The creepy conclusion to the Halloween story arc.
Walking Wolf Road
By: Brandon Herbert
As we walked home that night, we all agreed that we would call an emergency sleep-over that night… An actual sleep-over at Fen's house this time though. Jack and Malcolm had not been in P.E. for the test today, but I couldn't find the energy to make myself feel guilty about them. I could feel myself being watched; and I looked around expectantly, but didn't' catch sight of the giant bird, not even on Wolf Road, the last place I'd seen it. Nothing but elementary school kids crunching their way home through the leaves, many wearing their costumes early. Loki too seemed very on edge, very weary of this whole thing. It was an easy matter to talk mom into letting me go; I didn't have school the next day and I neglected to mention that Loki would also be in attendance. Woops, silly me…
We called Geri, who arrived an hour later, bearing a box wrapped in a piece of fabric. We all pooled our money and called out for Pizza. Geri took Loki by her house to pick up some things, and then they went to pick up the food. Fen and I busied ourselves during their absence by cleaning and clearing Fen's small bedroom as much as possible. Fen took some candles of various colors and sizes out of one of his drawers, and we set them up around the room. I could already feel the early autumn sunset descending upon us; a sensation that usually filled me with vigor now carried a heavy sense of foreboding. Fen was preparing some incense when they returned. The pizza was quickly dispatched, Geri being the only one who made any real attempt at conversation; and surprisingly, it was Fen who seemed to offer up the most in return! Both Loki and I were too exhausted and preoccupied to really contribute, but as Geri's enthusiasm wore at us, and the pizza's nutrients entered our bloodstream; we both began to loosen up a bit.
"Well, I guess you're probably wondering why I felt compelled to draw us together tonight on such short notice," Fen said, after a recent bout of laughter died down. "Basically this; something unusual has been haunting us recently; and tonight, with the pack together and strong, I intend to confront it. And also, since it is Halloween; let's try to still manage to get a bit of fun out of it all!"
We all cheered and raised our glasses of various fluids in toast, "After all…" He continued, "Halloween is the one time of the year we can take off our costumes and masks! Loki, if you would do the honors?"
Loki retrieved the backpack she'd brought from home; and pulled out a box, it was glossy black with cartoon skull and crossbones on it in white. She opened it, and exposed several shapes and colors of bottles and sticks.
"Loki, I never would have taken you as one for makeup?" I teased.
"Nor I, you…" She winked at me, "I usually don't do much, but every once and a while I like to get done up just like any girl… So, shall I do him first?" She asked looking at Fen and ominously holding up a black pencil of some kind.
"Be my guest," Fen gestured, no one seeming to hear my exclamations of confusion.
Loki scooted up close to me and leaned over toward my face, "Close your eyes, and try not to move them too much…"
"What're you doing?" I stammered nervously.
"Making you wolfey, now shut your eyes…" Trustingly, I did so… at least she didn't' say 'make you beautiful'… I tried to hold my eyelids still, but they jumped bunched and twitched completely beyond my control as the pencil slid over them. I felt sort of embarrassed, but also strangely … uh… is 'entertained' the word? I don't know, I think it was just too much Mountain Dew; everything was starting to seem a little too funny…
"Try to hold your eyes still…"
"I'm sorry, I'm trying!"
Finally; she finished and moved on to Geri, who was still ravenously munching on pizza. I excused myself to the bathroom to find out what she'd done to me. I glanced into the mirror half expecting to see some slutty drag-gone-wrong motif and was pleasantly surprised instead. The dark lines peaked downward toward my nose, and tapered outward from the corners of my eyes; overall giving my eyes the shape and resemblance of a wolf's eyes. As I stared; I noticed my eyes slowly growing lighter, a dark honey almost-yellow. I was reacting to my own reflection in the glass, bordering on a light mental shift.
I noticed a movement behind me, but when I looked there was nothing there; but the noise seemed to suddenly grow worse. The shift, I realized, the shift must be pulling me closer to the place of spirits…. My eyes were now almost full burnt amber, and my phantom limbs were all in attendance; my fur reacting and raising as the voices unnerved me.
I left the bathroom, no longer feeling semi-jovial, and reentered Fen's room like a rock into a pond. The others immediately sensed my altered mood, and my reacted shifting energy. Loki had finished Geri's eyes in a fraction of the time it took me; he probably didn't twitch as much as I did. She was still working on Fen's, and my eyes met his; one burning amber orb gazing out from a black setting just like my own, the other still set in a completely human visage. His eyes looked so striking in that setting; the black bands around the inside and outside of his iris standing out even more from the dark setting; and I found myself staring into his eyes without even realizing I had been. I quickly averted my gaze so that he wouldn't take it as a challenge; but still, my heart started to thud a little faster, and other parts of my body reacted and tightened… I wrote it off to the adrenaline and tried to ignore it; reminding myself that I'd been under a lot of stress lately…
"What happened Jimmy?" Geri asked, his green eyes also stood out lividly against their new wolfish surrounds.
I explained to them what happened. Fen closed his eyes, and Loki resumed working on the other side of his face, all levity gone from her.
"Geri?" Fen asked coldly.
"Get the board ready…"
Geri stood and crossed the room; he picked up the wrapped box that he had come in with; and unwound the cloth from around it. "Don't want my parents to see what it is," he answered a little embarrassed to my questioning gaze. He pulled off the fabric, and revealed an aged and faded board game box, with the word 'Ouija' just discernable on the cover.
"Is that a real Ouija board?" I asked; I'd heard so many urban legends about them, but I didn't think they were anything more than gag gifts now; this box definatly looked dated.
"Yeah, picked it up at a comic book store in Colorado Springs. This isn't one of those toy boards that Milton Bradley or whoever sells now at Wal-Mart; this thing is ancient… Only cost me like, five bucks too…" He said smiling.
"Fen? What are you planning?" I asked a little nervously, there were so many stories of curses and accidental demonic possession associated with this little board; the thoughts of what could happen with four werewolves operating it set my phantom fur on edge.
"We're going to try to contact this spirit that's been molesting us, and get them off our ass." He answered with a steel-sharp edge to his voice.
"Whoa, you sound pretty serious there cowboy…" Loki teased, as she finished his eye and sat back, recapping her pencil.
Fen's face remained blank, and his voice cold, but his eyes smoldered like a pair of coals. "Even though I might not be able to perceive them like you do; I'm not powerless… No one fucks with my pack, alive or dead…"
Fen's confidence bolstered my own; and I felt his power flare through the room; like a wave of heat crashing on an unseen shore. I felt safe somehow; knowing that we had a powerful leader, a strong alpha, who wouldn't let anything bad happen to us.
"I need to do my own eyes in a mirror…" Loki said, barely audibly, but still didn't move toward the door.
I quickly realized why, "I'll go with you." I said and started to stand.
"No. Geri, you go with her." Fen spoke. "I'll finish setting everything up."
I felt suddenly jealous and rejected. "Why? I don't mind…"
Fen didn't meet my eyes, "Because I don't want the two most psychic members to go where you've already had an encounter. I want Geri to go, because he can give her an anchor."
I didn't like it, and I didn't believe that Fen was telling me everything; but I sat back down anyway; and tried not to growl as Geri and Loki left the room; both of them glancing at me before they left. I just wanted to help her, why'd he have to shoot me down like that?
I sat in sullen silence; while Fen finished setting everything up, He went around the room one by one and lit the candles; then turned off the overhead light; shadows danced around the room, living for a time off the flickering orange lights. Loki and Geri reentered the room.
"Any problems?" Fen asked.
"No, nothing." She said, and we all sat down; each to one side of the square board. I couldn't help but feel a little vindicated when Fen was proved wrong.
"Okay; first try to clear your mind of any unnecessary clutter, don't think about school, chores, homework, nothing." Fen said. I tried to clear my thoughts, but the noises would not leave me be; so of course I kept thinking about the voices. Whispers nagging and burning in my mind like a slow smoldering rot. Oh well, at least I tried!
"Now, put your fingers on the piece. Just barely touch it, and don't push it; just let it move on its own accord… I'll ask the questions…"
We all settled around the board, our fingers finding purchase on the triangular pointer. It started drifting around a little bit, but not in any particular direction.
"Okay, are we all ready?" he asked. We all nodded and he continued, "We have questions, will you answer them?" The curser hovered a moment, then slid over to 'Yes'.
"Okay, reset the pointer, back to the center of the board… Will you answer them truthfully?" Again, the piece drifted over to the 'Yes' graphic, then recentered.
"Is the raven that landed on Jimmy a spirit of some kind?" Yes. "Does it have any malicious intent toward us?" No. "Is it in the room with us now?" Yes.
"Are we speaking with it now?" Yes… The hairs on the back of my neck began to bristle. Fen glanced up at me before he continued.
"Are you a nature spirit?" No. "Are you a disembodied vampire?" No.
"Were you alive at one time?" It paused a moment, then slid over 'Yes'. "Are you aware that you are dead?" Yes.
"Why are you haunting us?" Slowly, one letter at a time, the curser drifted and spelled out, 'Unfinished Business'. "With us?" Yes. I flashed back on yesterday; the look on Fen's face just before he stormed out of the Art room, 'Who died Fen?'… My intuition had been spot-on again…
Fen looked up and his eyes met with Loki's, the color draining even more from here pale face. "What is your name?"
A name popped into my head immediately, and I started chanting a mantra in my head; begging for it to be wrong. The curser began to move underneath our fingers again. 'C'. Shit, please no… 'O'. My mind raced; I could already almost see the darkness coming down over Loki's candlelit visage. 'R'. I tried to be as careful as possible so as not to raise suspicion; but as the curser moved toward the end of the alphabet, I pushed it to the side a little bit and held it over the 'Y', then forced it back to the center. I felt the eyes boring into the back of my head, I had made him break his promise; but I had upheld my own promise. He would inform me of the proper time, and not be forced out by some game board…
I tried not to let my guilt show on my face as Fen looked around the group, puzzled. Finally, a thought dawned on him and he looked at me, "Did you know someone named 'Cory' before?"
"Um, yeah; he was a kid I knew in California, he used to pick on me a lot and he got in a lot of trouble when the principal found out. I don't know why he would be haunting me though; and he was still alive as of the time I left there…" I lied, trying to think of something to keep Fen from the real conclusion a little longer. Let him suspect some unforeseen specter from the newcomer's past; "Maybe that's why I encountered it in the bathroom, but Loki didn't."
"When did you live in California?" Geri asked, distracted.
"About three years ago, just before Chicago. Lived just south of Corona."
Fen shook his head, and refocused from the distraction. "Are your attentions focused on Jimmy?" The board spelled out, 'Mostly'. "You say your intentions are not malicious, but the affect your attentions has had on my friends were unhealthy and stressful. Will you leave us alone?" '4 Now', was the reply, proving that whoever was moving the piece had very recently been in the world; recently enough to pick up on text message lingo…
Almost instantaneously, the oppressive eyes lifted their heavy gaze from me, and the voices faded away somewhat, though not completely. To my right, I heard Loki gasp a little, and look around; probably noticing the same things I did.
"What is it?" Fen asked.
"The voices they… they faded to almost nothing…" Loki looked at me grinning, her eyes sparkling with relief and joy; I couldn't help but smile back. She launched across the board and tackled me with a hug, both of us roaring with relieved laughter.
Levity returned to the evening; and we continued with the romping and the eating until the early hours of the morning, when Fen's mother came home from work, tired and ready for rest; at which point, we put in 'An American Werewolf in London', a classic creature-feature to wrap up our night. With the lights out, and a bowl of microwave popcorn circulating the room; my thoughts refused to stay rooted on the film.
I had been ready to write off the Ouija board… Any of them could have influenced the piece however they wanted to… until the name… I had not failed to notice that the curser was initially headed directly for the 'W', and even if I wasn't a genius, I was plenty smart enough to connect the pieces. There were answers I was gunna need; though apparently they would wait a short while. I would pay a visit to the newspaper records; and try to prepare myself as much as I possibly could for my next discussion in the Auditorium…