Run faster, Lucian! You have to beat the night sky!
The boy’s small feet propelled him across the open field and towards the wooded cover of the forest. The coolness of the fall air soothed his throat as it ran down into his lungs. The aroma of leftover potato soup from a nearby house wafted in the air and tickled his nose, causing his stomach to rumble. His hunger would just have to wait. He had to get as far away from the village as possible. He focused his attention on the cluster of oaks off in the distance.
Keep going, Lucian! You might not make it far enough this time if you stop!
For this ten-year-old boy, every step taken on the dry grass meant a better chance that the secret he held would not be found out, but more importantly, it meant that his mother and sister would be safe. In the small Romanian village where he lived, his sister Sorina lay sleeping in her bed, head nestled tightly against her pillow. Mother sat relaxing in her rocking chair next to the fire, warm and at peace. Lucian couldn’t imagine what would happen if he were near them on nights like this. He feared for their lives and what he might do to them.
Lucian looked up into the night sky. Stars twinkled, and a full moon hung shrouded by a thin sheet of clouds that slowly made their way across the light globe’s plain and towards the open expanse of the black sky.
Almost there! Don’t stop! Don’t sto…
A stray stone snagged the boy’s feet and sent his body flying forward. He landed flat on his stomach just shy of the entrance to the woodlands. His eyes glanced up in terror as the clouds in the night sky dissipated, revealing the full moon’s bright glow.
“Dumnezeu a salva meu Sufletul”, he uttered in his native tongue, meaning “God save my soul.”
The scrawny muscles in Lucian’s arms and thighs began to twitch. A tingling sensation sent chills from his neck down through his spine. The boy’s skinny legs began to bulge, ripping apart his wool trousers. His chest expanded and shredded his shirt, leaving his naked body exposed to the elements. His hands and feet became gnarled and enlarged as razor sharp claws extended from his fingertips and toes. Intense pain gripped him as his body grew in stature and thick strands of white and gray hair protruded from his skin. His sweet, innocent eyes bulged from their sockets and their color changed from blue to bright red. Saliva dripped from fangs hanging from his mouth. He was no longer a boy…he was a beast.
Lucian’s soul lie trapped deep inside the shell of this monster, pounding at the inner walls of his chest and screaming to escape. His cries were deadened by the ear-piercing howl of the creature…
The faint glow of candlelight and lanterns from the distant village went out. The people had heard the beast’s cry and sought refuge in their homes, taking shelter from the creature of the night.
Lucian’s power and sense of smell increased exponentially. He drew in strong fragrances of lamb and plum brandy. His claws ripped apart an oak that stood in his way as he headed into the forest, hunched over on all fours. His canine lips craved blood, and his instincts told him to head back towards the village. His soul resisted and prompted him to devour a nearby rabbit instead.
The boy had been transformed by the full moon’s light for nearly three months now. He managed to keep it a secret from his mother, sister, and the rest of the townsfolk. However, each time he morphed into this beast, his craving for human flesh increased. He did not know how much longer he could resist.
The gypsies told him he was cursed. His birthday, they said, was a bad omen and the wolf bite he had received during his summer deer hunting had caused this change. Lucian hoped it was all just a nightmare symbolizing the beast that each person has within them that must be tamed.
As the full moon disappeared, Lucian returned to his normal form. His body weakened from the transformation, he headed back to town, not knowing if this would be the last time he returned. The next time, there might be a silver bullet waiting to penetrate his chest and end his misery once and for all.
Author’s Notes: Romania is a European country known for its folklore involving werewolves, vampires, and other creatures of the night. It is said that a silver bullet is the only thing that can kill a werewolf. The name Lucian translates into the word “light.”
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