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By W. Dockemeyer
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 W. Dockemeyer
All rights reserved.
The sun shone through the window as Michael lay in bed and hit the snooze button on his alarm clock for the third time. "Damn, it's six thirty already," he said to himself as he sat up. After relieving himself and grabbing a cup of coffee, he stepped outside and sat down on his front porch. He sipped his coffee, checked his phone, and shook his head. Man, how can I go to work today? It's too nice a day. This spring day, with its clear skies and cool breeze, seemed like the perfect time to ask his girlfriend, Megan Baker, a certain question.
Michael worked as a mechanic at a local repair shop during the day and as a janitor at the high school during nights. He was one of two mechanics on hand, so he worked six to seven days a week. He was lucky if he got to see Megan five days out of the month; their relationship was via cell phone and a Bluetooth headset. He called into work claiming to be sick. Fortunately, there was not much going on for the next couple of days, and so his boss at the shop told him to go ahead and take a couple of days; they would call him if they really needed him. Michael also wasn't on the schedule for the high school for three more days. After hanging up the phone, he ran back inside, changed clothes, grabbed his keys, and headed to Megan's house to surprise her.
The forty-five-minute drive went quickly enough, though it didn't help that every radio station kept playing love songs. Of all the days the damn radio has to play every sappy song in history, he thought as he pulled into the driveway and quietly got out of his truck. The four-bedroom house sat on four acres, and huge oak trees were scattered across the yard, casting most of the house in shade. As he got neared the door, he could hear Megan in the backyard. She must be in the garden already. When he glanced around the corner of the house, he saw Megan kneeling, weeding the beds and planting vegetables. She loved to work in the garden. It seemed to calm her down; she had been edgy since her brother and sister had left close to six weeks ago.
A devilish grin flashed across Michael's face. He jumped from around the corner and yelled, "What are you doing?"
Megan shrieked and jumped backward, landing on her butt. A look of fright briefly appeared on her face, but it was quickly replaced by one of anger and embarrassment. "You jerk!" she said. She picked up a handful of the loose, wet dirt and threw it at his chest.
Michael was too busy laughing to try to dodge it. He stopped laughing and wiped off his shirt in protest. "Hey, is that any way to treat someone who called off work so he could spend a couple of days with his girlfriend?" he asked in mock annoyance.
She started to smile. "Tonight and a couple days?" He nodded. Megan got up and slowly walked toward him. "Seriously?"
"Yes, babe. At least two days."
She smiled from ear to ear as she jumped at him and wrapped her arms around him. As they embraced each other, she slowly brought her right hand up to the back of his head, and with a squishing sound she dumped and smeared a handful of mud on his head. "That's for making me act like a girly girl."
Michael could not help but start laughing again.
After going in and cleaning up, they decided they would spend their evening inside. He suggested renting a couple of movies. Megan loved the idea and decided to make the chili cheese dip he loved, but he had to go to the store to get some of the ingredients. His stomach spoke for him with a loud gurgle. "Okay, be back in a minute." Michael kissed her and walked out of the door.
Megan watched from the front window as he left for the store. When his truck disappeared behind the trees, she went back into the kitchen, got together all the ingredients she had, and set them on the counter. Spending time with Michael was something she looked forward to; just thinking about it brought a smile to her face. She glanced at the picture on the table of her and her brother and sister, and her smile partially faded. "I wish you guys were here."
As Megan turned to go sit on the couch, she heard something at the front door. "There is no way you're back already," she said. There was silence in reply. "Michael, did you forget something?" As she reached the door, she took the handle and turned it.
The door burst open and knocked her to the ground.
* * *
Michael wasn't a slow shopper by any means. Unlike Megan, he believed in getting in, getting what he needed, and getting out so that he was only gone a short while. On his way back, he stopped and picked up the movie she wanted and another one for him. On the drive back, he lost himself in the thoughts of the rest of the night. He reached over to the glove box and pulled out a small box, which he opened to inspect the ring. Tonight, I'm asking her. They hadn't been together for very long, but everything about them seemed perfect. He placed the ring in the grocery bag so she would find it. He looked back to the road, his pulse already accelerating, and he started to sweat.
As he pulled into the driveway, the sun was starting to set, shining through the clouds in beautiful purple and orange. Halfway down the driveway, he noticed that no lights were on in the house. "Strange," he said. Megan always has lights on, even when she didn't need them. He was always going around behind her and turning off the lights.
Little did Michael know that he was being watched. The creature was almost seven feet tall, and its huge, muscular body quivered under its light-brown, muddy fur. Blood-soaked, razor-sharp claws extended from each finger and scraped against the hardwood floor, eager with anticipation. Its bright red eyes followed Michael's every move. As Michael drew closer, saliva started dripping from the creature's mouth, and it licked its lips.
Michael, oblivious, walked toward the front door. The closer he got to the house, the more nervous he became; something seemed different. He stopped and glanced around. He found it very strange that when he'd left, there had been birds singing and squirrels running around, but now there was nothing — dead silence. Even with the sun as low as it was, the birds were usually still out. He shrugged it off and continued toward the door.
As he rounded the corner, he saw that the door was open. However, as he got closer, he realized that it wasn't open but splintered, with pieces hanging by the hinges. Michael broke into a run and dropped the grocery bag. "Megan!" he yelled as he leaped onto the porch. "Where are you?" He looked around frantically as he stepped over the broken door.
The house was trashed: the table in the dining room was overturned and split in two; the chairs were scattered; one chair had been smashed, leaving a gaping hole in the wall; and the shelves in the living room looked as if something had been thrown into them. In the air hung a strong scent of copper but also something new — blood. Blood was everywhere, splattered on the walls with huge gashes. "Megan!" he screamed. Still no answer.
The living room was dark now that the sun had gone down. While frantically running through the room, he tripped and landed face first in something wet and slimy. In the darkness he could still recognize the faint design of the shirt just a few feet in front of him — at least what was left of it. Megan had been wearing it when he left. As his eyes adjusted to the low light, the horror of what lay before him began to show. Megan looked as if she had mauled by something big. Her stomach had been ripped open, and her innards were strewn across the floor. Terror still showed on her bloodstained face. Four distinct gashes ran from her hairline to her upper lip and revealed bone. Her left arm lay a foot in front of her, ripped off at the shoulder.
"M-Megan?" He struggled to speak as he tried to push himself up, but he slipped and fell again. On his third attempt, he got to his feet and reached for the phone to call for help, but the line was dead. He backed away, still in shock. As he backed out of the living room, he bumped into something. He heard growling and heavy breathing. Upon turning around, he looked up and saw the creature's face.
Michael was frozen in fear as he stared up at the creature. It lowered its lupine head and growled and snarled at him, bloody drool dripping from its huge mouth; its breath reeked of decaying flesh. It opened its mouth, revealing huge, razor-sharp teeth. In a blur of movement, it lunged forward and bit down on Michael's head. Its eyes glowed bright red as the blood poured into its mouth. It violently jerked its head from side to side until Michael's body fell to the floor. The creature spit out the head and bent down with a guttural laugh as it prepared to enjoy its next meal.
The sound of shattering glass startled it. A second creature crashed through the front window. This creature was different from the other. For one, it was bigger with black fur covering its body, and its eyes were not red but a bright golden yellow. After landing on all fours, it looked at the body of Michael and then up to his killer, took a deep breath, roared, and charged into the first creature, knocking it to the ground.
The brown creature struggled to get to its feet. The black creature had its weight on top of it, making it difficult. While ripping and clawing at its attacker, the brown monster tried desperately to get free, swiping at its head with his clawed left hand. It missed, and as he went to swing back, its arm was caught by the black creature biting down on it. The brown creature howled in pain. The black creature glared at him with pure hatred.
With a sickening crunch, the brown creature's arm fell to the floor. The black creature threw back his head and roared his rage. He opened his mouth even more and brought it crashing down with all his might, biting down on the brown one's throat and, with a quick jerk, ripping out its throat, leaving him gurgling and gasping for air.
The black creature stood up and licked the blood from his muzzle. He paused, looking at the carnage left behind. He slowly walked over to Megan's lifeless body and fell to his knees. Steam rolled off his body as he started to shrink. Within a few seconds, there was no longer a huge creature kneeling here but a young man who was well built, was in his early twenties, and had short black hair. He reached down to Megan's head and shifted himself to place her head in his lap. With his right hand, he brushed the hair away from her face and closed her eyes. "I got 'em for you, sis. I'm so sorry I wasn't here. We should have been here." Sorrow filled his voice.
He looked over to Michael's body as he held his sister, and then he fixed his eyes on the naked man where the brown creature had been. The young man's rage boiled. "They'll die for this. I will kill every last one them!" His voice came out almost as a growl, and his claws slowly start to protrude from his fingertips.
As he spoke, a figure appeared behind him, and her slender naked body gracefully walked up to him. She almost had a spring to her step. She placed her hand on his shoulder and said, "No, we will kill them. She was my sister too." She bent down to kiss Megan on her forehead, and then she looked at her brother "John, come on. There is nothing left we can do here. We have to go. We need to go see Carl."
They swiftly headed to the car she'd left down the street, "Where does he want to meet, Brandy?" John asked, rage still polluting his voice. His eyes were still a golden yellow and showed his rage.
"His office, I think," she replied.
John got in and started the car. Brandy, at twenty-three was a beautiful girl with light olive skin. Her hair was dyed black with blue highlights cut short in the back and on the left side, and longer on the right. She wasn't related to John by blood; his family had adopted her when she was eleven.
Driving seemed surreal, a dream. John glared at the road, shaking his head not and believing his sister was dead. "We failed her. We should have been here."
"She knew why we left, and that we had good reason, John, we couldn't have known this would happen," Brandy said softly as she stared out the window and looked out at downtown White's Grove. They'd grown up here, and not much had changed in the few weeks they had been gone. As they passed the theater, the memories flooded in of the three of them before any of this, before the night that had changed everything. The night she and her brother were turned.CHAPTER 2
Five months earlier.
From preteen to late teen, Megan, John, and Brandy Baker were inseparable. The Baker family had adopted Brandy at eleven. While growing up in the system, she'd bounced from foster home to foster home. She had just been rejected again by another family — too old, they said — when William Baker happened to walk in to find a restroom for his daughter Megan. His youngest, John, followed behind, not paying attention to where he was going.
Brandy came walking down the hall with her head hung, staring at the floor, and she walked right into John and knocked him over. "Oh, I'm sorry!" she said shyly as John gawked up at her. Megan disappeared into the restroom. Brandy stuck out a hand to help John up.
"It's all right. I wasn't watching where I was going," John said as stood up with a shy smile. The two laughed and started talking as if they were old friends. Megan soon walked up and introduced herself, and the siblings bonded with Brandy almost immediately.
The woman behind the reception desk smiled while watching the three kids laughing and carrying on. She let out a depressed sigh as she filed some papers into an envelope. William walked up to the desk and motioned back to the three kids. "How old is she, ma'am? If you don't mind my asking?"
"Just turned eleven last week. It's sad, really."
"Why is that?"
"She had an adoption interview yesterday, but the family turned her down because she was too old. I'm afraid if she doesn't find a family soon, she will have to stay."
"That happen often?" William asked while glancing back to the kids
"More times than you realize. A lot of kids grow up in the system. They stay here till they turn eighteen and then go out on their own"
William shook his head as the woman put up a finger, telling him to hold on as she answered the phone. He watched the three for a while and came to the realization he couldn't separate them. As the woman hung up the phone, she looked up at William as he flashed her a quick smile and told her, "I will need to talk to whoever handles the adoptions. I want to adopt her."
The woman stared at him for a second. "Uh, are you sure?"
William looked back at the kids. "Yeah. Look at them. You would swear they already knew each other." The woman nodded and then picked up the phone.
For Brandy, there was no waiting list; the papers were filed. William came back for three interviews, and a social worker went to his house twice. Two weeks after first meeting Brandy, they came back, picked her up, and brought her home. The idea of adopting a child on top of their two kids didn't go very well with William's wife, Sarah, but she went along with it. They set her up in Megan's room until they could clean out the spare bedroom.
Brandy couldn't believe it, and as she walked in the house for the first time, she glowed.
This Friday night was no different than the siblings' typical routine: diner, mall, and movie. John enjoyed hanging out with his sisters but hated going to the mall with them. They always took too long and had to try on everything, they made him wait for them in the store, and they bitched too much if he wandered off. "It's a good thing I love you two. Do you have any idea of the crap I get at school for being in here?" he said, regretting listening to his sister about waiting in Rocker's Closet, a new age women's clothing store, as he glanced out of the window of the store and watched four guys in his history class snicker and point at him while they walked down hallway of the mall.
Megan was the oldest and had graduated high school last year. She laughed and said, "Stop your whining. We're letting you pick the movie."
Brandy shot her head over the clothes rack. "No! He's just going to pick some stupid, cheesy, boring action movie that's nothing more than bullets, explosions, and one-liners."
"What's wrong with that?" John interrupted "We saw that god-awful chick flick last week."
Brandy walked out from around the rack and punched John in the arm. "Yeah, and you slept through most of it!"
Excerpted from Howling Changes by W. Dockemeyer. Copyright © 2015 W. Dockemeyer. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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