On a balmy autumn night, the Bashlynns drove through a winding wooded road. Quinton, the patriarch, Marbara, the matriarch, Hartlan, a strapping young buck and Rambutan, a freshly bloomed rose, didn’t even notice the changing of the leaves as they were consumed in conversation after an enjoyable family night out.
“That was such a thrill! I bet this one is going to get an Oscar.” said Quinton.
“Father, horror films, action films, movies where Jim Carrey tries to ‘act’ - they don’t get Oscars. They could maybe get one if they figured out a way to incorporate the Great War.” Hartlan replied.
“What about for costume design?” interjected Rambutan, “They made that man look like a wolf, but also distinguished, like a silver fox. And the dresses in the Cotillion scene were incredible.”
“I quite enjoyed the cinematography,” added Marbara, “but we are talking about a gritty update of Teen Wolf, Q, I don’t think it will be getting many awards.”
They were speaking of the newest cinematic release, Wolfman: Moonstone’s Revenge, in which an enchanted Talisman causes adult Scott Howard to remain stuck in his wolf form just before his daughter’s 16th birthday. He must resist his wolfly urges while guiding his daughter through this important transitional stage. Directed by Ridley Scott, Scott Howard was played by Liam Neeson.
As their conversation came to a close they began to approach their estate, finding five long shadows cast down from their portico.
Marbara jumped in her seat, grasping Quinton’s shoulder. “Honey, look! How could anyone scale the gate, let alone five?”
Standing between the pillars were 5 cold, imposing figures. Blocking the entrance to the Bashlynn’s home, standing six feet tall, no life in their dark eyes, firm in their stance like a brick wall.
“Ooh! They’re here I’m so excited!” Quinton turned off the ignition and ran towards the house. The other Bashlynns followed, slowly.
“Family, this is the latest in domestic assistance and concierge. Better than a roomba, better than that bitch from handy we thought stole your mother’s diamond tennis bracelet, but she had actually left it in the sauna at Equinox. Marb, how did you manage to leave it there again?”
“So, it’s a robot slave.” interrupted Hartlan.
“It’s a robot butler. I not only paid for the hardware, I also pay the subscription fee. There is no slavery here, there is mutually agreed upon exchange.”
Rambutan cut the tension,”See Hartlan, mutual exchange. The Bashlynns haven’t owned slaves since 1812, a good 50 years before anyone even thought about it. Influencers and Trendsetters as always. These robot butlers are just continuing our trailblazing heritage.”
Quinton continued, “They’re for the Hallow’s Eve party, lovie. Can you imagine Mini Pepperchip’s face when you have 5 robot butlers and she only has Lupe and those starving Stonybrook art students she per diems?”
Marbara’s eyes glistened.
“And I will name them WOLFMAN!”
“Which one?” Marbara asked.
“All of them.”
“You liked the movie that much?”
“Mark my words, it’s going to win an Oscar.”
Hartlan bent at the knees, grabbed a Wolfman at the ankles and made his way towards the entrance. “We’ll help you bring them in, Father, then we have a late engagement.”
“Alright, you kids have fun.” Quinton responded, very pleased with his purchases.
* * *
The next morning every Wolfman was doing his job. The windows were sparkling, the waffles were crispy, the orange juice freshly squeezed.
Quinton reclined at his usual spot at the breakfast nook, ready for his morning meal. “Wolfman, please take my slippers.” His slippers were taken. Quinton opened the Monday Martin Gazette, the local newspaper.
“EEEEEEEEEEE!” Martha let out a shriek. On the front page of the Martin Gazette was a brutally gruesome image of Mimi Chippercorn strewn all across her perfect lawn. In pieces. Her pearls in the emerald green space between her torso and head, the perfectly manicured Fine Fescue covered in blood. They were from Tahiti! Above this extremely distasteful sight was the headline “Pillar of the D.A.R, M-A-R-RED!!!”
“Wolfman, can you bring me my readers?” His readers were brought.
“If you pronounce “pillar” PILL-ARE, the whole headline rhymes in triplet.” Hartlan said with a smirk.
“Quinton, didn’t you see this when you opened the paper?” Marbara gasped.
“Honey, no, I go straight to obituaries so I can see whose homes I’m about to get commission on. Wolfman, give me a massage. This is causing so much tension!” His trapeziuses were soothed and released.
“I just hope no one else dies before the Hallow’s Eve party. Honeys please come home right after school.” Marbara sighed.
“Can’t. I have plans with Merindath and Clotissa.” said Rambutan.
“And I’ll have to console Chibb Jr., of course.” replied Hartlan.
“Ok, well then right home after when those things are done, whenever that is.” Marbara let out limply.
“Wolfman, bring me my sanka.” Quinton sipped on his on-demand decaf.
* * *
As dawn broke over the little sleepy enclave, sirens streamed through the sky. The red and blue lights cycled, bouncing off of the walls of the Bashlynns’ boudoir. Death had come close to home. To their neighbor across the street.
A Wolfman entered the bedroom. “Sir. Mad-am. Ther-re is a Gentle-MAN waiting to Spee-Ack to you in the AnteeeeeChamber.”
“What?” Quinton said sleepily, barely lifting his head.
“I think he said there’s a gentleman waiting to speak to us and he’s in the antechamber.” Marbara replied, lifting the sleeping mask from her eyes.
“My god, Great Great Great Great Uncle Thelonius had better diction and his mother was a field----”
“Nevermind the diction honey, look at the lights around the room!” Marbara yelped.
She ran to the window to see what was going on. “More Murder!” she shrieked, “And just across the street. Wolfman, please bring me a robe!”
From the Bashlynns’ bedroom window you could see 2 police cars and 2 ambulance and 4 gurneys being wheeled out of the Mosspans’ Manor. A police officer walked out of the house holding the hand of the youngest Mosspan, 9 year old Grass. Even from afar you could see the little girl’s eyes were glassy, but not a single tear dropped from her face.
“What a shame.” Quinton responded. “What a tragedy.”
All four Bashlynns gathered in the antechamber to their home. All 5 Wolfmen gathered as well.
“Mr. - Mrs. Bashlynn did you see anything out of the ordinary in the early morning hours?” Detective Penstemons stood above the heads of household, broad shouldered, a dark shock of hair, cheekbones like granite. He would not have the citizens of his town being torn apart like gazelles on the savanna.
Quinton started, “I clocked out early after a few rounds at the club. I wear these space polymer earbuds, they could make Metallica sound like a lullaby.”
Marbara followed, ”And I wear this silk and snail mucus sleeping mask. It’s incredible, everyone says I don’t look old enough to have two kids in high school. How old do you think I am?”
“52. What about you two?” Penstemons turned to the Bashlynn teenagers.
“We both got in around midnight, our rooms have blackout Roman shades for sensory deprivation, to aid our academic performance.” Rambutan answered.
‘And...these?” Penstemons huffed, gesturing at the cold metal butlers.
“The Wolfmen?” Quinton asked.
“Wolfmen?” Penstemons asked.
“They’re robot---butlers. They respond to the name Wolfman. They can’t actually see. They have directional sensors.” Hartlan replied.
“Huh, what a world.” Penstemons stood face-to-face with a Wolfman, his chiseled features reflected in its black Gorilla Glass eyes. “Loved the movie though, I think it’ll win an Oscar. Guess you folks can’t help me.”
Penstemons and his men turned and left the Bashlynns.
* * *
“Now no one will see my and Kecilia’s coordinating Vasilisa-Baba Yaga BFF costumes! There’s no way the Hallow’s Eve party can happen now.” whined Rambutan.
“Why not?” Quinton quipped back. “I think it’s perfect. In times of distress, communities need tradition. And we can even make it a celebration of life! And that little Grass Mosspan needs a party! Marbara Kennedy Bashlynn, call the Chippercorns and the Muqueux-Mosspans and tell them to cancel their memorials!”
The next night it was set. Everyone was there, even little Grass dressed as the Perfect Praying Mantis. The Bashlynns spared no expense. For the young, there was bobbing for Kiwano, Fresh Fleur de Sel Caramels with a witch manning the copper kettle as if it were a cauldron, and toilet paper mummy waiting to give a scare and a spritz in the guest bath. For the old, the spirits (of the alcoholic variety) flowed freely, in dark corners you could release your demons, there was even a clairvoyant for entertainment. The Wolfmen milled about the room gallantly dressed as Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, Percival and Gawain. Filling peoples drinks, Settling arguments, Soothing Trapeziuses. They were a hit. Mini Pepperchip was green with envy.
The day had passed without much action. The Mimi and the Mosspan portraits hung over the fireplace softly lit by copper-wired twinkle lights. Everyone was moving on. Then a crash of glass, then a pool of grenache ruining the guests’ red-bottomed heels. The clairvoyant fell. Quinton and Marbara ran to aid their hired help and get her on her feet. They roused her with smelling salts. As she began to sit upright and flutter her eyelids she let out a scream.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! It’s you, It’s you who’s next!” She scuttered away from the hosts.
“Not me?” Cried Marbara.
“No, no, not you.” stuttered the clairvoyant. “YOU!” she screamed, pointing directly at Quinton, all of the color drained from her.
“ME? What did you see? You have to tell me what you’ve seen!” Quinton yelled.
“The Wolfman! He killed them all! He kills you! He tears you apart!” she shrieked.
Quinton was frozen. All eyes turned the robots. Everyone ran. The party was over. Quinton and Marbara were still on their knees on the ground. The wine slowly creeped into Marbara’s Bride of Frankenstein white lace. They were alone. Alone with their Wolfmen.
“The children! Where are Hart and Ramby?” Quinton managed to puff out. “Marbara, go find them!”
Quinton looked up and moved slowly, attempting not to set off the robots’ sensors. He moved towards the mantle, towards the portraits of the Wolfman’s previous victims, towards his cell phone to call Detective Penstemons - if he could make it. He moved slowly. Inch by inch. Not making a sound. He reached his phone. He dialed. He called RobCon, the robot concierge service that ran the robots. He asked to have the Robots shut off immediately. Within seconds somehow you saw the life drain from the Wolfmen’s lifeless forms. Then he called Penstemons. The detective’s gravely voice was somehow comforting to Quinton. He’d send out a paddy wagon and confiscate the Wolfmen.
Marbara came running into the antechamber as they were being carted off. She had searched as much of the estate as she could on foot but she could not find the Bashlynn children. Quinton fell, too overwhelmed for words. Marbara came and sat next to him.
Soon, the Wolfmen were gone. Quinton and Marbara sat in silence in the antechamber. Quinton placed his hands in his face. His mind was full of questions. How could his robots be responsible for this? What is their motive? They were state of the art and gave such good massages, how could they take life? How could they orphan little Grass?
Even though the robots were in police custody, Quintons mind could not be eased. He had to find his children.
Quinton grabbed an old Winchester rifle from his study and set down the hall. “Hartlan, Rambutan?” He took careful steps. He heard a loud noise from the guest bath. He ran down the hall. It was the mummy bathroom attendant. They had been sitting, hanging out with headphones on, waiting for the next guest. After no one came for a while, they figured the party was over and were collecting their tips. They had dropped the iron pot. Quinton urged them to leave as soon as possible. He continued to walk down the hall and made his way upstairs. He couldn’t tell why, but something told him to check Rambutan’s room. And he found her there. She was lying on her bed in beautiful blue and white Russian silk and a long fishtail braid looking peaceful. Kecilia lay at the foot of the bed in all black with Baba Yaga’s long ears and hooked nose. The candle in Ramby’s skull lantern was down to the wick and the wax had hardened all over the wooden floors. Blood poured from their waists. Their innards, outside them, hung over their dresses.
Quinton ran to Hartlan’s room. His heart pounding.
As he slowly pushed the door to Hartlan’s room ajar, Quinton Bashlynn saw RED. Next he saw claws. Next, fangs. Then, as he lay on the ground, taking his last shallow breaths, he saw the full moon reflecting off his son’s window, the blackout roman shades drawn and his son, his little boy, his young buck standing above him - a Wolfman.
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