Photo by Amar Saleem on Pexels.com

Chapter One

Blood. Fresh blood. He could smell it.

It drove his senses crazy, and he was sure his pupils were contracted, but Dale kept his head down anyway and cast his hood over his face. But the smell stirred his curiosity as well as his inhumanly sharp senses. Why would there be blood in this small town, much less in December? What had caused it?

Risking a glance to the left, he saw a skateboarder sprawled across the slippery sidewalk on the other side of the street. The skateboarder was holding his forearm, which was streaked with runny scarlet.

The sight and smell made Dale’s claws jut out, tearing his black gloves. The canine part of himself itched to run on all fours and attack the young teen. The canine part of himself begged him, commanded him, threatened him. And he wanted to give in.

The teen was vulnerable, defenceless, with no means of getting away quickly from Dale’s inhuman speed. Dale had all the advantages.

And yet … Dale knew he shouldn’t.

The skateboarder looked up at him, blood seeping through the fingers he had wrapped around his wound. “Hey, you!” he shouted. “Can you help me?” When he received no answer from Dale, he shouted again, “I have my phone and my mom’s number in my left pocket. Can you take out the phone and call her? Please?”

“I can’t,” Dale replied, his voice barely a whisper. “I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t.” He felt fangs when he bit the inside of his cheek. Not a good sign.

“How about I pay you?” the teen offered.The blood pooling under his arm had tripled in width, and with that Dale’s canine nature tripled in strength. “I think the wound is infected. Call 9-1-1 and I’ll pay you twenty bucks? Thirty? Forty?”

“I can’t!” Dale nearly shouted, clutching at his head and feeling his claws poke through the gloves. He wasn’t talking to the teen, he was trying to convince himself not to attack.

But the blood ….

“Please, kid?” the skateboarder appealed one last time, and Dale fell off the cliff of self-restraint.

A growl rattled his throat, and he dropped to all fours, baring his fanged teeth and feeling his forearms grow itchy with the smoky blue fur that sprouted suddenly. His target was the teen and only the teen.

“What the — ?”

Dale cut him off by bounding across the street on all fours, and with one powerful leap, he dove for the screaming teen.