|The Neighborhood Werewolf oneshot
Author: HereComesTheSunQueen PM
You know there's something strange about the dog across the street, and you're going to find out what it is.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Horror - Words: 5,725 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 07-04-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3038803
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You remember sirens the most. Everything else had been calm and quiet that day, because for everyone else, it really was just another normal day. Kids walking home from school, stopping at the local ice cream parlor; lovers stopping by at Mrs. Birch's Flower Box to sniff the newly-cut azaleas; old friends conversing amiably over smoothies at the much-loved cafe, La Dolce Vita. You were one of those normal people in that normal town, hanging out with your normal friends after a normal day of school. You weren't happy, you weren't sad. Everything was fine, just fine.
You were sitting by the creek that runs straight through town, right under the bridge where all the teenagers hung out to avoid their parents and break the rules. Your friends were a little high, and maybe you were too, you can't really remember. Some childish game was taking place-maybe truth or dare, or possible spin-the-bottle. The only clear thing is those distant sirens, slowly getting closer with their weee-ooo-weee-ooo, unsettling you into silence.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the flashing lights of a fire truck flew by on the bridge over the creek in which you all hid, and you knew. Even before you saw the plumes of smoke in the direction of your house, you knew.
'Will you sit down?'
'Please? It helps the trust.'
A sigh. 'Fine, stand then.' Shuffling of papers. 'Now, let's return to our last session. We were talking about your memories of... y'know, that day.'
'I really think it would be helpful to you if you described the feelings you had to me. It was a very traumatic event, and studies show that talking about it really helps you get past your post-traumatic stress disorder.'
You don't have post-traumatic stress disorder. You say this.
'Yes, I know, you've stated so before.' A sigh. 'Though, I think as someone with a PhD in psychiatry, I would know better than you. An event of this scale just has to have an effect on you, and that's perfectly okay. It's normal.'
'Alright then, I suppose it's straight to the meditation today. Remember, we'll finish up earlier if you cooperate.' A pause. 'Good. Now that you're laying down, please close your eyes and imagine your happy place...'
But as you try to follow her commands, knowing you'll get out sooner if you do, you can't help but think that your happy place would be anywhere but here.
One thing you don't think you'll ever get used to about the new house are the dogs. Even months after you've moved here, each bark is still startling.
As you get home from your walk from school, you try to tiptoe silently over your gravel driveway, hoping she won't hear you. But your effort is useless, as always, and you wince as Jezebel begins her daily barking that never seemed to end.
As you'd feared, it triggers off all the other dogs on the street, and loud, incessant barking fills the air, the dogs unrestrained by fences coming out to sniff you. You run for your house, shoving them away so you can lock the gate, fearful as always of their animal savagery. As you lean against the gate in both relief and a barrier between you and the hounds, your gaze turns to a new, unfamiliar husky across the street.
He isn't taking part in the excitement. Rather, he seemed to barely notice it. He looks at you with wise blue eyes, fluffy white ears perked, a lone, intelligent wolf among a pack of mangy mutts.
The husky seems to study you for a long, tense moment. Finally, it bows its head in a slow nod of understanding, and lumbers away back into its house.
It's only later, tucked away safely in your room, that you realize the house belonged to Sara Winifred and her family, before they moved away.
But if that was true, that means no one lives there.
So what's that dog doing there?
You and your parents go to visit the Institute the next day. You hate it here, and you hate what you always find. Before you go, you always protest, to the same results:
'He's your brother,' your father exclaims.
'He misses you,' you mother cries.
But they're both wrong. He and you may have the same parents, but he's never been your brother. Especially not since the incident. He doesn't miss you, either. That much is clear from the times you're left alone with him, and he stares at you with those cold, grey eyes that make you want to run, run away from there and never come back.
You don't have a choice, though. So you go.
When you all walk in, you find James on the uncomfortable leather couch in the corner, staring at a sketchbook on his lap. This is usual, for he rarely sits or even sleeps in the bed they provide for him. He just sits on that couch all day, barely eating, not speaking, just staring.
The sketchbook is a familiar sight, too. It's either that or a book on his lap, but he never draws or reads while you're there. There's always a drawing on the page, always completed, and always showing the frightening world of James's mind. Today it shows the picture of a knife clutched in bloody hands. You shudder.
Your parents step forward and greet him cheerily, you standing behind them with your eyes set firmly on the floor. You're the older sibling, but James has always held the power over you.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see him look up, giving a small nod of acknowledgement. That's the most he usually does on these visits, and only a few times have you heard him utter anything.
They talk to him for a while, maybe ten minutes, giving him updates on their lives and occasionally pleading for him to speak. But he doesn't, he just sits there and stares; you don't even know if he's listening.
You look up when your mother taps your shoulder. 'We're going to go get something to eat and talk to the nurses now. We'll leave you two some space.' She smiles as if this is a great gift she's giving you, then leaves through the door with your father.
Turning back around, your eyes widen as you take him in. Usually he just stays in the same position as when he and your parents were talking, but now he stands, showing fully how frail he is, and he looks straight at you from his skeleton-like face.
You swallow nervously. 'Uh, hi, James.'
He doesn't say anything for a moment. You can never read his expression, for his face is always set in an indifferent, dull look, his eyes are wide and intense, as though he sees in you his worst nightmare. Today, you think you recognise the expression from somewhere other than him, but you can't place it.
Then, shocking you, he says something. You can't make out the words, but you see his lips move and hear a faint, hoarse whisper.
You still can't tell what he's saying. You sigh impatiently, still wondering where you know his look from.
'James, I can't hear you.'
So he steps forward, trembling like it's his first step in years, then makes his way over to where you stand. You want to run now more than ever; he's never been this close to you since that day.
'Why are you scared?' he asks, his voice scratchy and cracking at the end. And finally, you remember where you've seen that wild look before. The husky dog on your street had that same look, like he was sniffing out your fear and wondering why it was there.
So this time, you run.
Before the incident on that day, in the early hours of the morning, you woke up sweating. You found it strange, since it was still early spring and you hadn't had many covers on anyway. Still, you felt too hot and restless laying there in the darkness, so you put on your boots and shuffled outside.
The air was freezing against your skin, and you shivered, wishing you had brought a jacket. Inside was too hot, yet outside was too cold. Still, you stayed, looking up at the sky and wishing you could see stars. Your town wasn't some big city, so you'd always wondered why you couldn't see the stars at night and know what everyone was talking about. You found it hard to believe that tiny dots in the sky could be so beautiful to people, but you wanted to be proven wrong.
Your fingers itched to light a cigarette, but you had none; your best friend, Michael, kept the drugs with him because his parents never searched for them. Yours were always too suspicious of you, so you were often without the escape you longed for.
You sat out there for maybe five minutes, wondering why you'd even bothered, before getting up to head back inside. Just as you were reaching the door, however, it opened and revealed the face of your brother.
Upon seeing you, he paled, which was quite the feat for someone with an already pale skin that was doubled in the moonlight. The two of you rarely had much contact, and you realised this was the first time you'd really looked at James in weeks, maybe even months. You felt like some old, distant relative of his, seeing him for the first time in years and wondering how he'd changed so much. Whereas the James you remembered was an average looking, albeit rather quiet, kid, this was a scrawny teenager with an insane, hopeless glint in his eyes. You wondered what had made him look that way, after all, it wasn't as though you had many family problems, and you'd never seen him looking very upset.
Of course, you hadn't exactly paid attention. But that was beside the point.
'What are you doing out here?' you demanded in what you hoped was a stern, older-sibling look. But this only seemed to shake him out of his fearful daze, and he looked up at you defiantly.
'Nothin', just getting some fresh air.'
'Right,' you said skeptically.
'What, so you can be out here but I can't? How is that fair at all?' he snapped, turning away from you. You noticed for the first time he carried a bag, and frowned.
'Hey, what's in there? What do you think you're doing with it?'
'Yeah, right. Lemme see.'
'James...' you said warningly, stepping forward.
'No!' And before you could say anything, a fist had slammed into your cheek, inexperienced and wild, yet still strong and painful. Cursing loudly, you looked up at him with a murderous glare, only to pause at what your eyes fell upon.
James stood there with a pocketknife, holding it threateningly and comfortably, as if he'd been in this situation many times. His other hand clutched the bag protectively to his side, tucked under his elbow and out of reach. His expression was coldly defiant, and you knew that if you tried to question him again, he'd strike without hesitation.
After all, the two of you had never been real siblings. What did you matter to him?
Slowly, you straightened up, eyeing the knife anxiously. You had half a mind to call down your parents, or the police, or someone who could take care of whatever the fuck was wrong with him, but you didn't. You couldn't. Not because he was your brother or because you were afraid of him hurting you, but simply because the look on his face told you that even if you did call for help, he would carry out whatever he planned with that bag anyway. Nothing would stop him.
Later that morning, you would sit at the table in the illusion of a normal family, chatting around breakfast and heading off to school. But you'd feel how wrong and fake it was, and you'd long to say something. But you wouldn't.
You visit that morning often in your mind, wondering what could have been if you had decided to talk to James. Would he still have done what he did? Would your parents still have to move, mourning the loss of their house and their youngest son, who was arrested and found insane?
But you also wonder, if you had said something, would you still be sitting here today?
A different approach today.
'Will you sit down?'
'Please? It helps the trust.'
A sigh. 'Fine, stand then.'
'How about you talk about your parents? How are they doing?'
'Would you like to elaborate?'
'I hear you saw your brother recently? Has he changed at all?'
'Did he say anything to you?'
'No.' Technically, he didn't say anything to you. He asked you something.
'Okay... how's school?'
'Have you made any new friends like we've talked about?'
'But surely you've talked to some people, right?'
'Okay, so tell me about them.'
A pause. 'They were... people?'
That sigh. Always the same sigh. Short, heavy, filled with irritation and disappointment. The worse sound there is.
'You're not going to tell me anything else, are you?'
A silence thick with the word no.
'Alright. Meditation time it is.'
You wish someone could help you with what you really need. Comfort.
The only light in your room is unnatural.
It comes from the TV, flashing green, blue, red, onto the walls like a strobe light. It comes from your nearly ancient computer room your desk, too far away to shut down. It comes from the crack in the door, light from the hallway bleeding into the darkness. It's like in those horror movies, where everything is dark save for glowing colors of bright blue, making everything seem cold and haunting.
You're slumped against your pillows, your head pressed painfully against the hard headboard behind you. You crave sleep, but you don't want to submit yourself to the darkness. But you get up anyway, shutting off the TV and computer and putting four pencils between the door so you'll at least have a little light.
It's a warm night for February. All week, it's been sweltering, and all of the kids at your school stayed late to jump in the pool, all their clothes on and all. Even with the air-conditioning on plus two fans in your room, you're still hot. You turn over to open the window up a crack, and feel your always-tense muscles relax slightly at the cooler breeze that floats through. From the smell of the air and the familiar cold breeze, it seems like the fog will finally be coming in to bathe your town in grey again.
You're just drifting off to sleep when you're jolted to alertness as a crisp, eerie sound fills the air.
It's such a strange sound. Not loud, really, but close, as if the source of it is right there in your room. It's a bestial screaming that fills your head with images from every horror movie you've ever seen and every nightmare you've ever experienced. It freezes you in place, and though you wish you could scream back, or run crying to your mother, but you can't.
You don't think you've ever actually heard real howling before. Only in movies. But it's very real now, and you're pretty sure you know where it's coming from.
Sure enough, as you look out your open window, you see that white dog-wolf-with his head thrown back and it's snout opened in a grotesque, savage expression.
You stare at it for a few seconds with wide eyes, and then, abruptly, the howling cuts off and the wolf looks straight at you.
And you think you recognise those eyes. And you think you can see a question in them: Why are you scared?
The wolf turns away then and saunters around the house, out of your sight, but you stay staring where it was long after that.
No. You refuse to go. You will not.
No, no, no, no, no.
You put up a fight every time, but this time is different. This time you won't even listen to what your parents have to say about him being your brother and you having to see him. You won't go.
You will not.
So, finally, after a loud argument with your father and tears from your mother, they drive off to the hospital, leaving you grounded for a week for your behavior.
You don't care. You'll take anything over seeing him.
So while your parents are visiting the psycho, you turn on your computer and search Google for how to banish werewolves. You print out five articles that look promising, restocking the printer with paper each time so it doesn't look like you've been there. When you're done, you study the articles, preparing the best way to carry out their instructions.
And every time you peek out the window, the wolf is staring at your house.
When you were a kid, you used to have nightmares. But they weren't normal nightmares; they were more intense, more terrifying. And when you woke up, sometimes they would continue in a hallucination, even as your parents tried to comfort you.
You were seven when it first happened. You and your family were on your way back from your yearly summer trip to a small, lakeside town that was a few hours away. Your brother was already asleep, but you had managed to stay awake until it got dark. But you didn't notice when you started nodding off, and as you fell asleep, your dreams started out as continuing the reality. You were still awake in the quiet car.
Then your father turned around and grinned at you, but it wasn't a normal smile. The skin on his face was peeling away, leaving bloody patches all over his cheeks and forehead. His normally green eyes were now pitch-black and unseeing, and his teeth had sharpened into a mouth of fangs, like a shark's. His head was bald now, and he leered down at you with a frightening expression and a menacing laugh filling the car.
And you screamed.
Even as you woke up, your father's face was still twisted in that grotesque expression, even as you heard his words of concern and comfort. You pushed him away, screaming, crying, not registering anything for ten minutes, after which the hallucination finally fell away and you truly woke up.
Your parents took you to see countless therapists, but none seemed to find a cause. They said all children have nightmares at times, yours were just a little bit more intense. You would grow out of them eventually, they soothed.
And you did, after four years of waking up to find yourself screaming, or crying, or somewhere you didn't fall asleep. Only once was the dream truly dangerous, and thankfully you were alone when it happened.
You can't remember what the initial nightmare was about, but when you woke up, you remember staring in shock as your hand held a knife pressed to your own throat. You were in your bathroom, and you stared in the mirror with terrified, bloodshot eyes.
You had never thought of hurting yourself before, much less killing yourself-you were only nine years old at the time. But after that, you started to think about it more. They were only thoughts, just barely touching the surface before you pushed them back under, but they were there.
And they were waiting.
'Will you sit down?'
'Please? It helps the trust.'
A sigh. 'Fine, stand then.'
'Is something wrong?'
'You seem... different, today. Did something happen?'
'Was it James?'
'School? Family? Friends? Something else?'
'...Alright. I'm not going to force you, but sometime soon, I'm going to start talking to your parents more if you don't talk much during our sessions. You know this is to help you, right? I want to help you.'
'Don't need your help.'
'What was that?'
'Um. Okay. Well, meditation time, then.'
Why should you have to live through this?
You're in your parents' room, looking through your mom's things. You don't really know how to tell the difference between the metal jewelry, but you feel sure at least some of these silvery things must be actual silver.
She won't miss this stuff, you know. She's hidden it away and never wears it anymore. The only thing she does wear is her wedding ring, and you think that's just because she feels guilty. Neither of your parents want to admit that their marriage is over, and has been over for a long time.
You think the jewelry makes her feel sad, and that's why she doesn't wear it anymore.
But you don't really care.
What you've found are five necklaces, two rings, eight pairs of earrings, and one bracelet. There's also some old-fashioned-looking object that you think is called a hairpin. You gather them up and hesitantly make your way outside.
The werewolf is watching you, as he always is.
It's cold again, the unusual weak of warmth having died away as if it was never there. You shiver, wishing you had put another jacket on, but not wanting you go back now. You have a purpose now.
You've thought this out carefully. You've picked Saturday to do this, when you know the dog next door, Jezebel, will be inside and therefore won't alert the other unrestrained dogs to your presence. You waited until your parents went out to marriage counseling, and now you're here, in the lonely silence of your new town, facing the werewolf.
You're sure of it now, because the last time your parents came home from the hospital, they said he wasn't there. They asked the doctors, but they seemed not to know, and the whole time they were away, you saw the wolf there, watching you.
It's James. You know it's James. And so you have to get rid of it.
You open the gate carefully, wincing as it creaks. Every sound is so loud here, tucked away in this little valley. The town is more like an overgrown neighborhood, only having one business: the local market that's barely more than a convenience store. To get anywhere, you have to drive over the hill that's like a wall, shutting out the world and shutting you inside. Like a prisoner.
Somewhere overhead, a crow caws.
And the werewolf is still watching.
The article you found said to lay the silver out on the ground in front of the werewolf. As you do so, it stays still, ears perked and head tilted to the side in a look of human curiosity. You try not to look at it.
Step two was to take the largest piece of silver there is. That would be the heavy bracelet—the necklaces were too thin.
Step three was to throw it at the beast, making sure it touched the skin. You take a deep breath, then fling it over the gate, hearing the wolf's low growling as you run across the street, back to your house.
You glance over your shoulder just before closing the door, and the werewolf is still there, now pacing and looking angry.
The door slams shut.
You decide to go today. To the hospital.
You barely notice anything today. You don't feel the usual eeriness of all the insane patients as you pass them by with your parents. You don't look at the doctors and see their grim smiles that you always thought seemed almost sadistic. You don't pay attention to the silence baring down on everyone there like polluted air, making you suffocate.
You want to see him. You want your suspicions confirmed.
Your mother pauses outside the door, turning to look at you. 'Now, I want you to listen to me. James had a sort of breakdown last night. The doctors said he's feeling a bit unstable, so we'll just be careful, okay?'
Your heart stars pounding. She seems to misread your expression as fear.
'Of course he'd never do anything to hurt us, I mean, we're his family!' She gives a shaky laugh, glancing at your father. He nods robotically. She looks back at you, and you watch her swallow. 'Just... don't do anything to, well... provoke him. This will be a quieter visit. Okay?'
She waits until you nod before opening the door.
James is on his bed, the sketchbook lying abandoned on the bedside table. He looks up as you all walk in, and his eyes zero in immediately to you.
'Hey,' he says in a scratchy voice. Your parents flinch with shock. He's never spoken in their presence before. Your mother looks at you expectantly, her face saying answer him.
'How you doin'?'
'Um...' This is strange. Really strange. He looks so different, but not at all in the way you expected. 'Fine. How 'bout you?'
'Good.' For the first time, he looks at your parents. You wonder what seems so off about him... you can't put your finger to it. 'Hi mom. Hi dad.'
They practically run to him, your mom crying and gushing over him, your dad looking about to fall apart himself. You stand by the side as he talks to them, their faces alight with wonder and happiness and hope, and you realize the change.
James is... smiling?
After the fire, you were given a folder of papers that survived. There weren't many of them, and most were useless, but you found one that you'd never seen before.
It was a page torn from a composition book, and it was a letter addressed to you. You still have it. It says:
March 21st, 2006
I know we havent ever been very close but theres no one else i would want to give this to. I dont really think of you as much of an older sibling but im sure you probably dont think of me as a younger sibling. Your just there i guess. Like a stranger or something. And i think id rather say this to a stranger than to someone i actually care much about.
Im not very happy with my life. I feel like shit all the time and i feel like im going insane. Its like everyone else is normal and im some freak looking in on them. I get these weird urges to hurt people, even kill them sometimes and i know thats wrong, but i dont FEEL like its wrong. And that really scares me.
So i figured it woud be better for everyone if i just died. I dont want to be a bad person, i dont want to snap someday and i know i will. So this is my suicide note and this is why i killed myself.
I dont love mom and dad, and i dont love you. I dont love anyone, and thats why i had to do this.
After you read it the first time, you felt sick. Not because your brother had obviously planned out his death and was close to going through with it, but because you wished, desperately, that he had killed himself.
And you'd wondered if the two of you were so different after all.
'Will you sit—'
'Oh my god! Are you alright?'
'Shit! Calm down! It's just me, Jenny!'
'Woah, stop it now! Shit, should I call 9-1-1?'
'Go, please, go away! Go!'
'Alright! Alright, I'm going, okay? Here I am, le-'
You feel yourself breaking, breaking, and you don't know how to fix yourself.
Your parents tell you that they're getting you a new counselor. You just shrug. It doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters anymore.
Nothing except you and the werewolf.
Oh god, it's watching you. It's watching watching watching.
More silver jewelry. Won't work. Maybe it isn't silver. No, your mother said it was silver.
Why won't it work?
Stake through the heart, Internet says. You don't have a stake. Will a knife work?
Yes, Internet confirms. A knife will work.
He keeps smiling. He's still smiling smiling smiling.
A true, genuine smile.
Maybe he's planning to kill you.
You don't think you'd really mind.
Your dreams keep being filled with fire. And it's burning burning burning.
Your house, destroyed with fire. Your life, destroyed with fire. Your brother, destroyed with fire.
You wish you could be destroyed with fire.
But that would hurt.
Another Saturday seems to be the day.
Three more days.
You see your new counselor. You don't talk to her. She doesn't seem to mind as much as the old one.
Two more days.
Howling howling howling.
Burning burning burning.
Smiling smiling smiling.
Dying dying dying.
Today is the day you will kill the werewolf.
Your parents leave for counseling with barely a goodbye, but you don't care. Like your brother, you don't really love them. You won't mind leaving them.
There's a number of knives to choose from, but this time you studied them all carefully and picked the one with the most silver in it. You make sure it's sharpened properly. You hide it in your jacket pocket.
Everything is ready.
It paces as you walk to the gate. It's taken to doing that now instead of just sitting and staring at you. You don't know which action you find scarier.
But you must swallow your fears now.
You try the gate, but it's locked. The fence isn't very high. You climb over it.
'Nice doggy,' you murmur, trying to keep your voice calm.
Its ears perk up. You try for a smile, remembering that it can smell your fear. But you find that you're really not that afraid. You're... eager.
Not exactly to get rid of the source of all your fear. More eager to... kill?
Oh, you should have tried this long before now.
You crouch down to its level, which is actually pretty tall. That's a big werewolf. Red Riding Hood wasn't exaggerating about big teeth.
Soon it will be over.
You reach out to pet it, calm it before you kill it.
And just before your hand touches its fur, the werewolf whips its head around and sinks those teeth into your arm.
Pain pain pain. Burning pain. OW.
'Ow! You damn wolf!'
Beneath the pain is panic, crimson, burning, painful panic. Because you know now that you'll turn into a werewolf.
He's betrayed you. That's what those smiles were about! He was trying to... what do they call it in movies... oh yeah, he was trying to lure you into a false sense of security!
Well, you won't give in. You still have that knife. You had planned to do it anyway, what better time than now?
So you take it out of your pocket and dig the blade into your wrists, your neck, your chest, everywhere. And the pain is unbearable, but so is living.
No one hears your screams as you bleed.
The werewolf watches on in silence, its mouth pulled back in what looks like a smile.
James looks around the small, quiet neighborhood. He can't help but think that it's no wonder someone would want to die here.
He looks over at the house opposite. The dog he's heard about isn't there.
His mom holds the door open for him as he steps through, giving her a small smile. He's on his way to sanity again. After the breakdown he had, he started to really recover, and now he can finally visit home.
He just wishes you were here to see him, but he knows you wouldn't want to anyway.
More than anything, he wishes he and you could have mended your relationship. But that's all in the past now.
He enters your room and looks at the note on the bed. The police have read it, his parents have read it, and now it's his turn.
He walks forward and picks it up.
February 19th, 2012
Most of what I have to say is the same thing you once said to me. So this won't be very long.
I know by the time anyone reads this, I will be dead. I plan on it. I just can't live anymore if every waking moment in my life is going to be taken up by my fear of everything.
And I know you aren't reading this, because I will have killed you. You're the werewolf, after all. But I wanted to address this to you anyway. It seemed only right.
Today is the day we both die. I'll take the liberty of telling the world goodbye for you.