The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for. Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.
The lone wolf howls to rejoin the pack from which he is separated. But why does the pack howl when no wolf is lost?
Isn’t it obvious?
Because there is no other way to say it.
* * *
The night after the Harvest Moon, the body was discovered. It was nearing October and the sun was still hot, but the leaves were falling now with intention and every night was colder. Peter was walking home from the bus stop when he saw the flashing light of a fire truck up at Kilderry Park. He wondered if there had been an accident. Peter, who was seventeen at the time of which I’m writing, liked accidents: modern times were just so fucking structured. He saw in addition to the fire truck a few cop cars and an ambulance, but no signs of wreckage. He turned his head in passing, but there was nothing more to see beyond the norm. Two of the cops combing the area by the swings he knew; they’d hassled him a couple of times in that kind of obligatory cop way that, in Peter’s experience, every uniform was an SS uniform. Probably some junkie had OD’d or something. There was that bum who hung out around here, an old black guy with yellow and black teeth and one dead eye that looked like a dirty marble who might not have been old, really. Peter had given him a light once, but no change. Better that paid for his own drugs. His interest flagged. Old black junkie kicks it it’s no more news than chance of rain tomorrow. Then he heard it, one sentence. No sign of a weapon, Sheriff. Peter looked again but there was no more to see than a milling cluster of uniforms by the tree line and he put his hands in his pockets and went on.
He had a bad feeling.
Nicolae had always told him that he had been born with an unusually receptive Swadisthana chakra and that underneath the surfaces of things, the illusion of the illusion, there is a secret, sacred frequency of the universe and that the Swadisthana was the channel through which it would sing to you. And the Swadisthana being located of course just behind the balls, he should always always trust his balls. Peter did not know what it was, but something about the scene in Kilderry Park had his balls in a state of agitation.
When he got home he told his mother, “Something happened.”
“Hmm?” she said. She was smoking a joint and watching a quiz show. The trailer was warm and smelled sweet, pot and baked apple. “Hummingbird!” she yelled suddenly, in response to the question What is the only bird that can fly backwards.
He told her what he saw. He told her he had a bad feeling.
“Why?” she said.
“I don’t know, I just do,” he said.
She was thoughtful. “Well, there’s cobbler,” she said.
He went to the kitchen. She asked if he’d been in town.
“Yeah,” he said.
She emptied his backpack of items so small and modest it could hardly be considered stealing while Peter scraped the tar of sugar at the edge of the cobbler and tried to shake this feeling. The feeling that whatever had happened in Kilderry Park was no good. And not in some greater existential sense but no good with his number on it. There was a coffee mug on the counter with the comic strip character Cathy on it and a small chip the shape of a shark’s tooth that held loose change. He dipped his hand in the mug and went to the door and scattered a handful of coins on the stone path out front.
“Why did you do that?” said Lynda.
Peter shrugged. He had done it because he wanted to hear something dissonant and beautiful.
“You are one strange customer, you know that?” said Lynda.
“Yeah,” said Peter.
BRIAN MCGREEVY grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. Now a screenwriter who has had two screenplays featured on the best of the year Black List, he is working on an adaptation of Dracula for Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company. He lives in Los Angeles.