M for violence and language. It pretty much focuses on werewolves. Happy reading!
Chapter One – I Just Wanted Some Candy
"Alexandra, don't come down here," Sam said. His voice sounded strained, and too loud.
"You don't control me!" I sang down the stairs. No one controlled me at the age of thirteen. Sam was probably on some authority kick with the parents gone for a while. It wasn't anything unusual: Sam had a superiority complex.
"You know I hate it when you call me that," I said, stepping into the foyer. The first thing I noticed was Sam's appearance: wild blue eyes, torn clothes, and tousled hair. Then I noticed the man pinning him down to the floor.
Everyone stopped. Then Sam began to struggle furiously, looked me in the eye, and said, "Run."
It didn't matter that I wasn't wearing shoes; that I was in old clothes; that my hair was a mess: it just mattered that I ran. I could hear Sam yelling, "Run, Alex; run!"
There were footsteps behind me, stealthy, quiet ones that seemed louder in my mind. They seemed to double and I ran faster, just trying to get away.
But, like in all my dreams, I was falling.
My palms and knees scraped against the twigs painfully but still I scrambled back up, lurching back into an uneven pace. The steps were louder, accompanied by heavy breathing. I was still running, but not fast enough: I could feel it catching up to me.
In the back of my mind I thought I heard Sam shout something else, but he would've been too far away at this point.
I stumbled into a tree just as the thing crashed into me.
"Wake up! Wake up!" a high-pitched voice repeated, bouncing up and down on top of me like I was some kind of trampoline. I'm not.
"Get her up, Ange." That was my mother's voice, and she didn't sound happy.
"All right, I'm up," I mumbled, pushing Ange off the bed. No matter how old she got, she never missed a chance to jump on top of me. She skipped out of the room and down the hall, probably to watch TV. My mother waited until she left before starting in on me.
"Another hunter: seriously? What did you do this time?" Her dark hair was frizzed around her small face, making her look wild. Her gray eyes shone and bags hung heavy underneath them.
"How'd you find this one?" I frowned. If I remembered correctly, I'd strategically placed different body parts in different trash cans.
"Because there was a butchered torso in the garbage," she said scathingly. "I don't know what I'm going to do with you. It seems like everywhere we go, you always manage to find a hunter."
"Well I am a werewolf," I grumbled under my breath. "What do you want me to do, mom? Let them kill me?"
My mom sighed and crumpled onto my bed. "You know that's not what I meant. This whole thing is just so hard to work with. I'm trying to work around your… your… situation, but since I don't know all of the details it makes things hard-"
"The less you know the better," I promised, patting her on the arm. "And you're doing a fine job, really. I think now that this one's gone, this remote place might be safe for me now.
She was quiet, staring at her hands. Finally, she said, "Where'd you put the head?"
"I was wondering when you'd ask. I buried it." I could feel her wide eyes staring at me as I left my bedroom in search of breakfast.
"Did you get in troub-le?" Ange sang, looking away from the morning show. Her wavy dark hair was a mess, and her clothes weren't as crisp as normal.
"Not this time," I said, grabbing a breakfast bar. "Now c'mere," I said between bites, patting the space of floor in front of me. "I need to fix your hair."
She gave me a disgusted look. "It's my hair; I can leave it this way if I want."
"It looks like a rat's nest. And it's going to get tangled." She gave a dramatic sigh, and I wondered if I'd been like this at the age of eleven.
She was silent as I combed, watching the show again. Large, comical characters danced around on the screen singing songs about healthy foods. I wasn't entirely sure why a little kids show was on, but sometimes she had weird tastes.
"Where do you go at night?" she whispered. I stopped brushing out of surprise, but picked back up again. "I'm sorry?"
"I hear you leave at night," she continued. "Sometimes you go by the door, sometimes by the window. Where do you go?"
"I have a condition," I started, brushing slowly to give me more time. "Sometimes my condition gets so bad that I don't feel better until I get outside."
"Oh," she said. The question had surprised me, so I was grateful that she was quiet now. She was too young to know about why I really went out in the middle of the night. There was another part of me that felt like if she did know, she'd somehow be at risk.
Suddenly her tone grew angry. "You don't have to treat me like a little kid, you know. You always use little words around me, like otherwise I won't understand you. I'm about to be in middle school, and that means I'm old enough to be talked to like a teen."
"Oh, good, you already ate," mom said, walking into the kitchen while I released Ange with freshly combed hair. "I need you to run to the store and get something for me, if that's okay."
I looked down at myself. "Mom, I'm still in my pajamas."
"Well, you look good," she said, brushing me off. "I forgot to get a present for your brother, and you know it's almost his birthday. Will you run to the store and get it for me?"
"You don't know what to get him, do you?" I asked as I walked to my room, changing into a tank and shorts. It wasn't really appropriate attire for the weather, but I preferred flexibility.
"Oh, some kind of candy, I guess. You know how he likes to eat."
Shaking my head, I said, "Uh-huh. Are you going to pay for it or am I?"
"If you could, that'd be great; I'll pay you back soon." I pocketed my wallet and cell, pulling on my shoes as I walked out the door. "I'll be back soon," I called. In small towns like this one, you could walk to the stores. Actually, you had to: the nearest gas station wasn't worth the drive. Most people were either at work or still asleep, so it was a pretty quiet walk to the store.
This neighborhood was a little bland for my taste though. The houses were all the same style, with the same color of bricks. The trees were all in the same position in the yards, and it reminded me too much of uniformity.
But then again, the more you blended in, the safer you were. Ever since Sam had left a year ago, I'd been hunted by strange people, generally men. Sam had warned me about them before he left, telling me they were hunters. Now that I thought about it, I could feel Ange's pain: Sam always treated me like I didn't understand anything about the world.
But Ange wasn't like me. She didn't have to deal with the hunters: I made sure of it. She didn't even know that they existed, so sometimes it was hard to talk to her like she had seen the things I'd seen. Though, she had noticed when I left at night: maybe there was still hope.
The store looked just as uniform as the rest of the neighborhood, with bricks lining the outside of the building and the name of the store in a plain white instead of neon. It was advertising bottled water, energy drinks, and cigarettes.
Their selection of candy wasn't very large, so I settled on what looked like the newest and least likely to melt in the mail. While waiting in the line to pay – though it didn't look busy enough to require a line – I grabbed a magazine to buy for Ange. Maybe I could convince her to read a little instead of watch T.V. all the time.
When I finally got to the front to pay for it, I noticed a man hanging a safe distance back from the line. He wasn't looking at any merchandise, just standing back. He wasn't even wearing a vest as if he worked here. People like that were unfortunately obvious.
Hunters were all the same: they had an urge to kill people like me, they didn't blend in, and they never even tried to be stealthy about it.
I shifted back a little more, trying to get a better look at him. Dark hair, dark eyes and he even had dark clothes: again, a typical hunter thing. He noticed my staring and his eyes flicked towards mine, his hand drifting towards one of his pockets. My gaze fell back to the cashier, who was handing me back the money.
I left quickly, hoping I was wrong about the hunter and that maybe he hadn't recognized me. But I knew I was wrong before I heard the doors sliding back open behind me.
"Stop," he commanded, and when I turned, I saw he was holding a gun previously hidden underneath his clothes. I rolled my eyes and muttered, "Not again," before rolling my shoulders back. "Can I help you?" I asked, using my most polite and innocent voice.
"You can go burn in Hell," he said, pulling something back on the gun. I didn't bother to wait and see if he'd missed me or not. I leapt forward, tackling him to the ground and knocking the gun away. The people inside the store were frozen. Another hunter thing: they always attacked in open places, like I wouldn't be able to fight back. They were wrong.
"This'll only take a second," I promised the man, pressing my palms into his neck while he continued to try and throw me off. He struggled harder and I shushed him, kneeing him in the stomach for good measure.
When I'd first started dealing with hunters, I'd always wondered more about them and their past. Did this man have a family? How had he become a hunter in the first place? Where did all the hunters come from? But my questions were never answered and gradually, I stopped caring. They were all alike, and they were all trying to kill me.
One of his hands shook more than the other, and suddenly my thigh was burning. I flinched at the impact before looking down to see a knife handle sticking out of my leg. Inches above it were the candies for Sam.
"You are one lucky man," I whistled as I pulled the knife out, some of the blood running down onto the man's clothes. He seemed to be trying to move away, but he wasn't having much luck. "You're also lucky because if all of those people weren't there," I said, motioning to the convenience store with the bloody knife in my hand. "I would kill you, right here, and right now. Instead I'm just going to take your knife, and hold onto you until you're unconscious."
The man glared at me as I tossed the knife into one of the sewage drains. I doubted it was sanitary or safe, but at least there was one less crazy person running around with a knife. "I… knife… stab… ass…" he sputtered, his face turning redder. If he was still breathing well enough to talk I must not be putting enough pressure on him.
"Now tell me," I snapped. "Are there any more of you I should be aware of?" I didn't know why I continued to ask: they never answered. It must've been part of some unspoken code they had to take, along with never revealing their past.
The man just continued to glare at me, face turning a deeper red. "I'll take that as a no," I told him, pinching his nose shut. He struggled briefly but then he was out like a light.
I flipped the hair out of my eyes and stared defiantly at the people in the store, daring them to say something. They jumped when they realized they were still watching and went back to their shopping, leaving me alone.
I pawed through the man's clothes, finding his wallet in his front pocket. No ID, not that I'd expected any. He had a couple of twenties, which I took happily before putting the wallet back and heading towards home.
"What took you so long?" my mom asked; her hair was up in a bun now. She was wearing a buttoned up shirt and slacks, tipping me off that she was about to go look for a job. I didn't have the heart to tell her about the other hunter.
"I got held up in the store; or outside of it, depending on how you look at it." I handed her the candy and said, "Don't worry about paying me back, they didn't cost much." And I just came across almost sixty dollars; but I didn't tell her that.
"That's awfully nice of you, dear. I'm going to head off to find a job now, so- Oh!" She'd wandered around the corner and was staring at my dripping leg.
"It's not on the carpet," I grumbled, smearing some blood away with my fingers.
"That's not – you didn't – held up – I have to-" she stuttered, and I waited patiently for her to finish. Finally, she ground out, "Just watch Ange, okay?" I nodded and she left, locking the door behind her.
"I do not need to be babysat," she snarled.
"You want to help me clean my boo-boo, Ange?" I mocked, twisting my leg this way and that for a better look. "I'll kiss it," she smirked; her eyebrows rose, daring me to say something back. I rolled my eyes and walked out of the room.
Ange followed me into the bathroom anyways. "Does it hurt?"
"Not too badly," I said, pouring water over the wound before wrapping it up. Once she'd seen I wasn't going to die, she flounced back to the floor in front of the TV.
I crashed on the couch behind her, one of the only real pieces of furniture. Most of the other things were still wrapped up, since we seemed to always be on the move. You'd think that in a town with almost no population, you wouldn't run into any hunters, but it seemed to be just the opposite.
"Are we going to be moving soon?" Ange asked me over her shoulder. Her hair was getting messy again, I noted.
"I hope not. Why d'you ask?"
"Well, you got hurt…" And every time I get hurt, we move again, I finished for her mentally. "We won't move unless mom decides to," I told her. "And right now she's out getting a job, so I think you're safe. Do you want me to unpack anything?"
"No, I'm fine," she said, turning back around to the television. It was the same characters, but now they were dancing and singing about exercise. I stretched, leaning back more into the couch. Watching Ange was always easy.
"I can unpack my own stuff, you know," she said, throwing me a hurt look over her shoulder. "You're only a couple years older than me."
"Five," I corrected.
"Yeah, but still. You're always doing things for me when you really don't have to."
"Would you like me to abandon you?" I grinned.
"That's not what I meant," she pouted. "I just want you to realize I'm eleven now. Eleven."
"And don't I know it," I simpered. I pointed to the T.V. screen. "You're even watching teen shows, with people singing about exercise: very mature for your age."
Before she could retort the front door slammed and I sat up, crouched on the edge of the couch. My mother stalked in, throwing her purse as she went. "We're moving," she snapped, hands shaking. Ange's posture said she was scared, but she flashed me a quick 'I told you so' look anyways.
"What happened?" I asked, moving instinctively closer to Ange. She turned the TV off, her sign of knowing something was wrong. Not the most efficient, but at least she noticed.
"I was attacked, that's what happened! Some man – this man – he said-" she stuttered.
"Take a deep breath," I told her, moving closer.
"He – he said that I smelled like 'that bitch' -" I moved forward to cover Ange's ears. She protested rather loudly about not being a kid. "-and pulled a gun out on me!"
"He what? What kind of bullets were they?" Not that I expected my mother to actually know. But I'd encountered some that hurt worse than others that were also a different color.
She gave me an exasperated look. "The dangerous kind: I don't know! He shot a hole clean through my purse: take a look if you want."
"He sounds like the same guy that got me," I said, frowning. "He's just a wannabe. But I guess he didn't learn his lesson and he's still out there."
"I don't know what the-" She finally saw Ange behind me and stopped. "-heck you're talking about."
"Watch Ange," I said, moving for the door. "You two need to hide. I need to take care of someone." Ange said something else indignantly, but I wasn't listening.
"No, you're not running off to go cause more trouble," my mom snapped, grabbing the back of my shirt. "Whoever he was, he's long gone now. We're moving, and that's that."
Most of the time, my mother and I got along fine. She did her own thing, and I did mine. She didn't understand anything about my job of killing hunters, and she didn't need to. It frustrated me when she pretended to understand though, or acted like it was a hobby of mine rather than something important.
I glared at her and she glared at me. I made sure she was first to look away. "I hope you're right," I said, sliding past her to start packing.
"At least we didn't unpack much this time," Ange grumbled, sifting through the canned foods in the pantry. "You think we need to bring this?" she asked.
"No, leave all the canned stuff: we can buy more." I moved over to the fridge. "Grab some breakfast bars and water."
I expected her to say something witty about a magic word, but she was silent. I continued pawing through the food, occasionally setting things aside. "Remind me to tell mom not to buy so much next time," I joked. Ange didn't even smile.
"You okay?" I asked, cocking my head to the side. I hadn't thought she was really all that attached to the house.
"Why are we moving again? Why can't we just settle down for once?"
"I know it's annoying, but at least we didn't live here long: you don't have to tell goodbye to anyone. That's always a good thing, right?"
"But that's the thing: I never wanted to say goodbye to any of them. I want to have best friends like in all those shows; heck, I just want to have a furnished house like in those shows. Why did mom have to make us move?" I felt bad that Ange was singling out mom, but there wasn't much I could say.
"There are lots of bad people out there," I started slowly. I paused in case she wanted to interrupt me about how I was talking to her, but she didn't. "Those bad people are the ones that make us move, not mom."
"How?" she asked, dropping a can of soup onto the tile. The edge busted and some began to leak onto the floor. "That's just a fact of life: everyone has an enemy. But the point is overcoming the bad guy, not running away from them."
I was silent. Then I closed the fridge and started laughing quietly. "You watch too much T.V." I told her, mussing up her hair like Sam used to. "And you should probably clean that up," I added, pointing to the puddle of broth on the floor.
"Why can't you?" she grumbled. "I'm still trying to sort out the rest of the food."
"Liar," I snapped. "I told you we didn't need the cans, just the bars and water. But fine, I'll clean it up in a minute. I've got to go put my stuff into the car."
The car had been sitting idly in the driveway for the week that we'd been here, since gas was a rarity. I was just glad we had it this time, because for the last two houses we'd had to use rental cars and taxis. It was always awkward loading so many things into a car that wasn't ours, at least for me.
I grabbed my duffel and slung it into the back. It wasn't very neat, but it fit. I noticed one of the lights was on in the car, so I climbed into the back and jabbed it to turn it off. Then I paused, and squinted at my reflection in the side view mirror.
Behind me were trees, rather than another house. And between two of the farthest trunks was a shadowy figure. I backed out of the car slowly, shutting the car door as quietly as possible. There was no breeze, and I couldn't catch a scent from here.
Acting like I was getting the mail, I began to move down the driveway, keeping one eye on the unmoving figure. The wind picked up behind me and I thought I saw the shape shift, but then my hair flew into my eyes. I swiped at it viciously, but when I looked again the thing was gone. And we had no mail.
Phew. First published chapter, after like, five rewrites. I kept adding on, because it felt too short. But now it's out there, so I just have to move on! I'd like to give a date for the next chapter, but I really don't know right now, since I'm still working on it. It'll be two weeks at latest.
By the way, if you review, I'll do a happy dance! (Or something.)