With high school finished and graduation out of the way, Noah Hunt finds himself feeling lost and lacking purpose. However, on a normal night, he becomes entangled in an extraordinary event, which leads him to new people and opportunities beyond the realms of what he believed was possible.
1: New Boy Written by MarthaJonesFan
Noah thought that life after school would be boring. With graduation done, it was bound to be an endless cycle of jobs, bills and shitty relationships, and that didn’t put him remotely at ease with the inevitable ageing process.
What Noah certainly didn’t’ expect was for the craziness of senior year- parties, prom, graduation and all – to somehow end up feeling inconsequential, and almost boring in comparison.
After all, Noah’s life had been the dictionary definition of normal – “confirming to a standard; usual, typical or expected.” Nothing exciting had ever truly happened to him.
Perhaps it could be argued that Noah himself was far from normal. At least, he didn’t like to conform. He had longer hair than most girls he knew, a soft auburn in colour with curls that were completely untamed. He adored it, and no amount of nagging from idiotic jocks at school ever made him consider cutting it.
At school, he had always gotten on better with girls anyway – he had more in common with them, as someone who preferred shopping and music to sports. It was stereotypical, but mostly true amongst his year group. The only problem was finding a girl to spend his life with; he hadn’t been on a single date in all nineteen years of his life.
Nevertheless, Noah never truly found the place be belonged. The closest person in his life remained his mum, a Welsh wonder-woman who never stood for any bullshit, from Noah or anyone else. Though he had been raised in America, and his sorry excuse for a dad was American, their summer holidays to Cardiff never failed to excite Noah.
That was, of course, until one night. The September after graduation changed Noah’s life from something ordinary, to a little extraordinary.
“Come on, there’s nothing you can achieve by sitting there on your arse, have you applied for anything yet?” Carla nagged. Noah sighed. He had only just pressed play on the latest episode of The Good Place on Netflix. It wasn’t like he had been lazing around all day; he had hoovered, washed up and ironed his washing. If that wasn’t productive, he didn’t know what was.
“Mom, I told you, I’m waiting to hear back,” Noah replied. He had applied to a selection of media courses in the area, but none had replied yet. The deadline hadn’t passed for most of them, so his mum’s nagging felt a little premature.
“Alright, I’m sorry my love, it’s my job to worry,” Carla kissed Noah on the head, gently ruffling his curls.
“Don’t worry, all is good,” Noah assured, understandingly.
“Mind if I ask a favour? I know it’s getting late, but could you please nip to the shop and pick me up some milk? I’m gasping for a cup of tea,” Carla enquired.
“Only if I can get some chocolate,” Noah bargained, a cheeky grin planted on his face.
“Fine,” Carla caved in, handing him a ten-dollar bill. Result.
Noah bounced his way out of the house and onto the dark, shrouded street. It was a pretty bog-standard street, with semi-detached houses and cars parked the whole way up, but what made it exciting was that Noah’s house was just three doors down from Bedworth forest, a place that excited, intrigued and scared him in equal measure.
The way to the shop was firmly embedded in Noah’s mind – he was always back and forth to pick up snacks – and there were two ways to go. One was a five-minute walk along the roads, the other was a two-minute shortcut. However, that involved going through the forest. On his phone. At night. A five-minute walk was never going to make him resort to that.
Turning left to avoid the forest in front, Noah was met by an unusual roadblock. Roadworks had been taking place behind a sign that read “Road Closed.” The pathway wasn’t even accessible, and a diversion was signposted. Typically, it was through the forest.
Noah considered going home. He didn’t feel safe enough to go through the forest at night, especially having heard all of the horror stories from there throughout high school.
However, he didn’t want to return home empty-handed. Besides, he had a torch on his phone, surely that should add an element of safety? It was only a two-minute walk after all.
Bravely, Noah pushed open the rusty gate and entered the forest. He kept motivating himself mentally, assuring himself that he could do it. He didn’t believe in monsters or ghosts, and they were the subject of just about every myth anyway.
Crack! The sound of a twig snapping in two. Noah shone the torch light down – there were no twigs surrounding his trainers at all. It must have been someone else; after all, the forest wasn’t a private facility, anyone could have innocently been there. They were probably just as scared as he was, too.
The sound of a wolf howling filled Noah’s quivering ears. Now he really felt terrified. Perhaps it wasn’t a human in there with him after all. Noah picked up the pace, speed-walking to the other gate. It was in sight now, and he was adamant he wouldn’t be walking back after reaching the shop. If it meant he had to get an Uber, then so be it.
Whoosh! Noah was swept cleanly off his feet, landing with a thud face first on the ground. Mud splattered into his hair, but what felt worse was the ongoing grip on his ankle. Something was keeping him there. Noah held very still.
In front of him, just metres away at the far gate, he saw a young man enter. He must have been no younger than Noah himself. Immediately, he was mauled to the floor by an animal. Noah wanted to look away, but he couldn’t, he was desperate to keep an eye on what was happening. It looked so animalistic in the dim moonlight, with claws and fur just about visible, but the stance was too human for it to be a wolf. It was crouched on its knees in a way that a wolf wouldn’t ever sit.
Noah tried to wriggle free, but he had no luck. He was completely stuck. Whatever was behind him placed a hand on top of his head, pushing it firmly against the muddy ground. Horrifyingly, four claws dangled down into Noah’s eyeline. He thought he was toast.
A gunshot fired. The creature’s grip loosened and Noah wriggled free. He dived straight into the nearby bushes to get out of the firing range. Whatever had been on top of him had scarpered. Noah’s whole body was shaking. He didn’t know what to do. His mind couldn’t think straight.
“Hey, you there. It’s safe, come out,” a female voice commanded. Noah remained sceptical – he was too scared to move, “Come on, I’ll help you.” She held her hand out ready for him. Cautiously, Noah grabbed onto it. She pulled him forward, back out into the open.
“What was that?” Noah queried frantically.
“Not your problem. You never saw it, or me, right?” she warned.
“Who are you?” Noah was getting more and more confused. She wasn’t a cop, or wearing any sort of uniform.
Blue lights flashed. The cops had arrived. Noah looked around, hoping to get an answer out of the girl, but she had vanished. Something more was going on.
The four walls of the sheriff station were making Noah feel suffocated. It had been an hour since he was interviewed, but he wasn’t allowed to leave just yet. Carla had come to collect him, but Noah was nineteen now, he didn’t need an adult present with him in what was a simple interview.
Amazingly, Noah found himself listening to the request of the girl from the forest. He didn’t utter a word about the animalistic qualities of the attacker, instead referring to them as any regular human. He felt bad to have lied, but there was clearly something more going on, and Noah was keen to figure it out.
“So much for that cup of tea,” Carla chuckled, trying to break the awkward silence, “I’m sorry.”
“You weren’t to know what would happen,” Noah admitted, feeling a little deflated. It was late and he was mentally exhausted after the evening he’d had.
“Why are they keeping you here? You’re not a suspect, and you’re not under arrest,” Carla complained.
“Probably for box-ticking,” Noah tried to reason. The sheriff surely had good reasons for not sending him home; he was the victim after all.
“Let me go and have a word, I’ll sort it out,” Carly was in defensive mother mode.
“No, mom, please don’t. I’m nineteen, I can fight my own battles,” Noah reminded
“Sorry honey, I forget you’re not a kid now,” Carla relaxed back into her seat, sighing. She sounded just as fed up as Noah felt, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
The sheriff’s office door bashed open. Three young people marched out, led by the girl Noah had spoken to in the forest. What was she doing there? She was very keen for Noah not to mention her to the sheriff, after all.
“Hey,” Noah called out. She glanced over to him with a facial expression of power; as if she had gotten her way in a debate. Her afro hair was pulled back and styled in an intricate bun that Noah could only dream of making himself. She looked like she meant business.
She kept on walking, as if she had never seen Noah before. It felt like he had been winded by a stray soccer ball. After all that, he still wasn’t owed an explanation? Above all else, it was rude.
“Who was that?” Carla questioned.
“Oh, just someone from school,” Noah wasn’t ready to tell his mum the full story, not that she would believe him anyway, “I guess she didn’t get a good enough look at me. Can we go home?”
“I’ll speak to the sheriff, if that’s what you want,” Carla offered. A downbeat Noah nodded. He just wanted to be at home, curled up in bed.
The following morning was pretty disorientating for Noah. He didn’t know whether he was coming or going, and he certainly didn’t have the motivation to plough through more courses and jobs.
What annoyed Noah the most was how his eyes had been opened to the secrets of the world, before a blindfold was so coldly put over them. He was attacked by a wolf-like human. He saw somebody else be murdered. Though he didn’t want to believe in mythical creatures, the secrecy surrounding this made him seriously consider that it was an actual werewolf.
Still lying under his duvet even though it was midday, Noah picked up his laptop from the floor to begin some research. Immediately, he could tell googling “werewolf” was a non-starter. It was filled up with myths and fiction – sifting through all of that was going to take a lot of time. Thankfully, he had all day.
Page fifteen on Google. Still, nothing relevant was appearing, but the internet was vast. Noah wasn’t ready to give up. He refined the search to “werewolf bedworth” in the hope of finding something more local, Instantly, Noah found an interesting looking message board – “Supernatural Phenomena.” The topic title was even more unusual and it sparked intrigue in Noah. It was called “Watcher’s Front.”
The post that followed was mesmerising. It spoke not just of werewolves, but all sorts of creatures around Bedworth in locations that Noah recognised: the supermarket, his old school, and the forest. There was no proof, but Noah didn’t need any, he had seen it for himself. “Watcher’s Front” was mentioned throughout the post, but there was no indication of what it meant. Nevertheless, it was a lead in Noah’s mini-investigation.
Now it was time for a trip outside.
Returning to the forest was a daunting experience. Noah could vividly see the events of the night before replaying in his mind as he passed through the gate, and every sound he heard came flooding back. The creaking of the gate. The twig cracking. The wolf howling. Every emotion he felt that night came straight back.
On the bright side, it was notably lighter now – after all, it was only two o’clock in the afternoon. Noah felt a lot more comfortable about being back there now he had a good enough view of everything surrounding him.
Interestingly, at the exact point of the attack, two people were stood looking around, as if they were gathering evidence. Noah had seen them before – they were in the sheriff station the night before with that girl.
“Noah Hunt,” the girl called out, making eye contact with him. She was really pretty; her gorgeously silky-looking brunette hair hung just below her shoulders, and her beautiful brown eyes shone in the sunlight, “What are you doing back here?”
Noah felt exposed, as if his little mission had been rumbled. However, this was the perfect chance to delve deeper.
“Oh, sorry,” Noah blushed, “I saw both of you last night. How do you know my name?”
“Don’t worry about that, I’m Josh and this is Ruby. I’m sorry for what you saw last night,” the guy spoke professionally and calmly. Noah couldn’t lie – he was pretty darn cute too. He had medium-length auburn curls that rested on his neck, and his skin was flawless. Noah almost felt inadequate around him.
“I still don’t know what I saw last night,” Noah replied.
“You saw a murder,” Ruby added.
“I’ve got this,” Josh took control back, as if she had intruded on his area of expertise, “We can’t tell you any more, I’m sorry, but once we’re done here, I promise you’ll be safe and you can go back to your life.”
“I want to help. I want to know more,” Noah reasoned. He wasn’t backing down. He had seen the attackers up-close, surely that made him valuable?
“Dude, we can’t,” Josh looked like he was reading from a script. This was what he had been told to say, rather than his genuine feelings.
“I know about Watcher’s Front,” Noah pulled out his trump card. He was exaggerating of course, as he had absolutely no idea what it meant, but he hoped it would pique their interest.
Ruby and Josh shared knowing looks. Watcher’s Front meant something to them, and Noah had a good feeling that he had made a breakthrough.
“Come with us,” Josh smiled, holding out a hand for Noah to take. Without a second thought, Noah grabbed it and joined them on the way out of the forest. Noah was excited – he could have been on his way to absolutely anywhere.
The car Ruby drove was impressive. Noah felt unusually comfortable in the back of the roomy 4x4, which was stacked up with boxes of equipment and weaponry next to him. It looked like the kind of car he’d seen in science fiction shows in the past, and he was totally digging it.
No conversation took place for the duration of the journey, which made Noah feel awkward and nervous. The radio filtered out the silence, and the recognisable tune of Harry Styles’ “Lights Up” provided some welcome familiarity in such a weird scenario.
The car pulled up outside an out-of-town shop. It was small and cute, but seemed to be derelict and abandoned. Noah couldn’t figure out why they were there – why would they bring him to an abandoned shop?
Engine off. Ruby and Josh leapt out of the car, so Noah followed their lead. He slammed the door a little too hard, lost in his head which was working overtime.
“Sorry,” he sheepishly apologised to Ruby.
“Don’t worry, it’s seen worse knocks than that,” Ruby intriguingly replied. Noah had so many questions, and he was hoping some answers were on their way.
Josh opened the door to the shop and led the way inside. The shop was just as empty as it looked. A couple of display units had been left there, but nothing else decorated the dark, dusty shop floor.
Unusually, next to a door labelled “Toilets” was a hi-tech panel. It wasn’t sprayed in dust like everything else in the room; in fact, it was well kept even though it was switched off. Josh tapped its screen, lighting it up to reveal the handprint sensor. He placed his right hand against the screen, and just seconds later, the door slid open, revealing a tunnel – definitely not toilets.
Josh and Ruby smiled devilishly to each other as Noah stared wide-eyed at the tunnel. He was getting more excited, but also more nervous. What would be down there?
“Come on then,” Josh encouraged. There was something about Josh that Noah really liked. He seemed friendly and up for adventure. Noah had a good vibe in his stomach.
The tunnel, which was lit up but only dimly, continued around a corner, where they were met by an elevator. It wasn’t enclosed like most lifts, and felt rackety and like it could give way at any point, which put Noah even further on edge.
It moved downwards at a gentle but consistent pace, hitting the floor below with a gentle bump. All three of them dismounted and reached another handprint access panel, which Josh cleared once again. The large door in front gave way, revealing an unbelievably vast room ahead.
As Noah stepped closer and closer to the doorway, he became more and more amazed by what he could see. The ceiling was so tall that he had clearly underestimated just how far down the lift had taken him. To the right was a kitchen with sofas, like a lounge area. To the left as an office, with four computers at individual work stations. Straight ahead was a pathway down a couple of steps; Noah had no idea where it led but it looked pretty vast.
“You can go in,” Josh nudged. Noah felt like he was trespassing. This definitely wasn’t somewhere he felt like he should know about.
“What is this place?” Noah queried.
“Welcome to Watcher’s Front,” Ruby introduced, collapsing onto one of the couches.
“It’s amazing,” Noah was awestruck. He couldn’t get his eyes off just how incredible it was. The brick walls stood up tall, and it looked like it had been built a long, long time ago. However, the lower area was refreshingly modern, right down to the furniture and the pretty tea and coffee jars on the kitchen work surface.
“This is where we work,” Josh explained, “We deal with creatures like the ones you saw last night. We save lives.”
“Those creatures, what were they?” Noah questioned. He couldn’t believe everything he was seeing. It was mind-blowing, and extremely cool.
“Don’t you know? Come on Noah, I thought you’d done your research,” Ruby hinted.
“Werewolves,” Noah muttered.
“There’s so much more, too,” Josh looked like he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“Why are you telling me this? Why am I here?” Noah was still a little wary. They were remaining tight-lipped on these secrets until he said “Watcher’s Front.”
“I’d like to know that too,” a voice came from behind, from the office area. Noah knew that voice, he had heard it before. In the forest. Turning around, Noah met eyes with the girl that saved him. The girl that blanked him in the sheriff station.
“We met him,” Josh explained. It seemed like she was the leader, and Ruby and Josh hadn’t discussed this with her. Noah felt awkward in between all of them.
“You should both know better,” she scolded, “Rule number one, don’t tell anyone what we do. Rule number two, don’t bring anyone in.”
“He knows us,” Ruby reasoned.
“He saw the name on Google, he knows nothing,” she immediately rebutted.
“I’m sorry,” Noah felt awful, like he had gotten in the way of something.
“We’re a man down, Tasha. We need someone,” Josh wasn’t backing down.
They were interrupted by an intrusive beeping sound coming from the computers. Tasha ran to check it out, and a concerned expression immediately arrived on her face.
“Looks like you’re on a trial run, then,” Tasha decided, much to Noah’s intrigue. However, he was only feeling more and more confused. He wanted to ask so many questions, but he was in too deep for that now.
The butterflies remained in his stomach, and they became his fuel. Noah was ready to prove his worth.
Everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing on the way back out. Tasha was in the driving seat, steering ruthlessly though ton. Ruby navigated from the passenger seat, holding a small tablet-like device to track where they were going. Josh had his own tablet, scrolling through what looked like some sort of news feed, like Facebook or Twitter.
“Loads of reports coming in, it’s gone public,” Josh fed back.
“Block phone signal in the area, shut it down,” Tasha commanded.
“On it,” Josh obediently replied, tapping away at the screen.
“Twenty seconds away,” Ruby reported, the car swerving around another corner, skidding like it was out of control.
Noah was fascinated. He was part of a team that he shouldn’t have ever known about, and he felt so out of place. In fact, he felt useless – what was he supposed to offer a team that had all bases covered?
The car skidded to a halt. They were on the lowest floor of a multi-storey car park above Bedworth Mall, a place Noah knew very well. He had visited it loads over the years, mainly because it was the home of the only remaining music store in town. However, this was no shopping trip. They had a job to do.
“This way,” Ruby directed them through the car park and towards the stairwell – there was no time to wait for the lift.
Noah panted most of the way down. The stairs seemed to go on forever, and it made Noah realise just how little exercise he had been doing since school finished. He felt sweat covering his face and scalp, and he couldn’t wait to get in the shower and rinse it out of his hair, but it was going to be worth it.
Finally, he reached the bottom floor, lagging a couple of steps behind the others. Eerily, the mall was deadly quiet. Noah had never seen it so empty, not even when he had been there just before closing time. What made it even creepier was how early in the day it was; it should never have been so quiet at this time.
Tasha led the way, holding a tranquiliser gun. Josh and Ruby carried one each too, but Noah had nothing to defend himself with. His mum always told him he shouldn’t punch back and should fight with his mind, but somehow, he didn’t think that would work against a werewolf.
“Registering life signs ten feet this way,” Ruby explained, pointing to the left. It was a department store, and a pretty big one too, filled with cheap tat that people loved for some reason, “Both human and non-human.”
“Alright. Josh, take new boy and get any humans out. We can’t risk any more casualties,” Tasha directed, “Ruby and I will go this way.” Josh and Ruby nodded as the team split into two different routes through the vast yet claustrophobic store.
“I can’t hear anyone,” Noah commented, trying to be useful.
“Dude, with all due respect, I don’t think you’d be having a conversation when you’re hiding from a werewolf,” Josh responded. He had a fair point – his eyes were a far more valuable tool than his ears in that particular moment.
“Sorry, this is new to me,” Noah responded. He was keen to make a good impression, not just on Tasha but all three of them. Josh had clearly seen something in him to have brought him into this in the first place.
“I know, and I get it. We all start somewhere,” Josh admitted. Noah couldn’t put his finger on why he was so drawn to Josh. He felt warm in his stomach when he was around him. He had never felt this way before, “Look.”
Josh pointed directly ahead – to the changing rooms. People could have been hiding in there; after all, Noah knew if he had to hide in a clothing store, that’s where he would go. Together, they jogged across, making as little noise as possible. Three cubicles made up the small area, each with a curtain across to preserve dignity.
Cautiously, Josh opened the first curtain. Nothing. Same in the second. He looked to Noah, sharing the same feeling of dread as Noah felt deep in his stomach. Taking a deep breath, Josh opened the final curtain.
A growl followed. In front of them, much to Noah’s disbelief, was a werewolf. Noah froze on the spot. He began to panic.