Reginald Crawley, a typical ten stone weakling. Small, mousy brown hair, glasses which balanced precariously on a thin nose, every bit the stereotype. The few people who knew him thought he was kind, considerate and above all, the quietest person they'd ever met. His grades weren't the most stunning in his class, although he always seemed to have his nose buried in a book. He cycled, and did a little hiking at the weekends when he wasn't studying. He was a loner, not one of the pack, not social. That's probably why he never seemed to get involved in a relationship. He was always looking in from the outside. Occasionally wondering what it would be like to live with someone, rather than shelves upon shelves of books. Then he would shake himself, and return to the fantasy worlds he adored so much.
Library time was precious to Reggie. It let him be with people, without actually having to talk to them. It satisfied his human need to be with other people. Far be it for him to try and junk forty thousand years of evolution. It was in the Library that Susan caught his eye. Love at first sight wasn't high on Reggie's belief scale. Sure he'd read about it, but to actually see it in action was something that happened to other people. There she was though, standing next to the history shelves with a thick tome of Egyptian history in her hands. Not particularly beautiful by many people's standards, yet she still managed to stand out from the crowd. There was a particular womaness about her, like an aura that filled the area. He watched her cross to the librarian and check the volume out on her card. She left the room without the slightest hint that she'd seen him. The doors to the library swung quietly shut, and he watched her disappear through the frosted glass.
That night Reggie suddenly felt very lonely. It wasn't homesickness, it was some indefinable ache buried deep within him. He picked up a dog-eared comic off the bed and looked at its lack-lustre cover. It didn't mean anything to him. It couldn't fill the widening gap in his heart. He dropped it into the bin; over the top of the half eaten meal he'd had that evening. Laying in his bed he looked out at the stars in the cold winter night and wished he could be out there. Rather than stuck, miserable, in this place. He turned over and went to sleep, dreams pervaded by endless running. An unknown horror that wanted him and the one person who now meant the most to him, Susan. He moaned quietly, as his dreams screamed with Susan's voice. Running, running…
The following days were greyed out like an old movie from the thirties. Bland food, colourless skies, starless nights. Days filled with college work that meant little, and had less substance than a puff of smoke in the breeze. Sadness pervaded everything like a bad smell. His clothes, his hair, his room, everything. He found himself staring into space, mind blank, for hours or more. Ghosts of memories drifted through his grey world, leaving their coolness behind and draining the remaining colour with their passing. The true blow came that Friday. He'd seen Susan with someone else! Someone from a football team, big, burly and probably had a brain size that would make most dinosaurs laugh. This person was the epitome of Cro-Magnon man, and he held Susan like a glittering jewel sparkling in the sunlight. Reggie expected there to be anger, rage, jealousy, but there was nothing. Only despair. That night he actually cried for the first time since his mother had died, two years previous. He tried desperately to hold them in, to stop, but they kept coming and coming until finally he fell asleep. His face cold, against the tear soaked pillow.
Fate conspired to rub salt into the wounds it had already inflicted. Suddenly he began to see her everywhere. In the library, the canteen, walking past in a corridor. He was beyond pain now. He was filled with a numbing blindness. He cut his hand on an open tin that evening, and looked at the blood with curiosity, as if he'd never seen it before. He couldn't feel it there, the cut. It was as if it didn't exist. The following morning he decided to put a plaster on it, but it was gone, disappeared without a trace. It felt like reality was beginning to fracture around him, crazed with sights, sounds and smells. It still did nothing to deaden the wrenching within his soul.
Susan walked into the library. It was a late Wednesday evening, a crisp frost was beginning to settle on the sidewalk outside. Reggie was sitting next to the entrance, quietly reading a book. At first he didn't notice she had entered the room, until he heard her voice talking to the librarian. He looked up, across the empty library and watched the fluorescent light, glimmer off her hair. Slowly he put the book down and watched her as she walked over. Across her left cheek a livid bruise stood out, partially obscured by her long hair. She sat down in front of him. Her blue eyes were tinged with red, as if she'd been crying. "Can I talk to you?" She whispered. The endless shelves of books conspired to deaden the noise somewhat. He nodded, afraid to say anything. His eyes returning to the bruise of their own volition, stabbing him with every glance. "Carol said that you were a good listener. That I could trust you." Reggie leaned forward and gently brushed the hair away from the bruise. It was blue and red at the centre, gradually changing colours to yellow and brown at the edges. She flinched. "How did this happen?" He asked. They were practically total strangers, and here she was giving him her absolute trust. He felt emotion welling up inside him, but he forced it down harshly. "I had a fight with Graham. He's… He's my boyfriend." Her eyes grew redder as she held back the tears. "Why are you speaking to me?" She looked down at the table, watching it intently as if it was going to do something. Her dark hair fell back across her face. "I just needed someone to tell. Someone I could say the truth to." She reached out her hand to meet his. "I need a friend I can trust with the truth. I don't know you, and somehow that makes it easier to say. Carol said I could trust you. She said you were the gentlest person she knows." A tear splashed blue onto the desk, where it met a patch of drying ink. He smiled. "That's a compliment. Even to a geek like me!" He reached out and lifted her chin. "A smile is worth a thousand words." She smiled, and wiped away the streak down her cheek. "Has he done this before?" Inside, the rage was beginning to burn. Reggie couldn't believe that this Neanderthal could strike a girl, let alone her. Was this the way he expressed his love? By hitting someone in the face, and leaving behind this mark? Susan nodded slowly, her shoulders slumped under the weight of lies she had built to protect her boyfriend. Over at the main desk, the librarian made a show of preparing to leave. Reggie put a hand on her shoulder. "I think I should walk you home." She nodded again, and stood up. He quickly put his book into the small backpack he carried around, and slung it over his shoulder. "Come on."
Susan's flat was, Reginald looked for the word to describe it, flowery. There was a lot of pink, whites and yellows. The colours were bright and vibrant, and yet there was a sombre feel. Oppressive atmosphere clung to the living room like tobacco smoke. The small coffee table had been repaired recently, showing signs of someone falling against it. The carpet was heavily brushed, with small patches of clean showing up against the more ingrained dirt that comes from years of use. This had obviously been going on for a lot time. Susan bustled into the kitchen, her eyes showing the strain of holding back the tears. "Coffee? Would you like some coffee?" She shouted from the kitchen. Reggie padded to the kitchen, his footfalls muted by the plush carpet. "Just some water thank you. I, I don't usually drink coffee." Susan jumped at the sound of his voice, and dropped the coffee jar. The thick glass landed on its edge and shattered, spilling the brown granules across the kitchen floor. She looked at the mess in horror, her delicate hands covering her mouth. "Oh my God!" She squeeked. "Graham will go mad!" She got down on her hands and started to scoop up the coffee, pouring it into the swing bin next to her. Reggie looked around, and picked up the dustpan and brush. "Here, let me help." He started brushing the dark brown granules into the dustpan. It was soon tidied up, but when he looked at Susan she was shaking violently. "He's going to kill me." She whispered, staring at the floor. She looked up. "He always has coffee when he comes round. He expects it!" She looked up at the clock. "The local shop is closed!" Bursting into tears, she hugged herself, rocking backwards and forwards on the floor. Reggie wasn't quite sure what to do. He'd never had to console anyone before. Tentatively he reached out, making soothing noises. She wrapped her arms around him and sobbed into his shoulder. That was how Graham found them on the kitchen floor. Susan crying inconsolably in the arms of a strange boy.
Graham never meant to hurt Susan. It was just that she wound him up so much, that he lost control. Anger would rage through him like an electric current, and the only way to make it go away was to hit things. Sometimes she'd get in the way, but that was her own stupid fault. She knew he had a bit of a temper, and yet she managed to invent something new to make him furious every day. As he unlocked the door to her apartment he heard crying. Oh God, what was it now! Then, what was that? Someone else was here! He quietly closed the door, and listened. The noise was coming from the kitchen. He could feel his chest tightening and his heart began to race, as the fury began to grow in the pit of his stomach. He went to the kitchen and stood in the doorway. On the floor Susan was in the arms of another man! His head started to bubble as the his veins surged along arteries and veins. The muscle in his temple began to twitch uncontrollably, as he watched the pair hugging each other on the floor. Bitch. The word started to repeat itself in his head. Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!
Reggie looked up at a sound from the doorway. He'd always had sensitive hearing, and had heard the door being closed quietly. He looked up into the red face of Graham. His six foot, muscle bound frame filled the doorway. "Oh, shit." He whispered. "Hmm? What?" Susan pulled away and frowned at him. "Bitch!" shouted Graham. He stepped forward and pulled Susan up by the hair. Screaming, she beat at his arm but to no avail. Graham was beyond being reasoned with. There was nothing human here to talk to, just a monster masquerading as a human being. He didn't slap her this time, he punched her in the face. The shock of feeling her cheek bone crack, along with the orbit of her left eye stopped her scream in its tracks. Pain. She no longer had a face, just pain where it used to be. Red flooded her left eye, painting Graham's face with glistening blood. She was looking at the face of a demon. Sanity closed down all the hatches, and hid in the depths of her mind. Not wanting to acknowledge that the person she had loved had finally turned into this, this thing in front of her. Thankfully, consciousness was next as her brain shut down, fighting the massive influx of pain. She dropped to the floor, her head and face were bleeding profusely. She lay crumpled on the floor like a discarded rag doll that had been left in the road by a child. Reggie couldn't believe it. He looked at the prone body at his feet, his eyes wide. Then he saw movement from the corner of his eye, and ducked as Graham's huge fist whooshed through the air where his head had been. He leapt back, as the lumbering behemoth in front of him stepped over Susan's body. Reggie tried to say something, but the words died in his mouth as he came to the same conclusion as Susan. There wasn't anything there to talk to. He was just a moving body, nothing more than a rampaging animal on two legs instead of four. The fist slashed the air again, as Reggie dodged and managed to get past Graham. Graham span faster than Reggie had expected. Stumbling he managed to scramble into the living room unable to make it in time to the front door. Graham closed in behind him and pushed him into the room. Being as light as he was, Reggie was lifted off the ground and crashed into the coffee table smashing it. Graham moved in and kicked him in the side, lifting him off the floor and spinning him. Reggie's world now consisted of spinning lights and tingling. No pain. He suddenly began to feel so serene. Graham was on his back now, punching him from behind. So quiet, was he nearing death? Had Graham paralysed him? The tingling increased, almost pleasurable. He felt his skin begin to stretch as the bones and muscle underneath began to grow. It itched as thick fur began to push through. Graham had stopped now, and was backing away from Reggie. The transformation continued as he turned and looked with baleful yellow eyes at Graham. The monster had left, and in its place stunned horror painted itself over the man's face. Reggie smiled, and felt his lips stretch as his mouth and nose extended into a long muzzle.
Slowly, like something out of a bad horror movie, Reggie stood up. He had to stoop now, as the room was not tall enough to accommodate his new height. He looked down at Graham. The rank smell of fear made him wrinkle his nostrils. Showing his new inch and a half canines in all their terrifying glory. The fronts of Graham's pants were a different colour where he'd wet himself. The smell of emptied bowels also filled the room. Reggie growled and reached forward. He picked Graham up by the arm and threw him against the wall, relishing the feel of the snap as his shoulder dislocated. Graham fell to the floor, moaning. Plaster fell around him and dusted the air in the room. He turned over, and looked into the snarling features of the eight-foot werewolf that was going to kill him now.
Susan slowly woke. Her head and face throbbed, and she couldn't open her left eye. She was laying on something soft, it felt like her bed. How had she got here? Something wet nuzzled her hand, and she heard a whine. She prized her right eye open, it was encrusted with blood from the other side of her face. There was a dog there. Where had that come from? It was whining, and nuzzling her hand. She tried to smile, but it hurt too much. So instead she reached out and ruffled the fur behind its ears. "I'm OK." She whispered. As she began to lose consciousness once more, she could have sworn the dog got up on two feet and walked towards the door; but it was too dark to see. Blackness folded over her like a dream and whisked her away. "Thank you Reggie." She whispered.
Reggie looked back at the sleeping form of Susan on the bed. He got down on his knees and howled, as the he carried on changing. His hands becoming paws, the short brush of a tail lengthening.
The neighbours had called the police. When they smashed down the door they found a huge dog, howling for all its worth. The smell of butchered meat pervaded the flat like an abattoir first thing in the morning. They found a Susan, badly beaten, on the bed, asleep. As they moved into the living room, the dog bolted out of the smashed front door and disappeared. The forensics team fitted the remains of Graham into numerous small plastic bags. Individually tagged and numbered. There was no use in trying to clean the room, as the body was splashed all over it like paint thrown against a wall. The only explanation was that the dog had gone mad after the girl had been beaten and torn the man to pieces. The only problem with that was that she swore she never owned a dog and her neighbours corroborated her story. No, she'd never had any pets, said the neighbours, just that monster she called a boyfriend.