I met Dylan way back in December of 2012, through The Undead Duo (Nightmares Before Christmas). We’ve been friends ever since. He’s a great writer (you’ll see soon enough). Dylan writes about Werewolves, when I decided to do this, he was at the top of my list. I was lucky that he was able to make some time in his busy schedule to write this piece for you.
The howls sounded mournful and distressed, cries of sorrow drifting across Romania’s landscape to echo off distant foothills. They sounded desolate, but Petru Constantin knew different. These were the calls of an organized pack, a simple form of communication honed throughout centuries.
The hunt had begun.
Snapping the reigns, he urged his horses to quicken their pace. One of them snorted and stamped a hoof, sensing the stench of feral beasts, their odor rich in the night air. His carriage rattled along the age-worn path, its timber frame groaning into each pothole. Ornaments, utensils, and what little remained of his earthly possessions rattled in the back of the wagon. It all combined to emit a crescendo of noise that would surely give away their location. It didn’t matter, of course, as werewolves can smell fear from miles away—and Petru reeked of it.
He glanced to his left and noticed how wide his wife’s eyes were: like the light of remote stars upon night’s fabric. Dorina shook with dread, her breathing almost as panicked as that of his mare. She cradled the bundle tight against her breast. A slip of fabric dropped away, and their daughter’s hand protruded, fingers curling into a fist. The child issued a soft gurgle, and Petru would have smiled had their predicament not been so horrifying.
Turning in his seat he looked back to where they’d come from. The village burned, flames licking hungrily at the dark belly of night. The church steeple continued to stand proud, a shadowed outline amongst the yellow wall of fire. Silhouettes lopped away from the blaze: bipedal, massive, and even from this distance Petru saw thick fur covering their bodies.
One of them howled again, only this time it sounded closer. The surrounding forest leered in to the track, bleeding night’s shadows into their path. The entire woodland seemed to echo with the excited pant of a hundred lycanthropes.
What could they possibly need from him now? He’d done everything asked of him.
“Hurry,” his wife whispered. “Go faster!”
Petru snapped the reigns against the horse’s backs but it would be no use. They’d never outrun the pack.
Darkness settled heavy and thick in the woods, but the gloom appeared alive. Silhouettes lumbered between tree trunks, the sound of heavy footfalls and snapping braches drifting from the forest. They’d already moved ahead of him to cut off their escape. No doubt members of the pack kept pace behind, surrounding the carriage.
The skittish mare bellowed and raised her legs, the wagon stuttering. The other horse stopped, snorting and baying in alarm. Cursing, Petru struggled with the reigns, snapped them hard upon the horse’s hindquarters, but the animals refused to move. Detaching itself from shadows, the immense figure of a werewolf stepped onto the track before them. Moonlight reflected in its eyes, its stare locked upon them.
Reaching into the back of the wagon, Petru grabbed his rifle and wished he’d taken the time to replace the bullets with those made from silver. He swung down from the carriage and reached up to his wife. She glared down at him and shook her head.
“Trust me, Dornia,” he said. “I can reason with them.”
“You can’t reason with monsters!”
Poor Dornia. There was a lot she did not know. Surely he’d done enough for the pack to grant him safe passage.
Grabbing her arm, he hauled her from the seat. She clutched their daughter tight and he silently urged her never to let the child go.
“Stay beside me,” he whispered, and leveled the weapon. The horses wailed in agitation, stamping hooves and dropping huge dollops of excrement. He tried his best to ignore their commotion, instead searching the grotesque faces of surrounding werewolves searching for their leader.
Edging silently from the forest, lycanthropes closed around the wagon. Petru swallowed heavily; his wife whimpered in fear. The snapping of bones and ripping of skin alerted his attention and Petru strained his eyes to see a lycanthrope striding from the tree line, transforming back into the form the creature used to hide among men. He hoped it was the lycanthrope he needed to speak with, but couldn’t identify the altered face.
Wonderment, coated with a thick film of fear, sliced through Petru’s emotions as he watched the monstrous beast wither and crack into the form of a naked man. He recognized the man even before the breeze caught the final wisp of discarded fur. Shock weakened his knees.
Striding towards him, the man gave a curt look and a lazy smile. “Hello brother. Don’t you know it’s dangerous out here?”
Petru’s mouth opened to say more, but the words remained trapped in a throat constricted by fear. Instead, his naked brother shifted his attention to Dorina. Stopping before Petru’s wife, his brother held out his hands.
“Give the child to me,” Serghei said. “I think you’ll find it belongs to me, now.”
His wife’s jaw tightened as she raised her head for the first time since he’d stopped their wagon, and stared into his brother’s eyes without a flicker of emotion.
“She has a name,” Dorina whispered.
Serghei cocked his head. “Really? What is it?”
“Not the name I would have chosen for our daughter, for my bloodline, but I can always change it later.”
He stretched his arms closer to Dornia and smiled. For a brief moment she moved the child away from her breast, hesitated, then pulled Livia close again. Petru’s guts churned, disbelief settling thickly in him.
The baby—not his?
Serghei reached out and snatched the child from Dorina’s arms. His wife appeared shocked at first, stunned, and then began to sob. Petru couldn’t even begin to form the words to ask for safe passage. Who should he ask? His brother—the man he’d once trusted, who turned out to be a traitor and his wife’s lover?
They were doomed.
Anger surged from Serghei in a rush of movement. Bone snapped and cracked, and in the depth of night’s shadow Petru saw his brother’s face disintegrate and become wolfen. Serghei lashed out with his right arm as claws erupted from the man’s digits.
Dorina’s breath locked with a shocked gasp. The sound of wet intestines flopping to the earth echoed through the forest. She collapsed to her knees.
Dropping his gun, Petru went to her, betrayal forgotten. Placing a hand on her cheek he brought her head to his chest, whispered her name. She trembled in his grasp. He watched his brother carry their child away, the ache in his heart not yet there, submerged by disbelief. Night’s breath blew cold against his face, the weight of darkness seemingly thicker and heavier than before.
Serghei stopped beside the nearest werewolf and said, “Eat their bones. Leave nothing for the scavengers.”
And then he disappeared with their daughter into the forest’s depths.
Cradling his dying wife, Petru screamed as the pack descended.
You can find Dylan J. Morgan at