A young woman on a weekend getaway encounters a werewolf.
She sat up in bed and switched off her vibrator. Being careful not to make undue noise, she slid her legs over the side of the bed and onto the floor. She reached for her robe and thought better of it. Ella had seen enough horror movies in her twenty years to know that nude, or even nearly-nude young women never survive.
The clothes she’d packed for the weekend she’d stored in the drawers of the nightstand beside the bed. She opened the bottom drawer and selected a pair of sweats and a long-sleeve t-shirt. She stepped into the pants and was already moving toward the bedroom door as she pulled the shirt over her head.
A small squeak escaped the hinges of the bedroom door as she turned the knob and pushed. She stood for a moment in silence, listening. Hearing nothing out of place, she eased forward, looked to her right and left. The small hallway was as she remembered it, no broken glass to be seen, no intruders or poltergeists with which to contend.
She padded, barefoot, into the hallway and to the top of the stairs. Again, she leaned forward, this time peering into what was visible of the downstairs sitting room. As far as she could tell, that was empty also.
Stepping carefully, so as not to elicit excessive creaking from the wooden staircase, Ella took the stairs to the ground floor. At the bottom she paused, listening for anything out of the ordinary. Her eyes swept the large, high-ceilinged room. They stopped on the sliding glass doors that lead out to the back patio. Ella gasped. There was no glass in the left pane, save for a few jagged shards that clung to the framing like transparent fangs.
Oh, my God.
Ella’s mind raced. What would cause such damage to a glass door, other than an intruder? She felt the blood in her veins chill a few degrees.
She heard it, then. Coming from behind her, from the direction of the small kitchenette, a low, throaty growling. Her stomach felt suddenly cold and heavy. She braced herself and turned.
The first thing she could see were its eyes. In the near-dark of the kitchen, they floated like two fiery yellow coals. Ella yelped. With an effort of will, she held the scream that had built within her at bay. She stood as still as she could, shaking as she now was.
Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and confirmed for her what she already suspected. It was a wolf that had broken into her cabin, that was now regarding her as though she were a cut of prime Angus beef on a platter at a steakhouse. Her mind raced. What was it you were supposed to do if confronted by a wolf? Play dead? Something told her that was for bears.
You should say a prayer; You’re going to die.
Yes, she realized, that was probably true. The thing was, she wasn’t ready to die. Not yet, and not here. Her mind worked at a feverish pace, trying to recall any and every scrap of information she’d ever acquired on wolves. It turned out to be painfully little.
Never taking her eyes from those of the wolf--and damn, was it a big animal--Ella wondered if perhaps the creature could be scared away with a good deal of noise. Again, she suspected that might be what to do in the case of a bear encounter, but she had no other options.
On the other hand, the beast hadn’t made a move for her yet. Might trying to scare it away change that? Probably, she conceded to herself...but again, what other choices did she have? Stand here and hope that the wolf went away?
Ella’s mind, apparently, had come up with a third option. Only dimly aware that she was doing so, she took a large, deliberate step to her right, toward the staircase.
The wolf drew back its lips, bared its teeth. The growl emanating from the animal’s throat increased in pitch and volume. An icy hand took Ella’s stomach and gave a squeeze. She stood still, not daring to breathe.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ella caught a glint of reflected moonlight. She turned and identified the culprit, the glinting end of the handle of one of the fireplace tools. Each seated in its proper place on a silver stand was a brush, a small shovel, and a poker. As she studied the curved, dual-tipped end of the poker, the wolf snarled as though it had picked up on her intent. The animal took a slow step forward.
Time, Ella knew, was running short. If she was going to do something to try and save her life, it had to be now. She tried to gauge her chances of successfully reaching and removing the poker from its holder before the wolf could reach her. The gut-feeling she had was that they weren’t at all good.
If she could distract the creature while she went for the makeshift weapon, though...that, she reasoned, may buy her a precious second or two.
The adrenaline coursing through her body made preparing for action feel the correct response to this terrifying situation. In her mind’s eye, for the briefest of instances, Ella was standing at the open door of a small airplane, suited-up for skydiving and readying herself to step out into thin air. She filled her lungs.
...and screamed. Shrieked, in fact, and she flailed her arms up and out to the sides as she did. She took an aborted, but aggressive, step forward.
The wolf, not having expected its cornered prey to lash out so, growled loudly. It made no move to attack, though. Committed, Ella jumped to the left, still screeching. Her arms groped for the handle to any of the tools, preferably the poker.
Ella didn’t realize the wolf had reared back onto its haunches and attacked until she felt its vise-like jaws clamp down on her right thigh. She screamed. The animal thrashed back and forth, trying to tear loose a chunk of her leg. With speed born of desperation, Ella’s hand found one of the fireplace tool’s handles and seized it free from its holder. Praying that she’d chosen either the poker or the shovel, she brought the tool down in a sweeping arc.
It had been the brush she'd snatched free, she noted with some disappointment. The edge of the silver housing for the bristles had landed right above the wolf’s left eye, though, and Ella had the satisfaction of seeing blood flow down the animal’s face.
She lifted the brush again, dimly aware that the wolf had intensified the force and torque of his bite. She brought the bristled silver hammer down on the wolf’s head. This time the creature yelped as the makeshift weapon made contact. And, if Ella wasn’t mistaken, the pressure of the wolf’s bite had lessened too.
Aware, in an out-of-body sort of way, that she was now crying, Ella lifted the brush again. The silver rod seemed incredibly heavy in her grasp.
This time, the wolf released her. The animal staggered. It looked up at Ella as though it had only just now become aware of her presence.
A wave of inexplicable pity came over Ella, and she swallowed it whole. Someone was laughing now, which was very annoying. It made for a troubling duet when paired with her crying. She lifted the brush and thought of whoever the hell was laughing:
If you don’t shut the fuck up you'll be next.
She brought the brush down. The wolf yelped and reeled. Its legs wobbled, and the animal fell over on its side.
Using her weapon as a sort of cane, Ella stood. She favored her uninjured leg but was gratified to find that the other still bore some weight. She tossed the short silver broom aside. From the stand next to the fireplace, she removed the poker. Almost as an afterthought, she looked around to see who’d been laughing. She was troubled, but not surprised, to realize that it had been she. Somehow, she was both laughing and crying now. It felt awful.
Ella limped over to the felled wolf. It seemed to be unconscious, but she didn’t wait around to find out. She lifted the poker, its point facing downward, and closed her eyes. Spearlike, she brought it down, hard.
Her idea had been to stab the wolf many times, just to be safe. The feel of the poker penetrating the creature’s hide had been horrific, though. She left it where it was.
Without warning, Ella’s field of vision telescoped. She drifted close to the edge of consciousness. After a moment, the spell passed, leaving her feeling dizzy and disoriented. She looked to the wolf she’d stabbed, half expecting the creature to have found its feet. What she saw scared her more than that….
The wolf was gone. In its place, a red-haired boy of about thirteen. Protruding from the dead boy’s chest was a silver fireplace poker.
Ella’s world seemed to collapse into the space between herself and the young boy. She stepped to him, terrified and amazed. She crouched beside him.
The boy coughed then, and his eyes flew open. Ella scrambled backward on her haunches, startled. The child turned his head and looked at her.
My God, what have I done?
“I’m sorry,” the boy said in between coughing fits that produced globs of blood and phlegm. “I can’t...can’t help it.” He closed his eyes, then. His head lolled to the right.
For a good while, Ella sat cross-legged beside the dead boy. She wondered what she would say to the police because she was going to have to call them. The truth was out of the question, of course...but then isn’t the truth a subjective thing, anyway? It was, Ella decided.
Somewhere, there was a truth that would suit this situation, one that would exonerate her in the eyes of the law. Somewhere...but where to begin looking for it Ella had no idea….
Meanwhile, at a deeper level of understanding, Ella’s subconscious was deciding what truth it would tell itself. Because, after all, there is no such thing as a werewolf.
J Robert Kane
Oct 25, 2017