The Walkers

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Bad Moon Rising

The trailer opened on an aerial view of a major metropolis.

"For everyone. There are triggers. Things that can change who we are."

A brief glance of two young lovers kissing on a park bench. "Love."

A young kid fidgeting in a waiting room. "Boredom."

A football team lifting its star quarterback onto their shoulders. "Pride."

"But ..." Cut to a picture of a full moon besieged by ominous clouds.

"What if there was a trigger that could change what you were?"

The full moon turned into an eyeball. "From the mind of P. N. Anil ..."

The human eye shifted into the eye of a wolf. "Bad Moon Rising."

The screen went black.

"Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" the screen asked the audience.

Noah Walker hated to miss the trailers. Most people considered the trailers their last chance to get drinks and snacks from concession before the movie. Or that essential flex-time needed to negotiate surly traffic conditions.

Noah was not most people. The trailers were the keystone of the entire movie-going experience, the first chance to plan any future movie-going. Without the trailers, Noah likely wouldn't know what to go see on a Saturday night.

After nearly getting exsanguinated by a school bully turned undead monster, Noah needed this chance to unwind. Noah walked up to Samantha Hilson and planted a kiss on her face as the walked up to the auditorium entrance.

This visit to the movie theater made Noah more nervous than usual. Noah used to go to the movies with Jason Newton and actually watched the movie. He had never gone for the express purpose of making out with a girl.

As such, Noah chose a movie he wouldn't mind sacrificing to the hormone gods. A rom-com about reporters from two different newspapers falling in love. It was predictable enough not to distract them from their other endeavor.

Walking in on the outdated teaser trailer for Bad Moon Rising sparked memories of his humiliating encounter with the ticket jockey at the box office. Apparently, that minimum-wage pimple factory actually checked IDs.

The employer, whose nametag read "John G." in capital letters, shrugged in a smug semi-awake fashion as Sammy paid for the tickets to their Plan B movie. Noah smirked, cherishing a brief scene of imagined violence in his head.

Noah had a history with rejection. Everything in the entire world required Noah Walker to be bigger, taller, older or more experienced. Only his family (and now Samantha Hilson) consistently found him somewhat acceptable.

As the couple settled into their seats, Noah realized that he might have dodged a bullet back there. Hot Off The Presses would be Grade A stupid but, at least, it wouldn't be pretentious like so many of P. N. Anil's latter works.

Noah Walker loved P. N. Anil's earlier works. His masterful use of the twist ending had Alfred Hitchcock written all over it. Therein lied the flaw. His twist endings became predictable but he just couldn't operate without them.

To his credit, P. N. Anil tried everything to up his game. He tried an adaptation of an animated series. That sucked. He tried copying his earlier works. That sucked even more. Bad Moon Rising was the last hope of a very desperate man.

As far as career-saving attempts went, Bad Moon Rising was not (no pun intended) the silver bullet he had hoped for. The reviews were mostly mixed and the box office took a hit due to his pariah status attached to the project.

To boost publicity for the movie, P. N. Anil gave interviews claiming that Bad Moon Rising was based on a real-life werewolf he had researched for script material. Given Anil's tendency for theatrics, lot of people cried foul.

Done mockumentary style like The Blair Witch Project, the movie Bad Moon Rising followed one night in the life of Remus Wolfe, a werewolf/film student struggling with his condition and tempted by thoughts of suicide.

Due to graphic scenes of the disembowelment of Remus Wolfe's motley film crew and the resulting foul language such deaths incurred, Bad Moon Rising had earned an R rating. Thus barred two sixteen-year-olds from seeing it.

Noah smirked at that thought. If his life had been a movie, he'd probably not be old enough to see it on his own. It had enough bad language and scenes of graphic violence to make the most ardent horror movie buffs recoil in fear.

As the insufferable pop cover of a timeless love song played over the opening credits, Noah admired this happy accident. He had enough horror for one lifetime. If his life was a movie, this would be the time to cut away to a more interesting scene.

Ian Rockwell sliced off Marcos Botero's left ear. In the chaos of the grandiosely-titled Darkside Battle, Marcos had slipped away. He didn't get far before Piotr Chernov and his squeeze Natasha Belova caught up with him.

Bound in consecrated shackles, Marcos looked less like a potential master vampire and more like the prisoner of war that he was. Marcos mumbled under his breath, something about him being able to grow back his left ear.

Still smarting from the loss of his beloved J'Adore, Victor Chirac, Ian's boss' boss, delayed turning the Darkside Club into his new headquarters. He claimed that it had hosted way too many Botero sympathesizers in its time.

Any vampire with half a brain knew that was only half the reason. Victor Chirac had begun plans to restore J'Adore to its former glorly. He'd need a second headquarters until then but he stalled for as long as he could.

Therefore, this sensitive interrogation didn't take place inside a heavily-guarded compound. Instead, Parker Evans had rented a room at a seedy motel and had a human servant install a set of vampire-proof shackles in one corner.

Ian had swallowed a lot of Noah Walker's blood. He had remembered Parker Evans mentioning something about shifter blood being poisonous. He hadn't clarified what a shifter was and that a Benandanti was a type of shifter.

Content that he had beaten Noah's bitch ass into submission, Ian had hoped to perform his coup de grace by sucking out all his blood. It would be the slowest death he could administer, ample revenge for past insults.

Instead, Ian was in this cheap motel trying to beat a confession out of this vampire. Marcos smiled. "Whatever you want ..." The smile widened and fangs appeared. "You ain't getting from me." A string of Spanish curses followed.

At that moment, Parker Evans returned from his visit with Victor Chirac. The seedy motel had one advantage over the Darkside Club. If Marcos did escape them, he wouldn't be in a prime location to take back the reins of power.

Parker Evans paced around, his eyes never leaving Marcos. "It has come to my attention that you are a hypocrite." Marcos glared. "You despise my boss for bowing down to Nergal and then you turned around and did the same."

A motion blur of Parker's right hand caught Marcos in the jaw. A single fang chipped off the smug revolutionary's face and landed at Ian's feet. "Don't bother denying it." He smirked. "You, my friend, are as guilty as you are ugly."

Parker continued his little speech. "Is that why you joined the revolution? Huh? To pick up chicks?" Parker snuck a glance at Ian. "I don't blame you." Parker shrugged. "I, myself, have done my share of dumb crap for the ladies."

The interrogation continued. "I ask because you don't seem to understand that your revolution was just a power grab clad in half-baked claptrap rhetoric. You're about as revolutionary as a stone and chisel, you pathetic little man-child."

Marcos chuckled. His smile revealed where in his mouth where the fang had chipped off from. "I swear to God, when I escape, I will kill you." The dark baritone in his voice would've scared the Devil himself. Parker yawned.

"If you escape, Marcos. Not when." Parker tapped on the shackles. He looked at his fingertips, blithely regarding his burnt flesh. "As for swearing to God, that invisible sky-bully is part of the reason you're not going anywhere."

Parked cracked his neck. Ian began to notice how ruffled and torn-up his mode of attire looked. On an ordinary dude, it could be one of any numbers of reasons. For a metro like Parker, it would have to be the result of a crisis.

"Let me tell you where I was a hour ago." Parked got up in Marcos' face. "I was taking a smoke break down the hallway next to a rather noisy ice machine when I ran into your little hermanito, Orlando." Marcos' eyes widened.

Parker looked at Ian. "It seems our boy bargained with his blood sire to turn Orlando into a vampire as well. A sort of two-for-one deal." Marcos remained speechless. "I killed him, of course, but that was ten minutes ago."

Ian did the math in his head. "In the fifty minutes it took to kill him, he told me almost everything there was to know about you." Marcos lunged at him, straining against the shackles. "The things your brother Orlando told me."

Parker slapped Marcos a couple times in the face. Marcos continued to lunge forward. "It seems you worshipped Nergal ... even back when you were human. Victor beat you to the punch. And we all know how well that ended."

If not for the holy shackles, Parker would have been ripped to pieces by now. "But you are a special breed of idiot. You thought you could succeed where he failed. You claimed to have found a way to control this demon."

Parker showed Marcos the knife caked in Orlando's blood. "I thought he was full of crap so I cut his heart out." Parker put his fingers under his chin, examining Marcos. "Before he died, he said that you knew his true name."

Marcos didn't even blink. "Now, it's no surprise that a mumbler of incantations like yourself lost control." Parker placed a L on his forehead. "You are a loser with capitol L. Of course, Nergal chew through your lease."

Marcos' face remained motionless. "Still, in the hands of a more experienced spell-caster, my boss, for example, the true name of the demon could be the keystone of a grand arsenal against that rather persistent blaze of hellfire."

A gob of saliva landed on Parker's face. He wiped it off and smirked. "Those shackles aren't what are keeping you here." A motion blur of Parker's left arm cracked Marcos Botero's jaw. "It is your stubborn pride that binds you."

Parker sighed. "Listen, in case you have misunderstood me, I will say aloud what my boss is offering." He cleared his throat. "He is offering to let you go, no strings attached, for the low price of a single piece of information."

Marcos grinned as droplets of blood fell from his split-open jawline. "You led an army against my boss, Marcos. You humiliated him in front of all his peers. He gives you a chance to redeem yourself and you spit in my face?"

Ian fetched the acetylene blowtorch from out of the closet. "Gonna be a long night, gentlemen." Ian ignited the blowtorch. Marcos screamed as they went to work on him. Thank God this crappy motel was remote and empty.

Ian listened to the frantic heartbeat in the next room. The sound of buttons on a phone being pushed echoed in his ears. Ian handed Parker Evans the lit blowtorch. "Don't worry about that." Ian bared his fangs. "I'll handle this."

Ian massaged his sinuses as he got up from the bed and walked out the door. He knocked on the door of the room next to them. "Listen, I know you're scared but if you don't put down that phone, I'm going to have to kill you."

Ian hoped his casual tone would encourage the occupant's cooperation. "I'm not the bad guy here." Ian rested his arms against the door. "There are ten other people in this motel. They're all going to have to die because of you."

After a long pause, Ian heard the operator's voice through the phone in Room 19. Even if he killed the guy before he could say anything, the caller ID would trace the call and then the police would arrive in a matter of minutes.

Parker Evans must have heard it too. Ian could hear the sounds of second pair of holy shackles snapping shut on Marcos Botero's body. None of this would have ever happened in the soundproof rooms at the Darkside Club.

"I didn't expect you to be here," Alyssa Walker said as she spotted Deanna Hilson from across the lobby of the movie theater. It was an obvious and predictable thing to say and she could only hope she hadn't recognized her.

Deanna walked over to her in that trademark casual saunter of hers like he owned the place. "I wish I could say the same thing, Alyssa." Deanna always seemed to be in a perpetual contest with herself to top her last one-liner.

"What do you mean?" Asking simple questions was the easiest way to deflate one-liners. It made the asker seem more genuine and the receiver look like an idiot too caught up in her word games to see how clever she wasn't.

"You're here keeping an eye on your brother." For a fraction of a second, Deanna's haughty airs cleaned and her eyes betrayed a wholly unfiltered look of genuine affection. Then, a fraction of a second later, the look vanished.

"How do you know that?" Deanna had one thing most sarcastic smartasses didn't, a genuine aura of wisdom about them. If Alyssa could figure how she knew half the things she knew, she might be so lucky to become half as wise.

"Because I'm doing the same thing for my sister." The answer was as obvious and predictable as Alyssa's opener. Of course, Deanna would keep an eye on her little sister. Alyssa laughed softly. Deanna didn't even crack a smile.

"Great minds ..." Alyssa kept laughing. Deanna kept stonewalling her. "What makes you think something will happen?" The Hilsons and the Walkers were secretive. Even as neighbors, not a lot of intel flowed from them.

Deanna wasted no words. "The last time they went on a date, their restaurant burned to the ground." Deanna said those words like any moron should have been able to deduce why covertly chaperoning the two was a good thing.

"Good point." Just not a good enough point. Alyssa Walker still had reservations about going all secret police on her little brother. Deanna clearly had no such reservations or did a better job than herself at hiding them. "So ..."

Deanna Hilson crossed her arms, her most overtly hostile gesture so far. "So." As much as she didn't want to start this conversation, Alyssa could feel it coming for miles away. This was going to happen someday or other. So ...

"We're just not going to talk about it then?" Her eyes widened. Her arms fell to her sides. Alyssa had gotten one past the gate on Deanna. A point on the scoreboard. She was surprised by how she planned to attack this issue.

"Talk about what?" Deanna was avoiding the subject. Like anyone getting charged by an unfamiliar technique, Deanna defaulted to the dodge, a clumsy cure-all against almost all attacks, be they physical, mental or spiritual.

"How you've been acting around me." Alyssa had no desire to let this go. Even if she wanted to, the time for backing out had passed. Deanna and Alyssa were on a collision course from the moment they saw each other.

"I don't act differently around you." Deanna still dodged Alyssa's questions. She didn't want to answer them. She didn't want to look like she didn't want to answer them. She wanted to get by without facing the horrible truth.

Alyssa would have liked to do that but the time for that had passed. "Bullcrap." Alyssa paused a moment so Deanna could absorb the force of that word. "Every time you see me in the hallways, you act like I'm not there."

Deanna smiled at Alyssa. "You must be mistaken." Deanna shrugged. "I was just admiring the architecture." The blatant transparency of her lie only reinforced how little (if any) respect Deanna must have felt towards Alyssa.

"If you saw me in a junkyard, you'd pretend to be admiring the junk." Alyssa shouldn't have bothered attacking the lie. It was just another tangent specifically designed by Deanna to lure Alyssa away from the focus of her debate.

"The junk would be more interesting." Like an arctic breeze had swept through, the whole lobby got a little colder. Deanna had switched tracks. Playing dumb wasn't working. Perhaps, she'd have success with playing bad.

Alyssa held up the symbol for Time-Out. "What are you trying to prove? That you're a bitch?" Deanna nodded. "Yeah, well, too bad 'cause I'm not buying it. I've had enough frenemies to know you're not this much of a bitch."

Like two gunslingers about to draw down on each other at high noon, Deanna scooted to her right as Alyssa scooted to her own right. Whether they meant to or not, the two were circling each other. "And your point is ..."

"My point is ... and I have one ... at least tell me why you're so angry before going all passive-aggressive on me." Alyssa stared at Deanna. "I'm obviously doing something you don't like and you think I'm doing it on purpose."

"It's sex, isn't it?" Alyssa Walkers felt the words before she understood them. She couldn't bring herself to think them. "You wanna get laid?" Deanna chuckled. "Well, just come over to my house, we'll work something out."

Alyssa could see the wet outline of tears under both of Deanna's eyes. "Then you can brag about it to all your friends because being a lesbo is so cool now." Alyssa shook her head. Where the Hell was all this coming from?

Finally, the light bulb went on in her head. "You think I'm using you, Deanna?" Alyssa shook her head a little harder, fearful that if she shook any harder the whole damn thing would come off. "How could you think that?"

Deanna Hilson just laughed at her wounded indignation. Her pain was a joke to her. "If the shoe fits ..." There she was going it again, using one-liners to skate over emotionally complex situations. It was starting to piss Alyssa off.

It took every ounce of willpower not to scream curses at her. Alyssa stifled a cry and lowered her voice. "When we met, we both felt something." Deanna held her eyes in a long blink. She hit a nerve. "I know it can be scary ..."

"Scary? What do you know about scary? I'll tell you about scary. Scary is kissing your best friend and getting a broken nose for it. Scary is going to a school where everyone thinks you're a rape-happy bulldyke. That is scary."

The sob story was supposed to shut Alyssa down. Instead, it egged her on. She was onto something. "Okay, you've got a few trust issues." Alyssa rolled her eyes. "Who doesn't? That doesn't give you the right to treat me this way."

Deanna gritted her teeth. "You've been out less than three months and suddenly you're a lesbian sexpert." Deanna chuckled. "Gimme a break." Her ability to one-liner her way out of this was faltering. Time to land a finishing blow.

"Love. Always. Hurts." Alyssa Walker announced that simple fact in punctuated and deliberate a fashion as she could. "And guess what? You don't get exempt from that just because you happen to be on the lavender league."

In that moment, Deanna shrank before her eyes. Her erect posture slouched into a C-shape. The fire in her eyes went out like two candles extinguished in a dark windowless room. "Is that what this is?" Deanna sighed. "Love?"

Alyssa covered her mouth with both hands. Omigod, omigod, omigod, Alyssa panicked as the three words made into one repeated over and over in her head. "I didn't ..." Alyssa choked down a lump. "The thing about that ..."

Deanna held an index finger up against her lips in a symbol of silence. "I guess it was only a matter of time before one of us used the L-word." Alyssa tilted her head, confused. Deanna chuckled at that. "The other L-word, Ali."

Like anyone could tell, some four-letter words were too dangerous to use in mixed company. Alyssa had wondered why Deanna hated her so much, it never occurred to her that the opposite was at work. "D, I'm sorry."

Deanna sighed. "Don't be." Deanna told a step back and looked at the long lines forming at concession. "Look at them." A thousand-yard stare ensued. "They don't know about monsters. Doesn't mean they'll never meet one."

Alyssa shook her head to express helplessness. If she had any clue what she was angling at, she might have played along but she didn't. Deanna sighed again. "Just because you can't face the truth doesn't mean it'll stop existing."

Alyssa nodded her head to express understanding. She knew that sentiment better than anyone. If she could have woken up from this nightmare, Alyssa would have done it months ago. Alyssa looked at Deanna. "What is truth?"

Deanna Hilson, for the first time since they met, was speechless. "I get it," Alyssa said, solving the puzzle wrapped in a riddle sowed into an enigma that was Deanna's heart. "Hunting is easy." She touched her. "Loving is hard."

At last, Deanna broke her silence. "You're not even human." The words startled Alyssa but did not paralyze. In a moment of absolute vulnerability, Deanna strived to escape with words hurtful enough to ruin any tender moment.

Alyssa just laughed. "Yeah, well, I'm not exactly a talking dog either." She brushed away some of Deanna's hair. "So let's get past that and just deal ..." Alyssa was stopped by a kiss from Deanna that drew more than a few stares.

Her heart raced. "We're lesbians," Alyssa politely explained to an elderly couple giving them dirty looks. Alyssa looked back at Deanna. "I officially declare this argument over." Like that, the two ran off somewhere to be alone.

Alyssa Walker followed as Deanna Hilson dragged her into the T-shaped backroom behind concession. Past a wall-eyed employee and an elevator, the two found an exit to the compactor area. Ideal for a make-out session.

"Two lesbos sneaking off to be alone together," Alyssa mused aloud. "If this were a horror movie, we'd be so ..." Deanna stared transfixed at Alyssa. Alyssa realized her mistake and just shrugged. "Forget I said anything, D."

Deanna shrugged in return. "Speaking of which, you ever get the feeling that your life is being written by some horny fat dude on a computer?" Alyssa shook her head. "I do." Deanna kissed Alyssa again. "God bless that man."

Alyssa held Deanna at arm's length. "This is my first time." Alyssa didn't mean for the words to sound so harsh but she wanted her to know how much this meant to her. "Be gentle." She felt so embarrassed asking for so small a favor.

"Your first time?" Deanna asked. "Funny, you looked like a pro when you were kissing Erica Eastman." Alyssa could feel her blush turning three shades of pink. There weren't enough years in her life to live that one down.

"That was different." Alyssa contemplated the circumstances. "I was protecting my family at the time." Erica Eastman hated lesbians. Even the thought of being near one gave her the Wiggins. That kiss was the only way.

"You have an answer for everything, Ali." Deanna's mouth worked away on Alyssa's neck. In no time, she'd have a hicky the size of a golf ball on her neck. Alyssa purred, actually purred, as Deanna dug her lips into her throat.

"I'm gifted that way." Alyssa relaxed as her hands explored Deanna. Alyssa couldn't remember the last time she was this happy. This was the most fun she had had without killing something. Alyssa felt the shift in the wind.

Her senses burned. Her hearing stretched out to the edge of existence. Her sense of touch enhanced this quiet intimate moment. At first, she didn't know what was happening. Then, it dawned on her. She was channeling.

Like making out, channeling was a first for her. Noah said it required a moment of clarity to slip into the mindset of channeling one's wolf spirit. She had thought Noah was full of crap but it seemed he had been right all along.

Alyssa opened her eyes. She could see clearly by the glow of the streetlights and the full moon. Her nostrils flared. A fecund festering smell zigged and zagged through the air and arrived at her heightened olfactory nerves.

"Do you smell that?" Alyssa would've given anything not to ruin this moment but something was wrong. Deanna shook her head. "That?" Alyssa pointed at the compactor. "It is coming from over there." Deanna looked up at her.

"Seriously, if I'm going too fast for you, you can just say so." Deanna rolled her eyes. "I'm not exactly thrilled to be doing this sort of thing in the back of a movie theater." Alyssa just kept pointing. "Jeez, alright, I'll take a look."

Deanna hummed a couple bars from a horror movie, making light of Alyssa's fear. She rolled her eyes. "Could you just open the damn door?" Deanna opened the damn door. Inside was a lump of bloodied flesh. "That's not good."

Deanna poked her head in a little further. As a hunter, she had seen her share of blood. "This was human flesh cast off from a werewolf. See where it ripped along the spine, Ali." Deanna nodded her head. "Yep. Classic wolf-man M.O."

"I know what a werewolf's cast-off skin looks like, D." Her family had been hunting for untold generations. "What the Hell is it doing in a compactor?" Most werewolves, once turned, didn't think to dispose off their unwanted flesh.

"Must have been a smart one." Werewolves were supposed to be men who turned into wolves. In truth, the human form was just a seal for containing an ancient curse. Three nights a month, the seal broke and the beast walked free.

Usually, the beast that sprung forth from the human meat was an animal with no higher brain functions, no more dangerous than an escaped circus elephant. But every once awhile, a beast emerged with a terrifying intelligence.

Alyssa felt her heart hammering away on the neighboring organs, desperate to escape. Werewolves were only a real threat for about five percent of their lifespan. But, in that five percent, they were god-like terrors to behold.

"Did you bring any weapons?" Alyssa needed to know if they had precious silver, the only material capable of harming a werewolf in their altered state. The only thing standing between them and horrible gruesome deaths.

For a moment, a smirk returned to Deanna's face. "You searched me well enough." Deanna spread her arms around the shape of her body. "Did I bring any weapons?" Alyssa blushed but quickly regained her composure.

"Crap." Or, perhaps, she hadn't quite regained her composure. A werewolf set to kill dozens of people had that effect on one's concentration. "What are we going to do?" Alyssa suppressed the urge to ask the question again.

Deanna smirked again. "The one thing hunters often forget to do." Deanna pulled out her cell. "Call for help." A dial tone followed and then Mr. Hilson's voice came through the line. "Dad, we got a werewolf problem."

Noah Walker heard the screams coming from the auditorium next to them. Truly, Hot Off The Presses was classic entertainment for the mentally challenged crowd. Film strove to be as dumb as its premise would permit it to be.

Since the movie in the other auditorium was Bad Moon Rising, Noah figured a few moviegoers were getting their money's worth. Noah was distracted by other endeavors. Noah stared at Samantha's hand like it were on the moon.

Noah could be sensual in starts and stutters but the idea of holding her hand during the sustained length of a feature presentation scared the holy hell out of him. Noah's fingers crawled in the direction of the lady's hand.

Then, it happened. A bearded man in a gray flannel suit staggered into the auditorium. His neck had been ripped opened. He was pushing the bounds of the human pain threshold in his attempt to warn the patrons of an emergency.

As limbs thrashed at each other to reach the exit into the alley, Noah and Sammy ran back into the theater. Call it a hunter's intuition but the emergency the bearded man in the suit tried to warn about sounded like a monster.

True to form, Noah arrived in the corridors to see a furry tank polishing off the worldly remains of a fallen usher. "Werewolf," said the two in unison as the beast reared his head their way, chucks of flesh hanging from the mouth.

Noah eyed the family restroom. Without thinking, Noah made a beeline for it. The werewolf charged the door as Noah slammed it shut behind him. Noah ripped his clothes off as the turning moved through his veins and into his flesh.

The door flew off its hinges and bashed in the mirror over the sink. The creature snarled as Noah fell to all fours, his fur piercing through his skin like thousands of little needles. The wolf pounced. Noah raised his fist skyward.

His half-turned arm caught the werewolf in the jaw. Just as he had hoped, the invincible werewolf could still feel pain. That meant Noah could buy Samantha enough time to evacuate the theater before this werewolf killed again.

Before too long, Noah saw that the slap to the face had been a lucky shot. The werewolf head-butted him with a force and strength that cracked a couple bones in his ribcage. If not for his regeneration, it might have killed him.

The heart and the brain, Noah reminded himself. Benandanti's two weak spots. If he could protect those vital organs from direct harm, the rest of him would regenerate in time. Noah grabbed the werewolf with his jaws.

In a second, he had a werewolf pinned to the floor of a family restroom. Another second, Noah was airborne, his jaws unhinged. He crashed, tail first, into a candy case. Broken glass clutched at Noah as he fought to pull himself free.

As he pulled himself up from the scattered Whoppers and spilled Perriers, the werewolf's massive jaws wrapped around his right foreleg up to the joint. Noah howled as his engulfed leg clawed the werewolf on the inside.

The werewolf gagged and released Noah's right foreleg. Deep puncture wounds formed in his inner thigh. He swung his left foreleg. Werewolf smashed it into the floor. Noah ran out of limbs. The werewolf widened its jaws.

The werewolf froze, a small spot of blood reached through one temple and out the other. Whip cracks filled the lobby as three more shots punctured the neck, ribcage and pelvis of the beast. Then, the werewolf fell over dead.

The fur melted off the werewolf, revealing a naked woman underneath, her body pockmarked with the gunshot wounds that had brought her down. Noah looked up to see Mr. Hilson with a smoking revolver in his hand.

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