Last Wolf and Man, a Scifi Story
A Science Fiction Story by Tamara Wilhite
“I am the last man alive.”
“I am the last real werewolf.”
The words on the page stared back at me like an accusation. I hated the contradictions of what I tried to write, and I hated being human enough to feel hatred at something so abstract as my identity. Then I pushed away the start of what I hoped to be a memoir and began my rounds.
The jail was mostly quiet, except for the damned pigeons outside. That was a good sign. The flapping of wings might be my earliest warning of another attack.
I stopped at my old cell. As a human, I stood here and savored the irony of my freedom of movement here while still being trapped within these walls. As a werewolf, I only felt bad. Trapped. Caged. My human mind attached human words to the other emotions from the wolf times. As if I were human now. Well, most of the time. The others never became human at any time that I saw – those more often wolves killed the weaker ones and ate them when they had the chance. Natural selection. Or unnatural selection. I couldn’t decide which, so I focused on the daily needs of survival.
I locked the gates to the prison as I went through each. Each cell block was a fall back point, and each had to be secure. My own sleeping place alternated between the guard’s office and a cell in the center of the two middle units in the row. The guard’s office was theoretically the most secure. The center held the food area and the entrance to the rec yard. That made it the most dangerous place to be – easiest way in and out, and the first place any werewolves that got in would go. I’d moved most of the food to various cell blocks, so that I’d have it no matter where I was trapped. But food remained in that central meeting place. They’d stop there to eat if I left it there. That would buy time for me to come closer and kill them. If there was no food, they’d come straight for me to eat instead.
The pigeons flew up to higher when I approached, but dared not go over the wall where they might be reached by others outside. The courtyard fence was secure. Not even bloody paw prints from an attempt to scale it overnight. The wall showed signs of recent scaling attempts, marked by bloody remains of a dumb migratory bird. Oh, how I wished I’d been at Alcatraz. Strong stone walls nothing could scale, swift currents werewolves probably couldn’t swim across, and it was a bird sanctuary. Lots of food, no matter what form I was, and lots of security. Just my luck, the experiment was done here instead of a reasonable and secure location like Alcatraz. But some California biotech bureaucrat who let the morphing virus be developed wouldn’t let it actually be tested close to home. So it was tester here instead. On me.
Idiots! I didn’t get out of juvie all those times due to paperwork errors. An adult prison was simply a little harder. And when it mattered most, I did get out.
The grass was getting tall. Enough bugs and worms here to keep the pigeons fed, at least. Enough of them to keep me fed and not eat the last couple of slim jims and cheese whiz. I only barely had the sense to save a few of the good items when those werewolves got in as a pack over the wall and went straight for the cafeteria for the last pickings. Skipping me for the slim jims and cheese. The aging convenience food wouldn’t fight back `til after they ate it. That’s when I learned to keep food there and in the rec yard corner, so that they wouldn’t head straight for me on breach. Fortunately, they were too hungry to think of silence, not like real wolves. Enough warning of noise and too much focus on food that I got all of them with shot guns that day except for one short sprint to a closed cell, then shooting those that tried to paw in and eat me.
Now for the part of the day I hated most. Up to the guard tower and around the perimeter. I kept that gate open all of the time. If a werewolf got in the rec yard again, having gotten past the two razor wire fences and the 9 foot brick wall, the open gate looked inviting. The next one might go in thinking it was a way in to where the human went. I’d actually gone in to try to fix the outer layer of the guards’ fence section the first time. That was Hell, being in this four meter wide broken sod and grass ahead of me and a fledgling werewolf behind me, and unable to shoot it because I’d only taken tools with me. Now I always had the gun.
Fortunately, the fence section I was worried about most wasn’t big enough for the others to get in through yet. And a stray pair of fence clippers I tripped on while running was enough for me to kill the bastard when it tried to rip my throat out. Must have been a strong kid when human.
The sound and smell of the dying werewolf made the others stop trying to get me then and let me get back for a gun. Then I fixed the section of fence they’d tried to get in from.
So I couldn’t maintain the fence. Werewolves had figured out how to pile up to climb over a fence and really didn’t care if they got tore up in the process. They must have run out of easy animals, human, and part-time human prey. It was down to just packs hunting each other and me. I’d eat fish, if I was at Alcatraz, just hang fishing hooks and bird guts as bait. But no, I only got birds. They were the other reason the werewolves stayed near. Everywhere else, the birds except the cliff dwellers or bats were extinct. My food was their first choice entree, though they weren't above trying to take a chunk out of my hide.
The fence was as good as I could make it. The prison shop had lots of wood working but no metal working. The barbed wire stakes and barely buried shims and poop sticks were the best I’d do for now.
It was hours into the morning. I stopped working and laid down in the sun. Someone had once said it was very important to do to stay healthy, and I needed my health. And it was still warm, with only a hint of chill in the breeze. Oh, thank whatever weird god there was that winter was late this year and didn’t have to start burning pigeon poop yet to avoid freezing.
The pigeon smell hit my limit, and I checked the perimeter of the building. No werewolves on the roof. If they got up on the roof and started to tunnel down or just managed to fall through, I had nothing but the shotgun and dwindling number of shells. I could make more ammo by melting broken metal, but powder was hard. At least shivs, knives, and bladed weapons were in good supply. Never run out of those in any prison. I headed inside to the showers. There was a fancy rainwater collector and cistern thing here. Somebody’s “green” graduation project for college, before they went off to design real buildings.
I couldn’t complain, since it caught enough of the once in a while rains to keep me from dying of thirst. It even kept the animals and their crap out. Or, at least I never got sick drinking it. I had only the harsh soap left that they used on crazy homeless whackos, but used it. Couldn’t risk a skin infection and having to cut off a body part. I needed all of mine. Washed my clothes, too. The shower was a little insecure, but it had strong lock downs because of all the gay riots there back in the 2010s.
Back to the sun to dry. Laying still, a pigeon forgot I was a predator and warbled by. My hand flipped over by its own volition and grabbed it. It stopped moving and my hand stuffed it in my mouth. Sometimes, I thought it tasted worse than prison food. Sometimes I thought it tasted better than spam omelets my foster parents made before I tried to burn their house down. Ate two more hunks from the other side, I sat up and took the bird apart. Ate most of it but didn’t dare eat the insides. The memories of nearly dying from swallowing crunched pigeon bones while still werewolf twisted up my insides.
The raw meat settled in my stomach. I guess I wasn’t entirely human or it might have grossed me out. Or I saw so much stuff as a werewolf that I couldn’t get grossed out anymore. I got up and put the rest of the bird on the trash pile. The flies were lazing about it, but that was something the pigeons ate. Lucky discovery on my part, making a pile of dead pigeons and occasional dead werewolf to bring in the bugs that kept the pigeons here.
I went to the middle block to the cafeteria. How many days of just pigeons had I had? Even cheese whiz and slim jims were just one every full moon as I changed back, my human suffering ration. I needed fruit and vegetables and other stuff to stay healthy and to help keep me human enough to stay alive. Yeah, time for fruit. One of the last couple cans, something the werewolves only banged at if thirsty.
The only advantage of fruit was it saved me from needing water, too. I kept the leftover cans and put them in every cell, water for when I was trapped. Then I could let a werewolf rage until I had un-jammed my gun or lured it close enough to spear.
Now the big decision of the day – where to spend the night. I’d spent the past nights in different cells all along. Needed to change routines, in case one was smart enough to figure out that I had one. Had to be the guard station at least once if only to put a strong smell there for werewolves to go look for me there. That’s where they wanted to go in big numbers during a riot, when they were human. Close it up, lock them in, smoke up the air ventilation and suffocate them all. That’s what I did when I returned to the prison to stay. What I thought about doing when they made me clean all the air vents here, because of my size.
You were one of those things, werewolf, and now you’re human. The cure has to be in your blood. Billions and gazillions of people are going werewolf from the virus we tried on you and you’re human again – we need your blood to make the cure, they said when they caught me. “What you actually want is in the prison,” I said.
They did a military clean up of the prison, the werewolves and all. That was a challenge in a high security prison. In the middle of the pandemic, no less, when guys good with guns were life itself. And I knew the territory, having been the three years before the experiment.
I locked the guard station door when they went in to secure it. Oh, how I hated this room. The slobs watching me from behind the bullet proof glass. With their high power guns and heat rays and gas grenades and tasers. That’s why prisoners wanted to take this room over. But werewolves with memory would remember to want to come here, because it was supposed to safe. So was the experiment. Supposed to be.
Burned down a house, not caring if my foster parents died. They didn’t, but I lost what life I had anyway. Add in a couple escape attempts and getting caught a couple more times because I didn’t really care about coming back, and that added a half a lifetime sentence and adult prison. I’d survived foster care, and I’d survived the first newbie initiation attempts after arriving. Added a few more years to my sentence though. But I knew how to fight and how to fight here. Nowhere else had that chance for me.
Between handfuls of gooey fruit scooped from the can, memories came. Half awake, half asleep, the sugar the only high I had unless I magically found someone else’s hidden hooch by accident. Hadn’t happened in moons.
“You’re in here for another 30 years, and you aren’t even 20 yet. What are you going to do when you get out?” Just another adult authority figure voice, booming out orders I never wanted to follow.
“I don’t care,” I said.
“If you don’t care about your life, would you at least consider doing something with it?”
“Like what? Only way I get good behavior points is in solitary.”
“We can get you good behavior points without solitary.”
“Who do you want me to kill?”
“No, no, something else. It’s an … experiment.”
“Do I get to try LSD? I bet it will make me a really good prisoner,” I offered.
“Well, there are drugs involved,” someone said. There was an edge to it, like they weren’t really lying. The lie within the truth. I took the easy hook and agreed.
It felt like this back then. The half awake and half asleep state when they put the change virus in me. I got weirder. Then I went wolf. They pumped in the anti-wolf serum a couple hours later. Back to me, almost. Left me strapped to the table while they did lots of tests. It wasn’t technically solitary confinement so it was somehow legal. The new enhancement – but not a sex kind. Stronger, faster, better sense of smell, lots of running without being tired, stomach that doesn’t care what you eat. Super soldier, someone said. They pumped in too much virus one round, then almost enough cure to correct that mistake. Nearly killed me. Figured they’d cured me good enough, so they stuck me in my cell, in case I did die.
I was mad as hell, and that crap was burning me up inside. I got riled up in ways that felt like I did when I might or might not have killed my biological parents, if it really was me. I was too young to be really guilty. Was found with the bodies and no good memory and not enough strength and other big words to be guilty. Maybe whacko enough to have done it. Maybe just whacko from seeing them killed, from the stranger they ended up blaming. But they were dead and it was off to the strangers’ houses, and I never cared again. Until these poisons did their work. Now I cared, but not in a good way.
Freaked out the cell mate, who got the guards in, who I took out. Reinforcements came, and cell mate helped to fight to get out – and he’s who let other guys out, who started a riot, which led to a lot of guys trying to get out. That these vicious dogs wanted to go after the guards' jugulars was only made more powerful by the actions of the pack, even for prisoners not infected.
The juices made me go back toward wolf again. The action made my heart pound, made the virus or whatever come back full strength. I got stronger, faster, a little furrier, eyes changing colors, no extra teeth but a lot of slobber while seeing my teeth just one more weapon. Got cut by some blades and weapons in use by prisoners who now had another reason to want out. I bled on some people and bit some and got out through the mess. Ran and ran and got out, while others started going wolf and security was too busy trying to stop them to chase me. Or to protect the scientists who were trying to get me or were changing when attacked by others.
Found a safe place somewhere and hid. Not sewers, but storm drains gone dry. I killed and ate everything bloody during the moons. Slept or rested most of he rest of the time. Ambushed anything that fell into the drains otherwise. Lots of baby ducks, kittens and puppies, occasional drowning squirrel and once a dressed up Chihuahua. I didn’t know it was that until I was mostly human again and trying to remember what the tutu came from, until I found the shredded remains of a dog sweater in the same color. I wasn’t really human, wasn’t really wolf, my body trying to figure out what is was and supposed to be. I wasn’t anything but alive and free until I heard the howls.
I ran up to be with the pack. But they didn’t like me. They had full fur. They had bigger bodies than me. Bigger muscles, bigger teeth, and way more members. I was too human to run with the wolves. They decided I was human enough to eat.
I had to run for my life, and having human hands gave me ability to climb higher in a tree than the were-wolves could jump. Were-wolves then, when they still looked some human. Now, they’re just wolves. No human left in them at all.
I ran for shelter to some building. Felt more human that moment than I’d been in the sewers, but couldn’t really think at all. Building after building, either werewolves inside hiding from sunlight or dead and more dead everything. I went back to the storm drains to hide.
Only after sleep did I hear them tracking me. The flowing water covered my smell enough that they couldn’t quite catch it enough to find me. Being so big, two times my size or more, they couldn’t fit in some of the spots I slept in. I’m small for a human. But they ran above freely at night, eating everything, people and animals. I couldn’t care for human screams, except that those people should have had more guns that I rarely heard them use and needed better aim when I did hear the shots.
I did feel hunger as they ate so many screeching animals that nothing came down the drain anymore. No more lost pets. No more wandering ducks. A raccoon, once, running and hiding. A skunk that I didn’t catch but ran from me and into the jaws of a nearly-wolf.
It was amazing that no uninfected humans came down to hide. Like anything down here was worse than what was on the surface. I was hungry, but I wasn’t sure I would have at them. I would have eaten their human food first.
Did eating people make the were-wolves more wolf? Was eating humans a kind of final barrier, that we avoid cannibalism, but eating people an admission you're no longer human? Or did they go for people in an effort to become like what they consumed, an effort to become more human?
I did eat some fish or swimming bugs or frogs, animals in the water Human memories of fancy cooking shows from an old lady’s house letting me know it was food. Remembering that was enough to keep me fed, and made me want to remember more of being human. Memories kept me from starving, so I fought the wolf to remember.
I wandered the drains looking for food. Found the lake once. The city across the water, all lit up. No electricity though for most of it, just fires everywhere. Saw ducks in the deep water. Came back in daylight to try to catch them to avoid werewolves, thinking I could remember how to swim. Fell into and almost drowned in the water because I didn’t think human enough on how to do it right. Grabbed fish in the water and ate it instead. Made enough of a bloody mess that someone saw it on the water and reported me. A helicopter came overhead, thinking I was human needing help. They were still early in the pandemic then. They still had enough big people with guns who cared to try to help humans. Did the tests they now did for everyone and saw I wasn’t human but had enough words and stories to not get shot as newly infected. Locked me up again instead. They called for advice to important people. “He’s human!” they were so happy. Later, when I remembered enough to remember their words and remember words at all, I would be happy they’d found me that same day. They hadn’t seen the changes night still brought.
“Still a carrier for the virus,” someone said.
“Human is human,” one said. They didn’t know about me eating raw animals, the eyes that were different colors at night and full moon, the stronger and faster and better running I could feel in me they did not have. Maybe all the lights they had on me in the interrogation room kept the wolf stuff silent.
“Is he cured?” someone asked.
“He is the cure,” someone said. “It’s in his blood.”
Arguing, lots of voices. They dumped me in solitary confinement with lots of food. Jail food, but human food. That kept the wolf side real quiet, although it was night. The food made me think enough to remember not to look at the camera. If they saw the eye color night brought, that my eyes glowed in the dark like it did in the sewers, then I wasn’t cured. I remembered that if I was not a cure, then I was not a human, and so no human food. That kept me focused. Stay human to not stay hungry.
I remembered that hard hunger so it kept me hungry, kept asking for food, which could keep me human. Slept the next day after hours of eating. At even more food the next night. I was always little and almost starved. Gained a couple pounds that night. Next day, they had lots of test results and even more questions. They asked me about what happened, and I couldn’t remember words. Back to the cell to eat and sleep, because they needed me stronger to take lots of blood from. Lots of time to rest and recharge, like a battery.
Later, a big new guy put a gun in my face. “You were one of those things, and now you’re human. You’re the only known case of reversion back to human. It is either genetic or there is a replicating anti-virus in your blood that reversed the effects. You’re strong enough, so now we’re going to bleed you dry.”
Remembering made me remember enough that thinking is good if it keeps you alive. “The cure’s not in me.” Words came, because they keep me alive. My body is small, but my soul and brain have never been weak.
“Whatever you have – blood antigen, antibodies, or even a genetic factor - we need your blood to make the cure.”
“Cure’s not in me, it’s in the prison.”
“When were you in the prison?” the new big gun demanded.
“A long time ago, and not so long ago,” I said. Three years inside, and in the storm drains near it for weeks.
“Why would you go there?” the voice asked.
“I was hungry.” I went to the lake for the ducks, and the lake was near the prison.
“Why didn’t we see you?”
“I was in the drains,” I admitted. Never, ever tell them your hiding place unless you have more they don’t know. But millions and gazillions of werewolves they can’t cure? And I know I don’t have a cure? I need to be behind high walls and fences and guns. Only way they’ll go back to the jail is to find the cure.
So we went back. Once it was secured for the night, I found a shiv and cut myself. Saw people go weird and weak for a little while changing. Made most of them easy to kill once I exposed them. Even some blood got in the air where the others could breathe it. A few changed, though, to werewolf while I was killing the rest. The soldiers with their guns I infected and killed first on purpose. Those infected first were shot a lot by other soldiers Scientists I left alone, because they wouldn’t be able to shoot. And they wouldn’t shoot me before infection because I was the cure. And because some of them were girls, and I missed girls. They couldn’t shoot me later because they didn’t have guns.
A few soldiers changed and hunted down scientists. I found a girl hiding in the guard station. How I liked the idea of hiding in there with her. When I took a gun from the wall and shot werewolves trying to get in before I was able to close and lock the door, she liked me, too. But the virus was in my body. One of the teachers I actually paid attention to in school would have called it a sexually transmitted disease.
Her change was slower and worse than the others. Slower, because it worked from the inside out. Worse, because it was slower, and she knew it was me and hated me for it.
I didn’t kill her because I wanted to see if she’d be part human like me. Then she changed to a kind of human, but different kind of wolf. Different way of getting disease and time in my body made it a different disease. But she was not my kind. I could smell it and so could she. Animal instinct made me not like her. She snarled at me, not able to really think, just remembering that she didn’t like me. Tried to bite at me with her growing teeth.
The sound of howling at the moon-set wakes me. I nap in day and night, not daring to sleep all night but unable to sleep all day.
It is still before dawn, but the night is turning a familiar gray. The doors are locked but I dare not peak to look out the windows of this office until sunlight streams through the windows. I fear seeing another werewolf face in the glass, mine or theirs. It happened once, from a smart one that found a hole in one fence and pawed up another. Got all the way here and snuck through the shadows. Almost opened the door and walked into its maw out of stupid human habit. I killed it and none of the others were smart enough to do it again – or remember how to. They’re getting more wolf every day, and hopefully dumber, too. Human brains gone animal make smart wolves, but I’m still mostly human. That has to make me smarter, even if I was never brilliant.
I will go back to it in daylight and do more writing. Writing reminds me of what I am and they are not. And it is something I can only do in the day light. Reinforcing the need to get out of the dark recesses and work.
Somebody once said that walking into the sun after being in solitary for ages it was like seeing a sunrise for the first time. For me, it would be like the first moon rise I saw as a werewolf, so that I wanted to cry out in joy at a sun in the sky I could stand to see. The sun isn’t warm and kind to me, just safety, like the bright sweeping lights of a security perimeter. The sun is only an ally because then I can travel when the werewolves must stay hidden and in shadows. Daylight is when I am free to do what I need to survive.
There’s a temptation to sleep through the day, to be only a creature of the night. Yet, if I am only a night creature, I get stupid. There’s no daylight to reinforce the human side and my brain. And then I’m dead. It’s a hard habit, but I want to be the last whatever I am standing over their dead bodies.
More by this Author
- Excerpt from Sirat a novel by Tamara Wilhite
Take the kids through the airlocks to the bathroom. Just a father doing his job, until disaster struck the colony. A short story by scifi author Tamara Wilhite.
I opened the door to get away from her on instinct, and the werewolves rushed in. I didn’t care if it was sex or them just killing a different one as they tried to kill me and she smelled even different from me. I just closed the door and wedged a crowbar in the handle. They were stuck and didn’t care.
Shot a couple more werewolves that kept becoming more wolf and less man. The rest stopped coming back for the action after seeing their dead laid out like that. That was before they or I were hungry enough to eat the dead ones. I started cleaning out the rest of the jail. Then came back and smoked a good cigarette off a dead guy. My first cigarette, but I deserved it. I’d had the first and last sex I’d ever have, found the second disease I’d ever created, and was doing good securing my own fortress.
I then used it set fire to lots of papers and loose cardboard near the air vents into the guard office. After two days, all the werewolves were dead. I ate pieces, but it was almost impossible. Started to clean up when other werewolves were attracted by me burning the dead. How hungry were they, to eat their own? I had a herd of them attack, piling up against the outer fences until more got in, then the next fence, then the rec yard. Ran for my life and fought for it, too. A lot of were-wolves got trapped here and there, locked in cells and shot. Finally killed a bunch as they got starving and was able to get to the fence edge. Shot the others between the inside and outside fences. Seeing their dead, they stopped trying to climb in for a while. I dumped the dead bodies over the wall if it was too low for them to be used as climbing ramp.
Then I had to start checking the fence and the barriers for any other werewolves that might get clever and sneak up over a pile or manage to jump high enough – saw it with my own eyes twice. Always at full moon, when they get the most energy. Best visibility, too. They see me, my eyes glowing in the full moon and their eyes glowing at the sight of a meal. We each see the enemy.