|NOTE||CSX 2017 For Wanderer|
|This story is Copyright by David Ihnen. Please do not distribute without permission.|
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He was trying to navigate beneath a flying chair and out of the way of the incoming bouncer when something grabbed his arm hard. He tried to yank it away but failed. He slapped blindly and impacted something - with that distraction he was able to twist out of the viscious grip.
In the harsh lights of the kitchen, his shirt sleeve was ruined - and his arm was solidly bruised and oozing some blood. He methodically washed the wound at the kitchen sink and put a bandage on it. By the time he took care of that, he was drafted into ferrying the broken furniture out to the dumpster and the night was over.
Charles tossed his apron onto the passenger seat as he slid behind the wheel of his jalopy, sighing with the relief of getting his weight off his feet at last. It had been a hectic six hours bustling between the kitchen and main floor at his main job, a breakfast and lunch restaurant in yet another strip mall. But that was done for the time being. The radio station turned on some chill swing as he pulled out into traffic. Two hours before he had to be back onsite at his second gig - relief waiter at the nightclub. If he was lucky, he could even get a nap in.
He rolled up his sleeve to pick absently at the itching scab on his forearm as he drove. The bruise hadn't been as bad as he thought initially, and it was healing rapidly. His eye was caught by the moon as the freeway led over a rise. His mouth gaped as it seemed to expand to fill his entire view. It was so beautiful, it made his heart beat fit to bust out of his chest. It needed some poetry!
The moon was eclipsed by a flying car... well, minivan. It wasn't really flying, exactly - more tumbling end over end. Its headlights blazed into his eyes before the front end of it slammed down into the hood of his jalopy, driving the engine into the pavement. The airbag went off, and everything got very loud and confusing.
Charles smiled at the beautiful moon, then frowned and struggled as it was eclipped by a brilliant red light, then the gentle light of an ambulance roof. "Hey bud, you're gonna be okay." said a voice. A strong hand - wearing a rubber glove? patted his arm. His head was immobilized by a neck brace of some sort. He blinked and swiveled his eyes to the medic. Shit, how long had he been out?
"What?" he asked. "What time is it?"
"Quarter to eight." the medic said. He was a friendly looking young man, busily hooking up a automatic sphygnomanometer to his arm. "No worries, we'll have you to the hospital in a jiffy. You can call me Mike. You're quite the hero, they say."
Charles tried to move, but was quite firmly restrained. "Hero? hat are you talking about?"
"There's a whole family back there." he explained, "Told us you rescued them from the minivan. Fantastic story. You ripped the door off and everything. By the time we arrived on scene, it was a blazing inferno."
Charled blinked at him blankly. "Mike, I don't know anything about that. Look. I have a shift in a bit over an hour." he explained, "I don't have time for this."
Mike smiled lopsidedly. "You're probably not going to make your shift, not tonight." he said, "we've got to get you checked out. That was a pretty nasty accident you were in."
Charles sighed. "Alright, at least tell me what hospital we're going to."
"Thank Luna." he sighed. Not even sure why he said that. "I work just a block from there."
The triage nurse sent him straight to a room. After a few minutes a nurse and an orderly arrived to give him the once over. They cut the shredded remains of his clothes off him. Dressed him in a hospital gown, drew blood, inspected him thoroughly, asked him lots of questions - some he knew "birthdate" and others he had no answer to, "how did your clothes get shredded?". He could move just fine anyway, not even his neck hurt.
Left alone to ruminate after the flurry of activity, he was just about to stand up and walk out of the place when a porter arrived with a doctor. He popped up the bed walls and started pushing him through the hallways of the hospital.
"You're being admitted for observation." the doctor explained on the way, "Your blood work showed a problem."
"What problem?" Charles demanded, squinting at the doctor. He was pretty sure he was lying. "I feel fine. Fit as a fiddle. I have a shift in twenty minutes just up the block. I can't afford the hospital. I work as a waiter, man, I don't even have health insurance! Just give me some clothes and I"m out of here!"
There was a poke of pain in his arm and he looked at the doctor in suprise. Everything went black.
Charles woke up and wriggled. Strapped down. He looked around. He sighed melodramatically. It had finally happened - they put him in a padded room. Strapped down. At last. He had always said it was merely a matter of time.
But he had a shift, and those tables won't wait themselves. And more importantly, those tips won't collect themselves.
He flexed his arms against the restraints. If he could just get out of here... They creaked as he strained against them, his heart beating faster. Like when he saw the moon this evening. That poetic moon. He remembered a poem. He recited it to the room.
Under the moon
Without any light of its own
The moon shines nightly;
Silently, but brightly.
He closed his eyes, remembering that moment. It was so beautiful! Silent, bright...
And what a sight.
The morning almost comes
You have more power than the moon.
His arms burned, the restraints tightened around his wrists. He looked down at an arm bulging with muscle, thick cords of it painfully constrained by the cuff. Fur was sprouting along his arm, first fuzzy like a puppy, then longer guard hairs pressing out. He huffed, inhaling deeply as the intense heat spread throuh his shoulders and neck, his chest. The hospital gown stretched taut around his burning pecs.
"rrrrrRRRRRRRRR" he vocalized as his throat burned, growling as his face caught fire. His mouth filled and he gasped, lolling a long tongue. His nose pressed out with disturbing cartiliginous pops that reverberated in his skull. His heart hammered, he writhed enough to free a tail that whapped powerfully against the bed, his thighs doubling in size in seconds, his bare feet lengthening into paws.
The restraints creaked. He flexed his arms again. The restraints groaned, snapped free. More power than the moon, indeed. He kicked against the leg restraint, but rather than the strap snapping, a piece of the bed broke off. He easily pulled his ankle up to his mmouth and wedged a powerful canine beneath the ankle restraint. A quick chew and it parted, falling away. The other leg similarly freed, he advanced on the door. It was curiously small, the top slightly below his eye level.
He tried the door in a massive paw, the handle resisted. He tightened his grip and twisted. The knob crumpled and snapped, coming off in his hand. He shrugged and pushed against the door. It was strong, but flexed in the wall at his harder press. He backed up across the room for some acceleration, bounded forward and threw his shoulder at the door. The entire frame and the door together toppled onto the floor in a shower of plaster dust.
He stood panting in the doorway, now wide and tall enough for him to get through without ducking or turning to the side. A nurses station faced him with several very startled looking people around it.
"Holy shit!" said one of them.
"I knew it!" exclaimed an older man, emerging from an office door, "I saw it in the blood work!"
What Charles the werewolf was seeing, however, was the EXIT sign glowing over the stairwell door. He headed for it, shoved the bar but it was locked. Next to the access keypad was a fire alarm. This wall might not be so weak.
"No, don't go!" the doctor said, hurrying down the hallway after him, "Just tell me about it!"
Charles pulled the fire alarm, snapping the glass dowel in it easily. Lights started flashing, and the red light on the access pad turned green. He was bounding down the stairs before the doctor got halfway to him.
The fire stairs opened onto a loading dock. He loped around the hospital and up the street, intent on his destination. Cars honked, tires screeched. He ran in the moonlight, his paws pounding the pavement. Such a rush! But there was a need building in him, swelling in his chest and heart. The moon had been catching his eye.
He jumped up onto a van, then from there to the top of a one story strip mall building. He paused there out of the glare of the street lamps with a massive paw on a air conditioning unit, muzzle raised to the brilliant moon overhead.
He sang into the night. It resonated powerfully, he could even feel his whiskers vibrating. But enough howling. He noticed the time on the church tower. He was due for his shift!
He leapt down, racing down the block to the club. He swung around back and pulled open the kitchen door without noticing it was locked. Something metallic pinged off into the night.
The walk-in cooler door was open. Somebody was rattling around inside noisily.
"Yo, that you Charlie?" the voice came from inside, followed by a loud clank and a curse. "Dammit! We need more Bud and more Heiff, AND another charge. Fetch'm up from the basement, wouldja?"
Charles huffed, and headed down the stairs to the basement where the kegs were stored. Being a big strong werewolf made it easy to pick up the heavy tanks. He tucked the carbon cylinder under his arm, grabbed a keg in each hand, and leapt up the stairs in three steps. He took them into the refrigerator where his boss was wrangling tubes.
He turned around and startled, falling back over one of the empty kegs.
"Holy shit!" He saw the kegs in the werewolf's hands, his eyes running up and down his body. "Uh, Charlie?"
Charles put down the kegs and set the cylinder next to them.
"Ye-es?" he answered. It came out alot more growly than he normally sounded, but had his usual lilt.
"You're not wearing any clothes."
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