Big, Bad Wolf, by Matt Cushing
“Freakin pigs” he mutters under his breath.
Taking deep breaths is no longer an option for this Big, Bad, Wolf right now. You’d think after so many attempts, it would have fallen in, but no dice. Just as the bricks were starting to come loose, Mom’s genetics kicked in. Concentrating on regulating his breathing, he triggers the change. Hair flows back into skin; teeth, muzzle, and claws all retract, and clothes that used to be tight across the chest are now loose. Mitchell Wolfe, CPA, stands next to his beat up Honda Civic, coughs once, and pulls the aspirator out of his pocket. Exhaling all of the air out of his lungs through the slowly closing hole that is his throat, he puts the plastic tube in his mouth, and triggering it, inhales the vapor. He closes his eyes, once again trying to get the muscles in his chest to relax and let up some of the pressure that feels like slowly being choked. Instead of making him feel better, he relives the embarrassment in his head.
His father Wulfgang Wolfe, a powerfully built man sitting behind a large carved wooden desk and head of the family shipping and import business, looked with disdain at his sorry excuse for a son. Born from his fourth wife, Mitchell had always been a scrawny, pitiful lad, who only grew up to be a scrawny, pitiful man. While his brothers all had businesses and successes of their own, his disappointment of a youngest son, had always reminded him of that one mistake. That one failure.
“Mitchell, I want you to collect the rents on the Cabin lots. None of the pigs have paid in the last several months, and I’m getting tired of their excuses. You will go, Were’d, and collect the money. If they aren’t willing to pay, then evict them.” Looking at his son shrinking away from him as his voice increases, incenses him even more. “Do it, or I will throw you to the Dogs!” The threat is no small one. Were’s, when they change, always have the slight possibility of not returning to form, and falling further into the beast. The ones who don’t fully come back or stay too long in Were form are called Dogs. The worst of these are his fathers enforcers, and they have no pity on the ones they are charged with punishing.
As we all know, Mitch did try. He huffed, and puffed, and blew….himself right into an asthma attack. Taking several deep breaths to get his breath back works wonders for the stars in his vision. Now feeling safe from the prospect of passing out, Mitchell triggers the change again and fills out his clothes once more. The sheer power, increased senses, and awareness is like a drug for the small man. By human standards, his wolf isn’t all that big or bad, so needless to say, by Were standards, he’s quite puny. He stands a better chance in Were form, so climbing into his car, he pulls away from the scene of what should have been the crime, but turned into a total fiasco. He can still hear the pigs taunting him from the brick house as he speeds away.
“What the hell am I going to do now?” he pondered, “I should have just gone down the chimney, my father would have been proud of that death at least.” The sarcasm in his voice is palpable. In the end, looking down the chimney, he had seen the large pot and the fire, and had decided against it. To leave was to invite the Dogs, but for the first time in his pitiful life, Mitch had had enough. Flooring the gas pedal, he sped past the ruins of the blown down straw cabin, and out towards the main road.
The forest path ended in Highway 10, just east of Houston. Wolfe Industries operated out of the docks in the Port of Houston, where they traded everything from little plastic toys from China to wine to fruit and lumber. Mitchell had been his father’s bookkeeper since the day he was officially turned by his father. Just having the blood wasn’t enough to allow him to use the gifts of his heritage, and year after year his brothers would taunt him for not being worthy of being turned. In a rare moment of pity, Wulfgang had relented and turned his youngest, and most undeserving son. That had been ten years ago, and unlike his brothers and father, neither his stature, nor his gifts had grown from his first turning.
Driving west along the highway, he felt the wind in his fur, his tongue lolling out of the side as he stuck his head out the window. He had always marveled at the senses the wolf had, even lesser than his siblings. He could taste the scent of motor oil from the gas station on the side of the road, the smell of fried dough from a carnival somewhere up ahead, and hear the sounds of motorcycles off in the distance.
“No way” he whispered, his head coming back in the window, his mouth snapping shut. He focused for a moment and changed back into his human form, his senses now dulled, but his thinking clearer. “That can’t be the pack already.” He pulled over into the right lane and slowed down, his foot poised over the brake pedal. The thrum of Harley engines grew louder by the moment. A cold thought ran across his mind, sending an icy feeling down his back. “This is a set up.” Fury at his father, and at the betrayal, surged through his veins, the change flowing back completely out of his control. He snarled, growling deep in his chest. The feeling was completely foreign, but felt so right. His father had known he would fail and already had the pack waiting.
“No more” he growled, looking in his rearview mirror. He could see the motorcycles in the mirror now, growing with each passing moment. He looked around in front of him, seeing an exit coming up, he took it. They were in form now, and would be able to track him anywhere. As he pulled up to the light at the end of the ramp and turned to go over the highway, he looked down at the pack. He saw four of them peel off and take the exit, the other two speed up, smiling up at him. Continuing on the overpass, the fury burned white hot in his chest, all thoughts of weakness, of asthma, or ridicule gone. The only thing in his mind and heart was survival.
Speeding down the road with the pack following, Mitch spied what he was looking for. A junkyard. He crashed through the locked gate, dodging the car amongst the piles of refuse and rubble. It was a car yard with stacks of crushed frames on one side like a maze, and piles of individual parts making small islands on the other side. He slammed on the brakes, locking the parking brake, and rushed out of the car. Dodging around the first set of cars, he lost himself in the maze of towered junk, looking for a place to defend himself. Small and scrawny he might be, but he always listened to his instructors, even through the ridicule.
“When fighting something bigger than you, never attack. Always draw them into a beneficial place first, take your advantage.” This lesson had been delivered with scorn, and several of the trainers had taken it upon themselves to drill this lesson into his head. Repeatedly. He could hear them coming, spreading out and converging on his hiding place. Draw them in, and separate them. Huddling in the chassis of an old delivery van, Mitch waited for the pair of wolves to pass. A third was moving more slowly, sniffing carefully. The leader, Mocker, yelled back. “He’s here, stop being so careful. How much harm can he do?” he growled back. Mitch muffled a chuckle as he zipped out of the van, across the path, and slammed into the back of the crushed pickup at the bottom of the pile. The result of which tipped the 20 foot tower of cars back down onto the path. And right on top of Mocker and his buddy. The Careful Wolf, stood there with his jaw hanging down in shock.
“I didn’t even smell you” was all he said as Mitch quickly changed direction and slid across the stunned wolf’s front, his claws reaching out for his throat. The fury was lending him strength and speed he had never possessed, and he took full advantage of it, revelling in the feel of his claws passing through the wolf’s neck. The wolf fell to his knees, the stunned look never leaving his face. Mitch stared down at the blood and viscera in his hand and tangled up in his claws and felt another strange and unfamiliar feeling. Satisfaction. He spun quickly, hearing the pile behind him shift. Mocker crawled out from under the wreckage. Clearing the end, he rolled over on his back, huffing loudly, and coughing. Blood seeped from several wounds in his chest, a large, twisted piece of metal protruding from his chest. Mitch came to stand over him. The large wolfman didn’t look so big and bad now, in fact, Mitch felt a tinge of pity. That feeling vanished as Mocker’s eyes came into focus.
“You killed Makens, whelp!” The fury in the wolfmans face turned it red, and blood seeped faster out of the slowly closing wounds. He struggled to get upright, but before he made any progress, Mitch did the sensible thing. He pulled the twisted metal strip from the larger wolf’s chest. Blood practically exploded from the wound, the light dying immediately from Mocker’s eyes. Several seconds and gallons of blood later, his body reverted back to it’s original human form. Mocker looked like a bruiser in wolf form, and yet he really didn’t in human form. Mitch realized that this was the first time he’d seen him in human form, and he reminded him more of his fifth grade Math teacher than one of his father’s enforcers. Standing there, with two dead bodies, and a third presumable under the rubble, Mitch relaxed, the metal piece dangling from his hand, dripping blood. Taking a deep breath in through his nose, he tensed, bringing the metal piece up backwards, pointing behind him. The shock of the wolf impaling himself on the twisted metal knocked Mitch forward, pitching him onto his hands and knees. He jumped up quickly, hands raised to defend himself, but after a moment, he relaxed and let his hands fall.
A man in clothes too large for his body stood there, a large piece of metal sticking through his chest and out his back. He’s knocked Mitch forward and fallen on the piece, driving it through him, killing him instantly. Mitch walked back and pulled the mans hair back, exposing his face. He didn’t know him, so he let his head fall. Moving slowly past him, he walked back out of the maze, revelling in another new feeling. Success. He’d done it. He’d killed four fullsized wolves and saved himself. Fury had set him free. He revelled in the feeling of success, laughter bubbling up from somewhere unfamiliar inside him. True and clean mirth uttered from his mouth for the first time, only to be tinged by satisfaction and pride at outlasting his father’s Dogs. He continued out of the maze of cars, alternating between laughter, and skin tingling excitement.
He stood at the place where he’d left his car, and the four motorcycles sat leaning on their stands. He howled loudly, releasing all of the pent up angst, energy, and anger into that one cry. His throat felt wide and open as he took deep breaths, breathing in the taste of victory.
Then he heard the two other pack members coming up the road, turning into the yard.
My name is Matt Cushing, and I’m just trying to get started publishing. I’ve been writing my own stuff for ages, and on the advice of a friend, thought I’d try my hand and writing for real. I’m in my mid 40s, I’m married with two kids in Central Jersey, and I work for an investment company in NYC. I’ve been studying martial arts off and on for 25 years, and I’m nuts about anything Japanese.
Posted on December 28, 2012, in Issue 6: Big Bad Wolf in a Big Bad Universe and tagged e-zine, genre blender, horror, science fiction, short stories, The Were-Traveler, werewolves. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.