Short Story
                         Calcolare i Marchi
                         (Tally Marks)
                                                 by Nate Grinver

 "Sylmar was burning when I left." Kim said.

 "This is really not a good time." Beth repeated popping open a decanter full
of liquor. "I told you that on the phone."

 "I know." said her little sister.  She put her glass of milk down and put her
head in her hands.  "It's just that I don't have anywhere to go or anyone to
turn to.  I think Walter wants to kill me this time. I mean, I. think he wants to kill
me for real."

 "More peace for me, I say.  These little intrusions on your part are really
starting to become taxing and distracting."

 Kim looked about at the holiday decorations and the fresh Christmas tree
which was elaborately dressed.  "What have you been up too anyways,
besides cutting down trees." she took her warm milk and had a gulp. "Still
documenting wolves and other wildlife."

 "Of sorts."

 "What's that mean?  What does a homely hermit of a older sister do in these
parts?" Kim said as an offensive defense to what Beth had said about her a
few minutes before.  She gestured to the open drapes when she said, 'these
parts'.  These parts meant the woods.  And the drapes allowed her to see the
snow and half moon.

 Beth didn't seem to take it like this.  Instead she only answered her little
sister's question truthfully.  "I told you it was a bad time.  I told you that for a
reason.  I've always done things with rhyme and reason.  You know that."

 "What?" Kim said with a happy smile, happy that she didn't get a slap for
what she had said.  If it had been the old days she certainly would have.

 "I've been documenting the victims of a serial murderer in the area."

 "Yeah, pull my leg all you want but when it comes off don't look at me."

 "I'm not pulling your leg."

 "Brings me back to that day when grandma said that she was cooking split
pea soup, you remember?  She served us up and when I looked in the pot
there was only water.  I thought it was alchemy.  But I'm not that gullible any
more.  Cause I know that was just Tabatchnick's, you see?"

 "Well this certainly hasn't anything to do with soup."

 "I think it is time to stop now Beth, you may think it is funny to screw with your
sister but it isn't." she said placing the empty tea cup down.

 "Come here, Kim." said Beth walking into her room.

 "Why?  I don't want to."

 "Come on!"

 Kim sighed loudly and followed her sister.  She found that her room had
newspaper cuttings wall to wall.  One wall had two separate tally marks divided
by a vertical line.  At the top of them both there were a few words or maybe
one in Italian, Kim could not tell.  She did not speak or read Italian or any
other language for that matter.  She studied German in UC Irvine but dropped
out when she met Walter, the lovable loser.

 The words said Calcolare i Marchi.

 "What's that mean?"

 "Figure it out." said Beth in her usual mean big sister way.

 "What's all this mean?"

 “These are the victims of two separate killers.  Or I think.  One has smaller
feet and kills victims by sneaking up on them.  That is indicated by the
scratches on the back.  This also shows that many victims ran away.  The
other, probably male, kills with brute force.  He jumps out in front of them and
as in the Spring killing of this year, tears their heads off and leaves there
bodies in plain site.  I bet he gets a laugh out of that."

 "You say scratch?" Kim said as Beth jiggled the silver ring on her finger.

 "I always knew you were born with a snail's ganglion.  You see this clipping.  
The one with the words 'researcher believes the deaths are attributed to a
werewolf'.  This was on the second page.  I got this from the blue print two
years ago on Christmas Eve."

 Kim felt light and uneasy.  She could feel her face frown and thought, 'Its
true!  I'm easy to
scare! I must be the biggest chicken of the world.'

 "Maybe you should get some rest.  Maybe I have told you too much."

 "No, you have not scared me!  I'm not that easily fooled."

 "Well I didn't believe it either.  Remember that wolf pen I had back there the
last time you came over here?  And you remember how I took it down.  Well I
found that one of my wolves had attacked a man who was riding horse back
one night on a full moon.  A month later was this." she fingered a four year old
crumpled news clipping taped to the wall with Scotch invisible tape.  It said Full
Moon Killing.  Then she pointed to a fourth.  The Full Moon Killer.  Then she
pointed back at the one they had previously discussed.  "He was a friend of
mine.  He was Romanian.  He was a life long lover of nature.  But the thing
that killed him was not nature.  It was unnatural.  Oh, the way he died.  His skin
was grated like cheese and his blood was everywhere."

 "Beth, please!  Can't we just go sit down and drink some more Horlick's."

 "Look." she dragged her little sister over to a large clipping which read as
follows:

 THANKSGIVING MURDER:  After a two month hiatus the serial killer or killers
known as the Full Moon Murderer has struck again. The victim was wolf
specialist Shelia Annesbury.

 The last animal researcher to live is Dr. Bethany Weeks.  As of the identity of
the killer she seems to agree with the late Dr. Romanoff that he may be a
werewolf.  Everyone in the area has been thoroughly investigated by local
officials and the FBI.  Nothing unusual has been found.

 "That was last month." she said.  "So I'm guessing there will be a murder this
Christmas or before it.  Maybe even tonight, It is a Full Moon tonight."

 "No.  This is unreal." Kim said more than terrified. "And I thought my life was
so bad."

 "Your life is pathetic and ridiculous."

 "Well it is obvious that you do not want me here so I should be leaving." Kim
said desperately wanting out.  She couldn't stand to be in a place were there
was a murder at least every month.  Now that she knew her older sister was
not messing around it made that worse.

 She ran into the living room and grabbed her coat off of the chair.  She
looked at the window and saw the heavy snow.  It was like cats and dogs. 'And
maybe werewolves too.' she told herself, first with a cringe and then with a
laugh.

 Walter peered in the window with his derringer.

 Kim moved to the side and choked on a scream.  She closed the drapes and
Walt began to slam his fists on the glass demanding to be let in.

 "Lemme in Kim.  Lemme come back in!  I'm freezing my nuts off out here!"

 Beth came into her living room expecting her little sister to be gone but
instead she found her next to the window with her hand over her mouth.  Well,
it was more in her mouth than out.

 "And what exactly is that suppose to mean to me?" Beth said, unimpressed.

 "Lemme in ya dumb broad.  I'm not gonna' kill ya.  Hell, gal, I love ya!" some
of what he said was carried off with a hissing wind and he screamed with ire
and cold.  He was probably alcohol deprived, that's when he got the worse.  
"Open up! I'm gonna break that door down, you lesbian!  Maybe I'll bleed you
too!" he changed gears again.  "Oh, baby I luv ya so much, I could kill you!  
You are worth five hundred copies of Cavalier and Play Boy!  Please open
up!"

 "What the hell?  Why did you bring him here?"

 "I didn't!" she whispered after forcing the hand out of her mouth.  "He
must've followed me!"

 "With no truck?"

 "I use to take the bus up here."

 "You lousy, no good broad!  Open this fuckin' door before I come in there an'
kill you and your lesbian bitch.  I know you are cheatin' on me!  I know.  I
know!  I am a no good guy, and I can’t even afford Christmas!  But, I'm sorry!  
I just got messed up!  Things happen you know?  Sometimes, well, sometimes
people just mess up.  Besides, you know me, whenever I do something the
Statue of Liberty just falls on me. Can't you just help me out!"

 "Go talk to him." Beth ordered sitting down at her table.  "And get out."

 "I'm not going to talk to him!  He is nuts.  Psycho!"

 In one swift movement her older sister was up and out of her seat and
dragging her sister to the door which had two shirts jammed under it.  It was
an inferior door and often let snow or cold air inside.  She used the tip of her
shoe to pull it out of the way.

 Kim noticed the wolf like foot prints on the floor and tried to jerk away.
"Werewolves! Werewolves!" she cried.

 Beth seemed to just notice and she vocalized some curse word and shoved
Kim onto a closet door and jogged away into her bed room.

 "Kim! Kim! Kim!" Walter started screaming.  "Kim!  Help me!  There is
something out here!  It wants to kill me!" and there was a gutteral scream of
death and there were some liquid sounds.  Like splatters.

 Kim sat on the floor, cringing, not knowing what to do or think.  Her sister
came back in the room and pulled her to her feet and told her to stay away
from the window.  That was the first order Kim disobeyed in the next moment.

 She crept to the window and opened them very slightly.  She gradually
opened them fully.  There was only woods and snow.  However in the snow
there were vaguely human foot prints leading to the cabin.  There were three
droplets of blood" on the window too.

 "Walter?"

 From beneath the window an ugly head rose and looked into the window like
that of a nosey suburbian mailman.  It looked human except with a simian
brow, a beard that extended to the forehead, red eyes and large canines with
blood on the lips.

 Kim screamed. This time out loud.

 "I told you to stay away from the window!" shouted her sister as she came
back from the bedroom with a shot gun.  Her voice was harsh and masculine
at that moment and her eyes looked bloodshot.

 Kim veered away and the beast howled and shattered with the window with
its arm, which was covered with hair and ended in thick fingers with seven
centimeter claws.

 Shot gun blasts issued and the creature flew back.  

 It was back on its feet in no time and the cabin rumbled as it went on the roof.

 "Damn it!"

 "What's happening?" Kim screamed as her sister struggled with her silver
ring.

 "I only had one more to go!  Damn it.  You are going to be that one if you
don't get out of sight!  Run!  Hide!"

 But Kim just stood there and watched her sister grow a beard and howl in
pain as she turned all werewolf.  She swung around madly, snapping the
Christmas tree in two separate pieces, with animalistic groans.

 "He is my competition!  If I don't get another kill in before this night is over
then I'll lose
my territory!  That's what the tally marks were about!"  Beth shouted in slurred
speech as her canines became more pronounced.  "Those were the rules!"

 "Your time is up!" They heard from the roof top

 "No, it isn't!" and Beth looked at Kim sadly.

 Kim screamed louder than normal as her flesh peeled back with savage
teeth.


                                                                 THE END.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.