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The Dark Side of the Moon

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“Here we are guys!” Dad said with a smile. “Jellystone park!” I laughed and Mom elbowed him softly, telling him to stop goofing off. “Fine. Welcome to YELLOWSTONE!” He said it grandly, even though all we were looking at was a few pine trees outside the park.
We were staying at one of those resorts that you got an entire house to stay at. It was very small, and I managed to do a thorough exploration in a matter of minutes. Luckily, this resort had many other things you could do. There was a large playground that was filled to the brim with mothers and small children. No self respecting 14 year old was about to venture into that. There was a swimming pool, but it was one of those really old indoor ones that stank of chlorine. I worried about how bored I would be in the 2 months we were staying there.

And then, there was a library. It wasn’t very big. Just tucked into the corner of the main building, but it was wonderful. Three huge shelves of books I had been dying to read. I spent the rest of the day there, enveloped in a copy of City of Bones.

I returned the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. My parents just shrugged and continued to do....whatever they did on that trip. We went to the actual park a few times, but Jared did NOT react well to the massive amount of bugs. His little toddler brain probably thought they were massive aliens, come to eat all of his food.

Then, just a little before the fourth week, someone interrupted my routine. I arrived at the library one day, and found someone sitting in the small space that allowed for reading. It was a boy, who looked about the same age as I. He had wild brown hair (sort of like Harry Potter’s), and beautiful blue eyes. In hindsight, I believe the term “love at first sight” would be appropriate. He was casually sitting in a small bean bag, enjoying a copy of Moby Dick. I couldn’t muster up the courage to talk to him. In my panic, I scurried back to our house, completely surrendering my spot at the library.

The next day, I vowed that I wouldn’t run away. He was taking away my precious reading time! I marched back there, determination engraved on my face......which all melted away when I went back. Come on. You can do this, the logical side my brain urged me. NO! NO YOU CAN’T! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! replied the panicky teenage girl side. Before I could stop freaking out, the boy looked up.

“Oh hey!” he said. “Aren’t you the girl that’s been reading here?” I mutely nodded. The boy put the book back and got up. “I’m sorry that I stole your spot. No one was here for once, so I thought I’d use it. I’ll leave you to your reading.” He started to walk away, but I didn’t want him to. My panic was subsiding.

“Um...you could stay...if you want,” I said quietly. The boy turned around and had an unsure expression.

“You sure?” I nodded quickly. He shrugged, grabbed his book, and sat down on the floor, leaving the beanbag chair for me. We spent the rest of the day in silence, occasionally stealing glances at the other.
The next day, I raced back to the library bright and early. I wanted to see the boy again, maybe learn his name today. At the very least, I wanted to establish that I could actually speak. He wasn’t there when I arrived, and I established my spot in the beanbag chair. After what felt like an eternity of waiting, I heard the little bell on the door jingle, and he came through. I hurriedly went back to my book, not wanting to seem creepy.
“Hello,” he said quietly as he came over.

“Hello,” I said, not looking away from the text. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him examine the books carefully. He finally selected one and sat exactly where he had the day before. My mind raced to figure out something to say. It had to be cool...intelligent...witty.

“I like trains,” I said absentmindedly, and then mentally slapped myself. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!? The boy started to chuckle, and then outright laughed. He was laughing at me! How dare he!

“Ha ha son. Yes you do,” he said with the best poker face he could muster through the laughs. He’d....he’d finished an asdf quote with me. AWESOME! We dropped our books and started talking about other internet videos. One of the people that worked in the building actually had to come in and shush us, which just resulted in another chorus of laughter.

“By the way,” he said just before he was about to leave. “My name is Hank Jacobs.”

“I’m Lizzie Tyler,” I said. He smiled, waved goodbye, and left the library with the little jingle of the bell. That was the beginning of our friendship.

Hank and I spent all of our time together. We went swimming in that horrid pool, played pranks on the other guests, rode bikes, anything we could do to spend time together.

As time passed, my feelings grew. At first, I tried to shove them back down to where ever they had come from. It would only end badly. He was older (only by a few months, but in an entirely different grade), and seemed much cooler than I was. But, the feelings grew. It was like that old rumor that if you ate a watermelon seed, it would grow in your stomach. The tingling happiness just grew and grew until I thought I would explode.

The final day of our vacation rolled around. Dad and I spent the entire day packing, and it was sunset when we were finally finished. I begged to go say goodbye to Hank, since we were leaving at about 5:00 the next morning. My mom thought about it.

“Fine. But be back in twenty minutes.” I thanked her, and ran off toward Hank’s little house. I looked up at the moon that was just rising. It was full, and illuminated the entire resort. I quickly dismissed it, and moved on.

Before I got to the house, something darted across my path. It was massive, and walked on all fours. It raced toward the forest that the resort sat on the edge of, and disappeared into the trees. I wasn’t about to chase after some animal, but it let out a wounded cry. In my stupidity, I ran after it, thinking that I could help. I followed it’s tracks into a large clearing in the woods. I found Hank hunched over in the clearing, obviously in pain.

“Hank!” I screamed as I ran over to him. “Are you hurt? Did that animal I see get you?” It took him effort to look up from his spasms.

“Li-lizzie,” he croaked. “Get.....out.” He screamed, and harder spasms wracked his body. Something was very wrong here. This wasn’t just a seizure, it was something more powerful.

“I’m not leaving you,” I said. “You’re sick. C’mon, I’ll help you get to the clinic.” I put a hand on his shoulder, and his head snapped toward me.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!” He roared, with a strange animal like growl. I jumped back, now very frightened of Hank.

“Wha....what’s going on Hank? What aren’t you telling me!?” He was still for a moment. It was like the calm before a storm.

“Lizzie....” he gasped. “I just want you to know....that....whatever happens....I-I love you.” My heart skipped a beat.

“You....you what?” I never got an answer to that question. That was the moment that everything changed. Hank let out one more strangled cry, and changed. It was the most unbelievable thing. I watched his hands and feet grow paws and claws. His face changed to a pointed snout and large fangs. Coarse, black fur grew over his body. Soon, Hank was gone, and a monster appeared.

I followed my first instinct. Run. Run as fast as you can and you’ll be fine. So, I ran. I ran as fast as my stupid legs would take me. I heard the thumping pounds of the beast’s run behind me, getting closer with every stride.

Through my panic, I was at least smart enough to realize I wouldn’t outrun it. A low hanging branch was just ahead, so I jumped up and grabbed it, pulling myself up. I climbed as high as I dared. The monster was at the base of the tree, butting against it to try and make me fall, howling all the while.

“WHAT ARE YOU?” I yelled down to the creature. This wasn’t Hank, this wasn’t my friend....my love. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HIM!?” With every word, I just strengthened the animal’s resolve. It backed up, ran to the tree with impossible speed, and slammed into it.

The tree shook violently, making the entire earth shake. I lost my grip on the branch I was holding, and fell the great distance I’d climbed. For a moment, I was just falling, simply that. Then, the ground rushed up to meet me, renewing my terror. I felt many bones crack, especially in my ribcage.

I tried to scream, but it hurt too much. The beast jumped on top of me, making the pain unbearable. We silently stared at each other for a moment. In that moment, just briefly, I saw Hank. Hank was in there somewhere. But that moment, was the one where the creature bit.

This time I screamed. It’s teeth went deep into my scrawny neck. I could feel each one in my neck, each one broadcasting waves of pain throughout my body. I could feel something entering my body, like when you get a shot. It entered my blood, my muscles, my mind.

Then, it let go. It ripped it’s teeth out of my neck and trotted away. It didn’t even give me a second glance.

I was too weak to move. All my energy had been drained, and most of my bones were broken. I should’ve been dead.....why wasn’t I dead? The moonlight shone bright in my eyes, but I couldn’t shield it’s harsh glow. I had to face it, until I fell asleep.

I woke up to my dad shaking me.

“Lizzie! Lizzie are you alright!?” He said. When I opened my eyes, he breathed a sigh of relief. “She’s ok Margret!” Mom rushed over and grabbed me in a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re safe sweetie! We were so worried when you didn’t come back last night. But, what are you doing out here?” That was a good question. What was I doing out here?
There were faint memories of a wolf, and lots of pain, but it felt more like a dream than a memory.

“I.....I don’t know,” I admitted. “I think I hit my head.” This resulted in several doctor visits when we got back to Townsville. All of them said that nothing was wrong with me, and that it was probably just a fall that resulted in minor memory loss.

Everything returned to normal. School started up the day after we got back. I got to see my friends again, and we all chatted about our vacations. I watched T.V and did homework. Things were average, and I quickly forgot the strange dream. I was sad that I didn’t remember saying bye to Hank though. My feelings for him never really disappeared.
***

A long time later, I got sick. Really sick. My mom had to rush me to the hospital twice because I was throwing up so violently. The doctors said there wasn’t anything that would be causing it, but decided on food poisoning so that they could write something on a file or something.

It was a crisp spring night, the chill of winter still there, but quickly fleeting. The moon was full, and illuminated the area outside my window. The past few nights, I hadn’t gotten any sleep. The moon had just been too pretty to look away from. And it.....it was so nice that night.

Almost hypnotically, I got out of bed and went outside, never looking away from the moon’s glow. I followed the light to it’s strongest point in a small clearing, never feeling the forest floor beneath by bare feet, or the bite of cold on my skin. I stopped in the middle of the clearing, and soaked in the moon’s light. I smiled and felt at peace.

Pain. It enveloped me in it’s horrid embrace in the clearing. Radiating from the inside out, it was all I knew in those moments. Everything left, and all I could think about was the agony that filled my mind, my blood, my very soul. It stopped just for a moment, before the beast broke through.

My mind became a vacuum, sucking me into some sort of place in the corner of my consciousness. It was dark, the blackest dark you couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t move, or speak, or barely think. All I could do was watch.

Sitting there, only a few feet away, was a horrible beast. There will never be words to describe it. The closest possible thing was evil. The embodiment of evil, and it had taken control of my body.

Everything it thought and felt was transmitted to me. For we were one and the same, even if we didn’t share the same goals. I tried to resist. To stop it’s horrible urges, but I was powerless that night. All I could do, was watch and wait. I could see everything that happened that night, though I wish I hadn’t.

There wasn’t anything that would satisfy it’s taste. It thought that the small rodents that populated the forest wouldn’t be adequate for that night. It wanted it’s first meal to be something tasty. Something delicious. Something....human.

Almost on demand, someone else entered the clearing. A little boy was pushed through the bushes. He fell into the dirt with a loud thump. All was still for a moment, the monster curious about this new development. But then, the boy looked up, and brushed the dirt from his eyes. If I could’ve gasped, I would’ve. The little boy was one that I knew well. One that had played with my baby brother, and I’d babysat, and teased. It was Ash.

The monster felt these feelings, but did not share them. All it cared about was the sweet aroma that wafted from the boy’s flesh. The monster bared its teeth and growled, asserting its authority over it’s prey. Ash gasped, but did not scream. He slowly got up like he was taught, and started to back away. That might’ve worked on common animals, but not this beast.

The monster pounced on the frightened boy. It flew through the air, and tackled Ash to the ground. I heard his ribs crack when we made contact. He looked straight into the monster’s eyes, and into me, even if he didn’t know it.

“Don’t do it,” I squeaked. “Please.” The monster gave no acknowledgement that I was there. It relished the boy’s terror for a moment more. But then it buried it’s teeth into him. It’s enormous jaws clamped around the boy’s neck. He was allowed one gurgled scream before the monster ripped Ash’s head from his body.

It instinctively shook the head, like it was a small animal it was trying to kill. The blood that leaked from the neck sprayed all around the clearing, splattering onto the tree trunks and vegetation. Then, it feasted.

It was merciless. It ate almost everything, leaving only a small husk, empty of organs and most of the meat. I cried as I watched. Ash was almost a little brother to me, and.....I had killed him. I could’ve stopped it, I knew I could’ve.

The monster was full, and had nothing left to do. It wandered around after the kill, biding it’s time until sunrise. The second that the sweet rays of light creeped over the surrounding moments, I was in power again. I layed in the clearing until I was fully human. My pajamas were sticky with Ash’s blood, as was my hair. I ran from that clearing deep into the forest, horrified of the events of that night.

I washed off in the nearby river, making sure there was no evidence of last night. My parents were curious about why I was soaking wet and in my pajamas, and I spun some tale about sleepwalking. I crawled into my room, and didn’t come out for three days. There was no way I could face the world after what I’d done.

Of course, I eventually did. I had to mask everything that had happened, and continue with my cheery demeanor. It would’ve been strange if I suddenly acted like the broken monster I felt like inside. I had to pretend that I wasn’t some beast that would devour a friend without a second thought. I had consol my friend Bea about the death of her brother without letting on that I was his killer. This was the hardest of all.

It’s almost three years later, and though I hate to admit it, the change has become so normal, it doesn’t faze me anymore. I’ve learned that resistance is futile, and it’s better to just let the monster feed. However, there is brighter side. While I have one night of causing brutal terror, I have 30 to spend it helping those I can. So, that’s what I do now. Helping everyone I possibly can. In a way, the situation is like the moon itself, with both a dark, and light side.



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