I started writing this story back in 2001. Every now and then, I’d add a little to it. Since this stuff is pretty popular these days, I thought I’d put it on the blog in the “fiction” section. I read through it pretty quickly. I didn’t change anything… and in some ways I’m a little embarrassed of the writing style from those days. Nevertheless, I will add chapters for your enjoyment — as the Spirit moves me. In fact, I’m going to pick up writing it again, I think. Maybe bring it to a conclusion in short story form.
The sun was slowly falling behind us as we headed out of town. It would be night soon and this meant we needed to find somewhere to hide.
“I’ve never been this far out before,” Jennifer said as we passed a pasture of cattle. I could see the shifting shadows of the surrounding trees grow larger on the field as the sun continued to dip lower.
“Me either,” I replied. I was lying, of course, to let her rest. I had been out here just a few days before preparing for what would be our last stand against the enemy. If she had known this, she would never have trusted me again. She would be dead, and I would be fighting alone.
“Do you know where you’re going?” she mumbled. She had swallowed too much of that damned wine and was beginning to falter in her speech.
“I have an idea,” I answered, “but I’m not entirely sure. How much of that stuff did you drink?”
“I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
“When we get a little further out of town, I’m going to pull over so you can puke. You’re gonna have to try to puke. You have to get that out of you. I mean, you saw what it will do.”
“I know,” she said, “Just keep driving.”
“I love you,” she said softly.
In the movies, such events stereotypically take place in the remote, English countryside. But here we are in Michigan fighting for our lives. What is Michigan that it would become home to creatures of folklore? How could it possibly be happening here? How could it possibly be happening at all?
The truth is that Michigan became the origin for a new beginning, a metamorphosis of the old ways. Historically, our troubles have their root in the dark woodlands of Eastern Europe, set back and living separate from the rest of society. Moving stealthily through the small towns, occasionally, yet strategically, planting the seeds of unrighteousness into the schools, courts, churches and homes. Becoming a part of society. Only in the early 1600’s did they find themselves at serious odds with the mortals and each other. Many of the brethren were being made known, and were being hunted and killed. Their numbers were dwindling. In order to be preserved, survival depended upon reform. Mortals could no longer be their primary source of food.
To secure their existence, a faction arose with new ideology, a monasticism of sorts. They must abstain from mortal contact completely. If they continued to collide with man, they would certainly condemn themselves. They preached this to all the brethren. Those who would not follow were “released”, as they called it, from this life. Those who refused the new order and went into hiding were made known to the mortals. Mankind could always be trusted to faithfully hunt, trap and slay them. Those who remained, about 100 in all, believed that the time would come again for them to coexist with mankind. They traveled to America with this special hope for survival.
Once in America, struggling against all natural tendencies, they opted to refuse mankind as food and ventured into the untamed country. They settled in the Appalachian highlands for nearly two and a half centuries, feeding off of the wildlife and safely avoiding human contact. But soon the American population increased and began to spread across the mountains forcing the brethren to move in migratory fashion, often returning to a location many years later.
In their travels, it was often that someone would discover them. A Native American, a mountaineer seeking fortune and adventure, a religious group seeking to separate themselves from others, all of these would sometimes venture down the wrong mountain path. Eventually, each of these troublesome and curious humans was offered the “wine” and a place among them. It was through this wine that you became a part of the brethren. You cannot become one by accident. You cannot become one from being bitten. In a lycanthropic state, it is impossible for the beast to decide to do anything but kill you. They don’t bite you and let you go. They just bite you in half. And if for some reason you are able to escape, the bite is poisonous. Unless you drink the wine, you will die. You become one of their kind by choice. It is always by choice. You must accept the wine and become immortal, or refuse. Refusing the wine certainly brought about a savage feast in honor of the “Old Way”, and of course, the ritual’s candidate would always be the main dish. Because of this, rarely did anyone refuse the wine. The appeal of immortality as opposed to certain death seemed to entice the darker side of a mortal’s nature and their innate and cowardly desire to survive.
As time passed, many converts were added to the fold. Their numbers began to grow. With such darkly evangelical success, one would have thought that the time for integration was drawing near. With technology advancing and pushing the populations further west, the brethren soon realized that seclusion in large numbers would be impossible. In the winter of 1836, they elected over half of their own for martyrdom. Five hundred of the brethren were lost to a single flame. Those who remained left the mountains for the flatlands, and somehow they have ended up here.
We are now well into the new century. The brethren have settled after almost four hundred years. Their migration is over. They believe that the time has come once again for integration. They see a new beginning on the horizon and they will ferociously fight to keep their kind from extinction.
This is where I fit in. I know their ways. I have refused the wine and lived. I can make them known and destroy their remnant. They know this, and now they must stop me. And for this, we are on the run.