When I woke up, the sun was down but the moon wasn’t up. Then I remembered it was new moon. We weren’t locked as wolves until sunrise as we were all other nights.
I stood up and stretched. I threw my head back and howled. Instantly, a rally of responding howls filled the air. I was flooded by telepathic questions.
Where have you been?! shouted Spike and Rollin.
I overreacted, Ingrid, I’m sorry, Zev apologised.
The entire pack – bar David, Nate, Gryph and Chase – burst from the trees. Their mental voices bombarded my mind until I couldn’t hear anyone. I arched my back and growled. When nobody took notice, I snarled aggressively. Everyone finally shut up. They all lowered their heads and half-tucked their tails between their legs. They all had their body’s low to the ground. They were submitting, treating me as Alpha.
Just shut up, I said. Right, who’s hungry?
Several barked and padded at the ground. I made a sound like a laugh and led the howl. We were happy together, especially when we were going hunting. We ran together, in a subconscious formation.
We didn’t find anything for two hours. We caught trails of rabbits, weasels, squirrels, but nothing substantial enough for the pack. We couldn’t all live off starving pine martens. The herd of deer we’d come across the previous night must have moved off, they were long gone.
I’ve got an idea, I said. Well, seeing as it’s new moon, why don’t we change and go out for a Chinese or something?
Real wolves can’t go out for a Chinese, said Nephi.
Well, isn’t it a good job we’re not real wolves? I asked, slightly patronisingly.
Nephi growled at me and arched his back. I lowered my body and moved around him. He launched himself at me, digging his claws into my browny-red fur. I yelped and snarled. Nephi’s force had knocked us both over. We’d rolled a metre or two. I felt blood seeping through my fur. I jumped up and grabbed Nephi’s throat in my teeth.
I shook violently from side to side. Someone grabbed the back of my neck and dragged me off Nephi. I writhed and threw myself around to try and get free. It didn’t work; his grip was iron.
I tried to reach back and bite him. I couldn’t reach so I relaxed a bit. My muscles were tense but I stopped thrashing. The pack were watching me with wide eyes. Only Spike wasn’t with them; he was the one dragging me. He let go of my skin. I stood up and looked around. Everyone shifted uncomfortably under my gaze. I gave a low bark, a bit like a sigh. I twirled around and sprinted away.
The forest flew past me. The rakes Nephi’s claws had left in my sides were still bleeding. I started to slow down as I lost more and more blood. It dripped steadily to the ground. Eventually I had to stop running and walk. It was getting harder to breathe.
The smells were getting more and more familiar. I was nearing home. I followed my own trail from that morning, to where my bag still sat. I trotted over to it. I reached out with my mind but no one was around. I looked towards my house. A light was on and someone was standing in the window, looking out. I froze.
The person was looking right at me. Someone else joined the first figure. Together they turned away. I picked my bag up and headed back into the forest. I changed and pulled on the spare outfit I kept in my bag with my school uniform and books. It wasn’t much, just jeans and a black T-shirt, with shoes obviously and unfortunately . I picked my bag up and carefully put it over my shoulder.
I walked to my house. Or limped, rather. My sides were still bleeding. I opened the door for the first time in a while; at night I used the pet door.
I went into the living room. Sat on the couch was a very unexpected surprise: Uncle Jasper and Aunt Stella.