I raced down the hall as if my life depended on it. The fluorescent lights above me flickered. I could register the muffled voices from the rooms on either side of the hall, but I couldn't make out what they were saying over my own ragged panting and the thud of my feet on the linoleum floor. I saw the door coming up on my right closing slowly. NO! I threw myself at it and literally slammed into the door.
The entire class stared at me as the door burst back open behind Mr. Bishop. He whipped around and I winced as the door hit the back wall with a bang and swung back into place. I straightened and tried to pretend that I hadn't just hit the door hard enough to bruise my shoulder.
"I guess that makes you on time." Mr. Bishop had recovered and was trying to look disapproving but mostly looked amused. "But consider this a warning about running in the halls."
"Yes sir." I felt my face heating up.
"Go ahead and take a seat, Miss. Roads." I nodded. He only called his students by their last name when he was trying not to laugh. He's one of my younger teachers, somewhere in that nebulous age of over twenty and under forty. I think it's his way of trying to say professional. I hurried over to my seat and dropped my backpack under the table.
"You okay?" Jessica leaned over and whispered. "You hit that door pretty hard."
"Yeah, I'm good." I rubbed my shoulder with a grimace and glanced at my friend. The lighting made her look even tanner than usual, and her curly brown hair gave her a slightly feral appearance. I sighed. "You have twigs in your hair again."
"I do?" She reached up and immediately found one. She pulled it out, wincing slightly as it caught her hair. "Ouch." I rolled my eyes. I couldn't figure out why Jessica didn't swing by my house when this happened. I was closer to school so she wouldn't be late. "Did I get them?" I returned my gaze to Jessica. She was staring at me with wide light brown (almost yellow) eyes as she patted down her hair.
"The obvious ones." I answered. "If you need to come by my house tomorrow morning to get ready for school, feel free."
"Uh, I'm good." Jessica assured me. I frowned.
"Well, offer stands." I shrugged. Tonight was the last night of the full moon, so she'd probably show up covered in mud and twigs again.
"If we're quite done." Mr. Bishop's irritated voice cut through our conversation. "Maybe I could start my lecture on the Revolutionary War?" We turned back to the front of the room. Mr. Bishop gae us a look and started talking. "It might surprise you to hear that our founding fathers weren't on the same page with a lot of things. In fact, if you get them all in one room, you're liable to find yourself in the middle of a shouting match." He shuddered slight, giving me a good idea of what he'd been doing last night.
I was on my way home when I saw the cultists. I waved at the woman with the red stain and instead of the sad nod back that she usually gave me, she looked pointedly behind her. I followed her gaze and immediately spotted someone cloaked in balck ducking into the park. I stopped. Considered my options. Then I turned and walked in the other direction. I'd take the long way home.
The long way home meant assiing the library. So I stopped and talked to Ms. Bobbin for a little while. I mentioned the person I saw at the park and she went a little wide eyed.
"Oh dear." She murmered. "Are you sure you should be walking home alone, Melody? I'm sure your father would come if you called him." She pushed the old phone on her desk towards me.
"No, I'll be fine." I assured her. I didn't know what was happeniing in the park, but I doubted I'd be in danger unless I decided to walk right into it. "Do you have any biographies on Harriet Tubman?" Ms. Bobbin pointed me in the right direction and I noticed her making a call as I walked away. I didn't manage to leave for another hour. I'm pretty sure that Ms. Bobbin was stalling at the end. She's never had that much trouble with the computer system before.
The sun had set, but the moon was rising, so I had enough light to see by. I heard a howl rise above the town. It was answered by another howl and another. I'd almost forgotten it was a full moon. I quickened my step. I didn't really think I was going to be attacked, but I wasn't totally sure what would happen if I ran into someone from Jessica's family tonight.
I turned a corner. I was still a few streets away from my house on a street of closed shops when I heard footsteps behind me. I looked over my shoulder. No one was there. I turned back and stopped dead. A figure swathed in black stood before me.
"You'll do." The figure intoned. I stiffened and took a step back. My shoulders hit something covered in bunched up cloth, I yelped and spun around. There were two more figures on either side of me. I moved warily away, trying to keep my eyes on all three figures. I was stopped by a wall. They circled me. "You'll do." They spoke in unison. "You are needed."
"No." I muttered. "I'm really not." I glanced around. If I screamed would someone come? It was worth a shot. "Kidnappers! Help!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. There weren't any houses around and the shop windows were dark, but maybe... "HELP!"
"You are needed." They said again, closing in around me.. I hefted the biography in my arms, ready to hit whichever one came close.
"You are neede-" A snarl cut them off as a massive brown blur barreled into the one in the middle. He screamed as the creature tore at the cloak iciously. He managed to throw it off and it landed a few feet away. It was a massive wolf, unruly brown fur raised. It's body moving up and down, in time with it's heavy panting. A low growl rose from deep in its heaving chest.
Then it threw back its head and howled. The answering howls were far closer than I'd ever heard. I looked around at the cultists.
"You should probably run." I advised. I edged away from them. They were staring at the wolf. The wolf snarled and snapped at them. The one that had been attacked stumbled to his feet and took off.
"Where are you going?!" Of of his companions shouted. I heard something running. The other man made a choked sound and took off after him. I looked up. Three wolves, even larger than the first, were racing down the street towards them.
"Run." I said. He screamed and followed my advice. The wolves rushed by me. The brown wolf who had initiated the attack joining them in the chase.
"Thank you!" I called after them. I got a few howls in response. I made my way home, a lot less worried than I had been when I left the library.
I woke up to knocking. I stumbled out of bed, dislodging the biography I'd fallen asleep reading. I looked through the peekhole. Then I grinned and threw open the door.
"Jessica," I greeted her, even as I rubbed sleep out of my eyes. I was taken off guard when she tackled me in a hug. I could feel her taking deep breaths in my hair. I frowned and put my arms around her.
"Hey, it's okay." I soothed her. I patted her back. But when my fingers caught in her long hair I grimaced. "Come on." I hauled her the rest of the way inside. "You need a hairbrush and some mouth wash." She laughed.
"I have had a bad taste in my mouth since last night." She finally pulled away.
"I bet!" Cultist couldn't taste great. "Let's get ready. I'll een let you sneak a peek at my math homework."
"You're the best!" She practically bounced as she followed me down the hall. I wondered if I could get her to take a shower while I was at it.