a short story by Jeremy C Kester
Clouds covered the moon, masking most of the light that would have been available to see. She knew it was there, waiting for her, stalking her. Wounds already covered her flesh from the fight, the brief battle before she was able to discharge it from her. Fortune had it that it was before the creature bit her, the sure way that she would have lost. Finding it was the next order of business. Finding it before it had a chance to kill her.
She raised her crossbow, the bolt tipped in silver and poison. It was a special brew made for creatures of evil origin. It attacked the blackened parts of their soul, often resulting in total death of the person infected. No matter though. Darkness needed to be expunged… no matter the cost.
Her aim was steady as she scanned the line of trees. Werewolves were not skilled climbers, that at least she knew. It allowed her to ignore anything above her head.
Light trickled through, dim, scattered, as she crept along. As soft as she could manage, she placed each step purposefully, as to not alert the creature to her whereabouts. Normally, smell was a bigger concern. Another potion aided with that problem. For everything except sight and sound, she was invisible to the beast. But that didn’t mean she was safe.
Emptiness filled the air. She listened to the wind flowing through the leaves, the sounds of creatures moving through, those unaware yet of the danger, or simply not concerned, as if they all knew that the werewolf was not out for them. Humans were always the prey.
A rustle came from the side. She swung the crossbow over, aligning the shot with the best aim that her hearing allowed. With the moon hidden from view by the clouds, it was impossible to tell if she was truly in aiming at anything but a shadow. Loosing the bolt too soon at a sound alone would be foolish. Waste was not in her mind at the moment.
She peered into the dark, certain that it was clear. Something told her to keep watching though. To peer into the darkness, that what she was after would be there.
She stepped forward, trying to keep her focus ahead, at the shadows. There was no telling if there was something there other than the playthings of her imagination. That thing was there somewhere though. Even with it being hidden, the power of the full moon would keep the man transformed, albeit in a weakened state. And the injuries that she was sure she inflicted upon it to break it off from attacking would hasten that.
Killing the man later wasn’t an option. Doing so would only create a demon wolf, something far more dangerous, and free of the pull of the moon, although. The werewolf needed to be killed during the night for the curse to be broken.
Another sound echoed ahead, only slightly to the side. She angled herself in time to see the beast lumber out into the clearing and then back again into the darkness before she could line up her shot.
Her breathing was getting heavy as her heart raced. She was alone, in the forest, and with a beast like that stalking her. Taking a few steps forward, she cautiously stayed away from the trees themselves. Even a few seconds would give her the time that she needed to react.
Once more the beast stepped out as the moon broke free from the clouds. It was but a moment. One clear moment came to her. She loosed the bolt, sending it at the beast as it charged at her.
A scream left her throat as she dove to the side, grazed by the huge talons of the creature as it then fell.
She rolled before coming to a stop on her back, a blade drawn as a last resort. It would be a defense that was inadequate at best. She wouldn’t need it though.
She sighed, her body still shaking from the encounter. The beast was dissolving before her eyes, illuminated by the thing that once gave it power. The form of a man came into view, a man breathing the last breaths of his own life. A man she had once known better than anyone else. Her husband.
Story is copyright 2020 Jeremy C Kester. Please do not duplicate without written permission. Linking is permitted.