I wrote about my fear of school shootings and other gun violence on Monday. But thinking about my false alarm also inspired a story. I wanted to write about my experience of feeling afraid when I was at school, but in a less direct way. Instead of a school shooting, I turned the threat into werewolves.
This short story is the result. You’ll be able to read the full thing soon in a Halloween anthology. I’ll share more information about the anthology when I learn more from the editor. But for today, here is an excerpt.
Fleeing the Werewolves
The band was rehearsing for the eighteenth birthday of the eldest prince Boris, when he would be proclaimed Crown Prince before the people as his father’s heir. The occasion was more important than any that the band had played at before, and special pieces had been composed just for the event. By now the entire band knew all of the new music by heart, and their rendition of the kingdom’s anthem had won them a medal, but the conductor Bastian still felt that there were subtleties in the dynamics which could be improved upon. The inclusion of magic added new complications, because the spells must be woven very carefully in order to avoid detection by the powerful Wizards which would be attending the event. The musicians lost themselves in their desire to attain perfection in every phrase and conjure.
Only Raisha in the back corner, her hands idle on the lyre as she waited for her turn to play again, heard the startled squawk of a blue jay above the music and looked up. Eddoard dove down from the top of his tree and turned back into a boy, yelling for their attention. “The kingdom is under attack! Werewolves are headed this way!”
The musicians leaped to their feet, clutching their instruments close to their shaking frames. “We must flee,” Samnor said, pulling the strap of his drum over his head.
“We can bring nothing with us,” Bastian said, and pointed to the nearby hillside. “The earth shall shelter our belongings until we can return for them. Let there be a cavern opened.”
With the discipline of their long years of training, the mage musicians calmly packed up their precious instruments and created a gaping hole in the rock. The women knelt and prayed for the mountain’s forgiveness as the men carried everything inside. The hole was sealed up and woven with charms of protection, and then everyone looked around to impress the grove in their memory, for they could leave no mark that might alert others.
Then as one the entire group transformed into a herd of deer, and they went racing down the side of the mountain with no need for man-made trails.
At the edge of the forest they encountered a town. Under the cover of trees, they assumed their natural shapes once more and approached the gate, which looked as if it had been closed for the first time in centuries. “Who goes there?” said a guard on the wall.
Samnor stepped forward with open hands. “My comrades and I fear the attacks. We beg for shelter.”
“How do I know you’re not the marauders trying to trick us?”