Because Marcia thought wereowls would be fun. Warning: Apparently, the two of us have a tendency to wander down a mass-murder kind of path.
* * *
Mike and Brooke’s husband Will had already helped themselves to the beer, so they laughed and yelled from Tommy’s truck bed, while Brooke clutched the warm metal sides silently. She wondered why Allie got to ride in the front. Sure, she was Tommy’s wife, but she fished and camped. Allie wouldn’t mind the dusty toolbox digging into her back, or the beer-filled cooler bumping her legs.
At their usual picnic spot, Tommy regaled them again with the story of his ten-point buck as he cooked. “Guns are fine, but real sportsmen use bows.” He set down his spatula to take a swig of his beer as the burgers smoked on the grill.
“Tommy, the burgers,” Allie said.
“Shoot,” Tommy flipped each patty on a waiting bun. “Eat ’em while they’re hot!”
They each grabbed a plate, pouring out chips and piling on the condiments. Over the bonfire, they ate, drank, and talked past sunset, stuffing empty plates and cans into garbage bags.
Mike stumbled off, and returned several moments later. “Saw something weird… out watering the bushes.”
“What’s that?” Allie giggled. “A bear?”
“Birds. A bunch of ’em.” Mike said.
“Huh.” Tommy shoved himself up from the weathered bench, and strode past Mike, placing his feet with careful precision.
White shapes floated from the shadowy trees.
“What the-” Tommy planted his feet, leaning back to stare. A white blur plummeted towards his exposed throat.
The gigantic white owls dove at the rest of the group, sharp talons raking arms flung up to protect their faces. Clothes ripped like paper.
“The barn!” Will ran to Tommy’s crumpled form, stumbling to his knees and throwing up when he saw the red ruin of his friend’s throat. He scrambled away on his hands and feet. “Go!”
They raced to the wooden structure, a little used storage shed. Will stumbled in last, and slammed the door, dropping the metal latch.
“Oh God, what was that?” Allie crumpled against the wall. “Tommy!”
Mike tried to comfort her as Brooke examined Will’s deep cuts.
The door rattled, and the latch jiggled, then fell. Slowly, the door swung open, revealing a pale, slender young girl. She smiled at them, and pushed the door open further.
Behind her, owls swooped into the barn.
Brooke saw the girl transform into an enormous snowy owl, and felt a moment of wonder before she screamed.