Scavengers, Chapter 1

Despite taking a week off to work on Scavengers, I still have to push the pub date back (again).  So, as a thank you for waiting patiently, I give you the first chapter!

-1-

I was already having a pretty bad couple of days before I got kidnapped.

Not that my life was really all that awesome before, what with my father being all paranoid about the government and doctors and everything.  He was so paranoid he moved us out to the middle of nowhere, “off the grid,” which wasn’t so bad except for the no TV, internet, any communication whatsoever thing – but Pa had been slowly weaning us off that stuff for a while.  It was more the no school, no contact with any “outsiders” thing, and then when Mom got sick, things went right downhill.  Pa said the doctors would’ve only made her sicker, and I was little so I believed every word that came out of his mouth, but sometimes I wonder if she’d still be alive if he’d taken her to a hospital like a normal person.

Still, it was better than now.

Daniel came along, and after about two seconds of it being cool to have a new friend, now my life is all werewolves and murder, and now, being kidnapped.

One minute I’m scarfing down some snacks behind a highway rest stop, the next I’m being clubbed in the head and waking up blind without a clue as to where I am or how I got here.

These guys, I have to think of them as guys, because they talk like all they do all day is play video games and eat chips – they’re definitely not “men,” these guys have me blindfolded and duct taped and tossed in the back of their van.  At least I think it’s a van.  I can’t really picture being kidnapped in something that isn’t an unmarked white van.

It smells like old coffee and motor oil and farts in here.

Whoever is driving isn’t very careful about how fast he drives over bumps.

“We’re gonna get caught if you keep driving like a maniac, Je-“

“Shut up, stupid!  Don’t use names!”

“Why the fuck not?  I don’t get why we needed to tie him up.  Aren’t we really—“

“God, Ry- fuck, you moron!  Stop talking!  Why you gotta give us all away?”

“I didn’t!”

“Slow down!  Shit, the cops are gonna see us coming from a mile away.”

“Yeah, act cool. Cool, man.”

“Bite me.  None of you guys have a license.”

“Whatever, Jeff.”

“Stop using my name!”

I wish I could just tell these dudes to stop yelling, my ears hurt.  One of the perks of being a werewolf: super sensitive hearing.

I have no clue why these guys snatched me unless they’re working for the enemy pack that turned me to begin with.  They were looking to kill Daniel, I guess, that’s why they came to our house.  One of them bit me and I turned.  But they left me there, so maybe they weren’t planning to turn me?  Or maybe they left me for dead?  If they got wind I was still alive somehow, then Daniel better watch his back because they are following him.

“Stop kicking me, fucktard.  God, there is not enough room in this piece.”

“Ow, watch it!”

One of them growls, followed by more growls, and now I’m getting kicked or stepped on or something.  I growl back at them.

“Jesus, would you idiots knock it off?” snaps the one named Jeff, the driver.  “You keep poking the bear, it might just wake up and bite your head off.”

“Bear?  I thought he was a wolf.”  That’s the one named Ryan, I think.

“Moron.”

“Loser.”

“Guys.”  Jeff means business now.  “You get this guy mad enough, and he’s going to turn.  That’s what Geo said.  He can’t control his anger, or his wolf.  So shut the fuck up and stop fighting.”

They think I’m Daniel.  That’s why they kidnapped me.

“He’s supposed to be the secret weapon, right?”

“Ryan, can you please just play it cool?  We don’t need a villain monologue right now.”

“Villain?  Come on.  We’re the heroes.  Aren’t we?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Maybe I don’t.”

As the scuffling restarts, I inhale through my nose and exhale deeply.  They think I’m Daniel.  They think I’m some kind of secret weapon, and now they’re bringing me to their evil leader, and then they’ll find out that I’m just some kid, and the evil leader will have them killed and me too.

“Hey, is this the new Metallica album?”

“Yeah.”

“Crank it up!”

I’d rather have the fighting than this heavy metal crap blasting out my eardrums.

Daniel can’t control himself?  He seemed pretty in control to me.  He taught me how to control my wolf with some kind of alpha-male magic.  He growled this command at me and suddenly I felt everything fall into place.  He was in charge and I was okay with that.

Then I remember that day, with the axe, and wonder how close Daniel was to losing control then.

Daniel was out chopping wood, and when I heard Pa call for me, it was to get his gun and get out there, where Daniel was gripping the axe like he was going to slice Pa in two, shaking, crazy look in his eyes.  “I’m sorry,” is what he kept saying, and I didn’t get it at the time.  I felt like he was saying, “I’m sorry I’m going to have to axe murder your father,” so when Pa told me to shoot him, I kind of had to.  But now I wonder, maybe he meant he was sorry he couldn’t control himself.  In that case, why didn’t he just turn into a wolf right then and kill my Pa?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Then for the next week I had to listen to Pa’s lectures about “this is what happens when you bring in outsiders,” the world outside is corrupt and full of murderers, etc.

Now I’m one of them.

When that black-haired man who turned into a black wolf bit me, my brain broke apart like a piece of pottery.  I was on fire, and I was cold, and I felt so so hungry, and Pa smelled like sausage, and I was an animal, a passenger riding inside the mind of the animal, and he bit my Pa and ate part of his face, and I wanted it to happen, I was so hungry.

Turns out Daniel killed his father too, the first time he turned.  But his father was abusive so he probably deserved it.  My Pa might’ve been strict, but he never beat me unless I was being punished, and I was usually a good kid.  He never made me bleed or anything.

Finally it seems like the van has reached the highway.  The road flattens out, no more slamming my head into the floor.  So of course, I fall asleep.

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