Lycanthrope by Carl Teegerstrom

I found this unusual, macabre tale at the Half Price Books when it fell out of a book I was flipping through. It was a folded up page torn from some unknown, older book. All that was on the page was the tale and a single name, Anna. All other information had been deliberately scratched out. The page reads as follows:

The night was cold when two men, named Roderick and Ivan, kidnapped my mother and me. They men broke into my home in the middle of the night. My mother was sick and I was twelve so we were easy prey. They bound us and Ivan dragged us along by rope like dogs. Dark clouds obscured the moon; the cold of the snow soaked into my frostbitten feet and all I could clearly see was Roderick’s torch.

I felt a tug on the rope. I thought my poor, sick mother fell in the snow. But suddenly, something dragged Ivan and me off our feet and into the dark. I heard tearing and ripping. Then soon the pulling stopped. Roderick came to investigate and in his torchlight I saw the remains. The rope had snapped off. A few feet away, surrounded by many strange paw prints, were mother’s clothes, ripped apart, bloody and covered with black fur, but there was no body. I tried to scream for mother, but I was gagged. She was the strongest, bravest person I knew; now she was gone, no, taken. I was something beyond terrified. I tried to run, but Roderick knocked me unconscious.

I woke next to a weak fire in a dense, snowcapped wood. Roderick and Ivan were anxiously scanning the trees. I felt blood trickling from my head, which throbbed against the icy mud. I flexed my arms and noticed that somehow my bindings were loose. I started to try to remove them, but then I heard something.

I heard footsteps like something with the weight of a boulder landing with the softness of a feather. They came slowly toward us. Roderick and Ivan picked up torches and tried to find it, whatever it was. Then came a howl. It started distantly, as if it came from a wolf beyond the horizon. Then, the howl grew louder, sounding like the wail of a echoing like thunder. The noise shook the snow off the trees around us. The footsteps came closer and faster, but quieter and quieter. Vanishing. Everything was silent.

Then I heard it, rustling, snapping, cracking, hissing and screaming. A huge, wolfish, black mass took Ivan by the arm. His torch died in the snow, obscuring the beast in shadow. Ivan screamed as the awful cracking continued. He vanished into the darkness. Soon after he screams stopped. Roderick and I were paralyzed in fear, having seen something beyond both our comprehension. But, I emerged from my shock faster, and saw an opportunity. I loosed my bonds and ran. I ran into a clearing, but Roderick caught up with me. He grabbed my arm, twisted it and threw me to the ground. Then, those footsteps, sounding like a boulder landing as softly as a feather, returned. Roderick waved his torch in the dark like a club, half-crazily attacking the darkness around him.

The sound grew closer and faster again, but quieter, until it vanished. Roderick and I stared at each other in that moment of silence, waiting for an eternity to see which of us would be next. Blood trickled with agonizing slowness down my face. I whimpered for my mother.

Then I heard it. I heard the horrid snapping, cracking, screaming, gurgling, hissing, tearing and flaying of Roderick. The great beast held that damned man in its jaws, shaking him violently. His screams and pleas turned into the incomprehensible vowels of the organs ripping apart within him. Blood and viscera spurted everywhere. Then, the screaming stopped and Roderick vanished in the dark as if the beast had swallowed him whole. I was paralyzed with awe and horror. My mind was too broken to give any command to my body. And those footsteps, heavy yet light, were walking around me, slowly in the total darkness.

The full moon then broke through the clouds and the thinnest threads of light fell on the snow. I saw the beast standing in front of me, staring directly into my eyes. It was as large as my home, coated with black fur, wiry and undulating with its horrid, gaunt mass. I could feel its hot, wet breath bath over me. But, its eyes were the strangest part of that giant, wolfish creature.

Its eyes were blue, like human eyes, almost like mother’s eyes, almost. Those familiar eyes were made placid with an uncanny, terrible indifference. They seemed only to imitate empathy, because in reality they were too detached for any real emotion. I shuddered when I saw them, yet I was still drawn to them. Somehow, they were and were not mother’s. I thought I heard a low noise deep within its abhorrent mass, like a purr or whimper, affectionate and somber. The great wolf turned and bounded away, flying through the snow with the force of an avalanche, yet the softly as morning mist.

I found my way back to the village. After I told them what happened they explained that a large wolf had been prowling the distant countryside for about a decade and were glad I escaped, but bewildered as to how. The village sent search parties but never found mother. The wolf too vanished after that night.

The page ends there except for that one, mysterious name, Anna. I could see hints of a date, a location, on the page, but as I said they were scratched away. But, for some reason, whoever did so left that one name, Anna, and this most macabre tale to accompany it. This is certainly the strangest thing I found at Half Price.