Some werewolves were born as werewolves, and some were bitten and turned. Lily had been bitten by a werewolf as she’d left school one day, the wolf’s fangs piercing her arm and staining her blue school uniform. The wolf had come out of nowhere, leaping from the tree line just outside the school. She was late to class that day, hence why she was the only one in the parking lot.
Lily got up, picked the grass flecks off her blazer and threw her backpack over her shoulder, running to the nurse’s office, checking behind herself every so often to make sure the wolf had left. But it just stared at her with its bright yellow eyes, and before long it dashed through the trees as though it were never there to begin with.
In a panic, Lily rushed to the nurse’s office. What if the bite got infected? What if she got rabies? The nurse was a woman in her 40’s with red, curly hair and a clipboard in her hands.
“What are you in for?” She said politely, apparently oblivious to Lily clutching her bloody arm.
“I was bitten by a wolf on my way to school. Should we call animal control? Am I going to foam at the mouth soon? Will I need stitches?” The words rushed out of Lily’s mouth in an energetic stream.
“Here, let me check if you have a fever. I’m Nurse Renley, just calm down and I’ll take care of you.” The nurse said, taking a thermometer and placing it inside Lily’s ear. “Do you have any muscle weakness? Tingling feelings?”
“No.” Lily said.
“Let’s see your wound.” Renley said as Lily rolled up her shirt sleeve to reveal the bite. “Oh my.” Renley and Lily looked at the wound as thick fur began to sprout around the bite quickly. Lily screamed, a quavering, uneasy yelp, and she backed against the wall.
“What’s happening to me?” She said urgently.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ll call the hospital and your parents, try to stay calm.” Lily attempted slow, calming breaths, but fear took over as the fur spread to cover her. Her limbs rearranged painlessly and her arms and legs thinned, her spine doubling over, urging her to land on all fours. Her mouth stretched into a muzzle, and before long, she was a wolf.
Lily issued a long whimper, upset when she found the words had left her and all the noises she could make were primal. Renley dropped the phone she was holding and gaped openly at the wolf in her office. The person on the other line cheerily asked what was wrong until Renley replied;
“This is Nurse Renley, I have an issue with a patient! You aren’t going to believe me.” Fear shot through Lily. What if the medical community turned her into a science experiment? She bolted out of the room, knocking over a chair and a box of Band-Aids. She raced through the mostly vacant hallway, nearly trampling a startled janitor in the process. She got to the door and pushed at the corner with her nose until it opened slightly, then she pressed her forepaws against it. She made a beeline for the forest, her only thoughts revolving around hiding from people. She tried to think rationally. If she was a werewolf, then the wolf who bit her must have a human form. If only she could ask that wolf how to become human again! She let out an anguished howl, hoping to draw the wolf towards her. To her surprise, a girl her age with wavy grey hair, wearing a long green sweater dress approached her slowly.
“Don’t worry, I can show you how to change back.” The girl said. Lily was so afraid and uncomfortable she almost ran away, but the girl placed a hand on her head, petting her.
“Just relax, and think about your human body, and you’ll reform.” Lily wined a bit, but focused on her human body like the girl told her. Her back repositioned itself upright, the fur retracted into her body and suddenly she was human again. She looked upon her hands in relief.
“Tell me, what’s going on?” She asked, more afraid than angry.
“My name’s Mika. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but I turned you into a werewolf. You’ll get used to it.” Lily recoiled with disgust.
“Why would you do this to me? To anyone? Is it permanent? Am I going to get sick from your bite?” Mika shook her head.
“You won’t get sick. But it is permanent. You can control the transformation most of the time though. I chose you to become a werewolf. Don’t you remember me? We used to go to summer camp together every year.” Lily was startled, and tried to search her memories.
“Mika…you went by Mikael before, didn’t you? You dyed your hair…I didn’t recognize you.” Mika nodded.
“We were just 12 when we met. I can’t believe it’s been four whole years.”
“How and when did you become a werewolf? And why did you pick me to become what you are? Lily asked, mystified, and still afraid.
“Oh, it wasn’t really up to me. The alpha said you had to be made into a wolf and chose me to turn you. You can meet her now, if you’d like.” Lily gasped.
“There’s a leader? This is all happening so fast!”
“Don’t worry Lily. I’ll take care of you, and the pack will take care of you. I would have liked to explain everything before turning you into a wolf. But I didn’t have much time.” Lily followed Mika uneasily through the woods. She wasn’t entirely comfortable, but she had pepper spray in her backpack and in her skirt pocket she’d already typed in “91” and was ready to add a “1” if needed.
“I was made into a werewolf by Anette, she’s the beta. She said she chose me for my athleticism. We were in gymnastics together for a few years. She was better at it than I was though: that as two years ago. I’m pretty used to being a werewolf by now. You will be too by then.” Mika said.
“I’m not sure about that.” Lily replied. They came to a clearing in the woods. Lily saw a road a few yards away and a cave in front of them. She figured it was a short sprint away if she got into trouble. But Mika’s expression held no malice, and Lily relaxed slightly.
“We have to go in that cave, come on.” Mika said.
“No.” Lily replied. “I’m not going anywhere else. Introduce me to your pack now, or I’m leaving.” Mika scoffed and raised her hands in a gesture of surrender.
“Okay, chill. I’m not going to let anything happen to you buddy. I’ll go get the pack. Wait here.” Mika disappeared into the cave and Lily stood outside tapping her foot. This day was much too weird for her taste. She just wanted explanations. She was starting to wonder if all this werewolf stuff was a fever-induced hallucination caused by an infection from the wolf bite, and whether or not her body was still in the nurse’s office, but then Mika showed up. Beside her was a girl in blue pants and a white shirt. Her eyes were brown with flecks of yellow, her hair was jet black and curly, and she held her hand out to Lily. Reluctantly, Lily shook it.
“I’m Annette.” The girl said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m this pack’s alpha.”
“Some alpha you are, ordering my childhood friend to turn me into a werewolf instead of doing your own dirty work. And without my approval! Do you know how afraid I was when wolf hair started growing on me?” Annette cringed.
“So sorry. I guess that could have been handled a bit better. But you see, there’s no time. We need to add to our numbers to survive the weregrizzly.”
“What? You made me a werewolf to help you fight a big bear? Why not just call animal control?” Lily said.
“Because, if the weregrizzly gets caught by humans and turns back into a boy in front of them, it would endanger all of the were-animals. And the grizzly is big and violent, and we can’t tell what it wants. Our negotiations in human or animal form have gone abysmally. It attacks now and again with no warning, follows us when we move to other forests, it’s a huge problem.” Annette said.
“Did you accidentally make it mad? Who is it in human form?” Lily wondered how many other animals were shape shifters in human form. The thought made her scan her surroundings uncomfortably.
“Actually, it’s my brother Wallace.” Mika said. “He got bitten by a weregrizzly during a camping trip last week. We’ve been trying to help him, tell him calmly how to transform, like how I explained it to you. But he’s in a rage and won’t listen.”
“How do your parents feel about all this?” Lily said, finding the existence of weregrizzly’s peculiar.
“They’ve had therapists talk to him, although they have difficulty getting his attention, since he’s a lot more interested in hunting fish. They’ve tried tranquilizing him and inducing a transformation though medical means, but doctors can’t figure out what chemical or process triggers the transformation. So, we’ve leave him in the woods, keep an eye on him, we think if we tried him out enough he’d transform into human form from the stress.” Mika said sadly.
“So you made me into a werewolf so I could help you fight a grizzly?”
“Yes. And after the fight you can be on your way. Or join us. Mika assured us you were plenty brave enough when you were kids.” Anette said.
“Surely you’ve met someone who’s a better fighter than me, Mika?” Lily said in astonishment.
“I haven’t made many friends outside of the pack. It’s hard to bond with humans at school. They go to movies, draw, watch T.V., play video games, and I don’t do any of those things. After school I go hunting with the pack, explore the hills and mountains, and howl at the moon. I don’t have much in common with humans.” A hint of sadness permeated her confession, but she hid it with a smile. “But at camp we hiked trails and rode canoes, and built fires. It felt more like my life outside with my wolf family. Maybe that’s why I was more comfortable and could befriend you.” Mika admitted shyly.
“Oh. I get it.” Lily said. “I was happy then, when we became friends too. You were braver than I was. When we went horseback riding, I started crying about how high up I was!”
“I remember.” Mika said.
“But when I was tired and almost fell off the horse, you caught me and pushed me back on the saddle. I don’t know what I would have done without you.” Lily said, suddenly embarrassed.
“Hey, it was nothing. I liked that even though you were scared, you still got on the horse, even though you complained, you still tried it. That takes bravery, that’s why I chose to make you a werewolf.” Mika said.
“I see.” Lily said sheepishly. Annette put her arm around Lily and Mika’s shoulders.
“This is nice and all, but really we should be getting to Wallace. Maybe we can try talking to him before nightfall. They took a short walk down a hill and crossed a rope bridge over a river. Between two trees just barley in their line of sight was a large, brown, grizzly bear. Curled up in a bed of leaves, it was fast asleep, stirring only to yawn, exposing its long teeth. Lily shuddered at the sight of it.
“Now, Lily, don’t be afraid to run away at any time. I won’t judge you. But if you can try to get through to Wallace, that would mean a lot. If he sees me, he recognizes me and runs away, so I’ll be behind this tree. Good luck.” Anette whispered urgently. Lily clenched her teeth and nodded. As she turned to face the grizzly, it looked up at her.
“Are you in there, Wallace?” She asked. She wanted to help out Mika and Anette, but more than that, she felt sympathy for Wallace, being trapped in grizzly form. She vividly recalled her time trapped as a wolf, unsure if she’d ever be herself again, startled by the change she’d gone through. She wanted to help Wallace out of that. No one should feel as out of control as she’d felt. Wallace yawned and shook himself, slowly opening his eyes. When he saw Lily, he let out a low bleating noise and marched forward to sniff her. Her heart caught in her throat and she transformed into a wolf without meaning to. She wondered if her terror catalyzed the transformation, and why. Was in adrenaline? What set it off? She had no time to think as Wallace swiped his paw at her aggressively.
She felt his claws dig into her forepaw and she yelped in pain, and bit the bear’s ear without thinking. Wallace roared and lunged forward as she swiftly turned around and raced for the trees. She hid behind Mika, who’d already transformed and ran to her defense, biting the grizzly’s front leg so that it wouldn’t swat at Lily a second time. Paralyzed with fear, Lily watched as Mika hung tightly to Wallace’s leg even as he sank his teeth into her paw. Lily gathered all her strength and tackled Wallace, biting savagely on his back leg. Lily and Mika pulled on both limbs as Wallace struggled.
Anette disappeared for a moment and returned with a net, throwing it over Wallace. He bellowed, then tripped over the net, the pain and confinement giving way to stress until his body transformed into that of a man. Wallace had black curly hair like his sister, and green eyes. His orange jacket was ripped and tattered and his black pants were caked in dirt. He was thin, as though he hadn’t gotten enough to eat in the wild. Anette pulled him to his feet and hugged him.
“Wallace, why did you run away whenever you saw me?” Anette said, pain clear in her voice.
“I was ashamed. I couldn’t control my actions very well in my bear body, I was afraid I would hurt you, so I tried to stay away.” Tears spilled out of Wallace’s eyes.
Lily and Mika returned to their human forms. Lily raised up her left hand, which now had a large grizzly bite on it. She cringed in horror, but she could still move her fingers, and figured that was a good sign. She showed it to Mika.
“Look, we match.” She said, adrenaline giving her an abundance of energy and dulling the pain.
“Yeah, we do.” Mika said, wincing. “Thanks for your help, Lily. It was nice of you to fight alongside me.” Lily smiled back, with a bit of a cringe in her expression from the pain. She pulled off her jacket and wrapped her hand in it.
“I’m glad I could help you. And it’s nice that Anette and Wallace are reunited.” Wallace walked up to them, with Anette beside him.
“Please forgive me for hurting you! I didn’t mean to fight, it’s just that when I turn into a bear, I’m not myself…it’s like everyone around me seems like a threat. I’m scared all the time. If only I could control it, none of this would have happened! I wasn’t even able to transform back into a human on my own.” Wallace looked at the girl’s hurt hands, disgusted with himself.
“I guess you weren’t yourself...” Lily said. She wasn’t in a forgiving mood. “But you do realize this could have been avoided if you’d listened to the other werewolves who’ve tried to help you more than once?” Wallace blushed.
“You’re right. I should have accepted their help when they offered instead of feeling bad for myself.” Anette nodded in agreement.
“Well. Next time you’ll know to calm down and listen to us. Hey, let’s go back to the cave. I’m sure we could all use food.” Anette said. They headed to the cave and went inside. Lily was surprised that instead of looking like a creepy dungeon like she expected, it was a modern-looking place with a white table and a blue table cloth, a kitchenette, and five doors: a bathroom and four bedrooms. The cave still had a dirt floor, and a large generator in the back was powering the electricity. “If there’s some werewolf-related disaster in the woods, we stay here to help out whenever we can.” Anette said.
“Oh how nice.” Lily said. “So your parents know you’re werewolves?”
“Of course. My dad freaked out about it at first, but mostly because he was worried I’d be shot by hunters out here.” Mika said. Lily nodded.
“That reminds me, I haven’t called my parents in hours! It’s almost 10:00, they’re probably worried sick!” She went for her cell phone, surprised it was still in her pocket, and quickly dialed. The dial tone sounded and she noticed Anette and Wallace were sharing a phone, telling their parents of Wallace’s emanate return. Lily smiled. Lily’s mom answered.
“Hello? Lily? Are you all right? I heard you were in the nurse’s office today and ran away from school!” Lily sighed.
“I’m sorry about that mom. I just couldn’t help it, I was scared and turned into a werewolf so I had to leave.” It struck Lily how unbelievable this excuse was, but she always endeavored to tell the truth. Her mom’s voice rose.
“This isn’t a time for joking Lily. Just tell me where you are, I’ll come pick you up.”
“Alright.” Lily explained where she was in the woods and hung up.
“How did it go?” Mika asked.
“She didn’t believe me!” Lily said in mock-astonishment.
“Well, it’s not every day you join a werewolf pack.” Mika said.