Like blood from a fatal wound, shivers ran down Morgan's spine. It was not the dark chill of the night, but the word the old man spoke. "Lycanthrope" he said while casually gesturing towards the shuffling form in the distance.
She was an avid reader and preferred horror. Just recently she had read the last of the R.L. Stine Goosebump series and had moved on to meatier horror stories. She knew the word meant 'werewolf'. She could see it in his gait as he approached. Walking upright without grace, as if it would be more efficient to lope along on all fours, but the hind legs are too long and clawed hands have replaced the front paws.
"All the better to claw you with." She imagined him growling as the last seconds of her life drained out her ripped out throat, the dreams of her life lost to a fell beast.
He'd shuffle to the left, then shuffle to the right. The pattern repeating itself. It looked so familair, where had she seen it before?
Morgan tensed, frozen with fear, unable to breathe, her pulse pounding in her ears as something rustled in the trimmed bushes much closer on her left. Not one, but two things were moving in the shrubs when she remembered that wolves hunt in packs. Where you saw one, there were more and they'd circle their prey before they attacked.
That is what the one moving out in the open is doing. He's distracting them, shuffling about, while the others creep up from all sides preparing to attack. Are wolves smart enought to do this? Are werewolves? They have a human brain, but if it was working right, they wouldn't be vicious killers, would they? Morgan pondered this, not that the answer would prolong her life, till the crickets on her right stopped their chirping.
The shuffling as a distraction didn't seem quite right. There must be another reason.
In the menacing silence the only sound was the clouds sliding in front of the moon. Whatever was in the shrubs had stopped moving. They must be in position, eyes black, mouth half open, upper lip quivering, drool stringing towards the ground, she imagined. In the pale moonlight she strained her eyes trying to see their fetid breath rising.
Morgan though how she hated the word gibbous as she looked at the moon. Her brother has books to horrible for her to read. She knows, she read part of one, but could read no further. In one, a despicable horror named Yog-Suggoth killed people and the lucky ones were driven insane. Yog-Suggoth, gibbous, they sounded like words from the same foul language. "It is truely a gibbuos moon" Morgan thought.
Her grandfather's gun always scared her, but tonight she was glad it was there, tucked into his waistband with just the littlist bit of grip showing. Earlier that year, her favorite teacher, Ms Evans had asked her class if there are any guns in their homes. Two of her friends raised their hands and told, but Morgan couldn't. She felt like she let Ms Evans down, and felt bad about it, but the thought of raising her hand just felt worse.
She knew her grandfather reloaded. Now she understood why. Silver bullets! "Those bullets he loads must be silver, why else reload. Everyone knows that you can't buy silver bullets, you have to reload your own" she thought.
Then she pondered, "If they're silver, why aren't they shiny?" as she began to doubt the old man's ability to protect her. "Because he doesn't polish them" she answered as she realized the obvious answer. She had seen her Grannies silver teapot range from dull gray to blinding brilliance depending on the formality of the family visit.
Morgan realized where she had seen that shuffling, side to side, gait. Her brother's dog, Sherlock, would trot like that when he knew a rabbit had been in their yard. He would do it when hunting, casting to and fro, trying to pick up a scent. That's what the werewolf was doing. He was searching for her scent. It would not be long till he found it.
Morgan looked at her grandfather who sat, relaxed, next to her. How could he not see what I see? He pointed out the werewolf in the first place! Why was he not reaching for his gun? Then she realized that her grandfather trimmed his ear hair. He had more ear hair than any man she had ever seen. The revellation that her grandfather was a werewolf stretched her limits of comprehension.
Two forms burst from the hedge and savagely attacked their prey. Talons pierced flesh and hungry mouths ripped into their first meal of the night. Their victim never had a chance to utter a sound. In short time, night seeing eyes atop blood smeared faces, flew off into the night searching for more to eat.
Morgan shrieked and leapt into her grandfather's lap nearly knocking him off the porch step.
"It's OK Possum, that was just the Owls from the Hedge. They're harmless, unless you're a fieldmouse."
The figure out on the street turned and looked. Morgan then recognized him as Lycan Thorpe and realized that her imagination had just run wild. Lycan was nice, but old enough for college. Brittney's sister, the first day she had her drivers license, had snuck into the Longshot Saloon and danced with him. "Lycan is nice and not a bad kisser" was how she told the story, but warned that "his tongue tastes like beer."
Morgan thought that Lycan was lonely and needed a girlfriend, but that hardley made him a werewolf. The beer might make him stagger, but that doesn't make him a werewolf either.
"Oh, Lycan Thorpe" she said in relief that her grandfather hadn't said 'lycanthrope.'
With a nod, her grandfather quizzed "What do you think I said? I think you're reading to many scary books?" and grinned as he remembered the thrill that follows a good scare.
The two got up, entered the house to the smell of fresh hot apple cider, and closed the door on the night.
The gibbous moon lit the path for Lycan as he resumed casting for scent, the night was fresh and his hunger gnawed.