Beasts (Working Title)

Chapter One - Dinner
America, November 1960

He snatched his hand away just in time to avoid being bitten.

"Whoa!" he yelled, grinning. "Hungry, much?"

Gylae only scowled at him as he continued tearing into the raw meat in front of him.

"Leave him alone, Ryk," a female voice snapped. "He doesn't fuck with you while you're trying to eat."

"I'm just trying to make him share," Ryk taunted, grabbing for the meat again. Gylae growled a low growl and fixed yellow-gold eyes on his friend.

"He doesn't have to share. It's his kill. Leave him alone," Gywnne told him. She sat back and contined reading her book.

"Well, this is actually making me quite hungry. I believe it's time for me to go on my own hunt for the night," Ryk announced, standing up and stretching as Gylae finished off his meal and sat back with a satisfied look on his face as he gnawed on the bone he'd eaten clean. "Don't forget to clean up that mess," Ryk said to Gylae.

Gylae gave him an ambivalent stare.

"Weren't you leaving?" he asked in the deep, husky voice that he possessed when he was in he was in his beastly form.

Gywnne smiled to herself. She had grown so accustomed to their good-natured quarrels it no longer bothered her. It was rather amusing, actually. They had been this way since they first became friends two hundred years ago. It was the kind of relationship you'd expect a dog and a cat to have.

Ryk left the room. He rarely shapeshifted in front of them. He liked rather to leave human and return in his beast-form and make a grand entrance. He had always been a bit of a showman. Gywnne looked up from her book as Gylae made the transformation. She'd seen it a thousand times before, but it still fascinated her to watch him go from wolf to man. She wondered what she looked like when she changed. He arched his back and threw back his head, closing his eyes. His hair grew into his skin and disappeared before her eyes. He opened his mouth and she watched as his fangs grew smaller, but did not disappear completely. The girth of his arms and legs shrunk slightly and his long nails grew into his hands and feet. Soon he was a human male, kneeling on the floor on all fours, naked. He stood up and stretched, letting out a low growl, and then walked from the room. He returned, dressed, with a mop and bucket, trash bags, and some towels and began to clean what was left of the dead carcass on the ground. It had been a young man at one time, but now all that was left was blood and bones. Gylae never left any meat behind. He gorged himself, like all wolves do for they never knew when they would get their next meal. Ryk ate until he was full and discarded the rest. Of them all he was the most wasteful. Suddenly, he stalked back into the room in complete beast form. Gywnne had seen him like this countless times before but she was still always taken aback at his beauty and magnificance. To say he was regal was putting it lightly. The huge, white tiger walked to the door and let out a low roar. Taking the signal, Gylae walked over and opened the door for him and Ryk the Tiger ran out into the cool evening air.

"Good riddance," Gwynne said. "He was getting on my nerves."

"He always gets on your nerves," Gylae answered, his voice still deep, but not near as much.

"And yours," she retorted, looking at him pointedly.

"Yes," he agreed, "but that's just Ryk. Are you going to hunt tonight?"

"Yes, but it's too early. I like to go out much later, you know that. It isn't dark enough yet."

He nodded as he finished cleaning up the mess on the floor. He picked up his cleaning materials and sat down in his favorite chair. He grabbed the cigarette pack from the table and lit a cigarette, blowing out a huge billow of smoke and sighing. He lay his head back on the chair and closed his eyes.

"What's wrong?" she asked him.

"This year, this month," he answered, opening his eyes and looking at her, "it's when I was changed. Two hundred years ago."

She smiled. "Well, Happy Birthday."

He couldn't help but grin at her. "Yeah, thanks. I don't feel two hundred years old." The smile left his face and he became serious, "Sometimes I feel like I've just been around too damn long. Then, sometimes, I can't wait to see the next two hundred. I don't know if I'm tired of it all or still loving every minute of it."

That was Gylae; always in a state of confliction, always dueling it out with himself in his own mind. It was rare that it showed, however.

Gywnne only smiled at him, "You're loving every minute of it, if I know you. And after two hundred years, I think I do."

He smiled and lay back against the chair and closed his eyes once more. Before long he had fallen asleep, the ashes on his cigarette two times longer than the filter. Gywnne got up and gently pulled the cigarette from his fingers, despositing it in the ashtray. He always fell asleep after eating. She stepped outside on the back porch of their little secluded cabin nestled deep in the woods of Colorado and took a deep breath of the cool air. The sun had set and darkness surrounded the cabin, shadows cast all around from the bright, half moon above. Her favorite time of night was now; the very beginning of dark. How easily she could slip through the shadows in her beast-form on a night like tonight. The thought made her realize how very hungry she was. Without even going back inside, she transformed there on the porch and began to run into the night as the blackness swallowed and cloaked the black panther as if she'd never been there.

Chapter Two - Gylae
Scotland, November 1760

"I'll only be gone a few days, Father," the young man said as he climbed upon his horse. "I will look after all of those things when I return."

"Aye, it is just like you, Gylae, to be running off when's there work to be done!"

He flashed a grin at his father. "Aye, but I'll be back and I will do it all then. I always do."

"That you do, lad," his father had to smile. The youngest of his 5 sons in the MacMilan Clan, Gylae was the wildest, yet probably the wisest. He possessed a rare mixture of wisdom and wildness that demanded respect and at the same time, awe. He would leave his chores for now to go on the hunt, his favorite pasttime, but would return in a few days and complete them all. His father knew this was the truth. "Be careful, Gylae," his father cautioned, "we will look forward to your return and we'll have a great feast with whatever you kill to celebrate your 24th year."

Gylae smiled, excited about turning 24 in a few days. He was to be married in the next month to a pretty, young girl from the MacDougal Clan whom he liked and his father was buiding them a home as a combined birthday and marriage present. The idea of starting a new life was one that excited Gylae, though he felt he could do without the marriage part.

"Goodbye, Father," he yelled as he rode off, waving.

"Fare thee well, son," his father said more to himself than to Gylae. An odd feeling crept over his heart, but he ignored it as he turned towards the house to finish his chores.

It was the last time that Duncan MacMilan ever saw his son.

Gylae rode up to his friend, John MacInnis' cottage a few miles away. It was their usual custom to hunt the wolves together in the fall months when John was not so busy with crops and chores. Being the oldest of 2 younger brothers and a sister, he had become man of the house when his father had been killed in a battle with a warring clan. His mother and he worked the farm and did most of the chores together. A kindly and deeply religious woman, Gylae loved her as if she were his own mother. She approached them as they were saddling John's horse up for the long journey.

"'Ere," she said, handing a basket to Gylae, "I've baked some rolls for ye for the trip."

John smiled, "Thank you, mother. It will certainly make the trip more bearable with your good rolls to keep us warm."

"Well, I know how Gylae loves them," she said, smiling at the young men. "As a young 'un, he'd tug on my skirts and beg me for rolls all day long as I tried to work. Please be careful, my boys," she said, hugging them both.

"Of course, mother. Make sure to get Gregory to help you on the farm, and Deborah to help you with the inside chores. Tell them I'll tear into them both when I return if they don't."

"John, do not worry. We will be fine without you for a few days. Thank you, my son."

"I promise to bring him back safe to you," Gylae said, grinning.

"I know that ye will," she said, as they climbed on their horses and began to ride away.

It was a half a day's journey away where they usually rode to hunt. By time they arrived it was dusk. They decided to set up camp under a large tree and begin the hunt the next day as they were both weary from their trip. Soon, they had a blazing fire going and were sitting in front of it, eating the rolls that John's mother had baked for them.

"So, you're to be married, soon, then, ay?" John asked, smiling at Gylae. "I never thought ye one to settle down."

Gylae grunted, "I'm not, my friend. I'm not."

"Why do ye, then? I'd imagine all your pretty girlfriends from the village will be mighty sad to hear of your being betrothed."

Gylae had to smile at that. He had been known for his promiscous ways with women, but that was all to change now. "It was something that was arranged long before I was born, John. I could not disgrace my family that way."

John nodded solemnly. "Aye."

They both heard the twig snap at the same time. In a split second they were on their feet, swords and muskets drawn, looking around to find the source of the noise. Someone or something was near them. Gylae felt every hair on his neck and arms standing on end as he peered into the dark night. Suddenly, a figure jumped from behind the tree, grabbing John from behind and catching him off guard. He let out a yell, dropping his weapons as the creature yanked him backwards. Before Gylae's astonished eyes, the man bit deeply into John's neck as John screamed and blood spurted from the huge gash. The man closed his mouth around John's neck and began to drink the blood. Gylae had heard tales of vampires before, but had never believed in them, but certainly that must be what this creature was. John's limp body fell to the ground and, overcoming his shock, Gylae screamed and fired his musket repeatedly at the man-creature standing before him covered in his friend's blood. The bullets knocked him back a few feet and he staggered, but remainded standing. His musket emptied of bullets, Gylae threw it to the ground and narrowed his eyes at the creature, knowing there was nothing else he could do. He heard a wolf howl not too far away and the man rushed at him, the force knocking him to the ground. The man tore into his neck as he'd seen him do to John and he could feel the creature sucking his blood from him. It was happening so quickly, but Gylae remembered his sword still in his hand. With the last of his dying strength, he swung his sword, chopping off the creature's head. It rolled a few feet away. Gylae lay there, breathing deeply, knowing his wounds were probably fatal. He had to act quickly before all blood left his body. His shock seemed to give him the energy he needed to get up and throw the creature's body and severed head into the fire, where it died with a horrifying scream. Gylae fell to the ground, and crawled over to his friend. John was dead. A red-hot fury like he'd never experienced ran through him and he screamed into the night air. His best friend, his childhood playmate was killed and he had only stood there. A movement in the corner of his eye caused hiim to look to the tree. There was a wolf watching him. It had smelt the blood, he realized. A wolf would never attack living humans, but it had come to feast on the dead bodies of he and his friend. Gylae did not move as the wolf approached John cautiously, eyeing him warily. It was skinny, and probably hadn't eaten in so long that it was willing to risk approaching this meal with Gylae only a few feet away. The wolf was probably too weak to catch its own prey anymore and survived only on the carcass' of dead animals. The wolf began to tear at John's clothes and suddenly Gylae found himself jumping on the wolf. He did not know what was possessing him to attack this animal, besides his rage; yet this was something else. He and the weak animal struggled, both not truly strong enough to throw the other off. Suddenly, Gylae found himself going for the wolf's throat and he tore into it as if he himself were a wild animal. He held the dead wolf's body in his arms at is spasmed and he drank it's blood. Suddenly, overcome with disgust with what he'd just done he threw the dead wolf from his arms. He fell back on the ground and found he could not get up. He was so cold, and so weak. He knew that he was dying. And as a cloud passed over the half moon above, turning the land to dark, Gylae MacMilan did indeed, die.

He awoke in the morning. He was cold and his limbs stiff. For a moment he could not remember where he was. He looked down and saw himself covered in dried blood and suddenly everything came back to him. He bolted upright and looked around. The fire had burnt down to a pile of smoking ashes, blowing around idly with the chilly, morning breeze. There was nothing left of the vampire that had attacked them the night before. Gylae looked to his left and saw the body of his friend, cold and bloody, lying on the ground. He choked back tears as he forced himself to stand up. Near John lay the body of the wolf, it's throat torn open, the blood dried hard into it's gray fur. What had happened, he wondered? He did not understand how he had survived the attack. He remembered the tales of vampires he'd heard around hearth fires as a child, and wondered if he now was one after surviving the attack. Didn't one become a vampire after being bitten by one; sort of like a terrible disease? He suddenly felt a hunger like he'd never felt before as he stared at John's dead body. He turned and vomitted. Looking at the body of his friend was making him hungry! Hungry for blood, for meat, for flesh! What was this?! He turned and ran from the campground. He didn't know how long he ran, but it wasn't long before he came upon an old man and his horse walking along the dirt path he and John had used the day before.

"Lad," the whole man said, concerned, "what has happened to ye? You're covered in blood! Can I help you?"

Gylae stood staring at the man, but he could not think. All he knew was his instinct...and his instinct was to kill. He rushed at the man before either of them knew what was happening. The man fell to the ground and Gylae found himself tearing into the man's throat like the vampire had done to him the night before. His body felt so weird, and out of control while his mind screamed at him for eating another human. He did not know where the strength came from or how he was able to do this, but the thing that drove him the most crazy was that he was enjoying it. When Gylae finished, there was nothing left of the man but a bloody mess of bones in the roadway. He went to stand up and found he couldn't. It was then that he noticed the hair that covered his body, that his hands were not hands, but paws. He turned his head as best he could and looked himself over. He was a wolf! Terrified, he ran back to the campground that he'd left earlier. He sat quietly, licking the blood from his fur and whimpering. He lay down by John and howled long and mournfully at the sky. He calmed his mind and tried to make sense of all that was going on inside of his head. He felt a power in himself like he'd never felt before. He wanted to be a man again. He concentrated on this thought and suddenly felt a strange feeling in his stomach. His mind went into a state of chaos, and he had no idea what was happening to him. When the spinning stopped and he could think clearly again, he realized he was a man again. Shocked to realize he had the power to change at will, he sat until dusk thinking about everything that had taken place. He knew he was a vampire of sorts, and that he was also a wolf. He knew that whoever he was before this had happened was now dead. He could never be Gylae MacMilan again; not after killing another human as he had just done. He knew that he could never return home. That night he set a funeral pyre for John and gave his friend a proper memorial service. He set John's horse free, knowing it would return home. He climbed onto his own horse and rode off, never looking back.

Chapter Three - Gywnne
India, June 1790

"It's Gywnneth Angelique Beauchamp, sir," she said, tossing long, dark hair over her shoulder. "I am to meet my father at this establishment on this evening. I suggest you check your records again as I do indeed have a room waiting for me."

The young lady glanced around the dingy bar. Though she thorougly enjoyed joining her father on his expeditions all over the world, she did hate most of the places he chose to stay. She imagined the inn above this little bar was none cleaner or nicer than what she saw before her. She glanced behind her at Fergus, her servant as he switched from one foot to the other, trying to compensate for the weight of her heavy luggage that he held. "In a moment, Fergus," she said.

"Miss Beauchamp," the man said, "I do not see your name on our records. I am sorry. Your father is staying here but has said nothing to us of your arrival." This did not surprise her. Her father was the epitome of the absent-minded professor. He probably had forgotten to make her reservations. She might have been annoyed at his forgetfulness had she not loved him so.

She smiled, "Well, then, I would like to have a room, please. As close to my father as possible."

"Yes, Miss Beauchamp, right away."

She had been delighted when her father had sent for her from Paris to join him on his latest expedition for her 20th birthday. She had never been to India. Her mother had been upset, naturally. She felt that Gynneth should stay in Paris, pursuing her studies and pursuing young, eligible batchelors. "Trekking through the jungles of India is no place for a young lady, ma cher!" she'd exclaimed with her usual drama.

But Gywnneth could not be swayed. She had not seen her father for two whole months, and even though she would never tell her mother, she someday wished to travel the world and be an archeologist like her father. Forget getting married and settling down. She wanted to see more of the world. Just then she heard a jovial voice from the stairwell.

"There is my beautiful, young daughter!" she heard her father's voice boom. "Daddy!" she yelled, running into his arms. She loved her eccentric father with his little wire glasses and small, white mustache. "Oh, how I've missed you!" she exclaimed.

"And I, you, my pet," he said, hugging her tightly. "How is your mother?" "Fine, fine. Fussy as usual."

"She just wants what's best for you, dear," he said as he led her to a small table near the staircase. "Sir, please show Fergus to my daughter's room so he can set down her luggage," he said to the man behind the counter.

"I know that, Daddy. But I don't want to get married. I want to continue to travel with you!"

He smiled and winked at her. "Of course you do, my little gyspy. Tell me about everyone back at home."

They sat and talked until supper was served. It was much better than she had expected from a place such as this.

"Tomorrow we go to some temple ruins deep in the jungle," he told her excitedly. "I can't wait!"

"I know you can't. I must go up and get some sleep since we are leaving bright and early. I suggest you do the same, darling. I know you must be tired from your trip."

"Then you don't know me very well, Daddy," she said, grinning. She was so excited she couldn't have slept even if she'd wanted to.

"No, I'm afraid I do," he smiled. "Just try not to stay up too late. There is a small festival in the village tonight. You might enjoy that. Just make sure to bring Fergus with you."

With that, he was off to bed. Gywnneth ran up to her room. She had never treated Fergus as a servant, but more like a brother since her father had brought the young orphan home years before. He was four years older than her and had become her personal guardian of sorts through the years. Her father had employed him as her own "servant" to make sure she was always taken care of. He'd been too tired to join them for dinner and was up in his room asleep when she burst in.

"Fergus!" she cried, "Wake up! There is a festival in the little village down the road. We are going!"

"Where do you get all of this energy?" he asked, yawning.

"Come on, get up, get ready! I'm going to my room to change. We won't stay long, I promise!"

She ran from the room as quickly as she'd entered it. Fergus could only laugh and begin to get ready.

Soon they were walking down the little dirt road, following the bright, colored lights of the festival in the village a few feet away from them. Colored lanterns hung from wires suspended from building to building and music played from a small stage erected in the center of the village. People laughed and danced all around them. Gywnneth soon lost Fergus as was their custom as soon as they got where they were going. She knew he liked to go and pick up pretty women. She'd rather be on her own anyway. Soon she found herself dancing in the streets with everyone else, laughing and spinning. She loved having her hair down, as her mother always made her wear it up at home like "a proper lady should". She felt wild and free. Many young men danced with her, spinning her around from one arm to the next. She quickly became the belle of the ball, so to speak. She found that one man more than any other was asking for her hand repeatedly. He was quite handsome.

"May I have the pleasure of your name, Miss?" he asked in a strong, English accent.

"It's Gywnneth Beauchamp," she replied, smiling.

"A French lady in our midst," he said, feigning shock, "Oh my, how lucky we are! I am pleased to make your accuaintance, Miss Beauchamp," he said, taking a bow and kissing her hand.

"Why, thank you...?"

"Call me Charles," he offered.

"Well, thank you, Mr. Charles."

"What brings a lady of your class to India, Miss Beauchamp?"

"My father is an archealogist. We are going to some temple ruins tomorrow."

"What a surprise! I myself am here studying archeology. Do you think your father would mind my tagging along tomorrow? I am sure I could learn quite a lot."

"He would be pleased, as would I, Mr. Charles if you accompanied us. If there is one thing Father loves, it is having someone he can teach!"

They both laughed.

"Then for tonight, I will take my leave of you, Miss Beauchamp and will meet your group tomorrow in front of your hotel."

"Goodnight, Mr. Charles," she said as he kissed her hand and walked away, winking at her.

What a charming man, she thought, quite a gentleman. Realizing that it was getting late and that she had to be awake very early in the morning, she decided to take her leave. She looked around for Fergus, but could not find him. That was not uncommon. It wasn't far to the hotel so she decided to walk back herself. The cool night air surrounded her as she walked away from the lights and the sound of laughter and music slowly faded behind her. She was suddenly aware of someone walking behind her. She spun, thinking it would be Fergus and turned right into a man she'd never met before. She gasped and took a step back, not realizing how close her pursuerer had been behind her.

"Excuse me," he said, in a deep voice, "I didn't mean to frighten you."

"Then maybe you shouldn't be walking up behind me in the dark!" she snapped, caught off guard with her heart still hammering in her chest.

The stranger smiled, "I am very sorry," he said, putting a hand over his heart.

"Why are you following me?" she asked, growing wary. This man had a wild look about him. He was not dressed in a suit and his hair was not combed back the way a gentleman's should be. It was wild all over his head and he had not shaved in weeks, though he had no beard. Yet, he was still very handsome. She could not tear herself away from his eyes. There was something magnetic there. "I felt that I must warn you," he said. He spoke like a gentleman.

"Warn me?"

"Yes, that man you were talking to....I don't think you want to be involved with him."

"You know young Mr. Charles?" she asked.

"I know of him."

"Well, he seemed alright enough to me. What is wrong with him?"

"You would not believe me if I told you. Just trust me when I say you do not want to get involved with him."

"Well, if you can give me no better reason than that, I will have to take my chances because he seemed a very nice man to me. At least he does not sneak up behind young women in the middle of the night on deserted roads!"

Did she imagine it, or did he growl at her? "Alright," he said, "Have it your way." He seemed angry. "I tried to warn you." He turned and walked away. How odd, she thought, feeling a little uncomfortable. She went back to the hotel and into her bed, trying to forget the whole thing.

Charles was there in the morning waiting and her father was delighted to have him along. Gywnneth noticed that Fergus looked a little under the weather and decided he'd probably had to much to drink the night before. That was usually the case. She shook her head at him playfully and he smiled at her and shrugged. It had been almost a year since her last expedition and she was excited. The group set off on their long hike towards the jungle.

Charles talked to her most of the time, stopping only to listen to her father explain this or that important fact to him. She liked him, but he bored her a bit as most men did. They were only halfway there, her father expalined, when they had to stop at dusk to set up camp. Soon as everyone was settled around the campfire after dinner, talking and joking. Her father decided to retire early, suggesting that everyone do the same as they would be moving at out sunrise.

"Goodnight, Daddy," Gywnneth said, hugging her father. "I love you."

"Happy Birthday, Gywnneth," he said, hugging her back. "I am so glad you are here with me."

"Gywnneth," Charles said to her after her father had left, "would you like to take a walk with me?"

"I don't want to stray to far from the camp, Charles," she said.

"Of course not," he said, smiling and taking her arm.

They had walked very far before Gywnneth realized how long they'd been gone. "We must be getting back,"' she said, "we are starting out early."

"Wait," he said, pulling her to him. "Gywnneth, I would very much like to kiss you."

She laughed nervously, pushing herself slightly away from him. "Oh, no, Charles, I don't think so. I..I don't feel that way about you. I would like us to just be friends."

He grabbed her arms at the elbows and pulled her back to him, roughly, "I said I would like a kiss."

Warning lights went off in her head and she rememberd the wild stranger telling her to not become involved with Charles. "Let go or I'll scream," she said, sounding angry even though she was afraid.

"Go ahead," he said, "No one will hear you this far out. The jungle has a way of swallowing noises."

"Charles, please.."

He put his hand over her mouth and she began to struggle. He roughly jerked her head to the side and went for her neck. Her eyes flew open wide and she screamed through his fingers as she realized he was biting her. Her neck throbbed in hot agony as she tried to squirm away from his tight grasp. She felt herself beginning to grow weak and her eyes began to flutter when there was a great impact and she felt herself being flung to the ground. She sat up, weak and dazed, shaking her head. She was horrified to see her entire right shoulder and arm covered in dark, red blood. She looked up and saw Charles restling with what appeared to be a wild animal. She could not be sure as her vision was slightly blurring. Dizzily, she got to her feet and began to run away. She did not know if she was running in the right direction or not but the cool night air and her rushing adrenaline seemed to give her newfound energy. Suddenly, she tripped on a root in the ground and went sprawling. She looked up and saw yellow-green eyes staring at her from a few feet away. Stunned, she could not figure out what it was. Slowly, the realization dawned on her. A black panther. She felt for the dagger she always kept strapped to her ankle when traveling and pulled it out of its sheath. Her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could see the panther crouching to pounce on her. She rolled on to her back and as the great cat jumped at her, she plunged the dagger deep into its throat. She felt warm blood falling onto her and the panther slumped dead on top of her. It was too heavy and she was too weak to push it off, but the smell of the blood aroused something inside of her. Her head began to spin again and she realized suddenly that she was drinking the blood of the panther from the gash in it's throat! Repulsed as she was she could not stop. Finally, she pushed herself away from the dead cat. She tried to stand up, but was too weak, and she fell to the ground again. She heard a loud noise and realized that someone or something was running towards her. She fell to the ground, and Gywnneth Beauchamp was dead.

When she awoke she did not know where she was. At first she thought she was at home, in her bed in Paris. But she soon realized this was not the case. This was a much smaller room, dirty and dingy. She sat up in the bed, and looked around. How had she gotten here? Where was she? As she glanced around the room she saw the wild stranger from the other night sitting in a corner of the room in a wooden chair, staring at her.

She gasped. "What's going on?" she asked, her voice shaking.

He regarded her quietly for the longest time before answering. "You don't remember?"

She started to remember suddenly and she put her hands to her mouth, suppressing an "oh!" and she began to shake violently. He got up and came to sit next to her on the bed, but she jumped away when he went to embrace her. "It's okay," he told her, gently, "I am the one who saved you."

She let him hold her, but she continued to shake. She did not cry, though. Finally, she gently pushed him away and pulled her knees to her chest, hugging them.

"What was all that?" she asked, struggling to regain her composure. "How did you save me?"

"I killed that fucking vampire that attacked you," he said, lighting a cigarette.

She blanched. She wasn't used to such language. "Va..vampire?"


"I saw someone attack Charles," she said, carefully, trying to remember, "but it was not a human. It was definitely an animal."

The stranger narrowed his eyes at her and took a deep drag of his cigarette and let it come out with his next words, "Yes. That was me."

Her eyes grew wide, but she did not know how to respond. He sat, smoking and staring at her while she tried to think of something to say. "I don't believe that's possible," she said carefully.

"I'll bet before last night you didn't believe it was possible to be attacked by a vampire, either, did you?"

She frowned and shook her head, "No. So you're telling me that you are an animal."

"That is what I'm telling you. And if you're ready for another shock, I'm also going to tell you that you are one, too."

This time she started laughing at him, "Really? This is crazy! And exactly what kind of animal are you and I, then, sir?"

He never cracked a smile. "I'm a wolf. You are a panther."

She stopped. She remembered the panther that had attacked her. The one she had killed. The one whose blood she'd drank. She looked at the man before her with wide eyes. "Because of the vampire bite...."

"I am guessing that is what happened," he said. "My situation was similar to yours but with a wolf. Somehow I believe we became part of the animal plus becoming a vampire. Though, I haven't found anyone that can confirm that theory for me as I appear to be the only vampire-animal around."

"You mean there are no others?"

"Until I saw you, I have found none. I have searched the world over since this happened to me 30 years ago and I have found no one, human or vampire, who is or who has heard of others like us."

She was in shock, and could think of nothing else to say. "You must've been very lonely," she whispered.

He frowned and then shook his head. "No, not really. I'm what you might call a loner."