Like most kids who grew up in the small Oregon town of Silver Falls, Toby Hoffman had heard all the scary stories about the monsters living in the neighboring woods of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Now a teenager, he knows the stories are made up to keep the town’s children from wandering where they aren’t wanted.
Then his best friend, Nate, wakes up covered in blood in the reservation woods, with no recollection of whose blood it is or where it came from. When even more brutal attacks follow, Toby can’t help but wonder if one of the fables he was told as a child might be true. With the help of Rachel, a determined Native American girl who has moved off the reservation and into the house next door, he begins searching for an explanation for the recent carnage. He also develops feelings for his new neighbor, which are put to the test when he and Rachel discover that her uncle may be responsible for the emergence of a legendary monster that does in fact exist.
To make matters worse, there’s evidence that Nate was turned by the beast, and that he has every intention of holding onto his extraordinary new creature capabilities no matter the cost. In order to save Silver Falls from a true scary story, Toby will have to face off against forces he doesn’t fully understand – and his closest friend.“Rachel barely managed to hang up the phone before Bruce pulled her away from it. He turned them toward the stairs and began leading them up to the second floor.
Toby heard his father calling after them from the hallway. “Dammit, Bruce, I meant get them out of this house!”
Bruce paid no attention, yanking Toby and Rachel to the top of the stairs and then down the second-floor hall. Toby tried to pull away, but immediately felt Mr. Bennett tighten his grip.
Walter called out again from the living room. “Bruce! Get them out of here!”
The stubborn plant owner tugged the two of them into a dark room at the far end of the hallway and shut the door behind them. Toby stood in complete darkness for a second, then Bruce flipped on the lights to his upstairs study and locked the door.
“You think a locked door is going to stop them?” Toby asked incredulously.
“No,” Bruce answered as he strode over to an enormous oak armoire. He opened it to reveal several large-caliber weapons hanging on built-in custom racks. Removing a 20-gauge shotgun, he gave them both a wink. “This is.”
“No,” Toby moaned. “It’s not.”
Downstairs, Walter and Paul finished reloading their weapons, yet again, as the werewolves wobbled to their feet.
“I’m running out of ammunition here, Sheriff,” Paul said as he raised his rifle to fire another round into Willard. “That girl’s uncle better get here soon.”
Walter stepped cautiously toward Nate, getting just close enough to see the werewolf’s bullet wounds healing rapidly below its scruffy clumps of fur. Completely flummoxed and frustrated, he fired off three more rounds, but the pistol shots did more to anger Nate than hurt him.
The werewolf swiped at a coffee table, sending it flying into the sheriff. It struck him solidly in the chest and chin, sending him to the floor in a daze. His view now partially obstructed by the table, Walter could no longer see Paul, but he heard the hunter’s rifle blast as the creature lunged.
Both the werewolf and Paul moved into view as the beast clamped down on the hunter’s arm and, with a swing of its massive head, flung him clear across the room. Paul crashed into a life-sized portrait of Bruce Bennett and then tumbled to the floor. The werewolf pounced, clawing out the hunter’s throat with one swipe. Too concussed to take action, Walter could only watch as the creature reared back and unleashed a victorious howl.
All three of the frightened souls in the upstairs study jumped as Nate’s howl reverberated through the walls. Toby’s heart sank as he turned toward the doorway. Why weren’t they hearing more gunfire?
He took a step toward the door, wanting to go make sure his dad was okay, but then took several steps back when a snarl came from the outside hallway.
Bruce leveled his shotgun at the room’s entrance. “You kids, get behind me.”
Toby was going to do more than just get behind Mr. Bennett. If a werewolf was coming in, they needed to find another way out. He quickly surveyed the room and hustled over to the nearest window.
Flipping the latch, he slid open the lower pane and punched out the screen. Looking at the hard-packed dirt below, his first thought was that it would be a long jump. They’d get out of the room easily enough, but would be easy prey after twisting a knee or blowing out an ankle.
Then Toby looked up. It was a far more promising option.
“I think I can reach the roof,” he said, ducking his head back inside.
Before anyone could respond, Nate burst through the door. The sound of Bruce’s gun blast immediately filled the room and blood splattered the study wall. The creature collapsed right in front of the doorway, its chest left bloody and ragged from the shotgun’s powerful slug.
Toby eyed the wounded beast. If the group could climb over it, they’d be able to get back downstairs, but there was no way to tell how injured the monster really was. Toby had no intentions of getting close enough to find out. He glanced over at Rachel who seemed to be thinking the same thing.
“Roof sounds good,” she said.
Toby quickly shrugged off his jacket and dropped it to the floor, then climbed onto the windowsill. He steadied himself, getting a good grip on the outside of the frame, then leaned his body outside the window and stood up, all the while trying not to look down.
About a foot above his head was a copper gutter that ran the length of the house, a choice Mr. Bennett had possibly made to give his cabin a more rustic, historical appearance. Toby was just glad it looked sturdy. He reached up with one arm, pushing off his toes, and gave the gutter a good tug. It held. Determined not to let doubt set in, he hurriedly crouched down and took a deep breath.
Leaping up and to his right, Toby grabbed the gutter and pulled. Using his body’s momentum, he swung his right leg onto the roof’s slate shingles. It landed and stuck, but only for a moment. The shingle below his sneaker suddenly gave way, and the next thing Toby knew, he was swinging back past the window.
“Toby!” he heard Rachel call out from inside.
He held tight as his momentum swung him to his left. His upper arms burning, he frantically kicked his left foot onto the shingles. Everything stayed put this time. Grunting and panting with the effort, Toby strained to pull himself up over the gutter and then rolled onto the roof.
Seeing that Toby had found his way safety, Rachel turned away from the window briefly to watch Bruce cautiously approach Nate and poke the werewolf with the barrel of his shotgun.
“Think I killed the bastard,” Rachel heard him mumble.
Her eyes moved to the creature. The intense prickling she felt spreading throughout her body, which she’d come to recognize as some sort of werewolf sixth sense, told her something different. Things in this room were about to take a turn for the worse. She wanted out of there before they did. Rachel spun around and stepped up onto the windowsill.
“Hey,” Bruce called out to her. “I said I think I killed the bast—”
The werewolf jerked its head up and chomped down on the plant owner’s upper right arm. Then, in the blink of an eye, it tore the limb clear off. A shocking amount of blood spilled from the wound. Tossing the appendage aside, the beast knocked its stunned victim to the floor and completed its assault by splitting open Bruce’s chest with its five-inch claws.
Lifting her other foot onto the windowsill, Rachel frantically reached into the air. Not feeling any hands grabbing hers, she looked up for Toby, but he was nowhere to be found.
His head and shoulders suddenly emerged, and he quickly stretched an arm toward her. “C’mon. Grab my hand.”
Rachel reached up again, and Toby grasped her wrist. She wrapped both of her hands around his and held on tight.
Glancing back inside the room, she saw Nate gnawing on Bruce’s head like it was a chew toy. The creature peered up to notice her hanging outside the window, and they locked eyes. She felt like bait dangling there, and apparently looked like it too. Having polished off its original target, the werewolf released the slaughtered Mr. Bennett and took a step toward her.
“Grab the gutter,” Toby grunted. “You need to pull too.”
Rachel looked up to see he was starting to slide off the roof. She quickly let go with one of her hands and grasped the copper gutter, straining to lift herself as Toby pulled her up by her other arm. Her torso had just cleared the roof’s edge when she heard the werewolf’s heavy paws trotting across the study’s hardwood floor.
It was coming for her.
A sudden explosion of knotty pine paneling, wood window framing, and Owens Corning showered Rachel as the werewolf broke through the window and part of the second-story wall. As she was hoisted upward, she caught a glimpse of the creature through all the debris, seeing it snap at her heels and just barely miss. Then she saw the sky as Toby grabbed her by the belt and rolled her over his body and onto the roof.
“It was going to kill me,” Rachel said between jagged gasps. “Whoever that thing is, it was definitely going to—”
“I know.” Toby’s pulse roared in his ears as he lay next to the freshly made crater in the lodge’s roof and second-story wall. According to Bimisi Chochopi, the Shaman hadn’t attacked Rachel because she wasn’t among his sworn enemies. Nate and Willard didn’t appear to have the same ability to discriminate. At least Toby hoped that was the case. Otherwise, one of his best friends had just knowingly tried to bite Rachel and him in half.
Toby maneuvered his way around busted timber and plaster, inching his way towards the roof’s edge. In the yard below, he saw what he assumed was Nate, or possibly Willard, glaring up at him with those luminous yellow eyes. The stare down only lasted a few seconds.
With an aggravated snarl, the werewolf turned and loped off into the forest.”
James is the author of The One You Feed, Something Wiccan, and The Agreement – the first three books of the Out of the Dark series. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his wife Angela and two cats named Tim and Ruby. During the day James is a Senior Instructional Designer for an e-learning development company. A Graphics Designer at the company, Wojtek Batko, designs the covers for James’ books.