Canis Major, by Melissa Crory
“Hey, hey, bitch. Know where all space wolves come from?”
Oh, god. This stupid joke again. I wish they would just kill me already and get it over with. I mouthed the punch line along with my captor.
“Why the long face? I’m not being Sirius.”
Oh, goody. He got three “funnies” crammed in two sentences. These guys are hysterical. I shifted position from one hip to the other. This wasn’t an easy task considering the silver shackles they had around my wrists and ankles. A pain ran down my leg, and I suppressed a whimper. I had early dysplaysia, and I certainly didn’t want to let on. One whisper of infirmity and I’d be “put down” immediately. I was only 27, but my German Shepherd heritage condemned me, and they needed me for the spectacle. They needed me to fight. I had to look fit and healthy.
The guard shuffled off, and I surveyed my surroundings. I could smell fear and anxiety of the other creatures through the pungent antiseptic that my cell had been scrubbed with. I could hear shrieks and moans, but most of all, I sensed them. The merman. The chupacabra. The gryphon. They had traveled all of space looking for things of legend. We were all hunted now, and made to kill one another to survive. As a female, I was much more valuable and rare to them. I supposed that I had brought a huge bounty because I had been spared the brothels and sent to the arena right away. In my sometimes-human form, I would have brought a high price for my “exoticness.” Whoever ordered my delivery must not only be powerful, but also bloodthirsty.
I felt the ship docking; it’s exhaust systems let off a hiss that was both yielding and melancholy. I don’t know why, but this sound of resignation angered me. I felt a low groan rising somewhere within me, somewhere in a place I thought I had lost. Hair pushed up between my shoulder blades. My hackles were rising.
As I heard the collective sound of boots against the steel grating outside of my cell I hunched over as I felt the thin tank I wore rip. The silver bracers burned and steamed, but I only smelled my flesh. I felt nothing. As the pneumatic doors slid open my vision bled to grey hues and I saw half a dozen guards with raised energy weapons. I forced myself to calm, whispering a borrowed mantra loaned by a fellow wolf that I had once loved. We were to be betrothed, to be monogamous. We would have started our own pack one day. Perhaps. He was taken to the arena years ago, and once captured, a wolf never, ever returns. I traveled alone now, and my solitude brought an insight other wolves never had. I could be cruel. I was good at killing and the hunt. My one kindness is that I never played with my food.
They dragged me out of my cell, sneering and leering, like men are wont to do. I was shoved into a sanitation pod, and with the push of a button was hosed off mercilessly with scalding water. The way it stung, I assumed that there must have been a type of chemical disinfectant mixed in as well. The acidic steam burned my eyes and made them tear, obscuring my vision. Before my surroundings became visible, I was yanked out once again and dragged down a hallway. My feet and knees dragged the ground and I could not right myself with my hands still bound. No matter. This is the moment I had been waiting for. I let out a howl of outrage again and again, each time intentionally more piercing and wailing, acting just like the wild, feral thing they imagined me to be. As expected (for humans are predictable even when you can’t smell their intentions) the guard to my right stopped, laid down his gun, and backhanded me.
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
I used that moment to change. Their flaw, though they restrained me with silver cuffs, was binding my hands in front of me. Had they bound me in the back, like I’m sure they were instructed, my arms would have snapped with an attempted transformation. My hair, no, my fur, still soaking wet, caused me to slip as I shed my shackles, and I slid into the guards, knocking them to the ground. The guard to my left dropped his weapon like a bumbling child, not sure what had just happened, and I took advantage of that opportunity to relieve him of his neck. Ruing the fact that that bath did me zero good, as I was now covered in blood, I turned my attention to the other guard. He was scrambling for his own weapon that had slid across the floor. I changed again, quickly, and now stood naked, and quite human, completely covered in the last gasp of space guard I had moments ago murdered, and I knew I looked frightening. I smiled.
“Ah. Ah. Ah,” I lilted. “No you don’t.”
I picked up the guards’ gun, and killed him in the way he deserved, with a cold weapon. A single energy blast was not only efficient, but it was also silent. I would not demean myself to expend my own energy on the likes of this. As my vision returned to bright, radiant color, I looked around me. Blood splattered the shiny, institutional walls of the spacecraft. I heard more boots on their way, and wanted nothing more than to have a fairy tale ending where I raced down the halls freeing my co-captives and turning the tables on my oppressors, but this was not the time, and I wasn’t sure the other prisoners could be trusted. I worked alone, and I needed to find out who had done this to me. I needed to find out how it could all be stopped.
Sirens wailed, and a red alert dome began to spin above my head. Damn it. They were wearing death notification monitors. They knew the guards were off the grid – which meant they probably knew I was on it.
I saw the exit hatch a mere 20 yards away. I could make it. I judged by their lack of air rectifying helmets that we were on an oxygen compatible planet. I knew from their light clothing that the climate would be hospitable. As I lifted the lever to open my gateway to freedom, I could smell green. I could smell foliage and life. I looked about, shielding my eyes from the natural light, as I had become accustomed to the cursed, mind numbing free fluorescence of my cell, and knew that the planet was tropical, therefore dangerous. It wasn’t what I was used to, it was alien to my home cities or their outlying swamps, but I could survive here.
If I wasn’t caught, that is. I panicked a little with the thought. I would find the person responsible for bringing me here. I would find out why, and then I would kill them.
They might hunt me, but I would win.
Thousands upon thousands of years of evolution and weapons creation was the legacy of man, that putrid animal, and still, at my most base and demeaned, I was still the “Greater Dog.”
Melissa Crory, though fairly new to the horror genre, is now madly in love. She has spent years in rock journalism writing for magazines such as OffBeat Magazine, New Orleans’ premier monthly music journal, and DeathRock Magazine, which showcased her favorite type of music – loud, dark and creepy. She has also recently published a short fantasy piece in Garbanzo Literary Journal and when she isn’t writing or traveling, she tours as a guitarist and bassist in goth and metal acts, dabbles in comedy and rips up clothing and calls it art. Read more about her and her adventures at www.melissacrory.com
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. 5 Comments.