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Werewolf stuff

1977

On a clear, bright, moonlit night, a baby is born to a young woman in a maternity ward in Southampton. She arrives alone, and apart from three or four attendant members of staff, there is no-one with her when her son is born.

One other man witnesses the birth. He watches it without emotion from the next room, where there is an observation window. The glass is almost soundproof, but he can still faintly hear the mother screaming. It is a difficult birth, and when it is over-

-one nurse lets out a wail, another backs away, gloved hands to her temples, her mouth moving in prayer. The doctor makes a violent movement and knocks over a tray of instruments, then slips to the floor amongst the scattered steel, her face working with dumb shock.

The man behind the window shakes his head with tired distaste, as the mother's scream fills the ward. Not simple pain and effort, this time- this is the sound of a woman on the edge of losing her mind.

Mess, mess, mess.

1981

Alex Kinnell is four. Playschool is over, and he is perched on the stage of the community hall watching other kids being picked up by their mothers and fathers. Picked up. As he watches, one father picks his daughter up, literally, swings her around his head.

Alex thinks his own mother would probably be able to do that, if she tried. He is small, smaller and lighter than that girl, probably than most of the children here. He wonders how it would feel; like being in an aeroplane, maybe. Like being an aeroplane.

Alex's mother does not do things like that. When she arrives, he will follow her home. There will be no aeroplanes involved. He knows without asking that this is just another part of the Difference. It's why she doesn't talk much- not to him, anyway- and why she's nervous about him spending too much time around other people. Something might happen, and although Alex isn't sure what, something about the way his mother acts around him makes him positive that it would be terrible.

1985

Alex is eight. He now knows that the Difference is because he is ill, and the illness is something to do with the three nights every month when he has to stay in his room and go to sleep very early, and Be Quiet. You would think it would be very hard for an energetic, otherwise perfectly healthy eight-year-old boy to Be Quiet and stay anywhere for any length of time, but Alex finds it surprisingly easy. Almost as soon as he's eaten his dinner, which on Being Quiet days is always something he really likes, like shepherds pie or spaghetti hoops on toast, he feels quite worn out, and often sleeps all the way through to mid-morning the next day. It's like magic.

Alex likes school, likes the other kids, but the Difference interferes here, too. When you are eight you can't really be best friends with someone until you go round their house, and they go round yours, and the pair of you more or less live the same life apart from having to go home to different houses sometimes. Alex isn't allowed to see his classmates outside of school. It's too risky, his mother tells him. She won't tell him why.

To make up for it, Alex develops the knack of falling quickly into a pretend version of this best-friends sort of intimacy almost immediately with other children. Like falling asleep on Being Quiet nights, he finds it surprisingly easy. He is a quick study, can easily copy what he sees around him, is ingratiating, likeable. He has plenty of friends.

He is starting to really hate the Difference.

1991

Most teenagers, their less-than-sunny natural dispositions battered hell to breakfast by the storm of hormones and existentialism thrown at them by their growing bodies and minds, come up with one reason or another to hate their parents. Alex, at fourteen, finds it a little easier than most. His mother's nerves are worse these days, and finally, her anxiety makes her careless. One night, already full of half-formed suspicions and more than his fair share of adult paranoia, Alex finds half of something round and white and crumbly in his dinner.

Alex knows, has known for some time, that his mother is a complete and utter basket case. There is little affection lost between them. Sometimes, she even seems half-afraid of him. He loves her, but he doesn't like either himself or her for it, this one bond he doesn't have to fake but doesn't want. This discovery completely knocks the stuffing out of him.

Now, he is afraid of her. With absolutely no idea what might happen should he accuse her, he sneaks quietly out of the house, intending to stay with a friend. The evening is just fading as he leaves, foreshadowing a brilliant, starry night, a full moon. He gets perhaps ten minutes down the road, halfway across the park, before it happens.

For the first time in his life, Alex is awake when he changes.

1993

Alex is still living at home. Three nights a month, he obediently eats his dinner and goes to his room, then leaves through the window. He's perfectly safe from discovery; his mother would never come in his room, far too petrified of ever seeing him while he is 'ill.' The aspirin with which he refilled the little bottle in her dresser drawer has no effect besides leaving a bitter taste in his mouth.

Other nights are riskier, but worth it. Alex often spends two, three nights a week out and about on four paws. If any late-night Sotonians ever happen to notice a large, dark-brindled stray dog out on the Common or the beach, they never bother to remark much on it. He would do it more often if he didn't have classes to go to during the day, mates to hang out with in the evenings. His 'illness', his other shape, is like a tool he wants to learn how to use to his utmost advantage, fitter, quicker, faster, honing the incredible advantages of scent and speed and hearing it gives him.

At sixteen, Alex is not much different from any of his friends- not outwardly, anyway. He loves junk food and Kurt Cobain, and he wants to be a detective- not just any amateur PI, but police, CID, the best. Since he could read he has been fascinated with detective stories, from Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade to casebooks of real-life investigations. In their chameleon-like ruses and deceptions he recognises his own brilliantly adaptive streak, the knack he has for being what people want to see, making them open up for him like so many cheap whodunnit novels. It will take a lot of hard work to get him there- university, training college, at least two years in uniform, even more training after that- but he's confident he can do it. He has a job in a garage, weekends and afternoons, and he's saving up for university. Saving to move out, as well. Alex is sure about one thing above all else- he is not going to let his 'illness' run his life.

1998

Alex sits, nervous and angry, in borrowed clothes on a plastic chair in the A&E department of Leeds General Infirmary. He is twenty-one, restless, reckless. He no longer has to deal with his mother's mind-games, and he misses the challenge more than he misses her, the everyday subterfuge that has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Over the last few months he has found himself looking forward more and more to the times when he can shove all the difficult human stuff to the back of his mind and let the wolf do the thinking. These days, he goes out almost every night.

His focus has suffered, his attendance at university, his performance at his job. He has stretched the limits of his strength and agility, has been staying out later and longer, gets into fights with blokes at the pub and strays on the streets. This morning his girlfriend, Roseanne, found him passed out and nearly naked on her sofa, bleeding profusely from bites to the arms and neck.

He has told the doctors- and Roz- that he was attacked by a dog on his way home from the pub, a story they seem to believe. Alex can make nearly anyone believe almost anything. This, too, has made him careless.

He realises now that he has been stupid, and it has nearly got him caught. When the nurse tells him he can go, he leaves the hospital with an overwhelming sense of relief and resolve. He will be more careful in future. With his course, his exams coming up, and training college not that far away, with his ambitions and with Roz, for the first time in his life, he really has a lot to be careful for.

Just inside the entrance, two men watch him leave. They say nothing to him or each other, but after a moment they stand up together and move, purposefully, after him.

Comments

xivepeel
Apr. 9th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Great read! I wish you could follow up to this topic

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