Grey Harlowe Sampler: “The Ride”

(Content note: Rated R…ish.  Mostly for the biting issue and not so subtle mockery of obsessive schedulers.)

*

Pamela Kramer expected things to go wrong every time she had to coordinate anything with Janna Michaelson.  The woman just wasn’t cut out for parenting, in Pamela’s opinion.  Everyone else in their ride share group kept their schedule on a tablet or cell phone.  Janna insisted on writing it down on a chalkboard in her kitchen.  She also wore long skirts everywhere she went, and for a long time Pamela had wanted to tell her they weren’t flattering attire.  And that it wasn’t 1970 anymore.

Still, when she picked up her son, Theo, from Janna’s house at 5:30 p.m. that November evening, she hadn’t expected him to pour himself and his backpack into the car, then announce he had been bitten by a werewolf.

“What?” said Pamela, more annoyed than shocked.

“Well, that’s what Mrs. Michaelson said.  She also said it’s possible I’m going to turn into one.  She doesn’t know for sure.”

Pamela buried her head in her hands.  Finding out Janna Michaelson was just as batshit crazy as Pamela had always suspected was the absolute last thing she needed, especially if Theo was seriously hurt.  She got out of the driver’s seat, and went around to look at the alleged werewolf bite.  When Theo pointed to his upper right bicep, Pamela was relieved to see the wound either wasn’t that bad, or Theo had been exaggerating.  It was really quite small, more like a scratch.  She would give him antibiotics when she got home and call the pediatrician in the morning.  There was one other thing she had to take care of first.

Marching up to Janna Michaelson’s door in a fit of rage she hadn’t felt in a long time, she banged on it, prepared to engage in righteous battle with the idiot who had let Theo play with an unsafe dog.  A little girl answered.

“Hello,” Pamela said, her temper cooling somewhat.  “Is Mrs. Michaelson here?”

“Yes,” said the little girl, “but she can’t have any visitors right now.  She’s with grandpa and he’s very hungry.”

What a bizarre family.  Pamela would have to check in with all the other mothers to see if any of them had experienced the crazy first hand.

“I need to speak to her immediately,” Pamela said.

“They’re in the backyard.”  The little girl pointed toward to a chain link fence just off the porch.  Pamela leaned around toward it.  It looked dirty and she hadn’t had a tetanus booster in a while.

Then Janna Michaelson appeared at the door herself.

“I’m so sorry about Theo’s arm!” she blurted out.  “I didn’t see they’d met until it was too late.  I think our…dog thought it was time to eat.”  This last bit was punctuated by an ugly growling noise, the smell of fresh meat and a gobbling in the background.

Too freaked out to ask any more questions or to read the woman the Riot Act, Pamela said cooly, “I don’t think you should participate in the ride share group anymore.  Children shouldn’t get hurt when they’re in your care.”  This last statement was rendered with the cruelest tone Pamela possessed.  Dogs could seriously injure people; it wasn’t a subject she took lightly.

“Whatever you say,” Janna told her, obviously offended but also sad.  Pamela realized it might not have been the first time someone had complained about her dog’s bad behavior.

Just as she was closing the door, Janna Michaelson paused and looked at Pamela.

“Be careful taking him home tonight.  I don’t think the bite was very deep, but the moon is approaching its apex.”

“Right,” mumbled Pamela, marching back to the car where Theo waited, trying to decide if she should wait for the pediatrician tomorrow, or swing by an emergency room tonight.

Theo was unuaually quiet on the drive home.  Pamela asked if he was really alright.  He said yes.  She turned on the radio.  Someone on NPR was predicting freezing rain for the rest of the weekend.

“At least it’s not on a school day,” Pamela said aloud.  She looked over at Theo, who was looking out his window.  Looking up, over the treeline at the almost full moon.

“You need to tell me what happened again, kiddo,” Pamela told him.  “Because they’re aren’t any werewolves around here.  Was it a large dog?  A Huskey or a Malamute?”

“No,” said Theo.  “They called him grandpa.  He was as big as a gorilla and covered in hair.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have played with him,” Pamela said, in desparation.  Hadn’t she given her children the speech about how to avoid dangerous animals?

“I didn’t!  I tried to say hello to him and he bit me!”

“Okay, I didn’t say it was your fault,” she reassured him.

“They told me…they said I could become one.”

“I think they were just pulling your leg, honey.  There’s no such thing as a werewolf.”

“Okay,” Theo said back, then returned to staring at the moon.

It took almost thirty minutes for them to travel from Janna’s house to their own, yet another reason Pamela wanted to tell the group it was no longer appropriate to have Janna as a member.  She was in full Helicopter Parent mode at this point, thinking about her son’s arm, and the enormous creature Janna Michaelson had exposed him to.  What if the bite got infected?  Infections could be so hard to treat these days…

So she worried, in her typical, seething fashion, half listening to NPR and thinking she would have quite a story to tell Theo’s father when he got home.  She didn’t see the dark, wirey hairs sprouting all over her son’s body, or notice that his finger nails had grown into columns sharp and thick as ice.  It wasn’t until she pulled the family car into the garage that she noticed any of these changes at all, starting with the way his lips and mouth were distorted by huge white teeth.


No one noticed the Kramer family missing until Monday, which was normally Pamela’s day to shuffle the kids to her house until their mothers came to get them.  When the police finally came to the house to investigate, they found a ton of blood in the driver’s side door, but no body, and while there was also a ton of blood insider the house, they found nothing but the skeletons of Mr. Kramer and his younger child, Claire.  Someone did notice that it looked as if the bones had been knawed on for quite some time, as wolves do in their dens.
Every once in a while someone claims to have seen Pamela and her little boy somewhere, like an Elvis sighting or a sighting of a UFO.  They are always well dressed and always plainspoken, but they keep their eyes on the sky.  None of the sightings ever happen around the time of the full moon.

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