'What do we do?' asked Steve
'Do? We can do nothing! The power within them is...almost unstoppable.
get away before he gets free, only the sun can save us now.' replied the old
'But...can't you use that stuff again?'
'I have none left. Come, we must be away.' said the woman
'But...' said Steve
'Come on!' said Alek, 'you heard her, this is too big for us to handle
Did you really think that we could deal with this stuff?'
'I really don't know what I thought, but I know I didn't think we'd ever hit these things for real. You're right, we've got to get away, think on it.'
'Then come on!' shouted Alek, turning and running after the rest
'If only...' thought Steve, bending over the beast, 'if only you'd stayed somewhere else.' the beast growled slightly and opened one eye. It looked right at him and growled louder as it opened the other
'Oh shit, the damn thing's awake! You guys, you guys! It's awake!' he ran after the group, he caught them up about thirty seconds later, they had stopped to see what was keeping him.
'There you are, this isn't a game you know!'
'I know,' panted Steve, 'I know. He's awake, he'll be getting free soon. You need to get out of here.'
'We'll get out of here, just hurry up.'
'No, no you won't. That thing has been after us all night, it's too close. If we all run, it'll catch us up and get the lot of us. Esme, you can get away. I've seen you...disappear.'
'Too right, young man. I can get away.'
'Right, but we can't.'
'Then what are you saying?' asked Joe
'We have to delay it. We have to stop that thing.'
'Actually, me. not you, not any of you. Me.'
'No, you can't!' said Alek
'One of us has to. Do you want it to be you?'
'But nothing. Get out of here! Tell everyone, when you find me the police will know that there is something out here. Then they can catch it.'
'I can't let you face it alone.'
'You have to.'
'It's a werewolf!'
'Don't you think I know that? Look, I know about these things far more than you do. It was blind bad luck that led us to finding it, but somebody with nohow has to fight it. You wouldn't stop it for long enough, even though I don't think it knows quite what it is. Now get out of here!' the beast howled from way back down the track, Joe looked at his friend and nodded. He ran for it. The old woman had already disappeared into the forest. Steve turned and ran back down the dirt road, he ran straight into the clearing and stopped in his tracks. It was empty.
'Shit. Come back here! I'm waiting for you! Look, come and get me you big hairy bastard!' there was a roar from behind him, Steve turned and looked back up the track towards freedom, and saw the monster blocking the way. it was looking at him and drooling.
'No, no you don't. Not that easily.' Steve picked up a large piece of wood. It wasn't exceptionally big or strong, but it would have to do. He brandished it, 'I know how to use this, you know.' he said, the monster snarled and smashed it into matchwood with one swipe of his claws.
'Come on then, I'll fight you with my bare hands!'
'Big...mistake.' said the beast, in a growling voice, 'you...cannot beat me.' it sucked the drool back and spat it onto the floor
'I know. I have to try anyway.'
'This is not...bravery. You are...just foolhardy. You know I will win, yet you try anyway.'
'I have to.'
'Ah, friendship...it makes us brave.' the beast was pronouncing the words with some difficulty, but quite clearly
'Comes with the territory.'
'Now, territory I know about. What do you know?'
'All I know is that I'm going to stop you from getting my friends.'
'You are brave, little human, but are you lucky as well?'
'Luck has nothing to do with it. I know you, I know how you fight.'
'You know how I fight, but it does you no good. You do not know who I am, you will die and still not know.'
'Do you know yourself, though? You're a monster, all you have to do is realise it, you can come back.'
'I am not human!' it roared,
'No, I can see that what's left of you isn't. At the moment.'
'Then beat me, and you will surely see my face in the sunlight.'
'Come on then, let's fight, not talk.'
The beast snarled and advanced. Steve bunched up his fists and leapt at the werewolf. The beast caught him in the air and held him at arms length by his t-shirt. Steve tried to break free of the grip, but to no avail. He tried kicking, but he couldn't reach. The werewolf laughed, a deep throaty laugh that managed to raise the hairs on the back of Steve's neck, 'now, human, is the end of our little battle.'
There was a scream that rocked the woods, woke up a few birds and made every animal within a half-mile radius dig a little deeper into their hiding places.
'Was that...him?' asked Joe
'It must have been. It got him.' said Alek, looking back, 'come on, we have to get into town, it won't follow us there. I'll make that bastard pay for what he's done. Let's get away from here, to the police. We should have called them earlier.'
'But would they have believed you?' asked Esme, walking into the circle of light projected by the street lamp, 'they would have said you were crazy. Werewolves aren't real.'
'We weren't going to tell them that it was a werewolf.'
'Come with me, we must get out of sight. He has your scent now. You must all go to the police, and you must tell him that a killer is on the loose.'
'What will you be doing?'
'I am a white witch, I deal with werewolves on my own terms. I cannot lie to anyone about what I have seen tonight. Better that I tell none who do not want to hear me.' she walked out of sight again and although Joe ran after her, by the time that he could see any distance she was gone again. 'So, what do we do now?' he said, turning back
'Police. We go to the police.' said Alek
'Oh yeah, right.' Joe slowly fainted
Light shone on his head. Eyes that had been closed ficked open, and a sudden deep breath was taken, almost as an after thought. He was breathing again! Air, good clean...well air at least. it smelled...a lot. Steve sat up and pulled the sheet off of his body. He was in a room filled with...dead bodies. They were all in closed, locked draws apart from a few that were...lying on tables, often several at once. He could smell them.
'Damn autopsies.' his voice sounded strange, and Steve coughed, he spat
out dried blood. He sprung onto his feet and winced slightly as scars tore
open. Blood welled down his front, he tore off his t-shirt, pulling them
open further. Within a few seconds they had stopped, Steve ran his fingers
over the inch-deep lacerations in his chest. Five of them. In a row. Claws.
A memory of pain flashed through his mind, and Steve reeled. He regained
control again to find himself cowering in the corner of the morgue. 'Cool
it, there's no-one alive in here but you. They're dead bodies. Damn but
I've got to get out of here.' The blood was...affecting him. He walked
to the door and pushed it open. There was nobody about, and Steve wasn't
sure he'd want to meet anyone that was. He ran for it.
At his friend's house, Steve stopped in the back garden. He picked up some stones and threw them at the window. It cracked.
'Oh jeez, he's gonna kill me for that one.' muttered Steve
'What the bloody hell was that?' said Joe, coming to the and looking out 'Me, it's me!'
'Who the hell is that? At...one o'clock in the morning?'
'Me who..? Fuckin'ell...' said Joe slowly, 'Steve? Is that you? Am I dreaming?'
'No. I don't think so, though I can't say for myself.'
'But...you died. I had to...indentify your body. You were dead, I saw it. You'd been...ripped up pretty bad.'
'Can't be, I'm okay now.' Joe held out his arms
'And what the hell happened to your voice?'
'What? Sounds okay to me.'
'You sound like shit. You look like you just died. Wait there, I'm coming down. I don't care if this is a dream.' Joe's head disappeared from the window. A few minutes later he opened the back door slowly, 'it bloody well is you!'
'Who did you think it was at this time of night?'
'You look like shit, you really do.'
'So you keep telling me.' said Steve
'What the hell happened to you? It was your body in the morgue that I had to look at? I mean, it looked like you.'
'I don't know, last I can remember is...going to sleep three days ago. I can't have been dead, but I woke up in the morgue and it was...night. And there were bodies all around me, and I...I remembered a dream...werewolf.' the last word was whispered.
'Look, you better come in.'
'Thanks.' said Steve, and he walked into the house. The door shut behind him. outside, the moon came fully out of the clouds. Joe made coffee, and they sat in the lounge drinking it.
'You say that I stayed behind in the woods and tried to fight off a werewolf to save you lot?'
'Yep. I thought you were mad too, but you were right.'
'and my throat was ripped out?'
'Yeah, I could see your spine.' 'Oh gross. That's disgusting.' 'I thought so too. I was sick outside.'
'But why can't I remember it? I mean, I sort of remember...like a dream...and my throat is right where it should be, now.'
'Yeah, but your voice sounds like it's been through a cheese-grater.'
'And I do still have these.' said Steve, pointing at his ribs.
'Scars. In my...bloody hell, they're gone!'
'I don't know what you're talking about...'
'I had these great big scars...right down here. Five of them. Look, the blood is still on my jeans.' he pointed to the patches of congealed blood
'Yeah, that's right...when I saw your body you had half your chest ripped out, blood everywhere they said, looks like you lost a lot. You can't have been alive, I don't know how you could have lived with the route to your lungs ripped in two.'
'It was that bad?'
'Worse. There's something bloody weird going on here. You are dead. Clinically dead, legally dead. Or at least you were. What the hell is going on?'
'Don't you see?' said Joe, looking up slowly
'What?' 'The answer is staring you right in the face.' 'It is?' asked Joe 'Yes,' said Steve, getting up and looking deep into his friend's eyes, 'it is.'
'Steve, get back. You're scaring me.'
'Why? I'm your friend. you know me.'
'I used to know someone like you, but he's dead. And when he was alive he didn't act quite like you did. Get back!'
'What's the matter? Scared of me?'
'No. Yes. What's the matter with you?'
'The answer is the matter.' 'Stop it, please.'
'Why are you scared? You know me.'
'I'm sorry I had to do this, Esme said this might happen.' he pulled out a small object from his pocket and brandished it at Steve. He stopped and looked at it, 'what the hell is that?'
'A dagger.' replied Steve 'Daggers can't harm me.' he grabbed it, and then reeled back, roaring in pain, 'it burns! It burns me!' he sank to his knees in the doorway of the house. Moonlight flooded onto his tortured body. Steve knew peace again. For a second. Then the ancient power that was within that celestial body began it's work on him. he thrashed about, destroying most of the objects in the room and finally fled out of the front window and ran down the street. 'He only touched it, and it burnt him.' said Joe, looking aghast at the small silver dagger in his palm, 'I need to get out of here, this is all too weird.' he sighed and put the small silver dagger back in his pocket. Then he went to the front door and left the house, 'my parents are going to go mad when they see what's happened to the house, but I can't sleep tonight.' he said to himself, and walked down the road. He went into town, looked at the closed shops and pubs and realised that he couldn't get away from the memories even when he was alone outside. 'Steve, why the hell did you have to die.' he said to himself, 'and why the hell do I still think you're alive? You aren't a werewolf any more than the person we caught was. He was just a psycho. You're dead.' he finished, shaking his head.
Hands grabbed him and pulled him down the alley he was walking past, 'hey, you wanna stay healthy?' said a rough voice
'Bugger off.' said Joe, 'I'm not in the mood.'
'Hey, we got ourselves a tough guy here.' said the voice again, 'gimme all your money.'
'No. I don't have any, anyway.' he said.
'Then we hurt you. Real bad.' the two people who were holding him let him go, Joe ran as far away as possible. Unfortunately, it was a dead-end alley. The two thieves grinned and brought out pen-knives. Joe grinned, they were smaller than the silver dagger that Esme had given him. He reached into his pocket, and stopped. He looked up, behind the advancing pair, and gulped; there was a large form in the lamplight, 'Get away from my friend!' it roared, and...stalked into the alley Humans don't walk like that! thought Joe, but I know what does.
'Hey, who's this joker?' asked the second mugger
'I don't care. Let's get him.' they turned and advanced on who Joe knew to be Steve. He made short work of them, Joe turned away and shuddered at the ferocity of the attack. A few minutes later, he heard footsteps coming towards him. Joe reached for the dagger, a hand touched his arm, a very human arm.
'Don't,' said Steve, 'you don't need it.'
'What?' Joe's hand hovered over the dagger 'I'm not here to hurt you.'
'Half an hour ago you were trying to kill me.'
Steve grinned, 'well, what do you expect? Anyway, the moonlight hit me, and I went wild for a time...God, I suppose it should be Gods, knows what went through my mind. Anyway, out on the heath, I...woke up. I realised who I was, what I was. And it didn't matter. I knew I wouldn't be able to hurt my friends. I suddenly had...control. That's the best I can explain it as. I came back to find you, to apologize. And found you out here. It's dangerous out here, you know.'
'Yeah, there are worse beasts around than you,' said Joe, getting up, 'only difference being most of them look human all the time. How the hell did you find me? And what happened to them?'
'I think I killed them.'
'Well, I didn't bite them, so they won't be coming back like I did.'
'You ripped them apart?'
'Well...I suppose you could look at it like that.'
'That is sick.'
'Not for me, I'm a werewolf. It's the only way I fight. Come on, let's both of us go home.'
'What the hell are you going to do? I mean...you're dead.'
'No, I'm not. They'll have to admit they made a mistake, that's all. I mean, who's going to believe that I came back from the dead? Or that I'm a werewolf?'
'I suppose you're right. But how come you look human?'
'I'm out of the moonlight. What it seems to be is that I only change when I want to when I'm inside, though I do have to change when the moon comes up, I can't tell you what will happen when it's a full moon.'
'Come on then. We'd better call the police, tell them that the psycho who attacked us in the forest found out where I live and attacked both of us. We can say that we ran into the town. They'll find the bodies and think he killed them to.' suggested Joe
'Oh what a tangled web we weave, eh?' said Steve.
'You say that he broke in here and attacked you?'
'Yes.' said Joe
'And what was he doing here?' said the policeman, pointing to Steve
'I told you, I woke up in the damn morgue, surrounded by half-dissected dead bodies, for fuck's sake. I ran like hell, to the nearest place that I knew.'
'No. Home's across town. I was shit scared, I found this place first. I woke him up by throwing stones at the window.'
'Stones?' asked the policeman
'Yeah, and the idiot still managed to break my window. I come downstairs, and find my friend, who I thought was dead, outside. I let him in, we drink some coffee and then talk a bit. Suddenly, we start hearing noises outside. Next thing we know...'
'Next thing we know this maniac rips open the back door. Now, we've been on edge ever since we found out about this guy. Only you never would have believed us, as he hadn't done anything. He was just acting weird.'
'Weird?' asked the policeman
'Yeah, we'd see him looking up at the moon and sort of...growling. Or howling quietly under his breath.'
'Yeah. The guy thinks he's a wolf. I think it's called lycanthropy. He finally came after us after we followed him into the woods when we saw him wearing this...skin thing. Anyhow, he found out where Joe lives and came after him. He didn't expect to find me. He barged in here, we realise who it is and slam that door at him. Then we run out the front. He must have leapt out the window. We ran into the town and didn't come back until now.'
'You expect me to believe this?'
'What part of it? I mean, I'm here,' said Steve, 'and I'm certainly alive. And the room is certainly all messed up. Now, I can tell you that I have no reason to, and that the psycho who almost killed me does. Now what part don't you believe?'
'I admit, it looks real enough.' 'If it isn't, then what the hell is this?' asked Steve, picking up a small wad of hairs. 'Animal fur?'
'Looks like it. Study it, or something. Tell us what type. I'll bet that they are real wolf's fur. Then get some more people to try to find the guy who did this. Chances are he's attacked more people now that his secret's out in the open.' Steve sat down, 'phew, tonight has worn me out. I'll phone my parents later, they must still think I'm dead. And that's another thing, try to find out how I was left for dead in a morgue. I never want that to happen again. I'll be sueing if I don't get a good answer.'
'I'll get right on it. This is serious, whatever really happened, you were obviously attacked. That makes it our case. One tip, stay out the way of this guy, he sounds like a murderous son of a bitch.'
The next day, Steve tried going back to school. Most of his friends still talked to him. His enemies stayed well clear. The problem was, very few of them acted as though nothing had heppened, however much he didn't want that. It was just that he didn't want what he got: a very cold reception. They talked but there was always something else behind their eyes...Steve would have said it was fear, but what did they have to fear?
'Even the teachers don't seem to trust me. My parents are bad enough. You guys are the only ones who seem to be able to get over it, and you saw the body.'
'Huh. Strange, I mean it's not as if they...know.'
'I'm surprised that that didn't make a difference as well.'
'You're here talking to us. You're acting the same. You had plenty of chance last night to do anything, and you didn't. I trust you.' said Alek
'Yeah, both of us do.'
'Even after you found out just what I did to those two muggers?'
'Well...just don't bank on me opening the door to you at midnight when it's a full moon.'
'Don't worry, I told you I have control. I think.'
'Thanks a lot, don't do me any favours.' shivvered Joe 'hey, quiet, here comes a copper. Morning officer, what do you want?'
'Joe, Steve and Alek, come with me. I think we've found your psycho.' They followed the policeman to his car, where they got into the back. He pulled away and began driving.
'Hey, where are we going? The station's that way!' said Alek, pointing back the way they had come
'We're not going to the station. I told you, we found him. We haven't caught him yet, but we know where he is. His hideout's in the woods, like you said.'
'I'm glad you listened to us, before anyone else got hurt.' said Steve
'Yeah, well, it's our job.' the policeman looked away from the rear-view mirror and back onto the road, Steve leant towards Joe and whispered, 'there's something wrong here. Something doesn't...smell right, if you know what I mean.'
'No, I don't, actually.' said Joe, 'relax, they don't know what you are.'
'Maybe not...but there's one person who does. Just keep your eyes open, okay?'
'Sure, I've had them permanently open since this whole thing started. It's your bloody fault as well.' said Joe, punching Steve
'Sure, blame me for noticing something weird was happening down the woods. You could have said 'don't be silly' but no, you agreed to check it out. Anyway,' said Steve, looking out the window as the road changed to dirt track, 'it's nearly over. I propose that we don't ever try this again, okay?'
'Sure.' said Alek
'Don't have to ask me twice.' replied Joe A few minutes later the car stopped, it was in the clearing. They all got out, 'come on,' said the policeman, 'it's this way.'
'Hey, if you leave your car there, won't you be blocking the way for everyone else?' asked Alek 'Na, everyone who's coming is already here.'
'Why doesn't that make me feel any better.' said Steve under his breath
'Relax, we have an ace in the hole; you.' said joe 'It's not night, I can't do anything.'
'Then neither can he.'
'True. Come on then, let's get this over with.' they followed the policeman into the wood, and eventually came up to a dead end. The dirt track went nowhere. It just circled around a large tree that had strange markings carved into it. The policeman was waiting by it.
'Hey, what is this? Where is everyone?' said Alek
'Oh shit,' said Steve suddenly, 'haven't you realised that yet? "everyone who's coming is already here."
'Then where's the psycho? Where's all the...' the penny dropped, 'oh fuck. You mean...he's the...'
'Indeed, and now, you must die.' he said
'You can't kill us. You're not the werewolf.' said Steve, 'I should know, I mean I would be too, didn't you know that?'
'A minor mistake. I should have torn you to pieces like you did the muggers in the alley that night.'
'You were there?'
'True. I was watching my little protege. You didn't think any of you could escape me, did you?'
'And now what? I should have seen it coming, if the police really had taken up that case, it would have ended up all over the news. We haven't seen a thing. It was only you who came that night to check on us, and only you who turned up at the school. There should have been hundreds of policemen everywhere because of the murder alone.'
'A murder which turned out to be false.'
'Yeah, only because you were the werewolf all along, and you turned me into one.'
'Ah, you see the truth. Join me, we can rule mankind.'
'No. I won't let you do that!'
'You have no choice, you see; I am Alpha. I am Pack Leader. You must do as I bid.'
'No!' the compulsion exerted by the werewolf was strong, even though both of them were human, but Steve could withstand it, 'I will see you in hell first!'
'What can you do? My human...alter ego...does not know I exist. He is weak, and I am now in control. I have strength greater than any mere human, even in this form. You are too young, you cannot hope to equal me, let alone beat me.'
'Not in that form he cannot.' said a familiar lilting voice, it was Emse, 'I have been on your trail for some time, werwolf, and I will see you dead. But first, you need this, Steve.' she threw a small object through the air. Steve caught it and looked at it. it was a medallion. 'What use can that be against me? No talisman that can harm me can be held by such as him.'
'No, a weapon spelled against evil werewolves would indeed harm a good one. However, knowledge cannot. You have the knowledge needed to beat him, little one, if you can but use it.'
'What the hell is this? It's just a picture...'
'No more games!' shouted the policeman, 'if you will not follow me, you must die.'
'It looks like...the earth. And the sun...and the moon...'
'Don't just stand there, go get him! You can beat him, you're a werewolf too!' shouted Alek.
'Yes, I think you're right. I can beat him. Know what this says?' asked Steve
'I do not care.'
'No, you don't. That is why I can beat you. I may only be young, but a young full werewolf is far greater than even you can be in the daylight. Know what this says? Knowledge, Understanding and Power. I am reborn!' Steve shouted the last three words and threw back his head and howled. His form shifted and became suddenly more canine; long fangs grew out of his incisors and his front arms became longer, stronger and more paw-like. Hair grew all over his body. His body swelled with the sudden growth of muscle and bone. 'I...am...reborn.' he said slowly, in the familiar growling tones
'How can this be? It is not night! The moon is not in the sky!'
'Oh yes it is, you just can't see it.'
The werewolf looked forlornly up into the sky, 'where are you! Why do you not fill me with your power!' he called up
'Fool, you do not understand, you do not have the final key. And for that, you must die.' Steve approached the cowering human and went in for the kill...
Some time later, his friends felt it safe again to approach, 'Steve, you okay?'
'What the hell happened?'
'I...don't really know. You suddenly became a werewolf, but it was still daylight.'
'Oooh, my head hurts again.'
'You will get used to it.' said Esme, helping him up
'Is it over?'
'For him,' said Esme pointing to what remained of the vanquished werwolf, 'yes.'
'I did that?'
'Indeed. You had to. Do not worry, he was not cut out for being what you have become.'
'I killed him?'
'Get over it.'
'This is going to take some getting used to.'
'You have time. You have plenty of time.'
'I suppose you're right. Here, I don't think I need this anymore.'
'Indeed, you only needed it once.'
'What did it say?' asked Alek
'It said: "I am your life-blood. Do not forget me when the sun reigns the skies". Round the edge it said "Knowledge, Understanding and Power".'
'Yeah, you said something about that right before you ripped him to pieces.'
'Basically,' said Steve, ignoring Alek, 'I realised that it is indeed the moon that caused me to become a werewolf, but that night had very little to do with it. Normally, moonlight is needed, for those who lead a double life. They do not accept, and sometimes do not know, that they are werewolves. I had both acceptance and understanding.'
'And the knowledge made it all clear. You are beyond simply becoming a wolf, you are something more. He could not understand that, that is why you won.'
'So...now what do I do? I mean, I can't explain that I killed this person because we're both werewolves.'
'You do not have to.' said a rough voice
'Who said that?' asked Joe slowly, 'and why do I feel a sudden urge to run away screaming?'
'Because I am your worst nightmare. Turn around, humans.' behind them was a wolf, a big black wolf with a single green eye. The other one was missing, 'I am Alpha. There is one among you of our kind.'
'There's more of them?' asked Joe, stepping back
'Of course. you didn't think he,' said Esme, pointing to the body, 'was the only one?'
'Stupid human. Come, pack member, you may come with us.'
'I...why?' asked Steve
'Because you are one of us. Because you are not one of them.' said the werewolf, pointing a now-human hand at the rest of the group.
'Erm, you're, ah, not wearing anything.' said Alek
'Why should I? I am not a weak human who faints at the sight of blood or the merest cold wind.'
'I bet you aren't. So come on, Steve,' said Joe, 'home we go.'
'No. I don't think I can come back with you.'
'He's right, I don't belong with you humans. Do I, Alpha?'
'Do you want to give it up?' asked Alpha.
Joe thought about it, then looked down at the ground, 'no, I don't.'
'You can stay, you know, but if you stay we will not come back. This is your only chance.'
'And I think I have to take it. I'm one of you now, and that's the only way it'll be. Sorry, you guys, but this is...not quite goodbye, just...I'll see ya'round.' the pack disappeared back into the blackness of the deep forest. Steve looked at the tree and ripped off the bark with the markings. He stood still for a second, and then slowly changed into a full wolf. He looked back once and flicked into the darkness.
'We are never going to be able to explain this. What the hell do we tell them?'
'That one werewolf killed another and then sauntered off with a whole pack of them?'
'Well...it is the truth.'
'Idiot.' said Joe, Esme laughed and faded away into the woods as well as any werewolf.
'One thing,' asked Steve
'Can I go back, someday?'
'Of course. You're a werewolf. It's not like you're dead or anything...'
...And now it was some time later. Life had got back to normal in the town, though for the gang that had saved the world as they knew it, they would never quite be able to forget what had happened to their friend. They had lost one member in the very first problem, and while Steve wasn't dead, everyone else thought he was. Until he came back, that is how he would have to stay, with everyone but the gang members walking on egg-shells. Alek, Joe, even Esme the white witch, all were feeling the strain. It had all started innocently enough: A plan to find out about what was happening in their area. It had led to a real werewolf, not just lycanthropy like Steve had thought. now he was...gone from their world. None of them knew when, or if, he would return. they just hoped that he could somehow patch things up, they had no-one to talk to except each other. This avenue of relief was drying up, all that they had gone through together was old news to them, talking wasn't helping. None of the official organisations were any use either, they could not be trusted. At the best it would be seen as a prank call, at the worst they would all get put away as having a nervous breakdown. Maybe they wouldn't, however, but they just could not take that chance.
'We need him back, the people here are not going to get over his apparent death, not in such a violent manner. It's just such an ugly way to be killed, and this town was almost idyllic before it all started.' said Joe
'I know what you mean, but how can he come back into the limelight? He's been killed, and they found what was left of a body, the poor kid, no teeth becuase of the cult-thing we thought up. Steve is now officially dead, and he dropped out of sight too. We have no way to contact him, or to bring him back.' said Alek
'Maybe you do not, but just maybe I do.'
'Witchcraft?' asked Joe
'Of course. It does work, you know.'
'Most of what I've seen you do was...mental manipulation. Yes it uses means I do not understand, but direct manipulation of the environment with just your mind? Are you sure?'
'I am. I will call him back here, if such a general call does not work then I will travel through the astral plane. If he requires a more physical call then I will find him, travelling as I see fit.'
'Broomstick? Are you serious?'
'Probably by car, actually. Brooms are too drafty, and not exactly comfortable.'
'At the last, of course, I will need to resort to shape-shifting to catch up with the Pack. They do not travel where man can do so as easily.'
'We know werewolves exist now, how about some other sort of magic?'
'This is another type of magic. I was thinking more along the lines of an owl, that way I go where I like without too much to hunt me, including the pack. Visitors are not encouraged, as far as I know.'
'What about Steve?'
'He is a werewolf, they are quite rare you know.'
'Oh yeah, forgot that. Weren't we lucky to get two? Anyway, I wonder where he is now?'
Steve was asleep, the sun warming his fur gently as he lay among the trees. His mind was completely at rest, all worries and troubles had vanished with the last of his clothing. School life, working all day, keeping strict hours, all had taken their toll. Now he, and the entire pack, got up when they wanted, hunted when they wanted, life was almost perfect. Almost. he missed his friends, his family, in some ways the normality that went with his old life. His mind was surfacing, certain ideas were cropping up...
what if..? how about...
...he opened his eyes. He was alone, and he was not where he had fallen asleep. The forest was gone, the trees behind him were different. There was something in them watching him. 'Come out, I know you're there!' he called, turning around
'Ah,' said a voice, 'senses beyond normal, even for a wolf.'
'Smell, sight, hearing. I am downwind, hidden and was not moving. Indeed, you were facing the other way. Your mind saw me, even as the true hunter knows where his prey is before he knows why.'
'Who are you?'
'Just someone trying to look out for one of my own kind.'
'Then what am I doing here?'
'You are here so you can answer my question.'
'Do you like what you see here?' the stranger gestured outwards, encompassing everything.
'Sure. Open meadows, streams, trees, even mountains a long way off, and the creatures within those places are plentiful. I can feel them there.'
'Why? Where am I?'
'No real reason, just that question really. And this: Do you want to look after it for a while?'
'Do you want to look after all of it?'
'I...I...I have nothing else to do I guess. I'm sorry, this is a strange request. Did I hear you correctly? Look after your land? That's it?'
'It's a big "it".'
'How big are these lands?'
'As far as you can see from the top of Lookout Mountain on a clear day, all around. All of that is mine.'
'Just how far is that?'
'Hoirzon to horizon, that is all you need to know, until you get to the edge, you'll know when that is, territory markers, see?'
'But...how do I get to the edges? I can't run that far, what about...border incursions?'
'Do not worry about that, they may travel freely. But what is mine is mine, and taking it without my permission is not allowed. Then you must stop them.'
'How do I get to the edges? And how do I get here? I wanted to go...'
'You wanted to go to the pack.'
'No, leave them.'
'Not your adopted pack, your family. They were ever your pack first. Still are. I know this, and you may travel freely through both lands. If you need to reach the borders, then run. You will get there in time. Travel through one is not travel through the other though, do not waste time, for if you wish to reach anywhere on Earth, you are wasting time travelling here.'
'Now I know something weird is up. Where am I?'
'There has been many names for all of this, I just think I'll call it my own little slice of heaven. You'd better be going back now, they'll be missing you.'
'Wait! How do I get back? How will I know if there is trouble here? What if I meet someone looking for you?'
'Don't worry, you need to get back you'll do so. And if you meet anyone looking for me, handle that too, could you?'
'Sure,' said Steve gesturing, 'whatever you say. This makes no sense, stands to reason if this is real, I can do it.'