By Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason
“There is different kinds, you know that…don’t you?” his breath was sour in her face and she nodded.
He smiled down at her, his haggard grin was one of approval.
“Let me get us a drink, you may be here a while.”
He shuffled off through the doorway and the commotion he made in the kitchen earned her a moment to glance over at her companions. Chrystal sat clutching the turquoise sequined bag in her lap, she looked down and cursed the clam shells affixed over her breasts. She tugged at the tiny metallic shrug sweater that hardly covered her yet was her only concealment from the old drunkard’s roving gaze.
“What the hell made you ask him that?” Angela whispered.
She was dressed as a German barmaid which would have delighted the entire fraternity but now being stuck with old what’s his name, it seemed far too revealing for her own comfort.
“It seemed fitting, it is Halloween after all.” Tori responded in her usual manner which infuriated her sorority sisters. “What about your stories in the car?”
“Those were ghost stories for little kids, not crazy cryptid sightings! I don’t want to hear any more of that crap, it’s just gettin’ him thinkin’ we want to sit around and talk.” Angela said.
Tori was all book smarts, overly polite and seemed to have never learned stranger danger. She also had the luxury of being dressed as a librarian, a costume which left everything to the imagination and she didn’t have to suffer the nauseating feeling of being mentally undressed by an old man that looked like Herman Munster and smelled like a well-worn track shoe filled with cheap vodka.
“We don’t want to hear any creepy shit, ok. Not right now.” Chrystal complained.
The storm outside steadily battered the dirty windowpane and Angela grew impatient.
“I can’t leave my dad’s car out there. We have to get out of here.”
She slid forward in her seat and was about to stand when he came back into the sitting room, a tray in his shaking. The glasses rattled together as he bent to serve each of his guests.
“A little something to chase the chill away.” He added and took his seat. “This old place ain’t insulated like newer homes.”
Chrystal shivered and brought her drink close to her lips. It smelled like rubbing alcohol and the glass wasn’t exactly clean. She pretended to sip from it but kept her lips together allowing not a drop of it in her mouth.
“Thank you, Charles, but we really must be going soon.” She said.
“Oh, yes. Your party.” He said.
“I know our friends should be looking for us soon and it sounds like the storm is over.” Angela said. “They will help with my dad’s car.”
“If you’re sure about it then I guess I can’t hold you hostage.” He laughed.
They giggled politely yet every one of them cringed inside and hoped it was truly a joke.
“Don’t you want to hear about what I saw out there, Tori?” he asked. “Don’t you want to know about the mounds?”
The storm had in fact died suddenly and the absence of its racket left the sitting room very quiet so her response sounded edgy.
“No! Thank you.”
His smile faded and she knew that unintentionally she had offended him.
“Have it your way, then.” He said and went to the closet to get his coat.
The ride back to the highway in his truck was uncomfortable. He sat rubbing his chin and sucking his yellow teeth. The car was in sight when he turned to them.
“I really don’t want to let you girls go. You’re not from around here, don’t know your way.”
“We’re fine.” Angela said.
“It can be dangerous out in the dark.” He said.
“We are adults, we will be just fine.” She snapped.
“You could stay back at my house. I have a spare bedroom.” He offered.
“We’ll be fine.” Tori answered.
“Thank you.” She added to ease the tension that radiated from the old man.
“Suit yourselves.” He answered as he pulled up alongside the broken down Honda.
The girls exited the tight confines of the truck before walking through the mud at the roadside to reach their only means of transportation. Angela watched as Charles drove away.
“What a complete creep!” she said.
“Level one-hundred freak!” Chrystal giggled.
“He’s just a lonely old man.” Tori said. “Give him a break.”
She watched the tail lights of his truck glowing red in the falling light of evening. A loud honking made her jump, then laugh as she realized that their knights in shining jeep had just arrived.
“We worried you ditched us!” Devin yelled.
“NEVER!” Angela laughed.
“Help me jump start this piece of crap and we’ll head out.” she said as they stopped alongside the young women.
Tori pulled her sweater together with one hand while she sipped a beer with the other. Her friends had already partied once before with the trio of guys from the little college town so they staked their claims on the two most attractive, leaving Tori to entertain a guy named Jerry. He wasn’t ugly yet he wasn’t what she considered handsome either. He had spent much of the time talking about himself, his interests and dislikes, gabbing on and on without giving her a chance to speak. She receded into her own mind as her friends danced to music with their more appealing dates, thinking about the odd burial mounds she had seen from the car window, regretting not listening to Charles’ account of what he witnessed there.
“I’m sorry. Am I boring you?” Jerry asked.
“No. I was just thinking about something I saw when we were driving here.”
“The mounds?” He asked with a smile.
“How’d you know?” She asked.
“Everyone wants to know about’em.” He answered.
“What are they?” Lori asked.
“Indian burial mounds.” Devin answered as he and Angela took a seat beside of Tori.
“Shut up!” Angela said.
“It’s true. They are very spiritual places.” Devin said. “Like doorways to other worlds.”
“Don’t try to freak us city girls out!” Angela accused and slapped his arm playfully.
“It’s Halloween. That’s what this night is for.” He laughed.
“I want to hear it.” Tori said.
“I got a better idea.” Cory spoke up as Chrystal grew quiet, turning the radio off.
“Let’s go see’em.”
“NO WAY!” Chrystal said.
“Come on. It’s a rite of passage for everyone around here.”
“I want to see them.” Tori said.
“Speak for yourself!” Angela said.
“Don’t be a chicken!” Devin teased and started squawking.
She giggled as he took her hand.
“It’s not far away. We will keep you safe and warm.” He said to all three young women.
“It’s not even dark, the full moon is as bright as the sun.” Jerry added. “A full moon on Halloween, that only happens every twenty years or so, let’s make the most of it!”
The beams of their flashlights were hardly necessary under the light of the full moon yet their illumination was comforting to Angela and Chrystal who clung to their dates as they tread through the trees towards the mounds.
“It’s basically raised earth in the shape of an animal.” Jerry whispered to Tori.
He walked uncomfortably close and she waited for the awkward moment when he would try to slide his arm over her shoulder.
“Are there dead bodies buried here?” Angela asked as they approached what looked like a long, low hill winding through a break in the woods.
“Yup.” Devin answered.
“People say when the moon is nice and bright sometimes you can see the spirits rising from them.” Cory said.
“I’m done!” Chrystal whined. “I wanna go back to the campfire.”
“Don’t be scared.” Jerry said softly as he inevitably made his move.
Tori stepped forward in an attempt to shake free of his grasp without it being obvious.
“It’s ok, Chrys. He’s just tryin’ to spook us.”
“Actually he’s not.” Jerry said, gripping her shoulder as she tried to break free. “I’ve seen them with my own eyes.”
Tori could feel her cheeks burning in the dark, he was overstepping her boundaries and if he tried to get any closer she would let him have a piece of her mind.
“Bull!” Angela said.
“It’s the truth!” He answered, finally releasing Tori so that he could walk to the top of the tail end of the mound to tell his story.
“This is all completely true.” He began.
“It was Halloween, like so many teenagers before me, I was dared to go out and stand on the mounds.”
He started to walk the length of the snaking rise, the moon shown like a spotlight down on him, stretching his shadow out long beside him. “There are tales of wolfmen that dig in these mounds, slashing the earth with gigantic claws, stinking of decaying flesh…”
“My friends laughed at me when I became frightened by the feeling of hands at my ankles.” He said as he stopped dramatically at the far end of the hillock, not saying another word.
Tori looked to the others, Angela and Chrystal were cowering in the arms of Devin and Cory.
“You’re such a faker, Jerry!” He yelled in a mocking voice.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts!” He continued.
His back was to those listening.
“Chicken!” Jerry teased yet his voice had grown gravelly.
“Chicken!” Devin called out harshly.
“CHICKEN!” Cory chimed in but there was no humor in his voice.
Jerry put his hands over his ears and cried. “It’s got me! HELP!” his voice mimicked that of a young boy.
He turned back to the frightened girls as he began to…change. His ears jutted out on the sides of his head and hair sprouted from the pores of his face as his face started pulling outward into a muzzle. His skin shimmered and his mouth twisted into a toothy grin. Chrystal screamed as Cory grabbed her around the waist and started hauling her over to the mound. Angela swung her fist, it connected with the side of Devin’s head as it began to shift, he gnashed his teeth and caught her by the wrist, sinking his teeth into her skin. She screamed as he tore a strip of her flesh free from her bone, blood sprayed into the cold autumn air. Tori ran into the dark forest, crashing through the bushes in terror. The cries of her friends sent waves of desperation rippling through her. They were agonizing and cut short in a brutal instant, something inside of her told her Angela and Chrystal were dead. She screamed into the endless forest when snarling filled the brush behind her. She pushed herself forward without caring that her legs were being cut open on sharp branches. Tori’s skirt got tangled in a strong undergrowth and it dragged her to the ground. She yanked and tugged yet couldn’t free herself as a shadow sailed over the brush she was caught in. It landed on her, knocking the air from her lungs, halting her cries for help. Claws raked down her back, slicing through her clothing, leaving searing lines of pain. She felt her blood rise quickly from the wounds to run down her sides.
“Not bored anymore, huh?” A guttural voice asked.
Jerry rolled her over so that she could see his monstrous face. He grinned at her silent dread, she began to shake and tears streamed down her face.
“Come back to the party.”
Jerry tore her skirt free and threw her over his hunched shoulder.
He tossed Tori down onto the mound beside of Cory who had his hands full of gore. Chrystal and Angela were indistinguishable piles of organs and flesh spread out over the top of the mound. Jerry sank his teeth into the soft meat of her arm as she brought it up to cover her throat as he attacked. She cried out as he pulled a bloody mouthful away. He gulped it down ravenously. Tori’s arm shook violently, dripping blood into her face as he fed. She couldn’t hear her own screaming over the sounds of the other creatures beside of them rending the meat from her best friend’s skeletons, snapping their bones in their canine maws as easy as brittle tinder. All that she could see, smell or taste was blood. Tori feared the end because she knew the torture she would have to endure before death would claim her. She felt herself weakening as Jerry lunged for her face once more, she pushed his snapping teeth away with her good arm as she felt her consciousness slipping away. He leaned over her, a beastly grin on his hideous face, she knew he was toying with her.
“Havin’ fun yet?” He growled.
A howl cut through the awful sounds of gorging. The three monsters halted in their bloody revelry. They sniffed the air and growl, their dark fur stood out on end in agitation.
Jerry left Tori bleeding out on the mound to follow his companions as they paced the perimeter of the mound.
A blur of shimmering white, like full moon light, hit Jerry and they tumbled. The other two joined the fight. Tori rolled her head to the side to see a wolf-like creature covered in ivory colored hair attacking the three gluttonous beasts responsible for killing Angela and Chrystal. Tori’s heart thundered in her chest as the beast decapitated one of them with a single swipe of its massive paw. It rolled as another one leapt onto its back, freeing itself before recoiling and catching its attacker within its jaws by the throat then ripping it from its body. The third turned and fled yet the white beast jumped onto its back as it retreated then gripped the beasts head in its powerful grip, with a howl it tore its foe’s head off. It quickly buried the carnivorous creatures in the side of the mound before turning to Tori who trembled with exsanguination.
“I warned you that there was different kinds.” It spoke in a gravely tone.
Tori realized then who the white beast had to be.
“I tried to get you to stay, but your friends wouldn’t listen. I should’ve stopped you.”
He scooped her up in his furry arms and carried her through the forest.
“They only come every twenty years or so, been fightin’ them a long time but they always come back…”
“Will I die?” Tori asked faintly.
“You’ll feel like you are but no. There’s next to nothin’ that can kill you now.”
She wept as he made his way across an open field.
“The moon will control you now.” Charles said.
“I don’t want to be change you.” She admitted, her voice trembling.
He laid her softly on the grass as he shifted back into an old man.
“You don’t have a choice in that matter but what you do get to decide is whether you will behave like them,” he nodded his head back towards the gory mound, “or if you will behave like me.”
He smiled, knowing which she would choose.
Jenna Deluise lives in a broken world. The dead walked, millions died. Here's what happened After.
I AM AN AUTHOR, BLOGGER AND A JOURNALIST.
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