Rain and Musk
The rain outside poured down and dimmed all other smells with nature’s musk. The pack sat inside the warehouse that was decked out with furniture and everything else needed to live there. The pack master sat at a table playing poker with some of the other wolves. Vittani, his sworn mate, watched the younger wolves as they played amongst themselves. Kadessa, one of the few teen wolves that would soon be old enough to hunt with the pack, sat in a corner and shifted uneasily. Ian, the son of the pack master, walked over to her and sat down.
“What’s wrong with you tonight?” he asked. “We join the pack as hunters in three days. You should be a little more excited than this.”
Kadessa shrugged. “Maybe I don’t want to hunt with the pack. Maybe this is not who I am, Ian.”
“You’re a wolf. That’s exactly who you are. You can’t change that. You’re going to be the sworn mate of the next pack master, me. You can’t run from this. It’s in your blood, you feel it every full moon like all of us. The magic courses through your veins.” Ian reached up and brushed back a strand of auburn hair that had found its way to her face.
Kadessa looked up at Ian and stared into his intense amber eyes. They glimmered and shifted between the eyes of a human and the eyes of a wolf. Then Kadessa froze. She tilted her head to the side and breathed the air in deep. Smells reached her nose, picked up by her heightened wolf senses. There were strangers outside. And guns.
“Ian, we have to shift, we have to get out of here!” she hissed in his ear. “Tell me you smell it too.”
“I smell it.” He said. “There’s too many to fight, we’d never win.”
Ian jumped up silently from where he perched beside Kadessa and went to his father. He spoke urgently to him, and then the pack master stood up and went to the door. He stood there for a moment, sniffing the air. Vittani came over and smelled the air as well. A look of relief came across their faces as they recognized one of the scents wafting through the cracks. The pack master went back to the table and dismissed his son, going back to his game. Ian paced the floor for a few moments and then walked over to Kadessa.
“I’m going to shift. Father says that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, but I don’t feel that way, and neither do you.”
“Be careful, Ian. The pack needs you.” Kadessa whispered.
“And I need you, Kadessa. Stay safe. Do what you do best, though I don’t see how you can lay so still and silent like that.” He chuckled and kissed her on the forehead.
Kadessa laid down on the mat and closed her eyes. It had always been so easy to feign sleep, even when she was a child. Now, she felt deep inside her that to do this was no longer a game; it was an act of survival. Something was wrong tonight, she could feel it, and so could Ian. She watched through almost closed eyes as Ian crossed the room to the door. At the door he stopped and looked back at his father. Then, in one fluid movement, he shifted. There he stood now, a slate black wolf with glistening eyes. For their age, he was massive. At 16, Ian was by far the largest of all the soon-to-be hunters. Kadessa, though significantly smaller than Ian and the others, was by far the strongest of all the wolves who would become hunters in three days. Only Ian’s strength could surpass her own.
Ian turned and nudged open the door and padded out into the cold November rain. The sun had gone down scarcely an hour ago, and yet it was dark outside. The only light to be seen was that of the half moon. Ian stepped out further from the door and sniffed the air. They were close. Then he heard the trigger click, but it was too late. The shot rang out and Ian howled as the bullet hit him. With blood dripping from his black fur to soak the ground, he ran for the shelter of the woods. He could smell the men moving all around them, but he was helpless and could do nothing for his pack. As he reached the massive oaks that marked the inner core of the forest, he collapsed. As he slowly closed his eyes he was unsure if it was death or unconsciousness that claimed him, but it didn’t matter. He had no strength left to fight. He had no hope. For him, it was over.