“We are running out of time. My ribs are killing me. I can’t hold it back for much longer. We need to leave. Now.”
Ishua looked around the pub with hesitation, his hands balling up into fists trying to take his mind from the ever-growing issue at hand. Kelsey threw back the rest of her beer and stood, linking one of her arms with his.
“C’mon, I'll help you. My father has an old cellar not far from here. It’s hidden in the woods and no longer in use so we will be safe there. No one will know we are there, just trust me.”
Ishua grunted grunted as he nodded towards his best friend, the fiery pain in his abdomen spreading to what felt like every fiber in his being. After they entered the wine cellar, Kelsey barred the door. Upon reaching the basement, Ishua knelt to grab a string of chains that were covered in dust on the floor. Kelsey briskly walked over to him then and assisted in wrapping the chains around his wrists and ankles, then strapping the chains through the bolts that were welded into the floor. In that moment Kelsey was grateful that her father left behind these items that helped them. The materials were once used in the past to help keep the wine barrels stable enough to last through the earthquakes and lightning storms that would sweep through the valley like hell. Timerbrook was known for its storms, and while most residents couldn’t afford to move anywhere else, there were some like Kelsey and Ishua who liked the wilderness aspect of it.
Just as Kelsey finished looping the last bit of chain through the bolt by Ishua’s right hand side, his eyes turned from their natural green to a bright yellow. The top of his hands started sprouting dark brown fur and the muscles in his back rippled as his form grew larger in size. Within mere seconds, Ishua had turned into a full werewolf; his long sharp fangs glistening under the moonlight that peeked through the skylight just above them. Kelsey stepped up to him bravely, placing one of her hands on his chest as he huffed out a deep breath.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m here. Take deep breaths with me…In…and out…In…and out.”
Ishua was soon able to calm his breathing and he placed his left paw on top of her hand gently, his big golden eyes boring down into hers, letting her know that he was okay. A couple of hours had passed, and the moon glided over the horizon when Kelsey stirred from her sleep. Looking over her shoulder, she let out a sigh of relief at seeing Ishua was back into his original human form again, sound asleep. She’d always known deep down since they met as kids that he would never hurt her but with them growing up and with her witnessing his wolf form change from a pup to a now full-fledged wolf was a bit of a shock to her. He’d grown into a man and creature so beautiful, she felt lucky to be his friend and to be with him when he needed a helping hand.
When they first met many years ago in the town’s elementary school, Ishua didn’t have any friends before he met Kelsey. He was raised in an orphanage, not knowing who he could trust enough to be able to tell anyone about his gift. He had no idea why he was the only one with this condition, and why he could never find any answers as to what happened to his birth parents. Were his birth parents’ mad scientists who experimented on him when he was born? Was he born with this ability naturally? Is that why they gave him up? Kelsey shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. Whilst she wanted to hate whoever had done this to the person she deeply cares about, some part of her also knew that dwelling in the past wouldn’t help nor change anything.
As the morning sun rose, Kelsey reached her hand out to rest her palm against Ishua’s back, gently stirring him awake. As they exited the wine cellar Ishua tilted his chin up to the sky and closed his eyes as he took a long, deep breath. Letting the air in his lungs out slowly, he opened his eyes as he looked over to Kelsey.
“I don’t know about you, but waffles and coffee sound amazing right about now.”
Kelsey let out a soft giggle, loving the thought that her best friend had a “beast” of a stomach. She’d always been impressed by how much he could eat. Part of her envied him though, for the werewolf gene must have some part of a hand that gives him a superbly fast metabolism. She admired how he managed to stay in shape though. If they were anything but best friends, she could totally see herself falling for him.
Once they entered the little café at the edge of town, they were instantly greeted by a kind young woman who seated them promptly. After the waitress came back over to pour them both a hot cup of joe, Kelsey couldn’t help but look at the television screen that was hanging on the wall across from them. A newsman seemed to be covering an important update as his facial expressions seemed grim and as he spoke, he stared in shock at the camera. But it was more so the red banner scrolling at the bottom of the screen that had instantly stopped Kelsey from taking a sip of her coffee, her heart sinking to the floor.
MANDATORY CURFEW. STAY INDOORS AT NIGHT. POSSIBLE WEREWOLF ROAMING AROUND AT LARGE. AT LEAST FOUR DEAD IN GRUESOME ATTACK.
Ishua’s eyebrows raised as he lowered the coffee cup from his lips. Softly, not wanting to believe the words on the screen, he muttered under his breath.
“What the hell?”
“This…this has to be some sort of sick joke. I mean…I’m with you every single time you phase, and you’ve never hurt me, nor have you ever gone anywhere. I thought your psycho parents only created you before they got shut down…unless…”
Ishua shook his head after swallowing the rest of his coffee, the taste of it seeming bitter now.
“To be completely honest, I sure as hell hope not. If I am not the only one that those two whack jobs experimented on, then who else could it be? One thing is clear though, they don’t have a best friend to help keep them sane like I do.”
Ishua chuckled as Kelsey rolled her eyes playfully at him. All joking aside, Ishua scanned the restaurant, his muscles tensing under the eyes of the other customers; their curiosity at seeing a man as muscular as he was, looking so shocked by watching what was being reported on the news Live.
“We should get out of here.”
Kelsey nodded quickly, pulling some cash out from her jean pockets, and dropping it onto the table. Once they arrived back at Kelsey’s house, Ishua grabbed his laptop from the kitchen counter and plopped himself down on the couch next to Kelsey as she feverishly searched for any leads on her phone. They began their search for who was behind the attacks and the details behind each of the murders. A short while later, Ishua had found a clue.
“Looks like the first mauled body was located at the base of Hilltop Crescent View. The others seem to be kinda spaced around the area, but they are all within a five-mile radius from that mountain.”
Kelsey leaned against his shoulder to look at the computer screen, her eyebrows furrowing.
“Huh, that’s interesting. Could someone be doing some sort of twisted ritual? Something I found here on my phone says almost the same thing, but that the last…or most recent victim was with a hiking group exploring the backside of that mountain. The other hikers reported that the girl kept saying how she was hearing strange noises all around them as they were walking, but none of them heard anything at all. They claim that they didn’t want to be rude and just wanted to enjoy the hike, but next thing they knew…she was gone.”
Ishua closed his laptop and stood up, lending out his hand to Kelsey to help her up.
“C’mon, let’s go check it out. Pack a bag with some warm clothes in case we need to stay the night somewhere. I’ll grab us some First Aid supplies and food.”
After they were all packed up and ready to go, Ishua slid his cell phone into his back pocket and then shifted the weight of the backpack on his shoulders. Kelsey filled up two water bottles and then after locking up the place, they started out on their venture. The first half hour, they didn’t really talk to each other much. For Ishua, his thoughts were swirling with many questions. The one pressing the most was if he were to finally meet his birth parents. What would he say to them? How would they react at seeing him for the first time since he was born? What have they been up to all these years? Another part of his thoughts ebbed in though, making him wonder what if both of his parents weren’t alive and someone else had taken up the twisted scientific path in their stead.
Soon they started talking about the what ifs to help fill in the silence. Though it wasn’t awkward, Kelsey wanted to help Ishua clear his mind and think better. IF his parents were still alive, she wanted him to be able to think clearly just in case they bring out any emotions that he had locked away all these years. As they landed at the base of the mountain, they both looked up to its peak, the sheer size of it alone now seeming daunting to them both. Ishua let out a deep breath as he rolled his shoulders, ready to get this journey over with. Kelsey grabbed his hand as she looked up to him as they started their ascent.
“Hey, don’t worry. We’ll find out who’s behind these murders and we’ll put an end to it. If it is in fact your birth parents, then we’ll deal with them together. Life is about swings and roundabouts. We’ll get through this.”
Ishua nodded. A short while later, they reached a deep cave that led into the heart of the mountain. As they walked side by side into the dark cold tunnel, they squinted their eyes as the darkness consumed everything around them. Step by step they cautiously trekked until the cave dipped down and a small light could be seen in the far distance. A weird cooing-like sound came from where the light was, and though it was hard to hear, Ishua tuned into his sense to try and make out who or what was making that noise. When they finally reached the room, Ishua stopped dead in his tracks, making Kelsey accidentally bump into him. As she was about to ask him why he suddenly stopped, she peered around his side and gasped at who was standing before him. A tall, dark-haired man adorned with a lab coat that had keys strung all over it kept on by clasps of various sizes, stood at full attention upon their eyes meeting. Ishua took the initiative to speak up first, clearing the awkward silence that filled the air.
“Who are you?”
“Well, young lad, my name is Doctor Vlad Demtire. Who might you two be?”
“My name is Ishua and this is Kelsey. We hope you don’t mind our intrusion, but we are investigating the murders that have occurred around here in the last couple of days.”
“Ah, yes, so sad. Those kids were all in the prime of their youth.”
Ishua’s right eyebrow hitched up at the cold reply from the doctor.
“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about them, do you?”
Doctor Demtire immediately snapped his head up to look at Ishua again. He placed one palm flat against his chest as he looked taken aback by the pressing question.
“That sounds more like an accusation, young man. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re not here just to solve the murders, are you?”
Ishua clenched his hands up into fists as the corner of his mouth lifted in a sneer. All tone leaving his voice, he made a cold reply as Kelsey grasped onto his bicep, reminding him to keep calm so as to not risk turning in front of the doctor.
“Well that depends on some things now, doesn’t it? What are you doing down here hidden so far away from society? What do you know of the kids who were murdered? Do you know WHO committed these atrocities?”
The doctor dropped his head, his long shaggy hair covering his eyes as he let out a dark chuckle.
“Oh boy, you remind me of someone. If only they were here to see this.”
Ishua took a step forward, causing the doctor to look up and take a hesitant step backwards.
“Who killed those innocent people? And why are you acting like this? You know, if I were an investigator, I’d say you’re just buying time and bullshitting us. Cut the crap and speak. My patience is wearing thin.”
The doctor narrowed his eyes as he stared up at Ishua.
“I know what you are, and who created you. Wouldn’t you like to know the truth about your past?”
Ishua scoffed as he rolled his eyes, “What are you, a fricken fortune teller?”
“Hah. If you only knew. I simply wish to help if you’ll follow me…”
Suddenly Ishua’s body went rigid just as the doctor snapped his fingers. Kelsey gasped as cuffs were instantly clasped tightly onto hers and Ishua’s wrists tightly. Ishua growled.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Be patient, young man. All your questions will be answered soon.”
With that, the doctor opened a door that revealed a long and dimly lit hallway. A string of lights lit up one side of the pathway, and as the doctor began walking down the hall, Ishua’s body involuntarily following, as if under a trance. The doctor started humming when Ishua glanced over his shoulder to Kelsey and whispered under his breath.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get out of this. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. Wait for my signal…”