Untitled NA Series

 

Tabby Samson is an artist in her 20's, and after a troubled adolescence is now reckoning with what it means to be an "adult" - a term she views with great suspicion. She is invited to an exclusive artists colony on the shores of Cape Cod to hone her craft. Seems like a dream come true. However, once there she is pulled into a world beyond anything she's experienced, where nothing is what it seems, full of elite yachtsmen, corrupt cops, barmy artists, and secret societies. Not to mention a man who just might become the love of her life.

 

Oh, and werewolves, of course. Waspy ones.

 

Status: Intended as a trilogy, the first book is half done, with the other two outlined and prepped to bring readers along with Tabby as she journeys further into New England's secret supernatural world. If you would like to hear more about the series, please reach out at the "Contact" button above.    

       

 

"But grandmother! What big teeth you have..."

 

            A ripe full moon hung in the sky as Schuyler White and Tiffany Thompson drove up to the parking lot by the beach. It lit the sand below and drew thin shadows out from the beach grass and scraggly white fence pickets along the dunes. Billowing clouds sailed overhead, hiding the moon every few minutes and plunging the beach into darkness that was broken only by the sweeping beam of the nearby lighthouse.

            The stars were out in abundance, signaling a bright beginning to a formative summer. April had burst with fertile greenness, May was following suit, and across Massachusetts young couples were positively clawing to get inside one another’s pants, skirts, shorts, skorts, pajamas, bathing suits, and the occasional snuggie.

            Schuyler and Tiffany had never been ones to challenge the status quo.

            Some might argue that they, in fact, were the status quo, at least for a certain subset of the white New England populace. Tiffany's family had the house on Cape Cod, Schuyler's family had one on Martha's Vineyard, and both were frequently used as weekend getaways to explore bodies and shirk homework.

            And frankly, neither of them could care less, thank you very much. They were both already into their colleges. The network of elite New England prep schools had a reputation for fostering the best and the brightest, and then sending those glowing young minds off to certain elite universities in whose hallowed halls they would learn how to be either presidents or high functioning alcoholics, or both. Often both.

            However, not all the minds at Milton, Exeter, and the like shone quite so bright. Some were, in point of fact, damn dull. But for such minds, exceptions could be made, especially if one’s father sat on the board of the school in question. Fritz White happened to be such a father.

            And his brother, hedge fund manager Andrew White, happened to be the kind of uncle who would donate enough to Princeton for the school to rename a building after him. Which might have had something to do with Schuyler’s admittance letter. Possibly. Not that anyone would suggest so out loud, of course.

            And Tiffany? Well, she actually had something of a sly mind. She recognized that she was Hot and Young, and that she wouldn’t be both forever. At some point she would become Old and Saggy. This was a great and deep fear of hers, but she recognized it and accepted it. Instead of trying to prolong her youthful glow via a paleo diet or losing sleep over which pilates class would be the right combination of chic and useful, she simply focused on getting everything she wanted as quickly as possible. These included a boyfriend from a Good Family and admittance to a college that was both near his and Good Enough. She was accustomed to being treated a certain way, and having these things would guarantee such treatment for the years that mattered most. Then, when she did become Old and Saggy, and inevitably caught her husband cheating, she could sit cozy on the massive settlement she extracted from him.

            But first: summer lovin’.

            Late May is still early on Cape Cod. School is still in session across much of the state, and the long, flexing arm of land that reaches out into the Atlantic south of Boston has yet to fully awaken for the riotous summer months ahead. Only about one in every three houses is occupied. The mayfly summerfolk have yet to arrive in force, and all the empty houses stand together in a mute, anticipatory, privileged collective.

            So when Tiffany and Schuyler hopped into her Lexus and drove to the aptly named Lighthouse Beach in Bentham, on the Cape’s southern elbow, they discovered, as expected, that they were the only car in the parking lot.

            “Babe, this is perfect,” Schuyler said, staring across the sand below.

            “I know.”

            Tiffany clunked her door shut and skipped up to her boy, planting a kiss on his thin, anglo lips.

            “You taste like cherry candy,” he noted.

            “I know.”

            “Man, I love you.”

            “I know.”

            He kissed her back, and they stood by the car for a few minutes, smushing their lips together as the clouds shuffled along above, hiding and revealing the moon again and again

            Wow, I really am in love with her, Schuyler thought.

            Wow, I can totally feel his boner through his pants, Tiffany thought.

            “Come on,” she said, pulling her face back an inch, “I want to put this to work,” and gave his crotch a light squeeze.

            He made a small, involuntary hngg sound and she laughed, skipping by him and down the stairs that led from the parking lot to the sand. He followed, his pants decidedly too tight.

            The beach stretched out before them, a band of white curving away to the south, the ocean dark and quietly roaring as spring waves broke across the bar half a mile out. The lighthouse swept across it all at regular intervals, revealing the landscape by rapid inches before whisking them away again in the afterdark of the beam's passage.

            “Babe wait up!”

            The cool sand gave no real purchase underfoot. Schuyler staggered as he tried to join his girl, who had a head start.

            “Come on!” she called back. “I don’t want to date a guy I can outrun!”

            “Screw you, Tiff!”

            “You better!”

            Then the moon disappeared behind a massive cloud bank and for a few moments they were running in absolute darkness.

            “Babe!” he called. “Babe where’d you go? I can’t see – oof!”

            He tripped on something in the dark and a sudden burst of panic hit him as he tumbled forward, flailing arms which he could barely see now that the moon was obscured.  He hit the beach in an awkward starfish pose and got a mouthful of sand.

            “Babe!” he called again, coughing out grains. “Ugh – babe?”

            “Right here dummy,” came the response, so close it made him jump.

            “Where?” he said, blinking and trying not to get sand in his eyes. “It’s so dark all of a sudden. Be careful, I tripped on something.”

            “Yeah I know,” she said again, even closer. “It was me.”

            “What? I – oh you – !”

            He heard her giggle, and reached out to grab her. He connected, the giggle turned into a little shriek of excitement, and he pulled her down on top of him. As he did, the moon came out from behind the clouds again, and they could both see each other and kissed again.

            “You suck,” grumbled Schuyler.

            “And oh so well.”

            “Ooh, hey, I like the sound of that.”

            “I know.”

            Then a sound tore down the beach, pelting ahead of the slight breeze. It was the high howl of an animal. Schuyler broke off the kiss and jerked his head around. He squeezed Tiffany’s arms in a tight reflex.

            “Ow! Jesus, relax.”

            “What the hell was that?”

            “It’s just a coyote,” she said, more sharply than she meant.

            “There are coyotes on the Cape?”

            “Yeah, they come out here a lot in the summer to eat all the rabbits. Seriously, loosen up – you’re going to bruise me.”

            “What? Oh, sorry.”

            It hadn’t sounded like a coyote to him. Then again, he had also never heard a coyote before. He looked vaguely up and down the beach, but the clouds had moved over the moon again and there was nothing much to see.

            “It sounded really close.”

            “Nah, sound carries on the beach.” She noticed he still wasn’t paying her much attention. “Are you…are you afraid?”

            “What?” He snapped back to her. “No! Of course not.”

            “You’re totally afraid! Holy shit, you’re totally pussing out over a coyote!”

            “Shut up, Tiff."

            “Ooh,” she cooed. “I kinda like it when you’re scared. I’ve never seen you get defensive.”

            “I’m not getting defensive.”

            “Totally are.”

            “Am not!”

            “And you sound way more manly.”

            “I – yeah?”

            “Yeah.” She tilted her head and appraised him. “Mm. Maybe we should watch more scary movies together.”

            “I – yeah, totally.” Schuyler couldn’t tell if she was being serious or not. He went with it. “I’ll show you something manly.”

            “Ooh!” she squealed as he clapped a hand on her bum. “I – are you trembling?”

            “What? No. I mean, I’m just – kind of chilly.”

            “Oh, is that so?”

            “Yeah, it is.”

            “Maybe we should warm you up a little, manly man.”

            “Maybe we should.”

            All thoughts of coyotes were blotted out by hormones. The sound of the surf washed over them in a pleasant haze. There was a touch of hand on hand, a fumble for something more than a hand. Stiffness between her fingers, soft give under his palm, the snap of a buttoned blouse over a nothing-bra almost invisible save for the lighthouse's voyeuristic glances.

            He had his mouth on something sensitive when she uttered a gasp different from the ones he was used to hearing when he nibbled her.

            “Sorry, did I bite too hard?”

            “Someone’s coming.”
            “Where?”
            “Over there, by the dunes.”

            A much thicker bank of clouds began to ooze across the stars, and the temperature dropped a degree or two as the last of the moonlight petered out. Schuyler squinted, trying to see where Tiffany had pointed as she scrambled to button up her blouse.

            “Crap, I didn't think the beach cops started patrols this early in the season,” she muttered. “Come on, let's go find another spot.”

            “I don't think it's a beach cop, babe.”

            The moon was entirely gone now, and the two of them were left in the dark. Patrol officers did pop down to the beach through the summer, mostly just telling raucous clambakes to “keep it down,” and occasionally busting the one black kid for loitering. But now there was nothing, no flashlight, no –

            “There! See?”

            A ways up the beach, the brief wash of the lighthouse disclosed a lanky, shaggy shape on all fours.

            “Coyote. Told you.”

            “Whoa,” Schuyler said, and swallowed. “You, uh, you sure they’re safe?” 

            Tiffany frowned. “Yeah, they’re totally afraid of people. But that wasn’t it. There was a person, I saw him.”

            Both of them peered into the dark, but it was absolute. The clouds above had a thickness usually reserved for thunderheads. Schuyler tried to maintain composure and failed as his nerves started to jangle.

            “Babe, maybe we should get back to the house,” he offered, trying to sound pragmatic. “It’s getting, like, actually cold and –”

            The lighthouse swung by again, and his words dried up as the beam swept across them.

            But all it revealed was a stretched of unoccupied white sand.

            “Nothing,” Tiffany said, almost to herself.

            Maybe the cop just hid somewhere. Maybe he’s watching us with nightvision goggles. Maybe he wanted to stick around, get a little show.

            The thought kind of turned her on. As did the fact that her boyfriend was genuinely freaked out. She turned to him and liked the way he started at her touch.

            “But babe,” she cooed, “you said we could do it on the sand. We’ve never done it outside. Come on.” She slid around behind him and bumped her hips playfully into his butt. “Do me like a coyote.” She reached around to fumble with his boxers again.

            Schuyler was caught halfway between his erection and his flight response. His brain positively sizzled with anxiety, and his gonads were flushing testosterone into him at a pace to match it. He contemplated for an insane moment splitting the difference and thwacking Tiffany in the face with his dong before sprinting away pell-mell.

            Then the lighthouse lit the beach up again, and all thoughts vanished. He uttered a squawk of pure terror and jerked away from his girlfriend.

            Tiffany pitched onto the sand, having been focused entirely on disrobing him. She blinked in the dark, bewildered at his rebuff and brushing sand out of her hair.

            “Ugh, Shuyler!”

            “Tifanny…”

            “What?”

            “It's back,” he squeaked out, all gruffness gone.

            “I told you, it’s fine, it won't bother us.”

            “It's closer.”

            “Jesus, come on.” This wasn’t cute any more. She crossed her arms and pouted.

            “I don't think it's a coyote.”

            “What are you talking about?” Is this really the guy I’m moving to New Jersey for? “You saw it. It's too big to be a fox, and it’s not a dog. It's a coyote and they don't FUCK.”

            Tiffany’s train of thought was derailed in explicit fashion by the lighthouse. The beam raced across the beach, and the thing which was definitely there and definitely not a coyote stood up on its hind legs. Upright, it was seven feet tall at least.

            Then it was gone as the dark washed back, hiding the beach and everything on it.

            Both kids shot to their feet. Tiffany’s bloused flapped. Schuyler’s pants slid down his thighs, unheeded.

            “Oh my god oh my god oh my god – ”

            “What is that? Oh jeez Tiffany what is that?”

            She didn’t have an answer for him. The fear he’d been trying to suppress escaped his pores in waves she could actually smell: sour, like gym socks. It made it that much harder for her keep her own at bay. Her stomach felt loose and hot even as all her exposed skin rippled up into gooseflesh.

            They stood, holding each other, stranded in the dark under the broad swaths of cloud that obscured all star and moon light.

            “We have to move,” Schuyler whispered.

            Tiffany found she couldn’t do much more than nod, which of course he couldn’t see. He reached for her hand and they both almost screamed when he found it.

            Then the lighthouse washed by again, a soundless whoop of luminescence. They clutched each other, nerves shrieking in mute anticipation.

            Nothing.

            The sand was empty, the dune grass still now that the breeze had died. The beach was clear. The sea was at their back, but had they turned to look they would have seen fingerlings of lightning far off in the distance.

            Then the light was gone again, and the only sound was each of their own breathing rhythms, Schuyler’s deep and thick, Tiffany’s rapid and huffy. 

            And the surf. Always the surf. Hissing, sighing, rumbling, whispering, as much a breathing rhythm as either of their own. All around them was the sense of a living night as the Atlantic shore seemed to taste them in preparation for a big bite.

            Time began to feel funny. The darkness pounded along with Tiffany’s heart, colluding with the melting clock. Individual breaths took forever to fill, but it seemed she only took two before the lighthouse swung round again.

            Nothing.

            This has gone far enough, Schuyler thought in an insanely reasonable voice. I won’t have any of this at all. None. I’m going to spend my summer playing tennis and testing my alcohol tolerance. And that’s that.

            That, of course, was not that. His childhood nightmares could muster nothing to compete with the swooping waves of paralysis that riddled him now. Half his body wanted to bolt and never come within an inch of Cape Cod again. The other half thought it would be a wonderful idea to simply sink into the sand and never get up.

            Throat dry beyond use, he tugged at Tiffany’s hand. No response. For a terrible moment he thought she would not move, that she’d gone catatonic and he’d have to either carry her or leave her. He realized with a sick shame that he would much rather do the latter.

            Then she squeezed his hand back and took the first step.

            Their movement across the sand was tortuous and fumbling. He had neglected to button his pants and kept hoisting them back up around his hips, and she felt dazed by the deepness of the night around them.

            How can it possibly be this dark? She wondered in her own insanely reasonable voice. How can I actually not see three feet in front of me?

            As if in answer, a thick groan of thunder echoed out from across the sea. She threw a fitful glance over one shoulder and saw thin legs of lightning stalking across distant waves.  The horizon, a grey wire lit by these glowing stabs, was the only thing clearly visible. The sky between was now a mass of roiling clouds.

            They’d taken only seven or eight steps before the lighthouse swung round again.

            Tiffany made a curious gurgling sound in her throat. Schuyler’s pants slid down again and he couldn’t find the strength to pull them back up.

            Off to their left, the beach plants grew thick on the dunes, bunches of sand grass and chinaberry and wild rose bushes. The vegetation rode the waves of sand, topping their crests, filling in the wind-sculpted gaps, holding the beach together as it transitioned from sand to gravel to dirt to asphalt up at the parking lot.

            In this thicket, something crouched.

            They could see only the hunkered, hairy outline among the leaves as the lighthouse blinked over it, but just before it passed completely it snagged on the thing’s eyes. They glimmered milkily, two phosphorous stamps on the tangled darkness that seemed to glow even after the beam had swept on.

            Tiffany’s gurgle turned into a sort of whine. Schuyler whipped his hand up to her mouth, cutting off the sound. She blinked and the eyes in the bushes disappeared. All was darkness. They were both taut and trembling.

            Then she heard it.

            The bushes rustled, a quiet sound, so quiet it could have been mistaken for part of the surf. But she knew it wasn’t. It was the sound of something big trying to be silent and not quite managing. Trying not to spook its quarry.

            But still she heard it. That sound did more than anything else to assure her that this was actually happening, something a part of her mind had been desperately trying to avoid.

            Then another sound followed. Try as it might, the surf couldn't quite mask the heavy, padding footsteps approaching.

            Tiffany's bladder let go. She couldn’t help it. She barely noticed it. Schuyler began to shiver madly. His teeth clicked just above her head. The footsteps continued.

            Then lighthouse swept across again.

            The thing stood backlit on its hind legs, its massive feet splayed under it, claws that weren’t quite toes digging into the sand. A tail, whiplike and sleek with shining black fur, curled around from behind. It was close enough for them to smell: matted livestock, and a musk that reminded each of them of how the other tasted when they were fucking.

            The eyes, though. That’s what stayed with Tiffany. The eyes were human. Not just mammalian, or humanoid, or human-ish. They were human. Bright blue and sharp and intent above the elongated muzzle and mouthful of teeth protruding past the thick black lips. It couldn’t possibly be real, and yet here it was, staring at the two of them, drinking them in.

            As the light snapped by, the thing threw back its head and uttered a piercing howl. It was the same sound they’d heard earlier. To Tiffany it sounded like the world’s biggest, angriest coyote. To Schuyler it was the scream of someone being tortured.

            It broke their paralysis. They turned in unison and sprinted back towards the stairs as the howl followed them across the sand.

            But the footing was tricky and soft, the sand giving even less purchase than before. Tiffany felt the way she did in some of her nightmares, barely moving while she pumped her legs to exhaustion. 

            Schuyler had it worse. His undone pants slipped down as he tried to move across the give of the shifting grains, tangling around his feet until he went sprawling face first into the cool sand.

            He came up sputtering as the clouds let the moon shine through for a brief moment, revealing the love of his life sprinting on ahead of him, heedless of his fall, leaving a trail of piss droplets in her wake that flew through the air and glistened like yellow diamonds.

            “TIFFANY!”

            Or so he would have screamed. The thing was on him and before he could get out more than TIFF, a curious force tugged at the front of his neck. He watched, bewildered, as his Adam’s apple flew out into the sand, pursued in spectacular fashion by an arc of his own arterial blood. Then the clouds hid the moon again and he lost sight of his throat.

            His last thought was: But this can’t happen to me - I’m going to Princeton!

            Tiffany didn't turn back, not for anything, not when she heard her boyfriend fall, not when she heard him begin to cry her name, not when she heard that horrible meaty tearing noise and the splashing, gurgling sound that followed it. Not until she had reached the top of the stairs and her legs were flaming logs attached to her hips did she slow and turn around.

            The moon now gloamed through the clouds, enough that she couldn’t help but see the dark mass on the beach against the pale sand. It was heaving up and down.  More tearing noises made their way up the stairs.

            She spun back around and steadied herself against the flimsy guardrail, trying not to vomit. Bright pink spots burst against the back of her eyelids as she hooked in breath after breath.

            You can’t stay here.

            She knew.

            You have to move.

            She knew.

            The car. Just get to the car.

            She could do that. Easy street. Nothing to it.

            Then go, now, while it’s eating ­–

            She shook her head violently, cutting off her own internal monologue. Then she took one more deep breath, tried to block out the sounds coming from the beach, and opened her eyes.

            Oh god.

            She agreed.

            There’s a whole pack of them.

            She saw.

            Well, it’s been nice knowing you, Tiff.

            It had been. She’d quite liked herself.

            The lanky, hairy shapes loped across the empty parking lot, moving with such an obscene speed as to seem ghostly. Two, three, four of them. As they approached they slowed, sniffing. They did not look at each other. All attention was focused on her. In any other context, this would have suited Tiffany just fine.

            No cars in sight. Of course not. There never were at moments like this. She could have screamed but she knew it would do her no good. Even the coast guards manning the lighthouse wouldn’t hear her. The faint sound of bass drifted from the adjoining garage, and she knew they were having one last party to themselves before the summer season kicked off. No locals lived on this stretch of road. All the summer people were still in school. This was how it ended for her. And that was that.

            The pack surrounded her, closing ranks. Their smell was as overpowering as their appearance. It washed over her, rammed itself up her nose, all sweat and meat and that musky odor she associated with getting her period.

            Then the clouds moved in one final time, and her car, the parking lot, the beach, were all painted black. A sudden peal of thunder rent the sky above, hiding the horrible soft footsteps as they approached. She closed her eyes. She didn’t want to see them as the lighthouse beamed across again. In her final moments, Tiffany Thompson managed to find a quiet sort of dignity.

            Then her last thought, as the rain came down, was: At least I’ll never get old and saggy.

 

© 2015 by Lee Seymour