Thomas recognized the call to be feared above all others. It was the voice of a poisoned soul. Even more disturbing were the calls echoing the first; varying tones of distress singing in spattered unison acknowledging their Lord.
The expression on Teddy’s face was businesslike. “We must take action.”
Mr. Teeter-totter responded in a shaky voice, “You said we would be dealing with one werewolf, but is sounds like there are dozens. Do you wish to fight multiple monsters?”
“It’s not a question of desire, but one of duty. We must take a stand against our foe sooner or later. We should consider using our explosives and forget trying to drug them.” Both masons looked relieved.
“I suppose you won’t need us in the fight then?” ask Mr. Teeter-totter.
“We have the advantage, but we need every man to defeat the wolf pack.”
“What possible advantage are you referring to?” asked Mr. McBoothe.
“Don’t underestimate our ability to plan a surprise attack, whereas the enemy caters strictly to its instinct. The werewolf is a conflicted monster due to its human civility in conflict with wolfish brutality. Its nature makes it a psychologically weak adversary despite having superhuman strength.” Teddy’s knowledge of werewolf psychology came strictly from his own theories, but he was hoping to build courage in his companions, regardless of whether his assumptions were false.
“Let’s take a vote to attack,” interjected Dr. Thurston. “All in favor…” The vote was a stalemate. Teddy, Thomas, and Dr. Thurston were in favor. The two masons and Mr. Jorkins decided against it.
“We prefer to go home and be with our wives.”
The doctor addressed the deserters with exasperation, “How can you reasonably decide that you’ll be safer at home than on the mountain? This same pack of werewolves could surprise you at any moment when they eat you in bed.” Any amount of threats or cajoling could not convince the retreating members of the hunting party to stay. Instead, they took their leave and walked down the mountain as quickly as possible.
“I can’t believe they left us,” complained Teddy. “We might’ve had a fighting chance with their help, but now I’m afraid we’re headed for certain death.”
Dr. Thurston was lost in contemplation.
Thomas looked grim. “We’re trying to formulate a plan and you’re daydreaming.”
“I was just thinking there’s a slim possibility we might still hold some of the cards in this game.”
“How so?” asked Teddy impatiently?
“If my ears aren’t deceiving me, most of the howls came from the next valley. There’s a quarry in front of us where we could set our explosives to induce an avalanche.”
“An avalanche would cause enough of a distraction that we could move into position and finish off half of the werewolves before they knew what happened. I like your plan!” replied Teddy enthusiastically.
“Then it’s settled. We’ll scout the area and find a strategic tree to defend.”
Over the next hill a sight chilled them to the bone and made their blood boil. The largest creature they’d ever seen stood in a ring of fire.
“That oak looks like an excellent place to secure a crossbow. I’ll get to work on the tree, while you and Dr. Thurston plant the explosives.”
As the three hunters disbanded, something odd happened in the valley. Several people walked out of the woods. “I recognize every person down there!” shouted Teddy. Are those people mad? I see Berta Jorkins, Mr. and Mrs. Pots, Chief Magistrate Alan Peppington, and Mr. Trufflesnout. They’ll be bitten for sure!”
“I simply don’t understand,” cried Doctor Thurston. “Hold on, I see two more figures coming out of the woods. One is an enormously rotund man. The other is a short plump woman. The fat man is Wiliver and the woman could be Madam Bane. The entire town is madder than a bull caught in a whirlwind!”
Bane spoke for a second time. “Followers, you’ve been faithful. My blood runs through your veins. There are only a few humans left that have sought to defy our plans for a werewolf state. I propose we secure our borders and cease to be hunted outcasts.”
All of the townsfolk raised their heads to the sky and howled. Many of them gradually transformed. Berta Jorkins became a slender werewolf with white coloring. There was something about her transformation that didn’t betray her human likeness.