Unbeknownst to any humans…
Crimson mist shrouds the moon for one single night…
Mortal eyes are blinded to the blood red crescent…
But during those short hours…
Basking in the mystical light…
And in one certain year…
His eyeballs rolled under their lids. The right, then the left… Oh wait, there wasn’t one. His rigid jaw creaked, bone dry mouth swallowing. His stiff joints grated together as he squirmed under the grainy, moist pressure. It was heavy every time he ‘woke up.’ How long has it been since that last time? He couldn’t move. Every single time, he couldn’t move. His skin was freezing, but he did not feel the cold. His toes wriggled against much resistance. His fingers dug into his surrounding; they were itching to dig. Instincts were telling him to break free, but he had never tried to. There was no point, as he would die soon anyway- or so he had thought the last dozens of times.
He had lost count already. Not that he was counting anyway.
He lay on his side, in the same awkward, curled-up position he had been for the past god-knows-how-long. This time also, he would just lie there until he drifted back into oblivion. Boring as hell. At first he had thought he would only stay ‘awake’ for a bit, but once he had tried counting the seconds, he found out it was a whooping eight hours. The realization made him dread the passing time even more.
Maybe this time he should go do something instead of lying here. He should have come to term with this ever since he’d ‘woken up’ the for the third, or even the second time, but he wasn’t going to die. It seemed he had some kind of ridiculous immortal body. How long had he been here waiting for a death that wouldn’t come?
Maybe he should go take revenge on the bastard that took his eye and then dumped him here. Backstabbing little shit.
Despite his diatribe, he strangely didn’t feel angry at his killer. He had been lying here for too long to care anymore, and actually felt a sort of triumph that he had bested death. If he had considered revenge a few ‘awakenings’ before, it might have sounded like a good reason to climb out of his grave. But now…
He wanted to do something to refresh his mind. The muscles on his cheek twitched. He wanted to talk to someone until he had to ‘sleep’ again.
That was it! He could go find that someone, make a friend and catch up with the times – provided that he could find someone willing to speak to him. He must look terrible now. Well, he would cross the bridge when he gets there. For now…
His eye snapped opened for the first time in ages – his lids almost not wanting to part. It was no different from when he had it closed: darkness. His limbs tensed up as he tried to exert the strength he remembered he had. It was hard, but the heavy soil was undoubtedly giving way. His right hand was first, pushing up through the dirt. Push. He could already feel the wind flowing through his fingers. His killer had done him the favor of burying him shallowly. A cynical smirk curled his sere lips.
He clawed at the ground, making way for his head to rise. Dirt wedged into his empty eye-socket, but he didn’t mind. It didn’t hurt. Nothing did. His arm propped behind him, his head finally emerged from the ground.
Legs. He saw slender legs.
He lifted his gaze up the small body of the being in front of him. A little girl had her back to him. Her long mane of seamless mahogany flew in the wind, ethereal locks fluttering. She whipped around as though sensing his presence. And he saw her eyes.
Large, glowing orbs of crimson as red as the waning moon behind her.
She wasn’t human. Her lycanthropic ears protruded at the top of her head. Her small face was adorned with the most delicate features he had ever seen – skin almost like porcelain, cute little nose and dainty pink lips. And she had only naked skin, with ruddy brown fur running down her back, an elegant tail gracing her behind. Above the rustling pine trees, the preternatural heavenly body shone down on her, and her young body seemed to glow in the mysterious light, beautifully pale.
Before he could say anything, she turned and darted into the forest.
It happened this year, too.
The moon turned a red sheen, and she was able to take this form.
She was only watching the moon at her favorite spot in the forest when she sensed a disturbance in the surrounding. Many others resided within this forest with her, and though most left her alone, she remained alerted.
A bad smell. A human had suddenly emerged from the ground behind her. She had never met a human up so close. It startled her, but then she saw his eye.
It was of a pale blue just like water in the lake at night. She found herself wanting to see the other one that was hidden behind his tousled bang.
He didn’t smell human, with a pervading scent of death emanating from his flesh. Half of his body still stayed beneath the ground, and he didn’t seem like he would move for now. His unkempt hair, laced with the soil he was coming from, was of a dirty black, yet at the same time had a curious shade of purple. His face was sharp and defined, his chin delicately pointed. Unsightly dark blotches blemished his otherwise pale, pale skin.
Was he hurt, she wondered.
A sound of branches cracking from somewhere snapped her out of her reverie. Quickly turning on her heels, she sprinted away from the clearing, away from the stranger.
Left alone, he had nothing else to do but continue to pull himself from the ground. The hardest part was already over. Now if he could just get his legs free- There!
Finally, he could stand on his own two feet, although rather shakily. It had been a while since he could last extend his legs to their full lengths. He felt like a newborn fawn, or rather, a used-up old donkey.
He scraped the dirt that was clogging his nostrils out, and took his first breath of fresh air in ages. He didn’t need it, but the feeling of air filling up his lungs was too nostalgic to pass up. Ah yes, as it turned out, he wasn’t immortal. He was undead, and he suspected him coming back to life had something to do with that blood red moon on the pitch black sky. Well, at least he didn’t have to worry about sanitary as he took the dirt out of his eye socket.
Pushing his arms back behind his head, he gave his body a good stretch, letting his joints crack loudly. Fortunately, his body wasn’t too decomposed. However, he doubted he could find anyone willing to speak to him before a bullet nailed him in the head. Could he even speak, he wondered. At the thought, he placed his hands onto his mouth and jaw.
He worked his jaw, producing dangerous-sounding cracks, and pried his rotting lips open. Let’s try ABC.
“…” he tried to say something, but nothing but low grunts came out. “—hhh.. eee— sh-shhh—” That was just awful. “—aaaee—ooou…”
After a while with no success, he finally slumped his shoulder in defeat. Great. Goodbye speaking. Just how long had he stayed cooped up underground? Damn!
“… Da—m,” he slurred and did a double-take as soon as he finished. He spoke. Broken and weak, but it was a start. At least, his speech wasn’t completely lost. “Tae—nk ko—.” He exhaled in relief.
Now, there was another problem. His clothes had all but rotted away.
His shirt had been torn from his body as he rose from his grave and now probably lay shredded underground. His musty jeans had also deteriorated to the point that, after trying to save as much of them as he could, he ended up with a tattered pair of shorts. The dark blotches all over his body was just nasty, and he also smelt like a corpse… Well, he was a corpse.
Maybe that was why that wolf girl fled. Because he was just that pervasive. And he also saw her butt-naked.
… Well, it was her fault for parading nude. Then again, she didn’t really have anything to hide, not yet anyway. He wouldn’t be surprised if she grew up to be a beautiful girl…
In any case, he had no idea what he should do now. He got out in order to find some company, but it was impossible. So now what? This wasn’t much different from being underground. The scenery was nice, but it was the crime scene of his death, after all. He didn’t feel much appreciation for it, beautiful as it might be. Worse yet, he was now without his clothes, too! Not that there was anyone around to judge him, but as a civil human being, or ex for that matter, he couldn’t stand having nothing but a pair of shorts on.
By the way… the forest at night was rather creepy. Ah, it seemed he was slowly regaining his personality. Whether that was a good thing or not…
An unusual rustling in the branches caused him to jump. He would have screamed out had his vocal cord worked. Slowly, he turned to the direction of the sound while chanting to himself that no matter what was there, he couldn’t die anymore.
From behind a tree, the young lycanthrope from before was peeking at him. She wore a cold look, her red gaze glowering at him. He unwittingly swallowed, even though he had no saliva.
He just stood there, anticipating her next course of action. Finally, the girl meandered around the fat trunk. She still had no clothes on, he noted, but it didn’t look like she was in anyway bothered by it. She still had no concept of shame, it seemed. Suddenly, she started to approach him. She wasn’t going to eat him, was she? He took a step back, considering the option of running away. Could he even hope to outrun someone who had made the forest her home? She was less than half his size, yes, but his body was far, far past its expiration date.
The girl walked up to him, each step held an unnatural grace as her tail moved from side to side, her gaze never leaving him. He took yet another step back, and her ears perked upright. Her eyes seemed to glow brighter, almost as if they were saying Don’t you dare move a muscle.
His mouth parted. He would tell her he wouldn’t taste good, but goddamn his vocal cord. Just great. He was going to die as soon as he declared he would not.
When she was right in front of him, he finally noticed that she had a hand behind her back all this time. So now she even had a weapon!?
He saw her swing her arm and squeezed his eye shut, blinding himself from his own demise.
Had anything happened? Why was she taking so long to do him in?
There was a tug on his jeans.
He slit his eye opened and saw a large white roll. The corpse blinked, not quite comprehending the reason for the existence of this object in front of him.
The wolf girl was offering him a roll of bandage while looking at him with eyes full of expectation.
Eh? His mind blanked out for a moment as it worked to register the situation. Could it be? For me? he wanted to ask, but had to settle with pointing at himself.
The little girl nodded her head, nudging the roll at him. Did she think he was hurt or something? Then again, he wasn’t the epitome of healthiness.
Thanks but I don’t need it, he held up his hands in a gentle refusal. However, she persistently held it up to him with no regards to his body language.
“Hurt,” she suddenly said, surprising him. So she could speak human language! The revelation greatly influenced his desire to say something. He wasn’t the loquacious type, but stay isolated long enough and anyone would be dying for communication.
“… T—ankz… hut… hut” he wanted to smash his head against a wall. His lips were so stiff they couldn’t pronounce b.
She stood on her toes and pressed it at his chest.
“…” he accepted the bandages.
As the human sat and stared in awe, she skillfully wrapped the bandage around his damaged torso and then down his arm. She couldn’t understand why this human was fumbling with it. Weren’t humans supposed to be good at this? She had learnt from watching them after all.
The wolf sneaked a glance at the man’s face as she tied a knot. He wasn’t the most good-looking human she had ever seen. He was dirty; his skin was in horrible condition and his lip scaly. And he smelt really bad. However, she couldn’t help but feel there was something very attractive melded into his features. He was also very tall – taller than the people she usually saw at the edge of the forest. And then there was his hair and its fading purple color. She had never seen that color anywhere except on flowers and plants, and it intrigued her greatly.
“Yorr… gud a—t tis.”
And she didn’t understand why this human spoke in such a strange dialect, or why his voice was so funny at times.
“There are… voices. They say… learn… or die,” she tried to use the little vocabulary she had to explain the call of her instinct.
The man had a confused look at her words. It was interesting how his expression changed just as easy as that. Wolves’ expression didn’t show on their faces much, so even when the girl had turned human, her facial muscles remained stiff still. However, not understanding that, she was greatly frustrated by her stoic face. Her ears twitched as she whipped her tail to a side in a fit.
She bit at the bandage to separate the unused part. She was going to move to his face. There were cuts of varying depths, and some of the flesh had turned a cringing blue, on the verge of peeling. Suddenly, she felt a brush on her ear and jumped away from the man.
The corpse had only touched her ear out of curiosity and was surprised at how strongly she had reacted. “Shorrrry…” he managed to curl his tongue with much difficulty. “Yor eers arr reary beechiful sho I ku’un hep it.” He did it! Bad pronunciation aside, an unbroken sentence!
The girl averted her gaze, bashfully reaching up to touch her ear. Ah, she’s happy. After watching her for a bit, he had realized that she wasn’t as cold as she let up. Her expression just changed very little. And also, he glanced at her tail slowly wagging behind her back, that was a dead giveaway as to how she felt.
She scuttled near him again. “Don’t touch… It’s…” her ears wiggled, “… strange.”
“… hee—” he wheezed without meaning to. “You mean chickrish?”
“Chickrish?” she tilted her head.
“‘kyuush me,” he pardoned himself and stroked her ear again, causing her to jump. He chuckled. “‘up, tat’s chickrish— alllrite.” Though, the pronunciation is godawful, he thought. He had this urge to teach her human language, but he guessed he should refrain until his own skills had improved somewhat.
The girl then proceeded to bandage up his head. She seemed to wince when she saw his left eye – or lack thereof. It must have looked pretty disgusting. He felt strangely thankful when she wordlessly carried on without commenting on his missing eye. It was possible she just didn’t have the words to express herself, but he was thankful nonetheless. Letting such a pure young girl see the result of ugly treachery, in a way, he felt guilty. Although… being what she was, she had probably seen enough gore to last a human lifetime.
He heaved a sigh. This wouldn’t do. He only had as little as eight hours to move around. He shouldn’t keep wallowing about the past, and instead should focus on what was in front of him!
Ah yes… In front of him was a close up view of a young girl’s bare chest as she bandaged his head. When she was wrapping him up earlier, he was only looking at her face so it wasn’t too bad, but now that the whole thing was shoved at his face… He was bothered after all.
The corpse stood up and tried moving his arms and legs. He had thought there was no point bandaging him up, but he came out more clothed! And it was still easy to move even with bandages sporadically wrapped all over him. However, despite how skillfully she had demonstrated herself, the wolf girl wasn’t able to bandage his hands. It was too complicated for her. Seems I’m part zombie part mummy now, he joked to himself.
Standing next to him, the little girl tugged at his hand, large red eyes staring up at him. Ah, how cute, he thought. “T’anks a lot, you ‘err a gate hep!” he smiled and said what he thought she wanted to hear, petting her head.
She shook her head from side to side and started pulling him away.
“… W-what eeezit?”
He was led through rows and rows of trees, nearly stumbling as he tried to keep up with her over the roots and under the branches – the branches especially! The height he had always prized was hindering him mercilessly. The girl’s agile movement was also a problem as she dragged him through narrow gaps and- ! Was that a spider perching on her hair!?
Eventually, they arrived at the foot of a magnificent rocky hill. Ah, could this possibly be? He remembered seeing this cliff from his room’s window. He was about to fret that she was going to make him climb that, but then, she pointed to a part where the rocks were jutting out. “Place to rest,” she said before pulling him towards it.
Under the shadow of the rocks, he could see bones of various sizes – some whole, some cracked as though they were chewed on, and some were in pieces. It occurred to him that this was her home. And, he looked up at the rocks spanning out above them, those were her roof.
He kind of felt sorry for her. A lone little girl living in such a condition. Sure, she wasn’t human, but still…
“By the way… dat… dat…” he stuttered, gesturing at her hair. The spider was still strolling along her mane, and it was horrifying how the abomination was nearing her face.Okay, calm down. Be the man here and help her- He let out a squeak when the girl brought her hand up to touch the insect. As he stared with his jaw slacked, she, not even batting an eye, plucked the insect from her mane, took a look at it, and offhandedly threw it aside. Completely unaffected by the event, she proceeded to tug at his hand and pointed at the greensward where they stood.
“Ah— yesh… naish pace you got ‘ere,” he offered his compliment, still reeling from the shock. “My, how bery impesshive.” Very impressive, indeed. Her mentality, that was.
She shook her head and stood on her toes, reaching up to him.
“W-what? Oof-” as soon as he knelt down to her level, the girl tackled him and pushed him down to the ground. Something pointy was poking into his back – a piece of bone, he suspected. It was good that he no longer felt pain. Thanks to that, he could worry about another matter.
Lying flat on his back, the corpse didn’t know how to react as the little girl climbed onto him. “Errr… whatz wong?” he asked, slightly intimidated as her gleaming red eyes gazed down at him. He knew for a fact that she hadn’t bandaged him up just so she could tear him to pieces mere moments later, but this situation was rather worrisome.
“You’re hurt. Rest,” was her curt reply.
Understanding dawned on him, making him chuckle. “Ah cheeze, tanks but I’m al-”
“Rest,” she demanded again.
… Déjà vu?
“‘o, geally I’m hine-”
He decided to rest.
The wolf girl was licking her arm above him. She was still straddling him, even though he had assured her that he would rest.
When he thought about it, this girl was really kind. Setting aside the fact that he had been coerced into everything, she had tended to his wounds and given him a place to rest when she could have just eaten him. It didn’t seem like she was aware that he was dead – dying, maybe, but not dead. It was endearing, as well as mysterious how she could be so caring—
She squirmed. He really, really hoped she would get off. A… dangerous place… was touching him. Well, not him since there was still a layer of bandages, but still!
The wolf slowly lay down on top of the man in order to take a closer look at his face. He currently seemed to be uneasy for some reason.
She was just so curious about this man she had just met. He was different from the humans she had seen from time to time in many ways, but she couldn’t pinpoint any of them. And then… She rested her face onto his bandaged chest, her palm flat, expecting to feel a warm, constant thumping. But there was nothing. He was so… quiet and still. Just like those who she ate. But she wasn’t eating him… so why? He was also very cold, and the foul stench made her nose cringe. Beings who smelt bad would soon leave her, and she didn’t like that.
“Shay,” his voice suddenly said, reverberating inside his chest. Her ears perked up, and she pushed herself up to meet his pewter blue gaze. “How o—ld are you?”
She tilted her head in confusion. He guessed if one lived completely secluded from civilization, there wouldn’t be a concept of age.
“Okay… err, how… many winters hab you sheen?”
Her ears moved as she tried to comprehend his question. “One.”
They still weren’t on the same page now, were they? She couldn’t be just one year old. “Well… you’re awhully young I mush shay. Why are you all alone?” She just looked at him. “Dunchu belong in a pack shomewhere?”
Her ears drooped as she averted her gaze to the ground. “… Last time moon become red, I look human. Others attack.”
The wolves in her former pack had never liked her because of her eyes. She also didn’t fit in well. Her mind was always wandering, wondering about things wolves would never mind, and it distracted her from proper contribution to the pack. Too often, she had strayed from the pack because she didn’t follow the alpha’s leadership. The alpha’s influence over her was almost non-existent as opposed to others of her kind, and she stuck out like a sore thumb. The moment she turned, it was all that was needed for them to chase her out for good.
The corpse was frowning. So she used to be just a normal wolf. He pitied her even more now. At such a young age, already she had to fend for herself, on top of not knowing what exactly she was. How she was so capable only reflected the hardships she had been through. He was glad she had survived after all this time, but, in a way, it was just sad to know how lonesome she was. He couldn’t fathom what could be going on in her mind after living like this for so long. He found himself wanting to do something for her, but there was no way a rotting corpse like him could. Then again, even if he were still alive and well, he doubted he would be able to just take her in.
Something warm brushed against his hand then, pulling him out of his musing. He glanced down to see that it was her tail gently swaying from side to side. The girl had her eyes closed as she curled up on top of him. Was she sleepy, perhaps? It did look to be rather late in the night already. Not wanting to startle her, he only lifted his hand slightly and let her brush her soft length of fur along his knuckles. It wasn’t like he had never petted a dog before, but because the fur was coming from a human – well, a humanoid creature for that matter – the experience was quite fascinating. He ran his fingers up her small back, and instantly, her eyes snapped open. She made no movement, but her tail had stopped its motion as she stared up at him watchfully.
He didn’t give it much thought and smiled at her to show he meant no harm. Propping an arm behind his back, he pushed himself up with the girl still on top of him. She was about to get off, but the arm he had behind her back didn’t let her. The girl was greatly confused by his course of action, eyeing him curiously. “Let be hend,” he said and immediately knitted his eyebrows. That was super lame even for him. Such a serious proposal had been beautifully screwed up by his kindergarten-level speech.
She didn’t seem to understand him. Was it because she hadn’t learnt the word friend, or had he simply mucked up so bad she couldn’t even interpret him?
Inwardly groaning, he attempted to put it another way. “… Well, I can’t bery well leeb a girl to wander alone, no, no. Sho, I’ll shtay wit you! Okay?”
The girl seemed to be deep in thought as her tail stood upright, the tip drawing small circles in the air. He patiently waited, and when she glanced back at him from time to time, he simply smiled without a word. Finally, she tugged at the bandages on his chest. “Friend?”
Ah! The word he couldn’t pronounce for the life of him! He hastily nodded.
“Okay,” a small smile graced her features before she leant in and gave him a quick lick on the nose.
She was too adorable. He felt like he could be capable of a blush right now, although he didn’t have any blood left in him.
Having stayed in solitude for so long under the surface, he could somewhat sympathize with her. He wondered if she realized she was lonely, because he could see that she was. He might not have much time left, but even if it was just for a little bit, he wanted to offer his company to her, just as she had given him hers.
As he lay on the grass next to her, he held her small hand; his eye was closed. They had talked for all this time, in his broken speeches and in her broken sentences, about his past – that he tweaked to sound as if he was still alive – and about her present. Now, he felt rather spent. His limbs were refusing to move, reminding him of the time when his teacher had him run laps around school. He forced his body to roll over to face her, eye squeezing open to meet with her red gaze. Her pupils somehow shone brighter.
“I chus remember dith. You can call me Garry,” he muttered in a soft voice, chuckling. “My, how rude of me. Haben’t intoduced myself dith whole time. Sho, what do I call you?”
She stayed silent without moving her gaze from him.
“… You dun hab a name?” he asked, a bit shocked.
Her ears drooped.
“How ’bout I gib you one?” he smiled, squeezing her hand. Sharp nails that weren’t there before dug into his palm.
She looked at him expectantly. Ah, no good. He was too tired to think straight. His mind was shutting down on him. What would be a good name for her? A name befitting her. The youthful little thing that she was… unlike him, she would live on no matter what.
“Let call you Eeb.”
Okay, great. He couldn’t even pronounce it right.
“Ib?” she repeated, ears wiggling.
His mind slowly registered her voice. “… Ib, Ib you say?”
“You say call me Ib,” she didn’t seem to get why he was asking her. It didn’t seem like she hated the sound of it. She actually looked rather happy.
He smiled and closed his eye again. “Yeah… Ib.”
I’m going to sleep for a bit, okay? Wait for me?
Let’s talk again when I wake.
The morning sunlight pierced through the dense canopies of leaves, awakening her senses. Instead of the familiar earthy smell of grass, what tickled her nose was the distinctive stench she had gotten used to last night. Something was encasing her left ‘hand.’ The wolf opened her eyes to see the man ‘sleeping’ across from her. He was still here; her friend was still here and it pleased her greatly. At last, there was someone who accepted her, who would stay with her.
When would she be able to see his beautiful blue eye again? When he wakes, she hoped he would pat her head again.
But he did not move for a while.
As the ardent sun slowly dragged its light over the sky, her stomach growled in protest. Still, she just lay there, watching him, wondering when he would wake up. Under the bright daylight, the wounds that he had all over his body looked even more nasty. He seemed even paler than he had in the night. He must be all worn out from the pain, and that was why he slept still.
The crescent sliver of light was illuminating the dark autumn night again and the ominous red mist was nowhere to be seen. It was a beautiful night, and she wanted to enjoy it with him, but he still hadn’t awoken. Reluctantly, she wriggled her ‘hand’ from his grasp and stood up for a stretch.
It was okay.
She touched her nose to his and nuzzled, taking in his smell.
She was only leaving to hunt for a bit, surely she wouldn’t miss him waking up?
He had told her to wait. So she would patiently wait, until they could talk to each other again.
Looking towards the pure white moon, she let out a reverberating howl, before sprinting into the dense forest.
Every year thus…
Unbeknownst to anyone…
The ignorant corpse that makes the wolf wait…
And the foolish wolf that faithfully waits…
Their story is witnessed by no one…
But the crescent moon shrouded in the crimson mist.
- night of the red moon = Halloween
- the roll of bandage is stolen
- Ib’s age: 1.5 years old (equals 9 in human age); has only turned human once before the story takes place
- Ib learnt language and bandaging from watching hikers
- Garry’s age: unknown; he’s been lying underground for too long
- Garry doesn’t realize the red moon occurs only once every year, and he doesn’t know he’s oooold