Under The Moon. (Chapter Two)
A different school year altogether...
The rest of the day was unusual. People he’d only ever seen from across the lunch room were approaching him, acting like they’d been buddies since birth. Though, Shawn didn’t mind. After eleven years of obscurity, he embraced being treated like he was one of the cool kids. He embraced being treated like he was something other than wallpaper. Of course, this kind of attention wasn’t always good. Shawn had forgotten about one of his peers.
Ryan Williams was the jock. He was prom king, quarterback, pretty boy stereotype, and before this morning, his white Camaro was the fastest car in school. Despite being teammates on the football team, Ryan and Shawn had never gotten along, mostly because Ryan didn’t like Shawn’s free spirit or style and Shawn didn’t like that Ryan was always dating Angel.
The typical high school rivalry. Ryan didn’t appreciate Shawn’s sudden shot to social stardom, and he wasn’t about to sit there and watch it happen.
Usually Shawn would be on the edge of his seat, leaning over the desk, glaring at the classroom clock, begging for the bell to ring. His stuff would be packed and his valuables stowed away, but not today. He was relaxed. Legs crossed, propped over his desk, talking about football with kids who he had known his whole life, but only met today, texting girls whose previous existence had only been as pretty pictures on the internet. When the bell did go off, Shawn had to resist the urge to jump. Old Shawn would have jumped. New Shawn simply flipped his hair out from in front of his face. Walking out of the school, Shawn stopped to bathe in the sunlight. The warmth crawled up his bare legs and embraced him. Shawn hadn’t felt this great since… A small cloud passed over the sun. Some pains never go away. A muscular figure was leaning on his car.
“Can I help you?” Shawn awkwardly inquired.
“It sure is a nice car ya got here Punky”. Punky… What a clever nickname.
“Let me rephrase. What do you want Ryan?” Ryan Williams sneered from behind his oversized sunglasses.
“Just thought I’d comment on the ride dawg. It’s hot. Probably gonna get you all sorts of action”. He roughly tapped the back of the car. “Make sure it’s the right action”. The smile suggested he was providing loving advice to a younger sibling, but for some reason it felt more like a threat to Shawn.
“Well what do you mean by that Ry?” Ryan’s smirk lost a touch of sincerity. Apparently the genius behind “Punky” wasn’t a fan of nick-names.
“Well I saw you talking to my girlfriend earlier”.
“What? I didn’t know you had a girlfriend. The last I heard, Angel had dumped you” Shawn put on his best confused and concerned face.
The irony, Ryan wore his best fake smile, funneling the rage into a small quiver of the lip, while Shawn tried his best not to stretch his face with a vengeful smile.
“We’re on break” he growled. A voice in Shawn’s head chuckled. The chuckle sent a shiver up his spine, providing mixed feelings of fear, confusion, and an intense shot of confidence.
“Yeah Ry, you can’t say break up without break” a gruff voice said. Shawn looked around for the source but they were alone in the now deserted lot.
“The fuck did you say to me bitch?” Ryan barked, the sneer gone.
“You know what I heard? I heard you couldn’t uh” Shawn’s head involuntarily gave him the once over, “Get the job done” Shawn’s arms started shaking, he tensed and closed his eyes, but he could still see…
Stop fighting it. He heard the gruff voice say. Strangely, it was in his head, like a thought, but in someone else’s voice.
“I’m gonna give you one chance to get on your knees and beg for mercy” Ryan spouted, rolling up his sleeves.
“Is that what she said before she left you” Shawn glanced around once more, and then he accepted what he had assumed. The voice was coming from his mouth.
“That’s it” Ryan spat. He took off his shirt and started bouncing on the balls of his feet. Shawn felt an eyebrow rise.
“It defeats the purpose of rolling up your sleeves if you’re gonna take your shirt off” Shawn accepted the confidence. The adrenaline rush made him feel strong, fast, and capable. He cracked his knuckles. As if on cue, a small parade of pick-up trucks rolled around the corner. Ryan’s posse. “Hey Ryan, how many times have your friends showed up to find you shirtless with another dude?”
“Everybody back up!” Ryan yelled to his friends as they leapt from their modified trucks. “Time to teach Mr. Porsche some respect”
Shawn embraced the feelings coursing through his veins. He let the blind rage take over his brain. His body was taking cues from his stepfather, leaving the keys to something far too powerful for him to understand on the kitchen table, in plain sight. He stretched, trying to spread the feelings through his body and then…
It was gone. His body felt lighter. The confidence was gone. The voice had gone silent. Suddenly Shawn was not so brave.
Ryan must have sensed the shift in confidence because he decided it was time to strike.
Ryan moved so slowly. Not in cheesy action movie slow motion, but slowed as if he was straining against invisible ropes. To his surprise, Shawn’s movements were slowed too. It wasn’t a new sensation. Sometimes during lacrosse games, he felt like he was moving a little faster than everyone else. He took this opportunity to grab the incoming wrist and twist it. Time returned to normal speed as Ryan called out in pain.
“What the fuck!” he cried as Shawn twisted harder and pressed his palm against Ryan’s elbow.
“You wanna back off?” Shawn offered. Ryan craned his neck and spat at Shawn. Grimacing, Shawn shook his head. “I tried”. Shawn raised his knee with incredible speed and nailed Ryan directly in the chest, effectively knocking any remaining air from his lungs. Ryan gasped and Shawn took advantage of the moment by pressing Ryan’s arm behind his back and slamming his head into the Porsche.
“Fuck… That was stupid” Shawn complained, as he noticed a drop of blood roll from the edge of his taillight. He looked around and was greeted by the faces of several rednecks, eyes wide, jaws dropped. The awkward moment when your followers find out you aren’t God after all.
On second glance, Shawn noticed something different about their expressions. They weren’t simply astonished that their hero had fallen, they were afraid. They were shaking as if they had just witnessed a violent vehicular decapitation. Shawn shook it off. This jerk had been harassing him for years. A brief flashback featured a montage of wedgies, pranks, and typical alpha male behavior made his cheeks red.
Just relax, let me handle this.
Great, the voice was back.
Shawn. This guy is evil. Next year, he’ll be riding a full academic scholarship at some party school. With the football talent he’s got, he’ll never have to do a hard days work.
Let me handle this. Let me handle him.
Shawn tried to fight the voice, but gave up. The anger, the hate, was too strong. He started to haze over…
“You know, with your prolific passing season last year, that big buff arm of yours could get you some serious scholarship attention this year”. There was brief confusion in the eyes of Ryan Williams before the sick revelation took over. “Nobody acknowledges the speedy receiver that catches all of your wobbly passes, but man, what a career you could have, hell, maybe even a future in the NFL”. Ryan shook his head violently.
“Please… Please don’t”. Shawn felt his mouth stretch… His mouth grew wider than usual.
“It would be really, really unfortunate if say… something happened to your arm?”
“Please Shawn, Please” He begged.
Shawn tried to stop, and he felt his grip loosen, until…
“Sorry Punky. Not feeling it” and with that Shawn stretched Ryan’s hand out and violently chopped at his elbow. He was greeted with the satisfying sound of a subtle crack. The next noise was not so subtle.
Ryan fell to the ground, screaming, clutching at his arm. Staring down at his crippled rival, Shawn felt strange. He felt powerful, fearless. He looked at the man who had tortured him since school featured snack and nap times and was overwhelmed with an alien longing. His mouth watered and his body tensed. His heart rate shot up and he felt the sleeves of his arms shrinking and his toes clenched in his shoes, and suddenly the voice was back, repeating one word, over and over.
“What?” he said aloud. The crowd of bewildered sheep flocked at the sound of his voice, leaping into whichever vehicle was closest and speeding off, running over the curb on the way out. Suddenly the power began to fade. His heartbeat began to slow and his arms relaxed. The feeling of satisfaction faded and a guilty pity began to take over. He heard the voice softly sigh.
Maybe next time…
And suddenly there was a sharp pain in his head. Screaming, Shawn fell to his knees, covering his eyes, clutching his scalp. The pain faded as quickly as it came and he struggled to stand. Ryan lay on the ground, whimpering and bathing in his own blood and tears. Shawn began to reach for him but he jumped and started desperately scooting away.
“Just leave me the fuck alone you creep!” he yelled. Shawn paused briefly before jumping into the Porsche and driving away.
Driving home, Shawn couldn’t stop shaking. What just happened? Shawn had felt adrenaline rushes before, but this was different. He felt like he was literally growing stronger, and what was with the voice? It seemed to come from this very dark place, and it was capable of possessing him, making him do whatever he… it wanted him to do. He pulled into the garage.
“Fuck” he muttered. His little three-way with Ryan and the voice had forced him to stay at school longer than he had intended… Steve was probably awake by now.
He quietly locked and exited the Porsche and snuck into the house. Fortunately Steve was exactly where he left him; the only difference a partially eaten pizza, being enjoyed by his father’s pit bull, Max. Shawn sighed in relief and returned the keys to the kitchen table. He crept up the stairs and reached for the doorknob when he heard a noise. It was a light tapping noise, accompanied by shallow breathing. There was someone… something in his room. He took a deep breath. He had just beaten the hell out of a super jock, he was ready for anything. He looked down and was about to burst into his room when he caught a sliver of his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He tip toed in and got a closer look. His silhouette was larger. Typically his athletic frame barely blocked out any light from the door, but now only spots of light made it through. He hesitantly reached for the switch, and when he flicked it…
He saw himself in the mirror. He stared at his reflection for a minute.
He was new Shawn.
I guess it comes with age; after all, he turned 18 in two days.
Shawn nodded and began to turn when he stopped.
“My birthday is in two days…” he whispered, still aware of the unwelcome guest in his bedroom. “My 18th birthday is in two days…” he corrected.
It wasn’t that he had forgotten. He had been looking forward to this day for a long time…. But outside of Brian, nobody really cared about his birthday. Ever since the hunting accident…
He shook his head. No thoughts about Mom. Turning 18 didn’t just mean he was legally an adult, it meant he could finally claim the huge inheritance his mother had left him, it mean he could finally send Steve back the bar where his mother found him. It wouldn’t be easy, Steve would fight for it, and he had been racking up serious credit debt since his mother passed, hence the Porsche. He would destroy his credit even more by hiring the most expensive lawyer he could find to make sure Shawn never saw a penny. The visitor in his bedroom coughed, reminding Shawn that he was there. Shawn scanned the bathroom for the closest thing to a weapon he could find.
Towels, toilet plunger, bath soaps, sponges, baseball bat…
“Um… Duh!” he whispered, and grabbed the bat. The baseball bat was the only thing in the house that had belonged to his father. A man Shawn had never met. He hit the lights and approached his door, took a deep breath and kicked it in.
“What the fuck!” yelled Brian as he fell out of Shawn’s computer chair.
“Jesus Bry!” Shawn responded. “The fuck are you doing in my room?”
“What am I doing?” Brian responded, emphasizing every word. “I’m watching you kick Ryan Williams’ ass on the computer”
“What?” Brian mocked, “Take a look” he motioned towards Shawn’s laptop. Brian hadn’t been lying. On the screen, Shawn was slamming Ryan’s head into the Porsche. Except… It didn’t look like Shawn. He was different. Bigger, leaner, his pupils were ridiculously small and he was wearing a smile that no mother could love. “Since when did you become Bruce Li?” Brian asked, smiling like he had just won the lottery.
“I-I…” Shawn stuttered. So many thoughts were rushing through his head.
What was happening to him? He had already gone through the worst of puberty, and no health class had warned him about this. After hours of talking and video games with Brian, Shawn decided to try and move on and forget about it. Forget about the voice. Forget about Ryan. Forget about the fight.
However…The brawl in the parking lot was the talk of the school the next morning.
“Ya know buddy, between showing up in a Porsche and crippling the captain of the football team, I think it’s safe to say people know who you are” Brian stated, smiling.
“Yeah Brian, it’s fantastic. Just wait ‘til coach gets a hold of me”
“It isn’t the coach you have to worry about” said a voice. Brian and Shawn turned to see the principal standing in the door, arms crossed, tapping her foot. “Mr. Carroll, could I see you in my office please?”
“Ooh busted!” sang Brian as he skipped away.
“Mrs. Anderson” Shawn awkwardly greeted his principal as he stepped into her office.
“Take a seat”. Not a request, a demand.
“Yes ma’am” Shawn responded.
“Now, would you like to explain what happened in the parking lot last night?”
“Me and Ryan Williams got into a fight”
“Is that what you call it?” she raised an eyebrow. “He’s got a broken nose, a black eye, a cracked rib, and a broken arm. I’ve seen people leave car accidents in ambulances with fewer injuries”
“Whoa, whoa, I didn’t do all of that” Shawn insisted. Her eyebrow didn’t lower. “Okay, well maybe the nose and the eye, but his rib and arm? I didn’t hit him that hard?”
Mrs. Anderson turned her computer monitor around. They awkwardly watched the fight. Shawn hadn’t realized before just how badly he had beaten Ryan.
“Now for some ungodly reason, the police have decided that your reaction to Mr. Williams’ feeble attempt at a punch was self defense” she mocked. On the screen, Shawn slammed his flat palm against Ryan’s elbow. Even Shawn had to flinch. “I, however hardly believe that you are a victim in any sense, and I will be in touch with the Board of education about having you expelled”
“But Mrs. Anderson! I-“ Shawn started.
“I don’t want to hear it! That arm was going to bring fame and fortune to this school and you ruined it!” She screeched. “Until then, I don’t want a menace like you terrorizing my school! You are suspended!”
A few very awkward minutes of silence rolled by before Shawn flipped his chair and stormed out of her office. He was stomping towards the door when he heard a girl’s voice from behind him.
“John!” She yelled. Regardless of how hot she was, Shawn would not answer to John from anybody. He turned to snap when he saw who it was.
“Oh… Angel” he stuttered. She ran towards him, pouting, hands on her curvy hips
“I heard what you did!” She yelled. Great. First suspension. Now the hot girl wouldn’t talk to him anymore.
“I don’t know what happened, I-“ She put a finger over his lips.
“You defended my honor” she dramatically said as she eyed the muscles poking out of his shirt. “You taught that insecure jerk to talk about me”. Shawn felt confused but he was willing to go along with it.
“Yeah I guess I-“ The finger shut him up again.
“I like a man that takes control” her arms slipped to his bicep and squeezed tightly. “A real man can make me feel like a real woman”. She leaned in and began attacking the inside of his mouth with her tongue. He tried to respond but couldn’t keep up. After minutes of awkward dental assault, she pulled away, breathless. “There’s more where that came from… At my party tonight…” She turned on her high heels and stalked away.
“What the fuck?” Shawn gasped.
Shawn drove home and fell asleep. It occurred to him that the night before he hadn’t had the dream. He took a deep breath and sighed. That’s one less nightmare in his life.
Shawn was running shirtless in the woods, he was running so fast that the trees around him blurred together to form a solid wall.
He was running a race with time… and he was losing.
He heard voices.
“We’ve almost got him! Keep going men!” growled a deep voice.
The men were an afterthought. The race had priority.
“Boss he’s getting away!” shouted another voice.
“Shoot him you idiots!” The deep voice bellowed.
Shawn ran faster, instinctively dodging as the bullets whizzed by. He knew he should turn, he should take them out, eliminate the threat…
But he couldn’t. He was running out of time. He dug deep inside and found the energy to run even faster. Eventually the voices from behind him started to fade and the gunshots stopped.
Shawn didn’t slow down.
Finally he found the cabin.
The cabin used to provide safety, but now it struck fear into his heart.
He flew through the door and looked inside.
There was a girl. A beautiful girl. She was tired to a chair. Her long hair cascaded down her shoulders. A single tear rolled from strong, wise brown eyes. Her skin reflected the moonlight as if her beautiful skin were a body of water on a cloudless night.
“No!” She screamed. “Why did you come?” She sobbed. “Why?” she mouthed. Suddenly he was tackled from the side and found himself face to face with the beast…
And that’s when Shawn woke up. For minutes Shawn just stared at the ceiling. He was not gripping his blanket tight. He was sweating. He was not afraid.
A single tear rolled down his cheek. This dream was different. His thoughts weren’t about a mission or escaping, he had to get to the cabin… for the girl.
The girl, if he closed his eyes he could still see her.
She was beautiful. He could vividly remember her face. He could still hear her scream. Suddenly he felt his heartbeat race faster. His jaw shook, and his hands formed fists.
This girl… She was in danger, and he couldn’t save her, and…
Why did it matter? Shawn didn’t even know that girl. He must’ve seen her on TV or in a magazine. His heartbeat started to slow.
Something he hadn’t seen on TV or in a magazine?
It had been different this time. Instead of tall and lean, it was thick and broad. It looked more like a bear than…
Shawn’s eyes grew wide as he realized.
That’s what the beast was.
The beast was a wolf.
Shawn was having nightmares… about werewolves.
© 2012 Ryan Smith