"Into The Woods"
This story is my cousin's fault. Shortly
before it was written, he asked about a werewolf
story I'd been writing back in college. This
reminded me of Werdeth, the werewolf character,
so he was sort of knocking around in the back of
my mind. A few weeks after that, I was watching
a particularly bad horror movie. The two
influences came together in the following short
story, which got stuck in my head and would
not let go. I wrote it down just to make it
"There's something out there. I can feel it."
Martin stood with his back to the fire, trying
to look out into the darkness. He was on the
tall side of average, with sandy hair and a lean
build. "We're being watched."
Werdeth glanced up from where he was
rummaging in his pack. "By an owl or two. An
insomniac squirrel. Maybe a couple of deer." He
was small and wiry, with dark hair and darker
eyes. His fingers finally closed around the
plastic of his flask, and he pulled it loose.
"We are in the middle of nowhere," Shannon
reminded them. She was sitting cross-legged
beside the fire, sipping at a bottle of beer.
Her hair was blue, at least for the moment, and
her eyes matched the color almost perfectly.
"There could be a whole tribe of inbred rednecks
out there, waiting to chop us up with axes and
machetes." She didn't sound terribly concerned
by the idea.
"Or an escaped psychopath with a hook for a
hand," suggested Werdeth, deadpan.
"Funny," said Martin, moving reluctantly back
towards the fire. "If we're all murdered in our
sleeping bags, I'm coming back to haunt you." He
paused. "...Or haunt your ghosts, anyway."
Shannon considered that. "Deal," she said.
"I'll haunt you if you'll haunt me."
"You already haunt me," said Martin, sitting
down beside her.
Reaching back, Shannon pulled a beer from the
cooler and handed it to him. Werdeth seated
himself across from them, and poured a measure
from his flask into a metal cup. "Toss me a
Shannon reached back again, found a can, and
tossed it across the fire. Werdeth caught it and
cracked it open, pouring quickly as it foamed.
In the darkness beyond the fire, something
* * *
Werdeth was the first to retire. His tent was
a simple dome, cheap but effective; he dragged
his pack inside, then zipped the door shut. He
didn't really need the tent, but it offered a
semblance of privacy and kept the insects out.
Outside, Martin finished off his second beer and
dropped the empty bottle into the trash bag. It
was a beautiful night, clean and slightly crisp;
the stars were clearly visible overhead. The
fire had burned down, and the moon had set; the
darkness beneath the trees was absolute.
Shannon leaned over and kissed him just
behind his ear. Martin inhaled sharply.
"Maybe we should get ready, too."
Martin nodded and stood, stretching. He
stopped to find a bottle of water, and poured it
out over the fire. The remaining flames sizzled
and died, leaving them in darkness. He blinked,
waiting for his eyes to adjust. Shannon touched
his leg, using him to balance as she stood up.
When he could see well enough to make out
general shapes, Martin started for their tent.
Shannon followed, pulling her shirt off as she
went. She was reaching for the clasp of her bra
when Martin stopped. He was looking around,
though all he could see was grey blurs in the
darkness and the stars above them.
"I swear we're being watched," he said.
"It's bigfoot," said Shannon, and pushed him
gently towards the tent.
Martin considered that. "Well, I hope he
doesn't drink all the beer."
Their tent was larger than Werdeth's, with a
more angular design; unlike his friend, Martin
kept a supply of quality camping gear. Inside,
he lay back on the sleeping bag as Shannon
dropped her shirt and bra beside her pack.
"Careful," he said as she knelt above him.
She nodded, though he couldn't see it, and
leaned down to kiss him. She liked the feel of
his body, lean and fit and warm beneath her
fingers. He reached up, wrapping his arms around
her, and pulled her closer.
* * *
Werdeth emerged from his tent. He hadn't
bothered to dress; Shannon and Martin had gone
into their tent, and from the sound of things
they wouldn't be emerging any time soon.
Turning, he headed for the trees: the
combination of rum and cola was pleasant, but it
did have its consequences.
His eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the
campsite, but he moved carefully anyway. The
last thing he needed was to step on something
sharp. It was darker among the trees, and he
slowed even further. He didn't intend to go far,
but he would like to be out of earshot before he
took care of business. Tents, he had noticed,
did very little to muffle sounds.
When he was finished, he turned back to find
a woman standing between him and the campsite.
She was very beautiful, and very naked. That
might have been awkward, except that he was
standing there naked as well.
Then he met her eyes. Desire washed over him
in a rush, and he felt his body respond. She was
moving towards him, gorgeous and graceful and
irresistibly attractive. He knew he should be
reacting, saying something, but the look in her
eye sped his pulse and made rational thought an
effort. Then she was kissing him, gentle and
teasing, her arms moving up to caress his body.
She was a little taller than he was, but it
didn't seem to matter.
Something moved in his peripheral vision and
he glanced away. When he looked back, her mouth
had changed: it was wider and more prominent,
with rows of short, sharp teeth. He drew a sharp
breath, but her hand closed around his throat.
He could feel the claws on her fingertips,
pressing against his flesh, not quite digging
in. Soft whispering sounds reached his ears, but
he couldn't decipher the words.
A second woman was approaching, her face and
hands already transformed.
The sounds of rending flesh filled the night
* * *
Martin went still. Something was moving
around in their campsite; he could hear it. In
the darkness above him, Shannon nodded and
straightened. She pulled on her shirt as he sat
up; it was long enough to cover her. Then she
turned and unzipped the tent flap. Her eyes
"We're surrounded by naked women," she said,
"That doesn't sound so bad," Martin admitted,
buttoning his pants. "Where's Werdeth?"
"...With shark teeth. I forgot to mention the
shark teeth." Shannon stepped out of the tent,
leaving room for Martin behind her.
"Ah," he said. "That changes things."
The women around them were slim and athletic,
with dark hair and pale skin; it was too dark to
determine colors. Their faces were identical;
any two of them might have been twins, but there
were at least a dozen present. They moved with
an easy, liquid grace, whispering softly to each
other. Try as he might, Martin couldn't make out
the words. Their teeth and claws seemed like a
clear enough message.
"Now what?" asked Shannon. She wasn't looking
at Martin; the question was directed to the
women. One of them moved closer, and Shannon
glanced at it.
She gasped as their eyes met. Desire washed
over her, warm and rich. She didn't fight it.
Instead, she let it fill her and drain away.
"Nice," she said. Then, glancing back at Martin,
"Don't look into their eyes."
Martin nodded. He had kept his gaze
deliberately unfocused, knowing that they were
surrounded and that survival might depend more
on his peripheral vision. It had probably saved
The shark-woman had taken a step towards
Shannon; now it hesitated.
She lifted her head and met its eyes again.
"If that's all you have," she said evenly, "then
I suggest you run." She paused, then called: "Werdeth?"
The shark woman inhaled sharply, almost
hissing. The sound was picked up by the others
immediately, and then they attacked.
Shannon slipped past the nearest and elbowed
it sharply in the spine. She struck another one
in the throat and felt its larynx collapse. It
stumbled and fell.
Three of them were almost on top of Martin
when he stepped out of the tent. The movement
took him from kneeling to standing, and revealed
the long sword that had been hidden in the
sleeping bag. By the time they focused on it,
they were too close to dodge; he bisected all
three and took a step back, falling
automatically into a high guard.
Four more were closing on him when his blade
caught fire. They fell back immediately,
shielding their eyes against the light. Shannon
raised another above her head and slapped it
down across her knee, hearing the muted rattle
of the spine breaking. Content that she has
accomplished her goal with that one, she pushed
it away and rose.
The survivors were starting to back away when
Martin lowered his blade, pointing it in front
of him. The flames around it swirled, then
flared; then they leapt forward in a wide fan.
Shannon dodged back; though she was well away
from the flames, the heat was painful. By the
time she reached Martin's side, he was lowering
The campsite was still and empty. Their
attackers lay scattered. Despite occasional
movements, they showed no signs of life. Martin
turned, surveying the ones Shannon had downed,
and went to finish them off. Shannon circled the
campsite to look at Werdeth's tent.
It was empty, of course; and despite Martin's
restraint, the front of it had melted into a
fragile plastic sheet. Werdeth was nowhere to be
seen. If he's dead...
"You want this one?" Martin's voice snapped
her out of her thoughts.
Shannon turned and nodded, circling around
the corpses to the one whose spine she'd broken.
Her boyfriend's sword was now a dagger; he'd
cleaned the blade on one of the bodies.
The shark-woman lay still, but she was still
breathing. Probably paralyzed, Shannon thought
as she knelt. That had certainly been her
The soft whispering began again, but even
this close it was incomprehensible. Martin stood
guard as Shannon bent down. The whispering
softened, then died away. Shannon straightened,
wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, then
reached down without looking and closed the
Then she glanced across the campsite to where
Werdeth had emerged from the woods. "What kept
He padded forward, rising up onto his hind
legs. His body shifted configuration to
accommodate the change in stance. "Distracted.
There were a few more in the woods." His voice
was rough and bestial, barely understandable --
Shannon opened her mouth, then changed her
mind and closed it again. Martin just nodded.
"Come on," he said. "Let's find their nest,
or whatever they're using, and make sure we're
"This way," said Werdeth, dropping back to
* * *
It was almost dawn by the time they finished.
The whispering women had been using a shallow
cave for shelter, but there was no indication of
what they were or whence they'd come. The two
campers who'd gone missing a week earlier were
almost certainly dead -- as were the dozen or so
others, vanished over the previous year -- but
the infestation was eradicated.
"So now what?" asked Martin, as they returned
to their camp.
Shannon glanced at Werdeth, who shrugged. "We
move on," he said. "Something else will come up
eventually, but Spring Break is almost over.
It's time to head back."
"Too bad," said Martin. When they glanced at
him, he said: "I hoped it was Big Foot."
Shannon patted his shoulder, trying to look
sympathetic. "Maybe next time," she said.