Sunday, March 29, 2009
The airport’s speakers spat information out to the waiting patrons as flights arrived and departed in the Austin Airport. Warnings about leaving bags unattended bookmarked the announcements and shite music drifted around in between. The conditioned air swirled as the din of conversations filled what little space there was left.
It was driving her crazy.
“You ok?” A man smiled at the woman next to him as she dug her nails reflexively into her knees. “Don’t like flying?” The man smiled a wide, kind smile and smoothed down his tacky, “I travel for a living” tie.
Fine, thanks. Say it, Charlotte. Just fucking say it. Speak. Get it over with.
The woman gulped and whispered, “Fine, thanks.” She didn’t smile, but felt that it would help sell the deal and get him off her. Or, make him think she was in need of conversation. She thought about it a moment, then decided to leave it there and act as if she gave a crap about the plane passing the window. She craned her neck, then checked her watch.
“To help us maintain a safe and secure environment, please keep an eye on your baggage at all times.”
Charlotte Cabbot Miller was not used to acts of kindness nor did she expect them, which was good because she never saw any. Ever. She was fine with whatever life dealt her. Except idle chit-chat from strangers. She liked strangers to remain just that - strangers.
“I’ve seen you somewhere. Sure of it, though I’m sure it sounds like a line.” He chuckled. “AH!,” he exclaimed suddenly. He slapped his knee and pointed. “Chuggin’ Monkey! That’s it.” He pointed. “I live right around there. I think I’ve seen you around there and at your apartment complex. We’re neighbors.” He chuckled.
The Chuggin’ Monkey. Neighbors. What were the odds.
Charlie ground her teeth together and mustered a smile. “Small world.” She fought against the smell of his cologne. It was thick in her nostrils and his odor made her slightly ill. She hated to think what the plane ride would be like.
“Passing through?” He turned to face her and she shivered inside.
“Yeah. Quick trip to Austin.” She crossed her legs and rested her head on her hand letting her dark tresses drop in front of her face. She closed her eyes and ended the conversation. Easy enough, she thought.
“Yup…sleep’s the best thing to combat the wait. You take care now…”
Charlie heard him shift back around in his seat and felt sleep overtake her. She had not slept since the night before and the day ahead was packed for sure. She was worn out and dizzy with sleep depravation. A little nap might do her good. Cat nap.
The last thing she remembered was the smell of barbecued meat coming from the small restaurant near the gate. It smelled delicious. So delicious. So…meaty and sweet.
Running. Chased. The smell of trees and water and animals and…
So close. She could taste it. The meat. Feel the water. The mist hitting her nose. The scent. Delicious. Close. Breathing. Closer still. A stumble and fall and she’s on him. He turns and his face his full of delicious….
Charlie awoke to the cheap travel suit man’s voice. “This is us, Miss. Better get awake.”
Charlie opened her eyes and averted her face from the man’s gaze. Just in case. She muttered a few idle words of thanks and stood and stretched her calves. Her shirt rose slightly and she caught her kind stranger peeking at her pale belly. Innocent enough, she thought. She smoothed down her skirt.
“See you later.” She nodded curtly and snatched up her bag, moving towards the gate before he had time to collect his gear or make future, on board plans with her. The sooner she was away, the better. She just wanted to be home. Home where it was safe, sound and above all away.
The flight was uneventful. She watched a movie on her laptop, but wasn’t sure what it was about after it ended. Her mind was elsewhere. Other places in Austin. Down deep. She shook her head and her hair fell around her face keeping her secluded.
She licked her lips and bolted from the plane as soon as she had a chance. She pushed past people as she moved up the gates gangway, then moved with grace and speed through the airport to the claim. Another hazard.
More avoiding the man in the cheap travel suit as she waited for her bag and more rapid movements and pushing when her bag finally cleared the shoot. She needed to be outside. Needed to feel air on her skin and in her nose. Not processed, stink filled air, but clean and fresh air.
She strode through the doors as they opened and drew in a deep, refreshing breath. Free. God, the air smelled wondrous.
“Share a cab?” The man in the cheap travel suit slipped up next to her on the sidewalk.
Dear LORD! He was here again? She needed to end this now. And never go back to the Chuggin’ Monkey ever again. She slid her hand over her head and looked at him.
“I’d like to be left alone. I’m sorry.” She blinked.
The man held up his hand and bowed his head. “Ok, sorry. We’ll part ways. I didn’t mean to bother you. Take care.” He smiled a wide, friendly smile and moved away toward the line for cabs.
Charlie watched him go, then felt a wave of sorrow pass over her. Regret drifted in around the edges. He was a nice, polite man. He could have been ok with the whole thing. Part of her life. Understanding of her unique situation. She watched the cab move off and hung her head low. “Shit,” she whispered as she snatched up her bag and slowly made her way to the cab line.
She was fooling herself. She’d never have a normal relationship. Who could be in a relationship with a werewolf?
Charlie woke up the next day and made her way to the window to see what the day had in store for her. The sun was bright and the sky was blue. It was lovely and she made up her mind to venture out and take part in the beauty of the day. She scratched her thigh through the sweats she wore and let her mind wander as she stared into the blue water in the far off ocean.
How had she made it this far alone in this world being what she was? She was amazed. Years of hiding and hunting on her own. Making her way through life with this affliction. This sorrow. He brought her hands up to her face and touched it softly. The change would come suddenly at times and slowly at others. Was she mad? Insane?
She dropped her hands to her belly and up to her ribs. Below the skin, the bon would shift and change. Grow and crack and alter her. She felt the bone below the flesh, then dragged her nails over the skin that would grow hair and go from pale to dark as the transformation took place.
Her tongue drifted over the teeth in her mouth that would grow and go canine. Long for the rip of flesh and meat of the kill. Had she managed to keep the kills to animals? To the sad pets of the city that would give their lives so the cities inhabitants could keep theirs?
Something chimed in her head as her hands dropped to her sides. She was hungry now.
The chime again. The door bell.
Charlie snapped her head away from the window and made her way to the front door of the small apartment.
Charlie smiled a brief smile and turned the lock and slipped the chain free. She hadn’t seen her neighbor in ages. She swung the door open. “Hi.” This was the one person she enjoyed seeing.
“Hey there. Did I miss coffee?” Mark smiled.
“Nope. Just making it. Come in.” Charlie swung the door open and Mark made his way inside. He looked sickly and ill, like always. Charlie latched the door and bolted it again, then moved with him back towards the kitchen.
“How was the trip?”
“Ok.” Charlie filled the pot with water, dropped it onto the stove, and brought the burner to life. “People...you know?” she shivered slightly.
“And any...incidents?” Mark pulled out the kitchen chair and took a seat. He was the only one who knew her secret. The only one that could understand. The disease that ravaged his body filled people with fear as well. They avoided him. They wanted to avoid him and contact with him.
“One.” Charlie took a seat and peered at him through her hair.
Mark nodded and snuck a look at her when she turned her head. The thin shirt. The low slung sweat pants. The lithe body beneath. “Did anyone see you?”
She shook her head no. “I managed to avoid that.”
“Good.” Mark smiled. “I’ve done more research here. I have some things we can try.” Things that will involve you being naked, of course.
To Charlie, he was Mark. the good friend. The secret keeper. But Mark knew the real story.
Mark the cad. The lecherous user. He had lied about so many things. Over the course of their relationship, he had lied about being ill, lied about trying to help Charlie, and above all, he had lied about believing her to be a werewolf. She was just another hot goth girl with serious mental issues and a need to be different. But, that was ok. Mark liked coming up with possible cures for her that involved him “helping” her cure this lycanthropy - naked for his pleasure. She would allow him access to her when he wanted to try anything that he could convince her would cure her. Take away her wolf side.
What a nut job. He watched her get up to get the coffee made and leered at her bare hips and nipples. A beautiful nut job.
“There was a guy in the airport. He knew me from the Monkey. But, I avoided him.”
“Good. We don’t need people getting involved. We’re too close to making you better.” Mark sniffed the air. Something smelled stale. “I found some passages from a Greek text. I think they might work if the moon phase is right.
Charlie smiled back to him. “Really?” Her voice was full of hope.
“I hope so. We can try tonight. I just need to find some roses and other things. We’ll create a paste and apply it to your skin. then, we can see if the incantation will work.
“Mark...what would I do without you?” She wanted to cry. She moved to him and hugged him tightly.
Mark wrapped his hands around her and pressed his face into her breasts. Oh yes, this was just fine. “We need to get you better.”
She leaned back up and wiped her eyes. “Thank you. You’re the only one who’s helped me.” She turned and poured the water into the French Press coffee maker.
Mark bit his bottom lip and stared at her backside. He’d help her alright. “Ted and Jessica and still away. It’s just us in the complex until tomorrow. I’ll get the supplies today and we can try tonight. Ok?”
“Please,” she said with a sad smile. “I need to be...normal.”
“You’ll never be normal, crazy girl,” Mark thought.
That night, Mark arrived with his fake cure. He had Charlie lower the lights and light candles. Charlie closed the curtains and slipped out of her clothes. She let them fall to the floor without care.
“Where do you want me?” She stood before him naked as the day she was born.
Mark held back a giggle. This was the best part of his week. He pretended to think, taking I her naked form. “Let’s see....” He stared at her form and took it all in. “We’ll put you here.” He pulled the sofa out a bit and patted it lightly. “Right here.” He acted as if he wasn’t interested as she made her way to the sofa ad laid back. He flipped through his faked notes and jumbled fake words, then pulled the rose oil he’d purchased earlier in the day out from his bag.
“Is that the potion?” Charlie’s voice was small.
“This is it.” He smirked. Potion. Mark poured some into his hands and started to rub it over Charlie’s pale skin.
“It smells good, Charlie whispered as she closed her dark eyes and relaxed.
“I need t put it...all over.” Mark’s heart was beating. “All over you, nutty werewolf girl. All over here....and here...and here...” His hands explored her everywhere. Oil was applied liberally - ten dollars well spent, in his mind. He slid his hands over her and apologized when his hand slid between her legs.
Mark took his time and wondered if the other part of his plan was going to work as well as this had. Everything else in the past had, so he had high hopes.
Charlie lay still. Her eyes were closed and her dark hair fanned out around her head. Her chest rose and fell as she breathed deeply.
“Ok...now, the uncomfortable part.” Mark snapped the cap closed on the oil. His hands tingled from the twenty minutes of rubbing and his groin tingled from seeing Charlie oiled and glistening before him. “To reach your animal side, we need to make love as the incantation is being read. I’m sorry, but it’s the only way.”
Charlie whispered, “The only way.”
Mark nodded. “Yes.”
“Scumbag.” Charlie’s eyes remained closed and her breathing remained steady.
Mark swallowed hard. “What?” Mark cursed himself. He knew this was pushing it. He thought it was a good run, though. It looked like he was going to loose this special relationship with this little crazy werewolf girl.
“I said that you were a scumbag.” Charlie’s eyes opened and Mark gasped and stumbled backwards and away from the sofa. Charlie’s eyes were icy blue with dark pupils. They seemed to glow in the half light. “Magical oils and incantations.” She sat up and Mark stumbled back.
“I was trying to help.” Mark’s voice shook with fear. “I was just trying to help!” He turned and bolted for the door, but Charlie was on him before he took three steps. He felt her small hands on his shoulders, then felt his feet leave the floor as he was lifted and tossed through the air and back into the room.
He sailed gracefully though the air and into the closet landing with a thud and a pop.
“Helping me.” Charlie’s voice was a low growl. “My friend.”
Mark tried to stand, but was stopped by the fire shooting through his leg. He gripped it and felt the bone that had broken and torn through the skin. “JESUS!” He whimpered and shivered as shock slipped over him.
Charlie laughed and rolled her head on her shoulders. The candles flickered and long shadows danced over the walls. She wiggled her fingers and they seemed to grow. Mark though it was a trick of the light.
The stale smell filled his nostrils. He caught sight of the body a moment later. A man lay next to him in the closet. He wore a cheap, travel suit and his neck was a ripped open mass of torn flesh. Parts of him had been chewed through. Bone shone through skin and the look of terror was frozen on his face.
Mark gagged, then screamed for help and shoved back away from the body.
“He was persistent, that one.” Charlie arched her back and bones popped and cracked as she took another step forward. “Saw me walking to the apartment and just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I simply had to have him over for a snack.” Her limbs seemed to grow longer.
Mark watched as dark hair slithered from Charlie’s pours. His eyes went wide as her mouth stretched and crackled and her nose pushed forward and out. Out like a wolf muzzle.
Charlie smiled a wide, grotesque smile and sharp teeth glistened in the darkness. She was a monster. Strong arms reached out for Mark and claw tipped fingers bit into the skin of his chest. Broad shoulders blocked the candlelight and the hair that framed the terrible face hung into his eyes.
Mark cried out for help that would never come.
The smell of the ocean air on Charlie’s clothes made her happy. She’d spent the day cleaning and dropping some things off there in the ocean water and the exercise had done wonders for her outlook. She thought back on the bags of Mark and the cheap suit spinning from her strong grip. The arch of their decent into the ocean below. How they sank into the cold water - the rocks within them dragging them below the surface and out of sight. The afternoon was a dreaming drift of sun and wind and the ocean. She’d even managed to fine time to read a book.
She had waved at Ted and Jessica from her chair in the sun as they made their way out to coffee, but had turned down their offer to join them. She’d had enough human interaction for one week.