Jack Thatcher sat in his black Land Rover and loaded his Remington Model-870 as blue moonlight filtered in through the tinted windshield. The shotgun had seen a lot of wear and tear in its day. He’d sawn it off about eight inches from the end of the barrel after his first pitiful attempt at a hunt all those years ago. The fingers of his left hand absently brushed over the scarred area on the right side of his rib-cage, a constant reminder of that first night out.
Now the weapon felt good in his hands, it felt like an extra appendage, it was comfortable and it was hungry. Just like he was. There was work to be done out here off of I-40 in the wooded mountains near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. He had followed this particular bunch, had been able to scratch a few of them along the way also. But tonight he was after Scanlon, the one who held this particular group together. Kill him and the rest would be easy prey.
Thatcher laughed to himself and wished that it was just that easy. It had been Scanlon that night in the pine barrens of Jersey who had given him the scars that ran clear across his ribs and around to his back. He had put one into Scanlon that night, probably just grazed him, but it had been enough to keep that monster from finishing the job. Ever since then, Scanlon had been at the top of his list. And now he had the bastard right where he wanted him…on the run and scared to death.
Thatcher laughed again and allowed himself to smile, not many of those going around these days. He had to admit that it felt damn good to have Scanlon scared of him for once. The son of a bitch certainly had done enough scaring in his life. Now that the tables were turned, Thatcher was more hungry than ever. He gave the Remington one last inspection, laid it gently on the passenger seat and picked up his Smith & Wesson .45 automatic. The clip had already been loaded with his custom ammo, the large silver-plated gun also felt very good and cold in his hands. Five extra fully loaded clips were strapped to his belt and, just in case things got tight, a gleaming silver hunting knife was strapped to his left ankle.
God, would it feel good to nail that bastard with the blade, Thatcher thought but had to calm himself down. Getting overconfident when he was this close might just get him killed tonight. And that wasn’t on his agenda.
Thatcher gently put the handgun back into his shoulder holster, the bright moonlight glinting off its silver finish as he passed the weapon under his thick leather jacket. He had a bullet-proof vest on tonight as an extra precaution. Kevlar tended to block long sharp claws as well as bullets. Several boxes of his hollow-point silver-tipped bullets would go into his jacket pockets. He hoped like hell that he wouldn’t need that many reloads but he wasn’t taking any chances out there.
They were close now, he could smell them. Their scent was strong and foul as it carried on the mountain breeze. There was no traffic this late at night in the mountains. The air was cold and the sky was crisp. Not a single cloud threatened to block the fullness of the moon positioned seemingly just outside his windshield.
Thatcher looked up at the moon then, marveled at the craters and the darker marias marring the otherwise blinding whiteness of the satellite’s surface. Why do you do it? He wondered. Why do you unleash the beasts upon the world? Thatcher shook his head in sorrow and pumped a shell into the chamber of his trusty old shotgun. Its’ load seemed to vibrate from deep within the weapon, as if the customized silver pellets were eager to taste the flesh and hearts of his prey.
One last look around and Thatcher knew he was ready. With one deep breath, he gripped the stock of his shotgun tightly and opened his door to the cold mountain air. He had long ago learned to disconnect the overhead cabin light when going out on a hunt. No need to give them any extra warning than they already had. Yeah, they knew he was out here. They knew what he had for them. Scanlon knew especially.
Before Thatcher’s feet touched the blacktop along this curve of I-40, a deep and lonely howl shattered the silence of the night. A howl that sounded oh so close, oh so lonely and oh so scared. But that howl was also a warning, a signal to let him know that they were hunting, too. Thatcher silently closed the door to his Land Rover and sucked in a deep breath of the cold, thin mountain air. He reached up and pulled the brim of his leather hat a little lower on his forehead to block the glare of the brilliant moon. With a grin at the howl that lingered on the breeze, Jack Thatcher gripped his shotgun a little tighter and disappeared into the moonlit woods.
Shawn P. Madison, creator of the Guarder/U.E.N. Universe, currently lives in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with his beautiful wife and a veritable cornucopia of kids. Although he has written in many different genres, he tends to write mostly science fiction and horror. He has published more than eighty short stories in fifty different magazines and anthologies, both electronic and print. His first novel, GUARDER LORE, was released by NovelBooks, Inc. in March of 2002, the follow-up novel, THE GUARDER FACTOR, was released by NovelBooks, Inc. in November of 2003 and his collection of short Horror Fiction, THE ROAD TO DARKNESS, was released by Double Dragon Publishing ( http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com ) in April of 2003. You can reach Shawn via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full Moon Blues has been published previously in the e-zines SHADOWKEEP (2001), INSCRIPTIONS (2001) and SDO FANTASY (2002) as well as my collection of short horror stories THE ROAD TO DARKNESS (DDP – 2003).