Salutations, shape-shifters! Last year we tackled filmdom's most beautiful bloodsuckersand this year we're camping out in the woods and hoping to catch a glimpse of some supernatural, bestial monsters that devour the unwary, defy the laws of nature, and prefer to come out only when the moon is full.
All they knew was where it came from on that terrible April day, right at the start of spring, and what it did. A forest fire or wildfire may seem to come out of nowhere, but it always has a cause. Sometimes it is nature, by way of a cruel bolt of lightning striking a log or a part of a broken tree that happens to be just dry enough to spark and ignite. But more often than not, it is the result of careless, mischievous, or deliberate human action: someone tossing a cigarette or a lit match into the brush, heedless of the consequences; or someone not putting out a campfire well enough and leaving smoldering embers in his wake.
Naked male werewolf caused the fire would be discussed and argued in Reynolds Hollow for years, with most people coming down on the side of reckless, unthinking humans having started the blaze. This was their way of absolving human beings of any responsibility for a disaster that was beyond human control. It was always the way of some humans to shift responsibility for misfortunes onto someone or something else. There were those in Reynolds Hollow who did not take kindly to that kind of thinking, for they knew exactly the kinds of things that humans had always been responsible for, all through history.
That was why they had come to live in Reynolds Hollow in the first place.
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And that was why certain subjects were not brought up in certain company, or at least when they were, it was with the greatest care and tact. This prevented people from losing their temper and perhaps becoming too angry to consider the consequences of their actions. And that was what kept the people safe—except from things like this. Reynolds Hollow lay in a valley between mountains on the east and on the west. It was from the mountains of the west that the fire came. It was a gigantic, crackling, burning monster of orange flames and grey-black smoke that moved as if with a mind and will of its own, descending the mountainside and devouring everything in its path like a colossal amoeba of ravenous flames.
Trees and undergrowth disappeared into it, and mighty cliffs of smoke rose billowing into the air behind it. The thing rolled its burning way down the slopes, Naked male werewolf anyone who saw it might well have thought it had a mind of its own, the way it bore directly for the town nestled at the bottom of the valley. It was like a creature out of a Hollywood movie, hungry for everything it could consume, with a limitless appetite. The people of Reynolds Hollow fled their homes and businesses and took to the ro and, if they could, the stream at the approach of the beast of fire.
It was to the credit of the local firefighters and those of the nearest communities outside the valley that the worst-hit areas of the town were those at the western outskirts of the town. At that end of Reynolds Hollow, the damage was terrible. Some homes there were completely gone; others would have to be torn down and completely rebuilt. Some businesses were simply burned away or would remain vacant for Naked male werewolf long time. There was a segment of the population that was now completely displaced, living in shelters and tents or temporarily relocated to the homes of their neighbors.
The school gymnasium was converted to a makeshift shelter to accommodate some of them in the evenings after school hours, and similar provisions were made in the basements of some of the churches and the Town Hall. Some of the displaced were talking about leaving Reynolds Hollow and starting over someplace else.
The Mayor and Town Council were quick to appeal to the state for relief funds, but how much the little community would receive to get back on its feet was in doubt. Any other ificant damage to the town was sparse and scattered, and mainly the result of sparks and embers that flew off the larger fire and settled on trees and rooftops beyond the main blaze where the firefighters concentrated their efforts. Some homes further into the town suffered damage, requiring sections of them to be covered over in plastic and tarpaulins, or be taken down and hauled away while awaiting repairs.
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These places were still mostly livable, their residents frightened, stressed both emotionally and financially, but thankfully, not completely displaced. One such home was that of Crystal Shaw, a young girl just turning eighteen. By any measure or standard one cared to apply, Crystal was a beauty.
She was a honey-blonde with brilliant blue eyes and an equally brilliant smile. Her parents owned a tavern in a part of town that mercifully had escaped the fire, thus her family was not as hard hit as some. Crystal was popular.
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She belonged to a book club at school and was a member of the Varsity track team. She was long-limbed but not lanky, with curves in exactly the right places. She had a bosom, but not large and heaving breasts. She had always loved to run ever since she was small. Her parents sometimes teased her that she was running the day after she took her first step, which she knew was an exaggeration, but it felt as if it could be true.
That was one of the things that had made her so good in Phys.
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Ed classes, and had at one time made her consider going out for track and field. Crystal was also good in school, a curious sort of girl whose favorite subjects were English and History. She had applied for scholarships and had it in Naked male werewolf to go to school out of town after she graduated. She thought perhaps she would even broaden her horizons and the track team in college. She wanted to see bigger cities and different kinds of people, people unlike the ones she knew in Reynolds Hollow.
She wanted to know the world outside her home, to see it, smell it and taste it. Her good academics, she hoped, would carry her out there and give her a chance to experience what the world was. Delaying school for a year would give the family a chance to get back on its feet and handle whatever school expenses financial aid and a scholarship did not pay for.
Crystal, knowing how fortunate she was in comparison with some people in town, decided to make the best of it.
The sorrowful sight of Naked male werewolf scorched and blackened mountainside to the west, like a gigantic scar rising up on that side of town with its slopes of fallen and blackened trees, was in stark contrast to the way things looked Naked male werewolf the east. On the other side of the valley, everything had broken out in shades of green with splashes of other colors where the flowers bloomed. It was almost like the difference between day on the side where the sun rose and night on the side where it set. Except for the vista of death on the charred western mountainside, nature was waking up from its long winter sleep.
She had opted to put some of her non-class time into volunteer work, helping with serving meals and distributing clothing and supplies to displaced residents. One day after she finished a couple of hours of volunteering at the Town Hall, Crystal stepped out onto Ryan Avenue, the Main Street of town. For the first time since the fire, she was aware of how bright the late afternoon sunshine was now the days were getting longer, and the springtime air did not smell of smoke. She realized she had not gone out for a run since the fire struck. Smiling, she ran home with long strides, her muscles singing with how good it felt to be used that way again.
And there was one more thing that would make them feel even better. Arriving home, Crystal took her backpack from her bedroom and sped out the back door past her mother, who was busy preparing dinner and told her not to be too long. At once, she was in the backyard and did not bother to look behind her and up at the section of the roof that was blackened at the edges and covered over in plastic and duct tape and tarpaulins to stop the rain getting into the attic and leaking into the rest of the house.
She had no time for depressing sights now. Before dinner that day she felt would work up an appetite by indulging in something she had been doing much too little lately.
She bolted from the backyard and through the field on the other side of it, making for the edge of the forest of the eastern mountains beyond. With every bound she Naked male werewolf, her heart leaped in time. Soon she was in the forest, drinking in its smell and relishing the cool shade of the blooming trees. Crystal paused at one tree at the bottom of a hill from whose other side she could hear the rush and babble of water.
She hung her backpack on a branch that some stiff gale had conveniently snapped, and began to strip off her clothes and stuff them into the backpack, making her lean and taut eighteen-year-old girl body naked to the cooling spring air. She carefully zipped up the pack and turned on the heel of one bare foot to face the hillside. Her skin flushed and goose-pimpled slightly.
This was only the beginning of her change. The locks of honey-blonde hair that rolled halfway down her back, which she would put up when she was competing, disappeared, and her entire nude body broke out into thick brown and grey fur. Her limbs, shoulders, and back changed form, and she turned from a creature of two legs to a creature of four. Her hands and feet became large, padded paws.
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She sprouted a tail, and her human head morphed to that of a large and powerful canine. Thus, rendered from human to wolf, Crystal was ready to give herself a real and proper run. With an enthusiastic snuffle from her wolf snout, Crystal took off up the hill, her long furry legs carrying her up the incline as fast as a Naked male werewolf breeze.
As much as she loved to run in her human form, it was running this way that filled her with a joy that only a wolf in the embrace of nature could feel. She reached the summit of the hill and started to bound along the hilltop, racing with the rushing water of the stream at the bottom of the other side.
Her fanged mouth hung open, and her wolf tongue lolled slightly out. This was the perfect day for a run, and it was exactly what Crystal needed. She picked up her pace, running faster than the water, and began to race and bound her way down the other side of the hill towards the gravelly bed of the stream, her paws beating exuberantly on the ground.
In seconds, she was down the hill and taking full, sinewy strides along the edge of the stream, filling her nose and all her senses with awakened nature. It was then that she sensed, and saw, that she was not alone.
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Further down the stream in the direction she was running, in the shallow part of the stream, there was a shape. Crystal slowed down, sniffing the air and training her eyes on the shape wading in the stream. It was bigger than she was, and covered with charcoal-grey and black fur.
She came to a walking gait, studying the figure that turned around, sensing her as she had sensed it. This was another wolf and, from the scent of him, definitely another were wolf. She could distinctly pick up the morphing hormones from him—yes, him. This was a male. The grey-black werewolf watched Crystal through amber eyes that looked shocking, set into his dark shape.
She came to a stop, strangely riveted by the sight of him.