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We're Only Animals: Book 1

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This is the cover of We're Only Animals by Pazz

Chapter 1 - Instinct in the Fog and Under the Light of the Full Moon 

Legosi rubbed his eyes. It was pretty much completely dark now. His night vision rendered that a nonissue, but that wasn't the point. He was out past curfew, and if he was caught he would face consequences. Suspension? Expulsion? He wasn't sure. All he knew was that he could not let that happen. If only Kabu-chan didn't fly out the window when he brought him out today... 

That was about 2 hours ago now, and still he was having no luck. Insects were hard to track by smell, after all. Legosi held his hands up to his mouth, breathed in, and froze. He lowered his arms, feeling like a fool. Was he really just about to call his name? He must be going crazy. He wasn't going to get anywhere tonight, so he figured he should just give it up for the night. Maybe he could put some posters up tomorrow. Jack would help with that. He wasn’t sure how effective it would be, though. He made his way back to his dorm, defeated.

Meanwhile, Louis had been practicing lines with Zoe the goat for a while now. Except, this time, they weren’t practicing with the lights off. After all, Louis knew there was no point in making a non-nocturnal animal like Zoe practice in the dark. Zoe wasn’t the perfect understudy. He definitely had the habit of eating his lines, which Louis found incredibly annoying. Goats. Paper-eaters. Useless.

“Okay, Zoe-kun, let’s take a break. You’re doing fine, but the fact that you constantly fumble over your lines again and again is bothering me. Quit eating the scripts. I’m going to step outside for a moment.” He pulled out a stack of paper from a bag he brought. “This is an extra script I made for you. Study it while I’m gone.” He looked at him with an expectant expression.

The goat looked down at it. “Wha...Why didn’t you give this to me before!?” He made a confused face and frowned at the red deer.

Louis turned. “Because...There are no scripts on stage. You should have memorized your lines by now. Anyway, I’ll be back in a few minutes. Please study that and don’t treat it like a snack this time.” He turned and walked off, not trusting that the goat wouldn’t eat it anyway. Oh well. He walked slowly toward the big doors of the theatre and stepped out.

The night was cool. There was a thick fog rolling in from who knows where. The deer walked past the fountain and stood with his hands on his hips. He looked up to the moon and sighed. In the distance behind him, Legosi moved.

“Kabu-chan...Where could you be…?” Legosi mumbled to himself. His friend Tem had just died recently, and now his beloved pet beetle went missing. Of course the two weren't nearly comparable! He smacked himself on the head for even thinking about it. But the minor loss paired with the major one made it sink deeper in his gut than it probably would have normally. After all, Kabu-chan was his responsibility and he felt like he failed him.

Suddenly, he heard the scuff of shoes on cement, causing him to stand rigid. He honed his senses, trying to gather as much information as he could. The sound came from in front of him, near the fountain. Too far away for anyone to see him, though, thanks to the fog that had rolled in. In turn, he couldn't see anyone himself. What he did see, however, were the lights from the theater illuminating the fog. One didn't have to be in the drama club to know those shouldn't be on at this time. Not even staff were going to be snooping in there. What was going on…?

Legosi adopted a hunched over pose (well, more so than usual),  and crept forward. Part of his mind told him to ignore it and just head back to his room, but with the predation incident that took Tem still fresh in his mind, he continued forward. He couldn't bear the thought of another victim being taken away by a predator that gave in to their instincts.

The door to the theater was open a crack. Legosi slunk up the steps, slipping behind the pillars as he passed them, hiding from unseen eyes. He had definitely heard someone walking here just before, so either they had just went inside, or had just come out. Either way, Legosi was at a complete loss on what to do next. He murmured to himself; "Great, now what?"

Louis was still out there, next to the fountain. He didn’t really like the dampness of the fog and chilliness together at the same time.It gave him this weird disgusting feeling.

He was trying to think of everything that had happened recently. Tem’s murder most of all...Right on the school grounds. He was an herbivore so it was normal for a predation incident to scare a deer, but also, if he lost composure, becoming a Beastar would be that much harder. Life was tough.

A slight breeze blew up from the fountain to the doors of the theater, catching in Legosi's nose. The water from the fountain always smelled a bit like mildew...but there was something else there this time.

It was an herbivore.

Legosi flattened himself to the back of the pillar he was behind, sliding down to a crouching position. He peeked out, squinting through the fog, trying to see whoever could be there. 

It was faint, but there was a silhouette. Not too small, but definitely smaller than Legosi. And the smell was definitely coming from them. And now, thanks to the position Legosi had placed himself in, his chances of leaving unnoticed were slim. There was no way that herbivore was the killer, and they didn't seem to be in danger…

What if...I made them think they were in danger...

It was a strange thought out of nowhere, but Legosi could see the logic in it. It wouldn't take much to scare an herbivore on a night like this, especially after the predation incident. Just a sudden noise would do the trick…

Without thought, Legosi jumped out from behind the pillar, leaping down the steps and landing on all fours with a loud SLAM!

Louis’ ears perked a bit, as much as deer ears did. What was that? The killer? No. That would be another incident too soon...Right? He turned and tried to look, but the fog was too thick. It was a pretty large figure there though. Oh god…

The silhouette turned to face Legosi, but remained still. Were they not scared?  Legosi crawled forward slowly, a growl forming in his throat. To scare the herbivore, of course. That was the last coherent thought Legosi formed before he rose to a standing position, sprinting forward and leaping through the air.

Louis quickly turned the other way because that was just herbivore instinct. But...It was Louis the red deer. He wasn’t one to be a coward and run away, so he just stood there to let it all happen. Maybe he could somehow coax the herbivore into letting him go once he was caught.

 Everything blurred around Legosi. He made contact with a frail body, wrapping it up in his large arms and legs as he tumbled on the concrete with it. They both slowed to a stop, Legosi's form still entrapping the herbivore. The wolf stared straight ahead, brain forming no thoughts whatsoever.

Legosi's heart thudded in his chest. A much smaller, but equally racing heart could be felt in his arms. He moved his arms around the form he held. It was so vulnerable. He started to drool, horrible thoughts forming in his mind. But he couldn't classify them as horrible. They all seemed so...tempting.

Suddenly, in the distance, a strange black apparition with wide eyes appeared before him. It stepped forward, piercing the wolf with his gaze.

“Just take a bite…” the figure hissed.

Legosi shook his head. N-no…

“You’ve been waiting for this for seventeen years…”

Leave me alone…

“Waiting in the shadows, but now you finally did it...What you’ve been working for the entire time…” The figure got closer. Legosi tightened his grip around the animal, which was clearly a deer. “THE FLESH OF AN HERBIVORE!”

The wolf gripped the deer’s arm. G-god damn it...I...I won’t do it...I can’t… But the instincts were wrapping around him and squeezing him tight like a snake. This wasn’t supposed to happen to him! This was something you only heard about on the news! It couldn’t happen to him.…

He was salivating and couldn’t stop. The smell of the deer, how close they were...How small they were…

Your smell is driving me crazy...Your warm fur...Under all your clothes...It’s so appetizing...So warm… He blinked. No...I need to stop this!

The black figure got ever closer. “For so long you’ve wanted this. Are you sad…? Or maybe frustrated…?”

Stay away from me...stay away! He moved back a bit, his prey in his arms.

“Neither right…?” the figure tilted its head. “You’re actually happy from the bottom of your heart. Look at yourself…” the shade started growing in size.

Ah...No. No…

“Don’t avert your eyes. It’s getting bigger and bigger. Look!” it shouted.

I won’t look. Go away! God damn it!

“I think you’re ready now. This is where the fun begins,” the shape smiled. It was a horrifying visage of a large and demonic wolf. Instinct in its pure form.  “TAKE A BITE!” it roared.

This can’t be happening…

“You’ve waited seventeen long years to finally have a taste! Do it for us!”

Legosi growled as his claws dug into the herbivore’s arm. Blood trickled out of the wounds.The scent of his catch was alluring and the cologne that accompanied it only made it more alluring. Enough of this...Let me be free... He growled louder and looked at the back of the deer’s head. I’ll...I’ll eat you! I’ll eat you!!! 

Louis felt the pain and warmth in his arm, the blood...He couldn’t suppress his thoughts any longer. So this is it? Just this? All my father...All to work up to being eaten by a killer…’What a waste of a life’, my dad, no, Oguma would say. I can’t even speak...Why can’t I move? Is this...true fear? My life is going to end and I didn’t even go out fighting...The funny thing is, once they find out that Louis the red deer has been murdered, the whole school will be thrown into a frenzy because of my status. Once they find out that even the future Beastar failed...No one will feel safe anymore. The school would be segregated for sure. He was damp with sweat . God damn it! This can’t be happening...Move, Louis! Run!

But he didn’t budge as Legosi licked his lips and leaned in close to his prey’s neck, taking a deep whiff of his scent.

Just do it! Louis screamed in his head, not realized he was holding his breath.

Legosi hesitated. Wait ... This smell... His body turned ice cold as a realization struck him.

This is Louis-senpai.

It was obvious now. He felt the antlers press onto his ears and the smell was unmistakable. There was no doubt that this deer was Louis. What was once hunger turned into dizzying nausea. Legosi quickly disengaged his limbs from around him, his claws tearing out of Louis’ arm and leaving deep red marks in their wake. The wolf got up quickly and sprinted off into the night, ashamed of what he had almost done.

Louis was left alone, on his knees where he stayed.They left...? I’m...I’m alive. He felt his body and his face. They must be one tough carnivore to have given up on a prey like me. Thank god...I never realized how much I don’t want to die. He looked at the moon again. I never realized how much I’d miss the moon alone. He looked down and huffed. “Fuck...”

He lived. Louis the red deer lived.

He stood up and all of a sudden there was aching. He winced and fell down again. What was that...? It was coming from his right leg. It was like fire. “Hahh...” He pulled up his pants to see that his ankle was bruised. He must have hurt it when the carnivore jumped him! “Shit...” I can’t let anyone find out about this... He looked to his arm, looking at the large red claw marks. Or this…

The deer didn’t move for a while. Well, he tried to, but the pain was too much. He let it linger for a bit while he waited. He just kept thinking about how he would hide the injuries from everyone. He looked back toward the theatre. Maybe it was time to cut practice early.

Legosi didn't stop until he had made it back inside the school. He ducked into the bathroom, holding his head over one of the toilets, retching. Nothing came out, ultimately, and he retreated, pulling himself into a ball in front of the toilet.

What the hell had just happened? What was that? Was he really about to eat Louis-senpai? His upperclassman who he respected immensely? The most popular animal in school, slated to become Beastar?

...The animal that Legosi wished he could talk to more...If he had the courage…

But that, whatever that was, just...made it final. There would be no way they could ever become friends. How on earth would Legosi even be able to face him again? They were in the same club, for god's sake!

Legosi sighed wearily, standing up and slinking off to his dorm room. He opened the door silently, as to not wake up the dogs inside, and he made his way to his bed, slumping into it. He felt numb. I can’t believe I could do something that horrible... He grabbed his ears. What kind of awful animal am I…?  He honestly wanted to cry. He just laid there with his eyes open, the scene replaying itself over and over in his head.

Legosi didn't sleep that night. He wasn't awake all night either. It was a state of flux where time didn't exist. Where he didn't exist. Where he didn't have to deal with the guilt of what he had done the night before. It couldn't last, of course, and he had to return to the waking world. Eventually. Tomorrow was going to be tough.