One word: Werewolves.
I attended my aunt’s funeral last Tuesday. I find her death odd, as do others, but the final report concluded it as an animal attack. I mean, it’s not too much of a stretch considering that we live in Colorado, but the manner in which it happened is still strange. She was killed outside of her house, on the front porch of her trailer. A wolf, mountain lion, or any other kind of wild animal wouldn’t normally come so close to civilization, even if she did live on the outskirts. Plus, said “animal” didn’t do anything with the body; just killed her and left.
What is even weirder is that she’s not the only one. There have been three other deaths all ruled as animal attacks. One was in Spruce Woods outside of town, one was in an alley inside Eastcliff, and one in an abandoned neighborhood, where a homeless man was killed. If it was only one or two attacks that happened inside of town, it would have been odd, but nothing to get suspicious over. I would have assumed it was just a fluke. But three? And a fourth outside of town? I’m not so sure what’s happening is animal attacks.
I tried to rationalize it by telling myself that the wolf population is at an unusual high, but it's hard, especially because of the time that they are happening;. Every month for the past four months, for only one day: the full moon. At first I thought nothing of it, but now? Once or twice is a coincidence, but four? That's a pattern.
Of course, this was strange and mysterious to me, but my first thought wasn’t, Werewolves are real! I’d have to be crazy to just immediately hop aboard that train. No, I tried to rationalize it, telling myself that if werewolves were real, what makes me so special that I would be the one to find out? If they were real, wouldn’t someone have found proof a long time ago? Why would I get to witness something so magical and mysterious and horrifying?
But another thought kept persisting as well. Isn’t that what everyone thinks before something crazy happens to them?
Even at that point, I didn’t really believe it, or even bother trying to find out for sure. I pushed it out of my mind and continued on, figuring it’d all work out itself out soon enough. However, even though I was done thinking about the werewolf thing, it wasn’t done with me.
I was on my way home with one of my close friends, Parker, when I passed by an alley. He had gotten ahead of me, so I was by myself for the moment. A man darted toward me, as silent and graceful as a panther, and ripped me from my wheelchair. It was like he was waiting for me. I screamed out for Parker. With the position I was in all I got was a glimpse of glowing red eyes and sharp, pointed teeth. He had my arm quite close to his teeth, so I think he might have been trying to bite me.
Luckily, Parker heard me and came sprinting back. He pulled out the pocket knife that he always carries with him and threw it at the man, hitting him in the shoulder. It was by complete luck that the knife turned out to be a silver one, and that Parker even hit him at all. He’d never thrown a knife in his life, nor did he have any idea how to do it, especially with a pocket knife, but it somehow worked.
I yanked the knife from the man’s bleeding shoulder and tried to stab him with it while I had the chance, but he swiftly backed up, then ran off. Parker thought he probably saw us with the knife, assumed we were actually prepared to fight him, and left since I wasn’t alone. If he’s right on that, I’m just glad the man thought so because neither of us were prepared at all.
Sadly, when he let go of me, my legs collapsed uselessly underneath me and I fell onto the ground. It didn’t feel very good, and I just barely caught myself with my arm before I could crack my head open on the concrete. Parker checked me over for bruises, which I could understand, but it still annoyed me so I swatted him away. That was one of the few moments I’ve seen him be serious. After fussing over my scraped-up legs, he helped me back into my wheelchair, which is something I’ve had to get used to since I was paralyzed.
I was seven years old when it happened, riding in a car on my way to school that morning. My identical twin sister, Logan, was supposed to be with me, but by chance she happened to be sick and stayed home. My mother was the driver, and as she pulled away from a stoplight, another driver’s brakes went out and they rammed into the side of our vehicle. During the mess, a piece of metal ended up severing my spine and . . . that was it. Paralyzed for life.
I still remember how it felt to walk and run, how my legs would grow stiff if I stood still for too long, or how they would be sore the next day if I did too much one day. I long to be able to any of those things just one more time, though I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never get to walk again. It’s been nearly ten years and I made no progress in physical therapy when I was still going, so by this point I’ve given up. It still bothers me from time to time, but for the most part I’ve gotten used to it. What really hurt was that I’d never get to be a police officer like my father. Even before he died, I admired what he did and wanted to be just like him. After his death, it just made me want it more, but it’s never going to happen.
Oddly enough, he died in a car wreck, just like the one I was in. I was nine at the time, but I remember being told what happened when I reached the hospital. Debris pierced his heart and that was it for him.
There’s a reason I don’t like road trips.
I wasn’t sure what to do after the incident in the alley, nor did I know what to think, but Logan seems to be taking care of that. Tonight is the night of a full moon, so what do we decide to do? We idiots decide it’s the perfect time to go on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods. I tried to talk Logan and the rest of my friends out of it, but since they refused to be deterred, I decide it’s better for me to go along. If the werewolf thing isn’t over yet, this will be the night that something happens. Seriously, though: couldn’t they have chosen anywhere else to go besides a cabin in the woods?
When I told Logan about what happened in the alley, she acted really strange about it. Kind of nervous, almost, but I didn’t think anything of it. We are very close, and never keep anything from each other. She probably just thought I was being an idiot, and I would, too, if I was her.
Logan and I, along with my three best friends, two of her friends, and her boyfriend, Luke, pack into two cars, and we make it to the cabin within an hour, since it’s not too far away.
It doesn’t surprise me that our mom doesn’t mind us going on this little excursion of ours. She keeps busy with her nursing job at the hospital, and when it comes to what Logan and I do outside the house, she’s pretty laid-back. Not because she’s a bad parent, but because she trusts us enough not to do anything stupid, unless we prove otherwise. So far we haven’t, and with us being almost seventeen years old, we’re doing well. At least I like to think so.
Parker and Elijah, my boyfriend, both get out of the backseat of the car when we arrive. Parker grabs my wheelchair from the trunk and helps me into it.
“What do you think about him?” Parker asks, pointing at the other car twenty feet away.
“Yeah. You know I’ve never liked him, but he seems different now. Distant. Like his body’s here, but he isn’t.” We watch as he offers to help Logan with her bags. I haven’t been paying much attention to him, but to me it seems like Logan is more distant than he is. We haven’t been talking nearly as much as we used to, especially this past week, and I can tell she’s been losing sleep. I just don’t know why.
“I don’t know,” I say. “Maybe a little. What do you think about Logan?”
“What about her?” His honey-colored hair falls into his eyes and I resist the urge to fix it for him. He’s gotten quite attractive over the years, and he looks older than seventeen. He’s also gotten a lot more muscular since he joined high school football. I forget these things since I’ve always looked at him as a brother, and he’s always acted like one. Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s surprising Diana, the girl he’s liked for a long time, doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. Personally, I’m glad that she doesn’t. Not because I don’t want Parker to be happy, but because they seem like a terrible match. She’s too . . vain. She’s still plenty nice, but she can be kind of wrapped up with how she looks and how others perceive her.
“Does she seem weird to you?” I ask, fiddling with my bracelet. “She’s been really quiet here lately, and only talks when she has to. Like she’s avoiding me or something.”
“Now that you mention it, she has been acting a little strange. And–” he stops, staring over to where Logan, Luke, and Diana are unloading their bags by the other vehicle, frowning . “That was weird.”
“What was weird?”
“Logan, she–she–” He stops to gather his thoughts before starting again. “Luke was getting her bags for and she yanked one of them away, real defensive-like. Probably nothing, but it seemed like she didn’t want anyone near that bag.”
I look over to where they’re getting their bags, watching Logan. “So you think she has something in that bag?”
“Maybe.” Parker shrugs.
I think about Logan’s weird behavior and make a decision I probably would have done anyway, since I’m a nosy little jerk.
“I’m gonna check it when she’s not looking.”
“What are you going to do?” Elijah asks, popping up with bags in his hands.
“Nothing,” I say. “Will you put my bag on my lap?” He does so, then goes back to get his own bag.
The cabin, made out of worn, stubborn logs, looks huge from my vantage point. It belongs to one of Luke’s relatives who’s allowing us to stay for the weekend, which means I can thank Luke for this terrible idea.
I roll over to it once it looks like everyone has their belongings, peering around my bag so I can see. The gravel crunches underneath my wheels, a sound that I, for some reason, enjoy hearing. Luke sets his own bags down to unlock the front door: a large, grand wooden door that looks like it must’ve been hand-crafted.
I pick out a room for myself, and throw my bag onto the bed. I search for Logan, and wheel into her room upon finding her. I hoped to see what what’s in that one bag of hers, but she doesn’t touch it.
“Luke better keep himself in his room,” I say.
Logan laughs a real laugh, and puts her clothes down on the bed.
“Is everything alright with you?” I ask, rushing to the point. “You’ve seemed kind of distant lately. Is something going on that I don’t know about?”
She turns around to face me, brushing her long blonde hair from her face. The same blue eyes I see in the mirror every day meet mine, but only for a second before she looks back to the ground again.
“No, everything’s fine. I’ve just been keeping busy here lately and haven’t had much time to talk to you.”
She fiddles with her hands and her knee shakes as her feet goes up and down on the floor, both nervous gestures. She won’t make eye contact with me either. She’s lying to me.
“That’s a bunch of nonsense, Logan. I’ve lived with you for over sixteen years. I think I know you better than anyone, and I definitely know when you’re lying.”
“Just leave it alone,” she says, her voice wavering slightly as she gets up and turns her back to me once more.
“Fine. I won’t push, but I seriously think you should tell me about whatever it is. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a pretty smart person and I know how to solve problems. So I can help.”
It’s silent as I continue to stare at her and she continues to ignore me. I give up on getting information out of her and leave to go into the den where everyone but Logan and Luke have gathered. Most of them sit on the array of couches, huddled up next to the fireplace. There is a cold sort of feeling to this place, like being in a cellar during the winter.
“Hey, Jules, come here,” Sarah says from one of the couches. Sarah is another one of my best friends, and we’ve basically been inseparable since she moved here in second grade. She leans and whispers in my ear when I get close, her long, wavy hair tickling me as she does so. “I overheard Luke talking on the phone. He was saying some really weird things. It was . . . kind of suspicious. Actually, really suspicious.”
“He . .” Her eyes go up and her expression freezes. “I’ll tell you when we’re alone. He’s coming.” I sigh and lean back in my wheelchair, wondering who I should be worried about more: Logan or Luke.
Luke comes in and sits next to Parker on the couch opposite us, and props his feet on the coffee table between the two couches. I can see Parker tense up. They’ve never liked each other, and they’ve had their fair share of fights. I think if they chose to fight anytime soon, Parker would win, but I could be wrong. Hopefully, no one ends up fighting at all either way.
Things go relatively smooth after Logan comes out. Since we didn't leave until six, it's already dark out, so we decide to stay inside, away from the cold November air. We talk, play games, listen to music: all things I don't expect to have fun doing, but do anyway. I didn't think I would have fun with Logan's friends, but when they're nice and funny, and my goofy friends are here, too, it's hard not to.
What brings me back to reality is Logan. I keep an eye on her the whole time, and, as I've noticed for a while now, she acts distant, like there's something on her mind restricting her from fully being here. I can't have fun when she's not having fun. Something's wrong, and I need to find out what. But right now might not be a good time, so I’ll have to wait.
I’ve been wanting to spend some time with Elijah alone since we got here, so when he goes into the kitchen to find food, I join him. A lot of the time we’ve spent together the last month has consisted of us being together with Sarah and Parker, so it’s nice to just be with each other sometimes.
We started dating a little over a year ago, back when I was fifteen and a sophomore. Now I’m sixteen and a junior, soon to be seventeen, and I’ve already fallen in love with him. Things went pretty fast with us, but, when I’m with him, I’m not sure time even exists in the first place. Didn’t humans make it up?
I think what made me like him in the first place was simply that he liked me. I was handicapped and couldn’t walk and he was a completely normal teenager who liked me. Well, normal besides his mismatched eyes; One is green, the other is blue. I find them absolutely beautiful, but not everyone does. Dating him has been a really humbling experience. I’ve always been pretty stubborn about not wanting help since the accident, and, even after so much time, I was pretty bad about it last year. I’ve learned to accept help now, though I still like to do anything I can on my own. I think Elijah’s stubbornness countered mine, which helped me a lot when I was refusing help.
With Elijah, I had to get used to someone just picking me up and carrying me when there were stairs or someplace I couldn’t get to. I don’t think he ever realized how angry that made me at first, but now I’m actually grateful that he does that. I had a real problem about never wanting to ask for help, especially from strangers, even if I needed it. I was always angry with myself for being so helpless. Now I can ask for help without feeling ashamed, and be grateful when someone does help. That’s a blessing, because, as far as I know, I have many years ahead of me, and I can’t always do everything I want on my own. Elijah has helped me a lot more than he knows, especially with my confidence.
“Elijah,” I say. “Have you found anything about Kai?” Kai is Elijah’s older brother, who left as soon as he turned eighteen and graduated high school. But for some reason, a few months ago he stopped calling Elijah completely and lost all contact with his family, and no one can figure out where he is.
Elijah has kept calling him and looking for him, but so far he’s had no luck. I’ve never met Kai, though I’d like to, but I know Elijah is very worried about him, so I’m worried about him, too. Things have been different in their family since their mom passed a few years ago, but I know that even when Kai was gone for long periods of time, he always called to check on Elijah and Milton, their five year old brother, to make sure they were all right. He hasn’t done that in four months.
“Actually, yes,” Elijah says, closing the fridge to talk to me. “He left a message on my phone.”
“What? What did he say? Is he all right?”
“All he said was that he was sorry and he would be back soon, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I should’ve been there to pick up the phone when he called. Now he won’t answer again.”
“Oh, come on. That’s not your fault,” I say, taking his hand. “ And it sounds like he’s coming home soon. Maybe he’ll stay for a while.”
“I doubt it. This isn’t his home anymore.” He mutters something under his breath, and from I hear it sounds like, “Mine either.” I take a good look at him.
“What did you say?” He doesn’t respond, so I ask a different question. “Why isn’t this his home anymore?”
“Never mind,” he says, shaking his head like he never meant to say anything. My expression must have portrayed my worry because he leans down and kisses me, our hands still locked together. “Seriously. It’s fine.”
“Are you sure?” I ask. I don’t want to harass him, but if something’s wrong, then I want to know.
“Yeah. Everything’s good.” He smiles, his eyes crinkling at the corners at the same time that his teeth come to light. As beautiful as he is, his smile doesn’t seem to be reaching his eyes. He’s really worried about it, or maybe something else, even after Kai has let him know he is okay.
“I’m not trying to bug you to death, but are you positive there’s not something else you’re worried about?” I unknowingly rub my thumb in a circular motion on the back of his hand, probably subconsciously wanting to comfort him.
“I’m a little worried about how Milton’s doing while he’s home alone with Dad, but that’s all.” He lifts my arm up and kisses the back of my hand. “C’mon, let’s go before they get all suspicious.”
I roll myself back into the den with him. I’m still worried about him, but I try to push it away. The main concern I need to focus on right now is Logan. I need to know what’s in that bag.
As we enter the room, I notice that she’s cuddled up with Luke on the couch, her arms wrapped around his waist and her head resting on his shoulder, watching the television above the fireplace. Now could be a good time to search through her bag, since she’s distracted.
Parker is the closest to me now, so I lean over and whisper in his ear. “I’m going to go check out Logan’s back. Will you come with me? Let me know if she’s coming?”
“Yeah,” he says, nodding. He follows me out as I wheel down the hall and into her room.
“Hey,” I say, stopping to talk to him quietly outside of her room. “Have you been to Elijah’s house?”
“Yeah. Haven’t you?”
“Yeah, plenty, what I meant to ask was have you met his dad? I’ve met Milton a million times, but never his dad. Have you?”
“No, I haven’t. Why? Is something wrong?”
“Just something he said earlier.” I’m a little worried about how Milton is right now, home alone with Dad, but that’s all. What did he mean by that? He’s been to my house so many times my mom has begun to think of him as a son, yet I’ve never even met his dad, even after dating for so long. Plus, the deal with Kai: he left his father’s house as soon as he got the chance. On top of everything else, Elijah is almost always taking care of Milton outside of school. Something feels off about all of this, but I can’t put my finger on it.
As much as I want to figure out what is happening with him, I need to focus on the matter at hand. I wheel into Logan’s room while Parker stands by the door, keeping watch to ensure that no one’s coming.
The bag is not on the bed anymore. As I look around the room, I begin to think she might have shoved it under the bed, where it’ll be hard for me to get to it, when I see it on the floor on the far side of the bed. I pick it up and am about to open it when Parker comes barging in.
“Take it to your room.”
“She went into the bathroom down the hall, and she might come in here next,” he explains. “Take it to your room, check it out, then, when she’s gone, put it back.” I see many flaws in this plan. What if she’s specifically looking for something in this bag and it’s gone when she gets in here? I ignore that thought and set the bag on my lap anyway, wheeling into my room down the hall. Hopefully, I’ll be fast and she won’t ever know that I took her bag. I guess it depends on what I find.
I shut the door behind me and Parker’s footsteps drift back into the den where he won’t be loitering around looking suspicious. While throwing the bag on the bed, I unzip it quickly, feeling as if I have a limited amount of time.
My hands fumble through her things, wondering what it could possibly be that she feels the need to hide from everyone else.
Clothes. Clothes. More clothes. A hairbrush. I begin to think that there’s nothing in here, that Logan was acting weird for no apparent reason, when I feel something cold touch my hand. Metal.
What the hell is that?
My fingers wrap around the cold item and I pull it out, clothes falling from around it. I feel as if my entire world stops rotating as my eyes fall upon what’s resting in my hand. A gun. A weighted, black gun.