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Authors: Jason Starr

The Craving (28 page)

BOOK: The Craving
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Volker was quiet for a few moments, and then with new energy he said, “Everything went black. When I opened my eyes it seemed like only an instant had passed, yet I wasn’t in the bedroom, I was in the woods with my father, and the gray wolf was there too, the one who attacked my father. I should have been frightened, but I wasn’t. I felt very calm, very at peace. My father explained that he had given me the greatest gift—the gift of the wolf. At first I didn’t understand what he meant, but soon I discovered how powerful I was. I also felt bonded to my father for the first time, and I knew it was a bond that could never be broken.”


Volker paused again and looked away, in the direction of the Central Park Lake, as if reflecting. Simon couldn’t tell if he was sad or just tired from talking so much.


“Are you okay?” Simon asked.


“Yes, I’m fine,” Volker said. “I just haven’t spoken of this in many, many years.”


Simon gave Volker a few minutes to collect himself. He didn’t want to check the time on his cell phone, but he figured it had to be about six
Soon there would be people all around the Ramble.


“If you’re too tired to continue, maybe we can meet up another time,” Simon said. “Maybe later in the day or over the weekend. We can set up a time to—”


“No,” Volker said. He let it hang there, then added, “I want to answer your questions. Maybe it will help you understand.”


“Okay, that’s great,” Simon said. “Actually there is something I’m not sure I understand. You said you saw your father kill your mother, but after your father bit you, you felt a strong bond with him.”


“An unbreakable bond,” Volker said. “There is no bond stronger than sharing the blood of the wolf.”


“But didn’t you hate him for what he did to your mother?”


“Yes, of course I hated him.”


“That’s what I’m not sure I understand. How can you hate him and feel a bond with him at the same time?”


“A bond is not the opposite of hate,” Volker said. “You can have a bond and still have hate.”


“But I don’t feel any bond with Michael,” Simon said.


“Yes, and that’s precisely what makes you different from the others,” Volker said. “You weren’t bitten directly by Michael. You were bitten by the woman, Olivia. That’s why the others feel a loyalty to Michael that you don’t.”


Simon hated that this made sense, because the more it made sense, the more real it became. And the more real it became, the more terrifying it became.


how did Michael get the way he is?” Simon asked. “I mean, was he born a werewolf?”


“No, the children of a werewolf are all born human,” Volker said. “Before Michael created his beer to prepare you and the others for the bites, the only way to pass the blood of the wolf was by a bite to the neck, a deep bite that lasts about one minute. And it could only be transferred along the same bloodline.”


“So you bit Michael?” Simon asked.


“Yes,” Volker said. “And it was the most regrettable mistake of my life. But I’m jumping ahead; that occurred much later. After my father bit me I had to learn how to assimilate in the world with humans. I was very much the way you are now—I was lost, I was alone, and I didn’t know how to control the craving.”


“The craving for meat?” Simon asked. “Yeah, I’ve been getting that all the time. I wish there was some way to—”


“No,” Volker said, “I am speaking of the craving for human flesh.”


Simon didn’t know why he was waiting for a sign that Volker was joking because it was obvious that he wasn’t joking about any of this.


“Oh, okay,” Simon said. “So did you—”


“I did many horrible things, yes. I was a killer as vicious as Michael. When I had a craving, I couldn’t resist it. I had to satisfy it. And the craving could come at any time. I was totally at its mercy.”


Simon remembered being in the bathroom, partially transforming, having to resist the urge to break down the door and attack Alison and Jeremy.


Horrified, Simon asked, “So how … how did you learn how to control it?”


“My father was my teacher,” Volker said. “Without a teacher it is impossible to learn. It is like learning to talk when you can’t hear
voices. I had the ability within me, but I needed someone to show me how to utilize it properly.”


“But once you learned, you were okay?” Simon said. “I mean, the craving went away, right?”


“No, the craving never goes away,” Volker said. “The craving is part of who you are now. But, yes, I did learn how to control the craving. I was able to assimilate in the world of humans and I had my normal human life, and my life as a wolf.”


“So you mean you didn’t turn into a werewolf spontaneously anymore?” Simon said. “You could control it when it happened?”


Instead of answering, Volker took a couple of steps back and, though Simon sensed what was about to happen, it was still shocking to see Volker turn into a werewolf. Although Simon had been with the werewolf version of Volker all night, watching his facial features change, hair grow, and claws develop was still surreal.


Not sure if what he was feeling was awe or fear, Simon said, “Okay, okay, I get it, I get it. Can you turn back, please?


Within seconds, Volker was back in human form.


“Wow,” Simon said. “How the hell did you do that so fast?”


“You can learn that as well,” Volker said.


“Okay, so what about when the moon’s full?” Simon asked. “Do you automatically turn?”


“No, that is a myth,” Volker said. “Is it easier to transform when the moon is full? Yes, during a full moon and a day or two before or after, it is easier to become a wolf. Do I have to transform when the moon is full? No. But for you, right now, because you have no control of the craving yet, resisting transformation during the time of the full moon would be more difficult.”


“But you said the craving doesn’t go away completely, right?” Simon asked.


“That is correct,” Volker
said. “But you can control the craving and satisfy it in other ways. For example, instead of craving human flesh, you can crave the flesh of other animals. You can go into the woods and hunt deer or rabbit or even squirrel and that will satisfy the craving.”


“And this is what you did?”


“Yes, and I was able to fully assimilate into the world of humans,” Volker said. “My father opened a brewery in Freiburg and I worked there. During World War One, the brewery was converted into a clothing factory, making uniforms for German soldiers. After the war, I had a wife and two beautiful daughters and one son, Michael. For many years we were happy, even as our country suffered a great depression. I had my life with my family and my secret life as a wolf. In the meantime, my father was getting older and I was afraid for what would happen when he died. Not only did we share a bond, we shared a secret, and I was terrified of having to keep the secret alone.”


Volker was looking at Simon with a lost, maybe confused expression. Simon thought he might have lost his train of thought and was about to say something when Volker continued:


“So, when Michael was eighteen years old, I took him far into the woods where no one could hear his screams and I gave him the gift of the wolf. I thought it would cure my fear of loneliness and that we would share the same bond that I shared with my father, but it turned out to be the biggest mistake I ever made. You see, I had assumed that the blood of the wolf would have the same effect on Michael as it did on me, but that was not the case. I could control the craving, but Michael was different—Michael
the craving. He didn’t care how many human lives he took or how much misery he caused. Men, women, children—it didn’t matter to him. People disappeared all over Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, and he was responsible.
One afternoon, he took my wife and beautiful daughters into the woods, far enough that no one could hear them, and he…” Volker paused for a few moments, then added, “It looked like they were mauled to death by a wolf, which was true, I suppose.”


“Wait,” Simon said. “So you’re saying Michael killed your family and you didn’t do anything?”


“What could I do? Tell the police? If Michael was arrested, what would happen to me? I had killed too, of course. I was as guilty as he was.”


Simon understood Volker’s dilemma, as it was similar to why Simon couldn’t call the cops on Michael right now. If Simon turned Michael in, it would be like turning himself in.


“But you bit Michael,” Simon said. “Weren’t you his leader, or in control of him, or however you want to put it? Couldn’t you tell him what to do?”


“I tried to control him, of course,” Volker said. “But Michael’s craving was too strong and our bond was too powerful. I couldn’t bring myself to kill him, although part of me wanted to. My father tried, though. He was a very old man, but he knew that Michael had to be stopped. There was a battle in the woods one night. My father tried, but ultimately Michael defeated him.”


“You mean Michael killed your father?”


“Yes. He tore his jaw apart and ripped his head open.”


Simon cringed, remembering the awful sound a jaw makes when torn apart, the ripping of ligament and bone and the splattering of blood.


“After my father died, I felt an even stronger bond with Michael,” Volker said. “We only had each other, we were our only family. We had the brewery, but we mainly lived a secluded life. But this was
during World War Two, of course. So Michael joined the army. It was like a dream for him—a chance to kill without fear of punishment.”


“Wait,” Simon said. “So you’re saying that Michael fought in World War Two for the Nazis?”


“Yes,” Volker said. “But rest assured, nationality means nothing to a wolf. Michael killed many Russians, Americans, French, and Germans during the war. He had a great advantage, as his wounds, even from gunshots, healed faster, and no one was stronger than him. And his thirst for blood was infinite.”


“I just want to get this straight,” Simon said. “So you want me to believe that during World War Two, during battles that have been documented and recorded in history, Michael transformed into a werewolf and killed people?”


“Yes, but by this time, you must understand, Michael had learned to assimilate,” Volker said. “He would never kill as a wolf around a witness—at least not a witness who survived. If humans were in the area, he could detect them. But Michael loved to kill with weapons as well, and in the heat of battle there were many opportunities to kill friends and enemies. He had a craving for blood that was never-ending.”


Not sure anymore how much of this he believed and didn’t believe, Simon asked, “So when did you come to New York?”


“When the war ended,” Volker said. “We didn’t want to leave Germany, but we had no choice. There were rumors in Freiburg and cities and villages near the Black Forest, and we decided it wasn’t safe for us to stay.”


“Rumors?” Simon asked. “Rumors about what?”


“What do you think?” Volker said. “
Most people thought they were myths, but some bodies Michael had left in the
forest had been discovered by hunters, and locals in the town noticed there was something different about us—people who knew us when we were young wondered why we appeared to be no older than their sons and grandchildren. We knew it was too dangerous to stay; we had to leave, and many people were immigrating to America at the time and New York seemed like the perfect place to blend in. So we purchased the brewery in Brooklyn and have lived here since.”


“Has anyone gotten suspicious about you here?” Simon asked.


“Occasionally, yes,” Volker said. “Michael’s craving has ended many lives. Sometimes he’ll travel around the country in search of victims and people disappear, many without a trace.”


“So Michael’s like a serial killer?”


“No, not a serial killer,” Volker said. “Michael isn’t crazy. He doesn’t kill because he wants to kill, he kills because he
to kill, because it’s his nature.”


Simon didn’t get the distinction, but he asked, “And how did he have his son … Jonas?”


“Jonas came many years later, of course,” Volker said. “As the years went by, Michael had the desire to form a bond and pass along his blood to a son. I understood this desire, of course, but I also knew it would be a mistake, that Michael’s craving was too strong and unpredictable. But I was getting older and Michael was terrified of being alone—a wolf has no greater fear than the fear of loneliness. So Michael took a lover in Manhattan and had Jonas. I knew what Michael was planning to do next, because he had no use for the woman, he only wanted the boy. I tried to warn the woman that she was in danger, but she refused to listen, and she paid for this mistake with her life.”


“Wait,” Simon said. “So Jonas is a werewolf?” He was horrified that he’d taken Jeremy on play dates with that boy.


“Not yet,” Volker said, “but Michael intends to give him the gift of the wolf when he is eighteen years old. He fears that if he bites him when he is too young, even if he had the beer as preparation, that the wolves’ blood would kill him. And he’s probably right.”

BOOK: The Craving
5.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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