This is the rest of the story. Click here for the beginning
Weirdly Normal – Were-Envy (continued)
“Oh come on! You can tell us! Or give us a clue at least!”
The others all voiced their enthusiasm for that idea, and Pete found himself reluctantly agreeing to giving out hints.
“Alright,” he said. “Well… I have two very large teeth. And… and I can leap a long way.”
Dammit, what was he doing playing this game? Why hadn’t he just told them and got it over with?
“Holy moly!” Shouted the were-gorilla. “You’re a were-tiger, aren’t you? I’ve heard of you guys but I’ve never actually met one!”
Pete opened his mouth to deny it, but the shouts of surprise and approval from those around him made the words stick in his throat. Then the moment had passed. They were all telling him how honoured they were to have such a rare fellow in their group, and all he could do was smile sickly and nod along.
* * *
An hour had passed and many beers had been drunk, by everyone except Pete. He was still nursing his first, struggling to find answers to the questions those around him were asking about life as a were-tiger.
And planning. Planning like mad. Planning on getting out as soon as he could, and when he got out on leaving. Leaving the area. Leaving his new job. Leaving his new life. Leaving everything!
He had to make sure he never saw these people again. Maybe he’d move across the country. Maybe he’d move to a new country, or even a new continent. Whatever it took to ensure he never ran into any of those in the room with him again, and ensure they never found out what were-creature he really was.
He would have left already, but he knew better than to upset a were-bear. So he waited as the seconds ticked slowly down, trying to judge how soon he could leave without arousing suspicion or anger.
He was jolted from his thoughts by the fire exit doors suddenly opening. The others in the room were too busy drinking and yelling at each other to notice, but Pete frowned when nobody came in.
Then, a few seconds later, something came in. A canister, maybe twice the size of Pete’s hand, rolled its way across the floor and came to a halt near the middle of the room. Two others turned and looked at it, barking questions to each other, but before anyone else could take a look at it, vents suddenly opened along the side of the cannister and clouds of billowing, choking, gas flew out.
Primal instincts kicked in. Pete tried to run, but he’d already breathed in some of the gas. He made it just a few steps before the room spun around him and he tumbled forwards into darkness.
* * *
Pete blinked his way to consciousness, groaning at the hammering in his head. He went to sit up but the room spun around him and he fell back again.
A large hand settled onto his shoulder.
“Easy,” said Bob quietly. “Take it easy. I think you ended up taking on more of that gas than the rest of us. You’re the last to wake up.”
Pete eased himself up slowly, looking around. The lighting was dim, coming from an electric lantern. But it was enough to tell that he was in a rough hewn room cut out of rock. He turned his head and realised he was in a cage. All of them were. He quickly counted and sure enough there were eight others and himself.
Two were in their were-forms, one of the werewolves and the were-gorilla. Both were straining at the bars of the cage. It was clear to Pete that they’d have no luck. The bars were fully an inch across, even together the two were animals wouldn’t have the strength to bend something that thick.
Besides, bars ran vertically and horizontally and were welded to each other wherever they crossed. To be able to escape several bars would have to be bent out of the way to the sides, and then the same done for several of the horizontal bars. And that was just to create a small space to try and worm out of.
“Well looky, looky what we have here!” came a voice. “It looks like the last of you sleeping beauties has woken up!”
Pete looked up and saw a man dressed in army fatigues with a pistol and a long knife strapped to his waist. He stood on the far side of the bars, well back from them, grinning widely.
“Well isn’t that just dandy!” continued the man. “We didn’t want to start and have one of you miss the fun. But don’t worry, you won’t be stuck in that cage for long. Pretty soon you’ll all be out… and dead!”
He laughed at that, A strange laugh that cut off almost as abruptly as it started.
“Nothing to say?” he asked. “Well, that doesn’t matter. You’ll all squeal soon enough, and then the world will be rid of nine more monstrosities. That is unless you can get this!”
He held up a large metal key, walked to the back wall of the room, then hung it on a huge nail. It was at least ten yards away from the bars of the cage, far further than anyone could possibly reach. At that distance there wasn’t even any chance of hooking it off, not that they had anything to do that with anyway.
The man chuckled to himself again as he climbed the steps that led out of the room and disappeared from sight.
“I’m sorry Pete,” said Bob. “I wish you hadn’t come to today’s meeting. Hell, if I’d known those fruitcakes were around I’d have made sure none of us came. But we all did, and I’m afraid I think we are all going to die.
“Die?” said Pete. “But surely… can’t we…”
Bob shook his head. “We’ve all tried to get out. Tried as hard as we can. But those bars are way too strong for us. Whoever these nutcases are they knew what they were doing there.
“If we could get out of the cage then we’d have a chance of surprising them and fighting on our terms, but I’ve got no doubt they’ll return with enough silver weaponry that none of us can even get out of the cage before being struck down. There’s nothing we can do.”
Bob stared at the key morosely.
“I can do something,” said Pete. “At least I can if I transform.”
“I know were-tigers are strong,” said Bob. “But you’re not that strong. If anything Davies, the were-gorilla, is stronger and he couldn’t shift the bars at all.”
“I’m not… I’m… dammit. I’m sorry! I’m not a were-tiger. You all assumed I was, and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell you what I actually am. It’s too embarrassing.”
“Embarrassing? Why embarrassing?”
“Because I’m… I turn into… dammit! I’ll show you. And I’ll do something about this cage too.”
Pete took a deep breath, steadied himself, then concentrated on the change. He felt his body twisting, morphing, changing. Then everything went dark. It often did when he changed.
“Where’d he go?” asked one of the werewolves. “He just vanished!”
“No!” came Bob’s voice. “There’s something moving in the pile of his clothes.”
Pete’s stomach squirmed. He wanted to stay hiding, but there was no time to waste. He scrabbled around until he saw a glint of light, shoved his way toward it, and finally emerged from one leg of his trousers.
“It’s… it’s a rabbit!” shouted someone in surprise.
He couldn’t tell who, because he was refusing to meet anyone’s eyes.
“It’s a cute little bunny!” shouted someone else, who then started laughing loudly.
The laugh was cut off abruptly, replaced for a moment by a heavy, meaty sound.
“So what if he is?” shouted Bob. “So what? We welcome all were-creatures. No matter what. Besides, if you’d use your brain instead of your mouth you’d have realised this is exactly what we need.”
“What do you mean?” asked the werewolf who’d been laughing, his voice now strained.
“Just watch! Go on Pete, do your thing.”
Bob actually sounded encouraging, so Pete lifted his head a little, and hopped to the latticework of bars… then simply hopped through a gap between them. It was easy. Whoever had designed the cage had clearly never had ‘containing rabbits’ anywhere in the requirements.
As soon as he was through he changed back to his human form. He was naked, completely naked, and he recoiled for a moment before noticing the others were paying his nudity no attention at all.
He realised this was the one group of people who would truly understand that feeling of literally having nothing to wear, having left human clothes the other side of a transformation. And at least he didn’t have to worry about ripping his clothes when he changed. Just finding his way back to them.
Pete walked over to the hook, grabbed the key… and immediately dropped it.
“Ow!” He shouted. “The damn thing is made of silver!”
He looked around and saw a large scrap of material on the floor. He picked it up and used it to pick the key off the floor. Then he walked back to the cage and put the key in the lock. He started to worry it would be a fake. Why leave the real thing on show and at risk?
He was very aware of his fellow captives in the cell vibrating with excitement at the chance to get out and even the score. Even as he turned the key in the lock he could hear booted feet in the room above. Lots of booted feet… but to his surprise the key turned easily and the door swung open.
“Well done!” said Bob, smacking a heavy hand down on Pete’s shoulder. “Things will get quite nasty now, though. You might want to let the rest of us deal with the bastards upstairs.”
“Are you kidding?” said Pete. “I might be small in my were-form, but I’m still strong. Remember… I can leap high and I have sharp teeth. Trust me, I’m more than a match for whoever is up there.
“Then let’s do this!”
All the others moved out of the cell, transforming as they came. Pete moved toward the steps, transforming himself as he went.
The first of the were-hunters stopped halfway down the Stairs, eyes wide in shock he struggled to take in what he was seeing. He focused on the escaped were-beasts before him, never even noticing the were-rabbit on the floor.
He sure as hell noticed Pete a moment later. Pete’s leap brought him far enough up the stairs to bite down hard right where the man’s legs met. The man screamed and collapsed to the floor, his entire universe focused on his own personal agony as razor sharp rabbit teeth were driven home with were-strength.
The rest of the were-beasts streamed past, charging up to the room above, taking with them all their anger at having been captured and threatened with death.
Pete temporarily released his hold on the man, then went for the jugular. He wasn’t normally a violent man, or rabbit, but these people had threatened to kill him and his new friends. No doubt they had killed before, and would kill again if they were left alive. Pete dispatched his victim, then followed his new friends up the stairs.
This time he smiled, as much as he was able to in his rabbit form. He realised he was following friends and, despite all that had happened, he felt he’d found somewhere he could belong. After all, friends that savaged enemies together, stayed together!