Authors: Glenn Rolfe
“Turn that down,” Sonya said. Kim slapped Heath's hand from her ass and turned the stereo down.
“I figured you kids would still be up. I need you to do me a favor.”
“I need you and your friends to stay put at Kim's tonight.”
“Why? Has something happened? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. We found a body out here on Christie Road.”
“Oh my God.”
“Looks like an animal attack.”
“In this weather? What was someone doing out there in this storm?”
“Well, there's a pretty big tree lying across the road. Unfortunately, it looks like this fella stopped, got out of his car and ran into something else.”
“Was it somebody from town?”
“No. Listen, I want you, all of you, to stay put, okay? I know Alex and Kim's boyfriend are there. You just let Shauna know that I don't want any of you leaving. Not until we find out what we're dealing with here.”
“I'll tell her. Please be careful.”
“I always am, honey. I'll call you in the morning.”
“Love you, Dad.”
“Love you too.”
“What the hell was that about?” Alex said.
“My dad said there's a tree that got knocked down on Christie Road. Some out-of-towner stopped, got out of his car and was apparently attacked by an animal.”
“Holy shit,” Alex said.
“I bet it was the Full Moon Monster!” Heath said. He made claws with his hands and stalked toward Kim.
“Quit it with that dumb shit,” Kim said. She broke into laughter as Heath tackled her and nuzzled his face into her neck.
“What's all this about?” Kim's mom appeared in the doorway in her pink, fluffy housecoat.
“Oh hey, Shauna. My dad called. They found a body out on Christie Road. He says looks like an animal attack. He says he wants us all to stay here tonight.”
“Absolutely. Boys?” Shauna said. She looked at Heath and Alex, who were both peeking out the window. “Boys, you can stay downstairs. I don't want any funny stuff.”
“Okay,” Alex said.
“I'm going to bed. Why don't you kids settle down for the night? I have to work in the morning.”
“Okay, Mom,” Kim said.
Sonya watched Shauna scoot down the hall and back into her bedroom.
“Do you guys think it was for real?” Sonya said.
Kim sat next to her on the couch. “You know what these two are gonna say.”
“Yeah, well, I don't believe in the Full Moon Monster. It's just a bunch of bullshit from the
.” Sonya thought the weirdos behind the weekly bizarro paper were a bunch of bored creeps who probably huffed gas or sniffed too much glue.
Heath squeezed in next to Kim. Alex plopped down Indian-style on the floor facing the couch.
“You know what Old Mike told me,” Alex said.
“Oh yeah, listen to a drunk,” Kim said.
“Last summer he told me and Jason Schneider that Gilson Creek was home to a werewolf.”
“That's the same thing as the Full Moon Monster, idiot,” Heath said.
“No, dude. The Full Moon Monster is something made up to sell copies. I'm talking about a real werewolf.”
“I vote we watch a movie,” Sonya said.
She'd heard enough of this crap years ago. She remembered being in fourth grade when practically everyone in town was talking the same nonsense. She even got yelled at by Paul Glidden's younger sister who was a grade ahead of her. She'd said that the sheriff should be fired. That he let her brother die. It wasn't fair then, and she wasn't about to start listening to that crap now.
“My uncle thinks it's real too. He says that it killed all thoseâ”
“Shut up, Alex.”
Sonya fought back the tears. “I don't want to talk about this stupid werewolf shit tonight, okay?”
Alex put his hands up. “All right, I'll shut up. I'm sorry.”
She put the attacks of 1997 in her rearview years ago. Outside of Kim and Kim's mom, no one understood all the shit she and her father went through that year.
The beast made its way out of town and passed through a little patch of trees that gave way to a small field. Just ahead, it spotted a hideous green-and-yellow trailer. Beside it sat a two-car garage painted the same ugly colors. Lights and loud music blared from the garage.
The beast broke for the small building.
Keith Turcott was trying to figure out how to change the oil in his old Escort. His father was useless when it came to teaching him anything. Keith always had to figure out these kinds of things for himself. He'd been doing things this way for sixteen and half years; all things considered, he thought he was doing pretty well. His drunken father could just sit in that piece-of-shit trailer and waste away, for all he cared. His mother was no better. She parked herself in the back room and watched episode after episode of
Law & Order: SVU
, smoked her menthol cigarettes, drank coffee and KahlÃºa, and stuffed bags of Doritos into her face.
They were a couple of fucking losers. No way was he getting stuck here with them. He wasn't about to grow up and grow old, just to give up. He was moving to Boston after graduation, if not sooner. He'd paid for this piece-of-shit Escort with his own money, fixed it himself, and once he got that diploma, he was good as gone. He was ready to get the fuck out of this house and this goddam town. Hell, he couldâ
Just outside the side door he'd left open a crack, something growled loud enough for him to hear it over the storm.
His first thought was of Bailey, his old husky who'd died two weeks ago. Obviously, not possible. A coyote maybe? Did coyotes growl like that?
He put down the red, oil-stained rag, picked up his flashlight and shone it toward the door. He didn't see anything.
What the fuck? Maybe I'm just hearing things.
He reached for the rag he'd dropped. Just as he did, the door flung inward and smashed the stack of paint cans behind it to the concrete floor. Before he could retrain the flashlight, the car sunk down on top of him, the light fell from his hand, and the car pinned him to the ground. His feet kicked at nothing as he let out a muffled whimper. He could barely breathe, as the car was sitting right on top of him. Being as small as he was, he hadn't bothered using a jack. Something was on top of the car.
“Heyâ¦” he said in a strained whisper.
Another growl came in response. This time, it was deeper and somehow more menacing sounding.
He tried to reach for the flashlight again. Just as he got hold of it, he felt someone, or something, grab his right ankle.
What the fâ
“Aarrrgh!” The grip tightened, then ripped his foot and lower half of his leg from his body.
All of Keith's thoughts smashed into a wall of pain as his body was sent into a series of convulsions, and he was unable to prevent his face from hitting the rusty bottom of the Escort.
Theresa Turcott came running out of the back bedroom, making her way down the small, confined hallway of her beloved trailer. She'd heard the bone-chilling screams of her son coming from the garage. She rushed past her husband, Rusty, who was in his usual passed-out position in his recliner. She was scared, but hoped Keith had just dropped something heavy on his foot or banged himself with the hammer again. In the back of her intoxicated mind, she knew better. She knew his screams.
Theresa Turcott opened the front door. She nearly fell back inside as the garage doors exploded outward and she took into full view an enormous beast among the splintered wood and shattered glass. She clutched at her housecoat and struggled to catch her breath.
The large animal raced away toward the woods. Barefoot and bewildered, Theresa scurried down the front steps, too frightened to call out to her boy.
She stopped at the destroyed garage entry and screamed.
“Sheriff,” Deputy Randy Hines said.
“What is it?”
“Earl just radioed. Looks like we've got another attack at the Turcott place.”
Joe looked at the dark clouds. The rain was letting up, but his bad feeling had just gotten worse. “You stay here until Seth Kimball shows up for the body. I'll check on the Turcotts.”
He saw the fear in Hines's eyes. “Sheriff, you shouldn't go over there alone.”
Joe started for his Range Rover. “I'll call Clarke over to join me.” He turned and nodded toward the hidden moon above. “Don't go jumping to conclusions. Could be a bear or mountain lion.”
“Like last time.”
Joe knew he was grasping at straws.
Too many damn coincidences.
He climbed into his vehicle and headed back toward town.
He thought about the body he was leaving behind.
The lumps of flesh and bone he had found half-buried in the mud off the side of the road. The
of his body sitting behind the wheel of the car. The driver-side window smashed inward. There was blood all over the interior that the rain couldn't reach to wash away. Tufts of fur clung to the shards of glass that still rested in the window frame.
And those goddamn coincidences. There
a full moon tucked up behind the clouded sky and a victim's partially mangled body on its way to the morgue in Hollis Oaks. He could only guess what waited for him at the Turcotts'.
Now it was Joe's job to figure out a way to hold off the wave of impending consternation, while wrapping his mind around exactly what happened to the body on its way to the morgue. He could feel a strong headache waking in his temples.
He met Deputy Dwayne Clarke in the driveway of the Turcott place. He could see Theresa and Rusty clinging to each other just inside the trailer's front door.
“It's over here, Sheriff,” Deputy Clarke said.
Joe followed Clarke over to the trail of debris that led to the garage.
“There's a part of a leg over there in the workspace.”
Joe could see the blood splatter from the car to the work area. “And the rest of the body?”
“Under there.” Clarke pointed to the car. The caved-in roof matched the one he'd just left on Christie Road.
Joe gestured toward the trailer. “Did they see anything?”
“Theresa says she saw somethingâ¦burst through the garage door.”
“Yeah, she says it was huge. Says it was big and black. You thinking black bear?”
“I'm not thinking anything just yet.” Joe didn't know of too many black bears that waltzed into garages, tore off limbs and knocked cars down on top of people. “You call an ambulance?”
“Yeah. They're on their way. Said it will take longer since they have to come in through Jackson.”
“Better let Kimball know he's got another pickup.”
Ted McKinney was winding down his local morning radio show with a little Twisted Sister. These early Sunday shifts were by far his favorite. He could always count on the Saturday-Night Hangover Crew tuning in. There was never a shortage of gory stories or great requests from his faithful listeners. How could you go wrong?
The little orange light above the station's two phones lit up.
“WRKU, Ted here.”
“Good morning, Dwayne. Can you hold for a sec? This song's almost over.”
Ted put Dwayne on hold as he addressed his loyal flock, “Ohhhhh yeah, you better believe I'm an S.M.F., but you all know that by now. That's a little Twisted Sister for all you other S.M.Fs. and Saturday-night aftermathers out there in hangover land. Right now it's just about time for Wild Ted to wind this beast down, so go ahead and call in with your last-minute requests and I'll try my best to squeeze something in for ya before you get to those church doors.
“REPENT! REPENT! It's your last chance before Wild Ted's grand East Coast vacation! I'll be hitting the road with the Broken Exes for the next few weeks. So get your last-minute requests in now. Be back in a flashâhold on.”
Ted cued the station call sign, which gave way to a Hollis Oaks used-car dealership spot from Timothy's Honda. He grabbed the phone and hit line one.
“What's the story, morning glory?”
Deputy Dwayne Clarke was in a conversation with someone else. His voice was too far away from his phone for Ted to make out what was said, but he did manage to pick out the voice of a female, instantly identifying it as Deputy Shelly Glescoe.
Dwayne and Shelly had a real thing going. Ted, on the other hand, was much more the playboy type. He had plenty of fun, with plenty of lady friends, and appreciated having his castle to himself. He loved his own life too much to ever let one of his overnight companions stay at his place for more than the night. His Aunt Janice joked that he was Gilson Creek's answer to George Clooney. He knew what she meant by itâhe even agreedâbut, boy, did he fucking hate George Clooney.
“Hey! Lover boy! Mr. 867-5309, Deputy Dwayne, are you on the line?” Ted said.
There was a pause before Dwayne came back to the phone. “Hey, Ted, sorry about that, man. Shelly just swung by to let me in on the boss man's mood.”
Ted sensed Dwayne's tone had changed.
“What's up with Joe?” Ted said as he cued up the next song.
“I imagine you saw the news this morning, right?”
Ted's stomach fluttered. Two bodies were found on opposite sides of town during last night's storm. Apparently attacked by animals.
Dwayne continued, “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. You wanna meet for coffee?”
Ted's head flooded with ghosts from his pastâhis brother's and Michele's funerals and that horrifying photo on the cover of the
. The official report was a mountain lion had been responsible for the killings. The whispers among the more open-minded suggested something more sinister.
“Yeah, yeah, I'm here. I can do that. I'll meet you at Mel's as soon as I finish up.”
“Ted, we're trying not to jump to any conclusions here, so don't you go jumping off the deep end with your wild theories. We're still investigating the scene.”
might be shit, but something sure as hell tore apart most of the people I loved in this fucking town, whether you believe it or not. I'll see you at Mel's.” Ted slammed the phone down.
Line one instantly lit back up, and line two had already been sparking to life throughout the entire conversation. He couldn't bring himself to answer either.
He didn't give his normal sign-off. He cued up this week's live concert and headed straight out of the studio. He didn't say bye to Station Manager Cindy Hues or to Doug Jenks, the station custodian. He had bad things on his mind. Very bad things.
Ted got on his black Honda Rebel and headed over to Brighton Circle. The brilliant morning sunlight that felt warm and invigorating on his smoke break an hour ago had lost all of its shine. Even in the already hot morning, a cold spell cast its way down his spine. He leaned his bike and rounded the corner of Gilbride and Brighton. He could see Dwayne waiting ahead, standing beside his cruiser in the parking lot of Mel's CafÃ©.
Visions of full moons and dead loved ones crawled across his mind. He didn't think he was going to like what Dwayne had to tell him. He just hoped he didn't wind up punching out his best friend.
Ted parked his bike next to the black-and-white cruiser, pulled a cigarette from his right breast pocket and lit it. He was trying hard not to allow every emotion to parade across the features of his unshaven face.
Dwayne let Ted finish his smoke. “Coffee's on me.”
Ted tossed the butt and followed him into Mel's CafÃ©.
The place was at half capacity. By the time the tired, the ashamed and the atheists came wandering in, the early birds had already left for morning service at Saving Grace Baptist. After a night of house parties and forgotten mistakes, Mel's “Best Stack in Town” special was the perfect elixir for both guilt and hangovers. The special's name served as a bit of a double entendre. Mel's bountiful bosom, which rightfully had fans aplenty for, was in close competition with the most rich, fluffy, delicious stack of golden pancakes in all of Coral County.
Ted and Dwayne took a booth in the far corner of the shop. Ted knew they were about to discuss what was a very sensitive subject here in Gilson Creek and wanted a little privacy. In truth, Mel's was probably not the best choice for this conversation, but Ted had a mad craving for a pile of perfect pancakes and a great cup of joe. Mel's was the best place for both.
Katie Brooks, a blonde high school girl with a lazy eye, poured them each a cup of coffee and took their orders. They sat in silence, sipping their beverages, until she returned with two stacks of pancakes and a side of baconâTed's idea of a breakfast dessert.
“So, tell me straight. Is it like last time?”
Dwayne put down his mug and sighed. “Man, I'm sorry for what I said about your theories. It's justâ¦it justâ¦I don't know, it's not possible.”
did that to my brother, to Michele? That there are people in this town who know a hell of a lot more than your boss told us?”
Dwayne crossed his arms over his chest and stared out the window.
“What's Joe's story this time? Murderous mountain lion's cub returns to finish whatâ”
“Dammit, Ted. You know I wasn't here when all that stuff went down. All I know is what Joe told me, all right? That and this beast-in-the-woods nonsense of yours.”
“Fuck you, Dwayne.”
“Hell, man, you gotta look at this from my end.”
Ted leaned back and shook his head. It did sound fucking insane. Beast in the woods.
Bigfoot, werewolf, ravenous fucking mountain lionâ¦
It did sound stupid, but nobody was convincing him otherwise. Not Dwayne, and certainly not Sheriff Fischer.
On the other side of town, Sonya Fischer was awakened by the music blaring from her cell phone. She was lying comfortably on Kim's big brown couch, with Alex fast asleep behind her. A smile broke out across her face at the warmth of his body. Her father had called late last night and told her that she and her friends were to stay put for the night. He'd even known that Alex and Kim's boyfriend, Heath, were there and made sure to let her know that they were to stay as well. She could tell that her Dad was shaken by whatever it was that he had found out on Christie Road. She'd heard the tightness in his voice. For something to affect him enough to give him away so easily, it had to be downright awful.
Sonya picked up her cell.
“Hi, Dad.” Sonya cringed at her own voice. She sounded like a girl who had stayed up all night drinking and smoking.
“Hey, honey, did I just wake you up?”
He didn't sound so well himself.
“Yeah, we were up half the night watching Harry Potter movies. Is everything okay on your end? Was anyone hurt?”
“Yeah, for the most part everyone's okay. There was an incident, like I told you last night. Looks like an animal attack,” he said. “That storm was a pretty nasty one, knocked down some power lines and such. We're getting Christie Road cleared up right now. Is the power still on out there?”
She reached for the remote control laying amongst the collection of empties on the coffee table and clicked on the television. Steve Carell and Seth Rogen were discussing masturbation. “Yup, looks like it. You sounded a littleâ¦out of sorts last night. Are you sure
“Yeah, honey, I'm all right. The man we found out there was dead when we arrived on the scene. Never like to run into that,” he said, before redirecting the conversation. “Those boys behave themselves last night?”
“Of course they did, Dad. Shauna was here to chaperone, remember?”
“I know, I know. I was just giving you a hard time.”
“So a guy died, huh? Was it somebody from town?”
“No, it wasn't anybody from around here. It looks like he was just some unlucky guy passing through.” He paused. “There was a second attack, as well.”
“Oh my God.”
She didn't know Keith personallyâhe was a seniorâbut she knew who he was.
“Look, honey, I was just calling to check up on you kids and also to let you know I'm all right. But with everything going on, I'm going to be tied up for most of the day. I want you to hang out at Kim's, if that's all right with her mother. At least until I can get home, okay?”
Sonya knew there was more to all of this than he was telling her, but she knew the last thing that he needed to be doing was worrying about her while he was conducting an investigation. She had no problem hanging at Kim's. “Yeah, Dad, that's fine. Pick me up when you're done?”
“You bet, but I can't make any promises as to when. I'll check back in with you this afternoon, okay?”
“Okay, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too, honey.”
Sonya hung up, shut the TV off and lay back down next to Alex. He had not so much as flinched during her phone conversation. Poor guy was out cold. She brushed his hair back from his face and kissed his temple.
Her mouth tasted like shit, and she wanted more than anything to brush her teeth and get a glass of ice-cold water, but lacked the actual initiative to get up to do either. She closed her eyes and slipped into a dream of wicked things that howled in the night.