The night gave way to morning. The dark sky slowly shifted to a light gray as a red sun peaked over the horizon.
Had Slade and Miles not been paying so much attention to their footing as they walked down the line of box cars, they might have enjoyed watching a beautiful sunrise.
Miles stopped when he realized that inside his mind he was no longer alone.
“I surely do feel sorry for you young’uns.”
Realizing something was amiss, Slade stopped walking. As a human, he was oblivious to the conversation.
“I reckon some things will never change,” Zeke continued. “My grandpappy used to warn me about strife he’d been through but despite his best efforts he was never able to keep me from making the same mistakes he did.”
Miles sniffed the air. He put a paw on Slade and nudged him back a few feet.
“And you’re just like I was,” Zeke said. “It’s not enough to tell you that you’ll get an ass whupping. You actually need to experience the whupping.”
“Miles,” Slade said. “What’s the hold up?”
Slade’s question was answered when a furry gray fist punched through the metal roof just in front of him.
A second paw emerged and a hole was torn until it was large enough for Zeke to emerge in all his gray, mangy glory.
Zeke hauled his arm back and socked Miles in the face, sending the young werewolf flying backwards.
Slade was about to come to his friend’s aid when Zeke’s two henchwolves popped out of the hole.
“Know your role, boy!” Zeke said as he tromped towards Miles. “The alpha leads and the pack follows. That’s the way it’s always been and it’s the way it will always be.”
Groans and snarls bellowed out of the hole in the roof. Hands, feet and other body parts poked out. The zombies had been packed to the roof and they were itching to get their mitts on Slade’s brain.
One henchwolf lunged at Slade only to take a silver tipped bullet straight to the head. The beast’s carcass fell into the open hole which led to a symphony of crunching bones and unruly growls as the zombies in the boxcar had their fill.
The second henchwolf was more wily. He knocked Slade down and dragged him close to the open roof, preparing to toss his victim into the zombie infested box car so he could be eaten alive.
Slade found himself in an unenviable predicament. A werewolf’s loathsome sharp teeth filled face was hovering over him, dropping drool all over his face. Meanwhile, zombie hands were reaching out of the hole, desperately trying to grab onto any piece of flesh they could find.
Blam! Slade blew the henchwolf’s brains out then scrambled away just in time to avoid being flattened by the enormous carcass.
Zombie hands felt around until they gripped the deceased henchwolf’s foot and dragged him into the pit. The car rocked as the zombies fought over all that werewolf meat.
Slade stood up and turned around. Zeke had wrapped his paw around Miles’ throat and had lifted the young werewolf into the air. Miles was kicking his feet to and fro, struggling with his hands to free himself to no avail.
“Miles!” Slade shouted. “Just be yourself!”
The young werewolf shot a confused look at Slade, annoyed at what he thought was a sappy sentiment.
Slade gripped his pistol by the end and hauled his arm back. “No! Be…your…self!!!”
“Did you honestly think a pathetic little whelp like you could ever challenge an alpha king?” Zeke asked. “Swear your allegiance to me this instant or I’ll tear you apart!”
Miles transformed into his normal boy form. His body became so small that he slipped right out of Zeke’s grip. Before the King could figure out what to do, Slade tossed his pistol.
The boy caught it. He pointed it at Zeke’s head, pulled the trigger, and the King fell dead.
“Sorry,” Miles said. “But I’m a Freeman.”