One of the densest cities in the US.
You remember me, the big bad werewolf, right? Well, I am happy to inform you that I managed to leave the clan unscathed from the huge fight that broke out with me. I finally left the pack. Seriously, I was stupid and dense enough to think they’d see reason.
So here I am, miles away from that wretched home of mine, settling down in New Jersey. Right now, I am your regular pizza delivery girl, Iris Jones, by night. By day… well, let’s say I work at a huge company (at the help desk, FYI).
Such a sparkling city. I donned my uniform and pinned on my badge. “Whew,” I said to myself. “You’re here to leave your past behind. No more voluntary transformations. You don’t want to get kicked out.”
It was so much easier said than done. Annoying customers always found a way to chew at my brain. Swearing at me, humiliating me… they must be having so much fun, huh? Laughing at the weak seemed to be their profession.
I had just one more delivery left to make, and I went back to pick it up. The manager looked at me. “You are pretty strong for an eighteen-year-old. What do you have for meals?”
“Why do you ask, boss?” I chuckled.
He rolled his eyes. “It’s my son. He’s as frail as a human can get.”
I smiled to myself. That was it, wasn’t it? All of them were humans. I wasn’t. “Can’t really tell you that, boss. Gotta rush!” I yelled over my shoulder and sped away on the motorbike. I checked the label when I reached the address. Mrs. Lillian… odd name. I looked up at the building. It must have been fine, but it was reeking of poverty to me because I was a princess. An unwanted, feared princess.
The moment the door opened, the lady- probably Mrs. Lillian- stared coldly down at me. “You’re late,” she said softly. I checked my watch. “But madam, the pizza arrived exactly in thirty minutes-”
She shook her head. “You, young lady, came here in thirty-two minutes of my order placement. You need to do better than that. Now, according to your company policy, I should not pay, should I?”
“But ma’am, you are being unreasonable!” I exploded. “Two minutes is a buffer time everyone should be allowed!”
She only smirked at me. “You have to be cleverer than that to survive in this world-” she eyed my badge, “-Miss Jones. I assume you are new here?”
I raised my eyebrow. Wasn’t she prying too much? Anyway, I did not want to bring up trouble.
“…I am sorry for the inconvenience caused, ma’am. You need not pay.”
“Now that’s a good girl,” she snickered. It felt irritating. I wanted to wring her neck. I bowed and quickly left.
I had to face the music when I returned to the manager empty-handed. “This is not what I hired you for!” he screamed. “What, do you think you get to do anything just because I paid you a little compliment? Stop dreaming!”
Huh. I guessed all of them were nice to me only when I had something to offer.
I trudged back to my apartment. In my pack, I was a nutcase. Here, I was a good-for-nothing. I couldn’t really be happy, could I? I think that is being part of a werewolf. As soon as I opened the lock to my door, I could feel the silence banging off the walls, echoing loudly in my ears. It was too noisy. Dread and loneliness filled my heart. Maybe I was better off as a true wolf in the forest.
I flopped into the bed and watched the shimmer of the buildings outside. It looked really beautiful. But was it actually that way? Had I made a good decision?
I sighed. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day. I ought to stop being biased and start afresh.
But the next day came and went, and the day after, and the day after… till it finally added up to weeks, and then months… and suddenly, it was the thirty-first of December. Nothing had changed. It was all too frozen in this city. They say it is a humid subtropical climate in South Jersey, don’t they? Well, I found it bitterly cold and sinister. Everybody carried a masked face which came off when they were not with people ‘beneficial’ to them. People like me.
It had been anther painful day at work. I sat at home, eyes closed and wondering about what to do. I had an idea, but… would it be worth it?
Just one voluntary transformation wouldn’t hurt, right?
I pulled on my overcoat. I was headed to the forest.
As soon as my bike touched the edge of the place I was familiar with, my body flushed with unknown joy. Ah… to be myself again… it was beautiful. Sure, I had been driving here every time it was a full moon, but this time, I would be conscious while being a werewolf. It was really pleasurable.
I inhaled deeply. Soon enough, fur started growing all over my body at my will. My mouth elongated into a snout, my pupils turned to sharp slits, and my canines and claws grew.
I was finally where I should be. I howled into the lone moon’s light, and imagined how picturesque it would have been.
But after a few moments, my mind lost control. I was already in a powerful form. Nobody would know it was me. I could just… go ahead and kill those few people who wronged me. I did not realize- the dormant beast was awakening again.
I roared fiercely and pounded towards the streets. Looking at so many people who were happy irritated me. They did not deserve it. They should have never known it. Bloodthirsty, I howled again and snapped my jaws. They noticed me.
“Is that cosplay?” some kid asked and his parent started taking a video. “That person is a natural!” people crowding around me exclaimed while they whipped out their phones too.
Cosplay. Did I look like a joke to them?
I started using my teeth and claws. It was a gruesome sight. There was blood everywhere. Bodies were spread across the road, and the glittering lights shone down on people moaning with grief and pain. I looked up. I felt so peaceful.
Suddenly, I noticed something. Were those… wings?
The wings were part of a slender and graceful figure which descended in front of me. They didn’t belong to an angel. They were big and scaly. Devil wings.
The devil beamed at me. “What do we have here?” he exclaimed. I growled warningly. He clapped his hands and chuckled. “As much as I might enjoy this, I must ask you to stop. Transform back to a human.”
I stayed defiant. He walked calmly up to me and placed his hand on my head. “I said something.”
He was too strong. I was forced back into my human form. I gasped, unstable on my feet. “What do you want?” I asked. He pointed to himself. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am James, most capable assistant to the Head Devil. I… have been assigned to work on earth with a fellow angel.”
My rationality returned to me. “I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I lost my head for a moment there.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Look here, lady. I have already had to deal with enough crappy elevators, so please don’t make my short visit hard on me.”
“Elevators?” I said, surprised. He shook his head. “Never mind,” he shrugged it off. “But I must ask you to leave the city.”
“But… where would I go? My pack is really horrible to me. I can’t return to it.”
He inhaled and extended his arm. “Then come to Hell with me.”
I frowned, considering the choice. Maybe Hell would be a better place than anywhere on earth- on the cold, selfish earth. I took his hand. “I’ll come.”