I didn't see the other car in time. One minute I was driving along Creek Road, on the outskirts of town, and the next I was blinded by headlights as another car T boned my own.
My body jerked wildly as I was thrown against the door. My head struck the window, cracking the glass. Pain ripped through my temple, but there was no time to wonder how bad it was, as my car crashed through the guardrail. Then it started to roll. I screamed as the car fell down the cliff, the seatbelt holding me in my seat, but it didn't stop the glass raining down on me or the twisted metal and debris as it cut into my flesh.
The car crashed down, landing on the roof and I blacked out.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself hanging upside down, the seatbelt cutting into me.
“Uhh, h-help!” I choked. My whole body was in agony, I needed to get out of here.
Fumbling for the release, I managed to get the seatbelt open. I thumped down onto the roof, striking my face in the process. The pain caused my vision to blur, as my stomach heaved.
I gripped the edge of the roof and dragged myself forward. My skin began to stretch and tighten.
“Oh, God, not here. Not now.”
I rolled onto my back and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to will the change to stop. But there was no stopping it, my injuries must be severe and the wolf knew that the only way to heal was to shift.
“Please, please, please,” I whispered. I couldn't let anyone see me like that.
When the bones in my back began to pop, I knew it was too late. It was happening whether I wanted it or not. I drifted away as the wolf took over.
When I became aware again, I was no longer in the car. I was scrabbling in the dirt, almost at the top of the cliff. My claws retracted as I returned to my human form and I almost lost my grip. Finding a small ledge, I stopped to rest on it.
Glancing up, I could see that the top was only about three feet above me. The sound of ragged breathing reached me. Craning my neck, I realized I wasn't alone. Standing on the cliff top, in a long white ball gown was Crystal Jones, from my English class at school.
Judging from the terrified look on her face, it was clear that she had seen me change. Using what little strength I had left, I pulled myself up to the top of the cliff, pain coursing through me from the effort.
Behind Crystal, sat her white jeep. The front end was badly dented, like she had hit something with her car.
I looked up at her, “You?”
She turned and fled.
Rolling onto the road, I tried to call out to her, but couldn't. While the shift had healed most of my broken bones, I was still injured. And naked.
How the hell was I going to get home?
There was a squeal of tires as Crystal drove away. I couldn't wait around for her to return with the cops, I needed to get moving. Getting to my feet, I groaned as my body screamed in protest. Everything hurt so much.
I took a step forward, then another to begin the long walk home.
Oh God, what have I done? Why did I drink tonight? I’m going to go to jail.
My mind was so flooded with thoughts, I could barely focus on the road. I hit that car. Jax Howell, from school, he was the one behind the wheel. When it went over, I was sure he was dead. And then that…thing crawled out.
I shook my head wildly, no. It didn’t happen. It was the drink and the shock and maybe I hit my head when I crashed. That just didn’t happen.
This was all Stephen’s fault. How could he dump me at the Spring Formal? Then ten minutes later he was making out with that bitch Roxy? That’s why I knocked back that vodka. That’s why I didn’t see Jax’s car until it was too late.
What if he dies? You’ll go to jail for murder?
I slammed on the brakes, then practically fell out of the car to vomit in the road. Once I had emptied my stomach, I leaned back against the car, trying to control my breathing.
I wrapped my arms around my knees, praying this was all a dream. I’d ruined my whole life. How could I be so stupid? I was the responsible one. Student body president, homecoming committee, I even volunteered to feed the homeless last summer. Now it was all gone. My parents were going to kill me. Forget about college and everything that came after.
It was quiet out here. Creek Road was right on the outskirts of town, beyond it were farmhouses and fields. Obviously no one had heard the crash or the police would be all over this place by now.
I should turn myself in. Maybe they will go easy on me.
There was a tear in my dress, a strip of fabric was hanging off the bottom of it. I must have caught it in the car door when I left school. Figures. I spent months picking the perfect dress and now it was destroyed.
I don’t know how long I sat there, but when I looked up, I saw someone walking toward me. The road was lit by a street lamp and when he passed under it, I gasped. It was Jax. He was limping badly and completely naked. I kept my gaze firmly fixed on his face.
Getting to my feet, I didn’t know whether to run or help him. What I saw had to have been a hallucination or brain trauma. Such things weren’t possible.
He stopped walking, squinting at me in the dark.
“You bitch. You hit my damn car,” he said, a wheeze evident.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” I said, backing away.
“You’re going to leave me here!” he snapped.
I stopped, “No. I…”
If I left him here and he collapsed and died then I was screwed. He was alive, I had to focus on that. Maybe I could convince him not to press charges.
Hurrying to the trunk, I pulled out a blanket and tossed it to him. He wrapped it around his shoulders.
“I’ll drive you home, or to the hospital,” I said.
“No. Just home.” He got into the car.
Taking a deep breath, I got behind the wheel. Maybe I would get out of this after all.
Starting the car, I glanced over at him. There was a huge gash on his cheek. He must be in a lot of pain.
“Maybe you should get a doctor to take a look at you.”
“It'll be fine. My mother can check me over.”
“Oh, yes, she's a nurse, isn't she?” I didn't really know him, but his mother treated me last year when I slipped and cut my arm on some glass. She was quite stern looking and feeling nervous I tried to make conversation with her. I mentioned my school and she told me that Jax was her son.
Jax sniffed the air, “Have you been drinking?”
Gripping the wheel, I said, “I had a drink yes. But…”
“That's why you hit me? You're drunk!”
“Trust me, I'm not anymore. Watching a car roll down a cliff sobers you up real quick.”
“This keeps getting better and better. I thought you were supposed to be one of those goody-goodies who never breaks the rules? Walking around like you own the school and you're just as fucked up as everyone else.”
“I'm sorry, okay, my boyfriend dumped me and I was upset. I wasn't thinking clearly. I didn't mean to hit you.”
“Whatever. You're lucky you aren't going to jail.”
My breath caught in my throat, “I really am sorry. Please don't call the cops. I'll do anything.”
The tears started and Jax turned away to look out the window. “Right now, I just want to get some sleep. I don't know what I'm going to do.”
“I am sorry, Jax.”
He shook his head, sighing angrily.
“I'll get you home. Where do you live?”
He reeled off the address and I started driving. I needed to convince him not to call the cops. Whatever it took. I had money. My grandmother left me some in her will. I could replace his car for him and we could forget the whole thing.
“Wait. Stop the car,” Jax said.
I pulled over to the side of the road, “What's wrong?”
“If I go home like this and my mother finds out what you did. She'll…”
“Have me arrested,” I finished.
“No. I'm her only son, you nearly killed me. She isn't going to call the police, she's going to tear you apart.”
He gave me a look to suggest I was stupid.
“You saw what happened back there, right? When I got out of the car?”
I shook my head, “I was in shock. I was seeing things.”
“Really? And did you see me change from a large wolf, back into a human?”
“That didn't happen,” I said. It wasn't real. It couldn't be.
“Shit, you've either had way too much to drink or you are in serious denial.”
I stared out through the windshield, feeling as though I was going to hyperventilate. He changed into an animal. Oh, God.
“What are you?” I whispered.
He was silent for several minutes, then he finally said, “A werewolf. My mom too. If she figures out what happened, she will come after you.”
“So don't tell her,” I cried.
“I'm in your car, your scent is all over me. It won't take her long to track you down.”
“Oh, God. This can't be happening. Maybe I deserve to go to jail, but I don't deserve to die. It was an accident.”
“Calm down. Look if I can get some sleep, my body will heal. Then she won't know.”
“What about your car?”
“I'll think of something. But I need to rest.”
“Okay, you can sleep at my house. My parents are gone until tomorrow. My brother left some clothes behind when he left for college. You heal and we don't ever have to tell her. Right?”
I started the car and drove to my house.
Crystal was a complete wreck. How much denial could a person be in that they couldn't even admit to themselves when they saw something supernatural? But I guess it made sense. Who would want to believe in such a thing? It was why people like me and my mom stayed hidden.
Everything was so messed up, but I couldn't focus on it right now. I needed to rest and heal. I didn't owe Crystal anything, but I wasn't sure that I could call the cops on her. It was an accident, but that didn't excuse her behavior.
Whatever, I could deal with it tomorrow.
Crystal lived in a huge house, surrounded by a six foot wall and wrought iron gates. She had money or rather her parents did. They could probably buy her a new car for every day of the week, while I scrimped and saved for nearly a year to afford mine.
She parked the car in the garage and led me inside. She disappeared into one of the rooms, while I took in the huge living room with the fifty-inch plasma on the wall.
She returned with a t-shirt and a pair of pajama bottoms. She turned away while I put them on, every move agony.
“Will the couch be okay?” She asked.
I nodded, it was fine. Once she had made it up with sheets and a pillow, I collapsed onto it. It was a relief to lie down.
“You sleep then. If you need anything just yell. Do you need anything?”
“No,” I muttered.
She seemed relieved to leave the room. I didn’t blame her, it wasn’t every day you had a sleepover with a werewolf.
Settling on the couch, I closed my eyes, feeling exhaustion wash over me. I was asleep in seconds.
I woke up several hours later, feeling that familiar sensation again along with a sharp pain in my right lung. Doubling over, I tried to stop it from happening. There must be some kind of internal bleeding.
Dropping to my knees on the carpet, I fought with every inch of my being to prevent the change. I looked around desperately for somewhere to go. The only place was the back yard on the other side of the French doors. They would never keep me out, but maybe if I was outside I would run off rather than attack Crystal.
I ran, hunched over out through the doors. I made it to the middle of the yard before I collapsed. Before I lost myself to the wolf, I realized the flaw in my plan. The house was surrounded by a wall. I couldn’t get out.
I couldn’t sleep. How could I with a werewolf twenty feet from me?
My brain was still having a hard time with that one. Jax always seemed so normal. He was smart, quiet, but…normal. You would never know what lay beneath the surface.
This was a bad idea, bringing him here. What was I thinking? He said his mother was dangerous, but what if he was lying to get in here?
Shit, shit, shit.
I got up and double checked that my door was locked, then I dragged my dresser in front of it. So far there hadn’t been a peep out of Jax. Maybe I should tell him to leave and take my chances? Then I could call the police.
No, I can’t call the police.
I was trapped whatever way you looked at it and there was no way I would be able to convince the police about Jax or anything else.
Just wait it out until morning, then this will all be over.
Unable to settle, I walked around the room. As I passed the window I saw a dark shadow outside in the yard. I moved to the window, pulling the blinds aside to look outside. The moon lit up the yard, as did the solar lights lining the flower beds. A large dark mass was pacing the yard, as if searching for something.
My heart in my throat, I backed away from the window. It was Jax. He had changed again and he was trapped in my yard. Panicked, I switched the lamp off by my bed. I knew it was a mistake when I heard a growl close to the window. The light going off had attracted its attention.
Sinking to the floor, I searched for a place to hide. Under the bed seemed too obvious and it wouldn’t protect me. I crawled to the closet in the corner. There was no lock, but having the door between me and it, made me feel marginally safer. Besides could it work a door knob with claws? An image of those claws sinking into my flesh filled my mind. I started to hyperventilate.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor of the closet. I must have passed out. How much time had passed?
Getting to my feet, I reached for the door knob. A loud crash made me back away. It wasn’t the closet door, it was the bedroom door. It had broken in, taking out the dresser in the process.
Pressing myself against the wall, I tried to make myself as small as possible. It was going to find me. My breath was coming in short bursts, I needed to get it under control or I would pass out again. Maybe that would be a good thing, then I wouldn’t be aware when it attacked. The thought sent a flood of adrenaline through me. No, I wasn’t going to die here.
Feeling the floor around me, my hand closed around a shoe. It was a stiletto and the only weapon I had. I just needed one good shot, then I would run.
I realized that there was silence on the other side of the door. It had gotten in, but now there was no noise. Was it waiting, trying to lure me out? Or maybe when it crashed through the door, it knocked itself out? I couldn’t hope for that.
I put my ear to the door to listen. There was no growling or movement from the other side, although it was hard to hear anything over my pounding heart.
Time passed, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to move, to get out the damn closet. My hand trembling, I opened the door slowly, bracing myself.
In the dim light, I could see the dresser lying on the floor, smashed to pieces. The door was in a similar state. There was no sign of Jax. Now if I could get to the front door, I could make a run for it.
My bare foot came down on a piece of broken wood. I bit my lip hard to stop myself from crying out. Lifting my leg, I pulled a three inch splinter out of my foot. If I didn’t get out of this house, I would have a lot more to worry about than a simple splinter.
I spun to find Jax crouched in the corner of the room, back in his human form.
“I’m leaving,” I said.
“Probably a good idea,” he said. He didn’t sound angry or threatening, just weary.
“You should leave and go home,” I said.
“I would, but I think I was hurt worse than I realized. My body keeps shifting to try and fix it, but I don’t think its working.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think I’m dying,” he choked.
“Shit, then you need to go to the hospital,” I said.
“Can’t. They’ll find out what I am.”
“It won’t matter if you die,” I said.
How the hell would I explain a dead body in my room?
Jax groaned, “You should probably run. I think it’s happening again.”
Grabbing my keys, I ran outside to my car. As I got behind the wheel, I jammed the key into the ignition and turned it. Nothing happened.
“No, please. Not now,” I cried, turning it again. The car wouldn’t start. I grabbed the door handle, prepared to run down the street to a neighbor’s house, when I saw the wolf in the doorway of the house.
I locked the car door and sank down in my seat. The wolf stepped out of the house, sniffing the air as it went. Could it smell me inside the car? I moved over to the passenger side of the car and onto the floor.
There was a thump at the side of the car and I screamed. Slapping a hand over my mouth, I tried to stay as quiet as possible. It hit the car again, this time hard enough to rock it violently. It continued the assault, hitting the car over and over again. I gave up being quiet and started screaming.
I curled up in a ball and lay there with my hands over my ears.
It was as the sun rose that I realized the thumping had stopped. Slowly I got to my knees and looked out the window. Jax was gone.
I managed to clear away the broken wood before my parents came home, but I couldn’t do anything about the car or my bedroom door.
“What the hell is going on?” Mom exclaimed when she saw the mess.
“It’s not what it looks like,” I said. Just a werewolf rampage.
“Explain yourself now, young lady,” Mom said.
Dad was staring at my door in shock.
“There was a little accident with the car. I…hit a pole. But I’m not hurt.”
Mom’s face went white, “Oh my God. How big was the pole? The car is a mess.”
“Where is your dresser?” Dad asked.
“Someone broke into the house,” I said. “I came home and found it this way. I cleaned up the dresser, but…”
“We’ve been robbed,” Mom cried, running for the phone.
“Mom, calm down. I don’t think anything was taken.”
“I knew we shouldn’t have gone away overnight, John. What if she had been here when this happened?”
My protests fell on deaf ears as Mom called the police to report the robbery. They sent someone over to dust for prints and take pictures. Once I had given my statement, they left and then it was Mom and Dad’s turn to grill me. I answered their questions as best I could, lying for most of it.
When I was done, I retreated to my room, although I no longer had any privacy since I lacked a door. I was more worried about school on Monday. Having to face Jax, assuming he showed up. He must have been able to heal and go home.
Just before dinner, Mom and Dad left to grab some food. Mom insisted that I lock all the doors behind them and not answer the door to anyone.
I was in my room when I heard a metallic clang from the living room. Hurrying in, I found a dark haired woman coming through the French doors. She was short, wearing a denim jacket over cargo pants.
“Who are you? How did you get in here?” I cried.
The woman turned and I froze. I recognized her. It was Jax’s mother. Did he tell her what happened?
She walked toward me slowly, her dark eyes sizing me up. She sniffed the air, a dark look crossing her face.
“You’re her,” she said.
“Look I don’t know what Jax told you, but…”
“Jax didn’t tell me anything. I followed your scent and here you are.”
I backed away, looking for an escape route. “I don’t know anything, I promise, I…”
She grabbed me round the throat, slamming me into the wall.
“Please,” I choked, “Jax said…”
“My son is dead. I found him this morning in his bedroom. You caused his death.”
“It was an accident,” I said.
She leaned in close, her hot breath on my cheek, “Well that’s not what they are going to say when they find you.”
“No,” I cried. She punched her fist through my chest, hand closing around my heart. She ripped it free and I was gone.
Jenna Deluise lives in a broken world. The dead walked, millions died. Here's what happened After.
I AM AN AUTHOR, BLOGGER AND A JOURNALIST.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”