About the Author

Author Snow_Bear

Stories : Not Just Another Bedtime Story

Special Interest (None) tale by Snow_Bear, 2011-08-04T19:36:00.0000000. Reads: 1082
Average Rating: 3 Rate it: 1 2 3 4 5

Introduction

    Today started like any other but it took a wrong twist somewhere along the way. I know it's hard to believe but maybe if you walk down the shadowy trails of the forest at night you may just believe me.
   
    I'll start at the beginning. My friend Ryan and I dared each other to do something crazy and adventurous. So we went on a white water rafting trip through the back woods of Colorado. Things started normal enough when we arrived at the site and set out on our adventure, but that first night of camping in the forest will never leave my memory.
   
    It all started with a slight rustling in the bushes. I roll over and shake Ryan awake. He listens for a bit scowls and tells me, “go back to sleep, it’s just the wind.” I look into his deep brown eyes and find comfort in his words. I settle back into my sleeping bag, but as hard as I try I cannot shake the feeling that something is out there.
   
    When he begins to snore again I quietly sneak out of the tent with my trusty flashlight and look around trying to prove to myself that I’m not crazy. I know I heard something…even if it is just a rabbit…I know I’ll sleep better knowing that there is nothing dangerous circling my tent while I am in a tent and defenseless in my sleeping bag.
    
    I check all around the nearby bushes but cannot find a thing. Defeated I walk back to the tent thinking Ryan must have been right, it was just the wind and I am just being paranoid. As I reach for the zipper the beam of light catches a bit of movement and I cannot resist the urge to find out what is keeping me from sleeping.
   
     It doesn't take long before i find a track...and then another. Before I know it I am so far away from camp that I cannot see the tent through the brush any more.
   
     I am no experienced woodsman but I do realize when the track turn back towards the direction I just came from. Suddenly my stomach sinks and I realize just how bad of an idea this is. I went running off into the woods…alone at night in the middle of nowhere chasing who knows what and left my unconscious friend alone…in the tent that I can no longer see.
   
    As if on cue I can hear my friend screaming and the deep growls of some unknown beast. I bolt back towards the sound ignoring the stinging of the bushes as they whip past.
   
    As I approach the camp I trip on a tree root and fall to my knees. My flashlight clatters to the ground and goes out. I grab for it but it's no use the bulb has broken and no matter how many times I flick the switch it will not come to life. Then I look up and realize that everything seems unusually bright in the clearing where we camped. Through the leaves above I can see a full moon. I think to myself "Those were just stories right, meant to scare the young ones at night."
   
    Then he screams again and I suddenly don't care anymore. My friend is in danger because of me…and possibly hurt. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t try to help him. I grab the flashlight like a club and sprint through the final set of bushes.
   
    A sharp branch cuts the back of my hand and I can feel as my blood begins to trickle down my fingers. I approach my tent which looks perfectly fine and take a sigh of relief as I think, "Thank god he must have just been having a nightmare." I loosen my death grip on the flashlight and open the zipper to my tent. What I find inside is not my friend. Actually at this point inside is an understatement. Most of the back of the tent has been ripped off, and the only bit of my friend left "inside" the tent is his gear and his blood.
   
    Reflexively I grab the spare flashlight and bolt through the hole following the trail of Ryan’s blood. I follow the path of blood and shredded sleeping bag bits through the brush and find Ryan’s outdoor survival kit. I pick it up as I pass by and continue on until I hear him moan up ahead.
   
    As I approach the sound I can hear more growling. I slow my pace and duck behind a tree as I scope out the clearing in front of me. I can see Ryan on the ground he has gaping wounds on his right shoulder, arm, and leg. Then I spot it, a large furry shape huddled nearby. It turns around and my breath catches in my throat.
   
    As I stare at it I keep saying to myself, “You’re dreaming. This is impossible. Werewolves aren’t real.” Then Ryan twitches and I know he is still alive…but not for long if I don’t do something quick. I look down at the survival kit and grab the bear strength pepper spray. I put the survival pack on, take a deep breath, and charge through the bushes. The werewolf looks up at me, and after a moment of confusion charges at me. If it weren’t for the adrenaline rushing through my vein’s I’m sure I would have passed out the second it looked in my direction. Instead I, like a maniac, am running towards a creature I thought was a myth until a few seconds ago. Lucky for me, the wind is in my favor and the pepper spray finds its mark in the eyes of the beast. It swings its claws at me but misses by three feet.
   
    While it thrashes around blinded and clearly pissed off as its growls deepen; I quietly make my way over to Ryan while keeping one eye on the enraged werewolf. Ryan opens his eyes and forces his bloodied necklace into the palm of my hand. He coughs up blood as he says, “Danny, it’s silver plated. I hope it protects you better than it did me.” He lets out a shuddering breath and I wait for him to take another. After a few seconds, it sinks in and I try to give him CPR but his ribs are crushed and with every pump of my arms more blood spurts from his mouth rather than air. I cry “You can’t die on me you jerk. We’ve been friends since before I can remember. What am I gonna do without you?”
   
    Suddenly there is a large hand on my shoulder and I realize that in my panic to save my friend, I stopped watching the werewolf. I clutch the large gothic cross shaped necklace in one hand and the flashlight in the other. I hear a deep growl in my ear but I don’t care anymore. My best friend is dead in front of me and the beast responsible for it is behind me. Pissed I spin around and jam the flashlight deep into its mouth. Surprised it stands up while throwing me to the ground as it tries to get the flashlight out. I let out a shout of furry as I thrust the silver cross deep into its chest. It lets out a garbled cry of pain then falls to the ground. I grab the cross and rip it out before plunging it in again and again trying to take my pain and anger out on the beast responsible. Before I know it, it’s stopped twitching and started to become more human. I don’t have to check for a pulse to know that it is dead.
   
    There is one thing that I didn’t take into consideration this whole time. Whatever it was I was fighting might not be alone. Of all the stupid mistakes I have made all night… this had to be the biggest mistake I could have made. As I stand up bloody and triumphant, I hear a twig snap to my right. As I turn, I see the furry blur and realize my mistake. Everyone knows wolves travel in packs, why would werewolves be any different.
   
    It knocks me from my feet as it sinks its fangs deep into my shoulder. We tumble down the a steep incline then across the sandy shoreline and into the river where it finally releases its grasp on me as it claws the water while it swims for shore.
   
    I cling to a nearby rock as I watch it reach shore. It turns and growls at me before shaking dry and running into back into the woods. As I breathe a sigh of relief a dark shape floats towards me at a rapid pace. It’s a large tree and I am right in its path. I let go and frantically try to get out of the way but I am too weak. The adrenaline rush wore off while I was stabbing the beast. And now it takes everything I have left just to stay above water.
   
    When the giant tree trunk plows into me, it feels like being hit by a speeding car. I manage to grab onto it just before it pushes me under. I cling onto the side and hope it gets caught on the shore soon. But it doesn’t hit shore; it hits a set of deep rapids. The tree bounces off the first couple of rocks harmlessly enough minus the jolt of the impact on my aching shoulder and battered body. Then it hits a large rock hidden beneath the rapids; unfortunately so did I. I pass out from the pain and the impact as my vision goes white. My last thought of consciousness being, “After all this…this is how it’s going to end? What a lame way to die.”
   
    I wake up on a sandy beach with a stiff shoulder and aching ribs. I sit up as the sun’s rays begin to bake my skin in the morning light. I check my shoulder expecting a gaping wound, but instead find faint pink scars.
   
    It takes me most of the day to make it back to the camp site but I do make it back. Though from the front it looks like a friendly little place where a couple of friends could sit and tell stories around a glowing campfire; I can smell the stench of blood still lingering in the air. I walk over to the tent and hesitate at the door while the previous night’s events sink in as the inside is illuminated in the fading light of the sun.
   
    I follow the trail of blood and smashed foliage back to my friend’s remains. The body of the werewolf is gone but the bloody cross is laying next to my friend on a piece of his shredded shirt. I pick it up and can feel an uncomfortable heat in my hand as I touch it. It doesn’t burn but it definitely doesn’t feel like it did the night before…almost as if it is tainted. I put it in my pocket and begin to drag his body back to the campsite.
   
    I have an hour maybe two tops before the sun finishes setting and the moon rises. I heave his body into the raft and use rope to tie it in. I throw the paddles and rafting gear in as well and tie down what I can. When I am done the moon is about to rise. I prepare to take off when I feel an annoying heat coming from my pocket. I reach in and my fingers are met with a searing heat. I jerk my hand out and the necklace falls out.
   
    I just stare at it shocked. Then it hits me…it’s not the cross that is tainted…I am… and I know that even though I survived the attack I can never go home, because if I do, I put all of my family and friends in danger. I grab a notebook and pencil out of my pack. I scribble a quick note in the light of my headlamp.
   
    “We were attacked by a rabid animal in the woods and I fear that neither of us will be able to make it home to tell our story. Our strength is fading as we continue to lose blood. We have tied ourselves to the raft in hopes that even if we do not make it out of this forest alive our bodies will make it back to our loved ones. If neither of us are alive when this note is found I ask that whoever finds it return the bodies to the following address.”

   
    I then scribble down Ryan’s home address, sign my name at the bottom, and shove the note in a waterproof bag before I tie it to his body. I look down at the cross on the ground, take a deep breath, grit my teeth, and reach down. The second I grab it a burning pain radiates up my arm, but I manage to hold on. I put it around his neck and tuck it under the remains of his shirt. I then tie a cord through it, securing it to his life preserver. I take my gear out of the raft and shed a final tear for my friend before I shove the raft down the bank and into the river.
   
    It is not long before the moon begins to rise and I know that I was right and something inside me is different. I watch as the raft fades into the distance. Not long after the changes begin to happen. After a few painful minutes I knew that my suspicions were correct that I am no longer fully human. After that night my senses remained heightened even in the daytime. I have more strength in my pinky finger than I used to have in my entire arm.
   
    I realized my mistake when righting the note as soon as the search parties showed up looking for my body. When I wrote the note it hadn’t fully sunk in that I was not going home…ever again. It didn’t take much to dodge the clumsy humans leading it as they seem to make so much noise it wakes me from a solid sleep.
   
    I wander the forests now and have since then learned how to tame the beast inside me even when the moon is high. Some nights I dream of going home but cannot bring myself to face my friend’s mom who trusted me to keep him safe. Instead I work hard to keep unfortunate hikers and campers safe from the dangers of these woods…Especially when the moon is high.

Chapter 1

Of course it took a lot of time, effort and training before I was able to fully tame my beastly urges. In fact it felt like it took me forever because I kind of failed at being a werewolf in the beginning. It didn’t exactly happen overnight, but I did eventually get better at dealing with all the new senses and responsibilities being a werewolf comes with, and it all started on the night of the second full moon I saw after my initial transformation. What was so special about this day…I met someone, and no I didn’t meet some love of my life or any mushy stuff like that. I met a kid who I still swear to this day doesn’t understand the meaning of no. Though you might understand it better if I explain both what was happening before I met him, and what he did for me before I tell you more about my life right now.

I got lucky that first night I transformed, it was the last day of the full moon, so I was able to recover and collect myself the following nights as I dreaded the ever approaching full moon. I did figure a couple things out that night though. If I wasn’t directly in the moon’s light, or staring at the moon, I didn’t feel the presence of the beast as much but I barely noticed because I was overwhelmed with the feelings of all the new sights, smells, and abilities I had. For the first time in my life I was truly running free and I was loving every minute of it. I also realized that because of this overwhelming sense of new things it was easy to lose myself in them. At one point I had traveled miles and I couldn’t remember how I got there. Of course this meant that the rest of my night was spent trying to backtrack to where I started. I was also approached by the resident clan of werewolves on that night as I tried to make my way back to my campsite. My fist meeting with them after my transformation will never leave my memory.

The wolf within me picked up the clues long before the human side of me realized what was going on. There were other werewolves in the area and they were close. In fact they were getting closer with every second almost as if they were stalking me, but every time I turned to face them, I would only see fleeting shadows or the afterimage of eyes. Soon I begin to recognize the trees and the smells and know that I am getting close to my campsite. The smell of wolf is all around me and the beast within me is becoming more agitated by it. I growl as I spin around once more…again to fleeting shadows. I continue to growl as I turn back around to continue on, but it gets caught in my throat from surprise.

Before me on a boulder is a large male werewolf. He smiles at me as he says with a slight growl in his voice, “It is good to see that the transformation has not killed you.” I try to speak but it comes out all garbled and somewhere between a growl and English. In fact it comes out so unintelligible I don’t even know what I said. He continues to smile as he says, “Take a deep breath, slow down and just use the new language you have been given. Trying to use the language of man right now will only end in frustration. With time and training you will be able to speak it again. Now try it again and let your words flow through you rather than forcing them out like a monkey. I growl in response and he says, “Good start now use it to express more than your anger. I promise I was not meaning to insult you. It is your first night of freedom, it should be enjoyed and celebrated as most bitten die before ever feeling what you are now.” I take a deep breath and try to do as he said and let the words flow through me, but it is still a little garbled as I let out a mix of barks growls and howls which end up translating to, “Why droo you kreep saying thart many die from this. Are you referrrring to how my friend was killed by one of youuuu before he could ever make the change?” He replies, “Impressive…actually better spoken than most after their first change. I know this is all new to you, but you are actually doing quite well for your fist night.” I growl, “Youu neverrrr answered my question.” He replies, “You are right, and I apologize for that. There is so much you do not know, and I cannot possibly explain it all in one night. But out of courtesy for you I shall answer your question…then I will give you an offer. After that offer I will expect a response before I answer any more questions…understand?” I nod rather than try to speak, but my entire body is yearning to do more and standing still feels like torture when it knows it can do so much more. He replies, “Good. Now to answer your question. It is not the attack that is the dangerous part…sure it does kill many humans, but they are not of my concern. What I was referring to was those that were bitten and live only to die during their first transformation. It is the first transformation of a werewolf that is the most dangerous. If you survive it then you are one of the lucky few who are able to live on and enjoy the benefits of being one of us. Benefits that I will gladly help you to take full advantage of if you join me and my pack that lives in these woods.” I reply, “I take it that was your offerrr.”

He nods saying, “Yes. Wolves are social creatures and there is so much you can learn from me and my pack.” I reply, “And wolves also have territories…meaning that it was one of your pack that attacked me and my friend. So, why should I join the pack that killed my best friend and ruined my life?” He replies, “I am impressed. When you speak with passion it flows through you as lovely as a song. But even though your question was posed in such a beautiful manner I said I would not answer any questions until I got an answer first. Though I will say that it was not just you who lost a friend that night. From what I heard you were feisty even as a human…which makes you even more irresistible as a wolf.” I reply, “I will neverrr join those who killed my friend. I will figure out this currrse on my own if I must, but I refuse to join the pack that killed my frrriend.” He jumps down landing gracefully in front of me before saying, “Do not take this offer so lightly. It is your first night and so you do not know what is truly important yet…so I will forgive you this time as your smell and beautiful white coat entice me more than the song of your voice, but I will not let you go so easily. I gave you a chance to come with me willingly, but now you have forced me to take you with me until you realize that you belong with me.” I growl as I say, “And how do you plan on making me come with you?”

He smiles as he replies, “I have been as I am for a great many years. It will not be hard for me to overpower you, but I was hoping to have been able to sway you with words rather than force.” He slowly begins to circle around me and I follow his movements. Then he suddenly stops and lunges. I try to jump backwards and out of the way, but end up colliding with the boulder instead. He is on me within seconds, pinning my arms to the rock as he says, “You must be aware of your surroundings if you are to ever win a fight, especially one with a werewolf. Now are you going to come with me willingly or are you going to continue to be difficult?” I bite his arm in response then knee him in the stomach forcing him to take half a step back. I use my pent up energy to propel me off of the boulder and up into the trees. I jump from branch to branch trying to get away and not thinking about which direction I am going. It is not long before a howl rings through the air and I hear it’s meaning as clearly as if it were spoken in my native tongue, “The hunt is on my friends. We shall teach this new one of the blood about our ways by a show of our pack’s power tonight as she still clings to her human values and must be taught the ways of the pack by force.”

The smell of wolves surrounds me even closer than before until I can barely smell anything else. Suddenly one drops onto the branch in front of me and I make a quick turn to the right as I continue to fly through the tree tops. Another one jumps into view, again barring my path. With a growl I turn left. Two more times they block my path before I get a sense that they are leading me somewhere. When the next one jumps to block my path I take an extra second before I jump to put extra power into my leap.

I prepare for impact as I jump straight for the surprised werewolf. We collide and fall towards the ground in a tumbling heap. I land on top of him and roll off. I try to run but two werewolves jump from the branches above and pin me to the ground after only a few steps. They flip me over as the third gets up and takes my feet. They stare down at me and though the human in me is scared, the beast is calm it tells me that their actions are not hostile. It is not long before the large male walks into my view once more, but he is not alone, he has five more with him.

          He kneels down beside me, then with the back of his hand he gently strokes the fur on the side of my face. He smiles saying, “Oh how I do love the feisty ones. Trust me I wish you no harm. All I want is to add you to my pack and teach you our ways. Just remember that it was you who forced me to do it in this manner.” He laughs then says, “Even during the chase you showed me something I have only seen once before. You are truly special and I won’t let you slip away so easily. I was hoping to lead you to the clearing and have you feel it on your own, but again you have forced my hand.” He looks to the other five and says, “Make a hole, I want her to feel the full force of the moon.” They quickly climb into the trees surrounding me and begin ripping away the branches. At first it is only streaks of moonlight that peek through but slowly a hole forms right above me. I turn my head and look away, but I can feel the moon’s light spread across my chest and up my body. Its light feels warm and soothing as it makes my heartbeat quicken making my pulse race. He takes his hand from my cheek, then I hear him move between the two men holding my arms down. I feel him gently slide one hand on either side of my head. He says, “You cannot hide from the gaze of the moon forever. You are one of her children now, so how about you say hello.” Then he quickly turns my face upwards into the full light of the moon.

I have looked up at a full moon many times and thought it was beautiful, but this time was different. I could no longer see anything else and in that instant the beast within me rose up and the last thing I was aware of that night was it throwing them all off of me before letting out a long sad howl as a greeting to the moon.

I wake up the next morning stiff and face deep in the entrails of a deer. Then I notice the blood running down my face and chest and it immediately sinks in. I know where the rest of the deer is and the thought turns my stomach until I cannot hold it in any longer and begin to hurl out the raw meat and blood. Of course seeing it come out doesn’t help matters much and I vomit until I begin to dry heave. When I finally manage to stop I crawl away from the deer exhausted. I manage to crawl a few feet away before a muscular man in baggy shorts with a goatee and unkempt hair steps in my path saying, “And where do you think you are going? After your first transformation you are as weak as a newborn kitten. Your body won’t be used to the change for some time, but the fist one is always the hardest…and now you have lost all of you dinner all over the ground.” He sighs saying, “I guess I’d better get you something a newbie can stomach or he will be mad.” He sniffs me then says, “And I’m going to have to get you clean as well now. Your smell makes me want to puke, he will not be happy if I bring you looking like this and smelling like barf. Such a bother, I don’t know what he sees in you anyway.” My mind is reeling as I try to remember how I got here or who this man is. He continues to talk as my mind attempts to make sense of it all, “And what’s worse is that I can’t even throw you in the stream to bathe yourself because you will probably drown.” He sigh then says, “Newbies are such a hassle.” He looks down at me then says, “Your ears still work I hope…so do me a favor and just stay here. If you make me come and find you I won’t be as gentle with you.” Then he jumps up into the tree branches and away.

I begin crawling a bit faster and head for a nearby tree. I reach its base and try to use it to haul myself to my feet. I get halfway up when my knees buckle and I tumble to the ground again. I feebly pound my fist into the ground as I realize I really am as weak as he said. Then I pound my other fist down a bit harder as I decide I won’t give up that easily. I try again to stand and fail but this time I keep trying and on my third attempt I manage to shakily get onto my feet. I brace myself on the tree as I stumble a few feet before crashing back to the ground. I begin crawling to the next tree, but before I get there, I feel a hand on my shoulder. It grips me tight before roughly flipping me over. It’s that man again and he has a medium sized duffle bag gripped tightly in his other hand. He growls, “What did I just say? Wasn’t it to stay here? I swear, who knows how far you would have wandered if you weren’t so weak right now.” Then he notices the few intact footprints mixed into the trail of where I drug myself. He looks down at me saying, “Hmm you were actually able to stand, even for a bit with no food and right after your first transformation. That is a new one…even for me.” I can do nothing but lay there and stare up at him. I am exhausted and breathing seems to take more energy than I have.

He scowls saying, “Even so, I said to stay put. I hate chasing people down. It pisses me off. Especially when I am trying to help them.” He grabs me by my hair and drags me the last few feet to the tree, where he props me up against its trunk in a sitting position. I just groan as the pain is minimal compared to what I felt last night during the transformation. He then drops the bag down next to me saying, “I swiped this from some dumb humans camping nearby, so it should sit better with you than the wolf’s feast you had last night.” He reaches into the bag and pulls out a sub sandwich, but I can still taste the blood in my mouth and begin to dry heave again at the thought of food. Shocked he asks, “What’s wrong now? Please don’t tell me you are some kind of vegetarian.” My voice sounds a bit rough but I manage to say, “It’s the blood, I can still taste it.” He puts the sub back in the bag, picks up the bag, then throws me over his shoulder with his free hand as he says, “Man are newbies a hassle.” He carries me to a swiftly flowing shallow stream then gently places me in after leaving the bag on the shore. I am in a shallower section where the water doesn’t cover my face as I lie there exhausted. A few feet further towards the middle and I probably would have drowned in a pathetically shallow stream…not exactly a glorious end considering all I have been through these past couple days. Then to add further insult to it the strange man hovering over me tears what’s left of my clothes off and begins scrubbing me down using the mud at the bottom of the stream like soap. He throws the rags onto the bank of the river and takes care to get the blood off, and attempting to allow me to rinse my mouth out. It kind of works and I can see a trail of red floating down the stream from me as I try my best to keep calm as a strange man bathes me in a gentle yet cold manner. He drags me back on to shore and places me on a large flat rock. He grabs the bag then brings it over. He grabs a towel out and throws it over me before grabbing out the sub once again. He offers it to me saying, “Part of your weakness right now is because you threw up your food…something not uncommon after your first transformation, but potentially deadly if you do not have a pack around to help you recover. I swear that this is a regular sandwich that humans eat. It might not be the best thing to help you recover from your condition but it should give you enough strength to stand on your own.”

He breaks off a bite sized bit and holds it expectantly over my mouth. As humiliating as this feels, food does sound good right now, and the sub smells delicious. I reach up and feebly grab the small bit of sandwich before popping it into my mouth. After the first bite, he gives me another and with each bite I can feel a bit of strength return, until I am able to sit up and wrap the towel around myself. I get through the first half, then he places the other half on the wrapper in front of me and reaches into the bag again. He pulls out some wadded clothes and offers them to me saying, “Finish that up and get dressed. I’ll be back with the main course in a little bit.” Then he disappears into the trees. I wait a minute to make sure he is gone then briefly dry off with the towel and put on the clothes. They are a bit loose but better than nothing, and the act of just getting dressed makes my stomach growl as if I had been starving. I look down at the sandwich and quickly devour the other half. I can smell more in the bag. I look around then stumble the couple of steps over to the bag. Inside I find two more subs. They don’t stand a chance against my growling stomach. They are both gone in minutes, but my stomach continues to growl. I am baffled by my appetite. Usually one half of a sub that big would be enough to fill my stomach and I just ate three like they were an appetizer.

Now the bag lies empty at my feet. I hear a rustling in the bushes and the man appears with what’s left of the deer in tow. I wait for my stomach to heave again, but this time it smells so good and my stomach is still growling. Revolted with myself I turn away and take a few slightly shaky steps. Then pains from hunger cause me to double over. He tosses the deer down and says, “So your strength is returning but the hunger has come now I take it. Don’t worry I’ll cook this up for you so that I don’t have you throwing it all up again, but some day you will be able to stomach food like a real wolf.” I just groan in response as he takes out a knife and expertly removes the hide before slicing off portions of meat and sticking them on skewers. He builds a small fire and places the skewers around it. I can smell the meat cook as he slices more off like a pro. He sniffs the cooking meat once then selects a couple skewers and offers them to me. He replaces them with new ones. By the time my stomach stops growling, most of the deer is gone. He eats what’s left once I’m full and most of it is still raw. I manage to keep my food down, but am still baffled as to how I managed to eat that much in the first place. He licks his fingers, picks up the deer hide and the empty bag, then says, “Come on, I think it’s time for you to meet the rest of the pack.” He then walks back into the forest. I follow him a few feet behind as my steps are slow but solid. I can tell he is going slower than he prefers for my benefit. After 20 minutes of walking we finally reach a rock face with a large cave dug into its base. About a dozen half naked men and a few women wearing the bare minimum to be considered descent are lounging just outside of the cave opening, but I can see the moving shapes of more within. I stop dead in my tracks at the sight. He shrugs the pelt off into the waiting arms of a couple of women then goes and greets the man just outside the cave as I just stand there staring. The other man looks straight at me and begins to jog over to where I am standing. I want to turn and run but my feet feel heavy as if they are weighted in place. He stops a few feet from me and says, “Wow, you are just as beautiful in this form as you are underneath the moonlight.” He sniffs my neck and I shudder.

He seems to realize that I am not entirely comfortable and gently says, “I am sorry, you are still used to human greetings. I apologize. My name is Keegan, and that is Hunter. I hope that he was sensitive to your human nature. It has been a long time since I have taken enough interest in a new blood to have him watch over them.” I just stare at him, unsure of what to do next. I want to run but know that I can’t make it far even if I do manage to move my feet. He then cocks head to the side and asks, “Are you alright? You do not look well.” I try to form words, but none come as I continue to stare at this place that seems so unreal…a den of werewolves, a mythical creature to me until last night…and in a national forest. Every bit of my human mind tells me to run, that this is dangerous and unnatural. But there is also a weird feeling within me that seems to say that this place is ok and kind of homey.

He takes my hands saying, “There is nothing to be afraid of here. You are one of us and I am hoping that you will make this your home. Let me show you around the place and introduce you to a few people.” He doesn’t wait for me to answer. He grips my right hand and tugs me forwards as he gives me a tour of the cave and a small pond not far from it. He introduces me to a few people along the way, but I am still locked in my internal struggle of human verses beast. It is loving everything it sees, while I am certain that had I not transformed last night I would think that I was either dreaming or insane…actually I am still kind of leaning towards the insanity plea.

He continues to talk about the history and origins of his den and werewolves in general as we walk around the edge of the lake. Just a little over half way around a young woman jumps out of the trees and punches me in the face so hard that my hand slides from Keegan’s and I fly into the lake. The water hits me like a wakeup call and after a second of disbelief, I swim to the surface. My body feels so heavy and slow but I manage to make it to the surface. As my face breaks the surface I see him diving in, then before I can react, I am surrounded by his arms and being pulled towards shore. I am both relieved and angered by how quick he was to jump in and save me when I wasn’t actually in trouble yet. Sure I was tired, stiff, and felt like I was dragging lead weights around, but I know I could have made it to shore on my own…even if it wasn’t going to be in the fastest or most graceful way.

Once he pulls me up onto shore he yells at the woman who seems to ignore him as she continues to glare at me. He slaps her yelling, “I am your alpha dammit, you will listen to me!” She turns and glares at him saying, “I will follow no alpha who lets live the person responsible for my brother’s death and forbids my revenge.” He growls saying, “She is no longer that same person, she is one of us now and in time will learn our ways. You know well the consequences of going against your alpha. So I will give you this one chance to give up this petty grudge or I will be forced to perform the duties of an alpha.” Her gaze falls on me once more then she begins to growl. I stand up and her growl deepens as she bares her teeth as they begin to turn into fangs and her fingernails into claws. He shouts at her, “Stop this right now! He was my cousin…my family as well and I can put it aside for the good of the pack, as should you.” I take a step back and she lunges past a surprised Keegan. He reaches for her but misses by centimeters. I take a step back close my eyes and react out of instinct.  Surprised that I am still alive and uninjured I slowly open my eyes. Before me I see her gasping as she clutches her torn throat as it oozes blood between her fingers. Then I see my own hand coated in blood with claws where my fingernails should be. I look down to see my clothes splattered with blood…then I taste blood and realize it was more than just my hand that had changed. My teeth had turned to the sharpened fangs of a werewolf. I think to myself ‘What am I…I thought that werewolves only changed under the moon…what is going on?’ Then I look back to her as she falls to the ground gasping. Her eyes roll back as she takes her last breath, and with a wheezing sigh she dies.

He looks from me to her and all I can think to do is run from this crazy place. I never wanted to kill anyone…I didn’t even know her and now she has died at my hands. Before he looks back to me I turn and run into the forest as fast as my legs will carry me, and as I put more distance between me and them I can feel my body becoming more human again. I wipe the blood from my hand onto my already stained shirt as I run. By the time I stumble across a path I have fully returned to my human form. I look behind me as I hear bushes rustle, and I know it is him. I begin to run down the path, stumbling on the uneven ground. I turn a corner as I feel a strong hand on my shoulder. I knock it away and push myself harder making my legs burn and my lungs ache. I am about to turn another corner when I catch my foot on a root and fall to the ground. I slide around the corner and look up.

Behind me is Keegan, and in front of me is a young couple who is maybe in their thirties and very surprised by my sudden appearance. I try to speak but my throat is rough and nothing intelligible makes it out. Keegan approaches me saying, “It’s ok, I know you were only defending yourself. She gave you no choice.” Then he seems to notice the hikers and begins to growl. I try again and manage a weak, “No. Do not harm them.” He looks down at me saying, “They are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I cannot let them leave…they have seen and heard too much already.” I haul myself to my feet as I say, “I will not let you harm them. They have done nothing wrong.” I look at them and apologetically say, “I am sorry, I did not mean to drag you into this.” He looks at me saying, “You do not know our ways yet, but trust me when I say that I cannot let them live.” I reply, “Then I want nothing to do with you or your ways.” He looks back at them then growls, saying, “This is all your fault…she was doing so well…now she is defending a pair of scrawny meat bags like you over her own kind…I will forgive her as she still thinks as you do, but I will not let you leave this place.” I spread my arms saying, “Then you must get past me first.” He replies, “That will not be hard. You are still a new blood and after all that you have done…I am impressed that you are still standing. The hunger would have left most incapacitated by now.” I realize what the feeling growing inside of me was…it is the hunger from when I woke up, but I shove it away as I keep my stance firm. I look over my shoulder saying, “You two can run any time now. This area is not safe.” As I speak their expressions of confusion turn to those of horror. I look back and see the last few seconds of him transforming into a werewolf. I can feel my body straining as it tries to change as well but I shove the beast back down deep within me.

He says, “You are an interesting one, it would seem that even as a new blood your body strains to take on this form. Why do you not release your humanity and embrace the beast within.” At his words the beast within me wells up and I double over in pain as I fight to remain human. When I finally win that battle and begin to stand once more the hunger wells up and I crash to the ground again clutching my growling stomach. He casually steps over me saying, “I’ll be back in a second…not that you can get far in your current condition.” Then he begins to run down the path after the frightened hikers. I close my eyes and cover my ears as I try to block out the sounds of their screams, the crunching of bone, and the sounds of them being torn limb from limb. He returns minutes later coated in blood. He looks down at me saying, “I would offer you food, but I have a feeling that you would only run again…it would seem that events have forced this to be a long and hard introduction into pack life and you accepting what you are now. I hope you will forgive me, but I now have no choice. I must force you to live within the pack until you have accepted what you are and are ready to stay of your own free will.” He picks me up tenderly within his arms and begins running through the forest. It doesn’t take him long to get back to the cave. He sets me down next to a large boulder then changes back. He squats down in front of me saying, “I am sorry, but I must do this…you are not strong enough to live on your own and if I let you roam free you will not stay after what you have seen. So, I regrettably am forced to chain you here as you learn our ways… until you can understand what I have done for you and that this is your home now.”

He disappears from sight as I sit there exhausted and crippled by the hunger within me. I grimace as a new wave of hunger hits, but I am too weak to do anything about it. I realize that he is not lying about me being too weak to care for myself, but every human bit of my body, which I don’t entirely know how much that is anymore, screams that I must leave this place full of psychotic animals. I hear the rattling of a chain then feel something snap securely around my neck. I look up to see Keegan take his hands away. He looks down saying, “Now, with that in place…I will personally go fetch you something to eat as you wait here.” I double over from the pains in my stomach and he does not hesitate. He takes off at a full sprint back towards the direction we came from.

In my mind I see images of him dragging their bodies back and frying them up for me to eat…my human mind is repulsed by the idea but the beast within is neutral as it is just a different flavor of meat, and my stomach seems to agree which makes me even more repulsed. I manage to keep the urge to barf from the images down as I curl into a ball and try to ignore the pain. What seems like hours passes before I hear approaching footsteps.

I raise my head to see him carrying over a dozen fish, all on a piece of rope. He smiles as he sees me move. He places them on the ground saying, “I know this is not enough to fill your stomach but it should hopefully make the pain lessen enough for me to fetch you something more filling.” He builds a quick fire and sends a couple people for more wood as he cleans the fish and skewers them on fresh cut branches. I watch as they sizzle and my stomach growls more as the smell begins to waft by. He says, “I would have offered them to you fresh but I doubt your stomach can handle it right now. Raw meat is an acquired taste but a delicious one…it will come with time, but until then you may want to cook your food a bit so that it stays down.” He smiles saying yes hunter told me, but most new bloods cannot handle the taste of fresh blood. Your reaction to it was perfectly normal.” He sniffs the cooking fish then offers me one saying, “Here this one is ready, but you may want to pace yourself…your body is not used to this metabolism and eating to fast may make it worse not better…well at least until you get more in your stomach I mean.” I take the fish and ignore the fact that I hate the flavor because I am starving and would eat almost anything to make the pain stop. Not to mention that I am glad it is not a piece of that hiking couple. I force that thought away and take a hesitant first bite…then the hunger hits again and I devour it…leaving only the head and tail fin behind. When I finish he hands me another and soon I look to him and he is just smiling back at me saying, “My you are a hungry one…I have not seen a hunger like this in some time…but do not worry, I sent a couple of the pack members out to hunt you down something a bit more filling. I will say this though, with a hunger like yours, you are sure to become one of the strongest in the pack in no time…I knew there was a reason I as an alpha was so drawn to you…your hunger is as veracious as mine…which means that you are the other half I have been searching for. I have hunted for so long…I will not let you slip away.” I pick myself up back into a sitting position and test the sturdiness of the collar…it doesn’t budge. He says, “It is strong enough to hold an enraged werewolf under the light of the full moon…trust me, it will not shatter so easily. On the bright side the chain is long enough to give you a bit of room to wander and explore, while still letting you reach just inside the cave for shelter in a storm. I will have some of the women set out some fresh furs as bedding for you tonight inside the cave, but if you would rather sleep out here away from the pack, I will understand.” Then a couple men emerge from the forest, the first is holding a pair of rabbits in each hand, and the other has a large wild boar slung over his shoulder. They set them down in front of Keegan and kneel on one knee before him. He smiles at them saying, “You have done well, this catch is sure to quell her hunger for awhile at least.” My stomach growls and I look down at it in shock. I feel like more of a pig than the wild boar in front of me. Keegan dismisses them with a wave and begins to prepare these animals for being roasted as well. After a few seconds he looks to me with a gentle smile saying, “Trust me, this is quite normal. After the first transformation your body is struggling to cope with the strain and is trying to adjust to your new metabolism. It is stuck in high gear right now, but will slow down by the end of the week. You are lucky tonight is not another full moon or the transition of your metabolism may have been prolonged further. As it is, your body will have adjusted to the changes before the next full moon rises and by that time you will not have the newblood’s extreme weakness from hunger. As your metabolism will be able to freely shift between that of your beast and that of the human form you are in right now. Right now your metabolism has stayed high as the beasts because there are changes happening within your body. By week’s end your senses will sharpen, your strength and speed will increase and you will feel like a completely different person. After all those changes, it will slow down again, unless for some reason you become injured. If that happens then it will spike until the injury is healed…which will take minutes to a human’s weeks to months.”

Chapter 2

I just clutch my stomach as it growls louder as the smell of blood fills my nostrils. I turn away as he throws the guts to the men who caught the animals, but I do hear as they growl and fight over them. Keegan says, “As you get used to what you are now, you will begin to enjoy the tastes of the entrails and raw meat…most find the heart and liver especially delicious.” I don’t even turn in response to him speaking, but my stomach growls again. I can smell the meat cooking and eventually turn to face him again. He smiles at me when we make eye contact and says, “So…I have done most of the talking today…how about you say something.” I reply, “I know that I am barely able to care for myself right now, but why is it so important to you that I stay?” He replies, “You are an observant one aren’t you. Sure there are other women in the pack, and my pack is far larger than most so adding new ones is not necessarily my main concern right now…so I will level with you.”

Then he looks shocked as if he just burned himself. He smiles at me and laughs, “You know what I just realized…I don’t even know your name.” I reply, “You never asked. You just dragged me around the forest all day assuming that I want to be here. I will say that I am grateful for the food, but what you did to those hikers was just wrong…they had done nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He replies, “Someday you will stop thinking like a human. It is hard for you to understand what I have done right now, but with time you will see that I was just doing my duties as an alpha. Now, how about you tell me your name.” I look from him to the sizzling meat and he follows my gaze. He smiles before saying, “Alright…here’s my offer. You tell me your name and I’ll let you dig into this feast.” A breeze picks up and the smell of roasting meat wafts by making my stomach growl again. I know that it is only going to get worse if I wait, so I meet his gaze and say, “My name is Danny.”

He stands up, takes a step back and says, “Well Danny, this feast is yours, and the reason I want you to stay is that you remind me of myself when I was a newblood. On the bright side the extreme hunger in the beginning means that the changes will come quickly so you will not be susceptible to the newblood’s hunger for more than a week…maybe a month at the longest. After that you will be able to survive and be content with normal amounts of food unless you exert yourself a lot…and I do mean a lot. What I did today was minimal…after all that I may be hungry enough to finish off one of those small rabbits but I won’t be starving if I skip a meal. Besides, I had a couple of the smaller fish I caught earlier as a snack while I waited for larger ones to bite.” My stomach growls again and it takes all my self control not to jump on top of the roasted boar and rip a chunk off. He smiles as he hears it growl, then says, “You know that manners are a human thing…I can tell you are holding yourself back. Come on, dig in or I am going to take it as an insult to my cooking skills.” I stand up and walk the short distance to the fire. The boar is on a make shift spit and after I smell the freshly roasted meat my stomach wins and my manners fail as I dig in face first. Three bites in the whole thing becomes a blur and I lose track of everything around me. When I finally snap back to reality, the boar is picked clean and so is one of the rabbits. The other one has a couple bites out of it but my stomach finally feels full again. Keegan is just smiling at me. He takes what’s left of the second rabbit and takes a bite. After he swallows he says, “You know I think your hunger just might be a bit stronger than mine…which I find even more irresistible. The stronger your hunger the stronger the connection to the beast within…need I say more?” I just lay there content and finally full. He takes another bite then says, “I now know why you partially changed earlier when she attacked you. I’ll bet you didn’t even think about it… that it just happened right.” He smiles then says, “If I had to guess, you would change under a full moon even if you didn’t want to. The slightest of provocation and you will change…including the direct light of a full moon or even if you were to glimpse it through the tree branches. You will be quite the addition to my pack.”

I look up at him and ask, “What was it you did to me last night…I don’t remember anything after you forced me to look at the moon,” He smiles saying, “Oh, that…it’s an old werewolf trick, but it only works a couple times before it loses its effectiveness. What it does is surfaces the beast within you…so until you make peace with your beast, it will run free if you get a good view of the full moon. Works great for getting new bloods to come back here because most people’s beasts will view pack life as safe and will willingly follow a small group back to their den if they act friendly towards them. So it will work only until you make peace with what you are and accept the beast within, then you will truly feel the changes occurring within your body. Until then your body will be capable of great things but your mind will be too closed in to notice or use them effectively. You and your beast must be in harmony before you can take true advantage of what you are.”

 I reply, “And what if I do not want to embrace the beast within me?” He almost drops what’s left of the rabbit as he begins to laugh. He then realizes I am serious and stops. He says in a matter of fact tone, “Trust me, with time everyone embraces the beast within them. It is hard to ignore forever…and the more you ignore it, the more pissed it gets. I know it is hard for you to grasp right now, but you are no longer human and there is nothing you can do about it. Sure you could constantly expose yourself to silver to prevent yourself from changing, but then you will still have the hunger from your body having to continually repair itself. You are not and will never again be human. The sooner you accept that, the easier things will be for you.” I turn away from him and stare at a tree as I think through what he has just said. Behind me I hear him say, “You may not like it, but it is the truth.” Then I hear his footsteps as he walk away still crunching through the bones of the rabbit as he continues to eat it.

I sit there and stare at the tree for hours locked in thought. The sun sets and I still haven’t moved. I know my body will be stiff when I do, but still cannot help but replay over all the info and events I have seen and heard in the last 24 hours. A light drizzle begins to come down and I continue to sit unmoving as I try to replay everything. At times I wait for myself to wake up, and others I try to rationalize it. Eventually I come to one conclusion…this is very real, I am not dreaming, I am not hallucinating… I am a werewolf. Now what to do with this information…I cannot change what I am now by thinking it over, but I do keep getting a weird feeling I can’t pin down that surfaces every so often. The drizzle turns to a pour, then in the distance I can hear the roll of thunder. I ignore it as it draws closer. I was soaked hours ago and though I know I should be freezing cold and shivering, I feel perfectly fine in this rain. It is a minor annoyance but I know if I were still really human I should be worried about catching a cold or freezing as I sit here.

Suddenly I am shocked out of my thoughts as lightning strikes the tree in front of me, splitting it down the middle. I jump out of the way just in time to avoid being squashed, but I have skillfully managed to wedge my chain beneath its fallen trunk. I punch the fallen trunk in frustration and a small section splinters around my hand. I pull my hand back expecting pain or for it to be coated in splinters, but it is completely unharmed. I decide to test out just how much stronger I am now. I take a wide stance and shove both hands beneath the tree. I slowly try to lift up and my grip begins to slip as it inches slowly upwards, then all of a sudden my fingers catch and my grip holds. I let out a deep growl as I slowly lift it over me and throw it away from my chain. When I look down at my hands after, I do not recognize them. There are claws where fingernails should be. Then I realize that they were not the only thing to change. My teeth are sharpened and have cut open the inside of my lip. I can taste my own blood, and the taste does not bother me. I try to yell out in frustration, but instead it comes out as a long sad howl. When I stop I feel a hand on my shoulder and jump in surprise. It’s Hunter. His hair is flattened down by the rain, but I still recognize him. He says, “Maybe it’s best that you come into the cave. This storm is getting pretty brutal, and Keegan would not be happy with me if I let you get squashed by a tree.” I try to respond but it comes out as more of a growl. He doesn’t flinch, he instead says, “You have gotten worked up and the exertion of lifting the tree has caused a partial transformation. Those will become less frequent with time. Well the uncontrolled ones will become less, but you are certainly the type to be able to invoke at least a partial if not a full transformation with or without the moon present. But for now, I will help you reverse the changes as their presence seems to be bothering you.” He takes a step back, moves his hair out of his eyes then says, “What you must do is focus on your human self. Focus on what you look like, what you feel like, and focus on calming yourself down. If you can do that, then you will slowly return to your human form. This is the simplest but slowest method, but right now I don’t think you are ready to handle the others.” I close my eyes and picture myself, five foot seven, slightly athletic build, light brown hair, not much of a tan despite so much exposure to the sun, light blue almost grey eyes, oh yes and most importantly HUAMN…as in no fangs, no claws, no tail, or fur… yes those bits are quite important in my picture of me. When I open my eyes the claws are gone and I breathe a sigh of relief. Hunter guides me to the cave and then to the furs laid out for me. He towels himself off then throws me one as well saying, “You may not have to worry about catching a cold, but you will thank me when your bed doesn’t stink from the moisture.” I towel off and lay down on the furs, which are cozy but still make me miss the comforts of home.

When I wake up the rain has gone and the sun is barely peeking over the tree tops. My body feels stiff but I know it won’t last long if I stretch. I yawn, stretch and hear the chain holding me here rattle. My good mood instantly fades as I remember all that has happened. Then I remember that all of my gear is back at the campsite. Keegan walks up with a roasted boar saying, “I brought you breakfast…I’m hoping this is enough.” I turn away from him, ignoring the growing pains in my stomach as the hunger begins to return. I cannot help but feel like a prisoner…a well fed prisoner…but still a prisoner just the same. He asks, “What is the matter? I know you must be hungry. Hunter told me about last night…so you must be feeling its bite by now.” I ignore him and try to ignore the hunger growing within me. He kneels beside me saying, “What is it…there is some reason why you are unhappy.” Without looking at him I say, “Would you be happy if you were a prisoner?” He replies, “But you are not a prisoner. A prisoner would be treated far worse.” I stare straight ahead as I say, “If I am no prisoner then why must I stay here?” He replies, “You must stay because you cannot survive on your own right now. It’s for your safety that you are chained.” I reply, “So you say…but have you ever thought about what I may want?” H replies, “We are providing you with what you need…what you want is irrelevant.” Hunter walks up saying, “Keegan, just take a moment to think this out. She has been through quite a bit these past couple days and what do we do? We chain her to a wall when she is probably full of pent up energy. It feels like a punishment no matter what we call it. What we have done is ripped her away from everything and everyone she has known, thrown her in the middle of a pack she barely knows, and to top it off, we keep repeating the phrase; it’s for your own good. You forget that you joined this pack of your own free will, as did many others…and while all those who were forced into staying here in the past have stayed we cannot forget that she still is thinking like a human in a werewolf’s body. If we push her too far, too fast, she will resent us forever.” Keegan sighs then says, “You are right, but we cannot just let her go either.” Hunter replies, “She had been deep in thought about something maybe you should find out what it is…” Keegan looks from him to me then asks, “Is there something that you have been thinking about?” I reply, “There are many things I have been thinking about. I think about home, my friend, what happened, is this whole thing for real, and all my gear I had to leave behind because I was forced to stay here.” Hunter smacks Keegan saying, “There you go. Something you can do.” Keegan replies, “What are you talking about?” Hunter kneels down saying, “You can let her go get her stuff.” Keegan asks, “And why exactly would I do that?” Hunter replies, “For many reasons. It’ll make her feel more at home, let her stretch her legs, and it’ll keep any nosey search and rescue people from getting hope and scouring the area on this side of the river.”

Questioningly I ask, “This side of the river? What’s on the other side?” Hunter replies, “Well, below the waterfall there is a bridge connecting the two sides where the river is narrower, so humans can roam both sides, but most of their campsites are on that side…it’s why we stick to this side unless we have to cross it for some reason…which is rare.” Keegan says, “Yes, but all that doesn’t matter because I can’t let her roam around on her own.” Hunter replies, “Then the answer is simple. Send someone with her.” Keegan smiles at Hunter saying, “Thanks for volunteering.” Hunter replies, “Ha, I said someone, not me. I already did my newblood babysitting duties. Send one of those muscle bound morons with her. Then they can jam up the landing and keep search boats from stopping there.” Keegan replies, “I’d rather it was you with her, but I did already call in my favor…so I will get one of the others to do it…but she has to eat before she goes so that there are no accidents and she will need to stay on a leash.” He looks at Keegan then says, “You get the traveling leash on her and I’ll go find someone to take her.” He then looks down at me and says, “Eat this then you can go get your stuff.” I pick up the roasted boar and the smell makes my stomach growl even more. I don’t think I could have stopped eating even if I wanted to. I am finishing picking it clean when Hunter comes in with a shorter chain and lighter collar. Keegan walks up with another man a few seconds later. I drop the boar skeleton, lick my fingers and stand up before wiping my hands off on my shirt.

 The man with Keegan immediately walks over and forces my hands behind my back as he gruffly says, “Make the switch, she won’t go anywhere.” Hunter glares at the man but says nothing as he skillfully switches out the collars. He then offers the end of the chain to the exceedingly muscular man saying, “Be gentle or Keegan will have your hide.” The muscular man glances over Hunter’s shoulder to Keegan who nods once in response. He says, “Fine, I shall pamper this new blood. I doubt she will be that much trouble.” He wraps the chain around one muscular arm then tugs on it saying, “Come on, let’s get this over with quickly. I hate babysitting newbloods.” He roughly tugs me along behind him for about 20 minutes before he gets annoyed by my slow pace. He slings me over his shoulder saying, “This will take hours at this pace.” He wraps the excess chain up his arm, then takes off at a sprint through the forest. He continues to run for at least a half an hour, leaping over fallen trees and boulders as if they were low hurdles. He begins to slow down and sniff the air. He makes a gagging noise then says, “It reeks of humans…we must be getting close.” After another five minutes or so of searching…he leaps into the clearing with my tent. He sets me down saying, “You have five minutes to pack up your stuff then we are blockading the landing and heading back.” He lets the chain go slack; holding on to the end and letting the rest pile on the ground. I walk over to my bag and check it over, everything is still in its appropriate place and unharmed. I drag my bag over to the tent, then begin to pack the tent into it. It is a tight fit, but the waterproof bag barely closes with the new addition. I look at him and say, “That should be everything.” He doesn’t say anything, but turns and walks down to the bank. I follow him as the chain is maybe 10 to 15 ft long and the beach is at least 30 ft away. He grabs a fallen log along the way and grunts as he easily throws it over one shoulder. He sets it down at the edge of the water on the rocky shore, then begins to wrap the chain around the middle. I ask, “What are you doing?” He replies, “You are a newblood unable to properly channel your beast’s strength, so you will just be in the way. At least if I tie you here where I can see you, then I can use both of my hands and get this done faster.” When he is done securing the chain he gives it a good tug to test if it will hold. He smiles at his work then says, “Now stay here and don’t cause any problems.”

He trudges down the bank gathering large chunks of drift wood. I now have maybe 7 feet of slack, so I just sit down and lean against the log. He begins to pile the driftwood along the bank in a barricade formation. He started on the downstream end and worked his way towards the log where I am chained. When he finishes piling up driftwood downstream of me; he looks at the gap between the log I am chained to and the other side of the bank. He scowls as he says, “Damn it’s probably just wide enough for a single boat…I’m going to have to fill it in as well.” He then looks to the trees nearby and smiles saying, “I’m tired of hauling wood around. Stand back and I’m going to bring a tree down to fill in the gap.” I walk to the end of the chain in the opposite direction as he walks a couple steps into the woods. He tests out a medium sized tree near the edge. Then he moves to a closer one that is about as wide as he is and tests it as well. He takes a step back and rams his shoulder into the larger tree and I can hear it begin to strain and crack. He steps back and hits it again. This time I can see cracks begin to form near the base. When he steps back this time it is clearly at a slant. He braces himself then with all his force lands a solid kick on its trunk. It crashes to the ground, half in the water, half on land…and shoves the top of the log I am attached to into the current of the river. It only takes seconds for me to realize that something is wrong, but even then it is too late as the current sweeps the rest of the log and me with it further into the river and quickly downstream. I am pulled off my feet and into the freezing water. I struggle to reach the surface as my clothes drag me down…then again the solid steel chain doesn’t exactly help with buoyancy. When I do break the surface I see him leap into the water after me. I get dragged through and bounce off some submerged rocks that form the rapids. When the river forks the tree pulls me down the path on the right, but hard as he tries, he cannot seem to catch up. He swears and swims to the side.

 He swears again, then says “Keegan’s going to kill me.” He runs along the bank and makes a little ground but not much. An expression of horror crosses his face then I look downstream and see why. There is a waterfall coming up and by the roaring sound it is making…I doubt it is a small one. I briefly wonder and hope that when I shoved the raft into the river it took the left path that gently slopes down before rejoining with the other part of the river rather than my friend plummeting off a waterfall and his corpse being splattered across the rocks at the bottom, but a wave to the face causes me to gag and spit up water as I snap back to the fact that I may soon find out that answer in an extremely painful way. I look over to the riverbank and see him pushing himself harder to catch up but the ground is becoming rocky and uneven. He barely keeps pace as I continue to be battered by rocks. Then the log tumbles over the edge of the waterfall.

 I get caught between a couple large rocks and the chain pulls tight strangling me as the log dangles below. He comes to a stop on the bank nearby I can see him debating jumping in until he looks over the edge. He shouts, “I’m going to go get help…Don’t die while I’m gone.” He runs off into the woods as I continue to struggle for breath. I manage to get both hands under the collar and lift up a bit. I manage a good breath of half air and half water as my arms support the weight of the tree. The collar begins to stretch as gravity and the pounding water pulls the log down. I move my hands to the sides and begin to try to pull it apart. This one is weaker than the one before and begins to give way. Then I see a large log floating towards me and know that I will be knocked over if I don’t do something fast. I do the math, and at a full sprint he was at least a half hour away from the werewolf den and help. With a surge of adrenaline I break the collar and take a gasping breath. I hear the log shatter on the rocks below. Then I try to move away from the rocks, but find that the current is extremely strong. I am still half clinging to the rock when the log hits me. Instinctively my claws come out and I can hear them scrape as it swings me over the edge. I dangle from one hand as my claws catch. I make the mistake of looking down to scan for smashed remains of the raft or my friend’s corpse, and realize that it is maybe an 80ft drop down to some very jagged rocks at the bottom. But, on the bright side there is only shattered logs down there and no traces of my friend or the raft. I can also see the glimmer of the chain as it is splayed across them. I concentrate and my other hand gains claws as well. I dig it in then begin to slowly free climb my way over to the bank. It takes me maybe 10 minutes to get there and haul myself over the edge. I flop onto my back and take some deep breaths. Then I realize that I don’t really want to go back…they chained me up, killed people without a second thought, and keep insulting the human race. I get up cough out a bit of water then run down the beach. I know that I don’t have long before they come looking for me. I can feel the hunger growing as I push myself to keep running. It takes me a little over five minutes at a solid sprint to reach my old campsite again.

I grab my bag and turn to leave when I remember…I left a bear bag with all the food for my trip with Ryan dangling from a tree. I walk over and quickly release the string holding it in the air. It crashes to the ground and I hurriedly wind up the string. Then an idea hits me…both bags are waterproof and they rarely cross to the other side of the river. I put the back pack on and pick up the food bag I could have sworn weighed a lot more last time I picked it up. I run down to the break in the barricade where my log slipped into the river. I spot some large rocks close to the surface of the water. I take careful aim then begin to leap from one to the other as I cross the river. I get most of the way across before I run out of rocks. I take a deep breath and jump into the river, keeping one fist clenched around the rope of the food bag. It takes a lot more effort than I thought to reach the other side, but I eventually drag myself up onto the shore. I shake myself dry then pick up the food bag and run into the woods. I keep running until I am sure I am out of sight from the river, then I slow to a walk.

I wander through the forest wondering what to do now, when I come across a large tree with a cozy looking space in its canopy large enough for my tent…if I were to build a platform for it to sit on. I am immediately glad that I packed a wilderness survival kit into my bag. I snug up the straps of my bag, tie the rope from the bear bag around my waist then focus on getting claws back to make it easier to climb. My stomach is beginning to growl but I know I need to secure a safe place to sleep for the night.

As I climb the tree I wonder just how long the food in my bag will last. It was supposed to last 2 people 2 weeks…but with my recent crazy appetite I am unsure just how long it will actually last. With a final grunt I haul myself up into the open space of the canopy. With a couple slight modifications this space will accommodate my tent and my gear nicely. I secure the food bag to a sturdy branch and my back pack to another before I open it and begin to hunt for the collapsible axe and hand saw that is no more than a flexible blade with a loop on either end for gripping. I also take out one of the bundles of rope and sling it over my shoulder. I stuff the saw deep into one pocket and use a d-ring to secure the axe to one of the belt loops on the back of my pants. I close the backpack back up and tie one end of the rope to a thick branch. I check the knot, then throw the rope down. It unravels as it falls. When it hits the ground it still has a fair bit of excess left. I grab the rope and begin to slide down. After a few feet the rope begins to burn my hands and I reflexively let go. I free fall the last 50 feet or so and watch the ground racing up to meet me as adrenaline surges through my body making my heart race. I hit the ground feet first and my knees bend absorbing the impact. My hands hit the ground moments later to stabilize my balance.

Surprised that I am not dead I look at my hands. Dirt and leaves are stuck to the blood that leaked out from where the rope burned my hands, but when I rub them together it all wipes off and there is no trace of a wound. I stand up as I continue to stare at my hands. Then a slight growl from my stomach brings me back into focus. I immediately begin to chop down trees that are roughly 8 inches in diameter. I pile them on top of the rope’s excess after stripping them of their extra branches, and when I get a stack of a dozen or so I tie the rope around them in a secure knot. I then begin to gather sturdy binding materials such as non poisonous vines and use my knife to strip the sturdy bark off of some of the medium sized trees and use the thin and flexible material between the bark and the tree, wound together, to make a flexible but sturdy rope worthy of binding logs together. I gather it up in bundles and sling them over my shoulder. I begin to climb up the rope and it goes far smoother than those awkward times in gym class when I was younger. I can remember when free climbing a rope was near impossible, but right now I find myself practically flying up the rope without really even needing to use my legs. When I reach the top my stomach begins to growl a bit louder. I hang the bundles on a sturdy branch nearby and begin to slowly haul up the large bundle of trees that would normally be impossible for one person to do…in fact this many trees of this size would usually require half a dozen men at least, but I pull them up without even breaking a sweat. I find it more awkward to find a place to store them where they will not fall than it was to haul them up by myself.

After I find a safe place to store them I untie the rope and begin placing them in between the branches and using the binding materials to secure them in place. Each tree is made into one or two lengths for the platform with a healthy bit of extra for safety purposes. When I secure the last tree in place I look at the large platform and realize that it is a bit larger than I had anticipated but will still work for what I want. I step onto it and test its strength. It barely bends under my weight. I haul the food bag onto it and eat a couple power bars before finding the beef jerky. I limit myself to one packet and reluctantly put the rest back. I also realize that most of the food we packed requires rehydration and I don’t have much fresh water in my supplies. I know where the river is, but don’t want to risk the other werewolves spotting me.

Then I remember that they said the humans camped on this side…and most human campsites have running water and some form of rest room facilities along with a fire pit. I am about ready to head out to find the nearest one when I realize that I may want to think about everything else I want to accomplish today so that I am not making so many trips up and down the tree. The more times I go up and down the faster my food supply will run out. My stomach gives a slight growl in response. I sit on the platform and think about everything I need to do before I can sleep tonight. I know I need to set up a shelter, find a supply of fresh water, possibly secure a meal of fresh meat to save my reserves of other food for when I am not able to hunt for some reason, and if there is time, scout the nearby area for anything useful or dangerous.

As for shelter I take the tent out of my bag and use some thin but sturdy string to tie it to the platform where the steaks would go. It takes 10 maybe 20 minutes to do. I set up my sleeping bag and throw my gear bag inside. I then dig out the boots from within the bag. I replaced the laces in them with 550 paracord which was a trick my father taught me when I was young. I take the laces out and put the boots back in the bag along with the saw and axe. I keep the knife and dig out a collapsible 5 gallon water container along with another roll of rope and the machete. I remember how Ryan had mocked me saying I forgot the kitchen sink when he saw how much I had packed…but now I am glad I listened to my gut and packed the thorough survival kit. It made my pack weigh a ton, but I figured we weren’t hiking, so it wouldn’t matter anyway. I secure the equipment to me then zip up my bag. I reversed the direction of the rain fly on the tent so the intact side was covering the gaping hole in the back…which I am using as my entrance. It’s not rain proof but close enough.

I look at the rope, remember what happened last time, then simply step off the platform. Again I gracefully land as my legs absorb the impact without the slightest strain. I take out my machete and quickly make some arrows and a sturdy bow out of the tree scraps and the 550 paracord. I use the other boot lace to hold the arrows. I made 10, but know that I will need more eventually, especially since they have wooden tips and will probably require multiple to make a kill. When I am finished I sling the bow across my back and decide to head away from the river to find a camp site. As I walk I occasionally stop to mark a tree with a pattern so that I can find my way back. After 10 minutes of walking in a fairly straight line I stumble onto a well maintained camp site. I am not sure whether I should be happy or upset by how close my make shift home is to people…then again who knows how often each camp site is used. I quickly find the water pump and fill up my water jug. And follow the trail I made back to my tree house. I tie the jug to the bottom of the rope then haul myself up it again. When I reach the top I quickly haul the water jug up. I secure it to the platform then am about to jump down when I hear movement below.

I freeze and begin to scan the area, looking for the source.  It is a wild boar. It’s probably 50-70 lbs not exactly a large boar, but enough to satisfy my hunger for at least one meal I hope. I know that this first shot has to count. I carefully take aim and fire. I will admit that it was one heck of a lucky shot. I would have missed entirely if the boar hadn’t unwittingly stepped into the path of my arrow. It squeals and begins to run before I can steady another shot. I grip the bow in one hand as I leap from the platform in the direction of the boar. I chase after it and realize that I am practically flying through this forest. Normally the boar would be out of site by now, even wounded, but I am actually catching up instead. It stumbled from its wound and I am on it in a second, jabbing my hunting knife deep into its heart. I grab a leg and begin hauling it towards the direction of the campsite. It doesn’t take long to find again. When I get there I skin and gut the boar. I throw it on the fire grate then realize I need to build a fire. I quickly gather up the wood then begin to try and start the fire by banging a couple rocks together because I know I left my fire starting kit in the bag. I eventually give up and sit back as I debate leaving my kill to get my kit, when I remember the lighter my father gave me for the trip when he mocked me for bringing a flint and steel striker…saying that the modern age had better solutions than banging a couple rocks together. I only hope that it stayed dry when I took a dip in the river. I pull it from my pocket and it easily clicks to life. I hurriedly light the kindling with it and feed the growing fire with the wood I collected. Soon it is blazing and the boar is roasting nicely. I throw the guts in the bear proof garbage bin along with the skin. I don’t want to attract wild animals to this human site after all.

It doesn’t take long before it is thoroughly cooked. I hurriedly scarf down the meal which barely manages to calm my stomach before getting rid of the remains and heading back into the woods. I begin to explore the area immediately surrounding my tree top home. I make sure to always keep my tree home in view as I check for anything that would be useful or harmful to me.

I don’t find much but in a way that is good. I head back to my tree top home as the sun begins to set and eat a couple power bars before going to sleep. It doesn’t fill me up, but it does quiet my stomach.

The next day I wake up and feel as if I haven’t eaten in a week I am almost crazed by the level of hunger I am feeling. Ok…almost crazed is kind of being generous. I leap out of my sleeping bag and take off through the tree tops…which is definitely not normal…and not what I was expecting seeing as how I was crippled by hunger and barely able to move the other day. As I fly through the tree tops I spot a deer…I don’t even think about it, I just leap from the tree and pounce on the deer…the next part is kind of blurry, but I do remember coming to right before I am about to rip open it’s stomach with my fangs…yes fangs, not teeth and man is it hard to reverse them as my stomach continues to growl. I drag the deer to the nearby camp site and begin the process of gutting and cooking it. After I finish my large breakfast I look at the remains and then know that I must keep whatever I can to keep myself from having to kill for every meal. I strip what I can from the carcass and throw the rest away. I bring the rest of the meat back to my tent and store it in one of the plastic baggies I brought to keep my gear dry incase the bag’s seal failed.

I grab a couple of the extra baggies and my wilderness survival book along with my knife and a few other necessities then jump down and pick a direction. Over the next few weeks I explore the forest. I collect edible plants and berries, double checking them against the book of course. I discover many other camp sites and some creeks and things, I even find a map of the park and use it to go explore the parts of the forest that seem like they may make a better housing situation for me. Even though it took a lot of work to make, I know that my current home is far too close to the other werewolves for my comfort. Over the next few weeks I see campers come and go, and I use their presence to grab a few necessities that the forest can’t provide. I always make sure that I am never seen and that the missing items are not extremely important. I take pens, pencils, a notebook, a small back pack, some spare sets of clothes that are roughly my size, some matches, because I still suck at starting a fire by hand, and the occasional soda as my body still craves caffeine and it hits hard when I see those wonderful cans. I begin keeping a journal of my days just to keep my sanity and to document everything that has happened and everything I have learned both from living as what I am and what I was told during those first crazy days. As the next moon approaches I can feel it. The fuller the moon gets the more enhanced my senses become, and the easier it is to accidentally transform, even in part. As the moon got fuller it seemed like the slightest exertion would cause me to grow teeth or claws…one time I even grew a tail before I caught it.

Unfortunately…the night of the full moon is a night that the campsite right next to me gets used. This was the night that I met Ben…the kid who I swear to this day does not know the meaning of the word no… just like Keegan. I had no intentions of meeting either one of them, but my hand was forced both times. Keegan hunted me down and found me…how I met Ben was more of my choice…but if I did nothing he probably would have died. I met him when a bear came to investigate the smell of some rotting fish guts that were carelessly thrown into the edge of the forest by the campsite’s previous residents. I knew not throwing them in the bear bins would cause trouble, but I also figured that the smell would be there either way and I am really not fond of handling rotting guts.

That morning I woke up to the sound of a bear’s roar and that of a human screaming in terror. I bolt from my tent and through the tree tops in the direction of the scream. It takes me less than a minute to cover the ground between my home and the campsite. I pause briefly on the last tree as I take in the situation before me. A teenage boy…no more than 15 or 16 years old is plastered to the side of his RV as he stares at an adolescent grizzly bear. I can also hear the sound of a TV blearing from within the RV…my guess is that his family doesn’t even know that he is in danger. I leap from the tree branch and land between the two. I glare at the grizzly bear and let out a low warning growl. I can feel my teeth begin to shift and change as I growl and an adrenaline rush kicks in as I stare down an animal that every fiber of my human self says to run from and hope it doesn’t eat you. Of course the wolf within me is unafraid knowing that a friendly pack is near should the situation become unmanageable. Though to the human part of me; calling on the aide of that pack may as well be worse than death. The bear looks slightly confused to hear the sounds of a wolf coming from a squishy pink thing. I growl “leave, now.” It seems to understand me but stands its ground. I take a step forwards, make myself look as big as I possibly can and shout, “GO” which turns into a howl by the end. I cut it off mid howl as I realize what I am doing…of course this confuses the bear even more and it begins to slowly back away.  At the tree line it turns and takes off into the woods. I let out a sigh of relief as the shape of the bear disappears into the trees, then I hear a voice behind me say, “That was AMAZING!” Without turning I take a moment to return the claws to fingernails and to shift my teeth back to normal all while repeating one word over and over in my head with increasing emphasis… ‘shit, shit, shit, Shit, SHIT, SHIT!’

Finally when I am certain that I at least look fully human again I turn and face this voice. It is the young boy. He stands maybe an inch or two taller than me and looks like he was dressed out of a designer catalogue for outdoor gear. Hesitantly I say, “It was nothing, just a little trick I picked up from camping in the woods for so long.” He replies, “I’ll say, that was one hell of a trick…it sounded exactly like a wolf.” I look into his pale blue eyes and see admiration and curiosity…both of those things scare me more than that bear. It is the night of the full moon, I know that I can barely control myself after the transformation, have a family less than a minute away from my tent, and one of them is probably about to ask me a ton of questions I know I can’t answer. I debate turning and running off into the woods after the bear instead of dealing with this, but my internal debate has taken too long. The boy holds out his hand saying, “My name is Ben…and I would be forever grateful if you could teach me that trick. I love wolves and have studied them ever since I could read.” I respond with an extremely eloquent “Uhhhhhhhhh.” He replies, “You aren’t much of a talker are you?” Every fiber of my being is screaming, “Get out of there NOW you idiot before you make things worse.” I point at where the smell of rotting fish is coming and say, “The bear came cuz there are rotting guts over there…I can smell them.” Somehow I can’t help but think that was not what I should have just said…which of course is confirmed when Ben replies, “Wow, you must have a great nose. I thought I smelled something rank when the breeze picked up awhile ago but I just thought it was the garbage bins.” Before I can say anything else stupid I point to the direction of my tree top house and say, “Well, it seems it’s all good here and my services are no longer needed, so I’ll just be going now.” I turn to leave but he grabs my hand asking, “I will see you again right?” Without turning around I reply, “It would probably be best if you didn’t.” I wiggle my hand from his and sprint into the woods and leap up to my make shift home in 2 jumps. I then sit there and analyze what just happened.

I don’t get much time to analyze as maybe 10 minutes later I can hear Ben’s voice below calling, “Hey are you up there? I gave you my name, but you never gave me yours.” I seriously debate not answering, but I don’t want him alerting the entire forest to where I am either. I crawl out of my tent and gaze over the edge of the platform as I ask, “If I tell you my name, will you leave me alone?” He answers, “Well I’ll let you be for now, but I may come back if I get bored. My family’s idea of camping is parking a trailer in the woods and living with all the amenities of home while ignoring nature.” I sigh and reply, “I left my name behind when I left civilization. What my name is doesn’t matter and if you know what is good for you; you will leave me alone.” He replies, “You know that people aren’t supposed to be living out here right, and if they do they have to use the camp sites and pay the fees.” I bite back my quick response as I almost tell him that I am not exactly to be considered people anymore. Instead I say, “Kid, I am a lost cause…it is probably best if you forget I ever existed. I don’t really have anywhere else to go either. So, can you just leave me be? I’m bad news.” He replies, “Fine.” Then slowly begins to walk back towards his camp site. The rest of the day is relatively uneventful, but I do keep getting the feeling that I am being watched at times.

As the sun begins to set; my level of dread increases. I make sure I am back in my tent and away from any possible rays of moonlight before the last rays of sun fade. Even though no moonlight can reach me, my body knows it is out there, and craves it. As I wait safely within my tent, it is so hard to sit still as the longer I stay still the more I want to move, to run, and to explore the woods. Half an hour after the moon rises I hear something straight from my nightmares…it is Keegan’s howl…and it’s way too close for comfort, but on top of that…the meaning is just as chilling. “I heard your call earlier today and have been scouring the woods for you ever since…so come find me if you value the life of your human friend.”

I am unsure of who this human friend is, but between my body begging me to move and my curiosity I decide to go and check it out. I pull on some baggy pants and a light jacket with a hood. I flip up the hood over my head and stuff my hands into the pockets to keep them from the moonlight before leaving my tent. I hit the forest floor with a gentle thud. I stick to the shadows as I make my way towards the direction of his howl. As I run I take my hands from my pockets to help me jump over obstacles and swing from branches. It takes about 15 minutes of running before I get the first whiff of Keegan’s scent. As it gets stronger I quicken my pace. Eventually a clearing comes into view and I immediately slow my pace. I stop at the edge of the clearing and stick to the shadows as I look in horror to the sight in front of me.

Keegan has Ben tied up to a make shift cross built from sturdy branches. A gentle breeze picks up and Keegan sniffs the air before saying, “I know you are close, I can smell you. Why don’t you come out here and show your human friend what you really are.” He is not my friend…more of a pest really, but at the same time he is in danger because of me. I stay put as I debate what to do. My debate is cut short when Keegan grabs Ben by the throat saying, “Show yourself now or I will kill this pathetic human.” I know he isn’t joking as the scene of him attacking those unfortunate hikers plays through my head again. I check to make sure my hood is in place, then stuff my hands deep into my pockets before slowly walking the last few feet into the clearing. Keegan doesn’t release his grip on Ben’s neck, but he does give me a toothy wolfish grin as he says, “So you did survive that unfortunate accident in the river. You know you had us worried you had died, but I refused to believe it. I refused to believe that someone with a hunger as strong as yours would let themselves die so easily…and I was right. I am also impressed that you managed to live this long on your own when you are so new to the blood.” I glance from him to Ben and say, “Let the boy go Keegan. He has nothing to do with this.” Keegan responds, “Oh but he does. He has EVERYTHING to do with this. You exposed your existence to this whelp of a human. You chose this pathetic human over a pack that welcomed you in with open arms. Don’t even try to deny it, I can small your scent on him, and you know what that means.” I growl, “Let him be Keegan. I showed him nothing…he would have never known had you not kidnapped him. And if you think that keeping me in chains is a way of welcoming someone with open arms…then you are more demented than I thought.” He lets out a low growl as he says, “Why don’t you show him what you really are then. Let him see you what for you really are, then let’s see how he treats you. Humans are all the same, what they don’t understand they fear, and what they fear, they kill.” I reply, “I will not. I am nothing like you and can survive on my own, I have proven that, so there is no reason for me to return to your pack, so let the boy go and leave here.” He replies, “There is so little you know about what you are. You need the help of a pack to keep you safe and to teach you how to embrace what you are. Give up these ridiculous notions of humanity and come back with me. Do that…and I just may spare this pathetic ape’s life.” I reply, “Let him go now, or I will never even entertain the thought of returning to your pack.” Keegan smiles as he says, “So you will return if I release him?” I reply “It’s not a promise that I will return to your pack…more of a promise that I won’t if you do not release him right now.” Keegan scowls as he says, “You leave me in a difficult position…but what you don’t realize is that you are in no position to make demands.” He tilts his head back and howls, “Come out my friends. She is clinging to her humanity. Make it so that the moon’s light can find her and remind her of who she really is.”

I take a step forward and growl, “Release him now or you will never have me.” Keegan doesn’t budge as two werewolves appear from the tree line and approach me from either side. I can feel my teeth begin to lengthen against my will and let out a warning growl as the other two continue their approach. It is still English but barely as I manage to growl, “Last chance.” Keegan replies, “You are in no position to make demands.” Then they are on me…and I know Keegan is right. They both lunge for me and I try to dodge, but with my hands buried in my pockets and the moon high overhead; my movements and balance is limited. If it weren’t for the long grass I know that the light would have found my feet already. After a couple of attempts one manages to get a hold of my left arm and within seconds the other one has a grip on my right one. I know in that moment that a change is imminent as adrenaline surges through my veins and I know I will need to take my hands from my pockets to escape their grasp. I brace myself for the pain and take my hands from my pockets as I attempt to pull my arms free. I do manage to get my arms free, but they had a strong grip on my arms and it was the seams of the sleeves on the hoodie like coat that gave out which allowed me to slide my arms from their grasp.

 I immediately feel the moon’s light on my arms and the changes are almost instantaneous. I barely manage to get the coat unzipped and off before it would have been shredded. I double over and fall to the ground in pain as the changes continue. The pants while loose…weren’t as lucky as the coat. They may be able to be salvaged as shorts at best.

This time it takes only a couple of minutes before the transformation is complete. I stand up and look at Keegan as I attempt to speak. Again it comes out a garbled mess… then in an angry growl I say, “You have made a bad mistake tonight. I may only be one person, but I happen to be one incredibly pissed off person. You denied all of my requests and have yet to acknowledge me as an equal. I cannot respect someone like that.” He replies, “Man do I love your hatred of authority. You are an alpha, you need only embrace it and we can be happy together.” I growl in anger and leap onto the nearest werewolf as I growl, “Leave me the hell alone. I do not want any of this and forcing it on me will not make me change my mind.” It is a short struggle as I catch him off guard and fling him into a thick tree. He does not get back up, but I am certain that he is still alive. I turn to the other one and charge. He charges back, but a bit late as I pick him up and smash him against a tree. He whines and thrashes, before I growl and bite deep into his shoulder. He stops struggling as he whines pitifully. When I release him, he runs off into the woods. Then I turn my attention to Keegan. He replies, “I refuse to fight you as I will not harm one I would consider my fellow alpha.” Then he runs off into the woods, dragging the unconscious werewolf behind him.  I race over to the cross and begin to untie a very confused looking Ben. I try to apologize and to explain that I won’t hurt him, but I know that all he hears is meaningless growls and grunts. So, I decide to take him back to his campsite and watch over him. I sling him over my shoulder and pick up what’s left of my coat as I pass by it. It is a short run back to his campsite where I gently set him down and am about to head into the woods when he says, “So this is why you live out here. I had my suspicions when we talked but now I know for real. They do exist. Werewolves are real.” I try to respond but all that comes out is a growl. He asks, “So why is it that other one can speak English and you can’t?” I use my claw to write in the dirt saying, “I understand English I just haven’t figured out how to speak it in this form yet.” He replies, “Hold on one second. I’ll be right back. Don’t move from this spot.” He runs into his camper and within minutes pops back out with a notebook and pen. He opens it to a clean page and offers it to me along with the pen. I take them as he says, “Here use these to write out your answers.” He then takes a deep breath and asks, “How long have you been like this?” It is wobbly and awkward with my clawed hands but I manage to write, “This is my second full transformation…ever.” He looks from my answer to me then asks, “Does it hurt?” I nod in response. He then asks, “Shouldn’t you be some enraged beast killing everything in your path since you are so inexperienced…or what did he call it…new to the blood?” I write, “I do not know, and I am tired of these questions. Go to bed and sleep safe. I will watch over your campsite and make sure nothing bad happens to you while you sleep.” I then shove the pad back to him and head for the tree line. He says, “Well could you at least tell me your name.” I let out a low growl and he replies, “I may not speak wolf, but that seems like a no.” I just keep walking towards the tree line and he says, “Yup a definite no, so I guess I will just have to name you myself. Hmm…I think I will call you Snow because of your white pelt.” I ignore him as I jump up into the tree branches and get cozy for a long boring wait. He heads into his camper but I can tell that he is not done with his questions. As the night drags on I inspect what’s left of my coat. It’s useable but only for covering the necessary bits. The rest of the night passes by smoothly and it is hard to contain my pent up energy and stay in one place as the night passes, especially once my stomach begins to growl.

By the time the sun begins to rise I know that I made a big mistake by not eating anything and staying guard the entire night, but it is too late to do anything about it as I lean back against the tree for support and think ‘so much for not having the hunger anymore.’ I wonder about what they told me and just how much of it I can trust. Shortly after the sun has risen I hear movement within the camper and I want to move but even thinking about it makes my stomach growl. I put on what is left of my coat and then fall back against the tree exhausted. A few minutes later Ben pops out of the camper. He walks over to the tree I’m sitting in and calls up to me, “I’m surprised you are still here. I thought you would have left by now.” I debate my answer. I don’t want to tell him that I haven’t left because I am too weak, but I do want him to pack up and leave before the moon rises again. I call down, “I am waiting to see you leave. Once I see that and know you are safe, then I will worry about what I want.” He smiles then replies, “I’ll bet that you stayed up there all night and didn’t hunt.” I let out a low growl as he continues, “And since this was only your second time you needed to eat to maintain your strength. In fact, I’ll bet that you can’t even leave now…even if you wanted to.” Surprised that he would know that when the other werewolves were certain the weakness from hunger would have left weeks ago… I am unsure of how to respond. He says, “If I am wrong, then by all means come down here and walk off into the woods and I will leave. But, if I am right then you will agree to answer my questions and possibly more once we have been better acquainted.” I reply, “Why should I agree to that?” He replies, “You talk tough, so if you really are waiting for me to leave then walk off into the woods and I shall do just that. If you cannot it will prove that you have lied to me and I shall take my compensation in the form of answers I expect you to answer truthfully.” I lean forward as I prepare to bark a response back at him, but instead I lose my balance and fall off the branch. I manage to get my feet under me, but when I hit the ground my knees collapse and I fall face first onto the ground. Ben rolls me over with one foot and grins down at me saying, “I thought so.” I reply, “Why exactly do you even know so much about werewolves anyway?” He answers, “As you are unable to walk into the woods; it is I who should be asking the questions.” He pulls out a plastic baggy of bacon and sausages then says, “I’m even willing to compensate you for it.” Just looking at the bag of cooked meat makes my stomach growl. I reply, “Fine ask your questions, but I will warn you that I am not exactly an expert on werewolves.” He takes a sausage out and asks, “Who was that guy who tied me up last night?” I reply, “His name is Keegan and he is the alpha of the pack that lives in these woods.” He drops the sausage into my mouth and it tastes amazing. I am not sure if it is because I am starving or that it was not cooked over a grill and half charred but it seemed to make me hungrier than I was before. He asks, “Why does he want you?” I reply, “I am not really sure. He keeps talking about me having a strong hunger and being an alpha or something, but I barely know what I am doing.” He drops another sausage into my mouth as he asks, “Have you ever stared directly into the moon after becoming a werewolf?” I reply, “Only once, but not by choice.” He drops a half a strip of bacon in my mouth then says, “Explain what you mean by that.” I look him in the eyes as I say, “The first night I transformed Keegan and a few of his pack hunted me down. When I refused to go with him he made me stare into the moon. Everything after that is a blur…until I woke up covered in the blood of a deer with my face practically buried in its guts. It wasn’t exactly my favorite memory.” He nods then drops the other half in.  I feel a bit of my strength return and haul myself into a sitting position. He asks, “Why did you come to my aide last night?” I reply, “Because he said he had my human friend, and while he was wrong about us being more than acquaintances I knew that I couldn’t let someone suffer because of me.” He hands me a sausage as he says, “I thought that werewolves were pack animals and fiercely loyal to their alpha, so why aren’t you a member of his pack? He does seem to want you pretty badly.” I reply, “He says that I am holding on to my humanity and that I am not letting myself fully embrace what I am. The truth is… I just don’t like him and his policies. My first day there was not exactly a happy memory.” He hands me another sausage and asks, “So what do you know about what you are?” I look up at him then down to the ground as I say, “Not much.” He says, “Ok we’ll come back to that one…why don’t you tell me what you plan on doing out here.” I ask, “What do you mean by what do I plan on doing out here?” He replies, “Well… you don’t know much about what you are, you are obviously not making the choices that are best for your own well being, and you don’t fit in with either the people or animals of this forest…so why are you out here?” I reply, “I am out here so I don’t harm innocent people.” He hands me a sausage then says, “So if I could promise to take you someplace where you wouldn’t harm anyone…would you go with me?” I reply, “I will not be a burden to anyone. This is my problem and I will learn to live with it or die trying.” He replies, “If I can prove that I know more about you than you do, then will you come with me?” I reply, “I have endangered you enough already. If I leave I am sure he will track me. Then you will be in danger again.” He hands me the rest of the bag of meat and says, “Ok…I know that you must know some of the basics of what you are, so why don’t you tell me what you do know. Maybe I can fill in some of the blanks for you.” I ask, “And why exactly would you do that…not to mention…I’m kind of curious as to why you seem to claim to know so much about werewolves.” He replies, “You tell me what you know and I will answer those questions.” I reply, “This whole thing is a blur really…off the top of my head I wouldn’t know where to begin, but that is probably why I wrote it all down in a journal.”

He looks from me to the woods in the direction of my tree house and I know exactly what he is thinking. I gulp down the remaining meat then take off after him as he jogs towards my home. The bag of meat wasn’t much, but it did get me onto my feet and stumbling. I make it to the base of the tree as he reaches the platform. I look up and my stomach growls. I know that I have a little bit of food left in my supplies…they would have been empty if I hadn’t borrowed some from campers who passed through the area. I decide to chance it and climb up after him.

 It’s slow going but eventually I make it up to the top. I pull myself over the edge as he puts my journal down saying, “So you barely even grasp the basics…but there were a few interesting facts in there for me as well.” I growl as I crawl into the tent with him and say, “What right do you have to go through my stuff anyway?” He replies, “Well since I have gotten my answers, it’s time I gave you some to those questions you asked earlier. The thing is that my family is loaded…and by loaded I mean rich. Like many people suspect the children of rich people are very privileged and often take up weird hobbies. Mine was werewolves. I have read every single book written about them, but you are the first one I have ever seen…of course that is probably because you are very new to your kind and know relatively nothing about what you are. I want to know what the truth of your kind is and the best way to do that is by getting a hold of one of them…ideally it would either be an extremely experienced one … or an extremely new one. So I ask you again…please come with me, I have the funding and the facilities to take care of you. I can teach you so much and you can show me the truth behind the words of the books I have read. Together we will test the literature and see just what the truth is. We can learn so much from each other. It would be a waste to walk away from this offer.” I reply, “Why should I trust you, and how could you possibly have the facilities to handle me in place already? I will change again tonight…that is not nearly enough time to build something to contain me…no matter how rich you are.” He replies, “True. You will change tonight, but ever since I got into the study of werewolves my parents have humored me, they even let me build a facility dedicated to this research when I was ten…that way in case I ever found one I could observe it safely…of course I doubt they ever expected me to find one…in fact I have been dragging them on these camping trips hoping to stumble across one…you may have noticed this already, but my family isn’t exactly the nature going type. But as I am their youngest child they spoil me extra and last year I even got them to fund a mobile containment unit so that I could safely bring one to my facility…so please I beg you…come with me. I don’t want to force you to come with me…but you are the only living proof I have that your kind exist…and I will have to seek out the other wolves of this forest that I met last night if you refuse my request.” I am about ready to say no when the full gravity of his last statement hits and I growl as I say, “That was an extremely idiotic statement. We both know those others wolves will kill you without hesitation, so that makes your statement a threat which makes me at fault should something happen to you because I refuse.” He replies, “Yup, I am that serious about my work. I want us to be friends, but if I have to I will do what I must to get what I want.” I reply, “You are a manipulative little punk you know that, and you have rich brat syndrome. You think that because you have money you can get whatever you want, but I am not for sale and I refuse to go with a stranger just because he threatens to throw his life away if I don’t. If you go away then so do my problems of someone knowing about my existence.” He looks me in the eyes as he says, “Now you are beginning to sound like them.” I bark my response, “Well maybe I am beginning to understand why they have such distaste for humans. I am not like you anymore. I could kill you with very little effort should I lose control, and yet you hound me and claim to be able to contain me, but where is the proof?” He smiles saying, “Then how about this deal…if I leave and return tonight after the moon has risen and am able to contain you…then you will come with me willingly and will have no hard feelings from me taking you from this place.” A helicopter passes by overhead and I am suddenly aware that the search parties that I had been dodging all month long haven’t stopped and I may not be able to freely roam the woods for some time…because even though they may not be searching for me anymore… who knows how long they will search for my body. I quickly think over my options before I reply, “Any person or beast will resent being captured and their freedom taken…but I will admit that I am a pathetic excuse for either right now. So, if you can contain me I will agree to give you a chance with your research on the conditions that it is non invasive and that I be allowed to leave should I want to.” He replies, “How about this…you will stay a mandatory 2 months and after that time if you still want to leave…should you decide you want to, then you can.”

I reply, “Why am I even considering this…I am agreeing to be caged like some side show attraction.” He replies, “You are agreeing to it because you know you need help and this forest only offers one other option…unless you want to figure everything out on your own.” I let out a low growl and he asks, “So, do we have a deal?” I reply, “I don’t like this…but I like them less…fine you get one chance, but mess this up and you may not live to get another.” He gives me a broad smile as he replies, “One chance is all I need. I’ll see you tonight. Pack up anything you want brought with you and leave it at the edge of the clearing for my campsite.” He puts my journal down and bolts out the opening and down the rope. My stomach growls and I deplete most of my food reserves. As I look into the near empty bag I know that right now I am barely surviving. I tell myself that accepting his offer can’t be worse than living how I am now. I pack up what little gear I have left along with everything I collected from the campsites and lower my bags down using the rope. I untie it from the tree and let it fall to the forest floor before jumping down. I pack it up and drag my bags to the clearing. By the time I get there the camper is already gone. I prop my bags against a tree on the edge of the clearing and wait for nightfall. -more to come just have to write and edit it...not sure when I'll get around to posting it...but please do enjoy what i have written so far.

Chapter 3

As the sun sets I am on edge. Every sound and smell makes me twitch as my body begs me to move and use the energy of the rising moon. I hear what sounds like a semi drive past the campsite on the road that winds through the forest, then a deer leaps into the clearing and I struggle to maintain control as my beast’s urges kick in. My stomach growls and begs to be filled as I cradle it in my arms. The beasts urges to hunt, kill, and feed grow as my sight locks onto the deer. The longer I watch it, the harder it becomes to suppress the beast within me. I can feel my teeth begin to shift and grow, then I feel my fingernails begin to bite into my exposed arms as they turn into claws. I try to shift them back with increasingly less success as the deer begins to harmlessly graze on the far side of the clearing. It doesn’t take long before I realize that I am fighting a losing battle as my hunger increases so does the beat’s control over my body. I give in and barely have enough time to shed my clothes before they would have been shredded.

Surprisingly the deer barely seems to take notice of me even though to me it seems like my bones popping and grinding as I shifted forms would have scared it off…if the sight of me shifting didn’t. Of course I am too focused on filling my stomach to think about anything else in any detail. I leave my clothes by my bags under the tree and charge the unsuspecting deer. It doesn’t look up until I am only a couple feet away. I am already mid pounce before I realize something is wrong…the deer didn’t even try to run when it looked up. It just stared at me. When I hit it, I realize why as it explodes shooting a net from its body to cover me. Within seconds I realize that this net was meant to contain werewolves. Its fibers are laced with silver and burn whatever parts of me are unlucky enough to be touching them. I struggle against the net for only seconds before a strong force begins pulling me across the ground and through the trees following the path the deer came from. Then I see the rope at the base of the net. I try to struggle against it again, but moving seems to cause it to burn more as it makes the net dig in on the opposite side as well as into my hands and feet. Then I see it, a large vehicle almost as long as a semi with tank treads for tires and thick armor plating all around it. The back is open and the rope disappears somewhere inside. I give one final effort to break free before I am pulled inside.

I hear the door slam shut behind me and something heavy slide into place. Then the lights flicker on and I see Ben sitting in a chair next to a control panel on the other side of a glass wall. He smiles saying, “See, my mobile containment unit was designed specifically with the strengths and weaknesses of werewolves in mind. It can both capture and contain a werewolf without ever putting any humans at risk.” He pushes a series of buttons then I feel the net around me loosen. He says, “You should be able to get out of that now. I have sent my bodyguards to go collect what is left of the bait deer along with your things. When they return; we will take off for my house.” It burns, but I manage to shrug the net off of me. When I do the rope pulls it up and out of the cage through a tiny hole in the glass ceiling that is too small for my arm to fit through. He says, “Go ahead, test out the strength of my containment unit. It is triple layered bullet proof glass.” I charge the glass and hit shoulder first with little result. I pound on it with my fits, then use my claws. They leave tiny scratches on the surface but nothing deep enough to compromise its integrity. Then the beast within me seems to realize that I am in a cage and not going to be seeing the moon while inside here. It surges up within me and catches me off guard. I am helpless as I watch myself bounce from wall to wall as I claw, bite, and tear up anything and everything in my way…which in this case was just the bedding materials that were left in the corner for me… key word here…WERE. By the time the beast within me settles enough for me to regain control; my heart is racing and my blood feels like it’s on fire. I am panting and feeling the hunger growing within me along with exhaustion from bouncing around this cage like a deranged psychopath. I look over to Ben who seems to be thoroughly interested in me. I try to say something but it comes out as a half garbled growl. I think to myself, ‘I either really need to learn how to speak English in this form…or at least remember that I can’t speak English while in this form.’ Ben says, “Good to see you back in control. We are almost there…any longer and I may have had to take measures to calm you down for safe transport to the other facility.” I growl and he says, “I am fully prepared to treat you as a wild animal if you act like one, but if you want to be treated as a human I am willing to trust you to behave like one…even in this form. So, what is it going to be? Do you want to test out the capabilities of my men and my facilities in caging a wild beast or do you want to do this the easy way?” I think for a second then decide to test the capabilities of his facilities to make sure he can contain me if I do lose control. I howl and pound the glass in front of him in response. He replies, “The hard way it is.” He pushes a button on the control panel and speaks into the microphone, “Coming in with a lively one, prepare for full containment measures.”

The vehicle grinds to a halt then begins to back up. This time when it stops the hydraulics hiss and the back panel of the truck begins to lower. I can see a tunnel lit by tiny windows on the walls and ceiling. My body craves the light streaming through them and I find myself plastered against the back wall waiting for it to open. It seems like it takes forever before the glass wall slides to the side covering the entrance to the part of the vehicle where Ben is at. I only hesitate for a brief second before jumping out of the truck and into the light streaming through the windows. Seconds after I land in the light a cover snaps over the window blocking out the light. The beast within me surges up and drives me forwards into the next pool of light only to have a cover snap over these windows as well. I know exactly what is happening. Ben is using the beast within me and my body’s caving for the moon’s light to drive me down the hallway. I debate being difficult and heading backwards but realize that it would be pointless because it is just a boring hallway and the truck is blocking the only other way out. I continue to follow the fading moonlight until there is only one pool of moonlight remaining before it turns into the harsh florescent light of the room beyond. I absentmindedly jump to the next pool of light, but hit a net made of tread so fine it looks invisible unless you stare closely. It surrounds me and within seconds it pulls me into the harsh fluorescent light. Thick silver plated steel bars snap down behind me followed by a pane of glass with thin silver plated cables crisscrossing through it for reinforcement. I look around and see more thick panes of glass reinforced with the thin silvery cables. I sway back and forth as I dangle in the net a few feet off the ground. I also see a steel table with sturdy restraints in the middle of the room and a soft pile of clean rags in the corner. I can see faint lines in the glass that mark different sized access hatches but none are large enough for me to fit through even if I did manage to get them to pop off. Then as suddenly as I was swept into the room I am dumped onto the ground.

I switch my attention to what lies outside the cage walls. Various pieces of expensive looking machinery and fancy equipment line the walls and tabletops. I am not surprised when I recognize very few of them. Then I notice a lone wooden shelf packed with all sorts of books both new and old, but all seem to have worn bindings. I walk up to the wall and punch it once to test its durability. It barely has any effect, only a hollow sound as the glass vibrates without any signs of giving way or cracking.

Ben enters through a side door and approaches the glass saying, “I’ll give you a choice. Since it is your first night here you can take it easy and relax…or we can get to work right away testing my theories and answering both of our questions. Since I know you are having troubles speaking English in your current form and I do not understand the language of the wolves let’s have a physical show of your answer. If you want to relax and have what’s left of this night to yourself, put your left hand to the glass. If you want to begin immediately, put your right hand on the glass.” It doesn’t take more than a couple seconds for me to decide my answer. I press my right hand to the glass and he smiles saying, “I was hoping we would both be equally anxious to discover the secrets you hold within you.” He walks over to the book shelf and pulls out a book with especially worn binding and begins paging through it as he says, “This is my favorite of all the ones in my collection and the hardest to come by…in fact I have never found another one like it. Though I am not surprised since this book looks to be bound before it was written. In other words…it’s a journal much like yours but of a much older and more experienced werewolf than yourself. It covers important events from the time he was turned all the way up to when he decided he had lived too long and began trying to end his life which was over 200 years long before he got tired of living and tired of worrying about having his secret found out by those who would force him to use his strength to harm others. In other words, he was worried someone would force him to become a weapon. He had lived for over 200 years and watched as mankind’s greed and bloodlust grew. By the end he feared that all the freedom he had lived with for so many years would be taken from him and that thought drove him to write this book that explained all he had learned about himself over those many long years, but it ends unexpectedly. It stops before he decides whether or not he will give man a chance to redeem himself in his eyes or end his life before he can be turned into a living weapon. In fact when I first read through this book I thought that it was just a scifi story without any real truth to it, but it did inspire me to look for more books about werewolves and to see if the words within this book are true or just another bed time story. I stumbled across this book in a back alley when I was young, and it is what started my obsession with werewolves. It also contains many passages within it that I have not been able to read no matter how hard I try to decode them, so let’s use one of the transformation techniques within here to have you change back to your human form so that you can speak to me in a language I will understand…I am hoping that you being a werewolf might be able to understand what I can’t.”

I look him in the eyes then nod once. He replies, “Then let’s begin. In all the books I have read they have all agreed that the most basic technique involves visualizing yourself in the form you want, but they also caution that this is the weakest and longest form of transformation and very unreliable on nights of the full moon, but it must be mastered before the second can be learned. So, let’s hope that since you aren’t directly in the moon’s light it works. This technique involves you visualizing the form you want to be in. In other words, create a mental image of yourself and what you look like. Be very specific, the clearer and more detailed the image the quicker and more reliable the transformation.” I close my eyes and once again form the picture of my human form in my mind. This time I try to include every detail I can think of in the image; including scars, birthmarks, and many other intricate details I hadn’t thought to include when I first tried this in the forest almost a month ago. When I open my eyes again I look down at my soft pink hands and know that it worked. Then I realize that if I am back to my human self…that means that I am standing in front of him naked. I quickly cover myself with my hands in an attempt at modesty. He points down where a set of baggy grey sweat pants and t-shirt are waiting for me. I quickly pull them on then look back at him waiting for what he will say next. He says, “Well it’s good to see that you are able to change back on one of these nights when the moon’s light isn’t on you directly, but what I really want to find out is what these passages say…but not only can’t I read them it says that they are only supposed to be read on nights of the full moon…but since I can’t understand them I have no clue why. Here is the first one.” He settles on a page then holds it up to the glass saying, “Please tell me that you can read it…and if you can…what does it say?” I begin at the top of the page and begin reading:

When someone is first bitten it is very important that they look directly into the moon on that first night so that they can fully connect with their inner beast, but if they are unaware of what they are doing they can easily be overtaken by the beast instead. This will result in a kind of blackout where the beast takes full control of the body until the moon sets or something shocks the human side back into awareness. This of course is the optimum time to have your first bonding with the beast within you, but if you are overtaken instead all is not lost. There is still time to do this, but being overtaken implies that the beast within is either very strong or very young. This concept is hard to explain and will be covered more in later passages. What is important right now is facilitating that first bond. If you were overtaken when first staring into the moon read the following passage.

The words change and it takes my mind a few seconds to recognize that not only can I read what it says, but that it was the beast within him who wrote it. A few sentences in the beast wells up within me and in a rough voice it makes me say, “Moon, I must see it now.” I continue to read the flowing words as they take me into a kind of trance. Within seconds I can feel the moon’s rays on my arms, but my body makes no attempt at changing as I stay transfixed on reading the passage. As I finish reading the final line I spin in place and look up through the skylight at the moon. The last thing I feel before I pass out is my body hitting the floor.

I wake up on a dark floor in a dark room. I look around and see only blackness, but I can hear something moving. I follow the sound and see a woman about my age jump up onto a large flat rock. She sits cross legged and stares down at me as she supports her head with one hand. I can see her one open eye glitter in the darkness.

I sit up and call out to her, “Who are you?” She replies saying, “So you are up already. I was expecting a longer wait.” I reply, “Of course I’m awake if I’m talking to you…but where are we?” She looks down on me saying, “You are a bit dense aren’t you?” I reply, “What do you mean by that?” She replies, “That you are a bit slow on these kinds of things…but in this case it could just be the shock and unfamiliarity with spiritual situations. So, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and be patient with you. Right now we are on a spiritual plain that only the two of us can freely access. It resides within your body and takes on whatever form we decide to give it.” I reply, “So if I wanted a little bit of light in here so that I could see more than your vague shape.”

Immediately a ring of candles burst into life and I can make out her shape clearly. Her face looks young but her hair is white with streaks of silver. She is wearing the dull gray clothes I had on before I passed out oh yeah…and the one eye I can see has a yellow almost golden pupil. I look up at her and ask, “So who are you exactly, and why would you have free access to a spiritual plane within my body?” She laughs saying, “Ok to be truthful it’s more of our body ever since you were bitten. I am the wolf spirit that bonded with you that night.” I reply, “You look awful human for a wolf spirit.” She replies, “I took this form for your own benefit. I only let a couple of my natural traits show so as to not scare you, but if you would prefer me take on my natural form; I have no problems with doing so.”

It is then that I notice that she has fuzzy wolf ears sticking up through her hair and a silver white wolf’s tail curls around her leg and into view. I fight the urge to smack my forehead and call myself dense as I managed to miss such obvious things. Instead I say, “Sure, why not. After all I take it that we are supposed to be using this time to get to know each other.” She replies, “So be it.” Her human shape dissipates as if it were a cloud of smoke and a giant white wolf with silver highlights in its fur takes her place. It is easily 20ft tall at the shoulders if not taller and I cannot help but suck in a startled breath at the sight of such a large and powerful creature.

I sound like a teen going through puberty as my voice cracks as I say, “Ok, maybe I would prefer you in that other form…it looks a lot less ready to eat me.” She laughs as she shrinks back down into her human form. Then she jumps down from the rock saying, “Well definitely not the worst reaction I’ve had to my true form…and on the first meeting as well. I think I just may grow to like you…that is if you learn how to listen to me.” I reply, “What do you mean learn how to listen to you?”

Her smile fades as she says, “Well since the first day we were bonded together you have not once acknowledged my presence, but I figured it was because you had not yet learned how to listen for my voice since it is not a physical vibration on your eardrums.” I reply, “So if it’s not a physical vibration on my eardrums then how do I hear you?” She sighs saying, “Exactly the same way you are right now…I would call you dense again…but I think it’s implied.” I reply, “You make it sound like I know how I got here.” She thinks for a second then says, “Ok…this is going to be harder than I thought.” I reply, “Well…if it makes any difference, I still have no clue what to call you.” She looks at me then says, “Oh right…I forgot that I never did introduce myself. My name is Tara, and we do not have much time here. Your mind is not currently capable of holding you on this plain of existence for long, so we must hurry if we are to accomplish anything. The most important of which is that you learn to listen to my voice. You feel my instincts and general thoughts but nothing specific because you don’t know how to listen to my voice properly. Part of your problem is that you still see this as your body…not our body. Whether you are doing it consciously or subconsciously it doesn’t matter because it has the same effect…the simplest way to deal with this problem is for us to fight in here. The winner of the fight will get to control the body. After a winner has been decided I will explain more…so ready yourself the first one to either pin or get the other to submit is the winner.”

I don’t get a chance to object or ask any questions because she is on me within seconds. I barely manage to dodge her first punch as it sails past my head then she continues with its momentum and curves her arm behind my head and forces my face into her rising knee. She follows it with an uppercut and I sail into the rock she was sitting on only minutes ago. I bounce off with a painful thud and land on my face. I groan and try to get up, but I feel her knee dig sharply into my back. She grabs both of my arms and pins them behind my back saying, “You are pinned, admit your defeat or I will be forced to injure you farther.” I reply, “I don’t exactly see how this is a fair fight, but I will admit that I am outmatched in this fight. You win.” She lets up the pressure in my back and releases me while saying, “Like I said before, the winner of the fight gets control of our body. For how long is simple…I will control it until you are able to pull me back into this plain of existence. Then more will be explained, but until then I am going to use my time to escape from this prison you saw fit to agree to be kept in without consulting me.” Then she disappears leaving me alone.

A minute later the plain of existence dissipates and I am back in my body, but no matter how hard I try to move my body…or rather stop it from moving, nothing happens. I try over and over again with the same result…I am helpless within my own body as I watch it bounce around the cage biting, clawing, and tearing anything in its way…but the cage holds firm.

Then as if reading my mind, on how I would escape from here, my body turns to the cage door I entered through and my eyes lock onto the glass door as they thoroughly inspect the seams for any possible weak points. As I spot one my body moves against my will towards it. I begin to think about how I can stop this…then I eventually end up with one answer. I have to force both myself and Tara back into that spiritual plane. I stop trying to force my body to move as I want it to and begin focusing on entering that spiritual plain. I push all thoughts of everything else from my mind and just focus on entering that plain and dragging Tara with me. My mind seems to speed up and slow down at the same time as I try to figure out how to find…let alone enter it. Eventually I feel like an idiot as I realize that it is nothing to find and that it is very simply just as Tara said…within both her and I. I turn my attention inward and within seconds I find what I am looking for. I appear back on the spiritual plain just as I left it…except that Tara isn’t here. I think…whatever I want to appear I just gotta think about…that is what she said right…. I smile as I close my eyes and do my best to form a clear picture of her. I think about that first image I saw of her sitting on the rock looking down on me.

I open my eyes when I hear her say, “Maybe you aren’t as dense as I thought. You figured this out a bit faster than I expected…there may yet be hope for you.” I open my eyes as I reply, “I am choosing to take that as a compliment.” I point at her as I say, “You are the one saying we are one and that we have to work together and stuff…then you use my knowledge to try to escape from the place I put us in so that we didn’t hurt anyone.” She replies, “You never asked me before agreeing to be put in this place so why should I need your permission to escape it?” I reply, “I agreed to it because I didn’t want the vicious beast inside me to take over some night and do something that I would regret.” She leaps from the rock and her form shifts within the haze of smoke again. She knocks me to the ground and pins me beneath one massive paw as she growls, “Do not forget that I am the vicious beast of which you speak, and I am as much a part of you as you are. I was going to reward you for pulling me back to this plain of existence…but your continued attitude towards me as being beneath you is really beginning to get on my last nerve.” Then it suddenly clicks…this being I have been talking to…it is the thing that I am afraid of hurting people…I have been thinking about this whole werewolf thing wrong. I look up into the glowing yellow eyes and say, “It’s you.” She replies, “Of course I’m me…would you care to say something that is of importance now? Again our time here is short…mostly because within this environment I have little power to hold you here. Even the moonlight that reaches us is filtered through human technology. In the outdoors I am in my element and under a moon like this I am at the peak of my power, but I will give this place one credit…it finally gave you the security you needed to allow your mind to fully open to my presence when you read that passage from the book. The problem now is that I cannot do much of anything else where we are at. I need us to be outdoors within the forest surrounded by nature if I am to get you to understand anything more. That is why I am so angered that we are locked away in this place.” I reply, “I didn’t know that and I gave him my word…what would you have me do?” She replies, “Simple, we leave this place for now and when you are ready then return and apologize to him.” I reply, “No way, I am a person of my word. It’s the only thing I have left of what I was before you came along and tore my life from me.” She growls, “You make it sound as if I was the one who attacked you and your friend in the woods that night.” She presses her paw down harder as she says, “You need to get this through your thick head; we are stuck with each other for a very long time. So, if we are going to get along and be civil towards one another you need to begin thinking of me as an equal and giving me some respect.” I reply, “It’s not like I asked for any of this. You just expect me to be ok with having you floating around in my head. A major part of me wants to wake up and have all of this to have just been one long and incredibly vivid nightmare, but instead I have to wake up every morning and face the fact that I will never be human again. So, excuse me for not jumping for joy when you came into my life, but this happens to be a fairly large change to accept. I know that I have not exactly been handling it the best and that is why I asked some rich kid I barely know to lock me up so that I could learn to deal with what I am without having to worry about accidentally killing someone or doing something that I will regret for the rest of my life. So, I refuse to go back on my word, but if you give me a chance I might be able to talk him into allowing me to go for a short while.” She lifts her paw off of me saying, “That is not my ideal scenario, but I guess it is a start.” Her eyes grow wide in shock as she says, “Your mind is nearly at its limit, you have little time left here. Remember to listen for my voice and that we need to go back to the forest, even if only for a night, so that we can continue to get to know each other and strengthen our bond.”

Then I am back in my body. I open my eyes and walk over to where Ben is watching. He is still clutching the book in one hand as he stands there motionless. I stop about a foot away from the glass and attempt to speak. Again it comes out garbled gibberish and I slap my forehead as I realize I am in werewolf form and once again unable to speak English. Ben squints up at my eyes then says, “They are that blue gray color again…so the human side of you must be in control again…but what are you trying to tell me…oh I know.” Then he begins to furiously page through the book. He stops and rests his finger at the top of a paragraph before he begins to read aloud, “The trick of language is so simple yet complex, it’s baffling. It is so easy to speak the native language of the form you are in but trying to speak that of the one you are not is as simple as it is complex. A language is made up of many parts all working in harmony to make the appropriate sounds…this is why an attempt at the opposite language is garbled but not outright failure. Your mind remembers the appropriate lip, tongue, and jaw placements for the appropriate sounds for your language, and while the shape of these elements is different, they are still useable for the opposite language. What is not compatible are the vocal cords. A wolf and human stress and build up different vocal cords since birth, so while the physical elements imitate the appropriate sounds the vocal chords cannot produce the needed sounds to accompany them, which ultimately ends up in a bunch of garbled nonsense. So, the solution is simple. To speak the language of the appropriate form you must have the right set of vocal cords. You have those and while it may be rough going at first while you adjust to the different shape of the mouth and such, it is possible to produce a passable attempt at the other form’s language.”

I stare at him as I try to think of how I am going to be able to transform my vocal cords back to that of a human. I have never thought about them and am struggling to figure out how exactly I am going to change a part of my body back to human that I have never really seen or given much thought to before. I begin picturing myself speaking English and the sound of my voice and I think I feel a twinge in my throat, so I attempt to speak English again. This time is almost just as bad and still unintelligible, but I know that I am getting closer. Two more attempts pass before something that could pass for very rough English escapes my lips. It has quite a bit of growl left in it, but is understandable at least as I say, “I know I agreed to stay here for two months, but I need to go into the forest, even if only for one night so that I can do something important to the beast within me. If you don’t let me go willingly, then she will try to escape whenever she gets a chance.” He nods saying, “This book stresses the importance of an appropriate setting for various things, so this time I will respect your beast’s request and allow you to go, but only if you follow my conditions.” I ask, “What are they?” He says, “I need to be able to track you, and I want to see everything that happens.” I say, “Fine. Do what you have to, just let me out of this cage for the night.” He walks over to a table and puts the book down as he picks up a syringe. He flicks it as he says, “Inside here is a small capsule. It has a tracking device that a small drone will follow. That drone will track your movements and record everything you say and do. Stick your arm through that hole and I’ll inject it just below the skin.” I see the hole and stick my arm through. It stops just before my elbow with a snug fit around my forearm. He quickly parts the fur and stabs the needle in. His technique is far from smooth, but I ignore it as he injects the contents of the syringe into my arm.

He takes the needle out then takes a step back before saying, “Oh and if you try and remove that capsule, it will burst and release a strong fast acting sedative into your system I increased the dosage considering that what I was planning on tracking with this wasn’t exactly human and then went a little extra heavy for good measure.” I take my arm out of the hole and rub it saying, “Great, anything else I should know about?” He begins fiddling with a small plane barely a foot wide saying, “Um, since I am going to be watching you, if you start to pillage a village or get ready to slaughter a town or something I’ll hit a button that will pop the capsule as well.” I reply, “Oh joy, why don’t you just add a self destruct button as well…who designed this stuff. It’s doesn’t seem like something you’d pick up at a normal store.” He replies, “Oh ya, I got this stuff from my older brother. He’s a tech head and makes all of our military’s best stuff. He makes weapons, recon gear, tracking devices, and so much more. He gives me his old stuff as presents in hopes that it will bring me back to reality so I will stop obsessing over mythical beasts.” He smiles saying, “But you are real, so I haven’t been wasting my life hunting fairytales. But, I will admit that all his techy gifts do come in handy for situations like these. I will have my men pick you up in the morning after you have passed out. Also, I can’t have you running through the main yard because then my parents will think you have escaped from here and that my facilities are ineffective for containment. That means that they will shut this place down until I can prove I have fixed whatever crack you slipped out of, which means that you have to take the back way out…which is probably better for you anyways seeing as how there is a silver infused chain link fence restricting the area behind the facility to just the cliff side so that nothing can sneak up on the main house from that direction. In other words…you have an 80-100 foot drop at least before you hit the treetops of the nature preserve. It’s only a few square miles total, so nowhere near as large as the forest I took you from, but still large enough to sustain a variety of animals.” I nod and think inwards, ‘Satisfied?’  It’s quiet but I hear the response, ‘It’ll do.’ He starts up the small drone and sends it up through the open skylight. He says, “It’ll begin tracking you the second you set foot outside. Good luck in whatever it is you need to do, and I’ll see you in the morning.” He pushes a button and the glass door slides open. He grabs a lever and pulls on it. The silver plated bars retract and a few seconds later so does a heavy steel door at the end of the tunnel where the truck used to be.

I nod to Ben then take off down the tunnel and into the open night air as it wafts towards me. It feels cool against my face as my body shivers in anticipation. Moments later I burst out of the tunnel and into the night. My body tingles in the moonlight and it becomes extremely hard to think as I am overwhelmed with the beast’s instincts. I hear a sharp scolding voice in my head say, “No, do not lose yourself in me. Hold onto what you are. It will be no fun if you give in and become a slave to my instincts. I need someone with a strong will if they are to be my equal and keep me entertained for the centuries we are going to spend together.” I shudder and shove the new sights, sounds, and smells from my thoughts as I scan the area around me. It is just as he said. Behind me is a tall chain link fence with silver links that sparkle in the moonlight and in front of me is maybe 50 to 60 feet before it drops away as a cliff. I run to the cliff side and peer over. It is a straight drop down to the treetops below. I begin to try and figure out how I am going to safely get down when the ground beneath me gives way and I plummet towards the ground below. I instinctively reach out and the claws on my right hand dig into the cliff side as they slow my momentum.  Halfway down I hear Tara say, “You wuss. Live a little and let go. This is only a small drop. It will not harm us.” I reply, ‘ARE YOU INSANE! That is a long way down.’ I can practically feel her smile as my claws suddenly let loose of the wall as my feet plant against it briefly before springing me out away from the rock wall and into a freefall through the cool night air. The fall is as refreshing as it is terrifying. I try to scream, but it comes out as a long deep throated howl. Then I am falling through the treetops. My hands instinctively reach out and grab a sturdy branch as it soars past. They turn my downward momentum into forward momentum as they slingshot me through the trees. I hit the ground at a full out sprint and my mind can barely keep up as the trees become a blur. Then I burst into a clearing and my vision fades to black as I throw my head back and let out a deafening howl of joy.

Seconds later I am back on the spiritual plain with Tara who is grinning ear to ear as she says, “Don’t you feel so much more alive out here?” I quickly reply, “No, I feel terrified of what may happen to us…and what we may do to others.” Her smile fades as she says, “You worry too much. We are one being and with time we will know each other so well that you will instinctively know how I will feel about things and I in turn will know your feelings. When this happens we will be in perfect harmony and there will be no need to fear what the other one will do because we will act as one being. I know you fear me and my natural instincts. You worry about yourself becoming feral and a danger to society because you have me within you, and I fear that you will keep me locked up in a cage for the rest of my life and I won’t ever be able to run free like this again. But, there is something that you must know. It deals with the history of werewolves; what we are…and how we came to be. I could not hold your conscious mind in here long enough to explain this while we were in that cage, and if I tried explaining it while not on this plain…you might not have listened as closely to me as you are now. When you are in control I’ll bet my voice is but a whisper in your ear, and when I am in control you are more focused with regaining control over our body than you are with listening to what I am trying to teach.”

I reply, “It is still weird to hear you call this OUR body. It has been mine and mine alone for just over 20 years, and you expect me to just accept this kind of change overnight?” She replies, “That is not so. It is because I expect you to struggle with this that I have been so forgiving of you and your callousness towards me, but that is not what I wanted to discuss with you out here. What I wanted to discuss was something far more urgent. I wanted to teach you the history of what you are so that you know what you are dealing with.” I scoff saying, “A history lesson? You dragged me out here for a history lesson! How on earth can a history lesson be of vital importance? Yes I am part bloodthirsty beasty now…so what? How will knowing that change anything?” She bares her pointed teeth as she snaps at me, “Bite your tongue you foolish little simple minded ape! You know nothing of what you are and yet you have the nerve to judge me…when you barely even know me…or better yet, YOURSELF anymore!”

Hesitantly I reply, “So… I take it that your last comment was supposed to mean that you are a part of me and therefore I do not know myself because I do not know you?” She sighs and looks to the ground as she shakes her head saying, “Well at lest you are beginning to try to understand things, but no, that was not what I was meaning with that statement. It was a good effort though and in a sense true, but what I was meaning is that you are not aware of the changes that have happened to the you that you associate as you because you attribute any differences to being because of me.”

I reply, “What do you mean by changes to me…the only changes that have happened to me are because I was bitten and you came along.” She sighs again, but this time she looks me straight in the eyes as she says, “You are both right and wrong. Yes all the changes happened because you were BITTEN, but not all of them were necessarily by my doing. It all has to do with what happened you after you were bitten, and that is something I can only explain because I have been around for so long that I know the history of what we are.”

I reply, “Well as I am your captive audience as you so nicely pointed out, why don’t you tell me this urgent history lesson that will somehow change everything by me knowing it.” She changes back into her wolf form and growls, “I am going to ignore your tone that you seem to enjoy taking with me and explain things to you in such a way that even a simple minded ape such as yourself can understand.” Before I can reply she continues on. “There were not always werewolves on the earth; just as there was not always man or wolves. Like both of our species, they evolved from a random fluke, a mutation in nature. The first werewolf was created when a very special man was attacked by a regular and ordinary wolf. This special man’s genetics are the cause of what you are now. You see this man was supposed to have died years before he ever encountered that wolf in the forest. He had come into contact with a disease that should have killed him, but instead his genetics allowed his body to merge with it and in doing so halted his body’s ageing process as it sped his ability to heal itself in order to fight this disease. He also gained incredible strength as his body became lean and muscular from a heightened metabolism. Of course this did not come without costs. His heightened healing process also meant a heightened immune response. He was mildly allergic to silver and this explosion of immune activity enhanced his body’s reaction to this normally harmless metal to the point where it would burn his skin when he came into contact with it and any wound caused by silver would have delayed healing until the immuno-response subsided. However, this allergy was the least of his problems. While the worst of the disease was kept in check, he began to notice changes in himself. His mild mannered demeanor vanished as he became short tempered and little things that he would normally brush off began to make his heart race and his pulse pound until he would lash out hurting anyone unlucky enough to get caught in his path, and with that kind of strength…you can imagine just how messy that could get. Between his inexplicable fits of rage and his lack of ageing he eventually found that he could no longer deal with other humans and went to live off the land where he could not harm anyone and where he would be at peace. This is where the wolf comes in. A starving wolf sees what it thinks to be an easy meal and attacks him in his sleep. It bites him which in turn wakes him from his sleep. His rage takes only seconds to overwhelm him and he bashes the wolf into a rock killing it. When he realizes what he has done he cries and shows remorse for his actions. This act catches the attention of mother moon the god of all the forest animals, but the damage has already been done and his body has begun to change. The disease that he had been carrying for so long latches onto this new DNA that has invaded his system in the saliva of the wolf and begins rewriting his very genetic code as it continues to invade his cells in an attempt to survive and multiply. Mother moon can feel his torment but is powerless to stop this disease that is ravaging his body and driving the humanity from him little by little because he is not one of her creatures. He is a creature made by a different god, the one of the sun who turned his back on him when he fled into the moon goddess’s domain. She decides to take pity on him and punish him for taking the life of one of her creatures at the same time. She takes the spirit of the wolf he killed and combines it with his own making him one of her creatures. In doing so she was able to change this disease and keep it from taking his life as well with its newfound strength. But again, it came with a price, as the sun god’s power wanes and hers rises he would be forced to take on the form of the creature he killed. The spirit of the beast was meant to aide him in dealing with his newfound senses, and to help him learn and understand both the language and the customs of the animal which was now a part of him. Also, it was meant to keep him humble in the face of his newfound power as his strength and that of the spirit within him combined making him even stronger than he was before. When the sun god found out what mother moon had done he became enraged and tried to take back his little man beast, but found that he could not as it was no longer fully his to take. He had abandoned him in her domain and the little man beast was now as much one of her creatures as he was that of the sun. Upon realizing this, the sun god subtly changed the disease once more. Together these changes forced them to become something entirely different. They became neither man nor wolf, but a mix of the two. Over the centuries both the sun god and moon goddess had to deal with the consequences of their actions as this disease spread to man and beast alike through the saliva of those affected. Any man bitten would be given a beast spirit akin to that of the one which bit him. If there were none available in the nearby area one would be created within him as if he were a newborn. If for some reason the man and animal spirits were incompatible, or if the body or mind was unable to accept the new spirit, the virus would revert to its original and deadly form and kill its host during the first transformation. This goes for man and beast alike. Over the years there have been both man and beast with a special affinity to the other side that are able to take on the older, wiser, and more powerful spirits. It is these individuals who are able to fully take on the form of the other spirit and can truly transform at will without the influence of the gods. Now, I know you must have questions about all of this, so please ask them and I shall do my best to answer them.”

My head feels like it is about to burst as I try to take in everything Tara has just said. I begin with a very dumbfounded, “Animals turn into people?” She replies, “Yes, if an animal is bitten and infected with the disease then the sun god takes his revenge on the moon goddess by forcing the soul of a human into them and since the disease is originally of his making she is powerless to stop him. Humans were his proudest achievement and he would test them in all sorts of ways to keep them devoted to him. He takes pleasure in seeing them turn to him in their moments of need and will occasionally help out those who do not believe in him in the hopes that they will see what he has done and praise him as they should. So yes, there are animals forced into half human or even a full human form because mother moon’s act of kindness was repaid with anger and spite from the sun god. Of course because of the nature of the disease it happens during the height of mother moon’s power as well. The sun god decided to leave it that way so that it would sting more for her as she watched her animals forced into the shape of his people when she was at her strongest. She decided not to take action, because it may force her beloved creatures to be forced into the shape of man during the daylight hours instead, and as his power only wanes as the earth moves farther from the sun and when the moon eclipses his light she did not want to risk them being stuck in his form for any longer than they had to be. Now, what is your next question?”

An idea pops into my head and I ask, “If this virus made him so short tempered then why don’t I feel any different? I mean, if everything you say is true, then shouldn’t I be getting more and more angry and short tempered?” She replies, “Not exactly, this virus is derived from that one and not an exact duplicate. Yes it is the cause of your bloodlust and occasional bursts of anger and rage, but what you have been experiencing is mild compared to what he had to live with. You are afraid of yourself right now and it is only a fraction of what he experienced.” I open my mouth to object, but she responds before I can say anything. She takes a step forward so that her muzzle is only inches from my face as glares at me while saying with increasing disgust, “What you think of as my bloodlust and anger is actually coming from within yourself. Humans are a cruel race. They kill for pleasure and not just hunger like most animals. Many humans who are not influenced by mother moon are very wasteful and strip her lands while needlessly killing her animals. Then they let whatever bits they don’t want rot. They don’t do this because they are poisonous or can’t be used….they do this because they aren’t as desirable as the other parts, or because they killed it for sport and only take what can be kept as a trophy. Humans even kill each other with little or no reason and yet you have the nerve to think me the savage one filled with rage and out for the blood of anything with a pulse.”

I take a step back before replying, “Ok, you may have a bit of a point there, many humans act like idiots and are responsible for many horrible things that happen in the world, but why should I believe that all this is true about how and why werewolves exist?” She jumps back up on top of the large boulder and glares down at me as she says, “If you do not believe me then ask your little human friend. I’m sure he can run tests and quote passages from his books to verify that what I tell you is the truth.” She settles down on the rock and rests her muzzle on top of her paw as she waits for my next question.

I reply, “Fair enough, but how do you know all this?” Her tail curls around to her front and comes to a rest in front of her back paws as she slightly lifts her head saying, “That answer is quite simple. I was there. I was that starving wolf he killed that night. I had been driven from my home by hunters and my brother and lover were killed while protecting me.”

I ask, “Then why is it that you don’t hate me for being a human?” She raises her gaze and stares into the distance as she replies, “Mother moon sensed that very same hatred within me, yet she forced me into his body all those years ago. She wanted to teach me a lesson about your species so that I would not spend the rest of eternity with a burning hatred towards your kind.” She looks down at me with a harsh glare saying, “That is all you need to know for now, next question.”

I briefly debate about pressing her for further information on this subject, but decide against it and instead I ask, “Since you are so old…you are probably pretty powerful right?” She replies, “Yes I do have considerable strength compared to most others out there.”

I reply, “Does that mean that I will accidentally turn into a wolf some day?” She laughs saying, “With time and practice…you will be able to take on the form of not only an ordinary wolf, but also the form you see me in now…my true form. As for it being by accident…probably not. One of us will have to push your body to go that one step farther…and it will be painful…much like your first transformation under the full moon after being bitten was.”

Sarcastically I reply, “Great…sounds like a delightful time.” She smiles down at me saying, “I am approaching the limit at which I can hold you here again…so I will give you another chance to beat me.” I ask, “And why would I be motivated to fight you this time? We are already outside and there is no one around for miles that could get hurt.” She stands up and lightly hops down from the rock saying, “There are many reasons for you to fight. I still have yet to agree to willfully staying in that box for the remainder of your two month prison sentence…and we have yet to decide whether or not we will go it alone or return to the pack in that forest.” Appalled I reply, “Why on earth would you want to go back to that pack?” She replies, “It is simple…the man you know as Keegan has the spirit of my brother within him, and the man called Hunter is my lover from all those years ago. They do not yet know that it is me who resides within you. They just know that your smell is familiar. If they knew it was me, they never would have let you escape their sight so early into your transformation process.” Enraged I shout, “There is no way I will ever approve going back and living with those murder crazed psychopaths.” She replies, “It is true that every wolf spirit is different, and some are the reason why they go on murdering frenzies, but the human who allows those kinds of actions tends to enjoy them as well.”

I sigh saying, “Fine, I will fight to keep my word to Ben and to keep us from ending up in that pack. You may have ties to them in another life, but I do not and so far their leader, your brother, has shown me no reason why I should consider becoming a part of their pack.” She smiles saying, “Fair enough, but I do hope you put up more of a fight this time. Our last battle was so disappointing.” I hold my hands out in front of me and a pair of swords begin to appear in front of them as I say, “Don’t worry, I’ve been thinking about what I would do differently should I need to fight you again ever since you overpowered me so easily last time.” She gives me a wolfish grin as she replies, “Then this should prove to be quite entertaining.” I grab them just before they begin to fall and smile as I take a defensive stance.

She circles me once looking for any openings or weaknesses she can exploit. I carefully follow her movements as I hold my stance. She smiles and feigns an attack to test my reaction to her movements. I give a test swing, buzzing the fur on her chest. A few stray white hairs flutter the ground and she says, “This just may be more interesting than I was hoping for.” She then attacks for real…this time faster and more precise than her feigned attack. My eyes can barely keep up with her movements and I find myself constantly on the defensive as I dodge her attacks. When I finally try for a counter attack, she is ready and waiting. She grabs my right arm in her mouth and bites down hard. The pain radiates up my arm and I reflexively drop the sword. When my brain finally registers what is going on, I swing at her with my free arm and she bounds away easily out of reach without me even scratching her.

I look down at my limp and bleeding arm and think, ‘How the heck can I turn this fight in my favor? I can barely keep up with her movements, so landing a strike with a sword is going to be near impossible…A gun….no that is silly, I’d never have the time to aim it and it would leave me wide open if it needs to be reloaded…so if going high tech won’t work…then maybe I need to go low tech…what’s lower tech than a sword? A wooden spear…or maybe a club….no that is just ridiculous. Man moved away from those weapons for a reason.’ I bring up my sword in my good hand and hold a defensive stance as best I can with one arm as I continue to think. ‘Then what could it be? There has to be some simple answer I am overlooking to this problem. She is bigger and faster than me and I am in a place where I am only limited by my mind…so what is it that I need to do to even up this fight? She attacks again using her size and speed to push me around as I continue my lame defense as I try to think. I begin to breathe hard as the fight continues and she smiles asking, “Are you tiring already?”

I reply, “Of course I am. You are huge and insanely quick on your feet. It is a miracle I have lasted this long.” She looks down at me saying, “Agreed, I am much larger and faster than you…so what are you going to do about it? Will you take action…or admit defeat?” I reply, “You could always just shrink back down again into your more human form that you used during our last fight.” She smiles saying, “Now where would be the fun in that? If I did that you would not push the limits of your mind and will learn relatively nothing. No, I think I will stay in this form and see what it is you do to even out this fight. I have been holding back on you so that your pathetic human reflexes can keep up.” I reply, “It’s not like I have a wolf’s reflexes like you do, so excuse me for being a bit slower.” She replies, “How are you so sure that you don’t have a wolf’s reflexes? When I take on that human form I pull from your essence…your power, so what is stopping you from doing the same?” It takes my mind a moment to register what it is she is saying, and in that moment she bites my other hand, forcing me to drop that sword as well. Then it finally clicks and I understand what it is I must do. I form an image in my mind of her. All that I know of her and all that I have seen of her…then after a couple attempts I manage to mold myself into it. I take the good and leave the bad. I keep a hold of that image as I draw on her power and wrap myself in her essence. I can feel my body grow and change. It is a very disturbing feeling and yet comforting at the same time. When I am done I see eye to eye with her and am almost an exact duplicate…except that my fur is jet black and my eyes bright blue. The wounds on my arms healed during the transformation and my senses are swimming in all the new sensations. I give her a wolfish grin and say, “Why don’t we try this again.” She smiles back then lunges forwards. We collide in a flurry of flailing paws and snapping jaws. We roll across the ground with neither one of us gaining the upper hand. Suddenly she jumps away. She looks me in the eyes as she says, “You fight like a true wolf. I have not been able to beat you in what time we had left so I will give you this round as a victory. I will not try to escape from that prison you wish us to be contained in, and will support your decision when it comes to joining the pack or remaining a lone wolf. You made your decision fresh after the change, so I ask you to give them one more chance now that you have spent some time as you are now.” I go to respond but my words get caught in my throat as my body feels as if it is on fire.

She says, “Do not worry, all that has happened is you have inadvertently pushed your body to that next level I told you about earlier and have therefore accidentally learned how to make the transformation to a full wolf. This transformation will be painful, but with time it will be no worse than the other. Remember, I am right here and will help you in whatever way I can. You know how to ask for my help so don’t hesitate to do it.”

Then I am back in my body and the pain I felt on the spiritual plain pales in comparison to what I am feeling now. I can hear my bones cracking and grinding as they grow and take on a new shape. My muscles are being stretched, torn, and reattached as they try to hold on to my shifting bones. When the change is done I am breathing hard and my body is still quivering as it remembers the pain of the transformation. I can see my puffs of hot breath against the cold night air, and as I watch one drift lazily upwards I catch sight of the moon. It has never looked so beautiful before than it did through a wolf’s eyes. I cannot hold this new feeling in and let out a deep resonant howl to express my joy for all the new sights, sounds, and smells that I am truly experiencing for the first time as I can no longer push them from my mind. I allow the wolf’s instincts to surface and spend the rest of the night running through the small forest enjoying the night as only a wolf can. When the sun begins to rise my body begins the painful shift back as my bones compress and shrink. When my body finishes its transformation I pass out from exhaustion.

I wake up back inside the glass cage in Ben’s containment facility. I am lying on a pile of soft rags and Ben is over at his workbench reading through a stack of papers. His hands quiver with excitement as he flips through the pages. I get up, bracing myself on the wall for support, and begin to shakily stumble towards him when he turns to me saying, “I can’t believe how much I have learned from you in so little time. These results I obtained last night are truly spectacular. And the video footage the drone captured is beyond words. I don’t even know where to begin.”

I reply, “How about you answer a couple questions of mine? That will give you something to work off of.” He furiously nods as he says, “But of course. I have been so rude. I have offered you so little explanation about what you are when that is part of why you agreed to come with me, but I will remedy that now. Ask away, any question you can think of and I shall do my best to answer it.”

My shaky legs begin to give out, so I turn around and again use the wall for support as slide my back down the wall and sit on the floor. I look down at my hands, palm up and open before me as I ask, “What am I?” He replies, “That is simple. You are a werewolf, but I thought you already knew that…” I shake my head as I reply, “That is not what I mean. I know I am a werewolf….but what is a werewolf. Why am I like this… I know I was bitten by a werewolf, but how can that one bite cause such a drastic change?” He replies, “You are in luck. I was testing theories of that nature while you were off getting wolfy in the woods. In the books I researched there are two strong hypotheses and explanations that I found. One suggests a DNA manipulating virus, and the other suggests that it is something spiritual in nature. As I have no way to test spirituality I tested the virus hypothesis. I took the blood sample I obtained when injecting you with the tracking device and compared it to a similar samples I found inside your bag and one that I found on the strap of the bag that was slightly compromised by water but still useable.” He waves the papers at me saying, “These are those results of the tests. The hair samples and dried blood flakes on the inside of the bag from before you were bitten show the DNA sequencing of a normal, average, and healthy young woman. The sample pulled from the strap of the bag shows the beginnings of something interesting. It has too many pairs of chromosomes to be a human, and what I obtained from the tip of the syringe…shows something amazing. It shows all of your chromosomes, plus those of your average wolf. What I did was use a program to eliminate all of your chromosomes from the mix then ran a comparison against the average wolf to see what popped up. What came up was irrefutable proof that you somehow managed to grow the DNA of a wolf along with a single strand of something that I have not yet been able to identify as any known human, animal, bacterium, or virus. Along with all that a couple of your human strands were slightly altered as well. What these changes affect…I’m not entirely sure, but the results as a whole are impressive. Now the only question left to answer is if there is also a wolf spirit having some kind of effect on this as well. That one I can devise no test for other than by asking someone who is a werewolf. So, I am dying to know if both theories are correct or if it is just the one.”

Horrified at his answer I just stare at my hands as Tara’s history lesson from last night replays through my mind. I say, “It’s all true…all of it.” I glance over my shoulder and up at Ben saying, “It would seem both theories are true. When I say the beast inside of me, I am not talking about a gut feeling, I am talking about the wolf spirit that now lives within me. She told me the history of what I am last night and part of me hoped that some parts of it were not true. It’s pretty hard to deny any of it now though…I am just wondering… those results, how did you get them so fast? In a doctor’s office it takes days…even weeks for that kind of test to run.” He replies, “Doctors don’t have access to the latest and greatest military analyzing equipment paired with some of the most brilliant minds in the region running them…and let’s just say that a few of them owe me a couple favors for various reasons so it was made into a rush order.” I can hear his clothes rustle as he walks over then kneels down behind me. I hear him lay the papers on the floor then I can both hear and feel as he puts his hand on the glass before asking, “So, this history lesson, would you mind sharing it with me?”