The small clock on the mantelpiece let out its quiet chimes. Adeline looked over the top of her book, scowling at it. She had just gotten to a good bit. She sighed, closing the book and putting it down on the table. It was quarter to five. She had fifteen minutes to make her way to the village square. She stood up, glancing outside as she retrieved her shoes. Outside, it was still bright. Clouds floated lazily across the sky, and the sun was beginning to near the top of the hills. She pulled on her boots, heading outside into the warm air.
She walked into the town square. There were less people here. Only around four. Aeron and Elissa emerged from the village hall, carrying the box that was to be used to stand on. Adeline watched it warily out of the corner of her eye as she looked around the small group. Keelan was talking to Mason. Adeline sighed, walking up to them and waving her hand slightly in a greeting. “Hi.” She muttered, standing up a little straighter.
Keelan raised one of her eyebrows a fraction, questioning Adeline’s presence. Mason didn’t notice, instead letting a smile pull at the edge of his mouth. “Hello, Adeline.” He said, in perfect English.
Adeline let herself smile, ignoring Keelan’s curious gaze. “I don’t think we’ve spoken before, Mason?”
He shook his head. “No, we haven’t.” He held out a hand, which Adeline took and shook.
“Pleasure to speak to you.” She said as she did, stiffening slightly at the contact.
“The pleasure is all mine.” Mason returned, nodding curtly. “Keelan and I were discussing the facility.” He explained, looking back toward the other woman.
Keelan smiled rigidly. “Indeed we were.” She confirmed, her gaze flickering toward him for a second, before returning to Adeline. “How did you find the food there?” She asked, holding her hands behind her back.
Adeline shrugged. “It was alright, I suppose. It was better than the things I make myself, but I suppose that’s probably not saying much.”
Mason’s smile broadened for a second. “I’m sure your cooking is better than you make it out to be.”
“I think all of us have probably suffered a little on the skills side of things. We couldn’t do particularly much, in the space we had. I mean, you could do a bit of cooking, but it was only with really basic ingredients.” Keelan muttered.
Adeline got the feeling this conversation was nothing more than a filler for the awkward silence that would otherwise occupy the space. In some ways, she was glad for it. Without this mindless chatter, everybody’s minds would constantly be on what was about to take place. She hazarded a glance around, as Mason and Keelan agreed on something. There were a few more people, now. She couldn’t think of anybody else who wasn’t assembled here that wasn’t already dead. There numbers were growing smaller with each passing day. There were now only twelve of them. They had lost eight people.
“Adeline?” Mason said, and she turned back around like somebody caught in the act of doing something bad.
“Hm?” Both Keelan and Mason looked at her expectantly. “Sorry, what did you say?”
“What activities did you do in the facility?”
Adeline stared at him blankly for a few moments. “Oh, activities? I did… running, and occasionally reading.”
“Hello, everybody.” Aeron said, breaking their conversation as he stood up on the platform. Adeline turned to face him. He waited a few moments until all chatter had died down. “Without any further delay… let us begin.” He took a deep breath, stretching his shoulders. “The person who has been voted for today, is Adeline Marsden.”
Adeline stared at the stage. Everything went quiet in her mind. She couldn’t hear anything. She could see the trees swaying ahead of her, she could see birds swooping down between them. She could see everybody turn to look at her. And yet, Adeline heard nothing. She looked ahead, completely silent herself. After a few seconds, she felt like a lead weight had been dropped into her stomach. She felt like falling to her knees. She was going to die. All of that hope of getting out of this alive, all of her dreams, all of her sacrifice so far was all going to be for nothing. She had killed three people for nothing. She had murdered them, and now she wasn’t even going to escape alive. Everybody else here was, though. All eleven people would escape from this ‘game’ happily, and live carefree lives. She doubted any of them would really care about her once they found out what she was.
Somebody pushed her forward, and she stumbled. Her feet were like weights, her legs were weak. She glanced back, seeing Keelan, with a slight smile of satisfaction on her face. Adeline felt something else within her. She felt a certain sense of betrayal. Sound returned to her, just as she reached the stage. She looked up, hardening her gaze as she met Aeron’s gaze. He held a look of pity, and unseen torture was hidden within his mind. Of course, Adeline thought. He was clueless to all of her troubles. As were most of the people here. Adeline stood a little straighter, stepping up onto the box. She didn’t want to die.
The rope was slipped around her head, and tightened on her neck.
She saw Emlyn. He looked devastated, staring back at her, mouth slightly open, eyes wide with fear. She wondered what would happen to him after she was killed. She took a deep breath, fixing her gaze on the distant hills, preparing herself for what was to come. She wasn’t even sure if she could prepare herself. Her mind flickered back to the images of lifeless bodies swinging at the end of a taut rope. That’s was she was going to become. Adeline swallowed, trying to clear the lump in her throat. She was going to die.
She heard footsteps behind her as somebody came to kick the box for her. She heard a faint “Ready?”
Adeline nodded, squeezing her eyes shut. This was it.
“STOP! Don’t kick the box!”
Adeline opened her eyes, scanning the crowd quickly, hope sparking in her heart, the fire of her will beginning to glow with life.
Kira spoke from the group. “Hang me, instead.” She said quietly, looking up. “I’m tired of all of this. Please. Just… just kill me. I’m the martyr. I can do this. This is what I’ve been told to do. Kill me instead. I can’t take this game any more.” She clambered up onto the stage. Adeline looked down at her, her heart burning with guilt, and a lot more happiness. She was going to live. Even it was only to be for another day, she would live. She wouldn’t die here. Somebody loosened the rope, and Adeline was all too glad to step down, and hop off the stage. She came to a halt beside Emlyn, who was staring at Kira with awe.
Kira stood in Adeline’s place, staring defiantly at the horizon.
There was a thud, and the snap of a rope as it caught the weight of a person, then the creak as it swayed from side to side with a weight at the bottom.
Adeline looked back. She had looked away this time, more out of respect than anything else. This woman had just sacrificed her life, and Adeline had survived because of it. Even though she hadn’t known her, Adeline felt some form of friendship, some form of gratitude. She shut her eyes, thanking whatever was out there, before opening her eyes again, and walking up to the stage to help retrieve the body. She felt that this was the least she could do, for the service that Kira had done to her.
Gretchen held Kira up slightly, letting the rope that was holding her go limp. She looked away as she held the body. Adeline could see tears beginning to form in her eyes. She clenched her fists, taking a deep breath, before gently removing the rope from Kira’s neck. Gretchen shivered, swaying slightly under the dead weight. Adeline hurried to help steady her, and took hold of Kira’s armpits. Gretchen held her ankles, and the two of them started shuffling toward the village hall. The crowd watched in silence, nobody daring to say a word. Adeline sighed. Everybody was getting emotional over another death.
It took her a second to realise how cold that thought was. She shut her eyes, taking a deep breath, before pushing open the door to the village hall. She didn’t know where the coffins were. She looked to Gretchen hopelessly. Their gazes met momentarily, before Gretchen overtook Adeline, leading them toward one of the doors leading off.
It lead into a dark, cold room. There was a table in the middle, with a large, wooden coffin on it. Piled up in the rest of the room were other coffins, all in the same, fairly crude style. There was a distinct smell of damp, even though the room was above ground. Something about it made Adeline feel sick. She shuddered, lifting Kira up so they could put her in the coffin. They arranged her body to look as peaceful as they could, Gretchen taking far more care than Adeline. Adeline looked away guiltily as Gretchen shut the lid.
The two of them stood in silence for a moment, not moving, before Adeline turned around, picking up the large spades, and putting it on top of the coffin. The head and feet sides of the coffin had small, metal handles. Adeline took one of these, while Gretchen took the other, and they lifted it up, walking back out into the main room. Gretchen lowered her end, surprising Adeline. She didn’t know how they were going to get out, although she assumed it would be through a back door, as the front door to the village hall was now closed. Gretchen confirmed this, walking toward the back of the room, pulling back a wall-hanging, to reveal another door. She twisted the key in the lock, pushing it open. There was a large courtyard. Adeline took a deep breath, starting to move as soon as Gretchen had lifted the other side again.
They put the coffin down beside a small patch they thought was fitting for Kira. Adeline took one of the spades, while Gretchen took the other, and they started digging down into the fairly hard ground.
It took a while to dig, but even then the grave wasn’t as deep as it could have been. It was getting dark, however, and both Adeline and Gretchen knew that they had to be back in their own homes before night fell- both for drastically different reasons to the other. They lowered the heavy wooden box into the hole, before picking up their spades again, and starting the long, tedious task of re-filling the hole, and patting down the ground to make it look as undisturbed as possible.
When the job was done, they both returned their spades to the dark, coffin room, locking the back door as they went. They stepped back outside, through the front door, and exchanged short goodbyes, before they both headed off on their separate ways. Adeline couldn’t help but mutter a quiet apology. It was her fault that Kira had died.
Night fell soon after, the moon rising into a cloudy sky. The clarity of the day’s blue had faded, and the dark grey of storm clouds had returned. Every now and then, all moonlight would be blocked out as a particularly thick cloud passed in front of it.
Adeline’s transformation this time seemed all the more painful. She felt like she had been taken from a trance, and was facing the full blown pain of years and years of growth and change. She felt like she was experiencing billions of years worth of evolution in a few short minutes. It was painful.
When that pain left, though, she felt more alive than ever before. The heightened senses had returned, and her thoughts were clear. She had only one thought, only one goal. Find her prey for the night.
Both the Detective and the Seer discovered the identity of the Doctor, while the Doctor decided to protect Gretchen Wembley.
Adeline stood over a corpse. She looked at it carefully, feeling not a single drop of remorse. Somewhere deep within her, she could tell that this was wrong. She bared her teeth, inhaling the scent. Her hunger rose again, clawing its way up inside her. She looked at the body. It wasn’t just a body. It was meat. Something she could eat. Again, she felt the tug of unease. But this time, it was fainter than before. She didn’t let it hold her back.
The forest was quiet at this time of night. The initial buzz of nocturnal activity had worn off, and many creatures were either hiding or hunting. She padded through the trees, keeping her head low. The sky was dark, not only because of the time of day, but also because of the thickness of the clouds. Adeline couldn’t see the moon. She came to the small stream, looking at her reflection for a few moments. All she saw was the muzzle of a wolf, all she could see were the eyes of a beast. She shut her own eyes, lowering her head down to drink. Somewhere further away, another wolf howled.
Adeline raised her head, reddened water dripping through her fur. She looked in the direction of the village, tilting her head to one side. Again, something nagged at her. She was meant to be doing something that night.
It came to her a few moments later, when the howl subsided. The other werewolf- the wolf cub. Emlyn. Adeline shook herself, trying to rid herself of the water, before raising her muzzle, and letting out her own howl. She couldn’t recognise her own voice. She felt like a human in a wolf’s body, like she was sharing it with whatever remained of the creature. She could feel its urges coursing through her, charging through her mind at every single possibility. She hadn’t noticed how hard it had been to keep herself in check until now. She felt a pang as she remembered the mauled corpse of one of the other villagers, before lowering her head once more. She looked into the distance, waiting a few seconds, before charging forward. The village square. Midnight. It was roughly that time now, wasn’t it?
Adeline stuck to the shadows, circling the village square over and over, winding through the alleys, dashing across the streets, as she waited for the second werewolf. It was five past when she saw a second figure cautiously make its way onto the cobbles. Adeline halted, creeping forward to the edge of one of the alleys. She tilted her head to one side, looking at the other creature with curiosity. It was far smaller than her, and looked more human than she did. She spared a glance at her own paws, before looking back up. It didn’t have much of a muzzle. Slowly, she emerged from the shadows. The creature turned to look at her. It stood on only two feet. She stood on four, baring her teeth as she approached.
The other werewolf hesitated a few moments, holding its paws close to its body, before taking a few steps forward. Adeline halted, leaning down slightly so they met nose to nose. Instinct guided her from there. She looked directly into its eyes, while it averted them, staring at the ground a little way ahead of her. After a few moments, Adeline snorted, circling the werewolf slowly, examining him. After a while, he spoke. That surprised her most of all.
“It is me, correct?” Emlyn said. Adeline could see how rigid he was. He was nervous. Scared.
She stopped, and he turned around to look at her. This time their eyes met head on. She tilted her head to one side curiously, shaking her head slightly. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to speak in anything more than snarls and growls. Something told her that Emlyn wouldn’t be able to understand that.
He looked at her carefully. Adeline noted how close his eyes were to his normal colour. Her own had changed from a dull green to a bright yellow-orange. “Why are you so surprised?” He asked, frowning. “We’ve met before, like this.” He stopped for a few moments. “Although, you… don’t remember, do you?”
She dipped her head in agreement.
He sighed. “Alright then. Yes, I’m smaller than you, I’m more… ‘human’ than you, you could say. I’m probably what would be classed as a half werewolf. Maybe I’m not even that. You’re…” He trailed off, looking up at her and shuddering. “You’re the real thing.”
Adeline sat down. This didn’t help the height difference.
Emlyn broke the eye contact, looking up toward the sky, blinking away the rain. “So, have you… killed someone tonight?”
She gave a short growl of warning. Adeline didn’t want to speak of what she did. Of course it was her fault, and it was wrong that she should feel so secretive about it when she did little to stop herself, but Adeline couldn’t bring herself to comment.
Emlyn looked down, staring at the ground. “Sorry.”
Adeline huffed, turning around to face the darkness of one of the streets. She looked back at Emlyn, tilting her head to one side. She was bored of hanging around, and there was no further point. She didn’t want to be asked anything else, and trying to talk like this, was… hard.
He stared at her blankly for a few moments, trying to work out just what she was trying to tell him. “Oh. You want to leave?”
She kept watching him, flicking her tail to one side.
“Okay then.” He sighed, shaking himself. His fur fell in ripples.
Adeline started walking back toward the shadows, looking back when she reached the opening to one of the streets. Emlyn raised a paw in goodbye, turning around and starting to walk in the opposite direction. She raised her muzzle, howling once more to a moon she couldn’t see.
She paused for a second, listening until Emlyn howled back, before she set off again, listening to the thud of her paws against the tarmac.