Of all the things I might have expected to find guarding a rambling Georgian ex-vicarage, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting a Werewolf. Well, I say werewolf, but when you see something with that many teeth and claws and covered in fur, your mind defaults to saying “wolf” when it could just as easily be a Were-Pekinese. Even hunched over under the weight of its own over-developed upper body it was five foot high, and its rank wet fur smell was like an olfactory slap to the sinuses. Disconcertingly intelligent brown eyes glared out from under a heavy brow but I was far more intimidated by the broad row of teeth which certainly fitted the description of fangs.
Whatever the damned thing was, it certainly wasn’t best pleased to find me rummaging through the kitchen drawers and, curious as I may have been in other circumstances, I wasn’t hanging around to enquire about its ancestry. I bolted into the corridor and slammed the door behind me, hanging onto the handle a moment to stop me bouncing off the opposite wall. Stumbling past a long row of coat hooks I ran into the next room which was dominated by a large curved row of sash bay windows reaching from floor to ceiling.
There was a roar from down the hall and the sound of something heavy hitting the kitchen door. I jumped despite myself and hurriedly scanned round the room for inspiration. Papers littered the table, books lined the wall. A large marble fireplace had faded photos on the mantelpiece and an old-fashioned oil lamp that would probably give me a hernia to lift. A folded aluminium step ladder however was propped just inside the door and looked like it had potential. It smashed the large bay window easily enough, with enough grip for me to knock out enough glass from the frame edge to fit comfortably through.
I could hear the crack of splintering wood followed by claws skittering on vinyl flooring, giving me an extra boost of fear-fuelled speed as I ducked through and dropped the foot or so in to the flower bed below. I had no intention of meeting the Were in an enclosed space. To tell the truth, I wasn’t particularly keen to meet it out in the garden either, but I was kind of hoping it was limited to the house. Something had to be keeping it from escaping and ravaging the neighbours and I hoped it was something the owners had put in place rather than just blind luck or good manners.
I skirted round some rose bushes and onto an overgrown gravel path, wincing slightly at the sound of my crunching footsteps. Looking back at the smashed window I saw movement in the shadows of the room and then a blur of teeth on the threshold. Something halfway between a paw and a hand emerged through the breach, grasping the window sill as if to test it, followed by a snout and far too many teeth to be comfortable. Out of desperation I stepped back into the flowerbed, and brought the stepladder down, edge first, onto its nose. The impact shock ran up my arms and drove the exposed snout into a cluster of wickedly sharp glass shards. There was a howl of pain from the Were, and it pulled back inside instinctively. Just as instinctively, I ran for it. This was becoming something of a recurring pattern, I noted.