The Rougarou

📅 Published on July 24, 2022

“The Rougarou”

Written by J.C. Fields
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 26 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Shorty Small, a man neither short nor small, sat in the far corner of the coffee shop, his back to a wall. He was, for a change, the first one to arrive for a hastily arranged meeting with Homer LaCroix. With a half empty mug of coffee and the powdered sugar remains of two beignets, he watched with amusement as Homer burst through the door. Normally, Shorty arrived late to these meetings after Homer chose the table. Not today.

“How’d you get here so fast, Shorty?”

“New Orleans Hoodoo.”

“That’s not funny, particularly today. Did you eat my beignet?”

“I was hungry and you were late.”

LaCroix looked around for a waitress and motioned for a cup of coffee. When she arrived and place the mug in front of him, he asked. “Would you be a luv and bring me one of those luscious beignets and put it on Shorty’s bill?”

“Sure, hon. But Shorty’s already settled his, I’ll start one for you.” She hurried away.

Small smiled and waited until LaCroix had taken a bite of his beignet before he asked, “It’s time for you to tell me what the gawddamn emergency is, Homer?”

With a mouthful of powdered sugar and pastry, LaCroix shook his head and held up his hand. After a quick swallow, he said, “Damn, Shorty, couldn’t you have at least waited until I had a chance to enjoy it?”

“No.”

With blank eyes, Small stared at his contact from the Tourism Board. “What the hell was so important you dragged me down here at this ungodly hour.”

“It’s nine in the morning, Shorty. Half the day is gone.”

“Not in Shorty Small’s world.”

“Okay.” He took another bite of his beignet. “You ever heard of a lycanthrope?”

Small shook his head.

“Didn’t think so. You ever hear of a werewolf?”

With a roll of his eyes, Small groaned. “Homer, not this shit again?”

“Heh-yup.”

Burying his head in his hands, Small remained silent for a moment. “I asked for this when I agreed to move to New Orleans, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Are you going to tell me what a lycanthrope is?”

“That’s the plan.”

Taking a sip of his coffee, Small grimaced. “Wait, I’ve gotta have a warm up.”

Five minutes later as Small sipped hot coffee and LaCroix sat in front of him with his hands clasped, he said, “What do ya think, Shorty?”

“I think everyone in this damn town is certifiably crazy.”

“Doesn’t negate the fact we have a mutilated body found in the swamp.”

“Sounds like a job for the police.”

“One would think so, but they’re saying it’s a gator.”

Small rolled his eyes. “A gator would have dragged it to the bottom of the swamp and let it tenderize.”

“Exactly.”

“So, they’re blowing it off, like usual.”

“They are.”

Taking a deep breath, Small asked. “What does the Tourism Board want?”

“Glad you asked. They want you to find the lycanthrope and destroy it.”

“I don’t even know what a lycanthrope looks like.”

LaCroix sipped coffee. “It’s a werewolf with superpowers.”

All Small could do was shake his head and say, “Geeeeezz, not this shit again.”

***

Claire Honoré smiled and leaned against the entrance to the third floor of her building. She watched as the big man measured a two by four twice before pulling the trigger on a circular saw to make a cut. When the saw’s noise subsided, she said, “Why did you measure the board twice?”

Shorty turned. “Something, my uncle taught me when I was young. Measure twice and cut once.”

She moved closer to him and surveyed his work on the remodel. “You’ve made a lot of progress in the past week. It’s starting to look like an apartment.”

“Couple more weeks and you won’t recognize the place.”

Her expression grew serious, “What did Homer want?”

“The powers that be want me to look into something.”

“Every time the Tourism Board wants you to look into something, it’s because nobody else will. What is it this time?”

“What’s a lycanthrope?”

Her eyes widened. “Shorty, I forbid you to do so. You’ll be killed.”

Rolling his eyes, the big man took her into an embrace. “I’m sure nothing is going to happen, Claire. It’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo about a New Orleans mythological creature. Besides, I’m being offered twenty thousand to check it out.”

She placed her head on his chest. After a sigh, she looked up at him. “They are not myths. You’ve heard of a werewolf, right?”

“Oh, good grief.”

She broke from his embrace and glared at him as she folded her arms. “Well, have you?”

“Not since I was a kid and had the crap scared out of me when I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. turn into a wolf man in an old movie on TV.”

She nodded. “The Wolfman, I saw it too. That was a werewolf. A legend from Europe.”

“Okay, so what’s a lycanthrope?”

“We call it Rougarou here in New Orleans. They are smarter, stronger and harder to kill than a mere werewolf.”

Small again rolled his eyes, shook his head and walked back to the saw horses he used as a work station. “Claire, don’t tell me you believe all this claptrap? They’re merely stories to scare little children into behaving.”

“How many nights have you spent in the bayou?”

“None.”

“Then you’ve never heard a howl that is not of man, dog or coyote. There are no wolves in the bayou, but the sound it makes will pierce your soul. Witnesses describe it as half-man and half-dog standing erect on two legs, covered in hair with the face of a canine.”

“Claire, have you heard this, so called wolf-man?”

“Only once. My father and I were fishing one evening and stayed on the water too long.”

“And?”

“We heard its cry and my father’s eyes grew round as saucers and his head swiveled searching for the source. He told me to lie on the bottom of our skiff and not make a sound. Then he paddled back to the dock as fast as he could. We only heard it once, but that was enough to scare him. He sold our small boat and we never went fishing in the bayou again.”

“Let me guess, there was a full moon.”

“Yes, there was. That’s the only time of the month my father would fish at night.”

“So, like a werewolf, the full moon supposedly brings them out?”

She shook her head. “No, I’m not an expert, but I’ve heard that’s not the case.”

“So, who could answer my questions.”

“Why not talk to Dr. Fowler at Tulane.”

***

Carmen Fowler, PhD in anthropology at Tulane University and a self-proclaimed student of New Orleans history, smiled as Shorty Small appeared in the open door of her office. “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Shorty. What’s it been, four months since our last visit?”

“Yes, ma’am, at least. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.”

“I enjoyed our last conversation. Did you take care of your walking stick problem?”

“Uh, let’s say it’s no longer an issue.”

“Good, come sit with me at my table, we can talk.” They settled across from each other and she continued. “What’s on your mind today?”

“I need to know as much as possible about something called a Rougarou.”

“Tourism Board again?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, the legend dates back to the 16th century and appears in Medieval French folklore under the name Loup-Garou. Loup is the French word for wolf and garou roughly translates to man. The word became mangled and is now referred to as Rougarou by local Cajuns.

“The creature supposedly stalks its prey in the fields, forests and bayou’s throughout Acadiana and the Greater New Orleans area.”

“What is Acadiana?”

“It’s the region of southern most Louisiana, of which New Orleans is a major population center.”

“First time I’ve heard it identified that way.”

She chuckled. “I’m not surprised. This part of the state is full of legends and monsters. The Native Americans around here recognize the Rougarou as a sacred being who is in harmony with the energies of Mother Earth.”

“Huh.” He paused. “What does it supposedly look like?”

The professor stood and went to one of the many book shelves in her office. She found the object she sought and returned to her small conference table. She opened the volume to a marked page and turned it around so he could view the picture. “This is a common depiction of the creature.”

“Huh.” Small studied the portrait. “Looks like all the pictures I’ve seen of werewolves.”

“Yes, with some subtle differences.”

“Such as?”

“The body appears more human and stands on two legs. Shaggy brown or black hair covers the body and the head is said to be more canine with a long snout. Plus, they stand seven to eight feet in height. The elongated snout is full of razor-sharp teeth and some accounts claim they have four toes on their feet, like a wolf.”

Small picked up the book to study the picture closer. “Do they only eat humans?”

She chuckled. “No, they have a ravenous appetite for raw flesh. Goats, cows, horses, and even swamp rats are fair game.”

He laid the book down. “What does the legend say about how a human becomes a Rougarou?”

“Depends on who you talk to. If you talk to Catholics, you become a Rougarou if a man does not celebrate Lent for seven straight years.” She displayed a wide grin.

“Okay, I got it. Go to church or you become a Rougarou.”

She nodded.

“What else?”

“It is said that the curse can be passed on to the third child of an afflicted man. The beast can change at will and not necessarily on a full moon. But there are numerous variations of the story. My favorite is if a man angers a Native American shaman by abusing the bayou and using the swamps for his own personal gain, then the shaman will put a curse on that person.”

“How is the curse reversed?”

“The legends say, if a man were to draw the blood of a Rougarou, say with a knife, the site of its own blood would break the spell. But this would be a perilous method. We are told the creature possesses supernatural strength and speed.”

“Great. What else?”

“They are terrified of flames.”

“Anything else?”

“Decapitating the creature is said to kill it.”

“If you can catch it.”

“There is that, Shorty.”

He stood. “So, if there is such a creature, I would find it in the bayou?”

“Yes. At night.”

“Only at night?”

She nodded.

“Uh, I’ve never been in the bayou.”

“Find a guide. Otherwise, you’ll never find your way out.”

“That’s not something I want to do. Know anyone?”

She handed him a business card. “Yes, he’s, my cousin. You two should get along well.”

***

Off a major highway south of New Orleans, Small turned his Ford Escape onto a twisting gravel road designed to avoid the numerous pockets of open water in the area. Following his GPS, he soon arrived at an older structure built ten feet off the ground with the use of solid wood pillars. Numerous docks floated in the open water behind. The building, with weathered cypress siding possessed a sign to the left of the front door proclaiming it the home of Bayou Adventures. After placing the SUV in park, he stepped out and saw an elderly man making his way toward the parking area. As he grew closer, the man waved and said, “You Shorty Small?”

“Yes.”

Henri Dumont shook the hand of the big man. “Your parents picked the name when you were a baby, didn’t they?”

“No one can pronounce my first name, so I go by Shorty.”

“My over educated cousin said you had a job for me.”

“Depends. What do you charge for a night on the bayou?”

“Fishing?”

“More like hunting.”

“Huh.” He narrowed his eyes and studied Small for a few moments. “What ya huntin?”

“Rougarou.”

Dumont laughed out loud. “Didn’t figure you to be a tourist.”

“I’m not. How much per night?”

“The Rougarou is a myth. Only tourist want to find them.”

“But you know they exist, don’t you?”

“Didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to.”

Dumont turned his head, leaned over and spit a brownish wad of something onto the ground. “She said you was quick.”

“Did she also tell you I work for the Tourism Board?”

Dumont tucked his thumbs in the suspender straps of his faded denim overalls. “She might have mentioned something along those lines.” He paused for a moment. “How much they payin ya?”

“Enough.”

“Okay. Five hundred a night.”

“Four.”

Dumont tilted his head and closed one eye as he studied Small. “Four and a half, plus we only stay out from dark till two in the morning.”

“Deal. When do we start?”

“That’s up to you.”

Small looked around and then returned his attention to the wafer-thin Cajun. “What do I need?”

“Long pants and shirt, plus a ton of bug spray.”

“Tomorrow night.”

“Be here at seven.”

***

The sun barely showed above the western horizon as Shorty Small and Henri Dumont sped across an open span of water in Bayou Perot. Small sat in the front of the airboat, with Dumont steering. Having turned his Chicago Cubs ball cap backward, the wind felt good after a long hot and humid day. Talking with the Cajun behind him remained impossible as the aircraft engine propelled them along at fifty miles per hour. Dumont slowed the boat as they approached a swamp. Bald Cypress and Tupelo trees could be seen crowded together as the light faded and they neared the swamp’s edge.

Dumont said, “Once we get into the trees, keep your eyes open for gators. Their eyes will reflect the light from the Waxing Gibbous moon.”

“The what?”

“Almost full moon.”

“Got it.”

Small held a Remington 1100 with both hands. The shotgun rested on his lap as he searched the murky water for signs of life. Dumont shut off the engine and they drifted in silence. The sound of cicadas dominated the background noise broken only by the screech of birds and the growl of an alligator far off in the distance.

The moon played hide and seek through the canopy of leaves overhead as the flatbottom boat drifted in the still water.

Dumont whispered. “Did you hear it?”

“The gator?”

“Yeah. It’s off to our right, about a hundred yards.”

“I won’t ask how you know.”

With a chuckle, Dumont lowered the boat’s electric trolling motor into the murky water and slowly maneuvered the craft between the swollen roots of the surrounding trees. Occasionally he would switch it off and let the boat drift. Moonlight bathed the area in a surreal glow creating a world of various shades of gray. Small swiveled his head searching for movement. He saw none.

This was the pattern Dumont followed for the next several hours. Use the trolling motor for a few hundred yards and then allow the flat bottom boat to drift for a while. The quietness of the small motor allowed the men to hear the natural sounds emanating from the surreal backdrop.

Neither spoke during this period. Small’s past life trained him to be still as he tracked his marks. Dumont’s life as a guide through the bayou instilling a need for silence.

Dumont said in a whisper. “Damn you’re a quiet man. I’ve never had anyone in this boat that hasn’t been nervous and a constant talker.”

“Nothing to say.”

“I appreciate it…”

Off in the distance, its direction masked by echoes bouncing off nearby trees, a lonesome howl filled the air. Small swiveled his head again trying to locate the direction. Less than a minute later, they heard it again.

Small pointed to their right. “What’s that way?”

“More swamp.”

“Can you move us in that direction?”

“I can, but it won’t be there when we arrive. Besides, that was a coyote.”

“Didn’t sound like any coyote I’ve ever heard.”

“Right. You being from Chicago know what coyotes sound like.”

“Grew up in cattle country out west. Learned how to shoot by hunting coyotes from the bed of a moving pick-up.”

“Were you any good?”

“I held my own.”

Dumont used the small electric motor to steer the airboat in the direction of the sound. After a few minutes passed he stopped and listened to the noise emanating from the swamp. The boat remained perfectly still in the calm waters. The scent of rotting flesh attacked their noses. Dumont spoke in a soft voice. “Something big died here.”

Small nodded, his concentration on a moving dark shadow fifty yards in front of them. In a soft tone, he asked.  “You got a flash light?”

“Got something better.” He handed Small a portable spotlight plugged into an auxiliary power outlet on the boats helm. “Wait till I get my shotgun ready. Light it up when I say go.”

Holding the spotlight out at arm’s length away from the boat, Small waited for Dumont’s signal.

“Now.”

The powerful beam swept the bank in question and the two men saw the half-devoured torso of another human. Bent over and tearing at the carcass they saw the creature responsible for the man’s demise. Turning toward them, it’s eyes glowed bright red in the light. With a snarl, it reared back on hind legs, bared its bloody fangs and let out an unearthly howl.

Dumont’s shotgun roared as Small positioned the spotlight so he could use his own weapon. By the time he accomplished the task, the creature had vanished into the darkness of the wetlands.

“Did you hit it?”

“Don’t know, Shorty. Never seen anything like that.” The scream of a wounded animal could be heard retreating from their position. “Kinda sounds like I did.”

Small gave Dumont a grim smile. “That was not a coyote.”

***

By the time first responders reached the scene, the first hints of dawn lightened the eastern sky. Both Dumont and Small decided staying close to the body would be the only way they would ever know who the victim might be.

“What were you two doing out here last night?”

Dumont smiled at Orleans Parish Deputy Sheriff Billy Denis. “Gigging for flounder.”

The officer nodded as he looked over the interior of the airboat. “Doesn’t look like you had much luck.”

“No, sir.”

“What time did you find the body?”

Turning to the big man, Dumont asked. “Can you answer that one, Shorty?”

“Close to Midnight.”

The officer looked at the large man and tipped his hat back on his head. “You’re Shorty Small, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I thought so. Weren’t you the guy who caused all that trouble earlier this year about a so-called witch running around Bourbon Street?”

“Not sure what you’re talking about, deputy.” Small changed the subject. “Who was the victim?”

“He was one of your kind, Henri, a guide. You probably know him, Willy Johnson.”

Dumont frowned. “Willy disappeared a week ago, you think that was him?”

“Working theory.”

“Why?”

“Tattoo.”

“Willy had a big gator inked on his leg.”

“So did the body.”

“Damn. Not too many folks around here had a tattoo like Willy’s.”

Small asked. “No ID on the body, deputy?”

Denis shook his head. “None. We haven’t found the skull either.”

Dumont tilted his head. “What do you think did this, Billy?”

“Gator.”

Both Dumont and Small nodded.

***

By noon, Small had taken a quick nap and parked himself in front of a phone at the Tourism Board’s offices. With the knowledge gained from another chat with Dr. Fowler, he started calling local hospitals and urgent care facilities in the New Orleans area. According to the good doctor, the creature would now be in human form and wounded. If so, whoever the poor soul was, it might have sought treatment somewhere.

He called all of the hospitals and drew near the end of the urgent care list when he found a possibility.

“Orleans Parish Urgent Care, how can we help you?”

“Yes, this is Sargent Largess with the sheriff’s department. We’re looking for a possible gunshot wound victim. They would have come in sometime this morning”

“Let me check, Sargent.”

Small heard long fingernails clicking on a keyboard. “Ah, yes, here we are. I thought it sounded familiar. We had a white male, age thirty-nine arrive this morning at six-fifteen. Multiple shotgun pellets imbedded in his left shoulder.”

“Did he say how he got the wound?”

“Said he was preparing to clean a shotgun and it accidently went off. He was lucky, a few inches to the right and the outcome would have been different.”

“Did your clinic report this to the police?”

“Uh…let me see. Yes, we filed the proper paperwork with the NOPD.”

“Huh. We haven’t received a copy, yet. Can you tell me the man’s name and address?”

She did.

“Thank you, Ms.—uh, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Missy Clark.”

“Thank you, Ms. Clark. I appreciate your helpfulness.”

Replacing the receiver in the phone’s cradle, Small stood and headed for his SUV. Using the GPS function on his cell phone, he drove by the location given to the clinic. The address turned out to be a vacant lot between two newly renovated homes in the Hurricane Katrina devastated lower Ninth Ward. He stopped and took a picture of the lot with his cell phone and headed back to the apartment he shared with Claire Honoré.

***

Two Days Later

Henri Dumont listened to Shorty Small’s summary of the past two days. When he finished the Cajun hooked his thumbs into the front suspenders of his bib overalls, turned his head and spat out a wad of tobacco. “Damn, son. You’ve been busy.”

The retired hitman only nodded.

“So, you think this person’s name is Mark Pitre?”

“I think there’s a strong possibility he’s our rougarou.”

“Because he’s half-Choctaw and half-Cajun?”

“And he used to live at the address in the ninth ward that’s now a vacant field.”

“Aren’t you kinda stretching the facts a bit, Shorty.”

“Your cousin, Dr. Fowler, found a reference to him being a registered shaman.”

“That don’t mean he’s a rougarou.”

“No, but there is no record of him having a permanent address in New Orleans anymore.”

“Maybe he doesn’t live here now.”

“Then why does someone pick up his mail on a weekly basis at a P.O. box in the ninth ward?”

“How do you know that?”

“Because here’s an image from the security camera at the Post Office showing a man doing so.” Small offered a grainy black and white photo of a man opening a box. The time stamp on the picture read 9:34 p.m.

“Huh. You sure you ain’t a detective from Chicago?”

“Positive.”

“Kind of hard to tell what he looks like from this photo.”

“I agree, but it’s the only one I could find. And no one from his neighborhood has seen him since Hurricane Katrina. Two of them told me the man in the picture resembles Mark.”

“Katrina was a long time ago, Shorty.”

“I’m aware of that, Henri.”

“Okay, I’d have to agree, he sounds like a good candidate.” Dumont paused for a moment and stuck another chew in his mouth. “So, what now?”

“We go back into the bayou tonight.”

“I was afraid you’d say that, my price went up to five hundred a day.”

***

For five nights, their efforts to locate the rougarou again were met with no new signs of the creature. Dumont guided the two through the swamp choosing different locations each night. Weary and tired from staying out till two a.m., Small called a halt to their efforts.

The next morning, he lay in bed, his hands behind his head staring at the ceiling. Claire appeared in the bedroom and placed a cup of coffee next to him on his night stand. “You look tired.”

“Frustrated more than anything.”

“Maybe you two are looking in the wrong place.”

“The thought has occurred to me.”

She sat on the edge of the bed next to him. Her loose robe gapped open, exposing bare skin to his gaze. A smile came to his lips.

She sipped on her cup of coffee. “I saw a reporter on the late news last night talking about cattle being found dead north of New Orleans. They think a wolf may be responsible.”

With a raised eyebrow, Small’s attention turned to her eyes not her breasts. “Exactly, where did this occur?”

“North of here, near Covington.”

“How far is Covington from New Orleans?”

“About an hour or less north over the Causeway.”

“Huh.” His attention returning to her open robe. “I’ve got an idea.” He slipped the robe off her shoulders and drew her into an embrace.

***

The drive over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge in the United States, took close to twenty-five minutes. He arrived at the ranch where the mutilated cattle were discovered around noon. After identifying himself with a business card as a consultant for the Tourism Board, he asked the rancher to show him where the incident occurred.

Hugh Bailey, a man in his early sixties studied the business card and then asked, “Shorty Small, huh. You don’t look anything like your name.”

“I’ve been told that.”

“Why’s the New Orleans Tourism Board interested in a wolf attack here in Saint Tammany Parish?”

In a slight variation of the truth, Small said, “There has been a similar attack by what is suspected to be a wolf out in the bayou. I’ve been asked to see if the attacks on your herd could be by the same animal.”

“We don’t get many wolves in this here part of the world. How you gonna determine if it is?”

“Before I moved here, I lived in Montana, I’ve tracked many a wolf in my day.”

“Well, if you can figure this out, more power to ya. We’ll take my pickup.”

Fifteen minutes later, Small knelt by the spot where the rancher said he found the slaughtered cow.”

Looking up, the big man asked. “How many?”

“What do you mean, how many?”

“How many other head of cattle have you lost?”

Bailey grew quiet as he stared at the ground. “Uh, this will be the fifth.”

“Over how long a period?”

“A little under a year.” He paused and returned his attention to Small. “Haven’t had an incident in a long time. I was losing one a month, but they stopped and I didn’t report it. After this one, I finally got tired of it and called the sheriff.”

Small pointed to a four toed track. “See that?”

“Yeah.”

“Wolf track.”

“How can you tell?”

“Four toes. This one is a rear paw track.” He failed to mention to Hugh Bailey that there were only two paw prints instead of four.

***

Homer LaCroix stared at Small with wide eyes. “You’re kidding me, right?”

“Wish I was, Homer.”

“Thought you were the one who said everyone in New Orleans was certifiably crazy?”

“They are, but there is a rougarou running around the bayou. It’s been up in St. Tammany Parish as well.”

“What are you gonna do about it?”

“Nothing. You guys asked me to look into it. I did and can now report back to you that I found evidence of a wolf like creature.”

“The agreement was for you to get rid of it.”

“Not for twenty grand. I’ve had to hire a guide. He’s not cheap by the way. Do they want something more done?”

LaCroix nodded.

“Then they’re gonna have to belly up to the bar and get serious with their offer.”

“What’s it gonna take, Shorty?”

“Another thirty for me and twenty for my guide.”

“Fifty thousand?”

Small nodded.

“I can’t authorize that. I’ll have to check with the board.”

Small stood. “You do that and let me know.” He walked out of the small café leaving LaCroix to pay the lunch tab.”

***

Henri Dumont raised an eyebrow and studied Small. “You offering me twenty thousand dollars to help you get rid of this rougarou?”

“I’m not offering it. The Tourism Board is.”

“Same thing.” He paused and spat a glob of brown liquid to the side. “What are you getting paid?”

“Same.”

“Bullshit.”

The big man, shrugged.

“Never made that much money all at once. Taxes will be hell.”

“Cash, Henri.”

“Oh, that makes a huge difference.”

“Ah, yeah.”

“Okay, what’s your plan?”

“I need to talk with your cousin, first.”

Two hours later, Small sat at the small conference table in Dr. Carmen Fowler’s office. “You’re telling me you think you’ve found a real lycanthrope?”

“Only explanation I can come up with.”

“Tell me the details.”

He did. When he finished summarizing his findings, the professor pursed her lips and remained quiet. Finally, she said. “My intellectual side tells me there has to be another explanation. However, your evidence suggests only one conclusion.”

“I know. I find it hard to accept myself.”

“What do you need from me?”

“How do I stop the damn thing?”

She stood and once again went to her bookshelf. Finding the same volume used the last time Small visited, she placed it on the table. With a practiced hand, she opened the book and flipped through several pages. After finding the correct spot, she said, “Without going into a lot of detail, Shorty, you need to seek a Gypsy’s help.”

With a frown, Small tilted his head. “Gypsies. What the hell for?”

With a calming smile, Dr. Fowler continued. “There are still gypsy encampments scattered throughout the bayou here in southern Louisiana. Seek out the largest one and talk to the wise woman of the encampment. They are known as Puridai. They will help you.” She paused. “For a price.”

“Figures. How do I find them?”

“My cousin Henri will know where this camp is located.”

“How much?”

She shrugged. “Only the Puridai will be able to tell you.”

***

“She said that?”

“She did.”

“Damn, Gypsies make me nervous, particularly the ones she mentioned.”

“Why?”

“Well…”

“You’re not gonna tell me you’re scared of them, are you?”

“No.” He paused for a second and looked at Small. “You ever been around them?”

The big man shook his head.

“I guess they’re nice enough, but…”

“Henri, they’re of Romanian descent. Some groups travel around the country going where the work is. Since there is still a lot of construction going on in New Orleans, it makes sense large groups are here. Just because they have different beliefs and traditions doesn’t make them scary. Your cousin said they can help us. Do you know where this large camp is?”

He nodded.

“Well, then for twenty thousand dollars in cash, suck up your concerns and take me there.”

***

The camp resembled a small village with framed buildings and a population of forty souls. Situated on a large island surrounded by swamp, the arrival of Shorty Small and Henri Dumont brought the equivalent of a mayor out to meet them.

After introductions, the small statured woman stared up at Shorty with a tilted head. “Where did your ancestors hail from, Mr. Small?”

“I’m told Norway on my mother’s side.”

The woman who introduced herself as Adriana Nica, nodded. “And your father?”

The large man shrugged. “Never met him. My mother and I lived with her brother and his family.”

“Let me see your hand.”

With a slight smile, Shorty offered her his right hand. She examined it for a few minutes and then released it. “Why did you seek us out?”

“I was told you could help us deter the activities of a rougarou.”

The woman showed no surprise at the question. She looked up at Small and said, “You seek the one who roams our bayou?”

“We do.”

“Come, let us talk out of the sun.”

The small bungalow Adriana led them to, consisted of a living room, kitchen and bedroom. A breeze flowed through open windows creating a comfortable interior despite the warm, humid day. They sat on decorative pillows in the center of the larger area. She looked at Small and said, “You are a hunter.”

“Of sorts.”

She gave him a knowing smile. “Yes, of sorts. You come to ask my help to rid the swamp of this creature who attacks men and beasts.”

“I was told you know how to kill the rougarou.”

She nodded once.

“Will you tell me?”

“First let me ask you why you wish to kill it?”

“I’ve been asked to.”

“Has it wronged you or one of your kin?”

“No, but it killed a friend of a friend.”

“Ahh.” She closed her eyes for a moment. When they opened, she smiled. “Then I will help you.”

“Madame Adriana, how long has the creature roamed this bayou?”

“We have been here for four years and we have heard it at least once a month since we arrived.”

“Has it ever attacked your camp?”

“Only once. It killed several of our dogs. Both of which were Mioritic Shepherds.”

Small raised an eyebrow. “I’m familiar with the breed. Large and excellent guard dogs.”

“Yes, the beast dispatched them with little effort. Afterwards, we took precautions.”

“Such as?”

“The Rougarou, despite its strength and size, has several weaknesses, fire and the harsh cry of a crow. We have used crows to protect our village ever since and have not been bothered by the rougarou again.”

“Can a silver bullet kill it?”

She chuckled. “You are confusing our Cajun version of the beast with a werewolf from Europe. Rumors say it can, but the only definite way to kill the beast is to behead it and burn the body. Afterwards, the ashes must be scattered so it cannot regenerate.”

With a frown, Small stayed silent for a few moments. “That seems a bit extreme.”

“It is an extreme beast.” She took a deep breath. “Normally, a rougarou will be cursed for one hundred and one days and then return to normal. However, if the beast consumes human flesh within those hundred and one days, it is doomed to be a rougarou for eternity. Killing it would actually release the victim from his curse.”

Dumont started to ask a question, but hesitated, returning to silence. Adriana noticed and asked, “You have a question, Mr. Dumont.”

“Yes, ma’am. Do you know where the beast lives?”

“No, we try to avoid contact with it.” She returned her attention to Small.

He asked. “How much do you require to help us?”

“That would depend on the help you seek?”

“Obviously, you have learned how to keep the beast away.  So, you probably know how to attract it.”

“Be careful of what you ask for, Mr. Small. Inviting a Rougarou to attack you could result in several outcomes. None of which are in your best interest.”

“Such as?”

“If you are attacked, bitten and survive, you would carry the curse yourself. If you do not survive, you will be devoured. You must remember, the creature has superhuman strength while in the form of the beast.”

“If I behead the beast, will it die?”

She nodded. “You would also need to burn the body. Immediately.”

“You mentioned that, Madame Adriana. How much will you require to help us?”

“I can make a potion to attract it. The potion will cost you one thousand dollars.”

“When can you have it prepared?”

“When can you have the money?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Make it the day after. The moon will be full.”

On the journey back to Dumont’s dock, the two men remained silent, not discussing the conversation with the Gypsy woman. As the Cajun guide eased the airboat into its berth, he shut off the engine and said, “I hope you have a plan, Shorty.”

“I do.”

“Hopefully, I’m not part of it.”

“If you want your twenty thousand you are.”

“Damn.”

***

Forty-eight hours later, as the sun disappeared into the western horizon, Small and Dumont finished loading the equipment needed to set their trap. The bait would be a live goat with some of the potion smeared on its back. The small animal would be tethered to a bald cypress tree on a narrow spot of solid ground a mile from the Gypsy settlement.

Both men wore a sachet bag of angelica root, sage and laurel dangling from a lanyard around their neck. According to Adrianna, the herbs were gathered during the moons waxing phase. The only time they could be harvested to effectively ward off the rougarou.

The final item needed had been obtained from a Louisiana volunteer fire fighter. A flamethrower used to start backfires. The firefighter happened to be a nephew of Henri Dumont.

With all the necessary supplies loaded in the airboat, the two intrepid lycanthrope hunters set out as the full moon rose in the east.

When they entered the bayou, the Cajun shut down the main engine and let the airboat drift for a while. Dumont, still not one hundred percent in favor of the idea, said, “Before I turn on the trolling motor, I’m gonna try to talk you out of this stunt one more time, Shorty.”

“Go for it.”

“You sure this is a smart idea?”

“No. But I’ve never been accused of being smart.”

“What if it doesn’t show up?”

“It will.”

“Your confidence is overwhelming.”

Although, Dumont could not see it, Small displayed a grin. “Relax, Henri. You’ve got the easy job, the flamethrower. I’ve got the job of beheading it.”

“I still don’t understand how you’re planning to do that.”

“I guess you’ll have to watch.”

“That’s what makes me nervous.”

Off in the distance, a lone howl they associated with the creature could be heard. Small pointed toward the interior of the bayou. “Let’s head that way.”

With the silent trolling motor pushing the flat bottom boat, Dumont steered it deep into the swamp. They heard the cry two more times, with each sounding closer than the previous incident.

The full moon created long and sinister shadows on the monochrome landscape. Small concentrated on the area ahead of them as the boat moved at a steady three miles per hour. A thrashing of water could be heard to their right and all the night creature noises went silent. The roar of a gator off in the distance was followed immediately by the now familiar cry of the rougarou.

Dumont whispered, “Think the gator got him?”

Small held up his hand. “Shhh.”

Swamp sounds returned.

A noise to their right caused Small to point his shotgun in its direction. Red glowing eyes stared back at him. The growl of a wounded animal met their ears. This caused the goat they brought for bait to start screeching. Suddenly, the rougarou charged their position. Small pulled the trigger on the semi-automatic shotgun three times. Knowing the slugs had hit their mark, the creature continued to charge. Small yelled. “Change of plans, get us out of here.”

With the fan at full speed, Dumont swung the airboat around and Small pushed the goat out as they sped away. Looking behind them, he saw the creature capture the small animal. Not wishing to watch any further, he faced forward.

***

The Next Day

Dumont sipped coffee as he watched Small sharpen a twenty-nine-inch-long machete. “Even after last night, you’re still hell-bent on catching this rougarou, aren’t you, Shorty?”

“More so now than last night.”

“Why?”

Small stopped working on the machete and focused on Dumont. “Because I now know how to kill it.”

After taking another sip of his coffee, the Cajun narrowed his eyes. “What’d you see last night?”

“An opening.”

“Want to share what you saw?”

The big man shook his head. “I have to do this alone, Henri.”

“While I appreciate, you’re thinking of my safety,” He paused, “Are you crazy?”

“No. What I have failed to consider is this creature is still a man. And thus, he is subject to certain urges.”

With a roll of his eyes, Dumont folded his arms. “What’re you gonna do, find a female rougarou for him?”

With a chuckle, Small returned to sharpening his machete. “Not what I had in mind. He failed to get us last night. He’s going to be pissed about it and when I give him another chance, he’ll take the bait.”

“Won’t he be more aggressive?”

Looking up from his work, Small smiled. “Exactly. I’m counting on it.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Teach me how to drive an airboat.”

***

Instead of entering the bayou at night, Small slipped into the swamp around five in the afternoon. Using the quiet electric trolling motor to steer the flat bottom boat, he guided it to a small island he spotted the previous night. Before unloading his equipment, he attached a collar to a goat and hooked it on the end of a steel cable. Running the cable along the ground he wrapped it around the exposed roots of a bald cypress tree and secured it. Taking the remaining potion acquired from Madam Adriana, he rubbed it on the goats back.  With this accomplished and his equipment unloaded, he moved the airboat to the opposite end of the island and tied it to a tupelo tree. When he walked back to the spot where the goat stood, it appeared calm, munching on the undergrowth of the land. For the better part of the next hour, Shorty Small set up his trap.

When finished, using rope included with his equipment, he climbed the tree above where the goat lay taking a nap.

Then, like he had done for twenty years as a hitman, he settled in, waiting for his mark.

Nightfall came and the moon still appeared full. The landscape took on the eerie shadows of the previous evening. Cicada song once again filled the air and birds called and cackled at random intervals. The roar of several gators could be heard off in the distance.

Shorty Small’s concentration did not waver. Using a particularly strong limb he stretched out to wait. He could remember many less comfortable vigils. According to his internal clock and the position of the moon, he guessed the time to be approaching midnight when he heard off in the distance the thrashing and splashing of something moving rapidly through the bayou.

As the sound grew closer, he tightened his grip on the machete and withdrew it from its leather sheath. Remaining perfectly still, he made no further noise.

The sound of the approaching creature vanished for a few minutes. However, Small could tell the goat sensed danger as it started testing the length of its tether and making noise.

A sound, Small would later describe as coming straight from the blackness of hell, broke the relative quiet of the surrounding area. A creature eight feet in height, pounced on the terrified goat.

Small, having anticipated this moment, stabilized himself on the limb and prepared for his attack. Timing would be key as he positioned himself over the ravaging beast as it tore the goat apart. Then, at the same time he jumped, the beast looked up and howled.

***

Dawn broke in the east as the fire slowly burned itself out. The stench emitted from the early inferno faded as the glow of the embers slowly died. Using a folding tactical shovel, Small gathered what ashes he could and fed them into the slow-moving water beside the island. Only one task needed to be accomplished when the last of the ashes disappeared into the murk of the brackish water. He needed to bury the severed head of the creature.

Once a suitable hole was dug, Small walked to where it had landed after his savage swipe with the razor-sharp machete. He had not looked at it since his plunge from the tree limb six hours prior. His concentration centered on using the commercial flame thrower to burn the body as completely as possible. Using a gloved hand, he picked up the severed member and looked at it. No longer did it appear to be a wolf or even a canine. The head was that of a tired old man whose face appeared to finally be at peace.

 

After covering the remains with a deep layer of dirt, Shorty Small returned his equipment to the airboat. Checking to make sure nothing remained of his adventure, he guided the craft away from the small island in the middle of the New Orleans Bayou.

As the island grew small in his rearview mirror, he noticed a drop of red on the toe of his left boot. With a frown, he raised his left hand and saw a gash just below his palm, blood slowly seeped from the one-inch wound.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by J.C. Fields
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: J.C. Fields


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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