's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Butts McGee

Detective Laura Christine Merriweather slid a miniature bottle of store brand sports drink to the college kid across the table with one hand and set down a small digital voice recorder with the other. "Thanks, ma'am," the kid said, uncapping the bottle and taking a long swig of the unnaturally blue liquid. The boy was clean-cut, polite, and had an entirely out of place Midwest accent. Well, perhaps not too out of place, since for one weekend each July, people congregated downtown for an annual convention.

Merriweather slid into the seat opposite him, and laid her hand on the recorder so that she had easy access to the start and stop buttons. "Starting with your name, and any aliases, please describe what happened at the Convention Center."

"My name is Timothy Gardner. Online I go by Timothy Hay, or hayisforhorses." The latter he said together as though it was all one word. "That's my uh... web handle on furry sites." He looked a bit embarrassed. "I don't draw, but some of my friends do, and it's easiest to keep track of their art by using those sites." Timothy slumped in his chair. "I hope they're okay."

The detective gestured for him to get back to telling his story.

"Anyway, I'm here from out of state. This convention is the only chance I get to see my Internet friends in person, so I come for the whole weekend every year.

"And sure, there's some rude folks in the crowd, but nobody causes serious trouble. Never anything like this. "Things started off normal, of course. My buddy Sunshine Puppy from California and I met up at the overflow hotel Thursday night. We ordered pizza, caught up with each other.

"Friday was the same. Sunny and I were enjoying the con, looking around the Dealers'Den and thinking about what we wanted to buy. As the day went on, we noticed this weird guy. And by weird, I mean weird in a bad way. A way that makes you nervous. Not like the harmless weirdos just having fun," he laughed, briefly, "that'd be most of the people here. No, this guy was seriously bad news.

"He was this grungy, grubby dude, with long matted, ratty hair that looked like it hadn't been washed in a decade. I know some nerds don't have great hygiene, but this went beyond that. Like there were years of dirt and stains on his jeans and t-shirt. And the way he staggered around the place was just... unnerving. Sunny saw him too, and we talked about him later. Figured maybe he was on a ton of drugs. Sunny told me he didn't see a badge on him either - guy was ghosting."

Merriweather stopped him. "Ghosting?"

"Yeah, sorry, that's when you sneak in the convention without paying. Not sure how he got in the Dealers'area without any badge, but whatever, this dude was bad news and you could spot it from a mile away.

"So we go to con ops in the morning and let them know about the creepy guy. They say they'll inform their staff and the convention center security, so Sunny and I relax and kinda forget about him and hang out with more friends. Nothing else really happened on Friday, except some idiots decided to howl at the moon around midnight and woke us up.

"Saturday, we're walking to the convention center, and we see police cars in an alley. Sunny wants to investigate, so he goes to talk to the nearest cop. He comes back looking pale, and tells me a homeless person was found pretty much eviscerated by some sort of animal. So that's disturbing. But we figure, hey, there's plenty of guards around, so we're not that scared.

"Just when I was starting to let my guard back down, we see him. The guy. And he's looking... I don't know how to explain it, but he has this hungry look about him. He's stalking along, toward the convention center. But security, they're looking out for him, right?

"But we're not that certain, so we tail him. The guy hobbles into the convention center, and we try to play it casual like we're not watching him. He heads in and to the Dealers'Den, and this time the convention center security guard stops him. They stop him, and he fucking snarls at them. Like he's taking the funny animal thing way too seriously.

"Sunny and I look at each other, then dart off toward the stairwell. 'I know this sounds crazy,'he says, 'but I swear to God we're dealing with some supernatural shit here.'

"It did sound crazy. But I don't know, maybe it was being surrounded by psychedelic animal costumes, maybe it was me wanting to believe, but I was giving the idea the benefit of the doubt. We stood there quietly for a minute, until we heard a scream.

"Rushing back toward the Dealers'room entrance, and the source of the noise, we see the creepy guy hustling to the exit, and the security guard on her walkie talkie, describing him to the people on the other end of the line. That's when Sunny elbows me.

"He's got his phone out, and he points to the screen. 'Check it out,'he says. 'the convention falls on a full moon.'

"I'm totally lost, but Sunny, he's a man on a mission. He tells me he's gotta get us some protection, and heads off into the Dealers'room alone. When he comes back, he's holding a paper bag almost reverently.

"I don't even need to ask what he bought, since as soon as he's within speaking range he pulls out two of these tacky little sword-shaped letter openers from the booth hawking cheap katanas and dragon figurines. 'They're sterling silver plated,'he says sagely and hands me one. 'It's the closest I could get to a weapon and still have it contain silver.'

"I'm dumbfounded he actually believes there's something supernatural going down enough to blow money on this garbage, but I decide to be sporting and tell him that if we are, in fact, dealing with the otherworldly, I'll pay him back the cost of the letter opener. He says it sounds fair, so I pocket the letter opener and try to think about other things.

"We realize it's almost time to meet our buddy Harriet the Hamster for lunch, so we head out. But she never shows up, never calls or texts. And she seemed really excited to meet up last time I talked to her. Eventually we shrug it off and order. It's not like her at all, but maybe she's sick and lost her phone.

"Back at the convention, we keep overhearing people talking about friends not showing up for plans. Weird, but whatever. People can be flaky, and it definitely supports my 'maybe people are getting sick with something' theory.

"Sunny and I go to a panel about preforming in fursuit, and the presenter never shows up. Which is even weirder. We go to con ops again, and they mention people have been complaining of missing staff and panelists.

"So we head back to the hotel. 'Okay, seriously, Tim, something fucked up is going on,' Sunny says.

"I tell him it could just as easily be a really vicious strain of stomach flu. In fact, even more likely than his ideas that it's some kind of monster.

"'Tim, I know you don't want to believe, but I think that creepy old guy is a werewolf.' As if to prove a point, we hear a howl down on the street outside. I tell him people howl at these conventions all the time, it comes with the territory of pretending to be a walking, talking wolf. He shrugs and drops it, and we watch TV for a bit.

"Anyway. It's a little after eight o'clock when one of my friends texts me: 'Get down to the convention center, you've got to see this suiter before they leave!' "The dance is starting in an hour so we decide, what the heck, and head down early to see this allegedly incredible costume. So we head up to the main ballroom entrance, and spot it immediately: a beautifully realistic werewolf suit with folks flocking to the area to get a better look and take photos. The suiter is snapping and growling at the growing throng of people with its incredibly convincing animatronic face. As I watch the performance, I start to notice that I can't see seams. What I can see is muscle and sinew twitch and ripple under mangy fur.

"Everything is so realistic, that it's too realistic. I grab the letter opener in my pocket just as the fursuiter lunges at one of the spectators. It goes for the throat, sinking its teeth in and violently shaking the poor soul side to side. The beast is ripping and tearing this person apart, and people aren't running. They're applauding. Like it's some elaborate act put on by congoers." Merriweather gave Timothy a nonplussed look, but let him continue uninterrupted.

"Sunny and I, we start screaming at them to get away. Trying to get these people to run before they get mauled. And they laugh. Like we're in on this as well. So Sunny yells, 'For fuck's sake, run before it kills you!' Which they still think is a joke.

"The beast lets out this awful gutteral howl, and strikes out with its claws at the people closest to it. They all gasp and scream in shock as they start bleeding. One person in a fursuit is absolutely mangled. They're definitely a goner, but the others didn't get it quite so bad. People actually started to get the idea, then. I start to run away with them, but Sunny damn near clotheslines me with his arm.

"'No, Tim, we're the only ones who can stop this thing.' I'm standing there, boggling at him, thinking he's absolutely lost it. But then I see the letter opener in his hand, and realize I've still got a death grip on its counterpart in my pocket.

"Sunny starts screaming at the top of his lungs, and it actually manages to make the monster stop and look around in confusion. I take note and run around to its other side, and start shouting at the thing as well. So now it's craning around, trying to get a read on what all this noise is, and Sunny just takes that stupid letter opener, and just slams the pointiest part down into its shoulder as hard as he can.

"It screeches, and there's a stream of horrible black smoke coming from around the knife. Smells like burning hair and melted plastic. Sunny is at an angle where he's safe from its jaws, but the thing kicks with its hind leg as hard as it can and leaves gashes in his leg.

"I'm not brave, but like hell would I leave one of my best friends to get kicked to death by a werewolf - so I charge in too, and try to stab it like Sunny did, but I'm not as strong. All I gave it was a blister.

"It rounds on me, and I saw the hunger glowing in its eyes. That's not a metaphor, by the way, its eyes honest to god glowed. And its mouth was frothing like it had rabies. I back up fast, and you know what happened then?

"I tripped. Over that dead fursuiter. The beast was pretty much on me at that point - I could smell its rotten breath and nasty fur - and I had this stupid, desparate thought just before it went for the kill.

"So the fursuiter it had shredded to ribbons? I grab the head. The fake animal one, I mean. I take the head and just shove it as hard as I can at the werewolf's face as it's lunging in to bite me. Somehow, its face is stuck, and I take that as my opportunity to jam my letter opener into its eye with all my strength. The crappy knife sticks in there deep, and there's blood and that nasty smoke coming out of the hole and I can feel the gelatinous surface of the werewolf's eyeball on my hand.

"It yowls and staggers and Sunny keeps driving his letter opener through its flea-bitten hide. The skin around the wounds is swelling up, like a mosquito bite. No, like a hive. Like it's having an allergic reaction to the silver. By this time it's flailing its arms and freaking out, it's in pain, and its mouth is still stuck in that cartoony dog head.

"I think about stabbing its other eye, but I'm just barely keeping out of harm's way as it is. If I reach over, it could easily catch my arm in its claws. So I do something else desparate - I pull out the letter opener, and I pry open the corner of the werewolf's mouth. Immediately I'm hit by a blast of rotting meat breath and I cram and knife into its mouth.

"And the werewolf makes this choking sound and rears up high, tries to hack up the letter opener but can't - then it crashes backwards, throwing Sunny across the room, and lies there, hacking and gasping like a dying fish. "Sunny gets up and comes over to stand by me, watching the beast. As it continues to wheeze its last breaths, my mind makes this connection. 'It's kinda like anaphalactic shock.'

"We keep standing watch, and as the thing chokes out one last death rattle, it changes right in front of us, so when the cops and paramedics arrive, it's just that creepy dirty guy from the past few days lying there with his face all discolored and full of hives. "And that's where the officer who brought me to the station for questioning found me."

Timothy folded his hands and looked somewhere between proud and sheepish. Detective Merriweather shut off the recorder.

"Thank you, Mister Gardner," she said, though her voice carried a note of frustration. She dismissed him, and called for the next eyewitness.

If the kid's story was even slightly true, more bodies would be turning up. Hopefully, he just had an overactive imagination and only saw a deranged killer in a dog costume. Either way, this marked the beginning of a difficult investigation. "Fucking furries," she grumbled through her teeth.

It was going to be a long night.