A Day with Werewolves
By K. Matthew
Text copyright 2013 by K. Matthew
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author.
The Blackfoot Werewolf Reservation was abuzz with excitement about the upcoming hierarchy trials. Never before had I heard or seen so much activity outside of my suite. Compound staff walked to and fro, setting up booths for the trials. Armed guards stood sentry at the main gate while the staff carried their supplies inside of the reservation.
There couldn't possibly be a better time to mount a mass escape. It was a treacherous thought though, and one I definitely would not be bringing to the attention of the werewolves. Besides, the open gates were so tempting that I imagined someone had to have tried it before.
Promptly at ten o'clock in the morning, I was required to go to the recreation room to have my weight taken. It seemed like a funny thing to have to do for the trials, but I was sure that it would factor in somehow. Thankfully, they weighed us behind a room divider so that the other contestants couldn't see our weight.
Most of the female werewolves were fit. While I had lost some weight since being inside of the reservation, I still felt that I had a little more padding then a lot of them. Hopefully, it wouldn't work against me.
I half expected Chris to show up on my doorstep before the trials, letting his social anxiety take over and needing me by his side for support, but he never came. Surprisingly, neither did Devon. The hierarchy trials must be keeping everything occupied. Since it was considered a holiday for the werewolves, most of them had it off of work. Perhaps even Devon managed to escape his duty of being my guide for the day.
At eleven, we were all to gather in the cafeteria for the first part of the trials, the intelligence portion. We were seated on the picnic benches in rows, as evenly spaced out as possible. While the trials were supposed to be a fun time for the werewolves, it seemed that the compound staff were taking it very seriously. Several of them walked around, monitoring the room for cheaters.
A small stack of stapled together papers were handed out to each of us with cheap ball point pens. We weren't allowed to begin writing until the clock struck exactly eleven thirty. At twelve thirty, we were to put down our pens. Anyone still writing would be immediately disqualified.
Like hawks, we all stared at the main clock that hung above the food line. With a couple of minutes left, my eyes darted around to look for the people that I knew. Chris looked across the room at me, and I could tell that he wasn't very thrilled about this portion of the trials. Tension was etched plainly on his tanned face. Devon seemed more than eager to start, wiggling in his seat with overwhelming excited energy. Emmett and Rick looked cool and calm, like they had done this dozens of times before, which they probably had. Even Margaret and Terry looked relaxed, whispering to each other back and forth with one eye on the clock.
And then it was go time. As fast as lightning, I flipped over my stack of papers to reveal the list of questions. When my eyes flitted across the first one, my lips curled into a smile. Oh yeah, I had this part of the trials in the bag.
The test was comprised of fifty questions, half of them math related, the other half reading and writing related. Both were my strengths in college. Thank God there hadn't been any history or science on there, or I might have been sweating.
I finished my test in forty-three minutes and slid it to the end of the table to be collected by the compound staff. Once I was done, I stepped back near the guards to take a few pictures of the werewolves that were still testing. It would make a good photograph for my journalism piece.
That was the only bad thing about me actually participating in the trials instead of just watching them. My time had to be split between taking part in the games and doing my actual job, which was to document them. It made things a little stressful and my day a bit more hectic than it should have been, but who was I to refuse the offer to participate. Refusing probably would have come off as rude, and I definitely didn't want to offend the werewolves or the compound staff.
Lunch was served late at one o'clock. We had an hour to eat before the next trial began, the skill trial. I grabbed my sack lunch and sat with the alphas and betas and Chris. The cafeteria was alive with chatter about how each werewolf thought they did on the test.
Easy as always,” Rick commented before taking a bite of his turkey sandwich.
The meat of your sandwich was a mystery until you opened it up. Since there was such a hurry to feed us all and continue the trials, we didn't get to decide what we wanted to eat, which was a bit of a bummer considering that I actually hated ham and knew I wouldn't eat it if I got it. Luckily, I parted the wheat bread of my sandwich to find roast beef. Still, not my favorite, but anything would be better than ham.
Do they use the same questions every year?” I asked while I worked to tear a mayonnaise packet open.
Nah. It's different every year. I think they keep up with whatever is in the local college assessment test,” Rick replied.
I guess that's a way to keep you guys educated.” I didn't realize how arrogant the comment sounded until after I said it, now wishing that I could eat my words and put something less downgrading in their place. Luckily, no one at the table seemed offended by it.
The only problem is that there's no way to practice for the test,” Rick told me. “I mean, all we really have got here in terms of study materials is television. So basically, you have to rely on what you learned when you were in high school or college. For some of us, that was a really long time ago.”
He certainly made a point. Rick looked to be around the same age as Emmett, in his late thirties. Margaret wasn't exactly young either. Age seemed to be an unfair advantage or disadvantage in the intelligence trial. I couldn't help but wonder if the compound had rigged it that way so that it would give the younger pack members a better chance to succeed at the power positions.
How do you think you did, Emmett?” I looked to the alpha, who seemed as cool and collected as ever.
I think I did well enough to keep my position after the strength and skill trials,” he said, glancing up at Rick, the only person whom he felt was his competition.
I always beat him at the intelligence trial,” Rick informed me with a smile.
I couldn't say I was surprised. Emmett was broad and thick with muscle, a picture of brute strength. Rick, on the other hand, was average size, though intelligence certainly shown behind his soft gray eyes. It would be interesting to see what would happen if he took the position of alpha and sent Emmett down to the rank of beta. Maybe I'd be lucky enough to witness it. To be honest, I kind of hoped for it. Emmett was such a smug bastard; it would be nice to see him thrown from his high horse.
And you Chris, how do you think you did?” I asked the newest member of the pack, who was clammed up as usual.
I hate math,” was all that he muttered before returning to his sandwich.
What about you, Ms. Journalist?” Rick addressed me. “I bet you aced it.”
Well, I don't think I did bad,” I admitted, recalling how only one question on the test had given me any trouble. The rest were easy peasy.
After lunch, we were herded into a field where there were rows of targets set up on tripods. Five at a time, the werewolves were lined up in front of the targets and given a bow with a single arrow. One shot, that's all you got to make your mark. If you missed the target completely, you scored a zero. This was not going to be one of my strengths.
Chris made an impressive shot, landing just outside of the bullseye. Both Rick and Emmett hit the target dead on, giving each other nods of approval as they came to rejoin the group and watch the rest of the werewolves take their turns. Devon was a bit shaky, but at least he made the target, landing his arrow in the second circle from the end.
I had to keep reminding myself that these boys weren't my competition though. While we were all being scored, the men weren't pitted against the women. What I was competing for was the female alpha or beta position. The men's competition had nothing to do with mine.
When it was the women's turn to begin the skill trial, I discovered that few of the women were any good at marksmanship. Margaret's shot wasn't any better than Devon's, and Terry missed the target completely. She cursed under her breath as she walked away, handing me her bow. Surely, that meant she was knocked out of her alpha position.
As I stepped up to the firing line, I glanced to my right. Sasha stood there, the Russian girl who seemed to have her eye on Chris, and she was pulling back her bow as if she'd done it a million times before. I tried to show no emotion as I returned my attention to my target, but I would have given anything to beat her. Hell, to be honest, I prayed that she would miss. All that mattered in that moment was destroying her as my competition.
When the compound staff told us that we could shoot, I thought back to every movie I had ever seen that had an archer in it. Still, it didn't seem to help, considering that I hadn't shot a bow since I was about ten years old, and all of those times, it had been a play bow and arrow, nothing in comparison to what I held in my hands now.
I took a deep breath, pulled the bowstring back to my cheek, and let the arrow sail. Thwack! But it wasn't my arrow that made that sound. No, my arrow sailed past the target, landing in the grass several yards away. It was Sasha's arrow that hit its mark. A square on bullseye. She raised her bow in the air, commanding cheers from the other werewolves. Sasha was the only woman to get a perfect bullseye that day.
I sulked as I walked up to Chris. The hierarchy trials suddenly became a lot less fun for me. What would happen if Sasha became the female beta . . . or even worse, female alpha? Then she'd really have the right to go after Chris. And knowing that she was in a place of power and could offer him a better life, he'd likely fall right into her hands. The thought was depressing.
Archery isn't your forte, I see,” Chris joked.
Oh, shut it,” I barked at him.
Well.” He straightened himself. “At least you're not doing this for real. No matter how you place, you won't lose your suite or your allocated job points. So, just relax. It's all in fun.” Chris offered me a weak smile, and it did calm me a bit.
In the end, he was right. These trials meant nothing to me. I shouldn't be getting so competitive over them.
The final challenge of the hierarchy trials was the strength challenge. After my poor run at the skill trial, I didn't have much hope of placing high on the werewolf hierarchy. I had the strength of an infant, so I would surely fail this one as well.
After a short recess, we were led to an area where the compound staff had spray-painted the dirt with white lines. Draped across the lines was a thick length of rope. As soon as I saw it, my stomach filled with dread. Tug of war. This was definitely not something that I was going to be good at.
They matched us up according to weight. As luck would have it, I was matched with Sasha. There was no way that was possible, I thought. She was thin, sinew and muscle and bone. And I was . . . well, not in the best shape of my life, that was for sure. Damn you freshman fifteen, I chastised myself for weight gained long ago that I hadn't managed to get off. Since muscle weighed more than fat, I knew exactly how our weight would be balanced.