I went to bed, after watching some crappy movie, at about 11pm. I had work the next morning, but things were fairly quiet there with Christmas coming up so nobody would notice if I wasn’t firing on all cylinders the next day. My bed was a bit rumpled as I had only pulled it up after sleeping in it the night before. Doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t notice it as soon as I was asleep. I climbed in after undressing, and snuggled down, waiting for the bed to warm up and sleep to overcome me. I don’t recall which happened first.

I woke suddenly. My bed was hard and gritty, and there was a freezing wind coming over me. It was still dark, but my eyes adjusted to make out that I was no longer in my upstairs bedroom, but lying in the dirt outside somewhere. I stood up, and the icy wind went through me like a thousand knives. I wrapped my arms around my chest to try and keep some of my warmth in, and peered around me in the gloomy light. There weren’t any stars as it was obviously cloudy, but I could make out that I was in a hollowed depression on a vast bleak landscape. There were dwarfed scruffy shrubs, and rocks, but mainly dirt, grey from the dim light of the pre-morning twilight.

What was I doing there? How did I get there? Where was I? How do I get back? It wasn’t a dream, I could tell when I took a step and my soft city-dwelling feet stood on a sharp stone and sent pain up my right heal. My first problem was to find shelter out of the wind and wait until a bit more light so I could assess the situation. “Assess the situation” weren’t the words going on in my head, but the expletives carried the same meaning.

I trotted out of the hollow and across the ground in a hunched over position, arms hugging myself in an effort to lessen the wind. I didn’t get far before I realised I had chosen a random direction, and the chances of finding anything in this darkness were next to zero, so I backtracked my few steps back to the hollow where at least I could lie down and keep out of the main wind.

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The darkness hid them. Hunters in the night, beasts that yearned with a primal hunger and claws that yearned for wear and tear on bone and sinew. Creatures that were once human, warped by something they themselves created, forever to live out as a predator for the rest of their lives.

Sniff, sniff, growl.

Blood was in the air, they could feel it. The very scent tore at their heartstrings, marionettes being thrown against the wall by a cruel child. It called out to them, the simplistic awareness of it. Such a savory victual, raw flesh and gore.

The humans, so foolish. Cities left unguarded, they never fully prepared for a strike. To think, the fifth millenia, and humans still hadn’t developed a constant sense of paranoia when it was needed.

Eyes darted back and forth. Growls, whimpers made, pack members preparing for the hit, their very muscles and tendons ready for the massacre to be unleashed by their hands.

”Not yet, fool. There is always one dumb enough to wander out here in the middle of the night.” A furred fist punched the back of one of the wolves, resulting in a whimper and a slight growl. “We seek to move with fear in their eyes, and these idiots always lose their morale when one falls.”

Teeth were bared, and immediately concealed. The alpha’s glare was enough to shake any creature, human, wolf, or both combined. He shook his head in disappointment at the wolf, and stared back out at the settlement.

“You remember what we are to do, right, beast? We tear all but one to shreds, and we leave him unharmed. Aside from this…” his lips parted as he paused, a wicked grin spreading across his face. “They’re yours to play with.

They all smiled their wicked, tooth-filled grins, saliva dripping off bared canines. Tonight was a feast, a celebration of their superiority, and the festive color tonight was red, crimson red.

Time passed by, hour after hour. Prey swarmed back and forth, tempting the hunters with a variety of savory scents. There were dozens of ignorant wolves who nearly jumped out to feed, their primal urges leading their bodies out; there were also many resulting injuries and wounds created in response to such stupidity.

Alpha was looking for the perfect moment- on where his terror would create the most panic among his subject. A mistake would be costly- escaped individuals, more wounds to his pack, and possibly failure.

His ear twitched in response to that word: failure. There had been one failure in his lifetime, and that had proven to be far more than what he paid for it.

Sixteen years ago, sixteen long, arduous years ago, times were different. He was younger, faster, and most importantly to him, stupider. Far, far dumber than he was today.

The visage of failure, of not only the pains and wounds, but the humiliation suffered from all among the Nation of Lupines, was etched into his skull and skin. It burned deep, building a rage known to none other in the clans.

He vowed never to let it happen again. The devastation to his spirit he would never allow to happen to his packmates as well- such is why he was so rough with them. They, fierce and prime, lacked the iron will he possessed, and would fall to their deaths like lambs to the slaughter.

Some days he wondered if his path to Alpha was spawned through his desire to protect those weaker. A fatherly instinct inbred from facing such adversity. To werewolves, the Alphas were more than leaders, they were fathers and mentors as well; his drive had not only given him the title of Alpha, but the nickname Alphus itself: Alphus Alpha. A name he was proud to bear openly.

He smirked, and such pride in his own abilities had given him a glimpse at the perfect opportunity. The perfect time had arrived. The Feral Dance of Crimson was about to begin.

His smile gleamed brightly in the moonlight. For it was time to dine and rend that which was dreamed by them all to rend.

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