Samantha Welles had her offices in a midrise off Central Avenue, in the isolated corridor of development that was midtown Phoenix.
I don’t normally use public transit – large crowds made my wolf nervous, and being trapped in an enclosed space with a large crowd was even worse – but there weren’t likely to be many commuters on a Saturday, and I needed to stretch my legs. It had been a stressful week, and the wolf was already starting to get restless. The walk to and from the light rail stations would give me a chance to release some of that pent-up energy.
The unusually long winter had finally given up the ghost earlier in the week, and the temperature had risen into the 80s. Perfect weather for being outdoors. With any luck, it would last a few more months before summer came around with a vengeance.
“Where’s Wolf? FBI Spying on Lycanthropes” read the headline of the paper that sat on the table between Rico and I. Somebody in copy editing was probably pretty pleased with themselves, but seeing my name attached to the byline beneath it made me wince.
Rico studied the page as he sipped his coffee. “Man, no wonder you’re always so worried. Turns out somebody was watching you.”
I hadn’t had time that week to meet with Rico for lunch, but now, more than I ever, I needed his advice. So the two of us were meeting for a quick breakfast at the coffee shop on the ground floor of the Wexler Building. Although technically, it was already my second meal of the day.
Who needs Atkins when you have lycanthropy?
It was close to lunch time on Monday when Jonathan finally called me back, the unmistakable opening riff of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” signaling his call. I picked up immediately, glad to have the temporary distraction. Kurt had put me on local culture news that day, and I was already sick of reading press releases about the state ostrich festival later in the week.
“Find anything?” I asked eagerly.
“And hello to you too,” he said. “I’m fine, by the way, thanks for asking.”
I sighed. “Jon, don’t be petulant. You aren’t as good at it as I am.”
I woke up to find myself lying on the ground, naked, with blood on my face.
So, pretty much a regular Sunday morning.
It was still dark out, and I briefly considered going back to sleep. The den was cozy, warmed as it was by the body heat of two dozen lycanthropes, and I was exhausted. More than that, I ached. The shift from wolf to human had happened while I was asleep, but that didn’t make it any less painful.
As I stared through half-closed eyes into the predawn gloom, I felt my wolf stirring at the edge of my mind. The inexorable pressure she had exerted the night before was gone, but she was still far from silent. It didn’t take long for her to start nagging and prodding. Couldn’t sleep in, that would be a sign of weakness.
I hated the posturing. Hated having to act like a wolf, even as a human. But I had fought hard for my spot near the top of the pack’s pecking order, and I was loathe to give it up so easily.
Insomnia is extremely common among werewolves.
The reason is incredibly obvious to any lycanthrope, and surprisingly unintuitive to most other people: being a werewolf is extremely stressful. Lupine instincts aren’t well adapted to human society, and participating in civilization is a constant struggle to keep the wolf in check, to present a pleasant face, and to not give in to the urge to snarl at jostlers on the bus. Every moment of every day is a battle to be human.
For most of us, it’s a losing battle, or at best a stalemate. The wolf wants, more than almost anything, to be free, and it will push and prod until it gets its way.