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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 10)

Chapter 10

“I believe you, Eli. Even though I’m scared, you make me feel safe, like the fear is all around me, but can’t touch me.”

“Speaking of touching, I think I better let go of you, before I get ideas that you might not like.”

“No!” Matt got a panicky look in his eyes and leaned in closer to Elias. “Please. Don’t. I think the physical contact is the only thing holding me together right now. I need your touch, Elias.”

Elias stared deep into Matt’s blue eyes and saw a spark of desire that he hadn’t seen before. He leaned in until his lips were mere inches from Matt’s own. “Is this what you want?” He asked as he slid his hands down Matt’s sides with just his fingertips touching Matt. “Tell me to stop and I will.”

“No. Yes. No. Oh hell. No, don’t stop. Yes, it’s what I want.” Matt groaned.

“I won’t do anything that you don’t want me to do, Matt. You say stop, and I stop.” Eli nearly purred, his words vibrating against Matt’s lips. Elias gripped both sides of Matt’s shirt and pulled it free from his jeans. It was almost like an electric shock from his fingertips to his groin when he felt Matt’s bare skin for the first time. “Is that good, baby? Do you want me to keep going?” Eli whispered in Matt’s ear as he slid his fingertips across the smooth firm muscles of Matt’s stomach, stopping just above the button on his jeans. With a wide grin on his face, Elias slid the fingers of his right hand beneath the waistband of both Matt’s jeans and boxer briefs.

“Eliasss, ooohhhh, yesssss.” Matt moaned as his head rolled back and his eyes closed. Matt thrust his hips forward, driving Eli’s fingers ever deeper below the waistband of his pants. Matt felt Eli’s fingertips brush against a part of him that no one other than himself had touched since he outgrew diapers. His head sprang forward, and he opened his eyes. Matt brought both his arms up and placed his hands squarely on Eli’s chest. “Elias, I…”

Eli interrupted him, his expression instantly changing to one of concern. “Do you want me to stop? Have we gone too far?”

“I…” Matt’s face looked conflicted. “I don’t want you to stop, Eli, but I need you to stop. Do you understand? I need to figure this out.”

Eli pulled his hand out of Matt’s waistband and palmed the side of Matt’s neck. “I understand. Take all the time you need. I will never rush you to do anything that you don’t want to do. You do want… what we were doing, right?”

“I’ve never wanted anything more. I think that’s what scares me. I thought I was falling in love with Terrie, and now…”

“Baby, I don’t want to scare you. Anything we do, we do at your pace.”

“You don’t scare me, Elias. My feelings do. I’ve never wanted to do anything with a guy before, but now I feel like I might explode if you don’t touch me again.”

“All you have to do is ask.” Elias said and placed his hand on the side of Matt’s neck again and stroked his thumb along the jawline.

Matt took in a deep breath and let it out. “We have to stop. I need time to process what just happened and figure out what I want.”

Eli leaned in until their mouths were less than an inch apart. “Can I have just one little taste before you go back to her?”

Matt moaned Eli’s name and turned his head, baring his neck to Elias in an open invitation. Elias nipped at Matt’s ear and then ran his tongue down his neck. Eli sucked at the sensitive skin in the hollow of Matt’s neck where it meets the collarbone, leaving a mark. Then his lips were back at Matt’s ear, and he whispered in a husky voice. “You are mine, Matthew Montana, and I am yours. Decide what you need to decide but know that we are destined to be. I will never deny you anything. Ask for the moon, and I will deliver it to your door.”

With a dreamy look on his face, Matt said. “For now, all I ask is for time to sort things out.” Then he got a serious look on his face. “You didn’t cast a love spell on me, right?”

Elias blushed and looked down. “Not unless you cast one on me first. I’ve belonged to you since you asked me for help in my dream. Now that I’ve touched you, now that I’ve had the taste of you on my tongue, I will belong to you forever.”

“You literally make my knees weak with the things you say, Eli. I… I just need to figure out things with Terrie. I honestly don’t know what I will feel when I see her again.”

“That’s fair. This,” Eli motioned his hand in between them. “happened suddenly. It’s new to you. I get it. Let’s go back to the kitchen table.” Eli turned and set up the chair for Matt to sit in and returned to his own seat.

Matt’s lips twisted upwards in a smile. “You seem so far away now.”

“Hey! You were the one who said to stop.”

“Yes, stop what we were doing… what we were about to do. But you can still hold my hand.” Matt reached across the table and took Eli’s hand, entwining their fingers.

Elias felt happier in that moment than he had ever been in his entire life. Even happier than he ever had been with Brad. “Matt?”

“Yeah, Eli? What’s wrong? You look worried?”

“Well, you asked me if I cast a spell on you, and I didn’t, but.”

“I know you didn’t. I trust you completely.”

“Let me finish. It’s important.”

Matt squeezed Eli’s hand reassuringly. “Finish. I’ll be quiet.”

“I didn’t cast a spell on you, but I have to be completely honest with you. Magic may be causing our bond, or at least enhancing it.” Eli sighed and continued. “There’s something I’ve read about called coven magic. Witches who bond themselves together in a coven become stronger. That’s why I can only do small things, because my coven is just me. I think that, when we bonded in the dream, there were aftereffects in the waking world.”

“Are you saying that two people who weren’t attracted to each other would be attracted to each other if they joined the same coven?”

“No. It would make them feel closer to each other, but it can only heighten what’s already there and break down inhibitions. It wouldn’t create feelings from nothing.”

“Are we bonded in a coven?”

“No. We can’t. Not even if you wanted to, because of the dark magic surrounding you. What we did was similar. It should have only affected us in the dream. The real-world side effects should dissipate. I just wanted to give you a heads up.”

“I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to give me an out. I don’t want an out. You said yourself that our connection ramp up what’s already there, but it can’t create it. I felt myself growing closer to you. I formed a friendship with you even though both Brad and Terrie were against it. Hell, Brad was jealous and practically accused me of hitting on you. You know what the last thing Terrie said to me when I dropped her off this afternoon was? She told me to have fun on my date. Whatever it is that we have was building up on its own, so don’t you dare try and say it isn’t real.”

“Ok. Wow. I want it to be real. I will shut up and let you do whatever you need to do, and I’ll be waiting here for your answer.”

“One more thing. On your witchy to-do list, right underneath curing David, write in removing black magic from Matt. Number three on that list, put research coven rituals.”

Eli’s eyes grew wide. “You really want to?”

“Yes. No doubt. As soon as possible.”

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Their kiss deepened and Sky felt himself pressed back against the park bench. He held onto David to keep from falling backward over the bench. Sky ran one hand up David’s strong back and tangled his fingers into his long blond curls. Sky nearly whined in frustration when he felt David’s mouth leave his, but the whine quickly turned to a moan as David trailed kisses and licks along his jawline and down his neck. He felt almost as much as he heard David emit a low growl right near his ear.

“Down boy, maybe we should move this somewhere…” Sky’s words were cut short as David moved in for another kiss. Sky could have sworn that his boyfriend’s eyes were literally glowing in the growing darkness. Then, as David’s lips met his, Sky yelped in pain and surprise. He pushed himself away from David and brought his hand up to his mouth. “Dammit, David. You bit me! You actually drew blood. What the hell?” Sky looked up from the blood on his hand, and his eyes met David’s. Sky took a step back and tried to wrap his head around what he was seeing. Everything they had talked about was real. The worst-case scenario that neither of them wanted to believe was real. David was a werewolf!

David felt the pain of the change coming, but he tried to ignore it and keep kiss Skylar. Then he felt the sweet warmth of the blood in his mouth, and it drove the wolf inside of him crazy. He heard the words that Sky said to him and he understood them, but when he tried to respond all that came out was another growl. He met Skylar’s eyes, and he tried to plead with him for help. All David saw in Sky’s eyes in return was fear. David gave in to the change, dropped to his knees, and howled.

For just a minute, Sky thought he saw something in David’s eyes. He felt that his boyfriend was trying to reach out to him, despite what was happening. Sky was too frightened to think too hard on it. He knew he had to get out of there. David’s whole body was changing. His fingers were claws, his teeth were fangs, hair was sprouting everywhere. When David dropped to his knees, looked up at the moon, and howled, Sky turned and ran as fast as he could.

—————————————————————————–

Brad heard what sounded like a howl, and then he saw movement on the trail coming from the lake. He was nervous and a little scared, but he got his camera ready. Sky Taylor came running down the trail and ran right past where Brad hid. No werewolf, just Skylar. Sky glanced back a few times leading Brad to consider the possibility that he was being chased. Brad thought about yelling out to Sky, but the other boy was already long gone. Brad stayed right where he was. Had Sky been with David tonight? Could David be in danger? Was David the werewolf? If David was in danger, Sky would have surely called for help and not just left him, right? These questions and more flooded Brad’s mind. He thought about going down to the lake to investigate, but he decided that the best thing for him to do was to stay right here and be ready to take more photographs. He said a silent prayer for both Sky and David, then settled in to wait for whatever may happen next.

—————————————————————————————

“You have to be sure about this, Matt. I don’t think it can be undone once we bond.”

“I am sure.” Matt shrugged. “And we can’t do it yet, anyway, so we will both have time to think about it. I’m just asking you to look up the spells or rituals or whatever it is that we would need.”

“True. I will start the research on it and gather together anything I might need for the ritual.”

Matt looked thoughtful. “You might need me to do it in order for you to be strong enough to break the curse.”

Elias chewed on his lower lip and ran a hand through his unruly brown curls. “You might be right. When I figure out how to remove the curse, will you be willing to let me try on you first?”

“Absolutely. I know you won’t do anything to hurt me, so if you say it’s safe to try, then I’m willing to let you try on me.”

“That’s settled then.” Elias stared off into space for a minute, lost in his own thoughts. “You said that your grandfather told you all the stories. Did he ever mention having a witch ancestor? The curse doesn’t explain the fact that you have magic of your own. Your magic could explain the nightmares and my own dream. I bet you are descended from a Roxbury Coven witch.”

“We wouldn’t be related, would we?” Matt looked shocked.

Elias laughed. “Nope. Or so far back that it wouldn’t matter anyway.”

“Oh good.” Matt let out a huge sigh. “That would be weird.”

Eli’s grin broadened. “If ghost mom ever shows back up, I’ll ask her. I’m sure she’d know.”

“What about David? Do you think he had magic, too?”

Eli’s brow furrowed. “I’ll cast the aura spell on him to be sure, but the dark magic probably corrupted any elemental magic that he had. Also, if… and for now I’ll still say if… if he’s a werewolf, the magic would be gone. From what I’ve read in the journals, you can’t be a werewolf and a witch, and you can’t cast both elemental and dark magic. The different magics won’t coexist in the same vessel.”

“But don’t I have both?”

“Yes, but they aren’t coexisting. They are at war. If you tried to cast an elemental spell, it would become corrupted with dark magic and you’d get a result that you weren’t expecting.”

“Thank you for sharing all this with me, Eli. If I hadn’t experienced it, I doubt that I’d believe one word you’re saying!”

Eli squeezed Matt’s hand. “I want to share it with you. I want to share everything with you. I do need to ask you a favor. It’s important. Please don’t take it the wrong way.”

“Ask away.”

“When you talk to Terrie,” Elias was still chewing on his bottom lip and he ran his hand through his hair again. “You can tell her… whatever. Tell her everything if you want, but just be careful. If you think she won’t believe you, or especially if you think she might think you’ve lost your mind, stop. Please don’t put yourself in danger.”

“Understood. I think… I hope to be able to share everything with her. I have deep feelings for both of you. I hope we can work something out that works for everyone. The last thing I want is to hurt either of you.”

“Come to me after you talk to her. I will listen and accept whatever it is you say. I promise you will never lose me no matter what.”

Matt lifted Eli’s hand to his mouth and kissed it. “I will come to you. I promise.” Matt glanced at his phone. “Oh wow. I can’t believe that we’ve been talking for almost three hours. It’s getting close to curfew, we’d better go. I guess this is goodnight since we live in opposite directions from here.”

Eli shook his head quickly. “No way. With what we know, I am not letting you walk home alone. No freakin’ way.”

“That’s sweet, but then how would you get home? You’d be twice as far from home if you left from my house instead of from here.”

“I’ll be fine. I just don’t want you…”

Matt cut him off. “If I can’t walk home alone, neither can you. Let me text Aunt Nancy and see if she can give you a ride.”

“No, wait. I’ll text Judy. I’ll tell her we’ve been at your house, and we lost track of time, and I don’t want to be caught out after curfew on the first night.”

“That works. We should be at my house before she gets there.”

After arrangements were made, Elias locked up his mother’s house and the two boys hurried down the street.

——————————————————————-

Juan Hernandez paced back and forth in his bedroom. Tears streamed from his eyes as he clutched a dozen roses, he bought for his new girlfriend, Kim Martinez. Her death hadn’t really sunk in yet. It just didn’t seem real. He still wanted to give her the flowers. Screw the curfew. He was going to leave the flowers on the spot where they say she died. What were the chances of that bear, or whatever it was, coming into town again? Tears still streaming down his face, Juan snuck out of his house and headed into the park.

—————————————————————————–

“Hey, dad! We’re out of ice cream! Can we go to the store?” Johnny Hanson asked his father.

“No, Johnny. It’s almost eight. We’ll go get some tomorrow. Pick something else for dessert.” Ronnie Hanson told his son. Even as sheriff, he didn’t want to break his own curfew and cause problems for his deputies.

Johnny shook his head as he put on his sneakers. He wanted chocolate ice cream, not some other snack. He was the sheriff’s son. He was sure he wouldn’t get in any trouble for breaking curfew. Besides, the store was only a ten-minute walk through Lakeside Park. He’d be gone and back before his dad even noticed.

———————————————————————–

David tried to yell for Sky to run away, but all that came out was a howl. His mind fought for control of his body, and he looked around. Skylar was gone. He felt relief, but then all he felt was the pain of the transformation. David crawled away from the lake and into the deeper shadows hiding himself amongst the trees. Fear and excitement washed over him in alternating waves of emotion. Fear of the unknown. David still couldn’t remember what happened or what he may have done the previous two nights. Also, fear of what he may do on this night. Despite the fear, he also felt the excitement as power surged through his body and the primal instincts of the wolf began to take over.

As David’s body changed, his thoughts changed as well. AS hair sprouted out all over his body, he thought of the hunt. As his fingers lengthened into razor-sharp claws, he thought of devouring his prey. Finally, the pain was too great, and his human consciousness blacked out. His mouth and nose combined and grew into the snout and jaws of the wolf, fangs snapping and growling. His muscles expanded and ripped through his clothing. Remnants of his shirt still hung around his neck, and his jeans split at the seams up the sides of both legs. His massive paws ripped through his socks and sneakers, leaving the leather and cloth behind on the ground. Then the change was complete. The wolf sniffed the air and began to hunt.

—————————————————————————–

Brad was beginning to think that everybody in town had lost their minds. Earlier, he had seen Sky running out of the park. He still had not seen any sign of anything, human or otherwise that may have been chasing him. Then, he saw Matt and Elias. He was surprised that Matt had spent so long at the witch house, but not nearly as surprised as he was when he noticed that the two boys were holding hands as they hurried through the park. Woah. He’d been right about the flirting after all. He just hoped that Terrie wouldn’t end up with a broken heart.

A short time later, Brad saw Juan Hernandez take off into the middle of the park carrying a handful of flowers, probably for Kim. That saddened Brad. Kim and Juan had just gotten together. Kim was such a nice girl. Brad thought something good finally happened for her, now she was dead. Brad lost sight of Juan when he turned a corner and went up another path towards where Kim had died. Brad thought about following him, but then he spotted a third person enter the park.

Brad cursed under his breath when he saw ten-year-old Johnny Hanson race into the park. What the devil was that boy doing out so close to curfew, and where was he headed in such a hurry? That would sure piss the sheriff off if he found out. Brad started to follow Johnny, hoping to catch up to the boy and escort him back home. Johnny was far ahead of him already. Johnny was about halfway through the park. It looked like he was heading straight for the convenience store. Then the boy stopped and looked around. Johnny left the path, heading into a wooded section of the park. Brad was worried now. What the hell was Johnny doing?

———————————————————

Matt still held onto Eli’s hand as they ran up the walkway to his front door. “We made it! They’re not here yet, and it’s still ten minutes before eight.”

Elias looked down at their joined hands and then back up at Matt. “This is starting to feel like a date again. I think I said that way back at my foster parent’s house when this night started.”

Matt let go of Eli’s hand, blushed, and then brushed a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. “It wasn’t a date, but it was more than a date. If that makes any sense?”

“It wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but yeah it makes sense to me. We had quite a night.” Elias grinned.

“Is that them?” Matt pointed at a car that was approaching and slowing down.

“Yeah. That’s Mark’s car. Goodnight, Matt. Despite everything that is happening, I enjoyed spending time with you. I hope you’ll want to keep hanging out even after all this stuff is behind us.”

“I think that you’re being optimistic about our ability to put all this crazy stuff behind us and live to tell the tale.”

Elias reached up and cupped one hand to the side of Matt’s face. “I will not let anything happen to you, Matthew Montana. I promise you that.”

Matt leaned into Eli’s touch. “I believe you. I’ll text you tomorrow. Goodnight, Elias.”

The two boys parted, Elias rushing down the steps to get into his foster father’s car, and Matt going through the front door of his aunt’s house as the clock ticked to seven fifty-seven.

—————————————————————————

Nancy Holliday stretched and pushed away from her laptop. She suddenly realized how quiet the house was which was unusual with three teenage boys living there. She walked out of her office and started down the hallway just as the front door swung open. She glanced at her phone. Seven fifty-seven. Someone was cutting it close. She turned the corner and nearly ran into a grinning Matt. “It looks like someone had a good night. Cut it a bit close, didn’t you? I’m surprised the sheriff didn’t boot you out sooner.”

“Sheriff? Oh! No, I wasn’t out with Terrie. I was just out with a friend.”

“The grin on your face, I thought for sure you were out with your girl.”

Matt blushed and couldn’t stop his lips from curving up into a wide smile. “Nope. Just out with a friend. A guy friend, not even a girl at all.” His eyes sparkled.

Nancy looked at him quizzically. “If you say so. Just make sure no hearts get broken, including your own.”

Matt raised his hands defensively and smiled. “I’m behaving myself, Aunt Nancy. One hundred percent.”

Nancy shook her head and smiled at her nephew. “I have no reason not to believe you. Now, have you seen your brother or your cousin? The house seems awfully quiet for them to be home.”

Matt’s smile vanished in an instant. “Have you looked upstairs?”

“I just stepped out of my office when you came in the door. I’ll look down here, and you check upstairs. They might be home, it’s just quiet.”

Matt and Nancy searched the house, and when they both came up empty, they met in the living room. “Do you have any idea what their plans were tonight, Matt?” Nancy asked.

Matt sighed. “I left Brad at the library right after school, but he should have been done there hours ago. David is another story. He was intent on going out on a date with Sky tonight. Curfew or no curfew. He should have been responsible enough to either come home by now or text one of us, so we wouldn’t worry, though. I’ll try texting both of them right now and see where they are.”

“I’ll call the library and see if anyone is still there and ask what time Bradley left.”

Matt sat down on the couch and started sending out texts. He sent messages to David and Brad and, also, to Skylar in hopes that one or more of them would answer right away.

Nancy hung up the phone and looked over at Matt. “I talked to that nice boy, Nathan Burke, who works at the library. He remembered seeing Brad. He said Brad left the library at six-thirty. Where is he, Matt?”

“I don’t know. No one is answering the texts. I also sent one to Sky.”

“I’m worried. It’s not like either of them to not call if they’re going to be late. Especially with everything that’s going on.”

“Wait. I just got a text from Skylar.”

Sky: Sorry, Matt. He’s not with me.

Matt: Is he headed home?

Sky: Doubtful.

Matt: What time did he leave?

Sky: I left him around 7.

Matt: Is something wrong, Sky? Why don’t you think he’s coming home?

Sky: Matt, it’s complicated. You’ll have to talk to him. I can’t say anything.

Matt: Is he ok, Sky?

Sky: It’s complicated, Matt. I… you’ll have to talk to him.

Matt: Ok.

Matt slid his phone into his pocket. “David isn’t with Skylar. He’s not sure when he’ll be home.”

Nancy arched an eyebrow. “There’s more to it than that, Matthew. I can see it on your face.”

“That’s all I can say, Aunt Nancy. I can say with one hundred percent honesty that I do not know where either David or Brad are. I don’t know who else to call. It looks like we’re going to have to wait and hope they both come home soon.”

“You know more than you’re telling me, Matt. You have the same look in your eyes that your mother would get when she had a secret that she wouldn’t share with me. I’ll be in my office. If either of them or Skylar text you, come tell me immediately.” Nancy got up and left the room.

Matt leaned back and clicked on the tv. He mindlessly scrolled through the channels while he waited for a text message that he hoped would come soon.

—————————————————————————

Johnny was sprinting through the park when he saw something that stopped him dead in his tracks. Something big and hairy crossed the path about fifty yards ahead of him. Was it the bear they talked about on the news? The thing he saw ran on its two hind legs. Johnny didn’t think that bears did that. Weird. What in the world was it? He heard rustling and growling in the bushes off to his right and a bit ahead of him. He didn’t want to go past there or stay here out in the open, so he darted off the path to his left to hide in the bushes and wait.

Johnny crouched in the bushes for what seemed like forever. He knew the creature was out there… somewhere. Sweating profusely and paralyzed with fear, he tried to calm his tensed nerves. He knew he could not stay hidden forever, but the creature was out there lurking in the dark. He heard a rustle in the leaves behind him, very close by. He spun his head around and found himself face to face with a nightmare. Little Johnny Hanson was face to face with a werewolf. Fear gripped his body, and he could not move. The beast snarled and moved in closer.

The Cursed Wolf (Chaper 9)

Chapter 9

Nate raised an eyebrow. “You will have to narrow that down a little bit.”

“Ok. What do you know about the Roxbury Falls alleged werewolf curse?”

“Not a lot. The stories go back over two hundred years. A young witch was murdered. A young Montana was blamed by the witches. The leaders of the town wouldn’t even put the Montana boy on trial, so the witches got justice the only way that they knew how. They cursed him and all his descendants. Supposedly, the eldest male in the family line is cursed to be a monster. They gave him a way out though. The curse would only affect him if he stayed in Roxbury Falls.”

Brad scowled and ran a hand through his hair. He took his glasses off, cleaned them, and put them back on. “With what you know about witches and werewolves, does that seem like a possibility?”

“Anything is possible if magic is real.” Nate said. “However, from everything I know, you have to be bitten by a werewolf to become one, even if you are cursed.”

Brad’s eyes grew wide, and Nate leaned in closer. “What is it? Has David been bitten? Was he attacked before the killings?”

“Could a werewolf take the form of an actual wolf or would it only look like a monster like I described before?”

“The books and movies and even the legends and myths all say different things. I guess it could, why?”

“David was bitten the night before Kim was killed. He said it was a big dog. Matt swore it was a wolf.”

Devon spoke up now, closing the book he was reading. “Are we seriously considering the possibility that my brother is dating a werewolf?”

Brad sighed. “I say that’s another conversation to table for later. We need to prove for sure what we’re dealing with before we jump to conclusions. If it is a werewolf, David is an obvious suspect. Now, Nate, if it is a werewolf, what do we do? Is there a cure? How would we kill it if we have to?”

“I don’t know anything about cures. I don’t know as much about witches and curses as I do about werewolves. As far as killing one, this is where every werewolf story agrees. Silver is the best way to kill a werewolf. Decapitation works, but silver bullets or silver tipped arrows are better, because you have the obvious advantage of killing from a distance. Also, wolfsbane will poison a werewolf and just the scent of it will keep them at bay.”

Devon chimed in. “All the Native American legends that I’ve been reading agree with what he just said about wolfsbane and silver. I googled some pics of what wolfsbane looks like and where we might find some. You know, just in case. I totally expect that the sheriff is right and it’s a seven-foot grizzly, but. hell, research is fun.” Devon laughed.

“What I saw wasn’t a bear. This is exactly why I came here and not directly to the sheriff, Dev. If I can’t convince you, I wouldn’t stand a chance with him. I need food and then I’m going to the park with my camera. I’ll text you tomorrow if I wanna come back to the library.”

“Do you need help taking all these books back before I go, Nate?” Devon asked.

“Nah., I got it. It’s a slow night and I’m here until we close at ten.” Nate said.

Devon got up from his seat. He took all the books he had been going through, put them into one stack, and turned to leave. He looked back and smirked. “You two boys behave after I leave.” Then he was gone, leaving Nathan and Brad alone in the research room.

“Are you taking off, too?” Nate asked Brad.

“Soon. I can help you put these books away first. We took a lot out.” He waved his hand at the table littered with books.

“I don’t mind. It was fun. I love talking about werewolves, and the possibilities that you brought up are equally frightening and exciting. “

“Just frightening if you ask me.” Brad chuckled then his face turned serious. “Did you really have a crush on me last year? I mean, I was a nerdy sophomore, and you were a popular senior. Why would you like me?”

Nate took a step closer to Brad with each word he said. “I did… err… I do have a crush on you.” Nate blushed. “You’re smart. You’re sweet. And you are incredibly gorgeous. Why wouldn’t I like you?” As Nate closed in, Brad took a shy step backward until his back was pressed up against the end of one of the bookshelves. Nate reached up with one hand and cupped it along the side of Brad’s neck. His eyes twinkled and he continued talking. “I wanted to ask you to Homecoming, but I found out that you had a boyfriend. Then, I heard you were single, and I was going to ask you to Prom, but I heard all kinds of crazy rumors and figured that you needed time. The breakup with Elias must have been… wait a minute.” Nate let go of Brad as he ran his fingers through his hair and started to pace. “The rumors were about your ex hanging out at the witch house, weren’t they? That house is connected to the witches that were supposed to have cursed your family. Do you think he’s involved in whatever is going on? Is he out to get your family?”

“Nice mood breaker, Nathan.” Brad laughed nervously. “I thought you were just about to kiss me.”

“Oh my, God. I was just about to kiss you! Did you want me to?” Nate sat back against one of the tables. “I’m an idiot and I’m easily distracted.”

“I did. I mean I do want you to kiss me. You missed your chance for tonight, though. It’s getting close to sunset. I was here longer than I expected to be already. I’ll grab some Burger King for dinner and bring it with me to the park. To answer your question, do I think Eli is out to get my family? No. He does know stuff about the curse that isn’t in these books. Matt is at Eli’s house right now. I think Elias truly wants to help us find out what is going on. Matt is handling that investigation, and I am here.”

“I’m glad you’re here and not with him.” Nate got a dreamy look in his eyes.

“Me too,” Brad smiled and blushed. Brad scribbled something down on a sheet of his notebook paper. “Here’s my number. Text me. You owe me a kiss.”

“Ok. I’ll text you, and I look forward to paying my debt.” Nate said smiling broadly.

Brad couldn’t stop smiling as he ran out of the library.

———————————————————————–

Skylar and David avoided the deeper conversations that they knew were needed, and instead, engaged in small talk as they ate their dinner. “How’s the job at Sonny’s going? A job like that and you probably don’t need a gym membership.” Sky quipped.

“You’re right! My upper body is sore every night. I need to find myself a hot boyfriend who likes to give massages.” David winked.

Sky smirked. “That could be arranged. I’ll swing by the mall and pick up some massage oils. I hear they have flavored ones.”

“That does sound interesting!”

“I’ll stock up on other supplies, too. Just in case. Flavored massage oils could lead us just about anywhere.”

“This massage idea keeps sounding better and better.” David said, pushing his empty plate into the center of the table.

Sky finished off his french fries and pushed his plate next to David’s, He sighed and stared into his boyfriend’s bright blue eyes. “Spill it. Talking about our favorite movies and planning erotic massages is fun and what we should be doing on a date, but I know there are deeper and darker things on your mind. Talk to me, Boo.”

“I…” David stopped and looked around the diner, then started talking again but in a softer voice. “I woke up the same way this morning as I did yesterday. The clothes, the sheets, my body… everything the same. Well, not everything. I wasn’t taking a nap this time. I wasn’t even home. I blacked out right after you left me at the park yesterday. You left, then I noticed Brad and Kevin in the park, then I woke up this morning. Kevin was the last person I saw, and he wound up dead.”

“David, I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t think that you, in any form, could kill. Besides, you saw Brad with Kevin. Brad would have said something to the cops or to his mom if he saw a monster kill his best friend.”

“Ok. You’re probably right. But something happens to me, and it can’t be good with all that blood. I’m scared, Sky. Like really, really scared.”

“Come here.” Sky got up and walked around the table and pulled David into a hug. “Let’s go for a walk. It’s almost six-thirty already and the curfew is at eight.”

“Yeah. I find myself a boyfriend and the town imposes a curfew! Lucky me.” David laughed and the two boys walked out of Will’s Diner.

They walked through the park to the little bench by the lake. Sky leaned against the back of the bench and pulled David close. David leaned in and kissed Sky. “You have more faith in me than I have in myself. What did I ever do to deserve someone like you in my life, Mr. Taylor?”

“You are a good and kind person, David. Everything you’ve gone through, everything you’ve done for your brother, not many nineteen-year-olds would or even could have done that. Then that dick of an ex-boyfriend you had out in California ditched you when you needed support the most. Hell, you deserve someone even better than me.”

“There is no one better than you, Sky.” David said as his hands slid to Skylar’s hips and their mouths met in a passionate kiss.

————————————————————————

Brad was still smiling as he walked out of Burger King with his dinner. Thoughts of his almost kiss with Nathan Burke was drowning out the thoughts of his task at hand. He had fantasized about Nate, but he never dreamed that the older boy would ever be interested. Then Brad met Elias and he’d forgotten everyone else for a while. Thinking about Eli got Brad remembering what he was in the park to do. Was Elias involved? If werewolves were real, didn’t that mean that witches probably were, too? Brad took his phone out of his pocket and considered calling Matt. Could his cousin be in danger from Elias? Eli had been totally focused on Matt ever since Matt got to town. Brad assumed it was a crush, but now he wondered. Brad shook his head. No. There was no way that he could believe that Eli was evil, even if he was a witch. Brad muted his phone and slid it back into the pocket of his jeans.

Brad threw his, now empty, Burger King bag into the trash and settled into his hiding place. He considered setting up close to the lake, but he didn’t want to be too far into the park just in case he needed a quick escape. Brad didn’t want to be an entre on the werewolf menu. He decided on a clump of trees from which he could keep an eye on both main trails, the one that led to the lake, and the one that led into the wooded portion of the park where both Kim and Kevin died. He unpacked his camera from his backpack, and checked and double-checked all the settings and batteries. He also got out a notebook and pen to take notes on anyone or anything that he observed in the park. He took a sip from his water bottle and settled in for what could be a long night.

—————————————————————————-

Elias opened the door and stepped aside for Matt to enter the house. Matt was the first person, other than Eli, to enter “the witch house” in over sixteen years. He looked around. “It looks a lot nicer on the inside that’s for sure.”

Elias shrugged. “I spend a lot of time here. I’ve cleaned it up a bit. I didn’t touch the outside. I’d rather that people avoid it.”

“Is that why you didn’t repair the broken windows? Because the jerks would just throw more rocks through them? Wait a minute. How is it so warm in here? The windows are all smashed and it’s thirty degrees outside.”

Elias grinned. “Magic.”

Matt groaned. “No, I mean seriously. How can…”

Elias cut him off. “Come here.” Eli grabbed Matt’s hand and pulled him over to the closest window. Eli’s eyes were wide with excitement. “Put your hand out the window.”

Matt looked hesitant, but he did it. “Ok, but why…” His hand was barely outside and his eyes snapped open wide with shock and he pulled his hand back inside the house. He cautiously stuck his hand back outside again, and pulled it back in. “What is happening? How is this possible, Elias? There’s nothing here. This is so weird.” He kept sticking his hand back and forth through the broken window.

Elias shrugged. “I already told you. It’s magic. Like you said, if I fixed the windows, they would have broken them again. I wanted to spend time here, so I had to find lowkey ways of fixing things without making the repairs obvious to people that would want to destroy things again.”

“It’s amazing! How do you do it? Can you do other stuff?”

Elias concentrated and waved a hand towards the window. Matt felt a gust of cold air and he shivered. “Woah! Did you make that wind?”

“No. I released the spell protecting the window.” Elias raised his right hand, palm facing the window, took in a deep breath and released it. Matt saw a momentary flash of light in the window and then the cold and the wind were gone.

“You just sealed up the window again, didn’t you?” Matt asked with a touch of awe in his voice. “Can I see the rest of the house now?”

“Yes, I put the spell back in place. I’ll show you around, but I spend most of my time in this room, the kitchen, and one of the bedrooms. I sit in here and read the spell books and the journals. They sometimes describe small statuettes or totems or crystals that have magical properties. I’ve found a few in the house and brought them to this room. Maybe someday, if I find others with magic, I’ll rebuild the coven and fix up more of the house. For now, with just me, there’s no need.”

Matt glanced at the time on his phone. “It’s getting late anyway. We can save the rest of the house for my next visit.”

“Next visit? You… you want to come back?”

Matt grinned and blushed. “Of course. We are friends, right?”

“I wasn’t sure if all of this, or what I still have to tell you would scare you away.” Elias got a serious look on his face and motioned toward the window. “Now that you are more open to believing in magic, we need to talk. Do you want to sit down?” The two boys walked over to the kitchen table and sat on opposite sides, facing each other.

“What do you want to talk about first? I have lots of questions, but it sounded like you had something specific in mind.”

“I do. I’m trying to decide on how to bring it up without upsetting you. It involves you specifically, not the curse or your brother. It’s about you.”

Matt arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

Elias folded his hands in front of him on the table and sighed. Let me start with a question. When did you start having your nightmares?”

“I started having the nightmares right after the accident, but the wolf didn’t appear in them until it was a done deal that we were moving here, why?”

“To be clear, the wolf entered your nightmare while you were still in California? Right after David finalized the plans for the move?”

“It was the same night that we officially sold the house and bought the plane tickets. Like a week before we moved. What are you thinking, Eli? Is this bad?”

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but what it means is that the curse touched you before it touched your brother.”

“Why would it do that?”

“Maybe as a warning to stay away, and you didn’t listen.”

“I tried to convince David not to come, but he wouldn’t listen. Good things have happened for both of us here. We just have to stop the bad from happening.”

“It might be too late for that, but that’s why we are here right now.” Elias blushed. “There’s something else while we’re on the subject of dreams. I think I had a dream about you. Before I ever saw you. Before I knew who you were. Before I knew you were coming here.”

“What kind of dream? Was it a nightmare like mine?”

“No. It seemed like I was watching you from a distance. Well, I didn’t know it was you. I was watching some dark-haired cutie on a beach. I thought it was gonna be a different kind of dream.” Both boys blushed beet red. “Anyway, in my dream I watch you siting on a beach watching the sun set into the ocean. That was the first thing I noticed, because I’ve never been to the west coast before.”

“What night did you have the dream?”

“Last Friday.”

“That was the night before we flew out. I remember that night. I did go to my favorite beach to watch one last sunset.”

“That makes it even stranger. I’ve never had visions or prophetic dreams before. In the dream, you were wearing tan board shorts and a blue tank top that perfectly matches your eyes. You had a skateboard with you, and it was on your left side. While you sat there, you wrote a name in the sand. I couldn’t see it clearly, but my best guess on the name is “Charlotte.” After the sun finished setting, you got up and walked past a food stand that had a red and white awning. Then it felt like you looked directly at me and said, “Help me. Please.” That’s when I woke up.”

When Elias finished telling about his dream, Matt could barely speak. He sat there for a minute, his eyes wide with wonder and wet with tears. “That wasn’t just a dream, Elias. That was exactly what I was wearing and what I did my last night in California. The name in the sand was Charlotte. She was my little sister. That was our favorite beach. I wanted to say goodbye to her one last time.” Matt reached up and wiped the tears from his eyes. “I never called out for help. That part was only in your dream. Maybe that was why you had it. So, you’d know to help me.”

“I’m so sorry, Matt. I didn’t intentionally intrude on such a private moment. I’ve never had a dream like that before. That’s why I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you that first day in the cafeteria. I knew that you were the boy from my dream, and there you were sitting in the school cafeteria next to my ex.”

“Is that why you’ve been so intent on helping me? The more you explain to me, the less I understand. Your family cursed mine. Shouldn’t we be like mortal enemies or something?”

Elias huffed out a laugh. “I’m helping you because you’re a super-hot skater boy.” He winked and stuck out his tongue. “No. Seriously, I’ve seen hate. I’ve lived with hate my entire life. You and David have done nothing wrong to me or anyone else. I reject the hate of my ancestors, and I choose kindness and love. Starting with this curse, I want to undo as much of the damage that witches have done over the years. Ghost mom is pissed, but I don’t care. She won’t even appear when I try to summon her now.” Elias shrugged.

“That was quite an impassioned speech. I believe you one hundred percent. Ghost mom should be proud of you, I sure am.” Matt smiled.

Elias chewed on his lower lip and looked like he was lost in thought before he finally looked directly into Matt’s eyes. “Feel free to say no, but I want to try something. I’ve read a lot about dreams and nightmares and dream magic ever since I saw that you were real. I think if we can form a mental connection, that I can share your nightmare with you. Maybe I can see something in it that you haven’t, because of your emotional connection to the events. Can we try?”

Matt scowled and thought for a minute. “I have a couple of questions first if that’s ok.”

“Anything, Matt. I want to be an open book to you. Ask your questions.”

“I hope that’s true. I do believe it is. You explained about your dream and that’s how you recognized me in the cafeteria, but how did you know exactly who I was, that I was a Montana, and how did you know that I had an older brother?”

“In the cafeteria, I only recognized you. I asked around about the new guy who was hanging out with Brad Holliday, and I found out that you were his cousin from California. The people I asked only knew that your name was Matt, not your last name. I put that together later, in the diner, when you walked past me, and I felt the dark slippery touch of the curse magic.” Elias shuddered at the memory. “Dark magic has a different feel to it than elemental magic.”

“Am I cursed, too? Will I become a wolf?”

“When I sensed the curse, I cast a spell to look at your aura.”

“You can do that? Will you look at David’s aura?”

“Matt. Please. Let me answer one question at a time.”

“Ok. Ok. I’m sorry. Continue.”

“Where was I? oh yeah. I cast the spell and looked at your aura. Matt, you are surrounded by the inky darkness of the curse, but it can not touch you. That is how I knew you must have an older brother. If you were the eldest, the darkness would have been inside you. That’s not all that I saw, though. You also have a bright glow emanating from the core of your being. It is a warm and comforting light. For now, it is being held inside of you by the dark curse magic. I think that if I can remove the curse, you may have access to that magic. Matt, I think that you are like me, a witch!”

“You think that I have magic? That I might be a with like you? Could the dark magic take over and still turn me into a werewolf?”

“I don’t think that the curse can touch you while your brother still lives. The curse is only designed to infect the eldest. As far as your other question, I think that you must have a witch ancestor. We have to remove the curse before you can even try to access that power. If the elemental magic touches the dark magic, it will become tainted and affect any spell that you were trying to cast.”

“Wow. I’m a little overwhelmed right now but thank you for answering all my questions. I think I’m ready for you to try the dream magic now. Oh wait, if you try to connect to my nightmare, you won’t be tainted by the dark magic, will you?”

“I’ve taken that into consideration. I am confident that I can bond with you and avoid the dark magic.”

Matt shrugged. “Let’s do this.”

Elias took a deep breath and laid his hands face up in the middle of the table. His cheeks tinged with blush. “Put your hands in mine, Matt.” Matt didn’t hesitate. He laid his hands on top of Eli’s and closed his eyes as Eli’s hands closed around his. Then Matt felt the world tumble on its axis, and he was in the car as it rolled over the embankment.

Matt found himself standing on top of the hill, staring down as an all too familiar scene played out below him. He started to scream out his sister’s name, and, for the first time ever, he felt a comforting hand on his arm and a soft voice in his ear. He looked and saw Elias standing next to him. “Eli? You’re here. We did it. Can you… can you help my family, Eli? Please.” Tears were streaming down Matt’s face as he looked pleadingly at Elias.

“Matt, I can’t. I’m so sorry. This has already happened. I can’t alter your past through a dream. We have to let your nightmare play out. I’m here to see if I can see anything about the wolf that you may have missed.”

“I had to ask.” Matt sobbed and leaned into Eli. Elias stood behind Matt and wrapped his arms tight around him for support. It felt good. It felt right. He rested his chin on Matt’s shoulder and whispered into his ear.

“Tell me if you see anything that you’ve never noticed before.”

Wrapped in the arms of Elias, Matt felt safe for the first time in six months. “I will. Thank you, Eli. This isn’t so scary with you here.” Matt let out a contented sigh. “Here comes the wolf.” Matt wanted to close his eyes against the scene that he’d already lived over and over again in his nightmare, but as with every other time, he could not. He watched as the wolf bit his brother and then opened its jaws wide and ate David whole. He started to scream, but he heard Eli’s soothing voice in his ear.

“Shh. It’s ok, Matt. I’m still right here. You’re safe. This isn’t real.”

“Elias? I’ve always screamed and woke up right then, but there’s something else happening. There’s more to my dream than I ever saw before.”

“Keep watching, Matt. This is what I hoped for. Something new.”

“Wait. Look. The wolf that bit David both in the backyard and here in the nightmare, the one standing right there with the bloody jaws, it’s silver and grey, right?”

“Yes. What do you see, Matt? What’s there that has you so worked up?”

“I was always too scared to notice before, plus I woke up, but look behind the grey werewolf. There’s another werewolf lying on the ground. The other wolf’s fur is a light brown, you could possibly even call it blond. I think my brother is a werewolf, Elias, but he isn’t the only one! There are two!”

Matt’s eyes snapped open, and he stood up quick. The force of his backward momentum pulled his hands out of Eli’s grasp. The kitchen chair matt was sitting in was knocked over and Matt lost his balance. His arms pinwheeled as he tried to regain his footing. Just as Matt crashed into the wall, Elias was there. Eli held Matt up by his armpits supporting him against the wall. Elias exerted enough force to allow Matt to regain his balance.

Matt leaned into Eli. “He’s a werewolf, Eli. My brother is a werewolf. I’ve lost so much. I can’t lose him, too!” Matt sobbed.

“You won’t lose him, Matt. I’ll fix this. If it’s the last thing I ever do, I will fix this. I promise you won’t lose your brother.”

“I’m so scared, Eli. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.”

Eli’s arms tightened around Matt, holding him even closer. Elias whispered into Matt’s ear so close that he could feel Eli’s hot breath against his skin. Each word sent soothing vibrations throughout Matt’s entire body. “Don’t be afraid, Matt. I will make everything right. I will fix this. You’re safe now. You’ll always be safe with me.”

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

Matt got home to a quiet house. Neither David or Aunt Nancy were home from work yet. He threw his backpack on his bed and changed his clothes. After throwing his school clothes in his hamper, he went into the kitchen to grab some snacks. Doritos and Mountain Dew in hand, he collapsed onto the couch and fired up his Xbox. He decided to zone out with some mindless monster killing in Diablo III until it was time to go to Eli’s house.

—————————————————————————-

When David got home from work, the only sound he heard in the house was coming from the living room. It sounded like either Matt or Brad or maybe both were playing Xbox. He kicked off his work boots, placing them by the kitchen door, and shuffled slowly down the hallway toward the sounds of the video game violence. David was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. “Thank God it’s Friday, little brother!” He said as he entered the living room and saw that Matt was the one playing Diablo III.

Matt paused his game. “Yeah, I’m glad the school week is over, but with the curfew, I probably won’t get to see Terrie tonight. We’ve hung out with groups of friends, but this was going to be our first big alone date.”

David nearly collapsed onto the couch and put his feet up onto the ottoman. “How come you’re not with her right now? The sheriff probably isn’t home yet. You could be over there getting in some of that alone time.” David winked and waggled his eyebrows at his brother.

Matt blushed. “You’re disgusting. Is that all you ever think about? We haven’t even had a real date yet. Maybe I should warn Skylar that he’s dating a perv!”

“Lighten up, little brother. Your mind went there pretty quick. You were thinking the same thing I was. Seriously, though, why aren’t you over there hanging out with your girl until this stupid curfew goes into effect? I’m meeting Sky as soon as I get showered and changed.”

“I can’t. I have something else I have to do first. I’d meet her afterwards, but I might not be done until close to eight.”

“Your loss. I’m meeting up with Skylar for sure. We haven’t gone on a real date yet either. No promises on me making it home before curfew.” He winked at Matt.

“The curfew sucks, but it’s not a joke, David. Two kids have died. Two people that I knew. One was Brad’s best friend, and the other one was close with Terrie.”

David sighed. “I know. I’m not downplaying what happened to them. Hell, Kim is the one who introduced me to Sky. I just need one good thing in my life right now. Skylar is a good thing.”

“I know what you mean, David. Things have been weird ever since we’ve been here, and I’m referring to more than just animal attacks in the park. You go be with Sky. I’ll take care of everything else.”

“Hey! I’m the big brother. I should be taking care of things, and you should be going out having fun.”

“You’ve taken care of everything for over four months. It’s my turn now.” Matt turned off his game and stood up. “It’s almost five o’clock. I gotta go meet Elias. Have fun with Sky, big brother.”

David’s brow furrowed. “Be careful, Matt. I’ll see you tonight.”

Matt grabbed his coat, said goodbye to his brother, and left the house.

——————————————————————–

David pondered his brother’s words after he left. What was Matt up to? Did he know what was happening with David, or was he talking about the deaths of his friends? Was Matt still having nightmares about wolves? David desperately needed to talk to Skylar and find out if he’d discovered anything new? Sky’s texts from last night said that he’d found some helpful information. Sky was upset that David hadn’t answered until this morning, but David knew that he’d understand when David told him about the second blackout. What was happening? Was everything connected? David sent a text to Sky telling him that he’d meet him at Will’s Diner at five-thirty, and then he got up and headed into the shower.

——————————————————————————–

When Brad walked into the research room at the library, Devon Taylor waved him over to a table that was already piled high with books and old newspapers. Brad grinned and walked over to the table. “Wow. How did you get all this stuff setup already? Nice work!”

Devon smirked. “I had a study hall last period. I used senior privileges to escape early. I’m your junior editor, but I’m still a senior. Anyway, along with all this,” He waved a hand at all the research materials, “I have also bookmarked half a dozen or so websites. I’ll text you the links.”

“This is amazing, Dev. You remind me every day how thankful I am that I stole you away from the yearbook committee. If you don’t major in journalism, I’ll kick your ass myself.”

“None of that kinky talk, Holliday. You know I don’t swing that way. You’re thinking of my brother.” Devon winked at Brad.

Brad rolled his eyes. “Speaking of Skylar, he seems to be getting along rather well with my cousin. Has he said anything to you?”

“Has he said anything? He can’t stop talking about him! We may be related soon by the way he talks. Didn’t they just meet?”

“Don’t you believe in love at first sight, Dev?”

“Lust at first sight maybe.” Devon smirked.

“Well, David is a hottie for sure.”

“I am secure enough in my own sexuality to agree with you on that. My brother hit the jackpot on that one. David actually reminds me of Ross Lynch when Ross was blonde.”

“I wouldn’t put him in Ross Lynch’s category, but there is a resemblance. Your brother is a hottie, too, though. Anyway, are you finding anything over there?”

“I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for. All you’ve told me is that we’re researching past animal attacks because of what happened to Kim and Kevin.”

“Yeah. And I want to know what animals that are indigenous to this area that could be big enough to do what was done to them.”

“Believe it or not, I’m finding way more animal attacks than I thought I’d find. Almost none in the last fifteen years, but before that there were more than there should be, especially against pets and livestock. The number of large predators that we have in this area just doesn’t account for the number of attacks.”

“You said that you’ve cross-referenced the reports with newspaper articles. Did any of them say if they pinpointed exactly what was doing the killing?”

“They’ve always assumed bears, because of the size of the tracks. They’ve never reported catching or killing a bear near town, though.” Devon laughed. “That fact has given rise to numerous whack job websites. Some of which mention your family and the infamous werewolf curse.”

Brad sighed. “What if… what if they’re not all whack jobs? What if there was some truth to it?”

“What’re you saying, Brad? You’re the facts and research king. Are you saying, now, that we should believe in supernatural curses and fantastical creatures?”

“What if someone that you trusted,” Brad stopped in mid-sentence, sighed, and started back up again. “What if I told you that I’d seen a werewolf with my own eyes?”

The loud thumping of falling books interrupted Devon before he could reply. Both boys turned to see the junior librarian, Nathan Burke, standing a few feet away with his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide.

Brad leaped to his feet and walked towards Nate. “I don’t know what you thought you heard, but,”

Nate cut him off with anear squeal. “You’ve seen a werewolf?! I knew they were real!”

—————————————————————————-

Matt jammed his skateboard into his backpack and slung it over his shoulder on his way up the walkway to Eli’s house. He knocked on the door, and it was answered by a lady who looked to be about ten years older than Aunt Nancy, which put her around fifty years old. “Can I help you, young man?” The lady asked.

“Is Elias home?”

The lady scowled. “Are you a friend of Eli’s or one of those thugs who hurt him?”

“I’m… I guess, a friend? He is expecting me. My name is Matt.”

The lady looked at Matt suspiciously, but she let him inside. She turned and went about halfway up a staircase. “Eli! There’s someone at the door for you! He says his name is Matt!”

Elias appeared at the top of the staircase and looked down. “Really? Thanks, Judy. Tell him that I’ll be right down.”

The lady, now identified as Judy, came back down the stairs. “Elias will be down in a minute.” She peered over her eyeglasses at Matt, looking him up and down. “Do you two go to school together? He hasn’t mentioned any new friends or brought anyone home in a long time.” She got a sad look in her eyes.

Eli came running down the stairs and slid across the hardwood floor in his socks, coming to a stop right in front of Matt. He looked at his foster mother. “Thanks, Judy. This is Matt. We’re gonna hang out here for a little while and then go out.”

“Where,” Judy glanced from Elias to matt and back again. “Never mind. Just be safe, and make sure you are home before eight. The sheriff put a curfew on the town this morning.”

“We know. I’ll make sure we’re both home before the curfew.” Judy nodded and turned to walk deeper into the house. Elias turned to Matt. “I didn’t expect to see you until after six. Are you sure you want to be seen coming to my house?”

“I’ve decided that I don’t care. Everyone is going to make their own assumptions about me hanging out with you, and none of them care about the truth.”

“Sounds to me like you’re referring to assumptions that have already been made. Anything that I should be aware of?”

“You already know what Derrick said about the curse. And… Brad… he thinks… I don’t know. I guess he’s being a jealous ex-boyfriend.”

Elias arched one eyebrow. “What does he think? Does he think that I’m telling you about the curse to get into your pants?”

“I got the impression that he thought that I saved you from the bullies to get into yours.” Matt laughed.

Eli’s eyes grew wide and then a slow smile crept across his face. “Aren’t you dating Terrie Hanson? I thought you were straight, aren’t you?”

Matt smirked. “I told you he’s not being rational. He did apologize later. I helped you out of that situation, because it was the right thing to do, and I’m hanging out with you to talk about the curse.”

Elias looked thoughtful for a moment. “So, you’re just using me for my mind and not my body?”

Matt rolled his eyes. I’m not using you at all, Elias. I think underneath the loner exterior that you try to portray, there’s a genuinely good guy that I could be friends with.”

Elias got a faraway look in his eyes and frowned. “That may have been true once, but I’m not sure that it is anymore. Anyway, back to you, you have not answered my two questions. I bet you were hoping that I’d forget.”

Matt looked away from Elias and glanced toward the kitchen. “Are we going to stand in the hallway all night, or what? If you want answers, you’re going to have to feed me first!”

Elias clapped a hand onto Matt’s back and guided him toward the kitchen. “You know, this is starting to feel like a date, Mr. Montana.”

“You wish.” Matt laughed, but his cheeks tinged with blush.

“Yes, I do.” Eli grinned.

With leftover pizza, a bag of Doritos, and two bottles of Mountain Dew spread out on the table between them, Matt looked across the table at Eli. “This isn’t a date, Eli. I don’t want you to think that it might be. Above and beyond all the weird stuff, I do think that we could be friends, though.”

Eli smiled, but looked a little sad. “I know that, Matt, and thank you for saying that we could be friends. I’d like that. Friendship is very important, and I don’t have many. Well, I actually don’t have any, I guess. You seem to be gaining a lot of friends. Are you sure you need another one?”

“I have a lot of Brad’s friends. I don’t really feel like a part of that group. At least not yet. And, yes, I’m sure that I want you to be my friend.”

Eli grinned. “As your brand-new friend, I’d like to direct your attention to the fact that you are still avoiding my questions.”

Matt sighed. “You are relentless.”

Elias waggled his eyebrows. “These are very important questions that could affect the very foundation of our new friendship.”

Matt rolled his eyes dramatically. “Yes, I am dating Terrie. As far as the other question, what I will say is that I try not to label my own, or anyone else’s sexuality. Everyone is unique, and that’s the way it should be.”

“That is a very California answer.” Eli said with a smirk. “But, in your unlabeled sexuality, have you ever done anything with another boy?”

“No, I have not. There’s only been one other girl besides Terrie that I’ve even kissed. Not much to tell on that front with anyone.” Matt blushed.

“I’m basically in the same boat. Brad was the first, and only, boy that I’ve kissed. I thought we were on the verge of doing more, then he dumped me.”

“I may be out of line here, but I’ve answered two of your questions now. I’ve heard Brad’s side, what’s your version of events leading up to the breakup?”

Elias hung his head and sighed. After chewing on his lower lip for a minute, he looked up again. “I’m sure it will… mostly… line up with Brad’s story. I was new in town and I was getting bullied. This adorably cute boy named Brad asked me to be his friend, so I said yes. We hung out, a lot. Finally, I took a chance and kissed him. It was like fireworks in my brain, the best moment in my life up to that point. Things were good between us for a long time. Then I turned fifteen. On the night of my birthday, I had a nightmare. An older lady commanded me to go to the old house at the edge of town. When I woke up, I was compelled to go. I couldn’t stop myself. Inside the house, she appeared to me while I was awake, and she told me that she was the spirit of my mother.” Elias paused for a moment, then continued. “I won’t go into detail of what she told me right now. It’ll be easier to show you some stuff when we go to the house.”

“Ok. That makes sense.” Matt said.

“She showed me enough to make me believe that I was a witch like she claimed to be. I mean, how could I doubt it, she was a ghost. If ghosts can exist, why not witches? So, I kept going back to the house. It took time away from me and Brad, but I just couldn’t not go, and I couldn’t tell him. I knew he wouldn’t understand. Eventually, I was seen and the rumors started. Brad confronted me, and I told him that I couldn’t stop investigating my past. This was the only link that I’ve ever had to who I am. When I refused to stop going to the house, Bradley broke up with me. I thought he was my best friend. I thought he loved me, but to save face at school, he broke my heart. I did the only thing I could, I closed myself off from everyone, and I spent even more time than ever out at the house. When I wasn’t there, I was in my room here. I brought some of the witch’s journals and spell books here. Some of what I’ve read is amazing and some of it is scary.”

“Do you believe that it is real, Eli? So much is happening all around us. Is magic the cause? Is the curse real?”

Elias moved around the table and sat facing Matt, their knees touching. He grabbed both of Matt’s hands. “It is, Matt. Magic is real, and it’s amazing and exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I wanted so badly to share it with Brad, but he wouldn’t let me. Can I share it with you?”

Matt stared deep into Eli’s mahogany brown eyes. He saw excitement and fear, but most of all, he saw hope. “Yeah. Of course. Let’s go to your mom’s house. What’re friends for, right?” Matt smiled.

Now it was Eli’s turn to blush. “Right. Yeah. Let’s go!” He let go of one of Matt’s hands, but he still held the other one as he pulled Matt toward the door. He realized what he was doing and he let it go. He blushed even redder than he did before. “Oops. Sorry. Uh… grab your coat. I’ll tell Judy and Mark that we’re leaving.”

————————————————————————————-

“No. I said what if.” Brad said quickly.

Nate studied Brad for a minute. “You’ve seen one. I can see it in your eyes. You’re not a convincing liar. Tell me exactly what you saw!” Nate’s bright green eyes were dancing with excitement.

“You’re both crazy. Werewolves aren’t real. What’s next? Vampires? Zombies? Mummies?” Devon huffed out a laugh.

“I… I can’t swear on a Bible that what I saw was a werewolf, but I can say that it absolutely was not a bear. The research we just did proves there are no animals that match the thing that I saw. Also, yes it was dark, but the thing stood on two legs and it was wearing clothes. I saw it attack Kevin. I swear to God!”

Devon shook his head. “I believe you saw something big, and I believe you were stressed and scared if you were right there when Kevin was killed. Let’s treat this like any other story and do our research. Nate, can you direct us to the books on werewolf legends? Not the Hollywood stuff, but like actual Native American legends and stuff like that.”

“Absolutely. If you don’t mind, I can help a lot. I have read every book, article, and clipping on werewolves that the library has, and more internet research than you can imagine.” Nate laughed nervously.

“Let’s get started then.” Brad said

Nate grinned and disappeared into the library.

———————————————————————————

When David got to Will’s Diner, Sky was already waiting for him. Sky walked over and greeted David with a hug. “Are you sure this is the place that you want to eat for our first date? There’s also Paulie’s Pasta Pavilion a couple streets over.”

“No. This is perfect. Kim worked here. She was the first non-family member that I met in town, and she introduced me to you. This can be like our own private memorial service to her. I want to honor her, Sky. I’m so scared that I may have been involved in what happened to both her and that boy.”

Sky took David’s hand and led him into the diner. “Boo, I honestly don’t think that you could ever hurt anyone. Not ever. Now, let’s go get something to eat and we can talk about what’s bothering you.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t text you last night. I’ll explain why when I tell you everything else that has happened.” The two boys found a table furthest away from the counter, off in the corner by themselves.

——————————————————————

Nate hurried back to the research table and dumped an armful of books out in front of Brad and Devon. These will be the most helpful to you. I brought some on witchcraft as well, because this is Roxbury Falls, if we have a werewolf it is most likely tied to the curse on the Montana family.” He raised an eyebrow at Brad.

Brad raised both hands in front of him like he was warding off an attack. “Hey, don’t look at me! I’m not a direct descendant. My mom’s sister married a Montana.”

They were sorting and stacking the books that Nate had brought them. Devon stopped flipping through the book on Sioux skin walker myths and looked over at the other two boys. “This can’t be real, can it? I mean even if there’s some sort of monster stalking the town, it can’t be David or Matt. It just can’t be. They’re so… nice. Hell, my big bro is dating David.”

“Really? I hadn’t heard that Sky had a new boyfriend. This David must be something special to attract him.” Nate blushed.

“How come you never hooked up with Sky? I thought you would. You were both single through your whole senior year. The two hottest gay guys in school, I thought for sure you’d go to prom together at least.”

“Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean that we automatically like each other, Devon. Do you date every single girl you think is pretty?”

“I try, Nathan, I try.”

Nate shook his head. “And yet you’re single and hanging out at the library on a Friday night.”

“Whatever, dude!” Devon laughed.

“Besides, I had my eye on someone else last year. Sadly, he had a boyfriend.”

“Aww, that sucks. His loss. Who was it? I can’t think of many other gay guys in our school.”

Nate smirked but also blushed a deep scarlet. “You probably know him. He was a sophomore last year. I tried to woo him onto to yearbook committee to get to know him better, but he was too busy running the school newspaper. Then he started dating someone, and I knew I’d lost my chance.”

Brad’s mouth opened then closed three or four times, but no words came out. Finally, he found his voice. “I’m flattered and a little speechless. I… I’m not sure how to respond.”

Devon laughed out loud. “Well, that’s a first! Nate, you should confess your crushes more often. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for two years to get him to shut up!”

Brad smiled. “Nate, we are definitely not done with this conversation, but it’s getting late. We have to get back to work on this research. You said you’ve read all of this and seen all the movies and all the tv shows. Tell me what you know about werewolves.”

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7

Kevin looked confused. “What could they be hiding from us? Why would they hide anything? What do you think happened, Brad?”

“I’m not sure yet, Kevin. What I don’t understand is that if there is a murderer loose, then why wouldn’t they warn us? If there isn’t, then what are they hiding? Why hide the facts from the town?” Brad paced back and forth while he talked. He was talking more to himself than to Kevin. He always did that when he was trying to figure something out.

“Hey, did you hear that?” Kevin asked, staring into the trees, “I think I heard something, but it’s too dark. I can’t see what it was.”

Brad barely listened to Kevin. “Dark? Oh, wow, I didn’t even notice it was dark already. No, I didn’t hear anything, but let’s get out of here. There’s nothing to see except broken tree limbs and mangled bushes, and I’m getting hungry.” Brad and Kevin turned back up the trail and started out of the park.

Before the boys took even two steps up the trail, they heard a snarling noise from behind them. They turned around and saw a large figure jump out of the trees and onto the trail. They froze in their tracks in disbelief. The creature standing before them was like something out of a horror movie. It looked like a wolf, except for the fact that it was standing on two feet like a man and towered over both boys by at least a foot. As Brad grabbed Kevin’s arm and started to slowly back up, he noticed that the creature appeared to be wearing the tattered remains of human clothing. Brad’s mind raced. A million thoughts were going through his head as he tried to figure out exactly what was going on. This just wasn’t possible. He took another step backward, and the wolf followed. The wolf watched their every move and matched them step for step.

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Kevin stuttered, breaking out of the trance he had been in. “We have to get out of here, Brad.” Kevin pulled away from Brad and turned to run. Brad saw the wolf start to leap forward and tried to pull Kevin off the trail and into the woods. Before he could, the wolf landed squarely on Kevin’s back pulling him out of Brad’s grasp. Brad lost his footing and fell backward into the bushes. He sat up slowly and looked back towards Kevin. The first thing he saw was the blood dripping from the wolf’s mouth. Kevin was no longer moving or even making any sounds. As Brad watched, the wolf bent its head down and took another bite out of the back of Kevin’s neck. Brad knew that the sound of the ripping flesh would be a sound that he would never forget. He turned and ran out of the park while the wolf was busy devouring his best friend.

——————————————

By the time Brad got home, he was deciding whether or not to tell anyone what he had seen. No one would believe him, except maybe for Matt. The question was, would it only serve to upset Matt even more. Should Brad gather actual evidence first or tell his cousin that werewolves were real and not just in his dreams? He decided he had to gather proof first. That thing had to pay for killing Kevin, and he had to stop it before it could kill again. Brad had no idea how he was going to get proof, or how he was going to prevent something like what he had just seen without getting himself killed in the process. All he knew was that he had to do it. Brad went into the house and started to form a plan.

————————————————————-

Matt was sitting on the couch, watching Netflix with Terrie and Aunt Nancy, when Brad walked into the house. Hearing his cousin fixing himself a late dinner in the kitchen, Matt got up to go talk to him.

Brad heard someone coming into the kitchen. He looked up from what he was doing and saw Matt. “Hey, Matt. What’s up? Is Terrie here?”

“Yeah. She is in the family room with Aunt Nancy. Where did you disappear to after school? Me, Justin, and Devon looked all over for you. We went to the batting cages to get some extra practice in before tomorrow’s big game against Castle Rock. We thought you’d want to come along, too.”

Brad looked away from his cousin. “I had some other things to do.” Matt was about to question Brad further about what he had been doing that afternoon when Terrie rushed into the room, talking on her cell phone. She didn’t say much on the phone, but the longer she listened, the more upset she became. She ran to Matt as soon as she hung up the phone.

Matt put his arms around her. “What’s wrong? Who was that?”

“It was Juan. Kim is dead! It was her body that the jogger found in the park this morning. Juan went over to her house this afternoon to see why she wasn’t at school today, and her parents told him. They said that a large animal, probably a bear, attacked her. That doesn’t make any sense. How could a bear get all the way through town and into the park without anyone seeing it? That has never happened before that I know of. Not in this town. I have never heard of anyone seeing a bear anywhere near town, never mind right inside Lakeside Park. How could this have happened?” Terrie sobbed onto Matt’s shoulder. “I need to go over to Juan’s house to make sure he’s okay. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No. Go ahead. Juan needs someone like you right now. Kim was your best friend. I’ll call you later to see how you are.” Matt walked a little way down the street with Terrie.

Alone again, Brad thought about the situation he found himself in. He wasn’t sure what he could do against a creature like a werewolf. Although he didn’t think anyone, except Matt, would take him seriously if he told them precisely what he had seen, Brad knew that he had to stop this creature before it killed again. He needed time to think. Brad left the kitchen and went upstairs to his room before Matt could come back inside.

————————————————–

Skylar slammed his phone down in frustration. Why wasn’t David answering his calls or texts? With everything going on, Sky was worried. He hoped that David was ok and hadn’t had another blackout. Sky considered going over to David’s house to check on him, but it was late. He decided to go to bed and try texting David again first thing in the morning.

———————————————————————–

When it was time for Matt to go to bed, he wondered why David wasn’t home. He tried texting his brother a couple time but got no response. At first, he was worried, but then a slow smile crept across his face. David must be busy with Skylar. Matt put thoughts of his brother out of his mind and went to bed.

————————————————————————–

The next morning Brad turned on the television and saw that they found Kevin’s body. The police released a statement saying that they believed a rogue man-eating bear was in the area and coming into the park at night to hunt. They imposed an eight o’clock curfew on the town until they could capture or kill the bear. Brad didn’t know if it was an actual werewolf or not that had killed Kevin, but the police were wrong. He knew it was not a bear. Brad wanted to go to the police and tell them what he had seen, but he needed hard evidence first. Without evidence, they would laugh at him or call him crazy. Brad loaded up his backpack with some notebooks, pencils, his camera, and a few snacks. Right after school, his first stop would be the library and then the park.

Matt wandered down to the kitchen and was surprised to find Brad not only dressed but completely ready for school and watching the news. “Wow. What time did you get up? I think your mom is gone early again, too.”

“She is. There was another attack in the park.” Brad turned to face his cousin, tears streaming down his face.

“Brad, what’s wrong? Who was it this time?”

“It was Kevin. Kevin is dead.”

Matt rushed over and wrapped his arms around his cousin. “I’m so sorry, Brad. I know he was your best friend. This is so horrible. What has it said on the news?”

Brad relayed to Matt what the police spokesperson said. Probable bear attacks. Eight o’clock curfew until further notice. Stay out of the park.

“Let me finish getting ready for school. We can talk more on the way if you want.” Matt rushed off and then returned fifteen minutes later, and the two boys left the house.

Brad and Matt barely got to the walkway leading to Terrie’s house before she rushed out of the house and ran up to Brad. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, and she hugged Brad tight and sobbed onto his shoulder. “Why is this happening? First Kim and now Kevin!”

“It sucks. It makes no sense. Hopefully, your dad can figure out a solution quickly.” Brad said.

Terrie walked over to Matt and clutched his hand. The three friends walked the rest of the way to school in relative silence.

———————————————–

Matt groaned as he thought about going to chemistry class and seeing Elias. His first Friday in a new town and a new school and he couldn’t even be excited for the weekend. Two new friends were dead, and they also happened to be the best friends of his cousin and his girlfriend, a girlfriend that he should be taking out on a date on a Friday night. He shouldn’t be grieving over deaths and worrying about what weird thing that Elias would say next! What would he say today? Does Elias know what is happening in town? Just before Matt reached class, he heard a shout from around the corner. Curious, he went to see what the commotion was. Matt turned the corner and saw Elias on the floor and three boys standing over him. Elias’s nose was bleeding, and his left eye was already swelling shut.

“Hey, guys. What’s going on? Three against one doesn’t really look fair.”

One of the boys turned and glared at Matt. “Aren’t you Matt Montana? Your family was messed up in all that witch business back in the day. Maybe we should beat some answers out of you, too. Two kids are dead now, and it didn’t start until he started going into the witch house and then you showed up in town!”

Matt dropped his backpack and got ready to defend himself. Before the situation could escalate further, the chemistry teacher walked around the corner.

“What’s going on here?” Mr. Clark looked down at Elias. “Mr. Carrier, what happened to you?”

“I fell. Hard.”

“Are you sure that’s the story you want to stick with, Carrier?”

“Yeah. I fell.”

Mr. Clark turned to the three bullies. “You three get to class. Now! If I see you in the halls after the warning bell again, I’ll give you all detentions.” He looked down at Eli again. “Do you need to go to the nurse?”

Eli looked at the three older kids who were still lurking in the hallway behind the teacher. “Yeah. I should go to the nurse, Mr. Clark. Can Matt help me, so I don’t fall again on the way there?”

“Yes. Both of you are excused from class to go to the nurse. Stop by my office before you go home to get the homework assignment.”

“Thanks. We’ll see you after school.” Matt helped Eli to his feet, and they walked towards the nurse’s office.

“Why did you ask for me to go with you?” Matt asked as they turned the corner, leaving the teacher and the three bullies behind.

“To get you out of there. They might leave you alone if you’re not anywhere near me, but then again, they might not.”

“Which brings me to my next question, why didn’t you tell Mr. Clark what happened?”

“Because it would only make it worse. With two kids dead, things are probably going to heat up in this town. Warn the rest of your family. They’ll come for me first, but you all should be wary, too. Everything that goes wrong in this town, they blame the witches and the werewolf curse. Your family is tied up in all of that. You need to be careful.”

“Did you feel something again last night? Like you said that you did the night before? Do you really think the deaths are related to the curse, Eli?”

Eli sighed. “I can’t say for sure that the deaths relate to the curse, but I suspect they do. I feel the magic surrounding the curse getting stronger, and you are still having nightmares, right?”

Matt sighed. “Yeah, but I haven’t seen anything in real life to lead me to believe that anything from my dreams is coming true.” He stopped for a second. “Well, except for David getting bitten by what I know was a wolf.”

“It might be a coincidence, but it might not be. Come with me to my mom’s old house tonight. I want to show you some stuff.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “Come on, man. It’s Friday night. I want to take Terrie out on a date, not go to the witch house with you!”

“Do you want to find out about the curse and about your nightmares? My mom’s house is a lot more than just a haunted house.”

“Ok. Ok. After dark, though. Oh shit, what about the curfew?”

“It’s dark by five-thirty. Meet me at my foster parent’s house at five. I’ll text you the address. I’ll do my best to get you home before curfew.” He winked.

Matt left Elias at the door to the nurse’s office and hurried on to his next class.

——————————————————-

Brad saw Matt walk into the cafeteria side by side with Elias, and he frowned. He was about to say something, but as the two boys approached, he noticed Eli’s black eye and Matt’s concerned look. Brad couldn’t help but sigh when Eli sat down at the lunch table right next to Matt. Matt raised a finger before Brad could speak.

“I know this isn’t ideal, but it is necessary.” Matt looked at Terrie for support.

Terrie reached over and held Matt’s hand. “What happened, babe?”

Matt turned to Elias. “It’s more your story to tell if you want.”

Eli’s emerald eyes narrowed, and he brushed the perpetually stray lock of curly brown hair back into place. He pointed at Brad. “He can probably figure it out anyway. It was Derrick and his goon squad. They’ve been mostly leaving me alone, but now, with everything that has been happening, of course they use it as an excuse to come after me again. I should show them just how much of a witch I really am.”

Matt placed a hand gently on Eli’s arm. “If you tried to fight back, it probably would have been worse. There wasn’t much you could have done. There were three of them. Hopefully, Mr. Clark will handle it. It’s Friday. Maybe things will calm down before Monday.”

Brad’s eyes darted from Matt’s hand on Eli’s arm to Terrie to Eli and back to Matt. “Elias, do you want me to talk to Derrick? Maybe if he knew other people were watching, he’d back off on his own.”

“Brad, I…” Elias stopped mid-sentence, his brow furrowed, and he got a sad look in his eyes. “No, Brad. Don’t bother. If you wanted to help me, you would have done it last year.” Elias’ gaze shifted to Matt. “Don’t forget about tonight. It’s important.”

“I’ll be there. Five o’clock. Maybe a little sooner.” Matt said.

Eli got up from the table. “I’m not hungry. I’m gonna go to class. I’ll see you tonight, Matt.”

“Do you want me to walk with you to class? Just in case?”

“No. I’ll be careful. I need to think. Enjoy your lunch.” Elias turned and left the cafeteria.

Brad looked at his cousin, one eyebrow raised. “You two seem chummy all of a sudden. You’re going over his house tonight?”

Matt chuckled nervously. “I’m meeting him at his house. We’re actually going to the old Carrier house.”

Terrie inhaled sharply. “You’re going to the witch house? Tonight? With everything that’s happened?”

Matt sighed, looking from his cousin to his girlfriend. “Come on, guys. If anyone should understand, it’s the two of you. I’m going because of everything that’s happening. I need answers.”

Brad sneered. “I need answers, too, but I’m going to the library, not a haunted house.”

“Elias knows stuff. I don’t know how he knows, but he does. He knew about my nightmares, and he knew that something happened when David got bit. I’m going with him tonight, and I don’t care if you approve or not.”

“I’m just worried about you, Matt. If you start hanging out with Eli, and if people see you going into the witch house with him, it might be you with the black eye next.”

“Derrick and his pals already threatened me, Brad. Elias got beat up because he’s connected to our family history. Maybe instead of abandoning him, maybe we should all stick together and watch each other’s backs.”

“Wow. That’s a low blow. I told you already that I regretted breaking up with him. He won’t let me back in, but I guess he’s got you now. Good luck with that, Matt.”

“Brad, come on. Be reasonable. I know you said you regret abandoning him. He may not be ready to be friends with you again, but he’s willing to hang out with all of us as a group/ Take that as a first step. Maybe you guys can talk. I don’t know. All I know is that he might have information that I need to help my brother. So, yes, I’m going with him to that house tonight. I also know that we all need to watch out for each other here at school. We’re all safer if we’re together.”

“He’s not hanging out with us, Matt. He’s hanging out with you.”

“Wait… what? Are you jealous? I… I’m with Terrie. I’m straight.”

“I know what I saw, Matt. I gotta go.” Brad got up and stalked away from the table and left the cafeteria.

Matt looked over at Terrie. “I… I don’t even know what to say to that.”

Terrie leaned over and gave Matt a kiss. “It’s been a rough couple of days, Matt. For all of us. I’m sure Brad didn’t mean everything he said. I’ll go talk to him.” She got up and left to go find Brad.

Matt now found himself sitting alone in the cafeteria. He looked around at mostly unfamiliar faces, not knowing which ones might be friends with Derrick, or which ones might be allies. He decided it was smartest to leave and head toward his next class. Matt dumped his mostly uneaten lunch into the trash and left the cafeteria.

————————————————————

Matt waited out in front of the school like he did almost every day. Usually he was waiting for Terrie, Brad, and Kevin. Today there would be no Kevin, and Matt knew that was at the heart of the drama that happened earlier. Everyone’s nerves were on edge because of the deaths of Kevin and Kim. Kevin had been Brad’s best friend, of course he’d be super sensitive about everything today. Matt kicked the dirt and wondered if his cousin would show up to walk home, or if he’d avoid Matt altogether. Matt knew that making friends with Elias may cause some tension, but he looked at it as unavoidable. Matt needed to know what Eli knew about the curse. That meant that Matt had to go to the witch house, no matter what. Brad would just have to accept that.

Matt looked up and nearly held his breath as he saw both Terrie and Brad walking toward him. Terrie held back and let Brad approach Matt alone. Brad kind of smirked and blushed. “Hey, cuz.”

“Hey. I wasn’t sure if you’d show up out here.”

“I was out of line. I started to realize that as soon as I walked away, but Terrie caught up to me and made sure to tell me how much of an idiot I was.”

“Nothing about this situation is ideal, Brad. I mean this doesn’t even feel like real life anymore. I do have to go to his house, though. We both know that. We have to know what is real and what is legend. He knows stuff that I’ve never told anyone, and we have to know if any of this is connected to Kim and Kevin. You agree with me, don’t you?”

“Yes. There’s more to what’s going on than what the police are telling us.” Brad glanced back at Terrie. “Your dad isn’t telling the town everything he knows.”

Terrie caught up to Brad and Matt. “He hasn’t told me anything different than his official statement, but, yes, I know my dad well enough to know that he’s hiding something.”

The three friends had been walking along the edge of the park, and they were now standing in front of the town library. “This is my stop.” Brad said, pointing at the library. “I do agree with you, Matt. We have to find out what’s happening to our friends, and the adults aren’t telling us. You go do things your way, and I’ll do things my way, research. I believe in facts, not legends and ghost stories. I am sorry that I got heated in the cafeteria. Hell, even if there was more between you and Elias than just the research, it’s not my business. Me and Eli have been over for a long time. He’s made that fact abundantly clear. Terrie might have an issue with it, but it’s none of my business, and I shouldn’t have accused you anyway. Can you accept my apology, cuz?”

Matt smiled, relieved. “Dude, there’s nothing to apologize for. With everything that’s going on, there’s bound to be tense moments for everyone. And there’s nothing going on with me and Elias.” matt rolled his eyes dramatically.

“That’s good to hear.” Terrie said with a smile.

“Ok. Cool. We’re good then?” Brad asked.

Matt pulled his cousin in for a hug. “We’re better than good. Dude, you’re practically my brother.”

Brad grinned and ran up the steps and into the library. Matt and Terrie clasped hands and continued walking toward Terrie’s house.

About halfway there, Terrie looked over at Matt. “I trust you. You know that, right? You can tell me anything.”

Matt pulled Terrie to a stop and turned to face her. “We’re a couple, aren’t we? Like officially a couple, not just hanging out?”

“Yes. Definitely. As long as that’s what you want.”

“It is what I want. I would never cheat on you, Terrie. Not with a girl or with a guy. I could never do that to anyone. If there’s ever a time that there’s somebody else, I’d talk to you first, but I don’t see that happening. I like you a lot, Terrie.”

“I like you a lot, too, Matt.” Terrie wrapped her arms around Matt’s neck and pressed her lips to his. His hands slid to her waist as he returned the kiss. When they finally had to part in order to breath, Terrie looked up into Matt’s sky-blue eyes, her lips swollen from the kiss and her eyes glazed over with desire. “I think I believe everything you just said, Mr. Montana. Now please finish walking me home. I have homework, and you have a date with Elias.”

“A date.” Matt scoffed. “Fat chance.” He reached out and took Terrie’s hand in his and walked her home.

Matt walked Terrie up to her front door and stopped. “When I get home from Eli’s, I’ll text you. It’s freaking Friday night. I want to take you out on a real date tonight, but with the thing with Eli and the stupid curfew, I don’t know if I’ll even be able to see you at all. It’s not like the daughter of the sheriff could sneak out.” He smirked.

“I am not sneaking out. My dad would totally freak if he caught me. We can FaceTime when you get home. Hopefully, whatever is happening is sorted out soon. For now, we can plan a Saturday afternoon date.”

Matt pulled Terrie close and stared down into her eyes. “That sounds like an amazing plan. I wish I could just stay here with you forever. I’d be the happiest guy on Earth.”

“You’re such a sweet talker, Matthew Montana.” She grinned up at him. “Go. get this over with. Find out what he knows. I’ll be waiting for your text.” She kissed him one more time, and then she turned and went into her house.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6

In twenty years as sheriff of Roxbury Falls, Ronnie Hanson had never seen a sight like the one before him now. When the call came in that a jogger had stumbled across a mutilated body in the middle of Lakeside Park, Ronnie thought it was some sort of sick practical joke. Now, with both Roxbury Falls patrol cars, two state police cars, an ambulance, and the coroner’s van all sitting in the middle of the park, Ronnie thought back to his days in New York City. Even the everyday violence of New York seemed tame compared to this, and now that damn reporter Nancy Holliday was here.

Sheriff Hanson thought about what he could possibly say to poor Mr. And Mrs. Martinez as he stormed over to head Nancy off before she reached the scene. It was tough enough to tell parents that their daughter had died, but this was worse. Something completely decapitated Kim Martinez and tore her to shreds. Who or what could have done this? A crazed psychopath? Some sort of wild animal? These were all questions that Ronnie Hanson vowed he would find answers to. He wanted answers before there were any more deaths in Roxbury Falls.

————————————————————–

The alarm beeped on his cell phone, and David groaned as he reached over and silenced it. Still half asleep, he got out of bed and noticed that he was wearing his clothes from the previous day. Then he realized that his clothes felt damp and sticky. David turned on his bedroom light and looked down at himself with shock and horror. His clothes were torn to shreds and covered in blood. David’s body and hair were also sticky with blood. He stripped off what remained of his clothes and looked himself over. David could not find a scratch or mark anywhere, so where had all the blood come from? Whose blood was it if it wasn’t his? What had happened last night? David was scared. He couldn’t remember anything since he laid down for his nap last evening after Skylar left.

No, wait there was something else. He woke up in terrible pain last night. The phone had been ringing, but the pain had kept him from answering it. After that, he could remember nothing else until the alarm woke him up just a few minutes ago. David knew something terrible must have happened. The blood had to have come from somewhere. He saw with horror that in addition to the blood, mud also covered his feet and legs. He had been out last night; he just couldn’t remember what had happened. David looked around his room and saw the shattered remains of his window. What had happened here last night? He couldn’t remember and that scared him. David looked out into the hallway to make sure no one else was up yet, and then he ran to the bathroom to shower and get dressed. After his shower, David put his bloody clothes and sheets in a trash bag and hid them in the woods behind the house. He couldn’t take the chance of putting them in the trashcans in case someone went out there. David decided that he couldn’t tell Matt about any of this until he figured out what was happening to him, but he had to talk to someone. That someone would, of course, be Skylar. Sky had been open-minded and helpful so far, hopefully that would continue.

————————————————————

Matt smiled as Terrie came rushing across the lawn. She grabbed his arm and started to pull him across the street. “What took you so long? Where’s Brad? Hurry up; something is going on in the park. My dad and some state cops have been down there since before daybreak.”

Matt had to jog to keep up with her. “Hey! Come on. Slow down for a minute and tell me what’s going on.”

Terrie looked at him and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what’s going on, Matt. That’s why we need to get down there. If my dad called the state police, then it must be something big. Nothing ever happens in this town. That’s why we need to go down there and see what’s up. Now hurry.” Terrie was already ten yards ahead, so Matt broke into a run to catch up with her. Matt and Terrie entered the park and saw that Terrie’s instincts were probably right. Something big must be going on, the cops had half the park roped off with crime scene tape, and there were at least half a dozen police cars as well as several other official vehicles parked all over the place.

“I wonder what happened. Everyone left the house before I did this morning. I wonder if Brad heard about this from Aunt Nancy. I bet he’s here somewhere.” Matt was looking out into the park to see if he could see what was going on. He thought about his dreams and about David, but he knew that David was alright. He had seen David leave for work this morning, and Terrie said that whatever was going on here had happened before daybreak. David had looked tired, but otherwise, he had seemed fine.

“Look! There’s my dad. He’s talking to the state cops.” Matt looked in the direction that Terrie was pointing in and saw Sheriff Hanson leaning against his car and talking to the state troopers.

“We better get going, Terrie. Your dad spotted us, and you know he’ll kill us both if we’re late for school.” Matt started to turn away, hoping that Terrie would follow him.

“You go ahead. I’ll catch up to you in a minute. I want to find out what’s going on here first.”

“No way. If I leave you here by yourself, you’ll never make it to school. I know you want to be a cop like your dad, but if he finds you messing around at his crime scene, he’s going to hit the roof.”

Brad stepped out from behind a tree next to where Matt and Terrie were standing. “No need to investigate, Terrie, I already know what happened. I overheard my mom on the phone this morning before she took off. Her source told her that a jogger found a mutilated body in the park and called the police. This could be the first murder in Roxbury Falls in over thirty years.”

“Murder? Are you sure?” The news stunned Terrie. Murder in Roxbury Falls? Things like that just didn’t happen here.

“Yeah, I’m sure. My mom took off right after she got the call. I heard her tell David about it. She told him to be extra careful. Speaking of my mom, there she is right over there.” Brad pointed to the other side of the park directly across from where they stood.

“Someone was mutilated, oh my God.” Terrie looked as if she was getting physically ill, and she leaned against Matt for support. “I wonder if we knew the person. Brad, did you hear your mom mention any names?”

“No, I didn’t, but we know just about everyone in town. Odds are we knew whoever it was.”

“How did David react when Aunt Nancy told him? Did he look alright?” Matt asked.

“He looked shaken up, but I guess that’s to be expected. He went to work, so he must be fine.” Brad said.

Matt kept glancing into the park and knew that Sheriff Hanson had spotted them and was keeping an eye on them. “We had better get out of here and get to school, you guys. Terrie’s dad keeps looking over here.” The three friends turned and left the park. When they reached Chestnut Street, they took a left and headed towards the school.

—————————————————————————–

Sheriff Hanson got to the edge of the scene just as Nancy Holliday ducked under the yellow tape. “Nancy, you can’t be here right now.”

“Come on, Ronnie. You know you can’t keep the press out, especially when this is the biggest thing to happen in this town in twenty years.”

“I don’t care about your career or your newspaper. I care about the integrity of my crime scene and about the victim and her family.”

“Her? So, the victim is a female? Come on, sheriff, you have to let me in.” She flashed her press pass at him.

“Ok. Ok. I’ll let you in, but I’m escorting you around the scene. We’re still collecting evidence.”

When they reached the center of the crime scene, in the most densely wooded section of the park, Nancy Holliday was glad that she left home before eating breakfast. The body, or rather what was left of it, was still in the center of the path. There was blood everywhere. The Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit was still bagging evidence, and the state medical examiner was standing by ready to recover the body as soon as it was released by the detectives.

“How did you even determine the sex of the victim? It doesn’t look like there’s much left. Was the body eaten? Are the footprints? Pawprints?” Nancy covered her mouth with her hand and gagged.

“We. Um. We found the head in the bushes over there.” He pointed off to the left.

“Oh. Oh, dear. What could have done something like this?”

“I don’t know. Something big. A bear most likely, I guess.”

“In the middle of town? If I wasn’t looking at the scene, I’d call you crazy for even thinking that. It seems unlikely, but it is the most plausible explanation, I suppose.”

“Nancy, I need you to hold off on printing this story until we find out exactly what happened. I don’t want to cause a panic or have hunters going off all half-cocked into the woods looking for bears.”

“How long are you asking for? The people have a right to know that the park might not be safe.”

“Give me forty-eight hours. I’ll have my deputies and the park service officers on alert and patrolling the park after dark.”

“I can give you forty-eight hours. Have you made an identification yet?”

“A teenage girl. Kimberly Martinez.”

Nancy sighed. “I know her family. I can’t even imagine how they’ll feel or how they’ll deal with this tragedy.”

“I knew Kim well. She was one of my daughter’s best friends. Terrie is going to be heartbroken. They were together just last night at the library. I will have to ask Terrie what time they left so I can start narrowing down when this happened.”

“That’s going to be rough. Brad was close to Kim, too. I think I’m done here, Ronnie. I’ll leave you to your work. Call me when it’s ok for me to release the story. I’m willing to give you your two days, but in this town, I won’t be surprised if word gets out before that.”

“You’re probably right, but I’ll deal with that if and when it happens.”

“I’m going to write the story right away. If word does leak out, I’m printing it. I won’t be scooped in my own town.”

“That’s fair. Thank you for trying. I do appreciate it.”

Nancy left the park and got into her car. She rested her forehead against the steering wheel and broke down in tears. That girl was her son’s friend. What if it had been Brad on that path instead of Kim. She didn’t even want to think about that. She composed herself as best as she could and drove to the newspaper office to start writing her story. She didn’t want to spend her entire career in obscurity as the editor of a small-town newspaper. Sometimes tragedy was what it took to launch a journalist’s career.

——————————-

Matt sank into the seat at the lunch table. “Thank God that I didn’t have chemistry today. I’m just not in the mood for Elias.”

“Well, then you might want to leave because here he comes.” Brad said.

Eli sat down right across from Matt. “What’s happened. I can feel that something has changed. What is it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Elias. Then again, I rarely do.” Matt shrugged.

Eli pointed right at him. “You know. I know you know. It’s all in your dreams. But now something has happened for real. Everything is different now. I sense it.”

Brad interjected. “Eli, leave him alone. Get away from our table.”

“I’m not talking to you, Bradley. I haven’t been interested in talking to you since you dumped me when I needed you the most. I’m talking to Matt, and I’m pretty sure that he can answer for himself.”

Brad looked visibly shaken, and he sat back in his chair and kept quiet.

Matt looked from Eli to Brad and back again. “Elias, I’m not sure what you want me to say. I told you that David was bitten by a dog or a wolf or whatever. As far as I know, nothing else has happened. He went to work this morning like normal.”

“Something happened, Matt. I guarantee you something happened. Something big.” Eli got up and left the cafeteria.

Matt looked over at his cousin. “You ok?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. Let’s go. The bell should be ringing any minute.”

———————————

David had been wracking his brain all day at work, trying to figure out what was happening to him. All he kept coming back to was the impossible. He needed someone else’s opinion, and he couldn’t go to Matt. David took his phone out of his pocket and texted Skylar.

David: Hey. Something else happened. I need to talk… if you don’t mind.

Sky: I’ll be right over.

David: No. Meet me at the edge of the park right near the store.

Sky: Gimme ten minutes.

David: Thanks, Sky. (hug emoji)

Sky: I’ll always be there for you. (kiss emoji)

David: (kiss emoji)

—————————————————————————

Sky walked up behind David and wrapped his arms around his waist. Sky rested his chin on David’s shoulder. “Hey, you. What’s up? What happened?”

David leaned back into Skylar’s embrace and sighed. “I’m not even sure how to begin.”

“Just tell me, Boo. You can tell me anything, and it’ll stay between us.”

David extracted himself from Sky’s arms and waved a hand toward the police down in the park. “Have you heard about what happened in the park?”

“Yeah. Some sort of animal attack. A jogger found a body from what I heard. You know who it was yet?”

“No. My aunt may know, but I haven’t talked to her. My point is that it’s weird, right? All our talk about werewolves and witches and curses, and now an animal attack in the middle of town?”

“David, we live in rural Maine, not southern California. The middle of town is still basically the middle of the woods. It’s uncommon, but not unheard of. Is that what was bothering you?”

David’s brows knitted together in a scowl. “No. That’s not all.” He sighed again and started pacing. Sky wrapped an arm around David’s shoulders and led him to a bench and made him sit down. David took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Last night, after you left, I went to take a nap just like I told you I was going to. Sometime later, I woke up to the phone ringing, but I never answered it. I remember intense pain all over my body, and then I must have blacked out. The next thing that I remember was waking up in my bed this morning.”

“Were you still in pain? Are you hurt, babe? I can go get my dad’s truck and take you to the hospital.”

“No. It’s not that. I appreciate that, though. The thing is that I don’t remember anything. The night is a blank.”

“Whatever caused the pain and the blackout may have caused the memory loss. Did you hit your head or fall down at work or anything like that?”

“No, Sky, listen. I’m not done telling you what happened.”

“Ok, boo. I’m listening.”

“When I woke up and saw that it was morning, I was a little confused. I sat up to get out of bed, and that’s when I noticed that I was still wearing yesterday’s clothes. That, in itself, wouldn’t have been odd since, at the time, I thought that I’d been in bed since my nap the evening before.”

“What do you mean by ‘at the time,’ have you remembered anything else?”

“What I mean is that when I got up, still half asleep, I noticed that my body felt… sticky. I looked down and saw that my clothes were ripped to shreds, and I was covered in blood and mud. The blood was splattered all over my body, and the mud covered just the lower parts of my legs and my feet. I stripped off the tattered remains of my clothes, and I searched my body for any cuts or scrapes. I couldn’t even find a bruise anywhere on me. The blood was obviously not mine. My sheets were also covered in blood and mud stains. I was seriously freaking out now, but I calmed down enough to wrap all my bloody clothes and sheets into a ball and put them in a trash bag.

The next thing I did was peek out my bedroom door, and make sure that no one else was in the hall. I grabbed clean clothes and rushed into the shower. After I was clean and dressed, I took the trash bag with the bloody clothes and sheets, and I hid it in the woods behind the house. After that, I finished getting ready for work like normal.” David sighed and leaned against Sky. “Oh, my bedroom window is smashed, too. The glass is on the ground outside as if something or someone broke out, not in. Now you’re caught up on my insanity. What do you think?”

Sky got up from the bench and knelt in front of David. He took David’s hands and looked directly into his eyes. “I do not think that you are insane. We will figure this out. There has to be a logical explanation.”

David’s eyes stung with tears that he refused to let fall. He motioned toward the park in the direction that the police cars were just now leaving from. “What if… what if I’m so screwed up that I did something, and then I blacked it out. What if all this talk of curses and werewolves has my subconscious mind convinced that I am one, and I went on some kind of rampage last night?”

Sky’s eyes furrowed and he frowned. Then he looked back up at David. “I’ve only known you for a couple of days, but I don’t think that you could ever hurt anyone, consciously or subconsciously. You are a truly good person, David.”

“What about the blood? And the mud? And my window?”

“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and assume the worst. We do know that your dog… or wolf bites healed overnight. It’s possible that you were sleepwalking and crashed through your window. The glass could have ripped your clothes and given you tons of cuts all over your body. People have done worse while sleepwalking. Then you found your way back to bed before you woke up. All that leaves is the fact that you healed overnight again. That’s the only thing that I can’t explain.”

“I know that you’re trying to comfort me, but me having a mutant healing factor like Wolverine doesn’t make anymore sense than me being a werewolf. None of this makes sense. None of this is possible in real life. What the hell is happening to me, Sky?” Now David did break down and start to cry.

Skylar stood up and pulled David up with him. Sky wrapped his arms tight around David and held him close. “We’ll figure it out. Everything is going to be ok, Boo. I promise.”

David sobbed into Sky’s shoulder. “You can’t promise that. We have no clue what is going on, and I’m scared to tell anyone else.”

Sky looked thoughtful. “I agree that we shouldn’t tell anyone else yet. Let’s try and sort this out on our own.”

“What’s our next step then?”

“Let me do some research. There’s bound to be something on the internet, even if it’s wacky conspiracy theories. There may be some truth hidden in there, even if the people posting the stuff don’t know it.”

“I’ll do the same thing, and we can compare notes later. Thank you so much, Sky. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Sky’s hands slid down to David’s hips and he pulled him in even closer. David looked up at Sky and leaned in. Their lips met in a brief but intense kiss. Sky pulled back for just a moment. “It’s only been two days, but I don’t know what I’d do without you either.” He leaned back in for another kiss. David’s lips parted allowing Sky’s tongue to dart inside his mouth, their tongues wrestling for dominance as their kiss deepened. David moaned as his arms wrapped around Sky’s neck, their bodies pressing even closer together. The sound of Sky’s phone ringing interrupted their moment. Sky groaned as he looked at his phone and shook his head in irritation.

“I gotta go, Boo. After I run this errand for my mom, I’ll start on that research. I’ll text you as soon as I find anything.”

“We are setting a pattern of poorly timed interruptions.” David chuckled. “First my brother and then your mom. But, yeah, I’ll do my own research, and we’ll talk later.” After one last kiss, the boys parted ways. Sky walked toward his house, and David stared off into the park, wondering what happened last night. maybe Aunt Nancy would know. He hoped that he and Sky could find a logical explanation for the seemingly illogical things happening to him.

Just before David turned to leave, he spotted Brad down in the park. What was he doing down there, right where the police had just been? David stopped to watch his cousin.

——————————-

After school, Brad went back to the park. He avoided his friends, hid, and waited until it was almost dark. Just after the last of the police officers left, he came out of hiding to have a look around. Investigative journalism was in his blood. Brad had practically grown up at the newspaper office, and by the time he was fourteen, he was the editor-in-chief of the school paper. Now, at sixteen, he was working part-time for his mom at the Roxbury Times.

He had a feeling that something big was happening here, and he wanted to find out for himself what it was. It looked as if the cops had washed the whole area clean. Only broken branches remained behind as evidence that anything happened here. He started taking pictures anyway. Best to document everything.

Brad was about to have a closer look when he heard someone shout. he left the trail and hid among the trees, hoping whoever it was would disappear.

“Brad! Hey, Brad!” Kevin Williamson came huffing and puffing around the corner. “Where did he go? He was right here just a second ago.” Kevin looked all around in confusion and frustration.

Brad came back out onto the path. “Kevin, what are you doing out here?”

“There you are. Why were you hiding in the trees? I was walking home from the library, and I saw you out here. I didn’t see you after school, so I figured I’d see what you were up to. What’s going on? Isn’t this the spot where all the police were this morning?”

“Yes, I waited until all the cops left, and then I came down here to look around to see if I could figure out what might have happened. Not too much to see, though. They cleaned the area up well. They cleaned it up so well that it makes me think they are hiding something from the town.”

————————————

David was still watching his cousin and then another boy showed up.  Kevin? Yeah, he thought the kid’s name was Kevin. David wondered why Brad and Kevin were looking around right where the police had just been. What could they be looking for?

Then thoughts of his cousin were blocked out by intense pain. The pain completely overtook his body. He fell to the ground and tried to suppress a scream. David looked down and saw his fingernails lengthening and hair sprouting out all over his arms and hands. He looked up at the sky and noticed the full moon. David’s last thought before the wolf took control of his mind was that maybe Matt had been right all along. Perhaps they should have listened to Gramps’ stories and stayed away from Maine after all. Then David’s rational thoughts were gone. The wolf howled, sniffed the air, and went into the trees in search of prey.


The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5

After a few hours of tossing and turning, David decided that sleep just wasn’t going to come, so he kicked his blankets off and glanced at his phone to check the time. It was just before six. If he got up now, he could beat everyone else into the shower. He’d need extra time to change the bandages on his arm anyway. As he grabbed his clothes and walked into the bathroom, he realized something. All night long, he hadn’t been able to sleep because his arm first hurt and then itched like crazy, but now it felt totally fine. Maybe the meds that the emergency room doc gave him finally kicked in. He shrugged. He’d find out if the wounds looked any better or worse in just a few minutes when he changed the bandage.

Once in the bathroom, David set his clothes down and then proceeded to get out some fresh gauze and medical tape. He carefully removed the bandage from his arm and his eyes widened in shock. The bitemarks were gone. He scowled, his thoughts racing. Maybe the dog hadn’t broken the skin after all? No, that wasn’t true. If he needed proof, all he had to do was look at the dried bloodstains on the inside of the old bandage. Plus, his arm had hurt and itched all night long. He ran his fingers over the perfectly smooth and unblemished skin. What was happening?

He immediately thought of Matt and all the old stories. There was no way he could tell his brother that his wounds healed overnight. He couldn’t even tell Brad or Aunt Nancy. He had to talk to someone, that left Skylar. Just thinking Sky’s name brought a smile to David’s lips. They’d only known each other a day, but David already felt a strong connection to Sky, both an emotional connection and a physical one. Remembering their kiss caused David to blush even though he was alone in the bathroom. It caused another reaction, too, one that he would take care of once he got into the shower. He finally turned on the water, and while he waited for it to heat up, he sent Sky a quick text asking him if he’d like to hang out after David got home from work. Before he even set his phone down, David received a reply. Sky said that his afternoon was free, and he’d love to hang out. David smiled and stepped into the shower. Maybe today would be a good day after all.

—————————————————————————

Matt didn’t want to go to school, but David and Aunt Nancy made him go anyway. So, he was not in the best of spirits when he and Brad stopped to meet up with Terrie on the way to there, and the fact that David barely spoke to him this morning didn’t help his anxiety at all. At least David had mentioned that his arm was feeling a little better.

Terrie could tell that Matt was upset, but she kept quiet. About halfway through the park, Matt stopped at a bench and sat down. Brad and Terrie sat on either side of him as he started to speak. “You guys are going to think I’ve lost my mind, but there’s some stuff I need to tell you. Both of you have to promise me that you won’t repeat what I’m about to say to anyone, ok?”

They both agreed, and Matt told them about his nightmares and about what he saw last night and all the weird things that Elias said to him. “So, do you think I’m crazy or what?”

“Of course not, Matt, but I think it’s over now. Somehow you had a premonition that your brother was in danger from a wolf, but now it’s all over. The wolf did come, but David escaped with not much more than a few scratches and bites.” Terrie took one of Matt’s hands and looked deep into his eyes. “Please stop worrying. It was weird and scary, but now it really is over.”

“I hope you’re right, Terrie. I really do, but I’m not so sure. Something tells me that whatever is going on is just starting, not ending.” Matt looked away from Terrie and stared off into the woods to the north of town and shuddered. “I feel danger and it’s getting closer every day.”

Brad got up from the bench. “You’re letting your nightmares and my stupid ex get to you. I agree with Terrie. It’s over now. Come on, guys. We’ll talk more about this later if you want. We gotta get going, or we’ll be late for school.”

—————————————————————–

Matt slid into his seat in chemistry class and set his books down. He tried his best to ignore Elias, but he felt the other boy staring right at him. Matt spun in his seat. “What?! What weird thing do you have to say to me this time?!”

“Something happened last night, didn’t it? I felt something change, and now I can see it on your face. What happened, Matt? I told you I want to help, and I meant it.”

“Nothing happened. Please leave me alone, Elias.”

“Just remember that I have offered to help. When you are ready, come to me.”

The bell rang to start class, and the teacher walked into the room. Matt opened his textbook and refused to even glance Eli’s way for the rest of the class period.

———————————————————————

It was a very long day for Matt Montana. All through school and baseball practice, all he could think about was his brother. Everyone else, except maybe for Elias, was convinced that everything was fine. Matt still had a bad feeling. No wolf had ventured that far into town in over a hundred years. Something weird was happening. Matt felt it, but no one believed him. The wolf in Matt’s nightmare did more than just bite David’s arm, it devoured him and then changed somehow. Matt would keep a close eye on his brother because he was convinced that the danger was far from over.

Baseball practice finished, and Matt ran over to where Terrie sat in the bleachers. “What time are you meeting Kim at the library tonight?”

“Around seven. The library closes at ten, so we’ll have three hours to get that damn paper out of our hair. It’s due next week. How are you doing with yours?”

“Not as well as I should be, but I might be able to have my first draft finished by tomorrow night.”

Terrie rolled her eyes at him. “You better, Mr. Montana. I’m not going to date a failure.” She smiled. “No way. My dad would not approve of that.”

Matt laughed. “I guess I better get busy then.” He reached out and took her hand. “Can I walk you home?”

She smiled at him again. “I thought you’d never ask.”

——————————————————————————-

David got home from work and saw that Skylar was already there and waiting for him. As David approached, Skylar nearly bounced up from his seat on the front steps and met David halfway down the driveway. Sky was grinning ear to ear which caused David to smile as well.

“Hey there.” David said. “I know I said to meet me here after I got off work, but I thought you’d give me a chance to shower before you got here.” He laughed.

“I was happy you texted me this morning. I got bored this afternoon. I went for a walk and wound up here. I can just chill and wait for you to get cleaned up if you don’t mind.”

“No classes this afternoon?”

“I had two this morning. My afternoon was free. After a couple hours of studying econ, I needed a break.” Sky rolled his eyes.

“Come on in. I don’t think anyone else is home. I’ll turn the TV on for you. I’ll be quick.”

———————————————————————————-

David did take a quick shower, but then took a little extra time to make himself look just right for Skylar. He slipped on a pair of sneakers and ran downstairs. When he got to the living room, he found Sky playing Xbox with Brad.

Sky looked up when David came in the room. “Woah. You clean up nice.” He set the game controller down and stood up. “Brad, just go ahead and kill my character. I gotta go.”

Brad rolled his eyes. “You boys behave yourselves and don’t do anything that I wish I was out there doing!”

David blushed. “No promises, cousin.” He took Sky’s hand and led him out the front door. Once they were outside, David motioned towards the front porch swing. The two boys sat on the swing hip to hip, each with an arm around the other.

David shivered and inched a little closer to Sky. I need to talk to you. I hope you don’t mind listening to my insane ramblings.” David gave a nervous laugh.

“Of course not. Is it me? Did I do something wrong?”

“No. No. No. Not at all. It’s my own weirdness. My family actually. Since you live here, I’m sure you’ve heard about the supposed curse on my family?”

“Yeah. Of course. Everyone has, but it’s just town legend. Werewolves and witches don’t exist. If you’re worried that I wouldn’t like you because of that, you’re crazy.”

David grinned. “That’s comforting to hear, but what I want to talk about goes a little deeper than that. Some weird stuff has been happening.”

“Ok. Spill it. Tell me. I’m here to listen and not judge.”

“Thank you, Sky.” David smiled and took Sky’s hand, intertwining their fingers. “So, whenever my grandad would visit us out in California, he would tell us all the old stories and family legends. Matt really got caught up in the stories and took them to heart. Then the car accident happened, and Matt really struggled.”

Skylar squeezed David’s hand. “I’m so sorry, David. I’m sure words can’t even describe how horrible that must have been, or how tough it must still be.”

David leaned his head against Sky’s shoulder. “Thank you. It means a lot for you to say that. Well. after the accident, like I said, Matt struggled. Then my boyfriend bailed on me. Everything was just spiraling downhill, and I couldn’t fix it by myself. I called Aunt Nancy, and she agreed to let us come here. It seemed like the best plan, and it still does.”

“So, why do you sound unsure?”

David took a deep breath and continued. “This is where the weirdness starts. As soon as it was settled that we were moving here, Matt started having nightmares. I mean, he had been having nightmares since the accident, but now they were different.”

“Different how?” Sky asked.

“Before, he dreamed about the crash. He was in the car. Did you know that part?”

“Oh, my God! No, I didn’t know that! That would cause nightmares for sure!”

“Yeah. Well, now, in his nightmare, after the crash, I show up. Right after I show up, a wolf kills and eats me. Then the wolf stands up, and its eyes have changed color from amber to bright blue. That’s how his nightmare ends.”

“Wow. That’s intense. It does sound like his subconscious has combined the old stories with his traumatic experience with the crash.”

“That was my thinking, but I’m not done with my story yet.”

“Wow. Ok. What else happened?”

David lifted up his arm and pointed to the bandage. “See this?”

“Yep. I was going to ask, but I hadn’t had the chance yet. What happened?”

David sighed and rolled his eyes. “This is where you will start to think that I’m losing my mind.”

“Never. Just tell me. We’ll figure it out together.”

“Ok. You asked for it. Last night, after our much too short make out session,” David smirked at Skylar and Sky blushed bright red. “I went into the house. Just before we were all going to bed, Aunt Nancy asked for one of us to empty the trash. I volunteered. As I was dumping the trash into one of the bins in the backyard, something big rammed into me, and it bit my arm. I thought it was a stray dog. Matt insisted that he got a good look at it, and he swore it was a wolf.”

“He could just be projecting his nightmares and his fears into reality. It might have been a dog like you thought, but your brother was expecting to see a wolf, so he saw a wolf.”

“Exactly what I thought last night. Then this morning I took the bandage off to shower and put clean gauze over the wound and I saw this.” David peeled the bandage away, showing Sky his clean, smooth, unblemished skin.

“Are you sure that the dog broke the skin?” Sky said, his eyes wide with shock.

David raised one eyebrow. “I went to the emergency room. They cleaned and bandaged my arm. My arm hurt and itched all night long, and when I removed the old bandages, there was dried blood on them. The dog… or wolf… definitely broke the skin.”

Sky traced a finger slowly along David’s arm. “There’s not a mark on you. I don’t know what to say. It’s impossible.”

“You mean impossible like werewolves and witches?”

“Yes. Exactly.” Sky gave off a nervous laugh.

“Anyway. that’s my story. I really needed to tell someone. I needed to say it out loud. Thank you for listening and not running away.”

Sky leaned over and kissed David’s cheek. “Anytime, boo. I’ll never run away from you. I plan on being here to see you through whatever comes your way.”

David turned his head and their lips met in a tender kiss. He broke away with a groan. “I’d love to continue this, but I seriously need a nap. I got like zero sleep last night.”

Skylar chuckled. “If you’re too tired to kiss, then I guess you really are tired. Go get some shut eye. Text me later.” Skylar gave David one last kiss and turned to go.

David nearly stumbled into the house. On his way to his bed, he only stopped long enough to tell Brad that he was going to take a nap. In less than ten minutes, he was fast asleep.

———————————————————————————-

When Matt got home, the house was much quieter than usual. He went into the living room, and Brad was sitting in front of the TV playing video games. “You the only one home?”

“David’s asleep. Mom is still at the office, working on a deadline. I thought it might take you longer than this to walk Terrie home.” Brad smirked but didn’t even look up from his game.

“Shut up, jerk-face.” Matt rolled his eyes. “She had to eat a quick dinner, and then she’s meeting Kim at the library to work on that stupid English assignment. Why is David asleep so early? Did he come home early from work? Is he sick?”

“He worked all day then Skylar came over. They talked for a while out on the porch. After Sky left, David said he was gonna take a nap. I guess he didn’t sleep much last night.”

Matt was beginning to worry all over again but decided David needed his sleep. “Well, since your mom’s not home, let’s go down to Will’s Diner. What do you say? Can you tear yourself away from that game long enough to eat?”

“Shouldn’t we be working on that same stupid English assignment that the girls are?”

“Later. I’m starving.”

“You’re always starving!” Brad laughed at his cousin.

“Whatever! You wanna go or not?”

Brad shut off the game and got up. “Sounds good to me. Let’s go.” The two boys left David alone in the house.

——————————————————

Nancy Holliday was working late at the newspaper office again. Even for a small-time newspaper, being a reporter was not a nine to five job. When she’s working under a deadline, Nancy was sometimes at the office until well after midnight. She looked out the window and saw that it was dark already. She also noticed that the moon was full. Nancy loved the full moon. She glanced down at her calendar and saw that tomorrow would be the full moon. Well, close enough for me, she thought and decided to call home and see if the boys had eaten dinner yet. No one answered so she figured they must have been eating out at Will’s again. Nancy put thoughts of home and thoughts of the moon behind her and got back to work.

———————————————————————————–

David could hear the phone ringing, but that’s not what woke him from his deep sleep. It was the intense burning pain all over his body that woke him. Though his whole body was in pain, there was also a strange sense of power coursing through him. And hunger. David was suddenly hungrier than he had ever been in his entire life. Meat. He craved meat. As another wave of pain hit him, David flicked on the light and looked down at himself. He stared in shock and disbelief as he watched his body change in size, shape, and appearance. Hair began sprouting out all over his body. His fingers lengthened and turned into claws. The pain in his face became even more intense. David tried to get to the mirror to see what was happening to him, but before he could, his conscious mind blacked out, and the beast took control. David’s conscious mind was gone. The creature let loose a blood-curdling howl, crashed through the window, and ran off into the night. A werewolf was loose in Roxbury Falls.

———————————————————————————-

As Kim left the library, the only thoughts running through her head were of jumping into bed and calling Juan as soon as she got home. Kim hadn’t even been home since she left for school that morning. She didn’t mind, though. Her parents were always fighting, and Kim didn’t like being at home. Terrie left the library at nine-thirty and tried to get Kim to go, too. Kim wanted to finish up, so she had stayed until the library closed at ten. Now she wished she had listened to Terrie. Kim hated to walk through the park alone at night, but tonight she did not want to take the extra time to go all the way around. At least it was a clear night, and, with the moon so close to being full, the park was well lit. There were no streetlights in the very middle of the park, but with the help of the moon, Kim should be able to see just fine. The park was eerily quiet and deserted tonight, so Kim hurried on her way. Then off to her left, a sound caught her attention.

“Hello? Is someone there?” Kim was in the most densely wooded section right in the middle of the park. She looked off to her left and saw something moving.

“H-hello? Wh-who’s there?” Kim was getting nervous now and started to walk faster. She heard a growling noise from behind her, and she looked back in the direction that she had seen something moving. She saw two bright blue, glowing eyes. The eyes were much too high off the ground to belong to any animal except maybe a bear, but Kim didn’t think that a bear could have made its way to the park without someone seeing it. Besides, bears did not have blue eyes that she knew of. Then, as the creature stepped out of the trees and onto the moonlit path, Kim saw a sight that she could hardly even believe was real. What Kim saw looked like a giant wolf except this wolf was standing on its hind legs like a man. Even more unbelievable was that the wolf appeared to be wearing remnants of human clothing. The clothing was torn and ripped at the seams as if it was about three sizes too small for what was wearing it. Kim started to scream as the wolf snarled and lunged at her. Before she could even back away, the beast was on top of her. It ripped out her throat with one swipe of its huge, hairy claw.

After feasting on the young girl’s body, the werewolf howled and disappeared back into the night.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 4)

Chapter 4

When Brad came downstairs for breakfast, Matt was already at the table. “How long have you been up? I thought I would be the first one down here. It’s only six-thirty.”

“I never got back to sleep last night. I just tossed and turned, then finally gave up and came down here at around six.” Matt looked down at his cereal to avoid his cousin’s eyes.

“What happened last night, Matt?” Brad walked over and put his hand on Matt’s shoulder. “Whatever is bothering you, you can talk to me. You’ve only been here a few days, but I feel like you’re my brother instead of my cousin. Let me help you.”

“It was just a nightmare, Brad. I promise I’ll tell you about it later. Can we change the subject for now, please?”

“Okay. It seemed bad. Talking about it might help. When you decide you want to talk, tell me, and I’ll listen.”

“Let’s drop it for now. We have to finish getting ready for school.”

David entered the kitchen like a whirlwind. “The shower’s free guys.” He said as he grabbed a box of cereal from the cupboard and the milk out of the fridge. “I gotta leave in ten minutes. I really need to get a car now that I have a job.”

Brad went upstairs to shower and get ready for school, and Matt started clearing the dishes off the table. “Can I go with you when you pick out a car?”

“Definitely. Once we get a little money saved up, we’ll have to get you one, too.”

“That would be awesome!”

David poured his cereal and looked at his brother. “Did you get back to sleep?”

Matt shrugged. “Not really, but I’m fine.”

“We’ll talk tonight if you want. I don’t want to be late for work on my first day.”

“I’m fine, David. Go to work. I gotta get ready for school anyway.”

Matt finished rinsing the dishes and put them in the dishwasher then ran up the stairs to his bedroom. David left the house and walked the six blocks to Sonny’s Coffee Warehouse and Distributor to start his first day of work.

By the time the two boys came back downstairs, Nancy was in the kitchen filling her travel mug with coffee. “You guys want a ride to school? I’m about to leave for the office.”

“No, thanks, mom. We’ll walk. We meet up with Terrie and Kevin on the way.”

“Ok. I’m out of here then. See you tonight.”

“Bye, mom.”

“See you later, Aunt Nancy.”

Matt and Brad were walking along the edge of the park toward the Hanson’s house when Brad nudged his cousin’s shoulder. “I won’t ask about the nightmare again, but before we get to Terrie’s house, you need to tell me what happened after I left.”

Matt blushed. “She kissed me!”

“Oh, my God! That’s awesome, Matt! I knew you two would hit it off! Way to go!”

“Thanks. There she is. Don’t say anything.”

“Of course not.”

Terrie closed the front gate to her yard and joined the boys. “Hey, guys.” She reached over and took Matt’s hand as they walked. A few minutes later, Kevin joined their group.

“Are we doing anything after school today, Brad?” Kevin asked.

 “Baseball tryouts are today, but if you stick around, maybe we can do something after that.” He looked at Matt and Terrie. “What about you two?”

Matt looked at Terrie. “You wanna hang out after practice? Or I could meet you later if you wanna do something with just us?”

Terrie patted his arm. “We can hang out with the group tonight. We will have plenty of chances to hang out alone.”

“Ok cool.” He looked back at Brad. “Sure. What do you want to do?”

“I was thinking maybe the arcade. Invite David, too.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“I’ll hang out and wait for you guys then. I’ll just do my homework while you guys practice.” Kevin said.

They arrived at school, and Terrie leaned in and kissed Matt on the cheek. “See you at lunch.”

Matt blushed and waved. “Ok. See Ya!”

————————————————————————————

Matt wrinkled his nose at all the smells in the chemistry lab. He put the odors out of his mind and focused on what the teacher, Mr. Clark, was saying. “I’m going to pair you up. We’re going to be doing some experiments today. Both partners need to do the work and take notes on the results. Just because you have a partner doesn’t mean you can be lazy. Montana, you’re going to be with Carrier. He’s the only one left without a partner.”

Matt’s mouth dropped open. “But, sir,”

Mr. Clark cut him off. “No arguments, Mr. Montana. I don’t care if you two are best buds or mortal enemies, you’re still required to work together in my classroom.”

“Yes, sir,” Matt said and picked up his books and moved over next to Elias.

Elias looked up as Matt sat at the desk. “We meet again, Matthew.”

“If we’re going to be working together, you may as well call me Matt.”

“I didn’t plan this, but fate was bound to bring us together again.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “I think it was more Mr. Clark than fate.”

“Whatever explanation helps you sleep at night.”

“Speaking of sleep, how did you know that I was having nightmares? How did you even know that I have a brother?”

“I’m sure Brad must have told you all about me. Why pretend that you don’t know anything?”

“I don’t believe that you’re a witch, Elias. I know something isn’t quite right, and my dreams are intense, but I just don’t know about the supernatural.”

“You will come to believe. I hope it isn’t too late by the time you do. I honestly want to help you, Matt. You and your brother. You have to believe me before I can help you, though.”

Mr. Clark stopped at their table. “The only help that the two of you need to give each other right now is help with the chemistry assignment. Get to work before I give you both detentions.” Both boys scowled but cut off their private conversation and got to work on their assignment. When the bell rang to end class, Elias left before Matt had a chance to renew their discussion.

————————————————————-

Matt set his tray on the lunch table, slipped into the seat next to Terrie, and looked right at Brad. “So, you’ll never guess what happened to me in chemistry class this morning.”

“What happened?” Brad asked.

“Mr. Clark partnered me up with Elias.”

“Oh, my God. No way! How’d it go?”

“Eh, he said a couple of weird things again like at the diner, but then Mr. Clark threatened to give us detention if we didn’t stop talking and do the assignment. I was going to talk to him again after class, but he ran out as soon as the bell rang.”

“You’re probably better off. Just ignore his weirdness and avoid him altogether. That’s my advice.”

“I agree with Brad, Matt. Just let it go.” Terrie added.

“Ok. I guess, but it’s bizarre how he knows stuff that he really shouldn’t.”

“He probably just eavesdrops on our conversations. Who knows?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Matt wasn’t convinced. He glanced around the cafeteria, looking for Elias but he didn’t see him anywhere. The bell rang and they all went back to class.

————————————————————————-

After baseball practice ended, Matt ran over to the bleachers where Terrie and Kevin sat waiting. Brad walked by, waved, and said he was heading in for a shower. Matt sat down on the bleachers right next to Terrie. “You still want to go to the arcade?”

“Yeah, for sure. Kim is going to meet us there, and she said to make sure David comes because she is bringing Skylar.”

Matt rolled his eyes and took out his phone. After a few text messages back and forth with his brother, he slid the phone back into his pocket. “He said no at first but changed his mind to yes when I told him about Kim and Skylar.” He didn’t tell Terrie but getting David to have some fun and meet a new guy weren’t his only motives for inviting his brother along. Matt was still worried, and he wanted to keep a close eye on his brother. Matt had a feeling that something terrible was going to happen and it was going to happen soon.

Kevin spoke up. “Devon, Justin, and Juan will all be there, too. I’m gonna drop these books off at home and meet you guys there.”

“Ok. See ya at the arcade, Kev,” Matt said.

“I’m gonna shower and change. You gonna wait here?” Matt asked Kim.

“Yeah. I’ll wait, but we need to stop at my house on the way to the arcade.”

“Ok. I’ll be right back.” Matt took off at a run into the locker room.

David was the last to arrive at the arcade. He spotted his brother in the middle of a group of six or seven other teenagers, and he smiled. David was happy that Matt was making friends so quickly here in Roxbury Falls. As he got closer to the group, the girl from the diner, Kim, waved him over. He closed the remaining distance. “Hey, Kim.”

Kim’s smile nearly split her face in two. “David, remember at the diner that I said finding you a date was my number one priority?”

“Yes. And I told you that it wasn’t necessary. I’ve only just moved here. I’m sure that I’ll meet people.”

“Well, you’re meeting someone right now.” She smirked and grabbed the arm of the guy standing next to her. “David Montana meet Skylar Taylor. Sky, this is the hottie I told you about.”

“Oh please. I’m really not that,” David started to say more but was cut off by Skylar.

Sky stepped towards David. “Don’t even try and finish that sentence if you were going to say you’re not hot.” Skylar looked David up and down. “You could be a freaking model. Now, let’s hit the snack bar and talk about what kinds of arcade games California surfer boys like to play.”

David’s mouth was still hanging open with the unspoken words that he had tried to say. He closed his mouth and started again. “What I was going to say was that I’m not hot compared to you,” David smirked. “Which way to the snack bar, cutie?”

After an hour or so of Pac-man and pinball machines, Matt looked around the arcade. He nudged Terrie and pointed towards his brother and Skylar playing air hockey. “Looks like those two are getting along.”

“Yeah. They look cute together. It was so sweet of Kim to introduce them.”

“David deserves to be happy. I hope it works out. Hey, where did everyone else go?”

“It’s almost dinner time. Most of them went home. You were so engrossed in your game that we didn’t want to disturb you.” She laughed.

Juan Hernandez and Kim Martinez strolled over, hand in hand. “Most everyone else is already gone. We’re heading out too. Juan finally asked me out. We’re going to a movie. I’ll see you guys at school tomorrow.”

Terrie beamed with happiness. “Finally! Everyone knew you two should be a couple! Congrats to you both!”

As Kim and Juan left, David and Skylar walked up. Matt heard them exchanging phone numbers as they got close, then Skylar left the arcade.

“I’m heading home. It looks like everyone else has too. What about you two?” David asked.

Matt turned to Terrie. “Do you wanna come over our house for dinner? I’m sure Aunt Nancy won’t mind.”

“I gotta call and check with my dad, but it sounds great to me,” Terrie said as she took her phone out of her pocket.

After a moment Terrie handed Matt the cell phone. “Matt, he wants to talk to you.”

Matt looked nervous. “Me? Why does he want to talk to me?” Matt took the phone, and she just shrugged her shoulders and grinned at him. “Sheriff Hanson, this is Matt Montana,” he said into the phone.

The voice on the other end said, “Hello, Matt. I’ve heard a lot about you. Why don’t you come over here for dinner tonight, so I can meet the young man who my daughter can’t seem to stop talking about.”

“I’d love to. Just let me call and tell my aunt where I’ll be, and then we will be on our way.”

“Sounds good. See you later, Matt.” Sheriff Hanson said and then hung up the phone.

Matt ended the call and looked at David. “I guess I’m going to Terrie’s instead of her coming to our house.”

“Have fun, little brother.” David said and then turned and left the arcade.

 Terrie could tell that Matt was nervous, so she put her arm around his waist, pulled him over to her, reached up, and kissed his cheek. “Don’t be nervous about meeting my dad. He likes you already. I’ve told him how great you are.”

Matt looked down at her, smiled, and kissed her forehead. “I’m just a little nervous. Let me call Aunt Nancy to tell her where I’m going.” Matt picked up his phone and called home.

———————————————————————————————-

After telling his brother that he was leaving, David hurried out of the arcade and looked to see if Skylar was still around. He’d had a lot of fun and now he regretted ending the night so soon. From behind him, David heard a voice.

“Looking for someone?” David spun around and there was Sky, leaning against the wall next to the arcade entrance.

“Yeah. I actually am. Have you seen a tall, dark-haired gorgeous guy come by this way? I was an idiot and told him good night after only hanging out for an hour. I was trying to catch up to him and see if he wanted to go out to dinner.” David smirked.

Sky’s smile nearly split his face in two as he sauntered up to David and looked into his eyes. “I was hoping that you’d change your mind about ending the night. That’s why I waited. I would love to go out to dinner with you.”

David reached out and took Sky’s hand and they walked across the street and into the park in the direction of Will’s Diner.

———————————————————————————————-

“Can I help you with anything in the kitchen, Mr. Hanson?”

“Help Johnny with setting the table if you don’t mind. Terrie is helping me finish up in here.”

“So, Johnny, how old are you?”

“I’m 10. Almost 11.”

“Wow. You’re tall for your age. I would’ve guessed at least 12.”

Johnny blushed. “Thanks!”

“I was sent to help you set the table. Where are the plates and stuff?”

“Right here. Come on, I’ll show you.”

“These ribs are fantastic, Mr. Hanson!”

Thank you, Matt. They are my own special recipe. Do you do any cooking?”

“Just a little. More baking than anything else. My mom taught me how to make all the cookies that she made at Christmas.”

“I’m sorry about what happened to your family. Keep all those good memories, like baking with your mom, close to your heart. They are important.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“My sister said you play baseball. What team do you like in the pros?” Johnny interjected.

“The Dodgers, of course! Doesn’t everyone?”

“Gross! No! You have to change to the Red Sox!”

“No way! Do you play baseball, Johnny?”

“Yes. I might make regular Little League this year, but probably Minor League one more year.”

“That’s cool. I’ll try my best to make it to some of your games.”

“That would be awesome! I’m glad you came over, Matt.” Johnny leaned over and hugged Matt.

“Well, Matt, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you tonight, but it’s getting late, and you and Terrie have school in the morning.” Sheriff Hanson stood up from the table and handed Matt his coat from the hall closet.

Matt stood and said, “Yes, sir. Thanks for inviting me over tonight.” Matt took his coat from Sheriff Hanson and shook his hand.

“It was my pleasure. You’re a great kid. Good night, Matt.” Sheriff Hanson turned and left the room, and Terrie walked Matt to the door.

“It was nice to meet your dad and little brother. It seems like you and Johnny are really close.”

“We are. Johnny is a cool kid. Very mature for a ten-year-old, but he gets on my nerves when he tries to follow me wherever I go. You were very sweet to him. Thank you for that.”

Matt smiled. “I used to follow David all around everywhere. Sometimes I still do. And it was easy being nice to Johnny. Like you said, he’s a cool kid.”

Terrie laughed. “You better get going before my dad comes back out here.”

Matt hugged Terrie. “Good night.”

Terrie pulled Matt in close and gave him a quick kiss. Matt grinned and ran down the steps onto the sidewalk and headed for home. Matt was thinking to himself about how things were starting to go better in his life and how happy he was becoming. He was still unaware of how dreadful things were about to become and that his worst nightmares would soon start coming true.

——————————————————————————

Sky and David walked hand in hand up the walk and to the front door of the Holliday home. Sky smiled and leaned his forehead down until it was touching David’s. “If anyone had asked me a week ago if I would have gone out on a blind date, I would have said hell no! But you know what? I had fun tonight. Like a lot of fun. You’re a really sweet guy, David.”

David looked up into Sky’s hazel eyes. “I feel exactly the same way. Talking with you even made me forget about all my stress for a couple hours. I know we just met today, but I feel like we’ve been friends forever already.”

Sky grinned. “Friends? Well, sure, of course, but I was thinking that we could be just a little bit more than that.” Sky leaned down and lightly pressed his lips to David’s.

“Oh, hell yes.” David nearly growled as he cupped his hand on the back of Sky’s neck and pulled him in for a deeper kiss. Just as David felt Skylar’s hands slide down his back and grasp his hips, he heard someone loudly clear their throat and start to laugh. The two boys nearly jumped out of their skins and spun around to see Matt standing at the bottom of the steps staring up at them and grinning.

“I trust you had a pleasant evening, big brother. Nice to see you again so soon, Sky.” Matt said in between giggles.

“And I see that you survived meeting Sherriff Hanson. Did he keep his gun on the table during dinner, so you’d keep your paws off his baby girl?” David laughed.

Matt rolled his eyes. “No. He loved me. Everybody loves me. You know that.”

“You two are just as bad as me and Devon.” Sky chuckled. “I’m gonna head home. Good night, David. Good night, Matt.” He leaned in and gave David one last light peck on the lips before he ran down the steps and past Matt on his way home.

When Matt and David walked into the house, still heckling each other, Brad was watching basketball, and Aunt Nancy was in her home office typing away at her computer. The brothers said hello to their aunt and then went into the living room to see what Brad was up to. Brad was just turning off the TV when they walked into the room.

“How’d your night go, Matt?” Brad asked with a grin. He knew how nervous his cousin had been about meeting Terrie’s dad.

“It went fine. Terrie’s dad is a nice guy, and her little brother is pretty cool, too.”

“I told you that you didn’t have anything to worry about, Matt. I’ve known Terrie and her family my whole life, and they’re great people.” Brad said as he got up to leave the room. “What about you, David? I thought you were on your way home hours ago?”

“I decided to spend a little more time with Sky. We had dinner at Will’s and chatted for a while.”

“That’s so cool! Devon is one of my best friends. I’m glad you and Sky hit it off! Wow, now I feel left out. You both just moved here and got paired up already, and here I am living the single life!”

Aunt Nancy poked her head into the room and asked, “Could one of you boys please empty the trash before you all go to bed?”

David stood up. “I’ll do it, Aunt Nancy.”

“Thanks, David. Good night everyone.” Aunt Nancy turned and went down the hall towards her bedroom, and David went into the kitchen to get the trash.

Matt was about halfway up the stairs when he heard his brother scream from the backyard. He almost fell back down the stairs in his rush to get to David. As he burst through the back door, he saw David lying on the grass, not moving. He also saw something running across the lawn towards the trees. Brad or Aunt Nancy must have now reached the kitchen because the outside floodlights suddenly came on. The light surprised the animal, and it turned for an instant before it had reached the safety of the trees. Matt stopped in his tracks. He saw the animal clearly in the bright light before it turned and disappeared into the forest. It was a wolf. Matt couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought he must be back in his dream. Only this time, it was real. Matt finally got moving again after the wolf was gone. As Matt reached his brother’s side, David was just sitting up.

“David, are you alright? What happened?” Matt was scared. He was still shaking from seeing the wolf. What was a wolf doing in the middle of town? Did it have anything to do with his nightmares? What was going on?

“Oh, man. That damn dog bit my arm.” David’s arm was bleeding. “I didn’t even see it until it was right on top of me. That was a big dog. I wonder why it came after me like that.”

“That wasn’t a dog, David. I saw it when the lights came on. It was a wolf.”

David looked at his brother. “Oh, don’t start, Matt. Why would a wolf be in the middle of town like this? This isn’t your dream. This is real life. It wouldn’t make sense for a wolf to wander into the middle of town.”

“I’m serious, David. I’m not lying to you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it was a wolf.”

Brad and Aunt Nancy had joined the brothers. Aunt Nancy spoke. “Whatever it was, we’ll make sense out of it later. Right now, I’m taking you to the hospital, David. You need to get that arm looked at. You might need stitches and probably a rabies shot. Whether it was a dog or a wolf, for it to attack for no reason, it may have been sick.”

“Great. That’s all I need.” David sighed and followed Aunt Nancy to her car.

“I’m coming with you,” Matt said. “Brad, you may as well stay here. At least one of us should get some sleep tonight.”

“See you guys in the morning.” Brad went into the house, and the others headed to the hospital to take care of David’s arm.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

The buzzing alarm clock woke Matt. He groaned, Monday morning already. He barely remembered falling asleep last night. Matt hated the idea of starting a new school more than halfway through his junior year, but having Brad there might make it bearable. He’d rather blend into the background of a big city school like the one in Los Angeles, but that wouldn’t be possible here. From what Brad told him, his old school had more kids in one grade than Roxbury High’s entire school population.

Matt figured he could make friends easily, especially with Brad to show him around. He wanted to make a fresh start. Matt still didn’t think that they should have come, but he liked Brad and Aunt Nancy a lot. The nightmares and thoughts of Grampa’s old stories still weighed heavily on him, but he had to admit that they couldn’t possibly be real. Brad’s ex having a connection to the stories was weird, though. Matt was still daydreaming his way through getting ready for school when his cousin interrupted his thoughts.

 “Matt! You ready? Let’s get going!” Brad yelled.

“Yeah, Brad, I’m coming.” Matt stopped daydreaming and finished tying his sneakers. He grabbed his jacket and backpack then ran down the stairs. “Stop rushing me. Don’t we have like an hour before school starts?”

“You guys going to grab anything for breakfast before you go?” Aunt Nancy asked from the kitchen.

“We’ll get something on the way, Mom!” Brad yelled as he pulled Matt out the door.

“Matt, don’t forget to stop in the office as soon as you get there. You have to sign a few things, and they’ll have your class schedule.” Aunt Nancy yelled as the two boys ran out the door.

“Hey, what’s the hurry? I’m hungry, doofus!” Matt asked, annoyed.

“You don’t want to stand around here all morning, do you? We’ll eat. We have things to do right now. Let’s get moving, slowpoke.” Brad grinned and led Matt down the street towards the park. Matt zipped up his jacket and followed his cousin.

“What are you up to, Brad? School is in the other direction. You just showed me that yesterday. I usually don’t mind cutting a few classes, but not on my first day. If they looked at my records, they’ll already think I’m a slacker. I need to make a fresh start.” Brad’s actions confused Matt, but he continued to follow him into the park. He trusted Brad. In the short time he’d been there, they’d already formed a close bond. 

“You’ll see when we get there, Matt, my boy. And you will thank me. Yes, you’ll definitely thank me.” Brad grinned again and clapped his cousin on the back.

Matt looked up at his cousin suspiciously. He knew Brad was up to something, but he just hadn’t figured out what yet. They stopped in front of a large three-story gray house; before Matt could stop him, Brad jumped over the white picket fence and sprinted across the lawn and up the front steps of the house. Brad knocked on the door and disappeared into the house.

Brad emerged from the house, followed by the most beautiful girl that Matt had ever seen. They walked down the steps and the stone pathway toward Matt. Matt almost tripped over his own feet to open the gate before she got there. The girl’s long, raven black hair and emerald green eyes nearly stopped his heart. Matt stuttered out a “Hi,” and when she smiled at him, his heart skipped a beat, or maybe two.

“Matthew Montana, this is Miss Theresa Hanson. Terrie, this is my cousin Matt.” Brad smiled. He could see that Terrie already had Matt under her spell, and that was just what Brad hoped for. Brad knew that Matt needed something to get his mind off his troubles, and, in Matt’s case, that meant the charms of a beautiful girl.

Brad put one arm around Matt and the other around Terrie. “Come on, you two. Let’s walk and talk at the same time. We need to start heading towards school and get some breakfast before the first bell.”

“So, Matt, I hear you’re joining us from sunny California. This lovely Maine weather must be quite a change.”

“Yeah. I don’t mind so much, but don’t remind my surfer boy brother. He was quite the beach bum.”

Terrie eyed Matt up and down. “I could picture you on the beach. Maybe dye your hair blonde to complete the picture.”

Matt gave her a fake shocked expression. “You hate my hair! I’m insulted.”

Terrie smiled. “Actually, I think black hair suits those beautiful baby blues better than blonde would.”

Matt blushed. “Thanks, but green eyes look even better with black hair.”

“Get a room, why don’t you.” Brad acted like he was about to gag.

“Maybe after the second date,” Terrie said with a smirk and she winked again.

“Does that mean you want a first date?” Matt stuttered out. “I mean, I do. Do you? Will you go out with me?”

“Yes, Matt. I’d love to go out with you.” Terrie kissed his cheek.

As they left the park and turned left onto Chestnut Street, Matt heard someone yelling from behind them. He turned and saw a dark-haired, heavyset boy running towards them. “Hey, guys! Wait up! Brad!” Brad stopped to wait for the other boy, and he let Matt and Terrie continue walking.

 “Matt, I was so sorry to hear about your parents and sister. I can’t imagine what I’d do if anything happened to my Dad or my little brother. God forbid if something were to happen to them both.” She held onto his arm as they turned the corner into the school parking lot.

“Thank you, Terrie. I still struggle sometimes, but I’m dealing with it. Some days are easier than others.”

“We don’t have to talk about it at all, but just know I’d be willing to listen if you ever wanted to.”

“That means a lot.” Matt cleared his throat. “I really don’t know what kinds of things there are to do in this town. Do you guys have a movie theater? I’m open to any ideas you may have for the date.”

“Give me your phone.” Terrie input her contact info into his phone then texted herself, so she’d have his number. “I’ll think it over and text ideas to you.”

Brad and the other boy caught up to them. “Matt, this is my bestie, Kevin Williamson. Kev, this is my cousin Matt.”

“Hey, Kevin. Great to meet you.” Matt reached out and shook Kevin’s hand.

“Same, bro. Can’t wait to get to know you.”

They arrived at the school and hurried inside. Terrie walked Matt to the front office, and Brad and Kevin went off in search of food.

“Come on. I’ll come in with you.” Terrie grabbed Matt’s arm and guided him into the office. “Good morning, Mrs. Davis.”

“Good morning, Terrie. What brings you in here so early?”

Terrie stepped aside and let Matt step up to the counter. “This is Matt Montana. Today’s his first day at our glorious school.”

“Hi,” Matt said with a shy smile.

“Ah, yes. Mr. Montana, we’ve been expecting you. It looks like you’ve already found yourself a tour guide, but let’s get your paperwork sorted.”

Terrie touched Matt’s arm. “I gotta get to class. You’re in good hands. If I don’t see you in any of my classes, I’ll look for you at lunch.”

“Ok. See you later.”

“Here you go, young man. Sign these two, and this one is for you.”

Matt signed the forms and picked up his class schedule. “Which way to the chemistry lab?”

“Take a right out of the office, then your second right, and it’ll be the third door on your left.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Davis.” Matt left the office and hurried down the hall.

———————————————

David walked out of the warehouse feeling hopeful, a feeling unfamiliar to him over the last four months. He didn’t want to wait until tonight to share his news, so he took his phone out of his pocket and called his aunt. Nancy answered on the third ring.

“Roxbury Falls Gazette, this is Nancy.”

“Aunt Nancy, it’s David. Are you busy?”

“Sorry, David. I didn’t even look at the Caller ID. I was expecting a call about a story I’m working on.”

“I won’t bother you if you’re busy.”

“No. It’s fine. Is everything okay?”

“Actually, it’s good news. Are you free for lunch?”

Nancy checked her calendar. “How about twelve-thirty? I’ll be ready for a break from this by then anyway.”

“Twelve-thirty is perfect. I’m free for the rest of the day.”

“David, I have to go. My other call is coming in. See you in an hour.”

“Wait! Where do you wanna meet?” David asked before she could hang up.

“How about the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Main Street?”

“Not sure where it is, but I have an hour to walk around and find it. That’s what I was planning on doing anyway. See you there.”

“See you in an hour.” Nancy hung up. David slipped his phone back into his pocket and started walking around the small downtown area of Roxbury Falls.

——————————————-

Matt walked into the cafeteria and looked around for Terrie or Brad. He spotted them and that other kid, Kevin, on the other side of the room. He grabbed some food and went over to sit with them.

“Hey, guys. I guess I’ve survived halfway through my first day.” He smiled and sat in between Brad and Terrie.

A few others joined them at the table. Matt recognized a couple faces from classes earlier and nodded hello. Brad introduced everyone in between shoveling forkfuls of mac’n’cheese into his mouth. Just before lunch ended, Matt noticed a boy sitting off by himself. A boy that kept staring at him. “Brad, who is that over there.” He motioned towards the lone boy.

Brad rolled his eyes. “That’s Elias. Just stay away from him.”

Matt looked over at Eli one last time, then the bell rang, and they all went to their next classes.

————————————————–

David was sitting on a bench outside of the KFC by the time his aunt arrived. He stood and waved to her when he saw her get out of her silver Ford Explorer. “Aunt Nancy, over here!”

They got their food and sat at a table near the front windows. “I’m glad you called. I desperately needed a break from the office. You wouldn’t believe how much work I put in there. Sometimes, I don’t know how big city editors deal with it all.”

“I get most of my news off Twitter. I’ll have to pick up a copy of your paper. Do they sell it at the gas station by our house?”

“Yeah, and the grocery store and a few newspaper vending boxes around town.”

“I promise I’ll read it.” He said in between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes. “Anyway, I wanted to share my good news with someone, and I didn’t want to wait. I got the job at Sonny’s! He hired me right on the spot after I told him that you were my aunt.”

“I’m sure he would have hired you regardless, but I’ll thank him when I see him. What will you be doing there?”

“I’ll be working in the warehouse, mostly, loading and unloading boxes of coffee. He did say that, sometimes, he might need me to make some deliveries to local businesses. I told him that I’m not familiar with the town yet, so he said he’d have me ride with someone a couple times first. He also laughed and said the town was so small I could probably find everything in an hour anyway.”

“He’s right,” Nancy said with a laugh. “Sonny will take good care of you. He’s a great guy and very easy to work for, I’ve been told.”

“Decent pay, too, and medical and dental benefits for Matt and me in just sixty days. I just pray nothing happens before that.”

“We’ll figure it out if it does. Don’t stress about it.”

“Thanks, Aunt Nancy, I don’t know how we’ll ever repay everything you’re doing for us.”

“No need. That’s what family does. My sister would have done the same thing for Brad if our situations were reversed.”

“I know she would have. Mom was the greatest. You’re a lot like her.” David wiped away the tears forming at the corners of his bright blue eyes.

“That means a lot. Thank you.” Nancy said, wiping her own eyes. “When did Sonny tell you to start?”

“Tomorrow morning, at seven a.m. I’ll be working seven to four at least five days a week, and he said I could work as many Saturdays as I want.”

“Speaking of work, I have to get back to the office. Want me to drop you off at home?”

“No, thanks. I want to do a little more exploring in town and then I’ll walk home.”

“Okay, see you at home tonight.”

“Bye, Aunt Nancy.”

—————————————–

After school, Terrie and Kevin waited outside while Brad took Matt into the gym to introduce him to the baseball coach. As the two boys left the gym, Brad grinned at his cousin. “He seemed to like you. I can’t wait for the season to start, at least tryouts are tomorrow. I think we should have a decent team this year. What position do you play?”

“Third base and left field. I’ve played a little at first, but I prefer third.”

“That’s good because our best player is our first baseman, Justin. You met him earlier.”

Matt frowned. “Blonde guy? Buzzcut?”

“Yeah. That’s him. Cool dude. An excellent first baseman and our best homer threat.”

“I can’t wait. Hey, where’s the movie theater? I have a date to plan.”

 “I’ll show you on the way home. It’s not far. You’re a lucky man, Matt, I hope you realize that. Terrie is something special.”

“Yeah, she is, isn’t she?” Matt grinned from ear to ear as the two boys rejoined Terrie and Kevin, and they all headed toward home.

Just before they reached Terrie’s house, she said, “I’ll go with you guys to your house and wait for you. I thought, for tonight, we might go out as a group. We can all go to the park for ice cream. I’ll call a few more people while I wait for you guys to get ready.”

 “That sounds great. I’m in.” Matt said and turned toward Brad.

 “I’ll text mom and make sure she doesn’t have anything planned, but it sounds great to me.”

When they reached the Holliday residence, Brad and Matt went upstairs to shower and change their clothes. Terrie got out her phone and texted a few friends to see who wanted to meet in the park. 

When the boys came back downstairs, Terrie smiled at them. “You guys take longer than a couple of old ladies to get yourselves dressed.”

Brad rolled his eyes, and Matt just smiled shyly and kept quiet. “Mom answered back that it’s fine. Let’s go. Where are we supposed to meet everyone?”

“The basketball courts,” Terrie said. “Kevin, Juan, Devon, and Justin will be there. I thought that we could eat at the diner. Kim’s working tonight, and I need to talk to her.”

“Sounds good to me. Matt?”

“I could eat,” Matt said with a grin and they left the house.

“The diner is awesome. Brad and I went there yesterday. Kim seems nice.”

“She’s been my bestie since kindergarten. If you hang out with me, you’ll get to know her.”

Matt took Terrie’s hand, and they followed Brad into the park. A few minutes later, they reached the basketball courts and met up with everyone else. Matt knew he met them all, but he could not put names to all the faces. He leaned over to Terrie and whispered, “I know Kevin, but I can’t remember the names of the other three.”

She whispered back, “The Latino guy is Juan Hernandez, he’s the captain of the soccer team. Juan is in my computer science class, and he usually ends up teaching the teacher a few things. He’s smart and one of the best high school soccer players in the country. The blonde in the red hoodie is Devon Taylor. Devon hates sports, but he works with your cousin on the school newspaper. The last guy is Justin Thomas. He sat with us at lunch. He’s on the school baseball team, first base, I think.”

“Yeah. Brad mentioned that. Thanks. I knew I met everyone, so I just didn’t want to sound like an idiot asking them their names again.”

“You just met them today. No big deal.” She patted his arm.

 They joined the other four and walked to the diner. When they arrived at the diner, the guys found a vacant corner booth, ordered their food, and began the usual talk about sports, movies, and girls. Terrie went to the front counter to talk to Kim.

Kim looked up from the counter and saw Terrie walking towards her and smiled. She didn’t have much time to socialize these days, and Terrie was about the only friend she had left. Terrie’s friends put up with Kim, but she wasn’t sure if they really liked her. Except maybe for Juan. Juan was always sweet to her. As Kim thought about how cute she thought Juan was, she looked over into the corner where Terrie’s friends were sitting and saw him. Juan looked right at her and their eyes locked for a few seconds. They smiled at each other, then looked away. Just then, Terrie reached the counter and spoke.

“Hi, Kim. How’s it going? You still planning on meeting me at the library Wednesday night?”

 “Yes. Unfortunately, that history term paper won’t write itself. It’s due sooner than I’d like to think about. I’ll be there around seven. I have to put in a couple hours here first. I need all the hours I can get with dad still out of work.”

 “That sucks you have to work so much. When does your dad go back to work?”

“Another month. Mom is already working a lot of double shifts. I just want to help as much as I can. Anyway, Debbie took your friends’ orders, you want your usual? I’ll put your order in with theirs.”

“Yeah. That would be great. Stop by the table if you’re not busy.”

“Definitely. Just let me put in your order.”

Terrie walked back to the table and rejoined her other friends.

Kim walked over to the table a few minutes later. “Hey, Matt. Nice to see that you must be settling in nicely.”

“Thanks, Kim. Brad’s friends all seem nice.” Matt motioned toward everyone at the table.

“They’re ok,” Kim smirked. “That reminds me. Devon, I have to ask you something.”

“What’s up, Kim?”

“Is Skylar still single?”

“You do remember that he’s gay, right?” Devon said with a chuckle, and Juan leaned forward, listening intently.

“Yes, of course.” She said with a sigh. “I’m not asking for me. There’s a hot new guy in town that I think would be perfect for him. Tell him to call me if he’s interested.”

“Sure. Who’s the guy? Matt’s the only new guy I know of, and he’s straight.” Devon said, glancing at Matt. “Aren’t you?”

Matt’s eyes had grown large, and he was staring at Kim but turned toward Devon when he spoke. “Yeah. Totally straight.” He looked back at Kim again, waiting for her to answer Devon’s question.

Kim smiled then said, “David Montana, Matt’s brother.”

Devon looked at Matt just in time to see Matt strike his own forehead in a facepalm. “You have a brother?” Devon asked.

Matt shook his head and looked up. “Yeah. An older brother, he’s nineteen.” Then to Kim, he said, “Does he know you’re setting him up with a blind date?”

“Yes. Well, he suggested that I didn’t have to, but I told him that I was going to do it anyway.”

“And he agreed?”

“He didn’t say I couldn’t.” Kim shrugged.

Matt shook his head again. “Ok, whatever. Not my concern.” Matt’s gaze followed Kim as she left the table. He was about to turn back to his friends when he noticed Elias sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant, once again staring right at him. “Guys, I’ll be right back. There’s something I gotta do.” Matt said and walked over to Eli’s table and sat right across from him.

“Why do you keep staring at me, Elias? I know who you are. Brad told me all about you.”

“You’re not the oldest male in your family, are you, Matthew Montana?”

“What? No. I have an older brother. Why?”

“I would be very interested in meeting your brother.”

“Whatever you need to say to him, you can say to me first, freak.”

“Name-calling no longer bothers me, Matthew.” Eli’s eyes widened. “You’re having nightmares, aren’t you?”

Matt’s mouth fell open. “How do you know that?”

“The curse hovers around you, but it can’t touch you. You feel its power. I know you do.”

“You’re a freak. They’re just bad dreams. Curses aren’t real. Stay away from me and stay away from my brother.”

“You’ll be the one to come find me. Soon. Very soon. I’m not your enemy, Matthew. It’s time for this to end. When the time is right, come find me.”

Matt got up and nearly ran back to his table. “Terrie, Brad, can we go. I gotta get out of here.”

Brad looked over at Elias. “What did he say to you? Is everything alright?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. He didn’t say anything important. Let’s just go.”

Matt, Terrie, and Brad said their goodbyes to the rest of the group and left the diner.

—————————————

David smiled and lay back on the couch. He turned on the tv and started scrolling through his Netflix queue. He finally had the house to himself. Matt and Brad left with their friends, and Aunt Nancy was still working at her office. He had a good day. He got a job and a great lunch with Aunt Nancy and he had fun walking around town looking at all the shops. He was even looking forward to starting work tomorrow. Those fifty-pound bags would probably get heavy after a while, but David felt like he was ready for it.

He was glad for the empty, quiet house and for the rest and relaxation. Tomorrow he would have to get up even before Matt left for school. He finally decided on a movie, The Vampire’s Assistant. The movie looked good, and Josh Hutcherson was in it, which is always a plus. David relaxed and watched the movie.

——————————–

Brad, Matt, and Terrie cut back through the park towards Terrie’s house.

“I’ll head home. You kids behave.” Brad gave them a wink.

“Shut up, Bradley,” Terrie said then laughed.

“See you at home,” Matt said to Brad, then turned toward Terrie. “Do you have a curfew, Terrie?”

“Ten on a school night. We better head towards my house now.” Terrie replied, looking at her watch.

“It’s only 9:35,” Matt said, grinning.

Terrie rolled her eyes. “Don’t get in trouble with my dad before you even meet him.”

“Good plan. Your dad is the sheriff, isn’t he? I better stay on his good side.”

Matt walked Terrie up to her door, and she put both arms around his neck and pulled him down to her. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and whispered in his ear. “I had a wonderful time tonight, Matt. You’re a sweet guy.”

Matt slipped his arms around her waist and hugged her tight. “I had the best night I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait for a real date.” Matt started to pull away to leave, but before he could, Terrie pulled him in even closer and kissed him full on the lips. His eyes widened in shock, but he let her draw him into the kiss, and he kissed her back. They finally had to release each other and say good night. Terrie went into the house, and Matt nearly skipped down the drive. He couldn’t stop smiling all the way home.

———————————————-

David looked up when his brother got home. “Looks like you had a good night.”

“First school night, and you barely made curfew.” Aunt Nancy said, peering over the top of her eyeglasses.

Matt looked at his phone. “Seven minutes to spare.” He smirked. “And yes, I had a great night.”

“I bet you did.” Brad chimed in.

“We’ll talk tomorrow, little brother,” David said. “I’m going to bed and you should, too.”

“Yeah. I am kinda tired. Good night, everyone.”

“Me too. Good night, mom.” Brad said, and all three boys went upstairs to their rooms.

————————————–

Matt screamed and sat up in bed, the sweat-soaked sheets twisted all around his body. His bedroom door flew open, and David rushed in, quickly followed by Brad.

“Matt, what’s wrong? What happened?” David sat on the bed and put his arm around his brother’s shoulders.

“The nightmare again, Dave. The same damn nightmare.” Matt trembled, and he leaned against his brother for comfort. “Why do I keep having the same nightmare? It stopped, but now it’s back again. I’m scared, Dave.”

 “What nightmare? What’s so scary about a nightmare, Matt?” Brad asked from the doorway.

“Not now, okay? He’ll talk to you later. Go back to bed, Brad.”

“Sure. Ok. See you guys in the morning.” Brad left and went back to his own bedroom.

Matt leaned back and groaned. “Now he’s probably going to think I’m crazy, too.”

“Don’t worry about him. He doesn’t think you’re crazy. I don’t think you’re crazy either, but you’re just trying to read too much into a dream. You should talk to Brad. You two have grown close. Maybe if you open up to someone, the nightmares won’t seem so bad, and they’ll go away.”

  “That’s not it, Dave. It’s the curse. My head agrees with you that a curse can’t be real. But in my heart, I know something is wrong. Something bad is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon. I can feel it. I’ve already grown to love it here with Aunt Nancy, Brad, Terrie, and everyone else, but I think we should pack our things and leave right now. We’ll leave them a note, and we can call and explain after we have safely left Maine behind us. Please, David, let’s go.” Matt clutched his brother’s arm and sounded on the verge of tears. He looked pleadingly into his brother’s eyes. “I’m scared, Dave. Please, let’s leave now and never look back.”

“No, Matt. I’m sorry. I know you’re terrified of something, but we can’t base a decision like this on a nightmare or a feeling. We’re building a pretty good life here. Better than I ever thought we could. We’re both staying. Now go back to sleep. You’ll feel better about this in the morning.” David got up and started to walk across the room, then he turned and said, “Good night, little brother. See you in the morning. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Good night, David.” Matt closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but sleep would not come for the rest of the night.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2

Matt woke to the smell of bacon. He rolled over and picked his phone up off the nightstand. Barely eight o’clock. He felt like going back to sleep, but the smell of the bacon lured him into rolling out of bed. Matt grabbed some clean clothes out of his still unpacked suitcase and went into the bathroom to shower.

After a quick shower, Matt followed the delicious smells of breakfast into the kitchen. “Mm. Good morning, Aunt Nancy, that smells delicious.”

“Thank you, Matt. I thought you boys might want a nice breakfast this morning. Brad said that David went right to bed, so I imagine he’ll be good and hungry when he wakes up. Help yourself. There’s bacon, sausage, and waffles over by the stove. The syrup and juice are in the fridge.” Nancy said.

Brad wandered into the kitchen, followed by David. All three boys filled their plates with food and gathered around the kitchen table to eat. “This is awesome, Aunt Nancy. Thanks for cooking all this.” David said.

“No trouble at all. I like to cook a big breakfast on the weekends. I’ll be gone before any of you wake-up during the week.”

“David cooks pretty awesome pancakes from scratch. He uses dad’s recipe. You’ll have to taste them.” Matt chimed in.

David blushed and looked down. “They’re not as good as he made them, but I do my best.”

“Oh, shut up. Your pancakes are awesome.” Matt mock-punched his brother’s shoulder.

David smiled. “Thanks, bro.”

“Mom, look at these two. Can I have a little brother? I’m jealous now.” Brad chuckled.

“No way in hell. You’ll have to settle for cousins.” Nancy laughed.

“You probably should have asked that question ten years ago,” Matt said.

“Not even then. One Bradley is more than enough for me.” Nancy said, pointing at her son.

“Thanks, mom. At least I know I’m loved.” Brad rolled his eyes.

“What do you boys have planned for the day?”

“I’m going to show Matt around town.” Brad looked over at David, “You can come too, David.”

“Maybe another time. I want to get started searching the classifieds and help wanted ads.” He patted the laptop next to him on the table.

“I emailed you a few things for your job search last night, David,” Nancy said.

“Thanks. I’ll check those out as well then.”

“You boys have fun in town. I have to run a few errands. Would you like me to drop you off somewhere, Brad?”

“No. I’m going to start the tour in the park. Can you pick me up a couple more notebooks while you’re out?”

“OK. Do you other boys have any special requests while I’m out?” She asked her nephews while she gathered up the breakfast dishes and walked over to the sink.

“Nothing I can think of,” David said.

“Mountain Dew if you don’t already have any, please.” Matt chimed in.

David opened his laptop to check his email and do some online job-searching and Nancy left the house to run her errands.

Brad and Matt slipped on their shoes and ran out the door. “Come on. We’ll start the tour over there.” Brad pointed across the street. “This is Lakeside Park. It’s a big park. It has jogging paths, bike paths, a large section of forest with hiking trails, and even a lake in the middle of the park. It sits right in the middle of town, so anywhere we want to go, we can take a shortcut through the park.” Brad said.

“Wow. It’s huge. I would totally get lost in there and never find my way out. I’m used to city streets and beaches.” Matt laughed.

“Let’s take this trail down to the lake, then we’ll cut across to the school,” Brad said and started walking.

Matt walked along beside his cousin. “I hope you don’t expect me to remember this all in one day.”

“Of course not. I’ll be around to show you as often as you need, or some of my friends can. I’ll introduce you to everyone at school.” Brad said.

“Do you play school sports? I played baseball at my old school. How’s the baseball team here?” Matt asked.

“I happen to be on the baseball team, so I can tell you that we honestly suck.” Brad rolled his eyes.

“Great. On a positive note, if you guys suck, maybe I can make the team.” Matt smirked at his cousin.

“Tryouts are Tuesday. I’ll introduce you to the coach tomorrow.”

“That’d be awesome!”

They were at the lake now, and Brad led them to the left and started circling the lake. Matt was quiet for a while, lost in his own thoughts. Brad put a hand on his shoulder. “Matt, I know the circumstances that brought you here are beyond terrible, but mom and I are happy to have you and David here. If you ever want to talk about things, I may not know the right things to say, but I’ll be here to listen.”

Matt looked over at Brad, and tears glistening in his eyes. “That means a lot, Brad. More than I can express. It’s something that I will probably never get over but having someone to talk to does help.”

“I can’t even imagine the part about uprooting your whole life and leaving behind all your friends and moving three thousand miles away. I give you a ton of credit for holding it together as much as you have.”

“I still have David. There wasn’t really anyone else significant. David left behind more than I did.”

“No girlfriend?”

“Nope. I’ve never had a real relationship. A couple of dates here and there but nothing serious.”

“What about David? No offense, and don’t take this as me perving on my cousin, but he’s seriously hot. He’s got that whole surfer vibe going on with the shaggy blonde hair and dreamy blue eyes. I refuse to believe he didn’t have a boyfriend.”

Matt smirked. “You are totally perving on your cousin, but I won’t say a word.” Matt’s smirk quickly turned into a frown as he continued talking. “He did have a boyfriend, but it fell apart after the accident. I was in a bad way right after it happened. My therapist even considered committing me for a while. My grades at school dropped. I was a mess. David spent almost all of his time with me, and after a while, Brayden left him.”

“That is screwed up. That Brayden guy is a serious jerk. I can’t believe someone would do that. How shallow.” Brad was visibly angry.

“What about you? Any boyfriend for you?” Matt asked, trying to steer the conversation away from himself.

“No. I had one last year, but it didn’t work out. Oddly enough, my ex is connected to our family history. Well, your part of the family history anyway. The infamous Roxbury Falls werewolf curse.” Brad rolled his eyes and laughed.

Matt’s blue eyes lit up. “Are you serious? What do you know about the curse? Who is the guy? How is he connected to my family?”

“Whoa. Whoa. Slow down, tiger. Hold on, we’re just about at the school. Let’s sit down at the outdoor lunch tables, and I’ll tell you what I know.” Brad said as he led Matt out of the park and across the street to the schoolyard. They sat at a metal picnic table, and Brad began his story.

“Roxbury Falls is a small town, so everyone knows at least something about the curse. It’s not talked about as much now. People lost interest after your grandfather passed away, since all his direct descendants lived on the other side of the country.” Brad looked at Matt.

“Yeah. Us. So, what about your ex? How’s he fit in? What exactly do people say about the curse?” Matt brushed the hair out of his eyes and leaned forward, listening intently to his cousin.

“From what I’ve heard, the oldest male in the Montana family line is cursed to be a werewolf, but only if they live here. Supposedly, the witch that cursed your great-great-great-grandfather gave him a way out of the curse. Leave Roxbury Falls forever. My ex-boyfriend, Elias Carrier, is the last living descendant of the witch who cursed your family.” Brad paused to give Matt a chance to react.

“That’s a weird coincidence. How did you end up dating Elias?” Matt asked.

 “I’ll try and give you a condensed version,” Brad said. “And let’s head that way,” He pointed, “We’ll hit the diner for lunch.”

“I could eat,” Matt said with a smirk, and they started walking.

“I’m beginning to think that’s your personal tagline,” Brad laughed.

“It totally could be, especially during baseball season,” Matt said.

“Anyway, my Elias story. At the beginning of my freshman year, I came out. I only intended to come out to a couple close friends, but one person told someone else who told someone else and, in typical small-town fashion, by the end of the week, the whole town knew. I started getting bullied. Maybe I should have told mom or the principal or someone, but I was afraid it would just get worse.” Brad paused for a second.

Matt reached across the table and grabbed his cousin’s hand. “Dude, I wish I’d been here back then. We could have totally kicked their asses together.”

Brad smiled. “Thanks, man. That means a lot. So, we’re a couple weeks into the school year now, and a new guy shows up. A new kid always shows up on a bully’s radar, but this new kid also happened to be a foster kid and gay. A bully trifecta. They didn’t forget about me, though. Elias and I both got bullied almost every single day.”

Matt interjected. “You’ll have to point these guys out to me tomorrow, so I can keep my guard up.”

“Definitely. After I joined the baseball team and made a lot of friends, they left me alone, but I will let you know who they are. Back to my story, since we were both being bullied, and it was obvious that neither one of us was going to tell adults, I decided to pull Elias aside and talk to him. He was very guarded at first, but I finally convinced him that I wanted to be friends with him. I wasn’t just another bully. We found that we got picked on less when we were together. We also found that we enjoyed hanging out.”

Matt touched his cousin’s arm to get his attention. “Is this the place?”

“Yeah. Will’s Diner. They definitely have the best burgers and fries in town.” Brad said. A waitress greeted them just inside the door.

“Hey, guys.” She looked closely at Matt. “New friend, Bradley?” She smirked.

Brad looked shocked, and Matt blushed and stuttered. “No. I’m his cousin. My name is Matt.” He stuck out his hand toward the girl.

The waitress ignored his hand and gave him a hug. “I’m Kim. Brad and I go to school together. Nice to meet you.”

Matt took in her long, raven black hair and dark brown eyes. “The pleasure is all mine. You got an open table for two hungry customers?”

She grabbed his arm and smiled warmly. “Right this way, sir.”

After they were seated and Kim had taken their order, Brad rolled his eyes at his cousin. “Do all straight guys who self-identify as shy introverts shamelessly flirt with every pretty girl they meet?”

Matt blushed. “More like beautiful, not just pretty. Even her name is beautiful… Kim. Is she single? Do you think she was flirting? I can never tell!”

“Kim’s like that with everyone. She wasn’t seriously flirting. She’s had a crush on another friend, Juan, for a long time.”

Matt shrugged his shoulders. “I told you I’m no good at flirting or reading when I’m being flirted with. You’ll have to help me out with that.”

Brad looked thoughtful for a moment. “Maybe I can help you with that. I know just the girl for you!”

“Should I be excited or scared.” Matt chuckled.

“You should be excited. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”

“I can’t wait.” Matt laughed. “Now, let’s get back to your story. I want to hear what happened next.”

“Oh yeah. Where did I leave off? Never mind. I remember. So, anyway, Eli and I started hanging out a lot. We quickly became best friends. If he wasn’t at my house, I was at his or we were exploring all over town. About a month later, we were hiking in the woods behind his house, and he just stopped in the middle of the trail. I turned and asked him what was wrong. He didn’t even speak, he just stepped in close, grabbed my face, and kissed me. I was surprised at first, but I kissed him back. We didn’t question it, we didn’t have to have a whole “what just happened” talk, we just knew. We started dating instead of just hanging out, and things were beyond excellent.” Brad said. He spotted Kim walking up to their table with their lunches, and he stopped talking.

“Here you go, guys. Enjoy. With no other customers in the diner, if you need me for anything, just yell. I’ll be at the counter doing my homework.” She rolled her eyes, smiled at Matt, and walked away.

“Are you sure she’s not flirting with me?” Matt asked after she was far enough away not to hear him.

“Yeah, I’m sure. Everyone’s expecting that any day now, Kim and Juan will finally become an official couple.” Brad said.

“In that case, please continue your story, and I’ll just live vicariously through you.” Matt waved a hand toward Brad and then began eating his burger.

Brad started talking again. “Things with Eli and me were awesome for a couple of months. Having a boyfriend at Christmas and New Year’s Eve was the best. His fifteenth birthday was January seventeenth. We made special plans and had a great time. The next day things started getting weird. He showed up for school late, and it looked like he hadn’t slept at all. He got distant from me. He was canceling plans for no apparent reason. This went on for like two weeks. Then the rumors started at school. I heard people talking about him, and I was scared to death that I was going to hear that he was cheating on me. What I heard instead just made me confused. They said that Eli had been seen going into and coming out of the witch house almost every day for the last two weeks, which would be since the night of his birthday.” Brad said with a sigh.

“Witch house?” Matt asked. “What do you mean? Did you ask him about it? What did he say?”

“The witch house is an old supposedly haunted house in town. I hoped he would just tell me that he was exploring the old house. That’s not what he told me. He told me that on his birthday, he had a nightmare about an old woman. The old woman insisted he go to the house. He said he woke up from the nightmare and felt compelled to go to the house right then, so he did. He refused to tell me everything that happened in the house, but he told me that the old woman from his dream was his birth mother and that she told him how to inherit the powers of his birthright.” Brad said.

“That’s unbelievable. Elias actually believed that he saw a ghost that told him that he could gain the powers of a witch?” Matt asked.

“That’s exactly what he told me. The rumors at school started getting worse. The bullying also got worse again. Now, not only was I called all the usual gay slurs, but I was also called “witch lover” and other much worse names. The physical bullying also got worse because now Eli avoided me, and I was alone again.” Brad said.

 “Oh my God, Brad, that sucks so bad. Just when things were getting good, suddenly, bam! They’re worse again.”

“Matt, I’m ashamed of what I did next. I hope you don’t think I’m a bad person for doing it, but I broke up with Elias. I still loved him. I may still love him even now, but it was bad enough getting bullied about being gay. I just couldn’t take the added harassment. Plus, he was, for the most part, avoiding me. He acted hurt when I told him, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. That was when I decided to make some changes. I tried out for and made the baseball team and made a bunch of new friends. The bullying stopped, and now this year has been great so far.” Brad said.

“Do you still see Elias at school?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, but he pretty much stays to himself now and totally avoids me. Hell, he won’t even look at me. People say they still see him hanging out at the witch house, but even the bullies leave him alone now.” Brad said.

“I wonder if he knows more about the curse than you’ve been able to tell me.” Matt mused.

“Just leave him alone, Matt. Don’t get caught up in his delusion. The curse is a cool family story, but that’s all it can be, right? Curses and witches can’t possibly be real, can they? It’s just myth and legend and cool shows like Teen Wolf.” Brad said.

Matt thought about telling Brad about his own nightmares, but right then, Kim came back to the table. “Can I clear your plates away, guys? Want any dessert? We have cherry pie today.” Kim said

The two boys devoured a piece of pie each and then left the diner and started walking back toward home. Matt decided not to tell his cousin about the nightmares. Brad had already dealt with enough; he didn’t need Matt’s angst on top of his own.

—————————————-

David closed his laptop, stood up, and stretched. He glanced at the wall clock and was shocked to find that it was past twelve-thirty. David had spent the whole morning checking emails and searching online for local job opportunities. He needed to stretch his legs and get some lunch. Matt and Brad weren’t home yet, so David decided that he’d go out for a walk and find something to eat on his own. He peeked into Aunt Nancy’s home office and saw her at her desk. “You do know it’s Sunday afternoon, right?” He asked.

She laughed. “Running a newspaper and writing most of the articles isn’t a Monday through Friday nine to five job.”

“I guess not,” David said. “I really need to get away from the computer for a while. I’m going out for a walk and maybe get lunch. You need anything?”

“No. I’m fine. I’ll have a snack a little later. I’m making spaghetti for dinner. If you see the other boys tell them to be home before six.”

“Ok. I’ll see you later.” David said. He left the room and walked down the hall. David grabbed his jacket from the hall closet and left the house.

When he got outside, David looked around. He spotted what looked like a gas station and convenience store just a short distance off to his left. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to check out the store and see what they had. David walked up to the store and reached for the door when it opened, and Matt and Brad came rushing out, their arms full of snacks and drinks. He stepped back so he wouldn’t get trampled. “Whoa, guys. Where’s the fire. Slow down.” He laughed.

“Oh, hey, David. Done with your research?” Matt asked.

“For now. I had to get out of the house. Plus, I’m hungry.”

“You should go to Will’s Diner,” Brad said.

“Definitely! It’s awesome. We just came from there.” Matt chimed in.

“I’m sold. Where is it?”

“Back that way, maybe half a mile.” Brad pointed toward the diner.

“You guys heading home?” David asked.

“Yeah. We’re gonna just chill and play some Xbox until dinner.” Matt said.

“Sounds good. Aunt Nancy said she’s cooking spaghetti tonight, and dinner will be around six.”

“Mom’s spaghetti is killer. You guys will love it!”

“See you guys at home,” David said. Brad and Matt turned in the direction of home, and David continued to Will’s Diner.

The bell rang over the door as David entered the diner. He saw a young dark-haired girl get up from the counter and walk to greet him at the door. “Welcome to Will’s Diner, sir. Let me show you to your table. My name is Kim. I’ll be your waitress today.”

“Thank you, Kim. This place came highly recommended, and I can already see that the service is excellent.” David said with a smile.

“You’re the second handsome stranger to come in here today.” She smiled. “You’re either Brad’s older cousin, or Roxbury Falls is experiencing a population explosion.”

“Busted. I’m David. Nice to meet you. So, you go to school with Brad and Matt?”

“Guilty as charged. What about you, are you gonna apply at our community college or a bigger school upstate?”

“Not going to school right now. I need to get a job and help support my brother. I can’t expect to sponge off my aunt forever.”

Kim’s expression entirely changed. “Oh my God, that’s right. I’m such an idiot. Brad told some of us what happened. Well, not any details, but that it was just the two of you now.” She reached over and touched David’s hand. “I’m so sorry. It’s such a sad story.”

David shrugged his shoulders and smiled a smile that barely touched his lips and never reached his eyes at all. “Thank you. It’s ok. We’re dealing. Can we change the subject?”

“Of course,” Kim said. “Plus, you probably want some food.”

David laughed. “Yeah, that is why I came in. How about a burger and fries? I heard they’re great.”

“Coming right up,” Kim said and went into the kitchen.

A short time later, Kim came back out with David’s meal. “Here you go. I hope you like it.” Kim said and sat next to David again.

“It looks delicious.” He said and took a bite.

“So, how many girls got left with broken hearts when you left California?” Kim asked with a grin.

“None.” David laughed.

“Oh, come on. I find that hard to believe with your surfer boy looks and sweet personality.” Kim smiled.

“Nope. No girls at all. There was a guy, but I ended up with the broken heart, not him.” David said.

“Now I’m really interested. Spill the tea, mister.”

David rolled his eyes. “There’s not much to tell. Brayden and I started dating two months before the accident. Things were going well. I thought we were serious about each other. Then the accident happened. He was supportive at first. Matt struggled for a long time. He still has nightmares to this day. I had to spend a lot of time with Matt. Brayden gradually started coming over less and less until one day, he told me that he wasn’t coming back. I was crushed at first, but I soon came to realize that if he couldn’t support me caring for my brother during such a rough time that he wasn’t worth my tears. I am so over him it’s not even funny.”

“He’s an insensitive jerk. Good for you for realizing that. I bet I can find you a guy a hundred times better than him.” Kim smirked.

“That’s not necessary, Kim. Dating is not top on my priority list right now.” David said.

“That’s why it’s tops on my list. Don’t you worry, David, I’ll find you the perfect love connection.” Kim thought for a minute. “My friend Devon has an older brother who graduated two years ago. He’s a hottie just like you. I think he’s single, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. I will be sure and get back to you, though.” Kim winked at David.

David finished his meal and paid. “Thanks for the conversation, Kim. It was great. Don’t worry about the other stuff. It’s no big deal.” David laughed.

“I will hook you up,” Kim said with a grin.

“I’ll see you around,” David said and left the diner.

David still needed to clear his head and organize his thoughts. He walked across the street and into Lakeside Park. David wandered the paths until he reached the edge of the lake. He hadn’t been on a real run since high school, but that was precisely what he felt like doing right now. David set his jacket on the park bench and bent down to tighten his shoelaces. After a few stretching exercises to warm up his body, he took off for his jog around the lake.

Nancy poked her head into the family room. “You two need to finish killing whatever you are killing and get cleaned up. Dinner will be on the table in a half-hour.”

“Ok, mom!” Brad yelled. The sounds of machine gun fire and explosions lasted for about ten more minutes before they turned the game off.”

Matt looked over at his cousin. “Next time, how about Fallout 4 or Skyrim? I play Call of Duty but I’m not a big fan.”

“Sounds great. I love Fallout. I can’t wait for Fallout76 to come out later this year. Do you play Gears of War?” Brad asked.

“Yeah. That one is ok. Much better than COD.” Matt said.

They heard the front door, and they glanced toward the hall. David came walking in drenched in sweat.

“What did you do? Join a track team while you were out?” Matt chuckled.

“No, but I did go for a run around the lake. I feel great now. You guys should join me next time.”

“Let me see what the baseball coach has me doing before I commit to more.” Matt laughed.

“Oh, believe me, there will be more than enough running.” Brad chimed in.

“The offer stands if either of you decide you’re interested. It smells like dinner is almost ready. I’m going to go take a quick shower and change my clothes. Don’t eat everything before I come back down.”

“I make no promises when it comes to food,” Matt said.

“Believe him. I’ve seen him eat.” Brad rolled his eyes and laughed.

“Oh, I know,” David said as he ran upstairs.

All three boys got to the kitchen table at almost the same time that Nancy was setting down the plates of food. Matt helped her with the remaining dishes.

“Aunt Nancy, this looks fantastic. I don’t remember the last time I had homecooked spaghetti.” David said.

“Reheated Chef Boyardee doesn’t count?” Matt asked in fake astonishment.

“No, it definitely does not.” David laughed.

“Dang it! I thought I was ready for a junior chef cooking show.” Matt said.

“Not quite yet,” David said with a chuckle.

“How’d your job search go?” Aunt Nancy asked.

“Good, I think. The most promising looks like Sonny’s Coffee Shop and Warehouse. They’re looking for a delivery guy and someone to help when they get big deliveries themselves.” David said.

“I know Sonny. He’s a good friend of mine. Make sure you tell him that you’re my nephew.”

“I’ll remember that. Thanks!” David said.

After dinner, they all went into the family room to watch tv. Everyone voiced their opinions on what to watch, but finally, they agreed on a new Netflix remake of “Lost in Space.”

“Did you ever watch the old version of the show, Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.

Nancy smiled. “Maybe a rerun here or there, but “Lost in Space” was before my time. I’m not that old, Matthew. I do know the classic quote “Danger, Will Robinson,” but that’s about it.”

“Oh, cool. It’ll be a new show for all of us then. I hate when people are always comparing new shows to the originals. Remakes aren’t supposed to be replicas, in my opinion.” Matt said.

“They should honor the source material, I think.” David chimed in.

“But not copy it exactly.” Matt insisted.

“True enough,” David said.

“Can we watch it already?” Brad whined.

Nancy rolled her eyes and started the show.

After four episodes of “Lost in Space,” Nancy announced that it was time for bed. Brad moaned about school night curfews but got up and headed upstairs. David yawned and stretched. “I’m going to bed, too, Aunt Nancy. Good night.”

“Good night, boys,” Nancy said and turned off the tv. Nancy turned off the family room lights and locked all the doors before finally settling in at her desk in her home office.

David lay on his bed, unable to sleep. Thoughts of the last couple of days kept running through his head. His brother’s anxiety had been sky-high just before the move, but Matt seemed to be settling in now that they were here. David was thrilled with that, plus his job search seemed to be going well. If Aunt Nancy’s friend hired him, that would be incredible.

David heard the crash of one of the metal garbage cans in the backyard falling over. He got out of bed and went to the window to see what happened. The outside light wasn’t on, but the yard was lit up by the light of the nearly full moon. David didn’t see anything at first and thought it must have been the wind, but then movement at the edge of the yard caught his attention. Just inside the forest that borders the property, David saw a large dog. He thought to himself that the stray dog must have been looking for food in the trash and knocked the can over. He’d be sure to tell Aunt Nancy about the stray in the morning.

As David lay back in bed, the thought occurred to him that the weirdest part of what just happened was that it looked like the dog was just sitting there staring straight up at his window. David pushed the thought out of his mind and finally drifted off to sleep.