When they got to the village hall, it was almost deserted. Adeline glanced around, while Keelan strode into the building as though she owned the place. Today Kira and Elvin stood by the box, making sure nobody cheated. Everybody else was off doing their own thing. Keelan picked up a slip of paper, and started chatting to Elvin and Kira. Adeline sighed, picking up her own slip and a pen. She took a deep breath, and looked up at the ceiling. She didn’t know who to pick. She could technically pick anyone. Well, not technically. She could. To win this thing and get out alive, she would have to kill everyone anyway. There was no point feeling guilty about it, as Keelan had said. She had to stand tall and deal with it. Adeline took a deep breath, thinking back to all the names. After a while, she settled on ‘Gretchen Kennedy’. Then, she folded her paper and slipped it into the box.
She turned around to Keelan, hesitating for only a moment, before saying “I’m going to go check my traps now. I suppose I’ll see you later?”
To this, Keelan merely waved a hand. “Go ahead. Don’t let me stop you.” She muttered, focusing on her paper. Adeline sighed, before walking out and back into the midday sunshine. It was a nice day, she had to say. Despite the dampness left over from the rain the previous day, it was perfect. It was not too hot, yet it was not too cold. There was a certain freshness to the air you only get when it rains. The sun was warm on her skin, but it wasn’t burning, or searing. She stood there for a moment, taking in the sunshine, smelling the air and listening for a second. There was the quite drone of a plane in the distance, cruising through the air somewhere, oblivious to what was going on here. She sighed. It wasn’t as though they could do anything to stop it.
“Well that was rather clever.” Kadan muttered, glaring at his screen. Nolene peered over, looking upon the scene. They watched the conversation between Keelan and Adeline with interest.
“Is this an alliance between the werewolf and one of the villagers?” Nolene said, her voice filled with awe. Something like this had never happened in any test before. Nothing ever paired up with the very things they were trying to kill.
Kadan shrugged, leaning back, putting his feet on the desk. “I don’t really know. I mean, it could be. Although, it wouldn’t make much sense. Why would the werewolf try and make friends within the innocents? I mean, it’s not as though she doesn’t know she’s the werewolf any more.”
“Well maybe she likes to watch people’s faces as they stare at her, their eyes filled with sadness as she murders them?” Nolene suggested, still watching the screen intently.
He stared at her. “I don’t think most normal people are like that, Nolene.”
Nolene pouted at him, withdrawing back into her chair. “Well how do you know that she’s not abnormal?”
“I don’t know, I just have a feeling that she doesn’t want to kill anyone.” He glanced over at her. “I mean, she has said multiple times she doesn’t want to kill anyone.”
“Pfft, that doesn’t mean that she meant it.” Nolene flicked her hair, leaning back toward her own screen, looking at something intently. “Say, how do you think this is going to end?”
“Well we know our wolfy here is going to have at least one constant vote now. She’s going to have to tread very lightly if she wants to survive.” He leaned back as well, running a hand through his hair. “To be quite honest, I haven’t a clue. It could go either way. All it’ll take is for the Detective to notice, then they can both work to convince everyone that Adeline is the werewolf.”
Nolene still sat at her computer, looking at the cameras. She flicked through them for a few moments, before settling on one in particular. She looked back toward Kadan and called him over. “What do you think they’re trying to achieve?”
He folded his arms, looking closely at the screen. “I can’t say I know. We should probably stop them, though. I mean, looking around people’s houses isn’t very fair now, is it?”
“Well, we never said they couldn’t… Besides, what exactly could they find out?”
“You do know that only the Seer and Detective’s houses have a telephone. Only the Doctor’s house has the hidden herbs for werewolf protection.” He gave her a meaningful look. “Do I really have to continue?”
She shrugged. “Well they can’t find out too much.” She muttered, sighing.
“We should at least tell them to stop, with a threat of some sort.”
Adeline looked up from the dead rabbit. Somewhere, someone had screamed. She frowned, putting down her knife and walking back into her house, glancing at the clock. It wasn’t five yet. Nobody had any reason to scream like that. Was something else happening? Did someone have an accident? Adeline ran back outside, pulling open the gate and striding through it. The scream had come from somewhere a few streets away. From the sound of it, it had been right on the edge of the forest. She knew that she could move faster in the forest. She took a deep breath, and settled into a sprint, running as fast as she could toward the source. “Hello?!” She yelled ahead. She didn’t notice how normal she felt. She didn’t feel tired at all. “Is everything alright?” She started to slow, a frown starting to make its way onto her face. The back fences were tall in this area. She couldn’t see above them. Adeline felt a pang of worry move through her. She had to do something, she had to find them. Then, she stopped, looking up at the sky. She was the werewolf, wasn’t she? To live, she needed to cast away these people. To live, she needed them all to die. Why did she have to go to someone else’s rescue, if she was just going to kill them anyway?
This time she felt something else grow within her. It wasn’t worry, it wasn’t defiance. This time, it was guilt. Why was she thinking like this? She looked back toward where she had heard the scream. She didn’t want to stand idly by as someone died. She couldn’t help killing at night, and there wasn’t much she could do during the day, really. Except, of course, give herself in. But she knew she couldn’t do that. There was another scream. That decided it for her. Adeline broke into action running up toward the fence. “Hello? Where are you?” There was no answer.
Adeline glanced around, pulling open one of the garden gates and entering the garden. She paused for a moment, lifting her head slightly. She couldn’t smell anything off- she stopped again, blinking in surprise. She glanced down at her hands. They were still hands. She felt her gut twist. What was she doing? She had only thought of herself as the werewolf since the morning- why was she suddenly noticing all these changes? Why was she suddenly using them as though she was a werewolf? She shut her eyes, squeezing them closed as she tried to reorganise her thoughts. Her mind went blank, and she started to feel fear grow within her. Did she really dread becoming a werewolf once more that much? She only remembered snippets of her first dream, or, should she say, her first time being a werewolf consciously. She could only remember one or two things about it- only the joy she had felt while tearing Reagan from limb to limb, only the feel of the blood caking her claws, matted in her fur. She gulped, shivering. Her hands went to her head, and she tried to clear her head. The more she tried, the more she remembered.
Keelan stumbled out of the house, staring at Adeline. Adeline still stood there, hands to her head, eyes clamped shut. She was moaning quietly. “Adeline?” Keelan asked cautiously, taking a step or two closer. Adeline shook her head, as if trying to clear her head.
“I don’t want to remember.” She muttered, sinking to the ground.
“Adeline, what’s wrong?” She walked a little closer, approaching Adeline carefully.
Adeline opened her eyes, looking up at Keelan. “I remember killing her, Keelan. I remember feeling her warm blood as it… as it went all over my claws…” A tear slid down her cheek.
Keelan sighed, pulling back the hand she had extended. She wasn’t going to reassure her. “Are you going to accept it, or are you going to fight it, Adeline?” She turned around, back to the house. “Wallowing around in your own self-pity at the things you’ve done is going to do nothing.”
Adeline turned her head to one side, as though she had been slapped. After a long while, she spoke again. “Who screamed? And why?”
“A few… people… decided they had grown tired of the stalemate you and the rest of us are in.” She sighed, turning back. Adeline was back on her feet, wiping away the tears. “The organisation gave them a little surprise, which also told us they’ve been watching this entire time.”
“Are they OK?” Adeline muttered, pulling herself back up straight. She had just had a mental breakdown. In front of Keelan. She cursed herself. Adeline knew that she couldn’t trust Keelan. Sure, she wouldn’t tell anyone about it, but who said that meant Keelan wouldn’t try to kill her? After all, Keelan was going to vote for her every single day. She swallowed down her fear, taking a deep breath.
Keelan shrugged. “Yeah. It was nothing more than a scare- it didn’t actually hurt them.”
“That’s good.” Adeline said, trailing off. She looked toward the garden, noticing the flowers. Then she started noticing the smell, and wrinkled her nose in distaste.
“Flowers too strong for you?” Keelan chuckled, looking down at them. “That’s monkshood, you know. Also know as-”
“Wolfsbane.” Adeline muttered, frowning. She glanced toward Keelan. “How come I know what it’s called? I’ve never come across the stuff before. Ever.”
“You know, Wolfsbane was used to kill wolves a long time ago. They say it’s used to ward of werewolves…” She ignored Adeline, too immersed in her thoughts.
Adeline sighed. “Well, I sorta know it’s poisonous.”
Keelan shook her head suddenly, looking back to Adeline. “Reagan had it on the first night. She showed me the flowers. They match these almost exactly.” She paused, before looking back at her. “Where were they on the third night? Surely Reagan would have held them out and tried to protect herself?”
“She did.” Adeline said simply, raising her own gaze to meet Keelan’s. “They did nothing. I walked past them that time. The effect had… worn off, I think you could say.”
“Strange…” Keelan muttered, before looking back toward the house. “Well, I’d better go scold them or something…” She looked back toward Adeline. “I suppose I’ll see you at five.”
Adeline nodded, turning back toward the gate. She started walking forward, intentionally walking slowly. It took Keelan a little while before she finally went indoors. Adeline glanced back, tilting her head in curiosity, before moving back into the forest, shutting the gate behind her. She still had a rabbit to finish preparing. She sighed, and started to run back.
It was five when she came back inside. She put the rabbit meat in her fridge, before turning toward the door. She knew she had to hurry. She would be late if she didn’t. But something didn’t urge her on. Something made her drag her feet as she went. Something made her go slower than normal. She felt as though she didn’t need to visit the lynchings, as though there was no point. Adeline sighed, continuing on wards anyway. The sky was still clear. There were barely any clouds floating across the blue.
When she got to the village square, she stopped in her tracks. She was late, she knew that much. What she didn’t think, however, was that they were going to go ahead without her. Hanging from the rope, lifeless as ever, was Christina. Adeline started at the woman’s dead body, feeling nothing for a few moments. Then, she felt something at the back of her throat, and she turned back around, staring at the road she had just come from. She heard footsteps behind her as two people went to retrieve her body and put her in a coffin.
She didn’t cry.
As much as she felt that she should have, she didn’t. She was sad, of course. But she didn’t cry. Not a single tear was shed by her as she walked back to her house. Not a single tear was shed as she reluctantly made something to eat. She didn’t even cry as she settled down to read until sunset. Was there something wrong with her, she thought to herself at times. She had cried easily earlier, and yet now she couldn’t shed a single tear. She leaned back in her chair, putting her book down.
The one person she talked to at the Facility. The one person she was even partly close to. They might not have gotten on in the best way, but she had still been Adeline’s only acquaintance. Adeline shut her eyes, sighing. She had been thinking about telling Christina. At least before one of them died, Adeline wanted to tell her the truth. She wanted to confide in her as she had asked, she wanted to trust that Christina would understand. She had been thinking it over all day, the thought had never left her mind. And yet, now? Now Adeline couldn’t talk to her. They could laugh as they had before, they couldn’t speak of the old times, they couldn’t enjoy the life they had been given any more.
SShe stood up and looked toward the window. The sky was a deep shade of red. She knew she would black out soon. Adeline knew that she would then ‘wake up’ as a monster. Her gaze dropped to the floor. She felt ashamed, she felt sad, she felt like a bag of emotions, mixed together to form one swirling mess. She massaged her arm subconsciously. It was aching slightly, like the cramps she used to get as a child. Adeline sat back down, and stared at the ceiling hopelessly. She still needed to decide. Sure, the first option sounded like the best, but… She stretched, cursing the dull throb. She had no idea how to overcome the werewolf. She had no idea how she could learn to control it.
Another ten minutes passed. She sighed in frustration, standing up again. She might as well make some tea as she waited. She glanced back toward the window again. The sky was fading to a darker shade of blue faster and faster. The red had gone from the horizon. It was quickly becoming night. Adeline walked into the kitchen, wincing as a bolt of pain ran down her arm. She raised that hand, and stared at it for a few moments, interrupted in her tea-making. Her hand was shaking. Violently. She felt tense. She felt alive. She felt as though something was ready to burst from her skin. She took in a sharp breath, her eyes widening as she realised what was happening. Did werewolves suddenly start to experience their… transformations… once they realised what they were? Adeline cursed, stumbling over to the back door and pulling it open. She was starting to ache all over. Her left arm’s pain was intensifying with ever step she took, doubling at times.
After she’d only managed to stumble a little way out of her house, she cried out. In her panic, she managed to look at the sky once more. Twilight was upon them- Night had fallen.
On Adeline’s doorstep, a small parcel was left, as the last of the light faded from the sky. The Detective discovered another innocent, while Keelan, the Seer, discovered the spellcaster.
The pain she felt was nothing like anything she had ever experienced before. After a while, it started to dull, before intensifying to a degree higher than that she had previously felt. She felt to her knees, moaning as she felt her bones changing, as she heard loud clicks and cracks, as she felt her own body change from that of a human’s to a werewolf’s. She stopped making any noise after only a few minutes, as the pain once more started to ebb. She knew what that meant.
Adeline shuddered, opening her eyes. Everything around her was far more detailed than it had been before. She could see distant hills as though they were only on the other side of the street. She looked through the trees, her gaze piercing through the darkness. Clouds had formed in the sky. There was no moon tonight. Adeline took a deep breath, raising her muzzle to the sky and letting out a long, melancholy howl.
When she lowered her muzzle once more, she was ready. She knew she had to kill someone tonight. She knew should had to, and she might as well get it over with sooner rather than later. She sniffed the air, taking in every scent. She could smell the nearby animals- foxes, deer and rabbits. She could smell the stream that ran through the village, she could smell the mountain air, the smell of cooked food. And she could smell that one, particularly nice smell. She breathed it in, and let it fill her. She let it take over her body, and fill every part of her. Then, she started running. She leaped through the woods, quickly heading onto the roads and streets of the village. Whichever way was faster, she had to find the source of this smell. The sooner she found it, the sooner she could satisfy the hunger that had begun to gnaw at her stomach. The sooner she found it, the sooner she could start trying to control the beast, to find out what she could do.
She kept running for a while, darting into alleys, bounding past houses. She slowed when she found the source of the smell. She stopped when she reached the front door, looking up at Mervin’s house. She paused for a few moments, debating whether she should enter through the front door, or the back. Or, perhaps… She tilted her head to one side, sitting down on the path. She could always go through a window. Her tail shifted slightly, in some rouge attempt to wag. Excitement was starting to boil within her. She started to feel the overwhelming urge to leap in there and spill some blood. She stood up again, wandering toward the window. It was going to be much faster than using the door. Mervin didn’t seem to have noticed yet. She hadn’t heard anything from within.
After a few more moments, her urge to murder anything in the house took over. She leaped forward, the window smashing around her in a shower of glass. She landed on the carpet of Mervin’s front room, snarling and growling. He sat in a chair just in front of her, frozen with a book in his hands. She bared her teeth, taking a step closer. Mervin didn’t move.
He didn’t start moving until she started mauling him to death. And even that was only to try and stop her.
She felt satisfied. She also felt vague horror at what she had done. Adeline looked at the corpse. Then she looked at her paws. Like the third night, they were covered in blood. Her once-white claws were now stained a deep red. She sighed. She liked that colour. Adeline looked back at what was left of Mervin, feeling uncomfortable in the pit of her stomach. She could see his ribs. She dipped her head, turning back toward the smashed window. A cool summer night’s breeze washed over her. Adeline hopped through the hole, landing softly on the other side. Mist was forming on the grass. It washed away the blood, making her fur damp. Then, she started walking back in the direction of the forest, heading toward the large body of trees.
They had left a lot of space around the village. The forcefield wasn’t as small as possible- it went for at least half a mile around the entire village, all trees, except for the small, worn road that lead off into the hills. This gave Adeline a lot of room to roam, a lot of room to wander as she pleased. It gave her a lot of places to explore, to stay and to rest in. She lay in one of these places now, doing her best to lick the blood of her paws. She was clumsy, and kept scratching her tongue on her claws. She gave up half-way through, and sighed, resting her head on a small pile of leaves. Most of what she had done so far had been instinct. She didn’t know how to hold herself currently, she didn’t know how to be a werewolf.
She was pathetic, she decided. If she were to fight against someone, or even something, skilled in fighting, she knew for a fact that she would die. Compared to all the soldiers who killed, she was nothing more than a murderer. Perhaps she wasn’t even that. Perhaps she was merely a wild animal now. The soldiers, they trained for years and years, they charged out into battle, and killed to survive and make the world a better place. What was she killing for? Sure, part of it was survival, but in her place eighteen other people had to die. What she was doing wasn’t heroic, it wasn’t anything special. What she was doing fitted the actions of something above humans in the food chain. She felt guilty for it.
Adeline looked at her paws again. The surface of them was mostly clean- the pads especially. However, in between her claws there was still fairly large amounts of dried blood. She looked away, lying on her side, staring at the sky through a gap in the trees ahead. A thin sliver of moon shone down on her as bright as it could, the silvery light shimmering off the leaves and dew. It was beautiful- even enchanting. And yet she was the only one who could see this. Nobody else could venture out a night, in fear of their lives. As she stared at the sky, a thought came to her. What would the Wolf Cub do? Technically the wolf cub was on her side, technically it would be a werewolf too, correct? So if she found the wolf cub, she would have at least one ally.
She knew what she was going to do. She raised her muzzle from the ground, looking at her paws again. She would find the Wolf Cub tomorrow, and she would protect it.