Royal Bay, Louisiana-- 20 miles from New Roads
The brakes squealed, testing the limits of Alex Seller’s old, gray Ford F1-50 pickup truck. He did not even wait for the truck to come to a full stop opening the driver’s side door and leaping out. He fell to the ground, rolling on the grass until skidding to a stop on his knees.
Alex bolted for the door of his house, shaken and blood spattered, but the blood was not his own. The bright orange safety vest glowing as the pickup truck’s one headlight caught him like a spotlight in the night. Visibly shaken the color had gone out of his youthful face his blue eyes sunken in making him appear like he was at death’s door. Still several yards from the house when the screen door opened, from the lights inside, a shadowy silhouette wearing a Protestant dress appeared.
“Alex, what’s happened?” Alex’s wife, Tracy’s voice quivered when she saw all the blood.
Alex craned his neck around, to see if he had been followed, stumbling as he did so. Tracy reached down to grab Alex’s forearm and helped him up.
She asked the same question again, a nervous tremble to her voice, “what’s happened?”
“We were attacked! Two of my friends are dead! “Alex trembled as Tracy helped him up off the ground.
“Monsters, we got attacked by goddamn monsters! David and Nathan were bit but I think they’re all right, they got away at least! I’m not injured. We just really need to get in the house!” Alex was still looking at his surroundings nervously until he looked into Tracy’s green eyes. She had a calming affect over him, reminding him why he just had to have her as a wife in the first place. She was calm under pressure, she exuded confidence, and her eyes showed it.
“Calm down honey, let’s get into the house. I’m sure it’s not as bad as it seems and I’m sure there’s got to be a logical explanation for what you saw. We can call the police and......”
“We can’t call the fucking police; we were out there poaching for Christ’s sake, Tracy!”
Tracy held the screen door open with one hand, braced it with her body while helping Alex get up the two steps and inside. Suddenly the screen door violently wrenched open further catching her off balance, she let go of Alex who fell just inside the entrance. She spun around to see what had happened, and what she saw chilled her to the bone.
A talon-like, rust colored, furry hand gripped the screen door, tearing it off its hinges, screws and splintered wood rained onto the ground. Its visage was more beast than man. Pointed wolf-like ears hung back from its elongated skull, short and sparse red hairs covered its short muzzle… seeming too large for its mouth which was filled with a complete set of dagger-like fangs.
Spittle drooled down its thick neck as it talked, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me in!”
Her once confident green eyes now filled with dread and terror when she peered into the Wolf man’s eyes, the Devil’s eyes, she thought, glowing red eyes. Shaken and still reeling in disbelief time stood still for her as she took in the whole image of the thing. The beast towered over her and had to be over seven feet tall. It had a thick furry chest that came down to V at its wide hips, its arms were elongated and hung at its sides as it panted, looking down at her. It had on odd ill-fitting camouflage pants which were too small and ripped on each side. She realized in horror that this must be the “monster” Alex had been talking about, and he must be wearing one of Alex’s friend’s pants. Her breath caught in her throat, a scream stuck there, as she looked down and saw that it stood barefoot, on the balls of elongated feet with an ankle that was bent backwards like a reverse knee.
“Tracy, get away from him!” Alex shrieked, managing to get to his feet and yanked Tracy by the waist through the open door, pushing her behind himself. “How did you find me?”
They backed further into the room when the Wolf-thing leapt up the two steps with ease almost filling the doorway. His face reverted to that of an almost normal man, except for canine fangs. He reached up and touched his nose laughing.
“Follow the nose, it always knows! Actually you are the only one that lives on the outskirts of town, Lucky you.” The man thing surveyed the situation, confident the two humans were too scared to make a run for it, he made himself at home.
“If you don’t mind,” he gestured to the loveseat. “I’m waiting for someone, he won’t be long.”
The man did not wait for an answer, he plopped down onto the loveseat with his legs propped up on one side and crisscrossed. He reached for the remote on the coffee table, and pressed the “power” to turn on the flat screen TV. He glanced once more at his hostages who stood gaping at him, clutching each other fearfully. The living room opened up into a kitchen and he had a clear view of the back door, certain he could retrieve them easily if they tried to run, he turned his attention back to the movements on the screen.
Tracy slowly edged backwards toward the kitchen hoping to get to the cabinets where she was certain a handgun was still hidden. All the while, her eyes were trained on the intruder. It was amazing. He looked just like a normal man now, watching TV, smiling and laughing almost in unison with the T.V. audience. This thing went against all known laws of nature, she thought. All of the red fur had vanished, leaving a normal shirtless and freckled chest visible. Even his hands were mostly normal, he had short black nails and although all the digits were oddly all the same length, they at least were no longer claw-like. As she felt the counter bump up against her back, Tracy heard the interloper yell out, startling her.
“Hey, Tracy, you got a cold beer with my name on it in there anywhere?” He turned his attention towards Alex, “Oh hey I love this movie! It just started, watch it with me, why don’t you?” The man paused and then melodramatically smacked a hand to his forehead. “I am so rude! My name is Lance, what’s your name?”
“Alex Seller.” He said meekly, leaning up against the wall, his eyes shifting nervously to the kitchen where Tracy was quietly opening cabinets. He knew when she had found the revolver, as her shoulders tensed up and she tucked something out of sight in her hands.
Rounding the kitchen counter, Tracy looked at the man and said smugly, “Yeah I think I have something with your name on it right here.” Up on his feet in a flash, but Lance was not fast enough to avoid bullets. Bang! Bang! Blood flooded into his mouth as his left lung collapsed. Tracy had no time for another shot before Lance leaped toward her. His hands were once again like claws, one grabbed at Tracy’s wrist and the other clawed at her face.
Lance was transforming quickly now to a rusty colored Dire Wolf, large in appearance, it towered over Tracy’s body. All of his features were canine now except for his hands. Huge talon-like hands that had Tracy’s head, tiny in comparison, in a vice like grip. The two bullet wounds were already healing from the inside out, pushing the lead slugs from his body until they fell out and bounced off the linoleum floor.
“What the hell is it with this family and shooting me?!” He growled an incomprehensible guttural sound since his voice box mimicked a canine’s now.
Plaster cracked as Tracy’s head was smashed into the wall with the sickening crack. Her body flew off the floor as she was tossed around like a rag doll and all the while Alex watched in horror, frozen by fear and blinded by the tears in his eyes. He wheezed, unable to release his own terrified screams.
Tracy moaned and as her arms went limp she finally dropped the gun; matted blood stained her once blonde hair. Lance suddenly stopped his onslaught of punishment and converted back into human form, naked now, he released her body, slumping to the floor. Lance knelt down over Tracy’s unresponsive form and felt for a pulse.
“Don’t worry…” he looked at Alex with a sinister grin, “she’s still alive. You know, you and your friends really shouldn’t have been hunting out there tonight. There are a lot of dangerous predators out at night. Like me. And you really shouldn’t have shot me, you and your bitch!”
Lance reached down and unbuttoned Tracy’s Jean dress, stripped it off of her, and then proceeded to put it on. Lance ran a hand along Tracy’s bare thigh, admiring her for a moment. Seeing Tracy’s prone body, lying still and wearing just her underwear, something inside Alex’s head snapped, he now he burned inside with anger and shame. Supposed to be her protector, but she had tried to protect him and now she was seriously injured. Before he realized it, Alex was on his feet.
Lance, who was now wearing Tracy’s dress, was on top of him and pushing him down before he got the chance to go for Tracy’s discarded gun.
“Do I look like grandmother now?” Lance asked sweetly, smacking Alex with his open hand several times until he was red in the face.
“You’re the devil!” Alex spat, struggling uselessly beneath the man’s weight.
Lance’s head went up and he sniffed the air around them. He put a clawed hand on Alex’s shoulder.
“No, but my friend,” he pointed over Alex’ head toward the front door, “well he is!”
Alex was reluctant to see what stood behind him, but he mustered the courage to turn around. What he saw horrified him. Standing just feet before him looked like a monstrous prehistoric raven-furred dire wolf. It wore a half-shroud over the left side of its face made of a patchwork of tanned human skin, threaded up with human sinew. Alternating spikes, three large, three small, were screwed into its scalp keeping the shroud secure with large brass grommets. The cranium of the monster was unusually large, its brow line thicker and broader than that of a normal Wolf. Its right eye wide and shone a brilliant green and set back in its head further. The Devil’s right ear thin and curved outward at the point. At had a longer thin muzzle with a large wet, black and scarred nose. Alex could see abnormally curved fangs within receding gums. Its shoulder blades were pronounced and the thing was carrying a medium leather pouch at his side.
Squinting, Alex saw that in its drooling jaws was a human torso with its entrails dragging behind. Alex gagged, trying to keep in the vomit as he realized it was one of his friends the beast had, but without the head he could not tell which one it was. One boot was gone along with the foot and only cracked and bloodied bone remained. With a nauseating thwack, the beast dropped the bloody body onto the floor and stood up on two legs. The reverse knee of the Wolf lowered gently to the floor becoming a heel, paws turned into four toes with extremely long feet that retracted right before Alex’s eyes.
Busy staring at the fiend’s feet when Alex began to realize the Wolf face was now altering into a man’s façade. The beast man was stunning in a sense that any wild animal was, beautiful in its own primal way. His skin was flawless, pale and iridescent. He had a Cro-Magnon like appearance with a long thin nose and a broad chin and his right ear was set back and slightly pointed. Now receding, he could see six piercings in his lobe. His one eye, something about that eye, Alex thought, was primitive. It was a wild, emerald colored eye. Cheek bones sat high and defined above thin crimson lips and a wide mouth. The bloody fangs receded but his canines were still more pronounced in respect to that of a normal human’s.
Lance pushed off of Alex and went towards the kitchen. Gingerly stepping over Tracy’s still unconscious body, he made his way to the refrigerator and began riffling around inside, clinking bottles into one another. Alex pushed himself up onto his knees and his attention devoted to the naked man who entered the living room. He got dressed casually, pulling clothes out of the bag that had been around his shoulder. Noticing Alex’s stare, he formally introduced himself, his demeanor cold.
“My name is Aticus.” Aticus gestured for Alex to have a seat on the couch. It was more of a command than a suggestion which had Alex fearing for his life, and he meekly complied.
Aticus frowned after one glance and a sniff around the room. The living room was quaint, with recently painted walls, buttery in color and spackled with a country living motif the wall bordered with eggshell painted from ceiling to floor. He could smell the aroma of lavender and fresh linens from the candles above the curio cabinet but he could also sense gunpowder and human mixed with lycanthrope blood hanging in the air. He regarded Tracy’s prone body and Lance who stood, wearing her dress. Aticus growled, digging through his bag for more clothing and violently threw a man’s outfit at Lance’s face. Lance promptly stripped out of Tracy’s dress and into more appropriate attired.
“The bitch shot me and I didn’t have a choice.” Lance said, pointing toward Tracy’s unconscious and half naked body.
Aticus looked over at Lance, shaking his head in displeasure; he cautiously wandered over to Tracy with only a side way glance at Alex who sat on the couch in the fetal position, rocking himself back and forth with a glazed look in his eyes.
“You’re pathetic.” Aticus spat in Alex’s direction.
He stormed past the petrified man then he knelt down and cradled Tracy’s head in his massive hands. He positioned her head on his chest parted her tresses on one side and began licking her injuries with a long, rough tongue. He carefully held her up as he removed the matted blood from her straw colored hair.
Fully dressed now, Lance tossed Tracy’s dress on the floor and plopped down on the couch again, sitting uncomfortably close to Alex, putting his arm over his clammy and sweating shoulder, “you know; I’m
starting to really think Aticus has a thing for your wife.”
He smiled a fang-filled mischievous smile, “Seriously look.”
Lance nodded toward the kitchen. Lance leaned back so that Alex had an unobstructed view of Aticus and Tracy. He was delicately stroking her hair and seemed to be gently embracing her, holding her to his chest while he slowly inhaled her fragrance. It was a strong bouquet of lilies, baby powder, with an edge of panic to it, but Aticus sensed something else as well and it thrilled him, the aroma of angry defiance, fury, and a faint smell of luteinizing hormone.
Aticus carefully laid Tracy back onto the cold floor, tracing an invisible line with his nails on her smooth skin, from her hips over to her navel. He began to feel a stirring heat and pressure in his loins. He stared at her face and took a deep breath, knowing he needed to distance himself from her if he was going to be able to restrain himself.
“You have a chance to survive this night, I promise you.” He whispered, carefully removing his Flintlock pistol from his bag and holstering it in is belt. Then he removed his bag off his shoulder and placed it like a pillow underneath her head.
Aticus picked Tracy’s gun up off the floor then entered the kitchen. He opened the cabinets to find a glass for water. He could feel Alex’s eyes on his back as he opened a silverware drawer, quickly finding a steak knife; he went back over to Tracy’s still unresponsive body.
“You know Alex, I truly despise you.” He looked at Alex with rancor in his green eye.
His arm transmuted again into a wolf’s, as it did Aticus sliced the knife vertically into his furry wrist until lifeblood began spewing out into the glass of water. He would not dare show it but he was beaming with pride for Tracy. She was definitely a fighter; she had obviously stepped up fearlessly to defend her den and her cowardly love from an interloper. He rubbed her cheek, gently trying to rouse her seeing her eyes flutter minutely.
“Drink my dear,” He said, passing a disapproving glance at Lance who was obliviously indulging himself in human trappings, comfortably watching TV.
He held Tracy’s nose until she reflexively opened to catch a breath. Her mouth open he poured the unholy mixture into her throat until the glass emptied and Tracy was coughing and sputtering. The sound of his wife choking and moaning made Alex jump up nervously from the sofa but he stopped short when he felt Lance’s hand firmly grip his shoulder.
“He’ll kill you where you stand.” Lance whispered, tugging at Alex’s shirt. “Sit back down and watch this movie with me, it will be over soon.” He said, his eyes never straying from the TV.
Lance’s statement shook him to the bone and the horrible truth began to set in. They were not going to survive the night, and there was nothing that Alex could do about it. All he had wanted to do was have a couple of beers with his friends, get away from Tracy for a few hours and go hunting. He was not prepared for the nightmare he had stumbled into and now faced, in his own home. He felt sick to his stomach watching Aticus who was sniffing all around Tracy like a dog with a new chew toy, drool dripping out of his mouth.
Tracy’s eyes began to open slowly as Aticus breathed in and licked at her naked thighs. Instinctively Tracy tensed up and blindly kicked at Aticus, her knee finding his head and knocking him off balance, he fell away from her. Still disoriented, Tracy scrambled to her feet, her hand clutching at her wounded head. She was stunned to realize the wound was literally healing beneath her fingertips. She felt the skin draw together, leaving only dried flakes of blood on her scalp and in her hair. She reeled backwards, pressing her back up against the kitchen wall, trying to focus her blurred vision.
Aticus should have been livid, he should have seen it coming to begin with, but was not angry instead beaming with pride, a natural fighter. In one quick motion he restrained Tracy’s arms and leaned in for a closer look at her head. Her wounds were healing, this much he was sure and not sweating profusely yet, a good thing, he told himself. He pushed his cheek against hers to feel her temperature, careful not to release her arms and risk an attack again. She had a normal temperature, a good thing as well.
“Devil, why are you doing this to us?” Her voice was hoarse, just below above a whisper, but Aticus got the point. He leaned back from her, just enough to have room to react if she went mad again.
“Oh no, my dear, I’m not purposely trying to torture you. Your idiot husband was just in the wrong place at the wrong time…”
“And don’t forget his friends shot at us!” Lance interrupted, looking at Alex with malice and annoyance in his eyes.
Alex tried to speak but nothing would come out. Tracy glanced from Lance to Aticus, as if deciding a plan of action. Aticus checked the gun, and confident with what he saw, handed the weapon back to Tracy, handle first.
As soon as she snatched the gun from Aticus’ hands, Tracy slid away and leveled the gun at him. “It doesn’t hurt you to get shot in the body, huh? Well how do you like it in the head?” She roared, pulling the trigger.
The first shot left him teetering off balance as the bullet struck his forehead, two more and he fell off his feet and on the floor. Lance impulsively responded his fur rippling; his wolf-form flew away from Alex on the couch, heading straight for the gun in Tracy’s hand.
Fangs grazed Tracy’s hand as a muzzle clamped down onto the gun. A quick shake of Lance’s broad and powerful neck and the gun slipped from her hands. The wolf pushed the gun away on the tiled floor then rushed to a prone and still Aticus. The interlopers’ attention elsewhere Alex sprung from the couch and dashed to Tracy’s side, holding her protectively. She was trembling violently as the rust colored wolf snarled at them. The wolf lowered its belly to the ground, its forearms; wound like springs, claws dug into the floor, and raised its haunches and tensed, ready to pounce.
“Wait!” Aticus moaned, lifting a bloody hand up in protest. The voice was guttural and authoritative, making Lance’s Wolf form lower its head and tail and whimper with irritated obedience.
Aticus winced. After all, even after all the years he had to get used to pain being shot in the head still really fucking hurts, he told himself. He unsteadily staggered up from the floor, wobbly legged and light-headed. He felt around on his forehead. Two bullets had stopped cold lodged in his skull. Ice flicked them both out easily. A horrified screech from Tracy halted him suddenly, but then with a fanged smirk he proceeded to dig out the third bullet and toss it away.
“Watch them!” Aticus ordered, Lance obeyed, submissive and ready to please; his scraggly tail held straight up in the air erect. Confident that Lance had the situation under control; Aticus turned his back on Alex and Tracy to rummage around the house.
A clean shiny trail was made where Ice dragged his finger across a dusty book shelf. A glancing vengeful eye took in all the trappings of human society. A wedding picture of a young happy couple particularly angered him. He instantly snatched the picture up and smashed it to tiny sharp shards on the edge of the shelf. He closed his eye as glass rained down onto the shag carpeting. His migraines back now, his skull beating like a bass drum.
“You hapless, fucking naked two legs,” Aticus opened his eye, staring daggers at the couple huddled helpless before him. “You humans think you can do no wrong!”
Aticus slowly strolled over to the loveseat and end table, staring at the pretty little trinkets so neatly arranged before him. “You think you’re on top, the head of the food chain. You live in a delusional fantasy land and your blanket of denial keeps you warm at night, we and the other’s laugh at you!”
The others he had been referring to, other children of the night. He had come upon cousins of the werewolf, vampyres… if ever an equal to the lycanthrope the vampyre was one of them, specters and Shifters. Shifters were another matter altogether, shifters still confounded him. Through the centuries he had seen one or two of these strange men and women and they perplexed him. He knew his affliction physiologically material, the Wolf-essence intertwined with a human soul. He was aware of bundles of nerves firing all at once. He felt his body jerking, contorting, and bending into a new shape. Bones arced and twisted, as if they were the consistency of match sticks snapping. He could feel his skin stretching like a rubber band. Unlike him, the shifters would meditate and through consciousness invade the animals mind to do the shifter’s bidding. Or they would summon any animal spirit and put the spirit on as if it were a new suit. Although the human body seemed to transform all just an optical illusion in the mind’s eye.
Soon his thought process returned to the unfortunate humans again. What they didn’t understand they always feared and as a result the weak human-kind sought to destroy and to annihilate, that is what had happened to Aticus’ family.
Aticus strolled to the freshly painted walls, carefully picking up another portrait of Tracy and Alex’s wedding day. He sneered at the happy and smiling family consisting of father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, brothers and sisters in Alex’s side; then turned his attention to the great grandmother, grandmother, father and mother on Tracy’s side of the family.
Aticus thumped the back of his hand against the picture frame hard enough to shatter the small pane of glass. A low guttural growl could be heard from across the room, steadily growing in tempo, until Aticus exploded with rage.
“That is just so sweet!” Aticus spat, waving the picture at them. “Did I ever tell you I had a family once too?” He dropped the ruined picture to the floor and looked Alex in the eyes, raising his eyebrow, and waited for a response.
“Oh, Oh no, I guess.” Alex whispered quickly, glanced in Tracy’s direction, and then lowered his head again.
Aticus pushed between them, forcing Alex who stumbled back towards the couch away from Tracy. He suddenly flipped the coffee table onto its side to get closer to Tracy. She seemed to be frozen, hypnotized as she stood near Alex, but for all intents and purposes, 1,000,000 miles from him.
Aticus didn’t even give Alex a passing glance now, as he inspected Tracy’s eyes, seeing something in them that greatly pleased him. He could barely make out the green of her irises; only a small circle was left ringing the darkness of her dilated pupils.
“Yes I had a family, a family of wolves.” Aticus snapped, then woofed unintelligibly to his friend, prompting Lance to obey.
Aticus went on to tell the story to his captive audience about his birth. His dad, a nameless lycanthrope impregnated a normal Wolf Bitch. Two months later, Aticus and his litter of brothers and sisters were born.
It wasn’t a joyous occasion; the she-wolf had given birth to six pups. Of the six pups only three survived. She had given birth to three stillborn and those that had survived were weak. His brother had gray-black hair and brown eyes, a long bushy tail, and you could tell by his girth that he had not starved in the womb as much as the others. Aticus’ sister had long thin snout, blue eyes, and golden luxurious fur but she had been smaller and her white furred belly bore signs of starvation. Her ribs could be seen sticking out of her chest when she rolled around in the grass. The littlest of the canine litter, but she seemed happy-go-lucky, reveling in the night air, in the world, as she ran around blindly in circles, fearlessly dancing and playing.
“That brings me, to me,” Aticus said with a sneer, “one of the three that survived, the puny runt. I was born hairless, weak and defenseless, I was born human.”
Lance had returned with a glass of water and ice wrapped in a dishrag for Tracy. Trying to lay the ice wrapped rag on her forehead, he was met with resistance. As he reached for her Tracy’s snarling curled lip and exposed teeth made Lance hesitate.
Aticus smiled ear to ear as he took the cold rag and glass from Lance’s hands and gingerly placed the ice pack on Tracy’s forehead; his effort this time met with little resistance.
“There, there my dear,” Aticus said to Tracy softly, “are you thirsty?”
Tracy eyed him for a moment and then snatched the glass from Aticus’ hand, greedily gulped it down, spilling water all over her bra and down her stomach. Aticus removed the rag from her head and gently caressed Tracy’s cheek. She was coming along nicely, Aticus thought, and then he turned to Alex who stared at the floor in a catatonic state of fear and shock.
“Now where were we?” Aticus thought out loud, “Oh yes, I was born human, a puny human.”
Aticus glanced over at Lance, who was now sitting on the floor watching television, then continued with his story. He took Tracy’s hand and guided her to sit on the couch next to Alex. Robotically, Alex slips to the other side, breathing shallowly.
“A hapless human when I slipped form her loins, but it didn’t matter in the She Wolf’s eyes, I was her son.” Aticus said. “Humans hate what they don’t understand. They hate anything different, anything strange, and anything out of the norm. They self-righteously seek out and destroy anything which threatens their delusional idea that they are the superior beings of the world. The delusion of human superiority over animal makes me sick... You know, humans are animals as well!
“It was the animal that cared not what form I took at birth. The she Wolf took care of me. She nourished and protected me and my brother and sister, while our Dad was nowhere to be found.” Aticus’ lip quivered at the mention of his father.
Aticus didn’t seem to care who was listening anymore, going off on a tangent, lost in his own world. “When I first laid eyes upon a human, it was when my mother and brother were killed. We fled for safety to the forest, I, struggling crawl on hands and knees, my sister fleeing on four paws to spur her along.”
Aticus’ fists shook with rage in remembrance of this. Walking over to the half-eaten torso that still lay in the doorway, the thoughts and memories had his head pounding again as he motioned for Tracy to come to his side.
“The humans sickened me with their senses of entitlement, cutting down trees and clearing forests so they could make more villages… oblivious of the impact on the world and nature.” Aticus whispered to no one in specific.
Tracy obeyed Aticus, as if on autopilot she crawled on her knees to him. Aticus tore a chunk of bloody muscle from the torso, throwing it at Tracy who still sat on her knees. Tracy’s precipitous reflexes sprang into action and she snatched the meat before it hit the floor.
“My sister and I were left to fend for ourselves and figure out what this gift of transformation meant for us.” Aticus said, as the memories of the days gone by possessed him.
Down on bended knee now, Aticus reached to unclasp Tracy’s bra, as she tore into the flesh of Alex’s dead friend with abandon. He stroked her tangled hair and gently pushed her down, pulling off her panties freeing her for the transformation to come. Alex started to protest, but one dark look from an angry green eye, and Alex sat back down, silent. His stomach clenched with a combination of fear, a nauseating feeling growing as he watched Tracy writhe around on the floor, nude, and the he could hear the gut churning sounds of Tracy’s chewing, ripping, snarling, and grinding teeth. Alex finally leaned forward and wretched all over the carpet. He gasped and wiped his mouth as Aticus continued talking, seemingly unaffected by his reaction.
“My brother and mother were gone and I obsessed over my father’s absence,” he reflected on this for a moment, then continued, “Eventually my sister and I honed our unique abilities. We began to smell others that were just like us.”
Aticus glanced down at Tracy and smiled darkly, “That is when I smelt my father’s presence!” He paused for a moment, choked up at the memory.
Tracy had devoured all of the bloody flesh and now nestled up to Aticus, wrapping her arms around his hips and resting her head on his leg. As she looked up at him, in her eyes a mixture of admiration, respect, obedience and one of sadness at the story that Aticus told. This pleased Aticus immensely, not only had the Wolf’s Blood parasite traveled swiftly and directly into Tracy’s core, but her loyalty to the pack leader had met with little resistance, and had taken hold quickly.
“It took only a few months after we discovered the lingering scent of our father to reach him.” Aticus said softly, his emotions coming through as he slowly, delicately, and almost lovingly caressed Tracy’s bare back, running his hand all the way down to her rounded buttock.
Alex shook his head and closed his eyes, ashamed and angry. Ashamed that not only had he failed to stop these hostile invaders, but he believed that his wife’s inevitable rape was near at hand, perhaps only moments away, and he sat scared and powerless to stop it. Alex took a shuddering breath and Aticus spoke again.
Aticus described the scene in almost perfect vivid detail. How bursting out of the underbrush, his sister and he had seen dozens of pikes placed on top of a cliff. Even though he had been born human, Aticus’ mind was that of a wolf’s…and as such, all his instincts screamed run when he peered up the mount on an ominous scene.
Three corpses, all in different stages of decay, were skewered on the pikes. The salty sea breeze on the cliffs tickled the pair’s senses as they searched the smells on the air, the jumble of corpses and their scents, for their father before leaving the safety and concealment at the forest’s edge.
Aticus couldn’t help but stare at the three men stuck on pikes. A sickening feeling came over him like a weight heavy in his stomach, as if iron weights were weighing him down. Something was horribly wrong here, he could almost taste it. But in her determination, his sister would not be detoured. Ignoring Aticus’ warnings she stepped out into the sunlight…
“Ayaa, my sister, named for the sound that she first howled when she had been born,” Aticus said, visibly upset, each word sending a fresh ache of pain through his head. “Died that day…”
Aticus rested his forearm on the wall and looked out through the open doorway, with dawn approaching the ground was blanketed by thick undulating, virgin-white fog rolling slowly across the yard towards the highway. Aticus yawned, growing tired, but he knew he had to finish the story for his own sanity.
“I could barely handle the death of my sister!” Aticus suddenly beat his fist against the wall, giving everyone in the room a start. “We were born by wolves, so the passage of time had no meaning to us. We at least had each other before I lost her.”
“Then I had nobody.” Aticus’ story continued, “Sure…”
“I found my grandmother briefly before she slipped through my hands. And my cousin, Sacco from Ge’vaudan before he too was killed leaving me alone to negotiate the ways of the human world on my own again.” Aticus sighed, running his hands idly through Tracy’s matted hair, gently combing out the tangles.
The only sound in the room for a moment the clapping and laughter of another sitcom starting on Alex and Tracy’s flat screen TV. Both Lance and Aticus exchanged glances. A silent communication passed between the two men, prompting Lance to get up and start out the back door, shedding his clothing and transforming into a Wolf as he went. The previous silence in the room now filled with the Wolf Lance’s howls.
Now Aticus’ attentions once more turned to Tracy. Wiping away tears in his eye, Aticus checked the progress of Tracy’s transformation. She had grown six petite pale teats down her torso. Alex’s blood boiled as he watched Aticus caress and massage her shoulders, down to her back. She arched toward his touch, and Aticus gently pushed her down, straddling her. Alex’s face flushed red with unbridled anger. He could hear Lance outside and he decided that while Aticus’ attentions were focused on Tracy, it was the perfect opportunity to move. In a split second he grabbed for the lamp on the table beside him, preparing to jump up and swing at the man who was about to violate his wife.
Before Alex’s feet could even touch the ground, Aticus slapped his face. He had moved so quickly all Alex saw was a blur as the huge hand made contact with his jaw, shattering it. Alex was thrown back against the couch, and as Aticus’ left hand completed its arc, his right hand reached for the gun in his belt, flipping the switch to the silver dagger and swung it in the direction of Alex’s face.
“I thought you might survive the night, however, just look out the window,” Aticus said with sneer, “Dawn is now approaching and your time is up!”
Tracy heard the hammer as it clicked back. Despite the instinctive knowledge of a pecking order and compulsive need to be loyal to the Alpha wolf, Aticus, she instinctively moved toward her husband, whipping her head around and baring her teeth, a warning for the aggressor.
“Move, Tracy!” Aticus spat, impatiently waving the antique gun around.
Despite the fact that every cell in Tracy’s body told her to be loyal to not question or defy what the Alpha Wolf said, she stood fast, positioning herself between her husband and twisting her head around to block Aticus from taking a head shot at Alex.
“Fuck!” Aticus’ fangs involuntarily sprouted from his jaws making the word nearly incomprehensible.
Tracy growled, tensed to strike, until Aticus finally laid his firearm down. Aticus wiped the blood off his mouth. His jaw ached yet again, his biochemistry still unused to the quick, seamless, and usually painless metamorphosis he had previously grown accustomed to throughout the millennium.
Aticus agonized over Tracy’s actions. Her loyalty should be absolute to him, the Alpha leader. After all, Aticus exuded powerful pheromones, an intoxicating aroma which was always radiating out, and a subtle supernatural mind control that usually made it impossible to resist him, especially for the really young changelings, the weak-willed or the ingenuous; but not Tracy.
I guess love trumps loyalty, Aticus thought bitterly. After all, it had been love that had set the wheels into motion and sealed his fate of losing an eye and almost losing his life, and it had sent him fleeing to the old country in the process. Ironically, it had been love that had also saved his life when he was on the brink of starvation and it had been love that brought him back to the Americas. Outside, he heard Lance’s beautiful melody, inviting other lycanthropes to join the growing pack.
Aticus looked over at the frozen and angry person who used to be a lively Alex then over to Tracy who held her ground protectively. Maybe Tracy’s fierce loyalty would turn out to be a good thing, Aticus thought. The Wolf’s Blood already flowed and flourished in her veins without resistance. She was exceptionally strong willed and having her husband around may come in handy for controlling her until the transformation is fully realized, Aticus mused.
“There, there,” Aticus whispered softly in her ear, “I am a sucker for love. I won’t kill your husband.”
Aticus inhaled Alex’s shaking body and grimaced, from the smell of him the full metamorphosis would be all but futile, more than likely Alex would die in the process, however it would please Tracy and pacify her.
“Tracy, bite him.” Aticus commanded and then turned away from Tracy.
His back turned he could not see Tracy as she bit Alex. But he heard his screams and a sickening sound of crunching bone as her teeth bore down into Alex’s shoulder. Aticus smiled a smug smile. See, Aticus thought, Alex was finally useful. Tracy had immediately obeyed his order, Aticus again smiled smugly. He saw Tracy snuggling up close to her hysterical husband as blood dried on her chin. He saw Alex was already shivering and sweating profusely and his body had gone rigid. He shook his head in disappointment as he opened the front door to see the sunrise.