As promised, the free story!
This is currently available in a great anthology entitled HORROR HEROES. Monsters as the good guys, how cool is that?? This story will be up for the next week and as soon as I can I will have a digital PDF available.
It is currently available at AMAZON or click HERE.
THE INVISIBLE WOLF-MAN
By Richard Evans
There was only a split second to react and Larry Griffin took it, throwing himself from the second story window. He landed on a pile of curtains and broken glass and shaking it off he bolted down the driveway. Looking over his shoulder he saw the two goons that were after him squeezed together in the window frame; he gave them a friendly wave as he pulled on his jeans. They took out their guns but he did not appear again, Larry was gone behind the fence that lined the property.
Every step on the stone sidewalk forced him to grit his teeth in frustration. The tiny stones, garbage and glass that littered the streets of New York was something he could never get used to. Like tiny meteors, each rock burned into the thick layer of skin he’d developed over the years. There was nothing he hated more than being barefoot in the city. It was only sixteen blocks to his lab and he really wished he’d taken a second more to grab his shoes before diving head first out the window.
Going to see his ex-wife was had been a huge mistake. He should have known Mr. Loogosi would send his men there; Larry chastised himself for his stupidity. Mr. Loogosi’s men were all over the city and it had been a very dumb move, possibly even a suicidal move, if he didn’t put some distance between himself and the two armed thugs on his tail. All he had on now the pair of jeans he’d grabbed as he’d jumped but that was only good enough to keep him from being arrested. He needed to find a way to blend in, his chalk white skin made him stand out like a beacon.
Larry managed to get five blocks before he ran into someone he knew. They were prostitutes taking a break in a nicer part of town, away from their customer base. They sat on the patio of Starbucks with extra large coffee’s; three gaudily dressed tarts surrounded by secretaries and hipsters, munching sweets after a long night of work.
“GRIFFIN! Hey man!” said Rose, the ginger-haired senior of the three, pushing all of 32.
Larry glanced across the street, wondering if he could dodge them. If he did though, Rose might take offense and if anyone came by asking, she’d tell them exactly which way he’d gone. He decided it was easier to be friendly and catch his breath. The third girl was a stranger, a dark-skinned beauty he’d never met before, so he hopped the patio railing and sat down next to her.
“Lovely ladies!” Griffin said, hugging Rose.
“What choo doin’ runnin’ around wit’ no clothes on?” snarled Marla, a gap-toothed blonde who’s grasp of English seemed to get worse with each trick.
“I was, quite literally, caught by an angry husband with my pants down!” Larry said, grinning wide.
“You’ve got to learn to keep your hands out of other men’s honey pots,” the dark-skinned beauty said, leaning close to him. Larry realized he had met her before but he could not remember her name. He leaned closer to her and she began to run a long finger nail up and down his arm.
“Technically it was my honey pot first, although when we were together she was more like a swarm of angry bees, eh Rose?”
As Rose nodded Larry reached over to the table next to him and grabbed the forgotten cup of coffee sitting there. It was still warm as he took the lid off and looked inside.
“She still is, Larry.” Rose replied.
“Well you are right there, Rose. But you know how men get, right? I mean your livelihood depends on it.” Larry said, drinking back his newly claimed coffee. The women merely nodded in agreement as the black lady continued to smile and stroke his arm. There were scars, fresh and new and she rubbed them with her thumb.
“What happened Larry? These look new,” the black woman asked. She smiled up at him as he looked down at his arm.
“He’s not a john, Nigeria. Leave him alone.” Rose said, swatting at her friend.
“Nigeria! Right, well love that right there is my karmic reward. I went back to merry old England to do a favor and ended up being used as a chew toy for some wild beasties.”
“Whoah.” Nigeria breathed.
“Yeah, ripped me to shreds. I was bandaged head to toe, no kidding.” Larry said, showing Nigeria the scars on his chest that had almost faded away.
“Luckily I heal pretty quick. Take my word for it Nigeria, you can never go home again. Not even to Africa.”
“Oh I’m not from Africa.” Nigeria said, leaning back.
“Where are you from, with a name like that?” Larry asked, leaning in close to her.
“I’m from Detroit,” she said plainly.
“Well Nigeria from Detroit, do you think you could do me a huge favor, a special request from an Englishman from England?”
“Whatever you want. Just ask and I’m all yours.” Nigeria replied. She breathed the words onto his lips and pressed herself against him. Larry could smell the fruit scented skin lotion she used, strong and powerful.
“Do you think I could have your t-shirt? This sun is cooking my pasty white skin out here.”
Disappointed, Nigeria looked at the other girls, Rose just smiled and shrugged. Finally she relented and pulled the shirt up over her head and handed it to him. She wore only a black skirt, pink bra and black heels. Two businessmen leaving the Starbucks gave her long, lustful glances.
Larry pulled the tight t-shirt on and gave Nigeria a kiss on the cheek.
“I’ll pay you back, I swear.” Larry said, jumping to his feet.
Nigeria gave him a sarcastic nod, the kind only black women could give effectively, and he saluted her. Then he hopped over the railing again.
“It was a pleasure seeing you ladies again.”
Rose waved him over and gave him another hug.
“Bye Larry. Stay out of trouble.”
Even though he had a slim figure the shirt was too tight on him and he fidgeted to get it to fit properly. It did smell nice though.
“I’ve got your back Nigeria.” He said and this time she smiled. He turned and took off down the street, awkwardly avoiding obstacles on the sidewalk only he could see.
“He certainly is a good looking man.” Nigeria said as he disappeared down the block.
“Yes he is. But take my word for it, he’s got a bad habit of disappearing.” Rose said.
It took two more blocks before Larry found a pair of shoes. They were Crocs and barely fit his definition of shoes, but it was either that or fish a dirty old pair of the overhead telephone lines. The Crocs were sitting in a bin outside a dollar store and no one even noticed him snatch them up as he ran by and he was relieved to put a buffer between his feet and the hot concrete. Bare feet were simply intolerable to him and his greatest weakness. It was even more frustrating because his greatest scientific experiment required him to be in bare feet quite frequently.
Over the years he’d tried everything to make his formula work on inanimate objects but every attempt failed. Any useful application for the formula would require the subject to wear shoes. If Larry could overcome that obstacle, he could find serious financial backing instead of dealing with criminals like Mr. Loogosi. Even when he failed military and corporate contracts just swallowed the losses, the worst they would do was blacklist him from the scientific community. People like Mr. Loogosi took everything personally and he knew his life was going to be difficult until the situation was resolved.
It was only bad luck that had put Larry in deep trouble. The formula worked, he’d been using it for years. Larry always carried it with him wherever he went, especially when he traveled overseas. Being prepared meant he was ready for the unexpected, but he never would have expected to be attacked by wild animals. One minute he is walking through the park, the next he is being torn apart by teeth and claws. His briefcase was lost in the attack and with it his entire inventory. He’d spent two weeks in the hospital, sick with fever and infection and wrapped in bandages. His wounds had healed very well, exceptionally well according to the doctor and he was eventually released.
The first thing Larry did when he got out of the hospital was return to the place where he’d been attacked in search of his briefcase. He’d found it right away but nothing was left of it, it was torn to shreds and spread across the park. The vials were smashed and their contents long since evaporated. There were only three unaccounted for; two of which he found underneath a bush. A news article about a homeless man suddenly appearing in the street naked before being run down by a delivery truck gave an explanation as to what happened to the third. When he returned to New York Mr. Loogosi was not pleased. After Larry explained how much it would cost to make a second batch, Mr. Loogosi was downright murderous. Larry ended up using those last two vials to escape and stay alive, he’d even stayed away from his lab so that they would not discover it. The last thing he wanted was for Mr. Loogosi to figure out how easy and cheap he could make his formula; he had no moral problem with selling it but if he was going to trade his families legacy for cash, it had to be a lot of cash. The chances of anyone else duplicating it was slim to none, it had taken three generations of Griffin men to perfect it. The lab and the formula in his head was all he had left, if he lost either of those his chances of survival would drop from slim to none.
Larry had just gotten the last bits of glass out of his hair when reached the building that held his laboratory. Crouching behind a big green dumpster he looked around nervously. There was no one around but something made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. It felt as if someone were watching him but there was no one around, not even in the windows above the back alley. The lab was above a Chinese food restaurant and could only be accessed by a black steel door locked with a secret number code. Larry’s grandfather had bought the place as soon as his family set foot in New York and he’d rented out the bottom floor to a Chinese family they’d met on the boat over from London. Three generations of Griffin’s and Chow’s had worked together inside, each covering for the other when police or immigration came around. It had proven to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, even though the young Chow did not take over the family business and instead went off to college. Larry intended for him to have the property one day, perhaps when he retired, so that they would no longer be paying rent on a restaurant they could have bought outright years ago. One of the families cousins ran the restaurant with the help of the older two Chow parents and he ignored Larry as he threw out the trash. Once he’d gone back inside Larry ran over and entered the passcode, throwing himself inside as soon as the lock clicked open. He breathed a sigh of relief and headed upstairs.
Opening the inside door he immediately caught a scent of something foul. The lab always had a strong scent of chemicals, as well as the lingering scents of Asian food from downstairs, but there was a new smell, one strong enough to push aside the others and overwhelm him. Flicking the light switch on, every appeared to be in order. The door to the office down the hall was open but he ignored it, figuring he’d left it open. Wandering around the lab, he sniffed at the beakers and cabinets of chemicals trying to find the odour.
As he searched he found an old vial of his formula left in the bottom of a beaker. He poured it into two smaller vials and he relaxed slightly. With it in his possession he felt a little more relaxed. The smell was heavy and metallic like blood and death and Larry began to wonder if something had gotten caught in the walls and died. For several minutes he tapped on the walls, looking for the source of the smell. The lab was sealed but it was possible that some poor raccoon or other rodent of a large enough size had tried to get in and got stuck halfway. After searching all four corners of the lab he headed for the office. As soon as he stepped inside he realized his horrible error; the smell was coming from a man and that man was Mr. Loogosi. It was too late to run, they’d seen in each other. Mr. Loogosi sat at Larry’s desk, mouth curled up in a sneer, fingernails tapping on the wooden top.
“Frustrating, isn’t it?” Mr. Loogosi said, leaning forward in Larry’s chair. “To search for something you cannot find?”
Larry could only stand in the doorway, frozen light a deer caught in a train’s headlight.
“How. . . how did you get in here?” Larry asked.
“I have my secrets too, Mr. Griffin.” Mr. Loogosi smiled and the grin that spread across his face was too long and too wide to seem natural. His exposed teeth were thin, pointed and white as pearls. It made him look like a skinny human shark and the smell of blood that emanated off of him only reinforced that image.
“We had an agreement, you and I.” Mr. Loogosi said, standing up to his full height. He towered at least a foot over Larry and Larry stepped back nervously. As he came around the desk he dragged his nails across it, digging up thin layers of wood that peeled away as he got closer. Up close the smell was even stronger, Larry didn’t know how he could have missed the rotting stench the last time they met, but it was powerful and awful. It was if beneath his black petticoat he was wearing rotting meat, or was rotten himself.
“Look I’ll pay you back the money once I get my shit together here.” Larry stammered, putting his hands up between himself and Mr. Loogosi.
“I’ve learned over the long years how important it is to read a man,” Mr. Loogosi said. “To know where someone has come from. To see what kind of man they can become, what the future has in store for them.” Before Larry could move Mr. Loogosi grabbed him by the throat, his long boney fingers wrapped completely around Larry’s neck.
“You, Larry Griffin, have no future. You will never be anything more than the vapid, hollow man you are now. To put it in your own vernacular, YOU WILL NEVER GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.” Mr. Loogosi lifted Larry off the ground, hissing the words into his face.
“Will you?” Mr. Loogosi asked, turning his askew. The black eyes stared through Larry and he began to struggle. The stench coming from the large man’s breath made Larry retch, it was unbearable.
Larry held up one of the vials he’d just filled in front of Mr. Loogosi’s face.
“Look I’ll give you this, alright? Okay? My last one.”
Mr. Loogosi dropped Larry to the floor hard, snatching the vial out of his hand before he could catch his balance. He held it up with noticeable greed and evil intent.
“Once you try it, once you feel it in you, you will see just how valuable it is. The price you’ve paid so far is nothing compared to the power this will give you.” Larry said smoothly. Mr. Loogosi’s slim fingers twitched with anticipation as he popped the tiny stopper out of the vial. As Mr. Loogosi poured the liquid into his mouth, Larry quickly turned his head away and chugged back his second vial. Mr. Loogosi was letting every drop of the bright blue liquid drip onto his tongue, licking his lips hungrily. The minute the liquid hit his bloodstream Larry felt the old familiar tingle. Mr. Loogosi on the other hand, screamed in pain, dropping the empty vial to the floor.
“Sorry mate.” Larry said as he began to undress. “The first time is the hardest, it hurts like hell, let me tell you. Well, you’ll see for yourself.”
Mr. Loogosi lunged at Larry but he quickly stepped aside, kicking his pants away as Mr. Loogosi fell writhing to the floor.
“The electromagnetic charge in your cells is changing frequency, allowing the cells to absorb ALL incoming light and change it into a frequency undetectable to the human eye. The very acids and proteins that make up your body, that form your DNA, is being changed into something unlike anything else on the planet. It’s quite a gift I’ve given you, Mr. Loogosi.” Larry said.
Mr. Loogosi’s skin began to fade in and out of visibility, revealing the skeleton underneath. He roared and thrashed, smashing into one of the work tables.
“Just wait until your eyes go, mate. It’s even worse.” Larry chuckled and removed the last bit of his clothing, the Crocs.
As Mr. Loogosi screamed he smashed a stack of glass vials. His hands disappeared but they were cut badly and he flung the blood around the lab in his rage.
“I’LL KILL YOU! I’ll KILL YOU!” Mr. Loogosi screamed, tearing at his invisible face. He fell backwards on another table and seemed to suffer an intense seizure all over as his body appeared and disappeared.
Larry stood nearby as blue light filled his brain. Once the change was complete, as he became completely invisible, the world took on a hue of different blue shades. The blue effect took time to get used to but Larry had years of experience with the formula and he knew what to expect. When the formula had run its course through his body the blue effect would fade. When the blue began to fade back to normal, Larry knew he was becoming visible, it was a very useful side effect. Larry wasn’t sure how much time such an old batch of the serum would give him but he knew it was going to be at least a few hours. Two hours minimum that Mr. Loogosi would be incapacitated and he would be free and invisible. Two long, painful hours that. Mr. Loogosi would writhe in pain.
“Well it’s been a pleasure doing business with you.” Larry said as he headed for the exit. He did not see Mr. Loogosi as he left, but he heard his final screams as he made his way down the stairs and out the metal door.
“I’LL TEAR OUT YOUR HEART GRIFFIN!”
Larry knew he had to get out of New York. He would never be safe with Mr. Loogosi after him, but more than that he was tired of running around naked and freezing his junk off. It was a terrible city to run around barefoot and once again he was doing it. He’d trade everything he had in the world for a pair of invisible shoes, he was fed up with his feet suffering for his adventures.
Larry hopped on the subway and rode the train to the far end of Brooklyn where he’d always had good luck finding people to assist him. For some reason, pretty much since his stay in the hospital, his senses had been working on overdrive. At first he thought it might be some kind of brain damage caused by the serum but it wasn’t just happening when he was invisible, he was hearing and smelling things in a way he’d never experienced before. The formula was safe, his father had perfected it, so whatever was happening to him was not due to the serum, or at least not on the surface. Something had changed in him however, he could feel it but he was not going to fight it. Whatever it was, it made him feel better than he had in years. He wondered if his brush with death had simply given a new outlook on life and until another theory presented itself, he would stick with that one. Being invisible made him feel unstoppable now.
Time on the other hand, was working against him. The formula would not let him remain invisible long enough to make a flight back to London, the only place he could safely make a new batch. If he suddenly appeared on a packed airplane thirty thousand feet in the air, naked and without identification, he’d be in an even worse predicament. So he would have to come up with another plan, one that would involve strangers and an old friend.
Larry walked around the alleys and corners of Brooklyn until he smelled marijuana burning. Following the scent he found two men, a large black man in a puffy black vest and a smaller, skinnier bald white man wearing a white hooded sweater. They were young but tough, scarred from street battles but they seemed reasonable and intelligent from their conversation. The white guy played with his gold chain as he handed a large cigar stuffed with pot to his partner but Larry intercepted it.
“What’s up boys. Don’t panic, alright? I need your help.” Larry said, puffing on the blunt. As he inhaled the smoke clung to him, wrapping around his face and mouth.
“What the fuck?” the white man asked.
“You two look like open-minded potential crooks. I need assistance. I’ll make it worth your while.” Larry exhaled and the smoke could be seen twirling inside his lungs. There was a flash of pink as his lungs absorbed the smoke and then disappeared. The white man’s eyes grew wide but the black man seemed to take it all in stride, taking the blunt from Larry’s invisible fingers when it floated over to him.
“Stealing money is a risky venture. Being invisible, I’d gather a crowd if they suddenly saw bags of money marching down the street.”
“What do you want from us?” the black man asked.
“Simply a pair of hands to carry the money home. After that we split it evenly.” Larry replied.
“What if he’s a cop?” the white man asked, taking his turn with the marijuana. The alley was filling with a cloud of smoke and it made a transparent outline around Larry’s body.
“If he was an invisible cop, my black ass would be gettin’ beat right now Connor.”
“Right Connor. Listen to your boy here. What’s your name?” Larry asked.
“Will,” the black man said. Larry reached out and shook his hand.
“Right Will. Well tell Connor to pass that and I’ll tell you what we need to do.”
Everything went smoothly and soon all three men; Larry, Will and Connor, were splitting over sixty thousand dollars. Larry had found an armored car and while the doors were open he walked off with two bags of cash. The other two men, waited inside the doorway of a nearby McDonalds and when the door opened for them, they dropped Larry’s money bags into their backpacks and walked out of the restaurant and back to Will’s apartment. Everything happened so fast and there were so many people around that no one could really explain what had happened nor was anyone paying attention.
Will gave Larry clothes to wear when the invisibility wore off and he now sat in a pair of red jeans, red t-shirt and backwards red baseball cap while he counted out the money. Will and Connor ate cheeseburgers and when he handed them their money they shoved it into their pocket with their free hand.
“Will, Connor, it’s been a blast.” Larry said, standing and saluting the two men. “But I’ve got a long trip ahead of me.” They each gave him a fist bump and continued eating their food.
“Remember, the money could be marked. So buy drugs or guns or something with it, alright? Cheers.” Larry waved goodbye to them from the doorway.
After he’d gone, Will wiped the corner of his mouth.
“I fucking love New York.” Will said, grinning.
Dressed in his fresh new hip-hop style clothes, Larry felt safe and confident when he walked into his lawyer’s office. Saul Goldstein was not just a lawyer; his shady connections meant he could do a lot of things, including getting Larry out of the country as quickly as possible. Saul however looked horrified when he realized it was Larry sitting down at across from him.
“Larry!?” Saul said, looking over his reading glasses that hung from the tip of his nose. Beads of sweat broke out over his balding forehead.
“What’s wrong Saul? You don’t seem happy to see me.” Larry said, flopping down in the comfortable leather chair. Taking the rolls of money out of his pocket, he placed them on the desk in front of Saul. The man’s whole demeanor changed at the sight of the cash and Saul adjusted his glasses and smiled.
“You know Mr. Loogosi has put a marker on you, right?” Saul said.
“Really? How much am I worth?”
“A lot more than this.” Saul replied. His eyes did not move from the money.
“All I need is a ticket to London. Get me on a plane out of New York, now, and all this is yours.” Saul did not even wait for Larry to finish speaking before he swept the money into the top drawer of his desk.
“You still owe me for medical expenses incurred on your last trip to England.” Saul said.
“Right, well that disaster is what put me in this mess in the first place.” Larry replied. He looked up at the roof, listening carefully. Something was pacing above him, a dog perhaps, scratching at the door, its nails clicking on the tiles.
“I’ll square it up with you, Saul. I always do.”
“If you live long enough, you almost died last time Larry. Now you’ve got this monster Loogosi after you.”
“Come on, Saul. How much bad luck can one man have? Just get me out of New York so I can get space to maneuver. I’ll make it right.”
“Fine,” said Saul, wiping the sweat off his forehead. “But Mr. Loogosi is not going to give up. He’s a very evil old man with a very long reach.”
Larry didn’t hear what Saul said, the noise from upstairs was distracting and loud.
“There’s a trip to Israel that leaves today. About twenty high school students and some adult volunteers. They have a stop over in London for the weekend. Be at the airport and I’ll have the correct paperwork for you. Larry you listening?” Saul looked up at the ceiling to see what Larry apparently was seeing.
“What the hell is that dog doing up there?” Larry said angrily.
“That apartments empty Larry. No one lives there.”
“Well what the hell is stomping and clawing around up there then? With the nails on the floor?”
“Nothing’s up there Larry. It’s been locked up for years.”
Larry shrugged and got to his feet. He glanced one more time at the ceiling and then ignored it.
“You don’t hear that?” Larry asked, pointing up.
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Right. Well then, see you at the airport Saul.”
“Larry, dress like a high school counselor, not a gangster rapper.”
Larry looked down at his clothes and then, smiling, waved a finger at Saul.
“Good call Saul. See you later.” Larry leaned over and shook Saul’s hand. As soon as Larry left the office Saul pulled out a large cigar and headed for the back staircase, stuffing rolls of Larry’s money into his pocket as he went. The staircase led up six floors to the roof exit which was a hatch at the top of a small ladder. Saul climbed the ladder, wheezing heavily from the walk. As he slowly lifted open the hatch he nearly jumped out of his skin when a ragged old dog appeared. He waved it away and the poor scared thing backed off. Pulling his robust body through the hatch he took the cigar from his mouth and spit out blood. He’d bitten his tongue when the dog had surprised him. Someone had left the old animal to die; he could tell it hadn’t been tended to in a while. It was starved and sick and its nails were so long they dug deep into the roof, clicking as the animal ran off to hide. Lighting his cigarette, Saul hoped that Larry Griffin was not going to be the death of him.
Larry caught the flight from Newark to London as Michael Rosenblum, parent volunteer. Nobody really questioned why he was there; they just assumed one of the kids had to be his. He’d been worried about the passport photo, it was apparent the thing had been put together at the last minute. But the woman at the counter was easily distracted by Larry’s smile and swagger. Saul had dropped off the papers, made the introductions and disappeared as if his life depended on it but Larry was glad to see him go. He doubted he’d be using Saul again; he really wasn’t that good of a lawyer or a friend. Wearing a shirt that matched the ones the teenagers wore representing their school, he did his best to entertain them on the flight. Not only did it help with his cover story but he genuinely liked kids. The seven hour flight went through the night and soon everyone was asleep but Larry. The full moon outside the window seemed too bright, too close and his nerves would not calm down. Lying in the chair he stared out the window, his heart beating fast in his chest. He felt restless and claustrophobic and he could not figure out why, he’d taken many flights before in his life including some while invisible. Perhaps it was the old batch of serum he’d taken or maybe he was just getting old, but he could not deny any longer the weird smells and sensations he was experiencing. Something was definitely wrong with him but he knew once he reached England everything would be okay. It could be as simple as stress getting the better of him. Going home was the fresh start he needed; he’d never go back to New York, not if he could help it. Yet every time he did fall asleep his dreams quickly turned into nightmares of flashing teeth and tearing flesh that would slam him awake again. The scars on his body were itching terribly and when the flight touched down in London he was an absolute wreck.
When he caught a cab outside the airport the moon was just fading away in the sky. It had followed him across the ocean and now coming face to face with the rising sun it fled back to where night still took hold. Saul had brought him a bag of clothes, excluding any underwear and he asked the driver to take him a bed and breakfast anywhere in the English countryside. If even he didn’t know where he was headed, how could anyone else possibly find him? The house the cab driver left him at was the kind of place tourists went crazy for; a quaint old fashioned English house with a prim and proper garden and two nice married Christian folks who offered him an affordable room. For the next seven days he slept, ate with his hosts Franklin and Tessa, and entertained the American guests who passed through. He took it easy and let the worries of the last few months slip away. Whatever was wrong with him had passed and by the last day of his stay he was feeling strong again. The air in England was cleaner than New York and it reinvigorated him.
Larry spent the last of his money in a hiking shop in Norfolk. For some reason he had an overwhelming urge to see the English countryside on foot. He had always been a city boy but the solitude and open space suddenly seemed very appealing. Buying a good pair of hiking boots and filling a thick backpack with a number of snacks and water, he said farewell to Franklin and Tessa and began to walk to the last safe house he still owned in Iping, West Sussex. That night he walked under the stars, admiring the moon that was partially hidden and partially illuminated. It was something he could identify with. He slept under the stars, letting the energy of the Earth seep into his skin and bones, down deep into his very soul. The laboratory in Iping had once been a hotel and as he hiked to it he remembered the years he’d spent there with his grandfather. Energized and free he let the memories take him back in time, reminding him of who he was and what his family had accomplished over the years. From his great-grandfather’s tragic demise to his own current problems, it seemed to Larry as if his family was always suffering some form of tragedy or another. Of course his great-grandfather had gone quite mad, but perhaps it was not his fault. Perhaps the serum had driven him over the edge, or perhaps the Griffin family was simply cursed. Grandfather was not much better, but unlike his father he at least knew how to show love and compassion for his offspring. He was never a kind man in his old age but at least when Larry and his cousins went for a visit the old man did his best to make them feel welcome. If Mr. Loogosi was right, if Larry really had no future ahead of him, then preserving his memories of the past was something he had to work hard for. Larry was beginning to accept the fact that up until that point he’d been something of a loser and that he was never really cut out for a life of crime. With that realization Larry quickly had another one; that perhaps it was not too late to turn it all around.
For the next week Larry worked hard in the secret laboratory hidden within the old abandoned Coach & Horses Hotel. With over one hundred and fifty rooms, there was a lot of space available to him and he used it to his advantage, creating the purest batch of invisibility formula he’d ever made. Larry managed to reduce the amount of opium, increase the refractive index and increase the absorption rate in the stomach through more natural, easily digestible chemicals. Once a day he’d head into town for dinner with a take-out bag of extras which he’d eat the next morning. That was the only time during those seven days he allowed himself any distractions, the formula was all that mattered and when he’d finished it, he felt a sense of pride he’d never felt before. The previous batches had always come out a dark blue but this time the formula seemed to radiate its own blue light, shimmering like a dark pond. When held up to the sun it seemed to sparkle like a handful of diamonds. Larry was more than just pleased, he was ecstatic. Celebrating with an 1897 bottle of English wine, Larry kicked back in a large lounge chair in one of the hotel rooms. Classical music played from a small CD player left there by one of his cousins’ years ago. A fire crackled in the hearth and he watched the flames, fresh country air blowing in through the open window. Closing his eyes, he moved his hand along with Tchaikkovsky’s tempo like an amateur conductor. He’d let his stubble grow in and occasionally it would itch, but otherwise he was blissfully content. By the time the song had changed to a Chopin piece he’d fallen asleep with an empty wine glass in his hand. Larry never heard the wood splinter as the crowbar broke the front door, nor did he hear the three men enter the hotel immediately after.
When Larry finally woke up he was on his back in some kind of padded box, staring up at the ceiling. Two large men appeared, standing over him; Italian goons in Italian suits. As he tried to sit up one of the men, the one with a goatee pushed him back down. There was a shuffling somewhere in the room.
“Mr. Loogosi? Is that you?” Larry shouted. “I finished it sir. The serum. It’s all yours, all of it. Take it and we’ll call it a day. What do you say mate?”
“I’ve lived a very long life, Larry.” Mr. Loogosi said, somewhere out of sight. The two goons did not move, they just stood over top of Larry, looking down at him in a way that seemed strangely familiar.
“I have power you could not possibly begin to understand. Your invisibility serum was never for me. It was for my men.”
Larry could hear Mr. Loogosi walking around but he remained just out of view.
“It was meant to be a simple exchange. This for that. The basics of economics, the exchange of cash for goods and services rendered. Yet you, you little eel of a man, had to make it so complex, so difficult, that any joy that I could have derived from our exchange is gone. Any happiness my men would have experienced when they received my gift has been drained away.” The clean shaven man sneered at Larry and he couldn’t help but squirm in the box that seemed to be getting tighter.
“I mean England again, Larry? Really? Your luck here hasn’t been much better than it was in New York. Nor are your laboratories any harder to find.” Larry suddenly smelt the familiar rotting, bloody scent that belonged to Mr. Loogosi and he realized the man was standing above his head out of sight. The smell seemed to cascade down over him and Larry felt nauseous.
“You have nothing to offer Larry.” As Mr. Loogosi slammed his hands down on either side of the box next to Larry’s head, Larry jumped in shock. The hands were transparent, revealing the bones beneath. Mr. Loogosi leaned over, upside down in Larry’s vision, to reveal what Larry had done to him. The invisibility potion had not worked correctly and it had not worn off either. Instead it had turned Mr. Loogosi’s skin and muscle tissue invisible. There was no real system to it; some organs were visible, as was some of the muscle and veins, but it was clear that his skin had become transparent. Mr. Loogosi’s face was now visible to the bone, revealing the large black eyes and sharp mouth of teeth that snapped at Larry in anger.
“Nothing Larry,” Mr. Loogosi shouted, “Nothing to offer but the pleasure of watching you suffer a painful, miserable death!”
The calm, cool composure Larry had always exuded suddenly fell away and he began to scream as the two men lifted the coffin lid up and placed it over the box he lay in. Larry kicked and screamed and pushed at the lid with all his might but the six hundred pounds of muscle pushing down on it made all his attempts futile. As the locks clicked into place his muffled screams could barely even be heard.
When they removed the coffin lid a short time later, his voice was gone and Larry had no more fight left in him. The two men hoisted him out and onto the cold grass like he was a small child. There was a strong smell of gasoline in the air. Mr. Loogosi grabbed Larry under the chin and forced him to look at the Coach & Horses. The clean shaven henchman flicked his lighter and ignited a rolled up newspaper in his other hand. Larry finally saw the pile of gasoline cans piled against the wooden wall of the hotel. The goon looked over at Mr. Loogosi who forced Larry to nod his head. Larry pulled away just as the fire burst into life, starting first at the feet of the big man before racing toward the pile of gas cans. The fire consumed the gas soaked building fairly quickly, with occasional explosions from inside when the chemicals in his lab began to burn. Mr. Loogosi watched Larry with great pleasure but Larry did not move or speak. The tears ran down his face and Mr. Loogosi savored every one. His enemy was broken and although they could not see the skin his men could see Mr. Loogosi was happy. They let Larry watch the last piece of his family history burn for almost an hour and then they lifted him up and put him back into the coffin. Everything Larry had was now gone and Larry knew it was not going to be long before his life was over as well. The two henchman carried the coffin while Mr. Loogosi carried the briefcase containing the last of the invisibility serum. He was so happy he bounced on the heels of his feet.
The coffin was loaded into the cabin of Mr. Loogosi’s private jet. Larry spent the entire trip fading in and out of a semi-conscious state. When the finally arrived back in New York Larry felt rested and alert, a reserve of energy he never knew he had suddenly pumped through him. There was still enough gas left in the tank for one more round. It was if in the back of his mind something was growling, something strong and powerful and deadly.
Larry was taken out of the coffin and placed in a chair by the two goons. They did not tie him up; instead they simply turned and left the room. They were not the same henchmen, somehow they were even bigger than the previous two. Mr. Loogosi removed his overcoat and hung it on a nearby coatrack. The office was all dark wood and contrasted the freakishly dark man sitting behind the mohagany desk, his face a clear mask over misshapen bone and teeth. Larry couldn’t tell what building he was in but he had a great view of the New York skyline, the orange light of the setting sun illuminated the city in a pattern of shadow and light.
“What is this?” Larry asked. “Are you going to kill me right here in your office?”
“No not quite. I’m going to feed on you and then, right before you die, I am going to force you to take your invisibility serum.” Mr. Loogosi dropped the briefcase on his desk and popped the clasps.
“Then I will have my men take you up to the roof and as you fade away, they will throw your body from the roof of my tower.”
The fangs in Mr. Loogosi’s mouth seemed to grow longer, Larry could see the muscles pulling back and the gums retracting. With his face invisible his entire visage was monstrous.
“Well that is very creative Mr. Loogosi. Cheers to that.” Larry said. Suddenly Mr. Loogosi flew across the desk and grabbed Larry by the throat, cocking his head to the side. As his fangs sunk into Larry’s throat Larry watched a spurt of blood spray across the desk. He tried to fight him off but he was too weak and Mr. Loogosi was too strong. Just as Larry let out a scream of pain Mr. Loogosi pulled away, wiping his mouth with the back of his suit sleeve. He turned toward Larry and tore open his shirt. Larry could see his blood pumping down Mr. Loogosi’s throat and into his stomach. A backhand send Larry flying toward the window. He lay on the floor in front of the glass, trying to regain his senses. Mr. Loogosi began coughing, gagging and spitting up blood.
“What trickery is this?? Foul thing!” Mr. Loogosi screamed. The sun had set and as the darkness spread across the horizon Larry got his first glimpse of the moon. It was full and fighting to be seen, edging toward the rising darkness.
Mr. Loogosi kicked him hard in the stomach then lifted him off the ground with one hand by the back of his shirt as if he were a small child.
“Your blood is even more disgusting than your bloated lawyers was. What is wrong with you?” Mr. Loogosi dropped him, not waiting for an answer.
The change began with Larry’s teeth. As he gritted them in pain Larry felt them begin to change, pushing against his gums. As the mouth reshaped itself it began to bleed and he spit blood on the expensive wooden floor. Mr. Loogosi smiled at the pain he believed he had inflicted. When the bones in his legs began to change he let out a bloodcurdling scream and Mr. Loogosi froze in his tracks. The bones in Larry’s legs and hips broke and reshaped themselves, stretching muscle and sinew over the new anatomy arrangement. Larry’s scream began to change into a guttural roar.
“No. No way. This is not possible!” Mr. Loogosi shouted.
Larry raised himself up on his hands and howled. Then the change spread to his arms and they buckled beneath him. He collapsed and fell silent. Mr. Loogosi walked closer tentatively. Hair began to sprout all over Larry’s body, bursting through his torn jeans and t-shirt. The shoes had fallen off and his feet now resembled paws. Like a newborn Larry put all four new paws on the floor and shook off the remaining shreds of his clothes. The last thing that changed was his face as the bones stretched out into a snout and the last remains of pink skin was covered in dark brown hair. The skull popped into its final shape and the wolf looked up at Mr. Loogosi with Larry’s brown eyes now tinted with a supernatural red. It was aware and hungry and did not like the smell of the thing standing in front of it.
Two of Mr. Loogosi’s men burst into the room and opened fire on the wolf but it shook the bullets off like they were fleas, the wounds healing instantly. The two shooters died quickly and in an ugly fashion, their guts spread across the office from a few quick swipes of the wolf’s giant claws. Chunks of meat flew across the office, staining the dark brown wood. Mr. Loogosi backed away toward the far wall but there was no where to go. The wolf was too big, too fast and the man it once was recognized the stinking rotting thing in front of it as its enemy. Two more men burst into the room and Mr. Loogosi saw his opportunity, running between them as the wolf pounced on them. This time the wolf maimed them but did not finish them, it was determined to catch the thing that smelled like death. It had to kill four more men in the staircase before reaching the basement where Mr. Loogosi hid. Locked in, there was nowhere for Mr. Loogosi to go. He turned and screamed at the wolf as it calmly marched down the hallway toward him.
“I’ll see you in hell Larry Griffin!” Mr. Loogosi screamed. The wolf paid him no mind, fun time was over. Wrapping its jaws around his skull, the wolf bit down until it heard the brain crunch. After consuming the head and neck in a couple bites, the big wolf urinated on the body, marking its territory. Unfortunately the wolf could not get out of the building, Larry woke up down the hall from Mr. Loogosi’s office and having years of experience being invisible, he collected enough clothes from the dead to walk out the underground parking just as the first person was calling the authorities to report the murders.
Two months later Nigeria walked down a back alley in Brownsville, trying to earn a few more dollars before calling it a night. After seven hours on her feet, the heels had ruined her heels and walking around the dangerous alley was not an option. There was no one else around and she was sure to look over her shoulder to make sure no one followed her. There was no way she could have known there was a man hiding behind the dumpster so when his partner jumped out in front of her she was not scared. The fear came when she felt the man behind her cover her mouth with his hand and lift her off the ground. The other man grabbed her feet so fast that she knew they had been waiting for someone, probably anyone, and they dragged her down a dead end side alley. Tossing her atop the piles of garbage both men pulled out knives; one a folding pocket knife the other an old steak knife. Instead of trying to get to her feet she scrambled backwards away from the men, climbing awkwardly over the bags of garbage and forgotten furniture. They watched her, smiling, their bodies and hair so dirty that in the dark she could not even tell what race they were. These were not rapists; these men were something else, something just as sick and evil. Finally one of them grabbed her by the hair and dragged her toward him.
“I want the head,” was all he said to his accomplice.
A deep growling noise echoed down the alley and all three of them turned. Something was there, blocking the alley, they could hear it breathing from the shadows. Nigeria pulled away and ran to the far wall.
“Whose there?” said the man who’d grabbed her. A sudden plume of condensation blew toward them as something large and warm exhaled.
“What the hell is this?” said the other man. They walked closer, obviously stoned and unable to comprehend what was going on. As they got close to the end of the alley they waved their hands in the shadow of the building, darker than the rest of the night around them. When the first man pulled his hand back there was no longer a hand at the end of his wrist, there was nothing there at all but a bloody wound. Both of them just stared at the geyser of blood that spurted out until the hand suddenly appeared, dropping on the cement at their feet. Nigeria began to bang on the nearest door but it was sealed tight and she knew no one would answer. She turned around just in time to see the two men explode into pieces. Large strips of meat were stripped from their bodies as long, deep razor-like cuts appeared on their skin. One of the men reached out to her in fear but she watched them with cold hatred. This was the fate they’d had in store for her, after all. The first man was lifted into the air and tossed back and forth before being tossed into the pile of trash bags, broken and dead. The second man sat on his knees, trying to put the contents of his stomach back in before falling over dead. The two men who’d just tried to murder her now lay bloody and broken on the ground like a child’s discarded toys.
Nigeria kept her back to the wall as something kicked the garbage aside and came toward her. She could feel its presence in the alley but she could not see anything at all. As it stepped over the bodies it left two bloody paw prints on the ground, pointing right at her. The paws were at least the size of her head. It was taking in her scent, smelling her. Even though she could not see it she could feel its breath on her face. Closing her eyes she turned away but she could not escape the hard buds of a tongue as it licked her face. Then as quickly as it had appeared it was gone. After a few minutes she was sure it was gone she ran as fast as she could as far away as she could. She kept running until she reached Africa a year later, her old life behind her forever.
Larry Griffin, the invisible werewolf, ran through the streets without fear or doubt. There was nothing now but the night, the air and the thrill of the kill. As his paws tore across the city sidewalks Larry couldn’t help but reflect on how good it felt and how much he enjoyed the feeling of his bare paws on the cool sidewalk.