The werewolf hunched over the deer as it lay pinned to the ground; his claws sank into its whimpering flesh and his mouth filled with the metallic taste of blood as the terrified creature gasped its last breath.
He threw back his head and howled up at the stars with delight. He didn't care that the sound would travel for miles, making the women of the village pull their children closer to the hearth fire, and the men double check the bolts on the doors.
This was his territory now.
Silver mist slowly rose from the ground as wispy gray tendrils stretched out to caress the roots and branches of the moonlit forest trees.
They were right to fear him; men, women, lords, bandits, merchants, clergy. They all thought themselves so important, so endued with purpose. But they had never felt her looking down upon them, guiding them.
He breathed in the night air, savoring the earthy aroma and taste of all the life that surrounded him. He exhaled a puffy cone of white and looked up at the glorious luminary that blanketed him in argentine iridescence; his mistress of the night, his sacred bride adorned in white, and howled in ecstasy.
He sprinted through the forest. The scent of new prey was fresh, the wild boar wasn't far now. The thought of the meat made his mouth water and saliva dripped from his fanged maw.
Then he heard it. Faint, from a distance, the sound of something...in distress. It was like the bleating of a lamb but somehow more familiar. He turned his head and raced through the forest.
Not far, near the edge of the tree line, a clearing appeared, surrounding a small cottage with a stone chimney gently billowing out clouds of gray warm smoke. The night was dark and cold, but the cottage was lit from within by hearth and lamp. It would have been peaceful if not for the bleating.
"Bahhh bahhh" it whined.
The werewolf's ears twitched as his mind adjusted to a more human perception.
"Bahhh...bahh...naww...nooo..." the voice cried.
For it was no lamb that had caught his ear, but the cry of a young girl child. Curious, he slowly stalked towards the cottage, his head raised slightly, sniffing, tasting the air. And then he caught the scent of ale, and sweat, and blood...and terror.
The cottage door burst asunder, sending splinters of wood exploding into the room. The creature snarled and the young girl with the doll screamed. The older girl on the floor by the fireplace, with the blood on her inner thighs just stared numbly. The man let out a gasp as he clutched at the trousers he was in the midst of putting back on, and stumbled towards an axe near the wall.
With preternatural speed the creature ripped the man's arm off spraying the room with crimson gore. The fire hissed as the liquid kissed the flames. The girl with the doll kept screaming, the older girl just stared into the fire, her face a blood freckled mask of shock.
A curtain to another room was pulled back and a woman emerged, her eyes wide with terror as she ran towards the man hysterical, helplessly trying to stem the spray of blood that continued to erupt like a fountain.
The creature turned its flickering eyes towards the older girl. He took one step toward her and sniffed her hair, the bruises on her arms, and the blood between her legs. A low guttural snarl emerged from its throat.
The older girl raised her eyes, seemingly aware for the first time of what was going on. She looked up at the creature, both of them stared at each other for a moment, the light from the fire shining in their eyes.
The creature growled again.
Very slowly the girl began to turn her head in the direction of her mother. Her empty stare finally coming to rest on the woman.
As the werewolf turned towards her she dropped the twitching form of her husband and began stammering, pleading, begging, offering excuses. The creature loomed over her and then looked back at the two girls. The cottage would be theirs now. The farm and its possessions would pass to them.
The woman screamed and fled out into the night through the opening where the door had been.
The werewolf slowly followed.
The two girls held each other by the fire listening to their mother's desperate screams, the snarling, the roaring, and then...the silence.
They held each other until well after dawn had come, and the embers of the fire had turned to ash. Then they slowly stood and greeted the day, knowing for certain...
that all the monsters were gone.
Copyright © 2017 Short Stories by Christopher Daniel Barnes - All Rights Reserved.