The limo drives past the entrance of the Royal Pack grounds. We were prohibited as kids to go out of the pack grounds for fear of rogues. I can hear our customary practice music blasting in the distance & the faint sound of police sirens going off somewhere nearby. Still, as we leave the pack grounds, we enter a whole new world, where I can only see dilapidated buildings with windows that are either shattered or covered in scratch marks from the war days. Graffiti now covers almost every scratch mark; billboards, benches, traffic signs. We pass a woman, and she looked like an old maid of the pack, who we thought had gone crazy after the war, pushing a shopping cart filled with cardboards and ratty blankets. Her hair is full of knots, and it looks like she hasn’t showered in weeks.
“What are we doing outside the pack grounds?” I ask my father.
A hint of a smile appears on his face. “You’ll see.”
I hate it when he smiles. When other people smile, it means they’re happy. But when my father smiles, it’s either because he’s in public and has to comply as we are one of the most respected & feared Elder Family, or it means something terrible will happen. Since I’m the only person in the back of the limo, there’s no need for him to smile, which means that something terrible will happen.
My stomach knots, and my muscles tense. I don’t know what he’s planning to do, but he got me here for a reason. And I know it’s not good. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I can hear the tiny voice of my terrified wolf. You see, we werewolves get our wolves at the age of 17, but we start hearing them a year prior.
I look at him sitting across from me, and my wolf takes over, demanding my father, “Tell me why we’re here.”
My father remains calm and unfazed by my wolf’s demanding voice, and he points outside the window. “You see those humans? The three men and the woman?” He’s pointing to some homeless humans, dressed in torn clothes, their skin sweaty from the heat and humidity. The woman and the three men are talking closely, likely doing some kind of an illegal deal.
“What about them?” my wolf and I are puzzled.
His eyes change color from golden to black, showing disgust in them. “They’re the dregs of society. The remnants that are trying to bring our kind down. Taking up space and resources that are rightfully ours. Straining the economy by their dependence indirectly on the government.” His gaze returns to me. “And yet they serve us a purpose. They allow animals like us, look good in the eyes of the masses. We donate money to the homeless, fund some employment programs, and host charity events. In return, these measly humans put us on a pedestal for our good deeds.”
My wolf and I get more nervous as he talks; my wolf tells me that something’s about to happen, something terrible. “Father, please, tell me, what are we doing here? Just tell me.” I beg.
We stop at a crossing, and he looks over to a homeless man carrying some kind of a backpack, trying to cross the street. My father’s smile suddenly turns more sinister, and he says, “They serve us another purpose as well, one that I’m about to show you.”
I become restless. “Father,” I plead, “I wanna go home. Can we get out of here?”.
His eyes turn more sinister; if that was even possible, he looks at me and says, “We will.” His eyes return to the man crossing the street. “But first, we must complete our mission.”
He says. I look at him scared, my heart almost in my throat, pumping faster each passing moment, making me grip my seat even tighter. I asked him worriedly, “Which is what?”.
I guess the panic in my tone was very evident, which made my father look at me and say, “Relax, son. It will get easier with time.”
I am stunned to the core, fear gripping me more. I ask, “What gets easier? Please, just tell me, what are we doing here? I have always been told not to cross the pack lines, and now that I am here, I know why mother used to keep me away.”
My father ignores my question, reaches the glass that separates us from the driver, and lightly taps it. The limo slows down as we pass a homeless shelter. It’s evening, and people are lining up out in front of some food stalls. Our driver makes a right-hand turn down an alley. And then he stops but leaves the limo running.
“It’s time, Cole.” My father looks at me with a full smile, but his eyes turn black, meaning his wolf is taking over. I watch him get out of the limo and turn into his magnificent brown wolf. I can hear my heartbeat louder with each passing minute, fear creeping at the back of my neck.
“Father, please, why are you doing this?” I whisper, knowing that his wolf hearing had heard me.
My father just shrugs off my question and proceeds to a man with his back to us, building a small stall which may be his house. His hair is in different directions, and he has some tattered jeans splattered with mud and perhaps blood and a dingy sweater covered in stains. My eyes go back to my father and see that he has taken his attacking stance.
And then, as if in slow motion, I watch my father pounce on the man.
“No!” I heard myself yell, but it was too late.
He had already leaped, and in one swift move, he had twisted the man’s neck. I see the man now crumpled to the ground.
The horrifying view slowly disappears as my father shifts back and enters the car. I feel numbness spread through my body when the limo pulls away. I slowly turn to look at the monster I call my father while he is casually pouring himself a glass of scotch as if all this never happened.
He looks at me, the sinister smile still on his face, he said. “That, my son, is what it means to be a Royal.”