I have him. He is right there in my crosshairs, then I blink and he’s gone. I scan the area with my night vision scope. He has disappeared, along with the other one.
“Fucking werewolves,” I mutter.
I sling my recurve bow over my shoulder, check my quiver and climb down from the tree I have been sitting in for the past hour. My butt has gone numb and I’m going to be picking burrs out of my hair for weeks.
It is a cold night in October. A thin mist has rolled in, obscuring my vision. I guess it makes this more of a challenge. Zipping up my leather jacket to my chin, I load my bow. My fingers are frozen and I fumble the arrow. Swearing under my breath, I finally get it loaded. There is no way I’m letting these two get away.
Eden is hunter territory, has been for over thirty years since my grandfather drove the last pack out and they have no right to be here. There are clear boundaries and they know the penalty for crossing them. And if they’ve forgotten, I will gladly remind them.
My booted feet make no sound as I move across the forest floor. There is hardly any light since it is a new moon tonight, hence their partially transformed shape.
Wolves can shift at will, but only at night. On the night of the new moon, it is impossible for them to shift all the way. It doesn’t make them any less dangerous or ugly for that matter. They keep the claws and teeth along with their human skins.
Probably why they are being so ballsy.
As werewolves their instincts and sense of smell would tell them this was a no go area. Half transformed as they are, means they still maintain their ability to think. What there is of it.
I don’t like them being on my turf, especially since they know who my father is, his reputation. Word must have spread about his injuries and since he has been out of action for the past seven months, they have decided to test the boundaries.
A branch snaps twenty feet ahead. All thought ceases as I wait. I hold my breath, arms tense, ready to release the arrow. My hands are perfectly still.
Hunting requires patience. It is the only part of my life where I have any and with good reason. Move too late, you’re dead. Move too soon, you give away your position and it ends the same.
One of them creeps forward, sniffing the air. My scent is all over this forest, so it won’t help him.
Hunting 101, it is almost impossible to disguise your scent from a werewolf, but if it’s everywhere, then they have difficulty picking up a distinct trail. I wait until he is fully in my line of sight, then I release the arrow.
It penetrates his right shoulder and he cries out, the sound is more of a roar than a scream. I expect it to drive off the other one, but instead he comes to the first one’s aid. He hurtles from the trees, heading straight for me.
No time to reload, I drop the bow and when he hits me, I use his own momentum to throw him. We flip over and I land on top of him.
I drive a knee into his solar plexus and swing the knife I keep on my belt, towards his throat. He swipes the knife away and shoves me hard. I fall back onto the ground.
Rolling away, I get to my feet, already squaring off against him. In this light, I can only make out his outline, but I can tell from his stance that he wants a fight. Good, I do too.
Now the adrenaline is flowing, the wolf takes over and when that happens, he loses any fighting finesse he had. He swings wildly at me. I dodge each blow knowing that if one of them connects it could cause major damage. I spin out of his reach, but his claws catch me in the shoulder, tearing at flesh and my new leather jacket. He swings again. I duck under his arm and slash out with the knife I keep in my sleeve. I have a lot of knives. I cut his thigh which makes him back off. The cut isn’t deep, but the knife is laced with silver dust, which will irritate the wound and prevent it from healing.
His friend has managed to break the arrow shaft, but the head is still in his shoulder. A little design of my father’s. Upon contact, the head expands, trapping it in the flesh and making it extremely difficult to remove. At least in any way that doesn’t involve cutting it out.
A howl sounds in the distance, drawing both their attentions. They back away. The one I was fighting hesitates.
“You stay, you die. Your choice,” I say.
He gives me a low growl then takes off after his friend. Cowards.
I did plan on killing one and letting the other go as a warning, but I think I have made my point. Eden is still under the protection of hunters. Well, hunter. Since I’m out here alone.
I asked Dad once why Weres were so hell bent on coming back here. He told me that to certain packs, Eden is considered their ancestral home. They had lived here for centuries before we arrived. One thing is for sure, the death rate certainly went down after we took over.
I retrieve my weapons and head for home, trying to ignore my throbbing shoulder. Contrary to what the movies tell us, a scratch or a bite from a werewolf won’t turn you into one. Werewolves are born, not made. One of Mother Nature’s little quirks. I like to think she has a wicked sense of humor.
A short while later, Eden Manor comes into view. It is a ten bedroom mini mansion on the edge of the forest. With room underneath for a state of the art lab, that dad had commissioned complete with a containment area for Weres. We have lived in many houses over the years and all of them have been big. The house itself is one of the original buildings built by the town founder. To me it’s just another old, musty building in a long line, but Dad likes his luxuries. He can afford it. The government has paid Dad a lot of money over the years to eliminate Weres. While the government would never admit it publicly, werewolves are a big problem across the globe. Most attacks are covered up as bear attacks or other wild animals. Since most packs stick to dense forests and other deserted areas, it is easy to write them off. Not many people automatically think Werewolf when there is an attack.
Dad has traveled all over the world. Now with his injuries, he is only doing consulting work.
We have been in Eden for nearly nine months. One of our longest stays anywhere. Since Dad is ‘convalescing’, he says I can finish my senior year here.
As I approach the house, I can see lights on downstairs. Great, someone is still up.
I stash my bow in the tool shed and hide my knives in my jacket before heading inside.
The family is in the living room gathered around the fireplace. It’s usually only Dad and my stepmother Anne, but tonight we have visitors. My uncle Victor and his three children Kristinna, Charlotte and Owen. Three of the most spoilt morons on the planet. The two girls are older than I am and Owen is sixteen. The girls are tall with dark hair like their father. My hair is dark too, but I have a lighter complexion than they do, from my mother. Owen is blonde like his mother, some supermodel from Finland I heard. I have never seen Uncle Victor in a long term relationship with anyone. Other than his bookie.
All eyes are on me as I enter the house. I try to act casual, hoping they don’t notice my wound. I say hello to everyone.
“Ah, here she is,” Dad announces, “Did you have a good night?”
I nod, “Yeah, just hanging out with the girls.”
Anne sweeps across the room, the ice queen, tall and regal with ash blonde hair. She steps up to me and tugs a leaf from my hair.
“Your daughter has been hunting,” she says. She never misses an opportunity to show me up. Crossing the room, she perches on the arm of the chair my father is sitting in. She gives me a malicious grin.
“No, it’s not what you think. I was out with a guy.”
Most fathers would lose it hearing that their seventeen-year-old daughter was fooling around with some guy, but for Dad, finding out I was hunting was much worse. I wait for him to start yelling, but instead he smiles benignly.
“A wasted trip I imagine, considering there are no more Weres in Eden.”
I try looking embarrassed, like he’s right, “Sorry, Dad,” I mutter.
“It’s late.” His tone is firm. Apparently, my cousins don’t have a curfew.
He shifts in his chair and I see him wince. His clothes hide most of his wounds, but not all of them healed well. He was ambushed during a raid and a group of Weres separated him from the rest of the team. He took out three of them, but was cut up pretty bad. The rest of the team just got him out in time. I think it shook him more than he likes to admit.
I say goodnight and head for the stairs, glad for the pass.
Or not? I turn back to him.
“Good news. Your brother is coming home.”
“He is? When?”
“Any day now.”
I can’t wait to see Jared. It’s been five months since he was last home. He’s five years older than me and Dad’s second in command. He’s one of the most skilled hunters in the world and he taught me everything he knows, against Dad’s wishes. Despite all the moving around, Dad has always pushed me to live a normal life. My mother died when I was eleven, killed in a carjacking. She knew what my father was, but tried to shield me from the life. Since her death Dad has tried to do the same. After his ‘accident’, he’s even more adamant. The only reason he didn’t yell at me just now, is because he is trying to save face in front of the family. I don’t even know why they are here, although it probably has something to do with Uncle Victor needing money.
Once every couple of months he shows up, looking for a handout. He tries to pass it off as a family get-together, but I know otherwise. I think Dad does too, but he still gives him the money. His problem, not mine. I hope they aren’t staying long.
I head to my bedroom in the East wing. Yes, the house has wings. Pretentious I know.
After a quick shower, I bandage my shoulder. The wound isn’t deep, so I doubt I need stitches, but it hurts like hell.
I pull on a nightshirt, wincing as I raise my arm. Maybe I should get it looked at in the morning.
I pack my weapons away into a case that I keep hidden under the bed. As I lift it off the dresser, I knock my mom’s picture off onto the ground. I pick it up to discover I have broken the butterfly shaped frame.
“Sorry, mom,” I say. The picture is of her and me on my first day of kindergarten. I lift the pieces wondering if I can glue it back together.
We lived here in town before and I started kindergarten in Eden Elementary school. We didn’t stay long though and I have very few memories of that time. I do remember that I was obsessed with butterflies back then, so mom bought me the frame.
I set it back on the dresser and get into bed. I can fix it tomorrow.
As I drift off, I hear another howl. Despite what dad thinks, the Weres are still out there. And closer than he thinks.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”