Monster Month Stories

October saw five (5) short stories about monsters. Slime monsters, werewolves, ghosts, witches, even demons abound! All these stories are free, originally released through Patreon. Since I no longer run a Patreon page, I’m releasing the stories here!

A .pdf version is also available here.

Without further ado, here’s Monster Month by Tia Liet!

A Slippery Slope

The first thing he noticed was the slime. It was everywhere; on the bed, the floor, the walls, the curtains, and even the ceiling. How it had gotten there was a mystery. It was thick and gelatinous and green. The room had been pretty regal before the slime had been introduced. It was cushy and had good furniture, but it was in a bad part of town. Had the man known that this part of town was plagued by monster attacks, he would not have booked the hotel room he had.

Doing what any person might do, the man turned and ran. He wasn’t a particularly striking or athletic man. He lived alone and kept to himself, working away at a nine-to-five job that paid his bills and occasionally going out with friends from college. There wasn’t anything spectacular about him, his clothes were simply a plain blue button-down, black tie, and black pants. His name was even as plain as it got; it was John A. Smith. The A. stood for a middle name that he didn’t actually like very much, and so he preferred not to say it.

John didn’t get very far before his escape from his rented room was cut short. A figure blocked his way, shadow stretched out tall and ominously against the grey walls of the hotel. He skid to a halt, slipping on some rogue slime. It was even in the hallway!

The figure’s shadow loomed over him as the faint sound of dripping caught John’s attention. Scrambling to his feet and turning his back on the darkness, ready to run again, he saw the source of the slime. She was short and beautiful and chubby. Her barely-clothed transparent body was covered with thick green gelatinous goo that dripped to the ground all around her. Shaking her head with a sticky-sounding laugh that threw slime against the walls from her long strands of thick jelly-hair, she approached John slowly. Backing away, he swallowed thickly.

He halted as the click-clacking of claws against hardwood and the faint smell of sulphur crept up behind him, the hairs on his neck standing straight up. He knew before he turned around that he was going to see a demon. Demons weren’t all that uncommon nowadays, but you always knew they were near because of the sulphur. When he turned, slow and stiff, there she was.

She was tall and hulking and dangerous. Horns twisted up and away from her skull like spires, all six of them, and her claws were black and razor sharp. Her eyes were milky white and her skin was the colour of blood and rust. There was no need for her to be clothed, as most demons chose to wander about in the nude, but she wore a semblance of clothing all the same; a black wrap across her chest and a draping loincloth covering up what she had heard human folk found most interesting. She laughed when the human man turned around, reaching forward to stroke his face. Her claws raked his skin for just a moment before she leaned in, mouth full of razor teeth pulled back in a smile.

“Are you scared?”

John nodded, knowing this was the end for him. No one met a demon and lived, he knew he was no exception. Trembling and wide-eyed, hands balled at his sides, the scared human man stood stalk still as the demon circled him. She drew her clawed fingers against his shaking shoulders as she passed behind him, earning a terrified whimper.

The demon paused only looked around the human. One nod from the beautiful slime lady was all she needed.

“I will make this quick for you,” she muttered, honouring the wishes of her girlfriend. Sally, the woman covered in slime, did not approve of torturing their human food before eating it. She did make it quick, and John didn’t feel much as his head separated from his body with one hard twist. Tossing his head to her girlfriend, Leki, the demon woman, sighed. “I don’t know why you pity them so much. Their lives are so short and so violent.”

Sally giggled, catching the head with ease and tossing it between her oozing hands as she answered, “Well, that’s precisely why I pity them. Their lives are so short and they live them in fear. It must be horrendous to live each day wondering if it’s your last.”

“It’s good that we’re not human, then.” Leki smiled before taking a bite from John’s arm. With her mouth full, she added, “We pop in for a snack here and there, and they can’t do anything to stop it.”

“Isn’t that so awful, though?” Sally popped out an eye from John’s skull, contemplating it a moment.

“It’s just the way it is. Would you rather become a cannibal?”

Sally shuddered at the thought, putting his head on the ground to come sit against Leki. She intertwined her fingers with the long claws of Leki’s free hand as she ate. It was messy, but Leki didn’t mind.

“I wouldn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of killing another monster – let alone eating them!”

Leki was quiet for a moment while she ate. Then, turning to her beautiful girlfriend and wiping her mouth, she said, “Me either.”

Sally smiled at Leki, reaching up to wipe some blood from around her girlfriend’s wonderfully demonic mouth and smudging it with a trail of green instead. “Let’s banish these thoughts, then, and eat. I don’t want to spoil our date!”

Leki chuckled, dropping the meal to wrap Sally in her long, strong arms. She loved her soft and slimey girlfriend. “Then let’s have ourselves a good meal and a good time!” She gave her a quick peck on the cheek, making Sally giggle.

And they did eat and have a good time, all thanks to John.

 

Signed In Blood

Graham sat up quickly, sticky with sweat and breathing hard. Something was wrong.

Glancing around the dark room, he reached for the flashlight he kept beside his bed for occasions like this. The bright beam pierced the darkness like a knife. Nothing was out of place. The creaky, drafty room was the same as he’d left it. Like always.

He sighed, landing against his pillows with a soft thud. That nightmare always got him. It had been almost a year since he had seen his grandfather pass away in the hospital, but it was always the same nightmare. He was back, listening to the ramblings of a senile man about to die, holding his hand as machines hissed and beeped in the background. That was the worst, the noises.

Rubbing at his face, the young man put his flashlight where it was supposed to go.

It would be a long– how long until morning? Graham checked the clock with a groan; it was only 1 AM.

Reluctantly, he settled back into his pillows and closed his eyes. If he was going to get any sleep before work, he needed to sleep now. It was always hard after that nightmare, though. The whistling of the wind sometimes sounded eerily like the screech of a heart monitor, and the rattling pipes could be mistaken for any number of hospital noises, especially for Graham’s sleepy brain.

*

“He will come,” repeated Poppa, eyes closed. He’s hooked up to several machines and an oxygen tube. “I did something stupid as a young man.”

There was a pause. The machines rattled and screamed in the background. Something was wrong, but Graham couldn’t focus on what it was.

“What do you mean?” Graham’s voice sounded thick and slow, like molasses, but the words come out just fine. He knew that what his grandfather had to say was important, but he couldn’t place why.

“From the shadows,” he said, coughing once. It was a gurgling noise, nothing good could come from it. “I did something bad.”

Graham waited, more screaming machines urgently trying to grab his attention and failing against pure willpower. He had to hear what his grandfather was saying. He had to.

Finally, he spoke again. “I was in trouble. Big trouble. I dabbled in things I never should have… There was a time in my life, my Graham, my wonderful grandson, my only grandson… There was a time in my life when I did some bad things. I was into bad things, Graham. You have to understand that I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I am so sorry. I’m so sorry, Graham.”

Graham shook his head. “Poppa, it’s not your fault,” he began to say.

“He will come from the shadows,” interrupts Graham’s grandfather. “He will come to take you with him.”

“Who?”

Slowly, raising his hand to point at the corner, he said shakily, “Him.”

*

Thunk.

Graham sat up again, fumbling for the flashlight. The bright light cutting through the darkness like butter.

Nothing.

Sighing, the young man relaxed, flicking off the light and turning to put it away just as something else cut through the darkness. “Hello,” said a voice.

Graham froze, poised over the nightstand.

“You must be Graham.”

Swallowing, the young man flicked the light back on, sweeping it around the room quickly. Nothing. Even the shadows in the corner were the same ones he had always seen in the room. “Hello?”

“Hello again, Graham!”

Without pants or a shirt or shoes, Graham got up, crossed the room, and headed for the front door as quickly as he could without running like a chicken. He would not be staying in a haunted house, but he wouldn’t run from a ghost either.

“Where are you going?”

He didn’t answer, pausing only to slip on a jacket and sandals before he yanked open the front door. Before he could step through, it slammed shut. His heart lept into his throat.

“Tut-tut,” sang the voice from somewhere beside him. “Can’t have you leaving before we’re properly acquainted!”

Graham stared at the back of his door in the dim light. trying his hardest to keep his breathing even. He kept nightlights in each hall, for this exact reason. He had somehow always expected ghosts to be what did him in. Reaching to the left of the thick pine door, he flicked on the light above him. His hands shook slightly, but he wouldn’t admit that he was scared just yet. So far, it was just a voice. “Well,” he said, throat squeaking. “Who are you, then? You seem to know me.”

“Oh, I know all about you!” The voice sounded further away. “You’re the son of Andrew Maller! You play football with your friends on Saturdays and your favorite food is macaroni and cheese.” Graham followed the voice, flicking on lights as he went. “You used to draw your grandfather such cute drawings as a kid!”

After Graham had flicked on his third light and lit up the whole place, the exasperated, disembodied voice said, “You’re being rude. That light is hard for me to be around.”

“Then you get the hint.”

“Oh, I see what this is.” Graham had turned to return to the front door, freezing. “You’re trying to get me to leave.” A being that could only be described as pure darkness stood in the way. From what Graham could tell, they had their arms crossed. They were also where the voice was coming from. Shadows wrapped themselves around the figure like a mist, darkening everything around them. It was like looking at a bright light. It hurt Graham’s eyes to stare directly at them, but if he looked out of the corner of his eye it was annoying but fine.

“Yes,” said Graham tightly, doing his best to keep an eye on the being without giving away how freaked he was currently. He wanted nothing more than to back away instead of converse with this creature. “Yes, I want you to leave.” His voice shook. He wasn’t tough like the other boys, he ran away from everything. Graham was scared.

The figure sighed. “Look, I can’t. Your grandpa sold your soul to me.”

Graham’s jaw clenched. “He wouldn’t.”

“He did. I have the contract right here, signed in blood!” With a flick, the shadow produced a folded piece of paper from thin air.

“That could have come from anywhere,” Graham said, narrowing his eyes as the shadow unfolded it and tried to hand it to him. He wouldn’t take anything that thing handed to him, not until he was sure it was safe. “That could be anyone’s blood.”

“Fine,” said the figure, paper disappearing as quickly as it had been summoned. “Fine! You don’t believe me, that’s fine. Okay.” Throwing up their hands in what sounded like exasperation to Graham, the shadow turned and flicked off the hall light. It made looking at them much easier, somehow. “Look, Graham, I get it. I come out of nowhere and demand you get to know me. It’s weird! But,” The shadow reached forward but Graham stepped away. “Demons don’t just come out of the woodwork for just anyone.”

Graham stared for a moment before swallowing thickly and asking softly, “Then what makes me so special?”

“Well. It’s really your grandfather’s contract that’s special, but what’s some semantics? The deal was simple. I could have all the freedom I want in your material plane, but he sold two souls to make it come true.”

“What was in it for him?” Graham watched the shadow closely, frowning. This sounded like an awful deal so far.

“Well,” said the shadow, “Andrew got his own freedom.”

Skeptical, he took the bait. “What do you mean?”

“Andrew was a very self loathing man, Graham.” The shadow gestured for the young man to follow, phasing through the wall to flick off another light before sitting at the kitchen table. “Before you knew him, he was trapped in an awful life. Or, he felt that way, anyway.”

Reluctantly, Graham sat down across from the shadow.

“My name is Aleal, by the way.” Graham had the impression that the shadow was smiling, but it was impossible to truly tell. “Your grandfather and I were very close. He summoned me several times in his youth, before he knew he would fall in love and have children who would have children of their own. We made a pact when he was still young and naive, and he signed it in blood. He would give me his soul in his final breaths and I could use it to have my own freedom. The problem was that I needed two willing souls.” Aleal cocked their head in the semi-darkness to inspect Graham. “That’s where you come in.”

“You want me to give you my soul.”

Aleal shrugged. “More or less.”

“I’m still using it,” blurted out Graham, “You can’t have it.”

There was a silence for a tense moment. Then Aleal broke into barking laughter.

“What?” Graham stared in confusion as the shadow demon’s laughter calmed. “What did I say?”

“I’m not taking your soul right now, Graham!” Aleal reached forward and this time Graham didn’t jerk away, letting the shadows touch his hand reassuringly, briefly. It felt like nothing he’d ever felt before. It was unnerving, unreal, and slightly wet. Settling his hand back in his lap, he decided not to touch the shadow again. “If you’re going to want to give me your soul, you’ve got to know me first! Or, that’s what your grandfather said, anyway. He really loved you, Graham. Never talked so much about anyone else, I swear.” Aleal chuckled, leaning forward. “He wanted you to meet me, but never had the chance I suppose. Human lives are so short.” Aleal sighed.

“So, I’m stuck with you.”

“Yes.”

“Until I die?”

“You got it!”

Graham stared for a moment.

“We’ll be great friends!” Aleal vanished into thin air, right before Graham’s eyes. Glancing around, he could only hear Aleal’s voice as they chuckled and said, “It’ll be fun, I promise!”

 

A Witch’s Curse

The woods were no place for a youngster to be wandering around in. Everyone knew that, even children. The Wild Beauty of the Woods would snatch you away, said the rumours. They would eat you up and you would never see your family again, wandering the woods as a spirit.

Jamie didn’t believe the lies everyone told about the place, since she had just moved there. Those were always the most dangerous people, the newcomers. They threatened to turn everything on it’s head when they showed up. They would hear the stories of the woods and go searching for the legends. And, as everyone knows, you don’t find legends by looking for them. They find you.

It was a foggy night, mists rolling in off the lake. The woods were full of bears, some people said, others said it was full of moose. Either way, the Rocky Mountains were nearby and there was enough wildlife around to make cityfolk nervous. If nothing else, most of them left the woods alone because of the animals.

Now Jamie was different. Jamie came from the city, along with both parents and a baby sibling, but wasn’t afraid of the local wildlife. Nothing scared her – or at least, that’s what she told everyone. The woods were nothing but misty plants, she said. And so, tonight Jamie was roaming around with a flashlight, alone. It wasn’t her first time. ‘There was plenty to see in the day, but there was always more to see at night,’ always said Jamie. She wasn’t wrong.

It was just midnight when Jamie saw the Witch. A bell tolled in the distance eerily. Fog surrounded them both, shrouding them in thick, white ropes. The Witch wore a pointy black hat with bluebells and grass pinned to it, looking rather dapper. Robes, as black as night and embroidered with silver and green, draped over a voluptuous body. Long raven-coloured hair cascaded across nearly-bare shoulders, milky skin glowing against the dark backdrop. With a sharp jaw and soft cheeks, the witch was plump and beautiful and ethereal and androgynous.

Jamie noticed the witch second. The beam of light swept through the darkness to shine on the Wild Beauty of the Woods.

“Jamie,” crooned the witch once the light was on them, startling the city kid.

Nearly dropping the light, Jamie stared. “Who are you?” Her hand shook slightly, making the beam of light tremble. It was just nerves, she told herself. It wasn’t because the witch was exactly like people described. It was coincidence – or someone in a costume.

“I’m the Witch.”

“I can see that,” replied Jamie. A short silence followed her words. “Are you an actor?”

“No,” chuckled the witch. Stepping forward, they inspected the young city kid. Jamie stood at 5 feet and zero inches, with a bulky frame and lean limbs. She had short brown hair and dark brown eyes. Her skin was tanned from the summer, freckles appearing on her shoulders and nose for a few months out of the year. At first glance, she appeared to be 14 even though she was closer to 17, and her glasses were crooked slightly. The frames had been broken for the last week. Her jaunty yellow jacket was perfect for being out in the woods in the middle of fall, paired with a black beanie and a black scarf that made it appear she was a floating head and coat in the middle of the night.

“Then what’s with the hat?” She pointed at the witch’s head.

“What’s with your hat?” retorted the witch before cackling. It was a hair-raising sound. Holding out a hand, they commanded fire at their fingertips, lighting up the trees around them with hazy light from their palm. Jamie stepped backwards, entranced by the magic. “It’s barely a hat at all!”

Swallowing, Jamie lowered her flashlight. It was hardly needed with the bright ball of fire. “I’m going home now,” she said, hoping her fright wasn’t showing too much. It was.

“Oh, but Jamie,” cooed the witch, floating over with steps that barely touched the ground, “You’ve just got here!”

“What do you mean?” She stepped back, but the witch was in front of her before she could blink.

They smiled, gesturing around with their free hand. “You’ve barely been in these woods at all. Do you think you’ve seen everything there is to see?”

She shook her head as the witch circled around her. Their feet weren’t moving along the ground any more, floating just a few inches above the earth. Jamie’s shoulders shook slightly.

“You’re scared,” whispered the witch mockingly. “Did you think the warnings were just stories? Did you think you would be safe out here in the woods? Out here, at the witching hour?”

Jamie shook her head, flashlight flickering.

“Then what did you expect?”

“N-nothing,” she whispered, her light flickering out as the witch circled her. Black robes flitted about her. “I didn’t expect anything.”

Another spine-chilling cackle that made Jamie flinch.

That,” said the witch, “Was your mistake.”

The witch overtook her. Her screams echoed in the fog, never to reach anyone’s ears, never to be seen again.

 

 

Ghostly Encounters

The clock reads 3:01 AM. The streetlights bathed the car in fleeting light, flashing along the highway at intervals that are perhaps too far apart to be comfortable, but light the way well enough. The car is quiet, not even the radio is on. Sometimes it helps drown out the monotony of driving, but not tonight. Tonight, the moon is nowhere to be seen and the cool air from the open window is all you need.

It’s somewhere between streetlights that you glance in the rearview mirror. There hasn’t been another car behind you for kilometres, but it’s habit as you change lanes. Your eye catches something out of the ordinary in that cursory glance, and for a moment you feel white-hot fear in your viens.

There is a man in the seat directly behind you.

You swerve back into your lane when the rumble strips on the side of the road do their job and startle you back into focusing. Briefly, you wonder if running your car off the road would be the smarter option – what if this man has a gun or a knife? – but you decide against it. When you check the mirror, the man is still there, unfazed and staring directly ahead. Staring at you.

You clear your throat, suddenly dry, but the man makes no indication that he heard you. When you say, “Hello,” the man doesn’t even blink.

Eyes back on the road, you remind yourself. The lines zip past you on either side.

“Who are you?”

No movement.

“What are you doing in my car?”

Nothing.

“How did you get in?” Your voice is becoming shrill.

Finally, there is a reply. The man turns his head to stare out the window, slowly. His eyes are devoid of light. “I’m headed to Las Vegas,” says the man.

“Okay,” you say, trying to keep calm. “Las Vegas isn’t anywhere near here. We’re in Canada, sir.” Your voice is trembling as you speak, like the fingers gripping your steering wheel. Something about the way he speaks is eerie.

“I was hitchhiking,” says the man after a short pause. “I was trying to get to Las Vegas.”

“Was?” You ask, catching the past tense. “Does that mean you’re not headed there any more?” You laugh nervously, trying to make small talk while you try to find a place on the highway to pull off. There isn’t any room on the shoulders here, and there’s signs warning not to stop on the road.

“Yes,” says the man. He doesn’t elaborate.

“Well, where are you headed now?”

The man’s lips part in a smile, reflected twice back at you from the rearview mirror and the window as you pass another streetlight. Before your eyes, as the light passes right overhead, he vanishes. You stare until the rumbling of your car jolts you back to reality. You glance in the mirror. Nothing. You swallow thickly, shaking and tense.

He’s right beside you now.

The realization almost has you wrenching the wheel away, but you stop yourself in the middle of a swerve. You briefly wonder what the other drivers must think of you – but then you remember you’re all alone on the highway at this time of night. There isn’t even other houses on this stretch of highway, just open fields.

“My name was Charles,” says the man. He isn’t smiling any more, and he’s staring at the road. Lines continue to zip past, but they aren’t reflected in his dead, hollow eyes. “Charles Lacroix,” he continues when you don’t say anything more.

Finally, you begin to offer your name, “Well, Charles, my name is–“

You slam on your brakes. Charles is no longer in the car. He stands in the middle of the highway and you’re going too fast!

Your car passes through him. You shudder at the sudden cold in the car. As tense as a cable about to snap, you sit in your car, shaking, once it’s screeched to a halt. Checking the mirror, Charles is nowhere to be found. You check the back seat. He isn’t there either.

When you turn around, he’s standing in front of the hood of your car. There’s something in his hand, and it glints in the highway light.

You don’t stick around to find out what it is.

Foot slammed on the gas, you get out of there. There is nothing in this world that would make you stay.

Looking back in the mirror, you watch him as he leaves. He stands there, looking over his shoulder at you until you turn the next corner. Trembling like a leaf, you spend the whole ride home a mess of nerves. There is a heart-stopping moment when you think he’s back in the car with you, but it’s just a shadow as you pull off your exit. You floor it all the way home and spend a few moments outside to just breathe.

Once inside, you look up Charles Lacriox. You find out that he was indeed a hitchhiker near Las Vegas. Of course, it was also public record that Charles had murdered several folks as a hitchhiker and that he had died in prison just the year before. The hair raises on your arms as you shut your laptop, a question on your mind.

How did he get to Canada?

 

The Terrible Night

“Hello,” was the first thing he said, “My name is Louis Pines. Folks call me Lou.”

That was when the horrors began. The village of Bryte had been peaceful until he showed up. Sheepherders had nothing to worry about, ranchers and their cattle were safe, barn cats even still stuck around. There was nothing that went bump in the night besides the occasional coyote.

No, now that Louis Pines was around, sheep turned up gutted, cattle were found bloated in the river, even the barn cats disappeared. Now that Louis Pines was around, things were different. Everyone knew it.

The village was small and contained in the mountains where the cliffs were steep and the hills were crawling with greenery. There, they made a quaint living, with flickering electricity and rattling water pipes. Things were simple in Bryte. For a while.

Louis worked as a lumberjack, bringing down the forest a little at a time, providing wood for warmth in the winter and shelter during construction months. He had worked as a lumberjack his whole life. He had transferred to Bryte because of his condition; Lycanthropy.

Before the move, Lou had been a lonely man, working at lumber camps since he was 17, when his father was still teaching him. His whole family were lumberjacks. It had been that way for centuries. Who was he to deny tradition?

It was before the move to Bryte and a wet night when he encountered Adam. Adam was a tall man, bulky and wearing nothing but shorts in the rain. It was odd to find someone in the woods at night, let alone someone so sparsely clad. Lou had been working late when he spotted him. His towering mass was stark against the darkness of the trees. His white skin was covered in a fine dusting of silver and grey hair. There was a tattoo on his shoulder, but in the dark it was hard to make out.

Adam had stood, watching Lou for what felt like ages. When the lonely man, clad in a bright reflector vest and helmet, began to climb the slope, Adam watched until he was nearly all the way there. Then he turned and began to wander back into the trees.

“Hey,” had called Lou. Adam didn’t turn.

He followed him until he was sure he was lost, catching only glimpses of Adam’s back as he tried to catch up. It was dangerous in the woods at night! Besides, the camp’s equipment couldn’t be left alone with some loon in the woods. What if he vandalized or broke something? Louis would be responsible! He’d been the last one there after all.

When he finally caught up, they were both a good kilometer into the treeline. Here, some of the trees had been marked with an orange ‘x’, but they were sparse. Far enough away that if he screamed, he wouldn’t be heard.

And he did scream when Adam bit him, and no one heard. No one heard when the others screamed, either.

So now, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the massacre, Lou was making a new life for himself. Bryte was the right place to do it, he figured. No one knew him. He was in a whole other country. He could keep to himself and make a nice life for himself. A quiet life.

That wasn’t to be.

The day was bright and sunny when it happened. The chain on the chainsaw broke, a piece flying away and lodging in Lou’s right shoulder. It wasn’t a large piece, but it found the weakest spot in his protective gear and sliced right through it. It was a deep wound. Carefully, Louis shut the machine off and set it down before hauling himself to his nearest coworker. Danny, the newest of the group and horrified by the accident, shut off his own chainsaw and nearly carried the hulking man down the mountain himself. Chris drove him to meet the paramedics at the bottom of the logging road. Finally, he had been taken to the clinic to get forty stitches and ten staples.

He didn’t know it yet, but it would be his undoing.

Bryte was a superstitious village. Ghosts haunted the roads at night. Black cats were familiars to witches. Bigfoot sometimes made an appearance. Even some shops had salt at their thresholds to keep evil away. It wasn’t a surprise that some folks kept silver bullets around when the livestock started turning up dead.

That night came the full moon. Like most months, it snuck up on Lou. He wasn’t the kind of man to keep track of such things, but his coworkers did. They knew not to be caught out late at night near the full moon. If not for the wolves wandering around, then for the panic that emerged from the docile villagers at that time. They grew wary around the full moon. Hands on their knives and guns cocked just in case.

Louis was alone that night, tending to the wound. The clinic wasn’t equipped to keep him overnight and so had sent him home with doctor’s orders to rest. The gauze was drenched in blood again and needed changing. Right in the middle of the task, he happened to pull open the curtains to his bathroom. In spilled the light from the full moon.

He knew he was in trouble even before the transformation began.

Racing to the back door, he flung it open and began to strip bare, stumbling out of his pants just in time for his underwear to tear at the seams. It always did during the transformation, because Lou was a shy man who would rather buy underwear every few months than expose himself in his own back yard. His feet, bones cracking as socks tore open to reveal paws, stumbled over the terrain as he let out a howl. It was a spine-chilling sound, shrill and wolf-like, but with just enough man for it to be punctuated by his scream.

Several folks would shut off their lights in the neighbourhood and lock their doors when they heard the sound.

Once he was a hulking mass of fur and teeth, without his senses as a human, he took off into the woods to hunt. It wasn’t long before the scent of the town drew Lou. Usually, he was working at the camp. Usually, everyone else went home early. Usually, he didn’t go into town. Tonight, he would.

Jesse spotted him first. She was working in her kitchen when the floodlights came on in the yard. They were meant to scare the coyotes.

Lou reared up and covered his eyes with a snarl. Jesse screamed and dropped a dish, shattering at her feet. Her husband turned to see the commotion, but by the time Jesse had pointed out the window to where the werewolf had been, Louis was gone.

Padding down the street, away from the bright streetlights and the stinky cars, Louis followed the smell of his own trail. It was fresh and bloody. He followed it to the clinic on the edge of town, where he had gotten stitches.

He scared the doctor on the way, who lived in a house just next to the clinic. He rooted around in the garbage for the rotting meat inside, then continued to follow the smell of blood. It was staler in the mountains, but easier to follow. There was less pollution. Besides, there was something else that smelled delicious. Some poor soul was out in the mountains alone on the full moon.

Lou approached the human on all fours, snout to the ground but eyes on the prize. The smell of blood was stronger there, near the bottom of the logging road. Chris’s scent was strong here too, ripe with concern and fear. The werewolf couldn’t smell that before the change, but it was clear that Chris was a good friend. His scent was stale here though. Hours old. And the new scent was just ahead, back to him.

Danny.

Louis had the presence of mind to falter in his lunge. The younger lumberjack didn’t escape unharmed, yelping when Lou’s massive paws pushed him into the forest roughage. Headphones bounced against the roots of a tree and the unlit cigarette between Danny’s teeth went flying. He smelled like food.

The younger lumberjack struggled to his feet, pushing with all his might against the massive form that Louis Pines was cursed to take roughly every 28 days. Lou was pushed off, but not for long. He reared onto his back legs, teeth bared and hot drool dripping from his jaws. Throwing back his head, he howled. It was deep and heady and hair-raising.

Danny ran, forgetting the wireless headphones he’d gotten for his birthday. He ran as fast and hard as his legs could carry him, towards town. Towards safety. Feet pounding against the pavement and heart racing in his chest, it was all he could do. No one would hear him scream out here.

But he supposed that was the point.

Lou was upon him before the next light. Jaws snapping and grabbing at Danny’s clothing, he was nothing but a monstrous appetite. Until one of those steel-toed boots of Danny’s hit him in the right shoulder. Wheeling away with a garbled, pained noise, the werewolf collapsed to his knees. With twisted limbs, he hugged himself, but not before Danny saw the wound.

“You!” he hollered, pointing. “You! You’re–“

Louis winced as he stood, hulking form casting a dark shadow over Danny’s trembling body. There was one thing Danny wasn’t, though. Danny wasn’t a nonbeliever.

He turned and ran again. This time, when Lou chased after him, it was at a distance. This prey was feisty. Perhaps too feisty.

Perhaps even not worth the risk.

Falling behind at a trot, then a jog, then a walk, Louis began to sniff the air again, looking for something else to eat. The faint scent of sheep from the nearest farm filled his nostrils, and he veered off the road. It was in the midst of eating the carcass of one of those sheep that the others began to rally.

It was at the witching hour when the others formed a crowd.

Finally, it was the wee hours of the morning, before the light touched the horizon while the moon was still pretty high in the sky, that the crowd marched into the streets. There was power in numbers, and now they had a target. The death of their livestock would stop tonight, and there would be no more werewolf attacks on their residents!

Louis was making his way back to his home, following his own scents as he did every time this happened, when the crowd came upon him. He stood, frozen, as they rounded the corner. Flashlights, bright as spotlights, zeroed in on him. His eyes reflected back their faces, contorted in rage and holy fury. The priest, who had hardly any parish here in Bryte, carried an actual torch. Or maybe it was a shirt soaked in kerosene wrapped around an old broom handle. It was hard to tell.

It was the priest that pointed to Louis, but it was Danny, leading the crowd, that spoke.

“See the staples? That’s him!”

The crowd broke into a run. So did Louis.

He didn’t get far. He didn’t need to. The woods were his second home on these nights. They would become his first home, too, once the priest had his way and torched the lumberjack’s house.

The crowd searched for him for hours even when he disappeared, until daybreak came and many of them had jobs to get back to. It wasn’t long after that, that the moon set.

When Lou came back to his senses, he wasn’t too far from the ruins of his house. Cold in the chilly morning air, he snuck back towards town. The smell of ash and smoke was heavy. When he saw why, his stomach sunk. Everything he had built up from losing everything before… It was all gone.

Naked amongst the burnt rubble, he sat down and cried.

Truly, it had been a terrible night for Lou Pines.

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