Arthur woke up slowly to the sound of voices. He had a splitting headache and his neck hurt. He tried to wipe his eyes but quickly found his wrists tied behind his back and to the chair he was sitting on. He blinked a few times to clear his vision and looked down as best as he was able. His ankles were tied to the legs of what appeared to be a heavy kitchen chair. It took a moment for this to compute as he looked around the small clearing in the dense forest growth around him.
He could hear voices, one of which he recognised as a co-worker.
"Hey!" Arthur shouted, trying to twist around in the chair to see where the voices were "Hey! What th' heck's going on? Johnno! Untie me ya bastard!"
"Hey, Arthur's awake. Why'd you do it Arthur?" Came John's voice.
Arthur went cold "Uh. Do what, Johnno? I ain't done nuffin!"
"Don't give me that. We saw you help Michael load Mark into the work van."
Arthur decided he would stick to his story
"He was takin' him to hospital! He done himself an injury! Mick said th' ambulance'd take ages an' he'd take him to th' hospital! Be quicker, like! Why the hell am I in a forest?"
John's voice grew closer "We wanted somewhere quiet for a chat. You sold my friend out. We rescued him, but nobody appreciates someone that takes blood money. He wasn't the only one was he."
"Dunno what'cher talkin' 'bout, mate. I never got no blood money."
An enormous clawed and furred hand rested on Arthur's shoulder and dug into his skin painfully with a grip that was both inhuman and finely controlled. He looked at the hand and then up at the angry yellow eyes above a long black muzzle filled with sharp fangs and teeth, the lips curled back to reveal every one of them inches from his face.
"Ooh bugger" he said.
The other voice called out from behind him "Johnno, did you read this?"
The hand removed itself from Arthur's shoulder as the werewolf turned away toward the voice. Arthur took it as an opportunity and frantically began moving across the clearing in a combination of ungraceful tip-toe shuffling and frantic chair hopping. He made it about six feet before toppling face first onto the damp ground.
"Sods" he proclaimed forlornly to nobody in particular.
The chair was hauled upright again and John dragged him back.
"Nice try" he said, and jammed the legs of the chair into the soil. He walked back out of sight. Arthur wasn't giving up so easily, however.
He could hear them discussing a news article about the spread of the lupin virus and a missing medical professor, and hoped they would stay distracted. Frantic wiggling loosened the legs of the chair out of the ground and he managed to free the rope around his ankles. He pulled the chair vertically and found himself standing upright with the chair attached to his back like a turtle shell, and he nearly whooped in triumph. He stopped himself in time, but something dripped off a tree and onto his neck and he instinctively looked up. The back of his head hit the top of the chair's back, and he cursed under his breath, but lost his balance and toppled over backwards.
Arthur landed painfully and let out a string of curse words. The two werewolves walked over and laughed at his predicament. John bent down and grabbed either side of the chair, lifted Arthur about six feet off the ground, and hung the chair with him on it on the broken branch of a nearby tree.
"So this is Arthur, eh?" the second werewolf said. This one was silver and white, and was holding a newspaper. Standing beside the suspended chair he was still at eye level with the captive.
Arthur looked down at the ground a long way below him then at the werewolf.
"Call me 'Art'" he said with a sly grin.
The silver werewolf quickly rolled up the newspaper and hit him in the face with it.
"Bad pun! Bad!"
Arthur's demeanour changed rapidly "Sod off. What do ya want from me anyways. I don't know nuffin!"
"We want to know where our friends are. Some of us are missing, you see" said John.
"I told ya, I don'
The silver werewolf interrupted by lunging in, his lips drawn back in a snarl. John spoke quietly but with authority "Don't hurt him just yet, Franco. We still need the others to speak to him."
Franco the silver turned his head to look at John, then yelped loudly and stepped back from Arthur.
"What the hell! He bit me!" He exclaimed, rubbing his cheek with his clawed hand. He belted Arthur with the newspaper repeatedly in time with his angry words.
"You. Do. Not. Bite. People! Naughty. Art. Naughty!"
"Sod off!" Arthur shouted. "Let me go, you fuzzy bastards!"
"Little bugger drew blood! Look at that, Johnno!" Franco exclaimed, showing a blot of blood on the palm of his hand.
John laughed "You're going to turn into a scrawny forklift driver every full moon now, Franco."
"God help me" Franco muttered before turning back to Arthur. "Where are the others you sold out, Arthur."
"I never sold no-one out! Check th' hospital! Mick said he were takin' him to th' hospital! Some specialist or sommit."
"Hmm. Maybe he's telling the truth and he was dumb enough to believe Michael" John speculated. "Is the doctor still
Franco shrugged. "Don't know. Maybe we should see if they still have him alive."
"Okay, what do we do with Art here?"
"I'll be fine. You guys go. I'll be right 'ere; promise" said Arthur helpfully.
They looked at him then looked at each other, amused at his optimism.
"No worries" said John. "That sounds like a really good idea. Come on Franco. You be good Arthur. Just hang around here until we get back, okay?"
Arthur nodded at Franco's newspaper "You gonna hit 'im wif that or wot, mate?"
"I'm thinking about it" Franco admitted.
John laughed and said "Come on. We need to hurry."
They had barely left the clearing before Arthur began to bounce in the chair, trying to either dislodge it from the branch or loosen the rope around his wrists. Unfortunately the branch gave way before the rope did and he hit the ground face first.
He lay for a moment, stunned. A long list of swear words fought for the attention of his frontal lobe but for reasons unknown to modern neuroscience, the one that issued from his mouth was less than adequate at expressing his feelings.
Arthur tried to roll over but the chair prevented him from getting further than his side. In his irritated and fearful state he tried the other way and was surprised to find the chair still there, preventing him. He lay on his front and brought one knee up under him, but the leaf litter on the floor of the clearing provided little friction, and each time he tried to bring his knee up, his face would slide along the ground.
Out of pure frustration he began thrashing around on the ground, the ready supply of swear words now exploding from him like an uncorked champagne bottle. He thrashed and bucked and swore until he ran out of energy and lay gasping for breath.
It then occurred to him that the solution might not be so complicated after all, and he used his arms to control the chair enough to be able to dig one leg of the chair into the ground and lever his weight off it, then he brought the opposite knee forward. From there he could lean back and bring his other knee up and suddenly found himself sitting upright on the chair again.
He had never felt such accomplishment and pride about being able to sit correctly on a chair as he did now. Arthur decided to push his luck, and he carefully stood upright.
With his ankles free, he was able to walk much easier and he crossed the clearing easily while still trying unsuccessfully to free his hands from the cursed chair. A subtle noise made him stop dead in his tracks. It took him a second to realise what the noise was; such an ordinary noise in this unusual setting. The noise was the "Psscht" of a bottle being opened.
The two werewolves were standing in the middle of the path each with a bottle of beer in one hand. Franco was holding the remainder of the six-pack.
"Was that not the funniest display of ineptitude that you've ever seen, Franco?" commented John.
"Yep. That was pathetic and hilarious at the same time."
Arthur didn't wait for more commentary and turned and ran back the way he came. He crossed the clearing again and crashed through the undergrowth as best as he was able. A quick glance behind him showed no sign of the werewolves and he powered on ahead. He crossed a path and ran along it, falling a few times but getting more adept at running with the chair tied to his back.
The path opened up onto a dirt car-park beside a road, and he didn't even slow down as he crossed it and ran out onto the bitumen.
A van approached and he stood his ground to force it to stop. The white van pulled up beside him and the driver leaned out. Arthur was relieved to see it was Terry; one of his work friends.
"Oh man, I'm so glad ta see ya! Ya gotta get me outta here! Th' lupin are all ova th' place! They hung me onna tree!"
"Yeah? Really? I don't know what you get up to after work, so I'm not judgemental or anything. But you look kinda different today."
"Oth'r than a bloody chair tied to me back?" Arthur said bluntly, relief changing to irritation.
"Nah, that's not it. You always have a chair glued to your arse at work. You got flowers in your hair. Are you a hippy now?"
"Sod off, Terry. Get me out of here!"
Terry opened the driver's door and got out. He walked over to Arthur and put one hand on his shouler.
"Terry? What'cha doin' man? Y're weirdin' me out!"
"I'm serious. Something's different. How are you feeling?"
"Like me 'eart's gonna bust from me chest! I jest run a mile wif a chair tied to me back!"
"Anything else?" Terry asked. Arthur stood for a moment, thinking.
"I feel sick, like. But 'ungry at th' same time."
Terry sniffed at him; a strange thing for a non-lupin to do.
"You been bitten mate? You smell like them."
"No! Stop stuffing about an' get me outta 'ere; there's two in th' woods ova there! I Escaped from 'em! Open th' van up willya?"
"You know, I wouldn't be too worried if I were you" said Terry, grabbing the chair and spinning him around to untie his wrists.
"You're changing. You're in the early stages of the lupin virus, mate."
"Yep. Almost guarantee it. I know someone that can confirm it for you if you like."
"Who?" Arthur asked suspiciously. The van door slid open and four lupin stepped out.
They grinned at him maliciously as the two original werewolves crossed the car-park casually, still carrying the beer.
There was a casual greeting between them all and Arthur realised they were the missing lupin he was being questioned about. Franco handed out beers and nodded to Terry who missed out.
"Only got a sixer, sorry Terry" said Franco.
"Terry?" Arthur asked on the verge of panic.
Terry smiled at him "Yeah, I'm one of the first ones to be affected. I can change the easiest so I get the human jobs. Franco's nearly as good as me now though."
Franco held up the empty six pack carrier as evidence of his ability to move amongst normal humans.
"Sorry for the hassle, Arthur. We thought you and Michael were in on it together."
"Well, I bloody weren't!" Arthur proclaimed hotly.
Terry pointed at Arthur casually "Any of you lot bite him? He smells like us, and he's got the hunger sickness."
There was a chorus of no's and nups from the assembled gang. Franco wouldn't meet Terry's gaze and John stared blankly before breaking into laughter.
"You know" said John "When one of us bites someone, we become responsible for them, right?"
"Yeah. So who's responsible for him then?" Terry asked.
"Dunno. What happens when a human bites one of us?"
Terry gave him a look as though he had just asked what colour tutu he would like to wear to the pub.
Franco put his huge hand to his damaged lupin cheek briefly. "Little bugger bit me."
There was stunned silence then uproarious laughter. Someone slapped Arthur on the back painfully.
"Congratulations. You're probably the first human in all of history to become a werewolf by biting one."