Blood Moon: The Morning After
By Stephen Mellor
It is very much like waking up with a hangover. You know how it feels the morning after a heavy drinking session, when your mouth is dry and your head is pounding. It’s very much like that. The only difference, is that I feel completely normal.
I thrust my arm out of the duvet and bring my hand crashing down on the alarm clock that is signalling 7 AM. It’s always like this, the morning after a full moon. Just a few hours before you were a different animal entirely and now your limbs feel heavy, awkward and backwards. I swing my legs out of the bed, bracing myself for what is to come. It seems like gravity is pushing down on my body harder than ever before. You have to understand, as a wolf I am at the top of my power, able to leap over fences and cars. With the added powers that the Blood Moon gave me I was as agile as a cat and a strong as an ox. Returning to my human form does nothing but remind me of how fragile we are.
I killed a man last night.
I don’t know what it is about death, but it never seems quite as important when it happening to somebody else. I mean, I don’t want to kill. It’s not me doing it anyway. I have no control over myself as a wolf just as the Wolf has no control over me as a human. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I’m not sure whether I’m just trying to justify what I do in the name of hunger.
I stand and the room spins around me. This has happened before and will no doubt happen again. Right now what I need is some fresh air so I cross to the window, open it up, stick my head out and vomit copiously. It’s at this point I truly understand why living in a tenth story flat with a balcony in central London is so highly sought-after. At least you don’t have to deal with the vomit from floors one to nine.
As I close the window I noticed something on my hands. It’s blood. That’s not unnatural the day after transformation. I often come back home coated in the stuff and, even though all the fur seems to have disappeared by the end of the night, the blood still remains. I suppose that is something I should be pleased about. I’m not quite sure how I would cope if I had to dispose of all of the fur from a large wolf three times a month.
I make it to the kitchen before the dizziness comes again. I don’t think there is anything left inside me to bring up, so I am a little bit more cavalier when I stand my ground and wait for the room to stay still. I suddenly wonder what was in the vomit. I know that might sound quite macabre, but this isn’t the first time that my wolf has eaten something that my human can’t digest. Thoughts of passers-by slipping in the liquid only to notice an undigested finger laying at their feet swim through my consciousness. Oh well, probably nobody saw me anyway.
My flat is not quite as flat as calling it a flat makes it sound. I suppose it’s more like a studio apartment. I dare not call it that in case the landlord raises my rent. I’m in central London, like I said, and very lucky to have found a place that doesn’t seem to adjusted its prices since the 80s. Upstairs, I make my way to the bathroom door and open it.
I close it again.
I’m not quite sure what I’ve just seen. Over the years, I have seen some things that are the stuff of nightmares but they have largely been when I am transformed and never seem to follow me home. Opening the door slowly, I peer inside the room. There is blood on the carpet. There is a lot of blood on the carpet. It’s up the walls as well and as I turn my head to the small bath and shower unit in the corner I can see where it’s all come from.
I don’t remember being the Wolf. Wolves remember things differently than men do. I can remember odd shapes, smells, the feel of the wind as it whistles past my ears but I couldn’t really tell you in what order things happened last night. You do remember who you kill though. If anything, they come back to haunt me the following day. I think, no… I know, there was an old couple last night. The Blood Moon is different, you see. The Blood Moon is about the hunt but the hunt for a specific prey. You don’t kill unless something is in your path. The woman in front of me, naked with her hands tied together unstrung up around the shower head, is not someone I have ever seen before.
My heart skips a beat. I don’t know what to do in the circumstances. I mean, who does? Should I call the police? Surely, it would look incredibly bad if I were to call them now? I’m sure they would think that, because my door is locked and I am so far up, I must have been the killer and I secretly want to repent.
I start to panic.
I run back to the stairs before turning around, seeing the door and then running back to it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been incredibly stressed. You know, when your mind feels so full that you can’t distinguish one thought from another? Well, that’s how I feel as I stand by the open bathroom door, looking at the corpse in front of me and the blood splattered room. It’s all I can see, all I can think about. My heart is racing and a new wave of nausea sweeps through my body.
There’s a knock at the door.
The knock rings through the apartment and shakes me out of my morbid revelry. I almost slammed the bathroom door in my haste to get back to normality and raced down the stairs to the front door.
“Hello there, Mr Pritchard is it?”
“How did you know my name?” The words come from my mouth before I really have time to take in the man in front of me. The man with a parcel. The man in a UPS uniform.
“I have a delivery for you.” He stands about 5 foot six. He has dark hair and he is slightly chubby. I think I could take him if I had to… I’m not sure where that thought came from. Perhaps it’s a residual part of the Wolf.
He looks at me and proffers the parcel in his hands.
“Thank you,” I say and grab the parcel from him closing the door behind me.
There’s a knock at the door.
“Sorry, sorry, you want me to sign for something… Or something?” I open the door again. The man is still standing there. I’m not quite sure why this surprises me.
“If you could Sir, only it’s for the paperwork to see.”
I think I might have got away with it. I’m sure this time in the morning he meets a lot of people who are dishevelled, confused and smelly. He hands me his digital signature thingy. A PDA, I think they’re called. I take it and looked down at my hands to sign. He looks down at my hands, presumably to see me sign. They are covered in blood.
“Nice weather we’re having to the time of year, isn’t it?” I finish signing my name and hand the man my signature on a PDA which is now covered in blood. There really is a lot of blood. I think it must have come from the bathroom because I don’t remember so much blood being on my hands…
“Is everything all right, sir?”
Maybe I haven’t got away with it.
“Yes I… I cut myself shaving,” I say to the UPS delivery man. “Thanks for the parcel, goodbye.” I push the door shut in his face. A near-perfect handprint in A Negative is left behind.
So, I have three choices. I can hope that the UPS guy doesn’t call the police, which is quite unlikely since I told him that I had come myself shaving and yet there wasn’t a mark on my face. Besides, had I actually cut myself shaving I probably would have died from the amount of blood loss I would have suffered. I mean, what was I shaving with, a hedge trimmer?
Option two is to go after the UPS guy, hope that I could catch up with him and stop him from talking to the police. I am well aware that might involve some sort of bludgeoning and, despite certain nightly pursuits, I’m actually not a very violent guy. In fact, before I was bitten I would faint at the sight of blood. That’s one of the things I had to learn to get used to very quickly. So, option two is probably out.
Option three doesn’t look much better. I would have to clean the apartment of all traces of me, and the dead girl hanging in my shower, hide the body and go on the run. I don’t like that idea at all. If only I could make an option four. Maybe I could just run away? But people know who I am. I have a job, I have a family. It would mean leaving them all behind.
I sit down after washing my hands, fingers still slightly damp, and start to open my package. I’m not quite sure who has sent me anything, I certainly didn’t ask for anything but this wouldn’t be the first time that work has overnighted some designs to me. I’m an architect, you see. I spend my days drawing buildings that other people are going to make.
You can tell a lot about somebody by what they played with when they were a kid. If they play with Lego, they’re going into the construction industry. Either that, or advertising. I was a Meccano kid. It was the structures underneath that interested me, the moving parts, the way it really works and not the way it looks outside. I’m actually quite bright, which is an odd thing to say when you consider I have no idea how the dead woman got into my bathroom.
The package contains documents. They look really, really old. This isn’t from work. Actually, I’m not entirely sure where it is from I don’t really have time to take a look at them now. I leave them on the coffee table and head upstairs again. This time I give the bathroom a wide berth but I do want to collect some clothes from the walk-in closet and pack a bag before the police arrive.
I’m not quite sure how long it takes for the police to arrive after somebody has telephoned them. I seem to remember it takes quite a long time and I think I might have about half an hour, although perhaps if a hysterical UPS delivery man were the phone up and say there was a man covered in blood at his last call, they might just make it a priority.
I select a weeks worth of clothes. T-shirts, jeans, shirts, nothing fancy But all bundled into my old, scratched leather suitcase. This thing really has seen better days but then, since college and the accident, its seen a lot more travel than a suitcase of its age should.
Do you want to know what happened? Well, I can’t really remember. I call it the accident although perhaps it was deliberate. It was about 12 years ago and I was finishing college, in my early 20s, when we all decided to go on a backpacking weekend in the Brecon Beacons. I’ve never liked Wales, it’s far too rainy there for me. I would be much more at home with the beaches of Spain, despite that being taken over with Club 18 to 30 holidays, clubs and English theme pubs. I went because my girlfriend wanted to. She said it wouldn’t kill me. She’s dead now. She died in the Brecon Beacons. I wish she hadn’t died. I never got to say… “I told you so.”
It was late at night on our first evening camping when we heard it. At first it sounded like the tortured cry of a lonely animal. All too soon we realised the creature wasn’t alone as echoing barks and howls sprang up all around in it’s support.
You see, that night was a Blood Moon and it turned out we had pitched our tent in the centre of what was to be a battle between good and evil. So, I woke up in the dead of night to find two packs of animals standing either side of our tent with blood on their minds. I was very lucky, the one pack leader attacked the other and I just happened to be in the middle. I was bitten, knocked to the ground, unconscious but unharmed. When I woke it was the morning and the leader of the pack had been killed. I know now that was the last year the Blood Pack won. The dead body of the pack leader had landed on top of me and, as I struggled to get free of it, I noticed that it was half transformed, part wolf and part man. All around me was devastation. The small camp of grouped tents were completely flattened, ripped and destroyed. At first I didn’t see any sign of the other people we been with. It was only after searching around I found severed limbs. Fingers and feet seem to have been left behind. Presumably, the leather shoes we’d all been wearing and the lack of meat to be had was why the Wolves had left them behind.
I knew when I found my Mary’s hand. It still had on it the ring I bought for her.
I am vaguely aware of a banging sound and suddenly realise that I have been in here for far too long. Fists thump at the door and I can hear a muffled voice shouting through it.
“This is the police, Mr Pritchard. We just have a few questions for you.”
Again, a moment of indecisiveness as I nearly go down to open the door. Despite everything I have seen in my years of being a mythical creature, that life doesn’t encroach into my normal world and all of a sudden I don’t know what to do. I’m ten stories up with a dead woman and a blood covered bathroom and the police knocking at my door. I rush downstairs with my suitcase in my hands. Dammit, I am still undressed. I stopped briefly as there is a T-shirt and jeans thrown over one of the chairs in the open plan living space. A pull them on, and my shoes and jacket, grab my wallet and keys and head to the balcony. Looking down I can see a police car outside and two officers standing by it. God forbid they had allowed me that avenue of escape.
Again, I feel my mind racing, blocked by the closing opportunities of escape and all to aware that my fate has become sealed.
It is cold and windy ten floors off the street. Not nearly as bad, of course, as the top of a skyscraper but I certainly wouldn’t want to be up here if I didn’t have to. My room has a little balcony outside just large enough for me and a small selection of flowers. It’s not much, but I’m hoping it will give me a foothold as I climb on to the ledge. The knocking at the door becomes silent and I realise what is about to happen before it does. On the ground below, the constables are chatting away and don’t seem to notice the possibly suicidal man attempting to be Spiderman above them.
When the first crash comes, and probably because my place isn’t all that big, it seems to shake the whole building. Had I been any higher I almost certainly would have fallen off. I was ready for the second crash and didn’t lose my footing. The door, however, lost its hinges and I heard feet stumbling into the apartment as I launched myself off the balcony. There was only one more floor above me and their own balcony nearly in reaching distance anyway. My hands clamped onto the concrete edge and I was able to adjust my grip enough to start pulling me up as I saw officers running to my window, desperately trying to grab at my ankles and stop me from escaping.
I can climb. Not very well, but I’ve been to one of those walls. I know the basics at least, and my upper body strength isn’t bad, if I do say so myself. It’s lucky that’s the case otherwise I don’t think I could pull myself onto this ledge. My case hangs limply from my wrist dragging my left arm down but I have enough momentum here to pull my right leg up onto the ledge and wedge it between the bars. The policemen below have already left, presumably to head up to the other flat, but there is something they don’t know. I am the highest flat in this building. The room above me used to be an attic space and although the landlord started to convert it he was denied planning permission and so it only ever been half finished. That means it still has the fire escape in the far wall. It takes me a full minute to pull myself over the rail. My PE Teacher would be turning in his grave right now, even if he was still alive.
The door up here was much stronger than those in the apartments and it is taking the police a little longer to break through this one. I know the landlord keeps things up here that he doesn’t want people snooping around in. Quite frankly, I’ve never really wanted to find out what. It’s none of my business. I race over to the far side of the room where I know the fire escape is. They won’t know about this. They won’t know about this because the landlord had blocked up the entrance a few years ago. Some kids had been getting in and he was worried they would make it up to the apartments or vandalise something. The door is still visible in the apartment but the gateway, that used to lead out on to the street, has been replaced with a secret door, made to look like a wall. If you ask me, it’s all very paranoid but there you go.
As I hear the door give way behind me I dash through the fire escape door, pushing it shut and running down the black metal steps to Freedom.
There are bushes and trees as I get to the bottom and I know the false door the landlord put in would be found behind them. You can’t see this part of the backyard from the top of the staircase. I run in the general direction of the door and slam into the wall in front of me, franticly pushing and scratching at the brick’s to find the one that is going to swing open.
I find the brick.
The police have made it to the bottom of the stairs.
I pull the brick in the wall swings away, like something out of a James Bond movie.
The police have reached the edge of the trees.
I scrabble at the brickwork door, desperately trying to grip the edges with my fingernails in order to pull it shut. I make it most of the way.
The police are nearing the wall.
I feel a click and the door becomes a wall once more.
The police have reached the door, but they don’t know how to open it like I did.
I don’t know where I’m going to, or who I can trust. I don’t know who the woman in my bathroom was, whether it is connected with me as a wolf for the Blood Moon and I don’t know how much the police knows about me. Buy now they will be finding the dead body in my bathroom. If they looked through my things, they may think that I am a raving madman. I keep a diary. This is probably a very bad idea As I have mentioned the Wolf on more than one occasion on that sort of thing will get you locked up even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
Ahead of me I hear a howl. Out of instinct, or perhaps out of desperation, I follow it.
It is 28 days until the next full moon.
To be continued…