If you go out into the woods today, you are in for a surprise….
Eric was enjoying the burn in his leg muscles as he jogged down the track towards the creek. He normally doesn’t run this late but with the crap that was going on at work, he needed to release some tension. He slowed slightly at the tight turn coming up, it was so easy to run into someone or trip on the rocks around the track. Just as he rounded the corner there was a flash of black and next, he was on the ground holding his leg in agony. Looking down he could see a lot of blood around a mark on his leg. From this mark, a burning pain radiated throughout his body. Clenching his teeth in pain, Eric pulled his shirt off and wrapped it around his leg. Eric grabbed his phone, turned on the torch, he shone it around to see if he could see what attacked him.
After seeing nothing, he struggled to his feet, the pain in his leg was becoming quite intense now, he just hoped he was able to make it home. Turning back up the track, he quickly hobbled back, trying to ignore the pain in his leg. Once he got closer to the end of the track, he rand his housekeeper, Mrs Pan, her husband would still be up and able to come and get him. The pain was becoming quite intense now and he wasn’t going to be able to hold himself up for much longer. He pressed the number for the house, on the second ring, Mrs Pan answered.
“Mrs Pan, could you get Allan to meet me at the track entrance, I have had an accident,” Eric told her quite briskly as he clenched his teeth through another wave of pain.
“Certainly sir,” Mrs Pan said as she quickly passed the message onto her husband. “He is walking out the door now,” she said as another wave of pain went through Eric causing him to groan through clenched teeth. “Eric, sir, are you, all right?” she questioned.
“I don’t know Mrs Pan,” Eric told her between breaths, “I saw a flash of black, which knocked me over and now I am in a lot of pain,” he gasped out as he doubled over. “My skin feels like its crawling and my blood is on fire,” Eric falls to the ground beside the road for he has no strength left in his legs.
“Hold on Mr Eric, Allan will be there shortly,” Mrs Pan exclaimed over the phone. “We will have you home very quickly sir.”
Eric could barely hear her due to the roar going on within his head, in all honesty, it sounded like a dog snarling. Another wave goes through his body this time his joints began to ache, he looked down at his legs just to make sure they weren’t on fire for it felt like they were sitting in one. Breathing through the pain was now beginning to sound funny, almost like a dog panting, he would have laughed if it wasn’t so painful. Suddenly he roared as the pain went up another notch, just as lights flashed across him, his eyes were half-closed, and he could vaguely see Allan rush over to him.
“Sir, it’s Allan, let’s get you in the car,” Allan said his body shook with shock at seeing Mr Eric like this.
Eric made a growl/groan as Allan helped him stand and then guided him to the car, Allan frowned at the sound but let it go for he was more concerned in getting Eric home. Once Eric was settled in the car, Allan quickly moved around to the driver’s side and got in, he quickly put the car in gear and took off to Eric’s house, his wife would know what to do.
Throughout the whole trip, Eric could feel his muscles tensing and contracting, which in turn would cause him to groan, and at times it sounded like was whining but he was too out of it to realize. Allan brought the car around to the back of the house, pulling in as close to the back door as possible. Jumping out he called to his wife to help him with Eric.
“Celia,” he called as he opened the door to where Eric was laying back against the seat.
“How is he?” she asked after opening the back door and stepping out.
“Eric’s not well, he’s running a fever and has blood on his leg,” he explained as he moved Eric’s legs, which caused Eric to growl at the pain it caused him.
Celia gasped, “Did he just growl?” she asked her husband in surprise.
“Yes, he has been doing this since I picked him up,” Allan told her. “Could you help me stand him up, so we can get him into the house.”
“Okay,” she said in a shaky voice as she moved to assist her husband.
As they both helped Eric out of the car and into the house, Eric was growling at the movement for it was causing more pain.
“Place him in the bottom spare room,” Celia said as they walked out of the kitchen into the hall, then moving to the back-spare room, where they placed him on the bed.
“While I get some warm water to clean Eric up, can you take off his pants and shirt, please,” Celia asked her husband she quickly moved out of the room and into the kitchen. While getting the warm water, she grabbed a change of clean clothes out of the laundry. Picking up the bowl and a washcloth, she quickly walked back to the bedroom.
Walking in she could see that her husband was able to get Mr Eric’s clothes off while leaving his boxer shorts on. Moving over to the bed, Celia placed the bowl of water on the bedside table and placed the cloth into the bowl of water, squeezing it out, she then wiped Eric’s forehead, hoping it would help his temperature. She then moved down to the blood on his leg, taking another cloth from the bowl, she gently wiped the blood away from his wound, she gasped and looked at her husband.
“Does that look like a bite mark to you?” she asked him as she continued to clean around the wound.
Allan looked at her in surprise, before looking back to the injury on Eric’s leg, he nodded, “Yes, it does.”
“Damn, grandma was right,” Celia whispered out aloud.
“Pardon,” asked Allan trying to work out where the conversation was going.
“My grandmother was telling the truth,” Celia said as she went back to cleaning Eric’s leg. “Mum called her batty whenever it was mentioned or she when she told the story to us kids.”
“What story was that?” Allan asked her as he watched his boss move around the bed in pain.
“The story of the werewolf, that lives around here of course,” she said to him, making him look away quickly to her in shock, Celia made sure she kept her face straight as the story was quite true.
“Werewolf,” Allan asked before looking back at Eric, now that it was said and out in the open the noises Eric were making did sound like an animal.
“Yes Allan, a werewolf. Grandmother Clara was always telling us not to be out in the woods at dusk. Always be with someone, never alone, she would also quote:
Stay in the light,
Stay on the path,
If you’re out late at night,
You’re in for a fight,
For the wolf is out tonight.
“You’re in for a fight? What did she mean by that?” Allan asked as they continued to watch Eric.
“Well, the story goes that a young nobleman was out walking late one evening, in these very woods, when out of nowhere a very large wolf jumps out onto the path in front of him. He stopped and looked at the animal, not sure in what to do, he took a step back away from the animal, but it began to growl. He paused again but the wolf continued to growl, he brought up his hands to try and show the animal he meant no harm. Suddenly the wolf leapt forward, bit him on the arm before bouncing off into the woods, never to be seen again,” Celia placed the washcloth back in the bowl of water while standing beside the bed looking down at Eric.
“But what does this have to do with Eric?” Allan asked his wife, slightly confused over the story.
“The nobleman became very sick afterwards, running a high temperature, groaning and growling like an animal. He then began sprouting coarse hair over his body, along with his joints becoming painful,” Celia paused when Eric let out a low howl as his body contracted in pain.
“Surely you’re not thinking that this is what is happening now?” Allan asked Celia in surprise.
“I have a feeling, that is exactly what is happening here,” Celia told him point blankly. “Eric was out in the woods tonight and was bitten by the wolf. We can only hope that Eric makes it through the change,” she added gently, “the next few hours are going to be rough for everyone,” she told him as she wiped her hands on the towel that Allan had gotten.
Allan stood there watching her when he suddenly thought and then asked, “Are we going to be safe?”
“I’m not sure,” Celia told him honestly. “I’m hoping that with us staying with him that his wolf won’t hurt us.”
“Okay, I’m going to quickly lock up and then come back,” Allan told her as he began to move towards the door.
“Okay honey just does not be gone for too long, for I’m going to need you here soon,” Celia told him as she watched Eric. She began humming a song, one of her favourites, from Beauty and The Beast soundtrack, that she still enjoys watching to this very day.
She glanced at Eric’s face as she wiped down his chest with another cloth, noticing his eyes open she said, “You need to get through the change, don’t fight it,” she told him quickly. “If you hear a voice or see a wolf talk to him, accept him, it will make things easier for you.”
“How,” Eric asked on a groan as the pain started to come back.
“A story from my grandmother, I’ll explain later, just go with your pain,” she quickly told him as he growled out another painful growl.
Eric didn’t know what was happening, but the pain was intense. Ride it out, she said, how do I ride it out?
‘Imagine you’re on a rollercoaster,’ came a voice within.
‘Who are you?’ Eric asked, a frown forming before he remembered what Celia said to him, ‘Are you my wolf?’
‘Yes, I’m a wolf, I don’t have a name yet,’ he told Eric. ‘You need to prepare, the next bit is going to be the hardest for as you are going to turn into a wolf, it would be wise to get on the floor,’ his wolf told him.
Eric groaned because he had to move, he groaned again as he tried to do it himself but couldn’t. He forced his eyes back open, Celia was still there, “Need to get to the floor,” he stuttered out, “Wolf spoke to me,” he got out as his muscles clenched and relaxed and then clenched again.
“Allan,” Celia called out as she quickly moved things out of the way, just as Allan came through the door.
“What’s up?” he asked looking at Eric on the bed as he walked over.
“We need to get him on the floor,” Celia told him, “hurry.”
Allan reached down and picked Eric up with a grunt, “Where do you want him?” he asked as he turned around and faced her.
“Just here,” Celia pointed to the floor just in front of him.
Allan gently placed Eric down on the floor, cringing at the pain that it caused Eric, after releasing him, Allan stepped back, giving him room.
Eric groaned out, “It’s time,” as a wave of pain went through his body. Allan and Celia stood back and watched, hearts racing, one with fear, the other with concern.
Allan gasped as the hair came out across Eric’s body, as they continued to watch Eric’s hands changed into paws, with his feet changing next. Suddenly Eric hunched over, as they watched they could hear his bones crack and move into another position until suddenly a huge black wolf was laying on the floor instead of Eric.
“Holy cow, he’s a beast,” whispered Allan in awe as they watched the wolf blink open his eyes, to take in the room. Celia got down to her knees, pulling Allan down with her, while the wolf watched.
“I don’t know if you can understand me,” Celia said to the wolf, “we are Allan and Celia Potts and we look after Eric, your human form,” Celia said to him in hopes to reach him.
“I know who you are?” wolf told them, causing them to gasp upon hearing his gruff voice in their head. “Eric is talking to me as we speak.”
“Is there anything we can do for you?” Celia asked as she watched the wolf move to stand up for the first time.
“At the moment no, I just need to stand and move around for a little while before I let Eric come back,” wolf told them.
“Would you mind if I touch you?” Allan asked, finally starting to come out of his stupa.
“You may,” wolf told them as he sat back down, due to his legs feeling shaky.
Allan attentively reached out and ran his hand down Wolf’s back, “Wow,” he whispered lost in the feel of wolf’s fur against his hand. “Celia it’s so soft,” he told her as he placed his other hand on the wolf.
Celia gently reached out and rubbed Wolf’s ear next moment Wolf is leaning his head into her hand, Celia chuckled, “I think I found your sweet spot,” she said to him as he soaked up their attention, he could see that these people are going to be good to him as they are to Eric.
“Tomorrow night I will go for a short run to stretch my legs and to keep our muscle tone,” Wolf told Eric as Allan and Celia patted him. “Just so you know this is a one-off thing", Wolf told them, “I’m a wolf, not a damn dog,” he huffed out, which caused both Allan and Celia to chuckle.
“But you are such a gorgeous wolf,” Celia said which in turn help grow then bond of the pack between Celia, Allan, and Beast.