When usual and horrifying corpses appear around Crystalshaw, Dylan and Jono are thrown into a new investigation. With the discovery of experiments on supernatural creatures, Dylan has to fight to protect his pack, as well as keeping Jono safe as he struggles to control his new abilities. Can Dylan pull his pack together, in spite of missing memories and disorientation, before a new threat is unleashed onto Crystalshaw?
As Jono gets to grips with his new werewolf powers and his cousin Sammi being on the scene, he and Dylan are sent on a new investigation when they come across the most horrifying corpse. Meanwhile, Drew enlists Lily to help piece together a mystery involving Monty, and Freddie makes a new friend.
Haunted by his biggest nightmare, Josh struggles to act as if nothing was happened at Lily's party, leading to a heart-to-heart with Freddie. After struggling with control, Jono realises his relationship with Dylan works both ways. Drew, Lily and Yasmin interrogate their surprising lead.
1: Fear Written by MarthaJonesFan
Jolting upwards, Jono found himself feeling distressed and sweaty. This had been his life for the entire fortnight that had passed since he received the bite. His sleep was interrupted, he had been having the most terrible nightmares, and he had even woken up several miles away without knowing anything about how he got there.
“Hey, it’s okay,” he instantly felt Dylan wrapping his arms around him, calming him down, gently rubbing and soothing his arms. It was the one small relief for Jono – knowing he always had Dylan by his side during the night, “All better?”
“It’s never better,” Jono sighed, “This has been going on for two weeks. How much longer?”
“Not long, remember I promised? Things will get better soon,” Dylan reassured, “Your hearing has come on so much.”
“It’s hard work,” Jono complained. He was a werewolf, and it was like learning how to walk from scratch.
“Then relax, you don’t need to know everything immediately. I was the worst student, just ask Drew,” Dylan chuckled, resting his head on Jono’s shoulder.
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Jono laughed.
“Come on, let’s just sleep, we have school tomorrow,” Dylan suggested, snuggling up against Jono’s chest as they both laid back down. Dylan certainly knew how to persuade him – the feeling of their bare chests touching was insatiable.
Jono didn’t want to move, keeping Dylan resting on him for as long as possible. Dylan was right, after all – they had a long road to travel together, but for now, they needed rest.
Complete with an unusual spring in her step, Yasmin felt weirdly positive about coming into school that morning. It wasn’t that she hated the classes, but it wasn’t the most ideal environment for somebody outside the “cool” clique.
That day though, Yasmin couldn’t have cared less. She had another date with Josh after school; for once, homework was going on the backburner and would be completed first thing in the morning. They had already been out together three times – once for coffee, once for dinner and once to the cinema. All were pretty standard date settings, but tonight, they were ready to party.
That night was Lily’s annual house party, and Josh had invited her along as his date. It was their first proper outing as a pairing, so it felt like big news.
A bigger worry on her mind was Lily – it was the first party she had thrown in a while, and a lot had happened in her life since the last one. That said, Lily had spent every second of her free time planning the spectacle, so Yasmin had faith in her.
Slipping into maths, it was their first lesson with yet another new teacher. It was their third in just a few months, and the last two both met an unfortunate end. It felt like a cursed job. As she entered, Yasmin saw a young lady stood at the head of the classroom. Her straight, dark hair fell midway down her chest, hanging perfectly in place, complementing her gorgeous tanned brown skin.
As Yasmin passed through the room, she saw an assortment of both boys and girls gazing at her longingly. Reaching the back of the room, she caught both Freddie and Josh staring too.
“Hey,” she tapped Josh’s hand, scolding him. Both of them had dated her at some point, now they were admiring the same teacher. They had scarily identical tastes, “Who is she?
“That’s Miss Ahmed. And me? I’m only a mere man,” Josh joked.
“You’re a boy, don’t flatter yourself,” Yasmin teased back, taking her seat. She noticed the seat on her left was unusually empty, “Where’s Dylan?”
“He stayed at Jono’s last night, he’s probably hungover,” Josh responded. Hungover? Since when had Dylan expressed any interest in alcohol at all?
“That’s not like them,” Yasmin responded, suspicious of Josh’s words.
“Oh, not hungover from alcohol. Hungover from other stuff, if you know what I mean,” Josh hinted, smirking. Yasmin immediately knew what he meant, and she was disgusted.
“You’re gross,” she told herself.
“She’s not wrong,” Freddie backed Yasmin up, though he looked to be concealing a cheeky grin of his own. Yasmin rolled her eyes – boys and their dirty minds.
Anxiously checking his watch, Dylan leaned against Jono’s car. This had happened every time he had spent the night at Jono’s over the past fortnight, and school were surely going to give him a slap on the wrist if he were late again. He didn’t want that, and thought of getting told off worried him greatly – it was why he was usually so good at following the rules, or an expert at avoiding being caught.
“Hurry up!” Jono yelled into the house from the doorway, before turning to Dylan, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Dylan reassured. It was the truth – Jono wasn’t the one at fault. He was just as good at being punctual as Dylan himself, or at the very least, he was conscious of Dylan’s anxiety surrounding lateness and rule-breaking.
“I’m sorry, I still can’t work out how to use that shower, and then I lost the top I wanted to wear,” Sammi babbled, still walking irritatingly slowly and casually out of the front door with a tiny handbag acting as her schoolbag.
“Sammi, you’re going to school, not New York fashion week,” Jono sighed.
“Can we go? We’re late already,” Dylan nagged.
“Wow, who died and made you the fun police, Dylly?” Sammi poked fun at him. She insisted on calling him “Dylly” as some sort of weird joke. It was safe to say that Dylan didn’t really appreciate it.
“Get in the car,” Jono commanded. Dylan caught his eye for a moment, both of them sharing the same glances of despair, “The back, this time.”
“Whatever,” Sammi groaned. Two days before, she had sat in the passenger seat – Dylan’s usual place. He wasn’t happy, considering a drive to school with Jono was one of his favourite times, and his job was to be the DJ while Jono drove.
Sitting inside the car, Dylan queued up his current favourite song – “Killing Butterflies” by Lewis Blissett. The blaring synths sounded at the pretty loud volume that Jono always liked his music at.
“Can you put Ed Sheeran on?” Sammi requested.
“No,” Dylan bluntly responded. She was like a five-year-old kid, yet she was only one year younger than them both. Apparently, her dad is away on work and has sent her to stay with his brother, Jono’s dad, but Dylan had noticed her heartbeat increasing whenever she mentioned that. She was lying. Furthermore, she was essentially a stranger to Jono – they hadn’t seen each other in years, which didn’t help Dylan feel more comfortable around her.
Dylan jumped out of his skin as something whacked heavily against the windscreen. Jono skidded the car to a halt. Dylan immediately felt on edge; it wasn’t his own fear, it was a chemo-signal from whatever they bashed into. It was a living thing, though he suspected it wasn’t any longer.
“What the hell was that?” Sammi cried out. Instantly, Dylan could sense this wasn’t something Sammi needed to know about. So far, they had successfully avoided telling or showing her anything werewolf related, and Dylan wanted to keep it that way. Jono certainly did too – he hadn’t even told his parents about his new identity yet.
“Stay here,” Dylan ordered as he stepped out of the car cautiously. He felt uneasy, the fear radiating from whatever it was. Lying at the side of the road was a body. A human body, but not like one Dylan had ever seen before.
“Oh god,” Jono felt repulsed by what he’d seen, and rightfully so. The body looked like it had been cut open in more than one place, with dried blood decorating the areas surrounding those wounds. One eye looked to have been gauged out entirely, and there wasn’t a single tooth left in their mouth. It was a vile, repulsive sight.
“Call an ambulance,” Dylan suggested. Though he had no proof to suggest this was supernatural, it was too weird for him to simply ignore.
“You really don’t have to throw this party, you know,” George reminded for the seven-hundredth time that day. Lily groaned. Though she understood he was looking out for her, she had a mind of her own and, unbelievably for some, it still worked despite depression and anxiety.
“Dude, chill out, I’ve got every inch of it planned,” Lily reassured, ignoring whatever Mr. Marshall was talking about during their English class. Party planning was her top skill; she could do it in her sleep.
“I can come round straight after school to help set up,” George insisted. He wasn’t giving up.
“Fine, whatever you want, but don’t get in my way,” Lily gave in. It was the easiest way to get him to be quiet.
“I thought you’d be gagging for extra help,” George noticed Lily’s blunt response. It was about time.
“I’m not a baby, George, I’m an adult,” Lily reminded, “And I feel better than I’ve felt in ages.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I just want to make sure you stay that way. Perhaps you’re better off kept out of all the werewolf shit,” George wondered.
“Did you forget that both our brothers are werewolves now?” Lily noted, “And I’m halfway there myself.”
“True, I’m just thinking aloud,” George considered, “I just don’t want to lose you, or Freddie. You’re both in so deep that it scares me sometimes.”
“I know, but remember all the good we have done too,” Lily maintained. Though so much had gone wrong in Crystalshaw over the year that had just passed, everything they achieved as a pack helped to put it right.
Grabbing her attention from outside the window, looking over George’s shoulder, Lily noticed Drew creeping into school through the fire exit door. Whenever Drew was sneaking around, it usually meant something was up.
“Excuse me, Mr. Marshall,” Lily raised her hang with urgency,” Can I go to the bathroom please?”
“Be quick, Miss Chadwick,” he responded.
As Lily stood up, George shot her a look of confusion. Lily replied with a devilish wink. She was keen to get the scoop.
“Hey, where have you been?” Lily interrogated, calling across the corridor.
“Nowhere,” Drew coyly replied.
“I can hear your heartbeat, dumbass,” Lily replied, focusing on the notably irregular beats from his chest.
“Alright, I went to see Allyn,” Drew gave in. Lily loved her ability to squeeze any information she wanted out of Drew, who was notably a closed book otherwise.
“You see her all the time after school, what’s so different now?” Lily continued to probe.
“Monty came back three hours late last night, and he had no idea why or how,” Drew explained.
“Drunk? High?” Lily reasoned.
“Neither,” Drew answered, “Kamilah thought the same so we tested him, but three hours of his memory have been wiped.”
“Have you told Dylan?” Lily queried. This sounded like something he needed to be made aware of, and quickly.
“Not yet, I wanted something concrete first,” Drew answered, “I want to check CCTV.”
“I’ll help,” Lily responded. She knew George wouldn’t be happy, but she had a job to do, and the party had to go ahead without a werewolf-sized glitch that night.
Waiting impatiently outside Ed’s office, Dylan couldn’t remove the horrific, gruesome sight of the corpse from his mind. He had never seen anything as grotesque as that before, and what made it worse was Dylan’s journalistic mind considering exactly what caused those injuries and who was behind it. He wished he could just forget about it entirely.
Having dropped Sammi at school, Jono had accompanied Dylan to speak to Ed. School didn’t feel like the environment Dylan wanted to be in after seeing something like that. Thankfully, Jono was never more than a few centimetres away, never letting go of the grip he kept on Dylan’s hand.
“Hey boys,” Ed greeted, opening the office door assertively, “Sorry to keep you waiting, come on in.” As they entered Ed’s office of organised chaos, Dylan kept hold of Jono’s hand. It went without saying between them after a year, but they took each and every step together.
“Did you find anything?” Jono wondered, speaking on Dylan’s behalf.
“Yes and no,” Ed confusingly answered, “The corpse threw up absolutely nothing. No DNA other than itself. Whoever did this is a professional, we know this for sure.”
“What’s the good news?” Dylan enquired, feeling curious to learn as much as he could. It was like a murder mystery television show that he used to watch with his mum over the weekend.
“It continues a pattern. Every two days for the past eight days now, a new body has turned up in similar circumstances. Not a patch of evidence on any, but all bodies were mauled in separate ways,” Ed detailed.
“What about CCTV?” Jono thought logically.
“Conveniently the nearest cameras all malfunctioned at the time of the collision,” Ed answered. Dylan was finding himself more and more encapsulated by the mystery as he learnt more of the details.
“What could do that?” Dylan thought aloud, examining the photos of the other victims on Ed’s desk. One had all its teeth removed, the second had a chunk of its nose missing, and the third had skin absent all around its cheeks. It was like something from a horror film.
“Who, not what,” Ed corrected, “These aren’t animal attacks, the injuries are way too specific.”
“It doesn’t look human either,” Dylan reasoned, “I mean, who could do this?”
“Somebody very sick,” Ed offered.
“But this is Crystalshaw, there’s always more to it,” Dylan thought. He felt a responsibility for anything even vaguely unusual in the town, because it almost always linked back to werewolves or the supernatural.
“I’m not having you come back in a body bag, Dylan,” Ed put his foot down, “If I get a hint of anything supernatural, I’ll let you know, but in the meantime, please take it easy. I know what you’ve seen isn’t pleasant.”
Dylan sighed. He wasn’t happy to take no for an answer, which meant his sneaking around had to be on top form to avoid being caught.
Shoving away his maths textbook for another day, Freddie was pretty pleased it was already lunchtime. The sooner school was over, the better. Junior year wasn’t easy so far, and Freddie felt like he was rapidly falling behind the pace of everyone else. Yasmin had tried to help him catch up, but it was hard work – he couldn’t focus or motivate himself.
Attention problems weren’t new for Freddie – he had been described as hyper and frantic his entire life, and his ADHD diagnosis and subsequent medication certainly helped, but now it was affecting his studies. He kept forgetting to book a medication review – organisation was never a strong point.
“Oh, sorry,” a voice interrupted Freddie’s train of thought as his locker door jolted slightly. Beside him was Jono’s cousin Sammi, who he had met only briefly since she arrived. Mostly, he had listened to Jono ranting about how irritating he was, but Freddie’s encounters had always been pleasant.
“It’s okay,” Freddie noticed her struggling with a large pile of books, “Need a hand?”
“No, I’m okay,” Sammi lied, dropping every book onto the floor as her arms gave way.
“Hey, don’t worry,” Freddie instantly knelt down to help pick them up, saving Sammi the embarrassment.
“I’m sorry, I’m a mess,” Sammi’s cheeks blushed a cute shade of pink.
“No, it’s okay,” Freddie reassured, “First few weeks are never easy.”
“It’s not like I’ve never been to school,” Sammi defended, “It’s just…a lot.”
“Tell me about it,” Freddie agreed. He was in an almost identical predicament.
“We’d be here ‘til next week,” Sammi nervously laughed at herself, as if she were fed up and over it.
“I don’t mind,” Freddie kindly smiled at her. He got the impression that nobody else had been kind to her since her arrival.
“We’ve still got half an hour of lunch, I guess I could give you the edited highlights,” Sammi smiled back. She looked comfortable and at ease all of a sudden. Perhaps they needed each other – the perfect escape from the depths of school.
Once again impressed by Lily’s social skills, Drew was relieved she was on such good terms with Mrs. Langston the receptionist. Lily’s superb cover story of her missing homework was enough to get them into the CCTV room, and as far as Mrs. Langston knew, they were checking to see if Lily really did leave it at the bench. Of course, that was only half true. They were indeed checking CCTV, but for something far more serious.
The aim was to track Monty on his usual daily sweep around town. They all knew that Crystalshaw was a hub for supernatural activity, and it was important to keep their eyes and ears peeled, for the sake of both packs that Allyn and Drew respectively belonged to. Without fail, on his patrol, Monty passed the school gate at home time – 15:00 every day. They needed to track him as best as they could.
“What are we looking for?” Lily sat in front of the computer, which displayed a rotating view of four random cameras at a time.
“School gates, three o’clock yesterday. He’ll be there, he always is,” Drew directed.
Lily clicked at the top left corner, finding a menu with a drop-down list of all available cameras. She clicked on “School Gate 1” and fast-forwarded through the footage from the day before. Drew paid close attention to the clock as it whirred towards 15:00.
“Stop,” Drew commanded, the timer slowing at exactly 14:59:00. He examined the scene in front of him – only a small selection of students who had been lucky enough to get out of class a few minutes early, or those who had a free period. No Monty yet. The seconds ticked away to 15:00, and as soon as it arrived, the footage cut out. The screen filled with feedback, like a television with no signal.
“Huh? Why is it not working?” Lily seemed confused.
“Somebody knows what they’re doing,” Drew recognised, “Go back to just before.”
Lily rewound the footage a few seconds. 14:59:59. She paused so Drew could examine the shot. He looked at the other faces in view. Only one of them was recognisable, and it gave Drew a glimmer of hope.
“That’s Brett,” Drew recognised, “We can ask him.”
“He’s coming to the party later,” Lily added. Perfect – they had their chance to interrogate their prime witness.
Journalistic intrigue was one of so many things Jono had in common with Dylan, so it figured that they both shared the same idea following their chat with Ed – return to the scene of the crime. Specifically, the tranquil forest-side roads where the corpse landed on his car.
Dylan looked nervous about returning, which was understandable considering just how awful the body looked. Jono felt scared too, but it was his moment to be strong, especially considering just how much Dylan had been there for him over the previous fortnight.
Immediately, Jono tried to focus all of his senses, but it wasn’t easy. He had worked a lot on his hearing, but less so on the rest. A cocktail of scents filled his nose; the damp mud of the forest, the petrol of his car and Dylan’s cologne most notably. He could see the tiniest objects in the distance, but it was hard to focus when everything nearby was so much more detailed too. Jono struggled to imagine a time where he could master all of these skills.
“Have you got anything?” Jono queried, noticing the hairs on the back of his neck were stood on end.
“I can’t shake that feeling,” Dylan confessed, “I feel scared, but I don’t know why. I think it’s from the body.”
“But the body’s in the morgue, how can we feel it here?” Jono queried.
“It’s like when you walk along a beach, and you leave even the tiniest imprint on the sand,” Dylan theorised, “Scents, emotion, they linger.”
“I can feel it,” Jono admitted, “All around me. It’s no imprint, it’s strong.”
“It was really scared,” Dylan added, “Be careful. Keep listening. You be the ears; I’ll be the eyes.”
“The perfect team,” Jono loved how Dylan included him, as opposed to keeping him safe firmly away from the action.
They stepped out of the road and into the forest, the trees immediately shadowing them from the sunlight. They had spent a lot of time in the forest over the previous year, but it never made Jono feel any more at ease; too much of it was a mystery for him to feel comfortable.
Moving through the forest, Jono kept his focus on his hearing and nothing else. However, nothing much of note was around. Birds tweeted and twigs crackled, but Jono couldn’t hear anyone other than himself or Dylan.
“Anything?” Jono questioned, hoping Dylan was having more luck.
“Nope,” Dylan responded, “They’re long gone, but I don’t know.”
“You feel more scared now, don’t you?” Jono mentioned, feeling the hairs on his arms stood on end.
“Yup, like we’re getting nearer and nearer,” Dylan agreed, before pausing, stopping abruptly in his tracks, “Don’t look down.”
Despite Dylan’s warning, Jono couldn’t help himself. He glanced onto the ground. Immediately, Jono had to turn back away. It was an eye. A solitary human eye on the ground, looking directly at him.
“It’s from the body, it has to be,” Dylan realised.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jono suggested, wanting to get as far away as possible. Something abhorrent was going on, and Jono felt certain that they would be seeing more of whoever, or whatever, had done this.
Feeling a little embarrassed, Josh had overslept and woken up to a concerned Yasmin yelling at him to wake up. This had left him with only a few moments to spruce himself up for the party, when Yasmin had clearly spent hours making herself look more gorgeous and glamorous than usual.
He already felt a little inadequate, not being able to pick Yasmin up from her house and take her to the party himself. He was still learning to drive, but he wasn’t insured on Caroline’s car, so she understandably yet annoyingly wouldn’t let him drive it. Though it was the 21st century, and it was important for both halves of a couple to be equal, Josh felt a little chivalry wouldn’t have hurt anybody.
“It’s not like you to nap,” Yasmin queried, driving them both to Lily’s house.
“I know,” Josh tried thinking back to what he did before the nap, but he couldn’t think. He had no recollection of lying on his bed, and weirdly, he wasn’t even under the duvet. He didn’t even remember coming home from school.
“Is everything okay?” Yasmin wondered, “You seem out of sorts.”
“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for years,” Josh opened up, “I have no idea what’s happened in the past few hours.”
“I tried calling you. I waited for you after school, but you never came,” Yasmin explained, “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“I don’t feel okay,” Josh continued, “I feel…different, and I don’t know why. I don’t remember falling asleep, and I don’t remember leaving school.”
“That was only a few hours ago,” Yasmin seemed perplexed, “Were you feeling okay earlier?”
“Fine,” Josh admitted, “Great in fact.”
Josh had nothing more to say, he just had to keep his eyes peeled and keep racking his brain. Whatever he did, it must have been in there somewhere.
In the meantime, Josh stared out of the window. Suddenly, he spotted a familiar face. An impossible face. She wasn’t just one face, either. She was every face along the busy Crystalshaw town street. She was looking directly at him.
2: Visions Written by MarthaJonesFan
Panting like mad, Dylan safely shut his bedroom door behind himself and Jono. Only now was he starting to calm down and feel secure. The fear of the corpse was unlike anything else he had felt. His skin felt too tight, he couldn’t sit still, and he was constantly on the verge of tears. Whatever happened to it must have been so awful for this amount of fear to still be lingering.
“This is too creepy,” Jono breathed a huge sigh of relief, “That was a fucking eye, Dyl.”
“I know,” Dylan shared his relief, “Someone’s leaving us a trail, and I don’t like it.”
“Do you think it’s a trap?” Jono queried, both of them trying to squeeze as much information out of the situation as they could.
“Definitely,” Dylan replied. He was pretty certain this was all calculated perfectly. One thing he had learnt about the supernatural world was that nothing ever happened by coincidence.
“So what next? We can’t keep following, we can’t talk to Ed, we’re screwed,” Jono began to stress. His eyes glowed yellow; his emotions were getting the better of him.
“Jono, take my hands,” Dylan instructed. He took both of Jono’s hands himself, instantly feeling a sharp pain shooting through his hands. Jono’s claws had shot out and were digging into Dylan’s skin. Dylan winced, trying to keep himself composed, “Find your anchor.”
Jono was fully shifted. His usual clean-shaven face was covered in hair and his perfect teeth had become razor-sharp fangs. This wasn’t Dylan’s first time seeing Jono as a werewolf, but it never felt any more normal.
“Look at me, Jono. Remember me, it’s Dylan,” he encouraged. Jono made eye contact, looking as if he’d had a sudden realisation. He began to calm down, his face slowly but surely shifting back to its usual cute, naïve state, and his claws retracted, much to Dylan’s relief.
“I’m sorry,” Jono looked broken, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Then stay with me, because I do,” Dylan kept his grip on Jono’s hands, “Doesn’t Lily have her party tonight?”
“I can’t go, not like this,” Jono immediately rejected.
“It’s Lily’s big night. Let’s show our faces for ten minutes,” Dylan encouraged, “Then sneak up to the treehouse.”
Jono’s concern lifted. Dylan didn’t especially want to socialise at the party either, but this was their perfect excuse to spend a night together.
As Josh arrived at Lily’s house, the party was already in full swing. Music was pumping out of the wide-open front door, and Lily’s driveway was swamped with all sorts of vehicles – some flashier than others.
Linking arms with Yasmin, Josh decided to put the previous confusion behind him. No matter what, they were both still attending the party, and there was no use dwelling when he couldn’t do anything to fix whatever had gone wrong. Yasmin was his number one focus – it was important that she had the best time possible.
“Hey, welcome,” Lily beamed, playing the role of party host as brilliantly as always. She looked stunning in her stylish red dress and heels, with her cropped waves resting on top of her shoulders.
“You got Drew here? At a party?” Yasmin was impressed, spotting Drew filling up his glass in the kitchen.
“Nobody misses my parties,” Lily looked smug and more confident than she had in a while. George joined her by her side. She looked like she had won in life, and she was only nineteen.
Josh glanced past Lily and into the kitchen. She was there again. The nightmarish face of Clara. She had been a permanent feature of his mind ever since he became the alpha, and she was the demand he had fought so hard to bury. Now he couldn’t avoid her. All his work had been for nothing.
“Hey, Josh,” a voice interrupted. Zoning back into the group, Josh saw the newly-arrived Freddie trying to grab his attention, “Everything okay?”
Josh didn’t reply. It wasn’t the right moment to launch into an explanation, but he didn’t want to lie either.
“Let’s go chat,” Freddie suggested. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so easy to sweep under the rug after all.
Scanning the room, Drew was on red alert. He was hoping to spot the distinctive dirty-blonde curls of Brett, ready to probe his memory. He must have seen something at the school gate the previous night, but why hadn’t he said anything? Brett was in-the-know, and he was basically part of he pack. It was his duty now.
Lily came to join him, emerging from the crowd with Yasmin in tow. Drew didn’t lose his focus on finding Brett, though. The amount of people in Lily’s house was pretty huge, making it difficult to spot even someone as tall as Brett.
“Explain again, I’m lost,” Yasmin requested, coming into Drew’s earshot.
“Monty went missing for three hours yesterday, we think Brett might know something,” Lily repeated, filling her glass with some more wine. Drew preferred to stick to the cola – werewolf bodies healed too quickly to get tipsy anyway.
“Brett? For real? He barely knows his own name,” Yasmin seemed shocked.
“Found him,” Drew noticed him enter the living room, “Meet me in your room, I’ll grab him.” Immediately, he pursued Brett, pushing through the crowd of humans who collectively had no spatial awareness.
“Brett,” Drew called up.
“Hey dude, didn’t think you’d be coming,” a jolly Brett replied. He was already a little drunk.
“Can I have a word?” Drew raised his voice, competing with the overbearing volume of the thudding bassline.
“Drew mate, you’re not really my type,” Brett laughed.
“Give it up,” Drew groaned, grabbing Brett by the collar and dragging him back through the crowd to the stairs. He knew his basketball teammate could be an idiot, but Drew had no time to waste.
Though he couldn’t deny just how great Lily was at throwing a party, Jono never enjoyed seeing his house full to the brim. At even the best of times, Jono had grown to prefer the peace and quiet of his own home as opposed to the claustrophobic dancefloors and late nights of parties.
Thankfully, Dylan felt much the same. Their nights together watching The Society on Netflix were far better than any party they had attended. He was craving one of those nights after the day he had just had.
“Your parents would go crazy if they saw this,” Dylan commented, seeing the mess already found outside the house.
“They know what happens when they go away, it’s hard to avoid the cheap replacements Lily finds in the thrift store the day after,” Jono mentioned, passing a broken family photo frame, “Anything valuable gets locked up before they go.”
“I couldn’t do that,” Dylan admitted. Jono understood – he got attached a lot more easily.
“Did you look into that diagnosis?” Jono queried.
“I want to get it,” Dylan replied, “It would be good to know for sure, but it doesn’t seem easy to get.”
“I see,” Jono nodded understandingly. He felt pretty bad for Dylan. Jono had read up on autism – lacking social skills, sensitive to light and sound, obsessive over interests; it described Dylan almost too well. However, it seemed like a long-winded process to get a diagnosis, “Well, we’ll tell our kids to have their parties somewhere else.”
Jono watched as Dylan’s sullen expression morphed into a beaming smile. He looked excited by Jono’s thought – the future was something they discussed from time-to-time, but it clearly meant a lot for Dylan to know that Jono had his back no matter what.
Inside the house, Jono was immediately met with the claustrophobic crowd he disliked intensely. He barely recognised anybody, either. Perhaps they were people he hadn’t noticed from around school? Doubtful, some of them looked at least double his age. Lily wouldn’t care, though; her party was a rip-roaring success.
“Drink?” Jono offered to Dylan, hoping the kitchen would be a bit quieter.”
“Definitely,” Dylan looked relieved. Sure enough, the kitchen was that little bit more tranquil, much to the relief of them both.
“Are you coping okay?” Dylan enquired, filling a glass with rosé wine; always his drink of choice.
“Yeah, trying not to think about it,” Jono admitted, “Trying to keep my brain busy.”
“I don’t get a choice, my brain is always busy,” Dylan opened up, “It’s hard to keep up with it.”
“That sounds exhausting,” Jono realised, “I can just about handle one train of thought.”
“Same,” Dylan chuckled, “You make it easy. Nobody’s ever understood me like you have.”
Jono felt touched. He knew he and Dylan had a connection like no other, but this was one of the loveliest things anyone had ever said to him. It meant the world.
“I love you, forever and always,” Jono quoted one of his favourite Taylor Swift songs as he tried and failed to keep his happy tears hidden.
“I love you too, silly,” Dylan wiped the tears away, gently caressing Jono’s cheek. It felt so cute; Jono couldn’t believe he had only known Dylan for little over a year. He could never go back to life without him – it simply made no sense.
Sat side-by-side on Jono’s bed, Freddie was determined to get to the bottom of whatever was consuming Josh. He seemed like his usual self at school, so this turn felt very sudden. Obviously, something had happened between school ending and the party beginning.
“I’m sorry, I’m a wreck,” Josh looked on the verge of tears.
“That’s nothing new,” Freddie jested, trying to raise the mood. Josh raised a smile – Freddie knew him better than anyone, including just how to cheer him up, “Tell me, maybe I can help.”
“Clara,” Josh simply said. That was a name Freddie was hoping to never hear again. Everything she put the pack through. Everything she put Josh through. It was unforgivable.
“She’s dead, Josh, remember?” Freddie carefully nudged, unsure of the exact reason she was being brought up.
“I know, but I saw her. On the way here. At the party. She’s following me,” Josh explained.
“She can’t be,” Freddie tried to keep his head in reality.
“I know what I saw,” Josh defended. Freddie wasn’t sure what to say. He knew Josh wouldn’t lie about something like that, but he also knew that Josh couldn’t possibly have seen Clara. The supernatural world was weird, but surely not that weird?
“What’s brought this on?” Freddie wondered. It felt unusually sudden.
“That’s just it, I don’t remember. I can’t remember a thing from this afternoon,” Josh continued, “I was at school, in class, then the next thing I knew, I woke up in bed. What’s happening to me, Freddie?”
“I don’t know,” Freddie was stumped. He hadn’t seen anything like this before, but it was clearly not having a positive impact on Josh’s state of mind, “But we can figure it out. Us two, Dylan, Jono, all of the others. In the meantime, I need you to hold it together. You’ve coped with much worse, remember? You’re strong, and I believe in you.”
Josh nodded. Freddie felt pretty proud of his pep talk, and obviously it was working.
Interrupting the moment, the door swung open. Jono blundered in, blissfully unaware, before grinding to a halt, clocking eyes awkwardly with Freddie.
“Oh, sorry,” Jono apologised, backing out.
“No, it’s okay,” Josh grabbed his attention, “We need your help.”
Freddie smiled proudly at him. Thank goodness he was getting the help he needed.
Thus far, Yasmin’s evening hadn’t even remotely gone to plan. She was expecting a fun night of unwinding with her friends, proudly showing off Josh on her arm, and forgetting about day-to-day life for a few hours.
Instead, Josh was having some sort of breakdown, and Drew and Lily had roped her into their latest amateur detective mission, which somehow involved Brett, the biggest douche in junior year. He was sat on Lily’s bed while the three of them stood facing him, proving who was in control.
Despite her confusion, Yasmin was also very intrigued. Monty’s amnesia seemed to tie in with Josh’s, but she needed a few more details before blurting that out. Now was her chance to learn.
“What the heck is going on?” Brett questioned, having chugged down a full litre of water, “Is this more of that werewolf shit? I said I was sorry.”
“We know, but we need to ask you something,” Lily explained, keeping the situation as calm as she possibly could.
“Spit it out,” Brett rudely demanded. Yasmin was getting sick of him and his attitude. She grabbed him by the neck, holding him as firmly as she could.
“I suggest you co-operate, because if you don’t, I will drain every last drop of the water you just drank back out of your body, through your nose. Is that clear?” Yasmin played the role of bad cop. Drew usually did that, but he was being surprisingly tame instead. Yasmin would never have said it to his face, but she believed Allyn had softened him slightly.
“Alright,” Brett agreed, “What do you want to know?” Yasmin loosened her grip.
“Yesterday, straight after school,” Drew began, “You were stood outside the school gates.”
“Are you stalking me now?” Brett interrupted. Yasmin clutched his neck again, “Alright, I’ll be quiet.” Yasmin released him for what she hoped would be the last time.
“Did you see anyone? Anything out of the ordinary?” Drew continued.
“Err, I don’t think so,” Brett responded uselessly, “I saw that kid with the long hair, Monty.”
“Anything else? Dude, this is important,” Drew continued to probe.
“He was with his boyfriend, he said hi to me, but Monty wasn’t there anymore. I assumed he went a different way,” Brett detailed.
“Noah was there?” Lily was surprised.
“He didn’t mention anything,” Drew added, “He knew nothing about Monty’s disappearance at all.”
“He disappeared?” Brett interjected, “Is he okay?”
“Fine, but someone or something took him, and left Noah,” Drew answered. Yasmin could see he was trying to piece everything together, but what they had heard so far kept adding to the confusion.
“Maybe it was that scientist guy?” Brett pondered. Immediately, alarm bells began ringing in Yasmin’s mind.
“What scientist guy?” Yasmin queried.
“He walked past, just before I saw Noah,” Brett replied, “I wasn’t paying attention, but he had one of those white lab coats on.”
Suddenly, Yasmin’s intrigue ramped up to maximum levels. This was too weird not to be connected. She needed to confer with Josh’s story.
Sticking around in the quietest part of the kitchen, Dylan was wondering where Jono had gotten to. He had nipped upstairs to change into a more suitable party outfit, but hadn’t returned in almost twenty minutes. Dylan was debating whether or not to go and find him.
His eyes scanned the party – what he could see of it from the most distant point of the kitchen anyway. Weirdly, there wasn’t a single one of his friends in sight; even Lily herself was nowhere to be seen. That said, Dylan had noticed a wasted Sammi grinding between two senior year guys. Somehow, he wasn’t shocked.
Finally, to his relief, Dylan found a familiar face in the hallway.
“Freddie!” Dylan called out, grabbing his attention.
“Hey, there you are,” Freddie pulled up a stool and sat next to Dylan at the breakfast bar.
“Is everybody hiding from me?” Dylan chuckled.
“Yeah, you caught me so I’m eliminated,” Freddie went along with the joke, “No, I came looking for you. Shit’s going down upstairs.”
“Huh? What’s going on?” Dylan immediately began to panic. After everything he had seen that day, his mind was on red alert.
“Long story, but we need you. You’re the only person who can do this, apparently,” Freddie reasoned unconvincingly. He didn’t seem to have any idea what was going on either.
“Do what?” Dylan was getting more and more confused. He was hoping to have a chilled night after the day he’d had, not get further wrapped up in supernatural drama.
“Josh can’t remember anything this afternoon. Something happened to him, Dylan, and I’m worried. He wants you to help him find out, and he can show you how,” Freddie explained.
“What? How can I do that?” Dylan had no idea what Freddie was hoping he would do, “There’s so much weird shit happening, Freddie, and I think it’s only just beginning.”
“What have you seen?” Freddie could clearly tell something was up. Dylan felt scared even thinking about the corpses from before. The fear he felt was strongly present in his memories. He was on the verge of tears just thinking about it – as if he were on the edge of a cliff about to be pushed.
“A body, decapitated more or less. You could feel the fear miles away, even though it was dead,” Dylan detailed, his hands shaking. He noticed Freddie was listening intently. They both needed each other.
“Use that fear you can feel to help fight back, because Josh is scared too, and he needs his alpha. He needs his brother, because I know damn well I’d need mine in a time like this,” Freddie reasoned. Dylan nodded. Freddie was right. Dylan had a responsibility.
Josh hadn’t moved from the side of Jono’s bed. In fact, he didn’t want to. He felt safer away from the crowds. Away from the possibility of seeing Clara’s fearsome face again. Even the thought of her name made Josh feel anxious, on-edge, and quite frankly disgusted. Without her interference, he wouldn’t have been so damn messed up.
That said, Josh couldn’t deny that so many good things had come from the chaos. He met Jono and Freddie – his best friends. He met Yasmin – the light at the end of ever dark tunnel he faced. Most importantly, he met Dylan – the only one who truly made him strive to become after person. He needed Dylan to look for his memories for him, because he was the only one careful enough, and who cared enough, to carry out this difficult task properly.
“Where is he?” Josh wondered, feeling impatient.
“He’s coming, Dylan wouldn’t abandon you,” Jono was sat by his side, keeping him calm.
“You’re so lucky,” Josh commented, “You found your someone. Someone to trust and rely on. I wish I had that.”
“You’ve got Yasmin, dude,” Jono reminded.
“Yeah, and I screwed that up without even knowing it,” Josh sighed. He felt deflated and fed up. Things had gone from the best they had ever been, straight back to square one.
“Isn’t that for me to decide?” Yasmin interrupted, stood in the doorway without Josh noticing.
“Sneaking up on me,” Josh raised a smile. He was so pleased she was willing to talk to him.
“Are you okay?” Yasmin wondered.
“I will be,” Josh replied, raising a smile, “And I promise I’ll make it up to you when I am.”
“You better,” Yasmin teased. Josh laughed, before spotting Dylan behind her. He had finally arrived.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Dylan approached, stopping in front of the bed, “I can’t lie, I’m pretty terrified about what’s about to happen.”
“It’s okay, I’ve done this loads before,” Josh assured him. He took Dylan’s right hand and placed it on his neck, “Release your class.” He felt the gentle sensation of the tip of Dylan’s thumb claws scratch against the hairs on his neck.
“What are you doing?” Yasmin looked concerned.
“Getting back what’s mine,” Josh replied, “When I say go, you need to press into my neck with your claws and keep totally still. If either of us move, I’m dead.”
“Got it,” a nervous Dylan responded.
“Okay, now,” Josh commanded, taking a deep breath. Instantly, he felt the harsh claws pinch into his skin. Josh froze on the spot. He focused his mind, feeling Dylan trundling around through the depths of Josh’s mind, searching for the memories he so desperately wanted.
Inside the deepest sections of Josh’s mind, it felt like Dylan was unlocking the most dusty and buried doors. All sorts came flooding back that Josh had kept away for so long. Clara. Clarissa. His parents. So much pain.
Then, suddenly, there it was. In the farthest corner of his memories. Hidden and disguised so that he couldn’t find it. Josh saw the white coats. The needles. The medical equipment. The ghastly plain walls. The clinical scent of hand sanitiser.
Dylan withdrew. Josh snapped back into the room. It felt like his mind had been blown.
“Did you see it?” Josh frantically asked, “The people in white.”
“Yes,” Dylan looked startled, as if he had seen a ghost. Josh remembered it all now, and instead of finding peace in knowing the truth, he now felt even more scared than before.
Re-joining the party, Lily felt satisfied that Brett hadn’t been a total waste of space for a change. He had provided them a lead, and even though they still knew very little about who or what this scientist was, it was some level of progress. Quite honestly, Lily found herself pretty horrified by the thought of the scientist – the convenient amnesia, the calculated CCTV disruption, and the after-effects the victims had already experienced.
On the bright side, her party was a massive success. The music hadn’t stopped the drinks kept flowing. Even though it was a school night, people were still getting wasted as if they had a chance to sleep off their inevitable hangover.
“You did it,” George found Lily as soon as she stepped into the front room, “I’m sorry for doubting you, baby.”
“I did,” Lily repeated, filled with pride. She knew she could – and it was her best party yet.
Shockingly, Lily heard a scream. Then another. And another. A chorus of screaming and shouting followed as the crowd began racing towards the door. Lily was confused, and instantly a little furious. What had happened? What was ruining her party so suddenly?
Pushing against the tide, Lily forced her way into the living room. Immediately, she noticed exactly what was causing the fuss. Draped over what used to be her coffee table, now a pile of shattered glass mixed with the broken window adjacent, was a corpse. It was brutal, and absolutely horrible to look at.
“What the hell is that?” George asked, repulsed. Lily felt the light hairs on her arms standing up. She was terrified.
“An experiment gone wrong,” Lily theorised. She couldn’t take her eyes off of it, even though it was the most awful sight she had ever seen. It looked like their skin had simmered and burnt, almost liquidated against its organs and skeleton.
“What’s going on?” Dylan rushed in, hearing the commotion.
“They were here,” Lily replied. Immediately, Dylan raced out of the front door. Lily followed – whoever did this, she had to see them.
Rushing into the front garden, Lily saw Dylan sprinting off after a person in a white coat. The scientist was there, and Dylan was heading straight towards them.