* * * Amy’s POV * * *
* * * four years ago * * *
I open my eyes to the dim lighting that is permanent here; I look around the room. Walls are painted white, there’s a series of tiny windows with bars inside and out (They let in no light even during the day, making it hard to tell the time), there’s a metal toilet in the corner, and a metal sink, and my white wrought iron bed. This is my room. I’m not allowed belongings here; they fear that I can make a weapon out of them. This is the institution for the mentally ill. Every day is the same, wake up, shower, have breakfast, exercise, lunch, classes for basic knowledge, dinner, therapy classes, supper, and bed. Always the same.
It’s mind-numbing, tedious, and frustrating here.
This is the Mountain Shadow Pack; the pack is located in Wales within the United Kingdom. The mountain is Glyder Fawr, within Snowdonia National Park. Its highest peak is 1000m. The pack is situated within a valley with a lake. It is a beautiful place, majestic even. I often find myself daydreaming about walking and running through the National Park.
I look at the metal door and notice the observation panels within the window are open. Nurse Winters is peering through.
Today’s my assessment day, I think. The day the doctor asks me about my life, my dreams, who I am and why I’m here. Today my dreams are not real. Today I’m working towards leaving the institution.
The frustrating part is that I don’t know who I really am; I don’t know about my life before the Mountain Shadow pack. No matter how hard I try, I’m unable to recall a single detail of my life before. I dream that I’m the Daughter of a ranked wolf and a leader, and this is where my problems began. They think I have a disillusioned sense of self-worth and that I could be problematic to the pack if they do not fix my crazy.
I wave to Nurse Winters, making my iron and silver bracelet jingle - bracelet my arse, it is a chain. It’s designed to prevent accidental/intentional shifting due to the silver embedded within the iron. Every time I think of them using silver against their own kind, I can feel my anger rising. I find it a despicable and deplorable act. All wolves, no, all creatures, deserve to be treated with respect.
Nurse Winters taps the observation panel three times, indicating she’s going to enter the room. I nod to her and sit up on my bed. The other patients here don’t particularly like her. But I’ve warmed to her at the pack over the last six years. She has a no-nonsense approach and is very motherly (when there is nobody else around, she reserves that side for me). She wears her raven hair in a high bun. Her face is rather stern, but the laughter lines that frame her orange eyes show that she is quick to laugh. It must be just here she does not smile. She wears the standard grey nurse’s uniform. Dark grey pants with a light grey tunic with the institute’s name embroidered 'St James’ Institution'. “Good morning, Amy; I trust you slept well,” she says as a way of greeting, her standard morning greeting.
“Yes, Nurse Winters. I missed you over the weekend.” I tell her honestly. The other Nurses only bark instructions at me. I’m treated as a lesser creature. Something they stood in—a lousy aftertaste. I can honestly say I hate them. If I had a wolf and were not wearing silver, I would shift and end them for the cruelty they show, especially the other patients who genuinely need help.
“Well, I would rather have been here between you and me. I moved house and, well, moving house is no fun” she winks like she’s sharing a secret.
“I think you are lying; you must like it. It is the second move this year,” I laugh.
“Dear, are you keeping tabs on me?” she chuckles.
“No offence meant, Nurse Winters; life here is boring, monotonous. It gives me hope for a normal life by hearing what you do”, I say honestly. If it were not for Nurse Winters' conversation, I would have lost my sanity over the years; the only time the Nurses speak to patients is to bark instructions, belittle patients or during therapy classes.
“Honestly, dear, how many times must I ask you to call me Dotty? I have looked after you since you were six years old,” she chastises me, then pauses, “Well, my dear husband Walt has been promoted to gamma, so we now must live in the pack house with the other ranked wolves. We had to move quickly as the Alpha doesn’t wait”, Dotty explains, while telling me about her move, the shopping and decorating.
Dotty worked in the pack hospital before being transferred to the institute. She was the head Nurse when I was brought to the Mountain Shadow pack. I was, in fact, almost nine years old when I arrived, but I was small for my age and told them I was six years old when they found me; for some reason, I had rehearsed, ‘My name is Amy. I am six years old over and over again. Why I can’t say. I remember nothing. It’s like my memory was wiped. I remember being so scared and covered in dirt and mud, after the men found me, and then she knelt and asked me if she could be my Nurse and if she could make sure I was healthy. Something told me to trust her, so I did. And now, she is my psychiatric Nurse. I jiggle my head to shake away the memories I can recall.
“Congratulations, Dotty. Many wolves dream of being a part of the ranked circle...” I pause, noticing she doesn’t seem happy about it “So what order are we doing things in today? Shower, breakfast, and exercise?” I ask to take away her sadness.
“s**t”, she curses, making me laugh. “It is not funny, Amy; you have a busy day. Shower, breakfast and then we are meeting with Doc for your assessment in 45 minutes. Hop to Madam, come on”. Dotty now appears flustered.
I don’t want to get Dotty in trouble, so I quickly follow her to the shower room. I quickly wash my body and hair while Dotty hums a song to herself. I find it soothing; her tune is familiar to me, although I don’t know the song. I turn off the water, began to dry myself, and dress in the uniform white clothing that the patients have to wear. Dotty braids my hair, and then I walk to the mirror. I stare at my reflection. I’m slim but muscular, my complexion creamy, my hair a chestnut brown that reaches the middle of my back even braided.
My eyes are emerald green, which is unusual for a werewolf. Most wolves have brown or amber eyes. Occasionally they are blue.
"There is just one thing missing," Dotty tells me; I look at her, confused. I’m fully ready according to the institute rules. She waves a tube at me. "Every young she-wolf deserves to feel pretty", she adds.
Ahh, Mascara, I’m fortunate Dotty is my Nurse. She nurtured me through my female development and explained what was happening to my body. I let Dotty apply the mascara and again check my reflection; the difference is striking. My emerald green eyes are now popping and standing out. Yes, I am ready for the Doc and the assessment. "Let's do this," I say to Dotty.
We walk through the institute corridors; Doc is located at the far end of the facility, away from the patients that he is to care for.
"Remember, Amy, we need to maintain formalities when we see the other staff, so it will be Nurse Winters until we get back to our wing. The Doc will be asking what led you to be admitted, what your dreams consist of, your displayed behaviours and the reality of who you are, not who you think you are," Dotty informs me. We pause by the kitchen, and Dotty grabs me some toast to eat while we’re walking.
I nod dutifully to her, "Yes, Nurse Winters. I understand that my dreams manifested to hide a trauma I don’t remember. I’m an orphaned omega, and I’m lucky the Alpha and Luna saw fit to save me and provide me with a pack and a life," I reply in my practised response. I’ve been going over the expected answers since my last assessment. I have to make it real; I have to convince myself and them that this is what I believed, or I will forever be in the institute.
We arrive at Doc's assessment room, and Nurse Winters knocks on the door three times. "Come in", a deep gravelly voice instructs.
Nurse Winter's opens the door, "Good Morning Dr Shaw. I have brought Amy for her assessment as planned", she informs him.
"Ahh, yes. The meeting was planned for 09:00 Nurse Winter's. It is 09:15. You’re late. You know I don’t accept lateness, and what does she have on her face?" Dr Shaw sounds pissed.
"My apologies Dr Shaw, the water took a while to warm up", explains Nurse Winters. I notice she hasn’t answered about my face.
"So, make her shower in cold water; it is not an excuse for lateness, or perhaps do not apply makeup. This is an institute, not a fashion parade. Make-up is against the patient uniform policy, Nurse Winters, or have you forgotten?" he scolds her.
What a prick. Who does he think he is speaking to Dotty that way? Here’s the thing with Dr Shaw, he has an ego complex, believing he’s important because of his role. He’s an older man, maybe 60 years old; it’s hard to tell with wolves as they age slower than humans. He’s roughly 5foot 11 inches. A slim build. He has the typical amber eye colour but only one eye.
He's not a real doctor; the rumour is he flunked medical school. However, he’s the only wolf in the pack with any type of doctor training, which is why he received his position. And his missing eye is said to be caused by a patient. He’s mean and cruel and takes immense pleasure in tormenting the patients. If I were in charge, he would be held accountable, judged by a group of his peers, and sentenced to death.
"My apologies Dr Shaw; she is a young she-wolf and has never had a female presence in her life. I overstepped the line; it will not happen again."
"You may leave", he instructs. "Amy, take a seat", he commands me.
He waits for Nurse Winters to leave. "Amy, you’ve been here for almost five years; the Nurses report improvements over the last two years, even more, significant improvements since our last assessment. They inform me that you’ve been actively taking part in therapy classes and working hard to improve your mental health. This is good news". He pauses to take a drink from a cup on his desk. "How long have you been with the pack? Where did you come from? have your therapy sessions helped you remember who you are?" he asks, bombarding me with the questions.
What was with this guy? The same questions, never time to ask one at a time.
"I came to the Mountain Shadow pack when I was six years old, the warriors found me, and Alpha James and Luna Louise were gracious enough to save my life and welcome me into the pack. I’ve been with the pack for six years. I don’t know where I came from, although the therapy sessions have helped me vaguely remember some kind of pack war, the packs at war I don’t know." I answer him.
"What led to you being admitted to the institute?"
"When I arrived, I was unwell; I was closed off. I began to have dreams, and I believed them to be memories. This caused me to act out against the pack members. I was lucky that Alpha James saw fit to treat my ill health. Through therapy, I now understand that these dreams manifested to hide the trauma of the pack war that I still cannot fully recall," I give my rehearsed speech.
"What do your dreams consist of?" he asks. This is the question he’s never had an answer to. I usually tell him to mind his own business or 'What is the point? That's the reason I’m locked in here.
Today I answer him while editing the truth, "I dream I am a warrior Luna, but a special Luna. My father was an Alpha. That I’m here to protect the innocent and unite the wolves. But I realise that the dreams have, in fact, been showing me how I view Luna Louise for saving me from the horror of the pack war. How she shines to me," Pass me the bucket. She doesn’t shine; she’s rude and obnoxious.
"Poor child. I can’t begin to understand how seeing such destruction and horror would affect a young mind. But we’re on the right road to recovery. What do you hope to achieve when you eventually leave?"
"I would like to apologise to the Alpha and Luna for my past behaviour and actions. I would like to thank them for their support and care for me, a wolf they had no obligation to look after. I hope to show my gratitude; I can be a pack house worker wherever they need me to help. I hope one day I can repay them for the kindness they have shown me" Kindness, they beat me, ridiculed me, locked me away. And I don’t know why.
This answer seems to make Doc happy though. "Very well, child. I can see the improvements you’ve made. You’ll get to apologise to and thank the Alpha sooner than you think. I’m going to put in my report that you are advancing in your recovery and very shortly we won’t require you to live at the institute. You should be discharged in the next four months but attend here three times weekly to continue therapy."
Wow, I can’t believe the old man has bought this story. "Thank you, Dr Shaw, thank you so much. I’m eternally grateful for the care you have all given me here. I was lost and hopeless until you showed me the right path." I gush, trying not to overdo it. And thank you, Dotty, for helping me rehearse this story.
"That’s why we are here," he tells me, then presses his intercom, "Nurse Winters, you are required."
Nurse Winters enters the office, ready to escort me back to my wing. "Ohh, one more thing, Amy, how do you find the treatment from Nurse Winters?"
"Sir, Nurse Winters was the head Nurse who attended me on my arrival when I was six years old; she has been my Nurse for six years now. She has shown me kindness and forgiveness for my behaviours. She has led my recovery and made me well.”
"I see, I see. Six years is an exceptionally long time to be focused on one patient, wouldn't you agree. Perhaps that is why she saw fit to break the uniform policy and put on makeup for you. She forgets her place as a Nurse. This cannot be overlooked. You will be assigned a new Nurse, Amy, to finish your recovery. Nurse Winters, you will be transferred back to the pack hospital once you have escorted Amy to her room." Dr Shaw instructs.
"Wait, it was just mascara. It was an act of kindness," I plead while Nurse Winters says, "Sir, I have apologised for my actions. I’m the only qualified psychiatric Nurse this pack has. The only one qualified to support the patients."
"Then you should remember your place. This is not the first occasion you have shown this patient kindness and preferential treatment. I’ve already sought approval from the Alpha. You’re to escort Amy back to her room and then pack your things. You will be taken to the pack Hospital and given your new rota. As your mate is now a ranked member, you must maintain professional boundaries. This includes never speaking to or treating Amy again. Hopefully, this will teach you to remain professional" Dr Shaw smirks and adds, "Amy, do not let this slow your recovery".
Nurse Winters looks crestfallen, "This way, Amy. You will spend the rest of this morning in your room", she instructs as she prepares to walk me back to my room.
We walk in silence until we leave the Doc's wing. "Dotty, I’m so sorry. They can’t punish you because of this. What about the other patients who need a qualified Nurse?" I’m utterly devastated by the loss of my Nurse, the lady who has been the only one to show me genuine kindness.
"Hush, child. What’s done is done. Let’s walk back to your room and be quiet."
Dotty checks the corridor and shuts the door as we enter my room. "I don’t have much time, dear. I’m so sorry that I’ve gone along with this lie. I’ve tried to steer you to be fit for discharge. I’ve tried to keep you safe. Keep up with the rehearsed lines, and you’ll be free of the institute. Keep your head down when you are released until you get your wolf. I can’t save you without your wolf. You’ll become a pack cleaner, no doubt. There’s an unused garden behind the dungeon's building. That’s where we’ll meet on the full moon after your 18th birthday. You can do this. Keep your head down and keep rehearsing the lines. It's only three years, Amy."
"Dotty, I’m only 12 years old…" I begin.
"Nonsense, child. I know very well who you are and who your parents are. You are 15 years old; lucky that you are a late bloomer. I’ve tried to keep you safe. I’ve failed you. Promise me, Amy, to keep your head down until the first full moon after your 18th birthday. Meet me in the garden".
I’ve no reason to disbelieve her; she’s the only person to show me kindness. But who is she if she knows me? "I promise, Dotty, I will keep my head down and meet you. But who are you?”
"I am your aunt, my child; my half-sister was your mother; nobody knows this. Your Grandmother and my Father were second-chance mates. You’re from a special bloodline. Your dreams are not manifested from the pack war. You dream visions of your past and your future. We’ll escape together once you have your wolf," Dotty tells me, and with that, she leaves my room and locks the door.
One week later, my new Nurse, Nurse Wilson, raps on my door and walks in, “Come on. Up. You need to shower and dress”. This is his usual greeting.
I remain silent and follow him to the shower room. I shower, dry and dress in silence. Feeling awkward with the way he watches me. I tie my hair up into a bun. There’s no time to check if it’s tidy in the mirror; as soon as I secure the band, Nurse Wilson barks, “Now come. We are meeting Dr Shaw.”
I walk the familiar corridors of the institute to the Docs office. I keep my head down. Nurse Wilson made it clear I was not to make eye contact with anyone.
I briefly mutter a “good morning” as we enter the Docs office. “Welcome, Amy. As you can see, we have Alpha James with us. He is here to discuss your discharge,” Dr Shaw informs me. He’s speaking more kindly than usual.
I briefly look up to see that Alpha James was, in fact, here, sitting behind the Docs office table. “Forgive me, Alpha. I didn’t know we would be meeting today. It’s a great honour that you’ve taken the time to meet me,” I say while baring my neck, a sign of submission when recognising your Alpha.
Only I don’t recognise him as my Alpha. I don’t feel compelled to submit. I must keep up the act.
“Wow, Doctor, you have truly outdone yourself. Is this the same she-wolf who was admitted? Amy, you look very well. I must apologise for your change of Nurses. You see, we can’t allow personal relationships when being treated. Nurse Winters was aware of this, and she will no longer have contact with you. This is to ensure you continue to recover as you transition into pack life,” Alpha James says.
“I understand, Alpha. Please forgive me for any wrongs I contributed to. I didn’t understand. But I wanted to thank you for allowing me to be treated.”
“Child. Your life is going to change once again. You’ll be discharged from the institute to work as a pack house omega. You’re 12 years old, yes? You have six years to prove yourself. When you get your wolf, you’ll be banished and turned rogue if you have not served well. Unless, of course, you find your mate within the pack. When you are discharged, you will report to the pack house and receive your duties from the head omega. You will ask for Alice.”
“Yes, Alpha. Of course. I won’t let you down”.
“Omega, life will be difficult. I promise you this. But it will serve towards your recovery. You’ll continue to attend therapy three times a week with a new Nurse. We hope to understand your past. I must inform you that most of those rescued with you have been moved to other packs with relatives who came forward. We need to remove the block your trauma has put up; we’ve been trying to rescue a particular she-wolf from your pack all these years.”
He lies, don’t trust him. Our pack and our family are gone, and it’s his fault. I briefly look around, wondering who had spoken, feeling a presence behind me. Answer him quickly, or you won’t be discharged. I’m your wolf. All will be explained to you tonight in your sleep. Our Mother awaits. Keep up the act.
“You truly are amazing, Alpha. I apologise for my brief silence. I’m stunned that you continue to support those less fortunate. I won’t let you down.”
“Very well. I’ll see you in a few months” Alpha James takes his leave.
I don’t remember falling asleep that night. There was a purple glow, and I was walking. Is this a dream? I kept walking until I entered the purple mist.
“Hello, my child. I’m so sorry this is your life and for what is to come.”
“Who are you?” I ask.
“Do you not recognise your creator? I’m the Mother. The moon goddess.”
“Selene. Forgive my rudeness. Was it you talking to me earlier?”
“No child, I’ve sent your wolf to you early. You may not shift until your 18th birthday; you both need to develop your strength, but she’ll be with you. She is guiding you. You’re both destined for greatness. Amy, please meet your wolf Keera.”
I’m about to ask what greatness I could be destined for when I feel my jaw drop. Standing before me is the most beautiful and magical wolf I’ve ever seen. She’s a deep grey, and she emits a blue glow.
Selene chuckles. “All will be revealed, child. You are of a noble bloodline, destined to unite the packs and create peace. To do this, I have gifted you my own Daughter, Keera. The road will be difficult. But stay strong. I have paired you with a mate who will show you kindness and treasure you as you deserve. He is noble but troubled, trying to forge a future different to his past. Your future lies in Harlech. I will revisit you before your shift, child.”
“How can I hear her; I am wearing silver?” I wonder aloud.
“Keera is my daughter, more powerful than a normal wolf. Silver only subdues her abilities; it does not remove them completely.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I’m finally free of the institute. My heart feels uplifted. I have a skip to my step. I take joy in feeling the breeze on my face.
“You will soon stop smiling. You think you know hardship. You have no idea what awaits you at the pack house. I’m sure I’ll see you soon,” Nurse Wilson scolds as he opens the gate to the institute.
I simply smile at him and walk to my future. Only three years until my 18th birthday. Three years until I meet Keera properly and seek vengeance for all the mistreated wolves of the institute.