"She's waking up!"
"Yes, I see that."
"She's really pretty, isn't she?"
"Yes, pup, she most certainly is."
I know that voice. How do I know that voice?
"We'll be all proper and stuff now, right? I'll be your second in command and- oh wait, I guess you'll probably want that to be her. Still, you said I could-"
"Calm down, pup."
Concrete walls. An old sofa. Boxes of junk. I must be in somebody's basement.
"Are you all right, Elizabeth? I didn't mean to bite so hard. It's healed good though, hasn't it?"
"Stop. Let her get herself together first."
I know I know him but it won't come to me and those can't be my arms and why does it hurt so much to pull on these ropes? It has to be a dream. I'm some kind of... gray gorilla thing with claws but it's a dream and I'll wake up any minute now if I try hard enough.
"Paaant paaant paaant grrrrr whiiiiiiine"
"The silver speaks to your skin through the fur. I'd listen to what it has to say. Wounds caused by silver can leave very nasty scars."
Fur... claws... tail... silver... oh you have got to be kidding me.
"Thiiihs iiisaaan't hhaa haapaaniiing."
My voice too?
"I know it must be a shock, and I'm sorry for that. You can blame the pup for jumping the gun and getting you here ahead of schedule. Please, just try to relax. I'll untie you as soon as you show me you'll be calm and listen to what I have to say."
"She doesn't look too freaked out. I thought she'd explode or something."
That face! That's it, it's that weird kid who keeps coming in to rent all those gory movies.
"Baa Baa Baannaay?"
"You do remember me! Remember how I kept getting all those werewolf movies? I'm really a werewolf, and so is Ian, and now you are too! I bit you in the parking lot when you were getting in your car to go home. You fainted and hit your head on the pavement. Sorry I dropped you like that."
Stupid Benny. This is all your fault, you grinning little moron. I don't care if this is real or a dream or whatever- I'm kicking your butt as soon as I get out of this chair.
"Whyaah diiihd yoouh doo thiiihs too meeh?"
"It's quite simple. My name is, well Ian, and I am building up a formidable pack, with help from enthusiastic young wolves like Benjamin here. An alpha needs a mate though, and a good she-wolf is hard to find. I thought to myself, 'Why go looking for who knows how long when you can just make one from scratch!' I saw you behind the counter in the video store one day and told the pup to keep an eye on you. Guess he... ha ha... thought I meant an eye tooth."
Ian... Ian... no I don't remember. Maybe if I give you what you want you'll let me go. Lets see, dogs put their ears forward when they're happy. Oh man that feels weird.
"Oohkaay. Yoouh caan laaht meeh gooh, Heeaan. Hii woon't rrruun aawaayh."
"I'll believe that if you stay calm after you see me in my werewolf form."
Aauugh don't take your clothes off! You think I want to see you naked?
"It's OK, Elizabeth. We'rrre mates now. You have nothing morrre to hide frrrom me, so I might as well put myself in the same position. Look at me."
Those don't feel like human hands. Please oh please don't hurt me!
"Therrre. That wasn't so harrrd. You have such beautiful eyes. They'rrre the palest gold I've everrr seen in one of ourrr people. Trrruly, a beauty among she-wolves."
He looks like he's wearing a mask. A really really good mask. All that fur and those teeth and oh goodness he's huge and- calm down. Calm down. He doesn't want to hurt me he just wants to... oh I don't even want to think about it. I have to give him something. Just a little something to get his trust. Stay calm, stay calm. Uhgg, if only it wasn't so hard to make my mouth work right.
"Haauoo caahn yoouh taahk liiike thaaht?"
"It all gets easierrr with prrractice. Surrre, you stumble overrr worrrds and bite yourrr tongue a lot at firrrst, but afterrr a while the worrrds come out fluently enough to fool any human into thinking that you'rrre one of them."
One of them?
"Buu buut hii haam huumaahn. Hiihm nooht hwoon hoov yoouh. Pleeahs puut meeh baack too thaa waay hii waas beefoorrrh. Hii prrroomiis hii woon't teehl aanywhuun."
"Therrre is no currre. Once you have been bitten you arrre a werrrewolf forrr life. You must stay with us, Elizabeth. Therrre arrre so many dangerrrs out therrre. Therrre arrre werrrewolf hunterrrs and terrritorial packs and things you only everrr drrreamed of in yourrr worrrst nightmarrres. A lone wolf doesn't get farrr. You need a pack to prrrotect you."
You think I'm some pitiful naive girl who can't look after herself. Well, Mr. Alpha Wolf, you gave me these fangs. Can't say it's my fault if I decide to use them.
"Hii seeh. Yoouh'll laaht meeh gooh baack too maah faamiileh, rrrhiight? Maah frrriiends? Maah oohld joohb? Theehy'll haal bee soo woorrriied aaboout meeh."
"Of courrrse. You will have to keep yourrr new identity a secrrret, but that shouldn't be a prrroblem as long as you'rrre carrreful. You'rrre rrreally going to enjoy this once you get used to it. I'll teach you everrrything you need to know about using yourrr new strrrengths and senses. Heh, afterrr a while you'll wonderrr how you everrr got along without being a werrrewolf."
"I'll help too. I know all the best places to go running at night. It's really fun!"
"The pup makes an excellent point. Therrre is nothing so liberrrating as the feeling of the cold night wind in your furrr. We all rrrun togetherrr as a pack. I cannot wait to have you join us. Now, if you prrromise to be a good little she-wolf I'll untie those rrropes for you."
I hope this looks more like a smile than a snarl.
"Hii woould loohve too doo thaaht. Hiihm rrreealeh tiierrrehd rrriight noowh, thoough. Caahn hii gooh geeht soome sleehp haat hoohme fiirrrst?"
"No. I want you to come rrrun with us tonight. Therrre arrre so many things we have to teach you, and I don't want to keep the rrrest of the pack waiting."
Aaand now you're a naked man again. OK, kind of hot, but there is no way that could make up for that creepy vibe.
"The ropes I tied you down with are intertwined with silver fibers. Powerful stuff, silver. Do you know the story of the monstrous wolf Fenrir, who threatened the gods at Asgard? They bound him with a delicate thread, only strong enough to hold back him due to its great magical power. Don't ask me why, but silver works much the same way. These leather gloves are the only way I'd advocate handling it."
Oohhh, why are my muscles so sore? Something tells me I lucked out on being unconscious for this whole "human to werewolf thing." Wow, it's almost like walking on stilts. I must have gained at least two feet! Whoa that's even weirder than the ear thing. I guess a tail does need extra butt muscles to work it.
"It feels wonderful, doesn't it? You'll never have to worry about being weak or sick again. I was born this way, I don't know what it is like to be human, but I can only imagine it must be such a vulnerable feeling."
"I got bitten a few years ago. It was really lonely at first, but then I found Ian and he let me help him build up this new pack. It'll be great! I'm gonna be your second, right Ian? Second male, I mean?"
"I said I'd think about it, pup."
"No, you said I'd be your second. You said if I helped you get your mate you'd put me ahead of Alex. He doesn't care about the pack. All he ever does is talk about killing humans and eating them. It's nasty. What do you see in that guy?"
"You should know your place by now, pup. If you've forgotten I would be glad to give you a little refresher. I said I would think about it, but now you're questioning my decisions. Alex doesn't question me, that's why I'm making him my second."
"I'm not stupid. I know what I heard..."
Poor little Benny. Guess I'm not the only one who's not too thrilled with Ian. Perhaps I won't have to kick your butt after all.
"Thaahnk yoouh soo muuhch, Baanaay. Yoouh've giihveehn meeh aah woonderrrful ghiift. Shiince yoouh weerrre thaa oone whooh biiht meeh, hii woould rrraatherrr staay wiith yoouh thaan Heeaan. Whee coould gooh oof toogetherrr, foorrrm hoourrr oown paack."
"You... really think so, Elizabeth?"
Yeah, I totally want to run off with some jerk who ruined my life by turning me into a monster. Might have its advantages though. I can't believe how delicate you feel. It's like if I kept hugging you harder and harder I could just squeeze the life out of you without even trying. Would that even work? No, too risky to try.
"I'm so glad I made you happy. This is the best day of my li- aarrrggg!"
"How darrre you! Firrrst you say I'm lying, then you trrry to steal my woman? I have no place in my pack for backstabberrrs like you. Get out of my house!"
"No! I'm tirrred of you pushing me arrround!"
Come on come on do something. They're blocking the exit and I can't get out but I have to- ah ha! I can make a noose out of this. No, no, fit! Stupid paws. How do you reverse this thing? I don't know I don't know what I'm doing just grab it just- ahhh it burns!
"Heehy Heeaan, whaaht dooehs thiis stuuff doo too yoouhrrre mahuuth?"
Hold on hold on hold on. Can't get me back here and you can't get away. You'll just have to choke on it!
"You can get off of him now, Elizabeth. He's dead."
Uuuuhh, I've never been so tired. Is that why he stopped moving? And what is that smell?
"Hii caahn't doo thiis ahnymoorrre, Baanaay. Hii jhuust waant too beeh mhyseelf agaaihn. Hii jhuust waant too beeh huumaahn agaaihn."
"It's not hard. Just relax. Think about your human body. It'll come to you, just keep thinking about it."
I want a nose that I can't see poking out in front of my eyes all the time. I want pretty blond hair. I want fingernails, hands, a back that doesn't end in a tail. I want to be me again.
"You did it! After a little practice you'll be shifting between forms like greased lightning!"
"You're naked, Benny."
"Huh? Oh. Uh, yeah, I guess that's what happens when you get angry and decide to shift before taking your clothes off. Uhhh, oh! I'll just throw on Ian's since he's not, uh, using them anymore. Ian took yours off and put them over there by the stairs before you were done shifting. I promise I won't look until you get them on!"
"You've already been looking, but it's the thought that counts."
"Don't worry, I'll just stay right here and look at Ian. Poor Ian. I always figured Alex would kill him. Guy's got such a temper. Wow, the silver rope melted all the way through his throat! You can see his spine in there. And it's smoking too. Weird. I didn't know silver could do that."
"You know Benny, I'd really rather not look. What are you going to do about the body? I'm sure that's the kind of thing you guys usually have to worry about covering up. All right, you can turn around now."
"I don't know. I guess I'll have to go let everybody know what happened and- Elizabeth, your hands! Are you OK?"
"It hurts, but I'll be all right. I'm guessing thick paw pads stand up to silver a lot better than mouth tissue. You look a lot worse, really. Your ear is missing."
"It is? Huh. I know it hurts but- aaaahhh! Yeah, you're right, it's gone. Oh well, it should grow back eventually. I think."
"Good bye, Benny."
"Wait, you can't go out there alone! What about the pack? Ian told them to wait for him to bring you out to meet them."
"I don't think that would be such a good idea. What do you want me to say? 'Hello, I'm some random woman you've never met and I've barely been a werewolf for a few hours but I already managed to kill your alpha male.' Not likely to go over too well."
"Oh. Yeah, I guess you're right. But, but that's even worse! I don't think I can go back there myself and tell them I let this happen to Ian. Alex'd probably skin me with a silver knife or something. What should we do?"
"I am going home to take a hot bath. I would suggest you learn to stop being such a spaz and get a bit more confidence in yourself. You're a good fighter. I think you should go back to the rest of your people, explain what happened, and kick anyone's butt if they have anything to say about it. Oh, and no more biting humans. You owe me big time for that."
"But you're one of 'my people' too, now. I don't want you to have to go through the rest of your life feeling like you don't belong. Trust me, it isn't very fun. I guess that's why I got so excited about Ian when he said he needed my help. I should have known better. I'm sorry."
"Look, right now the last thing I feel like doing is getting involved with a pack. Maybe someday, but not right now. It's just a little too much, a little too fast. Don't worry about me. I'll figure it out on my own."
"I guess you weren't really serious about wanting to form a pack with me, huh?"
"Of course not, Benny. I really have to go now. No offense, but I don't want to see you hanging around the video store any more, OK? Good luck, and good bye."
"Oh. Well, if you need anything just let me know and I'll be happy to help!"
He's a good kid, I guess. Hmm, guess I'll have to look into getting a hold of some kind of silver weapon in case of unhappy visitors. Silver bullets sound a bit cliché. A knife maybe? I wonder if anyone around here makes customized leather gloves.