BY PATRIC QUINN
These two stories were previously publsiehd on Short-Story.Me. Copyright is held by the author.
Nothing to Howl About
I STOOD on the back lawn gazing up at the starless night sky. The only light was the thin white crescent of the new moon. In a few days, nights, it would be another full moon. Would it be another painful failure for me? My mood slipped into darkness like the night. The cool air nipped at me and made me uncomfortable with my thoughts.
Vanessa would call me soon. This time of the month she seemed to watch me more closely. Her voice was low and seductive even when she called to me. And she was still beautiful after all this time. But I’d have to get the courage to ask her one of these days why she didn’t show me her consuming passion like she once did.
“Harold.” Vanessa’s throaty call sounded like a purr right next to me. And so exciting. I wish I had a name that matched her purr, like Roger or Bentley or….ah, well.
“What is it, Vanessa?”
“Why do you always go outside and look at the night, Harold?”
“You know why, Vanessa. In a few days it will be another full moon, again.”
She was indeed beautiful and alluring and seductive and, because she stopped responding to me, infuriating. Standing in the soft light of the living room, wearing a sheer, very sheer, black gown, I could see her right through the soft folds. An open robe that didn’t do much to cover anything else draped from her shoulders down to the floor over lovely curved hips and long legs. The deep V of the gown revealed an expansive length of her from the shiny, smooth black hair, high cheekbones under slightly slanted eyes, glittering very red lips, long white throat and the milky excitement flowing to the loose drape of a nearly invisible fold under her navel.
She was enough to drive a man mad. The curve of her breasts led my eyes under the gown as if there were no gown. Every detail of her down to her black strap mules with the six-inch spiked heels taunted and tempted me. She was a muted, elusive dream.
“You know, Vanessa—”
“Forget it, Harold.” That throaty voice!
“It’s not going to happen, Harold. You know what’s been happening to you. You know, but refuse to admit it.” Even when she reminded me again of my failures her amazing eyes set me smoldering. “I used to like cuddling up to you when you’d get all furry. More than cuddle. I couldn’t keep my hands off of you, but no more.”
I still felt the same passion for her. “But I still feel that way about you. In my eyes you haven’t changed a bit.”
“But you have, Harold. Frankly, I’m afraid it’s time to tell you, you’re getting old.” Pow! Just like that! “You used to be something to see….and hear…when the moon reached full. All that cozy hair to run my fingers through, that throaty growl and your bloodcurdling howl. It wasn’t my duty, but you were irresistible.”
“So, some little things change, Vanessa. You’re older, too. You’re still . . .”
“Harold, I’m a succubus. I don’t get old. My job is to seduce good guys and, these days, good girls to do evil things and get them damned for them. It’s an endless act that I’m good at. And it’s in my job description that I don’t get old. I’m forever.”
“And I’m not?” The impact of what she was saying was beginning to creep through my delusions.
“No, Harold, you’re not. You can see it happening every full moon. Worse every full moon. You’re practically bald in the full moon. No furry handfuls of hair. Almost down to the skin. Yuk! And that squeak you call a howl. You used to announce terror in the night, but, now . . .”
“But I still go out stalking—”
“Like the girl you chased in the park last month . . . and got all tripped up in your walker. You can’t lope after people when you’re trying to in a walker, Harold. You can’t even terrify them if you’re hobbling after them in a walker.”
This was really annoying. Very bad for my ego. I used to be a world class werewolf, but there was no denying that the park incident happened. Embarrassing.
“And the girl even felt sorry for you. Your victim came back and helped you get untangled from the walker and sat you on the bench.”
Now that’s humiliating for a werewolf, for any bad guy, but so much more for a werewolf. “So, is that it for me, Vanessa? An old, squeaky, stumbling, bald, pitiful shadow of a fearsome werewolf?”
“I’d say so, Harold. When the moon turns full, I’d just stay here and hang out. Remember the good times. The furry hair coming out, the chases, the attacks, the terror, and the howls, Harold, those terrifying howls.”
There was a touch of emotion in her sexy voice. I didn’t know what to think of that. Emotion was not her shtick, she was a cold, calculating succubus. Even if she was hot bodied. What now? I was kind of at loose ends if I couldn’t be a werewolf anymore.
“I think I’ll go over and see Vlad. He should be up by now. It’s after sundown.”
“Harold, don’t pour your troubles all over the Count. He’s got his own troubles.”
“He’s getting old, too. He went to see the mad doctor of Fleet Street. The doctor pulled some teeth, but the Count is worried because he can’t see what the doctor did to him.”
“He can look in the mirror,” I said. “That’s pretty obvious.”
“He’s a vampire, Harold. You know that! Vampires don’t reflect in mirrors.”
“Well, then, what happened last night?”
“He was afraid to go out. He thought he might be gumming his victim and making a mess of his attack. He’s starving over there.”
I didn’t want to talk anymore about what happens to old monsters. It was all too, too depressing. Old age has no bite. A succubus I could only look at? A silver bullet? A wooden stake through the heart? It’s really nothing to howl about.
The Return of the Naked Werewolf
VLAD SAT up with a sigh, his white fingers folding over the edge of his coffin, and stared at Harold. “Do you know what time it is, Harold? The sun just went down. You know, at my age, our age, I don’t jump the minute the day is gone.”
Harold shifted between edgy and embarrassed. “Yeah, yeah, I know, Vlad, but tonight is another full moon. And I get itchy, my skin does, because I don’t spring that thick fur anymore. Who ever heard of a naked werewolf?”
“You don’t howl anymore either.”
“Or sprout those killer fangs.” Harold looked so disheartened Vlad felt sorry for him even though ‘sorry’ wasn’t in a vampire’s stock of feelings.
“When the moon turns full I get this terrible urge to be out preying on victims.”
“You tried that already, Harold. You can’t chase victims using a walker.”
“I’ve been practicing with a cane.”
“That’s not much better. We both have to face the changes that come our way. Look at me.”
“What about you?”
“Are you losing your memory, too?” said Vlad, his comment short and sharp. “Oh, I’m sorry, Harold. I didn’t mean to bite your head off. But I told you about the mad doctor over on Fleet Street. The dentist?”
“What about him? I know you went to him.”
“A dentist, Harold,” he said impatiently. “He works on teeth. My teeth are important to me. What good is a vampire without his teeth!?”
“But he fixed them.”
“No! No! He ruined them or half ruined them anyway. I had a cavity in one of the crucial teeth and he was supposed to fill it, but he drilled the wrong cavity all out and filled up my collection system all the way up through the tooth. Solid! It won’t suck anymore.”
Harold looked at him, trying to take in the import. Vlad had, indeed, told him this before, but Harold had been thinking of his own problems. “So, where are you at now, Vlad?”
“Pretty hard up, I’ll tell you. Only one tooth sucks in blood. Get it? That means I have to get two victims for a full load. At our age? Do you have any idea how tough it is to get two victims in one night? It was like you trying to attack that young girl in the park and getting tangled up in your walker. And the real cavity still hurts.”
“Yeah, that walker thing was embarrassing. Especially, when she came back and helped me up on the park bench. But I’m trying a cane now. I can move faster.”
“Can you howl?”
“No howl. Maybe a little growl.”
“Are you horrifying?”
“My bones stretch a little and get a little out of shape . . . like some monster.”
“All just a little,” said Vlad in summation. “And you don’t sprout thick, wild fur either?”
“And you want me to go with you tonight?”
Harold nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, we can go together. You’ll be slow, too.”
“And you? A little bent with the full moon, no howl, no fangs, no fur, no lope. And naked. And a cane? You’ll make a hell of a fearsome werewolf, Harold.” Vlad smirked. “Maybe some new kind of monster?”
“Don’t make fun, Vlad.”
“If someone sees us out, they’ll think I’m walking my dog . . . or walking something.”
Harold wasn’t happy with Vlad’s sarcasm, but was happy to be out under the full moon. He felt stirrings of old feelings as they walked. The vast park was like another country with the tops of tall buildings overlooking its distant borders. The moon made most things visible in this darkest part of the night. Harold saw the movement of something white in the distance, but coming toward them. He watched until he was sure it was a human. “Do you mind if I take this one, Vlad?”
Vlad sighed as he stared across the moonlit park at the figure. “Looks like a nurse. In the white uniform. Just getting off duty or going on. Okay, she’s your victim,” he said and with a whoosh turned into a bat and skimmed away into the trees.
Harold watched her come closer and tried a howl at the moon to terrify her, but only the driest croak squeezed out of his throat. He stumbled through the shadows of the trees to pursue his attack, but his bent werewolf legs ached and tripped him up. He probed with his cane to stay upright even to move slowly after his victim. And it was ‘after’! He had been so slow going after her that she had passed. She seemed to glance into the darkness in passing as if she heard him stumbling around in the trees. And then she was too far ahead for him to hobble fast enough to bring her down. And then she was gone.
Harold stood in the shadow of the trees dazed and disconsolate with his failure. No victim, no claws, no fangs, no howl, no fur. No horror.
A whoosh in the darkness and Vlad was standing in front of him. Vlad didn’t need to say anything, he could see the failure in Harold’s slumped figure and downcast eyes.
“Harold, snap out of it. I see a cop coming along the walk. Just strolling his rounds, but he can’t see you like that.”
“With no clothes. I’m sure he’s never seen a naked werewolf before, but he won’t care about the werewolf, he will care about the naked you. Here, take my cloak. It’s long enough and will cover you from top to bottom. Well, to your ankles anyway. Maybe we can get away with that.”
“But what about how you’re dressed? Are you going to be in your underwear?”
Vlad smiled. “No, my friend. Vampires always wear crisp, spiffy tuxedos under their big black capes.”
Then, Harold smiled. “And you better wipe that blood off your chin”
They strolled past the policeman, nodded, said “Good evening, officer.” Harold was a bit wobbly, bare-pawed and leaning on his cane, but they were so polite the cop just tipped his club to his cap and nodded as they passed.
“So?” said Vlad.
“So. Nothing. She got away.”
“Too fast for you?”
“I can’t fly like you.”
“I’ve only got half a bite. Tonight I’m only halfway there.”
“So, where do I find victims? Maybe senior citizens? Like me.” Harold croaked what was left of his howl. “Would they be slow enough? And where would I ever find senior citizen victims in the middle of the night? All wrinkled . . . not very juicy either.”
“I have to go find the other half of my night. You . . . ?”
“Yeah, I go home. Failed again.” Harold looked devastated. “What am I going to do, Vlad?”
Vlad shrugged. “Maybe you should start writing your memoirs, Harold. You used to be a pretty scary creature.” Vlad heard the disconsolate sigh from the shadows.
“Vlad, was I really scary?”
“You, Harold? Were you scary? Ah, Harold, you were the bounding, howling, horrifying, most terrifying menace in the night. No monster was scarier than you.”
Vlad thought he heard a throat-clearing or a little chuckle in the dark as Harold hobbled away.