She’s Dead, Detective

“Pastor Omar, you counseled Tatiana Lang, didn’t you?”

“I did, Detective, for several months. Her death was unexpected and it hit us all pretty hard.”

“Was she violent? Did she ever attack you?”

Omar shook his head. “The content of our counseling sessions is private and will stay that way, even after her death. But no, I never felt unsafe in her presence.”

Pope leaned forward. “I didn’t ask if you felt unsafe. Did she attack you?”

The pastor leaned back in his chair and sighed. “Detective Pope, I’m happy to assist the police, but my sessions with Tati Lang are private. I can give you the dates of our sessions, but what we discussed is off-limits.”

Pope smiled. “You said ‘our sessions are private.’ Twice. Not ‘were private.’ Like maybe she’s not really dead?”

“Sorry. It was a slip of the tongue. Like I said, her death hit us pretty hard.”

Obsessed Much?

“The Book of Lycaon is a marvel, Ms. Lang. It records more than three millenia of blood lore, thirty-three hundred years of werewolf history and genealogy. I’ve made it my life’s study and have translated dozens of obscure, extinct dialects–some recorded nowhere else. The volumes describe how werewolves are created and how they die, and how they are cured.”

Gallard gripped Tati’s arm and drew her to the leather-bound books.

“This is your history now, Tatiana, and your salvation.”

The Wolf Life

“Being a werewolf isn’t like what Hollywood says. Sure, for a night or two around the full moon you’re on top of the world. The wolf takes over and your body changes into this magnificent beast that owns the darkness. Then the bloodlust rises and you slay indiscriminately, blindly. And suddenly you’re human again and you wake up naked behind a dumpster or deep in the woods or in some farmer’s stock yard. And for four weeks you live with the horrific knowledge that you’ve killed yet again. And one night the full moon rises and the cycle begins again.”

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.”

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.

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.”

The Search

Gallard took in the apartment. The reek of urine and frying fish permeated the graffiti-stained hallways of the building, but the girl’s apartment was clean and trim. High quality bio-locks secured the door and windows. No one could come in that she didn’t want in. A neat stack of books lay on the table: molecular biology, genetics, and…European folktales and legends. He opened the last to a bookmarked page, knowing what he’d find–the story of the werewolf.