“I don’t like this, Jude. You don’t even know the guy.”
“I’m a bit nervous myself,” Judy said, “but he seems nice enough and besides, we’re meeting at a neutral location.”
“I suppose so,” Betty sighed, “but I would still feel better if you would cancel. Why tonight?”
Judy put down her brush and glanced in the mirror, locking eyes with her best friend. “Darren died, I didn’t...”
Betty’s voice was stiff. “He didn’t just die. He was murdered.”
“I know this must see heartless to you, but I have to move on. I have to put this date behind me.”
“No, it doesn’t seem heartless. No one knows more than I do how you’ve suffered and I’m glad you’re ready to date again. He would have wanted you to. I just… they’ve never caught his killer and I worry.”
Judy turned around and took hold of Betty’s hand. “I’m sorry, I’m only thinking of myself. He was your brother. If you don’t want to be alone tonight…”
“Don’t worry about me. Jake got the night off and he’s coming over to watch sappy chick flicks with me.”
“Ahh, so it’s date night for you too. Now I feel a little better.”
“Please be careful, Judy.”
The fog crept in with the evening air and swirled around Judy’s car. She was parked on the side of the road. There weren’t any other cars around, the road was secluded and at this time, not very well traveled. She looked at her watch, sighed and then fished into her purse for her phone. She dialed and waited nervously for an answer.
“Hello, Carl? Hi… it’s Judy. I know I’m supposed to be meeting you at The Slice, but it looks like I’m not going to make it. My car, I don’t know what happened, but it just stopped running. I’m going to have to call someone to come get me… Oh, I couldn’t ask you to… are you sure? Well ok, thanks. I was going to call my friend, but she’s on a date herself right now. I’m on McClain Rd, about a mile past the refinery. Red car, blinkers on. You can’t miss me.”
She pushed the button, ending the call. She could just imagine what Betty would say. “You had him come pick you up… where? Good Lord, Judy, what were you doing driving down the road where Darren was killed? I knew you weren’t ready to move on.”
I am ready, Judy thought. I just need to get this night behind me. She closed her eyes, and Darren’s face loomed in her head, bloodied, a gaping hole revealing the empty space inside his skull where his brain should be. His body was broken… his arm hung on only by a few threads. “Help me,” he pleaded.
The blare of a trains horn startled Judy and she jumped. The train passed quickly, the sound of the wheels moving across the track blocking out the pounding of her heart. She’d dreamed about Darren so many times since his death, but this was the first time she’d seen him like this in her waking hours. She hadn’t actually seen his body of course. His face though… she’d had to identify him. He’d been shot, but that wasn’t the worst of it… the other details were in the police report, the trail of blood that started at the side of the road where his car had been found, across the tracks and into the woods. He’d been cut open with a crude instrument, his internal organs removed. They weren’t anywhere to be found. Whoever had killed him had taken them.
Detective James had said it best. “Whoever did this was an animal.”
Not an animal, Judy thought, as she watched the headlights approaching in her rearview mirror. Animals aren’t that kind of savage.
A blue car pulled up in front of Judy and a tall, handsome man got out. Judy smiled… for once a man that did look like his profile picture. She opened her door and stepped out.
“Carl, thank you.”
“I couldn’t leave a damsel in distress, what kind of a knight would I be?”
“A dark knight.”
“Do you want to pop your hood? I’ll take a look and see if I can find out what the problem is.”
“That won’t be necessary, there isn’t anything wrong with it.” The fog was getting thicker. Judy stepped closer to Carl, studying his reaction.
“But you said…”
“I lied. Did you eat his heart first?”
“My husband’s heart, after you killed him. Did you eat it first? Or did you go for the liver? Maybe his pancreas?
“The man you killed last year… one year ago tonight, to be exact.” Judy stepped closer and he backed up. “How long did it take you to realize it didn’t work? You got the wrong one.”
“Wrong one?” Carl looked behind him, at his car. “I don’t know what you’re…”
“Did you go out at the next full moon, rip off your clothes and wait for the change? How disappointing it must have been for you to realize that you were still just weak, pathetic… an impotent human with a dark, evil heart.”
Carl ran for his car then. Behind him he heard a roar and looked over his shoulder for just a brief moment. He almost pissed himself at the sight of a huge wolf bearing down on him. He fumbled with his door, trying to open it, trying to get to his gun. Then he was on the ground and the weight of the werewolf was on top of him.
Judy rolled him over and sniffed him. His fear excited her, but it was his heart that called to her. Its beat reminded her of Darren. She ripped his throat out first, saving his heart for last. When she was done, she cried. It was over. She could now put the past behind her.
Word Count: 999