Hunting In Closed Spaces

Now that Hunting in Closed Spaces is being turned into a novel, see where it all began:

There were only two things that you could do in a situation like this: either sit there and wait, and hope that it doesn’t hear your breathing. Or brace yourself for the inevitable.

Lots of choices, huh?

I concentrated on being quiet. There were slats in the closet door, but I was afraid to look out of them. I feared that it would feel I was looking and pull open the door. There was a baseball bat in my hands, but who was I kidding?

If that thing got hold of me, it would beat me to death with my own bat.

If I got lucky.

I heard it, breathing heavy, moving slowly up the stairs. My brothers weren’t home. My parents were out of town. I had not been left alone in the house for even one night over the past three months.

But this would have to be the night.

It stopped.

It had reached the top of the stairs. From my vantage point, I could see the fur on its back. The form was muscular, standing tall like a man. He sniffed the air, seeming to sense something that appealed to him.

You’d think he just stepped in the door and smelled pumpkin pie.

With some alarm, I realized that what he probably smelled was me.

He turned then and came towards the door of the bedroom.

I clutched the bat a little tighter. I could feel sweat on my skin. Dogs could smell fear, couldn’t they?

After all, werewolves are highly evolved dogs…. Or poorly evolved humans? My mind was racing. Maybe, if I aimed low, I had a fighting chance…

A sound pealed through the house, so loud against the silence that the werewolf jumped.

The phone was ringing.

The werewolf grunted.

Annoyed, he went padding down the hallway. The phone was on a little pedestal table there. He stared at it for a moment.

I thought, what the hell, is he trying to figure out how to answer it?

Part of me was trying to plan out how I might escape. I was also wondering what he was going to do with the phone.

He picked up the receiver.

He grumbled, in a voice that was low but somehow intelligible, one word: Hello?

I clamped a hand over my mouth. I could tell you that I wanted to scream, but it probably would have been a laugh.

The werewolf was holding the phone and listening.

What happened next made me drop the bat. I got up on my knees.

As I watched, the werewolf’s body began to shiver, and he changed form.
Suddenly, he was a man.

He stood naked in my hallway, still gripping the receiver in his right hand.

He spoke into the phone then, his voice hoarse but otherwise normal.

“You told me,” he said, “that the girl was here. That she’d be waiting for me. Why is she hiding? Hasn’t she been told anything?”

He paused, listening to the reply. The person – or thing – on the other end sounded angry, because I could hear the tone from my hiding place.

The man, anxious now, cleared his throat. “I changed as soon as I got into the house. So, there’s not much left in the way of explanation, is there?”

He hung up.

He did not turn around. Instead, he went down the stairs.

When he came back up, I was waiting. He was wearing my brother’s jeans. He bent forward, looking into the bottom of the closest.

I sensed his confusion. His animal senses must have told him that I’d never left the room.

He turned, almost in time.

I hit him in the head with the baseball bat.

************

Slowly, he opened his eyes.

He was sitting upright in a chair, with his hands bound behind his back.

The girl was somewhere near. He could smell her scent.

His head throbbed. One of his eyes was swollen shut. The other, he could see through, but everything was blurry.

When he tried to move his neck, he realized that the throbbing was coming from more than one place. It shot from the crown of his head, down his neck, and down the side of his back. He could recall the hollow thump of the metallic bat as she smashed it across his head. Once he went down, how many more times had the bitch hit him?

He breathed in, which made a shudder go through his chest. If he were still in his werewolf form, the sound would have come out as a growl.

In his weakened, human condition, the sound was only a cough.

Focus, he thought. He felt her moving around, but could not see her. She’s on the right, he surmised, the side that his eye was swollen shut.

Carefully, he turned his head in that direction.

His reward was a whole new symphony of pain sizzling its way through his muscles. But he also caught her scent again. She was quite near.

Despite the pain, he turned his head a little more.

Her feet were bare. Her brown flesh was nearly the same color as the maple wood floor. She shifted her weight. As he looked up further he saw her hands planted on her hips. Her face, when it came into view, was immobile. She had an excellent poker face.

Except, for the darkness of her eyes. That, and the faint, salty sweet of perspiration.

Fear covered her like an extra layer of clothing.

“Who are you?” she said. Her voice held an edge of hysteria.

How could he answer without making things worse?

“They told me you already knew. I came here.. To teach you. How to hunt Wolves like me.”

He flinched as he said the last few words, afraid that her bat would meet his head again. “Looks like you’re doing fine so far.”

___

© 2008 Lori Titus

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