Generation of the Wolf

📅 Published on May 15, 2022

“Generation of the Wolf”

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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It ended in 2047. It was the flu or some evolution of it anyway, and when it took the world, it took it fast. Everyone forgot all about Covid. It was a distant memory, a cold in comparison to the new disease. It was in every country in a matter of days, and it killed by the millions. Everett was one of the survivors. Whether or not he was one of the lucky ones was still to be decided.

He sat in a rocking chair on the front porch of a white house somewhere in the south. Cities and states didn’t really matter anymore. This house was far nicer than the one he started with and it was old, classic. It felt cozy. He liked it. He took the house when he was forced to run from his own wife. The thought disgusted him but this was the world the disease had left him.

Not that the disease had left. It lingered like a fart in a locked car with the windows up. It got everyone eventually. Everett had seen enough of it to know. They covered rooms and halls in bleach. They wore masks. They burned the dead and everything they touched, and they still got sick. It would just come out of nowhere one day. It started with a cough. Then came the fever and the vomiting, the diarrhea, the body aches and chills. Then the end.

Days like today, Everett sat rocking on the porch in the sun rays that pierced the shadows, wondering why he was still alive. There was no way to not feel survivor’s guilt. He was no better than anyone, certainly not his brother’s daughter who was only twelve when the disease ravaged her. At least it was merciful enough to take her parents a couple of days later and not leave them to live with the pain of her loss.

That whole family was better and worth more to the world than Everett. His brother was a doctor, an oncologist that worked with children. His wife was a social worker, and their daughter was a great kid, straight a’s and dreams of being president one day. Maybe she could have if the world had survived long enough. What was Everett? He was the manager of a grocery store. He walked out when things got bad. Grocery stores were breeding grounds for germs and Everett was afraid of death. He convinced Amy to quit the laundromat too. They didn’t have any children or pets. There was nothing to tie them down, keep them waiting for death like everybody else. So they ran.

Everett would never stop seeing the end. It played behind his eyes every day. He could see it now. Everywhere he and Amy went everyone was sweating, shaking, puking, bleeding, crying. They were crashing their cars, collapsing in the street, tugging on the pant legs of people walking by, people just starting to cough. People were falling or jumping from buildings. The sirens were a constant, except the emergency workers were just as sick as everyone else and Everett knew even then that it wouldn’t be long before the sirens stopped forever. No one was going to save them. It was just a matter of time.

Everett quit smoking. He wanted to be as healthy as possible. He still sipped his whiskey from time to time though. With this in mind, he stood from the rocking chair though it continued to rock behind him. He stared out at the empty street without so much as a bird lurking about. If he didn’t know better he would have thought he was the last person on earth, he would have thought he was completely alone. He wasn’t alone and he wasn’t safe.

His eyes roamed over each tree, bush, building, window, house, telephone pole, abandoned car. He checked every shadow, every hiding place. It wasn’t the sick he was looking for or the disease that he feared anymore. It was the cure, the cure that swayed his wife, that led Amy away from him and made her the enemy.

It was by luck and the grace of God that Everett and Amy managed to survive the downfall, to avoid the sickness. They didn’t do anything that thousands of other people weren’t already doing. Everett wasn’t foolish enough to think that they were immune, well Amy was now, but that was different. He knew the virus would claim him eventually, and he had come to terms with it. He wrote a list of things he wanted to do and he traveled alone to check things off of the list, to live as much as he could before the sickness came for him. There was more to live for, to fight for when Amy was still with him, but she made her choice and now he made his. He was alone in a world where no one outlived the virus and he was going to enjoy it the best he could until his death, a death he was prepared for.

Death was a surefire thing in the new world when the cure was just as deadly as the sickness. Everett snarled in bitterness and entered the house, closing and locking the door behind him. He walked to the kitchen to fetch his whiskey and sneezed on the way, a reminder that even during the apocalypse you needed to dust. When he got to the kitchen counter and seized the bottle with his right hand, he froze. He could hear the padding of pawed feet traipsing through the hall behind him.

“I knew you’d come eventually,” he said without turning around. Instead, he reached up and opened the cabinet above the sink, retrieving a tumbler. He took it down and twisted the cap off the whiskey.

A voice spoke from behind him, “How could I not come, Everett? You’re my husband.”

“I was once,” he said, pouring the whiskey into the glass.

“I don’t remember getting divorced.”

Everett sighed. He picked up his glass and turned around, taking a sip. Amy stood in the doorway, naked and as fit as she was on their honeymoon almost twenty years ago, but Everett felt no lust at the sight of her. “There are no courts anymore, Amy, no lawyers, or I’d be happy to serve you papers.”

His wife, or what used to be his wife, frowned her disappointment. “It doesn’t have to be this way, Everett. I still love you. We were lucky enough to make it through the end. We can keep going. We can still have forever.”

Everett sipped from the amber liquid in his glass. “No, we can’t. For starters, you’re a damned monster. Second, you don’t have forever any more than I do. You’re fooling yourself. The sickness can’t get you, but it will get everyone else, me included, and then you and all your new friends will die of starvation.”

Amy frowned again. She took a step forward, prepared to round the kitchen island and close the distance. Everett held his glass out towards her. Liquid splashed over the side. “Don’t.”

Amy sighed. Her naked shoulders slumped. She shook her head. “Don’t you get it, Everett? If you don’t come with me, if you don’t join us, the others will come for you. You’re right, okay. Food is dwindling. I can’t keep them away from you forever.If they get hungry enough…”

Everett scoffed. He downed the rest of his glass and turned his back to Amy to refill it. “I’m not like you, Amy. I still can’t believe that you are like you. It sickens my stomach. I will not choose murder over death. You’re a monster. Your new family are all monsters, and I do not consider joining them a better option. Now kindly get the hell out of my house.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her reach out to him and then redraw her hand. His heart was pounding. He was so angry with her, so betrayed by her, but he could also feel the sadness that emanated from her. It was real, genuine. She was being truthful when she said, “I want you to live.”

There was a moment when they stood there in silence. She was probably waiting for him to respond but he had nothing to say. Eventually, she gave up and turned away. She dropped to all fours and scurried into the hallway. He cringed with disgust at the sound of her bone-breaking transformation. Everett didn’t look into the hall. He focused on his drink and gave her time to leave however the hell she had come in. Then he placed the empty tumbler on the counter and cursed. In the new world, a man couldn’t even get sick and die in peace.

Everett knew that if Amy found him, the rest of her pack weren’t far behind. He hadn’t seen many people in his travels lately which meant either they hadn’t seen many people either and were hungry or there were no people because they’d already been consumed. Either way, Everett needed to move and he was pissed because he liked this house… a lot.

He hurried around stuffing essentials in his backpack. As he did, he thought about the day they had found out about the cure. Wolves didn’t get sick. There was something in the lupine DNA that made them immune. This extended to people who were also wolves. He and Amy had been scavenging a gas station convenience store for supplies when something leaped from the shadows. Amy had screamed from two aisles over. Everett looked up just in time to see the thing hurl itself through the air. He had a .45 that had helped them get this far and he drew it from his jacket. He heard the crash and winced. When he came around the corner the wolf had Amy pinned beneath it, drool spilling from its huge jaws to coat her face. She was crying and trying to turn away.

Everett stepped carefully, doing his best to not make a sound. He stepped on an empty foil bag of chips and it crunched loudly under his foot. The beast turned away from Amy to look at him, but Everett was already close enough. He put the gun to the creature’s head, thinking they were going to have meals for days by the size of it. Then something happened.

The wolf started contorting and shifting. Its bones were snapping and popping. Its flesh stretching and changing, its hair receding. Everett was so horrified and in awe of what was happening that he failed to pull the trigger and in little more than a moment there was a young man, maybe in his mid-twenties, staring into his gun with fearful eyes. “Please don’t,” the stranger choked.

Everett couldn’t find his voice to respond. His wife had been attacked by a hungry wolf and now she was being straddled by a naked young man who looked upon Everett with terror filling his azure eyes. Everett’s own gaze moved from the strange naked man to Amy. She was frozen by shock, staring wide-eyed at the young man that still had her pinned, her mouth agape. She was trembling. Everett hadn’t seen her that frightened since the end had happened and it bothered him. He cocked the gun, and the young man gasped. “Please. I’m sorry,” he offered, slowly raising a hand, palm out. “I can help you both, make it so you don’t be sick.”

“Up,” Everett told him, waving him with the gun. The naked man swallowed and slowly stood, one hand raised defensively and the other cupping his genitals. Amy slid out from under him and scrambled across the floor like a beaten puppy. Shaking fingers fumbled in her coat until she found her Bowie knife. She pulled it out and held it before her, hand still trembling.

“Who are you?” Everett asked. “What are you?”

“My name is James. I’m a lycanthrope. I’m immune. We all are. You can be too.”

“You were going to eat my wife,” Everett said, jabbing the gun at him.

The young man swallowed again and nodded nervously. “I was. You’re right. I’m sorry. My pack sent me out to hunt. Food is not as plentiful as it used to be.”

“Because of the sickness,” Amy said, getting to her feet and shaking less now. “But it doesn’t affect you.” The boy glanced her way for a moment, long enough to shake his head. Then his fearful gaze returned to the gun.

“Listen. I can turn you, make you like us. Then you can survive this thing. No more sickness.”

Everett grimaced. “You eat people.”

The boy swallowed once more and nodded. “We eat everything. It’s survival, but when people are gone, we will still be here, and we will eat something else.”


“I don’t know.” He shook his head.

“Well, James. I think the world is dangerous enough without having to compete with monsters.” Everett put the barrel against the naked man’s forehead. James was shivering, probably in part from being naked on a cool fall day, and partly because he was scared. Everett didn’t care. He didn’t see how he could possibly let the guy go. The moment they turned their backs on him, he could turn back to his wolf form and tear them to pieces. Everett felt like he had no choice. He had to kill him.

Then something grabbed his arm. He kept his head forward but his eyes rolled to the side. Amy was there, shaking her head. “He could kill us,” Everett said without turning to face her.

“Even if he doesn’t, the disease certainly will eventually. The sickness gets everyone, Everett.”

Finally, Everett glanced in his wife’s direction. “What are you saying?”

“Just that we should hear him out. Put the gun down.”

Everett growled like he was the wolf. He didn’t want to let his guard down after seeing how fast the man had made the change from one form to the other. He backed up one step, then another and another, but kept the gun pointed at James. “I’ll hear him out, but I’m not putting the gun down.”

James nodded. “Okay. I get it. Okay. Just listen. My pack is small. We can afford to add a couple. It’ll be alright. All I have to do is bite you once in my wolf form. I won’t do real damage. I promise. I just have to get my saliva into your bloodstream. Then it takes twenty-four hours, but even during that time period, you will be immune to the sickness. As soon as you have me in you, it will no longer be a threat to you.”

Everett scoffed. “But I will turn into a giant beast and eat people. That’s supposed to be better somehow?”

“Isn’t it?” Amy asked. “He can turn at will. They can still be people. They can still love and live, Everett. It’s the cure. We can beat this thing.”

Everett glared at her angrily. “I can’t believe you are even entertaining this idea. What about the people you would eat to survive? He was going to eat you. You think the others aren’t like you? They don’t have families? Hell, they’re probably better than us and more deserving of survival if you want to get real about it.”

Amy stepped between Everett and James so the gun was now pointed at her. “Honey, you know those people are already dead, or as good as dead at least. They’re not taking anyone who isn’t already going to die. That’s the world we live in now. They’re already dead, Everett. They’re already dead.”

“No. They’re not. Will they be eventually? Yes, but everyone dies eventually. Personally, I’d rather die from natural causes than being mauled by a wolf, ripped to pieces and eaten.” He spit the words out like they tasted disgusting in his mouth. He glared at her over the gun he still hadn’t lowered. “What if the roles had been reversed? What if he was about to eat me? Would that be okay with you? It’s just the food chain, Amy?”

Amy frowned. Her big eyes were sad. “No. Of course not. Of course I want you to live, Everett. I want us both to live.”

Behind her, James hadn’t said a word in some time. He was just nervously watching, listening. Everett couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t changed and attacked them or at least tried to make his escape. That’s what he would have done in the young man’s shoes.

“You say natural causes,” Amy said to him, “but there is nothing natural about what this sickness does to the human body. How many times have we seen it now? The vomit, the blood, the agony? It’s not like going to sleep and not waking up, Everett. It’s not a more peaceful way to go than being food for a predator.”

Everett shook his head. He couldn’t believe he was hearing this. “That’s your justification for murdering people?”

“You were going to kill him to keep me safe, weren’t you? Weren’t you?” Everett’s lip curled but he didn’t answer the question. “How is it different? Murder for survival has always been the way, hasn’t it? You’re no better than him. Neither am I. Why not live?”

“Because I’m not a god damned monster,” Everett barked. He stepped to the side and pointed the gun over her shoulder at James who was still just standing there watching and listening, waiting for them to reach an outcome, a decision on all of their futures. “You want to go with him, to become a monster? That’s your decision. You’re a grown woman, but I won’t be coming with you and there will never be an us again after that.”

Amy frowned. “You’re right, because there won’t be a you. The sickness will take you and I will keep on going, Everett. Can you make the choice to die rather than live with your wife?”

“If you willingly make the choice to become a murderous monster, you are not my wife,” he said. He backed up further, the gun pointed out before him.

The man who moments ago was going to eat Amy for supper, put a supportive hand on her shoulder. Everett shook his head.

That was it. When James started to change again, Everett turned and ran. He didn’t trust himself to be able to outrun a giant wolf so he knew he needed a headstart. He didn’t truly believe the gun would be enough if it wasn’t point blank like it had been. His heart broke and he felt awful for leaving his wife in the hands of a monster, but she had made her choice. As he ran, he heard her scream in pain and for a moment he stopped, considered going back, trying to save her, but then he let out a howl of his own and raced onward.

That was months ago. The sickness still had yet to reach him, but Amy had gotten to him twice now, and each time she did, the rest of her pack wasn’t far behind. She was still trying to convince him to make the turn. The others were just hungry. Everett wasn’t keen on either option. He wished they would just leave him alone, go a different direction. Maybe they would have, if Amy had, but she couldn’t bring herself to let him go, to let him die, and she continued to track him, to follow him, city to city and state to state. He didn’t believe she would ever truly stop until the sickness forced her to, or her newfound family got to him.

Sometimes Everett would actually pray to get sick, to go out like everyone else, like he felt like he was supposed to, rather than be eaten by his wife’s lupine friends. He would ask God to just bring him home, but the days passed and he didn’t get so much as a cough or a runny nose. Now he had to pack up and move again, and hope she would finally let him go and take the monsters elsewhere, but deep down he knew she wouldn’t.

He pulled out the .45 and checked it. Satisfied, he returned it to his jacket and threw his backpack over his shoulders. Then he added a  rifle as well. If it came down to it, he would shoot the wolves to save himself and whoever else was out there ready to become their next meal. They all looked the same in their wolf form, enormous and shaggy gray and white. There would be no way for him to know which one was Amy, and yet he knew that he would take the shot if he had to. He hated himself for it, but it didn’t change the truth.

As soon as Everett stepped back out onto the porch, he heard the howls cutting through the night. The wind picked up and the empty rocking chair beside him started its back and forth movement. He bit his lip and did his best to choke down his fear. He had to get away from this area and fast.

He trotted down the steps to the walkway and hurried to the street. The rocking chair continued to sway and creak behind him. A look at the sky told him the moon was full. How fitting. He wished he could just drive out of here, but cars were useless. The roads were full of abandoned vehicles and wrecks, bones and toppled telephone poles, light poles, and mailboxes. He wouldn’t make it a single block in a car before the wolves were on him and he knew it.  He had a motorbike in the last city he took residence in but the gas station was out of gas and it was too much of a liability to lug around when it couldn’t go anywhere. Now he had the next best thing, or at least that’s what he told himself.

Everett looked both ways for threats and then reached under the open door of a truck on its side. There he retrieved the bicycle he hid. He turned it upright, hopped on and pedaled like his life depended on it. The bike wasn’t as fast as he would like, but it could weave around the obstructions in the road. A dog barked somewhere off in the distance and his heart jumped. Why couldn’t she just let him go? He let her make her own choice. She could just extend him the same level of courtesy.

The muscles in his legs burned but he knew that he couldn’t dare slow down, not yet. The wolves were out there and they were hungry. Maybe Amy was in deep enough with them now that she could say, “No. Not him,” but Everett didn’t want to bank on that.

He kept his eyes on the road, despite the rustles of movement to his left and his right, the snarls, barks and howls that surrounded him. He was afraid but he knew he couldn’t afford to miss something and topple the bike. That would mean his death for sure. So his heart raced and his legs raced and the wheels spun as Everett jerked the handles from side to side, slicing his way between wrecked cars and around what remained of the dead.

He could hear the patter of paws nearby. He didn’t want to look but he couldn’t help it. The paws banged on metal hard enough to dent it. Everett quickly glanced over and saw a wolf running parallel with him. It was bounding over the cars left in the road.

Everett pedaled harder. His body ached and he wanted to scream. Then the road opened up and he was flying downhill. He chanced a look back and saw the wolf atop a car at the top of the hill just watching him as he careened away. Was it Amy just not wanting to let him go or one of the others? He wished there was a way to tell.

Everett turned his head back just in time to see the shopping cart on its side before him. He tugged right but there wasn’t enough time. His front tire caught the metal rungs and he flipped over, hitting the pavement hard. He groaned in pain, but immediately slid the rifle from his shoulder. He held it out before him and turned every which way.

He couldn’t see or hear anything. He looked up at the top of the hill he’d come down and the wolf was gone. Everett threw the rifle back over his shoulder and grabbed the bicycle, ignoring the pain in his bones and the torn skin on his knee and shin from the fall. He hopped on it and looked forward. Then he cussed.

There was a wolf standing in the road before him. It was enormous. Everett kept his eyes on the creature and slowly slid the rifle back off his shoulder. As he did, the wolf stood on its haunches and started to contort and change. Everett wanted to look away from the shifting bones and stretching flesh, but he knew it was too dangerous to let his guard down. Instead, he stared down the rifle sight, at what ended up being his wife’s naked form. He cussed loudly again, and snapped, “Let me go! Don’t you see you’re leading them right to me! If they eat me it will be because of you!”

“You will die without me, Everett. Please stop running,” she said, stepping forward.

Everett pulled the bolt on the rifle and pointed it at her forcing her to stop. “I’m going to die because of you,” he snarled. “You want to save me? Lead them away. Take your friends in a different direction. Let me go.”

Amy frowned. She eyed the gun and chanced a step forward anyway. Everett jammed it at her. “Don’t make me,” he said, and she stopped moving. Her frown deepened.

“If I let you go, you die for sure, Everett. It hasn’t gotten you yet, but the sickness will come for you eventually. I have the cure. You don’t even have to be with me if you don’t want to. I just want you to live.”

The quiet night was disrupted be a bellowing howl in the distance. Everett twitched. His hands tensed on the rifle. “You don’t just want me to live. You want me to live by your rules, to live as a monster. I won’t. Now get out of the way and stop following me.”

“Please don’t do this, Everett.”


“It’s not too late.”


Amy sighed and stepped to the side. Everett threw the rifle over his shoulder and pedaled the bike by her. As he did he could hear her bones snapping, and he gritted his teeth and pedaled harder. He pushed his body to its limits and rode throughout the night. He didn’t see Amy again but he didn’t believe that she was gone either. She wasn’t going to give up. It was infuriating. When he couldn’t take anymore and he had to stop, he hopped off the bike and walked it to the side of a tall yellow house surrounded by thick oaks. He hid the bicycle in the shadow beside a bush, not that there was anyone left to steal it from him, but he didn’t believe there was such a thing as too safe, not anymore.

He didn’t go in the house. If the wolves came and found the bicycle, that would be the first place they would look. He couldn’t hide out in the open. If he did, they would catch his scent and drag him out while he slept. He would become a meal before he even understood what was happening.

Everett walked three houses up and turned at the corner, going down the side street a couple of houses. Then he looked over his shoulder. He paused, held his breath and listened. No paws. No howls. Satisfied, he went around to the back of the house. The back door was locked but there was a window that was open a crack. He forced it open enough to slip in head first. When he collided with the tiled kitchen floor, he immediately stood and closed the window, locking it. Then he took the house room by room looking for threats, assessing the situation. He wished he could turn the lights on, but that would be a beacon to the wolves, so he continued on one room at a time until he was sure that no one, or no thing, was hiding in wait for him.

The house was full of long past rotten food and some animal was stashing its kills in the corner of the pantry. It smelled terrible, but Everett didn’t clean it. He hoped the odor would mask his own scent and throw off the wolves if they came looking. He just wanted to stay the night, to rest, and then get on the move again at first light. He went upstairs where the rot wasn’t as strong and found a skeleton in one of the beds. There wasn’t much left of whoever they had been, but he was sure the sickness that had taken them was probably lingering, so he went to the bathroom and laid in the tub. He closed the curtain just in case, and before long he was asleep.

Everett dreamed of a time when things were much different. He saw himself in a fine tailored suit, burgundy, dancing with Amy who looked exquisite in a ball gown. They were smiling at each other, thinking this was going to be their world forever, totally unaware of what was coming. It was his brother’s wedding, his brother who was long gone now, resting in peace with his bride and their daughter. At least he hoped they were at peace. The living world certainly wasn’t.

When he awoke, the sun was bright enough to blind him even through the shower curtain that extended past the side of the tub. Everett groaned. He stood but it took him a moment. His back screamed at him. His legs were still sore from all the pedaling, and his neck was stiff from sleeping in the hard bathtub. He stretched and rubbed at his face.

Everett tried the sink and sighed with relief when water came out of the faucet. He used his hands as a cup and splashed it over his face. Then he drank several handfuls. He opened his backpack and got out his toothbrush and toothpaste. A dental infection could be a death sentence now so he did his best to take care of them.

When he was done he sat at the top of the stairs and looked at his list. He didn’t know how much longer he could avoid the wolves and their gigantic canines, so he figured he should try to cross something off of it if he could. The end could come for him any day, any moment. He perused the paper and crossed something off he’d done the other day. Then he searched for something he could do now, something reasonable. He wasn’t even sure what town or city he was in. He couldn’t very well plan to see a tourist attraction.

Everett smiled when he saw ice cream shop. He wanted to go behind the counter like he worked there and make himself some ice cream. He could probably do that, if the freezers still had power and the ice cream wasn’t liquid. What was the worst that could happen? It would make him sick? He laughed to himself. Then he nodded, folded the paper and put it away. He was going to ride a few towns over to put some more distance between him and the pack and then he was going to find an ice cream shop. He enjoyed having a plan. It helped him to survive the chaos of the current world if he had an agenda. He wished he could develop a routine, some level of normalcy, but there was no way he could, not with Amy out there looking for him.

He got his backpack and his guns and headed out, wanting to move quickly. Everett doubled back to where he stashed his bike and it wasn’t there. He sighed and cussed under his breath. Had another human found it or was it one of the wolves? He hoped someone used it to get away, to survive and it wasn’t just trashed to keep him around for dinner.

Everett kicked the nearby tree and headed off on foot. He jogged as long as he could and walked when he ran out of breath or his muscles burned and begged for a break. He only stopped to check some of the abandoned cars for supplies. He found a working flashlight which was cool because his old one had been out of batteries for some time now. There was an unopened bag of chips too, stale as all get out, but edible. If only they’d come with a drink.

Everett traveled all day. He hated stopping, knowing that the wolves were on his tail. He wanted to go as far as his body would let him. Just the same, being out at night, especially on foot, sent his nerves haywire. There were too many shadows, too many obstacles. He felt like prey and he hated it. Once the darkness fell over the road like a blanket, he decided he had to find shelter again. Maybe tomorrow he would find that ice cream shop.

Everett climbed on top of a work van and surveyed the area. It was pretty open and that drew a frown from him. At the top of the hill was a gas station. It was well lit so that was a good sign. The area still had power or maybe the gas station had a backup generator that hadn’t burned out yet. He wouldn’t know until he got there. Maybe he could see more from there, and find a safe place to hide out until sunrise. He hadn’t seen or heard any sign of the wolves all day. He didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing. Time would tell, he was sure.

Everett stayed low and hurried up the hill between the broken cars. He couldn’t help but stop when he saw the horse carcass. It hadn’t fallen to the sickness. It hadn’t died when the world did. It was still warm, opened up like a Ziploc bag, its contents removed completely. Its eyes were frozen wild with fear. Suddenly the quiet of the night really bothered him. He hadn’t heard the wolves because they were hunting. Hopefully the horse filled their bellies for the time being. Everett needed to hide somewhere and fast.

He stood from the horse and his eyes danced over all the details of the nighttime street. He saw nothing but the broken relics of a dead world. He knew there was more out there though. The wolves couldn’t be far or the horse wouldn’t have still been warm. Everett grimaced and then hurried up towards the gas station. He reached the front door and paused to look over his shoulder. He could swear he could hear the soft footfalls of graceful paws, but if he did, his eyes couldn’t show him where. With a deep breath, he yanked the door open and went in.

A bell jingled when he entered and he cringed, drawing in on himself. Instinctively, his hand went to the rifle on his shoulder. He slipped it off and held it, prepared to use it if he had to. He took a few steps in and that’s when he saw the bicycle, his bicycle. It was at the back of the middle aisle, upside down, rear wheel spinning.

Everett tensed. He held tightly to the rifle and approached slowly. He was holding his breath. When he got to the bicycle, he saw a man lying next to it. He looked a lot like the horse, cracked open like a lobster dinner. There was a snarling wolf the size of a man hungrily gnawing at the inside of him, and another tearing into the meat of his thigh, shaking its head side to side in order to rip the meat from the bone.

Everett aimed the rifle and silently prayed they wouldn’t notice him. Then an enormous paw struck the rifle’s barrel knocking it sideways out of his hands. He watched in horror as it flew across the back aisle, hit the floor and slid across the tiles. Everett gasped. He looked over at the wolf that had disarmed him. It was standing on its hind legs like a human and staring over its bloody muzzle at him, looking directly into his eyes. “Amy?” he questioned.

The lips pulled back in a snarl to show the yellowed razor-sharp teeth in full. Everett dove forward and hit the ground with a shoulder roll. He glanced back and saw the wolf still standing there, staring his way and growling at him. His eyes found the others, eating the man who had stolen his bicycle. They glanced up from their meal to make eye contact with him, but then returned to their food, chewing and slurping loudly, snorting as they breathed from their noses so they could keep eating.

Everett scrambled to his feet. He ran for the counter. The wolf that had knocked away his rifle, stepped over the dead man’s legs and walked after him. It didn’t drop back to all fours. It continued on like it thought it was human. It wasn’t. Not anymore.

Everett reached in his jacket and found the .45. He pulled it free as he rounded the counter. Behind the counter was another body, this one wearing a gas station uniform. Everett wondered if the woman had stolen the clothes to have a clean outfit or if she had actually continued showing up to work long after the end of the world. Maybe she just didn’t know what else to do. He would understand if that was the case. Everett supposed it didn’t matter now. She was nothing but an empty shell, her ripped throat dragged across the floor.

Everett noticed the keys in her hand and his eyes roamed until they located the office door. It wasn’t far. He glanced back at the wolf that had been following him and it was gone. Where the hell did it go? The .45 in one hand he grabbed at the key with his other. The woman’s dead hand held them firmly. Everett gritted his teeth and tugged harder, but he couldn’t get them free. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the other wolves had finished with their meal and they were stalking his way, low to the ground and creeping silently.

Everett cussed. He went from holding his breath to breathing rapidly in a panic. He tugged at the keys to no avail. Then he shoved the .45 in the direction of the skulking wolves and pulled the trigger twice. The boom jerked his arm and sent pain lancing through his shoulder but it was enough to make the wolves jump away and dart across the store to find safety. It was the last thing he wanted to do, but Everett knew he needed to use two hands to pry the keys from the rigor mortis of the dead girl. He shoved the .45 back into his jacket, and ignoring the pain in his shoulder, gripped the key ring with both hands. He pulled with all his might and heard snarling behind him. His heart raced and his breath quickened but he didn’t look back. He couldn’t.

Everett pulled at the keys. Behind him he could hear the clack of long lupine nails slapping tiles. Then the keys came free and he bolted forward. Only when he reached the door did he look back. The wolf had its front low and its back high, like it was prepared to leap. It was snarling ferociously, spittle hanging like threads from its black gums. Everett twisted the first key in the knob and it turned. Luck was on his side again.

He looked over and saw the wolf leap. Then he shoved his body into the door and it opened inward. He fell through just as he saw the giant wolf land where he had just been standing. Everett slammed the door shut and the wolf banged against the other side. Everett reached up and twisted the lock. Then he scrambled backwards on all fours until his back hit an obstacle and stopped him. He pulled the .45 back out of his pocket and pointed it at the door.

Then things went quiet.

Everett remained there, listening and waiting. He was breathing hard. His fingers moved over the gun and adjusted and readjusted, itching to pull the trigger. Still, the silence remained. He couldn’t stand it anymore and he got to his feet. Slowly, Everett approached the door. He looked through the small window in its center and saw the remains of the bodies being dragged away by the muzzles of the wolves. A moment later he heard the bell of the front door. Everett supposed it was time to feed the rest of the pack. He thought of Amy feeding on these people’s organs, tearing at their flesh and his stomach twisted in knots. He wanted to vomit. Instead, he turned from the door and worked to find the light switch.

Everett took in the room for the first time and saw that the dead woman had been living there. There was a sleeping bag and a pillow, food remnants, and piles of uniforms. Everett sighed. He didn’t like being locked in there with the wolves knowing it, but he didn’t see any better options. It was late and dark and leaving would be a death sentence for sure.

On the other hand, he had no idea if the dead woman had been sick, and the idea of being in a tiny room with all her personal belongings didn’t sit well with him either. Of course, he reminded himself that if it came between the wolves and the sickness, he’d already made his choice.

Sighing, Everett made himself comfortable on the sleeping bag. He kept his eyes on the door and his hand on the gun. He sat and watched and listened for what felt like forever but he knew there was no way he could sleep, not this night.

When his stomach yelled at him, he dug through his backpack and frowned at how little he had left. He dug through the dead woman’s food stores and found an unopened can of processed spaghetti rings. He yanked off the pull tab top and dug into it with his fingers, shoveling it into his mouth. He closed his eyes and moaned with delight, laughing in between bites at how good something so bad could be in the right moment. It’s the little things, he thought.

Satisfied and feeling like the wolves might be satisfied with their own meal enough to leave him alone for the night, Everett laid down. He still kept his eyes on the door and his hand on the .45. Then he was dreaming about his ice cream shop, except in his dream the world was alive and he was smiling and mixing ice cream on a marble countertop for happily cheering children. There was lights and music. It was a different world, a happy world.

When Everett awoke, he was still smiling. He wondered if the world would ever be like that again. Would it fix itself and start over anew or was it really just over forever? He knew he wouldn’t live long enough to find out the answer and his smile fell away. That’s when he noticed that the door was open.

Everett felt a surge of panic. He gasped and scrambled into a sitting position. When he moved, he felt a twinge of sharp pain in his shoulder. He reached over and touched it and he could feel the wound. What had happened? He drew his hand back and looked at the blood on his fingers. His eyes nervously scanned the darkness. “Who’s there? Where are you?” he shouted into the void.

Everett could hear the sounds of snapping bones behind him. He gasped and lunged forward, spinning around. When he righted himself, Amy was there, looking at him with sadness in her gaze. Even in her human form, blood still lined her lips and chin. “What did you do?” Everett asked quietly, then again with more power to his voice. “What did you do?”

“I’m sorry,” she said and she sounded like she meant it. She frowned. “I had no choice. They weren’t going to wait any longer. Everett, they are coming for you, so I had to come first. There was no other way. Please forgive me. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t let you die. I just couldn’t.”

Everett slowly shook his head. “It wasn’t your choice to make,” he said. “You made your choice and I made mine. Why couldn’t you just respect that?”

“Because I love you. What was I supposed to do? Why are you so damned stubborn? I had a chance to save you. I had to take it. ”

Everett was breathing hard, trembling. He could already feel the effect of her bite. Time was running out. He would be a monster soon. He swallowed hard and raised the .45. “Now I have to save myself,” he said, putting the gun to the side of his head and pressing it to his temple.

“No. Everett, don’t,” Amy commanded.

Then he squeezed his eyes shut and pulled the trigger.

There was a dull click, no blast. He was still there, still alive. His arm fell to the floor at his side, still holding the empty gun. Everett coughed, and he couldn’t help but laugh. He finally got it and it wouldn’t matter in a moment once he was fully lupine. He looked down at the gun and tears filled his eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” Amy said to him. “I know you. I knew you would. I took them first. I had to.”

Everett looked up and met her eyes then. He glared through the wetness and growled. “You didn’t have to,” he said angrily. Then he felt his bones start to break and he screamed.

“I found your list,” she said to him soothingly. “You can do all those things now. We can do them together.”

Everett screamed again. Then his scream changed into a howl.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Chisto Healy

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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