Wolf Pack II – Little Lamb | Tobias Madden

Penny and Chloe worry over the Wolf Pack’s next target.


Wolf Pack II – Little Lamb

Tobias Madden

For the Wolves Serial Award, Part 2: Vows


 

Penny and Chloe sat silently on the linoleum floor, their backs against the cool, hard metal of the lockers behind them. Penny had gone to speak several times, but, before her thoughts could form into words of condolence, they’d been sucked out into the empty abyss of grief that separated her from Chloe. She felt miles away from her, alone with her tears.

Caroline was dead.

After some time, Chloe reached her hand out into the space between them, still staring straight ahead. Penny glanced down at the open palm, sniffling, and placed her hand in Chloe’s.

They sat like this, hand in hand but distanced, for a long, excruciating moment.

The silence was broken only by the obnoxious beeping of Penny’s mobile phone. She reached into her pocket and grimaced at the screen.

‘Fuck,’ she said, wiping her eyes with her spare hand.

‘What?’ Chloe asked, her brow heavy, her cheeks wet.

Penny read the text message aloud. ‘Hey little sis. Guessing you heard about Caroline? Suicide is so selfish. Tom is a mess, obviously. We’re both coming home for the funeral. See you tomorrow. Kate.’

‘Suicide?’ Chloe said, through fresh sobs.

‘Jesus,’ Penny said, shoving the phone back into her pocket, ‘the last thing I need right now is some kind of sanctimonious lecture about teen suicide from “Kate the Great”.’

‘Pen, I know you can’t always see it,’ Chloe said, ‘but Kate cares.’

Penny scoffed. ‘Yeah, she cares so much about me that she decided to move across the country and only ever contact me when she’s in a sufficiently condescending mood.’

‘This isn’t about you, Penny,’ Chloe said, trying to be firm, the wavering in her voice betraying her, ‘Tom’s little sister—our friend—just killed herself.’

‘I don’t see why Kate has to come home too.’

Chloe scrunched up her face, incredulous. ‘Can you even hear yourself? She’s Tom’s fiancee, Penny. Come on.’

‘Sorry, I’m just…’ Penny fidgeted with her cuticles.

‘I know,’ Chloe said, letting her head fall back against the lockers. The metal clang rang out through the corridor. ‘I just feel so bad for Tom; Caroline was his only sibling, you know?’

‘Well, yeah,’ Penny sighed, ‘it’s horrific. This whole situation is unimaginably—’

‘Penny, what’s going to happen to me?’ Chloe interrupted, sitting bolt upright, her eyes suddenly wide with fear.

Penny stared blankly back at her. ‘What?’

‘If Caroline did kill herself,’ Chloe said, her voice low, ‘I—look, I always thought you were overreacting about Lulu and the others, but now I see it too—there’s no doubt Caroline did this to herself because of those horrible, horrible girls… and I’m next.’

Penny shook her head. ‘Chloe, Caroline never did anything to deserve what they did to her; she never provoked them. They chose her just because. Who’s to say they’re going to target you now?’

‘Really, Penny? “Who’s to say?” Um, I just spilt an entire scalding-hot americano on the black-haired she-devil incarnate. I’m next. You said it yourself, girls like us are exactly whom the Wolf Pack prey upon. And before, I thought this whole thing was just teenage girls being mean. Little pranks and name-calling. I thought they just needed a scapegoat to torture, to cement their status in the stupid Kingsford hierarchy. But Caroline is dead.’ Tears streamed down her cheeks. ‘What if they—what if—’

‘Chloe,’ Penny said, grasping both of Chloe’s hands, stopping her from finishing the thought that they were both thinking. ‘I will not let that happen. We’ll work this out.’

‘Do you promise?’ Chloe asked, her eyes glistening with fear.

‘I promise.’ Penny smiled. ‘Just as long as you promise to never—never—even think about hurting yourself, okay?’

Chloe wiped snot from her nose. ‘Oh, Pen, of course. I promise.’

‘You and I are in this together, Chlo,’ Penny wrapped her arms around Chloe and hugged her fiercely. ‘We stand as one. Always.’

The bell rang. The girls had missed their last-period English class. Penny suspected their teacher would understand, all things considered.

Chloe pulled away and attempted a smile. ‘Let’s go home.’

As they stood up, Chloe groaned in frustration. ‘Ugh—I left my books in Mrs Hughes’ office. I’ll meet you out the front,’ she said, already striding off down the hall.

‘I’ll come with you,’ Penny called after her.

Chloe paused, shaking her head. ‘No, go and grab your bag from your locker,’ she said. ‘It’ll be quicker if we split up. I’ll meet you at the bus.’

‘Okay, if you’re sure?’ Penny asked, her worry distorting her usually soft features.

‘I’m sure,’ Chloe said, turning on her heel and heading swiftly down the corridor.

~

Penny stood outside the steel school gates with her book-laden bag hanging off one shoulder, trying to stop herself from checking her watch every three seconds.

She got out her phone and typed a quick message to Chloe: ‘The Wolf Pack will be on the hunt. Hurry up. We need to make the first bus in five.’

Then, glancing back to the school building, she saw them: all five girls, slinking out from the shadows under the clock tower, with a sixth girl being dragged along by her ponytail.

Penny’s stomach lurched. It had begun.

‘Chloe!’ Penny cried out.

As the girls drew closer, Penny saw that Lulu was smiling. Nothing instilled more fear in Penny than that smile; she knew what that smile meant: Lulu was baring her teeth, ready to flay Chloe alive in front of a captive audience at the bus bay.

‘Let her go!’ Penny said, as sternly as she could manage.

‘Well, well, well,’ Lulu said, strutting forward like a mint-condition Evil Villain Barbie.

Fear gripped Penny’s throat. ‘Chloe and I are going to miss our bus,’ she said feebly. ‘Just let us go. Please.’

Julia and Andrea, arm in arm and sucking on lollipops, let out high-pitched girlish giggles in harmony. If they weren’t so dangerous, Penny might have found their popular-girl caricatures laughable—but, unfortunately, none of this was a joke.

Penny tried to get Chloe’s attention, but her head was held low by Olivia, who still had an iron grasp on Chloe’s hair.

‘Penelope, yes?’ Lulu asked, her voice as saccharine sweet as Julia’s and Andrea’s lollipops.

Penny cleared her throat. ‘Yes, Lulu. We’ve been in the same grade for five years.’

‘Ooh, someone’s feeling sassy!’ Eve jibed from Lulu’s flank. ‘Maybe we—’

Lulu held up her hand to silence her friend. Eve snapped her mouth shut and raised an antagonistic eyebrow instead.

‘Your little friend, here,’ Lulu said, beginning to walk a slow, measured circle around Penny, ‘had some very interesting information for us.’

‘I—I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Penny stammered.

‘Our little incident at lunch-time?’ Lulu pouted. She was behind Penny now, but Penny refused to turn around, refused to show her fear—she knew the girls would smell it. Their hearts would already be beating together in perfect synchronicity, united in their hunt for teenage flesh.

‘Chloe told us what really happened: you pushed her,’ Lulu continued. ‘You intentionally knocked her so that she’d spill her coffee all over Eve.’

‘What?’ Penny gasped, whipping her head around to Lulu. ‘I—no, I—’

Lulu’s smile grew broader as she finished pacing her circle. ‘Chloe said that you thought we were going to target you next, now that that awful cow Caroline is out of the picture. So you sacrificed your so-called best friend to save yourself. Pathetic,’ she spat, her sapphire blue eyes sparkling with the thrill of an ambush. ‘To be completely honest, Penelope, you weren’t even on our radar before now. Neither was this one,’ she jabbed a thumb back toward Chloe, ‘even after the coffee incident. Accidents happen. We’re not monsters.’

Eve raised her eyebrows and shook her head. The sickly-sweet perfume of pity flooded the air.

Penny could barely breathe. The world began to spin around her, the echo of laughter reverberating through her brain, turning her thoughts to mush.

‘Oh, and we know what you call us behind our backs, too’ she added, holding up Chloe’s phone, every single one of her perfectly white teeth on show. ‘The Wolf Pack.’

Penny’s world turned black. The ground plummeted away from her feet. She had never felt so alone.

‘I have to say, I kind of like it,’ Lulu said, stepping closer, bearing down over Penny. ‘And I’m The Alpha, isn’t that right?’

Chloe had told them everything.

‘Say goodbye to life as you know it at Kingsford Grammar, Penelope,’ Lulu said, eyes burning with feverish bloodlust. ‘Poor little lamb, it looks like you’ve just been thrown to the wolves.’