One of the villagers in the hamlet of Monkshood is a werewolf. But who? Panic is sweeping the populace as every full moon villagers are being killed and it is up to young Ryan and Paige to discover who the werewolf is.
Now in those days, there was a bit of a panic in the countryside and the reason for it was the werewolf. The werewolf stalked the towns and lurked in the shadows of the woods, looking for fresh victims beneath the pale, full moon. But he (or she — no one could be quite sure, of course) vanished like smoke when daylight came, feigning innocence among the other villagers of the town that it was currently terrorizing.
The werewolf went from town to town, its lust for blood driving it onward and before long, terrible tales of its murders had spread across the land.
It continued until . . . well that would be getting ahead of myself now, wouldn't it? How about I tell you how it happened, from the beginning?
* * *
It was a hot, summer evening, the kind that reminds you of dogs panting and fields of long grass sighing lazily in unison under a fiery sky. Ryan Dempsy and Paige Isinglass sat on an old, dry log by the shallow brook just outside the village, which had been made only shallower by the long spell of rainless weather the region had been experiencing. The children were as listless as the rest of that summer evening, watching a solitary carp navigate its way up and down the brook in search of bugs and other tiny bits of things that fish eat. Paige's bare feet dangled down, the tips of her toes dabbling the water. Ryan was swishing a thin osier over the bank of the brook. Occasionally the osier's slender leaves would brush the surface of the water creating a chain of sparkling ripples.
"They say the werewolf's been sighted near the quarry," Paige remarked as she tossed a handful of dry, crumpled leaves into the water to see if the carp would eat them. It paid them no heed, but bolted a moment later when Ryan's willow switch splashed too close to it.
"My pa doesn't even believe there's such a thing as a werewolf," said Ryan. "Then again, he doesn't believe in much of anything," he added, a touch of scorn creeping into his voice.
"Well, Gram believes there's a werewolf. And the quarry's kind of close isn't it?"
Ryan shrugged. There was a pause that was filled with the rustle of leaves and a breath of warm wind from the east. Slowly, the sky was emptying itself of its golden rays and darkening to a deep navy blue.
"We'd better get back, hadn't we?" asked Ryan after a while.
"Mmm." Paige stood and pulled on her shoes. Ryan got up beside her, tossing his willow withe into the brook. They started back up the path toward the village which was a spiky, black silhouette on top of one of the hills bordering the wood.
When they reached the town, the sun was gone, replaced by a scatter of twinkling stars and a fat, orange moon. The buildings in the village were small but cozy; lamps burned in their windows and cast strips of quavery, yellow light out onto the street. They came to Paige's house first, which was near the fringe of the village.
"G'night," said Paige. She started for the door.
A piercing scream knifed through the darkness.
Both Paige and Ryan jumped.
"What was that?" came Paige's scared whisper. There was the sound of doors opening; others had heard the scream.
Ryan followed the dark shapes of a few of the men who were going to investigate, the scream still crashing around inside his head.
"Ryan, stop, where are you going?" he heard Paige say in a terrified voice. But there was no need to say any more: They had reached their destination.
It was in the town square, right outside the church. Ryan could see right away the crumpled figure of a human form there. He moved closer. Behind him, Paige whimpered and turned away. Ryan had to see, though.
It was Paul Stone's wife, Eileen, and it was very clear from her unmoving body and the muddy pool of blood it lay in, that she was dead. Horrified, yet transfixed, Ryan moved closer. Lanterns were being brought forward, bobbing like will o' the wisps through the night, and their light fell upon Eileen's mangled corpse. There was no mistaking the long slashes covering the woman; slashes made by claws that were neither human nor animal.
The werewolf had come to Monkshood.