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Selena - Lycanthrope

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									                 LYCANTHROPE: AWAKENING
                                              “Selena”
                            based on Lycanthrope, by Jonathan Coolidge
                    and Genetic Wars, by Jonathan Coolidge and Thomas R. Weigel
                   Selena Hawthorne based on a character concept by Heather Varley

        Selena Hawthorne watched as Scott Gardener sat by himself in the school library, sorting
through an assortment of notes on MS-DOS programming. She had seen him there several times before
but was hesitant to approach him. He intimidated her. At first glance he seemed innocent and naïve,
perhaps in a nerdy kind of way. But, Selena knew there was more to him, or at least, at some point in
the future there would be.
        None-the-less, she hated to see him there by himself, alone in some other world. He was too
much like how Selena herself had been, and the others who preceded her. She leaned over his shoulder,
inspecting his handwritten custom autoexec.bat routine, before Scott turned around to look at her.
        Selena stared back for several seconds before finally saying, “If we have to be alone, could we
be alone together?”
        “Perhaps,” he answered back, “but, as you know, I’m not into boyfriends and girlfriends.”
Selena’s face flushed.
        He had a reputation as an eccentric. He had no interest in the usual high school popularity
contests, and that gave him the unwanted status of being very popular—unwanted, because it meant
being teased frequently by those jealous of his accidental esteem. He was an academic and an introvert,
but Selena knew the era of the geek was close at hand; already another similar intellectual, the one who
published MS-DOS, had already become the richest man in the world, and his empire had yet to reach
its peak. She did come prepared, however, and had with her the perfect tool for breaking the ice. She
opened up her backpack and pulled out her slightly worn copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
second edition Player’s Handbook. Scott’s eyes immediately lit up.
        “You play AD&D?” Scott asked.
        “If I can find someone who actually wants to role-play and not hack-and-slash. That’s what all
the guys do; there just aren’t enough women into role-playing gaming.”
        “It is a bit of a self-perpetuating problem,” Scott answered back. “Women aren’t interested
because it seems to focus too much on video game-like combat algorithms, but we’re having a hard time
getting out of those algorithms when most of the players are testosterone-driven males.” Selena smiled
slightly, realizing that Scott’s opening up intellectually was a good sign. “A friend of mine, Tim
Franklin, and I have talked about putting together a more serious gaming group. I’m sure he wouldn’t
mind if I invited you.” She found herself becoming ecstatic with this invitation. “We were just talking
about this very thing.”
        “That happens a lot around me,” Selena answered.

        An explosion flared outside the tavern. A peasant woman ran in, smoke emanating from her
clothing as she shouted, “the necromancer Voldarath has arrived!” The bartender reached over his stock
of drinks for his ornately displayed, brass-handled bastard sword. While most of the patrons ducked for
cover, two people stood up and made their way to the entrance. The first, a golden elvish priestess
wearing a long, flowing blue cloak, addressed the frightened messenger.
        “Are you wounded?”
        “No,” the peasant lady answered, watching as the priestess’ companion, a dark-haired ranger
made his way to the doorway, holding up his wooden shield, bearing the sacred emblem of the Elder
Wolf. “But, if he’s going out there, surely he will be!”
        “This is not the first time Lukrin and I dealt with Voldarath. But, to threaten your village this
way, he has gone too far. Today we shall make our stand.”
        Tim then stood up from his cardboard screen of rules and tables. Even as Scott fidgeted with an
icosohedral die, ready to roll for initiative, Tim announced, “time for a break.” Tim’s four o’clock
shadow accented his rounded face as he stood up to stretch.
        “Always leaving us in suspense,” Selena answered.
        “That was hardly a psychic premonition,” Scott answered back, setting his d12 next to the rest of
the dice on the table, which he had carefully arranged into organized groupings, first by number of sides
and then by color. “Though I still want to know how you knew which classes I’d enroll in.”
        Tim rolled his eyes. “Please, Scott. Someone like you obviously would start out the first year of
college with Bio 131 and Chemistry 133. The only reason you’re not taking Organic Chemistry first is
that General is a prerequisite.”
        “Yes, that was an easy prediction,” Scott answered back, marking a few notes on Lukrin’s
character sheet. “But, Selena knew I was taking Dr. Gibson’s nine-am, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and
Chemistry at ten, and both Tuesday and Wednesday labs! The only thing she got wrong was my taking
Arscot’s Art Appreciation class.”
        “I thought it was going to be in the auditorium, but he’s taking it in the art building,” Selena
explained. “But, I got the right day.”
        “OK,” Tim answered. “I’m going to roll a d20. What number?”
        “Thirteen,” Selena answered back.
        Tim tossed the die across the table. It bounced several times, and then rolled, stopping near the
edge of the table, displaying “8” dutifully. “So much for that. It’s got to be a coincidence.”
        “OK, so it’s not perfect,” Scott answered back. “But, how many saving throws did Selena’s
character ever fail?”
        “You’ve got a point there,” Tim answered back. As he sat back down, he bumped the table,
causing Scott’s careful dice arrangement to jumble. As Tim’s test die rolled off onto the floor, he
reached down to get it. “Holy fuck!” Tim pointed at the floor, towards his die, displaying “13”
defiantly against probability. Selena simply grinned.

        “Of course they moved it,” Scott explained to an inquisitive lady, as they made their way through
the S.F.A. Steen Library, sharing a lunch break. “To the auditorium.” She had an exotic, Ethiopian
body frame, with her hair pulled into a bun, and dark eyes, with irises that were almost as black as her
pupils. Scott looked over her shoulder with disbelief as he saw Selena entering. “Speak of the devil;
there she is now.”
        “Hi, Scott,” Selena introduced himself. Scott almost expected to see some hint of jealousy from
her, even though his conversation with the other lady was perfectly casual and innocent. However,
Selena’s expression was more of surprise than hostility. She looked at the other lady closely, eyeing her
almost nervously, slapping her own cheek slightly and mumbling to herself, “oh, Heck.” Selena still had
her shy side, however, and Scott assumed that such was the reason for her strange, uneasy expressions.
        “Don’t worry, Selena. I’m not running off with her. She was just looking at some drawings I
had done.” Scott explained. He then turned to her. “I’m terrible with faces and names. What did you
say your name was again?”
        “I’m Yolanda Taylor, but I go by Elodea.” She glanced briefly over at Selena, who momentarily
flushed pale. She turned back towards Scott, who briefly thought her eyes appeared amber yellow.
However, as he looked again, he saw that they were the dark brown he had remembered first. Scott
looked back at Selena once more, who seemed preoccupied, patting her own face.
        “Having another premonition?” Scott asked.
        “I’ll have to tell you later.” She dropped her backpack and glanced at Elodea before looking
back at Scott. “You asked me to come up with a character idea for you, for the game world I’m working
on, and I came up with this one.” She glanced reluctantly back towards Elodea. “What if you played a
werewolf?”
        Elodea’s ears seemed to twitch. She looked at Selena and expressed a large smile. “A
werewolf? I like that.” She turned towards Scott, tilting her head down. “What would you think about
playing a werewolf?”
        “I don’t know,” Scott answered. “For one thing, they’re chaotic evil.”
        “Really.” Elodea beckoned, rolling her hand suggestively. “Suppose, then, you could become
something else?” She flared her nostrils slightly, pacing around Scott. “Suppose you could become
something other than human, with special powers, but without the chaotic evil part. Then what?”
        “It depends,” Scott answered back. Selena seemed uneasy, but at the same time, she was clearly
enjoying the woman’s inquiry.
        She poked Scott’s chest. “Would you take it?”
        Scott backed away from her, unprepared for her strange body language. “Well, a lot of things
would certainly be more interesting than just being human.”
        “Careful how you answer, Scott,” Selena added. “I’ve got a really funny feeling.” Her eyes
widened, and her shift from shy to assertive tones indeed suggested a premonition. “Don’t say ‘yes’
unless you really mean it!” However, Scott wondered why she was so concerned; the conversation was
interesting, but he was not personally interested in this eccentric woman.
        Elodea looked back at Selena, directing her attention towards Scott’s friend. She leaned over
and sniffed her neck.
        “Yes,” Scott answered. “I would. I’m tired of living in a mundane world. I’m sick of the most
interesting thing about my life being my argument with my father or an application to medical school.
I’m tired of a world without magic.”
        Elodea looked at Selena, who smiled nervously. “Without magic?” She asked Scott. She then
focused her attention on Selena again. “I thought you said she was psychic.”
        “It’s not the same,” Scott answered back. “She can occasionally predict things, but not always. I
want to see something unequivocally beyond the mundane.”
        “Now you’ve done it,” Elodea answered back. “I’ve got a class to catch, but we must meet again
some time. And Selena, we must do lunch some time.” With that, she turned and left.
        Scott turned Selena. “That was weird.” Selena was in the process of biting her lips, when she
jumped forward and kissed Scott.
        “I’m doing this while I can, but I still fear you’re meant for someone else.”
        Scott glanced one last time at Elodea, who had already left the library and was on her way
around the corner, towards the psychology department. “With my luck, it’s probably that weird lady.”

        “This is not right,” Selena said, pulling away from Scott’s kiss. “I shouldn’t be doing this; you
were meant for someone else.” The two sat at the local coffee shop, sharing a wedge of cheesecake but
drinking separate cappuccinos.
        “I won’t ask whether or not you are sure of this,” Scott answered back. “Your precognition is
very uncanny.” He looked back at her with visible longing, however—an expression of loneliness.
“But, what about free will? Can we not change the future?”
        “We could,” Selena replied. “But, it’s fine the way it is. I don’t want to change it. I just want to
watch it happen.” She had to be careful; in opening up to Scott, she was talking from her heart. She had
to be sure not to disclose the rest, of what she was or from whence she came.
        “As long as you’re here,” Scott said, gripping her hand, “you’re a part of the future. You have
the power to make it into whatever you want. Your precognition gives you a tremendous advantage.
Why not use it?” He added, “together we could rule the world.” It was difficult knowing whether or not
Scott was joking; his dry wit blended seamlessly with his serious intellectual manners.
        “I think world domination belongs to someone else,” Selena replied. She did not say, however,
that she actually knew the other person’s name, though at this point Thomas Shann was probably at the
moment a kid learning how to spell.

       Selena sat upstairs in her parents’ two story home, contemplating the upcoming game. Her
college homework sat finished on her bed. She looked at Scott’s werewolf character. Any day now, she
thought to herself. She had already seen Elodea. Even now, Scott had been out-of-pocket for several
days. Perhaps it had already started. She and Tim had both been leaving messages on his answering
machine that he had not been returning.
         Then, the phone rang. “Selena, this is Scott.” Selena smiled, knowing that Scott would not see
this expression. Over the phone, she could let down her guard somewhat. It would be harder to do so in
person in the future, however, as his senses would be much keener from now on. “I’m not going to be
able to make it to Tim’s gaming party.” Scott continued on the other end, his voice shaky, even
frightened. “I’ve…I’ve gotten…sick…very sick. It’s bad.”
         “My Gosh,” she replied, feigning worry. At heart, she knew he would be fine. The next few
weeks, however, would not be easy for him. “You sound pretty bad—I can’t help but be worried. What
can I do?”
         “I don’t think there’s much you or anyone can do. I think I’ll have to take care of this myself.”
Scott paused for a moment. In that time, Selena pulled out Scott’s game character and then a set of
notes, labeled “version 69.” Scott then continued. “But, I may need your advice—about that psychic
ability of yours…. And… and about the game, can you tell me about this… character you rolled up for
me?”
         “Are you sure you even need to be worried about that right now?” She asked back.
         “Please… I am curious. You said he’s a… were…” Scott struggled with the word. “Werewolf?”
         Selena knew she had an illusion to maintain. “I’m really worried about you. Do you think you
need to go to the ER or something?”
         “Please, just tell me about the…”
         “It just seemed kind of appropriate—I’m not sure why.” Selena found herself starting to shake
from excitement. It would be years, of course, before the days of genetic engineering or astral phase
technology. But, Scott Gardener’s lycanthropy was the first step, history in the making. “Could that
have anything to do with you now?” At once she was anxious and excited.
         “What else can you tell me?”
         “He’s a fifth level elvish wizard, with a high intelligence. Tim let me give him the ability to
control lycanthropy in exchange for not having any expensive magic items or other things.” Selena’s
werewolf character was a good way to sneak in and poke at Scott without revealing too much. But, now
Scott was using it, too, in a frantic, disturbed way.
         “You said he controls his lycanthropy? How does he control his lycanthropy?”
         “I don’t know,” Selena replied, redirecting the conversation, to keep him from pressing her too
much. “I thought you’d work on the background. Well, he is a wizard—I guess he just did a lot of
magic research.” She had to keep her illusion of not knowing. “I’m really too worried about you to
remember the details right now. Can I at least come over?”
         “Thank you, but now is really not a good time,” Scott answered. “I think I’ll go by the library in
a little bit, when…this… settles down.” After several quiet seconds, he added a farewell and got off the
line.
         She thought about following him to the library, but since he was starting to change, she would
run the risk of his sensing her. It was better to wait and allow the timeline to simmer.

        Selena kept her bedroom at her adopted parents’ house fairly well organized. She did an
excellent job maintaining the appearance of a typical young college-age girl of that time and place. She
kept a few strange articles in her closet that no one knew about, but for the most part, she played the role
of the young, insecure person just now growing into an adult woman.
        Scott had dropped in without warning, and he was noticeably anxious as he came into her room.
His appearance was unmistakably altered; his eyebrows had thickened somewhat, and a thin coat of
facial and body hair had accented his appearance. “Selena,” Scott asked, “remember how I kept trying
to invite you out with me, but how you kept telling me that I was meant for someone else?”
        “Oh, heck,” she exclaimed, having cultured in herself an eccentric forced substitution of
profanity even under dire circumstances. “You’ve found her? I bet it’s Yolanda Taylor, an African-
American lady in my psychology class, too. I think she has the hots for you.” Scott apparently had
forgotten about encountering her a few months back, when she first grilled him about whether or not he
would willingly become a werewolf. The end result of his answer had indeed come to fruition. He
moved now with lupine intent, inspecting the scenery around him as a predator might scope a new
territory. He directed his gaze towards her.
        “Did you foresee anything else happening around the time I met her?”
        “Well,” she answered. “I can tell you’re about to go through some sort of major change…” She
gasped, wondering how much to reveal of her knowledge. His personality had shifted so much already;
he was much more discerning and attentive to detail, no longer focused quite so much inward. The task
of keeping secrets around him would be harder from now on.
        “Yes,” he answered, “I can see that happening. Do you have any idea how to stop it, or how it
will affect my relationship with Elodea?”
        She bit her lip, sighing, hoping he might reveal more himself. “Can you tell me more about
what’s happening?” Even as she asked, she noticed how he picked up on her expressions, body
language, and even perhaps her breathing or her heartbeat.
        “I wish I could,” Scott replied, “but at the moment I’m not sure I can. Right now I need to know
what you know.” Scott paced around her room, meticulously scanning her game notes. He stopped
briefly at an open page of notes about “version 69.” She felt herself sweating as he looked right at it, but
thankfully a scent distracted him. He flared his nostrils and looked around again. “Some strange things
have been happening to me. For example, I’m able to learn things about people—almost as if I were
psychic, like you.” He pointed towards her trashcan. “I know you had something with tomato paste for
lunch, because I can smell it off what I suspect is a napkin you threw away up here.” He looked up at
her. “Personally, I like my coffee straight, but you added cream to yours.” Scott then browsed her desk
and a stack of notes about Dreamhaven, carefully disguised as if they were information about a role-
playing game setting. Then he walked back over to her, looking into her. He played his hand and called
hers. “Humans can’t possibly have this kind of sense of smell. Are you sure you don’t know anything
about this?”
        She backed away, starting to quiver. Scott responded to the fear welling up in her as she gazed
back at him. She thought frantically, desperately for an answer that would keep her from having to run
away or risk destroying the next hundred thousand years. Then, she noticed his cold, amber eyes.
Perhaps she could just now realize what he is. “Scott…your eyes…”
        He sat down, dropping his head. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he stated, his eyes watering. He
looked up at her. Selena breathed a sigh of relief. She could push him later, but right now she would
have to continue playing the character of Selena, the college student.
        “For a moment, I thought your eyes looked strange—kind of brown, almost yellow.”
        “It’s OK, Selena. For a moment, I thought your psychic talent had something to do with what
I’m going through.”
        You thought I caused this? Selena thought back. Perhaps she had. The conversation with
Elodea might have gone differently, and werewolves might never have come up had she not been there.
“But, you were right about what I ate, and I did have cream in my coffee. I ate lunch up here so I could
work on my new gaming idea about the faerie realm. How did you know that?”
        “I’ve…gained something. I can’t go into it.” As Scott spoke, Selena nodded. He then turned to
her, soliciting her psychic talents. “What can you tell me about Yolanda Elodea Taylor?”
        Selena’s eyes perked as she heard him say her name. “As I thought!” She uttered. “She’s the
one…she must be the one I saw for you.”

        Selena found Scott at the library, pouring through a stack of books about legends and folklore.
As she glanced cautiously over his shoulder, the Beast of Gevaudan smiled back at her from one of the
photocopied pages. Scott's ear flicked. “Hello, Scott,” she answered as he looked up.
        “Tell me, Selena. How long have you known about…this?” Scott pointed to a nineteenth
century engraving of a wolf with human hands, lurking over a fallen human body. As she gasped,
staring at the illustration, Scott loomed over her. “How long have you known they existed? Months?
Years? Did you know in advance that Elodea was one of them?”
        She stood, silent for a long time, at a loss for words. “I…” He had become so much more
intimidating after his transformation.
        “You knew about this?” Scott demanded.
        After a long pause, she collected herself and spoke softly. “Yes.”
        Scott replied with tears of anguish. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
        “How?” She cried back. “Would you have believed me?”
        Scott sat back down without answering. After several long moments of dead silence, he
responded finally, “some of the legends pair werewolves with witchcraft. Your psychic ability comes to
mind.” He was good at solving puzzles and riddles, but, the nature of Selena’s origin was a trick
question, the answer to which Scott could only hope to approximate. “I’ve had to accept the reality of
your abilities for a while now. Other than that, I’ve been able to get away with being a skeptic…at least
until now. What else do you know?”
         “I know that you’re going to have a hard time for awhile, but in the long run, you will get
through it and bring about some major event.” She could reveal a little bit more, but she had to be
careful not to say too much. “I can’t say the specifics.” She sat across from him, looking at the various
medieval engravings, deciding it was time to role-play her persona again. “I could hardly believe my
own prediction about werewolves, until I met Elodea six months ago. I had a strong feeling about her,
and then one day I saw her features shift, after she ran into you downstairs in this library. Her eyes
turned from almost black to bright amber, and she started to look a little bestial—I thought for a moment
that she had what almost looked like fur between her breasts and across her face. I only saw it for a
second. I remembered my premonitions, and I realized that I wasn’t seeing things. That’s when I
knew.”

         Scott had invited Selena and Tim to his apartment. Though they had talked about organizing
gaming events over there, Selena suspected that this would be about changes in the real world. “Thank
you for coming.” Scott said to both of them as they gathered around a fold-out table in his front living
area. “I’m sorry I wasn’t up to gaming this last weekend. I’ve been having to go through a lot of
personal issues.” Scott pulled out his photocopy of the werewolf character Selena had made for him.
“Aralust, fifth level elfin wizard…alignment, neutral good. Special ability: he can shape-shift into a
wolf.” He crumpled up the character sheet and threw the wad across the room. “I wasn’t up to gaming
because reality itself had already turned into a role-playing game.”
         The words were a biting jab to Selena, who already lived within this perspective. Tim, however,
looked at Scott and began shaking uncontrollably. “Is this about…what we talked about earlier? I
haven’t been able to get that image out of my mind, either.” Selena had not been privy to this
conversation, but she suspected Tim had some bit of knowledge about werewolves—just enough to
terrify him.
         “Tim,” Scott answered, “it wasn’t trying to hurt you. It was trying to reach out for help. I was
trapped in that form, in the woods, and suddenly, there you were—a link to the familiar. I saw a
person…someone I knew. I was desperate to recapture my humanity.”
         For the first time, Selena started feeling guilt. “Scott,” Selena replied, “I’m sure you’ll get
through this.”
         Scott leaned over Selena as he began to take on animal qualities. “I’ve been
searching…hunting…through the legends and folklore. I’ve tried to find something, anything that could
cure this. But, all the folklore tells me the same thing…that I’m damned. I could cure this by giving
Satan back the wolf-skinned belt he loaned me. I could give myself over to the clergy. But, if I did that,
I could end up like Gilles Garnier or Peter Stubbe…And, if this thing can transform every cell in my
body into that of another animal, then it must be very complex, and it must have already thoroughly
spread throughout my entire body. What chance do I have of getting rid of it, if people die every day of
AIDS, or cancer...”
         Tim and Selena both looked back at Scott, speechless.

       Scott could sense Selena approaching. He did not expect her, but he none-the-less felt her
presence for several minutes before she knocked at his door. He looked through his apartment door’s
peer hole, seeing a fish-eyed view of his friend standing at the entryway with anticipation. Scott opened
the door to greet her.
       “Selena; I wasn’t expecting you.” He started to add mention of his precognition of her, but
decided not to go into it. She looked back at him with a smile.
       “You look so much better.”
       “I’m over the shock,” he answered. “The wolf and I are getting along a little better now.”
       Selena unloaded her tote bag and jacket onto a chair next to Scott’s folded up gaming table.
“Well, you did ask for it,” she said. “Do you remember when we met Elodea in the library?”
       Scott paced back and forth, reflecting. “Come to think of it, I had forgotten all about that. That
was when you first suggested that Aralust be a...”
       “Werewolf,” they both said, simultaneously.
       Scott continued. “I don’t think Elodea forgot, however.”
       “Obviously.” Selena placed her arm around Scott’s shoulder, pulling him closer. “I’m going to
have to let you go, but…”
       “…We can still be friends,” Scott answered back, feeling as if reading from a script.
       “Don’t think that I’m breaking up with you,” Selena continued, her eyes glistening with
moisture. “I’m just acknowledging Elodea, so you don’t have to break up with me.” Scott leaned
forward and started to kiss her, but she held her hand against his mouth. “Wait.”
       Scott backed away with a sigh. “Right, the saliva.” He looked back at her with longing and
some sense of regret. “It would probably be safe, but we don’t really know.”

        “Elodea, meet Selena Hawthorne.” As Scott introduced her, Selena stumbled back with an
expression of awe. Elodea’s black leather jacket and sharp, triangular face contrasted sharply with
Selena’s modest long skirt and a loose shirt. The three met in the S.F.A. Arboretum, surrounded by dim,
glowing orb lights and flowers in the evening shade as dusk sank in.
        “I know you from my Psych class,” Selena answered. “But, this is really the first time I’ve met
you one-to-one.”
        “You usually sit towards the back,” Elodea answered. “I recognize the perfume—tea rose.”
Selena simply stuttered in response, then Elodea continued. “Scott tells me you’re a psychic,” Elodea
continued. “You even figured out what I was.”
        “I…I…didn’t expect it to be literal! I thought maybe the image of Scott turning into a wolf was
some sort of symbol for something—maybe gaining empowerment, or…or awakening to some new
consciousness. I wasn’t expecting it really to be about his turning into a werewolf!”
        “It was both, Selena,” Scott answered. “Maybe the wolf has burrowed into my consciousness
too much. But, I have a feeling that you were right, that Elodea and I are meant for each other. I’m no
longer able to be angry; I don’t think the wolf will let me. Hate and anger are more human emotions.”
        “It’s not you and the wolf,” Selena answered, grasping his hands. “It’s you. It always has been
and always will be.” Selena’s eyes took on a distant look, characteristic of her drawing upon whatever
source gave her premonitions. “You’re connecting to your instincts. They will serve you again many
times over in the future, in this and many lives to come.”
        Elodea looked at Selena as she spoke. She then circled her, sniffing at her with interest, and
regarding her with her eyes as they shifted from black to bright, golden amber. “You’re doing
something; your body heat and blood flow just changed somehow. I can’t put my finger on it.”
        Selena sighed. “I think its nerves. I’m not used to consorting with werewolves.”
        “But,” Scott answered, “the old legends do tell of witches who became involved with them,
guiding them.”
        “You have a power I want very much to understand,” Elodea added. “I’ve always been
interested in enigmas….” She leaned into Selena as she stroked her hair, sniffing it. “…Being one
myself—but, how do you know these things?”
        Scott could sense Selena’s intimidation as she shuddered. “I’d like to reassure you, Selena, that
you’re in no danger.” He sighed. “But, we are werewolves, and I can’t say she doesn’t bite.” Elodea
wrinkled her eyebrows as she looked back at him. She made her way towards the woods outside the
arboretum, and a nearby river. As she did, she removed her jacket and handed it to Scott, after taking
out a small leather strap with jingling metal dog tags.
        “If anyone asks, I’m a wolf hybrid. I’m going to see if I can catch some squirrels while we’re
out here.” She placed the collar around her neck and then removed her shirt and bra, pointing her
breasts loudly towards Scott and Selena before bending over to remove her pants as well.
        “Uh…” Selena muttered with disbelief. “Aren’t you worried that someone…”
        “I don’t smell anyone else here,” she answered back. “Do you?” Fur then erupted from her skin,
engulfing her naked form as her lower face stretched into a muzzle. She knelt down and finished her
metamorphosis. The wolf Elodea looked back at Selena one last time, apparently enjoying seeing her
expression of astonishment. Then, she darted off.
        Scott and Selena looked at each other with disbelief. Selena’s expression, however, was
surprisingly calm for someone who most likely had never seen a werewolf shift shape. Scott picked up
on her uncanny stability, especially given her already mixed nature of shyness and assertiveness.
“You’re handling all of this better than I am.” However, Selena’s affect gave way to a mixture of
sadness and uneasiness, causing her at last to begin trembling.
        “One last kiss,” she asked of him. “Then I’ll have to let you go.”
        “But, the saliva—it could be spread to you.”
        “I know.” She reached up and placed her arm around his back, leaning into him. “That’s the
reason.”
        Scott hesitated. “You will almost certainly want to be with someone—it will come up. Would
you want to spread it to him? And from there, where else could it go? If it becomes an outbreak or
epidemic, we could destroy humanity.”
        “Then we’ll have to be careful.” She pressed her lips into his, and he responded.

        Two days had passed, and Selena was not yet sure whether or not it had affected her. She sat by
a stream along a nature trail, hoping the serene landscape at sunset would inspire her first sense of
lycanthropy. She took a deep breath, noting to herself that the air’s scent did seem unusually vivid.
However, her imagination was notoriously overactive. Then, she heard rustling.
        Selena turned to see a dark form approaching—a black wolf. “Scott?” The wolf sped up,
darting over to her.
        Then, the creature stood upright, her fur-covered form looming over Selena. “Elodea?”
        The creature grabbed Selena’s blouse, pulling her up and pushing her against the nearest tree.
She shifted further towards human form, until Elodea’s face was discernable. “About that last kiss…”
        Selena was unprepared for confrontation, and finding herself face to face with an angry
lycanthrope caused her heart to clinch and stomach to twist and roll. “I was just…”
        “He may be a bit naïve, but I’m not. He’s mine now. You can’t have him.”
        “I just…” Selena gasped, quivering. “…I just wanted to become a were…”
        “Really?” Selena’s eyes widened as Elodea’s form shifted back into the creature mid-way
between human and wolf. She opened her gaping jaws and clamped down onto Selena’s neck and
shoulders. Then, she spat on the wound as she shifted again towards a human form. “Now you’re a
werewolf.”

        Scott and Elodea passed through the SFA Student Center, stopping at the local Hungry Jack Inn
cafeteria for breakfast. In less than a month, the two would leave for Fort Worth, and the last of Scott’s
familiar, strictly human life would be left behind.
        Selena had been sitting by herself, reading the most recent issue of Elfquest: Shards. She sniffed
and looked up, over at Scott and Elodea. Her blue eyes took on a new icy, staring quality, and her
eyebrows had become thickened, joining with subtle tufts of fur. The couple joined her at her booth in
the corner.
        “I’m starting to get a sense of control over it,” Selena commented quietly to them.
        “Just be careful,” Scott answered. “And please, don’t let it or word of it get around.”
         Elodea met Selena’s now feral gaze with her own, more concentrated and focused sense of
intent. “Has it done anything to your psychic ability?” She reached out to her hand, taking it and
sniffing it.
         “I can occasionally see things—maybe ghosts. I saw one once last night in front of the library—
someone’s dog barked at it, but its owner couldn’t figure out why it was barking. It looked kind of like
a little black kitty-cat.”
         “He hangs around campus,” Elodea answered back. “I’ve seen him three times already. The
humans don’t see him, but each time, I notice him out of the corner of my eyes.”
         Scott asked, “what about the future?”
         “It’s complicated, but I’m sure you’re part of it.” Selena worried that she would say too much.
Her newly enhanced senses helped her read Scott and Elodea better, but she was still getting used to the
strange, surreal quality of a lycanthrope’s perspective.
         “Just remember he’s with me,” Elodea added. Scott sighed, but did not offer any rebuttal. She
then added, “but we should keep in touch. I’m very curious to see how you turn out.”
         Selena felt a twitching in her right arm. She looked at her hand, which had grown claws. Her
fingertips and upper palm formed pinkish tan pads, while a coat of light gray fur had erupted. So much
for being a passive observer, she thought to herself, realizing that she had now become a part of the
future to come.

								
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