This story is by Laura Eiras and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My landlord threw me out on the street two days ago and told me not to come back. I’d violently refused his offer to share his bed—his cheek was still dripping—and even two terrifying nights hiding in doorways hadn’t changed my mind.
This morning I stood under the same flyer I laughed at when I saw it a week ago, only I wasn’t laughing now.
Looking for a Change?
Willing to leave it all behind and become a different woman?
On-the-job training, room and board provided.
Immediate openings available.
I stared at it, undecided. My stomach cramped painfully; I hadn’t eaten anything but stolen scraps for two days. I tore it off the wall—if I don’t like it, I can always leave, but at least I’ll have a place to stay and something to eat.
I went to the address on the flyer and knocked. The man who opened the door didn’t reassure me. He was the most pathetic excuse for a man I’d ever seen. His watery blue eyes peered up at me through a mat of thin, oily black hair. He was short; the top of his head barely reached my chin. I almost turned around and walked away, but the gnawing hunger in my gut urged me on.
He saw the flyer clutched in my hand, smiled—leered really—and said to my breasts, “You’re here about the job. Come in.” He stepped back from the door.
I wanted to say that my face is up here but didn’t, I needed this job, so I kept quiet and entered. Behind me, a faint snick followed a dull thud, and a frisson of alarm ran up my spine—He’s locked the door! What am I getting myself into?
He walked past me to a door at the end of the hall, knocked, and waited. I didn’t hear anything, but he nodded and opened it. He waved me through—his eyes roving over my body as I passed him—then closed it behind me. I was so relieved the horrible little man had stayed outside it took me a moment to notice the man sitting behind the desk. His smile set me at ease—no leer there—until I realized it didn’t reach his eyes. They were cold obsidian eyes that reflected everything and gave nothing away.
He started the interview by asking me questions about myself. Was I willing to travel, did I have family that would object? Was I married or engaged? Each no I gave seemed to make him happier, his smile wider.
The entire time he was asking, I had to wonder—If my answer to any of these questions was yes, did he think I would be here? Only the desperate would answer an ad like this.
The questions finished; his smile finally reached his eyes. “I have found you acceptable.”
What a funny way to say he would hire me. The flush of triumph made my head spin—or was that the hunger? “So, I have the job?” I’m too eager. I should ask questions. My stomach cramped; I remembered the terror of the street and kept quiet.
“In a manner of speaking. Going through that door”—he pointed—“means you accept the job and the conditions of employment. One Ear will explain.”
One Ear? What kind of a name is that? As the door swung shut behind me, I realized—He hasn’t asked me mine or told me what the job is!
My mind reeled, and the few bites of sandwich I’d eaten sat like lead in my stomach. I stared in disbelief at the man sitting across from me. He must be mad. He’d just finished describing the so-called job he said I’d accepted—by going through a door? He can’t be serious.
“This madness isn’t a job!” I used anger to push aside the fear welling up inside. “I’m supposed to believe that you’re going to . . . um . . . bite me, which will turn me into a monster. All to become the mother of more monsters?”
He smiled at me, but it was unpracticed like he didn’t do it very often, more a baring of teeth than anything else. His golden eyes stared intently into mine—Wait, weren’t his eyes brown? I blinked; they were brown. I must have imagined the gold.
“Your belief is not required, merely your cooperation.” He sighed and shook his head. “I should just kill you,” he whispered, his eyes haunted. “It would be kinder,” he hunched forward, grimacing as if he’d tasted something bitter, “but I’m a coward.”
He took a deep breath, despair melting away, laughed wildly, and added, “And a monster just like him. Part of me will even enjoy this.” His gaze met mine.
His eyes were gold! I jumped up, overturning the chair. “Kill me?” I gasped, my heart beating so hard I could feel my pulse throbbing in my ears. I looked around, but there was no escape. There was only one exit from this room.
One Ear sniffed the air as he advanced. “Your terror smells delicious,” he growled, a fierce glint in his golden eyes.
I couldn’t help it. I backed away from him, holding my hands in front of me—as if that would stop this madman. “Don’t kill me,” I begged, “bite me instead.” I’ll survive his bite. Once I recover, and he sees . . . I won’t turn into a monster; it’s not possible. I turn and bang on the door, screaming, “Let me out!”
He grabbed my shoulders. I screamed again, and he growled in my ear, “Damn it, woman, stop struggling. I’m not going to kill you . . . or bite you,” he added.
For a brief second, I felt hope. “You’re going to let me go?”
“No”—he shook his head—“just hold you so he can bite you. I told you, he wants babies, wants to breed a born werewolf.”
“He?” I questioned, my voice shaking. “He who?”
“My Boss. The one you talked to.” His exasperated tone made it clear he couldn’t believe the question even needed to be asked. “The man who sent you back here to me. He thinks if he tries enough times, it will work.”
“What will work?” I asked, forcing the words out. Except I already knew the answer—babies—so I rushed on with my next question, not even waiting for One Ear to respond, “What do you mean . . . enough times?”
“It’s never worked before. They always lose them.”
“The other women. . . the babies,” he said, giving my shoulders a shake. “They lose them every damn time.” He looked down and muttered, “Those that survive the Change.” His gaze met mine, “Over and over, he tries—honoring them with his presence, he calls it—rapes them until they’re pregnant. Only, they end up Changing during the full moon and losing the baby. Sometimes they last a few months, but no one lasts long enough.” His eyes stare past me. “Then he just does it again, and again, and again . . . .”
He’s not even looking at me. He’s seeing something I can’t see, don’t want to see—an endless living hell of rape and pregnancy.
“I’d rather die,” I murmur. God help me. I’m starting to believe in this madness. “I’ll kill myself before I let that happen!”
“He won’t let you,” One Ear yelled, before continuing in a quieter voice, “and without a silver weapon, you can’t even commit suicide; any wound will just Heal.”
His fingers tightened on my shoulders. “It’s too late anyway. He heard you. He’s Changing.”
Dreadful sounds come from the office, the cracking of bones, and a single muffled, pain-filled grunt.
One Ear dragged me away from the door as it opened.
The horrible little man stood there breathing heavily. “The Boss said I could watch. Maybe next time, he’ll let me bite the bitch instead.” He’s panting with excitement.
“Shorty.” One Ear greeted him with distaste.
A deep growl behind Shorty made him jump and scurry to the side. He looked over his shoulder and cringed, whining, “I didn’t mean nothing, Boss. You know that.”
The enormous black wolf bared its teeth at Shorty and stalked inside. It was twice as big as any dog I’d ever seen. My heart sank. A wolf, a real, honest to God wolf. It paced forward and sniffed me. Saliva dripped from its open jaws as it dog-grinned at me. Obsidian eyes I recognized met mine.
I couldn’t help it. I screamed and struggled to get away from One Ear. He held me still and whispered, “I’m sorry,” in my ear as the wolf sank its teeth into my thigh. The pain was immediate, worse than anything I had ever experienced, starting at the site of the bite, but spreading rapidly throughout my body.
Oh God . . . oh God . . . it’s all true . . . .