A week ago if you told me that if in a week I would be running for my life from a monster of legend, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the truth is I am.
It all started when my English teacher announced that we would be starting a project to finish off our folklore unit. So Mrs. Esslong started to name off our partners that we were going to have for the project, “Jean Smith and Hugh Fengu. Warren Blackheart and Shila Margon. Matthew Gold and Levina Cooper.”
When Mrs. Esslong mentioned that I would be paired with Matthew Gold, I swear my heart skipped a few beats. When I glanced at Matthew, he gave me a small smile. I had to calm myself down… I mean he was only the most popular guy in school and I had no idea what he is really like. I mean he could be as stupid as the other jocks or he could have an extremely dark personality. I was jolted back to reality when my teacher announced the date our projects were due… in one week. Then the bell rang.
As I was heading towards the door, Matthew caught up with me. “So um, I was wondering if you would like to go to the library tomorrow night.”
“Why tomorrow night? Why not tonight?” I asked him, genuinely curious.
“I have a late practice tonight and an early one tomorrow. Sorry,” Matthew added looking sorry.
“OK… um I guess I’ll see you later Matthew.”
“You can call me Matt.”
“Fine. See ya Matt.”
“See ya,” Matt said and we went opposite directions.
The next night we were at the public library trying to figure out what our project was going to be about. I had started wandering through the nine foot shelves. I had reached the brick wall at the very back of the library when an old leather bound book caught my eyes. I took out off the shelf and opened it. It obviously hadn’t been touched in a very long time, and then I noticed the title: A guide to the legendary creatures of our world. I knew what Matt and I were going to do our project on; I just had to get Matt’s approval. When I got back to the table we were working at, I placed the book down in front of me and sat down.
“What do you have there?” Matt asked noticing what I had brought to our table.
“It’s a book called A guide to the Legendary Creatures of our World.”
“Did you say legendary?”
“Yeah. Why? Do you think we should make this the base of our project?”
“Totally. I think we sho-“
He was cut off midsentence by the librarian swooping over to them. “It’s nearly ten o’clock, the library is about to close,” she said stiffly.
“OK. What are you doing tomorrow night?” I asked turning to Matt and packing up my stuff.
“I have practice until 5:30. Why don’t we plan on meeting here at 5:30?” Matt replied.
“OK. Or we could meet at the Green Café.”
“That’s fine by me since, I normally can’t get anything to eat until I get home at like ten o’ clock at night,” Matt said as we were leaving.
“I normally don’t eat at home,” I mentioned as we started walking to our houses.
“Really. Why not?”
“I’m having troubles at home,” I mumbled.
“What sort of troubles?” he asked me, looking concerned.
“I’m not getting along with my mom at the moment, and my dad is leaving for Afghanistan soon.”
“You’re dad is in the military?” Matt asked surprised.
“Yeah… the Army. He made an obstacle course in our backyard that he makes me go through every day. At the moment my dad is like the only one who understands me, and now he’s leaving. My brother is already in Afganistan right now."
“Wow, that’s sad. I’m sorry that it’s like that.”
“It’s not that bad. I’m at school most of the weekdays, work on the weekends, and spend my evenings at the library.”
“Yeah, I know. I see you coming out of the library and walking home alone a lot.” He added at my confused look. We stopped in front of my house and he asked me, “Well this is where you live right?”
“Yes it is. Are you going to be all right walking the three houses down the street?”
“I think I should. I mean what could really happen between here and there. See you tomorrow Levina.”
“See ya tomorrow Matt.”
The next night I met Matt at Green Café. And we ate some sandwiches and juice. Matt pulled out his wallet, “Check please.”
“Don’t worry Matt, I’ll get it,” I offered, pulling out my purse.
“I couldn’t possibly let you get it.”
“Yes you can, because it will be cheaper on both of us.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I have an employee’s discount,” I mentioned, a smile coming onto my face.
“You work here? Well then go ahead and pay for our meal.” He said as the check came and I started laying down the cash.
“So we better get working,” I mentioned after we moved to the casual sitting area with our stuff.
“Yeah. Any idea of what type of project we should do.”
“No. I have absolutely no idea. I mean we could do a poster or an essay or a brochure or a information booklet.”
“We should do a newspaper,” Matt mentioned suddenly.
“You know that’s not a bad idea,” I said, nodding my head, and following his gaze to the stack of newspapers on a nearby table.
“So we’re doing a newspaper.” Matt then pulled out his laptop and we set to work on our project.
“It’s nearly ten, we should head home,” Matt said while still working on our newspaper.
“You’re right,” I agreed putting away my supplies including the book.
“I know I am,” Matt replied putting away his laptop and papers.
“Smug aren’t you,” I mentioned as we were leaving.
“Come on, I know a shortcut,” Matt told me and headed off in the opposite direction to the way I normally go.
“Where are you going?” I asked trying to catch up.
“Along the path, next to the Old Wood Reserve.”
“It cuts the walk down by about ten minutes.”
“OK. Let’s go,” I replied with enthusiasm. “So last night, I told you about me… now it’s your turn to tell me about yourself.”
He glanced at me then said bitterly, “The whole school already knows about me. What is there to tell?”
“So you don’t like being popular?” I asked, surprised.
“No I don’t. I hate the pressure of being perfect all the time. This may surprise you, but I don’t really get that much time to myself with school, home, and practice. That’s why on weekends I spend most of my time here at the Old Wood.”
“So what do you do here?”
“I wander around on the trails and I sometimes bring other things to do.”
“Because it’s nice to forget the stresses of everyday life. The stress of High School. It’s wonderful to escape everybody and be myself.”
“Ahhh…Matthew Gold has a soft side.”
“I’ve always had a soft side.”
“I suppose you do have a soft side. But how often do you actually show it?”
“Not that often. People don’t actually get to know me as a person. They want to know Matthew Gold the star basketball player, Matthew Gold the prom king, Matthew Gold the most popular guy in High School.”
“Well, what is Matthew Gold the person like?” I asked entranced
“He’s a smart, caring, person who is down to earth and an animal lover.”
“Are you being smug again?”
“Maybe. This is surprising, but you’re an extremely understanding person and I find it easy to talk to you.”
“Ummm thank you. I’m glad I got to know the real you. I’ve never really told anyone about what’s happening at home at the moment. So thanks.”
All of a sudden a dark shadow crossed the path in front of us. Matt and I looked up, we couldn’t see the person’s face, but the stature was undeniable. And the voice confirmed it. “What are you doing here?”
“Hello Warren. Surprise seeing you here,” Matt recovered first, trying to drag me around Warren so we could look at him.
“What are you doing here?” Warren Blackheart repeated again with ice edging his voice.
“We were just walking home,” I replied trying to get the same iciness. I also noticed Warren kept glancing up at the clouds that were hiding the moon.
“You shouldn’t be here,” growled Warren, giving me goosebumbs.
“W-,” I was cut off by Matt, who finally got to be able to look into Warren’s hostile face.
“Do you mean just her, or both of us?” Matt asked with a hint of a threat underlying his words.
“Just her,” Warren replied with the voice of a threat evident.
“Um, guys I’m still here,” I interrupted their glaring contest. They both glanced at me as a dog started barking in the distance. At the sound Matt and I both jumped on the other hand Warren perked up.
“Levina, let’s go home,” said Matt not taking his eyes off of Warren’s gleaming eyes as he guided me toward our destination.
“Not so fast,” Warren replied in a voice that could freeze the Caribbean as he stepped in front of us again. “She can go.”
“I am not going to leave you two to kill each other,” I replied with such ferocity that both of them looked at me surprised.
“Fine, then suffer the consequences,” Warren spat out venomously as he glanced up at the cloud hiding the moon. This time he didn’t take his eyes away from it.
Now I was starting to back away towards the woods dragging a reluctant Matt with me, my mind racing. Just as the moon broke through the clouds, two things happened simultaneously: Warren went rigid as he was staring at the moon, and it clicked.
“Matt,” I whispered in a voice as soft as the wind, scared out of my mind for our lives.
“Yeah?” he replied just as quiet once he realized the tone of my voice.
“Run!” I said a little louder taking off towards the woods.
I heard Matt following me without question and he effortlessly caught up with me. And that brings me to right now.
It’s so eerie with the full moon filtering through the leaves, the ominous wind picking up, and the loud howling behind us. As we were running past hardwood trees, weaving in and out of the shadows cast by the massive trees that surrounded us, and jumping over fallen half-decaying logs, I felt the adrenaline and fear pumping through my veins. The silence, which was barely broken by our passage, was unbearable. It seemed like an eternity before Matt spoke, so when it came out it sounded harsh and loud.
“So why are we running through a nature reserve in the dead of night? I mean I could’ve easily taken Warren.”
“You’re being smug again. And I know you could on any other normal day,” I replied as we jumped over a log.
“What do you mean normal?” Matt asked, confusion plainly evident in his voice.
“I mean that tonight wasn’t a coincidence, he wasn’t his normal self. He positioned himself so that he could ambush you without too much interference,” I replied answering between breaths.
“Oh,” he replied as he dropped off into thought. Eventually he said, “Thank you.”
“Why are you thanking me?” I asked, my turn to be confused.
“You interfered and wouldn’t leave.” He lapsed into silence again before asking, “How far do you think we’ve gone?”
As soon as he said it, I realized that my breathing was getting heavier, the same with his. “I think we’ve gone a mile, maybe a mile and a half.”
“Why are we running? I don’t think you answered my other questions about why.” He asked as I noticed our pace slackening slightly.
“To escape Warren,” I replied evenly, when I thought that it was obvious.
“OK,” he replied sounding like he didn’t really get it yet. We came across a small clearing in the heart of the woods, “We should stop and rest.”
Then we heard a twig crack behind us and a growling sound that was too close for comfort. Both Matt and I turned around extremely slowly. And stepping from the trees was the creature of nightmares, a dark shadow that kept creeping through dreams, a figment of imagination, a legend.
I stifled a scream and instinctively moved closer to Matt, who had stepped forward slightly to hide as much as me as possible.
“Is this Warren?” Matt whispered so quiet I could barely hear him.
“Uh huh,” I answered in the same quiet voice, because I couldn’t bring myself to say anything else in danger’s face.
“Um, I’m guessing that we can’t run again,” Matt replied not daring to look away.
“Nope, though I’ve read about them,” I mentioned remembering why I knew.
“Really, where?” Matt asked surprised.
“Always the tone of surprise,” I mentioned drily. “In the legendary creature book.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, he’s a mutant human shape shifter.”
“Any way to stop him?”
“Um, I’m not sure. I guess we’ll just have to fight him, since we don’t have any weapons.”
“All right,” Matt mentioned trying to stay as still as possible.
We waited in silence for a few minutes as Warren circled us, we never took our eyes off him. Warren finally stopped and hesitated, and then he lunged. We split to the sides, and then Warren turned to Matthew and approached him. Matt backed up until he a tree was at his back. When the werewolf ran at him, Matt jumped upon the werewolf’s head and used the werewolf’s momentum to push him across the small clearing to me, while the werewolf bashed his head against the tree.
Matt turned towards me, “I’ve seen that done in movies but I didn’t think it would actually work.”
Hearing Matt’s voice the werewolf turned back to us, slightly disoriented but angrier than ever. Something moved in the shadows above the werewolf, a moment later the creature revealed itself.
“Squirrel!” I yelled.
At my voice the werewolf turned around, fixed his eyes on his target, perked up and took off after the squirrel.
“What in the world was that about?” Matt asked in a voice that matched my confusion.
“I have no idea,” I replied, genuinely having no idea. “Maybe it’s just a basic animal instinct. Either way lets go home.”
“I agree,” Matt said, sounding relieved as we started towards the opposite side of the clearing.
“Wait a moment,” I said as dread crept into my voice and every single vein in my body.
“What is it now?” Matt asked sounding a little concerned at my voice.
“Look,” I said in a voice that clearly dripped with fear as I pointed at the Werewolf coming back. It stopped when it realized we were there. It looked at us then started running towards us again. It was almost upon us when I had a sudden crazy idea.
“Halt,” I said in the most commanding voice I could muster. It halted.
“Sit,” it sat.
“Roll over,” it rolled over.
“Stay,” it looked at me with sad eyes. I whispered to Matt, “Let’s go.”
We walked out of the clearing and then sprinted all the through the woods and straight to the doors of our houses.
The next day after school, Matt and I confronted Warren.
“Hey Warren,” Matt called as Warren made to escape into the throng of people leaving the school. “We need to talk to you.”
“What do you want?” Warren replied warily.
“Well first off, why did you try to kill us?”
“I only wanted to hurt you, not her.”
“Why?” I asked, since Matt was clearly unable to speak past his shock.
“Because you’re perfect,” Warren spoke with a sigh of resignation.
“I’m far from perfect,” Matt said finally finding his voice.
Warren shook his head in disbelief and warily asked, “What else do you want?”
“Like you don’t know,” I said.
“What are you talking about?” Warren asked confused.
“You’re a werewolf,” Matt said, stating the obvious.
“Yeah. So what?” Warren asked, not caring.
“Nothing, just thought we’d straighten that out. We’ll just leave,” I said. As we were leaving school I glanced at Matt and couldn’t help but smiling. I finally felt optimistic for the future, and I’ll start by making amends with my mother.
© Copyright 2017 Alexsundria Ember. All rights reserved.
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