Dirty Hairy Beast

Sami had witnessed many strange things with Guru Baba, his holy bossman, but tonight had beaten them all. He had been given the day off so that he could “work all night”, a night which involved walking around a boggy field, looking at the moon.

Guru Baba asked him, “Do you like animals? Yes, you do? But you don’t have any pets. You said that you had some when you were a child, but never since then. Why is that?”

“I had a goldfish first, then a tropical snail, then an iguana, and a blue budgie called Neelum, and a striped cat, Mr. Tiger, then a poodle named Biswas. Biswas bit me and my parents had him put down. After that I became scared of dogs, and most other animals with sharp teeth and claws.”

Guru Baba said, “Ahhh…” and then nothing more.

They looked at the moon. It was getting low and had acquired a red hue, the colour of bloody water. It made Sami feel sick; it seemed to be swirling.

“Are you scared of people too? They can be just as dangerous as animals.”

“Well, I guess if I met a murderer, I would be scared. But generally, no. It is animals’ teeth that frighten me really. I think they’re going to bite me.”

Guru Baba opened his mouth wide. His teeth seemed sharper than before. Was Sami’s mind playing tricks now?

“Who are you most scared of?” said Guru Baba. “Animals or humans?”

Sami noticed that Guru Baba’s eyebrows seemed very close together. His nails were sharp, and his ears low-set. He’d always sported a full beard, but now his cheeks and forehead seemed hairy too.

Sami saw movement in the forest beyond the field. He looked at the trees carefully, but couldn’t make out anything unusual. Then there was movement again. He saw a dark shape, and then another one, and then many more.

Sami became pale and said, “Guru Baba, I’m scared. There are animals moving in the forest around us. Can you see them? I think they could be cougars. They might attack us.” Lucerne was famous for its wildlife. Bears, coyotes, cougars and bald eagles lived in the forests and mountains around.

“It is not cougars, it is wolves. There are many around here. They gather at full moons.”

Sami saw that Guru Baba’s eyes were bright yellow.

He stood transfixed by his gaze.

Was he a shape-shifter or some sort of demon?

Sami tried to scream but nothing came out.

He tried to move but his feet remained rooted in the boggy field.

Then he growled and broke free.

Sami ran with a swinging stride and howled at the moon.

Each village has its traditions. Every harvest moon, Lucerne ran amok with werewolves. It was nothing to get upset about.

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