I recently got a critique from a “friend” about my dialogue, which, to him, seemed forced and unrealistic. To him I offer this next story. Not because I actually tried to write better dialogue (I’d forgotten all about it), but because I think he’d dig it.
This story has been very tough to write so I’m posting in pieces. Not sure where to go, so it will be a surprise to me too! But, I hope to have it done by Halloween, as it is a Halloweeny story.
For your reading pleasure, a story set in some undetermined ancient times, in some undetermined country, a story that is easy to write because I don’t need to keep it accurate to anything!
Sheridan A. Smith
Purveyor of Relics
“It isn’t that I don’t like it, I just don’t know what we’re going to do with it!!”
“It isn’t that I don’t like him, I just don’t know what we’re going to do with him.”
The new mother was walking around the main room of her thatched hut holding and bouncing gently her brand new ward. He was wrapped in a few scraps of cotton cloth and then heavy burlap surrounding. Hair was sticking out the top of the bundle of cloth, a course dark brown tuft of hair.
The new father was looking out the windows, straining to see if anyone was looking inside. He nervously put some wood on the fire and turned toward his wife.
“Listen, it wouldn’t really be fair of us to keep it?”
“Fine! Um…well. Wherewasi…?”
“It wouldn’t be fair…” the wife said absentmindedly while smiling and playing with her bundle.
“It wouldn’t be fair for us to keep this…him, because he needs to be among his kind. You know, people who understand him. Pretty sure we can’t get a goat every night to feed it!”
“Dammit, you’re not listening to me are you!”
The wife, whose name (as we should have known by now) is Christina, wasn’t really listening after that last ‘it’. She was too much intrigued by the new little harry addition to her house. She walked to a sparse table, furnished with their only plates and cups for two, and sat down in the chair nearest a fire lit with a pot hanging over it. She bounced the bundled child on her knew, and the husband planted himself on the bed in the other side of the room. He placed his elbows on his knees and allowed his head to collapse into his hands.
He looked across at his wife sullenly.
The husband, Jonathan as you’re probably wondering by now, gazed at the swaddled package. He saw the pudgy arms, almost flailing inconsequentially as if grasping for a hold while bouncing. Jonathan looked as the little hands of this baby opened and closed, flashing the long claws peeking out from the thick tufts of hair that covered everything but the underside of his fingers. Its head, sorry, his head, with those pointed ears jutting upwards, showed a fangy smile as it turned, growling with delight.
Just a bit of a werewolf. Nothing too big to deal with.
“We’ll have hell to pay from the town.”
“Oh, well they can all just stuff it. We’ll just explain how great he is, and it’ll be fine. After all, he’s such and smooshy booshy foosh…” Christina trailed off into the kind of delusional gibberish only a doting mother can utter without strange looks and the danger of institutionalization.
This was an unusual child, that was unusually brought on a slightly out of usual night. They had heard that clichéd knock on the door, and when they opened it, the very much un-clichéd small metal cage. It was nursing peacefully on the hind leg of a small red fox that it had, most likely recently, devoured. It was instant love for Christina when she saw it.
It had only been one day since the child had been entrusted to the couple, but they had discovered that, during the day, the hairy little bundle was a perfectly normal child. The hair receded, the claws retracted leaving a vulnerable little baby that seemed to be more than usually exhausted.
In fact, the werebaby changed every night except those with no moon. This was unorthodox, and much more unnerving than the usual werewolf, who would very courteously only change on the nights the moon was full, but Christina just assumed that it was because this was going to be a robust and exuberant boy, someone who would do well as a farmer or laborer of some sort.
For the first few weeks they were a fine family. There was no trouble because, most of the time, they would have the lycanthropic child, by now named Wulfric, safely tucked away in his cage with a cut of beef almost twice his size.
However, almost exactly one month after the sharp toothed package arrived, there was an accident.