The trees swayed in the breeze, birds were chirping and the sun was beaming down on me through the leaves and gaps of the trees. It was peaceful to say the least. The warm earth felt delightful between my toes as I wiggled them. I breathed in the fresh air and looked down at the town below. It was strange to think, three months ago, everything was normal. Three months ago I still went to school, still hung out at the park in the evenings, and was still a normal teenager. A single night changed all of that. Jay calls it ‘the night of the bite’ and makes a joke out of it, but I know he feels the same as the rest of us. Jay, Rose, Delilah and I were camping in the forest on the hill that looms over the town. Wolves weren’t meant to be anywhere near where we were; it was the wrong time of year for that, no-one said anything about werewolves though because no one thought they actually existed. I closed my eyes and remembered the night, three months ago; three moons ago.
It was a full moon, yeah, very cliché, and we were sitting on logs around the little fire we had set up, watching as the little sparks drifted off into the air before fading. The crackles of the fire were relaxing and the night air was cool, but not cold enough for us to be freezing. Spring was finally arriving, which meant summer was too.
“Jace, pass me the beer,” Jay said from across the fire. I picked up the tins and pulled one out of the ring for myself.
“Catch,” I said as I threw the beers over the fire. I heard the cans hit him on the head and laughed.
“Not funny, dickhead!” Jay yelled at me, Delilah nudged him and laughed.
“We’ve only been off school for a week and you already can’t catch! So much for your cricket skills!” I laughed.
“Shut up,” Jay said. He cracked open his can and the sound of the fizz quietened us. Rose leant her head against my arm. I stroked her soft black hair.
“You alright?” I whispered.
“Yeah, just feeling a little tired.”
“You can go to bed if you want,” I said, Rose was my little sister. Although we were born ten minutes apart, our birthdays are on different days. It was a pain for our mum to organise things, we still found it hilarious though. We’re identical twins, but our personalities couldn’t be more different.
“No, it’s okay,” she said. My head snapped up as I heard Delilah scream.
“Jay! You utter idiot! You’ve got beer all down my jacket!”
“Oh for goodness sake, Delilah! It’s only a little drop!” Jay rubbed at her coat.
“Stop it!” She shouted at him. He held is hands up in mock defeat.
“Really guys?” I asked. They looked at me with confused faces. “We’re meant to be having fun, not screaming at a little bit of spilt beer!”
“This jacket was expensive! And now it’s going to reek of beer thanks to this tool!” Delilah was rubbing at her jacket frantically.
“Rubbing it in isn’t going to help, sweetheart,” Jay taunted. Delilah gave him the most evil glare I had ever seen. Her brown hair fell over her face. Delilah was the ‘rich one’ in our group, her dad was CEO of some sort of mega-successful company, and she was the heir to it one day. She looked as though she was from the Amazon, but her father was a pale, ginger man and her mother had hair as fair as the sand on a Caribbean beach, yet Delilah was blessed with hair as brown as dark chocolate and her eyes were amazing. They were a brilliant emerald green. Jay’s features were the opposite, his eyes a dull hazel, his hair a brilliant blond. He was tall, only slightly shorter than I was, and he was muscular, his strength was the one thing he could always rely on. I looked at my sister and shook my head; she smiled and rested her head on my arm once more. Jay and Delilah carried on squabbling but I ignored them and focused on the dense forest behind them. The darkness was almost welcoming and I felt a strong urge to wander through the night. As I thought about the pros and cons of this idea, I noticed a hunched silhouette stalking through the trees. None of the features were distinguishable, but I immediately thought it was a hunter who had been injured. I stared at the figure and watched as it slowly moved in the darkness. Suddenly it stopped and faced me, eyes glowing red.
“Jace?” Jay asked. I pointed at the figure and he turned and jumped back, pulling Delilah by her sleeve.
“What the fuck is that?” Rose whispered next to me.
“I have no idea,” I said. I stood up slowly, pushing Rose behind me. The figure stared at me, almost as if it was beckoning me forward, daring me to go closer. I slowly took a step closer. Rose grabbed my arm.
“What are you doing? Are you insane?!” She hissed at me. I held my hand out to stop her from following me, not once did I take my eyes off the creature that was silently calling my name. I walked towards it, gaining confidence at its lack of response. I could hear the others trying to get me to come back but right now all of my attention was focused on this thing in front of me, their voices were just noise in the back of my mind. I stood two metres away from it, staring straight into the glowing red orbs in the spaces where the eyes were. I took another step forward and the creature let out a growl. It didn’t faze me, this thing was daring me and I never turned down a dare. I took another small step forward. The thing growled again, the menacing sound vibrated through my entire body.
“What are you?” I whispered.
“Run,” a soft voice whispered. The creature snarled loudly as if responding to the voice. It growled queitly started to walk quickly towards me.
“Fuck!” I shouted as I turned and ran for my friends. “Run!” I heard Jay yell something and drag the girls away from me and the beast that was chasing me. I saw Rose stumble and fall, and watched as Jay slung her over his shoulder and ran with her, her bright blue eyes gazing after me as she screamed at me to run faster. Delilah was running ahead, letting her long legs carry her forward. She ran towards town and Jay followed her. I couldn’t lead this thing towards my home, towards my family.
“Keep running, I’ll catch up!” I shouted as I turned and ran back into the forest. I heard Jay and Rose shouting behind me, their voices getting quieter as I ran further. I could also hear the creature’s feet pounding the floor behind me; I glanced back and saw it on all fours, running faster and faster. Shit. I wasn’t going to outrun it, I couldn’t. I could feel my legs growing weaker and weaker, and my lungs started to burn. The beast snarled and I felt a heavy claw land on the back of my leg.
“Argh!” I screamed as I fell onto the ground. I grabbed the nearest stick I could find and started swinging it in an attempt to hit the beast. I could hear it let out what sounded like a laugh. The moon was shining brightly through the trees above me and I could see it clearly in an opening. It was almost as if the light was taunting me, as if it could see everything going on around me as clear as day, whereas I could only make out shadows.
“Give up Jace, this is your destiny,” the gruff voice said. I could hear it moving around me in a circle and I considered making a run for it. Then realised it would catch me up again. I threw the stick in anger.
“What are you?” I asked, keeping my voice strong and steady, trying to hide the frustration the filled me. The creature rose up and howled in response, blocking out the moon from my view. I saw it clearly for the first time, fangs shining brightly in the remaining light I could see. Its eyes shone a blood red and for the first time, fear seized my entire body I was frozen to the ground. When it had stopped howling, the beast flung its paws down, one either side of my body. I could it breathing on my face; it was hot and smelt sickly.
“This is your destiny, Jace. Yours to take, or mine to force upon you.” The beast growled again.
“I will not become a monster like you!” I yelled into its face. I could feel the saliva from the beast’s mouth drip onto my face. I wiped it away in disgust.
“A monster like me?” The voice sounded more human. “Jace, you already are a monster like me, you know you are. Why else would you have sought me out? You know that saying, ‘seek and you will find’? Of course you do, you’ve read the Bible.”
“I’m nothing like you!” I shouted.
“Oh, but you are. Can you not feel the connection? Can you not feel your soul tugging at you, trying to reach mine?” The beast’s voice was completely human, a deep male voice right next to my ear, and instead of paws at my sides, there were large hands.
“Who are you?” I said defiantly. I could feel the tugging in my heart now, I realised it had been there since I first saw the figure. I realised that that was what was daring me to go closer; to approach my beast.
“You’ll find out,” the voice warped as it spoke, turning more into a growl.
“Oh for fucks sake,” I shouted out of frustration. “Tell me!” All of a sudden I felt a sharp pang at my side and immediately reached down to find the beasts mouth embedded in my skin. I cried out in pain as he chomped down again, numbness filled my body and I felt myself go limp. My mind was still wide awake, though I could feel the numbness flowing through my veins, through my neck, my pulse weakened and I tried one last time to defy the beast that was on me, but felt nothing move. The beast shuddered and I faintly felt it withdraw its teeth from my abdomen. I could hear it breathing my ear and the saliva dripping down my neck. It let out another howl before running away, leaving me alone. Finally, darkness invaded my mind.
Drip. Drip. Drip. I frowned sleepily and wiped away the freezing drops of water that had landed on my face. My eyes flew open as I realised I shouldn’t have water dripping onto my face. I looked around and closed my eyes in despair as I remembered the night before. I opened them again to stare at the canopy of trees above me. I sat up and flinched as I felt a shooting pain in my side. I gasped as I pulled my soaked jumper up to reveal a bite mark, each tooth perfectly marked by a puncture in my skin.
“Fuck,” I breathed as I slowly stood up. I looked around the dense forest and realised I had no idea where I was.
“Fuck!” I said louder this time. It was just my luck for it to rain on the night that I get bitten by some psychotic beast, and then to pass out in the middle of a forest. I started walking in the direction I thought was home; the earth was muddy and as I walked, my shoes were sticking in it. I could feel myself changing and getting weaker with each step I took. I leant against a tree and slumped down so I was sitting with my back to it, trying to stay calm. I could feel the panic rising in my chest. Crack! I heard someone stand on a twig behind me and turned around quickly and yelled out in pain; my abdomen felt like it was being ripped in half by Satan himself, a burning sensation gushing through my whole body. A loud chuckle came from behind me.
“Who’s there!?” I shouted my voice was shaky and weak. I craned my neck as far as I could but I couldn’t see anyone. I looked around frantically, trying to see where the threat was coming from. I heard another chuckle and looked behind me once more.
“Just little old me,” a deep voice said. The voice came from in front of me and I whipped my head round to see a man of at least 30 standing in front of me.
“Who are you?” I asked, my voice was as cold as I felt.
“How’s the bite?” He asked with a smirk on his face. I pulled myself up, trying desperately to hide the pain on my face.
“You did it!?” I yelled. “Why?!”
“Jace,” he said. “It’s your – “
“Don’t give me that ‘it’s your destiny’ shit!” I was getting frustrated.
“Calm down!” The man shouted back at me. His hair was a golden brown, just long enough to flop over his forehead; his eyes were auburn, almost red and burned with some sort of desire. He wore dark blue jeans with a tight white T-shirt which outlined his muscles. He took a step forward.
“Don’t come any closer!” I warned.
“I’m trying to help you,” he said. He held his hands up so I could see them and see that he wasn’t going to hurt me.
“Who are you?” I asked again. This time my voice was calmer and stronger, the way I wanted it to be. He took another step closer.
“From this day forward I am you guardian, your mentor and your friend.”
“Woah, deep,” I said rolling my eyes.
“Enough sarcasm, Jace,” his voice was stern. “Come on.”
“Small problem,” I said.
“What?” I could tell he was getting impatient. And I decided to make him even more impatient.
“Your gift to me is in a slightly inconvenient place,” I said. When he didn’t reply I sighed and pointed to the bite. “I can’t walk; too much agony.”
“Oh,” he said. “Okay.” He strode over to me and picked me up.
“Ow! Watch it!” I yelped as he slung me over his shoulder.
“Sorry,” he said bleakly. “We’ll sort that out soon.”
“Where are we going?” I asked, watching the trees pass by me.
“Home,” he replied as he started to run. Surprisingly I wasn’t being jolted, and the trees started to pass me by faster and faster. This can’t be real, I thought. The trees were just a brown and green blur now and the speed he was running at was inhuman, the wind breezed past my ears so fast I could hear it, my eyes were whirling and I was getting dizzy. Soon enough the dizziness was too much and I felt my consciousness slipping away for the second time. Fuck, was my last thought.