PRW Runner-Up Tour:The Angel and the Wolfman by Michael Signorile
He stood taller than any of these commoners, a stark and hairy giant amongst all the rest. People cowered when he walked through the town, his face a visage of pure evil and hatred.
The men that trailed behind him were his loyal followers; murderers and war criminals and thieves, rapists and thugs. They were an army of chaos, a legion of darkness, pure evil.
This is no ordinary beast we follow here. This monster lurks among us, indistinguishable from the rest of our kind, our human race.
The leader of this death squad is a human. His men are just that.
More of a monster than any creature a child’s mind could dream up, this man has laid siege to village and city alike, burning souls alive, condemning them to the fires of Hell.
There was never remorse painted on his face for his actions, only delight, only glee.
This city was just the latest in his long line of conquered territories, another tally mark drawn upon the wall of victory, one painted in the blood of a conquered country’s inhabitants.
His men rejoiced at another skillful win, and began their usual routine of banditry and chicanery in the city. The Captain, as this monstrous man’s military merit made him, told his second-in-command to oversee the process.
He was retiring to his quarters for the evening, and was to not be disturbed. The second-in-command eagerly acknowledged his leader, knowing full well the time for pillaging and looting was now in his hands.
The Captain locked himself in the makeshift quarters his men had prepared for him, in the former Mayor’s office. He furiously coughed, bringing a handkerchief to his mouth; pulling it away revealed a heaping globule of blood.
He was not falling ill. The moon would be at its full point tonight. He had dreaded this day’s arrival, as he always had.
Tonight was the cycle’s new start. The Captain groaned in disparagement, for he knew what his other half would attempt to do, as it had done time and time before.
It was pathetic, truly, so he said.
It would flee across land, to faraway places, in an attempt to distance himself from this lifestyle of killing and warfare that he had become accustomed to, the lifestyle he loved.
He knew the beast couldn’t kill itself. It didn’t have the nerve, nor would he allow it. This much control was still granted to his person.
At first, the transformations had been painful, his human form twisting itself into that of a petty animal. The Captain liked it, however. He was a glutton for pain, receiving and causing it.
The moments where he was half man, half beast, the transition phase, it drove him mad with power and ideas. If only he could harness the skills of his other side, the animal within his soul, then there’d be nothing that would stand in his way.
He cursed the beast that had struck him with this punishment many moons ago. He had become his own monster many times, on countless occasions. There was no way to stop it. It was going to happen, no matter what.
His mind slowly blanked, fading to darkness, as the other took hold. This master plan to wrest control from his unwanted roommate would have to wait.
Where the Captain had once stood, there now sat a creature, covered in hair from snout to tail, shivering in fear.
It did not know why it had once again been brought back into this world, to exist amongst the warlike companions of his other half, during an onslaught of an innocent city.
He knew not why they fought, but he knew all too well of the crimes of the Captain, the man he would once again become at the rise of the sun. He hated his other half, that cruel and wicked man.
To flee from the field of battle, to distance this killer of women and children from those soldiers under his command, that was this beast’s new mission.
It was the same task he had always tried to fulfill every time he had been dragged back into this dreadful world: distance this murderous human from the killing floor, by whatever means necessary.
Maybe this time, he’d find himself far enough away to end his tyrannical reign of chaos. To go as far away from this bedlam, to perhaps flee from the care of his comrades, maybe that would be enough to stop the bloodshed.
Adorned in the tattered clothing of his human counterpart, the Wolfman fled from the Captain’s Quarters, and fled from the town in a panic.
The streets were choked with bodies and fire, ash and rubble. Off he went, barreling into the field and prairie alike, on all fours, as quickly as his legs could take him.
None of the Captain’s men noticed the beast’s grand escape. They were too inebriated on stolen spirits, too caught up in causing the sweet release of human spirits from their earthly forms as well, to notice their leader had become an animal.
Even as the beast fled from the scene of massacre, the death squad did as they were so prone to do. Any of the city’s inhabitants who stood against them were put up against the nearest wall, and erased from existence.
The guns sounded all night, a symphony of death. It would have been a performance the Captain would have dearly enjoyed. The Wolfman was to have none of that, to give this monster of a man the satisfaction of the event.
Children, women, men young and old, all were gunned down without remorse. The last things they saw were soldiers mocking them; the last things they heard were the noises of drunken laughter.
They all faded away slowly, one by one, their souls trickling from their bodies as fluidly as the blood that poured out of their wounds.
By the end of the night, most of the city had been wounded or brutally murdered. Their story may seem to have an unhappy ending, but even in death, there is always a silver lining.
Hand in hand, free from their earthly bindings, the fair citizens of this small city went off to the next world together, looking at the brighter side of things.
However, not everyone went with such optimism. Some stayed behind, unsure of what was really on the other side. Some glossed over the world, now in death seeing the things they never had the opportunity to examine in life.
A mere child, a young girl of nine, who had been cut down like many others, curiously examined her new ghostly form. She enjoyed flying around, through solid material and air alike. She deemed this the best thing ever, not understanding the concept of death.
Things were different, for sure. There was another side that she vaguely understood, but that didn’t matter, because now she could fly.
Heaven was a magical place, or so she had been taught. Her mother, and father, and brother, and grandparents were already there. That’d didn’t concern her though. What if there were no flowers up there?
Heaven was way up in the clouds. There might not be any flowers growing there, and even if there were, there might not be any Field Lilies. Those were her favorite kinds of flowers.
There was a small flower patch a long way away from the city. Maybe she would go and get some flowers to take with her, just in case.
The little girl twirled and soared through the air, far from the chaos of the living world, of the city turned battlefield. There was only delight in her actions, her ghostly form streaking across the sky like a shooting star.
A trip that would have normally taken hours and hours took only a short amount of time for this little angel. The field of flowers sprawled for as far as the eye could see, and shimmered in time with the wispy glow of the full moon above.
The Angel swooped around through the field, grabbing at bunches of flowers as she went. Though tricky at first to grasp, she quickly managed to pick handfuls of the Field Lilies, bundling them up into a beautiful and bountiful bouquet.
However, as she neared the end of her romp through the field, something caught her attention. An animal was lying down in the middle of the flowers, panting and howling softly. It seemed to be tired.
There, sitting in the middle of those sweetly smelling flowers, was the Wolfman, the creature the monstrous Captain had become. He was tired, in pain, worried he had not gone far enough.
Nowhere would be far enough to distance his body from the horrors his human side had caused.
The Angel swooped down from the sky, and set her bouquet gently on the ground. She tried to touch the strange creature, but her hand went right through him.
The Wolfman couldn’t see the Angel, couldn’t speak to her, but he knew he wasn’t alone. He could sense her, and knew that he wasn’t going through this madness alone tonight.
Remorse and regret filled him, knowing that this presence had to be one of the people cut down in the siege. The Wolfman howled with sorrow, and put his head down in his lap. He hated this life, this curse he was doomed to repeat over and over.
He wished he could end his life, and put an end to all of this madness. There wasn’t anything that could be done, for his monstrous human side fought any attempt to do so. He was still strong, and a fighter for life.
The Angel, seeing the Wolfman cry with regret, tried to do something to cheer him up. She danced, swooped through the sky, and made silly faces at him, but it was all in vain. He couldn’t see her.
Then, a brilliant idea struck the ghostly young girl. She moseyed over to where the Lilies lie, and hefted the bouquet. She still had enough connection with the living world to move these dying flowers.
A floating bouquet, when compared to a full-on Wolfman, isn’t exactly that strange of a sight. But the Wolfman nonetheless panicked when the flowers gracefully soared through the air towards him.
He grimaced, waiting for them to start assaulting and hitting him. He wasn’t a coward, per se, but the Wolfman wasn’t much of a fighter either. The Angel giggled at the silly little wolf, and danced the bouquet around his head.
After a few seconds, the Wolfman reasoned that the spirit from the town was having a bit of fun with him. Even in death, a horrible malicious end, there was still optimism to be had. This gave him some sense of satisfaction, but not much.
A horrible beast still dwelled within him, and come sunrise, it would be free once more to walk upon this world, without so much of a defense or guardian to stop it from killing again.
The Angel danced her flowers around, plucking petals and throwing them up into the air. The soft lily white petals rained down around the Wolfman, who found himself overjoyed at the sight.
It was as if the heavens above were raining praise down upon his shoulders, thanks for what he had tried to accomplish. It was a small consolation prize, he supposed.
He lay down in the field once more, thinking about he was trying to accomplish. There was no stopping his animalistic side. The Wolfman tried every full moon to halt his human side, but he always failed.
The Angel lay down next to him, though he couldn’t tell. He could only feel her positive emotions, her goodwill, and the hopefulness only a child could hold in their heart.
The Wolfman sorrowfully apologized to the spirit, saying that he wanted to do right. He just didn’t know when the time would come to do so.
That moment may come sooner than later. The murmuring of men talking from the other side of the hill filled the air, and increased in volume as time went one.
The soldiers, not at all content with burning one city to the ground tonight, marched their way towards the next juicy target on the other side of this hill. They were marching through a field of ridiculous flowers, so they commented.
Their boots crushed the Field Lilies underfoot, and they were stomping them with glee. They were a company of children, a battalion of bullies, a division of deviants and dummies. To destroy, to incinerate and maim, that’s what made them happy.
Taking life made them all feel alive.
With each flower cruelly crushed, the Angel began to shed a tear; her eyes had become waterworks. She couldn’t do anything to save the flowers, the ones that she loved ever so much. There wouldn’t be any to take to Heaven if this kept up.
The Wolfman’s senses were being driven mad with emotion. The pure innocence of this ghostly being hovering above inundated him with a sense of hope, a new meaning and purpose. It cared so much about these flowers, so purely and wholesomely.
He wanted to lash out, and strike down these monstrous men before they could kill again. But his human counterpart, the malicious Captain, still had some control over his body. There would be none of his men’s blood flowing tonight, as long as he had his way.
The Angel flew around the heads of these spiteful soldiers, trying to make them stop their heated march, but it was to no avail. They were cruel hearted men, and did not care for the trite worries of a now departed soul.
The Wolfman lay low as the soldiers marched by, with their rifles loaded for battle, their bayonets still slick with blood. Every fiber of his body ached to act out, and strike them down, but the Captain held him back.
He chuckled internally as the Wolfman tried to tear away from his person. Though he couldn’t control much when his other half was around, the Captain still had a sense of self to preserve. It was his duty to himself.
The Captain, the Wolfman, and the Angel sat quietly as those murderous soldiers marched by, stomping the flowers to bits, off to burn another city to cinders.
The Captain laughed at the sight, giving his men props for their utter desecration of the field. He knew the Wolfman was soft, feeling its emotions fluctuate between sadness and rage. It was pathetic, truly.
Here, this beast of the wild, feeling empathy for nature, when he should have been a cold hearted killer. It was unlike most beasts, and was an utter disappointment.
The Captain pondered how he could rest away control from this beast, this cowardly other half that lived under the moonlight. He had done so many nights before, and still had never come up with a solution.
Tucked inside of a corner of his own mind, the plans for control were formulated, but never had an outcome. It was manically infuriating, and the Captain hated the Wolfman for it.
Locked in deep thought, inside of the body stolen away from him, the Captain pondered and postured, hypothesized and speculated for a time, until something stole his attention.
For a brief second, a dancing Field Lily confused the cold-hearted Captain. What sort of trickery was this?
In those scant moments of loosened control, the Angel smiled. She had given the Wolfman had been given his window of opportunity to act. It was time to end the monster’s reign.
The Wolfman suddenly felt angry, and ready to fight. The Captain had given up direct command of his mind, of his sense of self-preservation. He was in control, and fully.
He pounced at the nearest soldier, and introduced him to a quick end, tearing out his throat. One soldier’s death would not be enough. There would always be more of them, more killing, endless bloodshed.
The Wolfman had to do whatever he could, while there was still time. He didn’t have to kill anymore. They knew he was here. That was more than enough.
Approaching yet another of their comrades, the soldiers quickly raised their weapons, and opened fire on the newest threat of the night. They weren’t sparing in their ammunition usage, as they fired their guns until they ran dry.
The bullets met the Wolfman’s form with deadly precision. They struck him multiple times, and rendered him a bloody mess, his bright red blood staining the white Field Lilies a ghostly crimson.
The Angel yelped with fear, sadness encroaching upon her. She couldn’t bear to watch the horrible sight. She had already seen so many horrible things today.
As the Wolfman bled out in front of the death squad, he couldn’t help but laugh. Though the bullets that had passed through him were not of silver, the wounds were still mortal to a man.
The sun was already beginning to rise. The plan was set in motion.
The Wolfman softly howled with delight, as his journey over field and farm had finally brought his soul some sense of finality.
Sunlight glimmered over the mountaintops, and the forms of burning buildings back in town. Those glowing rays streamed down, touching everything with a sense of optimism.
Soldiers pointed their rifles at the twitching and bleeding Wolfman. Some of them poked at his crumpled form with their bayonets, thrusting the blades into his chest and abdomen. They weren’t sure if they should finish him off.
The Captain’s second-in-command strode over to the wounded beast. He sized up the creature, and then kicked it in the head. The Wolfman howled with pain. The SIC man kicked him once more, and then again.
His soldiers were laughing at the sight, giddy with delight, loving the carnage. They patted one another on the back and cajoled in a true camaraderie of madness.
The soldier who had been struck down by the Wolfman had been ignored by his friends, and laid there on the dirt, bleeding like a slaughtered animal.
One of the death squaders began to loot his pockets. Some friends they were.
The sun finally cleared the horizon, and nestled itself in the sky. The Wolfman smiled, and closed his eyes. His time on this world had come to an end.
As his body began to twitch and seize, the soldiers panicked and reloaded their weapons. The Wolfman began to lose his hair, become less muscular, and smaller.
None of them knew what sight was playing out in front of them, but the soldiers would be ready to gun down whatever this was.
The Angel opened her eyes at the sounds of the chaos, and watched as her newest and final friend on Earth turned back into his monstrous human form. She gasped, recognizing the man.
He was an older man, an evil looking one at that. The Captain, now thrust back into control of this body of his, writhed in agonizing pain. This was not a pain he enjoyed.
He was half man, half beast, and all monster.
The Captain couldn’t speak, for his second-in-command had kicked in his jaw, shattered his windpipe. The Captain was broken, felled by the hand of his own men. Bullet wounds covered his body, dozens of them, some cleanly through him, some grazing his form.
Wounded like this, he wouldn’t last long. His loyal men screamed in collective horror as the beast they had just slain now morphed into that of their dear leader.
Guns were quickly pointed at one another, as they screamed blood shrills of conspiracy and witchcraft and murder.
These weren’t thinking men. They were monsters. The only thing a monster excels in is violence, to be a beast.
The soldiers opened fire on their former comrades in an instant, gunning them down without a second thought. There was a plot to kill the captain, so they said, and they would have their revenge, on one another, for one another, to make things right.
Men fell left and right, as lead poured over the field of flowers. More of the white flowers became crimson, coupled with yellow brass casings, and the smell of smoke and gunpowder.
From the Captain’s mangled body, rising above the sounds of panicked and pointless fighting, two souls parted from their shared earthly form.
One was dragged down into the fires of Hell kicking and screaming, not at all content to be subservient to anyone else’s power, other than his own.
The other was greeted by a young face, that of a smiling little girl who had taken a liking to him.
The Captain’s soul was locked away in the darkest corner of Hell, with the other monsters and creatures of the shadows, with the beings of which he belonged with.
The Wolfman looked down at his hands, and found he was now floating in mid-air. The young girl flew around him, giggling as she did so, still enjoying the freedom of flight.
Below, in the field of flowers, all of the soldiers had met an untimely end, or were soon slated to. They were soon going to join the Captain, and serve under his command, for the rest of time.
The Angel laughed as she flew around, happy to finally meet the Wolfman in person. She gasped excitedly, and grabbed another handful of flowers from the field below.
She handed them off to the Wolfman, who stared at them. They were now crimson and white, the Field Lilies having been painted with the act of carnage.
The Wolfman looked up at the Angel, and then to the sun. He had never seen it before, never this high up in the sky. It was beautiful, this beautiful shimmering ball of glowing wonder and fire.
The Captain would have never appreciated the gifts of the world like this, with pure thankfulness. He only knew how to destroy, how to trounce and stomp upon beautiful things, to conquer.
It took a beast to save humanity; a human that is more monster than a beast, to be subverted by a monster that is more human than any man can be. They will always come to blows.
The right thing, what is inherently proper; that is what will succeed above else, and smite greed and hatred, war and misunderstanding.
Hand in hand, together, with crimson lilies in their free hands, the Angel and the Wolfman started off towards Heaven.
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