Cul-de-Sac by Zeke Jarvis
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When anyone first walks out onto one of the patios or decks, the first thing that they would see was the trees. Green in the summer, an array of beautiful colors in the fall, and pleasantly white in the winter. It was a nice talking point when homeowners wanted to sell their houses (often to downsize once the kids were gone or to sell their childhood homes after their parents had died). It was also peaceful, reassuring. A person could relax at the end of the day and simply enjoy nature. See the views, smell the scents, and so on.
The werewolves seemed to know, instinctively, that chasing people into the woods would be the most effective strategy for devouring them. Maybe it was the last vestiges of their human brains understanding the nature of the neighborhood, or maybe it was their animal instinct. Either way, the “strong” neighbors tried to fight back while the “weak” ran towards the woods. The distinction didn’t mean much, because they all were brutally killed. The “strong” had their throats ripped out within the houses (the vast majority of the residents had neither the skills nore the tools to take on a single werewolf let alone several). Ron in particular had strong spurts of blood, partially because he had refused to take his blood-pressure medicine. He also mistakenly believed that he’d be able to fight off the werewolves, but when the first one bit into him, his blood sprayed all over the front of his house. While he writhed in pain, his property value dropped by several thousand dollars. If there’s a silver lining, it might be that Ron didn’t have any children, so the loss was, in some ways, academic. Not that Ron was able to focus on that fact as the werewolves clawed the meat from his bones. To be frank, the clawing was not particularly efficient, but the gnawing that followed scraped every bit of muscle off of Ron’s bones.
To be fair, the people who fled to the woods fared no better. When humans try to avoid werewolves in the woods, they’re almost always devoured horribly, and this was no different. Take Wendy, who tried carrying her nine-year-old daughter into the woods. She didn’t even make it 20 yards, and she tripped over a root. Once that happened, desperation set in, and it took almost no time for the werewolves to catch up to her. They devoured most of Wendy and then ate her daughter. The werewolves were, in this case, very efficient. They bit the throats, slashed several arteries with their claws, and tried to ingest the vital organs. The mother and daughter hardly were able to scream before they died. The rest of the residents met similar ends.
When the werewolves came back out of the woods, they did so slowly, casually. There was no sense of guilt or urgency. They were right to be skeptical of any threat, as it turned out. It was over 24 hours before anyone discovered that the community had been ravaged. If they’d only hit one house, then the community might have noticed that Deb didn’t go for her morning walk or that the Johnsons hadn’t been bickering on their way to some athletic event. They definitely would have noticed that Greg hadn’t been using his damn leafblower in the morning.
But with everybody gone, there was nobody to notice everyone else’s absence, and the community’s insular nature meant that nobody came in to notice all of the carnage. It was a mail carrier who noticed the open doors and torn up yards (their landscaping was generally immaculate). By the time that the authorities arrived, everyone had been long dead. The blood had stopped trickling and the maggots had started feasting on what little was left. Relatively few people noticed. They interacted with the community in limited ways, and the loss impacted them in very shallow ways. The werewolves would repeat their actions in another cul-de-sac not long after. Things ran in a very similar fashion.
Zeke Jarvis is a Professor of English at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Moon City Review, Posit, and Drunk Monkeys. His books include So Anyway..., In A Family Way, The Three of Them, and Antisocial Norms.
Twitter @zekjar, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/zeke.jarvis.5, website: zekedotjarvis.wordpress.com
Published to the Kaidankai on February 22, 2022.
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Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.