|The Transformation Story Archive||With Fur and Claws...|
Bite the Bullet
Shadows danced across the old woman's crinkled face in the firelight. Her white hair trembled in the breeze, translucent like fragile spiderwebs. The woman's mouth dropped open, revealing silver teeth. She looked ghastly in the flames of the campfire. Actually, she would have looked pretty damned bad in broad daylight, the man thought.
"Even a good man who says his prayers every night can become a werewolf," the crone gasped.
"I know that!" the man sobbed. "That's why I came here! Please, can't you do anything for me?"
"How long have you been cursed?" the gypsy's English was strongly accented, but very fluent.
"Half a year. A little more. Seven times. Seven moons, that's how I count now..." The man began turned and shook uncontrollably.
"You're really a wimp!" the woman spat. "I cannot help you, I'm sorry. I only have one thing for werewolves. What is in this flask can make you keep your mind when the moon is full, but the price is too high. Much, much too high..." She raised a clear, glass bottle in her wrinkled, clawlike hand.
The wild-eyed man leapt forward and snatched the bottle. "I don't give a damn about the price! I'll do anything!
Don't you understand?" he screamed.
The woman cackled. "Of course I understand! You don't understand. If you gotta steal the bottle from me, at least take too." She threw a small object in front of the man. It was shiny, he could see it in the faint light, glittering.
He bent and picked it up. His hand burned. He swore as he dropped it. He squinted in the dim light. The object was smooth, brightly polished. It was silver. A bullet. "What in the hell is this for?"
"Please. Take it. You don't have to use it, just take it, thief. If the price is too high, then you use it." She shuddered.
"But what is the price? Tell me!"
"I will not. You have stolen. You can use the potion or not, I don't care. But if the price is too high, then I've given you another cure. That's all I can do. The rest is up to you."
"Listen, you shriveled, old bitch. I killed seven people! Don't you get that? I turn into an animal and then I kill people!" He pulled a gun from his pocket. "I want to be dead! I would shoot myself, but I understand I can't even blow my own brains out! If I die when I'm a man, I'll be the beast forever!"
"The silver bullet is the cure for that. Use that and you will really be dead. Forever and always..."
"But I don't want to die! I didn't do anything for this to happen to me!" He threw the gun into the bushes.
"Who does? You were bitten by one. You survived. So now you are one. It happens, once in awhile. Not too often. Not many live." The woman shrugged.
"Just tell me how to use this!" He shook the bottle. "Have you no mercy?"
"I do. That's why I gave you the bullet. Now go. Before I do something worse." She reached behind and pulled out a crossbow, whipping it forward and pointing it at the man. The tip of the arrow glinted silver. "By the way, you just drink it. That's all you have to do." She squinted and aimed at the man.
"Um, I guess I'd better go now. Thanks for the potion, or whatever. And the bullet. I'll cherish it always..." He slowly drew a handkerchief from his pocket and gingerly plucked the glinting object from the ground. He backed away, shoving the bullet into his pocket. "Please, I beg you, won't you help me?"
"I'll think about it. Now go."
The man turned and ran into to the woods.
The old woman dipped a twig into the fire, then raised it, lighting her hand-rolled cigarette. "Poor, dumb bastard," she cackled. She exhaled a puff of smoke toward the fire. The smoke whirled and vanished into the night sky.
The disheveled man huddled in his hotel room. He hugged the bottle. Tonight was the night. The full moon. He had stayed here for more than two weeks waiting. Waiting for the moon. Now it was here.
The man staggered from the bed. He had been drinking heavily. He threw back the curtains, screaming, "O thou incontinent moon, why doest thou shit upon me?" He had flunked freshman English in college, but still, that didn't
seem right. He emptied the bottle he was clutching. The whiskey it contained did not help. He stared at the other bottle. That damned bottle.
The sun began to set. The man sobbed, then grabbed the bottle and chugged it. The moonlight flooded into the room.
Pain. Intense pain. Then... He looked up. Into the mirror. He was a beast. But he knew he was a beast. He had his mind. It worked. The potion worked. He stared. He snarled. He moved his head back and forth. It was him. He truly looked like this now.
A series of staccato knocks on his door shattered the silence. "Go away!" he rasped. He was not certain before this that he could still speak.
"Open up, Mr. Evans. Don't worry, I have a pretty good idea what you look like."
"Who are you?" he snarled.
"Luba the gypsy. You should have really good hearing now. Can't you recognize my voice?"
The beast shambled to the door and fumbled with the knob clumsily. He finally managed to open it. "Come in," he growled. Literally.
The ancient woman shuffled into the room, slamming the door behind her. "Jesus, you are one hell of a sight. Don't shed all over the place. This place is a pig sty anyway."
"Why are you here?" The animal's eyes widened.
"I knew you'd take the potion. Hell, I wouldn't be here otherwise. You'd kill me. But I was sure you'd take it, so I came. I thought you might want to know the price now. The price of the potion. It's worse than you could imagine."
"Ask what you will, witch. I'll gladly pay it. Even my soul."
"What, you think I'm the devil or something? I'm not. No, the price of the potion is the potion itself. Don't you even know what it does? You have a mind now. You have your mind when you are the beast. But when the moon goes down and you turn back into a man, then you have the mind of the beast. It's a trade."
"What? You mean I'll be insane and homicidal? Forever?"
"No, when the moon is full, three nights per month, you will be as you are now. It's a good trade. You cannot kill so many people as a man. They will beat you up and throw you into a loony bin or something. So you probably won't kill anybody."
"Now I am damned. I've lost my humanity. I've lost everything..."
"There is another way. Use the bullet. The one I gave you."
"What? Kill myself?"
"Sure. It's easy. Just shoot yourself with the silver bullet. You can do it."
"No, I can't. I don't have a gun."
"Well, you don't have to shoot yourself. Take the bullet as a suppository. I looked that word up. It means shove it up your ass. Or swallow it. That would work, too. If you were a woman, I could give you yet another option."
"No! You ugly, old bitch. There has to be another way!"
The gypsy sighed. "There's another way. But it's worse than what I've told you." She reached into the wildly quilted bag hanging from her shoulder and withdrew a gun. "I have this. I could shoot you. Do you want that?"
"What? You think I'm just too much of a coward to do it myself? That's not it. Dammit, I want to live! But how can I live if I know I kill people? I just want a choice, any choice, where I don't kill anybody."
"Hey, this is your gun. The one you threw away. There are normal bullets in this gun. Not silver ones."
"If you are killed as a man, then you become the beast forever. That's what I'm offering."
"You mean you'd shoot me and I'd be like this forever?"
"Yes. I would have to wait until dawn, when you change back. Then I'd shoot you and you would be as you are now. Forever."
The beast panted, then slunk into a nearby armchair. "Do it."
The old woman merely nodded.
They both waited. Waiting for the sun to rise. Neither said another word for many hours. A faint glow began in the east. The woman cocked the gun and pointed it, closing one eye.
Bite the Bullet copyright 2001 by Paul Exton.
|<< Basketball||Blew Knight >>|