There was a sleeping monster in the room, and Tala knew it, but the empty fireplace straight ahead compelled her to move towards it as if the fact that no fire burned inside was more important. Her shy fingers reached and touched lightly on the mantle with hesitation, leaving a spot of fingerprints behind in the dust that had settled there, while her reflection, evident in the glass below, called out in silence. “Don’t wake the beast,” it said, yet the long-lost flame, nothing but ashes in the hearth, was now roaring to life inside her. She could feel it wake, like the scratched head of a match against the rough surface of its box, igniting in a snap.

It was an unfamiliar feeling, yet the spark and drive it gave her felt as though she’d had it all along, dormant and lying in wait.

The dust absently fell from the pads of her fingers as she moved along, like dead skin sloughing away to reveal a more vibrant, youthful flesh while her eyes adjusted, taking in more of the room. It was a new setting, and even though it was clouded with dust, patrons still occupied a few of the tables. They chatted and dined by candlelight and sat on long wooden benches, every now and then turning their heads to give her curious looks. They knew she was lost. The hunger in her eyes to find what she needed most made them leery. Perhaps they too had seen the monster she knew was hiding somewhere in the room.

Yet their attention was short lived as she became familiar, despite her awkward standing and blank stare, and they turned back to the meals in front of them. Soft whispers in the form of chit chat as they ate, filled the room with a softness that burned her ears. Refraining from putting her hands over them for protection was hard, but there was no rhyme or reason as to why she was there to begin with. Aliens could have dropped her right down in the center of the eatery and no one cared for more than five seconds. 

She didn’t know their names, nor had she seen them before. They were, by definition, strangers, and this was their haunt, full of food and drink on a regular basis. It didn’t matter that it was old and lacked the golden glow of the flames in the pit of the hearth. It still held familiarity, warmth, and memories all shielding their eyes from the monster now standing in their midst.

Her nostrils flared from frustration and drew in the salty smell of their warm skin. Their greased fingers from plucking at the glazed duck on their plates caught her eyes and she absently licked her lips. Without batting an eyelash, she stalked towards one of the corner tables, inching like a person placed in a deep trance. 

The man sitting there was oblivious until she appeared, mere inches from his face. Her wide, crazy eyes staring, desperate. Her hands reaching.

The startled look he gave in return, and the ping of his fork against the plate as he dropped it brought her out of the trance sending her feet into an immediate back pedal.

“Get out!” she roared in response, falling forward against the mantle of the fireplace. A violent wave of heat rippled through her body, it’s tendrils like flames lashing out at her soul. She breathed heavy, hiding her face against the arm she used as a prop to keep from falling. Her heartbeat was fierce. It drummed in her ears, blocking out any sound from those around her. There was a twist and a crack, and she groaned, gnashing her teeth in agony while still trying to will the white-hot heat she felt growing inside to take place where it belonged, behind the clear glass of the fireplace. “Get out, all of you!!” she urged again in vain.

Her mouth gaped, widening until she couldn’t huddle there anymore, and her reflexes shoved her backwards. The soft outline of her face was soon no more, replaced by a frightening maw full of fangs.

The change was happening. There was no escaping it. 

Her body heaved and fell into the glass screen that protected the pit of the fire. Its plated glass shattered from the impact and sent a few small shards into her delicate skin causing her to scream in agony, more so over the fact that she couldn’t escape. They were nothing.  Pin pricks compared to the pain of moving organs and expanding bones. Her skin spit them out as her hide thickened. Dark brown patches of fur sprouted, and she gathered herself, standing tall on hind legs like stilts. 

The monster made its reveal full of ravenous hunger with no hint of surprise showing in those dark, murderous eyes.

She frowned, twisting towards the table previously stalked, while the soft humans still in their seats were too shocked to react or move. Their mouths gaped, their arms were outstretched, hands smashed against the plates of food, pushing globs of mashed potatoes in between their fingers. Frozen in this position, time stood still like a fresh painting.

Blinded by primal instinct, Tala rose to her full height casting a shadow across the room that climbed the far wall, broadcasting the scene about to play out with an underlying quality of an old-time movie. There was no music. Only the choked back breaths from those around the wolf who tried to remain silent, knowing that those feeble noises could be their last.

One person started to pray and sent the wicked number into action. 

A heavy-set frown marked the beast’s forehead. This wasn’t about evil; this was about hunger and thirst and fear and pain as if neither set could do without the other. Whatever dark hole Tala had fallen into; she knew this was the only way out. 

With eyes sparkling a golden yellow in the dim light, her lips parted, revealing a wide maw of sharp canines and a large tongue that rolled across them. A small bit of saliva dripped from it and plopped on the floor at her feet. It smeared under her paws as she lunged for her first kill.

The human had his back to her, eyes clenched tight enough that the lashes appeared sewn together. He was hoping the drab brown color of his attire would blend into the wood the walls of the establishment were built from, and with no eye contact, surely there were others more suitable to pick from. Beads of sweat on his brow told another story. They slipped down his salty face, reddened from the strain of keeping still, trying not to make eye contact. 

The scent was a brilliant beacon for Tala, brighter than any spotlight.

His face was forced to soften as soon as his head was jerked back and he wailed in agony, glancing down once at the soft rivulets of fresh blood running down his dinner jacket. A loss of conscious control coerced him to follow the trails up towards their source where massive white fangs lay embedded in his shoulder.

The grotesque snout wrinkled as the wolf curled her lips and snarled, angered by the fact that he had the audacity to look upon her now. She could smell the stink of his fear collecting in a pool under his seat and it almost made the sweet taste of his blood turn sour. Deeper went the bite, crushing bone under its weight. No longer could the man manage to twist his neck in order to see the oncoming slaughter.

His head fell forward, smashing into the table, causing chaos as the dinnerware rattled and clinked. Glasses fell over and shattered spilling their contents of red wine. It spread as fast as his blood, staining the napkins. He passed out even before she took his arm clean off.

The other diners had long since scattered, knocking over a few tables and all of the chairs in order to escape, but there was one brave soul who had decided to remain. He picked up a piece of the broken glass from the fireplace, one that had a nice sharp tip, and he lunged at the wolf.

She anticipated this, her hearing keen as his heavy footsteps rattled the floor, causing her to jerk around on her haunches at the exact moment her foe threw his weaponized hand forward. It made a quick gash across her chest, but it wasn’t enough to deter. The glass was slapped away from his grasp. Her talons retaliated, dancing across his mid-section with a concise grace that sent a splatter of crimson across the hearth and up over the mantle.

The man hobbled forward with his head down, groaning as he moved his fingers up over the wound in order to show her the blood at the tips of his fingers. The weak quiver of his eyes defined his defeat and sadness as they filled with tears. This wasn’t the outcome he’d imagined.  One last grasp for hope emerged as he whispered her name and a dribble of blood appeared at the corner of his mouth before he sank to his knees.

The wolf recognized him now. He’d caught her off guard, but the shock of seeing him sent her into a frantic panic as she fought through the madness of her true nature, lengthening her paws to reach for him.  Her mouth tried to form words, but nothing audible would come, while on the inside she screamed at the unfairness. 


“Even after I opened my eyes, it was all I could see. You know those kinds of dreams?” Tala asked, twisting from discomfort in her lover’s arms with tears in her eyes as she met his.

He nodded; his expression sullen as if the dream had hit a nerve.

This response caused Tala to scramble around on her knees until she was kneeling, facing him with her hands on his cheeks, and she kissed him repeatedly as if she’d actually done him physical harm by telling him.

“It was just a dream,” she reassured, brushing the wisps of soft, long hair away from his face where they’d fallen, tucking them back behind his ears. He had high cheek bones and sharp, hawk eyes of golden brown when the light hit them just right. At other times they were like dark chocolate and pierced her soul, especially when he was angry. Now, as she looked upon him, they were a mixture of the two colors.

“I read that dreaming of werewolves could mean several things,” she carried on, as if an explanation was needed. How quickly the emotions between them had shifted. Now he was the one fighting with the images while she consoled him. “One being that things aren’t always as they seem.”

She paused to reflect on those words hoping that a solid meaning would spill from her mouth, careful still in that she didn’t want to upset him further. Their relationship had started with a lot of rough edges to maneuver around, mostly due to her fear of commitment. Now that she felt secure giving her heart away, a few reoccurring, strange dreams were making her leery. 

It was one of those human traits Dylan helped her to recognize and deal with, since he’d come from the type of cultural background that believed in a variety of spiritual guides used as aides to get one being from point A to point B. Yet he couldn’t deny the reflection of this dream. It cast its eerie presence above them as a cloud in the form of a wolf across the silver moon, and the weight of its shadow was undeniable.

“Do you love me?” he asked pointblank.

“Yes.” The answer was direct and confident, but she frowned, searching his eyes for the reason behind the need to know. “You’re skeptical now? Aren’t you? Like maybe you think the dream is showing the truth of how I feel about you?”

Dylan scoffed at that, turning his head away. “That’s not it,” he said, but kept his eyes averted.

“Then what?” She shook him, but his broad shoulders barely moved, and she felt foolish, and a tad desperate.

His unkept mane blocked his face from her or she would have been able to see the satisfied smile he wore before jerking towards her, relishing in the reaction she gave him. It was a quick hopping motion that kept her seated as he grabbed her by the shoulders and brought her even closer.

Tala gasped. Dylan was no longer Dylan. His eyes glowed a pale yellow and his mouth had widened showing gleaming white fangs that protruded over his bottom lip. Yet in all this horror he made no sound. None was needed. She could see his intentions in his expression. He was hungry, but the hunger was sensuous, and a decision had been made based on her answer to whether or not she loved him.

The truth was there, she did love him and for a moment she froze, unable to tell if this was reality or if she’d stepped into another dream. She closed her eyes, breathing in the sweet smell of chilled fresh air and the slight smell of musk on his skin before tipping her head to the side. She wasn’t sure if that’s how it was done. Giving in. Submitting to love. She’d only seen it done like this in the movies where the victim’s body betrayed them due to their captor’s seduction and they quickly fell under the mesmerizing spell of the monster. 

She felt the soft pressure of his lips and the vibration of his gentle laugh, amused by her position. Anticipation of pain made her cringe, but the stroke of his tongue was velvet. It wetted her skin sending shivers down her spine, eliciting a soft moan from between her lips.

Her body relaxed, eased into his arms and he cradled her, a hoarse purr at the back of his throat. He eased his bite, licking away small batches of blood as his fangs dipped deeper and deeper beneath her skin’s surface.

February 24, 2020 20:20

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