SILVER SHELLS • by Michael D. Turner

I stumbled through the cabin door and shot the bolt behind me, for all the good it would do. A step-hop over to the lone cot and I was finally able to spare time to tend my leg. My trouser leg was a complete loss but the bite wasn’t near as bad as it felt.

They had my scent now, and they’d tasted blood. I didn’t think they’d leave off now that I was penned in, not even though they had to have caught the smell of silver as well. They could have seen it as well as smelled it, not just in the cartridges of my guns but in the slug I’d put in the tree when I’d missed my shot.

That would make them cautious, but more than ever, it would make them come for me. They couldn’t afford to leave a hunter, a real hunter who’d prepared for them, out in their territory with two moonrises to go. They’d come for me for sure.

I’d chosen my cabin well, and done plenty to prepare it for the worst in the three weeks since the last full moon. The windows, small as they’d been, were bisected now with thick logs pegged in place making them too small to come in through, though still just fine to shoot out of. The roof was covered with heavy turf and the one door; well, I’d brought most of that in with me. An inch or more of local hardwood, now steel-faced, with silver nails set all over it.

A werewolf was as likely to throw himself into that as a man was to set his shoulder to a bonfire.

I finished cleaning my leg, getting the bandages out of my pack, and the disinfectant. Then I dug out the ammunition and laid it out on the cot. The box of large, heavy rounds for my Winchester was nearly useless–the rifle could drop any monster with a single shot but it was fairly finicky about how it was loaded, and I’d be risking a jam if I tried to reload in the heat, as it were.

I carefully reloaded it, replacing the shell I’d used before, and then laid out the silver-shot rounds I’d brought for the shotgun. More effective up close than my pistol, it was quicker to reload as well. It would do for the biggest part of the fighting, leaving my pistol and my bowie-knife, its blade carefully etched and filled with silver-leaf, for my last defense.

The night was wearing on and my leg was throbbing. Where were they? Less than an hour to moonset, they should be here; I hadn’t thrown them off my scent, I hadn’t even tried. They should have come before now.

I hopped over to the window and looked out. The moon was below the ridgeline, the valley dark as ink. They should have hit me by now.

I eased my leg up on the woodpile to take off some of the pressure, and it hit me. I’d been bitten.

They weren’t coming. They didn’t have to.

I stared at the rifle in my hand, at the shells laid out on the bunk. All of them silver.

Michael D. Turner‘s writings have graced the pages of Aberrant Dreams, Amazing Journeys, Alienskin, Between Kisses, Continuum SF, Every Day Fiction, Tales of the Talisman and a variety of anthologies. He is an associate editor of the new Flashing Swords e-zine.

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