I was sitting downstairs in my basement office one night, quite at my leisure despite the extended hours, when low, hurried knocks came from the outer door. I glanced automatically at the torch set into the wall above the frame; it was dark and still. Not a stranger, then.
I opened the door to a swoop of rain and the moonlit silhouette of John Ashby, my cousin. I let him in immediately, of course, and he somehow managed a great deal of noise as he stumbled in past me to lean heavily against the exam table in the middle of the room, gasping for breath.
“What happened?” I demanded, very firmly, but without an edge of panic.
Through the gasps and groans, I managed to ascertain the gist of the story, which boiled down, frankly, to the dangerous effects of alcohol on a room full of bitter men when combined with John’s smart mouth and inability to quit when he was ahead.
“I think someone striped me,” he gasped, clutching his left shoulder. But there was not, in fact, any evidence of wand work.
“Fists of fury, I’m afraid, John,” I told him. “And someone skilled at dislocating shoulders, I imagine.”
“I’ll pay you back, Bishop, I promise,” he said.
“Certainly,” I said, gesturing for him to take off his coat, but I sincerely doubted his ability to pay back debt if he’d sustained these injuries by cheating at cards.
John just sat there staring at the floor and panting, most definitely not working on taking his coat off.
At that moment, the torch over the door ignited–but there was no accompanying knock.
“Did you cover your scent as you came?” I demanded in a furious whisper. Even drunk, it should’ve been second nature in a city full of werewolves.
“I’m sorry, mate,” John said.
When I looked back at him from my desk where I rooted around for a spare wand, he was already staring at me, and his eyes glinted with the gold-flecked blue of a wolf.
It came to me then, quite all at once, that his injuries weren’t from a bar fight, but the violent process of the change, and that what smelled like alcohol was actually the sour stench of a new wolf’s body rejecting its old human scent.
Though I knew better, I looked into his eyes as I absorbed this revelation. He let me. And when I accepted it, I looked away.
A knock came just then, a heavy, muffled sound as if done by a large, furred fist.
Today’s prompt is: ignite / fist / dislocated
If you’re just tuning in, I’ve challenged myself to write a little response to a prompt every day for the month of October. You can get the full rundown here, view the prompt list on my Instagram page here, and read my other responses here.
I had to do today’s in an incredible rush. I’m on my way to a hike but wanted to get my writing done before. So I got immediately out of bed and started right to work.
I think the rush helped, because it meant I had to make decisions quickly and couldn’t waffled over details.
I think this could’ve benefitted from a few more sensory details, but I like the progression of the piece, the turn at the end, and the overall atmosphere.
It’s something I wouldn’t mind revisiting in the future, actually.
What do y’all think?