by Andy Hollis
©2001 Andy Hollis -- all rights reserved
None of this would have happened if it hadn't been for Danny Conroy and his stupid book. Because of that book he stood up in the middle of Mrs. Gutierrez's math class and hollered out, "I know what Trevor is, he's a werewolf." The red flush on his cheeks matched his bright orange hair.
I didn't say anything, I didn't have to, the whole class broke up. All things considered, being called a werewolf was a lot better than some of the insults thrown my way.
"Mr. Conroy, whether or not Trevor is a werewolf is not a concern of ours. The problem is fractions not mythology."
"But it says so in my book. Werewolves have eyebrows that meet in the middle of their foreheads, and just look at him. His do. And they also have fourth fingers that are longer than the third. See?"
At that point I held up my hand and spread out my fingers. My ring finger wasn't longer than the third, but it was the same length, and my first finger was shorter almost as short as the pinky.
"Danny, I said to leave Trevor alone. This is not the time to pick on anyone because of his looks. Since you have solved one problem, there are three more on the board that are waiting for your attention."
"But the full moon is next week, and what if he kills someone? 'Werewolves have yellow or green eyes...' See? Look how green Trevor's eyes are."
That did it. I turned in my chair, flashed Danny my best grin, made sure he noticed my canines and said, "You know I'm gonna start with you if you don't shut up."
"I'm not scared of you, Williams."
"Boys, Danny, you have a choice. Anything else on the subject of werewolves you have to say will wait until the end of class or you can tell Principal Anderson. The problems on the board -- now," she insisted pointing.
Of course Danny wasn't scared of me. I've always been the shortest kid in class ever since I can remember. I'm twelve years old, in the seventh grade and I'm still four foot nothing and fifty pounds in my hiking boots.
The problem is no one can pin me down; I don't fit in anywhere, and they don't like that -- not the teachers, not the administrators and definitely not the other kids. On cards and attendance charts for school my race is listed as "other". So my skin is a bit dark -- a permanent sun tan, right? My hair is black, thick as wool and curls on a moment's notice -- and my eyebrows do meet in the middle. I'm not bad looking, but I'm not white although my Mom is, and I'm not black. I am ignored by everyone, except for a few idiots like Danny.
Four years ago, when I was in the third grade, a caravan of Gypsies pulled through town in their brightly painted wagons. They were having a celebration of the old ways and customs, and my class went to see the exhibit. I loved it. I thought the clothes were great, and I really wondered about my Dad, whoever he was, because if someone had put a gold ring through my ear and a bandana on my head I would have blended right in the with Roma kids.
During the show a couple of the kids started talking to me in their own language. I just shook my head. "Sorry?"
We talked for a while in English. They were asking me a lot more questions than I asked them, but it was only for a moment before their mother rushed them away from me. She turned and glared at me with such hatred I will never forget it. I was scared, and I had no idea what I had done to make her feel that way.
Of course my class noticed the same thing that I did, and for the rest of the year if anything turned up missing they always blamed me, because I was a Gypsy and Gypsies steal. That night, after I bugged her enough, Mom did tell me that my dad was from some East European county but he was not a Rom. I made it a game anyway and I remember getting mad when she wouldn't let me get a big gold earring.
Danny kept his mouth shut the rest of the day, but no one else did. By last period, I was starting to hear the werewolf bit from everyone, at least in the seventh grade. I tried to make it a joke, and I growled a bit when someone yelled out, "Hey, Wolfman."
That grew old, quick.
"But it's true. It says so right here," Danny said and read from his book. "See? It's not just me that says it. Trevor Williams is a werewolf and he could kill someone."
In a way I almost admired the way Danny had taken this to be his mission in life, protecting the world from werewolves, but I just wished he had picked on someone else. I had no friends as it was, and this only made matters worse because it seemed that a lot of the kids believed him.
Even though I had learned from long experience to keep my mouth shut, there were times it got to me. "Give it a rest, Conroy," I told him. "If I'm that dangerous how many people have I killed?"
The whole school yard turned silent. Danny looked around, and swallowed. "I don't know."
"So why can't I be a cool werewolf like in the movies? Remember Teen Wolf?" Maybe I could get on the basketball team or track. I'd be a natural. You know how fast wolves can run? We'd be State Champions for sure."
"Werewolves are killers -- monsters! It says so in my book."
"So? When was that book written? Eighteen hundred? Things change you know, and so do werewolves."
"No, it's not that old," he said flipping through to the title page. "Nineteen twenty-two."
"It's still an antique and you believe that stuff? I know a book that says the world is flat. Do you believe that? It was in a book." I did hear a couple of the kids laughing and with me for a change.
"It's not funny," Danny said. "He's a killer."
"Yeah, right. How can I kill people when everyone's bigger than me? Okay, maybe I won't be a star runner, but if nothing else, I bet I'd make a great school mascot."
Everyone at recess cracked up. Danny's face flushed a bright red. "The full moon is next Thursday and if we don't do something someone will die."
"So what should we do?" Johnny Adams, class president and definitely the coolest kid in the seventh grade spoke up. "Get a gun and shoot him with a silver bullet because of some book?"
"No," Danny answered quietly.
"Okay, does anyone here really believe Trev is a werewolf?"
About half the kids raised their hands. "Danny's book is right about him, John," someone said. "Look at his eyebrows."
"Maybe the book is right," Johnny said and glanced around the playground. The other kids only shrugged. "Maybe werewolves are real. But this mess is getting out of hand, here. The next full moon is Thursday? Then let's see how real this book is. Trev, what if we go out to the park Thursday night and watch the moon rise? You, me and Danny."
"Fine with me," I said with a shrug. "But when I don't turn into a wolf I want Danny to apologize to the whole school about me."
"That's fair enough. But if you do?"
"We'll bring a picnic so I won't get hungry," I said. "I promise I won't bite even if I do change."
"I'm not going out to the park -- at night with him. I don't want to get killed."
"Chicken!" a lot of the kids called out. More clucked and flapped their arms.
"I am not."
"Then it's settled. You come with us Thursday to settle this once and for all, or shut up about the whole thing."
"Okay, but I'm gonna bring protection."
"You're not that pretty," Johnny said. Danny turned a brighter red as everyone laughed at that, too.
That was Friday morning. Even with Johnny's help things only got worse Friday afternoon.
Danny had another bunch of kids with him, mostly younger kids now, but he glared at me from behind his book. "That's him. That's the werewolf."
"Trevor?" one of the kids asked, and several started to laugh. "Get real, Conroy, that kid is so small even if he did turn into a wolf he couldn't hurt a mouse."
"Yeah, we'd be in more danger from him peeing on our legs than biting us."
Danny held up his book. "But it says right here that..."
"Forget the book, geek boy, you could have had us going if you'd said it was the Langdon twins, but not Trev." All of us looked around to make sure those two monsters from the eighth graders weren't in sight.
"Hey, Trevor, you want to play kickball?"
"Yeah," I said and flashed Danny another grin. "Get lost, geek boy."
At least playing with the fifth graders was fun, and I wasn't hopelessly outmatched because of my size. I started to relax when I heard Ted Smith shouting. He was a grade ahead of me, in eighth grade, and big.
"Hey, Williams, who gave you permission to get near my little brother?"
"Leave him alone, Ted. We asked him to play."
"Listen, you little punk, you stay away from these kids, got that? Stick with your own kind, oh, yeah, I forgot, you're the only Gypsy werewolf in school."
I backed away from him, but I had seen that expression on too many faces lately. "It was just a game, Ted."
"Ted," Bobby Smith said. "Leave him alone."
"You'd better watch where you walk, kids, he may have left a mess on the playground. Did you, punk? Did you make a mess on the playground? I'll make a mess out of you if I ever see you within ten yards of my brother again." To emphasize his point, he threw a punch right at my face.
I had no choice but to step aside. I grabbed his arm, spun around and sent Ted flying to the ground. "Oops, I think you missed. Want to stand up and try again?"
"Whoa, can you teach me that?" one of the kids asked as Ted groaned.
"You'd better get lost," Bobby whispered at me before he bent over to help his brother sit up.
"Great game, guys," I said and took off.
Even though I walked to school early Monday morning, kids crowded the playground like so many leaves on the ground. No one said anything to me as I tried to get through the crowd to the door, but Ted and two bigger kids from the eighth grade blocked the way.
"This is it, wolf boy. We don't want you here so you'd better tell your mom to find you another school and quick."
I shook my head. "Man, you're really scared of me, aren't you. It's gonna take three of you to beat me up? What's the matter, Teddy? Too chicken to fight me by yourself? You need them to make you feel big and strong, huh?"
"You gonna take that trash from this little punk, Ted?" One of the others asked.
"No, Ted," said the other. "When you said you wanted us to help you take care of some kid that was bothering you we didn't know it was a third grader. What's the matter, Ted? You some kind of wuss?"
Ted's cheeks flushed bright red at that. He stepped forward, and I saw the blow coming long before he threw it. He hit the ground five seconds later.
"You just don't learn, do you?" I asked him then hopped over him to face the others.
"Hey, it's the Karate Kid. You think you can take us, shrimp?"
I shrugged. "One of you, maybe, but not both. You're gonna kill me, but one of you is gonna hurt."
They laughed and shook their heads. "You've got guts, kid. I'll give you that. Come back when you grow up."
Teddy stood up with his face a darker red and his fists clenched. "Come on, Josh, Larry, you said you'd take care of him."
"Give it a rest, Teddy boy, we ain't gonna ruin our reps by fighting with babies. Next time you get mad at someone you'd better pick someone in kindergarten. Maybe you could beat up a four year old."
"I don't need you guys to kill him," Ted announced and turned back to face me again.
"Don't do it," Danny yelled from somewhere in the crowd. "You can't hurt him and if he bites you, you'll be a werewolf, too."
"Oh, don't be gross, Conroy. I'd never bite him cause I'd never get the taste of dirt out of my mouth. This is all your fault, you and that stupid book. You're the one that declared open season on me, and I swear if I could turn into a wolf I'd rip you to shreds.
"What about it, Teddy? You're gonna kill me or what?"
Teddy looked around the yard, then shook his head. "Not gonna waste my time on you either." Everyone laughed at that, but I headed for the door as quickly as I could.
I don't know who started it, but at recess, the second I walked outside, someone tried to howl like a wolf. A couple others took it up, and by the end of school I was hearing it everywhere. For the next couple of days I couldn't go anywhere without a chorus of shrill howls following me.
Thursday afternoon I told Mom that I was going out with some friends for the evening, which surprised her. This was a first for me. I never had friends before, and I didn't want to say that one of them might not live to see the morning.
In self-defense class, they did teach us that these moves -- karate, judo, tai chi -- were just that, for self-defense. But if I could, I wanted more from Danny Conroy than an apology: I wanted blood.
Johnny Adams rang the doorbell at five-thirty on the dot. Mom answered the door before I could and let him in. "It's so good to meet you," she said. "Trevor hasn't had friends over before."
He shrugged. "That's going to change. Isn't it, Trev?"
"Uh, yeah," I said. "Where's Danny?"
"He's going to meet us there. He had some stuff to bring."
"I've got ham and cheese sandwiches packed for you guys, and sodas," Mom said and handed me the basket. "Have a good time."
"We will," Johnny assured her.
The evening was perfect, no clouds, a slight breeze, but it was warm for May. We had less than a month until summer vacation, and I couldn't believe I was really doing this.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked Johnny once had walked down the block. "Do you really believe that stuff about werewolves?"
"That book's got you pegged, Trev, but you know why everyone's doing this?"
I shrugged. "Yeah, they can pick on me now without coming out and saying it's cause I'm different."
"I think it stinks. How long have you been taking judo?"
"Four years, I talked mom into it when they figured out I was Rom. I don't know anything about Gypsies, never wanted to learn either, but I figured someone my size and color had better learn to fight."
Ten minutes later, we crossed over to the city park. Not many people were there, but a few kids were sailing wooden boats on the pond. Johnny skipped a few stones across the water before leading me off the path, to a large circle of trees. I set the basket down on a picnic table.
"Ham and cheese," I told Danny. "You want a sandwich?"
"No, I don't."
"I do," Johnny said and opened the basket. He passed a sandwich to me, then opened the sodas. "What's that stuff?" he asked Danny and pointed to a large grocery bag on the table.
"I'm ready for tonight. See?" He started pulling stuff out of his bag. "I got a silver crucifix and garlic. Lots of garlic."
"And?" I asked him. "You mean that's it?"
"It's enough to keep you in line, wolf boy."
"Don't you watch the movies? Man, that stuff is for vampires, not werewolves. Did you bring a wooden stake for my heart, too? This is rich. There's nothing in that stuff that would stop me from turning you into Purina® Wolf Chow. After all, you brought the flavoring," I said and picked up a garlic clove.
"He's right," Johnny said and punched Danny on the arm. "That book had better be wrong, Conroy, or I'll kill you before Trevor does."
"That's okay, I don't think wolves are that picky about who kills the prey animal just as long as they get to eat it."
"But my book says that garlic and silver are good against werewolves, too. The only part I couldn't figure out is the blood-ring. It says a blood-ring will control a werewolf, but it doesn't say how to make one."
I picked up the cross, and shook my head. "Does your Mom know you took this out of the house? I'd toss that book if I were you, Danny boy. That is, if you live to see it again." I looked at his face and bared my canines again. I didn't have to have a wolf's nose to smell Danny's fear. "What's the matter, Danny? It's okay for you to turn the whole school against me cause I'm a werewolf, but you can't take this? Why don't you just come out and say it. You're doing this cause I'm not white. I'm different. That's it, isn't it?"
"I don't care what you are as a human, Williams. You're a killer -- a monster."
I checked my watch and glanced up at the darkening sky. "We'll find out in a second, won't we?" I said and pointed at the first glimmer of the full moon. I sighed and wished once more that the werewolf thing was real.
Johnny walked over and grabbed Danny's arm. "Don't even think about running away, Conroy. We're gonna watch this together."
I sat down at the table, ate my second sandwich and finished my bottle of Pepsi. "Want a last meal, Danny boy?"
"You sure you want to eat him, Trev? There isn't much meat on these bones," Johnny said and shook Danny's arm.
"Will you two stop it?" Danny demanded.
In due course the moon rose over the trees. True dark wouldn't come for another couple of hours, but the moonlight seemed really intense. "There it is, Danny, and look, I didn't turn into a wolf. Big surprise. You want to tell me what this is really about now?"
Danny shook off Johnny's hold on his arm, and stared at me. "But the book said... I was so sure."
I opened the basket and reached for another sandwich when the first cramp hit my stomach. I doubled over. "You put something in the sandwiches?"
"No," Danny protested as I held my stomach against another cramp.
"I ate them, too," Johnny said. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. I swear it," Danny said.
I fell back off the bench and rolled on the ground for a second as wave after wave of burning then itching hit my skin. I tried to sit up and Danny screamed as we all saw the fur covering my hands. "What did you do to me?" I tried to ask but it sounded more like growls than words. Another wave of cramps hit me, and I had no choice but to roll over again from the pain.
"He's changing," Danny said. "He's turning into a werewolf! I told you so. He's gonna kill us."
"Trevor? Are you okay?"
I growled at him through a mouth filled with fangs. I looked up and both of them blanched a pale white. I could smell the fear and then the urine as Danny wet his pants. Two second later, the boys ran from the table as fast as they could.
My mouth and body kept stretching and pulling, but the whole thing lasted no more than five minutes. I took in a deep breath, and my brain seemed to explode with a whole new universe of smells and scents. I stood up on four legs, and glanced down at the fur that covered my body and then back to see a long, tail wagging behind me.
It really happened. But... I felt completely normal. I shook off the remnants of my clothes. Mom was going to kill me for that, but that was later. Here I was, a wolf, and it didn't feel any different from being a human. I couldn't see as well as I could before but my nose made up the difference.
I could still hear Johnny and Danny running down the path, but I had no desire at all to go after them. All the anger and hurt I had felt toward Danny drained away as I took a better look at my new self.
I couldn't stay here. I picked the basket up in my teeth, packed my clothes and sneakers, and Danny's crucifix. I left the garlic on the table only because there was no more room for it. I sat down on my haunches, and sighed. That stupid book had been right after all. I was a werewolf.
I carried the basket down to the pond, bent over to lap up some water, and spent another moment studying my reflection. Man, I was a handsome wolf, but just that -- a wolf, with a wolf's muzzle and body, and not some creature out of the movies. I wasn't that big an animal, but my paws looked huge and I thought I'd grow into the shape eventually.
Although I was small for a wolf, I was still large for a dog, and I didn't want to attract attention just then. I took my stuff into the undergrowth and headed for the park entrance. I trotted a for a while, then had to stop as I caught Danny's scent and not too far away.
Johnny and Danny crouched behind a large set of bushes peering through the thick branches back down toward the pond. I left the basket, and trotted up behind them, and sat down.
People don't have just one scent, they have hundreds that make up the picture my brain was telling me. I could smell everything, their emotions, even the cereal Danny had for breakfast that morning. Both were scared silly.
"Where is he?" Johnny asked.
"How should I know? Maybe he's not coming this way but going after someone else?"
"As mad as Trevor was about you I don't think so. I bet he can follow us with his nose just like a regular wolf."
"No, he can't, Johnny. He's a werewolf, not a wolf with four legs and a tail. He can't smell us."
"No, but I can. What did you do, Conroy? Oh, man, you wet your pants?"
"Shhhhh. He can hear you." Danny said and peered out again. "At least now you believe me. We saw him change."
"Yeah, we did, but where is he?" I saw Johnny stiffen up and he grabbed Danny's arm. "We've been had."
"What are you talking about?" Danny complained as he pulled his arm free.
"He got us and he got us good. What did we see?"
"We saw him turn into a werewolf. You saw how his hands and face got all hairy. He was rolling on the ground so much I couldn't see that much, but you heard him barking."
"I'm going to kill you, Conroy. Think about it. How long have you known Trevor?"
"Since I moved here in fourth grade."
"And he's been a werewolf all that time?"
"Yeah, but I never noticed it until I read that book."
Johnny shook his head. "He turns into a wolf every full moon for five years at least and have you ever heard of any people or kids being attacked by an animal in all that time?"
"No, but maybe he eats them and they just turn up missing."
"Come on, he's not that big a kid, and he can't be that big a werewolf to eat a whole person bones and all."
"Yeah, but what about all those missing dogs and cats?"
"No, they say people are doing that, and still they haven't found any half-eaten dog bodies either... So, what did we see? I'll tell you what happened. Just before he started changing he got something from that basket of his, right? I thought it was another sandwich, but I'm not so sure. I think it was gloves."
"Gloves? What for?"
Johnny sighed. "Furry gloves. You said it. He was rolling on the ground so much we couldn't see anything, so he sticks his hands into a pair of furry gloves then puts some fur or something on his cheeks, and we see him changing into a wolf. He set up us like an expert and we both fell for it. He's probably still back there laughing his guts out about this, and tomorrow we are so dead at school."
Danny crumpled to the ground. "I'm gonna kill him. I fell for the whole thing. We both did."
"You aren't going to touch him, got that?"
"But he got both of us."
"Yeah, and we both deserved it. If you ever say one word about that book again, I am going to make you eat it, page by page. Got that? Come on, you'd better get home and get out of those wet pants. I'll go back and check the picnic table..." Johnny said then stopped as he turned and saw me.
My tail thumped on the ground behind me, and I whined for attention. Here I was a real live werewolf, and all I really wanted was for someone to scratch my ears.
"It's him," Danny said. "Trevor? He's gonna kill me!"
"Chill, Conroy, it's just a puppy," Johnny said and held out his hand for me to sniff. "Looks like he wants to play with someone. There, that's the puppy," he said and rubbed my head, and scratched my ears for a bit.
After the others had left, I retrieved my basket and headed for home.
Dogs howled, growled and barked their fool heads off every step of my way home. I skulked home, tail between my legs, trying not to be seen by anyone. People did come out to shut up their pets, but there were enough large bushes and trees around to give me cover.
Our house sort of rambles over the lot, and for the first time in my life I was grateful for the row of hedges and bushes that surrounded the house for Mom's privacy. At least I didn't have to trim the things yet. I ducked back to the back yard, and I would have blushed if I could have when I automatically left my mark on one of the trees.
I sniffed a couple of times at the back of the house, then dug down into the dirt to expose a problem I'd have to tell Mom about in the morning -- termites. I climbed the back steps and found the infestation was just starting, but we did have mice nesting in the kitchen walls. I dropped the picnic basket off in the porch by the washing machine, and pushed my way inside the back door.
But the question was what do I do now? If all the movies were right, I would turn back to myself in the morning and I didn't want to be too far away from home, but I didn't want Mom seeing me like this either. If she did catch me, I just hoped she would wait until the human me got home to ask me about the dog, rather than just calling animal control.
A real wolf, I figured, would be out hunting dinner, but I hadn't the slightest idea how to go about hunting, and I didn't want to. I did have the ham and cheese earlier. So, besides scaring every dog in town, what was there for me to do?
The doorbell rang. I heard Mom get up from the TV to answer it. A moment later, I heard Johnny asking, "Hi, Mrs. Williams? Is Trevor home, yet?"
"No, he isn't. I thought he was with you?"
"Uh, yeah, he was, but we kind of split apart. I really need to ask him something so could you ask him to call me when he gets home?"
"Does he have your phone number?" Mom said and I heard her rummaging around for a piece of paper.
I took the chance, and slipped down the back hallway to my bedroom while Mom was busy at the front of the house. I jumped up on my bed to look around the room for something I could take with me that might keep me busy the rest of the night. I nosed around on my desk, tried to grab a baseball but only succeeded in knocking over a stack of books.
The door opened, and Mom stood in the hallway staring at me. I tried to look as friendly as I could and I wagged my tail, hard.
"Trevor?" she asked. If I had thought this through at the time, I never would have nodded my head over and over again. "Oh, Trev, I'm so sorry," she said and walked right up to me. She threw her arms around my neck, and hugged. "You really are a beautiful wolf, but... Oh, dear Lord, did your friends see you change?"
I shrugged and shook my head. "They saw it but they didn't believe it," I said but still in growls and yips.
"Sorry, sweetie. Okay, in the morning we have to have a long talk about this, but at least, for now, I will try to ask you just yes and no questions, okay?"
How in the world did she figure out it was me? I stared at her. She seemed awfully calm for a Mom who just found out her son was a werewolf.
She must have seen the puzzled expression on my face. "Trev, this isn't the first time you've changed. I had prayed that it would never happen again, but... I bet you're starved."
I nodded as hard as I could.
"Okay, I'll get something in a sec. What about your clothes? Are they still out in the park where someone could find them?"
This time I shook my head. I lead the way back down the hallway and retrieved the picnic basket from the back room.
"Good thinking. Okay, dinner time." She pulled a package of ground beef from the fridge, opened it, and put half in a cereal bowl on the floor for me. I stared at her, and whined.
"You want me to eat that, raw?"
"What's the matter, sweetie?"
I picked up the bowl and carried it over to the stove. I pulled open the bottom drawer and snagged a skillet.
"You want hamburgers? You're a wolf."
"So?" I whined again. I pulled open the fridge door and retrieved the ketchup and mustard.
"You always liked raw hamburger with a little salt," she said and dipped into the package. She tossed me a ball of raw meat, I snapped it down, then shrugged. That was too good to wait. I buried my nose in the rest of the meat, and gulped. A minute later, I looked up and whined for the rest of the package.
"Not a chance, Trevor. That was pound and a half of ground beef, and I can't afford to feed you like this every night. The full moon will last for three more nights and I'm stocking up on dog food."
I rolled on the floor, gagging until she laughed. "I'll get the good stuff, I promise."
The next morning, I woke up lying curled at the foot of my bed. I yawned a couple of times, and remembered being a wolf. I hoped it was just a dream, but I was in bed without any clothes on, which never happens, and I still smelled like wolf. In fact, I thought, my nose was at least a hundred times sharper than it had been before the change. It was still not as sensitive as it was as a wolf, but this was weird.
My clock read: six AM, and I knew I'd never get back to sleep now. I got up, grabbed my bathrobe and headed for the shower to wash off the animal smell.
After I dressed, I wandered out to the kitchen but found Mom out in the living room waiting for me. She patted the seat on the sofa next to her so I took it.
She picked up a large metal box from the floor and put it on her lap. "Trevor, I know I should have told you this before now, but I never could think of any way to begin. This is a picture of your father."
I snatched the portrait from her hand and stared. The man in the picture was tall, had dark brown almost black hair and steely blue eyes. He smiled for the camera, and I saw no trace of Rom or anything exotic in his face at all. His eyebrows didn't meet in the middle, and his hands were normal. "But..."
"I have no idea why you look the way you do, sweetie. There must be some Gypsy in his background, but I never would have guessed. If it is Gypsy and not something else altogether.
"I was a political science major just getting out into the work force when I met him. I was young, and he was dashing. He was an ambassador's aide for the Russian Embassy. The cold war was just ending, and it was an exiting time for all of us. I fell head over heels for him. He stayed with me a month. It was an grand romantic affair but over before I knew it. He never knew I was pregnant when he left. I tried to find him when the doctor told me the news, but the name he gave me, which to me sounded so mysterious and almost dangerous, is about as common there as 'John Smith' is here.
"This is something I should have done a long time ago, Trev, but I kept hoping the issue would never come up again." She opened the box and pulled out an oversized photo album. "For what it's worth, this is our family."
"We have a family?" I asked, stunned. A few seconds later, I found out I had grandparents, two uncles, an aunt and five cousins. Judging from the pictures I bet there wasn't a werewolf among them. They all lived back East -- Boston High Society, no less, and I could just picture the expression on their faces if they ever saw me.
Mom agreed with that guess, and flipped through the pages. "This is the one I wanted you to see, sweetie. This is your first baby picture."
I must have stared at the picture, with my mouth wide open for an hour. I didn't want to believe it, but I couldn't see how the picture had been faked. There was a baby boy, lying on his back in a hospital crib, wearing a diaper only, and covered from head to toe with hair -- thick, brown hair that was matted at places enough to resemble fur. The baby had teeth, not sharp but there, and the beginnings of claws on his fingers and toes.
"You were born a puppy," she said and placed a hand on my shoulder. "The hospital staff was very good about keeping this quiet, but it was an effort getting you home without having the doctors turn you into a test subject first."
That's me, I thought, and the realization finally hit home. "But?"
"My mother and father both agreed that you were an abomination -- their word -- sent by the Lord to punish me for the affair I had with the Russian spy. I took you and moved out here shortly after that, and I never spoke to them again.
"It was hard, baby, really hard. I was cut off from the family finances, I did have the education and the experience to get a good job, but I had to listen to everyone dear to me insist that I give you up for adoption. That was not an option. You were my son, no matter what you looked like, and I wasn't buying it."
She turned the page. The pictures now showed me growing to be more and more a puppy. I saw my face start to stretch into a full muzzle, and I even saw the beginnings of a tail on my backside. By the time I turned one I was a puppy, no getting around it -- four legs, tail and fangs that would make any wolf mother proud.
"In some ways, I thought this would be easier for you. You were such fun to have as a puppy, very affectionate and always wanting a cuddle. You followed me everywhere and I no longer had to worry about explanations to the neighbors about your 'condition'. But, on your second birthday I noticed that you were getting a little less furry and a few weeks later you actually had a bald patch. It took six months, but look, you were a baby again."
Sure enough, I saw myself as a baby boy, no hair, no teeth, and tan skin. "I was a baby twice?"
"Yes, you were, and you have been growing, sort of, but that's one reason why you are so much shorter than your school mates. You were newborn sized at two and a half, but the school system wouldn't wait for you to catch up."
She looked at me, and stroked my cheek. "How are you doing with all of this?"
"It's a lot to take in, Mom. Give me a break? It's weird. I mean, I always thought being a werewolf would be different -- you know, special like having an adventure. But last night, I changed into a wolf, came home, had dinner and watched TV until bedtime. I do that every night. I didn't need to be a wolf."
"No, but this isn't the movies, Trev. The last thing I would permit is adventures."
She smiled. "How do all the werewolf movies and stories end?"
"The werewolf gets shot with a silver bullet."
"Yes, precisely. The problem is that this is real life. What can we trust to be accurate about those stories? You and I both know that you aren't dangerous, but suppose you go wandering and a hunter spots you, or a farmer who thinks you're after his livestock? Suppose we find out the hard way that regular bullets will kill you not just silver as in the stories."
"I didn't think of that."
"That's what mothers are for. You aren't going outside without a collar and I will take you to the vet tonight to get a rabies shot and tag."
"Mom," I said. "I don't need a shot."
"No, but Duke the wolf dog does. What do you want for breakfast?"
"Not dog food, that's for sure or raw hamburger. Oh, by the way, save the money for the vet, we've got termites in the back porch and two nests of mice in the kitchen. I hope having my scent around will scare them off, but I'm not a cat, and I won't eat them."
She laughed, "Why am I not surprised? Only you would turn into a wolf that's a picky eater."
Kids from every class in the middle school waited for me, leaving no room in the playground to get through. As soon as I did get show up, Johnny Adams led a huge round of applause for me. I blushed, then took a bow.
"And the Oscar for best actor goes to -- Trevor Williams for his role in..."
"Curse of the Teenaged Gypsy Werewolf," I filled in.
"Right," he said with a laugh. "You were great. I mean, I have never been set up and had like that before and I hope I never am again." He went on to describe the scene to a rapt audience. I spotted Danny hiding away at the back of the crowd.
"... I didn't look in that basket of his to see if he brought anything with the food. But he did. He had a pair of gloves, and something for his face. He took them out and started getting stomach cramps. He said he thought Danny had poisoned him, or something and then he went into convulsions. He was perfect, rolling around on the ground and moaning in pain, he slipped the gloves on his hands. We see them and think his hands turned into paws, then he seemed to be growing fur on his face. Finally, he started growling and both of us freaked. Danny pissed his pants, and we ran like frightened rabbits since we saw Trev turning into a wolf. We hid behind these bushes for half an hour or so, but he never came after us."
"I was laughing too hard to chase you guys, and if you got a good look at my 'fur' you would have seen how lame it was."
"Danny really wet his pants?" someone asked and most of the kids started clapping for me again.
"Yeah," I said. "I heard him do it."
"I had to stay next to him behind those bushes and I smelled it," Johnny added.
I saw the glances everyone threw at Danny, and realized that the role of victim had just been passed on. "I didn't want to get you, John, but it was the only way to get Danny and that stupid book. Hey, Conroy, boo. I'm a werewolf!"
"Hope you're wearing diapers, Conroy, cause I don't want to smell you in math class."
Now that the great werewolf adventure was over, as far as everyone at the school was concerned, I found myself falling back into my usual anonymity quickly. When I was called to Principal Anderson's office in the middle of the last period, I thought it had to be a mistake.
Danny sat at one chair in the office, and Mr. Anderson waved me to another. "Come in, Trevor. It seems that Danny has been in several fights today and he says that you are to blame. I wanted to hear your side of the story."
"Danny's got this book on werewolves..."
"Oh really? Which one? I've always studied the supernatural," Anderson interrupted me. Danny told him. "That's a good one. Not as much detail as Sommers or Sabine-Gould but good. And?"
"Right in the middle of math class, Danny told the whole world I was a werewolf."
"I can see that," he said and stared at me. "Your eyebrows really do meet in the middle. I've never seen that before. Let me see your hands? Your teeth? Your eyes are green enough and your ears are slightly pointed. How long have you been here?"
I could smell the man's growing excitement. This could be a problem. "Since the fifth grade, and I've always looked like this."
"The signs are so clear, I'm surprised I never noticed them before. Then what happened?"
"The whole school turned against me, except for Johnny Adams." I told him the rest of the story.
"So, you say you didn't change into a werewolf just used gloves and fake fur?"
"It was lame but it worked, and I wasn't the one that spilled the news about your accident, Danny."
"I know but now the whole school is picking on me."
"How old are you, Trevor?" Mr. Anderson cut in.
"I'll be thirteen in August, why?"
"Because this is just that time that you would start changing. This is incredible."
"Come on, Mr. Anderson, you don't believe all that stuff, do you?"
"I'm not sure what to believe. Did you change into a wolf last night?"
"Of course I did. I'm a werewolf -- right, Danny?"
"Okay, I get the point. I started this whole mess, and I'm getting it back doubled. I'm really sorry about this Trevor, and it's like really hard to say this." He stuck out his hand and I shook it.
"Okay, since that is settled, what are you doing tonight, Trevor?" Mr. Anderson asked me.
"Like when the moon rises? I'll be out hunting for fresh meat."
"I'd like to see that."
I shrugged. "Only if you don't mind getting torn into bite sized pieces. Can we go now?"
"Here," Mom said the second I walked through the kitchen door. "Put these on."
She handed me a medium sized dog collar and a separate flea collar to go with it. I slipped them over my head without a comment, and started to adjust the fit. She stopped me and asked to wait until after the change for that.
"The moon is due to rise at 5:45 tonight. You want a snack?"
"Yeah, but no doggy biscuits until later, okay?" She flashed a grin and I knew I had caught her.
At five thirty, I wandered back to my room, stripped off my clothes and stretched out on my bed to wait. I reached for my stereo to put on a CD when the doorbell rang. I padded over to the door to my room and poked my head out as Mom answered the bell. Then, I closed the door, gently and cursed as I caught Mr. Anderson's scent.
I opened the window to the back yard, climbed out on the sill and closed the window behind me before jumping down to the grass. I would never complain about trimming those hedges again, I thought as I ran for cover. I froze half way there when I realized that Danny Conroy was hiding in the bushes, watching me. I veered over there, dove for cover in spite of the stickers on my bare skin and came up crouching beside him.
"What are you doing here?"
He reached over and fingered my collar. "You're out here with nothing but a flea collar on, and you're asking me what I'm doing?"
"Anderson's inside, and I can't let him catch me. Look," I said with a long sigh since I felt the first twitch in my tummy. "Your book was half right."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not a were- wolf, okay? I'm a were- puppy dog. That was me last night, the puppy that Johnny played with? If I wanted to hurt you I could have done it then, but that was the first time I ever changed in my life and I just wanted my ears scritched."
"But that's impossible. My book says that people don't turn into real animals like that."
"I told you it was half right. That means it's half wrong in real life. I'm gonna start changing in a minute and you can see for yourself, but please -- please don't freak out. The worst thing I'd do to you is lick you to death."
The twitching grew worse as the moon rose, but I didn't get the cramps I had from the night before. I leaned forward, pressed my hands into the ground and let my body flow into a different shape. It took maybe thirty seconds.
"Oh, Trevor, you are so cute," Danny said and rubbed my head. I licked his face for a moment before he pushed me away. "Now what?"
"We've got to get out of here," I said. "Take me for a walk."
"What for?" he asked back.
"Haven't you ever had a dog? Guess what for, or do you think I can use the boy's room like this?"
"I guess not, but you're gonna go out in front of everyone?"
"I'm a dog, why not? No one's gonna notice except you. Danny?"
"This is so weird. Mom couldn't understand me at all last night when I tried to talk to her, but you can?"
"You sound like you usually do. I mean, yeah, I can hear you growling and barking too, but I can understand you."
"This is great. Now you can tell mom not to take me to the vet tonight. Come on."
Mr. Anderson had a small, convertible, parked in front of our house. I led Danny down the block and around a few corners. Once out of sight, in spite of the dogs carrying on, I relaxed and did what I had to do.
As a wolf cub, I stood about as tall as Danny's waist. He walked beside and kept a hand on my collar when people walked close enough to see us. After a while, I found I didn't mind the "good boy" and "sit" routine he put me through, either.
We walked around the block a few times until we saw the convertible pull away from the curb and head the other way. "That was close," I said.
Danny walked me up to the door, and rang the bell. Mom answered the door a second later, took one look at me and threw her arms around my neck.
"Thank heavens you found him. I was so worried. He must have got out from the yard."
"It's okay, Mrs. Williams. Trev asked me to take him for a walk so Mr. Anderson didn't see him. Hi, I'm Danny Conroy. I guess he told you what I did?"
"You were one of the boys with him in the park last night?"
"Yeah, Johnny and me. We saw him start to change last night, and we ran, but Johnny decided what we saw wasn't real."
"Trevor told me about that. Won't you come in?"
"This afternoon, we were both in Mr. Anderson's office," Danny said as she closed the door behind us. "He seemed convinced that Trevor really would change too, so I sort of hid in the back yard to see if I could see anything. Trevor ducked out the window and changed again right in front of me, and he's asking me to tell you that I can understand him when he talks as a puppy."
She looked at me, and I nodded hard.
"He thinks it's a bad idea to go to the vet, tonight."
"That's because he doesn't want a rabies shot. You have to have a license, son, so we can go now or after dinner."
"After dinner. Can Danny go with us?" I asked. Danny translated.
"I guess. You want to call your mom and tell her where you are?"
Mom picked my up and put me on the exam table as the doctor walked into the room. "Hi, I'm Dr. Russell. That is a handsome puppy."
"His name is Duke, and we just picked him up at the breeders, yesterday. I'm sure he needs his puppy shots and a license."
Danny moved aside as the doctor ran his hands along my spine, then my tail and over my head. He stuck a thermometer up my butt, and pulled my lips open to take a quick look at my teeth. After he checked my temperature, he said. "Duke is in excellent health, Mrs. Williams. But may I ask if you are aware of not only the legalities but the problems in owning a timber wolf?"
"Wolf dog, Dr. Russell. His father was a shepherd but his mother was three quarters wolf."
"That may be what they told you, but there isn't any dog in this one. He's a magnificent animal, and friendly as a puppy, but my best recommendation to you would be to get your money back. There are several good wolf rehabilitation programs to introduce this guy back into the wild, or there are hundreds of zoos that would be willing to take him in."
"It's not illegal to own a wolf in this state, or a wolf dog either, Dr. Russell. I appreciate your concern, but all we really need are his shots and license."
"Okay, champ, I tried. Think he'd let me look in his mouth? Open up, Duke."
I did so to let him get a good look at my teeth. I heard a sharp intake of breath, and at one point he reached inside my mouth, wiggled a tooth and stood back. I looked at Danny. "I hope I don't need fillings as well as shots."
"Something wrong with his teeth, Dr. Russell?" Danny asked.
"Mrs. Williams, what is going on here? This is impossible. Duke has one very small and very human molar growing out of his jaw, and it has a gold filling."
"I had forgotten about that. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to brush regularly?" Danny laughed. "That happened two years ago, but he hasn't had any cavities since."
"Two years ago? This puppy can't be more than six months old."
"He's twelve, well with a physical age of nine and half, but..." Mom visibly collapsed. "Duke isn't a wolf, or a wolf-dog. I shouldn't have tried to slip that by you, Dr. Russell, but I had to do something. He's my son, Trevor and a werewolf."
"With that tooth I believe you, Mrs. Williams, but..."
"I don't want anyone mistaking him for a dangerous dog, or taking him to the pound. He's not a danger to anyone, you can see that, but he needs to be legal as a dog."
I pulled a pen out of Dr. Russell' pocket. "You got any paper?" Danny translated. A moment later, I wrote out in squiggly letters, "Hi. I'm Trevor."
The vet watched me, read the note then sort of collapsed into a chair. "Okay, okay fine. Now I have seen everything, and I can die a happy man. Trevor?"
I nodded my head.
"Anything else but that could have been faked or taught, I guess, but... Okay, young man, I can see your Mom's point. You get puppy shots, a rabies certificate and a dog license."
As soon as Mom parked in our driveway, Danny volunteered to take me for another walk.
"That's right, Danny," I told him. "A boy's best friend is his werewolf."
He groaned. "That's bad, Trev." He told Mom what I said.
She groaned too and said, "Trevor's always been a sick puppy but now he's got the fur to prove it."
We strolled over the to park, and I found myself acting like any other dog on a leash. I tugged, and sniffed at everything and left my mark on every other bush. Not that I was feeling territorial but there were a lot of people out walking and I didn't want to attract too much attention.
Once on the grass, Danny unhooked the leash and let me run. I took off running for all I was worth just to stretch my legs, and then to explore with my nose. I loped down to the pond to get a drink and to let Danny catch up. Just my luck, I thought as I lapped the water, Mr. Anderson was heading this way as well. I didn't see him too clearly but I did see the silver cross he hung around his neck.
Danny clipped the leash back as I told him about Anderson. He nodded, and we both turned to watch the moonlight on the water.
"Hello, Danny. Good looking dog you have there," Mr. Anderson said and held out his hand for me to sniff. "Have you seen Trevor?"
"Sure, he's right here."
"Cute, but you and I both know that people don't turn into real wolves or little boys turn into puppies. Nor do they get rabies shots."
"But that's to protect him against any rabid were-foxes or were-squirrels we might run into. His name's Duke and I haven't seen Trevor and that cross is great for vampires but not for werewolves."
"And who told you that?"
"Trevor did, and he's the expert," Danny said. I edged closer to Mr. Anderson. "If you see Trev, would you tell him to call me? He's got my number."
I sniffed at Anderson's shoe for a moment before I lifted my leg. With great presence of mind, Danny yanked on my leash and said, "Duke! Bad dog! Bad dog."
Mr. Anderson danced away as he realized what I was about to do.
"I'd better get him back on his walk. Bye, Mr. Anderson," Danny said and quickly pulled me away from the man.
I looked up at him and stuck out my tongue. "And how often am I gonna get the chance to do that and get away with it?"
"You'd get away with it, but I'd be the one in trouble for not controlling my dog. Come on, Rover, we'd better get home." At that point, Danny broke up laughing. "Damn, I wish there was someone else I could tell about this. The look on Anderson's face was so great. Don't worry, I won't tell. I know what people would think."
Saturday morning, I woke cold and cramped from sleeping on the kitchen floor with nothing on but a blanket. I remembered walking out to drink from my water bowl before I went to bed, but I didn't remember much else. After a long stretch I hurried back to my room for some clothes. A guy could catch pneumonia from doing things like that without fur.
Back in the kitchen I poured myself a bowl of cereal, put the water on for Mom's coffee, and opened the fridge for the milk. I looked up then at the side door. Something wonderful was walking down the side path. I was ready and opened the door the second I heard the knock.
A tall man, holding an open can of dog food, stood there, staring down at me and into the house. "Uh, is your Mom home?"
"What is that? It smells great," I said trying not to drool.
"It's a new type of dog food we're trying out. You have a dog?"
"Yeah, but he's at the vet's," I said since I was sure the man could see the water and food bowl on the floor. If there was a dog in the house I'd bet that he'd be at the door trying to get the food. In fact, I thought if I still had my tail it would be wagging. I bent down, took a healthy sniff from the can and frowned.
"You know," I said, "that's mostly juice, bread, corn filler and veggies but very little meat. It smells great, but what is it? Junk food for dogs?"
"It's the latest thing in a heathy diet for dogs large and small..."
I shook my head. "Not even close, mister. I might let Duke have a little of that as a treat, but that's it. Mom won't let me eat chips or things and that's just as bad... What's wrong with it?" I asked as I noticed a very subtle but distinct chemical odor. "What are you trying to do? Poison my dog?"
"No, there's nothing wrong with it."
I could smell the change in his emotions and knew he lied to me. He knew what was going on. "You got another can of that? Throw this one away."
"Yes, I have plenty but are you going to buy some?"
"Buy what?" Mom asked from behind me.
"This guy's got dog food, but the can he was showing me is bad."
"I can't smell anything wrong with it," the man said.
"My son has an extremely sensitive nose, and if he says it's bad, it's bad. Is it just that can or all they all bad?"
I took the can in question and put it on the counter trying not to touch it too much. The man opened another can, and I took in another long sniff. "This one's bad too. You'd better get some fresh cans, mister before you start hurting dogs around here."
"Okay, I will." He shook his head, and turned around probably to go next door.
"Don't touch that," I told Mom who was about to throw the can on the counter away. I picked up the phone and dialed the police department. "Hi" I said and gave the lady that answered my name and address. "There's this guy handing out doped cans of dog food here." I told her what happened, and that the guy was probably still in the neighborhood. She said she'd send a car around right away.
"What's going on?" Mom asked as she fixed her coffee.
"That guy knew the can was bad, I could tell, Mom. It's not poison, but I think it's dope. Suppose we had a real dog, and he went after that can of junk food. We'd go out, the dog would conk out and that guy would rip off the house while the dog slept."
"Or the dog," she said and stared at the can. "There have been a lot of missing animals lately."
"The worst thing about it, is I still want some. Man, that smells good. I'm taking my breakfast into the living room."
Two policemen came to the house about ten minutes later. They actually listened to my story and didn't laugh at me. They both tried sniffing the can. One shook his head, but the other frowned. "I think the kid's right. There is something off about this food. We'll get it checked out immediately," the guy said and wrapped up the can.
A little later, the phone rang, and I was almost shocked to hear that it was for me. "Hello?"
"Hi, it's me," Danny said. "You want to come over? My dad's getting some movies for today."
"I'd love to. Just no werewolf movies, okay?"
"You got it."
I didn't know if the moon would be full enough to make me change that evening, but I didn't want to stay too late at Danny's. He walked back with me, in case he would be needed to take me out later.
We found a strange car in the driveway. I checked my watch, at least there was plenty of time before the moon rose to get rid of whoever was visiting Mom. I walked in the kitchen door with Danny right behind me.
"Hi, Mom, Danny's with me," I called out. "Do I need more shots?"
Mom and Dr. Russell from the night before wandered into the kitchen. "No, you don't."
"Then what's he doing here?" I asked, bluntly.
"After last night, you owe this to me, young man," he said and held out his hand. "Glad to meet the -- well human version so to speak. It's really true about the eyebrows, isn't it."
"Yeah," I said.
"I could pluck them," Mom offered.
"No way. They can stay like that, thanks." I grabbed a soda for myself and Danny from the fridge.
"What's it like, Trevor. This is too incredible for words, but to actually experience it must be something."
I followed Mom and Dr. Russell out to the living room and sat down on the floor next to Danny. "That's the weirdest thing about this, sir. When I'm a wolf it feels normal for me to be a wolf, just the same as it feels normal for me to be a kid. I like being a wolf, but it's hard not being able to talk to Mom when I need to."
"Can you understand dogs? What they are saying?"
"In a way," I said. "It's not like all of a sudden I hear them talking in English, but I've got a better idea of what the barks mean. Mostly it's 'get lost, you stinking wolf'."
The doorbell rang. I didn't need Mom's announcement to recognize Mr. Anderson's scent. She showed him into the living room with everyone else.
"Good, you're home, Trevor. I missed you last night," he said quietly.
"Danny and Mom had to take me to the vet for my puppy shots. Isn't that right, Dr. Russell?"
"Yes, he's as up to date as a puppy can get."
"This isn't a joke, Trevor," Mr. Anderson said. "Sorry, Steven Anderson, I'm the principal at Eastside Middle."
"Tom Russell, Trevor's vet."
"Mrs. Anderson, the reason I'm here is a very serious issue. As I told you last night, if the old stories are true and Trevor is a werewolf the whole town could be in for some rough times."
"Other than the fact that he might chew on something he shouldn't, he was very well behaved for me last night. I don't see that his changing shapes will present a problem to anyone else."
"He wasn't well behaved for me last night, but I'm just his best friend, not his doctor," Danny complained.
Mom cut in, "Mr. Anderson, I do appreciate your concern in this, but the only problem we are having at the moment is deciding which brand of dog food he prefers. But then he's always been finicky."
"The way he should start growing as a wolf will take care of that issue. He will be eating you out of house and home soon, good thing it's only for three or four days a month."
Mr. Anderson's face flushed red, and I could see his blood pressure rising. "Mr. Anderson," I said. "I know what you've read in those books of yours, and I wanted to tell you they don't mean anything in real life. When I change, I change into a wolf cub, just that, with four legs, a tail, a long nose, and great big teeth. The first time I changed I was so mad at Danny for starting this mess that I wanted to rip him into shreds. After I changed all I wanted to do was be friends with him. It worked out, and he's gotta be a good friend if he's willing to walk me at nights. But when I'm a puppy, I don't want to bite people, or even hunt anything... Well," I admitted, "okay, I ate a mouse last night, but there's still lots more in the kitchen, but that's about it."
"You ate a mouse?" Danny asked me.
"Yeah, I didn't mean to, it just happened. But wolves do that. They don't attack people."
"For now," Mr. Anderson said. "When you're older and larger as a wolf, what then?"
"I don't lose myself when I change, Mr. Anderson. It's still me under the fur. Danny can understand me when I talk, too." I felt the first twinges in my stomach and glanced at my watch. "I'll be right back and you can see for yourself I'm not a threat."
I stood up and so did everyone else. They followed me to my room and watched as I took off my watch then kicked off my shoes and socks. "Can't a guy get a little privacy around here?"
"Not tonight, kiddo," Dr. Russell answered. "We're not here to look at your skinny self either but to see the change."
He was right, even Mom wouldn't leave and I had no choice but to get out of the rest of my clothes. I bent over, touched the carpet with my hands and felt my self flow back into wolf shape. With my tail wagging, I trotted over to Danny and stuck my muzzle in his hand for a petting.
Dr. Russell took in a deep breath. "I saw it, but I still don't believe it. I wish we had more information on how this is done, but even still..."
"Mrs. Williams," Mr. Anderson interrupted the other man. "Until this is resolved, Trevor will be a potential threat to everyone in this town. We can't count on his good nature to last for ever, and I would hate to see anyone killed because of him, but that is a chance we cannot afford to take.
"There is a way to cure him. It won't be easy, but it can be done. If you are willing --"
"And you have this cure from the same books that say werewolves are by nature killers?"
"Yes, but the instructions are clear and --"
"I won't hear of it. I appreciate your concern for my son, and your student, Mr. Anderson, but I don't see Trevor's being a werewolf as something that needs to be cured. He seems to enjoy it, and he isn't hurting anyone. The only reason I let you into my home this evening is that keeping this a secret from you any longer would not be productive. You would persist until you found out the truth anyway. We have nothing to hide here, and I will not risk my son's health or life to a 'cure' proposed by people that were half right about everything else."
"You will regret this, and I hope that no innocent bystanders will pay the price for this decision, Mrs. Williams." With that, he turned and walked out by the front door.
Dr. Russell wrote out a list of things I would need, including the type of dog food he thought would be best for me. The cans that Mom had picked up weren't bad; they didn't smell nearly as good as the junk food that guy had tried to give me that morning, but they were... okay.
After my walk for the night, Danny and I just returned to our house when I heard a sound that sent chills down my spine. Somewhere, and not far away, I heard a wolf howl. I sat down on my haunches, threw my head back and answered in a high pitched puppy howl. The other wolf howled again, and I heard two more voices, also young added to the chorus. I answered again, and tried to tug the leash right out of Danny's hand to go find the others.
I howled again a couple of times, but that was it from the others. I realized there was no point in trying to find them now, and let Danny lead me up to the door.
"What was that about?"
"I'm not the only werewolf in town," I said. "Don't know what happened to the other wolves but I will find them."
"Oh, good, glad you two are home," Mom said as we walked inside. "Come over here and quickly. You need to hear this, Trev."
"What?" I asked, but she only pointed to the TV.
After a few commercials, a newsman came on. "Repeating our top story today, thanks to quick thinking and an incredibly sharp nose, a twelve year old boy gave police the evidence they needed to break apart a major dog-napping ring here and in other parts of the state. This morning, Trevor Williams, a seventh grader at Eastside Middle School, noticed something wrong with a sample can of dog food being given out by the alleged dog-nappers. He turned the can over to police who found the food had been laced with a powerful sedative. Fingerprints on the can led the police to one of the gang members and according to police spokesmen, from there it was easy to trace the rest of the operation."
"Wow, you're a hero, Trev." Danny said.
"...So far twenty dogs that were reported missing have been rescued and returned to their frantic owners. Searches are still underway for the rest."
"I'm proud of you, too, sweetie. In fact, I'll even buy you a squeaky toy as a treat."
"Thanks Mom. How about a new bike instead?" I said and Danny translated.
The next morning I woke to find myself curled up in a doggy bed on the kitchen floor. I stretched, and wagged my tail. Confused, I shook my head and stared at my behind, but couldn't see anything. Standing up, I peered over my shoulder and down my back. Still no tail, but I could swear it was there despite appearances.
At least, the phantom tail didn't get in the way of my clothes. I dressed, had breakfast and fixed Mom's coffee. Just as she came out to the kitchen, the front doorbell rang. I volunteered to get it, this time, and I hurried down the hallway.
Outside I found the three wolves that I had heard last night. One man, an older teenaged boy and a younger girl waited to greet me. I took in their scents, noticed they were doing the same for me, and I threw my arms around the man's waist and hugged.
All three of them looked like me. We had the same skin tone, hair and oddly shaped hands, but I was the only one whose eyebrows met. I could smell the wolf on them so I knew that they were changers too.
"Trevor," the man said in a deep, gravely voice. "I am Anton Kallinovich, your uncle, and may I present your brother, Randy and your sister, Tatiana?"
The boy touched his fist to mine. "Hey, little bro, good to meet you."
The girl only smiled. "Hello."
"Won't you come in? There's coffee and stuff. Mom," I called back to the kitchen, "Mom, my family is here. Family," I said slowly. "I never dreamed that I had any brothers or sisters. I mean this is even more amazing than -- well, you know -- changing."
"You have sixteen in all, brothers and sisters that is. As for cousins, nephews and nieces, uncles and aunts, your family is quite large."
"Are we Roma?" I blurted out.
Uncle Anton shook his head and smiled. "We are kin to the Romany peoples but they would never admit that. We are shunned by the Rom everywhere for being what we are. But please, sit, there is time for us to answer all your questions and then some."
"Trevor's father never knew about him," Mom said. "How did you know to find us?"
Anton shook his head. "Believe me, my dear lady, he knew. My brother has been called many things, and all of them accurate, but he knew exactly what he had done. Let me explain.
"We, the Clan of the Wolf as we call ourselves, have been around for as long as there have been humans. It is said that we descended from wolves that had learned to be men, instead of the other way around. If that is so, I can believe it, but here we are. We have been called many names, been hunted and persecuted to the point of extinction and yet there has never been an actual recorded incident of any werewolf killing a human. We have fought amongst ourselves, sure enough, but so have humans.
"Trevor's father, my brother Vassily, has been on a one-wolf campaign to increase the number of active werewolves in the world, and he has succeeded. He has always been able to spot suitable mothers and because our noses are so sensitive he can tell when the mother is ready and if it was successful.
"I can assure you that the rest of our family does not condone this behavior on his part, but I have tried for my part to make it up to the many children my brother has left behind."
"Uncle Anton, why is it that my father doesn't look like we do?"
"My brother was born a cub."
"So was I but..."
"I thought so, with your eyebrows that is almost always a giveaway. You see it is very rare for one of us to be born with fur. For those that are it means the potential for great power besides the change in shapes. My brother has a blood-ring which allows him to change his human appearance at will, among other things. But that, too, is better left for later discussions.
"Trevor, do you still feel that you have a tail?"
I nodded. "Yeah, it's been bothering me, too."
"I know it is, and it will. You, my boy, will have a difficult summer. In fact, you will spend most of it as a wolf, and the rest of it you will be learning to control your changes which will start happening at odd times not just with the moon. In truth, moonlight has nothing to do with our changes. The only thing that really matters is actual belief or desire to change."
"I know I wanted to change that first time. You mean if Danny had never said anything about his book on werewolves I might not have changed?"
"You would have, eventually, probably when you were a bit older..."
The doorbell rang. I jumped up to get it, hoping that it was Danny, but I found Mr. Anderson waiting for me.
"Trevor, I am sorry to do this, but you're coming with me." He let me see a small revolver in his hand. My breath caught in my throat, and I could smell my own fear. Just like every member of my family in the house.
"The gun is real, and it is loaded -- not with silver bullets, but those are not necessary now. Don't say a word, and no one will get hurt."
Both Mom and Uncle Anton had approached the door, but I could tell he was holding her back. "What are you going to do to me?"
"There is a cure, and whether or not your mother approves, I will end this, now. I cannot be responsible for letting you start killing people."
"What do you have to do?" I asked since I heard someone on the phone to the police.
"Just go, get in the car and not another word. Move it."
He followed me down the walkway to his car. I saw Danny about half a block away. He stopped and stared at us. I shook my head and tried to signal him to stay away as I climbed into the convertible.
"Nice car," I said as he turned the engine over.
We drove, in silence for several hours into the mountains. At one point, we turned off the road and drove for another hour back into the hills. He finally stopped at a small wood cabin built in a lonely stretch of wood that crested a large hill. I hopped out of the car and ran to the nearest tree not caring about anything just then except to leave my mark.
As he ushered me to the cabin, I heard the sound of another car engine in the distance, getting closer. If Anderson heard it, he didn't show it. "Inside, Trevor, if you cooperate I can get you home by tonight, and all this will be over. Okay, I need you to take off your clothes, and sit in that chair by the fireplace."
"My clothes? What are you gonna do to me? Look, Mr. Anderson, you can get plenty of boys back home. You don't need to hurt me."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Trevor, I'm not going to rape you. I'm not into little boys. But I need access to your skin, or would you rather I burned the clothes off and took you home in that open car naked?"
I took my clothes off and sat down. He tied my hands and feet to the chair. He measured my upper arms with a piece of string, then went over to the fireplace to stir the tinder and set it burning. After a while, he did have a good blaze going. He left the cabin and brought back a large trunk from the back of the car.
Opening in the lid, Anderson took out two bands of silver. I watched as he warmed them in the fire then pressed them into large rings. He measured each against the string, then slipped them, one at a time, over my wrists and shut them around my upper arms.
"Don't you think gold would look better on me?"
"These aren't for decoration, Trevor. These will help cure you. If they don't we will try something stronger." Anderson started to chant a long poem about wolves and things but I got bored quickly with it. When he finished, he looked at me. "I command you to change to your wolf form."
"Huh?" I asked him. "It's not nighttime yet, and I don't think the moon is going to be full enough to tonight to do the trick anyway."
"Those bands are attuned to you now, and they are pure silver. They should now have the power to change you without the moon. Change into wolf."
"Nope," I said and tried to shrug. "Now there's a waste of good silver if you ask me. I told you to use gold, but would you listen?"
Anderson rummaged in the trunk and pulled out a jewelry box. He removed two silver earrings. "These will give a much better contact."
"No way, Mr. Anderson. Mom said I couldn't have an earring."
He looked at me and shook his head. "These are self piercing, so they will take a moment." He clipped both of them to my ears. I felt a pinch but nothing else. He read his poem again, tried to make me change with the same result, then pressed each of the earrings squeezing the studs until both my ears were pierced. He tried again.
"Sorry," I said. "I'd change if I could. I really would. What do you do after I change?"
Anderson didn't reply as he retrieved a long bar of silver from the trunk and stuck it into the fire. He built the fire up as the bar began to melt. He let the silver drip into a mold that created a large, quartered circle. He took the circle out with a pair of tongs and held it in the flames again.
"I know this will make a permanent brand, but it can't be helped since nothing else has worked."
I screamed. "You can't be serious. Did you ever think that maybe the reason it doesn't work is because those stupid books are wrong? Silver doesn't hurt me, or control me. I told you, gold has more of an effect on me than that."
He took the circle out of the flames and held it up.
I struggled against the ropes. "You had better kill me, Mr. Anderson, because if you don't you're dead. I won't kill you, but I will tell the cops what you did."
"You'd admit to the police that you were a werewolf? I don't think you're that stupid, Trevor."
"I'll tell them the exact truth. Mr. Anderson told me I was a werewolf and he was going to cure me. He took me to a cabin in the woods, made me take off my clothes and made me wear jewelry. Will anyone that hears that story think that you really believe I'm a werewolf?"
"They'd have me up on child sexual abuse in no time flat. But by the time you do leave this cabin, Trevor, this will be over, and you will be under my control completely so it doesn't matter. You will tell the police exactly what I tell you to say."
I could smell people outside the cabin now. I screamed again as he brought the hot circle over to my chair. "Don't hurt me."
In spite of all my struggling, he pressed the hot metal onto the left side of my chest just above my heart. I screamed until I was too hoarse to scream any more as the silver seared into my skin. Anderson chanted the same poem again.
"Police. Freeze," said a voice from the window. "Good God, what are you doing to that kid? Drop that brand and get away from the boy now. Move it!" the cop yelled.
"I'm doing this for his own good," Anderson said and pressed the brand harder against me. "Stay back until this is finished. I don't know what will happen if you don't. We could all be in danger here."
The door opened, and two officers stood there, with rifles leveled at Anderson's chest. "Get away from the kid, and put your hands in the air or I'll shoot."
Anderson dropped the brand. "Now, Trevor. Change to wolf and kill those people for me."
"God, you're really sick," I managed to croak out. "Get away from me you bastard."
"I command you to change," he half screamed at me.
"I told you it wouldn't work, but you didn't listen to me. It was all for nothing." I turned and looked at the cops. "Help me. He tired to hurt me."
"I said get away from the kid, now."
Anderson looked at the expression on the cop's face, raised his arms over his head and backed away. "I didn't touch him like that."
"Are you okay, son?" one of the men said as another started to untie me.
I shook my head, "That brand hurts like anything," I said. "I'm just glad you stopped him before he did anything else."
"You little punk," Anderson said and broke away from the policemen. "You aren't doing this to me." He came at me too quickly for the cops to stop. I turned to my good side, grabbed his arm and sent him spinning down to the floor. He lay on his back, moaning as I screamed again from the pain. I saw two of the men get handcuffs on Anderson before they dragged him to his feet.
I blacked out from the pain, and the next thing I knew I woke up in a hospital room. Besides the white sheets and walls, I saw a bag of fluid attached to my hand, then Mom and Tatiana sitting by the bedside.
"Trev? How are you feeling?"
"It hurts," I complained, still feeling the burning in my chest from the brand.
"I know it does," Tatiana said. "Uncle Anton has gone to get more help with that."
A few minutes later, Anton and Randy joined us. Anton closed the door. "I talked to a dear old friend, and I have what I need to do this. Trevor, you have been through much, and for that I am sorry. We tried our best to get to that cabin before Anderson had a chance to do anything, but... Enough of that. This will heal that wound."
Gently, he moved the dressing on my chest until I could see the raw burn on the skin. He said one word, not a stupid poem, and we all watched as a ring of solid silver pushed it's way through my skin. "Take it, Trevor, it's yours."
I touched the ring then picked it up. As soon as I did so, the silver began to glow with a bright red light. I looked up at Anton.
"That is your blood-ring. It is a powerful talisman, my boy, and with it you can do much. It will take a master to teach you how to use it, but until then guard it well."
The skin on my chest healed up leaving only a slight white scar in the shape of a quartered circle. The pain drained from my nerves, and I relaxed. "Then what he did was for real?"
"In a way, but no. Over the centuries, there have been so many myths, tales and half-truths told about us, that no matter how contradictory the stories are people still believe them. The few actual words of power are so carefully guarded that your Mr. Anderson had no chance of actually making this work."
"What about it, bro, are you gonna change your face like our father did?" Randy asked.
"Are you kidding. Man, there is nothing cooler than being the town's only Gypsy werewolf. I just have to convince the rest of the town of that, that's all. This is who I am and if they have a problem with it too bad."
"Don't worry. Mr. Anderson is going to be put away for a long time. Trev," Mom said quietly. "You are a hero twice over now. You will be getting a huge reward check for solving the problem with the dogs, and you stopped Anderson by yourself."
"Not by myself, Mom. They helped, but you know," I said. "This has to be the first time ever that the cops saved the werewolf from the hero with the silver bullets at the end of the movie."
"Trevor," Mom said trying not to laugh.
"Now that I've got my ears done, you think I could like change these for gold rings? I still think they would look so cool. Maybe one ear, not two, but..."
"He's right, Mrs. W," Tatiana added. "They would look good, and two are better for you, Trev."
"No, we aren't discussing this now. Wait until you are home for that. Anton, you said Trevor would be a wolf for most of the summer?"
"It goes with the changes and everything else. You see..."
"I don't need an explanation. I just need some peace and quiet and I can do without his sense of humor for a while, too."
I just flashed her a toothy grin. "But just think Mom, now when there's a wolf at the door, it will be me."