“Read ’em and weep, boys,” Bug throws her head back in goading laughter. Groans resound from around the table as my brothers slam their cards down, another hand lost to the little hustler.
Coconuts, Anthony, and Rhys Not Like the Candy Bar are huddled in front of the big screen that displays their first-person shooter skills... and I snicker every time Keeley kills them. “We’re on the same team,” they keep exclaiming vehemently but she disregards them with another headshot.
“Er! Oof! Da, oof! Er!” Theon pats my head, swaying on his little legs. Drool is glistening off his chin and dripping onto my fur.
I am home.
“He’s barking at me again,” I grumble. My son pulls at my hair, climbing over me very ungracefully before trying to grab onto my wagging tail.
Mastering the mind link was simple, I had that down pat in less than ten minutes. Lina gave me some kind of house metaphor or what the fuck ever... said someone once taught her to mind link using the same technique.
Pretty sure that person was a fucking idiot.
I accepted my age.
Accepted my past.
Accepted that I met Lina when she was just a child and bedded her as a woman (though that was a bit harder to swallow).
I have even accepted my sacrificial death.
Everything made sense and the answers to my questions were easily obtained.
All of that was surprisingly fairly simple.
What is proving more difficult is getting back to my human form. For some goddamn reason, I just can’t do it. So I have been here, on the floor, in this huge game room for almost two hours fucking stuck.
And apparently, also wrong.
From what they’ve told me, I have three separate forms—A human, a lycan, and a wolf and I should only be able to shift in that order consecutively.
The pattern cannot be broken.
But I am Theron and I am learning that my luck is fucking shitty.
I skipped the order of my expected shifts. No lycan appeared. No human body will come back to me.
I am fucking stuck.
Lina, chuckles at my predicament, “He knows his animals.”
Can werewolves roll their eyes? I feel like I just rolled my eyes, “Great. So now I’m just his fucking pet dog.”
She does this half laugh half gasp thing before swatting at me, like I am fucking joking or some shit, “Theron!”
“Lina,” I mock, “If you’re going to scold me, at least do it properly. Yell ‘bad dog,’ like a normal pet owner.”
Will I get a collar?
Do I clean myself like a cat or does someone have to bathe me?
Oh my god, what about fleas?!
I don’t want fleas.
Fuck all, if I have to learn to stomach kibble, I swear I’ll euthanize myself.
At this time, Lina has tears streaming down her face, her laughter preventing her from breathing naturally. I glare, “Are you laughing at me?”
“R-R-Rhys isn’t... isn’t... going t-to... wash your b-b-balls,” she stammers through gasps of air.
Yes. Yes, I did just have that image pop inside my head. Good to know I can mentally send her pics... I may put that in my back pocket for later. But if anyone will be forced to wash me, it’s gonna be that asshole and he better clean me thoroughly—gentle with the balls though, they’re sensitive.
And he would know this if he fucking had any.
“Fuck you, Theron,” he tosses a middle finger in the air never once looking away from the game he’s getting slaughtered in. Ironic timing since Keeley’s character is currently tea bagging the shit out of his dead body.
“Question,” I look at Lina with the tilt of my head, “If we fuck, is that considered beastiality? I mean, I’m willing to explore some shit if you want but I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m not about that type of life, Lina.”
Her laughter dies down to quiet chuckles as she smooshes my face between her hands, “You won’t stay this way forever, you’re just thinking about it too hard... let it come naturally.” She kisses the top of my head and whispers in my ear, “But, I will say, the quicker you change back, the quicker we can get to exploring ‘some shit’...”
I groan at the heat that flares out from my chest and downwards.
And that little red doggy rocket peeks out from my fur...
There’s something seriously wrong with me.
...and also, suddenly the space in front of me.
I squint, watching as the whole area wobbles and twists, distorting the background into nothing more than a warped Van Gough painting. The air crackles and pops, the static pulling my fur and raising my hackles.
I jump up quickly, Theon falling into Lina’s lap... Lina, who has just now noticed the oddity in the room as well. My lip furls, tugging my ears backward and pinning them to my head. A growl reverberates from deep within me, primal and animalistic. Instinct senses that something isn’t right.
Something is coming.
The space wubs like a thin metal sheet, announcing its presence to everyone else in the vicinity. My brothers slowly raise from their seats, alert and cautiously curious about the contorted space in the middle of the room.
And then, we are plunged into darkness—a result of the security system being tripped.
A shrill alarm pierces the silent stupefaction that has blanketed the whole house. The floodlights kick on, bathing us in blood-red hues bringing about a dark sense of foreboding...
But before I can process what is happening, and before I can grasp the cause of the desperation in Lina’s suddenly panicked voice, a strong breeze bristles my fur. It quickly intensifies into nothing short of gale-force winds and it becomes hard to stand... hard to keep my threatening position. Without warning, it shoots outwards, the force throwing everyone across the room.
I hit the wall, the impact splintering the wooden interior. My head is throbbing to the beat of my thumping heart, the pressure compelling the blood to flow back into my stunned and sore muscles. I shake my head, trying to dispel the ringing inside my ears and the dread inside my soul.
I cannot stay here.
I have to get up.
I have to protect my family.
Swiftly scampering back to my feet, my body reacting on sheer will alone, I find myself on the opposite side of a whirlwind barrier. A lady with red hair and violet eyes stares me down from the eye of the vortex... only feet away from Theon.
I don’t know what is happening and I don’t know why but I cannot allow it. Throwing myself into the swirling wall, I try repeatedly to penetrate it. I snap and snarl to no avail. Saliva sprays from my mouth, bouncing off the mini twister and pinging back at my face, much like the hopelessness I keep trying to banish... it just keeps fucking coming back at me.
I am going to lose my son.
“NO,” Lina bawls, staggering to her feet, “MAVINA, DON’T! PLEASE!” Her eyes are pitch black, her body shaking from the upsurge of adrenaline as she calls for Theon. She is screaming, demanding, begging, and pleading with every slap, hit, punch, and kick she sends to the churning hindrance, but it refuses to give.
It refuses us entrance.
All I can do is watch my son’s scrunched face turn from innocent confusion to pure fear. He scrambles back to us, as fast as his little hands and knees will carry him but he doesn’t get far.
His head slams into the gyrating blockade and it takes him a second to realize the implications of what is happening but when he does, I witness it firsthand. Flashes of varying emotions cross his face: disbelief, anger, sadness, and finally terror. He pounds his little fists against the wall, blows for blow with Lina’s. Their hands are only a mere inch from each other and yet, still so far away. Tears fall in waves down his cheeks and he screams a high pitch, ear-piercing wail for his mother.
And still, she can do nothing.
We can do nothing.
And the red-headed bitch knows it.
Her vermilion lips slowly pull back into a sneer, her purple eyes triumphant and scornful. With the wave of her hand, a crying Theon is lifted into the air and drawn into her arms.
The tornado implodes, sucking into itself and taking my son and the purple eyed lady with it.
And that’s it.
Everything is still and silent and deafeningly so... trepidation hovers over us, a blatant reminder of our painful ineptitude.
Lina falls to her knees.
Her shoulders slump, defeated.
She stares at her empty, trembling hands and then everything seems to move slower as if time has lost its momentum.
Her face crumbles and her eyes turn upwards, a wordless prayer sent to the goddess we are all supposed to worship. She inhales deeply at first, trying to calm her nerves and comfort her heart. But as the reality begins to set in and the apprehension takes hold of her, her chest begins to heave...
More shallow breaths.
She is a volcano, preparing to erupt.
And erupt she does.
Her body rears back, pushing forth and out every heartbreaking frustration and fear that the last two years has forced her to bury. Her vocalization is earth shattering, consuming everyone in the room and pulling them into her agony. Her lips round out, circling to form a perfect “O.” And as her scream dies down, it is replaced by something even more haunting, something only a wolf can produce... it changes and morphs, long and bellowed; miserable and mournful. My brothers follow suit, their harmonizing howls accompanying her sorrowful tune and as her pain rises in a crescendo, I join in on the grieving melody.
My son is gone.
And I could not prevent it.