I know they said it was a man that killed my mother and hurt me but all I see is the wolf. Those glinting eyes and teeth flashing in the light as he lunged. Then blood, everything was blood and pain. I woke up a week later in the hospital with the cops asking me to describe the man who did this. They did not believe me when I told them about the wolf.
I dream about that night; me waiting up for my Mom to get home from work, bounding to the hallway when I heard the key in the lock, watching as my Mother came in with a smile. Watching some looming shadow shove her hard into the hallway, mom falling with a surprised gasp. Then the wolf lunged and the world went red.
Now even at twenty I wake up expecting to have his teeth at my neck. Walking home from work I keep expecting to hear that soft snarl next to my ear, to see his eyes glinting out of the darkness. The dreams haunt me most nights, so I work until I drop into sleep like the dead, too exhausted to dream.
“Hey, Red. How about a refill?” one of the regulars calls out, waving an empty mug. I paste a smile on my face and hurry to top off his cup with the high octane brew that the Fae and others seem to enjoy. A few years after my mother’s death the Fae came out of hiding. Now, even ten years later each country was still fighting over how they were to be regulated or represented in the government.
The US had taken a two part response, those that could be considered dangerous such as vampires or werewolves were required to register and wear bracelets that marked them as different from the other Fae. More traditional Fae who were not as likely to go nuts and kill random strangers for the hell of it were allowed to roam as they pleased but still had to register with the government if they moved, they wore plain white bands. Whether or not it was legal for them to marry humans was still being argued in court. Otherwise they were normal citizens, owning property or businesses, shopping at the same stores, living in the same neighborhoods as everyone else. Like humans they too had their extremists who refused to associate with humanity that lived in locked communes what no human was allowed to enter. It was rather ironic that housing communities were now boasting similar arrangements for humans, guaranteed Fae free neighborhoods.
A couple quietly sipping their coffee in the corner wore the black bracelets that marked Vampires. The muscular man in a biker jacket at the bar, tucking into a massive plate of eggs and bacon wore the red bracelet that marked werewolves. The rest wore the white band that simply marked them as some sort of Fae.
The pub was a popular place for Fae since a Fae ran the place. Charlie was some kind of Fae but would not discuss what. Whatever it was, it earned him instant respect from the local Fae and ensured that no Fae on Fae violence ever escalated while the people were in his pub, a word or look was enough to have the miscreants slinking to opposite corners or out the door. Strange considering Charlie was some sort of dwarf, barely four feet tall but with a broad chest and muscular arms. She had seen him moving massive kegs behind the bar with ease.
The pub stood on some natural ley line of demarcation that allowed both light and dark Fae to use it so the clientele was always interesting, even more so on Friday and Saturday nights. The Borderline Pub was only a risky bet for the humans, the Fae were bound to keep the peace by some old law of neutral ground or something. Charlie gestured her over, “Go home, you look dead on your feet. Ray can take your section.”
“Thanks, Charlie.” She said with a tired smile. She quickly handed off a few last drinks and filled in Ray on the change. Ray was fun, pink bubblegum hair, piercings, and tattoo covered arms, she did not really fit in with the pub but she took no shit from anyone and was a great waitress. The last customer to try and cop a feel while going on about her name had gotten the parting remark of “They call me Ray because I am a fucking ray of sunshine, darling.” and his toes stomped with steel toed boots.
Red trudged to her apartment, thankfully only a few blocks away. She had found it just a few weeks after starting work, all but guaranteed to have been set up by the Fae, but it was too nice to say no to. Her last place had been a hole in the wall that made a closet look spacious. Now she had a small loft apartment with real windows and a skylight for less than she was paying for the closet. The building was mostly artists and dancers who used the large main rooms as practice spaces. Most days she woke up to classical music and the tap of ballet shoes as her neighbors worked out. Most weekend nights however were thrash rock or jazz as the artists threw parties celebrating their latest showing.
She flicked her eyes tiredly across the shadows in her place. Ignoring the light switch she went straight to the bed, shedding clothes that smelled of whiskey and smoke as she moved.