The Demon Who Cried Werewolf

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hellbent on vengeance, Jamie Milner -- Queen of the Ducaine, Louisiana Pack -- tracks the serial murderer that killed her husband down, but finds that there is more to him than meets the eye.

Submitted: April 23, 2014

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Submitted: April 23, 2014

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Heated by the sweltering Louisiana sun, the inside of Morrell’s Garage felt like an oven. It stank of grease, rusted metal, and ten years worth of accumulated dust and rat droppings, but underneath those nose-wrinkling odors was another smell -- one that I was way too familiar with: blood. The flat, metallic scent was faint – practically undetectable – but it still tainted the musty, humid air and confirmed my suspicions that the garage had been a killing ground for quite awhile. If luck and the gods were on my side, it would serve as Stephen Radcliffe’s final resting place before nightfall.

The garage had been closed for a decade, but it was far from empty. Radcliffe had turned it into a macabre museum, a twisting labyrinth of cheap, pressed-wood bookcases crammed with mementos. Each life that he had snuffed out was represented, one keepsake per victim. Here was a pair of expensive mirrored aviator sunglasses, one lens marred by a single jagged crack; there was a child’s toy, a once-plush teddy bear, its fur matted and stained, its black button eyes staring lifelessly. I stopped counting after awhile. I didn’t want to know how many people Radcliffe had murdered in his lifetime. The mere thought of it filled my mouth with a sour taste, but it was hard not to think about all of the lives lost – their futures cut short without remorse -- with their killer’s collection all around, almost taunting me. It was depressing and infuriating all at the same time.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to clear my mind of any extraneous thoughts and focus on the task at hand. The only victim that I cared about was Michael.

Michael.

I repeated his name inside my head like a mantra as I crept through the garage in a crouch, balancing on the balls of my bare feet, moving in absolute silence. Most of the windows had been blacked out with paint, aluminum foil, and particle board, but the lack of light didn’t bother me. Being a werewolf did have some advantages. Straining my ears, I listened for any telltale sign that Radcliffe might have already returned, but the garage was quiet except for the muted sound of rodents playing hide-and-seek amidst Radcliffe’s collection, the soft scuffling punctuated by the occasional rattle from outside as the wind vibrated the corrugated tin roof.

I slipped around the corner of one trophy case, trying to ignore the glassy-eyed stare of the Victoria era porcelain doll that stood there, and came face to face with a feral-looking woman with dark, tousled hair and flashing eyes the color of amber. I jerked backward in surprise, my uncanny reflexes already throwing my body into defensive mode, but the growl caught in my throat as I realized that I was looking at my own reflection.

The woman in the mirror bore little resemblance to the perpetually optimistic girl-next-door that I had been prior to Michael’s murder. Dressed in threadbare denims shorts and a cropped black tank that looked painted on, my bare legs and arms were taut, the muscles glistening with sweat. I looked sleek and positively predatory. Frowning, I stared at myself in the filthy glass, mourning the loss of what might have been, unable to stop the memories of happier times from flooding back.

Despite the risks and complications involved whenever two shapeshifters mated, Michael and I had been trying to conceive. No matter how often he had teased me that he was probably going to die from exhaustion or dehydration before I ever got pregnant, he had never put up much of a fight whenever I dragged him to the bedroom. Or the living room. Or the backyard.

After every negative test, I had lapsed into a dark funk, certain that I’d never be a mother. I became almost impossible to live with, a true bitch in every sense of the word, but Michael had never faltered. His love and his faith in us had remained strong. Michael, my rock. 

And now he was gone forever.

I shoved the painful memories aside, forcing them back into the dark recesses of my mind. Later on, after Radcliffe was dead, I could dwell on them as much as I wanted, but until then I couldn’t allow myself to get distracted. With one final glance at the woman that I had become, I melted back into the Stygian darkness, heading toward the heart of the garage.

It wasn’t hard to follow the blood spoor to its source, a twelve-by-twelve clearing amidst Radcliffe’s treasures. An old-fashioned barber’s chair outfitted with straps and buckles – his altar -- sat in the center of the clearing, bolted to the discolored concrete floor. The chair’s upholstery was cracked and torn, the once cream-colored leather stained with years of spilled blood and other things. I swore that I could almost hear Radcliffe’s victims’ screams and pleas echoing inside my mind. I took a deep breath to steady myself and immediately wished that I hadn’t; the thick, overwhelming stench of death hit me like a truck.

Gagging, I dropped to my knees, trying to concentrate on not losing my lunch. It’s hard to be an avatar of rage, hell-bent on vengeance, when you’re desperately trying not to puke. Little by little, I got myself under control, but I didn’t need a mental reminder that deep breaths this close to Radcliffe’s altar was a bad idea. The pain and anguish that he had caused his victims prior to their deaths was overwhelming. It hung in the air like a thick, wet shroud, smothering any positive energy that it encountered. The tiny hairs at the nape of my neck rose and gooseflesh dotted my arms from the psychic feedback. With tears in my eyes, I made a vow – the same vow that I had made at Michael’s gravesite. I was going to kill that son-of-a-bitch Radcliffe one way or another.

A sudden noise, the musical sound of a small metallic object tinkling against the concrete floor directly in front of me, jerked me out of my reverie. Somehow Radcliffe had gotten the drop on me. Cursing myself for lowering my guard, my eyes snapped open, my mind already preparing itself for the worst.

Or so I thought.

Nothing in my darkest nightmares could ever compare to what I saw in front of me, still slowly rolling around on the floor. My vision swam in and out of focus, blurring along the edges. For one long, terrifying moment I thought I was going to black out, but I managed not to. My stomach did a sickening flip-flop and for a second time I clamped my jaws shut to keep from getting sick. If I hadn’t already been on my knees, I would have toppled over like a marionette with its strings severed. Tremors racked my entire body as I reached forward to take the bait.

Even speckled with flecks of dried blood, Michael’s wedding ring was unmistakable. The words Forever Yours were inscribed on the inside curve of the white gold band, a larger version of my own ring. Michael’s ring had been the one thing that the cops had never recovered.

 “A pity you didn’t wear yours. I could have had a matching set.”

Radcliffe’s suave, Ivy League voice was like a shot of adrenaline. My heart exploded into action like a Michael Bay-directed special effect, filling my legs and arms with strength once again. A low, bestial growl trickled from my throat, rising up from my very core. Belying the rage bubbling just beneath the surface, I gently laid Michael’s ring down on the floor and stood up to face my husband’s murderer.

Tall and broad-shouldered with a toned, athletic build, Stephen Radcliffe looked more like a Men’s Health cover model than a remorseless serial killer. Fashionably short dark hair crowned a handsome face dominated by pale blue eyes, sculpted cheekbones, and soft, sensual lips. Such a beautiful monster.

He casually dusted off one shoulder of his somber gray blazer and smirked. “I was beginning to worry that I hadn’t left enough bread crumbs for you to find me. I’ve been waiting.”

“Ditto,” I said, biting the word off so it was a snarl. My hands ached to rip that conceited look off his face. My fingertips pulsated in rhythm with my pounding heart, forcing me to suppress my rage. At least for the moment.

“Oh, I know. I saw you slinking around in the shadows, tailing me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to be amused or annoyed.”

“Try scared.”

He laughed and shook his head. “Yeah – that’s not going to happen.” His smile faded a little. “I take such pride in covering my tracks, so I’m curious. What gave me away?”

Normally, I would have replied with a quip or a nicely timed insult, but I was done playing games. Besides, up until that moment, I hadn’t been one hundred percent sure where he had gotten his power, but he had just unknowingly given me the key to his own execution. “Your scent.”

He cocked an eyebrow, a corner of his mouth turned up. “Polo Black?”

“No. Your scent.” Even the pleasant fragrance of the expensive Ralph Lauren cologne couldn’t entirely mask his true smell, a stomach-churning mixture of fevered flesh, rotting meat, and sulfur. It had been Michael’s detection of Radcliffe’s true nature that had gotten him murdered.

“That’s rather quite troubling,” he said with a sigh, casually pacing back and forth.  “Your husband mentioned something about that . . . right before I turned him into Kibble-and-Bits.”

I followed with my eyes, eager for him to attack, but he seemed content to just talk, taunting me so that I’d make the first move. I hated to admit it, but it was starting to work. The tension was beginning to wear on my nerves, making it more and more difficult to hold back. My skin seemed too tight, nearly binding. I rolled my shoulders to loosen them as I waited for Radcliffe to spill his guts. Figuratively. Then, I’d spill them literally.

He stopped and faced me, hands nonchalantly tucked into the front pockets of his designer jeans. “So, how did it feel finding what was left of Michael?” His smirk turned into a full-fledged grin and for an instant I could almost see another face – emaciated and disfigured with a gaping maw full of shark-teeth -- peering at me from behind his cover model good looks. “If it is any consolation, he didn’t die easily.”

“You won’t either.”

He uttered a curt, mocking laugh. “You’ve been watching too many movies, sweetheart.” His grin widened, lips thinning into bloodless lines against teeth that were abruptly bigger and sharper than they should have been. “This isn’t Hollywood, bitch!” he spat. “This is the real world. And in the real world, the bad guys always win!”

My canines sprang out, flooding my mouth with blood and saliva. The need to rend and tear was nearly too strong. It took every ounce of willpower that I could muster to drive my Beast back into its cage. I couldn’t allow myself to lose focus now. I had to stick with the plan. “Must be pretty easy to win when you’re a cop.”

“It’s the perfect cover, cutie pie. I kill some pathetic loser – like your husband, Michael – and dump the body in some shit-hole of a town.” His head twitched spastically like a vulture hopped up on crystal meth. “Then, the local yokels call in an expert.”

“And you conveniently get the chance to destroy any evidence that would implicate yourself.”

Radcliffe grinned like a politician making a campaign promise, the corners of his mouth splitting bloodlessly until they almost reached his earlobes. Underneath his trendy clothes, his body bulged and shifted as his true self bubbled to the surface, his human form struggling to contain it.

I could relate.

With an audible pop, his left shoulder dislocated as his arm telescoped out several extra inches. “Isn’t life grand?”

“I’m going to kill you,” I growled, dropping into a crouch, muscles already tensed to leap.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

Then, he vanished into thin air.

I froze, my mouth hanging open stupidly, my mind racing. I thought I had been prepared, but Radcliffe had surprised me again. How the hell was I supposed to kill something that could disappear at will? He had to be there somewhere! My nostrils flared, trying to catch his scent.

In the span of a single heartbeat, he reappeared directly in front of me, his arm already in motion. The punch took me just below the ribs on the left side with the force of a sledgehammer, lifting me completely off my feet and driving the air from my lungs in an explosive gasp. Before I could even register the pain, he hit me again with a right cross that snapped my head to the side and dislocated my jaw. Blinding, white-hot pain burst through my skull and my knees unhinged.

Like a bird of prey, Radcliffe swooped in for the kill. He became a whirling dervish, each kick and stomp landing with enough power to shatter concrete. Muscles were pulped, organs ruptured,  bones fractured. The pain became a living, breathing thing that consumed me. I curled into a ball, trying to protect myself as much as I could. I clung to consciousness with my fingertips, knowing that I’d end up on Radcliffe’s altar if I blacked out. That thought helped me endure the beating.

After an eternity, he finally stopped and stepped back to admire his handiwork. “Are you still alive, cutie pie?” His voice sounded thick and mucousy, his breathing labored. “I’m just getting started with you.”

I swallowed a curse along with a mouthful of blood.  Every tiny movement – even breathing – was agonizing. It felt like I had been thrown into a trash compactor after being trampled by wild elephants. I shifted my head slightly to look at him, but it was a wasted effort. My left eye was swollen completely shut and the right one refused to focus.

“Is . . . that . . . the best . . . you’ve got?” I managed to gurgle. It might have been clichéd as hell, but it was the best I could come up with under the circumstances. If my fingers and arms hadn’t been broken, I would have flipped him the bird.

Radcliffe glared down at me, genuinely flustered. Maybe he was used to his victims just rolling over and playing dead or begging for their lives. If so, he was in for a rude awakening; I wasn’t going to roll over and offer my belly to anyone, especially not him. He bared his razor-sharp teeth in a sneer and stomped down on my left hand, grinding it  under his foot into the unyielding concrete. A jolt of fresh pain shot down the length of my arm, but I refused to cry out. I met his eyes and gave him a lopsided, swollen-lipped smirk.

It hurt like hell, but I blocked it out. The funny thing about pain is that eventually it reaches a plateau and levels off, becoming tolerable. People that suffer from severe, chronic pain – like arthritis – can endure levels of pain that would ordinarily be debilitating.

And if there’s one thing that I know all too well, it’s pain.

With an ape-like grunt, he took a teetering, unsteady step backward and continued to glare, giving me the chance to get a good look at what he had become. He was barely recognizable. His once-tan and toned flesh was now sallow, the color of bad dough. His skull was swollen and deformed, his features warped into a madman’s caricature of a human face. The worst part was that his eyes still remained untouched by the physical and spiritual corruption that had perverted him.

That’s if you didn’t count the rampant, bat-shit crazy gleam in them.

As horrific as his face was, his body had undergone an even more extreme transformation. His upper torso was twisted forward at an angle, the right shoulder rising higher than his head. His left shoulder drooped, his abnormally long arm dangling all the way to the floor. “I’m actually glad you’re still alive,” he slurred, the tip of his oily, black tongue darting out to wet his lips. “That just means I’ll have to get inventive.” He chuckled, a sound like sludge bubbling up from a clogged drain. “Lucky you.”

He punctuated his statement with a sharp kick to my ribs that sent me rolling across the floor like a possum clipped by a pickup on the highway, leaving bloody Rorschach blots on the concrete in my wake.  I fetched up against Radcliffe’s altar hard enough to rattle my teeth and send stars pin-wheeling in front of my eyes. Leave it to me to collide with the only thing in the room sturdier than a flimsy Walmart bookcase. Above me the barber chair’s steel buckles jingled and jangled from the impact as I tried to breath normally, an act made impossible thanks to at least one punctured lung. I coughed, gagging as blood filled my throat. I was too damaged to keep playing Radcliffe’s sadistic game. One way or another, it was time to end this.

Gritting my teeth, I wormed the broken fingers of my right hand into the hip pocket of my shorts to make sure that my ace-in-the-hole was still there, but I didn’t feel it. For the first time, I panicked and began wriggling my hand deeper into the pocket, praying to anyone or anything that might be listening that it was still there. In my mind’s eye, I could see it laying on the floor, dislodged from my pocket while I was doing my graceless impersonation of roadkill. If it had fallen out, I was dead meat. The only consolation was that I’d be with Michael again. My Beast bellowed at the thought of unfulfilled vengeance, begging to be unfettered. I let out a long, shuddering breath, preparing to give in. Better to go out in a killing dance of savagery than --

My fingertips brushed something hard to the touch that sent a shock of heat throughout my entire hand, inflicting the kind of torment that even Radcliffe’s beating hadn’t accomplished. As brief as it was, that single touch brought tears – not of pain, but of gratitude – to my eyes. Maybe the gods had heeded my prayers after all. Steeling myself for the excruciating agony to come, I closed my hand around it, hissing in spite of myself.

“Now, now,” Radcliffe said as he leaned down over me, one of his bony fingers sliding delicately across my cheek to brush an errant strand of hair behind my ear like a concerned parent. “Don’t waste all of those precious tears just yet. You’re going to suffer so much more, before I let you die. You will beg me to end your life.”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that he needed his victims’ fear. Their deaths might have been for the scumbag deity that he served, but their fear – that was just for him. Like icing on the cake.  In that moment, I realized that Radcliffe deserved to die for a lot more than just killing Michael. I couldn’t fool myself into thinking that I was doing this just for him. All of Radcliffe’s victims deserved retribution.

“Please,” I pleaded, my voice cracking. “Please don’t – “

He leered in anticipation, licking his lips, his eyes glittering.

“Breathe on me anymore,” I finished with a smirk, rolling my one good eye up to meet his face.

His grin dropped away in an instant. “You dare?” He grabbed a handful of my top, wrenching me into a half-seated position that caused my injured spine to crackle like dry kindling. I cried out, tightening my hand around what I held, as he lowered his face toward mine. I grimaced and tried not to inhale. In all honesty, his breath really did reek.

“This is going to hurt,” he spat. “A lot!”

“You have no idea.”

With that, I unleashed my Beast and she surged forward. Fueled by rage and pain, the change happened in the blink of an eye, faster than it ever had before. Bones shattered and reformed with blurring speed. My scream turned into a guttural, wailing howl as my body swelled, muscles rippling with raw power, reducing my clothes to rags. Thick, sable fur flowed across my skin like an ebony tidal wave. Razor-sharp claws sprang from the tips of my fingers. Invigorated, my injuries healed, I sneered at him, exposing a mouthful of gleaming teeth.

For a fleeting second, I felt like the big, bad wolf. My, grandma! What big teeth you have!

The better to eat you with, asshole.

Radcliffe was caught off-guard, so I used that to my advantage. I clamped my left hand around his wrist – my claws punching through the feverishly warm and nauseatingly tacky flesh like it wasn’t even there -- and jerked him forward, throwing him off-balance. In a single, fluid motion my right arm streaked upward, looping the short, silver chain that I’d hidden around his spindly forearm, sealing it in place with a powerful twist that crushed the delicate links together.

Temporarily dumbfounded, he glanced down at the chain, his eyes widening as he recognized the tiny characters etched into the silver. He slowly raised his head, locking eyes with me. My lips peeled back in a half-grin, half-snarl as I savored his expression.  The look of utter disbelief on his face was priceless. “Servant of Lucifer, avatar of Pride – “

A vicious forearm to the temple snapped my head backward, rattling my teeth and cutting short the incantation that I had memorized. Radcliffe clawed at the chain in desperation, gouging bloody gullies in his own flesh and cursing in a language not meant for the mortal world, yet it didn’t matter; the chain refused to break. “Servant of Lucifer, avatar of Pride – “

I was ready for him this time. I countered his hasty, poorly thrown blow with a backhand that pulverized the bones of his forearm and nearly tore the limb from its socket. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, my claws grated against bone as I sank them into his right shoulder and snapped him forward, ramming my head into his face like a furry, overgrown MMA fighter. His nose crumpled inward, spraying me with putrid goo that singed my fur, but I refused to let go. He had stopped me twice; there wasn’t going to be a third time. “Servant of Lucifer, avatar of Pride, I bind thee to this mortal form!”

Radcliffe shrieked as the spell fused into place. There was a sudden rush of static electricity that danced along my fur, crackling and sparking. It felt good! I shuddered, barely resisting the impulse to howl. The magic throbbed against me like a living thing, perfuming the air with the scent of marigolds warmed by the sunshine.

It reminded me of the field behind my house where Michael and I had spent countless hours playing, chasing each other through the tall grass and the dandelions, sending the white puffs drifting on the breeze. Inevitably, I would let him catch me. After all, the best part of the hunt was the –

Kill.

The thing clad in the rapidly decomposing shell of Stephen Radcliffe squirmed and wriggled, struggling to escape. I ripped my claws free, letting him collapse to the floor in a heap.  With his flesh sloughing off in stinking tatters, he began to crawl away like a wounded animal, wheezing and gurgling. I followed, stalking him at a slow, leisurely pace, my hind claws clacking against the concrete. “How does it feel?” Werewolves’ muzzles weren’t meant for speech, so I spoke slowly, enunciating carefully. “How does it feel to have the tables turned – to be the prey and not the predator?”

With a grunt, he dropped face-first to the floor, grunting weakly. Snarling, I buried my claws into his back and flipped him over to face me. He groped weakly for my throat, but I swatted his hand aside, tempted to rip his head off and end it, but he had reveled in his victims’ fear and pain, offering up their lives to his master. He didn’t deserve a quick death. “I wasn’t sure which asshole you served until today, so I guess I have to thank you for letting it slip. Without it, I couldn’t have trapped you in that weak . . . pathetic . . . mortal form.”

My words seemed to drive home the fact that he was royally screwed. His mouth opened and closed soundlessly, his tongue flipping and flopping like a dying eel as if he was looking for the right words that would save his wretched life and couldn’t find them. He rolled his eyes wildly, seeking something – anything – that he could use as a weapon. He reached for one of the bookcases, mutated fingers searching. I gave him a little love tap that almost caved his skull in just to get his attention.

“Do you know what gave your master’s name away?” Looming over him, I tapped his dimpled chin with a claw. “Your vanity, Radcliffe. Your . . . pride. Of the seven deadly sins, pride belongs to Lucifer.” I leaned down, blocking his view of everything else except the snarling, slobbering, ravening Beast he had been unlucky – or stupid – enough to bait. “I hope demons go back to Hell when they die, because I want you to give all of them a message from me.”

“Wh-wh-what?” he choked out.

“Tell them that one way or another . . . they are next!” I lunged, mouth gaping, and Radcliffe began to scream, the shrill, helpless sound of a trapped animal with no way out.

True to my word, his death wasn’t quick.

Afterward, I stood there in the overgrown, gravel parking lot, absently rolling Michael’s wedding band between my fingers, and watched as the flames devour the garage. Somehow it seemed fitting to destroy Radcliffe’s remains and all of his trophies with fire. Maybe Michael – and all of Radcliffe’s victims – could rest in peace now, their deaths finally avenged. I said a brief prayer to the gods to guide them. Radcliffe’s actions had ruined dozens of lives. In the end, his victims hadn’t just been those that he had killed; they had been the loved ones – the families and friends – left behind.

I tucked Michael’s ring into the right front pocket of my jeans, patting the small bulge it made for comfort. Werewolves could heal normal injuries in the blink of an eye, but a broken heart was something else entirely. I had a long, bumpy road ahead of me. I knew that hollow ache deep inside would never go away – not entirely -- but for the moment it was dulled. I felt better than I had in a long time.

Smiling, I plucked my cut from my saddlebags and slipped it on, relishing the smell and the feel of the worn, black leather. I ran my fingertips across the small rectangular patch sewn onto the leather above my right breast. It read PREZ in flowing Gothic script. Traditionally, motorcycle clubs, especially outlaw motorcycle clubs, didn’t allow women to hold positions of power. Michael had run the Hellhounds – and the Pack – differently. Unlike some leaders, he had never abused his position.

Now it was up to me to continue what he had started.

With a sigh, I swung my leg up and over, straddling my 1977 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider. Even with Radcliffe dead, I had my work cut out for me. Not only did I have to deal with a Pack that wasn’t used to taking orders from a female, but rumors had been trickling in about vampires from Shreveport trying to muscle in on our turf. If it was true, they were about to learn the hard way that DuCaine, Louisiana and everyone that lived there was protected by the Hellhounds.

President of the Hellhounds MC. Queen of the Pack. No one ever said life was easy. 

With an earsplitting crack, the garage’s roof shuddered and then buckled inward, sending embers dancing into the air, spiraling toward the heavens on the updraft. Like most of the north-central part of the state, DuCaine Parish was under a burn ban due to the lack of rain. Volunteer fire department or not, they were bound to respond as soon as the fire was reported.

Luckily, I had already called it in.

I kicked the Dyna, grinning as the V-twin rumbled to life. Sparing one final glance at Radcliffe’s funeral pyre, I rode off into the sunset, headed for home.

 


© Copyright 2019 Billy Griffin. All rights reserved.

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