The Werewolf’s Talisman
By Jeffrey Bishop
Noting that this was posted prior to the current full moon, and that in English tradition, February’s full moon is the Wolf Moon.
Tell Time: 6 minutes 15 seconds
Scare Rating: 2/5 Ghost
Trevor no longer wanted to go to summer camp.
All spring, he and his friends had talked about how much fun they were going to have that year — especially now that they were 13 and could finally go to the high adventure program. But Trevor’s interest had changed completely as the school year drew to a close and the start of camp approached, and despite the questions and pleadings of his closest buddies, he couldn’t provide them with a good reason why.
After school one afternoon, Aaron and Chris were at Trevor’s house playing his new Wheels of Fire video game.
“What’s the deal, Trev?” asked Chris as the two looped around the virtual racetrack. “Why don’t you want to go to camp with us this year?”
“I think I know why,” said Aaron, who sat at Trevor’s desk waiting to play the winner of the current race. He had been checking out the documents on his friend’s desk: a couple of library books on werewolves, and a calendar of lunar phases for the year.
“There’s a full moon that week.” Aaron held up the calendar and books for Chris to see. “I think Trevor’s afraid there’s gonna be a werewolf out there!”
Trevor jumped up and grabbed the books from Aaron’s hands and swept them into his top desk drawer.
“Not!” said Trevor, flustered. “So what if I’m reading about werewolves? That doesn’t mean I’m afraid of them. I don’t even think they exist,” he added nervously.
Like his friends, Trevor’s mom had also wondered about his change of heart, but she didn’t press him; she knew he’d bring it up in his own time. As summer camp approached, Trevor indeed decided to share with her his concerns and fears about camp – and about werewolves.
“I can relate to what you’re feeling, hon,” said his mom. “Believe it or not, I’ve been where you are. And I think I can give you something to help you at summer camp this year.”
His mother dragged a chair into the kitchen and climbed to the cupboard over the fridge. From it she pulled out a plain white plastic bottle with a blue cap. As she returned to the table where they were talking, Trevor saw that bottle had a small label with what looked to be hand-written script on it.
“This lotion will protect you. It can be your protective talisman,” she told him. “Put this on every night when there’s a full moon, and I guarantee you’ll have werewolf protection.”
Mom was very convincing in her pitch, but she had a natural advantage, in that anyone concerned about the real threat of a werewolf could also be expected to be predisposed to believe in the superstitious protective power of a home-made lotion. So after they’d talked, Trevor felt a good deal better about full moons, werewolves and summer camp, and agreed to join his friends at camp again.
Summer camp finally arrived. The boys set up their shared tent and then ran off to begin the first day of what was to be a week of fun: climbing net walls, rappelling cliff sides and flying through the woods on zip lines. By mid-week, Trevor was glad he’d come – he was having a blast.
As tired as he was at the end of each day, Trevor remembered to thoroughly coat himself head to toe in his special lotion. His friends traded funny looks with one another over the ritual, but neither said anything. After all, it was only a couple of summers before when the counselors had to spray down every inch of the inside of their tent with bug repellent because Aaron thought a spider had sneaked in. All boys understand irrational fears of things in the woods; in the same respect, they also understand the magic of the power of suggestion.
It was late at night in the middle of the week that Trevor awoke with a start. Standing over him were two large figures, barely visible in the dark.
“Let’s go!” said one of the two. Trevor recognized Aaron’s voice. “Get your trunks on. We’re going for a midnight swim in the lake!”
Trevor hesitated – not solely because it was probably against the rules, but also due to his fear of werewolves. But it did sound like fun, and he quickly remembered that he’d applied protective lotion before bedding down.
“I’m in, too!” He pulled on his suit, and the three friends quietly slipped out of the campsite and down to the lake.
The boys had a great time, horse playing and splashing around in the starlit night before settling into Marco Polo. Trevor, as Marco, turned slowly in the water listening for his friends. As he turned around, a bright glow penetrated his eyelids. Cracking his eyes, he could see a glow rising behind the hills around the lake. The moon was rising.
As the glow spread over the sky, the top edge of the moon crept over the rim of the hills. Trevor’s skin started to tingle instinctively. His protective lotion must have worn off in the lake!
“Polo! Polo!” called Chris, goading his friend to come after him, and oblivious to Trevor’s growing panic.
“I’ve gotta get out of here!” Trevor yelled to Chris and Aaron. His voice had dropped to a raspy growl. “I’ve got to go in. Stay here! Don’t follow me!”
Trevor climbed out of the water and scurried across the dock and into the woods before his friends knew what was happening. Chris looked all around, trying to figure out what got into his friend when he noticed the bright sky.
“It’s the moon!” said Chris, fully understanding Trevor’s behavior.
“Look!” said Aaron, pointing to the woods. In the moonlight, they could see the shape of a wolf-like creature creeping through the woods. On four legs, the monster raised its head and let out a blood-curdling howl at the moon, then rose up on its back legs and crept into the woods — toward the campsite.
“That thing … it’s after Trevor!” said Chris. ”We’ve got to help him!”
The friends swam to the dock and raced into the dark woods to find their friend – hopefully in time. They slowed as they approached the campsite. The moon was already above the trees and lit up the clearing like a searchlight. Quietly, the pair crept forward, looking and listening for any sign of struggle. But incredibly, there was none.
Chris and Aaron stayed in the tree line, feeling safer out of the moonlight’s beam, and moved around the perimeter of the campsite toward their own tent.
“Nothing,” said Aaron in a whisper. “There’s nothing here, and nothing’s happening. But where’s Trevor?” Chris had no answer, so he remained silent.
Finally, the two arrived at their own tent. Still sensing no trouble in the camp, they moved into the clearing toward the tent’s entrance, which faced the lake and the risen moon. Aaron let out a yelp when he saw the tent – its front was shredded into ribbons of nylon, as though it had been violently slashed open.
Chris was more fearful for his friend than for himself at this point. He snapped on his flashlight and stepped toward the tent. Aaron reluctantly followed. There, sprawled facedown across the tent floor and blanketed in the light of the moon, was Trevor. He wasn’t moving, and his skin shone wet and shiny in the blue-hued night.
The boys passed through the curtain that was the tent face to check Trevor’s condition render aid. Chris knelt and turned over the limp, oily body. To his relief, they found that Trevor was ok. He seemed to be in a deep slumber, but was otherwise unhurt.
Besides the rent nylon of the tent, there’s was nothing suspicious – or scary – about the scene. Until Chris saw what Trevor had clutched in his hand. He grabbed the nondescript white plastic bottle, and saw that it was shredded and clawed through just like the tent was. In the moonlight, the boys could clearly read the hand-written product label: