Authors: Glenn Rolfe
Nick waited outside Jenner's Grocery Friday morning.
What will Wes and Joel's piece look like? Are they really going to use my Full Moon Monster?
He thought about it so much last night after he returned from his romp through the woods that he had dreamt about it. In the dream, Wes and Joel had made
the monster. He had been the beast responsible for the killings. This morning, he'd woken up grinning.
He gazed at the bandage on his arm.
“Morning, Nick,” Dave Jenner said.
“Hey, Mr. Jenner.”
“You're here early.”
“Yeah. I just needed to pick up a few things.”
Mr. Jenner stepped aside and ushered him in. Nick went straight for the magazine rack in the closest checkout lane.
“Anything I can help you find?” Mr. Jenner said.
He didn't want to say. Nick knew that his original article had irritated a number of locals. He wasn't sure which side of the divide Dave Jenner was on.
There was only one copy of the
left. He grabbed it.
“That's last week's edition. New one should be coming in within the hour. Charlie and Nina usually get the weeklies out on the racks by nine or so.”
“You got something in there?”
“Not me. Not this time.”
Mr. Jenner glanced around and then lowered his voice. “Truth be told, I thought you were on to something.”
“Yeah, and I'd be lying if I said that what happened this past weekend didn't scare the shit outta me. Pardon my French.” Mr. Jenner's gaze dropped to Nick's arm. “You okay?”
Nick put his arm behind his back. “Yeah, I caught a touch of something earlier this weekâ¦”
“I thought I saw your car out by the park the other morning.”
“Oh that, yeah. I got a flat tire.” Nick tried to gauge whether Mr. Jenner was fishing for something or if it was just his paranoia.
“You musta been caught out in that storm, huh?”
“I, yeahâ¦lucky for me someone happened to come by andâ¦”A white van pulled up to the front doors.
“Oh, there's your vendor now.”
“Three Dead in Gilson Creek: Eyewitness Cries Return of Full Moon Monster”
“Thanks, Mr. Jenner.”
“You just keep me in the loop. You hear anything else, I wanna know. Sheriff doesn't seem to be able to connect the dots. Either that, or he's afraid to. Old Mike was the only one in town, well, besides you, who knew what really did that to those poor people.”
Nick promised and slipped outside.
Nick wasn't so sure about that one. Everyone knew what Old Mike thought it wasâa werewolf. Nick's assessment was much vaguer, at least he thought so. His Full Moon Monster was fictitious. His version could just as easily be a Bigfoot.
As much as the supernatural fascinated him, Nick still had yet to lay eyes upon any spirits or beasts. Like with Jesus, Atlantis, and aliens, seeing was more than believingâit was confirmation. Were these things possible? Of course. Anything was possible, but he didn't believe that God watched from above or that there was a great missing city under the sea. He'd never been abducted and right now, much to his own surprise, he was hoping that there wasn't a wolfman ripping apart the drones of his small-as-fuck hometown.
The “credible” account came from Theresa Turcott, the mother of Keith Turcott. The article went on to say that the “eyewitness” saw the fur-covered beast explode from the garage, after hearing the screams of her boy. She said “it ran into the woods”. Hmm. Nick wasn't sure what to make of it. Wes and Joel sure as hell believed. And they wanted him to “stay on the case”.
There was definitely something out there. He tossed the paper in the trash can by the Dunkin' Donuts and decided to jog home. He was feeling great. He'd never been an exercise guy, not outside of phys ed anyway, but he had pent-up energy that demanded release. Much like this morning, he ducked onto a path through the woods just past Gilbride Avenue and hoofed it all the way home. He could have run forever.
Ted McKinney hung up the phone with his drummer, Rick. The Broken Exes were headed out on tour for two weeks. It was a shitty move to pull out last minute, but he knew Rick's brother, Bobby, could fill in. Hell, Bobby was a better technical player. What they would lack in stage presenceâTed's forteâthey would more than make up with overall performance.
He also decided to still use his vacation time from the station. He needed to get away, but not too far away. He'd rented a room for the next couple of weeks at a little shithole place in a Hollis Oaks strip mall. It was called the Lobster Motorway Inn. Maybe he was batshit crazy, but he wasn't convinced that the sheriff believed the mountain lion story any more than he did. He didn't know how far Joe's acceptance for supernatural possibilities stretched, but he'd be willing to bet it was a lot farther than the man let on.
He packed his saddlebagsâlaptop, T-shirts, jeans, underwear, iPodâthen jumped on his bike and headed out.
His room wasn't quite ready when he got to the inn. He decided to hit up the 7-Eleven for his beer and cigarette rations.
Near the checkout, a
featuring Kirsten Dunst from the new
flick caught his attention. She'd come a long way since
Interview with a Vampire
. Ted picked it up and noticed the headline on the cover of the paper next to it. The
. He added it to his purchases.
Beer, babes and the
Return of the Full Moon Monster
: Tonight at the Lobster Motorway Inn!
He laughed to himself and grabbed a carton of cigarettes at the counter.
The girl with the tattooed knuckles and atrocious breath who was ringing him up asked him if he'd seen the new Spidey movie yet. He hadn't, and wished she would stop smiling at him with her blackened teeth. Luckily, she didn't ID him. Being a quasi-celebrity, the last thing he needed was this girl knowing where he was staying. He thanked her and left to check in.
His room featured a little kitchenette, a minifridge, a recliner on which the upholstery dated it back to the early eighties and a double-sized bed. Not the Waldorf Astoria, but a decent, livable space.
He kicked his feet up in the recliner and read the article on Gilson Creek's Full Moon Monster. The article made it sound like it could be a frigging Bigfoot, as much as a werewolf. Ted leaned toward the latter. The writers were on to something, but he wondered how much was for copy and how much was actually what they believed.
He pulled out his laptop, cracked a Bud and lit a smoke while he waited for the Inn's horrible connection to link him to the Internet. He typed “werewolf” in the search bar and hit Enter.
“Honey,” Joe called up the stairs. “Alex is here.”
“Be right down.”
Joe lifted his Stetson from his desk and stared at the headline on the trash ragâ“Eyewitness Cries Return of Full Moon Monster”. He'd asked Dave Jenner to take them down from his racks, but the grocer was as defiant as he was superstitious. He outright refused.
Joe scarfed up the copies in the first two aisles, but didn't have enough on him to snag the rest. So far, only Ann Shultz had asked about the wolfman. But he was sure more would speak up.
Tonight, though, he'd promised his daughter a return to normalcy. It was his night off and he wanted to spend it not thinking about the one thing he couldn't stop thinking about.
Joe placed his hat back over the paper and opened the door.
“Hey, Sheriff,” Alex said.
“Alex. Come on in. I hope you like baked pork chops and green bean casserole.”
“It's the most gourmet thing I know how to make. Otherwise, it's spaghetti or hot dogs.”
Sonya bounced down the stairs dressed in one of his old concert shirts and a knee-length red skirt, her blonde hair in a braid. She looked so much like Lucy, especially back in their younger days.
“Are you ready for Dad's âSheriff's Special'?”
Dinner flew by. Joe enjoyed talking with Alex about his father. Jack McKinney's son was a chip off the old block. Luckily his Uncle Ted's rock-jock, playboy lifestyle hadn't rubbed off on the boy. Joe would never fully approve of anyone courting his baby girl, but Alex McKinney was as close as he could imagine anyone would come. He was polite; whether from fear or respect, or both, Joe appreciated the courtesy. He was resilient and responsible. Joe knew the kid probably had his negatives too, but he seemed to make Sonya happy.
“Alex is giving me a ride to Kim's.”
“Oh, I thought we were going to watch a movie or something?”
“Sorry, Dad. Kim called earlier. She asked me to spend the night. Do you mind?”
“No. Go ahead, honey.”
She kissed his cheek and said, “Thanks, Dad. Love you.”
He watched her go. He would call Kim's mom to make sure the girls stayed indoors. Full moon or not, he didn't want them out after dark. As they drove away, Joe's mind turned back to the beast. For once he wished something else would happen in this town. A burglary, holdup, even a good, old-fashioned brawl down at Gil's.
He picked the Stetson up and reread Wes Kaplan's article. The bastard had actually had the balls to interview Theresa Turcott.
Joe tossed the paper and tried to distract his mind with a book.
Nick walked into the house to the sounds of his mother and her boyfriend fucking. Instead of going to his room and putting his headphones on, he plopped down on the living room sofa and cranked up the television.
After a minute, the moans ceased and someone mumbled. Jerry came out buttoning his jeans with a cigarette in his mouth. Nick's mom followed. Her afterglow made him ill.
“Hi, Nick,” Jerry said. Jerry picked up a T-shirt from the coffee table and slipped it on.
“Did you have a good time fucking my mom?”
“Jesus, Nick. Watch your mouth.”
“Sorry, Ma, but I could hear your moans halfway down the street.”
gonna get going,” Jerry said. He gave Nick's mom a kiss before heading for the door.
Nick sat with his arms folded across his chest, and stared daggers at his mom. The front door shut. After a few seconds, Jerry's car roared to life.
Nick's mom broke the silence.
“What in the hell was that all about?”
“What? Listen, you don't hear me humping girls into hysterics. How about taking my living here into consideration?”
“Maybe you should be humping some girls.”
Nick felt the heat flush his cheeks. His lips tightened. His hands clenched.
“You were out. You've been gone all morning. I didn't think the empty house would mind. Next time Jerry is here, you better apologize.”
Nick shut the television off and went to the kitchen.
His mother grabbed his arm.
“Don't fucking touch me.”
Her eyes went wide.
He opened the cupboard where she kept her booze and took the unopened bottle of tequila with him to his room. He left his mother near tears in the kitchen.
Stan Springs sat at the black-and blue-tile-covered bar of Gil's Tavern, nursing a Jack and Coke. The place seemed quiet for a Friday night, but what the hell did he know? Up until a few nights ago, he hadn't been in the place in over seven years. He hadn't even recognized the young kid with all the arm tattoos, tending bar. Billy Richman, Greg Richman's boy.
All grown up with nowhere to go. Guess tending bar beat out your father's hope that you would play in the big leagues.
There were a few older fellas at the end of the bar, drinking Budweiser and talking about how right Bill O'Reilly always was, and how unfair it was of this treacherous country of ours to be disrespecting George W. over the war in Iraq. Stan even heard them refer to “all the democrats down in Portland” as “a bunch of queers”.
Just like in his dreams, he would enjoy devouring as many of them as he could.
The dreams had intensified since his feedings a week ago. He couldn't sit at home in peace. The dark visions had crawled back into his days as well. The black forest, the skeletal limbs clawing at him, and the anger.
Joe Fischer and that cafÃ© whore pushed him back into this madness. Who the hell did they think they were? He'd been avoiding both of them since Joe's big pop-in warning, but there was payback coming. He was going to make damn sure of that. Right now, the whiskey and the scumbags around him were fuel enough for his rage. And he welcomed it.
“Hey, Deputy, off tonight?” Billy Richman said.
Stan glanced over at Dwayne Clarke. One of Joe's boys.
“Yep. Can I get a Happy Meal?”
“Coming right up.”
“What the hell's a Happy Meal?” Stan grumbled.
The young deputy looked surprised.
“Ahâ¦it's a shot of whiskey and a tall boy.”
Stan left the response in the air between them. He smirked at the boy and went back to his drink in silence.
“You're Sheriff Springs.”
Stan held his glass just before his lips. “Not anymore.” He finished the glass and slammed it down. “Another.”
Billy mixed him another and placed it down on a fresh napkin.
“What's the line on last weekend?”
“Don't play dumb with me, boy. What'd Joe tell you happened to those folks?”
“Looks like we got a wild animal on our hands.”
“Is that so? Just like in '97?”
“Highly unlikely that the two are related, but, yeah, from what I know about the attacks that year, it looks a lot like it.”
“You sure you ain't heard nothing else.”
“You know something we don't?”
Stan pushed back from the counter, then stood.
Deputy Clarke was startled, but regained his composure.
Stan downed his drink, stopped behind the deputy and dropped a heavy paw on his shoulder. Clarke tensed beneath his palm. “Why don't you ask your sheriff what happened to the last young deputy who went chasing wild animals for him.” He patted Clarke's shoulder and started for the door.
Stan didn't wait for a reply. He didn't care what the kid had to say. If he stepped in his way, Dwayne Clarke would end up just like Brett Curry. Stan climbed into his pickup. He rarely used the vehicle. He preferred to walk, but he had plans for tonight.
Across town, Melanie Murdock tried hard not to fall asleep on her couch. The heat wave currently clinging to Gilson Creek sapped all of her energy. She was lying on her way-too-comfortable sofa with a box fan pointed directly at her. Regardless of the artificial breeze, this heat had her sweating like crazy. Even lounging in only a tank top and bikini bottoms was too much to bear.
She was alone again on a Friday night. The story of her life. She was trying to make it through an AMC showing of the horror classic
. They always played horror movies on AMC on Friday nights, and since breaking up with Jack four months ago, she hadn't missed one single movie that was part of their
She loved scary movies, always had. Jack had absolutely detested them. Telling her that the people who watched them were sick and got off on that crap. He was a westerns guy. It was Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, or bust. If she had to see another movie about a guy riding a horse into a town where nobody knew him, only to have him rescue its people from a mustache-wearing bad guy whom he had no business interfering with, it would be too fucking soon. She'd love to see John Wayne mosey up to Michael Myers and see how far that would get him. She was guessing he'd get grabbed by the throat, lifted off his feet and finished off with about five stabs to the chest. Now
she would watch.
She was startled when her phone rang.
“Hey, Mel. It's Joe. I didn't wake you, did I?”
Her heart fluttered. Nervous and excited, not to mention surprised, she tried hard not to let any of those emotions through with her response. “No, I was just watchingâ”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“I was watching it myself and I remembered you talking at the cafÃ© about this
thing on AMC a couple weeks ago. Truth be told, I'm just glad they're not showing
“What, you don't like werewolf movies? Don't tell me you bought into any of that crazy wolfman shit that Old Mike used to spout off about?”
There was silence from the other end of the line.
“Sheriff?” Melanie said. “Are you still there?”
“Joe,” he finally said. “You can call me Joe. And, yeah, I'm still here. Truth is, or, rather, the reason I was calling was to, uhâ¦”
She found his vulnerability appealing.
“Mel,” he continued, “I was wondering if you wouldn't mind having company. That is, if you might want someone to watch the movie with.”
“Yeah, I think I'd love that,” she said.
“Great. Should I come over? Or, do you want to swing over here?”
“Either way is fine with me,” she said. “Is Sonya home?”
“No, she's over at her friend's for the night. Tell you what, how about I swing over to your place? I can grab us something from Anthony's on the way. If you're hungry, that is?”
“If you just want to grab some beers, I finished off the couple I had in my fridge a little earlier. I've got some chips and dip here.”
“I'll stop at Anthony's, then head right over,” he said.
“You'd better hurry. Michael just rolled into Haddonfield in that sweet station wagon. You don't want to miss any of the good stuff.”
“I'll throw up the cherry top and be there before Laurie gets out of school,” he said.
“See you in fifteen, then?”
“Make it ten.”
Melanie hung up the phone. She couldn't believe what just happened. What was about to happen.
Joe Fischer had just asked to come over. They had been flirting for years, but she never expected that he'd ever make a move. She'd always been attracted to him, and since she asked him to talk to Stan Springs, they had gotten a little closer, she thought. She felt like he was protecting her.
Lights appeared on the far wall, casting down from the ceiling. Someone was in her driveway.
He couldn't have gotten here that quick.
Melanie hopped up. She was only wearing bikini bottoms. That might be a little too much. She didn't want to make the guy uncomfortable.
She ran to her bedroom and threw on the short red running shorts she'd been wearing earlier. She considered putting on a T-shirt, but then thought better of it. She looked great in a tank top. She smiled to herself as she went to the front door.
She drew the curtain back. The smile fell from her face.
Stan Springs sat in his old Ford pickup. He had the interior light on and was wearing the crooked smile of the Cheshire Cat on his leathered face as he watched Melanie Murdock appear, then quickly disappear behind the light-blue curtain that graced her front door. He imagined her surprise, her shock, her
His smile grew. So did his hard-on. How he'd love to go teach that bitch a lesson. He was nearly salivating at the mere thought. She didn't want him in her shitty, little cafÃ©; let's see how she'd like him between those big tits she always flaunted.
Melanie cupped her hands over her mouth. Stan Springs was sitting in her driveway in a pickup truck; she didn't even know he had a vehicle. He was just out there, staring at her house with his dome light on so that she could see who it was. If he was trying to intimidate her, it was fucking working.
Where are you, Joe?
He'll be here any minute,
she answered herself.
What if that crazy son of a bitch gets out of his truck? What then?
She crouched down behind her door. Then she was compelled to get back up and make sure Springs was still in his truck.
On the television, Michael Myers stood behind a row of tall bushes. He waited for the girls he would later torment. The irony was not lost on Melanie.
Just as she climbed to her feet, she heard the truck start. The engine roared over and over again. All the while, the dome light remained on as she watched his wicked smile.
Come on, Joe. Please. Get here fast.
Stan Springs observed Melanie Murdock through her window. She'd get hers, but not tonight. No, tonight wasn't quite right. He put the truck in Reverse and pulled out of the driveway. He'd be back, sooner than later. Soon enough, the full moon would return. That should set the ambiance perfectly.
“Good night, bitch,” he muttered.
Stan drove away into the blackness of the night.
Melanie sighed, relieved, but completely petrified by what she had just witnessed. What did he want? What was he going to do?
She was shaking when Joe's Range Rover pulled into the driveway almost five minutes later. Throwing open the front door, she ran to him.