Friday, November 26, 2021

Devil's Moon - Writers 750 Contest Entries

I have rekindled my love of writing thanks to the Writers 750 contest.  Each month has a theme and key elements which must be included in the story, and, most difficult for me, especially, is the 1,500 word limit. I had fun idea for October's entry, however, it was impossible to tell the whole story within the word limitation, so I asked permission to write the story in two parts. 

    Devil's Moon is a story about the supernatural and two opposing factions.  Part one, subtitled The Pack, tells the story of a young lycanthrope coming of age, as it were.  Part two, The Hunters, tells the tale of the human family tasked with eradicating the Pack.  

Together the stories tell a strange tale of redemption.

I hope you enjoy Devil's Moon:

 Devil's Moon Pt 1

The Pack

     Benny sauntered up to a group of Freshmen and threw down his challenge.  “Hey losers, I bet none of you can beat me in a softest punch contest.”  Benny, a Junior, was known for being a trickster and a bit of a bully around campus, but the newest group of  Freshmen had not been around long enough to know of Benny’s antics.  Sean, the smallest of the group, asked, “What is that?”  Benny said, with a leer, “We see who can throw the softest punch, shoot, I’ll even let you go first.”  Sean, looking excited to connect with an upperclassman in his new school said, “Sure, why not?” as he walked up to Benny, who probably outweighed him by at least a hundred pounds. With the gentlest of jabs, Sean’s fist barely made contact with Benny’s arm.  Benny reared back and punched Sean in his arm with everything he had. Sean landed on his side about a foot and a half away, clutching his arm and using all of his will power to not start crying.  Benny laughed, “Congratulations kid, you won!” and headed off to his next class.

Sean’s humiliation was almost Benny’s undoing. By lunch time, word of Benny’s little gag had gotten to the Dean of boys, Jack Carlton, who was waiting for Benny outside the school cafeteria.  Mr. Carlton placed a hand on Benny’s shoulder and with a painfully firm grip directed him to the administration offices.  Benny did not scare easily, but at the moment a sheen of sweat appeared over his brow. “What’s the problem Mr. Carlton?” Benny asked, attempting to sound innocent of any possible wrongdoing.  The fact of the matter was this little visit may have been prompted by any one of a half dozen pranks and misdemeanors Benny had orchestrated, or at least participated in, the past several days. Mr. Carlton remained silent until he escorted Benny into his office, where two police officers stood waiting.  “Have a seat Benny”, Mr. Carlton said as he walked behind his desk and took a seat. 

     “I understand you assaulted a student this morning.”  Benny’s mouth dropped open as he attempted to wrap his mind around the accusation.  “No sir, I never assaulted anybody, there must be some misunderstanding!”  Benny knew there were plenty of things he deserved to answer for, but being accused of assault took him completely by surprise.  Mr. Carlton leaned forward and looked Benny in the eye, “Well, Benny, there was a hallway full of witnesses, who will happily testify in court, that they saw you punch Sean Prescott so hard you almost broke his arm.”  “I was just fooling around with the kid, I swear, I don’t even know him!” Benny protested.  At that, one of the police officers stepped forward and told Benny, “Stand up, turn around and place your hands behind your back.”  Benny complied and felt the cold steel on his wrists as the police officer handcuffed him.

    Now sobbing, Benny asked Mr. Carlton if he could call his mom. “We’ll get to that, Benny, I want to explain something to you first.” Mr. Carlton stepped to the front of his desk, crossed his arms and asked Benny, “How old are you?”  “I’m seventeen, sir”, he mumbled.  “When do you turn eighteen, son?”  Not for another eight months, Sir.”  Mr. Carlton looked hard at Benny and asked him, “You like how those handcuffs feel?”  “No sir, I don’t like it one bit.”  “Good, you got eight months to get yourself together and figure out what you want life to look like for you.  Once you turn eighteen, if you so much as lay a finger on another kid in this school, I will have you arrested and believe me, I don’t care how tough you think you are, an eighteen year old kid in jail will not fare very well, you understand me?”  Benny could only nod his head as snot and tears covered his face.

    Mr. Carlton nodded his head to the officer who cuffed Benny and the policeman removed the cuffs. The two officers nodded to the Dean as they took their leave.  Benny’s mom, Wanda, who had been in another room listening, entered the office, staring daggers at her wayward son. Dean Carlton stood up and walked next to Wanda.  “You will be suspended for one week and you will be expected to keep up with all your school assignments during that time.  I will be keeping my eye on you Benny.  We can be the best of friends or bitter enemies, that is completely up to you.”    

    “Go wait in the car Benny,” Wanda directed as she turned to face Mr. Carlton.  Carlton rubbed his face displaying his weariness, “Of all the kids in this school he could have picked on he had to go after a Prescott.”  Wanda’s eyes grew large, “When did a Prescott start coming to this school?” “He’s a first year freshman, just got here at the beginning of the year. I guess I should have warned the Pack.”  “Ya think?” Wanda spat out.  “It’s because of a Prescott I have been raising that kid by myself for the last ten years, so, how good did he give it to him, anyway?”  “Well, he gave him a pretty good shot, actually, kid’s stronger than he realizes.  It’s odd he is such a late bloomer.”  Wanda looked toward the window, “Oh I don’t think it will be too long now, he’s been growling in his sleep, so I’d say he’s probably only a moon cycle or two away.” 

    “I hope you understand why I took such drastic measures with Benny, we have to maintain the truce and I wanted to make sure the Prescotts understood this was an unfortunate coincidence.  I have no doubt we could eliminate the Prescotts once and for all, but it would surely expose us and we’d be hunted to the ends of the earth. The truce is the only thing that keeps us alive”  Wanda sighed, “I understand Jack, I just wish that superstition didn’t keep us in the shadows.”  “Well,”’ Carton said as he walked Wanda to the door, “it looks like the Prescotts are keeping up their end of the truce because I don't think that kid has any idea about any of this, and hopefully he never will.”  

Two weeks later, on the afternoon before the night of the full moon, Benny heard the sound of a bell, faintly ringing from the direction of the mountains outside town. Inexplicably, the sound called to him, drawing him like a siren song.  Benny stepped outside and began walking toward the sound of the bell, slowly at first but soon, he was running.  A car pulled alongside him as he ran. “Hey Benny, where are you off to in such a hurry?”  It was the cop who had handcuffed him in Dean Carlton’s office, but he was not in uniform.  “Uh, I’m not really sure, uh, I guess I am just out for a run.”  Benny was confused and couldn’t explain to himself what was happening, never mind trying to explain it to a cop.  

“You hearing the bell Benny?” the off duty policeman asked. “Um, yeah, do you hear it too?” the boy responded.  “Yep, every month, since I was about your age, come on, get in, I’ll drive you up there, your mom will be up there too.” Bewildered, Benny got in and within fifteen minutes the car pulled into a clearing at the end of a steep mountain road and drove through an open gate.

Wanda’s face lit up with delight as she saw her son get out of the car.  She ran to him and threw her arms around him sobbing with joy, “Welcome to the Pack son! I thought this day would never come!”  Bewildered, Benny just stood there hugging his mom wondering what in the world was going on.  Mr. Carlton walked over and put his arm around Benny, “Since your dad isn’t here to share this special moment, I would be honored if you ran with me tonight, Benny.”  “Sure, I guess, Mr. Carlton, but I really have no idea what’s going on.”  Mr. Carlton and Wanda both looked up at the rising moon as the final wisps of daylight faded, fur sprouting from their faces, “You will soon,” they both said simultaneously.

Devil's Moon Pt 2 

The Hunters

Dale Prescott sat in his living room watching the full moon rise. The monthly guilt reached out to him with icy fingers, as he held  his Bible, praying for peace and for deliverance of those whom he knew were cavorting with evil, this night.  Every month, for the past ten years, Dale battled his conscience.  No one outside his family knew the dark secrets he carried and most in the family did not understand the weight he shouldered as chief of The Hunters.  He gained a new identity in his faith, but not everyone shared his faith nor did they agree with calling off The Hunt. The Hunt, just as deadly to the hunters as the hunted, after centuries of war failed to tip the balance one way or another.  Dale believed there had to be a better way to eradicate the evil his family battled for generations.  

The verse the senior Prescott  meditated on most came back to him: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  For generations the Prescott family hunted an abominable perversion of nature, a pervasive and dangerous evil. The Prescott family, alone, knew lycanthropes were real and, for reasons lost to history, were tasked with their eradication. Ten years earlier Dale was installed as clan chief after the passing of his father.  To prove his worthiness, he had to make a kill, which in modern times, was far more difficult than it had been for his medieval relatives.

Hunting the Pack was more dangerous than any other prey in the world.  Members of the Pack presented only one night per month, possessing supernatural abilities to ward off attack.  Making a successful kill was equal parts luck and skill.  Sometimes decades would pass before a successful kill and each kill usually incurred retaliation to the hunters. Violence always begets violence.  Dale, in his first month as chief,  made the kill, cementing his place at the head of the table.  Wayne Morris was his victim.  Wayne left behind a wife and a seven year old son named Benny.  After the kill, Dale watched as the abomination transformed back into human form, a man like him, a man with a family and a life.  Furthermore, the Pack had not hunted human flesh for over two hundred years, so there really was no justification for killing them.  

After the kill, Dale decided to numb his conflicted conscience by visiting the local liquor store.  On the way, he passed a brightly lit church from which he could faintly hear lively music.  Seeing the giant cross atop the church steeple was more than Dale’s soul could bear, he pulled into the parking lot, sat in his car and cried.  After he cried himself dry, he noticed the music had stopped and felt compelled to enter the church.  Taking a seat in the back, Dale heard a message of God’s love for sinners, even a murderer like himself. More importantly, he heard a message of redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Dale’s life was never the same.  
    Realizing the Hunt was futile and ineffective, after much prayer, Dale was able to convince the Hunters to call a truce.  For the first time in human memory, a Prescott revealed himself to the Pack and both sides realized mutually assured destruction was a pretty good enticement for peace.  The truce held firm for ten years, until two weeks earlier when Wayne Morris’ kid almost broke Dale’s nephew’s arm at school.  A parlay between Dale and the high school Dean of Boys smoothed over any potential problems but he knew something had to change, so tonight, while the Pack ran, Dale prayed more earnestly than ever.

    The following  weekend, Dale had dinner at his brother’s house and over dessert, asked his nephew Sean how school was going.  “It's Ok, I guess, the biggest trick is staying away from the bullies.  Some of the bigger kids like to pick on the new freshmen.”  Since becoming a follower of Christ, Dale had a knack for naturally turning any conversation into an opportunity to share spiritual truth, and was able to impart some Biblical wisdom to his nephew. Intrigued, Sean asked questions allowing Dale to share the Gospel clearly and concisely.  By the end of the night, Sean prayed with his uncle, placing his faith in Jesus Christ.  Sean didn’t feel anything physically take place, but mentally and spiritually he felt as if a tremendous weight lifted from his soul.  

    Monday morning, at school, Sean saw Benny Morris, the older boy who had nearly broken his arm a few weeks earlier.  Sean made a point to avoid Benny and his buddies but today, Sean felt an urge to, not only talk to Benny, but to try to smooth things over. “Hey Benny,” Sean said, tentatively.  “Huh? Oh hey kid, listen, I’m sorry for, ah, you know, well, I was just messing around, I didn’t mean to really hurt you.”  Sean stuck out his hand and Benny shook it, and for the first time ever a Lycanthrope and a Prescott took steps over the threshold of friendship.  

    Days earlier, Benny experienced his first transformation and was feeling excited, scared and a bit isolated from his friends.  Changing into a ravenous beast and running with the Pack had been the most exhilarating experience of Benny’s life, but it also meant a life of secrets and isolation.  Being seventeen was tough enough, realizing he was truly different from most people added a whole other layer of uncertainty. Sean’s unexpected overture of friendship could not have come at a better time.

    The Dean, a leader within the Pack, kept a close eye on the friendship forming between Sean and Benny, wondering if it was a good or bad thing.  He wanted to believe it was a good thing, but, gnawing at the fringes of his consciousness was an inexplicable alarm.  The Dean  decided to monitor the situation, ready to take action if necessary.

    Both Benny and Sean experienced life altering events in the last week, however, Benny was unable to share his experience. Sean, on the other hand, was very excited to share his newfound faith and began asking Benny what he thought about God.  It seemed Sean had the same natural ability to share his faith as his uncle, just not the knowledge his uncle possessed after a decade of study.  Benny was aware, now more than ever, of his misdeeds,  and the idea of being right with God appealed to him like never before. As the conversation progressed, Benny had many questions, unfortunately, Sean had few answers. Finally, Sean suggested they visit his uncle Dale, a man who had answers. 

        Dale Prescott could not have been more surprised when he opened his door to Sean and Benny.  Dale was always cognizant of the fact he was responsible for the death of Benny’s father and now the child he had left fatherless stood on his doorstep.  Swallowing his fear and confusion, Dale asked, “what can I do for you fellas?”  Sean excitedly stepped in past his uncle and explained how he and Benny had been discussing Jesus but he had run out of answers so they were there to fill in the gaps. 

     Dale began to lay out the basics of the Gospel message, as Benny listened intently.  Dale noticed the air in his home had become almost electric, much like when a  thunderstorm was about to strike.  A chill filled the air and the odor of rotting garbage wafted across the room.  Dale, the only one who seemed to notice, realized something spiritual was happening, something malevolent was stirring.

    Finally, Dale asked Benny if he was ready to pray and ask for forgiveness, accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Benny seemed eager, even as the room began to smell acrid.  Benny prayed out loud while his body went rigid and shook.  As he continued to pray, a low moan began to emanate, from behind his own voice.  The moan grew louder, growing to a horrific shriek as Benny’s body convulsed violently and then, a sudden release, as an ancient evil entity was expelled from his body.  The windows in the living room shattered, the air returned to normal and the odors of burnt and rotting garbage dissipated.  

    Dale now knew what his family had been fighting for centuries. As all three sat in shock, staring at the shattered windows, Dale realized the war was back on.  This would not be war against flesh and blood but war fought on a spiritual level.  As Benny and Sean attempted to process what they had just experienced, Dale accepted his mission and was grateful for the two young men sitting in his living room, knowing they would be his first recruits in a battle for trapped souls.

 To learn more about Writers 750 you can check it out here:

The writing contest is open to everyone and happens every month. Also, if you are interested in becoming a better writer, I encourage you to check your my friend H.M. Shuldt's book.

Whatever you do, do it unto the Lord!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

1 comment: