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The Beast in Me (completed)
Monday morning mom was unusually cheerful and talkative at breakfast. I was glad for her but at the same time I knew that dark clouds were hanging over our heads and I was only listening with one ear. What was more, I was feeling hungry. My stomach was aching. I had already downed two sandwiches and a bowl of cereal and was just working on the second one.
“Your sister called when you were gone yesterday. She was so excited. I don't think I ever experienced her this way before.” Mom put on a broad smile.
“Uhuh...” I grunted and sipped another spoonful of Cheerios. I got up and tried to find something that would satiate my appetite. It had reached scary proportions by now. Most of all, nothing would really dampen it. I never seemed to find exactly what I wanted - perhaps “needed” was the better term.
“Aren't you going to ask me why, Byron?!” My mother was waiting for her cue to continue the story. I scanned the innards of our fridge for my cravings - if I only knew what it was.
“Sure mom... why?” I asked absentmindedly and shuffled packages around on the cold shelves. Nothing looked really appetizing to me and yet I knew that there was something that I wanted.
“She recently got a new manager. He arranged an auditioning for her! A feature film movie.”
I lifted the bacon package which didn't look that bad but underneath I saw something that wasn't familiar to me.
“Uhuh... sounds good, mom. Hollywood?” I pretended to pay attention while I grabbed the package and read the label. Blood sausage! I made a double take. Then I realized that saliva was running out of the corners of my mouth. I quickly wiped it away with the back of my hand before mom could see.
“No! Silly! But it's a start! Isn't that great?!”
I turned around, studying the package intensely,
“Sure... didn't that `Morgue'-guy arrange an auditioning for her as well? How'd that go?”
“Morgan? He kept promising things but never lived up to it, Sue told me. But this guy is different.”
I opened the package and I almost fainted in delight when the scent of the sausage reached my nostrils.
“That's what they all say. Wait until auditioning day and see if Sue really gets to go.”
“She's been there yesterday! They kept her for almost an hour. They even let her test some of the scene's in the movie. It sounds really promising, doesn't it?” Mom's eyes were gleaming with pride and relief. She never had felt comfortable with Sue's decision to go for an acting career before. I couldn't wait any longer and just bit into the raw sausage, gulping the piece down with delight. Mom looked slightly appalled,
“You like that stuff, huh? Mr.” Henderson offered it to me yesterday, said the home delivery company had brought him too many packages. I was going to throw it away today. You really do like it, huh?” I had eaten it all up by the time she had finished talking. I felt relief. My stomach was finally satisfied. For now, at least. I smiled at her as if a long-grinding pain had just subsided. “Well, maybe it's good for your hurt shoulder. Young people's bodies seem to have a way of taking care of themselves. So go on with it!” My mother gave me a kiss on my forehead.
Half an hour later, I found myself running to school again. It felt like a nice warm up exercise before school. Mr.” Henderson had kept me from catching the school bus. I think he was waiting for me at his fence. Dodger, his dog, barking his little head off as usual while we were talking.
“Great job, saving that girl, Byron!”
“Ron.” I reminded him.
“Too bad you didn't have that rifle with ya. Y'know, the one I gave you for your sixteenth birthday.” Mom had locked it away anyway, I thought surreptitiously, but just nodded.
“They're back, son!” The old man said with a hushed voice. I furrowed my forehead,
He looked all around, acting conspiratorially,
I just stared at him.
“They call me crazy but I know better! These attacks ain't no ordinary wolves! I'm prepared.” He looked down into the basket of his walker. Then I saw his shiny new rifle.
“Don't worry. I'd think you'd be quite safe here, Mr.” Henderson.”
He looked grimly at me,
“Ron! I don't fear for my own miserable ol' life, I tol'ya that before. But I'll gladly take as many I can o'those beasts with me, if they should ever cross m'sight.” He rattled his rifle in the basket. It appeared a bit comical but I kept a straight face.
“You think I'm crazy, too, huh?” He huffed at me. I shrugged my shoulders apologetically. Then I contemplated just how much damage a gun shot actually could cause a werewolf, considering that I was one. As if reading my thoughts, the old man plunged his hand into his big pockets in his wide trousers and showed me his opened fist. I made out four bullets with shiny tips,
“Silver-coated. I just got them last week. Mail-ordered.”
The war had begun. But at least I happy to be fore-warned. Now I just had to make sure not to be seen by Mr.” Henderson in my werewolf form, lest I wanted a bullet between my shoulder blades. I knew he meant well. How could he know that I was on his side? I side-glanced down to his dog, Dodger, who was continuously jumping up the fence, desperately trying to jump at me all the time.
“And I thought you didn't believe in wer...”
“Sawatzky brought all this'pon us! His dam'n'all!” He suddenly burst out, shaking his fist. “He's the worst one!”
“The worst one?” I asked.
“For sure. Like his late ol' man.”
“You mean, he's a...”
“A werewolf!” Mr.” Henderson nodded grimly and turned around with his walker, “com'ere ya fussy little bastard! Always barkin' at the poor lad, fer no good reason. Bye Ron, I guess ya'should run for your bus now!” He said over his shoulder, waving one hand. I heard the school bus engine starting up and accelerating away from the pick-up place.
That's how I missed the bus and had to run again. But I was feeling exceptionally good. The fact that eating blood had been involved gave me a slight headache, though. I didn't like being to addicted to blood. But I told myself that there were worse things than that because if that was a way from keeping me thirsty for human blood, it was worth it. My headache actually got better. Instead I started feeling a bit queasy in my stomach. Too much breakfast, I told myself.
But then I thought about Mr.” Henderson's words. He was so close to the truth. Nobody but him was suspecting werewolves behind these attacks, as far as I could tell. But on the other hand, his imagination and his hatred for the Sawatzky-clan ran riot with him. I just hoped he didn't hurt an innocent. I could probably dodge his bullets but if Sawatzky ever crossed his path... well, Mr.” Henderson told me what he would do. It seemed that I was one of the few who actually knew that Sawatzky was better than his reputation, Frank's father, that is. Frank, on the other hand, I believed to be capable of anything. Although, I grinned to myself, not of being a werewolf.
Of course, at school Jim was all over me again and now I couldn't bend the truth anymore. I had to lie.
“How did you fend them off? Why didn't they do more than graze your shoulder?”
"Jeez, Jim, you sound almost disappointed that I'm still alive!" I joked.
“Look, Ron, I'm not stupid! This whole thing stinks. Something is going on.”
“Going on?” I asked back.
“Yeah, and you're not telling me the truth!” He looked hurt.
“OK, so you want the truth, huh?” I asked defiantly. He nodded grimly. I looked over my shoulders to see if we were safe. We were standing in the corner of the school grounds, well out of ear shot of anybody without super-hearing abilities.
“So here's the deal...” I took a deep breath, “You know it was full moon this weekend, right?”
Jim nodded, looking in my eyes and listening intently to what I was about to reveal to him.
“Those wolves... those wolves were a pack of werewolves.”
“Did you say werewolves?!” His voice was distorted. I nodded,
“Yepp. They have come to destroy Baskerville and want to transform as many people as they can to join in their plan. Mandy was supposed to be their first victim.”
“They bit Mandy?!” He asked fervently.
“They were going to.”
“How many were they?”
“Five in total.” I said truthfully.
“So you took a big weapon... a stick or something and thrashed at them?!” He suggested. I shook my head.
“No, you see... when I turned sixteen about a month ago...” I looked at him to check if he was still following, but he was all ears. “...well, you know that suddenly I could do things I normally wouldn't be capable of, right?”
“Ah, the physics class and stuff...?” He filled in.
“Uhuh... well all that's a part of me becoming...” I might as well tell him this now, too, “a werewolf! Jim, I am a werewolf, too.”
He stepped back half a step and looked at me up and down. He nodded,
“That explains a lot...” he said with awe in his voice. I was baffled how easily he was taking this news. He wasn't upset or skeptical one bit. Jeez, I would have called Jim crazy, if he had told me the same story,
“So you fought with the other werewolves to save Mandy, then?”
I hesitated a second. I didn't want to pull Sheena into the story at this point. It sufficed to give him a shortened version for the moment,
“Not exactly. I wouldn't have had a chance. I pulled Mandy with me and made it to the river. I brought her to the other side and escaped the pack!”
“And that's the whole story, the real story?” he asked to get confirmation. I nodded,
“Yeah, Jim, it's crazy but it's true. But you can't go running around telling anybody else! There might be a panic. I got this under control!”
He looked at me and then he looked to the ground,
“Ron...” he began serenely. “You're an asshole. But I get it. You're with Frank's gang now. You're a whole new person. Popular and amazing. Good luck!”
Then he just walked away. My chin dropped. He thought I was only trying to make fun of him. He even thought I was one of Frank's droogs.
“Jim! Wait!” I called after him. I felt another pinch in my stomach and didn't walk after him. Instead, I suddenly felt a massive hand on my shoulder pulling me back. I whirled around, looking directly into the face of Frank, framed by Toby and Hogan.
“Nice job, Ron-boy!” he sneered, “I owe you some thanks for saving Mandy's pretty litsofasha! Tobe, Hoge, this man here scared away these beasts singlehandedly. Give him some credit!” He jabbed his elbows into the sides of Toby and Hogan, who grunted something to me.
“Ah, nothing you wouldn't have been up to, had you been around.” I put my accomplishment into proportion. He looked at me as if trying to gauge just how much I knew about his nightly actions.
“Yeah, right. I suppose. Well anyway, Mandy will surely be in good shape soon enough. I heard you paid her a visit at the hospital. Did... did she say anything?”
I knew Frank was trying to perform damage control and see if he should shut me up or not.
“You mean, about her being around Sheena's house late at night?” I asked innocently. He rubbed his fist and I continued quickly, “Same reason as me, I suppose. Surprise visit on Sheena's birthday.”
“You were in Sheena's house?” he gaped at me.
“Naw, I never made it there. Ran into Mandy who was being attacked by the wolves.” I lied whitely to save my neck. I imagined that he wouldn't want me knowing about them sedating Sheena's father to get the keys for the dam premises. He relaxed visibly.
“Yeah, I guess so. Girls' stuff...” he grinned but then stopped and his face turned sour again, “...so, you and the ugly duckling... you got something going there, huh? I almost suspected that since you rescued her from her stupid fall into the reservoir.”
“No, no, no!” I rejected his notion, “Well, I... I met her after school, once or twice... but she's weird, you know. That goes for her father as well. Seems like a strange guy, too.” Frank's face lightened up. Obviously, he fully agreed to my words. I played on,
“I... I was gonna... well, I can tell you guys, right?” I looked left and right, “I was gonna play a prank on her. Stupid, I know. Nothing serious but...”
Frank laughed heartily and gave me a pat on the shoulder,
“Good man! Likes the night. Just like us biggerwickers, right droogs?” The other two grinned stupidly. He grabbed both my shoulders and shook me lightly. “Ron, droog! Now listen, you might'a heard the sad news... we're short a man since this weekend. Stupid ole Marty broke himself into the entrance building at the dam and tripped over this roll of cables that were lying... uhhmm, I mean, he probably had an accident and got himself drowned.”
He looked at me, probably trying to see whether I was suspecting anything after his verbal slip up. I didn't flinch. I was determined to find out what they had been up to there.
“Well, anyway... we need another pair of hands and since Marty no longer is available...” he grinned broadly. This was it. I was walking into the lions den. “Tonight. We'll all meet at the...”
But he was interrupted by a bellowing, officially sounding voice,
He whirled around and so did the rest of us.
We found ourselves facing several men in police uniforms. But these weren't from the Baskerville Police Department, I even wondered whether they were feds. In any case, they looked like they meant serious business.
“You are arrested suspected in the case of the murder of Martin Riley. We have to ask you to come with us.”
Frank looked seriously shocked, as did his droogs.
“Murder? Frank told us it was an accident when he got back!” Toby's mouth rattled.
“Shut up, son!” His father Dan said. Now I saw him standing behind the other uniforms, looking very concerned.
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