The winds blew with a raging fury on this night. It was 1839, and the wilderness in India was harsh thanks to the yearly monsoons. The moon rose high over the small campsite of a man who was traveling alone. He did not think of the dangers that awaited him on this night. There were cold, dead eyes that stared at him through the thick leaves of the jungle canvas. They sought no appeasement; the hunger had to be satisfied.
"Kali will be well pleased," one voice whispered in the darkness. The eyes that penetrated the night air belonged to a man that had no soul. He was a devoted follower of Kali, the Hindu goddess of death. He was a Thuggie, and his three comrades were all of a like mind. "She must be satisfied," another expressed in a quieted tone. Blood was nectar to Kali and her thugs, and the skulls of those slain in her name were trophies of the blackest honor.
The traveler set by his fire. Little in this world seemed to concern him. Looking at his watch he knew that time was growing short. He feared not for his life, eventhough he knew that the murderous heathen lay just out of his sight beyond the light of his flickering campfire. His eyes didn't need to see them. The sound of their hearts raced in his ears like the sound of charging horses. He could smell them. Their sweat was saturated with salt, rancid blood, and the pungent stench of body odor.
The only thing that was lacking was a sound of heralds to announce their presence. They were that evident to him. Still he did not fear.
There were four distinct heartbeats. One resonated from the North, another to the South, and the final two to his back in the West. He set his watch down by the fire. "Why are you little bastards waiting so long?" he wondered aloud. "Campbell," he said to himself, "This is why you came to India, to hunt the big game. And what animal is the most tenacious, devious predator on the planet? Man, of course."
Campbell began to salivate. It would be better than the hunts that he had in England. The thoughts of it excited him...the hazard, the quarry, and the blood. He loved the blood most of all. The color and the feel of it drove him mad.
His blood began to race. He kicked-off his boots, and shed his shirt with haste. The pulse throbbed through his skin. Thoughts of made his mind go into a frenetic state.
The thugs were nervous, and one attacked before he was signaled. Campbell ran towards him, leveling a pistol off at his chest. Time seemed to stand still as it all happened: the trigger was pulled, the powder ignited, the slug hurled from the barrel, and it ripped through the thug's chest. There was no time to scream.
Campbell never stopped until he hit the jungle's edge. Instantly he was gone
from view. The other thugs charged as soon as they realized what had happened,
but it was too late. Now their number was three.
From the tree line they heard a voice. It growled like a beast, saying, "You provide me with good sport. Keep your backs to the fire, pagan savages. Don't make it so easy for me." Then they heard a howl.
The thugs had never counted on this. The tables had been turned. The hunters were now the hunted.
One ran for the forest, and disappeared. His shrill screams were heard but seconds later. The last two began to argue. "Kali has forsaken us," one said. "No," the other yelled, "This is not the work of the mighty Kali.
He is a lycanthrope. A man that can shapeshift, and uses his abilities to kill. I have heard of weretigers, but that is not what this is. It howls like the wild dogs."
"It howls like a wolf," the other replied with urgency. The sweat poured from their skin like rain. "We are doomed." His prophecy was right.
The wolf ran from the trees towards the thugs. Their swords were not enough. He tore the throat from one and was upon the last before he could even react. The thug's sword flew from his hands, and the wolf plunged at his neck. His throat was ripped clean instantly. Although he was still conscious, his soul had begun to discorporate from his body. His eyes glazed over as he watched the wolf eat his own flesh.
The wolf went behind the fire, and shifted back into his manform. He stood behind the flames, naked and covered in blood. Campbell licked the blood from his fingers. "I love Indian food," he laughed. The hunt was over.
Copyright © 1997 A.D.
Revised for submission May 23, 2000