Tonight was the worst night of the month-- at least, for werewolves to be concerned.
The full moon remained a daily enemy they could not escape. No amount of running or cover could allow them freedom from the lunar rays as they fell upon skin, urging them to awaken, beckoning them to run, to feed, to mate--
The thrill of the chase, the reward of the claim.
Mindless and primal.
Hassan was old enough, at this stage in his life, to be able to handle himself-- to control the urges, for the most part. Keeping his primal instincts at bay was no small feat, especially now, as a widower-- without partnership, he felt his restraint slipping with each progressive month. There was no one beside him to keep him satiated, to protect him, and guide him through the worst of the nights.
Losing a mate was never easy.
Finding another was unheard of.
This was his fate now.
It in turn caused further worry to him now, as a father. There would be only another year or two until his son discovered that he too had a dormant beast that lay hidden within. Parenting was no easy task, but adding in such an aspect to the difficulties of teenagerhood-- it was regrettable. And here he’d thought the puberty talk was difficult enough.
But in the interim, his duties as sheriff hardly ceased even for lunar occasions. It was important to keep his wits about him, especially considering recent events.
He’d had suspicions that there was another like him amongst the people of the island. Although scents were hard to trace, given how dense the land was, surrounded by sea water no less-- Hassan could feel it, deep down within his instincts--
That, and the other disconcerting issue regarding animals. Although generally not pets, there was little livestock as is-- therefore reports of death and gored animal corpses was more than enough for Hassan to investigate further.
Tonight, however, that would have to wait.
Hassan desperately wanted to tear the flesh from his skin-- to transform into the primordial beast within; his true self that was desperate to escape-- to run and hunt and mate--
He was starved for freedom, hungry for comfort.
The darkness loomed above him, tempting him--
Hassan shook his head, snapping himself out of the beast’s control. He would not so easily give in-- not yet. The night was young, and work remained unfinished.
His investigation led to an open clearing, within the small woods at the edge of the island. The mire was dense and unlivable-- a place where few would venture, locals or not. But as the moonlight illuminated the ground before him, the sheriff could hardly believe what he saw.
A deer. An animal not native to the island. That in itself was odd. He found it lying on its side, unmoving, presumably dead-- yet what sparked concern was the circumstances of said death.
The body appeared covered in gore, stemming from an unsightly wound to the throat. At first glance, one would assume it was an animal attack-- perhaps similar to that of a wolf. Such a concept alone should concern the sheriff, knowing he was, as far as he knew, the lone werewolf resident.
But the longer he studied it, the clearer the bigger picture became.
This was something else, something--
Hassan’s ears perked up at a sound, a quiet rustling, closer than anticipated. He was on immediate alert, standing from his crouched position, eyes adjusting as they stared into the deep, dark surrounding foliage.
Someone was there.
It would soon become apparent if they considered the sheriff predator or prey.
As his vision adjusted, his gaze fell upon two red, glowing eyes in the distance, locking instantly, unfaltering. Someone was watching him, waiting on the sheriff’s next move; caught in a standstill.
Hassan did not hesitate-- breaking into a run.
The chase was on.
Even through the darkness, Hassan was well aware he was on the right track. The scent of blood was dense, pungent in the night air-- and it followed the unidentified figure as he closed in on them.
Hassan had the added benefit of swiftness, taking only a manner of seconds to close the distance; leaping upon his prey and capturing them in an iron grip, tumbling to the terrain beneath. Through a struggle, Hassan managed to ground the other, hands firm, keeping them at bay.
The sheriff stared down with the same shocked expression as the person below him, blinking through furrow brows as he realised the gravity of their current situation.
It was none other than the resident priest, Father John Pruitt-- except not how Hassan recalled him-- covered in blood, eyes wide and dilated, breathing fast and erratic.
Yet there was something else that lay underneath the bloodied exterior--
He could smell it. The beast beneath. Now it made sense.
John was a vampire, Hassan’s natural counterpart-- an enemy.
He’d not come across one in decades, being nearly as rare as werewolves. But really-- the town priest? Of all the possible residents of Crockett Island, he could hardly believe it.
But the more he considered it, the more it fell into place. The stories he’d heard-- of vampires burning like a demon upon holy ground-- must be nothing more than myth.
“So--” Hassan bared his teeth. “You’re the one behind all this death.”
“You’ve caught me,” John sneered, opening his hands in surrender. “In the flesh.”
The sheriff wasn’t convinced; sticking a thumb into the other man’s mouth-- greeted by two sharp, pointed fangs on display.
“Ironic, isn’t it?” Hassan raised an eyebrow as his hand retreated. “For a vampire to be a priest?”
“I assure you that it did not occur in that order,” John replied, turning up his nose. “What about you, then? Where’s your owner, dog?”
The sheriff was dumbfounded-- he could hardly believe this was the same kind, gentle priest he’d met outside the church-- the same man who had Ali in his care.
Hassan couldn’t help a protective growl escaping his throat, fingers digging into the other man’s shoulders; the priest now caught between the ground and a very pissed off werewolf.
Not exactly a wise decision to further antagonise the situation.
“Release me,” John requested with firm authority.
Hassan clicked his tongue. “I don’t think so. You’re coming with me.”
“Sheriff--” The priest’s words were cut short by a hitched breath, eyes wide as they stared at the stars. “Please, it’s not safe to--”
“I’m no pup,” the Sheriff retaliated, forcing the beast to remain at bay; moon be damned. “I can keep myself under control.”
“I know.” John’s eyes gradually darkened, turning a deep blood red. “It’s me you should be afraid of.”
Hassan’s brow furrowed, staring at the priest in confused bewilderment. His words made little sense, after all-- a full moon was a concern for wolves, and not vampires.
John tensed, turning his head away with a groan. Fangs cut into his bottom lip, drawing blood; tempted to bite the man upon him-- fighting an internal battle for control.
“You must run, before--”
A crimson light reflected against their skin. Hassan released his hold, startling up to stare at the sky above. Clouds parted, and vision became clear-- this wasn’t a regular full moon-- it was a blood moon.
Dealing with a regular lunar occurrence was one thing-- but this-- this was entirely different. He’d seen his fair share of blood moons in his lifetime, but they’d always been planned-- calculated, organised-- safety ensured for all.
How could he have miscalculated such an event?
“Oh.” Hassan grit his teeth. “Shit--”
Pupils dilated. A growl escape parted lips. Fur emerged from flesh.
He could barely comprehend their circumstances before his conscious mind faded away, releasing the beast within.