Disclaimer: The story is mostly original; it was created from a concept paragraph sent to me by a friend of a friend.

Plague of Doubts

She ran, breathless down the hallway. Her heart thundered in her ears and her legs felt like lead as she pumped them vigorously down the hallway. The light swam in her vision as tears streamed down her cheeks. Why did she run? She ran because her children needed her. They were screaming her name from the end bedroom and it had taken to long for her to actually move; they weren't screaming anymore and yet she ran.

          Coming here had been a mistake…back to the woods…back to the cottage. And yet…she had brought her two children here, had given them the far bedroom when she tucked them in. Kissed the top of their little heads…and made sure the windows were locked tight. None of her friends new about this cottage…no one else from her world knew where they were. At the time, it had sounded like a good idea…a break, a vacation from the busy life that she lived outside the woods. The woods had seemed a haven. And so she had thought as she sat before the fire, remembering. Peaceful, relaxing…and then her children had screamed.

          Now she stood before the bedroom door and remembered why she had fled with her children. Memories flooded her; the images of a great muzzle dipping into the cradle that held her twins, great jaws parting and a red tongue, still dripping blood from its last hunt, licking the newborns. No mother, not even her, could see that and keep her children here. Maybe she had overreacted…but it was right. The children should never have been brought back.

          Finally the door was in front of her, shivering, she tried the knob. It was blocked by something heavy, and she was willing to bet, furry. There was no sound of her children. She leaned her forehead on the door and slid down to the floor, sobbing. Her mind was screaming at her, and yet all she could do was whimper as she listened to the breathing right on the other side of the door. How could he? How could he? She dragged her fingernails down the door, flaking aging paint off the wood. And there she sat, all night; she was too horrified to run, to set on seeing the carnage she knew was there, determined not to outlive her children by long. She watched, unblinking, as her nails drew furrows in the door. She didn't wince when her nails shattered, one by one, didn't notice when it wasn't paint that flaked off, but blood that dripped in macabre lines. She didn't notice when her benumbed mind passed into unconsciousness.

          What followed must have been a dream. The door opened and a gentle, familiar, hand smoothed the hair back from her face. Her fingers were gathered into large, warm hands and a swift wetness cleaned the blood off. Her children looked at her from either side of the large, furry body that was cleaning her hands. Then, looking up from her hands, the man smiled a lupine grin and his eyes twinkled "Did you truly fear I would harm my own children? They, like you, are pack, and I may be were but I am not a monster. Welcome home love."

          The woman smiled, crying once more.