When unusual and horrifying corpses appear around Crystalshaw, Dylan and Jono are thrown into a new investigation. With the discovery of experiments on supernatural creatures, Dylan has to fight to protect his pack, as well as keeping Jono safe as he struggles to control his new abilities. Can Dylan pull his pack together, in spite of missing memories and disorientation, before a new threat is unleashed onto Crystalshaw?
As Jono gets to grips with his new werewolf powers and his cousin Sammi being on the scene, he and Dylan are sent on a new investigation when they come across the most horrifying corpse. Meanwhile, Drew enlists Lily to help piece together a mystery involving Monty, and Freddie makes a new friend.
Haunted by his biggest nightmare, Josh struggles to act as if nothing was happened at Lily's party, leading to a heart-to-heart with Freddie. After struggling with control, Jono realises his relationship with Dylan works both ways. Drew, Lily and Yasmin interrogate their surprising lead.
Dealing with the events of Lily's party, Josh finds support in his friends and family. Dylan, Jono and Drew find a potential survivor of the recent attacks, while Yasmin and Freddie take to the hospital to investigate the existing corpses.
With the hospital under lockdown, Dylan pursues answers with a little help from Brett. Yasmin is forced to think quickly to escape the mysterious, fearsome scientists, but when the pack end up trapped, they face a spine-tingling revelation.
Desperate to save a loved one, Yasmin helps Jono and Lily embark on a trip to discover some answers while she and Dylan investigate another killing. Drew enlists a small army to assist Freddie in the fight back.
Investigating the laboratory, Freddie is disgusted by what he finds hidden by the scientists. Dylan and Yasmin dig for answers when even more questions are raised, while Jono and Lily uncover a relic with unknown significance.
Determined to slot the missing pieces together, Dylan and Jono begin to make links using the scientists' paper trail. Freddie makes an important discovery to track the scientists and the Anpao, while Drew assists Lily in finding the answrs she desperately wants.
The Makeshift Army
Armed with enough knowledge to defend themselves, Dylan unites the pack to fight back against the scientists. However, he and Drew are left stunned when they reveal their true plan. Freddie, Yasmin and Josh come face-to-face with the scientists' creations, while Jono and Lily put family first.
With the scientists' plan in place, the pack have to think fast to outsmart their genius opponents. Freddie faces his toughest dilemma yet, Drew makes a life-changing decision, and Dylan realises that, now more than ever, he has to step up and be the alpha.
1: Fear Written by MarthaJonesFan
Jolting upwards, Jono found himself feeling distressed and sweaty. This had been his life for the entire fortnight that had passed since he received the bite. His sleep was interrupted, he had been having the most terrible nightmares, and he had even woken up several miles away without knowing anything about how he got there.
“Hey, it’s okay,” he instantly felt Dylan wrapping his arms around him, calming him down, gently rubbing and soothing his arms. It was the one small relief for Jono – knowing he always had Dylan by his side during the night, “All better?”
“It’s never better,” Jono sighed, “This has been going on for two weeks. How much longer?”
“Not long, remember I promised? Things will get better soon,” Dylan reassured, “Your hearing has come on so much.”
“It’s hard work,” Jono complained. He was a werewolf, and it was like learning how to walk from scratch.
“Then relax, you don’t need to know everything immediately. I was the worst student, just ask Drew,” Dylan chuckled, resting his head on Jono’s shoulder.
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Jono laughed.
“Come on, let’s just sleep, we have school tomorrow,” Dylan suggested, snuggling up against Jono’s chest as they both laid back down. Dylan certainly knew how to persuade him – the feeling of their bare chests touching was insatiable.
Jono didn’t want to move, keeping Dylan resting on him for as long as possible. Dylan was right, after all – they had a long road to travel together, but for now, they needed rest.
Complete with an unusual spring in her step, Yasmin felt weirdly positive about coming into school that morning. It wasn’t that she hated the classes, but it wasn’t the most ideal environment for somebody outside the “cool” clique.
That day though, Yasmin couldn’t have cared less. She had another date with Josh after school; for once, homework was going on the backburner and would be completed first thing in the morning. They had already been out together three times – once for coffee, once for dinner and once to the cinema. All were pretty standard date settings, but tonight, they were ready to party.
That night was Lily’s annual house party, and Josh had invited her along as his date. It was their first proper outing as a pairing, so it felt like big news.
A bigger worry on her mind was Lily – it was the first party she had thrown in a while, and a lot had happened in her life since the last one. That said, Lily had spent every second of her free time planning the spectacle, so Yasmin had faith in her.
Slipping into maths, it was their first lesson with yet another new teacher. It was their third in just a few months, and the last two both met an unfortunate end. It felt like a cursed job. As she entered, Yasmin saw a young lady stood at the head of the classroom. Her straight, dark hair fell midway down her chest, hanging perfectly in place, complementing her gorgeous tanned brown skin.
As Yasmin passed through the room, she saw an assortment of both boys and girls gazing at her longingly. Reaching the back of the room, she caught both Freddie and Josh staring too.
“Hey,” she tapped Josh’s hand, scolding him. Both of them had dated her at some point, now they were admiring the same teacher. They had scarily identical tastes, “Who is she?
“That’s Miss Ahmed. And me? I’m only a mere man,” Josh joked.
“You’re a boy, don’t flatter yourself,” Yasmin teased back, taking her seat. She noticed the seat on her left was unusually empty, “Where’s Dylan?”
“He stayed at Jono’s last night, he’s probably hungover,” Josh responded. Hungover? Since when had Dylan expressed any interest in alcohol at all?
“That’s not like them,” Yasmin responded, suspicious of Josh’s words.
“Oh, not hungover from alcohol. Hungover from other stuff, if you know what I mean,” Josh hinted, smirking. Yasmin immediately knew what he meant, and she was disgusted.
“You’re gross,” she told herself.
“She’s not wrong,” Freddie backed Yasmin up, though he looked to be concealing a cheeky grin of his own. Yasmin rolled her eyes – boys and their dirty minds.
Anxiously checking his watch, Dylan leaned against Jono’s car. This had happened every time he had spent the night at Jono’s over the past fortnight, and school were surely going to give him a slap on the wrist if he were late again. He didn’t want that, and thought of getting told off worried him greatly – it was why he was usually so good at following the rules, or an expert at avoiding being caught.
“Hurry up!” Jono yelled into the house from the doorway, before turning to Dylan, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Dylan reassured. It was the truth – Jono wasn’t the one at fault. He was just as good at being punctual as Dylan himself, or at the very least, he was conscious of Dylan’s anxiety surrounding lateness and rule-breaking.
“I’m sorry, I still can’t work out how to use that shower, and then I lost the top I wanted to wear,” Sammi babbled, still walking irritatingly slowly and casually out of the front door with a tiny handbag acting as her schoolbag.
“Sammi, you’re going to school, not New York fashion week,” Jono sighed.
“Can we go? We’re late already,” Dylan nagged.
“Wow, who died and made you the fun police, Dylly?” Sammi poked fun at him. She insisted on calling him “Dylly” as some sort of weird joke. It was safe to say that Dylan didn’t really appreciate it.
“Get in the car,” Jono commanded. Dylan caught his eye for a moment, both of them sharing the same glances of despair, “The back, this time.”
“Whatever,” Sammi groaned. Two days before, she had sat in the passenger seat – Dylan’s usual place. He wasn’t happy, considering a drive to school with Jono was one of his favourite times, and his job was to be the DJ while Jono drove.
Sitting inside the car, Dylan queued up his current favourite song – “Killing Butterflies” by Lewis Blissett. The blaring synths sounded at the pretty loud volume that Jono always liked his music at.
“Can you put Ed Sheeran on?” Sammi requested.
“No,” Dylan bluntly responded. She was like a five-year-old kid, yet she was only one year younger than them both. Apparently, her dad was away on work and had sent her to stay with his brother, Jono’s dad, but Dylan had noticed her heartbeat increasing whenever she mentioned that. She was lying. Furthermore, she was essentially a stranger to Jono – they hadn’t seen each other in years, which didn’t help Dylan feel more comfortable around her.
Dylan jumped out of his skin as something whacked heavily against the windscreen. Jono skidded the car to a halt. Dylan immediately felt on edge; it wasn’t his own fear, it was a chemo-signal from whatever they bashed into. It was a living thing, though he suspected it wasn’t any longer.
“What the hell was that?” Sammi cried out. Instantly, Dylan could sense this wasn’t something Sammi needed to know about. So far, they had successfully avoided telling or showing her anything werewolf related, and Dylan wanted to keep it that way. Jono certainly did too – he hadn’t even told his parents about his new identity yet.
“Stay here,” Dylan ordered as he stepped out of the car cautiously. He felt uneasy, the fear radiating from whatever it was. Lying at the side of the road was a body. A human body, but not like one Dylan had ever seen before.
“Oh god,” Jono felt repulsed by what he’d seen, and rightfully so. The body looked like it had been cut open in more than one place, with dried blood decorating the areas surrounding those wounds. One eye looked to have been gauged out entirely, and there wasn’t a single tooth left in their mouth. It was a vile, repulsive sight.
“Call an ambulance,” Dylan suggested. Though he had no proof to suggest this was supernatural, it was too weird for him to simply ignore.
“You really don’t have to throw this party, you know,” George reminded for the seven-hundredth time that day. Lily groaned. Though she understood he was looking out for her, she had a mind of her own and, unbelievably for some, it still worked despite depression and anxiety.
“Dude, chill out, I’ve got every inch of it planned,” Lily reassured, ignoring whatever Mr. Marshall was talking about during their English class. Party planning was her top skill; she could do it in her sleep.
“I can come round straight after school to help set up,” George insisted. He wasn’t giving up.
“Fine, whatever you want, but don’t get in my way,” Lily gave in. It was the easiest way to get him to be quiet.
“I thought you’d be gagging for extra help,” George noticed Lily’s blunt response. It was about time.
“I’m not a baby, George, I’m an adult,” Lily reminded, “And I feel better than I’ve felt in ages.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I just want to make sure you stay that way. Perhaps you’re better off kept out of all the werewolf shit,” George wondered.
“Did you forget that both our brothers are werewolves now?” Lily noted, “And I’m halfway there myself.”
“True, I’m just thinking aloud,” George considered, “I just don’t want to lose you, or Freddie. You’re both in so deep that it scares me sometimes.”
“I know, but remember all the good we have done too,” Lily maintained. Though so much had gone wrong in Crystalshaw over the year that had just passed, everything they achieved as a pack helped to put it right.
Grabbing her attention from outside the window, looking over George’s shoulder, Lily noticed Drew creeping into school through the fire exit door. Whenever Drew was sneaking around, it usually meant something was up.
“Excuse me, Mr. Marshall,” Lily raised her hang with urgency,” Can I go to the bathroom please?”
“Be quick, Miss Chadwick,” he responded.
As Lily stood up, George shot her a look of confusion. Lily replied with a devilish wink. She was keen to get the scoop.
“Hey, where have you been?” Lily interrogated, calling across the corridor.
“Nowhere,” Drew coyly replied.
“I can hear your heartbeat, dumbass,” Lily replied, focusing on the notably irregular beats from his chest.
“Alright, I went to see Allyn,” Drew gave in. Lily loved her ability to squeeze any information she wanted out of Drew, who was notably a closed book otherwise.
“You see her all the time after school, what’s so different now?” Lily continued to probe.
“Monty came back three hours late last night, and he had no idea why or how,” Drew explained.
“Drunk? High?” Lily reasoned.
“Neither,” Drew answered, “Kamilah thought the same so we tested him, but three hours of his memory have been wiped.”
“Have you told Dylan?” Lily queried. This sounded like something he needed to be made aware of, and quickly.
“Not yet, I wanted something concrete first,” Drew answered, “I want to check CCTV.”
“I’ll help,” Lily responded. She knew George wouldn’t be happy, but she had a job to do, and the party had to go ahead without a werewolf-sized glitch that night.
Waiting impatiently outside Ed’s office, Dylan couldn’t remove the horrific, gruesome sight of the corpse from his mind. He had never seen anything as grotesque as that before, and what made it worse was Dylan’s journalistic mind considering exactly what caused those injuries and who was behind it. He wished he could just forget about it entirely.
Having dropped Sammi at school, Jono had accompanied Dylan to speak to Ed. School didn’t feel like the environment Dylan wanted to be in after seeing something like that. Thankfully, Jono was never more than a few centimetres away, never letting go of the grip he kept on Dylan’s hand.
“Hey boys,” Ed greeted, opening the office door assertively, “Sorry to keep you waiting, come on in.” As they entered Ed’s office of organised chaos, Dylan kept hold of Jono’s hand. It went without saying between them after a year, but they took each and every step together.
“Did you find anything?” Jono wondered, speaking on Dylan’s behalf.
“Yes and no,” Ed confusingly answered, “The corpse threw up absolutely nothing. No DNA other than itself. Whoever did this is a professional, we know this for sure.”
“What’s the good news?” Dylan enquired, feeling curious to learn as much as he could. It was like a murder mystery television show that he used to watch with his mum over the weekend.
“It continues a pattern. Every two days for the past eight days now, a new body has turned up in similar circumstances. Not a patch of evidence on any, but all bodies were mauled in separate ways,” Ed detailed.
“What about CCTV?” Jono thought logically.
“Conveniently the nearest cameras all malfunctioned at the time of the collision,” Ed answered. Dylan was finding himself more and more encapsulated by the mystery as he learnt more of the details.
“What could do that?” Dylan thought aloud, examining the photos of the other victims on Ed’s desk. One had all its teeth removed, the second had a chunk of its nose missing, and the third had skin absent all around its cheeks. It was like something from a horror film.
“Who, not what,” Ed corrected, “These aren’t animal attacks, the injuries are way too specific.”
“It doesn’t look human either,” Dylan reasoned, “I mean, who could do this?”
“Somebody very sick,” Ed offered.
“But this is Crystalshaw, there’s always more to it,” Dylan thought. He felt a responsibility for anything even vaguely unusual in the town, because it almost always linked back to werewolves or the supernatural.
“I’m not having you come back in a body bag, Dylan,” Ed put his foot down, “If I get a hint of anything supernatural, I’ll let you know, but in the meantime, please take it easy. I know what you’ve seen isn’t pleasant.”
Dylan sighed. He wasn’t happy to take no for an answer, which meant his sneaking around had to be on top form to avoid being caught.
Shoving away his maths textbook for another day, Freddie was pretty pleased it was already lunchtime. The sooner school was over, the better. Junior year wasn’t easy so far, and Freddie felt like he was rapidly falling behind the pace of everyone else. Yasmin had tried to help him catch up, but it was hard work – he couldn’t focus or motivate himself.
Attention problems weren’t new for Freddie – he had been described as hyper and frantic his entire life, and his ADHD diagnosis and subsequent medication certainly helped, but now it was affecting his studies. He kept forgetting to book a medication review – organisation was never a strong point.
“Oh, sorry,” a voice interrupted Freddie’s train of thought as his locker door jolted slightly. Beside him was Jono’s cousin Sammi, who he had met only briefly since she arrived. Mostly, he had listened to Jono ranting about how irritating he was, but Freddie’s encounters had always been pleasant.
“It’s okay,” Freddie noticed her struggling with a large pile of books, “Need a hand?”
“No, I’m okay,” Sammi lied, dropping every book onto the floor as her arms gave way.
“Hey, don’t worry,” Freddie instantly knelt down to help pick them up, saving Sammi the embarrassment.
“I’m sorry, I’m a mess,” Sammi’s cheeks blushed a cute shade of pink.
“No, it’s okay,” Freddie reassured, “First few weeks are never easy.”
“It’s not like I’ve never been to school,” Sammi defended, “It’s just…a lot.”
“Tell me about it,” Freddie agreed. He was in an almost identical predicament.
“We’d be here ‘til next week,” Sammi nervously laughed at herself, as if she were fed up and over it.
“I don’t mind,” Freddie kindly smiled at her. He got the impression that nobody else had been kind to her since her arrival.
“We’ve still got half an hour of lunch, I guess I could give you the edited highlights,” Sammi smiled back. She looked comfortable and at ease all of a sudden. Perhaps they needed each other – the perfect escape from the depths of school.
Once again impressed by Lily’s social skills, Drew was relieved she was on such good terms with Mrs. Langston the receptionist. Lily’s superb cover story of her missing homework was enough to get them into the CCTV room, and as far as Mrs. Langston knew, they were checking to see if Lily really did leave it at the bench. Of course, that was only half true. They were indeed checking CCTV, but for something far more serious.
The aim was to track Monty on his usual daily sweep around town. They all knew that Crystalshaw was a hub for supernatural activity, and it was important to keep their eyes and ears peeled, for the sake of both packs that Allyn and Drew respectively belonged to. Without fail, on his patrol, Monty passed the school gate at home time – 15:00 every day. They needed to track him as best as they could.
“What are we looking for?” Lily sat in front of the computer, which displayed a rotating view of four random cameras at a time.
“School gates, three o’clock yesterday. He’ll be there, he always is,” Drew directed.
Lily clicked at the top left corner, finding a menu with a drop-down list of all available cameras. She clicked on “School Gate 1” and fast-forwarded through the footage from the day before. Drew paid close attention to the clock as it whirred towards 15:00.
“Stop,” Drew commanded, the timer slowing at exactly 14:59:00. He examined the scene in front of him – only a small selection of students who had been lucky enough to get out of class a few minutes early, or those who had a free period. No Monty yet. The seconds ticked away to 15:00, and as soon as it arrived, the footage cut out. The screen filled with feedback, like a television with no signal.
“Huh? Why is it not working?” Lily seemed confused.
“Somebody knows what they’re doing,” Drew recognised, “Go back to just before.”
Lily rewound the footage a few seconds. 14:59:59. She paused so Drew could examine the shot. He looked at the other faces in view. Only one of them was recognisable, and it gave Drew a glimmer of hope.
“That’s Brett,” Drew recognised, “We can ask him.”
“He’s coming to the party later,” Lily added. Perfect – they had their chance to interrogate their prime witness.
Journalistic intrigue was one of so many things Jono had in common with Dylan, so it figured that they both shared the same idea following their chat with Ed – return to the scene of the crime. Specifically, the tranquil forest-side roads where the corpse landed on his car.
Dylan looked nervous about returning, which was understandable considering just how awful the body looked. Jono felt scared too, but it was his moment to be strong, especially considering just how much Dylan had been there for him over the previous fortnight.
Immediately, Jono tried to focus all of his senses, but it wasn’t easy. He had worked a lot on his hearing, but less so on the rest. A cocktail of scents filled his nose; the damp mud of the forest, the petrol of his car and Dylan’s cologne most notably. He could see the tiniest objects in the distance, but it was hard to focus when everything nearby was so much more detailed too. Jono struggled to imagine a time where he could master all of these skills.
“Have you got anything?” Jono queried, noticing the hairs on the back of his neck were stood on end.
“I can’t shake that feeling,” Dylan confessed, “I feel scared, but I don’t know why. I think it’s from the body.”
“But the body’s in the morgue, how can we feel it here?” Jono queried.
“It’s like when you walk along a beach, and you leave even the tiniest imprint on the sand,” Dylan theorised, “Scents, emotion, they linger.”
“I can feel it,” Jono admitted, “All around me. It’s no imprint, it’s strong.”
“It was really scared,” Dylan added, “Be careful. Keep listening. You be the ears; I’ll be the eyes.”
“The perfect team,” Jono loved how Dylan included him, as opposed to keeping him safe firmly away from the action.
They stepped out of the road and into the forest, the trees immediately shadowing them from the sunlight. They had spent a lot of time in the forest over the previous year, but it never made Jono feel any more at ease; too much of it was a mystery for him to feel comfortable.
Moving through the forest, Jono kept his focus on his hearing and nothing else. However, nothing much of note was around. Birds tweeted and twigs crackled, but Jono couldn’t hear anyone other than himself or Dylan.
“Anything?” Jono questioned, hoping Dylan was having more luck.
“Nope,” Dylan responded, “They’re long gone, but I don’t know.”
“You feel more scared now, don’t you?” Jono mentioned, feeling the hairs on his arms stood on end.
“Yup, like we’re getting nearer and nearer,” Dylan agreed, before pausing, stopping abruptly in his tracks, “Don’t look down.”
Despite Dylan’s warning, Jono couldn’t help himself. He glanced onto the ground. Immediately, Jono had to turn back away. It was an eye. A solitary human eye on the ground, looking directly at him.
“It’s from the body, it has to be,” Dylan realised.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jono suggested, wanting to get as far away as possible. Something abhorrent was going on, and Jono felt certain that they would be seeing more of whoever, or whatever, had done this.
Feeling a little embarrassed, Josh had overslept and woken up to a concerned Yasmin yelling at him to wake up. This had left him with only a few moments to spruce himself up for the party, when Yasmin had clearly spent hours making herself look more gorgeous and glamorous than usual.
He already felt a little inadequate, not being able to pick Yasmin up from her house and take her to the party himself. He was still learning to drive, but he wasn’t insured on Caroline’s car, so she understandably yet annoyingly wouldn’t let him drive it. Though it was the 21st century, and it was important for both halves of a couple to be equal, Josh felt a little chivalry wouldn’t have hurt anybody.
“It’s not like you to nap,” Yasmin queried, driving them both to Lily’s house.
“I know,” Josh tried thinking back to what he did before the nap, but he couldn’t think. He had no recollection of lying on his bed, and weirdly, he wasn’t even under the duvet. He didn’t even remember coming home from school.
“Is everything okay?” Yasmin wondered, “You seem out of sorts.”
“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for years,” Josh opened up, “I have no idea what’s happened in the past few hours.”
“I tried calling you. I waited for you after school, but you never came,” Yasmin explained, “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“I don’t feel okay,” Josh continued, “I feel…different, and I don’t know why. I don’t remember falling asleep, and I don’t remember leaving school.”
“That was only a few hours ago,” Yasmin seemed perplexed, “Were you feeling okay earlier?”
“Fine,” Josh admitted, “Great in fact.”
Josh had nothing more to say, he just had to keep his eyes peeled and keep racking his brain. Whatever he did, it must have been in there somewhere.
In the meantime, Josh stared out of the window. Suddenly, he spotted a familiar face. An impossible face. She wasn’t just one face, either. She was every face along the busy Crystalshaw town street. She was looking directly at him.
2: Visions Written by MarthaJonesFan
Panting like mad, Dylan safely shut his bedroom door behind himself and Jono. Only now was he starting to calm down and feel secure. The fear of the corpse was unlike anything else he had felt. His skin felt too tight, he couldn’t sit still, and he was constantly on the verge of tears. Whatever happened to it must have been so awful for this amount of fear to still be lingering.
“This is too creepy,” Jono breathed a huge sigh of relief, “That was a fucking eye, Dyl.”
“I know,” Dylan shared his relief, “Someone’s leaving us a trail, and I don’t like it.”
“Do you think it’s a trap?” Jono queried, both of them trying to squeeze as much information out of the situation as they could.
“Definitely,” Dylan replied. He was pretty certain this was all calculated perfectly. One thing he had learnt about the supernatural world was that nothing ever happened by coincidence.
“So what next? We can’t keep following, we can’t talk to Ed, we’re screwed,” Jono began to stress. His eyes glowed yellow; his emotions were getting the better of him.
“Jono, take my hands,” Dylan instructed. He took both of Jono’s hands himself, instantly feeling a sharp pain shooting through his hands. Jono’s claws had shot out and were digging into Dylan’s skin. Dylan winced, trying to keep himself composed, “Find your anchor.”
Jono was fully shifted. His usual clean-shaven face was covered in hair and his perfect teeth had become razor-sharp fangs. This wasn’t Dylan’s first time seeing Jono as a werewolf, but it never felt any more normal.
“Look at me, Jono. Remember me, it’s Dylan,” he encouraged. Jono made eye contact, looking as if he’d had a sudden realisation. He began to calm down, his face slowly but surely shifting back to its usual cute, naïve state, and his claws retracted, much to Dylan’s relief.
“I’m sorry,” Jono looked broken, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Then stay with me, because I do,” Dylan kept his grip on Jono’s hands, “Doesn’t Lily have her party tonight?”
“I can’t go, not like this,” Jono immediately rejected.
“It’s Lily’s big night. Let’s show our faces for ten minutes,” Dylan encouraged, “Then sneak up to the treehouse.”
Jono’s concern lifted. Dylan didn’t especially want to socialise at the party either, but this was their perfect excuse to spend a night together.
As Josh arrived at Lily’s house, the party was already in full swing. Music was pumping out of the wide-open front door, and Lily’s driveway was swamped with all sorts of vehicles – some flashier than others.
Linking arms with Yasmin, Josh decided to put the previous confusion behind him. No matter what, they were both still attending the party, and there was no use dwelling when he couldn’t do anything to fix whatever had gone wrong. Yasmin was his number one focus – it was important that she had the best time possible.
“Hey, welcome,” Lily beamed, playing the role of party host as brilliantly as always. She looked stunning in her stylish red dress and heels, with her cropped waves resting on top of her shoulders.
“You got Drew here? At a party?” Yasmin was impressed, spotting Drew filling up his glass in the kitchen.
“Nobody misses my parties,” Lily looked smug and more confident than she had in a while. George joined her by her side. She looked like she had won in life, and she was only nineteen.
Josh glanced past Lily and into the kitchen. She was there again. The nightmarish face of Clara. She had been a permanent feature of his mind ever since he became the alpha, and she was the demand he had fought so hard to bury. Now he couldn’t avoid her. All his work had been for nothing.
“Hey, Josh,” a voice interrupted. Zoning back into the group, Josh saw the newly-arrived Freddie trying to grab his attention, “Everything okay?”
Josh didn’t reply. It wasn’t the right moment to launch into an explanation, but he didn’t want to lie either.
“Let’s go chat,” Freddie suggested. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so easy to sweep under the rug after all.
Scanning the room, Drew was on red alert. He was hoping to spot the distinctive dirty-blonde curls of Brett, ready to probe his memory. He must have seen something at the school gate the previous night, but why hadn’t he said anything? Brett was in-the-know, and he was basically part of he pack. It was his duty now.
Lily came to join him, emerging from the crowd with Yasmin in tow. Drew didn’t lose his focus on finding Brett, though. The amount of people in Lily’s house was pretty huge, making it difficult to spot even someone as tall as Brett.
“Explain again, I’m lost,” Yasmin requested, coming into Drew’s earshot.
“Monty went missing for three hours yesterday, we think Brett might know something,” Lily repeated, filling her glass with some more wine. Drew preferred to stick to the cola – werewolf bodies healed too quickly to get tipsy anyway.
“Brett? For real? He barely knows his own name,” Yasmin seemed shocked.
“Found him,” Drew noticed him enter the living room, “Meet me in your room, I’ll grab him.” Immediately, he pursued Brett, pushing through the crowd of humans who collectively had no spatial awareness.
“Brett,” Drew called up.
“Hey dude, didn’t think you’d be coming,” a jolly Brett replied. He was already a little drunk.
“Can I have a word?” Drew raised his voice, competing with the overbearing volume of the thudding bassline.
“Drew mate, you’re not really my type,” Brett laughed.
“Give it up,” Drew groaned, grabbing Brett by the collar and dragging him back through the crowd to the stairs. He knew his basketball teammate could be an idiot, but Drew had no time to waste.
Though he couldn’t deny just how great Lily was at throwing a party, Jono never enjoyed seeing his house full to the brim. At even the best of times, Jono had grown to prefer the peace and quiet of his own home as opposed to the claustrophobic dancefloors and late nights of parties.
Thankfully, Dylan felt much the same. Their nights together watching The Society on Netflix were far better than any party they had attended. He was craving one of those nights after the day he had just had.
“Your parents would go crazy if they saw this,” Dylan commented, seeing the mess already found outside the house.
“They know what happens when they go away, it’s hard to avoid the cheap replacements Lily finds in the thrift store the day after,” Jono mentioned, passing a broken family photo frame, “Anything valuable gets locked up before they go.”
“I couldn’t do that,” Dylan admitted. Jono understood – he got attached a lot more easily.
“Did you look into that diagnosis?” Jono queried.
“I want to get it,” Dylan replied, “It would be good to know for sure, but it doesn’t seem easy to get.”
“I see,” Jono nodded understandingly. He felt pretty bad for Dylan. Jono had read up on autism – lacking social skills, sensitive to light and sound, obsessive over interests; it described Dylan almost too well. However, it seemed like a long-winded process to get a diagnosis, “Well, we’ll tell our kids to have their parties somewhere else.”
Jono watched as Dylan’s sullen expression morphed into a beaming smile. He looked excited by Jono’s thought – the future was something they discussed from time-to-time, but it clearly meant a lot for Dylan to know that Jono had his back no matter what.
Inside the house, Jono was immediately met with the claustrophobic crowd he disliked intensely. He barely recognised anybody, either. Perhaps they were people he hadn’t noticed from around school? Doubtful, some of them looked at least double his age. Lily wouldn’t care, though; her party was a rip-roaring success.
“Drink?” Jono offered to Dylan, hoping the kitchen would be a bit quieter.”
“Definitely,” Dylan looked relieved. Sure enough, the kitchen was that little bit more tranquil, much to the relief of them both.
“Are you coping okay?” Dylan enquired, filling a glass with rosé wine; always his drink of choice.
“Yeah, trying not to think about it,” Jono admitted, “Trying to keep my brain busy.”
“I don’t get a choice, my brain is always busy,” Dylan opened up, “It’s hard to keep up with it.”
“That sounds exhausting,” Jono realised, “I can just about handle one train of thought.”
“Same,” Dylan chuckled, “You make it easy. Nobody’s ever understood me like you have.”
Jono felt touched. He knew he and Dylan had a connection like no other, but this was one of the loveliest things anyone had ever said to him. It meant the world.
“I love you, forever and always,” Jono quoted one of his favourite Taylor Swift songs as he tried and failed to keep his happy tears hidden.
“I love you too, silly,” Dylan wiped the tears away, gently caressing Jono’s cheek. It felt so cute; Jono couldn’t believe he had only known Dylan for little over a year. He could never go back to life without him – it simply made no sense.
Sat side-by-side on Jono’s bed, Freddie was determined to get to the bottom of whatever was consuming Josh. He seemed like his usual self at school, so this turn felt very sudden. Obviously, something had happened between school ending and the party beginning.
“I’m sorry, I’m a wreck,” Josh looked on the verge of tears.
“That’s nothing new,” Freddie jested, trying to raise the mood. Josh raised a smile – Freddie knew him better than anyone, including just how to cheer him up, “Tell me, maybe I can help.”
“Clara,” Josh simply said. That was a name Freddie was hoping to never hear again. Everything she put the pack through. Everything she put Josh through. It was unforgivable.
“She’s dead, Josh, remember?” Freddie carefully nudged, unsure of the exact reason she was being brought up.
“I know, but I saw her. On the way here. At the party. She’s following me,” Josh explained.
“She can’t be,” Freddie tried to keep his head in reality.
“I know what I saw,” Josh defended. Freddie wasn’t sure what to say. He knew Josh wouldn’t lie about something like that, but he also knew that Josh couldn’t possibly have seen Clara. The supernatural world was weird, but surely not that weird?
“What’s brought this on?” Freddie wondered. It felt unusually sudden.
“That’s just it, I don’t remember. I can’t remember a thing from this afternoon,” Josh continued, “I was at school, in class, then the next thing I knew, I woke up in bed. What’s happening to me, Freddie?”
“I don’t know,” Freddie was stumped. He hadn’t seen anything like this before, but it was clearly not having a positive impact on Josh’s state of mind, “But we can figure it out. Us two, Dylan, Jono, all of the others. In the meantime, I need you to hold it together. You’ve coped with much worse, remember? You’re strong, and I believe in you.”
Josh nodded. Freddie felt pretty proud of his pep talk, and obviously it was working.
Interrupting the moment, the door swung open. Jono blundered in, blissfully unaware, before grinding to a halt, clocking eyes awkwardly with Freddie.
“Oh, sorry,” Jono apologised, backing out.
“No, it’s okay,” Josh grabbed his attention, “We need your help.”
Freddie smiled proudly at him. Thank goodness he was getting the help he needed.
Thus far, Yasmin’s evening hadn’t even remotely gone to plan. She was expecting a fun night of unwinding with her friends, proudly showing off Josh on her arm, and forgetting about day-to-day life for a few hours.
Instead, Josh was having some sort of breakdown, and Drew and Lily had roped her into their latest amateur detective mission, which somehow involved Brett, the biggest douche in junior year. He was sat on Lily’s bed while the three of them stood facing him, proving who was in control.
Despite her confusion, Yasmin was also very intrigued. Monty’s amnesia seemed to tie in with Josh’s, but she needed a few more details before blurting that out. Now was her chance to learn.
“What the heck is going on?” Brett questioned, having chugged down a full litre of water, “Is this more of that werewolf shit? I said I was sorry.”
“We know, but we need to ask you something,” Lily explained, keeping the situation as calm as she possibly could.
“Spit it out,” Brett rudely demanded. Yasmin was getting sick of him and his attitude. She grabbed him by the neck, holding him as firmly as she could.
“I suggest you co-operate, because if you don’t, I will drain every last drop of the water you just drank back out of your body, through your nose. Is that clear?” Yasmin played the role of bad cop. Drew usually did that, but he was being surprisingly tame instead. Yasmin would never have said it to his face, but she believed Allyn had softened him slightly.
“Alright,” Brett agreed, “What do you want to know?” Yasmin loosened her grip.
“Yesterday, straight after school,” Drew began, “You were stood outside the school gates.”
“Are you stalking me now?” Brett interrupted. Yasmin clutched his neck again, “Alright, I’ll be quiet.” Yasmin released him for what she hoped would be the last time.
“Did you see anyone? Anything out of the ordinary?” Drew continued.
“Err, I don’t think so,” Brett responded uselessly, “I saw that kid with the long hair, Monty.”
“Anything else? Dude, this is important,” Drew continued to probe.
“He was with his boyfriend, he said hi to me, but Monty wasn’t there anymore. I assumed he went a different way,” Brett detailed.
“Noah was there?” Lily was surprised.
“He didn’t mention anything,” Drew added, “He knew nothing about Monty’s disappearance at all.”
“He disappeared?” Brett interjected, “Is he okay?”
“Fine, but someone or something took him, and left Noah,” Drew answered. Yasmin could see he was trying to piece everything together, but what they had heard so far kept adding to the confusion.
“Maybe it was that scientist guy?” Brett pondered. Immediately, alarm bells began ringing in Yasmin’s mind.
“What scientist guy?” Yasmin queried.
“He walked past, just before I saw Noah,” Brett replied, “I wasn’t paying attention, but he had one of those white lab coats on.”
Suddenly, Yasmin’s intrigue ramped up to maximum levels. This was too weird not to be connected. She needed to confer with Josh’s story.
Sticking around in the quietest part of the kitchen, Dylan was wondering where Jono had gotten to. He had nipped upstairs to change into a more suitable party outfit, but hadn’t returned in almost twenty minutes. Dylan was debating whether or not to go and find him.
His eyes scanned the party – what he could see of it from the most distant point of the kitchen anyway. Weirdly, there wasn’t a single one of his friends in sight; even Lily herself was nowhere to be seen. That said, Dylan had noticed a wasted Sammi grinding between two senior year guys. Somehow, he wasn’t shocked.
Finally, to his relief, Dylan found a familiar face in the hallway.
“Freddie!” Dylan called out, grabbing his attention.
“Hey, there you are,” Freddie pulled up a stool and sat next to Dylan at the breakfast bar.
“Is everybody hiding from me?” Dylan chuckled.
“Yeah, you caught me so I’m eliminated,” Freddie went along with the joke, “No, I came looking for you. Shit’s going down upstairs.”
“Huh? What’s going on?” Dylan immediately began to panic. After everything he had seen that day, his mind was on red alert.
“Long story, but we need you. You’re the only person who can do this, apparently,” Freddie reasoned unconvincingly. He didn’t seem to have any idea what was going on either.
“Do what?” Dylan was getting more and more confused. He was hoping to have a chilled night after the day he’d had, not get further wrapped up in supernatural drama.
“Josh can’t remember anything this afternoon. Something happened to him, Dylan, and I’m worried. He wants you to help him find out, and he can show you how,” Freddie explained.
“What? How can I do that?” Dylan had no idea what Freddie was hoping he would do, “There’s so much weird shit happening, Freddie, and I think it’s only just beginning.”
“What have you seen?” Freddie could clearly tell something was up. Dylan felt scared even thinking about the corpses from before. The fear he felt was strongly present in his memories. He was on the verge of tears just thinking about it – as if he were on the edge of a cliff about to be pushed.
“A body, decapitated more or less. You could feel the fear miles away, even though it was dead,” Dylan detailed, his hands shaking. He noticed Freddie was listening intently. They both needed each other.
“Use that fear you can feel to help fight back, because Josh is scared too, and he needs his alpha. He needs his brother, because I know damn well I’d need mine in a time like this,” Freddie reasoned. Dylan nodded. Freddie was right. Dylan had a responsibility.
Josh hadn’t moved from the side of Jono’s bed. In fact, he didn’t want to. He felt safer away from the crowds. Away from the possibility of seeing Clara’s fearsome face again. Even the thought of her name made Josh feel anxious, on-edge, and quite frankly disgusted. Without her interference, he wouldn’t have been so damn messed up.
That said, Josh couldn’t deny that so many good things had come from the chaos. He met Jono and Freddie – his best friends. He met Yasmin – the light at the end of ever dark tunnel he faced. Most importantly, he met Dylan – the only one who truly made him strive to become after person. He needed Dylan to look for his memories for him, because he was the only one careful enough, and who cared enough, to carry out this difficult task properly.
“Where is he?” Josh wondered, feeling impatient.
“He’s coming, Dylan wouldn’t abandon you,” Jono was sat by his side, keeping him calm.
“You’re so lucky,” Josh commented, “You found your someone. Someone to trust and rely on. I wish I had that.”
“You’ve got Yasmin, dude,” Jono reminded.
“Yeah, and I screwed that up without even knowing it,” Josh sighed. He felt deflated and fed up. Things had gone from the best they had ever been, straight back to square one.
“Isn’t that for me to decide?” Yasmin interrupted, stood in the doorway without Josh noticing.
“Sneaking up on me,” Josh raised a smile. He was so pleased she was willing to talk to him.
“Are you okay?” Yasmin wondered.
“I will be,” Josh replied, raising a smile, “And I promise I’ll make it up to you when I am.”
“You better,” Yasmin teased. Josh laughed, before spotting Dylan behind her. He had finally arrived.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Dylan approached, stopping in front of the bed, “I can’t lie, I’m pretty terrified about what’s about to happen.”
“It’s okay, I’ve done this loads before,” Josh assured him. He took Dylan’s right hand and placed it on his neck, “Release your class.” He felt the gentle sensation of the tip of Dylan’s thumb claws scratch against the hairs on his neck.
“What are you doing?” Yasmin looked concerned.
“Getting back what’s mine,” Josh replied, “When I say go, you need to press into my neck with your claws and keep totally still. If either of us move, I’m dead.”
“Got it,” a nervous Dylan responded.
“Okay, now,” Josh commanded, taking a deep breath. Instantly, he felt the harsh claws pinch into his skin. Josh froze on the spot. He focused his mind, feeling Dylan trundling around through the depths of Josh’s mind, searching for the memories he so desperately wanted.
Inside the deepest sections of Josh’s mind, it felt like Dylan was unlocking the most dusty and buried doors. All sorts came flooding back that Josh had kept away for so long. Clara. Clarissa. His parents. So much pain.
Then, suddenly, there it was. In the farthest corner of his memories. Hidden and disguised so that he couldn’t find it. Josh saw the white coats. The needles. The medical equipment. The ghastly plain walls. The clinical scent of hand sanitiser.
Dylan withdrew. Josh snapped back into the room. It felt like his mind had been blown.
“Did you see it?” Josh frantically asked, “The people in white.”
“Yes,” Dylan looked startled, as if he had seen a ghost. Josh remembered it all now, and instead of finding peace in knowing the truth, he now felt even more scared than before.
Re-joining the party, Lily felt satisfied that Brett hadn’t been a total waste of space for a change. He had provided them a lead, and even though they still knew very little about who or what this scientist was, it was some level of progress. Quite honestly, Lily found herself pretty horrified by the thought of the scientist – the convenient amnesia, the calculated CCTV disruption, and the after-effects the victims had already experienced.
On the bright side, her party was a massive success. The music hadn’t stopped the drinks kept flowing. Even though it was a school night, people were still getting wasted as if they had a chance to sleep off their inevitable hangover.
“You did it,” George found Lily as soon as she stepped into the front room, “I’m sorry for doubting you, baby.”
“I did,” Lily repeated, filled with pride. She knew she could – and it was her best party yet.
Shockingly, Lily heard a scream. Then another. And another. A chorus of screaming and shouting followed as the crowd began racing towards the door. Lily was confused, and instantly a little furious. What had happened? What was ruining her party so suddenly?
Pushing against the tide, Lily forced her way into the living room. Immediately, she noticed exactly what was causing the fuss. Draped over what used to be her coffee table, now a pile of shattered glass mixed with the broken window adjacent, was a corpse. It was brutal, and absolutely horrible to look at.
“What the hell is that?” George asked, repulsed. Lily felt the light hairs on her arms standing up. She was terrified.
“An experiment gone wrong,” Lily theorised. She couldn’t take her eyes off of it, even though it was the most awful sight she had ever seen. It looked like their skin had simmered and burnt, almost liquidated against its organs and skeleton.
“What’s going on?” Dylan rushed in, hearing the commotion.
“They were here,” Lily replied. Immediately, Dylan raced out of the front door. Lily followed – whoever did this, she had to see them.
Rushing into the front garden, Lily saw Dylan sprinting off after a person in a white coat. The scientist was there, and Dylan was heading straight towards them.
3: The Key Written by MarthaJonesFan
One minute to go. Josh had his hands gripping his bag, ready to go home. Biology had been just as boring as always, and Mrs. Johnson droned on, and on, and on…
There were two things keeping Josh going, though, and both were occurring that night. He had a date with Yasmin the beautiful girl he definitely didn’t deserve to have. Together, they were going to Lily’s party, which provided the perfect chance to dress up and look pretty. Josh had a shirt planned ready – he had bought it especially.
The bell rang. Relief flooded through Josh’s body. School was out. Before he embarked on his trek home, he had to make a quick stop at his locker – there was no need to be carrying what felt like 500 pages of a biology textbook around.
Shutting his books away for the night, Josh made eye contact with a man further down the corridor. He was tall, and wearing a flowing white lab coat. Josh assumed he was working with the chemistry teachers.
The man approached, walking furiously towards Josh. Josh kept an eye on him as he zipped his bag shut and flung it onto his back. The man continued to speed walk directly in Josh’s direction. It felt weird and unusual. Josh paid attention to the chemo signals in the room – the man was determined. He had a purpose, and was on a mission.
Scared, Josh backed into the boys’ toilets and locked himself in a cubicle. This was probably nothing, but he had learnt to do better than assume coincidence.
The door slammed open. Josh could spot the bottom of the coat from under the toilet door. This was absolutely no coincidence. Josh kept watching its movement, but he lost sight. The man was definitely in the toilets, but would Josh have been able to run for the exit before he’s spotted?
A hand swooped down and yanked Josh over the top. He tried fighting it off, but he couldn’t manage it – the clasp was too strong. Josh felt a sharp pain entering his neck, sliding in like a needle. His eyes immediately began to feel heavy; he couldn’t fight it. He lost the battle.
Sprinting as fast as he could, giving the chase everything he had, Dylan was determined to catch up to the scientist. Whoever they were, they had a head start on him, but Dylan was confident he could catch up – he had speed on his side.
He followed them out onto the road, keeping them in sight at all times. He couldn’t afford to be distracted – it could cost him the chance to learn who they are dealing with.
Throwing a dead body into Jono and Lily’s house was absolutely no coincidence – it was a planned attack. Whoever this was, they knew they would be there, and they knew it would provoke a reaction.
“Dylan, wait up,” Lily called from behind, running too.
“Go inside, keep the others safe,” Dylan called back, without losing focus on the scientist. Dylan was gaining ground. Shockingly, the scientist vanished as if they were never there in the first place. Dylan was furious. How could they get away so easily?
“What happened?” Lily queried as Dylan grinded to a halt.
“I…I don’t know,” Dylan replied, scanning the area. Surely it couldn’t have gone far? How could they have vanished like that in the first place? It made no sense.
“Dyl, they know where I live,” Lily stressed, “They did that on purpose.”
“I know,” Dylan assured, putting on a calm front, “They’re trying to scare us. If they wanted one of us, they’d have taken us by now.” He wasn’t sure he believed his own words, but Lily nodded. She was calming down, and that was what mattered.
“So much for the party,” Lily sighed. She looked deflated.
“Hey, it was brilliant, you did an amazing job,” Dylan wrapped his arm around her, not wanting her to feel down, “It’s not your fault that this happened, remember that.” Lily nodded. This party was such a big deal for her, and Dylan wasn’t prepared to let it tear her back down.
Stirring in the glare of the bright sunlight breaking through his curtains, Josh didn’t feel well rested. His night had been interrupted by night terrors and bad visions, so he felt like he had barely slept at all.
To make matters worse, he still had to go to school, and he didn’t have the energy nor the motivation. He still felt shaken and on-edge. He knew Clara wasn’t real, but he hadn’t stopped seeing her. She felt real to him.
“Rise and shine,” Caroline poked her head around the door, “Come on, time for school. I don’t care what you got up to last night, mister, there’s no excuses.”
“Ugh,” Josh sighed, not wanting to move out of his bed.
“Is everything okay, sweetie?” Caroline entered and sat on the edge of the bed, gently caressing his leg.
“Long story,” Josh replied, “I can’t do this.”
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m guessing this is more Dylan’s area than mine, but you are strong, and you are supported. Me and Ed, we’re always here for you,” Caroline reminded. She had the best words of support.
“Hey you two, am I missing all the love in here?” Ed joined in, a cheesy grin beaming across his face.
“Yeah, but it’s not an open invitation,” Caroline winked, “Are you heading to work?”
“Sure am, though I could do with an extra pair of hands. Dylan’s sent me on a wild goose chase,” Ed explained, “Looking for werewolf scientists or something.”
“They’re real,” Josh shuddered at the mere thought of them, knowing what they had done. Ed and Caroline shared a concerned glance.
“You need me to kick their ass?” Ed offered, his protective instinct immediately taking over.
“Take no prisoners,” Josh gave his permission. It felt good to know all hands were on deck.
Glancing around the school grounds, Freddie as amazed at just how calm and casual everybody was. He had seen the scenes of panic and distress at Lily’s party the night before. The screaming, the dashing for the nearest exit, and the sprinting into the distance to get as far away as possible. Now, it seemed as if everyone was trying to forget it ever happened. After all, Crystalshaw was known for its weird happenings, and werewolves weren’t exactly a secret any longer, but nobody ever discussed it. Life went on. An unspoken secret.
Freddie was, so far, the only one at the bench, which was unusual. Yasmin was always the first one to the bench, except Freddie was unusually early to school that morning. He couldn’t sleep all night. He saw that corpse being wheeled out of Lily’s house; it was ghastly in every sense of the word. Not only did it scare Freddie, though, it upset him. The level of fear he felt on every millimetre of his body told the story of a brutal killing, and it hurt to even consider what that person must have gone through.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Yasmin joined him opposite, finally arriving with her small pile of textbooks.
“I feel like I have,” Freddie confessed, “I can’t stop thinking about it. About that body.”
“Same,” Yasmin concurred. Freddie felt relieved to know he wasn’t the only one, “Any of us could have seen the scientist before, and we wouldn’t even know it.”
“Surely we would? I mean, Josh knew something was up. They made him scared,” Freddie thought aloud, “Except, they don’t just make people scared. They live off it. They targeted the house on purpose. They could have dumped the body anywhere, but they chose there, for a reason.”
“You’re right,” it was like Freddie had lit a spark in Yasmin’s mind. She was suddenly deep in thought, as if she were processing everything, “They’re creating fear among those who can sense it. Chemo signals.”
“Werewolves,” Freddie added, “Josh and Monty are both werewolves.”
“We need to examine the other bodies. Find out if they’re supernatural or not,” Yasmin suggested, “If they are, we can narrow this search down.” Freddie felt both sceptical and excited – he wasn’t sure he wanted to see that body again, but nevertheless, all progress was positive.
Dylan’s maths classroom might as well have a revolving door installed, he thought as he made his way to class to meet his third new teacher in just as many months. Of course, the previous two had met unfortunate and rather saddening ends, so Dylan was hoping whoever he now had was going to have better luck.
“She’s really fit, you guys are gonna love her,” Brett commented, tagging along with Dylan, Jono and Drew on their way into class. Dylan raised an eyebrow in his direction, noticing Jono was doing the same. Brett corrected himself, “Alright, just me and Drew, more attention for us.”
“Hurry up everybody, we have a lot to get through, take a seat,” a young lady stood at the front of the room as Dylan reached the doorway. Immediately, he could see the appeal. She had perfectly tanned skin, without a single spot or blemish, and her dead straight hair was cropped precisely to sit on her shoulders. Even Dylan couldn’t deny – she was certainly pretty.
“Three faces I haven’t met,” she commented, stopping Dylan, Jono and Drew in their tracks as Brett slipped past, “Drummond, Chadwick and Marsden, I assume? My name is Miss Asahd. I’m aware you’re all poor attendees.” She must have been referring to the class they missed the day before. Dylan had to think of an excuse, and quick.
“Sorry miss, I had a doctor’s appointment,” Dylan responded. He was impressed at his speed and efficiency.
“So did I,” Jono replied, flustered.
“And me,” Drew added. Drat. His great excuse was now the worst excuse in the history of excuses.
“All three of you?” she raised an eyebrow. Dylan knew she’d have to be crazy to believe them, “Sit down please.”
Dylan felt guilty. He hated being seen as anything other than a model student. A little deflated, he sunk into his seat near the back.
“Sorry,” Jono whispered from the adjacent seat, “Are you okay?” Jono knew that the tiniest incident could make Dylan feel anxious and fragile, so it was nice of him to be so thoughtful.
“Yeah,” Dylan replied. He wasn’t sure if he meant that or not, but he knew he would be okay soon, and that was what mattered.
WHAM! The door flung open. Dylan almost jumped out of his skin in fright. The entire class had jumped back, eagerly looking to see who was at the door. However, nobody entered. Dylan was baffled.
“It was just the wind,” Miss Asahd went to close the door, before jumping back in shock herself. Something more was happening.
A hand shuffled its way inside. It was blood-stained with open wounds scattered all over the skin, with nails hanging off by a thread. It inched in further, the arm now in view. Dylan watched on in horror as they continued to push into the classroom. It was a girl, and the rest of her body looked just as cut up as her hand. She looked familiar. She looked like one of the corpses, only she wasn’t dead.
“Help me,” she cried out as the class gazed on in pure horror. Nobody knew how to react, not even Miss Asahd.
Dylan froze. He felt both horrified and deeply saddened at the same time. How could he help? What could he do?
Staring blankly at the computer screen, Lily wasn’t feeling productive. She had a free period in the library, and she knew she had work to catch up on, but the focus simply wasn’t there.
Instead, Lily found herself clicking between YouTube and Google; the former for music, the latter to search for a gossip website that wasn’t blocked by the school’s security software. Her mind was way too preoccupied revisiting the night before.
Though she had been living with it for a matter of months, Lily still wasn’t totally sure what werewolf abilities she did and didn’t possess. She definitely couldn’t shift, but she had the enhanced hearing, sense of smell and vision of the other werewolves she had met, as well as the improved healing. Beyond that, Lily wasn’t sure. Werewolf could sense emotions and track them, but Lily wasn’t entirely sure if that was within her skillset.
Currently, she could sense fear, but that didn’t feel surprising after what she had seen in her front room the night before. She felt scared, more than ever, but surely everyone at the party felt the same? It didn’t make her special.
In the corner of her eye, Lily noticed a familiar face slumped in the corner of the library: Josh. He was alone, minding his own business, and obviously not wanting interaction. However, Lily understood what he was going through better than anyone. Perhaps she could offer some wisdom?
“Hey,” Lily approached him, slouching down against the wall next to him.
“Oh hi,” Josh looked like he had been daydreaming, “Sorry, I don’t think I’ll be very good company right now.”
“Me neither,” Lily replied, empathising in the best way she could, “We can be moody together.” Josh raised a smile. He clearly appreciated someone speaking on his wavelength; Lily knew she would in his position, “I know our bodies can heal, but our mind doesn’t. We still scar like anybody else up there.”
“If the mind could heal too, do you think it would heal bad people? You know, maybe Clara wouldn’t have done what she did. Maybe I wouldn’t have done what I did<” Josh wondered.
“I don’t know,” Lily replied honestly, intrigued by his question, “Maybe that’s why our minds don’t heal. That would change who we are, and that would be wrong. Looking after our mind makes sure we’re strong enough to deal with everything bad that comes our way.”
“I want to forget, though. Everything I did. Everything she made me do. I buried it before, and I moved on, but it’s so hard,” Josh tearfully opened up.
“And you’re still that person,” Lily reminded, “You need to heal your mind on your own, god knows I’ve tried to heal my own, but the best thing you can do is keep soldiering on.”
Josh nodded. He understood. Lily knew she wasn’t totally okay, but neither was he, and if even a tiny part of Josh could relate to her, they could struggle through together.
“No way,” Ed denied, much to Yasmin’s frustration. She and Ed kept pace on the way to the morgue, passing through the corridoes rapidly while Freddie and Caroline frantically followed behind.
“Come on, all we need is ten minutes, we might spot something nobody else has,” Yasmin reasoned. She wasn’t giving in.
“I’ve seen the bodies myself. There was nothing to prove they were werewolves, I’m sorry,” Ed refused to back down.
“With all due respect, Sheriff, you don’t have quite the same insight as I do,” Yasmin reminded. Though she knew her nix powers were unpredictable, Yasmin undoubtedly stood a chance. All she needed to do was try.
“Alright, ten minutes, and I’m coming,” Ed insisted.
“Hold up, I thought we were looking for that scientist?” Caroline interjected.
“Change of plan,” Ed directed, “Ask about. Take Freddie, and this.” He chucked his sheriff badge to her, ensuring she would be able to get the information she needed.
As Caroline and Freddie backed off to the reception desk, Yasmin led Ed into the lift. Their destination was the lower ground floor – otherwise known as the morgue.
“How does this thing work, then?” Ed queried, “You know, your…powers.”
“I don’t know,” Yasmin replied honestly, “Just got to cross my fingers and hope.”
“Just the optimism we needed,” Ed sighed.
The lift stopped surprisingly smoothly, much to Yasmin’s bewilderment. They were on the lowest floor; the lift should have touched the bottom more abruptly. Yasmin shelved the thought – it was not a priority and she needed to stay fully focused on the mission.
Ed led the way to the morgue – a place Yasmin never liked to see. In any normal case, it made her uneasy, knowing she was surrounded by so many dead bodies. However, this was different. It felt even more uncomfortable, and a lot harder to cope with. The fear was immediately strong and present inside the room.
“This was the one from last night,” Ed opened up one of the drawers. Yasmin stared at the awful, gut-wrenching sight of it. The skin was barely there. The flesh, bones and organs were on display. It was barely recognisable as a human.
Yasmin cautiously but gently placed her right hand on its chest. She figured she needed to make some sort of connection with it, but beyond that, she was improvising.
The body felt gooey and squidgy, truly unlike anything Yasmin ever envisaged herself touching. It was repulsive. Suddenly, she felt a flash, as if she’d been transported somewhere new. Nervously, Yasmin glanced around – it was still the same old morgue, but Ed wasn’t there. She was on her own.
“They’re coming for you,” a voice came from behind Yasmin. It was female, and quivering with fear. Yasmin turned around to face her. She was young, even younger than Yasmin, and very pale, but undeniably pretty.
“Who are you?” Yasmin questioned, trying to pick up on every detail.
“My name isn’t important, not when you’re touching my dead body,” she replied. She was the corpse. Yasmin’s plan had worked, but she couldn’t help thinking she was violating her.
“Are you a werewolf?” Yasmin questioned.
“I was,” she corrected, “I wasn’t safe. You’re still not safe. Nobody supernatural is safe from the scientists.”
“What do they do? Tell me, I need to be prepared,” Yasmin questioned with urgency. She had no time for riddles.
“They’re human scientists, like you and me once were, but they have just discovered the supernatural and they’re trying to make sense of it,” she explained.
“What are they trying to do?” Yasmin wasn’t sure how this linked to the bludgeoned bodies.
“They’re making a monster,” she answered, “They’re pushing our bodies to the limit. Testing our sight, our hearing, our sense of smell, and our ability to heal. They burnt my skin to figure out how the healing process happened. I felt it all, and I died before my body could repair.”
“I’m sorry,” Yasmin felt horrible. She never thought she would hear the story of how someone died from their own mouth. It was rather surreal, and extremely distressing.
“It’s too late for me. Warn Dylan and keep your friends safe,” she advised.
“But where are they? The scientists, how can we find them?” Yasmin needed more information.
“No time. Find the key,” she vaguely replied. Yasmin was confused. They key to what?
“Yasmin?” Ed interrupted. She was back to normal. Frantically, Yasmin scanned the room.
“I saw her,” Yasmin relayed, “We need to find a key, that’s what she said.”
“A key for what?” Ed looked just as confused as Yasmin felt.
“I don’t know, but she said to find the key, and that’s where they are,” Yasmin continued. Yasmin’s brain was working overtime, and it wouldn’t stop until she solved the mystery.
It took a lot to make Drew feel scared. He had seen so much go wrong in his life that nothing ever felt surprising or terrifying any longer. That said, he couldn’t deny the strong feeling of horror when that girl dragged herself into class. It was unlike anything he had seen before. Hunters? Kanima? They felt like a walk in the park in comparison.
Everyone else was feeling the same. Dylan, Jono, Josh and Lily were sat with him around the bench, but none of them felt like uttering a word. Nobody felt like they had anything to say; nothing they didn’t all already know.
“Woah, who died?” Brett joined them at the head of the table, his forehead sweaty from basketball practice. For a change, Drew hadn’t felt like joining, and neither did Jono; it was safe to say they wouldn’t be as focused as they should be, “Wait, that girl, did she die?”
“No, you idiot,” Drew rolled his eyes, “She got taken to hospital.”
“Dude, she looked like that dead body last night, why are you not asking her questions while you can?” Brett intruded.
Silence followed. Drew had no response, nor did any of them.
“Come on, if anyone can fix this, it’s y’all,” Brett encouraged, clearly oblivious. Drew caught eyes with Josh – he looked so uncomfortable to be discussing this. In fact, all of them did. Why was Brett not feeling the same way?
“Can’t you feel it?” Drew queried.
“Huh? Feel what?” Brett looked baffled.
“Fear,” Lily added uncomfortably.
“Fear of what?” Brett genuinely seemed oblivious. A lightbulb switched on in Drew’s mind. The fear was unavoidable for every supernatural, but humans didn’t feel it. It had to be chemo-signals.
“It’s only us, we’re the only ones who feel it,” Drew realised.
“Only supernaturals,” Dylan added.
“You can get us in,” Drew suggested, “You’re not scared.”
“Woah dude, I never signed up to any of this, not after your interrogation last night,” Brett resisted.
“You’re a part of this now, Brett,” Jono reasoned, as sensibly as always, “You need to help us.”
“What if I don’t want to? No offence, but all of y’all got hurt. I don’t want that,” Brett argued surprisingly well.
“More people will get hurt if we don’t do something,” Jono justified. Drew was impressed – after all Jono had been through, he could so easily have warned Brett off, “Come on, man. Help us out.”
“Alright, whatever,” Brett agreed.
“Hospital, now,” Drew decided. Everything they could find out from that girl was a positive, and now they had someone who wasn’t too terrified to ask.
Dismayed at how unhelpful the hospital staff were being, Freddie was getting agitated. It wasn’t a difficult query, but everyone seemed to be talking to him like a stupid little boy, or an ignorant teenager. Quite frankly, he found it patronising.
“Any luck?” Caroline caught up to him. They had split up to try and cover as many staff as possible, though they only had one sheriff badge – great for an immediate sense of authority, but nobody would ever have believed seventeen-year-old Freddie if he carried it himself, so Caroline had to keep it with her.
“Beyond a few patronising remarks, no,” Freddie fed back.
“Not to worry, I was the same. Everyone kept telling me that this hospital is the only place in Crystalshaw where people wear white coats. No surgeries, no A&E, no laboratories, nothing,” Caroline informed, “Still one more stop, though. Follow me.”
She led Freddie over to the main reception desk, where a young man barely older than Freddie was perched, staring aimlessly at his computer screen.
“Good afternoon, I’m Sheriff Drummond,” Caroline held up the badge clearly so he couldn’t argue, “I need to know, where else in town utilise white lab coats as part of their dress code?”
“None, ma’am,” he timidly replied, “The hospital is the only medical facility in town.”
“What about any scientific facilities?” Freddie pondered, jumping in.
“No, none that I’m aware of, only here,” he continued, “Though, come to think of it, I’ve seen some people here in white coats who I’m sure are not employees.”
“In the hospital?” Freddie clarified. This felt like their only chance at a significant lead.
“Yeah, every day. Nobody ever talks about them,” he detailed, “They always walk to the lift and I don’t see them again for the rest of the day.”
“Alright, thank you,” Caroline closed the chat, just as Freddie’s phone buzzed. It was a new text message from Yasmin.
Find a key. I’ll tell you more later.
Freddie glanced around. Where could he get a key from? There could be so many in a hospital – offices, filing cabinets and staff-only rooms could all have keys.
“Where in a hospital might need a key?” Freddie thought aloud, “A key that links to disappearing scientists.”
“A door,” Caroline immediately responded.
“Where could they be without anybody noticing, though?” Freddie pondered. Then he realised; one other place that needed a key. The clue was staring them in the face the entire time.
“Did you find it?” Yasmin yelled, jogging over.
“I think it’s a lift key,” Freddie explained as Yasmin and Ed re-joined them, “They’re on a secret floor.”
“I knew the lift felt weird when we reached the basement,” Yasmin replied, not quite making eye contact with Freddie, instead glancing over his shoulder, “It felt like we had further to go, but there were no more buttons.”
“A secret floor? Come on kids, this isn’t science fiction,” Ed was sceptical.
“That key there,” Yasmin moved forward in the direction she had been staring. She picked up a key on a lanyard hanging behind the reception desk, as if she knew exactly what it was.
“The lift key,” Freddie realised. It had to be, he trusted Yasmin’s feelings implicitly – they were never wrong.
“Let’s try it,” Freddie felt impulsive. He wanted to figure this out. The jigsaw was coming together.
In the lift, Freddie immediately spotted the keyhole. Yasmin tried slotting the key in, and sure enough, it was a perfect fit. The lift doors casually slid shut, and the lift jolted downwards just as it always did. However, it was taking the four of them somewhere brand new.
4: Distraction Written by MarthaJonesFan
Jolting to a stop, the lift journey had finished. Yasmin knew the morgue couldn’t have been the bottom floor, because the lift didn’t jolt like it did just then. They had found a whole new level to the hospital, and the butterflies in her stomach made Yasmin feel a weird mix of nerves with a sprinkle of excitement.
Everyone in the lift looked just as scared as each other; Yasmin could see their facial expressions in the lift mirrors. None of them knew what they would find down there, and that made it extremely dangerous. However, they had to be brave. Yasmin knew she was putting on her best brave face – improvising her confidence had become one of her best skills.
The doors slid open, their casual nature adding a little normality to the abnormal situation. The corridor on the other side of the doors split into two directions – straight ahead, and to the right. The décor was just the same as the rest of the hospital – white walls, bright lights and a clinical scent in the air. Yasmin was half expecting a creepy underground lair.
“Can you hear that?” Freddie whispered. Yasmin paid attention to her ears – nothing. In fact, it was eerily silent.
“No, what can you hear?” Yasmin knew Freddie could hear more than she could; the perks of being a werewolf.
“A chainsaw,” Freddie worriedly answered.
“I think we should split up, cover more ground. Meet back at the lift,” Ed decided.
“We’ll go this way,” Yasmin grabbed Freddie by the arm, “Follow your ears.”
Together, they anxiously began pacing down the corridor in front. Yasmin couldn’t deny it – she felt terrified, and not remotely safe. She felt herself clenching Freddie’s arm, not having let go, and her grip was tight.
“Sorry,” she let go in a moment of realisation.
“It’s okay, we’re in the same boat,” Freddie calmed her down.
Looking forward, Yasmin was taken aback. She froze on the spot, making eye contact with a shockingly familiar face: Josh. Behind him was Clara, her hands clasped either side of his head. SNAP! She killed him with one swift hand movement, the bones cracking under her force.
“Yasmin? Is everything okay?” Freddie wondered. She focused on his face, then looked back. Nobody was there. It wasn’t real.
“We’re out of our depth,” Yasmin admitted.
Every time he visited the hospital, Dylan felt an immense, unbeatable sadness. It could have been any hospital, and he couldn’t have been the only person to share the blues; after all, nobody went to the hospital for anything good. However, Dylan’s mind always flashed back to the last time he saw his dad. The way he held his hand. The proud smile on his pale, tired face.
This time, he felt scared. What made things worse was that he had no idea why. Fear was in the air among every supernatural, yet it wasn’t affecting humans at all. Dylan never expected to be jealous of Brett, but he really was.
Moreover, he felt responsible for Jono sharing the same feeling. Being a werewolf was still brand new to him, and Dylan was the one who brought it all upon him. He wished it wasn’t the only option, because Jono didn’t deserve this. He would have done anything to stop Jono feeling scared
“Where is she?” Brett wondered.
“This way,” Dylan tracked her scent. He could vividly remember it. Seeing the girl, on the verge of death, crawling into class was not something he would easily wipe from his memory.
“Wait, I know I’m new to this, but I know that scent anywhere,” Jono interrupted, “It’s Freddie, he’s here.”
“Yasmin too,” Josh verified. Dylan was concerned. He hadn’t seen either of them all day, nor had they posted in the pack group chat (which was, of course, Lily’s idea).
“Alright, let’s split up. Josh and Lily, go and find the others. We’ll keep going with Brett,” Dylan decided, knowing the decisions always rested on his shoulders.
The group splintered off and Dylan continued leading the way through the hospital wards. He didn’t know his way around the building very well, but the scent of the girl’s blood only grew stronger. They were almost there.
“Wait, what would I say to her?” Brett stopped the group, lacking confidence in himself.
“Think like a journalist,” Jono suggested.
“But I’m not a journalist,” Brett sighed.
“You know the interviews post-game that you see on TV, right?” Drew spoke in basketball talk – the only language Brett seemed to understand, “Ask her what happened, just like they do.”
Brett nodded. Dylan was impressed – people skills was Drew’s biggest weakness, but he handled Brett better than anybody else.
“In here,” Dylan identified. His fear had accelerated. His hands were uncontrollably shaking, and he was resisting the urge to sprint as far away as he could get.
“Here goes nothing,” Brett composed himself, entering the room. Dylan wasn’t sure what to expect from Brett, but he was the best chance they had of finding some answers.
Tracking scents was something Lily was still getting accustomed to, but she was familiar enough with Yasmin’s to track it a mile off. It gave her the perfect distraction to ignore the inescapable fear, which was stronger than usual inside the hospital.
However, while Lily was used to feeling a stronger sense of worry and anxiety than the rest of the pack, she was put slightly at ease to know it wasn’t just her this time around.
“Are you okay?” Josh wondered as they paced towards the lift. Josh was technically family to Lily, through Dylan and Jono’s relationship, but they never got much of a chance to talk one-to-one.
“I’m not sure any of us are okay,” Lily tried to keep realistic, “But I guess so, considering. How are you?”
“I’ve been worse, believe it or not,” Josh admitted. Lily was intrigued – she couldn’t imagine feeling worse than she did, though it was hardly a new feeling for her.
“Do you have any idea what we’re up against? I mean, you’re the only one who saw them,” Lily wondered. They still knew relatively little about the scientists. Perhaps he had remembered a little more? Josh was the only one who had seen them, after all.
“It’s still hazy,” Josh replied defeatedly, “I’m trying to focus on trusting Dylan. He always knows what to do.”
“He’s a professional improvisor,” Lily playfully corrected, “But you’re right. I trust him with my life. He treats Jono like a king, too.”
“Dylan’s face lights up at the mention of Jono’s name,” Josh added. That made Lily feel incredibly happy for just a brief moment. It was obvious how committed they were to each other, but nevertheless, Lily remained the protective big sister. Every tiny bit of reassurance that Dylan wasn’t going to break Jono’s heart was appreciated.
Interrupting their cute moment, a familiar face swerved around the corner by the lift. Without a second thought, Lily shoved Josh into the nearest room and shoved the door closed behind them. Awkwardly, she had pushed him into the ladies’ restroom.
“What the heck?” Josh was baffled.
“That was my cousin,” Lily responded, “I can’t let her see me. She’ll ask too many questions.”
“Sammi?” Josh processed, “Why is she here?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out,” Lily explained. Sammi knew nothing of the supernatural world, and both she and Jono wanted to keep it that way.
The door swung open. Lily’s heart stopped. Sammi obliviously strolled in. There was no escape now.
“Oh, hey Lily,” she beamed, “What are you doing here?”
Feeling his hands quivering with more and more vigour, Freddie knew they were getting closer and closer to whatever was down below the hospital. He had his own theories – was it a laboratory? Perhaps it was something else entirely, but Freddie felt both excited and very nervous to find out.
He knew Yasmin felt similarly, too, even though she was keen to keep her guard up. Freddie felt protective over her regardless, even though he was fully aware she could hold her own. They had been through so much together, after all.
They were reaching the end of the corridor, with a doorway signposted on the right by some bright, glaring lights reflecting out. Freddie focused on his senses. The air felt sterile, like in an operating room, and he could hear gentle vibrations coming from the room on the right. It sounded like machinery.
Bizarrely, Freddie spotted a silhouette approaching out of the light. Slowly, their face came into view. Blinking over and over, Freddie couldn’t believe what his eyes were telling him. It was Sammi. Freddie wasn’t sure why he could see her – she shouldn’t have been there. She looked paler than usual, and her cutely innocent face was covered in fur. Like a werewolf.
“Sammi?” Freddie muttered.
“Sammi’s not here,” Yasmin corrected.
“But she’s…” Freddie looked up again, pointing at nothing. She wasn’t there.
“It’s not just me,” Yasmin mentioned, “That makes a change. We’re both having visions. It’s not safe for us here.”
“But we’re so close. Whatever it is, it’s round that corner, I’m sure of it,” Freddie insisted.
“Only one way to find out,” Yasmin bravely suggested. Freddie didn’t feel so confident, but Yasmin held her hand out, ready for Freddie to take. They needed each other.
Freddie took her hand and they cautiously approached the light. Freddie’s hand was sweaty, but he couldn’t help it – he was petrified. The bright lights were difficult to adapt to, but Freddie’s eyed adjusted quickly.
Around the corner was a hi-tech operating theatre, unlike anything Freddie had seen, even on TV. There was equipment scattered all around the room, alongside an extravagant operating table in the centre, complete with Velcro restraints.
“This is unreal,” Freddie commented, keeping his voice as low as possible. He was fascinated by everything he could see. He couldn’t begin to imagine how much they could do that regular doctors couldn’t.
“This could cause so much pain,” Yasmin had a more pessimistic view, though Freddie assumed it was more realistic.
“Um, Yasmin,” Freddie spotted two figures appearing behind her. Two tall people in long lab coats, with surgeon masks covering their faces.
Yasmin spun around, backing away. The door was too far away to get out. As they backed off, Freddie reached the far wall, landing on something uncomfortable. Taking a look, he saw a circular red button – something that always spelt trouble. Immediately, the bright lights turned red, and a voiceover sounded, repeating one word: “Lockdown.”
They were truly stuck.
If all else failed, Jono could at least find one positive about Brett’s mission: the chance to practice his hearing even further. He, Dylan and Drew were far too scared to go inside the hospital room with Brett, so Jono wanted to fuel the fear and be productive.
“You don’t need to press your ear to the wall,” Drew advised. Jono slowly backed off. He was still a novice.
“He can do what he wants,” Dylan defended, “Whatever works for you.”
“It’s hardly subtle,” Drew continued.
“He has a point,” Jono conceded, not intending to go against Dylan, but he didn’t want to look stupid.
“Alright Drew, you can be the alpha,” Dylan was frustrated. Jono didn’t mean to have that effect, and instantly, he felt guilty.
“Hey, you’re doing so well. You’re the best teacher, and the best alpha,” Jono reassured, holding both of Dylan’s hands, “I’d be dead without you. Literally.”
“Good to know you don’t think I’m a complete failure,” Dylan smiled from behind his anxiety.
“Listen in lovebirds, he’s talking,” Drew advised. Jono focused on his ears, still holding Dylan’s left hand with his right – he didn’t ever want to let go.
“Hey, are you awake?” Brett sounded cautious. Jono could hear clearly despite the thick wall between them – he was impressed.
“Who the hell are you?” the girl was taken aback.
“Someone who can help,” Brett calmly replied. It was like he had become a brand-new person all of a sudden, “I just want to know what happened. What you saw.”
“You won’t understand,” she defiantly responded.
“You wanna bet?” Brett maintained, “You’re a werewolf, right?”
“Werecoyote,” the girl corrected, “How do you know us?”
“I know Dylan Drummond,” Brett answered, “We want to help.”
“Not even Dylan Drummond can stop them,” the girl rebutted, “But I’ll tell you, because Dylan and his entire pack are at risk. I know they’re scared. I can hear their breathing outside.”
“Jono felt exposed. He hadn’t considered that she would be able to hear them as well.
“What happened to you?” Brett queried.
“They took me, the scientists. They’re real, and experimenting on supernaturals,” she detailed, “They want to create a monster.”
“Why?” Brett enquired.
“I didn’t get to ask questions, I’ve heard whispers,” she continued, “But they are changing a human, and using us as test subjects.”
“Where are they?” Brett continued. This was the most important question to Jono – they needed to know their whereabouts.
“Here, below us,” she chillingly said, “You can’t get there. The boy and girl here beforehand beat you to it. The werewolf and the nix. They’ve gone down the lift already.”
“Freddie and Yasmin,” Jono whispered in realisation.
“Get yourself out of here, save your friends, and run,” the girl warned. A shiver ruptured down Jono’s spine. That was a warning – they were in danger.
Suddenly, the lights dimmed. Doors slammed and locked. Staff looked around in confusion.
“Lockdown initiated,” an automated voice informed. Jono glanced to Dylan – they were both horrified. Something had gone seriously wrong.
Flustered, Lily wasn’t sure what to say. Usually, she had an excuse for everything, but she had been blindsided. Sammi looked her usual cheerful, naïve and low-key annoying self, but she shouldn’t have been there. It made everything so much more difficult.
Ultimately, she had no logical explanation for being at the hospital. Sammi lived in the same house as her, and if she spoke to her parents, Lily knew they would never lie for her; they already hated having to keep secrets from Sammi. Everything they had kept from her would be revealed, and Lily was not ready for that.
“Oh, we were just here to see....” Josh tried to make up an excuse, not managing it as fluently as Lily usually did, “…my cousin.” Perfect. Sammi barely knew about Josh’s background; in fact, details had been kept thin on the ground in general.
“I’m sorry, are they okay?” Sammi bought it. Lily felt relieved. They had covered their tracks.
“Yeah, he just had a nasty fall. They’re keeping him in overnight as a precaution,” Josh continued expertly.
“I bet you and Dylan are both worried,” Sammi added. She thought they were biological brothers – obviously nobody had informed her that Josh was adopted.
“Dylan’s not…” Josh began to clarify before Lily flicked his back. He needed to play along for the story to remain believable – Dylan was in the building, what if she saw him later? They had to cover his back too, “…here right now, because he’s getting coffee.”
“And by here, you mean the ladies’?” Sammi playfully teased.
“That’s my fault, I was messing around and pushed him in,” Lily interjected, helping out.
“Alright, you heading home?” Sammi wondered.
“Not yet, I’ll see you later,” Lily brushed her off. Sammi smiled before leaving them alone.
“That was close,” Lily breathed a sigh of relief, “Let’s go.”
Lily led the way back into the corridor and down towards the lift. Yasmin’s scent was the strongest there.
“They’re not here,” Josh stayed the obvious.
“Duh,” Lily responded, “But they were, can’t you smell it?”
Catching the corner of her eye was a glimmer of light, reflecting from a key sticking out of a keyhole next to the lift buttons. It intrigued Lily – if a lift needed a key, it was to hide something away. She turned the key and the lift began to jolt downwards. The scents grew stronger and stronger. Wherever they were headed, Yasmin and Freddie were there too.
Beginning to stress out, Yasmin was desperately looking for a way out. They had found the scientists, and both Yasmin and Freddie were well on their way to becoming their next victims. Her body was quivering uncontrollably as they approached; it was like they radiated fear. A tear slid down her cheek. She felt like she was going to die. Her hand was tightly gripping Freddie’s for some sort of support, and he was gripping back. They were using each other as a comfort blanket, but both were as terrified as each other.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Yasmin couldn’t help noticing the distinctive sound of trickling water. Her hand felt wet. She had assumed it was sweat from the nerves, but it can’t have been. Glancing down, Yasmin’s hand was drenched. Suddenly, Yasmin’s fear turned into motivation. She had an idea.
“Hey,” Yasmin confronted, “We might be scared of you, but you don’t know who we are, or what we do.”
“You are a nix,” the left scientist spoke, not that Yasmin could see its face from behind the surgical mask.
“Yes, but you can’t stop me thinking. Using my initiative,” Yasmin continued, “Like this, see?”
Yasmin swung her hands around, firing a gust of water from each one. The scientists tried to bat it off, but Yasmin knew how powerful a weapon water could be – it got everywhere, giving them the perfect distraction. She pulled Freddie by the arm and sprinted out. Her legs had never moved faster. She couldn’t bear to look back, she just needed to get to the lift. To safety.
“Wait, Ed and Caroline,” Freddie pointed out as they reached the lift and Yasmin furiously pressed the button.
“They said they’d meet us here,” Yasmin was trying to think of a solution, but it was difficult to be logical, “Why isn’t this damned lift arriving?”
The scientists were pursuing them. They were coming, slowly but surely. They were against the clock. Yasmin pressed the button again, but it wasn’t coming.
“Where’s the key?” Freddie frantically questioned.
“Shit,” Yasmin remembered, “I left it behind.”
“Yasmin, Freddie,” Ed called over, he and Caroline re-joining them at the lift, “We hit a dead end, did you find anything?”
“You could say that,” Freddie remarked, looking back to the continually approaching scientists.
“Holy shit,” Ed sprung into immediate worry.
“The lift is moving,” Freddie commented – he must have heard the mechanisms clinking, it was out of Yasmin’s earshot.
Yasmin was stressing. They had nowhere to go except the lift, and it seemed to be taking its time. The scientists were almost upon them, still moving at a snail’s pace, as if they weren’t able to move faster. Or as if they had no reason to.
Ding! The lift finally arrived. Yasmin spun around, ready to make her escape. A hand reached out and pulled Yasmin back. Instinctively, she sprung back to defend herself, but inside the lift were Lily and Josh – rescue had come.
“You took your time,” Yasmin breathed a sigh of relief as the doors slid shot behind them all.
“What did you find?” Josh questioned, wrapping his arms tightly around Yasmin. His touch felt so warm and cosy. She never wanted to lose it.
“They have a whole lab, with shit unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Freddie fed back.
“We gotta get out of here,” Ed decided.
“About that,” Yasmin recalled, “The building’s in lockdown.” The group fell silent. Ding! The lift arrived back up. Yasmin wasn’t sure what to do, but they needed a plan – fast.
Pushing against the main exit, Dylan was having no luck. The locks were too strong for even three werewolves to break through – nobody could get in or out.
The fear in his body was insurmountable, and he now felt claustrophobic in the knowledge that there was no way to escape. The others weren’t answering their phones either; Jono had been trying to call Lily, while Dylan had tried both Yasmin and Josh’s phones several times – they had no signal.
“Still nothing,” a worried Jono reported back. The concern was painted directly across his adorable face.
“She’ll be okay,” Dylan comforted. He needed to be optimistic for Jono, but he was worrying himself. His friends were in danger. His brother was in danger.
“Come on, we can cover the building in a few minutes between us,” Drew proactively suggested.
“Split up and risk losing everyone else? No way, we need to stick together,” Dylan thought. Drew wasn’t seeing the full picture, and it was frustrating Dylan. His stress levels were off the chart.
“It’s okay, we’re all safe,” Dylan heard the relieving sound of Yasmin’s voice. Everyone else was stood by the reception desk, looking flustered and exhausted, but Dylan was so thrilled to see them safe.
“Mom, what are you doing here?” Dylan was confused.
“No time, we need to get out because I don’t think we’ll be alone for long,” Caroline warned.
“You found them?” Jono questioned. A name wasn’t even needed – everyone knew who he meant.
“More like they’re finding us,” Josh responded, making Dylan quiver in fright.
“Where’s the control panel?” Freddie queried, “I think I could take a look, I know a thing or two about tech.”
“Let’s ask,” Ed took charge, marching over to the reception desk. Dylan followed, intrigued, “Hey, you.” Hiding behind the desk was a young man, ducking out of view as if he were terrified.
“I don’t know anything, I promise,” he nervously defended.
“You’re the receptionist, you know everything,” Ed impatiently hit back, “The control panel for the door. Where is it? I’m the sheriff, give me an answer.”
“I thought she was the sheriff,” he confusingly pointed at Caroline. Dylan was getting more and more baffled.
“Answer the damn question,” Ed hurried.
“Okay, it’s just behind me,” the receptionist gave in.
In the corner of his eye, Dylan spotted them. The first time he had seen them since after the party. The scientists had found them.
“Incoming,” he reported. Freddie began to fiddle with the switches. Did he know what he was doing? Dylan wasn’t convinced, but Freddie was smart; smarter than he let on.
“The subject has been acquired. Testing is complete,” one of them spoke. It was robotic, yet the movements were distinctly human.
“Subject? What is the subject?” Dylan questioned, standing in front of his pack, protecting them. The scientists stopped just a couple of metres in front.
“Our experiments are complete. The subject is ready,” it reiterated.
“What is the subject?” Dylan demanded to know, shifting his eyes to glare their dominant colour of red.
“A human turned supernatural,” it answered. Dylan caught eyes with a worried Jono. Their experiments had been a success, “A human that goes by the name of Samantha Chadwick.”
“Sammi,” Jono’s jaw dropped. Freddie paused his work. Everyone was stunned into silence.
Approaching slowly from behind was a more human-like figure. A face Dylan recognised well. Almost too well. It was Sammi, except her usual chirpy face spelt out darkness and terror, all with a single look.
“Sammi, come here, we can help,” Lily encouraged. She didn’t respond – she looked lost.
Sammi turned to the receptionist, who was still quivering behind his desk. The entirety of her eyes shone a bright orange, and within seconds, he began to vaporise. He cried out in pain as his body vanished from plain sight and into atoms.
“What is she?” Dylan queried, trying to keep composure, ensuring Jono was kept behind him. He wasn’t going to let him be next, but they were cornered. No way out.
5: Road Trip Written by MarthaJonesFan
Though he’d had a lucky escape, Jono wasn’t out of the woods just yet. His life had just been flipped on its head, and he wanted to remind himself of normally before anything else threw a spanner in the works.
Besides, being a werewolf was tough enough as it was. His senses were all over the shop. He was amazed at just how much he could now hear. He never thought he would take something as basic as hearing for granted, but it was so overbearing. He couldn’t focus properly yet.
There was one advantage – he could listen in to conversations he definitely should not have been hearing. His cousin, Sammi, had turned up at his house with absolutely no warning. For once, the drama didn’t involve claws or fangs.
Sammi was talking privately to his parents, but Jono was intrigued, especially after she interrupted his and Dylan’s make-out session.
“Your dad’s away? He never mentioned,” he heard his dad’s voice, sounding confused.
“It was pretty last minute,” Sammi added. Jono paid close attention to her heartbeat. It was fast – according to Dylan, this was a sure-fire sign that she was lying. After all, Jono hadn’t seen her in years. He barely knew her.
“You never mentioned her,” Dylan whispered, both of them being very careful to avoid their eavesdropping being discovered.
“There’s not much to say, I’ve not seen her since we were kids,” Jono reasoned, “We only ever saw each other at Christmas, but she moved away with my uncle when he split with my aunt.” He paused, reflecting on what Sammi almost saw outside, “She could have seen me, Dylan. My eyes were glowing.”
“I know. Don’t worry, she didn’t see, and she won’t. This is your life, you can tell who you want, whenever you’re ready,” Dylan encouraged, not just as the alpha, but as his boyfriend. He had been through it himself. Jono always wondered what it was like. Now he knew.
The kitchen door swung open. Sammi stopped in her tracks.
“Were you listening?” she looked suspicious.
“No, we just came to get a drink,” Jono lied as casually as he could.
“Okay,” Sammi shrugged, “See you later, Dylly.”
“That’s…that’s not my name,” Dylan awkwardly replied, baffled. Sammi had barely changed – she was still low-key annoying. Jono was just pleased that she couldn’t hear how fast his own heart was beating.
to fight sucked out, Jono felt numb. Sammi wasn’t herself any longer. She was a
creature of some sort, cruelly modified. Whether the old Sammi was still in
there or not was unknown, and it terrified him.
“Keep going,” Jono ordered, not moving his gaze from Sammi.
“Sammi,” Freddie was gobsmacked. He wasn’t in any state to figure out the switches clearly, but they needed him. They could worry about Sammi when they were safely outside.
“Freddie, now,” Jono encouraged. Freddie listened. Pulling a switch, lockdown lifted. The pack sprinted outside, but Dylan didn’t move.
“Come on,” Jono took Dylan’s hand, “We can’t save her right now.”
“You’re so calm,” Dylan was amazed.
“Trust me. I’m not,” Jono clarified. He had a simmering anger boiling inside him, and the wolf he was keeping at bay wanted to fight. Jono knew better – he had an anchor, and he wasn’t going to leave without him.
Dylan understood. They sprinted out of the front entrance and climbed into Jono’s car. They needed to get away – as far as possible.
“You were amazing,” Dylan complimented, “You were so controlled.”
“I’ve got a pretty amazing anchor,” Jono explained, “You were amazing too Dyl, you stood up to them.”
“It was too late. I wanted to do something. I should have done something,” Dylan was beating himself up; it broke Jono’s heart.
“We still can, but we need to think,” Jono was trying to keep himself productive, using his anger as fuel, but he was reaching his wit’s end. He felt a tear escape, trickling down his cheek, his eyes clouding up.
“Stop the car,” Dylan suggested. Jono knew what Dylan was suggesting, and pulled into the nearest layby. As he switched the engine off, the flood barriers lifted. Jono couldn’t stop the tears any longer.
Instantly, Dylan pulled him in tightly for a comforting hug. Jono’s tears were soaking onto Dylan’s jacket as he let out every emotion he had been keeping locked up.
“Let it out, baby,” Dylan comforted, holding him tightly and snugly. The world could wait for a moment, but Jono knew he would stay comfortable in Dylan’s arms forever.
Awoken by the gentle tweeting of passing birds, Dylan was enjoying the calming vision of Jono sleeping. The night before had been chaotic and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. It was nice to see him looking so peaceful in deep sleep.
While he laid on the floor of the treehouse, Dylan looked up to the sky. It was just about warm enough in early autumn to spend the night outside, and the view was always so calming. Additionally, it saved Jono having to face his parents so soon – it was a step he didn’t want to take until he needed to, and Dylan understood that.
To pass the time, Dylan was trying to formulate a plan. He never usually found it quite so easy to figure one out, it was usually Yasmin’s job, but he was the alpha. He felt the pressure to be the one with the plan. It was pretty difficult, though, and the pressure came hand-in-hand with a mental block.
“There you are,” Lily poked her head up.
“He’s still sleeping,” Dylan quietly mentioned as Lily climbed inside and sat cross-legged on the floor, “How are you?”
“I’ve been better,” Lily admitted, “I didn’t really sleep. I’m glad he’s looking more peaceful.”
“He tossed and turned for a while,” Dylan informed, “Is it weird to say I’ve been sat watching him?”
“Not at all. It’s kind of sweet,” Lily smiled, “I watch George sleep sometimes. It’s the most calming thing to do, because he makes me better. I was lost before him, and all he did was believe in me.”
“Snap,” Dylan realised just how similar his and Lily’s stories were, “Nobody gets me like Jono does. Sometimes, I think about what would happen if, you know, we broke up.”
“Don’t go there,” Lily immediately tried to shut it down.
“I can’t help it,” Dylan defended, “But without him, I don’t know what I’d do. He’s my everything. Maybe it sounds stupid, we’re both teenagers still, but I want to be with him forever.”
“It’s not stupid. People don’t believe young love is real, but they’re wrong. It’s just as real as anything adults can feel,” Lily agreed, “And do you know what? Jono feels the same way you do. You’re in this together forever, so don’t stress over something that isn’t going to happen.”
“Got it,” Dylan nodded, glancing back to Jono, still fast asleep. His phone buzzed, interrupting the chilled-out mood in the treehouse as the sun began to rise. It was a WhatsApp message.
“Yasmin’s got a plan,” Dylan fed back to Lily. It was music to his ears.
Usually his happy place, where he felt the most comfortable, Freddie was feeling oddly claustrophobic within the confines of his bedroom. All he could think about was what he saw in Sammi the night before, and it was horrifying.
He hadn’t told anyone how he felt about Sammi – he was a little embarrassed to talk about it, and he wasn’t sure how Jono would feel, though he guessed his reaction the night before may have given the game away.
It was true, though: he had a crush on Sammi. Freddie was confident that she felt the same, too. Girls had taken a back seat after he split with Yasmin, and Sammi had been a pleasant and welcoming surprise.
“There’s no use moping,” a voice called from the slightly ajar window. Startled, Freddie spotted Drew outside it. He pushed the window fully up to let him in.
“Dude, we have a front door,” Freddie reminded.
“Front doors are for boring humans,” Drew bluntly responded.
“Whatever. Why are you here?” Freddie was stumped. Drew didn’t make house calls without a reason.
“Believe it or not, I actually care how you are,” Drew replied.
“You care if I’m not on top fighting form,” Freddie corrected.
“You really think I’m that cold-hearted?” Drew queried.
“No. I don’t know,” Freddie replied honestly, “I barely know my own name.”
“You really liked her, right?” Drew queried.
“I barely know her,” Freddie tried to mask his feelings somewhat.
“Dude, I knew I liked Allyn from the moment I saw her, that means nothing,” Drew called his bluff. Darn. Now he had to talk.
“Alright. I like her, and I never got to tell her,” Freddie opened up, feeling sombre.
“That’s good,” Drew simply yet confusingly said.
“Good? What? How is it good?” Freddie was baffled. This was in no way ‘good’ – he felt distraught, and Drew was treating it like some sort of joke.
“It gives you a reason to fight for her. It motivates you, and most importantly, it keeps you human,” Drew reasoned.
“Fear?” Freddie wanted clarification.
“Pain,” Drew corrected, “Pain makes you human. Use it.” Freddie understood at last. He needed to fix things, for Sammi’s sake.
“What’s the plan?” Freddie queried. Drew always came prepared.
“Meet me at the bunker in fifteen,” Drew organised, “I gotta gather some numbers.”
Gathering around the garden table at Yasmin’s house, Jono was ready to hear her plan. He had spent enough time worrying; it was finally time for action, and Yasmin always had the best plans.
Dylan and Lily were both with him; it felt good to know he had their undying support. Ultimately, they were all family, so he knew he wasn’t in this alone.
“A nice cup of tea,” Autumn carried a tray out with four mugs, each with gentle wisps of steam wafting upwards. Jono looked at it, not really feeling in the mood for food or drink. He could eat a banquet once Sammi was safe.
“Okay, the plan,” Yasmin began as soon as the back door clicked shut, “It’s just a starting point. I can’t lie, but it might give us a little hand in finding the human Sammi.”
“Is she still human, though?” Jono questioned. What he saw in the hospital was not human.
“Aren’t most shapeshifters human underneath? We all are,” Lily reasoned.
“We can’t prove that, though,” Jono reminded. He wanted to be optimistic, but it wasn’t easy.”
“Then we need to find out what she is,” Dylan thought.
“I don’t think that’s the key yet, though it wouldn’t hurt. I think we need to know the real Sammi,” Yasmin thought. Jono was intrigued, though he had little idea about what she meant, “None of us know much about her, so how can we try and bring her back?”
Yasmin was right – Jono hadn’t seen Sammi since they were both kids; he barely knew her.
“So what? We go to her house?” Lily wondered.
“Exactly. Your uncle’s house. Anything that we can find out could be helpful,” Yasmin continued, “And if we’re going to fight back, we need knowledge.” She looked directly at Jono and Lily, “This is your call, guys.”
Jono glanced to Lily. She looked convinced. After all, they were all out of ideas otherwise.
“Let’s do it,” Jono fed back. He felt a fire inside him, and it was fuelling his determination.
Dylan’s phone began to buzz ferociously. He knew it had to be Dylan’s phone as he never turned the volume up, even when he wasn’t at school.
“It’s Ed. They’ve found another, err, I’m not even sure it is a corpse, but Sammi’s struck again,” Dylan explained. Suddenly, Jono felt uneasy about leaving. She was on the loose.
“Go,” Lily suggested to Dylan, “We can do this, me and Jono. We’re her family.”
“Are you sure?” Dylan never stopped looking out for Jono. His support meant so much.
“We’ve got this,” Jono assured him. He had learnt from the best, after all.
“Keep in touch,” Yasmin advised. Jono nodded. He was desperate to find answers.
Heaving open Drew’s stupidly heavy bunker door, Freddie was met by a small crowd inside. Drew had rounded up Josh, as well as Allyn and her pack, and all of them looked like they had been anticipating his arrival.
It was the first time Freddie had seen them all together in a while – especially Noah. It was hard to forget the attempts on his life as the kanima, even if it were beyond his control.
“How’s this for an army?” Drew looked very pleased with himself – overly so considering it likely involved about two phone calls.
“Where’s Dylan?” Freddie was never keen to leave him out – he was their alpha, and only the night before he almost got killed when he didn’t have Dylan in the lab with him.
“Busy elsewhere,” Drew replied vaguely, though Freddie trusted him. Drew was irritatingly non-specific, bur he knew what he was doing.
“Okay, so what’s the plan?” Freddie questioned. He knew there must have been a plan, or Drew wouldn’t have rounded everybody up.
“We infiltrate,” Drew begun.
“Woah, no way. I’m not going back in there,” Freddie’s entire body rejected the idea.
“You’re the only one who knows exactly where to go,” Allyn tried to convince him.
“The only one who remembers,” Josh added, sharing a glance with Monty.
“The scientists will be there,” Freddie reminded. Even if he did go back down, he wasn’t going to allow himself to face off against them again – the after-effects were playing havoc on him still.
“That’s why we need all of us,” Drew continued, “We’ll split into two. The distraction, and the infiltration.”
“We’re not going to leave you down there with them,” Allyn persuaded. Freddie was pleasantly surprised – they had actually taken his feelings into consideration.
“So, what do you think?” Drew optimistically asked. Freddie felt like he was about to regret the decision was making, but for Sammi, it was worth it.
“I’m in,” Freddie responded. At least he would be with the people he trusted the most.
Speed-walking into school, Dylan ran side-by-side with Yasmin. His mind was filled with worry on Jono’s behalf – he knew that Jono was more than capable of looking after himself, but he wouldn’t be his boyfriend if he didn’t worry constantly. After all, he thought he had good reason – his cousin had become some sort of supernatural serial killer. It wasn’t going to be easy to deal with.
However, Dylan also knew he had a job to do, and if anybody was going to keep him focused, it was Yasmin. In spite of everything she saw the night before – and she and Freddie got closer to the scientists than any of them – she remained determined and resilient. Dylan was in awe of her.
“Have you heard from Josh?” Dylan made conversation as they turned a corner. Having spent the night at Jono’s, Dylan hadn’t seen Josh since the hospital.
“Not really, he’s not seen my messages in a couple of hours,” Yasmin replied, a little downbeat, “Hey, I didn’t think about this, but we’re kinda family, in a way.”
Dylan visualised it in his head; Yasmin was right. Josh was his brother, and she was dating him. He hadn’t thought about it that way before.
“Funny how things work out,” Dylan chuckled, “I mean, I see all of you guys as family anyway. You’re there for me just like a family would be, but I guess most of us really are family now.”
“Speaking of your family,” Yasmin said as they reached one of the history classrooms. Ed was waiting patiently for them.
“I can’t really call forensics in when we haven’t got an actual corpse,” Ed explained as soon as they arrived, “I think we all know who our prime suspect is.”
“Any sightings?” Yasmin questioned.
“Not personally. I’ve been sceptical of sending someone to watch the CCTV, god knows what they might see,” Ed responded, “You guys can go watch.”
“Thanks,” Dylan immediately rushed down the hall to the janitor’s room, where CCTV was monitored.
“Do you know how to work this?” Yasmin seemed doubtful.
“You never know until you try, right? You taught me that,” Dylan reminded, clicking away at the screen. Sure enough, he found the hallway camera, which had a clear view of the classroom door. Pressing the left arrow key, Dylan rewound the footage, landing just a couple of hours before they arrived.
“Hey, that’s her,” Yasmin pointed out. Sure enough, it was Sammi, or rather, the back of her head. She entered the classroom, re-emerging only seconds later, having vaporised whoever was inside with one single glance.
“Follow her, the cameras cover everything,” Yasmin ordered.
Dylan zoomed out, viewing all cameras on one screen. However, as Sammi moved out of view on one camera, she didn’t show up anywhere else. She had completely vanished.
“Huh? Where did she go?” Yasmin wondered.
“We’ve lost her. She could be anywhere,” Dylan sighed, “And we can’t get around faster than her.”
“It’s a good thing I’ve found you then,” the chilling sound of Sammi’s voice came from the doorway. Dylan gulped. They were trapped.
Car journeys with Jono usually involved a concert performed by himself and Lily, featuring the classics from their childhood – “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha and “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga being particular favourites.
However, the mood wasn’t the same that day. Lily had barely said a word to Jono the entire journey. Neither of them needed to speak to know how the other felt. They had known each other for seventeen, almost eighteen years since Jono was born – that was more than enough to know how to speak each other’s language.
“Do you think she’s in pain?” Jono broke the silence as he turned into a quieter road. They had been in his tiny car for almost an hour – Lily felt pleased to know they were almost there.
“Do you feel pain, you know, when you’re a werewolf?” Lily enquired. She was genuinely curious – it was a part of the supernatural experience that she knew she would never feel.
“Not really,” Jono replied, “Not physically. Mentally, that’s different.”
“How?” Lily tried to understand.
“I’m trying to keep the wolf at bay, all day, every day. Most of the time it’s easy, but when I get angry, or sad, or even really happy, it’s like the real me gets pushed aside, and the wolf arrives,” Jono detailed.
“Then Sammi is still in there, somewhere, just like you. She’s tucked away, and we can save her,” Lily encouraged, trying to keep as positive as she could.
The car pulled up outside a medium-sized semi-detached house. It looked pretty normal, situated in the middle of the street with nothing unusual immediately noticeable to the eye.
“How can we get in?” Jono wondered.
“Check under the plant pots,” Lily ordered, “There’s always a key under a plant pot on the TV.”
Jono sighed, but nevertheless began checking as directed. None of the plants looked well kept, as if they hadn’t been touched in years.
Picking up a few pots herself, Lily noticed a tiny black box secured to the wall directly next to the door. She had seen these before – a lot of AirBnB apartments had them.
“Hey, come see this,” Lily caught Jono’s attention, “It’s a key box.”
“Yeah, but it’s locked. How can we get the code?” Jono wondered, gazing confusingly at the combination lock at the front.
“Dude, you’re a werewolf,” Lily reminded. It was like she switched on a lightbulb in Jono’s mind. In an instant, Jono raised his hand and swiped the key box onto the floor, before stomping on top of it to shatter the plastic shell. Inside, sure enough, was a key – the front door key, specifically. Lily picked it up and allowed them access.
Immediately, she had to push firmly on the door; it was like something was blocking the way. Squeezing through the gap she had created, Lily examined the blockade. Surprisingly, an overwhelming pile of letters was in the way. The place seemed abandoned.
Lily shoved some of the letters back, just enough for the door to open comfortably enough for Jono to slide in.
“Woah, this looks abandoned,” he instantly commented. Lily looked around – sure enough, it looked like it hadn’t been lived in for years. Somehow, things weren’t adding up.
Key in the slot, the lift jolted downwards. Drew stood at the front of the group, almost directly with his nose against the lift door. He was ready for action – they had been sitting around for long enough.
Drew hadn’t seen inside the lab yet, and he couldn’t deny it, he felt scared. However, he kept reminding himself – the fear was artificial. He had felt real fear before, and it was nothing like this. It felt forced and disingenuous.
As they reached the bottom, the metallic feel of fear only grew stronger. It was inescapable and very believable, but it still didn’t sit well with him. It felt stranger, and he had no idea what could have caused it.
Ding! The lift arrived. Too late to back out now. Everyone had a role, and it surely couldn’t go wrong. This was their chance to learn more about their enemy, and begin the fight back.
The group split off – Freddie, Monty and Kamilah hid around the corner, ready for the infiltration, while Drew led Josh, Allyn and Noah directly ahead to where the lab apparently was. He was fighting against the instinct of his body. It was telling him to run and hide. As far away as possible.
“On my go,” Drew paused just before the corner. The gentle hum of machinery filled his ears among the otherwise eerie silence, “3, 2, 1, go.”
Shooting into the lab as if he were James Bond, Drew let go of his firm hold on the wolf. He was in attack mode. The scientists were there, in the middle of some sort of operation. They glanced at Drew, immediately springing into defence.
Drew let out the loudest howl he could. He was in control, and he had to demonstrate that. The scientists looked just as riled up as he wanted.
Allyn had unleashed the coyote in her, Josh bared his fangs, while Noah’s skin was patchy with scales, slowly shifting into the kanima. They were a formidable foursome, but now they had to back off so the plan could follow through.
One of the scientists pointed its instruments at Drew. It was gruesome, and surely not something that could be used in a surgical procedure. The harsh whirring neared Drew’s face. It was a chainsaw. It was centimetres from Drew’s face. He backed off, bumping into the far wall while the other scientist cornered Josh, Allyn and Noah. They were trapped.
6: Uncovered Written by MarthaJonesFan
Waiting patiently around the corner, Freddie was alarmed at just how long Drew was taking. He never dithered – he simply got straight to the mission and he always succeeded.
However, this time felt different. He hadn’t seen them return to the lift, and they surely should have by now. Freddie wasn’t sur how much longer he could cope, either. The fear in his body was insurmountable, coupled with the overbearing anxiety of seeing those horrific scientists again. He wanted this over and done with.
“Can you hear that?” Monty questioned.
“Hear what?” Freddie wondered. He couldn’t concentrate well enough.
“Listen closely,” he instructed. Freddie did his best to focus his hearing. He picked up on a harsh whirring sound. One that sounded familiar, but very out of place in a hospital.
“It sounds like some kind of drill,” Freddie suggested.
“That’s not a drill, it sounds too aggressive for that,” Kamilah corrected, “It sounds like chainsaw.”
“Oh shit,” Freddie began to panic, “We better help.”
“No, that won’t work, it will give the game away,” Monty advised, “Look, I’ll distract them, you two sneak in and see what you can find out.”
Freddie nodded – it made sense. They had to act quickly. All three of them dashed down the corridor to the lab. Monty bravely entered straight away, while Freddie peered around the corner. Immediately, they saw Drew being pressed against the wall, chainsaw aimed at his head.
Monty dived on top of the scientist, shoving him to the floor, the chainsaw landing safely next to them – just about.
Freddie and Kamilah rushed in and hid behind the operating table. Freddie’s heart was beating like mad. He was scared to peep above, but he could hear the pitter-patter of footsteps against the hard floor.
The room fell silent. Not even a single breath was audible. Freddie checked underneath the operating table, through the gaps. Nobody in sight. Now was their moment.
Cornered in the janitor’s closet, Dylan’s mind was racing. He was desperate to try and figure out an exit route, but it was a tiny room, and Sammi was blocking the only exit.
He could hear his and Yasmin’s hearts beating like crazy, almost in sync with each other, and way faster than they should have been. He was beginning to panic, and there was no easy way out.
“What are you?” Yasmin began to use her best weapon – her voice. She could fire water jets from her hands, and see visions beyond Dylan’s comprehension, but nobody was better at talking their way out of sticky situations than Yasmin was.
“I am Anpao,” Sammi answered.
“Okay,” Yasmin tried to keep her cool, “What is Anpao?”
“It is irrelevant,” Sammi responded, her eyes radiating their fierce bright orange. Dylan glanced away. He wasn’t allowing himself to be the next victim. He had to fight back. Spinning his head back around, Dylan glared his red, powerful alpha eyes back at her.
“Dylan Drummond, the famous alpha. Even you and your pack can’t stop me,” Sammi’s eyes glared further, light beaming out of the eye sockets.
“Can’t stop you doing what?” Dylan questioned.
Sammi said nothing. The ambiguity was painful. They had to act fast, or they would end up a pile of dust on the floor.
She directed her glare at Yasmin first, who shielded her eyes. However, nothing happened. Yasmin was unaffected by the same glare that killed the receptionist.
“Behind me,” Yasmin directed, picking up on it. Dylan took cover. For some reason, Yasmin wasn’t affected.
“What are you?” Sammi looked aghast.
“Exit, now,” Yasmin ordered, not keen to answer the question. After all, the less Sammi knew, the better. Together, they sprinted out of the closet and down the corridor. Dylan kept in front of Yasmin as they ran, knowing Sammi was likely following.
“What the heck?” Dylan was so confused.
“I don’t know,” Yasmin was just as in-the-dark, for a change.
Jono always knew there was something fishy about Sammi’s arrival in Crystalshaw. Her excuses never quite checked out, and gaping holes padded out her story.
That said, he wasn’t quite prepared for the sight at her house. The derelict state of it genuinely shocked him. He had no idea about how she had been living. It opened up so many questions, too – where was her dad? Uncle David would never have just abandoned her. Jono only had a select few memories of him, but they were all positive moments from time together at family birthdays and Christmases.
“It’s not been cleaned in…I don’t know how long,” Jono swiped the handrail of the stairs, a thick layer of dust sticking to his finger. Lily pulled a repulsed expression, which tied in well with the entire house – it was horribly unclean. Nobody could have been there for months, at the very least.
“Let’s check upstairs. The bedrooms will be our giveaway,” Lily suggested. She jogged up the wooden staircase, every sound echoing around the abandoned building.
The first door on the landing led into what looked like a guest bedroom. The walls were bare, the bedding was plain, and no personality had been injected into the room.
Into the second room, and it was much the same. No personality splattered into it. It didn’t look like it had ever been lived in.
Cautiously, Jono and Lily both approached the third and final bedroom. It was the final room at the end of the corridor, and it immediately gave Jono a bad feeling.
Pushing the door open, Jono saw the same thing once again. Another unused, plain room. It looked like it hadn’t been slept in at all. How could Sammi have lived here?
“This is definitely the right place, yeah?” Jono felt doubtful. They had found the address in their dad’s address book, and it was definitely the most up-to-date address he had for his brother.
“I think so,” Lily said worriedly, picking up a photo frame from the dusty bedside table. It had a cute photo of Sammi and Uncle David in it. Much to Jono’s horror, they were definitely in the right place.
Glancing around the now-empty laboratory, Freddie felt surprisingly at ease now the plan had gone to plan. He had already seen just how impressive their range of technology was, but now he could focus and absorb the sights without worrying over being caught.
Kamilah looked excited by all of the equipment. After all, she was a medic who likely knew the use of each individual utensil. Freddie, on the other hand, could barely handle a thermometer.
“Woah,” Kamilah examined several labelled bags of liquid on the counter, “There’s stuff in here that shouldn’t exist. This is an anaesthetic, made for oral consumption by supernaturals.”
“So they can hack body parts off with a chainsaw,” Freddie made himself shudder. He couldn’t get the vision out of his mind.
“Why though? They’re obviously smart, so they’re making supernaturals for a purpose,” Kamilah considered, “Like Sammi.”
“There’s got to be something around,” Freddie only became more motivated whenever he thought about Sammi. The more they could find out, the stronger chance they had of saving her.
A row of filing cabinets lined the far wall, all protected by a lock and key. Freddie yanked at the top drawer on the first cabinet, breaking the lock. Instantly he jumped back. Disgust took over his entire body.
“What the fuck is that?” Freddie exclaimed.
“Oh god,” Kamilah peeped inside, looking just as horrified, “They’re eyes.”
There were so many of them inside the draw, just sitting there, waiting to be used. Way more than there should have been, from the corpses they knew about.
“Where did they come from?” Freddie wondered.
“I think this has been going on longer than we thought,” Kamilah suggested. Freddie felt repulsed. All things considered, it seemed like Sammi got off lightly.
Safely on their way in Yasmin’s car, Dylan was feeling a slight relief, mixed with a huge heap of confusion. He and Yasmin had stumbled upon a potentially game-changing revelation, yet neither of them understood it.
Sammi was still on the loose, but the positive was that both of them were still alive, for now. It was time to educate.
The car pulled up at the side of the road, just next to the entrance to the tunnels. Both of them had the same idea on their mind, and this was where they needed to look,
Underground, it took both of them to heave open Drew’s bunker door. Dylan was sure it got heavier every time he went there. Inside, however, it never changed. The bunker was still the same, freezing cold collection of supernatural organised chaos. Thankfully, by this point, Dylan knew exactly where the necessary item was.
“It’s just about the only thing in here that’s not dusty,” Yasmin commented as Dylan pulled the Bestiary book off the shelf.
“It doesn’t get enough time to gather dust between uses,” Dylan chuckled. He started flicking through the book, knowing time wasn’t on his side, looking for ‘Anpao’, “How do you spell it?”
“I don’t know,” Yasmin looked stressed. Dylan knew when she was struggling. Her mind was going into overdrive trying to think everything through.
“Listen, you’re okay, and we can do this. We’ll figure it out, like we always do, but I need you on our team,” Dylan tried to encourage her, using the words she had taught him regularly since they first met. Yasmin nodded.
“It could be spelt ‘A-N-P-O-W’, or ‘A-O’ on the end, it makes the same sound,” Yasmin replied intelligently. Dylan kept both in mind, continuing to rapidly scour the Bestiary pages.
“It would help if it were sorted alphabetically,” Dylan complained. There was no logic to the order of that stupid book; it made no sense.
“Wait, look there,” Yasmin pointed onto the page. Sure enough, there it was – the Anpao, spelt with ‘A-O’ at the end. The article was instantly interesting.
“Hey, read this,” Dylan pointed it out,” The Anpao dances with darkness.”
“We know, it kills people,” Yasmin responded bluntly.
“It is a spirit with two faces,” Dylan continued.
“Sammi and the Anpao,” Yasmin suggested, “It means she’s still in there.”
“That’s all it says. How can we stop it?” Dylan felt lost. He still didn’t feel prepared enough.
“Come on, we’ll think of that later, but why was it stopped by me?” Yasmin was still fretting. The Bestiary hadn’t provided any answers.
Dylan still had no idea. Yasmin was a nix, a water-based creature. What did that have to do with the Anpao?
Lift going back up, Drew felt tense. The scientists were hot on their heels, but they couldn’t get upstairs without using the lift. This gave them enough time to create some distance, providing the best possible distraction for Freddie and Kamilah.
Drew’s adrenaline levels were sky high. He was ready to fight. The scientists were ready and willing to attack him with a chainsaw, and that wasn’t okay. This was his chance to get payback.
He could almost taste the adrenaline among the rest of the group, too. Josh, Allyn, Monty and Noah were a formidable team, and similarly-minded to him. While Drew understood Dylan’s “think first” approach, he was always more of an action guy.
The lift arrived. No time to waste. Drew led the charge through the hospital.
“Wait,” Monty stopped the group, “We’re not thinking this through.”
“There’s no time,” Allyn corrected.
“But we want them to follow us. I’ve done this so many times before. We need a trail,” Monty mentioned.
“He’s right. We need bait,” Drew concurred. Rule number one of making a trap was that you had to lure your enemy into the trap in the first place.
“Fear,” Monty mentioned, “We can all feel fear, but why can’t humans?”
“They can track it,” Noah suggested, “They only experimented on supernaturals, right? That’s how they found us, by inciting fear among every single supernatural.”
“Okay, brainboxes, that’s great, but how can we use fear as bait?” Josh was feeling antsy.
“We don’t need to, they can already find us,” Monty explained. Suddenly, it all made sense, “And if we stay together, their signal is amplified by four. If they can’t track that, they can’t track anything.”
“This way,” Allyn took them deeper into the ground floor. Now they had to hide.
Heading back downstairs, Jono was desperately trying to make sense of Sammi. The house was making less and less sense the more time he spent there, and he was all out of logical explanations.
“Where did she live?” Jono thought aloud, “It couldn’t have been here.”
“And where the hell is Uncle David?” an exasperated Lily shared his confusion.
“They lived here at some point,” Jono continued trying to complete the jigsaw, “So there must be a clue somewhere. They had a photo, there must be other clues.”
“Where? We searched the bedrooms,” Lily was stumped.
“Anywhere. Think outside the box. If you wanted to hide yourself from everyone, where would you put the evidence?” Jono thought like a reporter working undercover.
“Somewhere nobody else would think to look,” Lily replied, “We could be here all night.”
“You take the living room, I’ll take the kitchen. We’ll get it done quicker this way,” Jono directed.
Jono immediately noticed the state of the kitchen. The bright side was that there was no food, because he couldn’t imagine just how repulsive it would have been by then, but there were still enough utensils gathering dust, scattered around the dirty worksurface.
Opening the top cupboard on the left, dust immediately showered the surface below. Jono moved cautiously out of the way, protecting his precious curls bouncing just above his eyes.
“Anything?” Lily called back.
“Nope,” Jono responded, moving to the next cupboard. Inside was a biscuit tin – undoubtedly empty. Jono picked it up to move it out of the way, though it felt unusually heavy. It surely couldn’t have been full of biscuits when there wasn’t even a crumb of food anywhere else, “Hey. Come here.”
Lily jogged back in as Jono shifted the tin onto the dining table. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting to find, but it was a pretty good hiding place.
Jono twisted the lid off, exposing a tin full of small black or dark grey granules. It was full to the brim, as if it were burying something deep inside. What scared Jono was that he recognised the granules. He had seen them before, more than once, and it spelt bad news.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Jono caught Lily’s hand just before she attempted to dive into the pot, “That’s mountain ash, we’ve got no chance of getting in there.”
“You, maybe,” Lily corrected, much to Jono’s confusion, “I’m only part werewolf, maybe I can get through.”
Jono hadn’t thought about it that way. He had no idea if mountain ash affected Lily or not. She was unique.
“Worth a try,” Jono admitted. Much to his amazement, Lily’s hand slid into the tin with ease, submerging into the mountain ash.
“Someone really didn’t want us in here,” Lily remarked, feeling about inside. Her hand re-emerged holding what looked like a wooden pendant. A crescent moon symbol was engraved on it.
“What is that?” Jono queried. It didn’t look like anything much, but it was sure to be important.
Snapping his final shot of the eyes, Freddie felt sick. He needed evidence, because they didn’t have much longer before the scientists undoubtedly returned. However, there was an entire row of cabinets, all similarly locked. Kamilah and Freddie glanced at them with the same apprehension. Neither of them wanted to look inside.
“We need more evidence,” Kamilah mentioned. She was trying to convince herself to investigate further.
“Let’s get it over and done with,” Freddie sighed. He pulled open the draw below. Somehow, another pile of eyes was looking back at him. How could there have been so many?
“Okay, so I’m guessing this whole cabinet is for eyes,” Freddie presumed. He didn’t really want to look any further down. Cautiously and apprehensively, Freddie moved to the next set of drawers and heaved the top one open. The sight was just as gruesome; this draw was full of hacked-off ears. The sight was repugnant. Regretfully, Freddie took some more saps of them. Though Freddie knew it would be the last thing he would want to see, Dylan needed evidence.
“Hey, come and see this,” Kamilah had found a folder in one of the drawers below the counter, “It’s a record of every patient they’ve operated on.”
“What supernatural keeps a goddamn record?” Freddie was low-key impressed at the efficiency.
“They aren’t supernatural, remember? I think that’s the point,” Kamilah suggested, “They don’t understand how the supernatural world works, so they’re meddling with it.”
“Look, there’s pages of this,” Freddie was gobsmacked. They were right – this had been going on a lot longer than they thought.
“It goes back to 2003,” Kamilah flicked backwards through the file, “We could use this to cross-reference, build up a case, so we can predict where they’ll strike next.”
“You think they won’t notice it’s gone?” Freddie was unconvinced. The scientists had had no trouble tracking them down so far.
“Oh, I’m counting on it,” Kamilah snapped the book shut and started pacing to the exit. They needed to make their getaway as quickly as they could.
Rushing into the intensive care unit, the operating room was thankfully empty. However, Josh was alarmed by how sparse hiding places were. There were five of them all in need of a place to take cover, and there was barely enough space for one of them to duck for cover.
That said, they couldn’t risk splitting up. The scientists needed to track a signal that was as strong as possible, to provide the best distraction for Freddie as possible. That was Josh’s only goal, and it was best achieved by amplifying the signal by five.
“Where do we go?” Josh panicked.
“Ready to fight?” Drew checked with him.
“Sure,” Josh tentatively replied.
“Then that’s what we’re going to do. No more hiding away,” Drew decided.
Josh gulped. He didn’t feel ready to go against the scientists yet. He couldn’t lie – they absolutely terrified him, more than the fear they seemed to automatically instil.
All five stood in a procession behind the operating table. Surely five supernaturals could take two human scientists? They were vastly outnumbered, and Josh was well aware of just how strong his side was.
The door slammed open. The scientists had arrived. Immediately, one raised its hand, sweeping a heap of operating equipment across the room with some sort of magnetism. Josh was terrified, but that was his fuel. He needed to keep it together, just like he used to.
Successfully, he ducked out of the way, lunging forward at one of them. Both collapsed to the ground, but the scientist somehow kept control of the situation, rolling over so Josh was underneath. The scientist wrapped its hand tightly around Josh’s neck. He couldn’t breathe.
As he struggled under the weight of its grip, Josh looked into its eyes. They were as human as he’d ever seen, yet not even an ounce of compassion was visible. Even in some of the most awful people he had met – even in Clara – he could spot even a tiny conscience in them. Here, there was nothing. It alarmed him. They were in too deep.
Taking refuge at the sheriff station, Dylan felt like he was being watched. They hadn’t seen Sammi since they escaped the school, but it was surely only a matter of time. Nowhere was a guaranteed safe spot.
In the meantime, both Dylan and Yasmin needed their own answers. There was still so much they didn’t know. Exactly what was the purpose of the Anpao? What would the scientists get out of it? Why was Yasmin so significant?
“Hey, look at this,” Yasmin was already examining the Bestiary. Open roughly halfway through the thick, tatty book was the entry on nixes, as if Yasmin had the page number memorised. In fact, knowing her, Dylan wouldn’t have been surprised if she had known it off by heart.
Dylan took the book and inspected the open page. There were drawings and sketches of the nix myths – all pretty and pristine, unlike most creatures in that book.
“What am I looking at?” Dylan couldn’t digest everything. He needed Yasmin to be specific.
“Harbinger of death,” Yasmin mentioned, “That’s why I see things nobody else can. Remember what it said about the Anpao?”
“The Anpao dances with darkness,” Dylan recalled. It felt like those words were engraved onto his brain.
“What’s darker than death?” Yasmin enquired, like she knew the answer but expected audience participation.
“Nothing,” Dylan responded, hoping he had got the answer right.
“Exactly. That’s why it couldn’t kill me,” Yasmin figured out. Darn, she was good – Dylan was impressed.
“Is that good or bad?” Dylan pondered. It could mean two things – she was their weapon, or exactly what the Anpao wanted. Both left Dylan feeling a little uneasy, he couldn’t lie.
“I don’t know, but for now, I can keep us all alive,” Yasmin suggested sensibly.
Bursting into the office, Freddie panted heavily, Kamilah following just behind.
“Just you wait ‘til I show you what we found,” Freddie teased between breaths. Dylan wasn’t sure whether to be excited or nervous, but this had to be a step in the right direction.
7: Detective Written by MarthaJonesFan
Watching on, feeling helpless, Drew’s urge to fight had never been stronger. Though he was backed into a corner, he still had a strong team of four by his side, and Josh was in trouble. He wasn’t going to let his fifth and final teammate down.
The scientist blocking their way had a vaccination syringe primed, but as far as weapons went, Drew was underwhelmed. A needle wasn’t going to break through the skin of a werewolf very easily, but Noah was at risk. He wasn’t fully transformed into the kanima. His body wasn’t strong enough. Though Drew did not feel threatened, he still had somebody at risk. Somebody he needed to protect.“Now,” Drew gave the command. He and Allyn shoved forward, knocking the syringe clean out of its hand, pushing it to the floor, “Hold them.”
Monty and Noah helped secure the wriggling scientist in place as Drew leapt over to help Josh. Immediately, he flung the other scientist off him, the grip being released from around Josh’s neck.
“Drew!” Noah called out. The scientist had managed to grab the syringe again, and it was sticking out of Noah’s arm. It was too late. Whatever was inside was now in Noah’s bloodstream.
“Everybody out,” Drew ordered. This was the final straw. Freddie had had enough time.
school day had dragged, just like it always did, except even more so than usual
for Dylan that week. He was too busy itching to continue researching, because
school didn’t feel like the most productive place for him to be when there was
a supernatural killer on the loose. Jono’s cousin was still at risk.
None of them had heard from the scientists or the Anpao in days now. On one hand, this gave them time to cross-reference missing people and reported deaths with the scientists’ log. On the other, they were surely gearing up to strike again, and the longer they waited, the more concerned Dylan was becoming.
“Hey, look at this,” Jono pointed out, showing one of Ed’s old unsolved murder cases. They had immediately headed to Ed’s office after the bell rang to continue what they had been working on for days. Dylan didn’t want to waste any time, “It’s from 2008.”
Dylan immediately flicked through the scientists’ log, glancing at Ed’s report as he did so.
“Eyes removed, they were never found,” he summarised, feeling a chill whirl down his spine. It certainly seemed to fit the scientists’ pattern.
“How has nobody noticed?” Jono wondered. It was a good question; Dylan couldn’t erase the pictures Freddie took of the severed eyes and ears, and there were so many of them. Even the extra reports weren’t making up the deficit.
“I guess nobody knew what they were looking for before,” Dylan pondered, “Do you ever wish we were more, you know…” he trailed off, unable to find a word to replace the one he really wanted to avoid.
“Normal?” Jono used that exact word.
“I guess,” Dylan caved in, “Like, if none of this werewolf shit had happened to us. We could just be teenagers, hating school, wishing our lives away.”
“All the time,” Jono confessed, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of us. We save people, and that’s super cool, but I miss normality. I wish it could be just the two of us, cuddled up on the sofa every night, binging through Netflix and settling on a crappy rom-com we’ve seen a hundred times before.”
“Then we spend the whole night kissing anyway,” Dylan smiled, thinking about what could be. Life would have been so much simpler, “I mean, we could still do that. What’s to stop us?”
“The pissing Anpao,” Jono chuckled.
“Right,” Dylan concurred, “But if we succeed, that’s our celebration, right?”
“Damn right,” Jono beamed, “Maybe a little more than kissing, though, yeah?”
“You can count on it,” Dylan cheeky grinned. It was certainly motivation to get through this mountain of paperwork even faster.
Ticking off another day, Lily was alarmed at just how quickly senior year was going. She had almost finished school, and college was calling. Her choice had been locked in, and she was pretty excited to get studying photography. That said, the end of school was scary. Back in freshman year, it felt like school would never end.
“Oh my god,” George exclaimed all of a sudden, staring in disbelief at his phone.
“What?” Lily was baffled. It was like he had just won a million dollars.
“I got a place, I got accepted,” he exclaimed. Lily was immediately filled with pride – George had desperately wanted that place at University of California studying architecture.
“Oh my god, that’s amazing,” Lily flung her arms around him. All of a sudden, reality hit her. George was going to a nearby college so he could live at home and support Freddie still. Lily, on the other hand, was looking at Washington University. They were going to be hours apart. She knew this moment would come, but it felt so far away.
“What’s the good news?” Brett yelled over, separating from the intimidating group of basketball teammates packed full of tall, laddish guys. If anybody needed proof of misogyny in the twenty-first century, Lily would happily have pointed in their direction.
“I got accepted into college,” George told Brett gleefully. He wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
“Dude, that’s awesome, congratulations,” Brett fist-bumped him. Lily was always impressed at George’s ability to get along with absolutely everyone. That said, Brett wasn’t the worst of his friendship group by any means.
“Hey, mind if I ask a favour?” Brett changed the subject, “Drew’s over there, he’s not said a word. I can’t get through to him. Has something happened?”
“I don’t think so,” Lily replied, concerned. Drew was easy to read. Something must have been up, but she had no idea what, “Let me go and speak to him.”
“Lily knew she could squeeze anything out of Drew. She was the person he trusted the most within the pack, and if he was quiet, something had certainly happened.
“Tell me,” Lily simply requested, sitting next to him on their bench.
“Oh, hey Drew, how are you? Fine thanks Lily, and yourself?” Drew hit out.
“I’m not the enemy,” Lily bluntly stated. She knew he was upset, but she wasn’t going to take any rudeness, “Besides, you hate small talk.”
“True. Sorry,” Drew issued a rare apology.
“Go on then, tell me,” Lily urged. She wasn’t going to give up on him easily.
“The other day, at the hospital. The scientist fucker stabbed Noah with a syringe. It injected something into him,” Drew explained.
“Okay, so what happened?” Lily remained all ears.
“Nothing. That’s just it. He’s fine. I spoke to Allyn earlier and he’s the same as ever,” Drew continued.
“That’s great,” Lily wasn’t seeing the problem.
“Nothing never happens. There’s always something. There has to be, or what’s the point?” Drew reasoned. He was forever pessimistic, and not without good reason considering what he’d been through.
“Maybe we got lucky this time? They’re human, maybe it was a flu vaccine?” Lily tried to counter him with optimism.
“Somehow I doubt it,” Drew sighed, “I should have stopped it.”
“You did your best,” Lily reassured, “Hey, I might have a favour to ask from you. A little distraction could be good.”
“Yeah?” Drew was intrigued.
“My uncle. He had this hidden in his house,” Lily took the small crescent moon out of her pocket, “What does it mean?”
Somehow, a little peace and quiet had actually arrived in Crystalshaw. Yasmin was by no means stupid – she was well aware that things were far from over, but momentarily, she had her life back. Every time a new problem arose, it was like her real life paused. Nothing else mattered until the thread was eliminated.
Now, though, things were different. She didn’t know when things were going to get crazy again, but Yasmin saw little point in sitting around and waiting. Dylan had assured her that he and Jono had the research and cross-referencing under control. This meant she finally had some more time to spend with Josh, and she was planning a cute afternoon of cinema and dinner, and they were primed and ready to go in Yasmin’s car straight from school.
“Is it weird that I don’t feel scared for the first time in ages?” Josh thought aloud.
“Same,” Yasmin agreed, “But that’s making me worried. The fear we felt wasn’t real, so who turned it off?”
“Oh,” Josh seemed deflated, as if his good mood bubble had been burst.
“Okay, no more talking about anything supernatural,” Yasmin laid the ground rules, “This evening is about you and me only.”
Josh nodded in relief. They needed to make the most of this opportunity, because Yasmin didn’t know how long it would be until their next chance.
“Hey guys,” Freddie interrupted, clambering into the back seat.
“Dude, what are you doing?” Josh questioned, bemused. He glanced at Yasmin, sharing an anxious, worried look. Three was most definitely a crowd.
“I’ve got a theory,” Freddie began, ignoring all signals. Yasmin’s hopes of a romantic evening were getting further and further away, “I don’t know if you guys realised, but it’s like the scientists switched off whatever was causing the fear.”
“We definitely noticed<” Yasmin remarked.
“So that means it was like a transmission or signal, right?” Freddie theorised, “Which means it could be traced. It means we can find them before they find us.”
“Maybe go tell Dylan, he’ll be interested to hear,” Yasmin suggested.
“Or we can act now, he’s busy at the sheriff station,” Freddie annoyingly replied.
“Yay,” Yasmin groaned. She had almost all the time in the world for Freddie, but suddenly, her plans with Josh seemed to have evaporated.
Surprisingly, Jono found the hours of paperwork ticking by nice and quickly. Time always seemed to fly whenever he was with Dylan, but he hated that. He wished that time could stop, so they could spend as long as they wanted by each other’s side. Jono knew he would never want to leave.
Jono had been creating a timeline on Excel of every murder that was suspected to be at the hands of the scientists, while Dylan pinned every case onto Ed’s crime board. They were beginning to run out of room, and Jono wasn’t sure how he felt about that. On one hand, it meant they were successfully painting a bigger picture, but equally, it meant even more people had suffered and died. It was heart-breaking to see the faces of all the victims in one place.
“Special delivery,” Ed strolled into the office with Caroline and several McDonalds bags.
“Perfect, I’m starving,” Jono shifted the laptop sideways to make room for dinner.
“I meant us, but okay, focus on the food,” Ed teased, passing a paper bag to him and another to Dylan.
“Looks like you’ve both been busy,” Caroline commented, “I wish you put this level of effort into your homework, Dylan.”
“Mom, please don’t start,” Dylan raised an eyebrow.
“Makes me look like a crappy sheriff,” Ed mentioned.
“I mean, how many sheriffs know about freaky scientists experimenting on supernaturals anyway?” Jono chuckled. Of course, Crystalshaw seemed to be a hub for everything supernatural, and Ed coped pretty darn well all things considered.
“I don’t get it, though,” Caroline pondered, “They took all these body parts, but what for? Why do they need them? You said Sammi looked just the same, so it wasn’t for her.”
It was a good question, one Jono wished he would have thought of himself They had to serve some sort of purpose, surely?
“Oh my god,” Dylan seemed to have a realisation. His face turned pale and he paused eating for a moment, “Ed, how many missing person reports have you received recently?”
“A few more than usual, why?” Ed was confused.
“They’re building an army, creating supernaturals,” Dylan chillingly revealed. Jono wasn’t sure how, but it made sense, and it sure as hell terrified him.
Alarmed by a symbol he hadn’t seen in a very long time, Drew had taken Lily, as well as the entourage of Brett and George, to his bunker. It was time to dig out some remnants he had kept buried for a long time.
Drew was always sceptical of digging up the past because there was so much history that he had buried deep in Crystalshaw. History consisting of bad memories, and the destruction of everyone he cared for. The crescent moon was the symbol of that history, and it terrified him. It should still have been buried away in the depths of werewolf lore.
“Woah,” Brett exclaimed. He had never been inside the bunker before. Drew could have done without the unnecessary fanfare, not that Brett was all that good at self-control.
“Don’t touch anything,” Drew ordered.
“Not even with a duster?” Brett rudely commented as he examined some of the objects and books kept on the far shelving unit. Most of it was random stuff Drew had accumulated over the years, but some of it was useful and he couldn’t risk the damage.
“What have we come here for?” Lily enquired, “You recognised it, didn’t you?”
“Recognised what?” George was confused.
“This,” Lily held out the small metallic crescent moon again to show the others.
“It looks pretty,” George commented, as if he were looking at a wedding ring. The emotions Drew felt couldn’t have been more different.
“It’s not pretty,” Drew corrected, “It’s the symbol of something you should all be pleased you’ve never come across.”
“It was in my uncle’s house,” Lily looked concerned, “The house was empty, it hadn’t been lived in for months, if not years.”
“I think I know why,” Drew explained, picking up a scrapbook that he hadn’t seen in years. He wiped the thick layer of dust off before turning the first page, “This was my diary. I kept it when I was a kid. When the war between werewolves and hunters was ongoing. I wrote everything down.”
“There was a war?” Brett naivety shone through.
“You’d never have known. It was a war fought in the shadows, at night, in the corner of your eye,” Drew continued, “It wasn’t just werewolves against humans, though. It was werewolves against werewolves. Not every werewolf is like Dylan. Some are radical and extreme, and they believe their pack is the only one that matters.”
“What happened to them?” Lily listened intently, never losing her focus.
“Most of them died, the hunters saw to that. The last I heard was that the alpha left town some years ago, but they had no pack left. If you found that symbol, you found a warning. They’re still out there,” Drew warned.
“It’s my uncle,” Lily realised, the colour draining out of her cheeks like a sink.
“And he’s coming back for blood,” Drew added. He felt nervous; he wasn’t ready to confront these demons again.
Though it had become the setting for all of his nightmares, Freddie knew he needed to revisit the laboratory one more time. Whatever equipment they had created to transmit fear into every supernatural could be essential to tracking them down.
He wasn’t stupid – he knew he was interrupting Josh and Yasmin’s date, but some things were more important. If they didn’t act sooner rather than later, there would be no date to go on – they would all be dead. Freddie wasn’t risking his life, or theirs.
“Woah, what if they’re here?” Josh seemed reluctant as the elevator doors swiped open in their usual clunky manner.
“Allyn’s kept an eye on the CCTV of the lift. It’s been empty for days,” Freddie eased his concerns.
“Still gives me the creeps,” Josh remarked.
Freddie led the way down the now familiar corridor, lights flickering above, not helping his nerves. However, they were a different type of nerves. The artificial fear had stopped, but now his worries were real. Delving deep inside the basement felt like swimming against the tide.
Just as Freddie expected, the lab was empty. That alone was a massive relief. It looked like the lab had been cleared out from top to bottom, with drawers left open and surfaces cleared.
“Maybe they took it?” Josh theorised, looking around.
“Why would they take anything they didn’t need?” Yasmin pondered, “They would’ve had to get all of this out through the hospital without anybody raising an eyebrow, there’s no other way out.”
“I think I’ve found it,” Freddie spotted, reaching deep into one of the cabinets and pulling out a laptop, which still had its lid open. Typing away at the keyboard, the laptop unlocked, revealing a complex set of code.
“Is that even in English?” a bewildered Josh wondered.
“It’s code. Just my language,” Freddie smiled gleefully. This was his moment to shine.
Pulling up the missing person reports from the previous three weeks, Dylan was startled by how many there were. Reading a typical report both intrigued and terrified him – how could somebody just vanish without a trace?
However, this wasn’t the same as the small number of historical unsolved missing person cases. There were a huge fifteen of them, and Dylan had a fair idea of what had become of each of them. Of all the things he had seen in the world of the supernatural, and very little of it was pretty, nothing horrified him more than bodies being chopped up and mutilated to make supernaturals. It shouldn’t have been possible, but whatever the scientists were, they absolutely were not stupid. They wouldn’t waste time on something doomed to fail.
“Why these people?” Dylan found himself questioning.
“Not everything has an answer,” Caroline advised, just as brilliantly as she always did. However, for once, Dylan disagreed.
“They must have decided on these fifteen people for a reason, but they seem unrelated. Why did they not just grab a large group of friends or a family to cover the numbers?” Dylan theorised.
“You’re right,” Jono perked up, eager to find the pattern. It mattered to Dylan to know that he wasn’t just seeing things.
“Different ages, different backgrounds,” Jono thought aloud, examining the small amount of personal information they had on each one of them.
“We need more information,” Dylan sighed, feeling like he was stuck in quicksand.
“Morris,” Jono pondered, staring at one of the sheets, “I saw that surname earlier.” He glanced up at the assortment of casualties pasted on the crime board, scanning the names, “I knew it. There was another Morris who got killed. That’s gotta be a link, right?”
Dylan looked at the surname of another missing person and made a mental note – ‘Page.’ Sure enough, one of the corpses had the surname ‘Page.’
“The missing people are relatives of the dead,” Dylan figured.
“Stitching body parts of their dead relatives onto them,” Jono realised, a grim, disgusted tone quivering through his voice.
Dylan felt sick. The scientists had reached a new low, but this was far from over. Now he had to stop them.
Hitting panic mode, Lily was trying to make sense of her revelation. How could Uncle David be an alpha? How could she not have realised this before? Did Sammi know about werewolves the entire time? She had so many more questions than she expected to, when the point was supposed to be to find answers.
Drew flicked through his scrapbook with purpose, as if he knew what he was looking for. It was scruffy and packed full of sheets and polaroids stuffed loosely inside. It looked so disorganised, but Lily was sure Drew knew exactly what he was looking for.
Sure enough, he stopped on a page roughly halfway through the book. He picked up a polaroid photo and handed it over to Lily. She glanced at George nervously. Everything she thought she knew was being brought into question, like two worlds were colliding.
George squeezed her hand. As always, he was her perfect comfort blanket. How she would cope without him at college, she didn’t know. He pulled her back from the edge time and time again.
The photo was instantly recognisable. Most memories that she had of Uncle David were from years back when he lived in Crystalshaw, so this picture was perfectly in sync.
“That’s him,” Lily identified, staring anxiously at the details. His eyes were protruding through the low-resolution picture – the distinctive, horrible red colour. There was no denying it.
“Lily, if he’s back, we’re all in danger,” Drew warned. Lily was conflicted. She had no idea what to do, or how to feel.
“I don’t know if he is, but the house was cleared out, remember? Nobody had lived there for months, at least,” Lily reminded, “Why would he do that?”
“There’s only one person who knows the answer to that,” Drew mentioned.
“Sammi,” Lily realised. He was right – Sammi was the only one who potentially knew the truth. She could have known about her father and werewolves the entire time, and she could answer their questions.
“The psycho killer girl?” Brett rudely blurted out with his usual lack of self-control.
“She’s my cousin,” Lily defended, “And this has gone on long enough. Time to get Sammi back.”
8: The Makeshift Army Written by MarthaJonesFan
She had come out of nowhere. The red-eyed girl. She was following him, and no matter how he tried to throw her off his scent, she still pursued him. Running and hiding was beginning to feel pointless.
It was late at night, and the only source of light along the quiet Crystalshaw roads was that of the moon. It was his source of motivation, never leaving his side. It taught him that he could cope with this situation. He would survive.
There were fewer and fewer places to hide along the never-ending stretch of motorway leading out of Crystalshaw. She was still following, signalled by the deathly glare of her eyes. He knew exactly what she was, and he couldn’t lie – it horrified him. However, he had to keep faith in himself. He had a pack out there, and strength in numbers benefited them all individually.
He approached a garage – long since closed, but at the very least, this was his chance to gain ground. He barged the door wide open, not caring to cover his tracks. All of these buildings had back doors, meaning there was an escape route ready for him. That had to buy him time.
He created a trail, deliberately knocking displays down, leading the way behind the counter. However, there was one piece of the puzzle needed to seal the deal. Priming his claws, he slit his arm just a centimetre along, allowing blood to seep out. He trickled it along the ground to behind the counter, where he squeezed the wound for more. He winced at the pain, but it would be worth it – it had to be.
A pool of blood was now coating the floor. With the job done, he scarpered out the back, hiding just out of view. He had to time his escape perfectly – when she was inside the garage. His arm was still bleeding, but he had been careful to stop it leaking onto the ground and ruining his plan. As a result, his jacket was ruined and blood-soaked.
A couple of minutes passed. No sign of her. At the pace she was moving, she surely should have arrived at the garage already. Maybe she had given up, or kept going and had already passed the garage? Either way, he couldn’t waste any more time.
He turned around to leave. WHACK! He got shoved brutally to the ground, bashing his head on the door. He saw a trickle of blood where he landed, and it wasn’t from his arm.
Nervously, he looked around to face whatever had pushed him. His vision was blurred, but he could just about make out the faint figure of the dark-haired, red-eyed girl who had stalked him.
“Anpao,” he identified. She didn’t reply.
The next thing he felt was as an intense, sharp, piercing pain all through his body.
Then it fell quiet.
Gathered up the treehouse, Dylan was ready to start fighting. At stake were his friends and family, most importantly the latter – Sammi was in serious danger and if there was a way of rescuing her, he had to find it.
Finally, they all knew exactly who they were facing, and all they were lacking was motive. Why the scientists were doing what they were doing was still an enigma, but there was only one way to find this out – they had to hear it from the horse’s mouth and track the scientists, before the scientists tracked them.
“Dude, what the hell is that?” Jono wondered, glancing at Freddie’s laptop screen.
“Code,” Freddie replied, “The scientists transmitted a frequency that only supernaturals could sense to track us and make us scared. It’s time we used it back on them.”
“But they’re human?” Drew pointed out.
“Which is why I’ve spent all night trying to understand this code. I’ve tweaked it to track humans too. Sammi and their makeshift supernatural army should register on both signals. That’s how we find them,” Freddie detailed. Dylan was impressed – he had seen the code, and it made absolutely no sense to him. Freddie was a genius in his own way.
“That’s my boy,” Josh patted him on the back,” Alright Dyl, what do we do?”
“Split up,” Dylan answered. He had spent a lot of time thinking, over and over, before consulting with the expert at making up plans – Yasmin. Together, they came up with their plan of action, because they always worked better as a team, “We’ve got at least three targets for sure, and Sammi hasn’t been going around with these scientists. We’d find them all faster if we split into teams.”
“What do we do if we find them?” Lily asked, concerned.
“Use your initiative. Trap them if you can, then call me. Unless it’s Sammi, then you call Yasmin first,” Dylan directed. He had never felt more assertive, and he was damn proud of himself.
“I’m the only one immune to Sammi’s glare. I think I can stop her,” Yasmin added, sounding unconvinced but hopeful.
“I got three locations,” Freddie announced. He looked proud of himself, and Dylan concurred – he was invaluable to the pack.
“Let’s go,” Dylan motivated. He felt terrified of what the evening would bring, but he was confident – he had the best pack anyone could wish for.
It wasn’t often that the world of the supernatural crossed with Freddie’s world of computers and coding, so for a change, it felt good to be the resident expert. Freddie assumed that was how Yasmin felt all the time.
His positive bubble well and truly burst when he arrived back at the school, though. Numerous signals had aligned inside the building, but it was difficult to see exactly how many registered. The software indicated at least five or six, but there could have been more. In the worst-case scenario, they would need every possible ounce of strength, because the signals almost certainly belonged to the scientists’ grotesque experiments. The horrors created from mutilated humans, and those cabinets of body parts. He didn’t want to see the ultimate outcome.
“Are we dealing with, like, Frankenstein?” Josh questioned. Freddie wasn’t sure if that was insensitive or not; he hadn’t come across anything like what he envisaged these creations to be before.
“Frankenstein’s monster,” Yasmin corrected, “Frankenstein was the scientist.”
“Whatever, the point remains,” Josh stood firm.
“I don’t know,” Freddie answered his question, “They could be anything.”
“In that case, we need to stick together,” Josh advised, “We’re stronger as a united front.”
“You sound like Drew,” Freddie observed. He had heard similar advice from Drew on multiple occasions, not that it was a bad thing. In fact, Drew’s words of wisdom were exactly what they needed before defending themselves.
“He knows how to fight.” Josh reasoned.
“Better than any of us,” Freddie agreed.
“He’d hate these compliments,” Yasmin chuckled. Freddie laughed too – Drew had such a big heart, but even around his friends, he refused to show it off.
A shadow passed in the corner of Freddie’s eye. He scanned the corridor, but nothing was in sight.
Another shadow swooshed past. They were being surrounded.
“Did you see that?” Freddie worriedly, quietly questioned. He was hoping it was a figment of his imagination.
“Yes,” Josh replied, much to his disappointment and concern.
“And me,” Yasmin added. Darn. They had to get out of there.
“When I say run,” Freddie took charge, “Run.” He checked the coast was visibly clear.
On his command, all three of them sprinted. Deeper into the building. The pitter-patter of several fierce opponents following them filled Freddie’s ears. They were under attack.
“In here,” Josh directed, guiding them into one of the science labs. He slammed the door behind them while Freddie heaved one of the desks to barricade them in.
Through the small window in the door, he caught the gut-wrenching sight of one of their opponents. It was just as gruesome and ghastly as he thought. There were visible stitch marks around their noses and ears. Their eyes glowed yellow like betas. They looked like werewolves.
These were people fashioned into monsters.
Driving to the very edge of Crystalshaw, Jono was in unfamiliar territory. He never travelled as far out of town as this, though he barely ever drove any further than the mall in the middle of town anyway.
His car journeys with Lily were beginning to feel progressively grimmer. Jono couldn’t think of anything he’d like to do less than sing karaoke to Shakira with her, mimicking her distinctive voice along the way. Both of them were too focused on the task at hand, and extremely worried about Sammi. They had to do something to save her.
As he parked, Jono could instantly tell the garage was derelict. The petrol pumps were rusty and dirty, and there was no sign of any other cars or workers.
“We have to go in, don’t we?” Lily queried, concerned.
“Yup,” Jono sighed. He was quivering with nerves. He felt the pressure on his shoulders. Whoever they were going to come across, they wouldn’t be going down without a fight. Lily didn’t have claws and fangs like he did. It was on him to protect them both.
The garage door was wide open, and display units had been slammed over, as if a fight had occurred. The unavoidable metallic aroma of blood filled Jono’s nose. He could feel the fear in the air, against his skin, like the inescapable heat on the hottest summer days.
Behind the counter was a larger pool of blood, but still no sign of anyone, dead or alive. Jono’s worry levels accelerated.
“Out here,” Lily quietly but urgently summoned him. She had found a pile of what looked like dust, but Jono knew better. This was the corpse he was hoping not to find.
“She’s here,” Jono realised. They had to call Yasmin. Instinctively, Jono took out his phone. SLAM! His phone was knocked clean out of his hand, smashing to the floor. Jono apprehensively looked up. There she was. Sammi had found them.
Jono backed away. His reflexes took over. His back hit the wall. They were both trapped. Sammi’s eyes began to glow. They were in trouble.
Lily tightly gripped his hand. They had each other. Jono’s mind was frantically trying to think of a way out. This must have been how Dylan always felt as the alpha, and he wasn’t envious.
Dylan had travelled this route before. He knew exactly where they were heading, and it scared him a little. It had been a while since he had last travelled this deep into the forest; the last time almost resulting in his friends being killed. It was with much trepidation that he was going anywhere near again.
On the bright side, he had Drew and Allyn with him, with Kamilah, Noah and Monty not too far away so they had each other’s backs. Despite being the alpha, Dylan never felt as good a fighter as them. He supposed that Drew had more experience of fighting, but nevertheless, Dylan considered words to be his best weapon. Combat had its place, but only as a last resort.
There were a group of signals congregating in that area of the forest, spread around in a circle. Dylan suspected this was where the scientist would have gone. Though their intention remained unclear, they were still humans delving into the supernatural. This was the most logical place to come.
“This is where it gets tricky,” Allyn recalled, “It has to want to be found.”
“Of course it does,” Dylan sighed. This was the last obstacle he wanted to deal with. The rules of the supernatural world made absolutely no sense, and it confused his logical, rule-abiding brain.
“I think it wants us now,” Drew spotted it through a gap in the branches. There it was. The loneliest tree, yet the most powerful.
“Look,” Allyn pointed out, not far from where they were stood were a couple of figures, hidden in the shrubbery, watching them.
“Why aren’t they attacking?” Dylan wondered. He was almost certain they were the makeshift army that the scientists had created, though he couldn’t see clearly enough.
“They’re expecting us,” Drew replied. He had to be right – they had ended up exactly where the scientists wanted them.
All three of them cautiously approached the gigantic, mysterious tree trunk. Dylan found it so fascinating – there was still so much that he didn’t know about the Nemeton, and he was desperate to delve in deeper. The amount of mystery it carried, the stories it would tell if it could speak. Dylan had to learn more.
Just as expected, the scientists were there, facing the Nemeton as if they were working on it. That could only have been a bad thing in Dylan’s book.
“Time to fight,” Dew was rating to go. Dylan had to reel him in – they needed answers first.
“No, hold back,” Dylan commanded.
“What the hell, Dylan? This is our chance,” Drew hit out. He sounded frustrated, much to Dylan’s annoyance. So much for him being the alpha.
“We need answers, this isn’t over,” Dylan defended. In the corner of his eye, Dylan noticed the army approaching. Three soldiers, who looked like werewolves, but with stitch marks all over their faces. It was grotesque, and they were coming for Allyn.
“Allyn!” Dylan warned. He was too late – one of them had already grabbed her, priming its claws against her neck.
“Let her go,” Drew yelled. He was visibly becoming more and more angry. Allyn was his kryptonite. He would do anything to save her. Dylan had to react, and quickly.
“Dude, you need to stop, you’re going to get us all killed,” Dylan tried to calm him.
“Surrender and she lives,” one of the scientists spoke in its feminine yet deep robotic voice.
Dylan nodded at Drew. He needed to know that surrendering wasn’t the same as giving up, but it was in fact buying them time. Time to be rescued. Time to think up a plan.
Yasmin couldn’t believe her eyes. What she could see on the other side of the door was ghastly and gruesome. It made her squirm to see the stitches keeping those creations together. The thought of the butchering that must have occurred made her want to throw up. These creatures used to be human, but they were now feral. A part of Yasmin, underneath the fear, felt deeply sorry for them. For who they used to be.
However, they were almost in. The desk barricading the door wasn’t strong enough to hold off an army of werewolves. They had the strength Yasmin would expect from a normal werewolf, despite biologically being humans. That scared Yasmin. They were vastly outnumbered.
Josh slipped his hand around hers. They had each other’s backs, even in the bleakest moments. Their options were limited, but at least they were together.
“The windows won’t open wide enough,” Freddie cried out from the far end of the room.
Almost on cue, the outside windows smashed. Two of the creatures climbed in from outside. Now they really were surrounded.
“Behind me,” Josh took control, letting go of Yasmin’s hand. The door wasn’t holding, “Get down.”
WHAM! The door crashed open. Yasmin ad Freddie ducked under a desk as per Josh’s orders. However, Josh didn’t join them. He began to fight. He was on his own. Yasmin had to help.
“No,” Freddie grabbed Yasmin’s arm, “We need to get out.”
“He’s going to die,” Yasmin wanted to help. She needed to be there with him. He couldn’t fight all of these on his own.
“You trust him, don’t you? Keep trusting him,” Freddie advised, “We’ve got a clean shot at the exit. We need to go now.”
Yasmin paused. She could hear the punches being thrown in both directions. She could see the worrying spatters of blood on the floor. All she could picture in her mind was the unthinkable. However, she couldn’t let his decision be for nothing. They had to get out.
“Let’s go,” Yasmin regretfully decided. She and Freddie sprinted their way out, not looking back for even a second. Yasmin’s heart had never pumped so far. She was terrified, for both herself and Josh. He had to be okay, right?
Frustration boiling over, Drew needed to think fast. He refused to surrender, it was something he would never do, especially when threatened. It was weakness in his book. That said, losing Allyn wasn’t an option. He needed her more than anything. Nobody understood him like she did.
“Okay, we surrender,” Drew said through gritted teeth. Dylan nodded in approval. They were on the same page, for a change. Both of them raised their hands in defeat.
“Hold still,” the other scientist, who had a more masculine tone to its voice, directed. It approached Dylan with a syringe and immediately, Dylan’s face dropped. He looked insanely terrified, but Drew wasn’t worried. The syringe was empty, and the lever was pressed down. They wanted to take blood. He gave a reassuring nod to Dylan to relax his nerves, just as the needle probed into his neck. A trickle of blood followed the lever upwards while Dylan winced.
“What are you doing?” Dylan questioned as the scientist returned to the Nemeton with the syringe.
“The final solution is ready,” the scientist vaguely replied. Drew glanced to Allyn. She looked just as concerned as he did. The scientists’ mutts still had her restrained. His surrender was far from over.
The scientist injected the blood into the gigantic tree stump. Immediately, the Nemeton’s branches began to shake violently. It was reacting to Dylan’s blood.
“The blood of an alpha, mixed with advanced coding,” the scientist described. A feeling of dread shot through Drew’s body like a bullet. They had somehow tweaked the mechanics of the Nemeton, “The Nemeton summons supernaturals. It has a connection to every single one of them. It can transmit a global signal.”
“A signal that blocks the effect of the moon,” Drew realised. The full moon was necessary, not just for werewolves, but all supernaturals. He had no idea how or why, but it was like a fuel. The fuller the moon, the stronger they were.
“What?” Dylan was lost. He had less knowledge of the history of supernaturals than Drew did.
“They’re making us human,” Drew explained. Somehow, the more basic terms had an even more worrisome effect.
“They can’t,” Dylan was in disbelief. He couldn’t comprehend the idea, and Drew understood that. This shouldn’t have been possible.
“Try to shift, do it,” Drew ordered. He knew things had changed. He was so used to holding back the wolf inside. Now, it felt so empty.
“I can’t,” Dylan replied in realisation. They couldn’t fight even if they wanted to. The supernatural no longer existed.
Staring into the unfamiliar gaze, Jono couldn’t believe what had happened to his cousin. The once bubbly persona, cutesy expression and kind heart. All he could think of was how horrible he had been to her since she arrived. Now he needed to apologise by getting back the Sammi he knew.
He pushed Lily gently behind him. There was no way he was letting her get in harm’s way. On so many occasions, she had been the big sister he needed. She had protected him, even though she didn’t have to. Now it was time to grow up and be the little brother she deserved.
“Sammi, I know you’re in there,” Jono begged. He knew that she had to be buried underneath the Anpao. He remembered how Dylan always pulled him back from the edge, every time he lost control. If Sammi was the same, she could be rescued too. She just needed to learn control.
Unbelievably, the eyes switched back. For the first time in ages, Sammi looked human. Had his idea worked first try?
“Jono?” she spoke in her usual tone. This was almost too easy. Something felt wrong, but perhaps that was just pessimism? Regardless, Sammi was back. Jono flung his arms around her, thrilled and overjoyed.
“Are you okay?” Jono queried. She looked shattered; he wondered if she had slept at all.
“What’s happened? Where are we?” a disorientated Sammi questioned.
“You’re safe,” Jono tried to relax her.
“Jono,” Lily interrupted, a grave tone in her voice, “I don’t think it’s over yet.”
“What?” Jono began to feel his body be consumed by dread. His gut was right. Something had gone wrong. Nothing was this easy.
“Everything’s so quiet. I can’t hear like I used to,” Lily worryingly said. Jono concentrated. Neither could he. The wolf had gone. He was human again.
“This isn’t over yet,” Jono became even more concerned. Things weren’t right. Sammi could still have been in danger.
“What are you talking about? You’ve been keeping secrets since I arrived. I can cope with whatever is going on. I’ve seen more than you know, so please, cut the crap and tell me,” Sammi demanded.
Jono found himself agreeing. He was ready to give some answers, but he needed some in return. It was time to play both interviewer and interviewee.
9: Human Written by MarthaJonesFan
Front door blown wide open. House absolutely wrecked from top to bottom. There was mess all over the carpet: ornaments smashed, photos destroyed, and any remnants of the Marsden family home were in tatters.
It was a difficult sight for thirteen-year-old Drew. His entire life had been flipped on its head. He had been forced to grow up quicker than he should have. The only worries he should have had were homework and grades. Somehow, he actually missed the days of school being his priority, considering how much he complained about useless worksheets.
However, his life was falling apart. His pack were gone. His house had been ransacked. Drew wasn’t a very material person, but it went to show – nowhere was safe. What scared him the most, though, was the scent that lingered. It wasn’t human. It was a werewolf, and he knew exactly which one.
Perhaps it was naïve, but Drew couldn’t fathom why werewolves were at war with each other when both packs were being torn down by hunters. It was more than counter-productive, it was plain stupid. They should unite, despite their differences, to overcome their common enemy.
“Mom? Dad?” Drew called out. They should have been at home – it was late, and he knew for sure they had no plans. However, no response came.
Drew cautiously made his way upstairs – perhaps they couldn’t hear him? The house was eerily silent throughout, though; the creaking stairs made the only audible sound. Drew could feel an intense fear against his skin. Something wasn’t right, and he was drawn to his parents’ bedroom. He tentatively made his way there, extremely worried about what he would find.
Inside, Drew’s worst fears were confirmed. The most disgusting, gruesome sight met his eyes, and it broke whatever remained of his heart. Blood was dropping all over the bedsheets, surrounding the two bodies that had been butchered on top. The bodies of the people he loved the most. The bodies of his parents.
Drew felt numb. This had gone too far. His parents didn’t know anything about what he really was, or the war that had been going on in the shadows. They were innocent. He had taken them from him cold-heartedly.
The immense sadness began to hit. He had lost almost everything now. This war had to end, because the only person left was himself. One thirteen-year-old child, armed with more than enough grief to win the war. It was the only option left.
Dylan’s mind was spinning. Everything happening was making less and less sense. The scientists’ plan was worse than he could ever have envisaged, and he didn’t know how to stop it. He couldn’t reprogram the Nemeton like they had, he had no idea how to. They were all human again, and somehow, that didn’t appear to be the end of whatever they were planning.
His friends were still in danger. Their fake werewolf soldiers still had Allyn captured. Somehow, they hadn’t been affected. Why were their eyes still glowing, and their fangs still visible?
“What now?” Dylan called out. The Nemeton was making furious rustling sounds. It was upset and ferocious. The balance was wrong.
“Your kind are a disease,” the female-voiced scientist spoke, “This is the end.”
“What about your little puppets?” Dylan continued. He still had so many questions that he needed answers to.
“They are biologically humans. We engineered them to act like werewolves, but their life spans are limited,” she replied.
“Engineered?” Dylan was disgusted at how little empathy she had, “They were people. Innocent people. They’re not machines. You, though, you’re not human anymore. You lost your humanity a long time ago.”
“What do you want with us?” Drew enquired.
“You are of no relevance to us,” the male scientist added.
Just as they spoke, more of the creatures arrived, dragging somebody over. They were wearing a bright red jacket – one Dylan had seen so many times before. It had ended up in his bedroom by mistake so many times.
“Josh?” Dylan identified. He looked battle worn, but very much alive. He had cuts and marks on his cheeks that weren’t healing. He looked wrecked.
“Your friends failed,” the female scientist mocked.
“Come on, let’s go,” Drew urged, “We’re not relevant, so we don’t need to be here.”
“That easily?” Dylan was baffled.
“Don’t complain,” Drew whispered, “This keeps us alive. Surrendering isn’t giving up, right?”
“Right,” Dylan agreed. He helped carry Josh back away from the Nemeton. He could barely move on his own. They needed to regroup together, and fast.
Taking shelter in the safest place she could think of, Yasmin heaved Drew’s bunker door shut. The walls and door were lined with mountain ash – the creatures couldn’t get to them. They were protected.
The downside was that there was no phone signal. Yasmin couldn’t raise the alarm to Dylan, meaning they were trapped without rescue for the time being. She and Freddie were on their own.
“What now?” Freddie queried.
“We wait,” Yasmin replied, exasperated. She wasn’t convinced that this was a good idea for her state of mind. Too much quiet time meant too much dwelling. She needed to be kept busy, but she simply couldn’t.
“You’re thinking about him, right?” Freddie acknowledged. He could always read her emotions. They knew each other better than anyone else.
“How did you guess?” Yasmin raised a tiny smile – the best she could muster up under the circumstances.
“Because I’m thinking about him too,” Freddie opened up. They both slouched against the wall, sitting side-by-side along the wall, “He’s my best friend.”
“I know,” Yasmin replied, “I really like him, you know? I’ve never loved anyone like this before. No offence.”
“None taken,” Freddie smiled, “We’re better as friends. Best decision we ever made.”
“If he’s, you know,” Yasmin trailed off. She couldn’t bring herself to say the words.
“He won’t be,” Freddie understood what she meant.
“We don’t know that. If he is, then we need each other more than ever. You and me,” Yasmin rested her head on Freddie’s shoulder.
“I’m not going anywhere, don’t you worry. Besides, George is going to college, he’ll be around less, so I’m going to have to grow up a lot. I’ll need you,” Freddie confessed.
“Did you hear back from the computer shop?” Yasmin asked. She had helped him complete his resumé for a trainee technician in town. He needed a job for when George was around less, of course.
“I’ve got an interview next Monday,” Freddie replied, “If I’m still alive by then.”
“Dude, that’s amazing,” Yasmin felt a massive wave of pride wash over her. For just a moment, her worries and sadness washed away like rain against a car windscreen.
A loud banging interrupted them outside the door. Yasmin jumped out of her skin. Someone, or something, knew they were in there. She put her index finger firmly against her lip, signalling the urgency for silence to Freddie.
The banging continued. The door was strong and deflecting them all, but it was unsettling. Suddenly, the wheel began to turn. They were attempting to get in.
“Maybe it’s Dylan?” Freddie optimistically hoped.
“He wouldn’t be able to open the door. He’d call out for us,” Yasmin reasoned, “Whoever it is, they shouldn’t be able to get in, right?”
The door creaked open. Yasmin’s theory was thrown out of the window. The mountain ash was no good. They weren’t safe after all.
“Wait,” Yasmin noticed a familiar figure entering the bunker, “Brett?”
“What the hell is going on?” he questioned, baffled.
“You’re a werewolf?” Sammi clarified, for at least the fourth time. Jono wasn’t sure how to make it any clearer for her, short of spelling it out. Usually, he would have given her a demonstration of his glowing eyes, but whatever had happened meant he couldn’t even do that. His word had to be enough, especially while he focused on driving.
“Yes,” Jono simply replied, keeping his eyes focused on the road. They needed to get back to Dylan as soon as possible, because Sammi was still in danger.
“And you’re…,” she turned around to face Lily in the back of the car.
“Part-werewolf,” Lily completed the sentence.
“Shit,” Sammi was processing still., “I believe you. I’ve seen it before, but god, I had no idea you guys were involved.”
“Wait, you said that way too casually. You know about werewolves?” Jono jumped on this chance to explore her past, and hopefully, find out some more information about Uncle David.
“I never really got proper answers, but my dad kept moving town. I saw him one night, and his eyes were glowing bright red. He told me never to mention it again,” Sammi recalled, “That’s why I moved in with you. I’d had enough.”
“He’s an alpha,” Jono explained.
“Like Dylan?” Sammi connected the dots.
“Yeah, but Dylan’s a bit different. Dylan’s a hero. Not just my hero, but everyone’s,” Jono wasn’t hesitant to sing Dylan’s praises, though he was being careful not to insult Sammi’s dad. Sammi didn’t reply. It was a lot to process, but at least all three of them had finally been honest with each other.
Suddenly, Jono served. The road into town was blocked by an army. The scientists’ makeshift army. Six of them acted like a barricade, blocking their way.
“Everyone okay?” Jono checked as the car ground to a halt. Both Sammi and Lily replied affirmatively. The car hadn’t crashed, but they were surrounded. All doors were blocked.
Jono’s phone beeped. New text from Dylan. ‘Meet at treehouse urgently.’
“We need to get out of here. Now,” Jono directed.
“I’ve got an idea,” Sammi suggested, “They’re stupid. They might still think I’m the Anpao.”
“If it fails, we die,” Lily wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t think we’ve got any better suggestions,” Jono was keen to try. If they didn’t act, his car wasn’t going to last.
“I’ll go first. Follow me,” Sammi thought bravely, and on her feet. She stepped out of the car first, and sure enough, the creatures calmed themselves down. They recognised and respected her. The plan worked. Jono and Lily slid out after. Jono’s heart had never pumped faster; it was as if it were dancing a samba. The creatures examined him as he walked by, but they weren’t attacking. Jono could hardly even look at their grotesque faces, with body parts chopped off and others stitched on in their place. It was horrible.
Once out of the group, they ran. They could retrieve the car later. They needed to get to Dylan.
Breathing in a sigh of relief as he sat safely inside the treehouse, Dylan needed a change of plan. It was too late to stop the scientists, so their new mission was to reverse the damage.
There was one gigantic problem though: he didn’t know how to fix this. Normally there was some sort of logical exit route, but Dylan genuinely couldn’t spot one. How could he reprogram the Nemeton? It felt ludicrous to even think he could put things back to normal.
One thought did cross Dylan’s mind. Perhaps this wasn’t such a bad thing? Perhaps the end of everything supernatural meant a return to normality? He couldn’t deny how much simpler his life would become.
Deep down, Dylan knew it wasn’t so simple. The way the Nemeton reacted was violent, as if the balance of the world had been upset. It would have been selfish and naïve to leave things the way they were, especially seeing Josh so battle worn. He should have healed, but instead, he was in agony.
“Here,” Dylan passed him a cushion to rest against.
“I’m okay, I promise,” Josh insisted. Dylan knew better, though. He didn’t need to be able to hear Josh’s heartbeat to suss out his lies.
“What happened?” Dylan queried, “Where are Yasmin and Freddie?”
“I was the decoy. They got out while I fought,” Josh explained. He had a large gaping wound on his chest that was still worryingly dripping blood.
“We can’t waste any time,” Drew interrupted, “He needs to be able to heal.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Dylan stressed. He didn’t need people piling on top of him – the urgency of the situation was blindingly obvious.
“Hey, Dylan, it’s okay,” Allyn spoke gently, “But we do need to start thinking now.”
Dylan knew she was right. They couldn’t waste any more time. What could they do between them?
Climbing up the treehouse steps, Freddie could already hear the chitter-chatter of voices. However, it was a strange sensation, not being able to hear more clearly. He should have been able to make out every word they were saying at such close proximity. Whatever had happened, he was keen to find answers.
As he reached the top, Freddie was met by a couple of surprises. They were the last to arrive back to the group, though they ha been mostly without phone signal for a while. Sat amongst the group was Sammi. She looked okay and unscathed, if a little tired. Any evidence of the Anpao being there seemed to have gone. Furthermore, in the corner sat a battle-worn Josh, scarred and cut, but alive. Freddie felt a wave of joy filling his body.
“Hey,” he smiled, glancing in particular at both of them. Brett followed him in, with Yasmin bringing up the rear. Her face lit up the minute she met eyes with Josh. She didn’t say a word, but instantly went to lock lips with him.
“Ouch,” he remarked.
“I’m sorry,” Yasmin backed off, sitting next to him, “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
Freddie approached Sammi. He wasn’t sure what to say, but he wanted to see her properly.
“Long time no see,” he awkwardly greeted, saying goodbye to any hope of keeping his cool.
“I’ve missed you,” Sammi blushed. She looked so cute, even then.
“Same,” Freddie grinned, feeling warm and fuzzy in his stomach, “Are you okay now? Are you safe?”
“That’s where we need you,” Dylan broke up their reunion, “The scientists somehow reprogrammed the Nemeton to cancel our supernaturals. You know the software, right?”
“Not really, but I figured it out before, I can do it again,” Freddie warily agreed.
“Not to add pressure, but you’re our best shot,” Dylan added. Freddie opened up the laptop, ready to give the software another shot. He had to be able to figure it out.
“Those creatures,” Brett informed, “They’re in the streets.”
“They’re the grunts. They’re not going to kill us, but they might do some damage,” Drew replied, “Josh found that out first hand.
“Wait,” Freddie interrupted, pondering aloud, “You were modified by them, Sammi, like the army. Why have you shifted back now when those things haven’t?”
“I don’t know,” Sammi worriedly replied. Freddie suddenly felt sceptical. If he switched things back to normal, Sammi would be at risk of the Anpao taking over once again. If he didn’t, Josh could die. This was a horrible dilemma, and Freddie didn’t know what to do.
Whether they had a workable solution or not, Dylan wasn’t yet sure. Freddie had been typing away at the laptop, but even he seemed unsure of whether they could actually stop this or not. Either way, they had to try.
Being back at the Nemeton felt unsettling, and the branches were shaking even more vigorously. It was upset, and it was Dylan’s job to put things right.
However, he wasn’t stupid. He knew that Freddie was in between a rock and a hard place. Save the day and save Josh’s life, or keep things as they are to stop the Anpao reclaiming Sammi. Both sides posed huge risks, and Dylan wasn’t sure what Freddie would ultimately decide. The code he had written didn’t have to be used. Dylan’s job as alpha was to be prepared for either outcome.
On the bright side, they were one button press from potentially saving the world. All they had to do was transmit one signal in the same way the scientists transmitted and created fear. Everything should then return to normal, or so Dylan hoped.
“Where did they go?” Dylan thought aloud, noting the delightfully empty clearing surrounding the Nemeton.
“Their work is done, they’ve made a run for it,” Drew theorised.
Dylan walked with a visibly nervous Freddie towards the enormous trunk. He was shaking, and looked like he was one small prod away from collapsing into a heap. However, the laptop was ready. It was crunch time for Freddie.
“I know this is hard,” Dylan reassured, “But remember, we’re doing the right thing. We can still help her.”
“Right thing? How is there any sort of right thing?” Freddie looked to be on the verge of tears.
“You know what it is already, in your heart,” Dylan reassured. Freddie focused. He glanced at the screen for a few moments, but they felt dragged for Dylan. He was just as nervous as Freddie. He was praying their idea would actually work.
Freddie slammed his finger down on the enter key. The signal transmitted. Instantly, the Nemeton began to quieten down. The rustling stopped, and Dylan could feel the wolf inside him waking up. He was the alpha again – for better or worse.
“No!” Freddie cried out.
Dylan spun round. Sammi had Lily in a tight headlock. Her eyes were back to their old red colour. The Anpao was back already.
“Don’t think about it,” she warned Yasmin, who looked ready to pounce. They all knew Yasmin was the only one with a chance of fighting the Anpao, “You were all helpful, as were the scientists. You all accelerated the process, but this was always going to happen. Sammi was always my vessel.”
“She’s a kid,” Dylan begged, arm around an emotional Freddie to keep him calm. This was where he had to step up, and prove he was the alpha that his pack needed.
“Just you. You’re the only one I talk to,” the Anpao demanded.
Dylan nodded to the group. He could hold his own, and he wasn’t going to let Lily be hurt. The rest of the pack filtered out, leaving Dylan standing strong in front of the Anpao. Dylan was more determined to win than ever.
Jono’s emotions were skyrocketing off the charts. His cousin, possessed by some creature of darkness, was one wrong move away from killing his sister and his boyfriend. He felt uneasy, and he had to think of a way out. The rest of them regrouped just outside the clearing.
“What the hell can we do?” he paced, thinking aloud, “We won’t get anywhere near her again.”
“We’re dead,” Freddie looked blankly ahead, avoiding eye contact with everyone.
“No, we’re not,” Drew firmly reminded, “It’s not over until it’s over. Dylan’s the best at optimism, why are you all giving up on him?”
“You say that like you’re not one us,” Yasmin pointed out.
“I’m different. What I’ve seen,” Drew began to explain.
“Can we discuss this later?” Jono interrupted. There was no time to argue.
“Hey,” Brett pointed into the bushes. There they were – the scientists. Watching them, as if it were the latest episode of a highlight anticipated television show.
“Get ‘em,” Jono commanded, sprinting over. He couldn’t let them get away. He pounced onto one, digging his claws into their clothes so they couldn’t crawl away. Instantly, Jono removed their mask. Underneath was the face of a terrified human male, who must have been in his thirties.
“Help us,” Jono commanded, Freddie, Josh and Yasmin stood behind him while Drew and the others ran after the female scientist.
“You’re dangerous. She will wipe you out, and good riddance,” the man spoke. He had so much hate in his aggressive tone.
“You think she’ll stop with us? The Anpao dances with darkness, she will kill you too,” Yasmin reasoned.
“Worth it,” he simply spewed.
“Look, when you examined me,” Josh interjected, “What did you find? You didn’t chop off my nose. You tried to understand my mind, right? What did you see?”
“Death,” he replied.
“What about family? Friendship? Strength? Love?” Josh reasoned, “I had none of these things. I now have them all. You may want rid of supernaturals because they scare you, or because they don’t fit your scientific view of the world, but there’s one of them facing her now, all alone.”
“I saw a werewolf kill my parents,” he interrupted, “You’re dangerous.”
“No, the werewolf you saw was dangerous. The one out there is the exact opposite. He stands up for what is right, and protects everybody else without ever asking for thanks,” Josh continued, debating expertly, “His name is Dylan Drummond, and he’s my brother.”
Jono was impressed. Josh’s words amazingly seemed to be making him reconsider.
“Open the laptop. Now,” the scientist instructed. They still had a shot.
Dylan didn’t know what to do. He had so many questions to ask, but time was of the essence. He could see the Anpao’s grip on Lily, and it terrified him to see her expression. She was family, and family mattered. More than anything.
“What do you want?” Dylan demanded. Perhaps there was still room to bargain?
“Darkness. Death is the darkest occurrence in your world, and your kind are so easy to kill,” the Anpao reasoned, with a disgusting, evil smirk, “Even you, an alpha, the most powerful of all. As close to a true alpha as you could get.”
“Take me, then, but this has to stop. Lily, Sammi, my friends, and everyone. It all stops if you take me,” Dylan dealt. This was the final straw. This was him stepping up.
The Anpao laughed. A sinister, deathly laugh, like it was mocking Dylan.
“Fine, take me first, then target everyone else, but they won’t go down without a fight,” Dylan insisted, keeping his cool. He wasn’t letting the Anpao see any weakness, “You’re only doing the scientists’ bidding anyway. They brought you out in Sammi to keep us at bay. You’re a lapdog.”
The Nemeton roared again, the ferocity of the swishing branches accelerated. Something had changed again.
Lily slumped to the floor; the grip loosened. The Anpao simply stood still, as if it were frozen. Lily swiftly got up and ran to Dylan, looking just as bewildered as he did. Then he spotted Freddie with the laptop, hiding just out of view. He had undone the signal once again, but this felt different. Dylan’s inner wolf felt unaffected.
“Go, Yasmin,” Freddie yelled. Yasmin sprinted over to Sammi and took her hand. Immediately, a dark smoke lifted from her skin. The Anpao was leaving. It had more darkness in Yasmin’s nix powers than it could ever wish for.
The Nemeton sucked it up like a hoover, the branches once again resuming normal service. The threat was gone.
“Are you okay?” Dylan checked with Lily. She looked terrified.
“Yeah,” she replied, raising a slight smile, “What was that?”
“Freddie fine-tuned the signal. It affected the Anpao only this time,” Yasmin responded, hugging an inconsolable Sammi. Dylan looked over to Freddie and raised a proud smile. He saved everybody’s lives, including Sammi’s. They had succeeded.
Returning to school the next morning was such an unsettling feeling for Freddie. The adjustment back to normal life, around people who genuinely had no idea about what had been going on under their noses, just felt insane. He had saved their lives, and nobody would ever know.
On the bright side, he wasn’t alone in such a position. He had the best friends he could have asked for – friends he never would’ve had without Josh biting him, and Dylan taking him into his pack. With everything they had been through together, they were the people who made him feel accepted and worthy.
Arriving at the bench, Freddie sat next to Sammi, immediately placing a peck on her cheek and intertwining his hand with hers. The girl he had really began to like was safe, and his worries were over. The relief was second to none.
The general mood at the table was surprisingly positive for that time in the morning. Yasmin still had her textbooks out, of course – there was never an excuse to pause her studies. George and Lily were liking arms next to her on the opposite side of the table, both with uncontrollably wide grins on their faces.
“Get a room, you two,” Freddie jested.
“I got my college acceptance, I’m going to Washington,” Lily exclaimed.
“Hey, congratulations,” Freddie beamed. It scared him to think he would be in a similar spot in a year’s time. What would become of everything werewolf related by the time they went to college? That was a worry for another day, though. This was Lily’s moment, “Have you told Jono?”
“I texted him earlier, he stayed at Dylan’s last night,” she replied.
“Josh is probably slowing them down,” Yasmin chuckled. It was shocking to believe it wasn’t even twenty-four hours prior that they thought Josh was dead, and now they were back to their usual banter like nothing happened. Everything they did had become so normalised, but Freddie never took anything for granted.
After all, he hadn’t let go of Sammi’s hand, and he never wanted to again.
For the first morning in a while, Dylan woke up feeling optimistic. He didn’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders for a change, and everything was just the way it should be. School was back to being his top priority and he felt surprisingly motivated – hearing Lily’s good news had reminded him of just how close college really was for him now.
Waking up next to a much calmer Jono was bliss, too. They could finally focus on each other again, without the panic of Sammi, or the scientists, or anything remotely supernatural. No matter what they really were, it was important to ensure they always remained human at heart.
The return to tranquillity made Dylan appreciate the little things in life. The gentle sunlight on his walk to school. The goodbye kiss from Caroline on his way out. The banter he had with Josh every day. The soft touch of Jono’s hand enclosed in his, and the calming sensation of their lips colliding while Dylan’s hands ruffled through Jono’s beautiful mop of curls. He would never take any of his favourite things for granted ever again.
Dylan, Jono and Josh arrived at the school gate at precisely eight o’clock, just as they always did, but Dylan felt unusually motivated. The events at the Nemeton proved that he could conquer anything with the help of his friends, so it was time to conquer school. No excuses.
“Hey,” Dylan smiled at Drew on the way in. Unusually, he was lingering around the gate, as if he didn’t want to come inside.
“You look relaxed,” Drew commented.
“You don’t, no offence,” Dylan replied playfully.
“One of them escaped. We spent all night looking for her. Allyn, Monty, Noah, Kamilah, and me,” Drew explained. He wasn’t feeling the same optimistic vibe.
“Ed’s on the lookout, he’s got the other scientist in custody. They’re human, they committed murder, it’s his area,” Dylan explained.
“Except we’re still at risk. We spent all night cleaning up their mess, rounding up the army. They’re all dead already, Dylan. Fifteen innocent people dead, because those monsters wanted to target us. I can’t let that lie,” Drew justified.
“So you’re going with them to find her,” Dylan realised, feeling a little disheartened. Drew was a vital part of the pack, and Dylan didn’t want it to change.
“This is what I need to do,” Drew justified, “It gives me purpose, and it gets me away from the ghosts that haunt me in Crystalshaw. Besides, I’m only a phone call away. I need you to remember, though, to stay vigilant.”
“Always,” Dylan immediately replied.
“More than usual. The alpha is coming, and you’ve not met him before, but his daughter is in your pack now. There’s no way he’s going to let that lie,” Drew warned.
“Noted,” Dylan nodded. He was a little worried about Jono’s uncle, but he kept telling himself it wasn’t a worry for today. They could cross that bridge when they came to it, “Thank you. For everything.”
“I don’t do soppy,” Drew bluntly responded, “But the bunker’s yours now. Oh, and Dylan, no matter what, you’ll always be my alpha.” He raised as much of a smile as Drew ever did. Dylan felt mixed emotions – it was going to leave a gaping hole in his pack, but this was what Drew did best. Saving the world.
“Go get ‘em,” Dylan encouraged, feeling a little emotional. He still had Jono’s hand wrapped around his. They still had each other, and even though Drew wasn’t going to be around, he was still fighting the good fight, with the one he loved. For all their differences, he and Drew weren’t such drastic opposites after all.
As Drew walked away, Dylan, Jono and Josh arrived at the bench. Josh shared a welcoming kiss with Yasmin. Unusually, everyone on the table was coupled up. Dylan glanced at Jono – he still adored him just as much as the very first day they met. He never would have guessed all that they would go through, and everything that would become of them.
He was the luckiest kid in the world.