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Dreadful: Wolves in the Ice (Free Version)

So, for those of you who attended Louisville Super Con, I promised a free version of Dreadful: Wolves in the Ice. I was under the impression that I could send mass emails with attachments through my host/website tool, Wix, but that isn't the case. So instead I'm posting the entire story on the website for free! Everyone on my email list will be informed about this... and no one else, at least as far as the near future is concerned.

If you want to download a Kindle version of the story, Click Here, it is only $.99 and it is much easier to keep where you were in the story between reading sessions.

Last thing before you delve into the blood soaked world of Dreadful, I have that Indiegogo going at the moment to help turn The BulletProof Ghost Novel series into a comic book series. Click Here to pledge for great, unique rewards.

1

Text and Photo Copyright © 2018 by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)

Cover Art Copyright © by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)

All rights reserved. No part of this book or story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission from the publisher/author.

www.BulletProofGhost.com

Dreadful™ created by Jacob Harris (Jake dh)

Cover Illustration by Scott Loesch

Edited by Tim Heerdink

Cover Formatting by Jake dh

Author Photo by Susan Hayes

First Edition

Dedication

To my ChloWorm

Brightening All of My Days From Here On

1

Lynn sat at the bar in the dingy tavern, staring at the liquor selection. The bottles were lined up and sorted by type and quality. In this place, the quality wasn't spectacular, but it got the job done. She fought back tears as she drank her final mixed drink of the night. She needed to drive, and besides, she didn't fly back home to get drunk in this shit hole and cry.

It really hadn’t been home in over ten years. She didn’t realize how small Eleveson was until she left Alaska. The place didn’t have over three hundred people living within city limits. Lynn started to think about the hill down the street. Her brother used to take her there to ride down on that metal sled he loved. That thing was probably a hell of a lot more dangerous than they realized, but so were most toys back then. Made of metal, which begged for a sharp edge to form. Unintended cuts and tetanus would follow if they didn’t keep an eye on the wear and tear.

Lynn sipped on her Bloody Mary, which was normally a morning drink, but she really wanted one. The night hadn’t quite arrived yet. It was her guilty pleasure when she was upset. The tomato juice and vodka slid down her throat when she noticed the guy at the end of the bar smiling at her. Shit, she thought. This guy was going to hit on her. She really didn't want this right now, but she did come to a bar. She thought the parka would be enough to keep the locals from trying to get up on her. She was wrong.

The man came over and sat next to her. She expected him to smell like whiskey and smoke, but he actually smelled pleasant. What came out of his mouth was not. "Hey, pretty lady," he said, slurring his speech. “What brings you up here? You don't look like a native, honey,” he was uncomfortably close to her.

Lynn sighed but decided to humor this guy before she left. “Technically, neither of us are natives, big guy,” she motioned to his pale-skinned face, “but in the way you mean it, you would be wrong. I used to live about three miles from here.” She sipped her drink. “That was a long time ago.”

The man chuckled. “You sound sad, honey. I’mma goin' hunting tonight. You should go with me,” he said a lot louder than she thought he meant to. His hand moved to the small of her back. “We'll have some fun.”

Lynn guided his hand away from her. “I need to leave. Another drink, and I won't be able to drive.” She got up and moved toward the door. “You probably shouldn't drive at all. Maybe walk home or call someone?”

The man nodded. “Yeah, maybe I'll get a ride to my hunting spot near Elk's Clearing,” he basically yelled at her. Several of the patrons’ heads whipped around in reaction to his loud declaration. A few of them kept staring at him after the others had moved on to whatever drunken conversations they were having beforehand.

Lynn left the bar shaking her head. She opened the door to the outside. The wind howled. Snow swirled around through the air and into the bar. This probably wasn’t the worst of what was coming. Lynn needed to get to the cabin as quickly as possible.

The parka clad woman looked back into the bar. That guy was hitting on another woman. Sloppy and stumbling, he said basically what he had screamed at her. He took another long drink of… something brown and dark. She knew that guy was going to get himself killed. He was either going to wreck whatever shit-heap he drove or shoot himself accidentally. Hopefully he would only shoot himself. It wasn't her job to make sure he got home okay. She had her own problems. Lynn forced the door shut.

2

Lynn swore she would never come back to Alaska. She hated this place. The cold, it got to her. She had spent the last eleven years where the weather shifted and got used to semi-normal seasons. Her dad would have taken the term ‘normal’ personally. He loved Alaska and was heartbroken when she left to live her own life. She couldn't stay forever, Lynn told him. She didn't think that would be the last time she saw him. She couldn’t have known.

The storm was getting intense. These rural roads were hell on a good day, but this was not a good day… well, night at this point. She just wanted to get to her dad's cabin. He left it to her in his will. It was the only thing he left her. Lynn's brother got everything else. Of course, he did. Her brother never left. Derrick was perfect, and everyone in the family just loved him. His only sister, not so much.

Lynn needed to be alone after what happened in New York. After what Allun did, she just needed to be away from everyone. Just for a while. She started to cry again. “Goddammit,” she said out loud. “You're not going to let him hurt you anymore,” she said, wiping the moisture from her cheeks.

She was having a hard enough time seeing without crying her eyes out. The snow was really picking up. She slowed down below twenty miles per hour. Her headlights could barely cut through the white static in front of her.

THUD! Lynn heard it. She felt it. Her bumper collided something. Oh my god, she thought. Lynn eased on her brakes to come to a controlled stop. Even if she hit someone, slamming on her brakes and sliding around wildly was likely to get her killed too. Did she hit a person? Surely not. Who the hell would be out in this blizzard? No, she thought. Lynn exited her car. Snow and ice hit her in the face with a dozen little stings. She pushed her way through the blistering wind and sleet.

The figure on the ground looked like a person, “Oh shit. No, no, no,” she said frantically. "Mister?" She could tell it was a man as she crept closer, and she noticed he was breathing. She felt a bit relieved, but he could still be seriously injured.

She noticed something else as she was right on top of him. The man was naked. Completely buck-ass naked. "The hell?" She bent down to check his pulse. He isn't going to last long like this, she thought. Why the hell is he naked? Maybe this is like a mob hit or something. Alaska style. Throw someone out in a blizzard and let them freeze. That's silly, she dismissed the idea. It didn't matter. She needed to get him in the car and get him to a hospital.

The man's eyes sprang open, and he leapt up to his feet. The naked man grabbed Lynn’s arms and slammed her against the car. He was so strong. “What the hell happened? Who are you?” he said, shaking his head. He tried to clear his head from the car impact. “Did you hit me with your goddamn car?”

“It was an accident. I couldn't see. Are you okay?” she squeaked out. She was scared for a totally new reason now. This guy was crazy. She tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but his hands acted like vice grips. Not just for a naked skinny guy in the middle of a blizzard but strong for any person. She couldn’t budge an inch.

The man let go of her and grabbed his head. With her newly acquired freedom, Lynn backed up as the man yowled into the frigid night, "It's too late," he said, whipping his head around. His eyes shifted from brown to a glowing bright yellow. "I put it off for too long. I can't control it." Lynn heard bones cracking in the man's body as he screamed in agony. "Guess you'll have to do, lady." He gave her a sinister stare as his incisors grew a few inches in front of her eyes. Blood started to pour out of the man's mouth as the tendons and muscles in his body shifted in a grotesque manner. The skin next to his toothy grin split from the side of his cheek as he let out an inhuman shriek. A distorted howl.

Lynn ran to her driver's side door. The contorted, naked man was distracted as he... whatever was happening to him. She put her foot on the accelerator as hard as she could but only spun out. Lynn momentarily forgot what it was like to drive in real snow. The frantic woman gently put her foot down and got traction. Lynn went around the man as she swore she saw his head was stretching. Every inch of change audibly fractured his bones and ripped his flesh. His teeth were sharp and jagged. Those yellow eyes burned through her with insatiable hunger.

Whatever the hell was going on, Lynn was getting out of here. She was well on her way. Suddenly, she felt another impact. This time on the back of her car. Like something had slashed her rear left tire. She span 180 degrees. Lynn just held on as she had zero control over the spinning chaos. She closed her eyes until she heard the clatter of shattered glass and denting metal. Lynn swore she was screaming, but it didn’t seem to rise above the chaotic crashing around her.

Lynn felt blood flow down her face. Some of the glass hit her like a shotgun blast. She saw that the passenger side had hit a tree and shook the dizziness from her head. She needed to get the hell out of here. She reached for the door with her bleeding hand. Blood smeared on the handle as she fumbled the door open.

Lynn saw her rear tire as she fell into the snow, still off balance from the impact. It had been ripped open. Were those claw marks? She looked around. The snow was coming down even harder, but she somehow could feel that the contorted man could still be after her.

Her father's cabin couldn't be more than half a mile east into the woods. She could make it. She knew it. Lynn put one foot in front of the other, wrapping herself in the only blanket she had, and headed into the white nothingness.

3

Lynn attempted to run now. As fast as her legs could propel her through the snowstorm. She knew these woods well enough. She spent a lot of time here as a kid, but a lot had changed. Lynn just needed to keep running. Her hand reached into the front pocket of her coat. Lynn searched for her cell phone. She hadn't even thought about calling someone. No one was going to be able to get to her soon, but it was worth a shot. She kept looking up at the path in front of her. Running face first into the frozen bark of a sturdy tree is the last thing she wanted. Lynn looked at her cracked screen. It must had been damaged in the crash. Hoping the smart phone would still work, she frantically tapped her call function.

Lynn brushed her red hair out of her face as she dialed 911. There was a voice on the other end. “Hello,” Lynn tried to yell over the wind, “I'm near Elk’s Clearing. There's been an accident.” She couldn't hear the person on the other end. It wasn't likely they could hear her. "Shit!" Whether it was the wind or the damage to the phone, help wasn’t coming.

Lynn shoved her slightly damaged phone into her coat. She remembered that the drunk asshole said he was going to be at Elk’s Clearing. "No," she said. It was worth a shot. The guy might have a gun. If that naked... thing was still after her, then a gun would come in handy.

Lynn made a slight detour to the right. She trudged through the two-foot deep snow. The crunching of the already freezing snow was all she could hear for a moment. She focused on pushing her way to the clearing. It was the only thing that mattered.

That's when she heard snarling. Through the howling wind, she heard an animal growling. Lynn span around to see those yellow eyes. Even through the swirling dots of white, she could see those eyes. It was all she could see as she quickly turned around to sprint toward that clearing.

Lynn tripped over a downed tree as she stumbled through the woods into the clearing. The snow was starting to let up. She could hear herself think for a moment and shook the snow off of her head as she heard a voice further into the clearing.

“The bloody hell?” the voice called out. The man's accent was distinctively British. “What are you doing here?”

She made out the man's face. The asshole from the bar? It was indeed the man from the bar, but he wasn't disheveled and drunk. He was in an insulated trench coat with a sock hat wrapped around his head and ears. She shook off the disbelief and just rolled with it. “You were going to go hunting! You have a gun, right? There's a vampire or something chasing me!”

“No, love,” the man said. “Not a vampire,” he saw the yellow eyes peeking through the tree line. They were at least seven feet off of the ground. A white fur-covered hand grabbed the tree next to it as a massive creature stepped out from the forest. Black claws scratched into the bark. The deep trails were carved into the wood with almost no effort. Its foot wasn’t flat like a person’s but arched up, like an animal. Unlike an animal, it was standing up straight on two feet.

The man smirked, “That... is a werewolf.”

4

The British man pulled a silver sawed-off shotgun out of his dark blue trench coat. The single barrel wasn’t rounded like a normal shotgun but cut into a point on the top of the barrel. That point was significantly longer than the bottom part of the barrel. The silver colored tip reflected in the moon light at least a foot long, coming to a thin point. It was severely customized, specifically for the task at hand. The Brit pumped the weapon one time as he walked toward the over seven-foot tall werewolf that had just broken the treeline.

It snarled as it carefully analyzed its two prey. One was utterly defenseless and not worth one ounce of worry. The other it seemed to know from somewhere. It may have just known his kind. Armed and formidable. Clever and dangerous.

Lynn’s frightened mind couldn’t completely comprehend what was transpiring. She couldn’t scream. She froze in absolute terror and, due to the fact, was literally freezing while sitting in the thick snow. The paralyzed bystander just watched the two figures squaring off in front of each other. Both used an equal amount of caution. Neither made a move for more than a few seconds.

The Briton stepped to the side while keeping his pointy shotgun aimed right at the creature. “So, you got my invitation. It has been said that part of you remembers what happens when you’re a wolf.” The monster just deeply growled at him but kept its distance. “Now you realize that when I ‘drunkenly’ and purposely brayed that I was going hunting; I meant I was hunting you. You just walked into a trap. You. Not the other way around.” The werewolf actually looked angry as the man taunted it. “Now you don’t have the smarts to fully understand how screwed you actually are. Do you, Fido?”

The werewolf called out with a rage that surprised Lynn. Was this thing still a person, she wondered, on the inside that is? Lynn crawled backward as the white monster couldn’t hold itself back anymore. The werewolf ran at the Englishman on all fours, instead of two feet as it had been using this whole time. The wolf had indeed taken over.

That’s when a metallic snapping sound cut through the blustery wind. A red spray of liquid jutted into the air. The white wolf rolled around as it lost footing. It yelped like an injured dog. Blood could be seen in the white snow. The man casually walked up to the creature. Its leg had been caught in a silver, shiny bear trap. The snapped shut apparatus almost cut the thing’s leg off. A burning scent accompanied smoke in the air. Silver was burning through the wolf’s leg. The monster clawed at the trap but only succeeded in burning its paws.

The man strolled along through the snow. “All it took was a little ridicule,” he aimed at the wolf’s face, “and you lost yourself to the animal.” He pulled the trigger. The monster’s face basically disintegrated in a blitz of blood, fur, and bone. Its snout was gone. Those yellow eyes burst like grapes. The faceless werewolf fell forward into the snow. Blood spread out onto the snow and quickly froze.

The man looked over at the frightened woman, “What’s your name, love?”

“Lynn,” she practically whispered. She didn’t know what to make of this guy or hell anything that was happening. Lynn wiped the nearly frozen tears from her flushed cheeks.

“My name’s Trevor. Trevor Oaks,” he told her charmingly. “Lynn, I need you to get up. You’ll freeze sitting down like that.” She complied. Lynn brushed herself off as she stood. Trevor put his hand up. “But, don’t walk around just yet.” Trevor flipped the wolf over onto its back. The thing was heavy, so despite being in decent shape, his muscles strained. He slammed the sharp end of the barrel into the monster’s heart. “Better safe than sorry. If you don’t get the heart, there’s always a chance these bastards will heal up.”

Lynn took a step forward. Trevor put his hand up. “Wait,” he said. “Sorry, but…” He ripped a couple of thick sticks off a tree. He poked around in the snow a bit. Another silver trap went off. Then another. Then a final one. Trevor looked up at Lynn. “Okay, now you can move around.”

A gust of icy air filled Lynn’s lungs as she walked toward the man. She couldn’t feel her hands . The red-headed woman rubbed her arms, trying to generate heat. Lynn stopped a couple of feet from Trevor. “I don’t even know where to start. Werewolves? You’re English? I just…”

Trevor looked back into the woods. “Well, unless you have a car that works…”

Lynn shook her head. “I hit a naked guy and then a tree.”

Trevor chuckled. “No wonder he was pissed. He was here for me, not you. I’m sorry about that... and the whole bar act.”

Lynn didn’t look amused, but he saved her life. “I’m not sure whether to be mad or grateful. You saved me, but if you hadn’t been trying to trick werewolves into coming after you with your bar act…”

Trevor put his hands up, “I know. I know. Look, I have a truck in a clearing about two thirds a kilometer away. I’ll take you wherever you need to go. It’s the least I can do.”

Lynn nodded. “’kay. Which way?”

Trevor led the way. The two trudged through the snow. Lynn rubbed her hands together. She still looked a little scared. “Werewolves. Why haven’t I seen one before?”

Trevor turned his head. “Are you sure you want to know? This is basically another world, and once you’ve been exposed, there isn’t any going back. You can just forget and go on with your life,” he faced forward, “if you want.”

Lynn said, “No deal.” She pointed at him. “Spill.”

Trevor Oaks nodded. “Fine. Werewolves are my forte. They and I have quite the history. I hunt them. That’s really it. Once I was exposed to this, my life fundamentally changed. From then on, killing them has been my life.”

Lynn faced forward as she trudged through the snow. The storm finally let up. At least the clear air wasn’t pouring snow into her face, she thought. Lynn responded to Trevor’s simplified explanation, “I thought my life was complicated.” She could see Trevor’s truck in the distance. “What did they do to you?”

Trevor stopped. He put his hand up as to silence Lynn. She smirked. “I didn’t mean to bring up traumatic memori…”

Tremor shushed her. “It’s not that. Something’s not right.” He pointed to the passenger’s side of the truck. They were looking from the rear of the vehicle, so to the right of the couple. “There are footprints over there. I didn’t…”

The snow next to them exploded with a white flurry of sleet and fur, claws and teeth. A werewolf, as big as the first, lunged at Trevor with a suffocating amount of force. Pushed to his back, Lynn flew through the air. She had caught the brunt of the monster’s shoulder as it charged the wolf killer. The beast ignored her, just like the first one. They both hit the ground with a muffled thud.

The wolf bit at Trevor as he laid on his back. Trevor quickly brought his arm up to block the attack. The creature’s teeth scraped on silver metal under his sleeve. Trevor was wearing some type of gauntlet for just this type of situation. He couldn’t match the wolf’s strength. He pulled out a silver revolver, with a sharp barrel, like the shotgun. The Brit tried to aim at its white fur-covered skull, but the monster swiped the weapon away into the snow.

The werewolf’s weight was crushing Trevor. He could not keep this up for long. Trevor started to realize that this might be it. The monster was pressed up against his shotgun. He couldn’t get it out of the holster. Trevor hoped Lynn had run away. He hoped she lived through this, because he was about to be overpowered, “Shite!”

Trevor stared into those yellow eyes with hate. “You took them from me! You… goddamned…”

BOOM! Blood burst from both sides of the wolf’s head. Its yellow eyes went dead as it stared, not into Trevor’s eyes, but into nothingness. The werewolf slumped over to the side. Trevor pushed it the rest of the way off of him. It rolled over, limp and lifeless. Blood gushed out of the semi-human creature’s ears.

Trevor attempted to gasp for air. Both from fear and exhaustion. He looked over to see Lynn with his revolver. Smoke rose out of the barrel. She seemed relatively shaken, but she came through for him. The revolver shook all over the place. He laughed. “Hey, you did that just in time. I guess we’re even with the whole life saving thing.”

Lynn had tears in her eyes as she rushed to Trevor. She grabbed his arm. “It bit you. That means you’re one of them? Right?” she asked as she frantically examined his sleeve. Werewolves showed up in movies and television here and there. The inexperienced woman was drawing off of pop culture and myth to come to this conclusion.

Trevor smiled. “No, then I would ask you to shoot me next.” He looked at the bloody body in the snow. “I’ll never become like them.” He pulled his sleeve back and showed her the gauntlet. “Silver. These nifty accessories have saved my life more times than I’d like to admit.”

Lynn smiled in response. “Oh, okay…” She looked at the wolf’s body. “I never shot a person before.”

Trevor pulled his shotgun out to stab the monster’s heart. “It’s hardly a person, love.” He raised the gun up to stab its heart. “Believe me.”

“AROOOOOOOOOOOOO!” the body let out a deafening sound as its final act. The deafening howl echoed through the forest. It was so distorted it did not sound like a natural wolf’s howl. It almost sounded like a man screaming but mixed with an animal’s high-pitched snarl. The creature then slumped over as it had let out its last breath.

Lynn held her ears. “What the hell is that?”

Trevor froze in the quiet snow-covered clearing. He didn’t say anything for about twenty seconds. The look on his face made Lynn think that his entire world had fallen apart. “That, my dear, was a death howl.” Trevor Oaks quickly made his way toward his truck. “We have to get out of here now. Right bloody now!”

5

Trevor trudged as fast as he could through the deep snow. Lynn could hear him muttering curse words under his breath as he made his way to the front of his truck. He looked just as scared as when the wolf bit on his wrist gauntlet. Lynn yelled out, “What, may I ask, is a death howl? Other than, you know, it howling before it dies?”

Trevor looked over his right shoulder. “It’s bad. Really goddamned bad, but only if we stick around, which we most definitely… are not…” he trailed off as he came into view of the front of his truck. He saw that the hood was up. He hadn’t left the hood open, which meant, “No… no!”

Lynn started to freak out a little. “What now? What’s wrong?” Trevor pointed at the inside of the hood. Lynn peeked her head around to have a look. “Oh, shit.” The engine, hoses, reservoirs, and several components Lynn didn’t know the names of were ripped out or broken. Several types of fluids had leaked out into the snow.

Trevor froze up for a moment. He thought about his options. “You were headed somewhere, right? In your car? How far away is it from here?”

Lynn’s gaze scanned the forest. She spoke with uncertainty and fear in her voice. “I was going to a cabin my dad owns… owned. It’s mine now. It’s like a half mile away. Is that close enough?”

Trevor grabbed a backpack out of the cab of his truck. “It’ll have to be. We can’t stay here at death-howl ground zero.” He pocketed a handful of ammunition. “Well, love, lead the way.”

Lynn knew the cabin was south of Elk’s Clearing. She looked at the compass app in her cracked phone and headed toward their destination. It was night, but the full moon lit their way. The trees in this area were spaced out enough so that the light could shine on the snow in front of them. The moonlight sparkled in a beautiful way that made Lynn happy for a moment.

There weren’t a lot of sounds in the air. Not wildlife nor wind. The storm had completely sub-sided. Lynn wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. There was nothing to hide their steps nor to obscure their scent.

Trevor looked anxious as they made their way toward the cabin. He had his hand on his silver, pointed revolver. He looked around as if something was chasing them. Trevor shook his head. “I’m sorry. I kinda left you hanging about the whole death-howl thing, love.”

Lynn looked over at him, smiling slightly. “Well, your ride was gutted, so I understand that explaining the specifics of werewolf hunting might have slipped your mind. Also, my name is Lynn, not love.”

Trevor playfully nodded. “Fair enough, Lynn.” He stopped for a moment, cautiously looking around. It was almost like he heard something that spooked him, but Lynn hadn’t heard a thing.

Lynn looked around frantically. “What is it? Is there something there?”

Trevor’s eyes locked onto something over to his left. He swung his revolver around and took aim. He stood there for a few seconds. Nothing happened. The sound of their breathing filled Lynn’s ears. Their exhaling cut through the absolute silence.

A few pieces of snow dropped from the tree tops onto the ground in front of them. Trevor’s eyes widened as he aimed his revolver. He fired once. Twice. The forest lit up with each shot. Lynn held her ears. With all of the gunfire she had heard today, her ears were ringing. In fact, her ears were hurting. The last shot echoed through the trees until the sound gave way to silence once again. Trevor’s aim still focused on the treetops, even after another ten seconds passed.

Lynn looked up, but she couldn’t make out whether there was anything up there. “Was there something in the trees? Can wolves climb tr…” a loud mushy thud frightened Lynn. She jumped away from the sound. “Christ!”

Trevor stood over the body of another white werewolf. It writhed from the bullets that had burning their way through its flesh. “Yeah, they can climb. Just like a kitty cat, which you wouldn’t think, but…” The wolf had silver bullet wounds in its left leg and right shoulder. Trevor aimed at the gasping werewolf’s head. “I’m going to need all of my ammo.” He flipped his grip on the revolver. Lynn noticed it had a picture of a wolf’s head on the handle. She swore it had a little red ‘X’ over it.

“Trevor, just kill it! It’s going to get up and rip you apart… rip us apart!” Lynn exclaimed.

Trevor stabbed the animal-man hybrid in the heart with the pointed barrel of the revolver. Though it was technically part of the barrel, it acted like a mini bayonet. Lynn could see smoke coming out of all three wounds. Trevor looked up at her, “First off, who’s the expert here,” he smirked. “Secondly, once a silver bullet or silver anything enters a wolf’s body, it acts like poison. They go downhill and fast.” He pulled the revolver blade out of the wound. The werewolf stopped struggling. “So, no worries. You hit them once with a silver bullet or blade, you have the upper hand.”

The wolf laid in the snow. A lot of heat was steaming off the body. Trevor didn’t need to wipe his weapon down due to the blood boiling off the silver. Even if parts of the werewolf were not connected to the actual wolf, it still burned its flesh and blood. The two stared at the dead monster for a couple of seconds. Trevor kept his gun ready. He motioned with his head toward the direction of the cabin. He had a contented look on his face. Like he really enjoyed killing these things.

Lynn started to make her way toward the cabin again. She kept facing forward as she talked. “That’s what the death howl is. More of them are coming because that wolf called out.”

Trevor aimed his gun into the tree line. He wasn’t going to be caught off guard by one of these freaks. “You catch on fast,” he said while still focused on the space between the trees. “I’m not sure if it’s telepathy, supernatural, or just purely because of the sound combined with the wolves enhanced hearing, but wolves up to forty kilometers away are heading this way,” his expression became gravely serious, “to eat us alive.”

Lynn wore her confusion in her expression. “Like for revenge?”

Trevor shrugged. “I’m not sure. It could be a survival thing. Like if something could kill one of them, then they need to eliminate that threat. After the transformation, their memories get fuzzy. The few I’ve… interviewed,” that wasn’t the right word, but for Lynn’s sake he kept the terminology slightly light hearted. He didn’t want her to know how far he’d taken those… interviews. He continued, “…they don’t know why they do what they do. What I do know is about two days before the full moon, which causes the change if you didn’t figure that out, anyway, two days before, the wolf starts to take over. They know the hunger is coming. The nicest guy in the world will start planning how to gut the person next to them on the bus. How are they going to lure this person out into the woods or their apartment?”

Lynn looked disturbed. She didn’t say anything for a moment. She broke the two plus minutes of silence. “So, are we going to my cabin to hide?”

“No, they’ll have our scent. Honestly, they probably already have it. That’s why I wanted to get in that fine truck I… borrowed,” he said with a little hesitation. With a hint of desperation in his words, “No, we are going to that cabin to fight. We are going to kill every flea-bitten monster that comes close enough for me to blow away.” Trevor’s intense glare pierced Lynn’s eyes. “We can’t get away nor keep them out until sunrise. I’m going to kill all of them,” he made out the cabin in the distance and smiled, “and you’re going to help me, Lynn.”

6

Lynn unlocked the door to the cabin. They entered expeditiously, both due to the cold and because of the impending danger. Trevor looked around at his somewhat primitive surroundings. “When you said cabin, I was hoping it was using the word figuratively. Like the way rich people say cabin, but it’s really a house with heating and electricity made to look like a cabin, but…” he headed toward the fireplace to spark up the wood already placed inside, “this is very much a literal cabin.”

Lynn picked up a starter log that sat beside the actual firewood. “Nope. This is just a shitty little cabin that my dad loved more than me,” she scoffed. She didn’t mean to let that slip, but emotions were high. Restraint of any kind was getting harder and harder. After all, these may be their last moments before being ripped apart by snow werewolves.

Trevor watched the fire spread over the logs in front of him. “Are those the problems you had? Earlier you said your life was complicated.”

Lynn looked out of the window. “I know what I said. I’m just on edge right now. Things tend to just come out of my mouth when I’m stressed out. I don’t know you. Not in any way that counts. I shouldn’t share my issues with you.”

Trevor placed his revolver and sawed-off shotgun on the table in the middle of the room. “Even if this is the last chance you’re gonna have to deal with them. To talk to somebody. I can’t guarantee we’ll get out of this alive. I tracked at least six wolves in the radius of the death howl. That means we will have at least five to deal with.”

“Let’s just say I had a fiancé. He betrayed me. I walked in on him doing… something. I don’t want to talk about that,” she fought back tears. “I needed to be alone. That’s why I came back home. My dad left this place to me about a year ago when he died.”

“Did you come back home for the funeral?” Trevor inquired. “During my masterful performance, you seemed like you hadn’t been back for a long time.”

“Again, it’s complicated.” Lynn shook her head. “We should just prepare for the werewolves or whatever.” She walked over to a closet and pulled out a lever action rifle. “Can we use this?”

“I don’t have silver ammo for that. It won’t even slow them down.” He flipped his revolver’s chamber open to reload. “It will piss them right off. If that’s something you want, then fire away.”

Lynn set it down next to the closet. “So, calling the cops won’t help? I tried when I was being chased, but the wind made it impossible to hear. I’m not sure if…”

“Again,” Trevor explained, “they don’t have silver ammo or weapons of any kind.” He flipped his handgun closed. “We’d just be getting them killed. Believe me, I know,” he looked around. “Do you have a hammer, nails, or any tools? We need to barricade the windows right now.”

“No, my dad had a tool kit he carried around with him. Hell, they probably buried it with him.” Lynn started to become even more worried. “We don’t even have a heavy shelf to put in front of the door. Most of that stuff went to my brother, so…”

Trevor chuckled in a slightly terrified way. “That is just fantastic. We need to cover all of these windows, and we don’t even have a bloody hammer.” Luckily, the cabin was one big room. They could easily transverse the building to get shots off.

Lynn walked over to the table and put her hand on the shotgun. “Considering how much attention you’re paying to your pistol, I’m assuming that you want me to use this.”

Trevor nodded, “Yeah, I’m a better shot with this, or are you a secret markswoman? Also, pistol isn’t the correct term.”

Lynn picked up the customized weapon. “I can handle one.” She flipped open the pump action shotgun. Silver pellets filled the customized buckshot. “But, no, I can’t hit monsters that are hopping around. I’d just be wasting bullets.”

Trevor walked up to the window, keeping most of his body against the wall. He didn’t see anything yet. “Let Jezebel and I deal with the long-distance shots. Once they get close, then you start taking their faces off. We clear?”

Lynn smirked. “Jezebel? You named your pi… handgun?”

Trevor motioned at the shotgun in her hands. “That’s Raymond. Yes, I named them both.” He peeked around a different window. “That’s a thing, right? Even if it’s not, I did it.”

Lynn checked another window. “Okay, then, Ray.” She looked at the gun. “Let’s find some snow-wolves.”

The cabin remained silent for a few moments. Lynn couldn’t see her breath anymore. The room had warmed up. She knew enough about guns to know that this fully loaded shotgun had six shells in it. It was shorter than a normal pump action, but it didn’t hold the eight that a normal gun of this type would hold. Trevor needed to store it in his coat, so he took the two-shell deficit as the cost of storage.

There were more shells on the table. Lynn walked over to shove some in her coat. Her shaking hand dropped one of the shells. Was terror finally starting to set in, she wondered. Trevor’s life consisted of killing these monsters, but Lynn had just been thrown into the insane situation. The former Alaskan inhaled deeply. The hand steadied as Lynn steeled herself for the deadly night ahead.

Trevor was too busy figuring out the most likely places for the werewolves to breach the tree line. Luckily, before his death, Lynn’s father had cleared out a lot of the trees around the area. This was going to help Trevor line up shots and kill these things before they got to the doors and windows.

This also helped with the whole ‘werewolves can climb trees’ problem they had before. There were not any trees close enough for that to work. The moment one landed, it needed a second or two to recuperate. That was more than enough time for Trevor to get off a shot. Of course, these things weren’t great intellectuals, so Trevor didn’t put anything past them.

“This is my fault, Lynn,” Trevor said while keeping an eye out. “I should have known there were two wolves coming for me. I saw the news reports from the last full moon, and I thought there was only one. Honestly, considering how quickly that third one came up on us, he may have been part of that very same pack. I should have been prepared.”

The reports that Trevor had dug up showed that there had been one single disappearance in this ten kilo radius. The few wolves in the area must have had a slow month. Another possibility is that the pack had just fed on animals. Werewolves loves human flesh, but in desperation, they would feed on forest critters.

Lynn still didn’t see anything move outside. “How did it know how to destroy your engine?”

Trevor wetted his chapped lips. “He probably did that as a human. The more experienced ones can suppress the transformation for a wee bit. Then, all he had to do was concentrate on hiding when he transformed. The wolf would remember to lay in wait,” Trevor saw something brush against a tree branch, “then spring the trap.”

“They’re here?” Lynn could hear it in his voice.

“They are indeed here,” Trevor smashed the window. “No sense in being quiet.”

7

“Come on!” Trevor screamed out of the shattered window. “Come get me, you manky tossers!”

Lynn would have to ask him what ‘manky tossers’ meant later. If there was a later. Lynn now could see at least one werewolf skulking around behind the tree line. Trevor told her to wait to shoot. Wait until they were close and shoot them in the face.

Trevor could tell there were at least six circling the place now. Six? he thought. He really hoped he was guessing on the high side, not the low side. Okay, he thought, I can still do this. The surly Brit intended to give these daft monsters one hell of a fight either way.

Trevor moved over to the side window to see one of the white creatures charging the cabin. It sprinted halfway across the yard with a driven ferocity. The wolves caught glimpses of the two humans. White wolves barreled toward the windows where they weren’t. Trevor took a shot. Red cascaded over the white snow as the monster dropped. It slid across the icy ground. Its head gushed blood even after it had died.

That’s when a smashing sound came from the other side of the cabin. Lynn spun around to see a massive werewolf sticking its face through the window frame. Its fangs dripped with saliva as it growled low and fierce at Lynn. She fumbled with the gun for a split second, fired off a shot, hitting the wolf in its massive hand. The silver caused massive damage. The creature howled in pain as it tumbled into the room. The stump where its hand had been gushed blood onto the wooden floor.

Trevor aimed at the unnatural abomination’s skull. Before he pulled the trigger, he saw Lynn charging the injured animal-man. “Love, stop!”

She stabbed down through its back with the sharp end, directly into the wolf’s heart. Lynn pulled the shotgun out and aimed at Trevor. “Get down!”

“Bollocks!” Trevor exclaimed as he dropped to the ground. The white werewolf in the window behind him had missed in its attempt to grab him.

Lynn had pumped the shotgun after the last shot. The few boiling bits of flesh in the barrel after stabbing that last wolf basically disintegrated as she pulled the trigger. A spattering of silver buckshot imbedded into the monster’s maw. One of the balls of silver made its way into the wolf’s eye, disintegrating it. The werewolf slumped over and just hung on the windowsill. Blood emptied out of its face and neck by the gallons.

Trevor got to his feet. “This is going all to pot!” He ran to the front window. Three down and at least three to go, Trevor thought to himself. Five silver bullets filled his pistol’s chamber. Lynn had four shells before she needed to reload.

The door shook as something ran into it with a massive amount of force. The first hit threw wooden splinters into the room, but the door held. Lynn pumped Raymond, throwing an empty shell into the air. Trevor motioned out with his hand. “Nah, wait until they breach the cabin. Then, we unload on them.”

Lynn nodded. A fur covered arm burst through the door. Black fur covered this wolf, which juxtaposed the pale creatures the two had been slaying. Lynn looked at Trevor. “Why is it black? Why is it not like the others?”

Trevor smirked. “It’s not a local.” He aimed his gun at the hand. His exhaustion started to take a toll. The walk from the truck, the cold, and the fight had zapped his energy. He tried to line up his shot, but the arm pulled back outside. “Damn!” Trevor exclaimed. Had he’d been fresh, Trevor would have taken that shot in an instant. Trevor used his sleeve to absorb the sweat on his brow, exhaled, and centered his focus.

The door split open. Snarling teeth and claws frantically charged at them. Trevor and Lynn both unloaded at the same time. The werewolf’s head and chest exploded with blood as it dropped to the ground dead. The next white wolf took a step forward, but before it could make its way inside, black arms wrapped around its white arms. The white wolf’s arms were locked behind it. The pale monster didn’t understand what was happening. The black wolf’s intelligence exceeded that of its ivory counterpart. The dark werewolf knew that charging in without a shield meant suicide.

Lynn and Trevor took the opportunity to end the white wolf’s life. The bullets didn’t make it through the bleeding fur and flesh of their target. The thick, white hide protected the black wolf, even with the silver burning its way through. The white wolf’s body was thrown directly into Trevor, knocking him against the wall with crushing force.

One of his ribs were broken by the impact. His vision blurred as he tried to shake off the concussion. His mouth filled with blood, which he immediately spat out. When Trevor finally got to his feet and his wits about him, what he saw, surprised him to say the least.

He expected to see Lynn over the body of the wolf or more likely vice versa. Instead, he saw the black wolf holding Lynn in front of him with its gigantic clawed hands. It held her very tightly as to show it wasn’t screwing around. Trevor, even as a seasoned werewolf hunter, had only heard of this.

Trevor kept his gun aimed at the wolf’s face. It picked Lynn up to cover the area in Trevor’s crosshairs. Trevor broke the silence. “You’ve been a wolf for a long time, huh? I knew some of the experienced ones can suppress the change. They can keep a sliver of themselves in the first few min-utes. Hell, I saw that tonight with one of the white ones.” Trevor tried to aim at the monster’s eye, but he could barely think straight. He thought about just shooting, but he might hit Lynn. The Brit’s hand trembled as he tried to focus through the pain. Through his fuzzy head. Trevor Oaks knew he would more than likely just miss all together. “But… one that can keep most of his mind through the change. That’s a trick.”

The wolf grabbed the back of Lynn’s coat to free up one of his hands. It pointed at Trevor’s gun. Then, it pointed at the ground where Lynn had dropped the shotgun. Trevor kept his gun raised. “No. Even if you have part of a man’s mind, you have the instincts… the bloody hunger of a wolf. You’ll kill both of us. I’m not givin’ up Jezebel.”

Trevor theorized in his head that the wolf was old, or at least it had been a werewolf for possibly decades. Maybe it had been born into a pack. The black fur meant it traveled from somewhere far away and not a local adapted to the snow. It might even know of Trevor as a wolf hunter. Certainly it couldn’t talk, Trevor considered the possibility. Even a smart wolf could only have half a man’s intelligence, right? It only acts smart, he thought. It wasn’t like the thing that had killed his siblings and destroyed his life.

Trevor knew if he took a shot, it meant Lynn was dead, so he remained uncertain of what to do. Given the situation in front of him, Trevor knew he could get out of this alive, but what about her? Trevor kept his aim the best he could. “I don’t typically kill men. The sun will be up eventually. You’ll turn back and have a clear mind. We can just walk out of here.”

Lynn’s breath came scarcely. Could this thing even understand Trevor? Was it going to let her live? It hadn’t scratched her or anything. The wolf shattered her arm when it slapped her shotgun away. The terrified lady whispered out to the thing holding her a foot from the ground. “Please, no one else has to die tonight.” Lynn lied. She knew in her gut that someone would die tonight. There wasn’t any other way out of this.

Trevor sweated profusely. They stood for a few seconds. The wolf concentrated intensely. Trying to keep the human part of its mind on the surface, he started growling. Trevor put his free hand out in a stopping motion. “Stay with us now, mate. Come on. Don’t give into the wolf. I can tell you’re really trying right now. Please don’t.”

The black wolf couldn’t stand it anymore. He could smell the soft flesh under that white parka. It needed a taste. The wolf’s giant snout covered Lynn’s shoulder as it bit down. She screamed bloody hell as the left side of her chest and back were ripped away. Lynn’s insides emptied out onto the cabin floor. Bones and muscles were exposed to the open air. Lynn’s nerves were on fire. Her mind was a hornet’s nest of fear. She’s dead, even if she was still conscious. It didn’t matter.

“Lynn, no!” Trevor fired Jezebel but missed. He didn’t get a second shot off as the black wolf had already dropped Lynn’s body and made its way across the cabin. The tip of the wolf’s claw knocked Jezebel out of Trevor’s weakened hand. The Brit backed up as quickly as possible. In his clumsy frenzy, Trevor lost his footing. He held his side and tried to keep consciousness. The head injury from the other wolf being hurled into him was setting in now. “No!” Trevor Oaks brandished a silver dagger; his last resort. “If a damned wolf is gonna get me, then I’m sure as hell going to take it with me.”

The wolf still had enough intelligence to know that a silver dagger meant trouble. It knew Trevor’s injuries were overtaking him. Trevor stayed still with his back against the wall. He might be able to keep this at a stalemate until the sun came up. Dawn wouldn’t come for hours, but that was his only play at this point. If the thing came for him, he might be able to kill it without being bitten.

The black wolf picked up a chair next to it. It looked at Trevor with vicious intent. The chair flew across the room and smashed into the wolf hunter. The impact shattered the chair. Trevor’s arms took most of the impact, but some of it hit him in the head. Fresh blood poured down his face. Trevor shook off the blurriness in his head. “Goddammit! You’re not gonna knock me out!” He tried to stand up and was a little wobbly, but he made it to his feet. “We’re going to end this. Man to wolf. Let’s get on with it!”

The massive werewolf grabbed the wooden table. Hurling that piece of furniture would crush Trevor; break his arms and knock him out cold. Trevor prepared to charge and mentally prepared himself to die. To finally die and be with his brother and sister.

The wolf picked up the table with both massive hands. It summoned all of its super-human strength to throw the hard, heavy piece of furniture. Trevor ran as fast as his wobbly legs could carry him. The silver dagger raised high in the air, ready to thrust into the creature’s heart. That’s when the black wolf dropped the table and fell to one knee. Trevor could see blood spurting up from behind it. Something else ripped the wolf apart from behind. “The hell?” Trevor said as he came to a stop. He kept his dagger up as he tried to make out what was happening to the werewolf’s back.

Suddenly over the right shoulder of the werewolf, a small figure popped up. It ripped the black wolf’s neck apart. The wolf tried to grab the attacker, but it rapidly succumbed to its injuries. About a third of the neck had been ripped away. The small attacker blocked the massive hand with a superior strength. Even dying, the wolf had the strength of five men, but this other thing made quick work of it. The smaller monster slapped the monstrous paw away with no effort while it chewed fur and flesh away with its fang-filled mouth. The small creature bit into the wolf’s neck, ripping out veins and tendons. Blood fell onto the floor like a red waterfall.

The viciousness of this smaller humanoid far exceeded that of the dark wolf. The werewolf fell forward as its attacker cleaved the rest of the way through the neck. The wolf’s head practically hung on by a few strands of flesh now. The wolf tried to paw at the thing on its back, but slowly the weak attempts ceased as it laid limp. The easy route to killing a werewolf involved silver violently entering its body. The extremely hard way required rending the head from the monster’s shoulders. This red-eyed creature had done it, though. It had ended the nightmare of the death howl but started one of its very own.

8

Trevor rarely encountered this type of creature. At first, he wasn’t sure who it was, but only one possibility remained. The Brit grabbed Jezebel off the floor while it was distracted with its first kill. He hoped his revolver wasn’t too damaged from the dark wolf slapping her around.

The red-eyed thing lapped up the blood as it poured out of the wolf’s body with an unquenchable thirst; a ravenous need. It slowly started to raise its head and noticed Trevor. It wiped crimson spittle from its mouth, which had several sets of fangs. All of them were covered in its victim’s blood.

Trevor dumped Jezebel’s bullets out onto the floor. Silver wasn’t going to help him. He fumbled around for a different type of ammo. A type he didn’t typically use but was prepared for creatures that were not werewolves. He knew there existed far worse things out there. He grabbed a couple of bullets from a pocket marked ‘BK’ in the inner pocket of his coat. It had yellow liquid splashing around in the payload section.

Trevor took aim at the monster in front of him and reluctantly spoke the monster’s name, “Lynn.”

Her eyes were red, like the blood that covered her body. Trevor had some ideas about how this happened, but for now, he needed to live through this. Lynn creeped closer to him on all fours, not saying a single word. She didn’t recognize Trevor at all, nor did she seem like Lynn anymore. To her, he just looked like her next meal.

He aimed at Lynn’s head as she started to stand then lower at her heart. Trevor doubted he could hit either right now. “Well, shit.” She ran at him screeching like a maniac.

Trevor fired two rounds as fast as he could. The first missed completely, but the second hit Lynn in the thigh. The psychotic Lynn dropped to the ground and rolled due to her momentum. She stopped rolling, face down on the floor. Blood from her thigh started pooling on the floor, and she thrashed around on the floor for a few seconds. After a little longer, she became calm. Now she was docile, almost comatose.

The wolf hunter walked over to Lynn’s still body. He flipped it over with his foot. She was conscious but frozen. She wheezed as she tried to catch her breath. Trevor took aim at her forehead with his ‘Bat Killer’ bullets. Ending her existence would be a mercy. She would never be free of the thirst. Lynn could never be human again. Trevor knew her current state wouldn’t permanent; that she had a chance at a semi-normal existence.

Lynn saved his life a couple of times during the course of this frozen nightmare. The wolf that ambushed him in the snow. The wolf in the window a hand full of minutes ago. Then, by ultimately sacrificing her last moments as a human, even if she really didn’t have a choice. She still played a role, even in her death, in protecting him. Trevor owed her… a lot. The killer of werewolves stared at her inhuman eyes. There remained a spark of humanity there. Not so long into the future, he knew there would be more than a spark.

Trevor thumbed the hammer into the neutral position. He flipped his revolver to the side. Two hollow metal pings hit the floor. Shells that had contained the Bat Killer bullets that pierced Lynn’s transformed body. “Wow, Lynn. I think your problems have officially taken the cake compared to mine.” He holstered the revolver and picked Raymond off the floor. “You insinuated that your fiancé cheated on you. That you caught him porkin’ some other lady, but in reality,” Trevor slid his silver shotgun into its leather sheath. The Brit turned to speak to her candidly, “you caught him feeding on some poor soul in your home. He then, I suspect in a bit of twisted logic, to make you understand him, bit you, turning you into a vampire.”

Trevor walked around the cabin to make sure he wasn’t forgetting anything else. The wolf hunter looked over his shoulder at Lynn. “I’m also going to bet that he told you a few things before you left him. I don’t know as much about vamps as I do werewolves, but I do know the first twenty-four hours of their change are impossible for them to control. They are just feral monsters that are worse than the bloody wolves.

“You came out here to isolate yourself from people so you couldn’t feed for that first day. Not to mention the act of killing a person would be one you’d have to live… err die with forever, but once you feed on fresh human blood straight from the vein, it is almost impossible to kick the habit. Luckily you fed on wolves, which doesn’t count from what I’ve heard. Hopefully I heard correctly.” Trevor crouched down closer to Lynn. He knew she wasn’t going to be able to attack him for a while. “I’m also guessing you were bitten about three days ago, which is how long it takes the change to cascade through your body. It apparently takes hold all at once. Noted for future vamp encounters.” Trevor buttoned his coat up.

Something occurred to Trevor. “Oh, you called that first snow-wolf a vampire… I thought that was a little odd, that you just saw his fangs or what have you, but it was, in fact, the only monster type you were aware of.”

Lynn’s coat was ripped open from the wolf’s bite. The bite wound had

healed up completely. Her clothing on the other hand, couldn’t repair itself. One of her breasts and midriff were partially exposed. Trevor put a blanket over her exposed area, “Always time for modesty. I’d rather see a boob there than just bloody ripped flesh, which is what I thought would be the end of you.” Trevor’s eyes seemed distant for a moment as if he were contemplating the scenario in which Lynn had died from her wounds. “Luckily, once you are a vamp, you heal extraordinarily quickly, and as a bonus, you can’t be infected by a wolf. Something about the competing curses. Not enough time to get into the history of it all.”

Trevor shook off some of the haze filling his head. The hunter’s exhaustion and injuries were catching up with him. Not to mention he had a long trek back to the road. There, he would figure something out. Call for a ride or possibly hitchhike.

Trevor Oaks grabbed hold of Lynn’s foot and started dragging her to the closet in the corner. The Englishman pushed her into the small space, nodded, and smiled. “All right. This will keep you out of the sunlight once the day comes. You’ll be all garlicked up for another couple of hours. Those bullets will wear off. Once the sun goes down, being that you’re technically dead and don’t regulate your body temperature, you will probably freeze. Your blood lust will cause a frantic sprint out of this cabin into the harsh icy wilds. I assume that was part of your plan. Once the sun comes up… again, you’ll have to make it back here before you burn to death… double death… undeath?” His eyes looked around as he contemplated the correct terminology.

Trevor Oaks held the edge of the door, getting ready to shut it. “Look. You saved my life a few times tonight. I was sloppy, and I almost paid for it with both of our lives. That is the only reason I don’t put a garlic bullet between those pretty… er… terrifying eyes. Once you get through your first twenty-four hours, you’ll have some control over your hunger. If you start killing people, I’ll know. Then, I will put one of these,” he showed her the ‘Bat Killer’ bullet, “in there,” he pointed at her head.

“I hope that you have a nice undeath. Goodbye, Lynn.”

Evansville, IN, USA

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