Loud and urgent knocking on my door forced me to open my eyes. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a big mistake, as the sun entering the room through the window immediately blinded me. A terrible pain shot through my whole skull, I grabbed my temples and waited for the pain to pass. Another bang on the door, so loud that I heard it echo in my own head.
"I'm coming! I’m coming…" I groaned and got to my feet. Another bad idea… Disapproving pain and numbness hit my body. Still holding my head, and keeping my eyes closed, I staggered down the stairs and headed for the door.
“For God's sake Andrew! Finally!” Simon stood in the doorway in his police uniform. "We've been trying to reach you all morning!" All morning? I looked back at the clock above the stairs. I couldn't focus on it, even the slightest movement blurred my vision.
"What time is it?" I muttered almost incomprehensibly, my own voice shook my skull.
"What time is it? Seriously? It's half-past one!” Simon snapped, examining me. "God, what were you doing yesterday?" Without waiting for an answer, he walked into the house and continued talking. "It doesn’t matter. We have to go to the hospital.” I closed the door carefully to make as little noise as possible. "Two people died last night and one man ended up in the hospital."
"What?" Through the pounding of my temples, I could barely hear him, but I didn't need him to repeat it.
"Yeah, it happened pretty deep in town, which is weird. But there's no time for that now.” He looked at me again, disapprovingly. "Well, what are you waiting for? Get dressed and we'll go to the hospital, the man is not talking to anyone. He asked for you personally.”
Me personally? Why? But I couldn’t possibly ask that now. I scrambled upstairs to the bathroom. Two dead men. One in the hospital. The city… Blood… Flesh… It wasn't a dream. It really happened. If I didn't have such a bad headache, I might have had a panic attack. But due to the pain, I couldn't concentrate on anything else. Blood… Flesh… My God, I ate them! I couldn't stand that thought, I bent over the toilet and threw up. I stopped, washed my face, and then threw up again.
Breathe Andrew, just breathe. You’ll deal with this later… The man, you have to go after him. I swallowed all the painkillers I had, put on my police uniform, and, with shaky legs, went downstairs.
"Finally," Simon muttered, tossed a sandwich at me, and headed for the car. Looking at the ham made my stomach heave again. I tossed the sandwich in the trash and sat down in the passenger seat. My eyes burned from the blinding sunlight and the roar of the engine made my headache even worse, so I didn't hear a single word coming from Simon's mouth. When he handed me a cup of black coffee, I almost drank it in one gulp and then proceeded to feel sick as it hit my empty stomach.
We arrived at the hospital in record time. From the outside, I heard the familiar deafening sounds I had learned to hate. As soon as we entered, the smell of disinfection, disease, pain and death paralyzed me for a second. But Simon grabbed my arm and dragged me across the building to our destination. The entire second floor was filled with journalists and police officers trying to drive them away from one room.
"Finally! Where have you been? This is a police emergency!" I didn't have time to say anything, Caroline grabbed my free hand and pushed me through the crowd into the room.
And there he was... He was young, very young, I would’ve been surprised if he was over twenty. His brown hair was tousled and his deep blue eyes stared absently out the window. Only now did I wonder if perhaps he wanted to talk to me because he recognized me. Did he know who attacked him? No, it wasn’t possible, I was a wolf, a beast... A monster...
"He refused to talk to his father, he refused to talk to a psychologist, he refused to talk to the police or animal control. In the end, he said he will only talk to you," Simon whispered. There were two people from Fish and Wildlife, Caroline, Simon, me, and the man.
"Henry? This is Andrew Cross. He came to talk to you," Caroline announced softly. The man finally looked at us, and as soon as his eyes met mine, his pupils widened. He sat up – which resulted in a painful moan - and held out his hand.
"You don't even know how glad I am you came!" His voice was weak and hoarse. I remembered in horror that I had sounded like that after the attack aswell. Did I make him into the same monster I was now? I looked anxiously at his bandaged shoulders. I remembered the satisfactory feeling as I dug my claws into his flesh. I didn't care at all that I was hurting him, I admired my own retractable claws. Oh my God…
My gaze turned briefly to Simon. The monster had bitten him before, too. Did you experience the same thing as me yesterday? If he did, he hid it brilliantly. Maybe it didn't always get passed on… Whatever it was… I rubbed my temples. Am I really going to think about this right now? Damn, there were so many more important things at hand…
"Are you okay? You look a little pale.” Henry looked at me and nodded to the chair beside his bed.
"Stupid rabies shots," I grunted and finally shook his hand. He had a firm, political grip. Then I sat down in the offered chair.
"I guess that's something I get to look forward to, isn't it?" He grinned and continued to stare at me in amazement.
"Hopefully not," I whispered almost inaudibly and then went straight to the point. "Mr. Staiton may I ask why you wanted to talk to me?"
"Because you're the only one who'll believe me!" he said almost desperately. "Everyone would think I was crazy - only the two of us know the truth!" Why is so much going on all at once? What am I supposed to tell the boy? 'Sorry I might have turned you into a monster yesterday, will that be a problem?