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Expat Life

A werewolf In Cuenca

woman-moon_5298I landed on the shores of what is now Ecuador with Francisco Pizzaro and Hernando DeSoto in 1532. At that time, I was twenty-two years old and hoping to gain fame and great wealth. I believed by accompanying these men and the other soldiers into the interior of the country, my chances for success would be high.

On November 16, 1532, we engaged the Inca at the Battle of Cajamarca and planned to take their leader, Atahualpa, prisoner for a great ransom of silver, gold and jewels. Poor fortune discovered me in the engagement. I was knocked unconscious while fighting on the periphery of the battle field, an area with high grass and shrubs. Sometime later, I regained consciousness, but for moments. My head was in great pain and my cheek pressed into the mud, partially obscuring my face. I felt myself fainting again and had barely enough time to slake my thirst from a muddy, rain-filled paw print; the largest wolf track I had ever seen. Darkness had fallen. Under the light of the full moon, I saw men, casualties of battle, lying on and around me. They groaned in low, almost inaudible tones, trying to retain the last vestiges of life as it leaked from them.

When I came to again, it was still dark. The moon had moved across a good portion of the heavens and a light rain was falling. Cautiously, I again sought refreshment from the rain-filled wolf track adjacent to my swollen head.  Not knowing of our success or defeat against the natives, I lay still trying to assess my wounds and gather any strength remaining in my body after the bloody hand to hand combat.  I was quiet, fearing discovery by someone other than my own countrymen.  My head was swollen but not cut, apparently the result of a grazing blow from a stone headed war club.  Clearly, I had been left for dead. A few feet away, the bodies of three of our soldiers lay unmoving.  I studied their twisted and torn conditions.  They were all hideously mutilated in a way that was inconceivable to me.  I was stunned at the sight.  When I had regained consciousness hours earlier, they had been simply dirty and bloody in the moonlight, typical of soldiers who have received cut and blunt-force battle injuries.  Now, they were horribly mauled, their clothing and intestines ripped from their bodies.  I felt the darkness of lost consciousness settling over me again as I wondered why I wasn’t a victim of the terrible disfigurement the others had endured. A month later, I would know.

Early the following morning, I was discovered with the torn and lifeless bodies of my fellow conquistadores. While receiving some much needed food and water from my comrades, I learned we had been victorious in our battle. The Incan troops had withdrawn after many were killed and Atahualpa had been captured and imprisoned for a ransom of unbelievable wealth, as planned.  The ensuing weeks were difficult. We were low on supplies when we began our advance on Cuzco with 500 soldiers.

On December the 14, 28 days later, we made late afternoon preparations for our evening encampment.  A superior officer ordered me to find suitable grazing for our few horses.  We were camped along the southern spine of the Andes. Later in the evening, fires were banked as we established guards along the perimeter of our forces.  We were prepared for what would likely be fitful sleep.  We had no tents except for those few allocated to the officers so men sought level places to rest amongst the grasses of the páramos.  I fell asleep thinking of my share of the riches and dancing with beautiful women while drinking good wine.

I awoke with a start feeling itchy and hot under my thin shred of a blanket with an immediate need to relieve myself. Somehow, I didn’t feel the cold and damp which permeated the air. After wetting the ground, I wandered a distance from camp. I paused by one of the numerous mountain lagoons to wash the dirt of several days’ travel from my body. I undressed quickly, still feeling unusually warm. As I bent to touch the calm black waters, the full moon began to crest the eastern edge of the silhouetted Andes.

A heaving began in my chest as if it were inadequate to contain my pulsing heart and air-pumped lungs.  My conflicting emotions were fear and supreme confidence.  I looked at my hands as they doubled in size. Claws as big as stilettos sprang forth where fingernails had once occupied the same flesh.  I glanced at the water’s reflection. It revealed an unkempt mane of grey-black hair flowing from my head and back.  My jaws were studded with the yellowed and pronounced fangs of a huge wolf. My feet were expanding in size as I shuddered again, seeming to grow out of the body I had known for hardly two decades. “My God, my God,” I thought as I dared to glimpse the reflection again. “Oh my God, I am a werewolf, a wolfman.” I was overcome with but one desire.  I had killed men before, many of them, and all in the service of Charles V.  But, I had never wanted to kill them or found pleasure in their deaths.  Oh but now, OH NOW, I wanted to tear them apart, tear the limbs from their still quivering bodies.  And, it wasn’t just a lust for the blood of my country’s enemies, oh my God no!  It was a lust for human blood, for the blood of any man, woman or child.

I had no desire to be anything at that moment except the most extreme predator known in the entire mountainous region.  I had to be sated; my newfound appetite for killing was unmanageable.  I fell back against a large stone as a deafening howl uttered from my lips. Without remorse as to my thoughts, I set out through the low clouds that were beginning to shroud the mountain peaks from the north.  Huge clawed feet tore the grasses from the rocky soil as I raced like the wolf I was across the broken ground, spittle flying from bared fangs.

That was my first night to relish in the taking of another life and in doing so, to satisfy my swollen, cannibalistic desire for human flesh and blood. In one month , 483 years will have passed since the night I first became a lycanthrope, a man wolf, a killer of humans with a dreadful taste for their death cries and mutilated forms.

In the centuries that have passed, I’ve made my home in Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela.  I’ve been in Ecuador now for 63 years spending the last five of them in and near Cuenca.  My life has been a normal one, excepting my disease, lycanthropy.  My trade is a rather menial one, the taking up or letting out of seams is my daily practice. But I am skilled in all things and can begin other business with ease if the need is at hand.

If the results of my monthly sprees draw too great attention and questioning authorities begin to warm to my whereabouts, I simply close shop and move on. There is also a need to relocate fairly often  since my ageless appearance becomes an issue within a brief number of years.  It’s much less that way now as the populations have expanded so much; it’s far easier to maintain the anonymity of my disease.  Sometimes, I just move to the other side of a larger city. Obtaining the necessary documents for free travel throughout South America is “pan comida.” My years of experience in working the various systems has informed me. When questioned by acquaintances, I claim my age to be the 22 years I was when I first drank from the wolf track.  I still have the face and physique of that young man from very long ago.

When the lunar cycle nears its 28th day, I make few preparations for my transformation and the need it creates. After all, I’ve endured my physical changes and killed as a beast 5,795 times.  Now, I take only the lives of animals such as deer, llamas, sheep and alpacas during 11 of the lunar cycles that constitute the greater portion of a year’s passage of time.  It keeps me safer in my identity as the killings, if even noticed, are attributed to other circumstances, usually other animals.

However, each year, during the time when the full moon falls nearest November 2, I relinquish the carefully honed practices I’ve established to protect my identity as a werewolf.  As a beast, I am unable to complete 12 lunar cycles without satisfying my lust for the violent taking of human life. The celebration of Día de los Difuntos coincides annually with another holiday, All Souls Day.  Everyone celebrates the lives of their deceased friends and family members between October 31st and November 2nd. I can’t resist the irony that the death resulting from my killing of another, my snuffing out of their tenuous and short lived human existence, will be remembered and celebrated soon enough with the drinking of Colada Morada and the eating of Guaguas de Pan.  That’s if the full moon occurs sometime shortly prior to the 2nd. The blood will be hardly dry on my lips as a mother places a guagua by the newly purchased coffin, filled with the remains of her only daughters body, torn asunder by my paws.

The lunar cycle is almost complete and I must be about my preparations.  Tonight, the moon will rise full in the early evening sky of the Andean highlands.  It will rise far earlier than I like and there will not be adequate time for the thrill of the chase and the taste of the kill. I can’t risk the exposure and I can’t deny my physical cravings for longer than a few hours.

Knowing this, I have chosen my small departmento deep in El Centro as the place to begin my evening.  It’s on the lower, eastern end of Gaspar Sangurima, hidden away, walled and gated.

Disrobed and waiting for the few minutes before true moonrise, I’m agitated, nervous about my hunt. I know in minutes I’ll be drained of all emotions with the exception of an unbelievably powerful confidence in my every decision, my every movement.  I decide while I still can to take the first quarry I come across.

Out the door and through the gate, I’m already traveling on four paws.    Ninety seconds later, I’m concealed in a small parqueadero opening  on a corner street off Sangurima.  The late bus has just reached the crossing and a woman pauses alone on the graffiti-scarred corner to allow its passage.  She hears me and startled, quickly turns her head.  Her eyes find my glowing red orbs as I clear the calle in one leap. In a moment, she is down. Her silver plated necklace burns my lips as I tear past it, deep into her throat.  The event is loud and a couple of people run our way from the bus stop, a short ways down the calle.  I am but another shadow of the night though, my flowing mane of grey-black fur sees to that.  Melting away into the darkness as I pad quickly back to my dwelling, I touch an enormous paw to my still quivering and bloody lips.  Damn that  silver necklace, my lips were burned where it grazed them.

I’ve never been caught in almost six thousand kills of which over 2000 have been humans.  Only taking one human per twelve kills these days limits my exposure.  I won’t be caught; I’ll probably be here forever.  You already know to stay the hell away from lower Sangurima when the full moon rises closest to November 2.  But, you don’t know me and you don’t know the whereabouts of my other domiciles. You better just stay in for the night, that’ll be your best bet.  If I catch you out walking with the full moon, I’ll rip your lungs out, I promise.

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