The Writer and the Wolf

ALERT... ALERT... The VirulentBlurb appears to be leaking... Inspired by our Stolen Indie Anthology, read The Writer and the Wolf, by Marie Redding and Reece Morris-Jones...

Kneel awoke with a jolt, the rank musk choking him as he looked around his unfamiliar surroundings. There was something about them... He rubbed his eyes and he was back in his bed. Chuckling, he threw back the covers and started to pull on his trademark jacket over his bed clothes. Another idea for the future perhaps? Some new way to tackle the Blurb world? It would give him a break from Lobo at least.

Pushing his arms into the sleeves, he felt a sudden chill, a wetness on his skin and the sour, coppery tang of blood filling his nostrils. Aghast, he stared down at his hands which were now covered in blood.

It was all over the bed. Soaked into the linen. A messy trail followed him. It wasn't the good kind of liquid either. Well, not unless you were into that sick shit. He felt cloth sticking to skin.

He needed help. Fast.

A wave of dizziness rolled over him and his vision blurred. Dark and impossible shapes loomed out of the shadows. Staggering back against the wall, heart pounding, he tried to remember... something.... anything.... that would explain what was going on...

Bile rising in his mouth, struggling to hold back the urge to vomit. He failed. And so did his body, cursing him to darkness.

When he woke up it was back with the smell. The cloying animal stench.

"You don't smell so good yourself, asshole" came a voice. Kneel looked up. Holy shit!

Tawny eyes glowed lambently from a face that could only loosely be described as human. The creature that towered a good foot over him looked like it could snap him in half without even working up an appetite. The array of yellow teeth, despite cracking a grin, looked menacing even with the cigarette hanging loosely between them.

There he was in the flesh. Right in front of his eyes. Kneel realised he must have snapped or something. Gone on that killing spree he was telling his friends about the other day after he lost his socks. Because there was no way Kurt Fucking Lobo was standing in front of him.

Lobo spoke to someone else in the darkness, just out of Kneel's sight.

"He doesn't know does he?" a deep chuckle like the rattle of a dying carburettor came from his chest.

"We can hear every fuckin' word he thinks and he doesn't realise it"

Kneel closed his eyes tightly and rubbed them. But it was no hallucination and if this was some kind of wet dream, then he must have been drinking some weird shit last night

Slowly the spots cleared from his vision and he realised he wasn't inside. A chill breeze sent shivers down his back and the way the blood was making his clothes stiff made his flesh creep.

"Listen up Oh Mighty One" the Wolf carried on, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Now, some kid comes to me yesterday and says we're all made up by some Brit writer. That we're all puppets dancing on his strings. I tell him to get lost. Cause I've seen some crazy shit in my time, but none as wacked as what's coming out his mouth"

Lobo paused.

"But he keeps hassling me. Tells me he has you locked up. That he can hear your thoughts. That they ain't too good when it comes to us. Drags me down to a warehouse full of so many holes it could double as swiss cheese. And..."

At this, Lobo trailed off, his hands reaching out to touch Kneels face.

"...and shit. Kid might have somethin'. Even if you're just some freaked out psyk, you really believe you made us all up."

His touch was all calluses and soft fur, velvet and steel, the raw animal odour twisting into Kneel's gut with visceral, undeniable reality. Hell, was it really so impossible? These characters had become so real to him after all this time that there were days when the Blurb seemed more actual than anything he had going on in HIS world.

Kneel opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a rusty croak that died before it ever lived.

Cos, actually speaking out loud to a figment of your imagination was so fucked up you'd never find your way back to sanity, again.

Before Kneel could think to even try again, Lobo called out.

"Hey kid, does this guy move or does he spend all day dribbling and composing poetry? I know I don't want to pick him up with all that blood on him. Not till we know whose it is anyway"

Shaken, Kneel staggered to his feet. It hadn't even occurred to him to wonder just whose blood he was soaked in. They sure as shit weren't too healthy if the amount of it was anything to go by.

Rubbing his fingers absentmindedly across his jacket, he wondered if he'd ever be able to get the blood out the leather.

Pulling himself to his feet, Kneel mumbled.

"Yeah, I can talk. Do you mind telling me where I'm going? And where the fuck I am?"

To this, the Wolf just grinned.

"Your wildest dreams sunshine. I think the pyramid will find you very interesting"

Kneel paused, steadying his nerves and his legs, thinking longingly of his warm, welcoming bed before following the wolf into the darkness.

Back in his bedroom, the metallic pungency of blood still thick in the air, a piece of parchment fluttered down and landed on the blood soaked covers, thick black script covering it in indeterminate lines.

He felt a blow to his gut and looked up to see Lobo's fist buried in it.

"Hey, no passing out on me now. Not when I thought I had your freaky shit all figured out"

He gestured to the Kid.

"You're too clean cut for The City Kid. I figure the pyramid knows exactly who this guy is and I figure you know how to get us an audience too."

The Kid stepped out of the shadows. His vision still blurred from the pain, Kneel could see what the old wolf meant. Standing there was a young deer splice, his horns not yet grown, the glasses, crisp shirt and bow tie oddly jarring in a setting covered in more soot than a chimney sweeps Christmas.

The fawn's voice was shaky, demure.

"I-I-I don't want to go back there Mr Lobo. It's why I came to you for help."

At this the Wolf sighed.

"Well tough kid. I don't care. Whatever we have on our hands, the pyramid is the only place for him. There ain't no cell that will take him. Everyone will think The Capes are back and then we're screwed."

Kneel wondered why he had no choice in the matter.

"Coz I'm the one that's keeping that head of yours connected to your neck. That's why. Now hurry up." growled Lobo.

"And for Christ's sake, don't think too much!"

As they made their way towards The City, Kneel became aware of shapes moving in the darkness that surrounded them. Each sound made his heart pound harder until he was so keyed up he could feel the vein throbbing in his forehead. A fresh trickle of sweat ran down his back. The City now loomed large like a malevolent and malign beast waiting to devour him.

Lobo snarled.

"What did I tell you about thinking? Every splice within 20 feet can already hear you. We're just lucky most of them already hear voices. Do you want the whole city to know you're here?"

Flicking his fingernail against a wall, Lobo lit a cigarette.

"There ain't nowhere to run if you get the wrong kind of attention."

They crested a hill and the pyramid came into view. Towering over everything, a disease on the sky, it drew the eye.

Kneel couldn't stop staring. Lobo and the Kid carried on oblivious as if nothing was wrong.

Slack jawed, he couldn't keep himself from exclaiming.

"My god...I've written about this. But nothing prepares you! How do you stand it?"

"Wanna tell him kid?" spoke Lobo?

The fawn splice paused, brows creasing.

"I...I've spent so much time inside just seems normal now"

Lobo laughed, a bitter cough escaping from his lips.

"I forget you were as new to the city as he is kid. Me? I keep my head down. I figure I've pissed off so many people inside it I don't want any more attention"

"Yet here I am walking right up to the front door and saying hello. Christ."

Standing at the pyramid's entrance, the shape of it naturally drew Kneel's eye upward to the moon almost artistically hanging at its peak. The cold light concealed rather than revealed; the faint outline of each surface enhancing a darkness so complete that gazing on it was almost like being struck blind. His mouth dry, he watched as the kid touched a hidden panel on the wall and smoothly, the door opened.

They walked through the corridors, all narrow passages and blind corners until they came to a large room. Symmetrical potted plants were placed down either side. Marble floors. Red carpet led down the middle to a desk at the end of the room where a woman sat. The group walked up, the Kid leading. Seemingly more relaxed now, he spoke to her.

"Hi, I'm here to see my P-P-Project Leader"

The woman looked at them all in bemusement. Though it was subtle, you could see she was originally a cat splice. One who groomed herself well. Real well. Kneel felt parts of himself grow harder than Plymouth Rock. Thoughts followed.

The cat splice's head tilted slightly and she pressed a button on her desk, speaking into her headphone in husky, velvety tones.

"Hello, this is Reception. Sebious has returned. He's brought some unusual... guests."

There was a pause in which Kneel's eyes travelled appreciatively over her curvaceous figure, noticing the way her lips parted with just the tip of her tongue showing... and then a harsh masculine voice replied "Send them in."

With a click, another door opened and the woman turned back to her desk, as the fawn led them all through a dark corridor which opened out into a large round room that was so brightly lit it brought tears to the eyes. Sparsely furnished, it was dominated by an ominous looking steel table along which were displayed a range of instruments. An aquiline, predatory looking man in a lab coat and glasses smiled thinly and gestured for them to be seated on the bench along the wall.

"So, we meet at last" he addressed Kneel. Puzzled, Kneel became aware of a buzzing, then a sharp pain in his head which exploded and then contracted to a pinpoint of agony.

Lobo and the Kid looked down at him sadly. The Wolf looked away, ashamed.

"Sorry...fuck I'm sorry. But it's for your own good."

Kneel woke up, his head pounding, every nerve on fire. He was in a cell. No chance of getting out of it either. Some sort of field covered the entrance. His clothes were gone, replaced with grey, heavyset ones.

The door unlocked and in stepped Lobo with the Kid. Both looked ashamed. Too fucking right thought Kneel. You fucks set me up!

"At least we aren't hearing anything now" spoke the Wolf.

"But I'm sorry. The Kid told me some high level psyk had turned up covered in blood, escaped from The Pyramid. Ranting about me. About things I've never told anyone. That not even other people like you could root out, no matter how much they made my teeth hurt."

Lobo lingered by the door, pacing.

"I knew I was the only one who could help. Stop you hurting anyone else."

Turning away, he opened the door and stepped through it, pausing. Ignoring Kneel, he spoke

"See you around Kid. Let me know whose blood it is. I'll find a way of telling the families"

The door shut, leaving the Kid and Kneel alone. The kid looked awkwardly at him, then away.

"I'm sorry we've done this Mr Downe. Bu-but we can't have our creator running around. We don't know what you could do."

He walked slowly towards Kneel, and before he could react, plunged a needle into his arm, the darkness closing in once again.

Kneel awoke slowly, surfacing as if from a deep and troubled sleep, his eyes gummed together and the smell of antiseptic filling his nostrils. Disoriented, he rubbed at his eyes, his arms feeling heavy and odd - alarmed as a female voice exclaimed "Careful, Mr Downe, you've lost a lot of blood!". Looking up, he saw the concerned eyes of a nurse and was amazed to find himself in a hospital bed.

She continued: "It's very strange, you've lost over half your blood but we can't understand where from. Don't worry, a bit of rest and good food and you'll be back on your feet in no time at all. Now, get some sleep"

Feeling an increasing sense of detachment, he waited until he heard her footsteps receding down the corridor and then, finding his clothes in the nearby cabinet, dressed as quickly as his worn body would allow. He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders over his jacket.

He had to get home!

With a sense of foreboding, Kneel paused at his bedroom door.

Pushing it open, he peered inside before entering, expecting to find a mess of blood - but finding nothing at all. All appeared undisturbed but there was still the nagging feeling of something indefinable missing. He was at his bed in two steps, the covers turned back and a folded note lying on the pillow. Picking it up, as he unfolded it, his eyes were drawn to a framed poster hanging crookedly on the wall. A frown crossed his face as he contemplated the odd subject matter. He must have had quite a knock on the head! Why on earth would he have a framed picture of such a lupine, sinister looking man, his eyes glowing yellow in the cold moonlight? And in a touch of idiosyncrasy, the artist had dressed him in the most battered looking leather jacket he'd ever seen.... the colour reminding him of dried blood. It was the ironic, wolfish smile that bothered him most.

Turning back to the note, Kneel's frown deepened. It read:

For the cold moon, for the warm breeze that ruffles fur,
For the joy and the pain, the love and suffering
For the strength and courage
Remember us always on the edge of memory
Without you we live and love
Not Stolen but freed.

Feeling a tangible and yet bewildering sense of loss, Kneel let the note flutter from his hand, to the floor, grasping emptily at the dream which had escaped him.

With huge thanks to Reece Morris-Jones and Marie Redding. You can find more of their work on their blog at

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