Alberta, Canada 1906
There was an intense light that lit up the wintery sky over the home of Martha and Diana McDougal who were spinster sisters.
“Do you see that?” asked Martha to her cat Isis as he laid sprawled out at the foot of her bed on top of her newly made quilt. She stood looking at the night sky out into the field. The cold snow looked like ice as it glittered under the stars that scattered under the alabaster sky.
Martha put her robe on lighting her lamp with a long match, leaving her bedroom walking down the hall to her sister Diana’s room. Diana was dead asleep.
“Woman can sleep through the apocalypse,” Martha muttered to herself as she went toward her sister’s bed. She had two cats at the foot of her bed Jekyll and Hyde who were named appropriately enough as Jekyll enjoyed sleeping most of the day and had a pleasant disposition while Hyde killed anything that moved across his paws. The McDougal sisters never worried about field mice getting into the pantry because of his killer ways.
Martha shook her sister’s shoulder, and Diana barely moved. Martha shook it harder, and this time, Diana sat up, rubbing her eyes in confusion.
“What is it, Martha? It is not even dawn yet.” The old woman rubbed her sore eyes and looked for her glasses next to her bedside.
“Something is amiss, Diana, I am telling you something is amiss. I can feel it in my cold bones.”
“You must have been dreaming again. Go back to bed you nosey old goat!” snapped Diana who hated her sleep being interrupted by anyone, especially her sister who enjoyed fretting about her nerves deciding at once to be frightened by whatever whim took hold of her.
“I’m telling you, Diana, this was no dream!”
“I saw a strange light in the sky. It was so bright it made all the stars cower in their wake. I’m telling you, Diana, there is something in that old field. I feel it!” Martha grabbed her sister’s hand, and Diana softened.
“We will send the Leroux boy over there tomorrow when he comes to bring the milk.”
The two older women lived on an old farm left to them by their uncle who had passed just the year before. They had only lived there two years having migrated from eastern Canada. They had a small inheritance that helped pay for the labor that they could no longer perform themselves. The winters were brutal, and sometimes the isolation was numbing, but they had each other and between them seven calico cats.
“Get in bed next to me if it will comfort you, sister.” Said Diana.
“It would sister, it would,” Martha said excitedly clutching her gown and putting her lamp next to the bedside.
Martha tried to sleep, but she still felt the strangeness of something mysterious in the air. She slept clinging to her sister’s shoulder while the cats reorganized themselves around the bedside finding room on Martha’s hip as she finally found the courage to snore.
The next morning Diana and Martha were up just as the dawn rose over the field. The sky stretched miles and miles of flat, snow-covered fields. The homestead had an abundance of dead leaves and flowers that wrapped themselves around the veranda clinging like tiny fingers and pawing at the windows. The knocking of the dead vines seemed abnormally sinister this morning as though a cry for help was escaping through the curls of the stems and as the winter wind blew, they scratched the windows like fingernails.
The beauty of summer seemed far off now, and Martha secretly wished for the coolness of the Halifax wind and sea smell. Once something she hated, but now she wanted for anything to smell the cod and the oils from the old fisherman as they would meander around town selling their goods before they set sail.
Martha was boiling water, and she went outside to see if the milk she had to procure from the Leroux boy was on its way. Martha and Diana couldn’t afford a cow of any kind, but they did have chickens and two old horses that Diana doted over. It was their only transportation into town, and sometimes they attended a party or two during Christmas with the Meyer and McCullough families nearby. Martha was fetching eggs and watching the road closely to see if her milk was on its way when she heard something on the front veranda. She crept around the corner, unsure what sort of injured animal she was viewing. Could it be Meyer’s old sheepdog on the lose? All she could see was gray and black fur. There were pointed ears, and the whimper came short and gave her such a pang inside her heart that she had never felt before.
“Hello?” she called out. “Brutus is that you?” she was sure it was Meyer’s sheepdog now that she was getting closer. “Diana, fetch me a pail of water!” Martha yelled to her sister, who didn’t hear one word over her morning reading of the Holy Bible. Diana was in the middle of Luke and was not in the least interested in being disturbed by her sister. Diana was used to blocking out the sounds of Martha as she concentrated on the holy book. Diana would pray as she looked down at her cat, Mr. Hyde belittling him about why it was essential to be godly.
“Think of all those poor mice and rats you kill for sport. Do they not have families that must miss them?” Diana berated Mr. Hyde as she was never one of violence of any kind, and soon would forget the malice of killing when she was eating her beef stew procured by the Leroux boy.
Diana was deep into her excellent book when she heard her sister’s scream. Diana put the good book down and stood up. “What in the lord’s name is it Martha? I’m trying to enjoy the word of my lord, what on earth could be the matter?”
Martha could see its legs, very naked legs of a young man were blue from the cold. She could barely breath looking at him with his manhood showing. The rest of him was much more peculiar. From the waist up he was a full wolf, gray hair front paws and fangs. His fangs were so sharp that it frightened her. How was this possible? A wolfman? She tried not to stare at what was between his legs as they were outstretched on a bench they brought from Halifax. Diana came up behind her.
“Do you realize I am trying to enjoy my bible verses?”
“Shhh, you old goat! Look at it.”
Diana took one look at the creature on their porch and nearly fainted.
“DEMON! Come to the house it is a demon!”
Martha grabbed her sister by the shoulder. “It is no demon. Look it has the legs of a man!”
“It is a demon! It has come to test us!” she began to pray. “Dear Lord, please forgive my sister and I and whatever trespasses we have brought upon ourselves. Dear lord if this is a test then rest assured we are unwavering in the blessings you have bestowed upon us. No longer will we wish for things we do not have and-“ a growl cut her off.
Martha grabbed her sister’s hand, looking at her. “Will you shut up? Just once shut up! This is not a test from the good lord. This is a man!”
“He has the head of a beast, Martha!”
“Yes, but he has the legs of a man.”
“Then he is cursed! Cursed by the devil himself and I will not be a part of it!”
Martha grabbed her sister’s hand, pulled her closer to the beast as they both stood by watching it. There was blood coming from the beast’s shoulder. It looked charred like it had been burnt by something.
“He looks like he needs a doctor,” Martha said empathetically.
“You can’t be serious, who are we going to call?”
“What about doctor Lemmons?” asked Martha looking at Diana.
“No. We would have half the townspeople here, and the last thing I want is people scattered about aggravating my rheumatism.”
Martha rolled her eyes. “Fine, then we will have to do it ourselves.”
“Over my dead body, Martha McDougal!”
“So be it,” she grabbed her sister and then pulled her closer to the beast on the bench trying to move his sleeping body. “If your rheumatism is that bad you will be dead soon enough anyhow help me!”
Diana had tears welling in her eyes as they both struggled to pull the man-beast into the front parlor of the homestead. The small home was warm, and upon dragging the man-beast into their home, they pulled him into the front. Diana found a quilt and covered up the bottom half of him so that she would not have to force her virgin holy eyes to see his manhood. Her face reddened as she covered him up.
“I’ll boil some water fetch me some cloth. I will treat his wound.”
Diana went into the kitchen and placed some water from a pail into a large pot on the small stove. She prayed over it while her sister looked for spare cloths to help with his wound.
When the water had been boiled, they managed to move him to the small sofa in the parlor and Martha nursed his wounds, wrapping them nicely, and the bleeding soon stopped.
“Do you think he will live, Diana?” asked Martha tears in her big brown eyes.
“If you have anything to do with it, I’m sure the demon will thank you in the pits of hell.” Diana smiled wryly and walked away.
Martha watched over him all that night and the next, too. She took to reading Shakespeare, and within two days, she noticed he was changing into a fully human man. Slowly he shed his fang, and his face grew into a fair, handsome young man. His arms were muscular, and he was beautiful. His hair was black as the gray wolf’s fur fell off his body. So much of it fell from him she had to use a broom to clean it away from her wooden floors.
Diana would walk by the parlor peeking in each day, but never going in. Instead, she made the sign of the cross and would keep ongoing. She was curious, but the fear of aiding and abetting a demon was too much for her soul to take.
It was early dawn on the fourth morning when Martha was awakened from a dead sleep by a scream. She quickly got out of bed and noticed her sister running from the parlor.
“What on earth, Diana?”
“It speaks!” she said, running past her sister into her bedroom and locking her bedroom door.
Martha ran into the parlor and looked inside at the man who now sat on her sofa.
He looked at her rubbing his upper arm, which was bleeding. Martha ran over without thinking and grabbed a cloth placing her hands upon him.
He touched her hand, pulling her away roughly. He stared at her for a long moment as if he was trying to figure her out. Then he spoke in broken English.
“You help?” he seemed to be asking.
Martha seemed to understand what he meant at once. She noticed a yellow goo coming from his wound that was bleeding just moments before. There was something about his eyes too. They seemed to glow yellow-green in a particular light.
“I help. You eat?”
He looked at her, confused.
“Come,” Martha said, pulling him up by the upper arm.
He went with her willingly. He picked up a knife from the floor, giving it to her.
Martha took one look at it and knew it was her sister’s blade she had been given as a gift from their uncle after a visit to the orient. The old goat had stabbed him. Martha took a deep breath and helped him into the tiny kitchen, helping him to the table.
“I can get you some clothes to put on.”
He just watched the older woman. She pulled some stew from the stove and put it in a bowl for him. He bent over sniffing it and then began to lick it like a dog. Picking up the bowl he gulped it down quickly. Setting it down gently, he grabbed Martha by the arm. The older woman blushed to look at him.
“Help me.” He seemed to plead.
Diana came in the kitchen just then, and he stood up backing away from her. “HELP ME!”
“Diana stop you are scaring our guest! Why did you stab him?”
“To see if he was a demon!”
The beast cowered away from the two women afraid to move.
“What?” Diana looked at Martha. “Apologize for what?”
“Trying to kill our guest!”
Diana looked at the handsome stranger. She sat down at the table and sighed. “I’m sorry. I thought you were a demon.”
The man just looked at her, confused.
“He has no idea what I’m saying.”
“Sorry. It means that you didn’t mean to do something.” He said as if he was reading her mind and body language, adding it to memory.
Diana nodded, appearing ashamed. She reached out her hand to the handsome man. “I’m sorry.”
Martha looked at her sister, seemingly satisfied with her answer.
Diana stood from her place at the table and nodded, grabbing a bottle of currant wine. She poured three glasses and gave one to the man.
“I think you may need this more than me.” She said, and he watched both women sip the content of the glass, and then he did too.
“What is your name?” Martha asked.
He looked at her strangely.
“I am Martha. This is my sister, Diana.” She said, touching first her chest then her sister’s.
The man smiled. “It is too hard to say in your language.”
“You resemble a man I used to know in Halifax. His name was James. James was a fisherman. He stunk to high heaven, but he was nice enough man to be sure.” Diana smiled.
“James.” He smiled nodding. “I like James.”
It was a few days before James began to catch on to his new environment. James spoke and understood English very well. He began helping the sisters out with their daily chores. James was typical in every way except when night fell. He would often leave for hours at a time and come back with blood on him. The two sisters ignored it as a sign he had to shift into the beast he was when they first encountered James.
Soon it was not long before word caught on with their neighbors that the McDougal sisters now had a hired hand. Their neighbors wondered how the spinster sisters could afford a hired hand.
Martha and Diana lied saying he was their nephew from Halifax. Nobody questioned it, and he even went to the Meyers Christmas party. He learned to dance with Mr. Meyers, a daughter, who was quite taken with James. James was enjoying his new home and friends. He seemed to fit in with everyone living as normal a life as any young man.
The three of them were jolted out of bed in the middle of the knight by the front door being blown off.
In the doorway stood a man that didn’t wear clothing like anyone from their period. He seemed to be in clothing with metal on them. He had a gun that shot fire from it and could start a fire just by pointing it at anything.
“Tosheme mora mae.” He yelled in another language. Martha hid behind Diana as they were now under the kitchen table.
James stood in front of the two women and kept them safe from the man. James yelled back, suddenly grew into a full-fledged wolfman. Covered in hair and growling with fangs he stood hunched over like a demon of Diana’s worst nightmares. He growled at the man fiercely. The man shot at him, but James lept into the air and caught hold of him by the teeth. Martha and Diana screamed, running toward the back of their house.
They went out the back of the house and ran toward the barn. There were lights and strange objects in the sky. They hid in the barn most of the night hearing explosions and growling.
It seemed hours, but finally, by morning, it was over. The sisters looked at each other and agreed they would assess the damage. Luckily there was no real damage except the front door. James was missing but the man from the night before was sitting on their parlor sofa.
“Where is James?”
The man looked at the two women and smiled. “I wish I knew. He is dangerous. I have been trying to find him for months here.”
Martha looked sadly at the living room. “You broke my door.”
Diana stood behind her, looking at the man. “Yes, who is fixing this mess? Do you think we are made of money, sir? We are two spinster women every penny we have is what we have to live on.”
“Except for our quilts.”
The man on the sofa looked at Martha, who held up a quilt, and on each square, it told the story of how they met James.
“I’m sorry. When you see him, let him know it is time to come home. We are waiting.”
The man seemed to vanish out of thin air before their very eyes.
Diana and Martha had the Leroux boy fix their door. They went back to their routine, but they never got over James. He had become their family, and in a blink of an eye, he was gone.
A month later Martha was awoken by a strange feeling she was being watched. She sat up in bed, and in the corner of the room stood James.
“Martha, you are looking well.”
“James!” she exclaimed, standing up and hugging him. Diana heard the commotion and ran into Martha’s bedroom, running to embrace him as well.
“Where have you been?”
“There is a bounty hunter after me. I don’t know why or what it is that I did to make him come after me, but it can’t be good.”
“We know you. You are a good person.”
“Maybe.” He smiled.
“I’m sorry about how I treated you at first. You are not a bad soul, James.” Diana said with tears in her eyes. Her gray hair fell around her face in long curls.
“I’m not from your world. I have to leave.”
“No,” Martha said. “We can figure out something.”
“No.” James smiled. Just then they saw a light out their window.
Something was hovering in the sky. It looked like a boat, but it was just floating there. It had light illuminating from it. It made the sky glow around their house.
James kissed the older women on their cheeks. “You will never be without anything you need.”
He left as the two women watched him walk out their back door and as he stood under the ship that hovered over their yard and he floated in the air to their bewilderment. He seemed to be sucked up into the boat, and then the ship disappeared into the clouds. It went up into the sky, blending in with the other stars in the sky.
The two women hugged one another tears in their eyes.
The next day there was a field of flowers and in the center was a large cow. It was one of the largest cows they had ever seen.
They both ran toward it. The sisters were bewildered as they realized they would never have to ask the Leroux boy to bring the sisters their milk. They would save money and manage longer without having to spend the money each month on paying the Leroux boy to bring them milk every other day.
Martha and Diana hugged one another deciding that the cow would be called Star since that is where James had come.
Now and then the sisters would see a shooting star in the sky and wonder if it were James coming to check up on them.
One thing was sure; they would never forget the werewolf of Alberta.