“One Does Not Simply…”

Boromir’s famous words work with everything.


Submitted by AgentBJ09 of GAB


Or fascists, or a cult.

“The ANTIFA Plague”

Sean, Christine and Xander see the true face of “Anti-Fascists” during an event at their college.

Written by AgentBJ09 of GAB

Thursday, January 31st, 2017
Moon Phase – Waxing Crescent
3:41 p.m.

“Alt-Right Icon To Speak At Major University”

“News Editor Who Fancies Nazi Language, Supports White Supremacy, To Speak At UC Berkel”

“Student Body Of UC Berkel ‘Not Happy’ That Alt-Right Speaker Has Platform”

With the last few minutes of my class approaching, I went through my browser’s tabs one by one, closing the ones linked to the news sites I’d grown to detest over the last few years. The event they were opining on was one day out, and despite what they were saying about it, I was itching to go. I’d seen the livestreams from other campuses around the United States, each one fueling the hype I felt for the one my campus would be hosting. Even two jabs at the political figures and mindsets I’d seen manifest into uglier things over the last two years would make it worth it.

It didn’t take long after I was out of class to overhear two other students trash-talking the future speaker. Not an uncommon thing, given how the college itself leaned as a whole, which was something that spread to the students, and the media hadn’t helped by how it was painting his character in the news.

Eyerolling at what I was hearing, before I was out of earshot of the students, the phrases ‘fuck this campus’ and ‘destroy his shit’ reached me, and I slowed. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such language, but rarely out of people’s mouths. Mostly on social media. I dug my phone out and pretended to fiddle with it before turning around. Others were just as close to the students as me, but given the lack of attention and looks, they hadn’t seemed to notice.

The students were guys I was certain were about my age, neither of them familiar by face. Both were decked out in almost all black, and the space around them pushed me to walk closer, then bank left to slip behind them.

Right away, there was a trail of scents I walked through that stood out against the sea of others. Something between thirty and forty unique scents, all varied in strength, though the strongest were unquestionably sweat, reefer and flavorings from a chip brand I liked. The rest saw me weave into the trail again to keep from losing them before figuring out the source; there was a weak mix of chemicals coming off them, but none that sprang to mind outside ammonia, likely from bleach.

The two students began to walk off as I pinpointed two more among the mix. One was in line with explosive powder, which kind I couldn’t tell, and the other something close to motor oil. What little part of me wanted to ignore that mix was pushed aside as their words replayed in my head. The hell are you guys into? Unsure if they had walked away because of suspicions about my presence, I gave them several seconds to get some distance. Their scent trail would linger for much longer than that, and there was only one place they could go on this floor: the stairwells.

Despite the other students, I resumed moving in time to spot the two going towards the northwest stairwell. It was as I passed the threshold myself and started walking downstairs that I noticed some of the scents were absent. The gunpowder scent wasn’t one of them, and after a second to think, that student seemed the most worthwhile to follow.

He led me down two flights of stairs and towards the exits of the Evans Building. At the doors, I hung back and watched until I couldn’t keep sight, then resumed tailing him. Before long, he was at the building directly across from the one I’d left, but instead of going in, he produced his keychain and headed for a chained bike with a bright red body. With my phone up close to my ear, I pretended to listen to my voicemail as he unhooked it, then jumped on and began pedaling, first south, then east. He was heading towards Gayley Rd.

Guy’s probably got a dorm down that way. Two such buildings sprang to mind, both equally likely, but as I was, my nose was at a disadvantage when tracking such weak scents in congested places.

* * *

5:29 p.m.
Doe Memorial Library

Even before I’d come to know Christine, another werewolf I’d met purely by accident during my first year, she made use of the campus’ libraries as an unwinding zone when her dorm simply couldn’t cut it. Having to share a space with two other people, neither of whom were werewolves, and neither of whom she felt were trustworthy with such knowledge, was something I couldn’t fully relate to, but could see the frustration in nonetheless.

The library I was walking into was the same one where I’d first noticed her scent. She’d left the building long before I got there that time, though two days later, we literally bumped into each other on our way to our classes.

At first, we said nothing to each other, despite running across each other’s scents at least once every other day or so after that meeting. Having another werewolf within five miles, let alone on the same campus, was something new to both of us. It took me running into her while walking to my dorm from class a few weeks later for us to get the first hints of a conversation going. The approaching full moon at the time was a bit of help there; she’d been fretting over what to do if her source of animals dried up, something I could relate to.

Once past the airlock doors, I made a beeline for the stairs; the second floor study rooms were where she usually was, if one was open. On the way up, the traces of her scent, and others like it, contrasted the uniformity of the many books filling the building, the sharpest ones getting me to huff out my nose, and on the last step, I spotted her. Her back was to me and her headphones were on, and what looked like a textbook was laid open in front of her.

She glanced back at me when the sound of footsteps breached the headphones, and her expression was the first thing I noticed. It was glum, like something was bothering her. I gave a quick wave and grabbed the seat opposite her, pulling out a book from my backpack as she returned to hers.

“You okay?” I whispered.

She glanced up at me. “No.”

“What happened?”

“Classmates pissing me off again.”

“Oh, boy.”

My first suspicion as to the cause was related to an event from several months earlier. Christine was a registered member of the campus’ College Republicans club; during October the previous year, some of the members of the club were doxxed. Xander, another werewolf we’d both come to know during the same Fall semester, noticed the info circulating in his social media feeds and warned her when hers was among them.

With only vague ideas as to who had made the info public, all we could think to do was file a police report and hope nothing happened because of the leaked info. It only took a day for that hope to vanish as both Xander and I got word that Christine was being harassed, in and out of classes. The fight she put up when the incidents continued to happen, usually the verbal kind with a few colorful ways of telling the agitators to screw themselves, we encouraged, and got involved in when we could. Wasn’t worth rolling over and sucking it up, I figured. Not when, for all we knew, that leaked information could be used in much worse ways.

“Yeah. That again. Fucking tools.”

“To put it lightly.”

Christine nodded. “The best part? They didn’t even wait for class to be over this time.”

I shook my head in response. “And let me guess: You were the only one told them to stuff it?”

“Not this time, thankfully. Professor told him to shut it or get out and take a failing grade.”

“Oh, ho. That’s a first.”

“Yeah. Didn’t stop him from keeping it up once class was out, though.”

I shook my head again, now thankful that we’d set aside some game time for tonight. It was well-warranted at this point. “So then, when do you want to head for Xander’s place?”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

With that, I texted him to let him know we were on our way and stood up from my chair. “Already am. I’m getting hungry.”

* * *

6:39 p.m.
Unit 2 Residential Hall, 2nd Floor

Xander’s apartment was an unmistakable one. His scent often lingered several yards into the hallway it faced, despite heavy traffic, and the walls of the major rooms were adorned with posters; games, metal bands, book covers and computer parts made up most of them.

Like my first encounter with Christine, I noticed Xander’s scent long before I saw his face. Several buildings had hints of it, but none concentrated enough that either I or Christine could pinpoint where he hung out most. Only when I passed him during an afternoon walk did I figure out who he was, though unlike the first meeting between Christine and me, and the weeks that followed, he seemed more willing to talk. Probably the biggest factor in how quickly we made friends with him. That and having another hunting partner was always a benefit, when all three of us agreed on portions that is.

“Hey, man.” I said as he let us in. He gave a quick nod before checking outside for something then closing the door.

“Still setting up the table. Give me a minute.” He said as he walked back into the dining area. As that went on, Christine and I found our character sheets and dice bags.

“We ordering out?” I asked.

“Already did, ten minutes ago.”

At that, I felt for a wad of bills in my right pocket; Christine thanked him as I did so. Pizza was what he usually ordered for nights like these, and as we got our spots ready, the order arrived.

All three of us took two slices to start, and Xander didn’t wait to finish his first bite before speaking. “Alright. Let’s do this.”

For a while, the game progressed as the last one had: Xander, playing the dungeon master, recited a bit of prose he’d written for the place Christine and I were searching, and then got our inputs on what to do next and acted on them.
The pattern repeated until, as 7:30 came around, something struck Christine to ask if either of us had been having issues with other students. “Uh, I’ve seen some acting like dicks to others, calling them racists and all that, but not to me personally.” Xander said.

“Same here.” I said. Things went quiet for a second. “Actually, since you brought that up, I did smell something odd on someone earlier. Some kind of black powder.” A curious ‘Really?’ was Christine’s response.

I continued after nodding. “Yeah. Pretty sure it’s from cheap fireworks.”

“Actually, I noticed that too.” Xander said. “Yesterday, when someone passed by me.”

The table went silent again, and my thoughts drifted to the articles I’d been reading earlier. As much as I wanted to write off my next thought as improbable, everything I’d read, as well as Christine and Xander’s inputs, wouldn’t let me. The well-known animosity among the student body towards views, and people, they didn’t like and the scents related to explosive items put the idea of ‘riot’ in my head. “Hope Nero’s guys are prepared to deal with whatever comes.” I said.

“I’m more worried about everyone who’s going to see him.” Christine said.

“Let’s hope we don’t see something like a riot, then.” I said.

“No kidding.” Xander said.

“Well, should we have a plan in case something like that happens?” Christine asked. “I mean, all three of us are going.”

Me and Xander looked at each other before agreeing to it; Christine’s first suggestion was using the side doors of the building if things went bad. I couldn’t help thinking Nero and his team had considered similar actions, and voiced that point.

“What if those entrances are blocked or something?” Xander asked.

I assumed he was talking about bodies, but barricades and other such things were also a possibility. When Christine couldn’t answer, I jumped in. “Then, we force our way through. After that, just run for it.”

“Yeah, but if that happens, I think we’ll need a gathering point too.” Christine said.

“This place would work.” Xander said. “It’s straight south of where the event’s taking place.”

“Good point.”

“Works for me.” I said.

“Alright then. If things go south, we haul ass back here.” I nodded in response and though we readjusted to the game and the stories soon after that sentence, my lingering worries about tomorrow stayed that way throughout the rest of the night.

Once a full night’s sleep was behind me, they were gone.

* * *

Friday, February 1st, 2017
Moon Phase – Waxing Crescent

As my classes began and progressed, I kept my nose trained for the scents I’d found yesterday, hoping I wouldn’t find them. My two morning classes went by without hint of them, though the students who were wearing mostly black drew my attention every so often. Although quite sure that was just a result of yesterday, seeing five such people within three hours stood out to me.

Once my second class ended, I had two hours to burn before my last one for the day. With my phone in hand, I went back to the news site I was using the day before, this time stumbling on an article I’d missed related to the coming event.

‘Anti-Fascists’ Plan to ‘Shut Down’ NERO’s Event at UC Berkel

Oh, boy. The article held most of my attention as I left the building I was in and headed for a local burger joint. Halfway into the piece, I sent its link to Christine and Xander with a message attached.

Sean W.Guys, heads up. We’ve got an ‘Anti-Fascist’
protest happening outside the building tonight.

Xander’s reply was quick to follow.

Xander D.Any change of plans, then?

Both of us waited for Christine, who took a few minutes to respond.

Christine A.Nah. Let’s just ignore them.

I finished ordering my meal before responding.

Sean W.Alright, then I’ll meet you guys on the
second floor at 6:00. See you both then.

With my stomach feeling a touch tighter, I waited for my meal and then found the quietest looking spot to sit and eat. Maybe I was overthinking things, but even that wouldn’t cause such a lingering bad feeling. It hadn’t before. Not within the months that followed me being bitten, nor my first few months of living in a new part of Cali.

Still, I tried to work at defusing the feeling as my last class went by; no heavily black clothed students came in to distract me, which was a help. Xander and Christine would be there with me, and the three of us could hold our own against one or a few rowdy students, if it came to that. Plus, we’d already worked out where to go if things turned tits up.

Once class was over, with the time not even at 3:00, I went walking. After a few blocks, with my headphones quiet enough to let me hear what the people I passed by were saying, I caught a bit that drew my ears, and my head.

“…the campus will even try and stop them.”

Without the rest of the sentence to go on, I was left assuming the girl who’d said that was talking about the upcoming protest. That was when a bout of curiosity struck me and I headed for the building where Nero’s event was scheduled. It was several blocks west of where I was, but walking that same direction meant I couldn’t track scents until someone passed me.

As I came within a block of the building, I began to make out a group of black clothed people in the distance. Guessing twenty or more, I moved south across the street. Despite the change, the closer I got to them, the less safe I felt, and couldn’t keep from glancing their direction or readying to shove them aside if they came my way.

When I reached a half a block away from where they were all standing, the winds changed to south-west. Right away I picked up foreign scents, but not the kind I was expecting. There were plant scents I didn’t recognize, stagnant scents I didn’t recognize, and many others that I couldn’t place before the breezes swept more scents into my nose. The rest were a sea of paint scents, paper scents, ammonia, bodily odors, and other such things.

Faking a yawn, I pulled a book I’d been reading from my backpack and leaned against a nearby brick wall. Another minute or so was all I wanted to stay in this position, if only to give myself the time to figure out some of these foreign scents. If that was possible.

Within that same minute, I could hear the protesters starting to shout at passersby, though thankfully just in slogans instead of insults or the like. As I glanced up to check on them, I shook my head and sighed, figuring it wasn’t worth it to be even this close to them. You idiots better not pull something tonight.

* * *

5:39 p.m.
MLK Jr. Student Union Building, 2nd Floor

It took several minutes after that encounter for me to find a gap I was comfortable with to slip into the building; for a moment as I did, I thought at least one of the crowd was shouting at me.

Inside, several security personnel had the room where the event was meant to take place cordoned off. With only three other students walking around, I headed upstairs and found another quiet spot in the bookstore, my book and my smartphone helping shave the minutes and hours away until Christine texted us.

Christine A.I’m here. Heading upstairs.

Sean W.I’m in the bookstore.

I waved her over as she came into the shop. “How the rowdy brigade outside?” I asked as she took the seat next to me.

“Loud and obnoxious.”

“Of course.” I said with a smirk. “Numbers?”

“Looked like forty or so.”

“Huh.” I felt a bit of relief at that. “Still have two hours to go, though.”

“Yeah. Hope they don’t do anything stupid.”

“Eh, if the past events are anything to go by…” Christine hummed a ‘Mmm-hm’ at that.

Xander arrived just after 6:00, by which time both of us had become absorbed in our choice of books; the red baseball cap he wore was tweaked as he came closer. “So,” he began as he grabbed a seat, “we gonna stay here until eight, or…?”

“Probably better get in there early.” Christine said. “Pick the good seats.”

I agreed and before long we were heading back downstairs, to the entrance of the event hall. Several guards, including campus police, were standing by the closed doors, a security setup I expected given the news I’d read for the past few months.

Once the three of us showed our tickets, we were allowed in, the doors being closed behind us. Almost two dozen students had already arrived, all scattered among the seats, the biggest group being just two.

“Wow. We are early.” Xander said.

“I’m not complaining.” I said, my attention on the middle of the front section. “Let’s get up front. Sixth row.” With no argument against the choice, Xander and Christine took their seats to my right, and the three of us went back to what we’d been doing in the bookstore.

It was during the next hour that almost all of the students who’d gotten tickets to the event, if seats occupied were the gauge of such, arrived; the section we’d picked filled up second. With the arrival of so many bodies, and the multitudes of scents that came along, many of which were unfamiliar, a twinge of concern started filling my head.

When Nero himself appeared on stage to a roaring applause, I checked my phone’s clock to make sure we hadn’t passed an hour that quickly, then joined Christine and Xander in applauding. His dress was what grabbed my attention the most otherwise. From the neck down, he was wearing a normal black suit with red tie, but on his head was a full Native-American headdress, feathers and all.

“Thank you.” He soon said. “It’s a pleasure to be here tonight,” he continued as the applause died down, “and forgive me for teasing you as I just did. I’m not coming out early, so for the moment, enjoy the very nice headpiece.” I joined the crowd in laughing as he stroked the feathers. “Now, having said that, I have come out this early to give all of you a heads-up. I’m sure at least, well, let’s not assume anyone hasn’t seen the rowdy bunch outside. Those goofballs and whiners in black clothes chanting the most inane things about all of you and I like some kind of cult. Ugh, creepy.” We all laughed again, and I noticed some look aside and nod.

“Anyway, my staff and I have received word that they intend to try and shut me down tonight.” The crowd started booing in response. “I know. So much for the anti-‘fascist’ side of these people. Now, we are going to try and make sure they cannot do this. You all have paid to see me, to ask questions, to have a good time and be safe from harm, but…but, should they act out enough to make this event more of a danger than a pleasure to all involved, we have an evacuation plan at the ready. It is my sincerest hope that we do not have to use it, but as I’ve seen over the past year, these people really do not care about others they disagree with. Even to the point of assaulting the innocent. Quite a shame.”

“But,” he clapped his hands, “enough of that depressing stuff. I’ll be ready in one more hour. Until then, keep your questions at the ready, and yourselves busy. Thank you.” Once again, the crowd erupted in applause, and all three of us joined in.

When it settled down and the noise of many voices overlapping came back, I checked the website where I’d seen the article about the shutdown. A new article, a live one detailing the event we were waiting for, had appeared.

Its first update showed several tweets about police helicopters circling the area, and right away, I tapped Christine’s shoulder. Before she looked at me, I held my phone out towards her. “Hey, Xander?” she said.

“Yeah?” I saw him start to read the updates along with her. “That’s not good.”

“No updates about the crowd size?” she asked.

“Didn’t see any.” I scrolled all the way down. Nothing. “I can sneak a peek, if you guys want.”

Despite the police presence, both Christine and Xander seemed wary to immediately answer. “I’ll go with him.” Christine eventually said.

“Alright. I’ll save the seats.” Xander said.

Once both Christine and I were standing again, she was the first to start whispering. “Man, I hope it’s not a big crowd.”

“Yeah, no joke.”

As we came closer to the exit, and then passed by the officers at the door, tickets in hand in case they asked for them, it didn’t take long to notice the mass of bodies just outside. Even on the first floor, we were higher up than they were, but what I’d seen as maybe forty before was now, I guessed, two hundred or more.

“Yeah, that explains a lot.” I said, feeling my heart begin to race a bit.

“Where’d they all come from?”

Despite the question, I didn’t answer. The crowd size alone made the possibility of out-of-town influence and bodies much more plausible. When we returned, Xander was quick to ask what things looked like outside; our answers left him shaking his head.

Afterwards, the time started trickling instead of racing by. Every few minutes, I checked the article for updates, and at 7:35, another one came. This time on the crowd size.

“You’re kidding me. Over four hundred now?” Christine’s voice and tone carried to the seats around us, and the students in front of us turned.

“Four hundred what?” one of them asked.

“Protesters.” I said, and held out my phone for them.

For several seconds, they read it in silence. “Gah, these people are insane.”

“Fingers crossed they don’t start something.” Xander said.

“No joke.” The students went back to what they’d been doing after asking for the site’s name, and I leaned back in my seat, trying not to let the news and what I’d seen get to me.

Several more minutes went by before some of Nero’s crew began helping him set up a podium, headset, pull-down screen and the projector. His headdress was gone, though with how hot it looked to wear, there was reason enough to remove it. 7:45. Not much longer.

It wasn’t but we didn’t get another five minutes uninterrupted.

With the room’s doors open, as 7:50 closed in, the sound of angry chanting began sounding from beyond it, and at once, everyone in the room had their attention in that direction. At once, my heart sped up. Some of the students near the door inched towards it to try and see what was going on.

“Everyone,” Nero suddenly shouted, “remain in the room. Don’t give these people a chance to hurt you.” He then started issuing commands, among them ‘Shut the doors.’ The beep of a handheld police walkie-talkie was followed shortly after by the doors slamming shut, muffling the noise from outside.

“Gah, this is worse than I thought.” He paused and put a hand to his chin. “Alright, everyone, listen up.” He continued once enough people were paying attention to him; he’d been joined by two bodyguards since the time I’d turned around. “I know it’s nerve-wracking, but please listen. Take some breaths for me for a moment.” Again he waited for enough of the audience to do just that. “Good. Given what’s going on, I’m sorry to say this after you’ve all been so patient tonight, but I think this is getting too dangerous for everyone here and this event has to be, at best, postponed.”

Groans and sighs sounded throughout the entire room, with a peppering of expletives at the disruptors. “I know. I’m very sorry, but I’d rather not give these people the chance they want to hurt you. They will, I’ve seen it, and all of you mean too much to this country, and this college, and your peers, for that to happen.”

“Now, as I’ve said, we have an evacuation plan in place for this sort of thing. A door behind the stage into the hallway outside. The campus police and my security team will direct all of you outside, and from there, I want you all to keep safe and leave the area. Alright?”

The audience replied with nods and quick words, and then the security team took over. “Alright. First rows, stand up and follow Nero. The rest of you, start forming lines behind them.” Xander, Christine and I did just that, filling in behind the students we’d spoken to a while ago. My nerves, in turn, were battered.

“Can’t fucking believe these dicks.” One of them eventually said.

“Oh, you’re not the only one steamed.” Christine said as she cracked her knuckles.

As miffed as I was that the event had been crashed by the protesters, I couldn’t think to speak in agreement. I was already tensing from the eyes that could be on me, even if they weren’t intently doing so. Encouraging more was only make it worse.

The open disgust the people around me were channeling continued as the three of us continued to move towards the rear exit, something that helped to a degree. Along the way, a scent makeup I’d long become familiar with began to stand out among the thousands from the crowd: fear. It varied to extents and I couldn’t tell who any of them came from, but it was something I couldn’t blame anyone for feeling right then.

Several minutes passed before I saw the doors leading to the outside, the area beyond lit mostly by street lamps. Near the exit, Nero was standing with a bodyguard, shaking the hands of anyone who wanted them shaken. With Christine ahead of me, I heard her thank him for his time before heading for the exit. On my approach, my heart was thundering, and the shake I gave immediately felt too limp.

“Chin up, man.” Nero suddenly said with a beaming smile. I almost took him literally.

“I’ll try. Thanks for coming.”

“A pleasure, and thank you as well.”

I nodded to him and then released his hand, giving Xander a glance before I stepped aside. The closer I got to Christine, away from the line of students behind me, the more I could once again hear the same angry chanting. They were close, and as soon as he joined us, we were off, heading left from the exit.

At the first corner we rounded, we stopped. The protestors, who had formed a loose wall just beyond the edge of the building, were being lit by a flickering orange light. Thanks to the wind direction, I couldn’t tell by scent what was going on, but a flicker like that screamed fire.

Xander then spoke up, as though he’d read my thoughts. “Are they burning something?”

“Looks like it.” I said.

“Then, not this way.” Christine agreed, and we backpedaled, but the other side was just as bad.

“Let’s go around.” I suggested. How far the crowd was spread made crossing the nearby street the only real way I could see to keep at a distance. But we only made five steps in that direction before a sudden, loud bang made us stop.

Fireworks. The things I immediately associated with the black powder I’d smelled before.
A second one went off shortly after, this one in the street we were heading towards, and as though both bangs were a signal, I saw the crowd start to shift and spread, like ants who’d had their nest destroyed. Some crossed the street, while others started moving our way, either chanting or screaming.

“C’mon.” Xander said as four of the black clothed protesters moved closer, and he pushed both me and Christine towards the street. Though I tried to ignore them, the minute their shouting seemed directed at us, I glanced and saw no reason to think otherwise.

‘Fucking racists’ was the first thing out of one of their mouths, before they, and then another one, closed in on us.

“The fuck you think you’re doing?” Xander snarled back as he stepped between them and me and Christine.

“Shutting down you hateful pigs.” They said.

“Try it. You’ll fucking regret it.”

Even before Xander said that, I could feel my body tensing again. My heartrate climbing. I wanted to get some kind of scent off these people, find out if they had something else stashed away. The wind right then was no help, and I didn’t want to move.

Another firework went off to my left. I heard glass shatter in the distance. What was I doing? Xander couldn’t take these two alone.

“Too chickenshit, ya fascist fucks?” Christine said.

Without warning, after the one closest to her snapped his head her way, they lunged. What happened next, I swore I didn’t fully control.

They got ahold of Christine’s jacket and tee, and I lunged at the outstretched arm. As soon as I grabbed it, my left arm was swung. I felt the back of my hand connect with a muffled ‘thap’ against the fabric of the beanie her attacker wore, the sting from the hit the proof I’d hit my bones the hardest.

“Get off her.” Xander growled. He went for their chest and face as Christine reached for her keys. The grip of her attacker held firm, and her tee began to tear as we pushed them back; only when she stabbed them in the hand did they let go.

That was when I reached for what Xander wasn’t grabbing, snagging the attacker’s bandana. One yank tore it free, and with it came an instant recognition. It was the student I’d overheard yesterday. The one who smelled of black powder.

He then swiped at me, trying for the object he needed to conceal himself. “No you don’t.” Xander then flung him aside, his balance not lasting more than a second before he fell and impacted the sidewalk.

I should’ve been more observant after that.

The sound of something spraying snapped my head to the right, the scent of de-pressurized oxygen what I noticed before what came next: capsaicin. Right away, my entire olfactory sense was stinging from the spice, my eyes filling with tears in turn, though it was Xander’s scream of anguish, how long it lasted, how deep the sound cut into my heart, which got every part of my body to start pushing overdrive. My heart, my eyes, my lungs, everything from my head down.

The instant my eyes were cleared, I zeroed in on the other black clothed asshole. The pepper spray mist hadn’t cleared, and I saw the can. It was all I needed to see.

One second. That was all it took for me to close the distance on our second attacker. A snarl got away from me as I snagged his arm and wrenched the can from him. If that was how he wanted to fight…

A fist slamming into my ribs stung the whole of my right side. When I looked his way, it was just in time to duck from a swing at my head. Still grasping his arm at the elbow, I found the spray tab on the can and held it. The hissing of expelling gas was my cue to aim at everything about this guy that I could. Even if I couldn’t get the spray in his eyes and face, the can would soon be spent. The once unfavorable wind was now an ally there, the cloud of pepper blowing his way instead of mine, though some still reached my nose and misted my eyes in turn.

Two swings in, as the cloud was blown over his face, I saw his eyes shut. He gave a single cough, then another, before groaning, and I slammed the bottom of the can against his hooded head. The spray was getting weaker. His free hand reached up to rub the spot, and that I also tried to hit. Only one finger was struck, but his hand recoiled. How weak the can now sounded made me fling it away to free a hand, and like the one before, the mask this one wore was my target.

It was a beanie/bandana combo again, the beanie patched with a black and red flag symbol that I didn’t know the origin of. It slipped off with no effort, but his bandana was tied tight and his head was yanked along with it. Assured at that that it wasn’t worth holding onto, I thrust my body forward and slammed into the guy. The impact went through my left shoulder and knocked him backwards, his stumble turning into a fall on his ass.

How fast my breathing was, how growl-laced it sounded, and the taste of blood in my mouth all went ignored as I kept my focus on the stunned protestor. No, assailant. He didn’t deserve a title in line with showcasing dislike and nothing more. Not after what he did. Then it hit me. I knew he would get up and keep going. He’d already used pepper spray on us. What else did he have?

I made for his jacket, holding his head down to make sure he didn’t reach for anything beyond my arm. “Sean,” I heard Christine shout. I ignored her, but she then rushed me and tried to pull me away. “Leave him.”

“Not after what he did.” I said as she managed to pull me to my feet.

“Just…stop. Look at your hands.”

I tried to look at her, but the from behind bear hug she had me in kept me from doing so. What I saw when I did, the bone white claws of my werewolf form, made the tension around my chest and the wobbliness of my legs all the more obvious. On instinct, I licked my teeth. My fangs had grown too.

As dark as it was around me, the fear of being seen was suddenly all my head was dominated with.

“C’mon.” Christine tugged me from behind, towards Xander, who was wiping his eyes. His face was deep red from the pepper spray, but the second he saw me, he joined Christine in pushing me.

My breathing stayed quickened, and laced with wolfish growls, as we blew past the mass of bodies lining Bancroft Way. The length of the street Xander and Christine had chosen to hurry me down was lined on both sides with shops, and well-lit too. There weren’t as many people as usual, but all it would take was one.

For the whole of the block, the gain of mass in my muscles steadily put more strain on my clothing. My tee started ripping before we reached the intersection, but my abdomen was fighting a belt and button, not to mention denim, however loose it was, around my legs. The pressure that built around both points added groans to the animalistic breathing I was already plagued with.

“Oh, fuck, we’re not gonna make it.” Christine said, her tone dripping with worry. We’d since passed the intersection, into the street vendor part of Telegraph Ave. With my olfactory sense spiking in sensitivity, both her and Xander’s fear scents began to stand out among the hundred plus others it was processing.

“Then cover his head.” Because I didn’t have a hood on my now tightening jacket, it was Christine who stopped pushing me to free her arms and get her jacket off. With a glance at her when she came close again, I saw how bad the tear in her tee was. Almost down to her bra clip.

“I’m sorry, Christine.” I said. My voice had already deepened.

“Shh. Keep quiet.” She said before threw the coat over me. The hood and midsection flapped over my head, forcing me to look down to watch my step. “C’mon. Keep moving.”

We crossed the next intersection a few seconds after she said that. Haste St. was the next street south, and one block further was Xander’s dorm. My throat was drying from the sweat my skin had been pumping out, the now tighter fit of my clothes not helping.
Then the itching came. From my back, around my chest, down my arms and legs, all because of the pelt and tail I was growing. The attempt I then made to at least reach my chest caused a rip to sound, one too loud to be from just cotton; how tight my jacket was kept my arm from moving very far, a torturous discovery with how bad the itching was getting.

It was what I knew was coming next that made me speak up. “The park.”

“We’re not far.” Christine said. “C’mon, hurry.” Not wanting to leave them behind, I matched the increase in haste from her and Xander. With a flick up of my head, I threw Christine’s jacket up enough to just see the third intersection approaching, and as we approached, I felt hints of movement in my ears, jaw and skull. My chest and feet would follow, and if I was standing when they did, how much pain my lungs would project would draw everyone’s attention towards me.

The popping of bones sounded most from my skull and jaw as Xander and Christine rushed me into the park, towards what I hoped was a dark part of it. “Over there.” Xander said. They pushed me into the grass of the main field, towards what I was certain were the large oak trees, as both bones went slack with one more audible pop.

“Alright.” He said before we at last slowed down and stopped. “Get down, man.” With my muzzle still forming, I let him and Christine help lower me to my knees; though she let go, letting my left paw land in the cold grass, Xander held my right arm up, ready to pull me back to my feet once they’d taken shape.

After all the haste we’d put into getting here, and how hot I was under all the clothing, I took every moment to pant and draw some cold breaths as I kicked my shoes off. I ripped my clothing even more as I tried to reach my belt, to free my abdomen somewhat.

“I got it.” Christine reached for the belt and uncoupled it, loosening it to the furthest holes before grabbing my jeans and undoing the button. I wanted to tell her not to do any more, but the relief of pressure from the zipper being pulled down killed my drive to say so.

It took several more seconds before my chest was next to change. The reforming of my ribcage caused more rips in my tee shirt and the pitch of my panting to rise. Now wishing I had some cloth to bite down on, I clenched my jaws, readying for the worst part. The feeling of thick rods being shoved into my leg muscles just before my hind paws would form. It came within seconds of me thinking about it, the gasps of pain I made easily escaping through my clenched muzzle, but a minute later, it was done.

Xander didn’t wait to see if I could stand before pulling me up, and telling Christine to help. Now on my werewolf legs, I couldn’t help smiling to myself or even letting a huffing chuckle get past me as they led me through the park, to the dorms, and upstairs to Xander’s dorm. All his scents were an immense comfort and contrast to the panic of the last twenty or so minutes.

“Grab some scissors.” He said as he led me towards his couch and let me sink down onto it. Once Christine had her jacket back, my own was cut down the back, freeing my shoulders and arms, allowing me to pull off everything still wrapped around me, before flopping on my back on the couch.

“Sorry about this, guys.” I said as we all caught our breath.

“Don’t be.” Christine said. “Wasn’t our fault those fucks attacked us.”

“You okay, man?” I asked of Xander.

“My eyes still hurt…” It was obvious he wanted to rub them, but his hands kept from doing it. “Be right back. Gonna wash them out real quick.”

Christine spoke as I watched him get up and head for the bathroom. “Hey, I kept your trophies.” At first curious what she was talking about, she presented the black bandana and beanie I’d pulled from the attackers with a smile. “Thanks for everything you did.”

“You’re welcome.” I held up a fist for her and she bumped it before handing me the two articles of clothing. Once they were in my paws, what to do with them became my major question.

They’d be loaded with scents, no doubt; even at the distance I was holding them, I could already notice about ten. The symbol on the beanie however… The red and black flags. What did it mean? Were these guys part of a larger group, and what were they?

Whatever the meaning, I had plenty of time to look into it, though I couldn’t shake the feeling that what we’d just gone through wasn’t the last we would see or hear of this kind of thing.

“Le Chapeau Rouge”

Officer O’Bannon finds more than he expects after tracking down a mysterious killer

Written by Escoffier of GAB

People often assume cops have seen it all and usually they’re right — tonight was turning out to be the exception.

The bodies lay there, limbs akimbo, throats torn out. Bright red blood shone dully from every available surface. The one thing T.V. and movies can’t convey is the smell, which hung low in the air, redolent of a slaughterhouse. Iron and trash in a disturbing mix.

The bodies themselves showed a level of savagery hard to explain, let alone understand. These were college kids, not gang bangers, found in an alley where they’d been killed in minutes, not tied to chairs in some abandoned warehouse and worked over for days with blow torches and primate-like savagery.

Officer O’Bannon felt that spot in his soul, the one that had been rubbed raw on this damned job, throb like a demon had take a cheese grater to it. Oh yeah, there were demons, as any cop could tell you after enough vino to make the veritas possible.

He ran a shaking hand over his mouth, his mustache a reassuring rasp. He peeked inside that box, the one every cop has, the one you put the bad things in until you could drown them in liquor or burn them up with sex, and closed the box with a sigh. He looked around the circle of officers, each one similarly disturbed, and then around the dank space. Something didn’t add up, and if there’s one thing cops hate, it’s the unexplained. That’s what gets you hurt.

One of the older cops gestured between the bodies. “What are those?” He was pointing at a tattoo both bodies shared of two flags overlapped, one red, one black.

“They’re antifa.” One of the rookies said.

They all knew who antifa were. Every cop did. Trustifarian assholes, college students mostly, that busted shit up and caused property damage for fun. A bunch of goddamn commies who’d gotten more than one cop hurt or fired. To O’Bannon, it was funny how those who talked big about standing up for the working man were usually soft-handed little manlets and blue-haired dykes who’d never actually worked a job. But that still didn’t explain why they’d been chopped up and left like trash.

The alley behind the row of bars on Division Street were eerily silent considering the crush of humanity partying like the damned not fifty feet away. Division Street had been a party destination back when sailors came looking for a good time while in port. It was an old school city street with an alley running in either direction and meeting in the middle.

A group of giggling females soon crashed into the space, noisy as crows and as inappropriate as breaking glass. As they stopped and then drew breath to scream, an eerie wail rose from somewhere south of the location.

O’Bannon and the other officers whirled, hearts beating wildly and guns in hand. One of the rookies discharged his weapon to withering glares from the rest of the group. The first voice had died out to be replaced by another, this one pleading and crying. Too far away to make out any actual words, just the tone of nauseated terror. The chagrined rookie gunslinger was detailed to wait with the bodies as the rest crashed down the alley toward the babbling voice.

Nearing State, they turned south in a junction alley. Unlike the previous alley, this one was only intermittently lit; O’Bannon’s biggest fear at that moment was being shot by a fellow cop.

The sounds of a struggle were clear – grunts, scuffling. A light got bumped sending crazed shadows fluttering across the space, highlighting two struggling shapes. The sleeker shape yanked its arms across the other, smaller shape and then buried its head, biting and snapping.

The officers, O’Bannon included, stood dumbstruck for a moment. Then, almost as if by silent signal, all pushed forward yelling a welter of confused commands. Come, go, stop, drop. No one person could follow all the commands, the purpose of which was to take control of madness and bring order out of chaos. They failed utterly.

He, it, whirled with a snarl. Bright green eyes blazing with intelligence took their measure as inhuman jaws dripped darkly. With regal haughtiness, the creature ignored their yelling, hopped gracefully up onto a dumpster, and then effortlessly up to the roof and faded into the inky darkness, for all the world an enormous house cat. Not one of them thought to take a shot, though O’Bannon was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one whose hands were shaking.

They decided to split up, leaving another officer with the latest victims. As they were preparing to leave, one of the cops pointed. “Look, it’s the same tattoo.” O’Bannon paused and checked. Damned if he wasn’t right. Both bodies sported the doubled flag tattoo. What the hell was going on here?

Two officers headed back down the original alley while the rest headed out to Elm street, hoping to cut off the perp’s ability to escape via rooftop. Two cops, guns out, tended to get people’s attention on a busy street and soon they were attracting a lot of attention. People were pointing, asking questions, and taking pictures with their cellphones.

One of the remaining rookies was detailed to run interference, ’bout the only thing they were really good for, then O’Bannon saw the creature shimmy down the side of a building about halfway up the block like a raindrop on a window pane. It stood for a minute, nostrils flaring, and its head moving this way and that. Ignoring all the people on the street, it stiffened and ran across the street into the cross alley between Elm and Maple.

O’Bannon took off after it; what other officers could followed as quickly as prudence allowed. Screams trailed after them as people finally reacted to the sight of the beast. Why hadn’t the monster attacked the people on the street? Was it hunting certain people? The antifa? Why? Another scream put some hustle in their steps, though they turned the corner just in time to see the creature drop another body and scamper up the wall again. Clearly it liked traveling by rooftop.

They split again, leaving O’Bannon on his own, traveling down another dark alley. There was a scuffling ahead of him, so he crept down the cramped space, sweat trickling down underarms, into his vest, making it itch. Ahead of him was a line of five dumpsters; the action was behind the last one in line.

Edging around the final dumpster, officer O’Bannon confronted a horrific scene. The creature had torn open the stomach of its latest victim, and was rooting around in there for the tasty bits. Then it froze, before turning to face him and slowly rising to its feet. The blazing green eyes drank him in, intelligence evident. Being a cop in a big city meant seeing some weird shit, but even in O’Bannon’s case, he never got entirely used to it.

It took him a moment to find his voice. “What…Who are you?” O’Bannon felt foolish. Why did he assume it could talk?

The creature studied him for a moment more before doing the oddest thing, something Officer O’Bannon had seen done in movies a hundred time before. It swept an imaginary hat off its head and bowed forward gracefully. Exactly like in the Three Musketeers.

Because the mouth wasn’t entirely human, and the creature had a heavy accent, it was hard to understand. “I am the Comte De Sprague.” It stood again.

“You mind telling me why you’re eating college students?”

It had the decency to look mildly chagrined. “Merde. Sometimes…the instincts, they are quite, how you say…strong. But my mission tonight was not merely to sate my belly but one of revenge!” Its eyes roared with hatred, and Officer O’Bannon took a step back without realizing. His hands tightened on the grip of his service weapon. He made sure his finger was off the trigger.

“Why are you killing innocent college kids?”

“Innocent?” It barked out a laugh. “Non, monsieur, non, these innocents, these antifa!” He spat. “They are murderers and worse. They have killed her…my Louise.” He choked back a sob. “And now I am doomed to wander this earth alone. Forever.”

O’Bannon could see something, some realization, creep into the things eyes. “So they killed someone you loved?” O’Bannon was trying to keep him, it, whatever, talking until the other officers rejoined him.

“Oui, monsieur, they killed my life, my love, and now I am alone.”

“But why? Why did they kill her?”

“Because we were at La Grande Affair! C’est magnifique! C’est bon!” The creature was waving like the Queen of England and tossing kisses to imaginary admirers.

“The what?”

“Your new president. Monsieur Trump. We attended his coronation with the great pride, and we each wore le chapeau rouge. It is how they recognized us as supporters. We were not as this…” He gestured at his lean furred body. “I have another form; it is how you say…the prosaic? I am two hundred and fifty years old so I am not appearing the young. Those ‘innocents,’” he laid a top spin of sarcasm and loathing on the word, “assaulted us, the nice old couple, oui? They beat us with the plumbing and took our hats. And then they laugh and call us Nazis. Us? I fight the Nazis! But my Louise, she did not survive.” He choked up again and seemed to lose the narrative thread.

“So why today? Why are you killing them today?” O’Bannon wondered where the hell everybody else was.

“Ah, oui, today they ‘beat the rap’ as you say, that phrase tres enchante, no? Today they walk free as a bird, oui? Their fancy lawyers say we call them names, what you say? Racist? Like we call them monkeys? But no monsieur, we were the happy, celebrating and from nowhere they strike and today they walk free. I could not live with this so I come, I take my revenge.”

He straightened, a strange light in his eye. “I have lived for many years monsieur gendarme, I have what you call the tired. I saw the Grand Revolution in my country go so very badly and I escaped, my ‘eart breaking. I went to Russia but again the Revolution, it went so very bad. But here, here it was different. And again, I am hoping it will return to what God himself intended.” He began to slowly walk toward Officer O’Bannon.

“Stop! Dammit! Stop or I shoot!” O’Bannon backed away slowly.

“I never knew why I was like this. If God were cruel or perhaps it was my many sins. But without my Louise I am already dead.” The creature crouched. His back arched and jaws spread impossibly wide.

O’Bannon was never able to recall the moment his finger found the trigger. The moment his sights acquired the creature. The exact moment he fired.

It wasn’t like in the movies, but death never was, after a couple of minutes a wizened old man lay crumpled in the alley. Apparently, plain old nine millimeter bullets worked just fine. No silver required. Where the hell did those old wives tales come from? They were almost never true. Almost.

Suicide by cop. Every cop had a story. After kids they were usually the saddest ones. O’Bannon sighed and got back to work.