Factory Fur Nightmares

The dew of the early morning soaked the chenille corpse beside her. Polyester stuffing drifted down the alley in the wind. Izzie squatted and considered the remnants. It was a clean kill. She’d cut the belly open from stem to neck and severed the head from the teddy bear, just to be sure. She didn’t want the poor bastard waking up still alive. She wasn’t that kind of monster.

Moonset wouldn’t come along for another ten minutes. She was patient. She could wait.

She ran her knife along the plastic charms on her bracelet, making them swing. It was a cheap thing she’d bought on a whim from one of those kitschy places made for teens in the mall. She was way too old to be in there without a child accompanying her, but she couldn’t pass it up. Three little teddy bears dangled from it: two brown and one pink. Three down. She hunted a fourth now.

She looked up into the early morning sky. The man in the moon was just visible above the horizon, but it would disappear soon. Sirens sounded in the distance. They were moving in her direction. She counted down the seconds, praying that they wouldn’t pass her right at moonset. But she wouldn’t abandon her post. She had to know if she’d caught the right bear. They couldn’t stop her.

She found it easiest to watch the ears when the time came. She cut one from the head, tiny bits of lavender chenille coating her knife, and carefully laid it in the center of the fuzzy carnage, wiping fiber fill away to make space for it. She traced the curve of it with her fingertips, caressing it. It reminded her of another ear she’d traced like this once.

“I don’t know if you can hear me,” she whispered. “But this will all be over soon.”

More sirens sounded, but Izzie waited with her kill.

“I’ve been watching you, you fuzzy bastard. Tracking you. I know what you are. Half man, half teddy bear. What kind of self-respecting man let’s himself get turned into a wereteddy? Oh yes, I knew one of you once. Like you, he pretended that he was totally normal. Totally harmless. But you are nightmares spun from factory fur and designed to prey on our inner children.”

Her phone buzzed. Five minutes until the moon sank below the horizon. Five minutes until she knew whether or not to add another charm to her bracelet. Whether her hunt was over or if she’d have to repeat all of this at the next full moon. If she didn’t have the right bear tonight, he might spook. She might never catch up with him.

“He told me that he loved me,” she said. She didn’t know if their ears functioned in this form. She didn’t care. “I thought that we would make a life together. But people like you can’t do that.”

Her boyfriend’s ear was the first thing she saw when she woke up to his severed head on her bedside table. The head that she had torn off in a fit of rage when he was in teddy bear form. She woke to find her own nightmare had come real when it turned back into a human head in the morning.

There were questions, of course. And forensics. And no sign of forced entry. And then there were lawyers and doctors and the psychological evaluations. And words like “psychosis” were thrown around.

“Did your family know? Did they trust you? Or did you hide it from them like the coward you all are? It’s better this way. They won’t have to deal with the cleanup in the morning. Won’t have to deal with the questions. You’ll just disappear and they’ll never know what happened to you or what you really are.”

Her phone alarm went off again. Moonset was here according to her almanac app. She waited another couple of minutes, staring at the purple remains of a teddy bear. It didn’t usually take this long. The change was instantaneous once the moon dropped below the horizon.

She couldn’t be wrong. She’d followed this man for months, getting close to him, getting a position as his assistant so that she could track his disappearances and be sure. The office gossip said he had a mistress he was seeing every month, but Izzie understood the horrors that existed in this world better than most. His absences were too conveniently timed to the full moon.

This was the only stuffed bear she’d found when she broke into his home tonight. This had to be his teddy form. Her almanac must be wrong. She just needed to wait a few more moments for the blood and guts stage to take.

“Change, you bastard. You can’t hide from me,” she said.

The sirens were close. Flashing lights turned the polyester stuffing blue and red in turn all around her. She just needed a minute more. She had to have her fourth charm. She knew this was him.

The police cars surrounded her, blocking either end of the alley. But she kept her eyes on a fuzzy, round ear that refused to change. She threw off the first officer as they tried to cuff her.

“No! You don’t know what he is. He’s dangerous. They’re all dangerous,” she said.

The officers pushed her face into the fluffy carnage as they struggled to control her. Bits of it drifted beneath the dumpster at one end while she struggled.

“You can’t let them live,” she said as they dragged her into the police car.

She didn’t see their faces. Just the ear. The ears were the easiest part to watch. It was easier than seeing the blood and the guts and the eyes when they changed back. The eyes staring at her when she woke up. The blood that soaked her carpet when she stepped out of bed.

She watched the ear until the building blocked her view. But it never changed back.

Dianne Williams lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries and classic science fiction. She once dreamed of being an astronaut. Or maybe a lawyer. Or an artist. She settled for being as many of them as she could all at once through fiction writing.

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