David let the hot water cascade over his body. He watched the shampoo and soap mix with the reddish-brown water as it all swirled down the drain. He wracked his brain trying to remember where he had been tonight. His last clear memory was of Sky. They’d had dinner and then they went to the park and then… what? Had he hurt Sky? He couldn’t remember. Texting Sky would be the first thing he did when he was out of the shower.
Three nights, three blackouts, and three times waking up covered in blood. Matt’s idea was ridiculous and impossible, but it was also the idea that ran through his own head. Skylar told him not to think that until all other possibilities were ruled out. It looked like that time was now. A werewolf. Was it too late to convince Matt that he was just trying to fit his own nightmares into David’s reality? How much did Matt know? He’d have to have a long talk with Matt when he got out of the shower. He just couldn’t have that conversation standing there naked and covered in blood.
David stepped out of the shower and toweled himself dry. He slipped on a pair of sweats and went back into his room to talk to his brother.
As soon as David closed the door, Matt leaped to his feet. “David, you have to listen to me. I never told Brad that the wolf in my dream had blue eyes and now he says he has seen a blue-eyed werewolf and has pictures of it! And I know that it was a wolf and not a dog that bit you in the backyard. Add that in connection with what’s been happening with you and how can it be anything else?”
“Matt, werewolves don’t exist outside of stories. I can’t explain my lost time, and yes, I am very concerned about waking up covered in blood. But a werewolf? Come on.” David sat on his bed while Matt paced back and forth in front of him.
Mat stopped directly in front of David and held up both hands clenched into fists. He raised one finger with each point he made. “Gramps’s stories. My dreams. The wolf biting you. Your lost memories. The blood. The animal attacks in the park. And Brad seeing the blue-eyed werewolf.” Matt shook seven fingers in front of his brother’s face. “What more proof do you need, David?”
“I…” David sighed. “Ok. I have considered it. I’ve even talked it over with Skylar. I didn’t want to worry you. There has to be another more rational explanation.”
David sighed and looked up at his brother. “Stay with me tomorrow night. Record me all night. Brad too. Even if I’m not a werewolf, I may be dangerous in my sleep. The blood worries me most of all. Especially with the deaths in the park. I don’t want to believe that I’m responsible, but I guess we have to be sure. Will you do that for me? You and Brad record me all night?”
“Of course, I will, David. It’s kind of scary. We should do it somewhere else though. Not here. Somewhere safe just in case I’m right. Don’t you agree?” Matt asked.
“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys at the abandoned warehouse down by the school at six. Okay?” David ran a hand through his still damp hair, concern evident on his face.
Matt’s brow furrowed while he considered the meeting place. “That’s as good a place as any I guess.” Matt glanced at the clock. “It’s almost morning. Thank God it’s Saturday or it would be almost time for school. I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you in a few hours, David. Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Matt turned and left the room.
David flicked off his light and lay down on his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about everything his brother told him. He was anxious to see the photos that Brad took, even if they were super blurry. David did not want to even consider the possibility that he was a werewolf. Not only was it ridiculous, but if it was true, then that meant that he had killed two or, more probably, three people. That was just unthinkable. There had to be another explanation.
Considering the hour, he doubted that Sky would be awake, but he couldn’t fall asleep without sending his boyfriend a text. He was just too afraid that he possibly hurt Sky. He knew he would never be able to live with himself if that happened. He didn’t expect an immediate response, but he sent it anyway.
David: Hey. I need to hear from you as soon as you get this. I don’t care what time it is. I had another blackout. The same thing happened. I woke up the same way again. My brother found me this time. Please call. The last thing I remember is I was with you. I hope I didn’t do anything to you, Sky. I love you.
David set his phone on the nightstand and closed his eyes. He tossed and turned, trying to force himself to fall asleep. He nearly jumped out of bed when the text alert on his phone notified him of a new text message. He glanced at it. The message was from Sky.
Sky: I’m ok. I haven’t been able to sleep all night, though. I’m not hurt, but there is a lot that we have to talk about. I’ll be over your house in a few hours. Try and get some sleep. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Good night, David. Or morning or whatever it is. Haha. See you soon. I love you, too.
David could tell that something had happened, but at least Sky was ok, and he was coming over to talk. David closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.
After Matt left his brother’s room, he went to his own room to try and sleep. Before drifting off, he sent Elias a text.
Matt: I just found David outside in the bushes. He was covered in blood, dirt, and what looked like chicken feathers. We were right. He’s not ready to openly admit it, but even he knows that something is seriously wrong. I guess he’s already been talking to Skylar about it. He’s had blackouts and memory loss three nights in a row. I have to see Terrie first, but I’ll meet up with you later for sure. Things are starting to happen quickly. More and more people are figuring this out. Brad has pics, but I guess they are super blurry. I’ll see you soon. I miss your touch on my skin. (Blushing emoji) (Heart emoji)
Less than a minute later, Matt’s phone beeped with a text alert from Eli.
Eli: Wow. Things are happening quicker than even I expected. We can’t let word of this get out to the wrong people. We have to handle this ourselves. It’s almost morning. I’ll just get up now and get to the research. I miss you, too. See you soon. (Hug emoji)
Matt put his phone back on the nightstand, turned over, and tried to sleep.
Fresh out of the shower and still fiddling with his hair, Matt went downstairs and into the kitchen. David was already sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cold cereal.
“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.
“She’s in her home office. I think she’s going to go pick up Brad soon.”
“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”
“Yeah. He was a little mysterious about it. I’m going to meet him in about an hour.”
“He was cryptic in his texts to me, also. He might have seen you transform. I know you’re not ready to admit what we both know you are yet, but too many pieces are falling into place. We have to decide what to do before the moon rises tonight.”
David sighed, his eyes downcast. “I know. I know. Let me talk to Sky, and then we will both meet up with you and discuss everything.”
“That sounds like a good plan. You talk to Sky, and I’ll find out exactly what Brad knows. I also have to meet up with Terrie and have a completely different kind of stressful conversation.”
“Everything ok, little brother? Trouble in paradise?”
“I…” Matt sighed, looked down, and blushed a deep scarlet. “I almost kissed Eli last night.”
“What?! I thought we always told each other everything. I didn’t know you were bi! What happened?”
Matt rolled his eyes. “You know I hate labels. I don’t think bisexual would fit me anyway. I’ve never been attracted to any other guy in that way. I mean I’m not afraid to admit that a guy is attractive, but I’ve never been interested in touching them or kissing them or whatever. There’s just something about Elias. The attraction is intense. He touched me and it felt like my whole body was on fire. I wanted him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, more than I’ve ever wanted any girl, even more than I want Terrie. I guess, if you have to put a label on it, I’m pansexual more than bisexual. I want him because he is Elias, not because he is a guy.”
“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”
Matt shrugged. “I have to be honest with her. Hell, I don’t want to break up with her. I really like her a lot, but I really like Eli, too.”
“Good luck with that, little bro. I doubt that either one of them will let you date them both. I know I wouldn’t stay with Sky if he was dating someone else!”
“You’re probably right. I’m just going to talk with her, be honest, and tell her everything. I’ll see where things go from there. There’s other stuff that I need to tell you about Elias. He is deeply involved in all this werewolf and curse stuff. When I meet up with you and Sky later, I’ll tell you both at the same time. I might even bring him along.”
“It feels like we’re living in a movie. I can’t believe this is all real.”
“What movie are you boys living in now?” Aunt Nancy asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“Not sure what we’ll name it yet, but I’m ready to change the channel.” Matt quipped.
Nancy laughed. “Do either of you need to be dropped off anywhere? I’m heading over to the Hanson’s to pick up Bradley.”
Matt stood up. “I need to talk with Brad before I meet up with Terrie, so I’ll go with you.”
“I’ll just hang here and chill. I’m meeting Sky in an hour.” David said.
“How much trouble is Brad in?” Matt asked his aunt just as they pulled into the Hanson’s driveway.
Nancy’s expression grew thoughtful. “I’m not making a decision on that until I talk to the sheriff and see those alleged werewolf photos, but regardless, he’s in big trouble for running off and putting himself in danger without telling anyone.
“Such a crazy story.”
“People deal with tragedy in a lot of different ways.”
“I get that. So much has happened in the last six months. I can barely wrap my head around it.”
Nancy put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, I’ll listen. You know that, right?”
“Of course. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s go get him.” Matt smirked.
Matt knew he’d get more information from Brad alone, so, while Aunt Nancy marched straight into the den to talk to Sheriff Hanson and Brad, Matt snuck off into the kitchen to find Terrie.
Terrie jumped up from the table as soon as she saw Matt enter the room. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, you. I didn’t expect to see you for another couple of hours.”
“I came with Aunt Nancy to pick up Brad.” Matt rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even want to witness that reunion, though. I’m excited to hear about what he saw last night, but I’ll talk to him when we’re alone.”
Terrie huffed out a laugh. “You should have just waited for him at home then. Less chance of getting caught in the crossfire.”
“He texted me. He’s going to have her drop him off at the library. He plans to tell her it’s for a school assignment, but it’s for more werewolf research.”
“I still have a hard time believing that we’re seriously considering the possibility of werewolves. Did you find anything out from Elias last night?”
Matt couldn’t hold back from blushing. “I… yeah. A lot happened last night. We’ll talk at lunch. You’re still meeting me down by the lake at noon, right?”
She smiled up at him. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It’s our first real date.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face down to hers. Their lips met in a kiss that started tender and quickly turned passionate. The sound of someone clearing their throat from the kitchen doorway caused Matt and Terrie to separate and look guiltily toward the sound.
Brad stood there, grinning. “You ready to go, Matt, or do you need a condom and another twenty seconds?”
“Shut up, perv.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Ignore him, babe.” Matt said, turning back to Terrie. He leaned down for one more quick kiss and then left with his cousin.
“The library closes at three on Saturday. You better be home before three-thirty, Bradley.” Nancy said just before the boys got out of the car.
“Yes, mother. I’ll go straight home when I’m done with my research.”
The boys sat down on the front steps to the library, and they both sighed. Matt looked over at his cousin. “You didn’t just lie to your mom, did you?”
“Nope. I said I’d be home when I’m done with my research. I never mentioned the library or what type of research.”
“Clever. So, I have a lot of news to share, but I want to hear about your close encounter first. Do you have the photos with you, or did you leave them with the sheriff?”
“I gave my thumb drive to Sheriff Hanson, but you couldn’t see much anyway. Just a big brown blur with two little blue blurs for eyes. Let’s wait on the story until Nate and Devon get here, so I don’t have to tell the same story two or three times in a row.” Brad laughed.
“That’s fair.” Matt said with a grin. “I feel the same way about my news. We really need to get everyone together. So much is happening so fast.”
“It’s so crazy. I can’t believe it’s real.” Brad looked at his phone. “Nate and Devon should be here any minute.”
Just then, Devon walked around the corner and up onto the steps of the library. “Are you using my name in vain again, Holliday?” He smirked.
“Every chance I get. It’s about time you got here.”
“Looks like I beat your boyfriend here, so shut your face.” Devon’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “Hey, Matt, what’s up?”
Matt looked surprised. “Boyfriend?” His head swiveled from Devon to Brad and back again. “I thought I only missed updates on research. What’s this about a boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend. At least not yet.” Brad blushed.
“Who? Who isn’t your boyfriend yet? What did I miss?”
“Well, duh! He’s the only other person who isn’t here yet.” Brad rolled his eyes.
“You mentioned someone named Nate.” Matt shrugged. “Have I met him? Does he go to our school?”
“No. That’s true. You probably haven’t met him. So much has happened, it seems like you’ve been here forever, and not just a few days.”
“So? Who is he?”
“He’s the assistant librarian now. He’s older than us. He graduated last year.”
“Did you guys ever date? Were you friends? Two years older isn’t really that much.”
“I barely knew him. I mean, I knew who he was, but we weren’t close. Now shut up, here he comes!”
Nate walked up and smirked at the three boys waiting on the steps. “Gee, I’m not used to so many eager faces waiting to get into the library on a Saturday morning.” His gaze stopped on Matt. “You must be one of the Montana’s. Matt I’m guessing. I’m Nathan or Nate. I’ll answer to either.” He stuck out his hand toward Matt.
Matt shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you. We were just talking about you. You are everything that I expected.” Matt winked.
Nate shot a look at Brad then grinned at Matt. “I hope you were only told good things.”
Brad piped in. “I barely had a chance to tell him your name before you showed up. He’s exaggerating as usual.”
Nate winked at Brad as he finished climbing the steps. “It’s good to know that I left enough of an impression to be talked about.” Then Nate unlocked and opened the library doors. The other boys followed Nate into the library, and they all settled in at the same table in the research room.
“I may need to be out front from time to time, but I should be able to help in here again, too. What books do you need me to find today?”
Brad spoke up. “Anything you have on werewolves. Specifically related to this area if there’s anything, but werewolves for sure. They exist. I saw it again last night. Possibly a different one, I’m not sure. I took pics, but they are super blurry. The sheriff might try and get them cleaned up for me.” Brad looked right at Matt. “Johnny Hanson was there. He saw it, too.”
“Sky came home from his date early last night, and he was acting weird. He went right to his room. Matt, how was David acting last night after he got home? Did they have a fight?” Devon asked.
Nate was practically jumping up and down. “You saw a werewolf again? Did it attack you? How did you get away?”
“Loud music and yelling. He ran off. I probably got lucky; I don’t know for sure. I think it was a different wolf than the other one that I saw, but I don’t want to believe that there’s one, much less two!”
Matt sighed. “There are two. The monster that bit my brother, and my brother himself.”
All eyes turned to Matt. Brad spoke first. “Do you know for a fact that David is a werewolf? Have you seen him change?”
“I haven’t seen him change, but I dreamt about it.”
“A dream? Come on, Matt, that isn’t proof!” Devon said.
“Elias helped guide my dream last night. It was very vivid. Then, later, I found David outside our house in the bushes. He was nearly naked and covered in blood and what looked like chicken feathers. I’d like to think that the blood was chicken blood, and that my brother isn’t eating people. We need to find out exactly what is going on, and we need to do it fast!”
“Elias was in your dreams?” Brad asked, one eyebrow arched.
Matt blushed. “You were right. I was blind. There’s… something more there. I hope that’s ok with you?” Matt said, looking pleadingly at Brad.
“Oh, wow. I figured that he liked you. I didn’t expect you’d like him back. Yeah, it’s fine with me. No big deal. Terrie might have a different take on it though.”
“I will be having that conversation with her today.” Matt said with a worried expression. “Anyway, I did find out a lot from Eli last night. The curse is real. Eli’s magic is real. That’s where you guys should focus your research, in my opinion. Try and find out as much as you can about the witches. Elias will do research at his house, but the town records and newspapers may say things about the witches that they wouldn’t say about themselves. Knowing both sides is always best.”
Devon looked totally confused. “You’re gay? And you like his ex?” Devon pointed at Brad when he said “his.”
“I am not gay, but I’m not straight. I’m dating Terrie Hanson, at least for now, but I do have strong feelings for Elias Carrier. Call me bi, call me pan, call me whatever you like. I hate labels. I like who I like. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for everyone.”
Nate stood and clapped. “Here, here! Great speech! Everyone should feel that way. I mean labels do sometimes make people comfortable, but if you don’t want a label, society shouldn’t force one on you.”
Matt cleared his throat. “Thanks, but right now the labels that matter are werewolf and witch. There’s a lot more that I need to share with you guys, but there’s also people missing that need to be told. It would be easier to tell everyone at once. For now, you guys research the witches. In particular the coven that lived here. If you happen to find anyone named MaryAnne Carrier, find everything that’s available. Eli’s ancestors were a big part of this. I’ll go have a talk with Terrie about everything. Obviously, I’ll have to talk to her about the Eli stuff, but also, the monster stuff. We need to find out if her father has found anything. I hope she’ll still help us after we talk. Hell, I hope she’ll still date me!”
Nate gave Matt a sympathetic look. “Figure out what you want,” he tapped Matt on the chest with one finger, “before you let other people’s decisions affect what you do.”
“I want them both, but I know that’s unrealistic.” Matt blushed.
“I wouldn’t agree to that, but hey, you never know!” Nate huffed out a laugh.
“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes.” Matt laughed. “Ok, I’m gonna take off. You guys get to the research, and I’ll try not to get murdered by my girlfriend.” He looked at Devon. “Sky was going to meet up with David. If you hear anything, let me know. I’ll do the same if I hear from David. Later we all have to meet up somewhere and share all of our various stories.”
“Definitely, dude. Call us if you wanna bring you girlfriend back here or your boyfriend or both or your brother or whatever!” Devon giggled hysterically.
“On that note, I’m outta here!” Matt said and turned and started toward the door.
“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.
Matt turned just before he was out the door. “Later, guys. Good luck with the research!”
David was nervous and pacing in the kitchen when he heard the soft knock on the door. He raced over and yanked the door open. “Sky! David wrapped his arms around Skylar. “I’m so happy to see you! What happened last night?”
Sky hugged David tight, and then he stepped back. He looked at David with a worried expression. “You don’t remember anything?”
“It’s just like the two nights before. I only remember up until a certain point and then nothing. The last thing that I remember, I was with you. That’s why I was so worried and texted you.”
“You were with me. I know what happened. I know why you are losing time. Our worst-case scenario is true, David, you’re a werewolf!”
David slumped into a chair and took a long drink of water. “I kinda knew. We both did. I guess there’s no denying it now.”
Sky huffed out a laugh. “No. You can’t deny it now. Not only did I witness the transformation, but you also bit me!”
“I bit you? I thought you said you were ok. Sky, I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine. At first, I thought you were being a little too aggressive. You barely drew blood. We were kissing, and you bit my lip. I pushed you backward, and I was going to scold you for being too rough, but then I saw you transform. It was scary as hell!”
“I can never apologize enough. I don’t think Hallmark has a “I’m sorry I turned into a werewolf and bit my boyfriend” card. Now I guess I have to worry even more that I may have killed people.”
Sky sighed. “Even after seeing you change; I just don’t think that you would kill anyone no matter what form you were in. Have you checked out the news yet today? We know about the deaths from the other two nights, we should find out if there’s anything else today.”
The two boys walked into the family room and turned on the tv. They sat on the couch, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. They sat like that for a few minutes, not speaking, just watching the local news reports. David nervously drummed his fingers on his thigh and kept casting furtive glances at Skylar. Sky smiled and turned toward David then clasped David’s hand within his own. “It’s ok. I’m fine. We’re fine. I know you didn’t mean me any harm.”
“I could have hurt you, though. I could have killed you.”
“I honestly don’t think you would have. You said that your brother found you this time. Was there anything else different? Did Matt notice anything that you didn’t?”
He found me outside in the bushes underneath my bedroom window, so that was different. He also said that Brad took blurry photos of a blue-eyed werewolf. I guess people are starting to piece things together. I’m really scared, Sky. The only relatively positive thing that I’m holding onto right now is that this time, even though I was covered in blood again, there were lots of feathers around. Matt and I think they were chicken feathers. We hope that the blood was also from chickens.”
“See! It’s still possible that I’m right. Maybe all three nights all you did was raid farms and kill animals.”
“I guess so. We can hope. Hey, wait a minute. Let’s listen to this. The sheriff is on tv.”
The boys listened to Sheriff Hanson talk to the local news. He was standing in front of the park which was almost completely roped off with yellow crime scene tape now. The sheriff looked into the camera and began to speak. “Citizens of Roxbury Falls, it is with a heavy heart that I am speaking to you today. For the third night in a row there has been a vicious animal attack in the park. A third teenager is dead. For now, we are not releasing any names. We are giving the families time to grieve. I am extending the 8pm curfew indefinitely. We believe that there is a rogue bear coming into the park at night to hunt. We ask that you do not go and hunt this animal yourselves. We are searching for the bear, and we are confident that it will be found and destroyed very soon. If you spot a bear, or anything else suspicious, please report it to the sheriff’s office immediately. Thank you for your time.” The sheriff turned, ducked under the crime scene tape, and walked into the park.
“A third teenager is dead! There was an attack last night. What if it was me, Sky? What if it really was me?”
“You said that Matt has more information, and Brad has photographs, why don’t we chill here and try not to think about it until we hear from them. My brother is with Brad at the library, so I’m guessing that he’s in on the research. There’s more than just the two of us to figure this out, David. We’ll help you get through this.”
“Matt has been talking to some kid named Elias about this, too. I guess his family is also tied in with the story of the curse. A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of a witch, but, hell, now I’m a werewolf. Witches probably exist, too.”
Sky pulled David in close and gave him a quick, tender kiss. “Let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ until they text us.”
David smiled for the first time since the new report. “That is a fantastic idea.” David slid his arm around Sky’s waist and snuggled in close to his boyfriend.
Sky leaned down and softly kissed the top of David’s head. “We will figure this out, babe. I promise.”