There didn’t used to be werewolves loose in the world. Now there will be. You can’t think what to do about it. Maybe with a little more time, you might figure something out. But right now, sitting in the car, daylight fading fast, your mind racing, you can’t think what you’re supposed to do.

Your fiancé, Esmé, still held out the bloody, chewed-up frisbee to you, like it’s a good thing. Clearly, she wants you to be excited about it.

You should probably kill her and bury the frisbee. But who’d believe your reason for doing it?

All you can think to do is get back to the B&B, get your stuff, and slip away before she realizes you’re gone. Maybe get your engagement ring from her.

You and Esmé had been spending a few days out of the city at a bed and breakfast upstate. You were headed back after a late lunch at a quaint restaurant in a converted farmhouse. You’d spent a good part of the afternoon visiting rescue dogs in a shelter she’d happened to find tucked away off a hilly country lane.

Nearly dusk and under a low, threatening sky of snow-laden clouds, ready to let loose another storm, Esmé had you pull off the road at the top of a hill by a fenced-off clearing. Blanketed in snow, the clearing appeared to be completely untouched, banded on three sides by a thick stand of trees.

She had you get the frisbee from the trunk as she dashed out onto all that whiteness.

You knew. It wasn’t so much playing with the frisbee she wanted as it was romping on the meadow, with you playing the dog.

It’s a thing with her. Dogs. When you first met her, it seemed more of a cutsie canine fixation. But it went deeper, darker than that.

The guy managing your apartment didn’t allow dogs, but she’d still drag you to pet shops, kennels, and breeders to check out the dogs. All kinds of dogs. Mainly, it seemed she did it just to stir them up, get them howling, her howling along with them, getting you both booted and banned.

Esmé collected all kinds of dog figurines. Dogs in metal, wood, yarn, ceramics, and leather. She had a fondness for balls, rawhide chew toys, and collars. On special occasions, she’d fit herself out with an extra-large harness and leash. Nothing else. Just the harness and leash. Yes, she looked really good in it.

Early on, she’d wanted to know what dogs you liked, if you’d ever seen a dog laugh, if you liked having a dog sleeping in bed with you. If you’d ever eaten dog food out of a dog dish as a kid. As an adult. If you ever wondered if dogs liked sex the way people did.

You knew the whole snowy meadow thing was acting out her Dog Master Girl fantasy and you were her faithful shepherd, Rex. You’re not a total idiot.

She loved playing frisbee in the park. Not the usual way. She’d fling it, making you chase after it, then run it back to her.

She loved having you run and leap and snatch the frisbee out of the air, like a border collie—with a bachelor’s degree. You were pretty sure she wasn’t seeing you, but some canine version she had of you. Still—you were okay with it because you figure you got a ton of cardio out of it, and great sex afterward.

You drew the line at wearing the leather dog mask. A gift for your birthday. A joke, she insisted. But your lack of enthusiasm for it really disappointed her. Moped like a whipped puppy the whole day.

There were lots of times you wished you could have a dog in the apartment. Keep her occupied. Something big. With lots of energy.

Like werewolves. Now that you think about it. They have lots of energy. But who in their right mind would try domesticating a werewolf? People with money, like the guy said.

Today would have been a good day for something big and energetic. You wore yourself out running through a foot of new snow, wet up to your ass, your muscles aching. Still. The idea of the fireplace, a Jackie D on the rocks, and a blowjob back at the B&B kept you going. Enough to take one last throw.

She’d flung it wide, way out of your reach.

While it was still in the air, this—this—this beast comes running out of the woods, howling. It leapt, making this writhing, spinning catch, biting the frisbee right out of the air.

It landed, giving the frisbee a worrying shake, growling as it chewed up the plastic disk. Then it stopped and looked toward the tree line, its ears flicked forward, searching out a sound. It twisted away to run, the frisbee still in its teeth.

There was an enormous bang. The beast stumbled and fell forward, catching itself on its forepaws and knees. It held itself like that for a moment, coughed out a gout of blood, the frisbee falling from its jaws. Drooling blood, it pitched forward, face down in the snow, a large hole in its back.

From the tree line, a guy with a rifle came running, shouting at you to stay back, stay back, don’t touch it.

He wore a white medical smock over blue scrubs, looking nothing like a hunter.

You and Esmé stared at the creature lying there.

Definitely canine. Big. Bipedal. You didn’t go immediately to werewolf because there was no such thing loose in the world. Right?

The guy with the gun reached you, exhausted, doubling over, breathing hard. He asked if either of you got bit or scratched anywhere, anywhere at all.

You said no, and when Esmé didn’t answer, you touched her arm and said, “Babe?”

Esmé shivered herself out of whatever it was she was thinking, then shook her head.

Good, he said, because I can’t waste the silver bullets and I’d hate having to club you to death. But he laughed like he was kidding. Kind of.

What the hell is that thing, you asked.

Werewolf, he said. Got loose. Chased it for a couple miles. Good thing it went after your frisbee. Loves to fetch. I taught him that.

You can’t teach a werewolf to fetch, said Esmé.

Sure you can. Show them a stick or a ball and instinct takes over. Most people don’t bother.

Where’d he come from, you asked.

Back at the institute. They call themselves that, but it’s a glorified puppy farm.

Raising werewolves?

Oh, yeah. People pay a ton of money for one. Keep back, he said to her as she reached down to touch its silver silken coat.

They’re super smart and he could be faking. They may be farm-raised but they’re wily as shit and just as dangerous.

Come on, you said, werewolves? Really? You looked over to Esmé, expecting the same snarky smirk from her.

Instead, she seemed brain-sucked by the specimen dead on the ground there.

Is it real, she asked.

Of course it’s real, he said.

But there’s no such thing, you said, more to her than to the guy with the gun.

That’s what you’re supposed to think.

They’re—mythical, said Esmé, still brain-sucked. Aren’t they?

Genetic engineering. Been going on for years. Not all that successful, I might add.

How can you keep something like this secret? She continued to stare down at the dead beast.

Best media manipulation money can buy. Keeps it out of the newspapers and stuck away in graphic novels, horror movies, and conspiracy podcasts. You’d be surprised how much you can hide with a little well-placed ridicule.

I’m looking right at it.

What’re you going say? You saw a guy in pajamas shoot a werewolf? He looked back toward the tree line. Which is not a bad shot from—what? 50, 60 yards, would you say?

I’ve lived around here most of my life, said Esmé. I’ve never heard of any such institute raising werewolves.

A couple miles back that way. They keep it locked up pretty tight. People with too much money and too little common sense. But, hey, it’s a living.

What’re they doing with them?

Domesticating them. Or trying to. Mostly for guard dogs, maybe a few for sex. Okay, mostly for sex. Honestly? It’s the only commercial use they have right now. They’re too unstable. You know when guys say don’t stick your dick in crazy? Goes double for werewolves.

You can’t domesticate werewolves, said Esmé.

Thank you, he said, thank you. A voice crying in the wilderness. But nobody listens to me. I’m just the hired help—a PhD in veterinary biologics from LMU Munich with a side-specialty in lycanthropy. Not to brag. Of course, you can’t put that on a resumé that anyone will take seriously. You don’t get work like this off a job board. Nothing listed on Monster about lycanthrop wranglers. Hey. That’s funny. Finding a job like this on Monster. Well, anyway, I got this one to play fetch when he wasn’t disemboweling sheep.

The vet unfolded a tarp from his waist pack.

I’ll miss him. I loved to hear him play the saxophone. Never had a lesson. Can you believe it? Still can’t predict what you’ll get crossbreeding like this. Musical talent. Who’d’ve guessed.

The guy laid the tarp out on the snow.

You reached out to grab it by the feet, to help him.

No! Don’t get any blood on you. Can’t be too careful.

You’ve got it on you.

Asafetida smoothies for breakfast, said the guy as he tumbled the corpse onto the tarp. Builds up the immunity. Gives me a terrible case of gas, though. But like I said, it’s a living.

He arranged the corpse.

Esmé twisted her head to check out the beast’s genitals.

Wow, she said.

I know, right?

You could see her mind working, so you offered to get the other end of the tarp and help him drag the corpse away.

No. It’s not far. I’ve got an ATV back in the trees. I tracked him into the open on foot to keep quiet. You should get off the mountain before the sun goes down.


The mate to this one’s still out here somewhere. Females aren’t as fast or as strong, but holy shit can they be vicious. Werewolves mate for life, unless the partner dies. Most people don’t get that. You know who really doesn’t get that? People trying to raise them for sex toys. Jealousy. That’s a trait you don’t breed out of them. Very territorial. Makes me laugh, thinking of Mrs. Werewolf in her curlers and nightgown, a skillet in her fist, waiting up for Mr. Werewolf to come sneaking in after a romp with Suzie Socialite. You gotta find the little things to laugh at with this job, or you’ll go crazy, you know?

Are they any good? she asked.

At what, you ask her, but you know exactly what.


Don’t know, he said. Don’t care to find out.

The vet took up the corners of the tarp and started dragging the corpse back toward the tree line.

Leave that to people who have gold-plated health insurance, he said, and a personal physician on speed dial. Don’t hang around here. Get off the mountain while you’ve still got a little daylight left.

You slogged out of the clearing and got into the car. You reached for the ignition. That’s when she held out the gnawed and bloody frisbee, giving you a mischievous smile. The kind of smile she puts on just before she riles up a kennel full of puppies.

You stared at it.

Who do we know, she asked, would make a good werewolf?

You remain frozen, your mind racing, one hand on the wheel the other on the ignition.

You’re not quite ready to believe what the guy back there said, but you do believe you saw something unnatural lying dead on the ground. You don’t want anything to do with that bloody frisbee.

Who do we know, she asked again, chewing on her lip.

What’re you supposed to say? What’re you supposed to do? What in hell’re you supposed to do?

Nothing. Nothing. Call the cops? Call the newspapers? Call an animal shelter? They’d all think you were nuts. Try to get the frisbee away from her? Esmé is not about to give up the dog of her dreams. You’d have to kill her. No one is going to believe your reason for doing it. They’d think you were nuts and put you in prison the rest of your life.

You still hadn’t moved, but you gave out with a small laugh, like she was being funny, your thoughts still flashing.

You could wait until you get back to the B&B, then slip away when she’s on the toilet or in the shower.

What if you do manage to slip away. She’s obsessive. You have no idea how jealous or territorial she might turn out to be. Would she go alpha dog on you, create a legion of werewolves and send them to hunt you down?

Still—you can’t help thinking you should try warning someone.

Then again—why should it be up to you? Why is it your problem just because you were playing fetch on a hilltop. It’s not.

You watch her as she stares into the distance, her mind a thousand miles away.

At least get the ring back. You’ll need the cash if you plan on disappearing. If you managed to slip away without her noticing.

No. You know what? Fuck it. She can keep the ring. Just leave.

But—you don’t know the first thing about living off the grid.

The wind sure sounds like a distraught hound crying for its mate.

You start the car and steer back onto the road, your foot heavy on the gas, the car accelerating to match your agitation.

Maybe you should resign yourself to it. Would it be so bad, a dog’s life? Playing fetch for the cardio and great sex? However long it is a werewolf might live?

Or you could drive into one of these trees along here and finish it for both of you.

You’re still accelerating. You’ll be off this twisting mountain road in no time.

The light’s fading and you’ve only got about eight miles left to make a decision.