He softly spoke, "thank you."
He came in to So-seti’s room and remembered the kindly old nun who told him about the failed experiments. He couldn’t hide the signs of shock when he looked up at So-seti’s craggy visage, the creases that had deepened since even yesterday.
So-seti spilled out her secrets night after night in preparation for the next full moon. Lucius whispered to her a hidden pathway that led out of the God’s Light’s walls. She had not been out in the fresh air since she had been delivered to the God’s Light compound; however, she repeated whispered directions from an old friend. James could not wait to get out of the basement of the church. Both James and So-seti were silent, anxiously anticipating the sunset and what was to come of the shared knowledge when the full Moon started to rise. James checked the silver nitrate solution, two pints. He replaced the empty saline bag, and then he scrolled a report on the clipboard chained to the end of So-seti’s stretcher. “Thank you,” James spoke softly never taking his eyes off her while he withdrew from the room until he locked So-seti in for the night.
James fought back the instinct to stay with So-seti, to comfort her, conflicted between staying with her and testing out the ritual in the fresh air. But in the basement the absence of windows made him grow restless and he struggled into the elevator. A short trip, then a “bing” and the elevator doors opened.
He still had to finish up a report about an upper New York state area “Sasquatch” sighting. In his investigations the setting of a “Sasquatch” showed most sightings were just elusive werewolf sighting. A quick proofread to his finished report then he hit enter and was done.
James flew out the doors as quickly as his injured extremities would let him and he wasted no time finding the fissure in the wall. He finally found what he was looking for by an overgrown weed-filled area behind the General Store. Bamboo trees not native to California, but flown in and planted to increase the aesthetics, hid the great wide gap in the fortification where the concrete fell. Dirt and sediment poured in making a gentle sloping ramp up the ten foot man-made hole.
James made his way up and out to the freedom outside the compound. He found a massive ledge with a dozen or so mature blue oak and ash trees overlooking San Francisco. The altitude and the absence of the oppressive white lights of urban technology made the first signs of the first night of the full moon an impressive sight as he stared up at the brilliant silver moon seeming to burst out of the ground, the moon’s lights and shadows of the craters, hills and valleys begging to be touched.
Yesterday in the cover of night James picked a lone, healthy ash tree and then using a silver butter knife scored a circle all around the lonely tree spacious enough that he could dance around it as per Soseti’s instructions. With a shaking hand he plunged in his pants pocket, emerging with three copper 6-inch nails in his palm.
He had read several folklores about becoming a werewolf, but they were incomplete legends something for his curious mind to pass the time away. So-seti’s complete secrets solidified his resolve to see this experiment through, failure or success. He drew the copper bucket close to the ash tree and carefully stabbed the copper nail through the bark with his only useful hand. He repeated the process until out of nails, nine in all. Then he picked up a rock and pounded the nails a little further until sap came pouring out.
Now he found his ash tree and checked on the bucket, full of sap and illuminated by the light of the full moon. He set the lycanthropous flowers so they could bask in the full Moon’s light while he prepared. James crushed the mixture and drank it. Then he proudly chanted the secret hymn aloud. He saw the glowing full Moon while smearing the secret illicit oily substance all over his unclothed body. Dancing around the tree with the help of his cane, stumbling but never falling a dozen or so times, he made smaller circles while orbiting the tree so he could gaze upon the moon without any disruption.
He felt dizzy and unstable, his whole world spinning, he felt a pop deep in his brain just like the feeling he had before when he had had his aneurysm. His anxiety overwhelmed him and his heart fluttered. The hairs on the back of his neck and arms stood up at attention… his heart quickened, his skin thickening and fingernails bleeding as his fingers lengthened.
James’ spine began to crack and shatter into pieces as muscle and sinew contorting. Stem cells, satellite cells armed now with blueprints, started to convert James’ entire body. He opened his fanged mouth to howl out, a glorious commingling of wolf and human hybrid ready and fit for survival, an apex predator.
The transformation complete James felt electricity, his whole body the source of pins and needles, bizarrely he felt numb at the same time, an orgasmic release and an overwhelming bliss as synapses fired all at once. James knew no fear, no rational thought no consciousness, just the pure instinct that begat unadulterated power. Able to use all four appendages for the first time in a long time he stretched his limbs and scratched into the Earth with all four paws consecutively because he could.
A kaleidoscope of sight, hearing and smell merged into one great sense. James saw in a crude form of heat and night vision and the crisp magnification more than made up for red and green blindness. A lucid vision, like James’ mind floated over his wolf form while the wolf peered out at the mountaintop with his brand-new animalistic eyes. He saw the rural road far off in the distance too far for human eyes. Head lights from a stranded car got the brand-new wolf’s attention.
Hunger suddenly beset his belly; consuming his every primeval thought process. A low guttural growl could be heard coming somewhere in the wolf’s throat. He soon locked onto the stalled car just like an infirm and incapacitated animal cut out from the herd. He could see a motorist furiously changing a flat tire. Sniffing the air all around him, he reflexively cringed. The stale stench of an overcrowded decadent human population nauseated the beast, the pheromones of fear, helplessness and despair. Carbon monoxide exhaust and the faint smell of cheap cologne wandered up the elevation watering his eyes.
Somewhere in his hazy and rudimentary consciousness he remembered a voice whispering that if it could be helped, stay away from the humans until you’re more knowledgeable and skilled in the ways of the wolf. Concealed by the darkness in the rocks of the crag the moon’s light captured the mountain lion’s eyes betraying its position.
Instead of bouncing down from the mountain to attack the stranded motorist he turned to attack the mountain lion. A hiss of warning then a shriek of pain as the wolf swiped the lion in the thigh. A fury of fangs and claws ensued. The lion’s front claws lengthened exposing nails, rearing up on hind legs the injured limb hung limp while the lion’s good paw swiped at the aggressive Wolf. The claws did not penetrate the wolf’s thick fur and tough skin. Now the wolf had two limbs to clutch onto the lion and it was not long before the brawl was over. The wolf’s teeth eagerly bit down into the lion’s exposed neck, golden fur turning a dark sticky maroon as the rest of the lion’s limbs went limp.
He let loose a cry of joy, a howl that could be heard for miles over the mountain tops, he recollected through the fog of consciousness the orders given to him by So-seti. With a full belly the wolf sat on his haunches, content, the wolf’s muzzle dripping with lion’s blood. He let loose the aria of loss, a tale that can be heard by Aticus, the original target, far off in Louisiana.