A night covered in layers upon layers of smoke-filled fog made an already dense forest not the safest place for a girl like Styla to plunge through. Yet, slowing down wasn’t an option for her at that exact moment. She couldn’t say specifically what she saw through the bushes, but the closest thing that she could come to were eyes that appeared to be burning with fiery red flames. As she witnessed these all-consuming, scorching pits watching her every move, she backed up slowly, so as not to trip on any of the old Cypress Knees lazily shooting from the wet earth. Her racing heart made her feel as though she were running backwards. It seemed like she would jump out of her skin at any given moment.
Then it growled.
But ‘growled’ wasn’t the right word per say, she thought frantically, just the only one she could conjure in her mind at the time. It was more like a demonic rumbling that blasted from the creature’s mouth, as if it were thundering and lightening from every orifice on his glowing body. As soon as she made it to the edge of the clearing, the beast jumped out from the thicket that was protecting him from her sight. In mid-air he snarled, and clawed, as he was coming down upon her. Frozen, all she could think to do was cover herself with her arm, as she felt the weight of him knock her over.
Screaming with all her power and might, she sat up sweating. She patted the covers, her arms and face, then the covers again – just to be certain she was where she thought she was – at home, in bed, and apparently having werewolf nightmares again. Her therapist and she hashed the reasoning of this nightmare out many times over, but none of her therapist’s suggestions to rid herself of this “inconvenience” were working. So, eventually, she just quit going. Why pay sixty-five dollars per thirty minute session for nothing? She was living on a teacher’s salary, so the word ‘budget’ was definitely one that her lifestyle was familiar with.
She looked over to her right; the clock was flashing four forty-five. Wait, she thought, did she loose electricity during the night? Why was the clock flashing, and why was it so hot in her apartment? She picked up her cell phone, and saw that it was only two in the morning. She reset her clock, and her alarm, then laid back down – doing her best to cool off. Her hair was soaking wet, as well as the t-shirt she had fallen asleep in. She checked her arms and legs, and as usual, the same red slashes were all over her body, and were already getting lighter, as she pulled the sheet up underneath her chin. As she tried to fall asleep again, she realized that they didn’t freak her out any more. It was becoming a routine for her to see them at night. Then, in the morning, they’d be gone, as if they were never there to begin with. She shivered at the thought. She always believed that she was scratching herself during the nightmare, which is another reason why she cut her nails down, but she had no explanation for the quick recovery, or the rate that her finger nails would grow back. At first she considered it was the new vitamins that she had started to take, so she threw them out, but her nails continued to grow at an abnormal pace.
After a long bout of tossing, turning, and ruminating, she decided to get up and get ahead by grading some of her kids papers. Lord knew her stack was getting higher and higher, since she had mid-term papers to assess too. She’d tossed the blankets from her body, pushed her feet into her old granny slippers, and then headed down the stairs to put a pot of coffee on. While that was brewing, she jumped in the shower to cleanse herself of sweat, tears, and tense muscles. About fifteen minutes later, she was back in the kitchen pouring the rich, liquid bean into her favorite mug that one of her kids gave her for her birthday. It read, “I’m a teacher, what’s your superpower?” She thought it was the sweetest thing, and it was one of her favorite gifts out of all those she had received from her students.
Picking up one of the stacks, her red pen, and her mug, she headed to her office. The apartment was still warm from the electricity being shut off, but for some reason it still wasn’t cooling off. It just kept getting hotter and hotter. She checked her thermostat and it was still on the sixty-five degree mark that she set it to, before starting her coffee. It may not have been enough time to get super chilly – the way she liked it at night – but it certainly shouldn’t be getting warmer. She felt her head with the back of her hand. Maybe she had a fever, and so the apartment felt hotter than what it actually was. She found some medicine in her office that had a fever reducer in it, but wouldn’t make her to drowsy to grade the papers.
As her knees were bending to sit in her chair, the doorbell rang. What the hell? She looked at the battery-operated clock on the wall – four forty-five, it read. Huh, she thought, that was really strange. It was the same exact time that her clock read when the power went out. The doorbell rang again. She turned the lamp light down as low as it would go. Maybe her visitor would think she went back to bed, and would go away. It had to be one of her neighbors that noticed her kitchen light on. They probably wanted to have an early breakfast and coffee, but she just didn’t have the time for that, not to mention, she still felt weird from her dream, and wasn’t in the mood for company.
Ring, ring, ring.
The doorbell again. She huffed, but decided the only way to make them go away was to answer the door. So she stood, then headed for the backdoor in the kitchen. The light was on, and was casting a reflection in the window, so her visitor was shadowed, and she couldn’t discern who it was. As she approached the door, her body was taken over with chills and sweat. She knew she was coming down with something, but what she was feeling was just ridiculous. She turned the knob on the door, slowly opening it, hearing every creak, then poked her head out the door to see who was out there. She saw nothing, but felt something which she could not explain. She quickly closed the door, locked it, and then turned around.
There he was. The werewolf from her dreams, but in the form of man. How did she know that was him, she wondered.
“Because you can hear my thoughts” fell silkily from his lips. Then he said, “And I can hear yours.”
“Come to me”, he commanded, and she found herself walking in a lazily direction toward the beautiful man-creature. As she approached him, her body began to make small changes, but noticeable ones nonetheless. He opened his arms, and she walked right into them.
“Your transformation will be extremely painful when you wake, but it will end, and will be worth it once you’ve turned. You will be my life-mate.”
He picked up his hand with one very long fingernail. She tilted her head to the side waiting for it, expecting it- wanting it so badly that her body shook with desire. In the next suspended moment, she felt a burning sensation like never before, and the last thing she remembered was falling into his arms.