Howlings: February 7th 2012

 

A Werewolf Haikuette

It was a slow day
until the moment
a girl bit a wolf

By Marie Marshall

Dread

“He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim.”

Jim sat there and looked at her for just a moment, a moment long enough to convey that he didn’t think she was serious but that he was thinking she possibly could be, that her facial expression in some ways gave her away, told the truth about it all, no holding back, no facetiousness intended.

“You’re serious.”

“Um, yeah. I am. You should ask for another shift. I don’t wanna see something on the news about you being dead and all.” She lifted her drink casually, as if she had just told him that she had decided not to go shopping due to unforeseen circumstances.

Jim looked down at his drink. He suddenly felt tired and wanted to go home. It had been a long night at the warehouse; all those orders he had pulled exhausted him more than usual. Maybe he was just getting old. But at 32? No way. He wasn’t close to that yet. He thought of who she was talking about, the new employee, Ronnie…. Jim couldn’t remember his last name. Not that he ever really knew it to begin with. He had heard the name when the boss of the place mentioned it but now it was in some nether world. Ronnie was enough to remember. And she really thought he was dangerous? Ronnie? The new dude who was as thin as the proverbial toothpick? He couldn’t kill anything, so what made her think he was some monster on the loose?

“Look,” she said, “I know these types. When I first saw him, I could tell. It was those eyes of his, Jim. Have you ever just looked into his eyes for a second? It only takes that long to notice.”

Jim looked up from his drink. “Notice what?”

She set her eyes on his. “That. Did you see what I did?”

Jim frowned but only slightly. “No.”

“Okay,” she sighed, “look at me.”

He took a longer moment than before, staring into her unblinking eyes, then exhaled a held breath. “Damn. You know, I think you’re right. He did seem to have this aura, or something.”

She blinked and said, “Jim, you don’t understand anything. It’s more than some aura he has. It’s something he has inside him.” She leaned closer, staring again. “Do you get what I’m saying?”

Jim nodded and took a long gulp of his drink, then another. “Yeah. Okay, I have to go in tonight but I’ll let the boss know by tomorrow I need another shift. He’ll probably balk but it’s worth a shot. And you better be telling me the truth, Jen.”

Jen smiled over her raised glass. “Oh, I am. Trust me.”

At just before ten p.m. Jim entered the warehouse. He swiped his time card and inserted it into his named slot: MARSDEN, JIM. Looking a few slots above his was Ronnie’s, thus providing Jim the man’s last name: BINKER, RONNIE. Binker? Really? Is that a real name? Jim shrugged and chuckled under his breath, then turned.

“Evening, James.”

Jim felt his heart suddenly race. “Oh, hi there. Didn’t see you behind me.”

Ronnie’s eyes set upon Jim’s. “Well of course not,” Ronnie said flatly. “I was behind you. I’m surprised my presence didn’t alert you, though. The mere presence of a person is many times enough to sense. All those shifting molecules in the air. It’s like a silent entry into some vacuum.” Ronnie released a tiny laugh. “But I’m no scientist.”

Jim chuckled in response, then said, “Yeah, we’re just, you know, warehousers.”

Ronnie’s smile faded, its abrupt absence causing Jim’s heart to race again. “That’s not a word.”

“You know what I mean.”

The two men made their silent way toward their respective stations – Jim’s less than twenty feet from Ronnie’s – and their work began. Orders to be pulled, sorted, boxed, placed on a conveyor belt to another location – it was the same thing over and over, hardly anything different from one night to the next, their hands and arms repeating motions for eight hours broken up by two fifteen-minute breaks and a half-hour lunch. But lunch at three a.m. certainly doesn’t feel like lunch at noon. Especially with a man like Ronnie Binker (is that really his name?) sharing it with you.
“So,” Jim said, poking his voice into a silent three a.m. “lunch”.
“Where did you work before you got here?”

Ronnie finished chewing what was part of a sandwich Jim couldn’t see the contents of. “I didn’t,” he said. “This is my first job.”

Jim frowned but also lifted his brow. “Really?”

“Yeah, really. Is that a problem for you?”

“No, no. It’s just that—”

“What, James? It’s just that what?”

Jim looked down at his pre-prepared Styrofoam cup of soup he had
heated in the break room microwave. “Nothing,” he said, deflated but also irritated; this man was beating him up for no good reason. Maybe Jen was right after all. I should get out of this place fast.

The men finished their “lunches” and returned their personal items their named lockers. As Ronnie closed his locker door he stood and faced Jim head on.

“Do you think I’m strange?” Ronnie asked, his face a blank stare.

Jim swallowed, feeling again his racing heart. “No not at all, why?”

“You’re lying, James.”

“Please, call me Jim. I prefer Jim.”

Ronnie’s stare turned into a steady gaze. “Okay, Jim.  I’ve been wondering about you, you know.”

“Why?” Jim frowned, now more than slightly. This guy has to go. No, I have to go.

“Oh, I don’t know, it just seems you’ve been watching me all night…which now of course is morning. Have you noticed the moon? How perfectly full it is? Have you? JIM?”

Jim wanted to say Yes, I certainly have, Ronnie! but instead he shook his head and made his way nervously back to his named station. He could sense Ronnie walking behind him, even though he couldn’t hear his footsteps. Those molecules. Those damn molecules, all that shifting and—

Suddenly he did hear something and it wasn’t footsteps. Jim pivoted and looked at Ronnie, who now was no longer…Ronnie.

He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim.

By Jeff Callico

A Werewolf’s Justification

I had always believed in love
and forgiving people and grace —
but that wasn’t able to explain
away his inhuman hatred that
cut me into ribbons of sky, I
wanted so badly for him to explain
why he hated me, what I had done
wrong, but he wouldn’t; he just
liked to harass me with his words —

in another life this would have
been wrong, even if my beating
heart knew it was even now; still —
I had to save myself from insanity,
the only way to do that was destroy him;
so I loosed my wolf form, enjoyed the
feel of gravel beneath my paws —
saw him in the yard with another girl,
let out a bloodcurdling roar that terrified

the pair of them; saw nothing but
red, and didn’t stop slicing and snarling
until the yard ran red with blood —
you may call this evil, and maybe it was;
especially to her and her family, but
she was just a causality in my revenge —
I had to do it because it’s a dog eat dog
world and he would have shot the silver
if I hadn’t ripped out his precious throat.

By Linda M. Crate

A Perfect Scream
She used to believe in fairies.  She actually saw one outside her window the day she turned six.  A few weeks later her uncle visited.  His teeth were long and crooked, corn-colored.  He was just an ugly man at first.  Then night came and the fairy was a bald moon behind a hairy beast, slathering, hungry and hurtful.

She used to believe the werewolves lived in a colony by the woods, that she was safe after they moved, but then Mother found a new boyfriend who stayed over.  Lex had hands like a woman, the longest fingernails she’d even seen on a man.  He liked to claw and growl in her ear.  When he was with her mother, she could hear him howling.  She could hear more destruction.

All these years have passed and she’s a true believer in the monster.  They’re everywhere.  Sometimes you see them and don’t know because they just haven’t transformed themselves.  Sometimes you even marry one.

In the apartment, it happens while they make love.  It happens at night and in the morning, especially the mornings, even though the moon’s no more than a smear in the sky.  It happens when she brings him a steaming plate of food and he says, “What’re you trying to do, Bitch, scald me?”

It happens now with the shades drawn so she can’t know if it’s dawn or dusk.  The air is electric and spiced.  His shirt buttons pop off, zinging in the air like Mother of Pearl razors.  His chest heaves, his hair a forest fire of smoke and red.  Saliva glistens off his fangs.  His eyes are two trapped wasps.  “Get to the bedroom,” he snarls.

She does.  She underdresses.  She gets under the covers.  Here she can see the wide smile of the moon through parted blinds.

He gets in, gets on top.  He says, “You’re going to like this.”  Then he asks, “Are you ready?”

She is.  She is.  Her arms come out from under the sides of her pillow in a whoosh.  The stake and the gavel are aimed perfectly.  So is her swing.  So is the beast’s scream–the first, second and last.

By Len Kuntz

A Black Milk Moonlight

A Friday evening for a melancholy baby

(i wait for a night

i wait for a night

i wait for a night

repeat it 1000 times

a change of person

i’m whole in the night

i’m not hurt anymore

repeat it 1000 times

i’m a big girl now forced out

play the jukebox

flesh forest memories in between shadows

in between caught black and white and bongos

go-go blood naked to the night alive in the painhouse)

Projected on the back so far

inside a translucent skull slit stained glass

she knows it’s there

she changes.

She faces the dark

the mist

a rain

no more sleep

He kneels before her

He hates quickly.

Hates her guttural noise.

He hates

The urge that summoned him to her

Her animal sweat smell and

A ricochet of Lycanthropic lust

He tastes iron in his mouth

A mingling with her juice.

Tied together lashed with leather.

Birth of a nation

a strain

a heart emerged from her womb.

He desires her as her eyes turn yellow

As her Mouth extends

As mucous drips from her lips

As her tongue removes his retinas

He’s a tasty treat.

Smiles started in between her legs

she felt the beast rise

the shape shift climax

the hair sprout

the teeth grow long.

she fondled her breasts as they evolved

into milk-laden teats under a mattress of

ebony hair.

Downtown

the moon

cried for her

leather-bound eyes

pissing with pain.

she begged for it

while waiting on the abandoned couch

in the burning church

in the distant woods

between 2 dead trees

A lunar baptism

that she begged for

this change made her complete.

She was only real now in her wolfen orgasm.

the silent rain ran down in reverse

the window’s glass bent breathed slightly

A brief panic she didn’t know

a sweat under her skin

between the air

only as a the beast

did she feel normal.

a musky smell that aroused him as

the black light fluorescent tube hum was caught in his ears

burning flesh smell plasma crash down

the crunching bone

as she slowly fed

felt her real self

born into anger and anguish

she loved it

snakeyes

roll’em,

snakeyes

Razor nails soliloquy

the man cried as she ripped flesh

from muscle

muscle from bone

maroon pleasure fluids

her lips stretched around his entrails

drenched gore plasma delightful smell

she howled

he moaned

as she entered him furiously

twisted caress of his organs

they both enjoyed pain somewhat pleasure

she collapsed on top of him

sweet annihilation

tongued his sex organs

licked his entrails

a moon is gone forever

genetic disturbances disappeared.

her skin was ripped and sore,

the rough fur had vanished

her stare was, as always, vacant with lust

clocks are burning

she hummed as she

hung up his skin tacked to the wall

“bitten multiple times for a strap-on fuck”

Face without eyes next to the other one

next to an old woman

next to mommy

next to daddy

moist trophy skins arranged in a sequence

“let them dry.

political piggies. I’m a big girl now. I love cartilage.”

Taxidermy dance lessons

they’d never come back she detested competition

she walked slowly from one to the other

tongued the flaccid lips

the floppy breasts

thanked them then moved on down the line.

another customer

another taste

another loss

count the

fatalities of consequences

watch what they say

hear what they do

as we’re thrown into the fuckwall

drinking from a trickle in the gutter

ravaged by kisses

left broken naked

parched lips kissing the mirror

she moves forward

stepping over carcasses

beeding like a crazy horse

Another Friday evening for a melancholy baby

By Peter Marra

www.angelferox.com

Madame Malicious and The Most Unlikely of Peers

Madame wouldn’t release him until the autumn.
Something about the chill damp air when the moon was full and high in the sky, cleaved by jagged cloud and mist. I suspected the scenario had something to do with her fetish for all things grey and meaty. It was a private fetish, handcrafted from rusted iron, dripping stone walls, and mirrors. I remember she said once that everyone was weighed down by lust coupled with time and gravity. She understood the equation. “The moon could relieve the pressure,” she’d said, and I believed her. She was all risk, all impulse. A ruby-eyed obsession. I had fallen for her — hard. She was a different kind of problem for me. She was bleach and rat poison — a real palate cleanser. Before I met her, my life was all cheap wine and sleeping pill hangovers. A byline. That was before she became my mistress. Before I enjoyed the musty aroma of her breath and the way she hushed me when I cried out in the darkness.
She said I wasn’t polluted like the others.
The first time I saw her was about a year ago. She’d crept out of the shadows into a luminescent altered state of moonlight and streetlight. She’d bent over — all the way over — and adjusted her stockings. Those legs she had … those legs were purple plush and dripping red skies. In her sport leathers, she cut a handsome figure in the gloaming. She’d met him there, the first of many, on that lonely corner. He waived his cigar around for a while, blew smoke in her face, and then gestured towards the alley like she was a cheap trick. She wasn’t. It all happened so fast, but I caught the look on her face with my camera. Caught the moon in her eyes. She’d seen me. She smiled and touched her throat, and then SNAP! The flash went off, startling him, so he grabbed her elbow and quickly ushered her into the dark. I’d fucked up with the flash, for sure, gave myself away. I thought I would never see her again, so I blew up the photo of her lips — tacked it to the wall in the closet where I liked to touch myself and cut myself with little bits of tin and broken glass.
Somehow, she knew. I photographed her every night after that … until the grey changed.
She’d said she didn’t like to colour outside of the chalk lines, you see, not with crayon, or oil, or blood. She had a signature style, a motive all her own, but of late, a little bit of wanderlust had crept in. That’s what she called it. “It’s something that happens to you, something that overtakes you,” she said. “The Hunger.” It’s what connects us all, and for that reason, she normally liked to eat locally and alone. The remains, those wretched bits of cartilage and bone, she tossed aside for the scavengers like me. She’d evolved, she said. Liked restoring order, and was ever careful, never fearful. That was before, though. Before the other came — from the dark into the light. Before the grey changed to panic and hysteria and chunks of skewered flesh left to rot in the sun. Before the pat-downs and the apologies — and before the inquisition alluded to anyone other than her — it was all scarlet burning and baptisms in the moonlit bay, but now, since the headlines had called them “killings” in the plural — the other’s not hers — the tourists have deserted the streets, leaving the evening’s hidden wonders to those who seek to indulge themselves with electric pitchforks and fluorescent lights.
She left me, cold dawn and wet pavement, with nothing more than a scratch to remember her by. I never told anyone her name. They call that journalistic integrity, but in reality, for all the time she’d spent clawing and gnawing at my flesh,
I’d never thought to ask her what it was.
By Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Bloodletting is Near

the moon shown it’s face,
making him rear his uglier
mask the one he didn’t like
to expose to the world; the
monster that rippled beneath
‘daddy’, ‘husband’, ‘brother’ —
the wolf that tore into the
flesh of lovers, mothers, sisters,
brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles;
he could not think about all
that, not now, it was too overwhelming —
remorse was better left to the dead,
it only haunted the living until
they were bereft of sanity; these
were the last conscious thoughts
before the man flowed into the wolf —
a transition easy as water rippling,
but far more painful; his howls
pierced into the night, the blood
spilled upon the thirsty ground of white
grasses, the thrill and adrenaline ran
wild in the animal’s veins; it had begun.
By Linda M. Crate

Doggy Style

The worst thing about sharing a flat with her is the hair.  From someone who shaves her legs with every bath or shower, plucks the happy trail rising like a Christmas tree to her navel, and has nothing but smears of kohl for eyebrows, it’s a bit of a shock.

She told me when I met her that she had problems once a month, blushing coyly into her margarita as she licked the salt ringing the glass with her long pink tongue and leaving me to presume it was some God-awful woman stuff she was on about.

I wish.

Picking the long, coarse grey hairs from the soap block in its scummy plastic shower dish, I can’t help cursing her.  Loudly.

But she’s still sleeping it off in the bedroom next door.

And another thing – when she’s like this she snores like an elephant farting.  That’s not counting the flatulence either.  Red meat does that to her.  She’s vegetarian the rest of the time, and I’m glad of it.  No guy wants his girlfriend producing odours like that.  Well, I’ve seen some sites, tipsy-typing, y’know?, but it’s not something me or my mates would go for.  Her incense sticks don’t cover much, but it’s a start.

Now for the really fun bit to begin…

Hunt the leftovers.

Sometimes they’re still alive and semi-conscious, which helps.  I just follow the bloody pawprints from the bathroom to whatever cupboard or closet she’s stashed them in for later.  Or if it’s been a big night, out the back door – then I listen.

If they’re moaning, I can get to them quicker.  If not, I check for tufts of hair on the wild roses fringing the field at the back of the communal garden.  Sometimes she leaves tarry black turds midway between the roses and the leftovers.  Then I just keep straight, and follow my nose.  They all shit themselves when she gets them.  I don’t know how she can bear to eat them like that.  But she does.

If the sky is dense with clouds and the leftovers are silent, sometimes I step in them.  It isn’t pretty.  I learnt the hard way not to wear suede out there.

Tonight, however, there’s a whining in the wardrobe, high pitched and annoying.  For fuck’s sake, I just want PEACE!

The door’s not quite closed, there’s a leg in the way.  A shapely one.  And it’s moving.

My pulse quickens and my palms grow moist and sticky.

I’ve always wanted a keeper.

There’s a hammer or baseball bat in every room of the house, for folk breaking in or remains I need to get out.  I don’t want to disturb the neighbours.  It’s a nice area, with decent people and low-enough rents for a slacker like me.

But I don’t need a hammer if I’m right, and Mary’s not got her too bad.  I can watch her turn, help her through… then have a turn, hopefully.  If Hairy Mary lets me.  Sometimes I wonder if, despite her easy going attitude, she’s really as jealous as the rest of them.  It’s always the gorgeous girls that get bit.

Wiping my hands on my pyjamas, I pull the door open and retch.

She might have been a looker once, but now she’s dog-food.  Literally.  Champ from next door is wrestling with something inside her chest cavity.  But why the whining?  Oh, right, I see.  His collar’s caught on the end of a rib.  Fucksake, stupid dog.

Setting him free, I hook my hand under the gory leather strap and huckle him through to the bathroom for a quick rinse.  Nothing fragrant, I don’t want his owners getting suspicious.

A quick rubdown with Mary’s towel – not mine – and he’s good to go.

I turn my back and take a piss, washing a pube into the water with my golden stream.  I yawn, stretch, and let it go hands free.  Who cares about a dribble when there’s blood and hair all over the place?  I’ll get the special mop and some bleach out soon.

I’m tired, and forget about Chump for a minute when I find more coarse grey hair in clumps by the tub.  Yuck.  Picking them up with toilet paper, I hear the bed squeaking rhythmically next door.  Like when we… what the fuck?

Nine weeks later, she’s out the door.  Six puppies that look fuck all like me in the box under her arm.  Chump’s long gone to the great dog pound in the sky.  I log onto the ‘Ah Luv Alopecia Angels’ website for the princely sum of ten pounds an hour, and think of the non-shed wigs on those honeys.

I’m having at it with hand cream and the Dyson’s hose attachment when the police roll up with sniffer dogs.  Uh-oh.

I come, then I go.

Handcuffs aren’t much fun from someone with balls.

By Gill Hoffs

Corpse of Moon Child Bright

when the howling stopped, the
jaws stopped snapping, the zephyr
stopped circulating the strands of
hair wafting through the land there
was silence reverberating off the moon —

laying in a silver stream was a
corpse; her blonde hair looked silver
like a unicorn of the wood, but her
body was mangled worse than surgeries
gone wrong; the wolves tore every

visage of beauty from her face; she
was forever staring at the sky as if it
were something that terrified her, a
haunting that would linger past her
ill-deserved death and into the afterlife.

By Linda M. Crate

Slip This Skin

“Detective Whitmare, do you have any comment on the brutality of the–”
“Was the assailant just one individ–”
“This is the most violent rape that Flagstaff–”
“Will the victim have any permanent brain–”
“Whitmare, is there a public danger of further rapes within the–“Jake let out a scoff at the scene playing on the TV. His leg bouncing a hundred miles a minute, beads of sweat thicker than pus squeezing out of his skin. His thumb impulsively went to his nose.
“There’s no way, no way they’ll find out.”
He shook his head and stretched back on the bed he was sitting on. He looked up at his trailer’s window directly above the pillow and felt a smile twist his face despite of his worries. The window was just a small rectangular slit, and around it his buddy had airbrushed the shape of a woman’s butt, her head peeking around her own hips as if she was bending over. It reminded him of what the Coppertone girl would have looked like if cartoons could grow up and get addicted to coke.It was her fault, Jake thought to himself. She started laughing when he screamed. While she was struggling he had felt a stinging burn in his neck, and then when his hand flinched towards it he felt a raised lump bulging from his skin. It felt like something hard was inside. Then two more hit, one on his hand and one on his thigh. They were still there now–he was too afraid to go to the hospital. Stepping out of the trailer into the isolated Arizona afternoon he unzipped his pants and aimed for some animal hole in the ground. Maybe a snake’s. Maybe a tarantuala’s.
“I used a condom, got an alibi, they got nothing” Jake spoke out loud.
His toilet had been busted since yesterday. When he got home from Jameson’s Charhouse the bowl was filled with rocks and dissolving clumps of dirt, each with strands of red hair wound and tied tightly around it. Curly hair. His hair. Probably some ex’s idea of a joke. Unless the Indian chick had a brother. But nah, the lock wasn’t jimmied. Plus last night, he was woken up by someone banging on the roof of the trailer and from what he heard on the news she couldn’t talk yet by then to tell anyone. Yeah, definitely the ex’s new tool or something. No biggie, just needed to change the locks.”Screw it.”
With a yawn he went inside and flopped on the bed, setting the alarm for midnight. He was going to get some action tonight. The girl at the bar asked to meet him at the graveyard. Kinky. And what a hottie, too. His hand cupped his dick through his sweatpants as he fell asleep. That night, Jake dreamed of a wolf with green eyes, staring at him from the inside of woman’s vagina. He was so small, the woman so large.###Detective Whitmare and Deputy Craigs walked over the crime scene. The Navajo victim had been completely unresponsive when the ambulance took her away–not so much unable to talk as unwilling. She’d just kept repeating “yee naaldlooshii” over and over again.”Noodle sushi, what in the hell does that even mean?” Craigs said, “if you ask me it’s nuthin’ but nonsense.”
“I hope so,” Whitmare responded.
“Hope so, now why would you hope the poor girl was talking nonsense?”
“Because if she said what I thought I was hearing, we may be the wrong people to solve this case.”
“One of those Indian things your mammy taught you again, huh?”
“Yep, one of those.”
“Detective, deputy.”
“What is it sergeant?” Whitmare asked.
“Evidence, sir, condom wrapper.”
“Fingerprints?”
“None.”
“Trace the brand, and then go check Charleston’s pharmacy and see if they can’t give us any help.”###

Cold air and a cold smirk defined the night as Jake pulled his rusty pickup truck into the vacant lot across from the graveyard, out of sight of any passing cars in case things got out of hand again. Did she walk here? He didn’t see her car. That was probably for the best. An open grave lay to his right, the small CAT digger frozen next to a massive mound of dirt.

She wasn’t hard for Jake to spot. He saw pale skin and paler hair in a fluorescent pink tank-top and denim short shorts. Tied around her waist was some type of fur coat, dusky and colored like the desert. She looked like a facsimile of herself, like she dressed how she imagined a girl behaving like this should dress.
“You’re late,” she said in a cracking voice.
“Yeah, sorry Stephanie. Had to stop and get some condoms.” A different brand than last time, just to be safe.
“It’s Stacey.”
“Stacey. Hey, aren’t you cold like that?”
His hand went right for her neck, her skin hot and sweaty to the touch.
“Kiss me” she said, so contrived it could have been in a movie.
The jewlery around her neck looked old and dirty, even muddy. Was that grass in the chain? With their lips pressed his hand crept down to her breast. He pushed in, twisted. Something was wrong. It felt too saggy. He looked down–it looked nice, why did it feel so loose?
“Just kiss me.”
He closed his eyes and just went with it, hands taking off her shirt, going through her dry hair, groping all over in his best porn imitation. His hand back on her naked breast. Squeeze, twist, pull–his eyes snapped open.
“You’ll regret it,” she said through his mouth. He could feel her smile on his lips.
He didn’t stop pulling, the skin around her face stretched. It stretched right off her body. His arm was nearly fully extended and her skin was separating, separating off her body with a tug like coagulated glue. Where her eyes and her mouth should be, instead it looked just like holes punched in latex. He could see a bulbous nose and liver-spotted skin through the gaps. A rancid smell made him choke back vomit.
“What the fuck!”
He dropped the deflated breast, unbelieving. She pulled off the rest; let it fall in a clump on the ground. The inside of the skin was sticky and red, and so was she, standing in front of him.
“She” wasn’t quite right.
A bloated pregnant belly–large sagging breasts, but there was no mistaking what was hanging between Stacey’s, between its legs.
“Jesus fucking Christ!”
It laughed, a bald and furrowed laugh just like its head. Man-eyes and pouty woman-lips stretching across rotting mucus teeth. It bent over abruptly, the sagging wrinkly stomach swinging as it grabbed the fur coat, and in a crouch he watched as it put the wolf head over its face.

If Jake would have stayed and watched, he would have seen the ancient’s skin boil and pop, would have seen the hide of the wolf-pelt respond in the same way, the bubbles exploding and reaching out, magnetic, towards one another like so many sniffing snakes–twisting around each other, twisting the wolf-hide into the aged yellow skin.
But Jake didn’t see any of that.
Jake had already turned and ran.

###

The burrow was unlike anything either officer had ever seen–too organized for an animal and too foul for a human. The night was damp, the grass lime green, and if the smell from the hole was any stronger it would have been visible. Under the police spotlight they could see the clay soil piled around the entrance, it covered them as they slid into it.

The earth inside was damp and looked fresh and unbroken–like it was a natural phenomenon. There were no signs of moving life, of trampling life; pale fleshy sprouts poked and looped in the dirt. It felt like they were walking on the moon.
The skeletons still with pieces of meat on it and the crude table told a different story.

“Grinding the bones up, why the hell?” Craigs asked.
“It’s believed that bones have mystical properties” Whitmare said.
“Mystical? Like what?”
“Like bone-dust having the ability to temporarily paralyze.”
“Or maybe it’s just easier to hide the evidence like that” Craigs said, but put the pestle down all the same. “So what other kinds of things can these Skinwalkers of yours do?”
“They sometimes shoot bone darts from blowguns–they’re said to implant in the skin without leaving any mark of entry.”
“Uh-huh.”
“Also, it’s said that Skinwalkers don’t leave footprints.”
Craigs froze, noticing the ground for the first time.
“Take a look at this, deputy.” Along the side of the burrow, above the table with the pestle, there were photographs stabbed into the wall of dirt with squirrel bones. They were of a young white male, hat turned sideways with a flat brim and long, curly red-hair sticking out underneath. Dozens of them lined the wall, greasy from a lard candle beneath and all taken from odd angles. Pictures of Jake driving. Pictures of Jake eating at the diner. Pictures of Jake taking a leak in the afternoon sun. Pictures of Jake raping a Navajo woman. Pictures of Jake raping other women.
“Jake Vetton, that little prick.”
“Deputy, do we still have any gas left in the emergency tank?”
Craigs didn’t say anything, just shoved his way out of the hole.

The next morning a small brush fire was reported on the news in a small unincorporated area outside of Flagstaff. No one was hurt, and the fire was quickly controlled by two officers who arrived on the scene promptly.

###

When Jake woke he couldn’t feel a thing, couldn’t move a thing either. His body frozen on the night ground, his back over some sort of rocky protrusion–forcing his head to hang upside down, staring at the wheels of his truck. He had almost made it. No, he couldn’t feel. But judging by the way his body was shaking, he could tell his legs were being pulled in jerky movements, and by moving his eyes to the side he could see a pack of animals, were those dogs?, scurrying back and forth around him. A howl broke the movements and then all the dogs followed. Jake began to cry. Not dogs–wolves.

Suddenly an old, dusky wolf head slammed in front of his face. It just stared at him, tongue lolling. It let out a sharp bark–it was laughing, laughing just like that Indian girl! The arms of the Skinwalker–they were arms, there was no mistaking them for legs–pushed down heavily on his chest. So heavily his breathing got harder. It dipped its head and started licking his face, his neck. Its tongue found the bump in his neck from the night before. The Skinwalker bit at the lump. He couldn’t feel it, couldn’t feel anything but the same sort of tugging he felt on his legs–it was the same, Christ it was the same! The Skinwalker’s ripped the lump out, and throwing its head back he gnawed and cracked at it leisurely, like it was a sunflower seed, smacking its black lips.

Jake’s cries were sobs now. With a tremendous force of will he pushed with his neck–a spasm of neon pain–but it did the trick, he propped his head upright on the rock, looking down at his body. He wished he hadn’t. Three wolves were gnawing at his legs; they were almost stripped to the bone. His blood was soaking the mud. He began to feel woozy. The Skinwalker circled around and joined the wolves. Its strong jaws locked below his kneecap, yanking hard at his tibia the sinews connecting it were stretching, stretching, and then–a snap.

By Mike Joyce

Banker’s Hours

Debbie stumbled from the bar into the night.  She hadn’t gotten drunk there.  Buckley, the bartender, had seen to that.  He had told her that she’d never pass for 21 as long as she kept wearing “her pretty blond hair” in pigtails.  She thought he might be right, but at 18, she had certainly developed the body to pass for legal drinking age and all the men in town had been quick enough to point out that she was old enough for other things.  She decided that in a town this small it didn’t matter how she wore her hair, everyone knew her age and the Sheriff had made it pretty plain that anyone caught serving her alcohol would pay dearly.  That might have had something to do with the fact that he was her uncle.

Debbie mulled all this over while she stepped into an alley to throw up.  Bradford at the liquor store used to give her bottles of the cheap stuff if she’d flash him.  He was only a little older than she was and not very popular with the girls in town, so she felt like she was doing him a favor giving “the nerd” something to dream about all weekend.  The cheap stuff didn’t sit well with her at all and she threw up again.

As she wiped the mess from her mouth Debbie heard a snarling noise from deep within the darkness of the alley.  She slowly crept toward the noise to get a closer look.  In her stupor she couldn’t be sure of what she saw, but it seemed to be as big as a bear and it was rummaging through trash cans like a raccoon.

“Hey, puppy,” she said with a giddy lilt to her voice.

Suddenly, two bright yellow eyes were staring right through her.  The creature let out a low growl and she could see that it had tremendous teeth.  Debbie screamed and ran toward the street.  The monstrous figure followed her.  She could feel its breath on her neck and she knew she’d never outrun it.  She ducked behind a heavy green dumpster and hoped that it wouldn’t be able to reach her.

She screamed as a long hairy arm with sharp claws at the end of it reached in and slashed at her in the dark.  She could hear the creature panting and snarling.  All she could see of it was a massive shadow, shaped not quite like a man, but not like an animal.

Finally, Debbie’s mind caught up to the situation and she pulled out her phone.  She hit a speed dial button and a voice answered, “Sheriff’s office.”

“Phyllis,” Debbie said hurriedly, “Get me Uncle Mack!  I’m in trouble, near Buckley’s bar!”

Her uncle’s voice boomed back at her through the phone. “Did that son of a bitch serve you again?”

“Uncle Mack,” Debbie pleaded.  “Please, come get me.  A monster.  A monster is trying to kill me!”

“Dam it!” her uncle admonished her.  “You are drunk.”

“Please, Uncle Mack.  Come and get me.  Please.”  She began sobbing.

“I’m sorry, Debbie.  But your Dad is going to have to handle this one.  I’ve cleaned up enough of your messes.”

He hung up and all she could hear was the dial tone.  The creature had stopped trying to reach her.  It wasn’t snarling or panting anymore.  She thought something must’ve scared it off.  She knew she was wrong when the dumpster flew into the air and landed at the edge of the alley with a thud.  Debbie never got a clear look at the creature before it spilled her intestines onto the pavement and carried her carcass away to feed upon it.

***

            Tony sat nervously in the small, old fashioned café.  He had chosen a booth near the window so he could watch the street.  His hands clutched his coffee cup as he continually craned his neck to get a better view of the street outside.  The town of Canderville looked like it had stopped developing in the 1950s.  More accurately it looked like it had been built to shoot a 1950s era movie.  All of the buildings were old in design, but they were as clean as if they had just been erected.  The streets were littered with perfectly restored old cars from America’s past.  In fact, even the few newer cars that were scattered around the street were all built by the “Big Three”.  There wasn’t a foreign car in the bunch.  The streets were wide and there were clocks mounted to the sides of each corner building.  Tony figured the word for it was “quaint”.

In contrast, Tony was the epitome of a modern man.  His clothes were custom tailored, his hair a bit unruly and his phone was smart.  The large device sat next to his coffee cup on the table.  Tony glanced down at it to make sure he hadn’t missed a text.  He hadn’t.  Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.  He turned in surprise to see an older gentleman with graying temples and broad shoulders looking down at him.

“Hey, Jack,” Tony said with a little surprise.  “I didn’t see you come in.”

Jack nodded toward the other side of the café.

“Backdoor,” he said as he took a seat.  “Why so nervous, Tony?”
Tony checked the street again. “Isn’t Ron coming?”

“We drove in separately.  You know how it is when you’re on parole.  You attract less attention when you’re not seen with the fellas you used to work with.”

Tony nodded as he continued to look out the window.

“It was a long drive, Tony,” Jack said.  “I assume there’s a reason you wanted to meet us all the way up here.”
“Ya,” Tony said.  He gave no further explanation.

Jack rolled his eyes. He glanced outside the café window at the street and there was no sign of Ron.  “Well can you tell me what it’s all about or do we have to wait for Ron?”

Tony quickly glanced around the café to be sure nobody was watching.  Then, keeping his hand close to the table, he pointed across the street.  He hid his hand quickly as the waitress approached the table.

“Can I get you something?” she asked Jack with a smile.

He found her blue eyes and red hair very attractive.  He wasn’t sure if her haircut and make-up were part of the café’s design or if she just hadn’t picked up a fashion magazine in 60 years.  Of course, that would mean she hadn’t seen one since well before she was born.

“Just coffee,” Jack said as he turned over the cup that was in front him on a saucer.

He read her nametag as she poured from the pot that she had brought with her.

“Thanks, Jean,” he said with a wink.

“You’re very welcome,” she smiled back.

He watched her walk away and then turned back to Tony.

“Sorry, I was distracted.  What were you pointing at?”  He glanced out the window.  “That bank across the street?”

Tony put his finger over his mouth.

“Would you keep it down?” he pleaded.

Just then Ron slid into the seat next to Jack.

“So, are we here about that little bank across the street?” he blurted out.

Tony cringed.

Ron turned to Jack, “Did you see that redheaded waitress?”

“Sure did.  If I was 15 years younger…”
“I’m 15 years younger,” Ron said with a smile.  “So is Tony, but I doubt a nervous guy like him even noticed her.”

Tony looked over and saw Ron’s ridiculously white teeth shining back at him.  His blond hair and white teeth were in stark contrast with his tanning bed complexion.

Jean came to the table and poured Ron a cup of coffee.

“Thanks, Doll,” he said.

“If there’s nothing else…” she responded with an uninterested look.

“That’ll be fine for now,” Jack replied.  “Excuse my friend.  He’s never seen a woman before.”

Jean let a smile slip past her stern look and walked back toward the counter.

“If you two are done flirting,” Tony said, “I’d like to discuss business.”

“Look,” Jack said, “I don’t know about you two, but I’ve gone straight.  I’m not interested in this kind of thing anymore.”

“It’s a honey of a deal,” Tony said.  “A real pushover.”

“It would have to be to interest you, Tony,” Ron quipped.  “But I’m with Jack.  My used car lot is doing a booming business and I’m not looking to shake that up.”

“I can’t believe people buy cars from you,” Jack said.

“I’ve got an honest face,” Ron replied with a tremendous grin.  “And I let people with bad credit finance through me.”
“Don’t they default?” Jack said.

“Of course, but not until after they’ve made months of payments at staggering interest.  They’ve paid almost full price by the time we repossess it.”
“How often to you have to repossess?”

“About 99 percent of the time.  I’ve been selling the same 20 cars for two years now.”

“Good god!” Tony shouted.  “Can we just talk about the damn bank now!”

The entire café went silent and the trio felt all eyes upon them.  To Tony it seemed to last forever.

“Calm down, buddy,” Jack said patting Tony’s hand.  “Tell us about it.  Quietly.”

Tony turned and smiled at the people at the table next to them.  He turned back to Jack and Ron and leaned in to whisper to them.

“Look at it, boys,” he said.  “It’s a golden goose.”

‘           “I was checking it out before I came over here,” Ron said.  “Looks like any standard bank to me.  Huge vault, alarm system, silent buttons and a guard.”

“A guard during the day,” Tony whispered.

“Surely locked up tighter than a drum at night,” Jack said.

“And hardly worth the effort in a town this small,” Ron added.

“You’re both wrong,” Tony said.  He turned to Ron. “Did you notice anything about the vault?  Anything unusual by today’s standards?”

Ron thought about it for a moment and then whispered back, “No time lock.”

Tony tapped the tip of his nose and leaned back in his chair.

“Look, Tony,” Jack said, “I know it’s tough straightening out after spending some time inside, but you’re only 35.  You’ve got time to do your life  right.  Get married, have some kids, buy a house.  You don’t need to risk another ten years on a few grand from some little bank.”

“What about two hundred grand?” Tony whispered.

“Cash?  In that little bank?  All at once?” Jack stammered each question.

“You passed all that construction on the way up here?  The city payroll goes through that bank every two weeks.”

“And the alarm?” Ron asked.

“Once a month the bank manager and his son spend the night there balancing the books.  Alone.”

“Oh c’mon!” Jack exclaimed in disbelief.

“And let me guess,” Ron said. “Sometime soon these two events coincide.”

“Tomorrow night.  For the first time since I found the place.”

Jack smiled.  He waved his hand in the air to get Jean’s attention.  “Three Cheeseburgers, the works and some great big chocolate shakes!”

“You boys celebrating something?” Jean asked.

            “I just found out I’ll be getting my pension after all,” Jack smiled.

The next night the trio was sitting in a car across the street from the bank.  Tony’s fingers nervously drummed the huge steering wheel of the 1974 Ford Torino.  Ron was in the front seat next to him and Jack was in the backseat leaning forward to look out the front window.

“Relax, Tony,” Ron reprimanded.  “You draw more attention than a topless chick at Spring Break.”

“He’s right, Tony,” Jack added, “but when do we hit this place?”

“We’ll walk in right behind the dopes as soon as they return and unlock the door,” Tony explained.  He glanced up and down the street. “I just wish it was darker.  It’s nearly 8 o’clock.  Why isn’t dark yet?”

“Southern summer nights,” Jack smiled.

Just then, a red Chevy Nomad wagon pulled up to the curb outside of the bank.  The trio watched as Brad, a short middle-aged man with grey hair and a bit of a paunch, stepped out of the driver’s side and walked around to open the passenger door for his son, Taylor.  Taylor was a fit young man of about 19 years.  He was taller than his father and had a thin, but muscular frame.  Ron immediately noticed that the young man looked sick.

“What’s wrong with him?” he uttered as he watched Taylor stagger from the car clutching his stomach.

Brad slung his son’s arm over his shoulder and helped the boy walk to the front door of the bank.  Tony reached for the door handle and got ready to exit the car.  Brad slid a keycard into a panel on the front door of the bank.  He then punched in a lengthy number code.

Just as Tony was about to open the door to the car Jack dropped his hand down onto his shoulder and pushed him back into the driver’s seat.  “Hold it.”

They watched as Brad looked back to the car and slipped out from under Taylor’s arm.  The young boy leaned against wall of the bank.  Brad headed back toward the old car.

“He forgot something,” Jack explained.  “If we hit them now we risk the Dad sending out the alarm.  We need to get them both right at the door.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Ron said as Taylor pushed the door open and stumbled inside.  “At least it doesn’t look like the kid is going to put up much of a fight.”

“It’s weird,” Tony interjected.  “That kid plays football for the local college.  He’s a regular athlete.  The picture of health and yet whenever I see him here he looks ready to drop on the spot.”

“Maybe he’s a drinker,” Ron said.  “Whatever it is, it’ll make him easy prey.”

“Let’s hit it,” Jack commanded as Brad rushed back to the door with a briefcase in his hand.

The three men burst from the car and rushed up behind Brad just as he finished punching in the code for the door.  Jack was the first one on him.  The experienced criminal thrust the barrel of a snub-nose .38 revolver into the small of Brad’s back.

“Just step inside,” Jack insisted through gritted teeth.

“Y-you don’t understand,” Brad stuttered.

Jack jabbed the gun deeper into his back and Brad reluctantly complied.  In seconds they were all inside and Ron was pulling the security door closed behind them.  They were standing in a foyer staring at another set of double glass doors.

“Open it!” Tony shouted.

Brad shook his head in defiance. The group looked up and saw Taylor sitting on a desk clutching his stomach.

“Crap!” Ron shouted.  “He’ll trip the alarm!”

“The hell he will!” Tony said. He swung his long trench coat to the side revealing a double barrell12 gauge shotgun.  The barrels were short, but not sawn down.  With it’s oak grips and flat black barrels it resembled an Old West coach gun.  He leveled the gun squarely at Taylor’s head.  The young man didn’t seem to notice. “He makes a move toward that alarm button and I’ll blow his head off.”

“It’s bullet proof glass,” Brad said with a smirk.  “Your shot will just attract attention.”

“Damn it, Tony!” Ron shouted.  “Did you case this place at all?”

“You checked it out!” Tony said.  “You didn’t know about the bullet proof doors!”

“Why don’t you gentlemen just leave and we’ll forget this every happened,” Brad suggested.

They stared at him in disbelief.  Before anyone could speak Taylor fell to the floor and began to convulse.

“Damn it!” Brad shouted.  He slid his keycard into another panel, punched in another series of random numbers and burst into the bank lobby.  The three confused robbers followed closely behind him.

“Ron, disconnect the alarm!” Jack shouted.  “You,” he poked at Brad who was crouching next to his son, “open the vault!”

“Yes,” Brad said.  “We have to open the vault now!”

He led Tony and Jack into a small alcove where a tremendous steel door enclosed the vault.  Ron leapt over the teller counters with a tool bag in hand.  Taylor was on the floor twitching and screaming in pain.  Foam was bursting from his mouth.

Ron’s head popped up from behind the counter. “Alarm’s dead!” he reported.

Jack loomed over Brad.  “Open the vault.”

The nervous banker felt his pockets desperately.  He was sweating and trembling.  He looked over at his son who was tearing the clothes from his body.

“Oh no,” Brad said.  He glanced over toward Taylor.  “It’s happening so soon!  So fast!  Faster every time!”

“Open the vault!” Tony insisted.

“I can’t,” Brad said.  “I need my keycard!”

“Well where is it?” Jack screamed.

Brad pointed to floor near his writhing son.  The keycard was lying in a puddle of foamy drool.  Jack grunted and charged to grab the precious card.  As he crouched down Taylor looked up at him and roared.  His eyes were bright yellow and hair was bursting forth from his neck and arms.

“What the hell is wrong with this kid?” Jack shouted as he reached for the card.

Before there was an answer Taylor swung his arm and sent Jack flying across the room.  The large man crashed through some grey cubicle walls and sunk unconscious behind a desk.

“It’s too late!” Brad shouted as he pulled a jail cell-like door closed between the alcove and the lobby.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Tony said, pointing both barrels of the shotgun at the terrified banker.

“Can’t you see what he is?  It’s too late to get him into the vault!  I just hope the bank can hold him.”

Ron and Tony watched in terror as Taylor stood straight and tall.  His now naked body quivered as his legs and arms extended and his neck stretched and contorted. Long claws burst from his hands and feet and fur grew on his body at an incredible rate. The boy’s face elongated and blood poured from his mouth as his teeth tumbled from his gums, pushed out by long, sharp fangs.  In moments a tremendous wolf, standing like a man, was looming in the center of the dark lobby where Taylor once stood.  The creature was so large that his head nearly touched the low ceilings of the bank.

Ron let out a weak gasp as he sunk behind the counter and hoped that the creature would forget that he was there.

“This can’t be happening!” Tony shouted.  “It was going to be such an easy job!”

His cries drew the attention of the wolf.  It turned in a flash and charged at them, hitting the metal bars with a loud clang.  Tony and Brad stepped back as far they could. They shrunk against the cold metal door of the vault.  The alcove wasn’t very big and the wolf’s arm was long and lean.  The beast leaned in and thrashed its claw at them furiously, snarling as it slashed at them.  Finally, Tony screamed and raised the shotgun.

“No!” Brad shouted.

Tony fired both barrels.  The beast yelped in pain as it flew backwards across the room.  Blood hit the bars.  The wolf slammed into the floor with a loud thud.  Brad turned and struck Tony in the face with his fist.  Tony fell to the floor.  He looked up and pointed the empty gun at Brad.

“You killed my son,” Brad shouted.

“That was not your son!” Tony said.

They heard a cheer of joy from the lobby and looked to see Ron climbing out over the counters.  “You got him, Tony boy!  Nice shot.”

Brad was sobbing.  Tony climbed to his feet and pushed against the iron bars.

“Get us out of here,” he said to Brad.  “Hey!” he shouted shaking the crying man.  “Open this thing.”

“I need the keycard,” Brad managed to choke out.

“Got it!” Ron reported as he headed over to where the card lay on the wet carpet.  He bent down, picked up the card and jogged over to the iron door.  “So, do I just slide it into here?”

Brad and Tony stood silent.

“Hey!” Ron said.  “Do I need a code or something?  You guys want out or what?”  Fear washed over him as he watched Tony’s finger rise and point to something in the bank lobby.  Ron heard a snort.  He slowly turned his head and saw the tremendous animal standing a bit unsteadily behind him.  “Oh my God!”  Ron began sliding the card furiously.  The panel kept flashing red and beeping at him.  “What am I doing wrong?  What am I doing wrong?”

Tony fumbled with his shotgun.  He breached the barrels and pulled out the empty shells.  He struggled to pull new shells from his coat pockets.

“That won’t do you any good,” Brad said.  “Look.”

They watched in horror as the wounds in the wolf’s chest sealed themselves shut.  The creature got steady on its feet and howled in triumph.

“It’s true,” Brad whispered.  “You need silver to kill the wolf.”

“Let me in!” Ron shouted swiping the card again.

“You need the code,” Brad smiled.

“What’s the code?” Ron pleaded.

Brad stared back him coldly and shook his head.

Suddenly Ron was torn from his feet.  He dangled in the air just a few feet in front of them as the wolf stared up at him and sized up its prey.  Then, with a lightning fast strike of his jaws Ron’s throat was torn out.  His body fell to the floor and the beast discarded his head with a toss.  It bounced over the teller counter and disappeared.  The wolf fell upon the headless corpse and fed furiously upon Ron’s insides.

Tony pushed Brad against the bars of the iron door.

“You let that thing kill my friend!” he accused the little man.

“If I had let your friend in we’d all be dead.”
”You were just trying to save your son!”

“From what? You and that shotgun?  You can’t hurt him.  You saw that.”

“He bled.  If we hit him hard enough, fast enough, with enough fire power, we’ll hurt him.”

“And how do you propose to do that with 2 barrels of buckshot?”

“Help will come.  Someone must have heard all of that screaming and howling.”

“Once we got inside those bullet proof doors we pretty much entered a soundproof environment too.”

Tony took a step back and Brad rubbed his bruised chest.  He smiled at the defeated criminal.  He looked out and watched as the wolf that was once his son continued to tear Ron’s body to pieces.  “It’s actually sort of beautiful, isn’t it?”

Tony snorted and slid to the floor with his back against the vault door.  He looked down at the shotgun and then at the iron bars.  “Do you think those bars will keep him out?”

“I don’t know.  There are claw marks and dents on the inside of that vault door that probably would have mangled these little, old fashioned bars.  That vault is some kind of new fangled alloy.  These bars are just iron.”

“I can keep him off the bars awhile with this.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a headshot in.”
“Maybe.”  Brad turned and smiled at him.  “Just don’t panic.”

The wolf finished making a meal of Ron.  It almost sounded like it was purring as it sat back on the blood stained carpet and looked at the gore covered bones.

“Maybe he’s full,” Tony said hopefully.

The wolf’s head shot around and it looked back at the two men in the alcove.

“I don’t think so,” Brad said.  “Better get that gun ready.”

Tony leapt to his feet and watched as the huge creature charged the bars.  He fired desperately in an attempt to stop the attack.  The pellets ripped into the wolf’s shoulder.  The beast barely stumbled from the shock and its huge body impacted the bars hard enough to shake them within the concrete wall.  It reached in through the bars and grabbed Tony by the throat.

He felt the claw crushing around his neck.  He couldn’t breath.  Water gushed from his eyes and his ears felt like they would explode.  Tony knew he’d blackout any moment.  He clumsily struggled to get the barrels of the gun under the wolf’s chin.  In desperation he fired the remaining shell and the wolf stumbled backwards and fell to the floor.

Tony dropped to the carpet clutching his injured throat.  He coughed and gagged struggling to get air.  He looked over at the mass of fur on the floor.

“Ha!” he croaked out in a raspy voice as he climbed to his feet, using the vault door to steady himself. “That got him.  Right in the chin!  Let’s see him recover from that!”

The wolf twitched.  Its chest began to rise and lower in short, deliberate breaths.

“How?” Tony cried.

Brad looked through the bars and scratched his head.  “Lots of thick muscle and bone to go through I guess.  You just can’t do enough damage fast enough.”

“We’ll see about that,” Tony said, reloading the gun once again.

“How many of those you got left?”

“Three,” Tony said thoughtfully.

“Three?  Who carries an odd number of shells for a double barrel gun?”
“What?”

“It’s just strange.  I think it’s strange.”

Tony reloaded the gun and stumbled back to the bars.  He took aim and fired again with both barrels just as the wolf was attempting to get to its feet.  The creature fell to the floor with a grunt.

“Hit it in the same spot?” Brad asked rubbing his ears.

“What?”

“I figure if you’re trying to keep its wounds from healing until it dies you need to hit the same wounds.  In general, at least.  I’m not really sure how it works.”

Tony loaded his last shell.

The wolf turned onto its stomach and struggled to get to its feet.  Tony took aim.

“Last shot,” Brad smirked.  “Make it count.”

Tony looked at the gun and backed away to the cold door of the vault.  Brad checked his watch.

“It’s nearly ten o’clock.  Only eight hours to go.”

The hours went by and periodically the wolf would rush the bars and thrust one hairy arm into the alcove trying to get a grip on Tony or Brad.  Each time the iron bars would bend a bit more.  The framework would wiggle further from the concrete wall.  Tony struggled to contain his urge to fire the gun and end the assault for just a few minutes.  He figured his only chance would be to wait and see if the beast broke through the bars and then let loose with the last shell right into the monster’s gaping mouth.  With each attack it became more and more difficult not to fire.

It was close to midnight and the two men were staring at the wolf that sat just a few yards away.  It was picking at the bones of Ron’s leftovers.  Brad checked his watch.

“You keep checking the time,” Tony observed.  “It can’t be near 6 AM yet.  What’s the point?”

The wolf seemed to flick its ears at the question.  It stopped its chewing and slowed its breathing.

“Nothing,” Brad said.  “Just counting down the minutes.”

A groan echoed through the lobby. The wolf dropped its chew bone, and slowly got to its feet. Its nose twitched as it searched the air for a sign of food.  All fell silent when Jack’s voice filled the air.

“Tony, Ron?  What the hell happened?” Jack called out.

The wolf greedily snarled and crouched down to ready for an attack.

Jack pushed the cubicle walls to the side and gasped when he saw the massive ball of muscles and fur charging toward him.  Without a thought he raised his revolver and fired, emptying it into the monster’s chest.  It stumbled, fell and slid into a heap at his feet.  He looked down at the still body of the wolf, lightly kicked it in the ribs and watched as there was no reaction.  He stepped over the bloody mass and let the shells from his gun drop to the floor as he walked toward the alcove.  He slipped in the pile of bones and muck that used to be Ron.  Jack glanced down and continued his walk to where Tony was behind the bars.

“The keycard!” Tony shouted.  “Get it quick.”
“Sure,” Jack said with a bit of confusion in his voice.  “Where’s Ron?” He bent down and picked up the keycard that had been sitting just short of Tony’s reach.  “And what the hell is that mess over there?”  He pointed to the pile of bones.

“Never mind,” Tony demanded.  “Open this door and let’s get the hell out of here.”

Jack slid the card.  “Did you see that freaky guard dog?  It was huge!”

He stared at the keypad. “I need the code.”

Tony pointed the gun at Brad.

“Not a good idea,” Brad said.

“This is our chance to get out of here!” Tony shouted.

“Hey, Tony, did you see the way I blasted that mutant mutt?” Jack snickered.

Brad pointed through the bars and Jack heard a snort behind him.  He turned to see the giant wolf looming over him.

“How in the He—“. He was cut off when the wolf backhanded him and sent him tumbling across the room.

It charged at him again.  This time, with his gun empty, Jack was forced to improvise. He scrambled to his feet and grabbed one of the stands used to hold the velvet rope for the bank line.  He held the metal post out in front of him like a battering ram and struck the charging animal’s chest with it.  As he made his attack he also stepped to one side and the wolf tumbled through an office door with a crash.

Jack ran toward the iron barred door.  “What the hell is that thing?” He swiped the card.  Brad reached through the bars and punched in some numbers.  Jack clutched the bars and tugged, but the door didn’t open.  Brad snatched the card from his hand.

“Hey!” Jack shouted.

“Oops,” Brad said.  “Wrong code.”

They could hear wood cracking and metal bending as the wolf went on a rampage in the office.  A desk shot through a plaster wall and crashed into some potted trees near the front doors.  Jack frantically used a speed loader to get his .38 ready again.  With a howl the wolf crashed through what remained of the plaster wall and turned to face Jack.

The experienced gunman took careful aim and fired all five rounds from his small weapon directly into the beast’s head.

“Yee-haw!” Tony shouted.  “Right between the eyes!”

Jack let the empty shells fall to the floor.  He glanced up at Tony.  “Does it make a difference with that thing?”  In a moment he was loaded again.

“I think so,” Tony said.  “The shots hurt it, but it heals fast.  Really fast.  Maybe if you destroyed its brain…”

Jack thrust his brawny arm through the bars and grabbed Brad’s collar.  He pulled the small man against the bars so quickly that Brad’s nose exploded with blood from the impact.  Jack shoved the gun into his ribs.  The barrel was still hot from all of the firing and it burnt Brad’s stomach.

“Now, how about the right code?” Jack demanded.

Brad checked his watch.  He nodded his head and slid the card through the reader.  Then he quickly punched in some numbers.

Jack swung the bars open and grabbed Brad once again and tossed him to the floor.  Tony stepped out and all eyes turned to the massive creature lying on the floor.

“Don’t they change back when they’re dead?” Tony asked.

“Who am I, Lon Chaney?” Jack said.  “How would I know?”  He trained his gun on the bloody wolf.  “Let’s just get out of here fast in case it’s not dead.”

Tony nodded and grabbed Brad by the collar lifting him to his feet.  Brad desperately glanced back at his briefcase, but Tony was dragging him toward the door before he could get a hold of it.

“Open the doors!” Tony insisted.

“No,” Brad said.  “We’d be letting it out.”

“We’d be getting out!” Jack said.  “We’ll lock it in behind us.”
“I don’t think these doors will do it,” Brad said.  “We’ve got to get Taylor into the vault.”

“Taylor?” Tony said.  “You’re still calling that thing Taylor?  That is not your son!” He pointed to the still lying hulk on the floor.

“Besides, whatever it is, it’s dead,” Jack pointed out.  “Look at it!”

“Then what’s the harm in moving it?” Brad said exasperated. “To give an old man some solace.”

Tony and Jack shot glances at each other.  They both shrugged.
“Easier than beating the code out of him,” Jack pointed out.
He and Tony walked over to the body of the wolf on the floor.  Each grabbed a portion of bloody mess of fur.  It seemed to weigh a ton and the best the two men could do was lift part of it and drag the rest across the blood soaked carpet.

“This thing do that to Ron?” Jack said breathlessly, nodding his head toward the gnawed bones in the center of the lobby.

Tony nodded.

“Well,” Jack called back to Brad, “get this big dang vault door open.”

Brad rushed over with his keycard at the ready.  He slid it through the reader and quickly punched in the code.  Clicks and clangs of moving parts could be heard from inside of the vault.  The mechanisms moved frantically as they all worked to release the many cogs and locks on the huge door.  Then with a hiss of air that shook the walls around it, the door slowly creaked open.  Brad leaned against it to shift the weight and the tremendous metallic door glided open.  They could see the scratches and dents that Brad had mentioned to Tony earlier.

“I’ve had a heck of a time explaining those to the staff,” Brad said. “I told most of them I was moving a heavy load of coins with a pallet jack and it got away from me.  People will believe anything…except this.”  He pointed to the wolf the men were holding.

Jack looked at Tony and nodded.  The two men let go of their load and let the wolf slump to the ground.  They charged into the vault and began grabbing stacks of cash and shoving them into their pockets.

“What the hell are you doing?” Brad shouted as he rushed to grab the wolf and began to drag it into the vault on his own.

“You don’t think we really cared about your ‘solace’,” Jack taunted.

Brad was desperately struggling with the bulk of the wolf’s body as he tried to drag it into the vault.  Jack and Tony easily slipped past him.  They ran out of the vault and watched as he managed to roll the huge lump of fur just inside of the bank vault.  The last roll caused a loud sigh to emit from the creature.

Jack and Tony looked at each other.  They grabbed Brad by the collar and  yanked him from the vault.  Jack then shouldered the giant door closed just as the wolf began to lift itself up.

The door clanged shut and the locks began to automatically engage.  Tony snatched the keycard from Brad’s pocket and shoved him back against the vault door.  Then he and Jack left the alcove and locked Brad inside.

“You still need the code to get out,” Brad said.

“You get the code?” Jack asked Tony.

“I’ve seen him do it two or three times now,” Tony said.  “I think I got it.”

They headed to the door.  Before they reached it a loud clang echoed from inside the vault.  They turned to look and saw Brad looking back at the vault in terror.

“I’m not sure it will hold him this time,” Brad said.  “Please, you can’t leave me locked in here with him!”

“It’s always held him before, right?” Tony said.

“Every time we got him inside in time,” Brad said.

“How long has this been going on?” Jack asked.

Another loud echo burst out from the vault.  This time plaster fell from the ceiling and the whole building seemed to shake.

“Please!” Brad shouted.  “At least give me my briefcase!”

The vault door shook.  Tony rushed to the front doors.  He punched in the code.  Nothing happened.

“I thought you knew it!” Jack shouted.

“I do!” Tony insisted. “I’m just nervous.”

The vault door shook again and this time the center of it bulged.  One of the embedded hinges became visible as concrete surrounding the door fell to the floor.

“He’s coming!” Brad shouted.  “Please, my briefcase!”

“What is so dammed important about your briefcase?” Jack asked.

Brad checked his watch.  “It’s nearly 12:30.  I have to be ready.  I may have to kill him!”

“What happens at 12:30?” Jack said.

Just then a buzzer rang.  All eyes turned to the front doors and Jean was standing outside on the street with a cardboard tray full of cups.

“Every time we do this Jean brings us coffee at 12:30,” Brad said meekly.

The door shook again.

“He’s so much stronger,” Brad observed.  “He’s never been this strong.  Maybe it’s because he fed this time.”

Tony watched in amazement as Jean swiped her own card in the door outside.  She casually punched in the code.

“You gave the waitress the code?” Tony said incredulously.

“I trust her,” Brad said.  “Now, please, let me out of here.”

Jack reached out his hand for the card.  Tony reluctantly handed it over.  Jean stepped into the foyer.  She stopped in shock as the mess inside of the bank came into view.  She could still only see mostly shadows through the glass, but it was evident there was movement inside and that something terrible had happened.  At the same time she swiped her card for the interior doors Brad handed Jack the card and the banker unlocked the cage-like door.

Tony grabbed Jean and covered her mouth the instant she stepped inside.  Brad ran from the alcove just as the vault door crashed to the floor.  The wolf burst out into the lobby.  Brad jumped back into the safety of the alcove and closed the bars behind him.  Jack scuttled behind a desk and crouched quietly.  Tony pulled Jean behind the teller counters and kept his hand over her mouth.

The wolf immediately turned back to the most obvious target.  Brad stood staring at him from behind the bars.  He backed into the now gaping vault.  His only hope now was to keep the monster’s attention until Jean could get away or the sun came up.  He didn’t have much confidence in being able to accomplish the second.

The wolf skulked over to the bars.  It stared in at Brad and snarled.

“Now, Taylor,” Brad stuttered.  “It’s me.  Your Dad.  I love you, Son.”

The wolf roared and reached through the bars at him.   It looked at the vault door on the floor and growled in disapproval.

“Now, son, I only did that to keep you safe and protect the town.  If they had found out about you they would have killed you.  And remember how upset you were about killing that girl?”

Jean didn’t know what was going on, but she knew she was tired of being manhandled by this stranger.  This guy was a lousy tipper the day before and he had lousy manners now. Jean bit down on Tony’s hand and the man let out a scream.

The wolf backed away from the bars and slowly turned to look in the direction of the noise.  Tony knew he had given his hiding place away.  In an act of desperation he charged out from behind the counter and fired his last blast into the wolf as it ran toward him.  This time the shot hardly even registered with the beast and it crashed into the shatter proof doors with Tony in its clutches.  The glass became a crimson mosaic as the wolf tore at Tony with its massive claws and 6 inch long fangs.  His screams soon turned to gurgling and Jean watched in horror from her hiding place within the shadows of the clerks’ counter.

Brad listened desperately as the sound of the wolf’s feeding died down.  He hoped Jean was okay and that he could still keep the wolf’s attention long enough for her to get away.  As the room became silent he shook the bars furiously and shouted.

“Hey!  You still hungry you little bastard!”

The wolf grunted and turned back to Brad.  It charged over and growled at him through the bars.

“Maybe bastard was a strong word,” Brad said meekly. “Actually, your mom and I were very happy to have you.”

The wolf looked at him thoughtfully.  Brad thought he could see some recognition in its eyes.  Maybe even a calmness at the mention of Taylor’s mother.

“She so wanted to see you,” Brad said.  “I never should have taken her camping when she was seven months pregnant, but that trip was a tradition with us and we thought the camper would be fine.”

The wolf sat back on its haunches as it listened attentively to Brad’s voice.  As the man spoke his voice became more steady.  More calm.  More soothing.  He noticed the effect on the wolf and so continued the story.

“We were having a good time.  Fishing and telling stories around the campfire.  We named you on that trip.”
The wolf let out a low sigh.

Jack couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  He wondered if he could make a move to get to Jean and try to sneak her out.  He had only met her the once, but he felt responsible to protect her somehow.  It was an unusual trait for a crook to be gallant, but he always had been.  His first arrest as a kid was because he had stopped to hold a door for an old woman when he should have been running from the security guards who worked for the store he had just liberated of several cassette tapes.

The wolf had laid down on its stomach by this point and the story of the trip was flowing so naturally from Brad by now that he wasn’t thinking about what he was saying.

“It was such a peaceful area,” he went on, “which is why it was such a surprise when that wolf attacked your mother.”

The beast’s ears perked up.

“ I drove her to the nearest hospital, but it was 30 minutes away from the campsite. The shock put her into labor and they managed to save you, but your mother died before you ever got to know her.”

The wolf sat up and let out a pain ridden howl.  A tear came to Jean’s eye as she heard the sound from her dark corner.

“It wasn’t until you became a man that we found out the bite had somehow transferred this curse to you.  Made you, this.”

Brad began to cry and the wolf howled again in agony, but it wasn’t long before Brad, Jack and Jean realized that Brad had gone too far with the story.  It took only a few seconds for the sobs of pain from the wolf to become grunts and then growls.  In moments, human sadness had turned into animal rage.  The beast looked up and his eyes locked with Brad’s.  Inside, what was left of Taylor, blamed this man for killing his mother and putting this curse on him.  The mind of the Beast saw only food and an enemy.  Both lashed out.

In an instant the wolf was on its feet and it crashed through the iron bars as if they had never been there.

With his last breath Brad shouted, “Jean, run!”  He fell silent as the monster that was once his son ripped his still beating heart from his chest.

The wolf hovered over his body for a moment.  It sniffed his still body and stared into his blank, lifeless eyes.  The next howl it let out almost sounded like remorse.

Jack sat crouched behind the desk.  Silent.  He knew that if the creature cared to try it could find him easily, but he hoped that all the feeding, rage and emotion had left it exhausted.  Maybe it would sleep until morning.  Maybe he and Jean could just hide out until the beast turned back into a scared young man and he could worry about the police later.  His hopes were shattered when he heard the beep of the card reader.

The wolf slowly turned its attention back to the lobby.  It left Brad’s body and slowly loped into the center of the bank.  It let out a terrible howl just as Jean made it into the foyer.  The wolf charged into the shatter resistant doors and they shook under its assault.  Jean screamed.  She tried the outer door, but to no avail.  It was locked and only the keycard or a buzz from inside could let her out.  She looked at the floor just inside of the bank, and to her terror, she saw that she had dropped her card there.  She screamed again as the wolf pounded on the doors.  The thick, specially treated glass, began to crack.

“Why doesn’t she just leave?” Jack whispered to himself.

Cautiously he lifted his head above the desk.  He could see Jean struggling with the door and then he noticed the dropped card on the floor at the wolf’s feet.  His mind raced as he tried to figure out how to help the woman.  Even if he could get to the card he wouldn’t have time to get the code from her before the wolf made a meal of him.  Maybe he could find the buzzer, but would there be a key he would need to make it work?  He couldn’t even think of a scenario where sacrificing himself, which he really didn’t want to do, would help her.

His eyes scanned the room for a weapon.  Something that could be effective against that Monstrosity that nearly crushed the framework of the security doors.  Then he saw it.  The briefcase!   Brad had so desperately wanted that briefcase.  It must have something that could help.

Jack leapt over the desk and made a desperate charge for the leather satchel that sat just a few yards away.  The wolf heard the movement and immediately turned on him.  He ducked its grasping arms and rolled toward his target.  Jean watched in disbelief as he snatched up the brief case.  The wolf, having missed Jack, crashed into some chairs and was thrown into a tumbling mess from the inertia behind its attack.

Jack rummaged through the briefcase and his hand settled on a letter opener.  He pulled the small, shining blade from within the leather bag.  He looked back into the bag in disbelief.

A growl got his attention and he looked up just in time to see a half dozen  chairs fly through the air and burst against the walls. One flew just inches over his ducked head.  Jack dropped the briefcase and examined the letter opener.  Etched in the handle he could just make out the words: “Sterling Silver”.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said to himself.

The wolf left him little time to think about it.  The Monster charged at him again and this time Jack met the attack with a charge of his own.  He clutched the letter opener in his right hand and then, just as he was about to collide with the wolf, he dropped to his knees and thrust the small weapon up into the center of its furry chest.  He felt the blade sink deep within the monster’s chest.  His whole body twisted as the force of the creature’s charge carried it over his head and wrenched his arm from the socket.

Jack cried out in pain.  He watched as the huge mass of fur tumbled into the shattered doors.  Jean screamed as the wolf’s body crashed through the remaining glass and came to a standstill at her feet.

Jack struggled to get to his feet.  He limped to Jean’s side and took her hand.

“Is it dead?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Jack replied honestly.

Then the two of them watched as the giant body of the wolf shrunk into the beaten, battered body of young Taylor.

Jack looked around at the mess.  “I can’t be here when the police come.”  He looked at Jean hopefully.  “Will you give me a head start?  You’ve got to believe I never wanted any of this.”

“Just your retirement fund?” she said as she pointed to the bills bursting from his pockets and waistband.

Jack smiled meekly.  “I can leave the money.” He began to reach into his pocket.  Jean put her hand on his.

“I’ve got a better idea,” she said with a smile.

He smiled at her hopefully.

“I’ve been wanting to retire myself,” she said

“I don’t know there’s enough here for that,” Jack said honestly.  “But it might be enough to buy into a nice bar a buddy of mine owns in Mexico.’

“Perfect,” Jean said.

She picked up her keycard and opened the outer doors.  The two of them headed for the Torino.  Jean noticed a cut on Jack’s arm as he held the door open for her.

“You’re hurt,” she said with some sympathy.

“I think I caught some glass when that thing tackled me,” Jack said.

“But you weren’t anywhere near the glass,” Jean observed.

“I’ll stop at a Pharmacy and get some antibiotic ointment if it will make you feel better,” Jack joked.

He walked around and got into the car.  He started it and as they drove off he said, “I’m famished.  Anyplace around here serve a really rare burger?”

By Jason L. Liquori
Cornered Sky
The aerial werewolf
killing team blasted
away as the monster
fur flashed to cave, so
the group rappelled,
but were slow afoot
like zombie skincare
collection scavengers,
soon ripped-n-running
bloody and no bone bit
extractors, rib spreader,
retractors or prosthetic
facial implants would
ever pass through the
shredded meat cave
curtains to serve or
suture the undead
By David Pointer


A Place for Monsters

The children wait outside my home. They wait for me to burst out of my door with a roar and a growl, and let them prove who is the bravest. Who can withstand the wolf-man’s howl the longest, risk a bite. I can hear them laughing, I can hear their little mumbled speakings.

“Just wait. Come on, don’t go. Just wait,” I hear, looking out through my living room blonds. I comb my hair back — a joke my mother used to tell — parting my hair began at my big toe and went “up and all ’round,” ended at my heel.

Sometimes, I think it would be funny for them if  I opened the door chewing on a dog toy. I think they would laugh: squeak squeak squeak.

I sneak up to the door so they can’t hear the floorboards creak and turn the knob with a sudden pow! “Roooooooo-ar!” Pull up my lip and bare my fangs, chasing them down the walkway.

“Roooooooo-ar!”

“Run, run!” They laugh as they scatter, “He’ll bite-cha!”

The newspaper is down at the curb. I stroll down to the end of the front lawn and pick it up. The newspaper delivery man won’t come any closer to my front door. These children are braver than him.

I am Peter. I am Peter and the Wolf. The last child of six and only son. My mother was free with her love; my sisters and I all had different fathers. You ask, where did my father go? “To the dogs,” my mother would answer and laugh, run her hands through my hair, her fingertips beginning at my nose, running up and over my head, making a fist at the nape of my neck and pulling a little. That was love.

She is gone now and I, her puppy, wait to find someone who will pet me. Offer me a treat.

I make my living during seven days each year at the state fair. I am a werewolf. I rent a large tent, some chairs, though by attendance my shows become “standing-room” only. I have heard, in modern society, there is no longer any room for monsters such as me, for freak shows and the like. I have heard you have become too evolved for such displays.

Yet, the people still come. Hundreds every day come and speak as though I can’t hear them, “It’s exploitation,” they say from the front row, “They shouldn’t be treating him like this.”

They. There is no “they.” There is only me.

“Come see the last great monster, the half-man, half-beast: WEREWOLF!” They read the sign and snicker… But they still come.

Other than that, I stay at home. Condition my hair. All my hair. It is long and thick everywhere. I stopped trimming it at twenty. It seemed to stop getting any longer at thirty.

Why cut it? There is no man under this monster. There is no one here but me.

I board the bus to the fairgrounds. I am aware my appearance is a problem for others. Hypertrichosis. Long ago, they said people like me were born after their fathers were mauled by wolves. I wouldn’t know. This could be true in my case.

I take a seat next to a young lady in a green coat. She looks at me once out of the corner of her eye — I can see, sharply, the rapid blue sliver of her iris — and then she looks again, for an amount of time most measurable to my heartbeats. She looks so pink, so unprotected.

I can only imagine how she sees me. A hairball with teeth.

She forcefully roots her eyes back to her book, and I stare at her, I can’t being myself to tear my eyes away although I know I should. I will make her uncomfortable, I just know it. I raise my hands up, the long fingernails I’ve been tending — my monster’s claws — scraping a line across my eyebrows to part my hair.

“What are you reading?”

Her whole frame jerks, pushing her book up into her neck. I can see the cover is pink and reflective, “Nothing, nothing,” she stammers, turning her shoulders to face me.

“You can’t read nothing,” I joke.

“It’s… It’s just a romance novel. You know, trash, basically. I mean, sort of. I love them but my mother’s always telling me they’re poisoning my… My uh… concept of relationships, I guess, but since I’m twenty-five and I don’t have kids yet she thinks I’m pretty much corrupted already, you know…” her words come out in one long rush, eyes closed. She ends by laughing, tittering. She has a small set of yellowish teeth.

“I don’t very often read books like that.”

She smiles slightly, the corner of her mouth twitching. “Where’re you off to?”

“The fairgrounds.”

“Oh,” she makes a face like this is the funniest thing she’s ever heard, “Off to have some fun?”

“No. I work there.”

“Like what?” She is laughing inside. I can smell it. “A guard? A janitor? Someone who makes sure everybody’s this height to ride the rides?”

“No. No, you might say I qualify as a ride.” I watch her frown and back away a little further, “I’m in a show. I have this little thing I do. A werewolf show.”

Her eyebrows narrow, both of her eyes constricting to a dark point in the center of her face. She reaches up behind her and I watch her hand flail for the pull cord that will stop the bus. “Isn’t… Isn’t that awfully embarrassing?”

“I don’t see it that way.”

She gets her hand around the cord and yanks hard, “Well, I would think so. If it were me.”

Everything is so clear to me. The pull of beads of sweat on her skin, the crossing lines and planes dancing within her face. I wonder if you’re capable of seeing yourselves the way I do: so clear, so naked. So defenseless.

I have a little space all to myself behind the stage to begin my transformation. I fill a large paint bucket with lard, vegetable oil, cow’s blood and fine dirt, mix it with a wooden spoon, like a witch’s horrific potion. Like the stew my mother used to make. I used to add a little food coloring to keep the red bright and raw, but it obscured the gritty color of the dirt, the true, brownish watery tints of blood, the clear, mucous-like consistency of the half-melted lard.

After awhile, I stopped adding the fake red. The real color of blood, the smell, the sight of it; is more frightening than an imitation. I know. I am a connoisseur of blood and an expert at magic.

Applying the elixir to every available inch of my body, I put on my tattered pants, remove my shoes and comb the long hair on each of my feet. I rub my feet in dirt and water, force the grime beneath my claws. Over time, flies will crawl all over me and the whole mixture will run, clot, stink.

A loud cacophony of voices is everywhere around me, and I can hear the things they barely say, like a language I should never care to learn: “Tickets to the ferris wheel cost how fucking much? That’s just fucking stupid. And the Tilt-A-Whirl?” “Where did Amy leave her sandals? Are they back in the car?”

I can hear the things you barely say, and your words press into the sides of my head like many forceful blows… I wish you’d just be quiet. Really quiet so I could actually hear you…

A feel a face enter the room behind me, “Pete? Almost ready?”

“Yes, Harry. Almost.” For two-hundred dollars a day — a small amount compared to the total take —  Harry is my master, my keeper, the warlock that tamed the wolf. He leaves the back room, and as soon as his back is turned, I stretch my hand out after him, flexing my claws. I am assailed by a sudden sadness… I wouldn’t know what normal people feel like, I wouldn’t know the texture of you under my palms. I think of the girl on the bus…

I can hear Harry re-enter the back room and approach me from behind. Suddenly, he’s working to wrap a collar and leash around my neck, “Almost time, Pete. You ready?”

I adjust the collar, “Just don’t pull so hard this time.”

He shrugs and pulls back the curtain.

“Ladies and gentlemen! I, Dr. Harold Grossman, have searched the jungles of South America, the savannah of Africa, the wild and inhospitable heights of Kilimanjaro and the cold wastelands of Siberia to bring you the last great wonder of the world!

Television, movies, books… Are rife with outright lies and half-truths! It’s a consolation we tell our children as well-meaning  parents and custodians: there is no such thing as monsters! Of course we do! What more can you know but what you see with your own eyes? We even come to believe it! But let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, monsters are very much real,” Harry bends down to face the front row, swooping his cragged face only inches away from the audience, “and I have searched the world far and wide to prove it.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I can hear the crowd groan and snicker, “May I present the last… living… werewolf.

This is my cue.

Harry pulls the leash once, a little tug, and then quite harshly, snapping my head back. I swallow as forcefully as I can and rush out onto the stage with a bellowing scream.

I am six feet, seven inches tall. I smell like death. I am muscle and blood. The audience rears back, shocked at my size, the rank smell of blood in my fists. They rise from their seats with a collective scream, “What the fuck is that?” I hear, all I can hear.

I attempt to rush off of the stage and Harry yanks me back, “Now, ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing to worry about. He’s quite domesticated, you see. All you have to do is offer him a treat, and he’ll behave.”

I howl again and the audience can not help but react. I don’t think they were expecting to really see a werewolf. They never do. This thought almost makes me laugh, but that would be out of character. They scream, I can hear their hysterical fear masked as laughter…

Harry throws a chicken bone at me and I catch it in my mouth, crack it with my teeth, biting my lip and drooling blood.

The crowd roars as I push a bubble of blood out from between my lips, gargling red spheres that burst all over the stage. I am willing to go the extra mile to please.

The children in the back clap their hands and laugh. They enjoy their own need to scream. I am a professional monster and children love me. They are the only ones who look me in the eye.

I think they would like to believe I am real, then anything would be possible. Children understand that for their beloved heroes to live, for there to be happy endings, for their dreams to come true, there must also be a place for monsters.

By Samantha Ducas

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/samanthaducasatymaildotcom

 

 

3 responses to “Howlings: February 7th 2012

  1. Pingback: The Carnage Conservatory: It was a slow day « kvenna ráð

  2. Pingback: Welshday: The inebriate Detective Inspector Rimbaud sings the praises of his love « Marie Marshall

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