This story is by Victoria Edwards and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
It was an hour before sunrise, but there was no sign of the coming dawn in the starless, cloud filled sky as Jeanette slammed her car door shut. The noise was absorbed into the oppressive night, but she still winced. Her feet crunched over the gravel as she made her way to the lone garage and held her injured arm close to her side. She could smell her own blood dripping to the ground.
A vibration emanated from her back pocket. She awkwardly maneuvered her good arm to shut off the phone before it could make any more noise. It was her dad. He was probably worried that she hadn’t come home last night.
The raid was supposed to take place at noon and she was just supposed to be on lookout, far away from the danger. Too bad the new kid she’d been saddled with wasn’t content to wait.
Jeanette moved along as quietly as she could to the old gas station that was illuminated by a single, white light bulb and kicked on the metal side door. The action sent waves of nausea through her abused body. She leaned dependently against the door frame and tried to take deep breaths while she waited for a response.
Despite its rusty appearance, the door opened silently. The single overhead light flickered twice and went out as Jeanette entered the garage.
“What the hell happened to you?” asked the tall, shadowy figure standing inside the door. He lit a dull flashlight to guide Jeanette to the back room where three others sat cleaning their weapons. They stopped and stood with concern when they noticed her.
“Mal?” the closest one asked Jeanette’s escort.
“You won’t be needing those after all, boys,” she managed before her legs gave out from under her. Mal caught her before she hit the ground and easily carried her over to one of the couches lining the room.
“Gerry, get a sheet of plastic under her. Frank, the first aid kit. Aaron, go get Toni,” barked Mal.
They rushed to comply. Jeanette fought to remain conscious as Toni came in. Toni was tall for a woman, though still shorter than Mal. She knelt beside Jeanette while Mal bandaged the bleeding arm.
“You are fortunate, pup, that the blood-suckers didn’t bite you,” said Toni. Jeanette glared back, shivering from blood loss.
“Fortunate. That’s one word for it. That kid you sent with me charged into the nest without a plan or proper training. I managed take out most of them, but he’s dead,” said Jeanette.
Toni narrowed her eyes, “Most?”
“One did get away,” she confessed. “It saw me.”
The colour drained from Toni’s face as she stepped back from the couch. It wouldn’t be safe for Jeanette to return to the human world without protection. Jeanette knew this.
“You’ve put it off for too long Toni. I’ve proven myself over and over. You’re going to have to change me,” Jeanette said.
Toni abruptly turned away and started issuing orders to Gerry and Aaron to try to deal with the security breach, without having to resort to the change. Mal spoke softly with Jeanette.
“Jeanette, we’ve been over this. You’d have to leave your family, your friends, your whole life behind. Can you really do that to your father? You’re all he has left,” said Mal in his low voice.
Jeanette pushed herself up into a sitting position with her good arm. “I’m the only one he has left precisely because of those blood-suckers.” She was 12 when they came for her mother.
Mal shook his head, not giving up, “He’s also a New York police officer and by law he’d have to shoot you. Kill you. Humans don’t differentiate between the blood-suckers and wolf-kind.”
“That’s a risk I have to take Mal. They have my face and scent. I can’t go back to my father anyway or they’ll kill him too.”
A soft beeping interrupted. Toni flipped open her cell phone and listened intently. Jeanette longed to hear what was being said. When she was changed she would be able to. Toni had refused to change her for over a year, saying that the pack needed dedicated humans to navigate the human world on their behalf.
Toni snapped the phone shut and avoided eye contact with Jeanette. I wasn’t good news.
“What?” asked Jeanette.
Toni took a deep breath and threw the cell phone onto the weapon strewn table and marched over to Jeanette, who struggled to stand to face the taller woman. Toni pushed her back down and held her there with ease.
“They took your father.”
Jeanette’s heart stopped and she couldn’t seem to fill her lungs with air. The change would take weeks to complete. It would be too late by then. She tried to rise but Toni’s strong arm pinned her down.
“I have to try to rescue him,” Jeanette managed to spit out.
Toni’s hard, unblinking eyes told her that would not be permitted.
“It’s too late.”
Mal moved away to give Jeanette some space. It seemed her lungs were working in overdrive to make up for their momentary malfunction. Dead. Her father was dead.
“No,” said Toni, her eyes softening. Jeanette must have said that out loud.
“Not dead. Worse. He’s been turned,” she said.
Moments passed as Jeanette processed the information. She wouldn’t let the blood-suckers have him. She pushed Toni’s hand away and staggered to her feet. Toni let her.
“Do it,” she said looking up into the werewolf’s eyes, “change me.”
Toni nodded, her eyes turning yellow with blood-lust as the transformation began. Father or not, Jeanette wouldn’t rest until every single blood-sucker was gone.
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