The war was over, but the nightmare of it lingered. It would pale in comparison to the nightmare that was about to begin. At first, Evan Jennings thought it was a dream, locked in a cage with a beautiful woman, but then the maniac in black showed up. It was obvious he wanted something from the girl, but what did he want with Evan?
Macy had been a lone wolf for a long time. Never really fitting in when it came to any pack structure, she’d spent most of her life blending with the human population. Her knack for choosing when to shift rather than having it dictated by the phases of the moon made it easy for her until Matthew showed up.
How was she supposed to know that Matthew was actually The Hangman, Mathias Young? Now she was here, locked in a cage with a hapless human male who had no idea what the real monsters looked like, or that she was one of them.
I almost felt bad for him if he wanted to try anything. I was both stronger and faster than a human and even though I didn’t have training when it came to a fight, I more than made up for it in both brute force and resiliency. I didn’t know why they threw him in here, but by both the looks and smell of him, he was just human. I stirred uneasily and shrank back when he shifted to turn in my direction.
What if he was a misdirection? Sent here to gather information and win my trust? He would have a hard time of it. I wasn’t so easily fooled, which is why Matthew… I mean Mathias’ betrayal stung so damn bad. I’d swallowed his bullshit hook, line, and sinker…
I felt a sudden pang of loss for my little seaside town and wondered if I would ever be able to go back to my flowers and herbs. I’d taken such a solace in nature, since the beginning and for as long as I could remember. In some ways, I’d found it fitting that I’d been turned into such a wild thing, it almost brought me home after a fashion. Of course, it had been a short-lived reprieve from the world of men when I’d been indoctrinated into pack life. As much as we were neither man nor beast. Only humans could take something as beautiful, as pure, as the way true wolves lived their lives and screw it up so badly with their rules and their laws…
The man stirred, pushing himself to his hands and knees, and I flinched back into one of the bars. Electricity coursed along my skin, chewing down my nerve endings like a horde of angry fire ants. I yelped and he reared up reaching out towards me. My breath caught in my throat and I held very, very still, a hair’s breadth away from the bars.
Cognac eyes met mine, a need to help and protect spilling out of them in such a raw, emotional way, that there was no way he’d been sent here as a plant or a ploy. He looked me right in the eyes and his hand immediately dropped. I blinked, the tenuous thread between us snapping under the ridiculing laughter of the guards. I hugged my knees to my chest, suddenly self-conscious about my nudity. My wolf looked on through my eyes which were more of a chartreuse, running her gaze over my new cell mate.
“It’s okay, I don’t want to hurt you, just please… please don’t scream like that again.” He looked crestfallen and crawled to the opposite corner of the cage from me, kitty corner, as far as he could physically get.
“Sorry,” I found myself apologizing, “it hurt.”
She seemed surprised to find out that I was a human being. How had she been brought up to think I might not have been? Or to think that she might not be? Her breathing had evened out an hour ago but I hadn’t been able to fall asleep as easily. Fear and uncertainty kept me wired and alert despite my best efforts to sleep. As a soldier, it’s common practice to grab a bit of shut-eye whenever you can, you never know when you’ll next get the chance. When I was deployed I’d never had any trouble getting a few winks when I needed to, but for some reason, being in that place just had me too messed up to even try now that I was back in the civilian world.
I lay there, curled up into the tightest ball I could manage, trying to cushion my head on my arm, but nothing I tried made the situation any more comfortable. I could feel my anxiety ratcheting up more and more as the minutes passed by. I was already wound up and tense and the situation just kept making it worse. I bit the inside of my cheek, telling myself over and over that I needed to calm the fuck down. I really didn’t want to go into a full blown panic attack and accidentally hurt Macy. She didn’t deserve to be locked in a cage with an animal like me.
My eyes stung but I blinked away the threatening tears as a wave of self-loathing crashed over me. Here I was, locked in a cage with a young girl that was probably scared out of her fucking mind and I was the one trying not to bawl like a little baby. God, I was pathetic.
I sat up as quietly as I could. Her breathing remained deep and even so I figured she was still asleep. Drawing my knees up to my chest I crossed my arms atop them and rested my chin on my forearms. I stared at her long hair, splayed across the stone floor, lying against the steady rise and fall of her slender back and wondered. There had to be a reason that we were here, these people were way too organized, way too prepared for this to be a slapped together operation. They were efficient, methodical, and practiced, not to mention cold. They’d been doing this for a while, and I had to bet that we weren’t the first ones to be snatched off the street by these fuckers. So far, there was nothing to indicate who they were, or who they worked for or what the fuck they even wanted.
The only unifying thing I had noticed was several of the guards had a tattoo behind one ear. A simple red cross with four equidistant arms. I racked my brain trying to think of any organization that might have used that symbol. No military or government had such an emblem, that I knew of, so what could it mean? The common placement meant something. It wasn’t a coincidence, it couldn’t be, but what could it mean?
Text Copyright © 2017 A.J. Downey & Ryan Kells
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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