Sol could smell the blood. It called to him from the bathroom. He wanted to go. He wanted to taste it.
No! Fight it.
The small man sat on the sofa. He kept running his fingers over the gold crucifix hanging on the chain wrapped around his hand. It was a gift from his mother when he was a boy. It felt cold against his burning skin.
Sol said his prayers like he always did when the hunger rose. It clawed its way up through his soul. He tried pushing it down, burying it. How could he though? Every molecule of his body was burning from the hunger. He was starving and fresh meat was so close.
He could hear the sound of bones snapping in the bathroom. He could hear Dave tearing at the flesh and growling from the thrill. Sol knew how exciting it was to feel all that meat between his teeth, taste all the blood pouring out of every chunk. There was nothing like a fresh kill.
Sol kept his eyes closed. He wouldn’t give in. He wouldn’t eat. Not until he couldn’t fight it any longer. If that happened, God help him, when that happened, Sol would lose a little more of the man he used to be.
The bathroom door opened. The enticing scent of hot blood rushed through the trailer. It was ecstasy.
Sol squeezed the small cross so tight it almost cut into his palm. Fight it.
“You’re pathetic,” Dave said.
Sol didn’t look back. He wouldn’t. He didn’t want to see all of the blood on Dave from his kill. He shut down his senses. He didn’t want to breathe in the sweet metallic scent of blood emanating from the bathroom. He didn’t want to see the white tiles stained crimson.
Dave had gone hunting for dinner. He was supposed to bring back food from the nearest gas station. Instead, he brought back a man whose car had broken down on the highway a few miles away. Dave couldn’t help himself. There wasn’t much game in the area large enough to feed the both of them. But there were humans. One human wouldn’t fill their stomachs, but it would satisfy them. At least for a while.
Dave wasn’t ashamed of what he was. He welcomed it. Sol couldn’t. He didn’t want to be a monster. Dave hated him for it.
“Quit praying. It won’t help you.” Dave ran a hand over his bare chest. The blood was already starting to dry on his flesh.
Sol’s leg started twitching. He sat on the edge of the sofa, staring down at the cheap brown shag carpet that ran through the decrepit trailer. The television was playing nothing but static. Sol had turned it up as loud as it would go to try to drown out Dave’s feeding. It had helped, but only a little.
Sol stared out through the small window above the television. The curtains were open and he could only see darkness on the other side of the glass. There was nothing but a few other cheap trailers miles away using up acres of land in the area. He considered running out into the wild to escape the urge. But if he did go out, if he did change, what poor soul would he hurt just from hunger alone?
Dave was an animal because he chose to be.
Sol was an animal by accident. He could control the change, but he couldn’t fight the hunger very well.
“Hey. Did you hear me?” Dave asked from the doorway.
Sol couldn’t think. There was only the hunger. It was so strong. The need burned through his chest.
Sol opened his eyes, staring down at his cross. He could feel the tears burning in his eyes. He was giving in. He always gave in. There was no fighting it for long. Sol simply wasn’t strong enough and he never would be.
“I’m not praying for help.” Sol started to feel hollow inside, broken. “I’m praying for forgiveness.”
Dave laughed, heading back into the bathroom. “Come on. He’s getting cold.”
Sol thought of his wife, Mary. She hadn’t even been able to look at him when she found out he’d gotten sick. He went to her, trusted her love for him. She blamed him, said he ruined their lives. As if it was his fault. He thought of Stephanie; she was turning eight soon. He didn’t even get to say goodbye to her before he ran. Sol thought of everyone and everything he had to leave behind after he got sick and killed those people. He thought of it all and the hunger started to boil to the surface. His beast started to win the battle like it always did.
“God, forgive me.” Sol got to his feet. The hatred for what he was overpowered everything, even the hunger.
Sol always gave in.
The front window shattered.
The bullet pierced Sol’s shoulder. He fell back over the couch, screaming as he hit the ground.
* * *
Dave heard the gunshot and the glass shatter. He hadn’t heard anyone outside before that, not over his own hunger and that damned television. He ran to the doorway of the bathroom. Sol was writhing and twisting on the floor behind the couch. The blood was already pooling underneath him.
“Jesus Christ!” Sol screamed in agony. The first hint of a growl rolled out of his throat.
Dave could hear his friend’s flesh sizzling and burning from the bullet wound.
Dave’s heart was pounding. He was panicked. They’d been found.
Three more shots exploded in the night and into the trailer. One bullet went through the wall and out through the television screen.
Dave stayed in the bathroom with his prey.
Sol didn’t dare move. He held his arm and fought against the indescribable pain shooting through his body.
Both of their sensitive ears heard men yelling at one another outside. They heard footsteps on the porch. The television was gone and they could hear it all so clearly now.
Dave growled savagely at Sol. It was his fault they didn’t hear anyone coming. The weakling deserved to die.
Sol rolled onto his side and his eyes were fierce, his face red from pain. This was it. “RUN!”
Dave didn’t hesitate. He rushed out of the bathroom and towards the small spare bedroom that Sol had been sleeping in. He moved faster than any man could.
The cheap front door flew off its hinges. Gunshots rang out and Dave felt them tear through the air around him as he ran for his life.
Giving into his beast, Dave let out a terrible roar and released his monster.
The wolf trapped inside, burst out. The human body and clothes vaporized, exploding outward in a violent eruption of particles.
The wolf rushed through the trailer moving impossibly fast. Its bulky mass clipped the frame of the doorway of the bedroom and ripped through it. Without stopping, the wolf braced his head and leapt through the bedroom window.
Dave erupted out of the trailer in a spray of glass and wood.
There was a human a few yards in front of the window, a rifle in his hands. Dave flew straight towards him. He plowed into the human and brought him to the ground with devastating force. His sharp fangs crunched down on the man’s throat and nearly severed his head with a violent jerk. The hot, fresh blood sprayed into the back of Dave’s throat. The excitement surged through him.
Bright lights flared to life. They were blinding, unbearably bright.
Dave didn’t know what to do. He instinctively froze, standing his ground. There were six or seven large pick-up trucks and SUVs parked in the clearing around his trailer. Their high beams shined on the lone wolf snarling at them.
Dave could see human silhouettes behind the lights. They stood up in the truck beds and behind the open doors for safety. A few more were closer to the house, like the corpse who’d been too close to the bedroom window.
All of them had weapons. All of them had to die.
Dave’s black and silver fur stood on end. His claws curled into the dry, barren earth. He bared his fangs. Blood dripped down his muzzle from the dead man beneath him. The growl that came from his throat petrified most of the humans nearby. Dave could smell the fear on some of them. It only made the wolf more vicious. He barked and snapped his jaws, ready to kill.
One of the humans got brave.
The first shot rang out.
The bullet missed by inches. Dave dashed forward with supernatural speed. He rushed the nearest human in front of him.
He was a thin man, only a few yards away. The human fired his rifle. The silver bullet ripped through Dave’s pointed ear. It was the only shot that human got off.
Dave’s jaws snapped down on the man’s leg and crushed the bone effortlessly. Without even stopping, the wolf thrashed his head, savagely dragging the man through the dirt like a doll. Dave dug his paws into the ground and threw his victim with a sudden jerk.
The man’s limp body skidded and tumbled along the ground like a stone. He smashed into one of the truck grills a dozen yards away, shattering one of the headlights.
Dave barked again, even more blood in his mouth. He turned his sharp blue eyes to his next victim.
For a second everyone just marveled at the beast’s limitless strength.
Then people started shouting.
Gunfire rained down on the wolf.
Silver bullets tore through Dave’s body instantly. He collapsed in the dirt, snapping his jaws and yelping. The gunfire stopped, but Dave couldn’t move. Every pant burned like fire. The bullets had severed his spine and decimated his body. His dark coat of fur was thick with blood.
Dave couldn’t see anything but headlights. The blinding light became his world.
Someone came running towards him. Dave’s mind told him to attack, but his body was broken. He heard shouting and cursing.
Dave looked up at the barrel of the rifle just inches from his eye. It was the only thing he could see other than the bright light.
The shot rang out. The wolf’s body exploded into particles.
Dave’s naked human form lay dead in the middle of the yard. Half of his skull was shot off.
* * *
Sol hadn’t moved in the trailer. He listened to everything and kept his eyes shut as the footsteps came closer. He held his mother’s cross tighter than ever and did everything he could to keep his beast buried in his flesh. He didn’t want to die an animal, but a man.
The silver bullet was killing him. His heart ached more after every beat. The silver was too close; it was spreading.
Sol barely opened his eyes to see two men with guns aimed down at him. They kept their distance. Another man was close to Sol, not afraid at all. He smelled like a human, but Sol knew he was another monster, just a different breed.
The man looked disgusted.
A woman walked in through the trailer to join them. Her dark boots matched her dark hair. Sol looked at her; the look in her eyes and the gun in her hand made him fear her more than the others. She was human, but Sol knew that she brought death with her.
“God forgive you,” she said with dreadful disdain as she stood over him.
Sol smiled and closed his eyes. He had been praying for just that.
The shotgun shells decimated Sol’s chest. He felt no pain as the silver destroyed his heart.
Both of the monsters were dead.
Some of the humans in the trucks came up to the trailer with flamethrowers. They sprayed Sol’s body and everything else with streams of fire.
The gold crucifix beside Sol’s corpse started to melt in the flames as the trailer burned.
They burned Dave’s body in the front yard as well.
The group of humans gathered their dead, turned off the lights on the trucks, and waited.
The trailer went up in flames and Dave’s body blazed on. The two fires illuminated the area like a grim bonfire as the humans watched.
They all stared proudly at their work.
There were two less monsters in the world.