“Steady, lads.” Whitworth said, her sense of calm reassuring. “Those other howls are definitely wolves. They’re just posturin’ for the moment, trying to send us running. Quick now, backs up against the rocks. We need to keep them all to our front. You two get positions up in the rocks, I’ll keep them pinned down with automatic fire.”
We both moved without question, following orders had become second nature since joining the army. It was a standard defense for a small squad. Ideally, Alan would have been down on the ground with Whitworth, protecting her with his shotgun if any wolf-women got too close. But we’d have to make do. The lieutenant would keep them pinned down as far out as possible, while Connoly and I would line up more precise shots.
Skye couldn’t keep up the defensive fire for long though, she was down to her last couple magazines of ammunition, then she’d have nothing left but her sidearm. It was important to be sure we could defend her with rapid fire so she could pull back to our position when her rifle ran dry.
I looked over to Connoly and pointed to the side of his rifle. Both of our rifles were extremely old patterns of Enfield, and still bore the antiquated magazine cutoff switch that allowed us to hold those rounds in reserve. It was almost like 1914 all over again, we switched the cutoff on and elected to fire single shots, retaining our magazines for when Whitworth needed to retreat. I had a feeling that whoever had originally carried these rifles into battle, they’d have been proud.
“Here they come, lads!” Whitworth shouted as she opened fire.
At least ten large, mangy beasties popped up over the farthest hill and darted toward us. They were not a sight to inspire belief. The best description I could give you would be that of a werewolf but not entirely covered in fur. It was still quite plain to tell that they were women of a sort, though their appearance was tribal, almost primitive. With fur-skin cloaks flaring in the wind as they ran, their jaws hung slack with predatory grins, savoring the hunt and supremely confident that in mere moments they’d have us.
Whitworth’s plan started to work however, as she sent a sweep of automatic gunfire raking towards them. Whitworth managed to put down one herself while the others began to duck and slowed to a type of crouched run. Now Connoly and I began to take our targets under fire. Connoly was a mediocre shot at best, but I like to think I was one of the best in the old regiment, and satisfied my ego with an opening kill shot on the lead wolf-lady.
Connoly’s first went wide and with a scowl he yanked open the old rifle’s bolt and inserted a new round. I was already in my element, the old rifle drills my granddad had put me through as a young lad moved my hands almost mechanically. The wolves were getting wise though, they realized that the two enemies firing from up in the rocks were the ones to be worried about. The automatic fire was sparse and largely inaccurate, and Whitworth had to reload fairly quickly.
Unfortunately I had only managed to account for three more and Connoly was shaming himself with bad shooting when Skye shouted that she was dry and dropped her rifle to retreat to the rocks. The wolves unnervingly seemed to understand what was happening and quickly began loping forward, eager for blood.
I nodded to Connoly and we both switch our magazines open. At this point I wasn’t too concerned with Connoly’s bad fire discipline, we simply had to keep their heads down till Lt. Whitworth could reach us. We set up a withering barrage as Skye began to climb up the rocks to us.
I had to reload before Connoly and he kept firing as I quickly fiddled with the annoying stripper clips that held my ammunition. With my magazine reloaded, I told Connoly to switch out and help the lieutenant up as I continued my fire. Another wolf went down, sputtering and mewling in aggravation. They were close enough now I could hear their voices as they closed on us.
It was not what I expected. I expected them to be hungry for our flesh, but not like this. Every other word was some lewd suggestion that we surrender and they’d go easy on us, that they didn’t bite…much, or that they promised to be gentle. Somehow it was more unsettling than if they were just screaming for our blood. I lined up another shot and put another one down.
The remaining two had reached the base of the rocks however, and one of them began to scale the face with fiendish swiftness. Connoly, cursing the luck of his rifle, cast it aside and went for his pistol. Thankfully he was a much better shot with that, and was able to put the frantically climbing wolf down.
Her last compatriot was hot on her heels and, to my horror, managed to grab onto one of Skye’s boots just as Connoly was hauling her over the edge. I immediately reach down to try and help him, but the wolf, instead of trying to fight us for Skye, simply began clambering over her up toward us.
Whitworth, god bless her, was cold as ice though. Just as the mangy monster’s head cleared the edge of the rocks, Skye whipped out her sidearm and put two shots right into that snarling visage. The last dead wolf-woman pitched off the rocks and tumbled to the ground below as we pulled our lieutenant over the top.
We all sat there catching our breaths and thanking our lucky stars we had fended off another attack, even with only the three of us. Whitworth made some smart comment to put us at ease, despite the adrenaline pumping through us, and I allowed myself a nervous laugh.
I would not have been chuckling however, if I had known the tragedy that awaited us later on that night. We found ourselves hunkering down on an exposed piece of ground out on the moors as darkness fell, no other area offered a bit of cover for the elements. We began to rotate through the watch, with Connoly taking first watch.
All I remember is that I was spurred from a sleep deeper than I should have been enjoying by the sound of that infernal howling. I quickly looked over to Connoly and shoved him awake. We both quickly grabbed our guns, shoving drowsiness away as we tried to get alert.
And that was when I realized the howling had awoken me, not Lt. Whitworth. I scanned around frantically, looking for the bright green scarf the lieutenant always wore, but she was nowhere to be seen. We tried calling out for her, but the howling drowned us out.
We were all alone, just Connoly and myself, out on the moors in the middle of a blizzard, and with monsters all around us.