Settling back in the tree, I waited.

20

The wind blew hard and the branches of the tree I hid in swayed all around me. As the moon rose higher in the sky, the temperature dropped and I wrapped myself in my wings to keep warm. The claws at the tip of each wing grabbed hold of the tree to keep me from falling when the gusts of wind picked up.

As I settled back and watched the house, I saw the silhouette of a figure as they went to the living room window and checked the mirror, just to make sure I was where I said I would be.

“Come on Drake, take the bait!” I whispered.

The figure moved away from the window, satisfied that I was still in the Wolf House.

Leaning back in the tree, I felt something in my trouser pocket. Fumbling, I pulled out whatever it was that had fallen from the dummy’s body in the bedroom as I made my escape. It was a piece of paper about the size of a credit card. Turning it over, I could see that it was an old black-and-white photograph. Holding it at an angle so I could see it in the moonlight, I checked it out. The picture was of an old man sitting in an armchair. As I stared at the ancient photograph, it looked to me as if the old guy was wearing the old jacket, trousers, and scuffed-up shoes I had discovered in the wardrobe that was now wrapped around the dummy. Next to the old man was another chair – a much smaller chair – and seated in that was a pretty little girl. She had blond ringlets falling onto her shoulders and the cutest face you could ever imagine. In her hands she clutched a Barbie doll. Both of them looked happy as they stared out of the picture. Looking at the picture closer still, my heart went cold as I could see that it had been taken in the living room of the Wolf House, where the wolf had left his victims. But who were they? Where were they now? The picture was as old as the clothes in the wardrobe, so the old guy and the little girl had probably lived in the house many years before. Looking at it one last time, and feeling a little creeped out, I folded it and put it back in my pocket.

I looked back at the house and I nearly fell off my perch. The front door of the Wolf House was open, somebody had snuck out. With my heart racing in my chest, I scanned the immediate area and then saw something – the bushy end of one giant tail, disappearing around the side of the house.

“Drake’s taken the bait!” I whispered.

While I had been looking at the picture, he had slipped out of the house, keeping low, so I wouldn’t be able to see from my bedroom window – if I had still been in it.

Opening my wings, I sprang from the treetop and swooped high up into the night. With my wings rippling out on either side of me, I circled above the house, and I could see a giant wolf slinking away across the fields in the direction of Little Hope.

“I’ve got you!” I smiled grimly. But I wouldn’t take him yet. No, I if I swooped down now, he’d just give me a load of old bullshit about how he was out looking for a place to take a crap. I needed to catch him red-handed in the act of taking a child before I detained him.

Soaring higher, I sailed over the treetops and fields, never once losing sight of his huge, silver body as it reflected back at me in the moonlight. I followed him as he made his way into the narrow, winding streets of Little Hope. Although the quiet streets were deserted, he was cunning enough to keep to the shadows, remaining out of view. He crept through the town until he came to a small cluster of houses on the other side of town.

With my heart racing out of control, I lost altitude, not wanting to lose sight of him now. The wind rushed past me, and I spread my wings to make my approach as silent as possible. The wolf bounded over a fence and into a garden. There was a Wendy House, a small three-wheeled bike which lay on its side, and a sand pit. Hovering just out of sight, I watched the wolf press his nose to the ground as it sniffed the outside of the Wendy House, the kid’s bike, and the edges of the sand pit. It was almost as if he was trying to locate the scent of a child so he could follow it directly to one who would be sleeping peacefully inside the house.

With his nose hovering close to the ground, he followed the scent towards the back door of the house. Reaching it, he leapt up and sniffed the handle. Dropping onto all fours, he hunched his giant shoulders and put all of his weight against the door. From where I hovered above, I heard the sound of the lock go pop! Then, the wolf glanced quickly back and disappeared into the house.

I sped out of the sky and within a heartbeat I was hovering outside the bedroom windows of the house. I circled once, then twice, looking into the windows. Then I saw the child. A girl of about seven, tucked fast asleep inside her bed, with the wolf standing at the end of it. His eyes burned yellow and his giant tongue lolled from the corner of his mouth. Flashing his razor-sharp teeth, he sniffed at the air, made a soft woofing sound in the back of his throat, then crept towards the little girl.

Swooping away, I aimed myself at the window and sped towards it. With my fists held out before me, I crashed through the bedroom window in a shower of glass, wood, and brick as I took the whole of the window and its frame out.

Before Drake even knew what was happening, I’d wrapped my arms around his colossal neck and was flying backwards out of the hole I’d made in the side of the house. As I tore away, I caught a brief glimpse of the little girl sit up in her bed and rub her eyes. By the time she had rubbed the sleep from them, we were soaring away and out of sight. She would probably never know how close she came to death that night or how she woke to find half of her bedroom wall missing.

The wolf struggled against me, his massive jaws snapping at the air, foam flying from his teeth into the night. Drake was unbearably heavy and it was impossible to keep hold of him. We were plummeting out of the sky at an incredible rate. He gnashed at me and his howling was deafening. I could see the fields racing up to meet us, and I knew that if I didn’t release him, I would die as we hit the ground. So, letting go of him, I back flipped through the air to stop myself crashing into the field that was only feet beneath us.

Hovering, I watched Drake land awkwardly on all fours, then saw him race away back towards the woods. With my wings pointing out behind me, I zoomed after him. The wind tugged at my hair, and the skin on my face rippled as I flew faster and faster after him. Madison had been right, the Lycanthrope could run fast, and at times he just looked like a streak of silver ahead of me as he raced towards the woods. If he reached them, then I would lose sight of him from above as he darted between the shelter of the trees. So I stayed low, my arms out in front. He was only feet away now, and his tail looked like a strike of lightning as it whipped back and forth in front of me. I reached for it, but it slipped through my fingers and he was gone, tearing away amongst the trees. Rocketing upwards, I swooped over the treetops, but as I had feared, I’d lost sight of him. Dropping like a stone through the air, I landed on the soft woodland floor. I snapped my head left and right as I scanned the darkness between the trees. Then my heart stopped as I heard the sound of a woman scream, followed by the deep booming of a werewolf’s howl.

Sprinting in the direction of the sounds, I whisked between the trees in a black spray of shadows. Moonlight cut through the treetops in silver slices and it was almost as if I were running through a wood made of giant daggers. Then ahead of me, I saw someone or something stumble from behind a tree. I stopped hard, sending up a shower of fallen leaves and pine needles. It was Madison who was staggering towards me. Her eyes blazed yellow out of the darkness, but there was something else that glistened. I looked at her hands as she clutched her stomach and could see blood running between her fingers in black silky streams.

“Madison?” I yelled, running towards her.

She fell against me and I took her in my arms.

“What’s happened?” I asked as she looked up at me, her eyes locking onto mine.

“Drake,” she barely whispered.

“Where is he?” I asked her. “I lost him.”

She trembled in my arms and clung onto me. “Potter,” she whispered.

“Shhh,” I whispered. “Save your strength.”

“I don’t have much time,” she groaned in pain. “I just want to know your name – your first name.”

Looking down at her in my arms, her eyes still fixed on mine, I said, “Sean.”

“That’s a nice name,” she smiled weakly up at me.

“What’s yours?” I whispered.

“Sean, look behind you,” she said, her eyes closing as she fell limp in my arms.

Glancing around, I saw the wolf spring through the air towards me, then everything went black.

21

I woke to the sound of howling. It was so loud that the earth trembled beneath me. It took me a moment or two to get my bearings. My heart thumped and it felt as if I had the worse hangover in the world. I peered up and could see the moon shining through the trees that stretched high above me. Rolling over onto my side, I groaned in pain then fell silent as I saw Drake only feet away between the trees. His giant hair-covered body was bent over and he had his nose buried in something that lay scattered across the ground.

I crawled on all fours towards him, being careful not to make the smallest of sounds. Lying on my stomach, I peered around the edge of a tree trunk and nearly puked in revulsion. Drake had his snout buried in a pile of innards and flesh that lay scattered across the floor of the woods. Whoever it was had been torn to pieces by the wolf. I inched my way forward, using my claws to pull myself along. I could hear the sound of licking and slurping as Drake prodded at the bloody remains with his tongue. Then, just as I was about to move forward again, something glinted amongst the entrails strewn across the fallen branches and leaves. Peering at it, my heart stopped. No, it didn’t stop; it broke as I saw what it was shining back at me from the pile of red stuff – it was Madison’s cross necklace.

Then, everything came clear to me. Drake had come bounding out of the woods as Madison lay dying in my arms from an injury that he had caused because, like me, she had discovered he had been the killer all along. After knocking me unconscious, he had torn Madison to pieces and I had woken to find him eating her remains.

With my heart aching in my chest, I staggered to my feet. “You filthy fucking animal,” I screeched and shot at him.




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