I stood next to my siblings in the crowd, looking up at my father ans his line of females, four on either side, his newest addition on his arm. Talking to him had only made this horrid night worse. I was a loner. I hated showing submission to a wolf that in truth had no control over me. I despised my father.
"Welcome, my friends, to the Harvest Hunt!" His voice demanded silence with out actually saying it. The wolves grew silent beneath him, all eyes on his lithe form, awaiting his order. "We have a great hunt lined up. Three of the strongest, fastest and smartest humans we could find. One is at the river. Another in the Oak Grove. And the third is waiting at the falls." He smiled, his incisors viciously sharp, an evil glint in his eyes. "Let the Hunt begin!" He howled, his body exploding into that of a great, black wolf.
The pack exploded into a frenzy of fur and teeth, thirty blood thirsty wolves swarming through the trees. Two innocent lives would be lost tonight. And a third on would lose their humanity forever.
I forced myself to shift, fur bursting from my skin, muscle tearing, bone shifting, my spine lengthening, flesh repairing. The pain of my head changing shape to become a muzzle, my ears sliding to the top of my skull, my teeth lengthening and sharpening into deadly canines. The thrill of shifting hit my system, the sights and smells of the forest. Freedom in it's purest form.
Taking off after the pack, I felt at ease. i hadn't gone for a run since the Spring, when the young pups are introduced to the pack, The cool breeze felt good in my grey and tawny fur, branches snapping under my paws. The rich smell of the grass and trees made my heart sing. It felt so great to be free from the cars and city lights.
A flash of white could be seen ahead of me through the brambles, the sweet scent of the female reaching my senses. Max's youngest daughter, a girl of just eighteen, the sweet angel of his line. Sasha Rose.
I ran to her side, my pelt brushing against her's. Those brown eyes flickered to me, a playful glint lighting those pretty depths. She nipped at my shoulder, slammed her body against mine, twisted and turned through the trees, all the while she yipped and laughed. She couldn't lose me, I knew the games of a wolf.
A deep howl sounded in the crisp night air, stopping me dead in my tracks. Victim One was dead.
Hunger burned in her eyes. Our game was over. The hunt was on.
She took off as fast as she could through the trees, covering as much ground as possible. She wanted that second kill.
Panic rose in my throat. I could save that second human if I tried, but I risk losing my life at the hands of my own father. Did I want to exchange my life for a stranger's?
I tore off intot he trees. I had to try. I could hear the screams, the barks and houwls. I was close.
Crashing through the bushes, I landed in the throng of pelts, the poor girl not far ahead.
Snarling and snapping, I forced my way to the front, tripping as many of the pack mates as I could.
I was almost there, I could reach out and touch her. I could save her.
A flash of snow white fur collided with the girl, wolf and human tumbling. Blood, I could smell it. The girl was gone.
Sasha raised her bloodied muzzle to the stars, a bright howl ringing out on the summer wind. One victim left. One that I couldn't save.
As that poor girl became a bloody mass of flesh and bone, I turned away. I couldn't even look at that face as her blonde hair was stained with blood.
Don't you want some, Alex? Sasha's sweet voice asked.
I'll pass, thanks... I trotted off, my heart heavy. I had been so close, I could have saved her. If it wasn't for Sasha that girl would still be alive.
Maybe it was for the best. If I had saved her, helped her escape the forest, taken her home, I would have been the hunted one. I would have lost my life. All for a human girl.
A third howl split the night air. The bite had been dealt. There was no going back anymore. Human was wolf now. The Hunt was over.
Returning to the clearing, I waited for the pack, my stomach in knots. They would drag the human here, to show it off to the pack, the one that issued the bite carrying the body, like it was some sick trophy.
I let myself become human, snapping my jacket over my arms. Leaning against a tree, I waited, watching as a few bloodstained pelts came loping into the clearing. I wanted to see who had issued the bite.
The numbers grew as the minutes passed, Sasha with her snowy fur plastered with blood, Jessie's tawny chest and muzzle soaked with the crimson liquid. Almost every wolf carried the scent of human death.
A loud call rang out, the pride in the voice obvious. The new wolf was coming.
A young male carried the body, a proud smile on his handsome, blood smeared face. The limp girl in his arms was covered in blood and scratches, her clothes in rags, hanging off the frame of her body. And a deep glistening bite marked her neck. She couldn't have been older than sixteen. Her life had been stolen, she was tied to the pack now.
"A new pack mate, new blood in our lines. The wolves shall live on!" My father called to the heavens, a defiant rant to God himself. The Hunt was over for now. Time to move on.
I walked to my car, jingling the keys. I hoped to escape before the others.
"Leaving so soon?"
My luck must have been bad tonight.
Sasha smiled, her brown eyes cheerful and bright. There was still blood on her skin, staining her teeth red.
"I have homework to do."
"Aw, the pack scholar can't skip an assignment?"
"Not when so much cash has gone into the classes."
She snorted, sliding onto my hood. "Your father is paying for them anyways, just let him burn that cash on you."
"There are those who need the money more than I do. I have a job to support me." Actually, I had two, plus odd jobs. I hated using the pack's blood money for my classes.
"You are such a goody-two-shoes, you know that?" She crossed her legs, brushing her silver-blonde hair out of her face. "Just let Daddy-dearest cover what you need."
I just shook my head and unlocked my door. "If you would please get off my hood, I will be going now."
"Without a kiss?"
I froze, my muscles stiff. It's true, she was pretty, but I had no feelings for a blood stained murderer.
"I have to go." I slipped into my seat, turning the key. If she stayed on my hood, I would drive anyways.
When I looked forward, she was gone. Thank God.
I backed out on to the road, flooring the gas on my way home.