Even though summer is not going to be official for another couple of months, I'm declaring it summer on account that the busy season is over and I've got that same feeling I used to get as a kid when school was close to getting out.
I will say over and over again how I hate the heat and insects, but secretly I adore summer. Who doesn't, really? Summer has a way of making one feel free. And as I am now more or less free from work I have time to concentrate on what I love. My stories have been neglected for so long; it's time to take them out and dust them off. To keep myself in line and from giving into summer boredom, I've assigned myself a number of prompts and I will endeavor to write a little something to go with each prompt. Some will be stand alone pieces, others will tie into a larger story that I have been brewing for some time now.
So, without further ado, I present prompt one: Beginnings.
Rufus Downing was walking to his flat after the movie. The evenings were getting cool; Fall would come soon. He liked Fall and the changing leaves and the promise of peaceful winter. He liked peace and quiet. Rufus always tried to solve every problem peacefully, never doing anything that might make him upset. He tended to let the little things in life just drift by him.
So now, as the men who had been following him since the cinema began to taunt him, he ignored them and continued toward home. He wouldn’t call himself a pacifist; he was more like a preventist. He practiced a philosophy that kept him, and others, out of trouble.
Rufus sometimes pretended that he wasn’t even where he was or who he was. He was just some formless specter floating above the scene, watching what was going on but not participating. Anyone could say anything to him and he wouldn’t even blink. And he had heard some terrible things, had horrible insults thrown at him. And he would simply shrug them off and keep going.
But everyone has a breaking point. Everyone has that one thing that sends them over the edge. Rufus had just heard his.
Rufus stopped. The ringleader, a burly teen, nodded to his cohorts.
“Did ya say what I think ya said?” Rufus kept his voice level, calm, and quiet. It made what was to follow all the more impressive.
“Yeah, ginger. You ‘eard me, ginger.” The burly teen and his little gang walked up behind Rufus. They figured they had found the perfect punching bag. After all, Rufus was on the lean side and was some years older than they were. They thought they had found someone who could easily be beaten.
“That’s what I thought.”
They were, of course, dead wrong.
Reports initially stated that a wild animal had been spotted and had savaged some local teens. A couple who had been walking toward the nearby cinema heard snarling and claimed to have seen “a great red beast” attack the teens in question. The youths who had been attacked were admitted to the local hospital with “severe lacerations to the face, neck, chest, and arms.” Reports also stated that the teens were hysterical and screaming of monsters.
Rufus chuckled softly at the news report on the TV. He was in the pub, sipping on coffee that was a bit too strong for his liking, but he had a bad taste in his mouth and needed something to overpower it. He laughed again; the news always over exaggerated incidents like these. He had barely scratched the others and had nibbled only slightly on the offending ringleader.
He didn’t like violence. But he really couldn’t stand young thugs who used people’s hair color as an insult.
“You think this is funny, do you?” A large, gruff man at the counter had turned and was looking right at Rufus. Although the man was smiling, a chill ran down Rufus’ spine and the hairs on his neck bristled.
“Yeah, I do.” Rufus gulped down the rest of his coffee. “Just some dumb kids who ran afoul of someone’s pet; didn’t want anyone to know they was roughed up by a little terrier and invented a story about a beast.” He got up to leave and found his way blocked by the stranger.
“Nice little story you’ve got there. But you and I both know that ain’t what ‘appened.” The man sat down across from Rufus and motioned for him to sit. Rufus was genuinely worried. This man, this imposing man knew something and he was not afraid. “Now, I’ve been wonderin’ what could ‘ave set off a seemingly ‘armless bloke like you. From what I can tell, you seem to be nice chap, well mannered, peaceable. Then suddenly, bam! You turn an’ nearly take that poor kids ‘ead off.”
“You must be mistaken.” Rufus knew it was a stupid thing to say, but he felt he had to say something to contradict the grinning man across from him.
“No, I ain’t. ‘Cause I was watching you when it ‘appened.” The man pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He took a long drag and blew the smoke out slowly. “What a surprise to be walkin’ down the road and see an ‘onest to God werewolf right in front of me.”
Rufus could feel all his muscles tense. He found himself looking for a quick escape route, should things get ugly. If he was quick, he could change and get away from this menacing man.
“And ‘ere I was, thinking I was the only farkin’ werewolf in the ‘ole country.” Rufus was stunned at the stranger’s blatant admission. Even though most people knew that lycanthropy was just another form of physical magic, it was still so rare that a certain amount of fear was attached to the ability.
“You’re a werewolf?” Rufus had to make sure he wasn’t hearing things.
“Yeah.” Upon seeing the expression on Rufus’ face, the man laughed and shook his head. “Oh, man. I din’t think I’d scare you that much.” He put out his cigarette. “My deepest apologies; I just got a bit carried away. You see, I’ve been looking for other shape shifters, particularly werewolves.”
“Why? If this is for some game show or circus, you needn’t say any more.” Rufus had had such offers before.
“No, man. It’s nothin’ like that. Listen, my name is Rex Weatherford,” he paused and leaned across the table, “and I have a proposition for you.”
I shouldn't have to say this, but I will anyway. Don't steal. Baby seals die when you steal other people's work.