Friday, March 24, 2017

Adventures in La La Land - Elisabeth Meets a Chupacabra Part One

Part One

Elisabeth’s alarm went off, and her eyes flew open. Her hand instantly found the stake under the pillow. In a moment of lucidity, her brain registered that it was daylight. She quickly let go of the stake and started to go for the gun that she kept in a holster attached to the nightstand instead. Something deep in her wanted to initiate the escape plan that all Blue Moon team members had in place. It was a rule that applied to their homes, the office, and Home Base.

She sleepily dismissed that urge. She struggled to place exactly where she was. Her heightened senses did not give her the feeling that she was in danger. Cautious eyes scanned the room, while her brain worked to shake off the last gentle grip that sleep had on her. Sometimes the Sandman took a while to say goodbye.

It took a few moments, but she figured out where she was; and why she woke up in fight or flight mode. She was at home. That explained why it felt so alien, and she didn’t immediately realize where she was. Her home was usually the last place one would have to look to find her, most days. She woke up wanting to run because of the dream. By now she had no idea what it had been about, and that was probably a blessing.

A quick look at her bedside calendar elicited the first annoyed groan of the day. The reason why guaranteed that there would be plenty more to follow. She was assigned to work with Jack Frost, at Blue Moon for the next three days. The werewolf bounty hunter was not her favorite person on the team to partner with on cases. In fact, he was the only person that she disliked at all.

It wasn’t because of his past failed relationship with Akiko, either. Elisabeth was adult enough to separate her friends struggles to work with her ex-boyfriend, from her ability to work with an important part of the team. It had solely to do with who he was as a person. To say That Frost was unpleasant to work, and live with, was a gross understatement.

Extreme hostility was the neutral setting for Jack. He enjoyed playing the devil’s advocate at highly inappropriate times. The talented werewolf wrangled seemed to have this deep desire to debate, and bicker. It often left him blind to how horrible his timing was. On top of that, once Jack decided to get under your skin for whatever reason, he gave it all he had. It was a wonder that none of them had killed him by now.

Akiko endured it all because Jack Frost was the best werewolf bounty hunter in the area. His kind was not as prevalent on the west coast; as they were through the Midwest and Northeast. The agency was lucky to have him. They were just unlucky in the fact that his impressive talent came with the rankest attitude.

If someone better happened to come along, then maybe Akiko would consider replacing him. Until that day they would all have to just deal with Jack and all his infuriating personality traits. That was the price they all had to pay to make sure they could stay on top of cases involving werewolves. Not only was that a large part of the business, but it was also a large problem in the Golden State.

Begrudgingly, Elisabeth dragged herself into the shower. She sat up, a scowl imprinted on her face, and she feared it might be permanent. Several cigarettes and half a pot of coffee did nothing to improve her mood. The annoyed woman hoped that a visit to her favorite food truck would do the trick. As things currently stood Frost would not survive the day if she started out the day with him, like this.

As she hoped, her favorite food truck visit lifted her spirits. The fact that there was no traffic all the way to work certainly helped. She strolled into the office. She was immediately greeted by the new secretary, Mrs. Rachel Skylark.

The last one had recently quit. The whole thing had been a prime example of why Akiko was so hesitant to hire an administrative assistant or receptionist. She stood up and started screaming that stating that the clients were crazy, but the team was far more demented. Seeing Rachel also made Elisabeth happy.  She was efficient and made fantastic coffee. On top of that, she had no problem working overtime if something happened, and they were not able to close the office on time.

Rachel Skylark had come heavily recommended by her previous employers, who included several of the other reputable agencies that dealt with the supernatural. That alone was enough to make Akiko want to hire her. That meant she was steady in nature, and not easily rattled by anything that came her way. Akiko knew that Rachel would need minimal training in self-defense. She knew which end of the stake went in bloodsuckers, and what to do in case of a werewolf attack.

Mrs. Skylark was more than easy on the eyes, which made her an immediate target for the lecherous attention of Jack. There was a lot about her that drew the attention of anyone nearby. Her svelte figure stretched to an incredible five feet and nine inches. She stood eye to eye with Stetch, on days when she wore heels.

Rachel possessed this crooked smile, that was mischievous and infectious. A cute upturned nose graced her perfectly tanned face. Often, she used that very nose to push her cat-eyed glasses up her face when she did not have a hand available.

Her brown wide set eyes lit up the room and transformed her face into a luminous source of infinite beauty. She usually wore her chestnut [hued] hair up in a loose chignon. She was a proper married lady.  Her apparel was always demure, but flattering. That probably fueled his desires.

Jack took one look at her, and went for it so quickly; he missed the wedding ring. Rachel must have brutally shut him down. No one was witness to it, but they all knew something had happened. One day he was typical Jack Frost. Then suddenly de did not act himself in her presence. He was a schoolboy, and she was the principal.

“Good morning, Ms. Darling,” the happy woman chirped sweetly at the psychic.

Elisabeth smiled. The former bounty hunter turned secretary, also happened to be a former beauty queen. She was always pleasant and polite.

“Good morning to you too, Mrs. Skylark. Do I have any messages today?”

The secretary smiled while standing up. “Yes, you do as a matter of fact. Settle in, and I will bring them over with your coffee.”

Elisabeth thanked her and headed over to her desk. Typical of Jack, he was late and had not called her.
He was most likely trying to dislodge last night’s bar score from his bed. Elisabeth hoped that not only was there a girl in his bed that refused to leave, but that she was also a level ten clinger. That would serve him right. He deserved at least that much for being so inconsiderate as not to call.
Rachel soon showed up with her coffee and messages.

Elisabeth didn’t see any messages from him in her pile, which means he didn’t call the office to let Rachel know. He had not called Akiko, either. Elisabeth bit back another groan. Instead, she smiled at Rachel and asked her to call Jack. There was no resistance. Just a sweet smile.

Something about that woman was pure magic. Everything Rachel touched turned to gold. The way she managed the office wasn’t just a matter of being highly organized, task oriented, and skilled at coffee making. Every case that she brought in turned into a massive pile of cash for the agency.

Leafing through her messages, she put them in order of urgency, and priority. She was halfway through the stack of pink slips when her head snapped up. Elisabeth struggled to keep her face neutral, and her stomach acids where they belonged. Doing so was no easy task, as that feeling was telling her that Frost had just pulled into the parking lot. An [intense] feeling of dread settled in her innards.

She could feel his frenetic energy. It rolled away from him, in massive, and angry waves. Today was going to be a real rodeo. Elisabeth was now thankful that she had decided to be responsible last night.

Even though Layla had insisted she come down to the bar and hang out, Elisabeth had been stern in her decision to stay home. That was no easy feat. A night of drinking with the belted werewolf was always more fun than should be legal. On occasion, she was sure it was. The problem is that they could not usually remember large chunks of their time together.

Elisabeth was mid thought when Jack came storming through the front door. He swung it open with such force that she thought it would slam into the window behind it, and shatter both. His face twisted into a nasty sneer that frightened both women. When the door flew, open Rachel let go with a surprised gasp; it caught her off guard.

Rachel was unable to get out her usual greeting, as Jack stormed right past her desk, ripping the stack of notes off that sat on the edge. She started to let him know he took Akiko’s messages when he noticed and turned around. Stalking angrily back to Rachel’s desk, he slammed the papers down. Without a word, he shoved his hand out and waited until she managed to fumble his messages into his waiting palm.

As he passed Elisabeth on his way to her desk, she became aware of a smell she that was very familiar. Every single drinker had a story about that one liquor that they would never drink again, because of that one time they almost died. For Elisabeth that was gin. Just her luck, Jack smelled like a distillery full of it. Today was going to be fantastic.

Rachel decided to bury herself in her work and pretend as if none of that had just happened. Elisabeth decided to do the same. She had never seen him like this before. The next hour was pretty calm, with Jack falling asleep as his desk; leaving the two startled women to breathe a little easier. Letting him sleep just seemed like a wise decision based on how he had entered.

The phone ringing pierced the quiet of the office. Elisabeth tried to listen, but she was unable to hear anything. After she had hung up the phone, she threw a few nervous glances at them, as she placed a phone call. Afterward, Rachel waved them both over to her desk. All of Elisabeth’s fears about how the day was going to go were confirmed when the secretary announced what type of case it was.

“Well you two are not going to believe this, but I just got a chupacabra call.”

Jack rolled his eyes and huffed gin-tinged breath onto both women. “Are you serious,” he asked in a tone that was more than slightly annoyed.

The team had all been out on at least one chupacabra call each. A few of the team, like Jack, had gone out on several. They always ended up being dogs, or coyotes, with mange.

The person who called always pays, of course. And the team member who catches that call is compensated for gas and other travel expenses. The annoying part was that these calls always came out from ranches out on the other side of creation. Elisabeth was equally annoyed. She just hid it better.
Elisabeth took a deep breath. “How far out is this call?”

From the look on Rachel’s face, she knew it was bad. The secretary nearly whispered the answer to them. “It's out in San Bernardino County, in Newberry Springs.”

Jack let loose with a string of curse words that would have made a sailor blush. “Well we need to get on the road,” he spat out.

He stormed off leaving Elisabeth full of dread, and Rachel relieved. She would be clear of whatever nasty mood Jack had worked up. Everyone was used to the temper flares of Akiko. Supernatural bounty hunting was a high-stress industry, and she was responsible for a lot of lives.

She didn’t just count the people on her staff, and team. She also considered every single person in the greater area of Los Angeles to be her responsibility, when it came to the supernatural. Everything else was up to Seth, and the rest of the LAPD. There was also the fact that she did not deal out her anger to the undeserving. Very rarely did she unload on an unsuspecting victim. If she did, it was Jack; and they all understood.

The flustered psychic turned to the rattled secretary, “can I get the rest of the details? I will fill him in, once we get in the car.”

“The rancher who called it in says that there have been three separate incidents. Each time he finds several of his stock completely drained of blood, and partially eaten.”

She was about to ask if she had spoken with Akiko about it when Rachel cut the thought short. “Akiko said that she wants you two to go since it didn’t sound like the other cases. I did try to save you the drive.”

Elisabeth thanked her and then went to check to see if she had an overnight bag in her car. When she got back, Jack was sitting at his desk, with his shades on and his car keys jingling in his hands. Well, she mused to herself; at least the drive out there wouldn’t be boring.

As predicted, the trip to San Bernardino was full of excitement. Jack kept the pedal pushed down to 90 miles per hour, which was made worse by the fact that they had taken an SUV from the motor pool. Sudden turns, or lane changes, left Elisabeth feeling like the vehicle might tip. She tried to talk to Jack more than once. Her efforts hit a wall built of icy blank stares and half growls.

Newberry Springs turned out to be an agricultural area, which boasted its historical water supply. The temperate water was suitable for growing several crops. Elisabeth started to notice both ranches and farms.
Jack had slowed down to the point where the scenery was more than a blur that flew by. While she was not able to identify most of the trees, she was delighted with the wild variety of animals. There were ostriches, buffalos, and even turkeys.

Once she saw they were only twenty miles from the ranch she started to fill Jack in on the details of the case. The client was a man named Rob Barrett, although he was not the one who had called it in. One of his employees who ran the day to day operation in his absence had called, with Mr. Barrett’s permission. His name was Javier Martinez.

Javier had told Rachel that he suspected it was a chupacabra based on several things. The first was that the animals were all completely drained of blood. There had been things done to the corpses that did not match with a chupacabra, but there was no such thing as an expert on the subject. Not that he had been able to find.

On top of being dry, the carcasses also had the entrails pulled out. There were also gnaw marks, and chunks of flesh and skin were missing. Something had eaten parts of the dead animals. It was not like anything that he had heard of, and he knew all of the urban legends. That is all is all he had taken them for until the deaths started on the ranch.

He tried to find other explanations when he found the first set of victims. It had been an ostrich and a border collie. There were coyotes, but they had never had issues before. Llamas guarded the birds, along with several large breed guardian dogs.

While they were still zipping along, she had used the time to call Randall, to see what he could tell her about the people that they were going to see. Elisabeth, as usual, was impressed with what he had dug up on the client. He had gone as far as to dig through the man’s bank records and current business dealings. Everything was kosher, and he was up to date on all his taxes. Rob Barrett had never been arrested or sued. In fact, Randall had only been able to find one speeding ticket, from when the client was just seventeen.

Records showed he paid his staff more than fairly. If Randall were partial to manual labor and the sun, he would consider applying for the amount the handful of men and women were making. He had told Elisabeth that he had also researched Javier’s claims. A local newspaper had run a few stories on it.

When they arrived at the ranch, Elisabeth immediately fell in love with the wide-open space, fresh air, and animals. She could see herself spending the rest of her days in a place like this, far away from the things that went bump in the night. She allowed herself to fantasize about leaving the agency, to just be an average person again.

The fantasy evaporated when she realized that she had never been an ordinary person. Her life had been a play, where she put on her best mask; and pretended to be just like everyone else. Her nerves vibrated and twanged. There was something out here. Maybe not a chupacabra, but something out here was like her; not human. That part of her that would never be normal was wide awake and seeking the source of what she was feeling.

Where are you, she thought to herself. What are you? Not human, she answered in her head; getting out of the truck to stretch.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Walk Home

Deidre had been deeply embedded in a book about Greek mythology when she felt a soft tap on her shoulder. She looked up to find the kind face of the old security guard standing above her; a kind smile plastered on his face. She pulled her headphones out and looked up, wondering what she had done wrong.

“I’m sorry to disturb you young lady, but it's time for the library to close. If you want to check that out, you had better hurry. Ms. Winifred is ready to go home.”

His smile took her back to happier times, with a man she barely remembered. Her father had been sixty-five when he died of a sudden heart attack. Dee was five, but if she closed her eyes and thought hard, she could still remember his smile. The nine years that had passed since he died had not been able to rob her of that. Of course, there were pictures, but she could still remember the real thing.

The quiet girl was gathering her things when suddenly a thought broke through the happy memories and caused her heart to ricochet around in her chest. The library closed at six o’clock at night. The sun was set to go down at five o’clock that evening. An intense shiver rocked her tiny body.

Usually, getting home after dark was not something that bothered her all that much. Especially since her mother, who worked as a flight attendant would not be home for a few more days. The trip home could go one of two ways. She could cut through the park that ran alongside her neighborhood, or she could walk around. Dee decided neither option sounded very safe, given the current circumstances.

The cops had come to her school to talk to all the kids. There was a serial killer on the loose, and the victims had all been girls between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. They talked to the kids about always traveling in groups, and making sure that someone always knew where you were. The officers also said to not be out at night alone. All the young ladies who had disappeared had all been out at night alone.

Her shoulders slumped as she walked up to the front counter to check out her book. Her cell phone had died two hours ago, and she had forgotten her charger. Dee was going to have to get over her anxiety long enough to ask to use the phone. It wasn’t the asking that was causing her throat to slam shut. It was who she had to call.

Her stepfather had not always been so bad. She wouldn’t go so far as to say she loved him, but when her mom had first married him it seemed like it would be okay. It had been acceptable for a while. Then he lost his job. At that point, he started to drink a lot, but only when her mom was on long flights. He was sober as the day he was born by the time his wife landed, so she was none the wiser about how bad things had been. Deidre had suffered for six long months in silence, just unsure of how to approach it.

She wanted to believe that her mother would take her word for it, but there was always that chance. There was no proof, and Dee had not warmed up to him. She was not rude and tried to treat him with the utmost respect in every single situation. What her mother would most likely focus on is how Dee treated her stepfather as if he did not exist. Something about him just did not sit right with Deidre, and she could not force herself past it. The only thing she could do was act as children of older times were expected to; she only spoke to him when he talked to her first.

Since her mother had left yesterday morning, Dee knew what to expect if he came to get her. He would be drunk as a sailor and three times as mean. Once, he grabbed her off her bed, and her foot caught on the part of the frame. Her three smallest toes swelled up like Vienna sausage, and she walked with a limp for a full week. It had hurt so badly. She told everyone, including her mother, that she had fallen off her bike.

Setting her books on the counter, Dee forced herself to make eye contact with Ms. Winifred.

“Ma’am, may I please use the phone? I need to see if my stepfather can pick me up.” The youngish librarian smiled and put the phone on the counter.

“I will trade you the phone for your library card.” Deidre felt a genuine smile creep across her face as she set her card on the counter, and grabbed the phone.

“Thank you very much,” she said politely. Ms. Winifred smiled. “You are very welcome Dee.”

Dee had to dig to be able to muster up her courage to pick up the receiver and started to dial her home phone. It rang a handful of times before the answering machine kicked in. “Hey Jim, this is Dee. I was wondering if you could pick me up at the library. I will try your cell.”

Her second attempt was just as fruitless. She graciously thanked the librarian again as she gathered up her books. There was no other choice but to walk. She stepped outside the doors and was immediately hit in the face with a cold wind. Dee pulled her hood up, before turning to wave goodbye to the concerned looking guard.

“I’ll be okay. It is a short walk.” He just nodded in response, and slowly shut the door.

Deidre hoped that had not been a lie. She started walking towards her home, still not entirely sure if she would go through the middle of the park, or skirt around the edges. Going around the outside statistically would be the safest. It was well lit, with traffic going by steadily. The only downside was that it would add another ten minutes to her trip. From the library to the park was already a ten-minute walk. If she cut through the park, it would shave five minutes off her journey time. However, the park was not well lit and often had rough types hanging about at night.

By the time she reached the park, Deidre knew what she was going to do. She needed to pee so bad her back teeth were floating. Her mother hated it when Deidre said that, but the memory was distinct. It was a saying that was picked up from her father, and the stubborn girl would not ever let it go. She also had this nagging feeling in the very back of her brain that said she needed to get home as quickly as possible. It was not a feeling she planned on ignoring; Dee would be extremely vigilant and move quickly.

The teenager both loved, and loathed this park. During the day, it was a place of magical weeping willows, and ethereal smelling eucalyptus. At night, it was something ripped from a nightmare, or any scary movie she had ever seen. Street kids had broken every other street lamp. The rest were out of order. Older kids who ran with street gangs like to hang out there to drink and get high. Sometimes some dull people wandered over from the nearby hospital after they were kicked out of the psychiatric ward once they convinced staff that they were not a danger to themselves or anyone.

Once again, she wished her stepfather had answered the phone. Dee did not have to wonder why he did not pick up, even though she had called ten times in a row. He was either passed out or too drunk to care that there was this incessant shrill screaming coming from the phone which sat next to his armchair.

She looked up at the cloud clogged sky and wished that the full moon would break through. It would provide light through the areas where the overhead lights were out of order. Pulling her books closer to her, Deidre took a deep breath and started down the path that entered the city park. Every step with no incidence brought with it a small reward of a confidence boost.

The sound of crunching leaves behind her brought all that crashing down onto the cold winter ground. Deidre’s heart stopped beating for a few seconds, and she forgot to breathe. A sense of dizziness washed over her, which forced her to stop walking. Before she knew what was happening her knees buckled and she felt herself moving towards the ground. There was nothing she could do to stop it.

Moments before she thought she would strike the ground, Dee found herself being swept up into strong arms. It took her a few deep breathes to figure out what had happened. Completely mortified, Dee allowed him to help her onto her feet. Once she was steady, she slowly extracted herself from his arms.

She managed to swallow the hard lump in her throat to open her mouth, and make words.

“Thanks,” was all she managed That was okay with her. It was better than her saying something mortifying. That was her strong suit.

Dee forced herself to look up and look him in the eyes. She immediately wished she hadn’t. He was gorgeous. She found herself being pulled deep into the profound depths of his brown eyes. The characteristics of his face reminded her of a statue she had once seen of a Spartan soldier. The angles were very masculine and pleasing to look upon. His brown hair was cut stylishly short. The shaken teen forced herself to hold the eye contact while she introduced herself. Anxiety was not going to get the best of her tonight.

“I mean it. Thanks. I don’t know what just happened. As silly as it sounds I thought you might be the serial killer, or whatever,” she said with a nervous laugh.

“I might be,” he said with a wink and a hearty laugh.

Deidre started to relax, but not so much that she forgot that she needed to get home. “Well, either way, I appreciate you not letting me face plant onto the filthy ground.”

He made a formal bow and then held out his hand for her hand. Dee eyeballed the extended hand for a few seconds before offering her own. The handsome boy gently cradled it in his own, kissing the top.

“My name is Nick. It's very pleased to meet you. Given that there is a danger in you being alone, can I please walk you home?”

Dee was sure she did not want to be alone in this dark and mostly empty park alone, while there was a serial killer on the loose. She looked at the young man who had so graciously made the offer. She knew that serial killers their age existed, but the cops were looking for a much older man. They doubted a teenager would have the stomach or strength to carry out the mutilations they were seeing. Deidre felt it would be safer to walk with him.

“Ok. I just live on the other side of this park. I appreciate the offer. It's scary in this part of town at night. Especially in this park.” He nodded as if he understood.

“Well, I am happy to escort you.”

They started to make small talk as they walked down the path that meandered through the park. Though there was nothing abnormal about the topic of his choice, something about him was setting her teeth on edge. His words seemed hollow, and there appeared to be an effort to seem sincere. The more they talked, the more Deidre felt he was overly charming like he was attempting to disarm her. Very suddenly she wanted to be far away from him, locked in the safety of her home.

When she saw the bathrooms up ahead, she let out a relieved breath. That was the two-minute marker to her house. She searched for the words to thank and dismiss Nick.

“Thanks for walking with me. I’m just going to go to the restroom; then I can make it the rest of the way. If my stepdad sees me with a boy, he will freak.”

The boy smiled. “Are you sure? I was hoping to see you again, and I can’t do that if you get kidnapped.”

Deidre felt herself blush deeply. “I’m sure. I’m seriously only two minutes from my house.”

He tilted his head to the side and studied her face in the limited light. Finally, he shrugged and nodded his head.

“If you are sure you are ok.”

She felt her apprehension lessen. It was nice to have company, but she did not want the strange boy to see where she lived. Giving a little wave, Dee walked into the women’s restroom. By now her bladder was painfully protesting against the waistband of her jeans. She had managed to not pee on herself in front of the cute, but weird boy, and she prayed she could just hold it for a few more moments.

Once she entered, she immediately remembered why she had always hated this bathroom. The city had painted it several times over the last year, and probably used more cleaning solvents than was approved by the EPA. The smell of urine was still as strong as it had ever been. Additionally, there was one row of lights above, with two fluorescent tubes in there. Only one was still able to produce light down the middle of the aisle. Above the sink hung one bare bulb on a wire. It swayed back and forth, like a pendulum. Dee didn’t feel any wind.

One of the faucets dripped, and the sound urged her further into the bathroom. Her bladder would not withstand another scare. As she approached the first stall, the hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up. Her stomach filled with a deep dread that she had never felt before; not even when she knew a beating was coming her way. Gathering up what remained of her courage Dee entered the first stall and quickly locked the door behind her. Once she could empty her bladder, she started to feel some semblance of relief; until she heard the creaking of a stall door.

Her blood curdled in its veins, and Dee resisted the urge to scream. Once again, she cursed her stupidity. It had been a mistake to send Nick away. Finishing up, she tried to convince herself it was just the wind. The same wind that was causing the slow creak of the bare bulb swinging back and forth on its wire. Flushing the toilet, she took a deep breath and grabbed her purse. At the last second, she pulled her house keys out, and fitted one key in between each finger, with the sharp ends facing out. If she had to, she would go straight for the eyes.

Taking a deep breath, she sped out of the stall, ready to fight. Chest heaving with anxiety, Deidre took a few seconds to realize she was alone. Feeling drained, she slid her keys into the pocket of her pants so that she could wash her hands. The cold water shocked her system into an odd sense of calm. Drying herself off on the old air hand dryer, Deidre pondered what might have given her such an unsettled feeling about Nick. He had been stunning, and she was slightly sad that she would probably never see him again.

As Dee walked out, she was surprised to see Nick still waiting.

He was casually leaned against the side of the building, nonchalantly whistling some unknown tune. When he heard the girl approaching he stopped to plead his case. “Don’t be mad. I’m sorry. I couldn’t leave. You know what the kids at my school say about the murders?”

She shook her head. Deidre didn’t hang out with anyone from her school. She had no idea what teens her age thought. The closest thing Dee had to friends were the adults that were often met as the teen wandered through life. There was no way she would ever tell Nick that. He looked like the type to make friends every single place that he went.

“They say there is a werewolf running around these parts. The beast seems to have a taste for cute girls, out late at night. And you are both.”

She was flattered but put off. The combination of not knowing why she didn’t trust Nick, along with offhand jokes of being a serial killer earlier in the night was too much for her. She was starting to feel very uncomfortable.

“You don’t believe in werewolves do you,” Dee stammered as she stepped back.

He threw his head back, and let loose a full-bodied belly laugh. As if on cue, the dark and heavy clouds above started to part. The full moon broke through like a spotlight, illuminating the entire park. With growing horror, Deidre watched his face and body began to morph as he answered, “I don’t know. I just might.”

The young girl froze in place. Every fiber of her being wanted her legs to move her towards her home, but it was useless. Deidre couldn’t turn her eyes away from the horror that was unfolding in front of her. It was all happening in slow motion. It began with the elongation of his face, to form a snout and wolfish ears.

A warm stream of liquid ran down her leg, as his skin started to split; allowing a thick pelt to break through. The beast began to look less like the handsome boy who had been escorting her home, and more like what she had read about the last time her mother had to leave on a long flight. Long arms now covered in fur supported a solid body, which was cut with striated muscles.

The transformation was complete, and the werewolf sprang at her. She could see the gleam of saliva on the canine teeth as the monster flew through the air. She opened her mouth to scream, but it was cut short as her windpipe was crushed.