FICTION: Intro to Lycanthropy by Thomas Staples

Chris was always an interesting topic of conversation for some, and that was something to do with the fact that he was rather mad.

Pushing down the luminous green button on his digital clock would cause it to speak to him, saying in this particular instance ‘January 9th, Tuesday, 3:37pm, Greenwich Mean Time’. He never understood why it felt the need to state the current time zone, he may have been less mentally sound than the average person but he at least knew which country he was in.

Nevertheless, he always liked to have Rachael around as a kind of guide, helping him through his daily routine and string of potential errands, whilst also trying to understand whatever it was that he was saying, regardless of how absurd it seemed. After all, that’s what she was paid for.  Sitting beside him on the tatty, brown settee, she expressed her thoughts on how it was steadily creeping up to dinner time and Chris still hadn’t put his trousers on.

‘For God’s sake’ she said, polite yet stern.

Chris was puzzled by her comment, until a prawn cocktail crisp slipped between his fingers and onto his crotch.

‘Shit, sorry’ he said, smacking his lips, before jerking upright and leaving the living room. ‘Thank you’ he added, poking his head around the doorframe before vanishing once more.

Dashing upstairs, Chris yanked his dark blue jeans on, paying little attention to the frayed ends where they’d been far too long for a man of his height.

‘Remember I’ll be heading out at four!’ came Rachael’s voice from downstairs.

Chris had remembered, alright, he’d just tried to not think about it. It was very rare that he’d be left on his own for more than a few minutes at a time, but with the improvements that he’d seemingly been making over the years she’d spent with him, Rachael was truly confident that he could manage just fine — if not better — without her there for a few hours.

‘You’ll be okay’ she said, as he returned fully dressed.

‘Yeah’ Chris added, although he wasn’t as confident. ‘What happens if I get into trouble?’

Rachael chuckled, ‘Then you call the number that I’ve saved into your phone for you, and if it goes missing, dies or you just so happen to eat it, there’s always the number on the fridge’.

Chris’ expression didn’t change until she placed her hands on his cheeks.

‘You will be okay, Chris. I know it’ she kissed his forehead, ‘we’ve made excellent progress.’

‘Yeah’ he replied, slightly more enthused. ‘Yeah! I’ve got this. Besides, you can’t be waiting around here all day in-case I smear my shit all over the walls or something–WHICH I won’t do, just to clarify’.

Rachael sighed.

‘Glad to hear it, I’ll bring us back some takeout tonight, sound good?’ she asked, smiling.

‘Sounds wonderful, now bugger off and enjoy yourself’ he added, ‘I’ll be here if you just can’t stand to spend any more time away from me’.

‘I’ll keep that in mind, Chris’ she said, edging closer to the door. ‘Remember that I’ll be back by ten at the latest, I’ve left some food in the fridge that you can microwave and the DVD’s are organised by genre in case you fancy watching something, and…’

‘Thank you’ he interrupted, ‘thank you for all you do.’ He pulled the door open and lightly shoved her outside. ‘Have a good night!’

‘Remember your Razadyne and Sulpiride!’

The door closed before Rachael could say any more, but she waved through the window at Chris until she was no longer in sight.

‘I am okay, I know where I am, and I am in control’.

Sitting back down on the settee, Chris yanked his jeans off and threw them across the room with a sigh of relief as his regions were free once more.

‘January 9th, Tuesday, 3:49pm, Greenwich Mean Time’ the clock said, beeping before and after. Giving off the opposite of its intended effect, it began to cause him stress.

Did I seem too enthusiastic to have her leave? he thought, thinking about the 11 extra potential minutes that Rachael could have been there and how he’d just opened the door and forced her outside into the cold. Did I send her away? What if she doesn’t come back?

His mouth felt dry and his vision lost clarity as he became wrapped up in his thoughts, that was until his stomach growled and he pressed the clock again. ‘January 9th, Tuesday, 4:24pm, Greenwich Mean Time’ it said, and that’s when he realised that it was time for dinner.

#

Some reheated, leftover chicken nuggets, a bowl of boiling baked beans and a dollop of ketchup wasn’t the most sophisticated of meals, but it made Chris feel good that he had staved off starvation for at least the rest of the day, and with that still ahead of him, Chris threw his bare legs up over the foot rest and tucked in.

Casting his eyes over the glass cabinet to the horizontal collection of DVD’s that Rachael had so lovingly arranged, he waited until one caught his eye. An American Werewolf in London was certainly an interesting choice, but that was until Strippers vs Werewolves and the numerous Howling sequels were discovered alongside it.

Chris was baffled to say the least, he hadn’t seen any of these. And, the fact that they’d managed to accumulate such a vast collection of 80’s monster movies regarding big dogs that tear your gonads off wasn’t something he’d admit to openly. Besides, they were Rachael’s anyway, and the few extra years that she had on him had skewed her tastes somewhat.

‘Fuck werewolves’ said Chris, to nobody, before slamming his hand down on the clock.

‘January 9th, Tuesday, 4:46pm, Greenwich Mean Time’ it replied.

‘Werewolves it is, then’ he said, with a lengthy sigh, placing the disc into the drive and gently closing it.

As the title sequence booted up he thought back to a more pleasant time, a time before he told Rachael that if he saw another rom-com he’d drink bleach from a shot glass. He was joking, of course, but she wasn’t going to take any chances and they were promptly confiscated.

Sinking back into the settee with his now-cold dinner and no interest in reheating it a second time, he accepted the situation and let his mind wander peacefully, unaware of the evening that awaited him.

#

Five hours had escaped Chris, and in that time he’d become one with the settee.

‘What utter shite’ he said, pushing down the clock button to be reminded of the hours he’d wasted watching it.

It were now just past ten — or so the clock said — and Rachael was still nowhere to be seen, her words echoing in Chris’ head as he realised it.

I’ll be back by ten at the latest, she had said, but ten it was, and here she was not.

Not to worry, he thought, people misjudge their evenings all the time. And as right as he was, Rachael was different, punctual.

Picking up his mobile and scrolling through the list of contacts took very little time at all, but once he’d selected ‘Rachael Turner’ and hit ‘Call’, the waiting truly began.

Ring after ring, there was nobody on the other end except an automated voicemail message, and a beep.

‘Rachael, hi, it’s… it’s Chris, although you can probably already see that on th– doesn’t matter. I’m just calling to check up on you, and I hope that you’re having a good evening.’

He danced around the question as much as he could, but eventually he had to ask:

‘When are you planning on getting back? Not that I need you here right away, obviously, but I was planning on getting a Chinese from up the road and wondered if you wanted anything. Let me know if you do and, if not, I’ll just get you some of those chicken balls or something.’

Without signing off, he touched the screen and the call went dead, before he placed it in his jacket pocket, threw on his trousers a second time, and went out the front door onto the icy street below.

#

Thoughts ran through Chris’ mind like a freight train, ideas were passing by faster than the streetlights above his head as he wandered down the empty, post-bedtime streets of Gilstead Road.

The thin alleyways and wider streets made a three minute journey take almost ten, with Chris’ occasional glances at Google Maps causing him to start, get confused, stop and start again. But with the light of the full moon above casting a bright sheet over London, he eventually found his way.

Expecting to have to squeeze his way inside, Chris was surprised to find that Jackson’s was completely empty. No drunk mid-lifers or high students with the munchies, in fact, there wasn’t even anyone behind the counter. The titular Mr. Jackson was nowhere to be seen.

Anxious and confused, Chris was also slightly relieved that he wouldn’t have to talk to him, as he was convinced that Jackson always called him “Crazy Chris” behind his back, but in reality, it was more like “Batshit Baker”.

Without his clock nearby to tell him what time it was, Chris glanced at his phone to see that it was nearing quarter to eleven.

It can’t be closed, he thought, it said that it was open and the lights are still on.

And he was right, Jackson’s was open, so where was everybody?

‘Hello?’ he called out, to no response. ‘I have money’.

Nothing.

Getting impatient as his stomach began rumbling, Chris went outside to look for him, heading around to the alleyway behind where they kept all of the dumpsters.

Maybe he’s just taking out the bins?

Chris peered around the cobblestone wall into the dark alleyway and let his eyes focus on what was ahead, ignoring the smell of — what Chris assumed was — rotting leftovers as best as he could. But as the sight became clearer to him, he could see movement.

At first he thought it might be something he should probably walk away from, like an impromptu drug deal or mattress dancing session, but when his vision became clear to him, he realised that it was something he should definitely walk away from, or, preferably, run.

The large silhouette barely illuminated by the moonlight was leaning over a significantly smaller one when it stopped, breathed in the air around it, and began to stand up, leaving a mess that was once Mr. Jackson splattered across the cobblestone paving.

No, it can’t be, thought Chris, blissfully unaware of the urine soaking through his jeans.

But Chris would soon be informed of this when — whatever it was that he saw — turned its neck to face him.

In one sharp motion it was staring him down, the dark, yet reflective eyes positioned at least ten feet above his own. Just beneath them lay a jaw that was jammed full of long, sharp teeth of varying lengths. But, it wasn’t until Chris saw the bundle of intestines packed between them that he began to retch, and moments after, began to run.

The creature leapt forward with its arms outstretched and its mouth open, chomping on its mouthful until it swallowed it with ease. As it came to a sliding halt in the middle of the street it was all the more obvious to Chris what he had actually seen, and yes, it was a werewolf. The grey hair covering its body was damp, slimy and stuck together as if it had just been given birth to out of the alleyway. The stench coming off of it confirming that it was covered in blood and other bodily fluids.

Realising where it was, the werewolf turned to see that Chris had already gone, and began to follow his scent.

#

‘I am okay, I know where I am, and I am in control’.

Words that Chris repeated to himself for hours from within the confines of a nearby wheelie bin, knowing that he was only a mere minute or two from home, where he would be greeted by the warm welcome of his talking alarm clock and questionable DVD collection. Then, everything would be okay.

The wet slap of inhuman feet made their way up the nearby pavement, and Chris could hear them slowing down.

Keep walking, nothing to see here, he thought to himself.

It were only after that single thought that he felt his new temporary home tilt slightly, with the faint panting and sniffing becoming much less so. Rocking gently back and forth, Chris knew that it had found him and was moments from ripping the lid off and less-than-peacefully evicting him.

If I die, he thought, it’s going to be punching a Werewolf in the face.

Chris stood upright and the lid of the bin burst open, the lunatic within swinging his fists repeatedly, wishing for any form of connection. Needless to say, the woman walking her Great Dane was rather surprised.

The wheelie bin came crashing down on its side and Chris scuttled out on all fours, before apologising and sprinting off into the night.

Good job, he thought, they’ll definitely call you mental now.

#

‘Who the fuck walks their dog at 1am?’ he said to himself, after the clock reminded him of the time.

He dialled Rachael again, unafraid of what she might think of his story.

‘Rachael, it’s me again,’ he started, ‘I need you to come home right now, and I know you won’t believe what I have to say, but there are…’

‘There are what?’ she replied, standing in the open door at the front of the house.

‘Close that now!’ he yelled, running over to her and slamming the door himself.

‘What happened to you?’ she said, pointing at his damp jeans and rubbish covered shirt.

‘I got chased by…’ he stopped himself.

‘By what?’

‘It sounds crazy, but… A werewolf’.

Her reaction said it all, not one of anger, frustration or even confusion, just disappointment.

‘No, this is nothing to do with those’ he added, as he caught her glancing at the pile of opened DVD cases behind him.

‘Chris…’

‘And you’re here now, so, I can prove it to you that this is happening. I can show you Mr. Jackson.’

‘What? Patrick? From the Chinese up the road? What’s he got to do with this?’

‘It killed him. It tore him to pieces, and I saw it’.

‘Chris.’

‘It then chased after me and I managed to…’

‘Chris!’ she shouted. ‘This did not happen, this could not happen, it’s not even a full moon outside for Christ’s sake.’

Chris sighed and fell back onto the settee he had wished he never left.

‘Look outside, then’ he said, ‘look at the moon outside and then tell me that’.

So she did, but not quite as he’d expected.

Pulling the front door open and peering outside to witness the full moon in the sky, Chris didn’t even get chance to stand up before it was already on her. The werewolf shattered the door frame as it pounced through it, shoving its teeth deep into Rachael’s neck and using its newfound grip to slam her into the hard wooden floor until she stopped struggling.

It was only now that Chris realised his previous, dimly lit encounters had protected him from the true horror of the beast. It was a giant that — even when on all fours — towered over him. With a flick of its head the blood covering the wolf was sprayed across Chris’ body and face in a red streak, blurring his vision. But, he didn’t need full clarity to see that it was prowling towards him. Screaming as much as his throat allowed, Chris had hoped that maybe, just maybe, it would change its mind and leave him be. And that’s when it pounced.

Knocking him to the floor and snapping incessantly at his head, Chris held it back as best as he could, until he heard a voice.

‘It’s okay’ it said. ‘You’ll be okay’.

It was Rachael, her mutilated body had rose to its feet and was talking, the torn open throat seeming to do little in the way of preventing that.

Chris looked over at her, confused and scared, before he looked back at what was actually on top of him.

‘Mr. Baker, please calm down’ said the man in black, restraining him by the wrists. ‘We’re not here to hurt you’.

‘Who… Who are you?’ said Chris, at last.

‘He’s here to help you’ said Rachael, ‘properly help you’.

‘Are you okay now?’ the man asked, releasing Chris after he gave a weak nod.

Chris sat with his back to the settee and, despite his best efforts, began to cry.

Rachael came over to sit beside him, but not before going over to Chris’ trusted talking clock and plugging it back into the wall.

‘Offline for, approximately, 2 hours and 15 minutes’ it said. ‘January 9th, Tuesday, 7:07pm, Greenwich Mean Time’.

‘What happened to me?’ Chris asked, looking down at the mess covering him. It wasn’t blood or even urine, instead, it was just baked beans and ketchup.

Rachael looked around the room at the same time that Chris did, seeing the dinner plate thrown on the floor with said dinner scattered across the living room, and An American Werewolf in London’s casing lying open with no disc inside.

‘Only you will know that, Chris’ said Rachael, her words no longer sincere, but just tired. ‘I listened to your voicemails and came back as soon as I could and… When I got in you were just shouting at the walls. I thought you’d forgotten who I was.’

‘I thought you were gone’ said Chris. ‘Mr. Jackson, too’.

‘It’s okay, I’m here now’.

‘Rachael’ said Chris, looking into her eyes. ‘I’m sorry I ruined your night out’.

‘That’s okay’ she replied, as she held him closely.

‘I’m going back, aren’t I?’

‘Yeah… at least until we can get something figured out’.

Chris nodded and made it up onto his feet.

‘Well, here we go’ he said, wiping the tears from his eyes, before he kissed Rachael’s forehead and followed the man in black into his car once again.

Not before putting his trousers back on, of course.

#

Sitting in the now empty house, Rachael sat on the settee with a cup of tea in her hands and stared aimlessly at the television for the next few hours. Unaware of the time until the Local News at Ten reminded her, a particular news story caught her attention and sent shivers down her spine.

‘Patrick Jackson’ the female presenter read out, ‘was found dead this evening after a lengthy search for his whereabouts. The 33 year-old restaurant owner had been reported missing a mere two hours ago, and the body has since been discovered by local authorities. Warning, the following imagery may appear disturbing to some viewers’.

The news broadcast cut to a crew outside of Jackson’s establishment as the alleyway behind it was purposely obscured from view. But, despite the grim subject matter, one thing was for certain.

The street sure looked beautiful in the light of the full moon…

Thomas Staples

Thomas is a University student currently studying Writing and English Literature in the UK.

He has received two other publications thus far, one being a short horror story titled ‘The Needle’s Eye’ in issue 39 of Sanitarium Magazine, and another, ‘There’s Something Wrong With Samantha’ which was released right here on STORGY.

Hoping to both entertain and shock; Thomas aims to write horror stories that have a humorous and human side to them, focusing on the characters just as much as the horrible things that happen to them.

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