The faint cries of what sounded like a young girl emerged from the edge of the woods. The smell of blood was sharp and cut through my nose like a sharp blade. I ran towards the sounds of anguish, the smell of burning human flesh sent my senses into overdrive. As I reached the edge, that’s when I saw her. The girl, lying in the grass on the side of the road. The bodies of two mangled adults lay among the car wreckage. I slowly make my way towards the girl, my footsteps slow and steady. As I get closer, she sees me. Her eyes grow wide and her mouth trembles, but she doesn’t scream. Glass shards sticking from her skin, she’s trembling. I lower my head, my nose grazes her skin as I begin to lick the wounds on her arm. That’s when she reaches for me, seemingly no longer afraid. Her brown eyes searching the depths of mine. Into my soul. I don’t know who she is, but I know what this means. I’m not done yet…
“Are you finished?”
I look up from my glass, as the bartender stares at me with his hands pressed against the countertop.
“Are you done with your drink yet? I’m closing in five minutes.” The bartender said.
“Uh, yeah.” I push the glass away, digging into my pocket as I get up from the stool, but before I head to the door, the news playing on the television behind the bar catches my attention.
“Now to breaking news… two teenagers were attacked tonight in what authorities suspect to be another bear attack. One of the victims, a young man was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, a young woman was taken to a local hospital where she is currently fighting for her life-”
The bartender turns off the T.V.
“Wait! Turn that back on.” I ask, my heart pounding as dread crept its way inside.
“Didn’t you hear me? We’re closed. You can watch the news at home.” He said, slapping a dish rag over his shoulder as he walked towards the register.
I huffed, pulling the crunched up twenty-dollar bill from my pocket and slapping it on the counter. “Have a good night,” I say sarcastically as I head to the door.
As I head home, I can’t stop thinking about my dream. About the little girl. I had just returned to Chicago two days ago from Virginia. The last stop on my search. The search for the others. I left my pack when I was sixteen in desperate need of a fresh start. And now, almost 3 years later, I was home again. But that dream was a sign that my journey wasn’t over. And now the news of an attack? I knew this couldn’t be a coincidence. And I knew it wasn’t a bear that attacked those people. I had to find this survivor before it was too late.
I stand huddled in the narrow phone booth, dialing slowly trying to remember the correct number. The pounding in my chest comes back as I wait for her to answer. Hoping, she will answer.
“Hello.” She says softly, most likely hesitant due to the unknown number.
“Kayla. Hey… it’s me.”
I hear her take a short breath. There was a pause before she spoke again. “Jackson? It’s really you?”
Her voice trembles, and suddenly I regret calling. “Yes. It’s been a while. I know.” I respond.
“A while? It’s been almost three years. I didn’t even know if you were alive.”
“Well I am, and I’m back in Chicago,” I said.
“You’re here?” she asks excitedly. “Are you at your cabin? I’ll come by later and-”
“Kayla, I need to ask you something. Did you hear about the attack last night?”
She scoffs. “Yeah. What about it?”
“There was a survivor. Has she been identified?”
“I don’t know. And I don’t care. Why?”
“I need to find her.”
She scoffs again. “I don’t hear from you for all this time, and this is what you call to talk about? Another girl?”
“You don’t even call to tell us that you’re alright. Not once. I’ve thought about you nearly every day since you left us. I’ve missed you so much…” Her voice creaks.
I sigh heavily, pressing my eyes closed. I knew it was a bad idea to call.
“Kayla, I’m sorry.”
“Whatever Jackson. I’ve gotta go.”
I hear sniffles as the phone hangs up. I slam it against the receiver. Fuck. I knew calling Kayla would end like this. I didn’t exactly leave my pack on good terms. And Kayla and I had a history that I had no interest in digging up right now. But I knew if anyone would have information about the attack, it would be her or her father and brother, but I wasn’t ready to talk to either of them. I would just have to find this girl on my own. Before the next full moon.
A week had gone by, and all I knew about the survivor of the attack was that her name was River Lewis and that she was 17 years old. Due to her being a minor, the news hadn’t released her identity right way. By the time I found the correct hospital, she had already been released. The full moon was last night, and I was too late. I just prayed to God that she hadn’t killed anyone. But being her first turn, in a city like this? I knew that was impossible. But the next full moon was 4 weeks away, and I still had time.
As I walked through the park, headed to my cabin that hid in the middle of the woods, that’s when I saw it. A body in the distance. I could see dark hair and blood. Judging by the shape, I could tell it was a female. Oh no… I hurried towards the body, looking around to make sure no one else was around. It was 6 am, so the park was empty. As I approached the body, nude, and covered in blood. I knelt, checking for a pulse. She was alive. And her scent was unmistakable. A shifter. I looked over at her back and saw the scars. It had to be her. I quickly lifted her into my arms and headed into the woods. When I got far enough away from the edge of the park, I laid her down near a tree. I took off my jacket and placed it over her. I didn’t want to leave her like this, but the walk to my cabin was too far and I needed to call someone for help. There was a payphone across the street from the park. I dashed over and swiftly called the only person that I knew who would help.
“Kayla. It’s me again. I need you…”
Did you love this short story? Read how River's Journey begins in River's Moonlight, part 1 of the Moonlight Series.
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