I've shared this story before, a long time ago and I have new followers now, plus I'm working on the story to edit it. If you've read the story and have no interest in reading it again - with or without the improvements and commentary - please feel free to move on and ignore it.
If you've not read the story or you feel you'd like to re-read it and are perhaps curious about the comments and adjustments I'm making, please, grab a cuppa or a glass of wine, sit down, and enjoy the journey.
The cover image for Deadlier Beginnings as seen on Amazon.com Link
Finally they went in to find the boy. He was lying in the middle of a clearing. Steam was rising from his wounds as his body heat escaped. His body looked as though it was being cooked and that added to the terror.
Someone had the forethought to bring a blanket and the boy was lifted onto it. He screamed again and again as the rough fabric swaddled his wounds and it wasn’t until they got him home that they realised what his injuries were.
He looked as though he had been scored with razor-sharp knives and peeled. His face was raw and bloody; three stripes ran down from his scalp diagonally across his left eye, his nose and down. Two stripes went through his top lip and one through his bottom lip. There was a gap in the stripes where it seemed the blades skipped off his jaw, missing the skin just under it but they continued down his neck, to dig deep into the flesh of his right breast.
His arms and legs were by far the worst. He had been flayed. The scores were deeper down both legs; the blades had cut right through the muscles, to the bone. His arms were rendered useless, the flesh and muscles were slashed to ribbons and the bones were visible through the ruined flaps of skin.
Amazingly, he wasn't killed outright; he was still alive when the villagers got him back to his mother's cottage. He shouldn't have lived through the night, but he did.
His mother stayed with him, there was nothing much she could do and his screams nigh drove her mad. They were not just screams of pain; they were waking nightmares where he relived the attack over and over. There was a few moments respite after each bout and each time she checked to see if he still lived. She tried to comfort him, talking to him, singing, humming and then he would start to whimper. “No, don’t! Please leave me; I have done nothing! Wolf! WOLF!” She saw that he tried to lift his arms as though to ward off the attacker but the muscles were useless and the arms twitched but nothing more.
Her neighbours and good friends all had intentions of staying with her to help nurse him till he died, but after a few minutes of his screams, they left. They couldn't stand the tortured wails; only his mother could stay. She cleaned his wounds herself and remained by his side. She only ever told Herbert, her husband what the boy had said and Herbert only told William, and Hazel’s father.
Herbert went up to the Hall, alone, and asked to use the lord’s hunting dogs. The dogs were the same breed as Mika, from the same stock. The village has had one in residence since that time. They were huge great beasts and each of them ferocious enough to face a wolf one-to-one.
The boy died that afternoon and so later that night they all gathered on the outskirts of the wood near the rocks. There was quite a clearing there then, but it has since been allowed to overgrow to deter people from going in. They all had some sort of weapon, either a pitchfork or a staff and most had long stout torches. The lord refused to join them, he was asked if he wanted to supervise his dogs, but he told Herbert that it was his duty and his responsibility to drive the beast from the wood and to kill it. He had to kill it, not just drive it away. There was no need for him to stress that to Herbert, he wanted the beast dead for what it had done to his son, and his wife.
The dogs, the hounds were set loose and they soon started their deep 'bowf' kind of bark. A huge, vibrating boom of a bark, all six at once felt like the trees were trying to move.
The dogs were all well trained for the task; they knew what to do, even if we didn't. They stayed in a pack and didn't get too far ahead, but it was obvious that they had the scent of something. Whatever it was that they were following had figured out before long that it was in trouble. The first the men knew of it was when the dogs turned back on themselves and bowled through the men.
“We all thought the dogs were bolting and it was coming to get us. A panic startled the crowd, so we all turned the same way the dogs had and ran after them. Some of us were yelling in fear. We couldn’t have known we shouldn't have done that. The dogs knew what they had to face but we didn't. We came upon the monster suddenly, in a clearing, it was a massive wolf, bigger than any I'd ever even heard of and fishermen aren't the only ones with tales, let me tell you.” William gave a small smile, perhaps at the joke, perhaps at the memory of the night. Then he bent over in his chair and gently rubbed Mika's big head. “I don't like remembering that night. It still makes me wake up in a cold sweat at times.”
The beast was standing on its back legs, leaning forward, forelegs bent; its wicked-looking teeth glinted in the light of the full moon. The chest was like a barrel and the muscles on its legs stood out proud; drool dripped from its jaws. Its front paws were misshapen; more like damaged hands than paws and it was heavily muscled across its chest and forelegs. The fur around its maw was dark and matted, like it had recently fed.
It looked at the men and their rudimentary weapons and it lifted its eyes to the moon and howled. We were shaken to the core; some almost dropped their tools and ran but they stood their ground because they had to. The hunting dogs watched, crouched and ready and as though by instinct, Herbert gave the order to kill. The dogs leaped forward in a surge of teeth, fur and muscle and the wolf dropped its front feet to the ground, poised for the attack.
At that moment, Mika leapt up and barked his booming "BOWF!" Hazel and Ruth's mugs went up in the air, spilling their ale, William's pipe fell out of his hand; it was fortunate that he had been too preoccupied to light it. Mika's tail was whipping back and forth, nearly knocking Hazel's head off with each stroke.
Someone was rapping on the door - gentle enough so as to not waken those inside if they were abed, but just loud enough so anyone awake could hear it, which was a little too late after the enormous bark from Mika. No one inside would have been asleep after that noise.
Image 1 From Google
Doesn't portray the mother, but the picture does portray anguish for a sick child and if ever you've had to sit with a child that's ill, you'll know how dark and lonely those midnight hours can seem.
Image 2 From Google
From my research, I remember that wolves were hunted in England at around this time - possibly the wolves had all been eradicated by then. Of course, I've kept the timeline a little ambiguous, but so too is the date of the last wolf killed in England.
Image 3 Source
The werewolf I imagined came straight from the nightmares of such creatures. Anyone that has ever imagines a werewolf will have a different viewpoint, but this is close to mine.