Authors: Glenn Rolfe
Joe's mind broke like the levees of Galveston, flooding with the memories of the sweltering summer night he faced down and shot the murdering beast terrorizing his community.
piecing together the evidence and coming to grips with the idea that they might be facing a creature that was a supernatural entity, they began studiously researching every inch of fact, fiction or gray area concerning werewolves. They looked at all of the folklore surrounding a wolfman, lycanthrope,
or as the Native Americans referred to them, shapeshifters.
Each legend described the werewolf or shapeshifter as being, at least at one point or another, a human being. A man or a woman who may or may not even be aware of what they were becoming or what kind of acts they were perpetrating while under this spell, or curse, or conditionâwhatever the case. They had abnormal strength, more powerful than any man or wolf. Some were supposedly rapid healers, while others were just as susceptible to pain and injury as their human counterparts. Silver, wolfsbane and in some cases they had come across, mistletoeâall were listed as weapons that could be used to either cure or kill the beasts. The curse caused some of the creatures to kill when under a full moon, while others could kill on a nightly basis if they so desired. Targets could be completely random acts of extreme violence or be preselected based upon people they despised in their human forms, whether a neighbor, town official, townsperson who may have scolded them at one point or another, or in the scariest case, who may be a threatâin other words, someone who may have suspicions about what they really were.
There were supposed to be ways of identifying a man or woman who might be a werewolf as well. Some of those were as silly as a person having eyebrows that connected above the bridge of the nose, or fashioned curved fingernails, or even arms that swung too low. One article told of how medieval Europeans would cut open the skin on the people suspected of being cursed, expecting to see fur within the wound.
All that considered, Joe and Stan decided that going at this thing armed with silver bullets was the most likely way to be sure of taking the monster out. Maybe it was a gut call, maybe it was from seeing too many Hollywood horror films, but, either way, it was the most attainable weapon and one which would allow them to strike from the safest distance.
Stan suggested going to Barlow Olson over in Hollis Oaks. Olson was a trusted friend to all of the neighboring police departments and a man with some unique tastes in weaponry. He had a collection of samurai swords, medieval broadswords, maces, flails and battle-axes, and an even stranger collection of silver stakes, crossbows, throwing knives and flamethrowers. Joe simply name-dropped Stan to Olson, and placed an order for two hundred silver bullets. They arrived at the station two days later.
Joe brought Deputy Randy Hines in on what he and Stan believed to be the culprit in the town's vicious deaths. Hines told them they were both crazy and suggested Joe check into the room next to Stan's.
Joe knew Randy had also held Stan Springs in high regard, and thatâcoupled with seeing their stone-cold gazesâhad been enough for Randy to at least open his ears and hear the two of them out. They had zero suspects in either of the attacks they had encountered, but the severity and maliciousness of the slayings were congruent with those only capable of being committed by a monster. Whether that meant there was a large animal or a mythological creature on the loose, they didn't know.
Once they had Hines on board, theoretically they knew that they would have to wait for the next full moon since both the McKinney and the high school student killings had fallen in its glow. In the meantime, Joe found himself eyeballing numerous people in town with unibrows, staring at people's nails, and even watching the few dopey rednecks who swung their arms like apes.
Days and weeks went by. Joe concluded that none of his townspeople could be the beast. He hadn't seen anything that pointed to one of them, and started to wonder if maybe it could be someone from either of the neighboring towns, Hollis Oaks or Jackson.
He called Police Chief Tom Healy over in Hollis Oaks and Sheriff Paul Dumas over in Henderson County (who patrolled the town of Jackson) to confer with them about any out-of-the-ordinary accidents or incidents within the last year that either town might have had. But neither had anything for him. It seemed to be only Gilson Creek being targeted and threatened by this evil they were dealing with.
Joe decided to keep the details of the crimes vague. He simply left “animal attack” as the probable cause in the case of the three slain high school students and issued a town curfew of 9:00 p.m.
He felt tense, nervous, scared and guilty about the whole situation. He never felt quite right about not opening up to the public that there was a murderer amongst them. Whether it was watching from the woods or from the barstool next to him, he had no way of knowing. He would have to wait and keep an eye open.
Two days before the night of the full moon, Stan Springs called Joe to inform him that he could no longer discuss the deaths or the werewolf or, frankly, anything else. He told Joe that one of the nurses had stumbled across his books and notebook, and forced him to turn them over to his doctor.
Joe found it hard to believe and in his gut thought Stan might have just reached the last frayed end of his sanity, and wanted out before he fell too far to come back. Either way, Joe had not felt that sense of abandonment or loss since Lucy's passing.
He wanted to pack up Sonya and leave Gilson Creek right then and there. He thought about moving to New York City, where at least the murderers had human faces and were only monsters on the inside. That made sense, this did not.
The night fell without as much as a shouting match near Gil's Tavern. He had all of his deputies on duty, for the first time in Gilson Creek history. Randy Hines, Patrick Somers, Lyle Paulson and rookie part-timer, Brett Curry, were all out on patrol. Somers and Paulson rode together. Curry was with Hines. Joe flew solo while Rita manned dispatch.
No one, not even the rookie, questioned the sheriff earlier in the day as he handed out the silver bullets. Neither Joe nor Deputy Hines had shared the idea of a werewolf with any of the other men, but small towns tended to have big superstitions. The young group of officers took and loaded the ammunition on the spot. Joe informed them that they were looking for some kind of large mammal and ordered them to shoot to kill on sight. Somers and Paulson patrolled Main Street and Brighton Circle. Hines and Curry were covering from Nelson Street to Arcade Lane, where about half of the town lived. Joe was cruising back and forth from Park Street to Old Gilson Creek Road.
At just after midnight, Somers and Paulson got the obligatory call to Gil's Tavern. Allan Buck was three sheets to the wind and swinging his big mitts at any man within his long reach.
It turned out Allan's best friend, Tom Frost, had been sleeping with Allan's live-in girlfriend, Charlene Deaton. Allan, who was normally a very timid, quiet guy despite his six foot five, 325-pound frame, had left the best friend and girlfriend, after walking in on them having sex on his bed, and headed into town on foot. Once he had drunk himself sideways, the anger and betrayal set in. That's when he reportedly started grumbling at everyone in the bar, just before bashing Keith Jones's head into the face of his girlfriend, Janet Lilly.
Chaos ensued as the other patrons tried to stop the giant of a man from hurting anyone else. Unfortunately for Janet, they weren't successful until after he had broken her left eye orbit, nose, and knocked two of her front teeth down her throat. All while using her boyfriend's head as his weapon. It was sudden, brutal and totally out of character for Allan Buck.
Somers and Paulson walked in, cleared out the area and from ten feet away Tasered the large man without a moment's hesitation. Buck shivered and convulsed before dropping to his knees and falling face-first to the dirt-covered wooden floor. They dragged his enormous girth out through the front doors, loaded him into the back of the squad car and locked him up down at the station. Paperwork would have to wait until dawn, per Sheriff's orders. They were back out on patrol within minutes.
On the outskirts of town, deep out on Old Gilson Creek Road, Joe Fischer was moving thirty miles per hour, as opposed to the posted speed limit of forty-five. His hands were white-knuckle tight on the steering wheel. He had given up cigarettes the day Lucy was diagnosed with cancer, but had purchased a pack at Gary's General Store after prepping his men for the night's watch.
He'd already gone through half a pack in the four and a half hours since. His mouth tasted like ash, his throat hurt, and his tired eyes stung. The cigarettes hadn't done shit for his anxiety, either. If anything, they'd just made him feel sick on top of everything else. He let go of the steering wheel with his right hand, reached over for the pack of Camel Lights and threw them out the driver-side window. That's when he saw it.
Against the screaming voice in his head telling him to floor it and not look back, against every sensible emotion asking him to ignore the
that he thought he'd just seen staring out at him from just beyond the tree line, he stamped his foot on the Range Rover's brakes and brought the vehicle to a screeching halt. His heart beat out of control and his hands were soaked with perspiration, but the law in him had turned the switch and had taken over for his weaker sensibilities.
He eased the truck around and pointed its bright-white headlights into the thick black forest lining the desolate back road. His eyes darted back and forth along the skeletal-looking branches and he could feel the pulse in his neck as he scanned the enveloping darkness.
He set down his Magnum revolver, not realizing he had already unholstered the massive weapon, and rubbed his worn-out eyes. There was a snap from off to his left. Something was out there with him. He grabbed the gun and the Maglite off the seat, then stepped out of the vehicle and into the dark night. Within seconds of the move, he decided better of it, climbed back into the cab and picked up the radio.
“Somers, Hines. I think I've got something out on Old Gilson Creek Road, almost to the Hollis Oaks town line. Hines, you should be closerâget your ass out here. Somers, patrol sectors one and two, unless I get back to you, over?”
“Hines, Curry, on our way.”
“Gotcha, Sheriff,” answered Paulson. “Keep us posted.”
Joe Fischer dropped the radio, picked the flashlight back up and exited the vehicle for the second time. He lit up the spot directly off to his left where he had seen the movement moments before, but the sweeping light caught nothing.
Then, there was another snap, followed by a growl.
Joe stood paralyzed. He thought of Sonya, of Lucy and of Jack and Kelly McKinney. Ashamed of his flash of cowardice, he shone the light near where the growl had emanated. The nightâblack and silentâechoed with the sounds of crisp-snapping twigs and branches. He could hear the creature staying close to the road, just out of sight. Almost as if it were taunting him as it started toward town.
He pursued it on foot, choosing to stay on the blacktop and follow the creature from the road. He quickened his pace until his feet were pounding the pavement. The creature was distancing itself from him. Joe turned back around, ran to his vehicle, jumped into the Range Rover, and threw the vehicle into Drive.
Watching the road before him, and the trees off to his right in his peripheral vision, he caught sight of a large shape just up ahead. An enormous dark mass moved in the blackness beyond the reach of his headlamps. He shouldn't be able to see it, but there it wasâup ahead, running quickly along in the shadows of the pines.
Lights and sirens came from up the road. Joe grabbed the radio. “It's coming your way, on your left, just in front of the trees. It's big, and it's fast.”
He saw the deputy suddenly slam on his brakes. Both Hines and the rookie, Curry, stepped out of the car, taking aim at the woods. Between the deputies and himself, Joe saw what he couldn't believe.
There it stoodâthe beast's monstrous form perfectly silhouetted in the moonlight. Joe stopped short of where the beast reared. He climbed out of the Range Rover and went for his revolver, ready to aim. The monster made its move without hesitation.
Curry stared in shock and awe as the creature launched itself in the air and crashed down on Hines's cruiser. The weight of the large beast's impact smashed out the car's side windows and crumpled the roof.
Hines stepped away from the vehicle and tripped over his own feet before falling in the middle of the road.
Curry squeezed his eyes shut and pissed his pants, also blindly discharging his weapon. He completely missed the beast as it slashed its elongated, fur-covered arm across his face, neck and chest. One of its large claws caught his jugular, leaving the twenty-two-year-old rookie dead in seconds.
Joe fired once, twice, then three times, nailing the beast directly in its wide, muscular back. The beast shook with each shot and dropped forward, falling out of Joe's sight as it crawled down the cruiser's trunk and dropped behind the car.
Hines froze. He was laid out flat on his back in the middle of the road, staring wide-eyed at the abomination.
Joe wanted to yell to him, to ask him what he could see, but then thought better of it. Randy Hines had not moved since falling down and was probably in shock. Yelling to him might only draw the attention he was sure that he himself owned since he had shot the thing, back to his other deputy and unnecessarily put the man in mortal danger. It was best to move slow and cool.
Joe wasn't even halfway around the side of the car, where the body of rookie Brett Curry lay dead in a pool of blood, when the beast arose as best as it could.
The monster growled, sounding more like a wounded dog than a massive creature. Joe stared up into a dark pair of flickering eyes and caught a glimpse of something familiar. It let out a howl that instantly turned his blood cold.