THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF Part 6
I have mentioned before the psychological state in which I found myself while trapped in the form of the Cynocephalus. I can only assume it is the same for all the accursed. Unreasoning, blinding rage, an all-consuming impetus to kill; the bloodlust of the beast leaves no room for rational thought.
Most of the time.
For all our aggression, we Dogheads seldom turned on each other during our times in the Penance House. Snapping and snarling were constant, but serious fights between us were few. It is a peculiarity of the affliction that we recognize in our fellow brutes kindred spirits; the Devil wants his children to conserve their teeth and claws for the innocent. I recall only twice when a Doghead, locked inside the lodge, suffered serious injury from another of our kind, and these recovered soon enough. As part of our curse we are bequeathed rapid healing abilities, designed by the Devil to be almost impossible to maim or kill. A strength and a weakness, then, both difficult to overcome.
Kethryn, through no fault of her own, lent me the strength to accomplish the besting of the latter.
God, how I loved her. Had things been different, had I not born Lycanon’s curse, I would have in time asked Demetrios for her hand and taken her as my bride. If and only. Together they are the most hateful words ever spoken by mortal man. If only. If only I hadn’t loved her so much. If only I hadn’t followed her down to the stream that day. If only someone—my parents, the Christ-men, the gods, someone, anyone—had killed me while I was still a boy. If only I had died in infancy. If and only.
Kethryn let me kiss her. If only she had not. I remember the moment, the day in such pristine clarity, blinding clarity. How her lips tasted sweet; we had been eating grapes.
“You have some on your mouth,” I said, moving to wipe it away.
“Do I?” she’d replied, her voice softer than any down, and inviting.
I stole a quick glance around us to make certain no adults were in sight, then kissed her, smearing the drop of grape juice between our lips. A brief kiss; I dared not prolong it. But in that instant liquid fire coursed through me and I wanted to giggle or weep with happiness. The perfect moment, occurring on the perfect day. Early autumn, and it felt cool in the dappled shade of the grape arbor; the air was filled with the bleating of sheep in their corral, the laughter of little children from the far side of the village, playing some game. I see and hear it all. The perfect, unplanned moment. I reached to touch her face, brushed aside her hair.
“Someone might see,” she cautioned.
“I don’t care!” I said. I didn’t. Let the world know my happiness. I loved her!
“I have chores to do, Christopher,” she said, “and Father will doubtless be looking for you in the fields.”
“I’ll help you.”
“I’m sure he needs you more than I do.”
I agreed with reluctance. But I did not go to the fields. Instead I followed her with the basket of laundry down to the stream. I could not have known, dared not imagine, that upon completing the washing Kathryn would strip off her gown, revealing her nakedness to the forest, to any careless gods or sprites who happened to be looking, and to me where I hid behind a thicket of ferns, peering through the fronds, panting like some giddy cur lost in the ecstasy of being petted. I had never seen a woman naked before, and Kethryn was a woman, the most beloved of all women to me. I cannot resist dwelling a moment upon the memory of her beauty. Her skin, her arms and face a light bronze from exposure to the sun, the rest of her pale like snow from its absence; the darkness, in contrast, of her nipples and the patch of hair growing between her hipbones. The soft plumpness of her hips and breasts. She waded in and the water swallowed her.
At that moment it did not occur to me. This was the same spot from which I had stolen Kethryn’s little sister years before, while I was in the form of the beast, the little beast of my first transformation. This was the same spot where I had knelt in the chilly water and had more water poured over my head, where the priest of the Christ-men had pronounced me a new being and given me my new name.
I was not changed. I was not redeemed. I was, as a child, as a youth of eighteen, staring in lust and adoration at his beloved that day, a monster, a slave to the Devil.
If only I had not followed her down to the stream.
The stream—how often do the cycles of my life return again and again to water?
I swore, kneeling there amidst the ferns, watching Kethryn bathe, that I would have her. And I did have her, though not in the way that I fantasized.
The following day, or the night of the following day, began the days of my confinement with the other Dogheads in the Penance House. The days before and after the full moon were dangerous also, as most often the transformation did not wait until the completeness of the waxing moon, nor cease immediately after its zenith. We accursed were thus kept locked up for a week or better. I always dreaded this incarceration, three, four or five nights of misery, not counting the nights of the actual transformation. That particular night, however, my memory of Kethryn and her nakedness kept me happy and warm, kept the stench of the place in my nostrils from tormenting me. I could think of nothing but my Kethryn.
If only it had not been so.
The transformation took me and the others on the second night.
I have said that I always remember what I do while in the form of the brute. Yet I cannot now, or never could, recall the way I managed to communicate with my brothers. Do the Cynocephali posses some form of rudimentary language, something only they can understand? I don’t know. I only know it had never been done before, that which I did that night. The rage of the beast never allowed for reason. But that night I could only think of Kethryn. My lust and love for her focused my thoughts. If only it had not happened that way. I, focused, given semblance of the powers of reasoning, somehow managed to achieve it, managed to foster it, in the others. Enough rational thought for the spread of an idea, a plan.
“Hear me, brothers!” I somehow managed to get through to them. “Always we claw at these walls and hurl ourselves against the door, but they are too strong. I say that we are stronger, if we combine our strength. Let us not seek to batter down the door. The timbers that bar it are too strong. Let us pick a spot—there! That spot, where a pair of stones has fallen away! Let us attack that one spot together, and of a surety we will break through the wall this night!”
A focus. One idea, now held in the mind of each beast. My desire for Kethryn made it possible for me and I made it possible for them. We attacked the soft spot in the wall, one after another, in waves. When one of more of us exhausted ourselves, others would take up the attack. For this reason, this one thing that had never before happened—no Doghead had ever managed to formulate or communicate a plan before—there occurred that other which had never before happened: For years on end, ever since the coming of the Christians to the land of Arcadia, the Penance House had stood, its walls containing those locked within. The Christians credited this to their prayers more than its sturdy construction. On that night, their prayers failed them. We broke down the wall.
Some three hours before dawn, the entire pack of the accursed, some two dozen of us, rampaged through the village. All the people were caught unawares. They had no chance. Lambs before wolves. Sleeping lambs. A feast, an orgy of death. If only I could not remember it! I cannot get the sound of Kethryn’s scream out of my ears even now, so many years later. Her scream as I dragged her from her bed.
The only comfort I have ever been able to accord myself, and this a meager, wan, miniscule comfort, a pitiful and weak comfort—at least she did not know the beast that dragged her from beneath the covers was me. I do not believe, at least, that she did. I pray that she did not. Oh, Kethryn! My love, my love!
Enough. No more.
I awoke in the forest, myself again, in the morning sunlight. Naked, I walked back to the village. I had nowhere else to go.
I found Demetrios sitting in the filth of the yard in front of our cabin. I, too, had called this cottage home. The ground of the yard was made muddy with spilled blood. The pens of the sheep and chickens were all torn down. Blood, everywhere; blood and bodies, pieces of bodies, animals and people; exposed red flesh; torn, splintered bone; strips of clothing; swarming flies; crows picking at the dead. The morning, lovely, warm for the season, stood in stark contrast to the horror of the scene. I cannot scour my mind of the sight. Hell itself cannot be more awful to behold!
The few villagers who had survived the night were wandering about in a stupor or, like Demetrios, sitting, nursing wounds, waiting to die.
Demetrios had not escaped unscathed. Far from it. He had almost lost his right arm. He had bound it with cords, and these held the meat to the bone but, sodden and dripping, had not stopped the flow of blood. He looked pale.
“It was me!” I blubbered, falling on my face before Demetrios. “I did it!”
I am not sure Demetrios even heard me. He did not look at me, even when he spoke.
“You cannot live here with us anymore, Christopher.” Tears had washed tracks through the blood on his face. “You have to go.”
I did. Without a word I left him there, left them all, the dead to bury the dead. I ran again into the forest. I ran down to the ford, where I had taken my first victim years before, where I had been baptized, where I had not two days earlier watched Kethryn bathing in the stream. This time I knew she would not be there, nor would there be any priest waiting to pronounce my redemption. I did not, could never expect redemption for what I had done. I did not want it. I knew what I had to do and I wanted, intended nothing else.
I had to destroy myself.
The beast had to die.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!