Fiction Friday: Rites of Renown: When Will You Rage II

Werewolf: The Apocalypse

Rites of Renown: When Will You Rage II

This week we take a look at The Lost, a story by Mike Lee, from W20’s Rites of Renown: When Will You Rage II.

Nick didn’t hear the car until it was almost on top of him. It had been raining most of the day, and he was tired, tired and soaked to the bone. The wooded hills and the curving, country road muf?ed the sound of the engine and the hiss of tires on wet asphalt until the car was coming around the bend to Nick’s right, and there was no time to hide. He’d just started back across the grassy feld, towards the shelter of the tree line some ten yards away; too far from the shoulder to be a hitchhiker, but too close to the road to escape being seen.

A cold spike of adrenaline shot through his veins. For a split second he froze, his gaze darting about the feld for some place to hide. Don’t let it be a cop, he thought, his heart in his throat. Please, God, don’t let it be a cop.

The hissing of the car’s tires swelled over the background whisper of the rain. Run, his instincts said. Hide. But the rational part of his mind knew that was the worst thing he could do. Instead, he hitched the straps of his backpack a little higher on his shoulders and walked on through the grass, as though he had every right to be out hiking in the middle of the country on a miserable April day.

All at once, he felt the dull, familiar ache start in his bones. His gums tingled painfully. Nick clenched his fsts and kept walking, fghting the change, concentrating on the sound of the car at his back.

And then it was fading – not slowing, but disappearing up the road to Nick’s left. He let out a shaky breath and glanced over his shoulder to see a rusty old Buickreceding into the distance, its outlines already blurring in the misty air.

His palms stung. Nick slowly unclenched his fists, revealing four small punctures in each hand. His fingernails, smooth and rounded once more, each bore a small, bright dot of blood. Grimacing, he wiped his fingers against his soaked jeans, then turned his face up to the sky and focused on the drops of cold water splashing against his cheeks. His heartbeat slowed, and the bone-deep ache receded. As soon as he felt normal again he wiped his eyes and jogged back into the trees.

Amélie and Sara were waiting where he’d left them, huddled together in a shallow depression just a few yards inside the tree line. They had pulled off their sodden packs and were sitting on them, facing one another, bent low so that their heads were nearly touching. Amélie had pulled off her work gloves and was braiding Sara’s auburn hair to pass the time. They froze at the sound of his footsteps, searching for him through the dripping foliage with narrowed, predatory eyes.

Sara caught sight of him first. At fourteen, she had the keenest senses of the three of them, no matter what shape she wore. Her face was pale and freckled beneath the ragged trucker’s cap she wore, with a pixie nose and a small, pointed chin. She had eyes like polished emeralds, luminous and fever-bright.

“You were gone a long time,” she said worriedly. The stained Army surplus coat she wore was two sizes too large, its sleeves rolled back into thick cuffs and its torn hem hanging down past her knees.

“There was a car,” Nick replied. “I was off the road, though. I don’t think they even saw me.”

Amélie did not seem reassured. She went back to work on Sara’s braid, finishing it quickly and wrapping an elastic tie around the end. Her thick mane of dark, curly hair was tied back with a black do-rag, letting the rain fall unhindered on her forehead and full, round cheeks. She had mocha-colored skin and huge, brown eyes, and at nineteen was the oldest of the three. “Do we know where we are?” she asked.

Nick glanced back the way he’d come. “The sign along the road said we’re fifteen miles from Pineville, so I guess we’ve made it to Kentucky.”

Sara wrapped her arms around her narrow chest and hunched her shoulders against the constant, dripping rain. “Can we stop now?” she asked, her voice muf?ed by the folds of her coat. “You said we could rest when we got to Kentucky.”

Amélie and Nick exchanged looks. “I know. But let’s see if we can get a little bit further,” she said. “Just until we find someplace to get out of the rain, okay?”

“I’m tired,” Sara replied. “My feet are killing me.”

Nick sighed. “You could change, if you want. Then you wouldn’t feel tired. I could carry your pack for you.”

“No,” she said, staring glumly into the trees. “It’s lonely being the only wolf. I mean, I know you and Amélie would be close by, but – ”

“It’s okay,” Nick said. “I know what you mean.”

Amélie bent and picked up her pack, then grabbed Sara’s as well. “Not much farther, okay?” she said. “We’ll stop as soon as we find someplace safe.”

Sara’s gaze fell to her grass-stained sneakers. After a moment, she nodded reluctantly and pushed herself to her feet. Nick was already moving, thumbs tucked into the straps of his backpack, his expression hidden.

Amélie had been saying more or less the same thing since Nashville, and they hadn’t stopped running yet.

What are these young Garou running from? What are they heading toward? Find out in Rites of Renown: When Will You Rage II, available now from DriveThruFiction in ebook and print.