Wordcount: 807 words
Summary: In which Zee stops to sniff the tree trunks until the urge to annoy his Alpha overcomes his common sense.
Here There Be Wolves
The drive into the Ghost Pack’s territory might have been unsettling but at least the day was pleasant enough, with a thin film of clouds cutting down on the sun’s late August heat. As a rule, werewolves didn’t do well in cars and Zee was no exception, although his Jeep, stripped down to the bare essentials was a little ‘car’ as he could manage. What it lacked in amenities it more than made up for in physical freedom. With the soft-top tucked away and the doors chucked in the back, it looked (and acted) more like a dune buggy than a car.
Thankfully the road was mostly empty, he’d only seen two other cars since the diner and those had both been going the opposite direction. The more traffic, the more the feeling that he was moving too fast snarled at the edges of his perception. On a normal drive he would have stopped every hour to give his nerves a rest and feel solid unmoving ground under his feet. Today it wasn’t as bad, but he was still glad of the excuse to pause every ten miles and take the time to get the feel of the woods.
Werewolf territory markings weren’t as crude as their less magical counterparts, but they were just as effective. He’d known as soon as he’d passed the edge of the local Alpha’s borders and he should feel it if (or when) he entered another pack’s territory. There was a certain texture to claimed territories, not so much a scent as a feeling of ‘mine.’ If there was another pack here, ghosts or not, he should pick up on their presence. But so far there was nothing.
The town of Rockfall wasn’t the only town -or even the first town- within the hundred mile stretch of road, but it was the first one Zee passed with a signs indicating it had both a gas station and a pay phone. Which was an apparent rarity in the area, if the towns so far had been any indication. The loss of payphones was a recent development, more annoying simply because he could remember when there hadn’t been any phones to begin with. In theory there were cell phone signals here, but his phone wasn’t on one of the lucky carriers.
Zee had planned on simply pulling the jeep off the road and roughing it for the night, but Donovan wanted daily check-ins and what Donovan wanted, Donovan got. But since his fearless leader hadn’t specified when, Zee was going to take the initiative and call him at three in the morning, or whatever ungodly time zone Donovan had scampered off to this time.
It wasn’t far after the exit for Rockfall that Zee spotted the battered Exxon sign and he pulled into the gas station with something akin to glee.
The glee was short-lived, because apparently what ever time it was (or wasn’t), his Alpha was also not in a cell phone service area. So he settled for leaving a two word message (“I’m Alive”) and thinking rude thoughts. He was actually pretty good at rude thoughts, when he put his mind to it.
There was gas at the Shell station, but no food and his stomach reminded him of how long it had been since the ham sandwich. He eyed the local grocery store with little enthusiasm. He was a lousy cook when it came to campfires and woodsmoke, but he could make do on canned foods if necessary. Pork and beans, for all it tasted of ‘can’ and not ‘beans’, was an acceptable substitute for hamburgers. Spam only slightly less so, assuming he didn’t have to eat it raw. There were some things even werewolves wouldn’t stomach voluntarily.
If the seasons had been right he would have simply hunted his own dinner in the hills, but most of the deer population were gearing up for war and he had no real desire to fight a full rack of antlers as well as hooves. He might heal as fast as they could hurt him, but they could still hurt him.
Thankfully there was a restaurant of sorts around the corner from the art studios, which was only a slightly confusing set of directions down from the gas station. The town was in the habit of naming their roads literally, so he followed Highway Road until he hit Studio Road and he was pretty much set. It might have made him a little more enthusiastic about the possibility of food if the Studio Road hadn’t been nine-tenths gravel and one-tenth pothole. In theory the town wanted tourists to visit -if the signs extolling the virtues of their artists were anything to go by- but he was beginning to wonder how many every actually made it to the galleries, much less the food.