[Day 1: A Little Out of the Ordinary]
When Nick opened his eyes, the first thing he realized was that he couldn’t lift his head. His face was pressed against a cold, flat surface, and he could tilt his neck just enough to scrape his cheek against the stone floor. But his body felt like it weighed a hundred times its usual weight. His skull was an anvil, his pulse a hammer pounding inside it.
He must have made some noise or motion to indicate he was awake because he heard his name being called out.
It took him a moment to recognize Jacob’s voice.
He tried to return the favor and say Jacob’s name, but all that escaped him was a sigh. His chest rose and fell slowly with languid breaths.
His hand twitched. He could feel it outstretched in front of him, but the rest of him still felt heavy and numbed. The world was bathed in red, and his skin looked like a bruise.
He blinked, and it was only when he opened his eyes again that he realized he had drifted for an indeterminate amount of time. Everything faded in and out, his mind becoming liquid.
His veins created a dark web across the bruised violet of his skin. Something was lodged in his throat, and he pushed and pushed.
“That’s it. That’s it, buddy. Come on. Nick. Stay with me.”
He groaned. The tips of his fingers tingled with renewed feeling. He flexed his hand.
“Don’t touch the bars,” Jacob’s voice warned. “They’ll fucking electrocute you.”
Nick pushed another noise out. “Wh… what….”
He was tired. Unnaturally tired. This was a jet-lag tired. This wasn’t an all-nighter tired. This wasn’t even a double-dose melatonin tired.
“You…” Jacob paused. “You were… you were something else, man. Some kind of animal. And then, suddenly, there was this burst of blood and… And then, you were you again. But you’ve been knocked out. I think you got tranq’d or something. And uh… well, we’re sort of trapped… in some kind of cell in a basement… by some old guys and hunters or something… the same guys who tranq’d you. And who captured me out in the woods.”
Just hearing all those words wore Nick out, much less actually trying to process them. His eyes slid shut again.
“Nick. Nick. Nick.”
He didn’t respond this time. Everything felt like it was moving through molasses. His thready heartbeat grew sluggish. His breathing began to mimic that slow pattern that preempted sleep. Sound became muffled.
“Nick, I really think you should stay awake, man. I’m pretty sure whatever they used on you was meant for… whatever you were a few minutes ago. You should probably stay awake until they come back for us.”
What Jacob wasn’t saying was “I don’t think the tranquilizer is supposed to be having this much effect on you at this point, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you died here.”
Nick didn’t hear the words unspoken nor did he heed Jacob’s warning. He simply drifted.
[Day 2: Nowhere to Run]
Jacob started yelling. “Help! Hey, someone help us!”
Nick had stopped responding, stopped moving, stopped breathing for all Jacob knew. Jacob didn’t care how helpless he sounded as he called out; he felt ten times more helpless.
He wanted to pound on the bars of his cell to make more noise, or else to grab and try to shake them loose somehow, but electrocuting himself wouldn’t help Nick. He wanted to pace, restless as a caged animal, but the wound in his leg protested even the slightest movement. He could only sit there and cry out for help.
“Hey, fuckers! You’d better come down here. I don’t care how many connections you have with the police. Murdering a dude would not be good for you guys!”
Jacob strained his ears. He could just make out voices and other noises coming from some distant part of the house. He was focusing so intently that he flinched when he heard the gunshot, even though it was nothing more than a faint pop.
On the off-chance that it had been friendly faces firing the gun, he set aside all hostilities. “Someone, help us! Please! We need help down here!”
Nick still hadn’t stirred.
The ball of dread that was building in the pit of Jacob’s stomach only loosened when he heard footsteps thundering overhead and moving toward where he knew the stairwell was. When Ryan’s face appeared in the entranceway to the basement, Jacob could have collapsed from relief.
“Ryan, thank Christ. Nick… he’s… I don’t know what happened… he just transformed from… whatever he was, but he’s not doing good. You’ve gotta help him.”
Ryan was already at the breaker box when Laura and a man wearing a police uniform entered the basement. As soon as all of the cell doors were uncharged and opened, Ryan rushed to Nick’s side, and with Laura’s help, Jacob followed.
“He’s breathing,” Ryan said as everyone gathered in Nick’s cell. “He’s not waking up though.”
Even under the red glow of the overhead lights, Nick looked pale. His lips were tinted with blue, and his veins were a dark contrast against the rest of his skin.
“Let’s take him upstairs,” the man in the police uniform said. “We should have some emergency adrenaline.”
Jacob raised an eyebrow. “And that’s supposed to fix him?”
“No,” the man said. “But it’ll keep him going long enough for us to kill the White Wolf and for emergency services to arrive.”
Jacob couldn’t argue with that, so he limped after the rest of them out of the cell and upstairs. Ryan had Nick’s arm slung across his shoulders, Laura held a shotgun at the ready, and the man in the uniform led the way through the Hackett house.
“Who’s the White Wolf?” Jacob asked Laura after they had reached the bathroom. The man was searching through the medicine cabinet, and Ryan was checking over Nick’s vitals, leaving Jacob with nothing to do but worry.
Laura sighed, leaning against the doorframe. “It’s a long story. But basically, the White Wolf was the first werewolf, and we have to kill him to ensure everyone is cured and no one else will be infected again.”
Before Jacob could come up with a response for that news, Nick gasped, eyes wide as the man removed the thin needle from his neck.