Son of the Moon. [first sample chapter]

This is a free sample chapter of our upcoming book Phantasms. Contact info and disclaimer at the end of the post. Every chapter in the book concludes it self, so this is a complete short story.

The story is about some boys who plays a prank that goes horribly wrong. (okay I was always rubbish with blurbs)

It’s written for young adults, there is nothing too graphic in it.

You can also download it as a PDF, sorry – no clue how to create a mobi file.

Son of the moon

By R. Petersen

Child of the moon, rub your rainy eyes
Oh, child of the moon
Give me a wide-awake crescent-shaped smile

-Rolling stones

Alex and Otis walked up the footpath to Seth’s house. It was early in the morning, so any normal, average family house  would not have looked this creepy in the soft glow of the morning sun, but if nothing else the long shadows made the large dark stone mansion look more ominous. Seth’s dad worked in special effects and the whole damn house bore witness to his profession. Alex and Otis could only imagine what it would be like to spend your whole childhood in this dark ode to making people tremble with fright.

Both boys came from the bleak multi-storey cream brick council houses at the other end of town. Under normal circumstances they would have no business in this neighbourhood, but Otis had known Seth since they were children. When they had been in first grade together they had bonded over their mutual love for superhero comics. Later, Alex had moved to their school and he had been included to make their tight threesome. They had grown up to become very different young men. Alex found Jesus, Seth had been in and out of mental institutions and Otis came out – but still, they held on to their friendship.

But they were not children any more, they were 16, each of them now faced with the choice of going to college or finding a job. To them at least, it seemed like once you locked that decision in there was no grey area, no changing your mind, you sink or swim.

Otis knocked on the door; the massive timber slab absorbed the sound forcing him to hit it with a fist. “Are you sure he’s back?” Alex asked softly, stepping back to look up at the large residence’s dark windows.

“He sent me a damn text,” Otis said with a shrug.

The door opened startling both boys, and Seth blinked sleepily out from behind the large door. “You better be fucking dead or dying, mate.”

“Seth.” Otis grinned, “Welcome home.”

Seth sighed. “Come on in,” He pushed the door open to let his friends in. “Good to see you man,” Alex said as he followed Otis into the belly of the mansion.

They followed Seth up the creaky stairs to his room, things like the screaming lambs and snarling wolf animatronics mounted on the walls didn’t bother either of them any more. They had come to expect eerie happenings around every corner, so much so, nothing Mr. Singer could conjure up could really surprise them.

“So,” Otis flopped unceremoniously down in Seth’s bed, “When did you get back?”

“Yesterday.” Seth said flatly, scratching his cheek.

“You missed final exams.” Alex said, idly turning a plastic zombie figurine in his hands. “This is new.” He mumbled as he studied the zombie.

“My dad sent it; it’s from some lame ass movie he is working on.” Seth said, seating himself in front of his large computer monitor. He opened up a music program and started to go through lists to find something to listen to.

Otis frowned sadly, it had always been like this. Mr. Singer was away working, and Seth was left alone here in the mansion. When they were younger Seth would sleep over at his place so often that he had his own toothbrush in their bathroom. But as they got older, sleepovers became weird, and now Seth was just here alone with only his computer as a companion. “I was thinking we should go catch that ‘Swamp of the Blood Leeches’ flick at the cinema once you were home, you know, just to get out.”

“I will never understand you guys’ fascination with death and dismemberment,” Alex said, settling himself on the wide windowsill. He pulled the curtain aside, letting sun inside Seth’s cluttered bedroom. Everywhere you looked there was stuff, figurines, merchandise from movies, masks, DVDs, CDs and a mountain of dishes and dirty clothes. “You could always spend your weekend trying to tidy up some of this mess .”

Seth looked up at Alex with mock offence. “You wound me sir.” He gestured excessively at his cluttered chaos, “These are my treasures,” He drawled in a poor attempt of a southern American accent.

“Oh, really?” Alex rose a brow, “So those pizza boxes are important to you?”

“Oh, yes sir.” Seth drawled on, “They be my bounty.”

“You are piss poor at imitating accents man,” Otis laughed. “You sound like a drunk Welshman.”

“Do not.” Seth feigned hurt, grabbing his heart.

“Keep telling yourself that,” Otis chuckled. “So, are we on for the movies?”

“Not really in the mood for going out,” Seth admitted in a small voice, he looked over at Otis on his bed looking way more fragile than Otis liked.

Otis nodded and wrung his hands. “What about you shower, and me and Alex take out some of this rubbish, and we go shop for some food, and come back here and watch a movie marathon. Your turn to choose the movies.” He said with a little careful smile.

“Good idea,” Alex agreed from the windowsill.

Seth nodded, “Alright, but then we’re gonna watch ‘Night of the Killer Rabbits’, 1 through 5”.

“Fuck me,” Otis groaned.

-*-

The boys sat down to watch the movies of Seth’s choosing, after the first fifteen minutes Otis got restless and got up to roll a joint. Seth had always hated the smell of smoke, and pot smoke was no exception. Otis knew the drill, he rolled it up and went to the window, opened it up and seated himself on the deep windowsill. In the darkened room behind him, he could hear the people in the movie yelling and shooting and Seth laughing softly at what was happening on the screen. Out the window to his left was what the locals called the ‘thin woods’ because it was not really a forest, more like a strip of nature that no one built on yet. Funny the city planners avoided this specific strip of land. It was complete with a muddy lake where they fished in as kids. The fish were minuscule, but they had fun catching them anyway. Had fun just being boys running about in the sun, drinking soda and eating sandwiches. It was riddled with tiny paths, and it even had a ruin. Otis lit his joint, swung one long leg out out the window and rested it on the roof tiles. Seth’s room had the best view, it was absolutely beautiful to watch the thin woods drown in shadows as the sun set in the horizon.

“Hey man,” Alex reached for the joint. Otis grinned and let him take it. As Alex reached in over Otis, he noticed a small silver cross around Otis’ neck. “Got some new bling there?” Alex teased; Otis turned the cross between two fingers, studying it. “My mother gave it to me.” Otis stated.

“Hey Seth?” Alex croaked while holding the smoke in.

Seth looked up from his movie, “Yes?” The glow from the tv in the dark room make him look otherworldly.

“That ruin, what as it’s name?” Alex sighed as he exhaled letting the smoke out. “I remember you told me a story about it once.”

“The Stone farm.” Seth said as he reached over to pause the movie. “It was a farm from back when the town was being settled, this farmer Stone and his daughter lived there.”

“I never heard that story.” Otis said as he leaned back into the windowsill.

“It’s just a story.” Seth said, “But the person who told me swears it’s true.”

“Come on man, you found it on the internet.” Otis laughed.

“Believe what you will,” Seth said as he took a sip of his soda. The tv static flickering, making Seth’s deep brown eyes and dark hair look like shadows. In contrast to his unhealthy white complexion, he truly looked like something out of a horror movie. Otis idly picked a scab on his hand wondering if this place was just getting to him, he had always hated Seth’s house after dark. “You both know the overgrown well at the ruin. Right?”

Otis nodded.

“Well, legend has it that farmer Stone built that well and the house. He lived there with his daughter Myra, and since her mother died in childbirth, he was fiercely protective of her. Myra was said to have been exceptionally beautiful, and soon she caught the eye of many a bachelor. Farmer Stone was set on marrying Myra away to a rich and influential family, so when a young man started coming by every night from the forest to visit Myra, Farmer Stone decided he was not good enough for his daughter. So, every time the mysterious stranger came, the father would chase him off. However, Myra only got more and more infatuated by the stranger, and it was harder and harder for the father to keep them apart.” Seth paused and took a sip of his soda again, “One night the father was woken up by howling outside the house.”

“Howling? Seriously?” Otis laughed. “You are so full of bullshit.”

“Hey, I am just telling it like I heard it,” Seth said as he leaned back on the pillows propped up against the wall in his bed, in lieu of a sofa. “Anyway, Farmer Stone, he ventured out with his rifle because he was sure it was the mysterious young man making the noise. He thought it was a signal to Myra for them to meet late at night. Once he was outside though, he realised the howl was coming from down the well, which was already dry then. He lowered a light down to the bottom of the well and saw a large dog was caught there”.

Otis tossed the skank into the roof gutter, “Let me guess, then aliens invaded and Myra saved the day in high heels and her shotgun.”

Seth didn’t even roll his eyes, he just stared at Otis, looking more bored than anything, “You want to hear the rest of the story or not?”

“I do.” Alex piped from besides Otis.

Seth smiled a wide toothy grin making him look distinctly evil in the dim glow of the room. “Alright, so farmer Stone felt sorry for the dog and figured he ought to get it out of there. But, just as he was about to descend the walls of the well to help the dog, he stopped and thought for a moment – it could be the mysterious young man who put the dog in the well, and as soon as he was down there to help the dog, the stranger would elope with his daughter. He decided to outsmart the stranger, and went to get Myra in order to lower her into the well to rescue the dog, just in case he was right about the strangers plan.” Seth almost yelled out the last sentence in a dramatic booming voice, “But, he was wrong!”  He inched out to the edge of the mattress and looked Otis straight in the eyes. “You see, the young stranger was a werewolf, and he was the animal stranded at the bottom of the well. Farmer Stone did not know this, and lowered Myra down the well. When the stranger saw Myra he bit her so, she too became a werewolf. Farmer Stone fainted at the sight, and when he woke the next day the lovers were gone, never to return.” Seth paused for effect and shrugged, “And so now it’s said that werewolves will try and lure a victim into the well at every full moon.”

“That is one stupid story, mate.” Otis laughed.

“The person who told me swears it’s true.” Seth said.

“So…” Alex cut in, changing the subject. “So, in the autumn…”

Otis looked away from Seth and out over the thin woods, studying the trees in the moonlight. It was actually easy to believe that story when you were watching the scenery like this. A part of him wished he had never heard it, because the fastest way to his house were through the labyrinth of paths, taking him right past the Stone Farm and the damn well. He decided to shrug it off and watch the damn movie. He jumped down from the windowsill and closed the window.

In the movie, the hero was frantically trying to save some screaming blond woman from hordes of bloodthirsty mutated rabbits. “That reminds me.” Seth said pushing the half-sleeping Otis with a shoulder. “How are things going on the Kolby front?”

Otis groaned, “I wish I never told you, man.”

“Too late.” Seth grinned, “So did you hook up?”

“Not even close.” Otis admitted, “Friend zoned at best.”

Alex shook his head, “I can’t see why you think he is so special.”

“Does it matter?” Otis said sourly, “He’s way out of my league anyway.”

“He is not.” Seth stated, “You just have to change your approach. That’s all.”

Otis stared at Seth with a dead panned expression, “You have seen the fucking racist flag in his parents window, right? Not sure my complexion would go over well with them.” Otis sighed, “I know he is not like that, but still… I think I might be fighting windmills here.”

“Exactly, leave it well alone, man.” Alex mumbled.

“But…” Seth said, “You said it yourself, he’s not like his parents.”

Otis bit his lip, “I did actually sort of ask him out once, and it went to shit.” He looked at Seth in the dark, “Remember that?”

Seth nodded grimly, “He didn’t come to school for a week, and when he did show up it was with his arm in a cast.”

“I never asked, but I’m pretty sure someone told his dad.” Otis said sadly. “And we haven’t really talked since. He stopped going to the support group meetings at school too.”

On the screen, the hero carried the screaming woman over his shoulder while he shot wildly around him.  “If only it was as easy as on film.” Otis mumbled as he reached for a handful of crisps.

“It could be.” Seth said and for the first time that day sounded genuinely excited, “Seriously Otis. Think about it.”

Otis just stared at Seth while he stuffed more crisps into his mouth.

“God! Seth do you have to encourage him?” Alex muttered in the back.

“Come off it man, I got a great idea! What if you can trick Kolby into thinking you saved him or something?” Seth said gesturing wildly with his arms in excitement.

“What the fuck?” Otis shook his head and then started to laugh.

Seth sighed exasperated. “Hero saves damsel from terrors, damsel makes out with hero – it’s just a fact.”

“You really need to get out more. This is real life, not one of your movies.” Alex started to laugh along Otis, “And just where is that peril going to come from? Nothing happens here man, besides a broken window or a traffic light that stops working.”

“Not true.” Seth inched closer to Otis, ignoring Alex. “The well.”

“You sir, are bang out of order.” Otis laughed in earnest now, tears rolling down his cheeks. When he realised Seth was being serious he stopped cold, “Shit man, you are mental.”

“Got the paperwork to prove it.” Seth said drily, he jerked out of the bed and got to his feet, pacing the floor, careful to not knock over any of his haphazardly stacked piles.

“Sorry ‘bout that.” Otis said softly, “I didn’t mean…”

“I know what you meant you twat.” Seth mumbled as he paced the floor. “But, I think we could get it to work, yes?”

“Assuming I agree with you, what’s your plan?” Otis sighed, wiping his cheeks dry from his tears of laughter.

Seth leaned in over the television, “My dad has a werewolf costume laying about somewhere, we could trick Kolby into thinking there really was something in the well, and you save the day – the knight in shining armour.” He smiled at Otis and Alex who just sat and stared at him with slack jaws.

“You are mad.” Alex scoffed and turned to Otis, “And you are mad too if you even consider this nonsense.”

Seth raked a hand through his hair, “It’s not mad, it’s brilliant.” He smiled a toothy grin at Otis.

-*-

Alex and Otis walked through the thin woods towards their estate, and Otis half expected to hear an agonizing howl, closer to a pained scream ripping through the trees. “So you think Seth’s plan would work?” Otis asked softly, eyeing the path that led up to the ruin.

“Of course not.” Alex said shaking his head.

“I think it sounds pretty idiot proof.” Otis shrugged, hyper aware of every sound in the thin woods, every rustle of leaves and twig that broke, but he would never admit to the goosebumps that travelled up his back at the thought.

“I think you should forget the whole thing.” Alex said with a firm voice, walking a little faster to match Otis’ pace. “The well and Kolby alike.” He looked at Otis in the dark, “You said it yourself, his parents will never accept you, and after last time do you really think he will risk being seen with you?”

“Suppose not.” Otis sighed; he pocketed his hands in his cheap jeans. “Shame that.” Alex didn’t answer him, but just walked silently besides him all the way to their estate.

-*-

Seth didn’t know how he had gone from having a stellar idea to standing outside Kolby’s parent’s door. He eyed the flag in the window and frowned, really there ought to be a law against proudly displaying this type of hate shit. A mousy woman opened the door looking Seth up and down before she spoke, “What do you want

“Is Kolby home?” Seth asked sweetly.

“Maybe.” The woman said. “Wait! You’re that crazy…”

“Seth Singer, miss, I went to school with Kolby”

The woman looked Seth up and down again, and was about to speak before she was rudely cut off by someone behind her. “Mum, it’s fine. I know him.” The woman slunk back into the shadows of the house, and Kolby stepped out on the stairs forcing Seth to take two steps back. “What do you want?” He asked Seth.

“We have a mutual friend who’d really like to have a chat with you.” Seth said in all honesty. For a moment he had thought about lying and taking Kolby to his house to meet Otis under false pretences, but it just didn’t seem right. Kolby seemed like a nice guy, no point tricking him more than once.

Kolby raised a brow, the midday sun making his red hair stand out like in an over saturated photo. “Really?”

“Yes, really.” Seth nodded almost solemnly.

Kolby turned and closed the door to his parents’ house, “I have nothing to say to our mutual friend.” He said in a near whisper.

“Just give him a chance.” Seth said stepping closer to Kolby as he lowered his voice, “Please?”

Kolby sidestepped a little, furrowing his brows in a moments intense inner debate. “Hang on.” He swiftly turned and opened the door and went inside. Seth turned too and walked to the crooked garden gate to wait. Moments later Kolby came back out and walked down the little stone path from his door to the garden gate.

“Thanks.” Seth said, “Come on, he’s at my place.”

Kolby’s steel grey eyes studied Seth, “What does he really want? Just give me the truth.”

Seth started to walk and Kolby followed, “To talk to you” Seth stated drily. “What else would he want?”

“I don’t…” Kolby mumbled to himself.

-*-

As Otis sat on the massive garden wall to the mansion, he could see them appear in the distance.  He couldn’t believe that Seth managed to persuade Kolby to even come, maybe this ludicrous idea of Seth’s would work after all. Otis swung his legs around to the garden side of the wall and jumped down unto the pale unkempt grass. There was a old pavilion in the back of the estate,  now overgrown with wines. Maybe some time in the past it had been a nice place where some rich lady would drink her afternoon tea and have the ladies over for bridge, but now it was dilapidated and downright creepy. Otis sat down on the stairs and shook out a cigarette from his crumbled pack. Shit he was nervous.

Just like they had planned, Seth showed Kolby to the back of the estate and left. Otis took a deep drag on his cigarette and smiled awkwardly at Kolby. “Hey.” He said.

“Hey.” Kolby said, “Your friend said you wanted to talk, so talk.”

Otis was a bit taken back by the harsh tone in Kolby’s voice. “I’m sorry.” Otis said looking intensely at the glow of his cigarette and not at Kolby. “I didn’t mean to get you into trouble.” He ran a hand over his short cropped hair, and finally looked up at Kolby, “I never meant for any of that to happen.”

Kolby smiled a little secretive smile, “I know.”

Otis slowly rose to his feet and tossed the cigarette in the grass snuffing it out with his foot. “Could we maybe…” He cleared his throat nervously but kept his eyes on Kolby. “Try again?”

Kolby shook his head sadly, “No.”

“Oh.” Otis pocketed his hands, scraping his foot across a small rock, which he promptly kicked softly. “Alright.”

Kolby took a step towards Otis, his smile had softened but his eyes were sad. “If he even knew I was talking to you, he’d kick the shit out of me.”

“I know.” Otis mumbled, “It’s just…“

“I like you Otis, I honestly do. But nothing is worth stirring up my dad’s anger.” Kolby said.

“We could be more careful this time.” Otis said softly, “Like proper careful.”

Kolby crossed his arms over his chest, “Like this? Meeting in your mate’s backyard?”

“If you want to,” Otis blurted out. It wasn’t the plan they had talked about, but take time spent with Kolby any way he could. “Or…or you could go see a movie with Alex and Seth. Surely your dad wouldn’t blame you if I just happened to just show up. I mean, you didn’t know they invited me too.”  He looked up at Kolby with hopeful eyes, risking a little smile.

“That might work, I guess.” Kolby nodded, “Apart from the fact that its pretty fucking pointless.”

“I just want to see you.” Otis said as he took a tentative step towards Kolby.

Kolby’s eyes flickered as his mind fought an internal war, “It’s too risky,” he whispered.

Otis stepped a little closer, “Not if my friends are there. And we could maybe catch a late show at the cinema, there’d be no one on the streets to see us, no one would know. Please say yes.”

Kolby looked Otis square in the eyes and smiled, “I suppose it could work.”

“Brilliant!” Otis’ smile widened to a shit-eating grin.

-*-

Otis and Alex stared at the mechanical wolf arm that Seth mounted on a stick. “It’s fucking ace.” Seth said, sounding like he was trying to convince himself. “So, I went to check on the well yesterday, and it’s overgrown with wines all the way down, I could easily hold on to the side and use one arm to operate this.” He pushed a small button, which was connected to the arm by wires, and the fingers on the mechanical hand moved.

“Looks like a rubber dildo with mange.” Otis muttered sourly, crossing his arms over his chest, not convinced of Seth’s brilliant idea.

“It’s going to be dark as fuck, you idiot. Do you really think he is going to stop and study the arm?” Seth said with an annoyed sneer, placing the arm on a stick gently on his desk, careful to not knock anything off it.

“Yeah… I still think it’s pretty naff.” Otis muttered.

“I agree with Otis on this one.” Alex said shaking his head in disgrace. “You cannot seriously believe that Kolby is going to be scared of that thing flopping about.”

Seth pinched the bridge of his nose, and got up from his chair, walked over to his windows, and gestured out over the thin woods, “You have to set the mood, tell him the story about the well before you get there.”

“Makes sense.” Otis mumbled. “It’s not something that comes up naturally in a casual conversation now is it? And besides, how do we know he won’t just leave when he realize that we are going to be alone.”

“He likes you Otis.” Alex said, “If he didn’t, he would never have agreed to it to begin with.”

“See?” Seth said, “So, you tell him the story and walk by the well, I’ll have some sound effects of howls and growls, and then you valiantly protect him by hitting the arm with a stick.” Seth paused and looked over at the arm on his desk, “Just not too hard, my dad would be furious if it broke, and I don’t particularly want to fall down to the bottom of the well either.”

“And then what?” Otis asked.

“Then the wolf arm retracts, and you follow Kolby home. Maybe even get a cuddle on the way.”  Seth said with a smile that was so wide it almost looked wolfish on it’s own.

“So what happens if the hero can’t overpower the wolf?” Alex asked casually.

“Don’t be an idiot, the hero always wins.” Seth sighed and walked back to his chair at his desk.

-*-

The following Saturday, Otis was walking to where they agreed to meet with Kolby, his heart in his throat because he was fairly sure that Kolby would bolt as soon as he realized that Otis hadn’t exactly been honest. He saw Kolby wait by the cinema’s entrance, he looked amazing – and for a moment, Otis wondered if he should just confess and not risk getting Kolby in more trouble, but his need to be alone with Kolby overshadowed any doubt he had, Seth’s plan just had to work. “Hey.” Otis said as he slowly walked up to Kolby. “Fancy meeting you here.”

Kolby twisted around and looked at Otis, “I’ve been waiting here forever, I almost left.” He looked behind Otis and saw only the abandoned night street. “Where is everyone?”

Otis looked down at his trainers, “See, thing is, Seth is sick with allergies and Alex’s parents wouldn’t let him come out this late.” He shrugged, “Just you and me it seems.”

“Goddammit man.” Kolby whined, “You promised.”

“I know.” Otis said softly and looked up at Kolby’s angry form. “You can leave now if you want to, or we could go catch the movie.”

“Fuck,” Kolby hissed under his breath. Otis said nothing he just waited. “Alright,” Kolby finally said, “I’ve been dying to see this movie for the last month, so I suppose we could go see the movie.” He looked around behind him and through the glass doors to the cinema foyer, “Besides, it seems like we are the only people here.”

Otis smiled, “Great!”

Kolby gave Otis one last stern look before they went through the cinema doors, “It’s not a date.”

“Got it.” Otis said, not caring what Kolby said, he was just ecstatic to have him all to himself.

-*-

The movie ended and only another couple had bothered with the midnight show of ‘Smoke and Mirrors – A New Beginning’. Standing on the street outside the cinema Otis eyed the thin woods behind two rows of houses and a petrol station. The streets were completely empty and the only sound was the hum of the street lights. “I know this isn’t a date.” Otis said, breaking the silence. “But at least let me walk you as far as the level crossing, it’s close to home for both of us.”

Kolby shivered in the cold wind, only wearing a t-shirt. “Alright. I suppose that’ll be ok.”

Otis held out his hand for Kolby to take it, but Kolby just ignored it and walked on. Otis tried his hardest not to be disappointed and pocketed his hand.

They walked straight for the thin woods, “This is sort of nice.” Otis said casually, “You and me, alone.”

Kolby actually smiled, “Yeah, it is.” He eyed Otis and pushed him playfully, “I bet you planned this all along, the others aren’t sick or hung up are they?”

Otis smiled back, “Would you be mad if I said no?”

“No.” Kolby said, “I think it’s kind of sweet.”

Otis was glad it was as dark as it was because Kolby could probably not see him blush. Seth’s plan had worked till now, and there was no reason to believe that the rest wouldn’t work as well. “Hey Kolby, you know the story about the ruin?” He nodded up towards the ruins of the Stone farm further up the path.

“It’ an old farm left to fall apart?” Kolby shrugged.

Otis smiled “You’d be halfway right, it was built by this man farmer Stone who had a beautiful daughter.”

“Oh my God, is this going to be one of those Irish tales?” Kolby laughed.

“No!” Otis laughed and playfully pushed Kolby back, “This girl fell in love with a mysterious bloke, and the dad tried to keep them apart, and then one night he heard howls – he went outside to shoot the animal on his farm. But, you see, he found this dog trapped in the bottom of the well and thought it was a trick from the guy who was out to poke his daughter, so he made his daughter go down into the well.” Otis paused when he felt a warm hand in his, he squeezed it lightly feeling his heart make a happy loop in his chest. “Only it wasn’t a dog.” He said, determined to finish the story. “It was the bloke who was a werewolf and he bit the girl so she too became one, and they eloped.”

As if on cue a pained howl split the air.

Otis felt Kolby’s hand tighten around his. “The story goes that werewolves are still trying to lure victims to the well so they can bite them.”

Kolby laughed a little nervously, “If that were true, don’t you think more people would go missing around here?”

Otis smiled as he sidestepped so he walked shoulder to shoulder with Kolby, he looked him straight in his eyes, so close that a kiss would only require that one of them to move an inch. “Because no one in their right might takes this path home at this hour. No one except us.” He smiled, “But don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe from ghouls and goblins.”

Kolby’s laughter seemed a little less tense and more relaxed. They passed the ruin and the well smack in the middle of the courtyard, the wines had been disturbed so it was easy to spot, it was probably Seth when he had climbed down. “Look!” Otis’ eyes widened and he pointed on a searching hairy arm at the edge of the well.

“What the fuck!” Kolby squeaked, stepping behind Otis holding him like a shield, “Wh-what the f-fuck is that?”

“The monster?” Otis whispered, feeling all warm from the chilly night air, feeling Kolby flush against his back.

“Fuck this.” Kolby pushed off Otis and started sprinting down the path towards the lights of civilization.

“Wait!” Otis spun around, “Kolby come back!” But Kolby either ignored him or couldn’t hear him. “It was just a joke dammit! Fuck! Kolby!” Otis watched as Kolby disappeared in the dark. “Shit!” He stomped back to the well, the arm was no longer searching. “You are such a fucking wanker!” Otis yelled while he waited for Seth to crawl up the well. Nothing happened besides the soft sound of rustling of leaves. Otis walked over to the well and leaned in over the opening, seeing a form twitch at the bottom of the dark well. “I see you down there you know.” Otis yelled down the well, “This fucking plan of yours was bollocks! Why did I even go along with this? Fuck! I’m going to have to tell Kolby the truth and then kick your arse.”

There was only a soft growl for answer from the well.

“Fine you fucking plonker, stay down there! Fuck!” Otis pushed off the well and walked briskly towards the lights of his estate, a howl called after him through the trees, it sounded sad. “Arsehole.” Otis mumbled to himself as he danced across the level crossing separating the thin woods from the tall concrete buildings.

-*-

The next morning was bleak and dreary, the rain was constant and the grey skies seemed to have no end on the horizon. Otis stood and smoked a cigarette under a bike-shed roof, waiting for Alex. Alex finally came running and ducked under the roof as well, he pulled the hood of his sweater down and smiled at his friend. “What’s the emergency?”

“I’m going to fucking kill that arsehole.” Otis growled and idly tossed his cigarette out into the rain.

“What happened?” Alex shrugged, “ I mean, you sound plenty pissed off.”

“Plenty pissed off doesn’t even begin to cover it.” Otis pulled up his own hood and started to walk out into the rain, “I had him Alex, he was all smiles and then Seth had to be a jerk.” He grimly stomped through puddles of water, soaking his old torn trainers. “Everything was a colossal cock-up, man. Kolby ran off and Seth just acted like I wasn’t even there.”

“Damn.” Alex sighed, “Maybe we should hear what he has to say in his defence first, huh Otis?”

Otis mumbled. “I can’t believe I trusted him. You know for a moment there I actually thought his stupid plan would work.”

By the time they made it to Seth’s dad’s house, they were soaked. Otis didn’t even knock, he just jerked the handle of the front door, but found it locked. Swearing under his breath, he began to hammer on the heavy wooden door with his fist as hard as he could.

They heard coughing from inside, and finally someone turned the locks allowing the door to swing open. “Boys.” Seth said annoyed, standing there in thick socks and an old grey bathrobe, looking mostly like death seven times over. “What the fuck do you want?”

“What the fuck do I want?” Otis growled, “I want to kick your fucking face in!”

“What the hell?” Seth just stared at Otis with an offended stare.

“Hey boys!” Alex cut in, “Could we do this inside? It’s sort of wet out here.”

“Sure.” Seth sighed and stepped to the side so the two others could enter. “I was just making some tea, you want some?”

“Yes please.” Alex said.

When Otis just stared angrily at Seth, Alex elbowed his friend prompting him to squeak, “Sure.”

They both followed Seth into the large kitchen. “You fucking well deserve to have a cold when you insisted on staying in the well, arsehole.” Otis said as he jumped up and sat on the kitchen counter, dripping rainwater all over.

“Excuse me?” Seth stared at Otis with an undecipherable look.

“Don’t play dumb, man.” Otis gently accepted the steaming cup of tea handed to him, and started to idly pull the tea bag up and down in the water.

“I’m not.” Seth said with a rare seriousness seeping into his voice.

Otis looked up from his tea and unto Seth standing in the middle of the bleak kitchen, neither Seth or his dad cared much for making food and the kitchen was used for a million other things, like unfinished latex masks and mechanical parts and wires all over, all that resembled a normal kitchen was the dirty microwave oven. As Seth stood there with puffed eyes and a red nose, Otis actually felt sorry for the poor bastard. “You bloody well know what happened! Kolby ran off and you wouldn’t even answer me.” Otis said.

Seth blinked confused, shifting on his feet as if a different stance would make the words sink in. “What the fuck are you talking about?” Seth furrowed his brows, “I waited for hours, had I known you would blow me off I would have stayed home instead.”

“I didn’t –“ Otis’ words died on his lips.

“Why didn’t you just come up of the well then?” Alex said as he stirred sugar in his tea at the other end of the kitchen.

“Of course I came up from the damn well, you idiot!” Seth all but yelled as he turned to stare angrily at Alex, “If I hadn’t I would still have been sitting there waiting.”

“Come on man,” Otis said more persuasive than angry, this was getting really weird. “It all went as planned man, I took Kolby to see that stupid movie we took the path through the thin woods, I told him the story, you played some howls and came up the well as planned – and then he ran off and you totally stonewalled me. I thought you were trying to help me man, not make me look like a giant tool.”

“Look mate, I sat in that fucking hole waiting for hours.” Seth argued and sneezed as to drive home his point. “I waited there from ten till midnight; I couldn’t feel my fucking fingers by the end.”

“What?” Otis stared at Seth, “You’re taking the piss.”

“No?” Seth put down his cup to blow his nose.

“We…” Otis licked his lips unsure of what his words actually meant, “We caught the midnight show, man.” The room went silent, none of the boys barely dared breathe, even the weather seemed oppressive, and the steady drip from the tap only added to the tense atmosphere. “It was closer to quarter to two when we were there.”

“You said you’d be there at midnight.” Seth whispered, “I figured I’d be early in case he didn’t want to see the movie, that way if you – I… I thought you caught the half past nine show… God…” Seth’s eyes were large and frightened mirroring Otis’.

“No, I said we’d catch the midnight show, earlier there’d be too many people.” Otis said, his voice bouncing off the walls. “At midnight there is rarely anyone… but if it wasn’t you – then…”

Alex had been messing with a troll ear, his fingers brushing the hairs on the tip. “Maybe it was a real werewolf?” He said, voicing what both the others were thinking but unwilling to say.

Seth laughed nervously, “Don’t be an idiot.”

“Yeah, why didn’t it eat me then? I literally had half my body down the well to yell at Seth, uhm… the wolf.” Otis stated a matter of factly.

Seth shrugged, and picked up his tea cup again from the table, noisily taking a sip. Alex put down the troll ear and kinked his head looking at Otis, “Maybe it’s your necklace?”

“My… what?”

“Yeah man! It’s silver right? Werewolves are helpless against silver – everyone knows that!” Seth said with a nod and a smile like he had solved a big mystery.

Otis just stared at Seth like he was a complete nut case. Suddenly he noticed the fine line of hair on the bridge of Seth’s nose. Had he always had that? Didn’t the werewolf stories claim that in their human form werewolves would have uni-brows? He could be shaving it; he honestly didn’t remember what Seth’s eyebrows had looked like when they were kids. Or, it could be some special effect hairs he had applied to freak Otis the fuck out. A sly smile formed on Otis’ lips – yeah that had to be it, he had not noticed it before because he was being played. Both Alex and Seth had been planning this together from the start and the final straw was Seth trying persuade him that he was actually goddamn werewolf. He should have seen it from the start. He had been a little surprised Alex had been willing to help him hook up with Kolby. He never said anything directly to Otis, but everyone knew that Alex didn’t believe in being gay, and Seth he was most likely just being a bastard as always. God! He didn’t even know why he pretended that they were his friends at all. But they would learn not to prank the prankster. “We should tell Kolby the truth,” Otis said casually.

“You’re right.” Seth sighed.

“We could recreate the prank, and show Kolby it was just shits and giggles.” Otis said, “Maybe bring some beer along?”

“You want to recreate the prank?” Seth turned around to blow his nose and toss the tissue paper in the bin, “I don’t particularly feel like hanging on the inside of that fucking well for hours again.”

“You don’t have to.” Otis said as he finished off his tea. “We’d all meet up there, just promise to bring all that werewolf gear.” Otis smiled sweetly like a fox.

“Deal.” Seth nodded, “You bring the beer, I bring Kolby and Alex will bring the music and the werewolf stuff”

Otis laughed and nodded, “Sounds like a plan.”

“It’s a full moon tomorrow.” Alex stated flatly, “We shouldn’t tempt fate.”

“God!” Seth laughed, “It’s just a fucking story.”

-*-

Otis waited by the level crossing; watching anxiously for Seth and Kolby to appear. He lit a cigarette, the cold breeze made him shiver in his hoodie. The weather has made the summer even more ominous, he wasn’t sure if he should feel excited about the future or sad about the death of his childhood. Alex was going to college, Seth was staying back a year trying to catch up on missed finals, and he himself was just not sure about anything. It felt like everyone else knew exactly where they were going but him.

Finally, he saw someone in the distance, relieved he could make out two figures coming his way.

Seth waved at Otis as he came closer. “It’s chilly tonight huh?” He said casually as he zipped his anorak further up to keep the wind out.

“Yeah. But then again, are you sure it’s not that fever you got mate?” Otis asked, talking to Seth but never taking his eyes of Kolby.

“Positive.” Seth nodded. “Alright, you owe me big time mate,” He pointed at Otis and shot at him with finger guns. “Gimme a couple beers.” He held out his hands to receive the cans that Otis pulled from the plastic bag at his feet. “Great, I’m going to go wait for Alex.” He laughed a little, “See you in a bit.”

“Sure, and thanks!” Otis said and held out a beer to Kolby who hesitantly accepted.

“I’m still pissed at you.” He mumbled.

“I know” Otis said gesturing at a toppled over tree, “I can explain.”

“Alright.” Kolby mumbled as he meekly sat down and waited for Otis to speak.

“I just wanted to…” Otis admitted, “I really like you and, you know, after this summer everything is going to change. Everyone is leaving.” He turned his head to look at Kolby in the semi dark, of the old rail road lamps, “You’re leaving too.”

Kolby asked, “You’re staying here?”

“Yeah.” Otis nodded, “I guess I ought to be looking for work and not goof around trying to impress the pretty boys.” He laughed nervously.

Kolby laughed softly and took a sip of his beer, “You did go through a hell of trouble to pull off that prank.”

“Did I ever.” Otis grinned, his grin faded and for a moment he seemed lost in thought, “I’m sorry I scared you, I swear it was never the plan.” He looked up at Kolby, “I wanted to impress you.”

“Impress me?” Kolby asked, inching a little closer to Otis on the fallen tree trunk.

“I wanted to get your attention, you know. Then Seth decided to be an arsehole about it. Fucked it all up on purpose.” Otis laughed bitterly, “But, I have an ace up my sleeve.” He looked at Kolby, “I’m going to get him for scaring you like that.” He was vaguely aware of his own hypocrisy, but chose to ignore it. “His idea was stupid to begin with.” Turning his head, Otis stared straight into Kolby’s eyes, gingerly he touched Kolby’s cheek and when Kolby smiled, Otis leaned a little forward and kissed him. It was a soft, fleeting kiss – not at all in synch with Otis’ raging fantasies, but yet it surpassed any of his sticky dreams because it was real. Kolby was right here and the soft lips against his were real.

Otis sighed blissfully and opened his eyes as the kiss ended. They could just stay here, fuck Seth and fuck Alex, he would much rather sit here with Kolby.

“What are you planning?” Kolby whispered, his cheeks flush which made Otis grin and his heart loop in his chest.

“I brought this.” He reached down into the plastic bag and pulled out a hairy werewolf mask, “Bought it off ebay.”

Kolby shook his head amused, “Maybe we could just let it go?”

Otis stared wide-eyed at Kolby and shook his head, “Seth and Alex are having a laugh on my expense – our expense.” When Kolby just raised a brow, Otis continued, “So the original plan was that you and I pass the well, and Seth would wave some hairy rubber arm about – I would defend you with a stick and you’d be grateful and, well yeah, you get the idea.”

Kolby chuckled softly, the sound almost lost in the sounds of the thin woods, “That is the most stupid idea I ever heard.”

Otis nodded and smiled, “Except Seth claims he was in the well earlier and what we saw could not have been him.”

“Otis, come on.”

“No I’m dead serious.” Otis argued, “He insists he left before we got here.”

Kolby sat for a long time thinking, biting his lip, “He’s your friend, right? Why would he lie? What if it’s true, have you thought of that? Remember those howls we heard? They were terrifying.”

Reaching down into his pocket, Otis produced his silver necklace, “Take it.” He held it out to Kolby.

“I can’t. He’ll notice and ask questions.” Kolby shifted nervously.

“Seth said that it must have been the silver chain that prevented the wolf from attacking that night, and if you believe there is even the slightest chance he speaks the truth – then you should wear it. Just for now, okay?” Otis said as he carefully opened the lock of the necklace.

Kolby wordlessly held up his hair allowing Otis to put the necklace around his neck. Otis inched so close their thighs were flush against each other, and as he reached around Kolby’s neck to close the necklace, he gently placed another kiss on the taller boys lips. “There, you’re safe from hairy things in the night.”

Kolby laughed merrily and kissed Otis with much more spirit than earlier. “My hero.”

A part of Otis never wanted to leave that tree trunk, but Kolby got up and held out his hand for Otis to take it, “So, should we go meet up with your friends?”

Otis sighed and nodded, hoping he could arrange with Kolby to come back here to the trunk and kiss some more tomorrow night. A couple of rain droplets hit them as they started to walk up the  path, Kolby looked up at the sky where heavy rain clouds lazily crawled by, “Look.” He pointed with his free hand, “It’s even a full moon.”

“Perfect.” Otis squeezed Kolby’s hand.

-*-

As they arrive at the Stone Farm courtyard, it’s completely deserted. There are some beers on the ground next to a bench but no people in sight. “I fucking knew it.” Otis shook his head, “I swear they are idiots – To think they think so little of me that I’d fall for the same fucking prank twice.”

A loud pained whimper escaped from the well to their left, it sounded like a mix between someone in extreme pain and extreme sorrow. Otis let go of Kolby’s hand and slowly walked to the edge of the well, “Seth? Is that you, you arsehole?” He called softly down into the darkness, but was only rewarded with a low sob like sound from the bottom of the dark pit. “Sod it.” Otis marched to his plastic bag where Kolby stood.

“What?” Kolby asked, not sure if this was a part of the joke or not.

“That bloody arsehole thinks he’s going to win this.” Otis just growled and roamed around in the bag till he found what he was looking for, a torch. His mum would be furious if she found that he had stolen the torch from the fuse box, but it just couldn’t be helped. “Stay there.” Otis said to Kolby, managing a little smile, “I’m just going to have a peek.” He held up the torch.

Walking back to the well, Otis turned on the torch and flashed the light down the well, he couldn’t see the bottom clearly, only that someone was down there, laying or sitting in a weird position. And no matter how angry he was with Seth he started to get worried that he was actually hurt. “Seth?” He called, “Are you okay?” He shone the light on the vines but they looked intact, but maybe he fell as he was trying to get down into the well and repeat the prank. The dark figure at the bottom of the well let out yet another loud howl, this time it sounded like definite pain. “Seth! Goddammit!” He leaned as much in over the well as he dared to try and get a better look at the bottom, “Are you hurt? Say something, man. The joke is over!”  But the answer Otis received was just another sob sounding whimper echoing off the walls of the well.

“Otis, come on.” Kolby called from the edge of the courtyard, “Leave it.”

Otis looked over his shoulder at Kolby who looked ghostly pale and scared in the pale moonlight. “Just wait.” Otis mumbled and left the well, but only to return to the plastic bag. “We can’t leave,” Otis said looking at Kolby, “What if he’s hurt? I can’t see a thing down there, other than someone is there and that someone is not right – like I can’t explain it.”

“Let me see.” Kolby took the torch out of Otis’ hand. Otis objected weakly, but Kolby shrugged and said, “If he’s hurt we need to help him, and besides I got this – remember?” Kolby hooked a finger behind the silver chain and held it out into the moonlight.

Otis took the plastic bag and followed Kolby over to the well. He was furious with Seth, they were supposed to be apologizing and having a beer, not crawling in wells. And to think that Seth and Alex thought he’d fall for the same goddamn stunt twice was just insulting.

“I see him.” Kolby said, “Can’t tell if it’s Seth though.”

“Fuck it.” Otis said and pulled the mask from the bag, “If they think they can take the piss on us they are sorely mistaken.”

“Please don’t,” Kolby said.

“I am going to get that fucker; I am not scared that easily.” He tenderly tucked some wayward hair back behind Kolby’s ear. “They are just trying to scare us – I know them.”

“Mission accomplished.” Kolby laughed nervously, “Can we leave now?”

“Give me the torch.” Otis asked holding out his hand. Kolby hesitantly placed the torch in the outstretched hand, “Please?” He asked once more, “I got a bad feeling about this.”

“You’re supposed to have a bad feeling about it.” Otis shrugged, “Otherwise it would be a lame fucking prank, wouldn’t it?”

Kolby just sighed, watched Otis put on the wolf mask, and started to descend the well. Kolby sidestepped a little at the overgrown cobblestone at the ground above. “Can you see him?” He whispered loudly into the night.

“Can’t see shit for this mask.” Otis replied from down the well.

Another strangled howl ripped through the night. It gave Otis the chills and he seriously started to question what the hell he was doing. He could hear Kolby talk up above, but the massive rubber wolf mask muffled sounds as well as obscured his sight. With gritted teeth he decided to descend further, he wondered how Seth made those growling, howling sounds – it was probably a tape recorder.

Finally, Otis had firm ground under his feet, and his hands burned from crawling down the vines. He could hear heavy breathing next to him, and he could hear Kolby yell down the well. Otis tore off the stupid mask and tossed it on the floor, he made his point and besides it smelled like apple sauce inside. He looked up at the opening at the well far above him, two people stood up there, and he could hear Kolby yell but the words didn’t quite make it down to him. “…’eth is ‘ere.. ‘ome..”

“What?” Seth yelled back, holding his hands around his mouth to get as much force to his voice as possible.

Kolby looked over at Seth, “Do you think he heard me?” Seth shrugged and Kolby yelled again, “Seth is here! Come up Otis! Please!”

Otis gave up on hearing them, he’d come up alright he would just kick Seth’s ass first. He could hear heavy breathing and deep growling behind him. Otis smiled victoriously, “I can hear you fucker, I win.” He turned on his torch and turned around staring directly at Alex who was hunched over weirdly, his eyes was bulging from their sockets and his arms were all wrong and too long. Otis dropped the torch on the floor of the well so now it was shining directly up at Alex distorted figure, like an effect from a bad black and white horror movie.

“Told you not…” Alex managed to growl out, his voice deep and rusty, “to tempt fate.” He growled deep in his chest, “Idiot.”

“Fuck!” Otis stepped backwards and his back met with the vines. “Shit. Fuck!” His mind refused to really compute what he saw, and he just turned to grab a hold of the vines and climb up from the well. He could still see the two figures at the opening, beneath him wolf-Alex howled again, and this time it terrified Otis to the bone. He was desperately grabbing unto the vines his hands sore and swollen from the decent, he was almost halfway when he aimlessly in panic grabbed a hold of a vine that couldn’t support his weight, and he tore a large chunk of the vine off as he tumbled to the bottom of the well once more.

For a while he just lay there on his back afraid to move, his leg burned with pain and he figured that he had landed on it badly as he fell. Wolf-Alex growled louder, and now it sounded more like an animal. In reflex Otis reached for his silver chain, and with terrible realization recalled, he had given it to Kolby because Otis didn’t believe in this shit. Otis slowly opened his eyes only to find that while he didn’t believe in this shit, this shit believed in him. Wolf-Alex was no longer even resembling a man, he was a snarling predator staring down at Otis with wild, hungry, yellow eyes and barred teeth as were it waiting for Otis to make a move.

A loud snarl followed by a blood curdling scream spilled from the well. Kolby stepped forward to look down into the well. “Hey, don’t worry.” Seth said with a smile and took a swing of his beer, “He’s just taking the piss.”

“Are you serious?” Kolby asked? “That sounded…bad.” He cringed as another gurgled scream made it’s way up to them.

“Dead.” Seth said and gently wrapped an arm around Kolby’s shoulder.

“But he said…” Kolby shivered slightly at the dead silence, “He wouldn’t play me like that.”

Seth actually laughed, “Of course he would.” He said softly, “He is the worst prankster of us all.”

Kolby looked up at Seth, not sure what to believe.

Seth picked up his bag with his rubber wolf arm and his four-pack, “Don’t be mad, it’s all a show for you.” As they turned from the well another long pained howl which sounded closer to a scream sounded from the well. “Come on, let me take you home. I’ll tell you a story on the way. The person who told me swears it’s true.” He guided the mortified Kolby towards the path and away from the ruin and towards the village.

-End.

Contact the author: az.ombie@gmail.com

Homepage: https://artemisiavulgaris.wordpress.com/

Writing blog: https://thehorriblewolf.wordpress.com/

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Lisa for correcting my terrible grammar. Thank you to Anne for still believing in me, and thanks to my children and husband for giving me space to enjoy my hobby.

This is a free sample chapter from our upcoming book Phantasms. Please join the writing blogs mailing list for further updates.

This is a work of fiction; all characters belong to A. Sturtevant & R. Petersen.

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