Twelve year old Maggie May sat up in the loft, hid in the shadows of the farthest corner on her bed, her arms wrapped around her legs, and squeezed up into a ball. Too scared to move.
Too scared to even breathe.
Outside, the howling voiced its presence in the small village of Deputy Point, coming in waves that bounced off the hills and back. Echoes of oncoming hunger and death. The full moon hung high in the sky, radiating a glow around its orb, painting silver on the grass.
A cool wind blew across the land, lifting the dead leaves off the ground, as well as the ones that had grown crisp and brittle like a decomposed corpse.
"Stay up in the loft, honey," Maggie’s mother called out to her from below.
Her parents had always told her that monsters did not exist. Ghosts did not exist. The bogeyman did not exist. Sometimes, when her head would hit the pillow at night, her eyes would play tricks on her. Shadows would grow off of the walls from the moon’s glow, bringing dark forms of spiders and bats and profiles of evil faces. They would hang there, watching her, until she would eventually fall asleep. Or have to holler for her mom or dad to comfort her.
She would even lie there and wonder about the dark. Was something hidden in the corner - like she was now - waiting until she finally closed her eyes and drifted off into dreamland? Would the something crawl across the floor of the loft with rancid, foul breath that was full of hunger and reach out and grab her ankle with an icy grip? Perhaps pull her out of bed, back into the dark corner that it had come from, so it could feed on her flesh and bones?
Once those thoughts arrived, they would make her shiver. She’d pull the sheets and blankets over her head and still holler for mom and dad. And, of course, one of them would climb the ladder to be with her. Reassure her that there is nothing that exists in the dark that will crawl out and steal little children away from their parents. They assured her that much.
Now what? Were they all just lies? White lies that only parents could be allowed to tell? Children were taught not to lie. It was a sin. And a punishment was sure to follow...
Outside, the howling continued making its mark across the land, becoming more prominent. Drawing closer to the village and its inhabitants.
Below, Maggie’s father nailed long, thick strips of wood across the door to blockade it. To stop and block the horror that was coming. Candles sat about, their light giving off the shadows of her parents moving back and forth.
"Mommy, I’m scared!" Maggie said.
"I know, honey, but please stay up there," Mom replied.
Maggie’s mom and dad were the best parents in the whole wide world. Both of them made sure that there was food on the table, a roof over their heads, and clothes on their backs. Sometimes, for a treat, her mom would make hot cherry pie for dessert and they’d all dig in. A perfect childhood.
No child could ask for more.
"Robert, will that keep them out? Will it?" Mom was worried.
"I hope so. I really do!" Dad replied.
Dad was a big man, stocky, and strikingly handsome with brown hair and dark eyes. He always provided for his family. In the evenings, Maggie would sit on his lap in the chair in front of the fireplace while he smoked his pipe as they watched the fire spark and sizzle.
Suddenly, Maggie heard running close by, pounding the earth, followed by a crash and a scream. Soon, shouts came. More screaming. More crashes.
Not far behind came hideous roars.
"Oh my God! That was Caroline! Poor Caroline!" Mom cried out as she heard the scream of her friend, only twenty feet away from the house.
Someone else outside screamed, blood curdled. The dying cry dug deep into Maggie’s ear canals, making the hair on the back of her neck stand straight up.
" Oh my God! Oh my God!" Maggie’s mom was frantic.
Another blood -curdling scream came, and it was drawn out until it was cut off like a blown-out candle.
Maggie heard more cries and screams of death as she tried to squeeze herself tighter and tighter into a ball, hoping to rid herself of the fear. But it coursed her veins, bleeding terror.
Maggie just wished that it all would end. She had always thought that adults made everything bad go away. Could her mom and dad do that right now? Right now? Just like when they assured her that there were no monsters lurking in the darkness? Were all those really white lies?
Now what will they tell her?
Would they say: Sorry, Maggie, we lied to you. I know, I know...we were wrong to do it. Please forgive us. We didn’t mean any harm from it. We just wanted to protect you, honey, that’s all. We’ll go to bed without any supper and wash our mouths out with so-
The front door to Maggie’s house burst open, cutting off her thoughts as the long strips of wood split in half, while splinters sprayed the air. Shadows flickered on the walls, and growling punctured the air.
Maggie’s mother screamed.
Flowing in from the outside, the screams and cries became more prominent - almost as if the dying of all of the villagers were right beside Maggie’s small frame, leaking their red bodily fluid that kept them functioning as a warm-blooded human.
Maggie’s eyes saw the top of her father’s axe raise high in the air, then descend and make a thunk! A huge roar followed - a roar of pain.
Maggie’s memories brought back her father chopping wood, easily wielding the handle of the axe in his grip, splitting the wood in two pieces. No resistance. But now, the axe was used against warm flesh and bone.
And resistance was sure to come.
With the dreaded sound all around her, Mary began to pray to God: Please, Lord, help us in our time of need. I’ll be good for my Mom and Dad for the rest of my life. I’ll be g-
The top of the axe came into view once more, its blade dripping with blood, and dropped like an anvil. Another thunk! Then the blade came up again, descended back down through the air with yet another thunk! as something heavy hit the floor.
Maggie’s mother still screamed.
Maggie tried holding her hands over her ears to keep out the horror, but it still penetrated deep.
If that wasn’t enough, another huge roar filled the inside of the house. Another had come across the threshold.
The bloody axe rose high up in the air and charged at the hideous voice.
Maggie’s mother shrieked and cried out, " Oh my God. God help us. God help us!"
Maggie’s hands tried to press harder over her ears, trying to keep the sound out, but it was no use. She feared that her head would burst like a tomato if she pressed any harder.
As the roaring continued, the resistance came with a counter-attack.
The top of the axe flew backwards, torn away from the top of the oak that it rested upon, and stuck into the wall, sinking into it as if it was soft flesh. Wet blood soiled around it, as if it was a leaking wound.
Maggie’s father cried out as he was thrown backwards into the wall. Candles still flickered, bringing more dark shadows and more outlines of the fight below. A stench rose up to the loft, a canine smell, hitting Maggie’s nose.
The top of a furry head with pointy ears came into view as it ran towards Maggie’s father - the provider for the family, the one who has always been there for her when she was scared, the one upon whose lap she loved to sit in front of the fire, and even the same one who took her fishing and watched as she baited the icky worms on the hook.
Maggie’s father cried out again. But only once. Only once before Maggie heard his shirt rip open, his flesh carved into, and his body began spilling blood.
Maggie’s mother shrieked; she was hysterical: "NO, NO, NO! PLEASE SOMEBODY HELP M-"
And that was all Maggie heard escape her mom’s lips after another huge roar filled the house. As it retreated, her mom’s voice no longer existed.
Tears began pouring from Maggie’s eyes, draining down her cheeks. She was petrified. Frozen in place. Now Maggie was all alone. The beasts had taken her parents away.
Curled up as tight as she could, she still couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. Chills ran down her spine. More death spoke from outside. Screams. Cries.
Maggie shut her eyes and started praying again, praying hard, whispering it to herself. Where was Jesus? Where was he?
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done,-
Below, there was growling.
- on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread -
The wooden ladder that ran up to the loft moved. Jerked.
- and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
The floor boards in the loft winced. Groaned.
And lead us not into temptation-
Maggie’s eyes were still shut tight, but she smelled the strong aroma of canine more prominently. It hit her like a ton of bricks.
- but deliver us from evil -
The bed gave from a heavy weight, sinking down like dirt in a shallow grave.
More screams came through the doorway, across the threshold, but began to diminish as a gunshot rang out somewhere in the distance.
- for thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
"Amen," a thick, hoarse voice said.
Maggie’s eyes flew open to a gray and black werewolf. Green eyes stared back at her. Long fangs hung from its gums. Blood, mixed with drool, dripped off of them. Wet blood was smeared all over the nose and snout. Terror and hunger radiated off its frame.
Maggie screamed. Her lungs brought a shrill, high-pitched sound that reverberated off the walls.
"Hello, my pretty," the wolf said, snarling, showing more of its teeth, "this will all be over quickly."
Maggie shut her eyes again, she did not want to see the wolf attack. Did not want to feel its razor-sharp teeth sink into her pale flesh and start eating her alive. Did not want to feel her skin rip apart.
Before the wolf opened its mouth to feed on her young flesh, grasp his claws around her body, a gunshot came from behind and split the beast’s skull wide open. Blood and brains sprayed Maggie and the walls.
Maggie still kept her eyes shut, screaming.
A moment later, a hand fell on her shoulder, startling her. Lifting her eyelids, she saw a tall man with a beard, long black hair, deep blue eyes, and covered in a dark hooded cloak.
A shotgun rested in his hand with the barrel pointed down.
"Are you okay, child?" he asked.
Maggie could only stare at him.
"Are you okay, child?" he repeated.
Over to the side lay a naked man with dark leathery skin with half of his head blown off. His one remaining lifeless green eye stared at Maggie.
And then she fainted.