Matty Was Missing

Matty was missing.
For someone who was missing, I couldn’t run away from him, even if I wanted to.
We lived in a small town, where everyone knows everyone and everything. So, when Matty went missing, the missing person posts went everywhere the next day, was all the local news talked about.
Everyone had their idea of where he was. That he ran away. That he killed himself. That the serial killer, the Night Wriath, got him. Afterall, he’d killed teenage boys in the counties near us.
I shook my head at each speculation, because Matty was still alive for all we knew.
He had to be alive…
Afterall, there was no evidence to say otherwise. All anyone knew was that Matty’s blue Volkswagen Beatle was found, abandoned, in a mall parking lot. That he hadn’t made any purchases since he’s been missing. That I was the last person to see him.
He was happy then. It had been a full moon, and as we were both Wiccan, we did Full Moon Rituals for happiness and prosperity, and he left my house with his big smile on his face. Yeah, it was late, midnight or so, but he always left late like that.
I held onto the pentacle Matty had given me, it was on a black string, with letter beads that spelled out, “Willow”, my name.
I relied on the white magic behind Wicca. I tried every spell I could think of. I begged my Patron Goddess, Freya, to find him.
But Matty was still missing and it had been a week.
One night I fell to the ground, and I cried out, “If there is anyone out there, good, evil, help me find Matty!”
I cried a long time, and I guess I eventually fell asleep.
When I dreamt, I was in a forest that I’d never been in. I felt ike there was a string attached to me, and someone was pulling me along through the forest, until the pull stopped in a clearing.
When I looked in front of me, I screamed.
Matty was looking at me with lifeless, white eyes, his head on the ground. The rest of his body was in pieces, scattered around me.
I jolted awake, and started to get out of bed to turn a light on, as if that would chase away the nightmare. But, when I did, I saw dirt in my bed, and covering my legs. I jumped onto the floor, and stepped away from the bed, but I wished I stayed in bed.
When I looked down, Matty’s lifeless head was looking up at me, and his body was spread around him. There was a brown book next to him.
I look at Matty again, so I pushed him under my bed. I picked up the book, and saw that the title was, “Spells.”
There was a piece of paper wedged in it like a bookmark, and I turned to that page. The page said, “A Spell of Resurrection.”
There was no way that this was white magic, it couldn’t be.
I saw that the piece of paper read, “You’re Welcome. ~Asmodeous.” A demon. This was black magic.
But Matty wasn’t missing. Matty was dead, and he was under my bed.
Matty was my first love, and we had two amazing years together. I needed Matty.
I had to do the spell. I had to use black magic.
The spell read, “Requirements: needle and thread, chalk, knife, five candles, and one soul.”
But, if it took my soul to bring Matty back, then I would do it.
I looked down at Matty, and I closed his white eyes. I gritted my teeth as I picked up each body part and sewed Matty’s body back together.
I drew a pentagram, along with the required symbols around it. I then placed the candles on each point of the star. I lit the candles, and cut my palm, dripping blood on Matty.
In a shaky voice I read the spell outloud.
After I spoke the words, nothing happened. I sighed. I was feeling numb all over. I was like an empty shell.
Suddenly Matty’s fingers twitched, and then his hands closed and opened, and then his eyes opened, no longer white, but blue and full of life!
He groaned and started to sit up.
“Matty…” I whispered. But, I saw that I was no longer in my body. I was next to my body, but when tried to touch Matty, my hand went through him.
He sat up, and the thread I had sewn him together with faded, and he was completely back to life.
He looked in horror as he saw my lifeless body. He cradled my body in his arms, screaming, “Willow!” Over and over again.
I was screaming, but he couldn’t hear me.
My parents ran in, shocked, and rushed to my now, lifelfess body, being held by the now, full of life Matty.
I screamed, but no one could hear me.
The floor suddenly cracked open, with fire crackling. Matty didn’t seem to see it.
A grey-skinned man with long black hair flew out of the crack on black wings. He tipped a wide brimmed hat. “Nice to meet you.”
“Asmodeous,” I said. “What have you done?”
“Me?” He said and laughed. “That was all you. You asked, and you received.”
“But what’s happened to me?”
“Well, let’s see…” He snapped his fingers and the Spell Book was in his hands. He opened it to the Resurrection Spell page. “Requirements: Needle and thread, blah, blah, blah, and…OH,, and what’s this? A soul.”
“But, doesn’t that happen when I die?”
“It happens when I want your soul, and I want your soul…” He said softly and slowly, but in a furious flap of his wings he was in front of me. His eyes were ablaze with a orange fire and he roared, “NOW!”
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The Pirate Treasure

I was already at the Pirate King at age sixteen. I ruled the seas. I guess I thought that all that I wanted was all the gold, gems, and riches of the world.

But I learned there were some things in this world that were more important than the wide blue ocean.

There were some things more of a treasure than and the gold and gems in treasure chests.

 

There was something more important that bump, ba, bumped in my body.

 

It happened one day. It was the first time I met him that I truly felt alive.

The ship wasn’t headed in any direction. We left it afloat. I lounged in a lifeboat that was tethered to my ship.

I had fallen asleep when I suddenly felt water on my face. I sat up and saw a fin lower in to the water.

It’s some dolphin, I’m sure, I thought.

When suddenly a boy turned to me. He smiled widely. Had had wet tangles of Light brown hair around his face. He was beyond beautiful.

“What are you doing in the water?” I asked. We were in the middle of nowhere, and I didn’t recognize him from my crew.

 

“Swimming,” he said. “What else?” His voice was so goddamn cheerul.

 

“Well, come–” I started to say. I was going to invite him on board.

 

But he leaned back, his hands behind his bed, and he floated on top of the water, and a tail fin rose from the water. I followed the fin all the way up to his waist.

 

2

(The First Meeting)

“There’s no way…” I muttered.

 

“What that mermaids exist?” He said and laughed. “Of course I do.”

 

He grabbed onto my boat, and tipped it over. I cried out as I fell into the sea. “What the hell?”

 

“Get your sea legs, captain,” he said and winked.

 

“I’m no Pirate Captain, merman–” I said in between heavy breathes as I doggy paddled to wade the water.

 

“Well, Captain, I’m not just a merman, my name is Aranis,” he said.

 

“I told you! I’m not a Captain! I am Diarmud the Pirate King!”

 

“Pirate King, huh?” He asked. “Impressive”

 

“Quite so, Aranis.” I managed to climb back into my boat, and I sat in it.

 

“Well, if we’re being technical…my name is  Prince Aranis. I live in the Underwater Realm of Atlantis where I will someday rule as King.”

 

“So, I rule the seas up here,” I said and gestured around. “And you will rule the waters down below?”

 

“Correct,” he said with a grin. “Well, I’ll be off!” And just as quickly as he came, he ducked down into the waters.

 

“Wait!” I cried out. My heart was beating in a manner I’d never known. It felt like my greatest treasure of all was sinking into the seas.

 

“What?” He said as he came back to the surface.

 

I felt relief flood my body as I saw his gentle face, his soft blonde hair, and his chiseled physique. I was starting to fell the effects of what I once thought was a myth, a fiction. But I was thinking that this was love at first sight.

 

“I’ll be back,” he said with a wink, and then he swam down below.

 

“Drop anchor!” I shouted. “The ship stays here!”

 

“Aye, aye captain!” My crew replied.

***

And at the same time the next day, Aranis returned.

 

“Hello,” he said, holding the sides of my boat.

 

“Aranis,” I said. “If I may be so forward: I missed you…”

 

“Even if that is so,” he said. “Nothing can ever come of this, my King.”

 

“As King of these Seas, what I want can happen, Aranis.”

 

He smiled softly, and lifted himself up, and he leaned into my face, kissing me softly. I kissed him back and we never stopped.

***

It was like this for days.

 

3

(The days spent in love)

But soon my crew grew tired of staying in the same place, and we were running low on supplies.

 

“Come with me,” I told Aranis.

 

“But it cannot be?”

 

“I have found a way, my pet,” I said, and I held out my hand to him, “Do you trust me, my treasure?”

 

He gulped down hard as if he could swallow down his anxieties. He took my hand and said, “Yes.”

***

I live on the seas. My crew and I get supplies, and then go back on the water. I send my crew out on fool’s errands, on trips with treasure marks that only sometimes lead to gold.

 

I didn’t care.

 

I walked into my quarters, where the only treasure I needed was there.

 

Aranis swam behind glass. He held his hand out, pressing it to the glass, and I pressed my hand against his. He mouthed, “Help me. Free me.”

 

If he weren’t in water, tears would stream down his face. He was full of the deepest sorrows.

 

But he was my greatest treasure, and as Pirate King? I would never let him free.

Featured image source: (The Pirate’s Treasure)

Revenge: Best Served Under The Full Moon

It’s a funny thing. Dying, I mean.

First there’s the shock, the whole: “Oh no! I’m dead”. (Insert explicative after explicative.)

The next part is when you realize that you’re not in Heaven, or Hell. No, you’re just a spirit, looking down at your dead body that’s lying in the middle of the woods.

That’s when you find out how you died.

How did I die? Oh. I was murdered. You know, a big tragedy. My ex-boyfriend, that asshole Trent, his weird brother, and his best friend, stabbed me to death. So many times, in fact, that I looked like Swiss cheese in that ugly white sweater that I wanted to throw away, but mom insisted I kept it.

And then I died in that ugly sweater.

I remember it clearly. My death, I mean.

Trent did the stabbing. His weird brother had smashed my skull in, and Trent’s best friend? He watched the entire thing. Sure he said “stop” a few times–wide-eyed and mouth agape–but he never stopped them. He never called the cops.

What did I do to deserve this death? Not a thing. Nothing.

The only thing I was guilty of was a terrible taste in men, clearly.

But that’s not the end of my story. No, just the beginning for me.

I looked down at my body, and that’s when I saw something glow. I looked up and saw that the Full Moon–big and yellow–was shining down onto my body.

The next part is kind of a blur, but I was back in my body again. My wounds healed, and I was back to life.

But as soon as I started to get up, I doubled over. I felt like I was dying all over again.

Bones cracking and crunching. I wanted to claw my skin away, it felt like it was rippling over thin and moving muscles. That’s when I looked down and saw paws, claws, and white fur.

I had turned into a wolf.

I felt alive in whole new way. I ran through the woods, wild and free. Eventually I tired out, and fell asleep on the forest floor.

When I woke up I was human again.

At first I wanted to tell someone. I wanted to tell the cops, after all, I was murdered. I did die. But by some miracle under that moon, I came back, stronger and more alive.

How do you explain that anyway? Go to the cops and say, “Yeah, so, um, Trent, his weird brother, and his best friend killed me, but I came back, and now I’m a werewolf.”

“Yeah, okay, crazy person!” They would say–and then shove me into a mental ward for life.

So that was out of the question. But then I thought of a deliciously devious idea. But was it really devious to plot to kill your murderers?

I found the clothes I was murdered in, dressed in them and found my way home, and I acted like nothing happened. Not a thing at all.

“Mara, what happened to your sweater?” My mom asked me as I walked through the front door. Not even a, “Mara, where have you been all night?” or “Mara, are you okay?”

She wasn’t worried about me–she was worried about the sweater.

I pulled the sweater up and over my head. I looked her straight in the eyes as I tossed it into the trash.

A side effect of dying and becoming a werewolf? You grow a pair.

***

I went to school, walked by The Murderous Trio, and flashed the biggest grin at them.

Trent screamed various explicative after explicative, his brother probably peed himself, and his best friend? Cried.

“What’s wrong?” I said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

I went home after that. Another side effect of dying and becoming a werewolf? Apathy for school.

I waited until nightfall, waiting to turn into a wolf, but I never did. I guessed that it was true then what they say, that werewolves turn under the Full Moon.

I guess that’s also how I turned into one in the first place. There may not have been a God or a Heaven, but there sure as Hell was that moon shining over me.

I went to school everyday, just to walk by The Murderous Trio, and everyday I scared them. But they only knew half of my plan.

***

Finally after a month, it was the next Full Moon.

“I know what you did to Mara,” I wrote on a note, and left it in each of their lockers. I also said, “Tonight, go to where IT happened, or I’ll tell the Police.”

 

So, I went to the the woods. The Moon, full and shining, rose up to the sky. My bones cracked, and skin rippled, and I turned into a wolf again.

 

I howled in the distance and ran to the spot that I had died at. Sure enough Trent, his weird brother, and his best friend stood, shaking in their shoes.

I will spare you the gruesome details, but I chased them, and then I attacked them as brutally as they attacked me, and I didn’t stop until they were dead. I pulled them out of the light of the Full Moon, so that they wouldn’t come back from the dead.

They never woke up.

The next day it was all over the news: “Three teenagers attacked by a wild animal.” Along with their innocent faces from their school pictures, and…cue the crying parents! (Really tugs on your heartstrings doesn’t it?)

I laughed while they cried.

After all, would they have cried over them if they were actually convicted of my murder? If they were sentenced for life? If they were sentenced to death?

No one knew what really happened, and no one would ever know that that they had murdered me. No one even knew that I had died.

But that didn’t matter. I didn’t care.

“Such a tragedy,” they said on the news.

Hah. What a joke. It was my triumph. 

Rules Made To Be Broken

Rule #1: You are food, nothing more.

Rule #2: Remember: you are the prey, they are the predators.

Rule #3: No fraternizing, friendship, or romance.

Rule #4: You live nocturnally now.

Rule #5: Species may not be changed. You will stay human.

Rule #6: If you break any of these rules, you’re dead.

Rule #7: If your Master breaks any rules, they’re dead.

***

I was born a Blood Slave. My parents were Blood Slaves, and they passed it onto me. When I was twelve I was sent to live with one of Them, who was to be my Master. 

His name was Xavier. He was a vampire, and I was to be his Blood Slave for the rest of my life.

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(Xavier)

I didn’t think sticking to the rules would be so difficult.

A year after I was given to Xavier, I started to notice how silky his long black hair was and how soft his lips felt on my neck. I also started to take pleasure in his drinking of my blood. 

But, rules are rules, and besides, I wasn’t into other guys, I couldn’t be.

Blood Slaves were supposed to find another Blood Slave of the opposite sex, so that we could make babies that would become Blood Slaves when they came of age. 

Besides the rules, my love was surely unrequited. I mean, I’d seen him entertain beautiful Noble girls, and even kiss some of them. Afterall, I was just a Blood Slave boy with dull brown hair, brown eyes, and rags for clothes. 

Each day it got harder and harder, and now, at sixteen, it was nearly impossible. I couldn’t take living this painful existence any longer, and so I ended it prematurely. 

I slit my wrists with a knife, and watched the blood drip down my arms and onto the hardwood floor like a splatter of paint on a canvas.  I soon grew too weak to stand, and fell to the ground.

I could hear Xavier’s sweet voice shout, “Lucas!” 

Through blurred vision, I saw him come to my side and embrace me in his arms. If I was going to die, to die in his arms was going to be a heavenly way to die.

The world fell to black, and I fell out of this world, and into the next.

Or so I thought.

I jolted awake, opening my eyes and sitting up. Xavier was still holding me. 

“What happened?” I asked.

“I saved you from certain death,” Xavier said in his velvety soft voice. 

“What do you mean?”

“You were going to die, but I gave you another life,” he said. “An immortal life.”

No, it couldn’t be!  “Are you saying that I’m a…” 

“Vampire.”

“But that means…”

“Does it matter?” He asked. “We were going to break the rules anyway.” 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said and looked away from him.

“Lucas,” he said softly and cupped my face in his hand, angling my face to look at him. “I know your feelings towards me.”

“I don’t–“

“I feel the same way,” he said. “Maybe it was selfish, but that is why I saved you.”

I didn’t know what to say. I spent four years wanting to hear those words, but now that they came I had a hard time feeling happy. All I could think about is how we broke all the rules.

“I love you, Xavier,” I whispered.

“As do I.”

“But this can’t be, we can’t be…I can’t be…” I muttered, and my vision was blurring from a curtain of tears. “They’ll kill us.”

“Not if we can’t catch us,” he said, and he pulled my face towards his. “Run away with me, and we can live together, forever.”

“Yes,” I said. “I’ll follow you through Hell if I have to in order to get to Heaven with you.”

“Being by your side has been like heaven for me,” he said before pressing his lips to mine.

As I kissed him I was maddened by the thirst of blood. My fangs slid out of my gums, and I bit his lips. His blood filled my mouth, and it tasted like copper pennies and raw honey.

“What’s going on here?” A voice asked from behind us.

I pulled away from Xavier in horror, to see his Mother standing in the doorway.

“Fraternizing with your Slave, an a boy none the less?” Mavis snapped, and approached us. Her eyes were on my fangs.

“You have broken every rule, you fool,” she yelled and struck Xavier across the face. He fell to the ground.

“Rules are made to be broken,” he shouted.

“You are no longer my son. There is only one option,” she said with a blank expression. Her nails elongated into claws and she stepped towards us.

Xavier lunged at her with his own set of claws, but she was faster. Her claws sunk into his chest, surely piercing his heart.

“Lucas, live on without me…” He whispered as his body fell, lifeless, to the floor.

I roared, sounding more animal than human, and my nails turned into claws. I lunged at Mavis with my claws, and I dug them into her chest, pulling out her heart, and tossing it to the ground like a piece of trash.

I kissed Xavier’s cold, dead lips and left the room to raid the mansion for valuables. I came back for Xavier’s body and carried him in my arms.

For Xavier I would live, but I would spend eternity to find a way to bring him back to life.

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(Lucas)  

Author’s Note: This is the first of many stories about Lucas and Xavier.

(Featured image source)

She Slept in Fire: A Dagger Story

Here’s a short story based off of my novel, Dagger.

She Slept in Fire

She looked like she was sleeping. In fact I thought that was the case, until after several times she never woke up. That and she didn’t have a pulse.

I’d never seen a dead body. It was surreal. But as much as it made me uncomfortable, I couldn’t move.

The syringe stuck out of her arm like an unwelcome reminder of what happened. I just stared at the syringe until my brother yelled my name, “Dagger!”

I didn’t even register he was yelling my name until he walked over to me and started to shake me.

It was then that I realized I had been standing there for an hour.

“Dag, she overdosed,” Coal said, as if I didn’t know. But part of me didn’t want to know. Part of me wanted to think she was asleep.

Coal, always trying to keep it together, hugged me against him. Ever the protective brother.

“We gotta get out of here,” he said. “If they find us, alone like this, they’ll send us to foster care. I’m not doing it.”

He gathered up mom’s jewelry and a big fat stack of cash that was in her purse and put it in a walmart bag.

“Grab anything from your room that you want,” he said.

I grabbed my backpack and a few things and put the backpack on.

When I went into the room he had picked up a lighter from the nightstand, that was cozy next to an ash tray, and had it held it above mom.

“What are you doing?” I asked, my heart racing.

“Get out,” he said, his brows furrowed and I felt determination emanating from him.

“No,” I said and tried to get the lighter from his grasp.

“Get. Out.”

“You’re scaring me.”

“You should be,” he said. “Leave. I don’t want you to see this.”

But I wouldn’t move.

Everything after that was a blur. I don’t even remember him flicking the lighter, I just remember fire. First a small fire on the sheets, and then it spread like blood splattering.

And then my hand was in Coal’s and he pulled me out of the room and we ran down the stairs. The apartment was quiet, no one knew what was happening in our apartment right now.

Mom was sleeping in the fire.

Author’s Notes: So this is the messed up backstory behind my characters Dagger and Coal. In this story Dagger is 14 and Coal is 16. Why Coal did this will be explored in another short story. For now I will leave that as a mystery.

For the record NO Coal did not kill his mom, even though it might look that way? I guess we’ll see what people think!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it!

Image by: SimpleInsomnia

 

 

The Wolf Girl

 

The Wolf Girl: A Short Story by Lore Scarlet

I knew I could die at any moment, but that was okay.

 

It was just that morning that my pack–my family–was killed by vampires. I was the only survivor.

 

In this world filled with blood-sucking Monsters, we called ourselves Wolves, but we were merely human.

 

We traveled during the day, when the monsters were asleep. And at night, we slept while someone kept watch.

 

I thought we were careful, but apparently not careful enough. We all heard the watcher’s screams of “Vampires!” It was too late. His screams were silenced as his throat was torn apart.

 

I ran, but they were faster—they moved inhumanly fast. They caught me, and I was face to face with them. I had expected them to be hideous, misshapen monstrous things.

 

They were monsters, but they didn’t look any different from us, except for the fangs in their mouths, and the blood smeared on their faces.

 

Now I was bound by chains to several girls around my age, sixteen. We were all washed and given formal gowns to dress in. Mine was a tight white satin dress. Great, I was going to die in a dress.

 

 

We were in front of the Vampire King, his queen, the two Vampire Princes, and one of the Vampire Princes Princess.

 

“Alastair,” the Vampire King said and the Prince with the shorter black hair stood up. “Adrian,” and the other Prince with the longer hair stood up.

 

They all walked towards us.

 

Adrian sighed and he looked at each of us with a bored expression, but when he looked at me his eyes opened wide.

 

“Lissa?” he asked and he stepped towards me.

 

“No.”

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Lupita.”

 

 In a flash he was suddenly standing inches from me. “I want her. The rest can go.”

 

“Are you sure?” the Vampire King asked.

 

“I want her,” he repeated.

 

A servant undid my chains, but Adrian held my wrist, tight like the chains were.

 

***

 

I had seen beauty in sunrises and sunsets, in the moon, or in the changing colors of leaves. But the room Adrian took me to was exquisite.

 

The floors and walls were black, and water cascaded down the walls like waterfalls.

 

He let go of my wrist and I stepped into the middle of the room, in awe. There was a massive bed with four posters and a red satin curtain hanging above it.

 

I’d never seen a real bed before. I slept on the dirt like an animal all of my life.

 

But the real beauty was beyond the furnishings–it was on canvases that littered the ground as it they were trash. More canvases were on stands.

 

There were images painted on them of nature: rivers, the moon, the stars, all of the night sky. But when I saw the other canvases I shuddered and stepped back. They were of me…?

 

“How?” I asked, my voice cracking.

 

“Don’t be frightened,” Adrian said. “I was in love. Just a year ago. With a human girl, who looked strikingly similar to you.”

 

“What happened to her?”

 

“She died.” He touched his masquerade mask. “I barely escaped death.”

 

I wasn’t sure I had escaped death. “What are you going to do to me?”

 

“Nothing. I only want your company, if you’ll take it.”

 

“I hate vampires. That’s not going to change.”

 

Before he left he said, “I’d like to change your mind.”

 

***

Each day I tried to escape, to no avail.

 

Every night, Adrian came and gave me paintings of the moon and some of me, “not Lissa,” according to him.

 

He never hurt me.

 

“I like the paintings with the moon,” I told him one night. After that all he gave me were beautiful paintings of the moon.

 

Another night he turned to leave, but I walked over to him. I stroked the metal of his mask. He brought his hand up to the back of his head, and the mask fall down.

 

Half of his face was scarred. The right side of his lip curved down awkwardly, and his eye was misshapen. But somehow the scars made up something beautiful in him.

 

I stepped backwards. No. There was nothing beautiful in them. They were monsters. My mind flashed back to them decimating my pack.

 

“Do I frighten you?” He frowned, and his eyes glittered like the water that dripped along the walls.

 

“No, that’s not it,” I said. I couldn’t believe that I was comforting a monster.

 

He left, looking as unsure as I was.

 

The next night, I touched his mask again. “You don’t have to wear this around me.”

 

His eyes were bright and he smiled before he left.

 

One night I asked him to stay with me.

 

He sat next to me, but not too closely—like a perfect gentlemen.

 

“Do you know how I got here?” I asked.

 

“I do not,” he said. “They bring us humans to drink from. That’s all I know.”

 

“You haven’t drunk from me.”

 

“Because you’re more special than that,” he said.

 

“Vampires came and they killed my pack,” I whispered. “It was a massacre.”

 

“No!” He grabbed my hand, and I let him. His skin was cold as ice. “That can’t be true.”

 

“It is.”

 

“I am nothing like the others, Lupita,” he said. “We don’t have to live like this, you know.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Do you miss being outside of this castle?”

 

I nodded and I looked him right in his bright red eyes. “I’d rather be free in the woods than be stuck here.”

 

“Run away with me,” he said. “We can be together, forever.”

 

“You mean…?”

 

“Only if you want. But you will be stronger, faster. We can live by the moonlight in the woods.”

 

“Like wolves,” I added. I always thought my pack and I were the wolves, but we were sheep. If I was going to survive in this world, I had to become the wolf.

 

“Okay,” I told him.

 

His nails extended into sharp claws and he slit his claw against my wrist. He drank the life from me until everything went black.

 

When I woke up, I was in his arms, as he ran through the woods, under the Full Moon.

(Image by Jez Kabanov)