Time for a little more Werewolf storytime. This one follows one of the last two members of my group’s pack. His history is interesting, because his character development was shifted when he took the life of an enemy and the pack started to view him as less than stable. After that, his mother vanished from his house. He didn’t have it easy.
A Good Boy
Chicago was weird. Compared to the suburbs of Naperville, it was like living in a maze of neighborhoods. The world was always screaming, people shouting, cars roaring, and machines rumbling. At first it can make it hard to survive. Perseverance makes anything possible.
It was bright enough out that Tim had his shades on. He pulled his backpack close, and looked back and forth across the street. There were buildings everywhere, half of them poorly marked offices and the others small shops and businesses that Tim had no interest in.
The dog stayed close to his heels, stopping whenever he stopped, sniffing at people who passed Tim on the sidewalk.
Tim stopped at a corner security camera, reached into his pocket, and touched the pole that connected to the security cam.
“Tell me something,” Tim whispered, butchering spirit tongue.
The camera stirred awake. Tim could feel the spirit within it, for the first time truly noticing what is around it.
“What do you offer?” The spirit replied.
Tim thought for a moment, “A new view.”
The spirit thought for a moment, “What do you wish?”
Tim lifted up a picture of his mother into the camera’s view. He took in a deep breath, thought about it, and then asked his question.
“Have you seen her?”
There was no hesitation. That was an aspect of spirits that Tim liked, when it was in his favor. The weaker ones rarely played games. Games were alien to them.
Tim’s heart leaped, “When?”
“Many times.” The spirit said.
The dog was at his feet, panting and looking around. A few people walking around were looking at him like he was insane. Maybe he was, at least a little bit. This whole adventure was starting to feel strange, like a dream. Though, what did that say about him.
Becoming a giant beast, fighting other furred monsters, channeling spirits, that felt real. Chicago was dreamlike. Trying to maintain his GPA in undergrad studies, that was foreign.
“When, like, recently,” Tim stuttered out, “When last.”
Tim could feel himself breathing too hard. Something was rumbling to the fore, a sensation like panic and anger all mixed in one.
“Thank you,” Tim said. He went into his backpack, and pulled out a picture of him and the rest of the pack, taken in front of a pool back in Naperville. He found some gum on the pavement, and stuck the picture to the ground, at the edge of the camera’s view.
“Come on boy,” Tim motioned and started to walk again. What was his mother doing here just a week ago? Multiple watcher spirits had seen her, and he was closing in. Still, she always seemed ahead.
To make it worse, his original suspicions weren’t true. None of the packs knew who she was. He consulted with a few Bone Shadow tribesman, and they couldn’t do much more than tell him to seek the aid of spirits. He was starting to fear the worst. Maybe his mother was a Pure.
Maybe he should have taken Sylvia’s advice, let her come and sniff his mother out. This was his problem though. He didn’t want to join a war, and he wasn’t joining Meredith. With Levi off doing whatever, he was all by himself.
The dog nipped at his heels.
Not completely alone.
He stopped and gave the dog a rub on the head. It barked softly, and Tim pulled out a treat. Later they would go and hunt, find a fresh kill, and Tim could relax.
He stood and looked at the building in front of him. It wasn’t marked with a name, but there was something about the logo. There were two birds there, based on their heads they looked like eagles. His mind went back to the letter from his mother, and the two feathers he found inside.
Tim looked down, “I guess we better check it out. Keep quiet though.”
He walked inside, and a secretary behind a desk smiled at him. The whole business looked like a meeting house. There weren’t any brochures, or signs. Nothing was welcoming to strangers, if you weren’t looking for this place you could walk in walk out and never know where you were.
“New member?” She said, “Or lost?”
Tim didn’t know whether to smile, or look stern, so he sort of did both, “Uhm, new member.”
“Oh, who recommended you?”
Shit. Tim could feel a million thoughts bubbling to the surface, but none of them were going to get him past a simple secretary. Maybe he should just run out, pretend he was in the wrong building. It was easier than looking at that smiling face and waiting for the word-puke to come out.
“Kir…kirsten?” Tim said, “Like, Kirsten English.”
The girl looked down at a book in front of her, turned a page, and then nodded.
“Okay,” She said as she got down and headed down a hall, “I’ll get someone for you.”
This was a breakthrough. There was no other way to see it. His mother wanted him to find this place, wanted him to know she was going to come here. What was here? He walked over to a plaque, covered with a few first names, the two-bird logo, and saw ‘TEL elders’.”
Two-eagle league? Twin-eagle lodge? A million other possibilities. He could ask, except that might look strange if he was supposed to be here. He would ask a spirit, except this building seemed mostly barren.
Tim checked his phone. A text from Levi.
“A pack of canine shifters are dead. You weren’t involved right?”
There were footsteps approaching. Tim put his phone away. Levi’s random return to reality could be saved for later.
A man with long blond hair and a beard that needed shaving came into the room.
“Here he is,” The girl said, “I forgot to get your name, sorry.”
Tim felt a chill go up his spine. His dog started to growl.
The man smiled, and looked down at the dog. “Someone’s a little protective. Hi, I’m Ray. You said Kirsten recommended you?”
Tim nodded, “Yes, yeah, she did.”
“Well then,” Ray said, “Come on in, do we have something to show you.”
He needed to run. He needed to turn tail and bolt as soon as he could. Still, they knew his mother. His mother lead him here, and they knew anything about her. He had to stay for now.
He nodded, and followed as Ray walked down a hall.
The building wasn’t barren. The resonance was dark. This building had a locus, he could feel that now. It had a locus, and something was feeding on it.
They walked past rooms that looked like small meeting rooms, like classrooms for children. Chalkboards, pictures of the outdoors, books piled on tables.
“Do you know what we do here?” Ray asked.
Tim swallowed, “She, well, she was vague.”
“That’s okay,” Ray said, “If Kirsten wanted you here, that means she had her reasons. We have a history as environmentalists. Our lodge is at the forefront of the fights against Keystone, the pollution of Lake Michigan, even issues far away from Illinois. Recently we’re looking to expand, move our operations from something grassroots to something everyone in Chicago can be part of.”
They went through a door, and Tim followed Ray down a thin staircase. He could feel something in the air, a sort of energy. This wasn’t just essence, it wasn’t just spirits, there was something else at play. What was his mother mixed up in?
They reached the landing, a small room. Two others were there, cleaning up damage. Was there a fight here? He could smell it, blood was shed, recently, just days ago? Was she there? He could smell her in the mess, an old scent. It wasn’t quite mom, something was different.
“Who is this?” Said one of the men with a large broom in hand.
This was all wrong.
“He said Skyblossom recommended him,” Ray said as he walked to the center of the room.
This place, it wasn’t some environmentalist room. The center of the room, it had a large circle curved into the concrete foundation. A strange character was drawn there. It was repeated on the walls, crystals hung from the walls. It looked like a sort of tribal spiritualism, mixed with new age nonsense. Still, the power here was real.
“You’ve barked up the wrong tree,” Ray said, shrugging, “Uratha.”
Who was Skyblossom? Why would mother call herself Skyblossom?
“Tell me what you know about Kirsten English,” Tim said, putting his backpack down, “And I’ll let you keep going.”
The one with the broom started laughing. “Fucking Uratha, they never know when they’re beat.”
“You’re lucky you figured this much out,” Ray said. His eyes seemed to glaze over.
They aren’t human. That’s what Tim told himself, they aren’t human.
“Just tell me something, anything,” Tim said, “Please.”
Claimed. Their bodies latched onto by terrible spirits. He couldn’t tell what they were, possibly magath. It infested them, a sick essence that leaked at the seams. The whole room was tainted with it. Why would his mom ever be here? What was she hiding?
Ray’s arm started to twist and meld, until it became sharp like a knife. The others dropped their tools, and their bodies also began to warp.
“Fine,” Tim whispered. He had a name now, that was enough, a new start.
He could feel his body warping, the panic and anger gripping his heart as it exploded in size. He shook his head, and his shades fell away to reveal an eye misted with a field of stars. His whole body pulsed with muscle, his mind retreating in the face of the monster he was letting loose.
This was their choice.
A better Uratha might have had control. In the chaos that ensued, they might have been reserved and taken their time. The twisted spirits might have gained an upper-hand in those moments of hesitation. Tim didn’t let that happen. They weren’t powerful spirits, or particularly smart. They wanted to outnumber him, but he overpowered them.
His claws ripped into sinew, and his jaws bit deep into their twisted flesh. They became more monstrous as the fighting continued, and Tim responded in kind. The chaos they were cleaning up was renewed, blood spread on the walls, claw marks across the occult symbols.
When he finished, only one was still breathing, lying in a mess on the floor.
Tim went and grabbed his shades from the ground, then looked down on the Claimed.
“Skyblossom,” Tim said, “Tell me what you know.”
It bubbled blood, but it didn’t respond. Tim put it out of its misery.
“Come,” Tim said. The dog bounded to his side. They started back up the steps. As they made their way back to the front desk, Tim noticed the girl hiding behind the counter.
“You,” He started, trying to think of how to put it, “Just go.”
She nodded, and then ran out of the building.
Maybe he would txt Levi. Still, there was something he didn’t understand.
The Claimed on the floor, he wasn’t taunting Tim with his silence. That look on his face when Skyblossom was brought up again, it was fear. A spirit so afraid of his mom they would stay silent and be destroyed?
This was getting worse.