Traffic. It’s the single most annoying part of my day. The mornings are full of bumper to bumper cars all trying to get to work at their mundane jobs. Jobs that if they’re honest, they hate. The evenings are full of cars trying to speed to get home to the families that they may not even like. I luckily don’t hate my job or my family, just the drive there and the drive home.
I left the office today at five. I usually will wait and leave around six, trying to keep from getting caught too much in the mad rush to leave the city. I live just outside the city in a small suburb that I think is cozy. People there are nice and most mind their own business and don’t bother us.
River and I have been friends since we were in diapers. Her parents and mine lived next door to each other and were friends. This naturally led to lots of time spent together and River and I fell in line with that. We were both only children and so we thought of each other as the sister we never had.
River worked in the suburb as a yoga instructor, so she didn’t know the pure torture of traffic in the city. I don’t think she could stand being inside a car for so long. River’s parents were the free thinking type or hippies if you want to label it.
River followed in their footsteps and was a free spirit. She loved teaching yoga and helping people find their inner peace. She’s been trying for years to get me to find mine, but alas I don’t think it’s possible. I can be as high-strung as anyone, and my job as a journalist doesn’t help things.
From childhood I had this need to know why about everything. My mother once told me that my last word was going to be why. I questioned everything and everyone. One thing I had learned was that people aren’t what they claim to be. Most of them weren’t even close.
I’ve had trust issues most of my life. It wasn’t because of childhood trauma or a terrible relationship. It was like they built it into me at birth. Dad once told me I would stare down the other kids at the playground like I was trying to catch them committing some kind of crime. He said some mothers didn’t want their kids to play with me because I would question their every move. It just wasn’t normal, they’d say.
What is normal? We try to tell ourselves that acting a certain way was appropriate and “normal”. But that was just something someone somewhere made up. When I was young, the news of werewolves had broken. Everyone talked that there were these people walking around that weren’t normal. Maybe that was why I was so curious about people I came into contact with.
Either way, I grew up being that child that the parents dreaded getting a question from. River never treated me as if there was something wrong with my curiosity. In fact, she encouraged me to find the answers I so desperately needed. That, in turn, leads to me wanting to become a journalist. I could share with the world all that I had learned.
I pull into the driveway of the house that River and I were renting. It was a quiet street, and I enjoyed it. I looked to the right of our house and see that the grass was getting taller in the front yard of the house. A family with a daughter around my age lived there. I hadn’t seen them in weeks.
Normally, I wouldn’t worry that much about it, but they were werewolves. I don’t think they knew I knew their little secret, but I did. I thought it fascinated that they hid it so well from everyone. I was also curious that they weren’t living in a pack like most wolves do. Packs were something that we knew little about. The wolves were pretty tight-lipped about it.
Lately, rumors were floating around that wolves were disappearing. Not so much the ones in packs, but the ones like my neighbors that were out on their own. I had begged my editor today to let me do a story on this. He wasn’t really on board until I started showing him how many missing person reports were being filed all over the area. He finally caved and gave me the okay to start the piece.
I was hoping to talk to my neighbors and get their perspective, but they were nowhere to be found. If I wanted to get any information about these disappearances, I was going to need to find my neighbors. Something in my heart told me they were in trouble and they had fallen prey to whatever was happening.
“Honey, I’m home!” I call out as I enter the house.
“In here, lover!” River yells from the kitchen.
I walk in and find her finishing up what appears to be tacos and my mouth waters. River is an amazing cook, and she makes sure that I eat well. I forget to eat when I’m working on a piece and she has made it her mission to make sure I’m fed.
“One of these days, someone is going to hear how we talk to each other and get the wrong idea about us.” She says, laughing.
“Hey, I can’t help it if you’re bad at picking the right guys.” I retort. I hear her snort before she speaks.
“Says the girl who once almost went out with a serial killer!” She laughs.
“Hey, I didn’t know he was a serial killer.” I scoff.
The truth was that neither of us had any luck when it came to men. We had both tried to find guys, and both had fallen short. The last one River had been dating turned out to be a serial cheater and not a good person. When she caught him, he just laughed in her face and asked what did she expect. He had thought he was God’s gift to women and in reality he was nothing more than a creep.
“So, did he accept your idea of the disappearance story?” She asked, looking at me with hopeful eyes.
“He did! I just need to find a starting point. I was going to talk to the neighbors, but I haven’t seen them in weeks. Did they tell you they were going on a trip?” I ask. River stops cooking and stands there thinking for a moment.
“I spoke with Ruth and she had said they may go on a family vacation but gave no specifics. It’s not like them to let their yard become a mess or to be gone this long. You think they are caught up in some of this?” Her face shows worry.
We’re not close with the neighbors, but we both cared about them. Ruth was a sweet girl who was going to school to become a teacher. Her parents were kind and had the kind of love for each other that women dream about.
“I’m afraid to think it, but yeah. I think something bad may have happened to them.” I tell her.
“We need to file a missing person’s report.” River says.
“You know nothing will happen with that. Nothing has been done about all the ones before. It’s like the police have their head in the sand. I think we should try to find something out ourselves. After dinner I’m going over there and see if I can find a way into the house. They may have left something that will help us find them.”