Monday, December 30, 2013

An Extract from The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf

An Extract from 'The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf.'

   “Well, we found Kalix,” said Daniel. “And now we’re trapped on top of a crate. Any suggestions?”
   “She just needs to calm down,” said Moonglow. “I’ll talk to her.”
   Moonglow, standing on top of the large crate, leaned forward and caught Kalix’s eye. “Kalix, it’s us, Daniel and Moonglow. There’s no need to be upset, we’re here to help.”
   Kalix immediately made another furious attack on the crate, howling and snarling. Moonglow took a hasty step back.
   “That went well,” said Daniel. “Maybe you should offer her a cup of tea.”
   “There’s no need to be sarcastic. I’m sure the tea will come in useful. At least I tried to think of something helpful.”
  “So did I,” said Daniel. He was wearing a rather oversized coat. From his deep pockets he took a small music player and then, surprisingly, two small speakers. “You see? I came prepared too. I knew Kalix was probably going to be in some savage, bestial state.”
   “How could you know that?”
   “Since meeting Kalix I’ve learned to expect the worst.” Daniel plugged the small speakers into his music player. “I think this will calm her down.”
   Moonglow was immediately alarmed. “If you start playing some horrible doom metal Kalix will probably eat the crate.”
   “My doom-metal collection is not horrible,” responded Daniel. “You just don’t understand it. But anyway, that’s not what I’m going to play. You know” - he turned to look at Moonglow - “it sometimes strikes me you don’t give me enough credit for my intelligence. I knew the day would come when Kalix went completely crazy, and I’ve prepared for it.”
   Daniel pressed the play button. A gentle sound emerged from the speakers, an acoustic guitar played quite softly and two female voices.
   “What’s this?” asked Moonglow.
   “Marine Girls. I chose it scientifically as the best music to calm our angry werewolf.”
   Moonglow looked doubtful. “You chose it scientifically? How?”
   “When I was making CDs for Kalix, I noticed she usually likes music with female singers. And she likes things from the seventies and eighties. Probably the result of growing up with only the Runaways to comfort her. This is the most soothing music that fits the bill.”
   Moonglow was still skeptical and half expected the music to drive Kalix into an even worse frenzy. She looked down at the wolf, which was still prowling. But Kalix had stopped howling and was no longer trying to bite the crate.
   “I think it’s working,” said Daniel. At the sound of his voice, Kalix started howling again. With a look between them, Daniel and Moonglow agreed to be silent for a while. Kalix quieted down again. The music played out gently through the warehouse. Kalix stopped howling. She walked around in a circle a few times. As the first song ended and the next began, she lay down and began licking her paws.
   “I think it’s working,” Moonglow whispered in Daniel’s ear. She’d been standing rigidly in alarm since arriving on top of the crate, but now relaxed a little. Moving carefully so as not to disturb Kalix, she sat down. Daniel did the same. They sat and watched as the shaggy-coated wolf stretched out on the ground and yawned. Kalix’s wolf-mouth was huge, and her teeth were extremely long and sharp, but when she stopped yawning she looked quite peaceful.
   For a long interval there was no movement in the warehouse, and no sound save for the gentle songs of Marine Girls. Kalix lay motionless on the ground, occasionally twitching her tail.
   “She’s so beautiful as a wolf,” whispered Moonglow.
   Daniel made a face. Kalix was beautiful as a wolf, but she was also abnormally powerful. It didn’t take long for her to forget she was human and lose her intellect. It was mainly because of this that she very rarely made the full change. Few of the MacRinnalchs did, preferring to spend their nights as werewolves, the half-human half-wolf state that came to them quite naturally. As werewolves, their intelligence didn’t desert them.
   “So, do you think we’ll be here all night?”
   Moonglow shrugged. Unless Kalix made the change back to her werewolf form, it seemed likely. Though the day had been warm, the temperature had dropped and it was chilly in the warehouse. Daniel gallantly took off his large coat and draped it over both of their shoulders.
   “Do you want some tea?” asked Moonglow, still taking care to keep her voice down.
   Daniel nodded. Moonglow carefully drew her flask from her bag and some paper cups. She filled one for each of them, and they sat in silence, listening to the music and gazing down at the slumbering wolf.
   “Of all the strange situations we’ve been in since we met Kalix,” whispered Daniel, “this is probably the strangest. Trapped on top of a crate, drinking tea and listening to the Marine Girls.”
   Despite the strangeness of the situation, Daniel didn’t really mind the position he was in, next to Moonglow, snuggled up under his coat. Moonglow giggled.
   “What’s funny?”
   “This. Our situation.”
   “I suppose so,” said Daniel.
   Suddenly, Kalix woke. She lifted her snout and started sniffing the air. Then she stood up and looked up at them.
   “Is she about to go crazy again?” said Daniel.
   “I don’t think so. Look, she’s wagging her tail.”
   Kalix was indeed wagging her tail. Though still staring upward at them, her eyes were no longer blazing.
   “She’s scented the tea. I think she wants some.”
   “Are you sure?” said Daniel.
   “Kalix likes tea. Her family used to drink a lot at the castle.”
   They wondered how to get the tea to Kalix. Neither was keen to leave the safety of the crate just yet. Daniel and Moonglow did love Kalix, but they’d also seen her kill a hunter. Daniel fumbled in one of his many pockets. He produced a length of string, and tied it around one of Moonglow’s paper cups. Moonglow filled the cup. Daniel leaned over the crate and started lowering the paper cup.
   “Nice wolf,” he said. “Here’s a nice cup of tea. Don’t go crazy.”
   Daniel lowered the tea gently to the ground. Kalix sniffed at it for a few moments, then stuck her long tongue in the cup. The cup quickly spilled over but Kalix didn’t seem to mind, and lapped the tea up from the floor. When she’d finished she lay down again, and once more there was peace in the warehouse, broken only by the gentle music. Daniel and Moonglow leaned on each other for warmth and support, while down below Kalix nodded off to sleep, apparently pacified.