The website of David F Porteous
The website of David F Porteous
Just sharing a small piece of work in progress on the third book - which has a title, but which I'm not going to tell you. This a conversation that takes place between Campbell and Stockton, relating the latter's experience with werewolves . . .
"I met a man once, his eyebrows were heavy and his hands thick covered with coarse black hair.”
“He told me a story that I believe, about how he had been bitten and lived and did not change when the moon waxed full. I asked him how and he told me—”
“Drink lots of water,” Campbell interrupted. “Pretty much all health advice comes down to sleep, exercise, diet or drinking lots of water.”
“He told me that the wolf is hungry because it needs to be fed. He told me that his brothers knew he had been bit and they knew he had to die. Remember in those days every credulous villager went around wreathed in garlic and amulets, and alternated the veneration and immolation of toothless crones who spoke to trees. According to the mad old woman they most recently listened to, the proper way to deal with a werewolf was to cut off all of its limbs with an axe, bury the four limbs in four graves aligned towards Jerusalem, then put the body, head and a pile of rocks into a barrel of wine and throw the barrel into the ocean.”
“That’ll do it,” Campbell confirmed.
“Understandably the brothers couldn’t bring themselves to do any of it. This man was their brother, they loved him, they had no idea which way Jerusalem was, and wine was very expensive. Instead they found a cave in the mountains near where they lived, they put their brother inside and they rolled a stone over the entrance. For six days they waited; three before and three after the full moon.
“On the morning of seventh day they returned to bring out his body and give him a proper burial according to their traditions. He was their brother, they loved him, they couldn’t leave his bones to rot in some mountain cave, and – what was even more important – he’d taken all the family’s money into the cave with him so he knew they would have to come back for him.
“Rolling a stone into place was, the brothers discovered, much easier than rolling it back out again. It took them hours to uncover the entrance and, as is so often the case, after so much work the final revealing happened quickly. Rather than find a beast, or the body of a man starved to death, their brother stood at the entrance to the cave—”
“How big was this cave?” Campbell asked.
“He may have crouched at the entrance of the cave. In any case he emerged; a little thinner perhaps, but alive and well. Now the brothers rejoiced. Because they loved their brother, and they had their money back, and they hadn’t told their elderly mother about the whole cave in the mountains bit before they did it and she was furious.
“So they went home and all was well. Though nobody doubted that there were werewolves, people began to disbelieve that the beast that had bitten our protagonist was such a creature. Others said that the cave in the mountains was obviously magical and suggested that anyone with an illness should be confined inside for a week to see if they got better. This idea did not immediately appeal to any sick people in the village and was never tested.
“Never?” Campbell asked.
“No. A few days short of a month later the first brother – the one who had been bitten – should I have given them names?”
“You’re the writer.”
“Let’s say the older brother was called Krebotkin and the others brothers . . . well if I name them then I have to decide if there were two or three.”
Campbell said, “I was imagining three.”
“Tom, Dick and Harry,” Stockton said. “A few days short of a month later Krebotkin killed Tom and Dick. Harry and their mother had gone on a pilgrimage to a distant church, to pray on the bones of a saint who was known to cure feelings of homosexuality.”
“Oh that Harry,” Campbell said ruefully. “He just couldn’t leave the miller’s son alone.”
“The pair returned to find slaughter,” Stockton said. “And Krebotkin had fled into the woods, or mountains, or another terrain feature, and they never saw him again.”
“So this Krebotkin in your story was a werewolf?” Campbell asked.
“Yes,” Stockton said. “He was. Obviously when he finished telling me this story he tried to kill me and so I broke his neck, hacked off his limbs, buried the pieces in several graves orientated towards Jerusalem and drowned the rest of him in wine. Because really, if you didn’t, after all that, you’d have to be some kind of schmuck.”