A Meeting in The Dark

I distilled the beginning of the following story down to a piece of 100 word Flash Fiction and some kind people asked to read the whole story, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

werewolfTime for “the last shit of the day.” That’s what Billy called this part of their daily routine. He and his dog turned onto the bridle way. Billy drew his cane into his chest. There were hedges and briars right along the narrow path and he didn’t want to get it caught in them. He kept up a steady stream of muttered encouragement to the dog. “There’s a good Maddie, good girl, not long now.”
He knew Maddie would look after him, but he still shuffled his feet to avoid falling over any uneven ridges in the mud caused by horses’ hooves. Billy sensed through the harness that Maddie had stopped for her night time evacuation. They always came to this path; Billy felt less of a conscience about leaving the mess here than he did elsewhere. He had tried cleaning up like most other dog owners do, but after several disastrous attempts which saw the shit spread exponentially over his clothes and shoes, he decided it was not really a job for a blind man. Until Maddie could guide his polythene wrapped hand to the target with accuracy, the shit would have to stay where it was. Thus they did it discreetly on the bridle path where the horses’ hooves would tread it in the next day.
After a short while the harness rose in his hand again and Maddie gave a barely audible signal. “All done girl?”
They continued along the path. Billy could feel it was a clear night, the temperature had dropped but it wasn’t too cold, just crisp and fresh. A recent shower had washed the midges out of the air and diluted the smell of decaying undergrowth. He was enjoying the sense of sparkle he felt about the place and let the pace slow to a saunter. After all, what was there to rush for? A jobless fifty year old blind man had little reason to rise early and when every moment is spent in darkness, the time of day usually had little significance.
Suddenly, he felt the dog tense and growl. “What is it girl? Eh? A Fox?”
Billy chuckled, Maddie was a well-trained, well balanced guide dog but she couldn’t abide foxes and even the smell of one could rankle her enough that she would lose concentration.
Billy tried to press on but the dog leant on his legs to stop him. She was alternately growling and whimpering now and Billy instinctively knew the problem was greater than fox.
“What’s there Maddie? What have you found girl?” and then to the night, “Hello, is someone there?”
He leant forward slightly, feeling the ground carefully with the tip of his cane. A yard in front of him it touched something. Billy let the edge of the object guide the cane. It traced something quite long, a broken branch? He poked the object with the cane, it yielded slightly. It wasn’t a broken branch.
“Oh no, Maddie, what have we found girl?” Billy removed his gloves and crouched down to touch the object in front of them. There was only so much he could tell from the cane. He felt his way tentatively, Maddie straining against him, trying to keep him away. At last Billy’s fingers found their target and he immediately recognised it as a foot, cold and clammy but definitely a small human foot. He’d hoped against this eventuality, but was prepared for it nonetheless and swallowed his revulsion. He counted the toes and began following the leg up with his hand, over the ankle, calf, knee. Maddie became more agitated as he went on, insistently barking warnings that she wasn’t happy.
“Sorry old girl but we have to do what we can.” From the touch, the naked smoothness of the skin and the lack of hair, Billy concluded he had stumbled upon the leg, of a young girl. The temperature of the thigh and lack of pulse told him she was no longer alive. He continued to work his way up. As his hand went over the top of the girl’s leg it dropped into a hole where her stomach should have been and this time Billy jumped back sharply. His hand was covered in a sticky fluid that he recognised from the iron-like smell and viscous texture, as blood. He composed himself and returned his hand carefully, hovering it over where he thought the stomach and chest should be. Fingertips trembling, he used them as an insect might use its antennae, searching for shapes, edges and contours. There was a hole where the stomach should have been and it extended up through her chest to the neck. His hand fell into the cavity several times causing Billy to retch. He felt the sharp prickle of her broken ribs that stuck up at right angles either side of her chest. The girl had been ripped apart and although her flesh was cold, inside the void there was still some residual body heat. She had died quite recently.
Maddie had been fretful throughout, and Billy was anxious the killer was still close. “Come on girl, we need to get help.”
There was a sound like four heavy thumps on the ground immediately ahead of them and Billy struggled to keep hold of the harness as Maddie strained upwards and forwards spitting growled threats. Something had dropped from on high, probably out of a tree.
“What’s that? Who’s there?” Billy tried to hide the shiver in his voice. Having been blind since early childhood he wasn’t as prone to panic at things in the dark as most, but the dead body warned him that this time there was a real danger present.
Maddie seemed a transformed dog, growling incessantly. Hackles raised, teeth bared. Billy didn’t need to see her to know.
Suddenly, Maddie screeched in pain and the harness went limp in Billy’s hand. “What’s happened? Who are you?”
Billy collapsed onto his knees and felt for the dog. She was breathing shallowly and her flank was wet with blood. “Who are you? What do you want? Have you killed my dog?”
“Don’t worry Blind Man, she’s not dead. It’s just a scratch; she’ll heal if I want her to.” The voice was breathy and coarse as rough sandpaper.
“Who are you?”
“I killed and dined on the girl before you. I must admit I wasn’t expecting to be disturbed out here at this time of night, you caught me unawares Blind Man. If it wasn’t for your dirty little companion stopping for a shit and stinking the place out, I wouldn’t have noticed you nor had time to get up the tree. Then I really saw you and I realised you’re no danger to me, are you Blind Man? You live your life in the dark as much as me. Only yours is even darker than mine.”
“What do you mean? What’re you’re saying?”
“I’m a werewolf, consigned to live by night, die gradually bit by bit by day” he chuckled, “But oh what nights they are!”
Billy pulled Maddie closer to him desperate for comfort. Whatever this thing in front of him was, it scared him and there was no escape. Without Maddie he was helpless.
“Shall I tell you about me Blind Man? The worst thing about my otherwise beautiful life is I have no one to talk to. If you don’t mind perhaps we could enjoy a little conversation before you go?”
Billy’s blood froze, his heart juddered and he struggled to breathe. “You’re going to let us go?” he panted.
“Of course, you’re not to my taste. Normally, I’d do away with the dog. Most hateful race known to the world, lower even than foxes, but as you need the odious little beast I’ll let her off this time.”
“Thank-you,” stammered Billy hating himself for showing deference but scared of pushing his tormentor.
“But what about the girl?”
“What about her? You going to tell someone? The Police? I can see it now, ‘I’ve found a dead girl and a werewolf killed her.” He laughed.
Two heavy strides brought the beast to Billy and suddenly he felt himself lifted effortlessly by the collar of his coat. He could smell the wolf’s blood-stained breath and what seemed like the concentrated stench of wet dog. He flailed helplessly catching hold of thick hair that seemed to cut into his palm.
“Ever felt wolf hair before Blind Man? Gorgeous isn’t it. Strong as nature intended. The brutal essence of life. Nothing like your pathetic dog’s candy floss, eh? Impressed? Try my nails.”
He drew a fearsome nail slowly down Billy’s cheek, following his trembling jaw round to his throat. Billy gulped.
“Smell my scent Blind Man, pure distillation of wolf. Don’t you find it so much more satisfying than the synthetic scents of soap and polish you spend your days in?
“You’re a clever man, I can tell. I’m sure you create pictures in your mind’s eye; feel my fur, my pointed ears, my sharp canines, what picture are you conjuring up now Blind Man?” He forced Billy’s hand over his head and face, nipping him when it reached his mouth and drawing blood.
“A little memento to remember me by in the morning, Blind Man.”
Billy was seeing a confusion of images, the wolves he’d seen running free at Woburn Wildlife Park one summer and the fairy-tale illustrations he’d seen before a bad case of measles had thieved his sight at the age of seven. This though was something more sinister and he struggled to imagine the shape of the sheer evil that was holding him helpless on the bridle path. It thing stood upright, tall and had the strength of a bear.
“Just for precision, Blind Man, I’m going to give you a little more detail, so sit down and get comfortable.”
Billy slumped in the mud, knocking into Maddie who winced weakly.
“Even if you manage to get someone to believe you, the body will have gone by the time you get them here. Her bones and sinew crushed and spread on the fields. The farmers will be unwittingly ploughing her in for fertiliser tomorrow, just like the others. Her pony up the way a little, presents more of a problem, but nothing insurmountable. All traces will be gone by morning”
Billy began to sob, “The others?”
“Of course Blind Man. She came to me this time, trotting along all innocent and virginal. Normally, I have to hunt them down and bring them back here to pleasure them. They love it, they’ve never had anything like it and oh my, do I have a wicked time. Then at the height of their bliss, I send them on to a better place. I rip them open and gorge on their lovely fresh offal. Liver, kidneys but the heart’s my favourite, preferably still warm and beating. Pure cordon bleu bliss, as God intended. Beautiful eh?”
There was no escape, and despite what the wolf had said, Billy was sure he was going to die. He wept; he couldn’t control his shaking body but managed to splutter out, “You’re sick.” He wanted to fight, to be brave, to show his disgust and contempt.
“I can see how it would be particularly hurtful to a pack animal to have no one to talk to.”
He stressed the word “animal” but it proved to be no insult.
“Be honest Blind man, you’d love to join me if you had the guts. The difference between us is that whilst we both live our normal, boring, daytime lives, once night falls I shake off the shackles and indulge in everything you have only ever dreamed of. Whilst you sit listening to your poxy television in your pokey little house in the evening, I suppress nothing. I come out here under the vast sky. I commune with the elements, take what I want and gorge myself on it, until my desires are sated. Don’t you want that for yourself blind man? If you’re truthful with yourself wouldn’t you like to join me?” The wolf let out a chilling, ecstatic howl that echoed around the surrounding woods and fields.
Billy sensed him moving and noticed a slight scraping noise.
“Here, I’ve managed to find a bit of liver that I missed, try it. You won’t know whether you like it until you try.”
Something wet and slimy, with the same ferrous smell smacked against Billy’s face. He gagged and pushed himself backward through the mud, dragging Maddie with him. He felt the girl’s blood running down his nose and cheeks onto his lips. He spat vigorously and frantically wiped his sleeve across his mouth in a hysterical attempt to avoid tasting or worse still, swallowing the blood. All pretence at courage had left him. He fell face down in the mud retching.
“What kind of pictures are you seeing in your mind’s eye now Blind Man? Don’t worry, you can’t tell anyone because no one will believe you. If they find traces of bones they’ll suspect you, the one who came to them with the crazy story of a Werewolf, and you’ll be condemned as an insane mass murderer. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend the rest of your life in an asylum. You are a pathetic weak human; you haven’t the guts to tell anyone.”
Maddie was reviving and tried to contribute a lame but defiant little growl. The wolf simpered back, mocking her, then howled long and hard again.
“Go Blind man. Piss off; I’m bored of you now. Take your filthy cur with you. We may not meet again, but you’ll remember me each night when you hear my call and you’ll know why I’m calling, and you’ll see me in your pathetic, helpless mind’s eye each time.”
He laughed so deeply and malevolently it seemed to invade Billy’s chest and constrict his breathing. Billy lifted himself unsteadily, wiping tears, mud, blood and snot from his face. He and Maddie limped away, both shaking violently.
Over the next few weeks Billy became steadily more reclusive. Close friends and relations grew worried about his strange behaviour; no one could get an answer out of him as to what was troubling him.
He would turn visitors away and was no longer seen with Maddie shuffling along to the newsagent in the morning and the pub in the evening. He was a broken man who could never explain what broke him.
Eventually, when no one could recall seeing him at all over a period of three days, a delegation called at his home. When there was no answer to their knocks they were alarmed enough to break his door down.
Billy was dead. He’d hung himself from a beam. The trusty Maddie lay dead at his feet, scars still visible on her flank. A Dictaphone next to the dog held the simple, tormented message:
“Sorry, I can’t bear it any longer, I’ve seen too much.”

 

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