Shana decided to take a moment to reflect on her own stupidity.
So far today, she had managed to survive a fight with a wolf so powerful that his mere presence made the hair on the back of neck curl. This would have been quite an achievement on any day, but considering the sun had only began to rise less than an hour ago, it was pretty damn spectacular. However, what was even more spectacular, was her apparent complete and utter loss of anything resembling an intellect.
The beast was tamed, the night had once more been banished, and she had a really big knife and newly reloaded gun. Quite clearly, there was only one way that this story could have possibly ended.
And yet . . . it hadn't.
Leaning against a wall, she watched the sun continue to climb in the sky. Behind her, in the shadows of yet another abandoned shell of a building, she heard the wolf shuffling around. He had found an old blanket and wiped the majority of the blood from his face and body, but Shana had refused to walk anywhere with him until he found something to wear.
It would be so easy to put an end to this whole farce right now. She could just walk up behind him, and pull the trigger.
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Shana . . .
The sounds of empty cans and bottles being tossed around, as the wolf routed through the junk left behind by the homeless, echoed from out of the dark doorway.
And one day she came across an evil, man-eating werewolf . . .
The wolf finally emerged from inside, wearing a dirty, stained, trench coat.
But being such a kind little girl, instead of killing him like anyone else would have done . . .
He smiled at her. “What do you think?”
She let him live, and took him home with her.
“You look like someone who spent last night lying in their own piss.” She returned his smile with as much malice as she could muster.
The disconcerting grin never left his face, and that dry chuckle that she was beginning to loathe, rolled smoothly from his throat. “Well, at least I don't look like someone who spent last night rending and tearing human flesh. I doubt we would make it very far if I did.”
Clenching her fists so hard that her nails broke the skin of her palms, Shana took a deep breath, and reminded herself that this wolf was the only person . . . scrap that . . . the only thing that had any clue about what was going to happen to her next full moon.
“Why don't you pretend, just for the time being, that you aren't a complete arsehole? Then maybe we can get moving, before I finally realise what a fucking idiotic idea this is and just shoot you.”
The wolf shrugged his shoulders. It was quite a comical sight really, as he currently looked a lot more like a flasher, than a being of unimaginable supernatural power.
“Whatever you say, sweetness.”
Shana glared at him. “Stop calling me that. It's really irritating.”
He held his hands up defensively. “I humbly apologise.” he said with mock-sincerity. “So what would you like me to call you?”
Oh God Shana, how did it come to this? You really must be losing your touch girl.
“Listen, before we go any further let's just get a few things clear.” She grabbed hold of the wolf's arm and jerked him closer to her. It was not the most sensible of things to do, as at this proximity the smell of blood, piss, and general grime was almost unbearable, and she gagged. “You smell so bad.”
“Hey, come on. You're the one who insisted I had to cover up.”
“Anyway, getting back to the point. You are only alive for one reason, and that is because if I am going to change then I need to know absolutely everything that you know. Pretty fucking quickly, too.”
And there it was, in a nutshell. Shana knew more about wolves than any other hunter she had ever met, but this was something that no-one could have known. To think that all those legends about “super wolves” could actually have been routed in reality was mind blowing; and not just that, but the fact that these wolves used to be hunters! She couldn't even begin to imagine how this had remained a secret for so long. Those stories had been passed down for hundreds of years, and to think that not once had anyone been able to research and trace their origins was . . . unbelievable.
Literally . . . unbelievable.
“Who else knows?” she asked suddenly.
The wolf looked amused. “Why, not worried that someone's going to steal your thunder before you get chance to unveil me?”
“Just answer the question!” She pulled her knife from behind her back and spun the wolf to face her in one fluid motion. She pushed the tip of the blade against his stomach, just hard enough to hurt. “No more games. Just answer the question.”
“Oh, but I like playing with you so much sweetness.” His voice was dark and sweet like treacle. “The last hunter I met was no fun at all.”
Interrogating wolves was not something that Shana was particularly adept at, when it meant that she couldn't kill them at the end of the conversation. Forcing information out of one, without causing any fatal wounds, was a tricky concept.
“Fine.” she said, re-sheathing her knife and relaxing her grip on his arm a little. “We can play all you want when I turn into a wolf and eat you, but until then, please just answer my question.”
“Well, seeing as you said please.” The wolf looked her directly in the eye, and tilted his head slightly to the side. “I would have thought that someone with as much strength and skill as you would already in the know, so to speak. I guess that your attitude doesn't sit too well with the upper echelons of hunter society.”
Staring back at him, Shana allowed a smile to quirk the side of her mouth slightly. “No, not really.”
He nodded. “Well, there's your answer in itself. Of course some people have to know, you just aren't one of them.”
“So what, is there some special branch of hunters that tracks down wolves like you?”
Tapping the side of head gently with his forefinger, the wolf smiled. “Think about it. You're a hunter and you came after me, and just look how that turned out. Would you send another hunter knowing the risks?”
Shana narrowed her eyes, reached up, and slowly removed his hand from her face.
“So who do they send?”