That was the third time today someone had tapped on his shoulder, and when he turned around no one was there. It was the fifth time in three days. He knew he was being followed, he could feel it, but he couldn't see anyone near him. He was certain someone had been watching him for days, but he hadn't been able to catch anyone in the act. And last night he had been kept up by voices. Most were gibberish to his ears, but one he had partially understood. It had been speaking an old form of Latin. That was what made him certain he wasn't hallucinating any of it.
Most people would be getting spoked by this point. Nathaniel was getting sick of it. He knew something was playing with him. Not someone, for no one could vanish that quickly, at least not someone human.
Nathaniel believed in ghosts and goblins and witches and fairies and gods and all sorts of things most people dismissed nowadays. He had studied too much religion, legend and science to believe miracles were miraculous, or that human actions were the explanation for everything. He knew that some spirit or the like was messing with him. What he didn't know was why.
"Why!" he loudly demanded to know. He jabbed a finger towards the sky. "Leave me alone! You hear me? LEAVE. ME. ALONE!" He pointed at several random spots the way a parent points at a teen to make sure the child understands what had just been said. He looked around to be sure nothing was acting in spite of him, and saw all the people who had been walking by where now staring at him. Slowly he lowered his hand and turned back towards his destination.
Minutes later he could feel "they" were back. Frowning, he slowly looked around. This time there was no one to be seen, not even people going about their lives. Suddenly he felt hands trying to push him. There was an urgency in the air around him, like he could feel someone screaming at him to run. Whatever had been playing with him for the last few days was now panicking. It was enough to make him take a step in the direction the invisible hands were pushing. But he couldn't just blindly run. After all, he wasn't afraid of anything right now. He had to know why first. What was coming? Should he even trust the beings that had been driving him crazy for days? Perhaps it was another prank.
"No," he said to whomever was listening. "I've had enough of you. Either you tell me what you are and why you're following me, or I go ahead." He waited for as long as he felt was reasonable. Getting no response, he started on.
He could feel the urgency around him escalate as he walked. Unconsciously he moved faster. His eyes darted from side to side looking for the cause of the panic. He heard the creature a second before he saw it, which was not enough time for him to get out of the way. A large wolf, with seemingly human features, jumped on him with so much force he was knocked to the ground. The creature bit into his shoulder, not enough to mess it up but more than enough to draw blood. It then nudged Nathaniel's head and took off. It disappeared into the nearby park before Nathaniel could get to his feet.
The spirits that had tried to warn him of the attack began patting his head and poking at the punctures in his shoulder.
"Stop it," he got out between grimaces of pain, futilely waving away everyone around his shoulder. Though they could physically affect him, he didn't expect he could physically affect them back. "Go away," was all he could think to say. "Please." He simply wanted to figure out what the heck had just happened, and get to a hospital in case he needed a rabies shot. To his surprise, they left. He new it wouldn't be forever, but at least he would have some peace from the supernatural world for the time being.
Days later Nathaniel was in the worst pain of his life. It felt like his limbs where stretching and tearing and bending in ways they hadn't been designed to go. The worst part of it was, when he opened his eyes he could see his limbs actually were doing those things! His spirits were being no help, even though some were trying to calm him or ease his pain - and failing miserably - it seemed some were encouraging the process and enjoying his torture.
Then his face started to contort more than it already was in anguish. His mouth and nose were pulled away from their normal places. His forehead sloped back and his neck shifted. He tried to scream to ease the pain. Instead a guttural yawl emerged.
By the time he was a wolf he knew he was insane. He figured he was probably dying as well, if not already dead, off to join those spirits that would not leave him alone. Then he would get to pester some poor fool. But it wouldn't do to be a wolf spirit, since he was born a human, right? No, he had to get back to being a human before he could go haunt anyone, it just wouldn't do to be any other way.
Nathaniel fought struggled against his own body for the rest of the night. He was pretty sure he had existed in at least three different forms before he found his way back to being human again. When dawn arrived Nathaniel lay exhausted on his floor. Just before he fell asleep he managed to put together enough brainpower to figure out what had happened to him. That creature that bit him last week was a werewolf, and now he was one also. (Damn it...,) he berated himself as he slipped into unconsciousness, (why... didn't I listen... to the spirits....)
Labels: Story, The Lost Song
The question in my mind now is who gets killed saving Rosemary, Nathaniel or Melinda? I wrote the aftermath scene for Nathaniel, but does it make more sense for it to be Melinda? I think so. But then again, do I think that because I'm getting attached to Nathaniel moreso than Melinda?
Either way it goes, I have a scene in mind where Orion "talks" to the survivor of the two about Rosemary and trusting her. Is it a bigger hit, and more motivation to keep protecting Rosemary, that the alpha died or that the only one who actually trusts Rosemary died?
Labels: Story, The Lost Song
The dumpers didn't have a pattern for when they showed up. Simply whenever suited their needs, so long as it wasn't dark. Which meant a constant watch had to be kept between dawn and dusk. A rotating schedule was drawn up, every pack member getting their fair share. Orion offered to sub for anyone who needed to be elsewhere during their shift. And whenever he wasn't busy and wasn't on shift, he could be found prowling nearby.
It was day seven when Katrin howled there were trespassers. Orion was on the scene in seconds. There were three as usual. Katrin hadn't made a move, as she had not yet been told she could hunt large prey alone, and had been instructed to wait for others before engaging in combat. At the sight of Orion dashing by, Katrin jumped to her feet and took off after him.
When the two jumped from the forest in (dire wolf form), the humans screamed. One of them pulled out a handgun and began firing wildly. Orion jumped on the man and bit deep into the side of his neck. He was dead by the time Orion let him go.
The pack successfully hunted down the other two. One had jumped in their SUV s fast as he could and drove off, abandoning his partner. That made one easy to catch. The other in the vehicle had required some cleverness, but the end result was the same.
It was Orion's shift the next time the dumpers came. He saw there were five this time, three of them with guns drawn and eyes peeled. No doubt checking for whatever had kept the last group from returning. The other two were disposing of the latest body as quickly as humanly possible. Orion let loose the warning howl, and impatiently waited for any of his pack to show up. As soon as he saw one he charged the humans.
Four of the humans balked at the surprise of wolves pouncing out of the woods. The fifth managed to keep his wits long enough to get an accurate shot off at Orion. Orion briefly ignored the pain of the bullet ripping through his shoulder, and pounced that shooter. He mauled the man's arm to prevent him from shooting again. For Nathaniel's sake, or rather for the sake of not having to hear Nathaniel lecture him, Orion left the man alive. He did break the man's leg to prevent him from getting away.
Katrin had pulled a gun from one of the other armed ones and was busy subduing that person when the rest of the pack arrived. The two unarmed ones had run at the first sign of attack, and were getting into their vehicle by this point. The third gunman had been trying to get a steady aim, but upon seeing three more large wolves, he fired off one last random shot and ran after the other two humans. After he dove into the SUV, the driver took off.
Melinda stopped briefly to make sure Orion was still combat worthy, not that she expected him to stop if he wasn't. Then she led the pack, minus Nathaniel, after the humans attempting to get away.
Nathaniel stayed behind to watch the two humans, and take care of the body. He had come to feel it was his responsibility to properly tend to the remains of the wolf-blooded left on his pack's lands. First he checked to be sure the two living wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. Then he headed down the hill to the body.
He mulled over the information they had gathered so far, considering how to factor in the dumpings were still occurring here even though the dumpers knew wolves were going on the offensive whenever they showed up. He was deep in thought when he picked up the arm to help pull the body off the sloping ground. Which made him all the more startled when he heard a soft moan of pain as he lifted the body. He froze for a moment, his mind shifting from trying to understand the enemy to processing what had just happened. Gingerly he raised the body and turned his head to place his ear on the chest. Sure enough, he heard a heartbeat.
(She's alive!) he had to proclaim to himself before he could believe it. For a fleeting moment he was ecstatic. Then he realized how severely wounded she was, which brought up conflicting instincts. She needed immediate attention. But why was she still alive? How even? It appeared she had been subjected to the same beatings as all the rest, by all he knew she should be dead. Though it was clear that if she didn't get medical help she would not be waking up any time soon, if at all. He activated his gift of healing to take care of the deepest wound. That would at least give her a fighting chance.
Forgetting about everything else for the time being, Nathaniel carefully carried the woman to the pack's home. Once there he laid her on the closest bed, that being XXX's. He spent the next half hour setting broken bones, finding appropriate containers for applying ice, and trying to avoid making the deep bruises worse.
"Nathaniel!" Melinda's voice cut through his thoughts sharply.
"In here," he called back. He refrained from applying one last bandage. "XXX, you're needed," he added.
Melinda appeared in the doorway with a disapproving scowl. Orion was behind her shoulder with a deep frown. "And just what made you think it was okay to abandon your duty?" Melinda demanded to know. If it hadn't been Nathaniel, she would have launched into a lecture on how abandoning your duty was akin to abandoning the pack when it was depending on you, and all the possible repercussions. There might even be a punishment involved.
Nathaniel motioned for XXX to enter. "Get in here. She's alive. Barely." He glanced at Melinda.
Melinda jerked slightly as her face changed to shock. She pushed Orion off to the side, and made room for XXX to pass by. After Nathaniel filled XXX in on all the wounds and what he had done, Melinda gestured for him to come out of the room.
"I'm sorry," Nathaniel said as soon as he was through the door. He lowered his eyes as he explained himself. "I decided she was more important. If that was wrong, I'll apologize personally to everyone."
Melinda pursed her lips and thought a moment. "You should anyway," she finally decided. "It's simply that it was completely unexpected."
"Which is the only reason you were given a chance to explain," Orion added. "I knew you wouldn't just leave us."
Nathaniel nodded. "She is more important. Keeping her alive should be our priority."
Orion didn't look any more pleased then when he had arrived. But he did agree. "Besides having saved one of them, she should be able to tell us what's going on, without needing persuasion." He looked to Melinda.
Melinda had her eyes narrowed at the woman on the bed.
"What?" both Nathaniel and Orion asked in unison.
"She looks familiar," Melinda replied. "I'm certain I've seen her before. Somewhere... I can't quite place her though."
Both Nathaniel and Orion turned to look at the woman. They all stood silent as they tried to determine if Melinda knew her. Thinking it might be more of a unconscious recognition, Nathaniel opened is spiritual eyes.
Suddenly Nathaniel's hand was on Melinda's shoulder. "It's her," he whispered, "from the
"Yes!" Melinda confirmed. Orion nodded in agreement as well, his demeanor finally shifting to something other than negative emotion. For a few moments the three were taken back, feeling like the original inexperienced, yet bound by a newfound deep friendship, trio they had been that night when she had inadvertently brought them together. Their unshakeable trust in each other had been forged that night. The pack had begun that night. Their future had been set that night. She had helped them save quite a lot. And no one had been able to save her.
"We owe her," Orion broke the silence with.
"Where has she been?" Nathaniel wondered.
Melinda's eyes darkened. She crossed her arms. "I don't like this. Not one bit."
Labels: Story, The Lost Song
In the next room, Melinda's hands balled up. Her arms started shaking under the force with which she was squeezing nothing but her own fingers into her hands. "AAAAAAAHHHHH!" she screamed in frustration.
"Melinda?" Orion called out. He ran into the room to find out what had happened. Everyone else was right behind him. "What's wrong?"
"I can't DO this anymore!" Melinda exploded, waving her arms around her head almost frantically. "It doesn't matter! How can it not matter?!" She grabbed her own head. "I can't take it!" For a moment she remained silent. But her eyes were a symphony of motion, wide and rapidly searching every possible position for some unseen answer. Finally she squeezed them closed as a look of pain crossed her face.
"Melinda? Are you alright?" someone asked.
She wheeled around to face the group. "No-o!
" she replied, drawing out the word to indicate what a stupid question that had been. She threw her hands up in the air. "No! I'm not alright! I'm completely NOT alright. How can I be alright when I can't figure this out?! I can't figure any of it out!" She took a deep breath, which calmed her down only slightly, then continued rambling. "I can't predict her. The stuff she does, it's too hard to understand. There's no telling what the results of her reaction to something will be! If I don't know what she's going to do, I can't account for it. If I can't account for it, I can't plan for it. If I can't plan for it, I can't plan for anything happening around it. Which means I can't account for anything
when she's around! UGH!" She turned back towards her table and huffed her frustration. "She's going to be the death of me," she muttered absentmindedly.
Labels: Story, The Lost Song