The morning sun crested over the hills and shined a bright light through the trees. A patchwork quilt of shadows was cast over the sleeping bodies of five naked teenagers. To the outside observer this would look like the lingering remnants of debauchery and drunken sex. And for the most part it was, except, there was no alcohol, nor sex. There was however, a plethora of excess and self-indulgence. The last evidence of this excess was the blood stained snow and the dead deer by the tree line. It could have been worse. It could have been a whole herd of sheep. But the Bryon Falls pack was small, and they hunted bigger game last night. The deer was a sacrifice necessary to fuel the hunt.
Mishka was the first to wake. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Every muscle in his body screamed in protest. A jolt of pain shot up his spine. The sounds of cracking bones soon followed. Suddenly the vision of last night’s adventures flooded his head. Mishka fought back the pain and squinted his eyes as flashes of what happened last night rushed back to him. First was Cricket, the blond Fae he and a few of his friends were trying to ensnare. The Fae was under a curse of sorts, possession by another Fae. From what Mishka could understand, Cricket has two personalities, Dream Cricket and Nightmare Cricket. Two separate beings, but also the same. Nightmare Cricket has possessed Dream Cricket, and was disguised as Dream Cricket. It made more sense when Lolly explained it to him yesterday. The best Mishka could figure out was the Fae were like the forest Fairies from his homeland. Although, they don’t like being called fairies. Mishka, Lolly, and Olivia were trying to catch Nightmare Cricket so they could free Dream Cricket. But during the fight Cricket managed to escaped their trap and started running. The next thing Mishka remembered was his instincts taking over. Instincts triggered by the moon and the scent of prey. There was moment of pain that coursed through his body as he ran. Mishka had experienced the sensation numerous times in the past. After the pain subsided, the tunnel vision set in. All Mishka could see was the Fae in front of him. Cricket sprinted through the forest like a terrified rabbit. Running and jumping in zigzagged patterns meant to confuse her pursuers. He remembered chasing the frightened Fae through the woods allowing his animal instincts to take over. He also remembered his friends chasing after Cricket as well. Although, they chased Cricket not to trap her, but to protect the Fae… “From whom?” Mishka thought to himself. “Oh, from me.” There was a moment of guilt as Mishka jumped to the inevitable conclusion of Cricket’s fate. Another vision quickly distracted Mishka from his guilt. This vision reminded Mishka of the others who joined the hunt. Friends he remembered running with from school – and the rival who joined the chase not as a competitor but as kin. After that everything was a blur. Mishka remember catching their prey, but he does not remember what happened to Cricket. That was part of the curse. Once the excitement of the hunt takes over, all sense of humanity was gone. All that was left was the raw primal animistic instincts. Mishka looked down and saw the blood on his hands. Then there was lingering taste of iron in his month. In a panic he looked around, afraid the blood was Cricket’s. He spotted the carcass of a completely devoured doe by the tree line. Two wolves pick at the remains, but soon lost their resolve and ran into the woods as Mishka started to stir. Mishka licked his lips and sniffed his hands. The blood smelled and tasted of deer. Mishka was relatively satisfied that the blood did not belong to Cricket, but he was not sure. It was possible that blood from the deer was masking the scent of the Fae. But from Mishka’s limited experience with the Fae, Cricket’s scent would take more than deer blood to cover. His running friends from school were lying with him on the snow-covered ground. Lolly and Olivia were not with them. Everyone was naked. Not by choice, but as a side effect of the lunar hangover. Together they rested as a pack, probably to conserve energy and share warmth during the cold night. Mishka stood up. Again his body protested. The original transformation was painful. But when it happens, there was usually enough adrenaline coursing through your body to dull the pain. The transformation back did not have that same luxury. Mishka walked over to the dead deer and examined it. “Thank you for your blessings Lesnik “ Mishka said quietly, unsure if Lesnik could hear his pray so far from his homeland. His thoughts then turned to Susi, the charming red head from school. She was the only female in the group. To the uninitiated, this would appear to be a dangerous place for a lone female. One female in the midst of four males governed by primal urges. However, she was as safe as every other member of the fledgling pack. She was asleep next to Donnel and Raul. Now that Mishka had moved, part of her body was exposed to the elements. She reacted to the cold by curling up into a ball and snuggled in closer to Donnel and Raul. “Who was the pack’s alpha?” Mishka thought to himself. He remembered taking lead during the hunt, the spot designated for the Alpha, but he was the new kid in town and he was the newest member of the pack, if they would have him. “Perhaps it was because it was his hunt, and the pack joined in after it had started was why they let him keep the alpha’s spot.” Mishka concluded. “Or was the pack without an Alpha?” Mishka decided now was not the time to reflect on pack’s hierarchy. The pack was safe for the moment. He shifted his focus on getting clothes and warmth. “I need to find out what happened to Cricket.” Mishka said to himself. “And apologize to Lolly.” She asked him for help, and he let her down. Mishka started to slowly trudged toward the cabin in search of clothes and blankets, and Lolly.