Previous: "Freedom"

Next: "Assistance"

Series 3 Episode 6

He had seen an awful lot in his time, but very little was shocking to Arnold. He was almost sixteen years old, and his father had recently started taking him out hunting. The thrill was second to none, and it was doing some good for the world, too.

The creatures he hunted were more than wolves – they were werewolves. Some transformed fully – wild beasts to the untrained eye – while others could only partially shift. All of them were equally dangerous, though. The intelligence of man mixed with the ferociousness of a wolf. A deadly combination.

His father was showing him the importance of aim that night. Arnold was getting pretty good at firing a gun, but his father somehow expected even better. Now they were in the middle of the woods in Crystalshaw, a town Arnold once found safe and quiet; now he knew it was anything but.

“Listen carefully,” his father warned, “It’s the full moon. Anything could be out here.”

“I know, dad,” Arnold reminded. He didn’t need to be nagged. He always paid close attention.

“Alright son, so when you see your target, aim straight at its head. Keep your hand still, and never ever lose focus. You only get one shot. If you miss, you expose your location and then it’s game over,” Arnold’s father reminded.

“Something’s coming,” one of his father’s friends announced. Three of them were there, all armed with much larger guns than Arnold had.

“Behind the trees, now,” his father ordered.

Arnold took the handgun with him and did just as he was told. He kept his eyes peeled as a man stumbled into view. Well, he looked like a man, but his behaviour was much more like that of an animal.

“Aim now,” Arnold’s father commanded. Arnold held the gun up confidently, not afraid of anything. He zoned himself out of everything else, focusing entirely, “Now.”

Without hesitation, Arnold pulled on the trigger. Bullseye. The “man,” keeled over and collapsed. Dead. Arnold’s dad instantly went to examine the body, and for some reason, he checked its eyes.

“Well done son. This isn’t a werewolf, but something even worse. Its rich black eyes finally gone. Proving you’re a true Forsyth,” Arnold’s father complimented. Keeping up the family name, what an honour. Arnold had never felt so proud.

Rushing home, Yasmin was in a state of panic. She wasn’t sure if she and Lily had been followed, but looking back would have only slowed them down. She raced into her new house – the first time she had seen it since her mum moved their belongings in earlier that day.

“Hey sweetie, your stuff’s in your room,” Autumn called out as soon as the door slammed shut, “Try and keep the place tidy until the party’s over.”

“Sure,” Yasmin called back, not caring for chat. She just wanted to be safe, so she and Lily could figure out what to do next. She sprinted upstairs and slammed her bedroom door behind her.

“What the heck just happened?” Lily exhaled deeply as Yasmin took a look at her new room. It was much smaller than any room she’d had before, but so much cosier than the overpriced vacant space she had in New York.

“We just made an enemy of ourselves,” Yasmin answered, “Have you tried Dylan?”

“He’s not picking up, neither is Jono,” Lily responded, “We’re on our own.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Yasmin noted, spotting a familiar car pulling up outside the house. It was Freddie – the first party guest, “Come on, we’ve got a party to host. We can get through tonight, and then worry.”

“I hope you’re right,” Lily sounded less convinced, but Yasmin remained confident; she had to. She ran downstairs to meet Freddie, yanking him inside before her mum could latch onto her first guest.

“Hey, I thought…” Freddie couldn’t finish his sentence before Yasmin grabbed his arm and led him upstairs.

“I’m so glad to see you,” Yasmin said while escorting Freddie into her bedroom.

“Woah, what’s the deal? Has something happened? You know what, it can wait, I gotta tell you something first,” Freddie tried to explain.

“Wait, have you seen Drew too?” Lily presumed.

“Drew? Huh? No, look at your Tumblrs,” Freddie instructed. Somehow, this didn’t fill Yasmin with hope as she opened the Tumblr app on her phone.

Dylan’s hair never did what it was told to. The waves wanted to fling themselves all over the place, and normally, Dylan could deal with that. He rocked the messy hair look, and was even proud of the appearance of his now-shoulder length locks. He hated tying it up, but sometimes he knew it was necessary to tame the unruliness.

Tonight though, he had to look his best. He had a date night with Jono, and he knew Jono would scrub up so well. He couldn’t let him down.

“Ready?” Josh poked his head around the door. His hair looked great, just as it always did.

“I think so,” Dylan replied, giving up on trying to neaten his hair, “I’ll give Jono a ring.

“I need to get a car,” Josh thought aloud.

“Get a job then,” Dylan laughed.

“Hey, Jono doesn’t work,” Josh pointed out.

“Find richer parents then,” Dylan laughed. Although Jono hated taking advantage of his parents’ wealth, he did love the freedom of driving.

Dylan unlocked his phone, met with a sea of missed calls and texts from Yasmin, Lily and Freddie. Something must have been wrong. He had to speak to Jono first though – he’d be seeing Yasmin any minute now, but that was getting delayed every second he wasn’t on the phone to Jono. He pressed Jono’s name in the contacts list and waited for the call to connect.

“Have you seen it?” Jono greeted, skipping the small talk.

“Seen what? Is everything alright?” Dylan suddenly felt concerned. Something really was up, but he had no idea what.

“I’ll take that as a no. Hold fire, I’m on my way. I’d rather tell you in person,” Jono suggested.

“Err, alright. See you soon,” Dylan replied as Jono hung up. Now for the painful wait. There was nothing Dylan hated more than ambiguity. Promising to reveal something, yet not issuing even a tiny teaser of what it’s about. It was his biggest pet peeve, although Jono knew this. He tried to avoid making Dylan feel unnecessarily worried. If he wasn’t putting Dylan’s mind at ease, it meant there was cause for concern.

The car pulled up after less than five minutes, and Dylan hopped into the passenger seat instantly while Josh took the back seat. Dylan skipped all of the pleasantries and cut straight to the chase.

“What the heck is going on?” Dylan anxiously interrogated.

“Look at your Tumblr, both of you,” Jono suggested. He kept a straight face, the usual sight of his friendly smile washed away.

Dylan nervously opened the Tumblr app on his phone, and saw a series of reblogs, all on the same post. He was horrified as he opened it, seeing his school photo at the very top of the post. Somehow, it managed to get even worse, detailing everything that Chase overheard. He didn’t know how he was supposed to react.

“I swear to god, I’m gonna make him pay,” a seething Josh struggled to control himself, having read the post on his own phone.

“No,” Dylan responded firmly, “Don’t give Chase what he wants.”

“How are you so fucking calm?” Josh was baffled.

“Trust me, I feel the same as you, but we can make him pay in other ways. Hurting him would prove his point, and all eyes will be on us now,” Dylan reasoned. He had to stop Josh from going off the rails. He didn’t think before he reacted, and this made him a loose cannon. They needed a plan of action, and they couldn’t arrive at Yasmin’s soon enough.

The party was starting to fill out, Freddie could hear people starting to filter inside. The mindless chatter about unimportant stuff like Netflix shows and fast food restaurants, entirely unaware of everything going on upstairs. That said, it was unlikely they would be in the dark for much longer.

He kept refreshing the Tumblr post – quite evidently posted by Chase – and the reblogs kept going up. It was more than mindless conspiracies like most of the crap Freddie had seen on Tumblr too. It had evidence. Photos. Names. That’s what worried Freddie so much. If this kept spreading, everyone downstairs at the party would know his secret, and so many others beyond.

“Is this for real?” Lily didn’t know how to react as she read the post on her phone.

“I wish it wasn’t,” Freddie sighed.

“I swear, when I see him,” Lily vented. Yasmin was staying suspiciously quiet.

“Have you read it all?” Freddie asked her, speaking gently.

“Yeah,” Yasmin responded quietly, obviously holding back tears, “Any word from Dylan?”

Almost on cue, Freddie heard another car pulled up outside.

“That’s him now, I can smell his scent,” Freddie identified.

“I’d better catch him before my mom does,” Yasmin leapt up. Her bravery was admirable. The fact she could face the world after her whole identity had been exposed was incredible. Freddie wanted to curl up into a ball and ignore everything and everyone. Although he knew that life goes on, he wasn’t sure how long his brave face would last.

It was taking every ounce of her being not to crumble into tears, but Yasmin tried to soldier on. She still hadn’t quite settled into her new nix skin, and wasn’t sure she ever would. The only time she noticed a difference was when she was stood in some weird place with no recollection of how she got there. The only indicator was a dead body, and it horrified her.

Now her identity was out there for everyone to see, even her mum. How was this fair? She couldn’t envisage anything worse. On the bright side, Dylan was now here, and he was in the same boat.

Answering the front door before her mum could notice the doorbell had sounded, Yasmin quietly ushered Dylan, Jono and Josh inside.

“Upstairs,” Yasmin commanded, but before they could make a move, Yasmin’s mum waltzed out of the kitchen.

“Hey boys, I was wondering when my gorgeous daughter’s friends would arrive. I was beginning to wonder if she even had any,” Autumn attempted to joke, spectacularly missing the mark as far as Yasmin was concerned. Even in a better circumstance, Yasmin wouldn’t have appreciated a joke like that. Yet more evidence of how little her mum knew her.

“You know Dylan and Jono already,” Yasmin introduced, remembering their awkward first encounter on her first night back in Crystalshaw, where her mum assumed that she and Dylan were an item, “And this is Josh, Dylan’s foster brother.”

“Nice to meet you all properly,” Autumn smiled her biggest smile, in full party-host mode, “There are nibbles and drinks in the kitchen, go help yourselves.”

“Maybe later, go on up guys,” Yasmin hurried them up – that was enough small talk. After they filtered into her room, she pulled the door shut once again. Finally, the group were reunited.

“You’ve seen the post?” Lily queried. Dylan nodded regretfully.

“What are we supposed to do?” Freddie asked the desperate question that was on everyone’s lips.

“Chase is angry. He wants Emily back, and is taking her disappearance out on us,” Dylan explained, “We’ve got to let him calm down before we speak to him. I think approaching him now would only escalate things.”

“The reblogs are still going up,” Jono pointed out, “Now at 237 and accelerating.”

“We have to ride the storm. Sure, it details everything about us, but it lacks one thing,” Dylan pointed out.

“Photo evidence,” Yasmin realised.

“Exactly. There’s no actual werewolf proof. No claws, no fangs, just words. People might buy into it at first, but remind them of that,” Dylan suggested. Yasmin felt somewhat at ease, but that was only half the problem.

“Dylan, we saw Drew,” Yasmin brought up.

“Wait, when? Is he okay?” Dylan immediately queried.

“Not really. The creature was using him to get to us, he was disorientated. We’ve got to keep our guard up,” Lily explained.

“We found out its name though, it was in this,” Yasmin recalled, holding up the Bestiary, “It’s called a Téras, which literally translates as monster in Ancient Greek. It needs a strong body, one that’s created when two alphas meet,” Yasmin recalled.

“That’s what it meant,” Jono realised, thinking back to the night before when the Téras first took over Drew’s body.

“There’s a second alpha?” Dylan considered.

“Maybe. Look, we can’t do anything right now except keep up appearances. Maybe we should join the party?” Yasmin suggested.

“You’re speaking my language,” Lily readily agreed. They couldn’t do anything else that night, and Yasmin knew that a party with her mum would be, at the very least, more entertaining than wallowing in her bedroom.

After half an hour of partying, everyone seemed to have shaken their worries off, but Dylan couldn’t. The music playing was great – “Kiss and Make Up” by Dua Lipa and BLACKPINK had just started blaring out. It was his and Jono’s favourite song of the moment, but he didn’t feel like dancing.

Dylan was too busy trying to call Drew, desperately praying he would pick up. Alas, it went through to voicemail every time. His absence was noticeable, and Dylan desperately wished he could ask Drew for advice on how to handle it. He may be the alpha, but Drew had way more experience.

“Come on dude, it’s our song. I mean, we don’t need to make up but I could certainly get down with a kiss,” Jono came and sat next to Dylan, planting the most gorgeous kiss on his lips.

“You know I’m always down for that,” Dylan grinned, “But I’m worried, Jono. Drew is out there somewhere and he’s relying on us. Relying on me.”

“Yeah, inhabited by a creature whose name literally translates as monster,” Jono reminded, “Unless you’ve got a plan, we’re kinda stuck.”

“I know, that’s what bothers me,” Dylan admitted, “We’re helpless. Sitting ducks for tonight at least.”

“We don’t have to be,” Jono mentioned, “I’m not convinced it’s a good idea, but I know how we can find him. Did he have his phone on him?”

“Yeah, never let it out of his sight. What’s the plan?” Dylan was intrigued. He didn’t know if it were a good idea either, but he was open to suggestions.

“Let’s hope his location is turned on,” Jono said, as the bright yellow glare of the Snapchat app caught Dylan’s eye from Jono’s phone. The location feature on Snapchat – a genius thought.

“Can you see him?” Dylan wondered impatiently.

“Yup, there he is,” Jono showed his phone to Dylan, and sure enough, he spotted Drew’s Bitmoji on the map.

“He’s at the high school,” Dylan observed.

“We could sneak out and head down there,” Jono tempted him.

“And do what? We don’t know how to save him,” Dylan considered. It was incredibly risky.

“We could talk to him, reason with the Téras if necessary,” Jono thought.

“Alright, let’s go,” Dylan decided. He knew he had to do something productive, and if this paid off, it could help secure Drew back for good.

Exhausted, George couldn’t wait for bedtime. His shift at work had gone smoothly. His job was part-time care assistant at Crystalshaw’s elderly people’s home, and he loved it. The pay was okay for what it was, but the joy came from the stories that the residents told him. He hoped he’d have that many anecdotes at their age.

That said, it was a tiring job, especially after a full day at school. Now he was back at school, because his stupid ass forgot to pick up a textbook from his locker. Usually, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but he had a biology test tomorrow. This textbook was his holy grail for revision that night. Thankfully, the school doors were open; the cleaners must have still been there.

George reached his locker and grabbed the textbook he needed. He glanced at the photo he had pinned up on the inside door. A cute selfie Lily took of the two of them. She was undeniably gorgeous. He had to pinch himself every time he remembered was the lucky guy whose heart belonged to her. She had told him all about her past relationships, and the number of tossers she had dated before. Quite how anyone would willingly chuck a girl like Lily away was baffling to George.

He closed the locker, thrilled he could clear his to-do list for the night. As the door slammed shut, George jumped back, noticing somebody has appeared from behind it.

“Drew?” George breathed a sigh of relief, “Are you okay?”

“You need to help me,” Drew begged.

“Where’s the creature? Has it left you?” George tried to suss out. He was confused and unsure of exactly how to handle this.

“What creature?” Drew queried, “Look, I think something’s here, and we gotta hide.”

George was sceptical. This could easily have been a trap, but Drew seemed like himself, if a little more nervous. He ran into the nearest classroom – Mrs. Johnson’s lab. They hid together in the cupboard attached to the lab in complete darkness. George desperately wished he could switch the light on, but it would signal their location in an otherwise dark building. He felt incredibly unsafe; he had to try and raise an alarm.

Freddie was surprised by just how much he had let loose at the party. The music was playing loudly, and he didn’t care about which songs specifically were playing as long as the bassline was good. He had sneaked a couple of beers too – Autumn didn’t seem to care about checking his age, not that she had spoken a word to him yet. He was getting lost in the moment, dancing with Josh, Lily, and anyone else who fancied a dance whether he knew them or not. Time for another drink.

“Hey, I think you need some water,” Yasmin suggested, escorting him off the space in the centre of the living room that currently doubled as a dancefloor.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” Autumn approached. Freddie’s impressions of her so far were pretty positive, she seemed quite chilled for a mum.

“I’m Freddie,” he introduced himself, remembering he had to make a good impression, “Nice to meet you Ms. Forsyth.”

“Hey, cut out the formal crap and call me Autumn,” she responded. An immediate improvement on Yasmin’s dad, who he only ever knew as Mr. Forsyth, though Yasmin later told him his first name was Arnold, “Make yourself at home, Freddie. My daughter’s friends are always welcome.”

Friends. An odd choice of word for her daughter’s boyfriend. Autumn left the two of them alone, as Freddie felt Yasmin pulling him by his arm to get water.

“That was weird,” Freddie noted.

“That’s my mom for you,” Yasmin muttered. Regardless, the first meet went reasonably well. One stress off Freddie’s mind.

Jono understood Dylan’s worries about Drew. He felt just as concerned too, but he also knew that when people were worried, they could do crazy things. Dylan had a lot of self-awareness, and Jono knew he wouldn’t do anything rash, but saying the wrong thing at the wrong time would only complicate things further.

That said, Jono was still driving Dylan to Crystalshaw High, taking Dylan to grasp the lie of the land. He could have advised that they kept their distance, but he found himself doing quite the opposite. Perhaps not the smartest move. Perhaps it was a genius choice. There was no way of knowing yet.

“This second alpha,” Dylan broke the silence. Neither of them knew what to say for once, and they weren’t in the mod for pop radio either. It felt wrong, all things considered, “Do you have any theories? Cause I’m stumped.”

“I’ve been trying to think,” Jono explained, “It could be Josh. He was the alpha before.”

“Maybe, but why would it wait? It’s got Josh and I together already. We’ve never been closer,” Dylan theorised.

“You’re not wrong. There must be another alpha out there. Another pack,” Jono considered. He hadn’t really considered the possibility of other packs, but they were inevitable.

“You think they’re in Crystalshaw?” Dylan continued thinking aloud.

“Maybe. If not, they will be. The Téras isn’t going out of its way to lure anyone here, is it? They must be close already,” Jono reasoned, just as the car pulled into the school car park. This was the last place he wanted to be when it was dark, so Jono was hoping this visit would be short and easy. Unfortunately, he doubted it would be either one.

George didn’t know what to do. Drew seemed genuinely concerned, and was acting like himself, albeit way more anxious than his usual calm and collected self. The fact he looked like himself was a benefit too, Dylan had said that his appearance faded before and was replaced by the creature’s. Now he was conflicted. Could the creature just switch back and forth? Had it switched host again?

“We’ve got to get out of here. Hiding won’t do us any good,” George tried to reason, “Maybe I should call Dylan.”

“It’s coming, oh my god, it’s coming,” Drew panicked, putting his hands to his head as if he were in pain.

“It’s not out there, is it?” George realised, trying to piece the situation together, “It’s in your head.”

“It hurts, go away, leave me alone,” Drew yelled, not taking in what George was saying. George knew he had to take action. Calling Dylan would only delay things. Then he had a great idea – there was a way that would save time. Time could have been just what Drew needed.

“Drew, listen to me. I need you to howl, as loudly as you can. Show it who’s boss,” George encouraged.

“I can’t,” Drew struggled to focus.

“You can. You’re a werewolf, and you’re strong. Now howl,” George ordered. Drew let loose. He unleashed the loudest howl George had ever heard. He had to block his ears from the rapturous noise. Drew collapsed to the floor after, still conscious, but visibly struggling. George desperately hoped Dylan had heard that howl, as he couldn’t cope on his own for much longer.

Enjoying the summer evening, Yasmin had taken Freddie out into the back yard. Most people were still inside the party – she could see Lily and Josh losing themselves in the moment on the dancefloor, and it was kind of hilarious. Their dancing was terrible and Lily was so obviously drunk. Freddie had drunk quite a lot of alcohol too, but it didn’t seem to affect werewolves. Perhaps their bodies healed too quickly for any sort of impact.

His head was in her lap, and she was running her hands through his silky blonde locks. This was her idea of paradise. She looked up into the sky, seeing the moon almost at its full capacity. It was incredible to think of how something so far away could have such a huge impact on people down on Earth. It looked so pretty, shining down on the planet. How her dad took so strongly against its impact was beyond her, it was so inherently harmless.

The patio door opened, interrupting her train of thought, and a lad from her year group at school joined them outside. He was smoking a cigarette, a disgusting habit, Yasmin thought. She didn’t know his name, but recognised him from around school. Maybe his parents knew her mum, and that’s why he was here? Yasmin noticed he kept staring over, and caught his eye on more than one occasion.

“Is there a problem?” Freddie asked him. He must have noticed the staring too.

“Yeah, kinda,” the lad responded. What the heck?

“You know where the door is,” Yasmin hit back. She wasn’t going to be spoken to so rudely in her own home.

“Before I go, I wanted to try something out. I just read a post, my friend sent it to me and I’m so curious,” he started approaching the pair, “I want to see just how fast this healing process really works.” Yasmin felt sick. What was this psycho planning on doing? The Tumblr post seemed to be spreading fast, and it was getting harder to control.

“It’s a load of crap,” Yasmin tried to deny it, “You’ve got no proof.”

“If you take one step closer,” Freddie threatened, his eyes glowing their shade of bright yellow against the dark garden. Damn. There was his proof.

“You’ll what? Tear me to shreds in front of the party? Your alpha wouldn’t like that, would he?” he continued to taunt, provoking Freddie.

“You can’t do this,” Yasmin warned.

“You won’t mind me proving it wrong, surely,” he continued, “This won’t hurt…for long.” Before he could be stopped, he pressed his cigarette down on Freddie’s bare arm, the flame burning his skin. Freddie yelled in pain, examining the wound as soon as the cigarette was withdrawn. The lad grabbed his arm, exposing the wound. Before his eyes, the skin patched itself up. The Tumblr post was proven right, and Yasmin had no way out.

Sprinting into the school, Dylan was nervous. He still had no idea what he would say to Drew, or the Téras, whichever one he would be speaking to. As soon as he walked in, he switched his focus from his eyes to his nose. Drew’s scent was strong, although ever so slightly different to usual. That must have been the effect of the Téras. There was another scent though, a worryingly familiar one too.

“George is here too,” Dylan identified, whispering to Jono.

“George? What’s he doing here?” Jono wondered, feeling concerned.

“I don’t know, but I don’t feel so good about it,” Dylan admitted. He paced through the corridor, leading Jono, until they reached Mrs. Johnson’s lab. The scent was strongest here. He signalled a nod to Jono. They had to go in.

“What if it’s the Téras and not Drew? How do we handle it?” Jono queried.

“I don’t know, but if George is in danger, we’ve got to get him out,” Dylan decided.

As his hand reached out to the door handle, a massive roaring howl filled his ears. It was painfully loud, and must have come from somewhere very near.

“It’s Drew,” Dylan identified. He opened the door in a rush, and saw George at the lab cupboard doorway.

“Oh, you’re here,” George responded, “He’s in pain, losing control. It’s trying to claim him back.”

“He’s managing to block it? Wow, that’s impressive,” Dylan reacted. He rushed to Drew’s side, “Drew, it’s Dylan. I’m doing all I can to save you, I promise, but I need a bit more time. Don’t lose yourself, keep strong.”

“I can’t hold it back much longer,” Drew confessed, looking pale and weak.

“Let go then,” Dylan urged, “Don’t kill yourself trying to look out for us. We’ve got this.”

“Are you out of your mind?” George wondered.

“Maybe, but all this is doing is making Drew feel worse,” Dylan justified. Drew started to shift once again, the horrific Téras emerging in a cloud of black smoke.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Dylan scolded it.

“It was necessary,” the Téras growled in its monotonous robotic voice, “The time for a new body is near. Dylan Drummond will be mine.”

“We’re going. Now,” Dylan commanded, backing out of the room. The Téras followed into the corridors, as if it were tracking Dylan.

All of a sudden, someone behind the creature started whacking it using a heavy lacrosse stick. The Téras reacted, fighting back, but it got kicked to the floor. Claiming the upper hand while it could, the Téras vanished, the cloud of black dust shrouding it before it disappeared entirely.

Dylan was gobsmacked. Who the heck was it? He looked up and noticed a lad in his teens, no more than two or three years older, stood in front of him. He was tall, had short dark hair and wore a leather jacket.

Worried, Dylan glared his eyes red, asserting his territory. Much to his shock, the lad glared his red eyes back. He was an alpha too.

“What’s your name?” the lad queried.

“Dylan Drummond. You?” Dylan wondered.

“Scott McCall. Nice to meet you.”

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