It was a dark and stormy night. A shot rang out. Someone screamed…, “Mom, we’re out of corn chips!”
Leslie never was much of a writer, and the constant distractions were getting to her. “They’re on the shelf!” she screamed back. When Bobby and the kids weren’t around, she could come up with a good story. Since Bobby lost his job, all he did was demand.
“Hey, are you going to fix dinner?” Bobby glared at her from the doorway. “I agreed to this writing shit as long as you could still do your damn job around here. Now get off your ass and fix something. The kids are starving.” Bobby turned to leave.
“Yes your highness,” Leslie quipped.
“What did you say?” he growled as he turned back.
“Nothing, I’ll be right down.”
As she came down the stairs, there were toys and book bags everywhere. “Bobby, couldn’t you at least make them put their things away?”
“If you want them to put shit away, have your ass down here when they get home.” Bobby yelled from his recliner in the living room.
In the kitchen was an even bigger mess. Todd had found the corn chips and put them in the blender with some root beer. Leaving the top off caused it to splatter everywhere. “Jesus, Todd, what were you trying to do?”
“I wanted to see what would happen. Greg Finster said it looked like a volcano if you left the top off.”
Great, another mess. The kids were constantly misbehaving, and Bobby was no help. She started cleaning so she could fix dinner. Life was miserable. Sometimes she wanted out so badly she could cry. Instead she just cleaned and cooked and cleaned some more.
Most days she dreamed of writing a best seller and becoming rich. She’d divorce Bobby, and send the kids away to school. Some days, like today, she just wanted them gone. Dead, lost, or moved to a new country, she didn’t care. She always felt guilty for thinking that, especially about the kids. She always told herself Bobby would find work and then things would get better. Lately he had quit looking, though. She felt trapped, and didn’t know what to do.
After she finally got the kids to bed and all the messes cleaned up, she decided to try writing some more. Bobby was already asleep, so he wouldn’t miss her. She sat there a while in front of the computer. She was so tired she had trouble concentrating. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t come up with anything. Soon she fell asleep.
The next morning, she awoke in a panic. It was already 8:45. Bobby would never get the kids up and ready for school. They were late. She ran to Sara’s room, opened the door and yelled, “Get up!” Then she froze. There was blood everywhere. The furniture and floor were splattered. The blood oozed down the walls and dripped from the ceiling. Leslie started to panic. She couldn’t find Sara. She went to each room. More blood, but where were they? Maybe there had been an accident. Bobby had the kids with him. He drove whoever was hurt to the hospital. Then she found them. They were all sitting at the kitchen table. She started to scream, and then everything went black.
She woke up sitting on her neighbor’s couch. There were cops standing around, and someone was asking her questions. What was that about Bobby and the kids? She didn’t understand what he was saying. Then she remembered the kitchen.
Leslie started shaking, tears streaming down her face as she gripped the detective’s sleeve. “Where is my family? Are they okay? There was so much blood!”
“Mrs. Stokes, please calm down. Do you remember what happened?”
“I fell asleep at the computer last night. When I woke up, the kids were late, so I went to get them up. There was so much blood. Are they ok? Please tell me, are they at the hospital? What’s going on?”
Just then a uniformed officer came in. “Detective, I think you should see this.” The detective excused himself and left the room with the officer.
“This last page says 7 of 10. Did you find any more?” the detective asked the officer.
“No, that was it. The computer is password protected. We can’t get anything from it.”
Leslie was trembling. Why were they sitting at the kitchen table? Surely Bobby would have the sense to take them to a hospital. Maybe he was waiting for her to drive. It would be hard for him to see the road with his head in his lap like that.
The detective came back. “Mrs. Stokes, can you tell me what you were doing at the computer last night?”
“I’m writing a book. Why?”
“Can you explain this?” He handed her printed pages. She started to read. It didn’t make sense. Why would anyone write about her family?
“These describe in detail what happened to your family last night. Now, did you write what you saw, or what you did?”
“I didn’t write anything! I had writer’s block and fell asleep trying to think of something. I don’t know where you got these, but they didn’t come from me.”
“They were found on your desk, next to your computer. I think you’d better start explaining fast.”
“I told you, I didn’t write these! I don’t know who did or how they got on my desk!”
“I think that’s enough for now.” Leslie turned to see who had spoken. It was Jim, an old friend of Bobby’s. “I’m Jim McDonald, Mrs. Stokes’ attorney. I think she’s had enough. She’s in shock.”
Leslie wasn’t sure exactly what happened next, but she was in a hotel room bed and a doctor was standing over her. He handed Jim a bottle. “Make sure she takes these every four hours. She’s had a really bad time of it, needs all the rest she can get.”
She didn’t remember falling to sleep, but she woke up to sun shining brightly through the window. When she first remembered what happened, she thought it was a bad dream, until she realized where she was. She started crying uncontrollably.
The next time she awoke, Jim was standing next to the bed. His sandy blond hair glistened in the shaft of sunlight coming through the window. Was her mind playing tricks or did his eyes change from gold to green? It must have been the sunlight. She sat up slowly and asked, “How long have I been asleep?”
“Three days. Look, Leslie, I know it’s hard, but you’ve got to tell me what happened. The police think you’re the prime suspect. They would have already arrested you, but they can’t find the weapons. We really need to work out your defense.”
“But I don’t know what happened. I was asleep, and when I woke up they were…”
“I know. I need you to tell me everything you saw. We have to figure out who did this.”
“OK, ok. I’ll try. I woke up and looked at the clock on the computer. It was already 8:45. I knew Bobby would never take the kids to school without waking me, so I rushed off to get them up and ready. Sara’s room is the closest to the office, so I went there first,” Leslie paused, visibly upset.
“It’s okay. Take your time,” Jim said while holding her hand, trying to comfort her.
After a deep breath to steady herself, Leslie continued. “There was blood everywhere. I looked around for her, but she was gone. I went to Todd’s room next, and it was the same. Blood everywhere, but no Todd. I ran from room to room looking for them, but all I found was more blood. I was going to go through the kitchen, into the garage to see if the car was still there. I thought maybe there was an accident, and Bobby took the kids to the hospital. When I walked through the kitchen door, there they were, sitting at the table. I didn’t realize at first what was wrong. Then my head went fuzzy, and I guess I blacked out or something, because the next thing I remember is a detective talking to me in Mrs. Montgomery’s living room. He was saying things that didn’t make sense.”
“That’s because you were in shock. Did Bobby have any enemies that might want to hurt him?”
“You were his friend, you probably know better than I do who he might have pissed off. There was always somebody. But why am I alive? Why not finish me off too?”
Jim looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, “You said you fell asleep in the office. Maybe they didn’t know you were home. Is there anyone who might want to frame you for this?”
Leslie shook her head . “No, not that I’m aware of.”
“Well, let me do some poking around. You get some rest. I’ll find out how soon you can go back home.”
“No, I’m not going back. I NEVER want to see that place again.”
Leslie slept restlessly. She kept dreaming she could hear her family screaming, and a dog growling. In the dream, she was paralyzed, sitting at her desk fighting to get her body to respond so she could help them. She woke with a start and sat up in the bed, glad for it to be over. Then, in the corner of the darkened room, she saw a pair of eyes. The biggest wolf she had ever seen stepped out of the shadows. It growled and bared it’s teeth. The hackles stood up along it’s back as it prepared to lunge at her. She screamed and closed her eyes, waiting to feel the teeth rip her flesh. When she opened her eyes. the wolf was gone.
Jim came running in and asked what was wrong. “I guess bad dreams are to be expected. You’ve been through a lot.”
“But Jim, the wolf was here. After I woke up, he was right there in that corner.”
“You were probably still asleep and only thought you woke up. You did say you heard growling in the dream.”
“But it was there! Didn’t you hear it?” She looked at Jim, pleading with her eyes for a moment. Then realizing how crazy she sounded she said, “Okay, I guess so, I probably did dream it.”
“Hey, I got a copy of the autopsy report. You are no longer a suspect. It seems the wounds were caused by a large animal. There were reports from people who saw a large dog in the area. They figure he got in some how, and didn’t bother you because your door was closed.”
Leslie was lost in thought a moment. “There was a strange dog in the back yard a few weeks ago. I didn’t see it until I walked up on it. I must have startled it because it started growling. Damn thing bit me. We also have a doggie door. We usually keep it locked since we lost Roscoe.” Leslie said excitedly, thinking the mystery was solved.
She stood up, a look of confusion on her face. “But, wait a minute.” Leslie continued, “I opened the doors to their rooms when I searched the house. The dog couldn’t have closed them as it left each room. And a dog couldn’t sit them around the table like that. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Leave it alone. They were killed by an animal. You’re not going to jail, that’s what’s important,” Jim said, concern on his face.
“What’s important is finding out what happened to my family! What about those pages the police found? Someone put them there!”
Jim grabbed her by the shoulders and sat her on the bed, trying to calm her. “Ok, so, did you ever consider that maybe you put your family there? Maybe you woke up earlier, found them, and in a state of shock moved them to the kitchen, then wrote what you thought happened. That’s what the police think happened. Don’t argue, it may have happened. You may have even heard the attack, and just didn’t get there until it was too late. That would explain the dream.”
“Oh, god!” Leslie held her hand to her mouth. “That does make sense. Have they found the dog yet?”
“They’re still looking,” Jim said as he sat on the bed beside her. “They’re patrolling the neighborhood. They've been putting out news bulletins warning people of the danger. They're doing all they can."
“I just hope they catch it before it hurts anyone else.”
After the funerals, Leslie and Jim went out for coffee. “I really don’t know how to thank you for all you’ve done, Jim.”
“I was just helping a friend. There’s nothing to thank me for.”
“Well, I got you this anyway. It’s an angel, because you are an angel.”
“Thanks, it’s beautiful. What is it made of?”
“It’s silver. I wanted to get gold, but they didn’t have any,” Leslie explained.
“I love it, but I can’t wear it. I’m allergic to silver. Why don’t you wear it for me? That way I know my angel is watching over you,” Jim suggested.
“You really are the sweetest man. When did you develop an allergy to silver? I thought only werewolves were allergic to it,” Leslie said jokingly.
“I was born with it. My mother almost killed me with a silver baby spoon. More people than you might think are allergic to it. That’s where the myth comes from. The allergic reaction causes convulsions. Ignorant, superstitious people thought the victim was turning into a wolf. Of course silver did kill them, because of the allergic reaction.”
“That’s awful! I’m certainly glad people don’t believe that stuff anymore. If we still lived back then, I’d probably have been put to death for the dog bite, instead of getting rabies shots.”
“How is that?” Jim asked.
“Oh, it’s completely healed now. Didn’t even leave much of a scar. You know, they still haven’t found the dog. I hope no one gets hurt.”
“They think it may have moved on to a new area. Animal Control in the surrounding areas has been notified. They won’t give up the search that easily.” Jim said reassuringly.
“I hope not.”
“Are you still having the dreams?”
“Yeah, and they’re getting weirder. Last night was the worst. It started the same, but then I was standing in the hall, covered in blood. I looked in the mirror, and I was the wolf! It just keeps getting worse. I’m afraid to go to sleep anymore.”
“Have you called the therapist I told you about?”
“My first session is Monday. I hope it helps. I don’t know what else to do.”
“It will. Dr. Clayborn is good. She specializes in trauma victims.”
“That sounds like I was in a car accident.”
“She’s worked with patients who have had similar experiences to yours. Does that sound better? My point is, she knows what she’s doing.”
“I trust your judgment. I just hope she can end my nightmares.”
“I think she can,” Jim said. He then moved closer to Leslie. “Maybe What you really need is to put all this behind you and try to forget. Why don’t we go away for the weekend. I know this little inn…”
“Jim, I couldn’t! I just buried my family. Bobby may not have been a prize, but I loved my husband. He and the kids were my world.”
“That wasn’t much of a world was it?” Jim started, angry at the rejection. Then composed himself and said, “I’m sorry. I should never have suggested something like that so soon. I know you need more time to grieve. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course I will. I’m sorry I got so angry. I just couldn’t even consider dating right now.”
At Dr. Clayborn’s office, Leslie was a bit nervous while waiting for her appointment. The office was a drab grey, and had some disturbing paintings hanging on the walls. They were of movie monsters slaughtering victims. She was staring at one of the Wolfman disemboweling a victim when Dr. Clayborn walked up.
“They are gruesome, but they seem to help patients remember that they are only movies. The monsters aren’t real.” She looked much like her office, black business suit, black hair, black eyes, and black framed glasses. Dr. Clayborn was as creepy as the place she worked.
“In my case, it was all too real.”
“Do you believe it was a werewolf that attacked your family?”
“No, but it might as well have been. I thought that sort of thing only happened in movies until a dog proved it doesn’t.”
“Well, come into my office and we’ll talk about it.”
The office was as bizarre as the waiting room. More gruesome pictures were on display here. The walls and rug were blood red. The couch, chairs and desk were black. The windows were covered in thick, black curtains. Leslie was extremely uncomfortable with the atmosphere in the room.
“Now, let’s start by you telling me about what happened. Use as much detail as you can,” Dr. Clayborn said.
“I found my family after a dog had gotten in the house and killed them. The police believe I was in a state of shock when I found them and for some reason I moved them to the kitchen and sat them around the table. All I remember is waking in front of the computer and then finding them in the kitchen. The police are still searching for the dog.”
“Oh, my, that is terrible. How did the dog miss you? You were there weren’t you?”
“Yes, I fell asleep in my office. They think my door was the only one closed when the dog got in.”
“And how did the dog manage to get in your house?”
“We had a doggie door in the kitchen. We kept it locked since we lost our dog a few months ago, but it comes unlocked easily. That’s the only way it could have gotten in.”
“Wow, and you slept through the whole thing? Didn’t you hear anything during the attack?”
“No, I didn’t hear anything.” Leslie’s annoyance was growing with each question. “Not that I remember anyway. I have been having dreams about it. In the dreams I can hear the attack, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed and can’t get to them to help.”
“Do you think it might be a memory of what happened that night?”
“Why don’t you tell me? That is what you’re supposed to do isn’t it? I came to you for help. Why don’t you tell me why the dog didn’t kill me too? How about you answer some questions instead of just asking them,” Leslie exploded, the annoyance turning to anger.
“Now Leslie, just calm down. The questions are all part of the evaluation. I need to find out as much as I can in order to help you. The answers, as well as your reaction to the questions, tells me a lot. Right now, I can tell you feel guilty about surviving. You also aren’t completely convinced that it happened the way the police said. We will work together to figure out what really happened and answer all your questions. But first, you have to answer mine. Tell me when the dreams started.”
“I’m not sure how long it was after the attack. I was under a doctor’s care and on tranquilizers, so most of that time is a blur. I do remember it was just before I was told about the dog. In fact, the first dream wasn’t about a dog, it was a wolf.”
“Has it changed into a dog now?”
“I don’t know. When I first found out, it changed into the dog. Lately they’ve gotten strange. I never saw the dog in my dreams before, but I knew what it was. Now I’m not sure.”
“How have they changed?”
“In the latest ones, I’m seeing the attack. The wolf is tearing them apart. I look down and I’m covered in blood. Then I look in the hall mirror and I’m the wolf.”
“Maybe you did see the dog that night. With the shock of what happened, you may have thought it was a wolf.”
“But I saw the dog a few weeks before the attack. It bit my hand when I startled it in the back yard. It was really big, but looked nothing like a wolf.”
“There you have it. When you’re awake, you know that it was just a dog. When you sleep, however, your subconscious mind takes over and brings out all your irrational fears and guilt. You feel guilty for surviving and for not stopping the dog before the attack, when it bit you. You also are afraid that you really are to blame. You think maybe you should have had the dog destroyed when it bit you, or maybe you should have double-checked the lock on the doggie door. All these things manifest themselves in your dream as you turning into the wolf because of the bite and killing your family.”
“Then what can I do to stop the dreams?”
“The first step is to realize it wasn’t your fault. If they haven’t found the dog yet, they wouldn’t have found it in time to save your family. As for the door, you said it unlocked easily. The dog may have hit it hard enough to unlock it. You may not have heard anything because there may not have been anything to hear. It said on the news that the neighbor came running when you screamed, yet they didn’t hear anything that night either.”
“I just wish that I could be sure of what happened. Could I have really moved my family and then wrote about what I thought happened, and not remember any of it?”
“You wrote about it?”
“The police found pages by the computer that told of how my family was murdered by someone. Detailed descriptions of how they were cut to pieces by a killer. At first they thought it was a confession or something. Now they think I wrote them after I found my family, that I wrote what I thought happened.”
“Do you still have these pages?”
“No, but they should still be on the computer. I’d have had to save them to print them out. But I haven’t been back to the house since it happened.”
“I think we should go there. You may remember what happened after going back. If nothing else, maybe there’s a clue in the pages.”
Leslie seemed terrified. She swallowed hard and stammered, “If you really think it’s necessary, then I’ll try.”
The next week, Leslie and Dr. Claborn drove to the house. “Here we are,” Leslie said as the car swung into the drive.
“We’ll go in the front so it won’t be as bad for you,” Dr. Clayborn reassured Leslie. “Your friend, Mr. McDonald, came by and checked the place earlier. He shut the doors to the rooms and made sure there was nothing you would see to upset you. We will go in to your office and look for the pages. We’ll wait until you’re ready for the rest of it.”
Leslie unlocked the front door and went in. Everything was just as she left it. Book bags sat neatly on the table by the door. The rug was free of toys and chip crumbs. The house was in perfect order, just as it was when she finished cleaning and headed upstairs to do some writing. Her first thought was, “It looks good now, but when Bobby and the kids get home, it will be a disaster again.” Then she remembered they wouldn’t be coming home. She would never have to clean up after them again.
“Is something wrong? If you need more time, we can do this later.”
“No, for a second I forgot that they weren’t coming back. I’m okay now. Let’s get this over with.”
They headed upstairs to the office. Leslie was glad Jim had shut the doors to the rooms she had to walk past. She was thankful when she was finally in the office with the door closed. She turned on the computer and started looking for the pages.
“Found them,” Leslie said. She started trembling. “I can’t read them. Will you read them and tell me if there are any clues as to what happened? I just can’t do it.”
“That’s ok, I’ll read them,” Dr. Clayborn switched places with Leslie and sat down in front of the computer. “How many pages did police find?”
“Seven, I think. Why?”
“Because there are ten pages here. You must not have printed them all out. I’ll read the last three to see if there is anything significant on them.”
As Dr. Clayborn read the pages, her eyes grew wide with horror. Seeming to talk to the floor, she looked down and said, “You were right, she did stage the whole thing.”
The detective came in and said, “I knew the missing pages would hold the answers. Does it say how she did it?”
“She killed them, then brought in the dog she had tied up in the shed. She’d been starving it long enough that it was happy to eat on the bodies for her. It did enough damage that it looked like the dog killed them. After it was over, she drove the dog a few blocks away and let it go. She was too wired to sleep, so she wrote what she did. I guess, being a writer, she couldn’t resist writing a good story.”
“No! I didn’t do this! I couldn’t have done this! You’re making it up!”
“Calm down Mrs. Stokes. We’re going to make sure you get the help you need,” the detective said as he handcuffed her.
“How are we doing today, Mrs. Stokes?”
“I feel strange. Why are you here, Dr. Clayborn?” Leslie asked as she peered through the bars at the doctor.
“I’m your doctor. You feel strange because tonight is the full moon.”
“What are you talking about? What does the moon have to do with anything?”
“I’m sorry we had to put you in this place. You were asking too many questions. You could have stirred up a lot of trouble for us. And after Jim went through all that trouble of getting rid of your family for you. He even bit you to make you one of us so he wouldn’t accidentally hurt you when he killed them.”
“You’re insane! Jim didn’t hurt my family. A dog did.”
“A wolf did. Jim does tend to look more like a dog. When you’ve come to terms with it, you’ll join our pack as Jim’s mate. That’s what he wanted. Oh, don’t bother telling anyone. They already think you’re crazy.”
“Where did the pages come from?”
“I wrote them. You were drugged so that we wouldn’t be interrupted. I’ve got to get home before the moon is up. Enjoy your first transformation.”