We arrived at the hospital and went through all the usual things… Good day, I am officer Cross… Where did the attack happen? Can you describe the attacker? What was stolen? Don't worry, we'll find him… I went through the motions while my mind kept me distracted with my own problems. The older woman began to describe her attacker. Brown hair, brown eyes, sharply cut chin, big nose. More than her description though what seemed to engrave itself into my mind was the intoxicating smell... The familiar smell of evil… It was not hers, just stuck to her body, where the attacker held her so he could rob her. The peculiar smell of a man who used Old Spice and owned a dog. I didn't even know how I knew that at all…
When I returned, Caroline sent me to tidy up the archives, then forced me to listen to the experts arguing about the weird behavior of these two wolves. I felt miles away as a mere spectator watching my own tragic story from behind a television screen.
Simon kept staring at me all day, like he wanted to talk to me, but always changed his mind. And I myself prayed for silence and solitude.
Finally, when darkness fell over the city, I clocked out. I headed to Alexei's bar. It was still quite early, so it was empty.
Alexei greeted me with a wide smile. "Hello, Andrew, whiskey?" he asked, wiping the last smudge from the bar.
"No, not today." I sat down on a bar stool and rubbed my face. "I actually came to ask you something." Alexei gave me a curious look, a towel thrown over his shoulder and the lights of the bar reflecting off his bare head. "The day I was attacked by the wolf. I was here at the bar, and so was Amelia, the dead woman,” I began. Alexei's expression fell immediately. "Do you remember her? She bought… a Bloody Mary if I'm not mistaken.”
"I… yeah, maybe... I don’t remember all the people that come through here... She wasn’t a frequent customer," he replied reluctantly.
"Just try to remember, please. Was anyone with her? Did you see her talking to anyone?” I prayed he could remember. Her husband was sure she had an affair with someone. She had to come here with someone. She had to… Right?
"No… eh… I… No?" Alexei obviously had the same problem as me. Something was wrong here. I felt like I could just barely see her in the back of my mind, but then it all went fuzzy… "But I should have camera footage," he said. Yes! This little triumph sent a new batch of energy through my body. "But why do you need to know? She was killed by a wolf. "
"I know… I just… Please, Alexei, may I have a look?" I said, hoping he could see the despair I felt. Alexei looked a bit unsure at first, in the end, this was something one usually needed a warrant for, but eventually, he gave in.
"All right, fine, come with me." I followed Alexei into the back room, filled with many cases of alcohol, a few boxes of chips, and nuts, and then a desk with a computer. He sat down and clicked away for a bit until the camera footage appeared. "Just press play," he announced, walking away at the sound of new customers at the bar.
"Thank you," I called after him, but then I was finally alone and with a potential lead. With a deep breath, I found the approximate time of my arrival and pressed play. The quality wasn't exactly the best, but I recognized myself and Simon entering the bar and sitting down. For a while, I just watched myself and Simon drinking and talking to Alexei. Then finally I recognized Amelia. Even though the image was black and white, her brown wavy hair and red dress were forever imprinted into my mind. She immediately headed for a table in the corner and there... There a man waited for her. Black hair with unnatural white highlights and his dark brown eyes immediately came to mind. How could I forget him? Not even Alexei remembered him. It had to be him then, how else would he disappear from everyone's memory?
I snapped a picture of him just so I wouldn’t forget again then turned off the camera and left the back room. Alexei looked at me questioningly. I forced myself to hide both the enthusiasm and terror and simply shook my head. No one could know before I got to talk to this guy.
I walked home at a quick pace. I finally found him. It had to be him right? I got home at about ten pm. There was no time to go look for him. I would shift quite soon, I could feel it in my bones. I quickly changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt, and headed for the forest.
Alright… All I needed to do was avoid him tonight and confront him tomorrow. I prayed to God that Henry would stay home tonight... For some reason, I felt almost relieved as I walked into the forest. The wind just seemed to sweep away all my fear and anxiety. Once I found a secluded spot I quickly took off my clothes.
For a second nothing happened and I almost wondered if maybe I could stop myself from shifting today. Maybe I could stay human. I had to learn to do so someday. But thinking about staying human for a whole night didn’t bring me relief instead it made me feel almost sad. I wanted to shift, I wanted to be welcomed by the forest. Did that mean I was okay with endangering others just so I could feel the thrill of running through the forest on all fours? The answer came in the form of familiar pressure in my joints and muscles. I gave in to it without thinking. My body convulsed and I cried out as my spine began to move, my legs shortened and all my muscles moved into place. Ants seemed to run over my skin as I gave in to the Best inside, my previous question answered. Yes...