More Than One Way to Slay a Wolf

            The form a werewolf takes is not always an ordinary wolf, but is often anthropomorphic or may be otherwise larger and more powerful than an ordinary wolf. Many modern werewolves are also supposedly immune to damage caused by ordinary weapons, being vulnerable only to silver objects (usually a bullet or blade). This negative reaction to silver is sometimes so strong that the mere touch of the metal on a werewolf's skin will cause burns. Current-day werewolf legends almost exclusively involve lycanthropy being either a hereditary condition or being transmitted like a disease by the bite of another werewolf.  (Taken from Wikipedia at

We were people-watching when we saw him first. My cousin, Katerina, loves people-watching. She lives to criticize, to point out everyone's flaws. But that's beside the point. He limped slowly to a table beside ours and sat down, grimacing. He spoke to the wait staff curtly and angrily, a low growl. When the waiter brought a glass of water, he glared down into it, mumbling angrily. His disheveled hair covered his eyes and his face was hidden from view, but his button-down shirt and khakis clearly stated what Kat was sure to latch on to: prep.

            "Ugh," she said, after the waitress had left to deliver our order to the cooks. "Whatever it is, get over it." She took a vindictive gulp of her soda, nodding towards the cantankerous diner. "Did his best friend die or something?"

            I sighed. The problem wasn't so much her bashing him for being visibly upset as it was that she wouldn't bash him at all were it not for his preppy appearance. "For all you know, he did lose a friend. You're awfully harsh."

            She shook her head. Here it came. "Look at him – complete prep. From the toe of his shined black shoes to the collar of his baby blue shirt.  He's just feigning it – pretending to be emo. I hate fake depressed people. Depression is a…"

            "Serious thing," I finished. I took a drink of water and a glance at the stranger before turning back to my cousin. "But even preps aren't free from it." I laughed slightly before finishing, "Even preps are human."

            "Yeah, only if a better personality isn't on sale at the Gap or Abercrombie," she spat.

            I sighed. There was no point in trying to convince her, the best I could do was to divert her attention until the food came. She was as stubborn as a mule. Fortunately, our sandwiches came soon and the conversation didn't turn towards our neighbor for the rest of the meal.

            "How can you tell the difference? They all look the same to me…" I moaned, as Kat dragged me through yet another shelf full of emo, goth, or punk music. She said it had class. I thought it all sounded the same. "Can't I just go? Get some acoustic rock? Do anything except wade through this pile with you?"

            She gave me a withering glance and then waved me away. I rolled my eyes. "Thank you, your highness," I muttered as I left for a more uplifting section of the record store.

            Of course, my peace in the easy-listening section was soon destroyed by a shout.

            "You don't even know the difference between Silverchair and Boy Hits Car! Get out of here! I never want to see your type browsing through this section of a record store again!" The voice shot up from the section I had just left, and I sighed as I turned around and ran back to save whatever poor soul my cousin had decided to have for lunch.

            As it happens, it was the same morose guy from the restaurant earlier, and all the rage she had pent up by jabbing her french-fries particularly violently into the ketchup was now flying in his direction due to, presumably, his presence in this section of the record store. I grabbed her arm. "Kat, it's a free country. Let him listen to the music if he wants," I said, voice low, into her ear.

            She turned to me, fire in her eyes. "He's a moron, Elizabeth. He's a prep, he probably only owns clothing made by Abercrombie, and his hair is so unkempt that it pains me to look at it."

            I looked at his hair. It looked like a bird's nest. "You have a point, but my brother's hair is almost that bad." I stared her down. For once, I was right. "He has every right to be here."

            Of course, the he in question probably didn't appreciate being referred to in the third person this much, and he spoke up. "I can defend myself, you know," he growled.

            "I was just trying to help… you don't know her – she can get vicious to strangers…" I responded, but he only glared. I took a step back.

            "See? What was I saying? He's a thoroughly unlikable sort of person if ever I laid eyes on one," Kat was saying, but he was still glaring at us and I got the disquieting impression that unless we left very quickly he would pounce. "Who wants to be friends with a prep anyway?"

            I pulled on Kat's hand, to leave. But his glare traced us as we left the store and I could tell he was following us as we walked toward my car. I glanced back. There he was.

            It was a beautiful night, clear and calm at the very beginning of summer with fewer mosquitoes and more fireflies than ever before or after. The moon was out in full force – a beautiful, perfect circle of white light pouring out into the parking lot and eliminating the need for any sort of street lamps. But I couldn't appreciate it because he was following us.

            And he was making a lot of noise. He kicked a car tire, slammed his fist into a door, and shouted unintelligibly until we turned around. "Is there something we can help you with?" Kat called angrily, "Or do you just want to cause a disturbance until we call the cops?"

            But he was still raging, not even moving towards us any more. Kat threw down her shopping bag and stormed towards him. I snatched it up and hurried behind, catching her before she hit the poor boy – he was, after all, probably our age.

            As we approached, he calmed down slightly, and was able to snarl out, "Leave me alone."

Kat rolled her eyes and sighed in frustration. "That would be easier if you weren't following us," she answered, before I could stop her.

"Just… leave me alone…"

I stepped between him and Kat, cutting her off. "We would, but you look like you shouldn't be left alone." He glared at me, a grimace on his face, but I stared him down for once because it wasn't normal behavior to be ranting and raving in a parking lot like this, for no apparent reason.

"Fine… just don't brush me off as another falsely depressed kid. I need help."

            "What you need," Kat responded quickly, "is a haircut."

            I sighed. He wasn't violent anymore, just fuming, trying desperately to hold on to his cool and not explode. I looked at Kat, and decided. "How about we get out of the parking lot. You may need both." I left without turning back to look for Kat. I was her only ride home, she could come with me or wait in the parking lot.

            He was calmer once we got inside the mall and he looked presentable after his haircut. He seemed to do better with human contact. We sat down on a bench and decided what to do next. "I just can't bear this time of month," he said. "The full moon just sets me off."

Kat stood up, disgusted. "My God," she said. "You're a werewolf."

He squinted at her, but I explained. "She has an active imagination – thinks herself a reformed vampire, and I'm an elf or something. Don't mind her."

            He laughed. "Active fantasy life. But it never hurt anyone, I guess." Kat wouldn't sit down, so he continued. "It all started two months ago, at a party during spring break. It was a beautiful night out, clear, like tonight. And a full moon too. We were at one of my friends' houses – I don't even remember which friend now, but man did he ever have a big house – somewhere out in Potomac or something. And so, I wandered out onto the porch to see the sky. I always liked astronomy.

            "Only, there was this girl there – and in a horrible state of mind. I guess, rather like I was just now, kicking and screaming and ranting about how horrible her life was. Well, we got to talking, and by the end of the night we were fast friends, and she said her life wasn't so bad any more.

             "Anyway, she dumped me a month later – said it was a transitional relationship anyway, and she had found someone else. On the night of a full moon, no less."

            Kat snorted. "And now, whenever you look at the full moon, you think of her and you start kicking things? Is that it?"

            "Well… yeah."

            "Elizabeth, you always find the strangest people," she moaned. "I told you not to hang out with preps."

            I shook my head. "That won't get you anywhere, Kat," I said, and then turned my thoughts back to what to do next. I stood up and paced. Kat walked over to a toy vending machine and inserted her quarter. Out popped a little ball – with bubble gum and a tiny pin inside. She pulled out the gum and threw me the rest.

            I looked at the pin. It was cheap, a little leaf that snapped onto a shirt collar or a wristband. But it sparkled in the way that silver-painted plastic always does. I grinned, and handed the pin to the prep. "Here. Take this, and whenever you see the full moon, don't think of some fool who dumped you, think of some strangers who found you and made sure you didn't bash any car windows in."

            He just smiled and nodded. Kat popped her gum. "Can we go home? My feet are killing me."

            I laughed. "Sure," I responded.