[Story] A Story a Week 10

[[ Prompt: A story featuring a countdown

I had the idea of using a Top 40 radio countdown, instead of the more typical sort. I used to spend hours every weekend listening to them when I was in junior high. This is, of course, another werewolf story. There’s some mild gore, but nothing too explicit.

I was able to pull up the top 40 songs by year, as well as all their lyrics, in a matter of moments. The internet sure makes research easy! ]]

This is Crazy Tim counting down this week’s top hits, the black stereo announced from Michelle’s dresser. Scotch tape held on the door of the cassette deck, as well as the antenna, but the sound was still good. And it went loud enough when it needed to, like tonight. Coming in at number thirty-eight: Make Me Lose Control.

Michelle set the brush down beside the stereo. Her hair wasn’t going to get any better, and besides, it was getting late. If she had to spend another minute inside, she thought she might scream. Or worse. She slung her purse over her shoulder and jogged down the stairs. She could see her father’s figure, silhouetted against the bright white of the TV screen, but he didn’t turn around. He didn’t move at all. He was passed out already, same as he always was. Michelle grimaced and took the keys off the hook by the door. There’d be another fight later when her mother got home from her shift at the hospital, same as always. She didn’t want to be there to have to listen to it.

She settled onto the squeaky seats and switched on the radio. It was the same station as inside. She always listened to Crazy Tim on Friday nights. Don’t worry, crackled the radio. Be happy. Michelle backed the huge Lincoln out carefully, hearing the gravel crunch underneath the tires. Technically her parents were the owners, but she’d saved up for half and she got to drive it, so it was her car. Even if her father borrowed it sometimes to go to the 7-11 for beer. Without asking. It was a warm night, not quite yet summer but enough to roll the windows down and smell the night jasmine had just started to bloom. The full moon hung bright in the cloudless sky, seeming to follow Michelle’s route along the dark roads. She’d had a story planned if her father had asked where she was going, but he hadn’t. She wouldn’t be missed until around three, when her mother came home from her shift at the hospital. It was a long time until then.

Coming in this week at number thirty, Love Bites, said Crazy Tim, as Michelle steered the car onto a pull-off along the side of the road. A small wooden sign marked the head of a trail, but it was obscured by the darkness, and the tree branches surrounding it. But Michelle had been here many times; it was a popular place for kids to go to drink and smoke, among other things. It would be busy tonight. Michelle’s foot touched down on the rough gravel, her shoes kicked off in the car. Her hands followed right after, her nails lengthened into sturdy claws, still with flakes of Raspberry Sparkle polish clinging to them. She breathed in the warm night air, tasting the scents of the night: the night jasmine, someone smoking weed, cheap beer and sweat. It did not take her long to find them, leaning against their pick-up truck. They tossed their cans on the ground when they were finished. Guilt flashed briefly through her mind; they were only kids, no different than herself. They were just trying to have some fun tonight, maybe trying to escape just like she was. But no, Michelle reminded herself, they were nothing like her. They were prey, just poor blind sheep. Her eyes were opened, she could see what they could not. And they died like sheep, bleating and staggering over each other in their attempts to escape. She ate until the edge of her hunger was dulled, pulling out great strips of flesh and swallowing them whole. She could not afford to stay here long, others would be by soon. And her car was still here. Crunching the last of her prize, she left the rest of her prize to the local scavengers.

Michelle turned the key in the ignition, checking the mirror for anyone else in the lot. One look at you and I can’t disguise, the radio crackled to life as the engine started. I’ve got hungry eyes. She followed the road winding up through the hills, above the dark canyons and scrubby forest. Coyotes were common here, no one would give a second thought if they saw her. She parked again at the crest of a ridge, near the sign proclaiming it a “VANTAGE POINT”. Sometimes there were couples parked here, but not tonight. That was a shame, as she felt her belly rumble in protest. Michelle walked the ridge, surveying the city below, no more than lights twinkling in the distance. How could it be so close and at the same time, so far away? She knew she could not stay here much longer. The newspapers and the police were already catching on, printing lurid articles about animal attacks and urging people — especially teenagers — to avoid the canyons at night. They didn’t listen, of course, but eventually they might. And they’d probably send people with guns, if that didn’t work. She didn’t know where she’d go. Michelle would graduate in a few months, but beyond that, she had no plan. They didn’t have money for college, and even if they had, Michelle didn’t know what she’d study. And then of course this had happened. She couldn’t explain it to anyone, least of all her mother. No doubt she’d seen the evidence of what had happened at the hospital, but never guessed her own daughter was responsible. No, Michelle thought, shaking her head. They’d want to do tests and keep her locked up, in an asylum — or a pound. She wanted to go somewhere without anyone to tell her what to do, maybe there were others like her. There had to be, right?

She washed herself in the stream, changed into the spare set of clothes in her car. Michelle fixed her hair in the rear view mirror. She’s so mean but I don’t care, the radio crackled, the signal weaker up here in the hills. I love her eyes and her wild, wild hair.

 

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