An Unexpected Stop

By Robert L. Jennings

It was almost midnight when Roland pulled through the small town of Ripley. He would be late tomorrow, and he knew it, could feel it. Instinctively he pressed the accelerator just a bit harder. He needed this job, when the man on the phone had asked him if he could make Denver in a week he had assured him that it wouldn't be a problem.

The problem however was that his car didn't seem to like long trips very much. It had already died on him three times since he left his old home town in New York. But his expertise in working on machines, kept him chugging along. But the last time was different. He had needed a new alternator, and the small nowhere town it died in could not order one for two days.

Frowning he pushed his car a little harder. But his old Lincoln didn't like to be pushed, and it sputtered to a halt. "Damn it" he shouted. "You pile of crap, I'll drop you off in the next junkyard I come across if you make me late again." He sighed, he was already far to late as it was. His interview was ten o'clock the next day. And he was still over a day away.

He reached up under the dash and pulled the hood open. With another groan, he pulled himself from behind the seat, and stepped onto the old broken up asphalt. "God Damn small hick towns. Not even a street light to help me see my hand in front of my face". He walked around to the trunk, and after a few attempts, managed to get the key into the lock. The large lid opened with a groan. He fumbled around inside until he found what he was looking for.

The flashlight lit up as soon as he pushed the button. Not as bright as he had hoped, but still better than nothing. He walked in front of the old car and opened the hood. He was greeted with a billow of steam when the old hood latch surrendered at last.

When the steam had passed, he saw the problem. A split hose. "Well you did it to me again car." Some people named their cars, not Roland, to him this pile of crap didn't deserve a name. He had hoped to buy a new one when he got the job, but it seems he wasn't destined to succeed in anything but failing. "And working on you, you old junk heap" he mused.

He then focused his attention to his surroundings. It was a very small town, he was right in the center. But it wasn't much of a center. One store, one gas pump, no street lights, and three or four run down homes near by. Not much hope of finding a radiator hose, probably as much luck finding a phone.

He marched slowly to the store, he hoped to find a pay phone, and a telephone book. "May have to hitch to the next town to find a hose", he thought. "Williams Corner Store" the sign read as he approached the store. He paused, and looked around. One road, no corner. "Stupid Hicks", he muttered and continued on his short trek.

Disappointed, he looked around. "Of course, no phone, why would my luck change." He sat on the old bench in front of the store and lit a cigarette. "I'll have to sleep in my car" he thought "then use a phone tomorrow, call Landers, hopefully he'll give me some more time, and then get out of this dump of a town.

He had finished his cigarette, and was almost to his car, when he heard a slight rustling in the bushes on the opposite side of the road. He pointed his flashlight towards the sound, but only saw a pile of old weeds and brush. "Probably a cat" he thought. He was about to finish walking to the car, when he heard it again. But this time on the opposite side of the road.

"How in the hell did it get in front of me?" he wondered. "Must be two of them" he concluded, "Two cats in heat. At least they're enjoying tonight, Me I get to sleep with you." He of course meant his car. He climbed slowly behind the drivers seat, and tried to make himself comfortable.

After a while, he noticed one of the old houses had a light on, not a bright light, but a light none the less. "A phone" was all he could think of. After he rehearsed what he would tell the owner when he got to the door, he again stepped out of the car. After grabbing his flashlight he shut the door, and headed on his way.

He heard the rusting once more, but paid it little mind. Soon he found himself at the driveway, and afforded a look around. Old house, white, or at least it was at one point in time, most of the paint had flaked off. There was an old porch, and an equally old door. Parked in the driveway was several old rusted vehicles. Some of them had probably not seen the road in a long time. And only one had a license plate. He debated on weather or not going to the door. One look at his uncomfortable car was all it took.

The old steps creaked with his weight, but were remarkably sturdy. He was so busy admiring the architecture that he did not notice the sounds closing in behind him. He knocked twice loudly. A large paint chip fell and hit him on the head. He quickly brushed it off, not wanting to upset the owner of the house when he opened the door. If he opened the door. After a few moments of silence, he knocked again. "Maybe he's asleep" he wondered.

Suddenly he heard a loud scream behind him. He swung around quickly, to see the source of the noise. But nothing could be seen. He backed up against the door, flashlight wildly darting, as if to try to keep the oncoming darkness away. He knocked again, this time with more vigor. A paint chip hit his head again, but this time it wasn't when he knocked. He looked up in time to see a large shape jump down on him.

He was knocked to the floor of the old porch with such force, that it almost knocked that wind out of him. Instinctively, he swung out, and his heavy old flashlight made contact with his attacker, in the brief moment before it fled, he could glimpse allot of brown hair, and two gleaming red eyes. He quickly pulled himself to his feet and ran to the door. He twisted the doorknob like a madman, and it opened.

Once inside, he slammed the door shut, and held his weight against it. He managed to regain enough composure to find the lock, and tightly secure it. What was it that had attacked him? He only saw it for the briefest of seconds. The shape was human, he had figured that out when he saw it jump from the roof. But the hair, or was it fur? "Must be a bear", he finally concluded, he didn't know if bears were normal to this area, but he felt that he found a reasonable explanation.

Now, to find the owner of the house, so he wouldn't get shot for trespassing. "Hello" he called, "Is anyone here? I'm in your house, I think I just got attacked by a bear or something. Can I use your phone?" No answer. He started to walk to the light, it was coming from the next room over, that was what he had seen from his car.

Eagerly he peered into the room. No one was in it, just an old coleman lantern was burning. He was about to step in when he noticed the window. It was busted open. His first thoughts were of what attacked him outside, had it made it in? He looked more closely at it........ no, it was busted out, not in. Whatever had made it had went out, and not in. Still he did not want to go into a room with such an obvious way in, "Maybe you hillbillies know how to live near animals, but I'm a city boy, I'll stay as far away as I can thank you".

He moved back into the main room, his eyes now adjusted to the dim light from the other room he could now make out more of his surroundings. An old faded sofa, a small table with a few aged photos on it, and a gun rack in the corner. The photo of the old man gave him the creeps, his eyes looked as if they could see out of the image. He looked longingly at the guns, and thought for a moment to take one, but at long last decided it wouldn't be worth the hassle of explaining it to the owner. Besides, they would have more experience with them, and of better use against the bear.

The next room was dark and foul smelling. His flashlight prodded all four corners, and all it found was a broken chain, a rusted yellow key, sitting in the middle of the room.

He moved to the back of the house, still calling out to see if someone was there. But as he approached the kitchen, he heard a crash from the room with the light. He ran back to the middle room, and there it was. Standing in the doorway, large as life, was a werewolf or the hairiest man he had ever seen. It was his first good look at it, the fur was brown, and the tattered remains of clothing still adorned some of its body. The head resembled that of a wolf, long snout, pointed ears, and the reddest eyes he had ever seen. An iron shackle was attached to one arm, and the broken link signified that it had escaped. He dove for the guns, it dove for him. Pain, like fire in his leg, it had grabbed him, and was pulling him across the floor.

He flailed about wildly, kicking and hitting the thing that was attacking. It ripped at his legs, the long nails on its hands, shredding the calf of Ronalds leg. The large mouth bit into his leg. Roland screamed in pain. He would be done for , unless.......THE GUN. He made a last ditch attempt for the weapons, and out of shear luck, managed to pull one free.

He lined up the barrel at the things head. Glaring red eyes met his. The long muzzle pulled back, showing rows of long, angry teeth "Please god let it be loaded" The loud boom signified that it was, and the beast man was flung from on top of him, and lay thrashing on the floor. Ronald pulled himself to his feet, and scrambled for the door. Locked, he looked back to the monster, it looked less hairy now. And the thrashing was slowing down.

He braced himself against the door, still unsteady from the attack. Before his eyes, the monster was becoming a man, an old man, a man who looked like, the photos. This was his house. That was why it attacked, the old man was a werewolf, and had broken out of the house, broken free of the chains. Obviously he knew what he was, and had tried to keep himself from hurting anyone. Roland finally opened the door and stepped out. He dropped the gun, and made his way, limping to his car.

He had managed to rig up his car, tying a part of his torn clothing around the hose, and was on his way. He didn't need to be around when the police arrived and found a seemingly helpless old man, dead by his hands. That was three years ago, and Roland still gets a chill when he thinks of it, of course allot has changed. Three days out of the month, he found himself chained in his basement, baying at the moon. Even though the myth was wrong about the silver bullet, it was right about how you become one.

The End

Copyright © 2003 by Robert L. Jennings



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