The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 14)

Chapter 14

When Terrie got to the library, Brad, Nate, Devon, David, and Sky were all sitting on the front steps waiting. “I’m sorry it took so long. Are you guys leaving? What’s our plan?”

Brad stood up. “Nate had to lock up. The library just closed. Why don’t we move this strategy session to Will’s Diner? I’m hungry.”

Terrie rolled her eyes. “You are always hungry, Bradley. I pity anyone who tries to date you!”

Nate broke out laughing. “Is it too late to change my mind? Maybe an abort mission button?”

Terrie’s eyes widened. “Wait… what? Are you guys dating? Since when? Why didn’t I know?”

“Chill, bestie. We haven’t gone out on a date yet. We talked while I was here last night, and, well, once we’re not all in mortal danger, we’re going to go out.” Brad said.

Nate walked up behind Brad. He slipped his arms around Brad’s waist, and he rested his chin on Brad’s shoulder. “Don’t listen to him. It’s official. We’re dating. This gorgeous stud muffin is all mine.” He kissed the side of Brad’s neck.

Brad blushed and melted back into Nate’s embrace. “Ok. What he said. We’re a couple.”

“Cutest couple ever!” Terrie squealed.

“Now we need to find a girl willing to date my toad of a little brother, but they will have to ignore his grotesque appearance and lack of social skills.” Sky laughed.

“Whatever, bro, whatever,” Devon said with a grin.

“Terrie, did Matt say when he would be joining us? He’s not answering texts.” David looked worried.

Terrie’s expression clouded. “He might be with Elias for a couple of hours. They are… it’s a long story. Let’s get to the diner, and I’ll explain what I know over lunch. Matt asked me to fill you guys in on what I know, so we could have time to discuss everything while we waited for him and Eli to do… whatever it is that they think they can accomplish.”

David scowled. “I don’t think I like the sound of that. Let’s get going, so you can explain further.”

————————————————————————————————————

Matt stood in the corner of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, waiting for Eli to fill the tub. Elias dumped most of the herbs into the steaming hot water and stirred it around. He glanced over at Matt and raised one eyebrow. “You know you’re going to have to drop that towel eventually, right?”

Matt blushed. “I… sorry… I know, and I know we’ve been messing around a bit. And I know we both want to mess around a bit more. When it comes right down to being naked, I guess I’m a little nervous. I’ve taken showers in school and at the beach, but I’ve never actually been naked with someone…. one on one.”

“Wow. No one? I guess I assumed that you’d been with girls before, even if you’d never been with a guy.”

“Nope. No girls, no guys. Nothing but kissing for me so far. The furthest I’ve ever been with anyone was when you slipped your hand down the front of my pants last night.” Matt blushed.

“I hope that didn’t freak you out. If I’d known… we can take things as slow or as fast as you want, Matt. I am perfectly fine with letting you control the pace of whatever we do or don’t do.”

“It’s not like I’m saving myself or anything. I just haven’t found the right person, at least not until now, and now I’ve found two.”

Eli smirked. “Can we continue that conversation later? Right now, I need you naked and in this tub. This isn’t sexual, Matt. I won’t do anything inappropriate. When that happens, you’ll know, and it will only happen with your consent and full participation.” Eli winked.

Matt dropped the towel and stepped into the tub. He sat down and slid under the water up to his neck. Matt looked nervously at Elias. “What now?”

“Now we see if I’m any good at being a witch.” Eli huffed out a laugh. “Let’s begin.” Elias stood over Matt and started reciting the spell. Eli was speaking in Latin and sprinkling more herbs into the tub. The water began to bubble and swirl.

Matt’s eyes were wide as he watched the water swirl around his body. “Is this what’s supposed to happen?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like this before, but we know that if something happened, it would probably mean we were doing it right.” Elias said. Then, Matt’s body went rigid, and he cried out. Eli held onto Matt’s shoulders. “I got you, Matt, I got you.” Eli saw the pain on Matt’s face, but he also noticed an inky blackness starting to cloud the formerly crystal-clear water in the tub. Eli looked into Matt’s eyes. “Do you trust me?”

Matt couldn’t speak, but he nodded. Yes, he trusted Elias. He trusted him with his life.

Eli placed one hand on top of Matt’s head, and with his other hand, he grabbed another handful of the cut herbs from the nearly empty pouch on his belt. “Take a deep breath and hold it, Matt.” Matt complied, and Elias pushed his head under the water. Eli sprinkled more herbs into the water and recited the spell a third time. There was a brilliant flash of light, and then the darkness was gone. The water was crystal clear again. Elias released Matt. Matt’s head broke the surface of the water, and he took a breath.

Elias wrapped his arms around Matt’s chest. “Are you ok, Matt? Talk to me! Please!”

Matt leaned back against Elias and looked up at him. “I’m ok. That was intense, and for a short time, it was painful, but I think whatever happened is over.”

Elias looked thoughtful. “After that flash of light, the water cleared. I’ll make some herbal tea while you dry off and get dressed. Then I’ll cast the aura spell, and we’ll see if we were successful.”

Matt had taken a quick shower to rinse all the herbs off his body before he dried off and got dressed. He was now sitting across the kitchen table from a grinning Eli. “What? Did you do it? What did you see? Why are you grinning like a crazy person?”

“I am grinning mostly because of what I don’t see. I can’t see the darkness of the curse. Your aura is beautiful, Matt! So vibrant and full of colors. Before it was… I don’t know, diminished. The first time I saw your aura, it was shrouded in darkness. Now it’s the most colorful aura I have ever seen. You will do great things in your life. Being a witch is just the first step in a long line of amazing things you will do.”

Matt nearly jumped for joy. “Complete success? Can we try the other one now? This is awesome!”

“I want to bond with you, but we need to test you first. If dark magic still taints you, the bond would infect me, and that would ruin our chance at, well, everything, including cleansing David.”

“Ok. What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to cast a spell while I can still see your aura. If you use magic, I’d see the darkness infect your aura. A simple fire spell should be easiest for you to perform.”

Matt looked excited. “I’m ready. What do I do?”

Elias smirked. “How good are you at learning languages?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “Will there be homework?” He huffed out a laugh. “I’m in my third year of Spanish. Straight A’s. I mean, it’s not easy, but I can read, write, and speak quite a bit now.”

“Spells are spoken in Latin. I’m not sure if anyone has tried to create any in other languages, but for now, we’ll stick with established spells.”

“That makes sense. People probably created spells thousands of years ago. It would be so cool to make new ones, though!”

“One step at a time.” Eli smiled. “Ok. Extend one hand out in front of you, palm side up. Cup your hand like you are holding something.”

Matt followed the instructions and looked expectantly at Elias. “Done. Now what?”

“I’m going to have you create fire, then increase the size, and finally make it disappear. Are you ready?”

“Ready.”

“First say ‘ignis flammae.’”

Matt repeated the phrase, and a tiny spark ignited in the air over his hand. “Wow! I did it!” He was grinning ear to ear.

“Now say ‘invalesco’ and if the fire grows successfully, say ‘recedo,’ and it should go out.”

Matt followed the instructions, and both spells worked perfectly. “That was awesome! Did… did you see what you needed to see? Am I cleansed of the curse?”

“Yes, you are free of the curse, and you are free to join with me in forming a coven if you still want to.”

Matt stepped in closer to Elias. “Of course, I want to join with you in every possible way. Magical, physical, emotional, everything.” He lightly kissed Eli’s lips. “If what we were doing wasn’t so vitally important, I’d join with you right here and now.”

“Well, that’s the plan.” Eli grinned. “But, magically, not sexually.” He laughed, then turned and retrieved an extended length of red ribbon and an elaborately carved dagger from the table.

Matt cocked his head. “Do I want to know what we need to do with those?”

Eli smirked. “Nothing kinky… yet. I need to make small cuts on the palms of our right hands. Just enough to draw blood. Then we will clasp hands, and I will wrap the ribbon around our hands, wrists, and forearms to symbolically join us together, then we repeat the spell.” Eli pointed to the book on the table. He had the book propped open, and a passage highlighted.

Matt read the passage then looked at Elias. “What is the translation?”

“It says ‘Join together in spirit. Join together in magic. Our bond is unbreakable. Stronger together than apart. Our coven grows.’”

“Cool. I like it. Let’s do this.” Matt extended his right hand out toward Eli.

Elias took Matt’s hand. He made the incisions on their hands, and they clasped hands. Then Eli joined them together with the ribbon. “It’s time.”

Both boys repeated the spell. “Simul iungere spiritu. Simul iungere magica. Nostris foedere indissolubili sociavit. Sine solito fortiores. Coven crescat nostrae.”

Matt felt his whole body start to tingle, starting with his right hand and waves of energy flowing all through him. Then he felt his hand go ice cold, and he felt another hand on top of his and Eli’s. He saw his confusion mirrored in Eli’s eyes, but just at that moment, the figure of a woman materialized with her right hand joined with theirs forming a circle of three.

Eli’s jaw dropped, and then his eyes narrowed. “Mother, I have been trying to summon you for days. What made you decide to show up now?”

“You didn’t think you could cast such powerful magic without notice, did you?” Marie Carrier said. She glanced at Matt. “I sense the Montana bloodline. How dare you enter this sacred place.” She turned her ghostly gaze onto her son. “How dare you bond one such as he to our coven!”

“If you had appeared to me any of the six times I summoned you, I would have spoken to you about this. I needed your help, but now I have found my answers. You abandoned me as a baby, and you ignored me even now when you’re a spirit. As the last living member of this coven, I decided to remove the Montana curse as a first step toward undoing the evil that our ancestors caused this town. Besides, Matthew is my soulmate. You will accept him as part of my coven, or I will banish you from this house and my life.”

“You have grown stronger in your magic and your attitude. That is why I did not show up at your every whim. I can not be with you. Therefore you needed to learn to figure things out on your own.”

Elias glared at his mother. “With Matt by my side, I will never be alone again.”

Matt felt Marie’s hand grow warmer as she focused her gaze upon him. “You love my son.” Her eyes narrowed. “But you love another as well.”

“I do. I love both very deeply. I’m trying to figure out what that means.”

Marie’s lips curled up in a smile. “Coven witches have had polyamorous relationships for centuries. Make sure everyone plays by the same rules, and no one gets hurt. I sense only goodness in you, Matthew Montana. I approve of my son’s decisions.”

“I don’t need your approval!” Elias snarled as he unwrapped the red ribbon. “I cleansed and bonded with Matt, and we are going to remove the curse from David whether you approve or not.”

“You are still my son, and this is still my coven, Elias. You have my approval, if not my help, but watch your tone.”

“This is my coven. We did not bond with a ghost.” Elias said.

“Nothing is ever as it first appears. The two of you have the power to cleanse the elder Montana boy but beware. Darker forces are gathering beyond what you now know. Be careful, my son. Danger is everywhere.” With that, Marie Carrier disappeared.

“I didn’t expect to meet your mom today. That was interesting.” Matt said.

“I tried to summon her to ask her questions about all this, but she only shows up when she feels like it. I guess I can’t expect someone who dumped me off as a baby to be reliable even in death.”

“She did say that we are strong enough to cure David. That’s encouraging.” Matt looked at the time on his phone. “We should meet up with everyone and decide what to do next. Are you ready?”

Elias couldn’t help but smile. “After what we just did… with you as my coven mate… and whatever else we are or become… I am ready for anything.”

“Whatever else I am to anyone else, I am yours forever, Elias. If we add anyone else to our coven or our lives in any way, I never want to lose you. You know that, right?” Matt held both of Eli’s hands and stared deep into his eyes.

Eli leaned in, and their lips met in a brief kiss. “Yes, I know. I am yours forever, and I know that you are mine. I love you.”

Matt blushed. “I love you, too. Now let’s go find our friends.”

————————————————————————————————————

When the six friends reached Will’s Diner, they pushed two tables together, and then they placed their order. Terrie waited for everyone to settle in, and then she pulled two photographs out of her purse. She slid them across the table to Brad. “Dad got these back already. His friend thought dad was pranking him.”

Brad smiled. “I knew I took good photos! I mean, now we know more than we did last night, and these aren’t the important puzzle pieces that I thought they might be, but it’s still nice to see the hard evidence right here in my hands.” Brad looked over at David and slid him the photos. “That’s you, cuz.”

David’s hands were shaking as he picked up the pictures. He leaned against Sky. “So, this is what you saw last night. I don’t even know what to say other than I hope Matt and Elias can fix me.”

“You do not need fixing, babe. We’ll figure this out. You had the opportunity to attack me and Brad and Terrie’s little brother. You chose to run away instead. Even as a wolf, you made the right choice.” Sky said.

Brad nodded in agreement. “David, you were scary as hell. You roared and growled, and you were right there in front of both me and Johnny. You didn’t touch either of us. I agree one hundred percent with Skylar. The night before, the wolf that attacked Kevin, that wolf never hesitated. That wolf went straight for the kill.”

The conversation drifted from story to story, with everyone getting caught up on everything that had been happening. David ran his fingers through his shaggy blonde hair and let out a low whistle. “This is almost overwhelming, especially since my little brother and I are the two central figures in all of this. I guess the next step is to decide how best to lock me up without attracting attention while we figure out how to stop the change from happening, right?”

“We also need to make a plan to capture or kill the other wolf. That wolf is a killer. That wolf killed my best friend.” Brad said.

“And my best friend,” Terrie added. “There is one more important thing I need to share. My dad’s deputy, Lilly Monroe, revealed to us that she is part of a secret organization of witch hunters.”

Terrie was startled when a voice from behind her spoke. “Did you just say witch hunters? Where? Here in town? Who is it?” She turned and saw Matt and Elias standing behind her.

Matt blushed. “Sorry. We were just about to say hi when we heard you say witch hunters.”

Terrie pointed to the two empty chairs. “We saved your seats. Sit down, and I’ll tell you what I know. I just got everyone else caught up on the other stuff you told me.”

“We have more to share as well, but let’s hear about these witch hunters first. I’ve read a lot about them in the journals of past coven members.” Elias said.

“The who is Lilly Monroe. She’s my dad’s newest deputy. The timing didn’t mean anything to him back then, but as it turns out, she moved to town right after you started visiting the witch house, Elias.”

Eli’s brow furrowed. “They must have a way of sensing magic use. What Matt and I did today, well, we will have to be careful moving forward, but there are things we still have to do that will require powerful magic.”

“Did you… were you successful today?” Terrie asked.

“Yes. Success times two.” Elias couldn’t help but grin.

David leaned forward. “What did you two do?”

Matt grinned. “He removed the curse from me, and we formed a coven. I’m a witch! Now we can concentrate all our efforts on you. The curse’s power over you will be harder to remove. He wouldn’t have had the power to remove it by himself, but a coven combines the powers of the joined witches. Now we should be able to do it.”

“Can we try today? Now? Before the moon rises? I bit Sky. I’m not sure if anyone caught you two up on everything that’s happened yet. Is he cursed now? Will he turn into a werewolf tonight?”

“We need to move this to my house,” Elias said. “I have to consult some books. If we can’t cure you before nightfall, we may have to contain you and possibly Skylar.”

“Ok. Let’s go. We need to hurry.” David said, and the group of eight friends left the diner and headed for witch house.

————————————————————————————————————

Elias paced back and forth between the kitchen and the living room of what most people still called the witch house. Eli was beginning to think of it as home, and he never had so many people at his house before. Hell, the only one besides himself that had been in here in the last twenty years was Matt. Brad had refused to come, and that had played into the breakup. Eli’s mind raced as he paced. Everyone was looking at him for answers, even Brad. Now that they accepted that he was a witch, now that they believed in the supernatural, they were all looking at him to save the day. Elias felt his anxiety ratcheting up, and he paced even faster.

Matt leaned against the wall and watched Elias pace. He could tell that Eli was trying to work things out in his head, but Matt could feel the anxiety growing inside Elias. Ever since they bonded, Matt felt an empathic link to Eli. He couldn’t read the other boy’s thoughts, but he sensed Elias’s emotions. Right now, Matt could tell Eli was spiraling toward an anxiety attack. Matt knew he had to do something and do it now.

Eli’s eyes were darting from face to face while he decided what to say to the seven, wait, six? Where was Matt? Then Eli felt the strong arms wrap around him, and he heard Matt’s soft voice in his ear. “Stop pacing. Take a breath. You can do this. Hell, you can do anything. I believe in you. We all do.” Then Matt kissed the side of Eli’s neck.

Elias melted back into Matt’s embrace. “Thank you.” He smiled and stood up straight. Eli took a step forward and looked right at Skylar. “Aurae apparaistis!” Eli stood back and cocked his head, studying the aura. He looked several times from David to Sky and back again with a furrowed brow.

“What? What do you see?” David and Sky asked almost in unison.

Elias sighed. “There are overlaps and similarities in colors and patterns, but it’s difficult to compare because,” He said, looking at David. “a darkness shrouds your aura that is not apparent on Sky’s.”

“Does that mean I’m not going to be a werewolf?” Sky asked.

“Not necessarily. It only means you are not cursed.” Eli turned to the bookshelves and began taking books off the shelf and setting them on the table while he talked. “While I researched how to remove the curse, I learned a lot about werewolves. Lycanthropy is a blood-borne disease that fundamentally changes your DNA. It’s not a curse, and a parent can pass it to a child, similar to any other DNA marker.”

“What does all that mean for me? Can you cure me? Is there another way to tell if Sky is a wolf?” David asked.

Elias sat down across from David and Sky. “I have more research that I need to do. Comparing your aura,” He said to David. “To both Sky’s and Matt’s, I think I will have to use a different spell than I used on Matt. The darkness hovered around Matt, but it did not touch him. The dark magic entwines throughout your aura. It will take greater power and a more intense spell to extract the darkness of the curse from you. It will not happen before moonrise tonight, for that I am sorry.”

“Speaking of Matt,” David glanced at his brother before focusing back on Elias. “You’re sure that he’s free from the curse, and you and he are… what exactly?”

Elias gripped Matt’s hand, their fingers entwining. “Yes, he is free of the curse. We tested it to be sure. Matt was born a witch. I believe you were, too, David, but the werewolf bite forever corrupted your magic. The dark magic of the curse blocked Matt’s magic. When we removed that, he became his true self, a witch. As for him and me….” Eli looked at Matt, and Matt smiled.

Matt interrupted Eli. “As for what Eli and I are… mostly we’re still figuring that out, but the part that directly affects you guys is that we’ve bonded our magic and formed a coven.”

“What exactly does that mean? What benefit or advantage does that give you as opposed to just working together?” Nate asked.

“As a coven, our magic is bonded. Coven witches can draw on each other’s power. We are stronger together than each of us separately. I do not think that I alone could remove the curse from David, but I think that Matt and I can do it together.”

Devon spoke up. “So, you don’t know if my brother is a wolf, just that he isn’t cursed, is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct. I’ve read that lycanthropy is transmitted through a bite or a scratch, but I don’t know if it’s a one hundred percent transmission rate. I’d lean toward caution and have Sky with us when we lock up David.”

“There’s no way that I won’t be there, wolf or not.” Sky said.

Now Brad joined the conversation, but before he spoke, he walked over and knelt in front of Elias. Brad’s eyes glistened with tears. “Eli, I can’t express how deeply sorry I am that I abandoned you last year. The way I treated you, I don’t even know why you decided to help my family. I wouldn’t even defend you from Derrick and his goons, and here you are doing all of this. I acted like an idiot when Matt started hanging out with you. I regret that, too. I hope both of you can forgive me, and we can start fresh moving forward.”

“There’s nothing to forgive as far as I’m concerned. We’re good, cuz.” Matt said.

Elias reached out and took Brad’s face in both of his hands. He used his thumbs to wipe away the tears. “Bradley, I do not regret loving you, and I hope you don’t regret loving me. You were my first love, my first heartbreak, and many other firsts. You will forever hold a special place in my heart. A month ago, I may not have been able to say this, but now I can say and mean that I forgive you.” Eli let go of Brad’s face. “With the intense looks we’re getting from Nate and Matt, I’d say we’ve both moved on. Clean slate, Brad, no looking back. We were friends before we were lovers, and maybe we can be again.”

“I’d like that,” Brad said. “But now we have a much more important topic to discuss.”

Elias nodded. “You mean the late hour, and out one… maybe two werewolf friends, right?”

“Yeah. Any thoughts?”

Matt leaned forward. “I found an abandoned warehouse that has a chain link fenced off section where their shipping and receiving department must have been. We should head there soon and clear out the boxes and maybe buy a padlock on our way there.”

“What about this other wolf?” Terrie asked. “The one that we think is the one who is murdering our friends. How do we stop him? Or capture him? I know helping Matt and David, and now Sky has been our priority, but this monster has murdered three of our friends. Isn’t stopping him just as important?”

“Of course, it is. I’ve been so focused on learning the healing magic that I….” Elias trailed off.

Brad spoke up. “We got you, Eli. Nate, Devon, and I did a ton of reading on werewolves. After my close encounter, I focused my research on killing the monsters. I was scared that I was possibly researching how to kill my cousin, but after Kevin’s murder, I was going to take the thing out no matter what.”

David huffed out a laugh. “That’s understandable, Brad. Did you find anything good?”

“Pure silver, wolfsbane, and beheading,” Brad smirked. “I printed up a map of the area showing where wolfsbane is growing.” Brad looked outside. “It’s starting to get dark. Collecting wolfsbane needs to be the top priority tomorrow, and getting David and Sky to that warehouse needs to be the top priority right now.”

Elias looked thoughtful. “While you collect wolfsbane, I’ll research charm spells. Maybe we can lure the beast into a trap.”

“That’s brilliant,” Brad said.

“So, who’s going to the warehouse?” Matt asked.

“I am for sure,” Devon said. The group talked and decided that Brad, Nate, and Terrie would go home. David and Sky had to go to the warehouse, and Matt and Devon wouldn’t leave their brothers. Elias also went to the warehouse. For him, it was a combination of supporting Matt, and also, he thought he might be able to fortify the cage with magic. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky, so the eight friends left Eli’s house and went their separate ways.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 13)

Chapter 13

The stack of books and newspapers tumbled out of Nate’s arms as he sat at the study table. He sighed and looked over at Devon and Brad. “That’s the last of what I think will be worth looking at. We should be done in a couple hours. The library closes at noon today anyway.”

Devon tossed the book he was reading onto the table and reached for another one. “There are a lot more stories about witches than werewolves and almost nothing about the two of them together. Didn’t you say you had some local stories?” He scanned the material spread out on the table.

Brad pushed a stack of newspapers closer to Devon. “These are old and local papers.” He said without even looking up from the paper he was reading. “There’s not much here, myths and legends and family trees. I found that every person who was suspected to be a witch has no living relatives in Roxbury Falls, except Elias, and Eli just moved back here a couple of years ago with a foster family. He didn’t even know anything about his family history until last year.”

“That in itself is weird, isn’t it? That many old families moving away?” Nate asked.

“They didn’t all move away. There were a lot of deaths… all deemed accidents.” Brad said.

“We need to move on to the next stage of our plan,” Devon said. “I’m gonna text Sky and tell him to come to the library and to bring David with him. Matt said he’d text after he talked to Terrie, right?”

“Yeah, and I’ll let him be the one to text Elias, too.” Brad rolled his eyes. “Nate? Let’s put all this away. We need to switch to searching the internet. It’s time to dig deep into the crazy conspiracy blogs.”

Devon grinned. “Now that sounds fun!” Devon shot off a quick text to his brother, which read, ‘Come to the library. Bring David.’

————————————————————————————————————

Matt sat cross-legged in the middle of the blanket. He took the food that he brought for the picnic out of the basket while he waited for Terrie. A shadow crossed over the blanket, causing Matt to look up and smile. “Hey, beautiful. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you. How are you?”

“Silly boy. You were just at my house. This looks wonderful.” Terrie said as she sat down.

“But I miss you every minute that we’re apart, and that makes it seem so much longer.” Matt grinned and then sighed. “I wish… I wish we could be just another young teen couple out on a first date in the park, but we’re not. A lot has happened, Terrie. There’s so much we need to talk about. You know some of it from talking to Brad last night and this morning, but there’s a lot more. I found out so much at Eli’s house, and I had another weird dream and woke up to find David outside in the bushes.”

Terrie reached over and took Matt’s hands in her own. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”

Matt started with the easy stuff. He told her about his dreams of the blue-eyed werewolf, and he told her about the new details that he learned with Eli’s help. Matt told Terrie that he was now almost positive that two werewolves were stalking the town, and because of that, he had hopes that his brother had not yet killed. He skipped, for now, details about Elias. Instead, he told Terrie about finding David in the bushes. He told her as much about the curse as he had learned. Then, after he finished telling her about werewolves and curses, he had no choice but to tackle the more complex topics, Elias and witchcraft. Terrie was still holding Matt’s hands. He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, that’s what I know about werewolves and the curse that is on my family. But, there’s more that I need to tell you.”

Terrie’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. What else could you possibly have left to tell me? That’s a lot already. It’s all so hard to believe, but with you and Brad and even my little brother Johnny having seen stuff, I one hundred percent believe you guys.”

Matt frowned. “Most of the rest is about Eli and how he ties into all of this. Eli is a witch, and on top of that, he has proven to me that I am a witch, too.”

“What do you mean? Did he show you real magic? Can you do stuff?”

“He did show me his magic. He also explained his family history to me. There are many old books in the house that everyone calls the witch house, and he has learned from them. One of his ancestors was part of the coven that cursed my family.”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Then is he helping you, or is he the enemy that we should be wary of?”

“He’s helping. Ever since that first day that he saw me at Will’s Diner, he has wanted to help me. He dreamed about me before he ever met me, and I know he wasn’t lying. Elias described to me exactly what I was doing on my last night in California. Even David didn’t know what I did that night.”

“I can’t say that I like Elias dreaming about you, but that’s pretty cool that it was accurate.”

Matt blushed. “There’s a lot more that I have to tell you about Eli, and there’s more that you won’t like.”

Terrie looked concerned, and she held tighter to Matt’s hands. “You can tell me anything. But, especially now in these scary and unbelievable times, we have to be honest with each other and lean on each other.”

Matt sighed. “I agree. I just hope you still feel that way after I tell you everything. So, after Eli told me about his dream, I told him about the dream I’d been having about David. Eli got the idea to try to use his magic to enter my dream and help me see things about it that I hadn’t been able to see before. His idea worked perfectly. With Eli’s support, I stayed in the dream past when I would normally scare myself awake. It was near the end of the dream, the new part that I hadn’t seen, that I knew for certain that there were two wolves, and they match up exactly with the descriptions that Brad gave.”

“This is all scary as hell, but it seems encouraging. Like maybe your brother hasn’t killed, even though he’s a werewolf. So why would you say that I wouldn’t like what you had to say?”

Matt pulled his hands away from Terrie’s. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. Matt rested his forehead against his knees and spoke softly. “I’m getting to that part.”

Terrie reached out and put a hand on Matt’s shoulder. Hey, I’ll say again that you can tell me anything. I have a feeling that I know where this is going, and it’s ok.”

Matt looked up with tears starting to form at the corners of his eyes. “I didn’t even know where this was heading until it was happening. How could you?” He took a deep breath and let it out. “When I saw the new ending of my dream, and I saw the danger that David was in, the danger that we were all in, I jumped and nearly fell out of the chair that I was sitting in. Elias caught me, but my momentum crashed us up against the wall. I was scared out of my mind, but he held onto me until I felt safe. First in the dream, and then there in his arms up against the wall, he made me feel safer than I’ve felt in months. He held me until I stopped shaking, and then he promised me that he would save my brother.”

“There’s still more to this story, isn’t there?” Terrie said. Her expression was sad.

“Yes.” Matt sighed. “I mean… I won’t make you listen to details. Not much physical happened, but I wanted it to. I stopped myself, and I stopped him until I could figure out exactly what I want. I needed to talk to you before I did anything I would regret. I didn’t… I wouldn’t cheat on you, Terrie. I’ve never been sexually attracted to a guy before. I’ve never been as attracted to anyone as I was to him last night, yet, sitting here, I know I’m falling in love with you. I’m so confused. I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I don’t want to abandon either of you. Saying that out loud makes me sound selfish, but I want both of you!”

Terrie’s eyes were wet with tears. “Is it possible that the dream caused your connection in real life? Maybe the magic?”

“We talked about that very possibility. According to Elias, the magic that binds us to each other could enhance feelings, but it couldn’t create feelings out of nothing. Terrie, there’s still more that I need to tell you.”

“What else could there possibly be?” Terrie raised her hands, exasperated. “Did you kiss him? Did he kiss you? More than that? What else?”

“I didn’t kiss him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Full disclosure,” Matt pulled his shirt collar down, exposing the hickey on his collarbone. “That happened, but that’s not what I need to tell you. The physical stuff didn’t go further than him briefly kissing my neck. Terrie, you need to understand something about witches. Their powers grow when multiple witches are bonded in a coven. Eli doesn’t think that he’s strong enough to break a werewolf curse by himself, but he does think that he could break the curse’s power over me. If he can do that, I could bond with him, forming our own coven. It might be the only way to save my brother, but I think it is something I would want to do even if David wasn’t cursed.”

“I’m not really sure what the right thing is for me to say to all that, Matt. I think I’m falling in love with you, too, but you’ve said so much more than that. I can’t tell you not to bond with him if that’s even possible. Saving your brother and protecting the entire town has to be the top priority. You have to keep hanging out with Elias to do that. Besides, I care enough about you that I want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me. Go figure yourself out. I won’t abandon you. I won’t even break up with you right now, but I can’t say that I will be ok with whatever you decide. I’m your friend no matter what, Matt. We need to stick together through all the craziness and then, as long as we all survive,” Terrie huffed out a laugh. “We’ll figure out where to go from there.”

Matt nodded his head. “I suppose that’s the best possible reaction that I could expect from everything I told you. I appreciate what you said, Terrie. As soon as I know what the hell is going on with me, you’ll be the next one to know. I’m so sorry that I screwed up our picnic with my drama.”

Terrie shocked Matt with what she did next. She moved over closer to him and then straddled his lap. Terrie cupped Matt’s face in both her hands. “Babe, the fact that you tried to have a picnic with me while this is going on tells me how much you care.” She leaned in and gently kissed his lips. “You are an amazing man, Matthew Montana. I will stand by you while you figure all this stuff out. The supernatural stuff, and the romance stuff. I’m not ready to let you go.” She leaned in again, and he leaned in to meet her this time. Their lips crashed together, and their tongues entwined. They didn’t part until they were both breathless.

Matt was nearly panting. “That. Was. Amazing! Unfortunately, we have to meet up with everyone else now. David and Sky were going to meet up with Brad, Devon, and Nate at the library. I… I gotta go to Eli’s house before I go to the library. Do you want to meet up with everyone else before I get there, or should I swing by your house on my way there?”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “I’ll go home first and try and find out if my dad found out anything about Brad’s photos. Then I’ll go to the library on my own. You do whatever you need to do with Eli and meet us as soon as you can. It seems as if Elias is a central figure in all this almost as much as David is. I’ll see you at the library, babe.” With a final kiss, Terrie got up and left the park. His head still spinning from the entire conversation with his… girlfriend? Ex-girlfriend? Friend? … whatever she was now… Matt sent off a text to Elias to let him know that he was on his way.

————————————————————————————————————

Brad followed Nate deeper into the library as they put all of their research materials away. As Nate set the last book back on the shelf, he turned and grabbed two handfuls of Brad’s t-shirt and pulled him in close. “I hate having debts hanging over my head. Do you mind if I pay you what I owe you now?” His green eyes sparkled, and his full lips curled up in a smile.

“I’ve added interest onto the debt, so now you owe,” The rest of Brad’s sentence was cut off when Nate pressed him up against the bookshelf and kissed him. Brad wrapped his arms around Nate’s neck, and Nate’s hands slid down Brad’s back and came to rest on his hips.

Nate broke the kiss, nearly breathless. “Oh, God, you’re an amazing kisser, and you taste just as sweet as you look. I have wanted to kiss you for two years, and I am not the least bit disappointed in the result!”

“I sure hope you don’t wait two more years to do it again!” Brad said with a giggle.

“Definitely not.” Nate leaned in for another kiss, but they were interrupted by the sound of Devon clearing his throat.

“I hate to interrupt the nerdy library sex, but Sky answered my text. He and David are on their way here. So you two might want to keep your clothes on a little while longer.”

Brad laughed. “Has it been that long for you that you confuse kissing with sex, Dev?”

Devon rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, dude.” Devon huffed out a laugh. “I like being a single pringle. Anyway, I’ll start organizing all our notes, so we’re ready for my brother and his werewolf boyfriend. Have you heard from Matt or Terrie yet?”

“Nothing yet. I hope he made out ok. That conversation could have gone bad. If he doesn’t text me soon, I’ll text him.” Brad said as the three boys walked back to the research table.

————————————————————————————————————

Terrie walked into the house and looked around for her father. Her search took her to his home office, where she finally found him. Terrie’s alert eyes noticed that her dad minimized whatever he was looking at when she walked into the room. “Hi, dad. I’m home. What’re you working on?”

“You’re home early. I didn’t expect to see you until curfew. Is everything alright?”

“No, dad. Nothing is alright.” Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Did you get anything back on Brad’s photos yet?”

“Why do you ask? Let me handle that. You don’t need to be concerned with it.”

“You’re wrong. I do need to be concerned. Brad was telling the truth. I’m sure of that now. The photos will prove it.”

The sheriff sighed. “What else has happened? Why do you say that you’re sure of it now?”

“You know something. You got the photos back, didn’t you, dad? I’ll tell you everything I know if you do the same.”

“Ok. It sounds like you’re involved already.” The sheriff opened the photos that he had been looking at when Terrie got home. “My forensic photographer friend emailed me these, and he asked me why I was trying to prank him with pics of a werewolf.”

“You know it’s not a prank, right?” Terrie asked.

“I’m getting there. It’s taking me a while, but I’m getting there. What do you know? What else has happened?”

Terrie stared at the photos of the blue-eyed werewolf, and then she looked over at her father. She pointed at the pictures. “That is most likely David Montana.”

The sheriff’s jaw dropped. “Tell me everything.” Terrie sighed and began telling her father everything that Matt had told her earlier and everything she had talked with Brad about the night before.

Ronnie shook his head in wonder. “So, there are two werewolves, and all the stories about the Carrier witch house are true. This… is unreal. And Matt is a witch? What about Nancy and Brad?”

“Not as far as anyone knows. Nancy and Brad aren’t in the direct bloodline, so they should be safe from the curse. Matt isn’t sure where the witch blood comes from yet. Who knows? This is all crazy, dad.”

The sheriff scratched his chin. “It is crazy, but if all this is true, then maybe all the stories are true. Do you know my deputy? Lilly Monroe?”

“Yeah. Lilly is nice. What about her?”

“Right after I hired her, she started asking a million questions about the town history. Now that I think about it, she moved to town and applied for the job right after the rumors started about the Carrier kid visiting the witch house. She tried to convince me to burn down the house. Let’s take a ride to the station. I think we should have a more in-depth talk with Lilly.”

“Do you think it’s best to get someone else involved?”
Ronnie shrugged. “If my hunch is right, she’s already involved. So we should know as much as possible.”

“Ok. I’m in. Let’s go.” Terrie said as father and daughter walked out of the house.

————————————————————————————————————

David and Skylar walked into the library, and Sky looked right at his little brother. “I can’t believe that I’m seeing you, of all people, in a library.”

Devon rolled his eyes. “We have a lot to talk about, big brother, but I’m sure that you know that already.” Devon’s eyes darted toward David.

David took Sky’s hand in his own. “Where is Matt? We may as well tell all these stories all at once. There’s no sense repeating everything multiple times.”

“I hoped Matt and Terrie would be here by now. Elias as well, I guess. This is all so unbelievable, David. I know we want to wait for everyone to get here, but I have to ask, do you know for sure? Are you a werewolf?” Brad asked.

“Yes. I do know for sure. I am a werewolf, and… I accidentally bit Sky. We’re not sure what that means yet, though.” Everyone started talking at once. Waiting for the rest of their friends went out the window as the five boys became lost in telling everything they knew and everything they had researched. It wasn’t for another hour that Brad’s phone alerted him to a text. Terrie was on her way to the library, but she was alone. Matt was at the witch house with Elias.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt knocked on the door, and it was answered by Eli’s foster mom. “Hello, can I… oh… you’re Eli’s friend, aren’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m Matt. Is Eli home?”

“Yes. Let me get him.” Before she could even turn around, Elias ran up behind her.

“Hey. Matt! Come on in.” Elias said with a grin.

Eli’s foster mom stepped aside, and Matt followed Elias up the stairs and into his bedroom. Eli spoke softly. “I just need to grab a couple of books to bring back to the other house. I think I found all the spells and ingredients that I will need to accomplish both things that we need to do.”

“Do you mean…” Matt’s eyes were wide and hopeful.

Elias grinned. “Yes. I don’t know if I’m capable of succeeding in either task, but I’m pretty sure I figured out how to remove the curse from you and bond you into my coven.”

Matt closed the bedroom door and then stepped in close to Elias. Matt’s blue eyes burned with desire as he stared deeply into Eli’s eyes. There’s a third experiment that we need to do today. One that I want to try before you cast any of your magic spells on me.” Matt smirked as he maneuvered Elias closer to the bed.

“What about… did you talk to… can I….” Elias stuttered out half sentences as he stared into Matt’s eyes.

“If your lips can’t form whole sentences, maybe I should find a better use for them.” Matt leaned in, and the two boys shared their first kiss. As the kiss deepened, Eli tried to take another step back but stumbled because his legs were already against his bed. As he fell, he clutched onto Matt’s shirt, pulling Matt down on top of him. Elias moaned into Matt’s mouth as he wrapped his legs around the other boy’s hips.

Matt pulled back and smiled down at Eli. “I hereby declare this experiment a complete success. Admittedly, I don’t have a ton of experience to compare it to, but that was easily the most amazing kiss of my life.”

Elias blushed. “It’s like you lit my whole body on fire. I hope this means that you want to be with me?”

“There’s a lot we have to talk about, but there’s one thing for sure, I never want to be without you ever again. I crave your touch like it’s a drug.”

Eli pulled Matt into another fiery kiss then pulled away. “I could lay here and kiss you forever… and do so much more, but we have things that we need to do before dark. With any luck, we can help your brother before the change hits him tonight.”

Matt rolled off of Elias. “It is getting late. It’s good that one of us was thinking with their big head.” Matt huffed out a laugh.

Elias giggled and sat up on the edge of the bed. “Being near you makes all this scary stuff a little easier to deal with.”

“I feel the exact same way.”

Eli grabbed his backpack and led Matt out of the room. At the bottom of the stairs, he poked his head into the living room. “Hey, Judy. Matt and I are going for a walk. I probably won’t be home until late.”

“Just make sure you get in before curfew, Elias,” Judy said.

“I will. Thanks. Bye!” The two boys left the house and walked toward the witch house.

————————————————————————————————————

 Terrie stood in the corner of her father’s office and listened intently as her dad talked to Deputy Lilly Monroe. “So, you haven’t found any hard evidence about the Carrier boy, have you, Lilly?”

“You sound like you are a lot closer to believing me, Ronnie. What do you know?” Lilly’s eyes darted to Terrie and then back to Ronnie.

“Let’s just say that my mind is open to possibilities now.”

“You know that there are no bears in the middle of town, right, Ronnie?”

“Witchcraft didn’t kill those kids either. What do you think did it if not bears?”

“You know the stories, and I can see that you know something of what’s happening now. First, the boy reopened the Carrier house, then the Montana family bloodline returned to town. It was after those events that people started dying, Sheriff. Dark supernatural forces are at work in Roxbury Falls. If the sheriff’s department can’t stop it, I know people who can.”

“Lilly, give me time to wrap my head around all this. Then, bring me your evidence, and we’ll work together. Don’t bring in outsiders.”

“If there are any more deaths, others will come. That is unavoidable. I will try my best to work with you to regain control of your town.” Lilly looked at Terrie. “I have seen you with the younger Montana boy. If you find things getting weird or out of control, come to me. I will help you.” Lilly nodded to both Ronnie and Terrie and then left the office.

Terrie and her dad both looked at each other after Lilly left the office. Terrie spoke first. “Thank you for not giving her any details of what I told you. I don’t think she would care if they are killers or not. Her opinion appears to be that all supernatural beings are evil.”

Ronnie nodded. “If David is a killer, you realize that I won’t be able to protect him. I won’t want to protect him, and I won’t be able to arrest him. We would have to involve Lilly and her friends.”

Terrie frowned. I’m meeting all the guys at the library this afternoon. I promise I’ll keep you in the loop. Please don’t involve Lilly until I talk to you again.”

“I expect you to keep that promise, and I will promise in return that I won’t get Lilly involved. Of course, if there’s another death tonight, she may get involved whether we want her to or not.”

Terrie shot off a text to Brad and then spoke to her father again. “I might be out late, dad, but I will be in before curfew. I promise.”

“Be careful, Terrie,” Ronnie yelled as his daughter nearly ran out of the police station.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt sat at the kitchen table in the house that he thought of as Eli’s house instead of the witch house. He watched Eli’s lithe form dart back and forth across the kitchen. The rich earthy aroma of herbs filled Matt’s nostrils as he inhaled deeply. “Are you cooking me dinner or casting a spell? The kitchen smells amazing!”

“Both,” Elias smirked. “The spell first, though.”

“Can I eat it? I’m starved!”

Eli rolled his eyes. “I’ll make sure you get fed. I have no idea how your body will react to the spell, and I don’t want you to puke on me.” Eli laughed.

“Gee, thanks! Are we ready?”

“I think so,” Elias said. “Huge disclaimer. I’ve read about these big spells that include herbs and potions, but I’ve never actually cast any. The biggest things I’ve done are all the protection spells around the house. So you’re going to be my guinea pig.” Eli huffed out a laugh.

Matt arched an eyebrow. “What’s the worst-case scenario if this goes wrong?”

Eli got a serious look on his face. “From my research, I am relatively certain that if I do this wrong, nothing at all will happen. If something does happen, I’ve done it right. I don’t know. What I think will happen is that the dark magic will be expelled from your body. What does that mean? Again, I’m not sure.” Eli shrugged. “Do you still want to go through with this?”

“Absolutely one hundred percent yes. WE know what’s happening with my brother. I’m willing to take my chances with the unknown to help him. But, doing nothing is not an option.”

Elias pushed Matt’s chair away from the table and straddled his lap. Eli ran his fingers through Matt’s thick dark hair as he stared down into his eyes. “You have the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen. I would die before I ever did anything to hurt you. I will be careful. I will do everything exactly right. I made you a promise last night that you would not lose your brother. I mean to keep that promise, and the first step is cleansing you of dark magic.”

“What do you need me to do?”

Eli’s fingertips slid across Matt’s face and down his neck, finally coming to rest on his shoulders. Elias smirked. “The first thing you need to do is follow me into the bathroom and take off all your clothes.”

Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “What kind of spell is this?!”

Elias laughed. “I knew you would immediately think naughty thoughts. These herbs,” He motioned toward the kitchen counters. “Will go into a cleansing bath. The magic should draw the darkness out of you and into the water.”

“Oh! Ok! That makes sense.” Matt blushed. “It will be weird to be naked in front of you and not have it be naughty, though,” Matt smirked.

“We might get naughty later. Who knows?” Eli waggled his eyebrows, then turned away from Matt and collected all his bottles and bowls of herbs. Eli led Matt down the hall and into the bathroom.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12

David let the hot water cascade over his body. He watched the shampoo and soap mix with the reddish-brown water as it all swirled down the drain. He wracked his brain trying to remember where he had been tonight. His last clear memory was of Sky. They’d had dinner and then they went to the park and then… what? Had he hurt Sky? He couldn’t remember. Texting Sky would be the first thing he did when he was out of the shower.

Three nights, three blackouts, and three times waking up covered in blood. Matt’s idea was ridiculous and impossible, but it was also the idea that ran through his own head. Skylar told him not to think that until all other possibilities were ruled out. It looked like that time was now. A werewolf. Was it too late to convince Matt that he was just trying to fit his own nightmares into David’s reality? How much did Matt know? He’d have to have a long talk with Matt when he got out of the shower. He just couldn’t have that conversation standing there naked and covered in blood.

David stepped out of the shower and toweled himself dry. He slipped on a pair of sweats and went back into his room to talk to his brother.

—————————————————————————

As soon as David closed the door, Matt leaped to his feet. “David, you have to listen to me. I never told Brad that the wolf in my dream had blue eyes and now he says he has seen a blue-eyed werewolf and has pictures of it! And I know that it was a wolf and not a dog that bit you in the backyard. Add that in connection with what’s been happening with you and how can it be anything else?”

“Matt, werewolves don’t exist outside of stories. I can’t explain my lost time, and yes, I am very concerned about waking up covered in blood. But a werewolf? Come on.” David sat on his bed while Matt paced back and forth in front of him.

Mat stopped directly in front of David and held up both hands clenched into fists. He raised one finger with each point he made. “Gramps’s stories. My dreams. The wolf biting you. Your lost memories. The blood. The animal attacks in the park. And Brad seeing the blue-eyed werewolf.” Matt shook seven fingers in front of his brother’s face. “What more proof do you need, David?”

“I…” David sighed. “Ok. I have considered it. I’ve even talked it over with Skylar. I didn’t want to worry you. There has to be another more rational explanation.”

David sighed and looked up at his brother. “Stay with me tomorrow night. Record me all night. Brad too. Even if I’m not a werewolf, I may be dangerous in my sleep. The blood worries me most of all. Especially with the deaths in the park. I don’t want to believe that I’m responsible, but I guess we have to be sure. Will you do that for me? You and Brad record me all night?”

“Of course, I will, David. It’s kind of scary. We should do it somewhere else though. Not here. Somewhere safe just in case I’m right. Don’t you agree?” Matt asked.

“Yeah. I’ll meet you guys at the abandoned warehouse down by the school at six. Okay?” David ran a hand through his still damp hair, concern evident on his face.

Matt’s brow furrowed while he considered the meeting place. “That’s as good a place as any I guess.” Matt glanced at the clock. “It’s almost morning. Thank God it’s Saturday or it would be almost time for school. I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you in a few hours, David. Try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.” Matt turned and left the room.

David flicked off his light and lay down on his bed. He stared at the ceiling and thought about everything his brother told him. He was anxious to see the photos that Brad took, even if they were super blurry. David did not want to even consider the possibility that he was a werewolf. Not only was it ridiculous, but if it was true, then that meant that he had killed two or, more probably, three people. That was just unthinkable. There had to be another explanation.

Considering the hour, he doubted that Sky would be awake, but he couldn’t fall asleep without sending his boyfriend a text. He was just too afraid that he possibly hurt Sky. He knew he would never be able to live with himself if that happened. He didn’t expect an immediate response, but he sent it anyway.

David: Hey. I need to hear from you as soon as you get this. I don’t care what time it is. I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            had another blackout. The same thing happened. I woke up the same way again.                                                                                                                           My brother found me this time. Please call. The last thing I remember is I was                                                                                                                                             with you. I hope I didn’t do anything to you, Sky. I love you.

David set his phone on the nightstand and closed his eyes. He tossed and turned, trying to force himself to fall asleep. He nearly jumped out of bed when the text alert on his phone notified him of a new text message. He glanced at it. The message was from Sky.

Sky: I’m ok. I haven’t been able to sleep all night, though. I’m not hurt, but there is a lot                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   that we have to talk about. I’ll be over your house in a few hours. Try and get some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             sleep. I’ll text you when I’m on my way. Good night, David. Or morning or whatever                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             it is. Haha. See you soon. I love you, too.

David could tell that something had happened, but at least Sky was ok, and he was coming over to talk. David closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

————————————————————————————————————

After Matt left his brother’s room, he went to his own room to try and sleep. Before drifting off, he sent Elias a text.

Matt: I just found David outside in the bushes. He was covered in blood, dirt, and what                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            looked like chicken feathers. We were right. He’s not ready to openly admit it, but                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   even he knows that something is seriously wrong. I guess he’s already been talking                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to Skylar about it. He’s had blackouts and memory loss three nights in a row. I have                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to see Terrie first, but I’ll meet up with you later for sure. Things are starting to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        happen quickly. More and more people are figuring this out. Brad has pics, but I                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 guess they are super blurry. I’ll see you soon. I miss your touch on my skin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Blushing emoji) (Heart emoji)

Less than a minute later, Matt’s phone beeped with a text alert from Eli.

Eli: Wow. Things are happening quicker than even I expected. We can’t let word of this                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        get out to the wrong people. We have to handle this ourselves. It’s almost morning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’ll just get up now and get to the research. I miss you, too. See you soon. (Hug emoji)

Matt put his phone back on the nightstand, turned over, and tried to sleep.

————————————————————————————————————

Fresh out of the shower and still fiddling with his hair, Matt went downstairs and into the kitchen. David was already sitting at the table, eating a bowl of cold cereal.

“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.

“She’s in her home office. I think she’s going to go pick up Brad soon.”

“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”

“Yeah. He was a little mysterious about it. I’m going to meet him in about an hour.”

“He was cryptic in his texts to me, also. He might have seen you transform. I know you’re not ready to admit what we both know you are yet, but too many pieces are falling into place. We have to decide what to do before the moon rises tonight.”

David sighed, his eyes downcast. “I know. I know. Let me talk to Sky, and then we will both meet up with you and discuss everything.”

“That sounds like a good plan. You talk to Sky, and I’ll find out exactly what Brad knows. I also have to meet up with Terrie and have a completely different kind of stressful conversation.”

“Everything ok, little brother? Trouble in paradise?”

“I…” Matt sighed, looked down, and blushed a deep scarlet. “I almost kissed Eli last night.”

“What?! I thought we always told each other everything. I didn’t know you were bi! What happened?”

Matt rolled his eyes. “You know I hate labels. I don’t think bisexual would fit me anyway. I’ve never been attracted to any other guy in that way. I mean I’m not afraid to admit that a guy is attractive, but I’ve never been interested in touching them or kissing them or whatever. There’s just something about Elias. The attraction is intense. He touched me and it felt like my whole body was on fire. I wanted him more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, more than I’ve ever wanted any girl, even more than I want Terrie. I guess, if you have to put a label on it, I’m pansexual more than bisexual. I want him because he is Elias, not because he is a guy.”

“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”

Matt shrugged. “I have to be honest with her. Hell, I don’t want to break up with her. I really like her a lot, but I really like Eli, too.”

“Good luck with that, little bro. I doubt that either one of them will let you date them both. I know I wouldn’t stay with Sky if he was dating someone else!”

“You’re probably right. I’m just going to talk with her, be honest, and tell her everything. I’ll see where things go from there. There’s other stuff that I need to tell you about Elias. He is deeply involved in all this werewolf and curse stuff. When I meet up with you and Sky later, I’ll tell you both at the same time. I might even bring him along.”

“It feels like we’re living in a movie. I can’t believe this is all real.”

“What movie are you boys living in now?” Aunt Nancy asked as she walked into the kitchen.

“Not sure what we’ll name it yet, but I’m ready to change the channel.” Matt quipped.

Nancy laughed. “Do either of you need to be dropped off anywhere? I’m heading over to the Hanson’s to pick up Bradley.”

Matt stood up. “I need to talk with Brad before I meet up with Terrie, so I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll just hang here and chill. I’m meeting Sky in an hour.” David said.

“How much trouble is Brad in?” Matt asked his aunt just as they pulled into the Hanson’s driveway.

Nancy’s expression grew thoughtful. “I’m not making a decision on that until I talk to the sheriff and see those alleged werewolf photos, but regardless, he’s in big trouble for running off and putting himself in danger without telling anyone.

“Such a crazy story.”

“People deal with tragedy in a lot of different ways.”

“I get that. So much has happened in the last six months. I can barely wrap my head around it.”

Nancy put a hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, I’ll listen. You know that, right?”

“Of course. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. Anyway, we’re here. Let’s go get him.” Matt smirked.

————————————————————————————————————

Matt knew he’d get more information from Brad alone, so, while Aunt Nancy marched straight into the den to talk to Sheriff Hanson and Brad, Matt snuck off into the kitchen to find Terrie.

Terrie jumped up from the table as soon as she saw Matt enter the room. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hey, you. I didn’t expect to see you for another couple of hours.”

“I came with Aunt Nancy to pick up Brad.” Matt rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even want to witness that reunion, though. I’m excited to hear about what he saw last night, but I’ll talk to him when we’re alone.”

Terrie huffed out a laugh. “You should have just waited for him at home then. Less chance of getting caught in the crossfire.”

“He texted me. He’s going to have her drop him off at the library. He plans to tell her it’s for a school assignment, but it’s for more werewolf research.”

“I still have a hard time believing that we’re seriously considering the possibility of werewolves. Did you find anything out from Elias last night?”

Matt couldn’t hold back from blushing. “I… yeah. A lot happened last night. We’ll talk at lunch. You’re still meeting me down by the lake at noon, right?”

She smiled up at him. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It’s our first real date.” She ran her fingers through his hair and pulled his face down to hers. Their lips met in a kiss that started tender and quickly turned passionate. The sound of someone clearing their throat from the kitchen doorway caused Matt and Terrie to separate and look guiltily toward the sound.

Brad stood there, grinning. “You ready to go, Matt, or do you need a condom and another twenty seconds?”

“Shut up, perv.” Matt rolled his eyes. “Ignore him, babe.” Matt said, turning back to Terrie. He leaned down for one more quick kiss and then left with his cousin.

————————————————————————————————————

“The library closes at three on Saturday. You better be home before three-thirty, Bradley.” Nancy said just before the boys got out of the car.

“Yes, mother. I’ll go straight home when I’m done with my research.”

The boys sat down on the front steps to the library, and they both sighed. Matt looked over at his cousin. “You didn’t just lie to your mom, did you?”

“Nope. I said I’d be home when I’m done with my research. I never mentioned the library or what type of research.”

“Clever. So, I have a lot of news to share, but I want to hear about your close encounter first. Do you have the photos with you, or did you leave them with the sheriff?”

“I gave my thumb drive to Sheriff Hanson, but you couldn’t see much anyway. Just a big brown blur with two little blue blurs for eyes. Let’s wait on the story until Nate and Devon get here, so I don’t have to tell the same story two or three times in a row.” Brad laughed.

“That’s fair.” Matt said with a grin. “I feel the same way about my news. We really need to get everyone together. So much is happening so fast.”

“It’s so crazy. I can’t believe it’s real.” Brad looked at his phone. “Nate and Devon should be here any minute.”

Just then, Devon walked around the corner and up onto the steps of the library. “Are you using my name in vain again, Holliday?” He smirked.

“Every chance I get. It’s about time you got here.”

“Looks like I beat your boyfriend here, so shut your face.” Devon’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “Hey, Matt, what’s up?”

Matt looked surprised. “Boyfriend?” His head swiveled from Devon to Brad and back again. “I thought I only missed updates on research. What’s this about a boyfriend?”

“He’s not my boyfriend. At least not yet.” Brad blushed.

“Who? Who isn’t your boyfriend yet? What did I miss?”

“Well, duh! He’s the only other person who isn’t here yet.” Brad rolled his eyes.

“You mentioned someone named Nate.” Matt shrugged. “Have I met him? Does he go to our school?”

“No. That’s true. You probably haven’t met him. So much has happened, it seems like you’ve been here forever, and not just a few days.”

“So? Who is he?”

“He’s the assistant librarian now. He’s older than us. He graduated last year.”

“Did you guys ever date? Were you friends? Two years older isn’t really that much.”

“I barely knew him. I mean, I knew who he was, but we weren’t close. Now shut up, here he comes!”

Nate walked up and smirked at the three boys waiting on the steps. “Gee, I’m not used to so many eager faces waiting to get into the library on a Saturday morning.” His gaze stopped on Matt. “You must be one of the Montana’s. Matt I’m guessing. I’m Nathan or Nate. I’ll answer to either.” He stuck out his hand toward Matt.

Matt shook the offered hand. “Nice to meet you. We were just talking about you. You are everything that I expected.” Matt winked.

Nate shot a look at Brad then grinned at Matt. “I hope you were only told good things.”

Brad piped in. “I barely had a chance to tell him your name before you showed up. He’s exaggerating as usual.”

Nate winked at Brad as he finished climbing the steps. “It’s good to know that I left enough of an impression to be talked about.” Then Nate unlocked and opened the library doors. The other boys followed Nate into the library, and they all settled in at the same table in the research room.

“I may need to be out front from time to time, but I should be able to help in here again, too. What books do you need me to find today?”

Brad spoke up. “Anything you have on werewolves. Specifically related to this area if there’s anything, but werewolves for sure. They exist. I saw it again last night. Possibly a different one, I’m not sure. I took pics, but they are super blurry. The sheriff might try and get them cleaned up for me.” Brad looked right at Matt. “Johnny Hanson was there. He saw it, too.”

“Sky came home from his date early last night, and he was acting weird. He went right to his room. Matt, how was David acting last night after he got home? Did they have a fight?” Devon asked.

Nate was practically jumping up and down. “You saw a werewolf again? Did it attack you? How did you get away?”

“Loud music and yelling. He ran off. I probably got lucky; I don’t know for sure. I think it was a different wolf than the other one that I saw, but I don’t want to believe that there’s one, much less two!”

Matt sighed. “There are two. The monster that bit my brother, and my brother himself.”

All eyes turned to Matt. Brad spoke first. “Do you know for a fact that David is a werewolf? Have you seen him change?”

“I haven’t seen him change, but I dreamt about it.”

“A dream? Come on, Matt, that isn’t proof!” Devon said.

“Elias helped guide my dream last night. It was very vivid. Then, later, I found David outside our house in the bushes. He was nearly naked and covered in blood and what looked like chicken feathers. I’d like to think that the blood was chicken blood, and that my brother isn’t eating people. We need to find out exactly what is going on, and we need to do it fast!”

“Elias was in your dreams?” Brad asked, one eyebrow arched.

Matt blushed. “You were right. I was blind. There’s… something more there. I hope that’s ok with you?” Matt said, looking pleadingly at Brad.

“Oh, wow. I figured that he liked you. I didn’t expect you’d like him back. Yeah, it’s fine with me. No big deal. Terrie might have a different take on it though.”

“I will be having that conversation with her today.” Matt said with a worried expression. “Anyway, I did find out a lot from Eli last night. The curse is real. Eli’s magic is real. That’s where you guys should focus your research, in my opinion. Try and find out as much as you can about the witches. Elias will do research at his house, but the town records and newspapers may say things about the witches that they wouldn’t say about themselves. Knowing both sides is always best.”

Devon looked totally confused. “You’re gay? And you like his ex?” Devon pointed at Brad when he said “his.”

“I am not gay, but I’m not straight. I’m dating Terrie Hanson, at least for now, but I do have strong feelings for Elias Carrier. Call me bi, call me pan, call me whatever you like. I hate labels. I like who I like. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for everyone.”

Nate stood and clapped. “Here, here! Great speech! Everyone should feel that way. I mean labels do sometimes make people comfortable, but if you don’t want a label, society shouldn’t force one on you.”

Matt cleared his throat. “Thanks, but right now the labels that matter are werewolf and witch. There’s a lot more that I need to share with you guys, but there’s also people missing that need to be told. It would be easier to tell everyone at once. For now, you guys research the witches. In particular the coven that lived here. If you happen to find anyone named MaryAnne Carrier, find everything that’s available. Eli’s ancestors were a big part of this. I’ll go have a talk with Terrie about everything. Obviously, I’ll have to talk to her about the Eli stuff, but also, the monster stuff. We need to find out if her father has found anything. I hope she’ll still help us after we talk. Hell, I hope she’ll still date me!”

Nate gave Matt a sympathetic look. “Figure out what you want,” he tapped Matt on the chest with one finger, “before you let other people’s decisions affect what you do.”

“I want them both, but I know that’s unrealistic.” Matt blushed.

“I wouldn’t agree to that, but hey, you never know!” Nate huffed out a laugh.

“I’ll cross all my fingers and toes.” Matt laughed. “Ok, I’m gonna take off. You guys get to the research, and I’ll try not to get murdered by my girlfriend.” He looked at Devon. “Sky was going to meet up with David. If you hear anything, let me know. I’ll do the same if I hear from David. Later we all have to meet up somewhere and share all of our various stories.”

“Definitely, dude. Call us if you wanna bring you girlfriend back here or your boyfriend or both or your brother or whatever!” Devon giggled hysterically.

“On that note, I’m outta here!” Matt said and turned and started toward the door.

“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.

Matt turned just before he was out the door. “Later, guys. Good luck with the research!”

————————————————————————————————————

David was nervous and pacing in the kitchen when he heard the soft knock on the door. He raced over and yanked the door open. “Sky! David wrapped his arms around Skylar. “I’m so happy to see you! What happened last night?”

Sky hugged David tight, and then he stepped back. He looked at David with a worried expression. “You don’t remember anything?”

“It’s just like the two nights before. I only remember up until a certain point and then nothing. The last thing that I remember, I was with you. That’s why I was so worried and texted you.”

“You were with me. I know what happened. I know why you are losing time. Our worst-case scenario is true, David, you’re a werewolf!”

David slumped into a chair and took a long drink of water. “I kinda knew. We both did. I guess there’s no denying it now.”

Sky huffed out a laugh. “No. You can’t deny it now. Not only did I witness the transformation, but you also bit me!”

“I bit you? I thought you said you were ok. Sky, I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine. At first, I thought you were being a little too aggressive. You barely drew blood. We were kissing, and you bit my lip. I pushed you backward, and I was going to scold you for being too rough, but then I saw you transform. It was scary as hell!”

“I can never apologize enough. I don’t think Hallmark has a “I’m sorry I turned into a werewolf and bit my boyfriend” card. Now I guess I have to worry even more that I may have killed people.”

Sky sighed. “Even after seeing you change; I just don’t think that you would kill anyone no matter what form you were in. Have you checked out the news yet today? We know about the deaths from the other two nights, we should find out if there’s anything else today.”

The two boys walked into the family room and turned on the tv. They sat on the couch, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. They sat like that for a few minutes, not speaking, just watching the local news reports. David nervously drummed his fingers on his thigh and kept casting furtive glances at Skylar. Sky smiled and turned toward David then clasped David’s hand within his own. “It’s ok. I’m fine. We’re fine. I know you didn’t mean me any harm.”

“I could have hurt you, though. I could have killed you.”

“I honestly don’t think you would have. You said that your brother found you this time. Was there anything else different? Did Matt notice anything that you didn’t?”

He found me outside in the bushes underneath my bedroom window, so that was different. He also said that Brad took blurry photos of a blue-eyed werewolf. I guess people are starting to piece things together. I’m really scared, Sky. The only relatively positive thing that I’m holding onto right now is that this time, even though I was covered in blood again, there were lots of feathers around. Matt and I think they were chicken feathers. We hope that the blood was also from chickens.”

“See! It’s still possible that I’m right. Maybe all three nights all you did was raid farms and kill animals.”

“I guess so. We can hope. Hey, wait a minute. Let’s listen to this. The sheriff is on tv.”

The boys listened to Sheriff Hanson talk to the local news. He was standing in front of the park which was almost completely roped off with yellow crime scene tape now. The sheriff looked into the camera and began to speak. “Citizens of Roxbury Falls, it is with a heavy heart that I am speaking to you today. For the third night in a row there has been a vicious animal attack in the park. A third teenager is dead. For now, we are not releasing any names. We are giving the families time to grieve. I am extending the 8pm curfew indefinitely. We believe that there is a rogue bear coming into the park at night to hunt. We ask that you do not go and hunt this animal yourselves. We are searching for the bear, and we are confident that it will be found and destroyed very soon. If you spot a bear, or anything else suspicious, please report it to the sheriff’s office immediately. Thank you for your time.” The sheriff turned, ducked under the crime scene tape, and walked into the park.

“A third teenager is dead! There was an attack last night. What if it was me, Sky? What if it really was me?”

“You said that Matt has more information, and Brad has photographs, why don’t we chill here and try not to think about it until we hear from them. My brother is with Brad at the library, so I’m guessing that he’s in on the research. There’s more than just the two of us to figure this out, David. We’ll help you get through this.”

“Matt has been talking to some kid named Elias about this, too. I guess his family is also tied in with the story of the curse. A week ago, I would have laughed at the idea of a witch, but, hell, now I’m a werewolf. Witches probably exist, too.”

Sky pulled David in close and gave him a quick, tender kiss. “Let’s ‘Netflix and chill’ until they text us.”

David smiled for the first time since the new report. “That is a fantastic idea.” David slid his arm around Sky’s waist and snuggled in close to his boyfriend.

Sky leaned down and softly kissed the top of David’s head. “We will figure this out, babe. I promise.”

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.

————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————-

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.

—————————————————

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?”

———————————————————————

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

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

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

——————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————

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

“Any luck yet, Matt?” Nancy asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

———————————————————————

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 (Chapter 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.