11/2/19

Proof it was all fake


(SPOILERS for the horror ARG. If you want to get immersed in the story without the behind-the-scenes start: HERE)





One of the people on the reddit AMA said "...I'm not buying this alternate character you're telling me that you've created as an experiment. unless you can explain why you're taking pictures of people three feet from their window."

This is gonna sound mad stupid, but I was not expecting anyone to think that "Alex" saying everything was fake was some kinda meta-ploy to throw people off the scent after his family-murder-finale.

I guess it really shouldn't be a surprise that people wanted some proof. 

The idea of "Alex" invading people's privacy is just... real bad. And they were intentionally believable. And super creepy.

BUT

here's the proof  that any photo I've posted as part of the ARG was done so with fully informed consent. 




The guy from the first "people watching" post... Also the real life author of the ARG. Compare to the original post: LINK

My wife and I painted the room together IRL, but the loud fight scenario was fake.

Also, the kid doing the photobombing behind the curtain is my son lol.
The woman from the 2nd "people watching" pic, my wife. Our son tried to photobomb this one too, but didn't get fully in the frame. Compare to the original post: LINK

The phone sex never happened, her phone wasn't even on... IRL, she was watching basketball or some shit.
The woman from the final "people watching" post, my mom. Compare to the original: LINK

She was actually doing some dishes, and I did accidentally use the flash but that just played into the story nicely. 



As for proof about the animals... I regret that I didn't take video of the squirrels being set free. It actually never occurred to me that those would be worth documenting. 

I did happen to video tape the possums being released, because I was just so fascinated by the fact that the mom was carrying the babies, I wanted to show my son how the mom carried the whole family around- but wouldn't let him watch in person (mostly to protect him considering they were wild animals). 

Here's a link to the youtube video of the opossum mom waddling away with all the babies clinging to her fur: https://youtu.be/OeeLZdNzGlU










10/17/19

Landing Page

By now you've probably heard how things went down...

The AMA is live 10/21-10/22 LINK

This video offers some background. (Spoilers) LINK

This page is the reveal. (spoilers) LINK

If you want to explore the story without spoilers, the following links are in chronological order and hit the main plot points. Other posts throughout the blog (and from reddit: u/mydadsnameisharold) are intended to increase immersion and a sense of realism.


Father's Day- the only reason I started this blog...

Sprouts- family doesn't care.

HELP wanted!

Heart to Heart with Dad about family hating the garden

Dad's Writing his Will and I can't cope

Caught a Possum at just the right time

Stuff I see in the Neighborhood at Night

My Shithead brother insulted the garden and wouldn't eat our carrots...

Dad has used animal remains for fertilizer! Awesome!

I got blocked!!! Their loss.

I can't not look... Dad's will in progress.

CONFESSION!! My family has no idea...

Trump isn't the patriot his supporters think he is...

Proof I'm Real (and the Haters are fake)

I chickened out, and now the will is signed

A Eulogy for the tomatoes

Watermelons let me down...

Need an outlet

Another Night Walk

Found in the Woods

The folks over at reddit can eat a dick!!!!

Some of the folks over at reddit no longer need to eat a dick... an update

My brother betrayed me... Unfortunately for these baby opossum's I'm in a mood.

Dad's in the hospital. God better listen. 

FUCK THIS-WHY??? Dad was the only person who gave a fuck and he's gone. 

Fuck the lawyer

People think this is a joke?? Burying my dad while the world fuckign laughs. 

I'm pretty lost rn.. How the hell do I do this without dad's help?

Joe can seriously go to hell. Fuck him. I wrote this chapter to get out some of my anger. He deserves to die. 

Garden updates. The only peace I have. 

Super hot lately. But that's kinda nice, because people leave their windows open.

Joe is so stupid lol. I tricked him with some snails. Fucking dumb idiot. 

Tomatoes are coming along!!!

Stuff keeps reminding me of dad's passing. Had to walk to let off some steam. 

Joe- oooohhh I'm still so FUCKING mad. When this shit went down I got stupid drunk. Now that I'm sober I just wanna crush his fuckign eyeballs. 

OFFFFF fucking course mom sides with HIM!!!

Finally finished my story- but I can't enjoy it or anything. Joe needs to pay for fucking up dad's garden. He and mom don't fuckign understand- but I'll make it better. 

10/15/19

I FINALLY FIGURED IT ALL OUT....


I've been a fuckign mess all day.

Headache. My eyes are dry....

I couldn't sleep at all last night. I finished writing my book, so i should feel great. I should feel proud. But I'm still so fucking messed up over what my shitbrain brother did to mine and dad's tomatoes.

I spent over an hour last night just rereading the chapter where the "coyote" kills Joe Jones...

And I pictured my brother getting torn and shredded.

Imagining him just a mess of blood. Imagining him in pain and fear.

And it was nice. But just not enough. And you know what happened today??

I went on reddit and posted about my finished book.

HATERS came out of the woodwork to tell me I was a rapist, an animal abuser, and a psychopath. Fuck them! They slander me at every turn!!!

Look at this comment:

Well I gave that guy a piece of my mind.

Because Joe is a piece of garbage. And the only reason mom comes to his defense- the only reason she loves him more than me is because she's a stupid fuckign idiot! She was NEVER good enough for dad, and neither her nor Joe are good enough for the garden.

I'm the only one who understands they are trash.

And arguing with that guy, I had a bit of an epiphany.

I have two things I'm responsible for: taking care of dad's garden, and protecting it from pests that want to damage his vegetables.

Most of the time the pests are just fucking rodents.

But Joe... He did more damage to the garden than any squirrel ever has. OR ever could do!

And I remembered I made a promise to myself that I'd get Joe to help in the garden. It didn't work, because Joe is a piece of shit with no integrity.

He will NEVER help me with the actual work- but that doesn't mean he can't still help with the garden in a very direct way. Like the other pests- that I've composted.


The garden is gonna be fertile as fucking hell next year. 

Mom and Joe are gonna fuckign help the only way they FUCKING can- by decaying. 

The only regret I'll have is that my sister has to be a part of this. She's too young to know better, and none of this is her fault. 


Harold and Emily- the conclusion- Chapters 19, 20, 21, 22


Alright guys! My book is finally done! If you've been reading along, then thank you for sticking with it! If not, you can start with chapter 1 HERE

I hope you enjoy the rest of this. It's around 8,000 words, so longer than any post yet, but the chapters themselves are short. 

Thanks for waiting. I know I told you the next book update would be the last one, and that was like 3 weeks ago... I'm sorry for the delay. You already know I've been dealing with some serious bullshit.  

anyway, no reason to keep you waiting any longer, here's the 4 part conclusion: 





Chapter 19: Confessions and Incredulity
                When he was done with his tantrum, the room was a mess. Desks were pushed in every direction. Chair legs were bent, papers were scattered. His desk was in pieces.

                He pawed through the wreckage and used one trembling hand to dial Emily.

                To voicemail. "Em. God. Good God, Em! I... I... Need to know you are ok. God- FUCK! Call me. Please. For the love of Christ call me!" He sat there under heavy silence, until the machine told him his time was up and asked him if he wanted to send his message or record a new one.

                He hung up.

                His mind roved, he needed something to do. Someone to talk to.

                He called his house.

                "Bill Maria, how can I help you?" His father sounded rushed and a little bit irritated.

                "Dad?"

                "Harold? What's up? Why are you calling me, isn't class in session?"

                "Dad, I'm in ISS."

                "Huh?"

                "ISS stands for In School Suspension." The mundane tone of their conversation felt wrong in the utterly mad context of the day.

                "I know what it stands for, I mean why are you in ISS. Also, why are you calling me, you hoping to get a longer ISS?"

                "No. No dad, the school is in lockdown. There was an attack."

                "WHAT!?"

                "There was an attack! At school dad."

                "Fuck. Fuck. FUCK." Harold heard a fumbling, and then, "Call me back on my cell, I'm hanging up the landline. Call me back right away!"

                click

                Harold called back.

                "Hello!? Harold?!" He was panting into the phone, and Harold heard a door slam. Then an engine rolling over. 
"HAROLD!?"

                "Yeah, yeah Dad. I'm fine. I'm okay."

                "Sweet Jesus, I'm on my way."

                "Dad, calm down don't get in an accident. I'm okay. I'm... Shook up is all. And I just need someone to talk to."

                "Okay, okay son. We'll talk. You're not hurt?"

                "No dad. No I think I..."

                "What?"

                "No I'm not hurt. Just trying to make sense of what happened."

                "Thank God you're okay. What the fuck happened?"

                "I don't entirely know. I got assigned ISS because I threw my book bag at Hanlon."

                "You what!?"

                "I know, it was stupid. I couldn't hold back though, he was kinda smearing Joe. Told the whole class we were dumb."

                "Jesus, what a dick."

                "Yeah, but... I still don't really know why I lost it. Anyway, he marched me to Marcy's office, and I got ISS. Hanlon was actually assigned to watch me around lunch time. I started to fall asleep, and he said he was going to run to the men's room. I fell asleep after he left, I don't really know what time it was. Woke up shortly later, with the alarm blaring and the PA announcing a lockdown."

                He looked around the mess that was A-27. "We're still locked down, and I'm alone in this room, Hanlon never came back."

                "Holy shit, did he get attacked?" Then Harold heard a car horn, and his dad shouting a bit farther from the mic, "Hey gas pedal's on the right, idiot!" and a sharp rev on the engine.

                "Um. Yeah, I think he did. And I saw..." He swallowed and looked at the door which was still latched. "Before I locked the door, I saw something in the hall. One of the security guards was killed."

                "Shit, God. Was he shot? Was it a shooting?"

                Harold frowned. "I thought so at first, but I doubt I'd have slept through a gunshot. And judging from... Well he looked really torn up. Looked more like an animal attack. The amount of blood..."

                "Hey, Harold listen. We do not need to talk about that. You don't even need to think about that now."

                "I can't help but think about it dad. That... I'm pretty sure it was that fucking thing that got Joe."

                "Impossible. It wouldn't be able to get in the school. Animals can't open doors, and they sure as hell can't walk through security check points without being noticed."

                "Yeah it could have come through the window, or even a loading door... But.... I really don't think it was an animal. Not flesh and blood anyhow. I really... Dad I'm worried that... I'm pretty sure..."

                "It's okay Harold. Tell me."

                Harold coughed. It was too hard to say- too insane to word. But he couldn't see any other way. "It's a monster. A demon. And I'm pretty sure it's in me. Dad, I'm a werewolf."

                "No. Don't be-"

                "Ridiculous? I wish I were, but I'm just being logical. Because you're right. There's no way an animal could get this deep in the school. And I'm right, it couldn't have been gunfire, or I'd have woken up."

                "Then some punk brought a knife to school and murdered a security guard, and your teacher. You aren't a fucking werewolf..."

                Harold held back a grimace of tears.

                His dad stammered, "I... Look, I'm sorry Harold. I'm sorry all this happened, but you are not a werewolf. You're my son."

                Harold wiped his cheeks with the back of his hand. "I'm your son. But I'm also that other thing."

                "Harold, listen to me. You can't even name that other thing again, because you know it is ridiculous. You are in shock. Hell I'm in shock, and I wasn't even there. An animal made it in through an open window. Or more likely: one of your classmates is a fucking animal in the head. They'll catch whoever did this. You're school has security cams. They'll prove me right."

                Harold started to sob. "Dad, they won't-- I'm a fucking werewolf, and-- I-- don't like saying it because it's-- terrifying. I don't know how, but digging out that skull and-- removing the spear unleashed something. And that something latched on to me. And it killed my-- best friend. Used me to do it. Killed people in my school... And now, Emily is-- missing." He dropped his quivering mouth into the palm of his free hand. Snot and drool ran down his face, and he tried to dry it, but all he accomplished was a smear.

                "Harold... Oh, buddy. I'll be there in a second. I'm pulling into the parking lot now, and- Shit! They aren't gonna let me through the doors. There's a crowd of parents waiting outside. Reporters too. Fucking vultures."

                Harold trembled. "It's okay. Dad, it's okay. I'm going to confess."

                His dad's voice went stern, it must have been tough to manage over the phone, but it came through strong and cut the haze from Harold's clouded thoughts: "No. Absolutely not. You are not going to confess to something you did NOT do. You are panicking. That's normal. That's fine. But you will not do anything rash. Understand me?"

                He nodded.

                "I said, do you understand?"

                "Yeah. Yes Dad."

                Then his phone buzzed against his ear. He looked at the screen. "Dad, it's Emily! She's okay! I wanna take her call, and see how she's doing."

                "Okay. Listen, I'll be right in the parking lot waiting. When they lift the lockdown, you come straight to me. Okay?"

                "Okay. Bye dad. Thanks."

                He hung up, and slid to pick up her call. "Emily! Thank God you're okay!"

                Her voice was raw, she'd been crying. "Harry. Oh, shit. Harry." She broke into a stifled whimper.

                "Oh no, are you hurt?"

                "No. It didn't touch me."

                "It?" But he didn't need to ask because he knew what she'd describe.

                "The fucking monster that got Mr. Hanlon and Mr. Gordon."

                "Who's Mr. Gordon?"

                "The security guard. I didn't know his name before today, but I heard one of the police officers say it. He was killed."

                "Gordon or Hanlon?"

                He heard her sniffle. "Gordon. Hanlon is... He's in bad shape Harold."

                "How do you know?"

                "I was wandering the halls in A section. I was trying to find you. I saw Hanlon walking, and I hid in the bathroom. Then I heard the attack."

                "Holy shit. You were here? I'm in A-27!"

                Her whimpers broke into high pitched sobs, "Thank God you are alright, Harry! Thank God!"

                "Thank God I'm alright? What about you Em? I spent the past fucking eternity wondering if you were okay and thinking the worst."

                "I'm alright Harry. I'm okay."

                But she didn't sound okay. She sounded as broken as he felt. "Em, how do you know Hanlon is in bad shape?"

                "I... I pulled him out of the hall way."

                "During the attack? Wha- are you crazy? You could have been hurt!"

                "I couldn't leave them out there alone Harry. I just... Couldn't."

                "Emily Green you're a fucking hero, you know that? And way better than me. I wouldn't have risked it."

                "You don't know that Harry. In the moment you would have done the right thing."

                "Em?"

                "Yeah."

                "Did you see it? What did you mean when you said it was a monster that got them?"

                "I saw it when I opened the door to grab Hanlon. I looked down the hall and saw it while it was... Doing things to Gordon. He came to help and he got k-" Her voice faltered, and he could practically see her tears.

                "Jesus Em. What was it?"

                "It was just what I said. I fucking monster!"

                "Like an animal?"

                The word hung between them, and he knew it before she said it. Knew it in his gut: "Like a... Like a fucking werewolf Harry. Like the kind of thing you'd see in a shitty movie."

                He picked up his drawing from the scraps on the floor, and as he listened his lips fell numb.

                "It was tall. Dark. It looked like a man, had the posture of a man, and... Well it was naked, and had all the anatomy of a man, except it was just off. Just off. Its arms were too long. It's fingers were far too long. And too sharp. It's head... it's face... It didn't have any flesh or fur up there. Just a skull. Like a dirty skull. But definitely a wolf's skull, it looked just like the one you and your dad found."

                "Em." His mouth was too dry to speak.

                "Yeah Harry?"

                "Egh-" He coughed and tried to lick his lips. All he could produce was a rasp, but it was enough to get his point across. "Em, you gotta stay away from me!"

                "Huh? Why? Are you trying to hurt me?"

                "No! No way Em! I'm not trying to hurt you, the opposite. Trying to make sure you don't get hurt. You gotta stay far away from me."

                "I don't understand. And if you can't give me a why, then fuck you."

                He looked down and saw how tightly he was gripping the edge of the new desk he'd taken. His knuckles were boney white.

                He forced them to relax, and the color came back to them.

                "Em, I'm a damned werewolf."

                There was a long pause, and her voice was dry, curt, and utterly direct: "Don't fuck around like that Harry, if you're trying to make a joke it's not funny. If you're serious then, you have to see that's insane. You're not a werewolf. I was with you most of the night that Joe... You didn't turn into a furry maniac, so-"

                "I'm not fucking around Em. I'm not joking, and I'm not insane." His head swam and he wondered about that last part. "I... All the pieces are adding up. You saw a thing with a wolf's skull? Well I never saw it, but you know what? I drew it. I fucking drew exactly what you said you saw. Weird thing is, I drew it before I ever heard from you. Before I even knew if you were okay, I drew that fucking thing. A tall naked guy with a wolf skull instead of a head. And I hated it even while I drew it. And I hated it when it was done. I still hate it!"

                He tore the picture he'd drawn in half, but it didn't help him feel any better. He crumbled the halves and smashed them with his heel.

                "Em, I didn't change when you were over for the fire... But after you left I fell asleep. And while I was sleeping, Joe got killed. My parents couldn't find me, but they found my clothes. Then I woke up in the exact place they looked. And now..." He looked at his own shirt, at his own hands.

                "The fucker never attacked last night, that's when I pulled an all-nighter. When does it show up again? When I fell asleep! Where did it show up? In the very hall outside the room where I fell asleep!"

                "Harold that's crazy."

                "Is it? IS IT!?"

                Her voice was weak... "I hope so."

                "But it isn't. Look Em, they're gonna see on the hall cams. They're gonna see me... They'll see everything, and everyone will know the truth about me."

                "Harold, I already did see, it was a monster. It wasn't you."

                "A monster Em? Are you hearing yourself? You're saying I sound crazy for saying I'm a monster... Well it's also crazy to say you saw one. Crazy doesn't equal false, I believe what you saw, you need to believe me."

                "Harry." She was crying into the phone, and her voice was streaked with pain.

                "Em, you have to believe me. And you have to stay away. I love you too much to let anything happen to you, I'd never forgive myself if-"

                "You love me?"

                "Emily."

                "Is that true? Seriously? We've only known each other for a week."

                Harold held the phone more gently. "Just because it's crazy doesn't mean it's not true. I... Look at all your missed calls. When I couldn't get a hold of you, I thought you- I thought... I was more broken than when I learned Joe died. And he's been my best friend for years. Just please promise me- PROMISE me that you'll stay away. I'll die if something happened to you, especially if that something was me."

                Her voice heaved and he imagined she was wiping away tears. "Harry. Oh, God! If you're serious... If you are a fucking- werewolf- how do you expect me to leave you to that? Somebody needs to help you, somebody needs to protect you from yourself. You can't do it alone."

                "Emily, I'm dangerous."

                "You love me Harry? Then you won't hurt me."

                "Em!? You don't believe me do you? It won't be me that does it, it'll be this fucking bastard that's using me!"

                "Harry I... Look even if you turn into a fucking werewolf, you'll still be in there Harry. Look if what you say is true, it only strikes when you're sleeping, right? Well then let's just be careful. I want to see you. I need... You can't sort this out alone."

----------------
Chapter 20: Sorting It Out

                "Attention all students and faculty of Asbury High School. The lockdown is being lifted at this time. Repeat, the lockdown is being lifted at this time." Miss Marcy's voice was carefully subdued, she sounded stressed.

                "Em I gotta go, there letting us out. I'll call you."

                Harold heard an audible cheer, not through the intercom but through the walls and doorways of the school itself. But the PA continued, and the cheer was stifled as though it's mouth were nailed shut.

                "However, we ask that everyone remain seated for the duration of this announcement as there is important information that we must share. It is with great sadness that we now report another tragedy. As some of you have already guessed, there has been an attack here in our school."

                Harold had the room to himself, but he began to feel claustrophobic.

                "This attack has taken a second member of our community and left a third in critical condition. Mr. Paul Hanlon was attacked in the halls of A Section. Head Security, David Gordon responded bravely and was consequently attacked. He did not survive his injuries. Hanlon remains in critical condition, having been pulled to safety by the heroic efforts of one of our own students, Miss Emily Green- who acted with utter courage. The rapid response teams evacuated Mr. Hanlon to Green Fields Hospital, and the tactical response teams have since cleared the school.

                "No attacker was apprehended. According to eye witness accounts, and preliminary police investigation, this was another animal attack, likely the same unidentified animal that fatally attacked our friend, senior classman Joe Jones.

                "While the animal has not yet been captured or killed, local law enforcement is one hundred percent confident that it has escaped the confines of the school, and no longer a threat to us here in the building. That said, it is important for all of us, and the community at large, to observe some safety practices that may save your life: Firstly, do not travel alone and minimize travel by foot. Students who generally walk to school, we will be providing bus pickups until this issue is resolved. Pickups will be at your address, as we do not want any students waiting alone for pickup. In addition, all members of the community should secure their residence, and places of business. Here at school, we'll be keeping all the doors shut when not in use, and the ground floor windows shut at all times, so this animal has no point of ingress. Lastly, if anyone sees any sign of this unknown animal, we urge you to call local law enforcement and make a report.

                "Because of the nature of the recent tragedies affecting our community, school is no longer in session today. After the weekend, school will re-open, but attendance will not be mandatory for the following week. However, we ask that any student wishing to excuse themselves from class makes a call, daily, to the main office, for security reasons. At this time, any student in sections B,C, and D wishing to take the bus home make your way to the bus loop. Any student in sections B,C, and D wishing to arrange for a ride, make your way to the cafeteria. The cafeteria phone is available for external calls, if any student needs to call their emergency contacts. Students in section A, please remain in your rooms until you are escorted out. Thank you, for your patience and strength, dealing with the lockdown and the aftermath of this tragedy."

                Harold hoped to hear more. Expected to hear more.

                But there was nothing.

                The room felt over-filled with detail. He could see the grout between the wall tiles, and it made him feel uncomfortable, almost in pain... as though the rough grit were in his joints, and against his skin.

                The scattered papers. The shattered desk-top.

                All hyper-vivid, but the room didn't feel real. Or, maybe he didn't.

                He dragged his body out of his chair. He gained his feet, and took a step. Walking reminded him of using a shitty old remote control car, where the signal gets weak and the buttons don't really do what they're supposed to as fast as they're supposed to.

                But he kept moving. He came to the door.

                Why did he feel so disjointed? Why did everything feel so focused, yet surreal?

                It was because from the moment he'd woken up and heard the first lockdown announcement, reality had stopped being a thing he could rely on. He still trusted it- of course. It couldn't be denied.

                But neither could it give him comfort. Because it was broken.

                Or rather, it was fucked.

                He was a werewolf. He wished that were a question. He wanted it to still be impossible.

                Harold admitted to himself, that he had been terrified when he'd thought there'd been a shooting- but it was worse now. 

                He felt miserable for thinking it, but he wished it was a shooting.

                If it were a shooting then, at least, it wouldn't be him.

                He did not look at the torn, crumpled halves of his art assignment. But neither did he forget what they looked like.

                He could see the creature, just beyond the shadow at the edge of his sight.

                It was waiting, it's face as blank as the wolf's skull, but it's posture and the tilt of it's head showed him one thing: 
eagerness.

                The thing wanted control again. And it would have it. It would have him, and through him it would have whoever it wanted, the moment he fell asleep again.

                He put his hand on the door, and it hit him like an electric shock: through him. If he weren't alive, he couldn't very well be a vessel for this... demon.

                Harold pulled the door open. He saw the blood.

                The police had put up vertical barriers, that went almost from floor to ceiling, blocking off the section of the hall that previously (or maybe still) had contained a corpse. There was another set up of dividers around the women's restroom, which had once contained his girlfriend.

                But the blood spatter couldn't be hidden with a divider, it was on the lights. it was on the ceiling. And the floor was a mess.

                And he remembered Marcy's announcement, asking students in Section A to remain in their rooms until an escort arrived... Because the halls were filled with blood and they probably had to... Had to what?

                Clean it? They couldn't clean a crime scene. Section it off?

                Warn everybody to keep their eyes to the floor?

                He felt light headed.

                And he could feel the wolf looming.

                Maybe they didn't want Section A to leave, because somebody in Section A was a suspect.

                Maybe the cameras had seen him change! Maybe they were on their way to apprehend him.

                His should have welcomed the safety of a cell. A minute ago he had been contemplating the safety of suicide. But an unwanted instinct kicked in: self preservation.

                Harold stepped out into the hall.

                His pulse was quickening.

                He looked for the camera. And found it. Directly overhead.

                It was aiming down the length of hall, and he doubted it covered the doorway. So it couldn't see him now.

                He moved farther out, and... What had they said? If we wanted rides, go the cafeteria?

                No, he would not.

                He picked up the pace, away from the camera.

                "Sir?"

                He spun so hard on his heel, he nearly fell over.

                There was a cop looking at him. He had been behind one of the barriers, he was wearing gloves and had a forensic kit sealed in a bag. "Sir, we are escorting all students out of this hall, there's still an ongoing investigation."

                The officer looked up the hall, in each direction and sighed, threw his gloves on the ground before hitting the radio, "Command, This is Marcus, I've got a kid up here at Scene A, can I escort him? Over."

                "Negative, the forensic team is en route, you need to be on hand to receive them. We'll send someone to you. Over."

                "Copy." He looked at Harold, and shook his head. "Sorry kid, we've gotta wait. You'll probably be more comfortable if you wait in that classroom."

                "Not a chance in hell." The words came out without his prior knowledge. And he immediately regretted speaking so boldly to a man who was carrying a firearm. But seemed unable to stop. "I know my way through the school, I don't need an escort."

                "Look, they want you kids in this section to walk out with an officer. So you don't impede the investigation, and so you have somebody nearby in case you... go into shock or something."

                "I'm not gonna impede the fucking investigation, I just wanna get out of here and make sure my girlfriend is okay!"

                The officer seemed to sympathize. He sighed again, "I can escort you past this mess," He gestured at the dividers and the carnage they partially concealed. "But, do you even know if your girlfriend went to the bus loop or the cafeteria?"

                "I dunno. She was with you guys I think."

                The officer's eyes widened, "What's your girlfriend's name?"

                "Emily Green, she said she was trapped in the bathroom. She was assessed by the first responders. They probably got her home by now."

                "Well my dad is in the side lot, he's waiting for me."

                The officer looked down the hall again, and sighed. "Alright, I'll just escort you past this," he gestured broadly, "and you're good to get there on your own right?"

                Harold nodded. So they didn't know it was him.

                "Follow me."

                Harold glanced once more at the camera, and figured it might have missed the action. Either that, or they didn't view the logs yet.

                The officer led him around the crime scene barriers, "Try not to look, kid. The thing that did this..."

                Harold didn't mind that the officer trailed off, he wasn't all that interested in chatting.

                They made it past the second barrier, the one that blocked the view of the women's restroom.

                He trembled at the thought, Emily! She had been so close to an evil thing.

                Close enough to hear it... probably to smell it. And she had been brave enough to open the door and pull Hanlon to safety.

                Would he have done it? Would he have risked his own ass to save the utter ass-hat that was Hanlon.

                No, he didn't think he'd be brave enough, nor compassionate enough.

                He would have let the wolf feast.

                That admission pained him, and he grimaced.

                "Alright kid, you're clear to head to the parking lot, I'm heading back before forensics show up."

                Harold tensed up, at the thought of scientists testing the blood, the prints, and the fur. What if they figured everything out.

                Wouldn't that be for the best anyway? Still he asked, "Was it definitely an animal? Why forensics?"

                The officer nodded. "Definitely an animal. Forensics is gonna try to find out what kind, and we want to know how and why. Stay safe kid. Buddy up, don't go wandering around alone. The reason they want escorts is because we don't know where that animal is now. We only know it's not in the school. We've got men searching the grounds, but who's to say where it's gone. Do NOT go wandering around, straight to your dad's car, got it?"

                The officer wanted him to be cautious, but Harold didn't need to be scared, at least not for himself. "Thanks officer."

                Still, the only place he wanted to go was to the car. To his dad.

                As he turned away, he brought out his phone and called his father.

                "Dad? I'm on my way to the side lot."

`               "Okay son." His dad's voice was shaky, "I'm here Harold."

                "Dad..." He wanted to say the same things he'd said to Emily. He wanted to explain that he was some kind of monster. But all he managed was: "I'll be out in a minute."

                And then he was standing in the chilly autumn air.

                His dad was standing by the car and at their first sight of each other Harold saw the worry melt out of his father's face.

                The tension around his eyes relaxed enough for tears slip free and he called with a choke, "Harry!"

                Harold ran to his father and they drew each other into a trembling embrace.

                "I love you son."

                "I love you too dad."

                "Thank God you're alright. Thank God, thank God..."

                And Harold felt his father's chest heave. And he felt his own tears stream down his face.

                But where his father was all relief, he was all anguish. A twisted knot of coiled threat.

                He knew and hated the danger that loomed over his head, or within it.

                And the embrace grew uncomfortable.

                He pulled away. His dad squeezed his shoulders one last time and then wiped his face with his hands.

                Harold had never seen his father cry before.

                He had done plenty himself, over the past few hours, but it was a different thing entirely to see the tears fall from the one he admired most.

                And he hated the wolf. Hated it for everything. For killing Joe and his dog. For killing the security guard. For tearing Hanlon's body. For trying to devour Emily. For terrorizing his father. And he hated the false relief, the false sense of safety that had loosed the flood gates on Bill Maria's emotions.

                Because the danger was not over. And Harold doubted it would ever be.

                "Dad. I wasn't kidding."

                His father's eyes were still wet and red. "Kidding?"

                "Remember what I said over the phone, I'm..."

                Bill Maria shook his head. "No Harold, not yet. I'll hear everything. I promise. Once we're in the car."

                So they stifled their emotions and climbed into the car. The heat pumped out dry air and washed the autumn weather off their clothes.

                Harold did not allow himself to hesitate. "I am a werewolf dad, I'm certain."

                He looked at his dad, waiting for an answer.

                His father shook his head. "You understand Harold, that's a really tough idea for me to grasp. But tell me why you'd come to that conclusion. I'll hear you out."

                And tensed his soldiers and he laid it all out. Every attack, from Rufus to Hanlon happened while he was asleep. His own location could not have been confirmed during any of the attacks. And he was known to be missing when Joe was killed. And he had drawn the beast, before he had known. And he had dreamed about the skull gnawing on his body the night after they unearthed it. He ended with, "The spear and the skull dad. That's some messed up shit. Like satanic or something. Remember how I got scratched."

                Harold held up his finger at that, showing the delicate red line that was now mostly healed.

                His father gave a nod- it was slight but it was still there. His face was grim, and his lips drawn thin. "I'm not saying you're right. I admit the lines connect, but the entire premise is built on stuff I simply do not believe. A satanic wolf? Look. I'm not saying you're logic is broken, Harry. But I just can't wrap my head around this being the answer."

                "I know it sounds fucking insane."

                His dad chuckled, and they both lost some of their tension. "Yeah, you're fuckin' right! But- just for the sake of argument- if you really are po- Jesus Christ! If you really are possessed by a wolf, what do you suggest we do?"

                "All this shit started when we dug it up."

                "The skull." His dad nodded again, this time it was slightly more confident.

                "And the spear."

                "Then what should we do, you want to rebury it? Those history nuts over at the library will be kinda bummed out, won't they."

                "Who gives a fuck if they're bummed out. But, yes. I think we put the spear back in the skull, and put the whole mess back in the dirt. Maybe read the Latin, for good measure."

                "You know that guy from the museum called me while you were at school. He said he thinks the other writing is Cherokee. When you called during the lockdown... I should have told you. Or rather, I could have. But I didn't want to heap more on your plate. But now that were talking about it in person, the guy said the Cherokee writing, roughly translated, says 'wolf spirit came for revenge and stayed for evil.' He thinks some superstitious farmers had wolf trouble, around the time of the Civil War. Really it's all just a guess, from a basement techie. But he said he thought one was Cherokee and one was German. If I understood him right, he thought the German one killed the wolf to protect his livestock, and the Cherokee told him that the wolf's ghost would come back for revenge or something. The German got a priest involved, and here we are."

                Harold slumped back in the passenger seat, and tried to process. "If they just killed a regular old wolf, then... Why... So they did the ritual to stop a regular wolf from coming back for revenge?"

                His dad just shrugged. "Only their best guess."

                "Well it didn't work."

                Then his father raised an eyebrow, and glanced at him. "If we assume your explanation is on the money... Then it did work. At least until it stopped working. When we dug it up, and tampered with it... right?"

                Harold took his turn to shrug. "I dunno. God, what the hell? Either they caged a demon and we let it loose, or... or maybe... Maybe it was just a fucking wolf, and they conjured one up with all their magic mumbo jumbo."

                Bill Maria chuckled again, but it was forced, and neither of them felt an ounce of humor. "So we'll bury it. And that'll fix it."
                "And if it doesn't fix it?"

                "If it doesn't fix it, then you'll just have to accept that you're not a goddamned werewolf."

                Harold did not answer. He knew what he knew and there was no doubt in his mind- he was afflicted. But he was not so sure that their plan would work. He was not so sure... Because he did not believe that the ritual spear and the skewered skull actually caged a vengeful wolf's spirit. He felt it in his bones.

                It had been a regular wolf that had been killed, and it was long dead. It had no ghost, and no compulsion for revenge. The thing that came crawling up through the dirt and decay was a devil. It had sniffed the remnants of their superstition and their ritual... their fear. It had come from somewhere else and sprang it's jaws shut, tight on him.

                "Maybe we get an exorcist?"

                His dad nodded, this time it was immediate. "Harold, I'm not buying into this stuff but I want closure for you. If it will give you peace, we'll do it all. We'll bury the skull this evening. We'll get an exorcist tomorrow morning."

------------------------------------------
Chapter 21: Can You Dig it? Part ll

                When they pulled into the driveway, Harold's mother came running out of the house. She gave him no window of opportunity to exit the car- the second his door was open, she practically climbed into the car and gave him a very sobby hug.

                She kissed his forehead and he felt like a little kid again- not to say he felt bad. He felt cared for.

                When she finally spent all her tears and kisses, Harold's father gently tugged her back, and Harold stood out of the car.

                "Mom, I'm..." He looked at his father, who gave him a very clear shake of the head with wide and stern eyes. "I'm fine mom."

                "Oh God Harry, your father told me the school was in lockdown and he was going to get you. I rushed home from work, and oh my God!" She started smothering him with kisses once again. "Oh sweet Jesus, thank you Jesus."

                He hugged her back, and saw his dad's expression had relaxed again. When he finally pried himself free of his mom's desperate embrace, she managed to say, "Let's get you some food."

                He smiled, and it felt like it was the first time he'd ever made that particular expression in his entire life. "Yeah mom, let's have dinner."

                "It's a little early to call it dinner, Harry."

                "I know, but this has been, literally, the longest day. I'm ready to eat and pass out." He forgot himself and smiled.

                She practically ran back into the house, and Harold followed, until his dad grabbed him by the arm. "Harold, your mother doesn't need to know the details. She doesn't need to know the... gore of what you saw. And she doesn't need to know what we talked about in the car. Don't stress her out more than she already is."

                "I know dad."

                And they went in.

                Dinner was cold pizza, sourdough with olive oil, and some hastily chopped and fried squash.

                But the food didn't matter. Harold was just happy to be home. The grinning devil that stood on his shoulder didn't seem quite so real, or so threatening when he was sitting at the table with his mom and dad.

                And happy wouldn't be the term- how could they be happy? Their neighborhood was still rocking in sorrow, and now this- though they wouldn't have said they were happy... they felt a glimmer of peace. A glimmer of rest. A bit of comfort.

                Then dad cleared the table.

                When the food disappeared, the feeling of peace popped like a bubble. His mother leaned in, and asked, "Tell me everything, Harry. Get it off your chest."

                "I... I can't talk about it right now mom. It's all too fresh."

                She winced.

                "I don't mean... Mom I'm not trying to hurt you. I'll tell you everything in time. For now, can we just pretend things are normal? I'm here, I'm fine. Or, I will be. It's just a lot to process."

                "The fastest way to process is to talk it out. Don't you trust me?"

                A mild nag of annoyance cramped the back of his neck. Sure it was kind of low of him to sidestep his mom. But it wasn't so big of her to ply him for details. "Mom, of course I trust you, but I'm not ready. relive any of that. All I want is a bit of peace. Some distraction."

                His dad came back into the room. "And I have just the idea for that! While it's still light out let's get some garden work done."

                "Really Bill? Gardening? At a time like this?"

                "Yeah, unless Harry doesn't want to."

                "No, mom it's fine. I love working in the garden, it'll be the perfect distraction. You wanna garden mom?"

                She sighed.

                And they went outside.

                They laid the skull and spear beside the fire pit.

                And they dug.

                It was hard work- they lifted the coals. They undid the stone.

                They tore the gravel away in great tumbling shovelfuls.

                They widened the whole, they tore down into the earth.

                And they found the place.

                When they had pierced and scraped their way down far enough to return the artifacts. They stood dirty and tired. When they stopped moving, they felt the chill of the Fall evening air as it whisked away their sweat and sent goose-bumps up their arms.

                His father leaned on his shovel, and nodded to Harold. "Ready?"

                "There wasn't much to say. He picked up the spear. And felt a pang of unease. He wanted to be rid of it. He read aloud, "'Lupus daemonium, expulso est. Non repetiturum. Sit laus Deo.' Then he drove the spear point through the grinning skull.

                Corners of the bone screeched against the iron, like nails on slate.

                He grimaced.

                The iron rested at a point, but nothing felt right.

                Harold wanted the thing out of his hands. He wanted it buried and forgotten.

                He shoved it down into the crumbling dark. He felt the tip grind against the deeper clay, and drove it down as hard as he could. His arm ached from the effort and his body shook.

                He drew away from the hole, and clumsily dragged his shovel across the piled mound of dirt. It trickled into the hole, but not nearly quick enough.

                The eyeless sockets of the skull glared up at him.

                Harold let out a little cry, and desperately strained to dump as much soil, his movements became frantic.

                He felt a hand on his shoulder.

                His father eased him aside and did the shoveling himself, calm and confident.

                The skulls eyes winked shut, covered by lids of clay.

                More dirt fell into the hole. The spear was soon buried.

                And Harold forced himself to breath, willed himself to feel relief. But he was acutely aware of the fact that nothing really felt any different.

                They worked to pile it all back in. Then they laid the gravel once again. And they decided to re-line the stones tomorrow, because they were tired from the physical and emotional strain.

                His father clapped him on the shoulder, and they put their shovels away. Then they went inside.

                Harold's mom called from upstairs. "How was gardening?"

                Harold looked to his father.

                His father called back, "We did everything we needed to."

                They got cleaned up.

                They wished each other a good night.

                But Harold hesitated at the stairs. And he whispered, 
"Dad, are we gonna definitely get an exorcist tomorrow?"

                "Absolutely. I'll call the diocese first thing. I guess they'll know what to do from there."

                "Okay."

                Then Harold made his way to his room. His bed called to him.

                His bones ached. His muscles were sore and tender. His brain was a knot of pressure.

                His pillow looked soft, the blankets a luxury of comfort.

                He reached out and touched the pillow. It gave against his fingers, and he frowned deep.

                He could not let himself sleep. He remained in his clothes for fear of getting to comfy.

                What if he turned? Again?

                What if the ritual failed. What if he turned and attacked his parents- a sudden dreadful thought split his mind like a lightning wedge... What if the ritual failed because they got the wrong skull?

                What if the way to end the threat was to end himself, with the cursed- or blessed- spear itself?

                What if it was the only thing that could end the danger- his danger- the madness?

                He imagined himself shedding the skin of his face, and revealing the wolfish snout and fangs of the buried skull. He imagined himself bounding down the hall and paying a visit to his parents. He imagined himself visiting their flesh and their blood and their pain.

                Harold leapt to the door and locked it.

                Then he cursed himself for a damned fool. The lock wouldn't stop the beast.

                "It's gone. It's done. Dad and I buried it, I'm free."

                But his words were weak, and his ears knew it.

                "Then I won't fucking sleep."

                But his lids were heavy, and his limbs were dead weight.

                He clenched his jaw, and looked out the window. Peace outside, called him to just sit on the bed. Just rest for a couple moments. Just lay down.

                His eyes drifted shut.

                He forced himself back up, and heaved the window open.

                Stumbling, half drunk with exhaustion, he stuck his face into the cool darkness- to wake himself up. The freshness on his skin pricked him with a vague alertness, but the overarching exhaustion still tugged at the rest of his body.

                He knew if he stayed in the house he would sleep. And he knew if he slept his parents would die.

                He pulled himself through the window, and out onto the garage roof.

                Cold gripped his arms and legs, and shook the remnants of weariness off his body. He caught his second wind.

                Moving on all fours, down the shingles he came to the edge and lowered himself to the ground.

                The chilly air, nipped his fingers. He stuffed them into his pockets, and found his phone.

                A line of texts from Emily:

                "Hey Harry. Call when you get home."

                "Harry are you ok?"

                "Harry please give me a call I want to talk."

                And the most recent one, only 15 minutes ago, "Harry, call me before you go to bed... Please I just want to hear your voice."

Chapter 22: Young Love

                He tapped her name, and heard the phone ring.

                "Harry?! Oh my God, thank you! I've been waiting for your call, what the hell happened?"

                A wave of calm and comfort eased his beaten mind. "Jesus, Em it's fucking great to hear your voice. Dad drove me home, and after dinner we... buried the skull."

                "Harry, the werewolf thing, that's why you didn't call me?"

                He read her incredulity loud and clear. And he did not mind, because he wanted her to be right. He so wanted reality to fix itself, and stick to the guidelines. And her skepticism- and now, in retrospect- his father's- was a glimmer of the old reality, the one he had taken for granted.

                "No Em, that's not why I didn't call. Or that's not the only reason. I just got your text messages, and... Well. I pushed you out of my mind because I really am serious- I'm dangerous. I did not want to-"

                "Dangerous?! I thought we talked about this Harry, you can't do it alone. We have to trust each other. We have to trust love. You said you loved me Harry, and I know it's true. It's early to say a thing like that, but I know you mean it because you aren't a liar."

                "I do... I love you Emily."

                "Then trust me when I say, I know you wouldn't hurt me."

                "Of course I wouldn't. But, I also would never hurt Joe, that security guard. Or even Hanlon. I fucking hated that guy, but I wouldn't have hurt him- and Rufus-"

                She cut him off, "You wouldn't have hurt any of them and you didn't. It has to be an animal."

                "Em, I'm positive it's not an animal. I know it's hard to believe I am what I say, but I'm certain beyond any shadow of a doubt. I know it in my soul."

                "Harry, I know something in my soul too. If a monster like the one you insist you are could not exist without the power of hate, and love always conquers hate. Why did you bury the skull?"

                "To end it. It started when we dug out the skull, so 
putting it back in should have undone everything. Or atleast bound the spirit, or devil, or whatever it is back under the earth."

                "But you feel it didn't work?"

                "What gave me away, Em?"

                "Mainly your defeated tone. So if that didn't work, what will?"

                He thought of the spear, under the dirt. He was pretty sure if he dug it back out, and used it in a ritual on himself, the problem would be solved. But he told her, "I'm pretty much out of ideas."

                "So try love."

                He thought about digging, and new he did not have the energy, or will. He'd certainly collapse under exhaustion and fall into sleep if he tried it.

                "Love? What do you mean, try love? I do love you, Em, what else am I supposed to try?"

                "Let me see you Harry."

                He groaned. He remembered the feel of her cuddling in front of him by the bonfire. He remembered the smell of her, how her scent had filled his senses with a buzzing electricity.

                "Em."

                "Let me see you Harry. I'm on my way over."

                "On your way? How. Your mom is driving you? She's okay with you being out this late, when the news said there's a killer animal on the loose?"

                "She doesn't know I took the car."

                He smiled. "Emily, you are a fucking badass, you know that?"

                "Yep. Come to the driveway, I'll be there pretty soon."

                He couldn't help but smile. "I didn't even know you could drive, Em."

                "Yeah, I don't have a license yet, but that's just a technicality. Are you coming out front?"

                "I... Em... This all feels so normal, you know?"

                "What's wrong with normal Harry?"

                "Em, I'm sorry. I can't."

                "I'll fucking ring your doorbell and wake the whole house up, if you don't get your cute ass out front."

                He couldn't help but frown. "No Em. I can't risk it. Besides I'm not home. I don't wanna turn and hurt my mom and dad."

                "Harold, what the fuck? Stop running away, let me see you. Besides, if you're worried about falling asleep, I have a couple ideas... You know... ways to keep you awake."

                But he missed the promise of passion because two words stuck in his mind 'running away'. "Em, this is gonna have to be goodbye. I'm a monster. I need to get far away from you and the other people I care about."

                "Absolutely not." He heard her voice crack, and knew she was starting to cry. "Harry, you can't. You can't do this to me. I love you too."

                It was the first time she had said it. His heart cracked worse than her voice, and he squeezed his temples.

                "Em, my God."

                He could hear the tears in her words, and it made his soul ache. "Harry, I love you and you are NOT going to do this to me. You are not going to push me out. This day... I need someone to talk to, just as bad as you do. I need someone to hold. I need to be held. If you aren't by that fucking driveway when I pull up, I'll break right in two."

                But he was already looping around the house. A calm resolve had settled over him, and draped itself across his troubled mind. She was right about one thing. He would never hurt her. And the only way the wolf would come over him was if he fell asleep.

                So he would keep himself awake, it wouldn't be that hard. Love.

                "I'll be there Emily."

                Her sobs came through the phone. "Oh, God."

                "I'll be on the front porch Em."

                She sighed, "Like ten minutes. I can't wait to see you."

                "Me too Em. Drive safe okay."  

                Then they ended the call.

                Harold paced the front porch. He glanced at the time. 10:30 pm, but it felt like 4 am.

                The second wave he'd had was shredded rags by now.

                He forced his eyes open wide.

                And the cold felt less like a slap of wakefulness, and more like a heavy blanket that quieted the twitches of anxiety.

                But he swore to himself: he would not sleep.

------------------

                Emily smiled. The feelings of anticipation warmed her even more than the car's heated air. She luxuriated in the wonderful feeling of desire- not just physical desire, but reciprocated want. Before the start of senior year, she'd have never admitted to believing in such a thing as soul mates. But Harold was perfect for her, through and through.

                They were meant to be. And they would...

                She wanted him. She wanted him in her life. In her days. She admired his mind. The fact that he felt the same way was towards her and showed it was pure relief and brightness.

                She pulled onto his street.

                It reminded her... She thought about the safety and acceptance she'd felt in his arms, the night of the bonfire. That was the moment where she had known he was hers and she was his. The feeling of his arms around her. She, wished for that feeling once more.

                Emily longed for his breath on the back of her neck, and the feel of his chest rising behind her.

                She pulled into his driveway.

                She let herself savor a slice of fantasy, of something else rising behind her, his chest now heaving.

                She opened the door.

                Emily felt her pulse quicken, and caught her breath. She wanted him to touch her.

                She came around the car, walking through the gleam of the headlights. She saw him on the porch, a shadow beyond the glare.

                "Harold!" She saw him coming down the walkway so she picked up her pace, and practically skipped along to meet him. Her mind was a blur of drunken anticipation.

                She wanted his hands on her.

                She wanted his body on her.

                She wanted his mouth on her.

                When she moved beyond the lights, her eyes adjusted. She saw him, naked to the night- his eyes like two deep and empty sockets, his mouth drawn in a crooked, jackal grin. His face was hard and bone-white.

                She screamed, and stepped back. "Harry?! HARRY!"

                It was true! Was it true?

                Her mind lashed out and told her to flee- instantly. But her heart... reached out and tugged her back, ever so gently. She did not turn. She did not run for her life. She hesitated. Her heart told her love conquers all, even hate.

                She tried to sound brave, but she was terrified. "Harry, I love you! This isn't you Harry, you love me too!!!"

                And her mind was flooded with doubt. She could not stop her voice from shaking: "It's me, Emily. Harry, please, we're meant to be together!"

                He lunged forward, and brought her crashing down.

                His claws.

                His naked body on top of her.

                His teeth sinking into her flesh, spilling her blood which was still so warm with desire.

THE END



Thanks for reading this. I wish I could say the ending left me satisfied. But it didn't. 

I'm still REALLY fucking pissed at Joe for what he did to my fucking tomatoes. 

And I can't fucking sleep.