“Admit it. You want my help,” Angie said, folding her arms as Ryan put away his phone.
Ryan chewed his lower lip. “I can’t ask you to help. You could get seriously hurt.”
Angie smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder. It was warm and reassuring. “Silly Ryan,” she said, shaking her head and turning towards the town centre. “It’s an emergency. You don’t have to ask.”
They sprinted forward together, as fast as they could. Ryan soon passed Angie, but she was going pretty fast. His lungs felt like they were about ready to burst into flames by the time they got to the town centre. The first thing Ryan noticed was that there was garbage everywhere. Bits of flaming garbage lying here and there on the street. The air was hot and smelled awful. This was due to a propane tank exploding. Most everyone had already ran away from the centre.
The second thing Ryan noticed was a small, class 6 ghould rummaging through a trash can. It was quite green-- a weaker, slime-ball of a ghoul. Ryan rushed toward it, grabbed it by the back of its head, and flung it away like a discus. It flew quite far. He hoped the rest would be that small.
No such luck. Two more ghouls came swooping out at him from a restaurant’s alley. Judging by their size and paler color, they were more like class 3, and their gaping eyes were already red with bloodlust. Ryan dodged one and tried to grab the other from behind, but it threw him off of its back. He rolled back onto the pavement and gasped for breath.
“He slimed you,” Angie said humorously, finally catching up.
“Yeah, I noticed.” Ryan wiped the goo from his arm. No good, it was all over the front of his shirt and jacket. “Yuck. You want to take this guy?”
“Are we going to tie them up again? Because we don’t have any rope,” Angie said while the ghouls wiggled their sheet-like hands and floated toward them.
Ryan urgently looked around at the town. “We either have to scare them away, or trap them somehow.”
Angie ducked as some garbage flew at her head. “Can we trap them in a room, or does it have to be someplace special?”
“The high class ones can go through walls, so it’d have to be in a steel box of some kind. Run away! Go!” He yelled to some middle school kids who had entered the street. They ran. One ghoul went after them, but Ryan caught it and threw it back.
“So, like a bank safe?” Angie guessed while wrestling with the other’s slimy form. It tried to shake her off, and she flopped around in the air like a fish.
“Something like that!” Ryan looked past Angie and her ghoul and saw the sign of a pizza place.
“Angie! The oven!” He pointed.
“Ohhh!” Angie grinned and nodded as the ghoul shook her off. She started acting scared and ran off towards the pizza place; the ghoul followed after. They can’t resist a chase. Ryan followed suit. Ghouls also are attracted to food, which helped both Ryan and Angie lure them toward the ovens. They found a class 4 taking apart an old thrift shop brick by brick, and trapped it the same way. The next ghoul was another little class 6.
“Only two more,” Ryan was saying with a smile, even though he was tired and there was slime in his hair.
“All right!” Angie clapped and slid over the front counter. “I wonder where they’re hiding.”
Bridget called again. “Ryan?” she said. “Um... now there’s also a werewolf.”
“What?!” Ryan craned his head to look up at the sky. It was just about a full moon. That didn’t matter too much, though. Now that the new serum that had come out, werewolves could transform whenever they wanted to instead of being forced to change during the week of the full moon.
“It’s headed down 2nd Avenue,” Bridget was saying. “And coming up to the historic brick buildings. I’m watching it on TV-- the news helicopter is following it.”
Ryan took off running. “What else can you tell me?”
“It’s male-- apparently.” Bridget coughed delicately. “Judging by the hair and style of jeans, I mean. Um, it’s... he’s stumbling around like he’s dizzy and trying to bite the streetlight poles in half. I’d say it’s a new adolescent transformation... Oh, he found the ghouls. Now they’re fighting.”
“Great,” Ryan said and hung up. There were sirens wailing-- the SWAT team would be there soon. This was good, because if the werewolf was just a kid, he really didn’t know how to take him down without killing him. He skidded to a stop when he had the wolf in his sights-- the half-man, half-wolf was growling and swinging his claws at the two ghouls (class 3 and class 1), who were hovering over him and purposefully drooling on his head.
“Get away!” Ryan yelled to the werewolf, flapping his arm. He rushed forward to separate them, and to his dismay it worked, but instead of just breaking up the fight, the werewolf and the ghouls ran off in opposite directions.
“Crap,” he was muttering as Angie caught up with him. She saw the retreating monsters.
“Go after the ghouls,” Angie told him. “I’ll take down Wolf-boy.”
“Angie, that’s a terrible idea. Ghouls are one thing-- the class 1 can be terrifying-- they’re bad enough, but even a weak werewolf-- “ She had already given him a thumbs up and started jogging away. Ryan caught her arm. “Angie, if he bites you, even once, you’ll--”
“Ryan, I know.” She looked him straight in the eye. Ryan found himself letting go of her arm. She ran after the werewolf. He heard the SWAT pull up behind him and saw the cop lights flash against the windows. They called out the two ghouls and the werewolf on their radios. He heard the voice of his supervisor telling him they would take care of it from here, and good job. Ryan shook his head and ran after Angie.
He caught up with her in an alley as she was mounting a fire escape ladder to climb up to the rooftop of a building where the werewolf was stumbling around. “Angie, come down!” he yelled as soon as he got his breath back. “The SWAT team is here.”
“What, you don’t think I can get him?” Angie stuck out her tongue, but came down the ladder. She dropped to the ground again. “That’s a relief, actually. I was afraid I’d have to--”
There was a crash as Wolf-boy tried to jump to the next rooftop, missed, and fell right through some old wooden cellar doors. He was unconscious when they found him, lying in a tangle of steel and copper pipes.
“Well, that looks expensive,” Ryan said, carefully stepping down to haul him out. “Let’s get him away from the leaking pipes.” Angie helped him pull the werewolf out of the cellar and back onto the street. There were shouts and running footsteps coming their way. Ryan looked around the corner to see the SWAT team waving and flapping their arms in a panic. Heat suddenly brushed his cheeks and he turned his head to see the flaming blue face of a fiery class 1 ghoul coming through the very walls of the building. It had escaped the SWAT team. Angie gave a startled scream just as Ryan realized that the white-hot, gaseous ghoul was hovering right over the broken gas line.
Ryan was sent flying through the air and landed hard on the concrete. Debris like bricks and floorboards came raining down on him, as well as the blown-up ghoul’s slimy substance. It was a few minutes before he could hear anything. The next thing he knew, he was propped up against a wall being desperately and clumsily tended to by Angie. The ringing in his ears stopped, and finally he started hearing again.
“Ryan! Ryan! Ryan! Ryan--” Angie was saying frantically, tapping his face with her hand.
“Stop it! I’m okay!” Ryan laughed, flinching as he adjusted himself against the brick wall. She was kneeling in front of him with wide, anxious eyes.
“Are you okay?” Angie asked anyway. She had a cut on her cheek and a scrape on her arm, but other than that, she looked fine.
“Yes! I said I was okay.” He was going to have plenty of bruises, though.
Angie heaved an enormous sigh of relief. “Don’t scare me like that! I thought you were dead!”
“It would take a bit more than that to kill me. Give me some credit.”
Angie laughed shakily and then leaned forward. For three heart-stopping seconds Ryan thought she was going to kiss him, and he wasn’t sure if he would have minded. But the scraping sound of stumbling feet made them both look over to where the werewolf had been laying. He was human again. It was Jake.
“I knew it!” Jake roared triumphantly, pointing at Angie. “I knew you were a werewolf! I took a sample of your DNA to make sure, and just now I turned myself into a werewolf to save the town from you and your army of ghosts! What now?” He almost drunk with triumph, stumbling and shaky from his transformation (and from falling off of a roof).
“What are you talking about? It wasn’t my army! And what DNA?” Angie frowned in exasperation.
“Your blood! I’ve heard the howling at night when you’ve gone running! I knew strange things were going on. I saw you cut yourself and took a sample of the blood you left behind! Then, when I saw the ghosts, I injected myself with it. And I was right! It worked!”
Ryan was staring at Angie, not only astonished, but growing angrier by the second. She didn’t bother to deny it. It was true. He could see it in her face. Angie took a slow, heavy breath and stood up. Amid Jake’s woozy blabbering, she took hold of an arm and a leg and hauled him away on her shoulders. The medic came right after she left, and Ryan was debriefed.
The next call Ryan made was to the Bureau, pressing 1 to talk to a representative, and *348 to talk to Records. “Hi,” Ryan said. “Yes, I’d like to know if you have a registered werewolf by the name of Angie Moore.” He closed his eyes and hung up soon after.
So. Angie was a werewolf. It made sense after he thought about it. Her night training, why she insisted on running alone... her questions about whether or not Ryan hated werewolves. Why she wouldn’t give blood. Her complete lack of fear towards the ghouls or towards a vampire like himself. How she wasn’t afraid of being bitten and turning into a monster.
She already was one.
After he had showered thoroughly, Ryan swung the glass hospital doors open and stepped through. He glumly watched the green numbers in the elevator count up to 5. He rubbed in the hand sanitizer and walked into Room 5-23. Bridget was sitting on her bed, reading, and she looked up and smiled warmly when Ryan entered. Ryan’s returning smile faded when he saw the cast on her leg and the crutches propped up against the side table.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
“Ryan, you said that a million times when you last came to visit.” Bridget put down her book. “It’s not your fault.”
“I took too long to get to the weight room. You were all alone.”
“I should have waited for you! A good agent always waits for backup when she can. Come on and sit down.” Bridget waved her hand and an armchair by the wall slid over next to her bed. “Now, is that what’s wrong? It’s weird to look sad after you did such a fantastic job fighting those ghouls.”
Ryan sat on the armchair. “Angie’s a werewolf,” he blurted, getting right to the point. “She was lying to me this whole time.”
Bridget blinked and then began to laugh.
“Why is that funny?” Ryan demanded.
“It’s not, sorry. I was just thinking that it totally fits her personality. I mean, she’s so dog-like already. She likes and talks to everybody, she falls asleep everywhere... The way she tries to shake water out of her ears, too. Totally fits.”
“It took me longer to believe it,” Ryan said.
Bridget sent an inquiring look his way. “Is it such a bad thing? She was a huge help back there.”
Ryan raised his hands. “She lied to me!”
“Well, Ryan, we have our secrets too!” Bridget said reasonably. “We’re federal agents, and she’s probably a member of the Werewolf Underground. They have to keep their mouths shut just like we do.”
“Yeah, but they’re a lawless gang!”
“Well,” Bridget shrugged. “That doesn’t mean Angie had any other agenda in befriending us or helping you. She’s a good girl, Ryan.”
Ryan sighed. “You’re probably right. Thanks.” She had a point, but he didn’t feel any better. He told Bridget that he’d see her later and left the hospital. He almost walked straight into Angie less than a block away.
“Hey,” Ryan said out of habit.
“Hey,” Angie answered with some signs of trepidation.
Ryan shoved his hands into his hoodie’s pockets, trying to look casual. “How’s Jake?”
“He’s okay. They’re trying to extract the werewolf DNA before wiping his memory.”
“And then he’ll be back to normal, huh? Just like that?”
“Just like that, if it works. Since he already transformed, his chances of normality aren’t good, but we’ll look after him if it doesn’t work. He’ll be fine.”
Ryan nodded. “So. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m not supposed to tell anyone. You know how that works.”
“Yeah, but you lied to me with such a straight face!”
Angie considered this. “I don’t remember flat-out lying. I tried to just leave the whole wolf part out. Well, okay, the hematoma on my leg is really my bite, but it looks close enough to a hematoma. I wanted to tell you. It would have made fighting off those ghouls and taking down Jake so much easier! I could have cut the time in half, but--!”
“But you couldn’t trust me enough to let me know,” Ryan finished for her.
Angie raised her eyebrows. “And how many people do you trust enough to tell? I found out about you by accident.”
“Yes, but I thought you were--” Ryan trailed off.
“What? You thought I was normal?” Angie guessed with a bitter smile. “Sorry to disappoint.” She started to walk away. “You and I are age-old enemies, Ryan. Well, see you at school.”
Ryan turned to watch her go.
“I think I’ll be a pirate for Halloween this year,” Angie said without looking back. “You should come in a high-collared cape and a tux!”
THE END....for now....