Phases of Moon — Part 2 – Chapter 1 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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 week, Jimmy continues his dangerous hunt…

So sit back and let’s see where we go from here.


 

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Part 2 – Chapter 1

The dread welling in his chest tried to claw its way into his throat. The faint whisper of hope he’d clung to had disintegrated into rotting bits of discarded cloth.

Not far ahead, a small clearing bathed in moonlight was visible through a break in the trees. It had to be close. It had to be here. The seductive lunar glow should draw it right to this place, a midnight siren song impossible to resist. First night of the full moon.

Jimmy crept towards the clearing and paused when he heard a faint growl mixed with something else unnatural. An insidious chuckle, no human being should be capable of making.

The sound echoed around him through the layers of trees, coming from all directions at once. Fringes of panic sparked from the hackles on his neck to the base of his spine, which he promptly stomped out. This wasn’t his first hunt and wouldn’t be the last. Gripping the rifle in both hands, Jimmy widened his eyes and strained his hearing outwards. 

Where the hell was the target?

A soft breeze wafted through the forest, blowing a few strands of hair away from his face. Shit. He was downwind. Stupid.

Jimmy spun, too late to stop the weight slamming into him. It shouldered him off his feet and into a nearby log. He flailed his hand out for his rifle, the strap across his chest the only reason it didn’t go flying. Jimmy bolted up onto one knee and aimed his weapon. Ignoring the new ache down his side and back, he twisted in a complete circle, seeing nothing but hearing the demonic laughter bounce around him once again.

It was toying with him.

The rustle of the underbrush barely gave him warning. He whirled, and it grabbed the muzzle forcing Jimmy to fire into the sky. Staring into its uneven eyes, he smashed the gun’s stock between them with all his strength. The satisfying crunch made it jump back with a snarl, slashing Jimmy’s arm in its wake. Its retreat scattered the leaves and moss, before racing to one side, drawing a circle around him.

The target was quick, far faster than he’d been prepared for, making Jimmy’s pulse race. He tried to keep the rifle barrel in front of the sprinting shadow, but the pain flashing down his arm shook his hand, slowing his aim.

Jimmy lost sight of his prey as it rounded behind a group of bushes, but he could hear the patter of its feet on the soft dirt and the subtle brushing of limbs and foliage as it stalked him through the growth. It wasn’t trying to completely hide its movements anymore. The rushed cadence of his breathing made it more and more difficult to track. 

Who was the predator now? 

A searing fire raged through his arm. It unsteadied his aim, meaning he was probably bleeding like a stuck pig, and the damage was bad. With his back stiffening from the first strike, he was at an unfamiliar disadvantage. It was all he could do to focus on the unnatural growls and footfalls trying to herd him. He’d underestimated his quarry, and if he couldn’t rally himself and bring an end to this quickly, he wouldn’t be the only casualty of the night.

The urge to run and create some breathing space splashed into his thoughts, but he quashed it. Turning his back on it was the stupidest idea possible. It would chase him down and rip him in half. Running would get him killed. Running was how prey got caught. Running was how prey got killed.

But it might be the only option he had.

Jimmy measured his breathing and waited, playing the game and letting it continue to  until it was right where he needed it to be. 

“Come and get it, bitch.”

He sprinted towards the clearing. The thundering steps came to life behind him, and he whirled and pulled the trigger. Fire and thunder erupted as one into the night. The target let loose an agonizing yelp and Jimmy leaped to one side as it crashed into the ground with a painful roar, spitting a cloud of dried leaves and dirt into the air.

Struggling to keep his rifle trained due to his injured arm, Jimmy edged closer as the dust settled. Its growls were diminishing into wet, gurgling, gasps for air. 

Fortunately, Jimmy had always been a good—or perhaps lucky shot.

What lay sprawled in the dirt in front of him was male but wasn’t a man. Not exactly. Covered in mangy fur, its face was contorted with a short muzzle filled with sharp, uneven teeth. The powerful wolfen hind legs were exaggerated in size compared to the distorted torso. Its arms were two different lengths of corded muscle, one more canine than the other. Scraps of threadbare fabric matching the clothing he’d found earlier still sat tangled around its limbs. It wasn’t human and wasn’t a wolf. It was a sad mangled creature stuck somewhere in between. A personification of rage and agony that never should have existed.

Blood, dark and glossy in the pale light, continued to seep into its fur. The weakened beast clawed at the ground as it tried to steady itself. Foamy saliva drooled from the twisted mouth, as its eyes, one human and one canine, focused on Jimmy. Its pained whines were caused by more than the bullet wound in its chest.

“I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have to be like this.”

Lowering the rifle to the ground, Jimmy pulled his pistol, closed in on the creature, and put one more bullet in its head.

The creature slumped to the ground, its chest deflating. When all of features sagged, he checked for a heartbeat. Nothing. The forest was once more silent except for Jimmy’s harsh gasps as he waited for what came next. Caught within the moon’s mystical pull, the lifeless body began to twitch and shift.

…to be continued


 

Stay tuned … more story to come tomorrow with a new chapter next Wednesday!

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs

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Phases of Moon — Part 1 – Chapter 1 — J. Alan Veerkamp #freereads #paranormal #mmromance

Hello, everyone!

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 week, we’re starting off fresh. No expectations…

So sit back and let’s see where we go from here.


 

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Part 1

Acrid with a touch of carbon and sulfur, burnt rubber carried its oily scent into the air. Fresh skid marks marred the asphalt, highlighted by the harsh glow of the full moon, drawing an unmistakeable path to the red taillights shining in the night. An abandoned metal beast along the side of the quiet country road. 

Climbing out of his piano black Ford F-150, Jimmy Coutreau crept closer, keeping a firm grip on his loaded sidearm. Peering inside the driver’s side wide open door, the overhead light dimly showcased the empty interior. Local radio banter overlapped the car’s annoying seatbelt chime. The tire streaks on the road were roughly straight from a hard breaking, and the car had no visible impact marks, having stopped well short of the tree line. Unmanned in the dark, it sat just off the shoulder in the dirt. 

The license plate matched. It was the car he’d been searching for.

Without making any additional noise, he took a wary scan of the area as he thumbed the safety off his weapon. The welcome moonlight may have been shining bright, but black shadows littered the area. No traffic in the distance. No rustling in the trees. No crickets. No active wildlife to be heard. Footprints in the surrounding sand were scattered and frenzied, leading off into the looming forest. The engine was still warm and running, so they likely hadn’t gotten far.

And he knew he was being watched.

He pulled the key from the ignition, bringing a newfound silence to the area. No hint of sound, the whole forest was on edge and alert. The car was less visible shut down, but Jimmy knew time and luck could be fickle. He pocketed the keys in case he needed to move the vehicle and strode back to his own truck.

After a decent drive from the site, he pulled off the road and backed his truck up into the shadowed tree line. He didn’t need locals hassling him with questions he couldn’t answer right now. It wasn’t safe for anyone. 

Under the cloak of an outcropping of trees, he keyed open the reinforced lock box in the cab. He strapped his hunting knife to his thigh, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and stowed his pistol in the holster under his left arm. Loaded and ready, he locked up and double-timed it back to the site on foot before he lost the trail and something horrible happened.

Nothing about these jobs ever sat well with him.

Dirt crunched under his boots as gently as possible despite the urgency. No need to announce himself more than necessary. Scant minutes passed before he came to a stop at the abandoned car once again.

Jimmy took one last longing look at the full moon, its silver caress an unfair tease this evening. Low and dominant in the sky, a man could see in all directions from the ethereal shine, giving an unnatural life to the shadows. He should be reveling—celebrating—the sultry magic of the moon’s cycle with prayers of abundance instead of charging ahead into this seedy mission. But there was no one else to do the job, so here he stood waiting to be swallowed by the forest.

Moonlight glinting off the gunmetal in his hands, Jimmy plunged between the trees, following the haphazard trail of footprints into the deep dark.

Other men of his size would have made more sound stalking into the forest, but growing up, Jimmy had learned how to be one with the wild Louisiana outdoors. He knew how to treat the land. Step quick and lively, yet leave no trace, no trail for outsiders to find. A cautionary motto ingrained into him since he was a child.

These, however, were not the forests of his youth, and the danger hidden within would become far worse if not contained.

Stiffening with sweat, the tips of his wavy dark hair itched the skin along the collar of his snug, black t-shirt. Although the summer months here were nothing like the sweltering heat of his old home, Jimmy had been surprised the northern Michigan nights could carry this kind of humidity. Was it the weather slicking his skin or his growing sense of alarm with each passing step? 

Jimmy cast his hearing outward to find nothing. No insect chirping, no scurrying nocturnal life to be heard. Only the rustle of leaves brought on by a soft, muggy breeze sieved through the trees. The forest’s life sat still as death, the way nature does in the presence of a vicious predator. Instinct told him, for once, the predator wasn’t him. He may not have been able to see or hear it, but the target was still in here with him.

Even with his excellent night vision, the scant moonlight filtering through the treetops made tracking easier. Foot-wide scatterings of leaves and reckless broken branches carved a sloppy path into the dark. He caught sight of something that didn’t belong at the base of a nearby tree. A piece of tattered cloth. The fabric was too clean to have been there long. Jimmy picked up the sad remnants of a short-sleeved linen shirt, catching the subtle hint of men’s cologne.

Dropping it, he made a wide circle, looking and listening for more evidence. Nothing made itself known, but he could feel it out there. 

Waiting.

So he continued.

No effort had been made to hide the trail. It could have followed it in pitch black by an amateur. Nothing had been obscured. A pair of casual shoes unsuitable for hiking laid just outside the trenched moss, the brown leather exploded out in ragged shards, the sole barely hanging on. Moments later, he came across a pair of shredded jeans. Like all the rest, the denim appeared to have been stretched to its limits and lost the fight. The seams bound the remaining scraps together by a mass of threads.

…to be continued


 

Stay tuned … more story to come next Wednesday!

Until then, check out the other weekly posts at the Wednesday Briefs

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