Friday, November 9, 2018
BAD MOON RISING
BAD MOON RISING
By Daniel Skye
Peter Morganti stepped out outside and drew a deep breath as he surveyed the vast, unyielding woodlands that enveloped the secluded cabin. The location had all the makings of a B-rated horror flick. The cabin was deep in the woods, and with the exception of a few other occupied cabins that were spaced out within the area, there was nobody else around. No internet service, and no cell phone reception, either. No way to call for help, if necessary.
Sunset had ushered in a gloomy, dismal twilight. Soon, night would creep in and the darkness would swallow everything whole.
Amanda joined him outside on the porch and observed Peter the way he observed his surroundings. He was a tall, lean man with short dark hair and green eyes; steady eyes that captured everything around him.
“Dead quiet,” she observed. “You could hear a pin drop.”
As a writer, Peter was not fond of clichés, but it was an apt description. You really could hear a pin drop, he thought. Hell, you could probably hear a rat pissing on cotton half a mile away. Peter chuckled silently at the thought. He’d have to write that one down.
It was his writing that had made him invest in the cabin. A change of scenery and the calm, quiet reserve of nature was usually what the doctor ordered when Peter settled down to work on his first draft. Though he never could quite get adjusted to the serene settings. He was a city boy, born and raised. And even after he left the city and settled down in the suburbs, the noise never ceased.
He was accustomed to all the noise and traffic and congestion. Every morning he awoke to a symphony of lawnmowers. Every night he’d go to sleep to the sounds of sirens and the rumbling of passing trains. He couldn’t tell if this was paradise or the opposite. It was so eerily quiet, he could hear the steady beating of his own heart.
This place reminded him of a story his father used to tell. An urban legend that he would share when they went camping or fishing.
The Woodsman. Not exactly the kind of name that inspires fear or leaves one shaking in their shoes. But it was the way his father told it that really got under his skin.
The Woodsman was a lumberjack who returned to his cabin early one particular afternoon and caught his wife in bed with another man. To make matters worse, the man happened to be his best friend. The sight of them together drove The Woodsman over the edge. He took his axe and he hacked away at his unfaithful wife and his former friend. Something in his mind snapped that day. And he never recovered.
He retreated into the woods and disappeared, along with his axe. His father described the axe as an additional appendage. It never left The Woodsman side. And of course, he didn’t truly disappear. The axe-wielding maniac roamed the woods late at night, looking for campers or lost hikers to chop up into coleslaw.
The Woodsman was merciless. And he showed no prejudice. Men, women, even children were fair game. That morbid little detail used to send shivers down Peter’s eight-year-old spine.
Maybe it was those tales of madness and macabre that molded Peter into a writer. Or maybe it was his knack for telling them. He was a natural storyteller. But he was also his own worst critic. Then again, aren’t all writers?
“Shouldn’t you be working?” Amanda chided, playfully. “Before it gets late,” she added.
“No good ideas,” he confessed. “I’ve got plenty of ideas, but nothing interesting. I feel like Nicholson in the Shining.”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
He wagged his index finger. “Redrum, Redrum.”
They shared a laugh that carried over the tall, dense trees and echoed through the woods. It was getting darker by the minute.
“It’s going to be a full moon tonight,” Amanda said.
“Perhaps I’ll put my writing off until the morning.”
“Perhaps?” she said, as if there was some choice in the matter.
Darkness slithered in, slowly engulfing their surroundings. Peter stood under the awning of the porch, avoiding the glare of the moonlight.
The dark obscured their vision, but didn’t affect their sense of sound. Though, Peter wished it had. He heard the boots shuffling through the woods, twigs snapping and dry leaves crunching underfoot. The razor-sharp head of the axe glistened under the bright beam of the moon.
The Woodsman, he gasped. Amanda saw him lumbering towards the cabin and raised one hand to her mouth to stifle a scream.
“Knock, knock,” a voice echoed through the trees. A voice of sheer malevolence. “Anybody home?”
A low, guttural sound emanated from the woods–a cross between a growl and a snarl. A sound that made even the axe-wielding psychopath quake with fear. Someone–or rather, something–came running full-speed through the tree line. He could only make out parts of it, sections.
Whoever–or whatever–it was, it was more beast than man. It had hair; thick, glossy, blood-matted hair. And claws. And teeth. Dear God, the teeth. Those jagged teeth seized the would-be Woodman by his calf and dragged him off screaming like a child.
And when it was done tearing him to pieces, it returned to the cabin. Its short, wet snout twinkled in the moonlight. Its low growl still echoed through the woods. It bared its jagged, razor-sharp teeth at Peter, as if signaling him out, challenging him.
Challenge accepted, Peter thought.
Amanda ran inside and locked herself in at Peter’s behest. He stepped out and let the moonlight consume him. His nose and mouth evolved, producing a hideous wet snout. Claws protruded from his fingertips. His teeth grew longer and sharper, his flesh turned to fur.
He hadn’t come all the way out there just to write.
He came out there to hunt.