Moon Calling

By Mell Eight

Prompt: just get in the car

Warnings: None

I had been driving since dawn this morning, when the roads were bathed in fog and the only headlights on the highway for miles were mine. I had run into traffic during the morning rush hour, but I was heading north out of the city, so it hadn't been wall-to-wall cars like the southbound lanes. My small duffel bag was tucked into the backseat and rock was playing on the radio.

It wasn't too bad a morning, considering.

I was just reaching the top of a hill, forest on either side as the foothills of the mountains made my truck work extra hard, when I saw three figures from down below creep out of the trees. My car began its descent down the hill just as the closest one stuck his thumb into the air.

I flicked the switch to turn off my cruise control and drifted downwards. Should I stop? There was only one reason I could think of for three scruffy men to wander out of the woods and I wasn't sure if it was good enough for me.

Then I saw the smallest man, an older child really, shiver and hunch his shoulders in unhappiness. My jaw firmed. I had a responsibility, if only for this one night. I pressed the breaks and slid to a stop at the side of the road. The leader jogged over as I rolled my window down just enough that we weren't speaking through glass.

"Where're you headed?" I asked, raising my voice to make sure all three men could hear me through the cracked window.

"North," the leader grunted. Well, that was convenient since I was heading north too.

I nodded once to the leader to show my acceptance. "I have safety straps and travel blankets in the back," I said as I pointed behind me towards the bed of my truck. This far into the mountains was sparse on cops, so I could get away with transporting three men in the back of my truck. "Get in the car," I added, when the men didn't move for a long moment.

The youngest man moved first, no doubt lured by my mention of blankets. It wasn't cold out, just brisk for normal autumn day, but none of the three men were dressed properly for anything except high summer. It didn't take long for them to situate themselves and get strapped in. The youngest burrowed under about three blankets and appeared to go straight to sleep. The leader kept a sharp lookout as I hit the gas and got back up to speed.

I kept driving through the early afternoon, occasionally looking out my back window to watch the three men. The youngest woke up after a few hours and I watched as the other two fed him some beef jerky from their pockets. The other men never ate, though, which made me frown.

It was around that time that my gas tank started grumbling for food as well. The next exit was fifteen miles away, but the gas station and attached convenience store were right off the highway from there. I pulled in to the closest pump and got out of my car.

"Is this as far north as you're going?" the leader asked as he sat up in back to look at me.

"No, I just need gas," I replied, studying the screen on the gas pump to see the buttons it wanted me to press so I could begin my fill-up. Credit card scanned and type of gas chosen, I left my car to eat its fill and headed into the convenience store to fill my own stomach as well. I got four sandwiches, heavy on the meat, and four bottles of water before heading back outside. The second man, who I hadn't had a chance to study before now, was carefully topping off my tank and putting the nozzle back on the pump.

The loud grinding, popping sound of my gas cap being screwed back in accompanied the rustle of paper and plastic as I tossed three sandwiches and waters to the leader.

"What?" he started to say. I ignored him as I got into the driver's seat and started the engine. The youngest man was holding a sandwich, his eyes wide with hope as he glanced between the leader and me as if waiting for permission. I only waited long enough for the second man to get strapped back into the cab before shifting into gear and heading back onto the highway.

The sun was beginning to set behind the trees as the highway began to yawn into endless stretches of road. I kept myself awake by covertly studying my passengers. The youngest was maybe fifteen years old and a young fifteen at that. The second was in his early twenties while the leader was in his fifties. My guess was that they were family—a father and his two sons—since they all shared light brown colored hair and light brown eyes.

The sandwiches and water didn't last long, but I wasn't stopping again until we reached my destination. The sun set early in the mountains, hidden from view by the high rocks and trees, but the moon didn't rise for another hour. I finally found the exit I was looking for and left the highway. Three miles of barely paved road led to another three of dirt. I could feel the moon beginning her ascent into the sky. So could my passengers if the way they were staring at the sky instead of noticing their surroundings was any indication.

The driveway that led to the small cabin I kept up here was well maintained and it wasn't long until I slid the truck into park just next to the front porch. I climbed out of my truck with my duffel bag and keys in hand. It only took a moment to unlock the porch door and toss all my things inside.

The three men were just climbing out of my truck when I turned back to them.

"Where are we?" the leader asked, sharp worry in his voice as he studied his surroundings for the first time.

"Where doesn't matter," I replied. "When does." The moon finally crested the horizon and I knew my smile was full of teeth much sharper than they should be.

The youngest whimpered, but he was staring at his hands as claws and fur began to emerge from human nails and skin. The full moon was rising.

Clothing ripped as fur grew and bones shifted. I threw back my head and howled at the brilliance of the moon, quickly echoed by three new voices.

Then my pack, fully shifted, began our worship of the goddess who created us. Four werewolves ran off into the night, my car's forgotten headlights the only reminder of humanity left behind.