I let myself into my brother’s room. I didn’t knock, but then, he didn’t have a door. I told him all about the table and then about the wolves and Ace. He didn’t believe me. Honestly, I hardly believed it myself and I’d lived it. “I’m changing brother-of-mine, and not the usual puberty hormone crap that Sid goes on about.”
“Mhmm.” He didn’t say much, my brother.
“I mean, that table was bolted to the floor.”
He stared at me, one eyebrow bounced a bit.
“They’re were-wolves. I didn’t imagine it. I really am stronger, faster; I can smell stuff.”
He stared at me: accepting, quiet… passive. I sniffed and smelled something that made my stomach recoil. I looked at my brother and slow horror dawned on me.
“It’s not over is it? It’s still happening to you.”
He nodded, once, slowly.
I made a decision in that moment, one that could change the face of my family and my world.
“I’m staying in your room tonight. You’re going to hide in the closet. I’m going to make him stop, forever.”
His eyes widened and his breath quickened. I could smell the beginnings of a fear sweat from him, but he nodded, once, slowly. My brother, Payton – “Payn,” I called him – would do what he was told; that I could rely on.
I waited only half an hour after lights-out was called before I started creeping up the stairs. I had never been able to protect myself, but the volcano of shame and rage that had built up pressure over all the years of suffering under the monster finally had an outlet – a direction. I moved with purpose and the beginnings of the crystal clarity I had felt only twice before – I knew I would protect my brother from the monster.
The shadows had been my friend and I was able to creep past the archway to the living room without notice. Mommy and Sid sat in the living room, television off, music playing, talking quietly. The porch light was on, washing out the redness of the twinkling Christmas lights – the only spot of brightness in the dark new moon night. Mommy was crying to “Jingle Bells”. Sid was holding her head against his chest.
I thought about stopping right then and there and confronting him, but something didn’t smell right. That spiteful and petty man – insensitive and neglectful bordering on cruel, judgmental, harsh, punitive and bigoted – held my mother tenderly and didn’t smell like the monster that had been regularly raping my brother and I. He smelt of fear.
Payn was already in the closet when I slipped into his room. He was buried under a pile of plush toys and dirty laundry. I saw him stiffen as I entered the room and waved to him in greeting. He didn’t move or acknowledge my greeting. I waved again, a little more urgently and heard him whimper at the sound of my clothes rustling. I slowly realized that only the faint glow of the twinkling Christmas lights lit the room – he couldn’t see me.
“Payn, I’m here, stay there.” I whispered.
He calmed instantly at the sound of my voice and looked in my direction. “Oh my god, they shine. Your eyes…”
“Shhh” I had heard the front door open. Angry whispers followed and the smack of fist on flesh. The draft of the door closing on well-oiled hinges pushed a familiar scent into the house. The monster was here.
I heard more muffled noises coming from the living room; things that I had missed or forgotten from all the years with my head under the pillow. Raised voices. Snatches of conversation.
“…no, you promised…”
“…weakest at the new moon, but stronger than you…”
Fist on flesh and flesh on flesh, muffled sobs and hateful laughter followed.
Minutes passed and the doorway to my old room filled to bursting with the outline of my tormentor. His naked body was every bit as large as I remembered and his voice just as grating, just as horrid.
His one gold earring hung from a tattered ear. “Where’s my little boy? Daddy needs his special toy.”
There is probably no more terrible instance of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a monster. Luke Skywalker was right to scream and cry. Years of blocked, repressed or forgotten horror flooded my brain – filled my cup to overflowing and I launched myself at my father with tooth and claw and vengeance.
It all happened in a heartbeat. Everything seemed to slow down and sharpen into hyper-focus the moment I committed to the attack. My body thrummed with adrenaline as I sprang off the bed toward the sickening shadow that filled the doorway. My hands spasmed with the sharp pain of a stubbed toe as the tips of my fingers burst with obsidian claws. My arms and legs wrapped around his chest and waist in parody of his plan; my newfound claws digging deep into the skin between his shoulder blades.
“But it’s the new moon…” His startled response was cut off as my canines sharpened and cut into my lips and then into his throat.
He tried to throw me off with the main force of his bulging biceps but I clung tenaciously, digging my claws in deeper, forcing my fingers through flesh and under the bone of his scapula. He tried to scream, but I bit down and through skin. For the second time in my life I felt a sickening slip of human skin slide down my throat and settle in my stomach. He gurgled and dropped to his knees, slowly leaning backward with my weight pressing him down. I unlaced my legs from his waist, braced my knees on his stomach and pulled with all my strength.
There is a sound that most people will never hear and those few who have, if they are of a normal temperament, wish they had not: the sound of tearing human flesh. In that final moment of vengeance I learned three things: arms are only attached to the rest of the body by a few muscles; the claws at the tips of my fingers could tear through those muscles like butter; and, I… I wasn’t really bothered by the sound.
I stepped off the body of my biological father, feet squelching in the blood soaked carpet. I looked down at him in disgust and found (much to my horror) that he had had one last moment of fun at my expense before he died. I threw his gory arms down over his groin to hide the revolting mess and stalked down the hallway toward the living room, vengeance still in my heart and mind.
The anger drained out of me as soon as I passed the archway into our family room. Sid had a bloody mouth and was holding an ice pack to the side of my mother’s head. I finally understood why he punished any weakness I had displayed; it reflected his own failure, his own cowardice. I think my brain shorted out at that revelation. Everything that had happened, all the things that I thought I knew, the real face of the monster and what I had done to him… what I was becoming.
I stared in horror at the bloody claws attached where my fingers were supposed to be and then collapsed in a dead faint.