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 Devil’s son died, on his birthday, June sixth, two thousand six, he was six years old. The only problem is, he didn’t stay dead. Now, he can feel the power growing inside him. His eighteenth birthday is fast approaching. He sent out the invitations. All the important people in his life will come. After he massacres them, the power will be his. His father promised.
“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.”
“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.”
“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?
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 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.