Frostbite- Chapter 59

Silver. Silver silver.

Silver in her body. Silver in the moon. Silver bullets that smacked the ground and whined away into darkness.

She ran—silver. Silver silver silver. Silver everywhere, she could smell it in the air. The only thing she was afraid of.

The wolf was very much afraid.

The wolf was terrified.

The wolf ran.

Silver. It came down like evil rain from the helicopter, bullets blasting away at the earth in the rhythm of her panting thoughts, of her laboring heart.

Silver silver silver silver silver.

She dashed around the side of the pond, her paws splashing in horrible water thick with toxic runoff. The helicopter bobbed and twisted on its rotor and came after her. She ran so slowly—her body ready to give out. Still the bullets came down, invisible rays that would cut through her. Cut her to pieces.

In the distance the other wolf howled. He was closer, much closer. Still too far to help.

She ran. Bullets tore up the ground to her left, to her right. The spitting gun up there could not seem to hit anything it aimed at, but she knew she had just been lucky so far. One of those bullets would hit her, eventually. And then she would die.

Silver cut the soil ahead of her. She wheeled and turned and ran right back toward the helicopter, as if she could charge it, as if she could leap high enough to get her claws in its metal belly. She snarled with joy as the helicopter actually bobbed in the air, rolling from side to side as if afraid of her. There were humans inside it, she knew. It was a man- made thing and there were humans, humans, humans inside. She could smell the blood inside them, smell the sweat on their skin. She even recognized the particular stink of one, the one, the one who had chained her. Oh, how she longed for the feel of his throat between her massive teeth.

A bullet came so close it kicked up shards of rock that got in her eye like dust. She shook her head and feinted to the left, then darted to the right.

A good move—the helicopter swung around wildly to follow her, wobbling, nearly turning on its side. But she was growing weaker. She couldn’t run much farther.

He howled, so close now she could hear him running. What could he do? Would he give his life for hers, take the bullet meant for her skull? She doubted it. He had wanted to kill her, kill her, kill her—she’d been so wrong about him, this male—he was not her enemy. He was the only one who could help her. He was—he should be—her mate. She longed for him, crooned out a long lonely howl for him, for a mo¬ment forgetting to look where she was going—

Silver passed right through her front left paw.

She yelped in surprise, then yowled in pain. Her blood made a footprint on the ground. She was panting for breath already and this new wound made her curl, made her curl inside her belly, made her want to lie down, to surrender, to die. But those were men up there, humans, and she would not stop for them. She would never stand down for humans.

A hill ahead of her. It would be a hard climb, even if she were at full strength. It would slow her down. But there were buildings up there, big, square, unnatural buildings men had built, and their shadows blocked out the stars. If she could run between them, if she could, if she could, she was tiring already, if she could get between the buildings, into their shadows, the helicopter could not follow. She dug in with her hind legs and pushed, leapt, jumped up the slope.

Silver silver silver silver silver silver silver silver silver silver silver— it did not stop, shafts of moonlight falling all around her, shafts of silver moonlight frozen, hardened and made cruel, made deadly. The ground beneath her churned with the soft impacts as the bullets crashed around her.

There—the top of the slope, the crest, the summit, she could see it. She pushed and pushed and shoved herself through the air, leapt like a salmon leaping upstream. Ahead of her, the buildings stood, wrong and square, her only possible salvation. She dashed down a side street and silver silver silver behind her, silver, she had no energy left, she could not run, she could only cower, silver silver silver.

A bullet passed within inches of her spine. It lodged in her liver and she felt her body surge with a new wave of poison. She screamed, screamed in horror and pain and rolled, rolled on her side and kept rolling, slid into a shadow, rolled into darkness. A bullet pranged off the metal side of a building just above her head.

Silver inside her, silver, silver inside her, silver in her guts, silver in her leg. She could not take another step. The pain was just too great. She collapsed in a heap, then strained, pushed, lifted herself onto her feet. She gathered up her breath and gave voice to one last howl, a cry of a dying being, a plaintive, one- note symphony.

Above her the helicopter sank through the cold air, its noise so big, so loud, so big. Silver, once, banged off the building face, even closer to her this time. Silver again. Bang. The helicopter dropped farther, dropped to the level of the building’s roof. There was nothing she could do but watch her death come for her.

Then he, the other wolf, leapt from the roof of the building and got his claws in the plastic bubble of the helicopter. His body swung like a pendulum, loose and muscular, as the helicopter rolled and dipped and turned. His weight pulled it around, dragged it through the air. He was shaken free almost instantly, his body thrown through the air, but not before he had overbalanced the helicopter on its rotor, made it list to one side.

The tip of the rotor kissed the corrugated tin wall of the building with a high- pitched shriek. In that contest neither side could win—the wall peeled open as if by the effect of a giant can opener, while the composite resin of the rotor splintered and snapped. The helicopter slewed around on a wide arc, suddenly off- center of its own angular mo mentum. As if a giant had thrown it like a discus, it swerved through the air, out of control, until it smashed into the side of another building. Then it just dropped like a rock. Sounds of tearing metal, of crumpling plastic, and of human screams followed. There was a flicker of light and then fire lit up Port Radium for the first time in decades as the helicopter’s fuel caught, all at once. It didn’t burn for long.

Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.

Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

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