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Liquid Imagination Where Reality and Fantasy Blur

Presents a Liquid Imagination Publication Tooth and Claw:: a werewolf anthology Publisher: John “JAM” Arthur Miller Managing Editor: Sue Babcock Editor: Kevin Wallis Cover Art: Sue Babcock Liquid Imagination, Tooth and Claw: a werewolf anthology, Copyright ©2011. All reights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information contact liquidimagination@gmail.com All stories herein have been compiled by Liquid Imagination under Liquid Imagination Publications. These are works of fiction. All characters and events protrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are fictitiously used. ISBN 978-0-9848590-0-9 Liquid Imagination Publications 7800 Loma Del Norte NE Albuquerque, NM 87109

www.liquid-imagination.com First Edition


Table of Contents INTRODUCTION by Linda Manning

iv

Taken Care Of by John Logan

2

Common Scents by John “JAM” Arthur Miller 14 Red Riding Wolf By Neil John Buchanan

24

Voices in the Mountain by Linda Manning 36 One of Those Things by Graeme Reynolds

48

The Dark Virus by Sue Babcock

54

The Ravenous By Lucas Pederson

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INTRODUCTION by Linda Manning The werewolf mythos has spanned world cultures for hundreds of years. Recognized within the transmutational human-wolf creature of European heritage, the essence of this story pads through time with different feet, different faces, and different fangs. Indeed, if we include African werehyenas, shamanist animal totems, Egyptian theriocephalic creatures such as Ra, and the hybrids found in cave paintings, it can be argued that this myth has been following us throughout human history. Many cultures have embraced the dream of acquiring animal traits to enhance the human condition – the eyes of an eagle, the power of a tiger, the survivability of reptiles. This magic has been celebrated in our arts as a means to co-exist with hostile environments as well as to provide a vehicle into other levels of existence such as meditative journey or an afterlife. Religion has provided explanation for many a confusing thing, but what forces are at play when the human psyche snaps? Consider Dr. Jekyll serving tea to a charming Lon Chaney in a comfortably ordered parlor. No social rules are broken, no one gets hurt. Empires can be planned under such conditions. Outside, in the shadows of darkened streets, Mr. Hyde may roam freely with a wolf at his side, both fulfilling their natural animal tendencies by feeding base desires. The world continues to turn in a predictable way. As we strive toward the apex of civilization, we find that it is truly unreachable. Our existence in nature is irrevocably defined by having an animal tethered to our spirit. Such is the human paradox. Such is the heart and soul of myth.


illustration by Jack S. Rogers


Taken Care Of by John Logan Dehydrated leather, brittle and sharp, bit into the skin behind Tim’s leg, and he scooted side to side as he looked for a more comfortable place to sit. He couldn’t find it. “Uncle Luke?” he said. His uncle lifted his eyes to the rearview mirror. “Yes?” “Are we almost there?” “No.” “Halfway there?” Uncle Luke shook his long, stately head back and forth like his neck needed a grease fitting. His bushy sideburns raked against his high collar. “No, sorry.” Tim stared at his uncle in the rearview, studying him for the first time since the trip began. Uncle Luke returned the stare, occasionally glancing at the road in front of him. For the past hour, there had been nothing but long straight roads and endless grassy fields. “Dad used to tell me . . . we’ll get there when we get there,” Tim said. 2


Common Scents by John “JAM” Arthur Miller I remember the scent of wet fur and the musk of desire from the females. It was when my Pack met for Jubilee in the woods north of the metropolis, outside New York City. I sniffed again, the smell of females overpowering. Yet sealed in a plastic bag within my pocket burned my salvation, preventing temptation. Inside the plastic bag was a handkerchief that held the scent of my lover. When alone, I whiffed the handkerchief and whined. The smell reminded me of last time— Even now I want her! —we were together. When I left the Packs, it was to see this woman… a human. It didn’t matter that it was against the law. I had to see her. While the Packs howled beneath the full moon, I sneaked to my Landrover and drove twenty miles. Gravel crunched beneath my suede shoes outside Jimmy’s Bar and Grille. A cacophony of noise exploded as I opened the door and stepped inside. A heartfelt rush swept through me when I saw Samantha. An additional surge of excitement exploded through my veins when she touched my wrist. She gave a smile, gestured at the empty barstool beside her. Bottles clanged on the bar and tables. Two televisions showed a sports game. Laughter filled the 14


Red Riding Wolf By Neil John Buchanan We watch the Lancaster bomber explode out of the night as if cast from the hand of God. The fuselage, warped into a metal ball, sets fire to the trees of Central Boulevard before punching through the roof of the Wilheim Church. “Wasn’t Ma buried there?” Silda says, slipping her hand into mine. “Yes.” I lead her away from the flaming wreckage. “But she was a bitch and better off dead.” Silda resembles an angelic cherubim standing amidst the carnage in her cotton nightgown and tiedback hair. The gown remains spotless, unlike my skirt which is stained a uniform grey, and not for the first time I wonder how we could be sisters. We pass two abandoned cars and the charred remains of a bus, its wheels melted to the tarmac. A skeletal figure, still wearing his conductor’s hat, remains propped behind the seat. “What about him?” Silda says. “We can do better.” Silda’s face has drained of colour; her mouth is a puckered hole, and her eyes sunken pits. Blood drips from the ravaged wound in her throat.

24


Voices in the Mountain by Linda Manning Lying there, you are at peace. From this war that would claim your life, you are at last set free from bondage. But that is only if I let you die. I will remember the last time I saw you in pure humanity, before the spell was cast, damning you to live out your days as a dog, damning your offspring to also suffer the curse of the wolf. But you refused to marry again, to bear more slaves for Tauriseth, even if they should be dogs . . . I will remember the freedom that lived within your spirit. Standing on the cliffs of Subria, your silver hair blowing with the breath of the sea, your golden eyes spoke of the heights attainable by a culture built on peace. But Tauriseth has beaten you. His magic has proven more powerful than the armies of your father, the might of your husband, or the resolve of your people. Your only human son he has caged for his service. We are beaten now, but you can be freed from living damnation — if only I would let you die. Their bodies littered the meadow where the children had once played. Soldiers for peace — for the development of Subrian culture and the kinship that had grown between the provinces — now lay headless, half-eaten and cut to pieces on a blood-soaked field where no blooms dared to open. While the stolen children toiled for their bread in the sealed cages of Tauriseth, blackness covered the landscape with thick clouds, impenetrable to the sky. Below them, rain fell in ceaseless torrents, the cries of the children brought in with the wind. 36


One of Those Things by Graeme Reynolds February 6th 1993. Metro Centre Shopping Mall. 16.45hrs A pudgy hand grabbed the elevator door just before it closed. The doors slid open, and a large woman with arms full of shopping and a small fat child in tow forced their way into the already crowded elevator. “Room for a small one?” she said to the other occupants. No one said anything, but a silent communal groan hung in the air as people shoved and jostled to let the woman in. She turned to a middle aged man who was crushed against the controls with his wife and teenage son. “Can you press number six for me?” The man turned, pushed the button and elbowed his wife in the process. “Oh for goodness sake, George. Can you try to be a bit more careful?” George winked at his teenage son. “I’m sorry, Caroline, but there’s not much space to move. Anyway, I’m sure it was John that elbowed you, not me.” John reached across and punched his father on the shoulder. “Stop trying to get me in trouble, Dad. You know she’ll go on about it for ages.” Caroline wriggled to face her son. “John Simpson, don’t you talk to me like that.” John laughed. “Hey, it’s my birthday. You’re not allowed to give me grief. Remember?” Caroline tried to suppress a smirk. “Doesn’t mean I can’t save it all up for tomorrow, smart arse.” 48


The Dark Virus by Sue Babcock If you’d asked me a month ago if I would kill, I would have said no. I would have said that I am neither brave nor feral enough. I would have been fooling myself, for civilization is not even skin deep. Oct 3 What I know about werewolves was written on the palm of my hand, notes cribbed during stolen minutes at work. My palm read “full moon bite lycanthrope virus science fiction myths.” This will be a great Halloween party. I would do anything for my son—what mother wouldn’t?—even though the whole idea of Halloween disturbs me. Oct 4 A darkness more than a shadow but less than a cloud passed over my window tonight. Even as I searched for ideas for Donny’s party, awful pictures filled the pages. Illustrations I would swear were photographs had they been about any other subject. “A curse,” the caption of a photograph showing a tiny vacant village set amid tall oaks and broad mulberries proclaimed, “is said to have caused a sickness that spread through this entire town. All other villages and towns in the area seem to have been spared from the illness.” I shivered as I peered out my window into a thick blackness. Lights from the park across the street 54


The Ravenous By Lucas Pederson You know it’s about to happen. And you know you’ll be too slow to stop it.

*** Somewhere just beyond the glow of the garage lights, beyond the edge of the woods across the driveway, a stick snaps. The frogs and crickets serenading the night pause. Josh Connor straightens in the walk-in door of his parent’s garage. A double jet of smoke shoots from his nostrils. His heart quickens like a spooked gazelle. Absently, he takes another drag from his cigarette, blows out silvery smoke. It swirls around him, lifts into the night like magic mist. After a moment or two of scowling at the woods, Josh’s body slackens. Just a deer.

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Tooth and claw a werewolf anthology sample