“I promise I won’t be out long,” I try to convince my grandmother as she knits yet another blanket that we do not need. She rolls her eyes at me and continues to rock back and forth in her old, wooden rocking chair, one that my grandfather built before he passed. He had a knack for woodwork and was often found working outside, though I was too young to catch him in the act.
My grandmother and I are different; there are two sides to us. One side is human, and the other is beastly. This animalistic half has been with me since birth without a choice, I had no say in the matter, as it remains entirely genetic. Like my grandmother, I have the ability to turn, to shift into something wild, a creature coated with thick fur and built with sharp, threatening teeth. A wolf. Specifically a werewolf, wer meaning man which is silly because I am clearly not a man.
My grandmother and I are not the only werewolves in existence, in actuality, there are hundreds of our kind scattered around the globe. I was born in a pack, though I do not remember much about those. In the pack, I lived with my mother and father, but after an attack on the packs land, they sent me away to live with my grandmother. It is for safety, they told me, yet I have not seen them since. My grandmother has taken care of me from then until now, raising me for over a decade.
“Oh, Grandma please,” I beg even harder if that is possible. I am practically on my knees with my hands glued together, willing to give her my all. After plastering on my award-winning puppy dog eyes, my pouted my lip makes an appearance. “Please,” I mumble in a childish voice, hoping to bring her back to the times when I was a little girl.
She sighs and sets down her knitting needles, the only ones she has ever used. There are a few scratches in the wood, but not impaired enough to make her toss them. “Fine, but be back before dark, or at least before the canopy matches the sky, dear.” I immediately get up to my feet and pull her fragile body into a hug. She chuckles before playfully smacking me on my arm, nothing too rough, something of a joke. “You better hurry, or you’ll run out of time.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I wave her off and slip on my coat, one that I usually wear when the weather is on the cooler side. “I’ll be back,” I call to her before fleeing out the door and into the crisp autumn breeze. I suck in a deep breath of the relaxing aroma. It smells like fallen leaves, damp dirt, and my freedom. If freedom had a scent, it would surely smell like this.
I wander through the trees, gazing up their mile long trunks, watching their burnt orange and burgundy leaves sway like the rocking chair I saw only moments ago. I absolutely adore the fall time, it is my favorite season, mostly because of the colorful leaves and cool temperatures. There is no better place for me than the forest.
Animals clutter these lands, and sometimes I feel them watching me. Maybe they think I am trespassing as a human because in my other, more untamed form they do not seem to mind my presence.
I hop over a fallen tree and come up to a small stream. Weeds and grass grow out of the clear, cold water, dancing like they do not have a care in the world. My fingertips dip into the stream and the water chills them to the bone.
I have never passed the stream, I always save it for later, but then I forget. Everything roaming and singing in the forest steals my attention, pulling me away as if I have transformed into a simple-minded child.
Grandmother tells me not to cross the stream, so I do not. But I want to, I really do. The curiosity burns my soul, and you may think I am dramatic, which I am, but I walk here almost every day and wonder what is on the other side. Maybe a castle with a prince like in my childhood fairy tale books, but that is unlikely, so I will continue to pretend that there is a prince.
You wish, my wolf mutters to me.
Oh, don’t even lie to me, I know that you want to find out what’s over there too! I grumble inwardly, giving into the conversation that no one else can hear. The act brings a new concept to talking with yourself.
No, I don’t, all I want to do is go home. It’s as cold as an icebox out here.
Okay, we’re going back, I mumble to her and spin on my heels, facing the direction of the house. One day I will cross over, and I will find out what is on the other side.
I trudge back to the house just before dark. I would still be exploring if it were not for my wild, sassy, judgmental wolf. It is as if she is the opposite of me, which explains why she is terribly fearless.
I stomp up the porch steps and gently open the front door. The lights are off, so grandma must have gone to bed, as she tends to fall asleep early which is expected. I slowly shut the door behind me, making sure I do not wake her up like times before. Creeping up the wooden stairs, I slip into my bedroom.
The walls are painted a light shade of blue, and the floors are a medium wood, something natural and native looking. My bed sits in the middle of the room in between two windows with bedside tables under them. Moonlight drips through the glass and creates an eerie glow on the floor, almost lighting a path for me.
I shrug off my coat and lay it on the back of my desk chair, another past work of my grandfather.
Too tired to change, I climb under the white duvet and shut my eyes. The only thing running through my mind is the stream; its frigid, soft current flows through me as if something is telling me to venture on. This something is leaning down and whispering in my ear, go past, go past.
“I’m confused, what’s pushing me to cross over the stream?” I mumble into the air of my empty bedroom.
“You must discover for yourself.” The angelic voice fills my cold, red tipped ears. Right away I know it is the Moon goddess. I trust she is in the room, no longer having a need to search for her. I imagine her long flowing white dress and silky, endless hair that seems to float around her, not touching her porcelain, unearthly skin. To me, she looks more magical than a goddess.
“I knew you would say something like that,” I sigh and curl further into the covers.
* * *
There it is, flowing right in front of me. All I have to do is step on the surfacing stones and cross it. I already lied to my grandmother about what I was doing, and now I do not even have the guts to carry out my plan.
It’s not a big deal, just see what’s on the other side, my wolf pushes me.
You’re right. It’s no big deal, I lie to myself. The taunting thoughts picking at my mind seem to believe the quick action of hopping across is indeed a big deal. The Moon Goddess did not help me make my decision, as she decided to keep her opinion out of this, although she tends to do that frequently lately. Most of the decisions I make are based solely on my ideas and convincing.
Reaching my foot out to the first stone, I shift my weight onto it, and then the other, so I am now standing on the first rock. The first move has been made, and I still feel undecided. I was hoping the step of faith would trigger something in my head.
I back away and move off the stone. Maybe we should do this another time.
It’s no big deal, My wolf reminds me, sounding somewhat annoyed by my patience.
“Okay, okay, I’m going.” I take a deep breath before stepping back onto the first stone. Then onto the second, then the third.
Now we’re going places. My wolf comments, but I ignore her.
Now standing on the last rock, I begin to feel nervous. This is it. I am finally going to find out what is on the other side. Part of me believes that I am blowing this all out of proportion, but the other half, the other half is bothered by the bugging thoughts.
I carefully step off the stone and onto the brown, wet dirt. I scan the area before taking another step. Seeming to be the only person out here, I shrug my shoulders before heading into the trees. I guess it was no big deal.
Birds sing up on branches, and forest animals scamper across the earth floor, not threatened by my presence. I watch a squirrel carry a nut into a tree, flying up the bark like it does every day. When I was younger, I begged grandma to let me bring home squirrel so I could keep it as a pet. Obviously, she said no, but it still broke my eight-year-old heart, as back then I was looking for anything to distract me.
I do not remember a lot of my childhood, mostly just being with my grandmother. I do not remember my parents too much, as I left them when I was only eight. All I know is that they brought me to grandma’s to keep me safe, because of the attack and possibly my ability, but that is my own theory.
Grandmother is not part of a pack; she is very independent. She would tell me that you do not need a pack, all you need is a mate. She said this when I was around ten years old, so I did not understand the need of a mate. Evidently, I barely knew what one was. The thought of having a soul mate frightened me a little, but then grandmother would tell me stories about her mate, my grandfather. He died fighting in a rogue attack, back when grandmother was not a grandmother. She would tell me about their dates, when they first met, and a heaping of other romantic things.
“Hey, what are you doing on Tate land!” An authorized voice tears me from my thoughts.
My gaze swiftly shoots up to be greeted by a man’s intense one. He is tall and muscular, built like a warrior of another time. His light blonde hair gently moves with the cool breeze of afternoon air. The man’s skin is lightly tanned like he has spent days working in the sun. The man is not old, and if I had to guess I would say he is about twenty-three, which is specific. Getting a powerful feeling from him, I believe him to be important.
“Hey, I’m talking to you!” He hollers at me again, becoming irked.
What do I say?
I don’t know. Who is this guy? Why does he think he is so much stronger than us? My wolf growls.
Rolling my eyes, I let out a small laugh. My wolf is the complete opposite of me, yet the Moongoddess paired us together, so I suppose opposites do attract. Why she thinks us to be so strong is beside me.
“Look, rogue, I do not have time for this,” the guy hisses at me and crosses his arms over his chest. “You’re coming with me.” This time when he speaks, it sounds much more aggravated. Swiftly, he reaches for my arm, but thankfully I have time to jump back. My heart starts beating a little faster and from panic and anxiety, my legs turn to jelly.
What’s happening? Why does this man want to take us? Why did he call us rogue? I panic.
Well, apparently we did cross on his land.
His land, why does he have his own land? I question dumbly.
Evangeline, it’s a packs land, and to be specific, he said Tate pack land, my Wolf explains in a rush.
Before I know it, I am being snatched at again, but this time I cannot get away in time.
“I’m s-sorry! I don’t understand! Please just let go of me!” I cry out, completely confused, but he does not let go of my arm. Instead, he continues to drag me through the trees, further from home. I try hitting him, begging him, and I even start to cry from fear of the unknown.
Evangeline, calm down, or he’s going to kill us! My wolf yells at me.
Kill me! But I didn’t mean to cross on his land!
“Where are you taking me?”
“To the Alpha.” His voice was firm and emotionless as if he knew this was not going to end well for me, and I believe him.
The man continues to drag me, and I happen to notice a small building through the trees. Behind it, I can almost make out other buildings, almost like houses. As I come closer towards the brick building, I notice two people standing on the outside by the door; maybe they are guarding it.
“Found a rogue while checking the perimeters?” One of the men guarding the doorway asks, not very amused. “Why bring it back?”
The man dragging me nods. “It was giving me a hard time.”
It! We are not an it! My wolf yells, becoming furious.
“I was going to keep it in a cell until I get orders from the Alpha, you know, what he wants to do about it.” The man’s tone is bored as if he deals with this kind of nonsense every day. Locking innocent people in cages, how barbaric.
“Go on in.” The guard motions to the doorway.
I am abruptly yanked into the brick building. The inside is dark with a horrid smell, possibly rotting flesh, reeking throughout the room. There are rows of cells with black bars vertically caging in whatever they hide.
We come to a halt in front of one cell, and with a thin strip of light trickling into the cold space, I see the rest to be empty. Suddenly, I am pushed inside. Before I can comprehend what is happening the door is slid shut with a clicking noise to top off the unreasonable action. My eyes grow wide, and I rush to the black bars. As soon as my bare hands touch the metal, a stinging, burning sensation sears me. Hissing in pain, I peer down at my singed palms.
“Oh, I wouldn’t touch the bars, they’re made of silver. Don’t let the color trick you!” The man calls from back where we came, on his way out.
We have to get out of here! My wolf frantically panics.
Oh really? You think we should? I seethe at her sarcastically. I take a deep breath to calm down. Sorry, I’m just scared.
I am torn from my thoughts by a sudden movement in the far corner of the cell. It is too shadowy and dark to tell if anyone is there, so I stand up straight, trying to find any ounce of courage I may have. “Hello?”
“Help... me,” a quiet voice says back. It is feminine and weak as if she has been sitting in here for decades. Immediately, I rush into the darkness and try to feel around for anything. Then a hand lightly touches mine, and I grab it.
“I’m going to pull you where it’s lighter okay?”
I warn the person, but I get no answer. What if she is dying? I do not think twice before pulling her where the light shines through the small window in the hallway.
When I look down, I see a girl maybe a few years older than me. I gasp when my eyes reach her leg. There is an enormous gash in it, and it is most likely infected. Her face is covered in dirt from the floor, and there are small cuts and bruises all over her body. The clothes she is wearing are all tattered and stained with blood.
“Oh gosh! What happened to you?”
Her head slowly turns towards me and her dull eyes stare into mine. “I-I was trying to get home... bu-but I accidentally c-crossed on a territory.” She breathes out. Her voice is dry and hoarse, and I know she must be dying for a drink.
“But your leg?”
“They attacked m-me.” Her head moves back onto its side, and the girl takes in a small breath. I peer back down at her leg, and it looks to be bleeding.
I quickly take off my light jacket and wrap it around her leg. I try to tie it the best that I can to stop the blood from seeping out.
“Thank you,” she mumbles.
“I wish I could do more, but,” I look around the cell,” there is not much in here. How long have you been in here?”
“I’m not sure, m-maybe a couple of days.”
Who could be this cruel? Trapping people in cells until they rot. What kind of land have I stumbled onto?
Exhaustion starts to come over me, but I had nowhere to sleep but the cold, cement floor. “Goodnight,” I call to the girl, yet her eyes are already closed. I do not get any answer, so she must already be asleep.
I sigh and turn on my back, looking up at the blank, gray ceiling.
Don’t worry we’ll get out of here, my wolf says.
I sure hope so. I say back then close my eyes, hoping this is all a cruel nightmare. Please, let me wake up in my bed, let me wake up at home where I am safe.