No, I didn’t forget about this story. It isn’t the easiest to write as there is so much historical detail to keep in mind. Not exactly what I had in mind when I started writing about werewolves. 🙂 Here we get to see a little bit of WWII.
Henry landed with a thud against the wall of the barracks. This time, he stayed down. Brian was standing over him growling, half shifted. Henry’s jaw and ribs ached from Brian beating him. “Youh Idjit!” Brian growled. “Youh whill mahk hit rhittght.”
“Yes Papa,” Henry whined softly. He’d left Betty without talking about being a shifter and had come back to base. He’d started to explain it and got as far as saying Betty would give up the baby if it survived when Brian had started growling. The rest of the men in the barracks stood watch at the windows and doors to make sure Brian wasn’t interrupted as he beat some sense into Henry.
Brian growled once more and then left. The rest of the men gathered around Henry.
“What kind of idiot are you?” asked Jacques.
“Horny bastard that one,” said another man.
“Stupid!” said a third.
“Ohkay, I get the message,” said Henry. “How in the hell do I tell Betty that I’m a shifter?”
“Just like some of the other men. She’ll either get it, or panic. You gotta shift for her,” said Jacques.
“Just make sure she don’ have no gun or knife,” said Chester.
Henry stood up, shook his clothes back into place and headed back to town. He knew he was wrong to tell Betty lies, but at the same time he was scared. He never had to tell anyone he was a shifter and this was really difficult.
Betty was surprised to see Henry at the door. “Whatcha doing here luv?” she asked.
“Need to talk,” said Henry.
“Who hit you?” she asked seeing the bruising on his face.
“My Papa. He is ver mad I was dishonorable with you,” Henry said. He walked into Betty’s little house and went into the lounge. He sat down heavily. This wasn’t going to be easy, and he knew it.
“So, what are you goin’ to do Henry?” she said.
“I need to talk with you and you need to listen. It’s gonna be… sound a bit odd. Just don’ be afraid,” said Henry.
“Afraid? Why would I be afraid?” asked Betty. This of course made her nervous and the scent began to waft across to Henry.
“Betty, the reason I have to talk to you is because of the baby you’re carrying,” he started.
“Okay, I know you weren’t happy that I got preggers, but well, we both…” she started.
“I know. I’m not asking you to give up the baby. But you have to understand, that I’m a little different than most men,” said Henry.
“Well of course you are. You’re Canadian and you’ve been nice to me,” said Betty.
Henry shook his head. “Yes, and you’re a sweet girl. I really am different though. I’m a shifter,” he said at last.
“Shifter? You’re no shifter. You’re in the Army. You have a job,” said Betty still not understanding.
“Shifter as in I become somethin’ else,” said Henry. “A wolf.”
Betty laughed. “Henry, ifin’ you don’t want to marry me, just say so. I can go up to my sister’s in York and have the baby there and she’ll find a home for it. Lots of girls do that. Just tell me,” she said.
“No. Really. I’m not lying. I can shift into a wolf. I am a wolf. Our baby will be a wolf,” said Henry. He was getting frustrated that she wasn’t getting it. “Here. Let me show you,” he said and stood up to undress.
“Henry? Have you been drinking? Did you hit your head? Really love, we can go upstairs,” she said as he undressed.
“No, I’ll show you. Really. Just keep calm,” he said as he pulled off the last of his clothing. He shifted.
Betty screamed and passed out.
Wolf sniffed the woman on the floor. All okay. Wolf sniffed her belly and between her legs. She smelled like pee and wolf cub. Wolf licked her face and then sat and waited.
Betty slowly woke up. A noise woke her. She was on the floor and she remembered fainting because somehow Henry had melted into a wolf. “It must have been a dream. No more Stilton cheese for dinner,” she thought as she sat up. The large wolf in front of her didn’t move. He just lay there as Betty gasped and tried to move away from the animal in her living room.
“Ma’am, it’s alright. Henry won’t hurt you said Brian Davy from the doorway.
Betty screamed and fainted again. This time Brian caught her.
Betty came to in her own bed. The strange man was sitting next to her and so was Henry. She looked from one man to the next and realized that the stranger must be Henry’s father. She trembled in fear.
“Betty, it’s okay,” said Henry.
Betty, still wide eyed with fear didn’t say a thing, but simply looked from one man to the other.
“Betty, please. There is nothing to be afraid of,” said Brian.
“Dddid I see… really see you change into a wolf?” Betty asked in a tiny voice.
“Yes. I told you I’m a shifter Betty. I didn’t lie. I had to tell you because you’re pregnant and we tend to breed true,” said Henry.
The two men could read Betty’s thoughts as they raced across her face. Then her eyes rolled up in her head and she passed out again.
“Henry, what on earth have you bred with?” asked Brian.
“Hadn’t intended to breed. She’s just a sweet girl and well, she was nice,” said Henry.
“Nice? Does she always act like this?” asked Brian. “Or am I just catching her at a bad time?” The sarcasm seeped into his words.
“Papa! Dammit! You are not makin’ this easy,” said Henry.
“No, easy is just kill you. You idiot,” hissed Brian. He looked over at Betty and saw that she was waking up again.
Betty blinked and looked at both men. “Henry,” she started.
“Yes Betty,” said Henry.
“Am I… am I going to have puppies?” she asked in a worried tone.
Both me laughed.
A week later Betty was ready to ship off from Liverpool on the Queen Mary. She and Henry had gone to the Canadian Wives Bureau in London a few days before to get the papers ready for travel. Henry had written his mother and Maggie to let them know that Betty would be on her way. Henry and Brian had given Betty letters to hand deliver as well.
“Now, you understand that you’ll arrive at Pier 21 in Halifax. From there, you’ll have to take a train all the way to Calgary, Alberta. From Calgary, you take the train to Lethbridge. Maman and Maggie will meet you there and take you home,” said Henry.
“I got it Henry. All written down. I…hope I do you proud,” said Betty. She’d gotten over her fright, but still wasn’t 100% sure of all of this.
“You’ll do just fine. Take care and write when you can,” said Henry. He kissed her and watched as she headed up the gang plank.
Betty waved from the deck rail as the Queen Mary pulled away from the docks. Henry waited until the ship was far off into the channel and then headed back to Aldershot.
July 10th, 1943, Sicily.
“Operation Husky! Should have called it Operation Puke and Bake,” said Jacques as he tried to clear his head. He and Henry were standing on the deck of the transport that was headed across the Mediterranean. In hours they would be storming a beach at Cape Passero. The men were trying to get ready amids seasick troops. Everyone was hot, nervous and relieved to finally be heading into battle.
Brian and the Major were looking over maps of the area their battalion was suppose to take. Notes were made and maps handed out. Brian gathered his men together and shared out the information. Less than thirty minutes later, the landing crafts hit the beach. The propaganda machines and bombings had done their job well. There was little to no fighting on the beaches. Some of the transports hit the wrong beaches and the heat was oppressive. As the men moved inland, Brian feared he would loose more men from heat exhaustion than enemy bullets.
By that evening, the British, Canadian and American forces had taken Syracuse. The Germans hadn’t shown up in this area either. Some ships had been damaged by shelling, but for the most part the misinformation had worked in keeping the landing a secret. Brian and his men were panting in the shade trying to figure out just how much of their winter uniforms they could shed.
The next morning, the army moved inland. The Allies knew that the Italian 6th Army and Panzer Division Herman Goring and the 15th Panzergrenadier Division with 150 tanks was in Sicily. The 1st Canadian along with the XXX Corp was working to take over the Pachino Airfield. Battles were brief but intense and the heat was devastating.
“Major, two more of my men have succumbed to heat stroke. Can’t you get us lighter uniforms? Anything? Let us strip off?” said Brian. He was dripping wet and trying not to pant in front of the Major.
“Staff Sargent, we are doing the best we can. Do whatever you need to keep cool. As it is, they want to delay the Canadian regiments until we’ve figure out how to deal with this heat. At the same time, we have Italians and Germans attacking. Worse yet, we have Italians surrendering in record numbers. I just don’t know what to do with all of them!” cried the Major. He too was having trouble with the heat, and didn’t dare complain.
“Yes Sir!” said Brian. He saluted and left. He headed out to where his men were quartered. Everyone was trying to stay out of the sun.
“Any luck?” asked Chester.
“No. Drink your water and stay out of the sun. Heard that we have a long march coming up. 120 miles from here to Simeto. Oh, and lots of Germans to shoot,” said Brian.
The men shook their heads and wondered what on Earth General Montgomery was thinking.
Leonforte, Ragusa, Catania Road, Vizzini… The names of towns melted together with the sounds of bullets, bombs, tanks and the cries of the wounded. The Hermann Goring Division was waiting for them in Catania. At a bridgehead north of the river Simeto, the Allies managed a foothold against the Germans. It didn’t last long.
“Staff Sargent Davy!” called the Major.
“Sir!” Brian answered with a salute.
“We’ve been ordered to head north to Leonforte. From there we head east to Adrano near Mt. Etna. You think you can get our men there?” asked the Major.
“Aye Sir!” Brian said and headed out to lead his men. They’d worked out a tactic plan. Two or three of the shifters would head out before and clear the way. They’d shift and report back and then the main body of troops would move out. It was slow and dangerous work.
Henri had been out two days earlier and before killing the two German officers, he listened to them chatter about how clever and sneaky the Canadian divisions were to fight. He smiled as he shifted and then killed them.
By August, there were 19,000 prisoners. Patton’s tanks were chewing up the ground and driving the Germans north and east. The battles became more intense. 1st Canadian and XXX Corps were pushing towards Adrano. It fell on August 5th and the Canadian Division was merged with the Army Reserve. It didn’t give any of the men much rest as five days later, they were scheduled to cross to mainland Italy.
“Damn! We lost two more men last night,” said Henry.
“Shifters?” asked Chester.
“Non. Just other Canadians. Heat stroke and bullets kill just about the same here,” said Henry. And those tanks! Who taught them how to drive? Nearly ran over me last night!”
“I know. More people die from tanks running over them than bullets lately,” said Jacques. He sat down heavily. He drank from his canteen and ate some biscuits out of his rations. The rest of the men around him were doing the same.
Brian and his troops moved north and east with the Allies. The 29th Panzergrenadier Division gave Patton fits along the coast near Santa Agata and San Fratello. Meanwhile the Canadians moved up to the New Hube Line. Randazzo fell on August 13th. As the Italians and Germans pulled back, the Allied Forces took the opportunity to enter Messina.
“How we doin’ Papa?” Henry asked Brian as the men sat eating their first hot meal in weeks as they ‘relaxed’ on the Italian mainline.
“Not too bad. 562 dead. 28 of those family. 1664 wounded and 34 of them family. 84 were captured, and none of them family. I think maybe we survive this,” said Brian.