The house smells of cinnamon, maple honey, and freshly baked apples. The sound of the dishwasher and T.V going fill the living room, hallway, and kitchen. Both my brothers are sat in front of it watching. I’m not really sure if they’re paying attention or not. However, I’m not about to ruin their day by changing the channel.
“Rys, can you help me set the table?”
The plate set is old but still looks pristine. Not sure if that has to do with how well-cleaned mom keeps the dishes or the fact that neither of the twins have gotten the chance to break them. Probably the latter. I gently set them on the table along with the appropriate utensils. Just as I’m getting the napkins, I hear the phone ring and a groan from what I presume to be Austin.
“I’ll get it. Check on Austin for me, would you?”
Nodding, I step into the living room. Austin’s hands are over his ears and a scowl on his face. Mismatched eyes glaring at the T.V. Beside him, Maxine looks just as angry. Remote aimed at the television set. The word mute in big letters on the screen. It takes me a minute to notice that the emergency broadcast is on up on the screen.
“Austin, are you okay? Did you take the medication the doctor prescribed?”
He nods slowly. The moment I’m within arm’s reach, he holds his arms out to me. I lower myself to the floor and hug him.
“Maxine, sweetheart, turn the news on.”
“Do as I tell you and hurry. Your father says it’s important.”
He pouts but changes the channel as asked of him. Even unmutes it. Some kind of press conference is taking place, but where, I can’t be sure. The man behind the podium wears an overconfident grin. It’s the most unnerving thing I’ve ever seen.
“We are aware that you all have questions. Hopefully, this will answer everything for you.”
Cameras keep flashing, judging by the various shutter sounds. Confusion is evident by everyone throwing out questions all at once. Looking between my mother and the screen doesn’t answer any questions for me. Another man is dragged into view. He’s literally shaking, sweating, and swearing. The men dragging him don’t look bothered. Grins that fuel the nightmares of small children on their faces.
“This is Dr. Kasten. He works for your government. The very one that would see me and my kin dead. See, your mortal laws do not apply to our kind. Even if they did, you humans would still try to kill us.”
Austin buries himself into me as Dr. Kasten begins screaming and yelling for people to run. He’s in full-blown hysterics. One of the men yanks the poor man’s head back, grin now a snarl. Maxine’s face is now panic and fear. Mom is quick to pull him towards her, covering his eyes and ears. She’s yelling at our dad, but I can’t focus on her. Eyes never leaving the t.v.
“You’ll have to excuse him. His manners aren’t up to par. Like many other medical scientists, Kasten was looking for a way to cure a person’s ability to shift.”
A reporter asks a question to which the man just laughs. He hasn’t introduced himself or anyone besides the doctor. The sound unsettling, to say the least.
“I often forget you humans believe that werewolves are mere legend or myth. Something impossible to believe. Even more absurd is that you believe in one kind of werewolf.”
My blood runs cold, jaw slack, and eyes darting along the screen. Unable to comprehend what I’m seeing. Mom let’s out a yelped gasp. And that’s how I know I’m not losing my mind. One of the men on the news has gone from man to something I’ve never even dreamt of. A giant mass of black fur, neon yellow eyes, and a snarl filled with so many teeth, I dare not attempt to count them. It’s hard to tell what it’s supposed to be.
It’s the first she’s spoken, phone held away from her head. Dad’s yelling muffled by the terror taking place where everyone in the world can see it. The man is talking, but I don’t think anyone cares. Too many are trying to flee. Dr. Kasten among them. Without so much as a warning or anything, his head is torn from his body. Just like that, the broadcast is cut. A service interruption visual displaying. I don’t know what does it, but my mother and I snap out of our trances. She’s attentive to the frantic voice of her husband. Color draining quickly from her.
“Your father says we should act normal for now. The boys will attend school as usual. And the two of us will follow our usual routine. We’re not to draw attention to ourselves.”
“A man was effortlessly killed on national television!”
“Rys, please. Even I’m at a loss. However, this is what he’s asking us to do. A lot of people seem to think it was a hoax. We’re to act as though that’s what we think as well.”
“Rys Maybel Marshall! Enough is enough! We do this if we’re to stay under their radar. Whatever they are. Do this for me. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Who’s to say they won’t still find us.”
“No one, but we shouldn’t make it easier for them.”
“I don’t like this.”
“Neither do I.”
She’s never shown fear or any negative emotion around us for as long as I can remember. Not when I’d broken my ankle. Or when Maxine had his first stress-induced seizure. Not even when we found out that a kid had beaten Austin so badly that he had to have surgery. Didn’t even shed a tear when doctors said he’d never talk again and would suffer severe PTSD. Nothing ever made her break down in front of us. Yet the woman in front of me looks defeated and at a loss for what to do. Sadly, that’s exactly how I feel. As though we haven’t gone through enough. On top of a pandemic, we now have to deal with former fictional creatures. I just hope it ends there.