Steampunk and Monsters Part 3: Werewolves

    

Halloween is just a few days away,  and I’m ecstatic. I’ve loved Halloween since I was little.  When else can you dress up in costumes and drive around town without getting arrested? In honor of my favorite holiday,  I’m exploring another monster from mythology and folklore  –  the Werewolf.
    

Tracking the beast had proved easy. Silas found the tracks easily enough, boot prints spaced evenly in the snow. The distance between them began shirt,  indicating a walking pace; but after a mile,  the space between the footprints grew further apart,  indicating the person had begun running.    
      Through the underbrush,  Silas followed the prints, losing them occasionally,  but finding them again in the clear snow. Finally,  the prints led to a clearing.  Silas reached their end in the middle.  There,  the snow had been thrown up,  as if a struggle had occurred in that spot. The tracks of an animal led away from the location.  But no boot prints.  There was no indication of a body be in dragged,  nor was there even the slightest trace of blood.  
     The moon illuminated the clearing,  casting an otherworldly glow. It was bright enough in the clearing to see that aside from the sign s of struggle,  no other clue as to the whereabouts or wellbeing of the creator of the footprints could be found.
     Ahead,  the sound of a low growl caught Silas’ attention. The noise came from in the stand of trees directly in front of him.  He pulled his goggles over his eyes,  activating the night vision filter. He could see the bulk of an animal.  Large, shadowy,  it lurked in the wooded area.  It’s eyes glowed in the goggles,  a light,  eerie green.  There was an intelligence on those eyes; a sly understanding of who Silas was,  and why he was in the King’s forest. The Beast stepped into the clearing.  A wolf,  larger than any Silas had seen before.  It stood in the open,  snarling at the human.  Silas pulled his pistol,  and aimed at the creature. “I’ve been following you for a long time,  my friend.” his finger on the trigger,  he identified the creature. “I am here for you, werewolf.”

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     As monsters go, werewolves are an interesting concept.  Humans most of the time,  they are cursed with the ability to change their form.  Sometimes their change is voluntary,  and controlled; often the werewolf is at the mercy of their emotions, or the phases. of the moon.  In both novel and film,  they are often depicted as having a bipedal humanoid body with a head that appears to be a cross between a wolf and Bigfoot.
     Sometimes,  the curse of Lycanthropy is depicted with the cursed human turning physically into a wolf,  but much larger and more powerful ; it somehow  retains some remnant of their human psyche,  usually forced into a state of submission by their animal instincts. I prefer this type of werewolf.  The look is altogether more dangerous and frightening.

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     One thing going about werewolves that varies in the stories,  is how much of the human remains while in wolf form.  Dies the human retain any memories of their time as a wolf?  Does the wolf recognize the people and world around them?
     Of the monsters featured in literature and film,  werewolves seem to take a backseat to vampires,  zombies,  and ghosts. However books like The Howling, and it’s subsequent film adaptation create an atmosphere of dread and fear.  Strange noises in the night,  the monster stalking it’s prey –  all done by a being that wears both the skin of an animal and a human.
     The werewolf is interesting as a monster because the werewolf is a human. Sometimes painted as a victim,  with no control over its horrific transformation. The human lives in fear of losing control,  realizing the harm it has inflicted on others,  the lives taken.
     A steampunk based werewolf story could see werewolves working with humans in exchange for help to control their condition.  Tinkering scientists develop devices to control the change,  or at least allow the human mind to remain  intact after the change. Maybe the werewolves in your steampunk story are used to hunt down other supernatural creatures, using their innate abilities to “sniff out” those nonhuman creatures terrorizing the populace.

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And come on, this guy is just cool!

     The tragic nature of the werewolf make them equal parts terrifying and sympathetic. You find yourself rooting for the werewolf to survive, and for the humans they hunt to get away.  Well,  unless the true villain is being hunted,  then I say “Dinnertime!!!!”
     What is everyone’s favorite werewolf story/film/TV series?  Have any of you that write used werewolves in your story?

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