The fire crackled, spitting embers into the night. Carl sat as close to the fire as he could, trying to stave off the biting chill in the air. The price of being away from home during the full moon meant having to make do with whatever secluded spot he could find, and this spot in a snow-covered woodland was the best he was going to get.
"Well, I can't sense anyone. Should be safe," Bev said, clapping him across the shoulder as he came and sat beside him, warming his hands by the fire. "Bloody cold though."
"Tell me about it. I'm not stripping in this weather. I just hope he has the sense to hide somewhere warm. We'll freeze to death out here otherwise," Carl said.
Neither of them were looking forward to this particular transformation. The winter had been the worst they'd experienced, and away from their regular haunts, anything could happen.
"Ahh, we'll be alright, I reckon. He hasn't let us down yet. Remember that old barn we saw on the way in? I reckon that'd be a decent place to wake up. Looked secure enough," Bev said.
"Pity we don't have time to head over there now. Moonrise is less than ten minutes away," Carl said, checking his watch.
"I know, I can feel it. Least it'll be over with soon," Bev said.
They fell silent again, staring into the flames. It was about 3am, and no one in their right mind should be out in that weather. There'd been more snow earlier in the day, but it had since made way for utter coldness and a chill that sapped the energy from any living thing caught out in it. But werewolves had no choice in the matter. They transformed as long as the moon was up, no matter what time that was. It was always more dangerous when that cut into daytime. They didn't need to be run out of another town for killing someone because they transformed too close by again.
As the faint glow of the moon began to show on the horizon, both became restless. They stood, putting out the fire as they prepared to change. Neither bothered stripping either; they'd packed some spare clothes to change into afterwards, rather than risk frostbite and hypothermia by exposing themselves to the cold. They did, however, at least pack away their thick jackets and gloves, knowing they'd need them later.
At the sight of that first beam of moonlight, it began. The eerie silence of the forest echoed with a cry of pain as they fell to their knees in the snow, their clothes ripped from their bodies as the wolf took over.
Carl woke first. He had made it to the old barn, and the old wolf had even managed to climb up to the loft for some extra warmth. He was quietly impressed at its sensibilities; it wasn't usually so concerned about his welfare when he wasn't a werewolf, and he'd grown used to waking up in all sorts of strange places.
Carl still didn't remember much of what happened when he transformed, but they'd grudgingly opened a line of communication at the cusp of transformation. It wasn't much, and the wolf was not big on words, but it was better than it had been. Obviously he had got the message about the barn.
Getting to his feet, Carl searched around for his bag. He'd gradually trained the wolf to keep it close by, or at least to stow it somewhere safe where it could be retrieved later when he was looking for somewhere to change back. Looking around, he found it lying beside a crate by the wall. Retrieving it, he gladly dressed, appreciating being warm again. While the barn sheltered them from most of the harsh chill, it didn't stop it all, and there was a cold wind drifting through the old timbers.
Sitting on the edge of the loft, he rummaged around in his bag for his cigarettes. He lit one as he searched the rest of the barn for Bev, eventually seeing him sleeping against a bale of wool. Grabbing his bag, he climbed down the ladder and sat beside him. Bev was still sleeping and Carl took it upon himself to find his bag and bring it over, as it had somehow ended up at the other end of the barn, hidden in an unused horse stall.
It was the cigarette smoke that eventually roused Bev from his slumber. He rolled over and gazed up at Carl, blinking wearily. He noticed he had some scratches on his body, but they weren't bleeding any more. He'd have to clean them up later when they were back in civilisation.
"Oh, hey, I see we ended up in the barn," Bev said astutely as he sat up.
"Yeah, they listened for once. That was nice. Still, looks like it'll be bitterly cold out there though. Come on, get dressed. We've got a gig tonight, remember?" Carl said, handing him his bag.
"Shit. Well, we'd better get out of there then. I hope the van's not too far away," Bev said.
Carl got to his feet. "I'll go look. You stay here."
The van was back where they'd left it, the first place Carl had thought to look, and he'd hitched a ride with a passing car as it was on the other side of town. All that was left to do was drive back and pick up Bev and then head in to find the rest of the band.
Neither of them talked as they drove back. Transforming always left them tired, especially when they were on tour as well. They'd have to catch some proper sleep on the way home and get through the gig as best they could. But Carl didn't mind. He'd done it many times before. It was something he'd have to get used to.