I have a new free read to share! Welcome to Phases of Moon, a new paranormal tale where I delve into my own version of werewolves that’s been sitting on the back burner for longer than I prefer to admit.
This story will be part of the flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting a chapter with a maximum of 1000 words, giving you an ongoing taste of this serial. The short format keeps me committed to regular posting and continuous story telling. A win-win for everyone!
This installment continues outside of the Wednesday flash fiction so I don’t have to shorten the end of the chapter. (It won’t end neatly right now.) Wednesdays will be set for 1000 word installments.
Jimmy’s hunt continues…
Part 3 – Chapter 1
continued from part 2…
The receding fur exposed the skin in gradual patches, and the sick sound of bones popping and crunching filled the night. Legs straightened and extended back into human and the arms evened out. The snout shrunk back into the face and eventually a dead man lay before him. The only remaining visible damage were the two bloody gunshot wounds and a suspicious bite mark at his neck and shoulder. An odd scent emanated from the body. A mix of what should have been, he understood what it meant, but mentally filed it away for the future. There wasn’t time to investigate in more detail.
What a waste. Jimmy stared into the lifeless eyes and swallowed down the guilt threatening to rise. He didn’t recognize the young man before him, but it wasn’t what this was about. There was nothing personal in this hunt. The creature was uncontrolled and feral. Trapped between forms, it had to be in agony. This kind of pain would make anyone crazed, man or beast. Travesties of nature had to be put down. He’d done what was necessary and required, but it didn’t mean he had to like carrying out his duty.
Blood dripped off his burning arm into the dirt, looking blackened in the low light, but he ignored it as best he could. More important things needed to be done before he could call this job complete.
The moon was still high, leaving him with several hours before sunrise, but it didn’t lessen the urgency. After gathering his rifle, he tracked back to his truck, stowed the weapons, and collected a blanket and shovel. Putting it in neutral, he pushed the target’s car deeper into the trees to temporarily hide it. He’d drive it to a secluded location after he was finished. Jimmy had driven this road enough to know it wasn’t popular. At this time of night, it could be hours before another vehicle passed by.
Finding the path back to the dead man was simple enough. Blood still seeped out of the target’s wounds, by force of gravity rather than heartbeat, marring what would have been a strong, firm man. It was hard to look at him as Jimmy stripped out of his clothing, laying it all into a neat pile. There was plenty of dirt on his clothing from the hunt, but getting the target’s blood on them could come back to haunt him later. He could rinse himself off in the nearby creek a mile or so south of his location once his work was finished.
It felt good to be free of the garments. He stretched out his limbs, always believing the hardened slabs of powerful muscle were better off being kissed by nature. The sensation helped corral the moral weight of his actions. They burdened his massive shoulders as he wrapped the limp body in the dark cotton blanket. No matter how many times he performed this duty, it never became easier to swallow down.
But who else could be trusted with the task?
With the shovel in one hand and the bundle hoisted over the other shoulder, Jimmy trod deeper into the clearing, his powerful physique bearing the body with only a hint of strain. Under the grace of the lunar aura, perhaps this poor soul could find some peace. Jimmy was unlikely to find the same any time soon.
Resting the carpeted evidence nearby, Jimmy broke ground with the shovel, digging hard through stone ridden soil. He slaved with a fierce determination, powering below the surface, refusing to rest. Hours drifted by as the dirt mixed with perspiration, mud staining every sinew and crevice of his naked flesh. Wet clumps caked and pulled on the hairs on his chest and legs, but he ignored the pinches and the slices on his arm. There wasn’t time for such nonsense. Six feet deep was a long way down into the earth. By the time he finished, the top of his head barely rose above the edge.
He tossed the shovel out and took measure of his work. This would be sufficient, but he felt no satisfaction or pride. He wondered if it should be himself at the bottom of the hole instead of trading places with the poor soul wrapped above ground.
But then someone else would be forced to do the job and he couldn’t live with himself over the idea.
After climbing out, he placed the body back at the bottom of the makeshift grave, taking care not to drop the bundle. Jimmy stood, looking down at the unmoving roll. How unfair this was. The man inside had no chance really. His fate was sealed the moment the bite shared its curse. There had been no choice.
“Please, forgive me,” Jimmy whispered.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and paused. This duty was unwelcome, but it was something he had a talent for. It gave him a place in the circle he needed ever since he left Louisiana.
With a ragged exhale, he gripped the shovel and started the slow process of filling the hole. The sound of dirt raining into the grave cast a shiver down his spine. He couldn’t look at the bundle as the earth closed over it. Hopefully, there could be some salvation after all the questionable acts he’d committed. If not, his future was bleak indeed.
The huge mound of soil mocked him as he finished piling on the last scoop of dirt. Time and elements would reclaim this area long before anyone discovered this untouched clearing. No one would ever know where this young man lay, whatever his name was. Unknown and damned, that was his sad fate.
Shame swelled his chest and he released the shovel; the metal clattered against a series of freshly exposed rocks. This shouldn’t have happened. It was a violation of the natural order, bringing an innocent to ruin. Jimmy couldn’t wash the blood off his filthy hands if he tried.
A moss covered log made a makeshift seat for Jimmy to settle onto. His head dropped forward as exhaustion began to suffuse him even through his muscles were still strong. Every inch of skin felt filthy and unkempt with more than simply his efforts. Staring at the wet dirt painting his feet, he raked his muddy fingers through his thick locks and across his scalp. Stray hairs tugged, snagged in the harsh stubble along his jaw.
As he said a silent prayer over the unmarked grave, his eyes filled with anger and regret. Pushing his mud soaked hair from his face with his dirty hands, Jimmy glared at the moon, its beauty a fickle mistress in her power. The ancient icon cast its spell on all the creatures of the night, a force of something more than tides and reflected light. The moon whispered to her wayward children when she was full, and the call was unmistakable. Some weren’t strong enough to resist her seduction. Some no longer wanted to. Jimmy threw back his head and let the pull from her take hold.
His body began to shiver as his flesh contorted, the skeletal shape shifting underneath. Throwing himself forward onto all fours, his bones reformed and distorted. Fur sprouted from every pore as his face elongated and sharp teeth thrust out, filling his jaws. Sharp pains lanced every inch of him and his thoughts retreated to protect themselves, leaving him underneath the fearsome wolf shaking out its grey and brown coat.
The unnaturally large wolf sniffed and stepped around the grave’s perimeter until sitting before it, facing the voiceless moon. Titling its head back, he let loose a terrible howl filled with agony and mourning into the night sky. It would be heard only by the silent wildlife.
Stay tuned … Chapter 2 begins next Wednesday!