The Brawler

The address that Dom texted me was in Lower Manhattan specifically Tribecca. It was almost as far from my home as I could get. And it was a several hour walk, so I decided to take the train instead. It was dark by the time I stepped off the train and into the night air. There was a faint scent of forest on the air, and the moon was no where to be seen even though the clouds stayed away. The air was cold and I wished for a warm jacket, but I’d forgotten to take one with me when I left the house that morning.

I could swear I heard the howling of wolves in the distance and wondered if it was a trick of my mind or actually the wolves howling into the night. Did werewolves howl? But the people around me didn’t seem to notice so I figured it was a trick of the mind. No howling wolves in the middle of New York City.

The place I went to looked run down, and it looked like one of those things you’d see in the movies with the metal door with a sliding peep hole. I knocked. The metal window slid open in the door and the pair of golden eyes that looked out were more wolf than not. He looked me over and then slide the window closed. 

I heard movement on the other side of the door and it opened seconds later. “Dom was wondering if you were going to flake again.”

“I had a rough night last night – sorry.” I said. It was the truth, I didn’t think I needed to mention the fact that I had forgotten too. It was Saturday night and I was in the middle of a pack of werewolves. I could smell the forest with in, but the only thing I saw was concrete and metal. Even the sheetrock was gone. Only the metal and concrete remained. 

High beams rose from the floor. Some of them bent at awkward angles only to be supported by another beam screwed and welded into place. There was a loud crowd farther in. Their howling and growling reverberated in my bones. I swore I felt the power of something humming through my veins.

I followed the empty corridor to the ring. It wasn’t really a ring, just a crowd of people who circled a pair fighting in the middle. They were both bloodied, one man had claws for hands, and the other’s snout was that of a wolf disfiguring his features but still oddly human.

The crowd parted as I worked my way to the front. No one looked at me, or said anything they just moved – parted like the red sea. A quick glance behind me and the sea had fallen closed as I passed through. I had a clear shot to the man sitting in a chair – the only man sitting in a chair I noticed. Their leader. I stood next to him. “I promised I’d make it this time.”

He didn’t look up. “I expected no less.” The fight continued on, and I watched in near horror as they bit and clawed at each other until one of them fell. A man came out raising the paw of the winner and the other man’s friends helped him off the floor. And still another cleaned up the blood. Dom looked at me, “Still up for a fight?”

I shrugged, “I guess. But I don’t fancy dying.”

“You won’t. We have strict rules.”

“He’s going to be alright?” I asked.

“He’s a werewolf. He’ll heal.” He looked up at me. “You aren’t, so we’ll make it to first blood.”

I only sorta nodded and wondered why I had ever agreed to this. I wasn’t a fighter. And yet I knew that was a lie. I took a deep breathe and put one foot in front of the other and made my way to the ring. Dom stood up when I took the first step. “Tonight, we have a treat. A man who bested three of our own. But he’s not one of us, to first blood. Who will challenge him?”

There was about ten wolves who stepped out of the shadows. All of them bigger than the next, and all three times my size. I looked back at Dom and he smirked. I was so fucked.

“One at a time, let him choose.”

I laughed, “You want me to choose the guy I want to kick the shit out of me?”

Dom smiled, “It’s fair. They all want a shot at you since you hurt their friends.”

“They pushed me down fucking stairs,” I growled.

“And here you are all better.” Dom laughed, “They just want their revenge. You must too.”

I sighed and shook my head and pointed at the biggest of the men. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no bell, no indication at all that the match had started – only the blur of motion of the werewolf before he was on top of me. His fingers extended into claws and he had me pinned to the ground. 

There was a bell and three men were pulling him off of me. “Jared that is no way to treat our guest. Play right or you’ll find yourself at the end come this full moon.”

I had no idea what that meant as I stood up. No one bothered to help me. “We play by civilized rules, even in an uncivilized manner. But still I didn’t say go.” Dom said looking mostly at me.

That was good to know.

I took up stance and I waited for the word to move. The big man stared back at me, his tan skin made the snarl on his face look meaner. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth and I knew I was dead. It may be to first blood, but I knew it would go farther than that.