It was that time of year again. The one time of year that I dreaded more than anything. October 31st. My birthday. I know that this should have been a special day. One that we should have been celebrating in style, especially as it was my eighteenth birthday, but this was also a painful reminder that this was the eighteenth anniversary of my mother’s death.
A time of year that became a taboo subject, one that no body other than me acknowledged. Even my father and grandparents ignored today and always had done. I had lived with them since the day I was born. The moment I was born my father left me here. Every year I would light a small candle and sing happy birthday to myself, as no one else was going to. It was a lonely existence, and it hurt, but this is just the way that my life has to be.
I understood that everyone is in pain, I understand that this is a constant reminder of the loss of a wonderful woman, it was a horrible day to celebrate when your hearts are full of grief and loss. But I was in pain too, and no one seemed to care, not one bit.
My mother was never spoken about. No matter how many questions I asked, no matter how much I pleaded with my grandparents to tell me anything about her, I got shut down immediately. The only two things that I knew about her was that she died a couple of hours after my birth, and that her name was Molly.
My two older brothers weren’t left like me. They went with my father back to the mansion. I guess that was because they didn’t bring painful memories every time my father looked at them like I did, they were the ones full of happy reminders. A time when their lives were perfect and complete. My two older brothers, Charlie and Eddie, were the apple of our fathers’ eye. He literally couldn’t be any more proud of them. Eddie; the youngest of my two siblings, was the only family member that liked me. He was never mean to me, and his eyes weren’t full of hate and loathing when he looked at me. We would always laugh and joke together, and he was the only one that took the time to find out about how I was doing. But this time with Eddie was rare, I only got to see them once a year.
Charlie the oldest, was a whole other kettle of fish; he hated me. He blamed me for our mother’s death and made sure that I knew about it. He once told me he wished it was me that had died all those years ago; I was only seven years old at the time. I grew up thinking he was right, and the pain of his words never went away. I started believing that maybe it should It have been me, but then again, maybe it shouldn’t have been either of us.
I turned to look in my bedroom mirror for the last time, and caught sight of my red, swollen eyes; all I had done since I woke up was cry; just like I did every year, the redness had emphasized my green eyes, a stark contrast to one another. I gulped down a deep steadying breath and stared at myself for a few more seconds in silence. This was it; this would be the very last time I would stand here, in this room, the room that I had lived in my entire life. After today everything was going to change. I glanced around slowly at my surroundings, taking in the blue paint that had faded over the years, and the white carpet, now yellowing with age and sighed. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was waiting for me beyond these walls, but I knew that it must have been better than this existence that I had been living.
I never needed to worry about packing anything to take with me. All that I had in here was a wardrobe, mirror, a bed and a photograph of my parents and brothers before I “killed” her. I would stare at it for hours, desperately trying to find a similarity to my family, anything at all, but there wasn’t one. I looked nothing like any of them, my mother had red hair and brown eyes. My father and brothers are naturally tanned, and they are all tall. My dad has long blonde, nearly white hair and Icy Blue eyes, he is 6ft 4 and is built like a brick shithouse; a phrase that my grandad liked to use whenever he spoke about his son. My brothers have my dad’s build, Charlie looking nearly identical to my father, except with our mum’s brown eyes and Eddie who was the spitting image of my mother had my dad’s icy blue eyes. And then there’s me? 5ft; and a half, my hair is dark brown, and my eyes are an Olive-green and skin so pale that I could give snow white a run for her money.
I gulped down a deep breath, trying my harder to compose myself. This was something that required my full attention. There was no time for me to sit here, allowing the sadness of today consume me. I smiled softly to myself and looked at my reflection once more.
‘Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to meeee, happy birthday to me’ I whispered getting my white converses on. I was getting ready to go for a walk, a walk that was normally forbidden because I was never allowed to leave the house. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going to go. If I was honest, I didn’t even know where in the world I was, other than England, but all I did know was that I was going to walk and walk, and never turn back. I chose this day because now I am officially an adult. That means that technically I don’t have to answer to anyone other than myself.
My life was all one big mess, I was never allowed to leave the little cottage that I lived in unless it was with my father and that was only once a year a few days before my birthday. My grandmother who was a strict woman had home schooled me, teaching me all the ways of pack life as well as other lessons that I was going to need in life; not that I ever got to put that in practice. I was made to study for hours at a time, with no breaks in between, and she would test me on subjects over and over until I got the answers to her questions correct; if I didn’t, I would get hit with her slipper. My grandfather was a silent man, I could see the sympathy in his eyes whenever he looked at me, but he never said a word to defend me. Was this because he just wanted a more peaceful life? Or was this because he truly didn’t care? Either wat, I suffered a lonely and painful life and I was desperate for an escape.
I crept down the wooden staircase, taking care to avoid the steps that would creak when my watch let out a single beep. It was 7am, my grandparents wouldn’t have been up for another half an hour, I had a 50 minutes head start before anyone would come looking and I planned to not waste any time. I stepped out into the cold October air and felt the bitter winds blow across my skin. Although I was still yet to have my first shift, luckily, I still had the werewolf’s tolerance to cold temperatures. I drew in a deep ragged breath, feeling the sting on my lungs and my cheeks turn cold and smiled.
‘Freedom at last’ I whispered to myself, noticing as my breath clouded the air before my eyes. I glanced up at the front window of the small two-bedroom cottage; my grandparent’s curtains were still closed, that means that I still had time to use the cover of the dim dawn to make my escape. I quietly hurried down the cobble stone path and carefully opened the small white gate, praying that all the rain we had had lately hadn’t turned the hinges rusty; I was in luck, it opened silently. My lungs suddenly burned as I realised that I had been holding my breath and exhaled closing the gate silently as I stepped through. I stood for a moment unmoving, fear rippling through me, this was the furthest I had ever made it on my own, and I fear of someone out there in the dense woodlands watching me prickled at the back of my neck. I waited a few seconds more, then I ran.
Straight ahead from the cottage was a dirt path which led down to a field that stretched as far as the eye could see, which was always filled with beautiful wild horses. I used to admire them from my bedroom window, watching the way they would gallop around. I always believed them to be such beautiful animals. I always dreamt of owning my own horse, wished that a rich man would imprint on me and buy me stables of them. But then, the fact that all animals hated werewolves being too close to them was another reason that I knew that that dream would never be fulfilled.
Although I am a werewolf, deep down I knew that horses were my spirit animals. To me they represented freedom without restraint; basically, everything I did not have. They would travel for hours and go on for miles, going as far as they dared to go; that’s exactly what I wanted to do. No, what I needed to do. Living in the middle of nowhere was going to become a challenge for me though, other than a field which backed onto a woodland, all there was, was a road. A road that was rarely ever used. Running down the road was too risky; I would almost certainly be seen. I needed to get across the other side of the field and into the woods. That wasn’t a problem, but getting there quickly, was where my problems lay.
I slowly inched forward, stepping out onto the dirt path, holding my breath and listening for any unseen threats that may have been lurking around the dense woodlands surrounding me. After a few moments pause, I released my energy, pushing forward, one foot after the other, refusing to stop or even glance back. I knew that the sound of my feet hitting the dirt was enough to alert any werewolves nearby, but I prayed that if my grandparents were woken by the sound, they would be too dazed to rush out after me.
I got to the large iron gate that separated my grandparents land from the fields and leapt over it in one smooth action; surprising myself at my agility. I landed on the balls of my feet and rolled forward, before springing back up to my feet and dashing through the field. I wasn’t sure how long I had been running for, but allowed myself to glance back, watching as the small cottage grew further away with every step that I took. I continued looking back, watching as it got smaller and smaller, until I couldn’t see through the windows any longer. However, I knew that if anyone was to look out of one, then they would see me.
I hadn’t even got halfway, and I was exhausted, my heart was racing, and I was out of breath, if I could have shifted into a wolf at that moment, I would have. But I had never shifted, I was never allowed to, every time I asked, I was always told I had to be 18 and I had to have had my first period. Normally female werewolves don’t bleed until they turn 18, but I had been having periods since I was 12, it was all so confusing for me. There were still so many questions that had been left unanswered that I had begun to wonder if maybe my family were as confused as me. I just assumed they were making everything up so that I didn’t shift. Perhaps they thought that once I knew how to I would try to escape. I giggled to myself, oh the irony.
I could feel my momentum slowing and my legs had begun to throb. I wasn’t used to this much physical activity. My calves hurt and my throat was dry. I slowed my pace and glanced around at the wild horses surrounding me. Although I wasn’t within arm’s reach of them, I was shocked that they seemed to be unphased by my presence; I remember looking out of my bedroom window one full moon as my pack family had gone out on a hunt. The moment that they were within a mile of the beautiful creatures, they bolted. And the same was said of when they were in their human form. These horses didn’t seem to be bothered when I walked past or near them, which was surprising. I tried to keep my distance as I didn’t want to panic them, not only did I not want to scare these beautiful creatures, I didn’t need them to make enough noise to alert the entire pack that I was attempting to escape.
One horse caught my eye, and apparently, I had caught hers too. She was beautiful, her mane was a silvery grey that appeared to glisten in the morning sunlight, but her coat was ice white, she looked into my eyes and started walking towards me. I didn’t feel scared of her and was thrilled that she never seemed to fear me either. There was something special about her, something different. She made me feel calm. She stopped right in front of me and gently nudged my head with her beautiful face, nuzzling into me softly, while exhaling through her nose softly. Slowly I placed my hand on her nose and started stroking her.
‘You are such a pretty girl’ I whispered, smiling as unshed tears stung my eyes. She knelt herself down and moved her head to the side, gesturing for me to climb up on her back. But I was scared. What if I was getting this all wrong and she threw me off? I would have a broken back and be stuck back where I started, and not to mention a majorly pissed off father. I thought about it for a second and decided the latter would be a lot worse to deal with ‘Okay, here it goes’ I said in an unsure tone.
I slowly climbed up onto her and felt as she waited for me to be seated properly before lifting herself back up and shifted slightly under my weight. We both stood motionless for a second and then she was off, galloping towards the woods.
‘So, you are a clever girl too?’ I asked grinning, I knew this horse could understand me; I didn’t know how I knew; I just did. I put my arms around her neck and allowed myself to slip into my daydream. I thought about keeping this horse and owning my own little cottage away from everyone, free from the prison that my family had made for me. Free from the laws of the pack. We could go on long rides and camp out under the stars in the middle of nowhere, and then I could just enjoy mother nature and all of her beautiful creations. My Pretty Girl by my side through it all.
The horse; or Pretty Girl as I had decided to name her, picked up speed as soon as we were closing in on the woods. I held my breath as the shadow made by the canopy of the trees engulfed me, the scent of the damp musky wood filling my nostrils. I looked at my watch, it was now 7:33am. My grandparents would have just woken up as they did every morning for as long as I could remember. They wouldn’t notice I was gone for another 12 minutes, 7:45 was always when my grandfather would get me out of bed to shower and eat before I would either do schoolwork or chores. I was just so glad I was away from the life of being a prisoner. I closed my eyes and tightened my grip slightly around Pretty Girls neck, feeling the soothing warmth of her body radiate through me, as the rhythmic thudding of her hooves resounded around the wood like a lullaby.
It had felt like we had been riding for ages, but Pretty Girl seemed to be determined to keep going; and it seemed that she knew the direction she wanted to take me, like she had done this run many times before. I didn’t care where we ended up, as long as it wasn’t back home. I didn’t care where we went, what direction, or how far. I looked at my watch it was now 8:59am. How had I been riding on her back for nearly an hour and a half? Where had the time gone? I leant back slightly and looked around at our surroundings. I had no clue as to where we were, and all directions appeared to look the same. I glanced down at my horse and gently stroked my hand down her mane.
‘Do you need a bit of a rest pretty girl?’ I asked, as she slowed down slightly. She snorted and looked around, but still trotted forward slowly. Her muscles tensed under my palm and I knew instantly that she was becoming anxious.
‘What is it girl?’ I asked softly; stroking her mane, as fear slowly began crawling up my spine. We both froze; behind us a twig snapped and instead of assuming it was another wild animal, like any normal person would do, I had become a paranoid wreck. Fuck! they have found me! I panicked, thinking my grandfather had raised the alarm. I turned my head towards the direction of the snapping twigs just as a light brown wolf slowly made its way from the shadows and slowly began walking towards us, snarling.
‘Run’ I cried, gently jabbing Pretty Girl’s sides with my heels. The horse started running as fast as she could; which was hell of a lot faster than I thought possible. I was struggling hold on to her, but I wasn’t ready to die. I didn’t need to look behind us to know whether the wolf was giving chase or not.
I could hear it panting and snarling behind us. I knew horses could run for miles, but she hadn’t even had any water and I knew she was thirsty and that she needed a rest. We were not going to outrun it, but she ran as fast as she possibly could refusing to give up.
‘Today isn’t the day we die’ I called to her, hoping that my words would ease her panic. She turned her head slightly and picked up even more speed. But the wolf did also. I could see it closing in on us from the corner of my eye. Moving at speeds that would go unnoticed to any mere mortal. I turned my head to face it just as it leapt towards Pretty Girls flanks with its jaws wide open, saliva dripping from its razor-sharp teeth. I closed my eyes and allowed instinct to take over, kicking my right leg out, and catching it in the throat before he had a chance to reach my horse.
The wolf let out a frustrated snarl, catching itself before it hit the ground and taking off after us once more. I shook my head looking at Pretty Girl once more; it wasn’t fair to put this innocent animal in danger, I needed to get off without having her stop. I looked up straight ahead and noticed a tree which had started tilting, thick branches still securely attached sloped over to the left, the side we were heading for. I slowly loosened my grip on the horse and raised my hands above my head, just as the branch passed over us. The forced my palms hit the rough bark caused me to cry out as it bit into my flesh, but I closed my fingers around the branch and felt as I was yanked from Pretty girl. I noticed her hesitate slightly as I came off of her and shouted to her
‘Keep going! Don’t stop!’ She had already got me further than I could have got myself. I knew the wolf that was behind me was a werewolf, I hoped it would shift into human form and leave the horse alone. I tightened my grip on the tree’s thick branch and swung my legs forward pushing my feet onto the tree’s trunk, hoping to be able to pull myself up higher into the tree.
I could hear the gallops getting quieter as the top of the horse’s head disappeared through the trees. I didn’t need to look down to know that the wolf wasn’t following her, I could hear it snarling and jumping up at the tree, snapping its jaws in attempt to reach me. I pulled myself up onto another branch until I reached one that could take my weight. I looked down. I didn’t recognise this wolf, and its scent didn’t seem to be from one of ours back at the mansion.
‘Shift and I will talk’ I screamed; my whole body was shaking. I had never been this scared in my whole life. The wolf was banging into the tree repeatedly trying with all his strength to knock me down. I was losing balance and could feel myself slipping. ‘Please, stop’ I begged trying so hard to hold on. I glanced down to my right to see if the tree had a hollow hole that I could put my foot into, but it was too late. The branch I was on snapped, causing me to drop down onto the ground below. The second my feet hit the ground my ankle gave out a sickening crack, and red-hot pain radiated through my ankle, causing me to feel sick. This was it. My life was over.
I turned back to look at the light brown wolf, who was now slowly inching closer to me, it had a look on its face that said it was enjoying causing me fear. Tears stung my eyes, but I refused to show this beast that it was scaring me. If I was going to die, then I was going to die with dignity. I turned my face to stare deep into the wolf’s black eyes, clenching my teeth in anger. I drew in a deep breath, attempting to stand when out of the corner of my eye, a black wolf pounced, leaping over my head and hitting the light brown wolf with a thud. I let out a small gasp and scurried backwards, watching as the two started fighting.
I’m dead I thought, trying not to cry. I just wanted to get away and now two wolves are fighting over who will kill me first. I struggled to my feet and attempted to put weight on my ankle, but it was no use, the pain caused my to cry out. At my cries, the black wolf glanced over to me, a strange look in its eyes. But apparently that was the opportunity that the other needed. It leapt forward and clamped its jaws down around the black wolfs neck, throwing it over its shoulder like it was nothing more than twig. I scurried backwards, dragging my injured foot, reaching out for anything to hold on to. Just as the wolf pounced, the sound of galloping hooves filled my ears and a flash of brilliant white blurred across my vision. Pretty Girl!
‘Oh my gosh’ I squealed my eyes widening as tears fell from them freely. ‘You came back?’ I watched as the horse reared up on its hind legs, before spinning around and kicking the brown wolf in the face. The sound of cracking bones sang out around the stillness of the forest, as the wolf fell backwards, skidding across the dirt. I watched in awe for a moment, holding my breath and praying that it wasn’t getting up again. And it didn’t. At that moment all the tension that I had been holding left my body, causing my to topple over, I felt I had been saved by an angel and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Pretty Girl moved with speeds that didn’t seem possible for a wild horse, catching me. In one swift movement, she flipped me up, causing me to land on her back softly.
Pretty took off once again, galloping through the wilderness, taking me further away from the danger that I had been in. And just for a moment, I found myself imagining what it would be like to be happy, me and my wild horse on our own, roaming around the English wilderness, away from the all the secrets that plagued me my entire life. But my joy was shortly outlived. I could hear the thumps of someone or something running behind us, the panting seemed to be getting closer.
‘Oh no, no, no, no.’ I cried turning my head to look behind us. It wasn’t the brown wolf though; this time it was the black one. Why could I not just run away in peace? Why was everyone so hellbent on getting in my way? He was faster than the last wolf, but Pretty girl wasn’t about to give in to him. I didn’t think she could run any faster, but she did. I noticed this wolf wasn’t growling, or snarling like the other, this one was just chasing us.
I turned my head to look at him once again, he was the deepest of blacks and one of the biggest werewolves I had ever seen.
‘Shift’ I shouted but he wouldn’t. I didn’t know what to do, I had never been in a situation like this before, I knew he would chase us until the horse got tired. And I wasn’t sure how much further Pretty Girl would be able to go.
‘Pretty girl, slow down’ I called softly, as I leant my head down towards her neck, but she didn’t hear me, she just carried on running, she wasn’t going to slow down anytime soon. I pushed myself back up, sitting up a little straighter when a sharp pain throbbed across my forehead causing me to be wrenched from the horses back once again. I landed on my back, smacking my head as I dropped onto the hard dirt. I screamed in pain and could feel the warmth of blood as it started running down my face. This is it, I thought staring up at the grey sky, this was the end, this was how I was going to die.
I silently started to weep, stifling back sobs, maybe everyone was right, I should have never left the house. Everyone had wished that it was me that had died instead of my mother, and now it looked as though they were finally getting their wish.
I watched in fear as the black wolf towered over me, the edges of my vision darkening.
‘Please no’ I whimpered, starting to feel dizzy. I was waiting for his big jaws to clamp down on my throat, but he just leant his face forward, inching it closer to mine. I looked up at him and stared into the beautiful golden-brown eyes I had ever seen; on man or beast, and they were warm, not menacing at all. He nudged me in the face lightly, sniffing at the blood as it dripped down onto the dirt. I tried to open my mouth to speak, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I gave in to the darkness. And then everything went black.
Hello everyone! Thank you for reading the first chapter of Book one: Shadowed from the Dark Moon Rising Trilogy.
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