Not many people believed in werewolves back then. Not in Havana (pronounced Hayvanna), Florida anyway. But shit changed on that Monday in May... at least for the unfortunate patrons and employees at Crawford’s diner.
The restaurant had been there since the seventies. Not so much a mainstay as a survivor. People in Havana liked the breakfast, the lunch. The cheese grits and fried chicken. But come around sundown, Tallahassee, Florida offered the nightlife. The chain restaurants, the clubs, the cute bars and pretty young people. The type of glitz and glamour Havana just couldn’t afford to match.
With his daddy’s inheritance money, Jackie Crawford bought the abandoned shack-turned-Havana-mainstay. He had a prime location, after all. Right outside the city limits and on that slab of highway leading straight down to Florida State University, Florida A&M, and Tally’s unique vibrancy. Normally, Crawford’s would be packed during the day, but turn into a ghost town by the time evening gave way to darkness. The customers inevitably migrating to bigger and better things. Especially on the weekends. But still, this Southern-fried restaurant wasn’t a bad accomplishment for a black man opening up his first and only business in the first few years after segregation.
Of course, May meant the dead season. Summer semester a lull for the Tallahassee traffic. A lull in students and commuters. With the arrival of May, so went Tally and Havana’s commerce.
Jackie always prepared for this exodus. From mid-May to early-August was when the employees mostly served him and whatever local stragglers appeared. And today was no different.
Monday evening brought about nothing but a stray customer or two. Jackie hid in his usual corner booth. Paperback in hand, glasses in tow. Aside from the occasional glance at the Atlanta Braves game on a bulky T.V., Jackie’s only other entertainment was the whisky mixed into the strongest coffee in town.
Crawford’s hadn’t changed much in fifty years. Not on Jackie’s watch. The small town diner vibe was captured in the form of stained booths, big windows, and bar stools.
Toward the back of the diner, a dusty jukebox offered no tracks past 1981. Just strictly Motown, rock n’ roll, and the occasional doo-wop. All personally curated by Jackie himself.
Standing behind the counter, the lone waitress stared at the homemade hours sign: Sunrise-Sunset
. The sign Jackie had Scotch-taped to the glass door entrance numerous times over the decade. Needless to say, Molly Campbell was damn ready for that sunset… For this dull shift to end.
At forty-two, Molly could be doing better. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself... but a GED and a handful of community college credits at TCC only got you so far. Especially for this born-and-bred Hayvanna hostage.
She scanned the desolate diner. Only one customer left, not counting Jackie.
Over by the bathrooms, in the diner’s darkest terrain lurked a tall man Molly had never seen before. He kept to himself right from the start. Never spoke to Molly outside of growling his order: steak and eggs. Medium rare.
This customer was quarantined on his own island. Come to think of it, Molly realized she hadn’t even gotten a good look at him. The man’s scruffy facial hair covered his brown skin. His eyes avoided hers. He wore a dark trench coat weeks before Memorial Day, here in the sizzling Florida sunlight. Molly was shocked when the guy had ordered seconds... especially considering his wiry physique.
Indulging in an internal countdown, Molly ran her fingers along the cash register. The Braves game on a painful commercial break. Neither the man nor Jackie were saying a word. One glance at Molly’s cell phone offered no solace. Such was the life of a single, working-class woman... one living off a modest if not minimum wage. At least, she didn’t have to wear a hideous apron and even uglier uniform… She talked Jackie out of that in 2012.
Sighing, Molly pushed her long red bangs away. Felt the sweat stick through her jeans and gray t-shirt. Crawford’s never a place of class but cheap Southern comfort.
But no Monday evening would be complete without Burl Ward walking in at seven-thirty. Not that Molly minded.
Beneath the stained collared shirt was a stout man. And beneath Burl’s fuzzy beard was a warm, round face. Nothing but smiles and dignity. He waved over at the owner. “‘Sup, Jackie!” rang Burl’s Southern accent.
Moving at a glacial pace, Jackie looked up. His hand slower than his gaze. “Hey there, Burl!”
Molly couldn’t help but crack up.
Burl made his way to his usual spot by the door. In a booth all on its own… and far away from the stranger.
Grinning, Burl waved at Molly. “Hey, what’s going on, Molly!”
On instinct, Molly grabbed a notepad and headed for this ‘patron’ saint. No need for menus. “Just waiting on you!” she cooed.
“Oh really!” Burl replied. “I must be the man of the hour!”
“Always!” yelled Jackie’s rasp.
Molly stopped at Burl’s booth. Her pen and notepad at the ready. “Just the usual?”
Burl gave the table a light slap. “You got it!”
Molly smiled… until she looked off toward the other side of the diner. Toward the mystery man in booth number ten. He sat facing the opposite direction. Just staring at the wall. The bland ornaments before him displaying All-Americana caricatures like smiling waitresses, delicious dishes, and hot rods. A portrait of 1957 struggling to resurrect itself.
The sight unnerved Molly. Sure all she saw was the back of the man’s head, his buzz cut and nothing more. But there was still the trench coat... How quiet he was. Something’s not right
, Molly worried.
“You know me too well,” Burl continued.
Back in Crawford’s mode, Molly forced a smile for Burl. “Yeah. That’s what happens when you come in everyday,” she teased. Partly out of attraction and partly out of tipbait, she leaned in closer. “I think we’d be out of business without you.”
Burl just sat there in a schoolboy silence. His grin in a nervous excitement.
With that, Molly strutted away. Flaunting her ass for what she knew would be Burl’s eager gaze.
Of course, she wasn’t wrong. Burl watched her walk all the way up to the counter. Not that Molly was complaining.
Recovering, Burl looked off toward the back. His turn to notice the man in the trench coat. To feel that slight unease...
Molly got ready to enter the kitchen. She brushed aside her fluttering bangs once more. About to push the door-
“Hey, Excuse me, Molly,” Jackie’s voice startled her.
Molly saw Jackie glide right past her. A short and pudgy blur. The speed well beyond his seventy-nine years.
Before she could react, Jackie snatched her notepad. “I’ll tell Zach,” he reassured her.
“Okay,” Molly said.
Recovering from the ‘scare’, Molly watched Jackie enter the kitchen, the door shutting behind him. Molly couldn’t help but smile. Why so jumpy
, she told herself. We’re about to close.
Sighing, she confronted the diner entrance. The glass doors and many windows showed only a small sector of the parking lot.
To Molly’s relief, only Burl’s black F-150 was seen amongst the employee vehicles (including Molly’s clunker Camry). And no cars were coming down that highway anytime soon…
However, once Molly surveyed the diner, her relief was short-lived. Now she couldn’t shake the lingering dread. Not because Burl was immersed in his cell phone but because she realized she hadn’t seen Trench Coat Man’s vehicle. Hell, she never
saw him in one. Considering he paid thirty minutes ago, maybe this guy couldn’t leave...
At first, Molly wanted to rationalize the fear, but such a skill wasn’t one of her strengths. She looked back out those front doors. Maybe the weirdo had parked further down, somewhere by the alleyway. In the excess spots Crawford’s hadn’t needed since the 90s. Sure, the guy could’ve been homeless. Or a harmless drifter… God knows, Crawford’s got many of those… Just none this fucking creepy.
Molly couldn’t suppress the paranoia. She never could. Especially with the sun now fading fast. Nightfall was upon the diner.
. Still no one had gone near the jukebox. And the weird guy still hadn’t left.
Molly ditched her cash register station. Who the Hell knows what Jackie and Zach are doing back there
? With a flirtatious flourish, she stopped at Burl’s table. Put a hand on her hip as she beamed her baby blue spotlight on this valued customer. “You like it?”
“Mm-hmm!” Burl responded. He lowered his fork, the pecan pie melting in his mouth. “It’s amazing like always, Molly!”
Chuckling, Molly tapped the table. “I made it especially for you...”
“I can tell!”
Outside, streetlights began to cut on. One out of three did anyway.
Molly looked out a window. Besides the humming lights glowing above the front door, her surroundings stayed in those twilight shadows. Thank God this place closes at night
, she thought.
“Say, Molly,” Burl began.
Shattered from her thoughts, she smiled at him.
Burl struggled with his words. The semi truck driver now skidding on emotions rather than wheels. “I know you’re usually busy on the weekends… but, uh..”
Molly didn’t interrupt. She just kept her gaze on him. Burl wasn’t bad-looking after all. And in Havana, any man without kids or a rap sheet was a plus. Nevermind, a steady job.
“Would you, uh, want to go to Tally with me Friday night?” Burl finally got out. He flashed a toothy smile. “Maybe go see that new Marvel movie or-”
“I’d love to!” Molly replied.
“Great!” Burl let out a sigh. Motioned a trembling hand toward the waitress of his dreams. “Do you want me to pick you up…”
Confident, Molly nodded. “I think I can switch shifts with Suzie.” She turned. Then wished she hadn’t…
Trench Coat Man was now sitting on the other side of the booth. Far away from his food and empty glass of Cherry Coke. He just sat motionless and still. His beard somehow messier and longer.
“So pick you up at your place?” Burl asked.
Molly faced him, her seductive coolness rattled. “Uh, yeah-”
The kitchen door burst open. Jackie Crawford was off and running. A man in a hurry.
Startled, Molly and Burl both looked toward him.
Jackie gave a quick wave. “Melissa called! I gotta go!”
“Aw, okay,” Molly responded.
Jackie rushed past them as he headed straight for the door. Toward the intensifying darkness. He pointed Molly toward the kitchen. “Just hold down the fort and make sure Zach don’t do anything stupid!”
The owner was out before Molly could even finish her sentence. The front door closed quick, sealing everyone inside. Jackie Crawford seen for only a second under that clinical lab lighting before disappearing into the twilight.
Molly had handled the stress of closing on her own with or without an idiot like Zach. Even when Burl was there. Just never with a weirdo in a trench coat lurking inside.
“Who’s Melissa?” Burl quipped. He smiled at Molly. “Ol’ Jackie got himself a hot date?”
“Naw, it’s his daughter,” Molly replied.
“Gotcha. I forgot he had a few kids-”
Molly staggered toward the counter. “Hold on a sec.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“You’re fine!” Molly went straight toward the kitchen door but stopped by the register. Unable to resist one more look at that fateful booth. Trench Coat Man still avoided eye contact... Only now he had both hands on the table. Big
, hairy hands.
“Y’all closing?” she heard Burl ask.
Molly glanced back at him. “Uh, yeah, about to.”
“I can wait on you-”
“Yeah, that’s fine!” Molly flashed another glance at the man. Somehow, his hands got bigger. The beard furrier. Eager to escape this dread, Molly rushed inside the kitchen.
Like a rec room, Crawford’s kitchen was a break from the burden of restaurant work. One much needed on the busier nights. Amidst this cluttered conglomeration of pots and pans were several grimy sinks. Stoves and ovens in various states of decay. Molly sweated upon stepping inside. Her nostrils ambushed by the smell of grease. Her gaze greeted by steam… and cigarette smoke.
Groaning, Molly walked toward a far-off corner. “Zach!” she cried as she waved the smoke away. Molly then stopped right in front of the man who’d never be employee of the month. “What the Hell are you doing?”
Sitting on a stool, Zach smiled at her. The twenty-four-year-old not fresh out of college or the service. But about to be fresh out of cigarettes. “Yo… Molly,” said a shrill Southern whine. He slouched back against a counter, letting more stains pile up on his white tee and apron.
Molly glared at him. “Jackie lets you smoke back here?”
“Sometimes…” Molly noticed Zach holding a dying cig in one hand, his phone in the other. A YouTube show called Wolf Women
displayed on screen.
“Hell, he never lets me!”
Some concern crashing his chill, Zach nodded at the cig. “Hey, you ain’t gonna tell him, are you?”
Molly shook her head in dismay. Crawford’s version of a disappointed mother scolding a slacker son. “Jesus…”
Zach shushed her. “She’s coming on!”
Zach pointed at his phone. “Listen.”
A wild AWOO echoed through the room. One man-made… or woman-made.
“Whoo, welcome back to our Full Moon Stream
, bitches! I’m your host Anne not Annie, and we’re in hour twelve of our twenty-four hour full moon special!” Anne’s voice was deep and engaging. Her natural talent and experience obvious.
“What is this shit?” Molly asked.
Zach waved the phone around. Two women seen on screen in a low-budget paranormal channel. “That’s Anne and Julie! They do all that monster and paranormal shit!” Still Molly was confused. “They’re the wolf women!”
“And tonight we’ve got some clear skies!” Anne continued, the passion palpable. “Perfect for that full moon about to come out for all y’all crazy motherfuckers!”
Not impressed, Molly pointed toward the door. “Well, I’m going back out.” She waved toward the mess. "And clean this shit up a little! We’re about to close in case you couldn’t tell.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Zach muttered.
Molly snatched the cig out of his hand.
Zach stood up, finally showing life. “Yo, what the fuck, Molly!”
“No smoking, Zach.” She took a quick puff. I need it more than his ass
Unable to argue, Zach grumbled as he ran a hand through his curly blonde locks. At the mercy of Jackie’s most-trusted employee. Jackie’s only
“I’m sure it’s gonna get pretty damn crazy out there,” Anne’s voice continued.
“Oh yeah!” her younger co-host Julie added.
Grinning, Molly handed Zach the cigarette back. “Don’t tell Jackie.” She winked and made her way out.
Zach smirked with relief.
“Remember, clean this shit up!” Molly yelled.
Zach just smirked.
“So be sure to watch out for those lunar loonies,” quipped Anne in her lethargic tone. With smartass style to spare. “Or lunar loons, whatever you assholes prefer.”
In the diner, Molly shut off the T.V. The Braves were taking it on the chin anyway.
She walked toward Burl. His arm was draped over the booth. His beer gut dangling from excess food. Nothing but crumbs on his plates.
Molly stole another look outside. Nighttime was getting closer. Now the full moon could be seen… A nocturnal spaceship in the sky. Vivid and bright even when it wasn’t at a hundred percent.
“You can keep the change,” Burl said.
Molly came to a stop as Burl slid the receipt toward her. Two twenties on top of the twenty-four dollar tab... Not to mention Burl’s scribbled phone number. A scribbled smiley face included.
“Just text me about Friday,” Burl said.
“Aww,” Molly gushed. She pocketed the receipt. “I will...”
Burl surveyed the restaurant. “Y’all ready to run me out?”
“Yeah, it’s about that time.” Molly turned. The good moods gave way to diner dread. Trench Coat Man was still there.
“Naw, I understand-”
“Why’s he still here?” Molly said to him, keeping her voice low.
Being discreet, she faced Burl. All while Molly’s eyes kept watch on the mysterious man. From what little Molly saw of it, Trench Coat Man’s face offered no tells. He was a wax figure. A hairy one at that. “He’s been here for hours,” Molly told Burl.
Getting an adrenaline rush, Burl re-adjusted his Ford cap. Even the sight sent chills up his spine. “You want me to do somethin’?”
“Naw. I can handle it.” Molly flashed him a smile. “But thanks.”
“Okay. If you need me, I’m right here.”
Now Molly had to gather up the courage. She hated confrontation… now here she was shivering in May. In Jackie’s makeshift sauna.
Behind a stern glare, Molly walked up to booth number ten. “Uh, excuse me, sir.”
Burl was watching. For once, not just Molly’s ass either but out of concern. The diner had now gone completely silent, desolate darkness plastered against every window.
Molly got closer and closer. Her steps cautious. Still the stranger hadn’t reacted, much less moved. “Sir, we’re closing.”
As she stopped a few feet away, Molly still had no clear view. The trench coat was draped over a body that’d gotten bulkier since the man first walked in.
Molly could now see a cup of coffee at his sharp fingertips. The mug filled to the brim, the coffee long cold.
“We close at eight, sir,” Molly said, her tone shaky. “I’m sorry but you need to go.”
Still no response.
Molly leaned in closer. Daring to even put her hand on the table. “You’ve already paid but we’re closing.” She gave a nervous smile and nodded toward the door. The Scotch-taped sign. “We don’t serve customers when the sun goes down.”
There was nothing. Not a word. The black man looked to be in a catatonic state. Hypnotized by his own hands.
Frustration joined Molly’s fear. “Please,” she sighed. “I don’t wanna call the-”
Still looking down, the man waved her off in a soft dismissal. His long, sharp fingernails glistening in the dim lights. Human talons that emerged from deep within the skin...
Molly took a scared step back.
And then she heard the man give her a guttural growl! A murky low sound devoid of humanity. The stranger still didn’t look at her... those cries were warning shots. Or at least, Molly sure hoped so.
“Oh God…” Molly muttered.
A hand grabbed her shoulder!
Molly jumped and whirled around, startled. “Oh God!”
“It’s just me,” Burl reassured her. Standing behind Molly, he loosened his grip. His concern obvious. ”You okay?”
“Yeah...” She looked toward the man. Burl following her every move. “It’s just…”
Burl patted her shoulder. “I got it.”
Gladly, Molly staggered back. Letting Burl take over.
The trucker stared down the man. Burl standing tall and strong. In a way anyone else would find intimidating. “Hey, buddy.” Burl said in a voice offering anything but friendliness. “She said they’re closing.”
Then Burl saw Trench Coat Man’s hands. The clawed paws. They’d only grown bigger. The fingers elongated. Black fur spreading all across the stranger’s skin with startling quickness.
Suppressing his nerves, Burl motioned toward the man. “Hey, it’s time to go now! Come on!”
But the man wouldn’t budge. Wouldn’t talk. Wouldn’t even look at Burl.
Molly saw how the beard swallowed the man’s face up. Covering his entire neck... His shoulders were only broader. His frame at war with the trench coat.
Burl looked over at Molly. A quick exchange of nervous glances.
Molly reached toward him. “I’ll just call-”
Dodging her grasp, Burl turned his attention to the man. Now the trucker was pissed. His face red, his eyes irate. Not only out of ego but to show off for Molly. “Did you hear me!” he shouted. Burl slammed his fist on the table. Coffee splashed from the cup, the dishes and Molly jumped but the stranger didn’t flinch. Their hands never moved.
“Burl-” Molly started.
“I got this!” he interrupted. Still playing tough, Burl leaned in closer. “If you don’t leave right now, we’re calling the cops, buddy! You hear me!” He reached toward the stranger’s arm. “Get the Hell out!”
Like a gunshot, the kitchen door slammed open, startling Burl and Molly.
They turned in time to see Zach step out of the kitchen. His shit-eating grin instantly made Molly groan.
“Really!” she cried.
Laughing, Zach leaned against the front counter. “Hey, I finished cleaning!” He put the phone in his apron pocket. “Can we go now?”
Molly glared at him. “No! Hell no!”
Zach’s smile vanished. His eyes got big, his expression entering fright.
“You just scared the shit out of us!” Molly continued.
Behind her, a blood-curdling snarl erupted! The man’s growl at full throttle.
“Oh shit!” Zach screamed.
Burl and Moll turned around but it was too late.
The stranger’s hand shot straight into Burl’s neck! Extended claws and all!
Blood sprayed across Molly’s horrified face.
The paw moved back-and-forth, rummaging through Burl’s flesh, muffling his painful cries... Journeying
through his jugular! The man’s hand twisting what were essentially multiple knives. Creating a blender of gore!
Burl’s beard turned crimson. His screams grew murky, drowned out by the blood pouring from his mouth.
Now standing over six feet tall, the stranger’s red eyes glared at the group. His trench coat ripping at the seams. The khakis full of tears... None of his clothes able to withstand the transformation
Struggling against the paralyzing panic, Molly stumbled back, teardrops sliding down her face. And when Burl’s dying body began to convulse, she could only scream!
“Aw, fuck!” Zach yelled.
Snarling, the stranger lurched back, hoisting Burl off the ground! Dark wiry hair coated the man from head to toe, even overtaking his beard. His nose contorted into a snout, his ears sprouting into furry antennas. Toenail claws pierced through the Nikes. From outside, the full moon was a spotlight illuminating what was close enough to a werewolf...
At the mercy of the lycanthrope, Burl’s head swiveled about, the claws a string controlling the trucker’s movements.
Burl looked on at Molly. Faint tears mixed in with his blood.
“No!” Molly cried. “Burl!” Weeping, she backed up against the counter. Her and Zach’s helpless sights glued to the looming execution.
Trench Coat Man then got to work. His paw gripped tighter inside Burl’s neck, squeezing the pulpy grue from this human fruit. A crimson waterfall came pouring out!
Fueled by euphoria and a literal bloodlust, the man opened his mouth and went straight for it. All of Burl’s blood and bits fell right into the carnivore’s clutches. On to the huge tongue and ferocious fangs. War paint for his fur.
“Jesus fucking Christ…” Zach said.
The werewolf retracted his paw in a sadistic flourish! A prized chunk of flesh stuck amongst the claws. The meat almost medium rare.
Burl fell to the ground. The Ford cap tumbled off before getting soaked in blood. Burl was somehow still alive… but not for much longer. His mouth moved but nothing came out. His neck a sprinkler shooting out red spurts. He turned and faced Molly. His stare sad and fading fast.
Distraught, Molly put her hands over her mouth. “Oh God… Burl…”
Now the werewolf confronted the two survivors. His red eyes narrowed. A sliver of a smile appearing amongst the fangs.
“No!” Zach cried. He turned and veered toward the front door. “Fuck this!”
“Where are you going!” Molly shouted. Worried, she yanked Zach’s arm, stopping him. “Call the police!”
“Fucking let go of me!”
The werewolf let out a chilling howl! An air raid siren of the wild. His audience showed terrified expressions… Just the reaction he wanted.
Behind the creature, the full moon stayed a spotlight. The diner center stage for this massacre. Burl’s neckpiece still in the werewolf’s grasp, leaking gallons of blood. Between the added muscles and gooey saliva, Trench Coat Man’s transformation was complete.
“I ain’t sticking around!” Zach yelled at Molly. He gave her a rough shove and bolted for the glass door.
“Zach!” she cried. Covered in sweat and her favorite customer’s blood, Molly looked back at the werewolf.
With sickening showmanship, the creature consumed Burl’s flesh off its claw. A delicacy that could only be enjoyed in slow, methodical munches. Finger-lickin’ good...
Molly watched in disgust. Shivering in the Florida heat.
Glowering, the wolfman made her watch every bite. Working his way down each claw, each gooey piece of meat one by one.
Molly couldn’t watch any longer. She turned away in horror. Then the sadness hit once she saw Burl lying motionless on the ground. He was paler than ever. His dead eyes still on her. The neck still spewing blood.
“No… Burl…” Molly said.
The werewolf released another howl! One of glee rather than anger. The creature loving this lycanthrope limelight.
Backed up against the counter, Molly retrieved her phone. A desperate attempt at 911...
Until she heard heavy footsteps near the front door. Molly looked up to see Zach ready to push his way out.
In a frenzied panic, Zach waved her over. “Come on!”
Molly jammed the phone in her pocket and rushed toward him. The adrenaline carrying her courage.
The creature fixated his glare on her. Growling, he reached out and swung a left hook, the outstretched paw just missing Molly!
More of Burl’s blood hit her but Molly cringed and kept going. She stopped next to Zach. “Let’s go!”
“Alright!” Zach responded. He was ready to lead the way. Ready for this triumphant exit. He threw himself against the door.
A simultaneous BANG
smashed against the glass!
Both Zach and Molly jumped back. Reserves of fear surged through them.
“Shit!” Molly screamed.
Like a splattered bug, Jackie Crawford’s body was pressed hard against the glass. Blood dripped down the door. Through the cracked glass, Jackie’s eyes were wide open in fear, his mouth wide open to scream. Deep slices and scratches leaving his dead face in fragments.
Under the vague lights, Jackie’s organs and intestines were seen dangling out. Gory sausages and scrambled eggs his diner could’ve used… Jackie himself a human blockade trapping everyone inside!
“Aw, fuck!” Zach yelled. His quick pathetic attempts to budge the door went nowhere. “We’re fucked!”
Molly grabbed Zach’s arm. “Come on!” Using all her might, she dragged him toward the kitchen.
Zach stole a solemn look at Jackie’s corpse. “But Mr. Crawford-”
“We have to go!” Molly shouted. She pressed on, even as their feet kicked up blood. Struggling through the crimson quicksand.
The next roar was loud! And close...
Turning, Molly saw the werewolf lunge toward them. But she wasn’t gonna stop! Instead, she picked up the pace. Channeling enough strength to carry the nervous twenty-four-year-old with her! She could feel Zach’s every tremble and shiver.
The werewolf’s heavy breathing echoed all around them. The smell of carnage all the more nauseating in the heat.
Molly and Zach passed the front counter. The kitchen door well within reach. Still holding on to Zach, Molly reached for it.
But then Molly felt a sudden pull from a primeval force!
“No!” Zach screamed.
Molly felt Zach fly out of her grasp! Then felt the counter’s brute force slamming into her hip. She cried out in pain.
“Molly!” Zach screamed. He gasped for breath. His screams quickly suppressed into a whimpering.
Like a frightened mother, Molly looked on, her terror at a crippling crescendo. “Oh God… no!”
Lurking just a few feet away, the werewolf raised Zach in the air. Both clawed paws sunk deep into the cook’s neck. The red rivers flowing all along those furry arms.
Zach struggled and kicked his feet. Squirmed in the creature’s sharp clutches. An agonizing, low yell was all that could escape his lips.
Now part of the show, Zach could do nothing but participate in the evil performance. Molly unable to do anything but be a helpless audience.
“Zach!” Molly screamed.
Savoring the sadism, the werewolf faced Molly. He held on to Zach with ease. Held Molly’s attention with relish. The monster exhibiting great strength and agility…
“Let him go, Goddammit!” Molly cried. “Drop him!”
The werewolf’s smile of fangs returned. Now he clasped his claws tighter into Zach’s neck, creating a slow rise of the guillotine’s blade… Zach with no choice but to watch those paws get tighter and tighter. Wolfman enjoying every second of it.
Zach lurched back, his face contorting in pain. Blood instead of words came out his mouth. His swaying, his swinging, his pitiful attempts at escape only heightened the torture. And sped up his own inevitable demise.
Unable to hold back tears, Molly rushed toward them. “Zach!”
The werewolf’s guillotine was ready to come hurtling down…
In a triumphant squeeze, wolfman compressed his claws! A sudden clap burst through the flesh, popping the jugular balloon!
Blood sprayed across Molly. Her hair now even redder.
Zach’s head tumbled straight down! Straight to the floor. Molly jumped back on the first bounce. Fell back against the counter on the second. And then let out a devastating scream when the severed head came to a rest! Zach’s eyes blinking before death.
Blood and gore gave the diner a long-needed renovation.
Now the werewolf lunged in for a feast, gnawing and munching upon Zach’s neck. An all-you-can-eat buffet of human flesh. His snarls and grunts full of pleasure as he made his way down to Zach’s collarbone… Wolfman always one messy eater...
Molly stood still, going out of breath. Simultaneously shocked and scared.
Act II of the violent production continued. Zach finally stopped blinking. His severed head an all-too-real prop. The werewolf now turning most of Zach’s neck into a disappearing act.
The surreal sight chilled Molly to the bone. There was the gore. The werewolf’s carnal strength. His chorus of excited snarls.
“God…” Snapping out of her disturbed daze, Molly retrieved her phone and immediately started dialing 911.
Another howl rejuvenated Molly’s anxiety! She stopped and confronted the creature. Now able to see the man hadn’t grown much taller… just scarier. Especially covered in her co-workers’ blood and grue. He’s a rabid wolf on two legs
During the feeding frenzy, the werewolf howled again and again. Long bellows from the depths of a dark soul.
Even amidst the scattered blood, Molly could see the saliva slinging off his mouth. She felt her heart sink. Felt her hands tremble. She knew... Wolfman was ready for Act III.
Molly made her way behind the counter. Got ready to mash the call button.
When a CRASH
erupted*!* Glass flew everywhere! One shard stuck out the back of Zach’s head.
A growl drifted through the diner! Then more howls… a whole creepy chorus of them.
Frightened, Molly looked on as the call connected
Jackie’s mangled face leaned in through the broken glass, perched right up above the door handle. Now Molly got a better view of those deep slices. How Jackie’s face had been turned into shredded cheese. The old man’s tongue hanging out in dead dog fashion.
But what elevated Molly’s terror wasn’t the dead boss. Nor how the shattered door revealed an even brighter full moon. What shook her to the core were the howls roaring through the rural isolation! Howls so similar to Trench Coat Man’s... just as hungry and unsettling and fierce. They’re everywhere!
“No…” Molly said. She turned toward the werewolf. He stood there, confident. Zach’s decapitated corpse at his feet. The monster ready for back-up.
“911, what’s your emergency?” said a disembodied female voice. The first calm voice Molly Campbell had heard in an eternity.
Panicking, Molly put the phone to her ear. Wishing she could dissolve through the iPhone and straight into the operator’s arms. “Come to Crawford’s Diner! It’s on the Tallahassee highway, and. And there’s animals in here, they’re killing everybody!” At first, Molly was wanting to sound collected but that was fucking impossible right now.
There was no night breeze. Nothing that could soothe Molly’s sweltering unease. Especially once she saw Trench Coat Werewolf turn toward the door. And then heard more of those emphatic howls entering the restaurant.
Of course, the operator couldn’t match Molly’s intensity. No one could. “Ma’am, what’s your name-”
“Two people are dead!” Molly screamed. Trench Coat Werewolf’s guttural growl erupted, making Molly cringe. The sound a battle cry. “Just hurry! Send somebody!”
“Ma’am, we’ve got-”
A ferocious energy knocked the front doors down, sending Jackie’s corpse SPLATTERING
near the counter. Right in front of Molly.
“Oh God! Mr. Crawford!” Molly shouted.
All the glass glistened around the three dead bodies. For a second, Molly stood transfixed by the sight. Particularly the glowing remnants clustered along the werewolf’s fur… Jewelry for the creature’s gory glory.
“Ma’am!” the operator’s voice said, finally showing some concern. ROARS
ripped through the atmosphere. Each of them scary, but each of them different in tone and strength.
“Ma’am, are you there!?” the operator continued.
Clutching the phone, Molly scanned the battlefield. Trench Coat Werewolf stayed right where he was, baying at the front doorway. All the other howls and snarls got louder. Their power rattled the other windows. Molly even felt the floor tremble…
“Aw, fuck…” she cried.
Heavy footsteps scurried about outside. They were fast, frenetic. The sounds of stealthy stalkers.
“Ma’am!” the operator said.
Molly now backed into the kitchen door. Her feet crunching countless glass, forming a maddening rhythm, interrupted only by the occasional puddle of blood.
But no matter the horror, Molly couldn’t turn and run. Couldn’t force herself to look away or cover her eyes. No matter how much the dread decimated her or how disturbing this crime scene was or how sickening that smell of grease and death had swelled, Molly just had to see more.
The star werewolf looked right at her. The sinister smirk marking Molly. With triumph, he leaned back and let out his loudest howl yet! One straight from the heart. Driven by excitement. The stuff that wolfpacks are made of!
Molly didn’t have time to react.
In a split second, the werewolf’s supporting cast leaped through the other windows! Four in a row. More sparkling crystals for the diner’s tomb.
But Molly couldn’t move. The sweat and blood kept the clothes stuck to her skin. The heat melting her into the door. Besides the unease, she was awestruck. Trench Coat Werewolf’s final act had left her anything but disappointed. Somehow, the reveal seemed worth the tragedy. Worth the slaughter.
A female werewolf now stood hunched over by the door. She was almost as tall as Trench Coat and just as muscular. Her business suit tattered and torn. Long blonde hair scattered amongst the dark fur. Amidst the smeared blood, faint make-up could be seen on that horrifying face. Lipstick adding a vivid red for her fangs.
The other creatures stood a little bit shorter and skinnier. Juvenile delinquents dressed in high school clothes. The jeans with more holes and tears than usual. One male put an arm around his female companion. An obvious young couple. Lycanthrope love.
All those red eyes stayed on Molly. The saliva smiles as well. The snarls surrounded her. The growls and howls. All the creatures walking on long lumbering legs. Together, they formed a rabid congregation commanded by that strange man in the trench coat.
Molly remained slouched back against the door. She had no choice but to show fear… and fascination.What she was seeing was beyond human comprehension. Cryptic Cryptids that no one had ever seen before… or lived long enough to tell the tale.
“Ma’am, are you there!” shouted the operator.
The alarm shook Molly from the hold of this extraordinary encounter. From the grip of the weird, wondrous werewolves. Through the terror, Molly felt each and every creature watching her. The werewolves enjoying the torturous tension as they deliberated on their dessert.
Business Suit licked her lips.
“Hello!” the dispatcher shouted. “Ma’am!”
Molly jammed the phone to her ear. Submerging it into her skull. Her subconscious. “Send someone!”
The gang of wolves took a menacing step closer. Their congregation in sync. One of the teens pretended to lunge at Molly while another swiped their paw in the air. Cheap tricks to make Molly flinch that worked.
Molly’s grip grew tighter to the phone. Hanging on for dear life.
“We’re sending someone-” the operator started.
“Bring a shitload of silver bullets!” Molly interrupted.
With the tumultuous start of a turntable, the jukebox erupted with The Platters’ “Blue Moon”. The bombastic harmonies startled Molly, making her drop her phone. The incessant tempo matching her pounding heart. Her fright.
“They’re on the way!” said the operator, her yells buried beneath the song. Blue mooon…
Another howl hit Molly! She looked toward the jukebox. The eyesore antique aglow with life. You saw me standing alooone
Molly saw a creature leaning against the jukebox, this werewolf the de facto leader of the teenage pack. His blue jeans and black leather jacket even tighter over the fur and muscles. The young man bringing I Was A Teenage Werewolf
to chilling 2020 life. Without a dream in my hearrrt….
Crawford’s speakers never sounded so loud. The doo-wop was deafening. The backing vocals baying for blood.
The creatures roared with approval! This classic track ready to get the werewolf party started… much to Molly’s unease. Without a love of my owwwn!
The gruesome group got closer. Their growls and fangs horrifying.
Having fun, the teen leader slid a claw along one of the tables. The long, agonizing screech further unnerving Molly’s soul.
Trembling, Molly pointed at the werewolfpack. Unable to feign toughness. Not when she was this fucking scared. “Get the Hell out of here!”
She got nothing but two choruses. The Platters’ elegant and pretty. The creatures animalistic and savage. One full of soul. The other merciless. . Blue mooon, blue moon, blue mooon, blue moon
“Get the fuck out!” Molly screamed.
The monsters marched for their prey. For Molly.
Trench Coat Werewolf got in the lead. With a smirk and a snarl, he raised his left paw to lead the charge. These wolves faster on hind legs than all fours.
A shivering mess, Molly pushed open the kitchen door and jumped inside. Into a bomb shelter of stifling humidity and trash but an upgrade over the diner’s carnage. She grabbed a steak knife.
A long, drawn-out howl was heard.
Molly whirled around. One hand ready to slam the door, the other clinging to the first silver weapon she saw.
Snarling for flesh, the werewolves charged past the counter. Their claws and teeth ready to devour anything in its path.
Sitting between Julie and Mack, Anne took command of the latest call. “So what happened?” she said into the mic.
“I was terrified!” shouted the caller, the familiar voice emanating off the speakers. The voice belonging to none other than Molly Campbell. “I didn’t know what to do, the werewolves just kept coming after me!” Her heavy breathing overtook the airwaves. Her sobs theatrical. “They were hungry
“Anne not Annie,” Anne replied with snark to spare.
Her co-host Julie chuckled.
“Mr. Crawford and Burl were dead!” Molly continued. “They slaughtered them!"
Decades of radio and podcasts helped Anne hide her smirk. But still in her mid-twenties, Julie was unable to repress the laughter.
“I’m serious!” cried Molly’s defensive wrath. “I’m not lying, Anne! I saw them kill them at Crawford’s diner! They did it!”
Skeptical, Anne stole a look at the laptop. Many lights were beaming on screen. Dedicated callers awaiting their turn at a North Florida fifteen minutes of fame…
“They, they were closing in on me!” Molly yelled, her voice getting shriller. “They were running inside the kitchen, Anne, I’m telling you! Every single Goddamn one of them! You've gotta believe me!" To Read More...