by Patrick Starks

In a small town where every one knew everyone, something about it still felt strange and suspicious; as if it was haunted… For instance, me and my three best friends were going on a camping trip on the night where it was said that it would be a full moon, but none of us had really given it a thought seeing how we’d always gotten a full moon. Little did we know, that that particular full moon we were gazing at would be the one thing that would change our lives.
  On that night the rain had poured harder than it had ever done. It was as if the gods or god himself were warning us to leave and go back home before it was too late, but it would already appear that we were too late.  Although, as time went on everyone except for me would be completely dead asleep,  in their tents, but I couldn’t sleep. Not even for a few minutes.
 All of the howling, all if the hooting, all the frogs crocking. It was enough to drive me insane. You could say I have always been a city boy, But on  that night was the first night I had ever gone camping, and not even my parents knew about it. It most likely would have made them go more than insane but scorched earth on everyone who if ever came up missing.

  NeNevertheless, ager as I was I couldn’t stand being cooped up in a small tent any longer. I needed fresh air. And so, I stepped out of my tent and beamed my flashlight around, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing seeing how it made me stand out better than whatever was out there. While I continued to look around I would find a strange mark on a tree. It couldn’t have been a Grizzly bears. I know that I’m not an outdoorsman or some Park Ranger, but It was way too big for that fall in line with a Grizzly bear. Not even the Polar bear could have contested to what I was looking at. It was godly. As I hd gotten closer to it I could see that the cut was deeper than what I imagined. I was surprised to even see the tree still standing. It looked like a lumberjack was trying to cut it down, but couldn’t cut the mustard to bring the tree down. Deep down I wanted to say it was some sort of Dinosaur maybe, but that would just be nonsense.

Nevertheless, I turned back around to my tent, but it was gone as well as everyone else, along with their tents. All of my friends… All gone… I called out for their names; Bryan, Johnas and Deun, but nothing was ever said back. I walked over to the space where all of our tents originally sat. I was hallucinating… Everything was in fact, gone.  Even the fire pit that Bryan had built. It was as if we were never there; as if we had never gather up wood or the rocks. But thankfully there was one clue, something that would give me a little peace of mind. It was a box of matches; Johnnas’s box of matches, but they were empty which made no sense seeing how we never got the chance to use them on the first place.
Looking closer at the ground I then realized why the box was empty.  From the box of matches was a trail of matches that led somewhere.

“Good shit Johnas,” I said to myself.

My best bet was that the matches were leading to wherever they were being taken to. Whatever it was that made the mark on that tree assumed was the one doing all of this. I needed to be quick.  For every step that I had taken I feared the worst. From the big streak in the mud that followed along the path of  matches it looked like my friends might had been drug, which made me wonder if they were now dead or alive.  But one thing was for certain, and that was that Johnas was still alive. \Just a few more minutes of walking I would finally be at the end of matches, and next to the last acth would be another clue; Dean’s cassette player.  I reached down to pick it up and it would still be playing. I did my best to dry off all of the mud that it had been soaked in. around. Ironically there would be a song that would be playing by Madonna “The Groove.”
I mean, it was ridiculous. The last time I head that song it was when I was with my… You know what, forget about what I just said. That was years ago.

When I took the headphone’s I could hear silent grunts from behind. Sounded like some was squirming to get free.I turned around and all I could see was Johnas and Dean both tied to a tree with their shirts ripped off off of them only to be tied around their mouths to keep them silent, but there was no sign of Bryan… Maybe he was the first one to be taken…
Man, we were we in deep shit.
Bushes in the background from behind Johnas and Deun swayed as though the wind was coming straight from the Ocean. I beamed my flashlight around again to see what might have been lurking around us but the batteries were getting so low that the light was beginning to fade out like a distant lighthouse in the fog.
 There would then be a a loud howl that would echo the night sky. It sounded like a wolf, but the mark on the tree… How could it be a wolf.
 “You shouldn’t have come…” said a raspy voice.
I looked back over to Johnas and Dean and they would be squirming around like a worms on a fish hook. They looked hilarious, which I know is childish and not being a good friend, but I told myself that no matter how serious the situation was they would definitely hear that part of the story for years from me.
“Who’s there? What do you want?” I asked, while my flashlight was still fading out by the seconds. I was running out of time.
“Go! Leave!” Shouted the voice, and they would shout so loud that all of the Owls that still hooted would finally fly off to a place where they couldn’t annoy people. But they were the least of our concerns.
Before I could even think of what to do next the light to the flashlight would die out. I would officially be in complete darkness. Out of all that I had heard on that it would now be nothing but silence.

In the darkness I stood, yellow glowing eyes would disappear and then reappear every few seconds, and with those eyes would come heavy breathing. It was  a sound of anxiousness, rather than exhaustion.
“You should have left when you had the chance Tyler…” said the Voice.
“You weren’t supposed to be here. It was just supposed to be the three of us.”
How did it know my name?
From what I was hearing it was easy to believe that maybe what tied up Johnas and Dean was possibly Bryan, excuse me, Brye, but Brye wasn’t the violent type. At least that’s not what we all thought. Slowly but surely the glowing eyes that lingered in the background would be revealed. Sharp teeth and long gorilla arms stood before me, all covered in a thick black fur, but this thing wasn’t Brye, but someone else. Although, I still figured to ask if it was Brye, as I still didn’t know where he was.
“Br… Brye… I stuttered.
The beast chortled and then sighed.
“What an idiot… Maybe you do belong with the rest of them after all,” said the Beast.
“This is the entire reason we din’t work… I mean, you should go before things get too ugly here. Actually, I lied. I guess I’ll have to take you to.”

I don’t know what it was but I just panicked… Before I even realized it I was running for dear life in the opposite direction. I felt awful. Leaving Johnas and Dean behind… What kind of friend was I leaving them hanging behind like that? And Brye… I could only imagine where he hell he was, but no matter the cost I still ran like hell anyways and the beast would be on my heels every step of the way. Every tree that the beast passed by it would slash it into two, and for everyone that had fallen chills tickled  the back of my neck. It was only until the beast said something I hadn’t heard in a long time that would make me stop in my tracks.
“I still have the bracelet with the green stones…” said the beast, but this time its voice was lighter.
My heart was already pounding from the fear of what might happen when the beast caught me, but it didn’t beat any faster at all the closer it approached me.  There was only one person that knew about that bracelet. Well, there were two. My mom, and my ex-girlfriend Madonna who we all called M.  And no, she wasn’t THE Madonna, but she sure did look a lot like her. By all the Madonna albums that hung around her parents place, one could even say they were THE Madonna’s greatest fans, but still, my Madonna, well, what used to be couldn’t hit one single note singing. But all of that was besides the point. I remembered I had given M the bracelet last.
Then again, was the beast behind me really the woman I used to love?
The beast smiled.
“So, you finally get to see me for what I really am?”
“Wart are you talking about? This isn’t you M. What happened to you? I mean, one day we seemed like we were going to live together and get married, and then you just flipped…. I lost you, and wasn’t the first time.  You always fade out with no explanation and then come back. I’m sick of the games M. You’ve gone mad man…  And my friends, what do they have to do with any of this?”
M remained silent.

It was then I witnessed something strange. Something  I felt I only ever saw in movies. All of the fur that covered M would shed off her body layer by layer until nothing but her naked body would be revealed. What used to be an elongated face, now begin to push back into her skull; back to the beauty I had alway known her for; beautiful green eyes and all, that of which left me in awe.
  There it was… the woman I refused to believe that I still loved, standing under the moonlight confused of who she was, of what she was even. Doing.
“M what happened to you?”
“Everything… After you left everything just ended. What I thought that I really needed wasn’t really what I needed… It was you, but about time I realized that I it was too late. That was when this happened to me.”
“But how? M, I don’t understand… How did this happened to you?”

M then grabbed the wrist of her left arm where the bracelet still was.
“The bracelets… I think they have cursed me for what I did…” said M, with tears expelling from her eyes.
“Tyler, I lied. I left you because there was someone else. I dint feel loved. You always felt so damn depressed, like you didn’t want to be around me. And so, I met Bryan, excuse me Brye, and well… things happened. This happens to me every full moon and only in the moonlight can I be seen. Just a naked body. It feels like Karma is shaming me. Nothing but dark mess and I can only be seen in a spotlight where I can no longer hold the truth. The fucking Irony.”

In that moment somehow the scene had shifted. What was a brightly casted down moon on M’s soft figure would now be drowned back into darkness, but this time I would not see only her glowing eyes but another’s. The eyes were large and glowed of a crystal blue, somewhat similar to what the moon had casted prior. It was almost as the eyes had absorbed the light somehow.  But as the wind continued to brush against the trees, the clouds would be moved as well, once again revealing the moon.

 There M still stood, but now covered with a familiar coat. In fact, a coat that Brye had worn every day.
“Well, well. So, you’ve made it this far huh? You no Tyler it wasn’t supposed to be like this. You weren’t even supposed to be here or even know about this. I’ve always liked you man, but you just ran’t the loving kind. So, you see, I had to be the better man and step up to the plate, and  swung, and oh I hit some homers.”
I was speechless.
“You bastard…”
M stood shivering like a child that had just seen a ghost, next to her Brye stood in humanly form but with a confidence I had never seen from him. Unlike M, it was obvious that all innocents of him had been stripped. I had to be on my toes for nothing good was to come from it. Not at this stage.
“Why Bryan?”
Brye laughed at the sight of my watery eyes.
”What do you mean why? Isn’t it obvious. Jesus take a look at her man, she could very well be the reincarnation for Freya herself. Your an idiot for letting such a woman go.  
I said nothing. All I could think of is what I would do next if it came down to me having to take the Bryan down, which wasn’t too much to think about. The question was what would M do?

Was she on my side or his? Did she truly love me? Or was it all crap?

M then spit to the ground where Bryans foot was. Before I had even realized it, Bryan had slapped M so hard that she slid ten feet out until she’d hit a tree. I guess it was what they meant by slapping someone into next week. Nevertheless, M was completely unconscious.
I really didn’t know what it was that I was fighting for. Could’ve been survival or even for love, but one thing I knew that I could not allow and that was Bryan hitting a woman.
 Especially if that woman was my… M

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