Percy meets a newcomer on his night out.
|Percy’s Night Out|
Percival McNaughton knew what day it was. Without glancing at the calendar or consulting the almanac, he could feel the weight of the day pressing in on him. The knowledge was there in his bones, an awareness creeping from the dark core of his being into the light of consciousness. Today, or rather tonight, was the time.
Something in his spirit kept tabs on the state of the moon at all times. And the full moon announced its arrival with a strange insistence, a foreboding that would not be ignored. Percy spent the daylight hours in preparation, dressing only in his cheapest and well worn clothes, not bothering with shoes but padding about the house in stockinged feet. He combed his hair backwards rather than across, and brushed his teeth with extra care. Might as well start with a clean sheet, he reasoned.
He made sure all the doors were unlocked and even left the back door slightly ajar, remembering that the front had swollen in the recent rain and was now sticking at awkward moments. The last thing he wanted was to be trapped inside on this night of all nights.
Finally, he reminded Hargreaves, the butler, that tonight was his monthly holiday and watched him set off down the drive. Bent of back and shuffling in step, the old servant was too much of a fixture in Percy’s life to be disposed of now.
All was ready and Percy settled down in the big armchair in the study to await the night. He had selected an ancient and well-thumbed copy of his family’s ancestral record, Lycanthropy and the McNaughtons, to assist the hours in their passing. It seemed appropriate to celebrate these last hours of daylight in the company of his most infamous ancestors.
Outside the house, the sun sank until grasped by the bare fingers of the Brakan Wood. The trees turned black in the growing darkness and seemed to pull the sun lower in eagerness for its end. The sky grew ever more gloomy until, at last, the night reigned. Half an hour later, the moon rose above the forest, a perfect orb of sickly light in the inky sky.
Percy grunted awake from his doze and his fingers lost their grip of the ancestral tome. It fell to the carpet and Percy was awake and aware of the first tingling of the skin that heralded the change. He relaxed and allowed it to happen.
For some reason, it’s always the hands that change first. The hair upon the backs grows with a speed great enough to be noticed and in a few minutes they sport a glossy, thick coat of luxurious fur. The nails have become talons by then, bright, white scimitars on each finger, ready for the night’s adventure. Now Percy’s face begins to change, the mouth and chin extending to become a snout, the mouth wide and slightly open so that the pointed teeth can be glimpsed, the saliva catching pinpoints of light from the candles in the room.
At the same time the hair on the face and head is growing apace, racing to cover the insult of bare skin wherever it appears, the eyes become round and deep, dark pits, touched again with points of reflected light. The ears have extended upwards and now are covered with fur, the neck reaches forward from shoulders that are expanding and tearing the tired cloth of his chosen shirt. His legs have undergone a strange transformation, seeming for a moment to bend the wrong way and then, as the trousers split and tear at the massive thighs swelling within, the rear limbs of the wolf emerge into the light.
Percy rises to stand, awkwardly but upright, before the chair. He shakes himself like a dog emerging from water, and the torn clothes begin to drag and fall off him to reveal the animal he has become. The moon can be seen, bright in the night sky through a window, and Percy lifts his head and howls his promise to the world. There will be blood shed tonight.
He drops on all fours and pads swiftly through the house until, pushing the back door open with his muzzle, he enters the blackness of the night.
The moon was riding high in the sky when Percy made his first kill. It was some poor peasant from the local village, drunk with ale from his usual pub and staggering through the forest on the shortcut to his cottage, who provided easy prey for the werewolf. The fellow had no inkling of what the black shape was that leapt upon him in the dark. He had time only to mumble, “Nice doggie,” before Percy had his jugular ripped open and was shaking the yokel out of existence.
The werewolf’s meal was a matter of liquid sounds and snuffling noises, interspersed with the occasional growl and spitting noise as Percy disposed of an errant button or clasp. He was well on his way to being full when he heard the noise of a twig being snapped in the darkness in front of him. At the same time, a faint and unfamiliar smell came to his wolfish nostrils.
Percy’s whole body tensed and a low growl issued from the depth of his suspicion. He stared intently at the spot from which the noise had come. And, as if in answer to his threat, a snarl rent the thick air of the forest. The vague shape of a wolf appeared from the darkness and the fur on Percy’s back stood up in fury at the trespass upon his territory. His growl became continuous as he watched the intruder edge closer to his kill.
And then recognition hit Percy’s awareness and his growl ceased immediately. He knew in that moment that this was the smell of a female. She, too, seemed to know that he no longer represented a threat and she stopped growling and stepped forward a pace.
“So this is how the lord of the manor greets his guests,” she said.
Another werewolf! So long had Percy’s isolation in lycanthropia been that he had imagined himself the sole creature of that persuasion in the country. This revelation gave rise to possibilities that he had dreamed of but always considered impossible. It could mean a mate, for instance, and even, beyond that, might result in progeny, something that he had given up all hope of years ago. The McNaughton name might yet be preserved! He must approach this situation with caution so that he not frighten her off.
“I must apologise, madam, at my inexcusable rudeness. But, you will understand, I had no idea you were there. And, when you revealed yourself, it was my instinct to guard my kill from you.” He licked his lips as he realised what a bloody state his muzzle must be in. “But there is plenty, if you’ve a mind to partake, milady. Indeed, I had been saving the liver as a last tidbit but you are more than welcome to it now.”
“You are too kind, milord,” she answered, her lips curling in a wolfish smile,” but there are other matters to attend to first, I believe.”
“And they are?” Percy was slightly puzzled and afraid that his lack of lupine etiquette had made him appear a fool.
“Well, of course,” she replied, moving forward, “we have to smell butts first.”
Word count: 1,238
For Weekly SCREAMS!!! October 29 2021
Prompt: What, why, when and werewolves.