Wind was howling viciously through the trees and buildings outside, adding to the chilled feeling the night was gave way to. I could faintly hear one of the neighbor's cows mooing in protest to
something or other as well. I sat in front of the fireplace before my mother who ran a brush through my long wavy hair in an attempt to tame it. I had been kept indoors for months now for my
protection after an incident that had happened sometime in the middle of the night.
I couldn't really recall what had happened, only that I had woken up on the ground at the edge of the forest to several of the villagers trying to shake me awake. I had a few bloody wounds but
nothing that hadn't healed quickly enough and, thankfully, without infection setting in....
Maybe a little too quickly as even the village doctor had been baffled....
People had begun to grow wary around me as well after a week or so and my mother decided it may be for the best for me to hole myself up inside and away from them which seemed to work out for the
best. Several days after waking up in a daze and covered in blood the sunlight had become much too bright for me to take, almost painful at times. Now, however, it had seemed to evolve past general
discomfort, if I were hit with any sort of sunlight it would burn unbearably until I moved myself out of it. The doctor couldn't say why this happened and he saw no other signs of illness that
could help to pinpoint what was wrong with me.
It was a mystery, one that left the entire town in unease with everything else happening around us. Mysterious happenings and noises and the deaths on top of it all. With everything piling up
suspicions quickly went to the one who was also showing strange signs - me.
I heard a "tutt" behind me breaking me from my thoughts and I attempted to crane my neck around to gaze up at my mother curiously. She merely forced my head back around, albeit gently, to continue
working at the knots and tangles in my hair. "Really, just because you are inside doesn't mean you should neglect your daily care, Garnet."
I shuffled sheepishly before her, tugging at a strand of hair that had fallen over my shoulder, admiring the deep black coloring. I was rather dark-skinned, too. Apparently I got that from my
father's side as my mother was lily-white. I did inherit her deep brown eyes, though I didn't much care for them despite how pretty mother often said they were.
"But no one ever sees me," I pouted, still fixating on that strand of hair in my fingers. I was much too old to be pouting so sullenly but it didn't stop me.
"Nonsense! I see you!" Well, I couldn't deny that so I stayed silent instead. "And I like to see my beautiful baby girl look her best, you know."
"I'm not a child, mother."
"Of course you're not. You're just my only child," sang my mother and I gusted out a sigh in defeat. Mothers had a way of doing that, after all. But really, I was seventeen now, I could be treated
more like an adult by my parent, right?
I quickly realized how ridiculous that sounded, seeing as I was the one having my own mother brush through my hair for me instead of doing it myself. Though there was truth to her words. Since
being stuck indoors, I had taken to neglecting a lot of things, keeping up on hair maintenance being one of those things. It was only due to my mother that I often dragged myself out of bed during
the day, though from time to time, around dusk on his way home the neighbor boy, Luke, would stop for a chat outside my window. Whenever I would see his sandy hair and deep honey colored eyes I
would leap from my pile of wooly blankets and rush to the window in excitement.
Luke always makes fun of me, saying I was much like an over active puppy at those times but I couldn't help it. I missed talking to everyone I had before this mess and he was the only one who
seemed to make an effort to talk to me every now and again. I ignored the fact that he may just be doing it because it wasn't too out of his way since he lived in the house right next to us.
The brush my mother was using stopped running through my hair and I turned to blink back at her only to see her flash me a warm smile as she always did. "You're good to go, dear."
I grumbled my thanks, pulling the itchy blanket that I had bunched around me on the floor up over my shoulders, grateful for the heat it helped to provide. Since autumn had come around the nights
had understandably grown colder, though many of us complained and detested this fact of life each year. It wouldn't be too long before snow lined the ground.
Silence reigned over us, broken only by the howling winds outside and the crackling of the fire before me. After awhile pages turning alerted me to my mother picking up one of her few beloved books
to pass the time. She didn't often find time to read or if she did have it she was much too tired or did not wish to waste a candle to provide adequate light to read by. I assumed she was using the
fire's light to read this night to prevent using up more of our limited supply of candles for the time being.
This left me to my thoughts, my eyes watching the embers intently. As usual my thoughts turned only to that fuzzy night when I had supposedly been attacked... by what? No one seemed to know and if
they did they were hiding it from me well. No matter how hard I tried to recall the events that lead to me being found on the outskirts of town at the forest's edge I was only left with a dull
throbbing in my head and no further clues.
My mother theorized that it had something to do with my brain telling me I wasn't ready for whatever information it held for that event and thus why I couldn't remember. I just wished my brain
would hurry up and decide I was ready so I could think back on it properly! Not knowing was the worst part!
It didn't help that I had not been able to investigate, being kept busy the first few days afterwards and then being kept inside since then. To say it didn't sit well with me would have been a
major understatement, but there hadn't been much I could do just short of sneaking out and honestly I was a little afraid to do that....
Strange things had been happening in the forests as of late, more and more of the villagers and livestock going missing and being found mutilated. Two times now I had awoken with chills at the
sounds of someone screaming in the distance, their voice filled with agony and terror. On a more calm and less frightening level a few villagers woke up with strange scars from time to time, like
the ones I had been found with though they didn't exhibit any of the symptoms I had.
This last fact sadly only brought more accusations aimed my way, hidden behind hands and passed around by whispers.
"Has anyone found that little girl that's gone missing this time?" I asked hesitantly, quietly. I was almost afraid to raise my voice above a whisper as I asked, still staring into the fire. The
sound of the book closing met my ears and I assumed my mother had placed it to the side for now to focus on the conversation before us.
"I'm afraid not, dear...."
I swallowed hard but the lump stuck in my throat wouldn't budge. That'd bring the total of human casualties up to six in just two months. Four girls ranging in ages from twelve to twenty-two and
two boys, both rather young.
Five had been found.
Five had been brought home dead and in pieces, mauled to no end and missing large chunks and most of their insides as if something had eaten them. Howling had once been heard in the far off
distance before this had all started and it made many of us believe that a werewolf was amongst us, but there had been no newcomers to the village that stayed....
If it was a werewolf then it had to be hiding within the forest, using the darkness of night to hide itself well in its hunts. And it seemed to pace out its hunts on the villagers and our
livestock, as they weren't always by night of the full moon but within long stretches of days between one victim and the next. More livestock than human casualties by far were the only blessing in
this mess (though I'm sure a farmer or two would disagree with that!).
If it was a werewolf, did that mean it didn't necessarily have to wait until the time of the full moon for it to transform? Or was it that we were all just getting superstitious and were seeing
things we wanted to see?
I fidgeted at these dreary thoughts but pressed forward still. "Does anyone know what's taking them yet?"
"No, not a clue. Werewolf is still the popular culprit." There was a pause before my mother had answered, as if she was still unsure of the culprit theories as well. This only unnerved me further
and I clutched the blanket tighter around me as if it's scratchy warmth would protect me from everything that meant to do me harm. It was a leftover instinct and thought process from childhood, I
was aware, but it made me feel better.
"What do you think of it all?" I pressed.
"I think.... that things are happening that our sleepy town is not prepared for."
And no matter how had I pressed she refused to answer further. Even when I asked about other strange happenings that I may be missing out on she only sidestepped around the questions. I finally
huffed, burying my nose into the covers, eyes narrowed at the fire as it was dying down. No doubt I would be ushered off to bed soon by a sleepy mother, though with sleeping all day myself while
she was out and about I didn't want this to happen as soon as it undoubtedly would.
And sure enough my thoughts still on the dead villagers, the possible culprit and the mysterious happenings to me I was shooed away from the dying embers and to my small room despite my protesting.
I huffed as I plopped down on the lumpy mattress in defeat, blanket still wrapped around me like an ugly gray cocoon.
I peered out from beneath the folds of the clothe to the closed window, unable to see the big bright moon and the twinkling stars outside as I would have liked. But it was safer to leave it locked
and closed for the time being. As predicted sleep did not claim me easily, my mind still whirling around despite my attempts to squash the thoughts away and drift into dreamland.
I hated not knowing what was going on in the village I was born and raised in. It didn't help that most of the suspicions seemed to be aimed at me, the only one who had been 'attacked' and lived
and I had only found that out from Luke just the other day who had seemed hesitant to tell me this.
But why should I be the one who's getting the blame aimed my way? I hadn't done anything wrong! .... Had I? Honestly, this thought had crossed my mind when Luke had first told me of the suspicions
and now it attacked me mercilessly again causing an unsettling feeling to bury its way into the pit of my stomach where it sat heavily. I couldn't remember the night I was attacked, what if I had
been turned into a werewolf or some other demonic, evil creature and was the one doing all of these attacks? My brain blacked out what had happened that night so theoretically couldn't it do it
again? And my mother, who loved me so much, wouldn't she be willing to shelter me and try to keep things under control? It was definitely something I could see her doing.
I scowled, pulling the blanket over my head with a frustrated huff. I was no closer to answers now than I had been days ago when I first brooded over the entirety of my situation with the news Luke
had given to me.
What seemed like hours later sleep finally claimed me, putting my tumultuous thoughts and theories on hold while I dreamed of a lanky and hairy doggish man with rows of teeth gleaming red from
blood. His hair was matted and stained with blood and dirt. The carcasses of those he had feasted from following after in a neat single file line grotesquely without question and with large joyful
grins upon their faces, as if they couldn't be happier that they were dead....
Several loud thuds jerked me awake in shock, eyes wide as I searched the room for the doggish man in my dream (or was it a nightmare?). Seeing nothing of the sort or the thing's creepy corpses
following after I allowed myself to relax and let loose a yawn. My mind slipped back into the more bleary state one usually awakes with, paranoia having left my body after realization kicked in.
Rapping from my window drew my attention to it seconds later, however, and I paused, blinking as my mind tried to work faster than it was, still slow from sleep. With a groan I left the cozy bed
and made my way to the window where I ignored the fact that I was still dressed inappropriately in my night gown as I flung it open.
I blinked, whimpering at the pain that wracked my body as the sun filtered right into my face. I shielded my eyes with my arms, clamping my mouth hard around any other sounds of pains. I inspected
who stood at my window through squinted eyes.
He looked exhausted with dark circles under his eyes and his shoulders sagged as he breathed in great mouthfuls of morning air. He must of run here from wherever he had previously been, the sun
already high in the sky, closer towards noontime rather than morning. His vest and button up shirt were rumpled and his tie sat crookedly at his shirt collar, the brown and black ribbon trailing
down his chest.
My brow snapped together in worry at his appearance. "What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry I know you're sensitive to sun now-a-days anymore, Garnet, but god damn, you have to know-"
"Know what?!" I snapped, impatient. It seemed as if he was both hurrying to tell me what he knew and shirking around it all at the same time. Luke shook his head as he straightened, his breath
finally slowing to a more normal pace.
"They found that little girl, Anna." If anything he looked even worse for wear after telling me this piece of information. His shoulders sagged further as a sigh heaved through his nose heavily.
"Garnet, it's.... it's bad."
"How bad....?" Fear ran through my mind, causing my hands to shake and my heart to begin hammering against my ribs. All manner of horrid thoughts rushed through my head.
"There was barely anything left of her.... Her brother's going mad with grief." I choked back the lump that had reinforced its existence in my throat.
"John was hoping she'd be alive?" My voice was breathless at this news, there was no way he could've believed that to be true! Not with the track record with the others thus far.... I shuffled
closer to the side of the window, away from the sunlight streaming in and sighed in relief as the burning subsided now that I was immersed in shadows. I still kept my eyes narrowed against the
brightness the light filtered in provided, however, and I was sure my exposed skin would be a vivid red from burns for the rest of the day.
Luke nodded, running a hand through his hair. He heaved a sigh and I instantly felt worse. The dreaded feeling one receives in the face of some un-Godly horror settling into my chest making it feel
as if my breathing was constricted. John was one of Luke's best friends, it shouldn't surprise me to see him in such a haggard state over Anna's death. "He was hoping it'd be like when you were
I was honestly speechless at this, not because of the hope that John had held but because I didn't know how to react. What could one possibly say in this situation to make it better? "Don't worry,
life will go on" just seemed like too heartless a thing to say in the grief presented to me now.
Several seconds of silence passed, the air thick with tension. The tickle I always experienced in the back of my throat now-a-days called to my attention in that timeframe and I cleared my throat
in an attempt to lessen it. As predicted it did nothing to it and I would have to wait until mother's tea to calm it back down.
Luke finally looked back up; he licked his lips as if preparing himself to say something more. I tilted my head curiously, silently insisting he go on.
"There's more though. Someone woke up today with strange marks over his shoulder." He gestured to my own shoulder. I bit my lip, placing a hand over it as if to hide it further behind not only my
hand but the night gown that hid the pale scars. "They're watching him for the strange signs that you've shown."
"Who was it?" I couldn't help but ask that question, the words rushing out of their own accord. Already Annabelle, James, Tony and Edward had awoken in the past months with scars like mine and they
had all been watched closely. No symptoms that I had were shared between any of them though except for a mild case of photosensitivity to the sunlight on brighter days.
This strangeness from my own attack, being kept indoors by my mother and a strange craving for.... I didn't know what.... I really didn't.... But it went away for a time, until the next day at
least, when I ate and drank what my mother provided to me. But it wasn't the food or drink that my mother prepared that I was craving, and I knew it....
It seemed as if I craved something... darker. Something sinful to crave for....
"It was Daniel Summers, you remember him? The one who's cattle has taken a hard hit with all the attacks?"
I nodded; I did remember him. A good handful of his livestock had been found eaten and mutilated on top of the murders, after all. He was a good man who didn't deserve that done to his livestock
which he depended on to earn income with and support his family on. The conversation lapsed into silence once again and Luke shifted from foot to foot as if nervous.
"So...." I paused, glancing away as I racked my brain for a topic to change to. Something less morbid and horrifying, for sure! I did my best to ignore the chill setting in from the open window
sapping the warmth from my body without mercy. I didn't want Luke leaving just yet, after all! "How's the family?"
The question sounded like a lame one to follow up with, even to my own ears. Though Luke seemed to embrace it with eagerness to get his mind away from dark, sorrowful thoughts. A smile lightened up
his handsome face.
"Oh, they're good! James is always picking on Amy, but that's usual. And Pochi is also yapping up a storm at any tiny noise at night now. I think the tension is starting to get to the animals,
too!" I couldn't help but laugh at the image of the tiny terrier that was Pochi barking and snarling at the front door over leaves rustling or a about a little mouse scurrying by.
"At least your family's safe," I smiled, reaching out and ignoring the burning sensation again as I grasped one of his large calloused hands in my own.
Luke smiled back gingerly, running a thumb over my skin before he pulled away. His smile turned sheepish as I allowed my hands to drop to my sides. He stepped back from the window then and I could
only assume he had seen the redness of my skin. "Ah, sorry to make you endure...." Luke gestured up at the sky to indicate the sunlight and I chuckled at how embarrassed he looked over this. Since
my condition, that doctors couldn't find a cure or reason for, he had taken to dropping by when the sun dipped low and wouldn't shine in on me through my window. The events that he had informed me
of warranted enough leeway to endure it, however. I was grateful for it. Luke was cooperative enough to take time out of his day to do so when he was already so busy.
"It's alright. I'm glad you dropped by; I get a bit lonely without Pumpkun around," I admitted. Now it was my turn to fidget shyly. I fought to stop myself from avoiding his gaze, though I failed
at this and mentally winced.
"Pumpkun run off again?" Luke chuckled. I stuck my tongue out at him immaturely.
"I miss my little Pumpkun! I just hope he comes home soon!"
"Shut it, you!"
Luke chortled at me again, clearly not intimidated by me. "Of course I will! When I get my fair share of teasing in."
I huffed. "You're just jealous that Pumpkun is better than Pochi!"
His jaw dropped in mock appall and he had to fight hard to keep the grin off his face as he placed a hand on his chest. "What a low blow! To insult the cutest of puppies!"
"Pumpkun is just that amazing," I continued on and even though we both knew that it was a joke - one we often had at each other's expanse, that being debates over who's pet was best - I couldn't
hide the pride in my voice.
Soon after, Luke was forced to leave to continue on with his daily chores as was the usual. He was busy after all, helping to bring in extra money to support his family despite being the middle
child of three. I was rather sad to see him go but he promised to visit again, no matter how briefly, at the end of the day. I smiled broadly as I waved a good bye from the safety of the shadows of
my room. He blew a sarcastic kiss my way before turning and hurrying down the street, dodging around children, adults and the occasional dog or chicken that ran through and around people's legs.
I was rather appreciative that he had turned and rushed off after he did so or Luke would have mercilessly teased me about embarrassed I had gotten at his sarcastic show of affection. With the
window closed I was left in the shadows that resided in my room. I placed a hand to my chest, embarrassment evident in my grin as I muttered aloud;
"Hey, heart, can you settle down?"
The voice caused me to jump, hoping I had not been overheard as I turned to glimpse none other than my mother in the doorway, inquisitive look on her face. She was a beautiful woman, even though
she was aging. Her dark brown, nearly black, hair was pulled back out of her face in a thick braid though it was beginning to gray at her temples. Large rounded eyes blinked at me and fit well with
her kind demeanor as did the freckles that dotted her pale cheeks and nose.
"Who were you speaking to?" Was that nervousness in her voice? Why should my mother be nervous about someone speaking to me? Was there something I had missed or didn't know?
Shaking the questions that now plagued my mind away I instead answered her that Luke had come to visit briefly. Her smile seemed to become more genuine which only led to add more to my confusion
though I didn't dwell on it for too long.
"Have you seen Pumpkun lately?"
"That dirty cretin?" I huffed at the insult to my beloved pet and mother chuckled at my expense. She waved a hand before her as if to dismiss any insult she may have meant. "I'm sure he'll be back
soon! He always seems to return."
"Come now, don't worry too much." She moved further into my room, wrapping me up in a loose hug despite my half-hearted protesting. My face stung where the burnt skin made contact with the fabric
of mother's dress. "Hurry and get dressed, lunch is waiting in the kitchen for you. You already slept through breakfast, you naughty girl!"
I sighed, as she pulled away picking at the thin white clothe that I adorned. "But why? I don't leave the house...." I missed the sorrowful expression that darted over my mother's face at this
before I looked up again. She tucked some of my hair behind my ear and I smiled despite myself. I really missed wandering around the village.
"Everything will be fine."
This promise puzzled me as it didn't seem to fit the conversation we had just been having about my state of dress. She left before I could ask her about it or turn the conversation to something
else, something more trivial or meaningful. I stared after her in the opened door way of our dim home, extra clothe thrown over windows to keep it darker inside for my 'sun allergy' as my mother
liked to call it now.
Never the less I dressed in my usual dress, throwing on my boots only for warmth as I wouldn't be going anywhere. I adorned my favorite red hooded cloak as well, snuggling into it contently as I
finally wandered out of my room to the kitchen where delicious smells of mother's cooking wafted to my nose. But even as I smelled the food there was some underlying scent, something I couldn't
place. The strange craving hit me full force when the smell hit my nose and my stomach growled loudly, informing me just how hungry I really was.
All other thoughts left me and for the time being I was happy with that, content to stuff my face and rid myself of the disturbing craving that plagued me.
© Copyright 2016 EVU. All rights reserved.