The air is cold. Pumpkins glow. And a Devil’s Moon will soon rise! Put on your costume, turn off the lights, don’t answer the door, and salivate for a real treat! Wade Hackette is on a special October assignment, and things are about to get a little hairy.
Lunar light impales twisted grey clouds as pulses of opalescent colors shimmer within puffy prisons. Icy halos constrict a golden hazy Moon while cigar ash drifts from a dying ember.
“Shhh…did you hear that, Roach? I think I heard something.”
A black cat prances down Grime Street—paws splatter polluted mucous upon a cracked sidewalk.
“Come on! Don’t start, Jules. You get sloppy when you drink.”
The Moon rises above a blinking crooked spire.
“I swear! I left the flask at home. Louwana got herself one of them pumpkins, and guess who had to clean the nasty guts out? Yup. Me. Take a look at my hand…yeah…do you see that? I cut myself with a dull knife! The damn blade slid down the pumpkin and stabbed my palm.”
Roach opens his mouth as Jules raises a finger in the air.
“…And before you ask, no, I wasn’t drinking, okay? When Louwana found out that I bled all over her new couch, well, she nearly killed me. You know how she gets! There was no damn way I was gonna sleep in the same bed as her. Ha. Not after what happened last time.”
A gargling howl rattles the atmosphere above their heads.
“Roach! There it is…shhh…listen…”
The howl tapers into a short-lived cry. Roach shakes his head.
“What? That? Just a coyote. I used to hear them all the time before I moved to the city.”
Jules squints an eye and looks up toward a sparkling electric spider web.
“A caootee? Huh? I never heard of a…what is it? A cayotie? Are they dangerous?”
“I don’t know…what?…no…of course not…you can just boot the damn things. Problem solved.”
A metal door swings open.
“They’re here. Get ready.” A voice whispers. Roach and Jules take pistols out of their pockets, and then walk through the door’s threshold.
“Nail said the shipment was over 15 cases of sludge. And there’s five guards. But they’re just boys.” Roach says while climbing a steep staircase. A closed steel door sweats green mildew as Jules looks at his watch: 11:45pm. Roach opens the steel door and aims his pistol.
“…It smells like a volcano’s asshole in here.” Roach says. Jules covers his mouth.
“Shhh…they may be boys, but they can still kill you.”
They emerge from behind a stack of boxes and meander through a abandoned warehouse. Roach’s foot slips as he collapses into a nearby black Plymouth Coup.
“What did I tell you, Roach? If we get pumped full of holes, I swear, it will be all your fault!” Jules says. Roach leans down and picks up a severed leg—his hand grips around an ankle as he lifts it into the air like a morbid trophy.
“Ummm…something tells me we won’t have to worry about being pumped full of holes.”
Jule’s mouth hangs open.
“Where did you get that? Put it down! Let’s put the sludge in the Coup and get the hell out of here.”
A gargling growl groans behind a large stack of boxes. Red biological slime creeps across the floor as Roach drops the leg and aims his pistol.
“That doesn’t like no cayutie…kiotie…what was it again?”
Jules gulps down a mouthful of fear.
A hairy hand extends out of the shadows and digs its yellow claws into Jule’s greasy scalp. The fingernails rake upward as lanes of open wounds bleed like crimson cornfields. Jules covers his face and stumbles over an empty crate. Muffled whines filter through wet palms while he cowers inside an oasis of sticky red stuff.
15 Hours Later
Wade Hackette glides a silk cloth against Sinorita’s long barrel. A small black shadow emerges behind an office door window. He leans back in his seat and swivels Sinorita toward the door. The brass knob squeals as it turns, and then the door pops open. A boy runs into Wade’s office—black slacks drape behind his ankles while a patchwork fiddler hat swallows a nest of feral hair.
“Sorry I’m late, Wade! I brought the paper, just like I promised, right? Didn’t I say I would? Told you.”
Wade rests Sinorita on the desk.
“We agreed that you’d bring a paper…not talk about bringing a paper, Benny.”
A white sleeve rolls down his arm like an avalanche and covers an entire hand. Benny tosses the paper on Wade’s desk, and then rolls the sleeve past a skinny wrist. Benny reaches in his pocket, then unravels a candy. He tosses the blue wrapper inside a trashcan.
“Oh, right, sorry, here you go, just like we talked about.”
Benny’s eyes grow wide as he leans closer toward Sinorita’s barrel.
“Oh boy Wade…how ’bout you teach me to shoot! What do you say? I’m a fast learner and I won’t anybody! I promise!”
Wade drapes his big brown hat across Sinorita, and then extends a green bill toward Benny.
Benny points at himself.
“Me? That’s for me? Jeez, Wade, you’re a real pal! When people say you’re loaded, wow, they really mean it.”
He snatches the bill as Wade escorts him toward the office door.
“Say, Wade, let me pull the trigger, just once…you can teach me!”
Wade pushes Benny out of the office, and then shuts the door. He picks up the paper:
Boozy Bozos Slaughtered Near South Grime Street
10 alleged bootleggers were discovered last night in an abandoned warehouse. All of them mutilated beyond recognition. More than 20 cases of sludge was confiscated by local authorities. Investigators described the victims as being: “…hunted down by an unidentified animal…”
Wade peeks around the newspaper—a pair of icy blue eyes stare back.
“What’s the matter? Didn’t hear me come in?”
He lays the newspaper across his desk, and then slides a hand underneath the wordy blanket. Fingers stretch toward Sinorita.
“After all this time and you still don’t trust me, Wade? My heart is broken. I want you to know that.”
Wade grips Sinorita.
“What do you want, Sammie?”
She arcs forward and leans her arms against Wade’s desk. Sammie’s eyeballs rotate in a full circle.
“So…I see you’re not the celebrating type. You should tack a skeleton next to your clock. Or a witch. I bet you’d like a witch on your wall, right Wade?”
Sammie picks up the paper.
“Oh! Look at this! I was just about to ask if you heard what’s been happening around the city. Did you read the other articles? People reported strange things the past few weeks.”
She lights a cigarette.
“…There’s going to be a double full Moon this month…some kind of rare astronomical event. The first full Moon fell on October 2, and the next will occur on October 31. People call it—The Devil’s Moon.”
Sammie exhales soft grey ribbons of smoke. The silvery ethereal tendrils coalesce and then disperse into the air.
“Say, Wade, Honey, do you believe in werewolves?”
Wade’s eyes slant.
“Oh! Now I have your attention. You read the lore, so I won’t waste your time with that nonsense. You also read the papers, so I won’t waste my time repeating what you already know.”
Sammie places a silver bullet on Wade’s desk.
“You need to kill this…Wolfman. Put him out of his misery. One shot to the heart, that’s all, Wade, that’s all. One shot to the heart.”
She points at Wade.
Ethereal particles orbit the silver bullet.
“Give the Wolfman what he wants—death.”
Sammie shuts the office door as she vanishes beyond the threshold. A long gray hair glides through the air and lands on the newspaper. Wade pinches the hair between two calloused fingers and raises it toward his slanted eye.
2 Days Until Devil’s Moon
A black cat sits on top a fence; twin full Moon eyes leer down upon Wade Hackette as he strides down a soggy sidewalk. He ascends a rusted staircase, and then steps through an open door. Wade’s nostrils flare—sulfurous toxicity burns nose hairs and sears the back of his throat. A cough rises from Wade’s gut, but he chews it and swallows the cough back down into his gut.
Wade’s eyes lock-on to a gray hair wrapped around a wooden splinter. The hair sways within the arms of a sweet October’s breeze, while pale lunar light shimmers along a fine white tip, as if it were a snowy mountain top. The hair unravels from the splinter and floats on the back of an early wintry breeze—toward the gibbous cratered orb in the night sky.
The sticky red stuff on the ground lures Wade to a dry, grotesque oasis. A rat nibbles on a severed leg underneath a black Plymouth Coup. Broken glass crunches underneath Wade’s big feet. He picks up a bottle of sludge as a hand reaches out of a shadow.
“…The pup will get you too…ha…the pup is going to eat your bones…the pup is coming for you…”
Wade aims Sinorita toward the darkness. Someone leans on their side inside a column of Moon light.
“…It’s me…Kenny Knuckles…I know you won’t have the pleasure of killing me yourself, but be a pal and spark this smoke. Just this once.”
Wade strikes a match and ignites a cigarette hanging from the corner of Kenny’s mouth.
“…I been shot 20 times…stabbed…blown up…set on fire…you remember that, don’t you Wade? Don’t you?…who would have thought a pup would take me out…god damn it…”
Kenny sucks in a drag.
“…The deal went bad…my friends were ambushed…I came back to retrieve some sludge…bosses orders…the pup knew someone would return…it bit me…”
Raindrops splatter against a nearby window.
“…Wade…don’t drink the sludge…trust me…”
A still smile stretches across Kenny’s face as the cigarette’s orange ember fades away.
Wade opens a bottle of sludge, and then pours the volatile elixir on the floor. Wade’s eyes surf down the alcohol wave, then fixates on a blue candy wrapper. He pinches the wrapper between his fingers: Mr. Atomic B. Blueberry Blast.
Storm clouds drip watery mucous upon the city. Polluted globules fall from Wade’s big brown hat as unseen eyes nibble into his back.
Wade takes out the candy wrapper and flicks it onto the pavement. The wrapper rolls toward an alleyway between EZ Sell & Pawn and an apartment building. A hairy nose protrudes out of the shadows, then sniffs the candy wrapper.
“If you’re not going to bring enough to share, then don’t bring any at all.”
A minuscule dark figure drags claws into the pavement—spiky hair stands up along an arched spine.
“The Devil’s Moon whispers to me, Wade, the Devil’s Moon won’t let me turn back. My conscious voice will succumb to lunacy. Gee, Wade, if you only taught me to pull the trigger, then perhaps I would have the courage to end this myself. A boy like…no…a pup like me no longer needs a gun…”
Yellow fingernails dig into wet pavement.
“Aim your gun. The Devil’s Moon will soon bleed all over the city. Pull the trigger, Wade, pull it. Aim for my heart. Kill me before my lunacy matures. Listen to the reason in my voice, Wade, I know you can hear my voice, I know you understand there’s no hope for me. Don’t let me wake up with blood on my hands. Don’t let me pick skin from between my teeth anymore…it soon may be yours.”
A bell rattles above EZ Sell & Pawn’s glass door.
“Can you believe that no good bastard? $80 for a diamond ring? I swear, I swear, I try to keep calm, you know, but shit like this makes it real damn difficult, you know what I mean? Butch of thieves.” A squeaky voice says.
“Well…you did steal the ring, Dirty Desmond.”
He puts the ring on his finger, and then shakes a head full of red curly hair.
“Yeah? So? What the hell is that supposed to mean? I hate this city.”
They walk across the street while Wade aims Sinorita toward the alleyway. Benny is gone.
5 Hours Until Devil’s Moon
“Mommy! Mommy! That wolf over there is really scary! Look! Look!” A tiny ghoul says as he shakes and points toward a nearby house.
“Oh, don’t worry, my dear! He’s just wearing a costume, I bet that little boy got it at the same place as you.”
A yellow fingernail presses a doorbell.
The door opens.
“Wow! You look just like a wolf…man…boy…thing…and…you smell like one, too! Here, kid, take a handful of candy, you deserve it. No! Take two handfuls, yeah, two handfuls ought to be enough.”
The old man reaches into a bag and reveals a handful of colorful candy.
“Is something wrong? Two handfuls not enough? Okay, okay…take three handfuls, but don’t tell your mama, got it?”
A hairy hand drags tapered yellow claws across the old man’s head. Black biological oil fills five lanes of gashes across his face as he drops the candy all over the waxed wooden floor. A gargling growl shoves the old man into a nearby rocking chair.
“I’m sorry!…take four…no…five…seven handfuls! Take it all, kid, come on, no, don’t do this!…noooooo!”
A savage swipe knocks the old man’s head off his shoulders—a gooey geyser explodes all over the place. An old lady steps out of the kitchen.
“Honey, are you okay? What was that noise?”
1 Hour Later
A red, cratered face looms over the city. Ruinous eyes peer down from space, while a lava plain grimace is bordered by mountainous teeth. Clouds recoil like puffy leeches, and dissolve away into celestial clarity. Wade looks up at the Moon as he opens Sinorita and places a silver bullet inside an empty chamber.
A dark silhouette appears behind Wade’s office door. Pointed ears extend from an elongated skull.
“Trick or treat.”
The office door opens. Wade aims Sinorita and rests a finger upon the curved trigger.
“I don’t have any candy, but I have a bullet, and it tastes like silver.”
Green saliva foams between stalagmite fangs. The werepup impales fingernails into a nearby wall as bulbous white eyes devour Wade. A picture frame swings from a tack, then drops to the floor—glass shatters across the floor while the echo unleashes the feral instinct within Benny. He lurches forward and slams both hands into the bits of glass as his palms grind into jagged shards. Lips curl upward and reveal pieces of his victims stuck between chipped fangs.
He leaps into Wade as they crash through an office window. Wade bounces off a nearby trashcan and slides into the road. Sinorita cartwheels across the street and lands beside a storm drain. Two bright lights keep getting brighter…
Benny runs into the road and howls at the Devil’s Moon—the car smashes into a parked mail truck. Wade stands up while the werepup arches down on all four limbs and vanishes behind a building. Wade takes a few steps toward Sinorita as the werepup jumps down from the building and stabs fingernails into Wade’s back. A massive elbow knocks the snarling snout upward while he presses against the bottom jaw. The mouth shuts as a growl forces its way between fangs. Green saliva seeps into Wade’s coat; the fabric singes while puffy smoke billows into the air. Wade runs backward into a nearby lamp post and squeezes the werepup against rusted metal.
A polluted cloud condenses high above the city, and then eclipses the Devil’s Moon angry face.
“Wade” Benny says. He releases Wade and drops to the pavement. Benny picks up Sinorita and places it within Wade’s hand.
“Here. Take it. While there’s still time. Pull the trigger. Aim for my heart.”
Wade looks into Benny’s eyes—the humanity within battles a feral instinct—reflected upon a delicate blue iris. The Devil’s Moon peeks beyond the polluted cloud’s veil as the werepup’s eyes fill with blackness.
He pulls the trigger.
Hellish purple gas pushes the silver bullet through Sinorita’s barrel; it spirals through the air as hazy swirls sparkle and wrap around the mirror-like skin. The silver bullet punctures the werepup’s chest.
The blackness in Benny’s eyes evaporate as the blueness returns.
Later that Night
Wade walks into his office and approaches a tiny Jack-o-lantern on the desk. A card rests near a bowl of candy. He opens the card.
You should pull the trigger more often.
Wade dips his fingers inside the colorful sea of candies and pinches a sugary wrapped square. He holds it up toward the light: Mr. Atomic B. Blueberry Blast.