Emily peered into the dark recesses of her school locker seeking out her tattered book of poetry. She simply knew it was in there somewhere, perhaps behind her Unicorn covered notebook.
She felt hands squeeze her breasts and a bulge rub against the crack of her ass. She shrieked and spun around. John let go of her and laughed. Then he walked away. His locker was just seven lockers from hers and had been since the start of high school four years ago. She snarled.
He looked her over. Black dress as always, black eye shadow, black lipstick, and black fingernails adorning pale white fingers. She was the typical Goth chick in his mind.
He turned back to his locker and started working the dial.
Emily decided to make her move. She wanted a date for the homecoming dance, and John the football player would serve. She summoned every last bit of courage, and approached him. She tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to face her. She moved in to kiss him on the lips.
He stepped backwards and hissed. “Don’t do that!”
“Why not? You started it.”
“I wouldn’t want to be seen with you.”
“What? Why not?”
“You’re a Goth chick! I have standards.”
She glared, and then turned away. She went back to her locker and found her book of poetry. She made her way to her ancient Pinto and drove home. After dinner, she and her mom were doing dishes in the kitchen when her mom said, “You know it’s a full moon tonight.”
Mom continued, “Well you know how your father gets during the full moon. You should stay at a friend’s house tonight.”
Emily sighed. She didn’t want to spend the night in the woods, and if she called upon any of her few and far between friends, they would freak out when they learned the truth. So, she’d spend the night in the woods like so many other nights over the years.
Emily’s mom could see her resistance, and her mom spoke quietly, “Just be glad this isn’t the dark ages. Be glad you weren’t born male.”
Emily nodded. “I know. I know.”
Emily went to her room. She stripped naked. She put on a red silk robe. She went downstairs. Her dad smiled at her.
“I’m sorry, honey,” he said. “You just don’t know what it’s like for males.”
“I’ve heard this story a thousand times, Dad. I’ll run through the woods. I’ll be fine.”
“Thanks, honey. I’m glad you understand.”
She didn’t understand though. She hated it. She walked out to the back porch and noticed a faint glint of the moon rising on the horizon. She felt a stir in her belly.
* * *
John played football that night. Hell, he more than played, he scored two touchdowns, sacked the quarterback, and intercepted two passes. He played the whole first half and the last quarter. His teammates called him Iron Man for playing offense and defense. His coach reminded him after every game that he’d have to choose offense or defense when he made it to college.
He hadn’t gotten any offers to go to any colleges, but with almost a year of high school left and most of the school’s football season left, there was still time. He’d be on the local 11 o’clock news on two channels for sure.
The buses dropped them off at the school, and he was counting on his sister to pick him up. His sister was a no show. He waited. He stood alone in the parking lot in the moonlight. He knew in his heart his sister was off blowing some hobo or stoned out of her gourd, so he started walking. The path was lit with streetlights all the way home, but nearly three miles. He knew if he cut through the woods it would be closer to two miles, and he knew the way, and he had the moonlight.
He took off in a slow jog.
He made his way down a well-known path when he saw the eyes. Just two eyes that flashed in the moonlight off to the side of his path. He slowed, and stopped. A wolf bigger than any canine John had ever seen stepped directly into his path. Mostly grey except its face which seemed to be painted with strips of black.
“Nice doggy,” John said.
The wolf smiled a canine smile and started wagging its tail. John held his palm out below the animal’s nose, so it could get a good sniff of his scent. The wolf sniffed at his hand. John petted the animal, and it wagged its tail even more. John smiled, and thought to himself, I’m not going to die after all.
The beast bit down viciously on John’s hand, and out of reflex, John smacked it upside the head with his left. The wolf let out a yelp and ran into the woods.
John looked at his hand. It bled bad. He took off his shirt and wrapped it around the puncture holes. He took off in a jog again keeping pressure on his right with his left. By the time he made it home, the shirt was soaked, but the bleeding had mostly stopped. His mom screamed when she saw him.
“Let me see,” his dad said. “Unwrap it.”
John gingerly unraveled the bloodstained shirt from his hand. His dad looked, grabbed his hand, and turned it this way and that. “Wiggle your fingers.”
John wiggled his fingers.
“You need stitches,” Dad said. “You need a Tetanus shot. You likely need Rabies shots.”
“It’s barely a scratch!”
“You’ve never had a Tetanus shot,” Mother said, “so now is as good a time as any. And if a dog bit you it might have rabies. If we could find the dog, we could find out if it has rabies.”
“It was a wolf!”
“You shouldn’t go through the woods!” Dad exclaimed.
“It was my sister’s fault! She was supposed to pick me up.”
His parents nodded. His dad grabbed car keys. “Let’s go, boy.”
“I don’t want to go to the hospital!”
“Quit being a cry baby,” Mom said. “You’d think they intend to cut off your penis. Tetanus is fatal. Rabies is fatal. You need shots.”
John sighed. His dad started making tracks for the garage. John followed. They drove in silence to the hospital. The doctor stitched him up. The doctor gave him two shots that he would rather have not had. The doctor gave him the bright news that he’d have to come in for more rabies shots over the next 28 days unless they found the canine that bit him.
The doctor handed him a white envelope. “Take this before bed tonight.”
“What is it?” John asked.
“Just a little something to help calm your nerves.”
“What is it?”
“Just a five milligram Valium. I’ve seen you play, you’re good.”
“What is Valium?”
“It’s a sedative,” the doc said. “It’s like a little treat. Take it.”
“Keep it, doc. Drugs aren’t treats.”
“Good for you. Your family doctor will likely administer the rest of the Rabies shots.”
John’s dad was asleep in the waiting room when John emerged. They drove home in silence. John wanted to say so bad, “Why don’t you ever come and watch me play?” He knew the answer though. His dad hated sports. He considered them a waste of time. John should be concerned with a real job, not playing with his friends.
* * *
As the moon set that morning, Emily donned her silk robe and went into the house to take a shower. She was tired, so tired the weariness seemed to creep into the joints between her bones. Her stomach growled its empty growl. She decided the shower could wait and started foraging through the kitchen for food. She ate and ate. She headed towards the stairs and her room, but the couch lured her in with its soft cushions and warm blanket.
School days passed by, and John made no more moves to grope her. Word around the school though was he still didn’t have a date for Homecoming. There were at least four girls ready to put out for him, but he seemed intent to make them fight over him. Perhaps he planned to do them one-by-one. Perhaps he preferred boys. The girls talked and talked about his reasons. None were sure one way or the other though.
A quick month passed, and John found himself walking home through the woods from a football game once again thanks to his whore of a sister. The moon crept up into the sky, and a gut-wrenching tightness descended on John’s insides.
He stumbled to his knees and hands. His back arched in pain as he felt his muscles stretch. His skin started to tingle and then burn as hair grew into a fur coat. His mind started to slip, and he ripped all his clothes off. His hands grew into paws with sharp claws. His arms stretched out as his gut wrenched. He knew hunger. He knew nothing else. He started to run sniffing at the air. He smelled what he knew in his carnal heart to be a rabbit.
He chased down the scent until he found the rabbit. He practically ripped it in two and feasted on all but the bones and fur, and in his fury, he ate some of the bones and fur, too.
He started racing through the woods searching out another rabbit. He saw a squirrel out of the corner of his eye and tried to chase it down. Then he heard a howl in the distance. He ran towards the sound, for it sounded pretty. He saw a grey wolf with black streaks painted on its face. The wolf turned its butt towards John, and John knew in his heart that the other wolf was female. His rod sprung to attention, and he had no choice but to carnally mount the other wolf.
As their bodies separated, the other wolf ran into the woods. John just lay on the ground panting, satiated and hoping for another rabbit. He saw another squirrel and chased it down ripping it to pieces and feasting on the tender flesh and innards.
As the moon set, John’s body and mind wrenched its way back into human form. He was naked, alone, and in the woods. He took off in a run towards home. He jetted past other houses and made his way through the back door of his house. He ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. His hands and face were covered in blood. He hopped in the shower.
He stood under the pelting hot shower and pondered his fate. Was he a werewolf? Was he going to turn into a wolf again?
He climbed out of the shower and dried off. He got dressed. He heard his mom shout, “Breakfast!”
He raced downstairs. He ate like a fiend, asking for seconds and then asking for thirds. He looked to his mom and dad. His sister wasn’t around, of course.
“Mom, Dad, remember that wolf that bit me?”
“Of course,” Dad said.
“Last night I turned into a wolf, Dad.”
“What!” Mom howled.
“You’re doing drugs!” Mom said.
“I am not!”
“LSD is a bad drug, John,” Dad said. “Don’t ever take it from anyone. Are we clear?”
“I turned into a wolf!”
“You just had a bad acid trip, honey,” Mom said. “It happens if you’re doing drugs.”
John sighed. Then he realized. Maybe somebody did slip him something. He shrugged it off. What are you going to do, he thought.
Monday arrived. John was at his locker. Emily approached him. “Hi, John.”
John turned on her and said, “What do you want?”
Emily smiled at him.
John noticed the makeup again for a second time. Emily was the werewolf.
“So, we’re going out?” Emily asked.
“We’re not going out.”
“You’re a Goth chick.”
“I am not!”
“You wear all black,” John said. “You wear black lipstick. Black everything.”
Emily frowned. “I look good in black.”
“I can’t go out with a Goth chick.”
Emily’s eyes narrowed. “You want me to wear a pink miniskirt and matching halter top?”
John smiled. “Yes.”
Emily turned and left him to his fate. She knew, without the right concoction of herbs, he would be an uncontrollable monster. He would kill. He would be hunted. He was doomed. She smiled.
* * *
John’s thoughts began to race between his harsh new reality and the everyday events unfolding before him. His math teacher lectured on the greatness of the cosine function while John’s mind drifted ceaselessly to that bitch of a werewolf, Emily, who bit him and infected him with the lycanthropy. He would turn into a wolf again, and that thought echoed in his head over and over. As the day progressed, the muscles in his neck began to ache from the stiffness caused by his errant thoughts. He walked in a trance to his locker. Emily put a few books in her locker and slammed it closed.
He chased after her. “You gotta help me!”
“Why would I do that?”
“I’m a human being!”
Emily smiled. “Not any more. Now you’re a creature of the night.”
John glared. “If you don’t help me, I swear, everyone in this town, hell, everybody in the state will know you’re a werewolf.”
Emily’s eyes opened wide.
“Help me,” John begged.
Emily smiled. “My dad takes an herbal concoction. It helps him keep his humanity when he changes.”
“What does he take!”
“I don’t know. I take a different herbal mix. I’ll have to ask him.”
“Ask him when you get home. Call me.” He scribbled his number on a piece of paper and handed it to her. She hesitated. Then she took the number and stuck it in her pocket. They caught their separate buses home.
Emily’s house was empty, and that suited her plans perfectly. She went into the basement. She grabbed the shelves just so and pulled a section of wall out of the way. She reached in the secret room and hit a light switch. A thick book sat under a simple incandescent bulb in the center of the alcove. Emily stepped up to the book and paged to the index. She found the remedy to halt the transformations and wrote down the herbs and dosages. She closed the book and resealed the room. She went upstairs to her room and dialed John.
He answered, “Emily! Did you talk to your dad?”
“I talked to Dad, yeah. Here’s what you need to take to stop the transformations.” Then she rattled off the list of ingredients and dosages.
“Thanks a million. I guess you’re not a bad person, even if you are a Goth chick.”
Emily glared. “I’m not a Goth chick!”
“Yeah, yeah. Look, where do I get this stuff?”
“The best herb shop in town is on the south side. It’s called the Willow Connection. It’s on the corner of Elm and 15th street.”
“I’ll Google it!”
John hung up the phone. The computer produced a map, and John quietly approached his sister’s door. He knocked on the door.
“What?” His sister shouted.
“I need a ride, sis.”
“You know the deal. Mom and Dad pay for your car, and you have to give me a ride if I need a ride.”
“What do you need a ride for?” She asked.
“It’s a long story!”
John could hear his sister growl. She opened the door and poked her brother in the chest in a very painful way. “Where?”
“Elm and 15th street. I have a map.”
She didn’t say another word and headed straight for her car. They rode in silence. They pulled up outside the shop, and she snarled, “Hurry.”
“I need a few things. You gotta wait.”
John raced in the store. Nearly pitch-black inside, and no signs for anything. A woman wearing a long dark dress smiled a wide bright smile, and spoke in an almost musical tone, “The light will damage the potency of some herbs. Can I help you find anything?”
John nodded. “I need Horny Goat Weed, Cinnamon, and Cayenne.”
The woman tilted her head to the side, and one eye opened wider than the other. Her complexion radiated life and had a smooth flawless nature even though the wrinkles implied she was at least forty if not fifty years old. “This way.”
John followed her down the first aisle.
“That is an interesting combination of herbs you need,” she said. “We have all three, for certain. I can’t directly recall what the combination does, something ancient if my fogged memory serves at all.”
The horn sounded on John’s sister’s car, and John said, “I’m in a hurry.”
The woman grabbed a bottle off one shelf and held it out to John. Then she moved to another aisle and grabbed another bottle. Finally, she went to a refrigerator and withdrew a final bottle.
“How much?” John asked.
The horn sounded again from outside.
“Quickly! What do I owe you? She won’t honk again.”
The woman nodded. “Make it an even twenty.”
John handed over the money and took off in a run for the car.
His sister hit the gas and merged into traffic without bothering to look behind her or even into any of the mirrors. “What’d you get?”
“It’s not important.”
“You used up your one free trip this month, and it wasn’t important.”
“The rule isn’t one free trip a month,” John said. “It’s whenever I need a ride!”
“You’ve got a bike,” she said. “You’ve got perfectly good feet.”
“I swear if you don’t let up, I’ll find your stash and flush it down the toilet.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“I’ll do it.”
She glared at the road and slowly pressed the gas down until other cars flew by like turtles struggling against a strong headwind.
He started taking the pills every day. It eased his mind, if nothing else. Day by day, he could feel a change ever so slowly creeping into his body. He watched the calendar waiting for the full moon. It was due to rise at 7pm, and John went outside to wait.
The moon rose, and John’s body began to twist and contort. He howled, “Stop the transformation my ass!” His fur began to grow and his hands and feet turned into paws. He was the wolf again. He took off in a run towards the woods and freedom. He killed a rabbit and ate it raw. Through the night in simple little stages, he forgot his name, he forgot his family, and he forgot his life. The moon set.
Emily sat on her back porch in her robe, waiting. The wolf stepped into her backyard and eyed her. She smiled at it and whispered, “Come’ere, boy.”
The wolf smiled and walked up to her. She patted it on its head. He sat on his hind legs, wagged his tail, and barked once ever so politely.
“I will call you Benjamin,” Emily said. “I’ll feed you every day. I’ll play catch with you. We’ll go for long runs on the bike trail.”
The wolf barked again.