By Ian Wilson (Rated
The thunder of motorcycle engines echoed through the valley. We raced down the dusty road at the feet of the rocky mountains, wild and free. Hoarfrost’s long hair blowing in the wind at the head of the pack. I rode slightly behind him, and Fang next to me. The other eight pack-members rode behind us.
Hoarfrost led us onto a dirt road into the forest. We stopped our bikes in a clearing and dismounted. The setting sun cast its red rays through the trees.
“It’s a full moon, tonight,” said Hoarfrost as he removed his helmet. “And you know what that means.”
“Tonight we hunt,” said Fang, showing the jagged teeth that gave him his name.
We all stripped off our clothing and waited for the moon to rise. As soon as the rays touched our skin, we changed. Wolfish hair replaced bare human skin. We went down on all fours as claws supplanted nails. We howled into the star-studded sky, repeating the ritual that our ancestors had practiced since the days when Vikings ruled the seas. We were wolves.
Into the dark forest we went in search of our next kill. I picked up the scent first. A herd of elk roamed just over the next hill. I gestured to Hoarfrost. He sniffed the wind, and we led the pack over the hill. The elk didn’t know what hit them. We singled out one from the herd, and surrounded it. The bulls tried to stop us, but we out maneuvered them. Hoarfrost let me make the kill. The feast was delicious.
As soon as the sun arose the next morning we awakened to human bodies and full stomachs. We put our clothes back on and prepared to hit the road again.
“Hey Walter!” said Hoarfrost.
“Yeah?” I answered.
“Tonight’s the night!” he replied with a wolfish grin. Fang slapped me on the back.
Tonight was the night, alright. The night that would change my life.
It was evening when we made it to the camp. It was nestled in the Rockies, and surrounded by spruce and pine. Perfect place. We parked our bikes around the cabins, as the Coyotes came out to greet us. The Coyote clan and the Sons of Fenrir had been in a turf war for ages, and we were now finally reconciling.
They stood before us in their human forms, silent and solemn. I greeted Chief Naiche respectfully. At his side was an attractive young lady. Her name was Evening Raider, but I called her Eve. She was quite a looker.
“Nice to see you again, Eve.”
“Nice to see you again too, Walter.”
“The feast is ready,” said Chief Naiche, “You may say the pledge when you are ready.”
The main cabin was nearly filled with a huge table spread with food and drink. Eve and I pledged our love and loyalty to one another and we sat down to the marriage feast. Chief Naiche sat at the head of the table, and I sat at his right hand, and Eve sat next to me. On his left was Hoarfrost.
“This is a great occasion indeed,” said the chief. “Tonight we finally end the hostilities between the Coyote clan and the Sons of Fenrir, by the joining of our two houses in the marriage of Walter Ulric and my daughter Evening Raider.”
“To new beginnings,” said Hoarfrost, raising his beer. We raised our drinks in response.
We partied late into the night, drinking, feasting, and joking. Eventually I took Eve with me to get a little privacy. We went outside the cabin into the darkness. We kissed passionately.
“Are you happy, Walter?” asked Eve.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I replied.
Then I sensed something I couldn’t identify. I look around.
“What is it?” whispered Eve.
“I dunno,” I replied.
I peered into the darkness. I faintly saw the outline of a man creeping around the cabins. I crept closer to him, quietly.
“Hey!” I shouted.
He spun around and drew his gun.
“Not one more step, werewolf,” he said.
“Now wait just a minute!” I stepped forward. He fired a shot between my feet.
“Next one goes in your head!” I backed off. It was at that moment that Eve bashed him over the head with a piece of wood. He went out like a light.
“Good job,” I said.
Before long, we had him tied up in one of the cabins. We’d taken his long, black coat away from him. He was packing some serious ordinance. He had two revolvers, loaded with silver bullets, with more in his belt just in case. He had a dagger, a crucifix, a rosary, some assorted saints medals, vials of blessed salt, holy water, anointing oil, some herbs, and a Latin Psalter.
“Rise and shine!” said Hoarfrost as he threw water in the man’s face. He revived and looked Hoarfrost in the eyes. A mistake if ever there was one.
“Now,” said the Alpha, “why were you sneaking around our camp?”
“You got a name?”
“Hey, I’m talking to you!”
Hoarfrost smacked the man across the face.
“The Lord rebuke you,” said the enigmatic man.
Hoarfrost slapped him again. It kept up like this for an hour or so. The man’s face was bruised, his lip swollen and bloody, his eye nearly swelled shut, but still he said nothing.
“Why don’t you just kill him and get it over with?” asked the chief, who stood right behind us.
“I wanna know how he found out where we are, and what he was planning,” replied Hoarfrost. “Walter, you don’t need to be here. It’s your wedding night; go be with your wife.”
“I’m the one that found him,” I said, nonchalantly. “You go put some ice on your hand. I’ll have a word with him.
“Suit yourself,” said Hoarfrost as he went to the kitchen to get some ice.
I took a five-gallon bucket, turned it upside down, and sat down in front of the man. He was muttering something to himself. I sat quietly and listened.
“Is that Latin?” I asked. The man continued to chant quietly.
“You praying?” I asked again. He kept on chanting to himself.
“Hey,” I said, growingly a little annoyed that he answered none of our queries. “Are you gonna answer me, or what?”
“I don’t have to,” said the man. The first full sentence he uttered all night.
“Look, fella,” I said, “You’re trouble.”
“You’re the one who’s in trouble, Walter Ulric,” said the man.
“How do you know my name?” I asked.
“I’ve been on the trail of your pack for a while, now,” he answered. “I know Amund Ulric, alias Hoarfrost, is your cousin and you’re his second in command.”
“That’s correct,” I said. I took a cigarillo out of my pocket and lit it.
“You a monster hunter?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Are you here to kill us?” I asked.
“Just Hoarfrost or Chief Naiche.”
“‘Or’?” I inquired.
“If I killed the alpha of either your pack or theirs, one pack would blame the other for it and it would start another turf war.”
“Why do you want that?” I asked.
“If y’all are busy killing each other, you won’t have time to hurt nobody else.”
“Why’d you say we were in trouble?” I asked.
“You know what you’ve done, Walter,” replied the man. “The Lord don’t take kindly to this work.”
I have to admit, that remark scared me. Ever since I hit the road with the Sons of Fenrir, I’d helped them do some things that just weren’t right. I’d never killed a human, but I’d robbed, I’d hurt folk. I knew if and when I met the Almighty I’d have a lot of explaining to do. I’d walked away from God, and as Johnny Cash said, sooner or later He’d put me down.
“You got a name?” I asked.
“Would it matter if I told you?”
“Conrad LeFontain,” he replied. The name sounded French, but I detected a Southern drawl. I suspected he was from Louisiana or thereabout.
“I didn’t think you’d care if I killed Hoarfrost,” said Conrad, “after he killed your father and all.”
I reeled. Killed my father? Near as I knew, my father’s murder was unsolved. I’d always blamed the vampires or a rival pack, but Hoarfrost? My own cousin?
“You’re pullin’ my leg,” I said, crossing my arms.
“May God strike me if I’m lying,” replied the monster hunter.
I sat there in silence. Maybe he was trying to sow dissension. Maybe this was a ploy to get me on his side. I didn’t wanna think that, though, him being a man of God and all.
“What proof do you have?” I asked.
“Check his saddle bags,” replied Conrad.
“What will I find?” I queried.
“You’ll know when you find it.”
Hoarfrost came in then.
“Find out anything?” he asked.
“He was trying to start up the turf war between us and the coyotes again,” I replied. I gave him enough truthful information to satisfy him, but kept the rest to myself.
“Good work,” said Hoarfrost. “Now, let’s go get some shuteye.”
I went out into the gravel drive where the bikes were parked. I crept over to Hoarfrost’s bike and started feeling around in the saddlebags. By virtue of being a werewolf, my eyesight at night is much better than the average human. I felt around inside until I felt a cold metal object. It was a revolver, the same caliber as was used to put two bullets in my dad. I couldn’t believe it. The man who gave me a home and a job (such as it was) was the same man who put my dad in the ground. I put the weapon back in the bag and stood up from my kneeling position. I started to go to my cabin, and I stopped and turned around. I went back to the bike, and took the gun out of the bag.
“Walter!” a voice called. I looked to my cabin to see Evening Raider standing at the doorway wearing one of my flannel shirts. She looked cute.
“Just a minute, sweetheart,” I said, holding up my index finger. I marched into the main cabin, where hoarfrost, the Chief, and Fang were discussing what to do with their prisoner.
“I say we kill him nice and slow,” said Fang, fondling a knife.
“Kill him quick and burn the body,” said Chief Naiche. “No evidence.”
“We could compromise and burn him alive,” said Hoarfrost.
I slammed the revolver on the table in front of the werewolves. They stared at me. Hoarfrost narrowed his eyes.
“Where did you find that?” asked the Alpha.
“In your saddle bag,” I replied. “Same caliber as the gun that killed my Pa.”
“Are you crazy?” asked Hoarfrost.
“I don’t hear you denying it,” I said, crossing my arms. “There were only a few people who knew what he really was, and fewer that knew where he was, and nobody else had a motive to kill him.”
“What motive would Hoarfrost have to kill Buck?” asked Fang.
“His name was Gudmund Ulric,” I said.
“When old White Claw finally gave up the ghost, someone had to take his place,” began Hoarfrost, “Buck was next in line. As long as he was still alive, the position of Alpha was in limbo.”
“So you killed him so you could move up,” I growled.
“Them’s the rules, Walt,” replied Hoarfrost. “Someone had to do it. Buck knew that just as well as I did.”
“He was no threat to you!” I shouted. “He had no interest in being Alpha!”
“And what if he changed his mind?” said Hoarfrost.
“I ought to gut you like the pig you are!”
I picked up the gun that slew my father and fired. At that moment, Fang pushed Hoarfrost out of the way of the oncoming silver bullet, taking it himself. Chief Naiche Stood up and reached for his gun, but stopped himself. It wouldn’t be right to interfere.
Hoarfrost leaped over the table and was on me in a split-second. We grappled on the floor. I tried to get a proper hold in, but Hoarfrost had me at a disadvantage. I managed to roll him over. He had his hands around my throat. I was suffocating. I let go with my left hand, drew my knife, and stabbed him in the throat. Death was almost instant. My hands, arms and shirt were red with Hoarfrost’s blood. The rest of the pack had gathered in the main cabin to see what happened. They looked at the dead body of Hoarfrost lying on the floor. I went into the next room and cut the ropes binding Conrad LeFontain and helped him off the floor.
“You’re just gonna let him walk?!” said Red, another member of my pack.
“Yep,” I replied.
I then went to my cabin. Eve was lying on the bed.
“What happened?!” she exclaimed, sitting upright.
“Hoarfrost and I had a disagreement.”
I stripped off my shirt, and put on a fresh one.
“Does this mean you’re the Alpha now.
I silently packed my bags.
“Where are you going?” asked Eve.
“Away from here.”
“Who’s gonna lead the pack?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t care, Eve.” I responded.
Eve glared at me.
“Walter, you can’t just walk away!” she said, crossing her arms.
“Watch me,” I said, strapping my bags to my bike.
“We said the pledge!” she hissed angrily.
“This life ain’t for me, Eve. You can either come with me or stay with them.”
The golden crown of the sun was just beginning to peek over the mountains as I buckled on my helmet.
“This is the only life I’ve ever known, Walt!” cried Eve.
“Then I’m sorry.”
Conrad approached the gravel road as I mounted my bike.
“Where’er you gonna go?” he asked.
“Back home,” I replied. “Where’re you going?”
“I don’t know, yet.”
“Hop on,” I said.
Conrad got into the sidecar of my bike and we drove down the mountain, and headed east.