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To my mother, for her love, patience, and occasional muffled outrage.

I love you and always will.




1


I woke to hear his breath. In the dark, it was the only piece of him I could find.

Slowly, the last twelve hours came back to me--the eater attack on the city; the fires; the assault rifles sparking from the rooftops; the wolfpeople waiting, panting, for the charge to begin; the eaters' flesh-sucking masters licking their sharp teeth in the spires of Midtown while the human guerilla armies tramped the wasted lots of the East Village.

Finally, I could feel him. He crouched beside me on the floor. His name was Seamus, and he was the alpha of the Clinton Street wolfpeople. He was tall, hairy-chested, broad-shouldered, with muscular arms and a firm, broad pony keg against the belt of his jeans. His smell was leather, cigarettes, meat, sweat. He had thick black glossy hair he greased back, a meticulous goatee, and a Texas accent; his original pack was from the Hill Country, before he was made lone and forced to start his own as a young man.

Sea leaned over to sniff me and the thick whiskers of his sideburns flicked across my cheek.

The same genetic plague that had made the eaters how they were was what made Seamus, and his parents and grandparents before him, into medical monsters normal humans called the wolfpeople. Innumerable other types of monsters existed--some strangely close to the traditional monsters of human fable and nightmare--but it was the wolfpeople who survived when the mindless hordes of the eaters, and their slightly more sentient parent-minds, devoured city after city. It had been five years since the government formally toppled; now existence was a continuing parry of life and death, and you took your safety where you found it.

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