Bitten: Prisoner (Chapter 19)

When last we left our protagonists, Clay had abandoned Elena while she was at the bank.

I could imagine only two reasons for them abandoning me. One, the meter maid had been making her rounds and neither had a nickel for the meter.

Charming.

There was a third possibility: Clay was really pissed off at me, knocked Antonio unconscious, and drove off, abandoning me to my fate.

PSA: If this ever crosses your mind as something your significant other is seriously capable of doing to you, seek help. Pretty sure Elena’s being wry here, but I could totally see Clay doing it because she broke some bullshit rule he just thought of, so who knows.

I closed my eyes and tuned out everything else. The Mercedes was less than a few blocks away, the sound of its engine fading, then growing, then fading as it seemed to be moving in slow circles.

I don’t care how luxury it is, you can’t identify a car by the sound of its engine from a few blocks away in the middle of downtown. Fuck, really? Really?

[G]ravel crunched behind me and the edge of a large shadow encroached on the left of my vision field. Clay. He was downwind, but I didn’t need to smell him to recognize his flavor of practical joke.

As I whirled around, a hand grabbed the back of my shirt and sent me sailing face first to the ground. Okay. Not Clay.

Remember a few chapters ago when she could tell wolves apart by the sounds of their paws on the dirt? Now she can’t. Amazing consistency here.

Elena tries the witty banter thing on Cain, who is basically standing around looking intimidating. She insists that mutts always stand their ground while Pack know when to run, because once again, anyone not in her super sekret speshul club is a sub-human monster who hasn’t got two brain cells to rub together.

Elena pulls a Bella Swan:

I lifted both arms to wave and my left foot hit the gravel wrong. As I fell, the silver car slowly vanished from sight.

Now Cain feels like hitting her. Raping her, more likely, since he rips her shirt open. But when she was right in front of him a moment ago, he crossed his arms and glared at her, like he was waiting for something.

I’ve just noticed Cain doesn’t have any lines here, at all. Is he capable of speech? Oh, wait, no, I missed one. Twice, earlier, he says “Get up”. So I gather the narration agrees with Elena’s opinion of Cain’s intelligence.

Apparently Clay and Antonio sensed a trap, so they left a train and were circling so that Elena would walk right into the ambush and set it off for them.

This is how werewolves fight:

Cain took a step left toward Clay. Clay mirrored the maneuver, moving forward to the right. They repeated the dance steps, gazes locked, each watching the other for the lunge. The pattern for the ritual was ingrained in our brains. Step, circle, watch. To win, you either had to lunge without warning or catch the other about to lunge and sidestep. […]

This was how we fought. One-on-one, no weapons, no tricks. It was the wolf in us that dictated the rules of battle; the human side would goad us into winning at all costs.

Here’s some great footage with explanations of wolves fighting for dominance at the International Wolf Center:

As you can see, it’s not one-on-one, and there’s not the prolonged, tense, circling behavior. Instead, it’s over very quickly, with little to no injuries at all.

Here’s a pair of dogs dominance fighting in a closer example to the text:

But as you can see, their movements are constrained by the one being on a leash. Here’s an unconstrained dog fight:

But it’s anything but silent, dogs are rather vocal compared to wolves. In fact, the fight reminds me most of this:

So I’m not thinking it’s the wolf bit of them that makes them fight like this, is all I’m saying. Clay wins, and they bundle Cain into the car, pick up some submarine sandwiches, and head back to Stonehaven.

Elena stays upstairs because:

I’m squeamish about torture. Maybe that seems silly, considering how much violence I’d witnessed and participated in during my life.

There’s definitely a difference between what she can dismiss as a fair fight or a fight for her life and torture, though, so I’m glad to see the book recognize it.

Years ago, I went to see Reservoir Dogs with Clay. When it came to the infamous “Stuck in the Middle with You” scene, I covered my eyes and Clay picked up pointers.

I could take yet another point off Elena and Clay’s already negative compatibility score, but I think I’ll instead point out that being squeamish about violence is a stereotypical feminine trait, making this a scene that plays out in any number of teen romance flicks every day: boy and girl go see horror film, boy is keen, girl is squeamish, they make out.

When he tortured a mutt, he was completely methodical, showing no emotion at all.

As opposed to…?

Most people torture for information. Clay did it for instruction. For every mutt he’d maimed and let live, five more would see and take a lesson from it.

That’s not instruction any more than the Mafia sell you insurance.

Of the three experienced mutts in Bear Valley, Zachary Cain was the worst choice for an informant. Any plans Daniel and Marsten had deigned to share with him had since become lost in the empty wasteland of his brain.

Seriously, that level of stupidity isn’t typical. Is Cain supposed to have a mental handicap? Is it the werewolf in him hijacking his ability to think straight when he’s in danger? The text plays it off like he’s just your ordinary below-average intelligence person, but even stupid people can remember the basic outline of the plan they’re signing on board with for a few days. I could probably have phrased this paragraph better, but I’m really getting concerned that Clay is torturing someone who is mentally incapable of giving him information due to a disability, which is really kind of gross.

Cain had joined them because he was seeking “release from tyranny”

he says as he’s being literally tortured for not wanting to join up with the goddamn werewolf Mafia.

[Cain] was “sick of having to watch my fucking back every time I piss the wrong way.” Since the Pack has never taken any interest in the urinary habits of mutts, I assumed he meant that he was fighting for his right to kill humans

Fuck you, Elena! Your Pack literally kills people for being Mutts, tarring them all with the human-killing brush, and then you have the GALL to insist that he’s the evil one because obviously he’s killing humans because he’s a Mutt!

[Daniel] wanted to wipe out the Pack and start his own, probably envisioning some kind of werewolf Mafia

How is the current Pack not a werewolf Mafia?! In 500 words or less.

He’d say anything to save himself from torture, even if it meant condemning his coconspirators to death. The loyalty of a mutt was an inspiring thing to behold.

You racist piece of shit. I suppose it’s better to lie and cover up murders on behalf of your buddies in the Pack?

Then they kill Cain. Then sit around making plans to murder his friends, which puts Elena in a content mood, so she cuddles up and has a nap on Clay.

Fuck. This. Book.

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2 Responses to Bitten: Prisoner (Chapter 19)

  1. Firedrake says:

    These werewolves are supposed to have at least human-level intelligence (though you could have fooled me). Most humans can work out that if they start killing lots of people, that’s going to attract unwelcome attention. But this particular group of rebels hasn’t?

    Dominance fights and death fights are very different things. You more or less have to drive a dog mad to make it try to kill another dog. Surrendering, and responding to surrender, are pretty close to hard-wired: it lets both fighters stay in shape to deal with the next out-species enemy.

    (The smart, human way to fight a werewolf involves a claymore mine laced with silver.)

    And I’m typing all this because of the damn disappearance. Why not just send someone into the bank to talk to Elena (since she’s one of the three non-poor people who don’t have a mobile phone in 2001) and say “hey, there’s a mutt out there, do you mind doing the bait thing for us”? But no, not in this man’s pack.

    And in the real world, most people who torture do it for fun. They know the information’s no good, but they do it anyway.

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for February 27, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

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