Other Middle Grade Novel

I actually had an agent for this book, but the book didn’t sell. Before I got an agent, I thought once you got an agent, you were all set. I can hear the laughter from every agented author who read this. Yeah, no. Anyway, I still like this story and I’m shopping it around to different publishers on my own. So far, nothing.

Werewolf Land

We get asked a lot of questions.

What gave you the idea to start a sanctuary?

Do you get funding from the state government?

What happens during a full moon?

Can we take pictures?

Do werewolves make good pets?

Some of these should be obvious. No, werewolves do not make good pets. And I don’t know how my parents decided to start a werewolf sanctuary because I wasn’t born yet. I just work here. 

I stood at the front gate, ready to welcome our “regular” werewolves for the weekend. They come a day or two before the full moon and stay with us until the full moon is over. They each get a room to themselves in the barn. Before we opened, my parents debated having the werewolves stay with us full-time, but what would they do all day when they were in human mode? They batted around the idea of having them help us farm, but none of the werewolves were into it. It’s better this way. They lead their regular lives most of the time and they just come here once a month. We have tour groups who come in to look at the werewolves, and the werewolves get a cut of the profits. 

Since it’s my parent’s sanctuary, I “get” to help out during the summers. I’m not even old enough to have a job yet, but they need the help and here I am, so…

A woman with long, straight blonde hair and carrying a weekend bag walked up to the gate. The tourists usually come by bus, but there’s not that much parking on our property, so the werewolves park in a dirt lot about a quarter of a mile away. 

“Hi, Vivian.”

“Hi, Dart.” She greeted me with a hug.  “How are you?”

I shrugged. “Hanging in there. How about you?” 

“Good.” She pushed her steel-rimmed glasses up her nose with a finger. “I’m so glad it’s finally summer. It’s been a tough year.”

I nodded. Vivian was a high-school chemistry teacher. Last fall, some kid from her school went missing and someone started a rumor saying Vivian was a werewolf and that she may or may not have eaten him. She didn’t eat anybody—she was with us at the time. The kid was found eventually, claiming he had amnesia but carrying a new cell phone. 

See, this is what my parents are always going on about. The fact that werewolves are unfairly persecuted and sometimes even hunted down. After all, they’re only dangerous one night a month. The rest of the time they’re just like anyone else. More or less. 

“Hey, did you see the latest episode of ‘My Nightmarish Life?’ Vivian asked. 

“I did. I can’t believe Kevin is falling for Tanya. Doesn’t he remember she stole his dog?”

“I know, right? Not to mention that she let the birds go. And what is up with her hair?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw our next regular, Lazarus, approach the gate. I turned to Vivian and said, “Go get settled. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

She nodded and headed to her room. 

“Hi, Lazarus.” I tried to sound cheerful because Lazarus always looked like he could use cheering up. In human mode he had limp, unwashed reddish-brown hair and he always looked down at the ground when he walked. Dad told me his wife left him and took custody of the kids. I’m not sure if she left him because he’s a werewolf, but I’m sure it didn’t help. Lazarus nodded at me and shuffled off to his room. 

All the regulars get a room in the barn with a double bed and a comforter. They get a laptop so they can entertain themselves when they’re in human mode. They can bring whatever they want from home, but if they break their own stuff while they’re in werewolf mode, we’re not responsible for that.  I can’t tell you how many laptops and comforters we’ve replaced. Even with super heavy-duty shock proof laptop cases, they’re usually the first things to get broken.  But if they didn’t have laptops, how would they stream new movies?  Dad says it keeps them happy and it’s just the cost of doing business. 

I stayed busy by picking up the patio area—I was going to have to do it later anyway—while I waited for the rest of the regulars to show up. We usually get somewhere between five and eight werewolves every full moon. They come around dinner time. We feed them dinner well before sunset because trust me—you don’t want to put your hands near someone whose about to change into a werewolf. 

Fatima and Boris walked up together. She said something to him, and he laughed. Some of the werewolves do become good friends here. After all, not that many people identify with werewolves. I opened the gate and let them both in. They nodded at me, barely interrupting their conversation as they walked to the barn. 

After dinner we lock them in their rooms. It’s for their own safety, not to mention ours, and the tourists. They start getting agitated hours before the full moon rises, so we make sure they’re all locked in their rooms, then we lock and alarm the barn. The first rule of running a werewolf sanctuary: make sure they’re locked in before the full moon. And no, they can’t hang out together, they have to be separated. They get very competitive. 

Canagan, another of our regulars, walked up to the gate. I didn’t know him very well. My stomach clenched when I saw who was marching up behind him. Wolfgang. He was a bouncer at Wrestlemania when he wasn’t with us. He glared at me as I fumbled for the latch, his lip curling. 

“Hi, Wolfgang.” I said, trying to come off as nonchalant. He grunted. As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder so hard that I almost fell. I thought I saw him smile just a little as he walked away. I rubbed my arm. Man, that hurt. 

I waited around to see if any other regulars would show up. There’s another werewolf sanctuary about a hundred miles away. I heard they do an after-transition breakfast buffet. 

It seemed like no one else was going to show up, so I locked the gate. I fed the chickens and headed up to my room. I flopped down on my bed and flipped open my laptop. I was working on a story. I had a whole series called, “The Adventures of Captain Snot Rocket.” He’s the Captain of a space armada, and they have to rescue a dignitary’s daughter, Cerys, from the evil Molton Has-been. General Patriarch is Captain Snot Rocket’s boss, and he’s always criticizing him and trying to stop him from doing things that might be frowned upon by the alliance. 

I was trying to figure out how to get Captain Snot Rocket through the space-time continuum when Dad came crashing into my room—no knocking or anything. He glanced at my laptop and I saw a quick downturn of his lips. But what he said was, “Dart! Is there any way you can lock the werewolves in tonight? I wouldn’t ask, but my brother just called. There’s been an accident and your mother and I have to go to the hospital right away. I think we’ll be back in time, but I’m not positive.”

I sat up. It took a minute to process what he just said. “Oh, my God. Is Uncle Jack going to be okay?” I liked Uncle Jack. He did terrible card tricks, but it was fun to watch because he thought he was this amazing magician, like a latter-day Houdini. 

“I think so, but I really want to go see him and make sure.” He glanced at my laptop and looked like he was going to say something but then thought the better of it. 

“Yeah, no problem,” I said. 

Some of the tension drained from his face. “Thanks, son. Just remember, lock and alarm each cabin, then lock and alarm the barn. Got it?” 

“Got it.” I had never done it before, but I had seen Dad do it hudreds of times. 

I folded the laptop up for the moment and followed him downstairs. Mom saw me and said, “Thanks for saying you’ll alarm the barn. Don’t forget to make yourself something for dinner. There’s frozen pizza, I think.” She tossed her phone into her purse. “Call us if you need anything.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said. 

I watched from the kitchen window as Dad carefully backed the car down the driveway, Mom sitting next to him. I waved as they turned onto the main road and disappeared. Then I heard a ping and I slid my phone out of my pocket to check my messages. “Have fun!” Mom texted with a line of red hearts. I slid my phone back into my pocket. 

My first full moon on my own. I grimaced and then reassured myself. No problem. I had this. 

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