Chapter 02

Colin spent the following week drowning in regret and wishing to turn back time. Loneliness was uglier than ever before: he had no other trick up his sleeve to make new friends. He could talk to human beings, of course, but was too scared to get much involved with any of them for his protection. And there he goes, he blows the only chance of getting real friends into his life by that stupid performance. He still shuddered at the thought of dozens of mostly vampire faces staring at him. He should not have been so sincere in his criticism towards Harry, then he might have avoided the silly karaoke contest. Well, at least Harry won.

When the doorbell rang, he jerked with surprise so violently that he spilled a greater part of the tea he was drinking over his shirt and trousers. He doubted anyone at all knew where he lived. Well, maybe the authorities, but they had no reason to care.

He went to the door and opened it hesitantly.

“How did you find me?” he asked the visitor when he recognised him.

“Witches helped me,” Harry shrugged. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have. I’d never think a werewolf would live in Silverknowes.Defiancein everything you do, right?”

“So they told you what I was, too, did they?”

“Is that a problem?”

“No, not really. Wanna come in?”

“Sure.”

A minute later they found themselves in the kitchen.

“It’s rubbish about the silver, you know,” Colin told him, while he searched the cupboard for a mug.

“And to prove it, you’re staying in Silverknowes and on top of that you wear a silver earring in your nose, right?” Harry guessed.

“I don’t know if that’s silver. What can I get you?”

Harry made an indecisive gesture. “Blood?”

“You’d have to have mine. And I don’t need you to tell me you don’t want that.”

“Ok. Tea?”

Colin placed a mug and a teabag in front of him, switched on the kettle and then said: “I’ve been a little clumsy, as you might have noticed. I’ll go get changed.”

He returned in five minutes and the two of them sat down in the living room.

“So… what’s the point in looking for me, anyway?” Colin started.

“Your voice.”

“You’re not telling me you…”

“… want you for the band? Absolutely,” Harry nodded.

“I can’t,” Colin shook his head immediately.

“Why?” Harry demanded. “Everyone loved you!”

“They stared at me!”

“Yeah, because they were stunned by your brilliant performance!”

Colin opened his mouth to protest, then shut it again and remained silent for a while.

“Colin, please…” Harry begged him. Colin looked up in his eyes, and noticed they were desperate.

“Harry,” he spoke softly, “you weren’t so bad yourself. I shouldn’t steal your position in that band.”

“I don’t care about any position. I want the band to be good, and it won’t be good without a proper singer. I haven’t been able to sing publicly since I heard you.”

“Stop it!”

Colin stood up and took a few nervous paces around the room. “I don’t want to be anyone’s god. Stop treating me like one.”

“I know how you feel,” Harry spoke after a while, his voice merely a whisper. “I used to be like that… a few years back. I was so cautious about everything, preferring loneliness to a possibility of betrayal. But we don’t have to live like that, you know. I’ve become a thief – I steal blood from the hospital – but can still live a good life, thanks to all the friends I now have. Why should you want to go on with this lonely life, when there’s such a chance?”

Colin sank into an armchair, suddenly looking exhausted.

“I’m scared,” he said quietly.

“You’ll be ok. We’ll take care of you, I promise. I mean you’re just a werewolf, you don’t need any blood from us…”

Colin suddenly smiled, but said nothing.

“Come on…” Harry tried again.

“Ok,” Colin finally nodded.

“So, what’s your story, anyway?” Harry went on after settling the main reason for his visit.

“What do you want to hear?”

“Anything…”

“Ok. My name’s Nicholas Ferguson, I’m twenty-four and a werewolf orphan. My parents were American, but I was raised somewhere else – and can’t remember where it was. The weird thing about this is that I actually can understand the language of the country, I might even be able to speak it, only I don’t know which one it is. Anyway, when I was eight, we moved to theUK, mostly stayed inEngland, and then my parents died in a car crash, I was 14 and a half. They put me in this foster family who had four other kids in their care already, and of course no one knew and no one had to know what I was. It was pretty hard to sneak out of the house each month, so I sometimes had to change in the bathroom… I learned to keep my transformations as quiet as possible, though I did sometimes think of taking revenge on the two foster brothers who’d bully me the first few weeks, but there had always been people around me who taught me this is an evil way of solving one’s problems. I doubt I’d be able to enjoy the feeling, anyway.”

“I know you wouldn’t,” said Harry, and Colin smiled.

“This situation made me hate schools, though. I wouldn’t make it if I wanted to go on studying. I left at 18 and since then I’ve just somehow taken care of myself. Sometimes I’ll sneak into a shop and buy a clever book, but mostly I’m just busy hiding myself…

I came here in April, and I think I may just stay a bit longer than any place else. I like it here. Only it’s so damn cold when you cringe under a bush when you become the animal…”

“They have special rooms for that on the floor above the pub. Most of your kind like to go there in winter,” Harry informed him.

“My parents… They never became savage when they transformed… and as far as I can remember, I haven’t hurt anyone either. I wonder if the others…”

Harry shrugged. “I think some of them do become violent. But those rooms are enchanted, they can’t harm anyone.”

“It’s not fair,” sighed Colin and his companion understood he meant the whole idea of being a not-totally-human creature.

“No, it’s not. But easy life spoils you. Complications develop character.”

“I’m not so sure about that, Harry,” Colin shook his head uncertainly.

“Do you miss your parents?”

“No. They gave me something too selfish and arrogant they had in them… Haven’t been able to get rid of it. You saw that, didn’t you?”

“You mean the criticism you offered us? It was honest.”

“Yeah, and arrogant.”

“You can’t avoid it, Colin. You have too many qualities that require a certain amount of arrogance. Your bravery, your honesty, your faith… They’re all honourable, but they have a dark side to them, too.”

“That doesn’t help, you know.”

“I’m not sure I should be the one to reassure you. Ask me in a few months, and I will tell you who you are.”

Again, somewhat unexpectedly, Colin’s lips formed a smile.

“You can tell me something else.”

“What?”

“Do you make friends with human beings?”

“Not really.”

“I’m sorry,” said Colin suddenly. “My suffering is nothing compared to yours. I just have to hide, you also have to steal.”

“Like you said, it’s not fair,” Harry shrugged. “But you know what, the witches are trying their best to help us. They’re not far from developing this device for making artificial blood… It would be wonderful not to have to steal it and dread the moment you get caught.”

“You’ll definitely have to tell me how the not-totally-human world works one day. But now, let’s concentrate on the music, shall we?” Colin changed the topic, not wanting to talk about such depressing things too much. “What’re you called? I mean what’re we called?”

“Well, we kinda got stuck on Some Monsters. It used to be SMPDM… meaning Some Monsters Playing Death Metal. But then we realised we weren’t actually, so we dropped it. Pity, because I liked the acronym.”

“So do I,” Colin nodded. “Well, what if we keep it and don’t tell anyone what it means?”

“We might as well do that,” Harry thought. “With so many bands today not having a proper meaningful name, I guess one more can’t hurt, can it?”

“No, I guess not.”

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