The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 11)

Chapter 11

Juan found his way to the center of the park and the section that they had roped off with yellow tape yesterday morning. The spot where they found Kim. They said a bear attacked her. Juan had never heard of a bear in Lakeside Park before. It was all so unreal. The park seemed unusually quiet tonight. Probably because of the curfew. He hadn’t seen anyone else in the park on his way here. He couldn’t be sure exactly where they found her body, so he found a spot under a tree just off the path to leave the flowers. He lowered his head and said a prayer for Kim.

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Brad spotted the wolf right after Johnny left the path. At first, fear held him in place, and he couldn’t move. Then he felt the weight of the camera around his neck and remembered that this was precisely why he was here. However, now he had two tasks. First, he had to somehow save Johnny and get them both to safety. But second, he still wanted desperately to get photographic evidence of the werewolf, so he could go to the police and not have them write him off as crazy.

These thoughts in mind, he started moving again. He left the path to seek the cover of the trees, but he only dared to just go barely inside the edge of the woods. Once off the trail, he crouched down and snapped the biggest zoom lens he had onto his camera. He scanned all around with his camera, trying to use it to better locate Johnny or the wolf. Then he saw him. Johnny was lying down, hiding in a clump of bushes about seventy yards ahead and off to the left of the path. Brad almost breathed a sigh of relief at finding the boy, but then on the camera screen, he noticed something else. Not more than thirty feet behind Johnny, and getting closer, was a pair of bright shining blue eyes. The same bright shining eyes that freaked him out just last night, the eyes of the werewolf. Something was off, though. Something about the wolf was different than last night. Then it hit him. The wolf last night had been silver and grey, this wolf was a light brown. That’s weird. Could a werewolf be different colors every time they changed? Or worse, could there be two werewolves? Brad didn’t even want to believe there was one, much less two. He tried to push those thoughts out of his head for now and push forward with what he needed to do. Camera in one hand and cell phone in the other, Brad sprinted towards both Johnny and the wolf. He no longer cared about being quiet, now was the time for action.

Brad reached Johnny’s hiding spot just in time to see the boy turn his head and see the beast. Brad ran off the path and crashed into the bush, not stopping until he was right beside Johnny. Johnny screamed. Brad screamed. The wolf snarled, growled, and moved forward.

Without even thinking about what he was doing, Brad turned the music player on his phone on and up to full volume and raised his camera and started taking pictures. Johnny was still screaming. Rock music blared at maximum volume. The camera flash flashed non-stop. The werewolf snarled and growled, wildly flipping its head from side to side. It stood up straight and howled. With one last growl, the beast turned and fled into the darkness.

Johnny ran to Brad and wrapped his arms around him. He buried his face into the chest of the older boy, tears streaming down his young face. Through choked sobs, he spoke. “Brad, what was that? It wasn’t a bear. It looked like a werewolf, but those aren’t real, are they? They’re just in movies and tv. Werewolves can’t be real, can they? Brad, you saved my life! I’m so scared. Please take me home before it comes back and eats us both! Come on, Brad, let’s go!” Johnny started pulling on Brad’s arm, directing him back towards his house, his chocolate ice cream was long forgotten.

Brad followed along with Johnny, clutching tight to the boy’s hand. “Johnny, it sure did look like a werewolf to me, too. I didn’t think they were real either. I think I got lots of pictures of it on my camera. Maybe your dad can look at them and tell us both what he thinks it was.”

“Yeah. My dad will know. He’s the sheriff. He’ll find it and kill it, whatever it was, to keep us all safe.” Johnny said, still walking quickly towards the edge of the park and home.

“Yeah. He’ll kill it for sure.” Brad held tight to the boy’s hand but found himself lost in thought. Two wolves. Two very different wolves if he was being honest with himself. As odd as it was to try to pin personality traits onto something that he didn’t even want to believe in, he thought that they were very different wolves. The silvery grey one from last night didn’t hesitate to attack and kill Kevin. There would have been no stopping it no matter how much noise he made. He was sure of that. Tonight, though, even before he ran in, the wolf was just lying there watching Johnny. Then, as soon as Brad rushed in, the wolf was startled and growled and howled, but it took the first opportunity to turn and run. It didn’t attack, it didn’t even stay to put up much of a fight. What the hell was going on?

“Brad! Come on! This way! We’re almost to my house!”

Brad shook his head to clear his thoughts and ran with Johnny toward the Hanson house.

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Juan was still praying when he heard the first scream. He jumped to his feet, looking all around. Then he heard a second scream followed by loud music. Juan took a couple steps towards where the noises were coming from, but then he heard a loud animalistic howl that froze him in his tracks. He took a couple steps backward, nearly stumbling over a large rock. He heard leaves rustling, and branches and twigs snapping as something or someone large ran through the forest. Juan was still frozen in place, right in the middle of the path, listening to whatever was running towards him. Then he saw something huge and grey break through the trees and run across the trail. He thought to himself that it was as big as a bear, but he didn’t think bears ran that fast on two legs, and he’d never seen or even heard of a bear that was silver or grey other than the koala. And this sure as hell wasn’t a koala. The creature stopped, just as it crossed the path and swung its head towards Juan. It stood straight up, lifted its head, and howled.

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Brad and Johnny exited the park and nearly sprinted the last two blocks to the Hanson house. Out of breath, they slammed the door shut behind them and locked it. Both boys charged into the living room and collapsed on the couch.

Sheriff Hanson heard the commotion and rushed out of the kitchen and into the living room. “Johnny! Where have you been? You’re in big trouble, young man!” He saw Brad as he entered the room. “Brad Holliday, what are you doing here? You’re out past curfew. Does your mother know where you are?”

Johnny jumped up and grabbed his father’s arm. “Dad! Dad! We saw it! The monster! It’s not a dumb ole bear, it’s a werewolf!” Johnny was practically screaming. “Brad saw it too. He even took pictures!”

Sheriff Hanson looked down at his son, then over at Brad, then back at Johnny. “Johnny, I don’t know what you think you saw, but werewolves don’t exist. This isn’t the time to be making up stories. People have died, this isn’t a game or a joke.” He looked at Brad, hoping for support.

Brad released a sigh and looked up at the sheriff. “Sheriff Hanson, I’m sorry I broke curfew. No, my mom doesn’t know where I am or what I have been doing. I’ll call her after I talk to you. This is important.”

The sheriff glared at Brad. “Why were you out after curfew? What were you up to? And what’s this Johnny is saying about monsters and photographs?”

Brad sighed again and held up his camera. “Can I download the pics I took tonight onto your computer? Otherwise, you won’t believe me any more than you believe what Johnny said.”

The sheriff scowled. “What are you saying, Brad? What’s in the pictures?”

Brad flipped his camera over and removed the memory card. He got up and looked the sheriff right in the eye. “A werewolf, of course. I saw one kill Kevin last night and Johnny and I saw one tonight. I think they were different wolves, but at least I caught one on camera. Now, where is your computer?”

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Juan stood completely still, frozen in fear, for just a moment, but that’s all it took for the wolf to charge at him with incredible speed. Juan snapped out of his trance but knew it was already too late to run. The creature was almost upon him. In one fluid movement, Juan sidestepped the beast, drew his switchblade, and drove the knife into the back of the wolf’s left shoulder. The beast howled in pain and anger. It spun towards Juan and slashed at him with its claws. The creature’s right claw connected with Juan’s back and tore through fabric, skin, and muscle, opening wounds in his back nearly from his neck to his waist. Juan screamed in agony and fell to his knees.

The wolf crouched, growling at Juan, and then sprung forward with a leap, ready to attack again. Juan dove forward, and the beast landed just behind him, snarling in frustration. Juan scrambled to his feet and ran right at the werewolf. He was quick and reached the wolf before it could turn towards him again. Juan wrenched his switchblade free of the wolf’s shoulder and slashed across its upper arm, eliciting another howl of pain.

The werewolf, enraged now, spun towards its prey, the prey that had hurt it twice now. Juan tried to take a step back, but it was too late. The wolf struck with incredible speed, slashing one huge claw across Juan’s chest. Juan fell to his knees again, crying and screaming in pain, the remains of his shirt hanging in tatters off his body. The five deep, jagged wounds poured blood down Juan’s chest and abs and onto the ground in front of him. The wounds on his back also still dripped blood down his body. The loss of blood now took its toll on Juan, and he began to get dizzy and fell face first onto the ground. Juan was barely conscious and could only utter a weak moan as he felt the huge teeth of the werewolf sink into the exposed flesh of his neck.

——————————————————————–

Sheriff Hanson shook his head when he heard what Brad had to say. “The computer is in the den. Follow me but call your mom right now. I’ll look at whatever it is you think you took pictures of once your mother knows you are safe.”

Brad frowned at the “whatever it is you think you took pictures of” comment, but he slipped his phone out of his pocket and called his mom. She answered on the first ring.

“Bradley Alexander Holliday! Where are you?! I have been worried sick! Matt and I have been calling you for an hour. Is David with you? He’s not here either!” Nancy screamed into the phone, a mixture of anger and fear gripping her body.

“Mom, please calm down. I’m ok. I’m at the Hanson’s right now. David isn’t home yet? I did see him earlier, but if he’s not home, I better tell the sheriff right now. Let me do that, and then I will answer all your questions.”

“At least you are somewhere safe, but you’re in big trouble when you get home! When we’re done talking, I want to talk to the sheriff.” Nancy yelled into the phone but hearing that he was with the sheriff did calm her nerves a bit.

“Alright, mom. I will, but chill. I’m totally fine. The sheriff is telling his deputies about David right now. Let me tell you about my night.” Brad sighed. He was scared for David, as he knew what was loose in the park.

“Honey, wait a minute.” Brad heard his mother continue talking, muffled by distance. She took the phone away from her mouth to talk to Matt. “Matt! I have Brad on the phone, but David isn’t with him. Brad’s at the Hanson’s. Keep trying to call your brother.” A slight pause and he heard Matt’s voice in the background. Then he heard his mom again. “I’m sure the sheriff is on top of it, but I’ll check.” His mom came back on the phone. “Brad, did the sheriff send people out looking for David?”

“Yes, mom. He called them as soon as I told him that David was out there.” Brad said.

“Good.” Nancy sighed. “Now tell me why you were out.”

Brad took a deep breath and started to tell his mom about his night. She let him tell his whole story without interruption. When he finished, he only heard silence on the other end of the phone. “Mom? Are you still there?” Then he heard her sigh.

Nancy sighed and took a deep breath before she responded to her son’s story. “Yes, I’m here, Bradley. You never should have gone into the park by yourself, especially without telling me. I… it’s just so hard to believe. I do think you have great instincts as a journalist, but this… have the sheriff call me as soon as you both look at your photographs.”

“Mom, it’s real. I’ve seen it twice. Johnny saw it, too. I think I got good pics, but you have to believe me no matter what. I gotta go, mom. The pics finished downloading onto his computer. Please believe me. I’m not lying to you. I know how this sounds, but it’s real.” Brad pleaded with his mother.

“We’ll talk about it more when you get home. Go check out the photos and then have Ronnie call me. Stay the night there. Matt and I will come get you tomorrow morning. Good night, son.” Nancy hung up the phone after Brad said goodnight. Then she went to talk to Matt.

————————————————————————

Nancy walked into the living room where Matt was still frantically trying to get in touch with his brother.

“Any luck yet, Matt?” Nancy asked.

“No. It goes straight to voicemail now.” Matt replied through clenched teeth.

“Well, I have an interesting and unbelievable story that Brad just told me. He says he has proof, but it’s just so unreal.” Nancy shook her head and sighed.

“What did he say, Aunt Nancy? What’s he been doing all night?” Matt asked, while still obsessively checking his phone for messages from his brother.

“He claims he took his camera to the park and hid until after dark to get photos of the werewolf he witnessed kill Kevin Williamson.” Nancy rolled her eyes and looked over at Matt.

Matt felt like he was about to pass out. He paled and slumped back against the couch. His nightmares came rushing back into his mind along with everything that he and Eli had talked about tonight. It was all true. He had to talk to Elias.  Things were happening faster and faster. Eli would know what to do. Oh, God, David is a werewolf. He tried to get a handle on his emotions before his aunt noticed there was anything wrong with him.

“Matt? Are you ok? You look like you’re about to pass out.” Nancy put her hand against her nephew’s forehead, checking for signs of a fever.

Matt sat up straight and looked at his aunt. “I’m fine, Aunt Nancy. Just a bit overwhelmed with worry for David and now this crazy story from Brad.” He faked a laugh. “Werewolves. Crazy.” He tried to smile reassuringly even though a million crazy thoughts were running through his head. “Was Brad going to call back after he looked at the pics?”

“I told him to have Sheriff Hanson call after they looked at them. I want a sane, objective opinion.” Nancy smiled. “It had to have been a bear or a big dog or even a wolf. Right, Matt? A werewolf. Humph. Not possible.”

“Yeah, Aunt Nancy. You’re right. What a crazy idea.” Matt faked another laugh, but his stomach twisted itself into knots, his worry for his brother growing by the minute.

———————————————————————

Brad hung his head and nearly growled in frustration. The photographs were all completely blurry. You could see shapes and colors, but not a clear picture. “Look at this one, Sherriff. You can see the shape of its head and ears. And those two spots of blue are its eyes. When have you ever seen a bear with blue eyes? Come on, sheriff, I know the pics are blurry, but you have to see that much!” Brad looked at the sheriff with a mix of hope and despair.

“Brad, I’m sorry, but that could be anything or nothing at all. I can’t base an official decision on pics like these. I still say that it was a bear. Werewolves just don’t exist. It’s brown and it’s big, probably a grizzly.” The sheriff said as he looked from the photos to the two boys staring intently at him.

“Dad! I saw it, too! You have to believe us. It wasn’t some stupid ole bear. It was closer to me than you are right now. It was a werewolf. I swear!” Johnny looked up at his father, tears forming at the corners of his eyes.

“Just go to bed. We’ll talk about this in the morning.” He glanced at the doorway, where Terrie stood listening to the conversation. “You, too, Terrie. Set Brad up on the couch and then all of you go to bed.” The two Hanson kids left the room, leaving the sheriff alone with Brad.

Ronnie Hanson put his hand on Brad’s shoulder and looked down at the boy. “Brad, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to send these photos to a friend of mine in the crime lab up in Bangor. Maybe he can sharpen the image. I don’t know. I will agree that it doesn’t look like a bear, but I’m not even close to ready to believe in werewolves.”

Brad let out a big sigh. “Thank you, sheriff. Thank you for not blowing this off completely and thinking of me as a liar. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to get the photos back.”

“I’ll call your mother now and fill her in. I’ll also check in with my deputies and see if they’ve found David. You go get some sleep. You’ve had a long night, regardless of what you saw.” The sheriff took his phone out of his pocket as Brad left the room.

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By the time that Brad got out to the living room, Terrie already had his bed set up and gone to bed herself. Brad stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers and lay on the make-shift bed. He gathered his thoughts and then picked up his phone and called Matt. His cousin picked up on the first ring.

“Brad! What the hell, dude? You and David had us so worried. Did the sheriff find David yet?” Matt didn’t even bother with a hello.

“I’m sorry, Matt, but I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do. I didn’t want you or anyone else to try and talk me out of it. And no, they haven’t found David yet. The sheriff has all his deputies out looking for him. That’s not the only reason I called. Did mom tell you about our conversation?” Brad asked.

“Yeah. She told me, and it really got me curious and even more worried. I’ll explain why when we’re together, not over the phone. How’d your pics come out?” Matt wanted to say more but decided to wait until they saw each other face to face.

“The pictures are all crap. All of them are blurry. They just look like big brown blobs with two little blue blobs where the eyes should be. It really sucks, but the sheriff said he’ll send them out and try and get his friend to clean them up a bit.” Brad said in a low, depressed voice.

“Wait… what? Oh my God. Are you saying that the werewolf has blue eyes? You can’t be freaking serious. Tell me that’s not what you mean.” Disbelief hit Matt like a sledgehammer. He could barely breathe.

“Yeah. The werewolf has bright blue eyes. Weird, huh?” Brad said.

“Weirder than you know. By the way, when you saw David, was it before or after you saw the werewolf?” Matt asked.

“Before. Way before. The sun hadn’t even gone down yet when I saw David. Why?” Now Brad was curious about his cousin’s weird questions. 

“I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow. There’s a lot I need to tell you and Terrie. Good night, Brad.” A zillion thoughts were running through Matt’s head, and he doubted if he would even sleep.

“Good night, Matt. See you tomorrow.” Brad hung up and went to sleep.

———————————————————————

Matt put his phone on the nightstand and stared up at the ceiling. In his mind, he replayed the conversation with Brad and every detail of every nightmare about David and wolves that he’d ever had. The blue-eyed wolf had to be David. It hadn’t killed either Johnny or Brad tonight, but that still didn’t mean that it was innocent of the deaths the two prior nights. Matt knew that there were two werewolves roaming the night, he prayed that only one was a killer. Matt’s mind was still racing when he finally drifted off to sleep.

Once asleep, Matt began to dream. At first, it was the same old nightmare. It started with him in the car with his parents and sister, then the accident happened. The dream continued with him seeing the grey wolf eat David and then stand up and stare at him with its bright blue eyes, David’s eyes. That’s where his nightmares usually ended, but not tonight. Still, in the nightmare, the grey wolf snarled and started towards him. When the wolf moved, Matt saw three mutilated corpses behind it. Corpses were piled on top of the brown werewolf who was struggling to free itself. Matt tried to scream, but he couldn’t. The grey wolf was closing in on him. Matt finally was able to get up, turn and run away.

The scene in his nightmare then shifted, and he found himself in his bedroom here at Aunt Nancy’s house. He looked out the window and saw the brown werewolf running across the backyard towards the house. The wolf crashed into the bushes underneath David’s bedroom window, and that’s when Matt woke up. He sat bolt upright in bed, shaking. He ran his fingers through his sweat-soaked hair. Then he heard a sound outside his window. The same sound as in his dream. Someone or something was in the bushes outside David’s bedroom window.

He got up and looked out the window and thought he saw something big moving around. Scared but curious, he got his flashlight and shone it down towards the bushes. What he saw made him jump and then run quickly and quietly downstairs and out into the backyard. He hoped Aunt Nancy was still asleep.

————————————————————————-

Matt ran to the bushes and dropped to his knees next to the unconscious body of his brother. “David! Wake up!” Matt blinked away the tears as he looked down at his brother’s nearly naked body, covered in blood. The remnants of David’s clothes barely hung to his body in tattered shreds. Matt checked him for injuries but found nothing. There were white feathers stuck to the blood-stained clothing. Chicken feathers? Possibly.

Matt shook his brother. “David! Wake up. I need to get you in the house before anyone else sees you like this. Wake up!”

“Where am I? Matt? What’s going on?” David tried to sit up. Matt knelt by his brother and helped him sit up.

“I think I have an idea what’s going on, but right now we have to get you into the house. We can talk in there. You’re not going to like what I have to say though, David.” Matt grimaced and helped David to his feet.

“I’m ok to walk now, Matt. I was just a bit disoriented. And I’m thirsty. Let’s get into the house just like you said. I need some water. And obviously a shower.” David said, looking down at himself. He followed Matt into the house and up the stairs into his bedroom.

In the brightly lit bedroom, David stripped off the tattered remains of his clothes and looked at himself in the full-length mirror. “Matt, there’s something seriously wrong with me. This is the third night in a row that I’ve woken up covered in blood, with nothing to explain all the blood. It can’t be mine. What’s happening to me?” David looked at his brother, tears in his eyes.

“David, you’re a werewolf.” Matt simply stated.

“That’s what I was afraid of, but I didn’t want to say it out loud.” David hung his head and walked into the bathroom to take a shower.

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