Outskirts of Pointe Coupee Parish
The black, one-eyed Wolf appeared from behind the Cyprus. Muzzle a rust colored, crusted, congealing mess from his fresh kill. It was not human but it satisfied his love for the hunt. He licked a huge rock. Saliva made the rock melt away, salty molecules falling, hissing and bubbling as they hit the ground. A trick he learned from his sorceress mother the solid mass gave way to Aticus’ clothing including his wraparound sunglasses, homemade patch and precious black military style boots. Aticus was dressed before he darted toward the owner, Michael’s, shack. The agonizing sounds coming from the shack had him kicking himself; he couldn’t believe he let Michael talk him into trying to change Ken, his best friend and roommate. Something about Ken just smelled weak.
Aticus skewered a piece of meat on a spit then tossed it onto a makeshift barbecue pit. The gem reflected through Aticus’ wraparound sunglasses as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. With one quick motion he leapt on top of the tin roof of the shack, the thin tin resonated like thunder as his feet hit. The shack groaned surrendering to his weight as he walked to the edge giving him full view of his surroundings. First they infected the outskirts of Royal Bay then they circled the town of New Roads, then Batchelor, before Aticus set his sights to yet another town. Aticus grimaced in disgust, fangs bared; several improvised dens made a circle on the outskirts of Royal Bay. They were strategically perfect but he found five decapitated homeowners and burned out homes. He knew this bedlam had to be Devon’s work but he was staying at Point Breeze Motel the self-imposed save zone. But he considered himself a man of his word so no harm would come to the patrons staying at the Point Breeze but was he to step out of the Motel area and all bets were off. Michael’s shack, an isolated pastoral, stood out amongst Pointe Coupee, West Feliciana, and Concordia Parishes and at the Mississippi state border. Aticus’ inner circle consisting of Lance, Montezu, Tomas, Tonya and Aticus’ had grown. Oung from China arrived by freighter to the New World. He had blue black luscious hair tied up, braided and evergrowing because of commands of his Tao religion. Then came O-Kami from Japan tattooed from neck to torso with inks infused with liquid silver.
His stature like a general, shoulders high, arched back, legs straight, and his arms crossed as he gazed out at the Parish borders. Except for the shack, which he was standing on top of, there were no houses for miles. A sly smile exposed his long canines an ideal place for the pack’s next makeshift den. Michael, the occupant of the shack, had been responding well to the parasite. Now he was excited, he had the plantation in his sights. Lance was off observing the group, including Devon at the Point Breeze Motel. The group would travel back and forth to Raccourci Island with Sarah who was sprucing up her inherited acquisition. When anyone ventured out too far, with Aticus’ orders Lance would be in position and ready for action.
The snow white fur shone in the sunlight as a huge white-furred wolf, Montezu, appeared out from the woods, the Cyprus’ giving way to his large snout. Ears twitched involuntarily as they zeroed in on the faint sounds of movement. He had six alternating large and small studs that came to a point screwed onto his skull and his dark gray eyes radiating translucent flecks of red, animal eyes. He morphed from wolf to man without stopping. He got a robe and pants from a clothesline near the shack and with one fluid motion he was dressed. His hands gripped the top of the shack and he jumped onto the roof feet first like a gymnast.
“There are five hunters a mile and a half towards the Cyprus, close to the swamp.” Montezu reported patting his old friend on the back. “An arsenal of weaponry in their truck, at hand there are three with shotgun, two with rifle, looks like they’re hunting… for us.”
“Keep an eye on them,” Ordered Aticus, “they get any closer. We may have to kill them.”
Aticus tried to refrain from chuckling but failed. Montezu’s accent was a really strange and amusing mixture of Mesoamerican and FrenchCanadian. Born 300 BC in Mesoamerica, now Honduras, he had been one of the Nahual tribe. When the wolves retreated further north the tribe migrated too. In time the wolves and the Nahual tribe were hunted to near extinction and truth gave way to folklore.
Sadly the Nahual, once great werewolves, became just another shape shifter legend. And wolves gave way to indigenous animals over shadowing the once great Nahual tribe. Temple carvings that depicted wolves got interpreted as dogs, and carvings that depicted the Wolf man beast got interpreted as donkeys.
When Stefan was killed Montezu headed to the extreme north, tired of the heat and to clear his head. He and his indigenous wolves made their way to Canada. He started a new pack that soon worshiped him like a God, however boredom made him insane. Aticus’ howls had made him drop what he was doing and Kill all of his followers and look for Aticus who returned to the new Americas. Being a blood-soaked warmonger He was distraught when Aticus told him that several big wars had come and passed. Two wars specifically, World War I and World War II, which had almost all the countries involved. Montezu kicked himself for missing both.
“Tomas and Lance should be back from patrol soon.” He looked at Montezu who was staring at the ground. His body had gone rigid mentally trying to lighten his weight for fear of the roof collapsing under his feet. “Good,” Aticus stomped hard at the roof with his boots making Montezu flinch,” Don’t worry my friend, it’ll hold.” He chuckled; amused by the fact this ferocious man had a horrible fear of heights.
He looked up at the full moon still present with the rising sun, just about 5 AM. With his preternatural ears he could hear commotion coming from the tin shack and it pleased him immensely. Up on his feet now the occupant stumbled around the trailer. He didn’t even need to turn around he could faintly smell his fellow pack members returning, Tomas retiring from the patrol out from the woods and Lance back from monitoring the hotel where Devon and the others were staying. Aticus jumped from the top of the shack down to the ground as the shack rocked catching him off balance Montezu’s eyes widened.
“There is only one main road out of town to the interstate, a back road but it leads to a small creek with a bridge easily gotten rid of.” Tomas Reported matter-of-factly morphing from a wolf to man and getting dressed from a clothesline tied up from tree to tree.
Tomas’ proud cheekbones and red brown dreadlocks which were more like fur than hair, now hidden when he flipped up the hood on his robe but his cheek and nose visible in the sun light. Navajo born, the last of his line of the legendary skin walkers with natural blue black hair gave way to reddish-brown fur. His canines gaining four sets of teeth several decades ago made his jaw more pronounced. Lance’s wolf morphed into a human and put his pants on still shirtless. He liked the way the sun felt on his back and the wind felt through his red chest hairs.
“We found five phone towers and two auxiliary electrical stations leading down to one main station.” Lance ran his fingers through his bright red hair. “Say the word Aticus and I can have it destroyed in a matter of moments.”
Lance absolutely loved being a werewolf; still young enough that his enhanced senses, preternatural strength, agility and healing ability exhilarated him. Before the change he had been dangerously obese, feverish with smallpox and at death’s door, Aticus gave him his salvation. Now he was healthy, lean, and muscular could run a marathon without getting winded. He felt Aticus was a father figure to him and he would stop at nothing to please him.
“I could call the wolves.” Montezu suggested.
“No, not yet, patience my friend,” Aticus ordered.
He knew Montezu could control and command real wolves, a consequence of his blood line but he felt the time had not come yet. All in good time, as the pounding in his head increased, only minor setbacks Aticus thought, all on track with his master plan.
Tomas and Lance leapt onto the porch spurning Montezu to do the same his confidence increasing when his feet touched the earth. Followed by Aticus, The one eyed leader nodded an order but he was lost in thought, he motioned at the door. The shack door slid open, surprising the wolf-man, Michael Miller, who resided inside. The wolf man’s ears twitching he stopped his destructive tantrum as he spun around in the direction of the four intruders. He growled a warning, fangs snapping like chattering toy teeth at four interlopers invading his home.
The monster towered in the hallway he looked like a giant in the shack, arms outstretched with talons scraping each side of the trailer walls making a shrill sound that had Tomas shuttering. Thin and tall, it was the first time the Metamorphoses come upon him but he already had reversed knees, tail, and the short but prominent muzzle.
Aticus crouched down and slowly crept between the sliding door and the hallway. Michael’s growl began to get louder, his ears laid back warning Aticus of an immediate strike. He had a tear in his eye like a proud father looking at his baby for the first time. Michael the wolf man had responded to the parasites more quickly than Aticus had ever hoped. Surprised to see the tail and the reverse knee form for Michael so quickly because in his vast experience it usually took two or three Moon cycles before the infected started to see significant lupine-like changes.
Aticus’ forearm hairs thickened and his talons burst out of his skin as he shoved Tomas and Lance back targeting his frenzied progeny. He flew forward squeezing Michael’s thick hairy neck; the foreword propulsion knocked Michael to the floor. Michael’s neck veins bulging as all Aticus’ weight pressed down on his chest. His claws tightened like a vice, squeezing the life away from his body.
“Boy! I own you... It would be in your best interest to settle down like a good pup!” His voice was stern but no hint of anger. In fact he was exhilarated to see what rage Michael had in him. “Settle down boy and I’ll release your neck.”
Michael struggled a moment or two more but then his body went limp and he urinated on himself, a sure sign that Aticus knew he would be complacent. Aticus spoke softly, “That’s it, good boy, that’s it.” Slowly, he stood up relieving the pressure on Michael’s chest allowing him to breathe again. All said and done, Montezu slapped Aticus on the back of the head playfully shoving him against the wall.
“You prick,” Aticus said smiling playfully as he retaliated forth with.
Lance made himself home slowly strolling past the small dining room towards the kitchen. He really loved this place and he could see why Aticus had picked it, “In the boonies,” He said to himself. After the scuffle Lance made his way to the kitchen counter where the alcohol was kept. Bottles and bottles of alcohol, so much alcohol it was hard to pick just one spirit. Lance picked out his favorite poison then he drank a few swigs from the bottle before pouring himself out an ounce and a half in a shot glass. The quiet surroundings reminded him of his favorite horror movie.
Exclaiming, “No one can hear you scream!” He howled at the top of his lungs then swigged another shot.
Montezu was irritated at the corny “Aliens” reference. It irritated him, Lance’s obsession with 20th century movies and television. Most days, Montezu mused, Lance was just a human playing a wolf.
“Lance I need you to take Michael for a walk,” it amused him every time he referenced the new changelings like a puppy, “Before he gets antsy again, I’m beginning to get a headache and I need to talk to Tomas privately.”
Lance fixed himself another double shot, downed it, and then grudgingly did what he was told, “okay.”
“I’ll go with you,” Montezu had just gotten comfortable on the couch but he saw the disappointment in Lance’s face so he got up on his feet, offering his company.
Aticus heard the door slide shut as he attempted to straighten up Michael’s mess. He turned over chairs until they rested on their legs. Then he quietly and carefully placed decorative statues upon the entertainment center then headed toward the hallway to the three back rooms of the shack.
He closed his eye as he entered a side room, one of three the fragrant scent of the lilies and fresh pine needles over taking him. Only clairvoyants or those “blessed” with the third sight could see her, Tonya, she wasn’t physically in the room but he knew she was there. With his Wolf eyes he could even see her ghostly silhouette sitting cross-legged on the floor.
“Tonya.” Aticus shouted out in his mind.
His thoughts were answered almost instantaneously as Tonya materialized. Her ethereal figure turning to flesh and blood her smooth caramel skin and naked appearance made Aticus blush as his loins ached from wanton. Her luxurious Raven black hair came down strategically to cover her naked breasts. Her blue wolf eyes gave the appearance of a normal human and they shot daggers towards Aticus’ direction.
“Yá’át’ééh shitsóí, Aticus.” Tonya greeted him.
A Navajo greeting that she knew Aticus couldn’t understand. She said hello in her native tongue. But it wasn’t just “hello” it translated to, “hello, my young child,” a rib at him as the alpha male. But she said this with a smile and a low smoky voice that Aticus loved so well she hoped he would be oblivious to the veiled insult.
Playing a dangerous game she gathered a white silk robe from the closet but slow to cover her body up knowing Aticus would stare at her longingly. Angry with him for the death of Stefan and furious for the fire that almost cost her life she found herself conflicted. Strong pheromones swirling through the air made her strangely attracted and obligated to him, but she found herself repulsed by him at the same time.
Aticus looked her up and down his manhood stirring but he stopped at her scarred calves and thighs a constant reminder that if she wasn’t a shaman and could become ethereal almost in the blink of an eye his impulsive rage would have cost her life. Tonya wasn’t going to forget about it any time soon either prancing around him day after day naked for the entire world to see but denying him even a touch.
“Is there any progress with Oung?” He asked. Tonya was terribly close to Aticus now, a deliberate calculation to get under his skin, he thought.
“Oung says, ‘Ni hao’.” Tonya jokingly smiled as she tried to pronounce the Mandarin language Oung had taught her.
He stifled a laugh as she said this, butchering the pronunciation of the Chinese hello. He didn’t know Navajo but he did know Mongolian, as evidenced by his Mongol like features. He could translate many more Chinese dialects even some dead forgotten ones.
Aticus had started to feel small around her, insignificant. But her shaman ability to enter dreams and teleport had become priceless. An intricate part of his plan she could eaves drop on both Oung and O-Kami. Oung able to transport his wolf-self halfway across the world and O-Kami could transport and control a pack of spirit Wolves in his trance like state to crush those who opposed him. No matter how he felt about her she could be aware of them anywhere they were.
“Is Oung out of his trance yet?” As he said this he consciously bit his tongue the desire almost too much to bear but the headaches he suffered had come back with a vengeance. Aticus’ body severely shook as if he had mild seizures withdrawing off a dangerous drug.
She spoke in her smoky, broken English voice, “No, not yet, but he has picked up the scent of another werewolf.”
“Oung has tracked a lone straggler into the icy forests of Siberia.”
Tonya almost touched Aticus’ chest the anticipation killing him, too much for him to bear as he flexed his chest. Tonya saw what he was waiting for and drew her hand away teasing him. Tonya’s loyalty never in question and it pleased him but since the fire and subsequent death of Stefan she punished him in other ways. When in heat she would run off and mate with real wolves instead of Aticus. The evidence of her infidelity could be seen chained up by the shack, three Wolf pups sleeping peacefully under the porch hidden from the sunlight.
“O-Kami?” His voice broke.
“He is with Oung tracking the Wolf, patience, my sweet Aticus, I’ve been all around the world already today; my psyche is tired and needs rest before I can teleport again.”
Satisfied with her answer he calculated his next move when Tonya spoke again.” I’m going to check on MY children and then I’m going to go on a run to clear my head.”
The emphasis on ‘my’ angered him provoking a response, “You’re a true bitch.”
“True, I’m a bitch,” she uncovered her silk robe to reveal her forbidden Garden of desire and her horribly scarred legs.
“But you’re a murder.” She said this also with a smile, the death of Drake, her son, was still fresh in her mind. At night he could hear her howling a funeral dirge and some nights searching for him in her dreams.
“You know if you make love to me the scars will eventually go away.” He said this matter-of-factly, taking full advantage of his special ability.
Only it wasn’t exactly Tonya’s emotional and physical scars he worried about, he longed for Tonya’s ability to enter dreams and teleport. After Aticus was wounded and suckling at Tonya’s teat and in between the terrible fire she gained her abilities by having sex with an unknown werewolf. Aticus so badly wanted this power.
“Sure and then you would have the power of the Shaman and have no use for me. No thanks, I’d rather die than have sex with you.” And with that she turned and walked out of the room, Aticus closely shadowing her.
Aticus retired into the bigger master bedroom in back with Tomas shadowing with a drink in hand ready to offer it to his leader then he retreated to the rocking chair where he sat quietly. Aticus walked over to the quivering lump in the living room. The quivering form, the paramedic, Cody…
Cody had awoke from his cold, dead slumber, finding himself in a body bag in the morgue the following night when the full Moon though recessing had made its way across the sky again. Dr. Jacobs had just finished pulling out the three slugs from Cody’s body and he reached for the rib-cracker, preparing to open his chest but before he had the chance to begin the autopsy, Cody’s heart began to beat again, pumping the parasite all through his veins.
The abomination’s body shook transmuting right before Dr. Jacobs eyes. Dr. Jacobs froze with a scalpel in one hand and the rib-cracker in the other. Cody started to look like a combination of the paramedic’s youthful face and a furless short muzzled, dog-like creature. The forehead gushed with fresh blood from his bullet wound and his cheeks and chin were boiling from the extreme heat of the transformation.
Cody’s biceps were engorged, floppy hands struggling to drag his useless limbs off the resting place on the stretcher. The body fell clumsily; his paralyzed feet plunged down onto the cold hospital floor. Dr. Jacobs’ terrified eyes could not drag himself away from the animated monstrosity headed straight toward him. The gore pooling up from Cody’s fresh bullet wounds in his abdomen. Blood staining the concrete floor as it spread, congealing blood making a trail straight for Dr. Jacobs. Cody’s mutating body slithered like a snake heading straight for him. He watched in horror as Cody’s spine contorted, arching almost out of his skin then whipping back again. His coccyx lengthened the skin stretching until a small hairless tail emerged out of the reanimated man’s nude buttocks. His hands like silly putty stretching, the fingernails lengthening, reached out for Dr. Jacobs. His wild eyes filled with pain, shock and confusion. Skin stretching to accommodate his ears as they began moving, growing, spreading out and reshaping like triangles, then falling in on themselves.
“That’s impossible!” Dr. Jacobs found himself shouting. “You were dead! Weren’t you?”
Dr. Jacobs hesitated, He did not run, He did not scream as the monstrosity named Cody enveloped him. He managed to drag his paralyzed legs along the way assaulting Dr. Jacobs without any hesitation. Cody’s fingernail beds bled as the nails darkened and lengthened. Dr. Jacobs gathered his wits about him just as Cody’s bloody fingers tore his white lab coat and cleaved through a button up shirt, tearing the exposed flesh.
Dr. Jacobs could not get out of Cody’s deadly embrace. They were locked together in a macabre dance, each one whirling about, Cody’s useless legs just along for the ride until they both twirled around knocking down a tray of sterilized equipment contaminating the contents. When the stainless steel equipment hit the hard concrete floor the resulting bang resonated throughout the room. Steel instruments clanging against steel which tore through and violated Cody’s sensitive ears. Cody instinctively let go of Dr. Jacobs and put his hands up to his head protecting his ears. Without the support of his hands resting upon Dr. Jacobs’s shoulders Cody’s body flopped to the floor.
Dr. Jacobs realized with Cody’s claw-like hands protecting his ears and balled up in the fetal position on the floor a perfect opportunity of escape and he instinctively made a break for the doors. Dr. Jacobs didn’t stop running through the corridor and down the employee only steps until he made it to the cafeteria. Stopping only to catch his breath he realized the scratches he received had broken skin and now he bled through his torn shirt.
Dr. Jacobs wildly looked around behind him again, nobody coming for him. Assured that he had not been followed by this nightmarish monster he sat down on the nearest chair. In shock now and going down the long deep road to madness he hysterically laughed. Chuckling, surely without a body to deal with the center of disease control would be wrapping up their case, he thought.
When a sufficient amount of time had passed Dr. Jacobs got up on wobbly legs and proceeded to exit the cafeteria only stopping when the cashier looked at him wild eyed with bewilderment and noticed his disheveled appearance and noticed the blood on his chest.
“My floor drain, it backed up! It is a bloody mess literally!” Dr. Jacobs tried to hide the bloody scratch marks by putting his palm on his heart as if he took an oath, pledging his allegiance to the United States of America.
The cashier opened her mouth preparing to speak but Dr. Jacobs cut her off, “I think I have it all cleaned up, but now I’m exhausted!” He grabbed a dozen or so napkins from the dispenser then looked her in the eye, “I really need coffee!”
Dr. Jacobs dabbed at the clotting blood with a napkin. He sipped on his coffee. He found himself on autopilot, trying to make his way back to his morgue counting tiles along his way. No trail of blood coming from the exit doors to the hospital.
Dr. Jacobs timidly pushed at the double doors, wholly expecting an imminent attack by the horror inside. He blinked his eyes rapidly, holding the hot coffee cup at the ready, preparing to throw the scolding hot liquid if accosted. He opened his eyes wide to see that blood had pooled on the concrete floor but nobody stirred within, just the two corpses lining the walls waiting to get examined. No monster moving within the room at all.
The advantage of being human was having an ability to rationalize the strange, the unusual, and impossible. As soon as Dr. Jacobs got away the pathways in his brain rerouted with every step he took until delusions filled his mind rationalizing the insane reality he ran away from. A saving grace throughout history when a human being rarely happened upon a lycanthrope fog cloaked his mind until he rationalized the surreal moment. The feeble nascent mind cannot fathom the preternatural event causing insanity. Resulting in a feverish denial, the mind rejects the bizarre and strange probability that they just saw.
Maybe Cody wasn’t dead at all! Maybe Cody made up the elaborate ruse to escape the police! Maybe some chemical had spilled in his morgue explaining the hallucinations. He checked several bottles of fluids spanning wall-to-wall on the shelves. Yeah, that had to be it he convinced himself. Unbeknownst to Dr. Jacobs, Cody had mauled another person just outside of the hospital.
Cody escaped from the hospital morgue; he found his way back to the relative safety of Aticus’ improvised den, his useless half-formed hairy legs trailing behind him. When the full Moon finally regressed for another month the animated body grew still once more, his heart stopped pumping, the grievous injuries just too much for Cody’s body to bear. Yet Cody had come to Aticus so he tried to protect Cody’s lifeless body until the next full moon. He somehow hoped Cody would come out of his stupor. With the full Moon the heart would beat once more. A comingling of lupine form would repair the damage that had been done to his severely wounded body. But the brain and spinal cord had atrophied beyond repair even the parasites could not save him. Aticus could tell by Cody’s decaying smell and his hazy eyes, His body was rotting away, he would not survive.
Aticus shook his head in sorrow and disgust as he remembered the day and he had come home to him. He stared at Cody’s broken form writhing around in agony the parasites trying to heal broken neurons.
“Oh my boy, I will miss you,” Hesitating he cocked back both barrels fired both slugs that found its target, entering Cody’s forehead.
The antique gun still smoking as he flipped a switch that revealed a silver bayonet and with one well-aimed strike the pineal and pituitary gland burst like a grape under a boot. He went on to sever Cody’s spinal column between the third and fourth vertebrate.
Aticus tussled Cody’s hair a moment before sitting down right next to Michael’s friend, comatose on the couch, “He has no hope for survival.”
He found the remote to the radio and turned it on to a metal station oblivious to the comatose body sitting right next to him. The rhythmic electric guitars and the tribal like drums always soothed him and somewhere deep inside exciting him.
Aticus’ eye squinted, rolling compulsorily, his fingers rubbed at his stiff neck as he remembered the night he futilely tried to facilitate Ken’s transformation. He had been growing weary, impatient and running out of things to try. He clicked the double firing pins into position and rested the antique shotgun barrels against his chin a habit he had every time he grew frustrated.
Michael Miller’s “walk” now finished, the moon receding, making way for the sun he had become human again. Aticus heard the sliding door. Michael’s legs weak like wet noodles slowly stumbled into the cramped living quarters.
“I really wish you wouldn’t do that!” Lance said hoarsely entering the trailer after Michael, motioning at Aticus with the loaded gun resting under his chin.
“Oh you’re no fun,” Aticus scoffed, his thin, pale lips cracked a smile and put the gun down.
Aticus looked upon Michael with a proud eye, responding well to the parasite, Michael surpassed his expectations. His sickly thin druginduced body now filled out getting meat on his frame. His long face and dark sunken eyes now Rosy and full, his eyes brightened a bit. Shirtless, wearing only shredded jeans and barefoot his stomach now rounded and slightly plump. Michael crouched down next to his comatose friend gingerly touched his cheek. Aticus couldn’t help but remember the events leading up to Ken’s body thrashing about going into a seizure.
“I think he had a stroke.” Michael said looking at his friend’s eyes. Evidenced by the right eye blown out and blood-filled, right cheek sagged and sunk in. His right shoulder prostrate and lifeless as well.
“Dammit!” Aticus had tried every ritual and potion he could think of, whatever it would take to get the parasite to finally respond to his body, but it had been all for naut.
Michael said meekly pointing at the crumpled up pale thing, “He’s not showing any signs of change.”
Ken, Michael’s friend and roommate a boy in his late teens lay in his own vomit on the floor. Shaking slightly, he laid out in the fetal position. Aticus’ sharp claws man-handled the boy’s head roughly, a vice like grip on his chin; crimson drops trickled down Aticus’ palms coming from the pale man’s pierced cheeks. Coming up so close to him their noses touched. Sniffing him, licking him, and then looking into his eyes. His face went red with frustration.
“You may be right,” Aticus’ claws let go of his head leaving him unbalanced his chin dropping down and hitting the armrest with a snap, the bones breaking.
He impatiently unfolded an old fur covered rug, It was a gray and black skin Wolf pelt. He threw the pelt across the meek man’s shoulders. He slathered a sticky black solution all over the man’s face and hair then carefully put the wolf head rolled on top of his head. Finally it seemed to work, a guttural growl starting in Ken’s throat spewed forth louder and louder before his body suddenly stiffened and arched. His eyes rolled back foam billowing forth from his pale lips like a volcano erupting... Now Aticus shook off his thoughts and Ken’s pale lifeless form made him sick to his stomach and he felt his migraine coming back.
Aticus turned his back to the man and picked up his gun, “I can’t watch this, discard him deep in the forest,” Aticus closed his eyes, frustration setting in, his headache worsening, rubbing his temples. This is hopeless, he thought growling with frustration.
Tonya entered as a side door flew open, the trailer rocking and the pitcher frames rattling on the walls, “what are you doing?”
“What?” Aticus opened his eye to see Tonya on top of him.
“He could yet survive, you ass!” She was instinctively beating on Aticus’ bare chest.
Quick hands stilled her torrent of blows. He increased the pressure on her wrists until she settled down. “What are you talking about?”
Tonya rubbed her aching wrists, it was foolish for her to challenge her alpha let alone beating him she thought, but she could only take so much before she snapped.
“He could yet survive. He could have changed. It could take six months for a normal human to Metamorphosis!” Tonya spit.
“Sadly, no he is not, if he does transform he’ll head home,” Aticus said matter-of-factly. He turned his back on her, a challenge and a test.
“But I know medicines…” She was silent now, so her words could sink in. Aticus turned his back to her, she instinctively flinched, then resisted the chance to ambush him. She passed the test.
“You have silver sickness. The headaches, they’re slowly…” Aticus interrupted Tonya.
“You are sliding down a slippery slope, careful, my love.” Aticus touched her shoulder and she impulsively backed away from him.
“All those lost souls don’t stand a chance with your impatient nature, Aticus.” She emphasized his name deliberately to see him cringe, and he was getting infuriated with the conversation.
“Don’t question me; I know what I’m doing!” Aticus snapped.
“My Liege,” Tonya converted to another strategy. “You are powerful, and ancient. With all due respect, I just meant that you were born a Wolf with a Wolf mother that left you orphaned at a young age. You haven’t experienced a pack mentality or the secrets that come with a tribe.”
She had seen him destroy three young hopeful, but nonresponsive changelings just a day ago and she grew weary of it. Tonya gingerly rested her delicate hand against Aticus’ antique gun, making him lower it.
“Enlighten me,” Aticus said sarcastically as he made himself comfortable on the sofa and motioned for Tonya to sit on his lap. She declined, remaining standing.
“There are ice baths to relieve the fever. In my tribe the initiate would dream walk bare in the winter to cure the fever. There are herbs that inhibit the healing process from attacking the invaders until they are fully changed. There are chants and rituals to make the élan vital to multiply at an accelerated pace increasing the initiates’ chances of success if left to fend for themselves.” Tonya was startled when Ice suddenly stood up.
She cautiously continued, “Numerous persons have already survived the initial infection and are thriving. I can see them in my dreams… patience is a virtue, my friend.”
Of course for those that followed Aticus’ arias and joined the pack he could wholeheartedly help the infected through the fever process. His migraines, occasional bouts of confusion, and lastly the rage from the silver sickness making him a cruel and sadistic pack master. He would obsessively check for genetic markers, for preternatural healing by cruelly slicing the arms or the chests with steak knives or razors to see how quickly, if at all, the infected were able to heal. There would be no room for weakness in his den.
He could sense the others lost in the world on the verge of the change and those comatose dying and decaying. Those animated on the full Moon had just the primitive brain stem and are easily pliable. Dozens upon dozens have been infected, well past the numbers that he projected, and it pleased him immensely. Changelings were alone for the changing; but Aticus reasoned he abandoned the infected to save their lives. He can see himself shooting them in the head if the whining and howling begun and he had a massive migraine.
Killing Cody was a blessing in compassion. A normal bullet had severed Cody’s spinal column; he could not walk or feel and would decay until his brain would not function any more. Aticus assumed his injuries would be permanent, injured so soon after infection, so killing Cody put him out of his misery.
As for the murder of Alex, Tracy had recently given birth and was too busy running around her baby to worry about her lost love. Two other women were in the back room their minds in a haze. Aticus had plans for them to breed with the other pack members to strengthen his pack. Yes, there were several murders to worry about and he just had to put a bullet in Cody but as far as he’s concerned weeding out the weak and infirm strengthened his pack.
He proceeded to open the curtains to what used to be Michael’s clandestine room. An unfurnished room with no TV, stereo, a desk with no drawers, even chairs or a bed… just a foldout table. A beaker filled with an unknown fluid and fan hooked to a hose that attached to the window of the shack sat on a hot plate plugged into the wall.
No coincidence that Aticus and his pack stumbled onto Michael’s shack. Aticus could smell the stink of his synthetic methamphetamine coursing through his veins from miles away. Now he had a working lab. Chemicals such as Alcohol, Toluene, Iodine, Salt, Lithium Batteries, anhydrous ammonia in a propane barrel, Lye, red phosphorous and Muriatic Acid could be seen in the corner of the room. Coffee Filters stacked up out-of-the-way and Pyrex Cookware on the floor, enough ingredients and glassware for two clandestine methamphetamine recipes. Aticus turned his attention to the finished product which rested on the table.
Aticus pulled out a decorative double bladed letter opener from his pants pocket then watched his human arm transmute to a lupine limb and huge paw with thick black fur. His skin still bubbling in transition between human to wolf he proceeded to slash his forearm and blood began to spill out filling the beaker until the clear liquid turned to pink plasma.
The surreptitious recipe’s operations had changed throughout the years but one thing was the same, wolf’s blood. In the old days they used human sacrifice to elicit the fear, adrenaline and what is known as the “impending death” hormone but nowadays, modern science began to synthetically replicate what was precious about the blood sacrifice. Smoke billowed out of the shack from the makeshift science lab. He had a determined look on his face. Blood dripped down from fresh rags on his forearms as he measured beakers, checked temperatures, stirred mixtures. Aticus frantically makes the reddish rock until powder, sweating from the effort.
Aticus wrung his hands, up pacing the floor nervously while Montezu finished filling the last of the baggies with the remarkably special pink powder smiling all the way. He scooped up the pink finished product with a measuring device and poured it into a small plastic bag. Montezu counted the baggies then put them in a black briefcase for his leader. Aticus set the black briefcase with the other briefcases in the closet. Growing furious remembering how Tomas dared compare him to a drug dealer. Soft growls getting louder until suddenly Oung opened the bedroom door startling him out of his train of thought.
“The deed is done…” Oung referred to the tracking, stalking, and killing of a lycanthrope that resisted Aticus’ alpha leader status.
Aticus asked, “You have anything for me?”
Oung felt sorry for him, and he immediately spewed forth the gore and the whole bloody brainstem complete with glands and the still beating heart of Aticus’ resistor onto the floor.
With a gleam in his green eye Aticus threw himself upon the floor lapping up the plasma soaking into the shag carpet. He greedily consumed the whole heart then consumed glands on the floor like a junkie craving for his next fix. Oung felt sorry for Aticus as the forbidden juices spilled from his mouth down to his neck. He watched Aticus’ eye as it dilated, the brilliant green iris just a thin band and the expanding pupil becoming a black hole. Oung watched helplessly, Aticus oblivious to those around him, lost in reverie.
Oung was familiar with the ritual of a lycanthrope consuming one of their own but only when one died or there was a challenge in the pack. Rare and highly ceremonious, all the pack gathered around to eat. Anyone caught ingesting the flesh without such ceremony was still taboo and copious amounts led to ill health. But Aticus greedily absorbing the dead meat, the rush, the high, the pleasure that it contained within, a pain reliever he became numb and nothing more than that, he had become an addict.
Aticus had heard an unfamiliar howl last night but its contents were all too familiar and it tugged on his heartstrings. An aria he heard from his younger days, happy pleasant memories where his brother and beloved sister still lived, a song that had been handed down to his mother by his grandmother. A sure sign his grandmother survived still.
“I need a favor from you my friend.”
“Anything for my brother,” The one thing he hated as a lycanthrope, it was getting harder and harder to feel the effects of the alcohol as he threw away his shot glass and drank straight out of the half-gallon vodka bottle.
“I need you to go to California, specifically, Los Angles.” Aticus waited for Tomas’ response.
Tomas was taken aback with Aticus’ request. Taking a plane was out of the question, somehow the altitude made a lycanthrope involuntarily change; But Aticus was his best friend, his blood brother. The decision was made before he even thought about it.
“I’ll do it. Just tell me what for.” He toasted Aticus’ half gallon with his shot glass in a sign of solidarity.
“And I need you to persuade Tonya to go to California, it will be easy enough for her,” he swallowed before continuing like the words were rancor to his mouth, “with her gifts.”
Tomas nodded in agreement, waiting until Aticus finished.
“I want you to pick up my Grandmother,” Aticus said under his breath, “Lunacy will reign soon.”