Adeline spent her afternoon cutting up the rabbit. Skinning it was harder than the book made it out to be. There was considerably more blood than she expected, as well.
By the time half past four came, she had already cut it into small chunks, and had taken the cut meat into her kitchen, put it in a bag and left it in the fridge. She returned to the garden, picking up the leftover rabbit. She supposed she could leave it for other animals to eat, for things such as foxes to pick at. She frowned at the remainder of the corpse, holding it up at eye level. She was surprised at how little this fazed her. She was calm- she didn’t feel disgusted by it at all. If anything, she thought it was completely normal, as though she had seen hundreds and hundreds of corpses. If anything, this scared her. She stepped out of her shed, walking through the gate once more, and walked a little way into the forest, lying the mess of bones and muscle a little way from the path, before returning to her garden. She shut the door to the shed and then headed back inside to clean up.
By then it was time to go back to the village square, to discover who was going to meet their own terrible fate. Adeline suppressed a shiver. Someone else was going to be killed right in front of them. She wasn’t in a hurry to get there. She walked slowly, kicking at stones on the road. Nobody bothered with the pavements. There were no cars to drive on the road, so everyone just walked down the middle.
When she arrived at the village square, almost everyone was already there. This time Aeron didn’t stand on the raised area. Instead, it was Cameron.
“So, hey there people.” As usual, everyone was silent. “For those of you who missed our little… expedition… we’ll fill you in on the blanks.” He took a deep breath. “You know how they left us in this village? A village surrounded with tall hills, with forests all around? A village with only one road out? How they have left it completely open?” He didn’t give anyone time to answer any of his questions. “You know how there seems to be an infinite amount of ways to get out? Well, that’s wrong. There is no way to go out.” Adeline raised an eyebrow in curiosity. There were no walls here, there was nothing to stop them from simply walking out. And even if there were walls, it wasn’t as though they couldn’t find a ladder to climb over with. “See, there’s this thing… that we’ve dubbed the ‘Forcefield’ around us. Put simply… It’s a forcefield. We can’t see it with our eyes, but we can feel it. It’s as solid as a brick wall, and goes in a dome over our heads. It surrounds the village, and traps us in here.” Adeline doubted this. “Don’t believe me?” She looked up, narrowing her eyes. “Go see for yourself. Go out tomorrow and see if you can get out. I’m sure you’d want to, I mean, who wants to be stuck in this hellhole for any longer? This place is a deathtrap, it’s hell on earth! Suicide!” He started to descend from the stage. “Just trust me when I say you won’t be able to.” With that, he stepped off.
Aeron took the stage next, pulling himself up straight, and looking at them all. “Well, after that…” He glanced toward Cameron. “… Cheerful bit of news… We’ve counted up votes. The second person to be lynched is Marija Averill.” His eyes fixed on hers, and she sank to her knees, tears welling in her eyes. Adeline felt a pang of guilt. She had aided in the act of condemning someone to death. Marija was going to die now, and she herself had helped.
Mervin and Rouben helped Marija to the stage, hooking their arms under hers, and pulling her up. The hangman’s post was already up, the rope already hanging. The box had been placed beneath it. Aeron stepped back. He didn’t want to push the box again. And nobody could blame him. Todd stepped up instead, helping the weak-kneed Marija get the rope around her neck. Marija herself wasn’t speaking, she wasn’t look at anyone, she wasn’t moving. She was staring up at the sky, at the hills, taking in the beautiful view of the yellowing sky, her eyes clinging to the distant airplane flying in the distance. Todd muttered something to her, and she reluctantly nodded her head, squeezing her eyes shut as tears flowed freely.
Todd turned his head away, before kicking away the box, wincing as he heard the snap of the rope. Adeline watched, not averting her eyes this time. She glanced around once it was over, noticing with unease that she was the only one who hadn’t turned away. She shifted awkwardly, averting her eyes toward Aeron. This time it fell to Kira and Emlyn to carry the body to a coffin. Emlyn met her eyes as he started to walk back. Adeline frowned, staring back at him. There seemed to be something familiar in his eyes, something that she felt she had seen before.
She shuddered, shaking off the feeling, before turning around and walking away. A few people watched her go, and she could hear the mutters as she got further away. She hadn’t stayed to see if anyone was going to say anything, she hadn’t stayed to see if anyone had any thoughts on who the werewolf was. She hadn’t even stayed to hear what Keelan had to say. Adeline sighed.
When she got back home she decided to put dinner on. She was strangely tired. A sigh escaped her, as she reached up for a saucepan, and put it down on the hob. She got out the rabbit from her fridge, putting it into the pan and starting up the heat. Now she needed something to go with her dinner. She looked around in her shelves, opening cupboards, opening draws, opening the bottom of her fridge. She found a few carrots right at the bottom, and found a chopping board to chop them up on. A little while later she found some rice, and put that on in a pan of boiling water on the second ring. She picked up the chopped carrots, and put them into the same pan. Adeline sighed. Her dinner was going to be far more mix and match than normal, but she felt glad that she would have some meat for once.
While she waited, she went back into her main room and decided to read up further on the traps and snares.
After a little while, the timer went off and she went back in and served it, walking over to the table and eating her dinner.
The moon rose high in the sky a little later, its silver light bathing the valley. The Seer discovered a third Innocent, similar to the Detective, who discovered an innocent. The Doctor sent marigolds to Elvin Webster. The night was slightly cloudy, with the dark shapes frequently obscuring the moon, causing everything to go dark every now and then.
Adeline became aware of herself running, and it felt wonderful. A cool breeze wove around her as she bounded through the undergrowth, twisting and turning between trees, darting forward toward the nocturnal wildlife, startling foxes, surprising deer and chasing off rabbits. She raised her head up, looking through a parting in the trees, feeling the moon on her back, and howled. It felt glorious. A surge of animalistic instincts charged through her, filling her body with a pleasure she had never felt before. She felt the need to run, to chase, to play with something. She glanced around, looking into the deepest shadows of the forest, her gaze piercing through the darkness. She could smell the damp leaves beneath her feet, she could hear the sound of snapping twigs as animals went about their nightly business. She was aware of every sound, every smell. She was at one with nature, at peace with herself.
Then, she smelt something. She caught the scent of something that smelt glorious, something that made her stomach growl. She shut her eyes for a moment, breathing in the scent, raising her muzzle slightly, before opening her eyes, and starting to make her way toward it. She crossed ground faster than she thought she could, leaping over fallen logs, jumping across the small stream. She arrived back at one of the main roads in no time. The smell kept guiding her, leading her through streets, winding through houses, before she came to a halt. She raised her muzzle again, taking a deep breath, savouring the scent. She could see lights on inside the house she had stopped outside. Who’s house was it? She didn’t know.
Adeline took a step forward, hesitant, before regaining confidence and hopping into the front garden. She approached the door, and sat down, staring at it for a few moments. Then, she raised a paw, and leaned on the door. There was a loud crack, and she flinched back, replacing her paw on the ground. There was silence from inside for a few moments, before she heard a hurried scuffle inside. She tilted her head, still watching the door curiously. She wondered what would happen if she broke down the door, if she charged into it and made it snap like a twig. After a few more moments of staring, her curiosity got the better of her. She stood up, bracing herself. She didn’t notice herself growling as she launched herself toward the door.
She tumbled, head over heels, through the door and crashed into the foot of the stairs. She stood up again almost immediately, thrilled by the feeling, enticed by the smell. It was still there- it was upstairs. Adeline turned toward the stairs, glad to see they were still vaguely intact. Even if they weren’t, she would still be able to climb them. She scrambled up them, too excited to hold herself back, and smashed through a second door, entering a room. It was filled with the smell. Every inch of it was covered in the one smell that made her feel hungry, made her blood pound in her body. In one corner, a creature cowered. It was small, timid and pale. Adeline took a step toward it, and it winced, pressing itself further against the wall. She took another step, slowly creeping up toward it. She could smell it, the scent was all over this small, almost pathetic creature. It fumbled with its pockets, producing a crumpled mass of leaves and purple flower. Adeline paused, taking in this new scent, before she continued. The little creature’s eyes widened, and a new wave of panic washed over it. Adeline didn’t care, though. She was enjoying this new feeling.
As she was advancing, she got an urge. She got an urge to play with it, to fight, to play rough. She had the urge to bite into its skin, to claw at the cloth around its body. She got the urge to wound it, or at least seriously injure. She stopped, inches away from it. It stared back at her, terrified. Adeline liked the smell of its terror.
Adeline stopped, blinking in bewilderment. She looked around, confused. She was in an unfamiliar room, somewhere she’d never seen before. She felt something warm and wet on her hands, and tried to raise them to her face. She frowned. Her hands wouldn’t reach that far- they wouldn’t move past something else, something that was trapping them. She looked down. Large, clawed paws were what greeted her, amongst the remains of another human. Adeline looked at her paws for a while, not quite processing what was going on.
When she realised, she raised her muzzle, howling in place of a shriek. Her breathing quickened, and she pulled away. Bloody paw-prints followed her, staining the carpet as she backed away to the far corner of the room. She could recognise the corpse now. She could see the face, realise exactly who it was. Reagan lay there, her ribs torn open, her face covered in her own blood. Adeline looked back down at her paws. Had she done this? Were these really her paws? Adeline looked back and forth, noticing the metallic taste in her mouth. She tasted blood. It was warm and sticky on her fur, caking her muzzle like frosting.
She opened her eyes, and stared at her own ceiling. Sun filtered through her curtains, sending beams of dust-filled light into her bedroom. She lifted a hand, staring at it. It was her hand. It wasn’t a paw. She put it back down, staring at the ceiling again. It had been a nightmare. Nothing more than a nightmare, nothing more than the dread of finding out that she was the werewolf. As if she was the werewolf, Adeline thought to herself. She couldn’t be the werewolf. She would know it.
She felt a weight lift from her shoulders. For a few moments there, she had felt the panic rise within her, the dread, the surprise and the repulsion to herself. She was glad she had woken up. Adeline took a deep breath, and sat up. She could go about her life as she did any other day, she could do what she always did.
Adeline was still shaken when she ate her breakfast, occasionally missing her mouth with the spoon as she ate. In the end, she changed her clothes again. Getting milk all over them didn’t seem like the most grown up thing to do. She sat back down on her bed when she was done, running a hand through her hair and looking toward the window. It was a nice day outside.
After a little while, she went to the village square. She was pale, and small things kept reminding her of her dream. It had felt so real. She stumbled into the center, glancing around nervously. It seemed as though everyone was here, as though nobody had yet gone to look for the victim of the night. Adeline looked frantically around at the faces of everyone here. She saw Elvin, Annelise and Keelan, just to name a few. The latter turned around, and saw her. The Seer walked over to Adeline, taking a deep breath. “Giselle Kennedy is innocent.” Keelan turned away, heading back into the crowd. Adeline walked toward the crowd, standing awkwardly near the edge. It was a mass of chatter, everyone muttering about the previous night, recalling various noises they heard or didn’t hear, sharing who was protected, and how. After a while, a question began to echo through the crowd.
“Did anyone die?”
Adeline lowered her gaze to her feet, and took a deep breath. She raised her head up, pulling herself taller. “I… I think Reagan was killed.” She said, her voice raising above the others. Everyone fell silent, and all eyes turned on her. “Don’t ask me why, I just… I just have a feeling.” Adeline faded out, looking away.
Emlyn stepped out of the crowd, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll go check.” Mason stepped out beside him.
“I’ll go too.”
The two men started to walk toward Reagan’s house. Adeline hadn’t seen her within the crowd. A dread began to grow within her, until she remembered something. Reagan was protected on the first night. She would be so stupid as to get rid of that one thing that protected her, would she? Reagan would still have it, and she could have used it on the werewolf. Then… Then Reagan wouldn’t be dead, shaken, maybe, but not dead. Adeline calmed a little. It was plausible, and far more likely than she herself being the werewolf. Or at least, she hoped so.
Adeline stared into space. She was kneeling on the dry ground, head tilted slightly upwards. Annelise and Christina sat beside her, trying to get her to move. Reagan had been carried back by Mason and Emlyn. Her body had been as mangled as Adeline remembered. She shuddered. The image was still imprinted in her mind. She had to speak to Keelan. Ask her to investigate her, ask her to find out what exactly she was. But she couldn’t tell anyone else. If she told anyone else about her nightmare, then they might start suspecting her, and then Adeline herself might die.
She felt a pang of guilt. If Adeline was dead, and she was the werewolf, then nobody else would die. If Adeline was the werewolf, then wasn’t she better dead? Wasn’t it better if she died for the others to live? Adeline sighed to herself. She knew full well that she wouldn’t sacrifice herself for all these people she barely knew. She wasn’t a selfless hero from the books. Even if she decided she would here, by the time it came to actually admitting it, Adeline knew that she wouldn’t. No, instead she would just ask Keelan to find out. Keelan wasn’t stupid, Keelan would know that if she started to tell anyone, then Adeline would kill her, as the voice on the radio had said. Well, that was, if Adeline was the werewolf.
It was getting harder and harder to convince herself that she wasn’t the werewolf. The nightmare hinted that she was. The reality hinted that she was. She took a deep breath, returning to the world. Annelise was looking at her, worried. At least she would know by tomorrow.
“Adeline?” Christina was leaned to one side, looking at her former roommate with concern. “Hello, Adeline? Are you in there?”
Adeline blinked. “Yeah, sorry.” She shifted her legs, sitting down properly on the cobbles. “I… don’t know what happened there.”
Annelise patted her on the back. “You just sank to the ground as soon as you saw Reagan. I’m gonna go out on a hunch here, and say you didn’t expect that?”
“Haha… no.” Adeline said, all to conscious that she must sound nervous. “I just… got the feeling… and then she wasn’t here.”
“Oh well. There isn’t much we can do now, is there?” Christina muttered, standing up. The woman was being decently serious for the first time since Adeline met her. She wasn’t sure whether this was good or bad.
Adeline sighed, pushing herself up. She looked around, and frowned. “Where’d everyone go? They were all here just a few…”
“You were out for a while, just… staring into space.” Annelise said, giving her a nervous smile. “They’ve all gone to help out and pay their respects.”
Christina stretched, looking over toward the village hall. “So who do you think killed Reagan? And Cahal? And technically Edan and Marija as well?”
“Well… there’s no proof of anything. The Seer hasn’t said anything, nor has the Detective. So we can assume they probably don’t know either.” Annelise bit her lip. From the way things were at the moment, they were screwed.
Adeline shrugged. “I guess we just keep voting for people, and see if we get the werewolf… I mean, we’ll probably get to it eventually, right?” She hoped she had managed to hide the growing dread in her voice, hoping that neither of the two had realised what she was yet.
“Eh, I suppose so.” Christina started walking toward the village hall. “Might as well go and vote now.” She said. Annelise followed her, while Adeline hung back.
“I… I need to have some time to myself first.” She called after. Christina raised a hand to indicate she had heard, and kept walking. Annelise looked back, frowning with concern. Adeline started off in the other direction. She needed to speak to Keelan. Before she wimped out of it, she needed to ask her. She could vote after.
It didn’t take particularly long to get to Chapel Alley. It was finding number 5 that took the longest.
Chapel Alley wasn’t a simple straight road. It twisted and turned, winding on and on. It was near the edge of the village, where the forest started to get thick. Adeline passed a house every few hundred meters. The road started at number 15, and ended at number three, down at the furthest end. Number five was a small cottage hidden within a small group of trees, at the end of a long, overgrown drive. By the time she had reached the front door, she had no question of why the Seer had been placed there.
Adeline stood on the small porch, glancing around nervously, before knocking on the door. For the first few moments, there was complete silence. Then, she heard the sound of someone moving around inside, and footsteps walking toward the door. Then, Keelan opened the door.
The woman looked her up and down, frowning. “Why on Earth are you here?” She said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
Adeline stood there awkwardly, shifting her weight from foot to foot. “I… I have a favour to ask.”