This story is by Veronika Jordan and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
If someone pops the cork in a bottle of Champagne and there are fifty people in the room, it’s my head that will take the hit. Straight in the back of the skull where you don’t see it coming. It’s just the way things are. It’s obviously my destiny. I’m the chosen one when disaster calls.
So when the road workers left a ruddy great hole in the ground there was only one person who was going to fall in wasn’t there? That’s right. You guessed it. Little old me. OK so it was covered with a sheet of some kind and four tall white beacons kept guard, shining like the Ku Klux Klan with flaming torches. But I was pissed. As a fart. Off my tits. Pickled. Cucumbered. You name it – I was it. No change there then my ex would say.
So let’s go back a bit in time. It started out so well as far as I can remember, but one and half bottles of the finest Sauvignon Blanc and six shots of Tequila later in the Rat’s Arsehole or whatever that dingy pub was called and I was ready to stumble home in the dark. I was tired and cold so I lay down in the road and wrapped myself up in a sheet, which turned out to be whatever was covering this frigging hole and here I am. Somewhere underground with the sound of running water, scampering feet and a bruise on my bottom the size of a small county. Help! Is anyone there? Suddenly I’m as sober as a nun at a convent school fete.
And that’s when I heard it. A loud bang followed by a small cry of pain. Shit I thought. I left the hole uncovered and now someone else has fallen in. Only it wasn’t a someone but a something. Then the cry became a growl, then a howl and that’s when I started running. I could feel it coming after me. I could smell its foul breath. It was worse than the smell of the toilet bowl in the Rat’s Arsehole combined with a packet of cheese and onion crisps that have been soaked in pickled onion juice. Sour and piddly. That’s the only way to describe it.
As it got closer I tripped and fell face down in the sewer. Suddenly the creature’s breath didn’t smell so bad. And that’s when I passed out.
I woke up some time later to find I was trapped in a stinking hole with an injured werewolf.
‘Have you got anything to drink?’ it said.
‘To drink?’ I asked. ‘Don’t you want to drink my blood? After you tear my throat out?’
‘Excuse me,’ it sounded disgruntled now, ‘I am not a vampire. And yes, I usually tear people’s throat’s out but right now I’m not really hungry and I could use a friend. To help get me out of here.’
‘I’m so glad you said me and not we. You want me to help you escape so you can eat someone’s pet cat in the churchyard when you start feeling peckish.’
‘Sorry, I meant both of us. Do you happen to have a rope or something?’
‘Yes, because I usually take a length of rope with me to the pub in case I want to bungee jump off the church roof after 30 units of alcohol. Or get myself out of a deep hole where I’m trapped with a pantomime werewolf.’ My head hurt and my bottom was throbbing with pain.
‘That’s the real name for a werewolf. Lycanthrope. Actually, my name is Eric. My real name I mean. Not very werewolf-like is it?’ It started to cry. ‘It’s always been a bit of a problem amongst my kind. They have fearsome names like Wolverine or Lucian. Not good old Eric.’
‘Please don’t cry,’ I replied. ‘My name is Janet Pigsbottom. At least it was before I married Loopy Loverboy Leonard Brassington-Smith. Imagine that at school. Here comes Janet. Face like a pig’s bottom! Please stop laughing. It’s not funny.’
‘It’s bloody hilarious,’ the werewolf chortled. ‘I haven’t laughed so much in ages.’ With which it got up and started sniffing.
‘Now what are you doing?’ I asked.
‘I’m looking for a way out of here. Just because I look more like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on a bad hair day than Hugh Jackman, I still have “animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities and powerful regenerative abilities”.’
‘And which bit of Wikipedia did you get that from? To be honest I don’t care if you can turn yourself inside out and fly up your own backside, just tell me how we can get out of here and I’ll help you get your life back. I’ve no idea how but I’ll do my best to try.’
‘Once you’ve been cursed I don’t think it’s possible but thanks for the offer. And don’t keep swearing. It’s not very lady-like.’
‘I could shoot you with a silver bullet.’
‘Then I would die. That’s not exactly getting my life back. And you don’t have a gun or any bullets.’
‘OK. Point taken.’
‘Anyway, I think it’s more likely I can help you get your life back.’
‘I’m not sure I know what you mean.’ I was getting a bit peeved now. ‘My life is just fine as it is.’
‘Well you’re obviously an alcoholic and I expect you were really rather pretty before your marriage went to the wall and now you don’t know how to stop. Janet Brassington-Smith was Pigsbottom – life and soul of the party.’
‘Excuse me! I just like the occasional drink on a Saturday, OK Friday and Saturday…’
‘… and Sunday … one and half bottles of the finest Sauvignon Blanc and six shots of Tequila for a woman who won’t see forty again is more than the occasional drink. Particularly when it’s three times a week and results in your marriage breaking up and you ending up trapped down a sewer with a werewolf.’
‘How in the world…?’
‘I told you, I have animal keen senses. And I can see the broken capillaries on your nose and face. And a slight yellowing of the eyes and skin, indicating a potential problem with liver functioning.’
‘No another informative website. But that’s beside the point.’
It or he was right of course. My life was a mess and I didn’t know which way to turn. But at least I didn’t grow fangs and hairs on the backs of my hands every time there was a full moon. I needed to regroup and sort things out but for now I would sleep for a bit and hope we could find a solution to our predicament in the morning.
When I awoke, the werewolf was gone. In its place was a very handsome man wearing nothing but the sheet that had covered the hole where we both fell in.
‘Either you’re Eric or I’m dreaming,’ I said. ‘What happened to the excess hair and the overgrown teeth?’
‘Oh I only shape-shift when there’s a full moon. In the morning I’m back to normal but usually I’m in my own bed by the time it happens.’
‘Eric, I just had a thought. Could we not rip up the sheet, tie it into strips and somehow lasso the top of the hole and climb out.’
‘But then I’ll have to emerge naked in full daylight.’
‘Fine we can just stay here and starve to death. Anyway you can wear my knickers. Then people will think we’ve been to a fancy-dress party and fallen down a hole. Hell, this is London. They’ll probably just step over you.’
Exactly one month later
As you have probably guessed we used the sheet to climb out and here I am. I gave up the alcohol the very same day, started taking care of myself and it’s really paid off. I can see a change already. My eyes are much brighter, my skin looks better and I’ve already lost 10lbs in weight. I had my teeth whitened too and all the post-hangover coffee stains have been removed.
It’s a full moon tonight and it’s so light outside I can see my reflection without turning the lamp on. I look pretty good for forty-three. Funny though as I seem to have acquired soft downy hairs on my face and the backs of my hands. I need to pluck my eyebrows too. They never used to meet in the middle. And my newly whitened teeth look longer, but that’s probably an optical illusion because they are so bright.
I have a date tonight. I’m meeting Eric. When we got out of the hole we exchanged phone numbers. I know he’s almost ten years younger than me but hey, you’ve got to grasp opportunity when it comes knocking. Funny though. He said we could meet by the churchyard. Strange place for a date. I just need to put some salve on the scratches on my arm. Don’t remember doing that when I fell. They don’t want to heal, but I can see the doctor another day. Just need to hurry or I’ll be late.
Eric, you really helped me get my life back. I’ve changed more than you can imagine.
‘What’s that you said, Eric?’
‘You have no idea.’