Hunted Folk Series Part 3
By Madame X ©1996 The Rift Arts Forum Publication
There was only one shadow, silhouetted against the setting sun, sitting on the stone wall facing the lake. It had to be him. As I approached, I noticed his dark hair and his wide muscular back. Sensing my presence, he turned toward me. Controlled, sorrowful eyes were set in a stern geometric face curiously protected by trimmed eyebrows, and by a thin short beard and mustache. He was wearing a loose white shirt, tight at the cuffs and unbuttoned about the neck, revealing a masculine chest.
After our initial introductions, with an understanding of complete and utmost confidentiality, I sat down beside him, and the interview began.
Some experts would say that you are indeed a Werewolf, but only in your mind. They would say that Lycanthropy is a delusion and that you do not actually shape-shift into a wolf, but that you think you do. They would say you are afflicted with some type of dementia.
They are not experts. They are non-believers. I do change into a wolf. I am a Werewolf.
How does this change come about? Legend tells us it is triggered by the moon, and that it is initially brought on by the bite of another Werewolf. Others say it is drug-induced. Do you use some ointment or balm on your body? Some potion of the ages, some ancient recipe. Tell me, is it some kind of craft?
Craft, indeed! The full moon assists. It makes the changes frequent. Sudden. This malady is witch sent. No doubt. Since Roman times my family has been plagued. In us lives the curse. Not in all, only in some. Generations are often spared. Other times, not. Sometimes, even newborns are beset with it.
How do you know that newborns will be Werewolves? The general public never hears about such cases. Does medical science diagnose Lycanthropy?
Doctors see nothing. We remain silent . . . forgotten. Sometimes daylight scars our young. Sometimes hair grows too fast. These are signs. Teen years will tell. Only then does the changing begin. We must prepare them. Teach them. Protect them.
Do you have children of your own?
No. Two nephews. I am married. We have sired no young.
Is your wife aware that you are a Werewolf?
Yes. Some hide the disgrace. I confessed all to her. Except...
Except what? Or shouldn’t I ask!?
... Except ... except my secret place. When the change comes, I go there. There, I am alone. There, I lose myself. My form. My mind. There I cry and later laugh. There I gain my form. My understanding. But never become whole. This place is most secret.
This metamorphosis, this change, is it painful? Tell me what you feel.
A Pain so familiar ... My vision distorts. Colors around me more vivid. Red. Black. Bright white. My blood on fire . . . burning my flesh . . . my head . . . I must run. I must escape. Never easy. Never gentle. Sometimes I cannot hold on. I fall. Clenching rage. Contorting. Spasming. Aware. Ashamed. Gasping violently. Losing consciousness ... Sometimes I can hold on. Still running. Screaming. Flesh of clay. Crackling bone. Running. Howling. I find my secret place. Then lose myself. And gain the form of a wolf. The temper of a wolf. The senses. The hunger ... My hunger. It hurts to speak of it. Such yearning.
Tell me of your hunger. Do you feed on live animals? People?
This hunger. Not just for food. Hunger for running in the woods. Wind through fur. Freedom. Hunger for leaping. Cushioned paws. Fast-beating heart. Hunger for howling. The moon. The vastness of the sky . . . Nature. Freedom. Hunger for the scents in the wind. Humm . . . Sharp eyes. Sharp ears. Sharpness! Hunger for my kind. To be among them. Hunger for mating. But also hunger for the hunt. For the chase. For the kill and for the taste ... I admit. Make it known! I do not hunt children. Or the old. Or the needed.
I sense a great sorrow and detachment in you. Yet, just now, when you described your hunger as a wolf, you seemed pleased, almost gratified. It must be an incredibly powerful feeling to be able to shape-shift into a wolf. Some people would do just about anything to have such power. How do you feel about yourself?
I ... incomplete. Never whole. Alone as a man. Temporary as a wolf. This malady - a curse. . . . Power - what power? Power is for those who command the change. The change commands me. Not triggered by thoughts. Nor words. Nor feelings. The change comes upon me. Demanding. Overpowering. Uncaring of time. Uncaring of place. The change comes upon me ... The change comes upon me ...
It is obvious that this duality brings you pain. If you could end the anguish by choosing to become either one permanently, would you choose man or beast?
I ... I ... The change comes upon me ... I must go ... The change comes upon me....
As he said this, he quickly jumped to his feet and sprinted to his right, into the woods. Under normal circumstances, this would mark the end of my interview, but not this time. Devoid of fear, I followed him. I noticed that the sun had disappeared behind the horizon - I wondered if I was completely crazy for doing this. The trees and shrubs obstructed my path. I could hardly see. I followed the growls, the half-screams, half-roars, the moans and yelps; I knew he wasn’t too far away. The sounds soon changed, almost muffled. I followed. Suddenly I saw a chapel before me, long abandoned and overtaken by ivy and thorn bushes. The walls were cracked and crumbling. There was a large bell in the steeple, and above it a twisted iron cross. As silently as I could, I made my way to the closest wall and peered through what was left of a stained glass window. At first I saw nothing, just pitch black. Then, as my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I made out the wooden pews, the isle, the altar, and directly in front of it, a moving shadow. It was in the shape a kneeling man, crouched, head touching the floor. It had to be him. His clothing was piled beside him. He cried and several times raised his head, yelling fiercely, making me cringe, and almost knocking me off balance. I observed quietly for 20 minutes, maybe 45 - I lost track. His body arched and contorted, shaking incessantly. There was a huge bulge growing on his upper back, and with his fists clenched he hit the ground repeatedly (I think his hands were bleeding). Tufts of hair sprouted from the nape of his neck, on his shoulders and down his back. His contorting body seemed almost puppet-like. I could only be dreaming, but no! This time I was awake. Before me, this man became a hairy beast and the beast, in turn, slowly became an enormous black wolf. After this incredible transformation, the wolf lay there motionless. I too, dared not move. A twitch, a stir . . . he got up, sniffed the air and faced me. His wild eyes glowed red through the darkness. Nostrils flaring, he snarled, growled, and with a phenomenal leap, jumped through the window opposite mine, disappearing into the thick of the woods. I never saw him again. But his wild eyes answered my last question to him:
“My heart is that of a wolf. My body, only sometimes. I choose beast over man. I choose beast over man...”