1. THE GONE
My feet pounded on the ground as the wet dew collecting on the branches and leaves slapped my face. RUN! Was the only thing that ran through my brain. And no matter how my legs ached or my heart throbbed in my chest there was no going back now. Not after seeing that. No, there was no comfort here, only lies and betrayal. Thus, all I could do was run.
“Alec stop!” Her voice cried out in the darkness but I would not. I would never look back and I would never hope we might one day understand each other. She made her choice and now it was time to make mine. No matter how soul crushing it was.
I could feel the cool wet earth squish between my toes, somehow I had lost my shoes in my desperation to escape her. I considered going back and getting them, but before I could my bones began cracking and breaking into a million pieces, like my heart. I had no control of it. This was the most excruciating change I had ever undergone, in my 18 years of life. My whole body shook as I let out a howl that echoed throughout the forest. I was not even allowed to stop to absorb the shock of the transformation, Aesir, my wolf, demanded me to change as I ran.
Suddenly, I could feel my paws hit the ground with heavy thuds, as Aesir took over and urged us to increased our speed. The mud on the ground drenched my underbelly and soaked me through with a chill. Yet, he still would not let me stop.
“Aesir stop! I can’t keep up with you.” I yelled to him, in my mind, but he would not listen. He forced me to keep going, deeper and deeper into the forest.
Pounding, pushing and desperate for escape my wolf raced through the forest, dragging me further and further into a cave of my subconscious. As the river came into view, the river that foretold of the end of our border, I wrestled with him.
“ Aesir stop!”
He threw me over the edge and we dove straight into the water. The river rapids tried to pull us away, towards the waterfall, but they only reached our knees.
“What a pathetic attempt of mother nature trying to kill a beast.”
Aesir barked, in disgust, as he started to swing our paws around like a horse. He kicked up giant rocks or boulders that had been unmovable for 100’s of years, as he howled and cursed the moon goddess.
“I will not die! Do you hear me, you soulless hag! I WILL NOT DIE!!”
I watched, like a numb by standard through his red eyes, as the path of the rapids changed, due to the rocks being moved. The water understood that it was pointless to be stubborn. Unlike us, the river knew that whatever route it took was not destined by desire but fate. I could feel Aesir slowly leaving me. His yelling curses became soft whispers as he started to drag us out of the water. He looked up at the sky forcing me to do the same.
Nothing. It was a new moon night or a dead moon night, as Aesir had called it. Only the stars poked their heads out from behind the clouds, spotting the black of the night sky like diamonds on a black wedding veil. With all the strength Aesir had left he let out a howled in anger and frustration. He knew our time together was ending. There was no way we would survive this pain that coursed through our body, like a virus, eating and devouring both our souls.
Our legs wobbled and strained as Aesir tried to keep us up right, but it was a losing battle.
“Damn.” He said, as we lay there breathing, gasping for air.
“Why did it have to be a dead moon night? Damnit.” Aesir growled, as he tried to raise our head to look up.
“If the moon had been there, just maybe I could have spoken to her. Maybe you could have cried out to the goddess and demanded a second chance?”
He laughed, as I just sighed. We knew it was over. For dead moon nights were killers of werewolves and she had just chosen tonight to show where her heart belonged. Meaning tonight our howls of pain and regret would fall on deaf ears. No Moon Goddess can hear you when there is no moon in the sky.
“Aesir are you still there?” I could feel our tether, our bond, slowly eroding away.
“Yeah, pup I’m here. I will be with you to the very end.” He rasped out, as I could feel my eyes turning back to blue and Aesir slowly falling back into the recesses of my mind.
“I’m sorry.” I gasped out, as Aesir laughed.
“It is not your fault pup. Maybe she thought we were too powerful.”
We both looked up at the night sky letting this moment together last as long as it could.
“You should have been someone else's wolf.”
“Shut up!” Aesir barked.
“I am your wolf and no one else's, and until we close our eyes on this earth I will remain your wolf! You hear me PUP!”
I could feel my heartbeat slowing. as my head fell back to the earth. Just as our eyes were about to close for the last time my breath hitched in my chest. Standing, almost glowing in the endless darkness was a snow white wolf. Her golden eyes looked across the river at me, with such intense yearning and desperation, as if she were saying...COME FIND ME!
BANG BANG BANG
“Alec get your lazy butt up now!”
Suddenly, the ground spun around me as, the white wolf from my dream and Aesir’s voice faded away. My head landed hard on the floor. The crack made my brother, Andrew, stop and quickly regret his choice of pulling me so roughly from my slumber. I looked up to see his face that once wore a sign of worry switched to disgust.
“Hurry up, you are going to be late for class.” Andrew said, as he walked out of my room.
I groaned, as I raised my arms above my head and stretched. Every muscle hurt and as I rubbed my hands through my hair I felt a small twig poke me. Aesir must have taken control again last night. I pushed myself to stand up and walked into the bathroom, and my suspicions were quickly made true by the face that stared back at me in my bathroom mirror. Dirt and pine sap streaked my cheeks, and my hair was a tangle of twigs and leaves, along with a blood smear around my lips. I licked my lips tasting last night's kill as I turned on the faucet and let the cold water turn to warm in my hands. As the water trickled through my fingers my thoughts traveled back to her. The girl that had made me into this mess. That had made us both into this mess. Ever since that night, Aesir would not talk to me, it was like I had lost control of any connection with my wolf. However, I refused to let anyone know this. Not even the boys knew.
My fists clenched in anger as I ground my teeth in my mouth. I hated her and yet?
Quickly, I shook the thoughts of her from my mind and splashed the lukewarm water onto my face. There was no time for a shower and who was I trying to impress? I watched as the clear water in the sink started to become murky and dark.
"I will never forgive her."
Aesir growled more to himself them to me, but before I could try to talk to him I felt a small presence in my room.
“Got out again I see.” Annabell, my younger sister, stood in my bathroom with a cheeky grin, as I grabbed a towel and dried my face.
“The strong silent type is not going to work on your mate Alec.” Her words caused me to scrunch the towel in my hands into a tight ball. Yet, I was pulled away from my rage by the soft fingers of my sister messing with my damp hair. “I’ll never understand why you act this way. You used to be so…”
I turned to face her, as she detangled a twig from my hair. “Perfect?” I said, with a grin. She slapped my arm causing her hand to rip the twig from my hair, along with a good chunk of my black curls.
“Ahhhh, Bell!” I yelled, as I rubbed my head. She looked horrified and quickly put her hands behind her back.
“Andrew said you are in charge of clean up today.” Annabell said, quickly with a nervous smile, as she raced out of my bathroom leaving me partially bald. I sighed, as I picked up a comb and started to detangle the mess myself. Yet, the moment the comb ran freely through my locks her voice echoed in my mind.
“Even if you are wild you should not look it.”
I threw the comb down in anger and watched as it broke in half. Disgusted with myself I reached for some hair gel and worked my hands through my curls. Most of the leaves and twigs were gone and gravity would do the rest. The smell of breakfast wafted up to my bathroom, as I grabbed a back t-shirt and jeans and made my way down stairs. There was no need for shoes. I would go barefoot until we left the woods, and would put on my boots, that lived in my jeep, once we got to the academy.
“Took you long enough pup.” Andrew said, as he shoved a plate of toast and eggs at me. “You need to be outside in five minutes. I am not on duty you are.”
I growled at him under my breath, as he walked out. Andrew was only three years older than me and in his second year of training. He was no leader in my eyes and even in a fight I could best him. But age was what made you respected here, not skill, and he was the eldest. I snatched a piece of bread off my plate and prepared to follow him outside.
“Stop, right there!” Annabell snapped. “You get back here and finish your breakfast. You know you won’t get anything again until dinner.”
Her bright green eyes, shone with demanding intensity. I could not help but laugh at her pouting, if only she knew my stomach was full from last night’s wild run. Aesir was never one to just run and not take a bite out of something. I ruffled her hair and grabbed another piece of toast.
Before she should complain I raced outside as I heard her yell some curse at me.
Once outside the smell of blood hit my nose and made my mouth water. It was normal for us to hunt and living out here in the woods of Archania, away from the humans and other not so “special creatures,” we were given free reign to do so. I watched as the carcass of a deer was hauled into a truck. The blood pouring from the bite mark on his neck was a clear sign that one of our youngsters had, had a little too much fun last night, as well as the blood on the bucks antlers.
“Go take him to the medic and don't let me catch you hunting after hours again!” Andrew barked at one of the pups, who was nursing a pretty substantial gash in his left arm. Aesir would have laughed and called the pup weak, but once again silence was all I heard. I was really starting to miss his sarcastic wit.
“Yes, Beta.” The boy whimpered out, as his pack mates let him lean on them for support.
Andrew smiled at the boy, but that grin vanished the moment he saw me. I swallowed down the last of the bread Annabell had forced me to take and sauntered over to my brother.
“Looks like you have everything taken care of. Why do you need me?” Andrew glared at my words of defiance and I quickly realized I had stepped out of line. Aesir's attitude may have been rubbing off on me, but Andrew and the rest of the pack did not know I was fighting constantly with my wolf at every hour of every day.
The whispers from the other pack members around us made it clear I needed to take a step back.
“What do you need Beta Andrew?”
The moment the words fell out of my mouth the tension in the air dissipated as my brother sighed please.
“Follow me Alec." The rest of you keep loading up this week's kills. I want each one checked and tagged. No mistakes, am I clear!”
“Yes Beta Andrew!”
My brother seemed pleased with himself as I walked a step or two behind. The rules in our pack were so annoying, but honor meant everything to my brother and no matter how much it vexed me, the pack males respected and honored Andrew. Well, only when big bad Arthur was away.
Arthur, the eldest of my father’s sons had a temper that would leave you bruised and bloody for weeks. When he was home no one stepped out of line. Least of all me. There was only one wolf I show my to fear and that was Alpha Arthur, my eldest brother. Since the moment I was born he hated me. We were five years apart and though we were brothers our blood was different. I am the child of my father’s second wife. Only Arthur and Andrew are full blood brothers, while Annabell and myself, in the eyes of Arthur, are mutts. However, he would never lay a hand on Annabell.
“Stop dragging your feet.”
Andrew snapped, causing me to return to the task at hand. We were standing in front of a shed with a silver padlock door. My eyes widened in confusion, as Andrew removed a necklace from around his neck that had a key on it. I knew my brother’s hated me, but would they go so far as to imprison me? Did they know that Aesir was misbehaving? My blood was racing and pounding in my ears as Andrew unlocked the door, careful not to touch it. Only the door knob was safe. For one touch of silver was deadly to a wolf and would burn us like acid.
“Careful, don’t touch the door or you will wish you were dead.” Andrew smiled, as he motioned for me to enter. I could feel my claws itching to come out. I would kill him before I allowed him to trap me. Even if Aesir was not there I could still take him on in my human form. I think he could tell I was tense and ready for battle.
“Oh, calm down Alec. I brought you here for a different reason.”
The scream was primal, deadly, and full of pain. I had never heard such a sound before in my life. No, that's not right I had, but where?
“I see our guest is still not ready to talk.” Andrew said, to one of the guards.
“Yes, Beta Andrew. The beast only screams like a banshee. I believe the demon is too far GONE to be saved.”
A demon? My brain quickly tried to shuffle through any information I had gleaned from my years at the academy. There were many ways to capture a demon but to speak to one. To understand it, that depended on how far gone they were. For a demon was a creature that at one time could speak and have thoughts. No one was sure where they came from, or why they existed, but they are and always have been our sworn enemies. They are bloodthirsty and kill for killing's sake. Each life they take a part of their humanity is lost, and so when they have gone too far and can’t be saved, there is no longer any way to speak to them. Those demons are referred to as the GONE, and the creature that stood caged in front of me appeared to be that way.
It was one of the animal kind. Its body was covered in thick grey fur and sharp curled talons now replaced its fingers. It had a black tail with a barbed spike on the end, almost like a scorpion. Its golden eyes glowed in its skull with such hate. I prayed Annabell would never see such a beast, and I wished Andrew had not brought me here. I wanted to run and escape. Suddenly, the creature eyed me.
“Do I frighten you?” It calmly hissed.
I looked back at my brother to say something to him, but noticed he was deep in conversation with the guards. Had Andrew not heard it speak? I looked back at the demon who was smiling from ear to ear.
“You can hear me can’t you wolf pup?”
The beast said with excitement, and I could have sworn he sounded almost hopeful. Why was I getting a strange sense of dejavu? I tried to shake my head of the though, but stopped. The look in the creature's eyes had changed, and I watched as its shoulders slumped, as if all the tension in its body had been the only thing holding it up.
“Good, at least one will hear my story before that beast kills me.”
I opened my mouth to retort but the creature shook his head.
“No, your brother plans to kill me and I have accepted that. Yet, I am not your enemy wolf pup, at least I use to not be." He said, with a smile, revealing row upon row of sharp yellow teeth as he touched a necklace from around his neck. It was silver chain piece with a ring hanging from it.
"No, your true enemy hides behind a mask. But, I can tell you don't believe me. Just remember...” The creature stopped and held up a talion hand to his face, as his eyes melted into sadness. “Looks can be deceiving. But you already know that, don’t you wolf pup.”
I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I could not speak and I regretted having Annabell shove food down my throat. I was certain the moment I left this hell it would soon be making a reappearance.
“Yes, I can sense it in you, do you feel it? The connection."
He tapped his chest with a black talion, and sighed, causing his head to hang loosely as if it might fall off from his shoulders.
" So sad, to be so young and made a fool.”
My eyes flashed furry at him which must have pleased the demon because he chuckled.
“Steady Pup. I only mean your wolf is stronger, much stronger than that weak one over there who plans to kill me. But you already knew that. You have known that from the moment you first turned."
I turned to look at my brother. He was weak and as I watched his every move, like a hunter evaluating his prey, a dark thought began to form in my brain. It was just a thought, it was not like I would make actions on it. If I were to challenge him for Beta, Arthur would have to respect me and if he did not I would fight him for Alpha. And then she would be sorry.
“Ha ha ha, your glowing red eyes be showing wolf pup. Is it your desire to kill?"
Red eyes, Aesir! I reached out for him but he would not talk. He just snarled and hissed at me like a wild beast, and then he was gone. I felt my mind quickly become my own again as I growled at the demon.
“Good, it is good that you are strong and you have such thoughts. You will need them."
Then suddenly he stopped, as if contemplating something, and before I could back away he quickly charged towards me and placed a talon to my face. I stood rooted to the spot, as his golden eyes peered into me, as if he was trying to see my soul.
“But wait, what is this?"
His talion grazed my cheek causing a chill to go down my spin.
"You have been harmed. Something has broken you? But, what dare harm you?”
I watched him pondered on this until a sad smile appeared on his face.
“Ah, I see. You were tricked. As was I.”
Slowly, he leaned back and sighed as he shook his head. I could feel my throat becoming dry, as he rubbed his face and neck. He seemed so human. If it were not for the grey fur covering his face and and the tail, I would have though he was an old man in maybe his 60's.
“Oh, my my my. Let me tell you a little secret.”
He hissed as he looked at me with those golden eyes, which some how felt familiar.
“Always remember death is no escape but only the beginning. For you are her…”
Yet, before the demon could finish my brother grabbed my arm and pulled me out of our conversation. I tried to hear the demon again, to reach out for that last bit of information, but to my horror he was dead. I looked up to see Andrew sporting a silver blade covered in blood.
“Darn, what a waste. I was hoping I would be able to get some information on what those damn witches have been up too. Oh well.” Andrew said, as he tossed the sword to the ground. “Don’t forget to do your duty pup and clean up that mess.”
The moment everyone walked out of the room, I felt my stomach empty. I slammed my hands on the floor in frustration. What was he going to say? How had I not noticed my brother getting ready to kill him? What had happened to me? I felt like I had been in a dream or a trance. Did demons have that ability? Suddenly, seeing her again was the last thing on my mind, or the fact that I was bound to see her in the hallways going to class, or the cafeteria, or kissing that disgusting.
Okay, maybe I was fooling myself, but at least in that moment, as my hands opened the cage that once housed the so-called demon, something else was opening inside of me. As I felt his bloody mass against my chest, as I carried him outside, my mind felt rattled and sitting in my subconscious with his piercing red eyes was Aesir. He dare not come out of the shadows, but he sat there watching, as I pulled out the lighter with the purple flame and threw it at the demon. I watched the carcass evaporated into smoke and disappeared. I picked up the lighter and put it back in my pocket, as Aesir closed his eyes and disappeared into darkness. Leaving me once again to my thoughts and alone.