Chapter Seventy One
I yelped when Fisher's truck hit another bump, jostling my cage and throwing me into the bars. He was driving like a maniac and I, naturally, was riding in the bed. It had taken him almost an hour to get me loaded up, having to resort to using a pallet jack and a ramp to keep from getting too close. That was smart of him, because I would have bitten him if he'd given me the chance. Then he could enter himself in his dog fights, and hopefully get his liver ripped out.
It was dark out, and I couldn't get a very good look at our surroundings at the speed we were going. The streets zipped by in a flash, and the signs were nothing but neon blurs. Still, I was somewhat certain that I wasn't in my hometown anymore. That, unsurprisingly, didn't improve my mood at all.
Tomorrow, it'll only be three days before the full moon, I thought, looking anxiously up at the sky. The moon was growing fatter every night, and I whined in frustration at how powerless I was to stop it. How was I going to get home in time to help Kimberly? I imagined her right now, all alone in the Swag Pag's house. She was probably hurting again, since I wasn't there to give her her painkillers. Poor little kid. How could I have let this—
Fisher swerved around a corner, throwing me off my paws again, and those thoughts were immediately chased out of my head. I couldn't worry about Kimberly right now. I had to focus on getting out of here.
Fisher slowed down so that he was only going about twenty over the limit, and turned onto a dirt road. The ride got even bouncier here, so I gave up standing and just laid down. A couple of minutes later, I saw some lights up ahead. They were headlights, I realized. A lot of them, too. Fisher pulled up to them, killed the engine, and hopped out of the truck.
“Hey, boys!" he called, his accent making him sound like an absolute hick. “I'm here!"
I stood up and took a look around. The headlights belonged to a bunch of other pickup trucks which were, for some reason, all gathered in a circle so their back ends formed a ring. There was one more spot open, I noticed, at the far end of the ring, and it didn't take a genius to figure out who would go there.
A few other men hopped out of their trucks and came up to Fisher. One of them, a hairy, middle aged guy with a beer belly, looked at him and started to laugh.
“Well, look who it is! Thought you were gone for good last time, Danny Boy!"
Fisher's expression soured, and he came to slap the side of his truck. “I got me a new specimen," he said, giving me a proud look. I growled at him, but he ignored me. “I call her Sparkles."
Hearing this, all the other men started to laugh.
“You would name it Sparkles, ya idjit," the fat one guffawed. “But, whatever! I don't care if you wanna get another one of your fancy dogs killed. Get in the ring!"
Everyone went back to their trucks, and Fisher flipped them the bird before climbing back into his and driving to the other end of the ring, and backed up so that it made a full circle. Getting back out, he came to the side of the truck and glared at me.
“Why the hell did Hendricks name you Sparkles, huh?" he snapped, and then lifted a large metal plate out of the bed. This, he set in the gap between his truck and the one next to him. There was a slit cut into it, just high enough for him to look through. With that in place, he went back to the cab and pulled out a long, thin stick. My fur stood up on end when I recognized it.
Oh, come on! Another freaking cattle prod?
When I looked, I saw the other men doing the same thing— cattle prods included.
“Sorry, sweetie," Fisher whispered to me. “Gotta make sure none of you get away, don't we?"
Oh yeah? I thought, desperately wishing he could hear me. When I get free, how about I take that stick and—
“Hey, Fisher," we both turned around to see the fat jerk from earlier swaggering proudly up to us. “I know you're stupid, but I at least thought you'd be smart enough not to do this again." He grinned, showing off his yellow, chipped teeth. “It's gonna be just like last time."
Fisher put on his biggest crap eating smile and tapped the side of the truck again. “You think so, Raymond? Well, you're wrong! Got a special deal on this one here. Don't matter how much silver you put in your dog's mouth, it won't do a thing to Sparkles!"
Raymond sneered at me, and spat a mouthful of tobacco at me. Most of it hit the bars, but a little bit of it splattered inside, sticking to my fur. Gross! I bared my teeth and snarled at him. Did I want to kill him or Fisher first? I honestly didn't know right then.
“All right!" another man said, standing on top of his truck. “We've got the fights marked up on the whiteboard. If you wanna make bets, go to the table and do it now!"
I looked to the side, and saw a guy sitting at a folding table with a heavy metal toolbox on it. Behind him was a whiteboard with a long list of names on it. It was so far away that I had trouble reading it, but after a few seconds I saw that “Dan Fisher" had been paired up with “Raymond Dunston."
“I told Jimmy I wanted it that way," Raymond said, chuckling. “I won't turn down an easy win!"
“I told ya, it ain't gonna be an easy win!" Fisher said, wearing his own smug grin now. Then, without another word, he turned and ran to place his bets. When he was gone, Raymond turned and looked at me again.
“I know you're a werewolf," he said. “The others don't, but I don't give a crap either way. My dog's got the one thing you can't beat."
Silver in their teeth, I know.
“Last time, Fang killed Fisher's wolf. If I'm lucky, he'll do it again tonight." He pointed across the ring, to where a gigantic mastiff was standing in its cage. “That's him. Hope you're ready!"
“Is everyone set?" the man on top of his truck called out. “Then let's get started! First up is Andrew's dog fighting Ben's."
“Hold on tight, Sparkles," Fisher said, reappearing at the side of his truck. He hopped into the bed with me, and lowered the kickstand. Then, using a long, hooked pole he had in there, he dragged my cage all the way to the edge. Then he gave it one last tug, and tipped it over the edge. I let out another yelp as it fell to the ground, throwing me painfully against the wall again. Luckily, it didn't get tipped over. Fisher then kicked the cage backwards, being careful not to let me catch hold of his foot, until the cage was sitting just underneath the truck's rear bumper.
“When it's your turn, I'll open the door," he whispered. “Just come out and do your thing, okay?"
I glared at him, and wondered what would happen if I ignored him and just stayed in my cage. He'd lose his bet for sure, and I wouldn't have to kill an innocent dog. If I had lips, I would have smiled. That would piss him off for sure. And why not? It wasn't like he'd kill me for it. Not when I was his only hope of ever winning another fight.
There was a gunshot, and two guys reached their hooked poles between the trucks and unlatched their cages. Immediately, two dogs came charging into the ring, snarling and foaming at the mouth. They collided head on, and then both reared up on their back legs, snapping at each other's necks. All around the ring, everyone was cheering and hollering. From my place under Fisher's truck, I could only watch, horrified, as they tore each other apart. Those poor dogs were practically my cousins, and only one of them would be coming out of this alive. And even then, it might be too hurt to keep fighting, which meant its owner would probably shoot it as soon as he got it home. A growl rose up in my throat, and suddenly I didn't want to just sit in my cage anymore. When Fisher opened it, I wanted to come out, jump over the metal plates they thought would keep me in there, and bite every single one of them. Maybe they'd see things differently on four legs.
The fight finally ended, and the winner, a german shepherd, was forced back into its cage by a series of shocks from behind the wall.
“I think you're up next, Sparkles!" I heard Fisher say.
No, you're up next! I thought as the gun fired again, and Fisher's pole reached out and unlatched my cage. With fiery anger burning in my veins, I shot out the door, but instead of attacking the other dog I turned and lunged at the wall.
“Hey!" Fisher exclaimed when I threw my weight against the sheet of metal he was holding. “What are you doing? Stop that!"
I ignored him, and howled as I crashed into the metal again.
“Stop it!" he shrieked, his voice getting real high pitched when I forced him back a step. I don't care if you're behind a metal wall. I don't care if I'm stuck in wolf form. I don't care if I'm a hundred thousand miles from home and being made to kill other dogs. A normal human is never a match for an angry werewolf!
I took a step back, preparing to jump over the wall this time. All around me, the other owners were freaking out, trying to get back into their trucks before Fisher's crazy dog got free. Fisher was screaming, begging for someone to help him, but nobody cared. I bared my teeth, ready to tear him to pieces, and jumped.
Suddenly, I felt something stab my chest, followed by a massive jolt. Light exploded in front of my eyes, and for a second I wasn't able to move. That second was all I needed to lose momentum and go crashing headfirst into Fisher's metal plate. He collapsed under my weight, but my head was spinning too fast for me to take advantage of it. Through the haze in my brain, I dimly realized that Fisher had stuck his cattle prod through the hole he was looking through just in time to stop me.
“Get that wall back up!" I heard someone yell, and then the ground under me was being lifted up, and I rolled back onto the dirt. No, that hadn't been the ground. That was Fisher's section of the wall. They'd just put it back in place, trapping me inside again. Well, that wouldn't last long. I got back to my paws, shaking my head to clear it, but before I could lunge again, I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my hind leg.
I yipped in surprise, and turned to see Raymond's mastiff biting my leg. The huge dog shook its head, trying to do even more damage to my leg, but I spun around, tearing myself free from his teeth. It hurt, but now my wolf instincts were starting to take over. The urge to escape wasn't as strong anymore. This dog was challenging me, and my animalistic side was demanding that I show it who was the alpha around here.
I darted forward, snapping my jaws at the dog's face, and it backpedaled before rising up on its back legs. Typical move for a dog, thinking I was going to do the same thing so we could try to bite each other's throats. Well, I wasn't going to fall for that. Instead, I shot forward, headbutting the stupid mutt in the stomach, sending it sprawled out on the ground.
“The hell?" I heard Raymond shout from by his truck.
Fisher warned you, I thought, lowering myself down offensively as the mastiff scrambled back to its paws. Your little silver trick won't work on me!
As if on cue, my leg started to tingle. It wasn't painful, but it was still uncomfortable, and it caught me off guard so that I looked back at it— giving the mastiff the perfect chance to attack me again. This time, it sank its teeth into my shoulder, and I had to bite it on the neck to make it let go. I didn't do any serious damage, but when it backed off I felt that same weird tingling in my shoulder.
What in the world is going on? I thought I was immune to silver! Victor even touched me with some, and I…
I ended up getting a rash. That's what he'd said, wasn't it? The process wasn't complete, which meant I wasn't totally immune. The skin of my leg and shoulder started to itch. Even if it wasn't burning me, it was like my body was still having an allergic reaction to the silver.
The mastiff lunged at me again, but I sidestepped it before getting onto my back legs and slashing at its side with my claws. It jumped up and tried to bite my neck, but I dodged out of the way just in time. My limbs were tingling so hard now they were practically numb. I didn't want to know what would happen if it bit my neck, which meant I had to end this fight quickly.
At least one good thing came out of this, though. When I'd been bitten, the pain had snapped me out of my wolfish mindset, letting me think clearly again. I didn't need to kill this poor dog. I didn't even want to! All I had to do to was end the fight. I took a quick survey of my surroundings before the mastiff came at me again, and thought up a plan.
This time, when the dog rose up to bite me, I ducked underneath it and charged. My head connected solidly with its stomach, and I was so strong that instead of being stopped, the mastiff came with me. I ran all the way to the edge of the ring, and slammed it as hard as I could into the wall. It yelped, and I quickly backed away, letting it fall to the ground. With a snarl, it got back up and tried to attack again. I responded by running at it again, our heads colliding, and slammed it against the wall.
That was all it took. When I backed away, my head reeling from the attack, the mastiff took a couple of dazed steps and then fell to the ground, unconscious. I sighed with relief. That was a win, even if it wasn't what everyone had been expecting, and I hadn't had to kill it. There was a stunned silence everywhere for a few seconds, and the other fighters broke out cheering like a pack of monkeys.
“Good job, Sparkles!" Fisher yelled, doing a giddy dance in the bed of his truck. “Good job! Now come on, get back in your cage!"
Screw that! I thought, baring my teeth at him. Without the other dog to distract me, now was my chance to get away. Fisher wasn't even holding up his section of the wall anymore. All I had to do was get out of the ring and run as fast as I could. I gave him my most defiant glare, and then charged.
Or I would have, if my front leg hadn't collapsed under me.
Are you kidding me? I screamed inside my head. The silver had made my leg so numb and swollen that I couldn't even feel it anymore! I could move it when I concentrated, but when I got back up I had to lean on my other side to keep from falling over. My back leg was numb too, but not nearly as bad as the front. How was I going to escape like this?
I couldn't. That was the sad, infuriating truth. There was no way I could run in this condition, much less break out of the ring. As sick as it made me to think it, there was only one thing I could do. I turned and gave Fisher another bone chilling glare, and limped my way back to the cage.
NEXT TIME: Those injuries are going to make breaking out a heck of a lot harder, aren't they? Amber just can't catch a break. And now she's only got three more days before the full moon… and Kimberly's first change!