Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cycle of the Werewolf November By Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf
By Stephen King

In the Stinking Darkness under the barn, he raised his Shaggy head. His yellow, stupid eyes gleamed. I hunger, he whispered. Henry Ellender The Wolf


Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest but the Second have thirty-one, Rains and snow and jolly sun, and the moon grows fat in every one Child's Rime


"Even a man, who is pure in heart and say his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms and the Autumn Moon is bright. Laurence Talbot-1941 The Wolf-Man


Full Beaver Moon - November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.


The smoking butt end of the year, November's dark iron, has come to Tarkers Mills. A strange exodus seems to be taking place on Main Street. The Rev. Lester Lowe watches it from the door of the Baptist Parsonage; he has come out to get his mail and he holds six circulars and one single letter in his hand, watching the conga-line of dusty pick-up trucks Fords and Chevy and International Harvesters snake its way out of town.


Snow is coming, the weatherman says, but these are no riders before the storm, bound for warmer climes; you don't head out for Florida or California's golden shore with your hunting jacket on and your gun behind you in the cab rack and your dogs in the flatbed. This is the fourth that the men, led by Elmer Zinneman and his brother Pete, have headed out with dogs and guns and a great many six-packs of beer. It is a fad that has caught o as the full moon approaches. Bird seasons over, deer season, too. But it's still open season on werewolves, and wagons-in-a-circle faces, are having a great time. As Coach Coslaw might has said, Doodly-damn right!


Some of the men, Rev. Lowe knows, are doing no more than skylarking; here is a chance to get out in the woods, pull beer piss in ravines, tell jokes about polacks and frogs and niggers, shoot a squirrels and crows. They're the real animals, Lowe thinks, his hand unconsciously going to the eye patch he has worn since July. Somebody will shoot somebody, most likely. They're lucky it hasn't happened already.
The last of the trucks drives out of sight over Taker's Hill, horn honking, dogs barking and barking in the back. Yes, some of the men are just skylarking, but some Elmer and Pete Zinneman, for example are dead serious.


If that creature, man or beast or whatever it is, goes hunting this month, the dogs will pick up its scent, the Rev. Lowe has heard Elmer say in the barber shop not two weeks ago. And if it or he doesn't go out, then maybe we'll have saved a life. Someone's livestock at the very least.


Yes, there are some of them maybe a dozen, maybe two-dozen who mean business. But it is not them that has brought this strange new feeling into the back of Lowe's brain that sense of being brought to bay.
It's the notes that have done that. The notes, the longest of them only two sentences long, written in a childish, laborious hand, sometimes misspelled. He looks down at the letter that has come in today's mail, addressed in that same childish script, addressed as the others have been addressed: The Reverend Lowe, Baptist Parsonage, Takers Mill, Maine 04491.
Now, this strange, trapped feeling the way he imagines a fox must feel when it realizes that the dogs have somehow chased it into a cul-de-sac. That panicked moment that the fox turns, its teeth bared, to do battle with the dogs that will surely pull it to pieces.


He closes the door firmly, goes inside to the parlor where the grandfather clock ticks solemn ticks and tocks solemn tocks; he sits down, puts the religious circulars carefully aside on the table Mrs. Miller polishes twice a week, and opens his new letter. Like the others, there is no salutation. Like the others, it is unsigned. Written in the center of a sheet torn from a grade-schooler's lined notepad, is this sentence:
Why don't you kill yourself?


The Rev. Lowe puts a hand to his forehead it trembles slightly. With the other hand he crumples the sheet of paper up and puts it in the large glass ashtray in the center of the table (Rev. Lowe does all of his counseling in the parlor, and some of his troubled parishioners smoke). He take a book of matches from his Saturday afternoon eat home sweater and lights the note, as he has lit the others. He watches it burn.


Lowe's knowledge of what he is has come in two distinct stages: Following his nightmare in May, the dream in which everyone in the Old Home Sunday congregation turned into a werewolf, and following his terrible discovery of Clyde Corliss's gutted body, he has begun to realize that something is well, wrong with him. He knows no other way to put it. Something wrong. But he also knows that on some mornings, usually during the period when the moon is full, he awakes feeling amazingly good, amazingly well, amazingly strong. This feeling ebbs with the moon, and then grows again with next moon.
Following the dream and Corliss's death, he has been forced to acknowledge other things, which he had, up until then, been able to ignore. Clothes that are muddy and torn. Scratches and bruise he cannot account for (but since they never hurt or ache, as ordinary scratches and bruises do, they have been easy to dismiss, to simply not think about). He has even been able to ignore the traces of blood he had sometimes found on his hands and lips.


Then, on July 5th, the second stage. Simply described: he had awakened blind in one eye. As with the cuts and scratches, there had been no pain; simply a gored, blasted socket where his left eye had been. At that point the knowledge had become too great for denial: he is the werewolf; he is the beast.


For the last three days he has felt familiar sensations: a great restlessness, an impatience that is almost joyful, a sense of tension in his body. It is coming again the change in almost here again. Tonight the moon will rise full, and the hunters will be out with their dogs. Well, no matter. He is smarter than they give him credit for. They speak of a man-wolf, but think only in terms of the wolf, not the man. They can drive in their pickups, and he can drive in his small Volare sedan. And this afternoon he will drive down Portland way, he thinks, and stay at some motel on the outskirts of town. And if the change comes, there will be no hunters, no dogs. They are not the one who frightens him.
Why don't you kill yourself?


The first note came early this month. It said simply:
I know who you are.


The second said:
If you are a man of GOD, get out of town. Go someplace where there animals for you to kill but no people.
The third said:
End it.
That was all; just End it. And now
Why don't you kill yourself?


Because I don't want to, the Rev. Lowe thinks petulantly.
 This whatever it is, is nothing I asked for. I wasn't bitten by a wolf or cursed by a gypsy. It just happened. I picked some flowers for the vase in the church vestry one day last November. Up by that pretty little Cemetery on Sunshine Hill. I never saw such flowers before and they were dead before I could get back to town. They turned black, every one. Perhaps that was when it started to happen. No reason to think so, exactly but I do. And I won't kill myself. They are the animals, not me.


Who is writing the notes?


He doesn't know. The attack on Marty Coslaw has not been reported in the weekly Tarkers Mills newspapers, and he prides himself on no listening to gossip. Also, as Marty did not know about Lowe until Halloween because their religious circles do not touch, the Rev. Lowe does not know about Marty. And he has no memory of what he does in the beast-state; only that alcoholic sense of well-being when the cycle has finished for another month, and the restlessness before.


I am a man of GOD, he thinks, getting up and beginning to pace, walking faster and faster in the quiet parlor where the grandfather clock ticks solemn ticks and tocks solemn tocks. I am a man of GOD and I will not kill myself. I do good here, and if I sometimes do evil, why, men have done evil before me; evil also serves the will of GOD, or so the Book of Job teaches us; if I have been cursed from Outside, then GOD will bring me down in His time. All things serve the will of GOD and who is he? Shall I make inquiries? Who was attacked on July 4th? How did I (it) lose his (its) eye? Perhaps he should be silenced but not this month. Let them put their dogs back in their kennels first. Yes He begins to walk faster and faster, bent low, unaware that his beard, usually scant (he can get away with only shaving once every three days at the right time of the month, that is), has now sprung out thick and scruffy and wiry, and that his one brown eye has gone a hazel shade that is deepening moment by moment toward the emerald green it will become later this night. He is hunching forward as he walks, and he has begun to talk to himself but the words are growing lower and lower, more and more like growls.


At last, as the gray November afternoon tightens down toward an early anvil-colored dusk, he bounds into the kitchen, snatches the Volare's keys from the peg by the door, and almost runs towards the car. He drives toward Portland fast, smiling, and he does not slow the season's first snow starts to skirl into the beams of his headlights, dancers from the iron sky. He senses the moon somewhere above the clouds; he senses its power; his chest expands, straining the seams of his white shirt.


He tunes the radio to rock and roll station, and he feels just great!
And what happens later that night might be a judgment from GOD, or a jest of those older gods that men worshipped from the safety of the stone circles on moonlit nights oh, it's funny, all right, pretty funny, because Lowe has gone all the way to Portland to become the Beast, and the man he ends up ripping open on that snowy November night is Milt Sturmfuller, a lifelong resident of Tarkers Mills and perhaps GOD is just after all, because if there is a first-class grade-A shit in Tarkers Mills, it is Milt Sturmfuller. He has come in this night as he has on other nights, telling his battered wife Donna Lee that he is on business, but his business is a B-girl name Rita Tennison who has given him a lively case of herpes which Milt has already passed on to Donna Lee, who has never so much as looked at another man in all the years they have been married.
The Rev. Lowe has checked into a motel called The Driftwood near Portland-Westbrook line, and this is the same motel that Milt Sturmfuller and Rita Tennison have chosen on this November night to do their business.


Milt steps out at quarter past ten to retrieve a bottle of bourbon he's left in the car, and he is in fact congratulating himself on being far from Tarkers Mill on the night of the full moon when the one-eyed Beast leaps on him from the roof of a snow shrouded Peterbilt ten-wheeler and takes his head off with one gigantic swipe. The last sound Milt Sturmfuller hears in his life is the werewolf's rising snarl of triumph; his head rolls under the Peterbilt, the eyes wide, the neck spraying blood, and the bottle of bourbon drops from his jittering hand as the Beast buries its snout in his neck and begins to feed.
And the next day, back in the Baptist parsonage in Tarkers Mills and feeling just great, the Rev. Lowe will read the account of the murder in the newspaper and think piously; He was not a good man. All things serve Lord.


And following this, he will think: who is the kid sending the notes? Who was it in July? It's time to find out. It's time to listen to some gossip.


The Rev. Lester Lowe readjust his eye patch, shakes out a new section of newspaper and thinks: All things serve the Lord, if it's the Lord's will, I'll find him. And silence him. Forever.
This Story is from the Book "Cycle of the Werewolf" by
Stephen King. You can find a copy at

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"Even A Man Who Is Pure In Heart And Says His Prayer By Nigh, May Become A Wolf When the Wolf bane Blooms And The Autumn Moon Is Bright." LT-1941

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