The storm raged with a renewed fury, bellowing in the sky over the tiny farmhouse. As the curtains whipped about, caught and torn on crooked shards of broken glass, wind roared in through the gaping chasm of the demolished window.
Turning his back into the glass while dropping to the ground, Drew had sheltered his mother from the explosion as best as he could.
“Are you alright?” he called over the din.
His mother nodded quickly, eyes shooting towards the window. She looked shaken and scared, but beyond some scratches on her face seemed unharmed. Drew slowly helped her to her feet, surveying the situation.
The great bay window now blanketed the floor with hundreds of tiny pieces of splintered wood and shattered glass. The odd piece of timber swung from its brackets attached to the window frame, broken and ruined. The bookcase that had flanked the window lay on its side, empty and smashed, its far-flung books flapping as the wind clutched at their pages. Rain continued to drive into the room, harsh cold spittle that spattered Drew’s face.
Helping his mother back into her chair he began to step over the damaged furniture, making his way towards the window. The fallen bookcase would be best put to use as a temporary hoarding over the hole until the morning came. He’d have to dig out his pa’s toolbox from the cellar, but once his father and brother returned they could all set about putting things back to normal. Still, the situation unnerved him.
His eyes searched the room, an important piece of the puzzle missing. The hairs on the back of his neck trembled, a shiver still coursing down his body and making his whole frame tremble. Something wasn’t right. Squinting into the darkness, Drew couldn’t see what had caused the impact. He had expected to find a great tree branch jutting into the house, but the lack of any obvious cause both surprised and worried him. Surely the wind alone couldn’t cause such damage? He took a further step towards the window, still searching for evidence. The fire roared against the storm before suddenly giving up the ghost, chased from the room.
Then it appeared.
The shadow seemed to build from the floor upwards, a low murky shape that stood out from the darkness with a defi nition all of its own. Drew staggered back. As it rose, fi rst to the height of Drew’s waist and then taller, it seemed to grow outwards at the same time, filling the gaping hole that had once been the bay window. Drew stumbled, the strength in his legs failing him, almost losing his footing as he backed up. Wood and glass clattered to the floor around the creature as the remains of the window fell from its frame.
Outside the lightning flashed, adding a brief glimpse of illumination to the scene. Upon seeing the beast, Drew’s first thought was that it was a bear of some kind, but who had ever heard of a bear being bold enough to walk up to a farmhouse, let alone leaping through its windows? It quickly became clear that the creature was far removed from anything that he’d ever seen, sharing little in common with the animals that inhabited the Cold Coast.
A thick coat of oily black hair covered its heavy frame, a foul-stinking pelt that bristled with muddy rainwater. Heavy forelimbs swung down from its hunched shoulders, viciously clawed hands scraping the splintered floorboards around it. Smaller legs were bent double below, supporting the body above, threatening to spring the great mass forward at any moment in a mighty bound. What appeared to be a long fleshy tail wound out from the base of its torso, snaking back through the rubble towards the window. It stood some eight feet tall in all, dominating the darkness of the room.
The long snout came into view, tapering towards the end where a cluster of long, sharp teeth jutted out from curling blood-red lips
Whatever horror the body of the beast had created in Drew and his mother paled in comparison when the fearsome head rose slowly from the black nest of fur on its chest. The long snout came into view, tapering towards the end where a cluster of long, sharp teeth jutted out from curling blood-red lips. Its breath rolled into the room before it, making Drew gag at the stench. The foul air carried the scent of rotting flesh and disease, the stink of death and decay, sweet and sickening. Its ears were small and pinned back to its head, almost hidden among the glistening dark coat. Two pale red eyes flashed from pitch-black sockets, narrowing with wicked glee as it stared back at its prey.
It opened its mouth wide, throwing its head back as it bared its teeth, a long black tongue lolling and snaking from its maw as saliva spattered down to pool with the rainwater.
Drew’s stomach was in turmoil as he stared at the monster. His heart raced, the burn of the fever still gripping his body but now fuelling something, feeding his will. Spurred into activity, he leapt to the fireplace between the beast and his mother, reaching up and unclipping his father’s Wolfshead blade from the chimney breast. It felt heavy and awkward in his hands, but he held it wavering before him, palms gripping the hilt of the sword. He felt his mother’s trembling hand on his shoulder, her fear passing over him as she stood up to shelter behind him.
The creature seemed to chortle, loud, low and guttural, as it clambered over the overturned furniture and further into the room.
“Get out!” cried Drew over the wail of the wind, swinging the sword before him to try to ward it off . The beast raised a hand, batting the sword aside, stepping ever closer. Drew’s bones and muscles burned, a sudden sharp pain racing wildly through his body to clench his heart. Losing control he lashed out with the sword, lunging towards the monster blade-point first. The sword disappeared beneath its arm, hitting home somewhere in the monster’s midriff . It recoiled, staggering. Lowering a clawed hand to its bloodied side, it examined the dark black liquid with no small degree of concern, before glaring back at its attacker. A huge hairy arm scythed out, quick as a flash, arcing across the room to tear Drew’s chest. Blood fl ew from a trio of razor-sharp cuts as Drew collapsed against his mother, the sword tumbling from his grasp with a clatter onto the floorboards.
“Drew!” called his mother, but the cry was in vain.
His body shook violently, picking an unfortunate moment to seemingly give up its battle against the fever that had haunted him. Tilly Ferran let out a scream of despair as her son tumbled from her arms to the hearth, his poor body convulsing. She snatched up the blade.
“You’ve killed my boy!” she cried, waves of a mother’s grief exploding from her.
The monster raised a thick black claw, waggling it in a show of disagreement, before pointing it at her. Its voice gurgled, a malevolent laugh that belonged to the dark places of the world.
“For you. Came. For you . . .”
Tilly’s eyes widened. She staggered forward, sword flailing wildly, but the creature powerfully swung out its arm, claws meeting her as she ran, the sword tumbling from her grasp. The impact sent her flying through the air towards the kitchen. She landed on the table with a sickening crunch, sending crockery tumbling to shatter on the tiled floor.
More about the author
'YOU'RE THE LAST OF THE WEREWOLVES SON. DON'T FIGHT IT . . . CONQUER IT.'
When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator.
When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him.
And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms . . .
Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan's men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy.
Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him - and master the animal within?