It was an unspoken release, and it caught me by surprise, but I literally could feel myself willingly 'feeding' Cyrus all of the energy inside me. And the more I gave out to him, the more he gave me back a mixture of the potent energies that he was collecting from all the others. As though he was combining the best parts of all of us, and making sure that we all got a taste of the alluring concoction. It was an amazing link. An emotional harmony. Deeper than sex, it bonded our thoughts, our essence, our very souls...into a single entity. Together, we became an indispensable part of a whole. We were each defined with a duty and a special destiny that resonated with everyone sitting at that table. I don't think that I ever felt so...'needed' before.
The tingles soon spread to every inch of me, the energies washing over me almost to the point of overwhelming me. I could almost taste it, but not a physical 'taste' as I have always known it. This was something more. It taunted my appetites and enticed my curious need for an abundance of new experience. I tried to simply relax and let it flow through me without doing anything to alter the intake. But after just a couple of minutes, it began felt so good that I started to thirst for a more substantial piece of the action. I can't explain it, but the rationed out energy that I was getting suddenly didn't seem to be...sufficient. It simply wasn't enough to sustain my tastes. The sensation was literally driving me 'wild'. Like being on the very edge of a powerful orgasm...begging for the pleasure and the passion to increase to levels that would finally release me and cause me to explode. And as this inner craving for more grew to a higher level, I couldn't help but try to take an extra helping from our circle. Nothing 'much'...just a little bit extra. A stolen taste to help keep my desires at bay. It was then that something changed.
The energies that I was feeling began to get stronger, and I began to absorb what felt like...much more than my share. It was addictive...a narcotic for the senses. And my 'little extra' suddenly wasn't 'extra' enough. It only lasted for a moment or two...but when the others felt it, the circle was instantly broken, and they all opened their eyes. I saw them staring at me with the strangest looks on their faces. The emotion displayed was somewhere between confusion and insult, but not enough of either to really guess which it was. All eyes turned back to Cyrus, who was stone faced at first. I got worried that I had done something wrong, and would be reprimanded immediately for my actions. But after a few seconds' hesitation...he put us all at ease with a smirk. "He's a hungry one, isn't he?" Cyrus grinned, and the tension seemed to melt away, just like that. With the table relaxing more and pushing back their chairs to get up.
I could feel the sudden 'break' in our union as a pack...and it almost ached a little inside. I yearned to be one with them again. To feel that sensation all over to the point where I became...invisible. It's hard to put into words, but it can be such a liberating experience to simply 'vanish' for a short while. To not stick out. To not matter as an individual, carrying the 'responsibility' to live according to the rules. Sometimes...sometimes I just wanted to be 'gone'. To be a PART of something, but not have to carry the load on my own. And that's what the others gave me. A position, a place...without the spotlight. Without the pressure. A way to exist without existing on my own. Ugh...my mind is so messed up right now.
"Wesley?" Cyrus called from the other side of the table, and I noticed that I was staring blankly at the table top for no reason.
"Yes, father." I replied, still baffled by my automatic response...labelling him 'Father', even though he never asked me to.
"Why don't you and I get some fresh air while the others get ready? I want to talk."
"Of course, father." I said, and we stood up at the same time as he tossed a friendly arm over my shoulder and softly guided me towards the back door.
"Get dressed, and get the truck ready to go." He instructed the others. Then he smiled at me, and told them, "But don't hurry. Take your time."
I stepped out onto the back porch, and was nearly blinded by the radiance of the sunlight. Also, my ears seemed to pick up everything from the flutter of butterfly wings, to the marching of ants through the grass and leaves beneath my feet. My sense of smell wasn't just picking up scents anymore...it was actually telling me a story. Giving me a colorful history to every intake of air, creating such a clear and vibrant vision of everything around me. Things that I had never seen before were suddenly so obvious that I don't know how they ever escaped my attention before. As Cyrus walked with me, I heard the dirt under my shoes crunching and spreading out under my weighted steps...and it almost tickled my eardrums. I stopped walking for a second, and just lifted one of my feet. I was staring at the ground...and then put my foot back down. I swear, I heard the grass being crushed under my shoe. I could even feel the tiny grains of rock and sand sinking into the dirt. I raised my other foot, and did it again. My ears picked up every hidden detail, and I got so lost in the activity, that I didn't even notice that Cyrus was staring at me until he began to snicker to himself. It made me smile. "Hehehe, I'm sorry. That's just...it's weird! You know? I mean, can you hear that?"
"Yes, Wesley. I can hear everything." He grinned, and I blushed over being such a dork about it all. It just...it seemed so fascinating to me at that particular moment. "It takes some getting used to." He told me "Things are going to...look a little 'different' to you for a while. And you will probably have to go through a period of adjustment as your mind learns to adapt to the wealth of extra detail that you'll be taking in on a daily basis. The brain isn't used to absorbing so much, it may get confused."
"Yes. I should warn you ahead of time...over the next few days, you may find yourself hallucinating for brief periods of time. It's a natural part of the adjustment process. So don't freak out on me, ok?"
"What? Get out of here. You're making that up." I smiled.
"I'm quite serious, believe me. It took Kriegar two whole WEEKS to stop jumping at his own shadow. It's a trip, but you've got to remember that it's just an illusion. A colorful little daydream that you'll soon grow out of as your mind trains itself to not be so overwhelmed, and retrains itself to file way the new information in some kind of rational order."
"Wait...so you're serious? I'm gonna, like, see demons and shit?"
"Hehehe, you'll see whatever you think you've experienced, however your brain interprets it. It's not an 'acid trip', Wes. It's just your mind filling up with excess, and letting some of it 'spill' off to the side every now and then so it can make room for more." He said. "So as long as you're in the right state of mind, they shouldn't be too bad. Soon...your brain will get anxious to absorb even more. More than you can possibly comprehend. And it will naturally adapt to it all on its own. You've only been using ten percent of that thing for the last 14 years...you've got PLENTY of space left."
Cyrus walked me around the house, and then took me off to the road that we had talked on before. Just a little private spot away from the house where we could be alone. And when we reached a certain point, I felt his grip tighten on my shoulder, turning me to face him. He lightly brushed some of my blond hair off of the top of my forehead, and gave me a sweet kiss on my lips. I could feel myself blush slightly, and with a smile, I asked him, "What was that for?"
He lifted my chin to look him in the eye. "You are so beautiful. And you don't even realize it. It pains me to think that you ever believed for one second that you were anything less than what God intended." He kissed me again, this time a little bit deeper than before, then he turned me to look out at the view before us. That deep chasm of green foliage below us, and the lush forest on the other side. "You see that out there? It's nature. Nature almighty. It will outlive us all, and no man-made force on Earth can stop it. It is a blasphemy to even try." He pressed his cheek against mine as he moved behind me and wrapped his loving arms around my waist. "Welcome back to the world, Wesley. Welcome back to your true beginnings."
I felt his strong arms give me a tender squeeze, and I rubbed my hands back and forth over his forearms. I felt him kiss my neck, and...for a quick moment...I thought back to my father, and my mom...and poor little Nick And how they must be going CRAZY right now, looking for me! How they must be tearing their hair out and worrying themselves sick. But as the calling had taken such a deep root in my every thought...I found myself caring less and less by the minute. In fact, the very thought itself seemed to only surface for a moment...before sinking back down into the thick black tar from which it had emerged. Just as quickly as it came...the thought was gone.
"Can I ask you something?" I said to him.
"Well...I mean...what are you?" He gave me a gentle 'disciplinary' smack on the stomach with a grin, and I corrected myself. "Sorry. What are WE?"
"Well...if you want to be technical about it, we're lycanthropes. If you'd rather be more theatrical about it...we're werewolves." He said, still nibbling softly on my neck.
"I know that much...but, like...I thought werewolves only came out during the full moon."
"Nope. More mythology than fact, I'm afraid." He said.
"So...it can happen...any time."
He smiled, "Yep. Any time."
I felt him caress me so tenderly, and the stimulation began to take its desired effect. But I was too curious to stop now. God knows when I'll get another chance to talk to Cyrus alone about this stuff again. "Where did you guys come from?"
He continued to kiss me, "All over. A little from over 'here'. A little from over 'there'. Wherever we find somebody who can become a positive contribution to the unit." His hand slid up under my shirt, and then down the front of my pants a bit, to lightly play with the silk-like texture of the sparse pubic hairs he found there. "Mmmm, you smell good. Taste good. God, Wesley...you tempt me to the point of losing control."
I giggled playfully as he snuggled his nose into my neck and I leaned away from him. "Thanks."
I turned my head, and I kissed his warm lips briefly, feeling the lust inside creeping up my spine. It was euphoric to be held by him, and not care about the rest of the world for a change. I smiled at him, seeing his bright eyes almost glow with pride in my final submission to his ways. "You tease me." He smirked.
"Maaaaaaybe..." I said, and I let him go back to sucking lovingly at the side of my neck. He wanted me. I wanted him to want me. And with his approval of me, I felt my ego soar above the clouds, freeing me of any doubt whatsoever that I was deserving of this level of pleasure. This level of joy. But again...as some of my more 'rational' thoughts fought valiantly to rise back up into my conscious mind...I caught small glimpses of Cyrus at the police station. Nearly slicing that innocent man's throat in half, almost severing the head with a single blow. I thought about Shank keeping the head, and Dexter with the human eyes in his pocket. They were these crystal clear flashes of guilt, and fear, and remorse. But I couldn't get them to stay still long enough for me to focus on them. They were rapidly fading away like fragile soap bubbles in the tub...and it was soooo hard to grasp them. "Cyrus...if I ask you something...you promise you won't make fun of me?"
"No." He said, quite simply. And went right back to sucking on my neck.
"Hehehe, no really...I'm not kidding."
"Neither am I." I sucked my teeth with a smile, and pushed his head back a bit to keep him from 'tasting' me so freely. He sighed, and asked me, "Just ASK me already. Who gives a shit?"
I waited for a moment or two, a hint of that guilt weighing heavy on my chest...and then I asked..."Are we...are we damned?"
As I should have expected...Cyrus burst out laughing. My mouth dropped open as he didn't even try to hold back his snickers for my benefit. He held on to my shoulders, and told me, "DAMNED? No! What the hell would give you that idea?"
"No, come on, tell me." I pouted a bit, but he gave me a shake, and said, "Really, I wanna know. Do you think we should be damned?"
"Well...I mean...yeah...kinda. Nothing about this is...natural."
"EVERYTHING about this is natural."
"It's not right..."
"What's 'not right' about it?" He asked me. "You have emotions, you act on them. You have passions, you act on them. You have needs, you pursue them. What's more 'natural'...that, or walking around holding it all in and denying its existence."
"You know what I mean."
"I know what you want to believe, sure. But the fact is that mankind has been trying so hard to prove that its 'above' your average animal, that it's tricked itself into buying its own bullshit. So we shrug off our desires, we hold in our anger, we hide our tears, we deny our sexuality...we starve ourselves to look good, we have surgeons cut up our faces to be somebody else...anything to get further and further away from ourselves and try to control what we didn't create. Why? If you ask me, the greatest crime you can commit in this life is to betray the perfection that you were born with. Following your emotions and your impulsive thoughts isn't 'evil', Wes. It never was."
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because there is no evil. Just rewards and consequences. Nothing more. We seek one and try to avoid the other and then we attempt to write off the idea of the choice as 'morality'." He moaned into my ear. "The only thing that really matters in this life...is what you want, and what you're willing to do to get it." Then he gently bit me on the ear, causing me to tense up a bit as he giggled from my reaction. "Then again, who knows? Maybe we've ALL got fire and brimstone waiting on us down below, somewhere."
I frowned up a bit. "I'm not playing around here, Cyrus. Ok? I don't..." After all the times I rolled my eyes at those wacky sermons from backwards priests, it sounded almost 'silly' to say it...but it was just a part of how I was raised. "...I don't wanna go to Hell."
"You're NOT going to Hell. If there's a Hell, then everybody's gotta go! Hehehe!" He did his best to comfort me, but my misguided thoughts darted in and out of my mind like passing bullet trains, giving me just enough of a glimpse to have it register. He saw me still attempting to struggle with the idea, even though, at this point, it's just pointless to do so. He gave me a wink, and said, "'Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.' William Shakespeare."
"I should have known that you weren't gonna take this seriously."
"I AM taking it seriously. I swear." He smiled. "How about this one? 'Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do.' You like that one better?"
"Like I said...just forget it." I said with a sigh.
"Well...let's see if I can quote one that you might recognize. How about...'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul...but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' Ring a bell?" He asked, and my eyes widened a bit.
"You've gotta lot of nerve, quoting the Bible." I mumbled.
"Sometimes the devil can quote scripture to serve his purpose." He grinned. "Don't look so surprised. I used to be a sweet little church boy myself, ya know? Just like you."
I pulled away for a second and gave Cyrus a look of pure disbelief. "Get the fuck outta here!"
"No, no bullshit! Altar boy, Sunday school, the whole nine yards. That was me. Looking for an answer that went beyond, 'God is eternal love, but cross his Divine plan and you'll end up going to Hell forever with no chance of redemption.' Hehehe, like God gave us the freedom of choice JUST so that Hell would have a sick purpose and a healthy population." He squeezed me tightly. "I'm not making fun of you, Wesley. Really. I just..I remember what it was like, being where you are. Quite favorably, I might add. And I'm here to tell you that it's ok." He told me. "I tried to stay with it for as long as I could...but the people involved with delivering the soul saving info that I was trying to believe in were such hypocritical idiots that they kinda turned me off of the whole idea. I honestly used to regret not being stupid enough to buy their bullshit. I really did. I spent a lot of time thinking that there was something seriously wrong with me. Something that could never be fixed. But then I realized...why should I feel bad for knowing better?"
"So you're saying that all my beliefs are a lie? Is that it?"
"Well, I don't know about all of that. I mean...a guy's gotta believe in SOMETHING, right?" He said, resting his chin on my shoulder. "What I AM saying, though...is if God has a divine message to give us, then mankind is gonna have to push his own fucked up ego aside long enough to translate it for us without twisting, polluting, and changing it to meet his own deluded views of good and evil." He said. "They say God made us in his image...but truth be told, it's more like we make God in ours. We make him out to be jealous, and petty, and vengeful, and paranoid, and in need of constant worship and attention. To me...that's not a supreme being. That's your average high school bully, hoping that your blinding fear and undisputed obedience will somehow justify his existence. Sorry...but I wasn't really buying that particular vision of a higher intelligence." He smiled at the memory, "Not that my father didn't try to force me."
"Cyrus...we're ready." Sebastian said from behind us. We turned to look at him, the wind blowing a few wisps of his hair out of his face, and Cyrus patted me on the back.
"We're coming." He said. Then he turned to me and placed the sweetest kiss on my cheek. "Enough of the psycho babble. I'm sure I'm overloading you all at once. We've got more...'physical' needs to worry about first."
"Physical needs...like what?"
"Like food, of course. You might not realize it right now...but in an hour or two, you'll be doubled over crying your eyes out for a bite to eat. Hehehe! It's best that we don't let it come to that."
"What...what happens when it comes to that?" I asked, and he just gave me a wink.
"Good question." And then he just...'left' me there. He started walking back to the truck and he actually left me standing there without an answer
As him and Sebastian kept walking, showing no intention of turning back to help me out of my confusion...I found myself frustrated, but forced to follow. "Sighhh....dammit." I whispered, and trotted along to keep up.
Everyone hopped onto the truck as Cyrus climbed into the front seat and started it up. The music was still cranked at full volume, as it always was, and I would have thought that my sensitive ears would have been painfully annoyed by it...but the truth is...they weren't. In fact, I found that I could easily 'focus' my hearing much better than I ever could before. I could easily 'direct' it away from the blaring music, and hear everything around me...from the grumble of the truck's engine...to the soft glide of a falling leaf from the tree branch to the ground. I played around with it for a few seconds...using this new acute sense of hearing to 'spotlight' whatever it was that I wanted to hear...and I smiled to myself as I got a bit more skilled with it.
I wasn't looking at all when I heard the sound of Kriegar's fingers sliding across the glass of a liquor bottle...as if in release. And my arm instantly reached up to grab the bottle out of the air. He must have been throwing it in my direction without saying anything...and I...I fucking caught it! I looked at my hand and the bottle with a bit of amazement, and when my eyes connected with Kriegar's, we both smiled at one another before breaking out into a small fit of giggles. I caught it. I actually caught it. That's like...some shit that John Boy would do, right? Hehehe! Am I gonna be THAT cool? I mean...am I going to be able to do what they do?
The excitement...the PRIDE of it all...it seemed to increase the already rapid takeover of my senses. The calling seemed to devour every good feeling that I had, and hungrily feed off of its own energy like a starved parasite. It grew in intensity so quickly that it had already invaded the parts of me that it wanted by the time I even knew what was happening. Little by little, one small conquest at a time...it was winning. And I didn't regret it. It made me stronger each time. My grin seemed to adopt such an evil appearance. I doubt that I would be able to recognize it on my face if I saw it in the mirror. But I could certainly feel myself slipping further and further into the abyss...until the light from the surface was so far away that it hardly seemed worth the effort to return to it. Besides...I liked it down here.
Dexter sat close to me on the old tire in the back of the truck, but he was hardly in the 'cuddling' mood. I didn't know if I could trust him not to bite a chunk out of my side if he had been. But as my thoughts traveled to his unstable nature being at such close range to me, Dex turned his head slightly, his eyes dark...and gave me a wicked smile. It was almost as if he could smell my thoughts in the air around us, and it kept me on edge the whole way into town.
John Boy, while usually such a pleasant personality during our every ride, seemed preoccupied with something else this morning. He was unnaturally 'alert', examining everything around us as though keeping a lookout for the rest of us. What's even more strange was the fact that a small piece of that message was transmitted to all of us, and even though I hadn't quite learned to translate this subtle series of complex 'signals' yet...I could definitely feel its influence in the way I was acting. I wasn't leaned back and relaxed. Instead, I sat straight up, a slight tension in my back and shoulders. I didn't just lose myself in my thoughts, or vibe out to the music that was playing in the truck. Instead, I found myself closely watching the speeding landscape as it scrolled past us...as if keeping an eye out for something specific. It was more instinct than a conscious choice to do so...but whatever the hidden 'order' was...some deeper part of me got the message loud and clear.
Looking around the back of the truck, I noticed slight changes in everyone else's attitudes as well. Kriegar wasn't drinking. Not a drop. In fact, I noticed that he had put his bottle down before realizing that I had done the same with the one that he tossed at me. He seemed 'focused', almost like a soldier standing at attention, and his smile had evaporated into thin air...instead adopting an intimidating stare that appeared to be aimed in all directions at once. Both Shank and Razor had widened their positions a bit, more effectively boxing us in and taking a defensive stance, even from their seated location on the sides of the truck. This was more than just a precaution. This was strategic protection at its finest. And with all of us so tightly in sync...I doubted that the devil himself could have caught us off guard.
I heard Dex's bladed cross scraping the floor beside me, and even from his brooding disposition, he seemed completely in touch with everything going on around us. There was no rambling, no frantic thoughts, no crazy antics at all. When it came right down to it, he was just as poised and ready as the rest of us. And I didn't know if that made him less frightening..or more.
I'm still not exactly sure what my purpose is among this strange group of 'brat packers'...or what I could possibly offer them that is different from what they already bring to the table. But I could feel a constant 'pull' on my most primal instincts, telling me that this was something that had to be discovered and practiced. Something that would define my place in the pack, and create a stronger union for us all. Something that only I could do...to prove that I was worthy of Father's choice.
There was something so alluring about the calling's simplicity and perfection. The more questions you asked of it, the less answers it felt it need to give you. The more faith you put into its ability to make you feel good, the less faith you needed. Your every struggle against it was useless, your every attack deflected...and it remained deaf to your every argument. But you couldn't help but marvel at the way it continued to feed you, and fed OFF of you, simultaneously. It rewarded you greatly with every inch of sanity you sacrificed for it. It whispered sweet nothings deep into your soul, and brings out the parts of yourself that you always wished you had the courage to love. The parts you were afraid would humiliate you, or make you lose control, or make others see you as an outcast A stranger. A weirdo. The calling spoke so softly...but what it said had an emotional impact that seemed to rip you apart and piece you back together again in an instant. Over and over again. Promising to bring you truth..if only you'd let it.
If only...you'd swear to give it everything.
The truck came into town, and I was surprised to hear the volume of the music from up front get considerably lower. Cyrus was hardly the type to care if his music was too loud for the townspeople. It only succeeded in making me feel even more uneasy about our trip out here. What was it that had everybody being so cautious? Were we in trouble? Were we being followed? Maybe somebody knows about last night. Maybe somebody found the officer, and the bloodstains! Maybe...maybe they're LOOKING for us right NOW!!!
Cyrus pulled into the parking lot of a local grocery store, and turned off the engine. Dexter stood up and quietly stepped over the side to hop down from the back of the truck. He didn't say a word. Didn't even look back. It was then that Cyrus opened his door and beckoned for the rest of us to follow. We walked towards the door of the store, and Cyrus turned to say, "John Boy...I need you to wait here. Shank, Razor, and Kriegar, will stand outside with you. If our little 'friend' gets too close...you know what to do." He turned to Kriegar, "Understood?"
Kriegar smiled wide. "No problem, boss man. I've been itching to make our point."
Sebastian calmly stepped in, "This is beginning to get out of hand. His interference is becoming more and more frequent. We should not have attempted to adopt a new breed with him still watching us so closely." Sebastian glanced furtively back over his shoulder at me. "The boy brings much attention to the rest of us. We should leave him at home."
Cyrus, again demonstrating a level of unshakeable faith in me, raised both of his hands to rest them gently on Sebastian's shoulders. "We are not leaving him at home. What he needs to learn, he needs to learn 'now'. Not later." He told him. Sebastian's took in an uneasy breath, his eyes focused slightly downward. But Cyrus lovingly caressed his cheek with his right hand, and ran his fingers through his soft almond locks, to brush the curtain of silk out of his eyes. "Sebastian...my conscience. My caution. I hear what you're saying, and I trust that your discomfort is well warranted. I would never doubt your advice, nor come out here without taking your word into consideration." Sebastian closed his eyes briefly, and from that short distance...you could see such a feeling of true love and appreciation between them. Tender and honest...more than I expected. Especially from Sebastian, who kissed Cyrus' palm and allowed his leader to put his mind at ease. "But you must trust me on this. We are very close to our goal. One more...and our circle will be complete again." He told him. "We will continue to take the boy with us. We will teach him what needs to be taught. And in time...the knowledge and strength that we gain from our new union will make this bothersome issue go away. Ok?"
"Yes, Father." He replied. And Cyrus lightly gave his cheek a playful slap or two, bringing a rare smile to the beautiful boy's face.
"Besides, I told you once before...he will need an initiation. I want it to have some symbolic value. All things do eventually come full circle after all."
Kristin asked, "How should we handle this in the meantime? He is watching, Cyrus. I'm assuming that he's gotten very good at doing his 'homework'."
Cyrus stepped back, and grinned. "Let him watch. Until he has the stones to see me face to face, I won't lose a moment's sleep over it." He told us. "At least this way...he knows exactly where to find me. When the day comes, I'd be happy to spend a few precious moments with him...'catching up' on old times." He raised his arm a bit, and motioned towards me "Wesley, I need you by my side. Come."
There was no hesitation at all, not even through my confusion over who might be 'watching' us or why. Instead, I allowed him to guide me, and gave him the only answer that I could. "Yes, Father."