The full moon hung in the night sky, radiating a soft glow that broke through the darkness. The beauty of black sky sparkling with stars almost eased the ominous tense that clung to the air. I stared at the moon listening to the werewolves howl and wail in the distance. A crisp fall wind wisped past me, ruffling my dark hair and creating goose bumps along my skin. I wrapped my arms across my chest, but it brought little comfort. The howls of the wolves grew louder and my eyes slid shut in sorrow.
I could hear the crunching of dead leaves as my father raced towards the woods and repeatedly shouted my brother’s name. The desperation and fear in his voice pierced my heart like an arrow. My gaze moved to the moon once again, it should be a crime for something so beautiful to cause so much pain and fear.
Anger twisted in my stomach and shot through my heart. How my brother, Jermey, could be so foolish was something I couldn’t comprehend. Hunting werewolves was illegal. The men, cursed to turn into beasts under the full moon, protected the small town of Roland and the people in it. Over a hundred years ago, shortly after the witches cursed the land the werewolves, vampires, and human’s reside on, making it impossible for them or their future offspring to leave, the human’s quickly realized they wouldn’t survive the vampires. Desperate, my ancestors made a deal with the werewolves. They would protect us for a price.
Hunting one down for the sheer pleasure of it would result in a deadly consequence, but that didn’t stop my brother from wanting to try to kill one. Leaving only a note behind, Jermey, grabbed my father’s gun and headed out into the night. My father frantically chased after him after discovering the note, but I knew it was too late.
I understood Jermery’s frustration, it wasn't easy to be at the mercy of creatures much stronger than us. The werewolves had raised the price to keep us safe by an excessive amount, leaving some families without enough money to feed their family. He wasn’t the only one upset, but instead of going out into the night, alone, to make a stand, Jeremy could have left. It would have been better for everyone. Instead his stupidity and impulsivness had put him, myself, mother, father, and our baby brother Clade, who was barely four months old in grave danger. Whatever happens to him tonight, he deserved it.
The werewolves, powerful, strong, and aggressive, were not easily killed. I was far less worried about one of the werewolves dying at the hands of my brother than my brother dying at the claws of the werewolves. As pack animals werewolves are rarely ever alone--if Jeremy attacked one, others would come, ready for a fight. I prayed that they didn’t stumble upon the Alpha-- strong, and protective he wouldn’t allow anything, especially a human, bring harm to the members of his pack.
The raw sound of the wolves howling sent a chill up my spine. With a defeated sigh, I slipped back inside. I slide the sliding glass door shut, careful to be quiet. I crept through the quiet, dark house until I reached the living room. I curled up onto the couch and stared at the fire that nipped and crackled in the fireplace. In the morning, when the moon headset and the sun rose in, and the wolves that turned back into man, someone would be dead. I desperately hoped that it wouldn’t be my father or brother, but I was too afraid of what would happen if it was one of the werewolves. The werewolves would seek revenge and there was no way to know how far they would go to get it. Blood would be demanded, but how much would satisfy their bloodlust?
I grabbed the blanket off the side of the couch and curled under it, but not because I was cold. The soft fleece brought some measure of comfort. The wind blew fiercely outside and the old house creaked. The house I called home was a small, modest place, despite the fact that my father was one of the more wealthy men in town. It was the house that he grew up in, holding more memories for him than I could ever fathom. I loved the house almost as much as my father, but my mother distested the house, but when she brought up the idea of moving, her father would become moody, angry, and demand that if she wanted to move into a bigger house than she could pay for it herself.
My mother would suggest moving at least once a year, usually right after one of the werewolves would come into town to collect their monthly payment, but my father always refused. Long ago, before she was born, the werewolves and the people of the town had come to an agreement--the werewolves would protect the people of Roland from the rest of the supernatural world for a price. In addition to the monthly payment, the people had to follow two rules: don’t venture into the woods during the full moon and don’t purposely seek to harm the werewolves.
My brother and father had broken both of those rules.
I hugged my knees close to my chest. The morning would bring tonight‘s consequences. Jeremy, foolish and impulsive, knew what he was doing. Tired of having to pay the werewolves he decided to take matters into his own hands. It was infuriating that he was so ignorant. Our family were not slaves. We could leave any time we wanted, we weren’t forced to stay in the Roland. We could be free of the wolves if we wanted, but our father didn’t want to risk going into the unknown. There were things out there--creatures far worse than the werewolves. I didn’t know what type of creatures lurked beyond the borders of our town, but I knew from the stories from the occasional traveler that visited our town, that I didn’t want to ever find out. However, thanks to my brother's foolishness, I might not have a choice but to find out.
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