THE STORY OF MISS MARY GRIFFIN

It was 9 o'clock in the morning and I waited around the lobby for somebody to arrive. I hoped Frank would be here but he hadn't appeared. Perhaps he was still in his room. Suddenly the maid appeared and I beamed at her.

'Do you know where Frank is?'

The maid smirked and winked at me. I blushed. 'He left this morning.'

I frowned and the maid patted my back. 'Don't worry, dearie. There are plenty more fish in the sea.'

I nodded blankly. 'It appeared we were both going to New Hampshire together. I would have liked some company.'

The maid smiled briefly and led me to the table where she handed me some salad. I glowered and scuffed it down quickly when Mr Van Kunis sat down at the table across from me.

'Hello, Mary. How are you this morning? Has Gretchen told you?'

'Gretchen?' I asked dumbly but then I realized he was talking about the maid. I nodded. 'Yes, she told me that Frank - er - Mr Krachelberg left this morning.'

Mr Kunis laughed. I noticed he looked a lot younger when he laughed. 'No, no. I mean to tell you that we won't be eating any meat today.'

'Oh?' I said. 'Why not?'

I looked at my empty salad bowl.

'I'm afraid we have none left.'

'What?!' I exclaimed. 'But I saw Gretchen carrying a large heft of ham in yesterday! Whatever happened to it?'

Gretchen picked up my salad bowl and took it into the kitchen, coming back with some bread.

'I'm afraid we ate it all last night.' Gretchen said.

'That's impossible.' I muttered. 'We hardly ate a whole ham.'

'The men eat a lot. And we do have to feed the horses.' she said.

'The horses eat hay.' I said.

Mr Kunis smiled at me fondly. 'We like to spoil them sometimes. I mean, would you like eating hay for the rest of your life?'

I caved. 'No.'

'Good. Now get out and get some sunshine like a good girl. You're getting a bit pale.'

I didn't like the way he said 'good girl' to me - but I went outside and looked at the barn to see what all the fuss was about last night with the horses. I looked in the barn and saw four perfectly content horses chewing on hay and waving their tails about like a whip. This looked perfectly normal; the only different thing was the barn door was blue instead of red like the rest of it. Did they replace the doors? I let these thoughts wash over me and decided there was something suspicious about it all. I could tell that the maid and the master were hiding something from everyone.

At 9 o'clock, after dinner, I tip toed down the stairs (to my dismay they creaked slightly so it took twice as long as it normally would have) and into the kitchen. White tiles furnished the room and I pulled draws out, careful not to make much noise with the cutlery when I heard a noise from behind me. In alarm, I spun around but I heard the mere scuttle of a mouse. Then I noticed the door.

What drew it to my attention was the fact that the door was made of solid steel metal. It was unlike the other doors in the Inn because they were oak and polished. I could tell something special was inside. I tried to pull it open but it was locked.

I was disappointed but then I remembered I was still in the middle of an investigation. I opened a case which I assumed where they kept all their vegetables and salad material but I was wrong. What I saw made my head spin.

Meat.

Lots and lots of meat cut up as if fresh from cutting up a cow. I looked away and gagged.

But then I saw the bottle in the maid's hand and the livid look upon her face. She lifted the bottle above her head and - CRASH!

When I came to consciousness the first thing I noticed was that I was on a stone floor and that it was freezing. I lifted my head and lights flashed before my eyes, head throbbing.

I appeared to be in some sort of dungeon though it was no bigger than the dining room. I looked at the oil lamp in the corner and frowned - it burned into my brain.

But then I saw Mr Van Kunis standing in the middle of the room. He was a mess.

He looked exhausted and for some reason he wore chains around his neck, arms and feet; bolted to the floor. I saw, Gretchen, the maid's legs and looked up through bars into her face. A sick grin was on her face.

'What's happening?' I groaned, for the pain in my skull still shattered my mind.

Gretchen pointed to something next to me. 'That.'

I looked over to something which made me sick.

It was Frank.

His eyes were hollow sockets (flies flew around), his body from the waist down was bone and bits of flesh hung to his bared rib cage. His head lolled at me, his face hacked and cut. The truth behind it all flooded into my head and I turned to face the wall as I retched the contents of my dinner.

I was coughing when I heard a laugh. Mr Van Kunis' laugh. I turned around, shaking.

His eyes were wide and he grit his teeth together. His entire body convulsed and his limbs became rigid. Then his entire body shook. His yell turned into a howl and I looked away in horror.

When I faced him again Mr Van Kunis was gone. In his place was a gigantic wolf with a broad muscular back. It shook its body out and bared its teeth.

'We can't have suspicious people like you around.' Gretchen said. 'Like Frank.'

I dared not stare at his mangled corpse. My eyes were wide at the face of my doom.

'He doesn't have insomnia...' I croaked, backing into the wall.

Gretchen chortled. 'Oh no. No, he does. During a full moon, that is. And I take care of him, like a good wife. The night before last was a problem because he broke out of here when I fell asleep. He got to the horses and ate them all. He gets really hungry during a full moon and he needs his food - he needs his energy or this Inn wouldn't be able to function.'

'Why don't you just give him the meat? Not me!' my voice cracked into a sob and Gretchen sighed exasperatingly.

'We can't take the chance - you'll tell everybody and we'll be out of business. Failure is not in my book.'

I was shocked into silence by a bark and growl from Mr Kunis... the wolf. The werewolf.

The creaking of metal sounded as the cage was opened and I was pulled forward by the maid. I stared into the eyes of the werewolf who sniffed me. Its breath was hot and smelly.

Then I bolted towards the door. Attempting to wrench it open, I realized that there were locks on the door. As soon as I sprinted away, however, I felt a tug on my leg as teeth dug deep into my thigh. I screamed and cried. I tried to pretend I wasn't hearing Gretchen laughing, or the wolf crunching away, the excruciating pain my legs, my waist, all over, as I was torn to pieces.

Then silence came.

The wolf was satisfied.