High atop the town’s rickety old water tower, a massive, hairy, hulking beast observed Slade as he dozed. Black fur, dagger-like claws, a snout full of razor sharp teeth. Even at rest, the eight-foot tall creature’s breath was hot, even steamy.
The legends are true. Werewolves have lived amongst humanity for ages, blending in as humans when they can, hiding in the shadows in their alternative form when they’re unable to keep their inner beast at bay.
This one seemed rather interested in the church, having surveyed the property for several minutes. A half mile away in the distance, he saw a pair of red eyes similar to his own emerge above the courthouse. The being they were attached to drew closer, leaping from rooftop to rooftop until it too found a spot on the water tower to lay low.
What is the deadliest power a werewolf has in its personal arsenal? Its unmatched strength? Explosive temper? Incomprehensible speed?
All of these factors are palpable but many would argue that telepathic communication is what makes werewolves truly terrifying. Known to hunt in packs, they can sneak up right behind their prey and openly discuss their plans of attack inside their minds without making a sound.
“Is this the place, Pa?” the newly arrived werewolf asked.
“Doesn’t look like much.”
“A job’s a job, Miles.”
Miles wasn’t quite as large as his father, but he was still menacing and formidable. Gracefully, he and his father leaped from the tower and landed on their feet on the ground below. Almost in defiance of basic laws of physics, they barely made a sound.
“They’ll never accept us here,” Miles said.
“That’s up to you, son,” Pa replied. “Control the beast and maybe we can stop moving and settle down for a change.”
Pa carried a small pack on his back. He bit the shoulder strap with his teeth, werewolf hands being much too large to manipulate human objects. Opening his mouth allowed the pack to fall to the ground.
“That’s not what I meant,” Miles said.
Father and son morphed into human form. Pa was in his forties, strong and tall with a little bit of salt mixed into his peppery hair. Miles was fifteen. About six inches shy of six feet, he looked like he would have to get soaking wet to weight a hundred pounds. His ribs could have been played like a xylophone.
Underneath the water tower, the two very naked black men carried on their conversation. In human form, they weren’t able to communicate telepathically, so they used their mouths, as people have been known to do from time to time.
“I meant they’ll never be able to accept, ‘us.’”
To Miles, the older man was Pa. To the rest of the world, he was Joe. Joe Freeman. Joe rummaged through the pack, handed his son a pair of pants, then found his own and pulled them on.
“Well, that’s a bird of a very different feather, I reckon,” Joe said.
“Can’t we just live in the wild?” Miles asked.
“You can when you’re older if you want,” Joe replied. “Me, I’d rather have a bed to sleep on and a hot meal once in awhile.”
Miles buttoned up his shirt. “No one treats you like shit in the wild.”
Joe put his hat on. “I suppose not. But you know as bad as it is for black folk now, it’s a tiny bit better today than it was when I was your age.”
“So?” Miles asked.
Joe pulled on his boots. “So Lincoln made a law to set us free but there’s no law that can make people not treat us like shit,” Joe explained. “I was born a slave. You were born free. I doubt you or I will see it in our lifetimes but I like to think that one day someone in our line will become a successful, well-to-do man about town.”
“Yeah,” Miles said. “Keep dreaming.”
“Dreaming keeps me going,” Joe said. “It’ll take a long time. Maybe forever. But I hope if we keep going about our business and standing up for ourselves, one day folks won’t even care what skin color people are.”
Miles took a seat on the ground. He grabbed a stick and doodled pictures in the dirt.
“And fairies will sing, and unicorns will dance, and leprechauns will give us all pots of gold…”
“Oh Miles,” Joe said as he laid down on the ground. “You’re way too young to be this cynical. If you want to live on the range and chase rabbits like an animal when you’re grown I won’t stop you, but if you ask me, us removing ourselves from all the opportunities of the world is what the bad men of the world want us to do.”
Miles paused to admire a rudimentary castle he drew. “So what? We take the shit…”
With his eyes shut, Joe kept walking. “And your kid will take shit…and his kid will take shit…and all the kids going on down the line will take a lot of shit but…”
“What?” Miles asked.
“Someday a Freeman will do something big that will make all the shit worthwhile,” Joe said.
Miles traced the outline of a little knight just outside the castle wall. “And if that never happens?”
Joe became annoyed that his sleep was being disturbed. “I don’t know. Then we’re all shit out of luck. Go to sleep, will you?”