Greencrest High School was a school in the most literal sense. An easily identifiable slab of concrete and brickwork, with variables that only changed things in the barest sense. Little differences like a gymnasium in the basement and not a shack in a nearby field, a library tucked away into a isolated nook instead of bared proudly in the center of the school with dramatic glass windows, a janitor who fixed dirty looks at mantises instead of harpies, all the staples of academia could be found in Greencrest in different shades of dull gray.
Greencrest even came equipped with a pit of absolute human (and strictly human) misery, like any other respectable academic establishment. A dark void where a boy could turn into, disappear, then reappear with a pleased little imp hanging onto his arm and a limp in his step. A bedrock of budding monster and human relations, tucked neatly into the basement of Greencrest, just past the cafeteria.
The boys of Greencrest were all well aware of “The Pit”, as they called it. This was why the front entrance of the cafeteria, a bright, well lit corridor with plenty of traffic and bystanders, was also the cafeteria’s only entrance and exit in their eyes. While by no means an actual guarantee of protection from a bored minotaur or a friendly devil, it was certainly more secure than risking the dark and cramped corridors of The Pit. Corridors that were dimly lit, never patrolled by staff and filled with a musky odor of impending suffering that clung to the air no matter how seemingly vacant it was, and whose danger was amplified immensely by the malicious inclusion of the storage closet.
This alleged “closet” was closer to a lounge than anything else, with comfortably pillows and mattresses strewn about its frequently shampooed carpet. There was no sight of any kind of cleaning or plumbing equipment, or any of the other things the men of the school thought the closet would be used for when they suggested it decades ago. They had, at the time, been attempting to prove that they deserved recognition as members of the school board by spearheading a construction committee. It wasn’t until the principal, after construction was nearly complete, had coyly informed them that the closet would include a door that latched from the inside that they had realized the weight of their accidental sin.
And until recently, The Pit had served its purpose well. It had been a stable, reliable corner for a boy to be spirited to, and the alumni of Greencrest often spoke of it with a somber tone or a nostalgic giddiness respectively. With the freshman class of two years ago, however, had come a shift in usage. What had once been a hangout for a rotating group of students and their new soul mates, had abruptly become a home to only four individuals. Seniors and juniors went to school at the start of the semester and promptly found themselves displaced by an insurgent faction, limping from The Pit with downcast eyes and fresh wounds underneath previously unchallenged muscle. A bitter air hung among them, but every challenge to the new pecking order had been dismantled spectacularly, and they had stayed rooted in their new home well into their senior year.
Thus, unknown to many of the boys of Greencrest, to whom the hierarchical struggles of monsters were steadfastly obscured, The Pit was no more. The boys avoided it all the same, but a confused sense of misplaced relaxation had overtaken them. They had thought perhaps their fathers had mislead them by being overprotective, their mothers overconfident in nostalgia.
They didn’t know The Den was simply more selective.
And all of this was the reason that Milo Vandis, the epitome of the paranoid and skittish school boy, had found himself sitting on the bottom step of The Den, nervously fumbling through his phone. On a normal day, he would have actively avoided being here, even with the male populace’s growing misconfidence in its safety, but he had been rendered especially nervous today after two missed calls from his mother that had been superseded by a text that read, “Clear your schedule for Saturday. I will be picking you up from school Friday.”
Milo’s mother had texted him exactly once in his life before today. She had told him she had a big surprise waiting for him at home, which he found to be a dirty magazine on loan from Horace, a farewell gift before he moved overseas, impaled on his bedroom door with a knife. He had spent the next month writing weekly essays about the respect a woman’s body is owed to her, and spent the next year being called “slug lover” by his sisters.
He was 9 at the time.
So, in a state of absolute panic, he had wandered from the cafeteria into the most silent spot he could find to contact her. It took three separate calls before she picked up.
“Milo,” her voice was chilling to the ear, the same voice he thought she must use to tell clients their services were no longer needed. “I assume this is about my text message?”
“Yeah, um…” Milo had honestly not been expecting her to pick up at all, and his mouth was fumbling for any kind of output. “I got it.”
“Fuck!” his phone nearly shot out from his hand as he strangled it, “Fucking bitch!” he hissed as he called her again.
Two calls this time, picked up at the very last second on the second call.
“Milo, I’m quite busy.” She spoke clearly and steadily, like she was speaking to someone who couldn’t quite understand her.
Milo sucked down a ruinous comment and instead asked, “Mom, what did your text mean?”
“What part of it is unclear?”
“I…I don’t know what we’re doing?”
“Mm, I see. Well, you’re clearly very busy right now, so I’ll bore you with the details later.”
Milo clicked his tongue. Whenever his mother was annoyed, but not furious, she would do this. Concoct some form of indirect punishment, then drag it out for as long as possible. At the age of 6, he had suggested that she would look better in her business suit if she lost weight, to which she responded by putting all his favorite toys out of reach on the top shelf and suggesting he simply grow taller.
He conceded, “Mom, I’m sorry I missed your calls. I was talking to my friends and had my phone on silent.”
“My last call ended on the second ring.”
Milo flinched in the empty vacuum of The Den. Her response was instant, he noticed. He could have sworn the icy chill of her voice was tinted with a snarl.
“I probably hit it with my butt, I don’t know.”
There was a snort of air on the other side of the phone. He could practically see the dismissive eye roll in the darkness around him.
“Thrilling. Milo, I have to ask, did you have a reason for disturbing me at work? Aside from interrupting the work I do to keep you fed and clothed and too spoiled for your own good?”
“Look, Mom, I’m sorry. I just thought whatever it was could wait.” His forehead was in his hand now, and a numb kind of anger was prodding at him. He felt the urge, distantly, to scream at her, but it was overruled by an overwhelming sense of futility.
“It can wait, clearly.”
“Mom, I’m begging you.”
There was a pause, punctuated by the tone-deaf clacking of his Mother’s claws on a steel keyboard. He felt he could see her face in his mind, contemplating whether to finally let things be. He could see her face, a tanned and human face like his own, frowning as muscular arms, striped with orange and black fur like his sisters, attacked her keyboard.
She spoke after a suffocating silence had just begun to settle in the air. “You remember Auntie Vanna? Hilda’s mother?”
Milo blanched at the mention of both those names. “Yes?”
“She and I were talking the other day, and we agreed we were long overdue for a get together. She just finalized the sale of her career and finally has some time to breathe again.”
“Uh…cool. Sounds fun.”
Please be a full family dinner, Milo thought, please be a full family dinner.
“Glad you agree. We rented you and Hilda a table on the top floor, with a view.”
He began to ramble at ‘Hilda’, “Uh, uh, well, what’s the refund policy, because-”
“Well, my friend and I, we-”
“Which friend?” Her voice flipped like a circuit breaker kicking into life. A low rumble with power hiding behind it.
“Ted.” Wrong. Wrong because it was a lie, and wrong because of all his friends, Ted ‘My Slime Mom Loves Me Even Though I’m A Virgin’ Calvez was the wrong one to mention. None of his friends would have saved him, but they might at least have drawn a sarcastic silence from his mother, as opposed to what was coming next.
“I’ll give his mother a call.”
“Well, no, she-”
“Is she busy? I know she doesn’t work. Would I be interrupting her afternoon of sucking ejaculate from the carpet?”
“Milo,” and there it was, the tired, vaguely abhorrent way she said his name when the conversation was over. “You are going, and you are going to act like an adult when you see that lovely girl.”
“Is kind, intelligent, and is inexplicably fascinated with a boy who’s done nothing but act callous towards her, and I’m not going to let that boy ruin-”
The flat slam of a hand on a wooden desk carried sharply through the phone, “I won’t let that boy ruin his own future for no good reason!”
“I don’t wanna’ get sold off to some girl, Mom!” He yelled into his phone. He had tensed his body for the word out of his mother’s mouth, ready to match her furious energy. When the silence following his words overtook the static of the phone call, that energy began to fizzle.
And as the passion died down, the cold, gurgling anxiety that had been bubbling underneath suddenly reared his head, and Milo remembered who he was talking to, and what he had just said.
“Milo, please repeat yourself.”
“Um…” he was trying to remember, honestly, but all his brain was saying was to throw his phone off the school roof.
“You don’t want a wife willing to put up with you inane whining and bratty tantrums?” the thin strand of patience in her voice had been swallowed by a low growl hanging off every word. “Instead of a lovely young girl to give you some direction in your life, you’d rather spend all day in a basement chatting with your loser friends?”
“I…” he didn’t feel so rebellious anymore, not so brave, “I just want to pick who I date.”
“Then why haven’t you? Can you even remember how many wonderful girls I’ve introduced you to? “
“And all the damn dates you came limping home from? Do you know the looks their mothers gave me? STILL give me?”
“I don’t like those girls, Mom.”
“Well then, why don’t I send you to college with your sisters over the holidays? I’m sure they have plenty of friends who would be interested in sharing a little boy who doesn’t know what he wants. If you’re so scared of committing to a wonderful jinko girl, maybe a room full of monsters making decisions for you would make you happy?”
He was silent. The dull drumming of her claws on wood filled the silence, like the buzz of an invasive fly. He leaned weakly against the cold iron of the staircase, words forming in his head and not his mouth.
Finally, there was a sigh, and the squeak of a chair being reclined into on her end.
“Do you think I hate you?”
“I don’t. It’s my job to make my children happy. I want that for you, but you always fight me.” she waited for him to say something, then continued wearily when he said nothing, “I love you, and all I want is for you to find what will make you happy.”
“I know, Mom.” Milo let himself sink onto the jagged concrete of the stairs, dull gray edges digging into his back.
The sounds of claws on keyboard had started up again, but softer and slower. His mother cleared his throat. “I’ll talk to you more about it tonight.”
Milo thumbed a hole in his jeans and nodded to nobody. “Yeah.”
“I love you.”
“Yeah, I know.”
He bit into his bottom lip. “I love you too, Mom.”
“Okay. goodbye, Milo.”
At the sweet release of the hang up click, Milo heaved out a sigh straight from the pit of his stomach. He was hoping with it would come the weight pressing down on his stomach, but it remained firm in his gullet.
That was that then, he supposed. Goodbye future, goodbye freedom, hello snooty kitty wife. 18 years of keeping his nose clean, and his mother threw it away for overpriced Dullahan cuisine and an ocean view.
Hilda, Hilda, Hilda, why the hell did it have to be Hilda? Of all the towering and glamoured up tigresses his mother had tried to set him up with, Hilda was the only one he couldn’t ward off. The white-furred snob had suckered his mother into sending him on three dates with her in the past year, and no matter how horrible and embarrassing he made them, Hilda stayed persistent.
Worst of all, Hilda had grown bolder with each new date. Their last outing, which he had done his absolute damndest to keep as awkward and sterile as possible, had ended with an overly friendly peck on his cheek and a goodbye slap on his ass. She had found her mark, and she would be looking to finalize her claim on him this weekend, he could feel it. He would go to that dinner overdressed and shuffling his feet, then leave it underdressed with a white tail wrapped around his throat dragging him away.
He melted onto the jagged staircase, eyes closed and mind reeling for a way out. His future felt as dark and decided as the void he gazed into. Surely running away was still an option? It would be easy to just bolt into the darkness Friday night. Willy had sympathizing parents, surely they wouldn’t ask too many questions, and Gabe had a special hideout in the woods just for this kind of parental entanglement.
No, he thought, that would be pointless. His mother would either track him down or show up to the lunch with his birth certificate and a lock of his hair. If he tried to go against his mother here, she wouldn’t give him a second chance.
He could feel his mind ungluing itself to reach for the thinnest possible solutions. What if he was utterly unpresentable? Obviously a shaved head wouldn’t work, his mother would nail him to the wall and sell tickets, but surely even his mother wouldn’t take him to a dinner if he was…injured? If he broke his leg by, say, falling down the staircase? By accident?
The idea formed in his head, a misshapen piece of driftwood in a sea of blind panic. His mother had long since wisened up to Milo’s attempts to play the innocent little human card, but he could still make her fuss over him with enough worry. He had never even sprained his ankle before, surely a broken leg would send her into a tizzy. That was the obvious solution, he convinced himself without thinking, a broken leg was his key to a future of independence.
And it was during this bout of frenzied calculations of how to land from the school roof with only a broken leg, as well as concocting a plausible excuse as to why he was on the school roof, that the coherent part of his brain finally managed to send him a message.
This message was: “What is that sound?”
And then Milo heard the sound.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Over and over, slowly but surely. It sounded like his sisters drumming their claws on the kitchen table, but slower.
Milo’s thoughts didn’t clear so much as they did evacuate his mind altogether, as the real world suddenly presented itself to him. He then noticed, the slow reverberating of the wood railing to his right, that the noise he was hearing was coming from behind him and that there was warm breath coming down on the nape of his neck.
His sprint to safety ended before it started. A grip like a defanged bear trap found his ankle the second he bolted upwards and he plummeted to the hard concrete, his leg bent backward awkwardly up the staircase.
“Where ya’ going?” her voice scraped through his ears like sandpaper. “I just wanted to hear how your Mommy’s doing.”
The face that grinned down at Milo, as he glimpsed awkwardly at it through the bent window his restrained leg made, was wild mess of black hair. Two orange eyes burned over a crooked grin full of pointed, dull white teeth. Her hand, which was the only other part of her anatomy Milo could see in the shadows of the basement, was black fur and jagged claw poking eagerly at his restrained ankle.
And as Milo lay painfully on his side, the thought entered his head that this situation was the worst he had been in his life.
“Um,” he dribbled out, “Uh, sorry, I’m looking for the bathroom.” he finished. Milo, when presented with tense situations, tended to respond by lying aimlessly and randomly.
“Oh, gotcha.” the grip around Milo’s ankle tugged backwards forcefully, flipping him fully and painfully onto his back. “The girl’s bathroom upstairs, yeah? Trying to set up shop before the lunch rush is over?”
“I gotta say, I didn’t think we still had any guys in here renting themselves out,” she said. Her claws burrowed into Milo’s skin after an experimental tug on his part, drawing out blood and a yelp. “Annie had a pretty good one, but she doesn’t wanna share anymore now that she’s a college girl.” she snickered. “Can’t blame her, I wouldn’t have shared to begin with.”
Milo didn’t know who Annie was, but he couldn’t help feeling someone familiar with scholastic prostitution wouldn’t be very likely to hold progressive opinions about non-consensual sex in a basement.
“I-I-I’m not a, uh, prostitute.”
He didn’t notice she had moved until her face was an inch away from his own, just as his searing ankle flopped against the cold concrete floor. The brief feeling and realization of being unrestrained was replaced swiftly by a crushing weight on his crotch and a firm grip on his chin that leveled his view into her smoldering eyes.
“Why are you in my house, meat?”
He was wrong, he realized, as her gaze crawled into his skull and he felt himself being stripped bare by it. Her eyes were cold, unfeeling. The eyes that rabid animals didn’t have, but that something smarter and far worse did. A calculating, emotionless predator.
“Whatcha’ gonna do to him, Izzy?” A new voice called out, and the tension in the room snuffed out like an open flame in a breeze. The voice, to Milo, sounded so incredibly incorrect to Milo that he thought someone was dubbing over footage of his mauling. It was syrupy sweet and singsong, jarringly pleasant to the ear in any environment, but especially in the current one.
The girl perched on top of him swung her head lazily to the staircase, as Milo noticed both his attacker’s perked up wolf ears, as well as the new girl in her entirety. The new girl was slouched lazily nearer the top of the staircase, and Milo couldn’t believe how much she belonged in this basement less than he did. She was a succubus, he could tell immediately from the horns and the tiny wings, but she wasn’t… curvaceous in the uniform way succubi tended to be. She was fairly plump, actually. Not obese, but Milo had never seen a succubus who couldn’t have hidden behind a telephone pole. This one was buried comfortably underneath an overly large sweater and was tapping contentedly on the glowing phone buried in her sleeves.
The succubus cooed suddenly, “Ohhhh, Simon just sent me a picture of his puppy!”
The sensation of time moving, which had felt completely gone for how long Milo had thought he had stared at the interloper, returned suddenly as his crotch was used as an agonizing footstool for his attacker to stand up.
The wolf-eared girl snorted. “The usual’s fine.”
The succubus, whoever she was, had sucked the raw, overwhelming feeling of entrapment from the room, and Milo was finally able to take this “Izzy” in. She was a werewolf, not a hellhound like he would have told the ancestors he thought he was going to be meeting a few seconds ago. The “were” parts of the wolf seemed much more prominent now that he was looking at her more closely. She was barefoot, with furred claws leading upwards into baggy cargo pants and a ratty leather jacket. The hair around her mostly human head was merely uncombed, not savage, and the cold, predatory eyes she had seemed to have were dogged by black creases under her eyes. Her hungry, jagged grin had now shrunken to a thin smirk as she rolled her head back unenthusiastically to him.
“Okay, take out your wallet,” the wolf yawned, “Then beat it.”
Milo blinked up at her. “What?’
“Wall-et, on the ground.” she clicked her claws together. “Chop-chop, Dickless.”
Milo pressed his shaky palms to the ground and climbed to his feet with only a wobble or two, ignoring the dancing fire around his ankle. “W-why?”
The wolf cackled. “Oh, fuck off. You’ve never been shaken down before? There’d be a picture of your face in the dictionary next to fresh fucking meat.”
“But, but I just-”
“Annnd now you’re leaving the shirt too, congratulations.” she crossed her arms with a proud flourish. Her nose was tilted up as she looked down on him, like she was making the most of the foot or so she had on him. “I’m a busy girl, sweater vest.”
“Better do what she says, sweetie!” the succubus chirped, still burrowed in her phone. “She’s been extra pissy lately, no telling what she’ll do.”
The wolf laughed and shot an accusatory look up the stairs. “Fuck off, Nicky! You were just bitching up a storm about how dry you’ve been since your boy toy moved.”
The succubus made a hurt sounding scoff, as Milo’s grip on the situation deteriorated farther. “I did not say I’m DRY, you bully! I was telling my dear friend how much I missed my boyfriend!”
“Which part of you misses him?”
“Oh shut up, you cunt!”
The wolf chuckled, turned to Milo, then frowned. “Do you actually still not have your wallet out?”
Milo was struggling greatly with comprehending what was happening, but as he homed in on the figure in front of him, he realized that she was small for a werewolf. Shorter than his sisters, even. She didn’t seem muscular either, unless her flimsy jacket was actually hiding something underneath it. Why did this girl get to take things from him, humiliate him while she giggled with her friend?
“Well, damn, guess I’ll take your pants too, dumbass.”
Why did this happen to him? Some monster telling him how things were going to be, even if he deserved better? Why did some dog fresh out of a dumpster get to humiliate him? Why did some overgrown tabby cat he wasn’t even related to get to tell him who he dated and whether he could do something with his life?
There was a growl in the air, irritated, but not vicious. “Are you fucking ignoring me?”
“Go fuck yourself..” he said, and then promptly realized he had just said it.
A ringing silence overtook them, the clicking of fingers on a phone keyboard stopped abruptly. The succubus poked her curious head out of her phone to Milo, then to the wolf, then back and forth. The wolf’s smirk sagged downwards now, eyebrows knitting and eyes narrowing.
Milo looked blankly through her. Say what again?
“Uhuh, that’s what I thought you said.” she tilted her head and ran her eyes up and down Milo’s body. Her smirk fell off completely to make room for a concentrated frown. “Interesting.”
Nothing was happening, he realized. She didn’t know what to do, he was sure of it. A spark of racial pride swelled up in his chest. There were monsters to be scared of, certainly, the absolute terror of human men that was his mother, for instance, but this was just some mutt looking for an easy scrap.
He turned to leave and began to march off proudly to cafeteria, and the the silence was broken.
“I think I’ll ruin your life.”
He swung wildly, blindly, when he felt the hand on his shoulder. As he spun to face what had grabbed him, he found his fist lodged limply into the jaw of a different creature. Something the same size as the wolf, eyes the same bright orange and teeth the same bone white.
But it wasn’t the wolf he had thought he saw. The bags under this monster’s eyes accentuated it’s piercing gaze, the tireless face of a hungry beast. No smirk, only a cracked grin that split across its face like perfectly measured blades. He saw his face trapped in the thing’s eyes, pale and trapped, encircled by the cold flames of its pupils.
His body left the Earth as a terrible force wrapped around his throat. It dragged him weightless into the wall with a force he could tell was restrained even as the impact wracked his frame. Spots of light danced around his vision as he whimpered hoarsely for air. Before the lights could even clear the force left his throat, and he slid briefly down the rough wall he was pinned against. Once more, a grip took hold of him, this time at the jaw, but with no hint of restraint this time. There a flash of pain below his neck, followed by a slow, sticky heat. A scream clawing desperately out of his lungs starved from lack of air.
“So, here’s what your life’s going to be now, Bitch,” the werewolf spoke, anticipation and glee mixing in her raspy voice, “From today until the day I get bored of you, you’re going to be my personal chew toy.”
Blurred spots began to fade from Milo’s vision, as the wild face pressed in inescapably. Her sneer seemed to grow wider, more starved, the more she spoke.
“I will hurt you, I will play with you, and if I feel like it I’ll even fuck you. And one day, when I’ve broken you too badly to bother fixing, I’ll throw you away.”
Her eyes were nearly pressed to his own, his pale face reflecting pitfully.
“My name is Isha,” she whispered, “And I’m your new reason for living.”
She pulled away, but Milo remained scraped against the wall. As the burning sensation from his chin lingered and was joined by a crawling wetness down his throat, he realized Isha’s claws had dug snugly into the underside of his jaw. He was almost grateful for the pain, as he noticed he couldn’t feel anything else in his body.
Isha pulled his head up sluggishly, her claws digging in deeper as he strained to move his neck with them.
“How about we kill some time before lunch is over, Bitch?” she leaned forward to whisper in his ear, her claws keeping his skull in a deadlock. “I’ll stick my tongue out, and if you can reach up and suck on it a little, I won’t tear your throat out.”
The sheer joy in her eyes as she dangled her tongue above his head would have infuriated him in less paralyzing situations. The tongue itself was wolf, not were. Long and flat and pink, and dangling painfully out of his reach. A twisting stretch for it only caused her still claws to thoughtlessly peel away at more skin. He whimpered as his head dropped back into its starting place.
“Need some help? I gotcha.”
Isha began to pull upwards before he could object, and he scrambled to move his head with her to keep her claws from piercing deeper. She stopped right before she would have meaningfully helped him close the gap, and left him balancing precariously on his toes. Even then, her tongue dangled uselessly out of reach, leaving him clamping for it like a suffocating fish.
It was so close to him it seemed by design that he couldn’t reach it, as if a malevolent force had painstakingly measured out their heights before birth for this exact moment. Isha for her part was of no help whatsoever, slowly lowering her tongue to only slightly out of his reach, then slowly tilting back. His pained exertions were punctuated by giggling from the staircase, as well as the flash of light and snapping of a phone camera, which he tried his best to ignore.
Mercifully, by her standards, after several moments of spontaneous neck growth and painful prods to the neck, Isha lowered her tongue to just within his reach. He clamped down on it with the narrow tip of his lips, eagerly abandoning any objections he may have had for the act thirty or so minutes ago.
The eager sound of what Milo assumed and hoped to be the succubus clapping echoed in the otherwise empty basement. He gave what he hoped was an appropriately chaste tug on Isha’s tongue with his lips. He felt her lips curl up in what he had to imagine was her usual sneer.
She dropped him.
And then, she dropped upon him.
What had at first seemed to have been a broad, unwieldy tongue proved unexpectedly flexible as it invaded Milo’s mouth. Isha’s hands wandered possesively as she attacked him, and the sound of fabric tearing reached his ear at the same time a cold draft hit his midsection. He was being stripped by her claws, which tore cleanly through his clothing and scratched carelessly at his skin.
Isha alternated between throat clogging kisses and painful clamps of her teeth around his mouth. The taste of steel mingled with foreign saliva, and air was depleting for him rapidly. Isha seemed uninterested in a traditional kiss, and more in how far she could jam her tongue down his throat before he suffocated. He realized that he was slapping his wrists uselessly against her back, and he felt her cackle into his throat.
As a lack of air began to welcome in a creeping darkness around the edges of his vision, Isha released him.
He didn’t feel the impact of hitting the floor, merely the aftermath of lying on cold concrete in a pile of tattered cloth. She wiped her mouth of stray saliva, then turned her gaze to him and whistled.
“Well, don’t you look right at home?”
Milo couldn’t think to respond. He had experienced in the past several minutes sensations he would not have been ready for one at a time, let alone all at once. He just stared at her, swallowing air in starving gulps.
She unzipped her jacket, showing a cheap white tank top over black fur. Her bare arms were thinly wired steel, that flexed automatically as she removed her jacket.
There they are, thought Milo, there are the fucking muscles.
“Catch, Bitch,” she said, and he didn’t. The jacket flopped on top of his face, warm and smelling of grass. “Something to keep you decent till’ I see you back down here tomorrow. Which I will, fucking promptly at 7:15.”
The sound of clacking nails approached him. She pulled back the jacket to stare down at him, and he didn’t even notice his own whimper.
“Feel free to make me hunt you down, but if this jacket comes back anything less than pristine, your cock’ll be my new hood ornament.” she said this with dire seriousness, before smug satisfaction rapidly returned to her. “Bye-bye, Bitch.”
The jacket obscured his vision again, and he heard her claws ticking away towards the cafeteria. The sound of running feet came from the staircase right behind her.
“Wait up, Izzy!”
They stopped by him, and he felt a light pat on his mostly clothed leg. “Hang in there, honey!”
Then the footsteps vanished heading towards Isha.
Milo was, for the immediate future, content to lie in the fallout of fifteen minutes worth of terrible decisions. At some point, he imagined, he would need to start thinking about moving, but he didn’t feel that needed to be this exact moment.
He knew the name, he was realizing. The face was indistinct to him, but her name pressed down on an old, buried away memory.
He had met werewolves before. He had also met hellhounds before. His sisters had had both for friends. Both types would pick on him when they saw him, but there was no mistaking a wolf for a hound. Hellhounds sucked attention and awe from a room for themselves, taller than his sisters and built to destroy. The werewolves were scary, but they always moved with the pack, wouldn’t make fun of him until his sisters had. They were threatening, but didn’t stand out.
Isha was a wolf, but she acted independant like a hound. Milo winced at the continued thought of hounds, the last hellhound he had known in his personal school life had been an utter terror to his friends and he for years.
Before she moved away.
Milo remembered something, something he had the feeling he would have been better off not knowing.
The hellhound he had known was named Lyla. She was a hellhound in every sense of the word, terrorizing girl and boy alike. She hospitalized girls she got into fights with and left a few of Milo’s old friends demeaned and vulnerable to be picked up by scavengers. Milo himself had once spent a full day of school stuffed into an abandoned locker in the basement following a spilt carton of orange juice on her new jacket.
Then one day, during the last year of Junior High, the students found out that Lyla had been transferred to a new school district after a fight. For the longest time, that was Milo’s full memory of it all. But Isha’s name had shaken something else loose, a detail he had long forgotten:
Lyla hadn’t won the fight.
Details had been scarce. Lyla’s parents were the rich sort, the types his mother bumped elbows and fake smiles with. They had moved her overnight without any word being spread. But Milo remembered now that the holstaur twins, Ayla and Darla, had seen the fight. He remembered walking into his first hour and hearing them chatter.
“So scary…” one or the other had said, “She just laid down and stopped moving.”
“She didn’t even touch the other girl, not once she got her fangs around her throat.” the other sister replied.
And then one of them had said something he had never bothered to think about until this exact moment.
“Gods, that Isha girl is terrifying.”