Crouching down to try to calm his dog, Simon’s eyes were as wide as they could get while staring at the figures in the underpass praying they hadn’t heard Annie’s bark. Usually walking the dog in the very early hours was a calming and event free activity. Not today.
Annie continued to growl even though the squirrel that set her off had scarpered up a tree straight away. The group stopped what they were doing and all turned to face in the direction of Simon and Annie. Everything told him to run but Simon knew his current hiding position could still work. He saw the leader of the gang whisper into the ear of one of the larger men. This larger figure began to walk slowly towards Simon, stomping down the pitch black pathway.
Simon had no choice, he picked up Annie to avoid any further furry outbursts, quietly left his hiding position in the bush and walked briskly down the pathway in the opposite direction. His pace quickened when he saw that the blurry figure was growing nearer. It was as if he could smell Simon and was hunting them.
Rather than stay on the pathway all the way home, Simon ran up the sloped path in the direction of the train station. He put down Annie, grabbed hold of her lead and sprinted up the spiralling path up the hill. One direction and then the other until the path opened out to a council estate full of bright orange blocks of flats. At 3.30am most of the residents of these flats were asleep. Simon briefly looked back down the hill and saw the hooded figure at the bottom looking upwards at him. Not sure if he had been spotted, Simon span round and dashed through the council estate, not clear where he was headed, only that he had to hide as soon as humanly possible.
Annie was enjoying the unexpected run added to their daily routine, not understanding the danger her woof had put them in. Jogging past the last block of flats, they came to the main road that led to the Fogbury train station. At that time of the day no trains were running but it did have lots of places to hide. Simon’s mind was racing, he pulled his travel card out of his pocket and walked through the barrier with Annie under his arm. Looking around the station in utter panic he saw a hiding place that seemed like the best option. Running with the dog still under his arm Simon raced down to the end of the platform but didn’t slow down. Hopping off the slope at the end of the platform onto the tracks, he sat down in the gap between the rails and the concrete slope blanketed in total darkness.
With his back against the cold concrete, Simon held Annie in his arms trying to calm her down. She just needed to relax for 20 minutes until he was sure it was safe. Peering briefly over the top of the slope down the platform, Simon saw movement. This stranger was tracking him and Annie like some kind of gigantic bloodhound. The tall, hooded man sniffed the air first one way and then the other and began to walk directly to where Simon was hiding with Annie. Unsure of what his next move could be, other than possibly running across the tracks to the other exit, Simon tried to curl up with Annie in his lap so none of his body could be seen from above.
The hooded man was now only a few metres from his location looking around for them, confused that he couldn’t find them. Simon’s brow was flooded with sweat trying to look through the platform overhang at the person standing a few feet away above him. Annie could smell the stranger but thankfully for Simon, she was enjoying the hug from her master far too much to bark at them to ward them off.
After 45 seconds of not breathing, Simon thought he was going to pass out if something didn’t change soon. The hoody-wearing figure took a step closer to the edge of the platform when his mobile phone buzzed. Pulling it out of his trouser pocket this bulky snarling stranger read the text and immediately sprinted back down the platform and out of the station.
Leaving it an extra minute or so, Simon unfurled his legs and peered again over the platform edge. The sweat on his brow wiped the sweat on its brow. The coast was clear… To avoid coming face to face with that figure as soon as he left his hiding place, Simon carefully hopped across the tracks to the other side of the station. Walking up the slope on that side of the platform, Simon reached inside his pocket for his travel card and a thought crossed his mind. Although most of his brain was telling him to go home, something was screaming that he needed to do something first. Walking slowly out of the opposite end of the station Simon looked left and right and then quietly, ensuring he stayed covered in darkness and out of the light, made his way back to the underpass.
This was a bad idea even for Simon, if the book of bad ideas had a number one “Don't Try This At Home!” entry, this potentially would be it. The underpass at 4am was a dodgy place to be on any night but especially on a night where you had already seen a group doing something strange down there. But something deep inside Simon was telling him he had to go back and check something. This voice hadn’t been inside him before and even if every fibre told him to not to listen, his body was still strolling towards the bridge near the slope that led down to the underpass. Annie loved the new sets of smells as she rarely walked down this street especially at this time of night.
Crossing the road that went over the bridge Simon continued to have his hoodie down so he could check every direction for any of the mysterious figures he’d escaped from earlier. Thus far there was no one around which on any other day would be normal but not today. Coming to the side of the ridge that overlooked the entrance to the underpass Simon peered over the top and looked down. What he saw caused a weird combination of relief and distress in equal measures. Relief that none of the gang were still there so he was safe for now but distress as he could see a pair of legs sticking out from the underpass and they were not moving.
Taking the slope down to the entrance of the underpass where all this chaos began, Simon and Annie sped up just in case they could save the person currently not moving at the foot of this slope. However, as soon as Simon got inches from the body he could see that was not an option. Lying face up, staring wide-eyed and motionless back at Simon and Annie, was one part of the arguing duo he witnessed earlier. Worse still, it was one of the teachers at his school, Mr Wirthington. He was white as a sheet with shrivelled lips as if the life had been sucked out of them. Annie sniffed the hand of Mr Wirthington and backed off when she saw the deep scratches on his body, immediately knowing this person was not going to stroke her behind the ear any time soon. She then sniffed the ex- Maths teacher’s face and that was when his head lulled to one side and revealed two clear bite marks in his neck with blood dripping from each of them.
Simon’s mind was racing, what the flipping heck was going on and why was his Maths teacher involved?? Did he owe that gang money or gave them a bad mark in an exam? Something about all of this didn’t add up and it wasn’t just his deceased teacher. And why was the voice in his head so right about this? The only place he’d expect to see something like this would be on the Horror Channel not Fogbury at 4am. He put all of those conflicting thoughts to one side as he looked down at his beloved Annie and realised one thing more than anything else, they had to get home and now!! He should probably call an ambulance or the police but that was the least of his worries. Something was telling him if he stayed here any longer he would be joining his newly acquainted dead teacher on the floor permanently.
They had two routes home, one on the main road but with no place to hide for a full mile or so. Or they took their chances and went back down the pathway which was full of hiding spots and darkness to avoid capture. Simon took in a huge intake of breath, closed his eyes to try and find some courage inside and then began to stride away from the lights of the underpass and into the familiar darkened path way surrounded by trees.
Within seconds they had successfully passed the slope leading to the train station and their tall hoodie wearing stranger was nowhere to be seen. Off they raced down the track towards Simon’s old infant school where there was a crossroads that was one of the only places where there was a lamp post that shone light over one side of the pathway.
Impressed by his continued stamina and energy, Simon didn’t slow down, knowing his slope-falling adversary would be coming after him. Even Annie wasn't sure what her owner was doing with all this exercise on their walk today. Her instincts on whether someone was good or bad seemed to be faulty. In her cute puppy dog eyes everyone was a potential opportunity to be fussed or fed.
The pathway was bathed in light once more due to it opening out onto a main road. Despite it being early and unlikely there would be any traffic, Simon stopped at the side of the road and looked left and then right. As soon as he looked right, lights came on in a black van parked 20 metres down the road. Simon didn't need to hang around to see if it was a coincidence or not, he and Annie scarpered across the road and back on the pathway into the darkness once more.
His legs were starting to ache but his ears heard something move behind them. He was being chased and it looked like a another one of the hoodie-wearing giants from the underpass. If they stayed on the pathway they would get caught so Simon acted fast and came off the pathway into the bushes. Scrambling up the embankment, Simon carried Annie all the way, reaching the top without too much trouble placing her back down and grabbing her lead.
Facing them at the top of the slope was the back fence of a local warehouse, Simon quickly looked for any gaps he could use to get through and thankfully he found one just big enough for him to wrestle through after placing Annie on the other side. She wagged her tail at his antics thinking it was one of the funniest things she’d seen in her doggy life. Simon smiled at Annie but was interrupted by the loud landing the hoodie wearing henchmen made as he leapt the fence without much issue.
“There’s no point trying to run, you need to come with me,” said the stranger to Simon
“No, I’m not going anywhere with you! If you touch me I will call the police.” threatened Simon knowing it was a pretty daft thing to say at 4am in an abandoned warehouse.
The stranger laughed. “I’d hoped you’d say that!”
Annie’s waggy tail stopped wagging, the smells coming from the stranger were changing.
Taking his hoodie down, the stranger cracked his neck to one side and then other and his face started to change. First his eyes turned bright red followed by hair growing all over his face and hands and then his entire body. The man's nose was extended into a snout followed by his pearly teeth extending into long sharp death machines. Simon was playing catch up but he knew a werewolf when he saw one. Not letting this monster have any more time to change, Simon threw a punch which the werewolf dodged, then a double kick combo which were both blocked. The werewolf retaliated with a swift backhand that sent Simon flying across the ground slamming hard into a stack of wooden pallets which wobbled slightly.
Shaking his head out of his daze, Simon was joined by a concerned Annie who licked his face to wake him up. This was it, all or nothing. Simon unclipped Annie’s lead and wrapped it around one of his hands letting the metal clip hang down slightly. The werewolf was stomping over to finish him off as Simon stood up, got his footing and began to swing the lead around his head faster and faster, until all that could be heard above the deafening silence of the night was the swift swishing of the lead. As soon as the werewolf got close enough Simon swung the lead at it hitting once and then twice and then a third time sending it crashing to the ground.
Simon approached the downed werewolf to hit it again continuing to swish the lead around his head like a makeshift lasso. He swung the lead at the dazed werewolf who promptly grabbed the lead stopping this latest attack in its tracks. The werewolf stared at Simon as it got up, lead in its hand and with drool and blood dripping from its mouth. Pulling hard on the lead, Simon was dragged towards the werewolf who grabbed him around the waist. Squeezing harder and harder on Simon’s ribs, the werewolf let out a howl and then threw him several feet across the courtyard of the warehouse crashing through the door to building landing in a heap of splintered glass and wood.
With his eyes closed, Simon could only hear the ongoing carnage outside as barks and howls and crashing took place. Where was Annie? Then, he heard a familiar bark followed by a squeal. Simon’s eyes shot open, grief, sadness, anger bubbled inside him giving him the boost to shoot upright and get ready for round two. Staring around the warehouse he saw one thing that might just work.
Looking at the broken door to warehouse he was about to go find Simon when the main shutters to the warehouse began to open. It took several seconds to fully open but the werewolf stood still to try to avoid any surprise attacks. A minute passed after the warehouse was fully open and nothing happened. The werewolf lost patience and began to walk inside the warehouse to see if Simon was bleeding to death somewhere. Maybe it was very windy or the werewolf underestimated his opponent but he noticed the sound of an electric engine too late and was hit out of the darkened warehouse by a fork lift going at full speed, hitting him in the mid riff.
Crashing out of the warehouse entrance back into the courtyard, Simon didn’t slow the fork lift down and aimed it at the nearest wall he could find. With the werewolf acting as a car bumper the fork lift hit the stack of wooden pallets and both forks immediately pierced the monster’s body causing it to let out a howl and then a wounded whimper. The pallets wobbled once more causing it to become even more unstable. Simon had his hands still wrapped around the wheel like they were stuck there with superglue. His eyes were fixed on the werewolf whose head was bowed. Blue blood was dripping from its chest. Before Simon could let go of the wheel, his werewolf enemy's head shot up and lashed out its claws at his face and throat but instead only caused some sparks to fly when it connected with the metal cage of the fork lift.
Simon started to laugh at the werewolf knowing it was stuck. The werewolf death stared as the back of its hoodie began to wriggle wildly. After a few more wriggles of the hoodie, shooting out of the werewolf’s top were two huge black shiny wings that looked like they should belong to a massive bat. Flapping up and down rapidly the bat wings sent both the werewolf and fork lift upwards towards the night sky. Simon screamed not knowing what to do as this “wolf bat” (as his brain simply called it) was going to kill them both. He didn’t need to think about this for much longer because as soon as the fork lift lifted off the ground the wolf bat knocked the tower of wooden pallets for the last time. The top pallet plummeted off the wooden summit hitting the wolf bat just below the neck, severing its head clean off, spraying Simon in a sea of blue blood.
With wolf bat blood dripping off his nose, Simon watched the monster’s body disintegrate in front of him until all that was left was a sea of grey dust flying away on the wind, sending the fork lift crashing back down to earth.
“Just your average Tuesday” thought Simon, as something brushed his hand and began to lick the blue blood off his fingers. Bit of an upgrade for Annie from fox poo.
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This story had me rooting for Simon and Annie from the get-go. 'Tis a shame what became of the Maths teacher, though.