Joyce crept forward while Ian, her Creation, lay in wait. They were too close to the human settlement, but she didn’t have a choice; the prey will go where it wants and they must follow. Though their heightened sense of hearing, smell, and sound made the hunt easier, they had to bring the beast down with a knife alone.

She kept her eyes on the deer as she moved silently through the undergrowth. A slight brush of wind stirred her pelt and Joyce froze as the elegant beast’s nostrils flared. She held her breath and waited until the deer lowered her head again.

That was far too close, Joyce thought as she slowly let out her held breath. After several dozen heartbeats Joyce continued on her path until she was directly across from Ian.

This hunt would determine his future. If he could fell this deer, the honour and privileges of becoming a Clan Protector would be bestowed upon him. In his human life, Ian had been a police officer, and all he had wanted since his turning was to inhabit a similar role as an Architect of Lore.

Though I doubt he will be as satisfied with the role of Protector as he believes. The Clans were slow to change and adapt, but he believed the world would bend and change to his will as all young do.

But it is what he wants, and it is my duty to help him achieve it. Joyce slipped the wolf pelt from her bag and pulled it over her crouched form. She saw the deer twitch at the new, dangerous scent. Her nose flared and the whites of her eyes showed in the dark as she sprang away from Joyce.

Ian rose from the ground like a shadow and fell upon the deer; its pitiful scream silenced forever. With her sensitive ears, the cry sounded like a blaring siren. Joyce glanced around nervously, far too aware how close they were to the humans.

Ian stood with a triumphant grin, far too overwhelmed by his success to be aware of the lurking dangers. Foolishly, he laid his head back and whooped in celebration. Joyce covered the distance and clamped her hand over his mouth.

“Idiot, the humans will hear you!”

“Let them hear me. What can they do?”

Joyce shook her head and looked around nervously. “You have no idea what you are saying. They are numerous, we are few. We survive only by containing ourselves to their horror stories.”

A chill ran down her spine as she heard the door of one of the cabins creak open and smelled gunpowder. She looked at the silhouette of a man backlit in the doorway nearest her. She froze, but her attempt to remain hidden was foiled as the cloud cover gave way and the moon shone brilliantly down upon them.


“But the deer.”

“You will be joining it in death if you don’t run now!” She pushed Ian into motion just as the human’s eyes found her. The crack of the gunshot confirmed his awareness.


“I swear, John. As sure as I’m standing here, I saw a skinwalker. I heard this horrible cry of a deer being taken down. It was unnatural-like.” Steven wiped his sweaty brow as he told his story to Kevin, the convenience store owner.

“Unnatural?” Kevin asked as he rang up the items on the counter.

“I can’t explain it, it was just horrible, like the beast had seen the devil himself. Then the skinwalker howled at the moon.”

“It howled at the moon? Steven it was overcast last night, how could it howl at the moon?”

“No! You don’t understand.” He thumped his sweaty rag on the counter for emphasis. “The moon came out like some sort of movie and shone down on them skinwalkers!”

“Convenient.” Kevin shared a mocking glance with Joyce as she entered the store.

“It happened, Kevin! I found the corpse this morning. The deer was savaged like nothing I ever saw before.”

“What’s going on?” Joyce asked as she slipped behind the bakery counter.

“Steven here thinks he saw a skinwalker.”

“A what?” Joyce feigned ignorance.

“You know, one of them creatures that can turn into a wolf and eat the flesh and blood of people.”

“Sounds like a werewolf.” Joyce interjected into Kevin’s explanation.

“A little like that, but they say that they can look like your loved ones too. Oh yeah, and their eyes glow.”

“They’re witches,” Steven whispered as he looked around. “Witches that have done something heinous to gain their powers. They wear the pelts of animals and can turn into them at will.”

“Do they, now?” Joyce added a twinkle to her eyes though his words were far too close to the truth. They weren’t witches, but they did consume the blood of people.

It might be time to move again, Joyce thought as she placed the tray full of cookies into the oven.

“Ah, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Kevin told her.

“I saw it, damn it! They looked like wolves, but as soon as they saw me they stood up on their hind legs and took off into the woods.”

“And did their eyes glow?” Joyce asked, grateful, yet again, that their people had sowed misinformation into every legend.

“Well, no,” he answered sourly.

“Well they can’t possibly be your skinwalkers then, can they?”

“You can mock if you want, but they’ll be coming for us next! They’ll hunt us and eat us, but not if we get them first!” Steven declared as he gathered up the ammo, beef jerky, and coffee that Kevin and rung up.

“Wow,” Kevin declared when the door slammed shut. “Some people.”

“Yeah, some people.” Joyce laughed nervously.

It only takes one vocal person. She had seen it before, and she knew the story well.

“You know, Kevin, I’m actually not feeling well. Do you mind if I go home and lay down for a bit?”

“Sure, sure. Take the weekend off, Joyce. Hope you get to feeling well soon.”

“Thanks.” She spared him a weak smile before fleeing from the little store she had worked in for the past five years.


“Pack your things, Ian. We’re leaving.”

“What? Why?” He looked up from his favourite detective novel.

“They saw us, and they are going to hunt us.”

“I can take care of us.”

“You are young. You don’t know what they are capable of!” She felt the veins on her neck standing out, and the wild urge to force him to the car at dagger point. Every sound around her made her jump, and her senses were so heightened she could hear conversations two houses down.

“Fine where are we going?”

“To the Capital. You must register as a Protector. And from there who knows.” She spared one last look at the place they had called home for the last five years and felt no regrets. One day she hoped she would find a home she would be loathed to leave.

I’m so tired of running. She closed the door and left the keys in the lock.


Anita C. Young is a Medical Laboratory Scientist who spends her free time thinking of ways to explain the supernatural and unexplained through science. Her latest book is the second book in the Kayara Ingham trilogy The Will of Tyr. She loves to occupy her free time with reading, writing, drawing, and spending time with her animals (two cats and two dogs).

1 Trackback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.