This is a short story originally offered to my newsletter for Halloween!
Content Warning: contains spookiness and mild violence.
THE BLACK BEAST KILLS AGAIN!
Two more bodies have been recovered from the moors just outside Briarmoor Village at 12:32 on the morning on June 12th. Police are refusing to disclose details surrounding the case and are withholding the victim’s identity until they can be confirmed. Local eyewitness claim they have video footage of the fabled black beast responsible for the recent spate of deaths—
Black ink of The Gazette ran under thick raindrops as the paper melted and merged with the darkened mud and soot of the moors. Abandoned. Dark hills loomed over the tiny village. Grey square buildings had replaced those destroyed by the war, and the villagers lived under a permanent sheet of monochrome. Drip, drip, drip.
No green grew upon the moors. Even the woods were drab and punctured a bed of fog and thick thorns. To Briarmoor’s children, the moors and the woods beyond offered a thrill. Local folklore spoke of the dark eyes stalking the copse, and man and child alike took on the hunt eager for infamy.
Until the bones were found.
Those who caught sight of the beast spoke of a giant man covered in thick fur. They found clumps of black hair beside half-eaten remains; children—always children—and footprints the size of a man’s head.
And, for reasons none could understand, a copy of The Gazette. As though the beast could read.
The police cordoned off the moors. No man stepped toward the woods. The beast of Briarmoor grew hungry. Dark eyes turned to the village and to a quaint cottage on the edge of the moor.
Rose lived there, alone. The police had warned her to leave, but she refused.
Howling could be heard one fateful night, the night the beast of Briarmoor burst through the cottage’s front door.
And saw Rose sat at the dining table in her finest black dress. Candles were lit, red petals were scattered by the beasts’ feet.
Rose beckoned him in. “You’re late for our date, Jeremy.”
The beast stared with its hungry eyes. “Arrrooou?”
Rose stepped up to the beast. Her height barely reached his navel, not that she could tell with all that fur. “I’ve been dreaming of you all this time. A tall dark handsome stranger. You’re a bit… Hairier than I imagined, but that makes you cuddly.” She giggled.
The beast snarled, flashing great yellow fangs. Rose didn’t blink. She looped her arm around his and dragged him to the table.
“I cooked you steak.”
The beast sniffed the meat. Medium rare. He hunched down onto the tiny chair and ripped the meat apart with his claws in seconds.
Rose leant her chin onto her hands with a dreamy expression. “The way you eat is so elegant. Tell me about yourself, Jeremy. Do you have any hobbies?”
“I love going for walks in the woods. Do you like children?”
The beast pounded his chest. “Raawwwaggh!”
“I know what you mean, kids are so adorable. I could just gobble them up as well! Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
“In the newspaper? I love a man with ambition. What do you think of marriage?”
Rose’s cheeks flushed. “Oh Jeremy, you do say the sweetest things. Would you like to watch Netflix with me? They’ve got this fascinating documentary on Bigfoot.”
The beast stood and raised his giant claws, but Rose took them in her delicate hands and pulled him towards the sofa. It sank under his weight, and his fur rubbed against the upholstery, but it did feel more comfortable than the stones and leaves of his woods.
Rose snuggled up beside him and the beast felt her beating heart, the hum of her blood, the scent of her supple flesh.
And found it pleasing.
Bells rang in the tiny village of Briarmoor. If the villagers found Rose’s fiancé a tad odd, no one mentioned it. Jeremy was tall, hairy, and he didn’t speak a jot of the Queen’s English. But they all came to the wedding ceremony to wish her well.
The beast wore a custom-made tuxedo. He looked good in a black bowtie.
The pastor read out their vows.
“Do you, Rose Richards, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
Rose beamed. “I do.”
“And do you, Jeremy Darcy, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“Then I now pronounce you man and wife.”
Rose closed her eyes and awaited the kiss.
Jeremy bit her face off.