Wolf's Blood

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Arrival

Present day New Orleans, near the port authority, Louisiana


Lex Noralon greedily sucked down his fifth cigarette to the butt and smothered it against the rail of the freighter and then flicked it into the waters of the Gulf. He watched the cigarette as it was engulfed by swirling waves. He imagined it was him in the chilly waters, helplessly being dragged down into the murky depths of oblivion. He had a year’s worth of growth on his sun-ravaged face and his brown hair hung wild, down to his shoulders, very different from his usual buzz cut hairstyle when he was out of operation and land bound.

A chill ran down his spine as he donned his orange hardhat with a sticker that read, “Heaven didn’t want me, and Hell is afraid I’ll take over.” Lex was hardened by his years on the boat, six months on, then off, his schedule for longer than he cared to count, but even he knew the risks of docking. He had lost many friends to falls into the water because of slick bows, decapitation from frayed steel towropes or just plain inattention. But it did not stop him or detour him from the hazardous work imagining how he would spend a year’s worth of pay when he was ashore.

“Let’s get it over with.” Lex wiped off his hands on his pants, put on his utility gloves, and waved toward the people on the towboat.

Lex’s hard earned experience took over his body and he was on autopilot now. Hold the rope taunt, release; Hold it taunt, release, repeat the process until the freighter and the towboat were close together. He saw the tugboat rocked as the freighter and the boat banged together, the sound like nails dragging on a chalkboard, almost done with his job he told himself. Lex signaled for two additional personnel to tie down and attach the tug to his freighter then he was off to set up the load for transport to land.

He walked down the aisles of every storage unit of the football sized freighter painstakingly inspecting then securing the loads one by one; row upon row, aisle upon aisle. He mused at the multicolored cubes stacked up in a row until it towered three stories high like a giant game of Tetris. He feverishly scratched down the units on his clipboard

34

oblivious of the malevolent and antediluvian presence sleeping, feverishly dreaming, in an unlocked and open storage unit.

Weeks ago, Aticus had found himself a comfortable place among the dozen or so storage containers of the Poseidon ocean freighter headed for the Gulf of Mexico. Aticus the Wolf lay down curled up in the fetal position, muzzle touching tail. The rhythmic rocking back and forth by the churning, but by no means forceful, waves of the Pacific Ocean until it lulled him into an uneasy sleep. But sleep meant dreaming… where Alicia would be waiting for him. Beautiful young, straw colored long-haired Alicia, now the mesmerizing phantom of Aticus’ dreams.

He had been entertaining the thought that his time on this Earth had expired. He had even so far as trudged out in the form of a man to the unforgiving extreme North, somewhere between Siberia and the frozen seas, to live out his last day on this accursed planet. It had been a long trek, moving at a snail’s pace in knee deep snow towards a desolate wasteland, but he had found a perfect place to expire. It had taken months but he made it at last to his birthplace. It had been months of slogging through frigid temperatures and his bones ached. Meaning he could not transform into a wolf again. He laughed to himself a bit when he realized the implications of it all, that he would die humiliated and a man just how he came into this world; a humiliated, puny human infant born amongst wolves. He found a cave to protect himself from the elements and began to live out his last days as a man. After all, he was born a man among wolves; it was only fitting to die as one. Months turned into years, which turned into decades. Now emaciated from lack of food, the only source of water to drink being the falling snow, he had felt his time was near.

As he drifted in and out of consciousness he thought of vampyres, who are cursed to roam the land for eternity. He thought of Lucius and of their many talks. When he infiltrated and began masquerading as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. The sermon on Heaven and Hell and the eternal soul had him lost in thought for a time.

“I have no soul,” Lucius decided one lonely night when Aticus and Lucius were philosophizing, “that’s why I figure I am doomed to walk this earth for eternity. Heaven can’t take me; my body is of the earth.”

Lucius reveled in his self-pity for a while before ultimately destroying the church itself and every congregate he came across. Enter onto this stage the group called “God’s Light” or “Lumière de Dieu” in French,


“Lucem Dei” from the Latin or “La Luce di Dio” in Italian. It was a secret fraternity of extreme monks and holy men of all denominations which were hidden in the shadows of the church itself, hell-bent or depending on your perceptions, salvation bent, on the eradication and extermination of what they considered unclean abominations. It was for those crimes; the murder of the congregation and the burning of the church, that Lucius caught the attention of God’s Light and was hunted down and eventually captured just like Aticus’ grandmother had been.

Aticus thought if heaven could not accept a body without any soul what are the chances of two souls intermeshed as one, one Wolf and one man, being saved? Was there a second God specifically for his own race? Or was it true what the Baltic cult had once said, that werewolves were the dogs of God himself? They had said “Werewolves are the eyes of God.” He didn’t know if he believed that or not. He pondered that for a second, as he also pondered the Bible verses. Exodus 22:19 says “anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.” Leviticus 20:15 says “if a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death and you must kill the animal.” Leviticus 20:16 states “if a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” Deuteronomy 27:21 is “cursed is the man who has sexual relations with any animal.”

He had not decided whether or not he even believed in heaven or the pages of the Bible because he had been born from canines, his father was a lycanthrope who impregnated a real Wolf bitch. However, there had to be a reason the lycanthropes had their ritual bonfires when an unlucky werewolf had died, myth and legend had it that when a werewolf or for that matter a person, died not baptized he turned into a vampire forever cursed to roam the lands. He had never seen for himself a dead werewolf pop right out of the ground as a vampire. Aticus patted his lucky flintlock two-barrel loaded with silver slugs, but for that matter there was always beheading or a silver bullet to the brain as a guarantee that the unlucky soul could not return.

He laughed to himself, it would be just his luck, he thought, to come back cursed for eternity when it was eternity he was sick of. The first few months were almost too much for him to bear as the full Moon rose into the sky it took all of his willpower to not shed his human form and bound out on all four legs through the waiting icy night. He figured both shots of silver through the soft palate in his mouth, a sure shot to the cancerous pineal gland, and in his last dying moments he’d press the release that would spring forth the silver garrote, beheading him, and that should do the trick.

Twenty seven days for the parasite occupying his skin cells to die. Some infected smooth muscle cells only live an average of a few days. Infected white blood cells died after thirteen days, red blood cells died after hundred and twenty days, and liver cells died after eighteen months. Twenty full moons came went until Aticus was almost wholly human again and aging at an accelerated rate. Aticus looked upon his reflection in the glass-like ice on the sides of the cave and staring back at him was a decrepit stranger.

First his gaze wandered over his hands; long, thick black nails, now weak and fragile. Aticus could see the blue veins starting at the top of his palms rushing through his extremities, his skin now wrinkled, thin and almost transparent. Mesmerized by his skin and muscle that was once like marble, hard and smooth to the touch, now frail and wrinkled, muscles atrophied. He had been young, virile and muscular and now he shook in disgust mesmerized by his features.

Aticus stared at the body of an old man. He had grown a beard but it wasn’t his full shimmering raven black-blue hair, Ice scratched at the thin grey-black stubble that sparsely grew on his face now. It says that man could only survive for seven days without food, but not a lycanthrope. Six years without substance, just the snow to drink from, and although he was emaciated and hallucinating raving mad from hunger he still existed. His face now had skeletal features; cheek bones bulged through delicately brittle and wrinkled flesh. His green eye now dim and murky like the consistency of a cloud covered night sky, sunk in, discolored and blackened. His ribs protruded through his skin. He felt his time finally near but he was too weak to go for his gun, in fact he was too weak to move at all. Must rest, he thought, slumping against the wall and sliding down to the floor at the mouth of the cave. He lay down on the soft snow, he would dream until he drifted off into nothingness… snowflakes raining down on his frame like a soft cotton blanket tucking him in for his eternal rest.

Aticus awoke. His head felt like somebody was scratching nails on a chalkboard over and over again. Somehow slightly rested and renewed now he felt an unknown presence in the cave.

“Aticus!” The voice wasn’t coming from anywhere in the cave, he heard it in his mind.

“Aticus!” The voice in his head resonated louder now and hauntingly familiar. “Look at yourself...” Aticus complied; with his wrinkled hands he wiped the frost off from the sides of the mirrored walls.

“You were a proud strong lycanthrope, and oh how I loved you.” Alicia’s words were tender.

“Look at you, Aticus,” he complied again; looking into the improvised mirror and what he saw sickened him inside. He had looked at his image before but never stared at it as intently as he was doing now. “You were a strong, proud lycanthrope I loved you so much.” The air in the cave smelt like wildflowers and roses reminding him of Alicia’s scent.

Alicia’s scent was overpowering as Aticus closed his eye he felt her soft delicate hands rubbing his back then sliding up onto his aching shoulders. Afraid to open his eye lest Alicia’s phantom spirit vanish; he softly choked out, “I loved you too.”

Alicia slid in between Aticus’ arms and his frame resting her head on his chest. Her gold spun radiant hair tickling his whiskers. He opened his eye to peek at his reflection, the anxiety dwindling and vanishing as he looked at the reflection of Alicia, who didn’t evaporate. She had not evaporated at all. In fact, Alicia moved closer to Aticus and a sweltering heat filled his entire body. Nude she radiated an ethereal glow. She looked the same as Aticus had remembered; her long blonde silk hair, her flawless milky white complexion despite the fact she had been outdoors in the sugar fields for all of her adolescent life. Aticus could not tear away his gaze from her teardrop, doe eyes, clear as the ocean. He couldn’t help himself but to tenderly caress her long slender neck with his giant course hands. To touch her small firm breasts with perfect quarter shaped pink nipples that bared the evidence of the deathly cold of the cave. Aticus couldn’t help himself as he felt longing when he felt her toned abdomen with a deep belly button that looked like a question mark. His eye made its way down to curvy hips and the swell of her naked ass. His modest nature and love for Alicia made him quickly skim down past the soft blonde-haired mound between her legs; however, he stopped at her muscular taunt thighs. Thighs that bore evidence of her back breaking work on the plantation. Although her family had enough help that she didn’t need to offer to lend a hand.

The nearness of Alicia’s body exhilarated him as she opened her soft inviting lips and spoke once more. The way Alicia asked the question so innocently took him aback, “Why did you leave me?”

“I didn’t want to leave you, Alicia,” Aticus exclaimed defensively, “Your father attacked me! Wounded me! Once I was well enough to come looking for you, you were long gone.” And On the verge of shedding a single tear, Aticus struggled to compose himself.

Grief turned to rage as thoughts of some one hundred and seventy years came back to him, hitting home like a sledgehammer in his mind. Raping Aticus’ feelings and violating his perception. With shaking hands and gritting teeth he growled, “I told you! I told you humans wouldn’t understand!”

A sudden forceful gust of frigid arctic air infiltrated the shelter of the cave that had previously protected them from the worst of the elements. The wind stormed passed both Aticus and the ghost of Alicia reflecting the werewolf’s icy temperament. The squall dissipated but the real raging storm began when Aticus opened his mouth and spewed out hateful words that penetrated Alicia like a knife.

“I shouldn’t been so foolish to trust you, a furless two-legged human!” Aticus had been unconsciously gripping her shoulders tighter and tighter to keep the rage in but in doing so crimson trickled from Alicia’s shoulders as his nails broke through her delicate skin.

His rage gave way to misery, like a river that had grown too strong for its dam; a dam full of stress cracks, that breaks and floods the land, when he looked into her puffy, pain filled eyes. Her big doe like eyes bloodshot and filled with hot tears.

“I… I… am so sorry!” Aticus stuttered, profusely apologizing while gently wiping the tears that had fallen and began to pool on her cheeks.

“No you’re right Aticus. You were right all along.” Aticus froze, confused by the confession but he let her continue anyway. “When we left, Poppa whisked me away; I was so devastated I was so confused and lonely.”

“My poppa made me flee the state but three weeks after the loss of your eye….” Alicia caressed Aticus’ missing eye and then fondled his long grey flecked black hair. “I woke up in my old house… I was so confused, I dreamed, dreaming of wolves and of you.”

Aticus and the corporal ghost Alicia clung to one another, their foreheads touching as she continued.

“My Poppa was beside himself, he thought I was possessed. He had a mission that grew into an obsession to extinguish all wolves and all your kind that he came across.” She sighed then continued.

“He gathered groups of friends and hunters by the hundreds and slaughtered thousands upon thousands before he died of a heart attack. Once Poppa died the true horror began. With Poppa’s stability no longer in the picture to keep her in check, my stepmother went off the deep end, she went insane and looked towards me to blame the destruction of her house and the eventual death of her husband to unleash her anger upon. To alleviate the hurt, my stepmother forced me to the Sanitarium.

Aticus felt sick because he knew where this was going. He hugged her tightly, and Alicia invited him in for a long embrace, an embrace that interlaced two lovers into one.

“Alicia I’m...” Aticus tried to say he was sorry but Alicia interrupted him to continue with her story.

“The doctors from the sanitarium locked me away. I was devastated. I worried that the padded walls were all I was going to see for the remainder of my life. However, I somehow escaped and again I was at my father’s plantation pining for you, my love. Now the hospital looked for me and I was running from the law. People had trouble understanding me, hell I had trouble understanding myself!” Alicia sighed again and rested her head on Aticus’ shoulder.

Aticus cleared his throat, swallowed and began to ask the question he had been dreading to ask since he wrapped his arms around her, “You’re not with me anymore are you? Are you a ghost, Alicia? You feel so real I don’t wanna ever let you go.”

Her head no longer on Aticus’ shoulder. She began to smile shyly, the shy smile that melted Aticus heart so many memories ago.

“Oh my darling Aticus…” With both hands Alicia touched his bony cheeks then proceeded to interlock her delicate hands around his broad neck. “I died a long time ago of a broken heart and loneliness. You are dying now and that’s why I finally appear before you here in this desolate cave.” Proceeding to stretch up the length of his body, to Aticus’ ear, she whispered, “but I have a surprise for you darling.”

“A surprise… for me?” Aticus asked wonderingly, pressing her body tightly against his own, reluctant to release the ghost of Alicia.

“Yes, a surprise for you in the New World. Go to the New World at the plantation, where we first locked eyes on one another.” Despite his renewed vigor holding her tightly to keep her close the ghost of Alicia’s body evaporated from beneath his hands he could just make out her transcendent form and his decaying reflection in the ice.

“Don’t give up on me Aticus; you have much work to do. Avenge me! Avenge me and all the suffering that I received at human hands! Avenge what could have been of me and you. Go back to where it all began, back to my Poppa’s plantation and I’ll be waiting for you!”

Alicia floated backwards and began to merge into the icy rocks right before Aticus’ eye.

“No!” Aticus frantically reached out for Alicia’s quickly fading figure to no avail.

“No!”

“No!”

“Noooooo!” Clawing at the brick like buildup of snow and ice that had developed throughout the centuries until his hair and beard were covered in chips of crusty frost he screeched out again, “No!”

“No!”

His fingernails bloody from the frantic scratching of the mirror like ice he finally fell back onto his knees, he saw only his own reflection through the bloodstained cracked mirror, “No!”

The dirge of sorrow could be heard several miles away. The requiem of loss echoed through the wilderness frightening and stirring up birds that were able to survive the unforgiving terrain took up flight. The audible sounds from Aticus’ troubled slumber startled him awake interrupting the yowls of sleep panic.

Groggy but the fog of sleep quickly lifting; Aticus struggled to get off the ground, his biceps and shoulders stiff, sore, and inflamed. He saw black and gray fur mud covered paws where brittle wrinkled hands should be. A steady drip, drip, drip echoed throughout the cavern, the source the wet muddy underbelly of Aticus’ wolf. Drenched from muzzle to tail, Aticus the Wolf shook the saturated fur but it still dripped down and pooling in puddles that once were snow as steam choked the cave.

He realized to his surprise the steam came from his own Wolf body. The heat from his transformation, the metamorphosis like a nuclear bomb going off inside the body, making a damp muddy enormous circle in the snow. He must have transformed in his troubled sleep, the anger and anxiety of losing Alicia again had triggered the change.

Looking into a puddle that once was snowfall he didn’t even recognize his own lupine visage. What once was his ebony black fur, fur that was luxurious full-bodied, abundant and silky; now thinning at the muzzle and neck and his black fur now dull straw-like and peppered with gray. His only good eye, the eye that wasn’t covered by the makeshift bandanna/patch made up entirely of human skin stitched by ligaments made to replace the ragged and torn rag of long ago, now a pale dull and lifeless jade. His shoulder blades piercing through his skin and hackles now white as snow.

The Baltic cult was right, he thought, shaking the last remnants of his lucid dream away. He was the dog of God, a werewolf whose duty it was to keep the dirty, corrupt, polluting ever-expanding humankind in their place! He had a purpose!

The continual consistent pounding in his skull, the constant pressure in his head whenever he woke up for the day each and every day since Alicia’s father grievously wounded him, further solidified his resolve. Silver coins, some big, some small, some the width of a fingernail, all of the coins with humankind’s delusional men and women of importance throughout the centuries. Silver projectiles lodged into his face dangerously close to his brain were preventing him from healing and more importantly preventing part of his face from transforming back and forth, his visage a grotesque mixture of Wolf and man.

Closing his eye he saw in his mind the French and German monarchs, the faces on the coins, their power just a fantasy, he knew what he must do now. He could not waste away in this dank dark cavern of his. His refusal to transform had wasted him away, accelerating the aging process, until he was a crooked old shell of a man. However HE is the dog of God and had a divine mission to fulfill.

Stiff legged, he slowly crept out of his voluntary crypt and into the frigid openness. He howled once again, a wail that resonated twohundred miles away. Even when the baying could no longer be heard by human ears it wasn’t deterred, the frequency changing. An inaudible pitch heard worldwide only by lycanthrope. Invigorated with a higher purpose he began to walk but his legs still shook. So malnourished and dehydrated, Aticus started to walk but his legs shook and collapsed beneath him. His only hope a wail he sent off throughout the land. Fueled by Alicia’s haunting words, he started an agonizing crawl on his belly toward civilization before he fell into unconsciousness.

Nights turned to days then days turned to nights and back again all of them a blurry memory in Aticus’ hazy mind. Until a sudden ear shattering sound of blasting horns and whistles assaulted his senses and sharpened his cognizance. The crisp salt air and the steady rocking told him that he was on a ship, probably out on the ocean. Light filtered through the storage compartment casting an eerie shadow on the nude man sitting cross legged with his back against the wall staring at him. Sunlight from cracks and holes in the unit made the fiery red hair radiate from the nude man. Aticus’ heart raced as recognition washed over him. It was his pack brother, Lance, who heard his calls and came to his rescue.

Cooped up in silence and still starving, Lance was anxious to get out. Sustained on the bone marrow alone, it had been three weeks now. Saliva pooled beneath Lance’s muzzle, the prospect of just one juicy taste of the demolished boar’s scraps was almost too much for him to bear, but he had to wait until Aticus awoke. Aticus will be hungry too, and hunger will lead him to mind splitting headaches.

The aroma all about the small container excited him more than his pack brother, food. Lance remained true, loyal, and he found a course to America like the aria had ordered him to. Foregoing his own hunger for his alpha, Lance tossed the Wolf Aticus the much-needed sustenance. Aticus still in his Wolf body hesitantly staggered toward the bloody kill making sure he didn’t lose eye contact with his Wolf mate. He knew all too well that his position as alpha leader was conditional at best. He knew Lance had him at a disadvantage. Withered and tired, his dull fur masking wrinkled skin. He worried that any crack in the foundation of leadership and Lance could turn on him. The hungry Aticus growled a stern warning, step back!

“Aaaarooorrggrrrrr.” Lance snarled a subtle nuance of changing pitch, high and low treble and bass that human ears could not comprehend but it made Aticus at ease.

With his belly full for the first time, mind at ease, he looked over at Lance who now had transmuted into his Wolf form and was sleeping peacefully with his muzzle resting on his forepaws. Aticus found a comfortably padded place between well chewed hip bones and crates to lie down. He yawned, stretching to get comfortable as he fell asleep a smile on his muzzle, dreaming of Alicia, America, and New Orleans.

Lance put his snout up and sniffed the air around him, tail spontaneously wagging excitedly in response. They had definitely arrived onshore, and confident no one was snooping around the container yet Lance cautiously snuck up to the edge of the still ravenous Alpha Wolf. He gently nuzzled the nape of Aticus’ neck, lightly nudging him alert; growling snarl with fangs bared, Aticus slowly opened his eye. Lance retreated, his tail between his legs. The one eyed Wolf still groggy and sluggish. He had recently been dreaming, a beautiful lucid dream that he was reluctant to wake up from, about Alicia, beautiful Alicia welcoming him home. However, a wicked headache consumed him almost immediately. With a series of grunts and growls, Aticus issues his commands to Lance, who dances around the small storage unit panting excitedly, and then pushed his head against the door to slide it open.

Lance’s body went still, halfway in and halfway out of the storage, signaling with his raised tail that the coast was clear. They moved stealthily and in unison escaped from the confines of their makeshift cage and onto the deck of the cargo ship.

Lex stood writing down on his clipboard the serial numbers of the waiting storage units destined to go on the Ferry for their ride to the shore. Containers five or six high stacked up together like multicolored Legos. Diligently inspecting each container to assure himself that the contents were not tampered with, once he was confident that the storage unit was neither damaged nor tampered with, he assigned a number for it and moved on to the next row.

“That’s weird.” Lex muttered glancing up from his clipboard and check marks.

This storage unit door was completely open, he realized. He exchanged his pen and clipboard for a flashlight and walkie-talkie then proceeded cautiously into the dark interior of the open unit. The putrid smell made him pull up short and wretch. The smell of dead and decay was more than Lex could stand but he endured the stench and pushed further into the darkness with just the unsteady beam of his flashlight to lead the way.

“What the…”

His flashlight stopped abruptly over what he thought looked suspiciously like dried blood. He set down the walkie-talkie on a nearby crate and hesitantly touched the crimson crusted blend. He rubbed the reddish black substance between his first finger and his thumb, and then against his better judgment, he tasted it. On his tongue a familiar copper taste, it was blood. He cautiously moved forward checking the floor by each crate until from the corner of his eye he noticed torn up clothes and another red puddle shaped stain. With closer inspection he saw human and large animal bones; he frantically fumbled for his walkie-talkie, checking his dirty overall’s pockets, until he realized he had set it down on a crate near the entrance to the unit.

He heard growling emanating from somewhere nearby but he could not pinpoint the source of it. Lex hysterically moved his head back and forth the flashlight following, sending needles of light into the dark spaces around him. He spun around and saw that between him and the exit were livid glowing eyes that shone ominously at him, reflecting the light from his shaking flashlight’s beam. For a moment it felt like he was dreaming, after all he was on a ship, which had for months, navigated the Atlantic Ocean. There could not be a wolf stowed away on the ship but the rust colored wolf was there just feet from him all the same.

He used the flashlight like a baton instinctively, striking the Wolf in the muzzle as it crept closer, he a heard a snap as the Wolf yelped and covered its muzzle with its paws. He seized the moment, making a break for the open door but the wolf was on his heels, snapping at his feet, he scrambled to the right near some of the crates and up on top of them. Up on the crates he could see the walkie-talkie just a few feet from him, so frustratingly close to him. He tried to reach for the radio but it may as well been a gap the size of the Grand Canyon, every time he made an attempt to grab for the radio the Wolf snapped at his arm.

Lex prepared to strike out at the brazen Wolf again with his light baton, holding it high over his head but the Wolf stopped advancing suddenly, then incredibly it seemed to smile up at him. He heard a throaty snarl behind and above him. The short hairs on his neck stood up and his heart was pounding as he turned around. Above him in the pyramid of stacked crates, in the gloom, stood a formidable and even more massive raven-black wolf, one eye shining green in the dim light. He was now trapped with wolves above and below him.

The black werewolf tried to transform his paws into hand like claws, it was sluggish and painful. Cooped up for six months the Wolf had been, and now was too weak from hunger to metamorphosis. Lex tried to move but powerful haunches sprang forward, the beast leapt for his throat, knocking him down off the crates. He thought he heard the Wolf speak before powerful jaws crushed his windpipe in one fierce crunch.

“Starrrvving!”

Hot lifeblood spewed out of the man’s neck, wetting Ice’s muzzle as he gurgled and turned white. Lance, the rust colored wolf, cautiously staggered over to Lex’s legs leaving the entrails and heart, in fact all of the prized middle, for his leader. Timidly nibbling on his exposed ankle trickling with blood, his eyes affixed on Aticus, always alert, one sudden movement and Aticus would snap at him. The only sounds that filled the space were the ripping and tearing of flesh and the satisfied growls and snarls of the wolves as they glutted themselves.

Now with full bellies, the two wolves stretched their weary legs and fled their shelter, staying in the shadows until they were at the Stern of the boat. Aticus stretched his back in an arch trying to metamorphosis back into a man. A low raucous yowl left his muzzle, the pain too much for him to endure.

“What in God’s stormy hell?” The seaman yelled, his flashlight zeroing in on the two furry stowaways.

A crowd was gathering at the Stern, the dozen or so seamen were not prepared for what stood in front of them, as the two wolves stood their ground. A flash of tooth and nail had the seamen running for their lives. Screams pierced the night as they ripped into arms, legs and bodies. When the dust settled the wounded scuttled for cover, whimpering and crying out pitifully.

Aticus and Lance’s mouths were covered in blood from the men on the deck they had dispatched. It would not take long before reinforcements, this time armed, would arrive. The wolves had to jump ship. Aticus could smell the crisp clean air, the Louisiana border; with a grunt and a growl to command Lance they jumped overboard together, splashing down into the muddy Mississippi River.

They paddled upstream against the lazy currents until their paws were able to touch mud-covered ground. Panting from exhaustion the wolves dropped at once onto the solid ground. After a brief rest the wolves trudged along silently through the drone of cicadas and the occasional hoot from a tree owl. Sensing an inherent, ancient, preternatural presence, even alligators, such well-bred killing machines they went unchanged for centuries, cowered out of the wolves’ way.

The vicious attacks on the seamen brought about a deadly chain of events. Lance glanced over his shoulder, the terrified screams from the entwined freighter and Ferry momentarily capturing his interest. He paused to turn and watch the ships veer dangerously off course the ships grounded and capsized. Then an explosion rocked the land.

Lance shook muck from his mane and tail. Aticus tried to shake the sludge off his fur as well. He tried transforming back to a man in the glow of the burning river. Muscles rippled and bones cracked but still no change. The pain was unbearable as Aticus tried to metamorphosis again, and again failure. The ride to the New World severely weakening their systems, Aticus and Lance already needed to consume more flesh again. Aticus flung up his muzzle and let out a howl. An aria that only children of the night could hear,

“I am here, come to me, come to me and we will form a new pack. I am here, back in Louisiana, I am here. Find me and a new day will dawn on all of human kind!”

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