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It Runs in the Family

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I didn't know why at the time, but all of the neighborhood kids always shunned me, ever since I was little. I would see them playing ball or riding bikes outside my house, but when I would ask if I could join, they would just point and call me names. Said their parents thought I was weird, that my kind wasn't allowed there. I want to point out, I was physically no different from the kids. It was a white neighborhood, yeah, but I was white. I could never figure out what they meant. It didn't get terribly bad, mostly my mother just said that kids will be mean and that they would grow out of it and regret how they behaved. That is, until she was out there gardening while the kids were ridiculing me.

I thought nothing of the name, as I had been called it so many times in the past it had lost any emotionally damaging power it might have held, but when my mother heard it, she started tearing up and told me to get inside. I asked her what was wrong, I thought that kids will just be mean, and she said she didn't know they had been calling me this one name. I asked her what was wrong with it, she said I would understand when I was older, but for now, I should go to bed and not look out the window tonight, no matter what I hear.

I think it was around eleven o' clock, or so, I heard the back door tear open. Like, I could hear it come off the hinges. I was obviously too scared to investigate, but I did find the courage to get up and lock my door. Then I heard something outside. It sounded like a huge dog was outside my house, panting, growling, and snarling. Accompanying it was a soft pounding, which I assumed to be whatever it was running through the street, though it sounded like it had only two legs. Then I heard a crash a few houses down, and a woman screaming, a couple of gunshots (this was Texas in the 30s, you were considered weird if you didn't have a gun in your house), then a man screaming. Some people come out of their houses, a few guns loudly cocking, then the dog-thing sounded like it was running straight for my window. I was about to piss my pants when I heard it just stop right outside. I was confused as to what happened, then I heard a loud thump towards the back of the house, then whatever is was sounded like it headed into the forest behind our house.

I was scared stiff that night and didn't sleep. My mother came in the next morning and asked if I had been a good boy and not looked out my window. I told her I had been, and I asked her what happened. She started to look a bit sadder and told me that a boy with a dirty mouth got punished for being mean to me. I liked this idea, and I asked how he got punished. She told me he died. Being at this age, I wasn't entirely sure what death was, but I had something of an idea. I asked her who punished him and why they were much louder than her when she punished me, but she wouldn't tell me.

After that, the kids in the neighborhood never called me names again, but they still avoided me. It's been about twenty-five years since that happened. About ten years ago, I moved away, moved a few states to where I thought nobody would know what I was. I moved to southern Kentucky, out in the country. At the time, I thought I might be able to make a living helping farmers who probably wouldn't refuse any help they can get in the summer. I figured this would be a decent idea as my body is mysteriously very toned and muscular, yet lean, even though I've never really put any effort into it. Everything went great, I found an old farmer and his wife and son who said I could live with them so long as I did my share on the farm. I never got tired working out in the field and was always confused as to why everyone else was ready to drop after only twelve hours of work. The farmer praised my stamina, asked what I had been before I came out here. I told him I was a college dropout who never had a job. He was surprised at this news, said he thought I was in construction, or some business that required lots of lifting. It was nice talking to people who weren't my mother for once.

A few months went by, everything was great. Then... I don't know what the hell happened. The farmer had set me up on the plough so I could prepare the field for the seeds he would plant later in the Spring, since his work horse was a touch on the ill side and I had only moderate difficulty moving the instrument through the ground. I got around halfway through the field when I heard some noises coming from around the barn. I looked over and saw a small group of kids, probably eleven of twelve years old, running around the barn, kicking it, splashing paint on it, just generally vandalizing it. I called over to them, telling them to stop, that we had just finished and painted that barn. They just looked over at me, mocked me for taking the place of the horse. I could handle that. Then one of them pulled out a matchbook.

I don't quite know what happened next, but my skin felt like it was on fire. I woke up in the barn with a few chicken feathers in my mouth.

I went outside and it looked like I had been out for a few hours, and there was blood spilled around the barn. I was a little disturbed, but I tried to ignore it for now. The sun was setting and the sky was orange, while it had been around noon last I remembered. I walked around the acres of the man's property, looking for the plough, but I never saw it. No sign of the kids either. I checked right where I had left off and saw... claw marks in the ground. I got really freaked out right about now. I followed the claw marks and they mostly just wandered, each step being around five feet from the last and an inch or two deep. They eventually lead to the chicken coop. It looked like a massacre, there was blood and feathers everywhere. It reeked of chicken body fluids and feces. Even more so than normally. I almost vomited from the smell, but I left before it really got to me.

I ran to the house, about a third of a mile away, and found a big hole in the house. It may or may not be worth noting, but I saw none of those claw marks on the way, only to the coop and the barn, a few dozen yards from the coop. I walked through the hole and found the man's wife crying. I asked her what had happened, and she pointed to the cause of the wreckage; the plough had smashed through the wall. This freaked me out even more, as this wasn't a light plough, maybe around 400 pounds. Yet I had seen no sign of it moving on the ground for a third of a mile. I tried to calm her, said I would repair the hole with the farmer's help, then she just started bawling. I looked closer at the scene and saw a hand sticking out between two planks of wood. I recognized the wedding ring on that finger. About that time, the woman's son arrived home, and, after a fit of swearing, asked what happened. Not wanting to alarm any of them, I simply said I didn't know.

I tried to remove the plough from the pile of what used to be a wall, but it was pretty firmly wedged in there. I couldn't even make it budge but just a little. I was forced to leave it there, with the old man's body under it. It weighed heavy on my heart, the thought of that woman passing by her dead husband several times a day, and there was nothing I could do about it. I decided to leave the farm and stayed with Mildred and her parents for a while.

Ah, Mildred. Shortly after having moved to Kentucky, I met a sweet young girl named Mildred. She was about my age, a couple of years younger, and she was beautiful. Around 5'5", petite frame, though you could tell she was well-fed. I liked that combination. Her curly hair was brownish-red and went just past her shoulders. She had some freckles here and there, and the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, and have ever seen to this day. Her eyes were a lovely deep blue, an ocean I could stare into forever, if given the chance. I had started seeing her shortly after I met her in the diner where she was a waitress. I couldn't believe she wasn't taken, but I wasn't arguing. Anyway, she lived with her parents, and they were happy to have me stay with them for a while.

Being back in the city (or what passed for "city" in 50s Kentucky), I had a chance to do something I hadn't been able to in a while: call my mother. I used Mildred's phone, dialed the number I remembered us having and she picked up after a few rings. We chatted for a while, I told her about the farm, and Mildred, then I brought up the incident that had taken place about sixteen years prior. She went quiet for a while, then made me swear I wouldn't tell Mildred. I agreed, then she told me about a small French tribe, a long, long time ago.

Apparently, they were a band of thieves who roamed Europe. One day, she didn't say the year or anything, but the thieves made the mistake of trying to rob a group of gypsies. Of course, nobody takes being robbed too kindly, but most people don't notice until after the fact. Being thieves themselves, however, the gypsies caught on very quickly. Now, thieves don't take too kindly to being caught either, and the thieves greatly outnumbered the gypsies. Since it was rather easy to get away with murder back then, and gypsies weren't exactly royalty, the thieves figured they would just kill the group of money-grubbing fortune-tellers. They did have some pretty neat stuff, after all.

As the last gypsy lay bleeding out on the side of the road, she cursed the thieves, saying their anger will make them as dogs. They can suppress it all they want, but their killer instinct would emerge again eventually. The thieves brushed this off and left to examine the spoils. All was well, until a minor internal conflict. By now, you can expect what happened. Two thieves got mad with each other, more got involved, most ended up killing each other. The few that survived and witnessed this now knew the old gypsy meant business. They managed to suppress their anger quite well for quite a long time.

Now, an annoying thing about gypsy curses is that they don't end with the directly cursed. It becomes a bloodline deal. As such, it has followed my ancestors and ended up at me. Apparently, however, my ancestors gradually got better at containing their anger, and my mother only experienced this two or three times in her life. She thought my child might not experience it at all for a long time, if ever, should I decide to have one. I had mixed feelings about having a child, but there was something else I needed to ask my mother first. That name they called me back then, that caused what I now figured was her to do that to the boy. She told me what it was, and said it was a crude French term for our kind. She hated the phrase, so much in fact, that it caused one of her only experiences she'd ever had. I thanked her for finally sharing, then hung up the phone, as I had something to discuss with Mildred.

Mildred was oddly understanding of my condition, and agreed to never tell my mother that I told her about it. I love this woman so much. She was already my wife at the end of that year. Four years later, we had a beautiful daughter named Heather. Later that same year, we had moved back into the countryside.

Skip ahead five years to today. It turns out that they've heard of us here, or at least have now. I was outside around seven o'clock at night, fixing up my car, when my daughter ran up to me, crying because of what one of the kids had called her. She's five, so I didn't expect her to pronounce it too well, but I knew exactly what she meant. It was the name I was called so many years back. And to hear my daughter called that... it made my blood boil. I don't know why I was suddenly so sensitive about this name. My skin started to burn, but I managed to suppress it. I asked her which one it was, she said it was a girl with short brown hair who lived down the street. I knew the kid's parents. Nice people. I really didn't want to hurt them. But there was nothing I could do. I told Heather to go inside and don't come out no matter what she hears. As I walk down the road, calmly accepting the transformation as it overwhelms my body, I utter, well more of a growl really, what I can only assume my mother said on that night, twenty-five years ago.



"I'll show you a real loup garou."

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