Night materialized over Interstate 8. Frank Gibber peered out at the Arizona desert as he drove, his mind thinking of getting home from his business trip. His van suddenly stalled and came to a complete stop; his check-engine light began to flash.
"Dammit," he exclaimed.
Frank reached to open the driver door and stopped himself as he immediately thought of the Urban Legends and horror stories that involved people leaving their vehicle at night to never see day again. Maybe I can call for help, he thought as he pulled out his cell phone. His signal had no bars.
"Of course," he blurted out to himself.
Frank used various things from his travel case and around the van to cover all of the windows. He crawled in the back and tucked himself in, underneath a blanket. He decided that he'd wait until it was light to go find help. Frank Gibber was nearly asleep when his van began to rock back and forth. The spare blanket he had used to cover the windshield fell off and he saw a furry, clawed hand smack against the windshield. The windshield cracked, but held. A fearful Frank shrunk himself under the blanket. Something scraping against the van could be heard.
7 AM rolled around and the sunlight shone into the van through the windshield. The warmth of the sunlight bathed Frank's blanket, its warmth calmed him. Frank came out from underneath the blanket and slowly peeled the makeshift covers off the windows. He saw nothing but road and desert for miles, that was both good and bad.
After grabbing a few essentials, Frank cautiously stepped out of the van. His van was shot. Scratch marks adorned the metalwork, the back left tire was shredded, the backdoors were decorated with dents that appeared to have come from large fists, and the windshield was cracked.
"What the hell did I manage to avoid?"
Faced with no alternative, Frank Gibber walked north on the I-8 longing for his wife. The further he walked, the more animal carcasses he found. Initially Frank was unfazed, he became disturbed when he noticed a similarity between them all. The teeth were missing. His gut told him that whatever had assaulted his van was responsible, and that the same fate awaited him if he couldn't find refuge before nightfall.
After walking for hours, Frank's water supplies were naught and his walking had been reduced to staggering. He'd nearly given up hope after he'd staggered for what felt like miles. His hope was restored when he managed to spot a house in the distance. Frank dizzily rang the doorbell. He silently prayed that someone would answer. His prayer was answered when the door swung open to reveal a well aged man in his boxers. Frank's mind raced with horror stories of recluses that ate people.
"Please, don't eat me," Frank managed as he succumbed to dehydration.
Frank's eyes opened. He slowly took in his surroundings to find that they were unfamiliar. All he knew was that he was in a house. The power was out and the owner was nowhere to be seen. As he slowly rose from the couch he heard a crash to his right. He turned and immediately spotted a furry fist that had crashed through a window. The fist un-balled and extended a clawed middle finger as the hand slowly retracted from the window. The whole house began to shake; the shaking was followed by loud roars that were coming from outside. The shaking stopped and the front door splintered open as Frank's van crashed through it and part of the wall.
The driver door opened and out stepped—Frank's eyes shot open as he awoke from his nightmare, to a loud piercing sound that he realized to be his own screams. The aging man he had seen earlier was now fully clothed and walked over to him while shushing.
Frank blinked a couple of times to clear his head. "You're clothed now."
"I was doing laundry when you showed. It isn't like I ever get visitors out here. Well, welcome visitors anyway," the man replied in a southern accent.
"So... You aren't going to kill me?"
"Not unless you deserve it. Why would you go and think of something like that?"
"I have had nothing but bad luck. Being butchered and eaten seemed like the natural progression of things."
"You clearly didn't end up here by choice. What brought you here?"
"My van broke down and was attacked in the middle of the night," Frank cautiously replied in an effort to hide that he wasn't from around Arizona.
"It sounds like you met ole Gumjaw."
"Not who, but what. Gumjaw has been around these parts for a while now and he's a crafty old bastard. A few years back he got my dog and nearly me, I barely made it inside in time," the southerner replied in an ominous tone.
Normally, Frank would have called anyone crazy that told him such; this was not one of those times.
"What is this Gumjaw? What does it want?"
"I know not what it wants, but I have noticed that it has a fascination with teeth. Likely because it's missing all, but a single tooth."
"How do you know this?"
The man rubbed his eyes in resignation and agitation.
"I watched it rip out my dog's teeth after I had made it inside. It tried to fit them in its mouth."
"You still haven't told me what Gumjaw is."
"And for good reason. Look, I'm going to head to town tomorrow. I'll take you then. It'll be best for you to have forgotten everything you've experienced by then. The name's Elliot Tubber by the way."
Frank Gibber was not pleased with being told to wait until the next day and he let that be known.
"Now listen here, Elliot. I've had my van destroyed, came close to death, am dealing with the unknown and you want me to sit here until tomorrow!?"
"Quiet down, you damn fool. It's dark out and I'm not willing to risk getting picked apart on the way out to the truck just because you can't wait a few hours. If you raise your voice again, I'm going to throw you outside on your bottom with a bell tied around your neck. There is no telling how close Gumjaw is and I don't want to draw its attention."
The two men sat quietly for quite some time, both thinking of how to cut through the tension. Frank finally came around and broke the silence.
"Do you have a working telephone?"
"No, Frank. I do not."
Frank left his spot on the couch and slowly began to back away from Elliot Tubber.
"How the hell do you know my name? I never gave it to you."
"Calm down, ya drama queen. I went through all of your belongings, including your wallet, to try to figure out who you were and why you were out here."
Frank Gibber sat back down on the couch relieved.
"Why do you live out here if you have to deal with that thing?"
"Believe it or not, Gumjaw is a more recent problem. Luckily, I've never had to deal with Gumjaw getting in my home."
"You didn't really answer my question."
"Frank, you need to learn to let things go. Especially your memory of this incident. There are things that you simply do not have to know."
A familiar scratching sound could be heard coming from the front door. Gumjaw was trying to claw its way in.
"Damn. He must have heard us talking or perhaps he thinks we are related. Come with me," responded Elliot Tubber in a strangely calm voice.
"Oh God! What are we going to do? I don't want to die!"
"Don't be such a pansy. Do what I say and you'll get out of this in one piece."
Frank turned his head back toward the door as he and Elliot were climbing up the stairs. The beast's head was through a freshly carved hole in the door, it was trying to crawl through. Frank was nearly pushed to his breaking point when he saw the creature clearly for the first time. Oh, how Frank regretted it.
Gumjaw's eyes were a brilliant, but unsettling emerald, his ears so pointy and all the better for hearing, his mouth all gum except for a single tooth, his nose all black and wet, and his fur the dullest of greys.
"That's a fucking werewolf," Frank exclaimed in a panic.
Frank followed Elliot into a dark room. Elliot slammed the door shut and flipped on the light. Various firearms were encased in cabinets, but that wasn't all that caught Frank's eyes. The walls of the room were adorned with stuffed heads that belonged to various beasts; Werewolf, Kappa, Lizardman, and Yeti to name a few. Elliot Tubber began to speak, his southern accent missing.
"Frank, I haven't been forthcoming with you. The fact of the matter is that I used to be a Monster Hunter. Gumjaw is of my doing. A few years back, I caught wind of Gumjaw's presence in a small town down in Louisiana. I confronted and fought Gumjaw in a swamp. I emerged victorious, or so I thought. When I thought Gumjaw dead, I tore out his teeth as mementos, since I couldn't take his head as I had to go back through town. As I was on the final tooth, his eyes opened and his jaw snapped down, he almost got my hand with the pair of pliers he claimed. Up until Gumjaw, the whole silver bullet being needed to kill werewolves thing was just a myth, but with Gumjaw that has just got to be the way, there's always a way to kill something... He has the ability to heal from the most grievous of wounds."
Frank stared at Elliot with wide eyes.
"What is a damn werewolf doing in the desert?"
"It followed my scent. It wants its teeth back."
"So you live out here because you didn't want to lead it into a town?"
Elliot let out a deep sigh as he shoved a few more objects against the metal door.
"No. I didn't expect him to track me. I live out here because I messed up, really badly. I killed an innocent man that I thought was a Kreflim. His body was found and I was linked to it. I'm a wanted man. This house was provided to me by another member of my organization."
"What is a Kreflim?"
"Nevermind that. Have you ever used a gun before?"
"Just a couple of times."
"Good enough," Elliot responded as he handed Frank a magnum.
"So this thing is loaded with silver bullets?"
Elliot snorted as he picked up an AK, "No. Where and how would I even go about getting bullets made of silver?"
"Then how the hell are we supposed to kill that thing?"
"Who said anything about killing it? Your trip to town got expedited."
Frank Gibber stared blankly at the magnum in his hand, contemplating suicide.
"What's the point of the guns if we can't kill it?"
"Weren't you listening? We can still hurt it."
The makeshift barricade began to falter as the door began to buckle. Elliot Tubber smashed open the window to his right with the butt of his gun.
"Get on the roof," Elliot ordered.
The two men climbed onto the roof by way of the smashed out window just as Gumjaw broke into their previous location.
"I'm going to lower you down. I want you to unlock the shed and bring the truck around. Got it," Elliot stated.
Frank nodded, tucked the magnum into his waistband, and lowered himself to where he was hanging from the roof. Elliot knelt down, grabbed Frank's hands and slowly lowered him closer to the ground. Elliot let go after placing a key ring in his hand and Frank fell the rest of the way, landing on his feet. Frank sprinted to the shed as quickly as his legs would carry him. He fumbled with the key ring, trying to figure out which key matched the padlock. He heard gunfire coming from the roof.
"Screw it," Frank mumbled to himself as he drew the magnum and shot off the padlock.
Elliot fired rapidly as Gumjaw charged toward him, he rolled away at the last second. Gumjaw's feet scraped along the roof causing shingles to come loose as he walked, one such shingle shifted and refused to budge beyond that. Gumjaw's right foot became caught underneath the shingle. Elliot smiled when he noticed his adversary's predicament; he pulled the trigger and waited for the bullets that never came. Elliot looked down and realized that his clip was gone. He then looked back at Gumjaw and saw that pierced on his lone tooth was the ammo clip.
The rumble of an engine could be heard, Elliot decided to take a risk and turned his head to where he could glance down off the roof. The truck roared past his location, then the house, and onto the interstate.
"Fuck you, Frank," Elliot muttered.
Written by Doom Vroom