There had to be some point where fiction remained fiction, and I was determined that it ended immediately after vampires.
“No, no, no.” I shook my head. “Jack told me there weren’t any werewolves. There’s no such thing.”
“No, there’s not,” Ezra agreed. “Shape shifting of any kind is an impossibility. Or at least as far as I know.”
“So…” My heart slowed a little, but he was still holding something back. “Why even bring them up?”“You’ve heard the stories about them, though, haven’t you?” His deep brown eyes looked at me intently.
“Yeah,” I answered uncertainly.
My knowledge of werewolves was very limited, and mostly based on Michael J. Fox’s portrayal in Teen Wolf. I had never thought the film was very factual, because I couldn’t imagine how surfing on a van could be possible, werewolf or not. The only thing I carried from it was that wolves were good basketball. This information did not seem pertinent to the situation.
“How the full moon makes them come out, and they attack without reproach?” Ezra went on. “They turn into vicious animals, unfettered by remorse or logic.”
“Okay, sure,” I nodded, hoping he would just hurry and make his point.
“Do you remember when I told you about the vampires I had encountered when I first turned?” He grew more solemn. “They were … rabid animals.”
“You’re not… they’re not…” I faltered. “What are you saying exactly?”
“Sometimes, some vampires, either by choice or just by design, don’t ever fully civilize,” he explained carefully. “The ones that are entirely primeval are killed quickly. Even vampires can’t stomach rampant monsters. But some willfully seek out a different life, one separate from people and humanity.
“We believe the early stories of werewolves are based on vampires living like this.” He took a deep breath and looked out at the night sky. “In small packs they hunt together, living more like animals than people. By necessity, they can’t kill most of their food, but they want to hunt and kill. They hunt big game, like bears and elk, even wolves. Not for food, but for sport.”
“People do that too,” I interjected, but I’m not sure what point I was making with that.
“We call them lycans. It’s short for lycanthrope, which just means werewolf. It’s a little inside joke for vampires.” Ezra smiled at me with that, but I didn’t really think it was funny. “Lycan, I think, just means wolf in Greek.”
“This was a round about way of giving me a lesson in Greek?” I asked dryly.
“There’s a pack of lycan that live in the Finnish Lapland,” he ignored me. “I’ve come across them before, but it’s an ever changing group, with only the leader remaining. He’s a sadist, and the life expectancy for his pack isn’t anywhere near what it is for the average vampire, or even for other lycans. They’re known for their brutality, and they’ve killed people and vampires indiscriminately.”
I swallowed hard and focused on the bright lights flashing outside of the window. By now, I figured out how this story ended up with us here, waiting for a plane to take us to the lycan. Our destination was very much connected with theirs.
“Last week, Peter killed a member of their pack. They want revenge, and they won’t stop until they get him. And, Peter, in his current state, seems happy to offer himself up,” Ezra said quietly. “We have to find him before they do.”
I could barely control my own bloodlust, but we were going out to the wilderness to track down a pack of crazed werewolves-cum-vampires so we could save a vampire that tried to kill me before. It all made perfect sense.
“Alice?” Ezra asked when I just kept staring out the window. “Do you have any questions?”
“Nope.” I shook my head. “But Jack’s gonna be so pissed when he finds out what we’re doing.”
- 5 -
The hotel was a cross between a Holiday Inn and a hunting lodge, with fireplaces and antlers hanging on the wall, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the set up. After another flight, followed by a short drive in a rental car and a brief stop at a local blood bank to stock up, and we checked into the hotel.
Our room had hardwood floors, and it had that same nice, generic look any other hotel would have. They had internet access and a television. Based on the amount of cars in the parking lot, it was relatively busy.
Ezra busied himself with unpacking, while I had just dropped my luggage on one of the beds. I claimed the double bed closer to the window.
“I’m going to take a shower,” Ezra said and gathered up his change of clothes and toiletries. “Then we’ll get some rest and have a go at finding Peter tomorrow.”
“Do we really have time to waste?” I tried to ask without accusation. We left in such a hurry, and I wasn’t sure how imminent the danger was.
“We have to rest, or I’ll be of no use to Peter.” He shrugged, as if he couldn’t see any way around it.
Once he’d gone in the bathroom and I heard the shower running, I changed into my pajamas. They felt tremendous after spending the past twenty hours or so stuck in jeans and a sweater.
I had gotten sleep on the plane ride over the ocean, and with the time difference, I’d just be getting up in Minneapolis. Plus, Ezra had amped me up when he dropped the news that we were really chasing after werewolfian vampires, so I didn’t feel like sleeping.
I pulled out my cell phone, and I was surprised to find that I had a signal (subconsciously I guess I had been thinking that Finland was in the stone ages).
Crossing my fingers, I sat down on the bed and hoped Jack’d be awake. This had been the longest we’d gone without talking to each other since I’d turned, and it felt very strange. Like the chemicals in my body were off-balance without him.
“Hello?” Jack sounded frantic when he answered the phone. “Alice? Are you okay? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Irrational tears welled up in my eyes. It was stupid how much I missed him. “We just got to the hotel. I was calling to let you know that we got in alright.”
“Good. Good.” He was genuinely relieved but didn’t relax. “How was your flight?”
“I slept through most of it,” I said. “This is my first time being out of the Midwest, though, and it sucks. I was in New York City, and I didn’t see any of it. I barely got a glimpse of Helsinki when we were coming in.”