by Annabel Wynters
Quiet, it's always quiet around me. Especially now, now that we're going to the city. I hate it there. I can't breathe when I'm there, there are too many people and nowhere to run. It's just buildings set in a neat little grid. I liked it here where there is no one around for miles. I thought of these things as I watched the trees pass by.
"G'wynn…G'wynn!" Ronny, my step-brother tried to get my attention by raising his voice in such a small space.
'Geez Ronny, I'm mute, not deaf.' I signed to him.
"Penny for your thoughts?" He asked haphazardly, splitting his attention between the deserted county road and me. I shrugged and continued to stare out the windows; I was caught in a trace at the passing wooden pillars.
Above us the sky was mixing together in a plethora of colors; rouge, lavender, cobalt, peacock, and tangerine. It was as if God dropped his pallet of paint and it landed on the sky. The world was so beautiful, but it could be so dull at the same time. All I can do is sit in this car and watch as it passes by, I cannot wander these woods for days until I can no longer find myself, I cannot paint the sky, nor can I touch it. All I can do is sit in this car for hours until the New York skyline comes into view.
"So, what do you think she has to tell us?" My gaze left the trees outside and to the young man in his late twenties in the driver's seat. Ronny, Ronald Eloise Jr., was the gift that came with my mother's latest marriage. Mother has always been flirtatious with the idea of marriage that she even came so close that she had a child with one of her short lived moments of marital bliss. Her latest victim, Ronny's father, is the closest that she's had to a real husband. A rich man by the name of Ronald Eloise Sr., in his late forties was a kind gentleman as far as I can tell. He was a politician of sorts, something to do with the British embassy. He lets Ronny and I live in his summer home during the times when he's away and when he is there I just hide. Mother likes her men likes she likes everything else, rich. Unfortunately I could not meet up to her expectations as everything else had in her life. I was born average and mute, not the beautiful babe she wished to raise into a high society beauty.
'Why does she even want to see us now? She hasn't talked to us in months.' I signed to Ronny.
"Probably something important, the only thing I could imagine is that we're about to welcome a little boy or girl to our family." I smiled slightly at the sound of his voice; it held a hint of British in it. He had grown up in London as a boy before his father brought him to San Francisco. His accent was sweet to my ears.
I took his word; he kept more contact with the family than I did. I don't know what I would do with a younger sibling. My eyes lifted to see that the painters masterpiece was gone, now covered by the shadow of night. The trees were just figures in the night now. I looked to Ronny who I could barely make out in the dark.
"Get some sleep, we've got a long ride ahead of us." I nodded and curled up in my seat, before I knew it, darkness cloaked my mind and I was soon in my world of dreams.
I don't know what had happened, one moment I was asleep, the next…all I remember is being thrown around in the car. I remember the smell of gasoline, the taste of blood, and the sound of metal crashing. I opened my eyes to the sight of Ronny in a bloodied mess, surrounded by broken glass and bent metal and then, I don't know. Oh God, what happened?
Tonight was the night; the moon had risen high and early giving enough time for a quick run before the hunt. Winter was finally here. The crisp frozen air brought my senses to their edge as the pack ran together through the woods as one, with me running lead. We were chasing the scent of a large buck we had scented before twilight. The younger wolves ran apart from the rest, enjoying the feeling of being young and on the run; free of any responsibility that comes with adulthood. Once a month when the moon is its fullest, we shed our skin and run in the moonlight as true wolves. For one night, we don't have to hide in their sheep's clothing. An ancient ritual that our ancestors did before us since our curse was first transmitted between man and wolf.
The scent came closer as we ran. The pack slowed their pace to a trot, careful to not make any noise, careful not to scare off the prey. I knew it had to be here somewhere. We spread out, entrapping the young buck in case it sensed danger and tried to run. We were going in for the kill, a large male like that could feed the entire pack for a week. Meticulously, we let our wolves take over; they knew this better than our human counterparts did. This, the hunt, the predator was in their DNA. The pack was moving as one, ready to take down our prey.
Everything was going to plan, the buck was before us as the pack edged closer to it. It was up to me now, the Alpha, to make the first move. Tradition called for it. It was time. My wolf sprang into the air in a magnificent leap onto the massive beast that lived in these woods, sinking his teeth into its neck. The rest of the pack followed, making their move, taking out its legs, keeping it from hurting them. The buck let out a short-lived shriek before my jaw snapped shut, breaking its neck, leaving it dead for the morning.
It was over, the victorious taste of blood coated my jowls, but something wasn't right. Growling could be heard in the air. I looked around, taking into account the wolves around me. The five of the hunting party were all there, but where were the other two? I looked to my Beta, my second in command. 'Korren, where are the young ones?' The brown wolf looked around for the two as did I. A potent scent filled the air like poison gas, something that would make any wolf mad enough to attack. Blood. Human Blood. It caught hold in all of our noses and the hunt was on once more.
The scent left a distinct path through the air to its source. It was within moments that we found the two young ones. I rammed one of those feral pups off of the human. How could a human be all the way out here? The sight of the girl was more shocking than anything; nine years old, ten at the most, laying in the leaves of this past autumn, her blood coating them with crimson in the moonlight. Her dark hair fell all around her. Her side was torn open where the young wolfs teeth had turned the skin into minced meat.
I looked to the rest of the pack and they had subdued the pup who was fighting to get back to what he considered his kill. The girl reached out, her breathing rapid and hand shaking. She touched my fur and gripped it tight. With a snarl I pulled from her grip. Human's, if they cared about their lives, don't touch wolves. Not these wolves. Not us. I knew what the right thing to do was, if I wanted to protect my pack, I would leave her to die. But…I couldn't. She was too young to die.
I turned back to the pack. Return home, I told them, and I'll deal with you later, I looked at the blood coated young wolf. Not wasting any time I willed my fur to return back into my skin and for my bones to break, something most unpleasant to any wolf when the shift is not over. Swiftly, I picked the dying girl up and ran as fast as I could to the cabin.
The old man met me at the door with the table already cleared for my arrival. The girl gasped in pain as we set her down in unison. The others returned one by one. As they came in they stood around the table, looking upon the girl for the first time in proper lighting. In the light it was easier to see how pale she was, how much blood she might have lost, and that she wasn't just hurt by the wolf. She was pretty beaten up and had some glass stuck in her hands and legs. I took one last look at her and huffed. I made my way up the stairs that led to the second floor of the cabin. I couldn't stand to watch as the old man futilely tried to save a dying child.
An old woman came out in her house robe, "Matthew, what's all this ruck-oh." She saw the blood over the flood and the girl on the table. She looked to the old man and understood.
"Get the kit." He said calmly as possible to her. "Korren." The old man called out to a half nude man who seemed entranced at the wound in the girls side. "Korren!" The old man said once more, this time louder. "Get me water and cloths, now." she
The old woman soon returned with the black leather apothecary case from inside the old man's closet and the second in command returned with a bowl of water and several towels. Without haste the old man was already getting to work, wiping the wound clean with the warm water. The girl opened her mouth as if to scream but only a croak came out. She nearly fell off the table trying to get away.
"Anesthesia, give it to me." Precisely the old man pulled the amount out into a hypodermic needle and injected the girl with it. Still she continued to bleed, and with most of the blood gone it was easy to see how much damage she had sustained. "Leave us." The old man told the others as he began stitching her back up. The two youngest retreated to the living room where a wolf lay asleep, its belly swollen with pups growing.
A man in his late thirties approached the old man, arms crossed while holding his head with his hand, looking thoughtful, "Will she survive?"
"She won't if you keep bothering me. Now go tend to your wife, Korren, or to your friend. I would suggest the later for the sake of the pack." The man nodded as he turned and went up the stairs to follow his leader. Meticulously, he pulled his needle through two pieces of torn flesh and brought them together, tied the knot, and repeated, over and over until the gaping wound was a closed. The girl's life was out of his hands now. If the virus took, she would become one of them. If not, may God be with her soul.