Cycle of the Werewolf :: Кинг Стивен
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Cycle of the Werewolf :: Кинг Стивен
Cycle of the Werewolf
Somewhere, high above, the moon shines down, fat and full-but here, in Tarker's Mills, a January blizzard has choked the sky with snow. The wind rams full force down a deserted Center Avenue; the orange town plows have given up long since.
Arnie Westrum, flagman on the GS&WM Railroad, has been caught in the small tool-and-signal shack nine miles out of town; with his small, gasoline-powered rail-rider blocked by drifts, he is waiting out the storm there, playing Last Man Out solitaire with a pack of greasy Bicycle cards. Outside the wind rises to a shrill scream. Westrum raises his head uneasily, and then looks back down at his game again. It is only the wind, after all…
But the wind doesn't scratch at doors… and whine to be let in.
He gets up, a tall, lanky man in a wool jacket and railroad coveralls, a Camel cigarette jutting from one comer of his mouth, his seamed New England face lit in soft orange tones by the kerosene lantern which hangs on the wall.
The scratching comes again. Someone's dog, he thinks, lost and wanting to be let in. That's all it is… but still, he pauses. It would be inhuman to leave it out there in the cold, he thinks (not that it is much warmer in here; in spite of the batterypowered heater, he can see the cold cloud of his breath)-but still he hesitates. A cold finger of fear is probing just below his heart. This has been a bad season in Tarker's Mills; there have been omens of evil on the land. Arnie has his father's Welsh blood strong in his veins, and he doesn't like the feel of things.
Before he can decide what to do about his visitor, the lowpitched whining rises to a snarl. There is a thud as something incredibly heavy hits the door… draws back… hits again. The door trembles in its frame, and a puff of snow billows in from the top.
Arnie Westrum stares around, looking for something to shore it up with, but before he can do more than reach for the flimsy chair he has been sitting in, the snarling thing strikes the door again with incredible force, splintering it from top to bottom.
It holds for a moment longer, bowed in on a vertical line, and lodged in it, kicking and lunging, its snout wrinkled back in a snarl, its yellow eyes blazing, is the biggest wolf Arnie has ever seen…
And its snarls sound terribly like human words.
The door splinters, groans, gives. In a moment the thing will be inside.
In the corner, amongst a welter of tools, a pick leans against the wall. Arnie lunges for it and seizes it as the wolf thrusts its way inside and crouches, its yellow eyes gleaming at the cornered man. Its ears are flattened back, furry triangles. Its tongue lolls. Behind it, snow gusts in through a door that has been shattered down the center.
It springs with a snarl, and Arnie Westrum swings the pick.
Outside, the feeble lamplight shines raggedly on the snow through the splintered door.
The wind whoops and howls.
The screams begin.
Something inhuman has come to Tarker's Mills, as unseen as the full moon riding the night sky high above. It is the Werewolf, and there is no more reason for its coming now than there would be for the arrival of cancer, or a psychotic with murder on his mind, or a killer tornado. Its time is now, its place is here, in this little Maine town where baked bean church suppers are a weekly event, where small boys and girls still bring apples to their teachers, where the Nature Outings of the Senior Citizens' Club are religiously reported in the weekly paper. Next week there will be news of a darker variety.
Outside, its tracks begin to fill up with snow, and the shriek of the wind seems savage with pleasure. There is nothing of God or Light in that heartless sound-it is all black winter and dark ice.
The cycle of the Werewolf has begun.
Love, Stella Randolph thinks, lying in her narrow virgin's bed, and through her window streams the cold blue light of a St. Valentine's Day full moon.
Oh love love love, love would be like
This year Stella Randolph, who runs the Tarker's Mills Set 'n Sew, has received twenty Valentines—one from Paul Newman, one from Robert Redford, one from John Travolta… even one from Ace Frehley of the rock group Kiss. They stand open on the bureau across the room from her, illuminated in the moon's cold blue light. She sent them all to herself, this year as every year.
Love would be like a kiss at dawn… or the last kiss, the real one, at the end of the Harlequin romance stories… love would be like roses in twilight…
They laugh at her in Tarker's Mills, yes, you bet. Small boys joke and snigger at her from behind their hands (and sometimes, if they are safe across the street and Constable Neary isn't around, they will chant Fatty-Fatty-Two-By-Four in their sweet, high mocking sopranos), but she knows about love, and about the moon. Her store is failing by inches, and she weighs too much, but now, on this night of dreams with the moon a bitter blue flood through frost-traced windows, it seems to her that love is still a possibility, love and the scent of summer as he comes…
Love would be like the rough feel of a man's cheek, that rub and scratch
And suddenly there is a scratching at the window.
She starts up on her elbows, the coverlet falling away from her ample bosom. The moonlight has been blocked out by a dark shape-amorphous but clearly masculine, and she thinks: I am dreaming… and in my dreams, I will let him come… in my dreams I will let myself come. They use the word dirty, but the word is clean, the word is right; love would be like coming.
She rises, convinced that this is a dream, because there is a man crouched out there, a man she knows, a man she passes on the street nearly everyday. It is
(love love is coming, love has come)
But as her pudgy fingers fall on the cold sash of the window she sees it is not a man at all; it is an animal out there, a huge, shaggy wolf, his forepaws on the outer sill, his rear legs buried up to the haunches in the snowdrift which crouches against the west side of her house, here on the outskirts of town.
But it's Valentine's day and there will be love, she thinks; her eyes have deceived her even in her dream. It is a man, that man, and he is so wickedly handsome.
(wickedness yes love would be like wickedness)
and he has come this moon-decked night and he will take her. He will
She throws the window up and it is the blast of cold air billowing her filmy blue nightgown out behind that tells her that this is no dream.
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