The Eclipse Magazine
Looking out the window Devon divided his time between the stunning scenery of the false River and Sarah’s cabin. Anger, jealousy and suspicion growing, Amy made her presence known by stomping through the cabin like a bull in a porcelain shop. She should not be mad, Amy told herself. She wasn’t sure what was worse, taking in a stranger that could be a killer or being naive enough to sleep with the stranger as soon as they met. She shouldn’t be jealous. She’s not in love with Devon! It was only a flurry of spontaneous sex in the heat of the moment. She didn’t know what came over her in the first place. In fact, she was in love with a married man, but jealousy reared its ugly head anyway. “Why are you so interested in her?” Amy angrily asked.
Amy threw back the curtains, finger pointing accusingly toward Sarah leaning on her cabin wall oblivious to the strangers staring at her as she read her diary. The sudden rush of light made Devon howl with pain, flinch, shudder, and shut his eyes tightly from the blinding sun.
Devon’s odd disappearances late at night had Amy’s stomach all a flutter, second-guessing Devon’s presence here, the investigative reporter side taking over, “In one of the vandalized and abandoned houses I saw a sigil that reminded me of your face tattoo, are you responsible for those arsons? Are you in some kind of a murderous cult?”
“Are… are you killing people?” Amy shuddered; she didn’t know if she wanted an answer to that or not.
Side stepping the initial question Devon turned apologetic eyes on her, “I swear Amy, I know what you must think but I didn’t kill anybody, I wouldn’t have done that.”
She rolled her eyes and turned up the radio to drown out Devon. Amy had been investigating the arsons on her own. She had seen him in the woods by the murder site then again in the abandoned house. Detective Jenkins and Capt. Rogers investigated the forest murders and arsons and they were there questioning Sarah. Then she had seen Devon stalking Sarah from across the way, although it pained her soul she came to the only conclusion possible. The stranger, Devon, the one she had been most intimate with was a ritual killer.
His gaze too intense, she had to turn away. Amy was unsure whether or not to believe him. She had the overwhelming feeling that she was dreaming, the past several months engulfing her mind with memories and fresh tears. He pressed a gentle hand to her shoulder. Could he really be the killer? She asked herself. Was he the one who had killed so many but left her safe from harm? She should have been horrified and frightened but Instead she felt betrayal. She tensed her body, rigid at his once erotic touch.
She didn’t know what to believe anymore, shivering as though a cold wind blew by, reality hit home in her stubborn mind. The residents were getting infected and were taking over the town and he was one of them, maybe the leader, one of the monsters, until now one of legend that she had been writing about.
Devon paced around the room like a trapped animal. To gain trust he had to tell her the full truth... if anybody could understand, he hoped she could. He was preparing to tell her stories of pleasure and pain. Nightmares turned into reality, the power he had over the flesh and where it all began.
“Amy…” Devon’s voice quieted and soothed her.
Devon turned from staring out the window at the gray clouds rolling in on an ever increasing overcast sky. Preparing to bare his soul his shoulders had loosened a bit from some heavy secrets that were weighing him down but he didn’t dare look at her face. After all, his thoughts and secrets are about to be revealed and he was petrified to look into her eyes. So afraid the innocence and purity in her beautiful trusting pale blue eyes would be gone and replaced by a lifelessness that would cut right through him. Devon’s body shook, fists clenched white knuckled at his sides, tension around his forehead beating like a drum, copper taste in his mouth as he ground his teeth. He wanted so badly to slip into a form that could take him away from all the troubles in the world.
“You have to trust me,” Devon quietly said in a voice so smooth it soothed her.
He consciously had to stop the fur rippling up his spine and over his shoulders. It took a moment of will. Amy should have run when she first saw him in the woods by the bodies or should have run when she saw him at the abandoned house. Now she should have run when she saw his skin ripple but then Amy looked into his loving eyes.
The fairytales that she wrote about for her rag had come to life and she felt a weird validation. Amy slid closer to him, her fears melting away. He sensed her closeness as she gently ran her fingers on his lips whispering loving words in his ear.
“I’ll stand by you… I promise.”
“Trust me I didn’t kill anyone, I just came to find out what happened to Stefan and I stumbled onto so much more…”
“I trust you.” She told him softly, tears stinging her eyes because she did trust him, she didn’t know why but it was true.
Still afraid to look Amy in the face he turned away from her and peered outside as it started to rain. “I am extremely ancient, beyond my years and as such, I’ve learned a lot of things through my blood-brother and mentor, Stefan. And I have been taught our beginnings throughout the centuries…”
“I’ll tell you a story, where it all began, and why I am here,” Devon cleared his throat and swallowed breathing in deeply trying to remember all the minute details, “it was at the beginning of the end of the Ice Age.”
“A Cro-Magnon sorceress, Aisos, set off to find select moss, weeds, flowers, and mystic mushrooms for her monthly rations of ceremonials for necromancy. She had wandered too far into a cave and gotten lost and then an earthquake sealed Aisos in the cave. No trace of sunlight, just impenetrable darkness as she tried to find and dig out of her unexpected tomb.”
“Her eyes had adjusted to see a dim gray. She explored every nook of the cave looking for food but to no avail and hunger pangs eventually began to overtake the woman. She found, however, an old, frail and pregnant dire Wolf, which in a struggle with a saber tooth though she won she had been gravely injured and unable to move. Having picked the last of the dead saber tooth’s life sustaining meat to the bone she had begun to feel hunger pangs as well.” Devon explained.
“Do you want breakfast?” After the bacon and eggs were sizzling on the stove Amy picked up a notebook and readied herself to take notes although her trusty recorder would be running.
“Yes, please,” Devon continued, “eventually the sorceress, Aisos, and the she Wolf were both soon out of their minds and reckless in their hunger. Each dared not to look away lest one of them were to attack the other.”
“In those days there were giants, werewolves and witches.” Amy desperately searched for the particular Bible quote that she sought out loud. Devon paid no attention to the phrase that she mumbled under her breath and continued.
“The sorceress searched in her pouch for herbs and various magical concoctions she had on her person and began mixing them up. She threw part of the concoction to the dire Wolf to give it strength and repress its hunger for just a while longer. Then she ingested one part herself to quell her weakness. The pair of them locked eyes. They mind melded, the dire Wolf and sorceress. The sorceress saw through the dire wolf’s eyes and the dire Wolf saw through the sorceress’. They felt each other’s pain and hunger and dire need. The sorceress and the she Wolf, half dead of starvation, weak and dizzy, both closed their eyes and listened to the rhythmic patter of raindrops beating down on the cave. Their brains were reduced to a Theta wave, and then a Delta state, the sorceress and the Wolf connecting on a spiritual level. Wolf thought as a sorceress and the weakening sorceress had the instincts of the Wolf. Aisos began to chant, began to pray to powers far more ancient than herself. Then the she Wolf began to howl with her in unison. There came down an eccentric pulsating energy all around the dying pair like a curtain at the end of a show and the eccentric energy covered them like a security blanket.
They struck a bargain, the fatally wounded dire Wolf and the starving sorceress. The pair struck an agreement for both to survive. When one died, the other would consume it and become one body of two, two minds melding together.
“Hey I think I’ve heard this story,” Amy’s eyes lit up in recognition.
“It’s an old Native American story, right? Only when I heard it was a man and...” Amy abruptly stopped. Devon interrupted her before she could say the rest.
“In all folklore there is some truth behind the fiction, isn’t there.” Devon closed the curtains and settled down on the floor beside Amy.
“The sorceress kneeled down, arms out, turning her palms up so the dire Wolf would feel at ease. Cautiously, the she Wolf limped toward her until she could stroke her fur. Eventually the dying dire Wolf trusted her enough to rest its head upon her lap and she massaged and comforted her until the she wolf took her last breath.”
“Nothing of her corpse went to waste. She made a fur jacket from her pelt with her dwindling supplies she prepared a basic stew from her heart and brain.” Devon could see her visibly tense up in disgust as she imagined the vile stew, and couldn’t help but laugh, but he shut up just as quickly when she playfully punched his shoulder.
“She survived with the scraps of the spoiling meat. It began to get slimy, blacken, and spoil and I guess that’s when the parasites, from nature, magic or a blending of all, were born. But she ate the spoiled meat to survive. She became stronger and more alert, able to see in pitch darkness. She could even smell out the fresh air, which meant she could find freedom.”
“A strange amalgamation occurred. She was sleek lined and leaner, a brain more cunning. Fueled by a full belly and particularly heightened new senses the sorceress found a way out of the cave. When she finally freed herself she was no longer a Cro-Magnon woman but also no animal either.”
“She made love to the Cro-Magnon men infecting them like a prehistoric Typhoid Mary. The hormones of the dormant amoeba changing the physiology of everything it touched. While her six progeny split off and became outcasts, out-dwellers of the world.”
Captivated, Amy had the carafe suspended in midair until she came to her senses, “you want some coffee?”
Devon suspended his story enough to answer timidly but with a sly smile, “yes that would be good, thank you.”
“Anyway, feeling odd and unwell on one full Moon howling an aria she ingested the formula that sustained her when trapped in a cave. This woke up the dormant amoeba that grew into parasites and she began the transformation of the once dead dire Wolf. She made it her mission to teach the secrets of the ritual and formula to her progeny. And though there were variations from one to the next it awakened the amoeba that grew into parasites inside of them.”
“Just like she promised every full moon she would change into the Wolf, so that the Wolf would live again. True to the bargain with the help of the full moon’s light the sorceress transformed into the dire Wolf so she could run on all fours, laze around in the grass. Once she had changed to a Wolf and back again her body had changed as well her genetic structure drastically changing. The parasites, the ghost of the dire Wolf itself, entwined throughout the pineal gland or “third eye”. She would be forever genetically changed to be the first carrier of the Wolf’s blood parasite. The longer that Aisos survived the Wolf and the sorceress became as one person. An unholy survival instinct mutating, evolving...”
He began to explain to her, “… eventually she could will herself to change when she was furious, or if she was hungry as the wolf blood strengthened inside her, eventually the dire Wolf and the sorceress ceased to exist as two persons. The ghost of the Wolf’s lust to survive set in motion a metamorphosis; she was neither human nor Wolf, but a glimpsing of the two. The sorceress could change to a woman or a Wolf at will now quick as a blink of an eye. And every time she changed she improved. It was as if every time she metamorphosed she shed her aging skin, into younger, leaner version, survival of the fittest gone awry.”
“The six tribes thrived with Aisos’ leadership and legends were told about her. When a brave human called out to her she would give them the wonderful gift of transformation, help, and guidance.”
“However, she wandered around the world for millennia aimlessly with each transformation her heart got stronger but her willpower weakened. But by then she had bred more sons and daughters than she could keep track of. And then those sons and daughters had sons and daughters of their own, not knowing they had the gift inside of them.” Devon stopped his lecture to breathe in the distinct aroma of coffee percolating again.
“Driven insane from loneliness and depression she threw herself off a cliff into the ocean. She decayed down below the depths of the sea. For years, while she rots, people that drank from the streams were infected by the parasites... Then the rains came. By then it was too late, the genie was released from the bottle and the Wolf shade would not die.” Devon couldn’t help but pace around the motel room.
Amy stood quietly, patiently listening to his tale.
“The six surviving children: five men and one woman became the original six Wolf covens. They guarded Aisos’ secret beginnings, rituals, and potions with their lives. But the human side of the werewolf cults waged war for power and territory. Part lupine they battled fang and claw getting the attention of the Inquisition. Now with all eyes focused on werewolves most cults died out. As the years progressed the Wolf blood diluted. Sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, lived and died not knowing they had the gift inside of them.”
“Fighting with the Inquisition had tribes hiding in the shadows, against their nature of a pack mentality they stayed to themselves. A more powerful instinct prevailed in them than a need for a pack, the instinct to stay alive. The surviving werewolves’ packs were forced to live in the shadows becoming smarter more cunning. Just like the humans bred domesticated distinct breeds of dogs. Now in the shadows they would meet and breed with each other making new breeds with fresh powers.”
“The power of the Wolf shade would find a way to survive, so when a person makes the forbidden potions said the forbidden words did everything right, the Wolf shade would appear. It was a double-edged sword though, sometimes only the young or the strong could survive the change. Their hearts would explode, they had an aneurysm or worst of all, they’d think they’ve transformed but if the genetics are so deluded or they didn’t get the potions and the rituals just right it wouldn’t work at all.” A pause as Devon caught his breath.
“So why are you here?” Amy couldn’t help but question, her inquisitive mind taking over.
“I didn’t know it, but I was an ancestor born with wolf’s blood. I was no more than a teenager when the change came upon me. The full Moon’s position had spontaneously transformed my body but I couldn’t control it, I was a mangled version of skin and fur. Without any knowledge and guidance I was helpless to the moon’s phases until Stefan, an ancient, took me in under his wing and he became my closest friend. Apparently Aticus has killed my friend, Stefan…” A tear trickled out of Devon’s eye. “And he’s hunting down and killing the only ancient surviving tribes, a power-play for Alpha. Aticus, though, is diseased and sickened by silver.”
Transfixed by the legends Amy realized she wasn’t drinking her coffee, the cup pressed to her lips and getting cold. A habit brought about from years of interviewing she frantically looked at the digital recorder assured that it was still recording. It was still on, thank God!
“How do you know all this?” She asked softly.
“I have been around for centuries and have picked up a few things,” with just one gulp he emptied his full cup of coffee.
“I can smell the distinct aroma all through the air, I think with his necromancer great grandmother who has the power of life or death, Aticus has been given the knowledge to resurrect the shade Aisos and make her do his bidding. The stench is so powerful now I fear something horrible is going to occur on the perigee Full Moon.”
Amy gave Devon a skeptical look, some of her reality had shattered, but she would be damned if she would be naïve enough to believe these monstrosities were directly affected by the moon’s phases. After all, she had grown up learning the cycle of the Moon doesn’t affect the human brain at all, just a superstitious myth.
“But the super Moon is just a cycle in the orbit of the Moon. It doesn’t affect continental plates, the movement of the tides, or much less a human being. It’s basically an optical illusion…” Amy tried to explain the science when she was interrupted by Devon.
“I’m going to stop you there,” Devon tapping on his forehead explained, “minute, almost infinitesimal gravity shifts affect billions of Wolf blood parasites, they even affected human beings being 80% water and the eyes are a direct route to the brain. Any ER worker, paramedic, or police officer believes wholeheartedly the full Moon affects humans.” “For once in my life, I am afraid,” Devon’s voice quivered then broke, “I am all alone. Aticus may be sick, but he is a brilliant and a ruthless strategic commander born out of many conflicts. I fear confronting him.”
His quiet competence and powerful pheromones that so attracted her to him and responsible for their intimate relations in the first place. For the first time Amy could actually see fear in Devon’s eyes.
“I fear Aticus is distracted by something, he only wants the most powerful in his pack and then discards the rest leaving them to fend for themselves. With no direction to guide the infected they’re scared and all alone.” Devon couldn’t help himself; he looked out the bay window again toward Sarah’s cabin.
“Changelings need guidance and aid to become full-fledged lycanthropes. The very nature of the werewolf is pack mentality but without guidance, those that were infected go along oblivious until the full Moon changes them into lunatics. The weak and frenzied will do what they’re told. But Aticus is diseased.” Devon explained to Amy the dangers of a pack-less Army. “The lost lycanthropes are akin to escaped zoo animals, scared and all alone with their backs in a corner, hungry and having no alternative food readily available for them they turn to human beings. Humans are weak and plentiful. It takes a vast amount of energy to transform. When the wayward are done they are hungry. Imagine it, a hungry wolf in a populated city of so many. A balance of power in nature is shifting. The animal doesn’t kill for the sheer thrill of it. They kill when they are hungry or cornered just as the lycanthrope. We the lycanthrope are not inherently evil. We’re just apex animals driven on hunger and instinct. The humans are plentiful and they’re oblivious to any predator that comes their way.”
Devon visibly shook at the prospect of the upcoming conflict. Amy slid her hands around Devon’s torso. She felt his muscular back. If he is afraid… this massive, unmovable statue of a man with no give at all, Amy thought, then I should be petrified!
“The Wolf is inside of me, but I really am a good guy.” Devon explained lycanthropy and Wolf blood, “The blood is neither malevolent nor good, just an extreme and powerful force of nature. An example might be weather, when it storms it gives nourishment to the thirsty crops or it could just as easily destroy houses and lives. The wolf’s blood is nonaligned, but I fear Aticus has a black soul.”
“I couldn’t help Stefan, but maybe I can stop the slaughter that I fear is about to occur. I am moral, ethical, and decent. Aticus is not, he is crazy, evil incarnate, and as Alpha he controls the newly infected to do his evil bidding! Aticus is diseased, he is not thinking clearly, he is ravenous and out for blood. And now for some reason, Aticus has trained his eye on this woman, Sarah.” Devon stopped for a moment, Devon and Amy’s eyes locked onto each other.
Amy looked back only once at the gorgeous stranger as she paced about the cabin the investigator coming out in her, “so, that is the reason why the midnight strolls occur, huh? You have to keep tabs on her and what’s going on around here?”
“Well yes. Aticus and I made an agreement not to touch Sarah or the group here; I go out at night to be sure that the borders are secure. Aticus is a man of his word but as they wander out, they are fair game and I fear the group is dwindling.”
“I could help,” offered Amy. Electricity encircled the couple as she tenderly touched Devon’s shoulder, “I can keep tabs on her so you could check out other suspicious areas. And maybe as a bonus I’ll get more information for my growing story.”
“That would be lovely!” Using only a plate Devon scarfed down the now cold but generous helping of bacon and eggs.
Amy’s heart fluttered as she showered and dressed. She wondered why she was so quick to help. Just for the chance encounter to meet up with Capt. Rogers again? What was wrong with her? She thought. She had gone to bed with Devon at the drop of a hat and now she thought of Rogers. He was married for Christ’s sake! It didn’t stop her from putting her makeup on and spritzing herself with perfume. With every brushstroke that she applied pleasant but guilt ridden memories flooded through her mind. The memory of the all-night stakeout made her blush.
She ran out the door and began heading toward the motel room, zigzagging as if she could abate the raindrops. She yelled Sarah’s name as she dodged for cover from tree to tree, a periodic respite from the deluge. She yelled her name again but she could not hear anything over the noise of the storm.
“Sarah?” She walked over toward the relative safety of the porch.
Amy gently touched her hand to get her attention.
“Hi,” Sarah looked up from her diary, “what can I do for you?”
Amy’s freckled skin and pale blue eyes made her frizzy, fiery red hair entangled with the rain falling down stand out that much more. The mascara that she had carefully applied took just seconds for the rain to smear. Wearing her casual jean shorts and a man’s wife beater shirt, countless freckles on her shoulders and thighs were visible. Her cotton tank top started to wear heavy from the rain. Jealousy stirred inside of Amy; from far away Sarah was the epitome of perfection. Close up, a goddess, she thought. She had an exotic look, a perfect blending of races with long silk-like black hair, almond shaped brilliant green eyes and flawless tan skin. Her cheeks reddened as she realized that Sarah looked perfectly dry even amidst the sideways rain. It could not ruin the wool pajamas she wore last night. A flowery perfume smelling of roses and apricot hung in the air even as the rain furiously fell down all around. I think even her flatulence would smell nice, Amy angrily thought, but she suppressed her jealousy with a smile.
“Hi, I am Amy and I work for The Eclipse Magazine, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”