The Beast Within

"My name is Hank. Hank Paulson. I am a werewolf.

"There are those out there, murderers, who claim that something inside them, some metaphorical blood-thirsty beast, made them kill. But me, I got the real thing. There's a monster in me, grunting and growling and pacing in its cage of humanity until it's granted an escape for three nights every twenty-eight days, give or take. There ain't nothing inside me that makes me kill; there's something inside me that kills, period. Ain't me runnin' around those nights any more'n it's Santa Claus. It's like a parasite and I'm its host. Only this parasite gets to take the wheel when the moon is full and high in the sky.

"I can't hardly remember how many the beast has killed over the years. I stopped keepin' track a long time ago. A man can only remove hisself from circumstances so far before goin' crazy at the end of it all. Now I just don't think on it. Or at least I try not to. I never remember none of the wolf stuff, and I count that as a blessing. As long as I keep away from newspapers and televisions and I keep on the move, I ain't got no way of knowin' if it killed anybody. Knowin' for sure how many it killed before is enough for this lifetime and a couple more for good measure. I know I'm like that ostrich stickin' its head in the sand, but sometimes, the only way to cope is by pretending it ain't happenin' and by not lookin' for proof otherwise.

"You may wonder why I never just killed myself if I'm such a dangerous individual. Part of that is straight up yellow-bellied cowardice. I'm as afraid of death as the next sane man, even more so given my right impressive tally of sin. I may not be in control, but as far as the Big Man's concerned, I'm accountable for what the beast done. I ain't in no hurry to meet my divine maker and face them crimes that which I ain't got no connection to save unfortunate living arrangements. I got what amounts to a poor roommate stickin' me with all'a his own problems.

"Other reason I ain't offed myself is plain old selfishness. For three nights a month, I play host to a monster. But t'other twenty-eight I'm just a normal person like anyone else. I don't wanna die just because once a month I turn unpleasant to be around. Logic like that'd demand that every healthy fertile woman go kill herself, too. It ain't right and it ain't fair. I never asked to be this way. This was given to me sight unseen with no refunds. I don't deserve to die, no matter what that thing does in its free time. I ain't never killed so much as a squirrel. How's about you step into my shoes a while an' see if'n your opinion don't change a bit.

"As you might imagine, someone in my condition don't keep many friends around. There's just too much chance of somethin' goin' wrong. And it's awful hard to explain why you're unavailable every month like clockwork. The excuses wear a might thin and folk start askin' questions you ain't got no rational answer for. It's a heap safer and simpler just to stay away from folk liable to become friendly. I get powerful lonely at times, but it passes. You get used to it mostly. Of course there are other…urges. Can't have no relationships but you don't need a relationship to have relations. Pay-girls ain't ideal but they get the job done.

"My life ain't glamorous. I move around a lot, never put down roots too deep. I take work when and where I can, usually doin' odd jobs here 'n' there. I'm a real Picasso with a lawnmower and a weed-whacker. I'm actually a mechanic by trade; use'ta run my own shop 'fore I got the curse. It wasn't much, but it was a livin' an' I was happy.

"Every once in a while, usually when I been drinkin' a while, I sit in front of a mirror an' I just stare at the scar on my chest where it got me. It's a nasty one, too; couple inches long from my right shoulder down to the nipple, all jagged like and raised up. I drink an' I just stare at it, hating it, cussin' it. It's the only bit of the monster I ever get to see, so all my bad feelings go right into that scar. I don't even know what I look like when I turn. The one that got me knocked me down from behind. I got no memory of the whole month. I guess I musta been patched up in a hospital 'cause my wounds had been stitched an' tended to, but by the time I could recollect anything, they'd already half healed. Way I figure it, I lost everything for the whole month 'fore my first change. Ain't never had too many close friends or kin anyhow, so nobody could tell me what I'd been up to that month. I had money in the bank so I assume I worked. Aside from that, I got no idea.

"It wasn't 'til my second change that I pieced together what I'd become. I woke up stark nekkid in some woodsy area spoonin' with the remains of a ten-point buck. Biggest goddamn deer I ever seen and he was all tore up. His throat was ripped out and his belly tore into. I was covered in blood that weren't my own and my mouth was chock full of little bristly hairs, like a deer's got. The damage weren't nothin' a man could do. And I had no memory of the killin'. As crazy as it was, there really weren't no other thing it coulda been.

"For the first couple'a months I was in denial. I knew what I was but I had it in my thick head that I could fight it, like if I just didn't want it bad enough I could keep from changin'. I guess on some level I just didn't want to accept what I was, so I didn't. I know it killed some people then, killed 'em an' et them right up. I'd wake up like I did with that buck, all bloody and nekkid. I never saw none of the bodies, but sometimes I still had little bits off of their person with me, scraps of their clothes or a necklace or something. And the news was always blarin' about killing looked to be animal attacks. After the body count hit six, I left, started rovin' around.

"I stayed mostly in the South, where there's lots'a forests and swamps an' such. Not too many people in those more rural parts and them that do go missing get chalked up to bears an' gators.

"But I always had a itch to travel an' now I had the excuse. As sweet as my setup in the southern states was, I just hadta move on after a couple'a years. Somethin', maybe it, was compellin' me to keep on the move, find fresh grounds. So I did. That's how I ended up in Yankee territory.

"Now, I ain't got no grudges 'gainst the North. Hell, them Johnny Rebs was a buncha racist hicks with guns so far as I'm concerned. I was just always brought up 'round folk who refer to them that live up north as 'Yanks' and I guess it stuck.

"Anyways, as I said, I found my way up north, 'round about Pennsylvania and New York. Eventually came here to ole Massachusetts. Lots'a pretty woods an' old houses an' things here. Plenty of room to stay away. Well, so I thought. See, t'other night were the first night of the change. I was in some woods 'round a real nice town, pretty buildings all Colonial-like, and I guess there was some couple campin' out. I did my thing and I changed but too close to 'em. I'm told I killed the girl, sweet young thing, just nineteen, they says. The boyfriend, well he got away while it was tearin' her to bits.

"When I come to next morning—that is to say this morning—I found myself in handcuffs, locked in some tiny little jail cell. I guess I had this comin' a long while. Weren't doin' nothing but prolongin' the inevitable, might say, with all that rovin' around. But I had a good long go, saw lots of things I never woulda seen otherwise. And I suppose I understand why they gotta lock me up. Ain't fair, an' you won't hear me arguin' counterwise, but I understand it. Weren't for me and the beast'd have no way out and never woulda killed all them people. I suppose if I was on t'other side of things, I'd lock me up, too."

"So what do you think, Doc? Total loony tunes or what?"

Doctor Robert Morris stopped the tape recorder and handed the paper file back to Detective Crenshaw. "This is genuine?" he asked, raising his snow-white eyebrows in amazement. "This man believes everything in this statement?"

Crenshaw nodded. "Every word of it, according to the polygraph," the detective said in his thick Boston accent.

"What was his reaction when you confronted him with evidence to the contrary?" the doctor inquired.

The detective sipped at his coffee, long since gone cold. "Wouldn't hear a word of it," Crenshaw replied. "He swears up an' down that he's a goddamn werewolf, pardon my French."

"Clearly he has constructed a vivid fantasy world in his mind," Dr. Morris surmised. "Sometimes a killer must disassociate himself from the act," he explained. "In claiming to be cursed with werewolfism, he had given himself a clear conscience. 'I didn't do it, the monster inside me did.' The human brain is capable of remarkable things, Detective."

The seasoned cop just shrugged. "If you say so, Doc."

"Were you able to determine the point of origin of this mythology he's created for himself?" Morris inquired.

"Lemme see," Crenshaw said as he rifled through the pile of papers on his desk. "Yes, here we go." He handed another file to Morris. "Pulled up his medical records. Six years ago, he was in a bad car accident one night. Went through the windshield and cut his chest up real bad. He also suffered some minor head trauma, kept him in the hospital about three weeks. This was a month before the first of the victims was found. Lines up pretty good with his story."

"Head trauma," the doctor repeated quietly as he scanned the pages of medical information. "It isn't unheard of for victims of such trauma to undergo personality changes, some times radically so. Though I've never heard of them becoming cannibalistic serial killers. But there's a first time for everything, I suppose."

"Yeah, sure, Doc," Crenshaw said. "So this makes him yours, right?"

Morris nodded. "Yes, I believe it does. I'll have the facility send over an ambulance to pick him up within the hour."

"One more wacko in the Arkham Nuthouse, eh Doc?" Crenshaw laughed. "Better watch out for this one."

Morris sighed, growing tired of the detective's wholly insensitive and inappropriate commentary. "And why is that, Detective Crenshaw?" he asked tersely.

Crenshaw grinned, either ignoring or ignorant of the doctor's agitation. "'Cause it's a full moon tonight."