THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Chapter One
As promised last week, peeps, here is the opening salvo of my original werewolf novel. Give it a paragraph or two. If you aren’t impressed, skip it.
But I think you’re gonna dig it.
All material is copyright 2018 by me. Feel free to share it ad nauseam, just please credit me as the author.
+++THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST+++
A Novel by Wayne Miller
Etymology: Middle English monstre, from Latin monstrum: “to reveal”
1 a: of abnormal form or structure b: one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character
2 a: threatening force
3 a: an animal of strange or terrifying shape b: one unusually large for its kind
4 a: something monstrous: a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty
ONE MONTH AGO — FULL MOON
Nothing in the world existed but the drums. His heart throbbed in accompaniment, his flesh quivered; his bones vibrated to the beat. A dull ache in his ears, ears that felt stuffed with cotton yet found no relief from the drums. The noise made it impossible to think, yet he knew he must try. The drums pushed him towards insanity.
He tried to speak, drawing in a breath, but the air, thick with smoke, felt acidic. His throat tightened. He forced his eyes open, but the world lay obscured behind a veil of tears. He blinked them away, seeing light amidst the greater dark. Dancing flames. A torch?
Yes, he could see the burning heads of several torches, hovering immobile in the air—mounted in niches along a wall. He could discern a wall of black stone through the shadows and the smoke. Other walls. The ceiling must be too far overhead. The floor? Yes, he lay on the floor. He felt it under his back, rough and cool.
The man tried to sit up. His head spun and he fell back. His eyes closed again. He gritted his teeth, fighting off the darkness, fighting to stay conscious. He heard a sound amidst the drums, a voice. Words, shouting. He couldn’t understand what was being said, but he clung to the words as to a lifeline. They drew him back from the void, those words. A woman’s words. A woman’s voice.
“You sleep too long, lover.” Had the drums weakened, or did the voice speak very near to him? Yes, the latter. He could feel her warm breath in his ear, on his cheek.
“Wake up, now. It is time.” The words were in Spanish. He recognized that much. And the voice sounded familiar. God, he wanted to sleep. But he concentrated on the voice. Who is she?
“Wake up!” A slap to the face. Another. His eyes blinked open.
“Shh.” He could see her face now, so close to his own. Dark, pretty, framed by long, wet, black hair. Eyes as black as true blindness. She stroked his face.
“It is time, my love.” He managed to turn his head a little, to look at her. She knelt beside him, naked, several necklaces and beads, trinkets strung around her neck, dangling between her breasts. She had painted her bare skin, scarlet rings around her nipples, some strange design in white on her abdomen. Now he could make out circlets of green and blue on her cheeks, a dot on her chin and corresponding one on her forehead.
“Susanna?” He drew the name up from the well of his memory, out of the nothingness.
“Shh.” She bent low, kissing him. She tasted of bitter wine, smoke. Salty. She thrust her tongue in his mouth, probing, then pulled away.
“What…did you do…to me?” the man asked. He tried to sit up again, made it to an elbow.
“The drugs will help. Dull the pain for you. Blunt its fangs.”
“Drugged me…you bitch!”
“Shh.” She stood, turning away from him. The strange symbols covered her back as well, her buttocks, down her legs. Varying colors.
Dizzy, he shook his head, forced himself into a sitting position. He realized he, too, was naked.
The drums stopped. His ears rang. Around him, he could now make out other faces, other people. Men and women; old, wrinkled; little more than children; all ages in-between. Dark faces, like Susanna’s. Dark skin, painted like hers. Naked, all of them. Painted bodies. And then he remembered everything.
“Oh, God!” he muttered.
“He does not dare to venture here,” Susanna said, turning. In her hand, she held a long knife. “He fears EL LOBIZON.”
“You lying whore!” He spat the words. “I trusted you!”
Susanna laughed. She always sounded like a little girl when she laughed.
“Make him ready,” Susanna said. Two men grabbed him, one to each arm, dragging him forward. Ropes were tightened around each of his wrists.
“What are you doing?!”
The ropes were jerked taut, each stretching from his wrist to the nearest wall, passing through an iron ring, being pulled by the men. He was drawn up off his knees to his feet, his arms spread in a Y position. He rose onto his tiptoes. The men secured the ropes in place.
Susanna walked over, fingering the big knife. She smiled.
“Shh.” She stroked his chest, his side. She clutched his penis, squeezing it, caressing it. “My pretty man.”
“Marcus.” She leaned in close, her breasts against his chest, her breath in his face. “Did I not tell you how special you are? Out of all the men I could have had, I picked you. Pretty Marcus.” She walked around behind him, still stroking his manhood.
“Susanna, for God’s sake!”
“I told you,” she said, her cheek brushing his shoulder. “Your God is afraid to come here.”
Marcus pulled on the ropes, groaning.
“Save your strength, my pretty man,” Susanna said. “You are going to need all of it.” She let go of him, taking a step back.
A couple of men brought in what looked to be a large plastic cooler, setting it down a few feet away.
“The drugs will keep you alive,” Susanna said.
“No!” Marcus pulled on the ropes again, lifting himself off his feet. He collapsed back with a gasp of exhaustion.
The drums began again, swallowing all else. A sensation akin to being submerged in water. Marcus could feel himself begin to sway in the ropes, floating on the sound.
Behind him, Susanna made the first cut.
“No!” He turned as best he could, looking over his shoulder. Susanna stood with eyes wide, mouth gaping in delight. Specks of crimson spattered her already decorated skin. She smeared it over herself, licking some off her fingers. She murmured something he couldn’t make out.
“Susanna, please don’t!”
Blood. His blood, on her skin. The cut felt strange, a cold sensation. Not pain, so much. Odd.
She cut again. In the light of the torches, the others had started to dance. Marcus could feel blood trickling down his legs.
Again. And again. Long cuts. Deep.
Something fell away, dropping to the floor with a wet plop. A strip of his flesh. Marcus’ pleas and curses became inarticulate, primal. Susanna kept cutting. He felt the knife slide down his sides, his buttocks. Another plop.
One of the celebrants threw back her head and howled, a sound incongruous with a human throat. Another joined her, then another. A younger man and an old woman began to copulate, he taking her from behind, incorporating the motions into their dance. A man scrambled over on all fours, stopping at Marcus’ feet, seizing one of the strips of flesh. He tore at it with his teeth. When a second man joined him, the first snarled, pulling away.
“Now!” Susanna shouted. “Hurry!”
The room seemed to spin. Marcus’ legs gave. The ropes held him up. He watched a man jerk the lid off the plastic cooler, pull something from the ice inside. Wet, dripping. A blanket of some kind. No, an animal skin. In that instant, Marcus thought of the old bearskin rug his father had once owned. The head still attached, he remembered. It had terrified him and his brother so much they had never set foot in their father’s den, which was, he’d realized in later years, the primary reason his old man had bought the tacky thing.
The skin they handed to Susanna looked a lot like it.
She hurried over, laying it over his back. It felt cool, pleasant. A woman ran over, carrying a spool of twine and something resembling a large nail. Susanna took them and, a second following, Marcus felt a pricking sensation.
“Pretty Marcus,” Susanna said. “My pretty man.”
Over and over she pierced his skin, tugging at it. Of course. Sewing. Sewing the animal skin onto his back. EL LOBIZON. They were making a mascot. Almost funny. Marcus tried to smile.
Some time later, Susanna finished. She cut the twine with the knife, then clapped her hands, pleased with herself. An old man emptied a burlap sack at Marcus’ feet. His eyes on the floor, Marcus saw a handful of teeth—pointed, yellow, an animal’s teeth. Marcus closed his eyes. The drums played him a lullaby.
Susanna lifted his chin, kissed him, and then forced open his mouth. Her other hand held a pair of needle-nose pliers. She stuck them into his mouth.
So he would be getting new teeth as well as a new skin. Marcus no longer cared enough to protest. Let Susanna do what she wanted. He just wanted to sleep. The drums played on and he fell away, leaving all of it behind.
Marcus Vale slept. He did not dream. The dreams would come later. The nightmares.
But the nightmares would not be his alone.
Next week, chapter two!
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!