We have ideas that sit in development hell for years. I think around ten years ago, I had another idea for a post-apocalyptic drama. It felt like a good idea at the time but after writing a brief prologue I did nothing else with it. The novel (if it ever gets started let along complete) is set hundreds of years into the future, perhaps as many as 1000 in a kind of Anglo-Saxon / Viking world… full of werewolves. Humans are extinct after a disease in the modern era wipes most of us out and a resurgent werewolf population eventually kills off the rest.
I am very conscious of the fact that the template is incredibly similar to my complete novel (nuclear war leads to medieval world) which is probably why I have left it untouched in so long. Anyway, here is a brief snippet from this project that I might never do anything with.
The man seemed to take a few seconds to comprehend why two amber eyes were peering at him out of the darkness.
‘Oh it’s a dog. A fuck-king do-dog! Stupid mutt.’ And he started to laugh.
Silverpaw growled at the insult.
The man crouched, almost falling over again and held out his hand. ‘Come here boy.’
Silverpaw edged back.
‘I won’t hurt you.’ But his eyes revealed the lie. This man would do to Silverpaw just what the human species had done to his people for generations. He would wear the fur to keep warm, eat the flesh and use the bones to brag his hunting prowess.
Silverpaw allowed the man to touch his muzzle but curled his lip slightly, growling again.
‘Come here, you look as if you’re eating well. Big strong dogs know how to hunt; you want to bring me some food boy? We can be best of friends.’ The human’s free arm quickly slipped around Silverpaw’s neck but Silverpaw anticipated and slipped out of the lock. Before the human had realised what was happening, Silverpaw sank his teeth into the human’s wrist and tore off his hand.
The human screamed in angry and clambered to his feet, staggering down the hill as he went. He didn’t get far before Silverpaw knocked the man back to the ground and sank his razor sharp claws into the human’s back. The second bite and the human fell silent.
Silverpaw feasted on as much as he could eat but there was still plenty of flesh. Satisfied, he found a quiet spot beneath a tree, lay down on the floor, made himself comfortable and waited for the inevitable. He began a chant that would ease the pain, he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t enjoy doing it but at his age, it was important that he did it as often as possible to prevent problems in later life.
His fur shrank back into the follicles until most of his body was bare. His proud muzzle shortened quickly, eventually disappearing as his teeth retracted into his skull. The two forelimbs changed form, paws grew larger and longer while the back legs became fleshier and longer; his tail disappeared. Silverpaw continued to lay on the floor, accepting the pain as his whole body structure altered, his pulse racing and breath escalating.
Soon the pain subsided and Silverpaw stood, taking in another dose of cold, winter air. Now he could really feel the cold against his naked flesh. He didn’t really enjoy being in human form, sometimes he even despised the idea that his people looked like them, the virus, the disease that almost wiped them out. But the older ones accepted it and in time, Silverpaw was sure that he too would accept it. Lifting the human carcass onto his shoulder, Silverpaw began the short walk to the den. Tonight his pack would feast and never again worry about whether tonight would be their last.