Dog Tag

In this alternate reality, werewolves live among us. Feared though they are, they are treated as normally as possible. Just one thing marks them out from others - a silver dog tag necklace. Every full moon, the wearers of the dog tags are rounded up and put in cells in the WereControl Headquarters.
Wisteria Lewin wakes up one morning wearing a tag that she cannot get off and has no idea how it got there................
*I've used the name Wisteria before, yeah I know, but it's such a lovely name that I couldn't resist using it again*

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3. Two

"Fences, my little Blackbird. Fences!"

I looked up at him, blinking stupidly. "Fences, daddy?"

Dad kicked the fence gently with the toe of one boot. "I don't like fences, Blackbird. They cage me. Restrainment. Confinement."

I stared knowledgeably at the fence, even though I had no idea what he was talking about. Four-year-old me, with my thin face and long spidery legs. My hair was short and heavy-fringed at the time.

My dad called me Blackbird as a nickname. Because of my thick black hair, and my dark, almost black eyes. People didn't quite get the nickname. They called me pet, and butterfly, and sweetheart. I hated all of those. Blackbird was the only name for me, and it was special because my dad had given it to me. I liked the colour black. It was my favourite colour. It still is - always was, always will be. People thought that was wrong for a young girl. They thought that I should like pink, or blue, or yellow. They were too bright for me. Too garish. Maybe that was why I was always attracted to the night.

Black sky, silvery stars, the soothing noises. It just seemed perfect to me. So quiet. So safe.

That was before I knew about the werewolves, of course.

My dad took the fences down in our garden a week or so later, ripping them up and using a crowbar as a lever. Soon, we were left with a big patch of slightly overgrown grass that ran straight off into the forest that previously lay just outside the back gate. I played in the woods quite happily, running about in bare feet or my little green gumboots. Dad was quite happy to let me run wild. The neighbours disapproved. I still remember that one time when the elderly Mrs Culpepper ran outside, grabbed me, and marched me back up to my house. I was frozen in shock, unsure of why this old lady was holding me up in the air by the armpits and handing me back over to my dad. Dad had nodded understandingly while Mrs Culpepper stood there ranting, then pulled a funny face when she left. He ushered me out to the woods again as soon as she drew the lacy curtains on her window.

Nobody had called me Blackbird for six years.

I bite my thumb, gnawing the black nail polish off of my nail. I was dressed in my standard dark attire - black, dark blues and purples and greens. The brightest colour I wore was blood red. I liked gothic clothes. Bat earrings and black tutus over brightly coloured leggings and biker boots. People took the hint and stayed away.

I kept my face in a similar way. Pale skin, untouched by foundation - it was simply that way naturally. I just didn't tan whatsoever. My lips didn't require gloss or lipstick, or even balm. I've never worn makeup a day in my life. My dark eyes were framed by thick black lashes. No liner, no mascara. I just didn't wear it.

I did like doing stuff to my hair though. I mostly left it unstyled, simply dragged a brush through it. My thick, wild, ink-black curls that went down to the bottom of my shoulder blades. I didn't straighten it or crimp it or any of that rubbish. I did, however, enjoy putting in coloured extensions. This week's colour was green. I enjoyed shocking people.

I'm sitting on a park bench, holding a photo tightly in one hand. It's yellowed and discoloured, ripped slightly on one side, frayed at the edges, and covered in old fingerprints. My dad's face smiles up at me from the paper. His short brown hair and three days' stubble. He's tired, but happy. The joy is simply shining through his eyes, as cliche as it sounds. He's holding the hand of a woman in a hospital bed, who is tenderly holding a small bundle of blankets. The woman is young-looking, and extremely beautiful. She has unkept black curly hair and there are big purplish bags under her eyes. She looks exhausted. But she's managing a smile for the camera.

My mum and my dad.

I wonder who took the photo? A nurse, maybe. I look at my mum. She looks so like me. I stroke her hair carefully with one finger. She died just hours after the birth, I'm told. Some malfunction of a machine. An abnormal blood disease. Something like that. I forget what it was. I never paid attention.

Now, I wish I had.

I'm wrapped up in that swaddle of blankets. A little, squinting baby with crazy hair and sharp eyes. Dad had christened me Wisteria Allyson Lewin, a name and middle name that he said that my mum had chosen. Wisteria. A plant. Dad said that it was the Wisteria sinensis that she named me after. A beautiful climbing vine. Dad said that her favourites were the purple ones. I wonder what spurred her to name me after her favourite flower. Did she expect me to be beautiful? Sorry to disappoint you, Mum, but I'm just average.

My dad never called me by my full name. He'd call me Blackbird, or Ria. He would call me Wisteria, on occasion, but not often.

I stood up, walking purposefully along the gravel path, even though I had no real purpose. The soles of my combat boots made thumping noises as they hit the ground. I tucked the photo back into the pocket of my shorts. It was getting dark, and I wanted to get back home. Or the place I called home.

I walk out of the park in the twilight. There's only the occasional dog-walker around now. No werewolves. They have a curfew, actually - they have to off the streets at eight o'clock. Just to be safe.

I stomp down the darkening streets, keeping my eyes on the ground. I pass by the partition between one block of flats and the next and shouts stop me in my tracks.

"Give it!" That voice is male, and gravelly.

"I don't - please - !" Another man. Very scared-sounding.

The shadows shift, and I can make out what looks like two figures wrestling. Is he getting mugged? Is he trying to fight back? Stupid, I think. Stupid idiot. Give him what he wants, run, and call the cops. That's what you do.

"HEY!" I yell down the alleyway. The rustling noises stop, and the shadows freeze in place. They're startled. "What d'you think you're doing?" I stride forward, putting on my fierce face and my deluxe death glare. My dark appearance normally scares them.

I can see them better now. A huge, hairy guy with a squashed-in face and a black leather jacket has got another guy in a headlock. The other guy looks only about eighteen, with red-brown hair and a square jaw. He's trying to drag the arm away from his throat, panic taking over his features.

"What're you doing out so late, little girl?" the meaty mugger growls. He tightens his grip, and the other guys starts choking.

That really gets me riled. I draw myself up to my full height (which is about five foot eight) and snarl at him. "Unless you want me to dial nine-nine-nine, you better back off, thug."

He chuckles. I hiss through my teeth, and suddenly, his eyes widen. He casts a disbelieving look over me, muttering "no.....it can't be....." under his breath.

"What?" I sneer, "can't believe that you could ever meet someone that isn't hideous with a face like that?" And, in a blur of fists, I'm sitting against the wall, breathing heavily, blood running down one side of my face. A stinging pain is attacking my skull, and I can feel the blow reverberating through my teeth. I catch a glimpse of a single thing before the hulk drags off his captive.

A flash of a silver Tag.

A werewolf? my mind screams. But.......the curfew........

I reach up a shaking hand and touch it to the stuff that's wetting my hair. My hand comes away scarlet.

I stagger to my feet, and a wave of dizziness rolls over me. Black spots dance over my vision. Ugh. Nausea. I retch behind a wheelie bin, trying to get it out and over with. Disgusting.

I walk home over the course of half an hour, even though it's only a few streets away. I have to keep stopping and breathing deeply, trying not to be sick again. I'm feeling seriously ill now. My head hurts, blood is bubbling up and draining away, and I'm practically dead on my feet.

I manage to open the door to my house and walk in as quietly as I can, trying not to wake up the foster parents. Quick. Bathroom, I tell myself. I'm sick again into the toilet, then look up into the mirror. I look terrible. My hair is now slick with blood. I turn my head upside down and rinse it all off, watching the water run pink until eventually it's clear. I fish for bandages in the cupboard, and wrap it up clumsily. I end up looking like I have a toothache. Just great. I rinse my mouth out with water, brush my teeth to get rid of the sour taste of vomit, then repeat the rinsing. I walk upstairs, leaving my boots by the door, and strip off my now grimy clothes, trembling slightly. I slip on a clean pair of underwear and an oversized black t-shirt with a big gold owl on it. My nightdress.

Tucking myself into bed, I vow to myself that I'm going to try and forget the whole incident.

Kind of hard, when you're wearing a Tag.

But I'm going to be finding that out in the morning.

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