luckily I'm an athiest and the only way I entertain the thought of god(s) is to populate my fantasy worlds.
Chapter 3: Healing
“I’m not the one who’s so far away
When I feel the snakebite enter my veins
Never did I want to be here again
And I don’t remember why I came…”
--- Godsmack, Voodoo.
After what felt like hours in the dark, twisting tunnels of the underworld, Brian and Max reached a set of stairs leading up into the darkness.
“Up we go,” Max commented dryly.
Brian grimaced. More stairs. Wonderful. Mentally, he took an inventory of his body; the bullet wounds burned but the burning had lessened, even in the hours they had been . underground. Apparently, Brian theorized, his wolf form had an advanced immune system, which aggressively healed wounds and minimized scarring. If that was true, he wondered why Max had those scars on his snout.
His tail, while under his control also seemed to be tied to his emotions and state of mind. That idiot who had garroted him nearly broke it; that would have been peachy. He could feel the blood sticking to his fur and vaguely wondered how werewolves took showers; Max apparently had a shower but with the fur, he had no idea how that worked.
“ How you holding up?” Max asked, mounting the first step and letting Brian rest on his own two feet for a moment. Brian shrugged and immediately wished he had not; pain exploded through right shoulder; apparently, he had been hit there too. “Been worse,” he lied. “Yup. You look fine. This is becoming a habit you know.” Max commented, raising an eyebrow.
“What can I say...” Brian said, swallowing, trying to wet his throat, “ I know how to have a good time.”
“Your idea of fun is not the same as mine.” Max cracked.
“Are we almost there?” Brian asked, nodding up the stairs, his brilliant green eyes gleaming.
Nodding, Max replied, “ Yeah. We follow this straight up. Draco or Raven should be there. Ash may be there too.”
“Lead on then. I’m getting tired of spending my nights covered in blood.”
Max did not bother to reply but instead put his head and shoulders under Brian’s left arm and hoisted him back up. Grunting as his shoulder, side, and leg flared with the jostling movement, Brian steadied himself, bracing his right hand on the wall, trying as best as he could to support his own weight.
Moving up, step by painful step, the two Were’s climbed the steep staircase. It, like one before it was made of solid cement, and was old and cracked; time had not been kind to it. It was however, marginally cleaner and somewhat better maintained. Brian felt gravity shift as they neared the top and finally they came out onto a landing that was as simple as the stairs themselves.
“This is it?” Brian asked, looking around, unsure of whether to break down laughing or roll his eyes in the sheer amount of effort they expended to get there and to see nothing but a simple wooden door with no handle on this side. In the space where the handle was, there was simply a deadbolt. The deadbolt, Brian noticed was impressive; it was no off the shelf model; it looked like military grade hardware and was not old but rather all too new. It would take a hell of a blow to even scratch it let alone break it open.
He then gave the door a second look; the hinges were heavy steel, double plated flat black monsters. He reached out and touched the wood. Cold steel cooled his fingertips, even through the fur. A steel plated door?
“Max who are these people?” He said, a hint of nervousness rising in his voice.
Max extricated himself from under Brian’s arm and made sure Brian could stand on his own. “Friends.”
“What kind of friends?”
Max glared at him. “ Good friends.”
With that, Max reached up and hit the door with a closed fist three times; the blows were solid, loud and evenly spaced. The door did not flinch but dust did fall from the ceiling.
For what seemed like an eternity, Max and Brian stood there in the dark, their eyes glowing; not a word passed between them. Beginning to wonder what they had to do next, Brian was about to ask when a voice cut him off.
It was quiet, hushed due to the insulating effect of the door, muted but clear. Brian’s ears perked forward. The voice was also British, Cockney if anything and he could almost swear, female.
“Who in the bloody hell is it?” the voice asked.
Max grinned. “ It’s me…and company.” His voice was gruff and low compared to the female on the other side of the door.
Recognition in the voice when it spoke next. “Max? Hold on a tic…”
Light and quick footfalls left the door and in a few moments, they returned. Brian heard the distinct jangling of keys. Seconds later the dead bolt click and clacked as a key was rammed home and with a clacking of tumblers, it slid back, opening. The door opened and Brian felt his eyes shift, with an electric warmth flooding them, and the colors changed instantly as warm light flooded the landing. For a moment he was blinded, squinting, and then his vision focused and there beyond the door he saw dark wood paneling, rich mahogany, with golden three tiered wall sconces with flame shaped bulbs casting an amber glow.
Brian then saw who had opened the door and for a moment, he could not breathe because it was almost as if an angel had decided to step down from heaven itself.
It was a female, a Were, fully shifted. She was just less than five feet nine; she would have probably came up to his chin, standing full erect. Her fur was an arctic white and was as a smooth and soft as silk. Her voice was almost like a spring breeze and was warm and welcoming, open like nothing he heard before. Her face, like Max’s, was a wolf’s, with a long graceful muzzle and a black tipped nose. Her eyes were a shade of amber gold, like liquid bronze and she had long hair in addition to her fur that was as white as the rest of her fur that she had tied back out of her face with a simple brown scrunchie.
Her tail was bushy and came down to near her ankles, Brian took in, unable to help himself, his eyes taking her in. She was dressed in a simple pair of cargo pants that were khaki colored with numerous pockets lining the sides. She unlike Max, wore shoes. The white of her socks was nearly lost against the radiance of her fur and her shoes were black trainers. Her shirt was a white t-shirt with short blue sleeves and it was tucked into her pants, which were held up by a brown belt.
“What have you dragged in, now?” she asked, getting closer to Brian to look him over. She smelled like cinnamon and apples.
“A friend. He’s hurt. Gunshot wounds.” Max indicated the gashes the bullets had torn, not that the woman needed directing to them. “Do you mind?” the female Were asked Brian, nodding towards his wounds. Brian didn’t say anything but gave her a quick head shake, affirming it was ok.
“Was it Hell’s Gate again?” she asked, a dark look shadowing her beautiful features as she examined his shoulder wound, her finger-pads hot against his flesh and fur. Her touch was electric, Brian noticed and he decided quickly, he did not mind. Max nodded, shifting his hold on Brian. “I didn’t get a good look at what he left of them, but looked like them.” The female raised an eyebrow. “ Left of them?”
Max grunted. “There wasn’t much left to examine.”
“Ah. He left them in a fairly bad state then, eh?”
“Dead. Except for a few of them.” Max added.
Scowling, the female continued, moving over to his left side, just beneath Brian’s armpit. “Move it. You’re blocking the light.” She ordered. Max shifted out of her way and Brian supported himself on the wall, holding himself up with his right hand held out on the doorframe. “They got you good, old boy.” She commented, brushing her graceful hands against the lay of Brian’s fur, sending that electric thrill though him again.
Standing straight, she moved down to his right leg. Brian looked to his left, over at Max and raised an eyebrow as the female brushed the fur back and up, revealing the ugly looking wound the bullet had left. “Brian, this is Raven. Raven, Brian Dorcy.”
Raven looked up from her examination. “ Raven Jones. Cheers.”
Satisfied and careful not to touch the wounds themselves, she stood up straight and crossed her arms across her chest. “ Well, I’ll have to say you made yourself a regular shooting board. Nothing we can’t fix but it will be a bit of nastiness I’m afraid.”
Brian finally spoke, hoping he did not sound as bad as he thought he did.
“When I got stabbed, the wound healed overnight with just a scar…..wont these to the same?” He grimaced as he tried to stand up on his own without leaning on the doorframe.
Bad idea. He quickly braced himself again. “No, the lead prevents your immune system from cleansing itself.” Raven informed him.
Her eyebrows going up, she looked at Max. “Stabbed? Just what the hell has been going on with you two?”
“Long story. Let’s get him cleaned and patched up first. Then we can talk.” Max said.
Raven motioned them to follow her. “Upstairs. The guest rooms. I need to get a few things so we can get those out.”
“Come on.” Max moved and once again Brian found himself being led up a set of stairs, the hardwood floors beneath his feet pads slick as glass and well polished.
“Great…more trouble.” He said under his breath, limping along beside Max, following Raven up and into what he didn’t know other than it more than likely was going to be painful; Brian vaguely wondered if there was some part of being a Were that didn’t hurt.
With this run of luck, he was unlikely to ever figure out.
Last edited by ShadowWolf2010 (2010-04-11 22:23:31)
I'm interested to see how Brian reacts to his transformation now that he'll actually have time to think things over. As well as how the others act towards him knowing that he just became a were. Also it isn't clear what makes someone a "first generation" were (unless I missed it) and thus it isn't clear whether Brian will change back either.
By the way your mechanics were significantly better in this part and the flow of the story benefits.
As for the mechanics of what makes a first or second generation Were, it was briefly touched on in the first part of the story however it wasn't very clear because we saw the explanation through Brian's eyes and thoughts and memories from what little he knew from watching the news. I do hope to clarify that through some exposition in the next few parts.
Again, thanks for the feedback; it is greatly appreciated and helps keep me on track.
One other thing I noticed you may want to watch is that you tend to use a variation of the same word or phrase twice in a sentence to describe two different things. Where it would work better to either use a synonymous word/phrase or to apply the description to both objects together rather than describing each separately. It's not a huge issue but one should be aware of ones own habits.
I just realized after reading back through that we don't yet know for certain what brings on the transformation. There was some allusion to the full moon but it was vague and told through Brian's experience so I'm interested to know if that actually is the catalyst for transformation, or just his perception, as well as whether he can transform at will. On that note I also found that you, in fact, did reveal, through Max, that Brian will be able to shift; without actually stating what makes one a first generation were (translation: I like other writers who regulate the information the reader is given in a way that enhances the story).
By the way, since I see a lot of potential in your writing, I've found a great way to improve my own writing is to read as much as I can from many different forms of literature (eg. novels, poems, pros, exposition, articles, etc) and consider it as I write. Not that I read 24/7, far from it, but I in fact learned to write largely by reading and have continually found it to be the best way to learn. Of course you could already be a well rounded reader, in which case I'm preaching to the quire here, but I may as well put it out there.
One final note, which I forgot to say before; I really like how your main character reacts to his situation. It feels more like something I might expect a real person to do with so much thrown at them at once. More specifically, the relatively passive role that Brian has recently assumed in respect to his own life as well as the interspersed, and opposing, moments of extreme passion and acceptance of present circumstances (if this needs un-wordifying please tell me) feel very natural for someone who has yet to come to terms with a huge change in their life.
Just reread a portion of this from Brian's transformation and really enjoyed it. One thing that might be cool to add to the transformation is the ripping of Brian's leather jacket. It has obvious sentimental value to him and could add some additional emotion to the scene.
Hey Shadow! Just wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about reading your story. I've been real busy. I copied and pasted what I haven't read to an email and sent it to myself at work so I can get caught up. I'll make a more informed reply afterward.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-02-10 06:20:48)
the legal system.
Heya! I'm sorry for not posting sooner. I just got caught up last night while I was at work. As always you additions to the story are of a perfect length where they develop more of the story to give us enough of a feel that things are advancing and we learn a little bit more of your world and characters. You have fantastic development and I absolutely admire the apparent forethought to the overall outline to the whole story.
I also love your attention to detail, and the way you convey the information Brian's enhanced senses pick up.
By the way have you seen any of the X-men cartoons of "Wolverine and the X-men"? In it they show Wolverine using his heightened senses, in particularly, his sense of smell, and they demonstrate what he picks up by showing ghostly images of other people and events that have happened in the recent past. I just thought that was a rather awesome way to visually show enhanced senses working. It also kind of reminded me of how you've described in your story how scents have memories.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2010-02-12 09:24:08)
Ahh...Scent memories. I really haven't expanded on those too much but scents carry much more than memories. Older more experienced Were's may be able to use that information to their advantage. What did you think about Raven?
“Winter has come too late.
Too close beside me.
How can I chase away
all these fears deep inside?...”
Following Raven up the stairs and through a door leaning on Max for support, Brian emerged, much to his surprise, into a large pub. The décor here was much richer than what he had seen in the lower corridors. Everything was made of rich dark wood, with a tasteful European flair. A stage took up a large section of the back of the main room, and many, many tables and chairs were set up in front of it. A short set of stairs led up to the stage itself. Now, there was nothing on the stage but a collection of black and silver equipment cases. With every breath he took, Brian smelled old cigars and cigarette smoke, with the pleasant scent of well-aged brandy and beer.
The stage lights were dark and lining the ceiling above were more stage lights and Klieg spots. A heavy velvet curtain was pulled back and open and from behind it, came another Were, this one slightly shorter than Brian, but not by much. He had silvery gray fur that was marked with odd tiger strip black markings that formed, Brian supposed tattoos. He, like Max and himself, was shirtless. He wore an old baggy pair of jeans sagged around his waist, showing the waistband of his boxers. Brian hated that style, like his mother and found it to be irritating. Based on the numerous piercing the Were had in his ears, the tattoos and the saggy pants, Brian guessed he was a rocker. The Were had longish hair on top of his fur that hung down in front of his face and over his snout.
In his arms, the Were carried two large equipment cases that probably weighed together well over one hundred and fifty pounds. With a thud, he set them down next to the others and looked out at the new comers. He raised an eyebrow looking at Brian’s blood covered self.
“What the hell happened, Raven?”
Raven ignored him and shifted to the left to get around a table and chair. She didn’t even look up at him. “Hell’s Gate. Apparently, they are stepping up their attacks. Ash, is Drako here?”
“Hey Max,” Ash addressed his old friend. He straightened up and hitched his pants up. “No. He went over to Ero’s for something. You know how he is. Never around when you need him. The med center is clear though.”
“Thanks, Ash.” Raven said, looking around to Max and Brian. “Bring him to the med room. You know where that is, I trust?” she grinned.
Max quipped “ As much as I have been patched up there, I should. It’s my second home.”
“Isn’t that the truth. My week isn’t complete unless I’ve pulled a few bullets out of you.” Raven laughed. Ash went back to behind the curtains, most likely to finish unloading his equipment, whatever it was.
“Ash is a singer…he is our main entertainment. He and his band have a show tonight. “ Raven explained.
They cleared the audience seating area and entered the bar proper; looking around him, Brian was yet again taken aback; someone had some money that much was clear. The bar was an old one with hand carved wooden engravings, polished to a loving shine. A few booths lined the four plate glass windows that were on this side of the bar. In the windows hung neon signs, now dark, each carrying the name of a popular brand of beer. Brian saw Budweiser, Michelob and the remaining two Brian did not see.
“Through here.” Raven led the two Were’s behind the bar, lifting up the partition door and deftly opening a hidden door in the wall to the left of the taps. After they were both through, she shut the door from the inside. The hallway here was longer than Brian would have expected. It was lit by lights hidden behind ceiling runners, which gave off a warm and inviting amber glow. On either side of the hallway, there were doors; the walls and the doors here were a lighter wood (maple his nose told him); they reminded him of hotel doors. Max saw him looking and moved his mouth slightly so that he would not be talking directly into Brian’s left ear.
“Drako built this addition to help people that needed it...people like us. As Were’s became more and more common, and more and more began coming out…groups like Hell’s Gate sprang up. Hate groups.” Max said, shifting his grip on Brian because his shoulder was getting tired. Brian’s own shoulder flared. He gasped at the sudden shock of the pain he had nearly forgotten as it had dulled to a persistent but tolerable ache. Max took a note.
“Don’t worry about it. I think I’m getting used to being shot by now.”
Raven walked briskly ahead and Brian decided he liked the way she walked. Shaking his head he realized he was staring and decided not to.
“ Yes, he did.” Raven pitched in. “He also built one of the few existing medical treatment rooms that can handle both shifters, like yourself and full generation werewolves, like our mutual friend, Mr. Mullen, who has made use of our little facility more times than I can count because he insists on a foolish crusade to save people who want nothing to do with him.”
“Hey,” Max said, looking at the back of her head as she never once turned around to look at him but rather continued walking past six more doors, three on each side, “at least we are trying to make a difference.”
Raven stopped at the last door on the left. It was different from all the other doors in that was it was solid steel and appeared to be a sliding door. Set into the wood on the left hand side of the door was a key pad and a card swipe unit. Raven paused for a moment and looked up at Max and for a moment, her face was not joking and her violet eyes were deadly serious. Max returned her gaze and for that brief few seconds, Brian had the distinct impression that something unspoken was being passed between them; not in words or even thoughts but something…he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Rather than elaborating, Raven reached into her back pocket and pulled out what looked like a white key card with a simple magnetic strip down the back. Without a word, she swiped the card once and quickly entered a four digit code with her delicate and soft hands, the amber glow of the lights casting an orange tint to the tips of her arctic fur, making her seem as if the tips of her fur were on fire.
With a single electronic tone, the display on the card reader turned from red to green and the doors slid open with a hiss of hydraulics. As they opened, Brian saw how thick the doors really were. Nothing short of a tank shell would have broken them.
Raven stepped inside and smoothly, with practiced ease, she flipped a switch. Instantly florescent lights flooded on with a flicker and then when they steadied, the room was bathed in a surgical white light that to Brian’s new vision, made everything extremely sharp and defined.
Revealed now in the light, Brian saw a medical bay, a fully equipped surgical and treatment room that was the size of four standard hotel rooms. Five beds lined one wall while a surgical theater lined the rear wall. White tile replaced wooden floors and walls and to the immediate left of the entrance, Brian saw a locked dispensary, filled with medications, drugs, syringes, gauzes, disinfectants and God knew what else. Next to the dispensary, which was the size of a large refrigerator and was made of steel and glass, sealed with an electronic lock and padlock, were counters and cabinets, all locked made of polished stainless steel and chrome. A large sink and sterilizer unit took up on side of the counters.
Further back, next to the surgical theater was a lab area with blood analysis machines, centrifuges, computers and what looked like a gene sequencer and microscopes.
Strange, Brian thought.
“There.” Raven said, pointing at the bed nearest the dispensary and cabinets.
Max helped Brian up and onto the bed and made sure he could sit on his own and then moved out of Raven’s way. She did not like distractions while she worked. She moved across the room into the surgical theatre. She unlocked several cabinets and dragged a metal surgical table on wheel over to her.
“So…where is the doctor?” Brian said nervously eyeing the tools that Raven had began to pile onto the surgical table; forceps, scalpels, a shallow metal pan, a container of what looked like anti-septic. He also noticed her take out a large needle and a small vial in a brown glass container. She also put down several packs of gauze and gauze tape.
His ears perked forward involuntarily as she came closer and then fell back against his head as he realized what was about to happen. Once again he was going to be cut on.
Positioning the tray next to the bed, she took the brown ampoule and double checked the label and at the same time picked up the syringe.
“ I am. Dr. Raven Kimberly Jones at your disposal. I got my degree on the advanced path before I found out I was…well…you can see. The hospital I was interning at threw me out shortly before I came here…they weren’t tolerant.” She snapped on a pair of nitrile gloves, the blue of the material sharply contrasting with her white fur.
Brian nodded. He was quickly getting familiar of the human condition and especially of its intolerance. “I’m sorry.”
“For what? Their loss as far as I’m concerned, “ she said, uncapping the needle and sticking it into the stopper of the glass bottle. She drew out what looked to be a large quantity of the liquid into the syringe, carefully eyeing the dosage. She glanced over at Brian and he felt her violet eyes roaming his body quickly. He felt his heart quicken a few beats. “How much do you weigh shifted?" She asked clinically.
The question caught him off guard. He stammered. “ I, uh, don’t know. This is my first night…like this. It wasn’t exactly a choice.”
Raven raised her eyebrows and looked at Max questioningly.
Max gave her a look that said simply, Later.
“Well as an educated guess I would place you somewhere in the three fifties. You don’t have as much muscle mass as Max and your not as old as Drako so with your height at around what, six six or six seven…probably. This will do.”
She double checked her syringe and laid it down carefully on the table.
“Arm please.” When Brian did not move, she moved for him, gently, yet firmly taking his left arm just above his elbow and held it steady with her left hand while her right hand reached for the packet of alcohol swabs. Using a claw, she slit the top of the packet and had the swab out. “This way please.” She turned his arm over, exposing the underside of his forearm and bicep. She felt gingerly with two fingers, brushing back his fur again, sending that same electric feeling through him. He tried to remain focused on what she was doing. She felt around the brachial artery and found what she was looking for.
“Aha. You are easier to find veins in then Max. You don’t cringe as much either.” She quipped, grinning at her friend who had crossed his arms. Max scowled.
“Well if I wasn’t being handled by such inept medical care, I wouldn’t cringe. That’s why I pull most of my own bullets out.”
“Oh rubbish. You and your technical jargon. And you shouldn’t be doing that. It’s unhealthy.” Raven smiled and turned back to her patient. “Sorry. one may sting a bit.” Without further ado, she plunged the needle down quick and smooth, landing it home correctly the first time.
Brian felt the prick of the needle but it was nothing compared to what happened next.
As Raven injected the drug, he felt the liquid begin to burn in his veins and soon it spread through his arm and body like fire. As soon as she had the needle clear of his arm, Brian pulled it back from her. “ What the name of Christ is that stuff…” he grimaced.
Raven looked at him from over her shoulder as she disposed of the capped syringe in the SHARPS container. “It’s a new sedative called lycanoxazine. Normal sedatives and painkillers do not work on us because of our immune system. It neutralizes them on contact before they ever have the chance to take effect. It was created by Dr. Madison.”
Brian heard the distaste in her tone when she said the name.
“ I’ve heard of him. On the news.”
“You should have. He’s all over the news constantly as a great hero who is working to cure full generation and shifter lycanthropy. He fancies himself as a crusader. Takes in Were’s who volunteer to be his guinea pigs.”
“I call bullshit. Something smells about him and it’s not his press appearances.” Max added, leaning against a counter on the wall to the left, his arms across his powerful chest. “Agreed.” Raven said.
Brian felt the burning in his veins subside to a dull warmth and he felt his eyelids grow heavy. He felt heavier than normal and strangely, sleepy. The bullet wounds didn’t hurt as bad all of a sudden and he realized the drug he had been given was taking effect with shocking speed.
“Yes it works fast. Good thing too as we need to get those out to prevent you from getting lead poisoning. It wouldn’t kill you but it would make you wish you could die.”
“Do your damndest I guess. At least you are going to try to help me not kill me.”
“At least until you give me a reason.” Raven cracked and moved forward.
Brian felt her hands on his chest, hot and soft through his fur and with a surprising strength, she gently laid him back on the exam table. He found himself unable to resist even if he wanted to, which he didn’t. Once she had him on his back, she took to her task like an expert surgeon, moving methodically, her hands moving quickly and with precise purpose. She cleaned the wound on his shoulders first, the left and the right, swabbing each with alcohol and generous dose of antiseptic, the acrid chemical twinge burning his nose.
“This is not going to be fun and I’m sorry…” Raven said, pausing with a pair of forceps and a scalpel above his left shoulder, pausing, the instruments just above his flesh. Brian noticed that he was muzzle to muzzle with her and her cinnamon scent was overpowering and he almost drowned in her violet eyes. “I can take it.”
Taking a breath, he had to bare his teeth, clenching them together, his ears pinned back against his head as the scalpel bit down, the razor blade cutting swiftly, sharply, the hot pain flaring through his arm, neck and throat. He wanted to cry out as the steel entered his body but he did not, swallowing it down, trying to keep as still as he could to avoid making her make a mistake, his pain only coming out as a low growl.
“Sorry…” Raven said and then more pain as the forceps went in, digging into muscle and tendon and finally, they came back out and he heard the heavy clanking of lead being dropped onto metal as Raven dropped the spent round that hit him in the left shoulder into the metal bowl. He saw blood covering it, and moved his head back, up out of the way as Raven moved to the next shoulder, and repeated the process.
Finally, she had cleared the last round out of his leg and went about dressing his wounds in clean gauze and bandages. After making sure he was fully patched and Brian saracastically thought that is exactly what he looked like, a patched bipedal wolf, Raven pulled off the gloves and disposed of them.
She went back to the surgical tray and examined the rounds.
“Four rounds…looks like .45 slugs by the size of them. Maybe a nine millimeter.”
“ I take it that’s a bad thing?” Brian asked drowsily, the pain subsiding further now that the bullets themselves were out and he wasn’t being used as cutting board. The sedative was now in full swing. He could barely keep his eyes open.
“Actually fifty caliber was the worst I’ve had to pull out. Some fool had a Desert Eagle on him and tried to gun down two teenage shifters over on Tenth Avenue last October. Max here decided that the gentleman needed a lesson in manners.”
“Least I’m not the only one getting shot up.”
“I believe I still have the scars.” Max said, shooting Raven a crooked grin.
“ Liar. Those would have healed within a week.” Raven caught Brian looking at Max with a raised eyebrow. “Oh don’t let him fool you. He was like a baby on that table. Made the worst racket I’ve ever seen.” She finished, putting away her tools and placing the used ones into the chemical sanitizer.
“Well before we get into any more war stories, I think we need to get him somewhere that isn’t a hospital bed.”
“I can—“ Max began.
“No. You go help Ash. I’m sure you two will have plenty of hell to catch up on. I want to talk to Brian alone for a few minutes and I’m perfectly capable of helping him get settled in. Shoo.”
She said, showing Max the door.
Knowing it would be pointless to argue, Max took the cue and left.
Raven moved over to Brian and double checked his dressings.
“Think you can make it across the hall for me?” she asked him, her tone much less professional now, and more personable, warmer.
Nodding, Brian sat up and wish he hadn’t. The drug was making him light headed.
“Aye. Watch it now. That stuff is powerful. Leg up.” She said, guiding him to the edge of the bed.
Brian stood up, shakily on his own two legs and for a moment steadied himself as the world around him began to swim.
“Right then, this way. We’ll put you in the room across the hall. Short walk.”
Leaving the medical room behind, Brian followed Raven, who kept an arm around his elbow the whole time, across the hall and to one of the wooden doors. She opened it and entered, leaving Brian standing in the doorway.
He watched and in the dark he could see her strange but beautiful eyes turn the strangest shade of electric blue, glowing softly.
A click as she turned on the lamp and the room flooded with low amber lighting from a bedside light on the night stand next to a full size bed that was against the right wall.
The room itself was simple, again, with deep wood being the predominate material and paintings of the English country side lining the walls. A small dresser sat at the foot of the bed next to the door and a bathroom and shower was off to the left in a smaller room.
The bed itself was dressed with what Brian thought was an antique comforter and blankets. He could tell that even as old as they appeared, they were well taken care of.
“This is my favorite of the rooms. It reminds me of home.” Raven said, turning around and drawing down the blankets on the bed. “Here you go. You can rest in here for a while. You’ll be out for at least a day with that sedative. The good news is your bullet wounds will be completely healed by in the morning. They may bruise but that won’t last long.”
“Beats the couch at Max’s place.” He tried to be funny and realized it wasn’t working with him drugged up
“I imagine it would be.” Raven replied. Brian entered the room and sat down on the bed, and came to understand that trying to resist the drug was going to be pointless. He smelled fresh linen and the flowery scent of laundry detergent. The sheets were soft and clean, and as he laid back, found much to his pleasant surprise the pillows were thick and soft.
Raven helped him get his injured leg up onto the bed.
“Ow…damn that stings.” He said, grimacing. “ Sorry.” She said.
“Don’t be.” Brian swallowed.
Raven quickly made sure he was settled and sat down on the bed next to him. There were no windows so once the light was out, it would be totally dark which was fine with
He had no desire to see the sun at present anyway.
He found himself drifting off and there were questions he wanted to ask, to understand but right now he couldn’t think of them, couldn’t make them come out.
Raven looked at him and he found himself unable to look away from her.
“ Brian…what happened? You weren’t born this way, were you? I can tell.”
Brian blinked slowly. That was a question…answer it…
“No..” he heard himself whisper.
“How did you get like this? How did you become a shifter?”
That question brought up flashes from the night before. Things he’d rather let go of, things he was trying to let go of. He tried to answer her through the thickening veil of the tranquilizer.
“There were…these men…tried to rob me…One of them…stabbed me.”
His left hand moved up towards his side involuntarily. Raven did not miss the movement, despite how small it was. She lifted her right hand and brushed back the fur on his left side, starting at just above his navel and up his side. The long scar was still there, hidden but a permanent reminder.
“Is this the scar?” she asked.
“Brian, big knife is an understatement. You should have died. This wound alone is enough to have killed you.”
Raven though she knew the answer and she didn’t like where it was going.
“Max …he came and killed them…then he…saved my life.”
Raven swallowed. So it was true then.
“He turned you? How?” she probed.
“Bit me…” Brian replied, his eyes now closed, his voice barely a whisper as he lost the fight against the drug.
Outside the room, Max listened, careful not to let himself be heard or seen, his ears perked forward, his breathing slow and controlled.
Despite everything they had been through in the last forty eight hours, he still wondered if he had done the right thing, if he had the right to take this man’s life from him.
“So that is where that bruise came from on your shoulder. It was always rumored that a Were could turn another, who is not a Were by a bite. Recent studies have shown though, “she said, looking him in the face as he struggled to open his eyes, “ that it isn’t the bite itself but rather an enzyme in the saliva that activates dormant shifter or full generation traits, essentially re-writing your DNA.”
“Ouch…” Brian tried to joke.
“It’s not a joke, Brian. Turning a person is a serious issue. Its frowned upon as brutal and cruel by most.”
“ He saved my life, Raven. I would have died if he hadn’t.”
“Yes…I know. I’m concerned though. No real studies have ever been done on humans turned to Were by bite transmission. The side effects, besides the obvious, aren’t known. Most Were’s are natural Were’s.”
Brian didn’t say anything to this. He couldn’t really think of a counter point to hers. “ Does it always hurt?” he asked, forcing his eyes open again.
“What, the shifting? No. It doesn’t, at least for natural Were’s. You were not born a Were, Brian but made one so your body was not prepared for the sheer shock of the change. Now that it has completed the first change, shifting back and forth should simply be a matter of control and focus. And practice. You should shift back naturally by morning.” Raven informed him.
Out in the hall, Max was about to move away when Brian’s next question stopped him.
“Max…he’s good guy, isn’t he? What happened to him?”
Raven paused. That was a difficult question to answer. She of course, knew the story.
Max had taken her aside one evening when he was in a bout of depression, a sore sight to see in him, as he rarely displayed his emotions openly. He had been in violent temper that night, three years ago. The news had just played a news report on the Congressional hearing into the anti-Were laws and there had been a particularly nasty debate on the inherent violence and danger Were’s presented to humanity.
It was also the anniversary of his parent’s deaths. He never had a good day when that time came. It was always difficult for him. He had been very close to his family.
He had told her how they died, and she did not know what else to do but hold him as he cried in her arms that night, his hands and knuckles bleeding from punching the brick walls of the back of the building, trying to take out his aggression on something, to escape the pain he felt and could never separate himself from.
Raven decided that was not her story to tell.
“ Yes, he is. Max…has had a rough life…very rough, probably harder than most of us deserve. Maybe he will tell you what happened one day....”
Brian was about to ask again but she cut him off.
“No, you need to get some rest.” She stood up abruptly and snapped off the light, throwing the room into blackness. Her eyes lit up in that beautiful hypnotic blue light and his did as well, yellow green, their glow somewhat less due to the drugs.
Max turned and left before Raven left the room, vanishing out of the hallway and through the doorway back into the pub.
Raven stood in the doorway and made to close the door. “Rest well, Brian. When Drako gets here later tonight, he can answer more for you than I can. I promise.”
With that, she closed the door gently and Brian listened to her footfalls grow quieter and quieter as receded down the hallway and finally he could no longer hear them.
Brian finally gave up and sank back into a dreamless slumber, away from the world in the peaceful darkness where it was only him and a numb unfeeling silence where no nightmares or dreams would tread and sleep took him.
For the first time in two days, he welcomed it and found a greater peace in him than he had known before, a comforting acceptance that life was going to go on, and he would be along for the ride, no matter where it took him.
nice job keep it coming
I'll comment, barring grammatical errors, do what I did, get a Thesaurus. It helped me greatly, I still to this day practice the learn a new word for an old one every day thing. Anyways, your doing good, I haven't read anything within this "universe besides this yet but "Brian" needs a better establishment to help the reader understand his change from human to were. It's always good to understand one life shattered for another one found. You can do that in a pre post manner OR through the cliche' flashbacks and dreams. Either way, he needs more establishment, moreover the universe itself needs better establishment both environmentally and politically. It is good to know what these guys are dealing with and this last chapter spoke quite a bit for that. Anyways, your doing great man, keep it up, look forward to reading the next.
thanks for the feedback! Actually development and establishment are in the next few bits. I wanted the first bits to be chaotic as if you had just been thrown into it headfirst with no direction. The next part will hopefully give a bit more about each of the characters introduced thus far, plus two new ones that are going to be showing up and definitely going to examine the political atmosphere too as thats the driving force really so far. I'll definitely take it into account! thanks!
good deal then, carry on!
Another fine addition! I'm still very much enjoying this story, and the way you write it makes it easy and comfortable to read. Your imagery and description continue to captivate and pull the reader into your world.
I like the way you described Raven. Her white fur suits her well considering her talent as doctor/healer. Her description was very well done too. I felt like it was easy for me to imagine the texture of her fur, especially since I have a few pets with fur like that.
There doesn't have to be, but I wonder if there is going to be some kind of romantic element between Brian and Raven. If there is, cool. If you're not sure then don't force it. It's not necessary, but most great tales often have to some degree a little romance thrown in with the story.
I want to comment some more but my time is limited at the moment. If you have any questions in particular, or points of concern regarding your story, you can post them the way I do. Then this way I can give you more focused feedback, and maybe help to answer more specific things.
Thanks again for writing this. It's a great read so far!
In darkness deeply he dwelt. Around him, there was nothing; not air, not sky, not ground nor even light. For what felt like an eternity, he just stood there, unable to move and finally, he saw it; a faint light from the farthest corner of the void. It pulsated and shone as brilliant as the sun. Moving towards it, Brian felt his feet, heavy at first and then lighter, lift and move with his legs and at last, he was not tethered to the invisible leash that held him, and he moved into the light.
He looked at it now that he was closer to it. At such a close range, he saw it was like a miniature sun, radiant in its power and yet, he felt no warmth or heat from it at all. It was the size of a marble, white and blue and shimmering with Stretching out his fingers, which he could not see, he touched the light and the world around him exploded in diamond faceted colors, blinding him, throwing the darkness aside like an old blanket. Shielding his eyes, Brian threw up his forearm over his face and then the light died away, like a crumbling leaf that has over stayed its welcome on the oldest trees.
Lowering his arm, Brian looked out and felt a warm breeze on his skin. Looking down, he saw that was human again, dressed in his favorite pair of old jeans, his scuffed up shoes and his favorite shirt. He felt the cool the leather of his old leather jacket, the one that his father had given to him before that day.
He felt his face break out into a smile and looking around him, he saw that he was outside, on a highway in the desert. Puzzled he turned around, to the left and the right, seeing nothing but a dead, empty four-lane highway; its pavement was dry and cracked, with weeds poking up through it, refusing to die. His smile faded as his eyes adjusted farther and saw dark hulking shapes on the highway, sitting eerily still, like dead corpses left long forgotten.
The highway curved up and away but the stretch where he was perfectly flat, the yellow divider lines faded to a chalky white and the rounded bits of the pavement broken and cracked. To the left of the highway, a large hill rose up into the sky before rounding itself off; it was covered in dry scrub brush and desert flora; the grass on it was dead, an ugly crisp brown. To the right a smaller hill followed the highway and looked similar with its vegetation dehydrated and long past life. The divider wall that separated the ongoing and coming sides of the highway was broken too; crumbling like old bones.
Brian felt the sun beat down on the back of his neck and he blew strand of his messy dark hair out of his face. A hot wind blew from behind and seemed to push his legs forward. He did not want to move forward.
He knew what the dark hulking shapes were.
They were cars, all abandoned, yet oddly, not derelict. One was a small two door coupe; it looked like a Pinto with its hatchback crushed in from an impact that nearly bent the whole rear end of the car up into the front seats; this car was charred, burned out and blackened, like burned bone. He could smell the burning gasoline even now.
It stung his eyes and made the back of his throat itch.
A deep unease began to come over him as he stepped forward, moving past the Pinto. The next car he came to was a four dour sedan. It was beige, with a dark door runner trim. The front end of the car had spun nearly all the way around to face the opposite direction. It was mangled beyond any recognition. The engine had ended up in the driver’s lap and the windshield lay all over the pavement, along with pieces of piping, engine parts, spilt oil and broken glass.
Brian felt the bits grinding under his shoes but he never looked down.
In the back of the brown sedan’s passenger cabin was a toddler’s car seat; it had slung across the seats, where it lay sideways, ripped from its seatbelt from the sheer force of the collision. Its bright flowery fabric was painted in blood and somewhere, a baby began to scream, but there was no baby in sight; the cry was piercing, wailing, never to be comforted or eased.
Brian’s initial joy at finding himself human again was now completely gone as he saw the third and final car. This car he knew; in fact, he knew all of these cars. This cannot happen again…
It was a 1997 Nissan Altima, its paint was once a glossy black with silver trim. Now, it was charred and scuffed, dinged and scratched as if it had been placed inside a giant machine that tore the car apart.
The baby kept screaming.
Sirens began to howl as a red fire truck, a Los Angles first responder, seemed to appear from behind the ruined Altima. Its red paint and gold lettering clashing with the scene of carnage here before him. The sky above him grew black and the wind turned cold as the sun went out and a cold pelting rain began to fall. Night seemed to fall instantly and Brian found that he was without his new vision, the strange blue tint that he had nearly become accustomed to was gone; he had regular human eyes now.
Unable to help himself, unable to stop, unable to do anything but move forward, Brian got closer to the Altima, and each step he took, the destruction that had been wrought upon the car became horribly clear, although Brian did not need to see it again, as the memories were burned into his mind as clear as if they had been cut into stone.
The driver’s side of the Altima was completely crushed inward and brown paint scrapes lined the flattened door panels where the brown sedan had spun out of control and slammed broadside into the Altima dead center into the driver’s door.
The front driver’s tire stuck out at an odd angle and the hood, where the Pinto had struck, was mashed up and over the roof of the car. The bumper of the Altima hung from its bolts like a piece of loose skin.
The baby screamed louder.
Brian felt his pulse quicken and a knot form in his throat. He knew who had been the driver of that car.
He stopped at the crumpled car’s side, and saw that no matter if the person inside wore a seatbelt or not, they were not walking away from this crash.
“No..not again…”His own voice was weak and quiet.
Lightning flared and snarled over the hill and the rain was now falling in driving sheets, just as it had that night years ago, pounding the pavement, running in rivers away down into the side gutters, like dark blood.
The driver’s seat was empty, and a dark stain ran from the headrest down the side of the seat and into the center console. The steering wheel was colored scarlet and the transmission had ripped up through the floor. The flapping seatbelt gusted in the wind of the storm, clanking loudly, like a bell tolling.
The baby kept screaming.
Lightning struck the ground next to the car; the earth shook and the sparks from the strike lit up the sky, throwing Brian back from the car, sending him crashing backward into the rain’s wash, slamming down hard on his back into the glass and metal parts, back onto the bloodstained pavement.
The thunder clap deafened him and the breath was driven from him. He felt his jacket rip and tear apart; he felt the memories rip inside him, like a dam bursting.
Within seconds, he felt a hot wave run up and down his body with a paralyzing electric shudder, he found himself fully shifted into his new wolf form, his fur jet black and his eyes blazing green. His shirt had ripped away with jacket from the force of the blow and the sudden increase in body size; his fur took the water like a duck’s feathers. He forced himself to his feet, the rain pelting him through his fur, reaching his skin beneath and stinging wildly.
The car burst into flames with a whoomph that threatened to knock him backward again. Steadying himself, Brian’s glowing eyes could now see in the dark, the familiar and somewhat comforting blue night vision had returned.
So had his other senses.
He smelled him first and then he heard his voice, a sound that he had not heard in ten years.
Brian felt his blood run cold and his wolfen ears perked forward and turning, he saw someone he had never again expected to see in his life, someone that was taken long ago.
He felt his limbs begin to shake and his heart pound as the man who gave him life stepped out of the storm, seemingly untouched by the rain. He was the same tall stocky man Brian had remembered from when he was thirteen. He had the same messy black hair Brian and the same strange hazel amber eyes. His face was that of his grandfather’s, strong jawed, and always with a hint of beard on it but always clean and neat.
He was dressed the same way Brian remembered seeing him that last day his father had been alive; an old red and white flannel shirt, his favorite old belt and a pair of well worn dungarees with his trusty boots which his father swore by and never wanted to give up, despite the fact that his mother had nagged him endlessly to get rid of.
His face and skin were weathered from the days out in the California sun; they had a ranch when he was younger. His father and he had spent hours together out on the dry and dusty California plains, tending to the few cattle his family had been able to scrimp together. His father never considered a day done until he was exhausted.
Even if he had been exhausted, Brian remembered, his father had always made time for him and his mother.
“Dad…no…it can’t be.”
His father looked at him and laughed. Brian had not heard that wonderful sound in ages.
“Why not, son? Didn’t I always tell you to keep an open mind? Your mother thought I was a dreamer.”
Brian stammered unable to say anything, his emotions threatening to take him over completely as the sorrow and the longing for his father came back, along with the terrible and deep stabbing guilt he had. It had been Brian’s birthday and his father was heading into to town to pick up his present, something he had made especially for Brian’s thirteenth birthday, something he refused to have at the house because he knew Brian wouldn’t be able to resist looking for it. His mother had been in on it as well and Brian remembered her being tight lipped about the whole affair, playfully teasing him with dropped hints for weeks before the day.
Brian had wanted badly to go with his father into town that day, but his father told him to stay home, despite the pleading and the begging to go along, with all the excitement a teenager can muster.
“How have you been, son?” his father stopped in front of him, the rain pouring, drenching all but his father as Brian finally collapsed onto his knees unable to stand any longer, the broken glass cutting through his fur and flesh, biting deep, but he did not feel it.
Frowning, his father kneeled next to him, crouching down, just like he had when Brian had wrecked the four wheeler the year before by joy riding it knowing he wasn’t supposed to.
“Thing’s have changed, haven’t they?” his father said. Trembling, Brian turned his head away from his father, his eyes downcast, rain water dripping from his muzzle.
A warm hand fell upon his shoulder. Brian opened his eyes to look at it.
His father’s broad strong palm rested there, reassuring and powerful as he had always been.
“You don’t need to afraid of me, son. I know that for you, life’s changed. You’ve changed, but damn it, you’re still my boy. Ain’t nothing gonna change that. Hear me?”
Brian made no sound as he slowly turned his head around to face his father, still keeping his eyes cast to the ground, ashamed to look his father in the face, ashamed of the beast he had become. He had let his father down that day; if he hadn’t been so selfish, so childish, his father would still alive. It was his fault he was gone, and it constantly ate him, never leaving him in peace. He had shamed his father by becoming a monster.
“Now Brian Dorcy, I want you to listen to me and listen well. Nothing you could have done that day would have stopped me from going out. You are my boy, son. Don’t think for a minute that you are the reason. You aren’t. You’ve got a new life now. You are headed for things you can’t imagine but know this..”
Brian lifted his eyes for the first time as his father’s strong hand squeezed his shoulder. “Your mother and I raised you to be strong. I need you to be strong, son. Rough times are ahead…you need your friends. You’re only a monster if you let yourself be one.”
The baby finally stopped screaming and the fire raging in the burned out husk of his father’s car died and finally faded as the world around him went dark, leaving only him and his father, alone in the stillness that was the void.
Standing, his father pulled Brian to his feet. Brian towered over his father by several inches now, his powerful form eclipsing even the powerfully built man in front of him. His fur was not wet anymore and he saw his father not through the tinted blue of his night vision, but crystal clear as if he was in the purist light he had ever seen.
“ I have to go, Son. Be strong. Be strong for me. That’s all I ask of you, my boy.”
Brian felt a rising panic as his father lowered his hand and began to step backward. His image began to flicker. No, he couldn’t leave again..
“Dad…stay with me, please…” he pleaded, and moved to reach out for him and found he couldn’t move.
“I’m always proud of you my son. Always have and always will be.”
Brian struggled against the bonds that held him, invisible and stronger than any steel.
“NO! Don’t leave me! I need you!” he cried, his voice painful in his own ears.
Brian felt a breaking pain in his chest as he wanted just a few more moments, a few moments to reclaim that which had been ripped away.
Without another word, his father was gone, vanished into the night, leaving him alone in the dark once again, just like that night thirteen years ago when the police had came knocking.
The floor dropped from beneath him and Brian felt his weight shift as he began to fall. Gravity took hold of him and yanked him down into a bottomless void. Screaming all the way down, Brian tumbled into the ether, unable to see or feel.
With a jerk, he slammed down hard and---
Brian awoke with start, sitting bolt up right in the bed he had fallen asleep in, screaming the only word he knew.
His brilliant green eyes glowed in the dark, brighter now that the effects of the sedative had almost worn off. He could see the room, empty, except for the dressers, an empty closet, the nightstand and the open bathroom door.
He looked around furtively, but there was no one but him
His father was not there.
So it had been nothing but a nightmare. Brian’s shoulder’s drooped and he realized he was still a little groggy from the medication Raven had given him. Dragging himself up into a sitting position, he put his legs on the floor and sat up on the bed side. He felt sore all over but better than he had when he first arrived. He saw that he was still shifted into his wolf form.
Raven had said he would change back in time, but he didn’t care. At this point he had given up learning control over his life. Sighing, he put his head in his hands, rubbing the spot behind his ears; that seemed to relax him, like a good shoulder massage.
Trying to clear the dream images from his mind, he found it was difficult to shake them. It was unlike any nightmare he had ever had. His father was indeed a sore spot, one that he had secretly nursed for years; his own mother had tried to get him to into therapy after the accident but he had refused, instead falling into his writing and walks alone on the ranch. That is, until the money ran out and they had to sell the place to avoid bankruptcy. To Brian, that had been the ultimate sacrilege to his father’s memory and for several years had created a rift between him and his mother, even though he knew it was only done out of necessity.
They have moved to New York shortly after, his mother renting out a tiny apartment in the Brooklyn Heights. Brian had finished school at the local high school and wanted to go into college but never had gotten up the spirit to put forth the effort. Instead, he had tried for a year or two after he graduated to sell his writing but the sales never materialized. Frowning, he remembered working the odd jobs to help support his mother who had developed lung cancer from all the cigarettes she had smoked over the last thirteen years. He knew she hated the things but understood why she did smoked; to forget.
He had moved to the city last year in a last ditch effort to try to write his book, working construction for Danny Berns, making just enough to survive on, to afford a measly little run down one bedroom apartment in the slums and eat on and pay bills. Vaguely, he wondered if Danny had tried to call the apartment and what Berns thought about what he saw on the news.
He doubted he had a job anymore.
He looked over and saw a note on the nightstand that had not been there before. Its pale white paper shone in his blue night vision. Reaching over, he reached out and snapped on the bedside lamp. Instantly his eyes adjusted and shifted from glowing green to their normal day light jade, and his vision shifted back effortlessly to his normal day vision.
Reaching for it, Brian took the note and read it. The handwriting was fluid, artistic and somewhat rushed but oddly beautiful.
I hope you don’t mind but I nicked your wallet from your back pocket while you were asleep. I traced your apartment from your driver’s license and brought back some clothes for you, just some basics, some pants, some underwear (cute by the way, always had a thing for boxer briefs), a few shirts and some hygiene essentials. I put them up in the dresser. Max loaned you a jacket; he hung it in the closet I think. You guys are about the same size so it should fit. When you wake up, feel free to clean up and join us in the upstairs study. It’s the last room on the right once you go upstairs proper. Drako is here. He’d like to talk to you. I know you’ve had it rough, and its probably time for some answers.
Hope you feel better. Sorry about the bullet digging out business.
Apparently, Raven had been in the room while he was sleeping. He could detect her faint apple cinnamon scent and he felt a strange warmth flood his body. He didn’t mind. Actually, to think of it, having some of his own things and to be able to get out of these ripped up bloody clothes would be nice. He made a mental note to thank her later.
He couldn’t wallow in a dream and decided to get moving. Action was what he needed, something to get his mind off of the dream, anything to keep the memories away. That’s how it had been for him the last few years.
Setting the note back on the nightstand, he stretched his arms out, pulling out the deltoid muscles that he must have strained at some point last night and stood up. For a moment, his head swam and then steadied.
He placed his hands on the small of his back and popped his back. Instantly the stiffness cleared out. Shaking his head and yawning, he moved into the bathroom and flipped the light switch. The bathroom was simple enough with a toilet, a large counter and sink along the inside wall, a large shower and a simple hunter green rug. Dark maroon towels lay on the sink along with matching wash clothes and apparently, Raven had placed some of the necessities in the bathroom. He found his own deodorant, shaving cream (the idea struck him as laughable and he snorted in amusement), some of his razors and a comb.
Three large round lights lit up the room from above the wall to wall mirror that lined the back of the sink. The counters and cabinets were the same dark rich wood as the rest of the outside room and the walls in here were a light brown paneling. The floor was white tile which perfectly matched the white of the porcelain of the sink and toilet. He looked at himself in the mirror and for the first time, really saw his new form.
He took in the sight of his own muzzle, nose, ears, dark ebony fur and his now familiar green eyes. He saw oddly, that the fur on his chest, stomach tapering down to just above his navel and underneath his arms was a lighter color, not quite a gray but definitely a light shade that his fur over all.
Werewolf anatomy obviously carried over more of the human traits than he previously thought.
He opened his mouth and examined his teeth; they were sharp as razors, and white as alabaster. He could easily do tremendous damage with them and wondered in the back of his mind if biting his own tongue would hurt worse than it did in human form.
Looking at the bandages on his shoulders, legs and sides, he lifted each one in turn and saw something that yet again amazed him. The wounds from the bullets had completely healed and not a single trace of them remained.
“Hmm…this may come in handy.” He said to himself, trying to make sense of the new him, now that he finally had a few moments where he wasn’t being shot at or someone wasn’t trying to kill him.
Brian removed the bloody bandages and tossed them into the waste bin.
“Ow…damn it.” The tape on the back of the adhesive strips tore at his fur. It gave the feeling of duct tape on skin a whole new meaning and made a mental note to avoid sticky substances.
Thus free of the bandages, he moved on to his next challenge.
How in the world do werewolves take a shower? Does it work the same way as with a human?
Max wasn’t around to ask and his pride refused to allow him to ask Raven.
So, got to improvise and hope this works.
He turned around and opened the glass shower door and reached in, turning on the hot tap, followed by just a small turn of the cold tap. Instantly, a cascade of hot refreshing water gushed from the showerhead, filling the bathroom with steam. Turning back to the sink and mirror, Brian wiped the condensation off the mirror and stared at himself.
He wasn’t as bad looking as he thought. Certainly he wasn’t a demonic ravaging creature. For the lack of anything better to do, he snarled at his reflection.
He promptly decided he looked stupid and stopped, instead, waggling his ears back and forth.
Aha. So that’s how that’s done.
He flicked his tail a few times and found to his surprise, it came almost as naturally as breathing. How strange. He found himself getting used to his new form quicker than he would like.
“Could be worse..” Brian said shrugging.
The heat in the room began to build and the air became damp and moist, like a sauna.
Brian was surprised to see he did not sweat.
Deciding the water was hot enough by this point, he unsnapped the button on his destroyed jeans, letting them fall to the floor, followed shortly by his shredded black boxer briefs.
He looked at the ruined clothes and thought oddly how little he felt towards them. They were the last shreds of last days of his humanity.
How odd that he found himself feeling as little as he did.
He grabbed washcloth from the counter.
Stepping over them, he climbed into the shower stall and closed the glass door behind him. The hot water pounded into his back. He let it slam into his shoulder blades, penetrating his fur and hitting his skin below. He stood there for as long as he could take it and finally turned around, facing the powerful water jets. Reaching up, he adjusted the dial and the water changed from jets to more gentle waterfall of steaming water.
He put his head and muzzle under it, closing his eyes as the water ran all over him in rivulets, dripping from his fingers and tail, plunking and splashing onto the shower’s floor, covering his feet and foot pads, running from his wrists back up to his forearms, around the curves of his upper arms and finally down his back.
He leaned against the shower wall, his arms out-stretched, flat-palms resting against the porcelain walls, and finally let the water wash away the hell, the dirt and grime from the last two days. He realized that even though the dream he had scared him, had stirred up terrible memories and feelings he would rather stay buried, it also spoke to him a truth that should have been self evident from day one. He was neither a monster nor alone in the hand that fate had dealt him.
His dad had always told him that if you got knocked on your ass, you got up and fought just as hard.
It was about time he got up and fought back.
nice job keep it coming
For the next half an hour, he stayed in the shower, soaking and finally when he did wash, he noticed that all the soaps and shampoos in the shower were special blends, ones that did not strip oil from hair or in this case, fur.
Finally clean and smelling like Ivory, Brian stepped out of the shower and carefully made his way across the bathroom, grabbing a towel. He wiped the water from his eyes and muzzle, flexing his nose to get the water out of it. He reached back into the shower and cut the water off, leaving it to finally cease and only drip. The silence after the noise of the running shower was quite loud in and of itself, but to Brian it was heaven. Absolute silence.
It seemed like ages since he had peace and quiet. He was a quiet man by nature with a biting sense of humor, and even though he not quite as much as a loner as Max seemed to be, Brian did enjoy moments of solitude.
He placed his right foot up on the toilet and took the towel to his fur, rubbing it back and forth vigorously; to his shock, his fur was already drying and it shed water just like in the dream.
Doing the same thing to his back, chest and the rest of his body, Brian was soon dry for the first time in his new wolf form, completely clean. Tossing the towel aside, not knowing where else to put it, he dried up the floor and turned back around, standing in front of the bathroom counter, he looked at himself again; his jet black fur sleek, glinting in the light from the overhead lamps. His green eyes he noted, still had flecks of amber gold in them.
He took his right hand and ran it over his own fur, from his left shoulder down to his stomach, his mirror image doing the opposite, and was surprised by how soft it was, just like Raven’s. The fur on top of his head was longer than the rest of his fur, and was oddly, much like his hair in his human form.
Frowning, he reached up and mussed his own fur on his head, not much, but just enough to have an untamed look.
There we go. Much better. More like his old self.
Pulling open a drawer in the sink, he found a sealed toothbrush, a small plastic cup and a tube of toothpaste, an off brand cinnamon flavor if the red packaging was any clue. Using it, Brian quickly discovered he had to re-learn to brush his own teeth, as they were in different positions and were many more than his human set. Spitting and washing out his mouth, the warm gentle burn of the cinnamon wafted up into his nose and he found himself thinking of violet eyes and white furred doctors.
Running his tongue over his teeth, careful not to slice his own fool self open, he was satisfied that he was clean as he was going to get. Slapping on deodorant and wondering if werewolves even sweated, he left the bathroom, turning the lights off and shutting the door behind him. The amber light of the bedside lamp cast a decent amount of light in the room and he was able to see easily. His footsteps were stifled on the thick light brown, well vacuumed carpet. Crossing over to the dresser, he pulled open a drawer at random.
Inside, he found his socks and underwear neatly folded and placed inside by Raven (cute by the way had been her words). Brian felt a small twinge of pleasure at the thought. He wondered vaguely for the first time if she was a shifter as well. Reaching in, he randomly grabbed a pair of red boxer briefs and laid them out flat on the dresser top, turned around backwards, with the backside of the garments facing him.
Hmmm. How to do this…he thought, flicking his tail as he thought.
Studying the cloth, he realized it was hopeless. He had zero talent for sewing.
With a small frown, he took hold of the wide black elastic waistband with its white stripe and held it firmly in this left hand and raised his right hand, pinning the briefs down with his right index finger; with a decisive slash, his claws slit through the fabric like butter with a loud papery sharp ripppppp that was surprisingly loud.
He pulled his claw away and he had an improvised slot for his tail.
Slipping the newly altered underwear on, he got his tail through the slit easily and then he could not tell the difference from normal.
Now…for the rest of it, he thought.
Shutting the drawer, he rustled through the rest of the drawers, most were empty but a few were not. He found one of his old favorite shirts, a simple plain white t-shirt. Pulling it on, it was tighter than normal and stood out brightly against his dark fur but otherwise serviceable.
The last drawer was pants; some his, some he did not recognize, all well worn jeans and what looked like his flannel pajama pants. He felt his face grow hot, hoping that Raven had not spent too long with these.
He knew that he would not fit in his old jeans; shifted, he had gained several pounds of muscle and filled out his frame. Grimacing, he grabbed an old pair of Levi’s that had to be Max’s, judging from the thinner fabric that was well worn and used. Shrugging, he pulled them on and found them to be a near perfect fit, being just a little big in the waist not overly so. Max had apparently already altered these to make room for his tail and much more skillfully.
Moving over to the closet, he slid the door back and inside, Brian found hanging there an old jean jacket that had survive who knew how many years obviously in Max’s storage room. Next to it, hung a thin flannel shirt with long sleeves. He noticed the buttons were missing around the wrist cuffs and the dark red and green and black fabric was rough and thin.
He noticed that on the size tag there was a faded letter in old Sharpie, probably faded from years and years of use and washing. He could still make out the writing: an R in simple rough script.
Odd. Max probably salvaged it.
Taking it off the hanger, he pulled it on and found that it was pleasantly too big. He rolled up the sleeves up to his elbows and finally, saw that a single pair of shoes had been left as well. Bending down, he took from and held them in the light. A pair of scuffed up steel toed hiking boots, made of sturdy brown leather, green fabric and soles that could probably climb walls. New strings lined the old eyelets.
After locating a pair of socks, Brian slid the shoes on and much to his surprise, found that his new feet fit them snugly and found that there was no discomfort. He chalked that up to how his new feet were built, which was plantigrade, like a humans and not digitigrade, like a dog’s. Tying them, he stood , fully dressed and feeling more human that he had felt in days, walked over to the bedside lamp and flicked it off.
The room was plunged instantly into a stygian blackness.
Brian felt the warm tingle as eyes shifted into their night vision mode instantly, the room slipping into the familiar and now comforting shades of blue.
Turning, he opened the room door and stepped outside into the hallway, his eyes changing back again. Out here, the earlier brilliant amber glow from the overhead lights had been dimmed to a soft dim glow; he found himself wondering what time it was.
He heard distant sounds of voices and music.
Brian remembered Ash was doing a show tonight. That probably meant it was well after dark; so he had slept most of the day. Raven did say the drug was strong. He also remembered clearly that Raven’s note had said this Drako was here. He some questions and by God it was about time someone could answer them. Taking off at a brisk pace down the hall, he came to the sealed door that led into the bar and saw a simple internal latch lever.
Reaching out, he took the cold metal and twisted it up and over; with a clanking of bolts, the latch, the door opened and the sounds of pounding rock music flooded his ears and flashing Klieg spotlights, red, blue, gold and purple, and green splashed around, circling, swirling. Babbling voices and the smell of cigarette smoke and booze swamped his nose and without a seconds hesitation, and only a moments apprehension, Brian stepped out into the bar again and felt his breath be taken away from him as the sight before him befell him into silence.