Submitted by: Jay Rohr

From Past to Present Moon

One day I woke up, and he was gone. Always told people Mom and I had no idea why he left, but that's only a half truth. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even say he left on account of it being more like he disappeared. Disappeared into the woods out back of the house. And some might not think it kind to say, but I was glad when he left

Parents generally don't assume their kids, of a certain age, can tell what goes on inside a home. That might be true if vents didn't carry conversations from other rooms, and children weren't know for stashing themselves in small secret spaces. Then there's those nights where it isn't so dark, and you see things no one wants to believe is real.


Coming to, some kind of amnesia blocked the last few minutes out of his mind. Someone was patting him with a jacket. Whoever it was kept talking in a frantic manner. However, without the last few moments in mind none of what came out made any sense.

"Dammit Paul. Waited too long, too long. Shoulda tossed it when I said. What the hell were you thinkin'? Too long, too long."

Realizing he was flat on his back, Paul Miller sat up. At least, he tried too. The person patting him down placed a restraining hand firmly on his chest.

"You listen to old Zak, ya hear. Lie still and I'll get the car."

"Zak?" Paul croaked out. Blurring recollections were climbing back into his memory. Fragmentary images, recalled out of order, made Paul remember a cloud of fire blooming in front of him.

"What is it bud?" Zak leaned in close, laying his coat over his friend.

"I can't feel my face."

Zak gingerly squeezed Paul's shoulder, "I'ma get the car. Lie quiet."

As Zak hurried off, whispering prayers, Paul reached a hand up to feel his own face. His fingertips pressed into a spongy mass that felt slick and loose. Pulling his hand back, he saw his fingers covered with what looked like melted cheese. It took a moment for his brain to realize what he didn't want to know. Once it did, Paul started to shiver.

It all came back in a wash. He, Zak, Steve, and Allen; drunk thinking and a plan of action; a sense of civic duty; Molotov cocktails; being transfixed by a pair of eyes; a throw too late that now had his face melting off.

He could hear the roar of Zak's engine. The '92 Camaro growled as it raced back to where Paul lay. But it didn't growl alone.

Turning his head, Paul saw a naked man lying face down in the dirt. He couldn't have been more than an arm's length away. A deep guttural sound that rivaled the engine came pouring out of him as he tried to stand up. Paul could see a dripping line of blood welling out of a neat hole in the man's chest. He managed to push himself onto his knees but that was it. Breathing heavily, he locked eyes with Paul.

"I won't forget you," he snarled before falling backwards.


Hospitals don't make good coffee, but they do know how to make it strong. Sheriff Charles Connally took a sip from the Styrofoam cup and winced. Even so, he could already feel it speeding up his blood He needed to be asleep, but he had to be awake. When men turn up dead, looking like they fought a lawn mower, it's no surprise there'll be an investigation.

Strolling past the nurse's station, Connally waved to the ladies on duty. None of them had to be asked, they all knew what he wanted to know.

One nurse pointed down the hall saying, "Fourth door on your right."

"Thank you," Connally tipped the brim of his baseball cap.

Stepping to the appropriate door, he paused to listen for voices. Connally was the kind of man who planned a barbeque down to the last toothpick. He didn't like walking into a situation without some idea what to expect, and now was the time to be catching people off guard.

When he heard no voices, he gently knocked on the door, pushing it open as he did so. Stepping inside, he saw a slender young woman wiping her face clean of tears. She took a moment to fix her hair and straighten her clothes before waving him into the room.

"How's he doing Emily?" Connally asked.

Emily seated herself at the foot of the bed, "He's doing fine."

"As well as can be expected," Paul said. He shifted and pressed a switch to incline the bed. Rising up, he glanced over at the sheriff, "You seen Zak?"

"Already talked to him. Now I just want to hear from you. If your feeling up to it." Connally closed the door. He stepped over to stand beside the bed. Folding his arms across his chest, he stared down at Paul. Even wrapped in bandages he still looked a mess. Splotches of red were already soaking through the white. Paul hadn't been wrapped up tight, so edges of his burns peaked out to hint at their extent. Connally tried not to stare but had little success.


"Yeah, Paul." Emily rose to her feat. She blinked, spilling a few teardrops.

"Can you give us a few?" Paul smiled with the unburned side of his face. Even on a morphine drip it hurt too much to move the other side.

"Sure, baby. I'll just be right outside?" Emily kissed her hand and touched his leg. Before the door closed, she looked back him. A weak smile quivered across her lips.

"Good woman." Connally said, pulling over a chair

"How's that?" Paul asked.

"Well, I've seen guys worse off than you, and by that I mean dying and all, who didn't get a visit from their ladies." Connally grunted as he sat down. It felt good to sit. Almost too good. Feeling his eyelids gaining weight, he sipped his coffee for another jolt.

Paul shrugged, "I suppose that has all to do with how good a man is to his girl."

"I got proof that such ain't so," Connally shook his head.

Burrowing back into the mattress, Paul raised an eyebrow, "I've heard there's no accounting for taste."

"Indeed," Connally nodded. Taking another sip, he adjusted his cap.

"New caps in?" Paul asked with little interest. He knew he was just stalling, but every second he didn't talk about tonight was a good one.

Connally leaned forward, placing an elbow on his knee, "Yep. Just in case no one already knew." The sheriff tapped the embroidered inscription on the cap. It read, Forested Hills Softball League '04.

"You think there's someone you didn't tell?" Paul chuckled.

"You never know," Connally leaned back in his seat, cradling the cup in his lap.

"No, indeed. You never know." Paul's eyes gained a glaze, while he stared off into space. Almost involuntarily, he cast a glance out the window. He had a beautiful view of the road leading out of town, into the woods.

Connally sighed, "So, I don't want to seem heartless, but we should really get into this thing."

"Yeah, I guess we should."


Our town isn't small, but it ain't big. I guess one would be inclined to think of it as middle sized. If nothing else, we're big enough to be on the map and have our own Walmart. What I'm trying to say is that, when Pops up and vanished it didn't take long for all those about to find out.

I can't say as I blame anyone. It was good gossip after all. People had been speculating about Pop for awhile, but they were careful to keep quiet. Sometimes you might hear a few folks between aisles at the store, or come round a corner and a group of old ladies shuts up like a buncha traps. It bothers a person till the rumor mill cranks out a different tale. Then you enjoy not being the center of attention, maybe even get on the bandwagon.

The fact of the matter is all the folks in town had was assumption. None of them knew a damn thing about a damn thing. I still remember when Pops come home one night, twitching and sweating bullets. Nasty looking gashes on one arm. His face looked how I figured a person's might if they saw the devil. I recall my Mom being relieved at first - cuz he was late getting back from the river, fishing - then getting doubly worried at the sight of him. As far as I know he never spoke a word of what happened. But that's when he started getting strange.


Paul had Sheriff Connally pour him a glass of water before he started talking. Connally handed him the cup then took up his seat beside the bed. Paul took a long drink. The water was cool and kept the dry out of his mouth. However, it didn't feel refreshing. He still felt warm. The thought made him shiver.

"Cold?" Connally asked.

"Water's cold," Paul replied, his voice flat and monotone.

The sheriff set his cup on the floor and removed a small tape recorder from his pants pocket, "You mind?"

Paul sucked a breath through his teeth, "I suppose not."

"Well, all right then." Connally switched on the recorder and laid it on the bed, "Sheriff Charles Connally, interviewing Paul Miller, November 18, 2005. Mr. Miller, you can start anytime you want."

With a sigh and a shrug Paul began, "No time like the present. Zak, Allen, Steve, and myself were all out earlier. We were having drinks over at Done by Dawn. Ya know, Sam Campbell's place. Anyhow, Allen was late joining me and the other guys. He comes running in, orders a shot all fierce and hammers it. And when I say fierce, I mean, smacking the bar, yelling for it, and this is all when he first comes in.

"So he spies us in the corner and runs over. Steve gets him calm, and he tells us that he's just been in a fight with that stranger who just blew into town."

Connally interrupted, "A. J. Williams."

"Yeah, I guess that's his name."

"The man that was shot."

Paul avoided the sheriff's stare, "Like I was saying, Allen starts telling how he got a rag doll beatin' from this guy, Williams. Just tossed around, and I mean, Allen looked like a team of dudes had run over him. Of course, we asked why it all happened.. He says this Williams started the fight out front of the 7/11. Allen comes out after buying smokes, and there's Williams smelling around his car."

Connally cut in again, "I want to ask about that."

" 'Bout what?"

"Zak said it the same way. What do you mean 'smelling around'?"

Paul shook his head, "Believe what you want, but we mean he was literally smelling 'n' sniffin' round Allen's car. When Allen comes over, he asks if Williams needs a hand with anything. The freak just starts in asking where I am?"

While Paul paused to take a sip, Connally slipped in a few cents, "That fits with Zak's story so far. I take it then the three of you got on the subject of Williams?"

Paul scratched an itch on his neck, where the gauze rubbed him oddly, "We got talkin', the bar got talkin', everybody was talkin'. And all in all it came down that this Williams was a strange one. Few of anyone actually met him met him, ya know what I mean. The only thing anyone knows for sure is he's living out in the woods by the river, and some folks say he's been asking for me. Stalking around places I been recently and what not."

"Did you know this man from somewhere else?" Connally inquired.

"Absolutely not. Williams could be a fake name, but I don't forget faces. I don't know this guy, but he seems to want to know me."

Connally knit his eyebrows together, "So how did talking escalate to what happened?"

Paul held up a hand, "I'm gettin' to it. Josh Cheever comes in, puts himself in the conversation. He tells how he's comin' back from the river, fly fishing, and by the side of the road he sees Williams eating a deer raw. Bare hands and teeth, that's it, just going at it.

"Naturally we're drinkin' more. Night wears on. Steve says aloud what we all got to thinking, 'This guy needs to be run out of town.' Ya know, for the public good. So we pile into Zak's Camaro and head down to the river."

"And in order to accomplish this, you all made a few Molotov cocktails?" Connally crossed his arms over his chest. Zak had been reluctant to explain that aspect. Now Paul seemed to be sweating over the question.

Swallowing hard, Paul said, "Those were already in Zak's trunk. He and I like to go out by the quarry, light 'em, and toss 'em over the edge. Sometimes we shoot a few rounds so they blow on the way down. That's why there was a .45 in the glove box."

"That explains that," Connally's voice had the air of a disapproving father. He couldn't help but let a small chuckle slip out, "We'll put all that by the side for now. Cut right to meeting Williams. You found him, things got out of hand, tell me why."


I woke up late one night. There was a noise out in the backyard. I never heard a sound like that before, and I hoped I'd never hear it again. Though it seems hope has let me down. Whatever, that's not on topic. Some things you just can't see coming.

It was a blended noise. If you could overlap a man groaning with a dog howling, you'd get some sense of what it sounded like. Seeing as I could see out in the backyard from my room, I looked out the window to try and spy the cause of it.

I wish I'd never done that. I doubt much would have changed without having seen it happening, but there's not much I can do about that now. Ya know how they say ignorance is bliss? I want a toucha that bliss. I want to be ignorant of my Pops, busting out of his skin, and changing into a wolf.


Paul continued, "We started simple enough. Just acting like hardasses, trying to scare him. Nothing big. Alla sudden the wind shifts. I remember that, cuz that set him off. He points at me and starts yelling and growling. And I mean real growling, closest I ever heard a man sound like a dog. Big dog." Paul stared off, lost in the memory of the sound. His attention came back when the sheriff asked what Williams said. Rubbing under his chin, Paul shifted uncomfortably, "He said he'd been looking for me since he'd killed my father."

Connally blinked, "You're certain of that."

"Oh yeah." Paul looked the sheriff straight in the eye, "That's a close quote. Said my Pops and I had the same scent. Lil different but close enough. Williams claimed Pops had bit some kinda curse into his blood. Now he was getting rid of all of Pops' bloodline to be safe... and get back at him."

Connally crossed his legs. Downing the last of his coffee he asked, "What happened next?"

"He came at us. Plowed right over Zak, tossed Allen and Steve like they weren't nothing, and grabs a hold of me. I tried to fight him off, but I might as well of been fighting a truck." Paul shivered, "Allen and Steve come up from behind and wrestled him off me. While they were fightin' Zak and me went in the car for some weapons. He got the gun, and I got the Molotovs. I'm lighting mine up on the way back over and I hear this sound....."

Paul trailed off, halted by the memory of his father and Williams making the same sound.

"What kind of sound?" Connally probed. Zak had mentioned a strange sort of howl but hadn't gone into much detail.

"Like a blend of a man yelling and a wolf howling." Paul glanced at the sheriff, suspecting that Connally was measuring him for a straitjacket. All the man did was urge Paul to continue.

"We got back, and mind you it was dark, but Williams looked like he was changing. Growing bigger, busting outta his clothes, seemed to get claws, and I swear I saw some big old teeth. Now I won't say that he was becoming an animal, mostly on account of how crazy it sounds, but that's what it looked like. Anyhow.....

"Allen was already down. Zak and I got back in time to see Williams rip Steve's gut open. Zak was yelling for me to throw the Molotov, but I couldn't stop staring at Williams. He and I kinda locked eyes. Well, I finally realize what I'm holding, but I threw it too late. It blew up in my face and that's about the last I remember."

Connally nodded, "After that, Zak shot Williams in the chest which ended the whole fight. We've got Williams on ice down at the morgue, so I wouldn't worry about him. In the meanwhile, I'm going to check on a few details, but I think you can rest easy. For the time being, it looks like self-defense."

"Thanks Chuck." Paul pressed a button, reclining the bed flat again.

The sheriff collected the recorder then stepped outside, closing the door softly. Emily got to her feet. She'd been sitting next to the door, waiting for the two to finish talking. Connally placed a hand on her shoulder, leading her over to the nurse's station.

"Don't worry about anything, Em. I don't plan on charging him with anything."

Emily breathed a sigh of relief, "I'm glad to hear it. Although, that's almost the least of our concerns." She glanced back at the door to Paul's room. Reaching up, she rubbed her shoulders.

Connally cleared his throat to make sure he had her attention, "He's going to have a little trouble accepting just what happened, but you can be sure that's to be expected. If he tells you anything fantastic just accept it for the time being. Plus, if anything gets out of hand you know where to reach me."

Emily smiled, "Down the street and around the corner."

"That's right," Connally said, tipping his cap. The two said their goodbyes then went their separate ways. Emily returned to Paul's room, while the sheriff left the hospital. Connally swore at the sight of raining pouring down. Being tired was bad enough, but he had no desire to combine it with being wet. Knowing there was no getting around the matter, he turned up his collar and braced himself for the coming soaking. However, a step from the exit his cellphone began to ring. Pulling it out he answered, "Sheriff here."

"Sheriff Connally, it's Deputy Chapman."

"What do you need?" Connally looked at his wristwatch. He wondered at what time sunrise was supposed to be.

"It's about Williams' body, sir." There was a nervous tension in the deputy's voice that did not sit well with the sheriff.

"What about it?" Connally asked gruffly.

"It's gone, sir."


Emily slipped out of the room quietly to pour herself a cup of coffee. As the door closed, Paul rolled over and opened his eyes. Placing a hand against his face he felt the thick bandages against his palm. He didn't know how badly he'd been burned, but doctors grimacing at the sight of a wound is never a good sign. His thoughts were turning to Emily, how this would all affect her, when he heard the creak of a window being opened.

Paul started to roll to face the window, but the smell of wet fur froze him in place. The sound of sniffing could be heard over the rain. He heard a heavy thud as something came climbing in through the window. The wet smack of feet pounded over to the bed. A firm hand pressed on his side, holding him in place. Looking down, Paul saw a five fingered paw, complete with thumb, and long vicious looking claws.

As the hand tightened, claws digging into his flesh, an inhuman voice snarled, "For sins of the father."


They say your life flashes before your eyes when your last seconds tick past. I didn't know you get to comment during it, but I guess you do. How else could I look back on that night and talk in the same while about my Pops, Bruce Miller. Like I said, after what I saw, him changing into a wolf in the backyard, I wasn't sorry to see him go. I always thought it was for the best. Seemed like it would be more dangerous to have him around. That is, until now.