Fog hung low and thick as I moved through the dark woods like a wisp of wind. I will get them, all of them, I told myself, blocking a branch from whipping against my face. They will pay—with more than just their lives. They will lose their very souls.
The laboratory was only a few miles away. My colleagues were working late. The moon had reached the proper cycle for the next test, but there was plenty of time. They, no doubt, had corrected my sabotage. At midnight, Carolyn would be sitting in their damnable machine. Since their failure with me, logic dictates they would transform my beloved wife next. She knew too much, and her transformation would serve two purposes. It would shut her up, and she would serve as the next subject in their attempt to create the perfect werewolf.
I loved my wife. More than life, and needed her more than breath. A shiver ran through me—not from the cold—from the horror of her captivity. The doctors believed they would have better luck with her. I, however, had different plans. After all, I was the man who designed that damnable machine they called Crain’s Bell. It was under duress that I first took on the project. Senator Nicholas commissioned the machine to create his beastly weapon, but it was good old Malcolm Crain, who they called upon to build it. They drugged me for compliance, but unawares to them, my system grew accustomed to their drugs and their plan failed. I changed the final formula for the machine to thwart its completion. Unfortunately, they discovered my plan, so I became the machine’s first victim.
The transformation is a messy one, wrought with agony. Froth drips from my fangs, coating my chin and chest like ocean foam. Blood flows from my ears and nose, running like tears from fiery eyes, coating what little clothing that drapes in tatters upon my broken frame. Spasmodic jolts of pain shoot through muscle and nerve, convulsing and twisting my body as my features undergo the devilish metamorphosis.
I reached the road that led to the laboratory. Waiting in the thickets, two soldiers in a Hummer mounted the hill on their way to the compound. Adrenaline surged through my system sending a bolt of rage to my soul. I crouched low and sprang when they reached my location. The windshield shattered, and I landed on the console between them. The driver swerved to the left out of shock. The passenger screamed as his head slammed into the door, his blood smearing across the window. I still relish the wide-eyed look of terror that spread across their faces just before crushing their jugulars. It was over with one squeeze from each hand, claws digging deep into flesh. The Hummer smashed into a tree, sending me flying through the air and out of the vehicle the same way I got in.
Shaking off the effect of my impact with the tree, I was on my way, running toward the compound. The road was muddy, due to an earlier downpour, but claws dug deep providing plenty of traction. Nearing the gate, I could see only two men stood guard outside the kiosk. A shallow drainage ditch on the left side of the road, provided cover as I edged my way up close. When no one was watching, I slipped up to the wall. I pressed close, waiting to make sure I had not been observed.
Then, in one effortless movement, I was over the wall and crouching silently in the shadow of a large elm tree. I could have simply bypassed the two guards at their post and the one now revealed inside the kiosk…but where was the fun in that?
Instead, I moved with lightning speed and dove through the flimsy walls of the kiosk with a screech that froze my victim from sheer astonishment. Exhilaration mounted as my heart pumped pure adrenalin through my nervous system. My claws ripped across his throat, the warmth of life spilling out and over my hands. Continuing through the other side of the kiosk, I fell upon both outside guards at once. The fools stood too close together.
The man nearest me fell backwards. The rifle that slung over his shoulder drove into his spinal cord as he hit the ground. He arched his back, his pain hidden by the horror that painted his face. His companion had a split second longer to react. He managed to slip the rifle strap off his shoulder. However, the look in his eyes revealed he had no idea what he would have done with it, even if he had the time to take it in hand. It didn’t matter in the end. He had no time. He joined his companion on the ground. I flailed about with both hands while holding them down with my knees. It was a glorious mess and it happened so quickly, they had no time to cry out. The power was exhilarating, the strength in my arms and legs. The heart that beat so wildly within me would have exploded in my human chest. Yet, in this form, it held up vigorously to the sheer glory of the kill. When I had my fill of the wonderfully exhilarating slaughter, I threw back my head to the moon. It took all my strength to stop myself from howling. It would not have paid to warn the guards between the gate and the lab.
Those foolish doctors helped me change into this monstrosity but they never dreamed that I would—love it. Yes, love it. The power coursing through my veins, the energy surging through my nervous system and the darkness deep within my soul, were fodder to my newfound cause and fuel for my glorious future. I never felt more alive. With evil as my ally and contempt as my companion, nothing was beyond my grasp.
They believed they had a madman on their hands. They believed their only failure was not being able to bend me to their will. They were wrong. They failed in more ways than that, because I know who I am, can change at will, control my lust—somewhat; and I still know that damnable machine far better than any of them. Tonight they will all learn the true extent of their failure, and sweet Carolyn will be free to witness their demise.
She never wanted me to get involved with such a project, even though her understanding of its full ramifications was shallow. Her tender heart had no comprehension of such bizarre undertakings. My mind is still full of her beauty. She looked ravishing the night of the test. I can still smell her perfume and see in my mind’s eye that lavender gown. It was my favorite, and so she wore it for me at dinner that night. Neither of us knew that would be the last time we would see each other, until tonight that is. If she only knew. The others would never have told her of my successful escape and the manhunt that the honorable senator had secretly ordered, a hunt I must evade on my furtive trek to the lab.
Running in a crouch, I made my way to the parking lot and to Dr. Blake’s car. He was the sweetheart who administered my drugs. I changed into my human form and pulled open the driver’s-side back door—the fool never locked it—and retrieved the white lab coat that hung on the loop. It would help to hide my bloody shirt. The dirt on my blue jeans wouldn’t be noticed. They were old and worn anyway.
The lab coat was a tight fit but it served my purpose immediately. A soldier, walking his post with a guard dog on the knoll that stretched between the parking lot and the drive, strolled by. He looked at me and nodded his head hello. The trees he walked under must have shaded his eyes from the lights of the parking lot, allowing him to see me clearly. Yet, presumably because of the coat, he did not recognize me. My colleagues must have posted my picture so the guards would more easily place me. There was no doubt the dog was acquainted with my scent. The distance between us may also have played a roll in his inability to recognize me. That, coupled with the beard that was hard to keep in check for more than a few hours at a time.
I cut a wide swath around the knoll and approached the building from the woods line that stretched along the east side of the property. I did not want to get too close to that dog. Even if it didn’t pick up the scent of Mr. Crain, it might very well pick up the scent of the wolf within me. That scent is more akin to its nature and therefore more readily noticed.
At first, I decided to make my entrance from the back of the building, but my approach on the east wing forced me to duck into the bushes, pressing close against the brick veneer.
Dogs! More damn dogs.
I hadn’t considered dogs while planning my break-in. It was clear now that I should have. There were two more guards, both with dogs, walking posts along the east side of the building. After considering my options, I decided to go in the front door.
I slid along the wall of the building, keeping well hidden behind the shrubbery and ducking under the windows that came between the front entrance and me. Upon reaching my destination, I scanned the area, and finding it clear, stepped out in the open about ten feet from the double doors.
A guard leaned against the wall smoking a cigarette, standing his post in a most casual manner. Seeing me step out of the bushes startled him. He hesitated. His eyes drifted down to my feet. Shoes are impossible to wear while in my wolf image. My massive talon-like toes break through any footwear I’m wearing during the transition. As he recovered, he tossed out his cigarette and began to reach for his gun. Fortunately, the holster was at his hip, the flap down and buttoned.
Swiftly, I covered the distance between us. I caught hold of his hand, held it against his hip, and placed my right hand over his mouth. Allowing the wolf side of me to emerge, I snarled at him with yellow eyes and sharp, frothing teeth. Pushing him back into the shadows and up against the wall, I withdrew my threatening features and returned to myself.
“Unless that gun of yours has silver bullets, it will do you little good. Don’t you agree?” With my face pressed close, he swallowed hard, his eyes wide with fright. He nodded his head. “Good. Then what do you say? Let’s take a little stroll inside, shall we?” Beads of sweat materialized on his forehead. “I’m going to take my hand away from your mouth now. You realize I can take your head off in an instant, don’t you?”
“Good. Then we have an understanding.”
I turned him toward the door and looked over my shoulder. No one had seen us. The guard on the knoll could come by at any minute and see us, even though we were under an alcove and shaded from the lights. We had to hurry.
“Use your passkey. Quickly.”
He slid the card that hung around his neck into the electronic lock. A metallic click and a small green light indicated the door was unlocked.
“What…?” he said with a shaky voice as his nerves crumbled to the concrete below his feet.
“Open the door and act like you and I are best friends laughing at the funniest joke you ever heard.”
If it became necessary to do away with this guy, I didn’t want to make a mess that could be spotted by anyone passing by. So, I pulled his revolver free from his holster and held it to his back as he opened the door. We entered the building. I edged him towards the counter at the center of the lobby laughing with his gun pushed into his back. The man behind the desk smiled, but a curious look crossed his face as he noticed my shoeless feet. He began to rise.
“Just sit down, keep your mouth shut and your hands in plain sight.” With the gun pointing at his head, he was quick to comply.
“You,” I said to the man at my side, “get back there with him.” Following him behind the counter, I brought the gun down hard on the back of his head. He groaned and slumped to the floor, slipping into the more peaceful netherworld.
“All right, you wanted to get up. Do it now.”
He rose on shaky legs and held his hands at shoulder height. “I’m no hero, mister,” he said. “I have a wife and two kids. Just tell me what you want me to do.”
This one was no soldier. He was just a security guard, hired by the firm to see that nobody entered the premises without signing in. I had seen him before. His name was Rick, as his name badge confirmed. My issue had nothing to do with him.
“Ok, Rick, let’s take a walk. We’re going downstairs.” I motioned with the gun. “You first.”
We walked to the elevator and he swiped his card in the electronic lock and pushed the down button. The door opened instantly.
“What floor?” he asked, as we stepped inside.
“The labs; but when we get there, hold the doors closed.”
Rick held his finger near the ‘door close’ button as we rode the elevator to the third lower level. His finger shook and I could see the sweat beading on his forehead. His face was red. He swallowed hard.
“Take it easy.” I tried to keep my voice as soothing as possible. I knew this man didn’t deserve this kind of trouble. I felt sorry for him and thought of his family—of my family. I had no children, but I knew how Carolyn would feel if I were in this man’s shoes. I got into this trouble with my eyes wide open. This man, however, had no idea what went on in these labs and probably didn’t even care. “You’ll be going home in the morning, just like every other day,” I promised. “I have no reason to harm you as long as you do as I say. You will do as I say, won’t you, Rick?”
“Yes, anything,” he replied in a nervous voice and pushed the ‘hold’ button as the elevator came to a bouncing stop.
“I’m sorry about this,” I said, as I brought the gun down on his head, “but it can’t be helped.” He fell to the floor of the elevator and the door began to slide open. I placed the gun in the pocket of the lab coat and stepped out into the hall.
There was no one around, as I suspected would be the case at that hour. I turned left and headed for the adjoining hall. A right turn would lead me to the second door on the right, Lab D, my destination. As I made the turn I froze in my tracks, noticing a guard posted outside of the lab with his M15 slung over his shoulders. He noticed me too.
“Halt!” he shouted. This one is no slouch, I remember thinking. He stepped out and fixed his feet at shoulder width, presenting his rifle as backup to his command. It was clear he meant business.
“Ah…” I stammered, trying to think fast. Stalling, I placed my hand on my forehead. It was an unconscious effort to hide my face as well as gather my thoughts. While in this form, normal bullets had no effect. But there are other ways to kill a werewolf.
I began to stagger forward, as an idea came to me. “I…I’m…” I stuttered and fell to one knee, my head held low, my left hand bracing against the cold tiled floor. “Help me, I…” and with that, I slumped forward and fell face down onto the floor.
The guard was a seasoned soldier, but he reacted just as I thought he would. He stepped up and stooped to examine me. In that position, he was off balance. When he attempted to roll me over; I changed into the beast within me and struck out at his head. The poor man didn’t have a chance. He flew through the air, crashed into the wall, then slid to the floor and laid still. I knew he was dead before he hit the wall. I heard his neck snap when I struck him.
I dragged his body and weapon into unoccupied Lab A and then peered around the edge to the next lab to make certain the window curtains were closed. I was not surprised to find they were. The good doctors and the honorable senator wouldn’t want prying eyes to witness their damnable work-in-progress.
Still in my wolf’s image, I moved to the door and checked quietly to see if it was locked. It was. Nothing is going to be easy tonight, I thought. I would have spoken the words aloud if I were able to speak while in that condition; I was that frustrated by then. But it didn’t matter; I was going to succeed anyway. One way or another, they were all going to pay.
I opened the door to Lab C, which was across the hall, and entered to afford myself some running room. I then drove forward with all the strength my altered form allowed me. The door to Lab D gave way like balsa, splintering inward, sending flying wooden slivers everywhere. The horrific crash echoed back to me from the hollow of the gallery beyond.
I slumped forward, posing like a muscle builder and growled as loud as my lungs would permit. Senator Nicholas froze where he stood at the small balcony’s front railing. I heard something fall to the ground from the dais below. One of the startled doctors dropped something metallic on the floor.
Below, on the dais, the first thing I saw was Doctor Blake, standing over my wife who he had strapped to the injection chair. One had to be strapped down in order to administer the doses. It took three injections and each one caused a violent spasmodic reaction. My anger seethed. I lost all control. I snarled again, coiling for a leap, while froth dripped from my large and pointed canines.
I sprang toward the senator. He screamed, lifting his hands to his face, a futile but spontaneous response. I landed close, grabbed him by his jacket and leaped again. The momentum carried us over the railing to the lab floor twelve feet below. I landed on my feet, but lost my grip on the senator. He struck the floor with a crushing blow, driving the air from his lungs.
Baring down hard, I attempted to revert to my human form. It didn’t come easy. The beast within fought for control. Adrenaline surged. Animal instinct struggled against human willpower. I shook my head vigorously as I bore down again. I reached for the senator. Lifting him, I used him for a shield as Doctor Borden dashed for the drawer where he kept a gun. There was little doubt as to the type of ammunition that had been loaded in that pistol. Just as Borden spun around with gun in hand, I managed to regain control and changed back into myself.
I adjusted behind my captive and, peering over his shoulder said, “Be very careful, Doctor. I’m sure you wouldn’t want anything to happen to the senator. Your funding would dry up in an instant if he weren’t around. Think about it.”
Doctor Borden didn’t move. He just stood there, pointing the gun. His hand shook as beads of sweat began to appear on his partially bald head and his glasses slipped down on his nose. He was obviously very nervous and therefore, very dangerous. I pulled the gun out of my pocket and pushed the barrel to the senator’s right temple. “Drop it, Borden, or I’ll shoot the son-of-a-bitch myself. Do it now and kick it this way, off the dais.”
The doctor reacted slowly, hesitantly. He lowered the gun slightly at first before bringing it back to bear. I pulled back the hammer of my gun, the click echoing through the gallery. “What? You think I won’t do it? I am warning you, doctor, don’t try my patience because it’s running mighty thin. Now drop it, damn it! I won’t be telling you again.”
This time he complied. The gun slid off the dais and fell to the tiled floor, out of reach of the three men on the platform.
“That’s a good boy. Now, Doctor Blake, I’ll give you about ten seconds to get my wife out of that chair. Move!”
And move he did, fumbling with the leather straps until, one by one, they fell away and Carolyn was free.
“Malcolm,” she cried, “thank God you’re here. What happened to you?” she asked, reacting to my werewolf appearance. “What have they done?”
“I’ll explain it to you later. Pick up the gun and hold it on these fellows while I strap our good senator to the chair.”
“What are you going to do to me?” asked the senator, with panic in his voice as Carolyn picked up the gun. He knew what the chair meant, and he feared he was going to be the Bell’s next victim.
“Don’t worry. I would never do to you what you did to me and were going to do to my wife. You’re far too important a man to this great country of ours, aren’t you, senator?” I said, sarcasm clinging to my words. “I just want to show you something,” I explained, as I strapped him in, “and I don’t want you running away before I’m through.”
Once he was secure, I turned my gun on the doctors. “Doctor Kline, open the Bell and step inside.”
“No!” he screamed. “You can’t do this.” I thought he was going to pass out from fright. “I haven’t had the injections. It’s inhuman. My God, what kind of man are you?”
“What kind of a man am I? I am exactly what you made me, am I not? Now get inside the Bell, damn you. I’m not going to do anything to you, you blithering fool. I just want you locked up while I speak to the senator.” I turned to Blake and Borden, “And you two follow him. Move!”
The Bell was made for only one occupant and the chair inside took up much of the space. It was a tight fit, but they managed to squeeze inside. I closed the door and threw the latch. The window to the Bell was shoulder high and I could see that the doctors were panicking. It made me feel good to see them trapped and shaking like the condemned men that they truly were. I pushed the button on the right side of the machine and the red light came on above the Bell. This meant the system was activated, and the doctors lost all control. They started pounding on the glass, yelling words that could not escape the soundproof shell of the machine.
“My God, man,” exclaimed the senator. “You said you weren’t going to do this to them.”
I turned and gave him an evil smile. “I lied. You’re familiar with that, aren’t you Senator? Of course you are. After all, that’s what you do for a living. Isn’t it?”
I walked to the control panel and turned the first dial to the position marked ‘25’. This activated the chemical mist and the machine made a hissing sound as the Bell began to cloud up. Soon the panic-stricken doctors could no longer be seen as they disappeared in the fog.
“How can you do this?” protested the senator. “They haven’t had the injections. The pain will be excruciating.”
“I have news for you, Senator. The injections don’t work, not much anyway. Oh, they will feel pain all right—a lot of it. I feel pain every time I change into the wolf. It gets less each time but their pain will last for as long as they live. I promise you that.” I placed my hand on the next dial. “Have you ever wondered what would happen if this acceleration knob was turned to the left, instead of to the right? Let me show you,” I replied, before he had a chance to answer.
As I turned the knob, the machine began to shake and its foundations began to rumble. I turned the dial further, smoke began to pour out from beneath the Bell, and the bolts that secured it to the floor began to shake loose. The noise was deafening.
“Just a little more,” I yelled above the din, and turned the dial all the way to the left. The machine rocked on its foundations and the red light began to spin, sending beams of light flashing around the gallery. The flashing red light was a warning that something had gone wrong and to shut down the machine immediately. Before I could deactivate it, not that I was in any real hurry, the bolts fell loose and sparks flew from the cables that powered the machine. The Bell made a whirring sound then fell silent and still.
By this time, the senator was openly weeping, tears streaming down his face. He sat helplessly and shook his head, which had fallen, his chin resting on his chest. He repeated the words, “My God, my God, what have you done?”
“Well, let’s find out,” I replied. “Let’s look, shall we?”
I walked to the machine and flipped the latch, while waving the smoke away. I pulled open the door and heard Carolyn scream as she turned away from the gruesome sight. There, before me, I saw bits of clothing tucked into the folds of a huge mass of sweaty flesh and greasy fur. There were appendages, legs, arms and other things I could not put a name to, jutting out in all directions. There was a mouth here and a mouth there, scattered about in no apparent symmetry. Some were human, some canine in nature; the same with its ears and noses. The eyes seemed human and blinked with astonishment and fright, as the mouths mouthed words that were little more than clicks and hisses.
The wolf in me flared to the fore and I howled my delight to the lights above the gallery, as if they were a substitute for the moon. Then I turned and noticed the senator had fainted.
I quickly changed back and ran to his side. “Oh, no you don’t,” I yelled, as I patted his face to bring him to. “I’m not finished with you yet.” His eyes opened and his head drooped this way and that, as he attempted to collect his thoughts. His face was chalky-white, but soon he was aware of what was happening.
“There’s something I want to show you, Senator.” I went to the control panel and pulled open a small door on its side. I reached in and around the steel framework and pulled out two wires that had been tucked and folded out of sight. “You see these two wires? You didn’t know they existed, did you? Well, neither did the good doctors. I put them there just in case I’d need them. They are my little self-destruct mechanism. Crude, but effective, I can assure you. I just connect these two ends like this,” I continued, as I twisted the exposed copper wires together, “and do you know what I’ve got now? A bomb. Well, I might as well have. Lab D won’t survive the explosion, as well as a good part of Lab B, I would suspect. Carolyn, get him out of that chair, we have to get out of here now. We’ve got ten minutes before it blows and he’s our ticket out.”
I turned toward the senator as Carolyn released him. “Where’s your car parked?”
“In the back, by the doors to the office,” he replied.
“Excellent, let’s go.”
We climbed three flights of stairs and out the double glass doors to a small crowd of guards with dogs, their guns drawn and pointed directly at us. Carolyn and I held our guns on the senator. “Well, Senator?” was all I said.
“It’s okay,” he said to the guards, “let them pass.”
“No,” I corrected him. “Let us pass. The senator will be coming with us.”
“My driver?” he questioned.
The driver stood next to the door of the car in a black suit, tie and cap. He was another innocent one, I figured, like Rick the security guard.
“Carolyn will drive. Your driver will stay here,” I replied.
We got into the car without incident, Carolyn behind the wheel and Senator Nicholas and me in the back seat. In no time, we were at the front gate and Carolyn edged the car carefully around the bloody mess I had made there. She stopped the car in front of the closed gate.
“Inside, Carolyn, you should find a button to open the gate. It should be marked.”
I watched out the back window to see if anyone was following us. As of yet, there was no one. Soon the gate began to grate open and Carolyn ran back to the car. As we were leaving the compound, we heard an explosion. That will keep them busy for a while, I thought.
When we drove through the gate, we were three. A few minutes later, it was only Carolyn and I, running through the woods with her resting in my massive werewolf arms. They would find the car on the side of the road, the honorable senator dead in the back seat, his throat slashed with three broad stripes.
We live safely now in our new home in the woods, not far from the laboratory compound, if they only knew. I keep a close eye on what goes on there at all times, through certain contacts that share my point of view. If ever there is another evil project perpetrated there, I will know…and they will see me again.
© 2006 Paul H. Kogel. All Rights Reserved.