The Lamb that Wore Wolf’s Fur

The Lamb that Wore Wolf’s Fur

The condition was difficult to detect in most people. But there were two not-so-subtle methods.

Silver, in close proximity, caused 1st degree burns to the subject. Trace amounts in the bloodstream brought on severe hemorrhaging from every open orifice in their body.

The 2nd was more obvious: an allergic reaction to sunlight when it was reflected off of a full moon.

Exposure activated a dormant gene that caused a painful physical transformation  into a Lycanthrope—half man and half beast in form. While in this shape, the virus could be passed on to other humans with the smallest bite or scratch. As I sat in the third row of a Lycanian History lecture, I was reminded that I was part of the few: I wasn’t one of them.

“The Great Turn– the period in our history when the wheels of change began to turn,” my wrinkled professor said from the front of the class, “I was in my forties when I was bitten. Back then most of you were likely too young to know what was going on.”

“Harris Barker was the first man to contract the Lycan A-23 virus when he was attacked by a rabid wolf while hiking. The wounds were severe and as his condition worsened, doctors did not think he would survive the night. But the next morning he was perfectly healed and was discharged from the hospital by a bewildered staff. He returned to his wife and daughter, and his life resumed normally… until the morning after the next full moon.” The professor paused here, to look around at the class.

“He awoke to find himself surrounded by a mess of blood and flesh, trails of red leading from his family’s bedrooms to his own. He realized he was anything but normal.  And that was the first instance of human-human transmission of the Lycan A-23 virus. Since it was straight out of a work of fiction, nobody believed it was happening, and nobody did anything about it. The virus spread faster with each full moon, becoming increasingly swift alongside the rising number of infected.”

“The human genome was forever changed. The effects were hereditary, carrying over to future generations. For a time, there was anarchy as society fell apart. But, in the words of our President, ‘in the condition of chaos, humanity has established order before’. We soon adapted, realizing that the best solution was equal parts unanimity and isolation. Fighting the virus proved fruitless, so we embraced it instead. We made changes. As most of us had developed severe allergies to silver, we banned its refinement and trade across the continent, replacing it with nickel instead, as you already know. We made full moons a statutory holiday, and churches formed to worship the moon as a God for the new sway it held over us.”

“As all of former North America accepted the inevitability of the virus, the rest of the world chose to quarantine us indefinitely. All connections were severed, all bridges were burned. They were afraid, you see; though most days we were no different than the average human. Yet this isolation proved good; we became a stronger autonomous identity. And 15 years later, what was once the North American continent has now become the Lycania you know today: 95 percent Lycanthropes, and a steadily declining 5 percent human population.” The professor paused to write these figures out.

The 5% jumped out at me from the blackboard: my family and I were a part of it, like lambs living among wolves. But our secret wasn’t as difficult to hide as you might imagine. You see, nobody ever remembers what happens during their transformations. I’ve heard they simply wander, preying on other animals or mauling unchanged humans. Then they awake the next morning with no clue where they are or how they got there, not unlike after a night of reckless drinking. All we had to do was hole up in our house every full moon, and we were safe. My parents would tell me it used to be the weather they kept an eye on; now the lunar charts took precedence over the possibility of a rainy day. On full-moon nights, you could hear the distant howling outside. I never saw from where they came, but my imagination didn’t need to.

I’d heard of wolf packs being formed, mostly by young delinquents, where groups would gather just before dusk to bathe under the moonlight and undergo their monthly shape-shift as a pack. On these nights, the thought that outside, everyone, my neighbours, friends, even the postman had become mindless monsters that would attack me on smell… well for us Fangless, as we were called, it was unsettling to say the least.

“Didn’t the humans try to kill us off though?” my peer asked with his hand raised.

“Oh yes, but you could not tell the difference between a man and an infected, as we were unjustly called back then, so the hunts were called off as soon as they started. The turning point was when the President himself contracted the virus. The effect was inevitable. Within 10 full moons, with no prospect of a cure, about 50% of the population had turned. Our leader made the decision: at this point, we could only embrace the virus. Infection did not kill us, and it was only in purity that we could be saved from chaos. With a homogenous population of ‘werewolves’, we could still make our society work,” the professor said.

I’d kept a low profile most of my life, as per my parents’ wishes. There weren’t many like us left, as the media never ceased to emphasize. We couldn’t leave the country since no planes flew out anymore. I’d heard that most people (about 75%) had assimilated willingly. My family seemed to be all that was left of the uninfected. On paper, the government couldn’t force us to turn, but that didn’t stop them from using the media to pressure all remaining humans to turn themselves into these conversion centres for the greater good.

Because of the international quarantine, most Lycanthropes hated regular humans, and would even go so far as to position themselves nearby on a full-moon if they ever found one. No laws existed to protect these humans either, as to be mauled by a Lycan was not considered an attempt at murder but on par with a bear attack on a camping trip. So, it was a grave possibility that my family alone remained among the Fangless.

My parents had a strict rule not to mention our lack of fur and fangs to anybody. The consequences were too dire; nobody could be trusted and rightly so. A werewolf might feel more of a bond to his own kin than to us Fangless. So I wore a mask whenever I went out, so to speak, and as far as they were concerned I was just another wolf-boy. We had a respectful wariness of the moon’s changes, and scoffed at the idea of humans who did not have our superior blood coursing through their veins. The words Our and We burned my tongue every time I spoke these lies; in truth it was just I and Me, alone in my difference.

But when the moon was full, that difference was hardest to bear. It wasn’t fear that consumed me during these nights; I was safe inside my home. It was loneliness. Being a werewolf is the last thing I wanted; I had heard the transformations were painful and I didn’t relish the thought of losing grip on my sanity and identity for a whole night every month. But I have been tempted to turn. Not to be a werewolf so much as to just be like everyone else. Everyone openly expressed their disdain for us Fangless, and I joined in partly to maintain my life-long disguise but mostly  because I didn’t want to be different. I was living a lie, but it was a lie I needed to live, to even be here in this classroom right now.

The professor walked to his desk and pulled out a box, drawing from it a green herb with bluish-purple petals. “Does anyone know what this is?” The Professor looked around for an answer.

One student, I didn’t know his name, slowly raised his hand as he answered, “Wolfsbane?”

The Professor nodded his head and repeated the name, “Wolfsbane. It is a peculiar herb: lethal to humans, but to us werewolves… utterly harmless. Let me show you.” His eyes scanned the class as my heart started to beat to the erratic rhythm of my worst fear. His eyes fell upon me, and the next words he spoke confirmed what I had been dreading. “You there, why don’t you try some and tell us how it tastes?” I had heard about Wolfsbane before; it was the easiest way to distinguish a human from a werewolf, but the trade-off was death for the human.

“I-I think I’ll pass. My stomach’s not feeling so great.” I lied through clenched teeth. The situation felt surreal; so far I’d managed to keep under the radar and it was to be simple, plain bad luck that would bring the question of my blood to the forefront of everyone’s attention.

“All the better! This herb is known to have curative properties for our Lycanthrope race.” The Professor said. Every eye in the lecture hall looked at me as I continued to refuse.

“Haha, you act like you’re still a pup. I assure you it has a sweet taste, it may as well be a leaf of lettuce. Well, unless one is a Fangless,” His smile dropped as he said this, approaching the front of my desk.

“No! Of course not!” I said as firmly as I could, trying my hardest to maintain eye contact.

“Then you should have no problem eating just a leaf,” He gestured to the herb in his hand. I reluctantly took it into my hand, and looked around at the class. I could see all of their faces clearly. There were thirty-some, bright, young faces just like mine. Just like mine. I noticed many of their eyes were cast down to avert my own. Did they already know I wasn’t one of them? Had my entire act been revealed?

“No…” I whispered to myself, as something dawned on me

“What is that?” the professor asked with a raised brow.

“I mean, yes. I’ll take the whole box of it”. I said more strongly.

“Wolfsbane isn’t so easy to get, boy. I won’t have you gulping it all down.” The professor said.

“It’s not all for me,” I said determinedly, and snatched it from his hands and proceeded to hand out bits of the herb to every student in the class. They all looked to me nervous, confused and silent.

“What are you doing!?” the professor shouted, but could do nothing to stop me.

Upon coming full circle around the room, I stood at the front of the class and said with all the power of my voice, “If all of you in this room eat what’s in front of you, because you really are Lycans and have nothing to fear, then I’ll eat it too and I… I’ll die, but with nothing to hide anymore!”

The entire hall stood still and silent. It was a History class of thirty-seven students. Only eight took the herb in their hands and consumed it. Two of them promptly died, their heads striking their metal desks in perfect unison. The ringing of the metal reverberated for a very brief moment through the numbing silence of the room: a dull, monotonous and inglorious sound.

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An Apocalyptic Vision


The sun was extinguished in an instant like a candle caught in heavy rain. Billions worldwide looked upward as the night swallowed the sky whole at 3 in the afternoon. A collective confusion fell upon the world, but only a few really panicked.  At first.

Reason consoled most people’s fear: it was a solar eclipse, they thought, or some other natural phenomenon they knew little about that some scientist could easily explain away. But what explanation could be offered for the birds that flocked to the ground, the beasts that ran headlong off the cliffs, the fish that swam to shore?

The people of the world tended to their business, their day to day routines, trying their best to ignore the curtain of darkness. From far enough above, their cars seemed to move along like lines of ants; but instead of being at the beck and call of a Queen, they enslaved themselves to dead Kings on paper. The world of man continued as a machine: the cogs spinning, the wheels turning, the smoke blinding.

But if anyone stopped to look just a little closer, they might have noticed the absent stars in this artificial night, or the faint outline of two massive closed eyes that replaced the sun and the moon in the sky. They might have been able to see it coming: the ominous face that loomed over the world and destroyed it all with a look.

Pandora

Pandora

Pandora

Summary: A modern take on Pandora’s Box with elements of romance and horror.

All around me the crowd seemed in a trance, enslaved by the heavy bass and the sporadic light.Their winding bodies moved like a tangled mess of flailing limbs, drowning in the stench of alcohol, cologne and blissful ignorance. The music was loud and repetitive, like a cicada buzzing in my ears. My vision see-sawed as an empty bottle slept in my hand, and a couple— or probably not— had their tongues down each others’ throats just a few feet away from me.

Here I was standing, my heart feeling like someone took it and wrung it dry of happiness. Imagine having a girl in your life, or a guy—whatever your prefer— someone you thought was special. I don’t mean hallmark card special or give them extra class time to write a test special. I mean fucking special— in the ways they made you feel.

Now imagine they turn to you one day and tell you they just couldn’t do it anymore. The thing about special is it makes everything else special; and then, when it’s gone, it all turns dull. Not dull like a pencil that needs sharpening, or dull like that kid who still needs extra class time to write a test. Dull, like no amount of alcohol or scantly dressed women could make the world whole again.
Continue reading “Pandora”

based on H.G Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau:

The Memoirs of William S. Pratt, Diary of a Hunter.
*For you, my trusted Editor, only:
PART XI: A Tall Tale
Summer of 1889

*These events are recalled to you in their truest form. Do not doubt them for their incredible nature. This is no tale of fiction. Though I wish at times it were.*

July, 20th 1889: Setting Sail for the Unknown
Today I set out for Noble’s Isle based on rumours of one man’s experience that had rendered him a recluse and a shut-in. His account spoke of beasts that towered metres high, bore fangs that could sever bones in a tidy effort, and stared through eyes that burned black with bloodlust. The rumours, spoken by sailors, mostly dismissed the account for the ramblings of a mad man, but I grow so very tired of hunting typical game. My study already houses many exotic trophies from the pelt of a Tiger to the jaws of a Crocodile; from India to South America, I have hunted my share of the world’s beasts. I am well aware that fact and fantasy love to share the same bed, but if there was even a sliver of truth to these rumours… well just the idea of a fresh chase sets the hairs on the back of my neck on end. I have packed provisions and ammunition, cleaned and oiled my Winchester thoroughly, and I write this entry aboard the Catherine as it sails for the isle. Whether the stories of these beasts end up true or blatant exaggerations, to leave his footprints on a largely unexplored island is a real man’s greatest romance.

July, 23rd 1889: Anchored
I have laid anchor at the island. Night has fallen. A strange still silence has set upon the forest clearing where I have made my camp. This island is reported to be uninhabited. I am alone here in foreign territory, not something entirely unfamiliar to me, and yet I cannot shake from me the presence of something else on this island. It could be my imagination has fallen prey to these rumours and begot this paranoia in me. If not for writing my apprehensions, I might take these doubts seriously. And yet I feel something raw and unbridled about this island, something “other”.

July, 23rd 1889: Emptiness
The wildlife here is peculiar. There seem to be an odd number of rabbits even by their breeding standards. There are various other small animals too: mice, shrews, lizards. But I have yet to find signs of any formidable game. Perhaps the rumours were just typical tales spun by sailors looking to bring out the romance of a sailor’s life at sea. I have not scoured even a quarter of the island though. Or perhaps, what I’m trying to find does not wish to be found.

July, 24th 1889: Something Else
It is most peculiar. I have spotted a set of tracks that intrigue me. The prints are of some bipedal creature, definitely not human. I would think an ape to be all that I would find walking upright in these parts, but for the fact that they were somewhat hoofed like a horse and elongated to allow for bipedal movement. Perhaps it is some cousin of the kangaroo? Perhaps it may be, but there is something unsettling about the movement of the tracks, something familiar.

July, 25th 1889: The Corpse
Good news! I will not be going back empty handed. I have spotted the remains of a rabbit’s carcass at the border of an outcrop. I would have felt lonely had I been the only predator about. The beast was savage; it had incisors long enough and jaws strong enough to rend through the spine like it were a block of cheese. I am growing excited at the prospect of seeing the beast that committed this carnage. The rumours may not have been so far off as I thought. This isolated island, the unknown hoof prints, and the ravaged rabbit corpse: the hunt had started.

July, 26th 1889: What Was It?
The Wolf Man, Yeti, Minotaur; I am not sure what I saw or from what culture’s folklore it was drawn. I would have reasoned it to be a gorilla, but yet it was like no gorilla I had ever seen. I saw it as clear as it saw me, but the shock alone was enough to blur the image of the creature I saw in that ravine. Yet two things about the encounter burned themselves into memory: the penetrating pair of black eyes and the mutual air of unease wrought by unfamiliarity. What was it? I have not seen such a creature in my life, nor imagined I would. As I write this my hand trembles. Not with fear, no, but in anticipation. Never has my quarry made such an impression upon me. I am to hunt what has never been hunted before. How much fame would this bring to me, to haul back the corpse of such a creature that borders myth? It would not just be a personal triumph, but it would shake the fabric of the zoological world. It was a creature more in the shape of man than any ape or monkey, and yet so unlike man, or any other creature, I can scarcely call it an animal; it will break boundaries. If I brought this creature back with me, it would baffle the world. The late Charles Darwin would jump out of his grave just for a look. I can only imagine the surprise mingled with horror on the taxidermist’s face.

July, 26th 1889: The Voice in the Woods
Who was it? As I drank from a nearby stream, I heard a voice in the middle of the night, some moaning, catching only the hint of the word “laws”. I could not piece together the context but there was something anguished about the voice. Was I not alone on this island? Maybe the owner of the voice would know about the beast. I had called out but heard no response, only the rustle of bushes in the distance. What about laws? Having practiced law these past 20 years, I have come to understand law as the foundation for civilization. Without law, no amount of stone or fire could make even the closest semblance of the world of man. Might there be others on this island? I had spotted the remains of a simple shelter that had been burned to the ground, so I knew I was not the first visitor to this island, but I saw no smoke, sound or other sign of permanent residents. It is night so I let the question sit, lest I am caught unawares by the beast I had seen before. This island, it intrigues me more each day.

July, 27th 1889: The Trap
I saw it again, this time scampering away on all fours. I had laid a fresh rabbit corpse as bait, watching and waiting for two hours until it ventured near. As it was my second time seeing the creature, there was no shock to rend its image out of my mind. There I saw it, a lean and hairy creature of a vaguely bovine appearance, lumbering forward on two limbs. Its snout was broad, and its beefy arms ended in dagger-like talons. Its scaled breast shone in the sunlight that broke through the trees, a rainbow of green and yellow. It approached the trap cautiously, as a man would approach a flame not knowing its heat but testing its warmth. I stepped out from the cover of the trees to get a better look, but it had seen me and fled before I could take aim. I should have shot first and questioned later, but the feeling of awe as I stood observing its incredible form had chased the thrill of the hunt from my body.

July, 28th 1889: He Speaks
I could not pull the trigger. I had the creature in my sights again, no less than 2 metres away; it was a shot I could not miss even had I not taken it so many times before. What stopped me? I had faced the creature just as it turned to face me. In my minor lapse of conviction, it managed to catch me off guard; it ducked past me to push me from behind, leaving me sprawled on the ground on all fours, my rifle flying just barely out of arm’s reach. I did not dare risk moving for it. As it hovered over me, I could see it clearly: a mess of hair and scales, its peculiar pointed ears pricked in alarm, and those same jet-black eyes I had seen before. I could feel its breath laced with the smell of rabbit flesh every time its chest heaved, and I regretted my trigger finger’s damned hesitation as I stared into the eyes of my demise. Yet, I do not know why it did not kill me; I knew it must be aware I was going to kill it if it didn’t do me first. It merely stood there and gawked at me. Its snout quivered violently like a child on the verge of tears, as I lay there on my knees, hands spread out as if in reverence of its spectacular form. Then, I heard it speak. Yes, I heard it speak. I doubt it to the very core of my being and yet, I heard it speak. “Not to go on all fours…that is the Law”. The words were forced out by the creature, almost painfully so, and all the words I myself could muster had been swallowed by my throat. And just like that, it fled.

July, 29th 1889: Departure
I am leaving. There is nothing for me on this island. I had seen for myself. I found no game, no glory here, only confusion. I had found something that blurred the line between man and beast: a beast that could speak and, what’s more, it spoke of laws. Had I pulled the trigger I felt it would not be in the name of the hunt, but in cold-blooded murder. I felt as if the sights of my rifle were trained on a distorted reflection of my own self. Self-preservation is an animal’s duty in life, to fight or to flee, but humans are the only beings so truly aware of their own fleeting lives as to sit there in idle regret, wearing the face of fear when confronted with death. As the creature stood over me and I was faced with my own life’s conclusion, I saw my fear reflected in his eyes.

Note:
As I sit at the fireplace in my study, I stare around at the mounted heads and stuffed figures of my past trophies. How different had I really been from them? I have always seen my quarry as less than a man, yet I had seen them exhibit feelings of fear, love, and rage; faces my own neighbours might wear. The creature I had seen, had he been animal or man? It transcended my prior definitions of both, possessing a figure that surpassed even the most disfigured of men. The pointed ears, the wide black eyes, and the hoofed feet; these were all the qualities of a beast. Yet his level of awareness, his ability to speak English, and his concept of laws; these were the qualities of man. Look at me, I have done away with the ‘it’ and have begun referring to the creature as ‘he’. Well whatsoever he may have been, I think it is better left unknown. As such I think I will exclude the journal entries of Noble’s Isle from the full version of my memoirs. But with you, the editor, and my friend, I shall share this tale in the certainty that you will dismiss it as the imaginings of a mad man just as I once did. Even now, I do not know if it was all just a waking dream. Had I seen what I thought I saw? One thing is for certain: the events on the Isle have made my rifle hang a little heavier.