Tonight hasn’t been so bad. I mean, you have good days and bad days, right? Sundays are usually quiet around here but it’s not so bad, really.
The regulars are kind and generous with their tips, and even my boss, Robbie, isn’t so bad.
Sure he’s a little on the lazy side, and stares a little too long at my backside, but he always pays on time and lets me take any leftover food home with me.
I look up at the old, round clock hanging on the wall and sigh in contempt.
Only half an hour to go.
I stare at the last customer of the night, praying silently that he’s close to finishing. I grab the coffee pot and walk with a forced smile to approach the customer.
“More coffee, sir?” I plead with my eyes in the hope that he’ll say no.
“No thank you, my dear,” he says as he stands from the table.
I help him put on his coat and grab his umbrella. He hands me a ten-pound note and walks out the door without a word.
I put the money in the till and turn off the lights in the diner.
Afterward, I head towards the back of the diner where the kitchen is, and realize it’s only Terry and I left.
He’s looking at the schedule hanging up on the office wall with a look of dread on his face.
Terry sighs loudly as he looks at the dates he’s working. He’s worked at the diner for over thirty years, and not once has he had a day off.
His hair is starting to gray, but he can cook the most delicious food I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.
“Hey Terry, the last customer just left. Do you want me to lock up the diner for you?”
Terry waves at me but doesn’t look away from the schedule, “I’ll lock up the front, but could you do me a favour before you leave, dear?”
Before I can respond, Terry gathers six plastic bags full of trash and drops them at my feet.
“You want me to take these out to the dumpster?” I ask. I gather all six bags, three in each hand, and look up at Terry.
“Please? I would really appreciate it.”
He grabs his jacket, waves at me, and leaves.
I stare at the swinging door, dumbfounded, and shake my head.
With the bags still in my hands, I leave through the back and walk towards the dumpster. I scoff when I see that it’s pouring down rain.
Great. Thanks, Terry. Thanks a bunch.
I push open the top of the dumpster, and grab the first two bags to throw them in when from the darkness behind me, I hear the faint, unmistakable sound of growling.
I freeze, wondering if it was just my imagination playing tricks on me.
Terrified, I clutch the bags close and turn around, holding the garbage bags as one would a sword, ready to strike out.
As I open my eyes, I see the source of the growling. Standing not two meters away is the largest wolf I’ve ever seen.
I whimper in fright and slowly start to retreat backward, dropping my makeshift weapon as I go. I feel my back touch the dumpster and realize there’s nowhere for me to go.
Shaking in fear, I close my eyes, praying the wolf doesn’t see me as a threat.
Or worse, a meal.
“Please don’t hurt me,” I whisper repeatedly to myself.
Then I open my eyes and wish that I hadn’t.
Its eyes will haunt me for as long as I live. They are blood red, and filled with pure hatred towards me.
A dull shade of grey covers its whole body, with big chunks of its fur missing, like it had been ripped off.
The wolf looked as though it had scars everywhere on its body. How had it managed to survive this long?
I do the only thing I can think of. I kneel down on the wet floor with my head bowed down, in the hope it’s a sign of submission.
The wolf howls into the night and lunges for me.
I scream as it tackles me, but then it runs into the bushes and out of sight. I look in the direction the wolf ran and start laughing hysterically.
What the fuck…?
I shake my head and pick myself off the floor, my uniform completely ruined.
I check myself over, and that’s when I notice that my clothing’s been torn apart on my right shoulder.
Why does my shoulder hurt so much?
It looked as though something had taken a chunk out of my shirt.
“Ouch!” I wince as I touch my shoulder, seeing red liquid coating the skin on my hand.
Blood! Did it bite me!?
I look around, trying to figure out whether that had really happened.
Shaken, I chuck the last few bags in the dumpster, then grab my bag, lock up, and head home.
As I walk home in the dark, the rain no longer pouring, I look up into the night sky, and notice the full moon.