RAOB Halloween Story 2021

A Howl-O-Ween Story

D. J. Belt

Copyright: Original story and characters D. J. Belt, 2021.

Comments: You can reach me at dbelt@mindspring.com. Don’t be shy. It’s nice to hear from you.

Misc. This was written for the RAOB Halloween story invitational. As with most stories, it began with the idle thought, “What would happen if…?” Here’s the result of my twisted thought processes. I hope you find it entertaining. Happy Halloween!


The forest was taking on that eerie, haunting nature that it was wont to do when darkness fell. It was then that the surroundings seemed to whisper to Ethan, “You’re an intruder here. Get out now, while you still can.” Tree branches silhouetted against the rising full moon augmented the spookiness of the scene, and the noise of the forest at dusk added to the mystery. He recalled that it was also Halloween night. What could possibly go wrong, he wondered, as he contemplated the imposing forest of the national parkland. Even as he laughed off his childish fear of Halloween, his hand rested on the pistol encased in its worn leather holster in front of his left hip. He was never without it when he worked, as the wilderness here was full of critters.

“Get out. Good advice,” Ethan mumbled as he lifted a harness and his tool belt from the bed of his pickup truck. He cinched his work belt about his waist, turned on the headlamp of his hard hat, and donned his harness and work gloves. He had one more job to do tonight. In fifteen minutes, he’d be finished and on his way home.

Five feet away was a communications tower. Twenty-five feet tall, it required a blinking red light atop it as it projected above the crest of a knobby hill, presenting a navigation threat to occasional low-flying aircraft. The light was not working; he deduced a dead bulb. He puzzled for a moment, wondering where he’d left the new bulb. Oh, yeah. He’d left it on the truck seat. He was walking toward the driver’s door when a nearby, ghastly howl froze him in his tracks and caused his blood to run cold.

“What in Hell was that?” he wondered as he looked around. “Whatever it was, it was close.” He powered on the truck’s searchlight and scanned the woods around him. The truck was running, and the headlights and taillights were already on; he left the searchlight on as an added precaution. Nocturnal predators generally don’t like bright light, he recalled. He grabbed the boxed light bulb and focused on getting his last job done. He’d feel a lot better when he was in his truck and heading down the dirt road toward the ranger station, a couple of miles behind him.

He took no more than one step when he froze again. The carpet of leaves and dead twigs on the forest floor rustled with motion. He placed his hand on his pistol as he listened for direction. It was near, that’s for sure. Crunch, crunch, crunch, a slow, steady pace. It didn’t sound like a four-legged predator. No, it had two legs. Those are the most dangerous sort.

The howl sounded again, very close. Ethan had witnessed some nasty crap in his life, but that howl made him want to piss his pants. He’d never heard anything like it before. He slowly scanned the forest with the truck’s searchlight and his hardhat’s headlamp, but saw nothing, not even the reflection of light from the eyes of a predator. He wiped a sudden sheen of perspiration from his face and squinted into the darkness, but again saw nothing. For a second, an eerie, unnatural silence closed in around him. Then, the brush in front of him stirred and a face appeared. It opened its mouth and howled that ungodly, bone-chilling howl as it took a step into the light, toward the truck. Whatever it was, it stood erect and had teeth like a wolf or a bear. Ethan did not think; he yanked the pistol from its holster and fired. The noise was deafening, and the flame of the pistol’s discharge lit up the night. The figure fell backward, hit the ground with a thud and a grunt, and lay still.

Ethan’s heart was pounding in his chest, and his breathing was labored. His ears rang with the effect of the gunshot, and the hand holding the pistol involuntarily trembled. He shook his head, got control of himself, and adjusted the truck’s searchlight so that it illuminated the whatever-it-was that he’d just shot. He studied it for a moment, then slowly approached it, his pistol gripped in both hands and aimed at its torso.

The thing was built like a human, but more resembled a Canis lupus, a wolf or a dog. It had to be at least five feet tall. Beneath a coating of fur, the arms and torso were jacked with muscle. He noted that it was wearing baggy hiking shorts, the kind with cargo pockets, but wore nothing else. He again scanned the chest and torso for his bullet’s telltale effect, but saw nothing, no blood, no entrance wound. What the hell? Had he killed it? Had he missed it? He slowly clicked the hammer back on his pistol, then took a step toward the critter. He halted and drew a breath when he saw it stir. A pawlike hand moved, then the head. Slowly, cautiously, it sat erect as he backed away a few steps. Then, it looked directly at him. The lights reflected red in its eyes, a ghastly, devilish red. His finger tightened on the trigger, but for some reason, he hesitated to shoot. They remained so, frozen in the moment, staring at each other, for what seemed an eternity. It was probably just a few seconds. Then, something happened that astonished Ethan. The creature spoke to him.

“Jesus, dude,” it said. “You freakin’ shot me?” It felt around its chest. “Am I dead?”

“I—” Ethan found that he had trouble forming words. “I don’t think so. You’re talking.”

It winced when it felt its head. “Ouch!” It held a pawlike hand up in the light and sniffed. “Blood. Shit, dude. You shot a hunk of my ear off. What the hell? Don’t you know that guns are against the law in national parks?”

“I work here,” Ethan said. He spread his arms wide and asked, “Who are you? What are you? And what are you doing out here? I mean, besides scaring the crap out of people. Are you crazy?”

“No,” it answered. “I’m a werewolf.”

“You’re a werewolf? That’s insane.”

It gestured toward the night sky. “Full moon, dude. This is when I do my werewolf thing. Howl, sneak around, scare the mess out of people, kill something. You know, that kind of stuff. It’s what we do on a full moon.” It noted his incredulous expression and said, “Haven’t you ever seen a werewolf movie on TV?”

“Been a while.” He eyed the apparition. “You’re really a werewolf? No shit?”

“Yeah. Look at me. I sure ain’t Jessica Rabbit.”

“Baloney. I think you’re just some drugged-up camper having fun on Halloween. Nice costume, by the way. It’s time to lose the mask.” He stepped forward, grabbed a handful of its hair, and pulled. A mask did not come off. The hair texture, the feel of the thing’s head, it was too real. He let go.

“Ow!” it said. “Hands off. We don’t know each other that well, pal.” It waved its arms. “This is me on every full moon. I’m this way until morning. This is what I live with.” Slowly, it stood erect as Ethan backed away a few more steps. It brushed itself off, then felt its ear again and winced. “Man, that’s going to leave a mark.” It eyed the pistol still in Ethan’s hand. “What is that? Looks like a .357. Of all the people in the world, I’ve got to run into Dirty Harry out here? That’s just my luck.”

Ethan eased the hammer closed on his pistol and holstered it. “What the hell,” he said. “Come over here into the light. Let me see that ear. I’ve got a first aid kit.”

The werewolf eyed him cautiously. “Are you a paramedic or something?”

“I was in the army.” He gave a reassuring grin to the beast. “Don’t sweat it. I’ve patched up a couple of gunshots in my time.”

The werewolf sat on the running board of his truck as he rummaged beneath the seat, then found his kit. He opened it on the driver’s seat of his truck, then tended the beast’s ear. “It’s not so bad,” he said. “Just a little hunk missing. I think you’ll live.”

“It’ll be better by morning,” the werewolf said. “I heal quickly when I’m in this form.”

As Ethan dressed the wound, he made conversation. “I’m usually a better shot than this. You’re lucky I didn’t kill you. It’s bad for your health, scaring the crap out of people out here in the forest.”

“Hey,” the creature said. “It’s what I do. That’s why I come up here, into the national park during the full moon. Lots of space to run and howl.” It snickered. “Try doing that in town. The neighbors and the cops hate it.”

“Was that you doing that howling?” Ethan asked. “Man, that was awesome scary. I almost pissed my pants when you did that.”

The werewolf brightened. “Really? Thanks. I do have a great howl.”

“You need to go down to the ranger station and do that,” Ethan said. “Bubba down there would freak out. Hell, I’d video that and put it on the internet.” He stood up and closed the first aid kit. “That ought to hold your ear for a while.” He shrugged. “Until morning.”

“Yeah. It’ll be healed by then, probably.” The werewolf stood. “Thanks.” The creature puzzled for a moment, then said, “Bubba would freak out, huh?”

“Oh, yeah. He’s afraid of his own shadow.”

“What the hell,” the werewolf said with a grin. “That sounds like a load of fun.”

“Radical!” Ethan said. “Let’s do it.” He held up a fist, and the werewolf bumped knuckles with him. “Look, I’ve just got to change that light up there. Ten minutes. Then we’ll go scare Bubba. Watch my six while I do this, right? Keep an eye out for bears.”

“Shit!” the werewolf said as it hopped up into the bed of Ethan’s truck and crouched down. “Bears? Out here? Gimmie that gun.”

“What, you’re scared of a bear? You’re a werewolf, for Christ’s sake.”

“Oh. Yeah. I am, aren’t I?” It waved a pawlike hand. “I’ll keep a lookout. Go to work.”

Ethan grinned as he ascended the tower’s ladder. Freaking werewolf, he thought. It even talks. What’s next out here? Zombies? Space aliens? Man, I’ve been out here in the woods for too long. Losing my marbles, what few I’ve got left. Wait until my shrink at the VA hospital hears about this one. He’ll want to lock me in the rubber room. Hey, that can’t be so bad. Three hots and a cot, good drugs, a pleasant nurse, and it’s all at the taxpayers’ expense. He paused climbing the ladder, looked about at the endless, magnificent forest illuminated by a rising full moon, and he smiled. Nah, he thought. I’d die locked in a room. This is where I need to be. Out here. Nature keeps me sane and real.

Ethan reached the top of the tower, opened the bulb housing, and switched bulbs. As he began descending the ladder, his cell phone rang. He dug it from his pocket and answered it.


“Hey, Ethan. This is Bubba. I’m fixin’ to leave. You about done?”

“Yeah. Be there in a few. Hey, Bubba. Don’t leave yet. Wait for me. I’ve got a surprise for you.” He snickered. “You’re going to love this, trust me.”

“Okay,” Bubba said. “Hurry up, right?” With that, he hung up.

Ethan pocketed his phone and said, “I’m going to Hell for this, for sure.” A couple of minutes later, his feet touched the ground. He threw his harness and tool belt into the truck bed, slammed the tailgate, and pointed at the cab. “Climb in, pal. Next stop is the ranger station.”


Ethan clumped into the station, went to the campsite check-in counter, and took the woman on duty aside. He handed her his cell phone and spoke in a whisper. “Listen, Becky. Start recording what’s about to happen. Don’t worry, you’ll love this.” She snickered, nodded consent, and took charge of his phone. He walked across the room, stuck his head into an office, and said, “Hey, Bubba. Come out here and check this out, would you?”

“Yeah, yeah. ‘Bout time you got here.” Bubba waddled through the door into the lobby. “What is it?”

At that moment, an ungodly, blood-curdling howl rang the rafters of the building. Bubba’s jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out. “What in the name of--?” he shouted. The howl sounded again, even louder this time, as if it was at the entrance door of the station. Bubba dropped his coffee mug. It bounced off his ample belly, hit the floor, and rolled away as he stood frozen in place, his eyes as big around as dinner plates. When the werewolf came through the front door and howled again, Bubba shouted, “Oh, Lordy Jesus, I’m coming to you!”  His knees buckled, and he collapsed to the floor, moaning like a lovelorn donkey.

Becky swiveled around to video the intruder, and she caught the beast dancing in delight and waving a fist in the air. “Yes!” it shouted. “Radical! That was so much fun!” It paused, studied Bubba rolling on the floor and moaning, and asked, “Is he okay? Do we need to like, call 911 or something?”

Ethan wiped the tears from his eyes, leaned over Bubba, and said, “Hey, dude. You gonna make it?”

Bubba struggled to sit up, and eventually managed it. He looked at Ethan, at Becky, and then at the apparition in the doorway, and he let fly with a string of the most unprintable words he could summon at a moment’s notice. Then, he raised a hand and said, “Help me up, you asshole.” With Ethan’s help, he was able to stand. He saw that the howling apparition was no longer in the doorway and said, “Who – or what – in the blue fires of Hell was that thing?”

“Haven’t you ever seen a werewolf before, Bubba?”

Bubba blinked in disbelief. He thought for a moment, then said, “A werewhat? Sheee-it! That there thing looked like a cross between Lassie and Satan.”

Ethan laughed. “It is Halloween, after all. Trick or treat.”

The check-in clerk joined them and handed Ethan’s phone back to him. “Sure, Bubba,” she said. “Halloween. The campers sometimes get pretty rowdy around here on Halloween night.”

“Yeah,” Ethan said. “Full moon, too. It was just a camper, that’s all.”

“Oh,” Bubba said. “One of those college kid campers, huh? Man, that scared the holy bejeesus out of me.” He headed toward the bathrooms. “That does it. Next year, we don’t allow college kid campers on Halloween, you hear me?” The bathroom door slammed behind him.

Becky eyed Ethan with a laughing, mischievous glance, then shook her head. “Ethan, you’re awful.” She wagged a finger at him. “But fun. I declare, if I wasn’t already on my third marriage, I’d hook up with you just to see what would happen next.”

“I’m not all that exciting, Becky. Besides, I got a girl.” His phone buzzed and he glanced at it, then tapped its face and read a text. “Well, hell. Had a girl, I guess.”

“Past tense? Oh, oh. What happened? Did she just dump you?”

“She was supposed to visit this weekend. Can’t come. Last minute thing.”

He showed the text message to Becky, who shook her head. “Nah,” she said. “You’re getting dumped, dude.”

“You think so?”

“Trust me,” Becky said. “I’m a woman. I know. She’s dumping your ass.” She patted his arm. “Sorry, bud. That’s tough. How long have you been seeing her?”

“Not long. A month, maybe.”

“In that case, you’ll get over her quick.”

“I already have, I think,” Ethan said.

“What’s her name again?” Becky asked.

“I can’t quite remember,” Ethan said.

“See? I told you.” Becky looked around. “Now where’d our werewolf go?”

At Ethan’s shout, the werewolf entered from outside. He motioned between them. “Becky, meet Werewolf. Werewolf, meet Becky.” He watched them nod at each other in greeting, then said, “I’m out of here. If you get a maintenance emergency over the weekend, call me. I guess I won’t be doing anything special after all.”

“Sorry, Ethan,” Becky said. She cast him a sympathetic smile, then returned to her counter.

Ethan looked at the werewolf. “Are you hungry?” He asked.

“Is the Pope Catholic?” the werewolf said.

“Come on. I got two steaks marinating, and I can only eat one. You’re invited.”

The werewolf perked up. “Really?”

“Hey,” Ethan said. “After the way you scared Bubba, it’s the least I can do. And I did shoot part of your ear off.”

“And I scared the crap out of you. I guess we’re even.” The werewolf brightened, then dug into a pocket in its cargo shorts and came up with some paper money. “Enough for a six-pack. Beer’s on me. You’ll have to go into the convenience store to buy it, though.”

Ethan tilted his head in question. “Why is that?”

“Look at me. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Plus, I got no ID.”

“You’d fit right in at a Jimmy Buffett concert.”

“No, I wouldn’t. I’m not stoned out of my gourd.” It shrugged. “Yet.”

Becky laughed. “Get out of here, you two. Nice to meet you, Werewolf.” In a sultrier voice, she said, “Have a nice weekend, Ethan.”

As they walked to Ethan’s truck, the werewolf said, “You need to hit that, man.”

“Nah. I don’t mess with married women,” Ethan said. “It’s bad karma.”

“Finally,” the werewolf said. “A guy with principles.”


The night had fallen outside Ethan’s log home and the moon was rising in the sky, making its way above the treetops. An owl hooted, and somewhere in the distance, a dog was barking. On the deck outside the screened-in porch, the werewolf opened a bottle of beer and took a long, satisfying drink. After a soft belch, the apparition looked at Ethan. “Man, you grill a first-class steak. That was excellent.”


“That chick that dumped you doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

“Yeah, she does. Probably why she dumped me. Found something better.” Ethan opened his own beer and drank. After a thoughtful pause, he looked at the werewolf. “I’m really curious. What’s your story, if you don’t mind me asking? How did you get to be—? Did you get bit or something?”

“Oh. This?” The werewolf collected its thoughts, then spoke in a soft voice. “My lineage is eastern European through both my parent’s sides. Slavic. Roma, I think. You know, Gypsy? The genetics for lycanthropy are rare, but they persist in that lineage, passed through males. Lucky me, I inherited them from dear old Dad. I started turning on the full moon when I hit sixteen. It made for a wild prom night, I can tell you.”

“So, every full moon you--?”

“Yup,” the werewolf said. “Every 29.5 days, this is me. It lasts one, maybe two nights.” It motioned toward the forest with the beer bottle. “So, I come out here and camp. I run the forest all night, do my thing, return to my camper before dawn, and crash. During the day I’m human. When I don’t change at dusk, I know I’m good for another month.”

“And it’s that time of the month for you now?” Ethan asked.

The werewolf snickered. “That’s funny. I never thought of it like that, but yeah.”

“Are there other werewolves?”

“There’s a few out there. Occasionally, I run into one.”

“Any hot young lady werewolves that you can chase around?”

The werewolf laughed. “Nah. Lycans—werewolves—are asexual. We reproduce in our human form.” It mulled over the idea for a moment, then added, “But if we did mess around, I guess we’d do it—”

“Doggy style!” they both said in unison, then laughed and bumped fists. “You twisted bastard,” the werewolf said.

“Yup. Totally,” Ethan agreed.

Ethan finished his beer, dropped the bottle in the trash can, and yawned. The werewolf noted this and looked up at the full moon. “You’re tired, and it’s time for me to run the forest. Thanks again for dinner.”

“Thanks for the beer and the company. And sorry about shooting your ear off.”

They shook hands. Ethan noted that although the hand was shaped rather like a human’s hand, it felt like a dog’s paw. “No sweat, dude. Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Ethan said. “It’s not every day that I get to hang out with a mythological critter.”

“I’m as real as the night is long.” The werewolf grinned, hopped up on the railing of Ethan’s deck, and dropped into the darkness. Ethan heard some rustling of leaves, and then all was quiet. As he was about to close the door to the screened-in porch, he heard a distant howl. That made him smile.


The next morning, Ethan rose with the sun. Since it was Saturday, he didn’t concern himself with work. He made coffee, then retreated to the back porch swing to watch the day begin. As it always did, the forest came alive with the sunlight, and the night’s chill began to dissipate. As the swing creaked, he thought about last night’s strange encounter, and he shook his head. Whoever would believe it? Nobody, that’s who. A real, live, honest-to-God werewolf.

He decided that pancakes were in order, and he returned to his kitchen. The box contained only a dusting of mix, though. He’d need another box. He sighed, dressed in a hurry, checked his appearance on the way through the living area, and closed the front door behind him. He’d go to the store by the campgrounds where all the campers shopped; it was closer than town, and it was open this time of the morning.

Ten minutes later, he parked his Jeep on the edge of a parking lot and walked toward the store’s front door. A variety of campers of all ages were coming and going, some to cars and some along the foot paths to the various campgrounds. It was a typical Saturday morning. He entered, greeted an employee by name, and strolled down a crowded aisle. When he turned a corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. His attention was fixed on the cargo shorts a camper was wearing. He recognized those shorts. He’d seen them last night. And he was seeing them again.

A young woman was wearing them above scuffed hiking boots and a sleeveless top that exposed the tattoo on her upper arm, the tattoo of a dream catcher. The same tattoo that he’d seen on the werewolf last night. And yes, she had dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and the hint of Roma heritage about her. Christ almighty, Ethan thought. The werewolf was a chick? He’d never for a moment imagined—

He noticed that she was standing near the pancake mix. He walked toward her, lifted a box from the shelf near her elbow, and said, “Excuse me, but didn’t we meet yesterday evening?”

She looked up. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she managed a grin. “I believe we did,” she said. “Well. I guess I’m busted, huh?”


“How did you know it was me?”

“Same shorts, same tattoo. How’s the ear?”

She pulled back her hair. The top of her ear had a semicircular hunk about half the diameter of his finger missing, but the pink, new flesh indicated that it was about healed. “Don’t mind the wet hair,” she said. “I just showered. I always wake up a filthy mess after a night running the forest.”

“I can imagine.” He held up the box of pancake mix. “Are you hungry?”

She laughed. “Is the Pope Catholic?” she answered.

“You’re invited for breakfast.”

“I’ll take you up on that.” She extended her hand. “I’m Anastasia, but my friends call me Annie.”

“Ethan,” he said, as he shook her hand.

“Well, Ethan,” she said. “Got a car? I’m on foot. My van is at the campsite.”

“My Jeep awaits.”

He pointed toward the checkout counter. As they walked down the aisle, she pulled a cooler door open and grabbed an item. “Flapjacks are nothing without bacon,” she said. He held out a hand to receive the bacon, but she held the package to her chest beneath crossed arms. “Nah,” she said. “This is my contribution to breakfast.”

Ethan smiled at that. “Annie,” he said, “you’re every guy’s dream.”

She laughed at that. “Even if I get hairy once a month and howl at the moon?”

“As long as I don’t have to walk you and clean up after you.”

She snorted in laughter. “I assure you,” she said, “I am housebroken. And I can even let myself out.”

Ethan grinned. “Like I said. Every guy’s dream.”

After they paid for their items, they left the store and headed to Ethan’s jeep. He opened the passenger side door for her, and she paused and faced him. “Can I ask you something honestly?”

“That’s the best way,” he replied. “Shoot.”

“Okay. Last night, did you know that my human form was female?”


“So, you treated me like one of the guys?”

“Yep.” He eyed her. “I hope I didn’t offend you.”

“No,” she said. “I freakin’ loved it!” She stepped up into the Jeep and seated herself. “But I love being treated like a lady, too. Thanks.”

“For what?”

“Opening the door for me.”

“Oh.” Ethan’s expression reflected amusement. “I just did that because the door handle is tricky.”

Annie studied him for a second, then grinned. “Yeah. Right. Thank you anyway, Mister Ethan.”

“You’re welcome, Miss Annie.” He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side of the Jeep. As he walked, he decided that whether human female or werewolf, she could prove to be one very interesting experience. He just hoped that she wouldn’t dump him after a month. He was tired of being the other guy. He was ready to settle down. But with her? Why not, he decided. She just gets hairy two nights a month, not crazy. I can handle hairy over crazy any day. Been there, done the ‘crazy’ thing, got the scar to prove it.

He sat in the driver’s seat and started the Jeep. Before he shifted into gear, Annie put a hand over his hand, on the gearshift lever. They looked at each other, and Annie’s manner turned serious. Perhaps it was sincerity. She said, “I’m not like that last chick.”

“I got that.”

“And before you ask, no,” she added. “I’m not married.”

“That’s nice to know.”

“So, now that we’ve got that out of the way,” she said, “have you got any questions for me?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Are you going to get all hairy again tonight and howl at the moon?”

She laughed. “Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll find out at dusk,” she said.

“If you do, you’ll be running in the forest. But if you don’t, what are your plans?” he asked.

“How about dinner with you?” she suggested. “My treat. My campsite. Are you up for that?”

“A home-cooked meal and great company,” he said. “I’m definitely up for that. What time?”

“I’ll tell you what: When dark falls tonight, you’ll either get a text from me on your phone or a howl outside your window.”

She waited for his reaction. He thought about what she’d said, then answered, “Either one rocks.”

Annie’s eyes twinkled with delight at the answer. “That’s what I’d hoped you’d say. Now let’s cook breakfast. I’m starving.”

The End

--djb, October, 2021

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