Tasty OfferingsA Chapter by Robert Kahil
If only cars weren't made like toys. Wow, that's a lot of monsters!
Sarah turned to look at her son. A tiny leather-bound journal was nestled in the crook of his lap. He flipped a brittle yellowing page. His only way of seeing was a portable reading light clipped to the back of the book. William had trouble seeing with the dome light on at night. “What is it?” she asked.
“According to this there is a full circle of werewolves hiding out in New York,”
“Full circle?” her husband asked.
“There are three-hundred-sixty of them,”
Sarah whistled and turned back to the road. “You aren’t going to go after all of them…”
“Hell no,” William scoffed. “Too many of them to deal with in my lifetime; I’m already middle aged.”
She patted his arm warmly, wary of the scars at his shoulder. A particularly vicious werewolf had tried to remove his right arm less than a week ago. Strikingly violet bruises warped his waist below the dark green sweater and leather bomber. Various scratches finished the blend. No one faces a werewolf- much less three of them- without injuries.
Michael muttered something else. “What was that?” she asked him.
“Nothing,” he said, “There’s just some really creepy pictures taped into this thing. Kind of like a scrapbook.”
“Corpses, wounds, how is it creepy?”
“No, no, I’ve already checked those out. But there’s this thing called a feral, a sub-breed of werewolf. Creepy,” he ended vaguely.
“Oh,” she said, “Them. Or it could be,” she looked to William and he shrugged. “What color are the eyes?”
“Red with a pupil,” Michael answered. “Nothing else, I mean grandpa has a picture here of one’s head, apparently… Uh, cut off. The eyes are just creepy.”
“Yeah, they were.” William confirmed. “At least they’re rare,”
Murdoch hopped up on his legs and peeked over the back seat. Sarah was about to say something when he plopped down again and looked at her. I know master, I know, paws off. She could feel William slowing to a stop, most likely at the crossroads. Michael was looking down at the journal.
“Speak of the devil,” her husband muttered. “They’re here.”
Sarah turned and saw William pointing to something outside of the windshield. She followed his dark gaze. All she could do was gasp.
Michael looked up when his mother gasped. The feral werewolf bypassed ‘creepy’ under the SUV’s headlights. It crouched on broad haunches. Dirty sand-colored fur covered all inches of the body. Wide shoulders and a thick neck topped it off. Overall the creature looked haggard with bits and pieces of foliage and branches poking about. This one seemed to be larger than the one they had spoken to earlier.
So much blood was pumping into his ears; Michael barely heard Doc’s incessant barking. His parents didn’t seem to notice either. It approached them. One step and then two; the werewolf wrapped clawed fingers over the sign. Michael saw the pupils scour over each and every one of them. Strands of drool dribbled out of its blackened jowls. He tried not to meet its eyes. His mother reached into the glove compartment without looking down.
The beast’s head twitched at the movement and locked on her. It snuffled the air with vast nostrils and cocked its head in a challenge. No one moved. Even Murdoch had ceased his barking to figure out the werewolf’s next move. Michael couldn’t tell. For a long time the feral didn’t seem to move but it did. As if with the wind itself- blowing loosely among the tall woods- the feral keened slowly from side to side.
The feral closed its eyes. Next it drew its arms to either side in a mock hug to Mother Nature and howled into the night sky. Michael winced. He felt the windows wobbling in their panes. Doc whined and rubbed his ears against Michael’s arm. Both of his parents covered their ears. His mother dropped the gun. The feral charged.
Within a heartbeat it snapped the sniveling head down and launched itself over the sign. There was a blissful second of silence. And then the car shook with tremendous force. Two paw prints- a skewed combination between wolf and man- imprinted themselves on their fiberglass. It was centimeters from Michael’s head. He ducked to the side and clawed at his seatbelt for easier movement.
His father shouted and pressed on the pedal. His mother ducked for the gun. Above them the werewolf howled again. Talons protruded through the ceiling. The engine roared and tires screeched from the weight. Michael felt the SUV jostling to the right. He took a grip on the handle behind his mother’s seat to keep purchase. Doc scratched at the seat but slid to the other door in a yelp of shock.
Michael’s mother gripped his wrist in one hand and held the pistol up with the other. She pulled the trigger five times. He almost went deaf when his eardrums exploded. Doc let out a low whine. Quickly recovering, Michael looked up fast enough to see a chunk of the roof shredding. Sparks showered down on him and he shielded his eyes. The claws vanished with the roof just as fast. “Jeez mom,” he said, trying to crouch away.
She shoved him back down by the shoulder, caught between the two seats. “Stay there, be quiet.”
Michael clamped his jaws shut over an important question. He looked out the opposite window. Doc was in his way, stumbling along and growling loudly at the window. “William, drive.” His mother prodded.
His father shook his head and peered through the rearview mirror, toward the back. “Quiet, you’ll hear it.”
Michael pushed his mom’s arm away and crouched. He couldn’t see over the seat and if the werewolf attacked again, he wanted to be ready. Finally he saw the eyes. Originally he thought they were only luminescent in the light but there wasn’t much of that in the back. Even with the brake lights on. It roared again and glass shattered from behind him. His mother screamed and fired twice.
The werewolf was crawling above the hood of the car and reaching in through the broken windshield. Safety glass coated the front of the vehicle. Before his mother could fire her gun again it swiped at her hand. It yanked her forward. Her body was stopped by the seatbelt but he knew it was cutting into her throat.
The feral sat atop the hood and reached in just before his father took the Maglite from earlier between the seats. He held it by the handle and battered the werewolf’s muzzle with it in three successive strikes. Michael heard the bones snap and blood spurted from its nostrils in a fine mist. It howled in rage and pain but held on. Doc launched himself over Michael’s head and latched onto the werewolf’s forearm with surprising accuracy.
The werewolf howled again in an almost human scream. Doc twisted his head in savage jerks and removed large amounts of flesh from the werewolf’s arm. He didn’t stop there. Using his own sharp claws, Doc climbed the werewolf’s arm and latched onto its shoulder. The dog got a good bite out of it. Michael felt hot fluids- black under the darkness- splash across his face. He felt useless as his Dad continued to beat the muzzle into an unrecognizable pulp.
Its breathing was a heavy, labored wheezing. When a fang fell out of the split gums it released his mother and gripped Doc with both hands. “No!” Michael screamed, trying to reach out for the dog. Mom got a good grip on her pistol and pulled the trigger. All he saw was a flash of light and he heard the deafening blast. The bullet struck close enough to the carotid artery for more blood to decorate the SUV.
The werewolf released Doc and fell back to the ground, both hands covering its ruined throat. Michael’s parents were breathing hard and staring out of the window. From what he could tell it was rolling on the ground in pain. “Just run it over,” Michael whispered hoarsely. He could barely speak because of his jangled nerves. He had to hold on to the back of his mother’s seat to control the convulsions running through his body.
Shadows convulsed and danced about from the headlights. Dad flicked on the high beams and there was another unearthly howl.
“Hell no,” his father retaliated, “It’ll gash the tires.”
“Oh,” Michael felt deflated, “Right. So what now?” he continued.
It didn’t give his father time to answer. Before any of them knew it a shadow rose from the light at incredible speeds. The SUV bucked when it landed above them again. Massive hands reached out. Michael couldn’t respond. He felt the air immediately push out through his scream but none could get back in. Talons were wrapped around his throat and slicing the skin. It burned horribly.
He weakly kicked out against the chairs and tried to lift himself up enough to smash his head against the muzzle. Bulging muscles kept him at bay though. Through the wild-smelling, heated fur encasing his back; Michael could feel saliva leaking onto his face. Mom was swearing and he had the vague impression of his father stepping out of the car. Michael entered blackness much faster than he could even comprehend.
There was a heavy plop when Michael landed heavily on the seat. His body twisted to jumble on the floor after his head hit the door. “M**********r,” Sarah screamed. She could hear William finally jerking the gear into drive and revving forward. It threw the werewolf off balance. A marginally healed arm fell through the hole in the roof and dangled there, fingers searching air for purchase. Doc took advantage and again jumped at its arm. He missed by a few inches but instead bit into the soft flesh of the beasts’ calloused palm.
It didn’t take long for the muscle to shred entirely. The werewolf dragged its arm up and the dog with it. Sarah intercepted by firing at the bicep. Blood pulsed out of the wound and it tried harder to reel in the ravaged limb. After three more savage side-to-side jerks from Doc’s vise bite the ring and pinky fingers fell onto the seat with the dog. The feral howled and drew its arm up.
Headlights appeared in the near distance and illuminated the creature. Its eyes focused on the door-less jeep following them. The bloodied jaws opened wide in a challenging roar. A rifle’s explosion coursed through the air. Small bits of the werewolf’s thigh splattered onto the roof. Its body jerked to the side in yet another howl. Sarah looked back in time to see the resort manager leaning out of the jeep’s sunroof. He jacked another bullet into the barrel and took aim.
“Stop the car,” Sarah ordered.
William did and the manager took better aim. A plume of white lead left the barrel and streaked towards the werewolf’s right shoulder. It imploded at impact and the werewolf finally fell away. The feral was quick to recover. After one final howl it limped into the forest and was swallowed by darkness.
“Check on Michael!” she said.
“On it,” William already had his seatbelt off and was opening the door when the manager yelled something out. “F**k this,” he nearly snarled, “What is it?” he called out.
“Stay in the car!” Mark, that was his name right? Sarah thought. Yeah, yes it was.
“That thing just bear-hugged my son into unconsciousness,” William yelled back, “I’m not staying in the car.” To prove it he opened the door and stepped onto the dirt road. Sarah unstrapped her own seatbelt and leaned her head back on the rest. Her jeans were soaked in cooling blood.
She checked the overhead light, it still worked- and observed the damage. The windshield was gone, and so was the roof. She knew that much. But there was so much blood. Their dashboard, steering wheel, floor, and both side windows were gone to the blood. Doc must have… She jerked back to the dog as he padded over to her and dropped the two clawed fingers between the front seats.
He looked up at her with alert eyes, is the offering okay master?
“I don’t…” she suddenly couldn’t find her voice. Erika, the girl from the information kiosk, was folding her light coat below Michael’s head. Doc stayed his respectable distance for now. He was too worried about the lady of the house.
Sarah sucked in her breath, closed her eyes, and counted to ten. She didn’t want to lose her emotions with so many others around. Instead she picked some dry wipes from a package in the glove compartment. After another glance at Doc’s face she opted to taking the whole thing and slipped out of the car. It felt wrong when she touched her feet to the mud; as if she really shouldn’t have been there.
There was something wrong with the how the leaves and needles rustled along in the wind. Normally it would have soothed her but now it was eerie. The forest didn’t seem to care that a preternatural monster- two of them at the very least- were running about in its trees like all of this was natural.
A girl looked down at him and he took a moment to remember who she was. “He’s fine, just a few scratches.” She told a person standing out of his vision. “No concussion,”
“Thank goodness,” his father said, patting him on the shoulder.
“Did I seriously pass out?” Michael asked.
Erika shrugged and rubbed a cool, damp cloth against his throat. “It’s okay,” she said, “It happens.”
Michael groaned and appreciated her long brunette hair until she pulled the cloth up. It was pink with blood. “I’m bleeding?” he asked.
“Not too much,” she answered.
He could see the night sky through the jagged hole in the roof. There were stars, unblinking and unaware of what was happening below them. Erika’s dark green eyes watched him carefully as she continued to wash his wounds. She had the face of a saving angel to him. And with reason, he suspected in the back of his brain. A small, sharp nose graced the middle of that face…
“Well I’m not sure,” she said. “You’ll have to ask my dad.”
“Huh?” Michael grunted, “Did I say something?”
Erika looked down at him, distracted. She shook her head and leaned down. There was a light splash of water. And then he finally realized he wasn’t in the SUV. He panicked. How was there ever a roof if there wasn’t a roof? “Where am I?”
“Your cabin,” she answered coolly. He liked her voice. It was soothing.
“Why are we outside?”
Michael blinked in offense. “You’re top heavy!”
The girl’s eyes widened. He tried to get up in time by lifting himself to his elbows. That was as far as he got until a hot hand did a comical SMACK! Across one cheek and then SMACK! Across the other cheek and then both tingled and went numb in agony.
“Now what are you doing?” she asked, trying to stay calm.
“You just slapped me!”
“No I didn’t,” she shook her head. The sandy blonde highlights in her hair swirled around from the nearby porch light.
His father trudged up to them from his spot on the cabin porch. Wooden planks creaked and dust picked up when he got to the ground. He looked down at Michael and held out his hand. “Would you just get up?”
Michael blinked and took the offered hand. His head hurt and his eyes were seeing things. Dad had four, wait scratch that. Yeah, Dad had five arms, one sticking straight out of his stomach. Using the top two- what Michael hoped were the correct appendages- he slapped both ears at the same time.
Michael groaned, “Why do people keep slapping me?”
“I was the only one who slapped you,” his father explained, stepping back. “Blink,” he said.
Michael blinked. Now he could see clearly. “What was that?”
“Survivors of a feral generally feel… Like they’re on an acid trip,” Erika answered.
“So you didn’t slap me?”
“Did I comment on your breasts?” he asked before processing the words.
Erika coughed into a small fist and blushed, nodding. “Wow,” his father said, “Nice getting it awkward boy.”
Michael sighed. “Where’s mom?”
“Inside,” his father said. He looked at Erika and she wandered off, glancing more at the ground than ahead of her. “She blames herself for what happened,” he continued when she was out of earshot.
Michael glanced up from her a*s. His father didn’t register it. “Why?”
“She thinks it has something to do with the raid in New York,”
“What, like we were followed or something?”
His father nodded.
His father nodded again. “What do you think about it?” Michael continued.
“I’m inclined to not believe her about this one.”
That got Michael’s hopes up a little. “Could it just be a coincidence?”
“Could what just be a coincidence?”
“To see a feral just after the raid on that family, could it possibly be the same one?”
“No, we made sure of that.”
Michael stayed silent. He only got bits and pieces of what happened through his parents. They didn’t want to talk too much about it. More of it came out of his father though; he was a very unemotional man. “Well how did I do for my second encounter in less than twenty minutes?”
His father guffawed, crossing his chest and tilting his head to the side. “You did okay, as much as anyone could. That’s the problem with cars, too limited area… To you know,” he struggled to demonstrate a small space with his hands.
Michael nodded so his father wouldn’t embarrass himself. “How long was I out?”
“How long was I out?”
“Oh. An hour or two,”
Michael gawked at him. “What, are you serious?”
“It put me to sleep?”
“Your carotid artery was squeezed when the feral bear-hugged you. No oxygen,”
“I forgot about that.” His mother had taught him self-defense and one of the lessons was putting an enemy to sleep. It kept them alive while subduing them. “What happened?”
“Your mom shot it, the manager shot it. There’s a hunt for it going on right now…”
“And you guys left me outside,”
“It was too noisy inside. You’ll be safe; security is here with two guys. The sheriff loaned a few men for the hunt too.”
“He came by,”
The nod was grim.
“What, what happened?”
“You better come inside.”
“I still have contacts I’ll be keeping up with. They’ll look for us,” his mother warned someone.
“No one is ever going to find you,” the man responded. Doc barked at whoever it was and ended it in a snarl. The dog was about to attack. Michael wasn’t even in the main room but he recognized the threat. He turned the corner of the hallway and saw his mother. She was facing a tallish man with grey hair and a grey mustache.
Doc jerked his head to him and immediately ran over. Furry shoulders battered his knees before he could lean down and scratch his ears. “Hey buddy,” he said in a low voice. Everyone in the room looked at him. Instead he wanted the entirely opposite reaction because he sensed something very wrong.
The sheriff pointed to a seat beside his mother. “Sit down there,” he said, “We need to have a little chat.”
Michael nervously swallowed and started to go over to his mother. He saw another officer standing behind her. “What the f**k man?” he asked the sheriff. A deputy with short, spiky red hair was hefting a rifle at his mother’s head. “Get away from her!”
His mother glowered at the officer in front of her. “You see Sheriff McGraw, you hick-named dog mounting son of a b***h, I wasn’t overreacting when you stood over my unconscious son and tried to tear his throat out.” Her voice was much calmer than his and he mentally kicked himself to be cool.
Michael couldn’t help it though and gaped at the sheriff. He tried to speak but couldn’t find any appropriate words for this situation. Instead he rubbed at his throat. It still stung and felt wet. He distinctly didn’t remember the werewolf’s claws actually tearing the skin when it strangled him. So that explains ‘tearing out’, he thought. For a second he opened his mouth to insult the sheriff and his leprechaun but thought better of it.
The sheriff sneered at him and pointed to the seat again with a clawed finger. His teeth were crooked razor points. “Boy,” he said slowly, “Sit down.”
He hadn’t noticed the change but it was really frightening. He started wondering when he would be used to seeing these creatures. Blood pressure exponentially rising, he finally sat beside his mother. Doc sauntered over and sat on the floor between them. His father sat on the armrest beside his mother and cursed at the leprechaun. “Put it down,” he ordered afterwards.
Michael looked back and the bearded redhead with green eyes swiveled the long-gun towards his father. “Well looky here Sheriff, he thinks he can boss me around.”
“My wife and I here killed three of you fur balls in New York just less than a week ago. So you can along and f**k off with thinking we aren’t used to you guys.” His father said.
“Huh?” Michael grunted. The leprechaun’s eyes widened and he lowered his weapon towards the hardwood floor. “Not used to you?” he asked the sheriff. He didn’t ask it nicely. The sheriff didn’t deserve to be treated right. To hell with his mother’s strict rules on respecting authority figures- she wasn’t being a role model herself right now.
“Look folks we have an obligation to protecting this town,” the sheriff said.
“Which means murdering everyone who sees a werewolf?” his mother asked.
“Speaking of that,” Michael cut in, “Why are there so many of them here? You guys aren’t exactly subtle about it either. So how could you not be seen?”
“We get rid of the evidence,” the sheriff admitted, “It’s a random pick. We can’t allow too many sightings around her. It’ll draw too much unwanted attention.”
“What kind of attention are you so afraid of? The Beast of Bray Road is having the time of his life over in Wisconsin. There’s also the Michigan Dogman…” Michael said. He glanced over at his parents. Mom was smiling proudly at him and his father was completely ignoring the conversation. Dad looked like he was in a heated staring contest with the leprechaun.
“Those are different, they’re good at hiding. It’s hard with us.”
“How is it hard for you to hide? We couldn’t even see that feral in the dark,” Mom said.
“It’s not that,” McGraw shook his head. He looked over Dad’s shoulder. “Knock it off!” he yelled. The last word came out in a snarl. Doc growled and both Michael and his mother reached down to calm him. He let his mother do the job. She patted his chest and pulled him closer to her, whistling soothing noises with pursed lips.
The leprechaun cleared his throat and sat a cushion down from the sheriff on the couch. His father adjusted himself, wrapping an arm the space behind his wife. When order was restored the sheriff spoke again.
“It’s hard for all of us to hide,” he said. Wrinkles in his face bunched together as he calculated air on the table. “Out of the 7,853 people who live in this town; 4,319 of them are werewolves.”
His mother gasped. Michael gawked in horror. Dad said, “F**k.” Even Doc cocked his head and gave off a confused grunt, as if he understood what was going on. His mother was frowning, trying to speak but at lost with her own words. He knew what she felt. What do you say about so many monsters?
“We have another problem Sheriff,” the leprechaun said.
Sheriff McGraw turned to him. “What is it?”
“I think the three have a good point. No one knows about the different breeds of werewolf unless they are said breed themselves or live with one.”
“Right,” McGraw drawled. “How do you know we exist?” he asked Dad.
Michael’s parents shared a look and she nodded. “I’m a Lunar Rider, a werewolf-“
“Yeah I know what you are. A hunter, d****t,” McGraw said.
The leprechaun shook his head. “Are you serious, another one?” he whined.
© 2012 Robert Kahil
Added on March 19, 2012
Last Updated on March 19, 2012
AboutI am a student of a local college in North Carolina. For the protection of... Me I'd say, that is confidential as of now. I have released a short story anthology- consisting of two stories- for Kind.. more..