The winds blew with a raging fury on this night. It was 1839,
and the wilderness in India was harsh thanks to the yearly
monsoons. The moon rose high over the small campsite of a man
who was traveling alone. He did not think of the dangers that
awaited him on this night. There were cold, dead eyes that
stared at him through the thick leaves of the jungle canvas.
They sought no appeasement; the hunger had to be satisfied.
"Kali will be well pleased," one voice whispered in the darkness.
The eyes that penetrated the night air belonged to a man that
had no soul. He was a devoted follower of Kali, the Hindu goddess
of death. He was a Thuggie, and his three comrades were all
of a like mind. "She must be satisfied," another expressed
in a quieted tone. Blood was nectar to Kali and her thugs,
and the skulls of those slain in her name were trophies of
the blackest honor.
The traveler set by his fire. Little in this world seemed
to concern him. Looking at his watch he knew that time was
growing short. He feared not for his life, eventhough he knew
that the murderous heathen lay just out of his sight beyond
the light of his flickering campfire. His eyes didn't need
to see them. The sound of their hearts raced in his ears like
the sound of charging horses. He could smell them. Their sweat
was saturated with salt, rancid blood, and the pungent stench
of body odor.
The only thing that was lacking was a sound of heralds to
announce their presence. They were that evident to him. Still
he did not fear.
There were four distinct heartbeats.
One resonated from the North, another to the South, and the
final two to his back in the West. He set his watch down
by the fire. "Why are you
little bastards waiting so long?" he wondered aloud. "Campbell," he
said to himself, "This is why you came to India, to hunt the
big game. And what animal is the most tenacious, devious predator
on the planet? Man, of course."
Campbell began to salivate. It would be better than the hunts
that he had in England. The thoughts of it excited him...the
hazard, the quarry, and the blood. He loved the blood most
of all. The color and the feel of it drove him mad.
His blood began to race. He kicked-off his boots, and shed
his shirt with haste. The pulse throbbed through his skin.
Thoughts of made his mind go into a frenetic state.
The thugs were nervous, and one attacked before he was signaled.
Campbell ran towards him, leveling a pistol off at his chest.
Time seemed to stand still as it all happened: the trigger
was pulled, the powder ignited, the slug hurled from the barrel,
and it ripped through the thug's chest. There was no time to
Campbell never stopped until he hit
the jungle's edge. Instantly he was gone from view. The other
thugs charged as soon as they realized what had happened,
but it was too late. Now their number was three. From the
tree line they heard a voice. It growled like a beast, saying, "You provide me with good sport.
Keep your backs to the fire, pagan savages. Don't make it so
easy for me." Then they heard a howl.
The thugs had never counted on this. The tables had been turned.
The hunters were now the hunted.
One ran for the forest, and disappeared.
His shrill screams were heard but seconds later. The last
two began to argue. "Kali
has forsaken us," one said. "No," the other yelled, "This is
not the work of the mighty Kali.
He is a lycanthrope. A man that can
shapeshift, and uses his abilities to kill. I have heard
of weretigers, but that is not what this is. It howls like
the wild dogs."
"It howls like a wolf," the other replied with urgency. The
sweat poured from their skin like rain. "We are doomed." His
prophecy was right.
The wolf ran from the trees towards the thugs. Their swords
were not enough. He tore the throat from one and was upon the
last before he could even react. The thug's sword flew from
his hands, and the wolf plunged at his neck. His throat was
ripped clean instantly. Although he was still conscious, his
soul had begun to discorporate from his body. His eyes glazed
over as he watched the wolf eat his own flesh.
The wolf went behind the fire, and shifted
back into his manform. He stood behind the flames, naked
and covered in blood. Campbell licked the blood from his
fingers. "I love Indian food," he
laughed. The hunt was over.
December 16, 1997 A.D.
Revised for submission May 23, 2000