Lunar Moon

A wise man once said, "One often meets his destiny in his effort to avoid it." The hard he tries to prevent what is set in stone to come, the sooner her will bring about its coming. For Ben Aussman, it is spending the better part of his last 30 years of living trying to fight off the beast that might wind up with him forever being consumed by it.

But...one day...in the furthest recesses of his heart...he hopes to find a cure. One that will let him live a normal life with his girlfriend Amelia. Is there a cure? Can he give Amelia the life she deserves and the one he craves? Or is he doomed to be alone...forever at the mercy of the moon?

Chapter 1

The Chains Come Loose

Brown steel toe boots stepped out of black Ford F-150. The dust the wheels kicked up wasted no time caking to the blue jeans. The young man grunted like an old man, bracing himself to the truck to let a crippling pain radiating throughout his body dull down. "Maybe...shoulda...put this off till tomorrow…" The young Aussie man rubbed his sore neck. He winced barely touching a bruise that's set right there. His ocean blue eyes narrowed in dread of the scratches and bruises running up his arms. Some healed, some fresh, some reopened. He groaned lifting his shirt. Bruises, cuts, old and new. "Glad I wasn't offered extra to work shirtless. Though...with how pretty the client sounded..." He chuckled mischievously. The spring air wasn't going to be too hot anyway. He'll be able to work in the t-shirt alright. Though to be on the safe side of not being asked questions, he quickly tossed on his light grey sweater.

He yawned pretty loudly. Not in drowsiness but more of he wasn't expecting the spring afternoon to be so invigorating. So the yanw was more of him cleaving off the bout of laziness that would be perfect for enjoying such a sunny day. Yet here he is about to work. Great. "Let's see here…" He pulled a little black book from his glove compartment. Parting it about 10 or so pages in, he rifled through the names of past and current client, and projects he's completed, was in the middle of, and needed to make regular check ups on. He scrolled to his latest entry.

Name: Amelia Hanson

Address of Project: 4484 Adams Street

Ravenside, Australia

Time of

Inspection: 1:45pm May 15th, 2017

Time End of

Inspection:

Construction Began:

Construction Ended:

The book was up to date. He would just need to get her signatures for legal purposes, and show her some scary papers that he will need signed to show she gives consent for him to begin his work should he choose to undertake the project.

"The Old Adams Street house. Aint you a beautiful pile of shit." He taunted the old place. It's pretty notorious throughout Ravenside. As its not too big or too small a town, word and social media gossip travels faster than sound. To think someone just moved in here...to actually live here...they must be off their rockers. "Welp, staring at you won't get anything done. Let's get started. Might even convince the lady to pack up and find better housing."

His boots crunched on the gravel laden driveway to the house that has definitely seen better days. The midday light does it no flattering favors beaming down on it. "Yeesh…" The man cringed, gripping at his duffle bag for emotional support of this horror show. He ran a hand to his smoothed shade of beard and mustache, mulling over intensely where he was going to start with this one. Or how it was even able to still stand. All it would take is a strong breeze and the place would topple over. Good thing the wolves live far off.

Too bad the client on the phone was adamant about fixing up this condemned place. "Hope the young miss knows what she's getting into." In more ways than one. Who knows. Maybe it isn't as bad inside as it is outside.

The one saving grace of this plot of land was the scenery surrounding it. Really raised the property value. Surrounded by tall pines with grass that is green for as long as the seasons will allow it. Just behind the house, past the yard, was a nice view of a small valley and creak. Not a bad hike.

He arrived to the front porch. He almost leapt out of his skin from the creaks and cracks of the steps. Maybe he should start with the porch so the lady of the house doesn't die trying to get her mail. "GYAHH! Holy shit! Spider!" Pretty big one over the porch seat. A man eater by the looks of it! "Shit, probably dessicated the poor lady!" He cleared his throat, minding that huge spider above the porch seat. He ran a hand through his disheveled dark brown hair, making himself bit more presentable, following with a good afternoon stretch to take in the full day he's about to tackle. "GAH!" He slammed himself hard to the seat. A painful crack reverberated from his lower back to his ribs. He clutched his hands at his sides, growling animally in hard breaths to dull the pain. "Dammit! Guess a bone forgot set itself back in place." He massaged where it popped. That didn't tickle at all. "Grr...ah...and...TWIST!" He roughly jerked himself to one way. A series of pops not unlike shotgun shots rippled through his body. He bit back the urge to cry out, not wanting to scare any neighbors. Or the person he's doing the work for.

A few deep breaths later he was feeling right as rain. He clapped, shifted his shoulders, and psyched himself up. "Alrightie, Ben, head in the game! You've got a woman to make happy!" He realized when he started walking how he just teased himself. He snickered lightheartedly. "Ha. Yeah right. Even women out of their mind wouldn't stay with my ass...not if they learned about my nightly activities…" He trailed off somberly, feeling his heart chip a little. He needs to work on his comedy routine before mocking himself.

Ben, so he calls himself, cleared his throat again and put on his charming face. He knocked on the door a handful of times. He caught rumblings of movement heading towards the door. He braced himself for the crazy cat woman that would be answering the door any second. The door creaked open bone chillingly loud, and his jaw hit the deck like an anvil on a Looney Toon! "Hello. May I help you?" A hazel eyed beauty welcomed him with an angelic smile. Long brown curls fashioned in a side ponytail.

"Hey, g'day! I'm Ben! You wanted me to take a quick peek around the place." He inwardly patted himself on the back that he hadn't tripped over his tongue. He just might with the way her tanned skin glowed in the afternoon sun.

"Oh yes! Duh me! I'm Amelia Hanson! Please come in!" She stepped to the side, sweeping a hand to welcome him. Ben nodded his head in thanks as he entered. He idled a few feet in the living room waiting for further permission to proceed. "Just a second! I need to turn off the tv!"

"No worries." Ben waved. She motioned her hands for him not to move and she took off in a brisk walk.

The moment she was heading up the stairs was when his eyes drank in her full form. 'Holy Hell is she beautiful!' Her cute little bare feet she willed to not slap on the wood flooring. Wearing a skirt with different shades of blue let him admire the muscles in those beautiful legs. He sharply turned away when she tripped on the last step, pretending not to notice...anything...with stripes. Biting into his lower lip stopped a small moan in its tracks from sounding how he loved the form fitting green shirt. That V-Neck with a silver ring at the chest had his mind wandering. 'She's really beautiful! Kinda klutzy too.'

Ben's had sweet or strong sounding people on the phone many times. Feels like a bait and switch when he actually meets the person. He expected as much when he learned that someone wanted the old Adams Street house. To have someone rivaling the looks of an angel greet him. He's likely to pass out. "God, I know we don't can't much," At all really, "But if you're hearin' me, please don't let me say ANYTHING stupid!"

"I'm so sorry to call you out here on such short notice." Amelia called from the stairs.

"Not a problem at all, Mate." He assured her. He smirked slightly when she came back down with a black sweater on. 'A woman of modesty. I like it.' Has to admit. A loose number like that was nice on her too. "If I'm perfectly honest, I've wanted to tackle this house since the last owners got out of dodge." That was less than five months ago.

"What were they like?" She asked with a title of her head. From the state the house was in when she bought it, its a wonder she didn't call the cops.

Ben hummed pensively on how best to put this. "If squatters and ravers ever had children…"

"Gotcha." Amelia raised a hand, begging him to say no more. She gagged a little bit. The pair shared a small laugh, easing what little tension was between them. Pretty relaxing, actually.

Ben noticed the little bit of pink in her cheeks when she smiled. She seems too innocent for a run down place like this. He noticed something else about her too. "Your accent...you're not from around here, are you? U.S?"

She was taken aback by his observation. Then again, at hello, an American would stand out in the Outback like a cat between dingos. "California...yeah…" Her blush went ready with anxiety. "That obvious, huh."

"The accent was a dead give away." Ben tickled a finger at his throat.

"I don't have an accent." She countered with a furrowed brow.

"Sure you do. It's kinda cute." Amelia squeaked and her whole face went red. Ben clamped a hand over his mouth. He screamed every colorful word at himself. 'See that? That's what I meant by stupid!' God's abandoned him. He needs to recover! First impressions! Gotta maintain it! "Oh geez!" He exclaimed with a palm to his forehead. "Where are my manners? Calling a lady cute without a proper introduction! Me mum would paddle my backside if she saw this pathetic display." Ben took a couple of steps away. He cleared his throat, twirled a hand in the air, and he bowed at the hip with the other hand behind his back. "Madam, I hope you are having a splendid afternoon. I am Benjamin Aussman. Handyman extraordinaire!" He was going to brave the waters. He took her hand in his, lightly pressing his lips to the top. "My friends call me Ben…"

There was an uneasy silence. Amelia stared at him so blankly Ben thought her brain melted. 'Maybe this is where I should leave and recommend someone else.' He forgot Americans don't typically greet each other like this...at all...ever. But just as he was about to make a break for the door...Amelia...started laughing. Really hard. She was clutching her stomach. She wiped a little tear away. Ben was very confused. 'Did I make her lose her mind?' Admittedly her laugh is pretty cute.

"Oh God! I'm sorry! I don't mean to laugh!" She hooted, fighting to catch her breath. She took in several deep breaths, gradually calming down from the fit. "Really. I'm sorry! It's just...things are so different here. And the people around here aren't very welcoming to...well...me." She gestured to herself. She said, without saying, that the neighbors aren't exactly nice to the girl with no Aussie accent. Ben bobbed his head, catching the gist. She wasn't offended. She was relieved. 'Nice. I've just brought her some peace of mind!' He pat himself on the back. "Anyways...it's a pleasure, Mr. Benjamin." She gave him a cute curtsy. "I'm Amelia Hanson. My friends call me...just Amelia." She doesn't get a nickname.

"Well, Ms. Just Amelia," He winked, "The pleasure is all mine. Welcome to Ravenside."

(*)

Three Months Later

Thunder roared across the ebony sky, quaking all of the rain drenched Ravenside beneath it. Dogs, wolves, and even some cats retaliated against the noise with their own snarls, daring it to come closer. Some hid away under sofas or tables, waiting out the terrifying noise. A shower so heavy the mountains themselves were crumbling under its assault flooded the town in ankle deep water that the roads and drains struggled virulently to drain off. While rooftops were fitted to receive this much rain, some owners draped tarp to help with the runoff. Spare tarp was put to cars, gardens, pet homes, and the like. And since a few of these homes were on steep hills, it wasn't uncommon to find people outside in this raining Hell setting up brick and tone at the supports to prevent a slide from taking them down. The howling winds sending cows aloft, never to be seen again, resounded like the moans of the departed, making everything from pavement to tree bark peel away. Signs were up rooted and flown like javelins. A baseball bat actually pierced a street sign. Off and on tiny pebbles of hail started pelting the windows. A good number of people after the first couple of nights boarded up their windows. This storm hasn't let up an inch in the past three days. And if the weather people are correct - hopefully not - the rain will last another couple of days. Contrary to popular belief, not everywhere in Australia is an Ozone Death trap. It does rain in certain areas. Sometimes forever. Or so it feels.

True to form there were morons out with canoes riding the floods downstream. Or hill, as the case may be. Hope the likes they get are worth the hospital bills. Insurance doesn't cover for stupidity. Less stupid than the kids swimming in the large puddles or just jumping around and spalshing themselves. Animals in deep burrows were drowning trying to escape the flash floods. Not even the tall pines were safe, as the soil was losing its stability and sending the trees toppling like dominoes at a frat party. Flash flood warning were redundant at this point. However, the mudslides taking place have already claimed a handful of homes, closed down roads, and some people who were out walking...the results varied.

Far out in the thick of the forest, five miles or more away from town, there was a two story cabin standing alone against this horrendous storm. Being surrounded by tall trees and thick bushes minimized the effects of the wind. But the rain would gather in the canopies and spill like roaring waterfalls on and around it. The roof and walls were fortified almost like a military bunker. Able to withstand Mother Nature's hissy fits. Though it was debatable it could withstand a tree falling on it. God forbid. The windows and doors were shut tight. Thick wooden planks were nailed to the windows so that not even a dust mite could get through. Let alone the flashes of lightning.

For the briefest of instances the dark, murky clouds, so thick it was impossible to make out if the sky was even still there, actually broke apart. A full moon glowing in all its splendor cast its light upon that lonely cabin. From within the fortress an agonized howl echoed, followed by a scream of the poor, wretched soul trapped within. When the moon was snared by the clouds once more, violent crashes and booms erupted from the cabin. Someone or something was tearing the place apart...and they were in a pain so cruel they wouldn't wish it on their worst enemies.

(*)

The claw marks of a beast that is more than likely from Hell itself ravaged the walls of the living room. Wood with the durability of steel sliced into like wet paper. A couch and chairs were torn completely to ribbons. Their springs and stuffing exposed and riddled everywhere like a crime scene from a thriller novel. The place rugs were shredded to nothing. A coffee table, stands, the dining room table, lamps - anything that wasn't bolted down was shattered, reduced to splinters, mangled into shapes no human could do. Pictures of a handsome young man and his beautiful girlfriend were tossed about...but relatively unscathed. Cracked, sure, but nonetheless recoverable. Further in, heading into the kitchen, the claw mark continued. Gripped to the edges of the arch from where the beast tired to brace itself, maybe even stop, only for its true nature to spark and set it loose. Cans of food, left overs, some sort of chicken and beef were mangled, devoured by the ravenous monster. Within the stark darkness it could not be seen, but surely when the storm dies the animals of the forest will detect it. Large stains of blood smeared everywhere. More than what any human would be able to spare. Whoever was trapped in this home when this beast entered...they won't survive.

Despondent moans of the soul trapped in that house with the demon waled from the partially opened door of the basement. The blood and claw marks traveled the walls and railing, smudged to the stairs which were broken every step or so. Closer to the bottom, with the cries growing louder and more heartbreaking, it was evident that a body had fallen ad smashed to the wall, before toppling down the last few steps. From there the steps and claws were replaced by a long smeer from someone dragging their half dead body to a corner. The jangling of iron chains mingled with the moans...heavy breathing of relief rumbled. Messied patches of animal fur were caked by old splotches of blood in that corner. Some patches with remnants of skin still attached. There should have been a grotesque monster at the end of the rattling chains. The source of this destruction, the blood laden chaos staining this once lovely home, should have been a creature so abominable that just gazing upon it would send someone to the after life. Instead, what coward in the corner, wrapping himself with this chains drenched and rusted by aged blood...was a man. A man named...Benjamin Aussman. At the end of the claws, the blood, and the roaring...it was nothing but a man...writhing in an agony he's come to expect.

Drenched in sweat, blood seeping from his pores as well, he fought to have those chains wrapped to him. He ignored his frail flesh slitting open when they rubbed to him, or arteries bursting when he tightened them at his torso, legs, and arms. "So close...so close...just a little more! Gotta stay here! Can't get out! Not like last time-AAAAAHHHH!" He flopped on the filthy basement floor like a fish desperate to return to the water. His bare feet were marred by...by bones breaking out of the skin, his toes stretching and growing with more bones popping and shifting. "Haaa...gaaahhh…uggghhh...c'mon…just a...bit...longer...GRAAH!" He made the mistake of moving a hand for his jacket pocket. He grabbed hold of phone. Every single bone split, his elbow thrown out of the socket, his shoulder twisting itself clean out of place. "YAAAH!" The pain made him throw his arm out. The phone skipped to the floor but stayed within reach! "C'mon! C'mon!" His hair, usually kept short, was growing like a weed in the spring, well to his shoulders. His jaw jerked side to side all of his teeth fining like razor blades. "Gotta...keep her...away…" He dug in those mangled feet. A white hot agony shot up to his scarred legs. His hips threw themselves out when he threw himself to the wall. He howled in pain when those bones began to break and reset, widening and breaking open the muscle and tissue. Blood vessels popped like water balloons on the grass. "Have to...stop her...from coming!" He can't let her see him like this! Not like this!

Ben's fist smashed beside the smartphone. The ground caved and the phone rattled. beating the pain he stroked the screen, finding the number listed as Snuggle Bunny. The picture of the most beautiful tan skinned girl with her straightened brown locks in adorable pigtails pulled at his pounding heart. His chocolate brown eyes...now flickering with gold…stared pleading upon the number. "Please...please still be home…"

The phone rang forever. Ben's stomach was twisting into knots. Like the rest of his body. A few more rings and it would go to her voicemail! And there's two reasons she doesn't pick up. She's not near her phone or she's driving. Ben begged from the bottom of his heart that she was still in the shower. That he'd be able to leave her a voicemail and she'd stay home! She can't come here! Not now...not when he's like this!

"Hi, Ben. How are you?" Her sweet angelic voice broke through the other side. He went into tears of relief. "Yes, yes, I'm still getting ready. But don't worry. I plan to look extra special for you tonight." She playfully purred with a suggestive hum. "I have a special present for you to 'unwrap' tonight."

Ben shook his head, choking on a laugh. Judging from her tone, she planned to be naughty for him tonight. What a present that would have been. It kills him even more now to have to do this. "A-Amelia! Sorry, Love! Don't mean to call like this! It was...urgh! Urgent! Haa..." The hairs on his arms and legs were growing like wild plants. The muscles in those areas inflated. Tendons and ligaments stretching like rubber left in a freezer for hours on end. Joints dislocating and splitting with bones shattering into thousands of pieces.

"Ben?! You sound terrible! Is everything alright?!" She sounded panicked.

No! Nothing about this is alright! He fumed to himself. "It's...ugh...it's nothing...Sweetheart!" He lied sweetly through his lengthening teeth. "Listen...grr! I know this weekend is our three month anniversary...haa…" He moved the phone away from his ear, throwing himself into rampant heaves to numb the pain rippling through him. He swallowed hard, working up a second wind, "But I...I can't take you out tonight! I'm sorry."

"But...you said..." She trailed off, sucking on her teeth with obvious disappointment. "Ben, we agreed to go out tonight! I have to work on the actual day! I won't be back for at least a week!" She stressed.

Ben nodded furiously. He's heard this a thousand times beforehand. "I know, I know, and I'm sorry! But I just can't tonight!" Jesus it's not gonna be easy getting out of this. She's going to be furious with him the next time she sees him. This isn't the first time he's broken plans with her.

Amelia exhaled frustrated. He her the result of her bed. Must have thrown herself down to be comfortable while she thinks of ways to kick his ass. "Do you at least have an excuse as to why?" It was a demand, not a question. It needed to be a damned good one too.

"Why?!" He was coming undone now. He's gotten away with simply saying not tonight in the past. She'd take his word for it and leave it at that. This time she's beyond upset. And she's too damn smart for her own good not to be curious to why he seems to call off their dates. What can he tell her that would be legit...and keep her from being too cross. "Well I...I haven't been...feeling' too well today. The-the flu's been goin' around the shop today. I think I might be comin' down with it." He's come down with an illness alright. He wishes it was as innocuous as the sniffles.

"Geez! See, I told you that Roger was looking green around the gills a couple of days ago." Ben was stunned by relief for that accidental prop. His co-worker Roger was sneezing up a storm. Kept calling it allergies. Until he threw up for hours and had to be driven home by his kid brother. "Say no more. I'll be right over with some soup, 7-Up, maybe some crackers-"

"NO! DON'T YOU DARE COME OVER HERE!" A sharp pinch at his spine made him smashed his head to the concrete. The stone broke on impact, leaving hardly a scratch on Ben's forehead. That pinch forced him to realize how suspiciously aggressive he sounded. "I-I mean...I… wouldn't...want you to get sick. Then what would you tell your bosses. You said they were getting upset with how long your project was takin', right? Imagine how cross they'd be if you were out longer for sniffles?"

"I...I suppose that makes sense..." Though she really wanted to come see him. He doesn't blame her. He was dying to see her too tonight. A nice romantic dinner, maybe a movie, snuggles and cuddles, capping the night off with a little mischief in his bed. But he...he can't risk her coming...not tonight. Not tonight. "Are you sure you don't need me? It's no trouble to drive over there. The storm's letting up anyway. I can't get too sick just being there for a couple of minutes."

God Damn this woman is persistent! He can't recall if he loves or hates that about her. "Babe, I am serious! Do not come over!" That's his final word on the mater, and she better take the fucking hint already! Why the Fuck are you always so stubborn? "We can celebrate afterwards, and it'll be just as special! I promise…" His voice cracked with his plight. He hung his head desperately. Please...just say okay...and hang up...please!

She wasn't hanging up. If anything she was trying to keep him on the phone. "Ben...please..." The first tear to come at his chest that wasn't due to his body tearing itself apart. No don't...don't call to me like that! I can't take it! It's the tone where she knows full well he's lying, yet is resigned that he won't own up to it. "You don't have to tell me everything. Anything, really. But I'm asking you...please be honest..." Ben clamped a hand over his mouth. He stifled sobs being choked by his welling guilt. Please no...please don't ask that of me! He can't be honest! He can't! "Are you...trying to break up with me?"

"Break up?!" Thunder and lightning clashed in the sky above his cabin. Ben was backhanded by the torrential force fueled by the outlandish question. HIs breath was taken right out of his lungs. For what felt like a single minute all of his pain had been numbed but the nauseating claim. "No! No-no-no-no, Baby! I swear! That is sooo far from it!" She can't possibly believe he'd ever want to leave her? Shit! Has she thought this all along? "I would never want to break up with you! You're my girl! My...my everything!"

"Then what's going on with you! Tell me why you get sick so often?! And...why you sound like you're in so much pain?" To tell her any of that...he'd really have to leave her. Leave Ravenside. Hell, he might as well leave the country.

God this is killing him. Having to lie to her over the phone instead of manning up and telling her the truth to her face! What a coward you are, Benjamin! She's worried sick over him! She can tell clear as day there's something he's hiding! That something has been wrong with him since they met. How many more times can he get away with saying he doesn't feel good before she starts getting that little treble in her voice that rips him with guilt? Amelia is such a genuine...loving person! Sharp as a tack, quick as a bullet, honest as Abraham Lincoln.

"Lia, listen to me...I'm on one knee, ya hear…" And he was. Despite all the pain he was in he willed himself onto one knee. He looked up right where he knew her eyes would be and he held her with the utmost sincerity. "There is no chance in Hell that I am betraying you. You have my word. I'm just ill. That's all."

"That's all, huh." She wasn't buying it. She has the voice of an angel! And the wits of Sherlock Holmes! Always has. Ever since the phone call that brought them together...he knew...

(*)

Three months earlier

Was it a monday, a tuesday? For all Ben cares it could have been Saturday. He was recovering from another one of his hard nights. Drowned the muscle pain in the strongest beers and painkillers he had lying around. Bruises and scratches he's come accustomed to waking up to were pretty minor this time around. The markings on his body from a set of iron chains were fading away little by little. He was impressed they held this time around. No worries of being discovered or...or...NONE OF THAT MATTERS! That part of the day doesn't matter! What matters is the call he got for one of the biggest jobs he'd gotten in years since opening his contractor shop!

He was relaxing in his office, filing away some papers, and double checking if he had any clients he needed to check in with. There was a half gallon jug of water with a giant bowl of mints right beside him. Can't have people walking in and mistaking the place for a brewery. Maybe another shower would do him some good too. He had one installed at the shop for just this sort of emergency. Right as he was about to put on the sign for when he'd return, his phone rang. A new number he didn't recognize. It was from the USA.

"Now what's an American doin' callin' me?" He cocked a brow. This might be his furthest job if that's the case. He might have to charge by the mile AND hour." He clicked the button and put on his most charming voice. "This is Ben speakin'!"

"Yes, hello." A young woman answered. He was caught off guard by how softly she spoke. "A friend recommended me to you. Are you the contractor who calls himself a 'Jack of all Constructs' with great prices?'"

Ben's heart skipped a beat at her little giggle. 'She sounds...pretty cute.' He stifled his chuckle realizing just how ridiculous his title sounded from a woman. 'I knew Charlie was blowin' smoke up my ass.' At least accuracy accounted for what counted. "Uh, yeah. Yeah you've got the right guy. I do floorin', hardwood, tile, vinyl, whatever you need."

"Oh good! I'm glad! Because I've gone and bought myself a bit of a pickle of a house. A very flimsy fixer upper I wanted to consume time with, you see." A damsel in distress with house of cards. Ben's liking this so far. ANd he wouldn't mind showing a little lady from across the sea what Aussie Men are capable. of. "I got ahead of myself and bought this old house on...one sec…" Ben had a little smirk on his lips hearing this scatterbrained young lady scamper down a dirt laid way to figure out the street name. 'Must not be a woman of second glances. Always trust and verify, Sweetheart.' "Here it is! Adams Street? Like the Adams Family?"

"OH! The old Adams Street House!" That house is famous on his routes...and not too far from him, actually. "That's quite the 'fixer upper.'" For lack of anything else proving what a monster of a project that one would be for anyone in his profession. Let alone someone who doesn't sound like they know plywood from flypaper.

"Precisely why I rang you!" She countered cheerily. "I was...um...hoping, if it's not too late in the day for you, that you wouldn't mind coming by and giving her a quick looksie?"

"Y-Yeah, I could come by! Give her a diagnosis - so to speak." He ended with a nervous chuckle, cursing himself for what an idiot he just sounded like. 'Dammit, Ben, why are you stuttering like a fool?'

"OH THANK YOU SO MUCH! YOU'RE THE BEST! I take it you know the address?"

"Right. Be there soon." They both hung up, and Ben finally released that breath he's been holding the whole time. Honestly he was feeling a tad giddy at this new assignment of his. A cute sounding girl on the other end is pretty rare. Usually his customer sound like they'd just lost a vodka chugging contest with a Volkswagen. He wondered if she was as cute as she sounded. "NOPE, NOPE, Ben! Put on the brakes there, Mate! You know the rules. No planning on dating the clients!" He grunted with a pump of his fists, steeling himself to resist any wiles this woman might have. Then, as if someone had flicked a switch inside of him, he sank somberly and stared miserably at himself in the reflection of his shop's window. "Besides, you sad fucker, she'd turn on you in seconds if she ever learned the truth." The window distorted his reflection into two separate figures. The one to his right, the one which shredding his insides, grinned with a mouth full of razor sharp canines and eyes beaming the color of blood. "That's is if she could run fast enough."

(*)

God help him if she had called him earlier in the day! When he was in such a wretched state...bones not even re-placed in their proper spots. Amelia would have filed a report of a likely predator using a business to lure in innocent women. Lord knows he's come to the job site in a mangled state before. Looking half beaten to death and like he'd just wrestled Dingoes and a Kangaroo for turkey bone. He caught her phoning for an Ambo on a couple of those occasions. He practically had to beg on his knees to get her to stop. Swearing to her that he wasn't mugged or in any kind of trouble. The shit pile excuse he fed her was that he did brawls for extra money here and there. And any scrapped worth their salt knows fighters come back looking worse than the other guy. In Ben's case he comes back looking worse than the whole arena.

"GRAH! HAA...GRRR…" Strong, if not on the gentler side, pulses pushed on his insides. Animal like snarls mixed with his grunts. The harder he struggled to muffle them, the louder they drawled on. One side of his jaw was pinching and spanning, rows of teeth reshaping like knives. His hair had grown wild, tearing the seams of his clothing to escape.

Shit, not good. He was running out of time. "Listen, Baby, I've really gotta go! I'll call you tomorrow?" Please...please baby...believe me and hang up! He pleaded to anyone or thing that would hear his plight. Make her hang up her phone and put this to the back of her mind. Let her get frustrated with him and chalk it up to another time he's flunked on her for one of their dates. He can earn her forgiveness after a week of begging. But with this...with this he'd never get her back.

"I...I guess so...sure. I'll just...binge Netflix, I suppose." Was her woefully resigned reply. Rather than be relieved, Ben felt his heart to ribbons from how heartbroken she sounded. No doubt she's starting to believe he's betraying her. Baby, please, don't lose faith in me. Not yet. "C-Call me if you need anything...okay?" She implored him.

Ben begged the basement to swallow him whole. He sank pathetically, grasping at a pain in his chest worse than what afflicted his body. "You know I will. I'll always need you, Amelia." He declared softly, tears running down his cheeks.

"Kay...I love you…"

Ben almost broke down crying from her abysmal reply. As if she were doubting if she could continue to love someone who constantly lies to her. And she knows she's being lied to. Amelia's never been stupid a day in her life. "I love you too. Goodbye." He hung up and threw his phone clear across the room. "GOD DAMMIT!" He roared. The phone smashed into thousands of pieces, much like his love life. "It's gonna happen again! Just like I knew it would! It's been the same every day of my damn life!" He's going to be alone again! Left to suffer in silence...after finding the one woman he would have killed to start a family with.

Ben hates lying to her. He can't stand breaking off engagements with her because of this! In the long run, and possibly the most important, it keeps her safe...and she never has to learn that he's a monster. More over...he'll...he'll never have to face the nightmare of losing someone he's come to love so much that he's in pain when they aren't together. Yes, they've had arguments where they go days without speaking. But at least they would meet up and try to reconcile. He'd cheat by singing to her. She melts in his arms when he sings. But he knows from the bottom of his heart that if she ever came face to snout with...THIS...she'd run the other direction and never look back. She may even call animal control or the swat team to put him down.

"I'm sorry...Lia. Grr...I can't...I can't lose you...to this!"

(*)

Amelia, pulling her long brown curls from their band, held her phone somberly to her lap. Around her was the outfit she wanted to wear specially for their anniversary, the Opal Turtle earrings he won for her at the fair, all the care products that went into her hair, and a small box with a ribbon that had a special gift just him inside. Her hazel eyes glossed with tears. Cancelling on her last second. How like Ben and every other man in her life. Her mascara threatened to smear. She doesn't know why she even puts makeup on. She wears glasses, and hates makeup with all her being. It's stupid. Ben's...stupid!

Her lower lip quivered as she fought to not cry. He's cancelled on her like this before. Just last month, in fact. Out of the blue he will call saying he's not feeling well and she won't hear from him for a day or two. Once she couldn't get ahold of him for a week. She was so scared he'd gotten hurt at work, or worse, that she drove to his house. Got a speeding ticket on the way. The amount will not be discussed. When she found him he was passed out naked on his floor with boxes of empty beers around him. Normal people would have called an ambulance. She filled his bathtub up with ice, threw him in, and turned on the cold water. His scream was so loud a noise complaint was filed. And speculation of animal abuse. She spent the next few days at his place to ensure he wasn't going into some spiral. He recovered...yeah. Had a shit ton of bruises and scratches he refused to talk about. And blood on his shirt. It was...a lot of blood. This time he sounds like he's in agony. Being torn apart like Wolverine in that one comic.

What if...what if he goes back to drinking like that time? What even happened before she found him that he had to drink that much? Was he with someone else? He wouldn't cheat on me...right? How was he able to even drink that much and not die? What if he gets hurt again and I find him in jail?! Jail for murder, assault, reversing street signs, stealing everyone's left shoe! OH GOD! What if he dies this time?! What if she finds him in a ditch somewhere?! "NO! I'm getting ahead of this!"

She leapt off her bed and messied her long red locks, throwing them into a ponytail. No point in looking good when she plans on being pissed with him. Or taking care of a sick Ben. Gotta keep an open mind. She threw on her favorite ripped at the thigh hip hugger jeans and black sketchers. Just because it was fitting her mood, she threw on a black and grey top, with lacing at the chest, that read Nope, Don't Care across it. She did care that it was raining. She grabbed her Jack Skellington jacket on her run out of her room. She slammed the front door so hard she shook pictures off the wall. One of her and Ben at a creak fell and cracked down the middle. She locked the door, got into her blue dodge ram, and there were skid marks from driveway to street as she took off.

"So help me, Benjamin Aussman, you better be dying by the time I get there!" Her tires screeched like bats racing out of Hell. Out of the driveway and down the street she tore, flames left in her wake that she would use to burn Ben to a crips if he's playing her...like everyone else does.

Her internal tirade was interrupted by her phone blaring with the Dual of Fates Theme from Star Wars. Her stomach curdled like sour milk finding the name Arahm flickering on the screen. No...no...not now. Her throat clenched and went dry. A solid pit the size of a grenade went off in her chest. Her nerves really got the best of her, causing her to slow down and miss turns. I...I already sent a report...why is he calling? The longer the phone rang...the closer it got to going to voicemail...the more she wanted to pull over and vomit. I can't...not now...Ben needs me. Arahm can...can wait...right? The debate tearing her in half was alleviated by the phone falling silent. She waited a couple of seconds. The seconds became a minute. She was back on track for Ben's place. Amelia released a breath of relief and started to relax. Then...DUEL OF FATES. "AH!" Amelia jumped out of her skin, breaking into a cold sweat. Dammit! I'm either in trouble or its important...Neither of which are a good sign. "I...I can't ignore him twice...can I?" She picked up the phone. Her thumb shakily battled hitting the answer button.

Amelia's attention was strained when the final stretch to Ben's place came up on the left. A gash in the woods that'll take her down an exciting off roading venture before settling at her boyfriend's cabin. She never understood why he chose to live so far from civilization. But that was neither here, there, nor important. Neither was this phone call. "Sorry, Boss. Ben comes first!" She ignored the call, turning her phone off completely and shoving it in the middle divider of her truck. She drifted on the turn into the woods, flooring it and taking those natural moguls like a champ. "Benjamin Aussman...I'm coming for you!" By then she'll decide to either break up with him or kill him! She might do both!

(*)

SNAP went a bone in Ben's leg! CRACK CRACK went more from the base of his head to his shoulder blades! They alternated and rolled beneath the skin, stretching the flesh to the point of tearing him like wet tissue paper. A xylophone of cracks rippled from one side of his hips to the next. His vertebrae popped and clicked half a dozen times up and down his spin like damn cogs being shoved into their sockets. Each time his bones would snap and shift, the rest of his body would fall prey contortions with the muscles on fire hotter than the sun .

"DAMMIT!" He roared with that animal snalr in tow! "Why'd the anniversary have to be when the fuckin full moon is out?!" Of all the nights for the moon to be full, why couldn't it have picked the night after?! Or even a week after?! Not when he has the most romantic of plans laid out specially for the most perfect woman that's ever met. "I'm...I'm running out of excuses! She's askin'...guh...more and more questions!" He fumed between painfilled breaths. "GYAH!" His body inflated like a balloon! Pressure mounting at the calves, biceps, forearms, and pecs was enlarging his body. It was unbearable when the tiniest of bones would pop out and scuttle to force the muscles and blood vessels to span with it. And any time he has to breathe it comes with that damn growl.

"Okay...okay...easy, Ben. Hold it together. I think...I think I have...a little more time… before I have to lock myself here in the basement." He soothed himself, but not the savage beast gnawing at the wavering cage it so desperately wished to escape from. The bars were bending like his bones, the metal marred and riddled with claw marks like his inflamed flesh. Any second now what he fears most of all will come roaring out. He has to make sure it doesn't get free when it does. "God I've been doing this every month since I was tne! You'd think I'd be used to it by now." He clamped hands at his side and chest feeling the organs being squished and moved out of their places. Pretty sure his appendix went where the pancreas should have been. "But it only seems to get worse...ugh...the older I get!" A sharp squeeze at his ribs and lungs made him roar out. Biting down hard to resist letting loose came with him breaking his gums. Blood spilled from the widening jaws along with puddles of saliva. As much pain as he was in right now just trying to keep the cage closed a while longer...nothing was comparing to the agony of having broken Amelia's heart again.

"I don't even know why I got involved with someone! I knew it was stupid!" Beyond stupid! It was his worst moment of weakness since that convention with all the thousands of toppings of pizza from across the world. He'll never be able to get how he let Amelia convince him to eat a pizza with pineapple on it. "There's no way anyone," BARK, Ben flinched at the beast lurking within, "Anyone could deal with this!" He can barely deal with it! And he's lived with it! He lowered his head, hand over his eyes to prevent the tears stinging his eyes from falling anymore. "I stepped into this relationship! Knowin' full well it wasn't gonna last!" None of them do. None of them ever do! Not...a single...one. All because he's terrified of them ever learning the truth, and of them getting hurt.

Ben has known since childhood that he would never be able to maintain a relationship. It was too dangerous for him, too dangerous for them, and the carnage that would ensue would drive him to hide away even further away from other people. He wouldn't be able to hold down a job. He wouldn't...be able to go out for beers. Make guy friends to go for beers with. Would never be able to at least flirt with the ladies and laugh about how terrible he was at it with the guys later. He'd be driven underground into the deepest, darkest pit. The softest things he will ever touch will be stones and darkness. All that should embrace him would be the chains keeping him secure and the never ending solitude. Until...eventually...as sure as the sun will set...he will wither and die from starvation, or the beast tears itself apart in madness. That is the life he knew he was destined to have...and he chose to bring a woman into it. Worse still. He chose...he chose to fall in love with her.

"I couldn't help it. Not this time. Couldn't bear it any longer." Tears dripped to the cold basement floor. "I'm just…I'm just so tired...of being alone." Sorrow weighed heavily on that frigid isolation that's slowed melted while being with Amelia. He can't bear the thought of her leaving him. He can't lose her. Or so he wished.

"HHRAAHH!" The animal was coming through with greater force now. The man would soon lose control and be at the mercy of what nightmare the beast will leave behind when he awakes again. "That's no excuse! I've gotta end it with her! I've gotta call it off! HRAAHHH! Gotta end it with her!" His pained grunts had been overtaken by guttural growls now. The nails on his toes and fingers had gone jet black. Eyes changed demonic gold with the pupils smaller than needle tips. "But...for right now...I need to...secure these chains! Gotta...GRRR….ack...make sure...I don't leave the basement…" He can't leave...the chains have to be secure! He can't escape! Can't risk...hurting...anyone.

Grrr ...let...me...FEED YOU PITIFUL HUMAN FILTH! YOU CAN'T CONTAIN ME! I WILL FEAST UPON THESE HUMANS UNTIL THEY ARE NO MORE! AHWWOOOOO!

(*)

The howl cut through the loud rumbling of the truck straight to Amelia. She slammed a foot to the break startled, sliding on the sloshing mud right in front of Ben's two story cabin home. She peered up at the full moon night in fright of the monstrous howl. She's heard wolves go to town and howl their little hearts out before. But she's never heard a howl that was louder than a car engine. The wolves must be bigger out here than they are by her house. They might as well be pups.

The rain had lightened dramatically on her drive over. Still though, she can tell the puddles would make it higher than her ankles. She's glad Ben gave her those rain boots for such an occasion. Well, in truth, they were for a particular roleplay he wanted to enact and he forgot them. But that's another story. She pulled up her hood, slipped on the boots, and jumped out in the deep puddles. The smell of drenched trees and soil assuaged much of the frustration that drove her here in the first place, but not enough that she doesn't plan to give that Aussie Asshole a piece of her mind! She paused before closing the door to ogle her phone. The previous caller she ignored weighed on her mind. If she keeps ignoring him she'll be in trouble for sure. Not nearly as much trouble as Ben. She slammed the door hard and ran for the front door.

(*)

Ben, so consumed in his self loathing, barely began fastening the chains to his dismantling body when...he froze. He felt sick enough to die where he lied. "Oh shit…" His nostrils flaring and retracting to a scent gliding through every crevice of his home. Fresh mountain spring with a dash of lavender and an unmistakable note of mango. "She's here! I can smell her!"

Angry knocks to his door rang in his ears. "BENJAMIN HUBERT AUSSMAN! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME I WILL FEED YOU A VEGAN STEAK AGAIN!" His heart hammered at his chest about to burst. Panic got the better of him. The beast it...it was growling in disdain of her arrival. It craved to dig its claws into her! IT WANTED TO KILL HER! No threat of fake meat will ever beast the real threat of the monster craving her flesh!

"No...FUCK...NO! She...she can't be here! She can't see this!" What was he going to do?! What could he do?! He's heard the lock to his door click! FUCK! I GAVE HER A KEY! She was in the house! God she was in the house! "GRAHH… HAAA...RRAAAHHH…!" Ben's climbing panic was robbing him of any sliver of control he had in containing this thing! The abject fear she was that close...about to see him! FUCK! WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST STAY HOME?! For that matter...WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T I BARRICADE THE FRONT DOOR?!

(*)

"Ben?! Ben?! Ben, where are you?! Answer me!" Amelia commanded very pissed. The cabin was pitch black. Silence was all that replied to her. "Benjamin?! WHere are you?!" Maybe...Maybe he really wasn't here. If that's the case, where was he calling from? Could that be why he didn't want me over here? Is he...is he out with someone else?

That miserable train of thought was completely derailed by her fingers brushing to some plywood next to her. She was losing her balance, fearing she was losing Ben, and reached to brace herself. Bracing herself to wood he uses on his projects. "Hm? Why are these here?" She took another look around the living room. It was faint but as her eyes adjusted to the darkness she could make out wooden planks covering the windows. Nails, spare planks, and power tools knocked at her feet as she moved further in. The cabin was fortified for the apocalypse. She didn't see any dead people walking around. He might be selling the house? Condemning it maybe? Could explain why he was keeping her away. But not why he sounded so sick about it. "Ben, just what are you up to?"

"Ben…? Are you...are you here?" She called for him softly. She sounded timid so he'd know she was here to talk, not hurt him like she said she would. Her hand found some switches and fiddled with them. Nothing. The house was dead. She should have brought her phone. It's too dark to see anything. And she keeps bumping into stuff every five steps trying to get to the kitchen. That's were she usually finds him when he's being odd. "Lets see...if I'm right...there's a little table around here...AH-HA!" She pulled a drawer from an end table. She felt around. Her fingers wrapped to a flashlight. Now she just has to be lucky and hope Ben replaced the batteries. She crossed her fingers. A click of the button and the brightest LED flash flooded the room. Not a second later she screamed shrilly. Claw marks of beast riddled every surface in that one room. Not even the ceiling was spared. Cleaved clean to the beams that had taken their lashings and were managing to keep the place together by a stranger miracle. The furniture was tossed and smashed into irreparable pieces. Glass shards from the windows, lamps, and hutch sets were everywhere. A lamp was sticking out of a wall! Anything fabric was just torn to such tatters a loin cloth couldn't be sewn. Teeth mark similar to a dog's marred the dug up flooring. The foundation and dirt right beneath the cabin was even disturbed. But what had Amelia losing strength in her knees, falling onto a misplaced couch cushion, was the streaks of blood straining the whole room.

How?! When?! Who?! What?! This couldn't be real! None of this could be real! Amelia fought with her brain to spit out anything comprehensive so she'd learn what the hell went on here! It looked like someone broke in here and...and was murdered! Ben…! Oh God! BEN! Ben was robbed! He was robbed and he was hurt! S-Someone sicked their dogs on him! "BEN! BEN, PLEASE, ANSWER ME! WHERE ARE YOU?!"

What an irrational BITCH Amelia has been! Wanting to kill him because he's cancelled on her when...when he could be...NO! Don't think that Amelia! He goes to fight clubs every night! Wins! No one could ever, EVER beat him! Ben's the strongest man she's ever met. He's honorable too. Whatever went on here...he was desperate enough to keep her away knowing how'd she react. That might mean he's not even here. Or he can't answer her. "Ben...BEN! PLEASE! I'M SORRY! JUST ANSWER ME!" She begged him, tears running down her cheeks. She has to find him. No matter what! But where to start- "AAHHHH!"

Amelia ran to the opposite side of the room, away from the gaping, bloodied hole tearing straight through into the kitchen. "What...the...HELL?!" It was enormous! Larger than any fully grown man within five miles! She approached it cautiously, reaching her hand out to inspect the damage. Patches of hair, blood, and skin were caked to the splintered edges. "What the Hell sort of dog came through here?" She shakily whispered. Could it even be classified as a dog? She has to call someone! She needs help here! "Dammit! My phone is in the car!"

As Amelia turned to rush for the phone, "Hrraarrr...ahhh!" She froze in place.

Chills running down her spine turned her sweat into ice. Her eyes wide with fear followed the flashlight, falling to where she knows she heard the noise. She was taken aback in disbeleif. "The basement door...it's open?" In the months they've been dating, Amelia has never seen that door open. The wine cellar door, sure. But that was in his office. The basement is where Ben deemed off limits. Even went so far as to tackle her to the ground so she'd never be tempted to go down there. Ever. Yet here it is...wide open...and with a horror scene just a few feet away. How can she not investigate?

(*)

Ben could hear her screaming in horror of the destruction, pleading for him to answer her and say he was alright. Oh how he wished to calm her down. Take her in his arms and calm her down, swear to her everything was fine. But nothing about this was fine! She...she was in grave danger! The more she called for him, begged him to show himself, the angrier the beast became. No words can describe how pissed he is that she's here. His form was breaking through his human flesh. Claws digging into the floor to break into a charge for her. The scent of her was tantalizing, driving him mad! He wanted to taste her...to kill her...to leave nothing left! Not even her bones! THE BITCH, BENJAMIN! THE BITCH IS HERE! LET ME EAT HER! CHOMP DOWN ON THOSE THIGHS! RIP HER ARMS FROM THEIR SOCKETS! LET ME RIP HER STOMACH OPEN AND CHOW DOWN ON THOSE BEAUTIFUL ORGANS! BREAK OPEN HER SKULL AND DRINK FROM IT LIKE A BOWL! GIVE HER TO ME, BENJAMIN! LET ME HAVE HER! He had to hurry! He has to chain himself down! FOrtify the locks so not even five of these beasts could break free! He just hopes...after how many times he's warned her...that she won't come down into the-

"Ben? Are you down here?" A flashlight beamed down the stairs.

His heart stopped for five solid seconds. He was about to fall into cardiac arrest. Her shoes...they were creaking on the basement stairs. SHE WAS COMING DOWN! Dammit! I forgot to lock the basement door! He was in such a rush to restrain himself, also guilt ridden from lying to her, that he forgot the most important step. And now...Amelia...was coming. She was coming...and telling her to leave...would be pointless.

Ha-ha-ha, she's coming~ BENJAMIN! She's coming cloo~serr~ I can practically taste her on my lips. Feel her body vibrating as she screams for the pain to stop. But not to worry, Benjamin. I'll rip her throat out so you won't have to hear her scream. She won't die right away, but we won't have to listen to the bitch whine the whole time!

"Ben? Is that you? What are you doing down here?"

"BABY GO HOME! I-I'm not well!" He choked on the guttural growls, suffocating himself to silence them! It wasn't working! The moment he could see her legs on the stairs was when the beast began breaking the bars of his cage! He was growling with hunger. "Please just go home!" He urged nauseously! His every moan came with a snarl. He wrapped his arms to himself, slamming to the floor in the fetal position. Please...don't...not yet...not here...please!

Amelia had reached the bottom of the stairs. When she put the light on Ben...she was beside herself with grief. He looked terrible. A writhing mess on the floor. Drenched in sweat, his clothes torn, fresh gashes all over his body. "Ben?! Oh god...look at you!" She dropped the flashlight rushing over to his side. "Hold on, Sweetie! I've got you! Just...GRAAHH!" She forced him up and against the wall, having him slump comfortably. He belched out a painful roar, digging his...abnormally long nails...into his arm. "Holy shit…" She squealed hourly, hands covering her mouth. Bones were sticking out of places they shouldn't have. this overwhelming need to break down and cry at his wretched state gnawed at her. This was worse than calling off a date. Someone's attacked him. "Ben, talk to me! What's really going on?"

Ben furiously shook his head, lowering it so he wouldn't be forced to lie to her face anymore! His breathing was burning his insides. GRAAHHH, RAHL, HARR...It was getting closer! She was going to see! She can't see him! SHE CAN'T! He curled into a tight ball. Her hands on him, hands that he loved for how firm yet gentle they could be, were like acid on his skin. "Amelia...please...just leave!" He sobbed. Please...run. "Just go home...I'll be-" NO YOU WON'T! "UURRAAGGHHH!" Ben howled animally. YOU WON'T BE FINE AND NEITHER WILL SHE! I'LL FEAST ON HER BONES WHILE YOU WATCH!

"Benny, what happened to you?! Who did this?! And why…why are you…?!" She trailed off clutching at the chains around him. There were dozens of these things. And Ben's hair...it's grown wild. "Ben, please, whatever this is, I'm right here! Talk to me! For five seconds...just stop lying to me." She begged him, tears running down her face.

"Lia…" Ben broke. He...he can't...he can't tell her. He can't lie...but telling her...he just can't. "RAAAH...HAAA-HAAAA…" He doesn't have time for this! he has to chase her away! "You need to get out of here! Now!"

"Ben, stop being so stubborn! I have a first aid kit and some soup! I can patch you up and-"

"PLEASE!" He threw himself to her, clutching at her shoulders. He caught her flinching at his changing eyes. "Please...I don't have much time!" NO TIME AT ALL! The bars...the bars bent and the beast came loose! It was free! "No I can't...can't hold back any longer!"

"Can't hold back what?!" She cupped her hands to his cheeks. "Ben, please, tell me! I can help you! You're not alone anymore!"

"BUT I SHOULD HAVE STAYED ALONE THAN GETTING INVOLVED WITH YOU!" He howled. "I NEVER SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN INVOLVED WITH YOU!" The words cut Amelia deeper than anything she's felt. Aghast and plagued by hurt, betrayal, Amelia's hands fell into her lap. Her body leaned away from him. While her brain couldn't comprehend what was just shouted...her heart was wrenched out of her chest. Ben, realizing what he's just said, knew that there was no turning back. He wanted to end things. Time to end them. Now! The cage was broken, reduced to scrapped pieces of metal. A flimsy door being dug at by claws sharper than steel was about to fall. "Sweetheart...please...I'm beggin' you...JUST GO! GO!" He threw himself away from her, smashing his face so hard to the ground that it broke.

Amelia shot to her feet and screamed. His face broke the floor! And...there wasn't a scratch?! Not anything she hasn't seen so far anyway. "Ben...please...just...just let me-" She tiptoed for him, reaching out.

"GET BACK!" He swatted a hand at her, cnails narrowly missing tearing her shirt. "YOU CAN'T HELP ME!"

"But-"

"Please...I don't wanna hurt you!" Don't let his final memory of her...before he's gone...be of her being torn to shreds. He could hear it! Right in his ear! It was laughing...it was coming! These fucking chains were useless! They won't keep him back! He has to get away from here! THERE'S NO ESCAPING, BENJAMIN! She'll be mine. "Please..no...I'm begging you...not her." He pleaded under his breath, just enough so Amelia wouldn't here. "You can have anything you want! I won't fight you! Just...please...don't kill her…"

"Ben, I'm not going anywhere! Not this time!" She swore to him. She wrapped her arms to his shoulders, burying her face in his neck. He went rigid in her embrace. He cried aloud in agony and sorrow. Please...don't hug me...not like this. "Whatever it is...I won't run from you...so please...just tell me what's hurting you."

"Baby...you…" Fucking Hell this was killing him worse than his bones shifting. Worse than the beast. She...she's truly the best. And he can't have her anymore. "Baby...you can't...I don't…" The pinching in his chest grew into knives clawing out the cavern. The door was coming down...and he couldn't stop it. "I don't...want you...you to...see me...like...this…"

He went limp in her arms, his body heat intensifying to where Amelia felt herself be burned. But she didn't let go. If anything she held tighter feeling his as deadweight in her arms. "Ben...I'm here...don't...worry." She snuggled her cheek to his hair. She doesn't care how rough it felt, or the thousands of hairs sprouting prickling her. She would hold him until-

Ben's eyes flared open, shrinking to narrow slit. His jaws contorted and sprang out into a full snout. I CAN'T! HE COULDN'T HOLD BACK ANYMORE! He shoved Amelia as hard as he could into a stack of boxes. The impact knocked the wind clear out of her lungs! "BABY…" He called to her with a monstrous growl, the chains breaking free of his body as he slowly grew and rose from the floor. "BABY RU-AAAAWWWWWOOOOOO…." Amelia was petrified cold as stone as a wolf's howl erupted from Ben! The man she loved more than this world was shrouded by long brown and black hairs sprouting from and splitting his skin. His legs twisted and snapped, bending into the hind legs of beast. His clothing tore into scraps when a full fledged monster of lore finally freed itself from the confines of its human host. Her vision blurring in and out with her staggering consciousness...Amelia...gazed upon the beast in terror...as her darkest nightmares confirmed that Ben...had become a full fledged werewolf right before her eyes.

"No…" She wheezed to herself. Ben...the wolf's beady gold eyes snapped to her. She flinched as if struck by lightning. The beast, in the second it took her to blink, was atop her. Thick drops of saliva running from his jaws and onto her. Too terrified of those grim jaws was she to care about being drooled on. ANd those claws. I'm...I'm going...to die? The beast took a deep breath and ROARED WITH ALL HIS MIGHT IN HER FACE! She threw up her arms in a pitiful barrier. The sheer heat of his breath peeled her skin, her hair lapping like it was tossed about by strong winds. When the roar died down, and by the time she opened her eyes, Amelia was alone. The air was weightless, the silence torture. Amelia wasn't able to grasp what had just happened...or if she was still alive. Maybe...she crashed her truck on the way here? A window shattering broke her out of her stupor. "BEN?!"

Amelia leapt up the basement stairs, ignoring the door smashed off its hinges. A massive hole where the kitchen sink used to be let in musty, frigid air. A monstrous howl from Ben was carried on the breeze. She bolted outside, the mud splashing up to her face. She didn't care! She scoured the area to find Ben hiding in a bush or something, maybe ready to jump out and tell her this was a sick prank! But when he foot stepped into one of his...paw prints...the print of the beast...she dropped to her knees, hands burying in the mud around the print...and her head shook fiercely.

"No...Ben…please no! The information has to be wrong!" She smashed a fist into the mud. "This can't be happening...it's not real…it can't be true!" She hyperventilated. "Arram...can't...he can't...it's wrong...ARRAM HE CAN'T HAVE HIM!" NO ONE CAN HAVE HIM! NOT WHEN SHE'S GOTTEN TO HAVE HAPPINESS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE! No one is going to take him from her! NOBODY! "I won't let anyone take you from me, Ben. No one. Not even the thing that you are!" She dug in her foot, marching to her truck. She lifted the trucks back and lowered the smaller door. "Which is why...I hope...somehow...you will forgive me one day…" She tore the tarp away from five cases of different sizes. She clicked open two of them, her eyes darkening on two batons...and an assault sniper rifle. MIlitary grade. "If anyone should put you down, so you won't experience a new Hell, then please let my aim be true." She took up the rifle and clicked it.