No Regrets – by Neil Willcox

In truth, what were we to do? We told them what was happening but they characterised us as fools.

Try as we might, we could not get them to listen. Prophets without honour, a company of Cassandras. In truth we might as well not have bothered.

Brave as they were it did them no good. The blood moons had prepared them they thought. It had not. It overwhelmed us, try as we might.

From the start then. The blood moons rose and when they did the blood wolves came. They avoided groups, and fire and houses. But get caught alone on the moors you would be in trouble, no matter how brave you were.

Disdain was the main emotion expressed. Blood wolves. With the moon. It’s easy to avoid. So what if you have an urgent journey, or one of the herd has strayed? Let it go. When the moon comes up, go back from whence you came, and certainly don’t start.

Well-informed men said that this was just a natural phenomenon. The blood moon rises, the walls between the worlds weaken and the blood wolves run free. The blood moon sets and they return to whence they came from. Perhaps they should have listened to the women, but they were held in disdain.

Per moon there was only a death or two, though the herds suffered. And they said that was acceptable, and, so we were informed, all was well.

Eclipse time was when it all changed. We told them. The blood moon brings the blood wolves, the blood eclipse will being worse. None of them listened as per usual.

In truth, what were we to do? Time moved on, they made no preparations and then it was eclipse…

Before the eclipse we made our own plans. Doors were barred, windows shuttered, livestock brought into the barns and paddocks. In truth we did not know what would come.

Cycle turned as it must and the blood moon came and it was blotted from the sky. It happened faster than we ever thought, before we could move.

In truth, what could we have done? Might our warnings have been of any use? Or would events have occurred as they did, as they must, as they will every turn of the cycle.

Unimportant as we are we never thought the eclipsed blood moon would reach down and use us. We were of no account. We might be victims though more likely at one remove. When the herds and the men were ravaged then it would be us who would be left to try and feed and clothe those who were left. In truth we were not to be the victims but the villains.

Whole at last with our blood shadow selves, we became moon beasts. We came upon the men who looked at the sky with curiosity and, at the last, some trepidation. And how did we see them? As vessels of blood to drink, their other selves unimportant.

Cavil as some of us will, it was our responsibility. The madness of the shadow, the rage of the blood. If we did not have it in us we would not have transformed, made ourselves monsters, made ourselves whole:

Characterise us as witches, beasts, ghouls; you will condemn us as you must, accepting no plea for mercy, no mitigation, condemn us in truth and in whole, and in the end, when blood and shadow hangs high from the tree, feel no cavil and no regret in your heart.

Neil Willcox has many regrets none of which he will reveal until the blood moon’s shadow once again covers the earth. As well as voidspace he has recently been published in Swords And Sorcery Magazine and Pink Plastic House, A Tiny Journal. He can be found on his website as well as tweeting from @neil_will.