Goodies

Stark and black, the oaks rose through the morning’s ghostly fog, Spanish moss dripping from their limbs like the hair of drowned corpses. Beneath the oaks, twelve-year-old Emmy stopped as a sound whispered along the trail before her.

“That you, Mom?”

It was just like her mom to scare her.

“Mom?”

There wasn’t any answer and Emmy doubted it had been her mother anyway. The breeze would have brought Mom’s scent. She hitched her heavy bag higher on one thin shoulder and walked on. Nothing jumped her.

Then she was free of the oaks and stalking through a meadow toward her grandmother’s cabin. It was brighter here, the fog lifting. Her feet swished in thick, wet grass. A spider web fingered her face. She brushed it away as she knocked on Grandmother’s door.

“Come in,” a guttural voice called.

The door creaked open. Night lingered within and Emmy flicked on the flashlight that she carried in one pocket of her red parka.

Grandma’s house was an abattoir.

Emmy’s eyes widened. There were more bodies than last time. Some were alive, or semi-alive.

“Well come on, Dear,” the voice called again, impatiently.

Emmy started forward between two chained rows of drooling forms. Hungry moans roiled the air. She ignored them. Broken fingered hands grasped at her. She ducked them, her feet kicking tibias and ribs from her path, some cracked and bleached white, some…meaty.

Just past the zombies, Grandmother’s door stood open.  Grandma lay on the bed amid quilts and pillows. She was still in wolf form.

“You brought the stuff?” Grandma demanded.

“I brought it,” Emmy said.

She sat her bag on the bed and Grandma jerked it away with taloned hands and ripped it open. Livers and hearts and links of intestines spilled out like a miser’s hoard, but Grandma had eyes for only one thing, a jar of rare delicacies. She grabbed it, tore off the lid and dipped within to pull out a pinkish, cauliflower-sized lump.

“Ah,” she sighed, popping the thing between her teeth. “Melts in your mouth.”  She reached for another.

Emmy frowned. “I thought you liked hearts best, Grandma. Mom only sent four baby brains.”

Grandma chuckled, stroked Emmy’s head with clawed fingers.

“Tastes change,” she said, grabbing another tidbit.

Emmy frowned again, and a sudden gasp spilled from her lips.

Grandma heard the gasp and turned bloodshot eyes accusingly upon her granddaughter. The last brain was chewed mush in her mouth.

“What, child?”

“That bite on your shoulder, Grandma!  Where did you get it?”

Grandma smiled, with teeth that could crush spines.

“Just a scratch, Dearie. Come give Grandma a hug.”

Shaking back her hood, Emmy drew the nickel-plated .357 from her other pocket. She knew where Grandma’s bite had come from. Grandma had gotten careless with a zombie.

With a howl, Grandma leaped from the bed, her eyes screaming, “Brains, brains!”

Emmy pulled the trigger. There was only one cure for what ailed Grandma.

A silver bullet.

Through the head.

∼ Charles Gramlich

© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.

 

Hunter’s Glade

An elevated howl echoed against the night, its origin huffed the air with heated fervor. The cry for blood reached the ears of its singular meal—two-legged hairless indulgence. The scent of fleeing feast invigorated Hunter; he stood tall and sniffed, the scent was prime. Prey’s hot sweat danced in the air, motes of terror in an otherwise serene glade. Hunter waited, restrained, veins engorged with anticipation. His maw of blades drooled with tasteful senses. Each hair upon his body stood with electric hunger.

Hunter reared and ran across the damp grass. Each step pounded against soft earth. Each lent pleasure to the game. Prey dared not look back as Hunter reached the end of his chase and pummeled Prey to the ground. Prey screamed and cried out in mortal reply. Hunter begged the sound with elated ears.

The moon watched in silence as he fed, the meal no longer able to utter a cry to the indifferent nature of Hunter’s ground.

∼ Lee Andrew Forman

© Copyright Lee Andrew Forman. All Rights Reserved.

 

Annual Hunt

Ed Rutledge hugged his rifle under his right arm as he adjusted his toque with his left. The early morning hours were always cold this time of year and the fact that it was the Annual Hunt just made it that much worse.

He was glad that he wasn’t facing the task alone, though. John Glasgow and Christian Stevenson were on either side of him as they made their way through the empty streets of Emmettsville.

“What time is it?”

John looked at his watch. “It’s almost four. We still have three and a half hours to go before dawn.”

“Good,” Christian said. “Three and a half hours to kill this fucker.”

Ed nodded.

It was his eighth time participating in the hunt and the forty-nine year old welder had become something of a legend around Emmettsville when just five years earlier he had successfully killed the first werewolf, Terry Indigo. He should’ve felt proud of the accomplishment, but he knew the feeling would be short lived as there would be a new werewolf to hunt the following year.

“There’s something that never ceases to amaze me,” Ed said. “Even though everyone in town is told to go to the church hall to wait out the hunt, the werewolf always manages to kill a few every year.”

“I wish a lot more people would leave their lights on,” John said. “These old street lamps create more shadows than they cut through.”

“There are two things I hate about the hunt,” Christian said. “The fact we’re not allowed to shoot the werewolf in human form or while it’s changing and that the werewolf has to bite someone every year.”

“The bite guarantees that there will be a hunt the following year if the hunters are successful,” Ed said. “Plus you never know what can happen between hunts. You two are aware that Brendon Jenkins has been the wolf for the last five years, correct?”

Both men nodded.

“Shortly after the hunt last year, Brendon got diagnosed with cancer and they only gave him six to eight months to live. He’s lasted twelve. I would say either way that this will be his last hunt.”

“Who was it last year?” John asked. “I mean, who got bit?”

“Carly Fortner,” Ed replied. “She was only fourteen.”

Christian shook his head in disgust. “I can’t believe he chose to bite a fourteen year old girl.”

The three hunters walked in silence as they remembered how Carly had been found crying with a large bite in her shoulder, knowing her fate had been sealed.

“That doesn’t mean that she’ll be the next one though,” John said. “Remember, Todd Charleston had been bitten in the second year of the hunt. He still hasn’t assumed his role. Strange how the disease or whatever it is only allows one person to change in a given area at one time. Why do you think that is?”

Christian shrugged and was about to say something when Ed held his arms out, stopping them. All three immediately brought their rifles up to the shoulders and looked about.

“What is it?” John whispered.

“There’s blood on the road.”

Ed walked up to the small accumulation of blood, knelt down and stuck two fingers into it. As he turned his hand over to look at his fingertips, he cringed. Even though he had seen his fair share of bodies over the years during the hunt, feeling someone else’s blood on his skin never got easy.

“It’s still warm,” he said, wiping his fingers on his pants.

“Is it a trail?” John asked.

“No. It’s a small pool but, it was left here deliberately. He’s close so keep your eyes open.”

Christian let his rifle drift down from his shoulder a bit as he looked at Ed. “Did you say it was deliberate?”

Ed nodded.

“Why would it…”

The attack happened incredibly fast. It leapt out of the shadows with a snarl and tackled Christian onto the pavement. Even in the shitty streetlight, the werewolf was an impressive and horrifying sight. Underneath the dark brown coat of fur was a six and a half foot muscular frame built to hunt man.

It easily bit through Christian’s shirt into his flesh.

John fired off a shot but not surprisingly missed. The werewolf howled as it sprung off Christian and disappeared into the shadows on the other side of the street. Within seconds, they heard it crash through branches into the woods.

Christian screamed, clutching his torn shoulder. “It fucking bit me!”

Ed and John both knelt down beside their injured friend but he turned away their assistance.

“I know how to take care of myself. Go kill that fucking thing!”

Without hesitating, Ed was on his feet and running. On the way by, he grabbed John by the back of his shirt, yanking him along towards the dark tree line.

***

Somewhere in the distance, the werewolf howled.

It felt like they had been going in circles for a couple of hours. John was breathing heavy and Ed knew that his friend was tired. The adrenalin from the attack had worn off long ago, and now they were barely able to keep on the werewolf’s trail.

“Ed,” John said between breaths. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said earlier… about Brendon being sick.”

“What about it?”

“Well, what do you think a disease such as that would do to a werewolf?”

Another howl pierced the night.

“Have you been listening to the howls?” John asked, looking around. “They don’t sound as strong or vocal as they did earlier in the night.” The werewolf cried out again. “Ed, to me the howls sound weak… almost as if the werewolf is sick.”

Ed thought for a moment. What his friend was saying sounded plausible – if the cancer did transfer over, how would it affect it?

“You might be on to something. What do you say we end this one?”

John sighed, nodded and pushed off from the tree.

They pressed on but had only walked another twenty minutes when they heard another howl that was quickly cut off by a high-pitched whine intertwined with pain.

The sounds were close by.

John looked over at Ed, clearly unnerved.

“What the hell is that?” John asked.

“I don’t know,” Ed replied.

The whining continued as they moved forward with their rifles repositioned for firing at a moment’s notice. Within a few minutes, the trees thinned out as they approached the area where the sound originated. They stepped into a small clearing and stopped with their mouths agape.

It was lying on its side.

The beast was convulsing as if it were suffering a seizure, it wasn’t completely transformed. Its lower extremities resembled a wolf’s hind haunches but the fur on its torso had started to rip, human skin pushing its way through. Partially formed hands twitched uncontrollably at the end of human arms.

“Oh my god, look at its face,” John managed to say before he threw up.

The head was a misshapen mess that reminded Ed of the bizarre animal fetuses he had seen in the freak show of last summer’s carnival – half Brendon, half wolf. Inside its malformed mouth, a tongue rolled and lapped up against its snout.

He cautiously approached and the beast tried to squirm away, but the tremors had eliminated any ability to control its movement. One golden wolf eye, along with Brendon’s own blue eye, stared back as he tried to come to grips with what he was looking at.

With a deep breath, Ed raised his rifle and fired twice into its head. Within seconds, the body lay still.

“Ed, what happened to it?” John asked. He stared long and hard at the misshapen corpse.

“It couldn’t change.”

John looked up to the sky and then at his watch. “It’s still not sunrise, so why would it be changing?”

Ed took his hat off and ran his hand over his balding head. “Maybe it was sick like you said.”

“Do you really think the cancer could interfere with a werewolf changing?”

Ed shrugged. “It’s possible.”

“This is fucked up,” John bent at the waist and placed his hands on his knees preparing for another round of vomiting. “Did you see its eyes?”

“Yes I did.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget those.”

“Neither will I,” Ed said as he watched John look over at the body and then back at him. “The wolf eye wanted me dead but its human eye…” Ed swallowed. “Brendon’s eye was pleading… pleading for me to kill him.”

“Oh my god…” John trailed off.

“You know, when I shot and killed the werewolf a few years ago, I had killed in the course of the hunt. I felt justified and like a hero.” Ed placed his hat back on his head and looked at the body. “This time, I feel like a murderer.”

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

LaLupa

It’s that time of month again and rent is due. Evening is falling fast, drowning the city in dark hues of purple. I’m starting to get a little edgy, a little nervous, as I walk to work. Every night is my first night, every night is my last night.

From outside it looks like any other exclusive strip club. Black painted walls and door, no signs, no neon. I’ve certainly done a lot worse. At least there are no homeless junkies sleeping out front.

The guy at the door gives me the once over and a nod of approval.

“Have a good night sweetheart,” he says politely as he opens the door for me. He has a neck like a tree trunk, a black tee shirt clings to pumped up muscle.

***

Inside it’s tasteful enough. The furnishings are plush red and black. Not too big a space, which is good. I like an intimate audience.

A cute blonde girl is stocking the bar. She smiles and waves at me cheerfully.

“The dressing room is through there,” she shouts.

In the dressing room, which is in fact a storeroom crammed with furniture and boxes of stuff, I meet Candy and Amber. There is always a Candy and Amber in every club. I put my bag down on a brightly lit table, glance at myself in the large mirror and sigh. I begin to unpack some things when Candy comes over for the standard welcome.

“Hi, I’m Candy,” she tells me. Her icy blue eyes sparkle. She stands too close to me, one hand on her hip. Her nails are long oval points, painted white. She is wearing a tiny silver dress; her fake breasts look painful and her skin is a baked orange colour. I stare back at her, bored. It’s that time of month. I’m cranky and hungry. I’ve skipped a few meals lately.

“This is my table. You can use one of those over there.” She points to the cluttered corner.

I get a flash of her gutted from neck to belly and I can’t stop my eyes from twitching. She says something else but I don’t catch the words; I have to concentrate, slow down my breathing. Amber comes over to mediate.

“Don’t worry about Candy, she’s just very territorial.”

Amber smiles warmly at me and gives Candy a nudge, unsettling her on her platform stilettos.

“I’m Lalupa,” I say.

“La what? Is that, like, a Mexican name?” Candy chuckles to herself and wanders over to a clothes rack to flick through costumes and lingerie.

“Have you met Andy yet,” asks Amber.

I shake my head no.

“Well you should get dressed and go meet him. If he doesn’t like your look he won’t let you work tonight.”

I nod and start getting changed.

Amber sits down at a table nearby and begins to style her long red hair. Soon a few other girls arrive. Chatter and laughter fills the dressing room.

I keep to myself, hoping not to get drawn into conversation. I don’t want to make friends and I’m eager for the night to get underway. I hate hearing the same old stories. I don’t care that you are stripping to pay for your law degree or that you have a happy husband and two kids waiting for you at home. I’m here because I like the thrill and the cash. A girl’s got to eat.

***

A wave of nausea rolls through me; my skin prickles with heat. There’s a stabbing pain building in my head. I take a few more deep breaths.

I prefer to wear a vintage style. Black lace corset, fine seamed stockings, shiny black patent heels – I hate those horrendous stripper platforms. My glossy black curls bounce around my pale face as I inspect myself in the mirror. Candy glances at me then mutters to her pals and a round of giggles erupts. Let them laugh. While they can.

***

I find my way to the manager’s office. He’s chatting with a guy sitting by his desk. I stand in the room, still and silent like an ornament, waiting for him to acknowledge me.

They’re both wearing tailored grey suits. Merino wool, I can smell it. Silk ties and crisp fine cotton. Their short haircuts are gelled carefully to appear casually tousled. Thick designer cologne cloaks their skin. A fresh ocean scent with base notes of vanilla and spice. Beneath the cologne is the distinct stench of their sweat. Lean, firm flesh, rippled with fine streaks of fat. My mouth begins to water again.

Finally he looks over at me.

“Nice outfit honey,” he says, “but I hope it comes off pretty quick, this is not a burlesque club!”

He laughs a dry, cruel chuckle and the other guy chimes in. Flesh taut with obsessive exercise and a diet of fine food, tears off the bone in thin strips.

“House takes fifteen percent?”

“Straight down to business. I like it. That’s right honey, House takes fifteen percent, the rest is yours. Pretty generous for a classy place like this. Tonight’s a trial shift. If I like your routine and you’re hot on the floor you can come back tomorrow night.”

“I’m always a crowd pleaser.”

“Are you now? Well, good for you! You’re on after Candy. She’s a hard act to follow.”

Now it’s my turn to laugh, which confuses them for a moment.

“What’s your name again, honey?”

“Lalupa.”

“Lupa? Okay, have a good night honey, milk ‘em dry.” They both chuckle as I turn to leave.

***

Things start to heat up as the night rolls out. I stand at the bar, trying not to shake or twitch, and watch the patrons come in, waiting for a likely hit. I watch the other girls too, as they saunter, smiling, chatting. They look delectable.

I set my sights on Mr. Average White Collar and strut over casually. He is self-conscious and uncomfortable and will easily blow all his cash on me.

I give him a sweet girl next door stripper smile and ask if he wants a dance. He nods and throws back his Scotch as I step in close and begin to sway and swish, swivel and shake. He pays generously but I decide to keep moving; his anxiety is irritating. I circle the floor, bidding time, choosing the men I want to dance for and chat to. I ignore the ones who are too obnoxious or rude. Andy is poised at the bar, watching me and frowning.

Candy comes on stage to cheers and whistles. With a beaming white smile she waves at the audience, blowing kisses, striking provocative poses. Obviously the darling of the club but I’ll soon change that. I head to the dressing room to freshen up.

***

The moon is full and high in the sky. I can feel it, gleaming, beckoning. It’s making me tremble.

Finally the DJ cues my music and I take the stage, happy to be in the limelight.

I love working the pole; I have a real talent for it. My unnatural dexterity gives my routine a flowing ease. I radiate confidence and power. Men sense it, they sit up in their seats, intrigued. Soon all eyes in the room are on me. The men are under my captivating spell – the women glare at me jealously. I’ll be cleaning up tonight. I’m going to empty their pockets. As I dance I’m checking the exits, scanning the room with all my senses. There are never too many for me to handle.

I can feel it coming as I spin and twirl, bubbling under my skin, beginning to shiver through me, a blissful terror. I get so excited I grit my teeth to hold it back. I like to hold out as long as possible, give them a bit of a show first. After all, I’m a really hot dancer. I stretch my fine limbs, shimmy and slither. With legs wrapped around the pole I use my free hand to unhook the corset and flick it off. Men cheer. I flex and hang upside down, spinning slowly. I close my eyes and enjoy the rush. It’s that time of month and I can’t resist it anymore. The moon is singing to my soul and I need to respond. A growl builds in my throat as I embrace it. It is so close to the surface now, about to burst out of me.

***

The men in the front row see it first. Something strange is beginning to happen.

Hair sprouts, thin and fine, along my forearms and thighs, on my chest. It spreads slowly until a dense fur covers me.

A few men chuckle thinking it is part of the routine. I can see Andy, still standing at the bar, looking really pissed off. I can make out the confused faces of the women, frozen in mid lap dance, staring at me.
My body buckles and shakes, I can no longer hold it back or slow it down. I love this part, morphing from an object of desire into an object of terror. I love seeing their faces change, from lust to disgust. I drop from the pole to the floor as the bestial force surges. I begin to convulse. Nobody comes to my aid. Everybody watches. I can feel their bubbling fear, their fascination and perverse satisfaction.

My knuckles bust through skin; tendons bulge. A wail of pain escapes me as I paw at my face with bloody hands. My head is down and they can’t see my jaw stretching, sharp fangs painfully pushing out of tender gums. Thick whiskers sprout on my cheeks and chin. My black curls stream down my back in a heavy mass. The crack of joints and stretching bones, each vertebra popping, the wet sticky sound of elongating sinews and muscles, resounds in my ears.

Finally it is complete and I crouch, heaving from the exertion. My breath begins to slow down as I settle into my new form.

There is complete silence in the club. The DJ has stopped the music, the patrons and staff stare at the creature on stage.

I lift my head and they see me for what I am. I watch them with eyes glowing yellow. I raise my snout and sniff deeply; terror, glorious, delicious terror. And a comforting, familiar smell; my pack. They are here. They have entered the club and are manning the exits.

I stretch, throw back my head and howl –  a maniacal call. Screaming begins and in that fantastic moment, as hysteria breaks out, I plunge.

I take out the line of guys down front, one after another, with fast swipes. Shredding them easily, ripping chunks out of their chests and thighs as I take their wallets. Green bills flutter and float, drifting down into growing pools of blood.

There is no way out; my pack closes in. They are crouched, snarling, snatching the runners and pinning them down. The thick smell of slaughter erupting is intoxicating.

I leap from the stage and land on the bar. I can hear the bar girl, curled underneath the bar, sobbing. I glare at Andy as I crawl towards him slowly. He doesn’t move as I sniff his chest. I can hear the frantic beat of his heart. His eyes are wide with shock. I bite off one of his arms. He begins to emit a high whine, not quite a scream, a peculiar dying noise. I take a chomp out of his chest, snatching out his heart, and gulp it down greedily. He drops to the floor and I on top of him.

I leave my pack to finish off the crowd. I am drawn by another exhilarating smell. Several dancers have locked themselves in the dressing room. I can hear their hysterical, muffled tears.

***

I tear the door off its hinges and they burst into screams, scampering into the corner. They dare not glance at me. My beauty is of another realm. Covered in coarse hair, mangled claws for hands and feet, sharp-pointed ears and snout, breasts hanging long and loose. I roar at them and they shriek, huddling closer like mice.

I can no longer make out individual faces. I scoop up one of the girls, collecting her by the scalp. I lick her skin. She is coated in so many strange flavours; sweat, tears, alcohol, makeup, deodorant, talcum powder.

I bite into her neck and shake her vigorously. Each taste makes me more ravenous. I eat quickly, snapping spines, crushing skulls, crunching bones, guzzling organs. A decadent blood drenched mess surrounds me.

***

It’s that time of month. I am not quite myself. I am more than myself. The full moon is glowing as bright as the sun; it makes me ache with rage. I howl a blissful song but my hunger is far from satiated. I leap at the small window in the room, tearing away the bars and bricks. I bound out into the warm night; the city is a feast waiting to happen.

~ Magenta Nero

© Copyright 2015 Magenta Nero. All Rights Reserved

What’s Underneath

The throaty growl of the engine rumbled louder as he sped up. Wind whipped his long dark hair behind him as he gunned his motorcycle through the curve. The open road was freedom. It didn’t care who or what you were. He was a nomad, a vagabond whose passing was rarely noticed or remembered. His home had always been the desolate roads and byways where bad things happened.

Connor rode past decomposing roadkill and his stomach growled. His peculiar diet meant he didn’t need to eat often, but it had been a while so he would need to feed soon.

He followed a small group of bikers as they pulled off the highway and made their way down the exit to a small service area with less than a dozen buildings. They rode past a large café and pulled into a gas station. Fortunately for Connor, he needed gas too.

Connor’s bike roared as he pulled into the gas station and stopped across from the pump where the three bikers had started to fill up. All three turned their heads when Connor got off his bike. Connor’s jacket had symbols and patches all over it, and he could hear the other bikers whispering about what club he was with, and whether or not he should be on their turf. Territorial disputes among bikers were an issue Connor had dealt with before.

He listened to their hushed conversations as he filled up his tank. They had almost decided to leave him alone when Connor pulled the nozzle out and turned to put it away. He squeezed the handle as he turned and shot a stream of gasoline onto the bike closest to him. There was an immediate look of wanton violence on the other biker’s faces. The largest of the three walked towards Connor and growled as he spoke. “What the fuck do you think you’re doin’?”

“I thought that would have been obvious,” Connor replied as he put his gas cap back on. “I’m gassing up.”

“What in the hell did you just say? You being a smartass with me, punk?”

Conner turned his full attention to the three bikers. His dark brown eyes casually regarded the pissed off group. “I’d rather be a smartass than a dumbass, so I guess that means I’m a step ahead of you.”

The large biker reached under his jacket and started to pull something out when one of his buddies stopped him. “Take it easy, Strider, maybe this guy needs an education more than a hole in his gut.”

The second biker turned Strider around and showed Connor the back of the jacket. “See this? Do you know what this is? Do you know who we are?”

Connor stepped in front of his bike and looked at the jacket. “Well,” he sighed, “those are the brightest green letters I’ve ever seen on a jacket, and then there’s some kind of red devil or something equally idiotic.”

Strider pointed a finger at Connor, “You better get on that shitty bike and ride hard, man. We have a saying around here – ‘We give what we get.’ You’ve had your fun with us, but shit is going to get ugly if we meet up with you again.”

Connor watched the angry bikers ride off and grinned. “Maybe I’ll get something to eat after all.”

***

 “Here’s your coffee,” said the waitress. Her voice held the bored rhythm of a person that has trudged through the same routine for far too long. He thought she seemed like a caged animal pacing back and forth in her daily routine. Connor reached for the coffee and thanked her. The rumble of motorcycle engines came from down the street putting the waitress and other clients on-edge. Connor had picked up the sound of the approaching motorcycles long before and was expecting them. More than a dozen bikers pulled into the cafe’s lot and waited.

Connor stood up from the booth, put a twenty on the table, walked out the door and stood on the stoop while he slowly finished his coffee. The apparent leader of the group slid off his bike and spoke up. “I hear you’ve been giving a few of my boys a hard time.”

“Your boys,” Connor replied as he walked towards his own motorcycle, “were looking for trouble. I was just looking for fuel.”

“Bullshit,” yelled Strider as he walked towards the leader. “The sonofabitch splashed our bikes with gas and still had the balls to talk shit to us.”

The bald leader pointed at Connor. “Sounds like you are the one looking for trouble. I can see it in your eyes. You should be more careful in places like this, especially riding all alone like you are. I think me and my boys will ride out-of-town with you, you know, escort you so you don’t run into any trouble.”

Rowdy laughs came from the rest of the bikers. Connor walked over to his bike, slowly climbed on, and started it up. “Nice of you to offer, sparky, but I need something to eat more than I need an escort.”

“You have balls,” growled the leader, “but you earned an escort, so like it or not, you’re getting one.”

Connor smiled as he pulled onto the road. The gang followed close behind. The group moved slowly until they were on Route 66. Once they were all on the open road, Connor turned around and flipped them off. The gang tried to catch him, but Connor’s bike was faster and easily left them behind. A few miles later, he slowed down to take a side road, and the bikers were able to see where Connor went. He sped down various canyons and dirt roads until he came around a final bend and found himself blocked by a washed out arroyo.

Connor had just turned his bike around when the entire gang rounded the corner and blocked the road. The looks on their faces spoke volumes. Connor had no misconceptions about what was about to happen. Furious, the bikers hopped off their rides and surrounded Connor.

“Well, smartass, this is where you’re going to die. But not until after we break every bone in your body.”

Connor climbed off his bike and walked towards the leader. “I’ll let you guys go first, and then it will be my turn.”

The bikers all rushed in. A wicked first swing connected solidly with Connor’s mouth, another biker threw a fist into Connor’s kidney, and then it got ugly. The bikers took turns in groups of three, kicking and punching. Every biker had a few chances to pummel Connor until the bald leader told the guys to back up. Connor was on his knees. His face was swollen, his jaw dislocated, and even his arms and legs looked swollen and misshapen. Connor looked up, blood pouring from his mouth, nose and ears. A deep laugh erupted from his split lips. His voice sounded strange, somehow changed during the beating. “You’re going to shit bricks when you see what’s coming next.”

“Strider,” screamed the leader, “get the bat. It’s time to end this.”

Strider came over with a baseball bat and handed it over. Connor smiled as the biker swung the bat. Each swing slamming into him with a loud thump and crack. Connor was hit in the back, the arms, the legs, and then once across the head. He fell to the ground as he was beat over and over again.

The leader was breathing heavily when the bat finally broke across Connor’s back. The bikers stepped in close to inspect the damage. Connor’s only movement came from the rise and fall of his back as he breathed. His legs looked swollen with the lower halves twisted in the wrong direction. The leather jacket was in bad shape; split and torn in numerous places. It was bulging with what appeared to be a huge amount of swelling from underneath.

One of the bikers leaned over and lifted Connor’s head by his long hair. The biker gasped and jumped back. “Fucking hell,” the biker swore as he looked at the others, “you should see his face. It’s changed!”

“No shit it changed,” roared the leader. “Most of us hit him in the face, Junkyard is wearing brass knuckles, and I hit his head with the bat. His face is going to be a little jacked up. He should have died by now. Somebody cut his throat; let’s bleed him out.”

Muffled laughter came from the prostrate figure. A few of the bikers stepped back, uneasy with how things were going. Connor pushed himself to his knees. The hair on his head covered his face and hung down to his large shoulders. He slowly climbed to his feet. Just the fact that he could still move after the beating he took scared the shit out of the other bikers.

The leather jacket hung in tatters over Connor’s changed frame. His shoulders appeared to have dropped slightly, and his arms looked longer. His hands looked thicker; his fingers lengthened. Long black hair hung in a clotted mess all over his oddly shaped head. He reached up with clawed fingers and pulled the hair out of his face. Shock drove the entire group to terrified silence.

Connor’s jaw hung low and was thick with muscle, bone and hair. His mouth protruded from his face to allow for large, sharp fangs. Connor’s nose was black, had spread out, and the nostrils had widened into elongated slits. His eyes were large and bright yellow rather than the brown from before. Hard angles of bone and claw were contrasted by twitching chords of muscle. The hair from his deformed head mixed with a mane of fur that covered Connor’s wide shoulders and flowed down the middle of his back.

He reached up with one of his hands and pawed at a string of saliva that was hanging from his lupine teeth. Oddly pronounced words tumbled from a mouth designed for killing and eating, not speaking.

“Now, it’s my turn.”

~ Zack Kullis

© Copyright 2014 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved