Note: This is based on a dream I had the other night. I don’t know whether I will add to or alter it after this, I am kind of happy with ending it here, for now, but I may continue with it later. I am not great with fiction, which is why I usually only write from experience, so it might be a bit strangely told. Anyway. I hope you enjoy.
We had escaped. We were running, laughing about how we had gotten away from the police as we ran toward the movie theater. The town was dark, quiet. Of course, it would be, everything had been deserted for a while now. All of the kids had been taken into custody already, and any who had managed to get away were in hiding with their families. A couple of the teachers had actually even refused to give the kids over to the cops, delivering them to a secret safety net instead, where they met up with their families. Who knows where they are at this point? That woman is trying to find out though.
This is all because of her; everything was fine before she came into town to do research on her big project. We still don’t know what the damn project is, but it’s pretty big, that’s for sure. She showed up, and threw a bit of money around here and there, and then started barking orders. There were a couple people who were nervous, but we just chalked it all up to them being crazy, and they disappeared soon enough, so we forgot about it. We should have listened. Hindsight, though, right?
Well, pretty soon, this lady, Webber, her name is, Linda Webber. She seemed nice enough in the beginning, coming to the schools, like she was interested in the wellbeing of the kids in the community. She started hanging around a bit too much though, like she was watching us. Then the kids started disappearing. First it was just one or two, you know, like you might hear about being kidnapped on the news; but before long, the secret was out and they just started arresting the kids; the little ones first, and working their way up. The lady stopped coming to the schools, people started trying to get out of town, and then there we were, the seven of us, running down this alley in the middle of the night.
The thing is, we aren’t kids. Not in the literal sense, anyway. Most people still think of us as kids, but we are all in our early twenties. I’m Lorelei, and I suppose it’s my fault we had to run, but I’ll get to that in a minute here. My friends are Sara, Jack, Alexander (not Alex), Adrienne, Miranda, and Sam. I was on the run because I happened to stumble upon what is happening to the kids and how to fix it. My friends chose to come with me because they are awesome. I Still don’t think they had any idea what they were getting themselves into, though. Maybe if they had, they wouldn’t have been so quick to join me.
We were almost to the theater, when Sara tripped on a long, flat box lying in the alley. She fell, sprawling, on her arms. We all stopped, and looked back, as a kind of goo seeped out of the box and onto her pants. As Sara stood, it became apparent that this goo was acidic. I don’t remember who screamed first, but soon we were all yelling at her to take her pants off. She must have been confused or something because she was just trying to tear through the denim, to get the bottoms of the legs off as it kept eating through the material, but then it got on her hand. Once it touched her flesh, we knew she was done for… see, the goo will eat through clothing fast enough, but people… no, it won’t eat you. I told her I would try to get her some help, and we ran before the goo could finish spreading. We’d never make it otherwise.
When we got to the theater, it was cluttered with boulders. We could hear the sirens behind us now, so we climbed over and around the debris to get through. It was so dark inside that everyone was fumbling for a moment until Sam pulled up his flashlight. Good thing he keeps an LED one on his keys, or we’d be pretty screwed. Adrienne was breathing pretty heavily behind me, so I turned to see if she was okay, but then I saw she had been splattered. I don’t know how we never noticed until now, maybe because it was on her coat, and she was wearing four layers like usual, so it took a bit to get through, but, seeing me, she lunged, and I jumped out of the way. Jack grabbed her from behind, kind of like he was hugging her, and just held on. Alexander and Sam elected to stay with Jack to help contain her while Miranda and I continued on with the last bit of what we had to do. They tossed us their sacks so we could grab extra when we got there, and we left them. That was the bravest thing I have ever seen.
Miranda and I ran out the back door of the theater into the new dawn light. As we looked around, we could see that we stood inside a giant glass dome. There were small, red berries on the ground, in clusters of three, that looked almost frozen, and, in the center of the dome, there was a hill, and a huge, gnarled tree, which grew out through a hole in the top of the dome. We walked toward the hill, and I was wondering whether these berries were edible when I heard a faint growling behind me and I knew we had to move. We were at the base of the tree when they came. Dozens upon dozens of grey wolves, walking slowly toward us; Miranda and I looked at each other. We both knew there was only one way. We both knew she would be in no real danger as long as I made it to the top of that tree and did what I had to do. I hugged her, and I climbed.
I climbed that tree without looking back, reaching first for one branch, then another. Sometimes they broke under hand or foot, and I’d be afraid I would fall, only to catch myself, and push myself on. Higher and higher I went, toward the hole in the sky. I knew I had to save my friends. I had to defeat that woman. I climbed out through the hole in the top of the dome, and, sitting on the glass, I filled bag after bag with as many leaves as they would hold, and began my descent.
I reached the hill as the sun reached its height in the sky. One of the wolves tore at a bag, unknowing of what was inside, or what it would do. The leaves scattered on the ground, just as the woman walked into view. That should bring you up to date with where we are now, as I look her in the eyes, at the center of a circle of wolves, on top of a hill, in the middle of a glass dome.
“I had hoped you would simply run.” She says, almost carelessly. As if she would have allowed me to leave undisturbed had I chosen to flee town.
“How could I just leave when you have done this to so many people I care about?” I ask, gesturing toward the wolves, “No, I have to help them.”
Crossing her arms, Linda Webber smirks. “Help them? Honey, wolves are carnivores. You got the leaves, sure… how are you planning to get the wolves to actually eat them? That is the only way they will do any good.”
I look around, feeling defeated. She’s right. I hadn’t thought of that. When I saw the experiments they were doing, and the effects they were having on the children, all I could think of was to find the cure… and when I happened to find it lying there, on a desk, I didn’t really waste much time thinking about how to get a bunch of wolves to eat the leaves once I got them, I just focused all my energy on how to get them. I told my friends what I was going to do, and why, and they chose to come with me. I can never thank them enough for what they have done for me; for these kids; these very… furry children.
“Why?” I blurt out. “What is the point in turning children into wolves? What does this do for you? What do you get out of this?”
Linda sits on the grass, with her legs crossed under her, and I choose to follow suit. The wolves stay where they were. “I suppose I may as well tell you,” she concedes. “It isn’t as if it needs to stay a secret any more, anyway. Wolves are beautiful animals, don’t you think? And they are relatively easy to train, as well.” A couple move closer to us, cautiously. “However, with real wolves, there is a real danger of them snapping and coming after you. Plus, they can be expensive to obtain and to breed, and they are generally protected.” I notice a wolf lay down right behind her, with his side to her back, and another curl up in her lap. She strokes it lazily. “By creating our own wolves, from children, we hoped to have higher levels of obedience, as well as loyalty and adoration. We are also hoping they will have their human life span, rather than that of a wolf.”
“What do you need a bunch of wolves for, though?” I break in. “Yeah, they are beautiful, but what do you mean to use them for?”
“Ah,” she laughs. “These wolves are to help me take the country. I am tired of the way it is being run, and I feel it is time it was done on my terms. The wolves will be my enforcers, for lack of a better word. Your friends, the children of this town, are going to help me rise to the top. It really is very kind of them. Now, I really do think it is time for you to be joining them.”
I jump to my feet, but she finds that she is unable to stand. The wolf in her lap refuses to move, while the bigger one behind her, has kind of curled around her a bit, keeping her quite grounded. When Miranda comes over and hugs me, she looks confused. It isn’t until the rest of my friends join me that her face pales in realization.
Wolves are carnivores, but humans are omnivores. Even wolves have the ability to eat vegetation if they like, and it seems that she was unaware that these wolf children can understand every word she says, even if they cannot speak for themselves. When I came down from the tree, my friends must have been the ones to tear at one of the packs, knowing what was inside. Now, each of them grabs one up and brings a leaf or two to each of the wolves.
Most of the wolves come freely, but some hang back, understandably afraid or nervous. However, once they see the other wolves reverting to children, they come too. Soon, the dome is full of children and even many adults who just want to go home; including the people we just figured were crazy in the beginning. Now, only two wolves were left; two wolves, and Linda Webber.
We walk over to her, Sam, Alexander, Miranda, Adrienne, Sara, Jack, and I. We sit around her in a circle, and give the last two wolves some leaves. I look Linda Webber in the eyes, and sigh. “So, what happens now?” I ask her.
She looks at me, confused. “Why are you asking me? You won; you turned all the wolves back into kids.”
“Please.” I counter. “Your lab is still set up, with all of your experiments, and all of your chemicals. What’s stopping you from starting over?”
“Funds, mostly; you have no idea how much money I spent on this project.” She says. “I just wanted to improve the country.”
Sam looks confused “I have a question,” he begins. “Why put this tree here, if it was the antidote to the goo? I mean, isn’t that kind of stupid?”
Linda Webber smiles a sad little smile. “Only the leaves on the very top reverse the effects. The others, mixed with the berries, and certain other materials, are what the goo is made of. See, the leaves all need sunlight, but direct sunlight will make them an antidote. The glass will cancel the effect. We left the hole at the top just in case we had a mishap and needed an antidote. The dome also shields the berries from direct sunlight, which would kill them.”
We look around as Jack stands up, and walks to the nearest wall of glass, pressing a hand to it. “This is thick glass.” He observes quietly.
“It has to be.” She says, shrugging. “In order to be sure nobody would break through it.”
“But, it is glass, right?” Adrienne asks. “I mean, it’s not carbon or something?”
“No, it’s just glass.”
Adrienne looks at me, and says “Hey Lor, do you still have that ring I let you borrow? Any chance you have it on you?”
My confusion only lasts a second before I am digging in my pockets muttering “of course it’s a real diamond. Why wouldn’t it be a real diamond?” I toss the ring to Jack who uses it to try to sketch a door shape in the dome.
“That’s not going to do you any good…” Linda laughs. “You’ll run out of diamond before you cut through the glass. Why don’t you use the door that is already there?”
“We can use the door, but this dome needs to come down anyway.” Sara says. “This can’t happen again.”
We all stand up, and get Linda to her feet. At this point, she comes willingly enough; it seems her hope has gone out of her. This confuses me. “You know,” I begin, “in the movies, when you thwart the villain, they don’t usually come quietly. They fight back, and keep trying to kill you or whatever.”
“It’s funny,” she says, “but I never actually imagined I would get this far. I knew it wasn’t the right decision, but the way things have been going in this country, I felt like I had to do something, and nobody would take me seriously if I ran for office the normal way. I was going to let everyone go once I had the country in hand, and everything was going in the right direction. I don’t want to hurt people, why do you think nobody has actually been harmed in all of this? I even made sure the transition to wolf and back was completely safe before we began taking kids.”
“What? How?” Sam and I ask, at the same time, both astonished at the idea that our villain might not really be evil after all.
“I tested it; on myself.” She shrugs. “Don’t ask anyone else to do something you wouldn’t willingly do yourself, right? I do like kids. This was my way to make sure that they would be as safe as possible. If the kids were wolves, then they would be less likely to become targets. I figured it would be war, and, in war, people can be ruthless. Some people will go after the kids first, thinking it will get you to give up in order to save the children. In taking the kids, I figured I would remove that threat, but I knew that, if I asked, the parents would never agree to it, and I had to try to come at this covertly at first… or risk being thwarted by the powers that be. Actually, everyone who knows about my plan is in this dome right now. I haven’t told anyone at all until today.”
We stop; all of us. “You know…” I say, thinking that I need to learn to keep my mouth shut, “We haven’t been all too happy with the new government either… taking away our freedoms, putting people away for minor offences, but letting real criminals go free, telling people who love each other they can’t get married because of what is between their legs… you went about it the wrong way, but, maybe together, we can come up with a real plan, and fix the system.”
In the moment of silence, I see the look of abject horror on Sara’s face as she both questions and realizes what I am trying to do. Alexander kind of smiles a bit, and I see that Sam and Miranda are in. Adrienne is examining the scratches on her ring, and wondering whether it was worth it, and I actually have no idea what Jack is thinking.
“Really?” Linda asks, “You would actually help me?” The skepticism in her voice is only thinly cut with hope.
“Sure, I mean, why not? You are obviously intelligent, you came up with a way to turn people into wolves and back, and that isn’t even humanly possible… you just need a bit of help in the planning department. It helps to have people you can trust, you know, people you can bounce ideas off of. We will help you, as long as you will help us get this town back up and running again. What do you say?”
“I owe you that much,” she confesses,” your town would be running as usual if it wasn’t for me. I do have some high ranking friends and some fundraising options we could utilize to rebuild the town, and then to start with our project.”
“Plus, we can always brainstorm in the meantime – we don’t need funds for that.” Jack puts in. We will need to figure out what our mission is, how we mean to achieve our mission and all that, but we will also need a crew. Nothing gets done without manpower. We will need someone to keep track of the funds, someone to keep the charts and information in order; we need people for canvassing and scouting for leads and people who could be trustworthy in helping our campaign. Plus, we could use some dedicated fundraisers as well, and that is just off the top of my head… we have a lot of plans to draw up, and if this town is going to be the base of a campaign, we need to have a building dedicated to that.”
“I have a suggestion for that…” Linda says, “if I may.”
“Of course.” Jack allows.
“When we de-construct this dome, it could be done gently, the glass then being used for windows and doors later on. I think the Campaign center should be constructed next to this hill. To remind us of what can happen when we don’t think things through well enough.”
“I think that is a good idea.” I say. “And the children can play under this tree for generations to come.”