When Dr Nicholas Blake was a little boy he lived with his Granny in a little grey house in a long grey street in Glasgow. His granny wasn’t like other grannies. Other grannies told their grandkids that the monster in the closet wasn’t real. Nick’s Granny told him that it wasn’t just in the closet.
Wake up, she told him that night, as she shook him awake with hard, red hands. Her hair was down and tangled and her breath smelled like the dead rats in the traps they laid in the kitchen. Wake up, she hissed as she pressed a salt-sharp hand over his mouth, and be quiet.
She pulled him out of bed and dressed him when he stumbled. A button here to hold his jeans up, a pinch of bony fingers on his flank to keep him awake.
“Are you afraid?” she asked him as she dragged him out of his bedroom and to the stairs. “Are you scared of the dark, boy, of the things that wait for you in it?”
Nick said, “Yes.” Because he was, and because Granny had told him to be and he was more scared of her.
“You should be,” she said as she dragged him downstairs.
There was blood on the table in the kitchen and Ms Davis bag–the one that Nick liked because it was covered with embroidered birds–on the table. Ms Davis was his teacher this year, straight from teacher training and with big, earnest eyes. She still cared and she asked questions and she always seemed very worried about Nick.
His school book stuck out of the bag, blood stained red on the cheap blue paper, and he could see his shaky W on the corner. They had been told to write down bedtime stories, and he’d wanted to impress her so he’d written down all the stories he knew. All the ones his granny told him at night, about the wolves who’d eat you slowly and why you should never look in mirrors and about the Runaway Man who could be anywhere and everywhere.
After she’d read them, Ms Davis had seemed very worried about Nick. She’d asked to come and see his granny.
“What did you do?” Nick asked.
His gran slapped him, a crack across his backside and then, in frustration, against his cheek. It startled a yelp out of him.
“What did you do, boy?” she snapped as she grabbed the book and waved it under Nick’s nose. “You told our secrets and now they’re going to come and take you away. They’ll lock you up, chain you up, and who will protect you then? Not your granny! Now come on, we have to go.”
She flung over the back door and dragged him out in the snow. The frost nipped at his bare feet and everything that Granny had ever told Nick to be afraid of leered at him from the dark. Granny had to pick him up, bundled her arm like a blanket, as she ran down the back alley and along the ginnel.
Nick screamed and squirmed until she lost her grip and he fell with a bone-rattling thud against the kerb. Granny grabbed at him again, but by then the police came with red and blue lights to banish the dark. They took Granny away in the car after she punched a cop and bit another, his ear tattered like Macy Simmons when her earrings got pulled out in the playground.
“Remember what I told you!” Gran told him, the last thing she told him as she pinched his chin in her fingers. “The wolves are coming boy, and they’ll eat you first. But your Granny will come back for you if you stay safe.”
Even then, Nick didn’t find any comfort in that.
Ms Davies, who’d been a Olympic athelete and surprised his Granny as much as his Granny had surprised her with the knife, hugged him with bloody arms and told him he was safe. She’d have the scar on the face for the rest of her life, but thought she’d probably saved that little boy’s life so it was worth it.
Later, when Nick understood that his Granny had been mad and that none of her stories were true, there was only thing that didn’t sense. It was the middle of summer the night they came to arrest his Gran….so where had the snow come from?
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When the Winter comes, the Wolves will come down over the walls and eat little boys in their beds.
Doctor Nicholas Blake might still be afraid of the dark, but the monsters his grandmother tormented him with as a child aren’t real.
Or so he thought… until the sea froze, the country ground to a halt under the snow, and he found a half-dead man bleeding out while a dead woman watched. Now his nightmares impinge on his waking life, and the only one who knows what’s going on is his unexpected patient.
For Gregor it’s simple. The treacherous Prophets mutilated him and stole his brother Jack, and he’s going to kill them for it. Without his wolf, it might be difficult, but he’ll be damned if anyone else gets to kill Jack—even if he has to enlist the help of his distractingly attractive, but very human, doctor.
Except maybe the Prophets want something worse than death, and maybe Nick is less human than Gregor believes. As the dead gather and the old stories come true, the two men will need each other if they’re going to rescue Jack and stop the Prophets’ plan to loose something more terrible than the Wolf Winter.
TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid when she was a small child. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in a market town on the Northern Irish coast and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a month (although she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing). She believes that adding ‘in space!’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any animal she meets (this includes snakes, excludes bugs), and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach, realized it was really high, and chickened out.
She aspires to being a cynical misanthrope, but is unfortunately held back by a sunny disposition and an inability to be mean to strangers. If TA Moore is mean to you, that means you’re friends now.