In situations like these, Jonas never felt comfortable. His tin roof resisted melting despite the heat, and he did his best not to stray from his plywood perch. That mistake was one he hoped never to repeat.
Pulling out his binoculars, Jonas couldn't help but think of how ridiculous what he was doing now would have seemed to him a few years ago. Spying on the neighbors would have been creepy enoughback then, but now, with what he knew about them, he wouldn't have been able to comprehend what he was doing.
No one particularly liked the slums, of course. The houses were more like shacks, with unpainted wooden siding falling off or removed completely, and only a few of them had electricity. People trampled each other to get them, but the people who got them were usually kicked out within the month, mostly for political reasons. The only plants within view were the trees in the opposite direction of the main city, the very ground smelling literally of urine and shit, some shacks not modern enough for functioning plumbing. Buildings could not be found for several miles outside the slums, an attempt to isolate the residents within from the city. It had, at one time, been thought that grass once existed within the slums, but it could not have been within Jonas' lifetime. Living conditions in the area had already been degrading by the time the Wolves arrived.
To say they "arrived" would be incorrect, however, as they had always been there, it's just that nobody knew about them. Wolves were just normal people until ten years ago, when someone hit one with their car. Without the ability to run away, it was obvious he wasn't just a dog, and panic followed shortly after, which led to the Wolven War. The war was similar in many ways to the Cold War, more like a psychological battle than a physical one, but battles broke out occasionally, and spilled into residential areas often.
Jonas had been there when the houses were stormed. He watched as hundreds of Wolves were thrown to the slums, and couldn't look away as many were beaten into the ground, some never to get up again.
These unpleasant thoughts caused him to shift subconsciously, still being careful not to touch the roof, even when not thinking about it.
The local pack did not make much of an effort to hide their lineage, and the Alpha's window had been smashed several times, to the point where it made more sense to not fix it. They met monthly, sometimes more, and Jonas made an effort to see every meeting. In his notebook, he kept a detailed record of who each person was, and with help from books about wild wolves living in Canada, tried to identify their rank.
The pages made a slight rustling noise as Jonas flipped through them, reading all of his aqcuired knowledge. He would rather talk to them, it would provide a more reliable source of information, but frankly, they scared him. Though he knew it was always better to get to know something before you deem it dangerous, he didn't want to test that theory on something that could kill him in a couple seconds. So he watched them from afar.
As the binoculars were placed once more upon his face, he caught the final glimpse of Brian Walters submitting to the rest of the pack. Jonas wrote him down as the Omega. The only thing he needed now was the name of the Alpha. Other Wolves he had managed to talk to were not so forward about the names of other Wolves. His binoculars returned to their position, just in time to see the Alpha turn and stare directly into Jonas' soul.
Panicking, Jonas lay flat on the plywood, attempting to hide behind one of the other shacks. After several minutes, he managed to work up the nerve to sit up again, seeing the house now empty, all of the Wolves gone to their own abodes.
He jumped down, taking his notebook and other supplies with him. Looking in the direction of the woods, a rush of memories hit him, allowing him to relive the moment when his mother was shot running away from the influx of Wolves and riot police. He resisted the urge to throw up. The smoldering dirt refused to make a noise as he dragged his feet, walking to clear his mind.
For a long time after the first appearances, Jonas' classmates had called him a "pup," the popular slur term for Wolf children. His dad acted quickly, getting him into homeschooling shortly after the first year. Though it originally confused Jonas, he realized quickly that it was becoming safe to assume someone from the slums was a Wolf. Slurs had become almost an art form for some people during this time. Even "Wolf" was a slur, the official government term being "Werewolf." Some Wolves seemed to take the discrimination in stride, calling each other "Wolf" casually, but others didn't take so well to the name. These Wolves who didn't adapt as well could be seen in prison, mostly, arrested simply for entering the city. The rest lived here, under the leadership of a man completely unknown to Jonas.
It was an abrupt sort of landing for Jonas, who found himself on the ground before realizing he had been knocked down at all.
"This is an interesting book you've got here," the pack Alpha said, before handing back the notebook and turning to walk away.
Jonas stood up without grace and blurted, "Sorry about watching your pack," before wincing at his own outburst.
The Alpha stopped before saying, 'Why does it matter?" turning around again to face Jonas, who was sweating more than he was comfortable with.
"I figured most people would think it was invasion of privacy, and maybe you would feel violated or something."
"I have an entire group of people who can practically read my thoughts following me around all day," he laughed. "I think any privacy I once had is pretty much gone."
Jonas leaned forward in anticipation. "Oh?" he inquired.
"I know you're interested in my pack, but that information is supposed to be for Wolves only." Jonas fell back onto his heels. "But you're the first person to not try to kill me in months. Now, before the war, I was quite the scholar, and it bothers me when things are incomplete, so I'll help you finish. My name is Darius. Darius Locke."
Jonas fumbled with his pencil, writing the name with barely legible penmanship.
"I also happened to notice your information as to how my pack works is a bit off. Why don't you join us at the next pack meeting? You'll learn more about it there." Darius turned a final time, walking back to his own shack, the same as all the others.
The dust cloud Jonas kicked up on his way back home stained his socks red and grey, and scratched his legs in mulitple places. He didn't seem to care, though, his excitement easily seen through the smile on his face as he slammed the screen behind him.
But what if they don't want me there? He began panicking. What if they attack me? Pacing kicked up yet another dust cloud from the floor, this one staining his socks a more brownish color. Eventually, Jonas could not allow this perfect opportunity to understand the Wolves slip away. He was going.