The Society

By on Oct 24, 2015 in Fiction

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Interrogation room with blue

The pup in me quivered, but the burgeoning wolf snarled as I thrashed my head around, trying to get the black nylon hood off my head. The hood smelled from a mixture of creatures’ sweat, and I couldn’t pick out a distinct scent; but I was sure of the other smell: men. There were two of them in the room. One of them reminded me of the woods: balsam and pine. The other man’s scent was waterless: dry earth, yellow pollen and sun.

A punch in the gut knocked me into a concrete wall, and then the hood was yanked off. I didn’t fall. I wasn’t about to look weak, despite my stomach seizing and my lungs gasping for air. I kept my back to the wall, surveying the room. It was dim. A single light bulb muddied the edges of the small, concrete room. A couple of chairs were lined along one wall, and a mirrored window was set in the other.

“You’re a stupid dog,” said the man with the waterless scent. He wore a t-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. A thick black spiral was tattooed on his tan flesh — the mark of the Huntsmen.

“Technically, he’s a werewolf,” said the man with the balsam scent. He sat in a metal chair and had the same thick black spiral tattooed on the white flesh of his wrist. He had a pudgy face and soft eyes but a stout body.

“Political correctness aside,” said the waterless man, “he tried to break into our compound, so why isn’t he dead yet?”

“Enough, Smith,” said the balsam man, and then smiled as he turned to me. “What’s your name?”

“Max,” I said. “Like you don’t know.”

He grinned. “I’m Regent Bondurant. He is Regent Smith.”

I glared at Smith, the waterless man, and allowed a short smile. I had found that a smile was scarier at times than baring teeth or slashing into someone’s flesh. Quiet was scary, too. I opted for the smile and malicious eyes.

“Did you really think you’d get through our security?” asked Smith.

“Had to try,” I said. “You came after me.” I flashed my teeth with a broad smile. “So I came after you.”

Bondurant snickered. “The Society’s headquarters is on flat land, with a three-hundred and sixty degree view of everything, which is to say, nothing. There are no trees, no bushes, no dark corners or shaded outcrops to hide behind, just sand and gravel. At night there’s a quarter-mile circle of flood lights around the encampment, and infrared cameras and sensors. Even if you breached the gate, which is topped in silver razor wire, there are half a dozen warehouses, each with their own unique security.”

“Hell, Bondurant,” said Smith. “Tell the dog all our secrets.”

“Oh, I’m sure he already knows. He’s been stalking us for a while.”

Smith laughed as he tapped his neck. “How’s your head, dog? It should have been a bullet, instead of a dart.”

Bondurant glanced at Smith. “Perhaps you want to leave me to the interrogation.”

“Leave you alone, with him?”

“He’s barely a wolf.” Bondurant stood and smiled. “He’s not going to say anything to you. You’ve hunted down too many wolves and beasts. Max can probably smell their blood on your hands.”

Smith glowered but bowed out of the room after a cold look, which gave me a chill. Bondurant pulled a chair and sat it next to me. “Sit. Please. I apologize for Smith. He’s spent too much of his youth hunting in the desert, and not enough time learning the world is full of gray.” Bondurant smiled. “Tell me Max, what were you going to do if you got inside our gates?”

Bondurant’s voice wasn’t gristly or booming but a soft tenor, which numbed my desire to kill him. I expected all huntsmen to be like Otis Hein — the man who had killed my sister, Shar. Otis had crazy eyes, a piercing taunt, and an eagerness to stick me with a blade.

A year ago I was fresh into the change, an eighteen-year-old wolf excited about my new body. My six-foot frame had become layered in thick muscle; my brown skin had taken on a shine, and for once in my life, my sister, Shar, had been envious of me.

Shar had been sixteen, two years away from the change, when she had asked:  “Did it hurt, changing into a wolf?”

“Yes,” I had said, “but only the first time.”

“Do you crave meat all the time?”

“It’s not a craving,” I had said, “but a need.”

“Do you feel stronger now?”

I had smiled at that question. “Yes.”

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Marla Johnson was born and raised in Maryland and is still living in the Old Line State. She is a Whittier College graduate, with a B.A. in English. Her short story "Honeysuckle" was accepted for publication in Linguistic Erosion. When Marla is not writing or reading, she is working full-time in a cubicle or binging on Netflix.