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Rob Colton

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About Rob Colton

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  1. Dear Rob, I really have enjoy your stories, great work, hope to keep reading from you

  2. Thanks for the kind words everybody. You guys are awesome:)
  3. Happy Birthday Rob Colton

    Aww, thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone! I so appreciate it! rob
  4. Tweaks To The Stories Module

    Thank you so much for fixing this! I appreciate all you're doing.
  5. Chapter 8

    “Will you two get up already?” I let out an exasperated huff. Grant and Chris rose from their kneeling positions. They stood there, staring at the ground, neither speaking. I looked back and forth between them, waiting. The silence lingered until it became excruciatingly uncomfortable. “For god’s sake. You guys make me crazy.” Still neither spoke. “Okay, whatever. I'm not doing this. Find someone else.” I pushed past Grant, who finally turned around. “Hudson, you can't do that!” “Since both of you still want to keep me in the dark, then let’s just pretend none of this happened. I’m done.” Grant stopped me from leaving. “Hudson, it’s not like that. It’s just… We’re not used to talking about this stuff.” Letting out a sigh, I sat back down on the bench. “So why do you think I’m the new caretaker?” Grant rolled his hand with a flourish, and motioned toward the flowering shrub. “Hello? You brought a dead plant back to life. Even now your energy is flowing through the circle.” I looked down at the shrub, and noticed blades of grass underneath it had started to sprout through the dead brush. “This is the circle?” I asked, looking around. A woman’s voice answered from behind me. “Yes.” I turned as Grant’s mother walked into the garden. Norma motioned toward the large statue jutting from a jagged rock. It always reminded me of the heads on Easter Island, only tall and skinny. It was weathered and crumbled, with dead vines crawling all over it. “That’s the head stone. The other eleven stones are arranged in a perfect circle, like a clock. They’re buried under all this decay.” She smiled, but it was without joy. In fact, this Norma Reynolds was a completely different woman. Gone was the doting housewife with the cheery disposition. Was everything I knew about everyone a complete lie? She moved to stand between Grant and Chris. “We belong to the Order of the Sacred Circle of Stones. You are its Caretaker. We are here to protect you and the circle. To be perfectly honest, it’s mostly ceremonial.” Chris scoffed, then snarled. “Until recently. When the caretaker—the old caretaker—turned to the dark side.” I rolled my eyes. “I think you’re confusing him with Darth Vader, Obi Wan.” Norma ignored our banter. “The caretaker draws his energy from nature, from the Earth. This circle is not only an outlet for this energy, but it recharges you and replenishes you. But it seems your predecessor had decided to toy with dark energy, including experimenting on living creatures. As his natural energy died, so did the garden.” “He had this root,” I told her. “It was dark. It was… alive.” I shuddered as I thought about the root. Shaking my head, I blocked it out of my mind. “If I agree to be the caretaker, how am I supposed to know what to do? I mean, is there like a Hogwarts night school where I can take classes?” “There is no agreeing. You are the caretaker, whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, if we had a proper succession, you would have become his apprentice before his passing. But there are others you can learn from. This isn’t the only circle.” * * * * Chris drove me home in silence. I wasn’t really in the mood for talking, but at the same time I was annoyed by his lack of emotion. I unlocked my apartment and held the door open. “Come in.” He hesitated for a second, then followed me in. “You’re going to use this as an excuse, aren’t you? You’re already distancing yourself from me.” “It’s complicated, Hudson.” “I don’t get what’s complicated. If you don’t want me, just admit it.” Chris lifted his eyes and met mine. He let out a breath, then opened his mouth, and then closed it. “It’s not that I don’t want you. It’s—” “Complicated.” I rolled my eyes as anger welled up in me. “You’re such a hypocrite. I think I liked you better when you were scowling at me from across the room. You know what? I’m tired. Someone tried to kill me, and now I’m glowing green. I’m freaking exhausted, and I think you should go. That should uncomplicated things.” I opened the door and held it for him. “My job is to protect you, Hudson, and I can’t do that if we’re…” “Right. Why don’t we uncomplicated that, too? You’re a coward, and I don’t need you to protect me.” Chris’s jaw dropped as he stared at me. “But, Aunt Norma said—” “I don’t care what she said. You guys work for me, right? Well, tell your aunt you’re fired.” I pushed Chris through the door and slammed it behind him as hard as I could.
  6. Chapter 7

    “Hudson? Are you okay?” Chris’s voice sounded so far away. I opened my eyes to find his blurry face over mine. He helped me to a sitting position, and every joint in my body protested being moved. “Ow…” I blinked a few times until the room came into focus. The caretaker’s dried husk of a body lay next to me, his hands stuck outward as if he was still trying to grab me. “Oh god, that's gross.” I grabbed Chris’s jacket and pulled myself closer. He helped me to my feet, and I looked around the room as I stood. A pile of black dirt caked with deep veins of red ooze lay on the floor behind Chris. Another one on the workbench spilled over onto the floor. The remains of the caretaker’s evil root lay at my feet. A deep, dark purple haze of light surrounded it. The aura surged and retreated, slowly and steadily, like a glowing heartbeat. It was mesmerizing. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It didn't deserve to be on the ground like that. So disrespectful. I should pick it up. If I took the pieces and placed them in a pot, I could get the roots to grow back together, and then— Suddenly, the door crashed open, and Grant tumbled into the room. He rolled into a crouch, brandishing a dagger. “You're a little late,” Chris said. I laughed. “What the hell happened?” Grant asked, tucking his dagger into his belt. “Jesus, you killed the caretaker?” “I didn't. Hudson did.” Chris and Grant both looked at me. “I didn't kill him,” I insisted. “I broke his… root… thing… of evil…” I looked back down at the root, still throbbing purple light. “Do you see it?” I whispered. “It's alive.” “What are you talking about?” Grant asked. He pulled his dagger and bent down, ready to poke at it. I grabbed his hand. “Don't touch it! You'll get the purple aura on you.” “Purple aura?” Grant frowned. “Did you hit your head?” “No. That thing is evil.” Resisting the urge to pick it up, I stepped on the biggest piece, using my boot to smush it into the concrete as hard as I could. I could hear its screams echoing in my heads as I destroyed the pieces. I ignored it, instead grinding and twisting my feet until the noise faded. Chris put his hands on my shoulders and turned me to face him. “What do you mean? Are you seeing colors?” “Yes.” I looked down at the remnants of the root. “Well, not anymore. Didn't you see it? You didn't see the caretaker’s aura?” “No, Hudson.” Chris shot Grant a look. “Do you see any colors now?” Looking around the room, I saw nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary, certainly no auras or hazy glows. “I don't see anything,” I answered. Chris nodded and let out a breath, then stepped back. “Okay. Let’s get out of here.” “Mom and Dad are on their way,” Grant said. I followed Grant and Chris through the wooden door. Stairs led up, where the sun streamed in from an outer doorway. Stopping, I turned back and shut the door behind me. As I reached out for the doorknob, I spotted a faint green glow surrounding my hand. As I ascended the stairs, I stared at my hands. The more I looked, the easier it became to see the haze of green light. “Guys? I’m glowing. I think…” I stopped talking when I stepped into the sun. We had emerged from a small mausoleum in the center of the caretaker's cemetery. The surrounding garden was dead, black and decayed. “Oh…” My voice choked. Remembering the way it used to look, comparing it to now, made me want to cry. I used to have picnics with Grant’s family just a few yards away. “I guess we won’t be having any picnics.” “I know,” Grant said quietly. “I don't know what we’re going to do now.” I stepped through the tangled brambles to the bench in the middle of the garden. A thin, wilted tree slumped against the side of the bench, its dead branches splayed across the seat. I picked it up and moved it aside, then sat down with a sigh. No one said anything for a few moments. I looked up at Chris, who smiled down at me. Well, that was a good sign. “You’re tough, for a little guy.” The hell? “Little?” Chris laughed. “It’s so easy to get a rise out of you. Too easy.” Chris wiggled his eyebrows. He reached out and tapped the end of my nose. Grant rolled his eyes. “Gross.” I ignored Grant. “So, does this mean—” Grant let out a loud gasp and stepped back. He yanked on Chris’s arm, pulling him back. “What?” I followed Grant and Chris’s wide-eyed gazes, to the dead plant next to the bench. A single green bud had sprouted from one of the branches. With the caretaker dead, would the garden come back to life on its own? Gingerly, I lifted the branch. I felt it twitch against my palm as it began to thicken and grow. Another bud popped out of the branch, followed by another. The buds opened and leaves emerged. I could only laugh to myself as I watched the branch come to life, green light travelling from my hand, down the limb, and into the roots. Within moments, I was staring at a fully living rhododendron bush, bursting with clusters of pink flowers. I turned back to Grant and Chris to find them both on one knee, heads bowed, hands palm up. “Uh, what are you guys doing?” Chris wouldn’t look at me. In fact, he looked like he’d just seen a ghost. Or maybe he’d just been kicked in the nuts when I wasn’t looking. Grant’s eyes flicked up for a split second. “You’re the new caretaker.” Damn.
  7. Chapter 6

    Using a dagger, Chris shoved the tip into the cuff around my wrist. With a sharp turn, the cuff snapped open and it fell to the floor. Before the metal even clanged onto the concrete, Chris was standing over me. He had his fighting stick, still painted neon blue like a lightsaber. “Touch him, and I will kill you,” Chris said through gritted teeth. “Though I may do that anyway.” In the corner cell, the lupoid had awoken. It shook off the dirt like a dog, snarling and slobbering as it clamored to get out of the locked cage. I heard Grant calling out my name from the open door the caretaker had come through. Just as he reached the bottom of the steps, the caretaker flicked his hand. The door slammed shut. Grant pounded on the door from the other side. “Hudson! Chris!” The caretaker clicked his tongue while slowly shaking his head. “My poor boy. You can’t kill me. You’ve sworn to protect me. And this.” He waved his finger above his head in a circle. “That was before.” Chris’s eyes narrowed. “When the circle and the garden flourished, before you turned and corrupted everything with your filth.” Garden? I remembered when we were younger going to family outings with Grant and his family. Many times we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries in this idyllic garden outside the city. Located next to an old church and small cemetery, the circular garden was beautiful—abundant with rich plant life, perpetually blooming flowers, birds, bees… Even the cemetery was well-tended. Each plot was covered in thick grass and the headstones were always adorned with fresh flowers. Nothing spooky here. A few years ago we stopped going. Was this basement under the church there? “You were like the boy I never had,” the caretaker said as he moved toward the pot on his workbench. The pot had split apart, its dirt overflowing the broken pieces. In the middle grew this black, twisted… cactus? I had no idea what it was. “I tried to tell you there was more out there. The order was holding you back. They still are.” “I saw what you did.” “If you only knew the power—” “Save it, Darth.” The caretaker slipped his hand into the dirt spilled from the pot. The prickly thing growing from it began to twitch and expand. One of the cactus arms extended outward, its end turning into a clawed hand. “Get your hand away from that,” Chris ordered. “And how will you stop me?” The caretaker waved his fingers and the iron cell door flew open. Without hesitating, the lupoid leapt at Chris. Chris snapped his pole, knocking the lupoid square on the chin. It quickly recovered and lunged again, swiping its deadly claws at Chris. He parried, then attacked back. While Chris was busy fending off the beast, the Caretaker concentrated on growing another beast in the dirt pot. The thing now had a head and two arms. If he kept it up, there would be two lupoids, and Chris wouldn’t be able to stop them both. The purple haze around the caretaker diminished as he worked. “Chris, the caretaker’s aura is weakening.” “What the fuck are you talking about?” Chris grunted as he shoved his stick up between the lupoid’s legs, hitting its balls hard enough to make it yelp. “Kinda busy here.” The new lupoid was growing at a rapid pace. It now was fully developed from the waist up, and was growing bigger by the second. It clawed at the workstation, trying to pull itself free from the dirt. The caretaker’s aura pulsed and waned. He would soon need to… recharge? “What’s your problem, fuzzy nuts?” Chris mocked the lupoid. That only made it more angry. Chris cried out as one of the lupoid’s claws made contact with his chest. Chris countered with a kick, sending the lupoid thrashing against the wall. It quickly righted itself and charged. Stepping around Chris, I ran to the shelf and picked up the box. “Get back and call off your dog!” I shouted as I backed away, clutching the box to my chest. The caretaker’s eyes grew large. Enraged, he screamed, “Pet! Kill him! Now!” The snarling lupoid tried to leap over Chris, but Chris smacked the shit out of it with his lightsaber. “Run, Hudson!” he cried as he tried to push the beast away from me. Still locked out of the room, Grant pounded on the door to no avail, doubling his efforts after hearing the caretaker. Opening the box, I pulled the rotting root free, letting the box fall to the ground and shatter on the concrete floor. “No!” the caretaker shouted. Abandoning his task, he ran for me. I squeezed the root, wringing it with my hands. The smell of putrid decay slapped me in the face as black slime and wriggling worms seeped from the thing, oozing between my fingers. “Oh my god,” I cried as I choked back the bile rising in my throat. Using every ounce of strength I had in me, I broke the root into two. The caretaker sucked in a loud breath as his body contorted. The purple aura around him expanded in a burst bright enough to light the entire room. And then it was gone. The old man withered before my eyes as he fell on top of me, sending me to the ground. I tried to push him off me, but he was heavier than he looked, and now we were face to face. The caretaker’s eyes were clouded with cataracts. The scowl left his face as his features softened. He drew in a series of shallow breaths. The corner of his mouth turned up. He covered my face with his hands, holding me down with all of his weight. I couldn’t get free. It was dark. I couldn’t breathe. In the blackness, a green spark took shape. It grew until it became a blinding light.
  8. Chapter 5

    I opened my eyes, but all I could see was a haze of gray. My right arm burned, as if it was stabbed by a billion pins and needles. It took me a moment to realize I had a metal cuff around my wrist, which was connected by a heavy linked chain to a plate in the concrete floor. I was laying on said floor, which was freezing cold. I could feel the dampness of the concrete had saturated my clothing, and I shivered violently. The smell of mildew permeated the air, along with something that was familiar. It reminded me of the smell of the ground after a hard rain. Sliding the metal cuff a bit, I rubbed at my wrist. That only made the pain worse. I felt blood trickle down my arm as I reopened a wound. That fucking old man pierced my skin with his thumbnail. Gross. I blinked a few times, and scrubbed my fist across my eyes. I was in a basement—maybe not a basement, but definitely underground. On the opposite wall was a workbench with a small desk lamp that didn’t do much to illuminate the place. I could make out shelves filled with jars, bottles, and vials of various sizes. Something moved. It slinked closer and closer until it broke the haze. Chris. I pulled against the chain, trying to get closer to the big man. His handsome face, with a strong, stubbled jaw, and piercing eyes was just inches from me. But… weren’t Chris’s eyes green? “Get me out of here,” I whispered. “Before he comes back.” Chris leaned his head in closer and sniffed me. His lips curled in a snarl as a growl built in his chest. Instinctively, I pulled away. A quiet cackle emerged from the dark. “Young, feeble minds… so easily fooled,” the old man said as he walked to his bench. He flipped a switch, turning on a series of wall-mounted sconces. He didn’t even bother to turn around or look at me as he began fiddling with a clay pot of dirt. It was the old man who’d asked me for money. I’d fallen for his stupid trick, and now I was the caretaker’s prisoner. I turned back to Chris, only it wasn’t Chris. It was the lupoid. Screaming, I jerked away from the black furred beast. It pounced on top of me, covering me with its massive body. Its fetid breath was hot in my face as it used its muscled thighs to pry my legs apart. I kicked and yelled, hitting it with fists and knees, making contact anywhere I could. “Pet!” the old man shouted. “Not yet. Once we have dealt with the order, then you can have him.” Reluctantly, the lupoid backed away. Its dead eyes never left me as it skulked back to the corner, where a mound of black dirt sat inside an iron barred cell. The caretaker squatted down and pulled a small metal cage from under the work bench. I watched with revulsion as he freed a giant sewer rat from the cage. It protested violently as it was held upside down by a rear leg and examined. The lupoid moved from his cell. Drool spilled from its mouth as he swiped his tongue across his jowls. The old man glanced back at the lupoid. “This is not for you, pet.” Growling, the mindless animal disregarded the warning, and advanced anyway. The caretaker flicked his wrist and the beast tumbled backward as if struck by an invisible force. With a whine, it slinked back to its cell, burrowing until it was covered by the dirt, only its head visible. The caretaker waved his hand and the cell door slammed shut. He returned to his clay pot, and grabbed the squealing rat with both hands. With a quick wringing motion, the rat was silenced. Holding the rat above the pot, he bled every drop of blood into the pot, before finally burying the rat in the dirt. Holding both hands on the side of the pot, the caretaker began to chant. His head fell back as his words grew louder. I had no idea what he was saying, but something in my gut told me it was wrong. Tainted. The chanting stopped. Exhausted, the old man slumped forward. His chest heaved as he struggled to pull air into his lungs. His body trembled and shook, and he used the edges of the bench to slowly move to the shelf. In the center of the shelf was a box. The man opened it and pulled something out. It looked like a large root bulb of some kind, covered with dirt, dark and gnarled. I could smell its foul stench clear from the other side of the room. The caretaker scraped at it with his thumbnail, then began rubbing the root up and down his throat and chest. As he took deep breaths, the trembling gradually subsided. I had no idea what that crazy old fucker was doing, but I couldn’t look away. As he kept rubbing, a deep purple aura began to form around him. What the fuck? The caretaker placed the root back into the box. He stopped at the bench and stroked the side of the pot. “See you soon, pet.” Oh shit. Turning off the light, the caretaker left the room. A door slammed shut behind him and his footsteps faded away. The room was silent, but there was an odd sound coming from across the room. Crackling. Slithering. Snapping. I didn’t want to think about what was making it. I wasn’t sure how long I laid there on the floor, in the dark, but it had grown colder. My body shivered and my teeth chattered. Thank god the lupoid was still locked in its cage, snoring like it had the worst head cold in the history of… well, abominations grown in clay pots with tainted magic. A tiny click startled me awake. Laying perfectly still, I searched the darkness with my eyes. I could still hear the lupoid snoring, so it wasn’t him. The door slowly creaked open, and a figure slipped through. “Hudson?” it whispered. Chris. I wasn’t going to be fooled so easily this time. But then again, there was no aura around him, so maybe it wasn’t the caretaker. Taking a chance, I whispered back, “Chris? Between you and me, I think this is a trap.” “We gotta get you out of here.” The light clicked on. “Well, isn’t this touching?” the caretaker mocked with a cackle.
  9. Chapter 4

    I guess I didn't explain it too well... Chris is trained to protect the caretaker, but the caretaker has been corrupted by evil.
  10. Chapter 4

    “Chris? What are you doing?” The warble in my voice gave away how nervous I was. I felt the bed dip with Chris’s weight, and I was keenly aware of his closeness. I could feel the heat of his body. I could smell his odor, a combination of musk and sweat. He clearly hadn’t showered since the fight. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.” That did not sound like Chris. “Did Grant send you in here?” “Yes.” “Figures.” “Look, both of us want you to be okay. But we also need to make sure the things you’ve seen are kept secret.” I sighed. “If I told anyone, they’d just think I was crazy.” “I know it’s a lot to digest. I’ve spent my life training. I was barely walking and I’d sworn an oath to guard the caretaker… to fulfill my family’s destiny.” Chris scoffed. “And for what? It’s all gone to shit now.” Chris sounded tired. I didn’t know what to say, and I was sure he didn’t want my pity. “Sorry.” Damn, that sounded lame. “I gave up everything, Hudson.” “Yeah. You could have had me,” I joked. Immediately regretting my words, I let out a nervous snort of laughter, while simultaneously praying Chris hadn’t heard me. Chris didn’t say a word. The prolonged silence quickly became awkward. I was about to get up when Chris moved. The weight of his body pushed me down, pinning me onto the mattress. I opened my mouth to speak, but Chris captured my lips with his. When his tongue pushed forward, I allowed him entry. Snaking my hands around his back, I pulled him down, wanting more of his weight on me. I’d wanted this for so long, I didn’t stop to think of the consequences. Chris pulled his head back. “I’ve never kissed anyone before,” he whispered. “Not like this.” “Me neither,” I answered back. “What a sad lot we are.” I laughed. “Yeah.” “Can I kiss you again?” I tilted my head up, answering him without words. Chris shifted, moving between my thighs, pushing them apart. He nipped at the soft skin under my ear, then began sucking. His beard stubble scraped my sensitive flesh. I moaned, writhing underneath him. I could feel Chris’s hard cock pushing into me as his hips rolled in a rhythmic motion. I moaned. “Oh god.” Pushing my hips up, I ground my hard-on into Chris. Even through our clothes, I could feel the heat of his erection against mine. Damn, he felt big. I wanted him so bad, without clothes. I wanted to touch him, to taste him. But I couldn’t stop myself. We kissed deeply as our movements became more frantic. His tongue pushed in and out of my mouth, mimicking the motion of his hips. I thrust back against Chris as he rubbed against me. “Chris,” I murmured against his lips. As I came undone beneath Chris’s thrusting body, he suddenly froze. With a stifled groan, his body shuddered. “That was—” “Wow.” We both spoke at the same time. Chris began to laugh lightly, and I joined him. Shifting his weight, Chris pulled back and moved from on top of me. “I should get cleaned up. I’m a mess.” “Me too.” * * * * Hefting my backpack further up onto my shoulder, I quickened my pace. I really wanted to get home before dark. It was bad enough it was misting outside, almost raining, but not quite. If I didn’t have an important test, I would have just skipped class. Maybe my professor would have given me an exemption for being chased by a hell hound, but something told me that wouldn’t go over so well. I should have just skipped regardless. With all that happened in the past couple days—being chased by a beast, making out with Chris—I wasn’t really able to concentrate anyway. “Brother, can you spare a dime?” The voice caught me off guard. Chris and Grant would cuss me out for not paying attention to my surroundings. A harmless old man sat on the street corner, his back against the building. Dressed in tattered rags, he held out his hand, palm side up, and it trembled uncontrollably from the strain of the stretch. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a wad of crumpled bills and some change. I gave the old man a sympathetic smile as I dropped the money into his open palm. The man turned his palm upside down, and the money dropped to the pavement. Before I could react, he grabbed my wrist. I tried to pull free, but his grip tightened and his fingernails dug into my skin. Pain like liquid fire radiated up my arm and my vision began to darken. As he yanked me forward, I screamed.
  11. Chapter 3

    I shuddered as a cold breeze flew up the back of my thighs and my ass. “Brr!” “We should get out of here,” Grant said. Chris nodded. “Agreed.” “Yeah,” I quickly agreed. “I’m freezing my ass off.” Not to mention, I was filthy—and the silence of the surrounding lupoid-infested woods was freaking me out. I reached back and grabbed the tattered Fred Flintstone costume and made another futile attempt to cover myself. Feeling self-conscious, I looked over at Chris, following his gaze to my backside. “Are you checking out my ass?” Grant scoffed. “Duh.” The end of Chris’s “lightsaber” smacked Grant in the back of the head. “Ow!” Grant tried to grab the saber from Chris, but the big guy was too quick. The wooden pole smacked the knuckles of Grant’s right hand. Grant yanked it back with a cry. “Ow!” “Knock it off,” I grumbled, moving between the two children. “Can we get out of here before that thing comes back?” “Here.” Chris shrugged off his outer robe, and I was taken aback by his display of chivalry. He tossed the robe at me and it smacked me in the face. “My hero,” I groused as I caught the robe before it fell to the ground. I pulled it on and started walking. I was proud of myself for ignoring how warm the robe was, and how good it smelled. * * * * Once we were back at mine and Grant’s apartment, I took a long, hot shower. As hot as I could stand it. Knowing that beast had marked me somehow, I used up half a bottle of shower gel and practically scrubbed off a layer of skin. The heat relaxed my muscles, though my scraped up and bruised knees were making themselves known more than ever. “Katniss.” I scoffed. I couldn’t help but pout as I toweled myself dry. “I’m Neo, if anybody. Or Master Chief…” When I looked at the empty bathroom counter, I cursed. In my haste to get to the bathroom, I didn’t bring a change of clothes. Securing the towel around my waist, I exited the bathroom. Grant and Chris were in the living room. They abruptly stopped talking. I noticed Chris’s eyes lingering on my nearly naked body. With a grunt and a scowl, he turned his attention back to Grant. Ass. But… That was the second time tonight I’d caught Chris Huntington checking me out. Was this something that happened frequently and I just never noticed? As intrigued I was by the attention, I was more concerned with the fact that a big furry monster was after me. Chris and Grant knew what was going on, and I wanted answers. That didn’t stop me from letting my towel drop a bit as I went into my bedroom to get dressed. When I returned, Grant was on the phone and Chris was picking at the paint on his broom handle. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. Pushing off the couch, Chris went to the kitchen and began rummaging through the cupboards. “Okay, bye.” Grant hung up the phone and tossed it on the couch next to him. “I updated Mom and Dad. They said to sit tight, and to be careful.” “Sit tight. Right. So, what’s after me?” I asked. “What the hell’s a lupoid?” “You saw it.” Chris popped a chip into his mouth. “If you forgot what it looked like, I can show you a picture.” “Maybe we could trap it and talk to it. If we get it to turn back, maybe we could reason with it. It could just be looking for its mate.” Grant rolled his eyes. “Someone’s been reading too many romance novels.” “It’s not a man,” Chris said with his mouth full. “It’s an abomination of the natural world, created from tainted soil with tainted magic.” “It guards the caretaker,” Grant added. “No thought, no emotion. Only instinct.” They’d mentioned the caretaker before. “And who is the caretaker?” “The caretaker is entrusted to protect the sacred circle of stones.” Chris snorted, his voice low and angry. “He’s become twisted and evil. He has tainted the circle with his filth. I told Aunt Norma he needed to be put down.” My mouth dropped open and I turned to Grant. “Wait. Your parents know about all this?” Grant shrugged. “Sure.” “Your mom, the sweetest lady on Earth? The one who just sent us a care package filled with homemade cookies?” Chris snorted as he flopped down onto the couch with a bag of chips. “Aunt Norma’s a regular Carol from Walking Dead. She runs the order.” “The order?” “The order was sworn to protect the caretaker. Until he turned dark.” I looked between Grant and Chris. Neither spoke. They sat quietly waiting for my reaction. “You’re both freaking crazy. I’m going to bed so I can wake up from this nightmare.” Turning on my heel, I returned to my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. Not bothering to turn on the light, I sat down on my bed and sighed. I had no idea how to process what I’d seen, what I’d learned tonight. If I packed up my shit, I could be on the road in no time. I could get away from all of this mess. Three raps on my door pulled me from my thoughts. “Go away.” The door opened. A large body stood in the door frame, silhouetted by the hall light. Chris. He shut the door behind him with a click and the room went dark.
  12. Chapter 2

    The door shut with a bang behind me and an icy breeze swept up the back of my legs. I reached back and tugged down the hem of my tunic. I reeked of beer. Near the corner of the house was an outside faucet. Tucking the inflatable club between my legs, I bent down, turned the faucet on and rinsed the beer off my hands. Having no towel, I wiped them dry on my costume. As I stood, I wrapped my arms around my body. I felt the goose bumps rising on my skin. A gentle breeze wafted through the trees. The sounds of leaves rustling and crickets filled the night. The waxing moon hung high in the air. The milky way was visible in the sky, but clouds swiftly moved, partially obscuring the moon. I wondered if it was going to rain. Abruptly, the sounds stopped. Creepy. I cut my eyes toward the back door. Twigs snapped. Leaves crunched. I peered into the trees, but saw nothing. Just darkness. I was about to turn when the darkness shifted. The dark leapt from the trees, a large mass that landed in a crouch several feet in front of me. Startled, I let out a scream. The beast rose to stand on his two feet, and I realized it was a man. It was just a man. Two arms, two legs. “You scared me.” My voice shook and I instinctively took a step backward. He cocked his head to the side as he stepped closer. Moving from the shadows of the trees, the moon lit his features. His eyes were dark, hidden by a prominent brow. His hair was wild, with pointed ears peeking out the sides of his head. He sniffed the air with an elongated snout. He wore no clothes—his costume was completely covered in fur. It looked like he wore gloves and shoes that gave the appearance of hair, except for over-sized claws jutting from the tip of each digit. I let out a breath. It was just some dude in a werewolf costume. But… “My, what a realistic costume you have.” I chuckled nervously, feeling exceedingly awkward. I didn’t like being alone with him. He was creeping me out big time. I gripped the inflatable club, holding it tight in front of me with both fists. His eyes watched me like a predator. He opened his mouth, exposing pointed teeth. He tugged between his legs, drawing my gaze downward. The fucking costume was anatomically correct. Oh hell no! I drew in a breath and swung the bat as the monster advanced on me. The club hit his chest with a bop and bounced away. With a dismissive swipe of a hand, his claw pierced the toy, and it popped like a balloon. I threw the limp piece of vinyl to the ground. Before I could get away, the monster was on my back. I slammed face-first into the ground, and all of the air exited my body. My torso jerked as the wolfman yanked at my underwear and shredded the back of my tunic, exposing my ass to the night air. I dug into the dirt, clawing, trying to pull myself forward. Inhaling deeply, I tried to draw air into my lungs. The beast’s weight settled on me and I screamed. It came out as a hoarse croak. Oh god, I was going to die. Just like that guy from my biology class. Coughing and gasping for breath, I reached forward, trying to grab anything I could find. My fist slapped onto the toe of a leather boot. Looking up, I saw Chris brandishing his lightsaber… a.k.a., a painted mop handle. I tried to tell him to run, but nothing came out. Chris swung his saber and it connected with the monster with a sharp crack. The weight left my body as the thing roared in anger. I flipped onto my back and watched Chris battle the costumed beast. He swung over and over, connecting with the monster’s head and torso. It swatted at Chris futilely, growing more and more agitated every time it was blocked by Chris’s fist or the mop handle. The skill and strength with which Chris fought stunned me. He was obviously practiced in fighting this way. With a roundhouse kick, Chris connected with the thing’s chest, sending it backward onto the ground. The beast righted itself immediately. Chris advanced, pushing it backward into the trees. “Hudson!” Grant was suddenly at my side, crouched as if ready to pounce. Oh great. In addition to a Jedi master wannabe battling a psycho killer in a werewolf costume, I now had a psych major with delusions of grandeur coming to my rescue. A few after-school karate classes, and now Grant thinks he’s some kind of ninja. Chris emerged from the trees. Grant stood. “What was it?” “Lupoid,” Chris replied. “Shit,” Grant cursed. “Did you get it?” “No. Once we got under the tree cover, it turned and ran.” Grant began to pace. “What do you think it wanted with Hudson?” Chris shrugged. “What lupoids always want. To feed or fuck.” He glanced down at me, and his eyes roamed my body. I pushed myself onto all fours, then to my feet. As I stood, a wave of dizziness overtook me. A firm hand around my bicep steadied me. I looked up at Chris. “Thanks,” I croaked. This was as close to him as I’d ever been. But Chris wasn’t paying attention to me. “We should have taken out the caretaker before the super blood moon eclipse.” Grant sighed. “Well, hindsight and all.” He crinkled his nose as he looked in my direction. “It’ll be back.” Chris’s face scrunched in disgust as he let go of me. “Yeah. He’s been marked.” The fuck? These were not the guys I grew up with. I’d never in my life met the Jedi and ninja who talked so casually about caretakers and lupoids. I looked between Chris and Grant. “You guys are certifiable. You know that right? Wait a minute. Is this some elaborate Halloween trick?” Grant shook his head. “Sorry.” He turned back to Chris. “We can’t let the lupoid or the caretaker get Hudson.” I clucked my tongue and rolled my eyes. “What, so now you’re gonna tell me I’m like the chosen one, prophesized to save the world?” Grant snickered. “Sorry, Katniss. You’re just a piece of lupoid ass in this story.”
  13. Chapter 1

    What the hell are you still doing here? My inner voice was right on the money. What was I doing here? I only came to the party because my best friend Grant begged me to. “Come on, Hudson,” he’d said. “It'll be a blast. We’ll get dressed up, have some drinks and chill. You'll meet lots of guys...” Agreeing to come was arguably my second major mistake of the night. The first was, hands down, letting Grant pick my costume. Being so last minute, I didn’t have one lined up, but Grant said he had a caveman costume that would be perfect for me. I should have followed that up with additional questions. I looked damn ridiculous. Despite what Grant said, the costume’s orange color did not look fabulous against my skin and dirty blond hair. The shortness of the “dress” only accentuated my chicken legs—it did not make my calves look hot. And the blue necktie did not make my eyes pop. Standing against the wall dressed like a tragic-yet-slutty Fred Flintstone, I nursed the same cup of beer Grant handed to me right after we’d gotten here. Grant was nowhere to be found, naturally having ditched me mere minutes after arrival for his flavor of the month. Tramp. As much as Grant annoyed me, I never could stay mad at him. I’d known him since I was a kid, when his family moved in next door. Being a latch key kid raised by a single mom, I spent a lot of time at Grant’s house, with his family. Grant was like a brother to me. The party was hot and it was crowded. There was barely enough room to breathe. The house was packed with bodies, jumping and gyrating to the auto-tuned wailing of some pop princess. If I hadn’t ridden here with Grant, I would’ve left by now. But there was no way I was walking home by myself—not at night. Certainly not wearing this costume. It felt like my ass was hanging out the back, and I found myself constantly tugging at the flimsy garment’s raggedy hem. Hell, it was only last week a guy from one of my classes disappeared and was later found dead, a bloody mess not far off the trail that was a shortcut to off-campus housing. This stupid blow-up club Grant gave me wouldn’t do me any good if I was attacked walking across campus. I shuddered just thinking about the number of times I’d walked that trail. Out of habit, I reached for my hip before I realized I didn’t have any pockets. Like a dumb ass, I left my phone back at my apartment so I wouldn’t lose track of it. I regretted that. I could be checking my email, or Twitter… or requesting an Uber. With a sigh, I took a sip of my beer and looked around. Across the room, standing a head taller than the dozens of drunkards, I spied Chris Huntington. Like Grant, I’d known Chris pretty much all my life. He was related to Grant somehow—something somewho once removed on his mother’s side. Everyone just said he was Grant’s older cousin to keep it simple. Even though he’d moved here from Scotland when he was a kid, he still had a bit of an accent that was really sexy. Speaking of sexy… the sight of him in those Jedi robes holding a lightsaber had the inner nerd in me wanting to go all hand solo in the bathroom. Not that he wasn’t a hot Obi-Wan Kenobi, but knowing what was hidden under those long, flowing robes, Chris would have made a better Thor. That costume would have shown off his massive physique. And there was the one time I spent the night at Grant’s house and saw that hammer of his live and in person. A string of drool might even had fallen from my mouth. I knew then and there that Chris Huntington was going to be my first. Whew, it’s hot in here. My hot flash cooled damn quick when Chris caught my eye, scowled, and promptly turned his back to me. I should have been used to the cold shoulder by now, but it still hurt. As much as I tried, I would never forget the ultimate in humiliation when I tried to tell Chris I liked him. I could still feel his hand on my breastplate pushing me away, with a look of pure horror on his face. “Hudson. That is never going to happen.” God, I was a stupid kid. Kid? That was so like a year ago. Okay, now I was really ready to go. I turned to go look for Grant, and a slutty Captain America bumped directly into me, sloshing my beer all over my hand. “Oh my god!” I cried as the cold liquid hit my skin. “Fuck, man,” Captain slurred. The remainder of my beer sloshed across his chest, and the white star began to smear, dripping down into the stripes painted on his bare stomach. “My cosh-tume!” I wanted to tell him that wearing a speedo and painting his body red, white, and blue wasn’t really a costume, but that would’ve fallen on deaf, drunken ears. “Sorry,” I said with a shrug. I wasn’t sorry. He belched in response. The stench of stale beer slapped me in the face and I turned away before I got sick all over the man’s rapidly melting “costume.” I needed fresh air. Wading through the crowd, I pushed through the back door.
  14. The Caretaker

    A sexy, scary Halloween short.
  15. I just gave you your 5,000th LIKE! Way to go, Rob. Can't wait until the new story gets you to 6K

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