The local shop was just down the road, flurries of snow danced in the mid-December air and Scott Murphy pulled his jacket up around his neck to keep out the cold. A thin layer of snow crunched underfoot as he stepped inside the warm shop. Eastspirits was a small micro-community in the North of England, though ordinary people did not live here. Eastspirits was run by werewolves. The small village was a one road in ne road out kind of place, surrounded by a seemingly never ending forestry and countryside. Scott, the now only son of the Alpha, was fifteen. His change was forthcoming and he was more than nervous, he was terrified. His house was next to the community hall where beneath lay the basement. Every so often he could hear the shouts and screams echoing from there, which would be him in a day or two.
He grabbed a couple of cooking apples, a small bag of sugar and some flour. His mother was making apple pie tonight, it was his favourite. Going to the counter, he noticed some packs of sweets going cheap and added them to the small pile.
"Good evening, Scott." The shop owner greeted, entering the prices of each item into the till before placing in a bag.
"Hey, Leroy." He replied solemnly, picking up the carrier bag of items and passing over some pound coins.
"Cheer up, lad; it won't be so bad when you change." Leroy smiled, patting the fifteen year old on his shoulder. He took the change from Scott's hand and saw that he managed a little smile.
Scott left the warmth of the small shop where his family regularly got their food supplies. The snow had got heavier in the short time he had been in the shop; he pulled his jumper's hood from beneath his jacket with his free hand and pulled it over his scrawly brown hair. He began walking down the small street. The houses were small and sat detached from each other on each side of the road with plenty of space in between. He could see his house near the end of the street looking just like every other house in their village, small, two storeys, classic four windows and a door, much like a childish drawing.
Scott stumbled suddenly, dropping the back to break his fall. Sharp pain ran up his arms as he hit the floor, but it quickly died down. He sat himself up and began gathering the items that had fallen out the flimsy plastic bag. His head hurt, though it did not feel like a normal headache, it felt as if his brain was moving detachedly inside his head and repeatedly being stabbed by a sharp knife. He stood up, using the wall of a shop to steady him. He took a few tedious steps in the direction of his house and found that the spinning had lessened; though his pain filled blurred vision still remained. Tightening his grip on the bag to avoid dropping it again he focussed on his house at the end of the road.
The front gate seemed to get further and further away the closer he got to it, like those psychedelic dreams you see on television. He reached out a clumsy hand and felt for the small catch on the other side. He hit the bolt with a balled fist and it came loose, the brown wooden gate sung open carelessly, banging against the bricks that lined the edge of the path.
He dropped the bag to his side as he climbed the three flagstone steps to his white front door. Digging into his jeans pocket, he grabbed his key which seemed smaller than usual, and rammed it into the key hole, third time lucky.
"Dad?" He called, stumbling into the hallway. He collapsed to his knees on the carpeted floor. It wasn't supposed to happen yet. He wasn't ready.
"Yeah," His father said from the kitchen, the door opened slowly and he saw Scott kneeling in the hallway, the bag strewn about next to him. He was breathing hard.
"It's…" He stammered, trying to get his words out. "It's happening." He looked up to see his father's face contorted into an expression of worry and panic that he had never seen before.
"It's ok," He smiled. Scott just nodded, screwing up his eyes as he felt another sharp stab at his brain and he clasped his hands to his head. Scott's father promptly picked him up and carried him into the kitchen where his mother was preparing the other ingredients for her family's famous apple pie. "It's happening; I'm going to take him down." The young, dark haired woman stroked a hand through her son's hair and kissed his forehead. Scott looked and smiled at his mother.
The cool wintery air hit Scott as he was carried outside and he shivered; his father looked up at the sky, flakes of snow falling into his face. Looking back down he hunched his shoulders over to protect his son from the cold air.
Further down the street on the opposite side, a boy just older than Scott was making his way up his own path to his house.
"Jackson Junior!" Benjamin Murphy called to him. The boy looked up, hood pulled over his dark blond hair. He jogged over, seeing who it was and sensing an issue.
"Scott?" He queried, looking at his friend. "Is he ok?"
"Yeah, he's fine; can you come with me to take him down to lock up?"
"Sure, of course." Jackson walked ahead of the Alpha, opening the door to the large community hall. The large, empty space was bare except for the chair stacked up along its walls and a long table at the back where the Alpha would sit, next to his Luna and the Beta and his wife. The Padre and Amelia, the pack doctor would also seat themselves at the ends of the table. The huge crest of Eastspirits was hung on the wall much like the round table at Winchester Castle's Great Hall. It was the shape of a shield, painted a deep royal blue, a white chevron split it. Depictions of three wolves were at the top of the chevron and to each side and a beautifully carved phoenix perched magnificently on top, its wings spread out wide and its chest puffed out proudly, it was a rich gold colour inset with small onyx in its eyes and red jasper set into its chest like a necklace. Underneath the shield was a wooden banner with ribbon-like ends, it read: Fortitudo Luporum Componantur, 'the strength of wolves combined'.
A small, unsightly wooden door to the right of the hall led down into the depths of the basement. Jackson treaded carefully down the cracked stone steps, being careful not to slip, the basement had flooded a couple of times throughout the years and it never seemed to have dried up. Green mould hugged the corners and moss grew up the walls. Stories told that the community hall was one of the oldest buildings in the region, the basement being even older. Jackson reached the bottom of the stairs and turned on a lamp that was in the corner of the room. The room was large; being the size of the community hall, there was a sink in one of the corners which was more like a water pump. Two stone pillars in the centre of the room helped to support the ceiling. An old, rickety chair with a cushion perched on the seat stood in the other corner, opposite the door to the cage.
Jackson could hear heavy breathing coming from behind him and he looked round to see the Alpha touching down at the bottom of the stairway. He seemed out of breath but Jackson quickly noticed how tightly he was holding onto Scott. He moved towards him, holding his arms out he silently offered to take Scott from him but he seemed reluctant to give him up.
Jackson gave up and flipped through a set of keys that hung underneath the light switch that was the most modern thing in the room; he picked out the most crooked one and moved over to the corner where wrought-iron bars lined a section of the room. It had been built over a hundred years ago, designed to keep in werewolves as they went through their first change, a changing wolf was dangerous, they were violent and had no control over their actions, they were also vulnerable. Many a wolf had been killed in other packs by warlocks. Warlocks were a Werewolf's sworn enemy; they would frequently attack packs using their magic, just to spite them.
The gate at the end unlocked with a loud metallic clunk and swung open. Jackson moved out of the Alpha's way as he took his unconscious son into the cell. He kicked out one of the thin blankets that were rolled up in the corner. The dark blue material lay flat on the solid, cold, concrete floor, it would give Scott some sort of warmth and comfort during his Shift, even though the odds were that the blacked would be destroyed by the end. Benjamin put Scott down on the blanket and backed out of the shadowy cell.
"Look after him," Benjamin said, patting the teen on the shoulder. "Keep me informed."
"Yes, sir." Jackson said submissively. He sat himself down carefully on the old wooden chair that was falling apart. He pulled his legs up to his chest and watched as the Alpha left the room, locking the door.
It was hours before anything happened. He knew the whole process would take about eight hours at the most, from the starting of the severe headaches to the complete change. It had been around three hours already and he was only just going into stage three.
Scott was shivering, teeth chattering; Jackson had to admit that it wasn't overly warm in the dim basement but it wasn't that cold. He pulled himself from the chair that creaked when he moved and sat on the floor next to the wrought-iron bars that ran from floor to ceiling. He leant against them, it was uncomfortable but he needed to be there for his friend. He put his hand through the bars and placed it on his friends shoulder. His skin was hot to the touch despite his shivering.
About an hour later, Scott's eyes fluttered open; they looked paler than his usual vibrant green, his brown hair stuck to his forehead from the sweat.
"I'm cold," Scott told Jackson quietly.
"I know, but your skin is baking, I don't want you to overheat."
"'Kay," He replied, he rolled himself over onto his side slowly facing Jackson. "This is fun." He scoffed, smiling a little.
"Yeah, whatever, I've got to watch you for the next couple of hours, and I'm frozen. This hoodie isn't doing much for me. So, how much homework you got left for tomorrow?"
"You're so not funny!" Scott narrowed his eyes in to a mocking glare. "Can I have some water?" He asked.
"Sure," Jackson stood up and wandered over to the sink where a small plastic cup was stood on the edge of the sink. The sink had an old fashioned pump and he pressed the lever, gushes of water spilled out and he caught some of it in the cup. He shook the water off his hand and took the water over to Scott who had managed to sit himself up onto one elbow. He took the cup from him thankfully and gulped down the water. A droplet spilled from his mouth and ran down his chin. He wiped it off with the back of his hand.
"Cheers," He said breathlessly. He tossed the cup back to Jackson who caught it with a single hand. Scott lay back down on the blanket and pulled one corner over his feet. Another headache hit him, pulsating through his temples and behind his eyes, he squashed his eyes shut and held his hands against his head. He yelled out, Jackson immediately comforted him, soft reassuring words and resting a hand back on his shoulder.
Scott's body suddenly went limp and he was curled up on the blanket. His body tensed suddenly, fingers balled up into fists, eyes scrunched up, hitched breath. He began convulsing, violent jolts racking the small boy's body. It lasted for around for minutes and when the seizure finally stopped, his body relaxed, he breathed deep returning the oxygen back into his bloodstream, but it wasn't long before another one started, this often happened, the seizure would be spaced close apart then the delays would be longer and longer until they were virtually non-existent, it would be then that the metamorphosis would happen.
Another seizure racked his small frame; Jackson stared at him, watching him closely to make sure he would be ok. A noise that sounded like a hiccup emanated from Scott and Jackson shuffled himself close to the bars worriedly, reaching through and making sure he was still breathing. Nothing. Panic raced through him and he got up quickly, dashing over to the other side of the room and snatching the keys from the wall hook. He fumbled with them trying to desperately open the lock while trying to mind link with the Alpha.
"Sir, he's stopped breathing!" He told him. The gate opened and he rushed over to his friend's side. He pushed him over onto his back and saw that his face was deathly pale and his lips were tinting blue. He shook him, shouting his name. Swearing, he yelled through the mind link to get the attention of his father, though there was no response, and started doing compressions, after thirty he gave him two rescue breaths, then more compressions.
A gasp and a growl came from Scott and then it happened so quickly, Jackson barely realised what had happened, but before he knew it Scott's grey wolf was standing over his baring his teeth too close for comfort, he swiped a paw across Jackson's facing leaving a deep gash. Jackson held out his hands in defence, his brain was in overdrive and Shifting himself was proving difficult, but before long he felt the familiar tingling in his hands and feet and then down his spine, he blacked out for no longer than a second and when he next opened his eyes he saw brown paws sticking out in front of him. He rolled himself onto his feet and rose up on his hind legs to meet the eyes of Scott. He had control over his wolf; he could manipulate himself to fight Scott without hurting him. He launched himself at the grey wolf, teeth bared, and a low growl emerging from low in his throat. Something stopped him though, bashing him aside and into the bars. A loud voice echoed through his mind.
"Stop!" He look round to see the Alpha and he stood up, head bowed. He backed himself into the corner. Scott, however, didn't stop, he bounded towards his father at full force despite the small space and went for his father's neck but he was batted down with a single swipe and pinned to the ground, a yelp from Scott did nothing to stop his father shifting back to human and reaching the chains on the wall, he wrapped one round his neck like a collar and then more around his ankles of his front and back paws. Scott did his best to get at his father, growling loudly and howling. His father just looked at him with pity and moved towards Jackson who was huddled in the corner, wiping the blood from the cut on his cheek.
"Come on, get out of here." Jackson couldn't tell if the Alpha was angry or not. The Alpha led him back up the stairs. When they reached the community hall the Alpha turned round and faced Jackson. "How could you be so stupid and go in there? You know how dangerous it is!" He shouted, Jackson just stood there trying to look strong.
"I - He stopped breathing, Sir, I couldn't…" He broke off before he said something he regretted about Jasper. The Alpha's face softened and he reached out a hand to his shoulder.
"I know," He told him, he placed a hand under his chin and lifted his head up, turning it slightly to get a better look at the injury to his face in the light. "Go and see Dr. Wyles about that cut on your face." He smiled slightly and Jackson left the room.
Benjamin Murphy stood and watched his son's best friend leave, once he was gone, he sank into one of the chairs, exhausted and frustrated, at the end of the long table. He put his head in his hands and pressed his palms into his eyes to stop the tears. He missed Jasper. He took a deep breath, composed himself. A scream came from inside the basement. He stood up quickly and dashed to where his son was. He saw him writhing in agony, chains rattling against the stone walls and the concrete floor, shifting back into his human form; another yell that was a mix between a human scream and a wolf's howl. He crouched down against the bars and started whispering to his son, telling him that it would be alright.
About an hour later, after lots of screaming and shouting, he had fully shifted back into his human form; all fur had disappeared leaving only the hair on his head, his eyes returned to their bright green. Scott looked up at his father, trying to catch his breath, he could see the worn look on his face as he tried to smile at him, but Scott knew the smile was fake, he knew his father missed Jasper and that Scott reminded his father of him. He pushed himself up onto his elbow and then, finding it uncomfortable, he sat up. He pulled his legs up to his chest.
"I'm ok…" He said quietly, more to himself than anyone else. He inspected his wrists and ankles where the chains still remained, heavy on his tired limbs. He tugged at the one round his neck that was the most uncomfortable. There was the metallic sound as the gate was unlocked. Scott's father walked over to him and crouched down, he took the padlock from the chain around his neck and unlocked it, and the chains hit the floor with a loud clatter, startling Scott. He slowly unchained the others and they too fell to the hard ground.
He took a few calming deep breaths and stood up, he swayed for a few moments before the dizziness settled and he wandered over to the gate. His father followed him and reopened it. As soon as he stepped out he embraced his son.
"Don't do that ever again; I've already lost one of you." He said. Benjamin was much taller than his fifteen-year-old son, he had short brown hair, unlike his sons hair, which he didn't really approve of, it was the teenage heartthrob type hair, neither long nor short and basically just messy, all of the time. At the moment, however, he didn't really care; his son had survived his first shift.
When they walked back into the house, his mother started fussing over him; she'd been told about what had happened and not being able to see her son for the past seventeen hours.
"Mum, I'm fine." He said twisting out of her grip. He stood a little way back from her and smiled as if to show her so.
"Go and pack Scott, we're leaving tonight." He father commanded, seating himself gracefully on one of the ivory coloured armchairs in front of the open fireplace.
"What?" He questioned, his father hadn't said anything about going anywhere. Hadn't today been bad enough?
"We're going to Deepfort Forest. Now, go and pack like I asked." He turned his head back round to the fireplace and watched intently as the flames danced and licked at the edges of the chimney. Ignorance, Scott thought, feeling irked by his actions towards the situation. Scott glared at the back of his father's head and stormed off to his bedroom, aiming to make as much noise as he could by banging the lounge door shut as well as his bedroom door. His mother jumped at the sound and took a step towards Ben. She placed her hands on his shoulders and slowly massaged them, relieving her husband's stress. He placed his hand on hers and craned his neck upwards.
"Do you have to be so harsh on him?" She whispered and kissed the top of his forehead. Ben pulled away from her grip suddenly and moved himself round on the armchair.
"I just can't let what happened to…" He broke off.
"-Jasper." She finished. They both looked to the photographs that hung above the fireplace. They pictured every member of the pack, past and present creating a massive collection of memories. A black and white photo hung in the centre of their family, just the four of them.