“Donny!” She yelled, picking her way over a hill of rocks. “Donny! Get your scrawny hick ass out here!” There was no answer. “Seriously, Donny, this ain’t funny.”
She slid her way down the hill and began picking her way over the twigs, dried leaves, and whatever else covered a forest floor.
“You better have shot that bear by the time I find you or I’m calling your mama, and you better believe you’re gonna get an earful,” she muttered under her breath, knowing that no one was close enough to hear her. This was starting to get ridiculous.
She hadn’t wanted to go hunting with him in the first place, but their engagement was inches away from getting called off and she thought this would be the perfect chance to save it. They would get some time to themselves and talk things out. But not if Donny kept running off to shoot some bear that had been terrorizing these woods. Actually, all it had terrorized was a poor little deer, but it gave the antsy hunters of Bodeville excuse enough to go bear hunting, which was otherwise illegal in these parts. Poor thing.
She sighed and tried to remember where she was. Her father had taken her shooting a couple of times when she was younger, but she had never been this far into the forest. She was, in all senses of the word, lost.
“Donny!” She screamed, her voice growing a little desperate this time. She had been out here for at least an hour on her own, after Donny had ditched her for being too slow. Her cell phone wasn’t working- which wasn’t a surprise in Bodeville- and Donny had taken all the supplies with him. Plus, she was almost completely, undeniably sure that something had started following her.
She could hear it moving when she stopped. It could have just been the wind playing tricks with her mind… but it could also be the bear.
“Donny, please,” she called out, “I’m lost and I want to go home. I learned my lesson; I’ll never ask to go hunting with you again. Please, just-“
A branch snapped, the sound resounding through the forest. Leaves cracked in a telltale way that meant footsteps.
“Donny, that better be you,” she tried to say boldly.
But it wasn’t. She heard a deep, low growl begin, coming from behind a gathering of trees. Something big and dark moved between the trees, running too quickly to make out what it was. It was the size of a bear, but-
“That ain’t no bear.”
She spun and saw Donny standing behind her, loading a rifle big enough to bring down an elephant. “Donny,” she hissed, “how could you just leave me in the woods? You know I don’t know them as well as you. I was-“
“Hun, can we do this later?” Donny asked, pushing up his trucker’s cap with a single finger and aiming the rifle. “Ya know, when we ain’t huntin’ some giant critter that might eat us?”
She bit her lip and stepped out of the way. She looked back at the… not-bear, but saw that it had disappeared behind the trees again.
“How do you know where it is?” She asked, curious, but also somewhat scared. She knew Donny was a good hunter- he always brought back the most game at the end of the season- so she
knew whatever it was, Donny could take it down, but she worried that it might take a chunk out of them.
“Mac, a little busy here,” Donny told her, moving his rifle to follow something in the distance.
She looked in the forest, trying to see what he saw, but couldn’t find anything.
The growling started up again, coming from a direction not too far away.
“Donny,” she whispered.
“I hear it, Mac,” Donny replied, his voice a little tense.
The growl turned into a loud snarl and the animal sprang out from nowhere, leaping and coming right for her.
“Mac, move!” Donny snapped and she complied taking several steps to the side. Donny took a shot and the animal jerked but didn’t lose momentum. Instead, it turned on a dime and ran straight for
“Oh, dishwater,” she spat and took off running. “Shoot it again, Donny, shoot it again!”
But the animal was gaining on her and she felt teeth clamp down on her arm, pain spreading through, and she was jerked into the air.
She let out a scream, but her voice was drowned out by the sound of gunshots. The wolf yelped and after a moment, she was dropped. She rolled on the ground, clutching her arm to her tightly.
With a heavy thud, the animal fell beside her.
She screamed again when she saw it, but this scream was not out of pain but rather fear. The head had been pretty much destroyed by Donny’s illegal bullets, but she could make out a muzzle and recognized the huge row of sharp teeth, painted red with her own blood. The thing had fluffy chocolate-brown fur and massive paws, a long tail tucked between its legs.
“Mackenzie!” Donny cried, running over to where she laid. “Aw, hun, it got you good.”
She looked at her arm and saw the deep cuts the creature had made, each one of them bleeding profusely.
“Here, I got this,” Donny said, bringing out his flask and an extra t-shirt. He poured the contents of the flask over her arm, bringing out another scream and then timed the shirt around the wounds.
“That’ll hold ‘til we get to my pa’s and he can stitch you up all proper-like,” he said and placed a kiss on her forehead and helped her up. “Don’t worry, Mac, it ain’t too bad.”
“I’m never going hunting with you again, Donovan Myers,” she told him matter-of-factly and cradled her arm to her chest, trying to ignore the burning pain that consumed her thoughts.
“I’m alright by that,” Donny huffed, “with all your yappin’ and hollerin’ you done scared off anything to shoot, Miss Mackenzie, darlin’.”
She made a face and clutched her arm closer as if that would stop the pain.
“Now, let see what we got ourselves here,” Donny mumbled and looked at the animal, rubbing his jaw like he was deep in thought. “You know what we got here?”
“No, Donny,” she said softly, trying not to cry. “I just want to go home.”
“What we got here is a wolf,” he continued like he hadn’t heard her. “Biggest wolf I e’r seen, but it’s a wolf alright. How much you reckon we can get for the fur?”
“They’re gonna wanna know where you got it from,” she warned him, “and wolf hunting is illegal. So can we just go home?My arm is killing me.”
Donny sighed and turned back to her. “Yeah, I guess you’re right again. C’mon, hun.” He began to lead them back to where they left the truck when something cracked.
It was loud and wet, like the nauseating sound of bone breaking, and it echoed in the trees.
Mackenzie paused and looked at Donny. It wasn’t her.
And then it cracked again. A few seconds later, another crack resounded through the forest. And another, followed more closely by another. They were coming quickly now, bones breaking and
snapping right over each other- the only sound in the forest. And then it stopped.
Mackenzie looked around, trying to figure out what it was, though something in her told her she already knew.
Rubbing her arm, she turned to the dead giant wolf. Only it wasn’t a wolf anymore.
A man lied naked on the dirty ground, right where the wolf had been. There was a bullet wound in his shoulder and his head was messed up from the shots, but it was unmistakably and undeniably
a man. A naked man with a bloody mouth.
“That ain’t what I shot,” Donny said quickly, almost defensively as if she had accused him. “I would have noticed shooting a nekkid man.”
Donny let go of her to get a closer look. He seemed to inspect the man’s wounds, the bullet holes, and his own gun, a confused look plastered on his face the entire time. Finally, he stepped away.
“Hell, Mac, you don’t figure this it one of them werewolves, do ya?” He asked her with all seriousness. “Them that change in the full moon and all?”
“It wasn’t a full moon, though,” she answered in a shaky voice. Her wounds hurt, stinging right through the bone.
“Maybe, but that right there is a man. I didn’t shoot no man,” Donny deduced all by himself. “How else you gon’ explain something like that?”
She froze. He obviously hadn’t been thinking about his words. If that was a werewolf, well, then, now so was she. She had been bitten. And it wasn’t just a little scratch. There was no way she
hadn’t been infected. She was going to turn into a werewolf just like the man on the ground. She was going to become like that.
“Well, I s’pose we should go get your daddy now, he bein’ the sheriff and all. You figure he gon’ put me in jail again? Hey, Mac, you alright? You look like you just seen-“
She took off running, her legs pushing as quickly as she could go. The trees flew by her, branches whipping at her skin, but she didn’t care. She was going to turn into a werewolf. A swear to God werewolf.
She didn’t know where she was running to. She just knew that she had to get away. She needed to run away from here, from Donny, from everything she knew. This life was over. She was going to be a werewolf now.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’ve got tourists coming in and out every day,” the sheriff said to the frantic woman. “We can’t keep track of everyone that comes through here.”
The small elderly woman took a picture from her small leather purse and held it out to the sheriff, her expression desperate. “Please, his name is Matthew- Matthew Anderson Kane. Someone had to see him, he’s a good-sized boy. He played defense on his high school football team. He- he’s really tall. Please, someone had to have seen him. He was out here just last week. He was
just supposed to go the lake. Please-“
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Kane,” the sheriff said, taking hold of her lightly and escorting her out of their station. “There’s nothing we can do. You can file a missing persons report but he probably just
wandered off the trail when he went hiking.”
“But-“ the woman cried, tearing coming to her eyes, “please, he’s my only son-“
“Well, keep an eye out, ma’am,” the Sheriff said sincerely, walking her to her car and helping her back in. “But give him another few days and he’ll show up. He’ll find his way back on the trail like everyone else.”
The woman insisted that he keep the photo of her son, and to pacify her, he did. He watched her leave before going back into the station. The deputy was watching him curiously and the sheriff
walked over, sliding the picture over the desk so the deputy could see.
“That’s the-“ the deputy asked.
“Yup,” the sheriff said, looking down at the dark-haired man in the photo. He was pretty good looking, skin slightly tanned, and young. He was looking slick in a dark suit, his arm around a slim
woman’s waist. The guy was definitely a big boy, you could see that even under the sleek styled suit. The boy had definitely spent some time in a gym.
“Huh,” the deputy said absently and picked up the office phone, hitting number three on the speed dial, “he looks smaller in real life.”