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November 28, 2022

New Night

By Bruce Memblatt

"Beautiful night, huh?"

"Yeah, look at the stars."

"Glad the war is over."

"Yeah, it's better without the moon." He said.

"But the water?" He questioned.

"Yes, no tide. It's so still."

"Yeah, but no fear."

"But all the poetry, all the songs and stories will have to be rewritten."

"I remember he was a man first, before he became a wolf. What the stories used to call werewolf. He was in fact quite lean. The funny thing was he couldn't even grow much of a beard and he was young, around seventeen when it all began."

* * *

Snow quietly fell over the wooded area near the house where Lyle began his journey. Small drifts of soft powder snuggled up against trees with long gray-knotted branches that were lightly peppered white. Clean clear icicles, reflecting glassy diadems of green and brown, hung from some of the sturdier branches. As Lyle ventured through the wood from the side you could see just the blur of the shadowy movement of a boy. The foliage was thick and twiggy and brown and green and gray and endless. Lyle stood around six feet tall, perhaps an inch or two less. His build was thin and sprite. His hair fell shaggy and brown. His eyes were penetrating and hazel and at the same time pretty.

When he reached the end of the wood Lyle stepped onto the icy curb of the asphalt highway that ran just a half mile from home. As his eyes squinted in the falling snow they briefly caught two parallel white lines, which seemed to run into the distance forever. He wondered if he'd even see one car so early on a lazy Sunday morning. He bent down and grabbed a cigarette from the soft package of Marlboro he had stashed in his left sock, and rolled his jeans down again. As snow fell lightly on his soft hands and on the asphalt it began to softly blanket the black highway. On the horizon a tiny shadowy dark blur appeared which formed into the shape of a car as it drew closer and closer toward Lyle. He prayed the car would stop as he held his thumb out in the frigid air and it did. The door of the cherry red mustang opened. Lyle was relieved to see the driver was a young man around his age, rather than an older man who would undoubtedly yammer about his wife and kids while he stared longingly at Lyle's crotch.

"So where are you headed? "The driver asked, as Lyle closed the front door of the car behind him. He examined the driver, trying to gauge whether he could relax, or if he should keep his hand peeled on the handle of the door. Lyle decided on the former.

"I'm not sure. Um, let's say I'm beginning an adventure." Lyle said apprehensively as he glanced at the boy behind the wheel. His hair was blonde and his face seemed welcoming and calm, and there was a hint of mischief just behind his green eyes that piqued Lyle's curiosity.

"So you're running away from home?"

"Well, riding away." Lyle pinned a smile on his face.

"What's your name? I'm Peter."

"Hello Peter, good to meet you, I'm Lyle."

"I'm heading down to New Orleans. You're welcome along as far as you want to travel. If you want to go further than New Orleans you're on your own."

The car gained speed as the two young men talked about the snow and their families and girls and things boys talk about as they made their way down to New Orleans.

* * *

"Seems nice enough, I guess. Then what happened?"

"They became friends and on the night they arrived in New Orleans the moon was full and Peter turned Lyle into a werewolf."

"Is there more?"

"Of course there's more."

"Was there a girl?"

"Of course, every story has a girl, but this girl, well; she may have been the reason behind the war, but I'm getting ahead."

"Let me start this time, I'm faster."

"Okay, go ahead."

"As the days passed and Lyle grew more accustomed to his new ways Peter arranged employment for Lyle at a local pub called Victor's."

"A job?"

"Sure, werewolves have to pay rent too."

"Sorry, go ahead."

"Let me back up a bit ..."

"A week after they reached New Orleans Peter took Lyle to a pub called Victor's for a drink. Peter also had a surprise for Lyle. He'd arranged a job for Lyle as a waiter at Victor's. And that's where Lyle met Daphne. Daphne had short jet black hair and she always wore red lipstick. Lyle would wonder from time to time if she were born with bright red lips. She was a few years older than Lyle, around twenty. She had been a waitress at Victors for three years, but what she really wanted was to be a rock star. She had hoped to get her new band a gig at Victor's. When Lyle and Daphne met they hit it off instantly. As their relationship progressed Lyle felt more and more inclined to tell Daphne about his wolverine nature. He was certain she already suspected something about Lyle was unusual. But Peter warned Lyle not to say anything to her about being a werewolf, or anything about werewolves at all. He told Lyle she'd never believe him anyway, and if he pressed the idea she would think he was nuts. In truth, Peter feared something terrible would happen if Lyle told Daphne without turning her. Werewolves had coexisted fairly peacefully with humans in New Orleans for centuries. Save for the occasional turning the week of the moon, all they desired was to go about their business, just like the living. If word got out Peter feared they'd lose their safe sanctuary."

* * *

Empty beer bottles and glasses were lined up along the bar at Victors. The lights above the bar burned brightly as last call had just been announced and people were straggling out of the front door of the pub. Lyle was behind the bar hurriedly wiping off the counter with a small towel while Daphne was collecting bottles and glasses from the tables that lined the wall near the large window that faced the front of Victor's.

"I'm pooped." Daphne sighed as she took several bills off of the top of a table and placed the money in the pocket of her black slacks.

"The tips tonight were pretty good." Lyle said wearing a small grin.

"Not bad. Lyle, can you throw me a towel?"

"Sure, catch." Lyle said as he threw Daphne a small dampened towel.

"Daphne, can we talk? I want to tell you something you're not going to believe."

"How do you know I'm not going to believe it?" Daphne asked wearily as she wiped off the table closest to the bar.

Lyle stepped over to the table Daphne was cleaning and sat down. "Sit with me, Daphne." "Uh oh." She chimed as she sat down.

"I suppose I should just blurt it out. I know you think there's something different about me, something you think I've been hiding. You don't have to say it, I can feel it. I suppose because it's true, there is something. And you know how things are, the more you try to hide something the more obvious it becomes there's something to hide. I want to tell you what's different about Lyle."

" I don't think different is the right word, but yeah, I did sense there was something you've been wrestling with, but I wanted to wait until you were ready to tell me, Lyle."

"One of the many reasons I adore you, Daphne." Lyle said as he placed his hand over Daphne's hand he began to wonder if he was doing the right thing. But then he surmised if they were going to have any kind of future together he had to tell her eventually. It might as well be now.

"I'm a saint. What can I say?"

"And I'm a werewolf."

"Of course you are. Now what's different about Lyle? You're not going to tell me you're gay are you? Because I'd never believe you."

"Nah I'm not gay, Daphne. This isn't going to work. I'm going to have to show you."

"Sounds mysterious, you're not in any kind of trouble are you, Lyle?" Daphne asked as her eyebrows darted up.

"Daphne I'm going to sound bizarre again but I need you to follow me into the patch of wood behind Victor's tonight. I need you to do this Daphne. Please don't ask why, just trust me and follow me and I promise you'll see what's different about Lyle."

Lyle and Daphne finished cleaning the remaining tables in the bar. Then Daphne grabbed her light blue jacket, the one Lyle had bought for Daphne on a trip to the mall just last week, out of the small locker located in the dim hallway adjacent to the rest room and threw it around her lean shoulder. As they walked out of Victor's Lyle took hold of Daphne's hand and led her to the parking lot in the back of the pub. As they walked through the parking lot Daphne began to feel anxious. She thought she knew Lyle well, regardless of the fact that he'd been keeping something from her. She still trusted her instincts and was certain that whatever it was he was about to show her couldn't be all that unusual. Still anxiety grew inside her. They stepped over the long log on the ground that rested between the end of the parking lot and the patch of wood behind Victor's.

The moon was full and the air was crisp and still. It was, in fact, a beautiful moonlit night. Lyle sat Daphne down on a flat rock that nudged a tall tree just a few feet into the wood. Lyle stood silently near the tree and caught the moon's silver light glistening down through the branches. He loved that sight more than any sight no matter how many times, or through how many different trees he viewed it. Then he turned his head just a bit towards the left and stared directly into the moon's magical disguise. Suddenly his legs began to expand and then contract in jagged motion wrenching in and out, slowly at first, then like lightning. His chest began the same jerky mechanical process first slowly, then rapidly. As his chest bulged wildly out it gained fierce definition. It snapped back in and out and in and out again, recoiling and expanding frantically until finally it shot out steadily and mighty! Moonlight splashed through the branches of the tree overhead with crystalline beauty. Daphne watched on yet her eyes couldn't believe what they were witnessing; it was like a late night movie. She was terrified yet she was filled with awe. Lyle's breast grew large as clothing ripped off his body and fell tattered to the ground. Then, at once hair began to sprout rapidly over his smooth face. Quickly hair spread all over his body manically until his frame was enveloped in a thick stringy black coat of fur. His modest nose stretched and stretched out, and recoiled just as quickly, then stretched again and again, until it peaked solid leaving a masterful snout. Then Lyle stood up straight and tall like a god! He flexed his muscles powerfully and howled at the moon in glory! Daphne began to faint. Lyle the werewolf grabbed her by her shirt and lifted Daphne up toward the moon and gazed directly into her eyes.

"Like I said, a werewolf."

Daphne shuddered in his fur.

"It's not possible." She cried.

"It's possible. I am a child of the moon. So is Peter, he's the one who turned me."

"Can you?"

"Can I turn you too?"

"Yes, please." Daphne pleaded with everything inside her.

" I love you, Daphne. "

" l love you too."

Lyle didn't hesitate, too caught in the striking beauty of the moment under the moon-beamed sky he placed Daphne down on the ground and sank his teeth into her body. He stood by her for hours and watched her with bright glistening eyes as she slowly began the transformation, as the first time the process is a lengthy one. Then suddenly out of nowhere a shot! Blood poured out of Daphne's body and she lay cold and still on the ground under Lyle's fur. He cradled her dead body as he howled mournfully into the night until the first rays of dawn penetrated the morning sky."

* * *

"Wow."

"Yes, wow."

"So sad."

"Who shot her?"

"Some foolish hunter."

"And what about Lyle?"

"He was decimated within. Changed forever."

"Continue?"

"Yes."

"It was in those years after Daphne's death that Lyle's true transformation began ..."

* * *

Lyle sat at the walnut desk in the far corner of his bedroom. The single bed that sat in the center of the room lay unmade. Sheets and pillowcase littered the small stained green area rug that ran alongside the bed. The air was stagnant and reeked with the scent of tobacco and other foul odors. When the doorbell rang Lyle quickly saved the document he had been creating on his laptop and just barely knocked the cup of coffee over that rested just on the edge of the dusty and sticky desktop. He pulled his robe over his body and tightened the belt of the robe around his waist. Then he staggered though the dimly lit living room of the apartment, which was just as disheveled as the bedroom, to the front door in the tiny foyer just past the living room and opened it.

"Peter." "Lyle, I thought I'd bring you a few things. Some things I was going to throw away, but maybe you could use some of this stuff. A few pairs of jeans I've never even worn and there are some books that perhaps you'd like." Peter said just a tad anxiously.

"Peter I appreciate it, I do but ... come in, sit down if you can find the couch." Lyle said, wishing Peter wasn't there.

"Lyle ..." Peter began as the two brushed away torn newspapers and clothing off of the small black leather sofa that sat on the wall parallel to the kitchen. "How long? How long? It's been years since the thing with Daphne. You can't go on like this just sitting in your apartment, not even getting dressed. Look at the time! It's almost dinnertime and I'll bet you haven't even taken a shower," Peter cried.

"When you say the thing with Daphne." It hurts and you can't even say it. You call her murder the thing." Lyle sadly returned. He needed Peter to know how the little things hurt, how every moment still hurt.

"I'm sorry, Lyle. Daphne's murder."

"Thank you, Peter. Actually, I blame myself more than anyone. More than the hunter who murdered her. I never should have told her. You warned me not to tell her and foolishly did, and what was even worse, I didn't think and I turned her. " Lyle mournfully admitted in a tone that signaled deep and complete resignation.

" We've gone over this again and again, Lyle. I know it still hurts and it will always hurt but at some point you have to get your shit together. You have to stop searching for blame. You're a werewolf. You're strong. Be a werewolf!" As the words fell off of Peter's tongue he sensed there was something different about Lyle but he couldn't quite define it.

"But I am doing things, Peter. Strong things." Lyle said cautiously.

"What things?"

"I'm organizing. On the Internet, I'm starting groups, groups for werewolves. The ultimate goal is to take over, multiply our numbers faster than they can destroy us until all men are werewolves." Lyle said firmly, knowing what Peter's reaction would be.

"Lyle this is crazy. It's crazy and not very well thought out. If all men are werewolves who will we feed on?"

"We won't turn all of them. We'll have camps. Camps of humans saved for our feeding."

"Lyle this is not like you. Look at what you're turning into. Look at your transformation. It's frightening. I'm scared for you, scared for all werewolves. Scared for every creature. I love you, Lyle. You're like a brother, you're family. Please ..." Peter cried as small tears began to fall from his gentle green eyes. He brushed the small tears away with his hands as he stood up off the sofa and began to walk towards the front door of Lyle's small apartment. It was the last time Lyle and Peter would meet.

* * *

"And that's how the war began. Like many charismatic angry men that came before him Lyle soon found himself in a position of power. He organized groups of werewolves worldwide and then the destruction soon started. People began disappearing on massive levels as the werewolf population began to grow larger and larger. At first it was hard to tell who was what and what was who, but when the camps began to rise it became clear.

There were long meetings in Washington and at the UN, in China, in Russia in Africa, in the Mid East, and India. In a small office in New York City a scientist had an idea.

The idea seemed crazy at first, but after some consideration the scientist began working on the details and found it was possible, although there would be drawbacks. He flew to Washington and met with the Secretary of Defense who passed the idea on to the President who shared it with the Congress and all interested officials. Finally after a closed- door session at the UN it was revealed to the world and a decision was reached. The moon would be destroyed. Destroyed by a rocket carrying the most advanced form of lasers ever known to mankind."

"And that's how it happened, imagine, no moon?"

"But the idea? Brilliant."

"Yes, no one would die. The werewolves couldn't transform, but they wouldn't die."

"The werewolves would be gone forever."

"The moon too."

"There's always a price."

"But the idea?"

"You said that already."

"But still, brilliant."

"Who thought of it? Was it you?"

"I don't know. It was our idea."

"Look at the moon tonight. I'm glad there's a moon."

"Me too."

"And no werewolves."

"Well, in the stories there will always be werewolves."

"In the stories."

"Hey did you hear that?"

"What?"

"That rustling over there?"

"Quick!"

"Uh oh."

Chomp

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-01-25
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