Hell had broken loose of its cage and was ravaging my world before my eyes.
“Asenna!” the voice called to me over the sounds of battle, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from the carnage.
Bodies slammed together, a chaotic clashing of teeth and claws. A wolf pup frantically scrambled through the melee, its pelt now a hurricane of flames. It was rapid-fire and slow-motion all at once.
I caught a glimpse of a soggy, blood-stained teddy bear on the ground a few yards away. I looked up, feeling small and fragile before the behemoth in front of me. A monstrous grey wolf stalked forward, his head held low and his eyes trained on its prey—me. Rain streamed off its pelt like rivers of gold in the firelight. I wanted to move, but the soles of my bare feet remained frozen in place.
More screams. More howling battle cries. The din of combat rang around us, but the grey wolf and I were locked in our own face off. A low growl rumbled from his chest, the sound of it sent an icy web of dread through me. This wolf was no friend of mine.
“Asenna!” The voice had grown crazed and frantic, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from this new enemy.
The grey wolf was gathering himself on his haunches, his claws digging into the mud. It was preparing to pounce. Thick saliva dripped from its jowls as a murderous snarl ripped through the air between us. It lunged. Dark paws armed with razor-like claws were reaching for my face.
My eyes opened with a sharp gasp. I looked around my latest excuse for a home, slowly raising my body. I yawned as I stretched out my back and front legs, letting my claws dig into the soft earth. That’s right. Claws.
It wasn’t that I hated my human form, I just didn’t particularly like it.
I had spent the better part of the last eight years content in my wolf body. Don’t get me wrong, I shifted now and then when circumstance required it- damn urbanization- but I preferred the power that came from my wolf. Not to mention the fact that a girl wandering around with silver hair wasn’t exactly normal in my usual hangouts.
Hangouts. That’s an interesting way to put it. Sure, the constant rotation of woods and mountains were very popular hangouts—at least for lone, nomadic wolves like me. I had never come across another nomad in all my years of solitude, so there must not be too many of us vying for places to hunt and sleep.
Now, before you start in about the whole fairy tale “full moon” phasing nonsense, let me cover some crucial ground rules for you. Yes, there is such a thing as werewolves. We also go by Lycanthropes or Lycans for short—though I’m not opposed to being addressed as “Badass Lycan Goddess” or “All-Powerful She-Wolf.” No, werewolves are not “beholden to the moon” as the fantasy-obsessed humans like to say (take a lycanthrope history course why don’t you?). I am free to shift as I please and it pleases me to remain a wolf. The werewolf vulnerability to both silver and wolfsbane, however, is unfortunately true… at least for most of us. Does that cover our bases? Good. Moving on.
I stepped out of the shady den and into the dim morning light. The air was cool and sweet. Thank the Moon Goddess for fall. I usually travel north into Canada during the summer months and even then, my thick fur was a nightmare.
My ears swiveled around to pick up any noise from the forest around me. Birds singing. Rabbits fidgeting. Squirrels scurrying. Nothing out of the ordinary. I wasn’t hungry yet, so I decided why not check out the area, see what all is going on. I walked through the trees, calmly but quietly. The last thing I needed was for a hunter to sneak up on me. Imagine what your reaction would be if a dead wolf shifted into a human right in front of you… yeah, exactly.
It didn’t take long for me to come to a nearby town. It stank of fatty, greasy humans—granted I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a shower, so I guess I’m not one to talk. My bath time usually consisted of jumping into the nearest creek, lake or pond, but at least I didn’t smell like a vat of frying oil. I sat at the edge of the forest, positioning myself at the peak of a hill that had a good vantage point. Just because I didn’t like being a human, doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy people watching. After all, it was the closest thing to TV for me.
I scratched at my ribs with one of my back paws as cars and pedestrians went on about their business. I rolled my eyes at girls giggling and squealing as they juggled enough shopping bags to clothe the local homeless community, chuckled as a girl threw a coffee in a man’s face, and sneered as a rather robust toddler threw a fit over his now empty candy wrapper. Not to worry though, his doting mother was quick to replace the empty wrapper with a new candy bar.
It was a cute town, I suppose, there wasn’t much to entertain but it was quaint. I looked around for signs of where I could be, but this small town could have been anywhere along the northern Rockies. Ever since I started living as a wolf, I never paid much attention to the names of places. I moved off instinct and took things as they came. Speaking of which, “instinct” was telling me it was time for a bite.
With a shake of my fur, I trotted back into the dense foliage of the forest. I wasn’t quite sure what I was in the mood for, but I opened my senses to my surroundings. My nose raised toward the sky and I breathed in the heavy mixture of scents: pine, dirt, birds, squirrels… ah, there it was. Deer. I followed the scent through the woods, careful not to alert the prey of my approach. The musky odor was growing stronger. I knew I was close.
I crept low to the ground, skirting around the area so I was downwind. Pausing at the top of a rocky outcropping, I saw my target. The deer grazed on the small patches of clover and grass only thirty yards ahead with its back to me. Just as its head shot up in alarm, I sprung from my perch with explosive force. Within a few short bounds, I launched myself onto the hapless creature. My jaws found their way to the animal’s neck, my fangs immediately sinking into the jugular. Hot, sticky blood flooded into my mouth and my wolf was filled with the pride and excitement of the kill.
The average person might find this style of dining unappetizing, to say the least. Seeing as werewolves are, in fact, part wolf, we have a natural predilection for protein. Where a human might be squeamish about bloody meat, my wolf found it delicious. Sure, some werewolves held to a more human style diet, but they didn’t know what they were missing. Besides, when you’re a hungry wolf in the wild, you hunt for your dinner and eat it as it comes.
With the deer still twitching, I straddled it with my four paws and began my awkward waddle to the small cave I had declared “home.” The carcass was more cumbersome than heavy. My wolf form was large and strong, more than capable of carrying heavy loads--thank you genetics, and wilderness living. My stomach was rumbling, and I was ready to get back to the den to enjoy my fresh-caught meal. There was a crashing through the woods that made me jump and drop my bounty. I didn’t even have time to scent the air before a mass of fur barreled into my side and sent me to the ground.