Chloe is the one. She’s the woman I’ve been waiting for all my life. There’s just one minor issue: I’m pretty sure she’s a werewolf. When I say ‘werewolf’, I don’t mean one of those sexy brats from True Blood or Twilight, I’m talking about one of those rancid and all-consuming killing machines from old legends, a human-being that turns into a hairy beast and devours everything it sees when the full moon shows.
Yesterday she asked me if I wanted to be exclusive. We’ve only been dating for a few months, but that counts as a decade in lesbian-years.
‘Yes!’ I said, a bit too enthusiastically for my own liking, but I had to act fast before she changed her mind. She’s way out of my league. And then she kissed me, and I could feel my entire existence turn into a ball of energy.
‘So,’ she said, as I suspected she would, ‘will you stay over tonight then?’
But I couldn’t stay over in case she turned into a werewolf and ate me. I had to find an excuse fast, before she gave up on me and decided to find herself a prettier girlfriend.
‘I’m flying to Madrid in the morning, 5am on Ryanair,’ I blurted.
Chloe looked at bit surprised (I work at a bakery, so why and when have I ever needed to travel?) but, before she could say anything, I explained that it was a last-minute agreement at work that had just been settled that day.
So here I am in Madrid. I called in sick at work and took the first flight I could get. It cost half of my monthly salary.
I take a photo of the spongy cake I’m currently consuming in Vodafone Sol – which used to be called Puerta del Sol, Wiki tells me – and post it on my story. #CakeTesting, making sure that my colleagues can’t see it. It’s actually a bit bland, the cake.
At a terrace café on the stony pavement, I order myself a glass of wine. I have a girlfriend! I feel a warm buzz as I picture her smile, her hands … those hands that turn into God knows what during full moon.
‘You don’t have to like everything about your partner’, a soft-spoken therapist I saw on YouTube once said, ‘you simply have to love and accept them for who they are.’ And I do! I love her even if she’s a werewolf. I don’t particularly like it, but I do try to accept it. It’s just a bit hard at times because of the killings, and I’m a person who’s very against violence.
But it isn’t her fault. In fact, I don’t think she even knows that she’s the one eating those people in Queen’s Park at night. How many has it been now? Seven? Nine? Or is it eleven people, found savagely eaten and, for that reason also, deceased? I know it is her because I caught her barking at a poodle in the park the other day. When she noticed me looking at her, she pretended she was doing it for fun, but I could swear her eyes had a yellow glow and that her teeth seemed sharper than usual.
But I stay positive and focus on the good in her. She’s excellent at her job, she’s beautiful, she’s very kind – apart from when she’s turned, of course. She’s a wonderful person who’ll probably soon realise what she’s been doing and sort out her issues. She has good intentions, and that’s the main thing.
‘You’re all alone? Wanna join us?’ I hear an Australian accent and look to my left. She’s talking to me.
‘Sure,’ I say, even though I don’t feel like it. I sit at their table, joining her and a gay couple. I ask them where they’re from and pretend to be surprised when they tell me. They all live in Madrid and the couple, Ben and Eric, have an art gallery in Lavapies. Before I know it, we’re on our way to see it.
Secretos is the name of Ben and Eric’s gallery. It so happens that they have an opening night for some artist who does a performance in front of his paintings. The paintings all seem to be partially drawn faces with wine-splatters on them.
‘Por que, Dios?’ the artist cries out, putting a needle through his eyebrow. Blood runs down his cheek. The audience are moved by this, so I frown and nod in the same rhythm as everyone else.
The artist stares into space for some time and, just as someone is about to start clapping, he yells: ‘Por qué hay que sufrir?’, adding a needle to the other eyebrow. It doesn’t bleed at much as the first one, but we all still clap. The artist bows deeply and touches his chest.
‘Muchas gracias.’ He continues his thank-you speech as drinks are being served.
I take a photo of some tiny empanadas on a table in the corner and post them on my story. #MoreTesting
I should have told her I was going to Paris.
‘Did you enjoy it?’ the Australian woman, also known as Katie, asks.
‘Oh, very much so,’ I say. ‘It was very-’
‘Hard to find words for it, yes, I get it,’ she interrupts me. ‘Ben and Eric have been trying to get him for months and he finally agreed. Let me tell you a little secret.’ She looks around to see if anyone’s listening, but they’re all busy queuing up to talk to Mr. Needle. ‘There are rumours that Javier Gonzalez is a werewolf, and that’s why he only wants to perform at half-moon.’ I must have looked astonished but she continues. ‘I know it sounds crazy, but at half moon, werewolves have a lot of energy, a lot of drive,’ she makes a gesture with her fist to demonstrate strength, ‘but they are still in full control. They don’t turn … like they do when the moon is full.’
I surprise myself by grabbing her fist, ‘Tell me everyth-’
‘Did you enjoy the show?’ Ben clinks his glass against mine.
‘Oh, very much so.’ I turn to Katie, ‘About the werew-’
‘It’s getting late and I have classes tomorrow,’ Katie interrupts me again. She’s a schoolteacher. ‘Would you like to walk with me?’
‘Yes.’ I want to hear everything she knows about werewolves. Maybe she knows about a cure? But most of all, I want to know if it’s safe to sleep next to one when the moon is not full.
We walk through the winding, dimly lit streets. It smells like the south, although it’s getting colder. Katie doesn’t talk much about werewolves, and when I ask, she changes the subject to Australian politics, which I try my best to listen to.
I get a message from Chloe: ‘Hey sexy, I hope Madrid is treating you well. Miss you here.’ I feel a rush in my guts. She misses me!
‘I live here.’ Katie stops in front of one of the old, yellowing buildings. ‘Come in and I’ll tell you the secrets of the world we live in.’
That’s a big promise, but I’m desperate to know about the werewolf thing and she also mentions that she has a bottle of cava, so I agree.
We step into a ground-floor flat with a long, dark living room. We go up a few steps through the kitchen and then step down again to reach the lounge area. She has a projector screen on one wall and some hippie pillows on the floor.
‘Get comfy,’ she says.
I sit down on one of the pillows and lean against the cold wall. She pours us some cava, lights a few candles and turns on the projector. The screen lights up and the YouTube logo appears.
‘You’re about to get your mind blown,’ she says, finding a video on YouTube: Truth of the world and its rulers. She sits down next to me and slurps her cava. There’s heavy smell of vanilla from the candles which makes me feel drowsy.
Flashing images of the universe, of people, even a person eating an ice cream are depicted, and there’s a confident, male voice narrating: ‘The world is run by aliens who look like lizards – even the Queen is a lizard.’
I’ve heard about people who believe in this stuff, but. if werewolves exist, I guess it’s not that far out.
‘What about the werewolves?’ I ask.
‘Shh.’ She points to the screen.
The images move faster while the voice drones on about lizards. I wonder what Chloe is up to now. It isn’t full moon, so, if Katie is right then she won’t be on a killing spree. Has she gone to bed? Or maybe she’s out with friends, drinking wine. Is she thinking of me? I pour myself some more cava. Those vanilla-scented candles are starting to annoy me.
‘And that’s the secret of the universe.’ The voice-over ends.
I can’t believe I missed the secret of the universe because I was thinking of Chloe!
‘Isn’t that crazy?’ Katie asks, and I nod in agreement. I can’t bare telling her that I zoned out, although I kind of would like to know the secret of the universe.
‘So, regarding werewolves,’ I start.
‘Oh, yeah,’ she says, slightly disappointed, as if werewolves are not as interesting as the secrets of the universe and lizard people.
‘I just wondered,’ I say, ‘whether you know of a cure?’
She leans towards me with widened eyes. ‘You have a werewolf in your life? Or-’ she grabs my arm. ‘are you a werewolf yourself?’
‘No, it’s my girlfriend,’ I say, and I flush with pride as I drop that word so casually. ‘I’m pretty sure she’s a werewolf and I’d really like her to stop eating people.’
Katie lets go off my arm and strokes her chin as if she has a beard. ‘I see,’ she says. ‘I see.’
She goes to the kitchen and I hear her clattering around. I want to blow out the candles, but that would be rude.
On Katie’s YouTube channel, the next suggested video is Taylor Swift Love Story. I’m not sure why I find it funny that Taylor Swift is Katie’s musical taste.
She returns, handing me some sort of elixir in a tiny jam jar. ‘Apply a few droplets on her forehead while she’s asleep every night until the next full moon. It’s very important she doesn’t know about it, so she must be asleep.’
That makes me happy because it means I definitely have to sleep at hers now, although…
‘Are you sure she can’t turn on other nights?’ I ask.
Katie laughs. ‘They only turn at full moon. But this should break the spell.’
I want to ask what’s in it, but I fear that might kill the magic, so I thank her for giving me this cure and for revealing to me the secrets of the universe.
A few days after I get back, I stay over at Chloe’s place. It really isn’t as bad as I thought. The first couple of nights I’m jumpy, but then I decide to focus on the positive things about Chloe, such as the fact that she’s adorable, beautiful, and fun to be around – and also, that I’m now curing her with this elixir Katie made me. Chloe hasn’t noticed, although she did comment on a funny smell in the room a few times.
Tonight is the night. The full moon is ready to shine. My heart beats so fast, I can see it jumping beneath my shirt, but Chloe seems calm, so I hope that’s a good sign.
‘Did you hear that they caught him?’ Chloe yells from the living room.
It’s twilight now, and I enter the living room, fearing this could herald my death. ‘Who, honey?’ I ask.
‘The disgusting bastard who’s been killing people. The serial killer! Where haveyou been?’
A serial killer? Is this a huge werewolf cover-up?
‘I didn’t know there was a serial killer,’ I say.
‘Some lunatic has been going around murdering people. Luckily, they’ve caught him,’ she says, without taking her eyes off the screen.
A news reporter is standing on Salisbury Road. ‘And this is where he roamed at night.’ They flash onto the screen a picture of a man in his forties.
‘Wow, that’s right near here,’ she says.
‘What about the werewolf?’ I ask.
‘What?’ Chloe gives me a puzzled look.
I cough. ‘Thank God they caught that fucking psycho.’ I say, sinking into the sofa next to her.
When Chloe falls asleep, I dab the last droplets of Katie’s elixir onto her forehead – just in case – and kiss her cheek. She looks so peaceful when she’s asleep. I can’t believe I thought she was a werewolf, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a wonderful girlfriend. I cuddle up next to her and fall asleep. Later I’m awoken by a strange hissing sound and a foul smell. Chloe’s not beside me in bed. Moon rays penetrate through a narrow opening in the curtains. And then there’s a long and very eerie howl.