As Freddie's struggles with his new body become more and more apparent, Dylan intervenes and puts himself in huge danger. Lily finds herself attracted to Oli, the new guy in her class, but among her own problems, Yasmin realises there may be more than meets the eye with him.
When Freddie goes missing, Dylan and Jono look for clues that could find out who abducted him. Freddie finds out that it's a familiar face, and not a pleasant one either. Meanwhile, Yasmin and Lily confront Drew about his large pile of secrets.
With Clara persuing an alpha, Dylan has to make a decision that could frustrate the pack. Harbouring Dylan's mum's secret, Jono backs his boyfriend but Yasmin is less receptive after finding a murdered werewolf.
Yasmin begins to doubt Dylan's plan as she worries about the trustworthiness of Clara. Lily goes on a date with Oli, hoping for the best, although Freddie begins to worry as memories flood back from the night before.
Dylan tries to forget about the hunters and Clara on his birthday but struggles with the full moon looming and the potential for Freddie to lose control being high. Meanwhile, Yasmin finds it hard to cope with the shock revelation about her dad.
After Dylan's birthday party is crashed by hunters, he and Jono frantically struggle to find a way to save their friends from inside a house teeming with armed men. Will Freddie survive the full moon? How will Yasmin react when she comes face-to-face with her dad?
Recovering in hospital, Yasmin finally takes a stand against her father, while Freddie admits his feelings at last. Drew finds some unexpected visitors in the bunker, and Jono is forced to admit the truth about Dylan to his parents, but how will they react?
Realising he is at crisis point, Dylan makes one last attempt to look for Drew and Lily before he makes a life-changing decision. Meanwhile, Lily struggles to cope with Clara's plan and Drew attempts an escape.
Desperate to save his friends, Dylan enlists the help of an outsider to take on Mr. Forsyth and Clara. Before long, he is faced with a dilemma that could change his life, entrusting him with more responsibility than he'd ever wanted.
1: Insomnia Written by MarthaJonesFan
Tossing and turning like mad, getting a good night’s sleep felt like a long-forgotten concept to Freddie. Although he was getting to grips with his new normal, he hadn’t had a decent sleep since Josh had bitten him. Almost three months had passed since then, and yet he couldn’t shake Josh out of his head. His mind simply wouldn’t switch off.
He looked over at the clock – 3:38am. He had been lying awake in that bed for over three hours. Much like every single night. He was being driven slowly crazy.
Freddie’s ears identified the unmistakable sound of the loose floorboard just outside his bedroom. Someone was there. The door was shut, he couldn’t see who. What if Josh was back? They still hadn’t heard from the rest of his pack either. Perhaps they had all come for him.
He needed to arm himself. Freddie picked up the baseball bat he kept in the wardrobe. He thought it wise to invest in one in case Josh came back to attack.
He inched towards the door. His pulse was faster than ever; he was terrified. He cupped his hand around the door handle, and rapidly slammed it down, flinging the door open. He primed himself ready for attack straight away, holding the bat high above his head, just one thought away from thwacking it down.
However, to his own horror, he saw George stood in front of him. His older, more conventionally attractive brother who was his legal carer.
“What the heck Freddie?” he yelled, putting his hands out in front of him to shield the potential whack. Freddie’s heart sank. Now he had screwed up.
The moment of truth had arrived, and Dylan was experiencing an odd mixture of excitement and nerves. Jono was printing the first edition of the new school paper. They had dedicated just about every spare moment they had over the last two months to making the first issue perfect. Every inch had seen a huge amount of care and attention from both Dylan and Jono, from the articles themselves to the presentation and layout. This moment had been a long time coming, as the paper had seen a strangely slow start.
Despite the enthusiasm of both boys, they were buried under the pressure of mock exams halfway through the school year. Much to Dylan’s annoyance, his mum kept tabs on his revision. On the bright side, study sessions with Jono were the perfect excuse to kill two birds with one stone. They always ended the same way, too.
“Et voila,” Jono announced, passing Dylan the first finished copy. Wow. This was the product of their hard work. It was a pure stunner. He felt like a proud father.
“You like it?” Jono questioned.
“I love it,” Dylan responded, awestruck.
“You’ve been staring at it on the computer for weeks, it’s not that exciting,” Jono laughed.
“I don’t know, I’ve never worked on anything like this before. Everything we’ve done has led to this. We did it,” Dylan gushed.
“Our first of many,” Jono grinned. Dylan could tell he was loving this just as much as he was, even if he was hiding it.
He skimmed his eyes down to Yasmin’s guest article. She wasn’t a journalist, but Dylan figured everyone deserved some of her study skills. She was a boss at studying and spoke much less clinically than most of the teachers. However, he noticed something strange at the bottom of her piece. He must have missed it before.
“Did you do this?” Dylan asked Jono, passing the sheet back to him.
“No, I just copy and pasted it from Yasmin’s email,” Jono was just as alarmed as he read it. The final sentence of the article said “They are here. Take cover.” It made no sense within the context of the rest of the article.
Yasmin had actually been her usual self for the past few months. No unusual eye colour, no trance-like states, and when she gave herself a papercut the other week, her blood was red. This was the first hint at anything dodgy in a while.
“We better go ask her,” Dylan decided.
“Note to self, do a better editing job,” Jono jested.
“You’re still reading that?” Yasmin questioned to Lily as she sat down at their bench outside. Lily had the Bestiary book in her hands and looked to be engrossed.
“I’m determined to finish it, I’m not giving up on you,” Lily was adamant.
“I’ve been fine for months, maybe it was temporary,” Yasmin suggested. She wasn’t believing the words she was saying, but she liked a little wishful thinking now and then. On one occasion she had to get it right.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Jono interrupted. Yasmin watched as Lily quickly shoved the book back into her bag when Jono and Dylan arrived. She hated keeping it a secret from them both.
“Huh?” Yasmin responded. It sounded like he knew something she didn’t. She hated that.
“We were just printing your article, look at this,” Dylan handed her the first-printed copy. Yasmin keenly read it, hoping she could call them out for being silly and no more would be said. Then she saw it. The final sentence of her article.
“Dylan if this is some sort of practical joke,” Yasmin wasn’t convinced he was being serious.
“It’s not, cross my heart. So, you don’t remember writing it?” Dylan questioned.
“No,” it broke Yasmin’s heart to admit that. She thought, and hoped, she had been fine for months. Looks like it was just dormant, whatever it was.
“Alright, what does it mean?” Lily questioned.
“The last time you said something like that, it was spot on,” Jono recalled, “We need to be on red alert.”
“So what do we do?” Lily continued.
“Nothing,” Dylan decided, “We can’t do anything except keep our eyes peeled. I think you were trying to warn us, Yasmin.” Sure, that was a cool skill, but somehow it didn’t put Yasmin at ease.
As Dylan said that, Freddie joined them at the bench. Blimey. Yasmin had never seen such huge bags under someone’s eyes. He looked like a zombie.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Lily skipped the greetings, “But you look awful.” You could always rely on Lily to be blunt.
“Is everything alright, dude?” Jono questioned.
“Yeah, I just didn’t sleep very well,” Freddie slurred. Yasmin didn’t believe him – he was twirling his hair and avoiding eye contact. Maybe she could get through to him later. It would take her mind off her own problems at least.
Dylan thought to keep a close eye on Freddie throughout the day. Understandably, he hadn’t been himself for a little while. Dylan knew that losing the friend he had in Josh could not have been easy.
He could also say from experience that adapting to becoming a werewolf was tough too. Freddie had gone through two full moons and neither had gone very smoothly. The upcoming one certainly had Dylan worried.
Freddie had been half asleep throughout maths – Dylan could hardly blame him considering the subject matter, but that was beside the point. Afterwards, Dylan ensured he walked alongside Freddie to next class.
“What’s going on, dude?” Dylan cut to the chase.
“Huh?” Freddie replied, playing dumb. Dylan was the expert in that. You can’t kid a kidder.
“Don’t fob me off, I’m trying to do you a favour,” Dylan scolded. Freddie glanced at him. Dylan wasn’t taking any shit, and Freddie could recognise that.
“Let’s talk in private,” Freddie decided, slowing down outside the boys’ toilets. He dived in, followed by Dylan. Quite frankly, this was much more pressing than whatever they were supposed to be learning in history that lesson.
Glancing around her English class, Lily was surprised by a few new faces. It was unusual for new students to arrive with no prior announcement, although perhaps they were in a different form to her.
Nevertheless, there they were, sat in a line at the back of the classroom. Two girls – one with her black afro hair carefully styled in a bun, while the other had her long, silky blonde hair flowing down her back. Not a single hair was out of place, and Lily couldn’t lie – she was envious. The third was a guy, very good-looking and just Lily’s type. His current on-trend haircut of shaved sides and a quiff on top looked immaculate.
“Who the hell are they?” Lily whispered to George, sat next to her.
“New kids, they were in my form this morning. None of them have said a word to anyone yet,” George informed. Lily looked around again. They all glared her way, none looking especially approachable.
“Hey,” George continued, “Have you seen Freddie this morning? I know Jono’s friends with him.”
“Yeah, why?” Lily tired playing dumb. She was an expert at acting, if she did say so herself.
“He’s been acting weirdly at home. I know things have been hard since mom died, but this is a recent thing,” George explained.
“What’s he done?” Lily listened intently. Any information she could get would be useful, particularly with the extra knowledge she and Jono had.
“He’s barely talked to me, which is really unlike him. He’s not slept well for months, and last night, he almost attacked me with a baseball bat. I think he thought I was a burglar,” George recalled.
Or Josh, Lily thought.
“I could get Jono to have a word if you want?” Lily smiled kindly.
“I mean, if that would work, it would be amazing. Thank you,” George smiled back. He looked defeated behind the smile. Lily was glad to help – she was concerned too after his behaviour that morning. Besides, it didn’t take a genius to know that speaking to a therapist would be a terrible move for someone with such a huge secret. She had to get to the bottom of it.
The bathroom was empty, much to Dylan’s relief. It was usually quiet during lesson time anyway but he thought it wise to double check the cubicles. He couldn’t take any chances.
Freddie leaned against the row of sinks, looking at himself in the mirror. Dylan knew that look. The rage, the fury and the desperation. It reminded him of himself, back when he was first bitten. Freddie had no idea who he was anymore.
“This stupid bite has ruined my life,” Freddie vented, “I was happy before. I had friends who actually wanted to hang out with me rather than babysit me. I was just about happy at home again. He took that from me.”
Freddie’s eyes glowed a vicious yellow as he lost his grip over the wolf again. It was an alarming sight for Dylan. As he had learned over the past few months, Freddie was a nightmare when he had shifted. He seemed to struggle with the concept of an anchor, which was the only thing that helped Dylan out.
Freddie looked around to Dylan and lunged for him. Dylan immediately ran into the cubicle adjacent and slammed the door. He didn’t want to fight Freddie. He had tried before and it got neither of them anywhere. Maybe waiting it out would be better.
Immediately, Freddie began bashing on the door. Dylan leaned against it as a barricade – the lock would only last so long, it needed all the support it could get. The bashing continued for a few minutes; Dylan was too preoccupied to be keeping a look on the clock to know specifically. Freddie scratched against the door too, the horrible screeching sound of the nails against the surface sending shivers down Dylan’s spine. The lock was definitely going to give way, even with Dylan’s applied force. He had to think of something, and quickly.
Much to Dylan’s surprise, the noises then stopped. Silence in the room. That somehow sounded even worse to Dylan – what was Freddie doing? The unknown was scarier. He tried looking under the door, but no sign. He hadn’t heard the door go.
Then it dawned on him. If he wasn’t on the floor, yet still in the room, he could only have gone in one direction. Up. He cautiously peeped upwards, and sur enough, Freddie was peering over the top of the cubicle, hauling himself up with his added strength. Now Dylan really was cornered. He was preparing to make a run for it out of the door, but the lock was unreliable after being rattled about so much. He braced himself, still staring Freddie in the eye.
All of a sudden, Freddie tumbled backwards off the ledge, as if he had been pulled back. He fell to the floor with a thud, and then silence once again, until…
“Oh, my back,” he heard Freddie complain. Back to normal. Dylan fiddled with the lock, shoving it open and checking behind the door. There was Freddie, lying on the floor as usual, with Drew stood over him.
“Pain makes you human,” Drew simply stated.
Confused, Jono was wondering where Dylan and Freddie were at. They were in maths just now, but on the way to history, they seemed to get lost. For some reason, that felt like more of a bad thing.
He turned around and glanced at Yasmin behind him. She shared the same worried facial expression. She was just as concerned as he was.
“Excuse me, miss,” Yasmin called out.
“Yes, Miss Forsyth?” Ms. Kennedy replied, disrupting the silence of the lesson. Ms. Kennedy was one of those teachers who didn’t insist on silence in her lessons, but people respected her too much to cause any disruption.
“Could I use the little girl’s room please?” Yasmin sweetly asked. She was basically Ms. Kennedy’s favourite. Studious but not snooty. A teacher’s dream.
“Sure,” Ms. Kennedy sweetly replied. Jono was amazed at how Yasmin did it. It was only a week ago that Ms. Kennedy denied him the same request.
“Miss, I need to go as well,” Jono butted in, not as smoothly as he wanted.
“Where, to the little girl’s room? I’m learning new things about you every day Mr. Chadwick,” Ms. Kennedy teased. Jono knew she was bantering, but he still blushed, “Is it urgent?” Jono nodded.
“Alright, but no messing around in the bathroom. I know what you teenagers are like,” Ms. Kennedy joked. Ah, gotta love the heteronormative society. Jono’s pet peeve. He didn’t argue anyway, even though his and Dylan’s relationship was hardly a secret amongst their classmates. He had to catch up to Yasmin instead.
“She let you out?” Yasmin looked shocked when she noticed Jono behind her.
“Not without a little humiliation first,” Jono replied, trying to act casual, “Ms. Kennedy not being sexist for a change.”
“She’s not sexist, you just don’t do her homework,” Yasmin called him out. He couldn’t deny it. It was the god’s honest truth.
“Where are we going?” Jono queried.
“Boys’ toilets,” Yasmin confidently replied. It was unusually confident, considering she seemed just as much in the dark as he was.
“For sure? You sound like you know,” Jono was intrigued.
“No, it was just a guess,” Yasmin replied sheepishly, trying to shrug him off. She looked away from Jono. Before he could ask anything else, the toilet door burst open as Drew and Dylan assisted Freddie out.
“Find an empty classroom,” Drew commanded.
Clearing the front desk of Mrs. Johnson’s empty lab, Dylan led the way and assisted Freddie onto the table. He looked shattered, more so than before. Jono helped rest his head on the desk, carefully supporting it as Dylan let go of his arm. Freddie’s eyes were almost shut, drifting off to sleep that was much needed going by the bags under his eyes.
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Johnson burst in, wondering about the state of her classroom.
“We need your help,” Drew led the way, “Freddie. He’s out of control.”
“He looks like he hasn’t slept for weeks,” Yasmin added.
“Alright, let me have a look,” Mrs. Johnson held the floor, as the others cleared out of the way for her to reach Freddie.
Dylan backed off next to Jono, who looked absolutely horrified. It was understandable really. It wasn’t that long ago that he lost the friend he thought he had in Josh. He couldn’t lose another. Dylan knew it would break him. He reached out his pinky finger and linked it with Jono’s, hoping to reassure him. Dylan always felt calmer in Jono’s presence, so he hoped it would work both ways. Jono gazed lovingly at him and smiled, before wrapping his entire hand around Dylan’s. That was the confirmation he needed.
“He is suffering from a severe case of insomnia, we need to get him out of here and to somewhere that he can have a proper rest,” Mrs. Johnson suggested.
“I can drive him home,” Drew offered.
“No, he hasn’t slept at home in months. I’ve got a better idea,” Jono suggested. Dylan was all-ears. He really hoped this would be at least part of the problem solved for Freddie.
“Time to pair up,” Mr. Marshall commanded. George immediately turned to Lily – they always worked together, it went without question. Today though, Lily wanted to investigate someone else. Not even George’s puppy dog eyes could persuade her otherwise. She quickly pounced over to the new boy.
“Hey,” she smiled, trying to appear as friendly as possible. He glared back, as if she were speaking a foreign language. Maybe he was foreign.
“We have to work in twos. I figured you would need a partner,” Lily continued.
“I’m with my friends,” he replied, speaking clearly in an American accent. Not foreign. Just rude.
“There are three of you. We need pairs,” Lily reiterated, “So, what’s your name?” She sat next to him defiantly, and he sighed.
“Oli,” he answered. He couldn’t have sounded like he wanted to be there any less.
“Nice to meet you,” Lily kept up the nice act. She was supposed to be the social bee of the class after all, “I’m Lily.”
“Lily Chadwick?” he identified. Lily was taken aback. It was as if she were famous.
“Yeah, you know me?” she probed.
“I’ve err, heard about your parties,” Oli explained. Now she really was flattered. Maybe it was time to organise another and invite the incredibly fit Oli. However, Lily wasn’t stupid. It was obvious he was trying to make a good impression, and perhaps trying a bit too hard.
“Flattery gets you nowhere,” Lily flirted back. She could entertain him for a bit, it surely wouldn’t hurt. He smiled at her – the first time he had broken the stern expression all day. The Chadwick charm was still going strong.
Heaving Freddie up into the treehouse, Dylan was using all of his strength. This was a rare occasion where he felt grateful for being a werewolf – the added strength certainly helped. That was one positive of being part of a pack too – everyone physically made each other stronger, even without an alpha.
He hauled Freddie up the final step, with Jono pushing him up from below. They were the only two who had gone with Freddie – Dylan didn’t want overcrowding, and he certainly hoped to avoid Drew sticking his ore in.
Freddie was in a light sleep now; he woke up every few minutes but quickly drifted back off. His eyes were just too heavy to resist sleep. Perhaps the change in location was a help after all; a break from the same boring four walls of Freddie’s bedroom can’t have been a bad thing.
Jono carefully pulled the blanket over him and gently pushed one of the beanbags under his head, manoeuvring around his golden locks. He sighed, despairing over his best friend.
“He will be alright,” the ever-optimistic Dylan reassured.
“Will he though? I mean, you coped pretty well with the bite, but Freddie’s a shadow of what he used to be,” Jono vented.
“Things can’t stay bad forever,” Dylan comforted.
“But it seems to be one problem after another,” Jono feared, “Is this the way it’s gonna be? A few months of peace before more chaos?”
“I’m sorry,” Dylan apologised. He couldn’t help feeling responsible. If it wasn’t for him, none of these problems would exist.
“It’s not your fault, don’t ever think that,” Jono insisted, “If you weren’t bitten, it would have been someone else. Josh wasn’t going to be stopped, if it wasn’t you, it would’ve been some other poor kid.” This wasn’t the first time Jono had told Dylan that, and he still didn’t believe it. He just couldn’t stop thinking that he was the problem all along.
“Someone else’s life would be fucked up,” Dylan sighed.
“Probably me instead of you. Thanks for the favour,” Jono grinned. Dylan conceded. Jono wasn’t going to let him feel like shit. Maybe he should just accept the compliment. He pulled Jono in for a hug.
“What’s this for?” Jono smiled.
“For being there for me. I don’t deserve you,” Dylan confided. He knew he would forever cherish moments like that. Hopefully Freddie would be just as comfortable in someone’s arms one day.
On her way out of the biology lab, Yasmin was the last one to leave. Drew walked out as soon as Jono and Dylan assisted Freddie out, so she was left to help clear up the mess. She didn’t say a word to Mrs. Johnson, too unsure of what to say.
Once the room was tidy, she had to head back to history. Ms. Kennedy must have been wondering where she was.
“Yasmin,” Mrs. Johnson called out after her. She turned around, expecting her to complain about her mock exam grade or something. Maybe she hadn’t reached her target. It was hard to always maintain an A-grade standard.
“Have I failed? I’m sorry, I’ve had a lot going on, I’ve had to help Dylan and there’s all of this and…” Yasmin started ranting and couldn’t stop.
“It’s not about your exam, it’s about you. I wanted to see how you are,” Mrs. Johnson interrupted, displaying a rare act of kindness.
“Yeah, I’m good,” Yasmin lied. She knew she had been anything but good that day, but she didn’t want to discuss it.
“And really?” Mrs. Johnson caught her lie.
“Not so good,” Yasmin sighed, giving in, “I keep hearing stuff, telling me information that proves correct. I don’t know how I know it, it’s like something has whispered it into my mind and I remember it.”
“I wish I knew more. I’ve seen many creatures in my time, but none like you,” Mrs. Johnson apologised, although the use of the word “creatures,” unsettled Yasmin.
“It’s alright. Lily’s reading this Bestiary book, it’s huge but that might help,” Yasmin revealed, before realising she may have said too much.
Me and my big mouth, she thought.
“Did you say ‘Bestiary’?” Mrs. Johnson picked up on.
“Yeah, it’s this book with information on all sorts of stuff. More than just werewolves,” Yasmin explained.
“I know what it is. I haven’t seen a copy in years, they’re typically created by…” Mrs. Johnson trailed off, as if she were struggling to even say the word.
“By who?” Yasmin impatiently queried.
“Hunters,” Mrs. Johnson forced out with a sense of dread in her words, “They made the Bestiary and copies were passed around. You’d better hope you’re not in that book Yasmin, because if they ever come back, they’ll know what they’re looking for.” That sent a chill down Yasmin’s spine. She had to read the book. She needed to be prepared just in case.
Walking back to the boys’ toilets, Drew decided to examine the level of damage. He was well aware that new werewolves meant a greater risk of exposure, but he had to do everything he could to cover up the damage.
The bathroom was an absolute state though. The cubicle door was just about on its hinges, with the lock hanging off and the door itself covered top to bottom in scratch marks. There was no way any human could have done that.
He looked at the floor and saw a couple of specs of black blood. Unmistakably the blood of a werewolf. However, despite his thud to the floor, Drew was quite confident that Freddie’s skin was never broken. His clothes had no blood and he’d certainly have smelt it.
He took a sniff of the blood on the floor, just to be sure. It was definitely someone new. A new werewolf. They were here in Crystalshaw, and conveniently in the same place he, Dylan and Freddie had been. He had to find out who they were.
“What are you doing back here?” Yasmin made Drew jump as she peered her head around the bathroom door.
“I could ask you the same, this is the boys’ bathroom,” Drew bluntly replied. Yasmin looked at the door, spotting the sign that clearly said “boys,” in bold letters. She looked disorientated and slightly horrified in herself. It was like she had forgotten herself momentarily.
“I…I don’t know why I’m here,” Yasmin confessed. She sounded broken.
“You just felt an impulse, didn’t you? Like your body knew it had to come here,” Drew identified.
“That’s exactly it. Do you know what I am?” Yasmin replied.
“I’ve seen something similar,” Drew admitted, “Not the same as you though.”
“What was it?” Yasmin seemed desperate to know. However, despite his own extensive experience, Dylan seemed to be running all-things werewolf in Crystalshaw. He didn’t want to undermine him after he proved himself against an alpha.
“We need to find Dylan,” he told Yasmin decisively.
“This doesn’t concern him,” Yasmin fired back. She had a point; it was her life that was being turned upside down, “Please, any indicator would help.” Drew sighed. On her head, be it.
“I met a girl once, many years ago, called Meredith. She was something called a banshee, you’ve probably heard of one before. They have the most ear-piercing screams, but also, they can hear voices. Generally, they turn up in front of dead bodies. You’re not a banshee though, I’m certain,” Drew detailed.
“How long have you known this?” Yasmin seemed more irritated than grateful at his knowledge.
“I only just connected the dots,” Drew firmly stated. He didn’t want any arguments, “Look, let me take you to the bunker. I have something there that might help us.”
“The Bestiary?” Yasmin identified. Drew was stunned. How the heck did she know about that?
“Now it’s alright for you all to rummage through my personal items, is it? Where the heck is it?” Drew furiously asked. He couldn’t believe her temerity.
“Lily has it. She’s reading it now to help me, I swear that’s all. We’re the only two who know about it,” Yasmin defended.
“You don’t understand. It’s not mine either, I stole it from a hunter. If they saw it, it would expose all of us. Anyone around us could be a hunter,” Drew justified his rage. Stupid newbies. He forgot how thoughtless they were. Yasmin looked startled as she realised the impact she may have had. Too right.
Re-joining the bench at lunch time, Dylan and Jono had opted to leave Freddie on his own. He was totally safe up in the treehouse. Jono’s house was surrounded by a wall, and the only way in was through a set of gates operated by a fob. Guests without a fob had to buzz in and speak to whoever was at home. Dylan was excited when he got promoted from a buzz-in guest, to a fob owner the previous month. Jono gifted him a keyring with a fob and a front-door key attached. It was the sweetest surprise. It also meant he had to seek out the nearest locksmith to return the favour. He would have felt too bad otherwise.
“Is he alright?” Yasmin asked after Freddie. She was the only one at the bench at the time they arrived.
“He’s asleep. I hate that he’s alone,” Jono worried even with the high security of his house and treehouse. That was just Jono though – forever worrying about others. It was one of his cutest qualities.
“He’ll be just fine. We put Jono’s webcam in front of him so we can check-up on our phones,” Dylan explained, “Look.” He shoved his phone out to Yasmin, which displayed a peaceful Freddie, sound asleep.
“It’s borderline creepy but if it puts your mind at ease, knock yourselves out,” Yasmin remarked.
“Hey guys,” Lily greeted almost in song, joining them at the table and sitting next to Yasmin.
“You’re unusually chirpy,” Jono noticed. He was on the money – Lily seemed much more radiant than usual. Dylan had never thought of himself as particularly observant, so if he picked up on this, it was definitely notable.
“I am?” Lily coyly batted them away.
“Oh, she’s got a new love interest. I know that look anywhere,” Jono teased.
“You didn’t have to tell everyone!” she playfully scolded, gently and playfully whacking her brother on the arm while Jono laughed uncontrollably. Jono was an expert when it came to teasing Lily, and he could get away with it too. Dylan guessed no-one else was that lucky.
“Who’s the lucky fella then?” Dylan nosily queried.
“He’s over there,” Lily pointed behind Dylan and Jono. There he was – pretty good looking to Dylan’s eyes, if not entirely his type, “His name’s Oli. It’s his first day. He and his friends Clara and Shania just started.”
“Wait, three new kids?” Yasmin connected the dots. She stared towards them and Dylan immediately thought to keep an eye on her.
“What’s up?” Dylan queried, concerned. Her face looked like it had been drained of emotion. Like it had been before, when she wasn’t acting like herself.
“That’s them. They’re here,” she stated coldly. Dylan felt sick as his stomach twisted itself into knots. He stared back at Oli, Clara and Shania. All three of them stared back and made eye contact with him. They had sussed each other out. They were Josh’s pack and Dylan had never felt more terrified.
He was too preoccupied to be watching the livestream of Freddie on his phone too. Too busy to notice that Freddie was missing from the shot.
2: Abscond Written by MarthaJonesFan
Dreading the night ahead, Freddie had heard a lot about full moons. All kinds of myths and legends. The amount of werewolf television shows and films he had binged on Netflix over the years was mad. He had even heard about Dylan’s first full moon just the month before, and how he stupidly risked Jono’s family’s lives even by being around them.
Now, it was his turn. Dylan and Jono were both with him in Drew’s bunker. He didn’t want Drew anywhere near him after hearing Dylan’s story. Pain may make you human, but that headset with nails digging into the skill sounded like a new level of unpleasant. He trusted Dylan’s approach more, although he had no idea what to expect that night.
Dylan and Jono faced him, with the former holding a pair of handcuffs and the latter clasping some chains. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on.
He got into position against the wall, laying down a couple of cushions he had brought. Dylan advised him to make himself comfortable and make the night as pleasant as possible. It didn’t stop him stressing though. The chains were tough, and the handcuffs did their job properly, but he was terrified of himself. What would he become?
Despite his worries though, Freddie’s night actually went without hitch. He was almost bored, even. It was approaching midnight. Dylan and Jono were sat at the other end of the room, keeping their distance and sensibly staying near the exit.
Freddie felt himself changing. He couldn’t quite describe it, it was like nothing he had experienced before, but it was like the wolf inside was breaking out of its holding cell and shoving the human Freddie inside instead. Dylan had harped on about anchors, but who did Freddie have? His best friend turned out to be a murderer and he could hardly look George in the eye when he was keeping this huge damn secret.
By midnight, Freddie had gone and the wolf reigned supreme. The strong chains snapped like a ruler, and the handcuffs may as well have been made of string. Dylan and Jono scarpered out of the room, but that didn’t stop wolf Freddie attempting to break the door down. It was metallic and heavy, and a werewolf had no chance of getting through a door lined with mountain ash regardless, but it lacked logic.The lasting damage on Freddie was a far more pressing issue than anything physical though. He could easily have hurt someone without that metallic door. He hated that he was capable of something like that, and he had no way to stop it.
Unable to shake Oli, Shania and Clara from his mind, Dylan’s walk home was much less calm than usual. He found walking very therapeutic normally, especially with one earphone in, listening to the playlist Jono religiously updated for him each Friday. Seriously, that guy has a seriously good taste in music. His favourite discoveries that week were “Hooked,” by Why Don’t We and “Almost Love,” by Sabrina Carpenter – two brilliantly catchy pop tracks to Dylan’s ears. Their beats set a solid walking pace too, and the five members of Why Don’t We were all such good lookers.
However, they didn’t do too good a job at clearing his mind that afternoon. What did Josh’s pack want? He was sure to find out before long, but he wasn’t sure whether to approach them first or wait for them to make the first move. Both options had their pros and cons.
Dylan decided there was no use worrying now though. It was unlikely they would approach him before school the next day, so all he had to do was enjoy what he called his “mom time.” Caroline would be waiting for him as always when he got home, with a cup of tea and a packet of ready salted crisps. The scent of the tea graced his nostrils as soon as he opened the front door. His house just permanently smelt of tea actually. Dylan assumed his natural smell must be of tea as a result.
“Hi honey, your mug is on the table, I’ll be there soon,” Caroline called out from the kitchen.
“Hi mom, thanks,” Dylan called back. He never lost his manners when speaking to his mum. He collapsed down on the sofa, thrilled to finally be resting his legs. The TV was already on, with some strange-looking reality show playing. He never admitted it, but he totally enjoyed those trashy reality shows. He couldn’t ruin the tiny amount of street cred that he had left.
He took a sip of tea; just the right temperature. Nice and strong too – he hated milky tea. This was the life, and Dylan wished he had more moments to spend like this with his mum. Caroline walked in with a pack of biscuits. Rich teas, perfect for dunking in tea.
“Change the channel if you like,” Caroline allowed, sitting herself next to Dylan. She gave him personal space but wasn’t out of cuddling distance.
“It’s alright, I don’t mind,” Dylan was engrossed, but as an expert at not showing it.
“No Jono today?” Caroline noted.
“He had some homework to do,” Dylan lied. He was actually going to keep an eye on Freddie for the night, but he didn’t fancy explaining the werewolf situation to her. In fact, he preferred not to think about it.
“Nothing’s the matter, is it?” Caroline queried. Mums were an expert at sussing things out. Nothing got past her.
“No, I’m fine,” Dylan smiled, taking another sip of tea, “This is gorgeous.” Perfect chance to change the subject.
“I’ve had years of practice,” Caroline laughed. As she spoke, Dylan’s phone buzzed. New text from Jono.
Dylan’s bubble was burst. The relaxation and comfort had vanished in exchange for immediate panic, and the only thought in Dylan’s mind was oh shit.
Instantly feeling so much better, Freddie was delighted when he woke up. He had slept for what must have been a few hours at least. Even though he still felt weak and exhausted, he was thinking a whole lot more coherently than before. As much as possible anyway, considering he had just woken up. His senses started returning to him, as slow as usual whenever he woke up. He really was not a morning person.
He noticed the whirring of a car engine, humming away. He looked around. Sure enough, he was in a car. Huh? He fell asleep in the treehouse, and this certainly wasn’t Jono’s car. It was bigger and more spacious than that.
“Jono?” he called out, hoping for a reassuring response from him to explain what was going on.
“Oh, you’re awake,” came a familiar voice in response. Normally, he would be delighted to hear somebody he recognised in this situation, but this was setting off all sorts of alarm bells. It was his worst nightmare coming true.
“Long time no see,” Josh continued, taking a quick look back from the driver’s seat. Freddie gulped, horrified.
“So, he’s into you for sure?” Yasmin interrogated. She had gone back to Lily’s after school, hoping for a private word following her chat with Drew.
“I think so, he was totally frosty at first but he livened up,” Lily informed. She really did seem to be on a high, it was nice to see.
“And the fact he’s part of Josh’s pack…” Yasmin broached the subject.
“I’m not stupid. If he does anything bad, I’ll cut him out. I don’t need Dylan or Jono dictating who I can and can’t date,” Lily argued. It was a fair point. Oli hadn’t shown any signs of trouble yet. Perhaps they were jumping the gun.
“Look, I wanted to mention,” Yasmin changed the subject, hoping to calm Lily down, “The Bestiary. It was a mistake. We should have left it alone.”
“What?” Lily was taken aback, “I thought you wanted to know what you are?”
“I do, but I think we’ve opened a can of worms,” Yasmin explained, “Drew knows. He’s not bothered about you taking it, he’s more concerned about who could have seen it.”
“Most people won’t have batted an eyelid though?” Lily tried to understand.
“Not if they’re in-the-know,” Yasmin added.
“You mean hunters?” Lily realised.
“They’re still in Crystalshaw, they just think all the werewolves left. If they see that book, we expose ourselves to every one of them,” Yasmin justified. Lily was taking it all in, trying to process it.
Before they could say anything further, Lily’s bedroom door burst open.
“Freddie’s gone,” Jono announced, sounding extremely flustered.
Arriving at Jono’s, clicking the gates open with his fob, Dylan was the last to arrive. He saw Yasmin was there before him, which was a surprise considering it took him less time to walk than it took her to drive. It wasn’t that important anyway, she was probably out already. There was a much more pressing issue at hand.
“What’s going on?” Dylan questioned, deciding that small talk and pleasantries weren’t necessary nor appropriate.
“I got home and saw Freddie wasn’t in the treehouse. I did a scout around the house, I called his phone, but nothing,” Jono explained.
“Have you checked the footage?” Dylan queried.
“I loaded it onto my laptop just now,” Lily answered, “Well, Yasmin did.” Lily was always useless at computers beyond Instagram and Facebook.
“And?” Dylan impatiently wondered.
“Somebody moved him,” Yasmin chimed in, “They were wearing a hoodie and a mask, there was no way to identify them.”
“Damn,” Dylan cursed. He was hoping for some kind of giveaway. He leapt up to the treehouse to have a scout around and look for any potential clues. Just the crumpled duvet and the cosy beanbags were left from Freddie’s makeshift bed. There was no sign that anyone else had been there.
Then, in the corner of his eye, he noticed the clue he needed. The CCTV camera positioned outside the gates. Maybe they caught something.
“Do you have access to the CCTV?” Dylan yelled back down.
“Yeah, it’s on my dad’s laptop,” Jono replied, “But how did they get through the gates?”
“We might just find out,” Dylan considered, jumping back down. Any clue would help at this point, as nothing else made sense.
Freddie’s heart was beating like never before. It was resembling the thudding bassline of the many EDM tracks he enjoyed. What was Josh doing back? What did he want? Kidnapping him was hardly the best of starts.
“I’m sorry it had to be like this. I wouldn’t even get close to you otherwise,” Josh explained.
“You could have tried a text message like anyone else,” Freddie scolded. He was too scared to sit up and face Josh, but the car doors were locked. There was no avoiding him.
“I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t want to cause trouble. I wanted to patch things up,” Jono pleaded.
“Fat chance,” Freddie retorted. It all felt exceedingly convenient that he wanted to make amends now he was an outcast.
“And to warn you,” Josh continued, “They’re here. My so-called pack.”
“They’re at the school, we’ve seen them,” Freddie replied.
“Trying to fit in. It’s part of their plan,” Josh explained.
“Their plan? You know what it is?” Freddie was still holding Josh at arm’s length, but if he had any information, he wanted to know it.
“They’ve been here for months, they found me after Dylan threatened me. They took me and kept me as their pet,” Josh detailed, “They squeezed everything I knew about you from me.”
“You’re a traitor,” Freddie called him out. He wasn’t surprised though.
“I did what I had to do to survive,” Josh defiantly replied.
“What do they want then?” Freddie demanded. That was what he wanted to know more than anything else.
“You guys,” Josh replied, “That was what I had to do, recruit a larger pack. Except I failed. You refused me.”
“Can hardly think why,” Freddie remarked. He’d fallen for Josh’s act before, he wasn’t about to do it again.
“You might hate me, but I’m doing you a favour. They’re dangerous, and none of you are safe. I’m not expecting you to believe me, but I’m doing what I can,” Josh justified.
“What do you get out of this?” Freddie enquired, trying to suss Josh out. He never did anything without a personal gain.
“You think I want them to succeed?” Josh questioned back. He was making a fair argument, after all they had done to him, although some parts still didn’t add up. Time to probe deeper.
“How did you escape? You said you were their pet,” Freddie was keen to know.
“They are staying at a bunker underground, not too far from Drew’s,” Josh revealed, “I planned my escape for this evening. I want to get away from here.”
“And take me with you,” Freddie realised. The pieces began to slot together.
“We could start again, you know,” Josh pleaded, “I’m not the alpha anymore. I want to prove myself to you.”
“You killed innocent people. That’s not the Josh I became friends with,” Freddie reminded, “What about George? All my friends?”
“You’ll make new ones, we can be besties like before,” Josh turned around to beg.
However, he stupidly stopped focusing on the road. Freddie yelled something even he couldn’t make out as he saw the car veering off the road and into the Crystalshaw forest. Josh panicked, desperately trying to regain control of the wheel, but it was too late. The car was hurtling through the forest. There was no clear path, and Josh was dodging all of the trees, until…CRASH! The car slammed into the trunk of a tree, branches shattering the window screen in an instant…
“What exactly are you looking for?” Steve asked. Dylan and Jono were watching the CCTV camera positioned in front of the gate from Steve’s desktop computer in his office. Jono felt embarrassed that his dad was there, especially as he was perfectly capable of using the software.
“Err,” Jono stalled, “I’m expecting a delivery of a few CDs, I wanted to see if they attempted delivery before I got home.” A good lie. He had learnt a lot about white lies from Lily. It was finally paying off.
“Alright. Make sure you log off when you’re done,” Steve said before leaving. Phew. Jono was worried that his dad would see something he didn’t want him to.
Now it was just he and Dylan. The temptation when they were alone was too much, but it was almost Dylan’s birthday. He had to save himself for a great present.
“You told that lie without flinching,” Dylan noted.
“I’ve become my own worst enemy. Don’t pretend you’re not enjoying it,” Jono teased. Unfortunately, though, flirting was low on the agenda. Jono clicked the fast-forward button on the CCTV software, flicking through the footage to find something useful.
“Alright, two-thirty-two, this is when it happened according to the webcam,” Jono narrated.
“What’s that?” Dylan pointed at the screen. Jono instantly paused. Sure enough, a car had pulled up. Dylan typed the registration plate into the notes section of his phone – far more efficient than one of the many post-it notes his dad had on his desk. Jono then pressed play once again to see if the culprit revealed themselves. In clear view, a masked figure stepped out of the car and pounced over the gate, as if it were a tiny hurdle.
“A werewolf,” Dylan identified. Jono gulped. Was it one of Josh’s pack? Or someone they didn’t know?
“We have to get to Sheriff Taylor,” Jono decided.
“Drew hasn’t answered yet, I think we should wait,” Dylan suggested. He had been trying to get in touch with Drew ever since he arrived. Jono hadn’t called him initially as he still didn’t trust him. Plus, he was a complete tool.
“Dyl, we have to speak to the Sheriff. Wherever that car is, Freddie is almost certainly in it, and the Sheriff can track it,” Jono argued. He knew Dylan wanted to debate, Jono could see it. For whatever reason, he still trusted Drew. However, Jono surely couldn’t have lost that argument. Not when he used the pet name “Dyl.”
“Alright,” Dylan agreed, “Let’s go.”
Waiting outside, Lily had asked Yasmin to hang back momentarily with her. What Yasmin was saying, before Jono burst in, took her by complete surprise. She hadn’t even thought about other hunters around in Crystalshaw. Drew had mentioned them, but in true Drew style, he had only said what was absolutely necessary to know in the moment. She really wished he was more engaging.
“Do you think any of them have seen us with the book?” Lily vaguely asked.
“I don’t know,” Yasmin thankfully understood, “We don’t even know who the hunters were, or what they’re doing now.”
“Probably taking arms thanks to me,” Lily reflected. She would never forgive herself if she were to blame.
“You weren’t to know. We do need more answers though. We gotta find Drew,” Yasmin offered. Lily nodded, taking out her phone to notify Jono.
“Dylan’s been calling him all night, let’s hope the hunters haven’t gotten to him already,” Lily feared. She tried not to show it, but she worried a lot, and the fact that she may have been the root of the problem was just too much.
Awakening with a banging headache, Freddie was very disorientated. It was like the feeling he regretfully knew from when he attended that soccer kid’s party and drank too much booze underage. He had no idea where he was the next morning – it turned out that he’d spent the night on Josh’s sofa.
Josh. That was it. Where was he? What had happened? He tried sitting up, but he realised he was stuck. Oh no. Panic set into motion as Freddie tried desperately to wriggle free. He was still in Josh’s car, but there was no sign of him.
Freddie took a sniff – Dylan had attempted to teach him about scents but it was yet another werewolf skill that eluded him. He decided it must be worth a try though.
Nope, no scent. Just nature, gasoline and flames. Oh dear.
He looked behind him – a fire was raging, caused by the crash. It hadn’t spread to the gasoline in the car yet, but it was surely only a matter of time. It was a ticking time bomb, and Freddie may as well have been glued to it.
Daunting as always, the sheriff station towered over Dylan. He never liked having to visit – it wasn’t anything to do with Sheriff Taylor, who had more-or-less watched him grow up; it was more to do with how the sheriff station was synonymous with something bad happening. Nobody went to the station to report that someone told a funny joke. Dylan wished they did, though. The world needed more positivity.
As they approached the door, Dylan was surprised as he almost bumped into Caroline. He was confused and very concerned to see her at the station.
“Mom, what are you doing here? Are you okay?” Dylan asked quickly.
“I’m fine sweetie, I finished work early so came to say hi to Sheriff Taylor. What’s up with you?” Caroline sounded just as concerned.
“Freddie’s gone missing, we’ve got evidence to help find him,” Dylan replied. It felt nice telling her the truth this time – that was all he knew for definite. No added werewolf craziness. Yet.
“Oh sweetie, I hope he turns up soon. Anyway, I have a hot date with a cup of tea and my bed, I’ll see you tonight, don’t stay out too late.” She pecked his cheek with a kiss and left before Dylan had a chance to reply. She didn’t seem herself – she was in more of a rush than usual.
“Come on,” Jono nagged, leading the way into the station. Dylan followed him into the lobby area. Sheriff Taylor was stood at the desk with a deputy, collecting some paperwork. He tucked the back of his shirt in – unusually sloppy for him.
“Oh, I lose one Drummond and gain another. How can I help you boys?” Sheriff Taylor was all-smiles as he saw the boys approach.
“Hi Sheriff,” Dylan took the lead, “Freddie Ruben. He’s gone missing again, and we think he’s been kidnapped.”
“I’ll get an APB out to look for him, you got any evidence?” the Sheriff asked. Dylan loved that he didn’t question the validity of Dylan’s claim. He trusted him, hence the APB being promised before any request for proof. The evidence was only so he could operate to the best of his ability within the confines of the law. If only teachers were so understanding.
“Sure,” Dylan replied, handing over his phone. He had loaded both the webcam footage and CCTV snippet onto his phone ready. He watched as the Sheriff viewed the footage with open eyes.
“Let’s track that registration plate,” the Sheriff decided.
Arriving above the bunker, Yasmin wasn’t even sure if her idea would work. None of them knew where Drew lived, so they had to summon him to the bunker. From her previous experience, he never seemed to be that far away.
“Shall we let ourselves in?” Lily questioned. She was impatient, and Yasmin shared her sentiment.
“I can’t see the harm,” Yasmin’s logical brain decided. The others had all grown to trust Yasmin’s mind, but it wasn’t without added pressure. Lily opened the hatch and climbed down the ladder first, much more bravely than Yasmin. Together, they reached the bunker door just metres away from the ladder. Lily reached her hand out for the rusted doorknob and yanked it down.
Immediately, as the door jolted open with a creak, an alarm began to sound. It was loud and ear-piercing, so Yasmin’s reflexes told her to cover her ears instantly.
“What is that?” Lily yelled. Yasmin couldn’t hear her, but she managed to lip-read pretty well. The sound then came to an abrupt end. It was such a relief on Yasmin’s ears. She had never considered how much she loved silence before.
Lily made eye contact with her. They were both as confused as each other. They stepped cautiously through the doorway, into the bunker, and there they saw Drew at the opposite end of the room.
“Thieves. They get everywhere,” he spoke sinisterly. A shiver went down Yasmin’s spine as she saw him shrouded in the darkness amongst the dim lighting.
The wait for Sheriff Taylor to load up the vehicle information was too much for Dylan. The Sheriff was hoping to find their culprit in the registration information, where their name should be listed.
“Oh god,” Dylan reacted as the page spring up. He read the information and his eyes were immediately drawn to the name of the owner – Joshua Rayner. Even the sight of his name was awful. Dylan thought he had seen the last of Josh. Obviously not.
“We’ve got a location,” a deputy announced, “It looks like it’s gone off-road into the forest.”
“Let’s go,” the Sheriff commanded, “Boys, stay here.” Dylan rolled his eyes. Of course, he had to miss out on the action. He just had to pray Freddie wasn’t losing control.
He glanced at Jono, expecting him to look similarly bored, but he had a devilish glint in his eyes.
“What?” Dylan was confused.
“Why are we still sat here?” Jono posed.
“We can’t go, the Sheriff told us to stay,” Dylan sensibly replied. He sounded too sensible, much like Yasmin, but he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Sheriff Taylor.
“Oh come on, when did you get so boring?” Jono teased. Dylan couldn’t lie – he did want to be in with the action.
“You’re a bad influence, Jonathan,” Dylan flirted. He only ever used Jono’s full name when being flirty. It sounds too sexy to resist. Jono held out a hand for Dylan to grab, and they ran off to the car, ready for action.
No matter how much he struggled, Freddie just couldn’t wriggle free. He had yelled for help, but nobody was around. Why would they be? He was in the middle of the forest as night was approaching. It could be ages until he was found, and he didn’t have time. Where the heck had Josh gone? Was he hurt? The driver’s seat was empty. Maybe this was his plan all along. He had played a blinder if so.
“Freddie?” he heard Josh call out. Phew! He was still there after all.
“I’m here,” Freddie croaked. Josh popped up at the window and tried to yank the door open. The window had shattered, so he could hear Josh clearly.
“Can you get out?” Josh wondered. He was being strangely helpful.
“No, I’m stuck. You have to stop the fire spreading. The gasoline is leaking,” Freddie explained. That was the most important thing on his mind. He could hold in the car for a while longer without the fire. It was going to catch on any second now and he would be singed.
“How can I stop that?” Josh flustered. Freddie had never seen him look so scared. It was unusual.
“There’s a bottle of water in the front. I spotted it earlier. It could extinguish it,” Freddie suggested. Josh instantly climbed through the passenger window and over the tree branches that now populated the car. Freddie then heard Josh yell in frustration.
“It’s empty, it must have tipped out during the crash,” Josh replied, harshly flinging the bottle out of the window in. He manoeuvred himself back to try and face Freddie. It was difficult with the branches closing up his route, but he managed to accomplish it.
“Your legs are trapped,” Josh told him, “The chair is in the way. I could try and shift it.”
“Get yourself out, don’t kill yourself too,” Freddie ordered. If he was going to die, he didn’t want to drag someone with him.
“I thought you’d have wanted me to die,” Josh responded.
“You know me better than that,” Freddie teased the possibility of an apology. He hadn’t made his mind up on Josh’s repentance yet, but it wasn’t the time for discussion. It was time for action.
Josh tugged on the passenger chair. He had an advantage that no human had – extra strength. Even without a pack, a werewolf was still much stronger than an average human. The bolts began to come undone, and Freddie felt less weight pressing against his legs. However, he felt the car shake slightly, which made him more anxious.
“Shit, I think it’s moving. Hurry!” Freddie ordered, very worried about the safety of them both.
“Almost there, can you move?” Josh queried.
“A little, one more push,” Freddie directed. The car vaulted backwards slightly again. His heart was beating faster than ever. It had exceeded EDM levels and was now at heavy metal.
Josh heaved, not caring about the cuts and bruises he was getting from the branches. He was going to heal anyway, so it wasn’t like it mattered to him. A few slashes to the skin in exchange for their lives felt reasonable anyway.
The car inched backwards again, and Freddie braced himself while tugging at his own legs repeatedly. It was touch-and-go for them both.
Approaching Drew, Lily was furious. He had just tormented her eardrums with a pointless alarm. Now she had a headache. Was he just trying to make some douche-y point? She would love to prod his brain to understand him further.
“The Bestiary,” Lily began, “What is it?” Drew stepped out of the shadows. He could be terrifying when he wanted to be.
“Not yours for starters,” Drew remarked. Lily sighed. That was the last of their problems, but if he wanted to be petty, he could knock himself out.
“I’m so sorry you decided not to use it to help us,” Lily gave as good as she got. She noticed Yasmin roll her eyes at just how petty she was being in return. It highlighted how different they were in reality. Yasmin used logic and facts. Lily preferred to react in the moment, and she owned it, too.
“All you had to do was ask,” Drew noted. Lily found it ironic when he distanced himself from the rest of the group as much as he could, preferring to hang with his basketball mates instead, leaving them no chance to ask any questions. He only seemed to particularly care for Dylan.
“And we’re doing that now,” Yasmin interjected, “What is it? Why are the hunters so obsessed with it?”
“Is it not obvious?” Drew rudely answered, “It has a record of every supernatural creature to have existed, what hunter wouldn’t want that?”
“Who made it?” Lily enquired.
“A family of hunters in California, it’s been passed down through the generations,” Drew detailed.
“They moved here?” Yasmin assumed, “Is that who the hunters now are?”
“No, they recruited others and the book got duplicated. Gerard Argent, specifically. He came to Crystalshaw once a few years ago with his son Chris, but there were already others here too,” Drew detailed.
“A family of hunters. They sound nasty,” Lily commended. The idea of hunters at all made her skin crawl, but a family passing it down? How horrible.
“They’re a bit of a legend,” Drew answered, “My point is, it’s their book. They might want it back, but at the very least, having it in our possession would identify us in an instant. Including you, Yasmin.”
“Me?” Yasmin was taken aback. Lily was getting frustrated. Drew obviously knew more than he was letting on.
“You know what she is, don’t you?” Lily called him out. It was time for the secrets to end.
“Pass me the book,” Drew commanded. Lily begrudgingly opened her bag and chucked the Bestiary book towards him. Drew flicked towards the end and held up a page to them both.
“A beta’s scratch can’t transform you completely, and it’s rare it’ll have any effect at all. You’re still human, with a little extra,” Drew explained.
“A nix,” Yasmin read aloud from the book. Lily was amazed as she saw a sketch of a boy with long flowing hair and water spouting out of his mouth. Yasmin looked horrified, and Lily knew she would feel the same if she were her.
Speeding along the rather empty roads of Crystalshaw, Jono wasn’t stopping for anything. He knew that ignoring the Sheriff’s commands wasn’t always a good idea, but in this circumstance, he stood by his actions. What if Freddie and Josh were both transformed? It would expose their entire secret to the whole of Crystalshaw. Despite Dylan’s good will for the Sheriff, he knew deep down that he agreed too. A speeding ticket would be worth it.
“How far now?” Dylan asked keenly.
“A couple of minutes, we’re almost there,” Jono notified. He certainly hoped they were going in the right direction; all he had to go off was his own memory of the location on the tracking software.
As he focused on the road, he almost swerved when a huge bang filled his eardrums. He parked the car and saw a huge cloud of smoke and flames fill the air in the nearby forest. Worry instantly filled his mind as he feared for Freddie’s safety.
3: Enigma Written by MarthaJonesFan
Wheezing and spluttering, she was clinging onto life with every inch of her being. She had been shot through the heart with a bullet laced in wolfsbane, and there was nothing more that any of them could do. It was infecting her and spreading too quick to stop.
Josh looked into her eyes. He felt horrible, seeing somebody he respected and admired so much look so gaunt. He held her hand and took her pain away. It was a special werewolf skill that she had taught him after she first bit him.
It took a while for Josh to take to her once he was bitten. He resented her and tried his best to disassociate himself from her for ages. He had only intended to get out of the house for a few hours to clear his mind. Now he had been gone for almost two months. His mums must have been going out of their minds. She insisted he stayed though, at least until he learnt control. He was getting pretty good at that, too.
Her daughter, Clara, always complained that Josh was the apple of her mum’s eye. Where was she now, though? Josh was the only one with her. A hunter had cruelly shot her, and now she was clinging onto life with every inch of her being.
“Do it, Josh,” she ordered, “Slit my throat. Be the alpha.”
“No!” Josh immediately batted the idea away, “Besides, Clara…”
“Clara’s not here. I see your potential. You deserve it, Josh. I’m dying anyway, put me out of my misery and continue in my name,” she struggled to speak, but what she said meant the world to Josh. It was her dying wish.
“Alright. Here goes,” Josh reluctantly spoke, shedding a tear.
“Thank you,” she smiled through the pain and closed her eyes. Josh primed his claws and sent them slashing through the skin on her neck. The wide wound instantly began dripping black blood, and she fell lifeless. Josh felt his body tingle. He was the alpha now. He had to do Clarissa justice. But first, he needed to prove himself.
The car was shaking like mad. It was going to tip backwards into the fire at any second. Freddie was doing everything in his power to struggle free from the cruel grip of the chair in front. He was panicking like mad, and his leg ached all over. He was surprised he hadn’t shifted yet. Maybe pain really did make you human.
Josh was still heaving away at the chair in front. He was so close to lifting it off Freddie’s legs, but was it enough? It could be too little, too late if the car rocked any further.
“One more shove,” Josh agonisingly notified. Freddie heaved once again on his legs, and he was taken aback. They moved! He scrambled out of the way quickly.
“Let’s go,” Freddie suggested, leaping out of the still-shaking car. Josh followed suit, rocking the car further and sending it tumbling backwards.
“Run!” Freddie commanded. He knew what was about to happen and they had to be as far away as possible. Freddie could only limp, his legs had been pushed harshly against the chair for a while and hadn’t yet healed. He just knew he had to run. Josh held out a hand to pull him along.
Then, all of a sudden, a huge BANG sounded. The next thing Freddie knew, he crashed to the floor, totally unaware of his surroundings.
“What the heck was that?” Dylan was horrified to hear the bang. It didn’t sound promising at all. It was almost certainly Josh’s car, too. It was in the right direction. He could swing for Josh. If the explosion hadn’t taken him out already, of course.
“We’re not far, come on,” Jono slammed his foot down on the accelerator. The journey towards the cloud of smoke was in some ways more reassuring than before, relying on Jono’s admittedly good memory for directions. Jono almost had a photographic memory. At least when it came to song lyrics. The fact he had directed them both there using an address he briefly saw on a screen was pretty damn impressive though.
Nevertheless, Dylan was relieved they had located them, if worried about what they would find. Just a few metres ahead in the road, Jono pulled over again, behind Sheriff Taylor’s car.
“I thought I told you boys to stay behind,” the Sheriff scolded.
“We had to help,” Dylan replied. He wasn’t lying – he just wasn’t telling the full truth.
“It’s too dangerous to go any further. The fire crew are on their way,” the Sheriff explained.
“But what about Freddie?” Jono worriedly asked. Dylan shared his concerns – they had to find Freddie sooner rather than later.
“He’s here,” a voice croaked from behind them. Approaching out of the woods, Josh was carrying a lifeless Freddie in his arms. Dylan immediately got defensive.
“Put him down,” Dylan ordered. The fact Josh was anywhere near Crystalshaw again was irritating enough. Going near Freddie and pulling this stunt was a step too far.
“Is he breathing?” Jono seemed to care more about the state of Freddie than Josh’s reappearance, which was fair enough in Dylan’s eyes. He was a journalist though – no detail would be missed. Jono only dealt with the top story first.
“Just about. His pulse is weak,” Josh relayed.
“We’d better call an ambulance,” the Sheriff decided, before proceeding to speak to the dispatch team. Dylan double-checked his life signs. Josh was right.
“What did you do?” Dylan was enraged.
“I did nothing, I swear. I’ll explain later, but we need to get him to hospital,” Josh bargained.
“He’s right, we can talk it through later,” Jono asked. Ugh. Josh hanging around was the last thing Dylan needed. He looked at Freddie, seeming so peaceful but he must have been feeling anything but. At least he was still alive.
Gobsmacked, Yasmin could hardly believe the page she was looking at. The Bestiary told her all she needed to know, but it was too much to take in. Whatever she was, it didn’t sound good, and if hunters could identify her, it was doubly bad. =
Without thinking, Yasmin snatched the book out of Drew’s hands and stormed towards the exit.
“The book stays here,” Drew ordered.
“Screw you,” Yasmin abruptly yelled back. She wasn’t in the mood for Drew lording it over all of them again. In her eyes, a leader has to prove themselves. Drew had talked the talk, but never walked the walk.
“I’ll go,” she heard Lily say. Good. Somebody she trusted was coming. Lily had worked hard for months flicking her way through the Bestiary for Yasmin. Now Drew had stolen her thunder. Yasmin knew she would be pretty pissed in her shoes.
“Wait up,” Lily called after her. Yasmin continued climbing the ladder. She needed fresh air. Lily pursued her though. It was nice to know she wasn’t giving up, at least.
Once back on the ground, Yasmin stopped to wait for Lily, and gave her a hand up.
“You don’t have to say anything. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now,” Lily sympathised. It was nice to hear some honesty. Lily had no idea how she was feeling, and Yasmin appreciated that she didn’t pretend.
“It’s too much,” Yasmin sighed. It was a lot to take in.
“We need to break it down. Find out everything you do or don’t have. Prove how much humanity you still have,” Lily offered.
“I’m being hunted by werewolf hunters. I’ll never be human again,” Yasmin sulked. She hated to wallow, but she felt she was justified on this occasion.
Much to his annoyance, Dylan had been forced to leave Jono with Josh. They were both accompanying Sheriff Taylor to the station, while Dylan went with Freddie in the ambulance. It made sense really. Dylan was the best person to keep an eye on Freddie for anything werewolf-related, while Jono was the only one of the two who could drive. Jono would hate to leave his car stranded in the woods.
Nevertheless, Dylan felt uneasy about leaving Jono with Josh. He was beyond untrustworthy, no matter how much he had supposedly reformed. He had a motive to be pissed off. At least they would be safe with the Sheriff, he guessed. Dylan glanced down to Freddie, who was beginning to stir.
“Hello stranger,” Dylan smiled, filled with relief.
“Where am I?” Freddie seemed disorientated.
“Ambulance. It’s alright, you’re safe now,” Dylan reassured him.
“Josh…is he okay?” Freddie seemed worryingly concerned for Josh. It wouldn’t be the first time he had been taken in by Josh’s admittedly good persuasion tactics.
“He’s fine,” Dylan replied bluntly. He had to answer the question but didn’t want to argue. Freddie’s recovery was more important.
“Hey, I did it. I controlled myself. I didn’t shift,” Freddie revealed, changing the subject. He sounded like an excited five-year-old showing their mum or dad a painting they did at school. That made Dylan the proud parent, and he certainly felt that way.
“What? That’s amazing,” Dylan gave him a high five gently, “How did you do it?”
“Pain makes you human,” Freddie said, sounding much less proud. Like he was ashamed that it worked better than the anchor concept Dylan preferred.
“I’m happy for you, bro,” Dylan smiled. It was nice to hear something optimistic every once in a while, especially as Dylan always attempted to keep a positive outlook on life. It was his new mantra, and it helped him try to come to terms with his own changes.
“Oh my god, George must be going out of his mind,” Freddie panicked, trying to sit up.
“Hold it mister, don’t you move an inch,” Dylan ordered, “You might heal quicker than anyone else, but you’re not there yet. I’ll call him.” Bless Freddie. He was still quite naïve, and so was Dylan himself. Maybe he needed to refer Josh to the less-forgiving Drew this time round.
The journey back to the station felt exceedingly awkward for Jono. He could tell Dylan wasn’t happy with the situation, and although he knew he wouldn’t do anything rash, Jono trusted himself to keep a cool head better.
“I guess Dylan won’t want to hear me out,” Josh reflected. If he wanted sympathy from Jono, he’d have to whistle for it.
“I hope you weren’t expecting a welcome-home party. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle you haven’t been arrested,” Jono delivered some home truths.
“I’m not lying. I’m not here to cause trouble. Freddie will tell you,” Josh pleaded.
“You gotta leave him alone, he’s not your messenger,” Jono reasoned. This was the second time he was using Freddie as his lapdog. It wasn’t fair.
“How else could I get in touch? I couldn’t walk up to you and ask you how you are,” Josh noted.
“There’s a reason for that,” Jono rebutted. He had ostracised himself. He had no legs to stand on.
“I know, I get it. I want to prove myself to you, just let me know how,” Josh begged.
“It’s up to Dylan. He’s the one you fucked up, not me,” Jono mentioned.
“It can’t be too bad. He’s got you now,” Josh argued. Jono couldn’t help thinking that he had missed the point, but it wasn’t worth arguing. He turned the volume on the radio up, enjoying the rather appropriate “IDGAF,” by Dua Lipa and using it as an excuse to avoid conversation.
Drew had had enough. These stupid humans were invading his territory, and it was driving him insane. Why did Dylan not just keep his mouth shut to stop these imbeciles invading his personal space? Let alone taking his belongings. That Bestiary book was going to cause them all so much trouble if he didn’t lock it back up. Maybe it already had.
He decided, after a few minutes of ensuring he didn’t blow a fuse, to follow Yasmin and Lily back up to the ground. He needed to speak to them.
“Oh for god’s sake,” Yasmin groaned as soon as she saw him.
“You don’t have to be happy to see me,” Drew immediately replied, “But you need to stop interfering. That book is mine, I have it locked up for a reason.”
“It must be great for you. You know who you are. You obviously love it, too. Well not all of us are the same,” Yasmin defiantly replied, “That book answered all my questions while you held back. Don’t come around shouting the odds at me now.”
Yasmin’s words hit a chord with Drew. He was in her situation once upon a time. He knew how it felt to be in the dark, and he didn’t even have a Bestiary. He’d have done anything to read a book with that level of detail.
“You don’t know how lucky you are. The fact you can literally look up what you are is a damn privilege,” Drew vented.
“Privilege? You think any of this is a privilege? All I want is to be at home studying, but here I am. I didn’t ask for any of this,” Yasmin yelled in response.
“You think I did?” Drew yelled back just as loudly. Yasmin went silent, like she was considering.
“I’m sorry,” she replied. Drew simply nodded in response. He appreciated her apology, even if he couldn’t be arsed with the whole situation. Yasmin suddenly lost all of the expression in her face, looking gaunt and lifeless.
“He’s here,” she vacantly announced. Drew looked towards Lily, and they both knew what was happening. It was another of her premonitions. Her psychic abilities were like nothing he had seen before. He knew he had to keep a close eye on her predictions.
She began walking, away from the road they had been stood next to and onto a grassy area. It was grossly overgrown, and quite why Yasmin would want to go anywhere near there was beyond Drew. However, he and Lily very cautiously followed.
“Who’s here?” Lily delicately queried. Drew thought it best that he left the talking to Lily. She had much more patience. They could criticise him all they wanted, but at least he was self-aware. Yasmin stopped walking through the overgrown grass, which was comfortably up to Drew’s waist. She pointed in from of her. Drew rushed over to have a look and satisfy his curiosity. However, he soon wished that he hadn’t been so intrigued.
Lying on the floor was the horrible sight of a young male werewolf – the proof was in the fangs and claws that were still on show. What was even worse was how he had been cruelly decapitated across the waist. Split completely in half. It disgusted Drew, but he knew exactly what this was.
a warning,” Drew identified.
“From who?” Lily innocent questioned, just as repulsed as Drew.
“Hunters,” he coldly stated.
Watching on, Dylan saw Freddie escorted into the hospital on a stretcher. He got annoyed as the nurse asked him to wait in the waiting room. He had been there for half an hour, or so he thought. He didn’t want to clock-watch – it would make the time go even slower. He just wanted some news.
He vaguely took note of a girl sitting next to him a few minutes before, but he was too wrapped up in his own thoughts to notice anything about her, until she turned to him.
“Excuse me, do you know where the bathroom is?” she politely questioned. Dylan peeked up, and immediately, visible easily from behind her pretty face and kind smile, were bright yellow eyes just like Dylan’s.
“You’re one of Josh’s pack, aren’t you?” Dylan instantly identified.
“I prefer not think of it as his pack. But yes, I guess you’re right. Clara,” she introduced herself.
“Dylan,” he responded.
“I know who you are. I’ve heard how you defeated an alpha,” Clara commented, “I’m almost impressed. Except neither of us have an alpha anymore. Our packs are not complete.”
“If alphas are like Josh, then I’m cool with that,” Dylan rejected. He didn’t want that debacle again.
“Not all are like him. Most are considerably more experienced and better respected,” Clara explained, “In fact, he’s a loose cannon. We found him that night, after you last saw him, and took him in ourselves.”
“Except he got out,” Dylan finished the story.
“You’ve seen him, then,” Clara recognised.
“He’s the reason Freddie’s lying in there,” Dylan detailed.
“He’s a werewolf, why isn’t he healing?” Clara questioned.
“He’s quite new still, he’s only just learning control,” Dylan noted.
“This is why we need an alpha,” Clara linked back, “They tie the pack together, make us stronger than ever.”
“How would we even get an alpha?” Dylan hypothetically questioned.
“That’s why I came to find you. You’re pretty good at getting the answers you need,” Clara proposed.
“We don’t need to. One of us can be the alpha,” Clara suggested. Dylan was mind-blown by all of this information. It was a lot to process and consider. He knew not to make a rash decision.
“Woah, hold up. This is all going a bit fast,” Dylan explained, “My friends and I don’t need an alpha.”
“You don’t even acknowledge them as a pack, do you?” Clara noticed.
“We’re just a group of friends. Some are human, some are not,” Dylan justified.
“You’re a pack, Dylan, whether you want to call it that or not. I’d love for us to team up. I’ll let you think about it. See you at school,” Clara stood up and left, while Dylan sat there speechless. This was the last thing he needed on his plate.
Jono didn’t want to be surrounded by the four walls of the Sheriff’s office again, but he wasn’t letting Josh out of his sight for the foreseeable. Even if he had to put him on a leash, although he prayed it wouldn’t come to that.
The Sheriff was harping on about road safety, blah blah blah, giving Josh a lecture. Jono was taking in his surroundings instead. The Sheriff’s office was mostly tidy, with the crime noticeboard behind the desk looking neatly organised. The desk, on the other hand, was a state. Papers and stationery were scattered everywhere, and there was even an empty bottle of Coca-Cola lying down.
Then he saw it. Something he wished he could un-see, and quickly. It was an empty condom wrapper sticking out from underneath a ward of paperwork. It looked like it had been stashed there in a hurry – something Jono had become a master of after his mum had very nearly walked in on him and Dylan. He was wondering whether to point it out. On one hand, it would be high-key embarrassing for them both. On the other hand, it could save the Sheriff some potential embarrassment later. It might be the kind thing to do. It was something to think about.
“Do you have somewhere to stay?” the Sheriff asked Josh. He looked down, as if he were ashamed.
“He’ll be staying with me,” Jono found himself saying before he could think about his words. Dylan would be pissed, but he couldn’t leave Josh on the streets.
“Are you sure?” Josh looked shocked, “Thank you.” He smiled sincerely. Maybe he had changed.
“Alright boys, you head off home now. I hope Freddie recovers quickly,” the Sheriff wrapped the chat up, “Oh, and Jono, could I give you this to pass on to Caroline? She left it here earlier. I assume you’ll see her before I do.”
The Sheriff handed Jono a gold necklace. He’d seen Caroline wearing it before. It was a wedding present from Dylan’s dad; Dylan had told him in passing before. She never took it off. Why she did so in the Sheriff’s office was beyond Jono.
“Sure,” Jono agreed, as he noticed the Sheriff tuck the condom wrapper further under the paper. He knew about it already – that saved Jono an uncomfortable job.
Surprised at how comfortable the hospital bed was, Freddie was lying wide awake in his room. The plain white walls of the hospital were incredibly dull, but nothing was going to get him to sleep. Apart from the fact he’d napped not all that long ago, his mind was performing somersaults thinking about Josh. He still couldn’t work out if he were being genuine or not. Perhaps he needed to give the benefit of the doubt.
The door creaked open. Expecting to see the nurse, Freddie looked over, and was surprised at the sight of Oli and Shania. Two of Josh’s pack, no less.
“Hi,” Freddie politely greeted. Why they were in there was beyond him. It’s not like they knew each other personally.
“Just keep still,” Oli ordered as Shania walked to the other side of the bed. Freddie watched as she pulled out a syringe and moved with intent towards the tube that was connected to his blood supply, via the back of his hand.
“I don’t think you should be doing that,” Freddie protested. He had very little energy – the blast had sent shockwaves through his body and even the accelerated healing of his body hadn’t solved all of his problems yet.
The syringe was released before he had the chance to fight back. The liquid trickled into his bloodstream. He felt the ice-cold fluid running through his veins. It was too late. Freddie felt himself slowly and softly drifting off to sleep.
In control of herself once again, Yasmin hated the after-effect of her premonitions. Her memory always lapsed, and she had to rely on Lily to update her.
Lily was sat to her left, with Drew to her right as they all sat in front of the Sheriff’s desk. It felt like she had done something wrong, even though she knew she hadn’t. She needed to put on a brave face for her interrogation regardless. She could hardly tell the Sheriff the entire truth.
“What were you kids doing out there at this time of night?” the Sheriff enquired.
“We got lost,” Lily interjected. Yasmin was hoping she would pull through with a good cover story, “We were on our way to a party.”
“On a school night?” the Sheriff disapproved.
“I’m sure you had plenty of wild times when you were younger, Sheriff,” Yasmin hit back.
“We don’t need to talk about me,” the Sheriff brushed the subject off. Deflecting, avoiding admitting that Yasmin was right. A classic conversational technique, “You didn’t see who did this?”
“No idea,” Yasmin truthfully replied.
“Did you know the kid? Any details might help identify him,” the Sheriff posed. He seemed to be ignoring the fact that this kid had claws and fangs on full view.
“Sorry,” Yasmin regretfully denied. Drew and Lily shook their heads too. Maybe he went to Crystalshaw High, but it was impossible to know every kid there. Even with a brain like Yasmin’s.
“Somebody obviously had a good sense of humour, leaving those fancy-dress things on his face,” the Sheriff commented. He didn’t think the werewolf features were real. How long that would last was a different matter.
“Alright kids, I’ll drop y’all off home,” the Sheriff offered.
“I’ve got my car, I can give you guys a lift,” Lily kindly suggested.
“I’ll be alright,” Drew quickly declined. Yasmin found it interesting that they still had no idea where he lived. Drew was an enigma. She was absolutely fascinated by him. He stood up to leave and bent down to Yasmin’s ear.
“Keep the Bestiary,” he whispered, “But be careful.” It was a nice sentiment. He trusted her with the book, despite the fact that he now had a good reason not to. Now to go home and do some reading about the Nix.
Panicking all night, Dylan couldn’t settle in bed. He’d heard horrible news from the doctors. Freddie had suffered a cardiac arrest. How that was even possible as a werewolf was beyond confusing. Why wasn’t he healing? How did a heart attack even happen after that blast?
He couldn’t help thinking about what Clara said. Maybe it was because they didn’t have an alpha. It could be the missing piece of Freddie’s healing process after all.
He was trying to use his journalistic mind like Jono always did, but he wasn’t so experienced yet. He needed to get Jono to teach him what to look out for. Jono had always had an eye for the headlines, after all. Now tomorrow’s headline could be Freddie’s death.
Dylan desperately wanted to be at the hospital, but George was there now. At least he had somebody to care for him. He had to pray Freddie would pull through – there was nothing more he could do.
First thing the next morning, Jono thought it was important to pop round to Dylan’s. He had a few things to discuss, and it would give him the opportunity to pass Caroline’s necklace back. That situation was baffling in more ways than one, and with plenty of time to reflect overnight, the pieces were beginning to slot together. The Sheriff’s odd behaviour, Caroline’s random visit to the station, the necklace, and the biggest clue: the condom wrapper. How he didn’t put two and two together right away was the most surprising thing.
What bothered him was how Dylan almost certainly didn’t know. He would have mentioned it if he did, surely? However much Jono wanted to tell Dylan himself, it wasn’t his responsibility.
Jono opened the front door with the key Dylan had got for him, presented on a chain with a small teddy bear holding a heart, as well as a circular keyring with a photo of Dua Lipa. He knew him too well.
“Hi, it’s only me,” Jono called out as he entered the hallway.
“I’ll be down in two minutes,” Dylan shouted back from upstairs.
“Hey sweetie,” Caroline walked out from the kitchen to welcome him, “Fancy something to eat?”
“Yeah, if that’s alright. Got any toast?” Jono questioned. He hadn’t had time for breakfast before he left.
“No, but I will in three minutes once the toaster’s worked its magic,” Caroline jokingly replied, “Dylan lives off toast. I feel like I must buy all of Walmart’s stock each week.” Jono giggled politely while he reached into his pocket for the necklace.
“Oh, by the way, the Sheriff asked me to pass this on,” Jono held the necklace up so she could clearly see it. Caroline’s chirpy persona suddenly fell away. She stared right at the necklace, like she had seen a ghost.
“Oh, thanks,” she said, sounding shaken.
“I won’t say a word to Dylan,” Jono told her.
“About what?” Caroline played dumb.
“You’re not very good at covering your tracks. I won’t tell him, but you need to. He won’t be happy if he finds out another way,” Jono firmly commanded. Caroline nodded. She looked guilty. He didn’t want to stick the knife in. He was just looking out for his boyfriend.
“Morning,” Dylan entered the room and planted a kiss on Jono’s lips.
“Hey. We need a chat,” Jono cut to the chase.
“This sounds ominous. What have I done?” Dylan joked. Jono knew that he hated vague statements like that, but it was a necessary evil. Caroline couldn’t have overheard. Jono led Dylan out of the kitchen and into the living room.
“What’s the big secret?” Dylan was confused.
“It’s about Josh. He’s staying with me,” Jono revealed.
“Wh…why?” Dylan looked baffled, “Don’t tell me you believe him.”
“No, but he’s got nowhere else to go,” Jono justified, “He’s been co-operative so far. Maybe we’ll need him for information.”
“He could murder someone. He could murder you. Don’t you get it?” Dylan protested. He made good points but was reacting in the heat of the moment.
“Of course I do. Please trust me,” Jono spoke gently. He knew Dylan didn’t mean to sound so harsh, so he didn’t get worked up. Calmness was easier than frustration.
“Okay,” Dylan gave in, taking deep breaths, “Clara spoke to me.”
“She did? When?” Jono was confused. He hadn’t mentioned this before.
“Last night at the hospital. She wanted to team up, but she doesn’t like Josh. If he’s around…” Dylan considered, tailing off and allowing Jono’s imagination to finish the sentence.
“You want to align with her? Let’s not forget they wanted Josh to do all of the things he did,” Jono reminded.
“I know, I’ve not agreed yet. Are these really our options? A murderer or the people behind it?” Dylan sighed. Jono shared his concerns. They hardly had a range of positive options.
Gently taking a seat in the hospital waiting room, Lily joined George. He had been there all night, and Lily knew she had to keep him company.
George was basically her bestie now. He was the only one who sent her a message after she saw Shona die in her arms. The girls in her class, who she used to hang out with and thought were her friends, had barely spoken to her since. Seems it was too uncool for someone to be murdered at your house. Lily didn’t need them anyway. As George always said, they were way too superficial for her.
“You didn’t have to come,” George smiled. He looked shattered, and like he’d barely slept a wink.
“No, but it means missing history this morning,” Lily toyed with him. George seemed to appreciate it. He always laughed at her jokes, even the truly terrible ones. If that wasn’t the point of a best friend, what was? Lily continued, “Any news?”
“He’s stable. They’re running some tests to see how the heart attack came about,” George explained.
“That’s good,” Lily commented, before changing the subject, “Are you mad at me?”
“What for?” George innocently pondered.
“Picking Oli in English yesterday,” Lily recapped, “I know we normally go together, I…”
“You wanted to help the new boy. I get it. It’s sweet,” George sincerely responded. He was too good, “You fancy him, don’t you?”
“He is pretty hot,” Lily confessed, “I don’t know him all that well yet though.”
“Go for it,” George supported, “You deserve some happiness in the love department.” Lily blushed. George’s compliments were always from the heart, unlike those from the girls which were always laced in subtle digs.
Waiting at the bench, Yasmin was using her free time to sit and read the Bestiary article for the nix in full detail. It seemed too unusual to be true, but she knew from personal experience that much of it was for her.
She was making a mental note of every aspect that applied to her, and every aspect that didn’t. She certainly had the expected psychic abilities. The book called nixes “harbingers of death,”, which made sense after Yasmin found that poor kid’s body without any possible prompt. However, she hadn’t excreted any water like a nix was supposed to. Drew had said she wasn’t a complete nix though, so no surprise.
“A nix, interesting,” Dylan commented, arriving and sitting next to her.
“This is me,” Yasmin mentioned. Jono followed Dylan, sitting opposite them both.
“Wait, when did you realise?” Dylan wondered, surprised.
“Drew told me last night,” Yasmin responded.
“He’s good for something then,” Jono muttered. Before Dylan could ask Yasmin any further questions, she noticed Clara approaching.
“Here comes trouble,” Yasmin announced quietly to the boys.
“Have you thought about my offer?” Clara queried.
“Offer?” Yasmin was confused.
“I’ve thought about it, and I’m in. We’re in,” Dylan revealed, leaving Yasmin baffled, “Let’s find an alpha.”
4: Patience Written by MarthaJonesFan
Nervous, terrified and feeling smaller than ever, Dylan wasn’t looking forward to his first day of high school. Junior high wasn’t the best experience he had ever had – there were very few people he felt he could call friends, and many of the kids picked on him for his sexuality. They didn’t even know he was gay for sure, and not did Dylan at first. Now he knew for sure though.
He had just walked to school for the first time – a tiresome effort but his mum wasn’t going to offer a lift – and instantly, he noticed how big everything felt. Tall buildings and huge, domineering kids. However, there was plenty of eye candy around from the older boys. That was a plus. It was a fresh start for Dylan. He knew nobody there. He was brand new to the area. Any of the kids who bullied him in junior high were miles away now. Although, instead of trying to make friends, as he knew he’d surely fail, Dylan decided to try to get to grips with the building. There was sure to be so many classrooms, and he had no idea where to go.
“Hey,” he heard a kind voice say behind him as he approached the main entrance.
“Oh, hi,” Dylan replied as he turned around to face a girl with wavy, brunette hair. She was pretty and had a sincere smile on her face.
“You’re new here, right?” she wondered. Dylan nodded shamefully, ready for her to stick the boot in.
“Me too. I’m Yasmin,” she introduced, still being polite.
“Dylan,” he replied, not losing grip of his shyness.
“Come on, let’s find out where we need to be,” Yasmin led the way inside. Dylan couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to jinx it, but had he already made a friend? He certainly hoped so.
“What the hell have you done?” Yasmin yelled. Dylan was surprisingly on the receiving end. She was, however, quite understandably frustrated. He hadn’t found a moment to consult her before agreeing to Clara’s plan. Similarly, she hadn’t told him she was going to see Drew. They were even in the secrets department.
“I had to make a decision,” Dylan justified.
“It was a crazy decision. It affects all of us, Dylan. Not just you two,” Yasmin scolded.
“That’s not fair,” Jono defended, “I’m sorry we didn’t discuss it with you, but we had no time. Freddie is sick. If we leave it longer, he could die.” He spoke so clearly, always picking the right words. Dylan found it reassuring to know he had Jono to back him up.
“An alpha increases the strength of the entire pack, including you guys,” Dylan detailed, “If we got an alpha, Freddie might heal quicker.”
Yasmin sighed, “I just wish you consulted with me first. We’re a team. We’re a pack. Apparently.”
“I’m sorry. I was in a difficult spot,” Dylan felt regretful. While he stood by his actions, he couldn’t say Yasmin was being unreasonable.
“So, how do we get an alpha?” Yasmin pondered.
“We don’t,” Drew interjected, arriving at the bench.
Arriving late into school, Lily took her place in English class. She flung her bag down next to Oli and perched on the chair adjacent, but she wasn’t in the mood for their pair work. Yasmin had texted her about Dylan and Clara’s alliance, so Oli was clearly well aware of who she is and what they had done to Josh. Interestingly, Oli didn’t seem all that concerned about her. It was a relief, she guessed.
“How’s Freddie?” Oli asked first.
“Doing better,” Lily replied. A silence followed; Lily didn’t know what else to say.
“You know who we are,” Oli changed the subject, cutting out the middle man, “Does it bother you?”
“Yes,” Lily answered to the first statement, “And no. My brother’s dating a werewolf, why can’t I?” Lily spoke absent-mindedly, then immediately regretted it. She and Oli were not dating. She had gotten carried away. Maybe he hadn’t noticed?
“Oh, you’re dating?” Oli played it coy. Damn, he’d noticed.
“No, but I wouldn’t say no,” Lily hinted. She’d styled it out. Result.
“I could free myself up after school,” Oli smiled.
“It’s a date,” Lily felt a glint in her eyes and her heart flutter. That worked out much better than she’d expected it to.
“Chadwick, Martin, what’s the occasion?” Mr. Marshall yelled over, interrupting the mood. Lily couldn’t be put down though. She had been on many dates over the years, yet this one seemed like she had finally found someone who was worthwhile.
“So, what’s your problem?” Dylan interrogated Drew at the bench that lunchtime. They hadn’t had a chance to speak all day, but for whatever reason, Drew was dead set against the idea of finding an alpha. It was baffling to Dylan – surely, he didn’t want to end up on death’s door like Freddie? He didn’t want any of them to be in danger.
“My problem is you, repeating the same mistakes, putting trust in alphas that have ulterior motives,” Drew answered harshly yet vaguely.
“How is this a mistake? Don’t just say things like that and not explain them,” Dylan scolded. He’d had enough of people not trusting him.
“You wouldn’t understand,” Drew condescended.
“I’m not a kid. We’re in this together. You can’t keep secrets anymore,” Dylan argued.
“Alright. They want an alpha, something that’s not just gonna make us stronger, but them too. They’ll have more power, and who will they want as their alpha?” Drew educated.
“One of them,” Dylan concluded.
“Exactly. It won’t benefit us at all,” Drew noted.
“Except it does. They need us for strength. The bigger the pack, the stronger everyone is. They won’t harm us because it will only be their downfall,” Dylan persuaded. Drew stopped to think.
“On your head be it,” Drew gave in. That was the closest thing Dylan was going to get to approval. It was a result.
Feeling weaker than he ever had, Freddie was getting fed up of the hospital. He had only been there for less than a day, but it was so boring. The same four walls were tiresome, and he only had his phone as a source of entertainment; scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram only occupied him for so long.
“Hello stranger,” George grinned as he opened the door.
“Hey,” Freddie croaked. He even sounded awful. Why wasn’t he healing? That was the best part of being a werewolf.
“How are you feeling?” George queried.
“Great, I fancy going for a run actually,” Freddie sarcastically responded.
“Har har, very funny,” George retorted, “Do you remember anything about last night?”
“Nothing at all. Fat lot of good I am,” Freddie felt bad. He had no recollection of arriving at the hospital in the first place. George nodded without saying a word. He understood.
“I miss you at home. It’s kinda lonely on my own,” George confessed. Freddie wasn’t used to him being so open, but he liked it.
“I miss you too. It’s no fun here. Nobody I can take the piss out of,” Freddie joked. At least he still had his humour, “Seriously though, go home and sleep. I’ll be fine.” Freddie knew he had to look out for his big brother. George had been so strong since their mum died, but everybody had a breaking point.
“I’ll only be bored at home,” George sighed, “It’s not so bad here. I’ve had some company.”
“Oh, who?” Freddie was intrigued. He almost felt popular.
“Dylan was here last night, I told him to go home. Lily came this morning too,” George recalled.
“Oh, I wonder which one of us Lily came to see,” Freddie teased. He had always joked about George’s affections for Lily. They were undeniable, and George had given up pretending he didn’t. At some point, he knew he had to play Cupid and hook them up.
“Shut it,” George blushed, “She’s going on a date later. I encouraged her. That Oli kid who started yesterday.”
Freddie paused. Oli. He remembered now. He and Shania were there last night. That injection was the missing piece of the puzzle.
“You need to get her away from him,” Freddie blurted out, feeling panicked all over.
“Huh, what? Are you alright?” George was concerned. He had that worried look on his face, but he was worrying about the wrong person.
“He did this to me. He caused my heart attack. Lily’s not safe. Go!” Freddie commanded. George listened this time and shot straight off. He knew he wouldn’t ignore a threat to Lily.
As he approached his house, Dylan was excited to chill out in front of the TV. Already, it had been a busier week than he’d had in a while, and he needed to relax.
However, he was slightly irritated to see Clara and Shania stood outside. School was over, and he didn’t think he’d have to worry about anything werewolf-related until at least the next morning. How they knew where he lived was another matter, but perhaps one for another time.
“What are you guys doing here?” Dylan queried as he approached them.
“No time to rest, we’ve got an alpha to find,” Clara told him.
“How though? I mean, there aren’t any other werewolves in Crystalshaw. We can’t just find one in the supermarket,” Dylan wondered.
“Two options,” Clara clarified, “We find an alpha from another pack. You heard about the werewolf that got killed, right? He has his own pack. There are more of them in Crystalshaw than Drew is aware of.”
“What’s the other option?” Dylan cautiously questioned. He was slightly concerned about what he’d learn.
“One of us becomes the alpha,” Clara informed.
“But how? I don’t get it,” Dylan was getting more and more confused. For one of them to become an alpha, they had to kill another, which linked with option one all over again. Besides, Dylan certainly didn’t want to participate in anything like that.
“Alphas can earn their status. Legend has it that a true alpha can be made when a werewolf pushes his or her way through a mountain ash barrier,” Clara explained.
“I thought that was impossible?” Dylan pondered. Drew had never mentioned this.
“It’s rare, but not impossible. Only the strongest can do it. Wanna try?” Clara proposed. He glanced at Shania. She hadn’t said a word to him. He wasn’t sure he trusted her. He had no reason not to trust Clara so far though.
“Let’s do it,” Dylan decided impulsively. What could go wrong? He had nothing to lose.
“You’re almost there, you just need to square-root your answer and there you go, you’ve found out what c is,” Yasmin explained. Jono tried his best to listen in, but after a whole day of school, he was finding it hard to focus on Pythagoras’ theorem. He couldn’t even think of the square root of 25.
“Jono?” Yasmin nagged. He looked up, trying to focus on her, “You look a million miles away. Is it Freddie? Are you worried?”
“No. I mean, I’m worried, but that’s not it,” Jono explained. He felt bad – he had asked Yasmin for some extra maths help but he needed to speak to her privately, “It’s Dylan. I’m worried.”
“I thought you agreed with him about Clara,” Yasmin recalled.
“I did, but I’m still sceptical. What if this doesn’t work out?” Jono pondered.
“Then we’ll be here to give him a helping hand. Don’t worry. We got this,” Yasmin reassured. She was right. No matter what happened with Clara, Dylan still had his pack behind him. That wasn’t the only issue, though.
“One more thing,” Jono continued, “I think his mom is having an affair with the Sheriff.”
“Wait, what? How do you know? Does Dylan have any idea?” Yasmin was gobsmacked.
“Long story, but he has no idea. I want to tell him but it’s not my place,” Jono expressed his dilemma.
“I guess it’s not an affair if they’re both single,” Yasmin considered factually.
“I just don’t want him finding out accidentally. He doesn’t show it but he’s sensitive,” Jono worried.
“You don’t have to tell me. He doesn’t like change either, remember the drama over Mrs. Johnson’s seating plan last month?” Yasmin remembered.
She was right. Dylan loved routine. School, “mom time,”, homework and bed. Anything that disrupted that routine bugged Dylan like hell.
“What can we do?” Jono wondered. It was the million-dollar question.
“There’s nothing we can do. It’s all up to Caroline. Like I said about Clara, we’ll just have to be there to pick up the pieces,” Yasmin sensibly suggested. She was right again. It was a waiting game, and Jono had to learn patience.
Bristling with excitement, Lily could hardly wait for her date. Although she was filled with nerves, the fact she was going to be spending time up-close and personal with Oli could only be a good thing. Besides, it was her first time dating a werewolf. It had to be worth the wait.
She was waiting outside the cinema down town, her first time there in a few months. They were intending to watch Love, Simon on Jono’s recommendation. Dylan said they both cried their eyes out, which said a lot. Jono almost never cried at a film or TV show.
“Hey,” Oli approached, interrupting Lily’s train of thought, “You look gorgeous.” Lily always appreciated a compliment, especially when she had put so much effort into her appearance. She only wore lipstick in terms of make-up and had picked up a stunning dress after school in town. It was a dark blue and fit her small frame perfectly.
“You too,” Lily blushed. Oli was wearing a light blue shirt and cream chinos. He totally rocked the smart-casual look.
“Ready to go in?” Oli questioned. He seemed pretty relaxed; nothing like how Lily felt.
“Sure,” Lily shyly responded. He held out his hand and Lily gently slotted her fingers between his. It felt blissful, and she suddenly felt much more at ease.
“Stop!” a familiar voice yelled from a few metres away. Lily spin around. George was running as fast as he could towards them.
“What are you doing here?” Lily was baffled. Why had George arrived? Was Freddie okay?
“You need to get away from him. He’s not safe,” George panted. He was growing more and more confused by the second, “He hurt Freddie.”
“What? This can’t be…” Lily was trying to process the information. She looked to Oli, “Is this true?”
Instead of answering, Oli placed his arm around Lily neck within an instant. His claws were primed against the bare skin, ready to slice. Lily had never felt so vulnerable as she noticed the horrified look on George’s face. He looked how she felt.
Jumping the Chadwick house security gate was no issue for Drew, nor was a leap up to Jono’s bedroom window. Their parents worked busy schedules, Jono was at Yasmin’s house and Lily was on a date. That meant the coast was clear for Drew to have a private chat with their special guest. Josh’s face was a picture when Drew burst through the open window.
“What the heck?” Josh was stunned as he jumped off of Jono’s bed and backed against the far wall.
“We need to talk,” Drew commanded. He noticed a familiar scent in the room, beyond that of Jono’s cologne, but he couldn’t figure it out.
“I have nothing to say to you,” Josh tried to ignore, focusing on watching the television.
“That’s alright, we’ll go to plan B,” Drew rapidly approached Josh and mercilessly slammed his claws into the back of Josh’s neck. It was a trick that alphas normally used in his past experience, but he had taught himself well while the hunters were taking over. It was the perfect skill as long as it was performed with care and attention.
As soon as the sharp claws broke Josh’s soft skin, Drew felt like he wasn’t in the room anymore. Cautiously, Drew navigated his way through Josh’s memories, looking for exactly what he needed.
After what felt like a long time, Drew backed out. It had only been a matter of seconds in reality; always disorientating for Drew.
“What was that?” Josh immediately broke away, rubbing the back of his neck. He was showing just how inexperienced an alpha he really was in his ignorance.
“You’re telling the truth,” Drew acknowledged. He sat down on the bed, thinking things through. He was so sure that Josh was bad news, but he needed help before he came to any conclusions. He had to speak to Dylan.
Then it twigged. That familiar scent. He should have identified it in an instant. In Josh’s mind, Drew had seen the boys’ toilets at school. Josh stumbled in, dripping in black blood. The same black blood he saw just the day before. Why didn’t he suss it out instantly? Perhaps Josh’s change in status came with a new scent.
“The school, why did you go there?” Drew interrogated.
“I wanted to speak to Freddie in private. I followed his scent, but I was wounded. I’d only just escaped from Clara,” Josh admitted, “She’s bad news, Drew. She only wants status for herself. I need you to help me convince Dylan.”
Drew considered it. It was a tempting offer, even taking into account Josh’s previous form.
Stood around a broken circle of mountain ash in Drew’s bunker, Dylan glanced at Shania and Clara. Shania looked as vacant as ever, clutching a jar that looked very uncomfortable for her. No surprise – it contained a large amount of mountain ash that Drew kept as a security measure. Clara on the other hand seemed much more relaxed. She was focused and in the zone.
“Who’s going first?” Shania questioned. It was the first time Dylan had heard her speak. She basically seemed to be Clara’s lapdog.
Clara made eye contact with Dylan, asking him if he wanted to go first without uttering a word. Dylan shook his head. He didn’t fancy taking that leap into the unknown.
“I will,” Clara then volunteered. She confidently stepped over the mountain ash barrier. The circle was wide enough to situate her, and the fact it was broken meant that Clara could step over it with absolute ease.
As soon as she was inside, Shania tipped some more mountain ash to complete the circle. Now Clara was trapped. She placed her hand against the invisible barrier and it glowed a pale blue, like a ripple effect. Clara withdrew her hand, as if it had repelled her.
“Good luck,” Dylan smiled kindly. He didn’t know what to expect, but he was hoping it would work out. Clara prepared herself, taking deep breaths to calm herself down.
Creeping downstairs, Yasmin and Jono went to fetch a drink each. Jono was only supposed to be there until six o’clock, but it was now almost eight and her dad hadn’t cottoned on. He would go ballistic if she had disobeyed him, but they wanted to investigate and bounce ideas off each other with regards to Dylan and Josh.
Yasmin had signalled to Jono that he had to be silent, especially on the godawful creaking staircase they had. Yasmin listened intently for any clues as to where her dad was in the house. Curiously, it was dead silent. No kitchen appliances being used, no TV blacking out, just pure silence across the entire house.
“Wait here,” Yasmin whispered to Jono halfway down the staircase. She rushed into the room located to the right of the stairs and peered through the window. Her dad’s car wasn’t on the driveway outside.
is clear,” Yasmin called out.
“Nobody home,” Jono bounced into the living room with her.
“No, He didn’t say he was going anywhere tonight,” Yasmin was stumped. He always told her where he was going. He expected it in return from Yasmin and was a big believer in practising what he preached.
“Err, Yasmin, you might want to see this,” Jono ominously warned. A shiver immediately travelled down Yasmin’s spine as she turned away from the window. Jono had picked up a book from the coffee table and was holding it up to her. The horror in Yasmin’s system soared as she read the book’s name.
Lily was horrified. Oli’s claws were an inch away from tearing through her neck. George’s face spelt everything out. He wanted to help Lily but was too scared; she knew she would feel the same in his position.
“Please Oli, you don’t have to do this,” George tried to persuade.
“I didn’t want to. Really, I didn’t, but if you’re going to get in my way, I might have to,” Oli threatened.
“I’m not, I’m not,” George quickly replied, “Do what you need to do, just let Lily go.” Oli didn’t reply. Every second felt like an hour for Lily. She just wanted it to be over. Surely Oli wouldn’t dispose of her as easily as that? How did George even find anything out?
“What is this all about?” Lily wondered. Perhaps she could talk her way out of this.
“He and that Shania girl, they poisoned Freddie. That’s why he had a heart attack,” George explained. That justified George’s involvement, but Oli’s motivations remained confusingly unclear.
“Why would you do that?” Lily questioned as Oli moved his claws closer to her skin. He was feeling threatened, and Lily couldn’t tell if that was good or bad news for her.
“We need an alpha, and the only way Dylan would agree to an alliance was to put one of his own pack in danger. Make him realise how much he needs one,” Oli enlightened. It made sense – Drew always said packs were stronger with numbers.
“He’ll be furious when he finds out you deceived him,” Lily responded, “He’d be even more furious if you killed me. Don’t do it. No-one wins.”
Oli didn’t reply. A few moments passed; the deafening silence was painful. Then, much to Lily’s relief, Oli let go. Before she could turn around and speak to him, he had raced off, obviously ashamed. She embraced George in a warm hug, delighted to be safe again.
“Thanks,” she smiled.
“No problem,” George casually replied, “But we need to talk.”
The blue ripple effect shone brightly around both of Clara’s hands. Dylan’s eyes were fixated on her and whether she would be able to penetrate the barrier. It was like nothing he had seen before. Grains of rock in a circle were somehow so powerful against werewolves. Yet seemingly not as indestructible as they thought if Clara’s story were true.
Dylan took a quick glance to his right. Shania was just as fascinated as he was. She was holding a leaf blower in one hand – the only way any of them could free Clara if she failed.
Speaking of Clara, she was putting all of her effort into pushing against the barrier. Sweat was dripping from her forehead as she bared her teeth, focusing completely on the mission at hand. Every ounce of strength was being used.
The ripples grew bigger and bigger, but the barrier wasn’t budging. Clara was yelling, forcing herself forward, but it still wasn’t enough. In an instant, Clara shot back against the back of the barrier, collapsing into a heap in the middle of the circle.
Immediately, a startled Shania flicked the switch on the leaf blower and blew the mountain ash away from Clara. The seal was broken.
Dylan was shaken. He immediately rushed to her aide, feeling hot and exhausted with anticipation. He checked Clara’s pulse – still going, she was just unconscious.
“She’ll be fine,” Dylan told Shania. His phone buzzed. A new text. It was from Lily – “Clara is dangerous. Get out.” What did that mean? Clara had been nothing but pleasant thus far, despite his initial concerns. She seemed to want the same things as Dylan, and unlike Josh, she hadn’t given him a reason to be sceptical. However, he trusted Lily. She wouldn’t have said something like that unless he actually was in danger.
“I gotta go,” Dylan excused himself, nervously attempting a getaway.
“Not gonna attempt it yourself?” Shania interrogated.
“I’ll pass for now,” Dylan casually responded. He didn’t want to sound panicked even though his heart was setting new records for speed. As he went to open the bunker door, he was blasted backwards as the horrific sound of gunfire filled his ears.
“He can’t know, surely this is some sort of mistake?” Yasmin panicked. Jono watched on as she paced back and forth across the room, stress levels soaring.
Jono understood how she felt. He knew he didn’t want his own parents to find out that he was dating a werewolf. Any positive thoughts they had about Dylan would be cancelled in an instant.
“What do you think it means?” Jono tried to fill Yasmin’s logical-thinking space while she was busy worrying. The only problem was that he was much less logical than she was, but he made up for it by being great at details, “Think of the possible answers before we freak out.”
“Maybe, err, maybe he helps werewolves like Mrs. Johnson,” Yasmin optimistically thought. A sensible and likely idea.
“Maybe he is a werewolf,” Jono suggested.
“That’s a terrible idea, there is no way he’s a werewolf. Wouldn’t that make me part-wolf?” Yasmin rebutted. Her tone sounded rude but Jono let it slide – she was stressed.
“Perhaps, depends on when he was bitten. Besides, it’s just an idea, and we have no proof to rule it out,” Jono considered.
“I would know. Trust me,” Yasmin seemed confident.
“Alright, so what else?” Jono thought. One more idea filled his mind, but he was undecided as to whether he could let Yasmin worry.
“I don’t know, maybe there’s a clue in the book,” Yasmin picked it up off the table and out slid a sheet of paper, folded neatly. Jono instantly grabbed it and saw a long list of names filling the sheet from top to bottom.
“Oh god,” he muttered, examining it. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
“What?” Yasmin impatiently questioned.
“It’s a list of werewolves in Crystalshaw. Drew is on it, with Oli, Shania and Clara, but not Dylan,” Jono detailed, “It’s a hitlist, which means…”
“Don’t say it,” Yasmin cottoned on. This is what Jono had considered and feared. Her worry was going into overdrive.
“He’s a hunter,” Jono said regretfully. Yasmin dropped to her knees, losing every ounce of strength in her legs. Her whole world was collapsing, and Jono had nothing but sympathy.
Looking frantically around, Dylan was trying to take cover. The bunker was a very restricted place and there were only so many places to hide, although the metal bookcases were a good shield. He needed to look after himself first and foremost, but Shania and an unconscious Clara were both in the room too and he felt protective. Lily’s text hadn’t been forgotten though – if they were dangerous, he needed to have as little to do with them as he could.
His senses were all over the place. Focusing his hearing was much tougher than usual thanks to the amount of noise going on around him. All he could smell was the terrifying scent of gunpowder and the room was smoky and dark, obscuring his vision.
He tried looking for both Clara and Shania, but there was no sign. Even the spot where Clara was lying was empty. Had she recovered and moved herself? Had Shania moved her out of harm’s way? Or had they caught her? Dylan couldn’t afford to worry about her too. It was every man for himself in that room.
He crawled along the floor, remaining sheltered behind the bookshelf, inching closer and closer to the door. Whoever they were, they all seemed to be inside the room, as Dylan noticed the doorway was clear. This was his moment.
Without thinking any further, Dylan made a run for it, his heart panting faster and faster. He legged it out of the door, not turning back. Gunshots fired in his direction as bullets bounced off the wall in front, only just missing his head. They had seen him.
His legs refused to stop as he reached the ladder, hauling himself up to save time. He saw the night sky above, the moon almost full. Only a couple of days away, in fact. Strangely, it lined up perfectly with his birthday. He wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad coincidence.
Regardless, he clambered onto solid ground and kept on running. Further and further away, so that the hunters couldn’t catch him. However, he feared it would only be a matter of time.
5: Birthday Written by MarthaJonesFan
28th February. Dylan’s favourite day of the year. On this day, he was the centre of attention for everyone, and for once, he didn’t hate that.
Although, that said, he never failed to feel uncomfortable when people sing “Happy Birthday,”.
The people who sang and attended his parties seemed to vary each year. Assorted family members used to visit, and maybe one or two friends from elementary if he were lucky, but this was only his second birthday in Crystalshaw. Family had sent cards with money inside, avoiding the journey to see him, meaning it was just him and his mum on his special day.
He rolled over in bed to see the time. 7:00am. He still had to get ready for school. Ugh. Dylan clambered out of bed and checked his phone. Instantly, he saw a mass of notifications. People on Facebook that he barely knew were posting birthday messages. He wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or not.
However, among the messages was a loving, heartfelt birthday wish from Jono, basically gushing over him. Four pictures accompanied the mini-essay, and it was heart-warming to read. Dylan had heard other people talk about the “honeymoon phase,” in relationships, and it seemed to vary in length, but Dylan was praying that his honeymoon phase with Jono would never end.
His birthday was a welcome distraction too, from everything that was happening around him. It had been two days since he last heard from Clara and Shania, and no matter how dangerous they were, Dylan couldn’t help worrying. What’s more is that it was the full moon, and Freddie was being discharged from hospital just in time. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a relaxing day after all.
Home sweet home, Freddie thought to himself as he collapsed onto his own bed for the first time that week. He had never realised how much he missed it.
“No time for sleep lazy ass, we’ve got school,” George poked his head around the door.
“School? Come on man, I’m too ill for school,” Freddie lied. He might as well play up the injured act for as long as could.
“Nice try, I know you’ve got super-cool healing powers, you’re not ill at all,” George responded, quashing the idea, “Besides, it’s the full moon tonight. You need to be on fine form.”
George left him to it. It was beyond weird that George now knew Freddie’s secret. He seemed cool with it, but it felt quite exposing for Freddie. That whole aspect of his life was now on show to his brother, whether he liked it or not.
“Hey,” a voice timidly came from the doorway. It was Yasmin, peeping her head sheepishly round.
“Hi,” Freddie smiled, sitting himself up on the bed. It was unusual to see Yasmin, she must have had a reason to visit, “Is everything alright?”
“That’s what I came to ask you,” she entered the room and sat next to him, “How are you?”
“Okay I guess. Glad to be home,” Freddie smiled. It was nice for someone to express their concern so sincerely, “Have you heard from Dylan today?”
“Not yet, I don’t think there’s any sightings. Don’t worry, we have it under control,” Yasmin explained. The thought of Clara, Shania and Oli being on the loose unsettled Freddie. He had no idea what their motivations were, and the fact they needed all of them alive to be a part of their pack somehow felt even more unnerving.
He glanced into Yasmin’s eyes, and somehow, for a reason he couldn’t explain, he felt safe. They exuded comfort and warmth. He believed every word she said, as she’d never given him a reason not to. A moment of silence passed as Yasmin caught him looking. He looked away as if he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have.
“I should get to school,” Yasmin broke the silence. Freddie felt almost disappointed.
“I’ll see you there,” he regretfully responded, opting not to persuade her to stay. She smiled politely at him and left the room. Freddie’s heart had never pumped harder. He got the sense it wasn’t one-sided, either.
As much as Dylan enjoyed walking to school, listening to Jono’s playlist, he was pleased to be getting a lift that morning. Jono’s cute little car pulled up outside, and Dylan raced out to see him.
Getting out of the car just in time, Dylan flung himself into Jono’s arms. It was the best place ever, and he would spend every second there if he could.
“Happy birthday my love,” Jono smiled, before locking lips with Dylan. He then grabbed an envelope from the car seat and handed it over, “Open it.”
Dylan was intrigued. Jono had been promising a super exciting present, and his excitement levels were peaking. He ripped open the envelope and saw a brilliant card of two teddy bears hugging. Impressively, both were wearing blue, signifying two men. It must have taken some going to find such a card, they were irritatingly rare.
He opened the card, and out fell a note. He kept it in hand while reading the message in the card itself:
“Thanks,” Dylan uttered. It was a beautiful card, and he was stunned to be experiencing so much love. It was totally flattering.
“Read the note,” Jono eagerly suggested. Dylan obliged, unfolding the pink sheet of card, and he read:
Dylan couldn’t believe his eyes. He was not expecting such an incredible gift from Jono. It was worth the hype and then some.
“Thank you,” Dylan was lost for words, but he managed to gather some gratitude, “You didn’t have to do this.”
“Only the best,” Jono smiled. He looked just as excited as Dylan felt. It was the warmest feeling. He couldn’t wait.
“I’m still not sure this is a good idea,” Josh sighed, sitting down at the bench at school. Drew parked himself opposite. He’d managed to drag Josh into school again, and Jono surprisingly agreed that it would be a good idea. For a chance, those idiotic humans Dylan insisted on involving weren’t standing in his way.
“You need to earn Dylan’s trust. You won’t do that stuck in Jono’s bedroom,” Drew noted.
“I guess,” Josh didn’t sound convinced. It was a far cry from the days where Josh was a ruthless murderer.
“It’s his birthday, I wouldn’t give him any nasty surprises if I were you,” Lily commented, joining the bench.
“Oh great, a whole day of people spaffing themselves silly over him,” Drew groaned. He wasn’t much of a fan of birthdays. He’d not really had anybody to celebrate with in recent years. Nobody that truly understood him anyway.
“Don’t be jealous,” Lily scolded. So much for free speech.
“Here comes trouble,” Drew changed the subject, noticing Freddie approaching, looking sheepish and keeping his head down. George swaggered over behind him.
“Shut it,” Lily quickly muttered to Drew, before spinning round to greet the boys, “Hey you two. Welcome back Freddie.”
“Hi,” Freddie quietly muttered. Drew could smell the worry on him a mile away. After what had happened, he couldn’t really blame him.
He and George sat next to each other, George purposely placing himself next to Lily. Never has a crush been more obvious.
On one hand, George was another number for them. The downside was his humanity. They always seemed to have their own agenda that distracted them from the goal.
The school bell rang, forcing Drew to pretend to be human himself for six hours. The sooner he was done with this place, the better.
Taking his seat in biology, Jono was on cloud nine. He had been planning Dylan’s birthday present for months and keeping it secret was a total nightmare. He still hadn’t told his parents the full story though. He said it was a group of friends, including Dylan. He wasn’t out to them yet, and the thought still terrified him. Although, with the amount of time he and Dylan spent together, it was probably obvious.
The white lie was worthwhile though – he glanced to Dylan on his left and he was gleaming. His favourite sight to see.
A less pleasing sight was that of Josh, filtering through amongst the stream of students flocking into the room. Although he believed going back to school was the best thing for Josh, he still had to convince Dylan.
“What’s he doing here?” Dylan’s good mood had vanished in an instant.
“He can’t just sit at mine all day,” Jono reasoned. He was fed up of Josh leaving empty plates and mugs all over his bedroom and justifying his presence to his parents was becoming tougher.
“He’s dangerous,” Dylan debated. He wasn’t wrong.
“It’s not like he’s under lock and key at mine,” Jono added, “He could’ve gotten out at any time, but he didn’t. Don’t you think we can cut him some slack?” Dylan sighed. He didn’t have a choice in the matter at this point, but Jono hoped he would be able to roll with the punches.
Glancing over at George, Lily was trying to figure out how he must be feeing. It had only been a few months since she found out about Dylan herself. The difference is that one of George’s own family was a werewolf, even though Dylan now felt like her own family. He wanted to know every detail, so Lily obliged. She told him about Josh, about Drew, and most importantly, about Oli. He was horrified that she had willingly put herself in a potentially dangerous situation, but the part he didn’t seem to understand was how convincing Oli was. Lily totally felt smitten by him. She believed there might be something more than just a cheap date in it. Turns out she didn’t even make it that far.
“Are you alright?” she politely enquired
“Yeah,” George casually yet bluntly replied. There was something more going on.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. You weren’t in any danger and it wasn’t my place,” Lily justified. That seemed to be the root cause of George’s problem; the fact that Lily didn’t tell him sooner. He didn’t reply to Lily. It was quite rude at that point, “Look, it’s Dylan’s birthday today. I’m throwing a party at mine tonight. Wanna come? You can be my guest of honour.”
“Compliments don’t work on me,” George bluntly said, before cracking up with laughter. Lily was bemused.
“What? You had me grovelling for nothing?” Lily whacked him playfully on the arm.
“I’m sorry, it was too fun to resist,” George giggled, “I’m not mad. I’m trying to make light of things. And yeah, I’ll be your guest of honour, it better be worth my while.” Lily couldn’t help laughing too. George was a total dork but the best friend she had. The thought of him being pissed at her was more than a little upsetting.
The school day dragged and Dylan was so relieved when the bell rang at 3pm. He was too excited to get home and chill with his favourite people for the night. He hadn’t arranged any sort of party this year and had instead invited Jono and Yasmin round to watch a movie with snacks, and, as a special treat only, a bottle of rosé wine to share from his mum. Caroline was usually uber strict on Dylan’s alcohol consumption, but she allowed him a glass on special occasions.
Jono opened the passenger car door for him, like a chauffeur, while Yasmin hopped in the back.
“Alright, so there’s one more surprise,” Jono said as he pressed play on Spotify on his phone. “I Like It,” by Cardi B began blaring out, causing Dylan to subconsciously tap his foot.
“Huh?” Dylan’s ears perked up. He wasn’t so big on spontaneity, but he trusted Jono.
“Lily’s throwing you a party later. No pressure, casual clothes, and absolutely no singing “Happy Birthday,”,” Jono revealed. So much for the quiet evening in. It did sound pretty good though, and the lack of singing sealed the deal.
“I did decorations, Lily did the guestlist and Jono’s DJing,” Yasmin continued. That all sounded pretty great. Jono on DJ duty was particularly brilliant – nobody knew Dylan’s taste better.
“Oh my god, thank you guys,” Dylan awkwardly reacted. He couldn’t find the right words to say, but it was so nice to have this many people on the lookout for him. He just had to make sure he yanked Freddie out come full moon.
Strolling out of lesson, Freddie was sticking close to Drew. He’d been joined at the hip to at least one person all day long, not wanting to be on his own.
Oli was lurking around, and there was still no news on Clara or Shania. Dylan was now assuming they were taken by the hunters, but the only information they had involved Yasmin’s dad, and Yasmin wasn’t willing to talk about it. It was fair enough – nobody wanted to believe their parents were bad. He struggled to think of anything bad to say about his mum, although at least Yasmin’s dad was still around.
“Coming tonight?” Drew wondered. He didn’t sound very enthused.
“I’m not really in the mood, but George is going and I don’t really wanna be on my own,” Freddie sighed.
“Don’t forget it’s the full moon too,” Drew added. Ugh. How could he forget? No full moon had been a smooth experience thus far, and he wasn’t convinced this one would be any better.
“I know. Dylan’s gonna make a quick getaway and help me,” Freddie explained.
“Wanna make a quick getaway now?” Drew offered, “I’m gonna do a bit of digging on Yasmin’s dad. The less she knows about it, the better. We’ll show our faces at the party a little later.”
“Alright,” Freddie was interested. It was more his kinda thing anyway. He fancied himself as a private detective one day.
Making the final adjustments in the kitchen, Lily was pumped for the night ahead. It was her first party in a couple of months, since her hugely successful New Year’s Eve do. Now she had to do Dylan proud. She had invited everyone he knew, which was a rather limited pool of people, but sometimes smaller get-togethers were the best.
“Honey,” Helen poked her head around the door, “Remember I need this place spotless by the time we get home.”
“Yes mom, I promise,” Lily groaned. Her mum gave her the same speech before every party. Although, she normally ranted about ensuring there was no alcohol too. Thankfully, she had been spared of that one.
“This is all for Dylan? Seems like a lot for one of Jono’s friends,” Helen pondered aloud. If only she knew.
“He’s my friend too, mom,” Lily tried to deflect.
“I know, but Jono spends a lot of time with him. Do you know if they’re…” Helen wondered. She didn’t finish her own sentence but Lily knew what she meant.
“I don’t know mom, you’d have to ask him,” Lily bluntly replied. She hated lying but it wasn’t her place to say otherwise.
“He speaks to you more than me, that’s all. Your dad and I wouldn’t care either way. We love you both no matter what,” Helen reinforced. Lily nodded and smiled gently. She’d have to pass that onto Jono. Might make coming out that bit easier whenever he does it.
Helen left her to it, and Lily moved to the sink, carefully washing up the posh drink glasses. She looked out of the window in front. It was starting to get dark, but she could still see clearly into the front garden.
Something shook in the bushes. Lily jumped, noticing it instantly. It rustled again. Lily dropped the glass she was holding back into the sink.
Then it appeared. The spine-tingling sight of Oli’s face, peering through the bush. She blinked and rubbed her eyes, her feet frozen to the spot. Looking again, it was gone and the bushes were still.
“You’re hallucinating Lily, stay calm,” she told herself. Not that she believed her own words.
By half past four, Dylan was ready and on the way to his party. They had all gotten ready at Dylan’s house, with Jono and Yasmin bringing their clothes in their schoolbags. Yasmin had bought him a new shirt to wear that night – it was a light pink with faint stripes, and the material was very comfortable. He wore it with some neat jeans, and he felt a million dollars even if it must have costed no more than $30.
Jono was dressed similarly, except he had a navy shirt on. It suited him to a T; he looked drop-dead gorgeous. Yasmin complemented them both with a short but stylish silver dress, designed to stun. Any straight boy would be silly to deny her.
Jono was now driving them away from Dylan’s house. The party began in the car, of course, and the party playlist had “YES,” by Louisa playing out on top volume, instantly putting Dylan in the mood.
“I swear to god, Lily better have invited some fit guys,” Yasmin laughed. She presented it as a joke but Dylan knew she meant it. She seemed to be hoping to party through the drama with her dad. When Jono told her the morning before, his heart broke for her. What a horrible position to be in.
“We got one already,” Jono jested, nudging Dylan’s arm. Dylan blushed. Amongst anyone else, he’d have felt embarrassed, but he enjoyed the compliment and awkwardly laughed.
“Alright, some straight fit guys,” Yasmin corrected herself, “Or anyone else who’s interested in girls.”
“It’s my party, not speed dating. Don’t set your expectations too high,” Dylan jested.
“Oh I don’t know,” Yasmin vaguely added. It sounded like she knew something he didn’t. Maybe they needed a bestie chat away from Jono.
The car pulled up into Jono’s driveway, past the treehouse. Dylan noticed it was lit dimly, much like it was on the night that he first attended one of Lily’s party. It seemed Jono had plenty of plans for the night.
“I thought we could slip away after a bit, you know,” Jono whispered, his eyes nudging up to the treehouse, “Before the full moon of course.”
Ah, the full moon. Dylan almost forgot. He had to keep a very close eye on Freddie all night. He’d gained a better sense of control recently, but Dylan didn’t want to take the risk of leaving him alone amongst a large group of party guests.
Creeping through the back window of Yasmin’s house, Freddie was feeling apprehensive. Drew was leading the way, and while Freddie trusted him, there were a lot of variables that could go wrong. Drew was supposedly sure that Mr. Forsyth wasn’t at home, but where he had gone was another matter.
“Keep an eye out for any CCTV,” Drew ordered. Freddie was already feeling paranoid enough without having to fret about shitty CCTV as well.
“Who has CCTV inside their own home?” Freddie refuted.
“How many werewolf hunters do you know then, dumbass?” Drew retorted, “My point is that you never know. Keep your eyes peeled.”
Freddie took note. It was a fair point. He had absolutely no idea what to expect, although he still doubted the CCTV idea. Yasmin would never have stood for that, and she always got her own way. He liked that about her.
“Take a look around, see what you can find,” Drew ordered. Freddie obliged, and began scouting around the house. He didn’t know what to expect, but he was terrified.
He glanced along the old-fashioned bookcase, filled with old books and a couple of photo frames. In both photos were a young couple – one male and one female. The female looked a lot like Yasmin, but the picture quality said otherwise. It must have been Mr. Forsyth and Yasmin’s mum. Yasmin had never mentioned anything about her mum to him, so whatever happened to her was a mystery to Freddie.
He opened one of the draws in the cabinet next to the bookcase. It had expensive crockery and cutlery stored away carefully. Not what Freddie was on the lookout for. He swept his hair out of his eyeline and rubbed his eyes, feeling exhausted.
“Full moon affecting you?” Drew enquired.
“I guess,” Freddie replied. It just felt like one bad thing after another that week. He pulled the next draw open and saw a set of leys. There were a good ten or twenty keys on the chain, and it wasn’t clear what any of them were for.
All of a sudden, a light passed through the windows. It was a car arriving.
“Quick hide,” Drew ordered. Freddie slammed the draw shut in a panic, leaving the keys untouched. He and Drew immediately hid behind the long, draping curtain that covered the back door. The sound of the key in the lock of the front door filled Freddie’s enhanced hearing, and he knew he had to be dead silent.
Dancing with Jono for most of the evening, Dylan was enjoying a breather. He’d been sipping his glass of wine all night and still had half of it left. He wasn’t much of an alcohol drinker, much to his mum’s pleasure, but a rare treat wasn’t harmful. He was drinking some Diet Coke too to quench his thirst.
He was sweating in exhaustion from all the dancing and singing. The playlist was upbeat throughout – Jono had crafted it in advance so he could enjoy the dancing too. Time had slipped away quickly, and he had spent a solid hour on the dancefloor, enjoying a mix of everyone from Dua Lipa to Mariah Carey. Jono came and collapsed next to him on the sofa, necking a glass of Fanta within seconds.
“Time to escape?” Jono proposed. That was music to Dylan’s ears. He nodded keenly, and Jono led him out of the house and up into the treehouse. As expected, it was decorated exquisitely, with fairy lights hung across the walls, and their makeshift bed laid out in the centre with a rose on top. A couple of candles were lit either side, providing a perfect ambience.
“It looks beautiful,” Dylan gushed. He was in the best place on the planet, and nobody could persuade him otherwise.
“We’re all alone up here too,” Jono grinned devilishly, saying little but suggesting a lot. He leaned in towards Dylan, pressing his lips up against his. Dylan loved the sensation every single time just like the first. Somehow, he had ended up dating the most stunning boy in his year group, and he reminded himself every day of just how lucky he was to have Jono.
He laid down on the bed, picking up the rose and slotting it into his hair like an accessory. He wore it proudly while Jono climbed on top of him, kissing him keenly and excitedly. While he did that, Dylan slipped his shirt off and began unbuttoning Jono’s, avoiding breaking the kiss where possible.
“Are you sure this is alright? You know, full moon and all that,” Jono clarified.
“Are you inferring you might make my heart race and cause a shift? Surely not,” Dylan jested. He was in no mood to reply seriously and only wanted to play around with Jono.
“Innocent little me?” Jono giggled, before closing back in for a kiss. They understood each other perfectly, and it was pure bliss.
Meanwhile, out in the kitchen, Yasmin wasn’t sticking to the soft drinks. It was hard work being sensible all the time, and now she wanted to unwind. Maybe it would help her forget everything shitty that was happening in her life.
She hadn’t seen Freddie yet either, and in a crowd of people that was relatively small, it wasn’t difficult to suss out who was and wasn’t there. Thank god she’d seen Dylan sneak off without realising. He shouldn’t have had to worry on his big day.
“What’s up?” Lily approached, sounding casual.
“I feel like everything’s gone to shit,” Yasmin bluntly put. She was a little tipsy by this point and was in no mood to hide her true feelings.
Lily pulled up a couple of bar stools and they sat down facing each other. Yasmin carefully placed herself down, trying her best not to lose balance. She focused on Lily in front, looking at her pretty face. If only she were interested in girls instead. Life would be so much easier.
“You know your dad will love you no matter what, right?” Lily reminded, speaking softly.
“He won’t love what I am. I’m part nix, isn’t that totally against what he stands for?” Yasmin ranted, trying to speak as coherently as she could.
“He hunts werewolves, not nixes, how can you assume any of this?” Lily considered. She was asking everything Yasmin had already considered in plenty of detail. She’d hardly thought of anything else for the past two days.
“Why wouldn’t he? The entire concept is the same. Besides, if he doesn’t hate me, he’ll certainly stop me seeing Dylan,” Yasmin sighed, before adding, “And Freddie.”
“I didn’t know you and Freddie were close,” Lily noted. Yasmin feared she had already said too much, but there was too much alcohol in her system for her to think straight. At least it proved she didn’t heal like a werewolf, Dylan would never be able to get drunk.
“We aren’t, yet,” Yasmin teased, giggling. Lily laughed a little too, connecting the dots.
“Is he here?” Lily glanced around, trying to spot him.
“No, but he said he would be,” Yasmin answered, “So did Drew.”
“I’ll ask George, hold here,” Lily got up. Yasmin picked up her wine glass and took another gulp. Drowning her sorrows sounded more appealing than confronting her demons. Enough chat for one night.
Skipping into the living room, Lily saw George collapsed on the sofa. He looked sweaty and like he had been giving too much effort on the dancefloor. Lily laughed to herself. He was too adorable. She strolled over and collapsed next to him.
“Is the old man too tired?” she teased.
“Oh no, I’m just saving my energy for later,” George replied, trying to sound as alpha-male as possible. Lily shook her head while laughing.
“Hey, is Freddie here?” Lily changed the subject.
“He said he’ll come later. Something about an errand with Drew,” George recalled, “At least I’m here.” Lily laughed again. George had such a good sense of humour. Lily barely stopped laughing when talking to him. She looked into his eyes, and he met her gaze. Before she knew it, time seemed to stop, and she and George might as well have been the only people in the world.
George moved his head in closer towards her, and their lips touched. George was gentle, and his lips felt so beautifully soft against hers. She reciprocated, enjoying the sensation of the butterflies bubbling in her stomach. George backed off carefully, yet to face Lily’s approval, resuming eye contact. He giggled awkwardly, and Lily joined in. She hadn’t seen him in a romantic way before, but suddenly, everything made sense.
Freddie’s heart was pounding. He could hear it so vividly and loudly amongst the silence of the house. He was worried that Mr. Forsyth would hear him. It was easy to forget that his enhanced hearing made everything sound louder, but he had no idea just how loud he was. His heartbeat, his breathing, it all sounded way too loud. It made Freddie exceedingly uncomfortable.
He was quivering in fright. There was so much that could go wrong. Logically, a hunter is armed, and Freddie was terrified of ending up on the wrong end of a gun. Healing or not, werewolves weren’t invincible. A bullet could still kill.
Drew wasn’t making eye contact with him, not that he expected anything more. Both of them were too focused on survival.
Footsteps grew closer to him as Mr. Forsyth moved inside the house. Freddie heard one of the cabinet draws opening, followed by the jingling of keys. Those same keys that he saw. He paid close attention to his hearing, listening to the direction of the footsteps. They moved from his right to his left, and then came the click of a lock opening. Seconds later, the lock clicked shut again, and the footsteps paced away, like the sounds he’d heard before were recorded and reversed. The front door clicked shut once again and the car screeched off.
Phew. That was too close a call for Freddie’s nerves. Immediately after the car noises faded out of earshot, Drew shot out from behind the curtain and towards the cabinet that stored the keys.
“What are you doing?” a flabbergasted and panicked Freddie queried.
“What do you think?” Drew vaguely responded as he began testing each individual key on the locked cabinet opposite.
“We need to get out of here,” Freddie sensibly suggested. Drew ignored, willing to put himself on the line. Freddie sighed, feeling uncomfortable. He wanted out, sooner rather than later.
“Got it,” Drew cried out in relief. He shot the draw open and his fast movements immediately stopped. He looked shell-shocked.
Curious, Freddie took a peek too. He saw the gruesome sight of numerous weapons – a couple of guns, a small bow-and-arrow, and a large knife. A knife with blood on it.
Catching his breath, Dylan rolled back onto the bed. The comedown was always shitty, but the high was more than worth it. He looked back at Jono, who made eye contact. They laughed together before kissing again.
However, disrupting Dylan’s bliss came the crashing sound of a window shattering in the house. Trouble was below. Jono heard it too, and suddenly, any hopes of tranquillity were dashed by the racket of noise and screams.
Worried, Dylan peered down from the treehouse entrance. As long as they kept down low, they could be completely out of view from anyone on the ground.
Down below, Dylan’s worst fears were confirmed when he saw the person he feared the most outside Jono’s front door.
“What’s happening?” Jono whispered, still lying in bed.
“Yasmin’s dad is here. Don’t move, we should be safe here, but get dressed just in case,” Dylan suggested.
“In case of what? He doesn’t know about you,” Jono noted.
“In case circumstances have changed,” Dylan worriedly considered. Of all the things he’d learnt as a werewolf, the most important one was to expect the unexpected.
6: Earshot Written by MarthaJonesFan
Dazed and confused, Yasmin couldn’t make sense of anything around her. She could barely focus on her own hands, and the room was filled with blurred colours and shapes moving violently in every direction. She felt seasick, like she was on a tiny rowing boat that swished and swayed with even the tiniest of waves.
People seemed to be running all over the place, screaming at the top of their lungs. What the heck was happening? Yasmin tried to make her way to the front door but walking in a straight line was difficult. She felt someone grab her arm and yank her upstairs. She looked up and saw the vague outline of Freddie. Was she hallucinating? Maybe drinking all that alcohol wasn’t such a good idea after all.
“What’s going on?” she slurred.
“Shh,” Freddie whispered, “I’ll explain later. Drink this.” He handed her a bottle of water. She grabbed it keenly and swigged a large amount while hurrying into Jono’s bedroom. He shut the door quickly behind them, and finally, Yasmin could focus. She saw Drew, Lily, Josh and George already there, sat patiently on the bed.
“Where are Dylan and Jono?” Yasmin worriedly asked, seeing they were missing. She was met with blank stares in response, doing nothing to calm her fears. In fact, it just accelerated them.
Keeping his head down, Dylan was terrified. The commotion downstairs had quietened down, but Mr. Forsyth had gone inside and was yet to leave. All sorts of scenarios were running through his mind. Had Drew and Freddie shown up? Were Yasmin and Lily safe? Did they know Dylan’s secret? It was too much to consider.
He was lying on the treehouse floor with Jono. Normally he would be enjoying every second that he’s in close proximity with Jono, but neither of them were in the mood.
“Why are they here? Like, it’s private property, which means them trespassers. We should call Sheriff Taylor,” Jono suggested.
“We can’t. Sheriff Taylor doesn’t know about us. What if he found out and agrees with them? It’s too risky,” Dylan considered.
“They’re still trespassing,” Jono noted.
“They have guns, I don’t think they care,” Dylan rebutted.
“So what can we do?” Jono wondered, “We’re stuck up here, my house is getting trashed, and everyone in-the-know is either missing or inside that house.”
“Not everybody,” Dylan thought aloud. Instantly, he slid his phone out of his pocket. Thankfully, it was already on silent, so any notifications wouldn’t give away his location. He began searching for one particular contact, desperate for a favour.
“What are we supposed to do? Just sit here?” Freddie paced back and forth. He was feeling restless and uncomfortable in his skin. He just couldn’t settle no matter how hard he tried.
“Shut up you idiot. They’re not meant to know we’re here,” Drew harshly whispered.
“Don’t call my brother an idiot,” George immediately leapt to Freddie’s defence. His voice didn’t raise above a whisper still, but he sounded as angry as possible considering.
“Who even are you? You’ve been here for five seconds, don’t start barking orders,” Drew stood up, acting confrontational.
“Stop it!” Lily commanded, looking primarily at George. He always listened to her. As if he would ignore his crush.
“Sorry,” George sat back down like a naughty school kid. Freddie continued pacing back and forth, unable to shake this sudden burst of anxiety.
“For god’s sake, please sit down Fred, you’re making me nervous,” George nagged.
“It’s the full moon. He’s feeling the effects. They sure timed this attack well,” Yasmin explained.
“It’s your dad, could you not have stopped this? Heck, bow do we know you’re not a mole?” Drew ranted.
“That’s enough,” Lily scolded, “We’re all in this together. Now we need to work out how to get our asses out of here.”
“That’s easier said than done,” Josh noted. He had otherwise kept quiet thus far. Freddie still wasn’t sure he trusted Josh, but he had been strangely helpful recently. Maybe he had turned a corner after all, “They’re armed. I’ve met hunters before. They won’t stop at anything until we’re dead.”
“You’ve got a lot in common with them, then,” Yasmin remarked. The tension in the room was off the scale.
“I’m trying my best here,” Josh snapped, clearly offended by her comment, “I don’t know why anything in the past is so important when right here, right now, we’re all screwed.”
Immediately after Josh finished his sentence, he collapsed, dropping to the floor like a lead balloon. He clenched his chest, as if he’d just been shot. Freddie immediately rushed to his aide. Obviously, his reflexes remembered the Josh that used to be his friend.
Immediately, Josh began to convulse, shaking violently as a thick black liquid trickled out of his mouth.
Jono was frustrated. It had been twenty minutes since Dylan made the phone call, and nobody had arrived. The gates on his driveway had been wide open all night thanks to the party, making it exceedingly easy to get in. He still didn’t know if anybody was still in the house; nobody was responding to his messages. Even Lily, who was glued to her phone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Equally, they wouldn’t know where he and Dylan were. Perhaps they needed a signal.
“Dylan, would a howl signal our location to the others?” Jono thought aloud, breaking the anxious silence between them both.
“Yeah, Drew would certainly be able to track us using it,” Dylan replied, “But what if the hunters track it too?”
“You’ve got better hearing than us humans. If they pinpoint us, it’s luck on their part,” Jono considered.
“Gotta be worth a shot,” Dylan nodded, bracing himself. He took a deep breath, and as he exhaled, he unleashed the wolf that he’d spent so much effort burying inside. The howl pierced through Jono’s eardrums and was likely audible several streets away. The hunters would totally have heard it, but Jono just had to pray they wouldn’t get found.
Immediately, Drew recognised the howl. Dylan was part of his pack, he could identify that howl from miles away. This wasn’t miles away though. In fact, it was very, very close to him. Dylan hadn’t abandoned them.
That said, Dylan can’t have known where they were. The howl wasn’t just a signal, it was an invitation for Drew to howl back.
“Was that Dylan?” Lily keenly asked.
“He’s signalling his location to us,” Freddie identified. Thank god Drew had at least one werewolf with him. He’d go insane explaining everything from scratch.
Freddie was still tending to Josh on the floor. He had rolled him over into the recovery position, as instructed by Yasmin, and he had stopped violently shaking. Now he was unconscious. Drew needed him to wake up sooner rather than later – they couldn’t be carrying him around. It would slow them down too much.
That was a problem to be solved later, as Drew’s ears picked up the heart-stopping sound of footsteps coming up the staircase. Had they been rattled?
“Quiet,” Drew ordered as faintly as he could. Everyone stood there confused, except for Freddie who heard it too. A door across the corridor was kicked open, the shattering bang filling all of their eardrums in an instant.
Drew positioned himself in front of the door, ready to fight. He needed to signal back to Dylan, but it sounded like the hunters still didn’t know for sure they were in the house. A howl would confirm it even to a human’s shoddily basic hearing.
Another door bashed open; this time it was nearer. Even Drew flinched. He allowed himself to shift. The wolf was what they wanted, after all. It was only right that they met face-to-face. Drew’s claws were ready for some long-awaited action.
Freddie joined him side-by-side. Perhaps the moon’s impact might actually be a helping hand. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder, ready for that weak bedroom door to be blasted open.
No response. Dylan was getting concerned. Drew should have returned the call. It was unlikely that he wouldn’t have heard it, the howl would have carried for miles to a werewolf’s hearing. This must have meant trouble. For whatever reason, he’s not able to howl back.
Dylan looked at his phone. Still no update from his earlier call. Why was nobody replying to him? Then he heard it. The commotion inside the house. It was probably outside of Jono’s hearing range; the windows were shut and the treehouse wasn’t especially close to the house. Dylan carefully propped his head to the windowsill, allowing no more than his eyes to pop up above it.
“Careful!” Jono whispered boldly, “Is there a problem?”
“I can hear voices. Well, more like shouting and screaming,” Dylan worriedly informed.
“Shit. Who is it?” Jono worried.
“I can’t tell,” Dylan replied, attempting to focus his hearing. He still hadn’t quite worked out how to control his hearing abilities. There was no manual after all.
“Oi!” a deep male voice yelled from below.
“Crap, we’ve been rumbled,” Jono panicked. Dylan’s heart sunk in fear. He glanced his eyes to the ladder, and sure enough, a big, burly, scary-looking man was now climbing the treehouse latter. He had to think of a plan, and fast.
BASH! The bedroom door flung open, almost flying off its hinges. Drew barely flinched. He was prepared.
He could smell the fear on Freddie though. He hadn’t seen hunters before. Not like Drew. He had a score to settle.
Now stood in front was a tall white guy, flanked with a large gun and a scowl. From behind, another figure overtook. He carried no weapons, but if looks could kill, he’d be serving life.
“Hello darling,” he grinned, staring straight past Drew. It was her dad. Finally, Drew could put a name to that face. A face that had haunted his nightmares for many years. He glanced back and saw Yasmin sobbing. She was already drunk, her emotions heightened. She could barely look at him. He continued, “I need to talk with your friends Drew and Josh.”
“No. You can speak to us all,” Yasmin firmly responded. For someone so drunk, she seemed perfectly sober when issuing her commands.
“I won’t ask twice,” Mr. Forsyth patronised. His voice alone sent shivers through Drew’s spine. Memories of being hunted years ago still hurt like hell.
“Save your breath then,” Yasmin stood firm. Lily rubbed her shoulder, comforting and supporting her, “If you have to speak to Drew and Josh, you have to speak to me too.” Drew watched as Mr. Forsyth digested that information, his face sinking with the realisation over what his daughter is.
Heart beating louder than ever, Jono had armed himself. The resources in the treehouse were limited, so he had to make do with the lamp that was being used for mood lighting. The only mood he felt now was fear, and no light would change that.
The thudding footsteps grew louder as the hunter climbed the treehouse ladder. With every step, Jono grew more and more anxious. He stood to the left of the doorway, out of view, with Dylan on the right. His eyes were glowing yellow, ready to go full wolf on the hunter’s ass if needed.
Dylan gave a nod. The hunter was very close. Jono could tell for himself though. He didn’t need any special wolf hearing to hear the hunter’s footsteps grind to a halt just outside the doorway.
Then, silence. Jono had never heard such deafening silence, and it continued for a few moments. What was he doing? There was nothing to pinpoint any movement, and on the wooden surface, every noise reverberated. He looked at Dylan to see if he was picking up anything different. He pulled a frowning expression. Obviously not. He saw Dylan lean his head around the door-ledge, trying to get a clearer picture.
Before he could relay anything back, he was grabbed and yanked outside. Jono sprung to action, standing in the doorway with the lamp primed. He saw the guy holding Dylan in a tight headlock. He produced a blade from his pocket and held it to a struggling Dylan’s arm.
Without a second thought, Dylan’s arm was cruelly sliced open, the wound about five centimetres in length. Dylan winced, and Jono’s heart broke. Why was he doing this? However, as usual, the wound healed within seconds.
“Ah, we’ve got another one,” the guy announced. Shit. Dylan had been caught out.
Before Jono could leap to Dylan’s defence, a loud THWACK sounded. The guy clumped down into a heap on the floor. Dylan moved away in a flash, and they both immediately had to check out what, or rather who, had happened. Stood boldly and proudly behind him was Mrs. Johnson, holding a large gun in her hands.
“Sorry I’m late. The traffic was murder,” she smiled arrogantly. Nevertheless, Jono had never been so pleased to see his irritating biology teacher.
Trying to stay focused was a huge challenge for Yasmin. Her dad had demanded that the others leave them alone to have a private chat; a chat she certainly didn’t want to be having in her current state of mind. As far as she knew, the others were being kept under lock and key in another room.
Ugh. Why was her dad such an asswipe? Her mum never would have stood for this. Unless she was in on it all along. Yasmin was now questioning every inch of her life. It was nothing but shit.
“I bet you’re more than a little confused right now. I know I am,” Mr. Forsyth began. He was trying and failing to sound sympathetic.
“Nope, not remotely,” Yasmin defiantly stated. She wasn’t here for any bullshit, “You want to kill my friends for what they are. It’s sick but it’s not confusing.”
“They’re dangerous animals, sweetie,” Mr. Forsyth attempted to justify. Yasmin scoffed at the word “sweetie,”. Her dad had never shied away from a little bit of patronisation, but the temerity of this was on a new level.
“They’re people like you and me. They’re not dangerous. They’re just different. That’s the problem with this world. It punishes anything and anyone that’s different,” Yasmin ranted. It felt good to get it out of her system.
“And you’d know. I need the details, Yasmin,” Mr. Forsyth commanded. Yasmin considered her response. He was going to find out one way or the other, although she wished her drunk ass had kept quiet in the first place. He needed the full truth.
“I got scratched by a beta,” Yasmin carefully left Dylan’s name out, “It changed me. I’m not a werewolf. I’m part nix. It means I…”
“I know what a nix is,” Mr. Forsyth interjected, “The shape you take reflects the person you are. That’s the myth.”
“Meaning?” Yasmin wondered what her dad was inferring.
“You’re not like them,” Mr. Forsyth conclude, “A nix isn’t ideal but as far as the supernatural goes, it’s one of the most peaceful creatures. No claws, no hunting urge.”
“It’s not one rule for me and one for everyone else, dad,” Yasmin scolded. He didn’t deserve the title “dad,” but she said it like a reflex. Old habits die hard.
“I’d better have a word with your so-called friends,” Mr. Forsyth deflected and stood up. Yasmin sighed. He was too stubborn to listen to her. Drew certainly wouldn’t be so patient.
Meanwhile, just next door, Lily was trying desperately to figure a way out. It was her own bedroom, and never had she wanted to be there less. Her own house had become a prison of sorts, and she couldn’t think of a way out that didn’t involve punching up the hunters stood guarding either the bedroom door or the outside gate. It wouldn’t end well for anyone.
She just had to pray that Jono would come and rescue her. Dylan was nearby, Lily assumed Jono would stick with him. As if he needed an excuse to leave Dylan’s side.
On the bright side, Josh was coming around slightly. He was mumbling the same words over and over again.
“Alpha. Beta. Omega.”
It was obviously pissing Drew off. Not that it ever took much to do that. Freddie was sat crouched into a ball in the corner, looking uncomfortable. George went to approach him, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder.
As Freddie looked up, Lily saw the bright yellow of his eyes. It was the full moon. He was attempting to control himself, and doing the best damn job he’d done thus far. Maybe there was hope for them all.
“Where is Dylan? I thought he was nearby. He should’ve come by now, right?” George turned around towards the group.
“Maybe he is on his way. Dylan’s never let us down before,” Lily responded.
“He’s taking his goddamn time,” George sighed. Lily understood his frustration. She trusted Dylan implicitly, she even considered him family now, but he sure was taking his time to find them.
“I think he’s got his own problems. Look,” Drew commanded. He was gazing out of Lily’s bedroom window onto a view that included the front garden, main gate and treehouse. Lily rushed to join him, peeling back the net and staring into the dark outside world. Oh, how she wished she could be breathing in that fresh, safe air.
The treehouse was still lit, and a large, burly man was climbing the ladder. Oh shit. Dylan and Jono must have still been up there. She watched on with her heart in her mouth, noticing Jono priming himself with a lamp and hiding behind the door. She could hardly watch.
Within an instant, the hunter somehow had Dylan in a headlock. Jono was in front, stood watching helplessly. She feared the worst.
All of a sudden, she noticed Mrs. Johnson stood behind the man, and with a simple whack of the back of her gun, he was on the floor. She breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Maybe we’re not totally out of luck,” Lily smiled, feeling more optimistic. As soon as she finished her sentence, the door behind burst open.
“I need to speak to Drew and Josh,” Mr. Forsyth announced immediately as he entered the room, “The rest of you can go.”
Lily glanced at Freddie, who was keeping his head down. She didn’t want to leave the others alone, but Mr. Forsyth still didn’t know about Freddie. They had to get him out.
“We’ll be fine,” Drew reassured Lily. Obviously they shared the same way of thinking.
“Stay safe,” Lily smiled at Drew. She couldn’t believe she was actually beginning to care for him. She took George’s hand, helping him up, and they both escorted Freddie swiftly out of the room. Thankfully, he kept his head down, eyes out of sight.
“Too much to drink,” Lily explained to Mr. Forsyth on their way out. Then they picked up the pace. She had never wanted to leave her own house so badly.
Racing towards the front door, Dylan was concerned at how quickly and brazenly Mrs. Johnson was walking towards the house, which would almost certainly be riddled with hunters.
“Slow down,” he requested. Mrs. Johnson stopped immediately.
“What’s up?” she asked. She didn’t sound particularly sincere, but equally that seemed to be her default setting.
“We can’t go in there, it’s not safe,” Dylan justified.
“Why not? Jeff did a recce downstairs for me and took out any hunters,” she pointed to a tall, muscly man in his forties with not a single spec of hair on his head. Dylan had seen him with Mrs. Johnson before, but he had never spoken. Quite frankly, he looked terrifying.
“Oh,” Dylan responded, “Let’s go then.” He sighed, feeling like a spare part. He rolled his eyes to Jono, who giggled in response.
The front door was already wide open. Jeff led the way, followed by Mrs. Johnson, Dylan and then Jono. Dylan stepped over one of the lifeless hunter’s bodies. He desperately hoped he was still alive; he didn’t know Mrs. Johnson’s way of working. There was no time to check either way though. His friends were more important in that moment. He had lives to save.
“You should go,” Dylan whispered to Jono, feeling very concerned, “Keep yourself safe.”
“Thanks, but I’m not leaving you. You’ll need my back-up,” Jono smiled. He was too sweet. As they approached the staircase at the end of the corridor, which felt much longer than usual, Dylan heard voices approaching.
“Someone’s coming,” he quietly notified. Jeff immediately primed his weapon and pointed it up the staircase.
“Hold up!” a familiar female voice came from the top of the stairs.
“Don’t shoot,” Dylan ordered, pushing to the front of the procession to see who was at the top of the stairs. Holding her hands up in innocence was Lily, with George and Freddie behind her, “They’re fine, come on down. Where are the others?”
“Yasmin’s dad has them. Josh is barely conscious, Yasmin is drunk and Drew is Drew. His men are armed,” Lily explained, “I’m so glad you’re safe.” She flung her arms around both Dylan and Jono at the same time. Dylan felt her relief and shared it. He knew that Jono would be feeling doubly relieved to see his sister.
“You need to get out of here. You’ll be fine to stay at mine tonight, my mum is working late,” Dylan offered, noticing how uncomfortable Freddie looked. He couldn’t stay there any longer. He was the only werewolf among them that hadn’t yet been exposed.
“Alright,” Lily nodded as Dylan tossed his keys to her. She caught them perfectly as they rushed off through the front door.
“Right, let’s go,” Dylan was ready to resume the mission. Three down, three more to save.
Called into Lily’s room, Yasmin sat on the bed and sulked. She was fed up of her interfering excuse for a father. Drew was stood by the windows, and Josh was sat up on the floor against the wardrobe. He was silent and awake but looking vacant and unfocused.
The door was shut and her dad was blocking it, with a tall guard with short cropped afro hair and a hard face to his left, holding a pile of metal chains. No escape.
“Are you gonna kill us then? Can’t we get it over with?” Drew remarked. Yasmin kinda loved his no-nonsense approach. For a change it was actually coming in handy.
“We have a code as hunters. We don’t just kill anything with claws instantly. However, someone’s claws infected my daughter. Nine times out of ten, you’d have gotten away scot-free, but the scratch of a beta transformed her. I need to know which one of you it was,” Mr. Forsyth spoke calmly, clearly and with plenty of authority.
Shit, Yasmin thought. She knew it was neither of them, but she was protecting Dylan. She hoped Drew would too.
“It wasn’t me. Or him, for that matter,” Drew responded, speaking on Josh’s behalf too.
“Oh, you’re making my job harder, Drew. A shame,” Mr. Forsyth said as he reached behind him. The hunter passed him an electric rod, before approaching Drew with the chains.
“He’s right,” Yasmin cried out. She hated the entire situation, and the thought of anything bad happening to Drew filled her with dread.
“Who was it then, honey? Tell me and I’ll leave these two to get on with their miserable existence,” Mr. Forsyth threatened.
Yasmin was stuck. Helping Drew meant fucking up Dylan’s life. Her dad was guaranteed to be extra annoyed at Dylan. He had never liked him.
Before she could answer, Yasmin noticed a thud outside. Mr. Forsyth turned around too.
“Clarkson, report,” he yelled. He must have been referring to the hunter on the other side of the door. No response, “Jogo, check outside.” He referred to the hunter inside the room, holding the chains, which he subsequently dropped to the ground with a loud bump. He rapidly opened the door, and before Yasmin could process it, a splatter of blood shot across Lily’s room. Sharp claws had slashed Jogo’s throat open without a second thought.
Yasmin sat up, looking to see who it was. There was no way this was Dylan or Freddie. Even the full moon wouldn’t lead them to an act like this. She was right, as he stepped through the door.
There stood Oli, covered in blood, and quite obviously craving more with his deep blue eyes fixated on her dad.
“I think we need to talk,” Oli stated firmly. Instead of replying, Mr. Forsyth slid a gun out of his back pocket and instantly primed it.
“No!” Yasmin yelled. No more death. She leapt out of the bed and wrestled her dad to get the gun.
BANG. BANG. Followed by nothing but silence.
7: Revelations Written by MarthaJonesFan
The plain white walls of the hospital waiting room were driving Dylan crazy. He was reading the tedious notices pinned on the wall about flu vaccinations and blood tests over and over, desperately praying that time would fly. However, the more he hoped, the slower time seemed to go.
He took his phone out, making use of the crummy Wi-Fi in the hospital to browse Facebook. Plenty of birthday messages from old school acquaintances that he hadn’t spoken to in years. He hadn’t browsed them any further since the morning before. All he wanted to do was re-read Jono’s post for him. It was the cutest thing ever. Cute selfies they had taken together were attached, and he loved it with all of his heart. Oh how he wished his birthday night had been spent in Jono’s treehouse, wrapped in each other’s arms, just like they had planned. Instead, he had slept in the hospital waiting room on the deceptively uncomfortable chairs while Jono ensued the others were safe.
What made him even more uncomfortable was Mr. Forsyth, sat a few seats along from him. Strangely, they actually had something in common for once, but it didn’t mean either of them wanted to converse. He still didn’t know Dylan was a werewolf, and Dylan wanted to keep it that way.
“Mr. Forsyth,” a nurse entered the waiting room. Both of them stood up in unison. Mr. Forsyth shot Dylan a dirty glare. He still seemed to think Dylan was below Yasmin’s friendship standards.
“Is she okay?” he asked keenly and nervously.
“She’s stable. We’re doing all we can to accommodate your daughter. The Sheriff will be wanting to speak to both you and her though,” she notified. Mr. Forsyth nodded, sharing the relief that rushed through Dylan’s body.
“What about Oli? The guy who arrived at the same time,” Dylan queried.
“I’m really sorry. It’s not good news. Your friend lost a lot of blood. He died not long after he arrived,” the nurse explained sympathetically.
“You’d better start talking, young lady. I leave you in charge for one night and the house gets wrecked,” Helen was furious. Jono watched a Lily sat on the sofa next to him, head down in shame, on the verge of tears.
“It’s a crime scene, mom, it’s not her fault,” Jono defended his sister.
“Don’t answer back, boy,” Steve interjected condescendingly. Both of their parents were stood facing them, horrified at the state of their house.
“And now two people get shot. Who the heck did you invite to this party? A few serial killers?” Helen continued.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Lily yelled. She had so far restrained herself, but could no longer keep quiet, “How was I to know we’d be held prisoner in our own home? Not one of you have asked how I feel.”
Helen didn’t reply. Jono watched as she struggled for words. He pulled Lily in closer, comforting her. He rubbed his hand gently up and down her arm. He knew this calmed her down after comforting her through many a break-up.
“We just want to know what happened,” Steve spoke softly, “The Sheriff isn’t saying much right now and we need to speak to our insurance.”
“You’d never believe us if we told you,” Jono tried to wriggle out of telling the truth. He looked at Lily. Her brilliant excuse-making brain didn’t seem to be working. Darn.
“Try me,” Steve responded flippantly. Jono took a deep breath. He had to do it. There was no other way out of this shitfest.
“We’re friends with a bunch of werewolves, including Dylan, my boyfriend, and they’re being hunted by Yasmin’s dad,” Jono blurted out. Lily looked at him, surprised yet proud.
“Don’t be stupid, son, we haven’t the time,” Steve sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Well you wanted the truth. Don’t go complaining to me when it’s not what you want to hear,” Jono felt furious. Nobody was listening to him. Sure, what he said sounded ludicrous, but if they had more trust in him, they would surely hear him out. Not even a mention of the boyfriend part either. Perhaps that was a good thing.
Nevertheless, he stormed out of the living room and up the stairs, slamming his bedroom door and collapsing in tears onto his bed. He really wanted to be with Dylan. One of his comforting hugs would’ve been just the remedy he needed.
Slamming his backpack down on the floor, Drew kicked the hard concrete wall of his bunker. He was angry beyond belief at the way the night before had unfolded. The hunters had no goddamn right invading their space like that. It meant war in Drew’s eyes, but Dylan would never agree to that.
What his approach actually consisted of was beyond Drew, though. He had no idea how they would be able to survive this. Although it was alright for Dylan – the hunters didn’t know about him or Freddie. Drew was enemy number one, and that terrified him. He’d gotten too used to the peace and quiet from the hunters in recent years. He’d settled down. He’d perhaps even go as far as to say he had some friends in his fellow pack members. He was settled at home with his nan too. They had helped each other through the loss of his parents. That spurred him on to fight, and to survive. Nobody innocent would die like they did.
Drew spun around. Something was in there with him. He took a sniff. The scent of blood was strong. A werewolf’s blood, too. He opted not to get the claws out – perhaps whoever it was needed his help. Only a select few people knew about his bunker after all. He just had to pray the hunters weren’t using a honey trap. He felt increasingly paranoid after the attack at Dylan’s party.
He turned down the aisle between a row of storage units and the wall, and immediately, he saw Clara and Shania sheltered and covered in dried blood, crouched down in the centre of the walkway.
“Help us, please,” Clara begged.
Scared and anxious, Freddie was feeling paranoid. He tried to act normal, strolling into the hospital, but he felt anything other than calm. He knew there were hunters out there and he was one step away from being found out. His eyes zoned in on Dylan, slouched in the waiting area with his cheek resting on his fist, supported by the arm of the chair.
“Hey,” Freddie quickly sat down, as if he were undercover.
“What’s up?” Dylan smiled. He looked shattered but was putting on a brave face.
“You look terrible. Why don’t you go home and sleep? I can wat here,” Freddie suggested. He wanted to see Yasmin, and he might as well have made himself useful. Plus he wanted to ask her something and get a little niggle off his chest.
“It’s alright. She’s awake, her dad’s in there now,” Dylan mentioned. Freddie’s blood ran cold.
“He’s been allowed near her?” he was repulsed.
“He is her dad, and he’s claiming self-defence, I listened in to his chat with Sheriff Taylor. No matter our differences, neither him nor us want this story to get out,” Dylan reasoned. He was right. That was one thing they had in common. Probably the only thing. He sighed. Then Freddie had a bright idea.
“Maybe he’ll let me in? He barely knows me, and he certainly has no idea what I am,” Freddie suggested.
“Weren’t you playing drunk last night?” Dylan recalled.
“Yeah. I was trying to keep control,” Freddie remembered. He was confused about how this was relevant.
“Good luck getting past him then,” Dylan rained on his parade, “You were drinking underage. He probably hates you more than me.”
“At least he’s not hunting me,” Freddie remained optimistic. Then he had another idea. A better one at that, “Be right back.”
Yasmin’s head hurt. It was feeling busier than ever before. It wasn’t just her own thoughts whirring round and round, but she heard voices too. Whispering away. Telling her their darkest secrets.
Her dad wasn’t helping either. He was sat directly on her left, yapping on and on about how sorry he was. However, she’d not long since had an operation to remove a bullet from her stomach. The doctor said she was lucky to be alive.
He was a dad who had shot his own daughter. He might have been attempting remorse towards her, but there was no such thing for Oli. He was probably celebrating his death inside. Another stinking werewolf gone. No thought given to his age. His potential. His friends and family. Her dad wasn’t perfect, and was mostly absent even after her mum left, but this painted him in a whole new light.
“Do you need any more pillows? I can check with the nurses,” Mr. Forsyth flustered.
“No, dad,” Yasmin was trying her hardest to tolerate him.
“I’ll just go check,” he went to get up.
“Dad, stop!” Yasmin yelled. She had hit breaking point, “You know what, just get out.” Mr. Forsyth looked at her as if she had just murdered someone.
All of a sudden, the fire alarm rang. The piercing pulses of the bell rang painfully through Yasmin’s head.
“We need to move you,” a nurse said as soon as she sped through the door.
“Where to?” Mr. Forsyth nosily asked. He seemed to be suffering from selective memory loss – specifically forgetting the conversation he was just having with Yasmin.
“Down the hall, we need to get your daughter past the firebreak doors. Sir I’m going to have to ask you to evacuate,” the nurse informed.
“But she’s my daughter,” he argued defensively.
“Get out,” Yasmin demanded as the nurse wheeled her bed out. Finally, he listened. He stood watching until Yasmin passed through the fireproof double doors. It was a relief that he has gone, but Yasmin still felt somewhat bittersweet.
Face down on his bed, Jono was feeling lower than he had in a while. He’d opened up to his parents for the first time in months, and they now knew the basic details of both his love life and werewolves. Whether they would ever believe any of it was another matter. At least he had Lily. This proved exactly why he only told her in the first place.
A gentle knock sounded on the door, interrupting his train of thought. Jono didn’t respond. Maybe they would think he was asleep. Alas, the door creaked open.
“Sweetie,” it was his mom. Jono didn’t move. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. That was his default mode when he felt down – silence. Helen continued, “It’s just mom. Can we talk?”
“I guess,” Jono mumbled. He still didn’t move. He felt the bed sink behind him as she sat down carefully. Her hand landed on Jono’s head, carefully caressing his curls. Though he wanted to remain angry, Jono couldn’t deny this calming influence.
“Your dad and I knew about you and Dylan months ago,” she admitted, “Well, we had guessed. You two were spending an awful lot of time together, and I saw you cuddling on the couch a while back. We don’t care who you date. A boy, a girl, it doesn’t matter as long as they make you happy.”
It warmed Jono’s heart to hear those kind words. He wiped tears away as they began to flow uncontrollably like a waterfall. However, he knew full well that this was only half the story. They accepted him dating a boy, but what about a werewolf?
“Everything I said downstairs was true,” Jono reinforced.
“You can understand why your dad and I are a little sceptical though, right honey?” Helen considered. Jono sat up to face her.
“Dylan is a werewolf. He’s not the only one either, and they’re all being hunted,” Jono spoke seriously with a straight face. She had to believe him.
“By Yasmin’s dad,” Helen completed, “Werewolves though sweetie? Aren’t you a little old for that?” Jono sighed. There was a gap of silence that followed, although he might as well have been able to hear the cogs in his mum’s mind whirring away.
“Is he dangerous? Dylan, that is,” Helen said after a minute.
“No, not at all. He’s far from it,” Jono quickly leapt to his defence, “Sure, he has claws and fangs, but he’s about as harmful as a wooden spoon.”
“Okay. I believe you darling,” Helen confessed, “Your dad might take some convincing though. Besides, we have to make sure you’re safe. From anything and anyone.” Jono nodded, accepting her terms. What a huge weight off his shoulders.
Passing Clara and Shania a cup of tea each, Drew pulled up a wooden stool. They were sat in a small triangle facing each other, not saying a word as the girls enjoyed the warmth of Drew’s blankets.
He looked closer at them. Dried blood was smeared all over their faces like war pant, from wounds which must have long since healed. They had been missing for the best part of a week, after all.
He needed to now more though. Where had they been? Why were they back now? Were they rogue like Oli? Somehow Drew figured that Dylan wouldn’t be happy to see them again.
“Have you seen them?” Clara questioned.
“Who?” Drew played dumb. He wanted to be careful about how much information he gave out. No more risks.
“The hunters,” Clara confirmed, “They’re all around us. Hidden in plain sight. They know about the bunker too.”
“Then why are you here?” Drew wondered. Quite how they got in was another matter.
“Double bluff. Shania suggested it. I can’t take the credit,” Clara smiled in Shania’s direction. Shania remained silent but smiled back. She seemed almost scared of Clara, but Drew had never seen them apart. A strange sort of relationship.
“You’re welcome to stay here. There are hunters everywhere, so be on your guard,” Drew suggested. He felt like a mother hen all of a sudden. He smiled at Shania. She seemed like she deserved some kindness.
Sneaking out of the gents’ bathroom after hearing the coast was clear, Freddie switched attention to his nose. The sound of the fire alarm was still sounding, but that section of the hospital had been evacuated or relocated now. He blocked out the horrible ear-piercing noise and practiced following a scent. Specifically, Yasmin’s.
Dylan followed behind, although he’d specifically told him not to interfere. Dylan was considerably more skilled at following scents than Freddie, and he wanted to get as much practice as possible. Besides, he was hoping to have a private word with Yasmin.
Freddie pushed open both double doors in front of him, one hand on each. Somehow it made him feel authoritative. The scent grew stronger beyond the doors. So strong he could almost taste it. The beautiful scent of Giorgio Armani perfume. He’d seen her take it out of her bag on numerous occasions.
He looked at the door on his left and peered through the small rectangular window on the door. There she was, looking pretty lost.
“I’ll leave you to it, I’m gonna go see Jono,” Dylan whispered, leaving Freddie alone. That was easier than he’d hoped. Now was his chance. Nervously he pushed down the door handle and strolled in.
“Hey,” Yasmin smiled, pleased to see him.
“Hiya, how are you?” Freddie sincerely questioned. He felt sick in his stomach. Nerves with a dash of excitement. He was even shaking slightly.
“All the better for getting away from my psycho dad,” she sighed. She smiled jovially as she spoke but Freddie noticed her eyes. They looked sad and depressed. A complete contrast from the beaming grin on her face. She was putting on a front; a convincing one at that.
“Well I’ve always wanted to set off a fire alarm,” Freddie grinned devilishly. Yasmin took a second, obviously digesting exactly what he meant.
“Wait, you, you did it?” Yasmin was gobsmacked. Her eyes finally lit up, and she looked joyous, “Why?”
“To do you a favour,” Freddie admitted, sitting on the chair to her left.
“You’re a lifesaver. Seriously, one more second with him would have driven me crazy. Like, why does he think he can justify his behaviour?” Yasmin ranted, before realising herself, “Sorry. I’ve been keeping it in all day. Boy do I need a distraction.”
This was his moment. Freddie willed himself on. His heartbeat intensified and the butterflies in his stomach seemed to be reproducing. His palms were sweaty and his mouth was dry.
“I’ve got an idea. For a distraction, you know,” Freddie began, trying desperately not to trip over his own words, “Why don’t you let me take you out when you’re discharged? Cinema, dinner, you name it.”
Yasmin looked at him for a few seconds. Time seemed to stop. Each second was painful for Freddie. It seemed to last forever.
“On a date?” Yasmin wanted clarification.
“Yeah,” Freddie replied, giving the impression he was self-assured but knowing he was anything but, “If you want.”
“Yeah. I do want,” Yasmin coyly smiled. Freddie couldn’t believe his luck. He giggled with glee, and placed his hand on hers. It felt incredible. His eyes met with hers – a beautiful hazel colour tinted them, drawing him in. The butterflies had gone, wiped away by Cupid’s arrow, and Freddie had never felt better.
Approaching the front door of the Chadwick house, Dylan was excited to feel the comfort of Jono’s arms. His birthday was amazing for ninety percent of the time, the best birthday ever in fact, but the final part was chaotic to say the least.
On the bright side, he had made it out of the other end. For now, anyway. He put the key in the lock and bounced in, poking his head into the living room.
“Hey Mr. Chadwick,” Dylan greeted politely as he noticed Steve sat in his usual armchair. The news was on the telly and he looked half asleep. He perked up as Dylan’s voice carried across the room.
“Please Dylan, call me Steve. I spend my whole week acting formal at work, we’re all chill at home,” he greeted with a smile.
“Alright Steve,” Dylan giggled, “Is Jono around?”
“Yeah, he’s upstairs. Look Dylan, I hope you don’t mind me giving you some friendly advice, man-to-man,” Steven mentioned.
“Go ahead,” a confused Dylan replied. This was unusual. Steve’s tone sounded serious and worrisome.
“I don’t know if what Jonathan said is true, but if you hurt my son, physically or emotionally, you won’t hear the end of it,” he threatened, “Is that understood?”
“Yes Mr. Cha…” Dylan nervously spoken, correcting himself, “Steve.”
“Go on up,” Steve dismissed him. How terrifying. Had something happened? He was scared to find out.
Nevertheless, he bounded on up the posh staircase. The excitement he felt to see Jono overcame his confusion and worry over Steve’s words. He pushed open Jono’s bedroom door as the excitement bubbled over, just like it did every time he saw him.
“Hey stranger,” Dylan greeted. He saw Jono lying on his bed, face up. His cheeks were red and he looked drained. Dylan perched on the bed next to him, before lying down adjacent. Jono didn’t acknowledge him at all. Was this to do with Steve’s words? It was confusing and terrifying, “What’s up?”
“Please don’t hate me,” Jono quaintly said. He avoided eye contact still. Now Dylan was exceptionally worried.
“Talk to me Jono,” Dylan willed him on. Every second just seemed to drag and he felt sick at the bottom of his stomach.
“My parents know everything. About us, about you, about the hunters. It all just blurted out, I’m sorry,” Jono spoke fast. He sounded just as nervous as Dylan.
“You mean, they know everything?” Dylan was terrified. In no way was he angry at Jono – something drastic would have to happen for that – but if his parents knew his secret, it would take quite some getting used to.
“I’m so sorry,” Jono apologised again.
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for,” Dylan placed his hand in Jono’s. Jono looked directly at him, his eyes full up with tears like an avalanche waiting to collapse, “How did they react?”
“They didn’t believe me,” Jono sighed, “I think mum has come round but dad might take some convincing.”
“He sounded pretty convinced when he threatened me on the way in,” Dylan laughed. It made sense now.
“What? What the heck did he say?” Jono was fuming.
“Nothing I wouldn’t have said in his position,” Dylan justified, “Will they keep it a secret?”
“I think so. I mean, who would believe them anyway?” Jono raised a smile, “It’s promising that this was a bigger issue than my sexuality I guess.”
“Oh my god, I’ve been so wrapped up in myself,” Dylan was kicking himself, “Congratulations babe.” Dylan hugged and kissed him in one smooth move. He’d never felt such a range of emotions in such a short space of time, but it hadn’t turned out too badly.
Now he had a heart full of pride for his favourite person in the whole world.
Just outside the bunker, Drew had summoned Lily for some guidance. Yasmin was in hospital so as far as quick thinking went, Lily was a good enough alternative. Besides, he knew anyone else would go straight to Dylan.
As Lily arrived, Drew could immediately tell she looked exhausted. He knew why, too. Despite what Oli did to her, Lily clearly had a thing for him. She was bound to be upset.
“You good?” Drew politely greeted. He knew the answer but didn’t want to act differently.
“Yeah,” Lily lied, sounding anything but. Her voice was croaky, as if she had been crying, “What can I help with?”
“I don’t know what to do with them. I’m a reactor, not a thinker,” Drew admitted. Oh, he hated admitting his flaws.
“You’ve been spending too much time with Yasmin,” Lily joked, letting her guard down again.
“Seriously though. I can’t read her. Clara. She’s convincing, but I don’t know what she wants,” Drew continued.
“Let’s find out, then,” Lily proactively pushed the heavy metal bunker door open. Immediately in front of her was Shania, injured and covered in a black substance. Her own blood.
“Stay back,” Shania warned. Her hands were pressed harshly against her chest, the source of the bleeding. Drew had seen this position before. She was trying to cover a bullet wound. Lily went to ignore her warning, but Drew gently pulled her back.
“Where’s Clara?” he whispered harshly to Lily. Food for thought. There was no sign of her. She can’t have vanished from a closed room.
“Get out of here,” Shania yelled. Drew watched as Lily took a deep breath and proceeded to walk towards Shania. No matter how much he was growing to enjoy Lily’s company, she was still a thoughtless human.
Drew stepped into the room behind her and out of the doorway, and instantly he heard a clicking sound. Before he could even register it, a BANG followed.
Losing control of his senses in the shockwaves, Drew looked down. A tingling sensation filled his chest He noticed a splatter of black liquid on the floor. Blood was dripping out of him like a tap. The tingling turned to a sharp throbbing pain as Drew realised he’d been shot.
Losing sight of the room, Drew began to feel light-headed and he collapsed into a heap on the floor.
Much to her annoyance, the hospital had received the all-clear and Yasmin was being moved back to her old suite. Freddie was still with her, and she couldn’t quite believe her luck. Her love life was traditionally terrible and for years it felt like people didn’t want her because she was more interested in passing her exams than having a quickie in the school toilets. This wasn’t something she felt ashamed of, though. Especially now that it had proved to be worth the wait.
“You’d better go, my dad will probably be back at the first opportunity and I don’t want you two anywhere near each other for now,” Yasmin suggested. He may not know about Freddie being a werewolf but she wasn’t prepared to take any risks.
However, it was too late. In walked her dad, as if he was some sort of royalty. She’d had enough.
“I’ll be off,” Freddie smiled and waved goodbye.
“No,” Yasmin put her foot down, “You’re not the one who should be leaving.
“Sweetie, I think we need to talk,” Mr. Forsyth tried to protest.
“What’s there to say? You shot your own daughter and killed another innocent teenager, and I’ve not heard an ounce of compassion filter through your lips,” Yasmin argued.
“I told you already. It was necessary,” Mr. Forsyth began to argue, “Besides, you wouldn’t really take this drunken mess over me, would you?”
Freddie did his best to keep calm, but Yasmin could tell he was reaching boiling point. Anything more could provoke a shift, which would be bad news all round. Therefore, Yasmin had to counteract it with good news. Something to calm him back down.
“I’d take my boyfriend over you easily. He’s kind, he loves me and he respects everyone unconditionally. Get out. I don’t want to see you again,” Yasmin yelled.
Mr. Forsyth looked gobsmacked. Freddie opened the door for him, not giving him the chance to argue back. He cowered out, ashamed.
As the door clicked shut, Freddie gave her a warm hug, gently being aware of her injury.
“Bet that felt good,” he suggested.
“Yeah, and no. Where does this leave me? I’ve got nowhere to live. No-one to provide for me,” Yasmin worried. Her mind was going into overdrive.
“I’d let you stay at mind but we’re short on space. No, I’ll sort you something. Even if it means me sleeping on the couch,” Freddie smiled. It meant a lot to know that she still had him.
“Thanks. Oh, and the boyfriend thing. If it’s too early, it’s fine,” she blushed.
“No. I want it, if you do too. I love the idea of having a girlfriend,” Freddie grinned the cutest grin ever. It filled her heart with joy.
Barely having moved from their positions when Dylan arrived, he and Jono were cuddling tight. Dylan had put their playlist on through Spotify on his phone. He kept going back to relisten to “Live or Die,” by Noah Cyrus and Lil Xan. He wasn’t in much of a mood for anything too cheerful, it suited his vibe quite well.
Jono didn’t seem to mind anyway. It was rare that they would find a moment to simply enjoy each other’s company, but Dylan wished it would happen more often. Dylan was little spoon as always, his head resting under Jono’s chin. He had never felt more at ease.
He was thinking about their future together. They had vaguely discussed marriage – both of them were keen in the far future – while Dylan was also hoping to be a dad one day. His own dad continued to inspire him daily and he wanted to be that source of light for his own kids. Jono would be an amazing dad, too. His delicate nature would make him approachable, and he had a brilliant sense of humour. It was undoubtedly a long way off, but all of this made Dylan very excited.
Interrupting his train of thought came a ringtone. Not his own, but Jono’s. The cheerful tone continued to sound, as Jono annoyingly had to break up the cuddle and reach for the bedside table.
“Hey Lily,” he answered. Dylan heard Lily’s muffled voice on the end of the phone, speaking frantically and worriedly. Wolf-hearing meant he could eavesdrop on phone calls nice and easily, not that Jono minded.
“Drew’s been shot and they’re taking him. Come now, please,” Lily explained. She sounded flustered on a new level, understandably by the sound of it. Dylan sat up, noticing he and Jono shared the same confused yet concerned facial expression.
“Where are you?” Jono tried to keep calm.
“Drew’s bunker. Come no– ,” Lily got cut off, followed by a blank one-tone sound. She had been cut off.
“Come on,” Dylan sprang into action without a second thought. Something was wrong, and they desperately needed to find out what.
Frantically clearing space in his messy bedroom, Freddie wasn’t stopping for anything. He had to make the room presentable and neat for Yasmin, she surely wouldn’t go near it in its current state. Loads of old posters and crap that he hadn’t seen in years was being thrown out, and for the first time in a while, Freddie was noticing his carpet.
“What’s with the clear-out?” George’s voice came from the doorway behind him.
“Yasmin needs somewhere to stay. She can have my bed and I’ll sleep on the floor. I’ve got that old sleeping bag somewhere,” Freddie explained, not looking up from his sorting.
“You can’t sleep in a sleeping bad dude,” George tried to argue. It was easy to forget that he was the parental figure of the house.
“Why not? I’ll do it for Yasmin,” Freddie refused to give up. If he had to sleep in the garden, he would.
“That bed is for you. I work after school to put food on the table, keep you comfortable and keep you clean. It’s another person on top and I can’t afford it,” George reasoned.
“Can’t it be short term? At least until she recovers,” Freddie kept on. George was considering it; Freddie could tell from the gap of silence that followed.
“Go on. Short term though,” George caved in. Freddie leapt up and threw his arms around George. It wasn’t often that they were affectionate towards each other, but this was worthwhile.
The door bell sounded.
“I’ll get it,” Freddie offered. It was the least he could do to say thanks. He bounced downstairs, feeling on top of the world. His girlfriend was moving in, what could be better?
He flung the front door open, but nobody was there. How unusual. He took a look all around outside, but the street was eerily empty.
Then he noticed the conspicuously placed package on the doormat. Freddie picked it up and instantly felt something sharp inside. He ripped the envelope open and tipped the contents gently into his hand. He was horrified to see ten pointy off-white coloured objects. All dripping in a familiar shade of black liquid.
“Who is it?” George followed him down. Freddie simply held his hand out to George, “What are they?”
“Claws,” Freddie explained, “It’s a threat.”
Wasting no time, Dylan shot out of Jono’s car before it had stopped moving. If it meant saving Drew and Lily, it was worthwhile. He pushed down hard on the bunker door – he hated having to use it, it spoke volumes to say that he struggled even with the added werewolf strength. Jono caught up, following behind, just as the door heaved open.
“Drew? Lily?” Dylan called out. No response. There was pure silence and it felt deafening.
“Lily, are you here?” Jono called after. Still nothing, “Where the heck are they?”
“I don’t know. I wish I did,” Dylan sighed. He needed a clue, something that could point them in the right direction.
“What scents can you get?” Jono queried. A good suggestion. Dylan paid attention to his nose. The room was full of familiar scents, Drew and Lily most recognisably, but there were a couple of others. Then a lightbulb lit up in his head. He knew exactly who it was.
“Clara and Shania,” Dylan alarmingly revealed.
Stirring thanks to a pounding headache, Lily took a few moments to gather her senses. This didn’t look much like her bedroom. The walls were grungy and whatever she was sat in was very uncomfortable. It was dark and smelt horrifically of damp.
She tried to get up, but to her horror, she found both her arms and legs restricted. All of a sudden, some harsh blinding lights switched on, causing her to squint. However, as she adjusted to the brightness, she noticed more of her surroundings. It looked like some sort of basement. She was strapped to a wooden chair, which in turn was nailed to the floor.
Directly in front of her was Drew. He was awake and chained to metal railings a few inches off the wall. He was soaking wet too, as if he’d been for a swim.
“Ah, our guests are awake,” an eerily familiar voice sounded. Lily spun around. The horrifying sight of Mr. Forsyth approached from behind, flanked by two guards carrying guns, and stopping in the gap between Lily and Drew.
“I swear to god, you better let me go,” Drew yelled.
“Oh dear, temper temper. So aggressive, your kind, Mr. Marsden. I think we had better teach him a lesson, don’t you, Miss Chadwick?”
Mr. Forsyth smiled smugly at Lily. She would have swung for him if she wasn’t restrained. She kept silent, restraining her anger as much as she could, but one of the guards picked up her hand and placed it on a button, which was part of a contraption next to her.
“Press it or we’ll shoot him,” Mr. Forsyth simply commanded. Lily gulped. She mouthed “I’m sorry,” to Drew, tears forming in her eyes, obscuring her vision. She allowed her index finger to press on the button, and electric shocks rallied through Drew’s body from the railings. He cried out in pain, noises that made Lily feel even worse. It was horrific, but she had no way out. She needed a miracle. And fast.
8: Infiltration Written by MarthaJonesFan
It felt good to stretch her legs in the Crystalshaw forest. She had been stuck in a hospital bed all weekend, and she still ached badly, but Yasmin was thrilled to be up and moving once again.
Her feet were bare, now coated in a fine dusting of mud and dirt. It felt almost naughty to walk around with no shoes on, but liberating at the same time.
The forest was dark and the trees around her whispered in the otherwise silent night. She kept on walking, stepping on twigs and hearing them crack underneath her bare skin.
Where she was going was a secret even to her. Yasmin wasn’t sure if she enjoyed the spontaneity; she was more used to planning every detail meticulously, but not now. This was different.
Then she realised – she didn’t remember leaving the hospital. How long had she been walking for? It was a total mystery. All she knew was that she had to keep walking.
She reached a clearing in the woods, circular and a few metres in diameter. Right in the centre was the most gruesome sight she had seen. A partially shifted werewolf girl, claws on show, had been impaled by a metal pole. Her throat had been slashed and she’d been left there as blood continued to drip out of her lifeless body. It was the hunters, it had to be.
She needed to call Dylan, and quickly.
Dylan was exhausted. He hadn’t slept a wink all night, for various reasons. Watching his phone. Checking for updates on Drew and Lily. Looking around all of Crystalshaw to find even the slightest trace. None of that proved fruitful, so it was a long, sleepless night where Dylan felt beyond tired, yet unable to sleep. His mind was too busy.
Now he was sat in the sheriff station, waiting for Sheriff Taylor to conclude his interview with Yasmin. The body she had found in the forest looked horrible, but Dylan knew she wouldn’t be telling the Sheriff everything. She couldn’t. He couldn’t know about werewolves – it would risk everyone finding out. She was too smart to do that.
Dylan couldn’t deny that he was worried about her though. Wandering off in the middle of the night just two days after she got shot was extremely dangerous and unlike her – it must be the nix part of her, seeking out dead bodies.
Nevertheless, before the Sheriff took her for her interview, she had asked Dylan to call Freddie, so he did just that. Freddie seemed just as concerned, sat fidgeting next to him. His leg was tapping incessantly.
“How long has she been there?” Freddie queried impatiently.
“About twenty minutes,” Dylan sighed. He was sick of the waiting around. He was forming a to-do list in his mind:
- Find Drew and Lily.
- Find the hunters that killed the girl in the woods.
- Solve all of their problems.
It was rough and not remotely fine-tuned. He needed Yasmin’s touch; the plan couldn’t get going until she was on board. He and Freddie had their werewolf senses, while Jono had the instinct and Yasmin had the ideas. Together, they had a great shot at succeeding.
Dylan immediately looked up as he heard the sound of the office door handle clicking into action. Yasmin skulked out, still looking weak. The Sheriff followed, looking exhausted. It was still the early hours of the morning, after all, and Dylan was dreading having to cope with school amongst everything else.
“Morning boys,” Sheriff Taylor greeted in a friendly fashion, “We need to get this young lady back to the hospital.”
“I can drive,” Freddie immediately offered. Well, Dylan couldn’t drive so he didn’t have much choice.
“Oh, and Dylan,” the Sheriff called him back while Freddie escorted Yasmin to the car. He always felt nervous talking to the Sheriff even if he had become a close family friend. Heck, he had even been round to dinner recently.
“Could you pass this on to your mom, please?” the Sheriff handed him a small box, looking very stylish and gold in colour.
“What is it?” Dylan wondered. It intrigued him a lot.
“Just a little thank you for dinner,” the Sheriff smiled. Dylan nodded, before running off to join Freddie and Yasmin. It was time to devise the plan.
“Let us out!” Lily yelled as she banged her hands violently against the metal door. It was no use though. She and Drew were locked away in the grottiest cell Lily could imagine. It smelt of damp, was incredibly cold and not even slightly comfortable with stone walls and floor.
“Save your voice,” Drew suggested. He was sat on the floor opposite the door, not having moved all night. He had a point. Shouting obviously wasn’t going to work. Lily gave up and slid down next to him. The floor made her uncomfortable but she had nowhere else to sit.
“I’m sorry. For last night,” Lily spoke softly and sincerely. The night before had been playing over and over in her mind. She hated having to press that button. Seeing the sparks of electricity flooding through Drew was horrible, and at her own hands too.
“It wasn’t your fault. It’s all good,” Drew calmly replied. He was very good at straight talking. Lily always knew where she stood with him. It put her at ease a little.
Suddenly, the heavy door clanked open. Someone was on their way in. As the door creaked open, Drew and Lily watched in anticipation. Surely it was Mr. Forsyth, Lily predicted. Time for another cruel experiment like the night before. It was inhumane, and it terrified Lily more than anything. However, despite her confidence, it was Clara on the other side of the door.
“What are you doing here?” Lily wondered. The night before remained a blur before she arrived at wherever this grotty place was. How she got there was a blind spot in her mind, but somehow, seeing Clara didn’t inspire good vibes. Like her subconscious was telling her something.
She looked at Drew. For the first time ever, he looked scared. Visibly trembling. That’s when she realised. The ear-piercing BANG noise in the bunker, ricocheting off the stone walls. The black blood dripping from Drew’s chest.
“You brought us here,” Lily realised, staring straight at Clara’s smug smile, “You’re on their side.”
“The penny drops,” Clara remarked, smirking.
Circling around Yasmin’s bed, Dylan and Freddie had called Jono to the hospital, and he’d brought Josh with him too. Dylan was unsure whether or not to trust him still, but so far, so good since his return. Strength in numbers, after all. He’d been recovering at Jono’s house after his seizures, stubbornly refusing help, but Dylan thought there was more than meets the eye. Now was not the time to inquire though. They had to figure out where Drew and Lily were, who had taken them, and what happened to the girl in the woods. Time to brainstorm.
“What did you tell Sheriff Taylor?” Dylan queried.
“Nothing. He wouldn’t believe a word I said,” Yasmin noted, “No clues at the bunker?”
“Nothing,” Dylan answered, “We went there first. Clara and Shania had been there but nothing else. I think that tells us all we need to know though.”
“So not the hunters?” Freddie contemplated.
“I wouldn’t put anything past my dad,” Yasmin noted.
“So we’ve got two problems,” Jono mentioned, “We should split up.”
“Good idea. Jono, you take Josh and check out my dad’s work. He’s got a weapon store down town. Any clues you can find will be helpful,” Yasmin commanded. Dylan was thrilled to see Yasmin back in action, bossing people about while speaking so much sense.
“A hunter owning a weapon store. Why am I even more scared?” Josh sighed.
“Dylan and Freddie, check through the woods, near where the body was found. Use your noses,” Yasmin continued.
“Got it,” Dylan nodded.
“Will you be okay?” Freddie looked concerned over Yasmin. Something was obviously going on between them. Dylan would have to use his investigative skills to find out while they were in the woods.
“I’ll be fine. I’ve got the nurses. You need to go,” Yasmin encouraged. Dylan watched their hands meet, and Freddie’s regretfully slip back away.
“Come on,” Dylan urged, ready for action. He couldn’t wait for this entire event to be over, but there was a lot of work to do first.
Familiar territory. Lily was sat in that same uncomfortable restrained chair, facing a wet Drew chained up to metal railings. She knew what was about to happen, although she was struggling to see the purpose. Sure, Mr. Forsyth was a hunter, but he would surely rather see Drew dead. If he was still alive, he and Clara obviously wanted something. The same something, if they were willing to work together.
Appearing from the shadows by the doorway, Mr. Forsyth came to stand side-by-side with Clara. A sight for sore eyes.
“What do you want?” Lily questioned impatiently.
“We ask the questions around here,” Mr. Forsyth reminded, speaking as condescendingly as possible, “But seeing as you’re here, we need your help.”
“Why didn’t you just fucking ask?” Drew sighed.
“We’re not stupid you moron. We knew you wouldn’t help us willingly,” Clara rolled her eyes, “We need you to tell us where Josh is.
“What do you want with Josh?” Lily wondered. She knew full well where he had been staying, but she wasn’t willing to give the information out that easily.
“Let’s just say it’s mutually beneficial,” Mr. Forsyth grinned slyly. Lily sighed. It was like squeezing blood out of a stone. She didn’t have the upper hand, and they were loving every second.
“So,” Clara smirked, picking Lily’s hand up softly and placing it on the same button as the night before. Her heart was beating like crazy. She hated herself for what was about to happen. Drew said he didn’t care, but nobody would really be so chill about being electrocuted, “Where is Josh?”
“I don’t know,” Lily answered casually Clara forced Lily’s index finger down a millimetre, enough for the system to spark into action. Drew yelled in agony as visible sparks of electricity vaulted through his body. Tears fell out of Lily’s eyes, even though she was doing her best to prevent them. Clara loosened her grip and the button was resorted to resting position.
“I will ask you again. Where is Josh?” Clara queried. Lily looked at Drew. He widened his eyes, warning her not to confess. That was all she needed to keep going.
“I’ll tell you again. I don’t know,” Lily replied more confidently. Neither of them were giving in that easily.
Parking up outside the weapon storage facility, Jono was feeling anxious. There was no easy way to get into such a building – it was highly guarded, as you would expect from a place that stores guns, with a tall metal security gate around the edges.
Jono looked at his watch – ten o’clock. The huge metal gates were the only thing separating them and the building.
“We could climb it,” Josh suggested.
“Easy for you to say, werewolf,” Jono sighed, “It’s too high for me. Even if I make it that high, they’d see me a mile off.”
“I could jump it and open it from the keypad on the other side,” Josh suggested.
“Or we just wait half an hour for their delivery. Yasmin says it comes at ten-thirty every day,” Jono sensibly replied, “We can sneak through then.” He had to keep realistic.
“We don’t have time to waste,” Josh reminded. He wasn’t wrong. Jono quickly weighed up the situation. Was it worth the risk? He listened to his gut – it was never wrong.
“Okay then,” he found himself saying. Dylan would kill him if this went wrong, but they had no other choice.
Josh prepared himself for the leap. Much to Jono’s amazement, Josh sprang up almost to the very top of the gate, as if he had performed the most amazing trampoline trick. He then flung himself over the top and landed on all fours on the ground. Jono had no words. He almost wished he could do it too, but the hassle of being a werewolf outweighed the pros.
He pressed a couple of buttons on the keypad on the other side of the gate, trying to guess the combination.
“Careful, you might lock us out. Let me call Yasmin,” Jono suggested. He looked up her name on his smartphone and pressed call as fast as he could. They could still be caught at any moment.
“Hey, is everything alright?” Yasmin sounded polite yet worried.
“Yeah, do you know the code for the main gate?” Jono queried. He crossed his fingers while hoping she would deliver good news.
“Err, no, but I could possibly guess,” Yasmin thought, “Try my birthday. Zero-five-nineteen.” Jono repeated the numbers to Josh, who keyed it in. He got a frown in response. No luck.
“Nope,” Jono relayed to Yasmin.
“Oh, of course. It’ll be his own birthday. Try ten-twenty-five,” she suggested dishearteningly. Once again, Jono repeated and Josh typed. The huge gates began to shift. Success.
“Got it, thanks,” Jono said before hanging up. Now for the hard part – getting inside the building.
Dylan hated the forests of Crystalshaw. He lived right on the edge of it, and sure, he adored his house. However, he almost couldn’t bear to look outside at night, for fear of what he may or may not see. He would never forget the night he got bitten, just metres away from that house. The terror he felt was second to none. Although he had learnt to appreciate who he was, that feeling still existed in his gut.
On the bright side, he had Freddie by his side. At least he wasn’t alone.
“How far now?” Freddie pondered, ducking below a low-hanging branch.
“Not much further,” Dylan answered. They hadn’t spoken much on their way, but he had some questions to ask. No time like the present, “Hey, what’s the deal with you and Yasmin?”
“Me and Yasmin?" Freddie avoided eye contact, looking sheepish.
“I’m not judging, I’m just nosey. You’re cute together,” Dylan laughed. Yasmin was his best friend. He was always supportive of her. Freddie blushed.
“Thanks. I really like her. It all happened kinda quick but I guess she needs someone by her side,” Freddie considered.
“I’m glad it’s you,” Dylan confessed, “I suppose I should give you my approval, as her best friend.” They both laughed. It was the first time Dylan had properly laughed in a few days. It felt good to forget his concerns for a second.
“Hey, is this it?” Freddie stepped into a clearing in the woods. Dylan followed into the circular area, surrounded by trees blocking the sunlight. His nose was convinced – the scent of the poor girl’s blood was intense. The crime scene had been cleared, but remnants of blood remained soaked into the leaves, twigs and mud.
“This is definitely it,” Dylan confirmed, recalling the horrific sight of her body that night. Another innocent life lost.
“Why are we here again?” Freddie wondered, “Like, isn’t it obvious who did it?”
“We need proof. Maybe something that can confirm it to Sheriff Taylor without mentioning werewolves,” Dylan reasoned. Any little clue could be helpful.
He looked to the ground, checking for clues. He felt like he was solving a Mystery Inc. case. In the corner of his eye, he saw a tiny movement. A few leaves rustled at the same time. Red alert.
“Freddie, stay still. I think we’re being watched,” Dylan froze, speaking quietly and calmly.
“Hunters?” Freddie queried.
“They don’t know about us, remember,” Dylan added, “It’s someone else.” Then, suddenly, the figure shot off, sprinting back in the direction Dylan and Freddie came from.
“Wait!” Dylan called out, immediately following the visibly female figure, putting all of his energy into running his fast as he could. Dylan’s legs were almost blurring in motion.
The head start she had was closing. She was limping, looking very uncomfortable and slowing down. Dylan reached out a hand as he jumped over a fallen tree trunk. As he made contact with her shoulder, he yanked her down harshly. Together, they slid to the ground. Dylan fell awkwardly onto his side, twisting his ankle, but he didn’t mind. He would heal anyway and he’d succeeded in his plan – the girl had collapsed in front of him.
He looked at her as she sat up. It was a face he immediately recognised.
“Shania,” Dylan identified, her ashamed eyes avoiding contact with Dylan’s.
Back in the cell, Drew ached all over, even worse than he did last night. He was fed up and incredibly angry at the entire situation. However, it was necessary. He was doing everything he could to stifle Mr. Forsyth and Clara, although he knew their combined efforts would be deadly.
He glanced at Lily. She looked broken. He had tried to soften the blow, offering his approval and support while chained up, but the effect it was having on her could be detrimental. He admired her determination, though he worried it wouldn’t last much longer at this rate. They had to escape before it broke both of them.
“How fast can you run?” Drew queried.
“Err, sorta fast. Why?” Lily was confused.
“I think we could take them out,” Drew whispered. He had to be careful he wasn’t overheard. Even the slightest leak could jeopardise this.
“How? There are guards everywhere. Mr. Forsyth literally owns a weapon facility. We’ve got no chance,” Lily reasoned.
“Roll with it,” Drew tried to earn her trust. He couldn’t risk explaining every detail, he just had to lead by example. He banged deafeningly on the door, yelling out, “Help! It’s urgent. She’s collapsed. I don’t think she’s breathing.” He winked at Lily. She instantly understood the signal and laid down on the floor, playing dead.
The bolts on the door slammed open as the guard chauffeured a male medic in.
“She just collapsed. I don’t know why,” Drew kept up the pretence, employing his best acting skills. The medic crouched down over Lily, while the guard stood in the doorway, just in front of Drew.
This was it. Without thinking twice, Drew thwacked the guard over the head. He knew exactly where to hit to secure a successful blow. The guard collapsed, and the medic immediately looked up, confused and terrified.
Drew watched as Lily’s left leg shot directly up, landing harshly in the medic’s groin region. He winced over in pain, and Drew whacked him too, knocking him out stone cold.
“Quick, get changed,” Drew commanded. He began stripping the guard of his armour, weapons included. Step one was complete. Now they needed the clean sweep.
Breaking the lock on the fire exit door, Josh led Jono into the warehouse. Jono was amazed by the size of it. The building itself was both tall and wide, and plain in colour. Jono prayed that the size of the building would make it more difficult to bump into a member of security.
“Keep your ears out for anyone approaching,” Jono commanded to Josh. His superior hearing was extremely useful in these situations. Jono kept a keen ear too. If they bumped into a guard, they were toast. He knew he couldn’t be too careful.
“Where are we going,”,” Josh impatiently queried. It was a fair question. Jono wasn’t sure himself.
“Can you hear anything?” Jono wondered, hoping a clue from Josh’s senses would inspire directions.
“An alarm,” Josh revealed, “It’s faint. Sounds like it’s coming from below. Obviously not meant to be heard on the upper levels.”
“They’re hiding something,” Jono figured. If the alarm wasn’t sounding in the main part of the building, it was clearly something they didn’t want everyone to hear.
Jono led the way to the stairwell, following the signs laid out. It was clearly intended for staff members only, which simply reinforced his theory. The double-doors to the stairwell had a large sign reading “no unauthorised personnel,”. Jono loved the rebellious feel of ignoring such signs. It gave him such an adrenaline kick.
Jono pushed the reasonably heavy doors open with a heave and immediately noticed the alarm, albeit relatively faintly. The doors were so thick that they blocked the sound.
The stairwell wound downwards – there were no further stories to the building between the ground floor and this basement area. Jono noticed it felt neglected. Lighting was dim, spiderwebs decorated the walls and the handrail had a fine layer of dust coating it.
Finally, they made it to the bottom. They had reached a corridor that ventured off both left and right.
“Which way?” Jono wondered aloud.
“Wait, I can smell their scents. Drew and Lily,” Josh revealed, “They’re down here.” He led the way left as Jono’s heart began to speed up. He now felt exceptionally determined for this mission to succeed.
Sitting down on a knocked-down tree trunk next to Shania, Dylan had plenty of questions to ask. Freddie had caught up to them both and sat on the other side of Shania. Whether she could be trusted was another matter, but she was surrounded by others of her kind, both of whom were capable of outrunning her. Dylan felt secure, all of that considered.
“Why are you out here?” Dylan began the interrogation.
“It’s not like I’ve got a home. The woods are somewhere I don’t feel exposed. Somewhere she won’t find me so easily,” Shania revealed.
“She?” Freddie chimed in.
“Clara. You might think we’re friends, but she’s anything but,” Shania confessed, “She treated me like her servant, Oli was the golden boy.”
“You’re lying,” Freddie accused. Dylan wasn’t so sure. He was very trusting in his nature, and something rang true in Shania’s words.
“Listen to my heartbeat. Both of you,” she commanded, “Listen to the pace. That will tell you.” Dylan focused. She was right – her heart pumped at a regular pace.
“We believe you. Keep going,” Dylan urged with a kind smile.
“She’s working with Mr. Forsyth. She shot me to lure Drew into a trap,” Shania revealed the bullet wound. A purple gas trickled out of it, confusing Dylan, “She’s taken him as a hostage. Lily’s collateral damage.”
“Why would she team up with someone who wanted her dead?” Dylan tried to compute.
“They both share the same goal – to capture Josh,” Shania detailed.
“Josh? What’s so special about him?” Freddie questioned.
“He’s still the alpha, sort of. Nobody took the power from him. It’s causing his seizures and blackouts. His body can’t cope with the dormant power. Clara wants to take it from him, then she’ll hand him over to Mr. Forsyth to kill. Win win,” Shania clarified. As Dylan tried to piece everything together in his head, he was startled by a voice from behind.
“Well picked up on, little girl,” it was Mr. Forsyth, “I see the wolfsbane bullet is working nicely.”
Wolfsbane? Dylan thought. He hadn’t heard of that before.
“You won’t succeed,” Shania snarled. She looked disgusted at the sight of Mr. Forsyth – a sentiment Dylan shared.
Ruthlessly, Mr. Forsyth pulled out a gun and shot Shania in the stomach there and then. She collapsed to the floor with a thud. Then she was still. Dylan’s heart shot through his chest. How horrible could someone be? However, he now found the gun pointing directly at him, so perhaps he was about to find out.
Terrified at each corner, Lily was using her adrenaline to keep going. The clothes she was wearing, from the medic, were oversized, but she had to make it work. The average guard may not think twice about a guard and a medic speed-walking through the corridors.
“Are we going the right way?” Lily wondered, trying not to panic. An alarm was ringing, so they had obviously noticed the empty cell by now. It was a race against time.
“Yeah. I can smell the fresh air,” Drew explained. Thank god for his senses. As they turned another corner, Lily jumped back in fright as she bumped into someone. She was about to run until she saw who they were, just as startled as he was. It was Jono and Josh.
Instantly, Jono pulled her in for a hug. She felt so relieved. A hug had never felt so warm and comforting.
“What are you doing here?” Lily asked him.
“Coming to find you!” Jono grinned, “Come on, let’s go.” They all continued round the corner that Josh and Jono came from, but ground to an immediate halt. Clara was stood in the middle of the corridor, with an armed guard either side to block their way.
“Ah, brilliant,” she grinned. Lily realised her eyes were focused directly in Josh’s vicinity. He had walked right into her trap.
Staring down the barrel of a gun was not something Dylan wanted to experience, but here he was. Looking at the loaded end of Mr. Forsyth’s deadly weapon. It already had a death toll of at least one, and the sight of Shania’s empty body did nothing for Dylan’s nerves either.
“Please don’t shoot,” Dylan begged. His legs were weak and he wanted to shrink into a ball and hide. However, he knew he had to present a strong exterior.
“Surely the question is – why am I holding a gun to you, Dylan?” Mr. Forsyth pressured. Shit. He must have known. Dylan continued to present a calm front, but inside, he was desperately trying to prepare his response.
“Go on then. Tell me,” Dylan tried not to stutter.
“One of my fellow hunters, a good friend of mine for many years. He told me that there was another beta at the party. He had shaggy hair and healed much faster than any human,” Mr. Forsyth detailed. Darn. Dylan had forgotten the hunter that cut his wrist at his party.
“How do you know it’s not me?” Freddie stepped in.
“Freddie, stop,” Dylan harshly whispered.
“Ah, the lad who has my daughter’s heart. You’d be even more stupid than I thought to date a werewolf hunter’s daughter, if that were true,” Mr. Forsyth had no filter. He didn’t care that he was speaking to teenagers, being cruel and callous in his words. He had a mission, and it obviously came before manners.
“Dylan is Yasmin’s best friend. That’s not exactly much better,” Freddie continued. Dylan was amazed by how calm and collected he sounded. His words seemed to be working – Mr. Forsyth was beginning to look flustered, struggling to find the right words.
“Well there’s only one way to find out. I’ll shoot you both and see who heals,” Mr. Forsyth definitely seemed to be panicking, but it still didn’t feel like good news for Dylan.
“Like you killed Shania and Oli? The girl who got impaled right over there, too,” Freddie pointed to the centre of the clearing.
“That was necessary. They were vermin,” Mr. Forsyth attempted to justify.
All of a sudden, a tiny ball rolled into the clearing, and smoke began to pour out of it. A smoke-bomb. Dylan grabbed Freddie’s arm and ran, knowing they were out of sight from Mr. Forsyth. They ran back in the way they came, and much to Dylan’s surprise, George was running behind them. Dylan and Freddie both slowed down a little to match George’s regular human pace.
“What are you doing here?” Dylan queried.
“Saving your ass,” George replied, “Under Yasmin’s instructions.” Dylan laughed. She still had the smart ideas, even from her hospital bed, “Where now?”
“The Sheriff,” Freddie answered as they reached George’s car. They all jumped in – George driving, Dylan in the passenger seat and Freddie in the back.
“Why? We’ve got no proof of anything,” Dylan sighed. The car sped off as fast as it could go.
“You think?” Freddie held up his phone, “I’ve got a full confession of the murders, but there’s an issue.”
“We’d have to tell the Sheriff everything,” Dylan realised. He had a dilemma on his hands, and not long to think of a solution.
Petrified, Jono tried to struggle. His arms were restricted and he could barely move, but he was determined to struggle his way out. Next to him was a control panel on a desk, and a switched-off, small, ancient television screen. In front of him was Josh, chained up to metal railings. He looked like he was terrified, and like he knew exactly what was happening.
All of a sudden, the TV screen switched on. It was showing CCTV footage. Specifically, Lily and Drew in a cell. Held at gunpoint.
“What happens next depends on your compliance,” a voice came from behind. It was undoubtedly Clara – her voice sent shivers down Jono’s spine, “Press the button, or your sister and friend will be shot. It’s perfectly simple.” Jono was shaking in fear. He had no idea what the button did, but he couldn’t risk Lily’s life.
“Sorry,” Jono’s voice wobbled as he apologised deeply to Josh. He knew he had no other choice.
Without another thought, Jono slammed his hand down on the button. Sparks of electricity shot through Josh’s body instantly. He shrieked out in pain, struggling with the sensation. Jono hated it, but he wasn’t looking anyway. He kept his eyes fixated on the TV screen, ensuring Clara upheld her deal with him about Lily. Either way, as soon as he was unchained, he’d make sure there was hell to pay.
Dylan couldn’t believe what he was doing, but it had reached crisis point. Jono and Josh weren’t answering their phones. There was still no news on Drew or Lily. Mr. Forsyth seemed to know about both his and Freddie’s secrets.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and he had found himself in Sheriff Taylor’s office. He was surrounded by Freddie, George and Yasmin, and they knew it was time to come clean. Dylan’s nerves were at an all-time high. He hadn’t even told his mum yet. He wasn’t sure he had the courage to. Yet there he was, preparing to tell the Sheriff all about werewolves.
“What can I help you with, kids?” Sheriff Taylor greeted them kindly and warmly as always.
“It’s about my dad,” Yasmin led the way. She was so good with words, always forming the most immaculate sentences. It made perfect sense for her to lead the discussion, “We have a confession for three murders, but first, we need to give you some context.” Dylan nodded at Freddie. Together, they glowed their bright yellow eyes. The Sheriff’s eyes, in turn, almost bulged out of their sockets.
“What are you?” he asked, gobsmacked.
“Werewolves,” Dylan replied. He was so sure of who he was, he just had to hope the Sheriff would understand.
9: Duty Written by MarthaJonesFan
It took Dylan ages to feel even slightly comfortable at high school. People were wary of him because he didn’t take part in sports activities and barely spoke when he wasn’t being spoken to. However, he never forgot his friend from the first day.
Now Yasmin was round his house. He had stupidly mentioned it in conversation during biology that day, to Drew Marsden, who pointed and laughed at Dylan “bringing a girl home.” Drew knew full well that it wasn’t meant in a covert way, but he took the piss nonetheless.
Yasmin was actually there to help Dylan with his history homework. He hated history – he was a journalist but the endless articles and sources tired even him out. Yasmin was good at everything though. She worked hard and passed every single exam with flying colours.
What’s more is that she was a genuine friend to him. They hung out at school and always sat next to each other. Yasmin always told Dylan about her failed relationship attempts, as well as her crushes, including their classmate Jono Chadwick. Dylan fancied him like crazy, but didn’t want anyone to know that part of his life yet. Nevertheless, Dylan appreciated Yasmin like crazy. He knew he’d be lost without her.
It felt like it should have been a relief. Everything he had been keeping to himself was now out in the open – to the Sheriff at least – but somehow Dylan didn’t feel the weight lifting off of his shoulders. In fact, he felt anything but. Yasmin had so eloquently explained the entire situation – about werewolves, Clara and Mr. Forsyth – but it seemed like information overload for the baffled Sheriff.
“You expect me to believe all that?” Sheriff Taylor questioned, bemused.
“Do you think we would make all of that up?” Yasmin defended. The level of detail was way beyond a silly prank. The Sheriff took a moment to figure everything out in his mind.
“Alright. What do you want from me?” the Sheriff accepted.
“They are almost definitely at his warehouse,” Dylan interjected, “Jono and Josh went there and haven’t returned, which is bad news.”
“Because Josh is the…alpha?” the Sheriff attempted to get his head around the terminology.
“Yeah, and that’s what Clara wants. We have to get there now,” Yasmin commanded.
“I shouldn’t bring you kids. It’s dangerous,” the Sheriff considered.
“Go on then, blunder on in. Get yourself killed,” Yasmin reasoned, “We have to be smart about this.” Yasmin was right. The Sheriff had to be selective about what information he told his deputies, and none of them had the senses that Dylan and Freddie had.
“Alright alright, but you’ll all be following my instructions with no question. Is that clear?” the Sheriff commanded.
“Yes Sheriff,” a chorus of replies joined Dylan.
“Okay, let’s go,” the Sheriff led the way, although he stopped and hung back after Yasmin, Freddie and George made their way out of the office, “Dylan, mind if I have a word?”
“Sure,” Dylan agreed, worried by yet another ominous statement.
“Have you told your mom? Does she know?” the Sheriff sounded concerned.
“No. I’ve not found the moment,” Dylan explained, “I’m worried she’ll hate me.”
“She could never hate you, Dylan. Your mom loves the bones of you,” the Sheriff encouraged, “I think she has something to say to you too.”
“What is it?” Dylan tried to find out. He hated open-ended vague comments more than anything.
“Best to hear it from her. Nothing to worry about,” the Sheriff gave Dylan a pat on the back and headed out to the car before he could probe any further. Ironically, that made Dylan worry even more, but it had to wait. They had a mission.
Pacing around the room, Jono felt increasingly anxious. He had spent the last few hours in a cell, guarded all the time by one of Mr. Forsyth’s guards. On the bright side, he was with Drew and Lily. At least they were together.
They hadn’t heard about Josh though, which worried Jono more than he thought it would. The last Jono saw of him was when he was escorted away from him and into the cell. At the time, he was still chained up, and looked drained. He was also concerned about exactly why Clara wanted Josh. Time for a conference.
“Okay, we need to brainstorm. What’s so special about Josh?” Jono began.
“He’s a werewolf,” Lily instantly replied.
“So am I, and I’m stuck in here with you,” Drew noted, “He was in Clara’s pack though.”
“He was Clara’s alpha,” Jono realised, “She never liked that. It’s why he came here. She was issuing orders.” It was an important detail. Josh had always made it clear that although Clara was in his pack, he never got along with her and had made it his business to stay out of her way.
“So, she’s getting her payback, right?” Lily thought.
“It’s not about payback. She’s getting what she wanted all along,” Jono realised, “She’s becoming the alpha.”
Glancing down at his phone, Dylan was checking every few seconds for a text back. He had sent a message to his mum, saying “Are things OK? Hear you need to talk.” Perhaps it would be better face-to-face, but the wait was driving him insane. At least some reassurance would keep Dylan’s mind at ease while they busted Jono and the others out.
Currently, they were all packed into the Sheriff’s car, while another two deputies followed in the vehicle behind. As they approached the front gate, Dylan heard the Sheriff sigh noticeably.
“Kinda defeats the point of infiltration if we have to ask to get in,” he commended.
“It’s okay, I know the code. Ten-twenty-five. The only issue is, the keypad’s not on this side of the gate,” Yasmin explained.
“Let’s see,” Dylan hopped out of the car and took a look at the gate. The mesh wires that made up the tall gate had diamond-shaped holes in, roughly the size of an average plastic cup’s diameter. Dylan could squeeze a few fingers through it with little problem.
He slid his index and middle fingers through the hole nearest to the keypad first. Darn. He was about a centimetre short. He tried forcing forward but it wasn’t enough.
Then it occurred to him. He was a werewolf. Those fingers could become claws. Dylan closed his eyes and focused. He summoned the wolf towards him, mentally pleading for its help. He felt it taking over, and suddenly, the keypad grinded against his nails. Instinctively, Dylan keyed in the numbers, stretching as hard as he could. Then the gate pounced into action. Perfect.
Dylan rapidly shot his hands back out of the gate as they moved apart, ready for the car to zoom through.
Waiting patiently in the car, Yasmin was feeling nervous. No matter how she felt about the entire situation, he was still her dad. She hated how her life seemed to be falling apart, and there was nothing she could do about it.
She had tried phoning her mum countless times over the past few days, but she must have been busy. That’s what Yasmin told herself anyway. Couldn’t even reply to her own daughter when she’d been shot. Summed up how useful she had been over the past couple of years. She couldn’t blame her for leaving her dad, but Yasmin missed having her mum around, rather than living the high life, working in New York.
On the bright side, Yasmin was feeling a lot better now. She was still weak and the doctor was wary of discharging her, but she knew she had to help out. It terrified her that her dad was so dangerous, and could be doing anything to her friends while she was sat in a car, helpless.
Interrupting her train of thought, much to her relief, a jovial ringtone sounded. Yasmin knew it was Dylan’s phone, ringing from the passenger seat. Yasmin stretched out, being very careful of her stitches, to grab the phone. The screen flashed – “Mom,” was calling. Yasmin didn’t hesitate to answer the call – she knew Caroline well enough.
“Hey,” she greeted, “It’s Yasmin. Dylan’s a little preoccupied.”
“Oh, hi Yasmin. Is he okay?” Caroline sounded concerned.
“Yeah, he’s all good. Anything you want me to pass on?” Yasmin politely offered.
“No, it’s okay. I’ll call him later,” Caroline said, “See you soon sweetie.” The call ended. Almost instantly after, the gates vaulted open. Thank god. She saw Dylan bounce his way back to the car.
“Mission accomplished,” he grinned as he plonked himself back onto the passenger seat.
“Your mom called,” Yasmin notified. Immediately, Dylan’s breezy mood sank.
“Did she say anything?” he asked in a dead serious tone.
“No, just that she’ll call you later,” Yasmin informed. Dylan sighed and nodded. Something was up, and as Dylan’s bestie, it was her job to find out.
Weaker than ever, Josh was desperate. Any sort of miracle to get him off those railings would be just a spot of what he needed. He was already feeling pretty exhausted. He hadn’t felt normal in months – since he lost his alpha status. He had gone past resenting Dylan for that. Perhaps he was losing his touch, but he knew he would rather have Dylan on his team than on the opposite one.
He had learnt a lot since Clara kidnapped him. Dylan’s no-violence way of solving problems seemed much more efficient. He knew he could do with some of that sooner rather than later.
Besides, it’s not like Clara especially wanted him in her pack anymore. She had spent a couple of hours electrocuting him, for reasons he still didn’t understand. He had been given water, since it stopped, so she obviously wanted him alive. The lights flickered back on. It was time again.
“I hope you’ve enjoyed recess,” Clara commented, walking towards him from the far door.
“What do you want?” Josh impatiently queried. The electrocution drained him of patience as well as energy.
“Wouldn’t you like to know, Mr. Alpha?” she teased.
“Revenge? Is that what you want? Cause your mom wanted me to be the alpha instead of you?” Josh tried to guess.
“Partly. You took what wasn’t yours. My mom was delirious. She had no idea what she was saying,” Clara defended herself. Josh rolled his eyes. The delusion was unreal.
“You really think you deserved it? Look at you. Heck, look at me. You turned me into this,” Josh argued, “Bet it sucks to realise you’ve missed your shot.”
“You think?” she came closer, her hand gently caressing Josh’s cheek, “Your body is weak. It can’t cope. You’re still the alpha, nobody has taken your power so it exists within you.” Josh was baffled. How could he still be the alpha? The mountain ash surely flushed it out of him.
That said, it did explain the way he’d been feeling. The fits and the drowsiness made sense.
“How can you get it?” Josh worriedly questioned. He knew that you had to kill an alpha to steal their power, so he was more than a little frightened.
“Your status isn’t alpha, so I think I can spare your life, but there are no guarantees,” Clara vaguely answered. It sounded like he should be okay, but with Mr. Forsyth still around, Josh knew Clara was only half the battle.
Bringing them food and water, Lily was disgusted to see the sight of Mr. Forsyth again. As someone who was relatively calm all the time, he made even her blood boil, and that spoke volumes. His face was the epitome of arrogance, and it made her want to punch him. She restrained herself, knowing it wouldn’t solve any of their problems, but the temptation was strong.
She sipped on her shabby plastic cup half-filled with water, relishing every drop as she knew drinks were few and far between. What confused Lily the most about the entire situation was why they were still imprisoned. Mr. Forsyth and Clara had Josh in their hands now, why couldn’t they be released?
“I hope there won’t be any more antics like yesterday’s tragic escape attempt,” Mr. Forsyth patronised.
“There wouldn’t be if you let us go,” Drew bargained. He was obviously on the same wavelength.
“And risk you leading Mr. Drummond and your other buddies here to help save your friend? Try again,” Mr. Forsyth laughed, slamming the door behind him.
“I could honestly kill him,” Drew paced back and forth, trying to control his anger.
“Come on, we can’t win thinking like that,” Jono tried to encourage positive thinking. He was good at that. Always the positive influence of the family.
“We’re not gonna win at all stuck in here,” Drew counteracted with negativity.
“Dylan will find us. He always does,” Jono’s optimism refused to fail. Especially where Dylan was concerned.
“You’d better hope so. I don’t know how much longer I can take in here,” Lily sighed.
Following carefully behind the Sheriff, Dylan was on red alert. They were inside the warehouse, while deputies guarded the outside entrances to ensure nobody escaped, and were creeping along the trail left by Jono’s cologne. Dylan could smell it a mile off – being able to pinpoint anything that reminded him of Jono was practically instinct to him.
They were going downstairs, following a concrete stairwell all the way down. The steps were sturdy, but the walls had been neglected severely. There were no doubts in Dylan’s mind – this was definitely where the scent was leading.
As they reached the bottom, they were presented with a dilemma. Left or right?
“We should split up,” Sheriff Taylor suggested.
“I’m confident Jono is this way,” Dylan pointed right.
“Wait, Josh’s scent is this way,” Freddie looked left. He had obviously been following his nose too, but for a different person.
“Alright, Dylan, you take Yasmin and George and clear that route. Be very careful. I’ll take Freddie and check this way,” the Sheriff commanded.
Dylan led the way to the right, heading off just as he watched Yasmin and Freddie’s hands slip apart. The scent grew stronger and stronger, teasing Dylan’s senses with the prospect of being in Jono’s presence again. It had only been a few hours since he last saw him, but it was more than enough to miss him. That said, ten seconds apart was enough for Dylan to miss Jono.
He led Yasmin and George through corridors and round corners, wondering each time who they might bump into. They turned yet another corner, and immediately, Dylan shot backwards.
“What?” Yasmin harshly whispered.
“There’s a guard. The scent is strong, I think he’s in there,” Dylan announced. How they would get past the guard was their most risky obstacle yet, particularly as he looked very familiar to Dylan.
“You can take him, right?” George suggested.
“He’s the one that exposed me at my party. He’ll shoot me before I get even halfway there,” Dylan reasoned.
“I’ve got an idea,” Yasmin smiled devilishly. Saying no more, she grabbed George by the arm and led him casually around the corner. Dylan watched on, using his hearing to listen in.
“Hey, I was wondering if you know where my dad is?” Yasmin spoke politely to the guard.
“You’re not authorised to be here,” the guard replied.
“Could you just show me where to find him?” she persisted. The guard sighed and turned away from the cell to point further down the corridor. Yasmin winked at George, who performed an exquisite karate move on him. The guard sagged to the floor, banging against the cell door on his way down. Knocked out stone cold.
Instantly, Yasmin dug out his set of keys and dangled them triumphantly in the air. Dylan laughed at her audacity, and jogged to join her.
“Nice karate move,” Dylan complimented.
“Training every day for the past ten years has paid off,” George laughed. Now for the fun part. Dylan could hardly wait to open that door and see Jono’s gorgeous face.
“What the fuck is that?” Lily screamed, hearing a bang against the cell door. Jono comforted her, gently rubbing his hand up and down her arm. Drew stood in front of them both, much to Jono’s relief. Whatever had made that noise could be coming for them, and Drew was the best equipped to keep them safe.
God knows what Clara had in mind for them. Jono feared she would force him into her pack. He didn’t want to become a werewolf. He’d seen the impact it had had on Dylan, and he didn’t want it for himself. He felt like he had been through the whole ordeal with Dylan anyway. They were in it together, and although it had stressed Jono out and landed him in a dingy cell from which he may not get out, he wouldn’t change it.
As he watched the doorway, he heard the key twisting in the lock.
“Stand back,” Drew commanded. Jono braced himself, still gripping Lily tightly. They were comforting each other by that point. The door shuffled open, the anticipation bubbling over. Much to Jono’s relief, Dylan was the first to step through.
“Oh thank god,” Jono released his grip on Lily and flung his arms around Dylan. Jono had never been so relieved to feel Dylan’s skin on his own, and his hair rustling against his nose. The sweet smell of his shampoo and cologne. It was heavenly.
“I am so glad you’re okay,” Dylan seemed just as relieved.
“We can celebrate once we get out,” Drew reminded. It was true. Jono regretfully loosened his grip, noticing Lily and George doing the same.
“Have you found Josh?” Jono questioned.
“No, the Sheriff and Freddie are still looking,” Yasmin informed.
“The Sheriff? What the heck is he doing here?” Drew was baffled.
“I’ll explain later. We gotta go help,” Dylan suggested. He led the way back in the direction he came. The plan was almost complete.
Not once walking in front of Sheriff Taylor, Freddie wasn’t scared to admit how terrified he was. The basement of this warehouse was huge and very dark, with only some dim, flickering lights to help lead the way.
The Sheriff had a gun primed, which both eased and worried him at the same time. As far as the Sheriff was concerned, they were dealing with a murderer. Freddie was following his nose though. He knew Josh’s scent off by heart, having spent so much time with him.
They reached a wooden door at the end of the corridor – no windows to peep through, but there were no other options. This must have been it. The Sheriff signalled for Freddie to hide behind the adjacent wall while he cleared the room. As soon as he entered, Freddie heard a cry for help.
“Freddie, get in here,” the Sheriff commanded. Freddie didn’t need to be asked twice – he ran inside and saw a room just as grotty as the rest of the basement, big yet claustrophobic, and full of wires and equipment.
However, what caught his eye the most was Josh. He was chained to railings on the far wall, and he looked like he’d been through the ringer. The Sheriff was trying to untie him, but wasn’t having much luck.
“Am I glad to see you,” Josh forced a smile. He looked like he had no energy whatsoever. Freddie rushed over and immediately tried tugging on the wires securing Josh’s wrists to the metal bars. Maybe with his wolf strength he could break them?
“I’ve tried all that,” Josh knew what he was doing, “Save yourself. Get out of here.”
“Not without you,” Freddie continued regardless.
“How sweet,” a voice came from behind. Freddie gulped. He knew the spine-tingling tones of Clara’s voice anywhere. He spun round to face her, eye-to-eye.
“Let him go,” Freddie demanded.
“Or what? Your dad will shoot me?” Clara teased, attempting to intimidate both him and the Sheriff in one fell swoop. The Sheriff had his gun primed already.
“Surrender and you’ll make this job easier for everyone,” the Sheriff suggested.
“So I can go to court and tell the judge all about werewolves? Would you risk the secret getting out?” Clara blackmailed.
“They wouldn’t believe you,” Freddie fired back.
“Perhaps if there were two identical witness statements, they would,” Mr. Forsyth walked casually into the room. His smugness was off the scale.
“Put your hands in the air and hand yourself over,” the Sheriff immediately commanded. Mr. Forsyth didn’t move a muscle. Perhaps this was going to be tougher than Freddie thought.
Rushing through the corridors, ducking below spiderwebs and leaping over puddles, Dylan was determined not to waste time. They could have been doing anything to Josh – he dreaded to think. If Clara wanted to become the alpha, she would probably have to kill Josh, and even if she didn’t, Mr. Forsyth certainly would.
The end of the corridor was in sight, and they were met by a rackety wooden door, left slightly ajar. Dylan signalled to the rest of the group behind him, placing his index finger on his lips. He listened in, sussing the situation.
“I won’t ask you again,” he heard the Sheriff order.
“Don’t, then,” Mr. Forsyth retaliated.
Dylan peered through the gap in the doorway. He saw Freddie next to Josh, both of them looking horrified. Clara inched towards Josh while the Sheriff’s attention was on Mr. Forsyth. In one swift move, she pushed Freddie out of the way with her left hand and propelled her right hand into Josh’s chest with no remorse. Dylan couldn’t contain himself any longer.
“Stop! He yelled, bursting unapologetically into the room.
“Too late,” Clara rejoiced, tilting her head back as Josh’s eyes snapped shut.
“I don’t think so,” Mr. Forsyth rapidly pulled a gun out of his back pocket and shot Clara, “Two birds with one stone.” Blood splattered out of her back and she plunged to the ground lifelessly. Blood dripped out of Josh from the claw marks and sagged further, only being held up by the restraints on his hands and legs.
Drew leapt in and shoved Mr. Forsyth to the floor, the gun sliding in the direction of the Sheriff, who picked it up for safe keeping.
“What the hell have you done?” Freddie was disgusted, tending to Josh and checking his pulse, “He’s still alive. Just.”
“He won’t be for long,” Mr. Forsyth remarked from the ground. Drew yanked him up, not caring to ensure his comfort.
“How can we save him?” Yasmin demanded.
“The transfer was incomplete. He can’t survive now. He was dying anyway,” Mr. Forsyth admitted.
“This was your plan all along,” Yasmin realised. Dylan hugged her, knowing this wasn’t easy. While he did so, he spotted Josh stirring in the corner of his eye, slowly lifting his head.
“If this is the last thing I do,” Josh’s eyes glowed yellow, and he stretched himself as far as he could. His fangs came into view and he sank them into Mr. Forsyth’s neck. Blood sprayed out – it was a horrifying sight for Dylan, and it triggered memories of his own bite, that horrible night in the woods. He felt sorry for Mr. Forsyth to an extent, but at the same time, karma was a bitch. He screamed in pain before sinking to the floor, shell-shocked. Josh collapsed back into the restraints of the handcuffs again.
“He was still technically the alpha,” Drew realised. The irony of a hunter becoming a werewolf.
“And he can be saved,” Yasmin considered, “If the transfer completes, technically.”
“So someone has to become the alpha instead,” Freddie joined the dot. Dylan’s brain was doing overtime. He had no idea what to suggest.
“I don’t want it,” Drew immediately said, “I vote for Dylan.” Dylan felt sick. The thought of becoming the alpha absolutely horrified him. The responsibility was huge and he’d be a walking target.
“What?” he struggled to form a sentence in response.
“I agree,” Freddie voted, “And we’re the only options here.” Dylan gulped. Could he be the alpha? Taking on the duty of leading the pack.
He looked to Jono for guidance. He nodded and smiled kindly. Yasmin gave him a double thumbs-up, too. He had their support. That’s all he needed.
“Let’s do this,” Dylan decided. He walked over to Josh, butterflies multiplying in his stomach, and whispered into his ear, “I forgive you, and I’ll do you proud.”
Worried about causing pain, Dylan regretfully poked his claws through Josh’s skin. He closed his eyes, focusing, allowing the wolf to take over and consume his mind. He was there for what felt like ages, but it can’t have been more than a few seconds.
Then he listened to his instinct. He withdrew slowly, keeping his eyes shut, and turned around to face the group.
His eyes shot open, and the red glow of an alpha shone brightly for the first time.
The car journey home was depressingly quiet for Yasmin. She had hopped into Jono’s car with Dylan, and was sitting alone on the backseat. It wasn’t entirely silent – the radio was playing, and Avril Lavigne’s “Head Above Water,” was playing. It felt pretty appropriate.
However, the lack of conversation spoke volumes. Nobody knew what to say, her included. She simply sat checking her phone. She had tried texting her mum again, each text sent with more and more urgency. Her dad had been arrested – the Sheriff had seen him murder Clara with his own eyes, he had no chance of getting off. It felt shit, although it was like ripping a waxing strip off. It would hurt either way, so better to get it over with instead of dragging it out.
“How’s the passenger?” Dylan smiled kindly as he turned around to face her.
“I’ve been better,” Yasmin honestly replied.
“Sorry. Stupid question,” Dylan sympathised.
“It’s alright. I’ve just…got a lot to think about,” Yasmin explained.
“Sure. Has your mom replied?” Dylan enquired.
“Nope. Not that I should be surprised. She’s always been too busy for me,” Yasmin felt ashamed to talk about her family life, even if she knew Dylan and Jono would never judge.
“I’d have to check with my mom but I’m sure she’d be fine with you staying at ours,” Dylan offered.
“Hey, what about me?” Jono jested.
“You can too, if you can bear sleeping in a separate bedroom,” Dylan teased.
“Maybe I’ll pass,” Jono giggled. It certainly lightened Yasmin’s mood a little.
“Thanks for the offer,” Yasmin replied, “Have you called your mom?”
“Not yet. I think I’d better do it face-to-face. I was gonna tell her about me,” Dylan revealed.
“Really? Wow,” Jono reacted, “Want a bit of support?”
“Thanks, but I’d better do it alone. I’m shitting myself,” Dylan nervously laughed.
“You’ll smash it,” Yasmin encouraged. She was proud of Dylan. He’d just taken on such a huge responsibility, and despite the setbacks, becoming a werewolf had been the making of him.
Carefully closing the front door on his way in, Dylan was cautious not to make a sound. It was the early hours of the morning – Dylan was unsure on the specific time but the sun was starting to show itself. His mum was almost certainly asleep, giving him time to think about what to tell her. So many scenarios were dashing through his mind. What were the right words?
He could have done with Yasmin’s help, but she wanted to spend a final night at Freddie’s before she potentially moved in with Dylan; it made sense, as all her belongings were there.
Nevertheless, Dylan was pleased to be home. The familiar feel of the carpet, the sight of the pretty wallpaper, and the fresh smell of the new sofa, bought a couple of weeks ago. Immediately, he felt calm after the rollercoaster of emotions that summed up not just that night, but the entire week.
“Dylan, is that you?” he heard Caroline call. It sounded close, and like she had only just woken up. Dylan popped his head into the living room, where a lamp had just been switched on. It was Caroline, lying on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket.
“Mom, what are you doing down here?” Dylan questioned, going to sit next to her. She made room at the opposite end of the sofa.
“I was waiting for you. I didn’t think you’d be so late,” Caroline explained.
“Sorry. Been a chaotic night,” Dylan responded.
“Anything you wanna talk about?” Caroline gently enquired.
“I thought you wanted to say something, the Sheriff said so,” Dylan swerved. He was gearing up to his moment, but it wasn’t yet.
“Oh, err, okay,” Caroline seemed unprepared, “How would you feel about me and the Sheriff, you know, being together?”
“Like, a couple?” Dylan was surprised. It all made sense now – his more frequent visits and his protectiveness over her, but he hadn’t thought for a second that this was a possibility.
“Only if you’re okay with it. I still love your dad and I always will, please don’t forget that,” Caroline worried.
“I know mom, and I will too. You can date who you want, you don’t need my approval,” Dylan responded. She had been so accepting of his relationship, the least he could offer was the same back. Besides, he liked the Sheriff a lot.
“Really? Thank you, sweetie, it means the world,” Caroline threw her arms around Dylan and planted a loving kiss on his cheek, “Right, get upstairs to bed. It’s a school night.” Shit. Dylan had forgotten about school. He had a matter of hours before he needed to get up.
“Night mom,” he gave her a peck on the cheek and headed up to bed. Every second of sleep was now precious. His own revelation could wait.
Shattered. Dylan had approximately two and a half hours’ sleep overnight. The walk to school was especially tiring, but he powered through. He knew he had the strength. He was the alpha, he could do anything he wanted. That’s what he told himself, anyway.
At the school gate, Dylan was surprised to see Josh, looking radiant and fuller of life than the night before.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Dylan smiled.
“Much better. Thanks, for everything,” Josh smiled back. Dylan hadn’t seen the kindness in his eyes in a long time.
“It’s nothing. I hope you’re sticking around,” Dylan responded. He knew very little about Josh’s home situation – he’d never mentioned parents or relatives.
“It’s down to the authorities I guess. Wherever they place me,” Josh thought aloud.
“You’re in foster care?” Dylan clarified.
“Yeah, since I was little. I ran away from my last home. I doubt they’d take me back. I’ll probably be moved again,” Josh explained sounding very disheartened. Dylan didn’t know what to say, so he placed a comforting hand on Josh’s shoulder. Sometimes, less was more.
Together, they strolled over to their usual bench. Yasmin was there alone, unusually without her school bag or even an exercise book in sight. Dylan caught her winking at Josh, who then left the two of them alone.
“What was that about?” Dylan wondered.
“I wanted to catch you alone, I’ve spoken to the others already,” Yasmin replied, “I’ve got some news. My mum’s been in contact.” Dylan’s stomach sank. He sensed this wouldn’t be good news.
“She wants me to live with her, in New York, and I’ve said yes. I’m leaving today. The authorities got in contact and she was keen, although she’s my only real option in their eyes,” Yasmin continued. Dylan felt like he’d been punched repeatedly in his gut.
“Can’t you stay with somebody here?” he couldn’t hide his upset. Tears formed in his eyes, and he noticed an identical situation in Yasmin’s too.
“I can’t. I need to get away from here for a bit. All those memories of him, it hurts, Dylan,” Yasmin justified, wiping some stray tears from her cheek.
“What about Freddie?” Dylan questioned.
“He knows. He took it alright, but feels a bit down. I trust I can rely on you to look after him,” Yasmin instructed. Dylan nodded without hesitation.
“I’m gonna miss you like crazy,” Dylan struggled to speak.
“Same. You’ve kept me sane, Dylan,” Yasmin tried to smile, “We can keep in contact, and I expect loads of visits.
“You try and keep me away,” Dylan giggled, “Who will help me with my homework?”
“Me over Skype, I bet,” Yasmin laughed. They stood up and wrapped their arms around each other. Dylan didn’t want to let go, knowing that as soon as the hug concluded, he’d have to say goodbye, and he hated goodbyes with a passion. After a few moments though, Yasmin regretfully pulled away, “See ya.”
“Bye,” Dylan couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, allowing them to slip down his face as Yasmin gave a little wave and confidently strutted off the school grounds.
He stood there motionless, trying and failing to clear his eyes, when he felt another hand slip into his own. It was Jono, of course. Just who he needed. He didn’t even have to say anything; the fact he was there as a shoulder to cry on – literally – meant everything to Dylan.
He had to learn how to succeed without Yasmin, and he’d hoped the alpha inside him would be able to inspire that.