This story is by Jessica Tanner and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The snap of a twig wakes me from my dreams. I glance at my clock, one a.m. Something flashes outside my bedroom window. I slip on my favorite pair of slippers and sneak from room, down the stairs, and out the backdoor. I tiptoe toward the bushes edging the back of the yard; my senses on high alert.
From behind, my wrist is caught in the iron grip of Marvin McAlister, the fifteen-year-old geek who lives across the street. Marvin, his round lensed glasses shimmering in the moonlight, says he spotted a dark colored, wolf-like creature out here.
His description reminds me of the big animal I encountered a couple months ago under a full moon.
Then he adds, “You’re brother is that creature—I know it.”
I don’t give Marvin’s claim much credit. He’s great at making up stories and saying weird stuff.
Although… ever since my big brother Avery’s thirteenth birthday two years ago he’s been secretive. He used to tell me—his beloved little sister—everything. So when a big full moon hung in the sky and some scratching noises came from the room next to mine, I tapped on Avery’s bedroom door. The door banged aside and this hairy, four legged, yellow-eyed monstrosity knocked me down. If I hadn’t lost my breath after hitting the floor I would have screamed for my parents. The sight of it caused my heart to hammer against my ribcage.
The animal-thing zoomed by me and through the doggy door the previous owners had put in for their Great Dane. Once I could breathe, I went into Avery’s room to confront him about the beast, the possibly not parent approved pet—but he wasn’t in there. That couldn’t mean Avery is a monster—could it?
In the backyard the overgrown bushes Dad has threatened to prune all summer wiggle.
Marvin tenses. As he keeps his hold on me with one hand, he uses his other one to pull a silver airsoft gun from his coat pocket. “Avery?” His voice is taught. “Avery, come out here!”
Marvin drags me along as he ruffles the shrubs with his toy or kicks a rock into the tangled undergrowth.
A cool breeze whips across the backyard. I shiver. My skimpy T-shirt and short sweat pant bed-time clothes are not cutting the cold.
“Quit fidgeting,” Marvin says. His blue eyes are wild and full of fear.
“Why are you waving around that peashooter?” I wrap my free hand around my midsection to hold onto whatever warmth I can. “You’re not intending to shoot anything, are you?” I know from experience it stings to get hit by a shot from an airsoft gun
“Avery isn’t the same person anymore.”
Marvin doesn’t answer.
“You already told me you think he’s a monster. What kind then?”
He meets my gaze. The intensity in his eyes drives my heart into a frenzy. He says, “A werewolf.”
The crazy speed my heart is going slows. I laugh. “You’re insane. There’s no such thing as werewolves.” But my heart threatens to return to its supersonic pumping. How can I brush this off when Avery’s room really was empty and the only thing to tumble out was that furry creature?
“Monsters, including werewolves, are real.” Marvin’s grip on my wrist tightens. “The heads and claws my grandfather and father have brought back from their hunts… the hunts I escorted…” His eyes are distant and the terror there is unnerving.
A crunch from the bushes is followed by the appearance of the large, dark animal. The creature (or is it a werewolf?) knocks the gun from Marvin’s hand. Startled, Marvin’s grip on my wrist loosens and I jerk myself away.
White fangs and yellow eyes glow in the moonlight. There isn’t any crazy slobber. In fact, this werewolf with its one floppy ear and gangly legs makes me think of a wolfish version of my brother.
Marvin retrieves the airsoft gun. The toy shakes in his hand. “I can’t let you exist.”
The monster places itself between me and Marvin.
“Avery?” I whisper.
The werewolf tilts its head toward me before pointing its muzzle at Marvin.
From the shadows and thick brush emerges a true monstrosity. It’s a good six feet tall, covered in fur, and has fangs and talons as long as my fingers. The two-legged creature’s yellow-orange eyes glow in the moonlight.
The werewolf growls.
The thing snarls.
I pinch myself. This all has to be a dream. Problem is the pinch hurts and I’m still cold.
Marvin drops the gun. He shakes harder than an over worked blender. “A sasquatch.”
“A what?” I back away from the beasts and trip over my feet. I land on my bum—hard.
The werewolf, bearing its sharp teeth, moves between the sasquatch, me, and Marvin.
In the back of my mind I’m wondering why neither of my parents is concerned with the noise going on in the backyard. They always catch me when I stay up late reading my favorite paranormal mysteries. And all they have to go by is my lamp being on. There’s growling and trembling bushes for Reese’s-cup-sakes!
Marvin collects the gun and backs away from the monsters. His hand is shaking so much he’s bound to shoot a neighbor’s window, me, or himself.
The sasquatch advances.
The fur along the spine of the wolfish creature rises.
The back door of the house opens.
The sasquatch makes a throaty rumbling noise and races into the woods.
A bright flashlight beam lands on everyone. I squint and raise a hand to see what’s going on.
Dad’s voice carries across the backyard. “What in blazes is going on out here? It’s one-thirty in the morning.” The light lowers.
Marvin shoves his gun in a pocket inside his jacket. “Nothing, Mr. Zellner.”
“Dad?” I croak.
The werewolf sits beside me like an oversized dog and licks my hand. “Yuck,” I whisper.
Dad stomps across the lawn in Mom’s pink bunny slippers. His heart patterned boxers, cow-licked hair, and shirt featuring his favorite cartoon are not making him appear very authoritative. But his stance, thanks to years of being a cop, make up for his goofy appearance. “Marvin? Ruth Ann? What are you doing out here? And where did that overgrown mutt come from?”
Only because I deeply suspect the werewolf is my brother, do I pat it on the head and tell my father, “I heard a stick snap and came outside to investigate.” Then I lie, “Then I found this dog caught in the bushes. I helped Marvin free him and we agreed I can keep the dog.”
Dad raises a bushy brow. “I suppose…”
“He doesn’t have any dog tags,” I quickly say, “and I haven’t heard of anyone looking for a dog like this—I checked Facebook.”
The left side of my dad’s mouth lifts up a bit. He knows how much I’ve protested against dogs and begged for a pet gecko. “If you can get it past your mother, I’ll agree.”
“You got it,” I say.
The tension in my body fades. Getting the strange scene on the lawn past my father worried me more than facing the sasquatch. Insane.
Marvin shifts in the corner of my vision.
I cross my arms. “Not so fast.”
“Huh…?” He says as he moves a few small steps away.
“My brother and my dad saved our lives tonight. I think that means a deal is in order.”
“Yes, a deal,
“I see.” He’s gone pale as a fresh bedsheet.
“You don’t threaten my brother with a peashooter ever again and I won’t tell my dad what profession you’re in,” I say.
“I’m cool with that.”
Marvin hurries away.
A toothy grin faces me. It is super weird looking down at my big bro.
I glare. “This does not mean I’m actually interested in owning a dog. And if you want to live, you’ll never eat any of my stuff. Got it?”
The animal gives me a slobbery lick before bounding into the woods.
“I’m serious!” I say as I wipe drool from my face… but I can’t keep from smiling at the uncoordinated creature.
A month later, with a fresh full moon rising, I watch from behind my bedroom door as Dad releases the werewolf from his room. Mom’s snores vibrate the house. The goofy animal I befriended races outside.
My big brother Avery is a monster—and I don’t mean that metaphorically like he ripped all the heads off my dolls or took my bicycle for wild rides in the mud only to return it broken. I mean every full moon he grows fur and fangs, disappears into the bushes, and howls at the sky. I’m not kidding. I’m honored to know his secret, his werewolf side. It was never easy having a secret between us. But this is a pretty cool secret. It means I can play fetch with my big brother!