Birmingham, July 1968
Roy would squeal like an excited child every time I bit him. It was partly why I kept on biting him. I just loved that tittle squeal, that small hint of fear, and how he'd pull away at the last minute, nursing the injury. He'd gaze at it with a mixture of awe and fear, as if he couldn't believe I'd bit him.
He was the first, you see. If it hadn't been for that squeal, I doubt I'd have kept on biting him or the others. But he just made it so adorable. He wanted it, as much as he was still a little scared by it. I just needed to bite things, and he was willing to let me.
It didn't seem to matter where I bit him either. I could grab his hand and bite on the skin, completely free from any sort of sexual context, and Roy would still squeal. He would tense up at the pain and then stare at the resulting marks afterwards, as if they were the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. He'd rub them tenderly, easing the pain away. If I was feeling nice, I'd bring him close and lick the wound til it stopped hurting. He'd curl into my embrace and I'd pretend I cared.
There had been that one time before a show. I'd snuck up behind him in the dressing room and bit his earlobe. Actually, not bite. Nibbled. Roy duly squealed, and flinched. He reached for the dresser to steady himself. He spent a few moments rubbing his ear afterwards before I stopped him and started licking instead, sucking softly on the skin. I ran my teeth over his neck, the urge to bite down hard growing inside me. I felt him shiver. I could smell his fear. I held back.
He saw me transform one night. I had lost track of the time, and the moon rose without me. The pangs of transformation took over. I screamed at him to run, but he just stayed there like a bloody coward, watching me transform. He was so frightened of me, and the wolf inside, the wolf outside, he wanted to kill. I wanted to kill.
I leapt at him, biting down hard on his shoulder. That's all I remember. The wolf scratched at him, digging deep wounds into his chest. A dog barked downstairs. It was the only thing that would've stopped me. I. The wolf. We have an irrational fear of dogs. I left him in a bloody mess and fled.
I woke up after moonset under a bridge. I was naked and dirty. There was blood under my fingernails, and some wounds on my chest. Bloody wounds. I'd got in a fight again. I just stayed there in shock as the wolf informed me about what we'd done. Never in my life have I wanted to kill myself as much as I did then. I nearly flung myself in the river, but chirpy bloody Bev appeared. I didn't say a word as he took care of me. I wasn't sure what I'd say anyway, even if he'd asked.
"Roy got mauled last night. They're not sure he'll make it."
I barely took in the words. I almost wished he'd die, just so he could never tell anyone what had happened to him. I didn't want him to live and discover he'd been cursed like me. It was the difference between life and death. If you survive, you're cursed. If you die, you die free.
"They said it looked like a big dog. Roy kept pointing at the sky, whispering something about the moon. You reckon a werewolf got him?"
I think I cried then.
Ace took it in his stride. He didn't care who saw the bruises. He liked looking scarred and a little beaten up. It was part of his identity. It made him look tougher than he sometimes felt. I never snuck up on him. It happened when it happened, and Ace sometimes took pleasure in goading me into biting him, just for kicks. It used to get me so angry, but I managed to hold it at bay.
He'd shove me around, and I'd shove him back. I'd get so close to him. I could hold him in my hands. I could smell the blood in him as I bit softly on his collar bone. I sometimes imagined that blood all over my hands, lapping it up like a vampire. Devouring him. Devouring everything. His flesh smelt so sweet I could almost taste it. God, I disgust myself.
When we were alone, when no one was watching, things were different. Ace would lie there in my arms, and I'd nibble tenderly on his collar bone, nip at the skin on his neck, and he'd cling to me, the pleasure bringing him to tears. I could get really close to his neck though. He was so delicate, and fragile, and I'd hold him close, right where I wanted him.
He'd let me tuck him into bed, and gently tend to the bruises. He would hiss in pain if I pressed them a little too hard, and if I managed to add a few more, well, Ace wasn't about to stop me.
He was too trusting. I thought I'd never do it again. We were both wrong.
I just remember the aftermath. Hiding in a barn somewhere, there was more shock and more blood under my nails. I'd dreamt about it. Had him in my arms like always, only I was transformed this time. He was terrified, but he couldn't escape as I bit down on his throat. All I remember is his half-strangled cry for help. He-he struggled. I didn't let go. There was so much blood.
How the bastard survived I don't know. Maybe it's how God punishes werewolves, by keeping their victims alive to compound all the fucking guilt. I didn't even have the courage to kill myself, not even after that. I'm such a weak bastard.
Trevor liked it best when he was stoned. I never indulged, but it didn't matter. Trevor was willing to lie there while I bit him all over his body. Trevor would smile, and the pleasure would go straight to his head. I could just crawl all over him, press him down, bite him everywhere, and leave him covered in marks.
I'd strip him naked and cover him with bites. I was so close to him. I could smell the blood, the fear, and so many times I wanted to take him. Sometimes we had sex, but not always. Trevor would let me fuck him hard, and the more bruises there were afterwards, the better. He liked being roughed up a bit. I never held back much, except the wolf's bloodlust.
I should've known I'd gone too far. He was stoned out of his head. When I transformed, he just laughed and said I'd turned all hairy. His lack of fear angered me. But he had a dog too, and I lashed out at Trevor in fear as it barked at me. I fled, hoping one day I would have the courage to stop hurting my friends.
I should've known Bev would work it out. I think the attack on Trevor was the one that made him realise it was me. He waited until the next full moon to confront me. We were both wolves then. He attacked me. If the wolf hadn't been in charge, I think I'd have just stood back and taken whatever he wanted to throw at me. Instead, the wolf fought back.
I didn't hold back with Bev. Bev didn't hold back either. He scolded me, told me I was a dangerous animal and needed to remember that I'm still human. I lashed back at him. I couldn't answer. I still can't answer.
The biting was more dangerous when we were transformed. With fangs and stronger jaws, our bites punctured skin and broke bones. Blood matted our fur, and the adrenalin and exhaustion went hand in hand.
But they were all there that night. All of them. Scared and afraid. Angry at what I'd done to them. I'd cursed them. I'd turned them into werewolves like me. They all attacked me. I lashed out as best I could before they overpowered me. Selfish weak bastard. That's all I am.
How I survived such a vicious attack, I don't know. It should've killed me. I should've died. I wish they'd killed me. But they left me alone, bloodied and half-dead. I remember hearing dogs again. Maybe I looked too dead to bother with. It was the last thing I heard before I blacked out.
I didn't hear about the carnage until after I'd transformed back. I was aching and tired, and there were some vicious wounds on my body still. It wasn't immediately obvious I was in the back of a van, let alone that there was another there with me.
As I sat up, I saw a werewolf lying beside me, unconscious. Badly injured. I guessed they wouldn't change back for a while. We always stay as wolves if we're badly injured. It's the only way we survive. Werewolves can heal those wounds. We'd already be dead if we were human.
I could feel the van moving then. I shifted and looked over to the front. Bev was driving. "What the hell happened?"
Bev angrily hit the dashboard with his fist. I didn't realise he'd been crying until he spoke. "Bloody dogs, that's what happened. Fuck, I knew this would happen sooner or later. I just knew it. They took my dad, and now they've taken Roy and Trevor. Fucking bloody stupid dogs!"
Everything went cold. I didn't want to believe it. I sat back against the side of the van, staring at the werewolf opposite me. Roy and Trevor were dead. So that must be Ace. I almost reached out and touched him, but there was too much guilt.
I think I cried then.
I woke feeling groggy and tired. Everything ached, and I mean everything. I could barely move me body from all the pain. Horrible bloody pain. Never felt anything like it before in me life. I couldn't tell where I was. I was inside somewhere. My vision wasn't good enough to work out where I was. It was all post-transformation pain as well. I was human again. I didn't quite know what to do with that. Where was I?
Searching my memories, the last thing I remembered was being a werewolf. Out in the snow, or wherever it was we were. I could still feel the wolf inside me, but it was still such an alien feeling I ignored it. First transformation, that was. Bloody terrifying, if you ask me. There were still vague memories of what I'd done as a wolf floating through me head. I wasn't awake enough to know what to do with those memories.
I couldn't get up. For ages, I just lay there, starving and sore. I was half asleep when a body seemed to fall down beside me. It shocked me awake enough to roll over and see if it was a dead body. I saw Roy, lying there beside me. He looked half-dead to me. It was the last thought I had before I found myself drifting off to sleep.
Next thing I knew, I'm lying in a cage with Roy. I couldn't tell if it was the same place, or somewhere else. But I could see properly now. Sitting up, I didn't get very far before I whacked me head on the bars above. I tried to get comfortable, but the cage was altogether too small, and I could only lie there beside Roy.
I shoved him. "Roy. You awake yet?"
He seemed to take a deep breath as he shifted and tried to sit up. "Yeah, yeah, 'm awake. Where are we? What the hell happened?"
I cringed as he hit his head on the bars just like I'd done. "Better watch yer head. There's not a lot of room here."
Roy shifted. His movements were stiff and awkward. He probably hurt as much as I did. We were really close once he'd settled. We were both naked too. More than a little embarrassing, I might add. Not that anything happened like that, but, y'know. But Roy clung onto me then, trying to warm himself up. He was shivering, and his skin was bloody cold. I did me best, but there wasn't a lot I could do. Tried not to feel too weird about having a naked Roy in me arms.
"W-Wolf. There was a... Wolf," Roy murmured.
"Shh. I don't like this at all. We could be in real danger," I cautioned.
I heard Roy crying. I began to get scared.
I can't remember how long it was before we saw someone. I didn't recognise him. Looked a bit weird too. He was about as tall as me, with messy dark hair and a scar down his neck. But, y'know, odd-looking. We were dragged out of the cage and given some blankets. We wrapped ourselves up as best we could. It was the only warmth we had. The stone floor was icy and did nothing to warm us up.
"This way, yeh mutts," the man growled.
We followed. What else were we supposed to do?
It was only when we got outside, in the courtyard of what looked like a very old Gothic castle, that the wolf began to come to mind again. It was the night of the full moon. The moon was not up yet, but Roy and I could both feel it. We were going to transform. I was both scared and excited. If this man was the only one keeping us hostage, we could easily escape and make our way back home, wherever that was.
"Drink this. It'll stave off the wolf. You'll keep yer minds," the man said, handing us a flask.
I wasn't drinking anything just yet. Could be poison for all I knew. "Who are you? What's going on here?"
He turned to face us. "Drink it. New bloods, aren't yeh? Go on, get it down yer gillet. Moon's about t'rise."
I looked at Roy. He looked terrified. We drank the stuff. It tasted awful. And then we transformed.
That's literally the last thing I remember. It's all a bit of a blank after that. I don't know where we were. Somewhere. Still a wolf, too. Not certain we'd actually transformed back since that night. It was a weird state to be in. The wolf told me to go away, that it would shield me from the horrors of what was going on around me. So I went away. The wolf took over. It's a kind of unconsciousness. The wolf takes over and I remember nothing at all. From what little the wolf's told me, it's probably for the best. It makes it hard to write down what I remember because I don't remember a lot and the wolf is still guarded about everything. I think he's trying to protect me sanity. Maybe I should be grateful for that.
At least we've stopped fighting at last. Whatever it was that happened there, we've made our peace. Perhaps that sort of shared trauma was enough to make that happen. Transformations aren't as painful anymore, and there's more communication between us now. It ain't perfect, but it's better than it was. If I'm going to have to live with this wolf for the rest of me life, I'd like to be friends with it.
I had asked the wolf where we were, and he said it was some sort of farm in Wales, or maybe England. The wolf wasn't entirely sure about the location. The wolves he'd seen were used like pack animals. Some drove carriages. He said he'd seen some walked about like pets. Guard dogs. The whole idea frightened me. We were trapped there, unable to escape, and we were treated like animals. We were all werewolves. Every last animal there was a werewolf, apart from the dogs that were used to keep us in line. Apparently we got bit one week for trying to escape. I wondered why me back leg ached. Dog fucking bit me. Us. Him.
I hadn't seen Roy since we'd first been trapped here. Couldn't work out where he was. We'd had these horrid collars around our necks. Big heavy leather things. Normally, wolves can speak telepathically but those collars stopped us doing that. It was awful. I couldn't talk to anyone. But I knew which wolves had been there the longest. They'd have this horrid glazed look in their eyes. Eyes are a bit cloudy too, as if their vision weren't that good anymore. There were times where I wasn't sure I was ever going to escape that place.
While we sometimes shared consciousness, the wolf would tell me when to go away. When the man was coming with his dogs and his whip. I didn't wanna hang around and find out who was getting punished this time. I went away and prayed to God it wouldn't be me. Oh, God, please don't let it be me. I didn't wanna hear the wolves crying in pain. I ain't never heard a sound like it in me life.
Still in Wales. It had been two months since we arrived there, I think. Assuming we were still actually in Wales. I don't really know. I wasn't really conscious most of the time, and I didn't recognise anything the wolf was showing me about where we were. Geography, as a rule, isn't taught to wolves. I mean, they have their own way of navigating. They don't really understand something like Wales, or England. They really only understand scent mark boundaries. Not really useful for figuring out where England begins and Wales ends.
I think I saw Roy once. Saw him across the way, pulling a heavily-laden sled across the snow. Don't know how I knew it was him, I just did. Looked like he was struggling too. Bloke kept whipping him and the other wolves pulling the sled. I could see the blood dripping down onto the snow. Horrid sight. Just horrid. The blood on the snow was so bright. You never forget that sort of colour.
Saw him later on as well when we were back in our pens. I hadn't even realised we shared a pen until that moment. He crawled in, exhausted, and I don't know how I knew, but it was him. There was Roy, looking all bloodied and beaten up. I cradled him in my arms and licked his wounds. Someone had to care for him, given the state he was in.
I heard his mind for the first time then. I don't even know what triggered it, still don't really know, but as I cared for him, I could hear him crying. Roy was terrified. I could hear him. Feel him. His body trembled.
Roy? That you?, I sent.
He just looked at me. He couldn't answer, but I knew it was him. It was his eyes. I could tell from his eyes.
We're going to get out of here, I promise. We'll escape and go home. We'll be free.
I'm not sure he believed me. He just lay there shivering in me arms, and I tried to comfort him. There were so many wounds on his body. Deep wounds. Deep wounds and scars. There were a few bare patches of fur in his coat that I was sure wouldn't grow back. Looked bloody beaten up, he did. Looked like he'd taken a lot of punishment. That scared me. Angered me too. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know what. Not on me own like that though.
I chewed on the collar. Scratched at it. I wanted it off. I wanted Roy's off. We needed to be able to talk properly. It might make us change back too. Then we could flee, I was sure of it. But the leather was too tough. I just couldn't damage it at all, no matter how hard I tried. I can't tell you how depressing that was.
Trevor? Don't leave me, Roy sent weakly. It seemed to take him a lot of effort to get through to me, and I reassured him I wouldn't leave. It was all I could do.
Monmouth, January 2nd 1969
Monmouth was pretty much the only safe city we could find. We'd been lying low ever since we'd left Birmingham, too scared to make too much of a scene so the same thing didn't happen again. We were renting this small cottage and getting by doing odd jobs. It was the only way to survive. Between me and Bev, we managed to scrounge enough money to live.
Ace hadn't really recovered from the attack. He'd barely left the house, except when we transformed. The rest of the time, he shut himself up in the attic. We checked on him as often as we could, just to make sure he was still alright. There wasn't much else we could do for him. He refused to let us get him any help.
It was a quiet life. It had to be. Our safety depended on it. We had to be careful of every dog we saw in case it wanted to attack us. We didn't want to repeat what had happened before.
None of us had really stopped grieving for Roy and Trevor either. We hadn't had time. We assumed they'd been killed by the dogs, but Ace wasn't so sure. He said Bev had been right when he'd said they'd been taken. The last thing he remembered seeing was someone dragging their bodies away. He was sure they weren't dead. Someone had been hunting werewolves in order to capture them. That disturbs me more than I care to think.
Monmouth, January 11th, 1969
Bev told me about his dad over dinner. Got attacked by some dogs coming home one night, apparently. Tore him to pieces, which was why there wasn't a body to bury. I was beginning to suspect he might've been taken as well to wherever Trev and Roy were. I hadn't told Bev yet though. I didn't want to give him hope that his dad might still be alive, not if I had no proof.
I didn't want to think about what any of that meant. We've always lived precarious lives, hoping not to be discovered, but I always assumed no one really knew we existed. One or two, sure, but I never thought someone would turn to hunting us. We're not animals. We're not mindless killers. Werewolves, even when faced with dogs, aren't that weak. Are we?
Outside Tintern Abbey, January 28th, 1969
I honestly didn't believe him. I'd grown used to dismissing Ace's weird paranoia as just his fanciful imagination, but he just wouldn't leave it alone. And I didn't believe him at all until I saw something I hadn't expected to see. Bev and I were driving back from another job when we saw what looked like a sled being pulled by werewolves. I stopped the car. We watched them crossing the field back towards Tintern Abbey, hoping we hadn't been spotted.
"Werewolves. They've got to be werewolves. I'd know that physique anywhere. You can see them too, can't you, Bev?" I said.
"Yep. Werewolves, alright. Fully transformed werewolves too. It's not even a full moon for another week, Carl. Someone's figured out how to force permanent transformations. See the collars around their necks? I think we need to find out what's going on there. If Ace is right, and I'm not saying he is, that could be them down there. Roy and Trev. Ace said they were taken. Maybe that's what happened to them. If so, we'd better go down there and get them out. Even if they're not down there, can you really just let them stay imprisoned like that?" Bev said.
"You realise that's probably the most recklessly dangerous idea you've ever come up with, right? I think we need to look into this some more before we go charging in. That right there isn't normal. I don't think we should go anywhere near that place until we know more about what might be going on there," I said.
Bev just looked at me. "It's weird to hear you being sensible for once. But maybe you're right. Maybe we should find out what's going on first. Could be dangerous if they can force us to transform permanently."
We drove off. We didn't speak about it after we got back. Not sure either of us wanted to.
Monmouth, Februrary 9th, 1969
It troubles me greatly that someone worked out how to hunt werewolves and force permanent transformations. As wolves, we're very vulnerable. It's weird to even think of it that way, but get enough dogs together and we don't stand a chance. There's something about dogs that just makes us weak somehow. Bev thinks I'm just imagining it, but I'm pretty sure it's real. Dogs don't just attack us on sight, they're somehow actively repelled - attracted? - to us.
It's really sad, and terribly inconvenient. I used to have a dog, you know. Little yappy terrier. He won't go near me anymore, even when I'm human. If I try and touch him, he attempts to bite my hand. That's my bloody dog, and he hates me. Fuck, man, if it had been anyone other than Bev who'd given me the curse in the first place, I'd be out there hunting for whoever had. It's a curse, be sure about that. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
We hadn't found out much more about the farm down there, apart from the fact it was an old abbey. Apparently no one was supposed to be down there, but Bev asked his wolf to do some careful recon last time we were transformed, and apparently there were wolf pens down there, hidden amongst the ruins. Werewolves kept in pens like slaves, and dogs. Lots of dogs roaming around. If we were going to break them out, we'd have to do something about those dogs.
Abergavenny, October 10th, 1969
We had to move on again. Got run out of town by the priest there who decided he'd tolerated us pagan hippies long enough. He didn't want us bringing the Devil down on them. I suppose we were lucky they didn't have dogs with them.
We didn't have long to pack and leave. Ace just sat in the back, lost in his mind. I was sure he was slowly going mad, but as he hadn't actually spoken to us in more than five months, it was hard to tell. When we transformed, he just went off on his own. We'd find him back home once the moon had set, shut up in the attic again. We'd tried to get him to come down, but he refused. He screamed and kicked at us. We weren't willing to annoy him further.
We headed west away from the abbey. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and we didn't want to go running into trouble so soon. We stopped here in Abergavenny. It's nice enough, I suppose. No one wanted us dead. That was a nice bonus. We were shacked up in the local pub for the moment while we found somewhere more permanent to stay. Ace just shut himself in his room. I don't think we'd seen him since we'd arrived. At the time, I was getting really worried about him, but what could we do? He wouldn't let us touch him anymore. I felt like I'd lost a friend and I didn't know how to get him back.
We just left him alone while we quietly looked into the Abbey and what might be going on down there. No one really wanted to talk, kept skiving us off to someone else, but we did finally have some luck at a cottage out of town. We had been told to go down there, but weren't expecting a lot. But we found this bloke outside, pruning his roses. Old guy. Looked ancient. But he looked up at us as we approached and waved us in. He introduced himself, said his name was Alexander. He seemed pleased to see us, so we followed him inside.
The first thing he said was, "You're here about the werewolves."
I hadn't expected it, but it did make me feel like we might finally be getting somewhere. "Yeah, down at Tintern Abbey. What do you know about them?"
"Dangerous place, that. Bad things happen down there. What do you want with that place anyway?" Alexander said.
"We're looking for some friends of ours. We think they might've ended up there," I said.
Alexander sat down and didn't speak for a while. He looked deep in thought. "You might find them down there, sure, but even if you manage to get in, good luck working out which ones they are. Y'can't speak to each other like you normally do. Got them collars on what stops them talking. They're magic though. You can't just cut 'em off. That's all I know. Getting rid of the collars changes them back, once you work out how to remove them. If you find out, will you let me know? I haven't mastered it yet."
He took us into the garden and down to the back shed. I don't think we were all that surprised to find a werewolf in there, all chained up. He still had his collar on, and the man said he'd had him in there for several months. He had to chain him up so he didn't hurt anyone.
I knelt down and took a look at that werewolf. He was just lying there. He looked so sad. He whimpered as I touched him. I think he hoped I might've been able to free him, but at least we finally got a good look at those collars. I could feel my wolf take a keen interest in it. It was just an ordinary looking leather collar, but there was something preventing me from unbuckling it. The man was right. There was some sort of charm on it that would have to be undone. I had no idea where to start. I don't know anything about magic.
"Here, let me have a go. I - the wolf has an idea," Bev said after a while.
I was more than glad to let him try. I thought he'd fail like I did, but he leant in close to the collar and whispered something to it. Whatever it was he said, it worked, and the collar came free. As soon as the wolf was free, we got back as he began transforming back into his human form. The chains holding him broke apart, snapping from the strain. Then all that was left was a naked man. He lay there exhausted.
"We'd better get him inside. He'll freeze out here," I said.
We picked him up, he made no move to protest, and we carried him back into the house. We lay him down on the couch and offered him a blanket. He just stared up at the ceiling.
"How the hell did you do that? How'd you get it off?" I asked.
Bev shrugged. "I don't know. I can't remember. The wolf did it, not me. She said she knew something and took over. That's all I remember."
The man on the couch turned to look at Bev then. "You must be a hereditary wolf if she can front you like that. I had a kid like you once. Long time ago. She's probably all grown up now, though. She'll be a werewolf, just like me. I hope she's happy, wherever she is."
Bev turned to Alexander. "Where did you find him anyway? How'd he end up here?"
"Found him, that's how. He was jus' wandering around like a lost lamb. Been beaten up. Now, I ain't a werewolf meself, but me sister was. Like I wasn't going to take him in. The collar made me suspicious, see? So I looked into it, like you did. But there's too much danger there for an old man like me. Best left for some young bloods to sort out, I reckon. 'ere, I'll go get him some clothes. You go make some tea,"Alexander said.
It seemed fair enough. I went into the kitchen with Bev and put the kettle on. It took us a while to find everything. But by the time we got back with the tea, the man was dressed. He sat up on the sofa, watching us bring the tea tray in. Alexander seemed to have disappeared somewhere.
"So, do you remember who you are? How long have you been stuck like that anyway?" I asked as I handed him his tea.
The man looked down and sighed. "No idea. Last date I remember is 1955. How long's it been since then?"
"Fourteen years or so. It's 1969 now," I said.
He didn't seem to react much to that. "I had a daughter named Beverley. Beautiful girl, she was. Looked so much like her mother. I can't remember me name though. Is it Bev or Charlie? I don't know. I just don't remember. Been a wolf too long. Done me 'ead in, it has. Maybe I'll never remember."
I certainly didn't recognise him, but I glanced over at Bev and saw him staring in shock at the man before us. I didn't understand that until Bev spoke.
"No. No way are you my dad. He wouldn't - I was only ten. He just disappeared. I thought he was- We buried him. We had a funeral and everything. He can't just turn up here, right now, sitting there like that. He just can't. I can't believe it."
"You reckon that's your dad?" I asked.
The man didn't say anything. Neither did Bev. I know I'd suspected that maybe Bev's dad was still alive, but I never thought we'd actually find him.
"I haven't heard his voice for so many years, but that's him. I'm Beverley. He's my dad. He has to be. Everyone called him Bev, but his name was Charles. Charlie. I just can't believe this. You can't be sitting there," Bev said.
The man looked at him, as if trying to recognise him. He touched Bev's face, and I could see Bev getting upset. Eventually, he withdrew and sat back against the sofa. "No, I don't think I'm your dad. You look familiar, maybe it's the eyes, but I had a daughter, not a son," the man said after a while.
"No. No, dad. But I am your girl, I promise. You were in a jazz band. Don't you remember? Why can't you see me?"
I just watched Bev begin to cry. I must admit I hadn't really understood why Bev preferred living as a man. It wasn't something we'd ever really talked about. I wasn't sure what to say. The man just sat there, looking away. He didn't speak.
"Charlie, I can't deal with this. I'll be outside."
I never really found out why that upset Bev as much as it did. But Bev left, went out the front, and I was left alone with this strange man.
"Perhaps we'd better go. Alexander will look after you, I'm sure," I said.
"If you ever find my girl, tell her where I am. I never meant to leave her or her mum, but there were too many dogs..." His voice trailed off, as if remembering the incident.
"I will. Maybe we'll see you around."
I took the collar so I could study it, and headed outside. Bev was waiting by the car. We got in and drove home. It had been a very long day.
Bev didn't talk to me until we got home again. He was still upset. I tried to be as supportive as I could, but I knew I didn't understand the whole situation. I didn't even bother to try. He paced by the fire. He seemed so conflicted but I had no way of helping. I waited for him to speak. Eventually, he sat down beside me and stared at the fire, defeated.
"You really believe that was him back there, don't you?" I ventured.
"It was him, alright. I don't know what to do. For so long, I believed he was dead. I did this," he indicated his appearance, "I did all that for him. Because he wasn't there and someone had to look after mum. I thought he was gone. But he's still alive. I went through all this shit because of him, and he couldn't even see me. I'm his little girl, but he can't see that. I don't know if I'll tell mum. I don't know if I could break her heart like that again. I wish he'd stayed dead."
"Our parents probably think we're dead too, you know. We're in the same position. If we go home, we'll have to see them again. I'm still not sure if I'm prepared to do that," I said.
"Oh, God, don't mention home. I miss it so much. We're stuck out here in the middle of bloody nowhere and I can't go home. And now I find out my dad's still alive and all I want to do is run home to mum. I've been away too long. I want to go home, Charlie. I really want to go home. I don't care what happens. I miss my home. I can't stay out here as an exile forever. I just can't. You might be able to do that, but I can't. I can't do it, Charlie. I need my family right now."
I almost agreed, too. I almost got Ace into the car, and drove back home with Bev. But we didn't. Bev didn't even mention it the next day as we kept on looking for information about the werewolves. I suppose I managed to convince him that we shouldn't go home without Trevor and Roy. I wasn't even sure we would find them, but we had to try, right?
Abergavenny, October 15th, 1969
Ace died today.
I never thought I'd have to write that, but maybe I was pretending Ace wasn't suffering as badly as he was. Maybe I wanted him to die. I don't think I'll ever really know.
It seemed like an ordinary morning. Bev and I had planned to go back to Tintern to dig around some more. Usually, we just left him alone, but we went in to call him down to breakfast. I think we also just wanted to know he was still alright, but when we got inside, all we found was him lying on the ground. There was a small brown bottle in his hand. He looked like he was sleeping, the poor bastard. Just sleeping. He looked so peaceful.
Maybe someone else would've run to him and tried to revive him, but I was just glad he was finally dead. He wasn't cursed anymore. I just wish I'd have been able to talk to him one last time. Maybe I'd never have been able to talk him out of it, but maybe we could've said goodbye. Maybe I might've been able to say I was sorry.
There was a journal by his side. He'd had it for years, always scribbling notes in it. I wondered if he'd written anything for us. Some sort of explanation as to why he'd done it. There was no note, though. No letter.
This was the last thing he wrote:
We're in some bloody pub in Wales. Might be December. Don't really know. Could be April. A minute lasts a lifetime now. I'm not sure if I'm still alive. Maybe I just think I'm human but I'm still a wolf running around the countryside. Free as a bird. Free as I like. Free from these bloody nightmares.
At least I think we're in Wales anyway. Saw all that funny writing all over the signs. Must be Wales. Don't really know what's going on either. I stopped paying attention. Got too much stuff in my head. Too many nightmares.
I've been writing in here for ages but no one knows. I can't let them read it or they'll steal my mind. I'm living with two wolves. Two monsters. One of them bit me. One of them made me this way. Month after month I run away seeking the darkness away from the bright white moon. Blood red moon. Haunts my dreams. So scared of it. She's there in my dreams screaming at me. Screaming as she claws at me. Rips my mind out.
It was all I could bring myself to read. I burnt it after that. Not even Bev wanted to keep it. I didn't think anyone had a right to know those thoughts, and maybe we were doing him a favour by destroying them for him.
This has been the hardest part to write. God help me, I sent him to his grave. I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for that.
We buried him in the local cemetery. We didn't want to risk going home, and he was estranged from his family anyway. One lonely fucking grave in the middle of fucking Wales. Bev and I were the only ones mourning him. We stood there in the fucking rain, watching his body get lowered into the ground. He didn't have a coffin. We had no money to spend on any of that. He got a pauper's burial instead. He deserved so much more than that, but we just didn't have the money. I promised him that one day, I'd go back and get him a proper headstone so he wouldn't be forgotten. I'd carve his bloody name on it and make sure the world remembered him.
He was only twenty two years old. I miss him like a brother. I wish he'd been stronger. I wish we'd done something. I made him like that. I cursed him. I'll never get to Heaven. I'm a monster, and I deserve no forgiveness.
Wiltshire, Winter 1969/1970
God help us, we actually managed to escape. There was a storm rip through the place, and half the pens were destroyed. Us, along with half a dozen or so other wolves, escaped into the night. We went as far away from that place as possible. No one stopped us, and no one sent dogs after us. There were dogs around, I remember that now, but they couldn't catch us.
We ran into the night. We didn't have any destination in mind, apart from as far away from that place as possible. We ended up hiding around Stonehenge. I get the feeling sometimes that wolves are drawn to those sort of strangely powerful places. It wasn't til I was able to talk to Carl afterwards that I realised we'd been kept in an old abbey. I just hadn't recognised it at the time.
It wasn't much of an existence. We were still wolves. We hadn't been able to remove the collars. We were all afraid they might be able to track us with them, and they were secured tightly. There was also a fear that we wouldn't survive the winter if we transformed back. We'd freeze to death before anyone found us.
The worst part was that we couldn't talk telepathically. Stupid collars. But we had managed to work out how to communicate, particularly when we were hunting. We'd been hunting in packs, trying to find enough food to survive. We'd agreed to stick to livestock only and not attack humans, but we weren't sure how well the wolves would stick to that. We couldn't be conscious at the same time, not for too long. We had no way of knowing if they were obeying that, or just lying to us.
We'd made some dens in the woods, hollowed out tree trunks and ones at the bases of trees. We needed somewhere warm and dry to live, and that was all we could manage. It wasn't bad, though. We got good at dens by the middle of winter. Good solidly warm hollows to sleep in and avoid being seen by anyone. The one I liked best was one I made from some moss and a couple of large hollow logs. It was big enough for me and Roy, and he needed to be close to me back then.
Roy wasn't really coping, you see. Didn't like being a wolf. Didn't like hunting. He just wanted to go home. He'd never liked being away from home. Sometimes we were able to share our thoughts, but not always. He kept scratching at the collar around his neck, desperate to get rid of it, but it was too strong. We'd tried biting at them, but that didn't work either. Whatever it was they were made of, it wasn't something we could remove without someone else's help. I'd also begun to suspect the collars were also keeping us transformed, so we'd have to be careful of when we got rid of them if that was the case. No point in transforming in the middle of the snow.
We didn't really have any plans. We just wanted to survive as long as possible. That's really all we could do. We were still wolves. Of course we couldn't just return home like nothing had happened. We weren't sure if we'd even be able to go home. We'd been away too long. Our families probably thought we were dead. Why bother going home?
We had to shift off from Stonehenge by the end of the winter. Too many tourists coming. Tourists and hippies. There'd already been one death, one of the wolves had attacked someone and dragged them off. We left before we found out if they lived. We didn't want to get hunted down again. Where did we go? I think we headed west, away from the murder. A pack of about five werewolves running through the countryside together.
At least it was a little warmer then. Not a lot, but the snow was almost gone, and the deep chill in the air wasn't so bad anymore. I can't remember where we settled. In some woodland by a farm, I think. Wanted to be close to food, I think. But we stayed there, built some dens and settled down. I don't remember anything else happening, really. The wolf went into survival mode, so I wasn't really called upon much. We still hadn't got the collars off either. They just wouldn't come off, no matter how much we tried. We had run into a girl in the woods, and Roy had tried to look lost and hurt enough to try and entice the girl into removing the collar, but not even she could unbuckle it. Not a great sign, that. Made me wonder if we'd be stuck this way forever.
Monmouthshire, November 1970
It was another year before we did anything about the captured werewolves. There wasn't really any reason for the delay, but after Ace died, it was hard to get excited about anything. It even trumped our desire to go home.
We stayed in Abergavenny, for lack of anywhere else to go, and tried to live a normal life, just for a while. We both got proper jobs and worked hard to keep a low profile. I don't think either of us wanted to leave Ace's grave either. I still wanted to get him a headstone, and that meant working as much as we could so there was enough to put away for that. I didn't want to leave the town without getting him that headstone. I felt I owed it to him to do that much, since we hadn't been able to get him a proper funeral.
The people in town seemed to like us as well. I'm not sure why it was different there than it had been in Monmouth. Maybe it was because we'd tried to get to know everyone and go to church once in a while, rather than be recluses. They seemed to grow to trust us anyway.
Fostering those friendships did help, though. Once they'd accepted us as part of the community, it was easier to ask about the werewolves. People had seen black dogs. Large shaggy wolves. They'd heard about them from friends in Monmouth. It had apparently first started two decades earlier with the escape of a dangerous criminal from prison. They'd never found him, and some remains left by a riverside seemed to satisfy everyone that he'd been mauled to death.
Not everyone believed it though. He'd had a tattoo of a wolf on his arm, and that's when the wolves had returned. But of course no one believed in werewolves, so no one said anything. Farmers let the odd sheep get taken if it meant the rest of their flock was safe.
It had been enough to convince us to drive back to Tintern Abby, but when we got there, we found nothing. The place was deserted. All we found were the remains of what looked like some wooden animal pens that had been broken apart, and a ruinous old stone Abbey.
We asked the locals to see if they'd noticed anything. They seemed more willing to talk since the place was deserted. They talked about a storm that had ripped through the valley last winter. They thought that was the night the big dogs escaped. No one knew where they'd gone, of course, but knowing they'd escaped was promising. I assumed they'd run as far away as possible and gone underground. They'd probably still be wolves too, unless they'd worked out how to remove the collars.
We hung around Tintern until the full moon. Our wolves would be better able to track them than we would. We ended up outside Bristol near some woodland. Strong scent of wolves there. Recent scents. It was almost moonset by then, though, and we headed back home as fast as we could, just to make sure we were safe. We'd go back later just to see if they were the wolves we were looking for.
We barely arrived back in time. It didn't take us long to find our gear though, once we'd changed back. We dressed, I scribbled down the word 'Bristol', and we promptly fell asleep in the back of the van.
Woodland outside Bristol, February 5th, 1971
It took us two days to recover. Perhaps it was the long distance travelling that had taken so much out of us. We didn't go straight to Bristol though. We still had jobs to attend to. We'd saved enough for a headstone as well, barely, so I'd ordered it. I wanted it there as soon as possible. We hadn't gone too overboard with the inscriptions though. Just his name, that he was loved, and we hoped he'd be at peace. We didn't feel safe saying anything more.
We couldn't go back to Bristol until we had a free week, and that didn't happen til early February. We wanted to give ourselves as much time as possible to look around for the wolves, hoping they hadn't shifted off again. Neither of us were in the mood to track them across the countryside again, so we hoped they'd stayed put throughout the winter.
It wasn't immediately apparent that there were werewolves around, not at first. We couldn't sense them as humans as well as we could as wolves. The full moon had been and gone three days earlier, so any wolves we found were most likely to be the ones we were after. I just hoped Bev could still remove the collars.
We didn't find any trace of them until nightfall. That's when they came out. We just waited, hoping we could find them and not get attacked. Through the trees, we could see them moving out of their dens. We appear to have developed better night vision too, which I hadn't expected.
One approached us. It had a collar around its neck. Perhaps it was the collar we still had with us that made it stop. We wanted to use it as a sign for them. An open collar. They'd know we were wolves too, and we hoped they'd recognise it as a sign that they could be free too. That we had discovered how to release the collars.
The wolf didn't speak. I don't think it knew how to speak. It gazed up fearfully as Bev approached. He'd almost got close enough to try to remove the collar when another wolf came leaping out of nowhere, pinning Bev to the ground. I kept back. The second wolf snarled at him, his claws digging into Bev's shoulders. But then he stopped. He appeared to sniff him, and I can't describe it as anything other than recognition. The wolf seemed to recognise him. He got up off him, and Bev sat up slowly. I went over to him, hoping he wasn't injured too badly.
"Yeah, maybe. God, that hurt. What'd you do to make him back off anyway?" Bev said.
I looked at him, confused. "He recognised you. That's why he backed off. Did you say something to him?"
"No, it wasn't me. I was trying to remove his collar, but he wouldn't let me touch it," Bev said.
I decided to address the wolves, who were just sitting there on their haunches, unsure what to do. "I'm not sure who you are, but we mean no harm. We know how to remove the collars. Bev knows how to remove the collars. Would you let him remove them? You'd be free then. It makes you change back. You'd be a normal werewolf again."
The two wolves seemed to understand, but they didn't approach us. One of them sent a call through the air. Was there more of them? We didn't know how many we'd find out there. We didn't think there'd be a huge group, but we didn't know how many had been kept there before the storm. It wasn't long before another three werewolves emerged from the woods, all with collars around their necks. They all had to check us out, sniffing us to make sure we were legit. I could feel the wolf inside me coming to the surface, just to reassure them we were on their side.
You never quite realise how terrifying being confronted by a werewolf can be until it happens to you. They had the power to rip us to pieces if they chose to, but they didn't. After checking us out, and showing them the opened collar again, they seemed to accept us.
Bev gingerly got to his feet to start removing the collars, but the nearest wolf pushed him down with his snout and licked the wounds on his shoulders. I'd never seen a wolf try to heal human wounds before. I wasn't even sure it'd work, but I can't deny what I saw.
Bev had taken his shirt off to expose all the wounds properly. It might have taken twenty minutes or so, but as the wolf licked them, I watched them close up. Those wounds vanished. There was no scarring or any sign he'd ever been injured there.
"Hey, thanks. I wasn't sure when I'd get that treated. Mind if I remove the collar now?" Bev said as he dressed.
The wolf seemed to nod and sat back. Bev repeated what he'd done the last time, leaning in to whisper to the collar. I was so pleased when it came undone. We moved back as the wolf transformed back. We'd brought some clothes and blankets with us so they'd be able to keep warm.
The first wolf was a woman. She looked about forty, slender, dark hair, and it took her a while to come to her senses. I was over by her side immediately, getting her wrapped up and warm. I asked her if she remembered her name. She whispered, 'Sally'. She didn't remember where she was from, though, and I couldn't pick her accent. I hoped she'd remember more as she readjusted to being human again. It can sometimes take a long time, post-transformation, to readjust, and I was sure it'd take a lot longer for them as they'd been trapped as wolves for God knows how long.
Bev didn't release the second one til I was ready. We had Sally settled and I had a blanket ready for the next one. This one was another woman, but she looked much younger. I'd have said she was barely out of her twenties. She couldn't remember her name though. Her accent suggested she was from Scotland. She seemed to get better being beside Sally though. The two of them huddled close together and it appeared Sally was taking care of the younger woman.
The third wolf turned out to be Roy, not that we recognised him at first. He looked so beaten up, and he struggled to stand. But he did eventually recognise me, and he came to life then. He was so grateful to see us.
Trevor came next. He appeared to have a badly wounded leg that hadn't healed properly. The scar tissue was ugly and he couldn't walk very well.
The last one, upon seeing what happened when the collars were removed, actually ran off. I suspect they might've been happier as a wolf anyway, so I wasn't keen to run after them.
They were all in such a state of shock though. We got them dressed and warmed up and back in the van. We had some time on our hands, though, so we didn't go anywhere just yet. We'd brought some food anyway, so we just camped out in the back with them until morning. They'd all need some time to readjust and come to terms with what had happened.
By mid-morning, they were beginning to talk. The younger girl had remembered her name, Alyson, and she was from Glasgow. She'd wanted to know how long she'd been away. Apparently the last time she'd been human was 1954. I was glad she didn't seem too shocked to hear it was now 1971. She wasn't sure she'd go home though. She felt she'd been gone too long and that her elderly parents would have passed on. She and Sally had bonded well, though. I thought they might travel together then. Sally had only been gone a couple of years, and she was aching to get back home to Newcastle. I'd offered to give the two women a bed until they felt up to going home, and they accepted.
Trevor and Roy didn't ask about Ace until we got home to Avergavveny. We stopped by the churchyard and I showed them where Ace was buried. All that grief came flooding back. I'm sure Trevor hated me, but I wasn't willing to fight with him. Ace was dead. Nothing would ever be right again. Apportioning out blame wouldn't bring him back. Besides, I had enough eternal guilt about it to last a lifetime. That was punishment enough.
Sally and Alyson had moved on by March. We stayed where we were. Trevor and Roy didn't want to leave Ace either, so we rented a bigger house and settled down. Maybe we'd never go home again, but we had probably all been written off as dead anyway, so we didn't see the point. A life as recluses was what awaited us now. Alive but dead, the life we had wasn't much of a life. Ace was dead. We couldn't go home. We were four werewolves living under the same roof, trying not to draw any attention to us. But we were still friends, somehow, in spite of everything.
Trevor and Roy never talked to us about what they'd been through. They said they couldn't remember, and I wasn't willing to push it. I've seen Trevor writing about it though. Maybe one day he'll let me read about it.
Bev's disappeared now, gone to find his father again. I told him it was a useless exercise, but he wouldn't be talked out of it. I'm not sure when I'll see him again. It's just the three of us now. We transform on the full moon, like always. We have nightmares, like we always did. This isn't life, it's a cursed life. Maybe Ace had the right idea all along. I hope the bastard's up there with the angels. It's the least he deserves for what I did to him. Monsters, the lot of us. Only Hell awaits us now.