Wolves on a Train

Submitted into Contest #205 in response to: Start your story during a full moon night.... view prompt


Mystery Thriller Fantasy

There were wolves on the train from Kildare to Kilkenny and the noise of them was driving me mad. They weren’t real wolves, of course. Real wolves would not have been as obnoxious, or as drunk, or as stupid. No, these were humans in werewolf masks and gloves, six of them in total, dressed up for some Halloween party or other, and judging by their boisterousness and how intimidating they were, they’d been ‘getting in the mood’ for quite some time.

Thankfully, for now, they were halfway down the carriage and weren’t bothering me, other than with their shouting and laughing and occasional howling at the moon, which just so happened to be full, which was more than a little appropriate, considering it was the 31st of October.

When I’d entered the carriage twenty minutes earlier, I’d wondered why the top half was empty, and had gladly taken a seat inside the door. Now, having listened to and observed the antics of the costumed idiots—all of whom appeared to be male—I knew exactly why it was empty. It had taken all my willpower not to get up and leave, but I was on this train for one particular reason, and the presence of these wolves seemed fortuitous. I had a writing assignment due in two days, the prompt for which was ‘journey on a train’, and having failed to come up with a workable idea, I’d decided the best thing to do was just hop on a train and see what happened.

I’d brought a book to read which I’d hoped would provide inspiration, but I’d only made it through a couple of pages before being distracted by the commotion further down. This, I knew from my creative writing teacher, was a better source of material, so I set the book aside and took out my notepad, the one I kept handy for jotting down ideas and possible lines of dialogue as I heard them.

At the top of a page I’d quickly written: ‘Idea – idiots on a train dressed as werewolves, on their way to a costume party. Could there be a real werewolf amongst them?’ Well, it was something. Below that I’d scribbled some of the things I heard the idiots say, things that weren’t sexual innuendos and didn’t have anything to do with how pissed they were and how much more pissed they were planning to get, like:

“Why the fuck are we going to a party in the arse end of nowhere, lads, could we not have stayed home and gone to Coppers?”

“There better be some decent-looking birds in this town, man, not just a bunch of bleedin’ dogs. Oh, sorry, present company excepted.”

And the most recent comment, which had been voiced just seconds before: “Hey, Blevine, can I have a howl at your moon?”

Okay, that last one was a sexual innuendo, but I included it anyway because of the name Blevine, which I’d never heard before and which had instantly piqued my curiosity. It was piqued even further when a female voice responded, in as dry a manner as possible: “Sure. As long as you can howl out your arse, ’cos you won’t have a mouth if you try it.”

I didn’t write that down, or the muttered “watch yourself” that followed, from a deeper male voice I hadn’t heard before, because by then I’d looked up from my notepad and leaned into the aisle, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious Blevine. 

I didn’t have to look hard to find her. The thin, pale-skinned and dark-haired girl in the loose-fitting cargo pants and baggy Nirvana t-shirt striding down the aisle directly towards me could only have been her, and her eyes locked onto mine as soon as she saw me.

“Dickheads,” she said, reaching the end of the carriage and swinging into the empty set of seats opposite mine. She slouched back on the tacky, blue and green moquette-covered chairs, upper back and head against the window, one foot up on the seat, and continued to stare at me with amber-coloured eyes that seemed to deep-well drill into my mind.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, spreading her arms as though I were checking her out. With shaggy, unkempt hair that hung to her shoulders, flat nose and thin lips, she wasn’t what you’d call beautiful in the traditional sense, but she was attractive in an earthy kind of way, and when I realised I was checking her out, I looked back down at my notes.

“Nothing,” I said, waggling my pen over the page as if in preparation of writing. “Just enjoying the train ride.”

“Enjoying?” she said, adopting a properly seated position in the aisle seat next to mine. “What’s to enjoy? A bunch of drunk losers in wolf masks thinking they’re off to the party of the year to get high or laid or both? I don’t think so.”

Something about the way she said those last four words made me shiver and I couldn’t help but look at her again. “Really? I assumed they were off to a Halloween party, dressed like that.”

“Oh, they are,” Blevine nodded, resting her forearms on her knees and placing her sharp-angled chin in her hands, so her face was mere inches from mine. Those eyes of hers, with their shimmering brightness and intensity of glare, were somehow piercing, comforting and unsettling all at the same time. “I mean, there is a party. I should know, I helped organise it, it’s just not what they think. They’re expecting a drink and drug-fuelled rave with loads of horny girls who can’t resist their ‘charms’, but they’ve overlooked the fact they were all told to dress the same way, so they’ve totally missed the point. But so what, suits me.

“What are you writing?”

Before I could think to ask one of my growing clutch of questions or answer hers, she’d plucked the notebook from my hand and was laughing as she read what I’d written.

“‘Could there be a real werewolf amongst them?’ Some imagination! Are you writing a story? Do you believe in werewolves?”

She was peering into my eyes again causing goosebumps to pucker on my skin.

I shrugged, eyes flicking briefly to the moon that hung static above the treeline flashing past through the window, a moon that seemed to be watching the train with some amount of trepidation. “I wouldn’t say I believe in them,” I said, forcing my eyes back to hers, hoping she wouldn’t notice how nervous–or excited–she made me. “Not the popular fiction type anyway. But yeah, I am trying to write a story. Whether it’s going to be about werewolves or not I don’t know yet.”

“Well, you’re heading in the right direction, if it is.”

She said this as she placed my notepad on the table top before me and snatched up my copy of ‘Mythical Irish Beasts’, which was earmarked in places of interest. Flicking through the book, she stopped on one such page, which was heavily underlined, and read:

“In his Topographia Hibernica, Gerald of Wales recounts the tale of a priest, who encountered on his travels a pair of speaking man-wolves, for whom he administered last rites. These wolves proclaimed themselves to be descendants of the Kings of Ossory, a mediaeval kingdom encompassing what is now Kilkenny and Laois, who’d been cursed by Saint Patrick for opposing his preaching of Christianity.”

She paused in her reading and looked up, one eyebrow raised dramatically.

“Doing your homework, I see.”

“It’s kind of an interest of mine. Myths and legends, the supernatural.”

She was staring again. Glaring again. Transmitting chills and half-smiling, though I wasn’t sure if it was in a mocking way or a pleasantly surprised one.

“I’m impressed. You know about Ossory. Not many do. Fuck all do, to be honest. Those dickheads down there sure don’t. They think John Landis invented werewolves. John fucking Landis! Can’t even go back as far as Chaney. Think it’s all ‘body-morph transformations by the light of the silvery moon’. Dopes.”

She said the word ‘dopes’ like she was spitting a slug from her mouth.

“It’s cool you know the legend too,” I said, still trying to work out if I trusted this girl or was terrified of her. There was a touch of emo about her, or maybe it was grunge, I was out of the loop on subculture assignations. I also found it hard to guess her age, though she was definitely younger than me. “It’s nice to meet someone who shares the same interest.”

She laughed, abruptly, startling me. “Oh, that I do! Sure, I’m from the area myself. Killeshin, in Laois. You won’t find it in your book, but local legends say it was a focal point of werewolf activity in the 13th century.”

“No shit?” I said, perking up a little too enthusiastically.

“Shit!” she replied, nodding eagerly and mimicking my excited tone, before glancing past me out the window, possibly to gauge where we were. “You know what? That’s where the party is. Killeshin. You know what else? It’s a werewolf-themed party. And do you know what else? I’ve got a spare mask and I think you should come. I think you’d like it. You’d certainly appreciate it more than those chuckleheads my brother invited.”

My throat was dry. My heart was thumping. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from hers. I opened my mouth and knew I was going to accept her invitation, even though I wasn’t sure I should. There was just something about her, an air of mystery, a sense of adventure, and I felt sure I’d regret it if I said no. But I never got the chance to say a thing.

A hand appeared and tugged the book from her hands then he was there, one of the dickheads, the same one, I quickly established, that she’d scolded a minute before. He was wearing a t-shirt depicting an image from the film ‘An American Werewolf in London’.

“What’s the story, Blev? Ditching me already? That’s not nice. What’s this shit?”

Even through the latex and hair-covered head mask he wore, I could smell the alcohol on his breath, it wafted from his rubber maw to assault my senses. He was leafing through my book with the pointed, plastic fingers of his wolf-claw gloves, and I could just about see his eyes through his mask slits, shifting slowly from me to her and back again.

“Nothing,” Blevine said. “Come on, we’re coming into Carlow, are you ready to get off?”

“I’m definitely ready to get off, thought you’d never ask! Give us a kiss then!”

He staggered forward and dropped his free hand onto her shoulder before jabbing the crumpled maw of his mask towards her face. I’m not sure what made me do it. Maybe it was a gut reaction to the abruptness of his move, maybe it was the stupid kissy noises he was making, maybe it was just the fact Blevine remained calm, staring at me past the big hairy head and pointy ear, waiting to see if I’d do something.

Whatever it was, I got to my feet, curled my arm around his chest, drew him back.

“Come on, man, don’t be a dick. Leave her alone.”

He turned on me and lunged, dropping my book to wrap both his rubbery hands around my neck and push me back down into my seat.

“Get the fuck off me, prick!”

His eyes were full of rage inside his mask. He flicked his head and the tip of his maw caught my glasses, flipping them off my face. His fingers dug into my neck and he barked like a dog, moving his head closer, the smell of latex and alcohol overwhelming. I placed my hands on his chest to hold him back.

“Jealous are ya, want me to yourself? Go on then, give us a kiss,” he said, and for a second he was all that existed in my world and the threat he presented was terrifying. Until it was removed, by another pair of hands that weren’t mine, big ones, with scratches and calluses on the fingers.

“I told you to watch yourself,” came the same, gruff voice I’d heard before, and now I could see who it belonged to, a tall, gaunt man with sallow skin, sunken eyes, a mane of jet-black hair and bushy eyebrows. He pulled my attacker away and shoved him roughly into the door between me and Blevine. “You’ll regret that.”

Fixing my glasses, my eyes were drawn back to Blevine, who remained seated a few inches away, staring at me between the two, circling her mouth with one finger. My cheeks flushed and I looked away, noticing the train had come to a halt in Carlow station while I was grappling with an idiot. His fellow idiots were lined up in the aisle behind the big guy, cans of cider and bottles of beer in their gloved hands. They were swaying from side to side, laughing and tittering, making fun of their friend.

“Don’t ruin the night, Damo, ya big eejit.”

“Sorry about that, lad, he gets a bit excitable when he’s out.”

“Come on, what are we waitin’ for, where’s this bleedin’ party?”

Blevine got to her feet and slid the door open, allowing who I assumed was her brother to shove Damo into the vestibule. “Calm down, Bleddyn!” she snapped, slapping his leather-jacketed shoulder. “No need to be so rough. This is a fun night we’re having, yeah?”

The one called Bleddyn only grunted before stalking through the door after Damo, allowing the others to follow him out of the carriage in single file, bouncing and singing and whooping.

When they’d all passed through, Blevine retrieved my trampled-on book from the floor and set it back on the table, leaning close to my neck as she did and seeming to sniff me. When she straightened back up, she was smiling.

“Sorry about that. Like I said, dickheads. Hope my brother didn’t scare you. He can be a bit intense.”

“It’s fine,” I said, with a shake of my head and a lick of my lips. “He was just looking out for you. And me, I suppose.” My face flushed with embarrassment at my failure to diffuse the situation.

“Yeah, he’s grand, just doesn’t take any shit, you know? Anyway, about the party. I was wrong. You shouldn’t come. You’re one of the good ones. You wouldn’t like it, and you definitely wouldn’t fit in. Right?”

“Oh. Yeah. Right.”

“Yeah. For sure you wouldn’t. Just…keep doing what you’re doing. And good luck with the story. I’m sure it’ll be great. It should definitely be about werewolves.”

“I think it probably will be now.”

She smiled even wider and her eyes seemed to sparkle, then she patted me on the shoulder, winked at me once and was gone.

From the platform outside I heard a ruckus, so I turned my head to stare out the window. The werewolves were there, jostling one another as they made their way into the small station building and struggled to get through the turnstiles. Bleddyn waited patiently at the rear until Blevine joined him, pushing herself up on her toes to whisper something in his ear. I saw him nod then enter the station, following the others into a dimly lit car park where a minibus filled with more werewolf-masked individuals was waiting.

The whole encounter had left me feeling ill at ease. It wasn’t just that I’d been attacked by a guy in a werewolf mask, it was all of it, everything about it seemed off, especially Bleddyn, even Blevine. The way she’d looked at me, the things she’d said and how she’d made me feel, like I was losing control as she spoke. Had she really sniffed me? And what did she mean, I was one of the good ones?

The train hissed and started to move. Blevine had followed her brother into the station. The others were boarding the bus. She was pushing her way through the turnstile. She stopped halfway through and looked back.

As before, her amber eyes met mine and held my gaze, sparkling in the dull fluorescent glow of the station’s lighting. As the train slid forward and she dropped out of sight she flashed a smile, and I could have sworn her teeth looked as sharp as obsidian glass.

But that had to have been my imagination.

Later, when I’d have time to think clearly and investigate, I’d discover the names Blevine and Bleddyn were Welsh, and happened to mean the same thing—wolf cub. Even with that knowledge, which could only have been coincidental, even reading online about the mysterious disappearance of a number of teens on Halloween Eve a few days later, I’d never allow myself to believe what I witnessed that evening was anything other than it seemed. 

Nevertheless, from that day on, my research into the legends of the Werewolves of Ossory would become nothing less than an obsession.

And I was sure I’d never rest ’til I saw her again.

July 07, 2023 11:30

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Sarah Saleem
10:31 Jul 15, 2023

Great read! I love the suspense in this one, how you keep the reader guessing whether they are actually werewolves or not.


12:51 Jul 15, 2023

Thanks Sarah! Appreciate that. :) I just followed you so will check your stories out soon!


Sarah Saleem
15:13 Jul 16, 2023

Thanks for following!✨️


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04:08 Jul 14, 2023

Werewolves on train, excellent description.


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Michał Przywara
20:45 Jul 13, 2023

A fun story! And quite meta - a writer who has a prompt, writing about a writer who has a prompt, who comes up with an idea that turns out is actually happening to him. Lovely :) Also a neat take on werewolves. The encounter with Blevine definitely felt intense, very much predator examining prey. Actually, it reminded me a bit of vampire tropes, with the mix of sexy and dangerous - although maybe those are also werewolf tropes and I'm just out of the loop. Anyway, it definitely felt like they were having a superficial conversation while so...


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Nina H
01:32 Jul 12, 2023

If I got in this train, I’d walk right off again! What a ride! I just loved the interaction between the mc and Blevine. I’m not well-versed in werewolves, but she seemed to put quite a spell on the mc. I really liked how he was drawn to her. Very good story, Derrick! 🌕


20:09 Jul 12, 2023

Thank you Nina. I have been on train carriages like this ...and left as soon as possible!!


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22:26 Jul 09, 2023

Would have to be a full moon night! He lived to tell the tale. Lycanthropy? Did they really believe they had transformed into wolves? Though I believe, that once the transformation has taken place, the subject is unaware, Very creepy. Not into bad language but it did seem to be a fitting way for these canines to speak. Wouldn't like to meet up with them on a train or anywhere. And I wouldn't want to research about it afterwards. Send shivers down my spine.


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Michelle Oliver
11:58 Jul 09, 2023

This was such a good read. I enjoyed the way you presented the story the undercurrent of menace kept me guessing just what was real and what was surreal. Well done.


13:33 Jul 09, 2023

Thank you Michelle. I appreciate this. ❤️


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Martin Ross
15:35 Jul 08, 2023

This is one of most intelligent, entertaining, educational stories about lycanthropy I’ve ever read! Loved the historical and pop culture details, and citing Landis was a masterstroke, given the chaotic rail setting (Trading Places). The ending is brilliant! Thanks.


18:22 Jul 08, 2023

Thank you Martin appreciate that. Glad it hit the mark! I'll catch up on your latest soon!


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Mary Bendickson
04:07 Jul 08, 2023

He probably dodged a deathly date.


18:23 Jul 08, 2023



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Kevin Logue
12:36 Jul 07, 2023

Thoroughly enjoyable! Takes skill to put your plot in a line up top then see it through as good as that. Meta, meta meta, loved the struggle to write a prompt. Could have been the shortest horror story ever, I was on the train from Kildare to Kilkenny ha. Only critic is this line, When I’d gotten on the train and entered the carriage twenty minutes earlier, seems to have redundancy or might be my dumb dumb brain. Sounds like you got on the train then entered it twenty minutes earlier??


13:08 Jul 07, 2023

Thanks Kevin. Point taken about that line I went ahead and edited it to remove confusion and you are probably right! Well if Sam Jackson can have snakes on a plane....lol why not! :)


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