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Poetry/Short Stories

by Alex Fry

"It's not a question of blood - more like a matter of borne-in-the-bone knowledge - that bestows the abilities of the quasimorph upon an ordinary human. The freaks and overexcitable gung-ho 'Workers for the Good of Mankind' with their overblown ideas about lycanthropy and deviltry are only wasting their time when they babble breathlessly about infectious bites and wolfbane.

"Common mistakes made by these odd-job merchants are that quasis eat people (why on earth would we do that? It's not particularly tasty, I am told - by a 'normal' person, incidentally), wolfbane is poisonous to quasimorphs (and werewolves in particular) - it's only a herb, after all - and that quasimorphs cannot cross running water, look at crucifixes, eat garlic or step in churches. These last are vampire legends anyway and denote a vast confusion on the part of the Von Trolmps of this world. Oh - and the light of the full moon is exactly the same as the light of the sun, which reflects from the surface of a lifeless ball of rock. Very Occult.

"As previously said, quasi-morphognomy is a skill based on pure self-deception rather than being bitten by infected people. This is basically the brain, consciously or sub-consciously, telling the body what shape it is. This has to be a real Belief, not just a dim conception or fantasy that causes the brain to believe that it is in a body of a different shape to the body it is in. Therefore the brain reshapes the body to its own specifications - if I'm in a wolf, it says, this body needs to be shorter, the knees need to reverse, etc. Thus the inner form of the mind shapes the outer form of a body.

"The change being brought about in this manner, there is no need for the 'frantic rolling on the floor, grunting and growing hair' of the twisted dreams of the self-styled lycanthropologist - it feels more like a whole-body sneeze and takes place in that amount of time. Also because of the nature of the inner difference, there are different ways to start the process. Some, notably the old-time Shamen, smoked herbs and ate narcotic mushrooms to clear their minds of any other thoughts. Others use different means - a chacun sa guerre, as the French say. The 'accomplished' (although there cannot be said to be levels in quasi-morphognomy) student can focus at will, using not more than, say, a finger held in front of their faces, or pale light such as moonlight. Maybe that is how the legends began.

Story continued below


"Quasimorphs are generally referred to as werewolves despite the fact that that is not the only form they can take - it's just that the neural reprogramming is made easier by the fact that deep in the racial consciousness of humans, the werewolf legends are embedded. This makes the Belief easier, which means that more quasimorphs use it, which in turn leads to more werewolf legends. It is quite possible, especially in cultures with different animals in their quasi-morph legends. For example, the Egyptian cult of Bast was a ring of seven priestesses with the abilities to use quasi-morph forms of all feline animals, notably cats, black panthers and semi-panther-semi-human mix.

"There is no reason at all why quasimorphs should not be able to take on the form of other humans, however the idea is so repellent to most that they will not even try to take on, let alone seriously use, another human form. It's simply a question of human rights - if you were a criminal of some sort, the idea might appeal, but quasimorphs in general lack those faults of theft and murder that are so evident in many 'normal' people."

Taken from Dr. M. Barnham's A Commentary on Morphology, 1990

Alex put down the dusty old book and grinned in the half-light of the school library. His material for the horror story prize was rapidly accumulating, and soon his masterpiece would be fit for entry. He didn't believe it himself - the professors who wrote the books he had been reading over the last few days were obviously either joking, lying or mad - but the volumes were a great way of gaining information and confidence for the work he was undertaking. And the prize would be well worth the toil - two hundred pounds was handsome pay by any 15-year-old's standards, for a few weeks of thinking and writing.

After writing for a few minutes more, Alex packed up his paper and pen, replaced the book on the shelf (disturbing large amounts of dust in the process) and left via the main door into the schoolyard. He was still laughing at the stupidity of those who thought themselves learned and clever who were wittering on about obviously non-existent links between shamen, werewolves and vampires, and those who, in some Gothic delusion, thought themselves to be the mythical monsters about which they wrote. Alex had read in a scientific journal somewhere (he was that type of person) that the proper disease of lycanthroposis exhibited itself as a mental delusion in which the infected believed themselves to be a wolf. The disease itself was, the journal had said, a version of rabies that could be passed on through the bites on infected wolves - hence the biting legend - and was generally curable.

As Alex left the school, he noticed an oldish man nearby on the other side of the road. He only caught a glimpse, but that one glimpse was enough to make him a little unquiet for the rest of his fairly short journey home. The man was not particularly interesting - normal trousers, tweed jacket almost concealed under a large overcoat and a large, wide brimmed hat which cast a light shadow over the man's face - it was just the fact that this evidently winter wear was being pulled along by its owner under the midday June sun, in the middle of an English heatwave, that caused Alex to look slightly askance at the figure as it darted into a side street on its own private business. Still, Alex reasoned, if the old man was wearing those clothes, he probably had a reason. Maybe he had an allergy or some sort of disability that forced him to outfit himself like that. Dismissing the incident with a shrug, Alex continued homewards.

At home that night, Alex pulled paper and pen towards him and continued his story. However, he found all too soon that the words that had flowed so easily from his pen earlier that day now refused to budge from his hindbrain. His story was reaching the focal point where all the different parts of the story came together, which in theory was fine. However, this fine ambition was rather spoiled by the fact that his focal point refused to focus in his mind, forcing him to abandon his project until suitable words could be found with which to write. The hero was to be faced with the werewolf, and had to in some way escape in order to… groups of words spun and gibbered in his mind, none of which fit the setting or the moment, or even just the style of his writing. That night, or rather early that morning, a very tired, depressed writer finally managed to sleep with the main part of the story still unborn in his head.

Alex was slightly disturbed by the fact that the sightings of the man he had seen on that first day when he began to write his horror story had increased as time went on - now he saw the person at least three or four times a day. The strangest thing was that the guy appeared to be watching him, scrutinising him with a gaze that he could only describe as measuring - he felt like a second-hand horse with those dull grey eyes fixed upon him. Alex wondered if he should report the man to the police as a malicious loiterer - a stalker even - but felt that it would probably have no effect at all. Even so, he decided to keep on his guard in the near future, in case the man were some kind of strange person such as the type one vaguely hears about on the news and in urban legends. Alex believed utterly in urban legends, although out of all the legends he had been reading of recently in his project he believed none. (As a point of interest, it is strange that somebody so cynical of ancient Norse, Greek and Egyptian legend, to say nothing of the more minor Celtic and Saxon mythology he had been exposed to also, would believe so strongly in stories that apply to any day in a 'fill in name here' way…)

Even so, Alex was cautious on his way home, keeping to well-lit areas and populated streets as he made his way back to his house, about a kilometre away from the school. As he walked, he felt that he was being followed, in the best traditions of werewolf horror stories and movies everywhere. Every time he took a quick look over his shoulder, he saw a clichéd figure darting for the shadows at such a speed that he could not make out what it actually was, or indeed what sort of height it was. However, he dismissed this, with only a small protest from the parts of his brain under 'storage_memory_horror' and 'functions_common-sense' which were telling him that a) to ignore the possible illusion would be probably the single least intelligent thing he could do and that b) he was invited to consider films such as 'An American Werewolf in London' and remember that bad things happen to those who, on a dark night, see a figure out of the corner of their eye then ignore it. Generally involving claws and teeth. Alex steadfastly ignored all these hints and comments in the general area of 'Take Cover' and continued walking.

The next he knew, something had appeared from behind him and was standing in the road ahead, regarding him solemnly. The general shape was humanoid, but the whole body was covered in short, wiry hair, which even in his position Alex wanted to pat. The legs looked odd and, at first, Alex could not tell why, but after ten or so seconds he realised that the strange look was probably due to the knees being reversed. The whole thing stood about six foot six high, and a passage from a book Alex had been reading earlier flashed before his mind momentarily:

"The typical lycanthrope, while in lupine form, can choose between full and semi-lupine states (as long as one of these states is in use when the moon rises - otherwise, the lycanthrope is subjected to the most severe pain and will automatically change to the full Wolf State. This also occurs upon contact with silver to any large enough degree - say, three large burns to skin surface areas.

"This pain occurs due to the immediate change in bone and organ structure without the necessary preparation to mental and physical strength, and feels like every bone in their body is being simultaneously broken, and re-set within the space of ten seconds. At the same time, the internal organs feel like they are squishing around inside their settings. This sensation is probably due to every bone in the affected lycanthrope's body being simultaneously broken then re-set in the space of ten seconds, while at the same time every one of their internal organs squishes around inside their settings.

"Silver is not fatal to werewolves, but can cause a nasty burn that will take days to heal. This is one way to identify a werewolf in human form. There are a few other ways to identify werewolves, but these will not be listed here in case my literary sources are uncovered as well as in a sense of self-preservation - I do not wish to die any more than any other person, and the people that would use any of the possible methods for finding out would almost certainly be the type of xenophobe that would wish to kill me."

'Professor D. Wiseman', Discourses on Lycanthropy, 1995

Silver! Even as Alex stood, he thought of a desperate attempt at escape. Taking a deep breath, he slowly removed his silver confirmation crucifix from his inside pocket and concealed it in his hand. The werewolf, meanwhile, looked him up and down and seemed to be humming to itself in a low, long monotone. Alex's mind flew back to Dr M. Barnham's Commentary on Morphology and remembered the point about mental focusing. Obviously the creature was about to change form again, and Alex could not let that happen if he was to escape. Slowly, he drew back his hand ready for one fling, clasping the cruciform medallion in his palm. At that point, even in the trance-like state of the beast, it noticed the chain dangling from Alex's hand and let out an intimidating growl, which worked so well that Alex involuntarily jerked his hand up in front of his face in and instinctive (and futile) attempt to protect himself. As he did so, the cross flew from his sweating palm and landed directly in the centre of the chest of the thing.

The effect was electric. The wolfman howled in pain and clutched a clawed hand to its chest. This was a mistake, as its hand was immediately burned in the same way as its chest had been. Writhing in pain, the monster let the crucifix fall from its spasming hand - which of course landed on the waiting right foot down below and caused the creature to hop on its one undamaged foot. The lycanthrope jiggled and howled in a very human voice... and then stopped. No sound or movement came from the form (which was glowing like moonlight in three places from the contact of the silver - on the chest, the left hand and the right foot - even under the sulphurous yellow of the streetlight), and it looked like it had frozen solid in a two-second subzero wind. Only the eyes were still alive, and they stared at Alex with a gaze that was more pity than the hatred that common sense said they would. Then, all of a sudden, the figure dropped to the ground, letting out a scream of pure agony as it twisted and contorted on the ground to the gristly accompaniment of a wet popping and crackling sound.

…every bone in the affected lycanthrope's body being simultaneously broken then re-set in the space of ten seconds, while at the same time every one of their internal organs squishes around inside their settings…

Alex ran…


…panting and worn out, Alex fell through his front door and walked, slowly and unsteadily, to his bedroom. There, he once again pulled towards him the paper and the pen. His new knowledge provided some problems, of course, but even so Alex smiled in the light of his lamp.

Now he knew what to write.