Beep… Beep… Beep… The annoying sound made my ears hurt, though until I groaned in irritation I didn’t even realize I was awake. I didn’t dare to open my eyes yet. I didn't want to see what was next. Would I see heaven? Hell? Or nothing at all? Would I see my torn, mutilated body? Surprisingly, nothing hurt. Beep. Beep. Beep. Wait. That sound was familiar. Where have I heard it before? Dr. Francois to the emergency room. Yes, that was it, a hospital...
Ready for the pain, I slowly opened my eyes that seemed to be glued shut. The white light paralyzed me for a moment, but I was right. I was in a hospital. I lived? I tried to move my fingers. A terrible pain shot right through my arm. I groaned, barely recognizing my own voice. It was a raspy, deep sound. I scowled at my arm and saw that I had an IV attached to both hands and my whole body was covered in white bandages. I laughed almost hysterically. As if these white pieces of rag could hold together what was left of me. As if they could replace my poor flesh that lay in the monster’s stomach. Look at me, I’m a rag doll! I laughed and laughed until my whole body ached, but even then, I couldn't stop. I survived! Stupid Monster, look! I lived! They stitched me back together, like a broken plushie! Who cares that half the filling is missing?
"Andrew?" I blinked to chase away the tears so I could look at the source of the soft voice. A young woman with brown curly hair and hazel eyes full of tears stood beside my bed, a frightened and worried expression on her face.
"Ashley," I grunted at my sister. What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in New Orleans? Am I in New Orleans? I sighed in frustration since my mouth seemed incapable of forming a sentence.
"Oh, Andrew." Somebody stroked my hand, I turned around stiffly. The whole room swam with the movement. On the other side of the bed stood an old man. There was only a slight hint of the former charcoal color in his gray hair. His hard, black eyes full of authority refused to reveal any emotions. Even sixty years could not soften the body of a veteran who still held a military stance.
"Chill out, they stuffed more painkillers into him than I think it's legal." Simon, yes, I recognized that voice. He lived. He walked to the bed, beside my sister, and smiled at me lazily, his brown eyes were gentle. He had a white patch on his head, half-hidden by his brown hair, and his arm was bandaged aswell. "How do you feel?"
"Great," I mumbled ironically. What happened to the wolf? How did they find us? Did they kill him? Did they shoot him? All the questions were on the tip of my tongue, but I didn't really want to know the answers. Why should I care? I lived, and that was enough. I survived and now I was a mummy. The world was great. I closed my eyes and fell asleep accompanied by the annoying beeps and familiar voices.
The next morning was not so blissful. A dull pain flowed through my body, mocking me. As soon as they offered me more painkillers, I happily took them. But I had a moment of clearance as I waited for the painkillers to kick in and two men in brown-green uniforms from the Fish and Wildlife Department came to question me.
I sighed and made myself sink back into the memories of that horrible night…
Me and Simon went out drinking. The Whisky Creek was our favorite bar in Wadena. It was nothing special, just an old building styled to match the pubs of the Old West, crammed between two shops. There were a few tables and a podium with karaoke. It was dim and mostly quiet with patrons making up the majority of the customers.
“Hey, Alexei, how are ya?” I smiled as I sat down at the bar with Simon by my side. Alexei the owner and barman of Whisky Creek was a tall man with a bald head. Sometimes he could seem a bit frightening but his blue eyes shone with kindness just as his friendly smile.
“Andrew, Simon, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen you,” he said and poured the two of us whisky.
“It’s that damn wolf,” Simon grunted and took a sip, sighing happily as he swallowed the burning liquid.
“Since when does the police chase after rabid animals?” Alexei raised his eyebrows.
“Well, it’s gotten out of hand.” I shook my head and took a sip aswell. Damn did I miss whisky. “But we are just assisting the Fish and Wildlife department right now.”
“It’s just aswell. This devilish creature needs to be stopped.” Alexei frowned as he wiped down the bar top. “Four people dead in two weeks, that’s madness! You should be careful, really careful when you hunt the creature. It is no ordinary beast…” he said somewhat ominously as he looked out the window at the full moon in the sky.
“It’s just a rabid wolf, Alexei, you’ve been listening to too many of your grandma’s stories.” I snorted out a laugh at his serious expression.
But Simon didn’t look all that amused. “It’s kind of weird isn’t it though? I have never seen an animal do something like that…” he murmured almost to himself no doubt remembering the photos of the camping couple. Their bodies were ripped to pieces and thrown around as if the creature was just playing with them. It was horrifying, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t a wolf.
“Rabid animals do all kinds of weird stuff, that’s nothing new.” I shook my head dismissively. “What else could’ve possibly done it?”
Simon turned away obviously a bit embarrassed for even suggesting something like that. Soon we got distracted by some woman who took the karaoke microphone and started shouting to the melody of some pop song.
"I must get rid of the damn thing," Alexei said, there was a smile on his face though.
"If you do, I'll arrest you for treason." Both me and Simon were known for occupying the karaoke stand when we got drunk enough. I had too many fond memories of it to see it gone.
We laughed and talked for a while when suddenly someone shouted: "Two Bloody-Marys!" and smacked the bar top followed by drunk giggling. I turned to find some drunk couple sitting right next to me. The man looked about thirty, he was dressed in an expensive-looking suit, and his brown hair was strangely woven with white strands. It didn't look gray, but I also didn't want to believe that a man like him would dye his hair. A wicked smile was playing on his face, and his eyes were dark, almost black. The woman next to him was wearing a short red dress. She was definitely younger than him, and her brown hair was combed into a complex hairstyle. She had her blue eyes only for the man who hugged her and pressed - in my opinion obscene – kisses to her cheek.
"Come on, move that ass, pretty!" the man shouted at Alexei, who was picking up the glasses. I watched the man, frowning, and wondered if I should do something. For some reason he made me feel very uncomfortable, all my instincts seemed to shout at me to be cautious.
"Like what you see?" The man grinned, and I realized that we were looking at each other. The difference was that my look was hostile, while his was… interested.
"Here." Alexei came before I could answer and set two glasses in front of them.
“It was about time." The man scoffed, threw money on the table, and went away. I followed them with my gaze until they sat at a table across the room. The man looked me straight in the eye and winked. I turned away, frowning.
"I don't understand how you can endure this all day." I shook my head and drank my whisky.
"It makes money, and that's all that matters." Alexei waved the dollar bill in front of my face with a smile. Simon in the meantime ignored all this in favor of the ladies up on the stage. He caught their eye and waved.
“Gonna leave me for them?” I said with a fake hurt.
He grinned at me but shook his head. “Nah, don’t feel like it.” I raised my eyebrow in surprise. He was usually the first one to grasp any opportunity for sex he could find.
We stayed for a while longer, Alexei told us that people wanted to organize a wolf hunt and that there was a growing unease. He also told us some gossip and before I knew it he made us both drink two more glasses of whisky. We paid the devil and left the bar.