“So any idea on why Talia didn’t stay?” I asked Calliope as we sped towards the forest where my Pack waited.
“No idea,” she said, hair flying in the wind, “She just said something about going to the doctor ‘cuz she didn’t feel well.”
I thought about this as we neared the woods. Talia had been feeling weird for a few days, complaining about an upset stomach. Probably just a stomach bug, but it was hard for a werewolf to really get sick. If it had affected Talia, chances were that I would also come down with it. The amount of nights we had been spending together had been increasing.
“Crap,” I muttered to myself. First the stupid spell. Now I was going to get a cold or the flu.
“I can see the woods!” Calliope shrieked, making me jump and break out of my thoughts. I glared at her as I parked next to Talia’s car. At least she felt well enough to be here.
“C’mon kid,” I told Calliope as she bounded out of the car.
We raced into the woods, searching for the light that indicated that our Pack was near. Most of our Pack gatherings were held in the heart of the forest, where no sane human would be unless they were camping.
We saw the lights, and burst into the clearing. About half of the Pack was there, with other members popping up from different directions. Unlike our last Meet, instead of bounding towards Talia, I made the rounds of greeting everybody.
“Hey Pat, how’s Mitch?” I asked one of our oldest wolves.
“He’s fine,” she said, smile quavering, “It’s just that damn broken leg, it’s not mending.”
I hugged her, whispering my condolences as I greeted the others. Once a werewolf starts nearing death, it becomes harder for our bodies to heal as they used to. After Mitch’s heart attack a few months ago, where he had fallen down a flight of stairs, it was getting harder for him to heal. Pat was trying hard to stay strong, even though she knew the signs. I admired her for that.
I finished greeting everyone, noting the absences of some of my Pack, and headed towards the ring of children huddled around the campfire. Talia was in the middle of the circle, letting someone else tell a story.
I began worrying as soon as I saw Talia letting someone else tell her stories. She loved these stories, whether they were true or not, and she would never let anyone else take her spot. I began walking faster, determined to figure out what was wrong with her.
We made eye contact at the same time, my eyes searching her brown eyes for any sign that something was wrong. Her eyes began filling with tears, yet a smile had spread across her face. She was silently ripping up the paper from a plastic bottle, a clear sign that she was worried.
I finally reached her after what felt like centuries, and hugged her tight, feeling her body shaking uncontrollably.
“Baby, what’s wrong?” I asked her, my face in her hair.
She took a deep breath, steadying herself as she reluctantly pulled herself out of my grasp.
“I went to the doctor today,” she began, “and they found something.”
Instantly my head began filling with every terrible thing I could think of. Cancer, flu, the doctors had found out her secret, but she grabbed my head and forced me to look directly at her.
“No, it’s nothing terrible,” she said reading my mind, giving me another tentative smile.
“What is it then?” I asked, fear assuaged for the moment, “What’s so important that you couldn’t wait for me at Joel’s house?”
She took another deep breath and spoke.
What she said I wasn’t ready for.
My whole world exploded in one amazing feeling.
I whooped and hollered, brain stuttering for a few minutes as I picked her up and swung her around.
Everyone turned around, staring at us, muttering about what was going on.
“I’m going to be a dad!” I yelled ecstatically, as everyone in the Pack registered what I had said.
Everyone broke into excited groups, chattering amongst themselves, as the men of the Pack clapped me on the back, congratulating me. The woman came around, hugging me, Talia, both of us at the same time. There was one person my eyes searched for however.
My mother was in front of the fire, hand over her mouth. Her eyes had filled with tears, and for one second, I thought that she wouldn’t approve, would think that we were too young. I opened my mouth to say something, but she rushed over and hugged me.
“I’m so happy for you Josh,” she said, tears streaming down her face, “I’m going to be a granny.”
I laughed and hugged her, and after that she went to go talk to Talia. I stared at Talia, pretty much glowing, the cloud of worry gone. I stared up into the sky, lips giving up a silent thank you to whatever god or goddess was up there. I was going to be a father. Since Talia was a natural born werewolf, having moved here at a young age from Mexico and the Mexican Pack, the baby would also be a werewolf. Chances are that it would inherit my spellcasting abilities too. I would train him or her, running with them, teaching them how to hunt. So lost was I in this possible vision of the future that I didn’t hear Talia walk up behind me, didn’t even sense her through my magic, until she embraced me from behind. I sighed, and turned around.
“I was so scared that you wouldn’t understand --, “she began.
“I am scared,” I said truthfully.
She stiffened, and began to talk again but I kept on going.
“I am scared,” I repeated, placing my hands on her belly, “But this feels right. I’m just wondering how this happened. We used protection.”
“Yeah, but protection isn’t one hundred percent effective,” she said, “Somehow one of them got through.”
“How?” I asked, laughing.
“I don’t know, maybe they have tools,” she also started laughing.
“You caught the Friends marathon last night,” I said, recognizing that line.
“Yeah, but either way it doesn’t matter,” she said, fingers caressing my face, “We’re going to be parents.”
I intertwined my fingers with hers, reimagining our future. I had never thought that I would want the house with the picket fence. Now that it was presented in front of me, it felt as if this was the only thing I had ever wanted. I kissed her again, deeply, pressing my body against hers.
“Whoa whoa whoa,” she said, pushing me back lightly, “I already have one of these in my stomach, let’s wait before we start on another one.”
I let loose a small growl, and when she laughed I picked her up. I carried her over to the campfire, where the rest of the Pack waited.
“Go ahead Alpha,” she said, “Start this meeting.”
I put her down, and bounded to the center.
“Hello everyone!” I said, and I waited a moment while everyone shouted greetings back at me, “Tonight hasn’t even begun, and yet, we still have much to look forward to!”
As everyone howled their assent, I stared at Talia again. She was smiling and crying, and I knew that they were tears of joy. This was the best night ever. Everything was going perfectly.
I was so lost in this euphoria that I never heard the lone vampire that crashed into our clearing.
I recovered from my initial shock quickly, and leapt off the dais quickly. I ran over to Talia, standing in front of her as the vampire smiled at me.
“Hello, mighty Alpha,” he cried in a light British accent, “I, the lowly Arno, have come to send greeting from our esteemed master, the great Camazotz!”
“Who?” I asked.
“The great Camazotz, leader of our kind,” he said, and in one fluid motion pointed to his forehead. The outline of bat wings shone there, blood red ink shining in the campfire.
I had never seen that symbol before. Any vampire that we had dusted had never been marked like that before. I stared into his snake like eyes, and noticed with shock that they weren’t regular colored. His sclera was black, and the irises were a ruby red color.
“Yes wolves,” he said sauntering around the fire, “You have never seen one of my kind before.”
“What are you?” I asked, staring into his monstrous eyes.
“I am a vampire,” he said, “But of course you already knew this. What I am…is hard to explain.”
“Then get to explaining,” I growled, and I felt some of my Pack mates begin to turn into wolves. I had to keep him busy while they finished their Change.
“Ah, I see that your Pack has begun Changing. It matters not, as a wolf can’t take one of us down,” he threw back his head and laughed, his long grey hair shaking with laughter.
“What are you?” I said, my patience growing thin.
“I am a servant of Camazotz, the great and terrible ruler of the night,” he said slowly, as if I hadn’t heard him the first time.
I had heard enough. I jumped at him, hoping to use my speed to surprise him. I never even saw him move. Next thing I knew, I was slamming into a tree.
“Stop that young master Alpha,” he said, his light voice taking on a dangerous edge, “I wouldn’t want to hurt your lover.”
He had wrapped his hand around Talia’s neck. How long had this thing been watching us? I rose roaring, but froze the minute I saw his hand tighten around her neck.
“One false move, and I snap her pretty neck,” he hissed, eyes slitting even more.
I stayed still, and glanced at Talia. Fear had flooded her eyes, and yet she didn’t make a noise, didn’t let him know that he had frightened her.
“That’s better,” he said, nostrils flaring slightly, “And what’s this? A pregnant she-wolf? This just gets better and better.”
His free hand had inched down towards her stomach, and I let loose a small growl. Talia stared at me, warning in her eyes. One bad decision and she would be dead.
“What are you?” I asked again, my body shaking from uncontrollable rage.
“Ah yes. As I was saying, I am not a normal vampire. I have drank the blood of a god, and he has drank mine. As you know, vampires come into being either through birth with a human vampire mother or through drinking the blood of another human vampire, and yet, I have done neither.”
His red+ eyes caught mine, and I swear I saw the black sclera take over.
I saw him stab Talia. I screamed in anguish.
“There see,” I heard his voice.
I heard Talia’s voice as she screamed my name, and I realized that I was on the floor. Talia was in front of me, her body whole and uninjured. I stared at her, wondering what on earth had just happened.
“It was an illusion, young Alpha,” I heard the vampire speak again, “One that I can play over and over again in your head until your mind is nothing but a rotted smoking shell.”
No vampire had skills like that. They had speed, strength, and were immortal unless their heart was stabbed with wood or they met the sun. They couldn’t create illusions like that. I picked myself up off the ground.
“Now as for the reason as to why I’m here,” he said, pushing Talia back into the crowd of mostly turned wolves, “is to present you with big news.”
“You have all been chosen as sacrifices!” he exclaimed, facing my Pack, “The Boston werewolves have always been the most troublesome, what with all of your intervening and killing of vampires.”
I laughed, and he turned around to face me.
“And what, pray tell, is so amusing,” he snapped.
“You think you can take us all on,” I said chuckling, even though there was no humor in my voice, “Do you really think that you can take us all?”
“I don’t,” he said, grinning and revealing two wickedly sharp fangs, “But all of my comrades do.”
And that’s when I heard it. The patter of many feet approaching this location. The others heard it to, as I heard growls and chuffs as they positioned themselves, ready to fight.
“This is the end of your Pack, Alpha,” Arno said as he floated to the top of a tree branch, “It is a bit sad really. One month as the Alpha, and you have already failed miserably.”
The remark about my time as Alpha threw me for a loop more than his ability to float. How did he know how long I had been Alpha?
I stored that thought for later. My Pack was under siege. We had to win.
My Pack raced into the woods, intent on stopping the other vampires before they reached the camp site.
I just hoped that it was enough to stop them.
I hoped that I was strong enough to save my Pack.