12-Step for Werewolves

Tati drained the last of her beer. She watched through the window as a local loaded equipment into the bed of a pickup truck.

“These are good folks, Omar. I’d hate to kill any of them.”

Omar leaned close. “The full moon isn’t for three days. Let’s get back to the ranch. There’s a valley miles from town with deer, elk, and antelope. I’ve hunted there for years as a wolf. You don’t have to kill anyone.”

Tati shook her head. “What is this, a twelve-step program for werewolves?”

Omar chuckled. “Now there’s an idea. A twelve-step for recovering werewolves. It’s almost too bad there aren’t more of us.”

Preacher Wolf

“How’d you get to be a werewolf preacher? That’s just wrong on so many levels.”

Omar laughed and grabbed a burrito from the bag. “It’s not, really. I was pretty well lost. I had a bad coke habit, lost my job and my family. I was living in a car I’d stolen. Somebody found me and thought I was worth saving. This guy got me into rehab. It didn’t take the first two times, but eventually something got through. I’d been sober for six weeks when I was attacked on a camping trip. This wolf creature slashed my guts open. I could SEE my intestines hanging out. By the next day my wounds had healed. That’s about sixteen kinds of not right.”

Tati didn’t speak. What happened to Omar had happened to her half a world away–the wolf attack, anyway. At last she said, “And the preaching?”

Omar swallowed a mouthful of burrito. “Somebody took me out of the gutter. My life wasn’t worth saving but he did it anyway. I wondered what kind of person would do that. I wanted to let other people know they were worth saving too.”

“It was Gallard, wasn’t it? Gallard saved you.”

Omar nodded. “Well, Gallard got me out of the gutter. The saving came from somewhere else.”

“But you’re a werewolf. How do you square that with God? I thought there was the whole ‘Thou shalt not murder’ thing.”

Omar laughed. “It ain’t easy. God gives me grace and Gallard lets me use his hunting preserve on the full moons.”

Living the Nightmare

“This isn’t something you ‘come to terms with’. That makes it sound like a negotiation. No, one day you’re a normal person with a normal life and the next you’re an inhuman monster stalking the helpless under a full moon. The smell of blood is the smell of madness–and release.”

Tati cut a thick piece of the rare, juicy steak.

“You know what’s funny? Before I became a werewolf I was a vegan. Ain’t that a kick.”

The Wolf Seeks Peace

“You and I have seen the face of abject horror in our victims, the look when the wolf is at their throat and there’s no escape. They soil themselves or attempt to flee from what lies before them. It’s absolute gibbering helplessness.

“But there was one–a girl by a lake in Ontario four summers ago–she welcomed me in utter, loving fearlessness. It wasn’t resignation or some weary longing for the release of death. Death, even in the brutal, tearing jaws of the wolf, held no terror for her. She welcomed what came after, the life after the death. From that time I’ve sought that peace.”

Preaching Morals to A Werewolf

Tati snorted. “Don’t preach to me, Omar. I’m cursed. I’m a werewolf, a creature of the night and all that. Your human morals don’t apply to me. “

The preacher shook his head. “You don’t get off that easy, girl. You’re as human as I am. The difference is you have the wolf pathogen in your blood. When the bloodlust comes on you at the full moon, you’re not making choices, the wolf is.”

He pulled back his shirt collar to reveal a livid scar. “And for the record, you’re not the only werewolf around here.”

Transformed

Tati gave a feral growl as the full moon broke over the horizon. Her mouth and nose stretched to the form of a muzzle and canine fangs erupted from her jaw. As her back elongated she dropped to all fours. The excruciating pain of the transformation shuddered through her and whatever human consciousness remained faded before the all-consuming wolf awareness. She gave a violent tail-to-snout shake, sat back on her haunches and howled at the silver moon.

Policework

“Tatiana Lang is somehow connected to at least four fatal wolf attacks against low-level gang bangers and meth-heads, folks no one is going to miss.”
“Boss, you think she trained these animals? There’s been no sign of them after the attacks, like they just disappeared. And what’s her motive? She doesn’t have any history of drug use, gang activity, or involvement with anyone who has.”
Pope shook his head. “I got no clue. The only thing we have for sure is that she and her sister were attacked by a wolf five years ago. The sister died. Get with the state wildlife office. Find out what it takes to train a wolf.”

Coincidence

“Guess how many fatal wolf attacks there are every year.”
“One or two?”
“Until about three years ago the annual average was close to zero. Since then, there have been four. Tatiana Lang was within two hours of each attack.”
“That’s a stretch, Eddie. I’m sure there were others. What’s she doing? Training wolves to attack meth heads and serial abusers?”

Death of an Angel

Detective Eddie Pope has seen his share of corpses, but he wondered if he’d ever seen quite so much blood. The body lay twisted at an odd angle against the convenience store dumpster. He leaned over the body to get a look at what was left of the face.

“Nuts,” he said to his partner. “This might be been Angel Velazquez. I’m fairly sure, but the body’s torn up pretty bad. He was a meth head, but he gave us the dirt that helped put away those Sinaloa hitters.”

Deputy Detective Sheryl Rosas leaned in to get a look. “You think the cartel got some payback?”

Pope shook his head. He pointed to the bloody paw prints leading down the alley. “I think our confidential informant was eaten by a wolf.”