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by Ashten Landry

You wait in the darkness. You hide in the shadows. The bayou drips with humidity around you. You can hear the grass rustling to your right. You run. It can smell your blood seeping from the holes in your leg. As your feet sink into the mud, you realize you can never outrun it.

You didn’t hear its footsteps. Just the sounds of the night: frogs croaking, owls hooting, nutria swimming through the muck. A sharp pressure and then a fiery pain ripped through your thigh. You stared down into red eyes.

Your mama always said, don’t go out after dark on the night of the full moon.

But it couldn’t be, could it? It was a wolf. Just a wolf, you chant to yourself.

Running, you feel the hot breath on your bare skin. The snarling of the beast fills your ears.

You can never outrun it, your mama said. You can never hide from it. Its venom in your veins will call to it.

Your blood thrums through your ears, resounding. The water rises all around you; the trees close in upon you. The air grows heavy, the night steamy. The blood on your thigh begins to tickle as it runs down your leg.

Tickle? No. That can’t be right. It’s the pain. You’re confused.

The venom your mama said.

Your breathing deepens, quickens.

… it’s bite is poisonous….

You smell something sick, sweet, metallic.

Once it bites you…

The smell fills your nose, your mouth.

… it chases you, making your heart race…

You taste it on your dry tongue.

… spreading the poison….

You begin to feel lightheaded; your muscles stiffening.

… You’ll be gone…

You double over in pain, falling in the rotting mud.

… before you even know what happened to you.

The mud caresses your skin with a wet, coolness. A light catches your blurring vision. The full moon invades the sky.

You can’t fight it. You won’t even want to. You’ll give in, and it’ll feel so good.

The hair on your neck prickles with anticipation. You smile at the moon.

So always remember, stay away from the woods and don’t go out after dark, or the Rougarou will get you.