“Harkin Ross, did you do it?”
I jerked my shoulders away from the policeman who escorted me up the steps to the law courts and turned to scope out who had barked the question. My sudden movement caused several officers to move in quickly and surround me.
An expected crowd had gathered with cameras snapping pictures and cell phones recording video clips. I strained against the handcuffs, the metal edges grinding the hair on my arms into the fresh cuts on my skin. These pigs were making damn sure I was restrained as tight as possible. Manacles had been locked onto each of my ankles, threaded with heavy chains between them. All I could manage was to shuffle forward.
Rain had been falling that morning. The sky was grey and overcast, much like my mood. The smell of wet hung heavy and thick.
I blew a tuft of ochre-red hair out of my eyes as I scanned the crowd. Singling out the face that belonged with the question was easy. I could smell him from where I stood.
He smelled sour.
I smelled his fear.
Glaring at him, my lips curled back, revealing a flash of canine white.
He paled noticeably, but he had enough balls to repeat the question as the crowd’s clamour hastily muffled itself. Everyone turned to face the reporter who had dared address me.
“Did you do it?” he asked again, softer this time, and with a lot less confidence.
“Humph.” I snarled and spat in their direction. To hell with all of them.
My captors grabbed me and turned me toward the imposing brick building and the iron barred cell that awaited me.
“Harkin, just answer the man’s questions,” Voit commanded. Matthew Voit was my appointed legal counsel, and from the dark bags under his eyes, I could tell the past few weeks had been exhausting for him. He obviously wasn’t getting much rest. After pulling his glasses off with one hand, he pinched the bridge of his nose with the other, closing his eyes as he let out a deep sigh.
He placed the spectacles down on the smooth metallic tabletop of the interrogation room and ran his hand over his stubble-covered face.
I liked being out of my cell, but the manacles on each arm and leg with the heavy chains strung through them felt like they weighed a hundred pounds.
“Why should I?” I responded. It was easier to be obstinate. After all, there was no getting out of here. I wasn’t going to see the open sky or a full moon hanging over a dense forest ever again. I’d been betrayed and forever changed. I had no reason to be in a good mood or helpful.
“Why?” Voit quipped. “Because I told you to. Because someone out there might read the reporter’s story and sympathize. Because if the people on the jury saw you as a human being, and not some monster, you might actually wind up with a case where we can say you have a disease and the murders weren’t your fault. That’s why. Jesus…can you just work with me here? Throw me a fucking bone, man. I didn’t ask for this case.” Voit was pissed. Pissed and tired.
“Throw you a bone? What is that, some kind of pun? Give the dog a bone? You think this is fucking funny?” I lunged at him. He sat back in his chair with a jerk, wide-eyed. That sour aroma of fear permeated the room. “They are never going to let me out into the general public. Ever.”
I had always been somewhat sullen and quick to anger. I think those emotions were products of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father, but lately my anger would spike at the smallest of provocations.
“No, but you might end up in a secure hospital somewhere instead of a shit-hole of a prison.” He waved his hands in the air, indicating the current facility.
“Yeah, a hospital,” I snorted. “More like a lab where they’ll poke and probe me to see how I tick. Eventually I’ll end up sliced open and dissected on some scientist’s surgical table. I’ll be lucky if they give me anesthetic while they’re doing it.”
“I give up. I don’t care what the hell you do. Just don’t kill the guy.”
I lifted my hands. The heavy metal chains clanged together and suddenly stopped my movement. The noise of steel clinking against steel echoed throughout the sparse concrete room.
“Probably not going to happen,” I sneered.
“I’m leaving. They’re sending him in. This case just needs to be over. And soon.” Voit grabbed his briefcase and laptop bag and left the room. The heavy metal door slammed behind him, and I sat there, alone, waiting.
I shouldn’t have been short with Voit. After all, he was just trying to do his job. But even I didn’t really know much about what had happened that night. All I knew was, I hadn’t done it. And I sure as hell didn’t get a tutorial on what to expect after the incident.
I had no fucking clue how to be a werewolf. But I was figuring it out.
Your favorite stories from childhood have a new twist. Nine fairy tales of old with characters across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Morning Star by Sydney Blackburn – Five wishes; one desire.
Fairest by K.S. Trenten – What will you change into?
Gingerbread by Riza Curtis – A night out to die for.
Sleeping Beauty by A. Fae – United by true love’s kiss.
Little Match Girl by Dianne Hartsock – Falling in love with the Little Match Girl was easy, but now Christian is determined to help Dani find his family, even if doing so means he might lose him forever.
Hood’s Ride is Red by J.P. Jackson – A red car, a werewolf, and a trip to grandpa’s house – this ain’t your usual Little Red Riding Hood.
The Gingerbread Woman by Donna Jay – When Candace sets out for a weekend of solitude she gets far more than she bargained on.
White Roses by A.D. Song – A kiss to break the curse…or continue it.
Once Upon a Mattress by Mickie B. Ashling – Will Errol spend a miserable night and prove his worthiness or will Sebastian have to keep on looking?
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