Become a Fan
Walking Wolf Moon - Chapter 13
By Brandon M Herbert
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Not rated by the Author.
Jimmy's first Full Moon.
The days passed in a blur, and my energy grew with each of them. An impatient tingling began to itch inside me, and with every chance I got, I tried ‘pushing through’, either at something far away or, as I discovered on my own, willfully increasing the light sensitivity of my eyes, increasing my night vision; pushing through the dark. Full Moon day rose and fell on Saturday, and then Full Moon night descended upon me in a rush. After dinner I volunteered to clean up the dishes, much to my parent’s suspicion, but I just could not keep still for the life of me. I felt as though if I stopped moving, I would burst into flames or something; a nervous frenetic energy was coursing through me that I knew only too well now the cause. I was just drying off my hands when there was a knock at the door.
I arrived to open it before John, and was not particularly surprised to see Fen on the other side, I had actually been somewhat expecting him…
“Hey Jimmy, are you ready?” I could see my own energetic tension mirrored in his eyes; the air around him almost seeming to shimmer.
“Yeah, one sec... Mom! Dad! Fen’s here, I’m gunna hang out with him tonight!”
“Hold on a sec, when are you going to be home!?” Mom called back.
I glanced questioningly at Fen, who merely shrugged unhelpfully, “I don’t know for sure, probably pretty late… um… I’ll be back by two!”
“Try to be back by one please? We don’t want you to wake us up when you get back! Have fun, oh, and don’t forget your jacket!”
I dutifully grabbed my faded and worn denim jacket off its hook by the door, and pulled it on as I slipped out, “Ok mom, g’night!” I locked the door, and then followed Fen down the steps. The sky was still a deep soft violet from the fallen sun, the first stars dotting the fabric of the cosmos above our heads; but the lady Luna was not yet visible.
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to meet up with Loki and Geri at the School, then go to the park in his car.”
“Is it okay to be there after dark? It’s not in most parks…”
“No, but they’d have no way of finding us anyway…”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind, don’t worry about it.” The tension was audible in his voice. Silence followed for a few minutes before I shuddered and asked.
“Does it feel like this every full moon?”
“Sometimes… Sometimes it’s even more intense; this is sorta moderate actually…” Fen was silent again for a few blocks, before he suddenly spoke again. “Actually, I think it’s partly because of you…” he looked at me and smiled, “It’s been a long time since we had a new pup in the pack…”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little. A brisk breeze swept down the street, tussling our hair, and sweeping much warmth out of my unfastened jacket before I closed it. The mist of our breaths, I realized, was just visible in the amber pools of streetlamp light. Though the days were still fairly warm and bright, the nights grew far colder in comparison as autumn grew closer…
Geri’s car was nowhere to be found when we arrived at the rendezvous point at the school. We waited for a few minutes and Fen checked his watch. Suddenly, a thrill ran down my spine, and I gasped slightly. Fen did the same almost in sync with me. We both looked at each other, his amber eyes gleaming brightly, and my stomach clenched; then in unison we both turned and looked at the spot where the great amber orb of the moon had just begun to break over the jagged line of the mountains.
Behind us a car pulled into the empty driveway, and slowed down beside us. A window rolled down, and Loki called out to us, “Hey, you bums want a ride?”
“Where you heading?” I asked back, leaning on the side of the car, trying to impersonate a hitchhiker.
“We’re gunna go directly to Hell... Won’t pass ‘Go’… Won’t collect $200… Just straight to Hell… You in?”
“Sure, so long as there’s room for my friend here. He doesn’t’ talk much, but I figure he’ll be handy if we end up stranded somewhere and need someone to cannibalize…” I opened the back door, and motioned Fen in regally. My body felt all tingly tonight, and so my mind turned a little giddy in kind.
Loki chatted with Fen about some mundane matters before he turned back to me. “So, you automatically assume that I would be the one eaten in a cannibalism situation?”
I couldn’t help but laugh, “Well, now that I think about it, it’d probably be Geri ‘cause he’s the least assertive.”
“I wouldn’t get your hopes up there noob; I think we’re all in agreement that we’d prefer fresh meat over something as worn out as me!” Geri retorted bitingly.
“Oh Yeah! Point for the omega!”
“No Geri,” Loki said, “No points for you, you don’t get any, remember?”
“Gee, thanks; here, lemme just drive all y’all’s ungrateful butt-munching hides into that ditch over there…”
“Oooh, somebody’s feisty tonight!” Loki jabbed.
“Later…” she whispered with a voice that could’ve melted chocolate.
My attention drifted out the window, and I struggled to keep track of the route we were taking. We were heading right into a big part of the city I had never been into, and had only glimpsed briefly in a couple maps. After we passed over the river, and through a brief industrial area lit primarily by the jaundiced yellow glow of floodlights; we turned off of 9th street, and almost immediately the street changed completely. Quaint and unique little gingerbread cottages and some larger Victorian homes lined each other closely on the street, that was lit rather sparsely by the rare streetlamp, or other motorist.
Geri built up speed, then ascended a rather steep hill, with a ridiculously dangerous three-way blind intersection immediately at the summit, before the road leveled out again. Whoever designed that intersection needed to be found and shot immediately before unleashing any other road hazards upon the unsuspecting populace… The architecture grew older, and the trees larger and more ancient as we went along, Geri turned a bewildering number of times so that I grew disoriented within minutes, my eyes constantly drifting back to the rising golden moon. Finally, he pulled down a road with some newer identity-less adobe homes on it, and pulled off to the side, between two of the yards. We all got out, and stretched ourselves, while Geri locked the doors.
Fen started walking down the street and we all automatically followed him. He walked close to a stand of tall evergreen trees growing between two lawns, and disappeared inside them. As I got closer, I realized that there was actually a narrow driveway between two evergreen walls, leading into a small dirt parking lot, with a tennis court immediately beyond. The smell of freshly cut grass, sprinklers, and horse manure wafted over us, as my senses came alive. Though I knew the night was dark, it didn’t seem near as dark as the brightest night I could remember… Every sound, every cricket, every bird, every creak of a shifting tree called out to try and harness my attention. My skin felt tingly, as if it would not stop writhing over my bones, and my nostrils flared, siphoning in all the scents I could gather. Loki and Geri started pushing each other and rough-housing while Fen led, stoic as ever. Again, I felt very out of place in a very close-knit group. I tried to draw strength from my memory of the other night with the pizza; but it was barely sufficient to keep myself moving forward; instead of stopping and doing something very foolish.
Fen led us to the right of the courts, to a small dirt path, almost hidden in the Russian olive bushes and we bypassed the wide open space of the courts to a short-cut that led us almost directly into the woodchip pen with the children’s brightly colored plastic playground equipment. Just seeing this place, the scent of cedar wood chips brought back memories of my own; I could almost see children running around and playing here, laughing, dueling with stick-swords, watchful parents reclining nearby… and of course that one child sitting off to the side crying, alone… no one coming by except to further taunt him… Nostalgia was such a dirty bitch…
Out beyond the equipment, past a dividing line of trees, a large playing field was spread out, dark and textured in the night. A couple net-less soccer goals and the back of a baseball diamond jutted up from the turf, the diamond marking a trail split. Out beyond lay another field, past a few small hills, some with bleachers on them, and far beyond I could make out another parking lot, right next to a maintenance building. This baseball field was completely fenced in, and I could tell the shade difference in the dark, showing it was probably all dirt. Continuing past the equipment to my right was a series of covered patios, alongside a slightly tree-obscured barbed wire fence, barriering between the park and a large piece of pasture.
The entire thing seemed lined with silver tinsel, as the moon rose up over the barrier trees, loosing its golden hue quickly as it ascended. Fen stopped, lifted his face with his eyes closed, and inhaled the air deeply through his nose. I used the opportunity to slip up next to him and ask him one of the questions that had been nagging me.
“Hey Fen? Why didn’t we park in either of the parking lots, they were closer?”
“Remember when you asked about whether it was okay to be here after dark. Well… it’s not. That’s an adaptation we made to keep risk to a minimum; the people at one house think we might be visitors at the other, and vice versa; meanwhile, when the police drive through the parking lots to see if anyone’s parked there; they find no reason to investigate further. If one of the neighbors calls in a complaint, we can easily elude a foot cop or two… And have before… that was quite fun…” He smiled with the barely controlled glee of a child breaking the rules just to break them. “For tonight; this is our territory; we patrol it, mark it, everything in it belongs to us. Tonight, this place is ours…”
“By ‘mark’, you don’t mean we…”
“You don’t honestly think those restrooms are still open do you?” he came up behind me and put an amiable arm over my shoulder, “We just kill two birds with one kidney stone, so to speak...” The resulting mental image made me cringe.
“First things first, we patrol the territory, make sure no one’s here who shouldn’t be; also, since this is your first time here, you can get to know the lay of the land, in case you need to get away from someone.” Loki and Geri drifted off on their own, Geri taking the trail down the middle of the park, Loki swinging back to the courts and probably around the perimeter. “Come on Jimmy, stick with me this time.” Fen said, and then started up along the line of the barbed wire fence, leading me along the perimeter opposite the way Loki took. We passed into the shadows cast by the young pine trees from the single lamp-post still lit in the center of the park. I stiffed at the strong odors of the horses, drifting at us from the pasture, which Fen seemed to notice.
“When I was little, my grandpa used to bring me here… There were a couple horses here, I can’t remember their names anymore; but we would always feed them grass, and sometimes bring them some old apples and stuff, if they had anything that had gone too long without eating…” Fen stared over the pasture, at the small rectangular orange lights in the windows of the houses far beyond.
“Does your Grandpa still live around here?” I asked, trying to take advantage of Fen’s relative lack of secrecy.
“Papa died many years ago, when I was still in Middle school, he had a heart attack in his car while loading up some newspapers he was taking to the Golden Age center…”
“Oh, I’m sorry; is your Grandma still around?”
The scowl that spread across his face was unmistakable. “Yes.” He said simply and bluntly.
“I take it by your expression that… that’s not a good thing?”
“My… grandmother…” he seemed to have to squeeze the word out, “is not a very good person; though she does like to herald her own goodness enough… Mom never got along with her very well; she was too independent to fall into her web, though my uncle is still utterly enslaved to her will and manipulations. The final straw… when Papa died, she used his death to garnish sympathy and attention from everyone, using his passing to fuel her narcissistic engine… She is such a despicable drama queen… She and my mother have not spoken for years now; though they still send each other cards at Christmas. Mom’s cards are always basic and brief, while hers are full of self glorification and guilt-trips. Mom doesn’t care that her slander has cost her almost every friend or bit of repute she had in the community; she cut her relations for both her sake and mine…”
I was quiet a moment, absorbing the unexpectedly personal details he had suddenly shared, listened to the crunch of the slightly dried grass underfoot. “I’m sorry to hear about that…” Sorry there had to be another so like me…
“Thanks, but it’s alright… We’re stronger without her anyway…”
We came to the end of the patios, and I saw that beyond a wood-beam fence, lay a third parking lot; very like the one we had walked through; realizing the lots marked a triangle in the park. We turned then and started up the next leg, passing piles of discarded cut grass, and skimming the line of the fenced field. The air reeked of mildew and rotting plant matter; it smelled like a massive compost heap. Here, both the light of the streetlamp and the moon, were to our left, casting long dark shadows out from the trees and grass piles. Fen started weaving through them and I tried to follow though I eventually lost him in one of the shadows. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard his voice come from directly behind me, my hackles raised regardless, and I had to fight to suppress the growl that wanted to rumble out.
“You’ll learn, in time, how to keep to the shadows. They’re extremely valuable assets for those like us. They’re perfect to hunt, guard, or to escape undetected. For whatever reason, this pack seems to have a real affinity with them… We live in them, we work in them, and we hide in them… They suit us…” He might as well be talking to the haystacks as me; he seemed to trail off, lost in his own thoughts as he walked past me as if he hadn’t just intentionally scared the junk out of me. I continued following him; my nerves somewhat taught though. “You’d do well to learn how to use them…” He trailed off, an affectionate smile on his face while he trailed his fingers lightly over one of the stacks that stood almost as tall as the two of us.
We approached the end of the line of haystacks, the maintenance building coming up closer, a single yellow lamp illuminating it. Fen and I stopped simultaneously, and my heart sped up, though I didn’t know why, pumping adrenaline into my bloodstream. My eyes darted around behind me to make sure nothing jumped out at me that way again. Whatever had caused Fen to stop had set my senses off as well. My nostrils twitched as I recognized the barest whiff, merely a sliver of scent in the air. I backed up, and crouched down in the shadow of a tarp covered mound; my dark clothes blending in with it. Fen advanced slowly, his eyes sweeping back and forth.
A scarcely audible noise to our right drew both of our attention; and I barely saw the shadow launch itself out from behind the hay at Fen through my peripheral vision. He snarled as Geri tackled him, launching them both grappling across the ground. I saw through the tactic, and looked back to the right; keeping myself hidden until I saw her. Loki was now running up to help Geri overpower Fen, unfortunately she would never reach him. I slipped around the tall barrel of hay across from me; and launched myself at Loki as she came within range, broad-siding her and plowing her down to the ground.
Though startled for an instant, as soon as I backed off she was up, and made a swipe at my face with her hand, baring her teeth at me and growling.
A thought streaked through my mind momentarily, that it wasn’t right for people to act like this at our age. But just as quickly, it was drowned out by logic. Not all the rules of my old world held true anymore…
I jumped back from her, crouching down low, with my hands almost touching the ground; my weight spread low and wide. She jumped at me, and I swiped her to the side, pulling her over my foot and tripping her; this time I pinned her; holding her down despite her growls and snarls of protest. The silver necklace hung heavy and wearisome around my neck like a ball and chain; but regardless, the great amber eyes of the wolf in my mind’s eye opened; and he told me what to do in that strange language of image and sensation he used.
I bared my teeth, with his eyes burning through mine, and snapped at where Loki’s muzzle would be. When I looked at her, I didn’t see a girl; I saw instead through my other eyes, a feminine wolf, fair brown and gray in color… She fought against me, but I was unrelenting and eventually she stopped snarling and made licking gestures in supplication. I had just challenged the Beta female… and won… Which would technically make me now…
I shook away those thoughts, and looked instead over to Geri and Fen’s struggle; my blood still pumping hot and fast! Geri and Fen were circling each other, walking on all fours. It only seemed odd for a moment, before I swept the thought aside and realized the absurdity of it. Geri was a very well built man, very muscular on a solid frame; and yet he just couldn’t seem to get any sort of upper hand on the scrawny, lanky, Alpha… There must be something to Fen… something more than just experience… I filed that away in the back of my mind almost without meaning to.
I leapt up from Loki and bounded over to try to take Geri by surprise, but he dived out of the way at the last second and my tackle missed him; sending me skidding through the cool damp grass. I looked up in time to see Fen’s attack slip by, just off target; and Geri, broke out into a run back across the fence toward the open field. Fen and I were up in a heartbeat in pursuit. Geri was surprisingly fast, as was Fen who slowly drew ahead of me. I could hear the patter of feet behind us as Loki joined in the chase. They moved so damn fast! Fen was almost upon Geri when he took a sudden left once he was past the fencing, and then swerved quickly back right again; cutting diagonally across the soccer field, back toward the courts; and buying some more room from Fen in the process.
My own competitive urges provided fuel for the wolf’s; and sheer will not to be slowest pushed me on. I focused down and off the earth; visualizing a line ahead of me; and willing myself faster and faster down it. I pushed and pushed; and slowly the distance between Fen and I finally stopped growing. The air seemed to just flow around me; and I pushed through it; slipping like a fish through water; not even feeling connected to the ground any more; almost like I was willing myself to fly… Not touching any more than the balls of my feet at the end of each long loping stride. It was an almost zen-like zone that enveloped me when we ran; a flowing line four long streaming across the field…
Finally, Geri slowed and twirled around to face his pursuers in a low stance; ironically right next to the goalpost. Fen barely slowed before plowing into him like a sack of bricks…
I was not far behind, and ended up skidding onto my rump in my braking attempt; coming to rest right next to them, moments before Loki pounced on me; and I rolled with her momentum throwing her off me. We stood there staring at each other, panting hard with muscles taught and ready to respond if the other moved. Slowly… a grin spread over both of our faces, and we relaxed a little.
“Not bad for a wee pup…” She said her voice hoarse from panting.
“Better than you regardless…” She bared her teeth in a smile, with an implied threat to her posture.
“You just took me by surprise is all, it’ll end differently next time, I assure you…”
“Sorry, but your assurance doesn’t impress me…” She looked good and pissed now. “Besides, you submitted to me, remember?”
“What was that? Fen’s spoke, I looked over to see him sitting atop the scruffed-up Geri. “You submitted to him?”
“It wasn’t a real challenge! He just surprised me, that’s all…” She protested.
“Surprise is to be expected; besides, he had to have really gotten an advantage over you to get you to submit to him. You rarely even do it to me…”
“Fen!” She growled, but she didn’t’ even have an argument other than pride anymore.
“It’s only because he’s so new to all this that he won’t move up in the pack. But he bested you Loki; I don’t think any of us will forget that…” Fen looked at me, “Rightfully, you would be the new Beta right now. The only reason I won’t accept it is because I don’t think your familiar enough yet to be able to handle that position. Are you okay with that?”
Inner wolf: pissy and growling. “I don’t like it very much, it seems too much like human politics; but I accept your decision.”
“Do you think you could handle it?”
I couldn’t think of a good way to word my response, so I remained silent.
“Tell ya what Jimmy; if you can beat me in a challenge; I’ll grant you the position…”
My heart sped faster; what should I do? I didn’t think I could beat him, but still… the desire to ascend was there… Be smart Jimmy, I reminded myself, use your head, not your ego…
“No… No, thank you, but I’ll decline; I’m fine with it…” Part of me with big sharp teeth railed against my decision.
“Interesting choice Jimmy, but it’s too bad. I challenged you… you have to face me…”
Ah shit… I was still catching my breath from the sprint over here; Fen was as serene as the eye of a hurricane, and just as deceptive. His eyes burned into mine, and he stood. There was a subtle but strong menace to his stare, his posture; everything that made me want to tuck my tail and run away; fortunately though, something inside me wanted to meet his challenge, wanted to prove myself to him, wanted to beat him… I stood my ground, though fear nipped at my heart; the cold was soon overwashed by a flush of heat; and my muscles tightened in readiness.
“Show me what you can do…” he mumbled, eyes like embers burning into mine, “Let’s romp pup…”
His lunge, though expected, was far faster that I could have realized it could be; I batted away his outstretched arm ineffectually; and narrowly slipped off to the side feeling his nails rake over my opposite arm. He was instantly swinging around and I rolled down under his swipe, using my momentum to carry me back up as I swiped at him with my claws. Wait, claws? What the—DUCK!
I dropped down onto my hands to avoid his next swipe, and launched myself at his waist to tackle him. He rolled with me and pinned me to the ground under him; leering down at me gloatingly, or so it seemed. I struggled, then with a shudder; I felt my inner wolf slip behind the helm; and a calm detachment overtook me and I was able to observe and strategize while he did the actual work. I stopped struggling frantically and focused instead on a single arm; I was apparently still more muscular than Fen, because I slowly pushed his arm up away from the ground; pushing my body with all our willpower; when it seemed I couldn’t lift anymore; I dropped him while raising my face, and snapping at his suddenly vulnerable throat with a snarl. He sprung off me, and I instantly rolled back up on to a more natural position, on all fours… Fours? Oh, forget it…
He stood crouched and ready, and slowly raised a hand to his throat; an angry red crescent raised the skin where my teeth had grazed. He looked down to see if there was blood on his hand, smiling. I couldn’t tell if his smile was amused or vindictive though… My eyes opened wider, the cold air moving in through my nostrils; it felt so good to have my heart race again!
We rushed each other at the same instant; a soft growl sneaking out my throat, I feinted right, but then used my hands on the cool grass to throw myself the opposite direction; and swing my arm up at him; my fingers curled like talons; some hot beast’s blood pushing through my veins like molten hate. Through the strange detachment, I was aware of this unexpected rage pouring out, as I roared in fury and drew lines across Fen’s bare arm. The rage lent speed, it lent power; and I knew with utter confidence that this emotion was like an endless well of power so long as I tapped it.
My human aspect kicked in, I had to find some way to lead him into an unexpected situation; where I could overpower his experience with raw fire. Of course…
I ducked his swipe, and bolted past him, away from the goalposts, and toward the unfenced baseball diamond; sensing him full speed right on my tail. Much like Geri had done; I turned and faced him; still moving with full momentum…perfect… I dropped my center of balance at the last second, and swung my arm up under his knees, sending him over me with his own momentum; and instantly twisted myself around and pounced on top of him. He didn’t have the muscle mass that I did, so he relied more on the speed and built of momentum to add weight to his attacks, I removed that distance and engaged him point blank… What followed was a frenzy of grappling, clawing, biting, and snarling, with a few yelps thrown in here and there from each of us. The fire of my rage ignited the bloodlust frenzy, wafting off me like a billowing inferno wind; blinding me to my own pain, and lending taught steel strength to my muscles.
Somehow, in the tossing, we rolled and writhed, and he ended up atop me, and pinned me again; I responded by lashing out with my teeth, and opening his cheek just under his left cheekbone. The beast did not want it over, it wanted to win! It wanted to toss the flesh of its defeated foe to and fro, glorifying in the red rain of gore. The scent! The taste! It wanted its prey! A blackness descended upon me, and I knew only brief flashes of image; no link to my body.
Images of red soft flesh, streams of blood…
“No! Jimmy! Jimmy, wake up!”
Cold lifeless green eyes, a mist of red… NO!
“Jimmy! Calm down; it’s over! It’s over now—LOOK AT ME!”
Something shook me, and my unseeing eyes locked onto Fen’s face, he was straddling me, pinning my arms to my sides, while his hot wolf eyes bored into mine with… sadness… compassion… tears…? Wait, what was going on…?
Something hot and wet dripped onto my face, and my eyes drifted down from his worried eyes to the angry red slash on his face, from which blood flowed freely, running down his jawline and falling onto my face mixed with the tears from his eyes, dripping off one by one. That wound… I made it… I made it out of a hate he did not deserve; what did I do? That wasn’t the wolf… though it was buried close; it was… it was me! That was all me… I flashed back to the urges and the images I had so desired only moments ago; and the world started to swim; the angry heat of rage burning itself out into the cold tossed grass. I sensed the others approaching, and I opened my eyes, and looked at the bleeding cut again; before the world turned into a warbling distorted mess as tears welled up in my upturned eyes and streamed down my face…
“Fen… I’m so sorry…” I sobbed, and breaking his hold on my wrists, I wrapped my arms around him and crushed him to me as tight as I could; dear God, what did I almost do? “I’M SO SORRY!”
“What pain you’ve felt… such rage you keep bottled inside of you…” he whispered. “When the wolf moves up from the deep, sometimes the doors to other things are opened as well… Monsters we couldn’t run away and hide from, so we captured them under the sheets instead; and buried them in the darkness.”
“It wasn’t the wolf; it was… it was me…” my voice was thick and raw. “It was all me…”
Fen touched my face, tracing the lines that the tears had burned down my cheeks. “Loki holds so much light; what could have caused such darkness in you?”
I choked on my tears and rolled away from them; climbing away, coughing and choking on my own pity and self-loathing. I crawled on hand and knee into the woodchips, and slipped up step by step into the nest of the jungle gym, where I curled up and closed my eyes.
I opened them briefly, part of me wishing they would just go away and leave me to nothing again; another part of me wishing they would come over and hold me, and tell me everything would be okay… I was so weary, tired and weary of trying to will myself to live and life I could see no worth in. They were nothing more than a blurry mess, all mooshed together, right where I left them on the lawn. I closed my eyes again, feeling every cut and scratch and bruise, and obsessing over how much worse Fen’s face must feel than anything hurting on my own body; as if wanting the pain to be my atonement. They weren’t coming to me… they never would…
Some time later, a sound stirred me out of my numb reverie, woodchips rubbing together as something stepped on them. The slight squeak of a hand’s friction on metal tubing.
“Are you done sulking yet?” Fen’s voice was low and calm, and again emotionally bereft.
“Huh?” I opened my eyes, and almost didn’t recognize his silhouette as he sat on one of the hand rails above me.
“If you’re done sulking, the night is still young.” I could see his face outlined in silver by the moonlight; my mark a dark line, but the blood was gone.
“Where’d the blood go?”
“They helped me clean up a bit…”
“Has it stopped bleeding already?”
“Yeah, it wasn’t that deep, and I heal fast; just another piece of the magic in our lives… Ya know…There’s magic at work all around us; it’s just that we’re so jaded, we don’t notice anymore. The sun rises each and every day; prayers get answered, lives are born, souls move on… Each little event that is a miracle has become so expected and we don’t’ even notice anymore; it’s become routine… a given… But… what if some day the sun didn’t rise? What if no one was ever born again, what if no one ever died again? Doesn’t it seem like more fun when you see the miracles around you every day? The marvelous colors of fall, the new lives in spring, the harvest, the odd occurrences that remind us that there is far more to life than we could have ever dreamt possible.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh don’t mind me, it’s just the ramblings of an unhinged mind… but still… if you had to take something away from this; remember that as long as there is life, there is hope. If you face a challenge, you fight it until you defeat it, then you move on to the next one which you bet is gunna be an even bigger meaner old dragon than the one before it, but still you keep fighting, each day, if for nothing else than for the addictive love of the everyday miracles we don’t’ even notice anymore…” Fen looked up at the sky, the moon almost at it’s zenith in the middle of the velvet curtain. “Look at her, and tell me what you see inside you… Do you see a chunk of rock, locked in orbit by the push/pull of gravity and momentum? Or do you see a radiant goddess that has smiled down upon us since before time recordable; a shimmering beacon that guides and governs our rhythms and cycles; and has guarded, especially our kind, for centuries? Her white light the same light of the sun reflected back at us, but yet wholly her own light, her own energy… She is our Mother Luna…”
As I stared up into the pallid face of the full moon; I felt the light seeping into me, and stirring the wolf inside me; as a sharp pain sprouted in my chest. The pain grew and grew and I gasped as my entire back spasmed; arching against the hard steel honeycomb of the equipment. It felt like the moon’s fire had spilled down into me, and my body was twisting itself inside out, trying to give vent to the insistent stabbing burn by doing whatever it had to, burst it’s seam and remake itself entirely if need be. “What’s going…?”
Cool soft hands on my forehead helped me anchor myself in the real world again; I looked up into Loki’s eyes, I hadn’t even noticed her approaching… “Shh, it’ll fade in a moment; you just have too much shifting energy right now; I’ll help you…” She closed her eyes and breathed out; as she did so, I felt a soothing calm begin to settle beneath the insistent buzz, and slowly begin to push it out. I opened my eyes and saw both Geri and Fen touching Loki’s arms; the air around us all seemed to vibrate with energy. She smiled gently, and took her hands away from me; “You’re very powerful Jimmy, you just need to get the gunk out of your system. You still have so much to learn, we all do… So I’m afraid your stuck with us whether you like it or not!”
“After everything that I did tonight, you still want me with you?” I asked, still enwrapped in my own personal pity party.
“More than ever,” Fen replied, “We can help you heal yourself, pull you back from that dark edge that you were so close to, whether you knew it or not. Awakening your inner wolf had very little to do with it; that was a bomb waiting to go off any day; we just set it off a little bit early to lessen the damage… We’re fine, I’ll heal in no time; you have the most healing out of all of us, because you didn’t know how deeply infected the wound was from the beginning.”
“I’m so sorry… thank you… Um…What did Loki do? Just a minute ago…?”
“Oh, I used a little vampire trick I picked up. You had an excess of energy; we had a deficit from helping Fen heal; so I just sorta, drained it out of you, and shared it among all of us. It’s sorta like how you were made actually…”
“What do you mean?”
“When Fen bit you, like all of us; it wasn’t just a physical bite; there was a quick bit of energy work there as well; first he sucked out some of your energy, your chi, then pushed in some of his own shifting energy. It probably happened in an instant; for whatever reason, Fen just has the natural knack for it…” I remembered back to that night in the mountains; that whooshing sensation in the pit of my stomach… “It was his shifting energy in you that sorta prodded your inner animal to awareness. So, I just did a variation on a theme.” She smiled and pulled herself up onto the gym.
“Like Fen said,” Geri slipped up the steps, sat down on his haunches and leaned against a rail, “There’s magic at work all around us in this world… But anyway…” Geri said, smiling spitefully, “I guess it wouldn’t be so easy to cannibalize you after all…”
“Geri! You’re bad!” Loki exclaimed, and we all laughed, I couldn’t help it; I laughed like those who must laugh, or be reduced to tears again. These people… they were kind to me, even when they didn’t need to be… and they didn’t want me to disappear…
I relaxed against the cold steel of the playground equipment; sighed and stared up into the shimmering fabric of the sky; the stars and the great white moon seeming nothing more than ornaments on a shawl over the universe… Everything; great, small, depressed, or joyful was a thread in that fabric; and I was too. Even if I was turning into a werewolf…
At first I’d rejected it, and then eventually accepted it… and now… I finally told myself the truth…
I wanted this… more than anyone could know…
I wanted this life… All of it…
I opened my eyes and looked up at the moon; aware of the comforting silhouettes around me; and swore an oath to the great and loving goddess in the sky…
No matter how hard the path, no matter how long it takes; I will never turn from this road I now walk in life… I will stay alive, and keep fighting to survive no matter what…
Fen lifted his face to the moon again; and stared a moment. Then he started to howl, and a strange sensation surged up through me, bringing me off the deck to kneel. Loki and Geri took up the song, and after a moment of thanks to the Devine; I too joined in song. Together our voices connected and rose up through the air and sky; reaching out all the way to touch the moon. Dogs in the neighboring houses all around; joined us in song; their yapping and baying helping disguise the strong wolfen voices rising from the park.