Chapter 1: Change
I killed the engine as soon as I pulled into the driveway. I was edgy, having alternated between extreme happiness and extreme rage all the way home as I thought of Bella and the jerk that she was pining over. And I felt physically strange too, prickly all over, as if there were invisible hot pins pricking at me from the inside of my skin.
I saw the light still on in the living room and sighed. Billy had waited up for me but I didn't want to talk to anyone just now. I let myself out of the car quietly and walked slowly into the house.
"Hey dad," I muttered, my voice sounding weird to my ears.
"You look strange," Billy said critically, eyeing me with that same strange expectant look that he had been using on me for weeks.
That did it. I was about to snap at him when I suddenly realized that I was no longer in control of myself. The red hot feral rage that had been flickering just under the surface all day broke free and washed through my body, causing every inch to flare up in piercing agony. I felt my head start to spin wildly as the fury took over my brain. I struggled to stay upright as my whole body shook and trembled from the fury.
Calm down. Calm down.
I said over and over in my head, but it couldn't penetrate that thick red haze. Suddenly, the shaking got worse and my head was thrown back as my back arched and my spine seemed to splinter from the heat. I felt myself exploding, as if my insides were about to burst through my disintegrating skin. This was it. I was dying. I had to be.
And then, the boiling heat exploded through my skin and I felt myself falling … dying …
But before I hit the ground, my body suddenly caught itself and I found myself standing upright again. The shaking had stopped but I could still feel the fiery wave of heat coursing through my body. Disoriented and shell-shocked, I caught a glimpse of my surroundings which made me jump in surprise, and my head hit the ceiling hard before my feet even left the ground.
"What the f*%#? Why am I so tall? What the hell just happened?" I looked over at Billy and my head began to spin again. I felt as if I were looking at him from on top of a platform. I had somehow grown four feet taller in the past few minutes.
"WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT'S GOING ON?" I shouted him, but it came out in this hideous yowling sound.
"What the hell? I can't speak anymore?"
I began to panic, which only made the swirling red heat rage more within me more.
"WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?!" I demanded as I took a step towards Billy. The room shook as I moved.
I heard growling and turned to look around, but there was no one there. That's when I realized that the growling was coming from me. I reached out to shake Billy, to demand that he answer me. But as I reached my hand out, instead of my hand, I saw this gigantic clawed furry paw in its place.
"WHAT THE F*%#?!! "
I stared at the two furry paws that had replaced my hand and I started to freak out. I yelled at the top of my lungs, but all I could hear were terrified yelping sounds coming out of my mouth.
"Calm down, Jake. Calm Down. It's okay. Everything's going to be okay," Billy said soothingly as he backed away from me. But it only made me angrier that he was talking to me like I was some cranky toddler who had just woken up from a nap.
And hat's when I realized that Billy didn't look the least bit surprised or confused. Suddenly, everything clicked into place in my head.
He knew what was going on. He had been expecting this. That's why he had been looking at me weirdly for the past few weeks.
"EXPLAIN THIS! TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON!" I started shouting at him but all I could hear were angry snarls and growls.
Billy grabbed the phone and called someone.
"Sam, it happened," he said urgently.
That did it. The red hot rage spiked and spiraled through my body as I flipped out.
"SAM?! SAM IS IN ON THIS!? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! TELL ME! TELL ME!"
I started to yell – but all I heard were yelps – and that uncontrollable fury began to spill over into my brain again. I moved towards him, gesturing wildly, as I felt my anger taking over me. I was right in his face, my jaws tensing to bite, when my mind suddenly registered the terrified expression on Billy's face.
I jerked myself back in horror. What the hell was I doing? Was I going to attack Billy? What was wrong with me?!?!
I heard a voice in my head. A voice that wasn't mine.
"Jacob. It's Sam. Calm down. It's okay."
I was confused. What the hell was going on? Was I hallucinating? Were these voices real?
"You're not crazy. We'll explain everything. Just get out of the house."
"What the hell is going on? Tell me!!!" I thought frantically as I tried to keep myself as far away from Billy as I could in our tiny living room.
"Jake, it's okay. It's really okay," said a familiar voice.
"Jake, I'm sorry. I don't know how to say this but …"
Embry's voice in my head died off but bizarrely, I realized that I was in his head and I could see through his eyes. And I was staring at a gigantic black wolf. It turned to look at me, its eyes intelligent and expectant, and it nodded once at me. And then suddenly, I knew.
Embry and Sam didn't respond. But they didn't need to. I felt the tremor of their reactions and I knew that I was right. I looked over at Billy who had tears in his eyes. I finally understood why he had been watching me so warily for months. He had known all along that this was going to happen. That I was going to turn into a monster one day. The rage that I thought had died down spiraled out of control again as I processed that thought.
"You're not a monster, Jacob," Sam's voice echoed in my head piercing through my thoughts.
"The hell if I'm not. But I don't understand. Why? What? How?"
I pleaded with them, desperate to make sense of what had happened.
"We'll tell you everything, Jake. I promise." Embry reassured me, "But you have to get out of the house first. It's too dangerous for you to be near Billy."
"But I don't understand … "
"Jake, listen to me. You have to get out of the house. It's not safe."
"TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON!"
"No, Jake. You have to get out. Now. Please," Embry urged "Remember, how you almost took off Billy's head?"
"How did you … how can you …" I sputtered in confusion.
"The same way you can see in my head," he responded softly. "Just get out of the house first. Meet us in the forest. We'll explain everything."
I nodded slowly and looked up to see that Billy had already eased by me and opened up the back door. I barely fit through the doorway and had to turn sideways awkwardly to get out. I was careful to keep my hands – or claws or paws or whatever the hell they were – close to me and away from Billy.
Walking on two legs felt unsteady and strange. I looked down and almost lost it again at the sight of two hairy paws in place of my feet.
"Calm, Jake. Calm." Sam cautioned.
I forced myself to relax and I was relieved to find that awful uncontrollable rage simmer slightly. Once I got outside the door, I fell immediately onto four legs. It felt strange at first walking that way, but after a few steps, it became natural and I took off into the forest at full speed.
"Where are you guys? Where am I going? I don't understand …" my voice cracking from the strain.
"Keep going. We're a few miles straight ahead of you, in the empty logging field," Embry instructed.
I raced through the forest utterly disoriented and confused. Even on four legs, I was taller than I normally was – or whatever the hell I was before this happened – and so my new line of vision seemed strange and off-kilter. I was surprised at how easily I was able to run through the forest without crashing into trees, but the minute I started to think, I started to lose my agility and had a few close calls.
"Go with your instincts, Jacob. Don't think about it." Sam's voice echoed inside my head.
I stopped thinking about it and suddenly, the same fluidity and grace that I had before returned. I saw the clearing up ahead and raced to the middle before skidding to a stop.