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       The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf, p.1
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           Martin Millar
The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf


  THE ANXIETY OF

  KALIX THE WEREWOLF

  Copyright © 2014 by Martin Millar

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  ISBN 978-1-61902-361-1

  SOFT SKULL PRESS

  An imprint of COUNTERPOINT

  1919 Fifth Street

  Berkeley, CA 94710

  www.softskull.com

  www.counterpointpress.com

  Distributed by Publishers Group West

  10987654321

  CONTENTS

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Chapter 86

  Chapter 87

  Chapter 88

  Chapter 89

  Chapter 90

  Chapter 91

  Chapter 92

  Chapter 93

  Chapter 94

  Chapter 95

  Chapter 96

  Chapter 97

  Chapter 98

  Chapter 99

  Chapter 100

  Chapter 101

  Chapter 102

  Chapter 103

  Chapter 104

  Chapter 105

  Chapter 106

  Chapter 107

  Chapter 108

  Chapter 109

  Chapter 110

  Chapter 111

  Chapter 112

  Chapter 113

  Chapter 114

  Chapter 115

  Chapter 116

  Chapter 117

  Chapter 118

  Chapter 119

  Chapter 120

  Chapter 121

  Chapter 122

  Chapter 123

  Chapter 124

  Chapter 125

  Chapter 126

  Chapter 127

  Chapter 128

  Chapter 129

  Chapter 130

  Chapter 131

  Chapter 132

  Chapter 133

  Chapter 134

  Chapter 135

  Chapter 136

  Chapter 137

  Chapter 138

  Chapter 139

  Chapter 140

  Chapter 141

  Chapter 142

  Chapter 143

  Chapter 144

  Chapter 145

  Chapter 146

  Chapter 147

  Chapter 148

  Chapter 149

  Chapter 150

  Chapter 151

  Chapter 152

  Chapter 153

  Chapter 154

  Chapter 155

  Chapter 156

  Chapter 157

  Chapter 158

  Chapter 159

  Chapter 160

  Chapter 161

  Chapter 162

  Chapter 163

  Chapter 164

  Chapter 165

  Chapter 166

  Chapter 167

  Chapter 168

  Chapter 169

  Chapter 170

  Chapter 171

  Chapter 172

  Chapter 173

  Chapter 174

  Chapter 175

  Chapter 176

  Chapter 177

  Chapter 178

  Chapter 179

  Chapter 180

  Chapter 181

  Chapter 182

  Chapter 183

  Chapter 184

  Chapter 185

  Chapter 186

  THE ANXIETY OF

  KALIX THE WEREWOLF

  CHAPTER 1

  Eighteen years in the past.

  Markus MacRinnalch was used to being treated with respect. As the son of the Thane, he was an important figure in the werewolf clan, and he was popular at the castle. Women in particular were always fond of him.

  Apart from Dominil, thought Markus. For a nine-year-old, she’s certainly mastered the art of withering contempt.

  His young cousin regarded him with scorn. “Don’t you know anything?” she said. “I’m not an albino. I’m leucistic. It’s a completely different condition.”

  “All right,” said Markus, raising his voice against the wind. “You’re leucistic. Now could you put some clothes on and get back to the castle?”

  Dominil, standing in her underwear, in a snowdrift that reached up to her waist, showed no inclination of putting her clothes on.

  “It’s really a foolish mistake,” she continued as the snow fell. “Albinism is a result of the reduction of melanin only. Leucism refers to the absence of all pigments. Hence my white hair and pale skin. But if I were an albino I’d have pink eyes. Clearly, my eyes are not pink. They’re dark. Eye pigmentation derives from a different source.”

  Faced by this barrage of biology, Markus struggled for an answer. He attempted to steer the conversation away from Dominil’s unusual genetic makeup.

  “Why are you standing in the snow in your underwear?”

  Dominil’s long white hair perfectly matched the snowflakes that were settling all over her; her skin was hardly any darker.

  “To see how it affects me.”

  “And?”

  “It has very little effect.”<
br />
  Markus shook his head. The whole MacRinnalch Clan already knew that cousin Dominil was an odd character, and this only served as further evidence. He felt himself starting to shiver but stopped it by an effort of will, not wanting to show weakness in front of the nine-year-old werewolf who was apparently determined to prove that she was unaffected by the elements.

  “Did he send you to look for me?” asked Dominil.

  “No,” said Markus.

  He thought he noticed the faintest trace of disappointment on Dominil’s features, but it vanished immediately.

  “Then why are you out here, Markus MacRinnalch?”

  “To get away from the childbirth. There are so many werewolves fussing around the chamber.”

  Dominil nodded somberly. “Is it really going to happen tonight?”

  “So they say.”

  “It’s most unusual,” said Dominil, thoughtfully. “Werewolves are hardly ever born on the full moon. Unfortunately the clan doesn’t keep proper statistics.”

  “I don’t think we need statistics,” said Markus. “Everyone knows how rare it is.”

  MacRinnalch children were almost always born in their human form. No one could remember the last time a child had arrived when the moon was full and actually been born in a werewolf shape. According to Doctor Angus, it was going to happen tonight.

  “We should keep proper statistics,” insisted Dominil. “I’ve told Clan Secretary Rainal time and again but he never listens.”

  Not wishing to be sidetracked by Dominil’s peculiar obsessions, Markus tried encouraging her to return to the castle.

  “Everyone in the castle is waiting to see the new cub. There will be a party when she’s born.”

  Dominil was clearly unimpressed by the prospect of a party. Markus began to feel frustrated. The MacRinnalch werewolves were famously hardy, well used to the harsh rigors of the Scottish Highlands. That didn’t mean they wanted their children to stand around nearly naked in the snow.

  “Wouldn’t you like to see the baby when it arrives? If it’s really going to be born as a werewolf, you won’t see that again for a long time.”

  Dominil considered this. “Perhaps I should observe it,” she conceded. “I’ll come back to the castle after the moon’s risen and I’ve made the change.”

  Tonight, on the full moon, every MacRinnalch in the castle and surrounding lands would take on their werewolf shape. It was a welcome event. The clan could always feel their health and power being boosted by the moon.

  “Why not come back now?”

  Dominil gave Markus another withering look, something that, for someone so young, she seemed remarkably good at.

  “I need to compare my resilience before making the change to my resilience afterward.”

  Markus was unable to prevent himself from shivering. The snow was coming down harder and the freezing wind was gathering strength.

  “What for?”

  “It’s part of my regime,” declared Dominil. “I’m charting my results on the computer I’m constructing.”

  Once again, Markus experienced the uncomfortable feeling of inferiority that could only be brought on by talking to Dominil. He wearied of the conversation. If the clan wanted Dominil to get out of the freezing cold they could fetch her themselves. He nodded stiffly to his young cousin, drew his long coat around him, and departed. As he marched back to the castle, his boots made deep imprints in the new snow.

  Dominil wondered briefly why Markus had been concerned. She was in no danger. Her recent experiments had demonstrated quite clearly that she could stand in the snow for hours without coming to harm. Dominil didn’t enjoy the freezing cold but was prepared to put up with it, both as a means of improving her self-discipline and as an interesting scientific observation.

  She waited till night fell. When the moon rose, full and low in the sky, the change came upon her swiftly. There was no notable reaction on her part. One moment she was a human girl, the next she was a white werewolf, standing on two legs in the deep snow. Dominil made a brief entry in her notebook, then remained where she was, observing the differences she could feel.

  As a werewolf, I’m almost impervious to the weather, she thought. The wind and snow can’t penetrate my coat at all.

  The snowdrift was now several feet deep, backed up against a row of tall ash trees. Dominil sat down and looked at her fur against the snow. Both were pristine white.

  “I could hide in the snow,” she mused. “No one could see me.”

  An hour later, she made her way back to the castle. If Doctor Angus had been correct, which he normally was in werewolf matters, Verasa should have had her child by now. Dominil had many cousins and couldn’t raise much enthusiasm for the birth of another, but she did have some curiosity to see the child born in its werewolf shape. She entered the castle through the small post gate beside the portcullis. The tall werewolf at the gate barely acknowledged her. Dominil had once lectured him on his gate duties, and since then he’d never liked her. He wasn’t the only adult werewolf in the castle with an aversion to the girl.

  Dominil had expected to find signs of celebration, but the castle seemed quiet. There were lights on in the courtyard but no sounds of revelry from the chambers above. The Scottish werewolves were capable of raucous celebrations—on Hogmanay, the party generally got out of hand—but there didn’t seem to be any exuberance in the air tonight. A few werewolves emerged from one of the stone stairwells. Mostly their fur was a dark, shaggy brown, but one of the younger werewolves had a coat with a slightly redder hue. Dominil recognized her cousin Decembrius. She greeted him formally and asked if the child had been born yet.

  Decembrius nodded. “We’ve been to see it. It’s funny, a baby werewolf. Are you going to . . .?” His voice trailed off as Dominil lost interest in the conversation and walked on by. She climbed the stairs that led to the Mistress of the Werewolves’s chambers. She passed a few other werewolves on the way. None of them seemed particularly happy. When she reached the west wing of the castle, the outer chamber had obviously been set up for some sort of celebration. The chamber was warm, with a great log fire burning in the grate, and there were bottles of the werewolves’ favorite whisky, the MacRinnalch malt, standing on the tables. Plates of venison lay half-eaten beside them. Dominil frowned. It was unlike her clan to leave a celebration before the whisky and venison were finished, particularly on the night of a full moon, when appetites were at their strongest.

  She wondered if her father, Tupan, was around. There was no sign of him. Nor was there any sign of Thrix, the Mistress of the Werewolves’s daughter, or Sarapen, her eldest son. Dominil carried on toward the inner chamber where she met Doctor Angus. The doctor was a renowned physician, both as a human and a werewolf. The clan depended on his services, as did his human patients in Edinburgh. Angus was frowning, but he forced a smile when he saw the young white-haired werewolf.

  “Hello, Dominil. Come to see the baby?”

  Dominil nodded. “What’s it called?”

  “Kalix. It’s a girl. But I’d wait a while if I were you.”

  “Why?” asked Dominil.

  At that moment, furious yells erupted from the private chamber beyond. The Mistress of the Werewolves was shouting, and so was the Thane. Their voices were clearly audible as they insulted each other. Dominil looked at Doctor Angus.

  “How long has this been going on?”

  “Ever since the birth.”

  Dominil nodded. No wonder the celebrations had been muted. The Thane and his wife had been on bad terms for some time; the werewolves in Castle MacRinnalch had come to dread their violent arguments, and they tried to avoid them whenever possible. She made to enter the chamber. Angus put a hand out to restrain her.

  “You should wait.”

  “I came to see the baby,” she said, removing his hand. She slipped through the great wooden door into Verasa’s private chamber. Inside, Verasa was sitting on the edge of her bed, half shouting and half growling at her husba
nd. Neither werewolf took any notice of Dominil. She stared at them without expression for a second, then walked into the small room next door. Behind her the argument intensified.

  The room, like Verasa’s chamber, was not as warm as the rooms outside. The Mistress of the Werewolves’s private chambers were large but not particularly luxurious. There was a small, old cot in the center of the room. Dominil looked in the cot and there was Kalix, a werewolf baby, tucked up under a green tartan blanket. It was indeed an unusual sight. A tiny little werewolf, only an hour old. She had thick dark fur, which made it difficult to make out her features. Dominil studied the baby objectively. She wondered, in her inquiring manner, if the unusual birth might have any long-term effects.

  Dominil could still hear the thunderous argument going on in the next chamber. She looked down at the tiny werewolf, who twitched in her cot and whimpered a little.

  “Welcome to the MacRinnalch Clan,” she said.

  CHAPTER 2

  Moonglow considered organizing a surprise party for Kalix’s eighteenth birthday; Daniel persuaded her against it.

  “Kalix doesn’t like surprises,” he pointed out. “We’re liable to end up with an angry werewolf looking for someone to bite.”

  “Kalix has never bitten us!” protested Moonglow.

  “She once knocked you across the room. You know she has a violent temper.”

  “Her temper’s not as bad these days,” said Moonglow. “But I suppose you’re right. The surprise might upset her. We’ll give her plenty of warning so she can get used to the idea.”

  As far as Daniel and Moonglow could gather, Kalix had never had any sort of birthday party before.

  “It’s a pity her eighteenth birthday’s actually on the full moon,” said Moonglow. “She’ll have to make the change. So we can’t invite anyone who doesn’t already know she’s a werewolf.”

  “I don’t think she has any other friends anyway,” said Daniel.

  Moonglow looked slightly troubled. “I hoped she might make a few friends at college, but she doesn’t seem to want to.”

  “Unlike Vex,” said Daniel. “She makes friends with everyone.”

  Agrivex, the fourth occupant of the small flat in South London, attended the same remedial college as Kalix, who had never learned to read or write properly. Since meeting Daniel and Moonglow, the young werewolf’s skills had gradually improved. Vex’s literacy and numeracy were not that impressive either, but she had the excuse of English not being her first language. Vex was a Fire Elemental and had been born in a different dimension.

  “Does Vex have a birthday?” asked Moonglow.

 
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