Written October of 2012, edited in January 2015.
Salem Massachusetts is known for its witches, that idolized image of a puritan hag, tied to a stake and laughing as the flames licked at her skin and clothes. Even though the witches are at the forefront of Salem’s history, the true terror of the town, is also its best kept secret. Deep in the forests surrounding the iconic town, a beast lurks by the light of the full moon, waiting for unsuspecting victims; the confused travelers and children that will never return.
Salem Massachusetts, 1675
The sun hung low in the fall sky. Bethany and James had been walking for the better part of the day. An Indian raid on their home had sent them fleeing into the trees praying that they weren’t followed. Now they did not know where they were, or how to get out. The sun bled crimson light as it set and the pair knew they had to find a place to sleep for the night. It was a full moon and they had always been warned to stay out of the forest at the full moon.
The moon light filtered through the leaves of the trees as they settled down in the shelter of an old willow’s twisting roots. In the distance they heard the howl of a wolf. Even from afar it was unnervingly loud, ripping the silence of the night to shreds. Putting their fears aside and cuddling close together to keep warm they fell asleep, only to be wakened after around an hour by a loud rustling nearby.
Bethany looked at James in terror. He simply put his finger to his lips covering her mouth, his eyes wide with fear. The rustling slowly got louder as whatever it was moved closer and closer, then suddenly, it stopped. Another deafening, earsplitting howl ripped through the night air, much closer than before. It couldn’t be more than a few yards away. It rang through the night for what seemed like an eternity before cutting off.
The children looked at each other shaking; wondering what would happen to them. Were they about to become dinner for a hungry pack of wolves? As if in answer to their unspoken question, a snarl rumbled from the bushes just in front of their hiding place beneath the roots of the tree. And a pair of crimson eyes glared through the leaves. “Beth,” James breathed “if it comes after us, run. I’ll hold it off as long as I possibly can.” Bethany shook her head about to retort and tell him that she wouldn’t lose another family member if she could help it, but was silenced by the look that he gave her. But his icy blue eyes bored into her soft green ones, and she found herself nodding as a tear ran down her cheek.
Another snarl ripped through the silence and the owner of the crimson eyes stalked forward out of the bushes. Whatever it was, it was not a wolf. It was twice the size of the average man, with thick black fur covering its body. The creature looked like a wolf, but it’s proportions were all wrong. Wide shoulders and long forearms gave way to eerily human paws that gave a beast a strange, lurching, gait as it circled the tree. Its yellow fanged teeth were bared, and it let out another spine tingling snarl, as it lunged.
“RUN BETH!!” James screamed throwing her behind him “RUN AND DON’T LOOK BACK!!” Without thinking Bethany grabbed her brother’s hand dragging him with her as she shot through the trees, she could hear the wolf on their heels, and James constant warning to let him go and save herself, but she didn’t care. They ran for what seemed like miles with the beast in hot pursuit, when without warning, it stopped and so did they. The night air had suddenly stilled, not even a mouse moved and all they could hear was the ragged sound of their own heavy, breathing.
“Where did it go?” Bethany asked shakily looking around. It was pitch black, aside from the little bit of moonlight that could be seen through the dense canopy above them. They clung to each other, shaking with a mixture of cold, and terror.
The clearing they were standing in was surrounded by large thick bushes, and trees. Making it impossible for them to see anything, but they were beginning to hear the ragged breathing of the monster. Only now, it was coming from all sides. Looking around they saw eyes emerging from the dark. Glowing, red, yellow, and green eyes staring out of the black. Hungry looking eyes trained on them. One pair of eyes rose slightly higher than the rest. A sickeningly yellow pair of eyes that, when they stepped forward they found, were attached to an even more sickening beast. Its bloodstained brown fur was matted, and full of burs. Its long yellow fangs were caked in blood, and bared.
It let out a low growl before throwing its head back; letting out a demon like howl that would chill anyone to the bone. As if it were a signal the rest of the monster’s pack stepped forward, throwing back their heads adding their voices to the shrieking. The sound was so deafeningly loud that James and Bethany fell to their knees, covering their ears and screaming in agony. It felt as though the sound itself were ripping them apart. Then, without warning the sound stopped. The children found themselves surrounded by enormous bloodstained beasts, snarls ripping from their massive chests as they closed in.
Deep in the forest nobody could hear the agonized screams of the young victims. The night air rang with their cries for what seemed like hours. When it died down, and the quiet was finally restored there in the center of the clearing, instead of two frightened children, there lay two small white furred beasts. Their eyes were closed and they shook from the lingering pain, but before long the pain subsided, and their eyes opened revealing the ice blue, and deep green from before. But no longer were they warm and friendly no that was gone. Now they were cold, and hungry. Now, they wanted blood.