Excerpt: Moon Chilled

My life isn’t the conventional type of thing you’d expect from someone my age. The twenty-three-year-old women on TV are nothing like me. I’ve never been to a party, don’t know the first thing about getting an education of any type, and my cell phone is a cheap prepaid thing that has barely enough money on it for one phone call. No, my life may not be the expectation of many, but for a werewolf, it’s just fine.

I stepped out of the small hunting cabin I was renting and into a chilly winter morning in the Colorado mountains. The cabin was barely big enough for the few pieces of furniture I had in it, none of which were mine. The human in me didn’t mind the lack of space, and the wolf part of me had no use for material things. She could make do in most situations, and the small cabin was only of benefit to the human. My wolf would likely prefer it if we never stopped long enough to need a cabin in the first place. She was practical like that, often reminding me that clothes and other things humans seemed to hoard were of no importance to the likes of us. After all, we had our life, and anything else was just gravy.

As a human, I walked the mile into town with the night’s frost clinging to my boots. They were worn, picked up in a back alley trashcan in one of the many towns I’d been visited during the last ten years of my life. They were a few sizes too big for me and likely belonged to a man at once point, but at least they weren’t tight. And since I rarely wore them, or any other clothing for that matter, I figured I could put up with a bit of discomfort for the sake of looking like a human.

Whenever I was out in public, which admittedly wasn’t very often, that was what I focused on. Humans, though similar to me, were fundamentally nothing like me. And I’d seen enough movies and read just as many books to know what humans did to something that wasn’t like them. My wolf knew too, and it put her on the defensive as soon as we were within range of the town. She didn’t like coming down here and protested loudly by bristling up and growling in the back of my mind. I pictured myself stroking my fingers through her fur, trying to calm her as she struggled for control over my body. This was a necessity, and though she couldn’t understand why, she took my word for it. This time. I had no doubt that the next time I asked her to come down here wouldn’t be so easy. We didn’t need supplies; much of what I needed she and I could gather from the woods around us. Instead we had need of something that was purely human in design—money.

I detested the entire principle of it, likely by my wolf’s influence, but the cabin we rented needed to be paid for with the flimsy paper bills, and so we did what we needed to in order to survive. As always. I had the distinct impression my wolf resented me for choosing to be human in this of all things. I tried not to let her opinion of the matter bother me. She was stubborn and could be arrogant at times. I liked to think I gave her that.

I walked into the grocery store and took a hard left at the first chance I could, putting me right by the bulletin board that hung beside the bathrooms. As I stood there and shifted my weight, my heavy winter coat was loud, swishing in the wind, I looked through the variety of livestock for sale ads and missing pet fliers to find the ones I wanted. I disliked wearing the coat, with its heavy zippers and other metal pieces that always seemed to make noise. But humans experienced the cold when there was snow on the ground, and I had to blend in. Still, I wasn’t human, not even close, and so by the time I’d found a job that I could likely do, I was desperate to shed the jacket and as many other layers of clothing as I could manage.

As a wolf, I held none of the shame or uncertainty that humans seemed to experience when they went without clothing. I had very few pieces of clothing, as when I was alone I simply went without them. And because I was alone most of the time, there was little need for me to have the possessions that the humans I’d seen around me covet as if they were the most important thing in life.

I knew what was important to me, and she lived more than a day away in a town south of where I now stood. Even if she were closer, though, there were reasons we no longer spoke often, if at all. My past was not something that I chose to think about. But thinking of her made me remember it. There was no separating them. They simply existed together, no matter how much I tried to fight that fact.

Back to the matter at hand, I decided with a shake of my head as I tried to clear my mind. I tore the information for a job off one of the flyers. There were others posted, but only this one had nothing to do with animals, even though I knew they’d likely be in the vicinity. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the goats, horses, and cows that called the little mountain town home with me. But I was clearly a predator to them, and they seemed to realize this whenever I was close.

I’d considered taking a job housesitting for a person that had chickens once. My wolf barely resisted having one for lunch, but my letting them live hardly seemed to matter to the birds that had nearly hurt themselves in an effort to get away from me while I’d been collecting eggs for their owner.

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