Flashing lights cut through the night, casting everything in an angry orange and red glow. The forest clearing was filled with people in uniforms, but I ignored them. Sitting with a gray blanket draped over my shoulders, I stared into space. I wanted to forget the horror I had witnessed, but there was no escaping it. Those strange green eyes would forever be etched in my memory. An involuntary shiver flowed over my body. I knew that I couldn’t tell anyone what had really happened; they would just think I was ready for the psych ward. Hell, if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it either.
How could it have only been a few hours ago that I had sat around the campfire with my family, begrudgingly enjoying my time with them? I hadn’t wanted to go on this trip, but my parents insisted as it would be the last one before I went off to college. My parents loved camping; they thought it was important to be able to leave all the pressures of everyday life behind.
That day started off just like any other camping trip; we trekked through the forest during the day, and then set up in a clearing near a trickling stream. As usual, we were tired after a day of physical activity, but we stayed up chatting and playing card games. My sister Sarah and I had been the first to retire to our tents, and as I drifted off to sleep, I could hear my parents talking and laughing quietly.
A scream woke me in the middle of the night. It was filled with so much terror that I froze in fear. I wasn’t able to move, it felt like my body was being weighed down with ice. The feral snarls and ripping sounds that followed the scream added to my panic and I almost forgot to breathe.
“Sarah!” a familiar voice shouted. It was when I heard my dad that I realised that the scream must have come from a member of my family. Something heavy thudded against the side of my tent. Knowing my family might be in danger gave me the courage to finally move, and my shaking hands tried to open my sleeping bag. Another shriek came from outside and I scrambled to unzip the front of the tent. It was dark, so it took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. I could see three lumpy mounds on the ground and a large figure was bent over one of them.
I gasped as I realised the mounds were actually my family members. The noise drew the attention of the dark figure. Its head turned in my direction and its eerie luminous green eyes met mine. I backed up, and ended up tripping over one of the tent pins. The impact of the fall knocked the wind out of me, but I quickly forgot about the pain when I heard the thud of paws. I looked up just in time to see it advance on me. I tried to scramble backwards, but I wasn’t fast enough. Now that it was close, I could see that the dark figure was in fact a huge wolf. It bared its teeth as it leaned towards me; I felt its hot breath against my face. Its nose wrinkled, then it smelt the air again before turning its head to one side. It moved back and gave me a strange look before it rose on its hind legs. I closed my eyes, waiting for the wolf to attack, but all I heard was a pained grunt. I peeked through my eyelashes to see the air around the wolf rippling, hair retracting back into its body. I watched the wolf change and take on the form of a man. I was completely dumbfounded. My mind struggled to accept what was happening and I tried to come up with logical explanations for what was going on. But there was no logical answer. My whole world had changed forever.
When the transformation was complete, the only thing that indicated that the man was the wolf, was his eyes. Their colour was so intense that there was no mistaking them. He took a step towards me and I could make out his features a little better. His muddy dark hair reached his shoulders and a scar ran in a jagged line over his left cheek. After another move in my direction, I realised that I was sitting there like a fool and finally my survival instincts kicked in. A quick glance around confirmed that there was nothing that I could use as a weapon, so my only option was to run. I pushed myself up from the ground as quickly as I could and darted towards the tree line. I heard the man behind me mutter something, but when I glanced over my shoulder to see if he was chasing me, he wasn’t there. I came to a stop so I could have a better look around, but I still didn’t see him. He had completely vanished.
I stood there at the edge of the clearing, not sure what to do or how to react to what had just happened. Was this a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from? My whole body was trembling, a mixture of the cool night air and the overload of adrenaline in my system. I wanted to go to my family. Part of me hoped that they might be okay. Deep down though, I knew that wouldn’t be the case. They were dead. There was no way I could see them like that and be able to hold on to my sanity. I was also aware that it would be really stupid to not get help. That man… That thing might come back. The only way to communicate with the outside world, however, was a radio that my parents kept in their tent.
I was going to have to go back to the tents, but it was so dark that I was afraid that I would stumble over a family member. I couldn’t do that, I needed a way to see where I was going. Just then, the clouds overhead drifted apart and pale moonlight spilled over the clearing. It was just bright enough to make my way. Before I went to the tents, I glanced up to see the full lunar ball above me. I managed to make it to the tent without encountering the bodies of my family and I radioed for help.