was no longer wearing someone’s hand me downs.

Not really sure of where she was headed, Reyna knew she could go to almost any corner and find a hot dog stand, but her body felt content to walk, so walk she did. After taking the subway and walking a bit more, Reyna found herself once more deep within Central Park. She mused for a few seconds how she always seemed to end up in this makeshift home of hers before ordering herself a glorious hotdog with all the fixings, chips, and some water. She’d read somewhere that pop only made you thirstier, and on a hot day like this, Reyna did not want to be thirsty. Taking her food over to a nearby bench that overlooked a walkway and a lovely little pond, Reyna cozied up for some people watching—one of her newest past times.

By the time she finished her food, she’d observed three wedgie pickings, two nose pickings, a small child dropping his ice cream and promptly crying over his loss, a new mother jogging while pushing a stroller, and several people yelling into their cell phones. Licking her fingers and smiling at one especially frustrated cell phone user, Reyna hopped off the bench and threw away her things. As she tossed her trash into the bin, two boys not much older than she passed her by.

“I’m telling you man,” One of them with shaggy blond hair said to the other. “Tonight’s gonna be sweet! It’ll be like a real life Fight Club!”

The other boy, whose black hair was shaved close to the scalp, smirked before he replied, “Someone’s already forgot the first rule.”

“Oh, shut up, man.” The blond grunted. “Seriously though, Weres fighting Weres? I can’t believe we’re going!”

“Weres?” Reyna asked, stopping the boys in their tracks. “Like, Werewolves?”

The two boys looked down at Reyna with wary eyes. With a quick glance at each other, the dark haired boy replied, “Yeah, so?”

“And they’ll be fighting? What for?” She asked, tilting her head to the side. Her green eyes bright with curiosity.

The shaggy haired boy huffed in frustration, “What’s it to ya?”

Reyna frowned at him, not sure why he was being so mean. Shrugging she answered, “I dunno, I’ve never met a Werewolf before.”

“Look kid,” the dark hair one said, placing his hand on his friend’s shoulder when they hunched up, “It’s great that you’re curious about our kind and everything, but we’re going to a fight. You know, like the ones on T.V., but for real. You don’t wanna go to that.”

Humming, Reyna looked over these boys with new eyes. He’d implied the two of them were Werewolves, and so she filed that information away. “Sure I do.” She said confidently, knowing she’d learn more about Werewolves and their culture from this one night than she ever would with Dunstan.

The blond boy laughed cruelly. “You sure you do, squirt?” he asked after his laughter died, pointing his finger at her. “You look like the type to faint at the sight of just one drop of blood!”

Now glaring at him, Reyna declared, “I bet I’ve seen more blood than you have!”

“Chyaa right,” he laughed again.

Grabbing his still outstretched finger, Reyna could feel his heart pumping blood through his veins, how his veins stretched underneath his entire skin, she could even feel the skinniness of his veins due to dehydration. Pushing her magic into those veins, Reyna brought them closer to the surface, making them easier to see underneath his skin. They gasped—the blonde’s slightly pained—before she let him go and watched as the veins returned to their normal positions. “Trust me, I can handle it.”

Reyna knew she was being mean by using magic on the boy, but he’d had it coming. Just because she was young doesn’t mean she was naïve or squeamish or anything of the sort. Besides, she reasoned, that spell is only slightly discomforting. It didn’t have too negative an effect on the body. Guilt built up in her belly and she bit her lip, “I’m sorry,” she apologized, her head bowing in shame. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

The blond boy’s mouth was agape and it almost looked like he had whiplash. He opened and closed his mouth several times before letting out a long sigh. Glancing over at his friend, they seemed to come to an agreement. “I’m sorry, too. I was being a jerk. Look, if you still wanna go to the fight we’ll take you.”

“Really?” Reyna asked, still hesitant to look up at the two boys.

“Really.” The dark haired boy said, “Anyone who can shut Jared here up for as long as you did deserves a reward.” He said with a wink, “I’m Will, by the way.”

“Reyna,” She responded, reaching out to shake both of their hands just like Dunstan taught her. “So where is this fight happening?” She asked, a large smile stretching her lips.

“Not too far,” Jared said, running his hands through his hair and pushing it out of his face. “Maybe a ten minute walk after we get out of the park.”

“Cool!” Reyna exclaimed, walking alongside them out of the park. “So you guys are really Werewolves?”

“Yup!” Jared said, popping the ‘p’. “Born and raised! You’ve really never met one before? We’re not exactly a rare bunch, ya know.”

“Nu-uh,” Reyna said with a shake of her head. “I’ve asked my Master about Weres before, but he always just brushed me off. It’s so annoying.”

“Who’s your Master?” Will asked.

“Sorcerer Dunstan, of the Council of Three.” Reyna answered in a rehearsed voice. The two boys glanced at each other again.

“Yeesh!” Jared grimaced. “I’ve heard horror stories about him. Like that he’s into dark magic and deals with Vampires.”

Reyna furrowed her brows, unsure what to do with this news. What was the difference between light and dark magic? She’d never heard of magic being separated into groups before. Skipping that part, she asked, “What’s wrong with Vampires?”

“Ugh!” Jared exclaimed. “What isn’t wrong with them?” He then went on a tangent of all the problems Vampires cause and why they were basically the scourge of the Earth. Reyna thought it was very long winded and felt her own vocal chords become exhausted just by watching him talk. Thankfully Will cut him off once they reached a large, abandoned looking building.

“This is it?” Reyna asked, unimpressed.

Will chuckled, “Patience, squirt.” After knocking on a door in a specific set of knocks—three, two, four—it swung open and they walked in. Distantly, Reyna could hear voices cheering and chanting. The sounds became louder as they walked deeper into the building. Finally they reached the center of the building and Reyna gasped at the enormity of it all.

“Cool, huh?” Jared asked with a smirk. She could only nod once before she was barreled into by a man carrying three baskets of nachos and a large drink. Will grabbed her forearm and pulled her deep into the mass of bodies.

By the time Will let go of her, Reyna felt sweaty and gross. Grimacing, she took inventory of the place. It was crudely built like a stadium, with tall bleachers surrounding a small ring down in the center. The only thing separating the fans from the fighters was a flimsy chain link fence. Jared began jumping up and down impatiently, “I can’t see the fight!” he yelled for the other two to hear.

Will shrugged, “It’s not like we’ll find any free seats closer to the ring!” he yelled back.

Reyna had an idea, “Are the seats reserved or is it first come first serve?”

“First come first serve!” Jared answered.

“Follow me!” She yelled and waved her hand for emphasis. Reyna led them down the bleachers, scanning her eyes over the many bodies that were closest to the ring. Locking her sights on three massive men in the third row with dozens of beer bottles scattered around their feet, Reyna headed for their bench. Holding up one bleacher higher than theirs, Reyna sighed and reached her magic out and felt for their organs. Locating their bladders with ease thanks to her anatomy lessons, Reyna helped nature along and filled the organ up until the men felt like they’d burst. Their excitement and cheers died off at almost exactly the same time as they realized what their bodies were telling them. Practically crawling on top of one another, they abandoned their seats and began climbing the stairs in search of the bathrooms.

Letting out a loud “Whoop!” Jared jumped onto the now empty bleacher bench and raised his arms to cheer on the fight.

Will let out an amazed laugh and turned towards Reyna, “What did you do?” he asked.

“Nothing much, just helped their bladders along.”

Arms crossing over his stomach and bending over half way, Will shook with laughter until Jared asked what was happening. When Will told him, Jared let out a “Hell yeah!” and high fived Reyna. “I told you we shoulda brought her along!” He told Will. Will gave him a dry look before the sound of a bell made him look away. The current fight was over and the two Weres in the ring were exchanged for another pair.

“Wow!” Reyna said in Will’s ear, “They’re huge!”

“Yeah, no kidding!”

“Do you know who they are?” She asked.

“Yeah, sorta.” Will explained, his breath uncomfortably hot in Reyna’s ear. “The one on the left’s name is Elijah Goldberg and the one of the right is Austin Chase. Austin is the underdog in this fight, though he might not look it!”

“Why’s that?”

“Cuz he’s not a natural born Wolf. I heard he was bit three years ago!”

Reyna nodded her head, letting him know she understood. Her brows had raised, though. She hadn’t known there were two different types of Werewolves. She wished she could ask Will more questions but his attention was already back on the ring so her curiosity would have to wait. With another ring of the bell the two Weres went at each other. First they boxed and jabbed at each other like how Reyna had seen people fight on the T.V., but after a particularly well placed hit by Austin to Elijah’s face caused blood to rush from the latter’s mouth, the two shifted, and instead of two men fighting it was now two Werewolves.

Gasping, Reyna reached a surprised hand out to grab at Will’s shirt. He didn’t seem to notice, though, as he bounced up and down on the bleacher bench with his arms pumping away at the air. So many new questions flooded the her mind as she watched the fight. The first being: Aren’t Werewolves only supposed to shift during the full moon? Reyna thought about it for a moment, it had still been light out when they’d entered the building, and she was pretty sure the full moon had happened a week ago. So what gives? Reyna let go of Will’s shirt and stockpiled her questions for later.

The fight ended soon enough with Elijah giving in after Austin bit him viciously in his flank. The bell dinged and two new Weres entered the ring. And so the night went. Weres entered the ring, and Weres exited the ring—albeit a little bloodier and usually furrier. Before she knew it, all the fights had been completed and people began to exit the make shift stadium. Reyna let out a small laugh of exhilaration before looking over at her two companions. “That was amazing!”

“I know, right?” Jared answered her excitement with his own. “Did you see that last pounce by Stanley Jacks? God! I wish I was half as daring as him!”

“I’m confused, though.” Reyna said, immediately getting back to her questions now that her adrenaline rush was tapering off. “How can they shift like that? I thought Weres could only shift during full moons?”

“Oh that? That’s just a myth thanks to Hollywood. Well, sorta . . .” Jared began but then tapered off. Reyna tilted her head and furrowed her brow, not understanding.

“What Jared is trying to say,” Will started, “is that we have to shift during the full moon, but we can shift without it, given the right circumstances.”

“And those would be?” Reyna probed as the they began to trek up the mountain of bleachers.

Jared shrugged, “Adrenaline, kinda. Self-preservation, mostly. Like if a Vamp were to attack or something during a regular night and we couldn’t shift, we’d be sitting ducks. But we’ve got this self-defense mechanism, right? If our heart’s pounding like we’re in danger and blood is spilled then our furry side gets to come out and play.”

“Yeah,” Will continued, “that’s why these fights are so popular. Some Weres love having control over the change, it’s such a rush! We heal pretty fast too, so even if someone gets bit it’ll just be a pink, tender mark by the next dark, really.”

“Wow,” Reyna whispered as they reached the top of the bleachers. She felt like she’d been missing out on so much by not learning about Werewolves, and she’d only begun to scratch the surface with them. That made her think, what about the other creatures Dunstan refused to teach her about? There was so much information out there just waiting to be acknowledged. Thinking of Dunstan, Reyna made a small humming noise and pulled out her cell phone from her back pocket, wincing when she saw the time. She hadn’t realized it had gotten so late—2:17 in the morning, to be precise. She also had 39 missed call from Dunstan. Gulping, Reyna knew she was screwed.

“Crap, it’s late!” She hissed. Will and Jared only shrugged their shoulders, completely carefree. “I gotta go! Dunstan’s gonna kill me!”

“Wait!” Jared yelled to her as she started to speed off. Halting in her steps, the young girl looked at her two new friends. “There’s another fight here next week. You should come! Ya know, do your pee thing and get us good seats!”

Letting out a snort, Reyna asked, “Same time?”

They both nodded, “Same time,” Jared answered.

“Sweet!” Reyna said with a smile, “See you next week!” And with a final wave she was off.

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