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 16)

Chapter 16

Nancy Holliday stared down at the two boys asleep on her couch. She shook her head and smiled. They found a loophole, like all teenagers eventually will. She told them they couldn’t sleep in the same bedroom, so instead, they slept on the couch. At least they were both still dressed! Nancy used the remote to turn on the tv. The two boys jumped and nearly fell off the couch.

Brad ran a hand through his strawberry blonde locks and yawned as he reached for his glasses. “Did you have to turn that on so loud, mom?”

“If you were sleeping in your own bed, you wouldn’t have heard it.” Nancy arched one eyebrow.

Brad grinned but blushed at his mother’s words. “We did not break your rule.”

“I know you didn’t. I didn’t raise a dummy.”

“Wait! Shh! Shh! The sheriff is on tv!” Nate yelled.

Nancy and the two boys listened in horror as Sheriff Hanson reported the fourth death in the park. It was a teenager, another friend of Brad’s. His name was Justin Thomas. “I’ll make a quick breakfast before I go to the park and talk to the sheriff. I’m afraid to ask what you boys will be up to today.”

Brad looked up from his phone. “I can happily confirm that David and Skylar were not in the park last night, which adds to my certainty that David isn’t responsible for any of the deaths.”

“That’s good news, but we have to find the responsible person. You boys keep doing whatever you’re doing, and I will track the crime scenes like I do for any other murders. You track the wolf; I’ll track the man.”

“That’s brilliant, mom. Sheriff Hanson is doing the same thing. Maybe one of us will get lucky.” Just then, there was a knock on the door. “Who’s here this early?” Brad asked as he jumped up and raced to the door.

Brad walked back into the living room with Terrie Hanson. “Add one more for breakfast, mom,” Brad said.

Terrie grinned at Nate. “I was going to say that you got here even earlier than I did. But now I notice that the couch quilt is pulled down, you’re wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and you have an exceptional case of bed hair! You stayed the night.”

“By the time we got here last night, it was close to curfew. It only made sense to sleep here.” Nate shrugged.

“Anyway,” Brad laughed. “What brings you here this early, Terrie? I thought we were all meeting at the warehouse. Did something else happen?”

“You could say that.” Terrie nodded toward the kitchen. “How much does your mom know?”

Brad sighed. “As of last night, everything. She’s digging into the deaths, and she’s good at what she does. I thought it best to tell her, plus I hate lying to my mom.”

“I’m glad she knows,” Terrie said. “Let’s join her in the kitchen. I’ll tell all three of you my news.”

Nancy slid a plate of waffles and cut up strawberries to each of the three teenagers sitting around her table. “Ok, give it to me. What else do I need to know before I go to the park?”

Terrie took a deep breath and told the other three everything she discovered about Lilly Monroe, the witch hunters, and her mom. After she finished, she looked at Brad. “Lilly gave me a book about the history of witch hunters and how to become one. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Obviously, I couldn’t hunt Matt or any of our friends. Now that I know that I can use the same ritual to become a witch protector, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be just like my mother.”

Nate leaned forward. “What can we do to help? Can we assist with research?”

“For now, I don’t need anything. If I read anything in this book that needs further research, I’ll text you first, Nate.”

Nancy collected the empty breakfast dishes. “I’m heading to the park. Do you need me to relay anything to your dad, Terrie?’

“No. We talked before I came here. Thanks, Mrs. Holliday. I’ll clean up the kitchen while waiting for the boys to shower and change. Be safe out there.”

Brad grinned at Nate. “Should we shower together to save time?”

Nate laughed. “That would not save time. I’ll shower first. You let everyone know that we’ll be on our way soon. Maybe we can have a plan of action before we get there.”

“Good idea,” Brad said as he took his phone out of his pocket, and Nate ran up the stairs.

Sky yawned and stretched, trying to wake up. His whole body ached, but he thought that might be normal after his transformation last night. Sky’s memory was fuzzy, but he remembered the change’s intense pain. He started to turn over and felt himself press against the warmth of another body. Sky blinked his eyes open and found himself wrapped in David’s arms.

David woke up, and the first thing he saw was Skylar. He smiled. “Good morning, beautiful.”

“Good morning. Such a nice way to wake up.” Sky pulled David’s arms tighter around his body, and David kissed the side of Sky’s neck. Then they heard voices and the sound of someone clearing their throat.

“I’m glad you two are so comfy but don’t forget that you’re naked and still in the cage.” Matt laughed. “I’ve unlocked the gate and set your backpacks inside whenever you’re ready.” Matt tossed a couple of blankets to David. “Just cover yourselves. We’ve seen enough. Too much, actually!”

“Hell yeah! Way too much! Horny devils!” Devon laughed.

David caught the blankets and handed one to Sky. “Do you remember last night? I remember them putting you in the cage and then waking up with you in my arms.” David frowned.

“I remember images and emotions. But, more and more memories are coming back as I focus.” Sky said.

“What do you remember? Did we…?” David blushed.

“Yes!” Matt, Devon, and Elias yelled in unison.

“It was like nature documentary porn!” Devon groaned.

Sky blushed. “I remember now.”

“Elias has a video,” Matt said.

“What?! Why?!” David said, eyes wide.

“In case you two couldn’t remember. I thought you might want to see.” Eli shrugged.

David stroked the side of Sky’s face. “Ignore them, babe. What do you remember?”

“Let’s get out of this cage.” Sky said. He stood and wrapped the blanket around himself. Sky picked up his backpack on his way out of the cage and sat at the table where the other boys had played gin rummy all night long. He looked from face to face and then focused on David. “It was strange. I felt like me, only different. I was stronger, more primal, but I knew that I was still me. I was a wolf, but I was still Skylar.” He held tight to David’s hands. “When they first put me in the cage, your wolf was angry. All he wanted was to get out of the cage and hunt. I’m not sure how I knew, but I knew he was angry and hungry and wanted to get out of the cage and run free.”

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” David asked.

“No. Absolutely not. When I looked into the wolf’s eyes, I knew that I was looking into your eyes. Somehow, I could sense that the wolf was in charge, but you were in there fighting for control. Once I was sure it was you, I knew what I needed to do to calm you.”

“What did you do?” David asked.

“I submitted myself to you, both as a member of your pack and as your mate. Wolves mate for life, by the way. You’re stuck with me now.” Sky grinned and blushed at David.

“I wish I could remember!” David’s head spun toward Elias. “Why can he remember, but I can’t?”

“I have some theories that align exactly with how Sky describes things. My theory is that when you bit Sky, you passed the werewolf gene on to him, but not the curse. All the stories about werewolves in the witch’s journals have led me to believe that the wolf and the man maintain a symbiotic relationship. The curse is what put your wolf in control, David. It makes you more primal, more instinctual. That would explain the wolf’s focus on freedom and hunger.”

“Does that also explain why I can’t remember, but Skylar can?”

Eli shrugged. “It makes sense. The wolf is the dominant personality for you, so you can’t remember. For Sky, he is in control or, at the very least, a co-equal partnership. Therefore, Sky retains the memories.”

“We really need to cure me of this curse,” David grumbled.

“We need a three-pronged focus today. One group working on potions and spells for your cure, one group collecting the supplies I need for the werewolf trap, and the final group searching for the wolf in human form.” Elias said.

“Do you think there’s anything else different about me?” Sky asked.

“There are stories of wolves changing in daylight. Other stories about partial changes, and we know that the wolf that bit David changes completely into a wolf. The two of you changed into what resembled horror movie werewolves. We may not know what you are capable of until you do it, Sky.”

Skylar sighed. “I guess I hoped you had an instruction manual.” He laughed.

“Not at all, but I will help you as much as possible.” Elias looked from Sky to David and back. “I will not abandon either of you no matter what.”

The two boys each put a hand on one of Eli’s shoulders and said in unison. “Thank you, Elias, that means a lot.”

Devon leaned forward. “So, who does what for these three tasks?”

“We’ll decide that at my house. Brad, Nate, and Terrie are meeting us there. While David and Sky get dressed, we’ll pack up everything else, and then we’ll meet the others at my house.”

The two groups of friends arrived at Eli’s house at nearly the same time. They all went into the house and gathered in the living room, just like last night. Terrie sat on the ottoman right in front of Elias, and she took his hands in hers.

Terrie took a deep breath. “Elias, I am starting to think that we were all fated to find each other. We have deeper connections than we ever knew.”

“What do you mean? What else have you discovered?” Eli asked.

“Lilly was at my house yesterday. She took me to her home. Lilly’s intent was to convince me how dangerous the supernatural is. My intent was to gather information to help you guys. What we discovered surprised us both. Lilly has a secret sub-basement full of tools to fight all manner of creatures. Witch hunters, I guess, is a generic label. Hunters fight all of the supernatural. Prime example, there was a case full of wooden stakes. Vampires are real. Who knew?” Terrie shrugged.

“I wonder what else is out there,” Eli said, his eyes full of wonder.

“Well, there were also shelves full of books in the basement. When I approached one of the shelves, I felt a tingly sensation all over my body.”

“Are you ok? What was it?” Matt interjected.

“I’m fine. It was a spell designed to only let those with witch hunter blood approach the bookshelf.”

Eli’s eyebrows scrunched together in concentration. “Does that mean that you are descended from hunters?” The room went silent.

“It does, but there’s a catch. My mom had hunter blood. Her ancestors, going back generations, were all hunters. My mother became best friends with someone she later discovered was a witch. She knew that woman to be a good person. My mom cast a spell when she found out that the hunters were going after her friend. She bonded herself to the witch as the first witch protector in a thousand years. Elias, the witch that my mom bonded herself to was your mother, Marie Carrier. My dad told me that my mother didn’t die in a car accident, as I was told. She was killed by the hunters. She died trying to protect the same coven you and Matt are now rebuilding.”

“I’m not even sure what to say to that. I’ve read about protectors, but only in the oldest journals. My mother’s journal said nothing, though it ends rather abruptly, probably with her death. Her spirit has never mentioned it either, but all of our conversations have been about witchcraft and werewolves.” Eli said.

The air shimmered behind Elias, and Marie Carrier’s ghost appeared. The spirit stared at Terrie before it turned to Eli and spoke. “What she says is true. Her mother fought for the coven, and she died a hero. The coven and this house would have been destroyed seventeen years ago if not for Julia Hanson.” Marie’s eyes darted to Matt. “When I sensed that you loved another besides my son, I did not know it was the daughter of the most powerful witch protector in a thousand years. The hand of fate is upon you, Matthew Montana. You and you alone have drawn this band together. It may seem that events center on the wolves or my son. They do not. You are the thread that connects them all. Without you, it all falls apart. Stay strong, Matthew.”

“Well, that’s not too much pressure!” Matt huffed out a laugh as the ghost disappeared.

Hands reached out from seemingly everywhere, patting Matt on the back or knee. David reached over and ruffled his brother’s hair. “We all have your back, Matt. We will find the grey wolf and the hunter, and we will deal with them. We can do this!”

Elias took Matt’s hand and laced their fingers together. He kissed the back of Matt’s hand. “I was pulled into your orbit before we ever met, and I am not even a little bit sorry. David is right. We can do this. With you by my side, nothing is impossible.”

Everyone in the room gave similar statements of support to Matt. He leaned against Eli’s shoulder with tears dripping from his eyes. “I feel the same way about each of you,” He looked around at everyone, then focused on Elias. “What do we need to do first?”

Terrie held up the journal she had gotten from Lilly. “I have my own task.” She looked at Eli. “I may need your help with something, but first, I need more details from this journal.”

Elias nodded. “Understood. I will be right here. Matt and I will be researching spells and gathering ingredients. I need to refine the curse breaker spell, and I need a werewolf charm spell.” Elias looked around the room. “Brad and Nate, take the wolfsbane map. Find as much as you can, but make sure it is tightly sealed before bringing it back here. The scent alone could make our two wolves sick, and speaking of our werewolf friends,” Elias smiled at David and Sky. “You two get to hunt.”

Sky smirked. “Fitting, but we may need more instruction than that.”

“I’m referring to the wolf, for now. We’ll deal with the hunter if we must. I’ve marked a map with all known or suspected locations where the grey wolf has been. I’ve marked your aunt’s house, and all four kill sites in red. Brad, Nate, and Devon found a lot of reports of large animal sightings and unexplained livestock deaths. I used their research to mark all those on the map in blue. As you will see, they are surprisingly close together. It should give you guys a strong starting point.”

“We’ll do what we can except knock on doors and ask if any werewolves live there.” David laughed.

“We’ll do some sniffing around.” Sky smirked. “My senses are enhanced even in human form. I’m not sure exactly what we’re looking for, but maybe we’ll know it when we see it or smell it.”

David, Sky, Brad, and Nate all left the house and went about their tasks. Terrie settled in on the couch with the hunter’s journal, and Matt sat next to her with his own pile of books to research charm spells. Eli wandered into the kitchen to gather supplies for the curse breaker spell.

Sky and David sat in the file room of the Roxbury Falls town hall, looking at deed after deed. It wasn’t the search they expected, but after they had walked around the park for an hour without a clear plan, David called Aunt Nancy. He explained to her that they wanted to narrow down who might be the werewolf, but all they had to go on was a map of the kill sites. Nancy suggested that they check the homeowners in their search area, then narrow that down by who lived there the longest. Once they had fewer houses to check, they should start with the ones in the center of the search area and work their way out.

Now, three hours later, they had a list of eight names. Five were married couples with children. Three homeowners were single males, so they had three possible suspects or three wild goose chases. David sighed. “I don’t know how Aunt Nancy does this kind of stuff all the time. It’s mind-numbing! Plus, we don’t even know if one of these guys is our guy or if we’ve wasted the entire day!”

“It’s still early. Let’s swing by all three houses and see if anything sticks out as weird.” Sky shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt.”

“I was thinking the same thing. If we can get a name and address, it will help when Elias sets up the traps.”

“First step, 96 Mitchell Lane.” Sky said as they left the town hall.

Brad snapped the lid shut on the Tupperware container, and he looked over at Nate. “Do you think this is enough, or should we go to the last field on our map?”

Nate took out his phone and snapped a pic of the three containers of wolfsbane that they had collected so far and texted it to Elias. A reply came back in seconds. Nate looked up and grinned. “We’re done. Eli said he could kill five hundred werewolves with what we have. But if there were five hundred werewolves, Eli would leave town without stopping to make potions.”

Brad rolled his eyes and laughed. “That sounds like Eli. Let’s get this stuff back to the house. Maybe we’ll have time to finally eat unless he has anything else for us to do.”

“I like that plan.” Nate grinned.

Brad and Nate walked into the kitchen and set the containers of wolfsbane on the counter. Brad leaned against the counter next to Matt and nodded toward Elias and Terrie. “That sounds like an intense conversation.”

“Yep. I’m staying over here until those two decide what to do. I am not getting in the middle of Eli and Terrie.” Matt said as Nate joined them. The three boys stood back and listened to their friends talk.

“Come on, Elias! We have to at least try!” Terrie said.

“If you knew how many defensive spells she has set up or where they all are, I would be more inclined to say yes. If I miss just one, we could alert her to our presence, or worse, it could be dangerous to someone like me. Hunters would likely have anti-witch barriers in place.”

“There’s so much in that basement that we could use. I saw a sword made of pure silver.”

Eli sighed. “There is a spell that I found that could make other spells visible. I’m not saying yes, but if we go, you do not question my judgment if we encounter a spell that I can’t nullify. We stop and return here. Do you accept that as a condition?”

“If that’s the closest thing I’m going to get to a yes, then I accept. Can we go now? I can call my dad and make sure she’s still at the station.” Terrie said.

Matt interjected. “No. Hold on. If the two of you are rushing off into danger, I have my own condition.”

“You are NOT coming with us,” Elias said forcefully.

“I one hundred percent agree with Eli. There is no reason for you to put yourself in danger, Matt.” Terrie said.

“While I struggle to not be offended by that, can I say what I actually intended to say now? Is this what life with the two of you will be like? A life of unfinished sentences?” Matt smirked.

“You may continue, my love.” Elias and Terrie said in unison, then blushed at each other.

Matt looked at Terrie. “I don’t trust either of you to call for help. I want to know that you are safe. You said you found the spell you were looking for. Bond us. Become the protector of the Roxbury Falls coven just like your mom was. Do this before the two of you run off into danger. If I can sense you through the bond like I can Eli, I will feel better about letting you do this.”

Terrie looked at Elias. “Do you think the changed wording for the first spell will work?”

“Yes, and I have an idea for the second one. I’m prepared if you’re both sure this is what you want.”

“I’m ready,” Terrie said.

“What do I need to do?” Matt asked.

“For now, sit there and look pretty,” Elias smirked. “Then, when we start the second spell, it will be nearly identical to when we bonded.”

“Should me and Brad leave?” Nate asked.

“Not necessary. Just don’t touch any of us. I’m not sure what would happen.” Eli said.

“Got it. No touching.” Brad huffed out a laugh.

Terrie and Eli started setting up the circle where the spells would be performed. First, they set out the herbs and lit the incense for Terrie’s witch protector spell. Once they were ready, Terrie stepped inside the circle and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the incense smoke.

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15

Brad walked hand in hand with Nate up the front steps to his house. “Are you sure you want to meet my mom?” Brad shrugged. “We haven’t even had a real date yet.”

Nate huffed out a laugh. “We are not living in normal times. Dating protocols can go on hold while we battle the freaking supernatural!”

Brad grinned. “Agreed. Let me do the talking if she asks about Matt and David.”

“Yessir. Lying to your mom is your job.”

“We might not have to. My mom is the newspaper editor and works closely with the sheriff. I don’t know if they’ve talked today or if he’s told her anything.”

The two boys walked into the house. Nancy Holliday turned from making dinner as they walked in. “Bradley, you’re home. Have you seen your cousins? I’m almost done with dinner. Oh, hello.” She said, noticing Nathan standing next to Brad.

“Mom, this is Nate. Do you mind if he stays for dinner?”

“Of course, he can. I’ll set out an extra plate.”

“Not necessary. Neither David nor Matt will be home for dinner. I’m not sure when they will get home, but I will text them later. They were busy when I left them.”

Nancy quirked an eyebrow. “Boys, sit.” She pointed to the kitchen table and sat on one of the chairs. “I know there’s more going on than what is being reported by the sheriff.” She looked directly at her son. “And I know you’ve got yourself right in the middle of it. Talk to me, Brad.” She smiled. “You know I’m going to find out anyway.”

Nate nodded his head and looked at Brad. “I think we should tell her.”

Brad sighed. “You’re going to hate this, mom. Either you’ll think I’m lying to you, or you will believe me, and that might be worse.”

“Just tell me, Bradley. At this point, I think I need to know.”

“You’ve been to all the animal attack sites, right?”

“Yes. The sheriff even let me look at what was left of the bodies and read the coroner’s reports. I won’t go into details because I know you knew all three of the kids, but it was not a pleasant experience.”

“Did anything that you saw resemble any bear attack you’ve ever seen or heard of?”

“Honestly? No. What are you saying, son?”

Brad reached into his backpack and pulled out the two photographs. He slid the photos across the table. “These are the two photographs I took in the park last night. The sheriff got them back from his friend already.”

“And you want me to believe that this is a werewolf?”

“I want you to believe that that is David. The Montana family curse is real. My ex-boyfriend is a witch. Elias was drawn to the witch house last year because it is his family home. Eli is the last living descendant of the witches that cursed the Montana family.”

Nancy’s eyes were wide. “Are you saying that you think David is responsible for the three deaths?”

“Nope. Remember when David got bit by the big dog in the backyard, and Matt insisted it was a wolf and nobody believed him?”

Nancy quirked an eyebrow. “Second werewolf?”

Brad shrugged. “Technically, that one is the first werewolf.”

“So, this is why you boys have been suddenly living at the library?”

“I work there.” Nate quipped. “Brad will be spending more time there even after this is over?”

“I think we skipped over something in introductions. Are you dating my son?”

Nate blushed. “Yes… well, we haven’t officially gone out yet… but yes.”

“Are you still in school?”

“College and I am the junior librarian. I am pursuing a double major in Library Sciences and English Literature.”

“And how old are you?”

“Eighteen.” Nate huffed out a laugh. “All that may have made me sound older. I’m a very ambitious college freshman, and I fell into the library job. Mr. Harris needed help, and I was in the right place at the right time.”

Brad covered his face with his hands. “Mom! We haven’t even started dating yet. Don’t scare him off with the third degree!”

“You’re in high school. Nathan is in college. A mother worries.” She looked at Nate and then back at Brad. “I approve, but we might have to pry him out of the library and into the newsroom.”

“I considered journalism. No offense, but I’m more of a teacher than an investigator. The last few days’ research has been fun, but I’m more of a stay in the library guy than a go hunting for werewolves in the park guy.” Nate huffed out a laugh.

“Hey!” Brad yelled. “I resemble that remark!”

Nancy shook her head and winked at Nate. “I raised him to be too much like me. He needs someone like you to keep him grounded.” Then she looked at Brad. “Now tell me the rest. Where are my nephews.”

Brad took a drink of his ice water. “Settle in, and I’ll tell you everything I know. This might take a while.” Brad began his story.

———————————————————————————————————-

The five boys walked into the abandoned warehouse and looked around. Sky looked concerned. “Are you sure we won’t set off any alarms and get arrested for trespassing or anything?”

“Or maybe get accused of impersonating Marley’s Ghost?” Devon rattled the chains that he had wrapped around himself.

“We won’t be arrested,” Matt said. “If Terrie’s dad shows up, he already knows what’s going on.”

“Or that deputy shows up and burns us all as witches and monsters.” Elias scowled.

Matt shrugged. “Yeah, I guess Lilly Monroe is a new problem that we have to add to our long list of problems.”

“Where’s this cage, Matt? I can feel the moon.” David said softly.

“Come on, let’s get you back there,” Matt said, pointing toward the back of the warehouse. “Sky? How are you feeling?”

“Nothing yet, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.”

“You’ll know it if it happens. The first time was the most painful.” David said.

“That’s comforting, babe.” Sky laughed.

Just as David stepped inside the cage, he fell to his knees. “It’s starting. Lock me up, guys.”

Matt helped Devon unwrap himself, and they started weaving the chains through the chain-link fence. Then Skylar screamed. Matt, Devon, and Elias all turned towards Sky as he fell to the ground in obvious pain. Sky’s emerald eyes were now a bright yellow, and his teeth were lengthening into fangs. In a deep growly voice, Sky screamed, “Help me! Please!”

Devon’s eyes were wide with fear. “What do we do? We don’t have a second cage!”

Matt looked to Eli. “Any ideas? Can we put them together?’

“I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this. We weren’t sure this would happen and had no time to prepare. We don’t have a choice but to put David and Sky together and hope for the best.” Elias shrugged. “We can watch them closely and try some calming spells if they get violent.”

Devon looked at Matt. “No matter what, they are our brothers. What do you think we should do?”

“Sky trusted that David wouldn’t hurt anyone, even in wolf form. I agree with Elias. If they retain any of their own thoughts, they will be fine. We must take the chance.”

“Agreed. Now we need to act fast to get Sky in the cage and not let David get back out.”

Sky was still predominantly human as Matt and Devon half carried and half dragged him to the cage door. As soon as they were there, Eli opened the gate. They successfully got Sky into the cage and then finished securely locking it up with the chains and padlocks.

“Who’s going to make the first coffee and snacks run? This is bound to be a long night.” Eli quirked one eyebrow.

Devon sighed. “I’ll go. What do you guys want?”

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie got home and yelled out to her father. “Dad, I’m home! Do you need me to start dinner?”

“I’m in the den, sweety. Come in here before you get started.”

Johnny ran up to his big sister. “That mean deputy is in there. I don’t like her, Terrie. I heard her talking about you, Brad, and your other friends. Brad and Matt are both super nice. Brad saved my life! Don’t let her hurt them!”

Terrie ruffled her brother’s hair. “I’ll be careful, Johnny. Thanks for the heads up. I will always protect my friends., almost as fiercely as I protect you, little bro!”

Johnny grinned. “Love ya, big sis!”

“Love you, too,” Terrie said as she turned and walked into the den.

Terrie barely acknowledged the presence of Lilly Monroe as she walked over to her dad’s computer desk. “What’s up, dad?’

 “Lilly told me there’s been a lot of activity at the witch… at the old Carrier house. Do you know anything about that?”

Terrie shrugged. “Why, yes, I do. A bunch of us were there today. Eli’s foster parents have finally gotten all the legal issues straightened out. The house will officially belong to Elias upon his eighteenth birthday in a couple of months. We were helping him clean the old place up. Is there a problem with that?” As she asked the question, Terrie was staring right at Lilly.

“No. I…” The sheriff began, but Lilly cut him off.

“Yes, there is. You are getting involved in things you cannot control. The more you hang out with the Carrier boy and the Montana boys, the greater the danger you are in.” Lilly said.

“If you are this great supernatural hunter, why haven’t you done anything? How do you know that danger exists beyond a rogue bear?”

Lilly’s eyes narrowed. “We’ve spoken of this. You know that the supernatural exists, and you know it exists in this town. With your father’s permission, I can show you further proof if you come with me to my house.”

“Dad?”

“Go. Learn everything you can.” Ronnie said.

Lilly and Terrie left the house and walked to Lilly’s car.

———————————————————————————————————-

Before Devon left to go on his coffee and snack run, he stopped to watch the wolves. The two wolves were sniffing and circling each other, only stopping to rattle and shake the chain-link enclosure. Then the smaller wolf, the wolf with the greenish-yellow eyes – Skylar, lay prone and submitted to the blue-eyed wolf’s inspection.

Devon kept watching for a while, then his eyes went wide, and he turned to Matt. “Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”

Matt had an equally shocked expression on his face. “It’s like National geographic porn with a Stephen King twist. I don’t want to watch, but I can’t look away.”

“Eli! Are you recording them?! I don’t even want to watch this once. Why would you save it?” Devon asked.

Elias huffed out a laugh. “Not for me! For them. David has told us that he can’t remember his time as a wolf, except maybe a few flashes of memory. I thought this might be something they want to remember.” Eli shrugged.

“I don’t even know what to say to that. Or to that.” Matt pointed to the cage.

“It’s probably their first time together, too. Can life get any weirder for all of us?” Devon said.

Matt rolled his eyes and then laughed. “A couple weeks ago, I was living the straight life on the beaches of Southern California. Now, I’m a bisexual witch watching my brother and his boyfriend have werewolf sex. No. I don’t think life can get any weirder.”

“On the positive side, this may prove that they retain at least a portion of their true personalities as wolves. They are less restrained and more primal, but they are who they are. I believe Sky was right about David. He would not kill, even as a wolf.” Eli said.

“I hope you’re both right. Looking at those two, I’m inclined to believe it.” Matt said.

“Since we’re sure they’re not going to kill each other, I’ll head out on that coffee and snack run,” Devon said.

“Excellent idea. I’m starved.” Eli grinned.

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie followed Lilly into her small cottage, situated on the edge of town. Lilly pulled open a door which led to a darkened stairway.” “Follow me,” Lilly said.

Terrie frowned. She was a little nervous, but her dad knew where she was and who she was with, so she followed. At the bottom of the stairs stood a steel door that looked like the door to a bank vault. “That doesn’t look like it belongs in this old cottage.”

“I did some home improvements when I moved in,” Lilly said as she stood in front of an electronic scanner to the right of the door. She put her thumb on the pad and waited for the beep, then she entered a series of numbers into the keypad. Finally, the door opened. Lilly led Terrie into a room that was bright and shiny. Everything was either stainless steel or painted white.

“Ouch. I didn’t know I’d need sunglasses.” Terrie scoffed. Then the items in the room caught her attention. There were swords and knives and guns and weapons of almost every variety. There was also a ceiling-to-floor bookshelf that covered three walls. Most of the books looked ancient. “Wow,” Terrie said in awe.

“Feel free to look around and ask questions. This is one of our oldest collections of books and weapons. Roxbury Falls has been a beacon for the supernatural for thousands of years. We thought we had finally eradicated the witches nearly twenty years ago, then magic was again detected here.”

“You are talking about Elias Carrier. You thought you had eradicated the witches by murdering his mother, but you didn’t know about Eli.”

“It was not me, personally, but yes, the rest of that is accurate.”

Terrie’s eyes narrowed. “Are you planning Eli’s murder right now?”

“If he continues to use magic, he will be dealt with most harshly.”

“What if he is using magic to help people? Magic isn’t inherently evil. People are. Would you kill him if he was helping people?”

“Magic and magical creatures are unnatural and cannot be allowed to exist.”

“So, you lied. Even if Elias doesn’t use magic, you still want him dead because he is magical.” Terrie said as she turned away from Lilly. “Wooden stakes? Are vampires real?” Terrie asked as she stared into a glass case full of stakes, holy water, and other vampire fighting gear.

“Most of the legends have a factual origin. Vampires haven’t been sighted outside of Eastern Europe in over a hundred years.”

Terrie nodded and moved on. She walked toward the bookshelves. As she got closer, she felt as if she had walked through a curtain of spiderwebs, but nothing was there. Terrie turned and saw Lilly staring at her with a shocked expression.

“What do you know about your mother?” Lilly asked.

“Not much. Why do you ask?”

“You just passed through a spelled barrier that only those with Hunter blood can pass through. That explains why you have been drawn to the witch and the Montana boys. Hunters are drawn to the supernatural, so we can destroy it.”

“I don’t know if I am what you say I am, but no one will destroy my friends. I will stop you myself.”

“You will change your mind as the bodies pile up in your town.”

Terrie’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve shown me your toys. You’ve spun your tales. I already believed that there was more going on in Roxbury Falls than most people think. Can I go home now?”

Lilly handed Terrie a book. “Take this. Read it. It explains the importance of your heritage as a witch hunter. It also explains why you can never trust a supernatural creature, and they are creatures. Even the witches who walk around looking human. Elias Carrier is not a cute teen boy to watch movies with. He is an emissary of Satan who must be burned out of existence.”

Terrie took the book. “I’ll read your book, but I’ll also hook you up with a good therapist and some anger management classes.”

Lilly led Terrie out of the basement and back to the car. “You will be back, and when you come back, you will be begging for my help to eradicate the evil that has infected your town.”

As Terrie listened to Lilly rattle on, she tried to remember as much about the setup of the house and security systems as she could. Terrie thought that she and her friends might need some of Lilly’s weapons to kill the rogue werewolf. With one last look around the property, Terrie slid into the passenger seat of Lilly’s car.

———————————————————————————————————-

Brad slid his phone back into his pocket and sighed. “Do you want the good news, the bad news, or the weird news first?” He asked Nate.

Nate reached over and grabbed another handful of popcorn before answering. “May as well start with weird.” He huffed out a laugh.

“Werewolves have sex. Well, at least our two do. LGBTQ+ werewolf sex. I’d like to see that in a pride parade.” Brad grinned.

Nate’s eyes went wide. “Glad I wasn’t taking a drink! I may have squirted Mountain Dew out of my nose. That is wild!” Nate’s brow furrowed. “I guess that means that the bad news is that Sky is a wolf for sure, and the good news is that they didn’t kill each other, am I right?”

“Yep! That’s the news update for now. Did you pick out another movie yet?”

“How about ‘Julie and the Phantoms’ instead of a movie? I’m sure this won’t be our only Netflix night.” Nate waggled his eyebrows.

“I sure hope we have more! That show has hot boys and great music. Can’t go wrong with that combo! Excellent choice!”

“Oh, aren’t I a hot enough boy for you?” Nate gave a pouty look.

Brad rolled his eyes. “Of course, you are, but more is better, right?” He laughed.

Nate smiled. “You’re funny. I think I like you a little bit.”

Brad started the show and snuggled up against Nate. “I’ve thought of a loophole in my mom’s rule. She said that she better not find both of us in the same bedroom in the morning, but I really don’t want to be alone tonight.” He looked up at Nate.

Nate leaned down and gave Brad a kiss that was little more than a quick peck on the lips. “What’s your loophole?”

Brad smirked. “We watch tv until we fall asleep right here, just like this.” He snuggled in closer to Nate.

“I approve of this plan. It’s evil, yet sweet and innocent.” Nate chuckled and let his hand slide down from Brad’s shoulder to his waist. Nate leaned his head against Brad, and the two boys settled in to watch tv.

———————————————————————————————————-

Devon got back from the snack run and stopped in his tracks when he saw Matt and Eli. “Dude! Should I wear a bell or something? First, I had to see Sky and David getting busy, now the two of you.”

Elias rolled his eyes. “We were not having sex. We were barely kissing. I wouldn’t even call it making out.”

“You’re just jealous.” Matt laughed. “We need to find you a girlfriend. Sky said the same thing.”

“Not really looking right now, bro. I talk to a few girls, but I’m just so busy with school, lacrosse and baseball, and the newspaper that I don’t have time to date. It’ll happen when the time is right.” Devon shrugged.

“The important thing right now,” Eli smirked, “is did you get my Mountain Dew and white cheddar Cheetos?”

“Your wish is my command.” Devon grinned and handed one of the grocery bags to Elias. “Where are we setting up for the night?”

Eli took the bags and pointed. “We set up a table and the sleeping bag over there. Only one sleeping at a time, I think. Two can stay awake easier than one.”

“Agreed. How’re our boys doing?” Devon nodded toward the cage.

Matt grinned and blushed. “It seems they wore themselves out. They’re asleep. They look kind of adorable for werewolves. They’re asleep and cuddling.”

“It’s comforting that humans aren’t the only ones that fall asleep after sex.” Devon laughed.

“I know, right?! And cuddling! I sure hope that witches are into cuddling, too!” Matt smirked at Elias.

“Oh, absolutely! I can one hundred percent confirm that they are.” Eli laughed.

Devon rolled his eyes. “Get a room!”

“We have a whole house, but no, we’re here with you instead,” Eli said.

“Blame my brother. No! Blame his brother.” Devon pointed at Matt.

Matt rolled his eyes and pulled out a deck of cards. “We’re in for a long night. What card games do you guys know how to play?”

The three boys settled in at the table with cards and snacks while always keeping one eye on the werewolf cage.

———————————————————————————————————-

Terrie got home and rushed right into the den to talk to her father. She found him still working at his computer. “Dad, we need to talk. It’s important.”

“What is it, honey? What did you find out at Lilly’s?”

“More than I wanted to, but all of it was important. The first thing is that Lilly’s house has a secret basement full of books and weapons. All of it is about tracking and killing supernatural beasts. Lilly said that Roxbury Falls has always been a beacon to the supernatural.”

“The town, this whole area, has always had unexplained deaths and weird things happening. Knowing what we know now, Lilly might be right.”

Terrie looked directly into her father’s eyes. “How much did you know about all of this before the last couple of days?”

“What do you mean? What else did she tell you?”

“What I mean is, did you know that the supernatural was real? Did you know that there was a werewolf in Roxbury Falls as soon as Kim was killed?”

Ronnie sighed. “I suspected after Kim, and I was pretty sure after Kevin. That’s why I put the curfew in place so quickly. I didn’t know it was a werewolf, not for sure. I’ve never dealt with anything like this, Terrie. I thought all this supernatural stuff was behind us years ago.”

Tears started to form in the corners of Terrie’s eyes. “You thought it was over after mom died, isn’t that what you mean? My mother was a witch hunter, wasn’t she? What really happened to her, dad? Did witches kill her?”

“No. Just the opposite. Witch hunters killed your mother while she was trying to save the life of her best friend, Marie Carrier.”

“Wow. Oh my God. That’s insane. So, mom wasn’t a witch hunter? Lilly told me that I have witch hunter blood.”

“You do. Your mom’s ancestors were all witch hunters, but she chose another path. Your mother was the first witch protector in hundreds of years. She wanted to make peace with the covens, and she had done just that. Marie and Julia were inseparable. Your mom went nuts when the witches started dying. She tried everything to save them, but there were just too many hunters. The hunters wouldn’t listen to anything your mom had to say about peace. They believe that all supernatural beings should be killed no matter what.”

“Did you know what Lilly was when you hired her?”

“Not until you told me about Elias. I know Lilly was fascinated with that house, but I had no reason to believe that hunters would come back to this town until you told me that Elias was a witch.”

“All of my friends involved in this are in danger now, aren’t they?”

“If they have ties to the supernatural, then yes. I’ll try my best to handle this as sheriff. If it’s only Lilly, we might be able to manage this. We do need to confirm who or what is killing kids, though, Terrie. I’m sure you want that just as much as I do.”

“I do, but I’m thinking that even if we deliver the guilty wolf to Lilly, she will still go after Elias and the others.”

“If she is anything like the hunters who were here seventeen years ago, you are right. I’ll try to get her to leave town, Terrie. Please don’t do anything stupid. I can’t lose you like I lost your mother.”

“I promise not to do anything stupid, but I will defend my friends. I won’t sit back and let anyone hurt Matt or Elias or any of the others.”

“I would expect nothing less. You are exactly like your mother. Just be safe, Terrie. That’s all I ask.”

Terrie grinned. “Saying that I am like mom is the best compliment you could ever give me. I’ll try my best to be as safe as possible, dad. I won’t back down, though.”

“I meant what I said. I am proud. You are a strong and independent woman. Your mother would be proud, too. You and your friends just try to lay low while I get Lilly out of town.”

“Thank you for being honest with me, dad. I’ll keep you in the loop. This new information about witch protectors might be what we need to get Lilly off our backs. Just know that it’s much too late for us to do nothing, and we’re not going to hide or run.”

“Understood. Good night, Terrie. I’m heading off to bed. I love you.”

“I love you, too, dad. Good night.”


The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12

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

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

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

—————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————————————

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

“Where’s Aunt Nancy?” Matt asked.

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

“Did you get ahold of Sky last night?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And you’re going to tell Terrie?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Such a crazy story.”

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So? Who is he?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bye, Matt!” Devon yelled.

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

————————————————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 11)

Chapter 11

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

————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————-

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

—————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————

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

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

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

——————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————

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

“Any luck yet, Matt?” Nancy asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 10)

Chapter 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let me finish. It’s important.”

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

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

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

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

“Are we bonded in a coven?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. No doubt. As soon as possible.”

———————————————————————

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————–

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

—————————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But don’t I have both?”

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

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

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

“Ask away.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————-

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

—————————————————————————–

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

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

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

———————————————————————–

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

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

—————————————————————————–

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

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

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

———————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sky: Sorry, Matt. He’s not with me.

Matt: Is he headed home?

Sky: Doubtful.

Matt: What time did he leave?

Sky: I left him around 7.

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

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

Matt: Is he ok, Sky?

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

Matt: Ok.

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 9)

Chapter 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————–

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

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

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

“That does sound interesting!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————

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

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

—————————————————————————-

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

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

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

Elias grinned. “Magic.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why would it do that?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What night did you have the dream?”

“Last Friday.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok. Ok. I’m sorry. Continue.”

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

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

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

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

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

Matt shrugged. “Let’s do this.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

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

—————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————–

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

——————————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lust at first sight maybe.” Devon smirked.

“Well, David is a hottie for sure.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————-

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

“Is Elias home?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, I do.” Eli grinned.

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

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

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

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

Matt sighed. “You are relentless.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok. That makes sense.” Matt said.

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s get started then.” Brad said

Nate grinned and disappeared into the library.

———————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

——————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I try, Nathan, I try.”

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

“Whatever, dude!” Devon laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————

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

————————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————–

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

———————————————————————–

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

————————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

“It was Kevin. Kevin is dead.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

“I fell. Hard.”

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

“Yeah. I fell.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6

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

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

————————————————————–

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

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

————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A teenage girl. Kimberly Martinez.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————

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

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

Sky: I’ll be right over.

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

Sky: Gimme ten minutes.

David: Thanks, Sky. (hug emoji)

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

David: (kiss emoji)

—————————————————————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok, boo. I’m listening.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s our next step then?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————

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

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