The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 17)

Chapter 17

Terrie exhaled and began the spell. “Sanguis venande invocavite. Sanguinem autem ejus de venator defendat. Sanguis enim venator covina praesidio!”

Terrie felt a tingling sensation all over her body, which soon dissipated. She looked at Eli and nodded. Eli lifted the ceremonial dagger off the table, proceeded to slice open the palm of his right hand, and did the same to Matt’s left palm. Elias handed the knife to Terrie, and she cut open both of her palms. Terrie stood between the two boys, and they joined hands. All three chanted the words to the bonding spell in unison. A wave of energy spread outward from the circle. Terrie’s jaw dropped. “Wow. It’s not that I can read your minds, but I can feel both of you in the back of my head. It’s an image of what you are feeling. It’s so clear that I can tell which of you is which.” She looked at Matt. “Stop worrying about everything. We’re going to figure this out.”

Eli grinned. “That’s what I’ve been telling him.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “If it’s always going to be two against one, I may back out of this… whatever we call this relationship.”

“I believe the trendy name is throuple.” Nate quipped. “But I think you guys are beyond labels once you add in the supernatural connection.”

“I’ve never liked labels, even when I thought I was straight,” Matt said.

“Society always wants to label everything. You guys just ignore all the bull and keep being who you are. All three of you are very special to me.” Brad said.

Elias quirked an eyebrow. “You’ve changed, Bradley, in good ways. I approve of the more mature and wiser Bradley 2.0.”

Brad blushed. “I’d like to think that I was changing on my own, but all of this,” Brad motioned around them. “Was bound to change us all.”

Eli shrugged. “Point taken, but some people would have been changed for the worse. You have changed for the better. Nathan is a lucky guy.”

“So is Matt.” Brad grinned.

Eli smiled. “Ok, Terrie, what’s next?”

“We go to Lilly’s cabin,” Terrie said to Elias. “While Matt, Brad, and Nate finish preparing the curse breaker and wolf charm spells.”

Eli handed a spell book to Matt. “The two pages are marked. Gather and separate the ingredients. Don’t mix anything until I get back. I should be gone less than an hour if all goes well.”

Matt took the book and turned toward Brad and Nate. “Ok, boys, let’s get to work.”

Sky kicked at the gravel path as he walked next to David. “There was nothing out of the ordinary at either of those houses. Are we wasting our time checking out the third one?” Then, Sky’s nostrils flared as if on cue, and his eyes opened wide. “Do you smell that?” He nearly growled.

“I don’t smell… hey! Slow down! Hey!” David yelled as Sky was running and pulling David along behind him. David managed to pull Sky to a stop before he entered the backyard of the house they were approaching. When Sky turned to face David, David’s eyes went wide. “Skylar! You need to calm down. Talk to me. What do you smell? What are you feeling right now?”

“What am I feeling? I’m feeling angry and powerful. Can’t you smell that? I smell everything, but from that house, I smell wolf and blood and fear and death.”

“Babe, look at your hands.”

“What the hell? Why do I have claws?”

“You also have fangs. You need to calm down and get yourself under control. Elias said that you might be able to change at will even in daylight because you aren’t cursed. At will is the key. Right now, your emotions are in charge. Take control of your mind and body, Sky.”

Skylar knelt and bowed his head, then took deep, calming breaths. He watched in amazement as his claws retracted. Sky felt his teeth and found the fangs were gone. He looked up at his boyfriend. “That was intense. When we are somewhere safe, I will try and do that on purpose.”

“You should also try preventing the change tonight. If we can control when we change and remember what we do as wolves, we might be able to get a handle on this.”

“Good idea.” Sky nodded toward the cabin. “We know where he lives. What should we do? Should we try and take him down right now or proceed with Eli’s plan?”

“Let’s go back and consult with Elias. We don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m still cursed, so I can’t change in daylight. You don’t have control of what you can do. If he can do what you do but controls it, we may fight against a werewolf while we’re human. There are too many unknowns. Let Eli trap this guy with magic, and then we can decide how to deal with him from there.”

“Ok. Let’s go. Hopefully, Elias has the spells ready to break your curse and trap this guy. We still have tons to do today, and it is already afternoon.” With one last look at the cabin in the woods, the two boys turned and started walking quickly toward the Carrier house.

Elias and Terrie stopped inside the tree line and looked down the hillside at Lilly Monroe’s house. “Are you sure Lilly is with your dad at the police station?” Eli asked for the sixth time.

“Yes, Eli. I even texted my dad again just to check. She is there.”

Eli stepped into the open and raised his arms. “Quae latebat claustra reveletur. Nune ponite insidias quae volebat. Patere nos omnia pericula sine limite.”

The air between them and the house shimmered with light, and there was a strong sulfur smell. Then, the light and the odor vanished. Terrie looked quizzically at Elias. “Did it work? What exactly did you say?”

Elias shrugged. “I hope it worked. A loose English translation would be ‘Barriers which were hidden now be revealed. Traps that were set now be sprung. Let the path before us be clear of all dangers.’”

Terrie nodded. “I like the wording. I guess we proceed cautiously and find out if it worked.”

“I wish I could say there’s a way to know for sure, but if there is, I haven’t learned it. If I knew what she did, I could have a better plan, but we don’t know, so proceed with extreme caution.” Eli said as the two started walking toward the house.

They got to the front porch unharmed and without setting off any alarms, at least none they knew. Eli reached for the doorknob, but Terrie grabbed his wrist and stopped him. “I think it would be safer for me to go in alone.” She said. “You got me this far, but we already know that she had one barrier in place inside that only a hunter could pass through. Who knows what else she’s done?”

 “Isn’t that why you asked me to come? To help you get through the barriers?”

“Outside the house, yes. When I was with Lilly, she kept me close to her while we were outside and let me roam free once we entered the house. I suspect there may be anti-witch traps inside. I do, however, have one more task for you.”

Eli cocked his head to one side. “How else can I assist?”

Terrie pointed to the right of the door. “I can pick locks and walk past magic barriers, but I don’t think I can fool that. She used her thumbprint and a retina scan to unlock the house.”

“Neither can I,” Eli mumbled as he knelt in front of the keypad. “Did she also use the keypad?”

“Yes. Is there anything you can do?”

“I’m no hacker. I can get you inside the house using magic. Still, if she has cast anti-magic spells to secure her alarm system, I can’t guarantee you’ll get in unannounced.”

“Do it. Get me in the house. After I’m inside, go home. It’s already well past noon, so the boys should be back at your house. I can finish this on my own. You are needed there to cast your spells before moonrise.”

“I hate leaving you here, but you’re right.” Eli shook his head. “Matt will kill me when I get home without you, but he’ll understand.”

“Do your thing, magic man.” Terrie grinned.

Elias stood up. “Averte virtutem.” The keypad and the retina scanner shut down. “Aperi ianuam.” The front door swung open. “Enter at your own risk.” Elias huffed out a laugh.

“Get home. The boys need you more than I do.” Terrie said.

“As long as Matt doesn’t kill me.” Eli grinned, then turned, leaving Terrie alone as she stepped cautiously into the house.

Elias saw David and Skylar enter his house as he crossed the lawn toward the kitchen door. Eli walked into the house and was met by the pungent aroma of fresh-cut herbs. He smiled as Matt walked toward him, but then the other boy stopped in his tracks and scowled.

“Where’s Terrie?” Matt asked.

Eli sighed. “She’s still at Lilly’s house. There was no way I could get in, so she sent me back here to do the curse breaker spell and prepare the werewolf charms.”

“You promised that you’d keep her safe, Eli.” Matt frowned.

“I did everything I could, Matt. I got her past all the barriers and traps in the yard and disabled the door alarms. When the front door swung open, she insisted I come back here and do what needs to be done.”

“We’d sense if she was in danger, right?”

“I think we would. I’ve never done this before, Matt. I’m learning on the fly. We don’t have time for proper training. Everything is happening too fast.”

“I understand.” Matt wrapped his arms around Elias. “I think I have everything ready for you, babe.”

Elias looked deeply into Matt’s blue eyes. “I wouldn’t have left her if I thought she was in danger, Matt.”

Matt leaned in, and their lips met in a tender kiss. “I know.”

A voice from behind them startled the two boys. “Before you two start making out, can we uncurse my boyfriend? Uh, wait, is uncurse a word?”

Elias and Matt stepped apart, and Eli looked over at Skylar. “We weren’t making out, and yes, uncurse is a word. Also, yes, we can start the process of uncursing David. Let me gather everything, and you and David meet me in the dining room.”

Matt helped Eli carry all the herbs and potions, except for the wolfsbane, into the dining room. Matt spread all the items on the table, looked at Eli, and smirked. “Does David have to get naked like I did, or was that a special stipulation for me only?”

David’s eyes went wide. “Wait, what? Naked? What exactly is going to happen?”

“We will talk all that out before we begin the spell, and, no, you don’t have to be naked. The spell will be drastically different from the one I did on Matt. The curse is affecting you in a much different way than it was affecting your brother.” Eli said.

Sky leaned forward. “What about the charms and traps we have planned for the grey wolf? We are ninety-nine percent sure we know who he is and where he lives if that will help.”

I’ve picked out an area that I want to lure him to. It will definitely help to know where he lives, but we still don’t know if he transforms at his house. I can cast multiple charm spells near the home and in the areas where he has been most active. Once the spells are in place, I’ll explain what I need everyone to do. Hopefully, by the end of today, David will no longer be cursed, and the grey wolf will be in the sheriff’s custody.” Eli said.

“Will a regular jail hold a werewolf? Do we want the world to find out that werewolves exist? Wouldn’t that put all of us in danger?” Sky asked.

“I haven’t solved those problems yet. I’m not sure I can murder a living being despite this person’s actions as a werewolf. The sheriff knows everything. I hope he has his own ideas on handling the grey wolf.” Elias said.

David shrugged. “One step at a time. What do we need to do for the curse breaker spell?”

Eli took a deep breath. “Brad, take Nate and Devon into the kitchen. You guys cut the wolfsbane exactly like I showed you. Sky, you can stay here, but do not touch David while I do the spell, even if it looks like he’s in distress. I’m not sure what would happen. Ok?”

“Got it. I’ll be here if you need me, but I won’t interfere unless you give the go-ahead.” Sky said.

Elias nodded. “Matt, sit across from your brother. I’ve written the spell down. Repeat it with me. You might feel tired once we begin. That will be from me drawing power from you. We talked about that. I need your strength, Matt. I can’t do this without you.” Elias looked back at David. “As far as the spell itself, I’ve set up these bowls of herbs.” He lit three of the bowls on fire. “These will burn like incense.” Eli handed a coffee mug to David. “Drink this.”

David made a face. “I hope this doesn’t taste as bad as it smells!”

Elias chuckled and set a second mug on the table next to the first one. “This one smells even worse.”

“This better work.” David frowned.

“I’ve had good results so far.” Eli shrugged. “Are we ready to start?” They all nodded. “The closest English translation to this spell is as follows: Dark magic release. Werewolf is strong. Nature magic is cleansed. Let this cursed wolf be free. The wolf shall be free. The curse shall be broken. This I command.” Elias looked at Matt. “Let’s begin.”

Elias and Matt started chanting in unison. “Tenebris magicaeest abiit. Versepellem volebit. Mundandus magicae naturae. Et lupus maledictam esse liberum. Lupus ad liberum erit. Maledictionem conteratur. Lubeo fiet.”

Matt slumped forward, and David’s body went rigid and then convulsed. Elias took one of Matt’s hands and placed his other hand on David’s forehead. Eli repeated the spell. The bodies of both Montana boys shook, then a dark cloudy mist rose out of David’s body. The cloud grew and swirled around the room.

Elias pointed at the swirling cloud and shouted, “Dispello!” And then he collapsed onto the floor.

Sky leaped to his feet and rushed to Eli’s side. Sky frantically looked from Elias to David to Matt. All three boys were unconscious. “Devon! Brad! Nate! I need you in here!”

“What happened?” Brad asked.

“After Eli and Matt did the spell, a black mist rose out of David, and then they all collapsed.” Sky said. “One of you, get some cold, wet facecloths from the kitchen.” Sky pulled Elias to his feet and set him in one of the chairs. Devon brought the wet cloths and placed them gently on the three unconscious boys’ foreheads. In a few minutes, all three began to wake up.

“That was intense. Did it work?” Matt asked.

David leaned against Sky. “I felt weird for a while. When you guys were chanting, my body felt tingly. Then it felt like my insides were being ripped through the pores of my skin. Finally, I felt exhausted, and I passed out.”

Sky wrapped an arm around David’s waist. “A freaky black cloud rose out of your skin and eyes. I’m not surprised by how you describe the feeling, babe. I’d like to say that it was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, but we’re werewolves, so I don’t know. Par for the course, I guess?”

Elias still held his head in his hands but finally spoke. “I think it worked. We’ll know for sure after you change tonight, or rather after you change back in the morning and tell us if anything was different.”

“Can you tell anything from my aura?” David asked.

“Good idea. I should have thought of that.” Eli said. “Aurae apparuistis.” Eli stared intently at David, then at Sky, then back at David. “It does look different than it did before. Your aura is now yellow, silver, and blue. The black and grey that were clouding it are gone. I think the curse has been removed.”

Matt moved around the table and squeezed in next to Elias. “You’re doing awesome with all these spells, babe. What do we do next?”

“Next, we set the traps for the killer wolf,” Eli said as he stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

Terrie made her way to the basement of the hunter’s cabin without tripping any traps or setting off any alarms., at least as far as she knew. She decided it would be best to avoid the bookshelves where she encountered the barrier last time. Who knows if that would alert Lilly to her presence? Books weren’t what Terrie was looking for this time around. She passed by the cabinet with the wooden stakes and other anti-vampire weapons. Terrie bypassed the charms to protect against witches and warlocks. Finally, she found what she was looking for.

Terrie examined the glass case in front of her. There was no way for her to be sure if there were any magical alarms on it, but now that she was this close, there was no way she would leave without the silver sword. Terrie took the sword out of the case. She was surprised by how light it felt in her hand. She prayed that it would have enough weight for the task she planned for this sword. With her prize in hand, Terrie opened her backpack and started filling it with an assortment of necklaces, rings, and medallions from other tables and glass cases in the room. Terrie focused on the items she believed were most important to werewolves and witches. This may be her only chance to pillage the hunter’s cabin, so she wanted as much as she could carry.

Terrie heard a noise from the room above, footsteps. She went to the top of the staircase and listened until the footsteps faded. Whoever was there ascended the stairs to the second floor. Lilly must have come home. Terrie cursed herself for taking too long in the basement. She opened the basement door and stepped into the kitchen as quietly as possible. Terrie stealthily made her way to the front door.

Taking a chance that the alarm was off, Terrie exited the house and broke into a run. When Terrie reached the tree line, she heard shouting. Terrie turned and saw Lilly standing on the front porch. Terrie turned, ran off into the trees, and didn’t stop until she was back at Carrier House.

Matt stood on top of a small hill and surveyed the scene around him. Elias picked the best place to fight the grey wolf. Old Hickory Lane was the only road in sight. The road came up the hill’s south side, crossed the clearing, and disappeared into the trees to the north. The other significant feature was the bike path that crossed Old Hickory Lane from east to west. The bike path led into Roxbury Park, traveling east, and ran past the house that belonged to Christopher Parker, the grey werewolf.

After David and Sky identified the house, finding information on the homeowner didn’t take much research. Matt compiled all their research and composed a draft of an email that he would send to Sheriff Hanson just before moonrise. After he sent the email, Matt would text the sheriff to ensure the email was received and read. The sheriff would be informed of not just Parker’s information but also of the plans to capture the grey wolf. Hopefully, Sheriff Hanson would devise a plan to keep Christopher Parker, and his wolf locked up. The boys, so far, had not come up with any ideas.

Matt looked at Elias. “The charms have been placed, and I’ve memorized the spells that we might need. I have to say that I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. We are intentionally trying to lure a murderous werewolf to us. We plan to trap it using spells that we haven’t even been able to test to see if they work correctly.”

Eli took both of Matt’s hands in his. “Those are all valid points. I’m scared, too. Everything that we’ve done so far has worked perfectly. I’m confident we can continue that streak.”

Devon shrugged. “Not to be the Devil’s Advocate, but one could say that because everything has worked perfectly so far, your luck is due to run out.”

“Elias isn’t relying on luck, Devon. Look at what he’s accomplished with Matt and David. Have faith, little brother. The grey wolf is going down.” Sky interjected.

“The moon will start to rise in less than an hour. I can already feel its power. Do you want me and Skylar to stay here or go to the warehouse, Eli? You might need us if you can’t contain Parker, but we still don’t know how much we will be able to control our wolves. We might be a help, or we might add to the chaos.” David said.

“I want you both here in case our spells fail. We need to take the chance that you will have at least as much control as Sky did last night.” Elias said.

“I agree with Eli. I remember everything from last night. It was a conscious decision to do what I did to calm you, David. I acted to keep you safe from hurting yourself against the cage. Plus, it was fun.” Sky grinned. “If you are cured, I think we’d be more useful here than locked in a cage.” Sky said.

Brad spoke next. “What about me, Nathan, and Devon? Don’t even try and tell us to leave. We’re all in this thing until the end.”

Eli smirked. “I knew you’d say that.” He looked at Nate and Devon. “Do you both agree with what Brad said? If either of you wants to leave, this is your last chance.”

“Count me in. I’m not leaving my brother or any of you guys.” Devon said.

“There’s no way I’m leaving. I’ve dreamt of being involved in something like this my entire life.” Nate said.

“It’s not a game or a horror novel, Nathan. If you stay, I have an important task for you.” Elias said.

“Sorry. I know it’s serious. I’m in. What do you need me to do?” Nate said.

Eli tossed his backpack to Brad. “Inside my backpack is all the wolfsbane that you guys cut up. Split it between you three. Once the wolf is here, spread the wolfsbane in a circle around the clearing, then light it on fire. Even if Parker breaks free from my spells, he won’t cross the line of burning wolfsbane.” Elias looked at David and Sky. “Stay near the center of the clearing once they light the fire. It shouldn’t harm you if you don’t inhale the smoke.”

“I understand. Hopefully, we have enough control to remember and stay away.” David said.

Sky grabbed David’s arm and leaned against his boyfriend. Sky’s voice was deeper, almost like a growl. “We’re going to find out soon. I feel the wolf stirring inside me. I’m trying to hold him back, but I’m not sure I can.”

David’s eyes were wide with wonder. “The other nights I changed, I blacked out from the pain. This is different. Sky is right. I feel the wolf inside like a separate being trying to break free from confinement. It… he…. I want to howl and run free under the full moon’s light!”

Eli’s eyes lit up, and he looked at Matt. “If these two are feeling the change, Parker must be, too. Get ready!”

Brad tore open the backpack and handed Ziplock bags to Devon and Nate. “Spread out, guys. As soon as we see this freak, get ready to work!”

Then, they heard a bone-chilling howl, and the grey werewolf stepped out of the trees and started walking up the hill.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 11)

Chapter 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————

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 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.